Sunday, October 28, 2007


Not how I thought I'd die but I'll take it.

At least that's what this site says. And hey, who am I to argue?

Starving Artists at a Comic Show

I went to a small comic dealer show in Fairfield, NJ after church today. It's a small bimonthly show with maybe 15-20 dealers. Bargains galore and good collector stuff. I find the big shows are sometimes too heavy on dollar boxes and not so heavy on good collector's items. Perhaps that's a sign of the times in the industry. Anyways, good mix at this show, and they do this cool little no-minimum-bid auction with some good stuff dirt cheap. But I'm rambling, because I'm going through this phase of not finding any comics I like. I think my continuing journey through Cerebus (all 300 issues) has sucked the life out of my fanboy side. So I bought almost nothing aside from a DVD my daughter wanted and an old Yellow Submarine Ringo/Blue Meanie figure. But I'm rambling again.

There were a few artists there doing their thing, though, so I spent most of my time chatting with them.

The point I'm leading toward (geez there had to be a point sometime) is that you can spend 10 bucks on dollar boxes or you can spend 10 bucks and support an indy artist and make his day. Having spent lots and lots of time on that side of the table, I know what it looks like, watching people walk past your table because it's the straight line between the dollar boxes and the 3-for-a-dollar boxes. Not really wanting to give you a a glance for fear that you'll talk to them Not wanting to express interest for guilt of not spending cash. Not wanting to give a few minutes time to look at work that this artist has poured his heart and soul into.

I bought some xeroxed prints from Dana Greene, who had studied at the NY school for visual arts. Once we began to talk he showed me a stack of photos of the celebs he's met at shows. He was painting an Iron Man shot at his table so I watched his technique for a while. I learned a lot. Gave him the Megazeen site to look at. Who knows what will happen?

Another artist, Michael Parla, was doing some amazing work with Prismacolor pencils and black cardstock. Really cool stuff, I'd never seen anything like it before. I bought three postcard-sized prints from him. So impressed was I that I stopped on the way home at the art store to buy some Prismacolor pencils and black cardstock. I gotta give this a shot.

The third artist (I did not get the name I'm sorry) had a portfolio of pinups and sequentials that I flipped through. We discussed inking techniques, the old "brush vs pen vs quill" debate to which there is no right or wrong, just talk of the trade.

This weekend I spent $55 having my Amazing Spiderman #129 professionally graded, and I spent 10 bucks on some indy artists. I wish it had been the other way around. And I resolve to make it moreso from now on. You should too.
Today's pic is the Sculpy version of Dean Rankine's Sticky Bunny, because I had an afternoon to kill.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Side Effects

I've had lunch with a former member of the Croatian mafia. I've met Kenny Baker (R2D2), Peter Meyhew (Chewbacca) and Rosie Perez (White Men Can't Jump). I've been a radio DJ, a comic book artist, a writer, a publisher. I've been a teacher with a captive audience. I've stood boldly on the streets of Philadelphia stating what I believe in and hoping others will too. I learned how to play basketball and played at 3 in the morning. I learned how to customize action figures. I've spoken with successful business leaders, politicians, evangelists and heavy metal guitarists. I've made friends with brothers in Taiwan, Cuba, Finland, Canada, Russia and the Bronx. I have had the honor of knowing some of the finest human beings God has created. I once went two days without sleep by consuming nothing but Jolt Cola, Yoo-Hoo and Scooter Pies. I married an awesome woman and have two terrific daughters.

These are just some of the cool side effects about being a Christian, that I would not have experienced if I were not.

So there.

The pic is of my character, the Manx, rendered by Keith Stone, whose work blows my mind.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


When we get in a group of believers and fake it. That's churchface.

I guy I respect a lot (more than he realizes) once shared with me the philosophy of "Fake it till you make it." He wasn't using it in church terms, but rather demonstrating how to handle myself as a manager. In essence, if you act like something that you're not, for long enough, you'll become that person. IE if I act tougher I will eventually be tougher.

Doesn't work. Basically, what happens is that you become something you weren't meant to be, you become a pale imitation of something else that you're just really not. So, instead of becoming a tougher manager, I learned to be a jackass, and I'm fighting every day to unlearn that.

In church, too often the same thing is expected. We learn to say words like "steadfast" and "travelling mercies" and "sanctified". We learn to pray like the others and do like the others so that we can feel like we belong with the others. But if you dress a chimp in a tux you've still got a chimp.

My wife and I are in a small group from our new church and we're truly enjoying the company of our newfound friends. Truly. The conversations are real and not held back. There is frank honesty, confession, heartfelt stories, true salvations from the depths. We can laugh and we can cry and we can talk about stuff that bugs us and not feel that it's un-Christlike to be stressed out about things. Other than the severely judgemental holier-than-thou types, I'd be hard-pressed to think of a person who would feel out of place.

And yet, I am feeling a little out of place. I practiced "fake it till you make it" for a little too long. Being among these fine folk has made me realize that. It bugged me as I was drifting off to sleep last night, that I could only get (and give) so much in this fellowship if I'm still, subconsciously, wearing churchface.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Musings at 39- Diversity

Recently I've been working with a guy, Joshua Warren. Despite many differences in opinion, differences in doctrine, and differences in creativity, we actually make a very good team. The evidence can be seen in the results of the revamp of the Megazeen site.

Joshua resides in Taiwan, but through the magic that is the worldwide web I've connected to him from the USA. Geographically, we live about as far away from each other as possible. Doctrinally, we disagree on rather important issues like heaven & hell. Our opinions on the 9/11 attacks have driven us to virtual message board fisticuffs.

To me, these are pretty important differences. They go beyond "Preferences" and push into "Principles" on many levels. See my entry on the subject.

How cool it is to sometimes still be able to get beyond these things, to get some awesome work done and have a great supportive friend to count on. Even if I disagree with him on a number of important subjects, passionately, I still covet his friendship and admire his skills.

Call me crazy, but I have this theory. I believe that there will be pre-trib and post-trib believers in heaven. I believe that there will be Catholics and Pentecostals and Baptists and Episcopalians in heaven. I believe there will be democrats and republicans in heaven. I believe there will be rockers with long hair and neatly dressed pipe organists in heaven.

Anyway, who am I to cut them off now? And why would I want to? If I wanted to only hang with those that agree with me and think like me, I'd start the First Church of Joe, membership of one, and call it quits. Pass the Kool Aid.

Talking with and conversing with Joshua doesn't change my principles. It has led to a few lively discussions for sure. And it has produced results. And it's made me a friend.

At 39 I am valuing friendships far more than I have ever in my lifetime, and appreciating the diversity. Far be it from me to allow differences in opinion, doctrine and geography to interfere.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Musings at 39- the Hollywood question

In 1991 I was at a Creation festival and Randall Terry was preaching. I'd had an admiration for Randall Terry for his pro-life message (I'll piss some people off saying "pro-life" since it's apparantly non-PC these days, but I'll live with that) but somewhere along it way it became apparant that Mr. Terry had lost his mind.

Case in point. As part of his message (the bulk of which I can't recall because it got so off-center) he began calling Christians to ban Burger King. Why for? Glad you asked. 1991 was the year Batman Returns came out. At one point in the movie the Penguin bites a guy on his nose. There were probably other reasons Terry had issues with the movie, but that's the one he spent loads of time on. And apparantly, Burger King had Batman Happy Meal toys or something.

It was at this point in my life, at that very moment, it was like an amazing rush of insight, that I realized how ludicrous it was that Christians wasted precious time on this kind of propaganda nonsense. So, when Mr. Terry asked those in agreement with his "ban" to stand up and be counted, I was the first to my feet. Here comes the punchline.

I was wearing a Batman t-shirt. Hee hee hee.

People, people... why are we so intent on making ourselves look more foolish with every turn? We're battling windmills when we should be saving lives. And they all know it. And they're laughing.

I'm never impressed with those Christians that introduce themselves with a statement like, "We don't watch TV" or "We don't go to movies." I'm not impressed. For the most part it's just lazy Christianity, like wearing an arrogant t-shirt or bumper sticker that tells everyone how much better YOU are. Christianity isn't a list of "I don'ts", or Hollywood protests and picket lines.

We have much bigger fish to fry.

There's a lot more to that Randall Terry story, but maybe I'll save that for another day.