Wednesday, November 5, 2008

God's Provision


I lost my job a few weeks back.

Well, I didn't lose my job. I know exactly where it is.

But every time I go there, someone else is doing it.

Anyway, the recent loss of employment was largely the reason for the suspension of my "presidential campaign" and the reduction in posts. It was very sudden and unexpected - coupled with the fact it was a very new job was very shocking for my family and me. A victem of the times, and I thought I was invulnerable.

I haven't taken two weeks off back to back since I was, oh, 17 years old. For the first time in my life I didn't know what I was going to do on Monday. And for a 55+hour a week workaholic, this was a living nightmare.

And then God showed up.

Of course He was there the whole time. But it was through this traumatic experience that my eyes were reopened to His great provision. I was reminded, as in Ps23, that he provides all we need, and penny for penny that was true. I was taught that I had developed quite an arrogance about me regarding my God-given abilities that I was no longer giving Him credit for. There's nothing quite so humbling as having a prestigious job title one week, and standing in line for unemployment the next.

My wife has stood by me like a rock. The kids never blinked regarding their faith in God and their dad. My mom kept me well-fed and in good company. And the outpouring of support from our church, family and friends has been stunning to us. Someone even anoymously paid for me to attend a retreat at church.

I am actually grateful now that this all occured - it has made me (I hope) a better human being, because I've become so much more reliant on God the provider. It opened our eyes to our wants versus our needs - and how we'd gotten to a place of spending unnecessarily simply because we could. It also opened our eyes to the needs of others, something we'd become far too smug about. God replaced fear with faith, doubt with promise, stress with comfort, and pride with humility.

I have now been blessed with a new position, far more suitable to my abilities and interests, and only five minutes from home. I can't WAIT to get started!!!

So I'm sitting here now, stunned with how cool God is, to replace something good with something better, and for allowing me to travel the desert for just a little while. It has changed me for sure.

And that's how cool God is.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Energy Crisis


The question of energy is one of the trickiest ones to tackle because it also overlaps with three other touchy subjects: the economy, the world market, and the environment.

Oil is the main culprit affecting all three. So the further we can get from oil dependence overall, the better. If we need less oil, we'll buy less from countries that hate America to begin with and begin to close the trade gap. It would wreak havoc with THEIR economy of course- but maybe it will teach them to play nice with others. It's for this reason also that we need to drill offshore and in Alaska.

I know people get all offended about what oil towers will do to the Alaska landscape - but seriously, show of hands here, how many of you have been there? Or will ever go? How much do you care really? Hey, I love bears too. But we bought Alaska for its resources. I think we can find the balance somehow.

More importantly, oil is in finite supply. We do keep finding patches of it here and there, off shore and in Alaska, but once it's gone, it's gone for good. The longer we can stetch the current supply the better.

In that oil is in finite supply, and is so expensive, and creates damaging effects to the environment, AND is chiefly in the hands of nations at odds with democracy, we need a solution that is renewable, cheaper and safer. Corn is an obvious one, as is wind power and solar. I'm finding it VERY hard to believe that we can't harness solar power more cost effectively. If I go to the beach I get burned to a crisp within a couple hours. Why can't we get that into buildings and cars?

Simple. Money. Solar is renweable and eternal. It puts oil companies out of business. But for the sake of the earth and our pocketbooks, we need to use solar.

One proposal my wife and I came up with was to shut down NASA for two years and put all their scientists on an energy quest. When they can figure out how to harness solar energy for the regular guy they can go back to figuring out how to get us to Mars. Believe me, I'm a huge space exploration fan, so the choice doesn't come easy, but at the end of the day the fruit will be there.

And since money talks, provide tax incentives and grants to companies puring R&D into alternative energy, and to businesses and homes applying these alternatives (installing solar panels, etc). Hiking up incentives for alternatives drives up demands, which drives up competition, which drives down costs and creates jobs.

And with that I am suspending my campaign, lest I pull any votes from the one guy that deserves to win... so sayest the Manx.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Joe for President


Who'd have thought that this whole thing could actually take off?

Check this out!

See you at the polls in Novemeber - remember, vote early, vote often!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mecha Manga in the Papers



Great article today in the Record, one of North Jersey's largest newspapers. We had a great time doing the interview at IHOP. It was one of those great opportunities to share our faith without sounding like kooks. Special thanks to Virginia Rohan for going the extra mile with this article. The picture above is Paul Castiglia (left) and me looking at MMBH and the printouts of Colossians. That's John-Marc, our publisher, in profile on the right.

http://www.northjersey.com/entertainment/books/31243844.html

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Our House


It's Still the Economy Stupid


By popular request (and when I say popular I mean only) I present Dr Doom. I betcha those two guys running for President right now aren't cranking out quality sketches like this, yo.

Speaking of Doom, it is essential to our economy that we stop sending jobs to Latveria, or India or China. Our country cannot survive this.

Small and large businesses alike, due to the advantage of a shrinking world, advanced technology and third world wages, have found a dramatic impact on their bottom line by manufacturing and even providing service overseas. I've worked for two traditional companies in recent years - one, a clothing company, saw a marked improvement in gross profit by setting up manufacturing in China - so much so that their former pride of everything being "Made in America" was tossed quickly out the window. Money talks. The impact was the elimination of no less than eight US jobs. The other company dealt in fresh produce, which does not allow the option of a six-week slow boat from China. Despite being ten times the size of the other company, they will likely barely be in the black this year.

While this may sound more like a recommendation FOR intead of against, one must look at the long range impact of closing automobile manufacturing plants and the like. The biggest one is the eventual oppressive unemployment in this country, which will mean less disposable income, which will mean less ability to buy the cheaply made goods in the first place. We're becoming a country of service-only jobs. All we do is move goods, sell goods, transport goods, talk about goods and services, provide services and count money.

We don't make anything anymore. Can't anyone see the problem with this? China is getting rich making product for us but buys almost nothing from us in return. Why would they? They can make it cheaper there. And they are smart enough to know that exports are GOOD, imports are BAD in the sense of a trade deficit.

As these other countries continue to make stuff for our country, they will want higher wages and will want to imitate our high standard of living. Freight companies will want a bigger piece of the pie. Goverments will want a bigger piece of the pie through tariffs. The gap will close.

What to do?

Again, I will likely not be getting the votes for President based on the reality of my platform, and will not make fans of businesses and trade unions. But I will not make promises just to get elected. To discourage a further hemmoraging of American jobs I propose a steep hike on import tariffs, to offset a reduction of employer-based taxes that will encourage hiring in the US. I will NOT raise the minimum wage during my term, in hopes of driving up a labor force to start actually manufacturing again. And I will propose credits for capital expenditures that businesses undertake to bring manufacturing jobs back to America.
We can't keep sitting behind desks, kids. We need to get back to the assembly lines.

Otherwise, we're Doomed.
Next up: Energy. Still taking sketch requests.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

It's the Economy, Stupid

Continuing to share my stand on the issues as I run for President, and I'm da bomb-a like Obama cuz I blog about it. Once again, a reprint of a post from elsewhere, with a few added nuggets of "wisdom." So you don't feel slighted, a quick sketch of Taskmaster, one of my all-time favorite villains.

The stock market is a gamble - it's people taking their money, dumping it into large companies (with no say in their operations) and hoping to turn it into a landfall.

The housing issue, which has caused the most damage to the stock market recently, is a direct result of a very poor mindset of greed and entitlement that Americans have. Buy furniture we can't afford, buy a house we can't afford, buy a wide screen plasma TV we can't afford, and figure how how, or IF, to pay for it later on. Banks catered to this greed by providing (IMO) criminal opportunities to borrow including ARM's. Retailers provide a new credit card with a $5000 credit limit at the checkout counter - the CASHIER approves it!!! And when it all goes bad, they turn to bankruptcy as the way out - something that used to rightfully carry shame but has almost become a right of passage.

Should we be surprised about the housing market when waitresses are buying up real estate in order to "flip it" for a profit? That's not the American dream. That's greed. Should we feel bad for a couple who gets evicted from their apartment because they're four months behind in the rent, and we watch them move out two computers, a Wii, a PS3, a monster TV and a stack of DVD's that could choke Godzilla? That's not the American dream, that's irresponsibility. It's a poisonous victem mentality.

The problem is that we as Americans are fat and lazy and live too well. We're told on one hand to live by our means, and the next second we're offered "no money down and no payments until 2010."


That's got to end, in the form of responsibility laws. In my plan, Adjustable Rate Mortgages would be outlawed and credit card interest would be capped at 15%. Each individual or family would be able to have a legal debt-to-income & asset ratio (on a sliding scale based on their income and credit rating) that would not exceed their ability to pay off. Once they have that max reached in credit cards and car payments, they're cut off - no more credit issued. Just like a drunk at a bar. Anyone exceeding their limit would be guilty of bank fraud and subject to penalties and prosecution. Any creditor knowingly issuing credit beyond the ratio is also subject to penalty. And as long as my healthcare plan goes through, there would not be a problem with unpaid medical bills (thus eliminating the unfortunate circumstances that might create a credit issue beyond one's control).


It would mean people would buy less - for a time. Believe it or not this is a good thing - it would drive down prices and put a vast number of Americans on a path to debt recovery. We have too much stuff anyway. But my plan also calls for the elimination of income tax on interest and dividend income for a family earning $125,000 or less - encouraging saving. Ain't that a novel idea?


Tune in next time for "It's Still the Economy Stupid" as we start to transition toward foreign policy. Ain't I a little smarty pants? Oh, if anyone has a request for a sketch I'll try to accomodate and post that too.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

It's Healthcare, Stupid

(This is a reprint and expansion of an entry from another forum. Just in case you feel ripped off, here's a recent sketch of Iron Fist to go with it.)

Regarding healthcare. I don't believe in universal, government-run general medical insurance (or government-run ANYTHING). Don't agree with me, ask a Canadian family with double our tax rate and a three-week wait to see a doctor.

The reason we buy insurance is that our medical expenses may exceed our premiums - in essence, a gamble. If somehow we manage to get through the year without needing major medical care or surgery, in essence we've "lost" because we paid more into premiums than we really needed to pay for doctors and meds. And for the most part that's true.

It wasn't that long ago that insurance was a rarity and deductibles were huge - it was set aside for the big stuff, not the trip to the local doctor for the sniffles. Insurance became more prevalent and eventually became the main way doctors got paid - so, doctors began to bill based on what a huge corporation could pay, tacking on extra tests "just to be sure", rather than what the local person could pay. Insurance needs to be higher that actual claims to pay its administrative costs (and huge corporate salaries). As both got richer they became the targets of lawsuits - thus malpractice insurance, which made it easier to sue, which drove up costs, etc etc.


In trying to level out medical expenses, we've created an even more expensive middle man.

So, in many ways, the health insurance industry, which was supposed to be a help, became its own problem. And you can't go back, because once you give a person something it's VERY hard to take it back.

No president can fix this - or rather, no president can promise anything other than band-aids and expect to get elected.


The root of the problem is a mentality that we are entitled to health insurance - we are NOT. However, it does seem that we should be entitled to some level of health CARE, and it seems that protection from sudden spikes in our personal health care costs (ie birth of a child, surgery, chemo, etc) can be provided for in the form of high-end insurance, at pennies on the dollar from what it costs now. This would result in the reduction of a massive infrastructure of health insurance administration, and reduce medical costs based on demand, not what a health insurer will pay. The government would continue to protect the elderly and disabled through Medicare, because that is the right thing to do, and offer this high-end protection to the rest of us (insurers would quickly follow suit). To encourage employers to stay involved, businesses would be offered double tax deduction on their employee's health insurance costs. Low-income families with children (based on regional poverty levels) would be eligible for some basic insurance as well, to ensure that Johnny gets to the doctor with the sniffles before it becomes pneumonia.


Incidently - providing universal healthcare for all of America, $150 billion. Compared with the $850 billion Wall Street bailout, one might wonder if we spent our money wisely.

I am strongly considering one VP candidate at the moment, in case anyone is interested.

Why I Won't Be Elected President

With all the back biting and lack of real solutions in the face of real problems in this most important election, I am doing my patriotic duty to declare, on this blog today, my candidacy for President of the United States.

What will follow are my takes on the problems that face our country and my proposed solutions. I won't be saying what I need to say to get elected. I will, however, propose to offer what I see as the real problems and present some potential solutions. And since I don't want to run a smear campaign, I won't talk about Obama or McCain until election day looms.

I will be looking for a running mate, by the way, and I have a very hot first lady.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Under the Category of "Who Cares?"

Was Jonah swallowed by a big fish or a whale?

Does the Tribulation come before or after the Rapture?

Should Christians allow their kids to Trick-or-Treat?

How should one dress for church on Sunday?

Was Goliath really from a race of giants?

What happened to the dinosaurs?

Did Jesus really turn the water into wine, or was it just grape juice since it didn't have time to ferment?

Did the Wise Men see a star, a comet or an alignment of planets?

If Jesus died on Friday and rose on Sunday, how can we call that three days?

Who did Adam and Eve's sons take as wives?

I'm sure there are more. But these are just some of the many, many absolutely ridiculous arguments Christians get into that mean a bucket of spit, and cause such massive divisiveness in the family that it can only come from the enemy.

Some might argue that some of these mean something. You have fun with that.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Where Is the Love?

Where is the love? It's there.

The question posed is absurd- if God took heaven off the table, would we still love Him? And what might that love look like? Absurd because God promises heaven. But the question begs because it makes me wonder, do we just do the paces for the eternal reward?

What is love? The tough part about defining love is that, in English, the word love covers a lot of ground. But let's take this to a level of the love a man and woman have for each other, for the sake of analogy to get a grasp on the subject.

Some say that love is not something you can control, that it's this weird spritual, emotional and physical magnetic cosmic fate. That's just stupid, although it makes for some watchable Hollywood fare. Some say love is an emotion that you either have or you don't. Some say they fell madly in love. Some say they fell out of love. Again, all indicating there's no choice in the matter.

I say love is proven by action, and that raw emotion without the mature choices made to act upon it is without worth. I say love is not the blushing bride who is worried about her hair and wedding dress, but the 70-year-old woman cleaning up her paralyzed husband of fifty years. I say love is not the starry-eyed young man trying to buy a woman a drink at a bar, but the husband who speaks highly of his wife consistently in public and in private. The wife who signs her husband up for art school. The husband who cheers on his wife as she pursues her masters degree.

Do we work harder at a job that we get paid more for, or one that we love?

Love is the actions of someone who is genuinely interested in the personal growth of the one he loves, even at the cost of potentially high personal sacrifice, and without the condition of return.

That's lofty. But that's how God loves us.

What if we loved God like that? What would that look like? That we would be interested in the growth of God's kingdom simply because we love him? Personal sacrifice? Unconditional? How much would it change our habits, our attitudes, our direction in life?

Egads.

How much greater can the motivation of love be over reward?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It's the Afterlife, Stupid

The quote that got me going was the following: "You'll die and go to hell if you don't accept Christ" is good enough for me, but I know others need more convincing." My interpretation for that statement is that the writer's sole purpose for being a Christian is the prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack church box. And thus began my pondering about exactly how much of a factor heaven should play in our walk with God.

In the Old Testament Heaven is mentioned as God's dwelling place several times, but - get this - exactly one time as the future home for the righteous, in II Kings 2:11 when Elijah is called up into heaven. Before that, there's really no indication in the Bible that that's where we're going, and until the New Testament it's not mentioned as such again (except vaguely in connection with the Hebrew concept of Sheol). Without stretching, that's it gang. Hey, naturally, if I'm mistaken about this please clarify, but I think i'm onto something here.

Now again, let me make this VERY clear, I believe that there is an afterlife, and that Heaven is the dwelling of place of God, and that those whose sins are washed by the blood of Jesus at the cross are admitted there. I'm NOT making these statements to question the existence of heaven.

I am, however, very interested in the faith of the Jews who loved God and (for the most part) did their best to obey Him without obsessing about the afterlife. In fact, they seemed a whole lot more interested in what was going on here on the ground. Huh.

So what was their motivation? Was it fear? Guilt? Manipulation? I think nothing so cynical as these, which might cause some to label me as naive, but hey- those same people would probably question the existence of God and heaven anyway, and they'd be wrong, so what care I?

No, I believe they walked the walk because they adored God.

They adored God. They were impressed with His majesty and His creation, and His promises and fulfilment of promises. They were awed by a God that created the world, and the sun and moon and stars, and who took a personal interest in them. They worshipped him like the God that He is.

It wasn't about heaven- it was about God.

I think heaven will be a great place, but the thing that makes it great is that it's where God lives.
So, I wonder, what if we explore that kind of faith? And so my question is this for tonight:
If God took heaven back off the table, would you still love Him?

Ah, but that requires that we define love. And that, I believe, will bring us closer to the core of what God has in mind for us.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Heaven or Hell


This week, I noticed what I think is a very basic problem with a lot of Christianity (not the message of Christ, mind you, but rather a problem with those that call themselves followers of Christ). I'm not quite sure why I never noticed it before.
John 3:16 reads "For God so loved the world that He sent His only son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." Nothing wrong with that, of course. But the hang-up I think a lot of us have is that our whole faith has boiled down to this, and while it's an important fact it's really just a piece of the whole pie.
I mean, do we really base our entire purpose for following God on the promise that we're going to avoid hell? Seriously?
Now I'll admit, I believe in heaven and hell. I think hell is someplace you DON'T want to go and heaven is where you DO want to go, particularly when you're talking about existing in wither place forever and ever. And I believe that the only way you get to heaven is by Jesus Christ's admission. Not a thing we can do to be good enough to get into that party, and that's that.
But is that really why we go to church, is that the only reason we pray, is that really all we have to offer someone when we're a witness for God? Is it just the difference between heaven and hell?
For me it is not. And when all of scripture is simply boiled down to the rewards in the afterlife, I believe we've missed the boat.
I'll be exploring this in the next few entries, and I welcome your comments and critique.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mecha Manga CowaBUNGA!!!

Ok, it's finally out, and it looks suh-weet!!! Getting lots of nice attention all over the net, radio, etc.

You can grab a copy online here at a steal for $2.25 (don't be fooled by the price- this is a high-gloss, full color, full size comic book). You can also find us at Revelation Generation at the end of August, or the NY Anime Festival in September. More dates to follow.


It is a great feeling when something you've worked on finally arrives in hard copy form. Nice job all around, and special thanks for JMG Studios for showing some faith in the creative team. No doubt it paid off.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Where'd July Go?


OK so I haven't posted in a month, but it's not because I went to be among the blog wannabes that lose interest quickly, nor is it because I have nothing to say. Rather, I've been off the wall busy. July was one of the most eventful months I've had in many many years.

In my personal life, I was offered a job at another company, as a controller, so I left my workplace of nearly 10 years for new horizons. So far, what a great gig. I'm finding myself using parts of my brain I'd long thought dead. It's so cool how God brings stuff like this together. Before starting at the new place, my clan and I got away for a week in Disney, once again, and it was the best vacation we'd ever had. On the way home in the plane my daughter and I watched Edward Scissorhands, so I drew him up.

In the comics realm, I'm working with a friend on a cool little online submission, more on that later. And Mecha Manga Bible Heroes is supposed to make its debut sometime around 8/11. I'll keep you posted on that none too.

The big update on Colossians is that the coloring for issue 1 is COMPLETE (thank you Mark Melton), as is the cover art (thank you Jeff Slemons). Now my buddy Joshua Warren is working up a logo, and I'm playing with the letters and editorials. So little stands in the way now to get this puppy out. Also, Dan Barlow has informed me that the pencils for issue 2 are cranking along very quickly- like, nearly DONE already! There are also some neat developments regarding the ongoing story and viability for the entire series.

Talk soon!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Digital Crack


I am a sucker for a good computer game, have been since I was a kid.

I remember jamming most of my meager pay as a dishwasher into the old Star Wars vectrex arcade game- that or Tron, or Tempest. We had "Intellivision" at home and countless hours were dumped into Dungeons & Dragons, Utopia and Astrosmash. When the first home computers came out I was hooked on Zork, Ballblaster, Shamus and Joust.

Later came Nintendo, and my hands would cramp up after hours of Super Mario 3, Batman and Battletoads. Then came PC's, and a miriad of dazzling choices- Age of Empires, Unreal Tournament, Half Life, SIMS, Jedi Knight, and Starcraft. Then along came MMORPG's and with that, my drug of choice, City of Heroes.


After swearing off COH (twice) I've hit on the Nintendo DS with Brain Age, Animal Crossing and, currently, Guitar Hero on Tour, which is just AWESOME!!!

But the time, the TIME, that gets pissed away on this stuff is staggering. I believe I could safely say I have lost at least one working year of my life. Probably two. Along with a couple grand worth of games, consoles and quarters.

I'm gonna go vomit now.

And play some more Guitar Hero!!! ROCK ON!!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Mecha Manga Bible Heroes Redux

I have seen the test copy... and it is good.

You can see the REAL copies of Mecha Manga Bible Heroes #1 around the end of July, in better bookstores everywhere.

You can also see us at Revelation Generation at the end of August.

And as we prepare for the big release, Tom and I are busy writing the next few chapters for the series. Without going into details yet, I can tell with with all certainty that what we've got planned will take what we started in the first issue to a whole new level.
It has been such an honor to be part of this project, watching the creative process from the point of view of a writer, in collaboration with my longtime friend, and then watching it come to fruition with a fabulous art team from beginning to end.
Just another one of those things that is SO cool about being a Christian, that I never would have experienced otherwise.
Oh, here's a little interview with our publishers.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Nothing to Fear

Today I took the family once again to the local water park, which is always an amazing bonding time, good excercise, and a lot of fun. I also use the opportunity, whenever we go, to face my greatest fear: I'm terrified of heights.

I don't know WHY I'm terrified of heights. Maybe it's vertigo, maybe it's the time I fell from a treehouse when I was kid. Either way, there it is. A paralyzing and annoying fear.

I say it's an annoying fear because fear limits us. It keeps us from experiencing something in life that might actually be good for us. If we allow fear to control us it limits our growth as a person. Fear can be our built-in excuse for NOT doing something. Fear keeps us in a safe, comfortable, boring zone.

As I climbed the four-story tower, the wind whipped past. I could see how much higher I got with every step, with a view of the ground between the grooves of the wood and the open rails. Looking up made me dizzy and made me realize how much further I had to go. Looking down made me nauseous and made me realize how far I had to drop. The entire structure shook with every screaming adventurer takig the plunge. Twice I stopped, assessed the situation, the value versus cost analysis. Twice I strongly considered turning back, and prepared my speech for my family who was waving to me from the ground.

I considered my eldest daughter's parting words: "Daddy, don't die."

And yet I finished the climb, pulling myself up step by step with both hands on the rail for balance and courage. It was me and the lifeguard, alone.

I walked to the rail to see how steep the drop was, and as expected, it was so steep that I could not see the entire slide from my vantage point. It was waaaaay up there.

Finally sitting down in the chilling rushing water, the lifeguard said I could go whenever I was ready. I wasn't. I looked behind me, hoping for an impatient guy standing behind whom I could give up my place in line to. No such luck. It was just me. I inched forward, dangling my feet over the abyss, the water force nearly pushing me through.

And in that final moment, I thought, why not?

I had already probably done the scariest part in the climb itself.

And it would all be over in a few seconds.

And if I allowed a water slide to paralyze me, how would I be able to ever face real situations in life? Like one I'm facing right now (more on that hopefully very shortly).

That last idea gave me the courage I needed to take a deep breath, cross my arms and let go.
Life's not meant to be a list of do's and don'ts, will's and won'ts.

Sometimes, it's just do's and will's.

Even something as trivial as the big waterslide means something bigger, and we all know that deep inside. It means choices: to live or to watch, to fear or to conquer, to jump or to cower, to experience life or read about it.

Which choice do you think would God have us make?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fanboy Weekend


Well, my long fanboy weekend has wound down. It was GREAT hanging with the guys. There's something about men being with men that just clears the head. Special thanks to all our wives & significant others for understanding our need to occasionally bond.

Friday in the city was a hoot- Jer and I visited Ground Zero and the 9-11 Tribute, which got me all riled up again. It's good not to forget. I almost pounded a middle-eastern guy trying to sell photo books of the attack on the trade center (it's not that I'm racist, but it was a bad tasteless combo, don't you think?). But then we went to some comic shops and I found my happy place. Bought the elusive Atomic Robo#3.

Saturday was just wall-to-wall comics, starting with the Big Apple Show, where I scared up some good cheap swag. Not easy given my Marvel & DC ban to find much of ANYTHING at a show like this, but I did manage to find a rare Sam & Max comic, an old Cerebus comic and a couple cheat art books, as well as a Gorilla Grodd action figure (he's DC, but since it wasn't a comic I'm good).

The coolest part of Saturday, though, was MOCCA (Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art). That's where all the cool (and uncool) true starving artist types hang out. The variety was dizzying. I picked up a bunch of free ad cheap comics, a couple handfulls of buttons and a t-shirt with a variety of cheeses on it. Got to meet Evan Dorkin (Milk and Cheese). Grabbed a bunch of ultra-indy works like the Mighty Skullboy Army, Breathless, Harvest and one where Johnny Cash fights a killer ostrich.

Saturday night was kind of a working meeting with Tom and Jeremy as we worked out some kinks in the script for Colossians, so I can proceed with it. More on that later.

The Clifton show was pretty much a bust, since everyone was in the city for the day, but it was still great getting together for lunch with the gang one last time before real life catches up again. See the massive hordes of fans above. They need to do something about crowd control next time.

There are more shows coming up- looks like us Mecha Manga Bible Heores guys will be appearing at the NJ Super Mega Show in July, and at Revelation Generation in August. Maybe we'll see ya's there!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Rant n Rave- The Diet

I know someone who says he's on a diet, working hard to lose weight. There are three big bags of snacks at his desk- but they're from the health food store, because he's on a diet. He opens his day with a big ole iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts, loaded with cream- "Hey, if I don't I won't wake up!" He's got Crystal Lite at his desk, loaded with Nutra-Sweet which your body has NO IDEA how to digest. He orders a LARGE Chef's salad and eats every roll of ham, cheese and every crunchy crouton soaked in Creamy Italian- but it IS a salad, after all. About mid-afternoon someone makes a dash to Dunkin and yet another iced coffee appears. And before he left work today he ordered Chinese for delivery at home, you know, "for his family" (HE won't eat it).

But, since he SAYS he's on a diet, then he MUST be on a diet. Stupid scale. On a diet for a week and he gained three pounds.

Sounds ridiculous and laughable and even... hypocritical.

Now you know where this analogy is going.

Let's say I know a guy who says he's a Christian. He goes to church in his new SUV but can't afford the tithe. He WANTS to do ministry, but life seems too busy. He curses at work and speaks unkindly to people. He belittles a waiter at a restaurant, but then says grace openly and leaves a tract with his tip. When he's at home he opens his eyes, his mind, even his refrigerator to all sorts of inappropriate things, but his Bible is ever-handy, near the door so he doesn't forget it on his way out the door next Sunday.

But he goes to church, so he MUST be a Christian.

Right?

Friday, May 30, 2008

One Weekend- Three Cons


The Megazeen Team will be wreaking havoc next weekend in the New York area.

On Friday 6/6 you might spot us at Jim Hanley's Universe or Mid-Town Comics among other stops as we do the tourist circuit of New York City.

On Saturday 6/7 we're hitting two comic shows, not as dealers but as fanboys, hobknobbing with the goobersmoochers as it were. Look for the "Suck it Up" Megazeen T-shirts and say "hi" at MOCCA and Big Apple Comic & Toy Expo! And hey, if we get a chance to shave our legs we might even cosplay!

Finally on Sunday 6/8 we've got a table at the Clifton NJ Comic Book Show, thanks to our buddy JP. We'll be selling swag, drawing, reviewing artwork, and talking about a few upcoming projects, including Colossians, Megazeen: The One Page Issue, Megazeen: The Christmas Issue, Eagle All-Star #2, and KING!

In attendace: myself, Jer "Freak Accident" Zehr, Tom "So Blame Him" Hall, Keith "Inkboy" Betancourt, and Jesus "My Thong's Riding Up on Me" Marquez,

Friday, May 23, 2008

Freak Accident Podcast

My buddy Jeremy Zehr and I were supposed to do a roundtable discussion about comics n stuff, but it ended up just being me and him, so we talked about Colossians and Megazeen and comics and movies and American Idol (unless Jer edited that out, which I'll be grateful if he did).

So if you want to hear my voice talking about my favorite subject- me- tune in!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

If You Want Something Done "Ehhh"


If you want something done right...the classic completion to that, of course, is "do it yourself." But managing a multi-million dollar company for years, and being the editor of the longest-running Christian anthology comic alive, I can tell you that's rarely the case. It's usually ego, pure and simple. I'm more of the persuasion that it takes a village to raise a child- a team of well-assigned and well-trained experts to get a job done well.

As we were driving to "Positive Puppy Training School" (long story and I think there's a sermon in there somewhere), my wife asked me, "why didn't you just draw Colossians yourself?" Logical question. I'm not the worst artist I know by any stretch. But my attachment to the story, crossed with my own personal disatisfaction with my art (a problem that haunts many artists) was paralyzing the project. So, before Colossians languished further, I took the advice of Richard and Wendy Pini regarding Elfquest...

Deep breath... and let it go.

My two pencilers- Kneon Transitt and Dan Barlowe- have no long history with the characters and are very efficient and consistent artistically. They both simply like the part of the story they're drawing. No preconceived notions. Let 'er rip. And they have.

The next question made me think a little more. "What if the artist draws something you don't like?" Excellent point. After all, with literally 25 years of experience with characters like Foxx, Savage, Trogg, JazzMan and Stasella Paine to go on, what if the artist just didn't nail it just right?

The answer to that is that it's all in how you look at it.

If I wanted the characters drawn MY WAY, well, I should draw em myself, right? But since drawing them myself wasn't working I've got two real capable guys lending a hand. Rather than be the anal controlling guy, I found it was easier to chuck my ego out the window and just let the art happen. I wanted Kneon and Dan to have FUN drawing it- the hopeful result being a fun book to read. And it worked.

As an interesting side effect, for me- it was like reading my own story for the first time. This has given me a little more of the perspective of the first-time reader, which has certainly helped in developing a story that's for fans.

The creative process in comics continues to fascinate and excite me. I believe Colossians is happening as it should, and the results should be pretty durn skippy.

The image above is my original concept for the cover art for Colossians #1 (penciled, inked and marker colored by moi). While I don't think it's too shabby for a rough, I have to say I'm glad I've got a TEAM to make the vision come to life.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Colossians #1- Cover Preview


If good things come in threes then maybe Colossians is a good thing. Last Tuesday I finished the inks for issue 1, Wednesday I received the first few penciled pages of issue 2, and last Thursday I got the pencil sketch of the cover for the first issue, courtesy of Jeff Slemons.


I won't show you the whole thing, since the scan is a little grainy and, hey, we've got to have some surprises when this thing hits the stands, right? What you're seeing is a giant ape named JazzMan that makes life pretty rough for our heroes for the first several pages. If all goes well, he'll also play a part later in the series, in a 4-issue arc called Fire.


Most of my comic efforts for the next few months will be on Colossians, including a website, a MySpace, and of course the lettering and back-up features (sketchbook, fan art, commentary, etc). I'll continue to preview elements of the book here and discuss progress. If there's anything specific you want to know about, please post a comment and I'll do my best to answer.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Colossians #2- Penciler


A few months back I talked about how Colossians is envisioned as an ongoing series, with my concentration right on the first story arc, which will take us through issue 5, and that there would be other Megazeen artists on deck for each issue. Up until now I haven't named them, but since I just received the first 6 pages of pencils for issue 2 on Wednesday, I know it's a sure thing, so it is with great honor that I announce the penciler for issue 2 is none other than Dan Barlow.


Dan has been a regular on the boards for a long time, and has produced work for the three most recent issues of Megazeen (Frank Gun in the Horror issue, the cover of the Failure issue and Hair of the Dog in the sci-fi issue). Dan has the consistency, the vision, the absolute chops to make it in the long haul.

Seeing Dan's work on the second issue was awesome. I won't talk about them in too much detail, since it won't mean much until you've all seen issue 1, but Dan's another one of those artists (much like Kneon) that clearly enjoys playing in other people's sandboxes. What he's done in the backgrounds, the wardrobe selections, and the redesign of one of my characters (she will debut in issue 2) shows me he understands where we need to go with Colossians.

Dan's style certainly differs from the first issue, which is well-suited. Issue 2 will take some decidedly dark turns in the storyline, and expose a lot more about the uncomfortable backgrounds of Foxx, Savage and the Manx. This will also set up the action-packed twists that come in the third and fourth issues.

Dan's preliminary character sketch of Foxx is attached.

So things are rocking along pretty well with this book at long last!!! But that was Wednesday. I got another surprise in my email on Thursday that, believe it or not, made this whole thing that much better!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Colossians- INKS COMPLETED


I'm embarrassed to admit it has taken me, get this, four years to complete the inking on Colossians #1, with a large chunk of it getting done in the past six months. This was the final panel I had to knock out, from page 11 of the first issue. In this shot, the Manx is leaping onto a rooftop to surprise some unsuspecting thugs.
I love working with ink. If my fingertips are black, I've had a very, very good day.

Working on Kneon's pencils has been a real privilege and learning experience. His work is tight and precise, an odd blend of cartoon and old-school classic style, which is what convinced me to ask him to do the work in the first place. His art sets the right tone for the book- it's fun but gritty, and very creative. I used a blend of pens, brushes, markers and quills to make his work pop.

Now that the inks are done I can move onto perhaps the toughest part of the project- believe it or not, there's NO SCRIPT for issue 1. Seriously. Not kidding you. Kneon drew these pages based on a loose plot synopsis that was about 3 pages long (including character descriptions). So in classic backwards Megazeen fashion, draw first write later.
It's not that there's no story of course- the story is actually a very involved and detailed mythology that will take these characters in a lot of weird directions, should it become the series I've envisioned. It's just the dialogue and narrative that I've got to get going on, so I can add the letters and get it off to the printer. And just as I've dipped into some of the best Megazeen talent so far (Kneon, Mark Melton on colors, and Jeff Slemons on the cover), I'll be tapping into the best writers I know to help be finish my baby.
Oh, by the way, I finished the inks on Tuesday. Wait till you find out what showed up in the mail on Wednesday... it makes completing this issue a lot more urgent.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Restriction or Freedom


As editor of Megazeen I receive a few submissions a week from guys (mostly guys) who want to draw comics. I am not the best writer that I know and certainly not the best artist, so critiquing these submissions can be very awkward for me- I mean, who am I? But the fact is I am the editor of Megazeen, so my call (whether right or wrong) counts for something. I guess.
The hardest part, for me, is taking a look at work that really has no true vision. It may not be that the artist has no vision, but the work is like watered down iced tea. This seems to be a trap that many believers fall into when it comes to Christian comics. The artist, whether consciously or not, finds Christianity to be restrictive with regard to art and possibly in regard to life.

That's so unfortunate. Following Christ should not be viewed as adhering to a long list of rules and expectations. It should be viewed as freedom from the bondage of sin. When you're free, life is good. When you're free, you can have fun and enjoy life. Sure there's rules- but keeping in line with them simply accentuates the good life we've got.

(Side note: I remember the old comic strip Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson. Calvin invented this game called Calvinball, and would make up "the rules" as he went along, and conveniently void those rules when the game wasn't going his way. The strips moved at a maniacal pace and were hysterical- but when you read them, you realize Calvin really wasn't enjoying the game at all, and he'd inevitably get into a fight with Hobbes over it. However, usually Hobbes or Calvin's babysitter would start out frustrated with the game but could turn it to their advantage once they caught on.)

That said, I'm still surprised with the number of submissions I get that are tired old versions of the same old stuff, more suited for a church bulletin than a raw indy zine.

I don't want a strip that's going to make some old lady chuckle (the old lady who sits in the third pew every Sunday wearing her purple blazer and a hat, by golly a hat). I want a strip that's going to make a skateboarder spurt milk out of his nose.

I don't want a tired old sermon about Hell and fear of it. I want something that will scare the pants off someone for real and get under their skin. I'm not interested in the third-hand polished-up retelling of someone else's testimony- I want to read a real story story from the heart, warts and all.

I don't want a bunch of inside jokes about Vacation Bible School or the church collection plate, or old cliche's with an angel on one shoulder and a demon on the other. I don't want church talk with words like sanctification, consecration, condemnation, salvation, revelation, new creation, glorify, edify... am I making a point here?

I want YOU. And I think God does too. And I don't think God is in the least interested in entertaining Christians with safe little comics that make the old ladies chuckle politely.
This is obviously a lot heavier than a single entry, so expand on some of these points in the weeks to come. The point of this series is NOT to discourage or make anyone feel bad. The point is to encourage you to get in touch with true storytelling vision, true artistic vision. Don't allow tradition to dictate what's acceptable.

Let's play Calvinball.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Musing at 40- Taking Risks

There have been some recent events in my life that have led me to conclude that I have been leading a wonderfully comfortable, safe and satisfying life. However, the fact is that God doesn't call us to comfort, safety or personal satisfaction, at least for their own sake.

Ripping off a little of my pastor's recent series of sermons on Ecclesiastes (my favorite book in the Bible), most of what we do, just for the sake of doing it, is meaningless. We get up, shower, get dressed, eat some food, drive to work, get annoyed, drive home, eat some food, watch TV, go to sleep, lather, rinse, repeat. Yaaaaawwwnnn.

When you look at it this way, that's a pretty meaningless existence. We have a limited amount of time on the planet to live, to make a difference, to affect lives, to use the gifts God's given, to plow a counterculture. How much time can we really devote to the mundane 9-5? How interested is God in this kind of life?

There comes a time when you have to start putting things on the line. Mundane efforts get mundane results- they put food on the table and buy a few creature comforts but little else. Radical risks can result in radical rewards or, of course, radical loss, God willing. Either way, it sure keeps things interesting.

Up until very recently, turning 40 meant resigning myself to comfy, safe and satisfying, which didn't seem SO bad. But now, today, that has changed. I am determined to make the next 10 years a decade of impact and personal transformation. I have been placed in some very unique leadership roles and presented some very unique opportunities. It is time to capitalize on these things. It's time to take some chances and see what God does with it.

I know that many artists and friends read this blog, and I'll let you know, too, that I will not be stopping with myself. I will be extending my personal challenge to those around me, to see what a difference we can make together. We're going to do some crazy things, and then we're going to kick back and watch what God does with it. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

In a nutshell: I am 40.

Youth is wasted on the young.

So I'm stealing some back.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Timely Reminder


I was planning to skunk out on Free Comic Book Day today. There. I admit it. Something got into my ego, and I forgot that the reason I do comics has never, ever been about doing comics.

For four years running New Moon Comics has welcomed the Megazeen team into their store to do sketches and sell books and talk to people. It is a small store in a new location off the beaten path. I came to the conclusion a few weeks ago that the store would probably not be well-traveled enough to bother this year. That and my wife and I had plans for the past several weekends that sent us down different paths, so I was setting aside some quality time.

But this morning, the weather was crummy, and Marie confessed she needed to do some shopping for my birthday tomorrow (have I mentioned I'm turning 40?), and would I like to join my friends at New Moon for a while?

Dude, I couldn't pack my gear fast enough, and tears of joy literally were rolling down my face as I drove down to Wayne.

A small group of young kids came in early, so I got to draw Spiderman, Wolverine (twice), Luke, Artoo, Boba Fett and a Skrull. Sold a couple books and pins which was sweet. Then my buddies Jesus Marquez, his fiance' Jennifer, and Keith "Inkboy" Betancourt joined us and we all had a blast. The crowd was light as I expected, but it was good because we actually got some time to talk.

Turns out Jesus is preaching for the first time at his church tomorrow. I really wish I could be there for myself to see it. He told me he's preaching about "Transformation," so I was thinking he's got to be using some kind of Optimus Prime references. "Actually," he said, "Part of my sermon deals with you."

Que?

Jesus told me about how part of true transformation requires accountability. Someone to mentor you, to push you to be all you can be. For him, he said, that's a lot of what I do for him.

And there I was reminded why I do what I do once again. It's not about volume, about comics, about publicity. It's about friends. And I drove home, again with tears in my eyes.

Then my ultra-cool wife brought me to see Iron Man. I'm not a movie critic, there are professionals for that. I will say great flick. I will also say that, if you wait through all the credits, you'll be very, very happy you did.

I believe that today, my final day of my thirties, is a precursor for what is to come in the next decade. I think I now know what it's shaping up to be and what God has been shaping me to be. I look forward to it now with far less depression, a little more healthy fear, and a lot more hopeful anticipation.

He I Are Now, Entertain Me

To keep myself entertained, I'm watching the new Battlestar Galactica series, which is just amazing. I'm in the midst of watching Season 2.5 on DVD and the current eps on SciFi. It just never seems to go in the direction I think it will, which is one of the best parts.

I also bought King Kong at Blockbuster last week. The young whipper snapper of a clerk looked at me and said, "Um, you know this isn't the new one, right?" and I said, "Oh, yeah, know." And he said, "It's also not the original form the 30's," and I said, "Yeah, I know, it's the one from '76." And then, just to try to make his real point, he said, "But, this is the one that, um, sucks!"

What he doesn't know about me is that that's not a warning, dude, that's a sales pitch. Best four bucks I'd spent since lunch!

Comics... Tales from the Farm (Top Shelf) was a great read. It moves quickly for a graphic novel, which is fine because it allows more time to re-read it.

Musings at 39- the Final Day's Activities

It is the last day of my thirties today. I'm looking forward to a nice birthday weekend- I'll be heading in to New Moon Comics again for Free Comic Book Day to do sketches with Jesus and Keith for a little while. I really enjoy those days- there's nothing like getting face-to-face with people and being able to use your God-given skills to make then happy. I'm hoping that I don't have to draw Spongebob too much.

After that, my wife is taking me on a date to see Iron Man, which looks awesome!

Let's see, what else has been happening... I visited the New York Comic Con a couple weeks ago, not as an exhibitor but as a fan, which was simultaneously very depressing and very freeing at the same time. I got copious amounts of time to visit with other artists and vendors and came hoe with some real interesting swag. The hard part, of course, was being there without Megazeen. I'll fix that next year.

Colossians is wrapping up- Mark has broken into coloring the second half of the story and the results are just amazing. I have three pages left that I need to ink the stoopid backgrounds.

I'm also in the midst of reading some scripts and plot synopsis by a very talented writer. Truth be told, I have the attention span of a gnat, so reading scripts usually doesn't work out too well, but this is some good quality stuff, and I'm trying to wrap my brain around drawing one of them if I can.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Numerology? Probably Not But...


Interesting little Megazeen history lesson here.

In 1996 I responded to an ad in the back of Sam Kieth's The Maxx. Seems this kid in Arkansas wanted to start a Christian anthology comic book. The kid's name was Joseph Crossett, and together we published Cross Press Comics Magazine, a weird little b&w comic. He was 17. I was 27.
Issue 2 was planned but never happened. Joseph went to college. My wife and I had another kid. And life went on.
Six years after that initial contact, Joseph and I caught up with each other once again. Joseph's vision was an all-indy, non-cheesy raw Christian zine. In 2002 Megazeen was born. And it has been going strong for years.
Joseph and I are two stubborn dudes, let me tell you. So at some point we got tired of butting heads and went our seperate ways.
Until last night. Another six years. Coincidence?
Joseph is now pushing 30, and I'm a couple weeks shy of 40. When I say that somehow God keeps jamming the two of us together I really know that it's true. When I say I expect some amazing things to come from it I know that's true too.
And this time, we're going to let God do the driving, and stay out of his way.
Cross Press. Megazeen. What's in store this time? Keep watching. I know we are.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Fighting the System- Easier Done Than Said

Back in January I announced my plan to boycott all products Marvel and DC. I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support. I want to let you all know I'm doing well, my health is still strong, I do not have the DT's.

I also quickly recanted my boycott for a singular exception, which was Tiny Titans by the fine guys at Blindwolf Studios. This book, while a quick read, is also a cheap read, and a darn entertaining read. I love everything about it. Tiny Titans goes far beyond cute cartoons, it plays into the mischief and innocence one would truly expect from children with super powers, and it is hysterical. Many of the gags call longtime DC mythology into question with hillarious results. I have no idea where they come up with this stuff, and then how they can execute it so simply and brilliantly. I hope DC has some smarts and keeps Franco and Art working for a long long time.

Here's a few more books I'd highly recommend you DON'T overlook while you ponder wasting your hard-earned cash on every "Secret Invasion" cross-over Marvel can regurgitate onto the shelves (seriously, what were they thinking? "Hey guys, remember that disaster in Fantastic Four about 20 years ago, when we had screwed up the book so bad that we had to make Alicia Masters a Skrull to clean it up? Let's ramp it up into an all-year event! Fanboys will be lining up for miles to read this crap!" And they're right, darn it all).

Anyway, sorry for the strange interludes. My recommendations go to:
Atomic Robo (Red 5 Comics)
Mice Templar (Image)
Return to Wonderland (Zenescope) (this one is not for the squeamish)

Peace!

PS. I'm a Skrull.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Colossians- Progress Report


For years now, since the start of Megazeen, my emphasis in doing comics has been to promote and assist other artists. I believe that's my calling even, it's where God wants me to be. I get excited when artists start out in Megazeen and then branch into other areas. I started offering Megazeen print services for the sole purpose of providing inexpensive printing for my friends. I revamped Christiancomics.net so they'd have a place to meet and grow. And we still do Megazeen to find and push new artists to new limits. It's not a pat on the back I'm giving myself by any stretch, and I certainly know that I have not done a perfect job with any of these things.

I guess that's why it's been weird, for me, even a little self-indulgent, to actually be working on my own pet project in the background. And it has taken a long time to get this ball rolling, with all of the above taking place. But finally, unless something goes seriously wrong, Colossians will finally come out this year.
Thankfully, it has not been a solo effort- the very best Megazeen has to offer have been lending a huge helping hand to make the first issue a success. The inks are complete, the colors are halfway done and the lettering is underway.
I'm not going to be one of those guys (I hope) that adds yet another plug to his blog every other day about the same old project. I'm still to busy for that. I'm also not going to be one of those guys to drop those taunting little "we've got a big announcement we just can't talk about" blurbs that rarely materialize into anything. As Colossians draws closer to completion I'll keep you involved. I will be shopping for a publisher- if that materializes I'll let you know, otherwise I'm sticking VERY proudly with self-publishing.
Anyways, for those that have been dropping a line wondering what's happening, here's a page of interior art- drawn by Kneon Transitt, inked by me, colored by Mark Melton. In this scene, a group of alien thugs are finding out the hard way what it means to take on the Manx.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Still Don't Get It

The whole thing just doesn't make any sense to me. Try and follow this.

God creates the world and sets up a paradise situation. He creates the first couple of people, who basically have three things they're supposed to do- name the animals, eat and have sex. They have one rule- don't eat the fruit. They just HAVE to disobey that one rule to ruin everything. God casts them out but still loves them

The world gets so screwed up that God decides to wipe it out and start over, but has compassion on one family. He instructs them to build an ark to save their lives as well as many animal species they'll need to survive. Seems like a good restarting point, but they start sinning the minute they get off the boat.

Time goes on. The Israelites turn against God and worship a cow, even after he displayed his amazing power and got them out of slavery. Then Moses screwed up, David screwed up, Solomon screwed up. Ninevah, Sodom, Gomorrah. The list goes on and on. Mankind has demonstrated an ongoing penchant for having no respect for God. They have demonstrated that there is no way possible they can even earn their way into his good graces again. And yet he loves them.

He loves them so much, SO MUCH, that he comes up with a last ditch effort, one more desperate plan, to bring them back in. He comes to Earth as a baby. One minute he's in heaven, the next he's in a cold smelly barn. His life is instantly threatened and his family has to disappear for a while. He grows up as a carpenter's son in poor surroundings, likely amidst whisperings of the odd conditions of his miraculous birth. And yet he loves them.

When he decides to start preaching he's rejected more than he's accepted. They try to run him off a cliff. They drive him out of town after town. His disciples demonstrate no faith in him and no understanding of who he is or what he stands for. And yet he loves them.

He arranges a meal to explain his ultimate fate, and during the meal one of his dearest friends leaves to betray him. He's arrested and thrown in prison, and dragged around from one puppet court to another. He's beaten with whips woven with jagged stone and glass designed to rip flesh from bone. His beard is ripped out of his face and a crown of two-inch thorns is pressed into his scalp. And yet he loves them.

The crowd has an opportunity to free him and they choose a hardened criminal over him. And yet he loves them.

In his physically weakened state, he drags a cross through town amidst mockery and beatings. He's stripped naked. He's strapped to the cross, and huge rugged spikes are driven into his hands and feet. He looks down on the people laughing at him through his blood-soaked eyes as he pitifully tries to push himself up to gasp for breath. He asks for water and they give him vinegar. "Forgive them father, they don't know what they're doing." And yet he loves them.

And then he dies, so that all that sinning can be paid for with his blood.

And then he comes BACK and people still don't believe it and keep right on sinning.

And yet he loves us.

Man... I get bent out of shape if someone takes the last bagel at work.

I don't say that to make a joke of it at all. I'm just saying that after ll these years, I STILL can't fathom the unconditional love that God has for us.

Happy Easter all.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Megazeen - Sci Fi Issue Premiere


I am excited to announce that the fifteenth regular issue of Megazeen is now available.

It's the biggest Megazeen to date! Tipping the scales at 44 pages, Megazeen returns with seven new stories in "The Sci-Fi Issue." Wall-to-wall aliens, monsters and weirdos! Featuring an amazing cover by Jeff Slemons and the following stories:

ALIEN IN THE COMIC SHOP - Tom Hall, Joe Endres, Jesus Marquez, Keith Betancourt (Third Place Winner 2006 Comic Jam War)

CHILD ROWLAND TO THE DARK TOWER CAME - Ben Avery, Mike Murphy

RITES OF PASSAGE: THE ORIGIN OF SPACELAD - Frank Humpris, Henry Chmielefski

HIS BOY ISSAC-ROY - Jamie Cosley

DEATH WISH ON ASTEROID 14532 - Ben Avery, Mark Melton

HAIR OF THE DOG - Dan Barlow (Hall & Endres script)

ZERO PERCENT SOLUTION - Steve MacDonald & Veli Lopenon

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Larry Norman

Larry Norman, also known as the Grandfather of Christian Rock, went to heaven Sunday night at age 61. Rolling Stone Magazine had named him the second most important songwriter next to Paul Simon. Nothing for nothing, Paul Simon's got nothing on him.

Larry never got the respect or recognition he deserved, and frankly I doubt he wanted it. He sang gorgeous, hopeful songs of the rapture and the second coming and fearful songs of the end times, songs that pleaded for salvation, songs that showed us how cool it could be to be a Christian and how uncool it could be to NOT be one. He'd make you laugh. He'd make you cry. His way of speaking was simple, his faith simple, his message so simple.

I had the good pleasure of seeing Larry in concert twice. His peaceful voice got straight to my heart so many times. He is a large reason I do what I do. A quote from his song UFO is the basis for my upcoming comic book series Colossians.

I am truly at a loss for words for what a tragic loss this world has suffered with his passing, and so grateful to Larry for his obedience to God and what his songs have meant to us.

I Hope I See You in Heaven, Larry. Thank you so much.

If you appreciated Larry as I did, you can leave his family a message at his message board off his home page.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Makin' Waves with Mecha Manga Bible Heroes


A few weeks back I talked briefly about a comic I co-wrote called Mecha Manga Bible Heroes.

The bad news is that Diamond Distributors decided not to carry it.

The good news is that lots of other right-thinking distributors and stores WILL be carrying it, and once the press release came out, everyone started talking about it!


How bout THEM apples chump?

Superhero Quiz


Go ahead and take it!
http://www.thesuperheroquiz.com/

Apparantly I'm Spiderman... although Supergirl and Catwoman tied for a close second.
I think it was because I admitted to wearing a thong.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Musings at 39- Concerts


As the dad of teen and pre-teen daughters, one of the inevitable events has come to pass. It is the dreaded concert scene. We're talkin mondo bucks here people. Seriously. But hey, that's what second mortgages are for. In this case, it is the Jonas Brothers, one of whom my youngest is quite convinced she will marry.

Personally, I'm just glad I didn't need to endure Hannah Montana.

It brought me back to my first big concert, which was in 1985 at Nassau Collesium: Prince and the Revolution, with opener Sheila E, on the Purple Rain tour.

Sheila E, by the way, was worth the price of admission alone (I believe the tickets were about $85, which was a huge chunk of change for a $3.35 minimum wage part time dishwasher like moi). But as the electric organ held its first note to "Let's Go Crazy", and the lasers and smoke poured fourth, and Wendy and Lisa and the Doctor rocked in sync as the purple one rose up through a trap door in the floor, it was pure magic. They continued through his huge catalog of music for the next three hours, hitting fans with twenty minute renditions of "I Would Die 4U" and others, joined onstage by Jerome and Sheila E toward the end. Say what you want about Prince- he is a master entertainer.

I guess it is one of those "coming of age" things, as you begin to realize how huge the world is and how you can be a part of it, standing in the same (huge) room with the likes of Prince or the Jonas Brothers. It's amazing to see a celeb live and in person for the first time. It's exciting and inspiring. And I look forward to sharing that with my girls.

Button Up!


The very first Megazeen buttons- I just love stuff like this. Can't wait to show them off at the shows this year. The two designs selected are Joshua Warren's classic Megazeen logo and the cover art for the Colossians ashcan from 2005. More to come!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

It Was 20 Years Ago Today...

Feb 7 1988. I drove my little 5-speed Dodge Omni to the college theater at William Paterson College. I was picking her up from work. It was our first date.

I remember staring at a painting in the lobby of some old lady (I later found out it was the person for whom the theater had been named), pretending to be interested in it so she’d be impressed with me when she turned the corner to find me. I don’t know whether it worked or not, but after a while the painting actually did grow on me.

When she emerged from the office she was every bit as lively and lovely as I’d grown to find her in our year of friendship. We made some small talk as we walked to the car, where I announced that we’d be dining at Masen’s Mountainside Inn, a restaurant I had worked in as a kitchen manager (read senior dishwasher) followed by a movie. I had planned on Masen’s not just for the familiarity, but also for the somewhat lengthy drive so we could spend more time talking our way through the transition from friends to couple. She later told me she was impressed that I had made the decision of where the evening would take us.

Dinner was wonderful- Lillian (my favorite waitress, a grandmotherly Edith Bunker type of woman) set us up in a private, dimly-lit corner booth. I don’t recall everything we talked about. I do recall that she mentioned an annoying habit her ex-boyfriend had of tossing wadded-up napkins all over the table, something I was careful never to do from then on. I recall how she told me that she could not tolerate sugar and learned about hypoglycemia that night. I recall laughing a lot and enjoying healthy conversation about family and relationships and college. I recall how fair her skin was in the candlelight, how green her eyes were and how hypnotizing her perfect voice was.

After dinner we headed over to the theater- I had selected some abominable movie like Lair of the Spider Woman, but Marie suggested Moonstruck (a movie she’d already seen, she told me later, but a far better choice for sure). We shared popcorn and held hands.

On the way home I drove her past my high school and house as we continued to talk. At some point, I believe I was turning the final bend on Otterhole Road in Bloomingdale, I found myself asking an unusual question. Since we were both former Catholics, and our families were Catholics, and I was now Baptist and she was a Nazarene, I pondered where/how we would get married.

Not kidding.

Finally, back in the parking lot of the college, we kissed an awkward soft kiss somehow amongst my bundled up ski jacket and her dress coat, and we said goodnight.

It remains to this day the best night of my life.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Busy Busy BUSY


My first week-long blog break in quite some time. Some of you may be wondering exactly what Joe's been up to? The rest of you don't care, but that's cool. It's probably mutual.

This week Tom and I got together and outlined a script for Dan Barlow's submission to the Sci-Fi issue. Dan's got this weird habit of doing awesome sequentials with no script. I don't know how he does it. Anyway, the piece is called Hair of the Dog and will appear in Megazeen #15. This week I've been fleshing out the script as I've been lettering, and also experimenting with computones to make the artwork pop. I also finally got the hang of lettering using layers on Paint Shop, which has saved loads of time and headaches. So, a little writing, lettering and shading. Sample above.

Speaking of the Sci-Fi issue, I've had to issue apologies to at least three people who believed their work would be in the book. It wasn't that their submissions didn't "make the cut" quality-wise or anything. But so much time had gone by since their submissions- literally two years- that honestly I'd lost track of them. The book will be extra-mongo sized anyway. So, in all liklihood, there will be a spillover into MZ16 this summer.

I've been working on a set of three 9x12 acryllic paintings that I will most likely make available for sale at shows and online. The first one is my character Blam from Colossians, done in the style of Carlos Meglia who's a genius. I'm pondering which other characters I'll tackle- in the running are the Manx (of course) and some mainstream characters. But I'm learning not to be too anal about my selection of subject to draw or paint- there's always time to do more later, right?

Mark Melton's Angeldreams #2 is going to press (as a "Megazeen Presents" book this time around) so I spent some time prepping the files and tweaking the covers for the printer. We're also working with our printer to produce a limited run of lithographs of various cover art from Megazeen, Megazeen Presents and others.

Oh, rumor has it that Megazeen just might be getting a little shout-out in Wizard Magazine, courtesy of an article they're running on Enemi Entertainment, a new, forward-thinking indy distributor that MZ has partnered with. More on Wizard and Enemi in the very near future.

So a slacker I have not been. I've actually had one of the best weeks in a long, long time.

And that's a week in the life of the editor of Megazeen.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Megazeen: The Sci-Fi Issue


Here's the Jeff Slemons cover. It's Slem-tastic!

This should be out by the first week in February.
Stop drooling on your keyboard.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Why I Already Plan to Break Half of One of My Resolutions


Jamie reminded me about this one... darnit.
Okay, so I'll break my DC ban for this one, just for my buds at Blindwolf.
How cool does that look?


Sunday, January 6, 2008

Fight the System!!!

So here we are in a new year and I've made two resolutions that I intend to keep, and about twelve others that I already broke so why list them here.

One is to get Megazeen back on a quarterly schedule. The Megazeen Sci-Fi issue will appear this winter, the One-Page issue this spring, an as-yet-undetermined issue for summer and hopefully a Christmas issue by the end of year. That's the plan.

The other is that I will NOT purchase a Marvel or DC comic book this year.

That second one is a lot easier to keep. Frankly, I've barely bought any comics that weren't in a dollar box in many months. Especially regarding the Big Two, the price has discouraged me, the slapped-together artwork looks too often like it's done on a conveyor belt, and the quality of the storylines fails to amuse me. This coming from a collector of over 30 years with well over 5000 books. Wake up guys.

That said, I have become far more convicted about the growing indy lines. There is some really hot stuff out there, made by guys that do it for the love of the medium, not the almighty dollar. So, if I can throw them some of my almighty dollars, instead of Marvel and Deceased, I'll feel a whole lot better and I'll buy them a hamburger.

So whilst in my favorite haunt (New Moon Comics) I picked up a handful of indies at Victoria's recommendation. Good calls all around. I'm going to continue sampling the world of indies and undergrounds this year in earnest, and reviewing what I like. If you have any recommendations please leave them in the comments.

First up is ABYSS from Red 5 Comics, by Rubio and Marangon, the guys that brought us Troops and Tag and Bink. Here's the skinny (as Victoria sold it to me): Imagine your rich dad died and you've inherited everything. Then you find out that your dad was Batman. Then you find out he was really Doctor Doom. This is a pure FUN comic, not too heady or goofy, made for comic fans BY comic fans, and it's great to see these guys doing well. The art and dialogue are simple yet clever, and they WORK. After years of Marvel and Diseased, it's hard for me to invest in another universe, but this is so worthwhile.