Deal Me Outta Here

April 1, 2009

jokercardsWell, that’s it. I’m folding. I’m walking away from the table. And, I’m cashing in all of my chips.

It’s time for a change. I’ve given this whole writing thing a try for quite awhile, and sometimes you just “got to know when to hold’em, and know when to fold’em” — so to speak.

I’ve decided to ho ahead and join the rest of my family and move to Carson Valley in Nevada. I will be enrolling in the Reno Tahoe Dealers Academy and Bartenders School. I already have an interview scheduled to “evaluate my background, career goals, and motivation.” I’m packing up my truck and driving up on Easter Sunday.

If you know me, then you know that I dig casinos and I’m a huge fan of Blackjack. So, why not? Sure, I’ll be back in a school type environment — technical school — for awhile. I’m going for the big program — Casino Dealing Level III. This’ll provide me with the knowledge and skills necessary to not only pursue a career with a casino as a Twenty-One, Roulette, Pai-gow Dealer, Craps, Poker, and Mini-Baccarat, but also advance in the casino industry in pit supervision. How cool would that be? Me… a pit boss.

The tuition is kind of steep — almost $4,000, but I’ve managed some financial aid to cover some of the tuition, and my folks are willing to help me out until I get settled.

It should be an interesting change. Let’s just hope I finally hit the jackpot.

Major Matt Mason To Soar Again

March 26, 2009

majormattmasonsoarsBefore there was G.I. Joe (Adventure Team), before there was Big Jim, before there was Action Jackson… There was Major Matt Mason — the very first action figure that I ever owned. I couldn’t have been more than three or four years old, but I remember the day that Major Matt Mason first soared into my life. I had just awoke from a mid-day nap (wish I could still take those) and staggered out into the living room to find just about every Major Matt Mason and the “The Men In Space” action figure and accessory strategically and carefully laid out on the floor. An older kid that lived in the same apartment complex was moving and he was leaving all of his Major Matt Mason toys to me. Score! And thus begun my long time addiction to action figure. (If only I still had every action figure I ever owned. I have to admit that I don’t own many nowadays.)

But, why am I bringing up Major Matt Mason now? On Tuesday, Variety reported that Universal will be developing Major Matt Mason, a live-action motion picture to star Tom Hanks.

If you’re not in the know (or haven’t clicked on the Major Matt Mason link above), Major Matt Mason was one of the first action figure toy lines. Created by Mattel, the line was based on an astronaut and his crew and their adventures on the moon. Who better than Tom Hanks, who starred as astronaut and commander James Lovell in Apollo 13 and served as executive producer, co-writer, and co-director of From the Earth to the Moon?

Now, if there were only a Major Matt Mason comic book…

majormattmasonadpanels

No Heroics Happy Hour

March 21, 2009

noheroicscastukWell, it was bound to happen, the British comedy series No Heroics is flying over the Atlantic to the U.S. — capes and all — to be adapted for a comedy pilot for ABC. The initial announcement was back in February when The Hollywood Reporter announced that ABC picks up comedy pilot ‘No Heroics’. The show is to be co-written by Jeff Greenstein (Will & Grace, Desperate Housewives, Friends) and the British series creator Drew Pierce. The two are also executive producers, along with Andrew Zein. ABC Studios is producing the show.

But, this last week the news was heard a little louder when it was announced that Freddie Prinze Jr. was cast to star in the U.S. adaptation.

“Sigh.” Those of you that are familiar with me and my work know where I’m going to go with this…

As far back as 2002, shortly after the second issue of (Super) Hero Happy Hour — the self-published comic book co-created by myself and Chris Fason — was released I found myself with “Hollywood” representation and I was meeting with various producers and production companies about turning our little comic book about super heroes hanging out in a bar into a TV show about super heroes hanging out in a bar. This was really the first foray into comic book creating and publishing that either Chris and I had ever made. (Super) Hero Happy Hour (Huh? I just found out that Hero Happy Hour has a Wikipedia page. Neat!) It was exciting times. I found myself making the forty minute to an hour drive up to L.A./Hollywood for meetings that I felt completely out of my league with. Back then, the plan was to do Hero Happy Hour as an animated series with big-name talent providing the voices. I was amazed at some of the names that would be thrown about — Bruce Willis, Pierce Bronson — it was crazy. It was almost dreamlike. I thought I had it the jackpot right off the bat with my very first comic book.

But, it was about that time that I received an overnight letter from both Marvel and DC, and I thought, “Hell, yes! I’ve been noticed.” Well, I was noticed alright. I was noticed for trademark infringement. Marvel and DC co-own the trademarked term “super hero” and they weren’t to thrilled with me using it in the title of my self-published comic book that was starting to get a little Hollywood attention. I was served with a cease and desist letter. That is when we changed the title from Super Hero Happy Hour to Hero Happy Hour. Whether there was a connection or not (I doubt it), after a couple of years the Hollywood talks began to slow down to a crawl and eventually dried up altogether.

Then about a year ago or so, I heard about the new British comedy No Heroics — about super heroes hanging out in a bar. Now, I’m the last person who’s going to argue that it’s the most original idea in the world. But, the similarities between Hero Happy Hour and No Heroics caught me a little off guard. And, it was a little show over in Britain — some 5,448 miles away. Now No Heroics is coming over here to my neighborhood, and I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed. It’s an opportunity lost. An opportunity that had it happened could’ve changed my entire life.

But, there’s no point in crying over spilled beer at a bar where super her– Oops. My bad. Sorry Marvel and DC. There’s no point in crying over spilled beer at a bar where heroes hang out at. I still do hope to publish more Hero Happy Hour comic books. I have scripts in the can, and notes and ideas for numerous more issues. Unfortunately, my partner in crime, Chris Fason is unable to belly up to the bar and tackle the artist duties due to being a good father, husband, and providing for his family with a paying solid job. (You go, Chris!) If I’m able to find the right artist to help out there will be more Hero Happy Hour comic books.

In the meantime, until No Heroics makes its U.S. premiere feel free to check out these issues and collections of Hero Happy Hour that you can find and/or order online…

gpnk-00001_sHero Happy Hour #1 — Written by Dan Taylor. Art by Chris Fason. Cover by Scott Morse. Imagine pulling up a stool to the bar and sipping a frosty pint of your favorite beverage as you listen in on the conversations of the “regulars” that frequent the neighborhood tavern. But, this establishment is unlike any other bar. The Hideout Bar & Grill caters to the super heroes of First City, and provides more than just a place to wash away the troubles of serving and protecting society as crime-fighting crusaders. For these regular heroes it is “a place where everyone knows your name” — secret identity or not. Available for free at wowio.com.

gpnk-00002_sHero Happy Hour #2 — Written by Dan Taylor. Art by Chris Fason. Cover by Jim Mahfood. It’s Tuesday night, and it’s Ladies’ Night at the Hideout Bar & Grill, the local watering-hole for the super heroes of First City. Join a quartet of super heroines as they let down their hair, deconstruct the “boys club” of being a super hero, and unwind after a hectic day of saving the world from madmen, maniacs, and monsters. Available for free at wowio.com.

gpnk-00003_sHero Happy Hour #3 — Written by Dan Taylor. Art and cover by Chris Fason. It’s time for “Another Round” at the Hideout Bar & Grill, the local watering hole for the super heroes of First City. The evening starts out quietly enough with the crime-fighting duo of Night Ranger and Scout joining Guardian and new-super-hero-in-town, Randal. But, that’s all about to change when a less than desirable clientèle shows up to ruin the heroes’ happy hour. Available for free at wowio.com.

gpnk-00004_sHero Happy Hour #4 — Written by Dan Taylor. Art by Chris Fason. Cover by Ragnar. Could it possibly be last call at the Hideout Bar & Grill? Phantom Dread and a band of super villains show up to crash the Hero Happy Hour. Add six parts super villains, five parts super heroes, one part nervous bartender, shake well, and you’ve got… the ultimate barroom brawl. Available for free at wowio.com.

gpnk-00005_sHero Happy Hour #5 — Written by Dan Taylor. Art by Chris Fason. Cover by Dave Crosland. Worlds collide when reality television invades the Hideout Bar & Grill in “Reality Shots.” The loyalties of the “dysfunctional duo” of Night Ranger and Scout are put to the test when they’re personal agendas, as well as their own unique (if not skewed) perceptions of reality clash with one another. Available for free at wowio.com.

gpnk-ssf01_sHero Happy Hour: Super Special Flashback — A bunch of comic book creators walk into a bar… The Hideout Bar & Grill. Join Tom Beland (True Story, Swear To God), Dave Crosland (Everybody’s Dead), Scott Morse (Soulwind, Southpaw), Todd Nauck (Wildguard, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man), Steve Niles (30 Days of Night, Batman: Gotham County Line), Gail Simone (Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman), Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night, Wormwood Gentleman Corpse), Dan Wickline (1001 Arabian Nights: The Adventures of Sinbad), and many other comic book writers and artists as they belly up to the bar to offer their take on patrons of every super hero’s favorite hangout. This collection contains all of the original stories from the Hero Happy Hour Super Special 2004, as well as an additional healthy pour of bonus material. Available for free at wowio.com.

idw-00006_sSuper Deluxe Hero Happy Hour: The Lost Episode — Available at last–the long-lost episode, “The Fall and Rise of Kingfish,” with bonus material and special features! Return to every hero’s favorite watering hole, The Hideout Bar & Grill, and join Guardian, Night Ranger, Scout, Rusty the Bartender and the rest of the regulars as they defend First City from the marauding Shadow-Soldiers from Dimension Z. Happy hour turns sour as one of their own loses their life in the line of duty and the group has to come to terms with the loss of a colleague. This re-mastered “lost episode” includes never-before-seen specially enhanced scenes, interviews with the cast, outtake and blooper scenes, and additional bonus material. Available for purchase at IDW Publishing.

ind0omni_sHero Happy Hour: Omnibus 01 — Did you miss any (or, dare we say, all) of the first five issues of Hero Happy Hour? Well, unlike missing out at “last call,” you’ve got the chance to partake in all five of the original rounds with the super hero gang from the Hideout Bar & Grill. This special digest-sized collection contains the “super” feature stories from the first five fan-favorite issues. “I actually wish I would have thought of it.” – Brian Michael Bendis. “With a concept that’s as ingenious as a two-for-one happy hour and laughs that hit faster than a shot of Wild Turkey to your dome, HHH won’t leave you skunky.” – Wizard Magazine. Available for purchase at Indy Planet.

Oh, and to Jeff Greenstein and Drew Pierce… Feel free to pick up a couple of issues for yourselves. Let me know if there’s anything in there that you like. I’ve got more, plenty more. And, to be honest with you, I would might writing for a television show with a subject matter that I’ve already done years (not to mention pints) of research on as well as being very dear to my heart.

Cheers!

Comic-Con Registration, Check!

March 17, 2009

comicconlogoHow did I spend my St. Patrick’s Day (well, night actually)? I took care of my 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International Professional Online Registration. The letter showed up over the weekend and registration opened up on Sunday. Friends and colleagues have mentioned that they’ve begun the process of getting ready for the “big show” — a process that does take four months to get prepped for.

If there is one thing that always rings true in regards to the San Diego Comic-Con, it’s that it somehow shows up before you know it. Like many other “professionals” I’ve spent the months before previous Comic-Cons getting ready to promote and pitch. When I’ve had a table or booth in the past months of preparation would take place in regards to the look and function of the set up — including building an authentic-looking mini-bar with a bank of four beer taps in order to promote Hero Happy Hour. I’ve had t-shirts and stickers printed to offer as giveaways. There are the countless printings of mini-comics — both constructing xeroxed copies of ash-cans as well as keeping your fingers crossed that your print-on-demand order shows up on time. And, of course, there are the business cards — do not forget the business cards.

But, this year I’m doing things a bit different. Although, I’m all signed up as a “professional” I’m going more as a fan, as well as using the opportunity to see old friends. The last couple of years I’ve prepped to promote myself, armed myself with pitches, and busted my ass to arrange meetings with editors and publishers. Then there were the years that I worked at IDW Publishing and had a booth to attend to. The three years before that, I had my own table/booth to manage to promote GeekPunk and Hero Happy Hour. Now, while those may have been the most rewarding years, I’m looking forward to going to this year’s con with more of a vacation state of mind.

And, let’s not forget about the hotel room. Any regular attendee that has made the pilgrimageto San Diego for the Con know that securing one’s lodging for the show can often be more challenging to obtain than the most exclusive of convention-only exclusives. You think getting your hands on that ultra-rare, limited only to 500, repaint action figure that you have to enter a raffle for and get your pass punched is a challenge? Luckily, this will be the third year that I’ve arranged to bunk with friends at a condo, as opposed to a hotel room.

Odds are San Diego will be the only comic book convention that I’ll be attending this year. And, now that I’ve got my lodging taken care of, my professional registration done, and not having to worry about all that prep work in order to promote myself to publishers and/or editors that would have a cigarette outside or be in their own pitch meeting trying to sell their latest property to Hollywood.

Looking forward to seeing everyone in San Diego in July. And, of course… There will be drinks.

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda… Writing Possibilities

March 12, 2009

So, last night I was thinking about a couple of pitches that I sent to an editor at a comic book publisher. In fact, it was a couple of pitches that I thought were pretty damn good that I never heard back on. This got me started on a blog post about one of the pitches in particular, and I thought that I’d share it with my vast readership. After I typed it up I read it over and I felt that I’d sort of came across as if I had just come off of binging on sour grapes.

That’s not what I was going for. I just wanted to share what I thought was a good idea that I was proud of. The other writers out there know what I’m about to type — especially the comic book writers… We come up with ideas all of the time — some good, some bad, and some ugly. But, we put a lot into these ideas and many of them turn into pitches for screenplays, comic books, short stories for anthology collections, etc… You throw up against the wall in the hopes that they’ll stick like a perfectly cooked piece of spaghetti. It seems that lately I’ve got quite a pyramid of pasta piling on the floor.

So, I figured that rather than just sweep ’em away I’d share them here — my somewhat soapbox of self-promotion. Am I going to share them all? Probably not. But, I’ve got plenty of ideas and pitches that I’ve formulated enough that I want to share rather than let them rust on an external hard drive that I’ll end up crashing on me anyway. (Yeah, that happened to me just the other night.) But, I wanted to throw this introduction to my plan out there first. Warn those editors that passed on said pitches that might happen to find themselves reading my blog — not that they’re flocking here after passing on my pitches — that it’s nothing personal. I don’t have an objective. I’m just sharing ideas that would have, could have, or (in my mom’s opinion) should have gestated into a final product.

They’re not all gems — I know that. I’m not fooling myself and claiming that everything I write or pitch is pure gold and that the powers-that-be who make the decisions don’t know a future Pulitzer Prize winner when they read one. But, I feel like throwing some of these ideas and pitches of mine out there. At the very least, they can serve as filler material for my blog. At the very best, maybe one of those powers-that-be that make the decisions will spot that perfect piece of pasta pasted to the wall.

Stay tuned…

Writing/Blogging From Bed

March 11, 2009

Weird… As I crawled into bed to write the Seinfeld rerun “The Cheever Letters” begins on television where Jerry and George sit down to finally write the pilot script for the show they’ve sold to NBC. Of course, through the entire episode they get very little writing done. Much like I’m doing know. Sure, I’m kind of writing — I’m at least blogging — but, I’m not working on the comic book script I should be dedicating my time to, or the screenplay idea I’ve been tossing around for awhile, or any of the other gazillion idas and projects I’ve got bouncing around in my head.

But, here’s the deal… I’m just thrilled to be writing/blogging while I’m in bed. You see, my laptop crashed on me the other night. While not completely giving up the ghost, it did fall into a deep coma. I thought I was going to have to give my laptop its last rights. But, I pulled off some sort of miracle and managed to resesitate it back to life. Of course, when it regained conciousness it had complete amnesia and I had lost everything. But, I got my laptop back, and here I am typing in bed. Not exactly writing, but at least blogging — avoiding writing.

Alright, enough with the blogging and time to get some serious writing done. Or… maybe surf the internet for awhile — I can do that from bed now, too.

Return The Call Home — U2: No Line On The Horizon

March 3, 2009

nolineonthehorizoncoverIt’s been about five years since U2 released a new album — How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. Back then I was in a weird point in my life — a lot of things were changing in my world and I found myself having a connection with most of the songs from that album. Well, half a decade later U2 has released No Line On The Horizon, and once again I’m apparently at another point in my life where I’ve got some thinking to do and some choices to make. Apparently, I’ve got another “soundtrack album” for my current situation and point in my life.

Having listened to all of the songs on No Line On The Horizon a few times now there a few songs that really click with me — Magnificent, I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight, and Cedars Of Lebanon. But, the album isn’t without a few missteps… Get On Your Boots just seems to be out of place with the collection of songs offered on this album. That’s not to say that it’s bad, just may have been better suited on one of their earlier albuma — like Zooropa or Pop. Moment Of Surrender may seem to run a little long at 7 minutes and 42 seconds, but once you’re into the heart of the song you don’t notice the length so much. But, of the 11 tracks on the album, it’s the song Breathe that probably doesn’t connect as well with me as much as the rest of the album.

In a way, No Line On The Horizon — to me, anyway — sounds as if it could be the second album of a double album effort if you were to combine it with How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. Combining the two efforts onto a single playlist and hitting shuffle on iTunes works out quite well. Overall, I’d say for the most part that I dig this album.

Pirat Tales Available For Download

February 19, 2009

pirattaleseagleoneSo, you say you missed out on getting a copy of and reading the comic book, Pirat Tales: Legend of the Cat O’ Nine Tails — created and written by yours truly. Well, avast, ye rattie. Ye be in luck. Issues one and two of Pirat Tales: Legend of the Cat O’ Nine Tails is now available for electronic download at Eagle One Media.

Not only that, but Doomed #2, in which I adapted Robert Bloch’s short story Warm Farewell, is also available for download. So, do this humble blogger a solid (or three) and download one (or all three) — and be sure to let me know what you think of ’em.

Below is the official press release…

IDW Publishing and Eagle One Media Join Forces to Give Comic Fans an Innovative New Way to Enjoy IDW’s Unique Library of Titles

(San Diego, CA; February 18, 2009) – IDW Publishing, known for its wide array of comic books and graphic novels, has partnered with Eagle One Media to start a comprehensive backlist on the Web. Featuring a range of books from the Eisner-nominated artist and co-creator of 30 Days of Night, Ben Templesmith, to the Presidential Material: Barack Obama and McCain comics, to work by acclaimed artist Ashley Wood, each title will be available for download as a PDF for a minimal $1.99 fee.

Eagle One Media’s President, Eric Reichert, is excited about this new relationship. “Being able to work in partnership with IDW to make a significant number of their comics available for download to fans worldwide is a great opportunity for us. We’ve simplified the process so that comic fans can easily and quickly download complete PDF-style issues to their computer. They can also print the issues and save them to more than one computer if needed.

“Plus, with a sales price below the printed books, we give fans the opportunity to discover and try out comics which they may not have had access to in the past, in an innovative format. IDW joins our growing list of publishers who have made their comics and graphic novels available in our retail download store at: www.eagleonemedia.com.”

Chris Ryall, IDW’s Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, added “I love seeing our comics expand into areas that allow readers to sample books that are new or unfamiliar to them. Eagle One’s formatting is clean, quick, and easy for anyone who wants to read comics on their computer, and when you consider that you can download an entire issue of the 72-page Doomed magazine for $2, a great value, too.”

This pairing ushers in a brand-new platform for fans to enjoy IDW’s extensive backlist, with titles to appeal to a wide array of fans. Currently available for download are Blood-Stained Sword, Cobb, CVO, D’Airain Aventure, Doomed, Everybody’s Dead, Grumpy Old Monsters, Igor, Lore, Lost & Found, Pirat Tales, Presidential Material, ShadowPlay, Singularity 7, Snaked, and Zombies!: Feast. This already impressive backlist will be frequently updated at Eagleonemedia.com.

Shout Out To My Peeps ’09

February 18, 2009

peeps09To know me is to know that I love yellow Marshmallow Peeps. My favorite thing about this time of the year (other than the fact that Spring Training is underway and the start of the official Major League Baseball season is just around the next month and a half) is that store shelves are stocked with the delicious and succulent sugar and corn syrup treat known as the Marshmallow Peep.

After work tonight I walked over to the neighborhood grocery store to stock my recently cleaned fridge. I headed over to the store’s ATM to check my fund level (pleasantly better off than I had expected), and I was greeted by the vision of seeing the grocery clerk stocking the shelves with this season’s Easter candy — which of course, includes Peeps. The first thing to go into my basket was my first Peep purchase of Spring (I also threw in some Top Raman, Gatorade, hot dogs, and other bachelor necessities).

So, if you’re looking to bribe me, reward me, seduce me, or just want to get on my good side, nothing will work better for the next seven and a half weeks or so than yellow (they got to be yellow — pink, purple, green, etc… don’t cut it) Marshmallow Peeps — or even Bunnies.

Go Animate. Alright I Did…

February 11, 2009

oneredshirttogoSo, I was checking out my “Nerd News” last night and my usual routine of course took me by TrekMovie.com. While there I gravitated toward the article Make Your Own Star Trek Animations At GoAnimate.com – Trek Movie Takes A First Look.  This in turn lead me to GoAnimate.com. I was instantly hooked and spent about an hour and a half playing with this new animation creator featuring nifty looking Star Trek characters.

I jumped right in — not bothering with any tutorials or reading any how-tos. I beamed right into the mix of things and started to create my first Star Trek cartoon. I had no plan on what I was going to produce, but what I did come up with (while rather simple) I feel is worthy enough to share. Please check out One Red Shirt, To Go and let me know what you think.

Now I’ve already got other animated short ideas bouncing around in my head. Hopefully, with any luck and a bit of motivation, I’ll produce a few more.