Monday’s Culture Roundup

I talked about quite a bit on today’s Periscope which you can view here:  https://www.pscp.tv/jondelarroz/1eaKbqLZqWrxX?t=13

So I wanted to give a handy list of links to the things I mentioned.

Family friendly sci-fi tv, Extinct:  http://www.extinct.tv

Mind MGMT comic by Matt Kindt https://www.amazon.com/MIND-MGMT-Manager-Matt-Kindt-ebook/dp/B00BUAMHAK/

Q-Ball Comic Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2053015196/q-ball-1-martial-arts-thriller-by-baron-and-mcclai

Gunfighter’s Ball Miniature’s Game Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1985631043/gunfighters-ball-wild-west-miniatures-game

L. Jagi Lamplighter’s new release FB Party: https://www.facebook.com/events/377102189412757/

Her new book coming out tomorrow: https://www.amazon.com/Awful-Truth-Forgetting-Unexpected-Enlightenment-ebook/dp/B076J2MZPX/

And Yakov Merkin’s Book:  https://www.amazon.com/Greater-Duty-Galaxy-Ascendant-Book-ebook/dp/B071LD7LL8/

If you can’t/dont use periscope, I will have it as I do all of them on my Youtube Channel later today:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrGNYo4n2qT9z52qtevon4Q

Cool Cosplay!

This Halloween I was quite happy to learn I had the first cosplay (to my knowledge) based on my book. A reader sent me this picture of a dapper young gentleman:

Dressed as the astounding and magnificent Baron Theodore Von Monocle. I’d say he did an excellent job, a nigh perfect job of recreating the Baron’s look. Now it’s got me thinking about doing a Young Baron prequel series… hmm…

But that’ll have to come later.

‘For now, I’m hard at work on Zaira’s second adventure, Von Monocle 2. I’m about a third of the way drafting the book at 32,000 words right now for #NaNoWriMo, and it’s coming along quite well. I anticipate finishing the draft in December and having it for release sometime next year.

For now, you can check out book one here and maybe get inspired for your own cosplay. I’d love to see some folk try out the Wyranth soldier uniforms.

A Great Review From An Unlikely Source

A File 770 faithful actually left this on another blog about my short story, “Winning Is What We Do”

“Then you get the whole of a JdA story. It’s actually quite funny, some of it intentionally so. Basically Trump and slightly-older son Barron are viewing their latest super-weapon, an all-US-made suit of power armour when word comes through that the Wall (sigh) has been breached, and of course the only way to save the day is for Barron to get in the suit and go fight illegal alien zombies who turn out to be proper alien aliens controlled by a super sized Kim Jong Un. At the risk of saying non-negative things about JdA it’s actually not terrible, just silly trope deployment with tongue fixed firmly in cheek. Actually now that I think about it, it’s pretty much a Timothy story!”
The folk from that site are usually so vitriolic in personal attacks that it’s refreshing to see someone who actually is willing to try a story and read it at the very least. Note he has to say he is taking a risk by saying something non-negative about me, and honestly he is being brave in doing so. That’s how bad the social pressure is to simply attack, but he was honest, and he read it. And I appreciate it a lot!  I don’t know what a Timothy story is, but it’s clear that my writing was fun, just as I intend with all my stories. If someone whose first instinct is to be completely hostile to my work, I think it says a lot to get a positive review.
I think if he enjoyed this, he’ll like For Steam And Country even more. Everyone has enjoyed it so far according to Amazon.

Marvel Ousts Alonso, Promotes New EIC

It’s been reported that Marvel has ousted Alonso. They’ve promoted C.B. Cebulksi who, refreshingly, seems to tweet mostly about creativity and art and not politics.

Marvel Entertainment, the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment company, announced today that C.B. Cebulski has been promoted to Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief effective November 17, 2017. Former Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso has mutually parted ways with the company. The announcement was made by Dan Buckley, President, Marvel Entertainment.

In his new role, Mr. Cebulski will oversee all day-to-day editorial and creative aspects of Marvel’s publishing division. This includes driving the overall editorial creative vision, shaping the larger story direction of the Marvel Comics line-up, and bringing to Marvel the world’s best and brightest writers and artists. Additionally, Mr. Cebulski will be furthering Marvel’s efforts to expand the publishing division internationally.

Now I hope that the international efforts don’t mean further efforts to stagnate or pause the classic characters for movies… which was made easy by replacing them with SJW knock-off versions in the last couple years. Legacy has been a failure, as it didn’t create any real change in the company from what’s destroyed it. It just let the same people back in and used a gimmick holo-cover type thing to try to get it going.

I’d recommend CB clean house. Drop everything and start from scratch, rebuild Marvel from the ground up. Cut anyone who uses autoblockers and treats fans like garbage on Twitter, and cut the most vitriolic political shills as well. Bring in fresh faces, do something new.  I’d even maybe call it Rebirth.

On the creative side – expand creator owned content. Don’t just make an Icon imprint for like your pet 1-2 to do their thing with no promotion. Encourage creativity and newness. You’re not going to be able to live off of Stan Lee’s creations in the print form alone for another 50 years. It’s already been milked dry.

I’d even considering bringing back CrossGen.

If you like good creative action adventure, you’ll probably enjoy my novel For Steam And Country, which will make a great comic some day in addition to a novel series.  Check it out here.  

 

Indie Comics Is Where It’s At

With all the troubles Marvel is having, even after their supposed “relaunch”, and while DC is certainly producing high quality art… it just doesn’t have  the emotional stakes. Part of this is because of the way the big two are set up with their comics — to keep their characters the same: iconic and unchanging in order to produce films and television and try to capitalize off of residual sales from that. It leads to stagnation, no matter the creative team.  And it’s unavoidable when you have characters who can’t change, or if they do, it gets reset so they’re back again.

I’ve turned my comic reading to other sources. As those who read the blog regularly know, I pick up almost every Valiant book, of which the storytelling has varied pretty significantly depending on who’s writing it, but the art has been top notch all the way through. I’m sill very much enjoying X-O Manowar,  which I think is the best comic released in years. Reading that got me looking at Matt Kindt’s other work, and i found a treasure trove  of beautiful indie stories.

Mind MGMT is the one that blew me away. It’s about the government running a secret psi program of people with different abilities. They’re erasing memories, keeping us and each other pacified, leaving coded messages everywhere. It’s a head trip in a head trip, and super gripping all the way through.

Dept H is a murder mystery in an underwater science base. There’s some crazy stuff and I really still don’t know exactly where it’s going. I keep looking for volume 3 to come out, but it’s got a ton of potential and cool characters.

3 Story – This is a tragedy about a giant. I love the pun title and I couldn’t put it down.

The Tooth –  A twist on the superhero. This goes into the ridiculous realm which I’ve had a lot of fun with. It also got me looking at Cullen Bunn’s work, as he  wrote this story while Kindt drew it. His stuff comes next.

Cullenn Bunn is doing the relaunch of the Tick, which I picked up for fun, family friendly entertainment to share with my kid. He provided that. But he also does horror books which are really creepy. I don’t usually like horror but this is more an action/adventure style horror so it works for me. I’m a bit nervous about some seeming anti-Christian themes in his books, but of what i’ve read it hasn’t gone too far, and I haven’t found it offensive. It may just be the horror tropes and getting into that dark spiritual realm that necessarily has that feel. I hope I don’t get to a point where I see anything too far but I’m enjoying what I’ve read. These are not family friendly below:

Darkark – this is currently on #2. Satan made an ark along with God and the task is to save the supernatural spirit realm. I don’t have a link to this!

6th Gun – Weird west. I don’t know how I missed this originally as weird west is something I usually grab off the shelves immediately as I see it. I read the first volume and it’s dark horror fun with six-shooters. Loving it so far.

Alterna Comics is another interesting group. They are  making REALLY CHEAP (not low quality) comics. You can buy most their titles for $1-2 but only a few shops carry them. They are also on comixology. I’ve read LIlith Dark and Adam Wreck  of their titles, and i”ve ordered a whole  bunch more. I’m not sure how their business model is going but I love this kind of thing, and i love they’re using newsprint to be able to get things out to us and not charge us $5 a book because of print costs. I highly recommend checking out your catalogue and having your local comic shop order from them so they can expand their reach: https://www.alternacomics.com/  very little risk at the price point!

And on the cutting edge front:

 

I want to talk a kickstarter project by Brant Fowler. I’ve been mentioning it on social media, but yesterday it finally funded. It’s about a teenage pyro girl. The art looks really solid and I’m excited to get to read this story. It’s really cute that he works with his girlfriend who does colors on the book too. I  like that kinda thing. Matt Kindt’s wife also colors Dept H, so he’s in good company.The kickstarter link is:

 https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/brantfowler/the-last-ember-1-teenager-by-day-fire-goddess-by-n

Brant is a great guy who I’ve watched stick by comics for years, and we used to do comic reviews at ComicRelated.com.  If you want to be on the front lines of getting new indie projects going, supporting Brant’s kickstarter is the way to go. He is the next generation of great indie work and I’d love to see this get to the point where it turns heads at the bigger companies. I’ve backed this myself. Hurry though, it’s the last day to do so!

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll let you know what else I find.

If you like good indie action adventure stories, you’ll love  For Steam And Country, the hottest new steampunk novel series of 2017. You can buy it here. 

The Anti-Male Discrimination Looks Worse For Sci-Fi Insiders

A reader did research and found some more staggering conclusions after reading my article on Anti-Male discrimination by publications. I was sent me the following by a source that has to remain anonymous for their own safety:

 After reading your piece, I decided to also take a look
at the identity of the of the editorial staff on the different publications
you mentioned. Have you done this yet? It’s quite interesting– you have the
basis for another article. It appears the more biased the publication is, the
more the staff is dominated by women and other individuals that identify
themselves as marginalized. For example, take a look at Strange Horizons,
which you singled out as one of the publications most biased against male
authors, and I think you’ll see the pattern:
http://strangehorizons.com/masthead/  Out of the 74 individuals listed on this
page, only 17 are males. Further, there are almost no males present on the
senior editorial staff. Based on the staff bios, a significant number of the
17 males are from under-represented groups, many of them self-identifying as
GBLQ.

My point is that if you look at the composition of the editorial staff of all
the magazines you cited, you’ll almost undoubtedly see a direct correlation to
their statistical likelihood of accepting a story from a male author–
especially if that author is not from a marginalized or under-represented
group. Of course this wouldn’t be a surprise, but the actual numbers would
certainly speak volumes in support of claims that an “old boys club” (or is
that “old girls club”) is at work.

The indoctrination starts young and, apparently, even holds young boys– not
just grown men– as “problematic.” Take a look at the document I’ve attached,
which is a sample issue of the leading (as well as one of the only) YA
magazines–Cicada. Note that the issue can be downloaded from the magazine’s
web site. Cicada claims it is interested in science fiction story submissions
from both adult and teenage authors. However,it is very clear that both men
and boys need not apply– just take a look at the sample issue. First, out of
15 authors in this issue, only one is male, and that individual is a “person
of color” (Vietnamese). Second, all nine of the editors are women. Third, all
the stories exclusively feature characters that are girls or women– none are
male. Forth, the only interview in the issue is with a woman, who also happens
to be a person of color as well as a professor of gender studies. Fifth, a
search on the word “boys” yields only two hits (“boys” appears twice in the
same poem, which is written by a girl); the word “girls” yields 11 hits,
appearing in almost every story. Sixth, searching for “men” yielded zero hits
while “women” yielded five hits. Seventh, even all the cartoons exclusively
feature girls, unless you want to count the one which features a snowman at
the end. Incidentally, he gets melted.

It’s like I said yesterday. Boys are told in a way not to read because they can’t identify with their authors or characters. This cuts a lot deeper into the science fiction and fantasy publishing industry than I imagined. That said, I’m not surprised by these statistics at all, especially when it comes to YA. The whole YA  genre is built only around a female outreach for readership and I can only name a handful of male YA authors.

The message is clear, men aren’t allowed to have anything and aren’t wanted in the industry. Of course, we’re definitely told by these companies doing things like Artemis Rising when these stats are so bad that we’re not wanted as readers or listeners on the flip side. It’s past time to go find alternatives who aren’t going off waving how diverse they are, when they’re anything but. Diversity is now code for anti-male and anti-white.

You have no path to a career in the arts if you’re male. Independent is your only option now.

If you like a really diverse book, my novella Gravity Of The Game has characters of all different stripes from around the world. Including pinstripes.  It’s being talked about for a Hugo nomination. Check it out!

Ninja-K #1

 

The premise of this book is a relaunch (not retcon or reboot as it seems to follow the continuity and actually care about what Kindt delivered, actually referencing it in the script – which there’s a portion of in the Pre-Order edition I read), is someone’s going around killing all of the prior Ninja operatives still living. This is a 40 page book, and there’s a lot of interesting ideas, and issues with the writing in general, which i’ll get to in detail.

Conceptually, having a Ninja program with an A-K is pretty interesting. I don’t know if this was established in continuity before, but it makes sense and the history is interesting.  The problem is, leading the book with 8 pages of the history of the program and not just getting right into our characters we’re supposed to care about is a weird way to open a comic. The pages look like pin-ups as someone voices over talking about it, we eventually learn is Ninja-D about 4 pages in.  It cuts eventually to him as an old man and Ninja-K talking, where he asks Ninja-K if this was useful to him. It suffers from a “show don’t tell” aspect of comics in that it delivered us far too much backstory. I get Ninja-D needed to be established as someone important, and the history was important as well, but the lengthiness of it poses an issue.

Especially as it goes into a scene of Ninja-K going over in his head Ninja-D’s “rules of the trade” while he’s in battle in China, rescuing a kid from people we don’t learn much about. It’s a throwaway intro to show us the gadgets, his prowess, his abilities and establish we have a bonafide Ninja. This creates a problem as we already had 8 pages of establishing background, so we’re a full 16 pages in before an actual story starts. Now these pages were a bit more fun and enjoyable to read, but didn’t really grip beyond a generic fight.

After all this intro we are TOLD (not shown) Ninja-D has been killed. Ninja-K already knows and is gonna investigate. Very little tension.  Now this could have been way more interesting easily by having Ninja-D talk to Ninja-K on a call about the rules, training, history, while Ninja-K was fighting. Maybe even a flashback side-by-side comparison sequence to get that history in. The line goes dead after some gurgling, Ninja-K panics and flies back to see what’s going on.  An intro could have been done in half the pages that way and been much more exciting.

We cut to pause for a few pages of relationship drama – which is actually fairly good. I liked where it went on that angle, where Ninja-K is sleeping with Livewire (another valiant hero) which I’m going to assume was established prior to this. She’s not happy with the shallow level of their relationship and it kinda blows up. Solid few pages here.

That leads to the only SJW virtue signaling moment of the book. Ninja K after having the fight goes down, starts talking to himself in a line that added nothing and would have been easy to edited out and not play social justice politics with.  “You can seduce targets of any age or gender in twenty four languages if you’re being paid to do so…”

Okay, it’s weird enough someone talks to themselves (should have been dialogue box probably), but in the mental commentary we’re really worrying about “any age and gender?” It just made me roll my eyes as that line reads like it was out of Teen Vogue, not a super bad ass British agent.  It could be shortened to “You can seduce any targets if you’re being paid to do so…” and would have come across far more natural without the rather pointless signaling. This stuff isn’t brave or interesting in comics anymore, it’s just annoying and throws people out of the story. And the more I look at it, it’s got pedophillia implications I am really hoping are unindented and just missed by editorial.

It follows the rest of the book Ninja-K investigating and trying to figure out who killed them, with an explosion at the end.  There’s a lot of telling of the past, speculating on past villains like Dr. Silke (important in the Valiant Universe) and a femme fatale type who I’m going to guess is the major villain when it comes to it (we haven’t seen, we just have explosion).  This is the meat of the story, it’s pretty good, and though it’s almost all talking back and forth, it’s pretty interesting and tense, especially in the last couple of pages.

If they’re going to do 40-page comics, they need to pack more story into it than this, in my opinion. The set up took way too long to get to, in something that without all the exposition, we really could have gotten to in 2-3 pages to kick off the better action adventure.  Page 1: “Ninja-D, my mentor, is dead.” Page 2 “Who could have done this?” Maybe the femme fatale? Page 3: Explosion of the whole house!  Flip and let’s get into the action with the real bad guy.

The exposition didn’t add enough interesting worldbuilding or character (aside from the Livewire interaction) to really justify much existing. The story really only got started in those last couple pages.  If you wanted to layer in some more exposition, could flashback a little after that but on the storytelling level, it’s a bit disappointing.

Character wise, they all kind of talk the same. There’s one British dude who actually sounds British – he’s the guy questioned late in the book, but everyone else sounds pretty American. Same cadences, same verbiage. Everyone talks to themselves at that (shouldn’t have been more than one character doing that, it stands out when it’s multiple), and so the characters come across a little flat too.

Now it sounds like I’m roasting the story, but it’s got some potential. There are interesting concepts, interesting ideas where it could pan out over the next couple issues. With 40-page comics, I’m happy Valiant is trying out pushing the boundaries on that front too as most comics stick to 20 for monthly production.  The end pages was enough of a hook I’ll keep reading, but this story wise was a tough first issue that should have had more meat to it.

On the art front: Tomas Giorello makes it all worthwhile. I can look at the pages and they’re so beautiful I don’t care about anything else. Perhaps they were thinking that, and made this more of a pin-up book for him than anything else, and it worked to some level. His masterful and beautiful art made it a joy to flip through the pages, and almost made me forget the story issues until I went back and thought about it afterward.  I really loved his Femme Fatale late in the book, one of the most beautiful drawings of a woman I’ve seen in a comic in a long time.  I mean wow! No complaints there at all. The coloring is a bit on the darker side, but it works for the book as well.  I hope they can keep up the quality when it rotates artists on this monthly book, as I know there’s no way someone can keep up a 40 pages a month schedule for long.

Overall, the art saved it. An intriguing premise, but the execution really needed some heavy editing, and story wise, I feel we should be well into wherever issue 2 is supposed to be rather than where we’re at.  I’m still on board, but I really hope issue 2 has more meat to the story.

7/10

It’s Okay To Be Male

Tor.com, a site that so egregiously banned from commenting one of the most popular minority authors in the field today (yours truly) for posting about actual on topic space opera during their #SpaceOperaWeek instead of playing their identity politics garbage, is back at it again. 

Today their writer urges a QUOTA on what you read based on demographic breakdowns.

He doesn’t look at the industry overall, which I did the legwork for him and it shows that in science fiction and fantasy, publishers are preferring women to publish  already, despite being only genre that’s even remotely got males working or reading in it (the others skew so far to women it’s absurd), it marks the only place men can read something geared toward them. But instead, he speaks of his own reading habits, in which he, as a man, preferred reading male authors.

The rest of the article goes on about how shameful he felt about it. Self-flagellating for a congratulations from the predominately female-controlled industry. Maybe it’ll get his books published. I guess that’s a marketing strategy.

I posit that he could do something shocking: read what he likes and not care what the demographic breakdown is. 

It’s totally normal for men to like books by men and actually this type of nonsense is why men are shamed into not reading at all, and as we know the real problem in literacy is men on average stop reading at an early age in our society. It’s because there’s so little content geared toward them and it’s been that way for decades.

Here’s the hard truth:

Men and women are different and therefore write differently.

I know. It’s shocking. We’re told we’re not allowed to say this. That men can be women, women can be men. There’s no difference. But that’s a lie. There is a huge difference in or biologies and therefore psychologies. The books written by women will on average end up different than  men as a result.

And it makes sense that every other genre, which is mostly filled with women readers and has mostly women writers. But Sci-Fi implementing that same quota base, as an action-adventure oriented genre, has caused sales to tank as, like many other industries taken over by SJWs, they told their own readers to buzz off — and continue to do so.

Male writers don’t get big publishers looking at them at all anymore. The odds are terrifying as I proved earlier this year. And so the sales have gone to self-publishing and indie. In some ways i shouldn’t warn a bigoted company like Tor about this by posting on it, lest they actually catch on and start to do something about their decline, but it’s sad to watch a man fall into this trap of apologizing to women he’s never wronged.

It’s okay to be male.

A sport that’s always been male-oriented is baseball. Check out my male-written Gravity Of The Game novella, which was compared by a reader to early Heinlein and is being talked about for Hugo nominations. You can read it here.

Leave Taylor Swift Alone

Marie Claire digs into Taylor Swift for her extreme–  not saying anything about politics? Is this seriously what we’ve come to?

The modern witch hunts by the extreme SJWs are so crazy that now they go after you if you simply don’t jump on the outrage train and shriek with everyone else. Or maybe a musician just wants to sell albums to everyone in America and not just one political side, you know, like most artists used to.

Best comment I’ve seen on it so far:

But this is why we need pop culture that goes beyond silent on it, but actually speaks out to let others know there is another side. The entertainment industry is so monolithic, this is why they’ve gone this far. When they learn that most people don’t think like them, we may be able to get back to normalcy. For now, go read MAGA 2020 and Beyond! 

Can Gamma Male Protagonists Evoke Classical Pathos?

I had an interesting discussion with a friend last night as we were digging far too deeply into anime. Almost every anime show (especially those set in a high school environment, which is the majority of them), have male protagonists that are your classic gamma male archetype. They are socially awkward, especially around women. When encountered with women they go into a crazed frenzy, female worship, nosebleeds, slapstick failings. We’re supposed to root for them to get the girl in spite of their failures. And sometimes we do, but we can’t help but wince every time they enter the scene with their female counterparts, who are usually far more composed and cooler than they are.

The result is a different kind of emotion than we receive from a more heroic character. When an alpha or beta protagonist confronts problems, we get the feeling of the basic human instinct overcoming dilemmas, whether they be spiritual or physical, and it fills us with a sense that uplifts us emotionally to a place where we strive to be something better than ourselves, or at least our thoughts are provoked in a direction to where we discuss the merits of certain values. Whatever that may be, that is the true sense of pathos that gets evoked from a good story with such a protagonist.

But with the gamma, we are still in the wince mode, hoping that he can get through the situation unscathed. If he does, we don’t exactly feel fulfilled after watching or reading the work. I believe this is part of the reason so many animes or mangas give us a feeling of let down with the ending, making a cool concept imminently forgettable when they don’t need to be.

My friend brought up another classic example of the gamma: The Phantom of the Opera. The Phantom is very non-confrontational, hiding, stalking, unable to interact at the basic human level. We feel pity for him, but we feel no true sense of pathos to where we as an audience are uplifted by it. It’s tragic to watch, and horrific, and though the musical is quite well done, we walk away from it as an audience as unfulfilled as when we watch anime. Our sense is that we wish things were different, but in an undefined way, or that we wish the phantom was simply a different person. We’re not moved in our emotional response to any sort of thought or action beyond a wish.

And so it’s my conclusion that a gamma protagonist does and cannot evoke a true sense of pathos in a general audience, as we aren’t stirred to a cause, a thought, or any sort of action. We’re only stirred toward pity.

What do you think?

My character Zaira Von Monocle is unrefined and untrained, but she’s certainly not a gamma. She’s driven by loyalty to King and loyalty to family, some of the most important things we can have as people. For Steam And Country has stirred a lot of emotions in people, but you should see for yourself if I evoked any sense of pathos. You can read it here.