Saturday, December 31, 2011

T-minus 1 day

Reading Watchmen

The year-long journey begins, in earnest, tomorrow. 

Happy New Year.  See you on the flip side.


Friday, December 30, 2011

T-minus 2 days

Only two days until my year-long examination of Watchmen starts at  Come join what I hope will be an informative and interesting ride.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

CGS Secret Santa - process part 3

So, here is the final piece I did for the CGS Secret Santa "event." I've gathered some comics to ship off with it and will drop it in the mail Monday. This is the second year I've participated, and it is a really great experience. I had a lot of fun.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Nostalgia - more G.I. Joe comic book ads

Like the title says. Here are some more of the commercials created for the 1980s G.I. Joe comic book from Marvel. No doubt, it helped to be partnered with Hasbro.


issue #25

issue #30

issue #37

issue #54

Apologies for this Political Interruption

Millionaire surtax: yea or nay? I am so tired of the useless political "debate" going on in our country, and become frustrated when common sense gets shouted down by baseless rhetoric. NPR had a story on whether millionaire small-business owners would stall hiring if the "millionaire surtax" proposed as way of payment for the middle class payroll tax rebate were to be ratified. What their unscientific but telling report showed is that, no, probably not.

The entire story, with a link to another story that addresses the GOP's main argument (but apparently is being ignored by them), is reprinted below. All emphases are mine. Please note that the Republican Senator the reporter talked to, John Thune of South Dakota, makes his point with supposition and intuition, based not at all on fact - or at least he presented no hard facts to back up his position.

We will return to our comic, cartoon, nostalgia filled posts shortly. Thank you for your indulgence.

EDITED to note that the reporter for this piece was Tamara Keith


For the second week in a row, the Senate on Thursday voted down proposals to extend the payroll tax holiday through next year. In the case of the Democrats' proposal, Republicans objected to the "millionaires surtax" that would be used to pay for it.

Ever since the idea of the surtax was introduced weeks ago, Republicans in Congress have railed against it, arguing that it is a direct hit on small-business owners and other job creators.

INTERJECTION: Let’s disregard the bipartisan bill introduced this week that included this important point, as noted by one of the bill’s sponsors, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME): “Our bipartisan plan is fully paid for with a two percent surtax on those who earn $1 million or more a year, but - and this is critical - with a carve-out to protect small business owner/operators.”

The argument is that many small-business owners report company profits on their individual taxes because of the way their businesses are structured. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., says the surtax would hurt their ability to hire.

Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota says the "millionaires surtax" would hurt small-business owners' ability to hire new workers.

"It's just intuitive that, you know, if you're somebody who's in business and you get hit with a tax increase, it's going to be that much harder, I think, to make investments that are going to lead to job creation," says Thune.

We wanted to talk to business owners who would be affected. So, NPR requested help from numerous Republican congressional offices, including House and Senate leadership. They were unable to produce a single millionaire job creator for us to interview.

So we went to the business groups that have been lobbying against the surtax. Again, three days after putting in a request, none of them was able to find someone for us to talk to. A group called the Tax Relief Coalition said the problem was finding someone willing to talk about their personal taxes on national radio.

So next we put a query on Facebook. And several business owners who said they would be affected by the "millionaires surtax" responded.

"It's not in the top 20 things that we think about when we're making a business hire," said Ian Yankwitt, who owns Tortoise Investment Management.

Tortoise is a boutique investment firm in White Plains, N.Y. Yankwitt has 10 employees and in recent years has done a lot of hiring.

As a result, Yankwitt says he's had many conversations about hiring, "both with respect to specific people, with respect to whether we should hire one junior person or two, whether we should hire a senior person."

He says his ultimate marginal tax rate "didn't even make it on the agenda."

Yankwitt says deciding to bring on another employee is all about return on investment. Will adding another person to the payroll make his company more successful?

For Jason Burger, the motivation is similar.

"If my taxes go up, I have slightly less disposable income, yes," said Burger, co-owner of CSS International Holdings, a global infrastructure contractor. "But that has nothing to do with what my business does. What my business does is based on the contracts that it wins and the demand for its services."

Burger says his Michigan-based company is hiring like crazy, and he'd be perfectly willing to pay the surtax.

"It's only fair that I put back into the system that is the entire reason for my success," said Burger.

For the record, both Burger and Yankwitt have made campaign contributions to Democrats in the past, but they say their views on the surtax are about the economics of their businesses and not their politics.

And they're not alone.

"I, like any other American, especially a business owner, I want to make as much money as I can and I want to keep as much money in my pocket as I can, but I also believe in the greater good," says Deborah Schwarz, who owns LAC Group, an information management firm with offices nationwide and in London.

Surtax or no, Schwarz says she hopes to keep hiring.

"We're going to keep on writing proposals, going after contracts, hopefully winning them, and when we do we're going to continue to hire people," says Schwarz.

All of this contradicts the arguments about job creators being made by Republicans in Congress.

"Those I would say were exceptions to the rule," responds Thune. "I think most small-business owners who are out there right now would argue that raising their taxes has the opposite effect that we would want to have in a down economy."

But those small-business owners apparently don't want to talk.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Great memories - G.I. Joe comic ads

In response to my post on Pulped Faces in comics, good friend Gibran Graham reminded me of some of my fondest-remembered commercials when I was a kid. The ads for G.I. Joe comic books.

Here's one I found on youtube. I'll post more later, as I find time to search for them.



Sunday, December 4, 2011

A.D. New Orleans by Josh Neufeld

A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld

I read this a few weeks back and wanted to write about it here. But life kept getting in the way, and then I had to return it to the library, and I figured – well, that was just a missed opportunity. But this is, in my opinion, such an important work that I need to at least put something down regarding it here.

I followed the news stories when Katrina hit back in 2005. I was as horrified as the next person by the facts that trickled out of New Orleans. I paid attention, as best I could, and read and watched as much as I could about this disaster. And maybe that’s why I held off on reading this for so long. I worried it might be too dry or might offer little that I didn’t already know. I’m not sure. But, I have to say, I am very glad I finally read A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge.

Josh Neufeld’s book recounting how six lives were directly affected by Hurricane Katrina is incredibly moving. He humanizes this tragedy in a way that only the best news stories were able to do. Thanks to the people spotlighted by Neufeld – from an Iranian-American store owner to a well-off, altruistic doctor – readers are afforded the opportunity to experience a variety of viewpoints within New Orleans leading up to, during, and after Katrina hits.

I was surprised how quick a read this was, which is not to slight it in the least. I think it’s a testament to Neufeld’s ability that this is such a complete story and includes so much detail of these victims’ lives. Neufeld boils things down to their basic components. His clean, detailed artwork combined with economical dialogue manages to convey all that is needed for his audience to be engaged by the narrative.

I wish I could speak more specifically to this book. But I apologize; I can’t.

But I can say that once I started reading, I didn’t want to stop. If I hadn’t needed to go to work the morning I opened it up, I probably would have finished it in one sitting. As it was, I finished it that night after I was done with work and dinner and putting out son to bed. A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge was a terribly affecting, well-written, beautifully drawn book. And it is one that any fan of the medium – or any “feeling” person – should make the time to read some day. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Writing Process - revising the first draft

I've finally gotten back into the swing of writing (though, admittedly, I was contributing quite a bit here at Warrior27 when I wasn't actually "writing" or working on my own fiction and such). I've sent off a short story to a few more publications (hoping to find that one editor who will "get" this story - not that the rejections thus far have been unexpected, nor do I feel I was slighted by not having this story accepted, but it can often come down to an editor understanding what the writer is going for and hopefully catching them on a good day, but I digress)

I also sent off a non-fiction manuscript (the first 30,000 words) to another publisher with fingers crossed.

And, I pulled out one of the many first drafts I've been sitting on, allowing them to percolate a bit before working to wrestle them into something resembling a good story. It took me twice as long to do the revision on this story than it took to initially write it, but that's because my first draft practice generally involves me metaphorically "vomiting" the entire story onto the page - or at least a vague outline/list of scenes, etc. - typing as fast as I can in order to keep up with the ideas coming into my head. Because of this pace, I very often am spelling out motivations and scenarios in far too much, and too dry, detail just because that's how it's coming to me and I don't want to lose my thoughts.

Of course, these less than poetic first drafts also come about because just as many days can be spent laboring over the words, being unable to find that one word I have skulking about the back of my mind, and I end up putting down some description of what I'm looking for rather than the actual scene. It can be equal "speed" and "labor" during this, but I always feel good after a day of writing (and can quickly become an ass when I go days without writing).

Anyway, as an example, here's a sample page from my revised first draft:

As Greg Rucka says (as I'm sure all, or most, writers believe), the real writing comes in the revising process. I'm in the process of applying my revisions to this draft and am anxious to see how many words I managed to lop off in the process. I know there were entire sections of this short that got the axe, so it should be - as is common, for me - quite a bit.

And then, I'm going to apply a new technique I learned from Joe Hill's blog and totally re-type this second draft into its third draft, "making every sentence and word earn its keep," to paraphrase Hill. After that, I hope to have something that will be worthwhile for the world (or at least some small publication of short fiction).

We'll see.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Pulped faces in comics - Snake-Eyes and Flash

Like many my age, G.I. Joe from Marvel comics was my gateway into comic collecting. It was easily accessible (no extended continuity, as with the superhero universes), familiar (the cartoon and toys were already in full gear when I discovered comics at my local bookstore), and enthralling for a young boy (guns! tanks! masks! Cobraaaaaa! Yo Joe!!!!!).

And the lynchpin character was Snake-Eyes. What was not to like? He was mysterious, tragic, wore all black, and was a freakin' ninja. Hell, yeah! This was my guy. And I was lucky because three issues after I began with #23, readers got the secret origin of Snake-Eyes with issue 26 & 27. Phenomenal stuff. If there was any wavering on my part, with that two-parter Larry Hama solidified my status as a G.I. Joe fan, and I hung on until somewhere around the 140s - quite a run.

Throughout the series, Hama would often come back to Snake-Eyes origin, sprinkling in more details that would link him even more closely with other characters within this universe such as Storm Shadow, Scarlet, Duke, and Zartan (??).

If you're unaware of their connection and you've ever been a fan of these characters, you need to seek out these issues (I believe #84 recounts their connection)

Anyway. Eventually, we finally got to see Snake-Eyes's true face - the one that had threatened to make many a person in the comic ill just from the sight of it. Mark Bright was the current artist when Hama finally showed us readers this horrific visage in issue #93, and I admit to being a bit let down.

Returning to that issue now, a couple of decades later, I can see that Bright - with his highly skilled pencilling - did the best he could and managed to make Snake-Eyes rather gruesome, but it didn't work for my young mind. It is, no doubt, a result of one's imagination providing a far more vivid image than what any artist could contrive.

Though, the resultant mashing of Barry Allen's face by Big Sir, as portrayed by Carmine Infantino, certainly is a fine example of the image being more horrific than the imagined one.


Thursday, December 1, 2011