Genghis Con 2018!

BS_1_cover_webMy favorite local comic convention of the year is this Sunday, Nov. 25! (That’s TOMORROW for those of you keeping score at home.)

Genghis Con will celebrate its 10th year as a comics-focused show, featuring some amazing talented from Ohio and the surrounding area.

I’ll be there with artist Loch Ness, who co-created and drew the heck out of the new action/comedy comic book BUG SLUGGER! We’ll have preview copies of issue #1 at the show! Get ’em while they’re around!

Show details:
Sunday, November 25th.
2pm to 7pm at The Lake Erie Building at 13000 Athens in Lakewood, Ohio.
The show is FREE, family friendly and open to the public!
More info & exhibitor list: http://www.genghisconcleveland.com/

In addition to Bug Slugger #1, I’ll have a brand new print run of the Hipsters Vs. Rednecks one-shot, Edison #1, the Maintenance one-shot, as well as the graphic novel collections of Unit 44, The Undoubtables, a bunch of books from Alterna Comics’ newsprint line, and more!

Don’t miss out! It’s my last show for the year, and it’s one of the best!

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New book on the way!

I’ve spent the past eight months working on a passion project and within the next few days it will be available for purchase on Amazon—always an exhilarating feeling!

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Braving Britannia: Tales of Life, Love, and Adventure in Ultima Online is a nonfiction book featuring 35 interviews with players, volunteers, and the game’s developers over 320 pages as I sought to answer the question, “What do you do in a game where you can do anything?”

Released in 1997, the fantasy game Ultima Online is regarded by many as “the grandfather of massively multiplayer online games” (paving the way for titles like EverQuest, World of Warcraft, and EVE Online) and it’s a game that captured my attention from 1998 until 2003, when I played it religiously.

Having worked as a video game writer for the past few years, I came to realize how formative my own experience with Ultima Online was for me and how much it influenced how I look at video games, and how I approach writing them. The fact that you could meet with complete strangers, adventure through dungeons, and in effect, tell your own stories is something that I look for in every game I play.

While I knew what I had done and experienced in the game, but I wondered what other people did when they logged in. So, I put on my journalist hat and set out to find them. Over eight months I interviewed dozens of players as well as members of the game’s development team to find out what Ultima Online meant to them, what they did within the virtual world of Britannia, and how it changed their lives.

In short, the stories I gathered are absolutely amazing. Even if you’ve never heard of the game, if you have an interest in video game history, or just like to read life-changing human stories, I hope you’ll consider checking it out.

Braving Britannia will soon be available in paperback and Kindle formats.

Free Comic Book Day 2018!

We’re just 5 days away from my favorite day of the year — FREE COMIC BOOK DAY!

I urge all of you to visit your local comic shop(s) on Saturday, May 5 to pick up some free comics from some of the best publishers in the business. Remember, they’ve paid some steep cash to bring you these free comics, so be sure to say thanks and help keep the lights on by dropping some cash on that one graphic novel you’ve had your eye on.

I’ll be celebrating the day at Comics, Cards & Collectables in Canton, OH! I’ll be there from 10 am until my feet just can’t take it anymore.

While my comics aren’t free, they are cheap!

I’ll be selling and signing my graphic novels Unit 44 and The Undoubtables for $15 each, as well as the one-shots Edison, Maintenance, and the always-popular Hipsters Vs. Rednecks for $4 a pop. Also on hand will be dozens of comics from the Alterna Comics newsprint line available for just $1.50 each!

Saturday, May 5 2018
Comics, Cards, & Collectables
724 Cleveland Ave SW
Canton, OH 44702
10 am – ???

Free game!

Sometimes when I’m not writing video games for other people, I take some time out to write something that allows me to exercise ideas that might be on my mind, or game elements that may not be present in current projects.

Last year, I created a short piece of interactive fiction called The Freelancer’s Survival Guide.

It was based on my own experiences from my first year of freelance writing, therefore, it’s pretty ridiculous. Click the link below to play through the narrative that reacts to the choices you make along the way (sort of like those awesome Choose Your Own Adventure Books that were popular when I was in grade school).

The game uses persistent variables to track your choices, ultimately offering you a good or bad ending. It takes about 10 minutes to play.

While it was originally written in the interactive software Inkle, I’ve since converted it to the Twine Harlowe format. I hope you’ll check it out. It’s FREE!

Click here to check out The Freelancer’s Survival Guide.

I thought I should read more. So I did.

Sometimes when I looked in the mirror in the morning, I didn’t even recognize myself.

Not because my face was older, or appeared wiser, or because I suffered some sort of major face trauma. Everything pretty much looked the same. My eyelashes were still super long, my nose remained huge, and I still couldn’t grow a beard to save my life.

What’s different was that I wasn’t seeing the reader I once was. Instead, I was only seeing the writer.

While over the past few years I’ve spent a good 70 percent of each day writing, I was no longer reading. And man—let me tell you—I used to consume books like nobody’s business. In fact, for much of my life, it was hard for me to even perform basic life functions because I had my a book in front of my face.

I traveled with a book anytime my parents dragged me out of the house. I smuggled a book in my backpack to every day of high school. Any bowel movement was an opportune time to consume a chapter.

The bookshelf in my current apartment (along with the bookshelf in my childhood bedroom and nearby closet) contain the artifacts of proof, but the to-do stack that sits haphazardly next to my desk continued to grow at an alarming rate.

Soon I realized that it had literally been years since I’d read a novel. While I consumed comic books like they were M&Ms, getting me to read prose felt like a job I where I was being paid in “exposure.” I didn’t want any part of it.

I’m not sure why I felt that way. It’s not like somewhere along the like a book had killed my parents, made my browsing history public, or stole my identity. The animosity I had toward the medium was completely unfounded.

Maybe it was an age thing.

Yeah, let’s say it was an age thing.

I was too busy to dedicate myself to a novel. I’d probably forget what happened a week after reading. So why bother?

Then, as sometimes happens as we get older, I became incontinent.

I’m kidding. Hopefully I’m still a few years away from that.

What happened, is that I became interested in writing a novel of my own. I don’t know why. After years of writing comics and video games, which work in tandem with strong visual elements, why in the world would I want to go it solo into a world where I had no art to hide behind? What good could possibly come out of a document containing nothing but my (weird) thoughts, (weirder) ideas, and (super weird) dialogue?

It sounded like madness to me.

Not only did I want to write a novel, I even had the story… you know, one of those ideas that would be perfect for the medium. Except—I was terrified of being a poseur.

I’d always looked down my nose at those filmmakers who couldn’t get their movies made, so instead they adapted their scripts into comic books. Worse, many of these film folks had never read comics, so their attempts at invading the medium I hold closest to my heart felt invasive and fake.

I didn’t want to be that person who runs around the block once and proclaims himself a jogger, the person who helps out on a student film and suddenly proclaims himself an actor, or the person who samples other people’s music under bad rap verses and proclaims himself a musician.

Despite never being a horse person, I had to get back on the horse. I had to read again. I had to find the joy.

How could I write a book if you didn’t read them? Despite the thousand I’d read in my lifetime, what business did I have writing something for the current market, if I had no idea what that market is?

Hypocrisy is the worst.

Over 2017’s 365 days (give or take a few?) I really enjoyed the following books and the journeys their respective authors took me on. I didn’t set out to read novels, I just set out to read books, letting one text guide me to the next and the next. The mix of novels and non-fiction was a ton of fun. I learned, I laughed, I felt. If we’re keeping it real, I read most of these on the toilet.

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
Heart Shaped Box – Joe Hill
Significant Zero – Walt Williams
Boss Fight Books presents: Spelunky – Derek Yu
Boss Fight Books presents: Final Fantasy V – Chris Kohler 
Boss Fight Books presents: Bible Adventures – Gabe Durham
Boss Fight Books presents: World of Warcraft – Daniel lisi 
Boss Fight Books presents: Metal Gear Solid – Ashley and Anthony Burch
Boss Fight Books presents: Earthbound – Ken Baumann 
Extra Lives – Tom Bissell 
Blood, Sweat, & Pixels – Jason Shreier 
The Art of Immersion – Frank Rose
What in God’s Name – Simon Rich
Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott 
Best. State. Ever. – Dave Barry 
Dave Barry Does Japan – Dave Barry

Hey authors of the above books… if you’re reading this, your book was awesome. Thank you for writing it.

Finding inspiration in all of these titles, I set about writing my novel simultaneously. By December 2017 I’d completed a 67,000-word first draft.

I asked several people to read it. They did. They made notes. The manuscript is covered in red pen marks. I’m that revising it now. But that’s a story for another time.

In 2018 I can look in the mirror and see a reader and a writer.

I still can’t grow a beard.