When we last left our hero (see Part 1 of this post, here), he was a young 18 or 19 year old with grand
aspirations to join the ranks of those most stalwart of visual storytellers…comic book writers. I’d spent a considerable amount of time during my high school years creating all sorts of superheroes to inhabit the pages of some of my favorite comics and had taken that leap of faith that all dreamers must. I’d chosen one of my favorite characters…one of the coolest, most original characters I’d ever designed and sent it to one of my favorite comics writers at the time, Scott Lobdell of X-MEN fame. As I mentioned last week, I never anticipated getting a response back from him. After all, why should I? I was certain he, and Marvel Comics, received hundreds of such queries every single day. I was just a kid with no experience and no real knowledge of how comics were created. There were certainly better qualified people out there sending them their ideas on a regular basis.
Looking back on it now, I know it’s even more amazing that I did, indeed, hear back from Mr. Lobdell. As both an author and a publisher, I receive hundreds of questions, queries, and ideas on a regular basis…for my input. For my guidance. For my advice. And to be honest, I’ve had to learn to turn away the majority (if not all) of these requests for one very important reason…legality. After all, what if I read some of these ideas and a few years later come up with an idea (completely independent, mind you) that I write about, only to discover a while later that the idea had been hanging on the precipice of my subconscious? I’d be in violation of plagiarism. So because of that, I do have a strict “no assistance” policy for aspiring writers (at least, when it comes to specific ideas, characters, and plots).
So, yes, it’s even more amazing to me now that one day, after returning home from school, I discovered a message on our answering machine. A message from Scott Lobdell. As I mentioned last week, I was beside myself when discovering this! I’d missed his call! I began to panic that I would never get another chance. But fortunately, the panic was unwarranted. He did call me back and the conversation probably changed my life.
During our chat, Mr. Lobdell gave me plenty of advice. Plenty of encouragement. He liked my character a great deal, though he wasn’t keen on his name (I don’t blame him…I’m so embarrassed by the name, I won’t even repeat it here). He did like the costume design I’d come up with, though looking back on it now, it was a little too “Boussh the Bounty Hunter” from Return of the Jedi to really have worked well. But even more importantly, he LOVED the guy’s backstory and super powers. Naturally, for the reasons mentioned above, he was reluctant to even consider using the character himself, but he was most definitely impressed. He encouraged to keep pursuing the dream. He encouraged me to keep honing my art (back then, I was more interested in drawing comics than writing them, if I’m honest with myself). He encouraged me to keep submitting my ideas and concepts in hopes of maybe one day being picked up by his own company, Marvel.
I was absolutely in heaven!
So what happened? What happened to the dream? Why didn’t I keep pushing to see my visions turned into four-color masterpieces? Why didn’t I continue pursuing the dream of becoming a comic book creator? The answer to that, I guess, is simple: Life. Maybe a little bit of discouragement from friends and family, as well. After all, “Surely, there’s no real money in doing comics!” Or “Comic books are for children.” Or how about “Grow up! It’s just a fantasy. The real world doesn’t work that way.” My personal favorite is “There’s just no security in it.”
Then, of course, there was also college. I was determined to finish with my Bachelor’s Degree. By the time I finished, I’d pretty much quit collecting comic books (for a variety of reasons). I had finished with a degree in criminal justice and had new aspirations toward forensics, homicide investigations, and living a life like Sherlock Holmes. And so, like so many dreams, it was beaten down. Suppressed. Smothered. Through the years, the dream would raise its head up into the air, and I would beat it down all over again. After all, writing comics is just a foolish, childish, and unrealistic fantasy. Plus, since this was before the digital age and the self-publishing revolution, I knew it would also be next to impossible to ever see my ideas on an artist’s page. By this time, I felt I was just too old to even consider such nonsense.
So I let go of the dream. I went on with life. Became a forensic death investigator. Worked as a newspaper reporter, a school teacher, a private investigator, and a minister…only to go full circle back to forensic death investigations again. Life happened and the dream of writing comics seemed to fade.
Enter the years 2007- 2008. I was once more working at a Medical Examiner’s Office and because of the way we do our schedule, I had plenty of free time on my hands. To use up some of that free time, I began writing my first novel, THE DJINN (It was the fourth book I ever published, but the first I ever completed). The Djinn was a character as close to a comic book superhero you could get without having artwork on every page. He was a bit like Batman. A bit like Zorro. And a bit like a figment from your darkest nightmare. And he jumped from rooftop to rooftop in the Crusades-occupied Jerusalem righting wrongs and terrorizing evil doers.
Instantly, my passion for comics resumed and I once more began actively planning to create my very own comic book series. But the timing could not have been more perfect! By this time, self-publishing was a very acceptable means of publishing. On top of that, even comic books had become easy to both produce and distribute with the success of tablet-based apps such as Comixology and Amazon’s Kindle Fire! Just like in publishing novels, a creator no longer was at the mercy of the large corporation who guarded the gates with iron determination. Anyone could now create their own comic books and get them into the hands of comic book aficionados everywhere!
The only thing that needed to be done now was to discover an extremely compelling character with an equally compelling story that would be visually exciting. I dabbled a bit with this. Considered several different options, including doing something with that original character I was telling you about earlier (I do plan on using him eventually, but not in comic book form, by the way). And after about two and a half years of searching, I’ve discovered him. My first comic book hero. SPOOK MALONE. [Read on for the special sneak preview and a little bit about the character and back story!]
The first issue of The Adventures of Spook Malone is entitled THE GHOSTS OF TIME! Before we go further, check out the first two pages of the first issue.
Pretty amazing artwork, right?! I couldn’t be happier by this great artwork by Danish artist Christian Guldager. Christian has created the vast majority of the Seven Realms Publishing book covers. He’s my partner in this project and I know he’s really going to make this series something amazingly special.
But you might be asking yourself…what’s this comic about? Who is Spook Malone? What can we expect from it?
Well, long story short…it’s a time travel adventure akin to Doctor Who, but with a fair amount of Ghostbusters and Men in Black thrown in for good measure. There’s also maybe a touch of Sherlock Holmes in there too.
You see, Tremblay Harrison “Spook” Malone III is an orphan in time. He’s not sure where he comes from. He’s not sure WHEN he comes from. He was raised on the streets of Dublin around the turn of the 20th century. Through much of those years, he lived as pickpocket and thief. Years later, he became an established con artist, specializing faking seances for the spiritualist movement so prevalent during that time period. He became very good at this until one day, a seance goes horribly wrong…meaning that something supernatural and otherworldly does actually come through and pulls him back into their world.
Only Spook soon realizes that what came through weren’t actually ghosts…but something much, much worse.
I don’t want to say much more than this. After all, I only wanted to give you a special sneak peek of the comic and tell you a little about it to whet your appetite. I’m not sure when you can expect the release, but I’m shooting for a mid-summer 2014 release for the first issue with subsequent issues every month afterwords. The first series of Spook Malone comics will consist of eight total issues in digital format. Once all eight issues are released through Comixology and Amazon, I’ll be releasing a full color print edition omnibus for those of you who still prefer paper in your hands when reading comics.
Needless to say, I’ll be keeping you posted. Point of all this is to say one thing…NEVER give up on your dreams. No matter what people tell you or how impossible it may seem, always stick to your guns, I wish I had done this years ago. Wish I hadn’t waited so long to follow this lifelong dream of mine. But at the same time, at least I’m doing something about it now. What about you? Do you have a dream you’ve given up on? Pick it up. Dust it off. And follow it with all your heart.
Last week, I told you this blog had broken the 100,000 viewer record! How awesome is that?! More than 100,000 people have visited this blog and I couldn’t be more excited (or surprised for that matter!).
To celebrate, I’m doing a very special giveaway. I’ve chosen a number and written it down and hidden it somewhere within this blog post. I’d like to hear from you today. I’d like to hear what you think about this blog. Or more specifically, I’d love to hear what you think about this comic book or the artwork I’ve shared. Or even tell me about a dream that you’re going to recommit yourself to. Just post a comment below. And the person whose comment matches the number I’ve chosen will receive the print editions of every single novel I’ve ever written!
So please…leave a comment for me. And win some free books!