Mixtape Goes MoCCA

So these arrived:

004

They’ll be for sale at MoCCA Fest this weekend, April 6-7 at the69th Regiment Armory at Lexington and 23rd street. I’ll be manning a table (F-193) all weekend, along with Ken Eppstein of Nix Comics. This’ll be my first time behind the table at any con, so it’s bound to be memorable.

So, if you’re planning on attending MoCCA Fest, please swing by and say “hi”.

(and maybe buy some comics too)

100%

This is the 100th post on my official website.

Frankly I’m amazed I stuck with it this long.  When it was decided I needed to boost my “web presence”, I created this place to do just that. The theory being people interested in hiring me would Google my name, and this website would appear in the search results. They’d then see how brilliant and insightful I was, they’d hire me on the spot and pay me lots of money.  Ergo, I was to use it to promote myself and my work, as all professional writers are supposed to do.

It didn’t quite turn out that way.  Instead I ended up using it to just write about things that interested me, kind of like my Twitter profile became a platform to crack stupid jokes and test material for projects I am writing. Ironically I am very successful at this, having gained more followers on Twitter than I had “friends” on Facebook (which is not the reason I deleted by FB page — though there is a diff. reason for that).  Here I usually blog music, some pop culture, and some promo work, namely my comic book series Mixtape. Some said I was “doing it wrong”, and that this website should exist primarily as self-promo.

But the way I rationalized it, there’s so much self-promo going on in the land of the internet, why not break with that and just write about things that interest me?  I’m never going to get tens of thousands of visitors to this thing, or hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers either, and I’m okay with that, because I’m one of those types prefer quality of interaction over quantity.  Instead of promoting my work, why not write amusing and interesting work, and let people judge it and me based on that work?

So 100 posts in, that means time to reflect, right? So in that spirit, I’m re-posting the most popular, most visited, and all around best posts as decided by clicks on those posts, in descending order. Yes, because I’m too busy/lazy right now to write new content.  But some of you new arrivals may not have dug back that far, so it’s new to you anyway.

Here we go:

10 – HAVING AN AVERAGE WEEKEND

Nostalgia time, as I reflect on a teenaged ritual that sadly only exists in memory.  For me, anyway — I like to think teens today still embark on searches for that special something without doing it from their computer.

9 – GRATITUDE

A.K.A. “The Blog Post I Wish I Didn’t Have To Write” because it was written the day after the passing of Beastie Boy Adam “MCA” Yauch. And yes, it’s a huge loss to music, like losing a Beatle must be to my parents’ generation.

8 – LIVING IN THE SPRAWL

This is actually my personal favorite of anything I’ve written here.  Typically it’s lodged at number 8, but I felt like I channeled something of the sense of longing one gets, growing up in the suburbs, the excitement of downtown and the big city like a siren’s call.  Also, a companion piece of sorts to “Having An Average Weekend.”

7 – MIXTAPE 2013

This one dropped just before Christmas 2012, and details the future of my comic book series Mixtape.  The future is bright.

6 – NO EXCUSES

Written early in April 2012 (less than a month before the passing of Adam Yauch), this was written about another year’s passing since the death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain … and how the passing of another Grunge era icon is too often forgotten.

5 – THE REAL THING

This was posted to mark the release of Mixtape #1 in April 2012.  Mixtape #2 dropped in December.  I promise the wait between future issues won’t be that long again.  Hopefully.

4 – THE PROMETHEUS MENACE

The title is pretty self explanatory. Note to self: next time I see a really lousy Sci-Fi film, write about it immediately and the hits will follow.

3 – TIRED OF WAKING UP TIRED

The most recent update to this blog was surprisingly one of the most popular.  Maybe because we’ve all had crazy vivid dreams.  Maybe because we never forget the most memorable ones.  But really, it’s probably because there are pictures of booze, and zombies, and cute/funny cats — all thing people are known to enjoy reading about.

2 – T.R.U.E.

My first webcomic.  Hopefully not the last either, as people really seemed to like it.  It was created for a Spanish comics fanzine, their final issue.  This is the English language version, and is totally based on a true story involving Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, and some CHUDs.

And the most popular post on my website ever …

1. THE OTHER WHITE MEAT (PART 3)

Though you really need to read parts one and two first to get the whole story (the links of which are embedded at the top of part three).  This detailed the 15 year journey of my screenplay “Hell For Breakfast” to the big screen (in New Zealand, anyway) under the name “Fresh Meat.”  A cautionary tale of sorts, but I was surprised to see how popular it was.  I guess other people’s pain is funny.

So that’s the top ten of the first 100.  It doesn’t even include such personal faves such as how Writer’s Block isn’t necessarily a bad thing; or the one about my love and fear of Horror Movies; of how I became a comic book fan.  It doesn’t include the one I penned nearly a year ago, about how I hate celebrating my birthday, but ultimately consider myself fortunate to be able to celebrate one at all.  It doesn’t even touch on my fixation on Degrassi Jr. High and Degrassi High, and the unexpected influence that seminal Canadian teen soap had on Mixtape.

So, if you have some time to kill and want to know more about me, my writing, and how I’ve manage to carve a living out of it, the above are as good a place as any to start.

Now, I think I’ve procrastinated enough, don’t you … ?

 

T.R.U.E.

Some background.

Last year I was approached by a Fanzine in Spain about talking a little about RoboCop: Prime Directives. Turns out Robo was a big deal in Europe.  So I talked to writer/artist David Buceta about movies and comic books, and figured that was that.

A few months later David contacted me again, to ask if I might be interested in writing a brief 2-page story for the final issue of their ‘zine, that he would illustrate.  It could be anything I wanted.

So I though about it, and decided “sure, why not?”  Then I spent the next month and a half trying to decide what I would right.  It was embarassing, frankly; mister big-shot professional writer stuck on two measly pages.

But, as it turns out I had a story; I just had to wait for it to happen to me.

And so, without futher ado …

Gratitude

1987. I’ve just moved to Brockville Ontario from Greensboro North Carolina. It’s winter, and I’ve been settling in for a few months when one night while doing homework I hear “Fight for your Right” on the radio. Homework for that moment is forgotten. I don’t know who the “Beastie Boys” are but to a 13 year old’s ears, it’s the greatest song I’ve ever heard. The fact it pisses off your parents makes it even better. At a talent show later that spring, three schoolmates perform the entire song a capella. It’s one of the funniest things the town has ever witnessed.

1989. You cannot escape “Hey Ladies”.  Not on radio, not on Much Music – the video helps kick off the late 80s/early 90s nostalgia for all things 1970s. I’m in Toronto on one of many visits to a friend and he’s just picked up Paul’s Boutique.  It’s nothing like Licensed to Ill – it’s better, deeper, more complex.  “Shadrach” is my favorite track. My friend calls it “their Sgt. Pepper” – a line I will re-use in Mixtape #3 some 23 years later.  Thing is, he’s right – it is their Sgt. Pepper, and a landmark album for the genre.  Naturally it underperforms. It’s too ahead of its time.

1992. Careening towards high school graduation and an uncertain future, the Boys check back in with “Check Your Head”.  They pick up instruments and lay down some of the most ferocious grooves you’re to hear in a world where the radio is blasting Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Nirvana. Blasting “Gratitude” on my car stereo nearly blows out the speakers it’s so heavy. White suburban kids who claim to hate rap (“it’s crap minus the c”) become converts to the Temple of the Beasties. College starts in the fall and you can’t escape this album. It blasts from dorms everywhere.

1994. Alternative Nation has been wounded by the suicide of Kurt Cobain and a cloud has settled over the scene, and over that year’s Lollapalooza tour. The Toronto date is blanketed with rain, and for the first four sets everyone’s miserable. Then the PA plays “All Apologies” and soon the crowd is singing along. The sun breaks through the clouds and a mighty roar pushes the rest of them off. Then, The Beastie Boys take to the stage, and somehow manage to blow the roof off an open-air show. They’re the shot in the arm a sodden and soggy crowd needs, and of everyone the Beasties look like they’re having more fun than anyone else. It’s my first time seeing them.

1998. Music has occupied a smaller portion of my life. Focus is on work, on movies, on keeping a roof over my head, but there’s still room for the Beastie Boys. The giant monster vs. giant robot video for “Intergalactic” even impresses my roommate, who’s not a fan of the Beasties or popular music in general. Followed by their brilliant song and video for “Body Movin’” (channeling Maria Bava’s Danger: Diabolik — both directed by Adam “MCA” Yauch as Nathanial Hornblower), a lot of people like him realize that the Beasties are legitimate goddamn artists. You don’t have to look far for someone who claims they “don’t like Hip-Hop” and still like the Beastie Boys.

2004. My second time seeing the Beastie Boys, as they tour “To the 5 Boroughs”.  Once again, the Beasties bring it and then some. They come around again a couple years later, and I see them again, and again, they look like they’re having more fun than any of us.

2008. I live in one of those five boroughs. So does a college friend of mine. She offhandedly mentions she works in the same building that houses Oscilloscope Labs, the Beasties’ company, and she occasionally sees them – MCA, usually, arriving at work on his bike. I am insanely jealous and plot to hang around there one day to have a Beastie sighting, but I never do. I mean, what am I going to say?  “You guys rule?  You’re ‘ill’?”  They already know that.

2012.

And now it’s over.

In a way we knew it was over when only two of them showed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, having had to cancel plans to perform because MCA was too sick. We hoped it was a minor setback, but it was not. You won’t see the Beasties perform again, and they have too much integrity to open the vaults and keep that money machine going. You can’t have the Beastie Boys with only two. You need three MCs and one DJ. Otherwise it’s not them.

That morning a  storm rolled through the area. Lightning crashed and thunder boomed, and rains fell for a short time. Then, the storm moved off and the sun came out, like it did eighteen years earlier in a muddy field outside Toronto. Then we heard Adam Yauch had gone.

In the Buddist tradition the moment of death is marked by raucous noise, to usher their spirit to the next journey. I like to think that was that storm’s purpose; to tell Adam how much a generation appreciated everything his music did for them. It wasn’t really a storm or rain though; it was MCA showing New York how to rock a block party ’til your hair turns grey.

The Real Thing

And there it is … on shelves as we speak.

I snapped this photo at Midtown Comics on Friday April 13th.  As I was lining up the shot someone picked a copy from the stack, looked at the cover, flipped through some pages, and added it to their armload of purchases for the week.

The cynic in me says “lucky me, happening upon the stack of Mixtape comics the very moment the one person who bought a copy at that store happened by.”  Of course, I got to that store after a couple delays, so the odds are good someone else bought a copy sometime between April 11 and 13.  Then again, on the 11th, I witnessed Forbidden Planet sell out of their last copy of Mixtape.  They’ve assured me more are on the way, so if you’re looking for a copy, and are NYC based, they’ll fix you up.

Did I mention this was all unexpected?

Diamond, the main comic book distributor told the publisher (who subsequently told me) the date of publication was April 18th.  I actually found out through a post on Twitter, where a fan wrote he was thrilled Mixtape #1 finally arrived.  Brendan, the book’s editor and co-publisher, found this out while ducking into the shop down the street from his offices, and was informed by the owner he had new book out this week and that said book was selling.

Hopefully this raises the bar on solicits for #2.  Second issues typically get a lower number, as the general consensus is that issue #1 is the collector’s item.  I also received the final pages for #3 last week, so we have that on the boards too.

[Regarding subsequent issues, I plan on announcing where we’re at with those soon.  We’ll be doing something cool in tandem with them, and as issues 4,5, and 6 are probably my favorite of the first arc, I’m as anxious as you to get them out the door]

To be frank, it’s a strange feeling, walking into your local comic book store like you have countless times before, and seeing YOUR BOOK on the shelf along with the other new releases.  A book you’ve been thinking and dreaming about for the last three and a half years; a book that, with its publication, finally gives me the right to call myself a comic book creator.  At least I think it does — feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

So if you’ve been following my Mixtape antics, I’d appreciate you supporting the book and spreading the word about it.  Mixtape has always been a comic book for people who don’t normally buy comic books.  As I’ve said before, the characters in Mixtape don’t have super-powers.  They don’t fight zombies or date vampires or have crazy adventures.  The aim was to tell real stories about real people — people you or I could have known (or indeed may have known) in High School, no matter what your age is now, or what era you were a teen in.  So far I’ve received some nice comments about the book on its FB page.  One reader wrote “I felt like I was back in high school and I see my old friends in each character.” 
Another said “It more than lived up to the expectations. Memories have been kickstarted after reading issue one and I am currently playing 7″s on my floor from the 90’s.” 
That was really the goal with Mixtape.  To tell stories that prompt them to do stuff like that — drag out the old 7″s, dust off the boom box and those old cassettes, switch from the morning news on the commute to music. To unlock those memories we all bury, and discover we’ve spent the past twenty years or so running away from our teen years, only to wonder why we ran so fast and so far.

On a sidenote, I am talking with a couple local stores about doing a signing, and hope to do the same next month when I’m up in the Toronto area for work.  If anybody has any suggestions please message me here.