As you few, but loyal and awesome, regular readers may already know, I’ve been putting out a comic story with artist Michael Powell. It’s packed with superhero action starring Michael’s character Revenger. Here is a whole new way to experience our first, “Walk of Shame.” I think this slideshow version really improves the reading experience on web browsers. Check it out:
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Visit revengercomic.com for new content every Wednesday. We just wrapped up this first story and our next one begins in a few weeks. Expect a few previews and more fresh stuff between now and then.
Checked out that new Harry Potter flick this weekend. It was quite excellent. As far as conclusions to a series goes, it did the job quite well. That scene with the white dragon helping them escape the bank vaults? Awesome. Also awesome: that scene where the annoying kid in Draco’s crew burns the hidden room down and they all escape on broomsticks. So much awesome action, it was incredibly satisfying. Plus a little bit of long-awaited make-out action between Ron & Hermione to spice things up.
From a more objective point of view (as objective as one can be, at least) I think it’s a far superior film to Return of the Jedi. Or most Star Wars movies for that matter (I’m looking at you, prequels). However, there was something missing about the entire Harry Potter story that I couldn’t put my finger on until now:
There was no Han Solo-type character in this series. By which I mean, an outsider with no particularly special gifts — a commoner — who chooses to get involved in this epic struggle. Every player in the Potter finale was either destined to be a part of this or at the very least involved because they were born a wizard. Supposedly the battle against Voldemort involved the fate of the whole world, not just the wizarding one. Then how come there were no straight-up muggles involved in taking a stand? How come no one said “maybe we should be willing to recruit muggles because they may be weaker but they have a stake in this too?”
Who do you need me to stab?
Which brings me to the Star Wars Rebels and Ewoks. The Rebels were relatively well trained and well armed soldiers. They were lead by Leia who was born into royalty with a connection to Force. Luke did most of the heavy lifting with his own Force-skills/daddy-issues. But they weren’t above drafting Han Solo into their cause. And when they needed help to shut down the reactor on Endor they didn’t say “back up, Ewoks, you don’t have the tech or the brains we do, we’ll take care of you.” Nope, they said “hey, this is your war too, you want it?”
Say what you will about the Ewoks (and I probably won’t argue with most of it) but it was satisfying to have them play a part in the direction their lives and culture took instead of being kept in the dark while the Rebels and the Empire fought over a base located on their planet. To a degree you lose that in Harry Potter, a world who’s fate is decided by those who were lucky enough to be born wizards, without even a token muggle.
And, who knows, maybe if they’d included some muggles, instead of a random epilogue the series would have ended up with a party!
This past Monday I posted a short story that was cryptic. Not only was the story itself cryptic but so was my explanation of it afterwards. Let me go ahead and explain this all a little more.
Way back in the summer of 2003 I had a crappy temp job, was living on my own for the first time (not counting college dorms, because they shouldn’t count) and spending a lot of time not-sober. During that period I did have an idea for a story that has never left my brain in the 8 years that followed:
A woman in her mid-20′s learns that her soul is bonded with the essence of God’s greatest warrior angel. The revelation forces her into the front line of a war between Heaven and Hell that has been raging since almost the beginning of creation.
This is not about preaching for or against Judeo-Christian ideas anymore than Clash of the Titans is a statement about paganism. It’s born from my feeling that the Judeo-Christian myths are awesome fodder for epic storytelling the way that Greek, Roman and Arabic myths are (to name a few). God, Lucifer, angels, souls, saints, demons… that’s some cool shit to tell stories with.
As I began to flesh out the story of this one woman, I built a world around it to make sense of how everything would work together. Over the years the nature of the conflict between Heaven and Hell has evolved in my notes and many other stories that could take place in this world have sprung up.
Honestly, I don’t feel like I’m ready to tell the main story that gave life to all this just yet. I need more practice to be in a place where I can do it justice. But goddamn (no pun intended), I want to tell stories in this world. And it just so happens I really want a hefty project on my plate, something I can really dig into.
So I’m going to write an anthology of short stories that take place in the world of this conflict between Heaven and Hell. Stories about angels and demons going toe-to-toe. Stories about humans forced into messed up situations because of a war they never asked to be a part of. And because I imagine this conflict to be built into the very fabric of existence, there’s no genre that’s off limits. For instance:
* Horror. Lucifer can’t create life with souls. His failed attempts are soulless, deformed creatures roaming the Earth.
* Science Fiction. What about aliens? Surely they’re part of God’s plan as much as humans are. What are they up to?
* Espionage thrillers. I’m really curious as to what the central intelligence agencies are like in this war between Heaven and Hell. Imagine being a spy under those circumstances.
* Westerns. Actually, if you’ve read some stuff I’ve posted here and at 30Characters about Emmett Clayton then you’ve already been introduced to a major player in the war.
Now here’s where the call to artists comes in: I want illustrations for these stories! Something to bring them to life. Like those great editions of Lord of the Rings that had a nice picture to go along with every chapter. The artwork could be a simple penciled doodle, or a completely inked and colored piece. You can take 5 minutes to knock something out or 5 days. It’s all good as far as I’m concerned. I just think art adds to any story experience.
If you’re interested in contributing, drop me a line. You can leave a comment below, hit me up on twitter.com/roshow or gplus.to/roshow or send an email to rolando (at) roshow (dot) net. Of course you retain all rights to your art and character designs and your work will never be published anywhere without your consent.
I’m really psyched to begin this project. Expect the first story before the end of the summer and more shortly thereafter.
Thanks for all the support. Everyone reading this website has given me support that’s been crucial to getting me to a place where I’m ready to dive into this kind of challenge.
While most people enjoyed the awesomeness of heaven, there were a select few that knew it came at a price: God’s soldiers. They knew that the peace everyone else enjoyed was constantly under attack from Lucifer and his army of angry, bitter fallen. Once a year, though, they got to use their combat skills for fun.
She ran through the last leg of the obstacle course slightly behind the other two. She represented the Terrestrial Army. The Ethereal representative was slightly ahead of her. To everyone’s surprise, the Darkline soldier was ahead. Sure, they dealt with the most shit but they also weren’t known for being so well rounded that they could handle the final obstacle course.
All she could think about was the final prize. If you won the Soldier Games you received something only a few angels got to experience: flesh. Just for one day, of course. But that was more than most of the others would experience. This is why the soldiers of the Soul Army had their own games with their own prize. The competitors in these army were for the Unsubstantials only.
Halfway through she managed to struggle her way past the Ethereal Army competitor. The next few obstacles were some of the hardest but she made some headway towards the Darkline soldier. He kept pushing forward but she wanted it too badly.
Everyone knew she was the best soldier in God’s army. Everyone knew she deserved it. But “deserved” and “won” are two different things. She pressed forward.
In the end, she would win. But in the end, that’s what the Darkline soldier wanted. Not everyone who fought was pure. Not everyone who played in the games wasn’t cheating.
She got her day of incarnation. And she got a lot more of them than she expected.
A little background on the story: it began with an experiment. I thought it would be fun to write a story based on what came up when I clicked on “random article” on Wikipedia. I got Best Warrior. Instead of taking a literal approach, I realized it would be cool to use the idea of the Best Warrior challenge as part of a very big story I’ve been jotting down in bits & pieces since 2003. Little did I realize this story, which may seem cryptic to all of you, ended up solving a MAJOR plot point I still hadn’t resolved 8 years later. Life is a funny place.
Google+ could be the Facebook-killer
You could argue that everyone is already on Facebook and Google+ offers nothing substantially different, so what’s the point of joining? However, this was the same argument you could have made when Google Chat came out: everyone was already on AOL Instant Messenger and Google offered nothing substantially different. However, AIM all but folded recently by removing its own web client and letting you log on and cross chat through Google Chat. Why did Google win the IM war? Because it lived right in your email client, showed up when you logged on and did all the work of building your network by being connected to your email. There was no reason not to use it. Google+ has similar integration. With notifications popping up right in your email client and the ease of instantly populating your new network from your emails, there will be no reason not to use it.
Marvel Studios & Paramount are a bunch of apologist wimps
Due to “anti-American” feelings, the studios are giving countries the option of not using “Captain America” in the title of, uh, the Captain America movie. Remember when people were all angry with France and started calling french fries “freedom fries?” Remember how stupid that was? By no means is America perfect and I’m certainly not someone who necessarily thinks of himself as an American (I am the possibly more obnoxious cliche: someone who considers himself a “New Yorker”). But it’s a movie about a dude fighting for the American army in WWII, beating up Nazis and a guy with a red skull face. If another country or its citizens can’t bring themselves to watch it because it’s called “Captain America” they are just as stupid as the “freedom fries” bunch. Marvel and Paramount suck for granting them any legitimacy by giving them the option of calling it something else.
Mark Zuckerberg has an unfortunate face
Some people just have a very punchable face. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about, either. It has nothing to do with the person’s personality. They may be a great human being but they have a face that just makes you think “I want to punch it.” Mark Zuckerberg’s got one of those faces. I’m convinced that if he didn’t, he could get away with a lot of his obnoxious behavior without being ragged on in the media. New rule of thumb: consider where your face falls on the punch-ability scale before deciding to be the spokesperson for your company.
Leader Frank looked the alien in the eye, from across the battlefield. This is what it came down to. If pronounced in the alien’s native tongue, the name of the game would have made human ears bleed. In English the game was know as “Beer Pong.”
Yes, the fate of these poor men came down to an epic, winner-take-all game of beer pong. I think it’s fair to say the women of Earth may not have necessarily missed these guys if they were never returned. But to Frank, Jon and the rest of the human misfits this was their one chance to change their fate.
The alien was down to two cups and Frank still had five. The deficit grew larger as Frank’s ball flew through the air and landed in one of the alien’s cups.
A little woozy from the beer, the alien wobbled back and forth, trying to aim for Frank’s cups. He launched the little, white ball through the air but missed. The humans cheered. This is what it all came down to.
What the alien didn’t realize was that these men didn’t know how to mow lawns or take out the trash. They didn’t know how to do these household chores because they, unlike him, never got laid enough to learn what women wanted. And men who don’t get laid, well, they need to fill their time with other things. Like smoking grass, watching television and… playing stupid drinking games.
Frank took the ball between his fingers and effortlessly tossed it through in the air directly into the final cup on the alien’s side. Enraged, their alien captured chugged his last beer and slammed the cup on the table. “Very well, assholes, I will send you back home.”
A few hours later, the men were back in the club. The women were freed from their trance and didn’t remember a thing. Frank and Jon looked across the crowded dance floor and saw the leggy brunette having a drink with the hipster chick.
“What do you think?” Jon asked Frank.
“Dude, we just took on an alien and saved the world,” actually, they didn’t save the world just their own asses but Frank was on a high. “Let’s do this.”
They walked through the crowd and up to the women. “Hey, ladies,” said Frank as suavely as he could (which was still not very suave), “my friend and I thought you looked lonely.”
The girls looked them up and down. The hipster chick finally spoke up: “Really? Do the math, losers.”
“What?! Are you fucking kidding me?!” Frank was besides himself. He turned to Jon. “Dude, how come I never, ever get laid?”
Jon rolled his eyes. “Dude, I’m gonna go smoke some trees and pass out in the car. Come get me when you’re ready to go home and pleasure yourself. No, wait, that didn’t come out right. You know what I mean. Whatever.”
In the end, somethings never change.
Every part of this story incorporated a different day’s prompt from storypraxis. Today’s prompt was title.
Frank and Jon woke up inside a jail cell, surrounded by mouth-breathing nerds and spray tanned douchebags. The combined smell of sweat and hair gel made them both a little queasy.
Somehow they’d ended up in a place where they weren’t the saddest sacks. They let it soak in for a minute. In fact, they were about to high-five until they remembered why they were there.
“Awwww, fuck,” said Frank, disheartened.
“I still blame you, dude,” said Jon. “I told you something was wrong but no, you had to think you were actually gonna get laid.”
“My fault? We were home free and you got us caught.”
“It’s your fault!”
“No, your fault!”
Soon the adolescents-stuck-in-adult-bodies were wrestling ineptly while the rest of the prisoners cheered on. This was the most exciting thing they’d seen in a long while.
“Quiet!” bellowed an inhuman voice from outside the cell. It was their alien captor. Standing about seven feet tall with purple skin covered in hideous boils, he was more barf-inducing than the collection of basement dwelling man-boys he held captive. Maybe not. But close.
“You will sit quietly until my recruitment drive is done. Understood human males?”
“No,” said Frank, taking a stand. Even Jon was surprised by the conviction in his voice. “Every Saturday night I go out looking for girls. Every Saturday night I end up home alone–”
“–jerking off!” interjected Jon. He couldn’t help himself.
“Shut up!” Frank yelled so sternly that Jon actually took notice. “Although he’s right. I do end up home alone, pleasuring myself, thinking of all the beautiful women I didn’t come home with. Then I fall asleep and begin my miserable week over again, looking forward to the next Saturday night. Which is almost never different. But you know what keeps me going?”
“Pathetic self delusion?” asked Jon.
“Yes!” said Frank, pointing a Jon. “The same pathetic self delusion that keeps you going, and keeps him going,” Frank pointed to a greasy dude with a faux hawk then pointed at a fat guy with thick glasses “and keeps him going and him and him,” he kept pointing around the room. “The pathetic self delusion we all call HOPE! And I won’t let some alien bastard who is getting laid but is too lazy to mow a lawn take that away from me!”
“YEAH!” the rest of the imprisoned men screamed in unison. They began rattling the cell bars and screaming like a bunch of lunatics. It was as if being kidnapped by an alien and forced into slavery doing menial chores for women without even getting laid was the final affront their dignity could take.
“Very well,” the alien acquiesced. “I will give you all an opportunity to regain your freedom. Name one of yourselves as the leader and he will face me in battle. If he wins you all go free and I will never return to your planet. Choose now.”
Frank realized the cell at gone quiet and all the men were pointing at him, including Jon. “Get to it, Leader Frank.”
“Screw you guys.” Frank flipped them the bird as he was lead away from the cell by the alien.
In the alley, Jon took a long pull from the joint, held it until he couldn’t anymore, then blew it out.
“Here you go, baby,” he said to the hipster chick (in an unexpectedly smooth tone for him).
She giggled as she took the joint from him. “I bet you love to get stoned and fix things around the house,” she said before taking a toke and passing it back.
“Oh yeah, I’m a regular handyman when I’m blazed.” He took another deep hit.
“We should go someplace private,” she giggled into his ear.
Jon looked at her closely. He put the joint up to his lips and inhaled so long that it burned down to the tip of his fingers. As he held the smoke deep inside his lungs he looked like he was contemplating her offer. Finally, he exhaled a thick, foggy cloud, tossed away the roach and spoke:
“Yeah, no, that’s not gonna happen. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go save my friend.”
The hipster chick did not see that coming. Jon may have been the first stoner in history to pass up sex that came to him wrapped in the package of an attractive girl and a fat joint. She got in his way, her blood red eyes half open but trying to be intimidating nonetheless.
“You’re not going to save anyone,” she said, trying to sound serious and sober.
In yet another unexpected maneuver, Jon came back at her with a question: “Did you ever think that our entire universe could be a atom inside of a molecule of another conscious being?”
The hipster chick’s jaw dropped, her eyes glazed over. “Whoooooooa.”
“Lightweight,” said Jon as he entered the club.
Inside, Frank was still paying for his foolishness. The pack of women were trying to force him back into the bathroom. Jon walked past them to the DJ booth and took the mic from the woman spinning records.
“Hey ladies,” he began, “there are a bunch of guys outside who really want to do chores but they can’t find anyone interested in their offer.”
Instantly, the women lost all interest in Frank and Jon and stampeded out the front door. Jon brought up the rear of the pack and locked the door behind the last one.
“What the hell is going on?” Franked asked. “You’ll never believe what’s in the bathroom!”
“A giant, ugly alien trying to transport you up to his ship,” answered Jon in a totally matter-of-fact tone.
“Yeah!” screamed Frank.
“He’s controlling the women in this club so they will seduce men and bring them back to him. He wants to take us to his home planet so that we will do all the men’s chores so they can relax when they get home. We would be enslaved, spending a lifetime mowing lawns, taking out the trash and all sorts of boring, daily tasks that get between us and television.”
“How did you figure it out?” asked Frank.
Jon puffed up his chest, triumphantly. “They tried to seduce me with weed. But they didn’t realize grass is my super power! If I smoke enough of it, I know all!”
Unsurprisingly, Jon was barely done trumpeting his stoner brilliance when he was smashed upside the head and knocked unconscious by an alien fist.
“Dumbass,” Frank said, kind of glad to see his friend’s ridiculous rant cut short. It was also the last think Frank managed to say before the alien’s fist knocked him unconscious too.