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Daughter of Dracula Revealed

Graphic Tales” Reviews The Daughter of Dracula Revealed
by Lillian Hawkins [LilyHawk]

Today we are going on a gothic journey over the rolling hills and scenic views of Eastern Europe as we trek through the unexpectedly romantic tale of the Daughter of Dracula. Set during World War 1, Marya finds herself falling head over fangs in love with an accidental stranger. Who it turns out is none other than the handsome and oh so charming Baron Von Richthofen, better known as the infamous Red Baron.

At first glance it would seem unlikely these two would meet, much less fall in love. However, with the master writing skills of Ron Fortier and the exceptional drawing skills of artist Rob Davis, this dynamic duo bring this gothic love story to believable life with style and a lusty zeal.

This new graphic novel was a long time in the making, but worth the wait. I touched base with the creators about the history behind this epic tale, and I mean ALL the history. Let’s start at the beginning‚Ķ

So Ron, tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been a writer?
[RON FORTIER] I am a 61 year old native of Somersworth, NH. I am married and have five children all adults now, and six grand children. I worked 31 years at a local GE plant which you might say was my day job, while at night I was a free-lance writer. I’ve been a published comic book writer for the past 35 years and have over 500 titles to my credit.
Daugther of Dracula
author Ron Fortier
(Author Ron Fortier)

What kind of things have you written?
I co-wrote three fantasy adventure novels with Texas based author Ardath Mayhar. The first two were published by TSR many years ago (Monkey Station & Trail of the Seahawks) whereas the last of these, Witchfire, was recently published by Cornerstone Books. I also wrote a three act play. It was a romantic comedy that told the true story of how my parents met and fell just prior to World War II. The play was produced four years ago by a small community theater group and very well received by audiences.

In the past two years I’ve begun writing brand new books starring old classic pulp heroes and have done three featuring a character called Captain Hazzard. The fourth, Cavemen of New York, will be published early in 2008. Meanwhile I maintain a website at http://www.Airship27.com, where I maintain a blog that gets updated every single Friday. This is where I post all my current activities.

How did you develop the story line for Daughter of Dracula?
The story behind how this graphic novel was created is all told in the back of the book itself, but I’m only too happy to repeat here.

I’m a big fan of the old Universal Classic Horror movies and one of my personal favorites was the 1934 sequel to Dracula called Dracula’s Daughter. The story behind this film is intriguing. After the success of Dracula, Universal very much wanted to follow it up with a sequel, but alas Bela Lugosi, who had been playing the character for many years on stage, was simply tired of it and refused to do another movie. Not wanting to lose out on what would be a guaranteed success, the writers at Universal then changed the focus of their proposed sequel on to an heir of the blood-sucking count, his beautiful daughter, Marya.

It is never once explained in the movie itself how it was Dracula, as a vampire, would have had a daughter. A plot hole I hope I cleverly resolved in our graphic novel. The film still entertains me to this day and most critics claim it is a far superior entry to its predecessor.

How did you come to choose Eastern Europe during World War I?
Over the years I often entertained the idea of doing something with the character, but never quite was able to come up with an appropriate background. When Universal began dusting off its old horror monsters with the new Mummy franchise, I was really impressed with how they both kept the tale in a 1930s setting but at the same time added a very Indiana Jones adventure flair to the tale. Now that was really fascinating and began opening up my own imagination. If I were to revive Marya, in what new kind of dramatic world could I set her?

Of my many interests, another is the flying aces of World War One, in particular Manfred von Richthofen, known as the Red Baron. One day, while surfing the net, I came across a biography of the man and instantly ideas began popping in my head. What if Marya came to Berlin during the war and had an affair with von Richthofen? The idea enflamed me right from the start and I knew it was the story I wanted to tell. I then proceeded to lay the facts of the Red Baron’s life historically, from his entry into the war to his death at the hands of an Australian soldier. With this established timeline, I then interwove the fictional story of his meeting and falling in love with Marya Dracula.

Daugther of Dracula, Page 1 Daugther of Dracula, Page 2 Daugther of Dracula, Page 3 Daugther of Dracula, Page 4 Daugther of Dracula, Page 5

How did you and Rob get connected on this project?
After having completed the 108 pg script, I sent it out to various comic publishers but with no luck. So it went on the shelves for nearly a full year collecting dust. Still, the more I would talk to people about the story, I kept getting the same reaction. It should be a movie! On a whim, I dusted off the comic script and using it as a guide, wrote a movie screenplay version. Now this I sent to a few people with Hollywood connections and they began showing it to various studios representatives. We did get a few nibbles of interest, but never anything concrete. Ironically several of my friends offered that we could probably have a better go at selling the screenplay if we had a graphic novel to show these movie people. Ha. The Catch-22.

Then, after two years, when I thought nothing would ever come of this, I accidentally hooked up with an old friend on-line, professional comic book artist, Rob Davis. Rob had worked for both Marvel and DC at one time, doing Star Trek titles for them. He’s a truly gifted graphic storyteller and both of us bemoaned the fact that we’d never had the opportunity to work together. On a gamble, I sent Rob the graphic novel script and asked him his opinion of it. I was pleasantly surprised when he responded saying he liked it a lot but his wife liked it ever more so. She totally zeroed in on the romantic core of this tale.

Can you tell me more about the artist Rob Davis?
Rob has been an artist since 1986 when he began illustrating role-playing game modules for Mayfair Games (DC Heroes role playing game) and Iron Crown Enterprises (Champions super-heroes role playing game) and has been a working professional artist/illustrator ever since.

His first “hit” comics work was on the Adult-oriented comic book Scimidar from Malibu Comics. He penciled and inked the historic fantasy character Merlin for Malibu. At about this same time Rob became associated with Innovation Comics’ Dave Campiti where with writers Michael Vance and R.A. Jones the Sci-Fi/Suspense Series Straw Men was published and also collaborated on a prequel to “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” called “Captain Nemo” at Rip Off Press.

Rob worked on Maze Agency (a critically acclaimed “Thin Man” type of Mystery -Detective series) for Innovation Comics, that lead to Quantum Leap (based on the popular Science Fiction television series)that in turn lead to DC Comics’ two Star Trek comic books (Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Star Trek with Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the original Enterprise Crew). He worked for Marvel Comics in Hanna Barbera’s Pirates Of Dark Water Saturday-morning cartoon sword and sorcery/fantasy adventure show. Then later returned to Malibu Comics and worked on Star Tek: Deep Space Nine for nearly three years doing Mini-Series and fill-in work.

(Artist Rob Davis)

Since then Rob has worked on various video game design projects and comics stories for Caliber (including Robyn of Sherwood #4 with writer Paul Storrie, and Legends of Camelot: Merlin with writer Jeff Limke), Sundragon comics, and Arrow Comics ( Camelot’s Last Knight with Jeff Limke). In addition, he has worked as a Graphic Designer on a wide variety of projects that include illustrating a number of prose novels (Brother Grim, and Hounds of Hell, the Captain Hazzard and Secret Agent “X” series’ all from Wildcat Books).

In addition to The Daughter of Dracula, we’re also collaborating on a weekly political cartoon called The Dubya Chronicles, Modernpulp.com and “Dr.Satan”, a 1930’s “pulp” fiction story!

How long did you work on this project?
Rob said he’d love to draw the project, but he simply did not have a much free time to devote to it. At best he could promise only one page a week. Doing the math was easy enough, at 108 pages, this would take him a little over two years to complete. Maybe other writes would have been put off by this, but after already investing two years on the writing, I was more than willing to ride it out longer if I could if I could get Rob on board. With Rob I was guaranteed beautiful artwork. And that is what he delivered, far my beyond my wildest expectations. Each week he would digitally show me a new page and each seemed to be better than the last one. As the weeks turned into months and then years, I realized Rob Davis was creating the masterpiece of his art career. Early this year he turned in page 108 and the book, a four year journey for me, was finished!!

Daugther of Dracula, Page 6 Daugther of Dracula, Page 7 Daugther of Dracula, Page 8 Daugther of Dracula, Page 9 Daugther of Dracula, Page 10

Who is the publisher?
I tried to interest publishers in taking this on. Alas, although we were given glowing remarks at the beauty of our book, we simply could not find a publisher willing to take it on. Perhaps it was the adult nature of the story, it is sexually explicit and there is of course violence and blood-letting aplenty. Kind of hard to tell a vampire story any other way. In the end, having faith in what we had achieved here, Rob and I chose to self-publish DAUGHTER OF DRACULA.

Who did the cover art and what was the inspiration?
I had worked with cover painter, Mark Maddox, in the past as he had done one of my recent pulp novel covers. In thinking about what image I wanted on the book, I kept coming back to the idea of depicting blatant eroticism with an icon of the period. Sex sells. But I didn’t want just another “bad girl” pin-up. The Blue Max was the medal awarded the Red Baron. Hmm, what if that were seen hanging over the ample bosom of a vampire damsel?

I wrote Mark and explained my idea, to include the fact we would not reveal complete face. To do so would have humanized her and I want something primal. Showing her bosom and teeth above her red lips would do that. At first Mark thought I was crazy and almost refused to do the painting, but in the end we compromised. He did a complete painting, with face and all, but then cropped it for our use. He will eventually be offering prints of the entire painting. Still, after seeing our cover, he finally admitted to me I was right to have it done this way.

The book was printed two weeks ago at Ka-Blam, an internet on-demand publisher, and is now available for sale at there Indy Planet store site. Already friend and family who have been aware of our efforts these past few years are eagerly coming forth to get their hands on this book and we are sitting on pins and needles awaiting their feedback.

Four years of my life, two of Rob’s. Was it worth it? I leave it to you to tell us.
Thanks ever,
Ron Fortier

Reviews Ghost Zero

“Graphic Tales” Reviews Ghost Zero
Interview with Dave Flora
by Lillian Hawkins [LilyHawk]
After reading about you, and poking around online, I am terribly curious to confirm what is your mystery “day job”? (I’m guessing you are a professor ūüėČ
[Dave Flora] (I’ll skip the “well, I’d be forced to kill you” line.) Actually, though I have taught a few classes, I’m not a professor. My job title is “Training Coordinator for the Distance Learning Office” at my university. What that boils down to is: I train faculty on the use of various technologies so that they can be effective at delivering online courses. I really enjoy helping people, and I have no problem with public speaking, so this is right up my alley.
Ghost Zero
author Dave Flora
(Author Dave Flora)

With all of the media attention on Freemasons as of late, do you get any unusual or negative attention because you are an active Freemason? What kind of inspiration and ideas do you draw from your experience as a Freemason?
I live in a rural, small-town area of Kentucky, so while the people here are great, they are pretty distrusting. I’ve had comments about Freemasonry being a “cult”, and some strange glances, but really the positive connections have outweighed by far any bad experiences. In fact, the media attention that Masonry has gotten has actually made people more curious as to what it’s all about. I’m very proud to tell them whatever I can..which is quite a bit. There are only some parts that I can’t disclose‚Ķmore because I promised not to, than they were ‘secrets that must be kept’. As far as the impact Freemasonry has on my work, it really drives home the point that things are not usually what they seem. I mean, this old country guy in worn clothes pumping gas into his car may be on his way to his Lodge where he may don the robes of a long-dead king and recite a biblical verse during an initiation. I love the contradictions that seem inherent in people’s lives. There’s nobility or horror in places you wouldn’t expect.

You have been a freelance illustrator and done quite a few magazines and RPG games some years ago. Can you tell me more about some of the things you created? What magazines and games did your work appear in?
Well, I was first published in a short-lived pen-and-paper RPG magazine called “The Familiar”. They had seen my portfolio at a convention. Curiously, I got my first job because the artist that was illustrating an article killed himself before finishing and I was called in. Quite a tragic way to get your first work published! I did some pin-up illustrations in some Indy comics, did interior art for the “Middle Earth” RPG by Iron Crown Enterprises, and a bunch of others that were around in the early 1990’s that aren’t anymore. It was a great experience as an artist‚Ķmy first work with deadlines‚Ķ.but not much money, so I put it all on the back burner and focused on my education and getting full-time work.

I noticed that at one time you were trying out a piece of software called “Comic Life”, are you still using it? As I have worked closely with a lot of digital artists, I’m curious if you have a preference of mediums between pen and ink versus digital? Do you see a trend towards digital happening with comic book illustrators?
I do use Comic Life, and though it’s not perfect, it’s a great piece of software. I’m a big proponent of using whatever tool you need to get the art where it needs to be. I’ll always start on paper with ink and markers, but then I’ll scan it into Photoshop and use it as almost a raw material‚Ķ.cutting, moving, adjusting, layering, etc. The digital toolbox has really changed the shape of creating and publishing art‚Ķnot just making it faster, but making tools accessible to artists that never were before. The versatility that is available to creators now as opposed to 10 years ago is boggling!

The REVENANT, Ghosts with Guns, Garage Kit The REVENANT, Ghosts with Guns, Official Release The REVENANT, Ghosts with Guns in…CHILLING COLOR

I discovered your Revenant character in the GZ archives and enjoyed watching the progression and evolution of the story. Then I stumbled up the really cool sculpture of Revenant done by Eric Nocella Diaz. The progression of the character and the sculpture was fun to put together. Are the sculptures still available? Where can the entire collection of all your Revenant comics be located?
Eric Nocella Diaz is almost a mentor to me in comics. Not only is he an incredibly talented artist and sculptor, but he’s been involved in independent comics for years. I had no idea that sending him an email out of the blue to ask about a sculpture would have formed the relationship we have now‚Ķit’s one of the magical things about making indy comics. Yes, we do sell the bust as a resin kit for $65 or fully painted and assembled for $150. Anyone who is interested, can email me at daveflora1968@yahoo.com. I started putting my webcomic, called “Tales of the Revenant” then, on Drunkduck.com in January of 2007, and you can still see it there from the start at http://www.drunkduck.com/Tales_of_the_Revenant/

I have to admit I was oddly disappointed to see the change of names from Revenant to Ghost Zero. After reading through all the archives and seeing the sculpture I was quickly developing an affinity for the name. I also saw the following you had developed. Why did you decide to change the name? Tell me about “Ghost Zero”. What’s the inspiration behind the new name?
Ah yes. That was a big decision indeed. The impetus for changing the name was that Image was launching a book called “Revenant”, and I didn’t want any reader to be confused. So, I decided to come up with a more unique name for the character. The name had to fit several categories:
(1) It had to be something that a 14-year old boy would come up with in 1947.
(2) It had to have a classic “pulp” feel to it to fit the character.
(3) It had to hold up over several years….the story with Eddie goes from 1947 to 1968.
So, I chose Ghost Zero. Actually, the name will have a very interesting meaning as the story arc develops.

You seem to have developed quite a pulp following judging from all the Revenant fan art. Can we look forward to seeing Revenant in “Ghosts with Guns” coming out later this month? What can we expect to see in your new book?
Yes indeed. The “Ghosts with Guns” book is nearly complete‚Ķwe’re just waiting for a couple more pin-ups from a couple of really talented guys. It’s really exciting. GwG will be a re-work of the webcomic stories with professional lettering put into place by Anthony Schiavino, sketch pages, pin-ups, and brand new-never seen before GZ art! The design and style of the book is really breath-taking and I couldn’t be more pleased. It’s a visual cross between a 1930’s pulp magazine and a classic, 1950’s horror film.
Ghost Zero, Curse of the Murder Machine
Ghost Zero
Curse of the Murder Machine

Also, I’ve begun work on the first 3-comic story arc for GZ called “Escape from the Vigilante Crypt”, which is the origin story of the character. The arc should be complete in mid 2009 (as I can only work on it part-time), but I’m considering releasing each page as a webcomic as I create them. I’m also writing the first GZ novel called “Curse of the Murder Machine”, which I hope to have complete and ready for publishing by the end of the year. It looks like 2008 is going to be great.)

Ghost Zero, Sea of the Dead, Panel 3 Ghost Zero Cover Ghost Zero, Fleshless Legion, Pg. 8

When is it coming out and where can we get it?
Well, the book is nearly complete now, and should be finished in another week or so and ready to go to the publisher. I’m using Ka-Blam, a Print-on-Demand publisher, so the comic will be available directly through me, as well as their Indyplanet site. I would also like to have an electronic version up on Wowio as well. I’ll have official press announcements on the Ghost Zero Blog at http://ghost0zero.com .

Graphic Tales: Interview with Jerry Beck

uesday, February 19, 2008 – 07:22 PM

Who is Jerry Beck, the horror artist?
How long have you been an artist?

Before I begin let me compliment you on such a wonderful name. I like the name Lillian. As for Jerry Beck, the horror artist? All the things that I love to draw are all the things I loved as kid…or in some cases, loved to hate.

Seriously, many of the things that scared me most, are the things I’ve come to embrace the most (in my artwork).

As for how long I’ve been an artist. It was something I enjoyed doing from the earliest of ages. But I never took it seriously til’ after high school, around 1991.

What got you started in art?
As a kid, my mother and Aunt Kathy were absolute horror movie fanatics. The stories I’d over here them tell, coupled with a Saturday afternoon show called “Super-Host” and another show called “The Hilarious House of Frightenstein” very, very influencial. Super Host would play Godzilla and all the great Universal Monster films. At a very early age, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Sr. and Jr., and Bela Lugosi captivated me.

Jerry Beck, Evil ErnieJerry Beck, Wicked JesterWhen did you know you wanted to get into the horror genre?
Specifically, in high school. Frankenstein was assigned to us in english class. I was introduced to the illustrated version by Berni Wrightson. A couple years after high school I finally decided to get serious about the art. I just didnt know what direction to go with it.

If I’m gonna dedicate my life to this art thing I’m gonna need to delve into something I enjoy. Comic books and sequential art were the direction I thought I’d fit in with best. I knew very little of the biz, so I enrolled in the Joe Kubert School around 1992, to get my feet wet.

I loved the experience, although I never finished the final year due to the birth of my son, Kaylon. It was at the Kubert school that I really became immersed in the old school horror genre.

Jerry Beck, Halloween IIJerry Beck, Warrior
Was there a particular inspiration or event that lead you in this direction?
The aforementioned Wrightson “Frankenstein” book got my blood flowing.

Do you use traditional tools or digital? If digital what software/hardware?
Very much the traditional stuff‚Ķ.Pencils, erasers, dip pens, nibs, india ink(Higgins Black Magic) and the trusty brush. I’d love to learn photoshoppe, Dream Weaver, or Corel (Or all of them. LOL!), but I’m completely unfamiliar with them as of this writing.

What inspires your wonderfully dark and frightening work?
Much of it stems from my childhood. From the stories my mom and Aunt would tell, to the overwhelming catholic environment I grew up in. The likeness of a man nailed to a cross through out the house was creepy. The tortured and left for dead image of Jesus bothered me deeply. On the other hand, from a very graphic perspective, I’m very much color-blind. So, I knew from day one in art school that whenever I created artwork there would be no intention on my part to color it.Jerry Beck, Something WickedJerry Beck, SlipKnot It had to have a ton of depth as it stood alone, in black and white.

It seems like you are really tight with your family. You’re obviously very protective of your kids (“‚Ķlet I not forget‚Ķ I cant wait to meet the boys that try to date my daughters.”), close with your mom and brother. Your comment about your father “being very misunderstood” struck a chord, and if I am not being too personal, I wondered what you meant. Did the situation with your dad impact you with regards to your art?
One day I came home from school and my dad was gone. I was about 5, my brother,3.

The stories that were told to me as kid left alot of questions in my head. My father would rarely call, and rarely be seen. When someone you love leaves your life‚Ķit’s painful. When that person comes back, it’s uplifting! But then they disappear again‚Ķand the void grows deeper. That happened time and time again. It made me very empty inside. I don’t want my kids to be without their dad. I want them to always be near me, whether it’s a phone call away, or a hallway away.

As for my dad being misunderstood, I now know the truth about him and I feel bad for him. He had a very hard life, and had to make some very serious decisions. He doesn’t even know that I know.

Jerry Beck, Something WickedWhat kind of creative mischief are you up to now?
As of now, I’m swamped.
I got my hands in alot of main-stream stuff. www.ironasylum.com is my line geared towards hardcore athletes. It re-opens in March.
Iron Asylum
I have a line geared toward the Cleveland Browns called Rabid Zone, that debuts for training camp this year.
I do the artwork for extreme clothing company, www.wickedjester.com
I do artwork for Muscular Development magazine.
And I’m slowly resurrecting my dark comic-book tale:
SOMETHING WICKED.
Just to name a few.

What creative mischief would you like to cook up in the future?
I love what I’m pursuing professionally. More than anything, I want SOMETHING WICKED to work. I’d love to see it become a film. But, honestly, I get up every day really amped about the possibilities for the day before me. I love what I do. Excessive amounts of money would serve others far better than myself. If one of these projects really takes off, I’m taking care of my family and kids to a fuller degree. But as for me, I’m doing what I want to be doing. I’m very lucky to have this ability. But it’s very much untapped. I have a lot of learning to do. Keep an eye on me, I’m far from done.

Thanks for the opportunity, Lillian.
I appreciate your support.
Jer

Thanks for taking with me Jerry. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the creative mind behind the wicked cool art. I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more you and your creative mischief!!

Odyssey

Trapped in this odyssey
Punishing the sin in me
Giving what you want from me
Leaving me the enemy
I’m screaming

Kill me with those facist smiles
Open up, we’ll talk for miles
Speak of things like chronic dreams
Butterflies with broken wings
Rainbows that are off a shade
Why clouded ceilings never fade
Tell me that the dog got spayed
I’m dreaming

Lying just to prove you can
I believed, so you’re a man
Smashing hearts and aching fingers
Popping pills, but it still lingers
Keep my voice inside of me
I’m the reason that you’re free
Cover me with ecstacy
We’re flying

There’s something pulling me
within that box inside my mind
I try to fight it, but it wins
So there goes all my pride

You bring me down

Falling into floating feelings
Trust for me is not appealing
Tears on faces start to shimmer
Chances of our love grow slimmer

Oh, why

Light myself a cigarette
and start to come unglued
Gouging out the eyes of vultures
puts me in the mood
Emotions flown into the distance
Darkness smothering
Tried to fight the consequences
Now I’m shattering

Don’t you know I hate it
when you’re strong
You’re always wrong
Don’t you know how hard
this is for me once you’re gone
And you’ve been gone, so long
Aaah

You bring me down

Falling into floating feelings
Trust for me is not appealing
Tears on faces start to shimmer
Chances of our love grow slimmer
In the distance there is violence
Eating me alive like silence
All I want from you are lies
Truth repels me, just like flies
I’m dying

You bring me down down down
Face first in the dirt
Why am I the one to hurt
Live my life on borrowed time
Clinging to what I can find
Whatever I call mine, mine
Such tragedy
And me

You bring me down

Sons of Avalon: Merlin’s Prophecy


Monday, August 04, 2008

I am truly delighted to finally get the chance to do this particular interview. I’ve been impatiently waiting to interview Dee-Marie about this book for almost four years.

You see, I’ve had the pleasure of working closing with this phenomenal woman for several years at one of the largest digital art sites on the Internet. During the time I’ve known her, I have greatly admired her professionalism, attention to detail, sense of fairness, her warm, generous and gentle nature.

Dee-Marie, Award Winning AuthorShe was also the toughest, most exacting, and picky editor you could possibly imagine. And I LOVED her for it…well, at least most of the time. Although we have never met in person, I know we are kindred spirits and I will always consider her a dear friend. Dee-Marie is an award-winning author, editor and artist and I am admittedly one of her biggest fans.

When we started working together Dee-Marie was the Managing Editor of a an internationally published computer graphic magazine, and later became the Editor in Chief of the Front Page News at the Renderosity Art Community. She is an accomplished interviewer and skilled writer as demonstrated by her long list of credits, which can be found here: http://www.renderosity.com/news.php?viewStory=13127.

While we were working together I discovered Dee-Marie’s hidden passion for “All things Arthurian” and that she was writing her first Arthurian novel. I’ve been on the side-lines prodding, I mean encouraging, her along the way, and not so patiently waiting for her to finish this brilliant labor of love.

Lucky for me, during this creative process the tables turned and I got the chance to edit her work! (Yes, that was a interesting turn of the tide.) While reading the manuscript, I knew this book was something special, something magical. The vivid tale she spun about “The Sons of Avalon” had me in it’s masterful grip immediately and then left me breathless and wanting more even after the final chapter. While we celebrate the release of her first novel, I admit I am already eager to read the next book.

I would like to introduce you to Dee-Marie as she shares some of the secrets behind “The Sons of Avalon”:
Sons of Avalon: Merlin’s Prophecy
What was the inspiration behind your novel, Sons of Avalon: Merlin’s Prophecy?
One night, when I had just slipped into slumber, I felt the soft breath of a whisper upon my ear. I rolled over, thinking it was perhaps one of the dogs (although the dogs don’t whisper in my ear at night, they often have the overwhelming urge to explore my inner ears with their tongues at the oddest of hours).

Over the next few nights, the whispering re-occurred, until in an audible voice, I could hear Merlin’s soft-spoken words, his breath a sweet mixture of honey and cloves (this time I knew right away that it wasn’t the dogs, as their breath smells of‚Ķwell anyone who is owned by a dog knows what a dog’s breath smells like). [soft laughter]

“Get up‚ĶI have a story to tell you.” Merlin’s breath tickled my earlobe as his words flowed subtly into my imagination, awaking long forgotten ancient memories.

And, so it began, years of nightly visits and endless nights of sleep, as I fell under Merlin’s spell.

How long have you been working on the first book of your Sons of Avalon series?
The logical answer, Merlin first came to me in a lucid dream, over ten years ago. However, I have been working on the book a lifetime.

My personal library is overflowing with both novels and research books that delve into the Arthurian Legends, as well as works of Druids, Stonehenge, and Celts.

The setting and characters are so well developed. What kind of research did you do to make it so believable?
I consider the book a work of historical fantasy. Although it is a retelling of Merlin’s youth, I have also been cognizant of historical surroundings of the story’s time line. For you cannot truly understand 5th and 6th century Britain, without first studying the ancient Romans and Greeks. It is both a fascinating, as well as a complicated era, and I have an extensive collection of British, Roman, and Greek history.

Map of Britain, including Londinium, the setting for the Sons of AvalonI was especially interested in the history of London, as a great deal of my novel takes place within the ancient walled Roman city of Londinium. Where, in 1988, archaeologists unearthed a Roman amphitheatre. This modern day discovery was a pivotal setting in the first book of my Sons of Avalon series.

When the book was in its many final draft stages, I felt an overwhelming need to visit Britain-to experience the land on which Merlin walked. Four years ago, I traveled to the home of the Arthurian Legends, and was privileged to be granted permission to walk within the ancient ruins. It was truly a mystical experience to touch the ancient stones, and humbly amble within the shadow of the ancient gods. From that visit, three essential chapters were born that deal exclusively with ancient Druid ceremonial events and Celtic lore within and surrounding Stonehenge.

However, the favorite site that I explored was Tintagel. The castle nestled atop a massive stone island jetting out of the sea on the wild northwestern coast of Cornwall.

Who did the cover art?
I originally asked my good friend and amazing artist, Tony Sellars (better known as Bigt) to create the cover for the first book. Unfortunately, at the time I first contacted Tony, the book was still in its infancy. Needless to say, the original cover art was beautiful, but unfortunately during marketing previews, it did not reflect the final version of the book. I am however, planning to rewrite a version of the first book for a younger audience, which would fit Tony’s artwork perfectly.

Fortunately, my closest friend and alter ego, D. M. Haskell, came to my rescue. After researching the book, she came up with the concept for the final design for the current cover. She is also working on the covers for the next two books. I would also like to thank you, Lillian, and Client, for spending time previewing the variety of cover ideas.

Why did you choose to self-publish when there were interested publishers waiting in the wings?
There are far too many pros and cons to fully list why I created my own publishing company, instead of going with one of the big publishing houses. However, I will do my best to give a “reader’s digest” version to your question.

First, and the most important reason I decided to self-publish‚ĶI fell head-over-heels with the art of publishing while working as a Managing Editor (and later Editor-in-Chief), of an international print publication. I had the itch, the craving, the knowledge, and along with Adobe’s amazing InDesign software bundle, I had all the resources. So, self-publishing felt like the logical progression.

Secondly, once the book was written (and edited ad nauseam), I wanted to follow in the footsteps of one of my favorite authors, Virginia Woolf, and discover the fun and frustration of establishing a small publishing house.

There is a fine line between the downside and upside of publishing your own work. Being responsible for every aspect of the book is extremely time consuming; from editing (although I was blessed with several professional editors, ultimately the final edits were my responsibility), to page layout, printing, promotion and marketing.

There have been many days that I wish I could spend on the creation of the second and third book of the series, but instead my hours are currently consumed with the business of promoting and selling the first novel. I admit, that on those days, I do have second thoughts about “doing it all” myself.
Conceptual Images Publishing
Also, the worst obstacle of self-publishing is the stigma that self-publishers endure. Many people often erroneously put self-publisher in the same category as vanity publishing. The reality is, that anyone (with an idea for a story and enough money), can become a published author. The bottom line…what truly sets self-publishing apart from vanity presses is the professionalism of the finished product. I am proud of C. I. Publishing, and consider it a legitimate and professional small publishing house.

The advantages and pitfalls of going with a big established house are also numerous. The biggest advantage is having the publisher do all the grunt work: editing, publishing, printing, distribution, and marketing. The disadvantages are that the author relinquishes control over the book to the publisher (which can include the cover art as well as the book’s title).

Would I ever go with an established publisher? Possibly-if the timing was right and the contract was to my liking. [Puts a pretend phone to her ear, and mouths the words‚Ķ”Call Me!”]

Has the book been released yet? Where can people buy it?
I received the first galley copy in February of this year. It then went through additional editing and fine-tuning before officially going global in April.
Sons of Avalon: Merlin’s Prophecy, can be purchased through the following online book stores:

Sons of Avalon at Barnes and NobleSons of Avalon at Amazon.comSons of Avalon at the Book Depository

If your local bookstore does not carry Sons of Avalon: Merlin’s Prophecy, be sure to ask them to contact our distributor, Ingram, and order you a copy‚Ķheck, ask them to order tons of copies. [Way evil grin]

Do you have plans for a second book? Will it be a continuation of the first story?
The first draft of the second book is nearly complete, and an outline for the third book in the series has been compiled.

The first novel in the Sons of Avalon series explores the birth and adolescence of Merlin, climaxing with the conception of Arthur. It also delves into Druid ceremony and Celtic Lore. Although I have followed the traditional Arthurian Legends, what makes my story different is that it also explores Sir Lot’s coming of age, his relationship to Merlin and Uther, and his initial love affair with Morgause.

The second book begins with the birth of Arthur. The third book in the series ends with the demise of Camelot.

Was there anything unexpected you discovered during the creative process of manifesting the book from an idea to final print?
Along the long road from conception to publication, my biggest discovery was that my characters (especially Merlin) came to life. I would often find myself in deep theological discussions with Merlin about seemingly mundane details. At first, it was a very surreal experience to have several distinct personalities mulling around my imagination…in armor no less.

What words of encouragement would you give to other aspiring authors?
Stay positive. Never stop learning about your craft. Read, read, read…not just in your genre, but read everything you can get your hands on. Write, write, write…even when you do not feel like writing. To get a sense for dialog, eavesdrop on conversations in public places.

Listen and learn from your critics‚Ķdon’t get discouraged‚Ķtake away what you think is important and “let go” of the rest. When sending out your work to potential publishers‚Ķremember that every no is closer to a yes. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to succeed, and never give up on your dreams!

Thank you so much for sharing your creative soul with us!
Thank you so much Lillian and Clint for your continued support and your friendship!

Gateways to the Otherworld

Saturday, October 25, 2008

the journey through the “Gateways to the Otherworld” is not for the faint of heart, nor the light reader. This is a thoroughly researched, highly educational work that exhaustively explores many different aspects, locations, and definitions of a multitude of mysterious portals. But, for those willing to take this journey, you will walk away with a deeper understanding and appreciation of what these gateways are and how to access them.

To begin, you start with a well defined understanding of what is meant by a “Gateway”. There are so many differing ideas that come to mind depending on one’s religious background. The book takes you through many of these ideologies and propels you into higher esoteric realms of information.

Once the definition is clearly established, the Shaman emerges as our guide to take us farther along this winding path. We exploration ancient civilizations and their intimate understanding of our resonate connection to the earth and how intertwined they were to the Serpent Realm.

Then comes the Science of the Gateways. It was grounding to see a writer willing to bring the science of electromagnetism and energy into the information being presented. It solidified and quantified what up until then was a historical review and reflection. Suddenly through science, the gateways become tangible, real and attainable.

A curious soul will learn a lot about the history, reasons and science behind the Great Pyramids, Stonehenge, Avebury, round towers and many other such gateways. But the knowledge does not come easily or quickly. One must first walk the inward swirling path of information that slowly builds upon itself and connects all the pieces together, starting with the Serpent Realm. There are ancient insights that were some how lost to us. Now modern science is confirming what the ancients already knew. The use of crystals, drumming, fires, chanting and trance all play an important role in the process.

The book takes a delightfully personal turn when Philip shares his personal explorations and use of light and sound machines, of which I am intimately familiar. The information on brain waves and the Schumann Resonance, aka The Holy Grail Frequency is paramount in understanding how to access the gateway. The experiment to reproduce the shamanic gateway experience was my favorite part of the book!

All this knowledge lays a firm foundation for applying historical techniques and principals so the reader may walk away with insight on how to access the Otherworld for themselves, should they so desire.

I recommend this book for those that are truly serious about taking a journey out of the body, and into “The Otherworld”.

COLD BLOODED CHILLERS

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Recently I received the first two issues of “Cold Blooded Chillers” written by Robert M. Heske. I’m not typically an avid comic book reader. However, these are not your typical comic books. These issues are reminiscent of “Tales from the Crypt” short stories, except they are darker and more chilling!

Written entirely by Heske, the story lines take us on a dark, twisted, wicked journey through ‚Äútales of suburban murder and malice‚ÄĚ. If you enjoy bizarre, dramatically inked tales of murder with surprise endings these comics are for you!

The first issue contains four short stories within its covers, each more sinister than the last. It starts with “Lost and Found”, illustrated by Scott Austin, where a parent’s worst nightmare plays out in a gut wrenching instant to be followed by the hope of a happy ending, which doesn’t come. I might never bring my kid to the mall again.

The next tale ‚ÄúFalse Pretenses,‚ÄĚ with art by Zeu and lettering by Alain Norte, should serve as a warning to those that would go home with strangers, and to those that bring strangers home. You never know what you’re getting yourself into, until it’s too late! Well done!

“The Waiting Room”, illustrated by Preston Asevedo, with lettering by Jesse James Wroblewski, keep me waiting for the karma that the story line makes you wish would come. But, I had to wait to read it until after the kids went to bed. In the end, it did not disappoint with the mangled death that satisfied an angry desire for justice.

Illustrated by Neil ‘Moz’ Morrissey, “Mishap” was one of those situations that you hope never happens. You start out with one fatal mishap that leads to another, and well‚Ķyou know, things just get out of hand until there’s quite a mess to clean up!

The art work and story lines flowed well together and the entire issue kept me turning the pages. However, I had to turn the pages when the kiddies were not around. Don’t leave these comics laying around the house unless everyone is over 17. These publications are by their nature and theme adult comics. These are not intended for young readers, or those that are faint of heart.

Issue #2 contains three more short stories that continue to expose tales of suburban murder and malice. Illustrated by Zeu and lettered by Alain Norte, the first story, “Dead Dog” was wonderfully well done! Makes you mindful to keep a close eye on the neighbors.

“Misnomer,” illustrated by Alain Norte, was a fun bit of Halloween Trick or Treating with the trick at the end being the treat of the story.

‚ÄúHer First Day Alone‚ÄĚ, illustrated by Monty Borror, documents the ills of what could happen when you combine postpartum depression, too much TV and missed doses of antipsychotic medication. I had to read this one a couple of times to make sure I actually got the full impact of the ending. What an ending! It was one that would have been quite worthy of an appearance in “Tales from the Crypt”, one of my favorite shows!

The colorful and creepy cover and interior cover art pages were created by Mark Chilcott. These were the visual hook that sucked me into these frightening tales. The black and white story art was created by the talented folks listed below:
Preston Asevedo
Scott Austin
Monty Borror
Eliseu “ZEU” Gouveia
Neil ‘Moz’ Morrissey
Alain Norte
Jesse James Wroblewski
The master mind behind the project is writer Robert Heske. Robert is a screenwriter with multiple short and feature options, IMDB credits, and a co-creation agreement with Studio 407 to turn his horror script THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST into a 4-part comic book series and graphic novel. He’s even got his own comic book entity ‚ÄĒ Heske Horror.

It is through Heske Horror that Robert discovered an outlet for several of his dark short film scripts that had been collecting dust while waiting for them to be “discovered.” Robert was working on THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST with Studio 407, when he gained a deep appreciation of the comic book artform and soon realized it was easier and cheaper than making a short film.

This retooling and redirection of his writing has paid off with great reviews for COLD BLOODED CHILLERS on several sites including USA Today Online and Reuters!

Both issues of “Cold Blooded Chillers, Tales of Suburban Murder and Malice‚ÄĚ kept me on the edge of my seat, turning pages and turning on lights. These creepy and chilling issues are sure to thrill the horror lover in you and can be purchased at coldbloodedchillers.com for only 3 bucks each, a great price for these shocking stories and awesome artwork!

Stay tuned for more creepy fear-fare ahead – Heske tells me that issue three of Cold Blooded Chillers (the supernatural issue) will be available in January, along with a “best-of” anthology called BONE CHILLER: 8 Great Scares. Also coming down the horror pipeline: SHADOW CHRONICLES and THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST, two color titles to be released by indie publisher Studio 407 at book stores and comic shops in January and February 2009.

All That Matters Is Love

Monday, December 22, 2008

Each generation has fallen in love with vampire lore. Over the years, vampires have grown from frightening monsters, to erotic sex symbols. The most infamous: Bram Stoker’s formidable Dracula‚ĶAnne Rice’s sensual Lestat‚Ķand Joss Whedon‚Äôs brooding Angel. The twenty-first century has given birth to Stephenie Meyer‚Äôs heartthrob vampire, Edward Cullen.

Twilight the movie (based on the Twilight Saga novels), revolves around the tug-and-pull relationship between two star-crossed lovers . . . the super-cool vampire, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson); who has been seventeen for ‚Äúa while‚ÄĚ . . . and his lust-interest, the young, vulnerable human, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart); the girl with average good looks and a mouth-watering scent.

If you come to the theatre expecting to see blood, guts, gore, sex, and fangs, you will be highly disappointed. Although action-packed moments are scattered about, Twilight is not your average vampire blood-letting tale. It is instead, a love story between two tormented, lonely souls‚Ķa meeting of soul mates‚Ķand to the movie’s credit it never lets you forget that love drives the plotline.

Considering that the 544 page novel was condensed to a mere two hours, the movie stayed relatively true to the book; even using many lines from Meyer’s original dialog. In the novel, Bella often refers to Edward as an angel. In one of my favorite scenes, Edward and Bella encounter each other for the first time in the Chemistry Lab. Edward‚Äôs chair is situated in front of a Snow Owl, and throughout the scene, it appears as if Edward is sporting angel wings.

Though the script is steeped in teen-angst, I was pleasantly surprised at the abundance of humorous moments. The dry-wit of Bella’s father (Billy Burke) was dead-on funny…from the gun cleaning scene to the running joke about the pepper spray.

Alas, many of the ‚Äúlittle moments,‚ÄĚ that made the book so endearing to its fans, were excluded. Like the critical triangle between Edward, Bella and Jacob (which was played-down), as was the interaction between Bella and her human classmates. Overall, the book‚Äôs main plot points were there: the chemistry lab encounter, the truck accident, the baseball game, the sparkle, and the final vampire showdown.

I was also grateful that there was indeed a mutual sense of attraction between Pattinson and Stewart. Their portrayal of Edward and Bella stayed true to their characters’ passionate natures. Edward Cullen (one of the few vampires with a last name) remained a fangless, walk around on a cloudy day, never slumbering, impervious to death by sun, vampire…with control over his bloodlust for human plasma. And, the human lead, Bella Swan, remained the angst-ridden, awkward teenage girl that he craved.

The biggest faux pas was the Cullen’s house. With the studio already gearing up for the second movie in the saga, the director should have known that the house plays a major role in the future books. It propels the action. It was a beautiful house, but it was not the “right” house, nor, more importantly, it was not the correct setting

In the end, ‚ÄúTwilight‚ÄĚ, the movie, is a love story, plain and simple. Does it have bloodsucking vampires? Is there murder and mayhem? Does it tell the tale of an immortal wishing to overpower the life of a sweet young mortal? Yes, yes, yes! Still, Twilight transcends the stereotype boy-bites-girl bloody vampire feast. After all, in the end, all that matters is love.

Oh, and if you overhear someone asking if they brought a snack…you might want to move to the next row.

Masks

Monday, January 12, 2009

Masks is written and drawn by Aaron Rintoul. Aaron has earned a spot among the established ranks of impressive self taught artists. He is generally influenced by diverse films and by his wife Erica, David Mack, Roman Dirge, Dave McKean, and Ben Templesmith. His creative arsenal includes a Mac, a Wacom tablet, Corel Painter X, Adobe Photoshop CS4 and a Canon 40D digital camera. His artistic style is a blend of traditional comic lettering, and photography, combined with a digital painting technique that gives his work a dream like feel.

The Masks promotional information states that it is a photographic poem as well as an exploration into the nature of identity. The story takes place inside the psyche of a girl named Sarah, who sees pieces of others’ past lives as well as memories of her own as she follows a phantom killer and his victims through a distorted reality.

Sarah sees the world like a dream where the images and words string together a fantasy that she lives out through the eyes of the girls killed by a phantom serial murderer. Sarah is confused about her identity and the landscape she travels as she jumps from pieces of the victim’s lives, their dreams and fears, catching only abstract glimpses of the killer.

This creative volume raises the question‚Ķ”What exactly is a comic?” Does it have to follow the old, tried and true formula in order to be classified as a comic? This question could probably be debated endlessly. Thus, it goes into the graphic novel area. But, no matter how you classify it, Masks is a visually stunning creation with a deeply disturbing story running through it’s veins.

The images are dark and gritty, yet elegant and beautiful. Masks is very fitting in this age of self exploration and analysis, where everyone says they just want to “keep it real”. Really? How real is too real? Then begs the question of “what is really going on here”? Masks gracefully dances through visions and voices and lets the reader decide who they belong to and what’s going on.

When I first read Masks, I got the impression that Sarah herself had witnessed various atrocities, or caused them, and had understandably lost her grasp on reality resulting in her need to wear various masks. I didn’t come to the conclusion that she was seeing visions of other girls that were victims killed by a serial murderer until after I read the prelude statements regarding this graphic novel.

Regardless of how you choose to interpret the story, I recommend watching the fantastic Masks trailer below and reading the impressive first issue. I was mesmerized! This is by far one of the most breathtaking graphic novels I have seen. I leave it up to each of you to interpret the story as you will and come to your own conclusions about Masks.

Graphic Tales Uncovers The Wildman from Kentucky

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Recently I read the book, The Wildman of Kentucky, The Mystery of Panther Rock by Philip Spencer. I was impressed because of the book’s personal nature and the respectful tone. The story was very personal in nature because Anderson County, Kentucky is where Philip grew up.

Philip Spencer grew up in in the town of Lawrenceburg, with an insatiable curiosity for everything, he has been seeking answers to the mysteries of life, death and the paranormal since childhood. A 30-year veteran investigator, he has amassed hundreds of case files in his research of strange events that have occurred around the world. Bigfoot however, is the author’s preferred area of research as in Anderson County, Kentucky, there have been many sightings of the enigmatic creature known the world over. His first book, The Wildman of Kentucky, The Mystery of Panther Rock, entails these sightings and much more, taking the reader on a journey into the heart of the “Dark and Bloody Ground” one of the most active paranormal places in the nation also known as “The Frazier Land.”

When Philip was a young child he discovered a very unusual, inexplainable track. This was the catalyst that ignited a life-long passion to know what created it. He is alone in discovering strange tracks in this place. There have also been other kinds of encounters with large hairy creatures, strange lights and ghosts. All of these events were centered around a single area…Panther Rock.

Philip carefully researched the history and stories of this place. He personally talked with many of the people that had strange things happen to them in this particular area. His easy going, caring nature, plus the fact he had grown up in Anderson County, put people more at ease when talking about their experiences. I enjoyed the book and wanted to know more.

The other night I had the opportunity to speak with Philip Spencer, author of “The Wildman of Kentucky, The Mystery of Panther Rock” about all of the bizarre things happening in Anderson County, Kentucky. He was gracious enough to agree to a video interview.

Below is the interview with Philip Spencer.