Once I again, I hopped on Aaron’s podcast to talk about one of my favorite action/adventure comics Skullkickers. On this episode, we cover the final volumes of the series and give our thoughts on the series end. Hope you enjoy it.
In today’s world, there’s so much violence and hatred that it gets to be a chore to even bring yourself to want to go outside. I have to admit that there are a lot of days where I struggle to leave the house because I don’t know if I’ll make it back. It was hard enough when there was a possibility that I could be robbed or shot by another civilian but now there’s an even greater fear because videos of police violence and this feeling of not knowing how to prevent that from happening to me.
It is because of this that I find so much comfort in shounen manga and the subsequent anime shows, most recently My Hero Academia. One thing about the characters in shounen manga and anime that resonates with me that I can’t seem to find or haven’t been able to find in Western Comics is fear. A lot of heroes just seem to have a cool head or they show momentary doubts, but they do not get crippled by fear. In many of the anime and manga that I’ve watched when the protagonists go through frightening situations, they are visibly frightened. At least it’s a fear I can relate to (shaking, perhaps on the verge of tears, etc). Still, they all find a way to eventually overcome that fear in a way that is usually more satisfying than what I see in mainstream Western comics and helps me overcome my own fears. This has only become that much more apparent in my watching of My Hero Academia.
In My Hero Academia, the protagonist Izuku is a person in a world of heroes. People have powers called quirks and in this world, almost everyone has a quirk. The kids at his school have quirks, his mom has quirks, his dad has a quirk, everyone has one. Izuku looks forward to having his own work so that he can become a hero like his idol All-Might. Unfortunately, he learns he has a condition that means that he will never develop a quirk which ultimately means that he can’t become a hero. But despite everyone (including All-Might himself) telling him that he can’t, he still wants to be a hero.
The thing that sticks with me about My Hero Academia is the fact that Izuku is unsure of himself. He mumbles, he’s a bit of a hero otaku, and for the most part he’s kind of sad. Yet in the first episode when his biggest tormentor is being held hostage by a villain and no one knows what to do, Izuku runs to save him. He’s shaking and he’s afraid but out of a crowd of heroes, the kid with no powers runs to save the guy who’s been a dick to him forever. The quiet kid who they’ve nicknamed Deku (which means nothing) runs head-on into danger when he has no powers. And he’s not cool about it or dropping one-liners, he’s actually in tears as he runs forward. But the fact that he runs forward with tears in his eyes resonated with me and made me want to watch more of the show. I’ll be honest, I teared up a little because I could somehow find myself relating to that more than anything I’ve seen in mainstream Comics or in mainstream comic films.
As a black person in the United States, there are times where I find myself terrified to leave the house. When people are sharing videos of people who look like you getting brutally shot over small offenses, it doesn’t exactly feel safe. Add to that the general dismissal by the majority of people which make me feel as if my life doesn’t matter and it’s only amplified. If I were to get shot reaching for my wallet or for having my black cell phone in the cup holder (something I tend to do), I can’t help but feel like there are people who will find an excuse as to why it is my fault. There are many times when it feels like this country (and often the world) wants me dead but despite my fears, I find myself wanting to be like Izuku and face my fear head-on. Sometimes I think that’s a part of why Japanese comics in Japanese animation resonate with so many black youth. There are so many times were the protagonist strikes out to overcome world that hates them. They are treated as less and they are often afraid, but they move forward and eventually overcome. I can’t speak for every black person but that resonates with me more then a bunch of superheroes with quips and smirking in the face of danger. It resonates with me a lot.
if you haven’t seen My Hero Academia, I highly recommend it. The show has a lot of heart and I find that the protagonist is much less obnoxious as some of the protagonists in these type of shows can be. The entire first season is currently on Hulu and if it doesn’t follow One Punch Man to Toonami, I will be very surprised.
But to all the people like me who see the news and struggle when it’s time to leave the safety of your house, go beyond. Because no matter what happens, the fact that you kept going in the face of all that is happening makes you a hero. At least to me.
Well, hello there. I do hope that things are going well for you this Independence Day.
I’m still working on getting this new short up, but before that I wanted to toss out some new Kickstarters that I’ve come across that looked really interesting and thought I’d share them with you.
- Elements: Fire by Beyond Press
This one has already blown through the halfway point in less than three days, but it still needs your support. Elements: Fire is an anthology that was born out of a discussion about the need for diverse creators as well as the need for diverse books. Well, the discussion eventually grew and blossomed as the people involved stopped talking and got to work. And boy, did they do work. You can find out more behind the scenes stuff here.
Over 20 creators and more than 250 pages of stories is nothing to sneeze at. If it seems like something up your alley, definitely give it a look. I’ve already backed it.
- Enough Space For Everyone Else by Astro Monastery Media
This Kickstarter caught my eye when it first launched but I was more focused on getting things in order
post-St. Louis Comic Con. They have almost half of their goal, but still have 12 days left. This anthology interested me because it was striving to tell space stories that didn’t fall on the same old tropes. They wanted to expand (eh,eh?) the scope of the kinds of space stories told with perhaps a little more positivity. I don’t know, I’m just on a real upbeat, friendly kick these days.
Go give it a look and if it seems like something you’d be into, consider tossing it some money.
Well, those are two Kickstarters I think you should check out.
I hope everyone enjoys their 4th. Try to keep from setting anyone’s dumpster on fire, eh? No seriously, that happened to us a few years back and it sucked. Just melted plastic and burnt garbage everywhere. I would not recommend.
I had hoped to finish this post Sunday when we returned, but I was just so beat from the drive that I knocked out. So, apologies for posting this two days later. But if you’re interested in some of my thoughts, check it out.
The day finally came for us to hop in the car and drive down to Missouri for the St. Louis Comic Con. I say us because I invited my brother to come along for the trip as we’d never been on a trip together as adults.
We hopped into the car and left at around 9:30. After a momentary trip northward, we veered west and then southwest through Illinois. Now, I don’t want to insult the fine people of Illinois but the ride through it was pretty rough. Indiana has some slight variations in sights when you drive down the interstate but there were times when we felt like we’d gone in circles driving through rural Illinois. Everything looked so similar, but we did get to see the edge of Springfield which switched things up as well as crossing over the Missouri River.
We get to the area near the convention center only to find that the route the GPS was trying to take us through was marred by construction. The alternate route? A winding trip through a small community with a bunch of back roads that would have been really hard to navigate if we didn’t have the GPS.
We got there and were able to get things to my table (though I decided to set-up the next morning).
Strangely enough, getting to the hotel was much easier.
The hotel was nestled in a nice little area with an Aldi (which we’ve called Aldis my entire life), a Qdoba, and a couple other assorted spots to eat. My brother knocked out after sitting for awhile and I walked over to grab some food. Then I knocked out until I woke up to type this out. I’ll probably go back to sleep in a few to get ready for Day 1.
The first day was full of nerves since I had no idea what to expect. This was my first time having my own table and I didn’t know anyone else at the show save for Aaron Walther. Luckily, I got a confidence booster early on when another creator approached me and asked, “Are you the Jon Parrish that writes Secrets & Shadows?”
“Yes, I am.”
“My friend read your book and he loved it. He talks about it all the time.”
My nerves were eased and that gave me enough energy to get through the day.
The show itself was great. There was a huge crowd and people were there to buy books. My highest sellers were the Secrets & Shadows Full Set and Clusterf@#k. People seemed to really respond to my Secrets & Shadows pitch but people loved my Clusterf@#k hook of how Karl could turn into a Demon and Jim was “just a dick”. One guy didn’t even let me finish my pitch before buying up the whole set. I was actually pretty caught off guard by it.
One thing I did hear several times was how it was inspiring to see someone at it and someone that kept at it. I don’t see myself as a PRO in the sense that people think, but the fact that I’m in the position to give advice about the craft and how to create a comic is something I try not to take too lightly. I’m not a top tier name, but if I can help or inspire people to create something that no one else can make and to work through the disappointment, then I’ll try to do my best.
But Day 1 was a success. It was long and by the end my feet were killing me, but it was a success.
Day 2 started out slow, but things picked up for awhile after noon. In contrast to the day before, there were way more families. It was Father’s Day after all.
But I was fortunate to have my aunt and cousin stop by to pick up some books, visit with us for a few minutes, and show my books some love.
During the Kickstarter for Clusterf@#k, on of the rewards was sketch covers of the first chapter/issue. Recently I had been having trouble selling them, but it was recommended that I reach out to the artists at the show to perhaps draw on the sketch covers and perhaps try to sell those. So I reached out to a few of the artists there during a slow point and asked them. A couple of them were nice enough to do a cover for me.
Left Cover: by David Brandstetter
Right Cover: Coarey Trim
I had a couple others but sadly, they were busy and didn’t get to finish before the show ended. Still, it has given me an idea for how to handle these sketch covers. I also like to see Jim and Karl drawn in other styles.
The show ended up closing up early, but we managed to get a bunch of cards and have a lot of laughs. A few people who stopped by on Saturday even came back around to chat with us again. It was really nice.
I was nervous going into the show because it was far from home and I didn’t know what to expect but my brother and I had a great time and got the opportunity to meet a lot of talented people who we might not have gotten the chance to otherwise. I hope that they make it a one day show next year, but I would still go back again even if they didn’t.
Also, here is a list of all of the cool vendors we met during the show check out their stuff.
Brad Morgan: Writer, Editor, and Co-Founder of 3 Moons Studios. He was actually the creator who recognized me so go check his stuff out and return the favor. He has a book called Rigel Raine that you should check out.
Randy Taylor (and his wife): The two of them are the organizers for Dodeca Con, an upcoming event in Columbus, Missouri.
Coarey Trim: One of the artists who worked on the sketch covers.
Real Deal Deadpool: A couple that makes really cool comic and sci-fi inspired crafts such as an “In Case of Superman, Break Glass” Kryptonite case. It was their suggestion that I try to get artists to do the sketch covers. Definitely go check out what they have.
Mike Grossman: Writer behind Goofy Froot. We spoke with Mike a whole bunch at the show and he was a really funny guy and Goofy Froot is a really great concept. He and Max were in the middle of a convention tour or sorts and it sounds like they’re doing pretty well. Check their stuff out. It’s pretty funny.
Lorenzo Lizana: An artist who has been at it for 20+ years and seemingly does it all: concept art, character designs, storyboards, and animation. His booth was busy for most of the time, but he did stop by to check out Clusterf@#k.
Jesse Kwe: An illustrator and graphic artist. He is the artist on the book Ghost Town which was successfully Kickstarted. You should definitely give his DeviantArt page a look because there’s some cool stuff there.
Brandon A. Daniels: The colorist on Ghost Town. Definitely check his stuff out as well.
Aaron Walther: Last but certainly not least is the person who not only recommended this show to me but was the person who allowed me to tag along at TriCon last year. Aaron wears many hats. He is the writer behind Zero’s Heroes, The Birdlander, Science Hero, and the Amoral Sting Ray. He is also the host of ComicDNA podcast which I have guested on many, many times. It a great podcast where you can hear people’s thoughts on comics you may not know about. So check out the site, the books, and the podcast.
One of the people who came to check out the table also left us his card. His name is David Bitterbaum and his blog is The Newest Rant. In fact while checking his site so I could post the link, I found an article about the convention that mentions myself and Secrets & Shadows. Give it a look.
There were several other people and if I missed you, I apologize but every person added to making my first solo venture as a vendor very enjoyable.
After everything was loaded up, my brother and I hopped into the car and drove straight home. I managed to get in a small meal before knocking out and sleeping like a log.
St. Louis Comic Con was a great show. As I said, I enjoyed the heck out of it and even though I didn’t make back all of the expenses, I still did better than I expected. Thank you to everyone who stopped by the booth and chatted with us as well as all of the creators at the convention.
So far this year, I’ve done one comic book signing and one convention. It might not seem like much but it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
One thing that was very interesting about the show was that I never realize how many books I have until they’re all laid out on the table. I’ve been wanting to build a body of work and slowly but surely I’m doing just that.
It’s been awhile since my last real update.
Clusterf@#k has now been out for almost two months and I’ve been spending time trying to market and build a new Clusterf@#k Twitter page. I started doing freelance captioning for Rev.com in order to supplement my income. It’s been going well and I’ve been able to see some interesting videos that I probably wouldn’t have watched in my free time (from bee keeping videos to fracking docs).
In comics news, I have three things on the horizon.
- I have a 12 page crime story with Dexter Wee that I plan on putting up on the website in the future. It’s similar to the short Job Security but it is much more serious and does get a little violent, but hopefully people will enjoy it. Needless to say, Dexter’s art is amazing as usual.
- I will also be attending my second Comic Con (my first time tabling solo) at the St. Louis Comic-Con. It runs on the 18th & 19th. I don’t know my table number yet but I’ll provide an update once I do. It’s a big deal so I’m gearing up for the road trip.
- In not-sure how much I can say news, I was approached by a creator I respect to collaborate with a creation of his. It’s the first time working characters and a story I didn’t create so I am slightly nervous, but I am also going to do my best to rise to the challenge. Hopefully once we get further along and I get the okay, I’ll have some more info.
I do have some other stuff here and there, but those are my main focuses for this month.
That’s about it. If more stuff happens, I’ll have more updates. Thanks for checking in.