<![CDATA[blackberryjuice.net - THE FOREVER GRIND]]>Fri, 20 Apr 2018 03:20:38 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Bad press is.. the beginning of nuance. The nuance of storytelling.]]>Wed, 23 Aug 2017 23:47:24 GMThttp://blackberryjuice.net/the-forever-grind/bad-press-is-the-beginning-of-nuance-the-nuance-of-storytelling

They say, “There is NO bad press.”, right? I agree with that statement. It’s true, “no press” is worse than bad press. So, regardless whenever somebody has an opinion, people will investigate, decide on their own, and in some cases disagree. While I do agree with that, allow me to add a THIRD option. Bad press allows the discussion of nuance: The reason why things turn out that way, or from what perspective  the opinion is coming from. 
This conversation is about the nuance.

As most of you know I finally finished the last part of the Sons of Fate magnum opus, with its third part SOF: Revolution. Hard works done, now comes the hard part; Pushing the book. The best place to start: Reviews. So, off I go sending out SOF Revolutions, the last part of the trilogy. Where all the loose ends tie up. Where all the questions get answered, and so forth. Now comes the payoff, right? Nope. Although there were some who already reviewed Sons of Fate Origins they were  even fewer who have reviewed Legacy. Those, of course, who didn’t have the second volume, they were unable to review Revolution, and out of the reviews I sent, most hadn’t gotten past Origins. So, to that, the reviews I sent off had to start with Origins at worst. Now while there were a few who took all three volumes to read in its’ entirety, there were others that took it one book at a time. The discussion starts with a site that was the latter.
I sent Sons of Fate: Origins to the comic book site Comic Bastards. The reviewer DESTROYED THE BOOK,…and he was DEAD ON with his analysis!

“Wait, WHAT?!?!?, This is an article where you AGREE with a reviewer that laid total destruction to your baby?”  

I heard you,… you asked. If not out loud, in your head.

Well not really. While I do think he was accurate with his analysis about the book, what I want to talk about is the nuance of the story.
Let’s delve,….. but first…..
Here’s the link to the article so you can read it for yourself, (if you want) or just read on to how I took it and why my agreement is a good thing in terms of the type of story I told in Sons of Fate.
So, if you read it, you’ll probably agree with that I’m about to say, and if you haven’t you're about to find out.


After immediately reading it, I called a contemporary who will tell me the hard truth about it, and asked him to read it. His response was this: “ Well, he compared it to two great examples of artistic achievement.”, and “ Maybe he just didn’t dig it.”
I agree with him. Err,… both of them. But at the end of the dissection the reviewer went on to say that the story was pretty good, along with everything else, except of course the character development or lack thereof. That started the "headwheels o’ turnin"! There was something I couldn’t quite grasp about the scathing of my characters being perfect and because of that, there was no growth, although he thought the story was really good. For those who didn’t read the article the reviewer even said at a point, “Why am I reading this?” in reference to how the characters were too perfect to grow. It occurred to me," Damn, this dude is on point." He found the substantive flaw in the book. Kamau and Daiki were the perfect iterations of a master and student. Wow, looking at it like that, why would anyone want to go further? What COULD HAPPEN to those who walk on the righteous path, capable, and thoughtful, and experienced?
Thing is…A LOT!
And that’s what Sons of Fate is about. Not the training of the perfect student by the perfect master, but how each deal and contend against imperfect people, situations, and society on a whole. Sons of Fate isn’t about perfection, it’s about the imperfection of trying to do your best against the imperfection of the situation. From that perspective no one would get that from reading Sons of Fate: Origins. Origins is the set up much like A New Hope is the set up for the rest of the Star Wars trilogy. (Although some would make the argument that it’s really Rogue One.) The story of Sons of Fate isn’t JUST about the character’s growth but the expanding storyline and complexity of the situations. So, in a sense the main character is the story where the characters and situations are the elements of said character, and that is something you might not get by just reading Origins. Especially if that’s what you were expecting to get out of it. That comes as the story goes on.
Now, I immediately emailed and sent the rest of the trilogy for the reviewer to read and give an complete account so stay tuned for their FINAL verdict, BUT that isn't what this is about.  I do want to talk about something that weighed on my mind since that review. Ways to tell a story, especially in the comic medium. Nowadays every genre, point of view, angle, and perspective is prevalent in comics. Thanks to the internet allowing access available from those who create to those who are interested. No middleman involved. We are getting a rainbow of ways to tell a story: Bad and Good. I, as I can imagine everyone else who creates, wants their stories they tell to be the latter of the two, but…most of the time, "Want doesn’t get."
I began asking myself,  "Do most comics tell a basic story?” A superhero is conceived out of an accident, family trauma, or cataclysmic event. The hero is righteous, finding others who think alike and fight against opposing forces that are clearly evil. Black and white, no grays whatsoever. Nah,… can’t be. I’ve read comics all my life. I,as I’m sure you can  as well,  could bring up  many instances where that is NOT the case.

But wait, what happens if the story has to keep going?

If so, how many stories is a person able to tell with nuance with the core components staying the same? Multiply that by the number of comics we read. Put it in that perspective, and it seems like running across a “ same type” of story ain’t so far fetched. More importantly, success breeds imitation. Zombies been around since the 60’s, but KIRKMAN brought them to the limelight. Not to just Horror fans but casuals (that’s what I call anyone who isn’t SUPER-INTO something specific) as well. That limelight gives opportunity for others to shine, people jump in, and the result is over-saturated market. Kirkman tells the same story: People survive a zombie holocaust, but his success comes in the nuance of HOW he tells his story. The same could be said for George R.R. Martin with Game of Thrones. Medieval mystical stories been around since…Medieval Times, but now everyone from housewives to the elderly watch the show and/ or read the books.

Again, it’s the nuance in HOW he tells it. Both are alike in that fact their stories are SLOW ROASTED. They build. You gain a deeper understanding because it takes a longer time to tell you the details. I love stories that do that. That’s the main reason for my disdain for ongoing stories in movies, shows, and most importantly comics. 

I do not aim to write stories like that.  
My disdain becomes one of the main driving forces for when it’s my time to step up to the plate,… (or mic, or,.. pick whatever reference you wish) the stories I like, that I want to tell, are the ones that end.

Not like a story arc, I mean literally  END!!!

​Whether they "live happily ever after", they "all precious die", or the bad guy wins, FINALITY is what matters most. Those stories, to me, have the most meaning. The push towards finality gives intention to the in-between. How could the reader care about someone/ something if they know they’re never going to loose it?

​Sounds familiar right?
When Jean Gray died, I was 6 years old. Marvel DID bring her back, but did to 10 years later, and as a comic reader LOVED IT! I was young, but I don’t remember if that had been done before. I doubt it. We were coming out of the “All of Nothing” days where if a comic character dies, THEY DIED! Hell, Marvel even had a universe book of dead characters. Jean Grey was in that book.
Since the Fantastic Four found the real Jean Grey in the cocoon in the East River where the Phoenix Entity put her and assumed her essence, how many times has Jean died, and came back? I don’t know, but methinks it was more than even GOKU, without Dragonballs to do it.
BTW, I hate that as well. 

Wait, they’re BOTH still around! A FUUUUUUUCK!!!! 2017 and Dargon Ball Z and the X men cant let go?  So, here’s the question:
Do you really care anymore?
I’ll qualify that question. Is it exciting for you anymore? No, right?

It’s like,” Ok, they brought back( insert whomever died and was brought back) again.” or, “ I know (so- and-so) wasn’t going to stay dead.
Not that much fun.
Not that original anymore.
It worked before, but like Daffy taught us: A great trick is a trick you can only pull off once.
Slow stories don’t burn out. If they do, there usually is a good reason why. But in my definition of the best stories, I ask this: What’s the point of bringing someone back if it’s all going to end any way? In my never ending quest to tell better stories, stories that have finality, I don’t want to get caught in the troupes of similarity whether good or bad. If I tell a similar story, I want to tell it in a way that is new and nuanced. The point I’m trying to tell in SOF isn’t told in its' “Origins” but concluded in its’ “Revolution”. Kamau, especially in Origins is akin to Forrest Gump. While Forrest was the main character in the movie he was mostly a bystander. He “happened" into most of the major events of his lifetime, and in effect changed him whilst keeping true to his core beliefs: loving Jenny, and being, well…..a good person.  I don’t know if I accomplished that ideal in the entirety of Sons of Fate.

I’d like to think I did.

​ I hope I did.

I get it, I even agree with the editor as I stated in the beginning. Everything he stated was on point, and even had me wanting to safeguard myself from falling into the trap that most creative people fall into: NOT LISTENING TO THEIR CRITICS.  Good or bad ( and in this case good,.. and true), there is always something worth learning. Hopefully from what he said about the book I think he’ll see that what I aiming for was to tell the story of Sons of Fate but have the meaning reveal itself as it concluded. We’ll find out when he finishes it and releases his review about the last two books. Learning from what he said I continue to push the boundaries of my storytelling. I will keep listening, and most importantly keep giving you my best effort. Otherwise, what’s the point? 
<![CDATA[ SONS OF FATE REVOLUTION IS A MOTHERF#%KER, but that’s a good thing!]]>Sun, 13 Nov 2016 23:06:32 GMThttp://blackberryjuice.net/the-forever-grind/-sons-of-fate-revolution-is-a-motherfker-but-thats-a-good-thing
Almost...... there.
It’s Sunday afternoon, November 13th, 2016. On this day I sit here working on the scans for the third and last chapter of Sons of Fate, my first independent outing as a comic artist. The last chapter titled Sons of Fate: Revolution was supposed to be out no later than SUMMER 2016. As you can see it is late: EXTREMELY LATE!

I gotta stop. The sandstorm scene from one of my favorite parts in the movie Mad Max Fury Road is up. It is a moment that still amazes me even though I’ve seen it more times than I can count. The cinematography, direction, special effects, and score AT THAT MOMENT is the culmination and expression of director and creator George Miller is a MASTERPIECE of artistic expression as well as a prime example of what to aim for in storytelling. Note I didn’t say just, “In moviemaking.”
Ok. I’m back.
I will admit to you and out loud, in the past months of me working on this book, I’ve had had real tragedy happen to me. The main one being the sickness and death of my mother during its production. That in itself didn’t deter me on why the book is late, but in fact focused me to keep going even through my sorrow by someone who not only backed me throughout my endeavor, but played a crucial part in it in its beginning stages. I won’t get into it now, but I will talk about those events and what it means to my creative flow at another time. What I want to express to you now is the “ WHY’ it is so late.
The other day on one of my few breaks I take throughout my workday. I was browsing through Netflix. Honestly I was looking for an anime I wanted to watch while I worked. Instead I found, by happenstance, something even better. It was a documentary about the monumental and inspirational year in the life of Studio Ghibli founder and creator of “My Friend Totoro”, and “Princess Mononoke” to name a couple, Hayao Miyazki. In the documentary we got to see his daily tasks in creating what may very well be his last movie in his highly industrious career. At 72 years old the man is a BEAST. Like clockwork he works from 11 am to 9pm everyday, drawing. That includes Saturdays. His process is not a process. He does all of his movies’ storyboards himself, in seclusion and  with no idea of what lies ahead until he reaches that point. The rest of the studio realizes his ideas into production pieces of these movies only as these ideas become clear. It took him 2 years to finish the storyboard drawings, including coloring each as well as doing key animation to keep the in-betweeners producing. All done, by the way, while still tending the overall production of the entire studio including meetings, and press events.
At 72 years old even in doing what a person loves to do this seems insurmountable but this 72 year old, highly political, CHAIN SMOKING FIREBRAND shows how the impossible is just the lack of will of those the task is presented to.

Hello there sir. You are an inspiration

​Here’s the worst (BEST) PART. The one thing that surprised me the most was that ALL OF THE PROJECTS DONE BY THIS STUDIO WERE ALWAYS LATE!
That’s right. Every movie Studio Ghibli has made, IN THEIR GREATNESS, were were all over budget and past their deadline.
My first reaction was how could these great movies from this great studio, from this great and inspirational leader, be HERE? A first glace It’s easy to say that these consequences have to come from a level of dis-organization, bad management or even maybe even laziness. That’s not possible. Not from a person who single-handedly breathes life into the studio 12-14 hours a day by just working. I began to dwell on that as I watched, but as I did so I began to see the truth about it.
In my circumstance it gave me great relief in my understanding. That understanding is this:

​In my professional career I pride myself on always having MET and in most cases PRECEDED a project deadlines. The first two parts of Sons of Fate were no different. REVOLUTION is the exception.  What I didn’t realize was that the freedom on not having a set deadline that I didn’t create was freeing. Honestly it is more accidental and poor management on my part. While SOF Origins, was three chapters and about 110 pages, Legacy 5 chapters and about 170-ish pages, revolution is whopping 8 chapters with an average of 45-ish pages per chapter. Chapter 3&4 alone is almost the entire length of Origins. I haven’t counted the actual page number yet, but you can imagine how much bigger it is.  Like I said it wasn’t done intentionally, actually it was. 
(FROM LEFT TO RIGHT) Origins, Legacy, and Revolutions and it's NOT FINSHED YET!

​Intentionally,… CREATIVELY I wanted to tell a complete story. Subconsciously, that idea permeated down to the pacing of the story from the number on panels to a page with some pages being nothing but text while others barely having words at all and letting the illustrations tell the tale.
“The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness”, the studio Ghibli documentary, put what I was happening to me in perspective and more importantly gave me peace about a thing I now see as a misconception in meeting deadlines.
It’s ok to be late. Hell it’ll probably be better because of it, at least in this understanding.
Ok wait; I just got to Furiosa realizing the Many Mothers are gone. That scene in the sand with her screaming is another fav scene and coincidentally one I did myself BEFORE I saw this movie in SOF Origins. My kid even leaned over to me and said, “You did that first.” as we watched it for the first time together. 

I’ll be back. 
Such a powerful moment. Wait, this looks FAMILIAR.
Was I INCEPTED. Nah, hopefully great minds think alike.
(Moved to watering eyes) Ok, I’m back.
Like Mr. Miyazki, I too am finishing this as I go. With the other two books, I drew, then lettered, then colored, where as in this last book I am doing all three as I do. There are pages (in sequence) that are 100% finished and others (although I’m at the end) that haven’t even been drawn yet. The script although already written, has been amended and re-touched here and there, so in point even the story isn’t done….. in a sense.  Like Mr. Miyazki, I too work 12 to 14 hours a day including weekends, so you can see that I ain’t lazy! To tell the truth, I feel that I’m on the right track.  I’ve been emboldened to the process. I’m excited to the idea of what’s to come seeing the fruits of my labor so far.
Creatively Revolutions is the best work I’ve ever done. In doing the two previous books and their results of their creative freedom I was able to express with out “THE BOSS” on my back, brought me to a point where  I work in terms of the “ feeling” of what I’m trying to get across. I’m NOT worrying about the things I used to stress about  like anatomical correctness, action packed scenes, or even adhering to guidelines of what systematic storytelling means. 

I take that back.
I’m freed from those restraints by being kept within its boundaries. I adhere more to rules of strict paneling storytelling and anatomy etc., and stay within their confines on each as I work on every pages. I follow the rule physically, but keep the idea of breaking the rule mentally. The result is that my pages are even more creative with heightened storytelling.
It seems “I can have my cake and eat it too. That is what cake is for” ~Martin Reamy
So, what does that mean to you?
Your wait and patience in me missing my deadline, GIVES TO A FAR BETTER BOOK! 

Shouldn't have shown you this but.....I LOVE IT!!!!
THAT'S the direction FORWARD!
In creating this last book, THIS WAY has drained me mentally, physically and emotionally. Then I step back and look at it. Then it all makes sense. Then all the energy comes back… INSTANTLY!
 Sons of Fate Revolutions IS A MOTHERF#%KER,…..
 but that’s a good thing!

Oh, by the way, Mad Max Fury Road was over budget and waaaaaay  past it’s deadline.
Thank you Mr. Miyazki.
Thanks for listening.  
<![CDATA[The problem of BRAND LOYALTY in comics.]]>Mon, 23 May 2016 17:23:25 GMThttp://blackberryjuice.net/the-forever-grind/the-problem-of-brand-loyalty-in-comics

There are many rewards in building your brand. It takes time, but once that brand is established it becomes the reason for its product success or failure. In short branding is THE THING that sets your “ thing” as an individual force against and over all the other non-essential and the uninspired  like it.
It is the THING that makes your “thing” relevant.
So what happens when you compete against something that already has a brand?  A brand that had grown over decades. A brand that not only has millions of followers, but is a household name in its respective circles. A brand that had expanded into other forms of media. How would you compete?
Worse off, what if the "thing" your pushing is of the same quality or better?  How do you, compete against it? It has decades of fan-fair. It creates in multiple forms of media. It has the numbers and the history that make the product the consumer’s number one choice.
Your thing is good, HELL, even great, but it its brand is still building: not built.

You have followers, consumers, people who like what you do, but when posted against an established brand, you lose: You lose every time.
Sound familiar? I’m talking strictly to those who are creating or building their brand. In particular I’m talking to the independent comic creator. Don’t worry I’ll get to you fans and consumers in a tic.
So, here you are. You’ve gone out, , and created (usually through blood, sweat, and tears) something that you can hold your head high for creating. You’ve drawn, written colored, lettered and even printed your idea to fruition, or at worst put together a team to make it happen. Your very own Ocean’s 11.
Now comes the hard part. Getting people to take a look at it.
We live in great times ladies and gents. The internet, and social networking has almost completely obliterated the use of the middleman, or in this case, publishers.

GoFundMe, Indygogo, and Kickstarter are great places to get eyes on your comic and really test the market for your product. Website are even easier to create and create a permanent home for those interested to see, and buy your product. So, hypothetically, independent comics, compared to mainstream comics can’t loose, right?
Notice I said "hypothetically".
Truth is, the actuality of that idea is further than closer to the truth.

Independent artist “Status” in the comic field.
There are some comic artist who only make a book to get a job at one of the mainstream companies. I understand this only partially. I understand it is a good argument for those companies giving you work. I would give work to someone who does a WHOLE BOOK OR SERIES, compared to a couple of penciled pages (no offense to those who only work on submissions). Doing it this way shows that not only can you potentially keep a deadline, but you also have managerial skills, and possible more talents than just drawing , depending on what you accomplished in your book/ books.

It also shows that you are in no way serious about that “thing” you’ve created, and are willing to drop it a moments notice.

I’m not judging, I just don’t see the point. The companies your looking to  give you work were at one time in your shoes. Potentially that means, with enough perseverance, your “ thing” can as big and successful as theirs: BUT NOT IF YOUR NOT WILLING TO STICK WITH IT. 

I hear those argue about building your name with those companies and then branching off. Again, I see your point. But that is a slippery slope. You get to draw characters adored by millions all over the world, that transcend generations. You’re paid well, and you can do what you love. But, in the end, you’re a penciller, maybe a penciller/inker in the lines of hundreds of those who came before you and even more after you.

Your known for the work you’ve done to extend another brand that is not your own, all while hardly working on your brand if at all. Whether if its months, or years, in that time you could’ve been working on your product and might’ve even seen some fruition for your efforts in that time, but instead your know as the guy or gal  who drew Spidey or had that great run of the Justice League.
See that?
Don’t get me wrong, There’s nuance in doing that. Know your strengths and weaknesses  I’d say, and truth be told, if  Disney or Warner wanted me to create for them, I’d be willing, but I understand the danger in losing what I’ve been trying to accomplish  and take steps to would prevent any loss. Plus they’d have pay me twice. Once for working on my product and twice for me not working on my own in the meantime.
But I digress. Let’s get back to branding.
So here I am. I’ve created a graphic novel series ( Sons of Fate) the first of many, and I want to get it to the masses. With the book I have a continuous web series, a fully functioning website, physical and digital copies, color and B&W versions, art prints, etc.

I hit all the social media sites and usually receive great responses. I sell the book to both individuals, and to retail stores alike. In short I’m prepared as I could be in getting my book to the masses outside of doing cons. ( That’ll be another topic) You’d think that with all that, I’d had moved a TON of units since I’ve started right?
Not so much.

Don’t get me wrong, I have those who see the detail and work I put into SOF and pick it up individually, and through retail, but there is a problem.
The problem is getting eyes on the books. 
Here comes some self –indulgence
You look at the cover, you intrigued. You open the book and see the artwork, your interested, You read a page or two, you’re all in and decide to get it. That works…. at shows or a person seeing it individually, but as we know, that’s not how most books are bought. They’re bought in stores, and next to other books. When that happens, its easier to make the choice. It’s easier to buy the book that’s the best choice. The best art, best story, best representation of what you’re looking for.
You pick up the book that you know. You buy the book you accustomed to buying. The brand you know. You’re a brand trust. 

That’s brand loyalty.
I get it.  The main reason why people buy what they know is because that thing can be trusted. We’re old friends. I like how you make me feel.
I’m comfortable wit you.
So, what happens when something else comes along, offering a different experience? The same experience but another way to get it. It’s not familiar, and you know NOTHING about it. It’s a little strange. 

Most people stick to what they know. They get the thing that they’re used to: Whether its good or bad.
That’s where brand loyalty goes wrong.
I’ve been fortunate enough to sell Sons of Fate in a number of retail comic book stores as well as off blackberyjuice.net. With that, I have run across some retailers who were apprehensive in purchasing the book and have even passed on it even though they liked what they saw and read. 

“My customers just won’t buy it. It’s not X-men or Batman.”, they say.  I hate hearing that, but I understand. They run a business and in that make a living. They have to provide product that keeps their business in the black. Risk equals  reward, but calculated risk equals  potential profit loss.

As a proprietor, I say that if you like the thing you promote it to your customers. After all, aren’t they coming to your store because you sell only great products?  If you push it, shouldn’t they take the chance? I say yes, but maybe I’m being to idealistic when it comes to comics. Many a time I’ve bought a book that didn’t hit my satisfaction level. A lot of them mainstream comics at that.
So, what’s the point?
Brand does not necessarily mean greatness and lack of brand doesn’t always mean lesser quality. It could be just a thing of the big guy standing next to the little guy.  In this case, size usually doesn’t matter.

 After all, it’s the fight in the dog, right?

The only way to know is to investigate for yourself.

That goes for retailer and individual comic buyer alike.
Would you take a harder look at an independent book, if it looked like this:

Does this get your attention more? It shouldn't. It's fake. If it did you might be suffering from BRAND LOYALTY.
Truth is, it might, and that is a sad fact. I can’ imagine all the things I as a comic fan, and pop culture fan I would’ve missed out on.
True story:  I’m talking to a fellow colleague and at the time  and boss whom I was working on a book with. I told him that I needed a good graphic novel to read and could he suggest anything to me. Instantly, he insisted I buy Blacksad. Didn’t matter which story I bought, just as long as it was Blacksad. So, I went to the comic store and asked for the book.

Immediately, the associate got excited and told he how great that series was. He scurried off to the back and eagerly came back telling me that it was his last copy.  I get it and I’m on my way. As I board the train, I find a seat and decide tot start reading this highly anticipated graphic novel that everyone who hears the word “ Blacksad” seems to hyperventilate over.
Before I go any further, I have to tell you one of my pet peeves: I HATE TALKING ANIMALS! 

Look, if I run across a pig in real life that can really talk or that frog from the Looney Tunes cartoons that can really sing and dance, that’s different.

What I’m talking about is Alvin and the Chimpmunks talking to Dave ( the CGI movies, not the albums, I love those). Not like in Finding Nemo, or Ninja Turtles ( Althought I hate Ninja Turtles for other reasons.) I get those movies. In Nemo, they’re talking amongst themselves, so let’s assume they "talk fish",  and for he turtles, they were mutated... AND OWNED BY APRIL O’NEIL PLAYED BY MEGAN FOX……ARRRGH!!!. Stop J.P. Just stop.
Ok. I’ve calmed down. I’m back. So now that you know the details of my hatred for talking animals, I open to page 1 of Blacksad, and what am I greeted with: A TALKING CAT DRESSED AS A DETECTIVE!
“Oh, hell no! I thought to myself, as I realize what I just bought.  I just spent $20 on a book about talking FUCKING ANIMALS!!!! “OK”, I thought. "I might as well read it."

By page 5, I WAS HOOKED!
I was reading a book about taking animals, but I was lovin’ every minute of it. It wasn’t just the story, it was the art, the style of art, the design all coming together in perfect combination. By the way: its published by Dark Horse.
See that? I would have never picked up THAT book had I’d known it were animals talking. Hell, I’d just picked up my normal copies of whatever the brand I know was.
Blacksad is an awesome series of graphic novels. That’s coming from a person who hates ...…. Well, you fill in the rest.
Here’s a great example: Game of Thrones. THE REASON  why I have HBO, and easily the best show on TV. The novels themselves have been out for 20 years, but have never received the recognition until after the show started. Now I see everyone from teenagers to Suburban housewives reading the novels.

Clearly everyone can’t be into fantasy? How is this popular now?
Branding. HBO is known for showing quality shows, but that doesn’t excuse the support the book received before the show started.  Yeah, those who previously read the books already  knew about it knew its greatness, but I didn’t become the icon it is today until the show dropped. 
Take a look at something that isn’t from a brand you recognize. You might be surprised.

For all you anime fans, I remember the day a friend of mine pushed this new series on me. He told me that if I didn’t like it he’d pay for it. I was skeptical and wasn’t willing to give it a chance. I was just coming off of  the Street Fighter the animated movie, and Jo Jo’s Bizarre Adventures that I was used to.

Who’d had thunk it? Why would I watch a show called COWBOY BEEBOP? Crazy right?

Here’s another one.

I saw this trailer and thought to myself, “So, this is a kid’s show, right? Has to be with that kiddie opening.  Why would I watch a show about a samurai girl with red hair and a scar on her cheek?

Turned out that RURONI KENSHIN was one of the BEST ANIME shows I’ve seen.
Can’t imagine if I just watched American animation or  better yet kept to the status quo pertaining who or what animated shows were targeted to.  Better yet something I know and watched not basing it on whether it was good or not.
With my experience in the comic field, that happens more than not. Brand in some cases does not equal quality especially nowadays. I’ll go even further SOMETIMES…sometimes the independent book is better.
So in closing I say this to you.
Give a look. When you decide on quality regardless of brand
The brand you love was at one time new and had to compete. Judge the thing “ on the thing”, not who publishes it. You might be surprised.

<![CDATA[ MAKING THAT FIRST IMPRESSION: The loss of video game intros and music score. ]]>Mon, 09 May 2016 15:51:13 GMThttp://blackberryjuice.net/the-forever-grind/-making-that-first-impression-the-loss-of-video-game-intros-and-music-scoreSo, its Saturday morning and I’m about to go on semi-regular my early morning jog. I feel good. I’m thinking about what’s ahead of me in the next few days. I’m excited. After the run I’m going to11 o’clock showing of Civil War. If it’s as good as everyone says, it’ll be a great week in movie watching. (IT WAS!!!!) I just saw The Revenant, and I’m still coming off the high of that beautifully visually orgasmic movie. I’m excited because on Tuesday Uncharted 4 is coming out. There are few games I get excited about, but this is one of them. Anything and everything that is artistic appeals to me, and Naughty dog is the shining example of art in video games.
I can’t wait!  I say to myself, ,” I think I’m gonna play Uncharted 2 this weekend to warm up to the video game playing extravaganza that’s about to happen. With all my stretching done I’m all warmed up: TIME TO START RUNNING! You know what,” I thought, ” I think for my running playlist, I’ll cue up my video game playlist for my running music instead of my usual training mix.
So I start.
Song Number 1: UNCHARTED THEME SONG. Coincidence, maybe, but a relevant: A happy foreboding to the days ahead.  I’m running and humming the song along with the track even adding words to the instrumental track in my head (Like most of do with all great instrumentals.

Next: GOD OF WAR THEME SONG. I’m pulled back to memories of playing these games and the great couch moments that ensued. I’m like, “ Yeah, I need to go back and play God of War, (all of them) again, I really enjoyed those games. Hearing its music again reminded me that it felt like I was playing a movie. Not to mention that great opening intros in both GOW3 and GOW: Ascension.

The next song: KILLZONE 2 THEME. French horns, and BIG orchestral clashes I’m back on Helghast with my squad. Yelling,” GET SOME.. GET SOME BABY! Again I remember the feeling that I was taking part in an event that was bigger than me, and again, I was seduced by that opening intro and its grand orchestral movie –like score.

Almost stooping my stride, I started to suddenly realize something. I‘ve haven’t felt or been moved half as much from a video game THIS GENERATION as I was compared to the previous one.  Outside of a few games, usually the ones I mentioned, and others who just continued into this generation, the newer stuff wasn’t as moving, and I began to give thought as of why.
 So, as you probably surmised by now, I’m a gamer.  Nowhere the level others are. (I’m not peeing into jars or going on 24-hour marathons of game playing). Truth be told, I’d say I’ve only finished half my games and I don’t even own as many games to date as I did with the previous generation. (We’ll get back to that). But, with that there’s no better way to pass the time when your files are being compressed or I just sent 105 files to Photoshop and they’re taking their time to open. Plus, I’m a person who likes being engaged in things. TV is ok, but it’s passive, and plus there’s nothing worth watching most of the time let alone give my attention to. At best, I leave it on the news (for information), and call it a workday. With video games however, I’m an active participant, and it at worst case keep the mind active while I sit here doing something that not only keeps my inside, but at a desk.
More importantly, I’m an artist. For me, both go hand in hand. Video games are another creative form of expression and should be treated as such. To anyone who says video games are just for kids and not art. I quickly recommend them to go play or watch The “Last of Us” cut scenes on YouTube, or play “Journey”: Then tell me that games are just for kids and/ or NOT forms of art.

Well, some games are for kids. Hell, a lot of them of them are,.. but in-between the Lego Star Wars and the Disney Infinity games….
There is something else.
So, what is happening? Video games have since passed budgets of movies with some even bring back record profits. That alone would make someone think they would go bigger on all fronts, right? Is that the goal set forth by these creators of these games or is it marketing? Is it capitalism at its’ finest, or creative license and artistic expression?
I prefer the latter……I NEED THE LATTER, but games seem to be feeding that fix less and lees nowadays. It that just me?
Let’s delve.
I grew up playing video games. My first system was a ColecoVision (which I still have), and through the years owned all the important video games system since. For the ones I didn’t have, I just played them at my buddy’s house.
So here’s the argument.
Sing the theme of the Flintstones in your head. Scooby Doo, Star Wars. Hell, the Oscar Meyer Commercial.
Ok, obviously Millennials, I’m not talking to you.  For you, Power Rangers (yuck), or… I DUNNO, Adventure Time or something.
Now sing the Mario (Nintendo) Theme song. Donkey Kong. Too early, ok. How about the theme from Final Fantasy 7, Metal Gear Solid, Halo…I bet you could sing (or hum) these tunes, right?
Now name a game in the current generation that you can do that to. Even though we only a couple of years in, how any games can you say could you do that with. More importantly, how many games still have a dramatic score or an intro that makes you feel you are taking a part of something and just making it your own experience?
Don’t get me wrong making the game your own is great but it seems like something has gotten lost in the create your own experiences games and let’s not forget THE DREADED MULTIPLAYER.  Those are the “New Trendies”
And in that, I haven’t see the thing that really got me excited about a game.. the introduction and the score. No, more than the score, a theme song.
Not a big fan of Call of Duty. As for shooter s go, I more a fan of the tactical shooter, but I GET its success. It has story, it has grandeur, and it is extremely immersive. The Vegas commercial… PRICELESS. I know people who didn’t play games want to play that after that commercial. If the trend were to be and have the COD success one would think that imitation would be the thing to do. 
So where is it?  I’ve seen the clones, I’ve seen the reinterpretations and incantations of it, but I haven’t seen the grandeur. So, here’s what I think it is. Here’s my shot in the dark.
Listening to my ghost, it fees like games took a step back. They started focusing on having fun, or in it’s case an experience. Games cut the fat. Anything that was unnecessary was eliminated.
In most cases the loss of excess if a good thing, but NOT in something that is meant to grab you and not let go. Think of the experiences you’ve gone through in pop culture.  Whether it was movie, TV show or in this case video games. Were they quiet? Were they subtle? Did you enjoy your experience just to the point where you left satisfied, or were you BLOWN AWAY? We remember the big events (good or bad), and that’s no different in pop culture. In fact, the bigger it is the BETTER we remember it.
I have a friend who wasn’t and still isn’t a big video game fan. I remember him telling me that he was playing God of War (the original), and he was so caught up in it, he got a parking ticket for not moving his car. He didn’t forget to move it. He was aware he had to move it, but was so engrossed in the game, he didn’t want to put it down: EVEN THOUGH he could pause it.
Crazy, right?  Well, I GUARANTEE “ that crazy” is what video game publishers want you to go through when you play their games. Hell, as good as I believe Sons of Fate to be, I don’t EVER see someone so enthralled in reading it, that they loose money doing so, but ..THAT WOULD BE AWESOME!!!!
DISCLAIMER: Do not read anything I put out, including this article, at the neglect for something else. Be it, Sons of Fate, or whatever else I create down and go handle your business. It’ll be here when you return. But IF YOU DO…. Thanks a bunch!
And here’s what hurts most about the current generation of games. We’ve finally hit the point where these games are hitting movie quality look and scale story, and greatness. (Good movies I mean.) But to that I haven’t see n the thing that grabbed me and won’t let go. Some have. Metal Gear, Bloodborne, to name a few. Killzone Shadow fall was good, but lost its great intro movies that got my hype to play. Batman: Arkham Knight DID IT RIGHT! I heard the Witcher 3 is good on those levels. Gotta check it out.
So in closing of the thing that helps my thing called creativity. The thing where those who create their thing can unleash their creativity, I say this. Go back to bigger. Some of us have noticed. Well, I can only speak for myself. I’m at the edge, and the little nudge will push me over. Start doing that again. As I fall to my demise into the abyss of your dynamic creative expressions, I went fulfilled.
Now, so far, not at much, not as often.  
Impress me again.
Rant over.
Wait. I’ll eave you with this. This was by far the best into to games I’ve played thus far. It’s a little long, but EYE CANDY GALORE.

I apologize for the voice-over, but it was the best video I could find.
BTW.. the scroll part in the beginning was playable, not a cut scene. Enjoy.

<![CDATA[My Deadly Beloved (part 3)]]>Tue, 26 Apr 2016 21:21:39 GMThttp://blackberryjuice.net/the-forever-grind/my-deadly-beloved-part-3Their first fight concludes and only one walked away . Find out whhat happened to the other.
GOOD NEWS: If you subscribe, to blackberryjuice.net, GREAT NEWS: Subscription is free and you get FREE UPDATES as well as free art swag , unlimited access to web series and so much more. SO,.. THERE'S NO REASON NOT TO SUBSCRIBE.

<![CDATA[The world showed us death, the world showed us hope as we argued about BATMAN V. SUPERMAN? (Previously posted on 3/29/2016) ]]>Fri, 22 Apr 2016 02:23:26 GMThttp://blackberryjuice.net/the-forever-grind/-the-world-showed-us-death-the-world-showed-us-hope-as-we-argued-about-batman-v-superman-previously-posted-on-3292016
And the world changed . Did you see it?
So, this week in the world….
ISIL attacked the airport and train station in Belgium, killing dozens, and injuring hundreds.

In this week Gary Shandling, considered to be the FIRST Seinfeld, Rob Ford, crack Mayor of Toronto, and Phife, from A Tribe Called Quest, died.
What's wrong Mr. Stark? It's just a little Prick.
Was he the real Tommy Boy, or just misunderstood?
"I sport New Balance sneakers to avoid the narrow path." ~ Nuff Said!
That was the sad part of the week.
Also in this week….A bird landed on Bernie Sanders podium while he gave a speech on why he should be our next president. Later this week he goes on to win all three Caucuses against Hillary Clinton. Providence? Maybe. 

That was the sad part of the week.
Also in this week….A bird landed on Bernie Sanders podium while he gave a speech on why he should be our next president. Later this week he goes on to win all three Caucuses against Hillary Clinton. Providence? Maybe. 

That was the inspirational part of the week.
Lastly in this week, and on a personal note, I found three friends, from childhood, that I would most likely would still have as friends had we kept in touch. One in particular, my blood brother ( Literally pricking our fingers and rubbing your thumbs together, shit I did when we were kids.) 
I watched The Seven Grandmasters. Forgetting how great it was, it became the “NEW” one of my favorite, Kung-Fu movies.  Lastly I learned how breathing certain ways can potentially cure and prevent or at worst control body functions body to withstand sickness bringing mental, physical, emotional health.

Thank you Wim Hof. Thanks for the lookout Neal.
That was the great part of the week.

Oh, yeah, I saw Batman V Superman.

That part of the week was….. it was……..
WAIT A TIC! There were events that I just named seemed pretty consequential. Outside of the personal friend re-connect, and the movie choices, I think that everybody experienced those events as well, Right? So, out of those events why can’t I close out the event that was Batman V Superman?
CLEARLY, it is TRIVIAL BULLSHIT, especially compared to the other events that either shape our lives in their immediacy, or held weight to sympathetically pause to remember those who touched our lives, whether through laughter, musically, (hence creatively) or in inspiration?
Why am I about to write about a MOVIE, in a week of far more consequential acts?  Why is it that out of all the things that happened this week, this was the thing that is the most divisive? Why was this the most important thing? Was it? If not, why discuss it?
What does it say about us? Where we are? What we’re about? What we prioritize?
The answer is simple.
Batman V Superman’s, argument is the reflection of not only pop culture, but about the human condition as it stands today. It defines not only what we think, but how we view things.
Polarizing as it may be, it is a discussion that is needed.
Call it closure call it emotional catharsis, but in the end this argument says more than our reaction to the world events that happened. Their answer is easy:
Life ends so …Carpe Diem.
The low and downtrodden are manipulated for personal gain by the megalomaniacal and the greedy wanting power and control.
Perseverance proves the possible can become likely through work.
Batman V Superman argument IS that thing that happens between life and death. It exposes not only how we live, but what we think WHILE WE ARE ALIVE. It exposes our weaknesses, prejudices, and shortcomings all looking to be resolved in order to fix and grow.
It has to be discussed. It is about life.
Let’s delve.
I didn’t know how to approach this at first. I’ve read the reviews, heard the comments, read the responses, and heard all the arguments on, “It was good because...” or, “ It was bad because….”, So, there’s no point on going into that. So with that I’ll give my opinion on the movie in one sentence and get to what I was referring to in the beginning. 
I didn’t like it….. At all.
Ok, that was two sentences.. kinda, but you get my drift.
Done. Now, lets talk about the reason why I can’t finish what that was in my past week of life.
The first reason: Conversation.
There is none. It’s a dodge ball match.

Fanboys run to one side, Haters to the right (tee-hee). The whistle goes off, everybody scrambles for a ball. Your hit, your out . You catch the ball , a member of your team is back in. On and on it goes.
Every conversation I heard about this movie was a point of view, mostly closed, mostly personal. I read valid points get shot down and shrugged off as opinion. I saw reasonable doubt validate story execution. I saw personal opinion and taste warped into being hailed as ridiculous dribble and nonsense.
With some I agree and with some I don’t, but what I DIDN’T SEE WAS A CONVERSATION about what we as a collective didn’t like, and as a collective  what we did  like, and how it all translates into piece the  work which frankly should be judged.
Oh, an for those who say ,”You shouldn’t judge this.” I say,” then DC/ Warner shouldn’t have released it.
But I digress.
Opponents were labeled as haters and non- fans of comic books, which was totally stooopid( Spelled incorrectly for effect). Proponents were labeled uncultured dumb-asses that can’t tell as story from a hole in the ground.
I’ll say this. From the onset, meaning from the time this movie was announced and teams were formed,  I watched the political  story of who and why this movie was being made, and I didn’t like what I saw. The first trailer hits, and with that I saw things I agree with things I didn’t. That’s pretty much how it went until the release.
I watched with the optimism that whatever fear I owned ( yup….owned) would be sold off by the time the movie was over.  It wasn’t. In fact I owned more than before.
In the end, having my opinion, I sought two very close friends who saw it, and who’s opinions I respected about the flic.
Mind you, they were comic heads. Mind you both of them were invested in creating and about the value of art. Mind you their opinions both differed from mine.
And so started the discussion about WHY.
Not a dodgeball match.
A clear and political discussion about what we disagreed on. Between the two conversations, one after another, about 4.5 hours on the telephone, and a total face ache later I was happy with our outcome, and I believe so were they. We yelled, we screamed, I might’ve lost some hair or even greyed a little.
It was heated, it was intense, it as perverse, but in the end I learned and I taught.
Oh…. and in that conversation and on an unrelated note, one of them TOTALLY destroyed Avengers Age of Ultron for me. Through logic and reason. I’ll never watch that movie the same way again.
In the end I got one of my buddies to look again at “The why” he felt the way, he felt, (I thought he was projecting), and learned from the other that in the end the movie was about’’ the internal hardships we all face that battles with the outside forces that look to twist that struggle to its agenda.”

Wait, did he just channel the Dalai Lama?
That last one although metaphorically was so sound Warner should HIRE that friend as their Press Agent. Wow. Not the movie I saw…. At least in its execution.  

But I digress…. again.
Here’s my point. Comic books are at a critical point. That point is artistic validity or passive novelty in pop culture.  Comic book movies, along time coming now, partly because technology’s ability to portray these grand ideas in a literal fashion plus  the IDEA-LESS machine that is Hollywood to barely create anything substantial, let alone, NEW, will decide which side the coin flips.
So how do comic book shows portray themselves?
Is it the grittiness sprinkled with a dash of hope like Daredevil on Netflix?
The total re-hashing of the Batman’s origins and his city like Gotham on Fox?
The totality of other stories told before it in order to acquaint the audience to the gathering of a team movie like the Avengers. Or maybe the real life interpretation of powered beings and vigilantes dealing with not only their arch-enemies, but the political structure and society they live in like The Watchmen? 
Comic books and Graphic novels, where these ideas started, had to have something that would make them appeal to the reader. This thing something would allow them to grow. That growth gave them the light to attract the powers that would turn those comics into the blockbuster movies or successful TV series they were to become. Something that gave fanboys the chills when the lines they read in comics were translated to larger forms of media.
That’s the second thing: SUBSTANCE.
The substance carries weight to the idea that was executed through story.
So, where are we now? What do we consider substance?  Do we even consider it? Since we are ultimately talking about Batman V Superman, I can ask: Did it have substance? Was it something that could stand alone, or was it idea of a movie ONLY MADE for the promise of what’s to come by that said movie being set up being a set up for the REMATCH, or in this case, SEQUEL?
I can tell you this: It doesn’t work for Boxing.
So here it is.. It’s love.
We fight about whether something we love is better if parts, regardless how insignificant make the whole, or does the entirety of the thing only validate the success of it? Truth is we won’t know until we stop yelling personal plot points at each other and talk…. TRUTHFULLY.
I’ll go first.
I love comics. So much I decided to make my own. That’s how you show your love. It influences what you do, or how you act. Sometimes both. 
I used to as a kid to have discussions on whether The Hulk could beat EVERYBODY in the Marvel Universe.  Right now the WAY that argument progressed seems more valid than HOW we, as grownups are talking about things now.
In comics arguments there were rules: The angrier Hulk became, the stronger he became. So he could just overpower everybody, hence.. HE WINS, Right? Not quite.
The point would then shift to a counter point. It then became: How do you beat the Hulk WITHOUT trying to overpower him?
The argument became tactical.
We were children.   
There’s no excuse for how we do it now….AS ADULTS!
Here’s some indisputable points:
Fact should override opinion only if you are talking about something tangible. Opinions can be valid if it isn’t meant to override fact. They can mix, and still exist in the same space and both be right, but it might need a little give and take.
You need to accept the truth about it. It’s not always just two points of view. Sometimes one, sometimes five.  It’s not always about fact. It’s not always about opinion. The situation or conversation decides that. “Is Superman faster than a jet speeding at its fastest?” is not the same as,” Can Supes fly faster than a speeding jet?’ Both are the same question both can be answered both factually and opinionated. The difference is the latter question can add nuance but the first is a straight question.
We should listen and teach… if you can, but be open to learn if you can’t teach.
Don’t worry, you won’t catch on fire if your disproved. Take from someone who has first hand experience with that.
WE ALL LOVE COMICS. If we didn’t we wouldn’t be talking about this.
There’s on more thing. It’s about the love.
If you love something , you protect it. No, that doesn’t mean be ready to “ jap a bitch” for attacking the thing you love. Instead you listen to their gripe and be open to see if it holds validity. If it doesn’t: you win. If it does, you can fix it: YOU WIN!!!.
“See you can have your cake and eat it too. That’s what cake is for” ~Martin Reamy. 
Love that line…...
I heard someone say,” If your looking for Inception in a comic book movie your stupid!”
I don’t agree
No, it doesn’t have to be complex, but it does need one more thing.
It can’t be made just to make money.
It shouldn’t ride the success of the previous thing as purpose of its existence.
It can’t be made to fix what the thing before it got wrong.
It cant be the thing to set up the next thing.( Yes, I said it again.)
It can’t be only great in some parts but bad overall.
It can’t have plot holes bigger than the overall story.
It can’t rely on A class actors or big budgets to carry its weight.
It can’t be accepted because you WANT to like it.
Those are facades: they’re trending. They’re cool.
All those thing are attempts to be the thing that DOES matter; The “thing” that stands the test of time.
2001.The Sandman.
A Tale of Two cities. Hard Boiled.  
Butch and Sundance. Y, the Last man.
The Matrix TRILOGY. Conan the Barbarian.  
Kingdom of Heaven ( UNCUT version). Mad Max Fury road.
That is the third thing: It needs to be BRAVE.
That’s what makes it RELEVANT. Not cool. Not trending.
Would you accept this movie as it was if it was the comic version? Comics are the brave fathers of the lesser children that are their movies... so far.
That is a tactical argument.

I kept the nine year old.
I love comics. I love the IDEA of comic book movies. I want them to be taken seriously. I want them to be art.
In order to do this, they need to be better. Some are good, most are ok, some are bad. None are taken as art, but some of their sources are.
Until Steve jobs came along, the computer was a thing not used by the common person. Jobs believed and strived to make the computer something more. He strived to make it a work of art. Now it’s a mainstream staple: A necessity in our lives.

What if comics could become “that” thing?
Stop the bullshit arguing. See the thing for what it is. The world is looking at that thing you love will be judged  on what you hold it up to be. Admit and fix what is wrong before that thing is judged against your belief. Then it will be too late.
Be the comics you’ve read. Be truthful. Be brave.

One more thing: If we're gonna talk about the LEAST  important thing that was this  past week, we should at least make it count.
Rant over.

<![CDATA[From inception to, omega.  End to end control....LITERALLY!(Previously posted on 2/23/2016)]]>Fri, 22 Apr 2016 02:04:53 GMThttp://blackberryjuice.net/the-forever-grind/from-inception-to-omega-end-to-end-controlliterallypreviously-posted-on-2232016I have a quote on my corkboard over my desk, that I read everyday. Call it a source of inspiration. Call it “a one (of many) mantras” I have. Hell, call it whatever you want. Here it is.

“No food without blood and sweat.
Farmers are busy: framers are busy
If farmers weren’t busy where would grain get to get through winter come from?
In winter the lazy man freezes to death
Don’t depend on heaven for food. But only your own two hands to carry the load
Unless to ask for crops, it all depends on hard work and fertilizer
If the man works, the land will not be lazy.
~Old Chinese proverb~
Truth is, I would and should reach out more to promote through the social networks. I agree and disagree with that last statement. Promotion is the thing that is needed in order for people to know that the work even exists, and in the constant stream of content on social media networks, a day lost is a day you're forgotten.  Where I disagree with that is the reason I don’t post constantly is because well,…. I’m working to bring you more content. Being an independent comic creator is tough. Though I consider my peers in comics necessary and important to my development,(both major publishers as well as independents, {Note: I will not say “Indy”/ See my article called: “What’s wrong with Indy” to know why.}) at the end of the day we’re all competing for your dollar. With all the different types of heroes, villains, art styles, writing styles, genres, etc. Its hard to keep up. Doing that while being an independent publisher:  IT’S MISSION IMPOSSIBLE!
That’s cool; I was one of my favorite shows when I was little. So I guess psychologically, I’m attracted to that notion knowing I’ve just made m journey tougher.  
But isn’t that what matters? Isn’t it the journey important and not the destination? I say yes. And the journey I’ve embarked on has brought me to this point. If you were to list my credentials on a resume one could post the following: Artist writer, colorist, letterer, publisher, editor.. (Wait scratch that last one. I’ll get into that in another posting.) Moving on; Social media correspondent, web developer, graphic designer, accountant, financial manager, corporate sponsor, fan boy (yes of my own shit), hype-man, CEO, CFO, cook, morale booster, janitor.

Not bad eh? Look out Mr. Stark!
I think you get it, I do it all. Everything you see here ( except editing….. NOW), I DO. Good or bad, whether it works or not, it on me.
I can now add one more .….  BOOK PRINTER!
Wait, what?!? 
Yup. I now print my own books. Truth is it’s one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve made since I’ve ventured out on my own adventurous adventure of independent comicbookdom. To create something from your mind, and see it to fruition has to be one of the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had, and to that, to hold the final product now KNOWING that I have not only created it, but put it together with my own two hands, having complete control in that is just another piece that is the completion of me. That completion comes from the fact that in the end, I want to create a product for those who are interested will not only enjoy artistically, but not in craftsmanship as well. The funniest thing: It was born out of necessity and a little bit of luck. Wanna hear how?  Keep reading.
So here goes.
In looking to print the first copies of LEGACY, the second in the trilogy of Sons of Fate, I found out that my printing prices had gone up…. in a little less than a year, by almost 60%.
Mind you. Legacy is a bigger book than Origins by about a quarter, but even after plugging in my old numbers for the first book, the price was significantly higher.  The company, I had print my books mind you, are great at what they do. Better still, they are one of the cheapest games in town, and we had a great rapport. Seriously, if I were ever in town, I ‘meet up with them and take them out for drinks. They were that good.
Couldn’t be mad. It’s the law of supply and demand, and like I said they were still the cheapest game in town, with GREAT results where their competitors charge double and TRIPLE the amount for the same if not worse results.  So, with the situation of having not one, but two, and soon three graphic novels under my belt, with each one larger than the previous, I was in a pickle. The NUMBER ONE problem with small publishers in the comic field (I think) is sustainability, and overall cost for any comic publisher is printing.  The big three, and the smaller rest have printing deals, distributors, marketing, sponsors, hype men, etc.… backed by bigger companies that can not only sustain them through the highs and lows of the market, but can crush those who are not in their circle with these sustained assets. So, you see how see how anything like higher printing costs, would drain my ability to keep making books, which in turn would cause me to raise the price of the book just to keep up with the cost, which would cause those who are interested to.. jump ship because of that price hike the big wigs can keep their prices low because of the low overhead due to their enormous print run and most importantly…BRAND! I get it. More importantly, they get it. And a lot of independent publishers don’t. And for that, that are killed by costs, NOT a lack quality of their product, which in the end SUCKS… for everyone. True North is cool, but my true north has caverns, and lakes and mountains I have to skirt around and still head north.  So as you can guess, I can’t have any wasted moves.
So, now we’re done with the economics of Independent comic ownership. Let me finish the tale.
So here I am NYCC 2015. I was invited to a pre-show panel where there were fellow artist talking about there experiences I the field. Alitha Martinez was one of them: DC artist, and independent book publisher. So, as you can see, she’s a master at her craft.  Check out her work. www.ariotstorm.com
Anyhoo, The show has started, and I start my usually convention path, meeting, greeting, and selling.  Eventually I happened upon Alita’s table in Artist Alley. We re-acquaint ourselves, and I take a look at her work. I go to comment her on how great her books look not only in artistic style, but also in craftsmanship  (hard cover, soft cover, big and small formats ect). She mentions, almost in happenstance, that she PRINTED EVERYTHING HERSELF. Postcards, posters, and most impressively, ALL HER BOOKS. 
I was floored! “ What?!?!? How?!? “, I asked.
Then she went to explain to me her process and what she used. Mind you,  to a person she just met yesterday, and a potential rival. That was how awesome she is. (Which is scary.)

At first, her terminology, and process was all Greek to me (I don’t speak Greek), but she had answers to  “You made this!! This hardcover book! This high gloss book interior and exterior pages, the sleeve, the jacket?!? All to a resounding, “Yup!”.  I quickly realized that although I didn’t speak the language she spoke, I needed to learn it.
I stopped her in mid-sentence. I told her that I would be back tomorrow with pen and paper and like Lex Luthor (played my Kevin Spacey) told Jor-El in that.. TOTALLY SHITTY MOVIE (Yeah, I said it!) Superman Returns, and when I do….“ Tell me everything.” 
And when I returned she did just that. Paper companies, printer types, which printer does what, which is better for which project, how to, when too, when not too… EVERYTHING!!
A human Google, without looking for the answer without knowing the question. Impressive.
So, with that I started to investigate the information she gave me. IMMEDIATELY not only did I see others praising the products she suggested, but how others who used these techniques, of self printing where far happier wit the end result than having done by a third part.  The photography field in particular. From the printer, to the ink, and the paper, when added up, was all reasonably less than what I had to pay for with the high-end results at the expensive end of printing. Most importantly I had the one thing I wanted. I got what call the STEVE JOBS.
What the hell is the Steve Jobs? It’s simple. It’s END-TO-END control of my product. Alitha showed me a way to not only print out my products, as I need them (which saves money), but at a fraction of the price (which saves money), and with better quality (which saves money), and have them turn out HOW I need them to be.

~It needs to say “Hello.”~ STEVE JOBS.
That last thing I said it what’s important to you, those who are interested in what I produce. My fist and foremost reason to being independent was so that I could bring a product that I thought to be quality. It’s because of this I was able to make the Sons of Fate Hardcovers (AKA coffee table Editions), in which the covers are made of wood. Each personally hand crafted, and something I could NEVER do unless I did it independently.
See how much I love you guys?
I wanted to make something that I myself would want to own. And now through self-printing I can achieve that.  Here are the results.
Yup. Whereas before I as limited by budget constraints and walking that fine line between fighting the good fight and living to fight another day, now, I can do both. The idea implemented to conclusion brought you the story, art, colors, letters, were all brought forth by me, now I can add the intensity of the colors, the deepness of the blacks, the mood, the design, the paper. Intended points in mind of creators, but can get lost in third party development.
Don’t believe me, watch Mad Max: Fury road on HBO. Colors are sooo dulled down compared to the theatrical screening.
It is the closest thing I’ve ever done in the comic field that could represent an archival print. That was the goal from me to you: Actual, personal art
End to end control.
That is and forever will be the goal.
Taking myself out of what I say next. Support independent ideals. Support independent comics. There are creators (in every field) who are re-inventing how and what we as consumers buy in this world: in the quality of what they sell.  Sadly most of the time they are swallowed up or over-shined by powers that just have the muscle to do so.
Be attentive to what’s in your face although you may not be looking at it.
Thank you Alitha.
“You can have your cake and eat it too. That’s what cake is for.”
You were right Martin.
He gets it.
Thanks for listening….well reading.


<![CDATA[MY DEADLY BELOVED: That which doesn't kill me... PART 2 (POSTED PREVIOUSLY ON  1/19/2016) ]]>Fri, 22 Apr 2016 01:49:43 GMThttp://blackberryjuice.net/the-forever-grind/my-deadly-beloved-that-which-doesnt-kill-me-part-2-posted-previously-on-1192016GOOD NEWS: If you subscribe, to blackberryjuice.net, GREAT NEWS: Subscription is free and you get FREE UPDATES as well as free art swag.

<![CDATA[MY DEADLY BELOVED......LAUNCHES!! ( Previously posted on 12/9/2015 )]]>Fri, 22 Apr 2016 01:42:02 GMThttp://blackberryjuice.net/the-forever-grind/my-deadly-belovedlaunches-previously-posted-on-1292015


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