Saturday, March 21, 2015

Showcase story: The Fist of Allah

He didn't even wince as the ropes cut into his wrists. The occupants in the back of the truck were rocked back and forth by the merciless driving of their captors. He had already taken in the details of his fellow prisoners. Most of them were innocent villagers. One was an American soldier and the last an English journalist. He knew they were all innocent. The insurgents drove for an unknown location where he was sure they intended to behead them all. The butt of a rifle struck him across the cheek.

"Your eyes to the floor! Do not look around!" The insurgent guard shouted.

Amikam spit some blood on the floor between his boots. Rage surged in his chest but he clenched his teeth through it. It was not yet time.

"Why don't you just let us go?" The English journalist pleaded.

"Don't talk to him. It's not worth it." The soldier said.

"Both of you be silent or I shoot you here!" The guard moved to hit the woman but Amikam let his body fall forward with the rocking of the truck, falling in the guards path. "You clumsy idiot!"

The guard kicked him and them shoved him back onto the bench. His eyes met with those of the journalist. In that moment she realized he did that to protect her.

"Shhhh." Amikam hissed to her quietly and she nodded.

The truck finally jarred to halt and men shouted in Arabic outside. Rough hands grabbed the people on the back of the truck and threw them out of the truck like sacks of rice. They lined up their prisoners with Amikam, the journalist and the soldier in the middle. The desert sun shone hot and unyielding. A camera stood on a tripod ready to record their beheadings.

"I am Kaleeq Mohammad Alsad!" A man shouted from in front of them. "You are infidels and will be executed in accordance of Sharia law!"

Amikam almost smiled. This was the man he had been looking for.  "You are a fool!" He shouted and immediately a gunman struck him from behind.

"Bring that one forward!" Kaleeq shouted. "He will be my first example. After that, I will do the American."

Amikam was rousted and dragged before Kaleeq who held a long sharp machete. Amikam looked up from where he sat on his knees and smiled.

"I have a message for you before you kill me." Amikam said.

"Oh? What is that?"

Amikam considered the distance he was from the other prisoners. It looked like he was far enough away. He turned his face up toward the sky.

"ALLAH BE PRAISED!" Those near him had no chance of reaction as the explosion threw them in all directions. Those at a distance swore they saw a great lightning bolt strike from the heavens followed by and explosion of fire. Amikam was a regal looking man with a black beard and long black hair, but no one saw him that way now.

The man that stood as the flames dispersed had his face hidden in his red keffiyeh (Arabic headdress). He wore a white shirt that exposed some of a muscular and hairy chest. A red sash encircled his waist over his leather pants that lead to heavy leather boots. His hands commanded the most attention for each was armored in crimson metal gauntlets.

Panicking gunmen opened fire with AK-47s, but bullets merely bounced away. Amikam, who had become the legendary Fist of Allah, moved quickly. He snatched a gun away from one man and crushed it in his metal fist.

"You have no more need of this, my friend." He said as he backhanded the gunman to the ground.

He lifted a heavy crate of supplies like it weighed nothing, and threw it at another pair of men. Seeing that they couldn't harm him, the remainder ran or dropped their weapons.

"You cannot surrender to him!" Kaleeq half coughed half yelled as he stood up. "I will  show you, he is but a man!"

In three great strides, Amikam stood in front of Kaleeq. "Yes. Show them what I am."

Kaleeq swung his machete but Fist of Allah caught it and shattered the blade. He reached out and grabbed Kaleeq by the throat, lifting him into the air.

"I am here on behalf of the World Legion and Israeli Secret Service. They want you alive, though I can't imagine why."

As he stood there, the sound of helicopter blades could be heard and three Apache helicopters flew into view. American soldiers jumped out and ran to the prisoners. They also took Kaleeq and put him in handcuffs. A Captain walked up to Amikam.

"You said there would be a signal, but no one expected you to set off a George Lucas light show." The Captain said.

"It is the way of my calling." Amikam said. "Now you have your prisoner. What of the victims?"

"We've arranged to get that journalist out of here. Why not give the insurgents' truck to the other prisoners?"

"I will ride back with them to make sure they are safe."

"Thanks, er, Fist of Allah. You were more than a big help."

"It was my pleasure." Amikam turned and walked away to the other prisoners who were abducted from their homes in a nearby village. He would ride in the truck with them to return them all safely to their families. The mission seemed easy, but he knew that for each insurgent struck down, another would soon take his place. For that, the Fist of Allah would be ever vigilant.

Monday, March 16, 2015

It's time for a Spring drive!

It's time for a web traffic drive! Now I don't know all of the best ways to do that so I'm going to contact some friends and their friends and you! Amazing things are happening and not only could I use some input, but it's a great time to share. Here's the biz as it is for Spring! How many people can we inform about Galaxy Zento? How many people can we bring to the Facebook page (see links upper right). And don't forget that the books are still 99 cents for Kindle and Kindle App!

BOARD GAME UPDATE:
See that image? That's the official design of the board for Galaxy Zento the board game! But I only did the lay out and colors. It got a hot makeover from Kevin Woolfork, whom you might remember as a guest artist! Kevin did this out of the cool goodness of his  heart and there is a package going to go to him as soon as I have the materials (like a free copy of the board game all his own!). He helped me get the grid on the board too. Big thanks to Kevin!

WHO SHOULD I USE?  Help me out here folks. It's going to be time for a kickstarter or something, but I want to go with what people will actually support. If I get no answers, I'll still make my choice somehow. The plan is to break out the board game at Geekonomicon in December! We don't have our table yet, so it's on the list of needs. In order to make things really pop, I need to get some stuff together. Manufacturing on the board game gives us a discount at 250 copies, so keep that in mind. Here are the needs for the convention:

Table: 180.00 (covers two badges for the con)
Chessmen novel (20 copies):  85.00
Short stories book (20 copies): 60.00
Chaos Rising novel (20 copies): 100.00
100 magnets: 30.00
Rack card bookmarks to give away (200): 45.00
250 copies of the board game:  9,750.00

Total aim: 10,250.00

You'll note that hotel isn't listed. People who help will get some equivalent coolness of course! Game copies and more will be up for grabs. Some money will obviously have to go for that but I will be ordering some extras for special thanks on the small amounts.  So here are my options.

Patreon: Allows people to put in a monthly amount over any period of time. May be too slow for this,  and people haven't seemed to want to mess with it before.

Kickstarter: The one most people recommend. Money cannot be tapped into during the course of the drive. So if I need to send money for my table, I can't until the drive is over. But it's fair to work with and I may have two outside sources who will help me spread the word.

GoFundMe: Funds can be tapped into and essentially works as well as Kickstarter with less requirements.

Indiegogo: No major requirements. Not sure about ability to tap into funds before drive is finished. Not sure who has used it so input greatly appreciated.

It looks like there is a lot of competition between Kickstarter and Indiegogo. I doubt Patreon  will be of use except for long term. So, what do you fine folks think? Who should I go with?

FREEBIES? Here's a fun question! What would you like to see for freebies to give out for participation? Do you like keychains or is there something else you think would be cooler? Shoot me your ideas! So far I have had art printed on rack cards and postcards to give away and people have been pretty appreciative of those. I want to make sure I'm delivering a form of cool that my readers and players will love! You now have the opportunity to steer that!

I have to say, my readers are the best! Looking forward to your awesome input!

STORYTIME! While we are on ideas, what character would you like to see a blog story on? And I mean an action packed super short, right here on this blogspot! Post your votes!

MAD MEN OF MARCH! For this month only, you get the chance to pick any two characters to go toe to toe with each other and I'll draw it! The winner gets a print of the art! So post your votes for the Mad men of march and let's see who can pick the best fight!

That's all I have for now! Stay tune and stay posted and keep being the awesome heroes you are!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Homage to the ladies!

Yes, I do have female characters in GZ. Since it's International Women's Day, why not revisit them? The sad issue for me is that I don't draw them very well. Worse since my problems with MS, but that doesn't stop me as most of you know. So let's take a look at some of the best ladies from GZ.

During GZ Legends (coming out as Chaos Rising soon) I introduced a few cool lady characters.

Nightfall: She has the power to cause mental blackouts on physical contact. This also lets her read minds while her target is knocked out. As a member of the team, Calibur 5 she serves Galactic Interpol. She's also Anubis's girlfriend. If that's not a reason not to mess with her, I don't know what is. She's a dead shot with her blaster and a skilled martial artist too.







Gypsy: Spell weaving is her power. She can command magic to do almost anything she wants. She has mild precog abilities and can see the past of objects she touches. She's a teammate to Nightfall in Calibur 5. Her martial skill is equal to Nightfall and the two spar often for practice. She doesn't usually resort to firearms, but if her magic isn't cutting it, she's a crack shot.







Dreamseer: This Elven lady is a powerful psi. She can read minds, heal mental illness, and even cause some damage. She knows a small amount of Elven magic, but seldom uses it. She's a vegetarian and picks on her romantic interest, Atomizer for not being one. She's not bad in physical combat, but usually leaves heavy lifting to her stronger teammates. She's a member of the Strykeforce Guard for the Intergalactic Museum.






Traveller: This lady is Dreamseer's teammate and the main transporter for her team. Her ability to open portals can send teammates to any point in the universe. She's a powerful combatant with the fire staff of the High Druid (yes, he wants it back). She's a master martial artist with her staff and has cleaned up large numbers of opponents before.

All four of these characters are coming up in Chaos Rising. It's going to be an awesome tale of adventure!

In Chessmen 2 there are notable ladies coming up as well.



Lorelei: A Faerie of legendary status, she travels with the legendary Minotaur, Durgan of the Iron Fist. Never underestimate a Fae. She may be small but she wields powerful magics. Not only that, she can fly at high speeds and slice enemies down with her razorwing attack. She has an attitude a hundred times her size, but the next is even smaller and just as tough.






Lypsi: This little lady is an Althamite. They are a race of beings only a centimeter tall. Her power allows her to treat targets as if she were the same size. Did you ever see the cartoon with the little flea that could benchpress dogs? That's kind of what her power allows her to do. She's practically a living bullet.

So that's just a few for the sake of blog length. You can bet there will be more to come on these characters and so many more!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

More teasing on the board game!

As most of you know, I've been busting butt to put together this board game. Plans are still in high gear and it all looks very promising. Today is a special treat. You get to see the cards and what they do, but only a few of them. Nothing is finalized yet in how they look except for one thing. Recently I took votes on doing the artwork with or without borders on the cards. It wasn't overwhelming for one side over an another but a decision has been made. The cards will not have black borders. They will be 'open' in their artwork. I think that will allow me to make the artwork bolder and have it overflow in unique fashion. One thing you can be sure of and that's lots of color.

As a little recap on how the game is played. You start out by picking good or evil as your side of the balance. You get a character type and goal given to you at random. The first person to complete their goal is the winner! But how does this happen? Well, you make moves on the board and every time you make a move you reveal a card from the top of the main deck. Whatever jumps out at you is what you have to deal with. Today, I show you just a few things that will jump out of that deck at you. Ready?

EVENTS: An event is something that can affect everyone or just you. Either way, they shake up game play often. One of the craziest events is the Reality Warp. Reality Warp makes you roll a dice for every card you have to risk it vanishing into the aether. The only things you don't lose are your personal character type and your goal. Everything else is fair game. It's just one of the many things that can change the whole game in the blink of an eye.






TRAPS: Walking into a trap is never fun. You'll have to roll your d20 often to escape them. But some traps can work in your favor. Some traps will hurt other players if they are close enough to you on the board. Take the Explosive device for example. Sure, you get hurt, but so does everyone else. If you goal is to cause damage to other players (<spoiler!) this could be a win, unless it kills you of course.






POWERS: Hoping to get stronger as you travel the board? You may get a power while you are out wandering that helps out your game. Beware, everything is easy come easy go, so make sure you make good use while you can.








ITEMS: Don't you wish people would quit littering the universe? You never know what you'll find out there. Maybe some body armor or a sword? Who knows. But items are geared to make you stronger against the threats you'll face.








ARTIFACTS: While hard to get your hands on, artifacts can make you powerful and even complete a goal (<spoiler!). They can allow you to cast powerful spells or just bump up your numbers.

Then there's the Characters and Beasts that come out at you. Depending on your alignment of good or evil, you will either fight or recruit them as allies. There will be more on them later. I hope this whets your appetite for game play. Stay tuned because there will be more to come! Remember to click on the pictures for a closer view!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Louisiana Comicon Pain and Gain

We headed out early, or so we thought. On our arrival the line was 2 miles long. The first ever Comicon in Bossier city, Louisiana drew over a thousand people to stand in line. We stood in line because tickets to building capacity sold out in minutes. One person in our group has his ticket and got to in via a different line. We spent a gruesome and painful four hours standing in that line. It rained on us hard, but someone eventually brought  up a tarp. We held it like a tent over our heads for the longest time. For a man with MS, leaning on a cane and a 12 year old high functioning autistic, the day was a massive challenge. I have to give my son props. He made through with minimal complaining. I'm very proud of him.

While that four hours was painful and gives thought to the next con being in a bigger venue, it definitely was not boring. One of the fellows near us brought a didgeridoo and played it from time to time. There were folks in costume everywhere and constantly walking up and down the line. The rains caused a number of folks to give up. Everyone who gave up only served to steel our resolve.

Finally, we got in. You know what? The four hour painful wait was worth it. My feet and knees were screaming at me. I ignored them and had to go on a search for cool con things and people. It's the smallest place I have ever been in for a comicon, but it was still awesome. There were artists, vendors, and celebrities. We were just in time for my wife to make it to a Q and A with actor Nicholas Brendon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Criminal Minds). That made the whole trip for her!

On the way to view the winners of the costume contest I went by his table and said in passing; "You made my wife's whole trip." The man stood up and shook my hand on the spot. It was a very cool moment.

I have to say that all the celebrities there were easily approached and friendly. Mary Kate Smith from King of the Nerds was no exception. She was friendly, witty, and fun to talk to. When she did an autograph for my wife she wrote out a full quote awesome message.

For me, I also went specifically to meet the people of the group Southern Geek (couple of these pics stolen from them- so check out their page for more). I met with the Discount Dark Knight, Rafe and his wife, Shannon. I got to say HI to a couple of our cool geek friends Shane and his lovely fiance Krista. Shane is in his Boba Fett gear that he totally built and he's next to DDK. Shane is with the 501st Legion.




My son got a new stuffed cat and some Minecraft toys. I got some Heroclix and the pic my friend and guest artist Ken Davis did for me. Only two artists have given me their originals (which is by no means a requirement) so that's going in my office! All and all, while today I'm moving like a slug, it was all totally worth it! Big thanks to the awesome lady who put a tarp over our heads and left it with us when she found out she was in the wrong line. Big thanks to all the cool people around us who were friendly and fun to hang out with. Big thanks to the con for all it's efforts and everyone inside.

Next time, we won't fail to get the tickets well ahead of time! I hope! Better yet, maybe I'll be at a table of my own?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Guest Artist: Billy Barnette!

Anubis looking tall and strong
It's been an awesome lineup of guest artists lately and today is no exception. Billy Barnette has actually done three GZ characters; Songcutter, Yxee and Anubis. Billy is man making a breakthrough comeback into art as you wills see from our discussion. To check out more of is astounding work you will need to go to Genesis Studios on Facebook.

GZ: So, Billy, how long have you been doing your art?

BB: Been back at it for 3 years after a 10 year hiatus from drawing altogether.

GZ: Wow. Safe to say your art hasn't suffered from the hiatus. What inspires you the most?

BB: My son. Always has been and always will be.

GZ: I can understand that as I feel the same way about my son. Do you have any upcoming projects?

BB: My buddy, Jeremiah Ciardullo, and I are working on a little something something. We're in the process of getting some pages stacked together and we'll be releasing it later this year.

GZ: Sounds a little mysterious and that makes it cool right there. Are you currently for hire or have commissions open?

BB: Unavailable for hire due to our current project but pretty much always open for a good commission piece.

Yxee with Songcutter in back
GZ: So essentially, long term projects are out, but one shots are a possibility. I know the feeling. I think we're definitely looking forward to what you have coming next. Now, is there any advice you have for budding artists?

BB: It sounds so cliche and I know everyone's heard it all before, but the advice I'd give is  draw, draw, draw. Whatever it might be. And whatever you do, don't go on a ten year hiatus!

Excellent points but, I still stay that hiatus hasn't hurt your work (but we are our own worst critics when it comes to art). Thanks so much for being involved. As the rest of you can see, Billy has his own personal and powerful style that shows in all his work. Captain America here is looking expressive and has a strong jaw profile.

And if that's not solid enough for you, take a look at this. That's some awesome detail and expression if you ask me!  Be sure to add his FB page and check out what's going on for current action.You won't be disappointed. And thanks for tuning in, heroes! See you next time!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Guest Artist: Kevin Woolfork!

I absolutely love showcasing independent artists! The ability to show you the work that you can't see in your mainstream comics or books is an astounding adventure in talent. Today, we take another step in that adventure and bring you Kevin Woolfork. Kevin honored me with a great pic of Major Xeroh from my novel: Chessmen. Check it out!

So I asked him a few questions as I usually do and found his answers detailed and profound.

GZ: So how long have you been doing your art?

Kevin: I have been drawing ever since I can remember. That had to be the most generic answer you get in regards to drawing. I will say that my skill level has always improved exponentially when I am surrounded by other creators creating. It's difficult creating in a vacuum. Without that feedback and constructive criticism, for me, skill and motivation tends to waver.

GZ: I think that's a great answer, actually. Do you have any current projects?

Kevin: Right now I'm working on a project titled ABOUT TIME. It's a slow and steady grind with a very capable young artist, Rafael Gumboc. I found Rafael on one of the Facebook comic forums and he's been knocking it out of the park with every page. It's about a scientific time traveling family. We're bringing trouble, adventure and hopefully dodging cliches. Through my side project FOOLS WORK Designs, I have designed logos, comic covers, T-shirts and banners. That business is very much in its infancy and has a small client base. Hopefully I will have more time to devote to developing that brand in the near future.

GZ: Sounds very cool. Are you otherwise for hire?

Kevin: If anyone saw something in my skill set that they thought could positively impact their project, I AM for hire. I am a self proclaimed writer, but have spent years studying and dissecting comic art and production. I am conversant with, if not proficient in, most aspects of comic production. My independent study includes writing, character design, inking, basic coloring, page laouts, scripting, dialogue, logo design, and graphic design (branding).

GZ: That does sound like you've got some work under your belt. So what inspires you?

Kevin: I gain inspiration from almost everywhere. I try to find something to motivate me to improve my skills no matter what I see. If something doesn't appeal to me but is finished, I am inspired by it being done. If it's great, I'm given a standard to strive towards. I'm motivated by the things I can't do. I want to be able to do ALL aspects of creating so I know what I'm asking of collaborators. Currently I'm frustrated yet inspired by loading brushes for my Wacom tablet so I can ink and color digitally and learning the basics of comic book lettering. I'm also trying to decipher the controls in Manga Studio. I've heard from many creators that is'a a more intuitive program specific to comic production versus Photoshop which is photo manipulation software the comic book industry hijacked.

To see more of Kevin's work you can check out his Deviantart page, contact him at his Facebook page, or just email him at wolfprime@hotmail.com

In visiting his Devaintart page, you will see that Kevin's work is diverse in many ways, just as he describes above. Even in what he calls a quick sketch, his talents shine through. I particularly liked this gender swap Falcon work.

As always, big thank go out to Kevin and all guest artists for all the amazing talents they share. Don't miss out on independent artists, you never know what you'll see!