A Beacon

Cape Hatteras LighthouseI’ve been in something of a rut, at least creatively, for a while now. Don’t get me wrong, this is not some ‘writers’ block’ thing, (I don’t believe in writers’ block). It’s more that I’ve been drifting, trying to work out, from a more business-minded perspective, the best way forward. I’ve been tinkering with things, planning projects and I’ve been doing some other non-storytelling things which I’ve found to be really kinda refreshing.

Then the 2016 Election happened. And it was less that Trump won (though this seems more and more questionable on a daily basis…. save the arguments, this is not about that) and more what”s happened as a result.  I was equally sideswiped after the results of the Brexit Referendum (again, save the arguments, not about THAT either) and what it revealed about the society I’d grown-up in and come from.

There’s an awful lot of darkness and anger and hate swirling around.  In both my country of origin and my adopted home, there has been not so much an upsurge in hate and intolerance, but rather those vile and ignorant sentiments have been allowed…. and in some cases encouraged to come to the fore.  Ideas that have, for the last fifty plus years, been gradually and deservedly squashed and removed from polite, nay acceptable conversation, are suddenly broadcast far and wide.

And it was these two events that hammered me hardest of all.

What’s the point of what I do, as a storyteller, when faced with such vitriolic rage. Isn’t what I do, as a storyteller, ineffective…. futile in contrast with what NEEDS to happen to rein in such willful ignorance and intolerance?

Compounding this, I know many of my creative colleagues have had similar thoughts.  Friends I would’ve called on for advice, support and encouragement, have had nothing to offer; feeling as frustrated, hopeless and maybe even as scared as I felt.

So what to do?


Hunker down and attempt to weather the coming storm?


It’s something I’ve seriously pondered for the past month or so.

And I think I’ve reached a decision point.

What the storyteller does IS important (of course, you’d expect me to say that).  The storyteller is always on the frontline when facing darkness and fear.  The storyteller sends a heroine against the gods.  The storyteller sends the hero on a quest.  The storyteller builds the monsters and demons and darkness.  Creates a world that would crush the courage of the strongest warrior.  Creates a universe that would sap the will of the most brilliant mind.  And against such odds, the die is cast.  Lone quester, band of outcasts, fellowship of the defiant, against insurmountable odds.

The storyteller guides their heroes into the darkness and emboldens them with the one thing no evil can take or ever fully destroy.  Hope.

The beacon of hope in the darkest of times, no matter how fictional, is a seed that will grow and bloom into the power to throw back and ultimately defeat the darkest of foes…. even crossing the boundaries between fictional and real worlds.

So in this time of ominous darkness, I will do what I do. I will tell stories.  I will create characters who might well be the sole point of light in an oppressive darkness.

I will give hope.  I will give light.

I will be the light.  The defiant beacon around which others will congregate, draw strength, draw fight and draw hope from.

And I encourage all my colleagues to do the same.

We will blaze back at the darkness.

Aaaaaaaand, breathe

Oak City ComicConI’ve been wrestling with this update for a couple of days and finally decided to go ahead. It’s the kinda thing that can light the interwebs on fire, in the same way inadequately reheated, leftover curry from two weeks ago can scorch your digestive tract and ruin your ability to sit comfortably without the aid of a repurposed floatation device…. and a lot of icepacks.

I also figure that since only about three people actually read this (in no small part due to my hit and miss updates) and those three are usually polite and well reasoned…. well, two of the three — you know who you are and what you did — things will stay civilized here.

So, my point.

Can we all just take a step back and breathe?

Where does the rage and fury come from?

I know what you’re thinking, “Dale! Stop! Don’t go there. Stay away from the politics, man.”

But I’m not going there, I’m talking about my world and my people. The Geeks.

A couple of examples, though you three know these things, so I’m probably preaching to the choir.


Original Trilogy = awesome incarnate…. except the Ewoks (which I will argue in favor of if anyone wants to go).

Original Trilogy Remixes = What? You tweaked things here and there? How dare you!? I don’t care that you created these formative events in my youth, you have now created an abomination that has soiled, befouled and sullied no only the memory of the originals, but ruined entire childhoods. George Lucas should NEVER be allowed to touch a Star Wars thing again.

Prequel Trilogy announcements = NERDGASM! My youth returned to me.

Prequel Trilogy = an abomination that has soiled, befouled and sullied no only the memory of the originals, but ruined entire childhoods. George Lucas should NEVER be allowed to touch a Star Wars thing again.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens announcements = JJ Abrams? Really? The dude who did Star Trek? Lens Flares Man? He’ll ruin it!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens = JJ Abrams did it! My youth is returned to me. Y’know what they should do? They should get George Lucas back, have him direct one of the new movies. We should start a petition to make that happen.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

You can do the same with most of the big franchise, geekiverse movies and even the TV shows.

Yes, even the TV shows. The Walking Dead ended it’s sixth season this past weekend. Honestly, I don’t care for the show, not least of which because I think it adds to this “us and them” dynamic at play here (as I addressed over here). There was righteous fury that the season ended in a cliffhanger. I mean, really!? THAT is what drives you over the edge? A serialized TV show ends a season with a cliffhanger…. like pretty much EVERY OTHER serialized TV show does? This should be a bonus. These days, almost every new show that starts, ends early and then later seasons at a point where if the show doesn’t get picked up for a new season, you have a halfway satisfying conclusion. But this is a lock…. it’s coming back…. and when I was but a callow youth, that cliffhanger was what sustained me and my fellow geeks through the long drought of a rerun-ladened summer.  The endless possibilities and debates about what HAD happened, what that meant and what we thought WOULD happened when the show returned.  That was the hook, the engagement, what made viewers FANS.

But those days seem to be past. Today we want everything NOW!









And the reason for my hesitance in making this post is the completely inappropriate rage and disproportionate reaction of people who don’t agree.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice is a movie that seems to have created a ridiculous schism in the geekiverse. And it’s not about whether one side has a valid point, not even about conceding someone else had a differing opinion and COMPLETELY ignoring the subjective element to what YOU like as opposed to someone else. If you don’t agree with me, you are wrong. Wrong wrong wrong wrong WRONG!

I enjoyed Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, as I said here. It wasn’t perfect. I had some issues with it. But it made for an entertaining way to consume carbs in a darkened room and share an experience with other humans. But honestly, seeing the gloating posts on Facebook, mostly from the naysayers (though not entirely) about how the movie is bad and why…. and why they were right to say it sucked and…. yeah, ner-ner-neh-ner-ner…. no YOU bite ME! That all just sucks the joy out of the whole thing.

So maybe we could all just take a step back, breathe, and ENJOY the differences rather than use them to destroy something. Or worse, destroy someone who didn’t entirely agree.

Maybe I’m wrong.

I’m sure someone will tell me if I am.



I went to see the new movie Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. It’s created a LOT of heated content all around the interweb tubes.… some of that content, even coherent. There doesn’t seem to be anyone who doesn’t either hate it with a burning passion, or love it with an equal ardor.

If you’re on the fence about the movie and torn about whether to drop some cash on it, let me help.

If you’re in any way, shape or form, a fan of the Christopher Reeve version, and SPECIFICALLY Superman: The Movie, this might not be the one for you. If you are a passionate fan of the Adam West incarnation of Batman, this is definitely not the one for you.

If you liked Man of Steel (and I did), you’ll probably enjoy the movie. If you’re a fan of Frank Miller’s increasingly gritty incarnations of Batman, you’ll love it.

If you’re looking for a halfway decent pop-corn movie, where you can sit in the dark for a couple of hours, inhale way more carbohydrates than you should, and have no skin in the game at all, drop some cash…. but it is NOT a kiddie movie. That’s not to say it’s way too mature for kids, but there’s a lot in the thing that mirrors a great deal of our society that is less than attractive.

Additionally, ignore the trailers. For the most part the way the ads I’ve seen are cut, it’s VERY deceptive (though at least it’s not one of those movies where the trailers look excellent, but then leave you wondering why that bit in the trailer wasn’t in the actual movie). For example, in the last trailer I saw, it appears that there are multiple times where Batman uses a gun. Anyone who knows Batman knows that he’s very much against the Second Amendment, but in each instance within the trailer, it is not the way it appears when you see it in the movie.

Additionally, you might have seen a lot of complaints that the way the two central characters are portrayed is not in keeping with their comic book incarnations. To some degree this is true. However, I have something that you can keep in mind going in, which should ease that feeling and have the entire thing makes sense.


OK, here goes….

The Batman and Superman in this movie are NOT the same as the comic book versions.

I know, you’re thinking I’m being a smart ass, and usually I am, but this time, there’s more to it.

I’m of the opinion that Man of Steel is called that, because Clark Kent / Kal-El, is not actually Superman in that movie. He’s learning how to be the guy we all know. And it’s a hard journey. By the end of Man of Steel, he is A Superman. THE Superman, if you want. But he is still not SUPERMAN.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice starts 18 months after Man of Steel and our transplanted Krytonian is still NOT our All American hero. Additionally, a jaded Batman, who has spent 20 years doing his thing had his world turned upside down by the events of Man of Steel.

BOTH characters are feeling at a loss. Neither knows their place in the world. Literally. Additionally, there are external forces at play, driving the conflict between the two.

It’s not until we get towards the conclusion of the movie that THE Superman becomes OUR Superman…. and it’s at this same point that a careworn and emotionally defeated Batman remembers who he is and again rises to become the hero we know, once more.

And that’s not to say that either is innately bad-guy-esque to that point, but they are on a journey.

If you don’t want to see that journey, don’t want to accept a character that grows and evolves, don’t care how the characters became who you like in the comics or other movies, save your cash and wait for the next movie from the DC Cinematic Universe, because I think that will likely be more your speed.

The movie ISN’T perfect and it IS flabby. There are scenes that could be cut. But for my money, this is the best screen Batman I’ve seen, with the exception of the Batman: The Animated Series of the early 90’s; and for me, it’s interesting seeing THE Superman grow into the name, finally decide to own it and then do something with it.

The Con Is On…. AGAIN!

Oak City ComiconQuick update this time.

I’m gonna be at the Oak City Comic Con on April 16th.

If you’re in the area, or are going to be, swing by and say hello. I’ve been involved with this con, it’s sister, the NC Comic Con, and the amazingly supportive of people behind them who hale from Ultimate Comics, for a while now. They run a great show, lots of things to do with some super talented people always on hand. For more info, check out here at Oak City Comiccon!

Come see me and lots of other amazing people.

While You Were Out… so was I!

Wall of booksUm…. yeah…. so the more astute reader has probably noticed there’s a slight jump in dates between this post and the previous one. I know how it seems, but it’s not how it looks.

OK, it probably is a lot closer to how it looks than I’d like to admit, but I can explain.


It’s not like I’ve been neglecting you guys in favor of other readers.

I’ve been taking some time to NOT write.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “How is it a writer can not be writing? Surely the creative arrangement of words is all that separates you from the common or garden slack-jawed lollygagger, isn’t it?”

To which I’d reply, “Why can’t I be both?”

But I digress.

Here’s the thing, I’ve been doing a lot of stuff. Some of it work that you see, some of it work you don’t see, some of it work you might see and sadly, a lot of work you will never see.

I decided I’d take a step back, actively NOT write and do some family-centric things. Like build some bookshelves in the library of our new house…. because…. well, a library without shelves if really just a room full of boxes of books, right?

I’ve also been flexing in a different creative direction, working with the amazingly talented Howard Mackie on a comic called  The Monster Kid .

I’ve also been, what to the untrained eye, might appear to be committing random acts of lollygagging, but in actual fact, that WAS writing. Ask any writer and they’ll tell you that a great deal of the writing process happens behind the eyes, no scratching pens, no pecked keyboards, just sitting there and thinking; pondering ideas, imagining places and talking to pretend people in your head. Occasionally it also means sitting with those pretend people and letting them binge-watch Daredevil on Netflix. (Really, I don’t want to do it, but they make me, and the only way they see the show is through the looking-holes in the front of my head, so what am I supposed to do? I have to work with these pretend people, it’s on me to keep them happy and things moving smoothly.)

So, after building shelves, reintroducing myself to my kids, watching some little league baseball, drawing comic pages, possibly checking out Longmire on Netflix (it’s research, OK?), and thinking about stories and places and people and ideas, I’m back.

Doing the hand-parts of writing as well as the head parts.

So did ya miss me?

I’m going to take any silence as quiet ascent that I was missed, and it’s easier not to get emotional if you say nothing at all.

How Many People Did King Kong Squish?

King KongSo the other day, No.2 Son asks me a question. I don’t know if this was a spontaneous thought or something he’d been pondering for a while, but he looked up at me and:

“Y’know King Kong?”


“At the end, when he falls off the building…?


“How many people did he squish when he landed?”

Obviously I had no idea.  

But because, as the all-knowing high-father of my house (sorry, I’ve been reading a bunch of old Thor comic books, recently), there is nothing I don’t know the answer to…. at least as far as my kids are concerned, I fell back on my default answer:

“What do you think?”

He pondered this for a few moments, shrugged, said, “Plenty!” then moved on to discussing how to throw a change-up when pitching in Little League.

That was it.  He’d moved on. But the question hung in there for me. It was less the actually question itself. What stuck in the back of my head was a much shorter question. Why?

And not, why didn’t I know the answer to that question, but why had I never even thought of it?

(For reference, I’m a purist, so the movie we’re talking about, the one my kids have seen, is the original King Kong.)

Let’s be honest, Kong IS a bad guy.  He IS a monster.  He IS a killer.  On Skull Island, the big ape kills plenty of people, locals and tourists alike. When he breaks free in New York, the body count starts to build pretty quickly…. and in some places, quite deliberately viciously.

Yet not only do we care about Kong; not only do we feel sad when he dies; not only do we walk away feeling that Kong was a victim…. THE victim; we completely forget the deaths he’s caused, directly and indirectly…. and we never once think about who might have been under that giant, hairy, bullet-ridden…. and now significantly more squishy, body.

Compare that to the palpable, frothing outrage of the fans, when Metropolis suffered a whole slew of damage and deaths as Superman fought Zod in “Man of Steel.”

Why didn’t people care when it came to King Kong, but they were outraged in Man of Steel?

Initially, you might think it’s down to special effects. The power of computer graphics makes it easier to destroy a movie city; that creative toolbox didn’t exist in 1932.  But that doesn’t hold water.  The movie ‘Independence Day’ did WAY more damage, caused WAY more deaths, and THAT movie had people cheering in the cinema. (I have no idea why…. I thought it sucked.)

You might argue that the effects in Kong are so crude, compared to the sophistication of todays CGI masterpieces, that as an audience, you don’t TOTALLY buy into the reality…. you don’t completely suspend belief. But again, if that WAS the case, why do we also feel sad when Kong dies?

Honestly, I STILL have no idea what the answer is.  Why that question never occurred to me before. Why don’t we care how many people King Kong kills?

Do you know?

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch

So things have been quiet here for a while.

Projects I wanted to work on, personal ones that were usually more speculatve in nature, got put on the back burner, while others, took priority.

Alas, most of those are the kind that I can usually not talk about until all the ‘i’s are crossed and the ‘t’s dotted.

And then there are the ones that are less securely locked down, that I still can’t talk about, because I don’t want to jinx them.

However, one of those secret projects is now out there, and I can point you towards it.

For those who know me more for the words and the writing, the new project is something of a departure, as I’m working solely on the art.  But I’m no dummy (dispite the way my blog posts often suggest the contrary), I’m teamed up with an awesome writer who is no novice to writing comics.  My creative partner on the projects is none other than the man, the legend,  Howard Mackie .

(He’s actually a very laid back, easy to get a long with, no frills, “There really is NO need to keep calling me THE HOWARD MACKIE, just Howard is fine.” kinda guy.)

Anyways, go check it out over on  THE MONSTER KID  website.  We have a few pages there already and more lined up.

And look for more regular updates here soon.


No…. really!

Book in a Year #242

Have a drinkWhen I was a kid, Christmas was one of the times when family and friends would make an extra effort to meet up and spend some time together.  It wasn’t like we wouldn’t see each other the rest of the year, but at Christmas there was that little bit of extra time to make it happen.

As a kid, the bonus here was that you would always get extra treats, goodies and maybe even gifts.

That wasn’t me being greedy or self-serving. That was me being a kid.

Which, now that I think about it, is kinda one and the same.

Of course, there was always the chance that if you visited in the days after Christmas, a cousin might well have gotten that really cool thing you had been yearning for… nay, dreaming of your whole life… right from the first moment you had seen it… in their hand… 30 seconds after you arrived.

But those were fleeting moments, as I was lucky enough to have cousins who would share… and there was a more than good chance they were feeling the same jealous pangs about whatever I’d received.

Fast forward to today.

Where I live a 3500 miles away from most of my family.

And the majority of those miles are the wet kind, so it’s not like I could set off super early and make the drive.

In years past I’ve had family even further away and friends I went to elementary school with go all the way around the world.  

Full disclosure: On some level, in the part of my head that’s still the little kid who would get excited about going over to see cousins, in the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, this concept still blows my mind.

I have friends across the globe.  Old friends and family still in the UK.  New friends close at hand and some spread across the continent I now call home.  I have friends I’ve met through work or socially, in person and online.  Friends who are so far away they will start their celebrations almost a day before I do.

And yes, with that time difference I’m even taking into account the fact that No.3 Son will likely be awake at an ungodly hour to see if Santa has been yet.

The thing that brought me so far away from the place I was born and raised is the thing that helps me keep in touch with them now.  The interwebs.

So I’ll use that technology to send out this message.

Wherever you are, and however we know each other, be that relations, friends new and old, or you’ve stumbled on something I’ve written and decided to stay around to see what I come up with next (if you’re in this group, thanks for reading), I wish you all the happiest holiday season.  I hope it finds you with the ones you care about, and if you have to spend time with some of the less liked relations…

Y’ know, like cousin Morty, with the bad comb-over, weird cabbage-like aroma and wandering hands.

…that time is short and cushioned by alcohol… or candy canes… or a chance to use that new app on your phone that will fake an emergency call.

However you celebrate this time of year, wherever you are, have a great time and have a drink for me.

‘Cos I’m gonna be having one for you.

Possibly two… because I care.


Project Status Updates

Book in a Year #224

Nelson MandelaI know with the recent casting of Wonder Woman in the next Superman movie happening… and then the first official trailer for Amazing Spider-Man 2 coming out… and a half dozen other things that are of major importance to the maintenance of a free world, it’s easy to miss smaller stories that happen somewhere else.

Of course, on occasion, even things that happen in other places make it into the news.  So in all likelihood you have seen this.

South Africa’s Nelson Mandela dies in Johannesburg.

Being that this IS something that happened somewhere else, and that I likely have readers who have no idea of the history of the man, I’d encourage you to check something the BBC put together here, about Mandela’s life.

Now when someone like Mandela dies, it has an impact, and in the world of politics this is just the kind of event one can hitch a name to and gain some exposure from.

Whether it’s appropriate or not.

So I wasn’t at all surprised to see things like this….

Screen Shot 2013-12-06 at 11.49.41 AM

….popping up on my Facebook wall today.  

This is just one example, and I’ve seen variations on a theme, usually aimed at right wing politicos, both here in the U.S. and back in the U.K.

That kind of political hay-making is tacky.  It is hypocritical.  It’s even out right obnoxious.

But I would suggest that anyone who feels the urge to lay down some righteous fury at those who are exploiting this situation; aiming hate and vitriol where it might well be deserved.  I’d suggest those people consider the example of Mandela himself.  Are you behaving in a manner that personifies the person you’re attempting to honor?

I’m not defending the political hacks who will doubtlessly say whatever they feel portrays them in the best light to achieve their personal ambitions, merely trying to value a better example.

Just a thought.