Well that was real mature...

Well that was real mature...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Proud Poppa & Sour Grapes: The Agony and Ecstasy of Youth Baseball

To veer off topic from writing...
 I have to do some parental bragging and some bitching about youth baseball.
Xander got back into the swing of things with a great showing at the District Tournament. He played three games for the All-Star Nine Year Old Team, with nine plate appearances he had only a single strike out (as usual his patience at the plate allowed him to draw 2 walks).  As a team they placed second and qualified for the State tournament next week.
Unfortunately, in the first game, he was only used as a bench outfielder playing the final four innings (pic right), but he was making good contact at the plate and, while in the outfield, he kept several runners who should have advanced to second firmly on first base.  However, despite his success, it was one of those frustrating things. The All-Star team was comprised of 11 players (Xander was the lone representative from the Pirates, two from the Braves, two from the Giants and SIX from the Storm). The manager (actually the entire coaching staff) of the All-Star team is from the Storm. He was constantly benching or alternating players from the other teams while never benching his guys. Going even further, his guys were our infield: 1B, 2B, SS, 3B and all three starting pitchers were Storm and none of them sat out. Oddly the manager kept saying that players who hustle and work hard would not be benched. I guess he just left out the team origin qualifier. Anyone who knows Xander, knows his work ethic is unparalleled. Sour grapes? Yeah, a little. But it was bad. Real bad (more on that in a minute).
As usual Xander plays his best the more he is utilized. He caught the complete second game of the series where he hit two singles and an RBI ground out. Even the organizers of the tournament must have noticed his hard work since they named him player of the game and awarded him with a commemorative bat and ball. I highlighted that because it says a lot to me. Outsiders, who don't have a dog in the race, picked him out of both teams as the player of the game. Not the unbenchable infield Storm players. My lone little Pirate. BTW, The All-Star team wins when he catches (pic above). Coincidence? Possibly. But it's worth pointing out we won 20-7.
Sadly, in game 3 he was mainly designated hitter, although he did provide one inning of relief at catcher during the second inning and was sent in to relief pitch in the last inning. He inherited a bases loaded 2 out situation where he worked the batter to a full count before striking him out.  As Designated Hitter, he was able to score one of our runs (pic left Xander on second base). He could have done more, but in spite of his great contact, he was ridiculously far down in the batting order and kept getting stranded and I bet you can guess which players had the primo batting spots...
Relief catcher for the second inning? Yea, you read that right. Remember when I said it was "real bad." The manager's son was pitching and our other catcher (from the Braves) was behind the plate. The manager's kid gave up 6 or 8 runs in the first inning (I lost count). Lots of wild pitches. It's not his fault, some days it's just not there, but does our fearless leader yank his kid who (to paraphrase J. Michael Straczynski) could not find the strike zone with a hunting dog and a ouija board?
Hell, no! He yanks the catcher for an inning, because it would never occur to him that HIS player should be the one pulled. I hated to see Xander go in that way, he and the other catcher have become friends. It's kind of a "band of brothers" thing because you gotta be a special kind of nuts to want to get back there in summer heat. Anyhow, the wild pitch parade went on and on and on. For four innings. Then another Storm "star" got his chance, and instead of a wild-pitch-athon it became batting practice. I'd like to say it was an off day for the kid but he did the same thing the day before. But again, it would never occur to them that perhaps, the kid is not right for the mound and if their kid isn't, then the others could never be ready. Until finally they need a scape goat to hang it on, that is. That's when he pulled Xander from DH to get the last elusive out. Xander had only pitched 2/3 of a single inning during the regular season, but now he had to get a bases loaded out. He did get it with six pitches. He struck him out looking on a full count. Xander, is not a pitcher. He can hit the strike zone but he lacks power and speed. It also could also have turned into batting practice, but to his credit, Xander stepped up and got the job done today (again when Storm guys could not) but it was too late with a score of 20-10. I could go on there were other incidents, but I trust I made my point.
Hopefully, he'll be utilized more at the state tournament and the other kids who earned a place on the team will get to play more.  I'm so proud of Xander's heart and hustle. He gave it his all and it showed. Now he needs some respect from the coaches. No, strike that, he knows he did well and he doesn't need a damn thing from them. But he sure does deserve it.

Friday, June 27, 2014

They Fight and We Experiment!

After a brief hiatus for HeroesCon 2014, page ten of "Four Horsemen" is now up at www.adventuresinpulp.com.  With just three pages left, I'll confess to being nervous. It was a radical departure in style from our previous efforts and while it has been rolling out better than expected, it's a little nerve wracking when you take a chance artistically.

We will be making some changes to our original plan for the site and will officially announce it soon. It's all good news and we think fans will be happy. As proud as I have been of our experimental short stories, I do yearn to write some longer form tales. Some stories that will allow for more plot and character development and pacing that will get away from the "cliffhanger" on every page.

Until then I hope you enjoy the final pages of "Four Horsemen" as they roll out over the next month. As soon as it wraps, I will do a writer's commentary here and at www.adventuresinpulp.com just like the ones I did for "Hawk and A Handsaw" and "Dick Ruby and the Case of the Little Green Men."

(Pictured: An online ad by Adventures in Pulp artist Matthew Childers)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Post-HeroesCon Free Advice for Pros and a Birthday

It was a fun time at HeroesCon this year.  While I had it easy with only one day behind the table, versus Matt who manned it for the whole of the con, it was a blast seeing the interest in www.adventuresinpulp.com as people discovered us for the first time and we got the chance to meet people who have been reading us on line for the last year.

My son, Xander, came along this year and got some of his comics signed and even a few of mine, because I'm a creator as well as a fan. Honestly, I can't imagine anyone loving four color literature enough to make it without also being a fan.

It's through the eyes of a kid that you can get a reality check. I was thrilled to see which creators Xander said were kind and accessible while I was shocked to see who was less so. The new oddity seems to be creators who come to the table and refuse to sign or seem put off about having to stop what they are doing. So here is some free advice from a peon who is still thrilled when ANYONE comes up to my table: Don't be an ass. If someone likes your work enough to dig it out of their collection (and let's face it, if you do conventions you probably have an ample collection) and transport it God-knows-how-many miles, walks the con floor carrying the stuff plus whatever they have picked up, then stands in line to meet YOU so you can sign your name on something they PAID for (which in return, caused you  to get GET PAID), the ABSOLUTE LEAST you could do is put on a fake smile, pretend to be gracious, and write your name. If you don't want to do that, STAY HOME. Don't roll your eyes, let out an annoyed huff or ask them to come back later because you are busy.

Don't get me wrong, some fans can be difficult and demanding, but really the big thing that got me on this rant were artists who didn't want to sign until later because they were "working." If you are so behind your deadline that you can't sign or talk to fans then put a sign at your station saying when you will be there, then go back to your hotel room and work. Conventions are work too, just a different kind. You are there to promote yourself and your work, if you choose to do your "other" job when you are there and act like the people who are there to see you are an annoyance then people will remember that. That is who you are to them, and they will tell their friends (especially the ones they socialize with at the comic shop.)

Likewise when you make the effort, people talk about that as well. I know I will be talking about how awesome and super nice Jeff Smith was and how happy he made Xander when he was signing his "Shazam and the Monster Society of Evil" books. The kind words of Mark Waid, Cully Hamner, Karl Story and others go far. Kids call it like they see it. (Admittedly, Xander was rehearsing a lot for Mark Waid, since Matt asked him to give Mark copies of "Adventures in Pulp" and "Jigsaw World") I'll confess I was nervous about that one. Mark is one of the best in the industry. One of those guys you *have* to read because, if you don't, you'll miss out. Knowing Xander gave him my stuff makes me feel like he just handed Picasso one of my childhood coloring books. <shudder>

Speaking of Xander, today is his birthday! His mom and I are so incredibly proud of the little guy. Smart, fun and funny. Eclectic in his tastes and kind in his heart, we could not have a better kid in the universe.

From straight A's to baseball All-Star. I half-jokingly say that I set high standards for him. The truth is that he is blessed with a lot of gifts, and works hard to develop in areas where he was not as blessed. The end result is a spectacular kid who gets all the credit for himself, because he sets a new standard.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Heroes Con 2014!

Please come by and say "Hi!" if you are attending Heroes Con 2014 in Charlotte, NC this weekend!

I will be at the Adventures in Pulp table located at AA1326. My partner in crime, illustrator Matthew Childers, is there right now and will be there all weekend, while I will be there for Saturday only!

We will have several items including the PRINT PREMIER of "Adventures In Pulp." Unlike our Free Comic Book Day offering which was a black and white sampler with a few pages from each of our three stories, this comic will be a full color flip-book featuring the complete of "Dick Ruby and the Case of the Little Green Men" and "Hawk and A Handsaw." So for those of you who love the www.adventuresinpulp.com site and would like an actual physical copy of our first two stories to keep, now is your chance!

Of course, the bad news is because of the convention, we had to delay this week's installment of our current tale: "Four Horsemen." We should be back full steam ahead next week!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Few Follow-Ups... (4 Horsemen, Catch My Soul, All-Stars)

At right is your humble scribe showing off one of the first www.adventuresinpulp.com shirts available at our new store. Also remember our current sorry "Four Horsemen" is back with a new page going up a few days ago. Assuming no problems with dreaded day jobs, we should be full tilt ahead for the rest of the story.

A pic below to go along with my recent suggestion to read about by friend's efforts to get the Patrick McGoohan film "Catch My Soul" (aka Santa Fe Satan) a restoration and Blu-Ray release at http://www.theunmutual.co.uk/catchmysoul1.htm

Just when I thought baseball season was over, they pull me back in. Well not me. I'm done for the season. Xander (right) was one of three Little Pirates to be selected to the All-Star Tournament Teams. Two made the 10 year old team, while Xander was the lone 9 year old.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Catch My Soul Santa Fe Satan

To veer slightly off topic...

Back in college one of the life long friends I made was Tom Mayer. We still e-mail one another on a regular basis and once every year or two get together for a day or a meal and chat. Frequently we trade opinions on books and tv shows or movies. One thing he got me into was the cult series "The Prisoner" and by extension it's leading man Patrick McGoohan.

Tom has been chronicling the process of getting Patrick's lone feature film directorial attempt restored and released on Blu-Ray.

If you are a fan of McGoohan, Richie Havens, or Lace LeGault... 
If you like off beat musicals or William Shakespeare...
If you just like obscure cinema of the 70s...

You might find his three part accounting interesting:

I know after reading it, I very much want to see the film.