Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The 10 Best Comics of 2014

It was another great year for comics, not just because Hollywood has seen the light of how good the stories can be, but because sales are up and comic companies are taking more chances with some great independent stuff. Crowdfunding also raised the ante on what's hitting shelves, like Inhumans--picked up by Image Comics after a Kickstarter campaign--and Bee and Puppycat--picked up by Boom! Studios.

It was also a big year for change. Marvel retired Captain America and killed off Wolverine (and Superior Spider-Man, if you want to throw him in), and moved both Daredevil and Punisher to the West Coast. DC ended some major creative team arcs, such as Wonder Woman and Swamp Thing, gave us a bevy of new Gotham titles from Grayson to Gotham Academy to Gotham by Midnight, and began its mind bending Multiversity run by the daddy of all headtrip writers, Grant Morrison. There was so much going on it was exhausting, but in a good way.

Marvel and DC continued to dominate sales, but there were plenty of creator-owned titles that just blew away all expectations this year. I love me some some of both, and so I was hardpressed to limit this post to just ten "best of" titles, which I felt were fresh, exciting, visually astounding, and all around fun. So let's get to it:

Most Pleasant Surprise: COPPERHEAD
by Jay Faerber &  Scott Godlewski
I picked this up, I admit, because I saw Brian K Vaughn's endorsement. I usually don't think twice about endorsements, but perhaps because I don't see Vaughn's endorsement much, I was intrigued. I fell in love after the first issue. Everything about this comic, from the story to the characters to the art is just fantastic. The idea seems simple--a police space western--but it's got some great nuance. You've got a very strong female lead in the form of Sheriff Clara Bronson, a single mom who's transferred to a back world planet to take over the police department (staff of 2) only to find herself involved in a triple murder on her first day. Her co-worker Boo doesn't like her much, but he's smart enough to show respect, and that keeps him from just being some lame "bad cop" trope. The town is very much Tombstone, with both humans and aliens. And then there are the Arties living in the badlands, a race of AI that was exiled after a war who now roam the desert keeping to themselves. It's only 4 issues in but I can't wait to see where it goes.

Best Digital Comic: PRIVATE EYE
by Brian K. Vaughn & Marcos Martin
This one made my list again this year. It continues to amaze with both plot and art, and it's sad to see it wrapping up. It takes place in the future after the Internet has been hacked wide open, allowing everyone to see everyone else's life. All the kink and lies have been exposed, forcing the world's population to go around wearing masks and hiding their true identities out of sheer shame or legal necessity. Which makes solving a murder incredibly hard. It's got everything from laugh-out-loud comedy to teeth-gritting violence, and it feels all too close to what's happening in the world today, with Sony's employees having their dirty laundry aired to all. I imagine it's just a matter of time before we all start keeping our money under our mattresses and selecting every word we speak out loud--let alone in an email--very carefully.

Best Horror Comic: NAILBITER
by Joshua Williamson & Mike Henderson
This comic about a serial killer who chews his victims' nails before he kills them is a well-written, gory and mysterious tale that goes above and beyond your typical cop-chases-killer trope. In Nailbiter, the eponymous serial killer was already caught but got off on a technicality and now lives a quiet life in the same town he terrorized. When a new series of murders shock the town, he is of course the suspect, but that would be too easy, and the sheriff knows this. To make matters worse, this latest bout of serial murders marks the 16th time in the town's history that a new serial killer has emerged. Say what?! So the real mystery is...why does this town keep breeding psychopaths? This one begs to become a TV series.

Best Independent Comic: SAGA
by Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples
Is there anything I can say about Saga that hasn't already been said on other comic sites? It's Romeo & Juliet in space, with aliens, and Robots with TV heads, and cute little babies, and cats that can tell when you're lying, and bounty hunters having sex with giant spiders, and trees that fly, and eviscerated ghosts that you hire to watch your children.... it's out there in ways that you have to experience. It's also equal parts funny, disgusting, and heart warming. At the center of it all is a relationship story about two people, Marco and Alana, who love each other even though their races are mortal enemies and are literally engaged in war. They're being hunted by mercenaries from both sides, and must constantly stay on the move lest they be arrested or killed. It's all told from the point of view of the couple's baby, Hazel, which makes it that much more endearing. Vaughn's writing is amazing, and Staples' art is absolutely perfect for this type of comic. Saga is easily the most popular independent title right now, which rounded out the year on a down note--seeing our couple split up (distance-wise anyway), so readers are eager to see how they find each other again.

Best Adventure Comic: MERCENARY SEA

by Kel Symons & Mathew Reynolds
There is no comic on the shelves like Mercenary Sea, a tale about an international group of submarine treasure hunters during 1938 looking for the lost island of Koji Ra. It's as if someone took Indiana Jones, the A-Team, The Expendables, bits of the Hunt For Red October and the Thin Red Line and threw it all in a blender. It's pre-WWII, but Japan has invaded China and tensions are high in Europe. War is imminent, and skulking around in a retrofitted German U-Boat with a crew comprised of Germans, Frenchmen, Chinese, and even a dog, certainly draws the attention of the Japanese military. There is so much to like about this comic it's hard to know where to begin. But I guess to start--the art. It's awesome. It pops, it's got depth, and I never have to question what I'm seeing. Sure, it's digital, but it works better than just about every other digital comic on the market. At times there is such a sense of scope to it I feel like I'm reading it in IMAX. Second--the characters. From our badboy American leader Jack, to the German navigator, French chef, British doctor, Chinese gunner, and American female mechanic (echoes of Firefly, anyone?). But perhaps the best part about this comic is that it's played straight. It could very easily have become just another Johnny Quest knock off, but it's got plausibility written all over it. It's a slow burn, but it's so worth it.

Best Sci fi Comic: LETTER 44
by Charles Soule & Alberto Alburquerque
Letter 44 follows mankind's first interaction with something potentially alien, focusing on both the crew in space attempting to make contact, and the government back on Earth trying to figure out how to deal with the situation. The letter itself is the letter that the former 44th President of the United States leaves to newly elected 45th President Stephen Blades, who takes office as the comic begins. It informs him that a strange object was discovered hovering silently out past Mars, and it looks menacing. The letter goes on to explain that a team of Americans have been sent up on a possible suicide mission to find out what it is and report back to Earth. Now President Blades has a choice to make--keep it all secret and claim any new "space tech" for America like his substandard, questionable predecessor had planned, or be the stand-up, transparent leader he based his candidacy on and inform the people. And just how do you do that without creating panic and pandemonium? It's easier said than done. Another slow burn, Letter 44 ended the year with our crew of space scientists in some serious trouble...but without confirming whether the "aliens" are good or bad at this point. This one was picked up for TV, and hopefully makes it to series, because it's a great take on how we, as both a nation and a species, would actually deal with an intelligent threat in our galaxy.

by Nick Spencer & Steve Lieber
This comic, right? Take a group of D-list villains, put 'em in a room together, have them plan a heist, then let the backstabbing begin. And at no point let them interact with Spider-Man. In fact, don't even put Spider-Man in the comic...at all! (But how else would they have gotten people to buy it?)  I laughed during every single issue, and it almost makes me cry that the comic published its final issue last month. Apparently sales were too low to continue it, which is probably just as well, because this was the type of gem that works best being short and sweet. As it was, the 18-issue run was just perfect, allowing for a well told story, heaps of laughs, and just the right amount of running gags. It was hands down brilliant. Be sure to grab it in trade and follow Boomerang as he creates a new Secret Six (even though there's only five of them, a point which does not go unmentioned) comprised of Shocker, Speed Demon, Overdrive, and Beetle. Their mission...steal a priceless painting which reveals Dr. Doom's real face. Their method...shenanigans shenanigans shenanigans.

Best Licensed Comic: X-FILES SEASON 10
by Chris Carter/Joe Harris & Michael Walsh
The Topps run of X-Files comics were pretty good, but these...these ARE the X-Files stories the way they were meant to be done. Produced and storied by X-Files creator himself, Chris Carter, Season 10 picks up after the last film and sees Mulder and Scully rejoining the FBI to take on some cases that need solving. It's how we all wished that last film had gone, and wastes no time getting right back into the vibe of the show when it was in its prime, around seasons 3 and 4. Much like Mulder's sister was in the TV show, the duo's love child is now a running subplot, but it's stuffed far enough in the background that it allows for a larger focus on aliens and monsters-of-the-week. Alongside Spooky and Dana are old favorites including Skinner, Cigarette Smoking Man, The Lone Gunmen, Doggit, and even Krychek. Walsh nails the art, getting Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny's expressions down perfect, and the dialogue is spot on with the show. Considering we probably won't get any more live action reunions, this is an apt alternative that will make you feel at home again with creepy conspiracies, evil forces, and things that go bump in the night.

Best Mini Series: STARLIGHT
by Mark Millar & Goran Parlov
Mark Millar proved he's not just about Kicking Ass and bending bullets in this rather heartwarming 6-issue run about an aging American hero who once saved an entire distant planet from genocide. Problem is no one believes him, not his children, not his children's children. They all think Grandpa is a little nutty, and would just as soon not swing by for dinner and listen to his whackadoo stories. It's made all the more sad by the fact he is widowed and pines for his ex wife, the one person who may have ever believed him. It's a lonely existence, and this is how we're introduced to Duke McQueen, as he sits alone on Thanksgiving, a full table set for his family that has abandoned him. But the populace of that distant planet never abandoned him, and they need his help again. There's a new threat, and it's worse than before. So what if he's in his 60s now, he's got nothing else to live for. And so once again he's off to save the day, a la Flash Gordon, only with arthritis. I think the whole comic industry was stunned with how good this one was, and it's making a lot of "best of" lists. It's quick, it's action-packed, and it tugs at the heartstrings. Go Duke!

Best Comic of the Year: BATMAN
by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
Once again Batman dominated this year. While much of it centered on the conclusion of the Zero Year arc, the final issues of 2014 reintroduced the Joker like we've never seen him. In Zero Year, The Riddler took over Gotham and put Batman to the ultimate test of wits and strength. If you ever thought Riddler was a throwaway villain, this will change your mind. He's merciless and angry in Zero Year, and most importantly, he's smart. Synder writes his villains as if they're real, which is why this comic has been so consistently good. The Riddler is not idly throwing around puzzles because he loves bad schtick. No, if he's giving you a puzzle to solve, it's because he wants to see hope in your eyes before he kills you. He knows you won't solve his puzzle, but the fact that you know he genuinely would set you free if you could is what makes it all so dark. After Zero Year concluded Snyder began work on Endgame, which brings back the Joker for the 3rd part of his Joker-themed trilogy. And hey, look, he has a face again! Synder already proved that the Joker is the boogey man hiding under your bed in the Death of the Family arc, and he is driving that point home with Endgame. The Joker has never been scarier, and he's made it clear to Batman that all those years of toying with him are over. This time, people are going to die. What makes Snyder's Batman so great is that there is some genuine detective work going on in between the fight scenes, coupled with nice character development--it's not often we see Bruce genuinely afraid of not being able to save the day. In that sense, we also see how Batman keeps a step ahead of, well, everyone. If you've ever wondered why Batman heads up the Justice League, a team made up of demigods and super-powered magicians, Synder's Batman leaves no doubts as to his capabilities. And Capullo was just born to draw Batman. Hands down Capullo's versions of Bats, Riddler, Joker and Gordon et al, are the best in the last 50 years. Every panel is so lush with eye candy you can stare at this book for hours. It really doesn't matter what crazy scene Synder asks Capullo to draw--Batman riding a flaming horse up castle steps for example--it turns out looking AMAZING! I could read Snyder and Capullo's Batman forever. It's stunningly beautiful, well thought out, heavily focused on character, and pulls no punches. And that's why it is 2014's Best Comic of the Year!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


A regular in the San Diego music scene and now a first time novelist, Ben Johnson has taken the magic and spiritualism of "America's Finest City" and woven it into a three-part epic of Urban Fantasy goodness--The Blackwing Chronicles-- that has readers eagerly awaiting the next installment of the series. I grabbed a moment with Ben in between his gigs and writing sessions to ask how he makes it all happen. And some other very important questions.

RCT: Where did the idea for A Shadow Cast in Dust come from?

BJ: The idea came from exploring the canyons in my neighborhood of Golden Hill in San Diego with my dog Rooners. I'd lived in this area for years and never really checked them out. When I did, I was amazed at how extensively one could travel and hardly come up into neighborhoods at all, and at how few people ever walk them. The story and characters kind of followed the lead of the landscape, my life, and my imagination. 
RCT: Why was it important to set it in your home town?

BJ: If the general populace thinks of San Diego, it's beach and surfing and summer forever. I love those things about this part of the world, but they're only a small fraction of what the area has to offer. I wanted to show a different side of San Diego. Dark streets and dusty canyons.

RCT: Would you rather have a dog that speaks pig Latin or a pig that speaks so eloquently it makes you cry...except it bites every fifth person it sees?

BJ: I like puzzles and dislike lawsuits, so I've gotta go with the dog. Ogday, that is.

RCT: Describe your process of writing? What's you're environment like? Do you wait for inspiration or force the creative juices to flow?

BJ: Usually I walk the dog in golden hill park for an hour, then bust it out. I force it. Now that our daughter's been born, I get it in wherever and whenever I can.

RCT: Would you rather wear a lettuce hat or a potato hat?

BJ: Lettuce hat, as it would hold up better under the elements. I think. Could be wrong and boy would I look stupid then.

RCT:  If you could hang out with a character from your book, who would it be? Why?

BJ: Max or Helen. Very low-key. It would be great to hang out in the park with them. Stewart and I would hate each other because we're too alike!

RCT:  Finish this sentence: the important thing to remember about a frog with a sword is...

BJ: You'll wake up and be you, and he'll still just be a frog with a sword. 
RCT:  What do you love about urban fantasies and similar genres?

BJ:  The greatest thing about the genre, for me, is the endless possibilities, and ways to manipulate reality.

RCT:  Who is your preferred pen pal, zombie JFK or demon FDR?

BJ: Demon FDR, of course. Much better penmanship. 
RCT:  Can you give us some snippets of what to expect in the next book in the series?

BJ: The next book in the series, Blood Silver, takes the action and intrigue further. Who controls the web, and who does the web control? It turns out the warehouses were small potatoes compared to those who are coming for our heroes now! Musical instruments that control all those with tainted blood, an undead creature searching for snares, and a young thief are introduced. And as before, magic, murder, and mayhem!!
RCT: Bonus Question... You're a new dad! How does it feel?!

BJ: IT IS AMAZING!! Hazel is healthy and hearty and we are loving life!

Pick up a copy of A SHADOW CAST IN DUST here: Amazon.com/Shadow 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Comics, My Son, and Being Good

In 7 weeks my son will be born. My first child. To say I’m terrified is an understatement. Both my wife and I have been discussing how we’re going to raise him, and by and large the one thing we agree on is teaching him not to discriminate against people. It still shocks me how often I hear rants against gays, minorities, disabled people, and even women. To say nothing of the daily posts on Facebook and twitter attacking people’s religious beliefs or lack thereof. My wife and I are usually the first to say, “Oh, you’re an Islamic, Mexican lesbian? More power to you! Doesn’t affect us in any way.”

But how will my son learn, on his own, the difference between being tolerant and being hateful. Because let’s face it, once he heads off to school, he’s going to get a steady dose of Stupid from a lot of other children and adults. Where can he learn what’s right when I’m not around?

For me, it’s always been comics. Yes, comics.  I can practically see most of you out there rolling your eyes now. “Ugh,” you say, “you’re going to turn him into a nerd!”

“No,” I reply, “I’m going to teach him how to be a good person.” 

When I tell people I like comics, I always see their eyes glaze over. They think I’m a geek or a boy who never grew up. I sort of get the same reaction when I tell them I write horror novels, (even though my horror is actually thinly veiled superhero stories. Just read The Summer I Died and Born to Bleed back to back to see what I mean.) They think I read things with POW and BAM written in bold letters across the pages, with men in tights and capes flying in the clouds. Okay, yeah, some of them are like that, but at their core comics are tales of morality, not unlike Bible stories or Aesop’s Fables.  And it should be noted that today’s comics are no different than the TV shows we watch or the movies we go to see. In fact, many of them are written by the people who make those movies. Take Joss Whedon, director of the billion-dollar-grossing film The Avengers. Whedon not only created TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, he also writes comic books. His 50 issue arc for Astonishing X-Men is quite possibly the best X-men comic arc ever written. My point being that comics are written as much for adults these days as they are for kids. They have meat and meaning. (Admittedly, some of them are getting a bit too adult. I definitely won’t let my son read any Batman comics produced in the main DC Comics line until he’s at least 12. The themes are not for kids.  Batman’s 10 year old son was just murdered last year. The previous Robin, Jason Todd, was beaten to death by a crowbar wielded by the Joker. The Joker shot Barbara Gordon in the back, stripped her naked and took photos of her which he then sent to her father, Jim Gordon. All in glorious color on the pages).

Yes, in the 1940s and 1950s, and probably up to the late 1970s, comic books were pretty goofy and superficial, full of stuttering thought bubbles and two-dimensional villains who wanted nothing more than to take over the world. But what was important about them, then as now, is that they taught morals. There is a simple elegance to the fact that heroes like Batman and Superman don’t kill, even though they really should (how many people would still be alive if Batman would just shoot the Joker in the face?) But they don’t and that’s the core of what defines them as heroes, what separates them from the likes of Lex Luthor and The Riddler. They do good, no matter what, and they often suffer as a result. But even when they lose they lose knowing they did the right thing.

For me growing up, I don’t think I knew why I liked them so much, besides liking the action. I didn't realize I was being inundated with the virtues of sacrifice, good manners and gratitude. I just remember watching the 1970s Spider-Man movies on Saturday mornings and wanting to be Spidey. Because Spidey was always doing karate and kickboxing moves, and little boys are drawn to martial arts. Sorry, it’s just in our genes. More importantly, whether it was The Justice League Unlimited or Young Avengers, I liked that they fought violence and hatred on grand scales, against insurmountable odds. In the comic books, I watched as they fought it on smaller, yet equally important scales. I watched as Superman took the time, even as he was dying, to stop beside a depressed teenage girl on a building ledge and tell her not to jump, that everyone has bad times, but they go away.

I watched her believe him.

I watched as Harper Row’s brother was beaten for being gay, how the attackers shaved the word "Fag" in the back of his head, and how Harper then cut off her hair and shaved the same word in her head to support him. I watched as Daredevil, beaten and near death, made his way through a blizzard to retrieve a heart from an overturned ambulance so a little girl could get her transplant before she died. I watched as Aquaman saved a dog in need, took it home and nursed it back to health. I watched  as Hawkeye fought slumlords to ensure the tenants in an apartment building were treated fairly. My point is, these comics are not just POW BAM ZAP and laser beams shooting from eyes, they’re deeper than that. They teach us that a hero is not just a guy who can punch hard, but a guy who can stop and feed a homeless man, who can open the door for a girl, who can say please and thank you to the woman behind the cash register. There are thousands upon thousands of these types of moments in comics, and they’re important. I want my son to witness these things and associate them with the people who make a difference.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll teach him this stuff too. He’s going to look up to me, but not the way little boys look up to superheroes in the pages of comics. Superheroes are larger than life for kids, and when little boys hear Batman say, “If you hurt people, you're just a criminal yourself," it registers in his brain from a spot I can’t reach. He won’t want to be me, because as much as we love and respect our parents, it’s in our DNA to carve or own niche. But that’s fine, because every little boy wants to be Batman and Superman. And if he grows up wanting to be everything those characters are made of, I think he’ll grow up right.

And so to start, my wife and I bought him some children's books from Marvel. He'll get more comics as he's older, and I hope he likes them, and more importantly, I hope those morality lessons hidden between the POWs and BAMs get to him. If they don't, well, I'll find other ways. Because that's how it's done, right? Just keep trying to do the right thing.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fix This Connection is Untrusted After Browser Reset

Yes, this is an author blog, but I also love computers, and I love fixing them. So I hope you've found this post because you're tired of all the other posts telling you to fix your clock or date and time if you get an error message saying "This Connection is Untrusted" after you've reset your browser. But guess what, it's most likely not the stupid clock that's wrong. It's your flash plugin. After you reset your firefox back to square one, it lost all the previous flash updates you'd added to it. I had this problem for a whole day before I realized how to fix it. And it's simple. Just update your Adobe Flash.

You should be able to get to your flash files from the lower right of your computer, near the clock (Sorry, Mac users, I'm on a PC). If they're not there, and you can't figure out where your flash files are, just turn your computer off and on. A box should pop up once you restart telling you to update your flash files. Click Update and everything should be good to go after that.

Hope this helps. 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best of 2013 BS

Insert obligatory opening paragraph here about a ton of shit that happened in the news that I don't care about. Miley Cyrus, blah blah twerking, blah blah obamacare, blah blah duck dynasty, blah blah Prince George, blah blah eggs are bad for you again.....let's just move on to the list, shall we?

 Best Books I read in 2013.

1. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. Can't believe it took me so long to finally get to this. Probably the "prettiest" book I've ever read about a group of murderers scalping, raping, knifing, and mutilating native Americans in the old west. It does tend to drag on at parts, and you'll want a nickel for every time McCarthy writes "And so they rode on." But when you close the book you'll feel like you just left the most depraved, dark, horrific journey of your life. People might say Randall Flag is the worst bad guy in horror fiction, but trust me, The Judge would take him to town.

2. Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch. What to say about this one but it's an adult version of Harry Potter. And it's good. Very good. You know, detective fiction with wizards and warlocks that takes place in present day London. No pointy hats or robes with stars on them, just cops who can start fires by snapping their fingers and ghosts who hover around the alleys they died in.  There are more books in the series and I will be reading them.

3. Devil Red by Joe Lansdale. While not the best in the Hap and Leonard series, pretty much anything in that series is fun reading.

(disclosure: I read a lot of great books from the GMP authors but I don't want to play favorites. Just go and grab something from that group...they're all great: www.grandmalpress.com).

Best Movies I saw:

1. Man of Steel. Love it or hate it, it certainly had a lot of explosions...and that equals good eye candy! While I disliked the controversial ending, you can't fault a studio for getting people talking about a superhero. Henry Cavil is a great Superman, Russel Crowe is a great Jor El, and Michael Shannon was a superb Zodd. Perhaps the standout performance was Antje Taue as Faora Ul...I do not want to meet her in a dark alley. And c'mon, a Superman movie that actually gave us Krypton!

2. This is the End. The wife and I went to this without knowing much about it and we laughed ourselves silly. It's a frat boy horror/comedy, but it works. Best moment: Jonah Hill channeling Linda Blair as he mocks Jay Baruschel. "Oh does it, Jay? Does the power of Christ compel me? Because it's not very compelling."

3. Mama. A genuinely creepy horror film about ghosts and evil spirits. It has some awesome performances by the young girls--I usually hate children actors, but these two were top notch. It gets a bit Tim Burtony at the end, but it doesn't matter, since the lead up will give you goosebumps.

Best Comics I read.

1. Daredevil by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee. After almost two decades of dark brooding Matt Murdock swinging through rain and shadows and getting his ass kicked, Waid and Samnee made Daredevil the single most fun comic book on stands this past year. It's not without it's morals and weighty moments (currently, Daredevil's best friend is battling cancer) but every issue contains at least two big laughs and some of the best self deprecating moments in comics.

2. Quantum and Woody by James Asmus and Tom Fowler. Another consistently funny qausi-superhero book from Valiant. It's a wee complicated to explain, but let's try. Two brothers (one white and one black, and for once it's the white kid who was adopted) are all grown up and pretty much can't stand each other. One's a hard worker, the other a con artist. They try to solve their father's murder, and in doing so stumble onto their dad's secret government project, a machine which accidentally gives them superpowers when they turn it on. The catch is that the machine also continually breaks down their molecules every 24 hours, and unless they touch two bracelets together they each wear, they'll die. So they're stuck together, bickering and solving crime. This is very much like the show Psych, only with real powers instead of fake ones. Oh, and they have a Satanic Goat of Death. Long story.

3. Hawkeye (specifically issue 11). Hawkeye remains a great comic, although it's been getting a little more serious lately. Issue 11, however, was probably the best single issue of last year. Completely told from the POV of Hawkeye's dog (aka Pizza Dog), Matt Fraction and David Aja turned in one of the most unique pieces of narrative in comic history. From the walking map of Pizza Dog's rambling, to the way he associates with items in Hawkeyes apartment, to the way he puts together the crime by sniffing around, you'll feel like a dog yourself at the end, but you'll be totally happy about it.

Best personal moment of 2013.

1. Marrying my wife Tera.
2. Finding out 3 months later she was pregnant.
3.Closing on our first house.

 Best Travel experience.
1. Alaska. I got to gig here for two nights in February with the band. It was cold, but it was great to see a bit of land I figured I would never in my life get to see. I do miss those Cash'd Out boys.

2. Catalina. We went here for our honeymoon and did some snorkeling. I got full on attacked by a fish with some damn sharp teeth which had me gushing blood in the water. But the moments when the snorkel guide had us completely engulfed in fish were pretty amazing.

I'm calling it here. Because I have real work to get to now. Okie dokie. Until later.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bill Moseley to star in The Summer I Died film




LOS ANGELES, CA (11/18/13) – Riothouse Entertainment has closed a deal to acquire the film rights to the critically acclaimed novel “The Summer I Died” by Ryan C. Thomas with legendary actor Bill Moseley set to star in a leading role.

Visceral, intense and graphic “The Summer I Died” tells the story of Roger and Tooth: two lifelong friends who, while out on a day trip into the woods, find themselves at the mercy of a sadistic madman and his bloodthirsty dog when attempting to rescue a woman screaming for help. 

Bill Moseley has signed on to play the demented killer only referred to as “Skinny Man” by the characters.

Eric Pereira, whose brutal true crime thriller “American Girls” is currently playing the festival circuit has signed on to direct from a screenplay by the book’s author Ryan. C. Thomas.  Matthew Easton and David Lukanare producing.

The book, which has gained notoriety over the years as being one of the most violent and disturbing  novels ever written, has found itself on numerous top 10 lists and has since amassed a significant cult following. The sequel “Born to Bleed” was released in 2011 with the third book in the trilogy being released this summer.

Further casting for the roles of Roger, Tooth and Jaime will begin in December with cameras to roll late February in New Hampshire and Los Angeles.  The film is set for a late 2014 premiere.

If you would like more information about this topic or to schedule an interview with Eric Pereira and Ryan C. Thomas email carrie@riothouseentertainment.com

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Robert Essig is tearing up the horror scene lately with a couple of novels--Through the In Between, Hell Awaits and People of the Ethereal Realm--that are knocking it out of the park. In a world still so full of zombies and teenage vampires crying over their boyfriends, his works are fresh and original, with a focus on the really scary stuff...you know, like Hell and demons. Essig has a bunch of shorts out there as well, and is pouring his evil imagination into more works soon-to-come. He was gracious enough to let me dig into his brain, so without further ado...
RT: Where did you come up with the plot for Through the In Between, Hell Awaits?
RE: The idea sprouted from a lyric in a Pantera song: whoring angel rising. I envisioned a burnt-out heavy metal groupie that feasts on the scumdogs and addicts who loiter around underground rock ‘n’ roll shows. I began writing that story and soon realized that Dagana, my protagonist at the time, was completely unlikable and vicious and would work far better as an antagonist. I took the story in a different direction and didn’t look back, writing it from beginning to end without checking the word count or taking notes. I’ll never do that again. Having no notes caused the revision process to be quite a pain in the ass.
RT: Better on pancakes, ketchup or horseradish?
RE: Wasabi! Good way to wake your ass up first thing in the morning.
RT: What attracts you to the idea of demons and hell?
RE: Back in high school I was the guy drawing skulls and devils all over my desks and homework and I was told quite a few times that I was going to Hell. I would always reply, “At least Ozzy’s gonna be there.” The idea of Hell and purgatory became a fascination for me early on. I wasn’t raised in religion whatsoever, so the idea of heaven, to me, is as preposterous, just not as interesting. I remember when Jeffery Dahmer was killed in prison. It was said that he had become a born-again Christian and was going to heaven despite all the people he’d murdered and cannibalized. Really? If Dahmer’s running around in Heaven, then what kind of mad-bastards are holed up in Hell?
RT: How do you approach your dialogue writing?
RE: I make every effort to write dialogue that feels natural. I like to read it aloud to make sure a conversation is plausible. I never think in terms of how dialogue sounds on television or in the movies, unless it’s a Tarantino flick. His dialogue is usually great. Years a go I studied the Pulp Fiction script because I was so enamored by the dialogue in that film. I had to see how it looked on paper because it sure as hell sounded great on screen. I pay close attention to everyone I meet and always have, listening for what makes peoples’ voices distinct. If what I’m writing sounds like an episode of CSI then I’d better try again.
RT: Would you go to a zoo where all the animals were dressed as clowns? Why?
RE: Are you kidding me? Of course I would! The monkeys are natural born comedians, so that would work on a number of levels. And let’s not forget the giraffes--they have built-in stilts! But seriously, no, I’ve never felt the urge to visit Washington DC.
RT: Who are some of your biggest literary influences and who are you reading now?
RE: My biggest influences are Bradbury, Poe, King, Matheson, Bloch, and Barker, to name a few. I’ve been reading a lot of small press books recently by authors such as Shane McKenzie, Lisa Morton, Craig Saunders, David A Riley, and Michael S Gardner. I always read classics between new stuff and have been enjoying Robert W Chambers, Lester Del Ray, and Ambrose Bierce quite a lot.
RT: Shrubbery: overrated or necessary?
RE: Shrubbery is great to keep my neighbors’ greasy hands off my lemon tree. Bastards!
RT: What advice do you have for people working on their first novel now?
RE: Be sure to have someone beta read it. Try and read it aloud, and certainly read the dialogue aloud. Set it down for a month and write something else before you do your final read-through before submitting to a publisher. You may be surprised at what you didn’t see while revising.
RT: Who would you rather have do a music album about Through the In Between, The Wiggles or a zombie Frank Sinatra?
RE: Zombie Frank Sinatra, hands down.  He could choke out a version of “The Lady is a Tramp” that would fit Dagana nicely. Maybe The Wiggles could do back-up on a song about the finer points of murder, mutilation, and Hell.
RT: What books are you working on now?

RE: My second novel, People of the Ethereal Realm, was released in July from Post Mortem Press. I like to refer to that book as an unconventional ghost story. I have written a number of novellas that run the gamut of extreme horror to gothic monsters and hope to hear some good news from interested publishers. 

RT: Thanks! Be sure to check out Robert's web page for more info: http://robertessig.blogspot.com/

Pick up Through the In Between, Hell Awaits in ebook, paperback, and audiobook from Grand Mal Press: http://grandmalpress.com/inbetween.php  

Pick up People of the Ethereal Realm in Paperback and ebook: http://www.postmortem-press.com/