Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Out with Old...In with New

Yikes...another year has passed. Figured I'd post my last blog for the year 'cause I'm not sure when I'll get to the next one. Still early in the day on New Year's Eve but I'll probably post at the last minute as I'm waiting for some potential news that might be interesting. If it doesn't come in time, ah well....just catch it next time. New Year's Eve is changing at the Reed household. It used to be a big deal for the kids but now they got friends who are much cooler than parents, of course. Just part of watching grow up but at least they'll always have the memories. But now with the kids outta the way, Jenny and I can start planning accordingly. New Year's Eve is our wedding anniversary and we really didn't do much because we had the kids. I remember one year I surprised Jenny with a show and an overnight at a ritzy hotel but although she enjoyed it, she was still disappointed about missing the evening with the kids. Well, now we won't have that problem. I did a couple of interviews the last couple of days. One is at Jazma Online which is already posted and the second was with Jennifer Contino for The Pulse over at Both are geared around the original graphic novel coming out in January, A MURDER OF SCARECROWS. One frequent question interviewers use is "what's next?". It's a valid question, of course, but sometimes not so easy to answer. I have a couple of collections forthcoming...a third Saint Germaine trade that will include some all new material. A collection of Sinergy, the journey through Hell series I did with different artists drawing each level, and then an all new graphic novel which will combine comic art with text pieces called SUBVERSIVES. (cover by Ken Meyer Jr. to the left). It's a hodge-podge of stories about traitors, spies, renegades, etc. I'm not exactly sure when it will be out but I still have to finish writing some of it but the art is pretty much finished. I think it'll be a fun book and hopefully, it'll do well as I'd like to venture into that territory a bit more. My primary focus for 2009 is to finish the novels I'm immersed in. Novels are a lot of work but I'm finding the more time I spend in them, the more it just sucks you in. I have a feeling that I may continue with novels afterwards, but I can't really determine that until I get these done. As for comics, I have a mystery that I want to do as an original graphic novel and Desperado wants another Deadworld story---whether serialized or as an original graphic novel is yet to be determined. But beyond that, I don't really have much configured for comics or graphic novels. I'm not burned out or anything but there's so much other stuff I want to do. I have the possibility of doing some science books which will likely feature some illustrations and a publisher is talking with me about doing an Evolution book in graphic novel format. That would be good as Evolution is one of the classes that I teach at the community college. I really enjoy that class and hopefully, most of my students enjoy it after they go through the course. I have to tell you, many of the students come into the class with reservations, mostly fueled by mis-information about what Evolution is. I do get offended when someone says "you don't believe in that crap, do you?"...because 1) yes, I do and 2) that is a tremendous lack of respect for what someone else believes in (although technically, one does not "believe" in evolution, just accepts the facts). I mean, if someone says God Bless You to me, should I ask them if they really believe in that crap? A little courtesy sure could go a long way. Except the Middle East, of course, as that will never change until the religious zealots who control the masses over there lose their power. Having a lot of Muslim students at one of the colleges I teach at, I find that a lot of people keep forgetting that it isn't all of Islam that is fanatical, only a very small group...about the same percentage as the wacko fundies here. So, I'm not sure what 2009 will hold as far as my writing goes. The comics market is becoming less and less a factor in my decisions and looking at the convention schedule, I'm now leaning towards skipping just about all of them. I also find myself looking much less at the message boards that deal with comics and usually only hit them once a week and often times, once I hit the first 2-3 of them,(first ones I go to are Comic Related and the Panel and Pixel) I get bored and don't bother with the rest. I used to look at Newsarama but really, how many different stories can they do on superheroes. And if you've been around long enough, it just gets repetitive. The creator names change and I'm sure they're passionate about what they're doing but it really just doesn' t matter because in a few years time, they'll be back at the same point. Maybe not exactly the same but similar enough. For some odd reason, I just have the feeling that for me, this is going to be a big year...maybe just a transition of sorts, but whatever, I just hope I come out of it better than going in and since I'm feeling pretty good about things right now, that would be really something. I hope the best for the New Year for everyone.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Motor City Blues

Well, it sure was interesting about the Senate debate on whether to bail out, er, excuse me, loan the Big 3 auto companies enough money to keep them on their feet for awhile. Even in the Detroit area, it's a big debate and not an automatic "they should do it" as most people might think. Sure, it's understandable about the effect it would have on this area but a lot of people also feel that government shouldn't be involved in running businesses. However, the major point that has most people for the auto loans is the fact that since the government GAVE the financial companies 700 billion dollars, what's 15 more in a loan? Unless you're from the Detroit area, it's hard to realize what a devastating impact this would have on the area. Although other parts of the country are feeling the financial pinch, it's a full blown disaster in Detroit. Detroit is one of the largest cities in the United States...sure, it's a declining population (and amazingly so) but in land area, it may be one of the top. Detroit is 139 square miles. That means you can take the entire land areas of Manhattan, San Francisco, and Boston...and they still wouldn't add up to the physical size of Detroit. I think a lot of people forget about the incredible loss of population in Detroit. In the 1950's, the actual city of Detroit had over 2 million people (for comparison, Manhattan has 1.5 million currently). The population now is under 900,000. That means in the last 4-5 decades, Detroit has LOST 1.2 million people and each day, the population shrinks even more. Over 40% of Detroit land is completely vacant. Detroit is more than a mere ghost town, it may be the first ghost city in U.S. history. Yet, the surrounding areas around Detroit (the immediate suburbs which constitutes the "Metro" area numbers around 4.5 million and still has some of the most affluent areas in the country and most of the region is solidly middle class. But there are signs the entire region, if not the state is starting to crack under the strain of these tough economic times. The Detroit newspapers, Detroit News and Free Press, are no longer going to have home delivery every day. And the papers they put on the newsstands are going to top out at 32 pages. 32 pages? That' s not a newspaper, that's a tabloid. Switching everything to the Internet...but I for one, do not want to read my morning screen, I want the physical newspaper. The University of Michigan in nearby Ann Arbor is one of the great public universities in the country with some putting it at the top. However, the State, in finding ways to cut the budget is now thinking of pulling all revenues to UM and force the University to become a private school. If the auto companies go under, or bankrupt, the State will likely collapse. A lot of the tax revenues depend on the auto companies and the suppliers. Michigan is a surprise to most people who visit as they associate it with Detroit and Ann Arbor. Yes, we also have Lansing, Grand Rapids, Flint, and a few other stand alone cities but the vast majority of Michigan is small town and rural. Once you leave the city areas, Michigan is trees. I've been hearing of the demise of editorial cartoons on some message boards and the beginning rumblings of comic stores joining book stores in suffering lagging sales. It wouldn't take much to push the retail businesses out the door and of course, with the 32 page newspapers, it's highly unlikely that cartoon and comics are going to be a big concern. Borders, headquartered in Ann Arbor, is near collapse and that doesn't bode well for the book market and potential graphic novel market boom that everyone keeps waiting for. Yeah, it sucks here. There's still a lot of good things about the area. I live half way between Detroit and Ann Arbor and both downtowns are about 20-30 minutes away. I have the small town feel in walking distance yet also have the commercial road with every big box store you can think of mere minutes away including a shopping mall of 200 stores. If I drive 5-10 minutes west, I come across horse stables and cows. But the value of my house is sinking like a rock, just as it all over America. We're still not underwater but most of our neighbors would lose money by selling. So, we're staying put for awhile. Luckily, I teach at college so that is a pretty strong position as the community colleges are busting at the seams as people go back for training or new careers. The cost of universities also drives people to community colleges. My wife is a pharmacist so she's pretty secure as everyone always needs their drugs. But I know that my daughters are not looking to stay in Michigan and so I expect that I'll be spending a lot of time travelling in the future. Yet, in the Detroit area, the people are resilient (you have to be) and its still a positive Christmas season. Likely, Detroit will lead the way in donations as they always do and most people are not going to let their holidays suffer but they'll just buy fewer gifts. Last year I mentioned about the pagan rituals that became incorporated into the Christian celebration of Christmas and actually got some nasty emails. I'm not going to repeat myself here but again, ignorance reigns far too often in religion so all I can suggest to people who get offended by such talk, do some research. Getting mad about something doesn't change it. Regardless, I hope that everyone has a great holiday season. Even though I celebrate the season for different reasons than some, I still do in fact enjoy it. Whatever reason...happy holidays.

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Blogger Templates