Saturday, December 6, 2014

Closing the Book on 'The Black Tower'


It was a hard decision but after 2 ? years online, during which I'd established a worldwide fan base of over 50,000 readers, I've decided to shut down the website for The Black Tower webcomic series. It's not a permanent thing. I've kept the domain name ( www.theblacktowercomics.com ) and fully intend to relaunch someday, probably with a few altered illustrations and a line or two of dialogue. But I just felt that the time had come to abandon one creative venture that wasn't really working out for me, financially speaking, and get cracking on developing some other ideas that have been kicking around in my head for quite a while.

I'm very proud of the hard work that I, my co-writer, Jeff Mariotte, and illustrator/colorist, Donald Jackson, put into this project, which has been a labour of love for me since I started working on the project back in 1996. First conceived as a series of adult novels, it later evolved into a TV series concept before I finally settled on the format that my writing skills seem best suited for: a webcomic/graphic novel series.

Throughout every phase of The Black Tower's metamorphosis I had dozens of supporters who eagerly anticipated the project's debut, whether it was in bookstores, on TV or the Internet. Most surprising to me was receiving emails from some pretty big names in the entertainment industry. Folks who write for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Smallville, Supernatural, Lost, Heroes, Star Trek, Stargate, Battlestar Galactica, The Collector, Blood Ties...all of them asking to write scripts for The Black Tower, should I ever manage to sell the TV rights.

Also surprising to me was getting emails from some equally impressive names in the comics industry asking to contribute to the webcomic/graphic novel series. That's how Jeff Mariotte came on board the project – and I am profoundly grateful for his guidance and friendship as I stumbled my way into an unexpected career as a graphic novelist.

A few months after The Black Tower's successful debut as a webcomic back in August 2008, David Wohl, Editor in Chief at Radical Publishing, contacted me to say that he enjoyed the premier issue and although they could not, at that time, publish TBT in book form, he liked my writing style so much he wanted me to submit five or six comic book pitches for future development by Radical Comics (and, subsequently, their feature film division).

Well, you could've knocked me over with a feather.

An opportunity like this is literally once in a million...and I'm squandering it. So consumed have I been over the past two years with trying to secure financing for a second issue of The Black Tower, via corporate sponsorship/advertising, that I've neglected every other opportunity that's come my way, both in the comics and TV industry.

Well, not anymore.

David Wohl has been incredibly patient with me over the past year or so. But now the time has come to temporarily set aside my aspirations for The Black Tower and deliver those pitches I promised Radical before they finally get fed up with me and move on. I also have a few TV series ideas (supernatural dramas and reality/lifestyle series) I'd like to develop for network television.

Once I've reestablished myself in the comics industry, and amassed an even larger fan base through the publication of new books under the Radical banner, I'll hopefully have the money I need to continue self-publication of The Black Tower webcomic series. In the meantime, I intend to turn the premier issue of TBT into a .PDF file for fans who wish to receive a copy via email.

Hugs and blessings to the thousands of you, from Japan to Chile and everywhere in between, who have supported my efforts to turn The Black Tower into an outrageously successful transmedia project dedicated to social, environmental and animal welfare causes. Although I fell far short of that mark – mostly because I launched the project at the beginning of the economic crash of 2008 and couldn’t secure the advertising dollars I needed to stay afloat – the fan mail, and support from my industry peers, keeps coming. That means a lot to me and I thank you all very much!

The 'Honesty" Meme


1. What was the last thing you put in your mouth?
Coffee (still drinking it).

2. Where was your profile picture taken?
In my living room.

3. Can you play Guitar Hero?
No. I have no interest in that stuff.

4. Name someone who made you laugh today?
My darling feline children, Aries & Gillian.

5. How late did you stay up last night and why?
It was about 4:30 a.m., my usual bedtime.

6. If you could move somewhere else, would you?
I’m in the process of doing that right now.

7. Ever been kissed under fireworks?
I haven’t attended a fireworks celebration since about 1989, so I can’t say for sure.

8. Do you believe ex's can be friends?
I’ve only had one serious boyfriend and one husband, neither of whom I’m still speaking to. So, based on personal experience, I’d have to say no.

9. How do you feel about Dr Pepper?
I’ve never really cared for it.

10. When was the last time you cried really hard?
I cried when I lost my bunny, Gemini, to a deadly illness. I cried when my cat, Tia, got lost/ran away. But I think the last time I cried so hard I was down on my knees sobbing in agony was when I learned that an actor friend I was about to become romantically involved with back in 2005, shot himself in the head while on the run from police after shooting a stalker fan/ex-girlfriend in the face, blinding the mother of three and disfiguring her forever. Rest in Peace, Mal.

11. Who took your profile picture?
I took it.

12. Was yesterday better than today?
About the same.

13. Can you live a day without TV?
HELL NO!

14. Are you upset about anything?
Trying to renovate my apartment while preparing for a move to Toronto has made me very anxious and a little upset because things keep going wrong.

15. Do you think relationships are ever really worth it?
No, no. no. I wish to remain gloriously single for the rest of my life.

16. What items could you not go without during the day?
Computer, TV and iPhone. You just try to take these away from me and I’ll stab you in the eye with a pencil.

17. What does the last text message in your inbox say?
A message from my employer. It reads simply “k”, which is short for OK.

18. How do you feel about your life right now?
After years of struggling to make a decent living in Ottawa, I think the move to Toronto next month is going to change my life for the better.

19. Do you hate anyone?
I hate a lot of people. Do you want a list?

20. Say you were given a drug test right now, would you pass?
Yes. I don’t touch that crap.

21. Has anyone ever called you perfect before?
Not out loud – but I know they’re thinking it.

22. Someone knocks on your window at 2:00 a.m., who do you want it to be?
Ed McMahon telling me that I’ve just won $10,000,000. But he’s dead, right? Just my luck...

23. Name something you have to do tomorrow:
Clean and renovate my apartment for the new tenant.

24. Do you think too much or too little?
Way too much.

25. Do you smile a lot?
While in conversation with people, yes. When I’m alone, no. It gives me a migraine.

My Name in Lights on Broadway


My famous comic book artist friend (and The Black Tower cover artist), Jason Badower, did yet another Heroes online graphic novel, which was published to the Internet last Tuesday (click HERE). Jason tries very hard to put out his absolute best work on these webcomics -- even when he's sick as a dog -- and this issue was no exception. The poor boy was practically on Death's door while toiling away at his computer, trying to have it done on NBC's deadline.

As an added bonus, Jason managed to slip in several shout-outs in this issue, which are like semi-secret "Hey, wassup? Love you!" messages to family, friends and fans. What a thrill it was to see my name in one of the pages.




Did you spot me?
I'll give you a hint: right-hand side.

Jason's been a long-time supporter of The Black Tower, so I fully intend to return the shout-out to him in the next issue of my webcomic. When that will be, exactly, I don't know. Hopefully around October/November, but with the economy the way it is, I may not have the sponsorship money to put out Issue #2 until early 2010. Sorry, gang. I know you're all anxious to read the next issue, if the hundreds of fan emails I get are any indication, and I sincerely appreciate your patience and your support!

My Name in Lights on Broadway


My famous comic book artist friend (and The Black Tower cover artist), Jason Badower, did yet another Heroes online graphic novel, which was published to the Internet last Tuesday (click HERE). Jason tries very hard to put out his absolute best work on these webcomics -- even when he's sick as a dog -- and this issue was no exception. The poor boy was practically on Death's door while toiling away at his computer, trying to have it done on NBC's deadline.

As an added bonus, Jason managed to slip in several shout-outs in this issue, which are like semi-secret "Hey, wassup? Love you!" messages to family, friends and fans. What a thrill it was to see my name in one of the pages.




Did you spot me?
I'll give you a hint: right-hand side.

Jason's been a long-time supporter of The Black Tower, so I fully intend to return the shout-out to him in the next issue of my webcomic. When that will be, exactly, I don't know. Hopefully around October/November, but with the economy the way it is, I may not have the sponsorship money to put out Issue #2 until early 2010. Sorry, gang. I know you're all anxious to read the next issue, if the hundreds of fan emails I get are any indication, and I sincerely appreciate your patience and your support!

Nudity in Comic Books


My friend and The Black Tower collaborator, Jason Badower, made some very interesting observations in a recent blog post about nudity in comics. Specifically, controversy over the depiction of naked women.

There's nothing that irks me more than the ridiculously unrealistic portrayal of women in comics, with those large, gravity-defying, perfectly round orbs, and barbie doll thin waists. I don't come at this from a feminist stand-point. I'm thinking like an artist who strongly feels that works of art should have at least some grounding in reality. Otherwise, I can't relate to it. I can't relate to the character as a human being. It just becomes a fleshy, humanoid-looking...thing. An object.

When I was drawing/colouring the last pages of the first issue of The Black Tower, I got really nervous about how those hotel room scenes might go down -- both with die-hard comics fans and the general public at large. I was expecting a huge backlash, scorn-filled emails from people who didn't want to see that kind of "filthy porn" in a webcomic that was other-wise very family friendly. Well, I'm very relieved to report that, out of the 12,000 + people who've read the premier issue, I got a total of 3 scathing emails, and 5 more from folks who said they were unprepared to see that kind of thing (drugs use and naked prostitutes) but nonetheless found the issue very entertaining. They'll continue reading future issues, so long as I put some sort of parental warning up on the website, so they can check it out before letting their kids see it. I did just that, and there have been no complaints since.

I'm very proud of my work, and especially proud of the realism I showed in all my depictions of various women found in The Black Tower webcomic.

Bad First Dates


I don't get out much, anymore. Too busy with work to bother trying to forge serious romantic relationships with men (Yeah, yeah, poor me. Whatever!). I do get together with some of my guy friends now and then, for dinner & drinks...maybe a show. No big deal.

Anyway, I was thinking earlier today, about my younger days, back when I was a night club dancer and lead singer of a pop/rock band, remembering some of the boys/men I knew and dated back then.

The first name that popped into my head was Gavin "Smith", born in England, kinda looked like a very young Hugh Grant. We'd known each other since high-school and socialized with a large, close-knit group of friends. We liked each other but one of us was always dating someone else, so it was a constant case of bad timing.

Finally, long after I'd graduated high-school, we decided to go out on our first real date. I was almost 20 by that time, Gavin was 17. After he and I had dinner at a really fancy restaurant, I took him to the night club where I worked to introduce him to all of my co-workers. Remember...he's 17. We weren't there 3 minutes when all of a sudden the police burst through the doors. At least 10 of 'em, all looking for underage drinkers. I tried to hide Gavin in bathrooms and broom closets, moving him around from place to place, as a rebel sympathizer would try to hide a resistance fighter during a Nazi raid. But, alas, they did eventually find him. Not only did he get a $50 fine for being in a night club -- even though he didn't have a drop of alcohol to drink, he also got a permanent police record. All because I wanted to show off my hot new boyfriend to my friends.

Thankfully, Gavin laughed it off and we remained friends for a couple of years afterward -- but not boyfriend/girlfriend, as I realized that night that he was just too young for me. I later heard through friends that he took up a life of crime. Shoplifting, break and enter, robbery, possession of stolen property...I think perhaps I may have set him on the wrong path, corrupted him, turned him into a criminal.

No wonder I'm still single. A man can get arrested just by standing next to me!

Always Late for Work? No Prob!


That seems to be a growing trend in the younger work force today. Being late for work every day -- and fully expecting to be forgiven for it by bosses and co-workers.

Holy crap, are you kidding me?

After I read THIS STORY in the Ottawa Sun yesterday I emailed Cathie Edmond, manager of Algonquin College's Co-operative Education program, to ask for clarification on some quotes in the article. Specifically:


"Millennials" (people born between 1990 and 2000) are usually running late.

"Punctuality is not something that this generation worries a great deal about," she said.

She had an employer complain about one student, who was very smart and talented, but was showing up consistently five minutes late.

"I told him, 'You're not going to attract the young talent if you do that.' "


I just couldn't believe it when I read that, so, assuming it was a misquote, I contacted Cathie Edmond. She suggested that she may have been misquoted or taken out of context -- but then reiterated her stance on the issue: today's employers are expected to excuse their employees for being consistently late for work and, in fact, should adjust their schedules to allow for it (i.e. don't start meetings until the employee finally decides to show up, or make another employee stay later to cover the shift until the late worker finally saunters through the door). And if the employer has the unmitigated gall to insist that the employee respect his/her time and that of their co-workers, the slacker can just laugh them off because, apparently, there is such a shortage of highly qualified and well-educated workers that the employer would have no choice but to keep them on, despite their bad habits.

Really? Well, not if you worked for me, you lazy, selfish, inconsiderate asshole!

Look, I've been an employee, a minimum wage slave, for dozens of good bosses and a few really, really bad ones since I was a teenager, and unless I had car trouble, got caught in a traffic jam or had to stay and help police as the only witness to a car accident right in front of me, I was never late for work. In fact, I always tried to be at least 5 minutes early.

Now I'm in my 40s and that work ethic has stayed with me. I don't keep clients waiting, I don't keep potential new employers waiting, and I don't create a situation where co-workers are forced to pick up the slack on my behalf because I was too lazy to get my ass out of bed or off the couch in a timely manner. If I was personal assistant to the president of NBC or CTVglobemedia, do you think they'd mind if I was 5, 10, 15 minutes late for work every day? I'm thinking, yeah. Make that, "Hell, yeah!"

I'm also an employer with two personal assistants (well, three if you count Patricia, my convention assistant, who lives on the other side of the country). They know damn well they'd better not be late for work more than two days in any given week or I'd fire their ass. I don't put up with shit like that.

Am I being too rigid? Am I asking for too much? Should employers today forgive slacker employees for disrupting the work environment on a daily basis?

What do you think?

KJC


ADDENDUM:
It's now mid February, 2010, and since I wrote this post, it's gotten 30-40 hits per week. Mostly from frustrated employers who are trying to deal with chronically late workers, most of them Millennials. Sad. So very, very sad.