Twilight Star Studios
Pack Rat Comics
Twilight Star Studios
Pack Rat Comics
August 31st. Just a few days ago I checked out THE TOUR with Motley Crue and KISS with my wife…our oldest daughter and her husband and a friend from work. I’ve seen KISS several times before…almost once for every different incarnation of the band…and seen the Crue once WAY BACK in 1983…0r 1984 opening up for Ozzy.
I’ve always liked both bands…was really impressed with the latest Motley album S.O.L.A…..while somewhat disappointed with Sonic Boom…the latest disc from KISS a few years back.
I thought this would be a cool show…but didn’t think I was going to go until our daughter called us and asked us if we wanted to go with her and her husband…this was way back in Feb….my wife and I agreed. And as the show got closer I thought I would enjoy the Crue more than KISS….once again I’ve seen KISS several times and Crue had added a lot of music too their studded belt since I last saw them live.
What’s really weird…I retired from going to concerts back in 1999. Since about 1983 until 1999 I’ve just about seen every band I wanted to see with just a few exceptions (AC/DC, Ted Nugent (by himself…saw him with the Damn Yankees), Alice Cooper, Metallica (not so much anymore) and VanHalen)….in all I’ve seen about 63 shows…not counting local level type bands. Some people think that’s a lot…but I know people that have seen four times as many shows , easily.
Back in 1999 I saw a show I never thought I would see. Black Sabbath with all the original members….to make this even better Pantera opened up for them….and the Def Tones opened for Pantera. After watching that show I was done…there was no reason to keep going to shows.
I had touched the face of GOD….there WOULD NEVER BE A SHOW BETTER THAN THAT ONE.
So I retired.
But like Micheal Jordan and Brett Farve ..not for long….I eventually started to creep back to seeing a few shows…I’d see Ace Frehley with an old friend I was in a band with…Hell I saw KISS two more times during my “retirement” with our youngest daughter….caught another show with my brother and another old band member….those type of things.
But I had the feeling that after this Crue and KISS show was done…I was done as well. And I was right. And this time I’m pretty sure done means done.
Don’t get me wrong…I had a great time and with great company. Crue was pretty good…Vince was….Vince. He either had a hard time remembering lyrics or just was too out of shape to keep up with the rest of the band who who just AMAZING!!! Thank God for the back up singers…not only did they do a great job filling in the blanks in the songs that Vince left behind….and they looked pretty damn good doing it. I mean if you were too busy watching them you didn’t notice Vince too much.
And KISS….kicked ass. They were tighter as a group of musicians than I had ever seen them before, and played WAR MACHINE live…never heard them play that live all the times I had seen them in the past.
But I was right back in 1999….nothing I’ve seen since….Hell….nothing I even saw before that show….could have come close to that Pantera/Sabbath show.
And like Michael Jordan and Brett Farve before me…I should have went out on top and stayed retired the first time.
Oh well…still had a great time at a rock concert….for the last time.
I’ve already framed my ticket.
I haven’t written a song for years…but today for whatever reason I felt like writing one.
This one is for my wife….it’s called Moonlight.
I was lost in my world
A place so dark and empty
Never really seeing
All the things that passed by me
Cause I was living in the shadow
Of all the things I could be
But trapped in my own Hell
For all Eternity
Then a crack formed in my pitch black world
And made the darkness bleed
And whispered to my very soul
And somehow set me free
You were the Moonlight
That shined into my heart
I can’t imagine me without you
I never want to start
You were the Moonlight
That outlined all my dreams
I don’t need to see everything
I just need to see you with me
You were the Moonlight
And there are times I find myself
Stumbling through the night
When everything turns out the same
And nothing turns out right
There are times I could give up
And surely lose my way
But the love you give to me
Keeps the night at bay
You are the Moonlight
You light up my heart
I can’t imagine me without you
I never want to start
You are the Moonlight
You outline all my dreams
I may not see everything…
…but I see everything I need
You are the Moonlight.
So this is where I put my Diary Of A Gladman blog! Haven’t been here for a while and thought I’d drop by to put aside all rumors that I have passed beyond to the great unknown and left this mortal coil behind.
I am very much alive and kickin’ (although recently found myself lost in (cyber) space…. yes I guess the end is near. I DID join FACEBOOK and cussed out twitter a couple of times)
No dirt nap here. It just ain’t true.
But I admit I have also been guilty of falling prey to incorrectly believing certain people were dead…when they were not (thankfully).
For a number of years (since the 11th grade as a matter of fact) I believed a guy that I used to draw and write comic books with (on note book paper) named Stephen Brewington had committed suicide when he “disappeared” towards the end of that same school year. Imagine the pleasant surprise when I learned from my Twilight Star partners in crime (Gary and Derron-better known as The Brothers Church) that Steve was alive and living in Xenia Ohio! They had actually been friends with the guy for a number of years!
And in a quirky twist of fate Stephen and I ended up working together on several comic books together….a few decades down the road! Stephen is on hiatus at the moment but look forward to his return and involvement with the studio again.
A few years ago I actually thought one of my favorite comic book writers, Roger McKenzie, who was a writer on Daredevil had died. Until during the recording of a RaynMan podcast episode I was going to talk about his death and did a little research…and found out he was still alive!!!!
There was another guy named Roger McKenzie ( a jazz musician I believe) who unfortunately passed away and apparently I got the two confused.
AND just a few days ago this type of thing happened again….for many, many years I believed the guitarist from the rock band W.A.S.P…Chris Holmes was dead. I don’t know how I got that notion….but I thought he was pushing up daisies. (Man who can forget that scene in Decline Of Western Civilization Part II….guzzling that vodka in his pool)….I mean how could that guy still be alive?
Well he is! As a spur of a moment Google search proved.
So there you have it….if you have heard otherwise about me, Stephen, Roger, or Chris….I’m here to quote Keith Richards.
“I Ain’t Dead Yet!”
When I first thought of doing this “Diary Of A Gladman” blog , I thought it would be cool to try to talk about the two things I enjoy most…..as far as a creative outlet goes. Those two things being comics and music.
I started out as a comic collector first and when I was about 15 years old I would sell my first comic collection to purchase band equipment. By the time I was 15 I was spending less time reading comics and more time listening to the music of the hard rock/heavy metal explosion of the 80′s. More of my money was going towards buying new music (anywhere from three to five albums or cassettes a week) and less money was going to buying comics.
Around that same time I realized a couple of other things as well. My dreams of writing or drawing comics were slowly starting to be replaced by those of being a rock star. No doubt fueled by the fact that young women preferred rock stars about one million to one over…..comic book writers and artists.
So if I was ever going to hit it off right with the ladies I was going to have to spend less time talking about Spider-Man and more time learning guitar chords. So the comics got sold…I bought a used Fender Duo Sonic II guitar, an amp, and even paid off the rest of my first drummer’s drum kit.
Well unfortunately me and the guys I was hanging with never became the next Motley Crue (but I have to admit the the whole thing with girls improved…Gene Simmons said it best….just play an instrument…you don’t even have to play it well…and girl’s clothes will fall off) and I played EVERYTHING over the years…started out on guitar and I really sucked. Tried to sing, even played a little keyboards…wasn’t very good at either of those things . Bought a drum kit…bought more than one as I would quit playing drums and pick them back up later more than a couple of times…but never got close to being as good as Eric Carr.
My strongest musical talent was my song writing….I wrote some truly great songs and became known in many circles as one of the best song writers in our area.
And with the help of my brother (who really got tired of me trying to be a drummer) I later became a slightly better than average bass player.
Many. many. many years later….I don’t know how many bands came and went…I know I burned through one marriage…and was married a second time I ended up recording some pretty good music during that time period and played some great shows with some very talented guys…but there came a time when my life seemed to have come full circle.
I was reading and collecting comics again. Spending a lot of time and money trying to hunt down every comic that I had sold off in that first collection that was worth a damn. And I came to the point where I decided to sell off all the recording equipment, the bass guitars, the amp, and the foot pedals and spend the money on my comic collection.
And somewhere after that I decided I got tired of buying and reading “bad comics” and sold off half my collection to finance producing my own comics that I was writing and or drawing. (actually more than half…the comic collection dropped from 14,00 to 4,000…..and I got less than what I sold the original collection of 1,500 back in the 80′s….but got a good deal based on today’s comic market)
Music has always fueled my writing process….almost every story I write is named after a song. My Jack The Rabbit stories are greatly influenced by the music and lyrics of Ronnie James Dio.
But without a doubt the crown jewel in my attempt to combine my love for music and comics is the line of comics I am currently producing with a group of guys (and gals) just as talented as the guys (and gals) I once played music with. The comics come out through TWILIGHT STAR STUDIOS here in Springfield Ohio….and I’m talking specifically about the Rock-N-Roll Hell Ride line of comics produced by the studio.
When coming up with the characters, locations, story ideas, and story titles for this line of comics (which include the Necrotrancer books, the Un-Naturals books and Twilight Star Team Up which features Necrotrancer) I wanted to create something that when you saw the art and read the stories you could “feel” Rock-N-Roll.
I mean one the books is actually named Un-Naturals: Creatures Of The Night!!!
Not only is that the name of one of my favorite KISS albums but it fits the book perfectly seeing how this book features solo stories of the members of the Un-Naturals….which is a team of super-heroes (if you really want to use the term super-heroes) which consist of a para-normal investigator/vigilante that is a mix between Batman and Wolverine named Moonshadow..a”cursed” heroine named Albatross (she gets her name from a song by the band Corrosion Of Conformity ….2nd song of their DELIVERANCE album)…
….a female/albino werewolf simply named She-Wolf (inspired by Megadeth’s song of the same name from their Cryptic Writings album)…
…to really emphasis the whole aspect of horror comics mixed with super-hero comics mixed with rock-n-roll that I’m going for here, Megadeth’s “She-Wolf” is inspired by the cult classic horror film “She-Wolf Of London”
……other members of the Un-Naturals include a Moth Man…..last of THIRTEEN (another Megadeth reference) Mothmen, an animated corpse named Epitaph and a female vampire who was once a nun, named Challis….
Challis owes her “origin” to the dark inspiration of “Christian Woman” the first song from the album Bloody Kisses by the band Type O Negative….
As a matter of fact there is a TON of ideas that have found their way into the stories of the first few Un-Naturals comics that came bout from Type O Negative tunes including “Love You To Death” and “Blood And Fire”.
The Rock-N-Roll Hell Ride books are full of blood, bullets, demons, motorcycles, sex… and hard rock tunes. There’s a band called Xotica that appears in the Rock-N-Roll Hell Ride books…the lead singer is a demon half breed named …Xotica. Her lead guitarist is a vampire named Valentino and her drummer is named Spyder but also goes by the name R.J….short for Ronnie James.
If things goes as planned I hope to record four songs with the help of some of my of musician friends in town (and with me acting only as songwriter) that would be put on a “fake” live c.d by Xotica which would be called Xotica “Almost Live At The Liberty Belle”. Those songs would be “Hell Behind My Eyes”, “A 1,000 Nights In The Fire”, “Blackheart”, and “Dead 2 Me” ( the last song would have to be sung by a male vocalist as Valentino sings that song in the comics. Xotica sings the other three …some of the lyrics do appear in some of the stories) and I would like a female vocalict on those songs who could channel her inner Lita Ford.
The Liberty Belle is a local bar in the Rock-N-Roll Hell Ride books that is owned by a guy named Buff (based on my dear departed friend Darrell Buffington) and who used to be a roadie for the band Yes. (in the books not in real life) The bar itself is haunted by several ghosts due to a deadly fire a few years ago that killed over a hundred people during a performance by the band White Warlock.
If you know your rock-n-roll history you know what real life tragic event this is based on. As for the band White Warlock that was actually the name of one of the bands I played bass for back in the 80′s.
That’s not the only part of my own personal music history to creep into these stories. That fire actually happened 11 Years Ago ( a song of mine that I recorded for the first time….live…with the band Violent Whisper) The title for the book Shades of Gray comes from one of the songs I wrote and recorded with while in a band called Project X (which featured Grace Deer on vocals, Rick Lazear and Doug Huff on guitars, me on bass and Rich Walden on drums)
Another song I wrote the lyrics for (my brother Larry wrote the music for) was called One Night In Chicago. Larry and I played this song while in the band Misled (with vocalist Brad Shumway and again drummer Rich Walden).
One Night In Chicago is also the name of the first story that appears in Twilight Star Team Up which features a team up between Necrotrancer and two characters created by fellow studio member Tim Hagans (Cyber-Cat and Zodiac)
The second story in the second issue of Twilight Star Team Up which my daughter Raichal helped me to write (Raichal’s old band …yeah she was in a band or two in the past too….Kid Chaos gets mentioned in these books more than once. The drummer for Kid Chaos was Rich Walden’s son…Richie Walden)…anyway the title for the story Raichal and I worked on for the second issue of this book is called “Kiss Your Past Good-Bye” a song that appears of off Aerosmith’s Nine Live album.
Although I have to admit that equal amounts of the song “Salvation On Sand Hill” by Sammy Hagar also played a large role in the inspiration of this story.
The song appears on the Marching To Mars album. the story features the characters Necrotrancer and Valentino (Raichal created Valentino with the help of local artist Kyle Hilt)
And the story for the third issue of the book is called “Fatal Portrait” ….any King Diamond fans out there?
And I think that when you consider that the next Necrotrancer book is called “Devil’s Dance” a tune by Metallica…the first Challis solo story is called “If You Want Blood” a song by the band AC/DC….and the bad guys (yeah…although the heroes in these books are “monsters” the bad guys are REALLY evil bad asses)…the bad guys in these books are named Powerslave (an Iron Maiden tune)….
Widowmaker (any W.A.S.P. fans out there can Scream Until You Like it), Painkiller ( a Judas Priest tune), Harvester of Sorrow (another Metallica tune), Devil Digger (another Priest tune), Lucretia (yet another Megadeth tune) and Grave Dancer (a tune from Velvet Revolver)….you can see that when it comes to mixing my love for hard rock and comics….and horror films too……I’m turning my efforts up to 11.
I’m really proud of the books that make up the Rock-N-Roll Hell Ride line of books from Twilight Star and I hope you check them out.
Want more info on the books…..you can get it here.
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As the year comes to a close I guess it’s time for a FEW New Year’s Resolutions. I’m the type of guy who actually takes making these resolutions to heart and USUALLY does a fair job of seeing them through.
So I thought I would share the resolutions I want to work on for the coming year of 2012.
#1-Try to make more updates here at the D.O.G blog-can’t believe I haven’t posted anything here in over two months!!!
#2-get a new computer…..one of the reasons I haven’t posted anything in the last two months….plus this computer has been slowly dying for a couple of years now….and I keep trying to stretch it’s life span out …but I think I am going to have to get something else very soon. Been a real pain in the ass on the Twilight Star production front and as the studio continues to grow….so does what I need to be able to do on my computer.
#3-lose some more weight. Yeah, I know that’s a pretty common resolution and has been one of mine in the past. But I have been very successful with past efforts but would like to get below 225 lbs. Currently hovering around 235 lbs.
#4-by the end of the year I would like to make a living working in the comic field…so I can give up the day job. If not I intend to stop producing comics and just focus on the day job (whatever day job that may be) and spend more time with the family. I ain’t getting any younger….time is too short to continue to divide it on so many different fronts but I’m not willing to give up on chasing my dreams. I’ve already come further than I ever thought I would and actually believe a goal of making comics my full time job in 2012 is very attainable.
#5-just to be a little more organized….in everything I do. Sometimes it feels like things get away from me and I want to focus a little more on the finer details …at work…here at home….and with the studio.
Not too bad of a list. At least I don’t think so.
Guess only time will tell.
2011 has been a pretty good year….with a lot of notable events…..
I was one of 20 writers nominated to write a comic series for Stan Lee and MTV…didn’t get the gig but a few very good things came from the nomination.
Champion City Comic Con which I organize with local comic shop owner Scott Riley turned three years old. This year’s show was not as successful as the previous two for several different reasons but Scott and I along with the help of a few good friends plan to get it back on track for 2012 and show # 4
Twilight Star Studios turned two years old and we produced 18 books in 2011….that’s six more than 2010 and a total of 30 books produced in two years!!!
And 2012 looks to be very productive with almost 30 books being worked on right now and that could be out before 2012 reaches the half way point!
After working on the weekly web comic NEW COMIC DAY with fellow creators Eric Ratcliffe, Chad Strohl, Lisa Moore, and Brant Fowler for two years I decided to leave the strip as of Strip # 104 this past July.
The strip does continue without me and you can check it out every Weds. at Comic Related and http://www.newcomicday,net
The RaynMan Power Hour Podcast which I co-host with good friends Frank Raynor and Brant Fowler turned two years old in 2011….and after a brief cancellation is now heard on TWO different websites…Comic Related and Underground Video Network. RaynMan just recently launched it’s own website at http://www.raynmanpodcast.com
And…..before I go and end what I’m sure will be my last D.O.G posting here for the year ….here are some of my thoughts about the best of 2011.
No Regrets-The Ace Frehley autobiography-couldn’t put this thing down. Read it in four days. If you’re a fan of The Space Man….which I most certainly am….this is a MUST READ!!!
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes….although Sherlock Holmes: Game Of Shadows was a VERY close second…this film still wins the number one spot on my list. I loved this film and was lucky enough to get the d.v.d as a Christmas gift.
Best Comic Book Movie-
2011 was a great year for comic book films. Perhaps the best year for comic book films ever. And we were treated to several high quality comic book adaptations….and one bright green turkey.
But Captain America was the best of the comic book films this year and one of the best comic book films ever made!
Best Television Series-
In my opinion not only the best television series on the air at the moment but for me the ONLY t.v show worth watching!
Best Comic Book -
The new Daredevil series written by Mark Waid is what comics should be like….all the time!!!
Just when I was on the verge on giving up on main stream comics for good a book like this comes along and saves the day..
Megadeth-Thirteen. Hands down the best music release of the year and the best Megadeth c.d in the last five years which features the return of original bassist Dave Effleson to the band’s line up.
And with that…..the year gets even closer to an end.
Let’s see what 2012 brings us!
When I first decided to start posting random thoughts here at the good ol’ Diary Of A Gladman blogspot the plan was to try to post a new blog entry every week.
That didn’t really work out, if I’m lucky I get around to posting one every month.
I also wanted to kind of split the entries into two different subjects. Comics and music. Two things I love a great deal. Well as of late most of the entries have been some what “comic related” and more often than not they have been promoting something either tied to Main Street Comics And Games, Champion City Comic Con, a MTV writing contest, Twilight Star Studios or a combination of all the above. Well this blog entry does not have anything to do with any of those usually very cool subjects.
And the subject matter this time around does lend itself to my interest in music to a certain degree.
I admit when it comes to both comics and music I think the best stuff was created in the late 70′s, the 80′s and the early 90′s. As of March of this year I pretty much stopped collecting comics…new comics that is. I still buy about four a month which include two different Captain America titles. And my interest in attending out of town comic conventions has dwindled a great deal as well due to the fact there’s less than a dozen books I really need to complete what I think is a damn good collection. And I started reading my own collection in March….man this has really been great. Out of about 4,000 books I have read a little over 900 comics and still going strong. ( until just last September I had almost 14,000 books before selling a great deal of the collection off and trimmed the fat to just the stuff I couldn’t live without.) I try to read at least two books a night…sometimes I read as many as seven.
About the same time I started listening to my own personal c.d collection, working my way through the hundred and hundreds of compact discs that I own including all the Megadeth, Iron Maiden (and the Bruce Dickinson solo stuff, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Kiss, and Motley Crue stuff….among others.
I usually listen to one c.d a day as I drive back and forth to work. And a little over a week ago while driving home I was listening to Motley Crue’s Dr. Feelgood album, which for the most part still holds up pretty well even today.
While stopped at a light I decided I wanted to see exactly what year this disc was released. A quick glance gave me a shocking answer.
1989. I have become that guy that listens to only music that is almost thirty years old. This album of course isn’t quite thirty years old…but the Crue’s debut album Too Fast for Love….
…. which I had just listened to days before and which still rocks to this very day….did come out exactly thirty years ago, released way back in 1981.
Dr. Feelgood on the other hand is only 22 years old.
Only 22 years old. I’m forty four now….this album came out when I was 22 …..half a freakin’ lifetime ago!
Back in 1989 I was married to my first wife, my daughter was just a year old and for the most part my life was happy. In some ways happier. Mimi ( the first wife in question) was a stay at home mother by choice…I was working a landscaping job in Centerville Ohio making a whooping $5.50 an hour and we were renting a four room house in the country that belonged to my parents.
I owned a 197o Chevy Impala that had a defroster that didn’t work and a 1977 Olds Cutlass Supreme ( the second of this year and model…I loved those 77 Cutlass Supremes)…which only had one windshield wiper….on the passenger side.
So I hoped for a lot of sunny days or at the very least rainy days that weren’t too cold.
But for the most life back then was …I don’t know. Fresh. Vibrant. Stress free and full of energy. I wasn’t trying to be part of a band, although I did own a five piece Rogers drum kit that I kept stored away in the bedroom closet and that I would occasionally assemble in the living room and beat the Hell out of them when the wife and kid wasn’t at home….actually Raichal (my daughter) loved dancing to the drums when I played them…she did well for a kid who was just learning to walk.
I wasn’t trying to create comics either. Matter of fact I wasn’t even collecting comics back then, although I did own about 50 issues of Dr. Strange that I kept stashed away in a cabinet in the living room.
I was collecting comics before I met the first wife, but sold off my collection of about 3,000 books not long before I met her (for a whooping $500) to purchase band equipment. At the time I met her the band I was playing bass for (The fourth or fifth version of a band called White Warlock) was about to break up and I sold my knock off Rickenbacker bass to buy the drum kit off my first boss….on a spur of the moment. But that was it. My dreams that I needed to be…something more than I was at the moment just didn’t exist at that time. I was content just being …..me.
Back then I didn’t want to be a rock star or a comic book creator….I was happy working my job, being a husband and a father. I could have spent the rest of my life doing just that.
But in less than five years later…that moment in time was lost to me. It slipped through my fingers and crashed at my feet.
I hate to fail at anything , and although I am happily married to my second wife now and during the divorce from the first wife decided I was going to do things I always wanted to do but never got around to … record an album….(actually ended up recording five), write a novel (wrote four of these of which only the first has been published to date) and release my own full length comic (closing in on releasing my 50th comic book that I am either an artist or writer)….I will never shake the feeling I failed at keeping that first marriage together.
I failed to keep that moment in time, when everything seemed so easy and carefree together for what now seems just a few moments lost forever in time.
Back in 1989.
Half A Lifetime Ago.