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Friday, April 18, 2014

Who’s "Voice" Do You hear When You Read A Shawn James Story?

I hear voices in my head. Well, character voices.

When I’m writing a story oftentimes characters talk to me. And each character has their own “Voice” when they speak.

Where do those “voices” in my head come from? Some come from my imagination. I hear a character speaking to me and then I just start writing them.

Colleen Anderson from The Thetas always sounds like Robin Givens when I write her prose and dialogue. I never intended for her to sound like that, but that’s how she speaks to me. And Cassandra Lee always sounds like a 1960’s actress. Again, I never intended for her to sound like that, but that’s how she speaks to me when I write her.

Other “voices I use come from actors. One of the things I learned how to do early on when I first started writing was to capture the “voice” of an actor by studying their speech patterns when I watched a movie or a TV show. Then I would take that speech pattern and turn it into prose and dialogue for my novels.

It would often make me smile when a reader would tell me Osiris from Isis sounded like Samuel L. Jackson or E’steem sounded just like Salli Richardson-Whitfield. That meant I got the “voice” right, that I effectively copied the speech patterns of the actors and turned it into prose and dialogue.

Sometimes a characters’ “voice” changes. When a character evolves, sometimes the original “voice” I was using no longer fits, and a new character “voice” is needed to fit who they are now.

I wound up changing Queen Isis’ “voice” starting in Isis: Trial of The Goddess. The original Angela Bassett “voice” I had her speaking in wasn’t telling the story of Trial. So I switched to a softer, gentler one telling the story.

And Marilyn Marie’s “voice” changed when I wrote her in Isis: All About The Goddess. Originally it was a bit of a sultry, mellow “voice” in the screenplay, All About Marilyn but in the Isis novelette, I started hearing actress Persia White’s “voice” as Marilyn’s when I was telling the story. And she started sounding more like a Cali surfer chick. Hence all the “dude” references.

Lately Isis has been sounding like Cree Summer in some stories and Tia Mowry in others. Her speech pattern and personality are the same but as her character has been changing in the Isis series stories, I’ve been hearing different “voices” when I write her.

Of course who the reader hears when they read the story will be totally different than what I imagine when I’m writing it. When I write stories, I see scenes playing in my head like a movie. And I try to have the characters describe the action just like it’s playing in my head in their own “Voices”.

In some ways when I’m writing, I’m like an actor playing all the parts of a movie. Each character becomes their own person, and I have to feel all their emotions to convey them to paper. To make the story come alive. To get the reader to hear the “voices” of the characters so the story feels real.

These are some of the “voices I hear when I’m writing. Who’s voice do you hear when you read a Shawn James story?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Steve Harvey’s Act Like A Lady Think Like a Man is Garbage

I’m reading Steve Harvey’s Act Like A Lady Think Like a Man as part of my research for my Why 70 Percent of Black Women are Single book. And I’m finding everything in this book to be complete and utter garbage. Lies, Damn lies and Bullshit written to pander to Black women and not offer them any constructive solutions to why they’re still single.

I find the title of this book to be absolutely irksome. Why? Because God did not make women to think like men. If anything the main reason why so many Black women are single is because they believe they can think like men. I find it odd how Steve never mentions anything about feminism and the impact of single parent homes in his book and how women growing up learning these dysfunctional concepts in these toxic environments have led to so many women today being single. But I guess he didn’t want to offend his core audience.

I also find it strange how he constantly talks about men having to deal with a single woman’s kids. Like a Real Man would want to date a single mother. Most of the book seems to be written towards women believing men will get involved with a single mother and having a relationship with her.

Seriously, what guy is going to do this? What dude is going to put up with baby daddies? Kids that hate him? And What man is going to even consider a single mom now that there’s a possibility of him being forced to pay Child Support for kids that he never even fathered?

I love how he constantly talks about men talking to baby daddies and ex-boyfriends. What man is going to play Captain-Save-A-Hoe to a woman and try to solve her problems? If she’s having issues with an ex or a baby daddy, that’s HER problem to SOLVE. If she doesn’t want to talk to these guys she won’t talk to them. And if she’s still in contact with these guys, it’s a reason why a man shouldn’t get involved with her.

Then there’s the90-day-rule. I pretty much laughed at this chapter. Only a SIMP would come up with this idiotic concept. Who’s going to wait 90 days spending money on dinner and drinks for the possibility of getting sex?

Most women know if they want to have sex with a man within five seconds of looking at him. And they’re not going to wait 90 days to get with a man they’re attracted to. They’re going to find a way to get with that man on his terms.

What Steve Harvey doesn’t understand is that any woman using his 90 day rule is sleeping with a dozen different guys while stringing him along for dinner and drinks. Then on the 90th day after stringing Mr. SIMP along, she decides to tell him “it’s not working out” and drops him for all the thugs and bad boys she was sleeping with prior.

Steve Harvey’s big problem on the 90-day-rule is that he thinks that relationships are a one-way street. That’s a concept based on ideas from a man who was raised in a single mother household.

This is why Steve also believes that a woman’s vagina has power. And that a man will wait for sex.

I’d have to say Steve is truly strung out on pussy. Vagina does not have power. Vagina only has power over a SIMP. And Simps become Tricks because they believe they have to pay for the possibility of getting sex from a woman.

Here’s the deal: Women are not that special. Women do not have the power to make a man wait for her. Today, there are four women for every one man. And if she’s not showing him she’s bringing anything to the table other than sex, he has every right to entertain offers from other women. Until both parties agree to be exclusive to one another there is no relationship.

The 90-day-rule is where Steve Harvey’s book falls apart. The man does not have to prove himself to the woman. The woman has to prove himself to the man. The woman may choose the man she dates. But it’s the man who has to choose to offer her a marriage proposal. She has to show HIM she is worth of being asked to wear his engagement ring.

Only a SIMP would believe that he has prove something to a woman. If anything, the woman has to show him what she brings to HIS table for him to make a commitment to her.

I find it interesting how everything in Steve Harvey’s book is all about women making men react.

Men are not emotional. Men are logical. Real Men do not react to a woman, they respond to them.

The only men who react to a woman are those who are raised in single mother households. Men from two-parent homes THINK before they speak and THINK even more before they act.

For all the talk about God, Steve Harvey forgets one tenet of the Bible: The Man is the leader. And the woman is the help meet. She has to show how she fits into his program and how she’ll be a part of God’s natural order.

And the big problem with Steve’s book is he follows the Mangina concept that Men were made for Women. In Steve Harvey’s world the man has to find a way to fits into the woman’s program.

When this is a dysfunctional way of thinking. God made Women for Men. And Women follow the lead of men.

This is why I call his book garbage. It’s shallow, half-hearted and like the Pimp Pastors in the Black Church panders to Black women’s emotions to get at their wallets. Any woman who reads this book will wind up still single and with her wallet $20 lighter afterward.

For me, Steve Harvey’s book doesn’t dig deep enough into the real reasons why Black women are single. This slickly packaged snake oil in paperback barely skims the surface on why Black women are single and don’t go in depth about the numerous economic, political, psychological and sociological reasons why Black women have such a hard time maintaining a relationship with a Black man today.

The truth is so-called relationship experts like Steve Harvey don’t want to offer solutions to Black women. If anything they profit from keeping Black women single. It’s the only way they can keep selling books, movies and DVDs to the masses of Black women in the Matriarchy that controls the Black community.

Yeah, I’m writing my own book on why Black women are single. But I’d like to think I’d offer more solutions in one chapter than what Steve Harvey offers in his entire book. My research comes from historical sources like the Bible, American history, psychologists, mental health counselors, and most importantly Black men. I find it odd that for all the talk about the issue of Black women being single not a single sista has ever talked to Black men about why they don’t want to marry them. Maybe if we started talking to each other instead of through intermediaries we’d start healing the fractured Black community.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Contenders To Barbie's Throne- WARNING! LOTS OF DOLL NUDITY!

If you are offended by Doll nudity, please click out of this blog! Another Article will be up later this week that will be LESS OFFENSIVE

My sister was cleaning out her closets and gave me some of her old toys. Before I posted them up on eBay, I decided to do a feature on the Contenders to Barbie's throne. For over 50 years Barbie was the best selling doll in the world. And it was the dream of many a toy executive to say they created the product to dethrone her. 

Sure there have been many Barbie Challengers like Candie and Sandie, but, I didn't get those in the bag of toys my sister gave me. SO for this blog I'll be focusing on the dolls I did get, the 1980s forgotten Jems from Hasbro and 2000s Girl Force. 

In 1985, Hasbro brought out its first serious contender to Barbie's throne. Her name was Jem, She was a truly outrageous punk rock star and she sang with a band called the Holograms and had a rivalry with a band called the Misfits. My sister had the entire band of dolls including Danse and Video, but for now we'll just focus on Jem. 

Jem was about 12.5 inches tall (a whole inch taller than Barbie) and had some halfway realistic proportions. Her earrings light up (not anymore cause the batteries are DEAD).  She also had MUCH better articulation above the waist than most of the STIFF Barbies at the time. The ball shoulders wrists, and clicky elbows allow her to get in some rockin poses for a 1980s toy! Plus she has some great proportions. Hasbro made a cartoon around the toys that was a tad soapy, but overall was fun for the time. 

Each of these came with a tape with songs from the show, stand and accessories like drums, guitars, and Being the lead singer Jem here came with a microphone. 

Jem  sold fairly well and still has a pretty decent following to this day. Unfortunately, not well enough to keep her from getting her ass handed to her by Barbie. Jem sales fell off in 1987 and never came back 

Towards the end of the Jem Line in 1987 came a spin-off featuring the Girls of the Starlight Orphanage which Jem's alter ego Jerrica Benton owned. Saw this Starlight Girl  in 1988 at Grand Juvenille on Fordham Road here in The Bronx (It's Still there after 35 years!) for the low, low price of $8 and picked it up. 

I'm guessing Hasbro was trying to ape a Skipper/Jem hybrid with this body. I find it odd she has ball jointed hips and bendy knees but no ball jointed arms. and no bendy arms. Oh well, the probably didn't cost out. 

With the failure of Jem for Hasbro, Came a new contender for Barbie's fashion doll throne  in 1988. Her name was Maxie.  I think she came from Australia   She was a hybrid of sorts between Skipper and Barbie She got her ass handed to her around 1990 and was never seen in the U.S. Again. 

As you can see, this is another Skipper type"teen" body. Not much in the way of articulation, the focus was more on fashion and interchangable clothes with this doll. I'll have to say this, the proportions on Maxie are a bit more natural looking than Barbie. 

Poor Maxie. She never stood a chance. She came in at the WRONG time here in America. Most of the girls of Generation X were growing up and out of toys. And the Gen Y girls were just gleams in their daddies' eyes. 

After 1990, Hasbro conceded defeat and NEVER tried to challenge Mattel in the Fashion doll marketplace. Well, as far as I know. I was too busy trying to finish High school and collecting comics at the time. 

Around 2000, Came a line from JAKKS Pacific called G.I.R.L Force. These were on a rubber skinned body with a skeleton frame. These bodies were used in a Josie and the PussyCats doll line Sis saw these in a bodega for $8. and she had to pick them up.

These have some fairly decent proportions and a more natural look to the body. Kinda tallish like Jem at 13.5 inches. And JAKKS was nice enough to give their girl a pair of molded on panties! 

These were some nice looking dolls. Unfortunately, they came in at the wrong time. Around 2003 Bratz came along and FINALLY handed Barbie her ass. But Mattel like DC Comics didn't like the fact that they were being OUTSOLD for once and sued MGA Entertainment saying that the creator of Bratz made them while working at Mattel and that the designs were their property. Mattel Won the lawsuit, but after several years, Bratz are still being sold by MGA Entertainment. 

Mattell's got Monster High now. And currently Monster High is outselling Barbie. So the Queen has finally been knocked off her throne. Only by another doll line from Mattel. 

I'll have all of these on eBay soon, so if you're a collector and want a good deal on some used dolls, check them out. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Shawn's Thoughts On Christianity

 A few weeks ago, a commenter said that I should walk away from the Christian religion.

 I’ve seen God do great works in my life since I was seven years old. And that’s why I won’t leave Him.

Now I know a lot of Brothers and Sisters out there are practicing agnostics these days. And their reasons for being agnostic probably have to do with what they’ve seen from so-called Christians in their lives. The kinds of hypocrites who preach one gospel and practice another.

It’s these kinds of who believe that they’re saints.

When God Himself said every man was born in sin. And there was only one man who was ever perfect, Jesus Christ.

It’s these kinds of arrogant self-righteous people who have discouraged people from pursuing a relationship with God by acting like they’re infallible.

When in actuality our righteousness is like a filthy rag to God. In his eyes we’ve all done wrong.

It’s these kinds of religious bullies who use shaming tactics to impose their brand of Christianity onto the masses as the true Word of God. Who use God as an enforcer to force cowardly and superstitious people to submit to their will.

Sure these bullies can read a bible. But oftentimes they misinterpret it. Wilfully and intentionally with malice of forethought.  

Personally I can’t stand these kinds of Christians. Like the Scribes, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees, these are the kinds of scumbags who alienate people and make them turn away from the Word of God and a true relationship with God.

God is not directly connected to any organized religion such as Catholicism or Pseudo Christianity. There is only one way to a direct relationship with God and that’s through Jesus Christ.

When Jesus walked the Earth he never bullied anyone into following Him. He never shamed anyone into following Him. He treated everyone with respect because he loved the world. And the people willingly followed him because they loved him. It was a relationship based on mutual trust.

Yes he called out hypocrites like the scribes, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. But he called them out because he loved people enough to tell them the truth. How these corrupt individuals were using His Word to for political and economic gain so they could exploit the masses just like today’s pimp pastors do. These people knew better, but instead of teaching the masses the True Word of God, they decided to remain silent.

You do not need a Church to have a relationship with God. And I wouldn’t advise going to one these days. Most of these organized religions and these religious institutions are monuments of failure because they’re man-made institutions that have been compromised by men who seek to please themselves instead of God. They give you their subjective interpretation of the Word of God, and that changes to appease the masses.

The true Word of God is unchanging and unyielding. When we give our lives to Christ we change for it. It doesn’t change for us. We become more like Christ.

In the Black community churchgoers only know what the pastor tells them. Their misinterpretation of the Word of God. And the Word of God Black people receive from the pastor in the pulpit is not the same as what is written in their Bibles.

The best place to hide something from Black people is in between the pages of a book. And the true Word of God has been hidden from the Negro plain sight for over 400 years.

The best way to get to know God is to read the Bible for yourself. That way the Holy Spirit can teach you.

The whole point of reading the Bible is to get to know God. So you can have a personal relationship with Him. When one reads the Bible they see how God has worked in people’s lives throughout history and understand why Jesus came to Earth to pay for the sins of all mankind.

What you believe is what you practice, not what you preach. And I do my best to live like the Word of God says. But even I know that’s not possible on my own.  God has to live through me. I understand it’s only when He puts his spirit within me that I can be Christ-like.

I gave my life to Christ when I was 16. And while I have had my experiences with dysfunctional Christians even in my own family over the last 24 years, I won’t let it discourage me from my fellowship with God.

They have nothing to do with my relationship with God. I’m accountable to Him for what I do and how I live. I’m not a perfect person, and I know God will forgive me when I screw up. 

This is why my relationship with God has nothing to do with organized religion. Again for me the Word of God is something I try to practice, not something I preach. For me, the Word of God is about being ACTIVE and taking ACTION. The way I see it, God only makes things happen when I do WORK. Because in his word He says Faith without works is dead. One has to APPLY the word of God to their lives, not just tell people about God. They have to SHOW an example of Christ in their lives.

Brothers and Sisters, don’t let your bad experiences with a dysfunctional Christian discourage you from a relationship with God. God loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. He wants you to get to know him. I urge you to read the Bible for yourself and see how great a relationship with God is .

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Who is Jean Grey?

A long time ago there was a Teen Titans comic that asked the question Who is Donna Troy? But if Shawn ever got to write comics he’d want to answer one question: Who is Jean Grey?

Out of all the X-men Jean Grey has received the least character development. Sure she got incredible powers as the Phoenix, but she never really stood out as a person in any of the X-men comics. In most stories she’s been used as a plot device to move a story forward or a Deus Ex Machina to wrap up loose ends of a story.

We all know Wolverine is the best at what he does. We all Know Cyclops is the no-nonsense leader. We all Know Storm is the noble wind goddess, Nightcrawler is the playful fuzzy elf, Beast is a brain, and Colossus is the metal man with the human heart, Kitty Pryde and Jubilee are the girls next door, Rogue is the Southern Belle, and Gambit is the Ragin Cajun.

But Jean Grey? Who is she? And why should readers care?

More people know about Jean Grey’s powers than they do her. And they know more about her significance in the Phoenix Saga than they do about her as a character.

Compared to Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Rogue, Colossus, or even original X-men like Iceman, Angel or Beast, Jean Grey never became a true character like all the other X-men in any run of the book. She never had a distinct “voice” when you read her dialogue in a comic panel. In adaptations like the 90’s X-men cartoon or X-Men Evolution she’s just…there. To be Cyclops’ girl friend. To be Wolverine’s sexual fantasy. To be Storm’s best friend. To be jobbed out to make a noble sacrifice when things get hard for the X-men and a writer needs to wrap up a story.

Man, Thunderbird did more in the two issues of X-men he appeared in than Jean did in her entire superhero career. At least he had the balls to call out Cyclops and question his leadership Giant Sized X-Men and X-men #94. If Jean had done that in at least one issue of X-men, X-factor or any comic she appeared in it would have made her an interesting character.

I always felt Marvel missed the opportunity to re-define Jean Grey after Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men. When Jean caught Cyclops cheating with Emma Frost, it could have been a new direction for the character. But instead she got killed off. Again.

It seems every time a writer Jean Grey is about to have a breakthrough and grow as a character writers just cop out and kill her off.

It’s like no one at Marvel wants Jean Grey to go through the painful character development that has defined almost every X-man from Cyclops to Kitty Pryde and made them into iconic characters.

Marvel’s editors probably didn’t want to make Cyclops look like a bad guy during the New X-men era. But the way I see it he cheated on his wife. And in that case he is a bad guy to her, the same way Henry Pym was to his ex-wife Janet.

Just like the Pym saga in Avengers, there was a great story to be told about Jean Grey. Only Marvel’s editors copped out instead of telling it.

On dealing with the aftermath of the domestic incident, Henry Pym and Janet Van Dyne grew as characters. They became better heroes and better people. After their divorce, Jan gained the self-confidence to lead the Avengers. And Hank finally dealt with his inferiority issues and guilt over Ultron in the pages of West Coast Avengers and discovered what made him a great hero: Being himself. Readers should have gotten that kind of defining resolution at the end of Cyclops’ affair with Emma Frost.

Unfortunately, instead of divorcing Cyclops, Jean just takes it. Then she makes the noble sacrifice and dies again in Endsong. Meanwhile Cyclops and Emma Frost become a celebrated supercouple in the pages of the earliest issues of Astonishing X-men. Hell, they even kissed on her grave.


Jean Grey took a dick in the ass with no lube. And readers got screwed out of a great story.

The way I see it, readers needed to see Jean truly dealing with Scott’s adultery. Even going through a divorce Finally going through the character transformation process that she’s been denied for over 40 years.
Every one of the Original X-men left Xavier’s school around X-men #95 and began living their own lives with the exception of Cyclops and Jean Grey. And Jean stayed to support Cyclops who felt he couldn’t go out into the world because of his eyes.

The way I see it Jean Grey never got her shot to be her own person. When she came back from the dead in that issue of Fantastic Four in 1986, she went right back to helping Cyclops with his dreams when he formed X-Factor .

Even though back in 1986 he was married with a wife and son. Marvel’s editors swept Scott Summers douchiness under the rug to make him look like a noble hero. Then two years later they killed off his wife and sent his son off into space.

Well now Cyclops is a full time dick in the current X-men books. So, here’s the perfect opportunity to allow Jean Grey to finally go through that transformation and find her “voice” as a character.

I think it was a mistake to kill Jean a couple of years ago. There was a great story to tell with her leaving the X-men and going out to become her own hero, the way Nightwing did when he left Gotham for Bludhaven.

The way I see it, Jean’s been fighting for everybody elses’ dream but hers. And with Marvel NOW going on it’d be a great time to finally take her in a new direction.

The X-men were inspired by the political ideologies of the Civil Rights Movement. Magneto represented the early views of Malcolm X and Charles Xavier represented the early ideologies of Martin Luther King Jr.

I’d like to expand on that political discourse with Scott Summers and Jean Grey. Like Xavier and Magneto, I see them as representing the views of the later generations of the Civil Rights movement.

In more recent comics Cyclops has become more radical like Magneto. But I kind of see him more like a member of the Black Panther party which was an offshoot of SNCC. He started off as a loyal soldier in the Mutant Rights movement with noble intentions, but wound up becoming frustrated with the lack of progress, and what he saw as compromises by Xavier and other old school mutants (stuff like the Illuminati). Originally the biggest supporter of Xavier’s dream, he now works against it and wants mutants to be segregated from human society.

And on the other end of the spectrum, we have Logan working towards preserve Professor X’s original dream of mutants and humans working together in an integrated society at a school with Jean’s name on it.

I always found that to be illogical, because Jean Grey never really stood for anything. Because no one knew who Jean Grey ever really was, not even herself. If anything, she was just a follower of Charles Xavier and Cyclops. And whenever things got hard she wouldn’t fight back. She’d just take the easy way out and die.

If I wrote comics, the adult Jean Grey would return to represent a different view of mutants, sort of a moderate view of the struggle. Someone who got tired of the whining and back and forth between the “good” mutants and the “evil” mutants, and their political discourse. Someone tired of the feuding and the infighting, and the political rhetoric. Someone who wants to be a part of the overall superhero community and fight against injustices against both mutants and humans as one of Earth’s heroes. Someone who makes an effort to be an example to the students of that school that it’s actually possible to achieve their own dreams.

From the time I was reading comics only four mutants have ever actually achieved Xavier’s dream and become full-time established superheroes in the Marvel Universe. Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and The Beast and Kitty Pryde. And at the time only two of them graduated from Xavier’s school. Since the mid 1980s Xavier’s school doesn’t produce superheroes. It produces victims.

And Jean Grey is the biggest victim in the Marvel Universe. Every time her character runs into conflict she doesn’t try to overcome it. Instead she plays the martyr and makes a “sacrifice”. Basically it’s another way for her to give up and wimp out. If readers look at her history she’s never really fought back. Not like Hank Pym, Carol Danvers, Tony Stark or Steve Rogers when they ran into obstacles. Not like they did when they hit rock bottom.

There is something worse than death for Jean Grey: That’s being forced to solve her own problems. And there’s where her story should begin in Marvel NOW.

The way I see it, the X-men were Jean’s crutch for 20 years. And it’s time she stood up on her own two feet working as her own hero and pursuing her own dream. Working with non-mutant heroes like Spider-man and Captain America and taking on some of Marvel’s villains like Dr. Doom and Thanos. Doing stuff like stopping a bank robberies and living life outside of Mutant side of the Marvel universe.

An A-list X-character who allows readers to take a break from the oh-woe-is me I’m a mutant narrative that’s played in X-books for the last 35 years. I think there’d be some great stories to tell with Jean as she explored the Marvel Universe on her own. Unfortunately, Marvel is too afraid to tell them. When it comes to female characters, comic companies seem to always get cold feet.

I always felt Jean could’ve joined their ranks of Xavier graduates like The Beast who went out and became full-time freelance superheroes. Over the past 40 years Jean has a huge following of readers. And I think she could carry her own title if Marvel would finally take her story in a new direction. One where readers finally found out who Jean Grey really is.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mourning The Passing of Jim Hellwig, The Ultimate Warrior

This Tuesday Jim Hellwig, the wrestler known as The Ultimate Warrior passed away at the age of 54. My condolences go out to his wife and his two daughters.

The Ultimate Warrior wasn’t just a wrestling legend. He was an ICON. A Wrestling GOD. If you grew up during the mid-1980s and early 1990s you knew who The Ultimate Warrior was. With his big heavy metal hair, ripped muscular physique, and colorful facepaint he stood out from all the WWF Superstars from the first day he debuted.

When you heard that heavy metal music start and saw him run down the aisle into the ring and start shaking the top ropes, you weren’t just watching a match, you were watching an EVENT. I can still remember watching his first matches on WWF Superstars on Channel 9 on Saturday afternoons. The Ultimate Warrior didn’t just squash jobbers, he squashed jobbers with STYLE.

Most Ultimate Warrior matches didn’t last that long, but man, you sure remembered them. The one move I remembered him using in his matches was that gorilla press slam. I’d never seen anyone just pick up a guy, hold him over his head and then drop him like that at 13. I still remember watching him destroy the Honky Tonk Man in 30 seconds to win the Intercontinental title like it was yesterday.

The Ultimate Warrior was one of the trinity elite Main Event WWF Superstars up there with Hulk Hogan and the late Macho Man Randy Savage. His feuds with Ravishing Rick Rude, Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, and Macho King Randy Savage are cornerstones in the WWF’s history during the 1980s Rock N’ Wrestling era.

The legacy of the Ultimate Warrior can still be felt in the ring to this day. Batista pays homage to him every time when he shakes the top rope before going for his finisher the Batista Bomb.

I was a big Ultimate Warrior fan from 13 onwards and my cousin was when he saw his first wrestling matches 5. He had the first Hasbro Ultimate Warrior action figure and he even had an Ultimate Warrior towel set! When I had money, I wanted to buy the WWE Legends Ultimate Warrior that came with the Intercontienental Championship, to remind me of that classic Honky Tonk Man squash match but I couldn’t find it due to Mattel’s crappy distribution. One of these days I plan on owning that figure.

When I heard about the death of the Ultimate Warrior I was shocked. His death hit me pretty hard. Just as hard as when I heard about Michael Jackson’s and just recently Harold Ramis’. These men were icons of my childhood. The heroes I grew up looking up to. Hearing about them pass makes me realize how little time I have left on Earth and how little time I have to make an impact on others while I’m here.

Reading about the last days of The Ultimate Warrior showed me how God works in mysterious ways. Jim Hellwig had issues with lots of people in the wrestling business for years. But over Wrestlemania weekend while he was being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, he able to make peace with all those people as he saw them one last time.

I’d have to say that’s a blessing from God.

Listening to the speech he gave on Monday Night Raw this week before he passed, I’d have to say in his soul he knew he was leaving this world. And it was his way of saying goodbye to the audience.

I had to write this blog to say Thank you to the Ultimate Warrior. Thank you so much for so many great childhood memories Jim Hellwig. May you Rest in Peace.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Death of Archie Andrews….*YAWN*

Archie Andrews the flagship charcter of Archie Comics is going to die.

Well, not the regular Archie Andrews who has been in comics for over 75 years. The Archie that's going to die is the grown up one who married Betty and Veronica from the magazine series Life With Archie.

Weren’t the1990’s over 20 years ago? Weren't  comics past cop-out stunts like this?

I thought Archie Comics were too good for lame gimmicks like this. Archie Comics looked like they were getting their stuff together creatively. The Archie Marries…magazine was one of the better gimmicks in comics.

The Life With Archie series is sadly ending after the death of Archie Andrews. Like most comics today it’s over with the final 37th issue which transpires One year after Archie’s death.

Where have we heard that from again?

Oh, that horrible DC Comics gimmick after Infinite Crisis that led into the end of the real DC Universe. Or that Horrible Brand New Day storyline which ended Peter Parker’s marriage to Mary Jane Watson.

I’d like to think Archie Comics could do better than re-hashing lame gimmicks from DC’s desperation playbook and some of the worst 1990’s storytelling.

The big problem with comics today is that there’s no storytelling anymore. Publishers use gimmicks like Hail Marys to get the attention of casual readers, get a little buzz, a short-term sales spike and then…nothing. Good comics go to the quarter bin to die as the next gimmick is promoted by the publisher.

If those same comic publishers put a little more effort into promoting their books instead of pullinig desperate stunts they might get those readers. And a title might make it past the 36th issue. Maybe even get to that elusive 50th or 100th issue.

Publishing is a marathon, not a sprint. And sometimes it can take years for a book to get its legs. Unfortunately, many Comic publishers cut lots of great books off at the knees at around the 36th issue before a creative team can really hit their stride and casual readers can discover the book.

I think Archie’s publishers should have hung in there with Life With Archie. Life With Archie had some great storytelling, on par with Marvel and DC’s best comics. From what I read the characters were human, multi-dimensional, and the stories were downright compelling. For the first time I actually was saying to myself: I can’t believe this was an Archie comic! The quality of the book was that strong.

And the magazine had real distribution, something most comics haven’t had in 20 years. I could actually FIND it at CVS, Rite Aid and other retailers. For $3.99 readers got treated to two worlds and two distinct stories. Archie marries Betty and Archie Marries Veronica. It was a bargain compared to those 20 page comics filled with splash pages we get these days.

I’ll have to admit when I read about the death of Archie Andrews I wasn’t shocked. I was indifferent. That’s not the kind of reaction a publisher wants to a stunt like this.

The truth is there’s been so much death in comics over the last 20 years that it’s lost its sting. Dick Grayson died last week as part of DC Comics latest kajillion issue epic Forever Evil which is nothing but death, death, gore, and more death. And three years ago the REAL DC Universe died and was replaced with the craptacular new 52.

I’d have to say readers are burnt out on the whole death of a character thing. It’s an old tired plot device that writers have used as a crutch to get to the finish line of a story for way too long. Instead of buckling down and coming up with a truly satisfying ending to a story that allows a writer to have a concept for the beginning of the next one, they cop out and use a Deus Ex Machina like the death of a character to finish things up.

That makes much harder for the next writer to start telling their stories. Storytelling is about endings and beginnings, and Comic books are like a relay race. The next writer has to pick up where the last one left off. And when a writer has left a trail of bodies and carnage on the track, the next writer loses momentum as they have to spend six or seven issues cleaning up the mess the last writer left on their run or on the next series featuring those same characters. That keeps readers from getting into the book and it prevents one run from flowing seamlessly into the other. Instead of the focus being on the adventures of the character, it winds up focused on continuity.

As a writer, I hate killing characters. I learned my lesson about killing off characters way back in 2002. When I killed E’steem in the first Isis book. Killing E’steem was the biggest mistake of my writing career. Over 10 years later she’s carrying her own series and is now one of my most popular characters. All it takes is the right story to turn a character around and get readers’ attention.

The problem today is that today’s comic writers don’t dig deep enough to find that right story for a character. I didn’t get the concept for The Temptation of John Haynes until 2005, three years after the publication of Isis. Once I put E’steem in that story, she became a whole different character and dozens of story opportunities opened up for her.

I’d have never discovered how great she was if I had left her for dead. And sadly people aren’t discovering how great many comics characters are because writers take the easy way out and kill them off before they reach their potential.

For me, the death of a character is a last, last last resort. And it should only be used if it allows a writer the possibility to build another story out of it. When executed well, death has a powerful impact on the reader like the death of Gwen Stacy, Jason Todd, Jean Grey, or Bucky Barnes. But these days too many comic book writers are too busy trying use death as an exclamation point to end a story when a period has a much stronger impact on the reader.