And bring me the passengers...
Chapter 43: This one's a bummer.
Same signing but all different!
Stuff I did write!
Stuff I didn’t write!
Each day more heartbreaking than the last!
The mixtape! - Baby’s gone.
I’m going to talk about comic stuff first because that feels less gross to me than having to talk about comics stuff after. Still feels gross. But I guess I have to show up and do my job even in a hell week like this one.
Remember how I made a big deal about how we were signing at the grand opening of the new THIRD EYE COMICS in College Park, MD next weekend? Well… we aren’t. Turns out some personal stuff came up and we can’t make it. Truly a heartbreaker and we beg and urge you, if you were going to the grand opening to see us, please still go. Third Eye is one of the best comic shops in the world and it will be a guaranteed blast.
With that said, we didn’t want to totally leave people in the lurch. So we are coming to Third Eye Comics flagship store in Annapolis this Wednesday instead. We’ll be signing WHAT’S THE FURTHEST PLACE FROM HERE? vol. 1 and WHAT’S THE FURTHEST PLACE FROM HERE? #7 (or anything you bring us really). Same fun lineup- Series artist and co-creator Tyler Boss, issue #7 guest artist Josh Hixson, and dumb ol’ me. I know it’s last minute but we’ll make it fun. If you’re around come on out because this may be my only signing this year.
Speaking of, it’s a big release week for me with 4 new releases on shelves. Trust me, I think that’s as stupid as you do. First up-
Collecting the first 6 issues of Tyler, Hassan, and my ongoing series, in an irresponsibly long 272 pages! A bunch of shops have limited edition bookplates signed by Tyler and I, but those will go quick. I hope. So check and see if your shop got them. Either way grab it at your local comic shop today. Don’t have one?
And remember, it’s only in comic shops now. If you want to pick it up at a book shop or one of those giant-mega corporations you’ll have to wait a bit longer.
If you’re getting that you should also get this-
For WHAT’S THE FURTHEST PLACE FROM HERE? #7 we are joined by brilliant guest artist Josh Hixson who you may know from such awesome comics as SHANGHAI RED about a kidnapped lady turned pirate, THE PLOT about an ancient curse returning to haunt a family, and BATMAN/FORTNITE which is about spending two weeks with Batman. Josh is really a brilliant artist and we’re so happy to have him telling this flashback story with us.
A little one shot to tide you over until DC VS VAMPIRES returns next month. DC VS VAMPIRES: KILLERS is the story of Harley Quinn as she makes her way through Gotham after it has fallen to the vampire army. Mike Bowden, Antonia Fabela, and the rest of the team crafted a real wild time. Check out the sweet Hicham Habchi cover. Also this issue has a joke about Clayface that will either make you very happy or very sad depending on whether or not you find sewage funny.
TASK FORCE Z #9 is out and Eddy Barrows returns to art duties in this gorgeous issue that blah blah blah. You’re just buying it for Eddy’s awesome art. I don’t blame you. But for the 3 of you who read the book for the story, yes Mister Bloom says some weird stuff here. Is he my favorite character to write? Maybe. Is he the character that I have to delete the most dialogue from because of DC’s Standards & Practices? Maybe. Are these things related? Definitely.
I had to include the above cover because it is the first time I’ve ever had a James Harren cover on one of my books and holy shit is it awesome. Look at his Solomon Grundy! So gigantic. So monstrous. So handsome. I’ve loved James’s art since I first saw it years ago on ABE SAPIEN. And when I used to work in a comic shop James would come in sometimes and he always super nice. So you can buy this comic knowing at least one of the people who worked on it is nice. Pick up this cover or the regular covers in shops this week. And pick up James’s excellent book ULTRAMEGA in collected edition now.
It’s never not weird to just go on and on about my own books. So in an effort to assuage my guilt, here are some comics I didn’t make that I think you should check out this week-
LIEBESTRASSE tpb by Greg Lockard and Tim Fish. During the final years of the Weimar Republic, Sam meets Philip in Berlin and they fall in love. Their romance is hit with an unspeakable reality as the Nazis come to power and fascism makes them a target.
DEATHSTROKE INC #10 by Ed Brisson and Dexter Soy. Ed takes over Deathstroke, a character he was born to write, in this explosive new arc. Slade Wilson's blood-drenched past and exploits are well chronicled, but how did Slade become the infamous assassin and mercenary known as Deathstroke? What dark turns did his life take that set him on the path of destruction that would tear his family apart? Find out as "Deathstroke: Year One" begins...
PUBLIC DOMAIN #1 by Chip Zdarsky. Syd Dallas is responsible for pop culture's greatest hero: THE DOMAIN! But his sons Miles and David have a complicated relationship with both the creation and their creator. Can they convince their dad to fight for their family's legacy?
This fun and heartfelt series written and illustrated by Eisner winner CHIP ZDARSKY (SEX CRIMINALS, Daredevil) explores a WILD ALTERNATE WORLD where comic book creators aren't properly acknowledged or compensated for their creations!! Crazy, I know!!
A couple thoughts on the state of the world and my place in it.
I’ve spent a couple days going back and forth on what to write here. It is a simple debate really. What is the role of art in the world. What is the role of the artist. What is the role of the artist’s newsletter. (I added that part). The debate is formed from two simple ideas- Art is an artist’s way of expressing themselves, and in doing so communicating their ideas, feelings, and beliefs to the audience. Or art is an audience’s refuge from the real world, a chance at escapism free from the everyday burdens of life. Obviously it’s more complicated than that binary, but those are the core ideas I weigh a lot.
And what I decided a long time ago is that these two ideas are not as oppositional as I was lead to believe. It is possible for a work to be personal and passionate and still serve as someone’s escape. It’s possible to talk about big ideas and the struggles of one’s soul while still giving the audience a chance to put aside their life and participate in the work. The problem comes from the fact that our culture, in all its divided glory, has gotten the political and the personal hopelessly confused and now the two can’t be separated.
I have always felt that the political is of course personal. How could it not be? Politics impact every facet of your life. Who you vote for and what you support isn’t some abstraction, it speaks to who you are as a person and how you think others should be treated. The problem comes from the fact that we are in an era where we’ve allowed things to get reversed. The personal has become political. And from that, discussing the political has become unseemly. So we stand at this crossroads where people wanting to be able to be who they are, love who they want, seeing themselves and their loved ones be treated as equals, wanting them be safe, is all political now. People having control over their own bodies is political. And after making those things political, the next step is trying to make discussing politics taboo. But this is the moral low ground. It is the last line of defense of indefensible positions.
I know talking about this stuff will lose me subscribers (buh-bye) and maybe lose me readers of my work. But I also know that I am a semi-intelligent adult and I have the ability to see and interact with ideas that I don’t believe in or agree with. I do it all the time. And I hope that my work, both here and in my fiction, finds a similar audience. Not similar in beliefs, but similar in the faith that interactions with other ideas, having your beliefs tested and examined, is not only okay, it’s valuable.
I’m not saying all my work is thinly veiled pro-choice, anti-gun, pro-immigrant, anti-war, pro-lgtbq+, anti-prison, pro-worker, anti-fascist, pro-diversity and inclusion diatribes. I am saying that all my work is going to come from a writer who is all those things. But I am trusting you, the readers, to understand that the art you consume comes from personal places, because it comes from real people. It comes from self exploration and it comes from artists challenging themselves and their ideas. You may not always see that in the text, or in the paint, or on the screen, but it’s there. No art of value has nothing to say. That’s true even if you didn’t hear what it was saying.
I will always try to entertain. And I will always try to give people an honest piece of myself in my work. It won’t always succeed in one way or the other, but I will try. I’m not sure you’d be able to find anything honest or worthwhile being said in EDGE OF VENOMVERSE #1 for example, but the art is nice.
So why am I bringing all this up? Because I sit down to write this newsletter every week (*cough*week-ish*cough*) and I measure how much of myself I really want to put in and how much I should. It’s not some great secret that a lot of writers have newsletters for a simple reason- we want to sell you books. That’s the cynical way of stating it, but it’s not untrue. We want to connect with our readers, shares bits of ourselves, and, in doing so, make connections that eventually sell more books. I actually like the first two parts a lot and am thankful you all allow me the opportunity. But the transactional nature of this is always in the background. So when I say that the work comes from deeply personal places, this newsletter is an extension of that. This is me without the funny characters to hide behind.
But it is also the other thing. It is an extension of me trying to sell books and so I don’t come on here and say a bunch of wild shit trying to bum people out or make things weird between us. But I have to trust that you, or most of you, want to connect with an honest version of the person behind the work. All of these conflicts come to a head on weeks like this though.
The United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade this week, erasing almost 50 years of human rights and progress in this country. It is a move that is wildly unpopular with the vast majority of this country, a move pushed by an outspoken religious group in defiance of the Bill of Rights, and it is a move that will endanger and kill women across the country. To say this is one of the most shameful moments in our country’s modern history is an understatement. We are in one of those moments that only further deepens an ever growing divide in our nation. And it broke my fucking heart thinking of all the people who will suffer because of this.
So when I sit down to write this little letter do I deny that I am a real person who cares about other people, and is pained and scared by what the future holds? Do I just ignore what has been on my mind for days now? And if so, for what? To not alienate a few readers? That doesn’t feel honest to me. And maybe it’s smart, from a business standpoint, but pretending not to care about people isn’t the business I want to be in. If it was, I wouldn’t be a writer. So here I am, at a loss for words, looking for hope in times that feel really hopeless. And I am hoping some of you find a measure of solace in that, knowing others are sad and scared and angry too. Honestly, I don’t have a lot more to add to the Supreme Court conversation that hasn’t been said by smarter and more articulate people. But it would be dishonest not to acknowledge my pain, sadness, and anger. And it would be dishonest not to proudly and loudly say that I stand with the majority of Americans who believe that control or a woman’s body, a pregnant person’s body, any body, should be in the hand of that individual and not the government. And I don’t want to be dishonest here.
If you are as sad, and hurt, and outraged as me and so many others, there are things you can do. The list of places and ways to support will only grow in the coming days, but in the meantime here is a list of abortion access providers in every state that could use donations to ensure that people have a choice.
And if you do not agree with me on this, thank you for taking the time to read it anyway.
I read this twitter thread two nights ago and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Click on the image to read a truly heartbreaking story about what we lose when oversimplify things.
This song meant a lot to me when I was a little kid and it breaks my heart that it still does.
Stay safe. Take care of each other. Let your voice be heard.