The misadventures of a first time father

Tag Archives: comics

Party - Birthday Boy 2We recently had a birthday party for our little guy. It was the first time we ever actually had it at our house. Usually we relied on the kindness of grandparents on both sides to get us through over the years, as our house had long been too small to have anyone over beyond a group of 2 or 4.

With our new digs, though, we figured it was finally time to give it a try, and try we did, not only with family, but this time inviting some of his friends from pre-k to come as well. And was it ever worth it to see the look on his face when he was surprised by the arrival of each of these friends.

Rain the day before and morning of forced us to change up plans a bit, moving from the backyard to the garage. Well, after it was emptied and cleaned out, of course. Then with two pop-up tents from parents placed outside the garage door, and tables and chairs inside, we were good to go as family and friends arrived for this gathering of little heroes.

The theme was his choice (Superheroes), brilliantly executed by Meg with foods that added a heroic flavor such as Captain America Shields (circle pretzels with white chocolate and a red, white or blue M&M in the middle), kryptonite bars (rice krispies treats with drizzled white chocolate and glowy green sprinkles), and some foods that gained their super powers through some signs I made using the PicMonkey app on my phone and a variety of superhero images.

Party signs total

We transformed regular sheet pizza into Plastic Man’s Power Pizza, a vegetable tray into Poison Ivy’s Veggie Platter, and drinks stations became Joker Juice or for the adults, Chief O’Hara’s Adult Beverages (Begorrah!).

Meg also took giant cardboard boxes leftover from a swing set we assembled the week prior and created a backdrop of buildings for little superheroes to have their picture taken by.

Party - Kids and worm

Apparently all we needed for a party were crayons and a worm.

The kids crowded around a table to color super hero print outs, ran around wearing paper super hero masks from Party City and even enjoyed the arrival of a little sunshine just long enough to dry out parts (emphasis on parts…watch your step unless you like mud) to get some time in running through the backyard.

Oh, and never underestimate, much like the crayons and coloring pages, how something as simple as a worm coming out of the ground can create a fascination in a group of children that can be hard to pull them away from.

It felt just plain wonderful.

And when it came time to open gifts and he had oohed and awed over various toys, Legos, and books, I gave him a gift I had spent the past several months putting together for him.

You see, back at Halloween, he designed his own costume, which Meg made come to life – a superhero version of himself.

Hallowen heroes

Us at Halloween as a self-styled superhero version of himself.

But post-Halloween, something wonderful happened. He kept the character going, imagining new adventure after new adventure, as well as a rogues gallery of villains that he was going up against with each backyard or bedroom crime fighting spree. I did my best to covertly take notes of the superpowers, the villain, and turned it into a script for a short comic book story.

I then dusted off my drawing pencils and illustrated the story, handing it over to my good friend and collaborator on two indie comic book series, who graced it with his inks, colors and lettering skills. From there, I sent it out to a comic printer, and upon return, had a limited edition comic book of my son in his super hero persona, solving a mystery, overcoming the very villains he’s created as he plays, and making it to his birthday party to find family and friends waiting.

The shock on his face “Wait…what…how did…how did you get a comic book of…me?” when he opened it was everything. The fact that he asked me to read it for him four separate times that afternoon and again before bed was everything else.

With each passing day, he grows a little more, shows me more of the world and myself than I thought possible, and though not every day is perfect for us, every day he becomes more and more my real-life superhero.

Party - Montage of comic


box of comicsLittle by little over the past few months, we’ve been clearing out much of our home office, converting it into a hybrid office/nursery with the arrival of our newest addition. Packing books up, taking down wall art not quite suitable for a newborn, and taking the numerous boxes filled with comic books and packing them away in our basement.

Part of that process includes protecting them from the elements and time, so each comic is placed in a protective plastic with a flap taped on the back to keep moisture, dust and other undesirables out.

Here and there during a nap time, I’ll take a few minutes and go down to the basement and work a little more on bagging up the books and filing them away in a box, on a shelf, for posterity and safe keeping.

During a recent session of ‘archiving,’ though, I found myself swept away by the various memories associated with these books, accumulated over a lifetime of reading, and yet, carrying with them numerous lives, numerous versions of me, long gone.

With every piece of tape snapped, every comic bagged, boarded and slid away into a box, I realized so with it was a small piece of me. By that I mean it was like flipping through the pages of a yearbook unearthed after years in a box. Many of these books I hadn’t seen in decades. Music playing from Pandora as I worked (some Steve Winwood, some Asia, Phil Collins, all music I used to hear growing up in the 80s, often while I sat reading this comics originally), I was transported to the various parts of my life that coincided with each of these books.

JSA comicEach one a representation in some weird way of who I was at any given time. Of what I was going through, feeling, of who I was, be it the kid sitting under his bedroom window at 13, wondering if the girls playing down the street were going to come knocking at the window; the 20 year old who, after several years away from them, started picking up comics again while away at college, finding comfort while away from home in things that re-connected me to my childhood, yet opened my eyes to storytelling, characters, and perspectives I had never quite known of (thank you, indie comics); the 24 year old, out of college, trying to find his place in the world, thriving on creating art in the form of low budget filmmaking, yet finding inspiration and solace in the full-color panels of the comic pages; or the 27 year old single journalist, coming home exhausted, wanting nothing more than to crash on the couch, casually grabbing a floppy comic book from the ever-growing reading pile on the end table as time started becoming more of a commodity.

Or today. Though the books are incredibly fewer than ever before, the reading piles still add up with the day-to-day responsibilities of a worker, a husband, a father, a homeowner. They’re still there, though. Connecting the me of today with all the mes of the past.

I have been so many different people in my lifetime already. A son. A brother. A friend. A student. A newspaper delivery boy. A restaurant host. An actor. A library aide. A coffee barista. A film projectionist. An indie filmmaker. A newspaper reporter. A comic book writer. A news anchor. And a father.

Sometimes it can be difficult to reconcile all of those identities into one being today, the same yet different in so many ways.

This is not necessarily a negative thing. What it is, I think, is a reminder.

Flash comicWe grow, we change, we learn from our experiences and transform into a new being made up of and shaped by the lessons, mistakes, and thoughts of our past. We shake away the being we are unhappy with, even in the smallest of increments, on a never-ending journey to transform, to become better. In effect, the old us dies and is reborn as something new, molded by our experiences.

We all have our own “comics,” our own items carried with us throughout our lives that carry with them the remnants of our own past.  And when we occasionally uncover them, it’s like an archaeological dig to rediscover when we were, where we were, who we were, and most importantly, who we’ve become.


Halloween Comics 2015For the past several years (at least since becoming homeowners), I’ve tried to do something a little different than the standard candy giveaway on Halloween night.

I’m by no means the person handing out toothbrushes or bags of pennies that I sometimes encountered when I was a kid, but I do like to break things up a little bit from the sugary sweets that kids find at so many houses on that night of ghouls.

So, in what has become a bit of a tradition, I hand out comic books to kids coming to our door. Age appropriate, of course.

It began with piles of coverless comics that I would buy in bulk from my local comic book store. Often times they were from the 70s or 80s and had lost much value due to their lack of cover. So, the store was just looking to get them off their hands, selling them in piles for around $2-3.

I couldn’t resist. They ranged from talking animals (Disney Ducks, my favorite!) to long-underwear wearing Superman or Batman (the classic derring do-gooders of yesteryear. Not the dark avengers so commonplace today).

And with piles in hand, I would hand out books to kids as they made their way up our front steps.

Another year I was not so lucky to find such coverless treasures, so I would raid 50 cent bins, but that could get pricey. Sometimes I’d just go through piles of comics I didn’t want anymore that I knew would take more time and effort to sell than they were worth.

Then, last year, something quite fantastic happened. Comic book companies and distributors got together and following in the steps of the annual Free Comic Book Day (traditionally in May), began offering stacks of full-color mini-comics specifically to be handed out on Halloween in what they call Halloween ComicFest.

Fortunately for me, my local comic shop was participating and for $5 I was able to purchase a pack of 20 comic books to hand out to the ghosts and ghouls at our door. With different titles to choose from, I spent $20 and walked away with four packs. That’s four different comic titles totaling 80 books. We were well-stocked and fortunately for me, well-received when kids would come by.

Those kids who didn’t care for the comics had a choice of a small, plastic Halloween toy, like a spider-ring or vampire teeth, that my wife had the foresight to pick up.

So, I followed suit this year, with three packs of comics safe for all ages – Archie, Grimmiss Island, and the Boom Studios Halloween Haunt, featuring various short comic stories that are safe for kids but can entertain adults as well. And this year there’s 25 comics in a pack, so I got more bang for my buck!

I really recommend it.

And I won’t lie. When there’s a lull, I tend to sneak a few reads while I’m waiting for the kids.


© Copyright 2013 CorbisCorporationAs years have passed and I’ve moved from high school student to college student, part-time worker to full-time worker, then full-time worker in the news business (which is a 24/7 business), becoming a parent (another 24/7 job), I have found my window of free time shrinking more and more. That has meant less time for family, fr friends, and for bring creative.

When you are drowned in your work from the moment you open your eyes, with emails, texts, calls, etc. until you go to bed at night, there is little time left for bonding, let alone to let your mind travel to that creative place it visited so much in the past.

I think that’s why I get so sad when I see old work or writings by my younger self.

I’ll be so proud at how imaginative it is. Then, I’ll realize how I haven’t been that creative in so long and I wonder if I’m doomed to a day-to-day hamster wheel that leaves my imagination outside of the cage.

WP_000088That’s why I leapt at the chance to take a workshop with writer J.M. DeMatteis back in May. With my wife’s encouragement, I headed out-of-town for a few days of creativity, writing and a re-awakening of something inside me thought to be long gone.

Called Imagination 101, I was among a small group of very talented individuals, spending our days, brainstorming, creating, encouraging and feeding off of each other’s energy. It was wonderful and it reminded me that if you don’t flex your imagination like a muscle, it will become just as flabby.

Even if it’s a little bit of time each day, it can make all the difference in the world. I admit it’s very hard to do, but I continue to try. I usually write after the little guy has gone to sleep or if I wake up on a weekend before he and my wife do.

What had happened over time was that, due to the lack of time, I would begin to look at a writing project that I once was so excited about as just one more thing on my to-do list. When that happens, it becomes drudgery, it became work.

If there is one thing for me to have walked away from the Imagination 101 workshop with, it’s that writing should be like play. If you can get back in touch with your nine-year old self and make whatever you’re writing the same kind of fun it was then, to make it like play, then your pilot light of creativity will never go out.

WP_000090

I thank J.M. so much for his inspiration and the encouragement of those in the workshop with me – Noah, Raymond, Nicole and David – you all helped me go back to the ‘real world’ with a recharged battery and a rejuvenated sense of confidence in my creativity.

Like Golden Age superhero Johnny Quick and his magical formula for super-speed, J.M. gave us a formula to keep that fire of imagination going:

Imagination + Creativity = Play


Right up front, I’ll be honest – this post is more dorky than it is daddy.

My cover as a comic book fan was blown a long time ago. I’ve been into comics since I was a wee lad and while my tastes have changed over the years, I still very much enjoy the comic book format.

That’s why it has been a dream come true for me recently to be a part of a comic book project myself, as a creator.

Holidaze is the bar where all our favorite holiday and mythical icons of childhood meet, drink, chat, and get into all kinds of trouble. Think of it kind of like “Cheers,” but with holiday characters. I admit up front, this one’s not for the kiddies.

HOLIDAZE WEB PAGE jpeg

The second issue just hit digital newsstands, but I’ve waited until we were at issue two before I mentioned it on here for two very big reasons.

The first reason being that the first issue was a short story, and was released around Christmas, with a Christmas-themed story. The artist and I really thought that issue two gave a much better idea of where we were taking the series beyond stories about the holidays themselves. Issue Two, we think, really shows what the series is about – it’s about the characters of the holidays and what their lives are like, not necessarily the holiday itself.

Secondly, having issue two come out just serves as a sort of validation that, yes, this is, in fact, a series. Not a one-shot, not a special, but a legitimate series.

It’s available for multiple reading devices, whether it be your iPad, iPhone, Nook, Kindle, or any tablet with those apps. We’re also working and hoping to be on Comixology in the near future as well, but that’s a work in progress.

It’s been a labor of love and something I’ve been having an absolute blast getting to make into a reality. It’s different from anything else I think I’ve ever written, and while it’s definitely a more offbeat, adult sense of humor, I really do think it’s a lot of fun.

So, for any of you comic book fans like myself out there, here’s some links below. Please, give it a read and check it out. I hope you like it.

Holidaze #2When Patty’s pot of gold is stolen by a ruthless thug, his luck begins to change. But is it for the better or the worse? Find out why they call it the “Luck of the Irish” Available on iTunes, Nook, and Kindle.

Holidaze #1When Santa over-indulges on Christmas Eve, the other holiday icons band together to try and make his rounds. If they don’t, they risk the children of the world ending their belief in Santa, and soon them, ending all of their existence.  Available on iTunes, Nook, and Kindle.

If you dig it, feel free to give us a thumbs up and a ‘like’ over at the Holidaze Facebook page.

If not, well, I’ll be back to more parenting posts shortly. 🙂



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