The misadventures of a first time father

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Lacey & Lily – a graphic novel from Darby Pop Publishing

What would you do if you suddenly found yourself with super powers? 

It’s the question a middle school girl named Lacey finds herself facing when she and her dog stumble across a pair of costumes that do just that, imbuing both kid and canine with powers beyond those of mere mortals. 

It’s Lacey & Lily!

This all-ages graphic novel is the latest from Darby Pop Publishing, and if you’re wondering just why I’m plugging it here, it’s not just because I like it, it’s because I wrote it! With some absolutely amazing illustrations from my pal Andrew Cieslinski, this is the sort of thing that has been a dream come true for people like ourselves who grew up as comic fans. 

I’ll never forget my first exposure to comic books. I was in elementary school and was home sick from school at my grandmother’s house when she pulled a stack of comic books out of the hallway closet. They were mostly from the 1970s, gathered over some indeterminate period of time, the brightly covered covers, or in some cases, cover-less splash pages were a completely new world to me, and it sucked me right in. And what a wide array of worlds they were! Uncle Scrooge! Batman! Richie Rich! The Flash! The Thing! It was like nothing I had seen before at that point in my young life. And it was amazing.

First comic I ever read.

Not long after, my uncle would expand that world even more, taking me to a comic book shop for the first time, where I would have to stand on a footstool to reach the tables and boxes filled with books from years past. I used money from my paper route to buy old books. As a kid I used to make crudely drawn comic stories that I’d photocopy and staple together to share. Those moments forever changed the way I read and told stories. And it became something I always hoped I’d get the opportunity to do.

And some decades later, it happened thanks to Andrew’s incredible art talents and the fine folks at Darby Pop Publishing. 

I thank them, and I thank you for indulging me here. We’re already hard at work on a follow-up volume with brand new adventures, more kooky villains, and more fun with Lacey, Lily, and their friend, Weston.

Words can’t describe the feeling after growing up reading comics to have a box arrive from the publisher on your doorstep with your own books inside, let alone to see the kind words people have said about it emblazoned on the cover. Though I’m overly wordy here (shocking), at that moment I think I was pretty much speechless. 

But I think maybe the greatest reviews I can ever get are those that come from kids themselves. Someone who stopped me at my kids’ school to tell me how much they loved it, or walking into my son’s room late at night to find out why he wasn’t asleep yet only to find him curled up with a flashlight reading Lacey & Lily and wanting to talk about it with me. My heart swelled.

I hope you’ll check it out, pick up a copy, and enjoy it as much as we’ve enjoyed creating it.

Available Now from Darby Pop Publishing’s Online Store

Also available on Amazon or from your Local Comic Shop (Diamond Order Code JUN201024)


Shazam and SivanaA rare opportunity presented itself this past weekend. Some close friends of more than 25 years got in touch to let me know that they were headed to the movies that very night, for a late (late by my standards these days) screening of Shazam! at 9:40. Was I interested?

By that time, the kids would be asleep. Meg was fine whether I went or stayed, with no plans on our end either way. So, in a rare (these days) display of socialization, I left the house after 9 and headed to the multiplex (do they call them multiplexes still? Is that a dated reference?)

So you went to the movies, you’re saying. What is so weird about that?

I’ll offer you the small bit of perspective that makes this very rare in our personal case: the last time Meg and I went to the movies together was to see Toy Story 3 in 2010. Since then, I went to the movies in Christmas 2017 to see The Last Jedi with my brother-in-law, and when Meg and I (and gramma) took the kids to see Mary Poppins Returns this winter. Those are any movie-going ventures of the last decade. So a cinematic commitment like this was a personal big deal.

shazam - ordwayAnd I was excited. I’ve always enjoyed the Captain Marvel / Shazam characters and story about a boy and his friends gaining adulthood and super powers when they say a magic word. It’s the ultimate in childhood wish fulfillment.

Admittedly, I haven’t read a Shazam comic since Jerry Ordway’s masterpiece of a series Power of Shazam in the 90s (it hasn’t been collected, which is a crime to comics, so if you find issues of the series, pick them up), so I was going in with no contemporary knowledge of the character.

With that said, I loved this movie. Loved it!

It was a superhero movie full of heart and an emphasis on family. The entire cast is dynamite. Zachary Levi, who I loved watching on Chuck back in its day on NBC, was better than I could have imagined as the child in the adult body of a superhero, while Mark Strong made Dr. Thaddeus Sivana more terrifying than I ever would have thought from the comic pages I remember. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy Freeman, Asher Angel as Billy Batson, Grace Fulton as Mary…the list goes on and on, but every single one of them brought an earnestness to the screen that was an absolute delight.

Shazam Family

As I say, there was a lot to this version of the character I was unfamiliar with (but am told can be found in more contemporary comics, which I’ll have to now check out), but none of that mattered as I sat there in the movie theatre. I was in awe. I smiled, I laughed, I got excited every time I heard that magic word and lightning struck, causing the transformation from boy to hero and back again, and me as audience viewer into a kid all over again too.

Far too often I hear cries for realism in comic books and their movie counterparts, especially when it comes to super heroes. But super heroes in and of themselves are, you know what? Not that realistic. So if we’re skewing reality anyway, why not make them fun, and maybe even uplifting? It’s what Christopher Reeve’s Superman did, and Shazam does in spades thanks to its stellar cast, sharp script courtesy of Henry Gayden and keen direction of David Sandberg, not to mention the countless other crew and cast members that make a film possible.

It was a delight.

Sure, there were a few “sh!$s” and middle fingers that didn’t bother me but would prevent it from being accessible to younger audiences or a full family with little ones (along with the scariness of the Seven Deadly Sins personified). However, even with that said, it certainly is something I plan to add to my rarely expanding DVD collection for future viewing.

This was hands down the best superhero feature film effort I’ve seen from Warner Bros / DC Comics in the past decade or so and should be the tonal template by which other superhero movies follow.

And as I try to avoid any and all spoilers, please, stay for the credits. As if the film itself didn’t carry enough easter eggs for fans of the Big Red Cheese, the mid-credits scene brought in one of my all-time favorite villains and sets up a potential plot for another installment.

“More ways than a mind can imagine,” indeed.

If this is what lies ahead, sign me up now.

Shazam!

Bring on the sequel.

shazam mr mind


© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporationThis past weekend I turned 33 and one of the things everybody asks me is “what did you do for your birthday?”

The non-intrusive answer is “spent time with the family,” but the real answer is – I got sick. And so did Meg. And so was the baby.

It’s oddly becoming a bit of a yearly tradition for the household to get sick when my birthday rolls around. If it hasn’t been me one year, it’s been Meg. If not her, me. It goes back and forth. Only this time, we had an entire household hacking and wheezing and blowing our nose. For the record, the baby hates it when you wipe boogies from his nose and face.

We made the best of it, even though the baby was pretty cranky. I can’t say I blame him. When I get sick, I get miserable. I hate feeling that way, so for someone so small and new to the world, I can’t imagine what it must be like to deal with a sore throat, a cough, mucus, etc, ESPECIALLY when you can’t tell people how awful you feel other than with a cry or scream.

starman omnibus 5I got some nice shirts and a tie for work from Meg and the little guy, as well as two graphic novels I’m really looking to delve into (Madame Xanadu by Matt Wagner, and a volume of the Starman Omnibus by James Robinson). 

So, while birthday dinner consisted of some beef vegetable soup and tea, with birthday cake Meg made for dessert (although she made some delicious steak the following night), we spent it together. We watched some TV, we did some laundry, we relaxed with the baby (when he’d allow it of course), but the important thing is, we did it all as a family.

I guess The family that’s sick together stays together.

The next day I was committed to a meet and a greet at a Home Show in casino event center about 45 minutes or so away. So, with cups of tea firmly in my hand, I plowed through, said hello to some folks, took a good ribbing from others who wondered why the heck I was there promoting myself and the news station I work for, but generally had a nice time.

After that, I caught up with some good friends I hadn’t seen in a while for a lunch (mine consisting of soup and water, of course, with the current state of things). This is the same crew who I occasionally hit up a comic show with. These days, schedules as a parent have just not been conducive to really catching up with folks the way I used to, so it was nice to see them for a little bit, and geek out over what comic titles we were reading that had been cancelled, who was working on what projects, and just what they were each up to in their lives. They’re good people, and I’m glad that we still find time, even if it’s only occasionally, to catch up.

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporation

Not Me – random stock image of ‘man coughing’

Today, I was off from work and took advantage of the time to go to a nearby Urgent Care Center where they determined I have Bronchitis.

I’m not the type to really take medicine if I don’t have to, but this thing has been knocking me on my butt for days now. In fact, last night, I found myself unable to even take full breaths, and felt like I had a weight sitting on my chest. So I submitted to the prescription and will be heading back to work in the morning, hopefully on somewhat of a road to recovery.



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