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Why I Am Not Attending Indiana Comic Con

Posted in Uncategorized on 02/01/2014 by gdwessel

Before I get too far on this particular post, I’m just going to caveat it with, I wish I didn’t feel the need to write it. But after yesterday’s debacle, I feel it’s better served by getting it out there rather than letting it fester like a boil.

Indianapolis, the city I’ve lived in for pretty much my entire adult life, has two debut comic conventions this year: Indiana Comic Con (March 14-16) and Indy Pop Con (May 30-June 1). Seems strange we get not one but two major shows debuting in 2014, but there you go.

Thursday night, Indiana Comic Con announced on their Facebook they were holding their “Official After-Party” at a place in downtown, called Bartini’s, which, to put it mildly, isn’t really my scene, but that’s beside the point. A party I was taken to during GenCon was at a place that wasn’t really my scene either, yet I attended regardless. Anyway.

As part of the announcement, they included a picture of Mystique from the X-Men movie franchise, with the text that there would be “dancers painted as superheroes!” I’m guessing bodypainted, possibly topless. The text of the announcement called them “shot girls,” meaning, to me, the Indiana Comic Con nor Bartini’s really knew what the Hell they were dealing with. I’d show you the exact ad, except… well, I get ahead of myself.

Be that as it may, as an official Indiana Comic Con event, this says to me that their opinions of the female attendees (and sparse invited guests) came down to “We got LIVE DANCING NUDE GIRLS.”

Naturally, people objected. And, when the notion of being able to see naked breasts is at stake, people objected to the objections. I personally was on the side saying this was ridiculous:

As an actual member of the comic creation community (you know, the people who make the produkt geek culture is all about celebrating) who also lives in the city of Indianapolis, allow me to also voice my dismay at this. There is no need for this, and it does give the comic community a bad image. There are events like this that happen all the time at other cons around the country, sure, burlesque shows and the like; the difference is, they are not the official con-branded after party. This says, to me, that what we (yes, WE) are all about is painted up dancing naked ladies, and that’s Indiana Comic Con for ya. Well, horsehockey. Comics people, especially comic makers, already have a bad enough rep of being overgrown manchildren obsessed with superheroine boooooobies, and this does nothing to stop that. Especially in contrast to a growing number of sexual harrassment stories from women finally brave enough to step forward, in this environment. The response from this con is “Look, Supergirl’s tits, officially endorsed!” If this is how this show, that I was looking forward to as being in my backyard with a chance to catch up with friends, is presenting itself, count me out.

Which is still my stance, honestly. I could give a shit if a con-related event happened with naked superheroines (or superHEROES, let’s get equal here; I agreed, let’s have mostly naked men at the event too for equal time) because it happens all the time. The main difference here being, this was the Official After-Party. The Indiana Comic Con’s branding was on the ad, and they announced it on their own Facebook page.

Well, some time later, the post (and the shares of it) suddenly disappeared, and Indiana Comic Con announced the cancellation of the event entirely. Which is NOT what anyone had wanted, merely the removal of the Painted Naked Ladies, OR an equal chance for Women/Non-Heterosexual Men to get something to gawk at too.

And thus opened the floodgates of hate speech towards anyone who objected.

And yes, hate speech. It’s all a LGBTQ conspiracy. Political correctness at it’s worst. We’re all just trying to ruin this con. Women being groped at cons is a myth. Sexual harrassment at shows doesn’t happen. Women are trying to ruin OUR fun activities. We’re all the same as those who are in favor of HJR-3 (while others are claiming a Gay Conspiracy. Really. You can’t make this up.) You’re not a REAL professional was something lobbed at me more than once. Which, hilarious, but… hardly the worst that was being said.

And as is usual when something happens, and Boobs are terkin erwray, absolutely nobody wanted to listen to reason. Why if this was an official convention of your field of work, maybe it might not be such a good thing to advertise a pseudo-stripshow under the official trade dressing of your show.

Instead, hate speech, threats, and the like, were the majority. With Indiana comic Con’s FB moderators seemingly doing fuck all about the threats towards anyone.

So, at that point, rather than belabor any further, I’ve decided that instead of dropping $150 for a table at Artist Alley (when, really, I have nothing to sell ready), or even the ticket price to attend (and my kids can get in FREE all days too), I really have absolutely nothing in common with the show, or the people attending if the people hurling abuse at anyone who, heaven forbid, wanted to feel welcome at the show, or it’s Official After-Party, are anything to go by, then they can have their show.

And I’m not the only one who is a creator in this city who’s abstaining. I’ve already been reached out to by several other comickers in Indianapolis who are pulling out of the show, or reconsidering doing it.

It’s a shame. There were a few people I would have loved to reconnect with at Indiana Comic Con, and who knows, there’s always the Hilton bars right nearby. But that will be done after-hours, or away from the show entirely.

Feel free to spread this around if you want. I’m not going to advocate a boycott of Indiana Comic Con. But I also don’t think the show has done anything very impressive in proving they are willing to provide a safe, welcome environment for ALL who want to attend, professional or otherwise. And again, it’s another black mark against the fan culture that goes part and parcel with the artistic profession I’ve chosen to be a part of.

If anyone from Indiana Comic Con happens to read this, and wishes to reply, be my guest, I will run it here. But frankly, from what little I’ve seen, your show doesn’t impress me much.

(And yes, I am still due to exhibit in Artist Alley at Indy Pop Con)

Thanks for your time.

SYSTEM S.H.O.C.K. Episode 7 NOW LIVE!

Posted in Uncategorized on 01/27/2014 by gdwessel

Volume 8 Issue 7 of the Digital Comic of the Year (according to readers at Pipedream Comics) Aces Weekly is now LIVE. It features the conclusion to “Bloodless Coup,” the first serial of SYSTEM S.H.O.C.K. by ME, Neil Ford & Jim Campbell!

You will also find:
* Blue Cat by James Hudnall & Val Mayerik
* Parassassin by Jasper Bark, Alfa Robbi, Yel Zamor and Bolt 01
* The almighty Combat Colin by Lew Stringer!
* Stupidface by Steve Marchant
* Dark Utopia by Mark Montague

SYSTEM S.H.O.C.K. is due to return on February 18th in Volume 9! Stay tuned, check it out, and come on back! Thanks for reading our debut!

SYSTEM S.H.O.C.K. Episode 6 now LIVE at ACES WEEKLY

Posted in Uncategorized on 01/20/2014 by gdwessel

Volume 8 Issue 6 of the Digital Comic of the Year (according to readers at Pipedream Comics) Aces Weekly is now LIVE. It features SYSTEM S.H.O.C.K. by ME, Neil Ford & Jim Campbell! Only one episode left in this serial!

You will also find:
* Blue Cat by James Hudnall & Val Mayerik
* Parassassin by Jasper Bark, Alfa Robbi, Yel Zamor and Bolt 01
* Panzer Tripod by Reza Benhadj
* Cryptoons by Martin Divel
* Dark Utopia by Mark Montague

Come see what made Aces Weekly Pipedream Comics readers’ Digital Comic of the Year today!

SYSTEM S.H.O.C.K. Episode 5 Now LIVE!

Posted in Uncategorized on 01/13/2014 by gdwessel

HEY GANG. Aces Weekly Volume 8 Issue 5 is now LIVE. It features SYSTEM S.H.O.C.K. by ME, Neil Ford & Jim Campbell, and things are coming to a head here!

You will also find:
* Blue Cat by James Hudnall & Val Mayerik
* Parassassin by Jasper Bark, Alfa Robbi, Yel Zamor and Bolt 01
* Panzer Tripod by Reza Benhadj
* Cryptoons by Martin Divel
* Dark Utopia by Mark Montague

Come along for the ride!

SYSTEM S.H.O.C.K. Episode 4 NOW LIVE

Posted in Uncategorized on 01/06/2014 by gdwessel

HEY GANG. Aces Weekly Volume 8 Issue 4 is now LIVE. It features SYSTEM S.H.O.C.K. by ME, Neil Ford & Jim Campbell, and probably the panel of the serial inside of it as well!

You will also find:
* Blue Cat by James Hudnall & Val Mayerik
* Parassassin by Jasper Bark, Alfa Robbi, Yel Zamor and Bolt 01
* Panzer Tripod by Reza Benhadj
* Cryptoons by Martin Divel
* Dark Utopia by Mark Montague

We’re halfway through this volume and there’s more to come! Join us, won’t you?!

2013 And All That…

Posted in Uncategorized on 12/31/2013 by gdwessel

It’s that time of year, again. By which I mean, THE END.

As is customary, this seems to be the point where people like to reflect on the past year, and I suppose this is no different. I know from reading many of my friends, and other people I follow, 2013 wasn’t too good a year for them, but me, I can’t complain. About the worst I’ve had to deal with was a pointless legal action during the beginning part of the year, and the Pittsburgh Steelers not having their best season. If that’s all I really had to contend with, I’d say I’ve really not got much to complain about.

On the comics front, I had a story called “Problem Solver” (with art by Michael Bills) come out in Image Comics’ Outlaw Territory 3, which was a LONG time in coming (I got commissioned for it around this time in 2009), but it finally arrived, and I couldn’t have been happier to be in such esteemed company.

As you may have seen once or twice *ahem*, I’ve also started a serial in Aces Weekly called System S.H.O.C.K., drawn by Neil Ford and lettered by Jim Campbell, published by the one and only David Lloyd. That alone is a dream come true, working with someone whose work I’ve admired from afar for literal decades.

I also self-published two new comics, in the earlier part of the year, under my new Atypical Comics banner. TAKEDOWN was drawn by Zach Bassett and lettered by Jim Campbell, and got some reasonably good reviews on the internet. I also released another issue of KEEPER, but sadly, artist Jeff Simpson decided to depart from the book not long after its release, and KEEPER has been in a holding pattern ever since. News soon tho, I swear. From both of these, I also learned how to deal with ComiXology, so I can be a bit more prepared for future releases. Hopefully I can be a better self-publisher in general next year, too, when the time comes again to wear that particular hat.

I made another trip to NYCC this year, and had a fantastic if all too short time there. I got to catch up with some old buds, like Michael Vincent Bramley and his wife Alice Meichi Li; artist Larry Watts, without whom I wouldn’t have had TAKEDOWN produced; my old chum Al Ewing, who in the midst of getting on at Marvel now, also had time to co-produce another volume of Zombo for 2000AD, which is getting on Best of 2013 lists all over the internet, up to and including Time Magazine’s. He also did another run of Damnation Station, even tho he confirmed I pretty much was the only person who liked that strip. Including him.

2013 was also fraught with so many NEW, wonderful people in my life, which can only be a good thing. I got to meet and be social with the likes of Andy Diggle and Si Spurrier, who is amazingly LESS grumpy than he appears on the interwebs. (If you’re not reading Disenchanted, do so. Now.) I got to meet fantasy author Maurice Broaddus, who rather conveniently lives here in Indianapolis, and as it happens I will be spending this New Year’s Night at his home. Through HIM, I got to meet another fantasy author, one who wrote one of my favorite books of the last few years, which got rightly nominated for all sorts of big awards (like, the Hugo and Nebula), Throne of the Crescent Moon author Saladin Ahmed, without whose random comedy tweet about G.I. Joe and Cobra, I never would have devised System S.H.O.C.K., so, y’know. There’s that.

I also got to meet some people I’ve talked to on the internet for a good while. Liberator writer Matt Miner, Orphans writer Eric Palicki, and after twenty years of discussions and arguments, Lance Parkin, whose biography of Alan Moore, Magic Words, really is something you should read posthaste.

I know I’m forgetting people and running out of room at this point, so hey, if I have, you were awesome too.

On the personal front, it’s been a great year seeing the kids grow and evolve. Liam transitioned to a new school with aplomb, doing quite well, maturing as he has. Miranda, especially, has been having great success as a freshman in high school, no small task when you consider the nature of autism. But with help, she has succeeded greatly, even garnering two Student of the Month awards in her very first semester in high school. I’m also still learning how better to connect with Gaby. It’s not easy some days, but I think (hope) I’m getting there, and I think I learned enough the last time I was in a stepparent situation to not make the same mistakes. (All the more room to make all new ones, wa-hey!)(I kid.)

I also had a radical change in my diet, because it was that or start shooting insulin, and I can’t be having that. Three months in, I’m eating better than before, and have lost a LOT of weight.

Through this all, it must be said, Bea most of all has been my rock and my biggest fan, and I don’t honestly know where the Hell I would be without her. I can only hope I can do just as well by her.

I’m already making plans and arrangements for 2014, probably too many to start with and I can think of one artist that is probably ready to kill me for my screwing around with other projects. But hey, it’s better than NOT, right? I know I will have an actual manga out by mid-year, and there’s another project that is my MISSION to get out there, to you. In addition to more KEEPER and System S.H.O.C.K. Yessir.

Lastly, go ahead and follow me on Tumblr. Just for kicks.

To everyone, have a Happy New Year. Thanks for reading me in 2013, and let’s all kick ass in 2014 eh?

SYSTEM S.H.O.C.K. Episode 3 now LIVE at Aces Weekly

Posted in Uncategorized on 12/30/2013 by gdwessel

HEY GANG. Aces Weekly Volume 8 Issue 3 is now LIVE. Within it, you will find SYSTEM S.H.O.C.K. by ME, Neil Ford & Jim Campbell.

You will also find:
* Blue Cat by James Hudnall & Val Mayerik
* The Damned by Jok
* Panzer Tripod by Reza Benhadj
* It’s True by Esteban Hernandez
* Dark Utopia by Mark Montague

Please direct your digital selves to this fine publication forthwith.

Merry XMas, Here’s Some Free Comics

Posted in Uncategorized on 12/25/2013 by gdwessel

I hope everyone who is in fact celebrating today is having a wonderful holiday. If not, I hope it’s a good day in any respect.

My good friend and editor Martin Conaghan has released two comics for free via PDF until this Friday (12/27/2013). The first is his old series The Brutalizers, written by Martin, art by Mike Perkins, Alex Ronald, Dave Braysher & Gat Melvin, all in a cover by Frank Quitely. Oh yes.

The second is the anthology Overload #1, featuring, among other things, “Omen” by ME, Steve Penfold, & Jim Campbell, featuring a monster designed by Crossed/Neonomicon artist Jacen Burrows. There are also stories from Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby, Eoin Coveney, Martin Hayes, Graeme Howard, Dave Cook, Gary Crutchley, Matt Gibbs, James Reekie, Jacen Burrows, Paul McClaren, and a cover from Graeme Neil Reid which you can see above.

Get yourself some free comics this XMas.

ACES WEEKLY Volume 8 Issue 2 AVAILABLE NOW

Posted in Uncategorized on 12/23/2013 by gdwessel

As it’s 12:40pm EST, I’d say it’s safe to say Aces Weekly Volume 8 Issue 2 is NOW AVAILABLE.

It features, among its six features, the second part of the first serial of “System S.H.O.C.K.” by ME, artist Neil Ford and letterer Jim Campbell. The legendary David Lloyd presents it all.

The low low cost of £6.99/$9.99/€7.99 gets you the whole 7-issue volume over 7 weeks.

Go get you some.

On Writing, Or Not

Posted in Uncategorized on 12/22/2013 by gdwessel

[Hey gang. I got pulled into this discussion numerous times last night, based on a Tumblr post by Brian Michael Bendis, seen by me on Greg Rucka's Tumblr which included a lot of, shall we say, "disagreement." So here's where I stand on the subject based on what was said.

The upshot of this is, I now have a Tumblr account too. After this post, I will be linking this blog to it, so if you prefer to follow me there, add http://gdwessel.tumblr.com to your follow log too. Anyway, I'm still here. I welcome comments and debate below, too.]

OK, well. Seeing as I’m sort of on that weird blurred dividing line between “trying to be a writer” and “professionally published comic writer,” I truly see both sides of the debate. And there are some good points in between the abusive language.

(I mean, seriously, when did calling someone who didn’t give you the answer you wanted every name in the book become somehow LESS offensive than a professional telling someone who isn’t doing what they say they want to do that maybe they aren’t that thing??)

I think there are several issues being conflated here that’s all gotten mixed up into one miasma.

First off, before I go anywhere, NOTHING is set in stone, not all rules apply to every last person, everyone has varying circumstances. Even George Orwell said his own writing rules could be jettisoned in certain situations. Really, all I can relate with any certainty are my OWN experiences and learned wisdom.

I have every amount of empathy and understanding for persons who are experiencing any one of a multitude of mental health issues. I really do. I know for fact how debilitating they can be, how they make you not want to get out of bed, socialize in ANY way, not want to eat, shower, take care of yourself in any way, go to work… For real. I’ve seen it. I’ve BEEN it. It’s not fun, it’s nothing to laugh at or make light of.

BUT.

I don’t think that’s exactly what either Brian Michael Bendis or Greg Rucka had in mind either. The question was related to a non-specific case of “writers’ block” that had apparently been going on for seven years. In that context, I don’t think what Bendis originally said was that offensive. If I’m not DOING the thing I say I’m doing, or want to be doing, it doesn’t necessarily mean I AM that thing. If I say, for example, I play football, but for seven years, I don’t lace up my boots and get on the pitch and kick a ball, even in a pick-up rec league, there really wouldn’t be any argument in favor of my assertion that I’m a footballer.

And yes, Real Professional Writers In History had periods of inactivity. LONG periods of inactivity. Again, not everything applies verbatim to everyone.

Without wanting to crow about how I overcame my shit… in order to get to this slight position I’m in now, as a comics writer, I’ve had to also deal with a) raising a child with disability [autism - she's almost 15 now and doing quite well in her freshman year in high school], b) working two, sometimes three, jobs at a time in order to provide for that child and the others that were there too, c) an emotionally [and sometimes physically] abusive spouse, who thankfully at one point finally left, d) the shock of suddenly becoming a single father, having to jettison one of said jobs after ten years, and then getting let go at the other, primary one…

But through all that time, I SAID I was “trying to become a writer.” And I had ideas, and outlines, and was making contact with artists…

The one thing I was FAILING to do, was get the scripts written. Until, one day… I did. And I wrote an 8-page introductory script to my epic graphic novel. And it got drawn, and then…. nothing. But it was the start. And from there one idea I wrote in a flashfiction on my old LiveJournal evolved into my series KEEPER. And, and, and…

Sometimes people have the breakthrough. Other times, they don’t. But I also do idly wonder, sometimes those who say they cannot get the ideas out, are also prolific bloggers. Maybe you’re not meant to be a FICTION writer – write criticism, non-fiction, anecdotes, whatever you can to actually get ideas out there of any kind. Let’s face it, if you blog, you’re already doing that anyway after a fashion. Maybe expression through other means is more your style. Hey, I know, all through my childhood I was CONVINCED I was either going to be an artist, on THAT side of the comics table, or be Steve Dahl. Well… things happened and different directions were went in.

If you were to ask me what the real difference between a writer and a not-writer is, it’s this: it’s not getting paid, it’s not getting published by a major house, or any of that. It’s FINISHING what you started. Start a story, article, and see it to completion. Understand that, well, you may not ALWAYS succeed at that, but when your Finished Output starts to outweigh your Ideas and Outlines and Concepts and PlotBunnies… then you are well on the way. In fact, probably already there. Pitches and submissions do count too.

Swearing at Bendis or Rucka isn’t going to get them to change their minds about what they said, but really, it wasn’t a personal attack, I’d reckon. They may have seemed callous, and there was a time I would have sworn at them and called them names too. But I’d be willing to bet they, too, at one time, were in a similar position, so perhaps they do speak from the voice of experience, even if it doesn’t sound like how you’d say it.

The differences between a writer and a Professional Writer… is another story altogether. But you need to be the former before the latter, either way.

Lastly, not even Bendis or Rucka are at their keyboards every hour of every day either. That’s an unreasonable assertion for ANYONE to make. But do a little SOMETHING. Even blogging counts. Hell, it’s probably what helped ME in the end.

I welcome replies and commentary, but please keep it reasonable. Thanks.

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