Monday, September 28, 2015

An Adieu to Alloy Comics

For the last two years, I've had a side project going here on blogger.  It was called Alloy Comics and was born from the simple question: what if the DC Comics Universe and the Marvel Comics Universe got smooshed together?
I am not talking about the Amalgam Comics that both companies produced over a decade ago.  There were no badly named portmanteaus such as Apocalypso. Yes, that was the name of an actual Amalgam character; a fusion of Apocalypse and Eclipso. The name was not frightening at all, instead conjuring images of a villainous callypso singer, terrorizing the world with a Carribean steel-drum band.
No, Alloy Comics was based on the idea that the two universe got smooshed together in a Cosmic Event.  Since this event smooshed time together as well, as far as the inhabitants of the Alloy Universe were concerned, their world had always been like it was.
Jonah Hex rode with the Two-Gun Kid in the Old West.
Captain America was a member of the Justice Society of America.
Of course, the two universes didn't merge seemlessly.  They are, at their cores, quite different. The Marvel Universe has always been grim and gritty, wallowing in angst, while the DC Universe has always seemed more positive and friendly.
There would be changes.
There would have to be.
Most were precipitated, in-universe, by the Crisis.
The Crisis was the attempt by Axel Asher a.k.a. Access, to restore the two merged universes.  He would fail, thanks to the efforts of the Justice League of America, but that failure would have a price. Half of the Justice League (Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Iron Man, Superman and the Wasp) would perish.  The survivors of the battle would come together and form a team of successors called the Avengers.
There would be other changes, growing out from that point.
Dick Grayson would retire the Robin persona and follow in his dead mentor's footsteps, traveling the world, studying and learning a variety of skills so that he could one day take Batman's place.  As a result, he would never become involved with the Teen Titans.
Instead, the Teen Titans would consist of Aqualad, Kid Flash and the three surviving X-Men: Angel, Beast and Marvel Girl.  The Teen Titans would not exist as long in the Alloyverse as they had in the DCU, but the bonds forged would be longlasting.
With Superman dead, Thor would keep a pledge he had made to the Man of Steel, to defend Metropolis in his place. As a result, Thor would confront many of Superman's most dangerous foes as well as bringing his Asgardian enemies to the City of Tomorrow.
Superman's death would also affect Lois Lane. She would leave the Daily Planet to become a freelance journalist, reporting on world events. This would be a cover, however, to conceal her true actions as a newly minted agent of SHIELD.
Superman's death would also affect the far future.  The Legion of Super-Heroes would form, inspired by Superman's example, but guided by the principles of his spiritual successor, Spider-Man.  The Legion would go so far as to travel back to the 21st Century and bring Spider-Man back to their own time.  Faced with this amazing legacy, Spider-Man would be much more positive and proactive, even as he faced deadly new enemies like the Joker and Harley Quinn.
There were other stories.  How Barbara Gordon became the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club and was murdered by Deadpool.  How an alliance between the mysterious Raven and enigmatic Cable led to the creation of the New Titans. The strange connection between Donna Troy and Apocalypse. Captain America's revival and eventual joining of this world's Avengers. The romance between the second Flash (Wally West) and the Scarlet Witch, as they served together on the Avengers, eventually marrying and suffering a terrible tragedy. There were so many more.
The Alloyverse was a lot of fun.  It was a good creative outlet as well, when the words wouldn't flow, but I still had the need to make something. I became quite adept at photoshopping comic covers.
But after two years, I decided it was time to bring it to an end.
The Multiverse returned.
The Alloyverse splintered, its component universes reverting, all knowledge of their shared experiences erased.
And so, I bid adieu to the world of Alloy Comics.
Perhaps I'll return their some day.
After all, anything is possible.

Monday, September 21, 2015


Good afternoon, gentle readers.
Today, I have been avoiding this blog like a politician avoids the truth.
Because writing has been difficult lately and producing this blog only drives that fact home.
So, I fall into avoidance mode.
"Oh! I can't work on the blog right now! I have to do laundry!"
"Oh! I can't possibly commit to writing anything right now! I have to pay my bills!"
"Oh! I was totally going to write a blog but then I saw that Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer had a baby and now I forget what I was going to write about!"
The excuses, ladies and gentlemen, have been many and contrived.
And, ironically, as I sit here, typing this on my much-abused laptop, I realize that they were not necessary.
Look, ma! I'm writing!
I may not be writing about anything earth-shaking, but I'm writing.
That's better than not writing.
Hope everyone out there has a good week!
And congratulations to Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer on the birth of their son, Anthony. If the kid is half as interesting as his parents, the future should be interesting.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Hello, gentle readers.
How are you this evening?
I'm . . . okay.
Well, no, I'm not really okay.
I am stuck.
I've been stuck all day.
The writing, it will not happen.  I sit here, staring at the screen for hours at a time and nothing wants to come.  Story does not flow. The well is dry.
And I feel the fear creep out of the corners of my heart.
What if I can't write any more?
What if I never manage to write anything ever again?
What if I spend the rest of my life staring at a blank screen?
If I'm not a writer, what am I?
Who am I?
The fear gets a bit bigger with every 'What if...?' Until it feels like my throat is closing up and I want to scream into a pillow.
And then I remember the Litany Against Fear, from Frank Herbert's Dune novels:

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

I take some small comfort from that, but small comfort is better than none at all.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Food! Glorious food!

Good afternoon, gentle readers!
Sorry I've been away for a while, but I'm back now and I want to talk about something near and dear to my heart: food.
I love food.
I love potato chips and snack crackers, boiled eggs and pimento cheese, roast chicken and mashed potatoes with all the fixings.
Unfortunately, as a writer, I tend to nibble as I write. Or try to write. Or just stare blankly at the laptop's screen.
One of the reasons I hate touchscreens with a passion is because I eat Cheetos when I'm on the computer.  Have you ever tried to read a computer screen covered in streaks of orange Cheeto-dust?
And, because these are snack foods, they probably aren't the healthiest things in the world.
So, I try not to snack when on the computer.
I have some success because I compromise by having supper as I log onto the Internet.
And even though a supper of Cheez-Its and hot dogs might taste great, in the long run, it's just not that great for you.
Lately, gentle readers, I have porked up.  For those of you overseas unfamiliar with American vernacular, that means I've gotten a bit fat.
I can tell by the way my clothes fit, by the tightness in my belt.  When summer started it was actually loose but in the last month or so I've been eating a lot of junky food.
So, I've gained weight.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, I have to lose it.
Which means considering food options and, more important, food habits.
We are all creatures of habit. If you grab a bag of chips when you sit down to bingewatch Daredevil on Netflix, you and I both know that you're probably not going to stop doing it.  So, instead, grab something healthier.  Apple chips are nice.  Salt-free pretzels work too if you can find them.  Whatever you do, don't try to substitute celery, because celery is just gross and I don't know anyone who actually enjoys eating it.
And, then, of course, there's the question of what to eat in the first place? What kind of diet do you want to follow? What sort of diet can you actually follow without feeling completely deprived?
Usually, a low fat diet works for me. As a convenience eater, the only cooking appliance I tend to use is the microwave.  If it can't be microwaved, I'm not going to eat it.  (Don't judge. I'm single.)
The low-fat diet I usually follow lets me use a lot of the same brand names I like and trust, it just limits my selection. I wind up eating a lot more veggies too.  Stuff like green beans and potatoes.
I tried going vegetarian once.  It lasted about two days before I went berserk and scarfed down an entire Pizza Hut large Meat Lovers Pizza by myself.  In less than 30 minutes.
So, a vegetarian diet isn't for yours truly.  In addition to the fact that you have to eat an entire freaking field of cabbage to maintain your calories, there's also a nifty little item called 'cost' to consider.
All those people out there pushing you to eat vegan or organic or 'real food' are making more than minimum wage.  I suspect they also have chefs.
So I'm going to buy what I can afford, that's healthier than what I'm currently eating and that's going to be quick to prepare. Tonight, for example, I'm experimenting with a low carb dinner of kielbasa with a broccoli/carrot/bean sprout stir fry, liberally smothered in shredded cheese.  Also, boiled eggs.
I tried Adkins once and lasted about as long as I did on the vegetarian diet.  After two days, I was ready to stab somebody for a fruit cup.
So, while you're sitting there, cranking out the next International Best Seller, do yourself a favor. Put away the bowl of chips and go find something nicer.
You'll probably thank me in the morning.