Happy Teen Read Week 2017!

teen-read-weekTeen Read Week 2017 is happening right now, October 8–14. What is it? Well, to quote the event’s website:

Teen Read Week is a national adolescent literacy initiative of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). Its purpose is to encourage teens to be regular readers and library users.

Teen Read Week’s 2017 theme is “Unleash Your Story,” in which “library staff and educators are encouraged to leverage this theme to encourage teens to tell their own stories as well as find stories, biographies, autobiographies, folktales, and more in their local library.”

 For more information on this annual event, visit the Teen Read Week site.

The theme of “unleashing your story” for teen writers reminds me of “My First Published Story,” a blog post about a science-fiction story I wrote all the way back in high school. As I say in the post, looking back it’s a little cringe-worthy, but it proves something I always tell young writers: Everybody’s gotta start somewhere. Go give it a read!

And speaking of books for teens, are you familiar with my young adult, dark-urban-fantasy series The Saga of Pandora Zwieback? Pan is a 16-year-old Goth girl who’s spent the last decade being treated for mental health problems because she can see monsters. It’s only after she meets an immortal shape-shifter named Annie that Pan discovers she’s never been ill—her so-called “monstervision” is actually a supernatural gift that allows her to see into Gothopolis, the not-so-mythical shadow world that exists right alongside the human world. You’ll find Pan in the following titles:

blood_feudThe Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0: A free, downloadable comic that serves as an introduction to Pan and Annie—with an 8-page story written by me and illustrated by Eliseu Gouveia—as well as Pan’s first novel, Blood Feud (via a pair of preview chapters).

Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1: This critically acclaimed novel is the beginning of Pan’s story, explaining how she, her parents and friends, and Annie are drawn into a conflict among warring vampire clans searching for the key to an ultimate weapon (or so the legend goes)—a key that just so happens to have been delivered to the horror-themed museum owned by Pan’s father. It’s a character-driven action-fest that leads immediately into the second novel:

Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2: Pan and Annie face even greater challenges as the vampire clans draw up plans to go to war with humanity. Leading the charge is a fallen angel named Zaqiel, whose previous attempt at subjugating the world was stopped by Annie—who, back in the day, was Zaqiel’s lover! But Pan isn’t about to let some ancient monster win the day, not when the lives of her parents and friends—along with those of every human on the planet—are at stake, so she leads a charge of her own. But whose side is going to emerge the victor remains to be seen…

Blood Feud and Blood Reign are available in print and digital formats. The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0 is a digital exclusive. Visit their respective product pages at StarWarp Concepts for ordering information, as well as sample pages and chapters.

It’s National Comic Book Day 2017!

Pandora0_CoverToday is National Comic Book Day, an unofficial “holiday” that’s celebrated every year on this date…although no one seems to know why that is, or who exactly started the tradition. Nevertheless, if you’re thinking that the friendly fiends at StarWarp Concepts must have some illustrated fiction that would be perfect for this occasion—you’re absolutely right!

The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0: A free, downloadable comic that serves as an introduction to the adventures of Pandora Zwieback and her monster-hunting mentor, Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin, with an 8-page story written by me and illustrated by Eliseu Gouveia, and a preview of Pan’s first novel, Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1. Pan is a 16-year-old Goth girl who’s spent the last decade being treated for mental health problems because she can see monsters. It’s only after she meets Annie that Pan discovers she’s never been ill—her so-called “monstervision” is actually a supernatural gift that allows her to see into Gothopolis, the not-so-mythical shadow world that exists right alongside the human world.

pan_annual_coverThe Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1: A spinoff from the novel series, this 56-page, full-color comic special finds the teenaged Goth adventuress battling vampires and a jealous, man-stealing siren. It features stories by me and Sholly Fisch (Scooby-Doo Team-Up), art by Eliseu Gouveia (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0), comic-art legend Ernie Colon (Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld), and Elizabeth Watasin (Charm School), and cover art by award-winning artist Henar Torinos (Mala Estrella).

Heartstopper: The Legend of La Bella Tenebrosa: Long before she met Pan, Annie was the star of this short-lived, Mature Readers “bad girl” comic book miniseries published in the 1990s. Here you’ll find Annie doing a bit of research for an article about gentlemen’s clubs in Times Square—research that includes actually performing as an exotic dancer (I did say it was a ’90s comic, didn’t I?). It’s that part-time gig that brings her into contact with Corum de Sade, a heavy metal singer with a deadly secret: he’s a soul-devouring incubus! All three issues—written by me, with art by Uriel Caton (JSA Annual), Holly Golightly (School Bites), and David C. Matthews—are available for free from this very website, so download them today!

SWC_Lorelei-SectsLorelei: Sects and the City is a Mature Readers graphic novel in which Lori battles a cult of Elder God worshipers attempting to unleash hell on Earth. Basically a love letter to 1970s horror comics like Vampirella, Tomb of Dracula, and Ghost Rider, it’s written by yours truly, and illustrated by Eliseu Gouveia (Vengeance of the Mummy, Lady Death), Steve Geiger (Web of Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk), and Neil Vokes (Flesh and Blood, Fright Night). It also features a cover by legendary artist Esteban Maroto (Vampirella, Zatanna, Lady Rawhide) and a frontispiece by original Vampirella artist Tom Sutton (Ghost Rider, Man-Thing, Werewolf by Night).

Lorelei Presents: House Macabre is Lori’s debut as the hostess of a horror anthology comic. Behind that eye-catching cover by bad-girl artist supreme Louis Small Jr. (Vampirella, Vampirella/Lady Death), you’ll find stories by me and Dwight Jon Zimmerman (Iron Man, Web of Spider-Man). Art is provided by Uriel Caton & “Chainsaw” Chuck Majewski (Heartstopper: The Legend of La Bella Tenebrosa), Lou Manna (T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents), John Pierard (Graphic Classics: Horror Classics), and Juan Carlos Abraldes Rendo.

heroinesandheroes-1Heroines and Heroes is another free digital comic book. It’s a collection of stories (and a few pinups) that I’ve drawn over the years, featuring mainstream and indie comic characters that include the superheroic Blonde Avenger, the anthropomorphic Motorbike Puppies, the half-human/half-rabbit superspy Snowbuni, and my “legendary” Wonder Woman-meets-Harley Quinn three-page tale that was meant to be my entrée to fame and fortune as a DC Comics artist (it didn’t work out, though).

The Chronicles of the Sea Dragon Special is a digital pirate-fantasy comic created and written by Richard C. White, coauthor of SWC’s supernatural-superhero graphic novel Troubleshooters, Incorporated: Night Stalkings. Drawn by Bill Bryan (artist of Caliber Press’ Dark Oz and DC Comics’ House of Mystery), and featuring cover art and color by Eliseu Gouveia (SWC’s The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual), it’s 48 pages of high-seas adventure perfect for fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise, as well as classics like The Crimson Pirate, Against All Flags, Captain Blood, and The Sea Hawk—and it’s available for download for just 99¢!

troubleshooters_lrg_coverTroubleshooters, Incorporated: Night Stalkings is a general readers’ graphic novel about a group of supernatural-superheroes-for-hire taking on their first case. The team consists of a wizard, a female ninja, a sorceress, a werewolf, and a rock ’n’ roll lighting designer wearing high-tech armor. Sure, they might not be on a power level with the Avengers or Justice League of America—they’re more like superpowered Ghostbusters—but they get the job done. The graphic novel is written by the husband-and-white team of Richard C. White (Terra Incognito: A Guide to Building the Worlds of Your Imagination, For a Few Gold Pieces More: Tales of the Rogue With No Name) and Joni M. White, and illustrated by Reggie Golden and Randy Zimmerman.

The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual, Lorelei: Sects and the City, Lorelei Presents: House Macabre, and Troubleshooters Incorporated are available in print and digital formats. Pandora Zwieback #0, Heartstopper, Heroines and Heroes, and Chronicles of the Sea Dragon are digital exclusives. Visit their respective product pages at StarWarp Concepts for ordering information, as well as sample pages.

It’s Banned Books Week 2017!

Banned-logoGot a favorite book? Well, odds are good there’s someone out there in the United States who’d liked to see it censored. And that’s where Banned Books Week comes in—an annual celebration of literacy in which the spotlight is shone on the problem of censorship in U.S. libraries and bookstores. To quote the Banned Books Week website:

Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries.

This year’s focus is on “the importance of the First Amendment, which guarantees [American citizens’] inherent right to read.”

According to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF)…there was an alarming 17% increase in book censorship complaints in 2016. Since most challenges are not reported, the actual number is probably much higher. Even more disturbing, while only 10% of the titles reported to OIF are normally removed from the institutions receiving the challenges, half of the most frequently challenged books were actually banned last year.

Banned Books Week 2017 is happening right now, September 24 to September 30, so visit the BBW website for more information, including a list of the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2016 that they’re celebrating this year.

Happy National Read a Book Day 2017!

Today is National Read a Book Day, which is celebrated in the United States every September 6th since…well, nobody seems to know precisely when this “holiday” began, or who started it, but it’s a celebration of reading, so it’s all good, right? And if you’re looking for the right book on this special day, here are a few StarWarp Concepts titles you might want to consider:

Dark Urban Fantasy
blood_feudBlood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1 is my young adult novel that’s perfect for lovers of dark urban fantasy. It introduces readers to Pandora Zwieback, a 16-year-old Goth girl who’s spent the last decade being treated for mental health problems because she can see monsters. It’s only after she meets professional monster hunter Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin that Pan discovers she’s never been ill—her so-called “monstervision” is actually a supernatural gift that allows her to see into Gothopolis, the not-so-mythical shadow world that exists right alongside the human world. In Blood Feud, Pan, her parents and friends, and Annie are drawn into a conflict among warring vampire clans searching for the key to an ultimate weapon (or so the legend goes)—a key that just so happens to have been delivered to the horror-themed museum owned by Pan’s father.

Blood-Reign-FinalCvrIn Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2, Pan and Annie face even greater challenges as the vampire clans draw up plans to go to war with humanity. Leading the charge is a fallen angel named Zaqiel, whose previous attempt at subjugating the world was stopped by Annie—who, back in the day, was Zaqiel’s lover! But Pan isn’t about to let some ancient monster win the day, not when the lives of her parents and friends—along with those of every human on the planet—are at stake, so she leads a charge of her own. But whose side is going to emerge the victor remains to be seen…

Fantasy Adventure
Gold-Pieces-CvrFor a Few Gold Pieces More: This collection of ten critically acclaimed short stories by author Richard C. White stars a Rogue With No Name who travels a world of epic-fantasy adventure, looking for treasure—and revenge against the woman who sent him to prison for a crime he didn’t commit (but she did). Think Lord of the Rings meets the “spaghetti Westerns” of director Sergio Leone (A Fistful of Dollars; The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly), with a healthy dose of monsters, magic, and swordplay mixed in. Weighing in at a hefty 420 pages, it sports a cover painting and a frontispiece illustration by fantasy artist Shane Braithwaite, who also provided the cover art for Rich’s 2015 SWC release, the writer’s reference book Terra Incognito: A Guide to Building the Worlds of Your Imagination.

SWC Classics
Princess_Of_MarsA Princess of Mars: Originally published in 1912, this is the first in author (and Tarzan creator) Edgar Rice Burroughs’s “John Carter of Mars” ten-novel series about a post–Civil War era American who suddenly finds himself on the Red Planet, battling to stay alive against all sorts of alien threats while falling in love with a beautiful Martian princess. It served as the basis for Disney’s 2012 film adaptation, John Carter, and inspired a century’s worth of SF works, including Flash Gordon, Star Wars, and James Cameron’s Avatar. The special StarWarp Concepts edition—available in both print and digital formats—features six incredible illustrations by SWC artist supreme Eliseu Gouveia (Carmilla, The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1, Lorelei: Sects and the City), and a special introduction by Mars-fiction expert John Gosling, author of Waging the War of the Worlds.

Carmilla_CoverCarmilla is J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s 19th-century classic vampiric tale of love gone wrong. Laura is so desperate for a friend that when a young woman named Carmilla practically turns up on the doorstep of the castle owned by Laura’s father, she thinks her prayers for companionship have been answered. But as she comes to realize, Carmilla isn’t as interested in making friends as she is in spilling blood. Regarded as the one of the earliest female vampire tales—if not the first—Carmilla was an influence on author Bram Stoker in the creation of the vampire brides in his seminal novel, Dracula, and remains a popular character in fiction to this day. Just like with A Princess of Mars, our edition contains six original illustrations done especially for StarWarp Concepts by the super-talented Eliseu Gouveia.

King-Kong-Final-FrontCvrKing Kong is our e-book-exclusive Illustrated Classics edition of the 1932 novelization of the renowned motion picture. Written by Delos W. Lovelace, based on the story by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper and the screenplay by James A. Creelman and Ruth Rose, the SWC edition of King Kong features scenes that didn’t appear in the final cut of the film—including the notorious “spider pit” sequence in which Kong’s human pursuers are attacked by horrific arachnids and insects. What makes our version special is that it contains six exclusive, original black-and-white illustrations by comics artist Paul Tuma, whose pulp-influenced style has appeared in the pages of The Twilight Avenger, Flare, and Dan Turner: Hollywood Detective.

Writers’ Reference
terraTerra Incognito: A Guide to Building the Worlds of Your Imagination is our popular how-to book for writers and gamers in which bestselling fantasy author Richard C. White takes you through the step-by-step process of constructing a world for your characters, from societies and governments to currency and religion. Included is an interview with New York Times bestselling author Tracy Hickman (Dragonlance) that discusses his methods of world building, as well as his creative experiences during his time as a designer for gaming company TSR, the original home of Dungeons & Dragons.

The Pandora Zwieback novels, as well as For a Few Gold Pieces More, A Princess of Mars, Carmilla, and Terra Incognito are available in print and digital formats. King Kong is a digital exclusive. Visit their respective product pages for ordering information.

Happy reading!

Happy World Goth Day 2017!

world-goth-posterNow celebrating its eighth anniversary, World Goth Day (always held on May 22) puts a spotlight on Goth culture and all its perks (it’s not all about black clothes and clichéd dour attitudes, you know). To quote the official website:

Goth Day is exactly what it says on the wrapper—a day where the Goth scene gets to celebrate its own being, and an opportunity to make its presence known to the rest of the world. It all started off as “Goth Day” just in the UK back in 2009—originating as a musical subculture weekend on the BBC 6 music station which focused on punk, Brit-pop and Goth (the Goth feature was on May 22)—but the following year we decided to push the idea across the globe.

For more information on World Goth Day, including links to the many events being held to celebrate the occasion, visit the WGD website.

pandora rockslowLGAnd who better to celebrate World Goth Day than our resident Goth adventuress, Pandora Zwieback? Generally a happy Goth (yes, they exist) and major horror fangirl who likes to paint and write and hang out with her friends and her new boyfriend, Javier Maldonado, Pan also has her hands full these days battling monsters and fallen angels in her novel series The Saga of Pandora Zwieback—written by yours truly. And you can check out her adventures in these titles:

The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0: A free, downloadable comic that serves as an introduction to both Pan—with an 8-page story written by me and illustrated by Eliseu Gouveiaand her first novel, Blood Feud (via a pair of preview chapters).

Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1: This critically acclaimed novel is the beginning of Pan’s story, explaining how she, her parents, and her friends, are drawn into a conflict among warring vampire clans searching for the key to an ultimate weapon (or so the legend goes)—a key that just so happens to have been delivered to the horror-themed museum owned by Pan’s father. It’s a character-driven action-fest that leads immediately into the second novel:

Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2: Pan faces even greater challenges as the clans draw up plans to go to war with humanity. Leading the charge is a fallen angel named Zaqiel, whose previous attempt at subjugating the world was stopped by Pan’s monster-hunting mentor, Annie—who, back in the day, was Zaqiel’s lover!

The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1: A spinoff from the novel series, this 56-page, full-color comic special finds the teenaged Goth adventuress battling vampires and a jealous, man-stealing siren. It features stories by me and Sholly Fisch (Scooby-Doo Team-Up), art by Eliseu Gouveia (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0), comic-art legend Ernie Colon (Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld), and Elizabeth Watasin (Charm School), and cover art by award-winning artist Henar Torinos (Mala Estrella).

Blood Feud, Blood Reign, and the Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual are available in both print and digital formats. The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0 is a digital exclusive. Visit each of the titles’ product pages for more information, including sales links and sample pages and chapters.

Happy Free Comic Book Day 2017!

FCBD-logo2That’s right, comic book fans, today is the sixteenth annual Free Comic Book Day at brick-and-mortar and online comic shops around the world. Held the first Saturday in May, this year’s event is timed to coincide with yesterday’s release of Marvel Films’ latest blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, in which Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord (WHO?!), Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot face a new cosmic threat—all while grooving to another sound track that relies heavily on 1970s and ’80s pop tunes. And in keeping with FCBD’s fine tradition of gifting comics to fans everywhere, here’s a list of StarWarp Concepts’ offerings that you can download directly from their webstore!

heroinesandheroes-1Heroines & Heroes: A collection of comic stories and pinups all drawn by me, dating back to my days in the early 1990s small-press movement—that age of dinosaurs in which creators like me used to make our comics by printing them out on photocopiers and then stapling them by hand. In H&H you’ll find mainstream heroes and small-press heroines, and even a couple of anthropomorphic bikers. Leading off is “V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N (in the Summertime),” a three-page Wonder Woman vs. Harley Quinn story that I wrote and drew in the late ’90s as a sample for a DC Comics editor who thought I’d be a good fit for their Batman: The Animated Series comic (it didn’t work out). It’s followed by an adventure of small-presser Jeff Wood’s rabbit-eared superspy, Snowbuni; three pages from the long-canceled indie comic Motorbike Puppies; and an adventure of the indie superheroine The Blonde Avenger.

Pandora0_CoverThe Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0: A full-color introduction to the young adult novel series of the same name, hosted by Pan herself. Pan is a 16-year-old New York City Goth who’s not only a horror fangirl but someone with the rare ability to see the for-real monsters that regular humans can’t (she calls it her “monstervision”), and with the help of a 400-year-old, shape-shifting monster hunter named Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin, she’s learning how to protect her family, her friends, and the world from the supernatural dangers out there—and maybe even have some fun while doing it. This 16-page comic features a seven-page story written by me, with art and color by Eliseu Gouveia (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1, Carmilla, A Princess of Mars), and includes two sample chapters from Blood Feud, the first Pan novel.

Heartstopper_CoverHearstopper: The Legend of La Bella Tenebrosa #1–3: Before she became Pan’s monster-hunting mentor, Sebastienne Mazarin made her debut in this short-lived, 1990s Mature Readers series from Millennium Publications. A nefarious heavy metal band has arrived in New York City, and its lead singer is more than just a sex magnet for his female fans—he’s an incubus! Will Annie put an end to his plans for worldwide chaos, or fall prey to his supernatural charms? Written by me (of course), issue 1 is drawn by Pan and Annie co-creator Uriel Caton (JSA Annual) and inker Alan Larsen (Femforce); issue 2 is penciled by Uriel, Holly Golightly (School Bites), and David C. Matthews (Satin Steele) and inked by Larsen; and issue 3 is penciled by Holly, with four pages of inks by “Chainsaw” Chuck Majewski (Harvey Kurtzman’s New Two-Fisted Tales).

Warning: Heartstopper is designated a “Mature Readers” comic for violent scenes and some sexual innuendo, so younger Panatics should avoid it.

All these comics are available for free download right now, so visit their respective product pages at StarWarp Concepts for more information.

Free Comic Book Day 2017 Titles of Interest to Panatics

FCBD-logo2Are you ready, comic book fans? Tomorrow’s the sixteenth annual Free Comic Book Day at brick-and-mortar and online comic book stores around the world, and as usual, a number of publishers are releasing a wide selection of comics that are absolutely free to fans—while supplies last at your local comic shop, of course! Here are the ones that might appeal to you Panatics out there, with descriptions provided by Diamond Comic Distributors:

FCBD2017-Titles

Attack on Titan (Kodansha Comics): “A brand-new, never-before-seen story set in the world of manga megahit Attack on Titan, written by Jody Houser (Faith, Orphan Black) with art by Emi Lenox (Plutona, EmiTown)! Plus, information about the highly anticipated season two of the anime, and more exclusives!”

Buffy: The High School Years (Dark Horse): In this all-ages offering, “you’ll thrill to a monster-slaying, citizen-saving adventure with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sixteen-year-old Buffy is still learning her trade, and sometimes battles with demons and bad luck can erode a girl’s confidence—and her ability to have high-school fun.” Written by Kel McDonald, with art by Yishan Li.

I Hate Image (Image Comics): Writer/artist Skottie Young describes this Mature Readers one-off story this way: “Gertrude has been stuck in Fairyland for decades when she finally hears of a secret passage that may be her way back home. But reaching it is easier said than done as she crosses the border into IMAGE where she’ll have to chop her way through you favorite characters from Saga, The Walking Dead, Savage Dragon, Spawn, Descender, Black Science, Southern Bastards, and any other character I can add to make sure the original art for this issue sends my children to college!”

Lady Mechanika (Benitez Productions): This issue, written and illustrated by Joe Benitez, “introduces new readers to this steampunk bestseller, [and] includes the original 14-page one-shot introducing Lady Mechanika, a young woman in Victorian England with mechanical limbs and no memory of how she got them, searching desperately for the secrets to her past, plus excerpts from the Lady Mechanika trades and comics!”

Monster High (Titan Comics): Based on the popular toy line, in this story “it’s time for a school competition, and all of the ghoulfriends are excited about showing off their talents! But Clawdeen finds it challenging and runs away! Can her friends find Clawdeen and help her out? And who will win the competition?” Written by Abby Denson and illustrated by Arianna Florean.

Riverdale (Archie Comics): It’s an Archie comic based on the hit CW television series…that’s based on Archie comic books—doesn’t that make it the funnybook equivalent of the snake that swallows its tail? “Learn the secrets and hidden tales from the summer before the eternal love-triangle begins in this special issue. Featuring two short stories focusing on the major players and events in the Riverdale series.” Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Brian E. Paterson, James DeWille, with art by Elliot Fernandez, Thomas Pitilli, Thomas Chu, and Janice Chiang.

 Be sure to pick up copies (if you get the chance) before they’re all gone!

May the Fourth Be With You in 2017!

star-wars-40th-logoHey, Panatics! First off, let me apologize for the lack of activity around here. I don’t usually mention my “day job” as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader—“day job” being in quotes because my work hours are very flexible—but April turned out to be a really busy month for me. And believe me, when you work a job that has feast-or-famine assignment periods, you grab what you can get and focus on that to pay the bills.

Also, there’s some Pandora Zwieback novel or something I’m working on… 😉

Anyway, if you’re a science fiction fan, you probably know what the headline of this post means—yup, today is Star Wars Day, that annual celebration of George Lucas’s legendary franchise that retook the world by storm in December 2015 with the box office mega-success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (aka Star Wars: Episode VII), which in turn set the stage for last December’s release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the “heist film” prequel to Episode IV: A New Hope that explained how Princess Leia got the plans to the original Death Star. And now this year we’ve got Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi to look forward to! It’s an exciting time to be a Star Wars fan, isn’t it?

But what’s Star Wars Day all about? you ask. To explain this occasion, we look to the official Star Wars website:

“‘May the 4th be with you.’ What started as pun warmly shared by fans has become a full-fledged Star Wars holiday: Star Wars Day, a special once-a-year celebration of the galaxy far, far away…. Once the Internet allowed Star Wars fans around the world to connect with one another, May the 4th soon became a grassroots tradition each year, with fans online and offline proclaiming it Star Wars Day.”

Goth-VadersAs for why we’d be celebrating Star Wars Day at Zwieback Central…well, it’s because I know how to take advantage of a promotional opportunity, that’s why!

What you see here is a sketch cover I drew in 2015, in time for The Force Awakens’ debut (click on the image to embiggen). It depicts Pan as an original Star Wars character: Darth Pandoricus! And standing behind her is her best friend, Sheena McCarthy, as the dreaded Lady She’naa. Hey, it only makes sense that a couple of Goth chicks would want to be dark ladies of the Sith!

For those of you unfamiliar with Pan—just in case you stumbled across the above illustration during your Internet journeys—allow me to provide you with some background:

pan_comic_0Pan—the star of Zwieback in my young adult novel series The Saga of Pandora Zwieback—is a 16-year-old Goth girl who’s spent the last decade being treated for mental health problems because she can see monsters. It’s only after she meets Annie that Pan discovers she’s never been ill—her so-called “monstervision” is actually a supernatural gift that allows her to see into Gothopolis, the not-so-mythical shadow world that exists right alongside the human world. You’ll find Annie battling evil in the following titles:

The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0: A free, downloadable comic that serves as an introduction to Pan and Annie—with an 8-page story written by me and illustrated by Eliseu Gouveia—as well as Pan’s first novel, Blood Feud (via a pair of preview chapters).

blood_feudBlood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1: This critically acclaimed novel is the beginning of Pan’s story, explaining how she, her parents and friends, and Annie are drawn into a conflict among warring vampire clans searching for the key to an ultimate weapon (or so the legend goes)—a key that just so happens to have been delivered to the horror-themed museum owned by Pan’s father. It’s a character-driven action-fest that leads immediately into the second novel:

Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2: Pan and Annie face even greater challenges as the vampire clans draw up plans to go to war with humanity. Leading the charge is a fallen angel named Zaqiel, whose previous attempt at subjugating the world was stopped by Annie—who, back in the day, was Zaqiel’s lover!

pan_annualThe Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1: A spinoff from the novel series, this 56-page, full-color comic special finds the teenaged Goth adventuress battling vampires and a jealous, man-stealing siren. It features stories by me and Sholly Fisch (Scooby-Doo Team-Up), art by Eliseu Gouveia (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0), comic-art legend Ernie Colon (Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld), and Elizabeth Watasin (Charm School), and cover art by award-winning artist Henar Torinos (Mala Estrella).

Blood Feud, Blood Reign, and the Pan Annual are available in print and digital formats. Pandora Zwieback #0 is a digital exclusive. Visit their respective product pages for ordering information, as well as sample pages and chapters.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch Rogue One again…

Happy Will Eisner Week 2017!

WillEisnerWeek-2017Graphic novels: Who doesn’t love to read them, especially if they can be used to get adults, teens, and kids interested in reading? And if there’s one thing the staff at StarWarp Concepts believes in, it’s promoting literacy. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s a yearly literacy event that’s been set up to help get the ball rolling!

Will Eisner Week is an annual celebration—held this week from March 1 to March 7—and is run by the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation. It promotes literacy, graphic novels, free speech, and the legacy of the late Will Eisner, who would have turned 100 on March 6.

Eisner, for those of you who might be unfamiliar with his work, was the creator of the 1940s masked crimefighter The Spirit, and one of the founding fathers of American graphic novels. A Contract with God, A Life Force, Dropsie Avenue, and The Dreamer are just some of the fascinating tales Eisner wrote and drew, featuring ordinary people in extraordinary (and sometimes not-so-extraordinary) situations. And even though he passed away in 2005, Eisner continues to inspire generations of writers and artists. Events are being held this week around the world; visit the Will Eisner Week site for more information.

StarWarp Concepts, of course, has its share of graphic novels, and the folks there would have absolutely no problem at all if you happened to order them as your reading material for this special week. Check out the following titles—there may be one (or more) that pique your interest:

pan_annual_coverThe Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1: Okay, it’s not a graphic novel, but at 56 pages it’s still a pretty thick comic book, with three stories of Pan and the monsters that live in her New York City hometown. As regular visitors to this site know well, The Saga of Pandora Zwieback chronicles the adventures of sixteen-year-old Pandora Zwieback, a Gothy horror fangirl who possesses amazing powers that she just learned about, including the ability to see past the human disguises worn by monsters to blend in with society. And The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1 is a 56-page, full-color special that contains two stories by Steven A. Roman (that’s me) and one by Sholly Fisch (Scooby-Doo Team-Up, The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold), and art by Eliseu “Zeu” Gouveia (Lorelei: Sects and the City, The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0), Elizabeth Watasin (Charm School), and comic-art legend Ernie Colon (Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld). “Song of the Siren,” by Zeu and me, sees Pan run into one of her boyfriend Javi’s exes—who turns out to be a mythological siren! “After Hours,” by Sholly and Ernie, is about a demon who walks into a bar for a little downtime. And the short story “Shopping Maul,” by me, with Elizabeth providing title page art, involves Pan and her fellow Fiend Club friends dealing with Elegant & Gothic Lolita vampires in a Queens, NY retail outlet.

troubleshooters_lrg_coverTroubleshooters, Incorporated: Night Stalkings: Perfect for superhero fans, this graphic novel is about a supernatural team of superfolk-for-hire, consisting of a wizard, a sorceress, a female ninja, a high-tech-armor-wearing rock concert lighting designer, and a werewolf. Not every superhero team has Tony Stark’s billions to play with, you understand, and the Troubleshooters are just looking to earn a living while fighting the monsters that have always lurked in the shadows. Makes sense, right? Of course it does! Written by the husband-and-wife team of Richard C. White (The Chronicles of the Sea Dragon Special) and Joni M. White, and illustrated by Reggie Golden and Randy Zimmerman, Night Stalkings presents the TSI members on their first mission: protecting a multimillionaire from a trio of Middle Eastern demons out to raise a little hell! Critics likened it to an indie version of DC Comics’ Justice League Dark, so if you’re into superhero and dark fantasy mash-ups, then Troubleshooters, Incorporated might just be a team you want to check out.

Both titles are available in print and digital formats, so visit their respective product pages at StarWarp Concepts for all the ordering information, as well as sample pages.

Happy reading!

It’s Take Your Child to the Library Day 2017!

ghostbusters+library+sceneHey, book lovers and parents of book lovers! Today’s the sixth annual celebration of Take Your Child to the Library Day. To quote their website:

“Take Your Child to the Library Day (TYCLD) is an international initiative that encourages families everywhere to take their children to their local library. Launched in 2011 right here in Connecticut by librarians Nadine Lipman (Waterford Public Library, retired) and Caitlin Augusta (Stratford Library) with artist Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, TYCLD raises community awareness about the importance of the library in the life of a child, and promotes library services and programs for children and families.”

Before the Internet, libraries were the source for information and reading, and these days they can use our support. So head out tomorrow, introduce your children to that big brick building with all the free books to borrow, update the library card that’s been stuck in the back of your wallet for all these years, and renew your acquaintance with a vital partner in the ongoing literacy campaign.

For more information, including the list of participating libraries, visit the TYCLD website.