Friday, January 10, 2020

RIP Professor. Neil Peart

Im sitting at work sad as fuck. Neil Peart is gone.

My two closest friends texted me within five minutes when the news broke. Dean, who has been a lifelong Rush fan hit me with the news first. We saw Rush together on their last tour in 2015. A couple minutes later Shane, my lifelong brother in life and music, texted me the news. They both knew how I would feel. They both share a deep love of music with me and an even deeper understanding of what this loss means.

Neil Peart wasn’t just a rock drummer. He is probably considered to be the greatest drummer who ever picked up the sticks. That is a debate, considering your own preference and musical interests. But any rock musician would put him in the top of their lists of influence. His methods, perfection and skill is absolutely beyond estimation. But Neil wrote all the Rush lyrics. So those words, were influenced by all sorts of fantasy and literature, who did comparisons with history and the psyche. All of it was from him. And the lyrics had substance. It went beyond just kicking ass and chasing chicks. Its not common in rock radio to be talking about integrity and honesty in a radio hit (Spirit of the Radio). Or even breaking down a love of a motor car (Red Barchetta). Or using history as a parable for a futuristic story about humans enslaves by aliens, inspired by German concentration camps that his bandmate’s family endured (Red Sector A). Or fuck, the granddaddy of them all: rebuttal of a totalitarian society who controlled and subdued creativity per potential rebellion, and it was a comment on their current state in their industry as artists (2112).

The examples go on and on. For me, i connected with lyrics about just wanting to be the cool kid in school, when I wasn’t (Subdivisions). And knowing you have to work hard to make your dreams come true (Something for Nothing). But today, i’m thinking about Neil, his life and the life of those whom I hold dear in my life and whom I share a love of music with. Its a garden to nurture and protect (The Garden).

Im sitting at work, devastated. Ive cried a lot today. Im sitting in silence. I want to turn on some Rush from my phone, but I don’t even know where to start. I’m not sure I can right now. I know it would turn me into a blubbering mess. Its yet another thing that changes for me as I grow older. You love a musician or an actor or an artist. They die, then you come back to the work and see it in a different way. Sad that its the end and you now have a complete body of their work, knowing nothing else will come from them. Amazed and sad at their work and performance, because it means so much to you. You use their art to define you and who you are. Like when I watch Star Trek now, I cry. Because I love those folks and miss them. He same it shall be now for Rush. I won’t hear it the same way again.

But most of all, I am grateful to have lived during the lifetime of those whose work spoke to me. Im grateful they gave me their art and grateful for who they were. Neil was a great man. A monster musician. A monster writer. And a humble, quiet, peaceful person. He endured the sudden loss of his daughter to a car accident, the loss of his wife to cancer and found happiness in continuing. He leaves behind a daughter who will have to find her own way now to cope without him. And he was so humble that even when he is considered the greatest, he cared enough about his craft that he re-learned how to play with teacher Fred Gruber. He changed his style and made himself better, without ego. That shows how much he cared and wanted to continue to grow and learn. He didn’t crave the attention or the limelight, in fact he ran out of the stadium after the last cymbal crash  to avoid it. He came,  he played and he gave it all to us. The best. The greatest. And he showed us how to be a great person.

This loss is incalcuable. For me on a personal level, it is devastating. I will not be the same again. RIP Maestro. The Professor. Thank you, beyond words.

“The treasure of a life is a measure of love and respect.
The way you live, the gifts that you give.
The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect.
So hard to earn, so easily burned.
In the fullness of time,
A garden to nurture and protect.”

—The Garden. RUSH off of CLOCKWORK ANGELS. Lyrics by Neil Peart. RIP

Thursday, January 09, 2020

A Bunch of Things

Hey friends! 
Well we crossed into the safe haven that was to be 2020 and our clean slate was met with the threat of total annihilation. I won't even go into the rock em' sock em' robots game that never seems to end. Let's just focus on our own back porch a bit shall we?
I keep blogging and writing because I enjoy it. It exercises my brain. I heard a comedian recently refer to blogging as "having a conversation that no one wants to have with you." I don't believe that. I follow certain writers and people who I know either through their work or personally and I love their words. I love to hear their day to day. I love to know they struggle too. It helps me. 
There are three artists, all of whom I have looked up to over the years, recently revealed their struggles. One had their artwork denied for a charity art auction. THEM! Are you kidding me? Their art is fucking awesome! You deny THEM?? Another whom I thought would be very financially secure is struggling to make his rent and has to do commissions to make ends meet. The third has to take meds, therapy and a bunch of other issues. Goes to show that everyone is going through something. Everyone you meet has a battle and a story to tell. Never forget that. 

So that is on my mind. Trying to police my own thoughts. Trying to be better at everything. I'm working hard at it. I'm working ahead on things like the Patreon and trying to catch up with everything I have out there and promised. I'm trying hard to keep promoting and play the game I have to play, while also taking the time to read a book, play a game, watch a flick I've been meaning to watch, etc. 
Life. Its beautiful!

Check this out: 

This year was the first time I publicly talked about STARSLAM. Not quite the anniversary of her first publishing. That comes in 2024 I think. I did create her and take her to San Diego Comic Con back in 2008, but she wasn't book published until 2014 I think it was. Before that she was online only. So what is the official anniversary? I don't know, but its coming up soon. She's been my life pretty much for the last few years. While I've done some other books here and there and a lot of erotica work on the Patreon and erotical collections, STARSLAM has been the baby I've been raising. Also, its my highest selling. Check this: 

With the exception of an ANNA POCALYPSE here and there, its all been my erotica work that has sold. I understand why and all that. But I still hope I am able to publish a slice of life drama/comedy that is PLEASANT LIFE and get the same amount of acceptance. Its one of the things that has held me back from doing the sequel to it I have been talking about for years. I have 60 pages done and I am slowly going to put them on the Patreon starting in March. So if you like PLEASANT LIFE, consider joining to read it! More on that another time. Let's talk about the now.

Twenty Five years of self publishing last year. TWENTY-FIVE. Look at this:

Original art from the Erotica Collections.

All the original art for STARSLAM RETURNS, my latest book.

Big tub of original art. 99% of it is mine. Some are by friends of mine that I have collected over the years. Also a painting tray from college!
I've done a lot of shit. Lots of books. All of which you can get digitally. Some physical are sold out. I don't reprint the majority of it. I should and keep it safe so people can get them. Maybe I will look into bettering myself at an online store presence. Just a whimsy I shall chase soon. 

My dad turned 75 yesterday. He's made it the farthest in age than anyone in my family ever has. I called him yesterday and he's doing okay. That is great, considering the great scare I had with him in October. I'm proud of him and honored to have him in my life. I really hit the parental lottery when it came to my folks. My mom will be gone 20 years this December. That is unreal. I still think about her everyday.

I'm going random here but there are many things on my mind. Many things I want to do and promises to myself and to you I want to keep. I'm working hard on the work, the day job, myself and everything I can squeeze in. I promise someday I will have it all figured out. Maybe you will too. Here's to the struggle!

Thanks for reading and supporting. I appreciate it. 


Monday, December 30, 2019

Goodbye 2019, and it Can Kindly Fuck Off

First off before I begin, allow me to plug. STARSLAM RETURNS (Digital) is now available for purchase and download at my online GUMROAD ACCOUNT. Simply click on the link and purchase. It downloads to you as a pdf. Please enjoy it. I'm quite proud of it.

I did a big wrap of of 2019 in the most recent IDIOTHEAD MORNING SHOW PODCAST. Please download that and enjoy my best/worst lists and all that. Its free!

One year in the life in our lives is gone and we celebrate the achievements we earned and mourn the losses we had. To sum it up in one sentence: 2019 for me just sucked. It wasn't a great year. I could go on and on about the various bummers and hurt I encountered and dealt with but I am just ready to move on from it all. I'm looking to 2020 to be a clean slate of opportunity to make things better. There are lots of things already planned and lots of things I want to do. I don't have resolutions, but I am calling them resolves.

The usual stuff is on there. Get my health in order, work on my finances, etc etc. But as would interest those in my art world I promote here on my site, I plan to do the following:

--Patreon shall continue and starting in March, I will be premiering PLEASANT LIFE 2 sporatically for all levels of support. From $1 onward, all will get to read that book first! Pages will be uploaded as they are done and will be free for my patron supporters to read.

--New monthly erotica stories will continue for the $8 and up levels on my patreon. Stories and themes already completed include: Ballerinas, bimbos, tennis players, BDSM/Lesbian Domination and much more. Its going to be an exciting time over there for those who like my NSFW content.

--In the spring there will be a new LATE NIGHT SHORTS book on Kickstarter. It collects all the short erotica stories that I have done for the Patreon. Watch out for it. BTW, Patrons of mine get a digital copy of it for FREE!

--Also in the spring, I will relaunch STARSLAM books 1-4 on indiegogo in an effort to draw in more readers. So if you missed a physcial copy of any of those books, look for that.

--Sometime in the fall, I will be finally releasing my "tell all" book about working in adult retail. I've been talking about it for years and now it is time to finally get that book out the door for all of you to read and enjoy.

--I mentioned this previous and I say it again here: After 2020 is over, I will NOT BE TAKING ANY MORE PRIVATE COMMISSION WORK. The only way to get commissions from me is either through a Kickstarter for one of my books (if it is offered) or through my Patreon reward tiers. Only $20 for that one... which is an excellent price considering all you are getting. But after December 31st next year, no more commissions. None. Thank you.

I have a few potential projects on the stove as well. Like a one shot comic done with my colorist. Finishing that Wise Intelligence graphic novel collection. Putting together a new STARSLAM one shot collection of all the side stories plus new ones... There is no telling what is to come in the new year. That is the good thing about it all. Its new and exciting! I know 2020 won't be pie in the sky. Its an election year in one of the most trying times I've ever seen in my lifetime. Seems like everyone is toxic and hates each other for whatever reason. Either over a movie reaction to core morals and fundamentals. We got a lot to slog through. But for my part I am right here with you and I shall strive to keep you titillated and entertained.

I hope all of you have a safe and happy new year. Be safe and keep everyone around you safe. Strangers and friends. We get through this together. Team humans. Team people. Eat,  drink and be merry. Let's die another day.

I have spoken. This is the way.


Monday, December 09, 2019

Great Time to be an old Geek

Its been a weird week for me. Its a week where we lost some BIG BIG BIG names in Star Trek fandom. I mean, Robert Walker, Jr. (Charlie X), D.C. Fontana and last night, Rene Auberjonois left us. Its odd for me as a man in his 40s now, watching his heroes slowly retire, drift away or pass away. In a world that is constantly telling you to "grow up" or that movies, comics and games are things for children... its pressure. And I would be lying to you if I said I never agree. Because sometimes I do. That maybe I had these things and I had my time with them. Those times are over and I have to move on.

But if you look around my home, you'll see its filled up as an entire museum of my life. Especially my early years. I have toys on the wall. I have in boxed Nintendo games. I have shelves and shelves of DVDs, Blu-Rays, Comics, Books, Magazines, LPs, CDs and so many other things. I still drink out of Star Trek 3 Taco Bell glasses from 1984. I watch old cartoons like The Real Ghostbusters or Scooby Doo. I play Mario and Ghostbusters for Ps4. On and on and on. I'm a giant man-child and I don't think I will ever grow up. I've come to terms with that and I like that about myself. I think my kids like that about me too. We share in these things together. Lately I've been turning my youngest into a Ghostbusters fanatic. He's got a jumpsuit and a proton pack and he plays the video game constantly. He's got toys for it and we watch the cartoon together. Its awesome!

The geeks have grown up and now they are making the media. Some get it right, some miss the mark of what made that thing so great. But really, it doesn't matter. We have SO MUCH of the right thing. Like STAR TREK. Okay, so older fans don't enjoy the new stuff. But we have so many old episodes, books, comics that get it right. I'm willing to bet that all the ranty fans online haven't seen or read all of it. Why focus on the bad? And okay, I wasn't a fan of the 2016 Ghostbusters movie. I gave it an honest chance but I felt like it wasn't funny and it missed the mark. There were things I liked about it, but ultimately, I wasn't into it. That is okay. Did I need to go online and threaten the makers or the actresses in it? Of course not. Why do people do that? I don't get it.

Perhaps the best thing about me growing older is that not only did I never leave these things, but I also left my elitism behind. I remember a younger, angrier version of me who judged anyone who didn't like this movie or that band.  I sometimes playfully act that way in front of younger co-workers who talk excitedly about anime or Pokemon and I say, "Whats a Pokemon?" Cause it is funny to "play" like I'm an old angry man, just barely tolerating the youngsters around me. But inside I am enjoying that they like something. They can dress up and play and collect, just like I did. Its actually awesome. It feels good to have let go of my elitism and put down the swords of a gatekeeper of the old cool things, so that when someone asks about it, I'm not all, "you weren't there for that and its only for me!" I'm more like, "wow... you got so much cool shit you missed out on. Let me show you." And I'm really happy to open the door for anyone who wants to check it out. I think its a much better way to be.

As I look to my left I got a shelf with an Enterprise ship and an Ecto-1 car on it. Both are screen accurate and immaculate looking. If I had these things as a kid, I woulda lost my mind. But I have them now. My kids have them. For all the wrongs that happen, there is a lot of right things to embrace as well. So why dwell in the negative? I am entertained by the ranters and naysayers who tap into the anger and use it as entertainment. Like the RED LETTER MEDIA youtube folks, or the ANGRY VIDEO GAME NERD. That is for entertainment. But those actual ranters... the ones who boycott and threaten and use their anger to spread hate and vitriol everywhere.... that I don't get. What is that? How can you spend your time dwelling in that head space? I feel sorry for you. Cause there is so much good shit out there. All you gotta do is go find it!

Aging is weird. Everyday I wake up, someone I liked is gone. A project I like ends. A creative team I liked has left a project. But then, new cool shit comes up. Its refreshed. Reborn. Because there will always be cool things to come. I can't tell you how excited I am for the rest of the season of The Mandalorian. or Star Wars Episode Nine. Or Star Trek Picard. Or Ghostbusters Afterlife. or the Creed movies. On and on and on.

Being an old geek ain't so bad. Drop the hate an enjoy it. There's no better time than now.


Thursday, November 21, 2019

Updates, 2020 Look Ahead...

Hey friends, thanks for checking back with me.

I haven't updated here much. Although at my Patreon, I post there a few times a week. Blogs, pinups, sketches, comics... Its really the place to be and it directly funds what I do. So if you want more me, join us by clicking: HERE

I'm super busy with day job overtime and wrapping up STARSLAM RETURNS. My colorist finished the pages a couple weeks ago and so word ballooning has begun. I got a lot of family stuff coming up in the next couple weeks (holidays, natch), so I am still hoping that December release will happen. Of course you will hear about it on my blogs and social media. If you missed the Kickstarter there will be opportunities to get digital and physical copies when its complete. Stay tuned.

I'm already looking ahead to 2020 and what that will bring into my life. I have a couple projects I want to focus on and complete, along with the monthly work the Patreon brings me. Unfortunately I've found that as I grow older and life has become more complicated, I've found that my time is more severely limited to work on the things I want to do and pursuing paid work and commissions have constantly put road blocks in front of progress on these things. Its not a bad problem to have, don't get me wrong. Getting paid for my art and seeing people enjoy it has been a privilege.  I'm forever grateful for those folks who do get my art and support me directly. But the drive to finish these things I have long since promised and keep delaying, coupled with a severe drive to want to do these things, funneled through a shrinking window of daily time to do them has been an extreme juggle for me. I have thought long and hard about what to do and what I WANT to do, and I think I have come to with a conclusion.

Freelance has to stop. Meaning, paid work and commissions. But I cannot stop it outright. I have clients I work with long term and its on things that are not finished yet. I cannot leave anyone high and dry on things. I would never do that. So I have come up with a compromise:

2020 will be the last year I will take commissions. 

There, I said it. It feels better to admit it. So I am giving the world 13 months to get whatever they want out of me until I close the door for good. Page commissions, story commissions, 8x11, 11x17, larger pieces... all of it will end on Dec, 31st 2020. No more. Zilch. Nada. Onward.

The focus will only be on my stuff and keeping the promises I've made to myself and to others. All the things will come. Also, more time with my family and friends. I've had a great run and I am grateful to all who have supported and will still support what I do. I never have taken you for granted. You've helped me keep the lights on in extreme times. I hold you all closer than you know. But I've just come to a point in my life where I just want to pursue the things I want to do and not make it so much of a "business" anymore. I've already stopped doing conventions, except for this anniversary year where I did reach out a bit. This decision is the next step.

Does this mean no more Commission tiers on Patreon? I haven't made a decision on that one yet. I am thinking I might keep that one for now. That might be an exception I will consider because its not all that much of a demand and its for the hardcore folks who support me and ALL THE THINGS I do. That might be the only way to get something from me. Also, I do often do story commission reward tiers on Kickstarters for new books. That might be the other way. But as far as me chasing down paid work, emailing me blindly and getting something done, nope. That ends on Dec. 31st, 2020.

So we got a year. Want something done? Something for the holidays this year? NOW is the time to get it done.  Details and pricing are here: CLICK HERE

I hope this decision isn't too disappointing to you. I've wrestled with this for a long time, so it did not come lightly. But this is the best choice for me and my future. But we got 13 months. There is plenty of time to get something nice for yourself, whatever form that will be in. All funds secured directly go to fund my future and my family. I got big life changing events happening in 2020. The money will certainly be put to use. So consider scoring a piece today or very soon. I do appreciate it and love you all.

Next time we talk will be my big year end blog that I always do. Let's talk then after Christmas!
Much love, T

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Mt. Pleasant FANTASTICON Recap!

Hey friends!

I'm back from a whirlwind of a vacation/convention appearance in my old hometown of Mt. Pleasant, Michigan! Its time for a recap of how it went down:

Every time I return to the old haunts, I have to take a stroll down memory lane and see what I remember, what remains and what is gone for good. I stopped through Shepherd and saw my old childhood home. Then we drive to downtown Mt. Pleasant and saw a few old places of note... like the BIRD BAR & GRILL... my old bar! (and also featured in the pages of my comic, PLEASANT LIFE!). Right across the street is the old WARD THEATER. A place where I worked and closed shop on back in 2001. Then of course I had to stop off at JON'S COUNTRY BURGER. All necessary stops when I am in town and full of memories! Here's an image dump:

We got to the Soaring Eagle Casino on Friday and chilled in the jacuzzi a couple of times, while sipping on some vodka and Mike bottles. On Saturday I reported to the FANTASTICON show floor and set up... but not before stopping for a breakfast pastry!

"mmm.... doughnuts..."


Two in the box, ready to go!

On Saturday I stayed steady. I didn't get pics of every commissioned sketch card but here are some TMNT ones I did for someone: 

I did a lot of cards for some really kind folks. But most importantly to me, I sold a lot of books! I sold out of my copies of STARSLAM 1-2, ANNA POCALYPSE and I was down to only two remaining PLEASANT LIFE books! Not a bad problem to have indeed! I also got rid of some original art and bacon bookmarks! I had a really good weekend, sales-wise... thanks to everyone who came out and supported!

It was a smaller show and more intimate to deal with people, which I prefer. Only downside to me was that the panel "room" was on the show floor and the speakers were right behind my table, behind a curtain. So sometimes people talking or music playing got so loud I couldn't hear anyone in front of me. It was a pain in the ass, but I dealt with it.

I ran into my brother, my old pals Shane and family, Jon K, Matt & Michelle and my brother stopped by and hung out for a while. And that was just a few old friends I saw. Many more stopped by and I made some new ones as well. That is always the highlight of these shows for me!

So now, I am safely back home. The dust has settled on another con appearance. Thus ends my "25th year anniversary in comics" celebration. Its been a long, strange trip, folks. But so rewarding. I'm glad to have spent it at home. But now my mind turns toward what is next. I finished the page art on STARSLAM 4 and I am beginning the new PATREON stories. Plus a new graphic novel after that. So much to keep rolling on! I cannot wait for what is to come. You'll hear all about it soon, I assure.

To be a part of it, the best way is my PATREON PAGE (Click here). You get monthly exclusive blogs, podcasts, pinups... then there are reward tiers to get monthly erotica comics and then even monthly digital commissions for 1/2 price of my regular prices! Its the best way to keep up with me as my updates here on are sporadic. I invite you to join my community I am building over there. All new stuff goes there first!

Thanks to all who came out to FANTASTICON and who took the time to stop by. I'll miss you until next time. Love to you all!


Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Abbey Road Remastered Review

If you are a hardcore Beatles nut like me then you woulda scored the ABBEY ROAD 50th ANNIVERSARY box set last week. I got the super deluxe edition with the big book, handwritten lyric scans, studio notes, outtakes, demos and of course, remastering of the album.

Most people when they hear "remastered," they don't take much stock in it. But with The Beatles, there is an exception. In 2009, all their albums were remastered and it was noticeable. I could hear the drums and bass higher in the mix and it sounded "warmer" from all previous CD ports.

*Note: I won't argue the sound of vinyl with this or other releases. I'm going to talk about CD only. Apologies to my sound nuts out there with a preference for wax. Much love. Also I won't debate the Stereo vs. Mono mix here. I'm just reviewing the CD box set. Choose your own preference.

So is this 2019 remaster worth listening to? ABSOLUTELY. Here is what I can say about it:

You've heard these sounds hundreds of times. But this time in headphones they sound fresher. Sunnier. Sparkier. Glassy. Just overall more shiny than ever before. The vocals are higher in the mix especially and you can hear the guys breathing in and out before singing more than before.

Also, the instruments are separated better. You can actually zone in and just listen to what Paul is doing on the bass or the enhanced deepness of the lower toms when Ringo hits them (Most noticeable in the SOMETHING intro and drum solo in THE END). You can hear little bass fills and playful things Paul does on songs more and guitars don't sound as fuzzy on songs like BECAUSE or I WANT YOU. Truly you can hear the song and think, "What is Paul playing" and can ignore the rest and zero in on just him and hear it! I've never heard it like this before. Truly wonderful.

One special thing I noticed is that HER MAJESTY starts and its full on in my right ear. Mid-song, its drifted to the center. By the end, its fully on the left ear! Just a little playful thing done for those who care to notice.

The song that sounded the best to me was SOMETHING. There are waves of sound there and they are completely separated. And George's vocal is higher in the mix and clear as if it were recorded yesterday.

I took the time to listen to the 2009 remaster and then switch to this new 2019 remaster and compare the first minute or so of each song just to see if there were differences, and truly there were. I must say I give G. Martin a big thumbs up for this mix. It might be my favorite way to hear my favorite Beatles album now!

I checked out the studio alternate takes and demos and its interesting to hear how these songs were formed. The real highlight is "THE LONG ONE," Which is the whole medley as one long 16 minute thing together, and with HER MAJESTY in its original spot between MEAN MR MUSTARD and POLYTHENE PAM. A glimpse of how we might have heard it had it remained that way. Personally, I like it taken out because it seems to lose momentum with it left in. But I'm also coming at that having it heard the same way for a long damn time.

Also, you hear a lot of laughing and chatting between the takes. Might help dispel the myths that they were super angry at each other during this period... unless they found the playful bits and put them in there to help sedate those old myths. But either way, it was nice to know and hear that the boys did have times of fun while making their final album together. 

Anyway, that is my review. Thanks for reading and go get that deluxe box set!