When the sun is shining, a light breeze is blowing and you couldn’t ask the weather to be any better, Juneau, Alaska is a pretty amazing place. It’s on day like this that my wife discovered a new hobby. She loves to fish. She, along with my brother Abe, who runs a fishing guide company called Hooked On Juneau, go fishing together.
Last Sunday, Hannah got up and went out fishing with Abe’s tour group, caught her second king and first three pink salmon ever. The thought of this is a little crazy to some who live here. Hannah and I have been a part of Juneau for the last seven years and neither of us have been very inclined to the nature side of things. Most people you run into around here enjoy going for hikes up the mountains, going hunting or fishing. Others enjoy boating around or rock climbing. So as my wife has gone telling her friends that she got her second ever king salmon and showing them her proud photos on her phone she gets a lot of strange looks and comments. Things like “You have lived here for ever. How are you only just now catching salmon?”
The short answer is just that she has not gone fishing before. This is starting to look like a new chapter in our lives. Well, her life. Becoming a fisherwomen.
Last week, I posted a short story I wrote called, ‘The Hill‘. The story of a girl living with in an abusive home, who befriends a young man living in the apartment building across the street. I thought I would share my thinking process and how I finally got to putting words down to create this little love story.
I had three main inspirations that lead me to create this story. So, in the order in which they influenced me. Here they are.
In my early twenties, I had a two bedroom apartment with a roommate. Because of my job and band, I preformed with at the time, I was always coming and going from my apartment at all odd hours of the day and night. I recall, quite vividly, times that I or my roommate and I, stood outside our apartment and could hear the physical acts of violence taking place in the house across the street. It would be so loud you could hear yelling and objects breaking. I remember saying to my roommate, “I am glad they don’t have kids.”
It was such an oddity for me to have experienced such a thing that the image of that house across the street and all the, What Ifs, in my mind at the time really stuck with me.
Over the years, I played with the idea of what if they kids. What would that be like for them. From that, the story really started to take shape.
In trying to develop the characters, I would say the Sidney Poitier movie, ‘A Patch of Blue‘ was a big help. The age difference between Gordon Ralfe (Sidney Poitier) and Selina (Elizabeth Hartman), along with all the conversations that take place between the two characters as they get to know each other through out the film was a huge influence on me. It really helped me develop the characters of Jack and Jill. Even thought I saw this movie way earlier in my life, I only found myself turning back to it after I decided there was a story here for me to write.
Lastly, the nursery rhyme, ‘Jack and Jill’. This hit me early on when I started actually writing. These characters needed names and the story really needed something to tie the whole thing together. I started thinking about how I wanted the story to end. Something sweet that implied hope. Jack and Jill just popped in my head as I thought about it. How the characters “took the exit and followed the ramp up to the top of the hill, where he pulled in the the restaurant’s parking lot.” enforces the whole rhyme.
Jack and Jill went up the hill To fetch a pail of water.
The first draft of the story and a bulk of the writing, I wrote in a web application called Write Box. Being able to change the background color to black and the text color to green really helps my Dyslexics eyes see what I am writing.
After the first draft was written, there were three subsequent drafts of edits and modifications, all done with Google Documents. Google Documents allowed me to share out the story to friends and people who’s opinions I trust when I am looking for feedback or advice.
That’s how I did it. I hope you enjoyed the story.
With Megaton on the loose trying to retake leadership of the Decepticons and a government plot to subdue the people amid rising fears of Transformers presents on earth comes issue 15, ‘I, Robot-Master!’
The cover of issue 15 is a comic book cover on a comic book cover. The comic is black with a white and blue Transformers logo at the top. The cover depicts another comic on the cover called ‘Robot Master’ with Megatron, Bumblebee, Soundwave and several other Transformers in the background. At the bottom is the Robot Master himself, Donny Finkleberg. On the left side of the comic reads in bold black lettering “THE MAN BEHIND THE MACHINES!”
In this issue Megatron is scowering across the land looking for fuel. Eventually his body powers down in a Wyoming Coal mine like some great statue. His mind the only thing still functioning.
The Intelligence and Information Institute (I.I.I.) searches for a way to explain the Transformers tot he public that will be calming and prevent a wide spread panic. In a I.I.I.’s meeting to discuss options, G.B. Blackrock tries and fails to convince the governmental agency that the Autobots are earth’s friends and the Decepticons are everyone’s enemy. At the end of the agency’s meeting everyone is sent home to come up with an explainable cover story and not to return without some ideas.
Walter Barnett, a Triple I agent trying to come up with a cover story finds one while flipping through a copy of his son’s comic book, Robot-Master. Walter flies out to Marvel Comics’ head quarters to meet Robot Master’s Writer, Donny Finkleberg who has just lost his job. Walter takes Donny out to lunch where Walter discusses bringing Robot Master to life. Donny accepts the job offer.
On TV the next day the whole country’s Television programs are interrupted by Donny Finkleberg dressed up like Robot Master. He states that all the Transformers are under his control. The Autobots who see this are confused and ask G.B Blackrock for help understanding what is going on.
The following day a second broadcast shot at the Wyoming Coal mine uses a disable Megatron for Robot Master’s backdrop. This time the broadcast not only catches the attention of the Autobots but also the Decepticon, Soundwave. He goes out to find Megatron and refuel him. The Autobots know that Megatron could still pose a threat so they Transform and roll out. This is the first issue to have Optimus Prime actually utter the phrase “Transform and roll out”.
The Autobots arrive at the Wyoming coal mine, but the human military reacts negativity to their presence. They don’t seem to understand the difference between Autobots and Decepticons. Soundwave, Laserbeak and Ravage arrive at the mine with fuel for Megatron. Once consumed he becomes active again. The four Decepticons start destroying everything around them and the Autobots are to damaged by the human military to help stop them. So, they retreat.
Megatron wants to kill the “Robot-Master” for claiming control over him during the TV broadcasts. But Donny Finkleberg convinces Megatron that continuing to tell the humans that the Autobots are as much of a threat to the them as the Decepticons on TV, the Autobots’ effort might continue to be stopped. Finkleberg’s life is spared for the time being.
Recently I was contacted by Brennan from Texas. He sent me a picture of his new comic book wall using the directions from my IKEA comic book hack. Brennan had the following story to share with us about this comics and his new comic book wall.
After most of my comics got destroyed in a flood about 6-7 years ago, I stopped collecting. But my parents found a box of stuff I stashed away in their garage and it turned out, most of my favorite issues and cover art were inside. Growing up, I was a bigger fan of the B-list Marvel heroes, guys like Dr. Strange, Moon Knight, Iron Fist, Black Panther and Black Knight. So naturally, I wanted a relatively inexpensive way to display them. After doing a little online research, I came across Youseph’s site and liked the results I saw.
There’s an IKEA near where my folks live in Dallas and I bought 16 frames for under $40.00, picked up some black card stock at the Hobby Lobby and some Command Picture Hanging Strips, so that there wouldn’t be any damage to my walls. I chose 16 of my favorite covers from the 40 or so books I had left in my long box and my girlfriend helped me hang them up in the office.
She loves them, I love them. The result was perfect. Now we’re thinking about hanging up 16 more in another part of the house! If it wasn’t for Youseph’s site, we’d have probably spent a lot more money. Thanks for the smart and effective tip!
If you have a comic book wall using the IKEA hack found here, please contact me. I would love to see how it turned out for you.
Back when I started my reviews of the original Transformers comic books, I wanted to do something different then what I was seeing on other web sites. I decided one thing I could do differently was post the letters kids wrote to Marvel about the comic books. At the time these where called, TransMissions.
As I sat copying these letters from each comic book into my post I couldn’t help but think how cool it would be if one of the kids who wrote these letters so many years ago found my post and tried to contacted me about it. Well that very thing happened to me just recently.
Jeb Hoge, was one of those kids who wrote into Marvel Comics back in the 80s. On my review of Transformers issue 5, Jeb wrote in to me and commented:
Cracked me up! I was using Google to look for some old things I’d published online and saw my name show up here. Yes. I did write that letter to the editor in 1985. Never thought I’d run across it here. :-) And I think I still have this issue.
Praising Marvel on Transformers, Jeb’s original letter from the 1980s read:
Dear Marvel, I would like to compliment you on TRANSFORMERS. I have two of them and they are terrific! Hats off to you! – Jeb Hoge, Tullahoma, TN
Communicating with Jeb since he contacted me about the post, he recalled how excited he was to see his letter printed in issue 5 of the Transformers comic. The cover of issue 5 is so iconic now, I can’t think of a better issue to have your letter published in.
Jeb was kind enough to do a quick interview with me about the Transformers comic book, his life since he wrote that letter and if he is still a Transformers fan today.
Youseph: How did you discover the Transformers?
Jeb: I was born in 1974, so that put me right in the target market when Transformers first came out. I’m not sure if I found the toys or the cartoon first, but I do remember having to go to a friend’s house to watch the cartoon. I also had the first four TF comic books, and then the fifth. I’d say Transformers were in my top three of all toys, along with Lego (naturally) and GI Joe.
Youseph: Where did you get your Transformers comics from?
Jeb: I first started getting comic books at a local drugstore that just happened to have them. My favorite was “GI Joe,” which started up right around when I was just old enough to get into comics and “big kid toys,” but when “Transformers” hit the racks, I started buying them too. Later, I found a proper comic book store in town that was fun, but I never got hugely invested into comic books as a medium.
Youseph: You found my website because I republished a letter you wrote to Marvel about the Transformers comic. What compelled you to write to them? What was it like to see your letter printed in the back of the comic?
Jeb: The letter I wrote to Marvel was just the kind of thing that an excited, avid comic book reader did at the time. I’m sure my mom encouraged me to write it, too, but you’d never expect to get it published. So when I saw my name in Issue #5, it made my year. I showed it off to everyone, I think.
Youseph: Who are you today and are you still a Transformers fan?
Jeb: Now, I’m almost 40 and I’m a married dad of three little boys. Two of them are old enough to be Transformers fans too! They watch the original cartoon series thanks to Netflix streaming. I wish I had the old toys to share with them, but those are long gone. I do tell stories about when I had them and how I played with them, so it’s a really nice connection between my kids and my kid-at-heart self. My oldest has even gone online to look at pictures of the original series of TF toys and I’ve given thought to seeing what they go for on eBay, just to surprise him with an old-school Soundwave (“See, son, they used to have these things called ‘Walkmans’…”). Sometimes I get quizzed on different Transformers’ abilities, but mostly they just like them for what they are, and that’s good enough.
As for what I do, I’m a technical writer in Richmond, VA. That’s not terribly interesting, though. :-)
Thank you Jeb, for taking the time to do this interview with me. It was a pleasure to meet you. I hope I get to hear from more of you out there who may have written into Marvel back in the day.