Friday, April 29, 2005

The Vow Pt. 16

In the next installment of "The Vow," events take an anticlimactic turn for former teen sidekick turned homeless guy Tim. Posted by Hello

The Vow Pt. 15

In this week's double-dose of my serialized comic "The Vow," GameFace takes gives notice, in a somewhat extreme way, to his former employer Despot-9. Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Gattling Dragon

Some days the sun still shines on Flyover Country. My Yahoo fantasy baseball team, in which I drafted only pitchers and took the scraps for bats, is currently in first place. And, astoundingly, I didn't get eliminated from John Layman's American Idol-style blog competition. Says John:

Hmmm. John Oak Dalton has movie that came out this week about Piranhas called Razorteeth. . He says his WWII supernatural thriller is currently is currently being filmed. Either this guy is a huge liar, or he deserves some respect. Either way, he's clearly a cut about all the rest of these losers.Previous Odds: 8-1New Odds: 4-1

Dang, if I was going to lie, I'd pretend to be this guy. Or say I wrote Saving Private Ryan but got screwed out of the credit. Next thing you know people will be saying that those hot Swedish babes on the Internet are actually fat guys living in their mom's basements in Toledo. And that can't be true--can it? Brigit?

But one can always add Razorteeth to your Netflix queue and see for oneself where I belong in the great foodchain of life.

That soft bubbling sound may be another project percolating, or perhaps the stuffed pizza slice I had last night.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Giant Soldier of Stone

Second-unit shooting began on HELLSHOCK this weekend, my WWII supernatural thriller being helmed by the Polonia Brothers. Updates are available at the Polonia Brothers fan site here. I'll be heading out to the set myself in about a month.

Somehow I'm still alive in the John Layman American Idol-style blog competition, though scraping the bottom. I have to try to be weirder, funnier, or cooler in some way.

Next Monday is finally Microcinema Day. Support grassroots DV!

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Mystical Space Typhoon

My piranha movie Razorteeth streets today. Please give me a heads up if you see it anywhere. It documents the perils of wearing a bikini in a lake full of carnivores. Though a lot changed in production from my rewrite, it is pretty enjoyable throughout for fans of wall-to-wall carnage. I have always been known to be tender-hearted with characters, but this one is Shakespeare-sized with one or two people left alive to explain to everybody else. My favorite scene is probably when unflappable sportsman Ken VanSant fishes the lake with a tow hook and a tricked-out truck.

Tom Cherry has also written about his perspective on 24 Hour Comics Day here.

A site called Blogilicious reviewed my blog, and points out that I write primarily about "very weird and unpopular b-movies and comics," which unfortunately are primarily my own.

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Monday, April 25, 2005

Fear and Lothing in Felt-Tip

My arm is still numb from fingertip to elbow, but here is my account of 24 Hour Comics Day, with apologies to the late Hunter S. Thompson....

We were somewhere around Daleville, Indiana when the Vanilla Pepsi kicked in. In the passenger seat was my brother, wild-haired and red-eyed on five hours' sleep. Some band called Mah-Jongg spat 70s funk smashed with electronica out of the speakers. In the backseat we had a dozen felt-tipped pens, a fat blue Sharpee, two mechanical pencils, three shades of drawing paper, a half-dried jar of white-out, a bottle of Tylenol, and a thick copy of last year's "24 Hour Comics Day Highlights." It was almost 9 a.m., and we had a dozen miles to go. I knew they would be tough miles. And many more miles to go before we slept. It was 24 Hour Comics Day.

I had started 24 Hour Comic Day at 4 p.m. the day before, doing preliminary research on the internet into Nedor heroes and getting some idea prompts from the official site. Then I went to dinner with my brother and family to celebrate his birthday, and stayed out too late talking about philosophy and life and so on. I learned the happy news that he would join me the next morning and draw his own 24 Hour Comic, a story in a fantasy setting. He would start at midnight. Meanwhile, the whole time my own clock was ticking. I drew about two pages and made the bold decision that I would do better after a few hours of sleep. I crashed out around 11:30 and got up at 5 a.m. I did four quick pages before I had to leave and pick up my brother a half-hour away, then head to Reader Copies in Anderson, Indiana, an official site for the event. Another hour gone.

Reader Copies in Anderson welcomed us with open arms, and plyed us with food and drink all day. I met Robert Flory, a professor at Ball State University with actual artistic talent, trying to tell the history of creation through his story. Mine was about a giant robot invasion.

At around 11 a.m. Tom Cherry joined us, another actual artist with one "noble failure" under his belt. Fresh blood gave the rest of us a shot in the arm, but a few hours later and we were all at low ebb together, the waves crashing on our splintered rafts. I genuinely didn't think I would finish, but so much interest from patrons of the store helped egg me on the last mile. I did 18 pages in seven hours, ending at 3:45. So I got a little frisky and drew the cover as well.

My brother ran out of steam, as did Robert Flory, but I later learned that Tom Cherry and his fish-headed friend crossed the finish line. We had left to go see "Sin City" and have BBQ to celebrate. But I was slowly slipping away, and fell asleep with Nedor heroes dancing in my head at about 10 p.m.

Thus, "The Liberator" was born, and if anyone wants a copy, give me a shout at

24 Hour Comics Day #6

The four stages of grief. Man, was my hand hurting. I should have trained. Posted by Hello

24 Hour Comics Day #5

This guy Eric was doing a "nerd Survivor" doc on the whole event. Later my brother and I voted ourselves off the island and went to see "Sin City." Note many, many people playing Yu-Gi-Oh, Mech Warrior, HeroClix, and D&D in the background. Posted by Hello

24 Hour Comics Day #4

Later we were joined by another talented guy, cartoonist Tom Cherry. His comic was about a kid whose friend is a giant fish-headed guy. Tom had done a "noble failure" once before but made it this time. Note more actual art supplies. Posted by Hello

24 Hour Comics Day #3

Evidence of Robert Flory's talent, including actual art supplies. Posted by Hello

24 Hour Comics Day #2

Behind us is an actual talented guy, an art professor named Robert Flory. They put us at the very front of the store, attracting the stares of curious passerby. Man, I drank a lot of cola that day. Posted by Hello

24 Hour Comics Day #1

My brother Eric and I in the early morning hours at Reader Copies in Anderson, Indiana. He is a lefty, me a righty, and thus live in harmony. Posted by Hello

Friday, April 22, 2005

The Pistol Shot

Right this second I am starting the 24 Hour Comics Challenge and will, the fates willing, be done at this time tomorrow (4 p.m.). I started off by surfing the 24 Hour Comics blog site and getting some random prompts. I have also decided to use the public domain Nedor heroes, which I have been toying with using in a project for some time; and this kind of oddball hook might be enough to draw some modest attention in my travels tomorrow as well (I am planning on working at two different comic shops in two different cities). I just got done surfing to find some cool images of them, so even though I have not touched felt-tip pen to paper I am officially off and running, methinks.

So I really shouldn't be writing in my blog! Until later, give me a yell at

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Scrambled Eggs

Got through my stash of small press comics from the Columbus, Ohio show. Street Angel #1, about a homeless girl fighting ninjas (!), was especially good; I also liked the offbeat Thankless Job, about a cubicle slave working for an evil super-baddie. The Pope Land book was fun, though the drawing was worse than mine; kind of reminded me of one of those crazy 80s zines with a kind of slapdash energy. Really a pretty good mix of stuff.

Surprisingly, someone who picked up my 24 Hour Comic Bad Eggs at the SPACE small press expo last weekend has already posted a review on-line, here.

I have written over 100 film reviews for, and have given out only one five-star review--until yesterday.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Magnet

I finally decided to bite the bullet and participate in 24 Hour Comics Day this Saturday. The planets are in alignment, as my entire family is out of town, thus allowing balls-out nerdom from me. I am going to the nearby town of Anderson, Indiana to an official 24 Hour Comics Day location, Reader Copies, a cool-looking store in its own right, and then meeting up with some friends later in the day, hopefully topping off the experience with a showing of "Sin City" or maybe "Kung Fu Hustle."

I'm percolating my summer spec script also. I always try to write a spec each summer, generally met with resounding silence from the general population; including my modern dress/original prose Shakespeare adaptation of an obscure play, and my nerd-terminator opus "Rook" (although a short version of the script sparked some interest recently). We'll see if I fare better this season.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Mask of Darkness

I touched base with Tom Cherry today in the wake of his visit to SPACE, a small press expo in Columbus, Ohio this past weekend. Shockingly, he was able to unload about half of the copies of my 24 Hour Comic Bad Eggs to unsuspecting customers. Even better, he brought me back a grab bag of goodies, obtained with the lonely $5 bill I sent him with. Tonight I'll be reading Street Angel #1, The Dream of Mr. Spit, Thankless Job, Pope Land #9, The Perils of Alternative Energy Girl, Mighty Guy #7, Righteous War, and The Grand Tour of Greek Mythology. That's a lot of small press for $5.

Still talking noise about doing this Saturday.

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Monday, April 18, 2005

The Vow: 14

Another slug of "The Vow" today. I realized I have been posting these more slowly than Rob Liefeld, thus the plot is unfolding slower than a Chris Claremont subplot. Here, our tarnished hero GameFace, with his unhinged former teen sidekick Tim, makes a fateful decision. Posted by Hello

The Vow: 13

Another installment of my serialized comic "The Vow," and another display of my dubious artistic talent. An anonymous poster over at John Layman's Blog (see sidebar), where I am in an American Idol-type blog contest, suggested I post more installments. Shockingly, this anonymous poster wasn't even me. Posted by Hello

Friday, April 15, 2005

Revenge of the Bad Eggs

Today I dispatched a homely, humble stack of my poorly-drawn comics with my pal Tom to a small press comic book show in Ohio. They can only make his own work look great by comparison. I sent along my 24 Hours Comic Book Challenge entry, "Bad Eggs," because--as a local comic shop proprietor pointed out--it doesn't look appreciably worse than ones I actually spent time on, and perhaps the "24 Hours" label will encourage some interest. As a fan of nerd extreme sports, I am giving serious thought to doing it again this year, coming up next Saturday. I also gave him $5 to pick up whatever strikes his fancy for me, and next week I'll report what $5 brings at a small press show in Ohio.

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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Enchanted Javelin

I got a nice email in response to my rant yesterday about the cinema-youth of today: oh... john... don't worry, i enjoyed battleship potemkin. and the director's cut of the abyss is fucking awesome. watch it.

I finished in the bottom half of John Layman's American Idol blog compeitition, but didn't get "elaymanated" this week. Feel free to jump over there and help a brutha out. He alarmingly includes this comment: John Oak Dalton is our resident movie buff in this competition. We'll got a special surprise just for John schedule for the next week or so, and that is reason enough to keep him in our competition.Previous Odds: 7-1New Odds: unchanged

I'm trying to remember how many nude pictures of me there are out on the 'net.

And, all the aspiring screenwriters who pray they do better than me one day, go here immediately.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Pauline Kael Has Risen From the Grave

I was wondering if the migraine I had the other night, one of the worst I had in years, is because I overhead some young film fans say that The Bicycle Thief sucked. Oh, and also Battleship Potemkin and The 400 Blows. The Bicycle Thief, which has one of the greatest acted scenes in films, I think, when the man giddily eats at the restaurant they know they cannot afford. Or Potemkin’s classic “Odessa Steps” sequence, mimicked and ripped off and paid homage to a million times over—these people INVENTED EDITING. Just like when people watch Citizen Kane and wonder what all the fuss was about; only that Orson Welles was inventing cinema language, mainly because NOBODY TOLD HIM HE COULDN’T DO IT. In some ways, I think, that was the first faint volley of what would one day become the grassroots DV world. One person said that she ‘couldn’t connect’ with Potemkin, and another that seeing The Untouchables ruined Potemkin for him. Eisenstein trumped by Kevin Costner. My temples throb anew. When I was a young film student twenty years ago there were people who preferred Top Gun or whatever but there was always somebody around willing to debate French New Wave and Italian Neo-realism. Are the young cinephiles of today really content to let Tarantino and Kevin Smith filter film history for them, with a 70s backbeat? I wonder.

Of course, I ran into this same problem last summer at Microcinema Fest in South Dakota, where filmmakers whose work I respected waxed philosophic about how great The Abyss, the freakin’ ABYSS, was. But then again I’m the guy who loves movies like Potemkin but writes Bigfoot and piranha and Frankenstein stuff. I wonder if anyone will care that I named characters in my World War II supernatural drama Hellshock for the Polonia Brothers after characters in some of my favorite war novels, including Catch-22, Johnny Got His Gun, From Here to Eternity, and The Big Red One.

Speaking of pop culture, John Layman, a talented comic book writer with a crazy blog, has entered me in an American-Idol style blog competition running at his site. He had this to say about my blog:

John Oak Dalton emailed me out of he blue yesterday, demanding to be a part of this blog, and assuring me he could put all you pansy-ass bitches to shame. His creatively titled blog, John Oak Dalton has its own admittedly poorly drawn comic (which seems pretty cool) and the guy likes B-movies. He also has a pretty cool name, so let's set his odds at:Odds: 7-1

So if you want to vote for me, pro or con, just zip over to here.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Gryphon Wing

Last night I had a chance to go out for pizza with a group of my college students and TV writer Ethlie Ann Vare, who has worked on CSI, Earth: Final Conflict, Renegade, Silk Stalkings, Andromeda, and a slew of others. It was interesting to hear her as a lot of her experiences--a writer's lonely life, long stretches between jobs, relying on luck and networking--echoed my own, but of course she earned enough money learning her life lessons that she has a Mercedes, and I still work in a basement.

A steady stream of malcontents are joining the Polonia Brothers Fan Club, so to appease their twisted appetites I posted some scripts there, as well as the first installment of a crazy fan fiction I'm writing set in the Polonia Brothers universe. You have to become a member to read them, but if you do, enjoy.

I had a blinding migraine last night and into the morning so I am having trouble making my fingers hit the keys today, in the long echoing aftershock hours. So until next time, give me a shout at

Monday, April 11, 2005

Live from Frog Baby

On Saturday I attended the Frog Baby Film Festival at Ball State University and saw a wide range of nice work, a dozen shorts in all. As with a lot of student films, it was a marriage of the mostly technically proficient and somewhat emotionally immature; only in student films do you see the brightest, prettiest co-eds falling for the most sullen shaggy-headed punks on campus (as seen several times here).

I was most impressed by “Catalyst,” a documentary about an artist working on a massive steel-and-limestone artwork to be displayed outside an Indiana cultural center, and the genial blue-collar men who helped her put it all together; a loopy absurdist comedy from the University of Utah called “Here Comes Private Investigator Kengo Koshiyamata;” the masterful production trickery of a dazzling little short called “Times Square Dance;” and a nice little relationship comedy-drama called “My Second Favorite,” which took the Grand Jury prize and grabbed a few other categories as well.

I was fearful of “My Second Favorite” at first because the opening scene shows two people eating cereal underneath a big movie poster and riffing on the pop culture playing across their TV, certainly as stereotypical a college movie scene post-Tarantino as there has ever been, but soon the plot’s twists and turns, and a number of good performances, take it in its own direction.

It’s great to see student films because you see that lightning is going to strike somebody, someday, and that’s the best time to be there; the smell of ozone in the air, the hair standing up a bit, right before the flash of brilliance.

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Saturday, April 09, 2005


Today is the first pretty weekend day of the year so far. Thus I will be out in the yard raking, mulching, and other manly chores as decreed by my wife in the early hours. Later today I am going to the Frog Baby Film Festival at Ball State University, a student film fest, where I will see the next generation of people to rocket to stardom while I toil in my basement office. Then tonight I am going to ANYTHING GOES as performed by the theatre department of the college (I have had season tickets for many years) and probably go out to dinner after. A full day of outdoor pursuits and the inner mind. Sort of a Thoreau thing, only with cornfields all around instead of the placid Walden pond.
Last night the kids were gone, so my wife and I cooked filet mignons on the grill and drank a few pitchers of margharitas. Later we decided to watch a movie and saw the flaw in Netflix--we might have wanted to see, say, a romantic film, but Netflix does not recognize the whims of a spring evening and resolutely dispatched a documentary on architecture and VERA DRAKE, a British drama about a woman giving illegal abortions. Being 30 minutes from Blockbuster has many positives and a few serious negatives.

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Friday, April 08, 2005

The Vow Pt. 12

A double dose of THE VOW today. Here, our tarnished hero GameFace, the artist previously known as Man-Dozer, meets some archetypal former comrades. Posted by Hello

The Vow Pt. 11

Another chapter of my poorly-drawn serialized comic strip THE VOW. In this episode, GameFace meets a former teen sidekick fallen on hard times. Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Over at the Frankenstein Lanes

Christopher Sharpe has posted the first, tentative blossoming fragment of moving video for SEX MACHINE over at his blog, and it looks pretty sweet to me. In this, we see our metrosexual Frankenstein protagonist knocking down some pins. Not a critical plot point, but a nice-looking clip.

My pals over at Cinema Minima posted some interesting news about the Nigerian b-movie industry, of all things, which is booming like crazy. Man, I could go over there and be like the Nigerian William Goldman.

More tomorrow; until then, give me a yell at

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Return to the Mailbag

Back to the mailbag, and this email from loyal b-movie fan Carin:

hey john- i watched among us today... i was really surprised at how professional it looked. and i had no idea you could play such a convincing bigfoot... i gave it a five on i bought that and peter rottentail at now that razorteeth is out i just might have to get that too. i like to support the "little guys". oh, since you were bigfoot at times, maybe you can answer this... what was the cairn for? they didn't find anything under it. if there's no answer- you can just make one up. that's fun too. in peter, i did think it was great that he stabbed people in the head with a carrot and that it made that "boing" sound everytime he hopped. i was cracking up.

Carin, thanks for writing and I am glad you enjoyed the movies. RAZORTEETH, out in just a few weeks, is more of the same. The cairn in AMONG US was actually based on Bigfoot lore; often times at Bigfoot sightings these piles of rocks are found later, so I wanted that to be an element of the story. Nobody has ever ascertained what they are left for, and certainly not our somewhat bullheaded lead character. In the story, movie director Billy D’Amato’s willful destruction of the cairn ends up being the impetus for the Bigfoot attack later that night. If you watch carefully, the round rock that comes through the window, that the science-nerd Wayne picks up, was from the cairn. After the shoot, I took that round rock home and put it on my bedside table. Someday, when AMONG US reaches its full-fledged cult status, I will sell it on ebay and buy that writer’s retreat by the shore.

Of course, I wanted the cairn to be about four feet high, but there was no convenient rock quarry nearby, so we had to make do.

I remember that Wayne, actor Jon McBride, told me he was laughing all the way through the script on first read-through because of all the crazy details I made up about Bigfoot lore. Actually I didn’t make any of it up. I based it on research I did about sightings, and tried to incorporate a lot of those elements, like the “Minnesota Iceman” and yes, even the memorable monologue about the pyramid of poo.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

PBE Fan Club Roll Call!

Banner ad for the Polonia Brothers Fan Club. Learn more, if you dare, here: Posted by Hello

The Polonia Brothers' Basement Lab

Mark Polonia checks out a pretty cool monster head for an upcoming production, while young Anthony Polonia stores up things to tell his therapist one day. Even more photos at the Polonia Brothers Fan Site here: Posted by Hello

Monday, April 04, 2005

Days of Wine and Tinfoil

On Saturday I went to see comic book writer Geoff Johns at a comic book store appearance in Muncie, Indiana, my hometown. Pretty big news in the nerd community, as in this great flyover country it’s not like we stumble upon John Byrne having a moolatte down at the corner coffee shop or John Romita Jr. buying canned goods at the ma and pa grocery. The last person I recall seeing in the flesh was John Ostrander lo so many years ago, at the outset of his great SUICIDE SQUAD run. Later I sold this autographed #1 issue and a bunch of other great stuff at a comic book shop in Wisconsin for food money, and have regretted it ever since.

But, hard-core comic book trivia fans may ask, what about SUPERMAN and X-MEN scribe Steven T. Seagle, who was an adjunct faculty at Ball State University right across a narrow sidewalk from your own humble office? True, and we shared a comic book store, and I would be writing about our long-lasting friendship based on mutual interests right now if I had ever had the good luck to meet him. Perhaps this could have happened in a happier, parallel universe, where I am not, as pointed out many times before, actually the Bizarro John Dalton, slaving away in a basement office while Mr. Seagle writes iconic characters like this.

I’m not sure how great a comic book writer’s life is, though. Several years ago I went up to Wizard World Con in Chicago to participate in the Marvel Comics talent search. You could submit a fill-in issue idea for either WOLVERINE or THOR, and I had started thinking about the aforementioned Mr. Seagle’s run on the late, lamented ALPHA FLIGHT, and how the book ended rather abruptly with a character named “Box” still a prisoner of a cultish villain group called the Zodiac. I thought Box’s wife, Diamond Lil, might recruit Wolverine to go rescue her husband, and so I wrote about it.

I went to the Marvel booth and stood in a long, long, long line, as the guy at the head of it was giving careful critiques to people’s portfolios. When I finally got to the front with my handful of script pages the guy took the pages and threw them in a previously unseen overflowing grocery bag of scripts at his feet, muttering a simple “thanks.” And my mouth snapped shut mid-pitch and I took my free comics and left.

Some time later Frank Tieri launches the new WEAPON X book, and the first thing that happens is the gang goes and rescues Box. And so it goes.

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Geoff Johns #1

My old pals the Wilkinson Brothers in line to see great comic book writer Geoff Johns at Alter Ego comics in Muncie. Doug (left) and I used to host a comic book cable-access show in Muncie, but the appearance of us and Geoff Johns in the same place made fans too fearful to approach us. If all of our mothers hadn't thrown our comics away twenty years ago, none of us would have been there. Posted by Hello

Geoff Johns #2

My pal Doug Wilkinson and comic book writer Geoff Johns also share some male bonding, and a moment of reverent silence, upon remembering Jon Ostrander's SUICIDE SQUAD. Posted by Hello

Geoff Johns #3

Comic book writer Geoff Johns looks deep into my soul and finds a kindred fan of POWER MAN AND IRON FIST there, and immediately accepts me as a brother. Posted by Hello

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Unfriendly Amazon

Blogger's been a bit wonky, for some reason, so this update will be brief.

I spent the day yesterday in Indianapolis judging media entries for the Indiana Arts Commission grant process. Of course this is splitting up a woefully small pie. It's like that old joke about the military having a bake sale; one day you hope it will be like, "oh, you need three fighter planes over Fallujah? Gonna have to do it with a coupla Humvees, sorry, otherwise there's no money for those tanks for Iran." Anyway, a lot of really interesting, worthy, projects submitted there.

Lots of possibilities for a next project. Right now I'm trying to polish up a few more odds and ends on Terrence Muncy's COW BOY and preparing to head out to beautiful Pennsylvania for a few days in May to see a little of the shooting on the Polonia Brothers' HELLSHOCK. Speaking of which, many people have come out of the woodwork at The Cult of Polonia here, and there are a lot of interesting posts.

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