I’m ending the week and this series of blogs with my newest book release. The Original Black Panther has been a labor of love five years in the making, and I wanted the cover to be something truly special. Erik Hodson, Kevlen Goodner, and Sei Ozawa were all on my short list of artists for this project, but before I reached out to any of them, I heard from Adrian Johnson.
Johnson is a member of the “Cult of Cornette,” and he heard about the book from an interview I did on Jim Cornette’s project. Adrian sent me a link to his website and asked if I had a cover artist. I was impressed with what I saw, so we discussed details of what I was looking for, and he went to work.
To say he exceeded my expectations is to sell it short. This is one of my favorite book covers, and Adrian insisted on doing not only the front, but the spine and back. He stuck with I through multiple tweaks, and he was always quick to respond to the tiniest of adjustments in the final days. It looks beautiful on screen, and I cannot wait to have it in my hand.
Adrian’s work can be seen on his website. He’s a remarkable person and a great talent, and I hope this cover helps him to gain a lot of exposure. I can’t thank him enough.
Dr. D David Schultz’s autobiography was a truly international product, written in the United States and edited in Great Britain with a foreword by Bret “Hitman” Hart written in Canada. How did I finish it off? With a beautifully designed book cover created by Japanese artist Sei Ozawa.
Ozawa and I became friends on Facebook through Mad Man Pondo, whom Ozawa met during his tours of Japan. Ozawa has designed most of Pondo’s T-shirts over the years as well as shirts for many other Japanese and American wrestlers. Knowing how good he is and much Pondo admired his artistic skills, it was only natural I went back to Ozawa when I needed a cover for Pondo’s book.
Ozawa is an incredibly talented artist and an incredibly kind and generous person. I hope one day I am able to take him up on his offer to show me around if I ever visit Japan.
I’m bragging on my book cover artists this week, but I’d be remiss if I did not mention the incredible Kentucky artist who brought my kids’ favorite bedtime story to life.
I met Rick McGee the same way I met Kevlen Goodner and Erik Hodson – at a comic convention. Just as we now have art work of Kevlen’s and Erik’s in the house, we have art by Rick. As a matter of fact I have an original Rick did of my kids with the villain of that infamous bed time story, Frank Jordan: Evil Snowman.
It was so much fun working with Rick. His art work is always clever and creative. A vertical sketch he did of Indiana Jones descending into the Well of Souls is one of my favorite things hanging up in the house.
Rick gave real life to Frank Jordan: Evil Snowman, and despite the ominous title, the book is a hit with every child who gets a copy. If you are looking for something truly original and fun to read at bedtime, please pick up a copy on Amazon.
I first saw Erik Hodson’s work at a comic con in Louisville, and I immediately loved his work. It was a print of the Baroness from GI Joe standing in front of a H.I.S.S. that sold me on him, but his print of Sgt. Slaughter holding Cobra Commander and Hulk Hogan in headlocks was foreshadowing of what was to come for both of us.
I first used Erik to create the book cover of Space Kat, using actress Megan Mooney (who plays Kat in the trailer for the book) as the model for Kat.
I later went back to him to create a new cover for Martian Queen using my frequent collaborators Ally LaBar and Denny Grinar for inspiration.
Erik has become the go-to art guy for the pro wrestling world, and he was the official artist of Starrcast in September. I am certain he’ll be asked back for Starrcast II. We reconnected this fall, and he did a third cover for me – this one for the Bomb Shelter’s debut novel, A Scattered Timeline.
Simply put, Erik Hodson is an incredible artist. His work always amazes me. My kids have a Gravity Falls print of his hanging upstairs, and one of these days I’m going to get either Baroness or Sgt. Slaughter for my basement. It’s always a pleasure to work with him, to visit with him, and see what he’s created since our last visit.
I’ve decided to spend the week saying thank you to some amazingly talented artists who have contributed to my books. I’m starting with a man who has not only been a friend to me, but to my aspiring artist daughter Lydia.
Lydia and I met Kevlen Goodner at the Derby City Comic Con a few years ago. Lydia decided to cosplay not as a character but as an artist, and she and Kevlen hit it off. We bought a black and white print of the Peanuts dressed as Star Wars characters that now hangs in her room. Since that time the two of them have traded art a few times, and she now has a total of three prints of his in her room.
I hired Kevlen to do the cover art for Louisville’s Greatest Show. Kevlen really captured the essence of the artwork from the old wrestling newspaper ads, recreating the likenesses of promoter Heywood Allen along with the French Angel, Gorgeous George, and Stu Gibson. It’s one of my favorite book covers.
Kevlen had a serious medical setback a few months ago, and he’s been on the slow road to recovery every since. We are praying every day that he continues to improve so he can get back to what he loves – teaching and making art.
I’ve been a fan of Robot Monster since I discovered the movie on VHS at Suncoast Video Store more than 20 years ago. I bought it on VHS in 3D with the glasses, and yes, I still have them.
Robot Monster is the epitome of so bad it’s good. It is equal to Plan 9 from Outer Space in that category in every respect. Robot Monster Diaries is a work of love that sheds light on the quintessential B-movie (okay, D-movie) and reveals more trivia than you ever knew existed. You’ll learn all about the 3-D process, the amazing bubble machine, George Barrows and his famous gorilla suit, and even find out what happened to the suit and the helmet. There are even interviews with the three surviving cast members from the film, including one who has never spoken about the movie until this book. You’ll learn how the legend of Ro-Man has stayed alive in movies and television and on the Internet. My good buddy Jerry Williams and his series Astro Space Hero even get a mention!
Kevin Scott Collier is a kindred spirit, and this book is an absolute joy to read. If you love bad movies like I do, click here and get it now on Amazon. I cannot calculate how much you will enjoy this one!
Paul Regnier is my kind of writer. He’s a Christian author who infuses his faith into his work without sacrificing story or ever getting preachy. He’s a very funny writer, and his Space Drifters series is equal parts Firefly and Guardians of the Galaxy, which puts them right in my wheelhouse.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first two volumes in the Space Drifters series, and when I found today out there’s a THIRD book in the series that came out almost a year ago, I unfriended him, blocked him, and told him I would never speak to him again.
Yes, I’m kidding.
Paul’s books are fun reads suitable for pre-teens and young adults. (My kids are 9 and 11 and have full permission to read them when they want.) There’s a lot of action and sci-fi violence, but also a lot of humor. His merry band of space travelers argue and fight and come together to save one another like any great family. I love these books, and I look forward to whatever Paul does next.
My old boss Nevan Hooker is one of the most creative people I know. The man pushed me creatively into areas I never dreamed of going as a writer. When he stepped away from the children’s ministry publisher he founded seven years ago, I knew it wouldn’t be long before he was on to something new.
Nevan’s got a new website, where he reviews new books by some of today’s most influential authors. Now admittedly, the books you see on the page might not be what you thought you saw on Amazon.com’s best sellers page, but my guess is you’ll find his reviews for Atomic Hobbits and Francis Chan’s book of photos of people reading his other books in Starbucks will be just as entertaining as the real thing – if not more, in some cases.
So in case you didn’t notice, I stopped blogging almost a year an a half ago. You might notice this if you scroll down and see that my last post was in September of 2017.
I’m gonna give this a try again.
Lots happening in my life these days. Righteous Insanity is about to have a new life in the hands of one of my former students. My 11th wrestling book will be released soon. And recently, my past life as a sci-fi writer crossed over into wrestling with the release of the Bomb Shelter’s first novel.
Louisville’s self-described “geek family reunion” is less than two weeks away. I’ve been hearing about Imaginarium for years, and while other commitments will keep me from attending this year, it’s something I plan to check out in future years.
Imaginarium is the place for fans of sci-fi, fantasy, and other geek-related fandoms to gather, share ideas, and have fun. It’s less a place to go buy and sell books and more a place to hang out with like-minded creative people – although they have added a free admission book market this year as part of the convention featuring some incredible independent authors from around the region including Tony Acree, Lynn Tincher, Stephen Zimmer, Lydia Sherrer, and Atty Eve. I recently got hooked into Atty’s book My Beautiful Suicide, and she’s written two sequels so far. You better believe I’ll be hitting the bookstore if nothing else!
Imaginarium also includes a film festival, and festival favorite “Out of My Mind” will be screening for the second time in less than a month in Louisville. This is a MUST-SEE for writers and aspiring writers who are 18 and over (due to adult content), an incredible horror piece that Cindy Maples created based on my short story, “Drip Drip.”