A Galactic Quest (And An Inaugural Podcast!)

Last night I got the chance to interview a great friend of mine, Ashton Adams, by phone. The occasion? The release of Galaxy Man #4, written by none other than Ashton himself. It was a great chat, and produced a great blog post, but I also used the opportunity to try a little something different: I recorded the entire conversation and have turned it into the inaugural Jason Muses Podcast.

Of course, it may end up being the only Jason Muses Podcast, but that’s another matter entirely.

Here is the podcast in its entirety, and beneath that you’ll find the blog that I wrote based off this conversation. Let me know what you think about both!

Jason Muses Podcast – Ashton Adams

A Galactic Quest Fulfilled

I grew up reading comic books. Batman, Spider-Man and X-Men primarily, though every once in a while I could be talked into another title if the art were cool enough. I had friends who collected some of the more esoteric stuff, and some that collected nothing but the kind that were pretty much commercials for crappy toys. Regardless of type, there was something magical about getting lost in those illustrated pages for a couple of hours that became an essential part of my childhood.

And so it was that I met Ashton Adams.

I’m leaving out a lot of the story because there’s just not enough time, but long story short, I met Ashton during high school and we became fast friends because we both loved comic books. Well, that’s not quite true; I loved comic books. Ashton loved comic books. Loved the stories. Loved the characters. Loved the art. Loved the genre for the genre. It was that passion that gave us a lot to talk about.

Would Superman beat up Batman? What would happen if Wolverine ended up with Jean Grey? How often did superheroes need pee breaks?

We spent hours reading comics, talking comics, and, eventually, creating comics. And it was those creative endeavors that first led us to Galactic Quest Comics. Galactic Quest was a store owned by Kyle Puttkammer, a fella who didn’t seem too much older than Ashton and myself, and who loved comics on a level that surpassed anything we’d ever seen. Kyle was so into comics that he even sold the official comic Bristol pages – the kind with blue lining that the pros used when drawing our favorite books.

Naturally, Galactic Quest became our go-to comic store.

Then life happened. We roomed together freshman year at the University of Georgia, but our lives during college went in different directions. So did our lives after college. You know how it goes: things change. You meet people, you get married, you start your career, and many of the the things that used to define you fall away and get replaced by other things.

Except for Kyle and Ashton. There was still a love for comics through it all. In fact, as Ashton said in a phone interview last night from his home in Suwanee, “Some people might say, ‘Oh, you’re immature,’ and some people might say, ‘Well, I’m young at heart,’ as I like to put it. But I have stories to tell.”

One of those stories can be found in Galaxy Man #4. Now, if you don’t know Galaxy Man, that’s okay; it’s the brainchild of Kyle, who noticed that the comics in his store weren’t necessarily for kids anymore. A father himself, Kyle wanted younger kids to have a comic all their own, one that was written with them in mind. So Kyle and a local artist named Allen Belk went to work.

The concept was the stuff of comic tradition: a family who loses their astronaut mother while she’s on a mission to Mars; a father, Stanley Quest given super powers when a meteorite crashes near his observatory; a helpful sidekick named Cosmic Girl who hides a secret identity. This rich platform became the beginning of Galaxy Man. After the first three issues, the writer Kyle was using stepped away from the project.

Enter Ashton.

Having been a customer of Kyle’s for years, and having developed a rapport with one another (even going so far to develop other comic projects still in the works), Ashton volunteered to step into the void. Kyle was hesitant.

“Well, Kyle said, ‘Listen, I’ve read what you wrote for this other project and I like it a lot, but this is a completely different field.’ But, if you can write a scene or two of Galaxy Man and show me what you can do with the character, then we’ll talk about you writing it.’ And I went home and wrote an entire comic book script.”

That initial script wasn’t used for the issue, but it more than showed Kyle that Ashton was capable of handling the book. He hired Ashton on the spot to write Galaxy Man #4, and after months of hard work, the book is now available in print and in digital form (via Comics Plus on the iPad). And perhaps most exciting, Galaxy Man was recently added by Diamond Distributors, the official clearinghouse for all things comics.

Now, anyone can walk into their local comic shop, ask for the owner to order Galaxy Man, and the owner can look in the Diamond catalog and find it. It’s as legitimate as anything from Marvel or DC, and it’s a huge step for an independently produced book. In fact, Kyle recently went to Chicago to speak about independent publishing in the comic book world and both he and Galaxy Man were well received.

Two weeks ago, Kyle hosted a signing party for Galaxy Man at his Lawrenceville store, and fans of the book turned out by the carload. Ashton said it was nice to feel like a rock star for a couple of hours. “You had these kids asking you to sign their books for them, and they were so excited. It was a great moment for me.”

It was also reconnecting with his childhood in a way. “This is just the natural way for me to tell my stories,” he said. “I was not ready in my teens or in my early twenties to be a writer, and certainly didn’t have the experience to write for kids. I’m an expecting father, but I’m not a father yet, but I do have nieces and nephews, and it was my experience with them that allowed me to tap back into my own childhood and write about what would be appropriate in entertaining the kids.”

But now comes the hard part: getting the word out. While sales at both of the Galactic Quest locations (Lawrenceville and Buford) have been good, the hope is for other local stores to begin carrying the book. With so much emphasis lately on keeping things local, it only makes sense to share our stories too, and this is a story that is completely family friendly: the goal of Galaxy Man has always been to produce a comic that a parent could either give their child to read or, even better, read with them.

Ashton feels like they’ve accomplished that. “One of our models is Pixar: where they really tell great stories that kids love but adults can enjoy too. Uncles, parents, aunts, grandparents – they can enjoy it with the kids in their lives.”

So how can you help? Buy the book. Head to your local comic shop and ask for it by name. Download the digital edition. Read it with your kids. Share a little of the magic from your childhood.

And when you do, you’ll share a lot of magic with some local talent hoping to make the comic book shop safe again for kids of all ages.

My First Book Is Now Available For iPad and iPhone

The new cover for my book, Blue Like the Sky. Now available for your iPad and iPhone.

So I’ve written before about my first book, Blue Like the Sky, and how I published it through a company called Blurb. Like any good self-published and control freak author, I have gone back and done a little work on the book, adding some new content, changing the cover art, rearranging pictures–making it available as an ebook on your iPad or iPhone.

Yes, you read that correctly. Blue Like the Sky is now available as an iBook for $4.99.

I know not everyone has an iPad, but I’m pretty sure that a lot of folks have an iPhone. Regardless of which device you use, you can download my book to your iBooks and read me wherever you go!

And, no, that link won’t take you to the iTunes Bookstore. It’ll be at least two weeks before the book appears there. But it’s coming.

I’m a little fuzzy on this whole selling books thing, mainly because in just writing a couple of the sentences in this blog I’ve felt extremely narcissistic and self-aggrandizing. My ambition has always been to write and sell books, and hopefully be good enough to sell lots of books, but there’s just something in the self-promotion that feels creepy. Vaguely wrong. Immoral, even.

I know that all authors have to sell themselves if they want to make it, and nobody will buy what they don’t know is available, I suppose. But I guess for me, I don’t want to promote my stuff too much for the fear that people will resent the promotion and take it out on the book. And I’m really proud of Blue Like the Sky. It’s not groundbreaking in any literary sense, but it’s an honest walk through a man’s death with that man’s family. There may be people who need this book, and I don’t want to turn them off.

So here’s where I find myself. I’ll keep the link to my bookstore active, and I’ll let you know when the book is available in the iTunes Bookstore, but beyond that, I’m not going to mention this much, if any, again. If you like the work, you like the work. I would achieve greater satisfaction as an author in knowing that whatever books I sell come from people thinking enough of the work to recommend it to someone else, and so on. And if you enjoy enough to recommend it to a friend, hopefully you’ll enjoy it enough to write a rec on the website. But I’m not going to push.

I’m happy just knowing that my family has been blessed by the book, and knowing that 10 or 12 of you have been too. Everything else beyond that is gravy.

Thanks for reading–you are an encouragement to me. All the best to you.

I’ve Published My First Book!

The cover to my first book, "Blue Like the Sky". It ain't fancy or nothing, but it's mine.

If you’ve read the blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably caught on to the fact that one of my goals is to be a published writer. I’ve had success getting into magazines (both print and online), but I’ve never been able to get an agent or a publisher interested in any of the books I’ve submitted.

While I still long for the day that I can sign my name to a publishing contract, my days of waiting for my first book to be published are over.

I’m happy to announce that my first book, Blue Like the Sky, a collection of my blog posts about my grandfather, is now available through Blurb.

Sure, it’s self-publishing, but that doesn’t diminish my satisfaction in the slightest. The books are cheaper than what you would have to pay if they’d been traditionally published (with the exception of the full-color hardback with dust jacket – holy crap, they think a LOT of those puppies. I recommend the black and white version), but that doesn’t matter because profit isn’t my concern. I mean, it’s nice, but I didn’t publish this for the money.

I did this A) because it is my way of coping with my grandfather’s nearing death; B) because I think there are some people who would want to read it as a way of helping them cope with their own grief; and C) just to finally accomplish one of my long-standing dreams.

I share it with you because so many of you have encouraged me with your readership, which has given me confidence in my writing. I don’t want you to spend your money – you can read almost all of the same material right here on this blog – but I wanted you to be able to see the rewards of our partnership. I write, you read, and (hopefully) we all win.

With Blue Like the Sky, I feel like I’ve done something that would make my grandfather proud.

I hope you’ll be proud too.

Thanks for reading, for encouraging, and for believing in me. It means the world.