SDCC is Christmas in July for Geeks, Part II

dc-heroes-christmasAh, the joys of Christmas (in July) from the cosplayers all dressed in their finest costumes, the shrieking sounds of grown men as they find a rare comic for their collection, and the flashing lights of cameras as the stars take the stage. This is San Diego Comic-Con or Christmas for us nerds. It’s our time of year to bathe in the glory of everything comic book, sci-fi, and video game fantasy.

Part 2 of my review of this year’s big reveals at SDCC will focus on television, as the comic book genre has broadened its shoulders and spread its wings onto the small screen on multiple platforms. From Netflix to the CW, we have everything covered from mutant to magic to legends.

Starting off with Netflix, SDCC gave us a glimpse with trailers for Luke Cage, Iron First, Daredevil (Season 3) and The Defenders. With the exception of the first two, there wasn’t much to see. Daredevil and The Defenders were really just teasers for what’s to come. I did like hearing the voice of Stick (played by Scott Glenn) in the Defenders teaser, as he posed the question how these four (referring to Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist) “can save New York when they can’t even save themselves.” With Luke Cage, we get another hallway fight scene, except this time, it involves a man who has super strength and invulnerability. Iron Fist gave us just a glimpse of his origin story, not much else but just enough to make you want more. Overall, a good representation of the Marvel gritty, reality TV to satisfy our curiosity, for now.

the-flash-kid-flash-fullThe CW is charting a course “full speed ahead” with The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow. The Flash is definitely moving in the “Flashpoint” storyline direction, with a lot of changes in Barry Allen’s new reality. We get to see Kid Flash in all his glory (great costume BTW) and, in the teaser, I saw a brief glimpse of the name and image of a classic Flash villain, Dr. Alchemy. It’s not exactly Flashpoint from the comics, but it seems to fit into the CW’s DC universe. Arrow is changing its tone a bit as Oliver tries to be mayor by day, vigilante by night. He gets help from a handful of new recruits in the form of Mister Terrific, Wilddog and Artemis. The villain for season 5 is Prometheus. He’s a big bad in the comics with tech that allowed him to mimic his enemies fighting style and use it against them, like Taskmaster in Marvel. His origin is different in CW as he was affected by Arrow’s initial killing spree in season one. We’ll see if these changes can bring them out of a dismal, and often criticized, season 4. There’s not much on Supergirl, though one rumor brings the Legionnaire Mon-el to National City and we’ll finally get to see her cousin, Superman, in real life. We’ll have to wait and see if they make an impact as part of the CW. Lastly, Legends of Tomorrow is putting together the Justice Society of America and facing off against the Legion of Doom. You can’t get any better than when Smallville brought the JSA to TV, so this will be interesting to see. Overall, CW has tried its best to keep their TV shows separate from the DC movie universe but still true to the comics. In my opinion, they’re doing a great job.

CoARBxXXEAEaiv0Besides Netflix and the cancellation of Agent Carter, Marvel’s only other show is  Agents of Shield on ABC. With the release of Doctor Strange in November, Agents of Shield are introducing magic to their combined movie/TV world. Ghost Rider will be the main antagonist for them, but not the Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider as portrayed in the movies by Nicolas Cage. This is the current comic book version of Robbie Reyes, played by Gabriel Luna. Instead of a motorcycle, Robbie drives a Dodge Charger with flaming wheels. There are a lot of great back story elements that will tie this version of the Ghost Rider into the current cast of Agents of Shield, including Inhuman Daisy’s evil dad, Calvin Zabo, a.k.a. Mr. Hyde. Marvel does it different from DC, keeping their movie and TV universes one and the same. It’s great because it plays off each other and sometimes brings their movie star power (Samuel L. Jackson and Jamie Alexander just to name a few) to the small screen.

There are a couple of other shows coming out this fall, like the new CBS Star Trek series Star Trek: Discovery, a comedy about an insurance agency specializing in superhero damages called Powerless on NBC, The Punisher getting his own Netflix series, X-Men comic book character Legion on Fox; and of course, season 7 of Game of Thrones. You are seeing a big change in television with the growing popularity of the superhero genre. It’s safe to say that we will see more series like this to come. It may be overused to some, but to geeks like me, it makes for great TV.


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse. The Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.

Comic-Con is the reason for the season (Christmas in July, that is …)


You first look at the Justice League…Wow!

July is usually remembered for the 4th of July, Independence Day, with a lot of fireworks, picnics and the red, white, and blue. July is also a time for oppressive heat, sitting on the beach getting sand in your trunks, or maybe just enjoying some fun in the sun. For even a few fanatics out there (and I’m speaking from experience because I’m married to one), July is revered as the halfway point until Christmas, hence the hours and hours of “Christmas in July” sales on shopping channels, making an enormous debt on my wallet. However, for me, July means San Diego Comic-Con and the best trailers, interviews, reveals about everything in geekdom. That’s my Christmas!

I know there are tons of columns, blogs, news articles and geek websites that have already covered every single aspect of Comic-Con, so why would I want to stick my toe in the water that crowded with big, ugly feet and well-manicured Pedi’s? Well, I thought I’d weigh in from the aspect of an author. We know the stories, we love the stories, but the question is, how are they being told? Granted, I am basing my opinions on trailers but you can learn a lot about a movie in under two minutes.

As with most comic book movies today, they cannot stay 100% true to the source material but they do try. I mean, Ultron was created by Hank Pym, not Tony Stark, but did so to make it relevant to the Avengers. This is a prime example of what I’m talking about. One of the best movies to hold true to form in its transition from book-to-screenplay is Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them since the screenplay was written by author J.K. Rowling. This is one movie that cannot be faulted for not being true and, besides the fact, it looks absolutely amazing. I love old New York and to throw magic into that noir setting is a treat for me.

There were so many more movies represented at Comic-Con, from King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Kong: Skull Island, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and more but these films were the cream of the crop.

13717328_1189865937724587_973986590614481376_oWonder Woman took an early turn out of the gate by starting her adventures in World War I vice World War II, though the sentiment behind this was mainly because there hasn’t been a superhero movie done in that era before. To be honest, I think that putting Wonder Woman in World War II would bring too many comparisons to Captain America: The First Avenger anyway, so it was a good choice. They are sticking to her mythology, so that’s good news to me, and her fighting scenes in the movies are killer. Plus it’s about damn time Wonder Woman got her own movie anyway. Lynda Carter has been waiting for more than 40 years to pass the torch and Gal Gadot was the best decision Warner Brothers made in casting this movie.

CoF-W9rXgAEG-auI don’t want to go back-to-back DC, so let me jump into Doctor Strange next. I really have mixed feelings about this. The trailer was amazing. The special effects reflect the incredible power of the mystic arts as created by artist Steve Ditko and writer Stan “The Man” Lee. The casting was undeniable as Benedict Cumberbatch and the rest of the cast are incredibly talented, even with the haters trolling about Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One. What bothers me is Baron Mordo, as portrayed by Chiwetel Ejiofor. In the comics, Mordo was a jealous, ambitious protegé of the Ancient One that turned to evil when Strange was picked over him. They seem to be more allies than adversaries in the movie. I’ll have to wait and see if there’s more to their relationship.

Justice League was definitely the surprise of the convention. Not only did they  show the first image of the entire league standing together, but they also gave a quick glimpse of the trailer. It was a wonderful blend of humor, drama, and action that is making this the most anticipated movie of 2017. Another brilliant casting effort that includes Ezra Miller has more of the wit and humor of Wally West from the Justice League cartoon rather than Barry Allen in the comics. Jason Momoa is quite brooding as Aquaman, but I love the “talking to fish” comment by Batman. It’s been the running joke on Aquaman over the years and it plays out perfectly. Cyborg looks intense, yet vulnerable, as played by Ray Fisher. It was just a brief glimpse, but it continues to show Zack Snyder’s influence in the DC Extended Universe.

I will continue my look at the Comic-Con on Wednesday with a review of the upcoming TV series and what they’re bringing next season. Until then, head over to YouTube and check out all the trailers from San Diego Comic-Con.

What is our obsession with fantasy?

51130757_Psionic_BowmanWe’ve all experienced it, some more than most. It is an obsession that we can’t explain nor can we understand ourselves. With me, it began in college in the 1980s, where I was introduced to Dungeons and Dragons. That’s where I fell for it hook, line, and sinker.

Hello, my name is Mark and I’m addicted to fantasy!

It was automatic for me. I created my first D&D character and started my adventure into role playing. From that point on, I was obsessed with it and could think of or do nothing else. I played every weekend, from Friday night straight through to Monday morning. I even became a Dungeonmaster and ran my own game. I even went as far as to join a local group with the Society of Creative Anachronism.

I went to see every sci-fi/fantasy film that came out in the 80s, from Dragonslayer to Krull, Conan the Barbarian to The Beastmaster. On television, I watched Xena or Hercules, even The Dungeons and Dragons Saturday morning cartoon. It was like a drug and I couldn’t get enough. I started reading anything and everything, from Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga to J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks’ Shannara Chronicles and C.S Lewis The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Even after I joined the Navy, I continued to play D&D. I found friends aboard the ship and we played during our duty days and off-duty hours. When I eventually stopped playing, I turned my obsession around and started writing, and it was from that, I created my Forever Avalon series. I was able to tap into my fertile imagination, fueled from all those years of role playing games, movies, television and inspiring stories from other authors. It was a magical journey that I’m still riding on, even today.

Josie Glausiusz wrote in Scientific American, “Daydreams are an inner world where we can rehearse the future and imagine new adventures without risk. Allowing the mind to roam freely can aid creativity—but only if we pay attention to the content of our daydreams.” She also said that “When daydreaming turns addictive and compulsive, it can overwhelm normal functioning, impeding relationships, and work.” I can honestly attest to that determination.

When I played D&D, I ignored a lot of things to play the game. It was a deep-rooted obsession that drove me out of college, without a job or education and into my military career in the Navy. In that sense, it did me a big favor. My career in the Navy made me the writer I am today.

You have to tame your obsession, even more, today. With the internet, video games and better CGI effects in movies, there is a resurgence in the fantasy genre that gives us more to do and see. From Warcraft to Lord of the Rings, fantasy has taken center stage again. We have the chance to see our dreams in full color, high-definition, and 3D.

Glausiusz said, “Yet to enhance creativity, it is important to pay attention to daydreams.” That’s where we, as authors, filmmakers, and even musicians find our muse and translate fantasy into words, images, and sounds. That is, at the heart of it all, why we love fantasy. It is a means to escape from reality and bring everyone else along for the ride. It’s why I don’t mind living with my obsession.


SKU-000941753Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse. The Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.

What lies beyond Writer’s Block? How about the “Writer’s Bottomless Pit of Doom!

Center-of-the-Earth-1000Writer’s Block is defined as “the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.” For many writers like me, we just call it “a slow march into Hell with only a thimble of water to drink.” It can make or break any author. It will make you miss deadlines, collapse goals and potentially lose money we haven’t earned from our last book. In other words, a bottomless pit from which there is no escape for the weak and weary. Once you’re there, it’s hard to climb your way out of it.

It can also cause an author to get distracted and do other things besides writing, from playing video games to watching a movie or surfing the internet. These distractions can lead to even longer delays in finishing your novel, blog, etc. So, what can we do to correct these inactions and lessen the distractions?

In the times I’ve experienced writer’s block, I found the best thing to do is to step back and take a breath. Sometimes, you get so wrapped up in writing that you can’t think straight and that leads to writer’s block. You have to stop and pull yourself together to find your zen and continue on. I know that sounds more like one of the problems when an author gets writer’s block, but it’s the best way that works for me.

To give you an example, when I was writing the second book in the Forever Avalon series, I started writing it as a prequel. I wanted to talk about the 10 years my lead character spent on Avalon before the rest of his family showed up on the island. After about the first four chapters, I got stuck. It wasn’t flowing right for me so I stopped and backed away from the story to gather my thoughts. It took me a few months and then it hit me. I started to write my second novel, The Dark Tides, as a straight sequel and used the pages I already write as flashbacks to help carry the story. It ended up being a monstrous book, nearly 200,000 words, but I was able to finish the remainder of my novel without any more episodes of writer’s block.

Others advise you to avoid distractions like television, music, etc. To me, if you have the right mood music, it helps in writing. Whenever I’m writing, I like to have a movie playing in the background, away from where I can see it, but where I can still hear it. My usual preference is a fantasy movie like Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia or The Hobbit. This keeps my mind in fantasy-mode (for lack of a better word) and helps me push through any writer’s block.

There are tons of articles out there with varied advice on how to avoid and overcome writer’s block. The one thing they all agree on is to stop writing for the readers and write for yourself. Tell your stories, write what you want to write, not what’s currently hip and trending. Remember, trends usually go the way of parachute pants and hair metal bands. Write what you want to write.

In the end, it’s up to you to find that happy place that lets your creativity flow and propel you into, as the song goes, the “Playground of my Mind.”

“In the wonders that I find,
In the playground in my mind,
In a world that used to be,
Close your eyes and follow me.”


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse. The Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.

The BFG and other Roald Dahl classics are lost to this generation

I went to see The BFG this weekend and it was such a disappointment, not the movie but rather the number of people in the theater. This was one of the best adaptations of a Roald Dahl novel and to have only a handful of people in the theater was such a shame. It really was a magical movie that is lost to this generation.

NEpDALvI8QLkts_2_bThe BFG, written by Roald Dahl in 1982 and directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, is the only book by Dahl that hasn’t been made into a feature film previously. The BFG (Mark Rylance), while a giant himself, is a Big Friendly Giant and nothing like the other inhabitants of Giant Country. Standing 24-feet tall with enormous ears and a keen sense of smell, he is endearingly dim-witted and keeps to himself for the most part. Giants like Bloodbottler (Bill Hader) and Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement) on the other hand, are twice as big and at least twice as scary and have been known to eat humans, while the BFG prefers Snozzcumber and Frobscottle. Upon her arrival in Giant Country, Sophie, a precocious 10-year-old girl from London, is initially frightened of the mysterious giant who has brought her to his cave, but soon comes to realize that the BFG is actually quite gentle and charming, and, having never met a giant before, has many questions. The BFG brings Sophie to Dream Country where he collects dreams and sends them to children, teaching her all about the magic and mystery of dreams.

The visuals in this movie are stunning and it really shows Dahl’s great combination of humor and heart in his stories. Spielberg was the ideal director for this movie and it shows. Mark Rylance is brilliant as the BFG and newcomer Ruby Barnhill as Sophie steals the show. It was a beautiful, magical adventure that brought me back to my youth. Roald Dahl was one of the first authors I let my children read because he is such a wonderful storyteller.

BfgThis brings me back to my opening statement. Kids, and even parents, today flock to Finding Dory instead of The BFG. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Pixar movies, but to see a classic like The BFG ignored for a talking fish is sad. This generation is so hung up on movies, television, the internet, and video games that they all but ignore reading such great stories. It’s only because of technology today that movies can bring these stories to life. Watching The BFG made me want to read the book again, to bring back the magic from long ago.

That’s the beauty of books. They are timeless because their words will go on forever. People have tried to ban books and burn books, to erase them from history (like you see in The Book Thief, which I watched again this weekend, loved it). It’s just a shame that more people are not going to see this movie. It has some beautiful moments that will make you cry and others that will have you rolling on the ground laughing (one word, frobscottle)!

I think any author today would love to have their books turned into a movie or TV show. By supporting movies like The BFG, we’re supporting our own interests as authors. There are too many remakes out there, so it’s refreshing when a book inspires a great movie. So please take the time and go and see The BFG. It will be well worth it.