That Controversial Dave Dorman SAGA Blog? Yeah…That Was Actually Written By ME. Not Dave.

I get the alerts whenever Dave’s name is mentioned online, so when I read this morning that some woman blogger in Ireland wanted to “punch Dave Dorman in the face” for his blog on that breastfeeding SAGA cover, that was my final tipping point. So unbeknownst to Dave, I’m giving him an early Father’s Day gift. I’m posting this blog to end Dave falling on the sword for me, even one moment longer. For those of a certain age who remember that broken vase confessional on The Brady Bunch:

“Mom? Dad? It was me. I broke the vase.”

Yes. I wrote that controversial SAGA blog of Dave’s. And Dave, being the gentleman that he is, chastised me privately, but has forever remained silent about it publicly, despite the unfair ridicule and scrutiny he’s taken for it. He took the knives to his back from the all-too-quick-to-eats-its-own-young comic book industry to protect and defend me. But today, that cat’s outta the bag.

Dave is probably one of the nicest, kindest, most patient people you’d ever want to meet. I have 18 years’ worth of anecdotes to support my statement. So do many of you. Here’s one. When we were living in Florida, the local comic book shop gave out our private address to a budding artist who wanted to get into comics and was working full time as an engineer. The doorbell rang around lunchtime. We weren’t expecting guests, and this guy in khakis and a pocket protector, a total stranger, showed up on our front porch with his portfolio. Did Dave get mad? No. (I did. I felt our safety and privacy was violated and I let the comic book shop know my displeasure.) Dave generously invited him in and spent the next 45 minutes reviewing his portfolio and coaching him on his art. So, that small story encapsulates Dave in a nutshell. He’s always trying to help others get into art.

Here’s what actually went down that fateful day of the SAGA blog. Normally, Dave sits at the kitchen table and I whip out the MacBook Air and he gives me the essence of what he wants to say in his blog, then I write and refine it for the masses. He tends to write in passive voice, which drives me crazy. On that particular day, my ADD got in the way, pre-ADD meds. (To be fair, Dave does have this tone of voice that can sort of lull one into daydreaming mode.) I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the very nuanced way in which he was commenting on said cover. To this day, I don’t remember what he actually said because I zoned out. I was rushed, I couldn’t recall his exact quotes and I ended up writing my impressions of what I thought he said, but as Dave pointed out later, it bore no resemblance to what he actually said. I unwittingly unleashed an enormous, reputation-tainting train wreck. In my professional life as a journalist and ghostwriter, I record my book and article interviews and never make this mistake.

To take that old blog to the point of perpetuating some weird myth that Dave hates breastfeeders? Wow. That was troll cognitive dissonance taken to a new level of insanity. Yet those are the search engine terms that come up when you do a search on Dave’s name. All because of a mistake I made. It’s sad. I regret it every day. (I’m sure the former AT&T CEO Dave Dorman doesn’t much appreciate it, either.)

Rarely have I known a male illustrator who wants more women to have successful careers in comics and supports them more than Dave Dorman. He was first in line to see Wonder Woman before I did (and he loved it). He couldn’t wait! He has coached and mentored and supported women illustrators and writers for years. He respects women. All of those women who have gotten his free coaching and portfolio reviews at every Con for years? Crickets. They were sadly silent on the matter. No one came to his defense and defied the trolls, who were happily, busily framing Dave as a misogynist when NOTHING could be further from the truth. This one ugly controversy that I caused suddenly overrode much of the good he has done in the world. So there you have it. I’ve come clean. I needed to end this mistruth and injustice, once and for all. Now I’m sure there will be some trolls who say I’m just making this up. I’m not. I swear on our son’s young life this is the unvarnished truth, and I’m rather superstitious, so I don’t throw around phrases like that lightly.

Before the trolls out there release the Kraken, because I just know that bullshit is forthcoming, please know that I DO.NOT.GIVE.A.SHIT. about trolls’ opinions on this matter. And trolls, I already think you’re low-life, loser misogynists (and that includes women trolls as well) living in your parents’ basement, so don’t fuel me with further evidence. In fact, I’m shutting off comments on my blog for today as a pre-emptive strike.

To that woman “keyboard warrior” in Ireland, I’ll be only too happy to meet you in the boxing ring. Your ugly, violence-inciting hatefulness from behind the safe glow of your laptop is precisely what is wrong with this world.

 

 

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Dave Dorman Gets a CLUE — His Art on Milton Bradley’s New Alien vs. Predator Edition of CLUE Game

I posted this image on Facebook today, and got several back channel messages about “How much did Dave make on this deal?” The answer? Zilch. Nada. Zero dinero. It was a work-for-hire deal for 20th Century Fox, so they can repurpose this image however they so choose. In fact, Dave had to buy his own game sample for his file, since Milton Bradley didn’t send him one. It was initially $40, but thankfully Dave forgot about it, and the post-Christmas price dropped down to $13, so he just bought it on Amazon. Hopefully this has dispelled the notion out there that if you (or your artwork) is famous, you’re wealthy because of it.

Dave Gets a CLUE!

 

Hot off the Presses: I Made It “Above the Fold” Today

Hot off the Presses: Here’s the piece I wrote for the ASJA (America Society of Journalists & Authors) today on the viability of earning a better living as a ghostwriter:

http://www2.asja.org/theword/2016/10/19/stop-the-presses-ghostwriting-may-be-a-journalists-best-alternative-career-path/

Scroll down and you’ll see it…I’m juuuuuuuust above the fold!

Announcing My New Blog Series: COOL PEOPLE I KNOW

I found this meme on Facebook the other day, and I screen-grabbed it immediately. In one sentence, it sums up how I live. You see, as an ENFP, I believe everyone has an interesting story, from every walk of life — from CEOs to ex-cons. I’m at my most hyper-focused when getting to know a total stranger. This is why my grade school friends have christened me “The White Oprah.” I don’t mean to interview people, but it’s like breathing for me. They fuel my curiosity.

The Meme That Best Describes Me

The Meme That Best Describes Me

Cool People I Know: My friend Rohita Shah, born in Zambia, now owner of an award-winning Mathnasium in Wisconsin, with 1 new Brookfield location opening soon.

Cool People I Know: My friend Rohita Shah, born in Zambia, now owner of an award-winning Mathnasium in Wisconsin, with 1 new Brookfield location opening soon.

I have to wonder if my genuine interest in people is somehow invisibly telegraphed when I’m out in the world. My friends have all witnessed it. Total strangers love to ask me for directions, how to fix their iPhone, or whether they should buy the outfit they’re trying on in a department store. No, I’m not arrogant enough to think my opinion matters one iota, but it’s weirdly consistent that they do. This bizarre people-magnet vibration I exude might explain why, when I merely entered an empty gas station to pay for my petrol — literally saying nothing but my pump number to the cashier — she unburdened herself, sharing the story of her recent abortion. Or why, when I went to the DMV with Darlene, my BFF since kindergarten, I knew all about the DMV eye examiner man’s divorce during the 5 minutes of getting my test. Or why I leave restaurants more often than not with the phone number or email address of the waitress or waiter to follow up on some conversation. I consider it an honor and privilege that someone trusts me to listen to them. I don’t judge. I just listen. I think people appreciate that someone is actually present and in the moment with them in this distracted, ADD world where they are accustomed to getting ignored.

When I first met Dave, he was extremely nervous about exposing me to the massive enclave of fandom at his San Diego Comic-Con booth. He needn’t have worried. I thrived on it. Unlike introverts who find it a psychic drain to deal with the public, I get energized by being around people. They recharge my batteries. Today, 16 years later, those San Diego fans visit our home, chat with me at least three times a week on Facebook private messages, and have become some of my best friends. I feel blessed to have met these many interesting people from literally around the world, whose paths I would never have crossed in my ordinary, Northern Illinois life.

An apt description of ENFP's.

An apt description of ENFP’s.

As women, we all have stories of telling our spouses about their friends’ medical issues and life dramas, as our spouses look on dumbfounded, replying, “He never told me anything about that!” But I take it about three steps further. I walk away knowing about their UFO encounters, their politics, and their funniest pranks. My conversations with people are always organic. I never know where they’ll meander, but they’re always interesting. As I was interviewing a VP on Friday for a B2B article on his company, I learned all about his Chicago cop relatives, and their take on the current gang situation in Chicago. It was a counterintuitive perspective I could never have guessed, and it became fodder for my hands-and-feet card game last night on the Mag Mile (And btw, GO CUBS!!!! FTW!!!).

So…aside from the ghostwriting I do in my career, I’m starting a new series on my blog, maybe once a week, called “Cool People I Know.” These interviews will be with people from all walks of life, and you will learn things you would never have guessed, about topics you probably have never considered before. I hope you have as much fun reading them as I have doing the interviews! Let me know, okay?

So I guess my Myers-Briggs score explains my career choice...

My Myers-Briggs score explains my career choice…

On the 75th Anniversary of BUGS BUNNY, Remembering That Time I Met Bugs’ Creator CHUCK JONES

Happy 75th, Bugs!

Happy 75th, Bugs!

I have been blessed many times in my career to be placed in some fairly oddball situations – I’m no stranger to events where there are bizarre mash-ups of iconic personalities in the entertainment and publishing world. One such event was in the early ’90s during my first year as the writer/producer on motorsports TV series THE SUPER CHARGERS. Our production team headed down to the Houston Film Festival for the awards ceremony. My second father figure and–at that time–employer, TV personality Jan Gabriel treated us to an unforgettable dinner and performance at the exclusive Magic Island in Houston. The next night, we attended the Houston Film Festival Awards, where we won a Gold Star Award. Featured guests that year were Chuck Jones, Rod Steiger, and Ginger Rogers. I know, right? What an oddball mashup of entertainment icons!

I walked into the art museum where the event was being held, and I happened to look up at the top of the stairs. There was Jan Gabriel, talking to a tall, thin man in a tuxedo. He had a tuft of white, fluffy hair that hang down on his forehead, and these oversized, too-large-for-his-face, black plastic-framed eyeglasses. In my signature silliness, I quipped to Kenny our cameraman, “Look! Jan’s talking to Bugs Bunny!” having no idea that it was actually Bugs Bunny creator Chuck Jones, the featured guest! D’oh! Mr. Jones really did look a lot like the cartoon character he created, and I never forgot that about him.

At the same event, Ginger Rogers was in the sunset years of her life, getting around in a wheelchair. There were no separate restroom facilities for dignitaries, and while I still feel bad about it, I was full of champagne and I raced past Ms. Rogers’ wheelchair to reach the bathroom ahead of her. I just barely made it. She didn’t have to wait too long for me, but it was a very human moment. I was once again reminded that we all put on our panties one leg at a time.

Are You One of the 11% Who Can Lucid Dream?

Ever wonder how writers get ideas? It’s often that random news blurb trigger that cascades into an entire story-building construction project in your mind. Like the other day, I was stopped in traffic behind a car badly in need of a wash. Written in the pollen on the back bumper were the words “Helen isn’t missing.” In a nano-second, my ADD brain sent me off on a storytelling journey from this cryptic, dusty message. Helen was abducted as a child and somehow tracked and found her missing relatives and wrote this note on their vehicle to let them know she was still alive. Or maybe one of her sympathetic captors did? And then I wondered to myself, “Does everyone do this?” At my writer’s group lunch the other day, I shared this story, and they collectively affirmed, “No…only writers think like that. Or people who should be writers.”

So with that, my NY Times bestselling author client Jay Bonansinga took this data point and folded it into his new Young Adult #horror series:

Only 11% of the population have lucid dreams. 

What does that mean, exactly? It means that 11% of us are self aware enough that while dreaming we can control what’s happening in the dream, in real time. How I would love to be in that 11%! And that is how Jay ended up writing LUCID, which launches today through Permuted Press. Here’s a link to Jay explaining more about lucid dreaming and his new book on the WGN Mid-Day Show today in Chicago:

http://wgntv.com/2015/05/20/midday-fix-author-jay-bonasinga-talks-about-his-book-lucid/

This is my favorite picture of Jay, taken by his photographer wife Jill Brazel, in his smartly bespoke garb, in this London backdrop:

Jay Bonansinga, Photography (c) Jill Brazel

Jay Bonansinga, Photography (c) Jill Brazel

Tonight Jay and I will be at the Bucket of Blood Books & Records  at 2307 N. Milwaukee Avenue at 7 p.m. for the launch of LUCID, so come on out, get your very own copy of LUCID and your WALKING DEAD books signed by Jay and have a cocktail (in college, I used to make a drink called “Bloody Brains,” and I might still be able to whip one up for you if you bring me red Kool-Aid, vodka and Bailey’s Irish creme). On your way there, be sure to stop at as-seen-on-Food Network’SuperDawg’s and commemorate the founder Maurie Berman, who just passed, but should be honored for creating Ground Zero in Great Chicago Hot Dog Institutions (right up there with Gene & Jude’s hotdogs in River Grove and The Wiener’s Circle in Chicago).

Of course, if the Bloody Brains drink doesn’t agree with you, I’m sure you’ll have the good taste to let it (and your half-digested hot dog) reappear in the alley, rather than anywhere near me…

On Black Friday: The Extendable Fork in Action…and an Unexpected STAR WARS Tee

Here’s Jack deploying a new holiday tradition–the extendable fork trick I mentioned in yesterday’s post. I decided to pass down the torch, since my cousin Jeff read my blog yesterday (D’oh!) and was prepared to expect my hijinks.

I've Passed On the Torch of the Expandable Trick Fork to Jack.

I’ve Passed Down the Torch of the Expandable Trick Fork to Jack and the Kids’ Table.

And here’s the Diamond Comic Previews ad posted by one of Dave’s fans today, advertising a new t-shirt (hey, it’s ONLY $50) featuring Dave’s original STAR WARS artwork, LORD VADER’S PERSUASION of THE OUTER RIM. To understand how stuff like this happens, and how the artists get paid nothing for it, nor are even aware when their artwork is being used for fun and profit, you might want to revisit my previous post, “The Blessing and Curse of Work-for-Hire Illustration.”

$50 Lucasfilm STAR WARS tees featuring Dave Dorman's Artwork

$50 Lucasfilm STAR WARS tees featuring Dave Dorman’s Artwork

I’m so glad Disney/Lucasfilm is able to continue healthfully profiting from Dave’s work-for-hire artwork with $50 t-shirts, making it ever so much more puzzling to me that his artwork wasn’t chosen for inclusion in STAR WARS CELEBRATION 7.

This particular piece of Dave Dorman Star Wars art is so wildly popular, one dedicated European fan, Tomi Demolka, even had it tattooed on his back (as seen below). If you are interested in buying this print, or any of the Dave Dorman Star Wars Artist Proofs still available, here’s the link – on sale now through Dec. 31st with FREE worldwide shipping: http://www.davedorman.com/2014swprintsforsale.shtml

Dedicated Fan Tomi Demollka, with Dave Dorman's Artwork Tattooed on His Back

Dedicated Fan Tomi Demollka, with Dave Dorman’s Artwork Tattooed on His Back

Since I’m posting this on #BlackFriday, if you’re in Chicagoland and looking for something to do, check out Dreamland Comics in Schaumburg, IL today before 3 p.m. Dave is there today signing #comics and five 501st members are there in costume–the world’s largest #cosplay organization, of which we are honorary members–posing with families for photos and supporting the cause, which is building a solid food pantry for the hungry, so bring your canned goods!

Dave at Dreamland Comics today.

Dave’s signing at Dreamland Comics on Black Friday.

Thanksgiving: Some Random Thoughts

For many of you, today is likely one of your favorite holidays. While I love a spirited, marathon game of Euchre with my cousins as much as the next person, I sure wish those pilgrims had kicked off this family tradition with a Chicago stockyard prime rib rather than a turkey. There’s not enough alcohol in the world to entice me to insert my hand in that turkey’s pink, slimy, gut-filled pit of hell. Cue up Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare…this is the holiday where my bird phobia is front and center. I can handle popping a boneless, skinless turkey breast into the oven, but that horrific headless bird corpse stays outside of my line of sight.

Courtesy of my horror writer friend Steve Niles, the stuff my nightmares are made of.

Courtesy of my horror writer friend Steve Niles, the stuff my nightmares are made of.

And then there’s dessert. Pumpkin pie? Meh. Not in my Top 10 List. Not even close. So here’s how I propose we eat it:

Pumpkin Pie, Denise Style.

Pumpkin Pie, My Way.

My favorite Thanksgiving memory was the year I had just returned from the greatest practical joke shop in Key West, armed with my new expandable fork. It looked like a normal fork, but it could extend to two feet in length. I patiently waited for my kindred spirit cousin Jeff, sitting across from me, to load his plate with stuffing–one of the few things I like about Thanksgiving. Jeff got distracted by an oncoming platter of turkey and I made my move–in one fell swoop, my expanding fork reached across the table, plucked that ball of stuffing right off of his plate, and made it mine. The shocked expression on Jeff’s face when he looked back on his plate and did his double-take is something I will never forget. I still get the giggles every time I think of it. I recently rediscovered that fork, and it just so happens that Jeff’s coming over today…hmmm….

Last night Jeff posted this sentiment on Facebook from one of our favorite comedy writers, Jack Handey, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I share this with you today:

More Brilliance from Jack Handey

More Brilliance from Jack Handey

Today I’m thankful for my family, our health, great comedy and laughs, my favorite new earthling Baby Gemma, my friends (from the Shenanigans, Hijinks, Immaturity and Tomfoolery Club to the Sister Wives to my vast, ever-expanding, quirky “Collection” of everyone in between), Jonesie the cat (whom I’m still trying to forgive for spilling that full cup of coffee on my computer yesterday and ruining my laser mouse), my clients who keep life interesting (especially the engrossing fiction novels of uber-talented author Mike Baron), the growing stack of unread books awaiting me, for tennis (on TV and in real life), and for what will probably be remembered as the greatest era in cable and network TV entertainment, from Downton Abbey to Gotham to Homeland, and too many more to mention.

I hope you all have a memorable, Happy Thanksgiving. As for me, I’ll be occupied with removing pickles from the White Castles (Dave forgot to buy the pickle-free kind) for the stuffing, and averting my gaze from that bumpy, pink meat puppet.

How to Exhibit BETTER at Conventions

Dear Readers,

Thank YOU. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to write to us, share your own narratives, and respectfully share great ideas with us.  For many of you, like, say, Marc Alan Fishman of Unshaven Comics, losing money at #SDCC isn’t your truth, and we are genuinely happy that it isn’t. Marc’s thoughts are here. Chicago artist friend Gene Ha shared his amazing blog, which included content on how to display at conventions and how to sell at conventions. Gene also turned us onto the great convention display of artist Terry Huddleston. I think our friends Donato Giancola and Jason Palmer also do a great job with convention booth displays and here are some images of their booths.

A Jason Palmer Booth Display at SDCC

A Jason Palmer Booth Display at SDCC

A sliver of Donato Giancola's elegant booth display at SDCC

A sliver of Donato Giancola’s elegant booth display at SDCC

Today Dave and I will be guests on Wendi Freeman’s podcast, Double Page Spread regarding this whole convention controversy topic–and other topics–so give us a listen if you’re interested and do check out Wendi’s great podcast. She’s a lot of fun and has great content.

Here’s a final thought for today. Led by our artist friend Jim Pavelec, there is a site called ArtPact.com a free and subscription-based private group dedicated to sharing information among comic book freelancers. I requested that Jim add a forum for creators to anonymously discuss which conventions worked, and why or why not they worked. He assured me that he would be adding that conventions forum module to his site. ArtPact.com enables freelancers in the comic book industry the freedom to anonymously share information without fear of repercussion. Users review the various publishers and art directors they work for, they share contracts, and they have already affected some change within the entertainment industry in terms of contracts and payment terms. There’s a free version, and there’s a $29/year version. I’d recommend you do the latter to get the full benefit. Disclaimer: I make no money from ArtPact.com.

Thank you for reading, and keep those great ideas and topics coming.

Denise

The Blessing and the Curse of Work-for-Hire Illustration

File this under: “The Artist is always the last to know.” One of Dave’s fans just posted on Facebook that Dave’s artwork is on a free puzzle inside of Star Wars lunch boxes now for sale at Walgreen’s:

Dave Dorman artwork on puzzle inside of Star Wars lunch boxes, now in retail stores

Dave Dorman artwork on puzzle inside of Star Wars lunch boxes, now in retail stores

And here’s the original art from that free puzzle:

Dave Dorman's Star Wars "Smugglers Moon" Original Art

Dave Dorman’s Star Wars “Smugglers Moon” Original Art 

And by the way, if you’re interested in purchasing this piece as an Artist Proof litho, it’s $75 here: http://www.davedorman.com/swprintsforsale.shtml )

Dave’s Star Wars art is also on a few graphic tees selling at your local Targets and Wal-Marts at the moment, and we’ll probably see a lot more of it on random products as the new Star Wars VII film ramps up its marketing engine. The fans are always astounded when Dave shows surprise that they’re wearing his art. What people outside of the illustration world don’t realize is, the artist is never told where or when his art will appear. (This was especially true when the “Predalien” concept art Dave did years ago for 20th Century Fox as a work-for-hire surfaced in the AVP2 film, uncredited, which totally sucked.) Licensed art is merely a work-for-hire arrangement. I hate to burst everyone’s bubble, but we’re not rolling in dough from Star Wars art, Alien art, or any licensed artwork, for that matter. That’s why it’s so mission critical for artists out there to develop their own creator-owned projects, also known as I.P.’s or “Intellectual Properties,” which Dave has done with THE WASTED LANDS. It’s the only way artists will ever see wealth.

Once the art is submitted to the art director, the only money we make on it other than the commission is when Dave sells the original art. In the case of Star Wars or any Lucasfilm pieces Dave does, George Lucas has automatic first right of refusal to purchase any of Dave’s art, and he owns more than 90 original Dave Dorman oil paintings. (This is why when artists paint digitally, we scratch our heads, wondering how they eke out a living, since they have no original art to sell to collectors once the piece is submitted.) Artwork that has been published–be it on packaging art or a magazine cover–is always worth more to the art collector.

So, what is the blessing, if any, of work-for-hire illustration? The only silver lining to this cloud is that if you’re an artist doing work-for-hire work, it likely means you’re a self-employed solopreneur, and you’re probably leading a much happier life than you would be working for “the man.” You can go the movies at 1 p.m. on a Thursday and not wait in line. Your dry cleaning bills are non-existent. You’re saving money on fuel, lunches out, and let’s not forget all of those glorious tax write-offs!

I recently had the epiphany that we lead weird little lives here at the Dorman household. (I know, I know…all of my inner circle of friends out there are doing the face palm and calling me Captain Obvious as they read this.) So the epiphany happened the day Jack and I were back-to-school underwear shopping in our local Target. As we stood there debating whether to buy the Batman underwear with John vanFleet’s Batman packaging art vs. another friend’s Batman underwear art, I realized it.  The rest of the world would never give this a moment’s thought. To us, the artists–and the art they create–is so precious, so important…and we behold it with such reverence. Even if it’s on a frickin’ underwear package at Target.

So smash cut to breakfast at San Diego Comic-Con with John vanFleet. I shared my Batman underwear narrative, and John was amazed to learn that his Batman art was so dangerously close to 10-year-olds’ skid marks across America. Like I told you, the Artist is always the last to know.