Monday, June 29, 2015

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...KIPJO K. EWERS

Derrick Ferguson: Who is Kipjo K. Ewers?

Kipjo K. Ewers: I am a first generation born of Jamaican descent from two of the greatest parents a kid like me could ever have. They kept me on the straight and narrow, while not wanting for anything. They pushed the value of a good education, being a good person, and reaching for whatever goals I aspired to as long as it did not hurt others. Formerly from Mount Vernon, I went to Catholic school all my life from grade school to college. As a kid growing up, I was heavily into martial arts, comic books, professional wrestling, Kung Fu movies, anime, writing and storytelling. My brothers and I would use either our G.I Joes or Transformers and play out these complex storylines that sometimes lasted all day and into our next play day. 

Now that I am older I’m still into martial arts though not as heavy (big fan of MMA and the UFC).  I’m a sword collector (I have my own set of Conan Father and Atlantean swords from the Arnold movie among others). I still watch anime from time to time, and I collect comics although I’m more selective with what I collect. I also make kitbash action figures; basically you take a base model twelve inch action figure and customize it. It’s a pretty cool and expensive hobby. I made my own Gen 13 characters, and a Dark Knight movie version of Batgirl. My other hobby is 3D artwork, I use programs like Poser Pro (2012 and 2014), DAZ 3D, and Photoshop Element to create them. I’m also a huge Star Wars fan, and will be dressing like a Jedi for the upcoming movie. So all in all I am a big Jamaican-American geek.

DF: Where do you live and what do you do to keep the bill collectors away?

KKE: I reside with my lovely wife in New Jersey.  I currently work in Risk Management Corporate Banking.

DF: Tell us a little something about your background.

KKE: I went to college for Business Administration while minoring in English. I self-taught myself 3D digital artwork because I wanted to put visuals to some of the ideas in my head. I’ve been doing my own artwork for about eight years.

DF: How long have you been writing?

KKE: I’ve been writing since I was seven years old, sporadically in my teens and young adult years. I never really published anything until now. I wrote a comic book with my younger brother who is currently an artist when I was twelve (we didn’t have a title for that one).  The story was about four of his superhero characters and one of mine which I called Infra Man. He was a Japanese anime version of Iron Man. I believe the plot of the story was that they were trying to stop some type of invasion. 

The second comic book we worked on with our cousin who was the designated ink man was titled “Letterman”. The hero “Letterman” was based off of a rap song from K-Solo. I remember finding the book a couple of years ago buried in our old room in our parent’s house and still being impressed with what we did. The first two novels I tried to write were titled “Armageddon Bioborg” and “The Dragon Princess”. I never finished either, but I still have them, and might complete and publish them one day. I wrote matches for wrestling e-feds, which are like versions of fantasy football. It was a simple hobby, but I realized now how much it kept my writing skills sharp by creating storylines and sometimes writing out full matches. Won me a slew of championships, I even have a couple of actual championship belt trophies that were mailed to me.

DF: What’s your philosophy of writing?

KKE: I like to write like I'm doing a movie, and when you shoot a movie you don't always shoot the first scene. Sometimes you shoot the end, the middle, that's how I like to write until I get a full chapter. I separate the chapters into different word documents so I don't confuse myself.

Afterwards, when I have written all of the chapters in full, I just combine them, adding and taking stuff out, until the story slowly comes together and becomes one. After that I can usually do two or three edits and then I send it to a professional editor.

I believe in writing from my soul and heart and not compromising or apologizing for anything. Writers I believe that don't compromise their work, and write with raw passion are the best and most powerful types of writers, as long as they're getting a message across, and it makes sense to the story.

I also believe in having fun with my writing. It's supposed to be fun. You’re creating worlds, characters, and having adventures. So I just play! Because the more fun I have, the more I believe people will enjoy what I wrote!

DF: What are your influences?

KKE: I’ve read all of the Robotech novels that were written by Jack McKinney, which in my opinion were way better than the anime series. I am also a fan of Shakespeare, “A Midsummer Night's Dream” is one of my favorite stories from him. For comic books it’s Stan “The Man” Lee of course. Geoff John’s magnificent run of the Green Lantern’s “Blackest Night Series” is what actually got me back into comic books. I also loved Greg Pak’s work, especially his run with Marvel’s Hulk.

Finally as both a writer and director I have to say Kevin Smith. I saw “Clerks” at a friend’s house when I was in college, and I have been a fan of his work ever since. I’ve seen all of his movies, and two of his Q&A sessions. Watching “Too Fat for 40” and “Kevin Smith: Burn in Hell”, where actually what finally pushed me over the edge to both write and publish something. Hearing about how his father died, and about how you have to have passion about what you do before you die is what struck a chord with me.

DF: What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Kipjo K. Ewers?

KKE: My novel is for fans of superheroes, science fiction, and action adventure. People who have already read it have said they enjoyed the thriller aspect to it, and others love the characters personality wise both good and bad. It’s a thinking person’s superhero origin story that turns left when you think it’s turning right.

DF: What is The EVO Universe?  How and when did you create it?

KKE: The EVO Universe is an expanding superhuman universe within my novel series “The First”, which was created after the events of the first book. EVO is the term used for superhuman in the story, which is the next step of evolution of man. 

DF: Tell us about the character of Sophia Dennison.

KKE: The character Sophia Dennison is a normal woman, with normal dreams of having a career, wanting a loving marriage with children, and then one day her normal world is ripped away and destroyed through no fault of her own. Then after four years of being powerless and suffering her world literally comes to an end. Except by a miracle of sorts, as her old world came to an end, she was reborn so to speak with amazing powers and abilities. She uses these new abilities to escape prison, and find out who turned her old world upside down.

DF: Tell us about THE FIRST

KKE: “The First” is a superhero origin story of Sophia Dennison. Wrongly tried and convicted of the murder of her husband, she is executed in Texas via lethal injection. However Sophia does not die, she resurrects with superhuman strength, overpowering several correctional officers until she is brutally gunned down. But to everyone’s shock and dismay, she resurrects again. Completely healed, this time she is bullet proof and much stronger than her first death. She breaks out of prison and is on the run where she learns about her abilities and hunts for the answers as to who framed her for her husband’s murder.


KKE: “The First: EVO Uprising” is the aftermath of “The First” eight years later. Due to Sophia’s indirect actions of saving the West Coast she has changed the world. Through her, many people across the planet have been gifted with superhuman abilities. Some use their abilities for good taking up the mantel of heroes, others for evil becoming villains, while others join and form super human military units within their respective countries building towards another possible Cold War. Unable to fit in with the race she was once a part of, and unwilling to embrace the race she created, she lives a life of semi-isolation using her power and abilities to help people as she sees fit taking no mantle. However a new threat to the planet will force her to not only confront several spectrums of her past, but her possible destiny.

DF: Where does the story of Sophia Dennison go from here?

KKE: Right now I am holding off on writing the third novel to work on a spin-off novel for one of the major characters in the second novel. It will be titled “Eye of Ra”.  I imagine more adventures for Sophia in the near future and the further expansion of the EVO Universe with many more characters.

DF: What’s A Day In The Life of Kipjo K. Ewers like?

KKE: Rise and shine at 7 AM in the morning, breakfast either at home or at work depending on the time. Off to work in a corporate office, hit the gym for forty-five minutes, and then home after 5 PM. When I get home the fun begins. I spend some time with the Mrs., get on the computer to either work on my artwork or write. Right now I’m just taking time from writing to promote the novel as much as possible and get in the faces as many readers as I can. 

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know?

Kipjo K. Ewers: Currently we’re in the works of doing an actual comic book series on “The First” that we hope to release in 2016. We will soon be re-releasing the alternate cover novel with a new cover, and added digital content. It will contain some concept artwork of characters from the novel, and a digital comic preview of Chapter 1 and part of Chapter 2 that readers can re-read.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

From The "A Nigger Moment" File

If you’ve been reading BLOOD & INK on a regular basis (and if not, then whyain’tcha?) The you’ll have noticed that from time to time I’ll post something here that has been written by one of the most extraordinarily talented artists it’s been my pleasure to work with; Sean E. Ali.

Sean has a habit of writing these amazingly perceptive and on point essays on his Facebook wall that should be read by a wider audience. But Sean is truly a modest man and resists all my suggestions that he should start a blog or something where these thoughts can saved and savored and not lost in the blur of Facebooks posts.  Sean’s a deep thinker who truly has something worth saying about some very important societal topics affecting all of us today.

Fortunately he has a friend like me who has no shame at all in reposting his insightful words on his own blog.

Okay, I’ve run my mouth far too much already. I now turn the floor over to Mr. Ali…

So let me get this straight...

The people upset most that the President used the word "nigger" in an interview...

...are the very people who have been calling him that in one form or another since '08...

...or wasn't Cornell West using it to describe the President's avoidance of the subject he was confronting when he used the word...

...or are people of color who use it as a part of their daily speech when referring to themselves or people they know who think that tossing a bunch of different vowels and consonants on at the end somehow makes the word something other than what it was?

Uh huh...

If that ain't a "nigger moment", I don't know what is...

For the record, I'm going for the Queen's English version of that word which denotes an "ignorant person"...
The word long before it was a racial slur was used to describe a lack of intelligence, an ignorance of things that were obvious.

In short, there is no positive spin for the word.

Sorry, Chris Rock, I know you want to resurrect it after the NAACP did that whole symbolic burial thing, but really it's not the kind of word that meant "Freedom" in Swahili, it's still ignorant even when it's not racial.

For the youngsters and the hip hop community and those folks who think they are down when they use it as a greeting or expression of friendship.
It isn't. It never was no matter how many times you add "az", "uh", "a", "ruh", or whatever else you come up with, you're still calling someone ignorant, you're still insulting someone's intelligence even when race isn't a factor...

But when you do it to one another and then lose your minds because someone who isn't you or yours uses the term...

...then it's racial and stupid, and you're a hypocrite.

If the word is wrong, it's wrong all the way around. You can't pick and choose the moments it's okay to speak a slur or insult, because it's a slur and an insult all the time. You can dress it up if you like, but it is what it is all the time...

At least the President used it as a proper example of the ingrained nature of racism in American culture and the difficulty of erasing nearly six hundred years (if you take in the total time of Africans sending their own to the Europeans who then bound them over into slavery overseas to well, now) of racial inequality in a weekend when it's got that large a head start, is an accurate assessment and summary of what he said.

And FOX Newsertainment wants to act like what he said was somehow the most horrible thing ever uttered by a president...

....despite their long track record of profiling people of certain ethnic groups and hiding behind the new "nigger" trigger word of "thug"...

All of you need to take a breath and listen to yourselves before you start jumping on someone else for using the EXACT SAME WORD YOU USE AND REFUSE TO LET GO OF in a context that offends you...

...probably because what was said is true.
And how Black people can sit around demanding the removal of the Confederate battle flag and not abandon the use of a word which is linked to that flag and that era like a guy with a burning cross and a white hood on his head is one of those things I'm not understanding...

Maybe the Johnny Reb isn't the only thing that needs to be left in the past...

Something to consider, friends.

Monday, June 15, 2015

875 Words (More or Less) About Getting Caught Up In Researching

See, research used to be a whole lot harder back in the day before the Internet. I know there are a whole bunch of you right now clutching your hearts and staggering around like Fred Sanford exclaiming; “No…no Internet? What did people do all day long?” I could tell you but that’s another essay for another time. This one here is about my ruminations and musings on the pitfalls of doing research.

Way back in the 1980s in order to do my research for whatever I was working on at the time what I would do is set aside a day (usually Saturday) to go to my local library and spend the morning just researching. At that time I lived in Ebbets Field.

Which was only a nice little thirty minute walk to the library on Grand Army Plaza. So I got my exercise as well. Once the research was done I treated myself to the rest of the day off.

So now we fast-forward to the Internet Age where I can now simply Google any information about anything at all and do my research in my pajamas in the comfort of my home because now the library comes to me. And that’s a good thing. Maybe too much of a good thing.

Let me explain: the current project I’m working on is set during World War I during what was one of the most important conflicts in the history of warfare: The Battle of Cambrai. Cambrai is a town in France that is distinguished due to the fact that it was first time tanks were used in large numbers in combat successfully. Now, I know as much about The Battle of Cambrai as I do about the dark side of the moon. But that’s where things get interesting.

I go ahead and Google up The Battle of Cambrai and there’s a whole lotta good articles and information on the battle. I breathe a sigh of relief and dig in. The trail of research even leads me to YouTube as there’s a goodish number of documentaries from the History Channel about The Battle of Cambrai. I’m encouraged now, y’see? I hungrily absorb everything I’m learning and putting into the story as now I feel much more confident being armed with dates, names and maps to give my story a solid foundation.

So what’s the problem?

I re-read the first three chapters of the book and it occurred to me that what I had actually done was bury the story under the weight of the dates, names and maps. So intent had I been making sure I had the historical stuff right I sacrificed doing the stuff that I know how to do: dialog, characterization, action. Y’know…the stuff I had been asked to do on this project as that was the reason I had been engaged to work on it in the first place.

And I’ve always been the guy who preached that if facts got in the way of telling a good story then throw the facts away and don’t worry about it. But I didn’t do it this time and after some time I had it figured out as to why I wasn’t doing it. These weren’t my characters and this wasn’t a setting I had chosen. My confidence wasn’t holding me up on this one. And usually my confidence level is ridiculously high. But not this time. This time I felt I needed the facts to prove that I knew what I was doing.

And after a couple of days of burning up brain cells meditating about the situation it got through to me that I did know what I was doing. I was asked to write an action packed pulp adventure full of derring-do, thrills and chills. I hadn’t been asked to write a historical fiction novel ala John Jakes. The historical stuff of World War I and The Battle of Cambrai was just the backdrop for the story.

So what did I do? Why I scrapped the first three chapters and rewrote them, of course. But this time I only used just as much research as I needed to move the story along and that’s all.

So what’s the moral of this story? I guess it’s not to let research get in the way of having fun writing. Unless of course you actually are writing a historical fiction novel and in that case it’s of primary importance that you stick to the facts.  Or maybe the moral is that since research is so easy to do now that it’s way too easy to get caught up in research for research’s sake and convince yourself that you’re doing research when you’re actually entertaining yourself swimming in the sea of research.

But you’ll be glad to know that once I got through trudging through that bog, the novel proved to be a lot easier to work on and it’s going faster than I thought it would. What novel is this you ask?

Well, if I told you that now then I wouldn’t have a subject for us to talk about the next time, would I?

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...BERTRAM GIBBS

DF: Who is Bertram Gibbs? Bertram Gibbs: Husband, father, film, comic book, television, Broadway collector and enthusiast. Researcher of ...