Sunday, January 28, 2024

SNEAK PEEK! - Monsters 101, Book Six: "Pieces of the Puzzle"


Monsters 101, Book Six: "Pieces of the Puzzle"
On the Event Horizon of Pure Evil! - Mort the boy sorcerer has gained his most notable magical skill to date, the ability to access the spirit world at will. The unseen entities on the Otherside are all too willing to instruct their eager pupil in the shamanistic arcane arts, but Mort’s studies must take a back seat when his second sight discovers a mysterious, thieving menace stalking the showrooms of a famous Oasis City museum, a place dear to his heart from childhood. Mort & Pugroff desperately attempt to rescue an ancient artifact the entities pilfer before they are able to unleash a literal hell on earth upon humanity. But all of this may be in vain as that very earth belches up a diabolical force that renders Dragon’s Fang itself useless, while Pugroff displays symptoms of a sickness that very well may result in an actual Armageddon of total destruction!

Graphic novel
6.14” x 9.21”
Perfect binding
150 pages, b&w interiors


Muhammad Rasheed - I made this Monsters 101 sneak peek entry specifically to link to it from the Brian Cronin review page. Brian reviewed a bunch of 'African-American' comics over on CBR for 2014 Black History Month, and I drop-shipped him all ten of my recently-completed graphic novel series to take advantage of the free press. When I got the notice that the review was published, I noticed that within the entry, Brian said he never received Book Six. I promptly contacted my printer and they confirmed that they had sent it out with the rest of them.  I kept an eye on his review to see if the Book Six part would update once it finally arrived. It never did. I reached out to Brian a couple months later in an Facebook DM he responded to before and asked him to let me know when he received it. He said he would.

And now the original CBR review page is gone. 

I let it go, though I do still think about it every now and again. Monsters 101, Book Six does stand out in the series. I put a lot of fun genre stuff in the sixth title of Monsters 101. There was also a lot of racial stuff, too. Something happened in Book Four that triggered my co-protagonist Pugroff to initiate a stereotype-based running gag to piss off Mort that finally came to a head. 

That was very important for my two protagonists' character development. I also introduced Thundermine, who functioned as a tribute to my father, though from an antagonist angle. The character represented my dad's rage, and his story was a loose caricature of a real life event.

I don't know if the story and character would've turned out the same if dad was still alive when I wrote it. I would've had a chance to pick his brain about the incident and gain more insight. I also wouldn't have wanted to annoy him, since dad devoured everything I created, including the first seven or eight chapters of Monsters 101 that were in the can at that time.

A long time ago, Dad used to work in the Chrysler assembly plant back in Michigan. His favorite hobby (probably outside of golf maybe...?) was to debate the regulars at his favorite restaurants, book stores and at the job. He kept a little stack of oft-referenced books in the truck. lol

I'm trying to find that old Richard Pryor bit, where he said his father used to reference this sports almanac's stats & figures just so he could ("I got the BOOK, n*gga! I'll show you!") flex on his boys. The bit used to crack me up because it reminded me so much of my own dad's style.

One of the books in dad's stack was called Medical Curiosities (1892) by George M. Gould & Walter L. Pyle. I remember watching the commercial for it back in the late 1970s, sitting on the carpet in front of our old floor model television, and dad getting VERY excited about it. He ordered it that day.

One of the entries featured a certain demographic being born with 6-inch tails, so I can just imagine the nature of the debates going down at Chrysler. It also led to the incident that I ended up caricaturing for my Monsters 101, Book Six opening chapter. People were mad. lol

When he was stationed in Thailand during the Vietnam War, the natives would lift up the back of the ADOS soldiers' shirts looking for the tails that the white soldiers insisted they would find. Because my dad had the definitive proof of who really had the tails, he made enemies for the revelation.

His work colleagues at Chrysler vandalized some equipment and spray painted obscenities on the wall, etc., and wrongfully blamed it all on dad. The company blindly laid dad off, and my folks promptly sued. I described the aftermath of the event here: 

[WOTP:WOG] - The Judiciary Arm of Systemic Racism | YouTube

I tried to capture the white hot intensity of all I could remember about the incidents, as well as similar items, and shove them into my art. My other series reviewer, Richard Caldwell, did address M101, Book Six, but he conspicuously avoided the racial aspects.

I suppose it's possible that the racism part of the book was too strong for Brian's taste and he decided he'd put his energy into reviewing the other nine books in the series (for free) and I should just let that missing review go. I actually did, and only published this post to fill that hole in Brian's review with a bit of closure so I'll be able to successfully stop thinking about it finally.


Muhammad Rasheed - The original seed-germ for my Thundermine character was formed back in 1986, when I read an uncomfortably unsatisfactory copy of an issue of the Incredible Hulk.

Incredible Hulk Vol. 1 #327

In this issue, Rick Jones was actually in the Hulk role, but that wasn't the problem I had with it. General "Thunderbolt" Ross had transferred his mind into the body of the electrical elemental alien creature called Zzzax and THAT was the problem. Listen, if you were actually going to give General Ross powers and have him fight the Hulk, that's what you're gonna came up with? Really? I was really disappointed. For one, the best Hulk fights are the ones when he's battling big, super-strong bruisers like him. You made General Ross an energy guy who just flies around, mostly incorporeal, zapping at the Hulk at distance. Lame. That's just as unsatisfactory as the abstract battle with Nick Nolte's knockoff Absorbing-Man character at the end of Ang Lee's Hulk (2003) movie

After reading that comic, I would play around with the idea of giving General Ross powers for REAL to solve how that would work for me. The strength-enhancing kinetic absorption powers, with an electric discharge side effect that made thunder boom around him was what I came up with and I thought it was PERFECT. I didn't work for Marvel Comics though and so, it didn't matter at all  until I finally got to use the concept in my very own independent title. lol Now I'm very happy and I got to make a tribute to my dad, too. 

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