For those viewing through news feed readers, you can find the trailer here.

Special thanks to Jason Chalker for his help in bringing this trailer to life.


As thousands of aspiring writers storm into San Diego this week, there’s one big question on their minds… How do I approach editors at a con?

Well, The Creative Adviser shares his foolproof strategies for becoming an instant celebrity at the show (or at least showing up on the 11 o’clock news) in this week’s article, The Editorial Approach.

Task Force 1, the book I’ve been writing for Jim Valentino over at Image Comics is now available.

Created by Jim Valentino, Task Force 1 features artwork by Comic Book Idol II winner and former ShadowHawk artist, Carlos Rodriguez with colors by Joel Seguin and letters by Jason “Jaco” Hanley.

Here are some comments about Task Force 1:

“…everyone buy his book TASK FORCE ONE when it comes out… I seriously am telling you it’s very very good!” –Gail Simone (Birds of Prey, Secret Six, The All New Atom)

“It’s a summer blockbuster movie in a comic book. Definitely on our “must list”. –Sharp Brothers

“I know it’s a soldier story, but geez, the blood starts on the 2nd page, and keeps gushing.” –luna (from the semi-secret Shadowline clubhouse out in the ether)

If it weren’t for the fact that f***er shot me in the wrist with a nail gun, I’d buy this book in a heartbeat. –what one of my buddies from my military days will probably say about this book when he hears about it

You can check out 10 pages of issue #1 here (well, 9 pages plus the inside front cover) and 5 pages of issue #2 here. For even more information, links to interviews with the creative team at Newsarama and Comic Book Resources are also available at those links.

To read about the soldiers of tomorrow today, you can pick up a copy of the first issue of Task Force 1 at fine comic retailers everywhere. To find a retailer near you, check the Comic Shop Locator Service online or call 1-888-COMIC BOOK.


I hope all the American-types reading have an enjoyable 4th of July. Here are some quick (okay, semi-quick) tidbits…

• Next week, Task Force 1 from the Shadowline imprint at Image Comics hits the comic shop shelves. It’s an exploration of the psyche of the American soldier a generation or so in the future when technology turns top spec ops soldiers into a deadly team with a mission… become the terrorists’ bogeyman. It has guns, explosions, comradery, and my love of really messing with characters’ heads to rip them down until we find out what they’re really made of. For the sake of the world, let’s hope the military was right about the psyche profiles for the members of this team.

• Related to Task Force 1… U.S. Elite Forces Face Shortfall. Here’s an interesting snippet from the article…

–The Navy. It has 2,352 SEALs but is authorized for 2,684, says the Naval Special Warfare Command. Another unit of special warfare combatants has 563 people; it is authorized to have 653.

–The Air Force. It has filled 504 of 616 jobs for combat controllers who direct airstrikes; rescuers of wounded troops behind enemy lines; and combat weather forecasters.

–The Army. It has acknowledged a shortage of troops but won’t give a precise number. The Army Special Operations Command said this year that it would take a few years to return “Army special forces units to full strength.” The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, reported in 2005 that the Army had filled only 2,922 of 3,834 spots for sergeants in four Special Forces categories: intelligence, communications, engineering and medical.

When I first entered the Air Force (way back in ’90), I was in the training pipeline for combat controller. At the time, I believe the washout rate was 85% for the course. 60+ airmen would enter and less that 10 would move on. It was rough, and even if you had the endurance and physical abilities to get through the training, one blown knee (or in the case of one of my best friends… stress fractures in your shins that make them resemble jigsaw puzzles) can ruin it for you.

After I decided to try out for combat control during basic training (go out and take the PAST), I told my mom about it (she was former Air Force). She stopped by the recruiter’s office back home and chatted with him about it. “Your son? The math and physics nerd?” She made a bet with him that I’d get in… conveniently forgetting to mention to him that the math and physics nerd also played on a Texas semi-state finalist football team, competed in regionals for track, and was a sectional runner-up for the swimming & diving team. And even with that background, I barely qualified to make it into combat control training. I think less than a dozen of us qualified that day out of nearly a hundred airmen trying out (getting them to try out wasn’t a problem… basic trainees will do anything to get away from the squadron for a “vacation”).

So, let’s see… maybe 5-10% of all the eligible airmen tried out that day. Approximately 10% qualified to go to the training, maybe 50-75% of those passed the flight physical and/or actually decided to give up another career field to pursue specops, and less than 15% of those will actually make it through the course to become a combat controller (or pararescueman… they both trained together at the time for a significant part of the pipeline). Really, really roughly, that gives you 1/20th of 1 percent of all new recruits. With a 24,000 new recruit cap for 2005, that would have been about 12 new combat controllers/pararescue for the year (18 back in 1990 when the Air Force had 36,000 new recruits). There’s a little play there from cross-trainees (and cross-service cross-trainees) and injured people washing back to the next class to attempt to go through again, but still… when your manpower’s 112 short to begin with, that’s not looking good for getting caught up. I know they changed the program (the changes were starting while I was in training) to make it easier to qualify and a little (stress on the “little”) bit easier to complete the course. Even if they double their throughput, it’ll still be tough to make up those numbers.

And back to my initial comment that this was related to Task Force 1… not only do you work on missions no one else can know about, take on jobs normal soldiers don’t qualify for, and have to constantly maintain proficiencies, but you also have to do all that in a career field that’s undermanned. Even in normal civilian day jobs, a person in an undermanned position is more likely to burn out and have a nervous breakdown without having to deal with bullets and IEDs. Something to think about… I know I do when I’m writing this book. ^_^

The Creative Adviser updates with a question about impersonal rejection…

Why did the rejection letter I got back from my submission to a major comic publisher feel so impersonal? I took the time to add personal touches to my submission… why can’t they do the same?

Jay G., Central City, NE

Dear Jay,

We’ve all run into this scenario at some time, but I just so happen to have a friend (distant friend, in fact) who actually received a personal response from an editor at Marvel Entertainment. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. You just have to strike the right chord with an editor and give them a reason to respond. Let’s take a look at his letter…

Click here to read the rest of the article.

The Top Cow Myspace blog is promoting a screening of the short film “Blame” at the Dances With Films Independent Film Festival. The film was put together by some names familiar to Top Cow (and also stars Renae Geerlings… Top Cow’s current Editor-in-Chief). If you’re in LA the week after San Diego Comicon, you should swing by Laemmle’s Fairfax Theater and give it a looksee.

I bet some of you probably thought I was going a bit Warren Ellis with a title like that. ^_^ Not so…

Over at the Sci-fi Wire, there’s mention of a Dragons of Autumn Twilight animated movie. I like the fact that they’re going the animation route with it. And if the information I tracked down was correct (didn’t see it listed at IMDB Pro though), I was already a fan of the company they have on board to do the concept art (Kunoichi). It’s also nice to see that the producer, Cindi Rice, worked for TSR and then WotC and then on to Hasbro (she also graduated from the same college my wife went to). Not so sure yet about the animation company involved in the production (I need to do a bit more research on them before I make any judgements).


If they can spend money making crap movies with worlds flooded over, Spice Girls and Bat-nipples, why aren’t they all over my script that’s better than half the junk out there?

Tuddle Middleson – Attila, IL

Dear Tuddle,

Better than half? You’re aiming way too low there. Your script needs to be the pinnacle of writing achievement throughout the universe before hitting Hollywood. It should reach another plane of existence where miracles happen… babies stop crying, fast food restaurants get every order right, and vehicles run on piss instead of gasoline. And that’s just to make sure it gets through the Hollywood system as just mediocre crap.

But I think it’s best you see for yourself. Let’s pull out that Film School Rock classic, “I’m Just a Spec” to see how a script is really made into a film…

Click here to read the rest of the article.


Some things just stick with ya. The other day, someone was talking about the military and was trying to remember the articles of the military code of conduct. Without even looking up, I just started reciting them (all six articles) from memory, which got a “thanks” followed by a look that screamed “weirdo”. ^_^

Back in my military days, I spent a good number of months in the training program for Air Force Survival Instructors (I’m pretty sure they refer to them as SERE specialists now… Survival Evasion Resistance Escape). Wound up moving to a new career because of complications due to a freaky heart condition I had (but I was still a 3-level survival instructor, so I got to work with the survival instructor for my next base to assist with training ROTC cadets… that was a lot of fun).

The cadre for the survival instructor course liked to keep the trainees mentally fit. They’d toss random objects at us at any time and have us give an impromptu 5-minute lesson on the value of that object for survival in the wilderness, they’d give us some crazy deadlines (requiring us to stay focused with little sleep for days), and they’d also randomly have us recite the code of conduct…

• I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

• I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.

• If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and to aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.

• If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way.

• When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.

• I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.


A column about breaking in. First issue covered… Agent Declassified.

This time at Comic Book Resources. And interviewed alongside Jim Valentino this time. Some fun snippets…

Jeffery Stevenson: Why are they needed? Well, the story would be pretty boring if nobody needed them to deal with terrorist threats. We’d have to change the title to “Desk Force 1.”

Jim Valentino: What I did was give Jeff the basic concept – “This is who they are, this is the direction I want the book to take” – and then got the hell out of his way. Jeff totally understood the concept right from the get-go. And this could be the single easiest book Kris or I have ever edited, because he just nails it every time. Pacing, dialogue, plotting – everything is just spot-on first time through.


It’s still a work of fiction, minus encounters with mutants, the supernatural, aliens, magic, or super-genius time-travelling were-octopi pygmies, but there’s a hint of possibility for practically all the tech seen in TASK FORCE 1, including the stuff used by the terrorists. At any moment, you might get hit with the thought, “damn, that really could happen.”

There’s a lot more information about the book there, plus 10 pages of previews, the first three covers, and even a page from issue #2 (their link for that doesn’t seem to be working properly right now, but you can find the page here).

Click here to go to the rest of the interview and the preview pages.