give the gift of misery!

Even Santa agrees – Miserable Holiday Stories is the perfect holiday gift for that very special someone you’d rather never hear from again!

Featuring the the infamous chapter-book parody “The #$@!# Bicycle Boys Save Christmas, Again!” and stories from such eclectic journals as The Big Jewel, Litro, Corvus, eFiction, Dysfunctional Family Story, The Legendary, Blue Print Review, and Hobo Pancakes!

This collection of quirky, bittersweet tales is a terrific stocking stuffer and cheaper than coal!

Now available in e-book and cheap paperback to boot!

chili challis – BAM!

I was heartsick to hear of the passing of comedian Chili Challis last night. Chili was both a friend and hugely inspirational to me. When I was a teenager in Cincinnati in the late 70’s getting my comedy start at d.w. eye, Chili came in (along with John Riggi and Will Durst) with his extremely solid act, raising the bar for every comic that followed.  I was in awe of Chili (he was Bert Challis back then).  Sometimes he was so good I just got angry and jealous – but in retrospect, I realized that it was because of him, Riggi, and Durst that the eye got put on the map in the first place.  While the rest of us were figuring the game out, and wearing training pants, Challis was giving real legitimacy to the club.

So, then about 10 years ago, when I started writing Plrknib – my book about d.w. eye – I found myself back in touch with Chili. He was hugely supportive of the book, and I discovered how much we had in common: we both loved comedy, comedy writing, nurturing and supporting new comics and talent.  (He spent a tremendous amount of time running well-respected comedy Dojos for stand-up newbies across the country.)  And a few years ago, he introduced me to ComedyWire – one of the nation’s fastest growing comedy writing hubs.

We also both had deep root feelings for Cincinnati and getting our comedy starts at d.w. eye.  And of course friends and family were important to both of us.

So, I was thrilled last year, when Chili didn’t just agree to join me, Michael Flannery, and the other comics for the d.w. eye reunion – but also to bring along his brilliant son and comic, Thaddeus Challis, to join us and carry on the tradition. That’s what Chili was about.

So, I won’t say RIP Chili Challis – I’ll say what he said, everytime he ended one of his GREAT bits: Chili Challis – BAM!


Unfortunately, we didn’t get a lot of pics at the reunion show, but here’s a phenomenal selfie Chili took of himself, Drew, and Marty Polio (who joined us at the last minute) back stage.  3 d.w. eye Legends.

And check out the video above for his performance last year at the eye reunion.

prom selected for portland film festival

Exciting News!  My screenplay, Prom on Mars, is an Official Selection at the upcoming Portland Comedy Film Festival.

Wait – what?!  I hear you cry.  Screenplay?

Yes, once upon a long, long time ago Prom on Mars was my retro-futuristic screenplay about a bunch of kids in the year 2053 taking a three-day shuttle ride to Mars for their senior prom.  (Something of a cross between High School Musical (without the music), Star Trek, and Animal House.)  In the 2000’s – back when I was Reviews Editor for PopImage.com – Prom became a long-running webcomic at that site, and this site was created to house the whole thing.  Prom had a nice run for a few years at those two sites, told it’s story, sold a few indie copies of a print run of the first 50 strips, and then called it a day.

Later, when I started planning for a new website to house my writing, comedy, and publishing efforts, I decided to keep the promonmars url, because I kind of loved the name and the branding, and figured I’d also grab any leftover traffic.  The current site has had almost exclusively all new content.  Although I’ve occasionally re-posted some of the non-Prom strips – eg Total Losers, and Young Christo – but no Prom strips…yet.


Young Christo

In fact, for the past 10 years or so, in my brain, Prom was now a brand (and, technically, a publishing imprint), not a property of it’s own.

That is, until I re-read the original Prom script this past summer for the first time in a decade, and thought hey, that’s not so terrible.  So, I cleaned it up and sent it off to a couple places, including the Portland Film Festival.  And well, there you go.

Wish me luck!  I may even post some of the script or the old webcomics up here, if there’s any interest…

jim gilliece

Jim Gilliece was a d.w. eye favorite that I did not know during my tour of duty at the club back in the late 70’s/early 80’s.  I knew Jim had been a part of Chip Chinery’s Comic Relief show in 1991, but I never met him until last summer’s d.w. eye Reunion show, that we assembled after my book, Plrknib came out.  One of the great things about the reunion was that so many people – performers and fans – came out of the woodwork to celebrate the legacy of d.w. eye.  It’s been more than a year now, and I can still barely describe what an extraordinary, funny, emotional evening that was.

One of the highlights was getting to meet Jim Gilliece for the first time.  As you can see in the video, Jim was warmly called to the stage by an audience that knew and loved him.  And not just from his stand-up, but from his years of running Chez Nora in Covington, KY.  Jim, I learned later, came out of stand-up retirement to do that eye reunion show – and as you can see – when he performs he is totally in control of what he’s doing onstage.  I vividly remember watching his act and being deeply impressed.  I got to spend some time with him after the show, and he wasn’t just funny, but tremendously sweet and generous to boot.

Jim passed away this past Saturday from lung cancer.  I feel honored that I got to share an evening with him.  You can read more about him here.

And, from Chip Chinery, here’s Jim’s performance at the 1991 Comic Relief Show.

summer reading


Two books that are “fast, breezy reads” great for taking on vacation.

Miserable Adventure Stories is a new collection of quirky sci-fi and adventure stories, including the award-winning “Raglan Oracle”.  From Amazon:

“It’s a light, easy read and I resented it for making me want more.”
“This is a wonderful collection that had me howling while I was reading it on a plane in the dark.”
“A variegated collection of pop fiction by one of the best practitioners of the pop story…the stories aren’t miserable, they’re masterful.”

Plrknib is my memoir about doing stand-up in high school in the late 70’s at the d.w eye club in Cincinnati.  (Last summer, the book was a hit in Cinti and prompted a sold-out reunion performance of the d.w. eye comics.)

“The Power of Jokes permeates this book in a way that’s rarely seen in fiction.
“High, hysterical, edge-of-your-seat drama.”
“I started reading PLRKNIB in an airport in DC and couldn’t put it down.”

Both books are available on Amazon and at finer bookstores everywhere.

it’s a Gi60 weekend!

It’s that time of year, once again, for Gi60! (Gone in 60 Seconds – the One Minute International Theatre Festival).  Gi60 is an evening of 50 short plays in (approx) 50 minutes.  I’ve gone international again, this year, with six pieces performed across three different shows – inc pieces in the Brooklyn and UK Leeds shows, and four in the Gi60 NextGen show (also in Brooklyn).  Above is one of my pieces from last year’s NextGen show – Bupkis.

Tickets are still available for all of the shows this weekend.  You can find links here.  And if you can’t make it out to Brooklyn, the evening shows will also be live streamed.

I will be haunting both of the Saturday shows in Brooklyn, and will likely have a few copies of both Plrknib and Miserable Adventure Stories with me for signing.

Here’s all the information on the shows and tickets.

Hope to see you there!

eggheads podcast – infinity wars and the new gods

Hey, you know I love comic books, right?  (I was Reviews Editor for the legendary comics-focused website PopImage for about four years in the early 2000s, and Prom on Mars actually started as a webcomic on that site before it morphed into this.)

So anyway, I come back to my fanboy roots in Part 1 of this new Eggheads Podcast talking with prime Egghead Pablo Solano about Infinity War, Adam Warlock, Kirby, the New Gods, and much much more.  Check it out!

mom comes to visit

Scene – JEFF and BETH settle cozily onto the couch with Chinese food and prepare to watch TV. Jeff glances over at Beth, and flirts with her.  She flirts back.

JEFF:  I’m glad we got to spend more time together this weekend.

BETH:  Me too.  It’s been great.

They watch TV.  Jeff puts his arm around her.  They look into each other’s eyes, snuggle closer, as if about to kiss.  Suddenly, a screeching, bird-like VOICE comes from offstage.

MOM (OS):  Jeff!?  Jeff – are you home?!

JEFF:  Oh no.

BETH:  Maybe if we’re quiet, she’ll go away…?

MOM:  Jeff?!  Is that you?  Are you here?!  I love you! It’s your mother, Jeff!  Are you in there?

JEFF’S MOM enters in baggy housecoat, and loaded down with several large suitcases. When she talks she sounds like a broken, skipping record.

MOM:  There you are!  It’s me, Jeff! Your mother! I love you! Who’s this?!  Who’s this?!

JEFF:  It’s Beth, Mom.  You’ve met, like, five times.

MOM:  I’m his mother!  I love him! Do you love him?

BETH (embarrassed):  Uhm…well…uh…

MOM:  I love him!  I’m his mother!

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it’s may fete time again!

In Wyoming, Ohio, the best day of the school year – far and away – continues to be May Fete. On or about the second Friday in May, Wyoming Middle School (in Wyoming, OH) transforms into a massive carnival teeming with rides, food, and game booths.

When I was a kid, May Fete started at noon and went late, late into the night. To a seven-year-old in 1971, it was as if a high-end amusement park had sprung up out of nowhere. You couldn’t go to an odd corner of the school grounds without running into a cake walk or a fish bowl toss or a dunk booth or something. Simply trying to explore every nook and cranny of the event took a very full day.  It was incredibly exciting.

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the raglun oracle

UPDATE – May 1, 2018 – Raglun Oracle just won the story of the month over at Frontier Tales and will be in their eighth anthology!  Thanks to everyone who voted!

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My Twilight Zone meets the Old West piece, The Raglun Oracle is up today at Frontier Tales.  They’ve got a competition running on the site, so please vote for The Oracle!

And of course, you can also find this piece in my new collection Miserable Adventure Stories.

Here’s a snippet:

Christmas last year will not be a day that I—nor anyone in my family— will soon forget, I dare say. I write this comfortably from a bed at my Aunt Sara’s house. As you know, we did not make it to Sara’s last year. And we were anything but comfortable. The storms and snow of last year were greater than any we’d seen in decades. And while that would not usually stop my daddy from makin’ the trip, Ethan, as you know, was quite sick.

Poor Ethan—all of four years—had been a fairly strong boy till that last year—when various sickness overtook him. I had been packing an overnight bag for the trip up north when my Uncle Campbell told me that Ethan was burning up and we’d have to stay put. Daddy had gone for the doctor—a half-day trip, at the least. Ma was in her bedroom laying compresses on Ethan. His fever was high.

Over the past few years, my family had fallen into something of an isolation from the rest of the town, as tends to happen with farming families. Arguments are started and never resolved. Families lose touch and keep to themselves. And so, the begrudging offer to visit from my Aunt was quickly discarded when Ethan fell ill. Soon, a pallor lay over our house as wind crept in through chipped planks causing a low, solemn whistle. The holiday tree I’d cut down myself stood bent over, unseasonable.

Our town, Raglun, is a small one. There aren’t but forty, fifty families—all of whom I can name by sight. There’s little crime, no jail, and half the townsfolk can’t write or read proper. In fact, a great many, in this year of our lord 1873, still believe Lincoln runs the capital, if you can believe that.

Which may be why Ethan’s sickness—and his babbling in particular—came off so unsettling.

I was the one heard it first. I had woken up early that morning to his kicking and writhing. Still asleep, but tossing, turning. And saying words over and over that I couldn’t understand:

Nixon

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