Yike! Vike Bike!

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Last Saturday I was out enjoying a cup of coffee near West River Parkway in Minneapolis, when this vision of bicyclistic inspiration rolled into my field of view. Just thought I would share it with readers of this blog. Note the decorations at either bow: bicycle sprockets!

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Johnny and the Zombies Free Kindle Giveaway in December

Here’s a heads-up for folks who’ve read the first Johnny Graphic book…

On December 5 through 9 I’ll be giving away the Kindle version of Johnny Graphic and the Attack of the Zombies on Amazon. This is your chance to catch up on Johnny’s adventures in the Royal Kingdom. Hope you enjoy it!

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Johnny Graphic Giveaways

To celebrate the upcoming publication of Johnny Graphic and the Attack of the Zombies, I’ve set up a giveaway on Goodreads. The giveaway offers three paperback copies and runs through October 22. For your chance to win a copy of the new Johnny Graphic adventure, just click here.

Also, the first book in the series, Johnny Graphic and the Etheric Bomb, will be given away as a Kindle e-book on Amazon, from October 4 through 6. You can download the book for free on those dates by clicking right here.

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Here’s the New Johnny Graphic Cover!

This is a special preview for all you Johnny Graphic fans. Here’s the cover of the new book, Johnny Graphic and the Attack of the Zombies. Just as he did a year ago, artist Steve Thomas did a terrific job this time around.

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Johnny Graphic and the Attack of the Zombies will be available in mid-September. Fresh from saving the lives of millions of people, Johnny and his friends are drawn into another rip-roaring ghost adventure.

This time an army of monstrous bog zombies has appeared out of nowhere to ravage the northern counties of the Royal Kingdom. They’re rampaging, burning, and smashing everything in sight. And they’re capturing kids for reasons too horrible to even contemplate. Johnny, his best friend Nina Bain, and his sister Mel are summoned to help defeat the evil genius thought to be behind this nefarious plot–Percy Rathbone! The very same ghost who created the etheric bomb. Who nearly destroyed Johnny’s hometown. And who was the last person to see Johnny’s parents before they disappeared.

Cut off from all help in the grim, foggy northern wilderness, the young news photographer and his companions must fight for their very survival while they try to rescue the kids who have been taken. But Percy has something much more dangerous in mind. And Johnny has to stop him before it’s too late.

The fate of the Royal Kingdom depends on it.

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Johnny Is Available at Common Good Books

This is just a heads up for Twin Cities Johnny Graphic fans–the paperback edition of Johnny Graphic and the Etheric Bomb is available at Common Good Books in St. Paul. Located at the busy corner of Snelling and Grand, CGB is one of the classiest and smartest of Twin Cities bookstores. Even if you’re not in the market for a copy of Johnny, it’s well worth a stop and a browse.

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Johnny Graphic’s New Adventure: Out Later This Summer

Those of you who read Johnny Graphic and the Etheric Bomb may have wondered what happened next to our 12-year-old news photographer. Well, you won’t have to wait much longer.

Johnny Graphic and the Attack of the Zombies, the second book in the trilogy, will be out later this summer. And it’s packed with action as Johnny, Mel, and Nina head off to Dame Honoria’s homeland for yet another deadly encounter with that devious, demented ghost, Percy Rathbone.

I’ll be posting more updates about the new book on this website. But for now, here’s what the back cover blurb for the book will say:

Fresh from saving the lives of millions of people, Johnny Graphic and his friends are drawn into another rip-roaring ghost adventure.

This time an army of monstrous bog zombies has appeared out of nowhere to ravage the northern counties of the Royal Kingdom. They’re rampaging, burning, and smashing everything in sight. And they’re capturing kids for reasons too horrible to even contemplate. Johnny, his best friend Nina Bain, and his sister Mel are summoned to help defeat the evil genius thought to be behind this nefarious plot. Percy Rathbone! The very same ghost who created the etheric bomb. Who nearly destroyed Johnny’s home town. And who was the last person to see Johnny’s parents before they disappeared.

Cut off from all help in the grim, foggy northern wilderness, the young news photographer and his companions have to fight for their very survival while they try to rescue the kids who have been taken. But Percy has something much more dangerous in mind. And Johnny has to stop him before it’s too late.

The fate of the Royal Kingdom depends on it.

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If Johnny Was In the Movies

The odds of Johnny Graphic being made into a movie are probably about the same as my winning the Power Ball. But an author can dream, can’t he?

If Johnny’s story is made into a movie, I don’t see it as a live-action film with digital effects. I would think the cost of doing all those ghosts with computers would be hugely expensive. That’s why I figure Johnny would be perfect for an anime-type film. Those great Japanese animators can do ghosts like gangbusters.

And as long as I’m dreaming out loud on this blog, why not have Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli do it?

I’m a huge fan of their films. There are timeless classics like Kiki’s Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro, which are great even for young kids. Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away are a little darker, a little scarier–but fantastic in their own ways. Porco Rosso is a terrific fantasy/romance set in a 1930s Mediterranean, complete with flying boats and air pirates; a world similar to Johnny’s. If you haven’t seen these movies, starting watching them tonight!

And the voices for the anime Johnny? Well, for Johnny and Nina I don’t know. Just good kid actors. For some of the grownup characters: as Mel, Zoe Kazan; Pam Ferris for Dame Honoria; John C. Reilly for Uncle Louie; Sam Elliott for Colonel MacFarlane; J.K. Simmons for Mr. Cargill. You get the idea.

If this miracle ever happens, I’ll post it here and you’ll be the first to know.

FYI, the sequel to Johnny Graphic and the Etheric Bomb is rapidly taking shape. In fact, I’m about ready to send off the newest draft to the editor whom I work with. Johnny Graphic and the Attack of the Zombies should be out later this summer.

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The Last Bluecoat

If you’ve read Johnny Graphic and the Etheric Bomb, you know that Johnny’s #1 ghost sidekick is a dead cavalry officer from the First Border War, Colonel MacFarlane. In Johnny’s world, that war was the equivalent of the U.S.’s Civil War. Of course, in our Civil War, the north won and the south remained part of the union. In the fictional First Border War, the south won and the formerly united country broke up into four different countries.

When I was a kid I was such a Civil War nerd that I had Civil War wallpaper in my bedroom–a reproduction of the Vicksburg, Mississippi, newspaper from the town’s famous 1863 siege. One reason I was fascinated with the war was because of man who had lived in my hometown, Duluth, Minnesota. He died there in 1956 at the age of 109 and was one of the most highly honored men in America. Why?

Albert Woolson had been the very last living Union (northern) veteran of the Civil War, the last Bluecoat. By some accounts, he was the last verifiable living veteran of the Civil War on either side. Here are a couple photos of his grave and memorial plaque.

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While his father died from wounds sustained at the Battle of Shiloh, Woolson himself never saw actual action during the war. But as a teenager he had been a drummer boy in the First Minnesota Heavy Artillery. He wouldn’t have been much older than Johnny Graphic is during the course of his adventures.

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The Johnny Graphic Discussion Guide Is Now Available

Many of you have suggested that I create a guide for readers who want to get the most from Johnny Graphic’s adventures. The result is this new Reader’s Guide, which is full of thought-provoking discussion questions, challenging new vocabulary, and entertaining activity ideas–all to extend the book’s experience. The Guide is suitable for classroom use or for individual readers at home. You can download the free PDF by clicking on “Reader’s Guide” in the menu above.

I welcome any comments or questions about the Guide. I hope you find it enjoyable and useful.

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Another Young Photographer

As a news photographer, Johnny Graphic can only be called a prodigy. He does something on a professional level at a young age. In the real world, of course, this sort of thing doesn’t happen very often. But since the world of Johnny Graphic and the Etheric Bomb is my world, I can do just about anything there that I want–so long as I’m consistent. And I say that Johnny is a crack news lensman. So there.

Also, there’s a bit of envy involved. I was very impressed by the photographers at the newspaper where my grandfather was a sports writer. I vividly remember when I hung out in the photo department as a teenager. It was the first time I really remember smelling those unmistakable darkroom chemicals. And it was one of the things that gave me the photo bug. I knew I wanted to be a photographer. But they weren’t hiring kids, unlike the Zenith Clarion. So I undertook my own assignments as a street photographer. That means I simply photographed life on the street–people coming and going and living their lives.

Here’s one of the early shots that I took, of a mother and her sons at a downtown parade. Nobody looks too excited, but they do look real.

Mother and Sons

My particular inspiration for pursuing this kind of photography was the Frenchman Henri Cartier-Bresson. I tried really hard to imitate his style of street photography. I was never as good as him, but I’d like to think I did a decent job for someone so young. Here’s where you can see some of his famous pictures.

From time to time, I’ll post more of these shots from my youth.

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