Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category

“IncrediBuilds: The Flash” Comes Out On October 15th!


Recently, I wrote an IncrediBuilds book about the CW television series The Flash. The book comes with a balsa wood (Jay Garrick) Flash helmet, which you can build and paint. IncrediBuilds: The Flash will be available on Monday October 15, 2018 from Insight Editions. Here are some images of the book’s front and back cover art, as well as the case the book comes in.

The LEGO DC Super Heroes Visual Dictionary Comes Out TOMORROW!


Recently, I co-wrote a book called The LEGO DC Super Heroes Visual Dictionary, which will be published by DK tomorrow, Tuesday September 4th, 2018. (My co-author on that project was Elizabeth Dowsett.) In April, I talked about what it was like working on the book when I was interviewed by the geek culture blog Comics Beat. As of this writing, The LEGO DC Super Heroes Visual Dictionary is the #1 New Release in Children’s Dictionaries on Amazon. And here’s some info on the book from the Penguin Random House site: 

“Celebrate the entire world of LEGO DC Super Heroes with this comprehensive visual guide to all the minifigures, vehicles and sets, including the LEGO Batman Movie sets. Explore every detail of LEGO Batman’s Batcave, look around Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet, examine Lex Luthor’s awesome mech and find out about all the LEGO DC Super Heroes minifigures’ weapons and gadgets. Find out how the awesome sets and amazing video games are created in the Beyond the Brick chapter, which features concept art and an interview with a LEGO designer. LEGO DC Super Heroes: The Visual Dictionary will tell you everything there is to know about LEGO DC Super Heroes.” 

Monsters (And Not The “Elmo” Kind)


I was recently interviewed by reporter AJ Frost for the geek culture site The Beat. We talked about my recent children’s book projects for Scholastic and Disney Book Group. We also talked about the series of lectures that I’ll be doing throughout 2017 at the NYC performance space QED Astoria.

I’ll be kicking off that lecture series with a talk titled “THE MONSTER MAKERS: UNIVERSAL PICTURES, CARL LAEMMLE JR., AND THE GOLDEN AGE OF HOLLYWOOD HORROR MOVIES.” It’s happening on Saturday January 7th 2017 at 2pm.

This first wave of monster movies (1931’s Frankenstein, 1933’s Invisible Man, 1941’s The Wolfman, etc) didn’t just inspire future generations of horror filmmakers. It inspired ALL purveyors of fantastic cinema, including Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Peter Jackson, Joss Whedon, Clive Barker, and Robert Rodriguez. Not to be coy, but I can’t really tell you WHY or HOW it influenced them. Because then you wouldn’t come and see the lecture.

During my “MONSTER MAKERS” lecture, I’ll talk about people like Boris Karloff, Gloria Stuart, Bela Lugosi, Tod Browning, James Whale, Curt Siodmak, and Jack Pierce. By the time I’ve finished the lecture, you’ll understand why those people are important, why you should care about them, and how they shaped modern pop culture.

You’ll also understand what all of this has to do with the creation of the first wave of comic book superheroes, and how these horror movies were informed by then-recent events in world history.

And I just might explain how the story of these early horror filmmakers ties in to the narrative of my award-winning nonfiction book From Krakow To Krypton: Jews And Comic Books.


Our Long National Nightmare Is Over!


Okay, so it’s been a while since I posted anything here. I’m not proud of that. But all of that is going to change. From this day forward, I am going to be posting things, of that you can be sure, oh you betcha. Boy howdy! Twenty-three Skidoo! And so forth. I’ma be posting things like a super-posting guy who posts a lot. POSTS! Anyway…

Here’s some recent projects I worked on. I’m very proud of them. They’re like my children. My highly flammable, made-from-dead-trees, rectangular-shaped, occasionally-dust-jacketed children. I have one ACTUAL child who is NOT rectangular. But that’s not important to this conversation. Not that my CHILD isn’t important. (Love you, sweetie!) Anyway, yeah, my projects. So…

THE-SIMPSONS-TREEHOUSE-OF-HORROR-21 CoverI wrote a story called “Graveyard Shift,” which appears in the comic book anthology THE SIMPSONS TREEHOUSE OF HORROR #21, which is out now from Bongo Comics. “Graveyard Shift” is pencilled by Ryan Rivette, inked by Patrick Owsley, colored by Alan Hellard, lettered by Karen Bates, and edited by Nathan Kane. The story is a parody of the 1984 movie GREMLINS, but it’s also kind of an homage to early 1960s horror anthology TV shows like THE OUTER LIMITS and THRILLER. It’s an awesome story. HOW awesome? Well, for those young people reading this, it’s more awesome than Taylor Swift instagramming artisanal pickles and talking about it on Periscope. (There. Is that enough current pop culture references to make me seem super-young? SURE IT IS!) 

I also wrote a new juvenile nonfiction book titled SWASHBUCKLING SCOUNDRELS: PIRATES IN FACT AND FICTION, which is out now from Lerner Publishing Group’s Twenty-First Century Books imprint. It’s a book about (wait for it) pirates, both the real historical kind, and the Johnny-Depp-wearing-tons-of-eyeliner kind. I’m really proud of it (the book, not Johnny Depp), and I can honestly say it’s exhaustively researched. Like, I researched it so much I exhausted myself. Physically, emotionally, and in all other possible ways. So I’m not saying that if you don’t buy a copy SwashbucklingScoundrels CoverI’ll have some sort of existential crisis because I’ll start thinking that all my hard work was for nothing, but…I mean, come on. It’s a book about pirates. Fun! SWASHBUCKLING SCOUNDRELS introduces readers to real-life pirates like Blackbeard and Anne Bonny, it reveals which pirates (if any) ACTUALLY buried their treasure, and it explains the difference between a pirate, a privateer, a corsair, and a buccaneer. The book also uncovers the origins of that ridiculous “pirate” accent everyone talks in. You know, the “arrrrgh, me mateys” thing. On a more serious note, the book examines the socioeconomic reasons why the early 18th century was such a boom period for pirates, and it explores the recent wave of Somali pirate hijackings. But if the only reason you want to buy it is because you’re super into “Talk Like A Pirate Day,” who am I to judge? I mean, I started out my career writing for TIGER BEAT. (Seriously, I did. Google it.) I’m the LAST person to judge you for that.

But you know what kids like just as much as pirates? Superheroes. (How’s THAT for a dovetailing segue. FYI, when I was at NYU, I majored in writing with a minor in dovetailing segues.) Anyhootie…

I wrote three of the stories in the children’s short story collection 5-MINUTE AVENGERS STORIES, which hits stores at the end of the year from Disney Book Group’s Marvel Press imprint. The book is comprised of twelve s5 Minute Avengers Stories Coverhort prose stories, each of which is beautifully illustrated. The three stories I wrote are “Practice Makes Perfect” (illustrated by Andrea Di Vito and Rachelle Rosenberg), “Lending a Wing” (illustrated by Ron Lim and Rachelle Rosenberg), and “Robin Hawk” (illustrated by Mirco Pierfederici and Chris Sotomayor). Each story is based on the Marvel comic book series THE AVENGERS. To get more specific, “Practice Makes Perfect” stars Iron Man, “Lending a Wing” involves the Falcon, and “Robin Hawk” features Hawkeye. Although many of the other Avengers characters play supporting roles in each of those stories. (For example, Captain America and Black Widow also play a fairly large role in “Lending a Wing.”) I’m really proud of my work on these three stories, and it was great fun writing them. I also got to indulge some of my personal obsessions, like my fascination with folklore and mythology. For instance, in “Robin Hawk,” Hawkeye, Iron Man, and M.O.D.O.K. travel back in time to medieval Europe, where the townsfolk think that Hawkeye is Robin Hood. Working on these “5-MINUTE” tales taught me something about myself, too. I realized that I identify quite a bit with Tony Stark, but also if I’m being honest, I identify way too much with M.O.D.O.K. Probably shouldn’t actually admitted that. In print. On the Internet. In cyberspace. Oh well.

Oh, but there’s more. SO MUCH MORE! (Well, a little bit more.) I not only like to write, I like to talk. Talking is just like writing, but when you talk, the words just float away into the ether and nobody writes them down and it’s not like writing at all. When you talk professionally, it’s called “lecturing.” Which sounds like scolding young children for running in the hallways. Which is something totally different than what I do when I lecture. My type of lecturing is giving riveting talks before huge crowds of people on various topics. I’m an expert on many topics, so why not talk about them in a fun and informative manner, where my words float away into the ether and such?

I’ve given lectures on various topics all over the world for many years. In 2008, I wrote an award-winning book called FROM KRAKOW TO KRYPTON: JEWS AND COMIC BOOKS, and ever since, I’ve been speaking (far and wide, hither and yon) on the history of Jews in the comic book industry. The creators of Superman, Batman, the X-Men, the Avengers, and MAD Magazine were all Jewish. I got to interview some of these folks – and their friends, family members, and creative collaborators – when I was writing FROM KRAKOW TO KRYPTON, and my career in the comic book industry gives me added insight into their lives and their legacy. This weekend, I’ll be talking about that very subject in my capacity as guest speaker at the Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation’s 2016 Annual Campaign Kick-Off on Sunday, October 25th, 2015, from 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm. The event will be held at the Wichita Marriott, 9100 Corporate Hills Drive. More info here:

And the very next day, at another venue in Kansas, I’ll be doing another lecture, this time about my career as a screenwriter for comic books, television, videogames, and transmedia. I’ll also talk about my work as an author of both fiction and nonfiction. THAT lecture, titled “Superheroes, Stand-Up and Sci-Fi: An Animated Life,” will happen on Monday October 26th at at 10:30 a.m. at Wichita State University, in the lower level of Ablah Library. What is it like writing comic book scripts, graphic novels, video game scripts and nonfiction books, as well as jokes for TV comedy shows? Find out by attending my WSU lecture! All will be revealed! (And THEN some!) For more info, go here:

Please contact me if you want to use this for any reason.