Gears of War 4: A family affair.

When I booted up Gears of War 4 to an image of James Fenix my wife commented, “he looks like a meathead”.
“Well he is,” was my response.
Then Marcus Fenix, the protagonist of the first three Gears games, appeared, an older and more grizzled version of James, my wife said, “He looks like a meathead too.”
“Well he’s the meatheads daddy,” I replied.
“Where’s his mommy?” She asked.
“She’s dead…… but she was a meathead as well.”
My wife left the room and I dove in to the around 8 hour single player campaign of Gears of War 4.
All the classic 3rd person duck and cover gameplay that made the series prominent last generation still exists. It’s heightened by pretty amazing weather effects and one or two intriguing set pieces that change the gameplay completely. I personally could do without the mech combat near the end of the game but it doesn’t take away from a solid ride fueled mostly by one thing.

The tag line for Gears 4 is “Never Fight Alone”. And that is the series at its best. In the first three games you and your oversized linebacker buddies delved deep into the locust underground relying on one thing only, each other. Even Marcus’s backstory is filled with him disobeying orders to save his father. In the new one family is even more important as James enlists his fathers help and although strained as many father-son relationships are they still answer the call. The main story is propelled by new character Kait trying to rescue her mother from the new enemies The Swarm. And in the end of Gears of War 4, the final revelation is about family.
Family is what you fight for, it’s what you go to war for and sometimes the people who fight along side you become the one thing worth dying for. They become family.
Beneath the over masculine framework Gears tells this story very very well.
“Never Fight Alone”. img_4414


Star Trek at 50

I was around eight years old when I first stumbled upon Star Trek. We lived in an area that only received a few channels and none of them happened to be the ones rerunning episodes of the series in syndication.
A friend of our mother asked if we could feed their cats during a summer vacation. The first day we went into the house we did what curious young boys do and explore the rooms. When we hit the basement office space I laid eyes on her for the first time. A nice foot long scale model of the Enterprise.
“Cool a spaceship”.
Little did I know what impact that would have on my life. The next day was a hot one. The house was cool and while I was feeding the cats my younger brother suggested we hang out for a while and watch a movie. We looked at the wall of Betamax tapes carefully trying to find one. Then I saw that same ship.
“Star Trek? Let’s watch this.” I suggested.
And welcome to a new world, a new universe. Kirk. Spock. McCoy. Adventure. It was my first introduction to science fiction and that youthful love carried into adulthood as it did for many others. As I grew older so did Star Trek, it changed with the times but always at its core was about something better. I’ve been lucky enough to hear many of the original actors talk. And we’ve lost many of them, one by one. Star Trek was a small job over long careers for many of the writers, directors and actors involved in its creation but its influence will be around long after everyone alive today is gone.
That is a legacy worth celebrating.
Happy 50th Star Trek.


Free Comic Book Day

Saturday is Free Comic Book Day! Find a store and take your kids, start them on a life of reading & adventure.

I know I was lucky enough to have a mom who drove me and my brother to comic stores and gave us a dollar at the local gas station to get a comic. We learned to read with comics. We learned about myth and fiction. We learned about art.
And we learned to dream.

Be that person for someone else and not spend a dime doing it. Go to an event this Saturday with your kid. Or go by yourself and see what awaits.


2016 Conventions

Here’s the current plan for what cons I will be at this year. Might squeeze a few more into the schedule. I am not vending at any of them although I may have my zines at our Asheville Zine fest if I’m not too busy running the event. I am also doing some social media for Parks & Cons so at most of these events I will be doing work for them. Hope to see some of you at these events this year.

11/11- 11/13, 2016
NC Comicon Durham, NC (fan/press)

10/15-10/16, 2016
Fayetteville Comic Con Fayetteville, NC (Fan/Press)

9/2-9/5, 2016
Dragoncon Atlanta, GA (Fan/Monday OnlY)

8/13-15, 2016
Wrecking Ball Atlanta, GA (Fan)

7/30, 2016
Asheville Anime Asheville, NC(Fan)

6/30-7/3, 2016
Convergence Bloomington, MN (Panelist)

6/17-6/19, 2016
Heroescon Charlotte, NC (Fan)

5/1, 2016
Asheville Zine Fest Asheville, NC (Organizer)

4/24, 2016
Marble City Comic Con Knoxville, TN

4/2-4/3, 2016
Sc Comiccon Greenville, SC (Fan)

3/18-20, 2016
Mace West Asheville, NC(Press)

3/11-3/13, 2016
Joelanta Atlanta, GA (Fan/Press)
Andocon Atlanta, Ga (Fan/Press)

2/27-2/28, 2016
ETSU Con Johnson City, TN (Press)


Christmas Knuck

I’ve always liked the wonder of the Christmas story. I think I originally wanted this to be more Gremlins then anything else, but as usual when writing flash, you let the story lead you quickly and without recourse to a different destination. As always thanks for reading.

The Christmas Knuck.

Misty always hated this time of year. She would find herself burnt out about two weeks into the season by the raucous cacophony of Christmas tunes and department store barkers. She reluctantly held her station at the Wenterms make up stand with great diligence despite her indifference. December 24th would be here tomorrow and she could relax for a night and a day. No noses to powder, no eyeliner samples to apply.
Misty’s family was all gone except her Father. But she would have to settle for calling her father, far away, constantly on some deployment or classified mission. It would be nice to hear his voice, which with each missing year became something more nostalgic but less tangible. She would then settle in for a marathon of old comedies. Last year she watched more episodes of Coach then anyone should endure. But it was a peaceful time, with no sales goals or customer experience metrics. A cup of tea, a warm blanket. A recovery day.

She left the store that night to the season’s first snow flurry. The flakes blew sideways in gusts of wind like tiny dancers in a larger play. Misty pulled hard on the old Buicks rusting door and it groaned with the transfer of air. The old heater came alive with a faint burning smell, and it lurched into drive out onto the roads. Misty had driven about a half mile when she first heard it. It sounded kind of like a squealing pig, but lighter and less in pain. She turned off the heater to listen closer. It was coming from the back seat. She pulled over in a donut shop parking lot, a neon glow lighting the insides of the cars.
She got out and carefully opened the back door. Inside Misty saw a small furry ball creature with one eye and a half bird beak. It stood on two naked bird legs. It looked like it was shivering. Before she thought it through Misty was reaching for the creature scooping it up and wrapping her jacket over it as she pulled it closer.
Its squeals changed to a soft murmur and its breathing slowed considerably.
Misty felt a motherly protection of this strange little fur ball and decided it would be best for it to head home with her.
Misty got the little beastie home, found an empty box filling it with an old t-shirt and put down the now sleeping one eyed fur ball with a beak.
“I’ll call you Max.”
Max slept soundly occasionally letting out what closely resembled a burp. While he slept Misty searched on the internet for what kind of creature he was. She had stumbled on a weird site of ancient folklore creatures when she found a drawing that closely resembled the little guy. He was called a winter knuck. The page had average weight, fur color, and said little else except that they were believed to be from the North Pole and pets of Saint Nicks elves.
“Is that what you are? What are you doing down here little knuck?”
Misty checked on the little guy one more time and turned in for the night.

Bang! Something loud and from the kitchen. Misty woke quickly, then CRASH! That was a dish breaking for sure. Misty grabbed the bat she kept behind her closet door for just such occasions. She crept out of her bedroom and down the hall towards the kitchen. The only light coming from the room looked to be from the refrigerator. Shadows bounced in the light as another dish crashed. Misty came around the corner fast, the bat high above her head, and stopped short from swinging. Standing on the kitchen counter another plate in his beak, sat Max. His one eye stared at Misty for a few seconds then he dropped the plate with a crash and hopped over to her. She caught him in one hand and lowered the bat.
“What a mess you’ve made. Going to have to figure out what to do with you while I’m working tomorrow. “ Max just let out another purr.

Christmas Eve at the store was busy but was filled more with husbands buying emergency gifts than customers sampling the products so it was an easy day for Misty and she checked her watch often to make sure the clock was getting closer to close. Her boss, feeling sorry for her, invited her to his family’s house for Christmas dinner, but Misty said no. He wasn’t the only one to ever do so. Last year her coworker wanted her to go to a ski resort with her. But Misty had grown used to being alone on Christmas and did not want to impose on anyone else. She usually regretted the decision a few hours into her sitcom marathon each Christmas day but it had become tradition. And Christmas is a day for enduring traditions even those self-inflicted ones.
She drove home through a snow that grew thicker with each mile. As soon as she opened her apartment door she heard Max squealing in her homemade cage. He jumped right up into her as she let him out and to her surprise she was glad for the comfort of the little creature. Later that evening Max would fall asleep next to her watching bad infomercials on the TV.

The sun peered through her window waking Misty. Max stood on the couch next to her blinking his one eye at her repeatedly.
“Good morning Max. Merry Christmas.” Misty swung her leg over and got to a sitting position just as the doorbell rang. Max let out an excited squeal and hopped down from the couch towards the door.
“Who in the world could be here on Christmas?” Misty made her way to the door still wiping the sleep from her eyes. She opened it slowly.
“Hello Baby Girl” called the voice from the other side. He was thinner than the last time she saw him and had more grey hair, but she nearly toppled him as she jumped into a hug.
“Dad! Your home.”
“Yeah, I got a few days. Merry Christmas. Hope this isn’t an inconvenience.”
Misty just hugged him tightly and led him inside.
“Can I get you coffee?” She started for the kitchen, but then stopped remembering Max. She turned and realized he must have went out the door.
“One second Dad, I’ll be right back.”
When Misty stepped outside, she saw Max hopping away towards a tall oak tree in the far corner of the yard. Misty called him just as he reached it. “Max”
He turned and looked at her, then back to the tree. A plump arm adorned in a red sleeve with white fur around the wrists reached from behind the tree. Max hopped into the extended white glove who picked him up and went back behind the tree. Misty ran out to the tree but when she arrived Max and the mystery arms owner were nowhere to be seen. She looked around the tree twice when her dad called from the porch,
“Everything okay Misty?” She took one last look before smiling at her dad, shaking her head in disbelief and heading in.
“Goodbye Max, I guess. Merry Christmas.”
As she shut the door to her house to spend Christmas with her father for the first time in years, the wind carried a faint echo, and it sounded like Ho. Ho. Ho.

Merry Christmas.


Killing Card is out of print.

kccov3 Mark Schwabers The Killing card is out of print from us. Its the last of our music releases I had left. It was an honor to release it and maybe one day I will release other music but for not the label side of luckycreature is a part of our memories. Thanks for listening!


Be About It #11

My flash poem Endings is included in the latest issue of Be About It. This is issue #11 of this great zine. It’s my third appearance in the zine. My story Statues of Iowa City appears in issue 4, and my poem “like a..” appears in issue 10. You can get a copy of the new issue here, here.

Updated release list here


Publication Update.

My flash story Housing appears in the latest
Poetry & Paint the Future edition.
The editor descibes my story in the forward like this
‘Shawn Scott Smith envisions a sci-fi, technologic utopia, of sorts. Yet, its satirical tone is mocking of advertising speech, and as we see a world unfold where we build upwards, it soon appears closer to a dystopia”

You can buy physical copies in Color Black and White and an ebook edition is also available here.

Updated my publication list here

Thanks for reading.


What Happens in The Dark.

I have a piece of art work in the zine “What Happens in The Dark, A Grand Theft Auto Zine” out now and available to download free at the following links.
Main Page and
Read it on Issuu here
There are also links to download it directly through Google and Mediafire if you prefer higher image resolutions from the main page above.
My piece is on page 7 and is the first piece of art in the zine. Some great artists to be included with. Enjoy.