Imperial Tarawa-class Marine Transport

Built to carry a single Line Marine Expeditionary Unit (LMEU), the Tarawa-class was derived from the Hotspur-class heavy cruiser hull and shares a great deal of commonality with the Hotspur design. While armed in self-defense, the class was built mostly for the purpose of carrying, deploying, and supporting a LMEU, with the additional support of a Wasp-class Marine Armor Transport to carry light and medium tanks (later panzers).

The class would remain in service well into the Hegemony era, only entering second-line service with the appearance of the Iwo Jima-class Marine Transport.

Design History

Designed to replace the Tripoli-class Marine Transport, the Tarawa-class would consolidate many of the missions that required 1.5 Tripoli-class hulls into a single ship. The biggest consolidation was of troops and troop transports, with the ship carrying eight Knight troop dropships and two Cobra light gunships for drop support. Each Knight dropship can carry up to twenty-two Marines, a single LAV, or a single cargo pod internally, providing the ability to rapidly deploy forces into battle. The Tarawa-class also mounts six drop pod cannons on the dorsal of the ship, which can quickly drop powered infantry troops into battle. The ship carries sufficient drop pods and support pods for up to two combat drops.

The ship shares the same 500mm missile tubs and the bow and stern weapons fit of the Hotspur-class, mostly for self-defense and deployment of bombardment weapons. Because the class would operate closer to planets than most other Imperial ships, the point defense systems were heavier to provide protection against mines and missile strikes. The 500mm missile tubes also gave the Tarawa-class the ability to launch a variety of bombardment munitions, from guided SEAD weapons to pure kinetic penetrators.

Unlike most Imperial warships, the Tarawa-class does not mount a deployable VLBI array, as the general mission of the class would make such an array inconvenient. The ship also carries full command facilities for Line Marine units, an expanded medical bay, and enlarged fabrication systems for equipment upkeep and ammo resupply. While the Imperial-era version of the ship would have a “morgue” (powered armor storage bay) big enough to equip a battalion of troops, Hegemony-era ships would carry enough powered armor to equip every Marine.

The hull would see several major revisions, in the form of battle steel armor, antimatter power systems, and an enlarged “morgue” bay during the Hegemony era. The capability of the class would keep it in service well into the later Hegemony era, only to be replaced by the Iwo Jima-class Marine Transport.

Service History

The Tarawa-class would be built in six flights, with the major differences between “flights” being the replacement of the fusion reactors with antimatter reactors, battle steel armor, and minor technical upgrades. The class would primarily operate with Patrol Fleet, followed by Battle Fleet.

The class would not see service in the Ghost Fleets, as there was little need of a Marine transport. Rumors that the largest caches had at least one Tarawa-class to quickly “assume control” of worlds that were being developed by earlier Ghost Fleet caches are continually denied.

General Characteristics

Dimensions: 240 m x 25 m x 20 m

Mass: 36,000 tons (consistent across all flights)

Power Systems:

2x Yoyodine Type 47 Gravity Fusion Reactors (Imperial Era, Flight I-III)

2x Yoyodine Type 45 Antimatter Reactors (Hegemony Era, Flight IV)

2x Yoyodine Type 45-A Antimatter Reactors (Hegemony Era, Flight V-VI)

Propulsion Systems:

8x Q-Coils (350 G acceleration, all flights)

3x Slipspace rings (6 LY/day, all flights)


180 days on stored supplies, fuel scoops (Imperium Era)

180 days of antihydrogen at 90% power, theoretically unlimited material
endurance (Hegemony Era)


One Class VI AI, 26 Officers, 50 NCO, 260 Able Spacers, backup bioshells and cybershells (Imperial Era)

One Class VII AI, three Class VI AIs, three Class V AIs, mixture of uploads and biological crew equaling 410 crew members, backup bioshells and cybershells (Hegemony Era)


Up to 1,700 Marines (Line Marine Expeditionary Unit), with backup bioshells and cybershells.

“Morgue” (powered armor bay) for one battallion (Imperial era) or the entire LEMU (Hegemony era).


8×6.5cm positron beam cannons in double turrets (two dorsal, two ventral)

10x700mm missile tubes with gravity launchers, one array of five port and starboard.

6xDrop Pod Launchers, ventral.


Stealth Systems: Radar sheath, IR dampener w/military specification hypersink, hull form.

ECM: AN/SL(G)-88 Electronic Warfare Array, with “spike” and “strobe” jammer options.

AN/SG(N)-41 Electronic Warfare Array with one port and one starboard “spike” arrays.

8x Rodeo-class missile decoys, 8xMirrorball-class sensor decoys (dispensers ventral and dorsal).

Point Defense: 16 40mm xaser cannons with double-bounce gravity mirrors in independent casemate mounts.

20 20mm xaser cannons with double-bounce gravity mirrors in independent casemate mounts.

6x150mm counter-missile launchers, mounted in pairs bow, port and starboard.

Shields: Standard Hegemony Navigational Shields

Combat Shield Generators-150% capacity bow, 125% capacity dorsal, ventral, port and starboard, 100% capacity stern. (All Flights)

Armor: Fibersteel, 7 cm maximum (Imperium Era)

Battle Steel, 7 cm maximum (Hegemony Era)

Secondary Craft:

8x Dropships, 2xGunships, 2xPinnance, 3xCutter, 6xType 2 Recon Drones, 2xType 3 Recon Drones (Imperium Era)

8xDropships, 2xGunships, 2xPinnance, 3xCutters, 8xHarvesters, 8xType 2 Recon Drones, 4xType 3 Recon Drones (Hegemony Era)

Designer Notes

If you need to get boots on the ground, the Tarawa-class is the ship you want. Having both dropships and drop pod launchers, the class isn’t quite a “jack of all trades” (it lacks armor bigger than LAVs), it does quite a few roles very well.

  • It’s not quite a hospital ship, but it does have enlarged facilities for medical emergencies.
  • Since it carries a Line Marine unit, it can do most missions until Garrison Marines are deployed or the Imperial Army (“Operations other than war,” civil contingencies, occupation/planetary control, etc, etc, etc).
  • It has a relatively large fabrication system, so it can start restoring planetary infrastructure during an emergency.
  • And, it has a Line Marine Expeditionary Unit, which have fought so many desperate actions that even a short list would be voluminous.

The biggest issue was that the class could only drop a single battalion of powered infantry pre-Hegemony (which limited the roles of drop infantry to raids, securing locations for heavier drop ships, and/or similar “airborne infantry” missions) and it can’t carry heavier armor. While later armor (i.e. panzers) could self-deploy in the late Imperium era, there wasn’t enough space to carry anything more than a company of light armored vehicles. 

The later Hegemony-era versions of the ship could equip the entire force with powered armor (relegating the dropships to providing supplies and theater transport on the planet), but the armor issue would remain even with the larger Iwo Jima-class.

Three Tacos

I’m not sure exactly how this works in my head, but I have to think of it from a character point of view.

In some ways, money I earn isn’t real to me. The numbers that I see don’t quite make sense as numbers. So, my brain starts trying to figure out ways to break the amounts of money down.

Rent payment.
Half a dozen trade paperback comic books.
Groceries from Costco for the next two weeks.

And, of course, my favorite…


Namely, the Chicken Chalupa Supreme from Taco Bell.
(Does it tell my age that I remember when you could have three different kinds of Chalupas from Taco Bell? Or steak was a valid order option? Share your opinions in the comments…)

Each one of those works out to about $15 (Northern California, blame Sacramento for the fiscal horrors of this state). So, if I’ve sold enough books to buy a taco, I’ve sold about $15 worth of books, or about five books in total.

I went to check my KDP this morning to see how my sales for Solist At Large and The Winter Solist are doing…

And I’ve got three tacos waiting for me when I get my payment from Amazon.

It’s at the rate of taco money, not rent money (that’s about $350 or so a month, storage unit rental fees)…but it means that there are some people that are actually reading what I’m writing. That means people care enough about what you make to spend money on it.

And as an artist, that’s probably number three or so on the validation queue. (Number two is the Hollywood deal that gives you that most beloved of all things-residuals on a massively successful TV or movie franchise that won’t die. First is a muse that you can afford to live with you on a regular basis. And the Zeroth validation-patrons that keep you in reasonable comfort as long as you’re working.)

And that, for an artist, is massive motivation. It means we can eat on a regular basis, pay our bills, maybe get medical insurance, and have the space to create more stuff.

On that note…

  • A Solist In Rome is coming along extremely quickly. I suspect that my first two books in any series are going to be the big uphill slog, as I’m still establishing the rules of where I am. This one will have Adelaide and Deborah explore Rome, learn more about parts of the magical world, make friends, and solve a problem that happened in Solist At Large.
    (And punch out a Chad. Punching out Chads is almost an obligation at this point.)
  • An Ethical Succubus is getting harder to write, because I’m just not quite getting where I want to go. Might go in the files for later, I might just pick at it when I’m needing something to do. Who knows?
  • Untitled Space Opera Novel is taking a little more effort to get going than I expected. It’s the same problem I had with my first to Last Solist novels-getting the world working right in my head before I can go out and really see what’s out there. It is also in third person, so I’ve got to get that set of voices right…but it is coming along.

And…I’m back hunting for a job again. Mom is home from the hospital (again), and I really need to have something that puts…well, puts taco and rent money in my pocket and lets me do things I would actually like to do.

More news as it comes up.

I Want to Make an Island

I got caught up today looking at the Island of Sodor (I’m not diving into the rabbit hole of Thomas The Tank Engine fandom, which seems to have some very creepy things happen, very fast…), and now…I want to make an island.

I’ve had this idea for a long time, it’s an island-British territory and still technically owned by the Crown (and trying to untangle that particular knot of ownership would probably be a trigger to a new English Civil War), at the right location off the coast of Africa that you get Hawaii-like weather on a regular basis.

Still don’t have a name for the island yet, but it’s big. Probably three times as large as Madagascar, split between an Eastern/Northern and Western/Southern lobe due to a very large and (hopefully) dead volcano. It was pretty much two separate islands for the longest time (until the late ’60s when they built an underground freeway/railway around the mountain), but the two ferry lines still run to places on the island.

It’s one of the most heavily armed areas of the Commonwealth (once again, that charter from the Crown requires them to “maintain a sufficiency of militia to defend Her/His Majesty’s territory” and the courts have ruled that means you can buy guns not rely upon the British Army), where you get near-American levels of gun ownership.

You have the statue of the founder on top of one of the bays and to his right stretches the Seven Virtues (seven forts named after Christian Virtues) and the Seven Sins (seven forts with…history…named after the Seven Deadly Sins), but they aren’t and can’t be manned by the British Army, only the Royal Marines. Also, there’s an RAF base and a Royal Navy base, but not a British Army base (that charter again…). There’s also a US Navy base on one of the bigger outlying island (a legacy of Lend-Lease), a USAF base on another (with a landing strip big enough to handle B-52s), and regular ferry runs that means you have the classic American soldier issues (“Overpaid, oversexed, and over here“) in British territory.

You have the Grand Lane, which is 260 kilometers of the single longest stretch of freeway without a single turn or curve, which has been raced on by the mad lads from Top Gear and The Grand Tour multiple times. The capital city has a Japanese expat community and area that is large enough that you could spend a weekend there and not hear English if you were careful (it also has some of the best collection of love hotels outside of Tokyo). And a forty-five minute ride on the Tube can put you firmly in territory that is more English than London.

There’s crime, of course. Organized crime, even-a delicate dance between classic British “firms,” the Yakuza, Chinese tongs and triads, and the Unofficial Rules that keeps them out of trouble with the Metropolitan Police. And how the Russian mayfia, Central African krews, and Mexican/Central American cartels are moving in and don’t give a damn about the Unofficial Rules. And the Metropolitain Police Flying Squads have no problem with very unofficial punishments of rule-breakers.

There’s oil and coal, one of the biggest nuclear plants outside of the UK, and some of the best fishing in the world.

There’s a lot of stories to be told on this island.

And if people ask me enough times, I might do more with it.

“The Winter Solist” Is UP!

My second novel is done and now it’s up and running!

The Winter Solist is the sequel to Solist At Large. Between the world building, the character studies, and explosions, I think there’s quite a bit of good story content in there.

It also leads, very directly, into the next novel, A Solist In Rome, where we get to learn more about Adelaide, Deborah (Adelaide’s newest companion), and an exploration into some of the other major factions in this world. And Rome, we get to explore Rome-both on the normal side and on the magical side.

Just as an aside…I’m running a sale on Solist At Large-$0.99 for the next 30 days. If you want to give my story a try…there will never be a better time.

This is good news, and it might earn me some real taco money…

Imperial Resolute-class Battleship

The core of the Imperial battle lines, the Resolute-class Battleship was built near the end of the Alpha Wars and fought in the last major battles of that war. This included escorting bombardment monitors to Alpha Prime, Bravo, and Charlie and defeating the remnants of the Alpha fleets. These ships would be the major combatants of the Time Of The Five Emperors, as the pretender fleets would hold onto their dreadnoughts, super-dreadnoughts, and monitors for “critical” missions.

Replaced by the Bismark-class battleship during the middle-Hegemony era, the Resolute-class would have the distinction of being the largest ship stored in the Ghost Fleet caches.

Design History

The Resolute-class was built to replace the Hood-class battleship, and like all Imperial battleships it was built around heavy defenses and beam-heavy weapons. The biggest issue was that the ship lacked the mass to mount a planned 11cm positron beam cannons, so an array of eight triple turrets carrying 9cm positron beam cannons was mounted. 

With a mass of about 75,000 tons fully loaded, the Resolute-class would back up it’s main battery with sixteen 700mm missile tubes, firing the Mk-28-ModA (and later ModB, ModC, and ModD) missiles, with extremely deep magazines. One of the biggest complaints of the class is that while its metaspace cannon has range (with a 430m accelerator tunnel), the actual discharge aperture is smaller than the Alaska-class at 40cm. This means that while engagement ranges are longer, they are not significantly longer and at most the Resolute can get two more shots versus an Alaska-class.

Like all Imperial warships, the Resolute-class mounts heavy active point defense, including counter-missiles, sixteen Rodeo-class missile decoys, and an AN/SG(E)-60 jamming system with eight “spike” jammers. The class also mounts heavy armor, initially fibersteel, but followed up with battle chrome armor in later Hegemony refits. According to Imperial naval doctrine at the time, the shields for the class are equal to 200% of the ship’s armor in the bow, dorsal, vental, port, and starboard arcs, and 150% aft.

Along with a full ECM suite, the ship mounts enhanced stealth systems with a high-grade military hypersink for IR damping and hull modifications to make it harder for active sensors to track the ship. The Resolute-class mounts a double extension VLBI array that gives the class an effective 1000/1800 meter aperture size, allowing extremely long detection ranges against even stealthed ships. One of the biggest complaints of the class was acceleration, with the ship “merely” having a 300G acceleration rate (with later Hegemony refits giving it a 320G acceleration). Slipspace speeds were kept at the 6 light years/day standard of the Imperial Navy, with six slipspace rings.

Like all capital ships, the Resolute-class carries a “light” marine battalion, with a company-sized powered armor “morgue” in the Imperial era (a full battalion “morgue” would be installed in the Hegemony era). For support in long-duration missions, the ship is fully capable of atmospheric fuel scooping and material printing (with quantum fabricators and harvesting drones installed in the Hegemony era).

As a fleet capital ship, the Resolute-class carries full fleet command facilities, including quarters and a fleet bridge for senior staff. The class had four major revisions, the first being the replacement of the earlier AN/SG(E)-60 with the AN/SG(D)-62 ECM array. The second was post-Alpha war when the 9cm positron beam cannons were replaced by 9.5cm beam cannons, giving the class slightly more “punch” at most combat ranges. The third was the conversion of earlier versions of the ship to the new Hegemony standard with antimatter reactors and quantum fabricators. The fourth and final revision was the replacement of the fibersteel armor with battle chrome armor.

Service History

The Resolute-class was a ship of the Alpha Wars and the later Time Of The Five Emperors. The biggest issue with the class was that it was under-gunned and over-armored for most of the missions it would perform. As the core of a fleet task group, the class did well, but as a “ship of the line” it was not as good as it could have been.

The class would remain in service through the Hegemony era, but replacement of the class would be soon as the Bismark-class, able now to mount 10cm positron beam cannons and having a larger metaspace cannon aperture meant that the Resolute-class would enter second-line service very quickly.

This class also has the distinction of being the largest possible ship in a Ghost Fleet cache, and only in the largest of the caches. While proposals for variants of the class- including a fleet tender-would be proposed, none would get off the drawing board.

General Characteristics

Dimensions: 510 m x 45 m x 40 m

Mass: 75,000 tons (consistent across all flights)

Power Systems:

3x Yoyodine Type 50 Gravity Fusion Reactors (Imperium Era, Flight I-IV)

3x Yoyodine Type 51 Antimatter Reactors (Hegemony Era, Flight V-VI)

3x Yoyodine Type 47-A Antimatter Reactors (Hegemony Era, Flight VII-VIII)

Propulsion Systems:

8x Q-Coils (300 G acceleration Flights I-IV, 320 G acceleration Flights V-VIII)

4x Slipspace rings (6 LY/day, Flights I-V, 6.5 LY/day Flights VI-VIII)


180 days on stored supplies, fuel scoops (Imperium Era)

180 days of antihydrogen at 90% power, theoretically unlimited material endurance (Hegemony Era)


One Class VII AI, five Class VI AIs, 35 Officers, 60 NCO, 370 Able Spacers, 300 Marines, backup bioshells and cybershells (Imperial Era)

One Class VII AI, five Class VI AIs, five Class V AIs, mixture of uploads and biological crew equaling 600 crew members, 300 Marines, backup bioshells and cybershells (Hegemony Era)


1xMetaspace Cannon, 430m accelerator tunnel with a 40cm discharge aperture.

24x9cm positron beam cannons in triple turrets (two dorsal, two ventral, two port, two starboard).

(Flight V-VIII 24×9.5cm positron beam cannons in triple turrets (two dorsal, two ventral, two port, two starboard).)

16x700mm missile tubes with gravity launchers, four arrays of four port and starboard.


Stealth Systems: Radar sheath, IR dampener w/high-grade military specification hypersink, hull form.

ECM: AN/SG(E)-60 Electronic Warfare Array, with “spike” and “strobe” jammer options.

(Flight V-VIII-AN/SG(D)-62 Electronic Warfare Array, with “spike” and “strobe” jammer options.)

AN/SG(V)-32 Electronic Warfare Array with two port and two starboard “spike” arrays.

16x Rodeo-class missile decoys, 16xMirrorball-class sensor decoys (dispensers ventral and dorsal).

Point Defense: 24 40mm xaser cannons with double-bounce gravity mirrors in independent casemate mounts.

24 20mm xaser cannons with double-bounce gravity mirrors in independent casemate mounts.

12x150mm counter-missile launchers, mounted in a quad set in the bow, pairs on the port, starboard, dorsal, and ventral.

Shields: Standard Hegemony Navigational Shields, enhanced shields to the bow.

Combat Shield Generators-200% capacity bow, dorsal, ventral, port and starboard, 150% capacity stern. (All Flights)

Armor: Fiber Steel, 11 cm maximum (Imperium Era)

Battle Chrome, 11 cm maximum (Hegemony Era)

Secondary Craft:

3xPinnance, 5xCutter, 18xType 2 Recon Drones, 10xType 3 Recon Drones (Imperium Era)

3xPinnance, 5xCutters, 8xHarvesters, 20xType 2 Recon Drones, 12xType 3 Recon Drones (Hegemony Era)

Designer Notes

The Resolute was…not the ship the Imperium wanted, in many ways. They were hoping for something with bigger guns, but were unable to mount larger positron cannons on it. There wasn’t enough hull space for more missile launchers, so they went for larger magazines. The acceleration was good, but not spectacular. Only in armor, point defense, and shields did this class succeed in what the Imperium wanted.

Based around the Battle Fleet exclusively until the Hegemony-era fleet reforms, the Resolute was average in the opinions of most Imperial officers. It did a lot of the general work of the Navy, serving as a fleet flagship and core of task forces in the Empire. The class did well, but it was never quite right and the Imperial Navy would build a successor (the Bismark-class) which did everything they wanted.

It wasn’t a bad ship, just…not quite right. It was also the largest possible ship you could find in a Ghost Fleet cache, after being retrofitted with fusion reactors and secondary improvements.

It’s Close Enough To Done That I Can See It From Here

Here’s where I am-

  • I have written nearly 130,000 words of novel. It comes out to about 298 pages in Word in 12 point Arial font.

    Which means that The Winter Solist is done. What’s next?
  • Editing and a clean-up pass. This is done by myself (I can’t afford an editor on taco money), by going through the whole book…in reverse. And it’s scary what you catch when you’re looking at your book that way…
  • Then, I get everything ready for publication. Fire up Kindle Create and put the book together. Get it up on Amazon.
  • I’m going to tempt people into reading Solist At Large by dropping the price to $0.99 for a month after I release The Winter Solist. We’ll see if that does anything.
  • I’m seriously thinking about actually doing some paid marketing for the book. Not much, but enough to maybe see if I get any returns on it (i.e. I get back at least $1.50 for ever $1 I spend in marketing). Probably Facebook marketing.
  • And, I’ve gotten the Amazon blurb written for The Winter Solist. What does the blurb look like?

Adelaide Taylor has survived her first semester at school and as a Dawn Empire Solist. She’s found her first Companion, Sayuri Suisha. Sayuri’s grandfather wants to meet his only grand-daughter’s new friend. In Japan, just before New Years. Along with that, she’s gotten a warning-one of the High Fae is hunting her and is planning to ensnare Adelaide in her schemes. 

There’s a girl in her school that has been set up as a tethered goat for Solists.

Her local and very Catholic high school is putting her into places that shouldn’t happen at a Catholic high school.

And there’s a monster eating prostitutes in Queens.

Nobody ever said being a Solist would be easy

The Winter Solist
  • Then, I’m looking for a new job. Writing A Roman Solist and a new series.
  • My goal is to get more reviews-and more sales-on my novels. Why? Because the more reviews and sales the novels have, the better the chances that Amazon’s algorithm will catch your book and get people’s attention. And that moves your book higher in their marketing queue.

    The more people that pay attention to your book, the more sales you get and around and around the mulberry bush we go.
  • I’m allowed to worry about AI writing programs, because the last few “writing jobs” that I’ve applied for have been “we want you to six other jobs and write as well.” Most of the jobs are front-facing customer support and service jobs, and that is not my exact wheelhouse.
    And I’ve tried some of these programs and I’ve gotten…wallpaper paste. Not even good wallpaper paste. Completely lacking in creativity or even any real spark of innovation.
    Might be a blog post in there, because I have this idea for a movie script and I want to get it out of my head..

Hopefully more news-and more good news-in the near future.

We Have Covers!

If I haven’t thanked Sarah Hoyt enough for the help her and her groups have given me in the process of writing, let me do it again, in big, bold letters…


She helped me out by making my first cover for Solist At Large, and now with The Winter Solist coming up, I asked if she could do a cover for me.

I was hoping for just a cover…and not only did she give me a great cover for The Winter Solist

-she gave me one for Solist At Large, which is going to get swapped with the book when The Winter Solist comes out.

My only complaint? I now wish I had written a novel that was this awesome for the cover. I’m definitely going to need to step up my writing game.

Other that that, I’m now inspired to write FASTER so I can get The Winter Solist out for publication soon.

I just want people to see the cover…

Writing Notes For This Week

In no particular order…

  • The Winter Solist is getting close to the end. I’ve gotten past the last few bits that were holding me up, I’m looing at dropping an eARC to find the last few bugs, and hopefully there will be publication soon.
  • Next up in terms of stories-
    • A Solist In Rome-this is going to be one of the “summer vacation” books. Hopefully shorter, helps to fill in the worldbuilding, and in general is a chance to explore the world. After that is going to be the fourth book (very tentatively titled Solist At The Fall), where we get to deal with African myths, the Black Chamber/SOG Manticore, and learning more of Adelaide’s history.
    • Untitled Space Isekai Story-This one has been coming along rather quickly, as I have the “high level” concept for the story done and I’m writing the outline for the first novel. It’s very much a “explore the galaxy” sort of book, with definite vibes of The Expanse, Space Viking, and starship simulator video games (i.e. mapping video game logic to “real world” logic).
      (Oh, and Visual Novel “romance” logic, with an MC that is going to avoid being an ass.)
      It definitely has a start, middle, end, and reasons why things are the way they are. And, using our main character as a modern human male, we get to have things explained (so much info dumping…) in ways that make sense.
    • An Ethical Succubus-It’s making some progress. The outline for the first book is done, so is a lot of the worldbuilding. The first five chapters have been written, and this is probably going to be both a shorter than my usual door-stoppers (seriously, The Winter Solist is going to probably end up about 140,000 words by the time I’m done…) and a lot more “naughty bits.”
      There will be on-screen sex scenes, so I’m doing research into that
    • Other Projects-I’m trying to blog more and find a new job. Shorter commute and somebody actually wanting to train me.
      Fingers crossed.

There will be more as I can get to it, including the announcement of the eARC when I have the cover done from Great Aunt Sarah

How To Save Western Comic Books with Manga

A common statement-almost a meme with me-is how this decade (the 2020s) is having a terrible resemblance to the 1970s. If you believe that history doesn’t so much repeat itself as rhyme, you can see that in the Western comic book industry today. 

There are a terrible amount of similarities between Western comic books and the American car industry and how overseas competition (ironically Japanese and South Korean) ended American dominance in its own internal market. And, one of the biggest reasons was that both American car makers and American comic book creators failed to make things that their customers wanted to buy.

When you’re making massive land-yachts in an era when gas is expensive and people want smaller cars, or if you’re selling comic books for the collector’s market with continuity snarls that goes back over fifty years and is nearly impenetrable to the casual reader…you have a problem because the majority of your market doesn’t want what you’re making

When you’re selling your product out of a dealership that the term hard sell was created for, or if you’re selling your comics in a shop full of people that are of…dubious mental and physical hygiene…would you go there unless you had to?

And, would you buy a product that you’re not really interested in-a car that will fall apart in a pile of rust in less than a year or a comic book that insults your intelligence and good taste…if somebody was offering you a viable alternative?

In both cases, it’s Japan that offered a solution. Japanese cars filled the customer niche for a small, reliable, fuel-efficient vehicle that many people needed in the 1970’s. And, Japanese manga offered people that wanted graphical stories to read the sort of stories they wanted to read in the current era.

But as the man asks, what does this have to do with the price of tea in China?

For that, we’re going to meet two people that we’re going to use as a “handle” to learn more about our audience and how to satisfy them.

A Little Ditty About Jack And Diane…

Jack and Diane are two stock characters, two personas that we use as part of the Venn diagram of characteristics when we figure out how to market to people. Call them our target audience-they have enough characteristics that if we can get them, we get most of the people that we’re selling for.

They’re both in their late teens and/or early twenties and for the most part they aren’t satisfied. Jack is like most boys and young men his age-he wants people that are inspiring. He wants a male role model that is an actual role model-someone to aspire to. Someone that might struggle, but he does succeed-and offers others a chance to succeed.

In short, he’s looking for heroes.

He’s also looking for adventure. Jack wants to discover more of the world, he wants to see a lot of new places and new concepts. He wants gear porn, he wants competence porn, because often he wonders what competence looks like.

And he’s got enough people in his life patronizing him, telling him he’s terrible and horrible. He doesn’t need those kinds of “people” in his entertainment.

Diane…is looking for something close to the same thing. She’s looking for adventure as well, but she wants romance. She wants the classic stories of boy meets girl, girl falls in love, and happily ever after. And she’s not getting that from the current run of YA novels and many of the “required” readings in school.

She wants to see people wearing beautiful clothing, she wants windy moors, delicious food, and wonderful places to live. She wants the guy with the ruffled shirt and the six-pack abs, and the fainting lady with the bodice swooning over him. And, Diane doesn’t want to be patronized. 

And, let’s face it, she wants examples of healthy romantic relationships, because without a majority of those, you can’t get the joy of transgression in unhealthy relationships. You can’t have the bitter without the full knowledge of the sweet, and she has been lacking in good sweetness.

We’ve learned about the audience. Now, how do we sell it to them?

This is where the Japanese come in, and we discover Weekly Shōnen Jump and how this model can help up sell to Jack and Diane.

Wherever You Go, There You Are

Weekly Shōnen Jump offers us a viable model for mass distribution of manga-type stories. The biggest factors for our purposes is this-

  1. Each Issue Has A LOT Of Stories In Them
    The average copy of Weekly Shōnen Jump will have any number of up to twenty two different series in them. And, if a series falters in one way or another, it can be easily replaced, so there is a great deal of competition for slots in Weekly Shōnen Jump.
  2. The Issues Are Printed As Easily As Possible
    Each issue of the magazine is printed on what looks like newspaper stock. It’s not the most expensive paper you can get, and you can’t do intricate colors and delicate shading, so what you print has to be reasonably simple. Not simplistic, but simple. Clarity is required if not demanded. If you have any colors, they must be as straightforward as possible.
  3. The Issues Are Everywhere
    According to people that have traveled to Japan, it’s not a question of trying to find a current copy of Weekly Shōnen Jump.

    It’s a question of trying to not find a current copy of Weekly Shōnen Jump.

    Unlike most comic books, copies are sold everywhere, or at least in as many places as possible. You don’t have to go and look for a copy, which makes the purchasing experience much easier.
  4. The Stories Are Either Good Or Gone
    You’d be shocked at how quickly even a prominent story done by a famous mangaka can vanish if it doesn’t find an audience. How quickly an epic plot line can be wrapped up for trade paperback/tankobon publication if there doesn’t seem to be any point to it. According to what I’ve heard, Shueisha is paranoid about readership numbers and tracks them obsessively.

-so, what does this mean for our concept?

We need to get stories into places where it’s easy to buy.

We need to get stories that people will actually read.

And we need to make sure that there’s internal competition, with numbers we can track and process. Do the stories work? If they do or don’t, why? Because with good information, we can fine-tune our stories.

This leads us to our two comic lines, and the first is….

Welcome To Marvel Earth-2301(A)

For Jack, let’s talk about this particular Marvel Earth that will be in the “boys” compilation comic. Our goal is to have twelve stories an issue, and the biggest selling point is the 

Earth-2301(A) is the Marvel Mangaverse, but with a flag. This flag, making this world Earth-2301(A) is a complete continuity reboot of the Marvel universe.

To make this very clear, we’re starting from the beginning and we’re talking about the true beginning. 

We’re going to tell a reboot of the origins of the Marvel universe, and fill up the remaining six slots with original stories. If we get more stories we want to tell in the Marvel universe, we’ll swap out other stories and run them on a every two weeks basis versus every week.

The “Marvel” stories will have a single, internal continuity that is kept under tight control. The independent stories are told separately, but there might be a little bit of connective tissue with the independent stories. Not enough to interfere if we want to keep them separate, but enough to bring them in if we can find a good place for them.

The goal is that if a story or a plotline succeeds or fails, we have the ability to quickly change tracks, replace the story for a while to let it breathe, and in general not have to grind out bad stories that would ruin the brand for extended periods of time. Since we have fifty-two issues a year to fill (maybe less, we’re not going to burn out our artists and writers…), we have a lot of content and potential plot points.

The goal of the first year of our new compilation series is a run up to a big event on the Marvel side, one where we tell the story from the perspective of the other heroes and a main compilation story. And we’ll make sure that everything is ready for trade-paperback printing under a single unified branding setup. This unified branding setup will ensure that readers can tell what exact plot line this is a part of, who the heroes are, and where in the general continuity the book is, just by looking at the spine and cover. 

The writing has to be clear that we’re fulfilling expectations. We can subvert expectations later but only in very small quantities. They might not be the greatest of all heroes, but the characters do try to be heroic and “good” people for the most part. If they fail, it’s not for lack of trying

It’s not for a lack of going out and putting in the work and the effort. 

“Sophisticated” adult audiences might sneer at that idea. And many of them do. But for our target demographic…they want to know that if they try, they might fail but failure is better than not trying.

And some of those “sophisticated” people want to see people succeed as well. Especially their heroes.

And they want to share that success. They’ll tell their friends. They’ll talk about it in positive terms online and on social media outlets. All of this gets you “buzz” and the more people that are saying good things about your stories, the more people that become interested and things go from there. You can argue all you want about pushing advertising and marketing blitzes, but word-of-mouth works and is critical.

Now that we have Jack’s story, let’s talk about Diane for a little while.

Heathcliff, It’s Me, I’m Cathy

Diane, on the other hand…well, if she picks up an issue of what Jack’s reading, it’s to see Peter Parker and his new six-pack abs.

Adventure-to most women-is the quest for love and relationships. They want a story where the pain of dealing with people-family, friends, lovers, villains and heroes-is worth it in the end. “Happily ever after” or at the very least “happily ending” is the goal of any well-written romance novel. Even a bittersweet ending for a romance novel is practical, as long as the bitter doesn’t overwhelm the sweet.

It has to center around the female protagonist(s), and these protagonists have to feel wanted in some way. Many women wonder if they are wanted, in one way or another, and reading escapist fiction that shows that they could be wanted is very important.

Large-scale continuity is a tricky question. Diane wants to read a variety of characters and stories…but not to the same extent as Jack. You could get away with something like a common location or “framing device” setup, like a woman who tells the stories of the women who come to her apartment complex or boarding house. You can even have a few sad stories…as long as there are more “happily ever after” endings than not.

But…you need to tell the stories that women want to read. They want to see a man that wants them for more than just a pretty face. They want a certain kind of depth and feeling to their characters, and they need to believe in the romantic story that they’re reading.

Once again, the art for this-with very few exceptions-can be simple but not simplistic. Those few exceptions are when we fully indulge in costume porn, because we want to see those awesome ball gowns, the great suits, the beautiful dresses. And the handsome men and lovely women wearing them.

This doesn’t mean you can’t tell other stories, but you have to fine-tune your approach to the classical desires of teenage and young adult women. Don’t crush their hopes and dreams-the world is going to try and do that without your help. Be inspiring without being saccharine, as your readers can tell the difference. Even if they don’t know exactly how…they know when you’re putting in artificial sweetener in place of the real thing.

Read the classics and…”research” your plots and scripts accordingly. Once again, you want a story that people not only enjoy reading, they want to share with their friends and people they know online. Women use social media more than men, and the more they use social media to get people’s attention, the better for all of the other stories in the book.

And finally, we cannot call this a comic book. Ever. And we must try our hardest to keep these stories from being directly associated with comic books in the opinions of customers. Why? Because “comic books” are associated in the minds of people with comic books fans and there’s a lot of women that would get turned off by “reading comic books.” Even if the stories are well done.

Call it “American shojo manga“, call it “illuminated” or “illustrated romance stories,” but be careful about the kiss-of-death that many women see “comic books” as.


It’s going to be a rough time for any creative endeavor in the United States. At the time this post was written, Hasbro Games is killing its own golden gooses, Disney is engaging in huge layoffs and consolidating various companies such as Pixar and Fox from their mostly-independent status, and Netflix is having issues with keeping subscribers.

And comic books are not unaffected by this. Marvel and DC are both making noises that they’re looking at cutting back the number of lines they’ll run, trying out webcomic-type formatting, and similar measures. 

But…there is opportunity out there for a physical comic book that works. The Kamen America series of comics has been doing extremely well on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, often making its money within the first two days of being offered. There’s people doing decently sized campaigns on Kickstarter and these are often the “classic” comic book-style of stories. With all of them having a physical product of some kind.

I don’t know if DC or Marvel themselves can handle their issues-the same way that GM and other US car makers took years to get over their issues…and still have some to deal with. But there are opportunities out there, and I’m hoping that I can make one of them work somehow.