Thursday, August 8, 2013

Skunk-Guy Goes To Camp

This past summer I had the privilege of being the guest author at Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Reading Camp.  There were three different camps conducted that met at various locations in Indiana.  I was contacted by Cleo Swager, the director of the program for at risk readers. These students struggle with reading and language, because of learning issues, or geographical relocation or having English as a second language. These children’s ages range from 8-13yrs, the perfect age range for Skunk-Guy readers, so when I was offered the chance, I jumped at it.

I didn’t know exactly what to expect when I arrived at my first camp.  I was thinking troubled readers, probably a lot of wild and unruly kids with ADHD overload.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  These kids were great.  The staff at the camp were all strong leaders and well organized, they led and directed the kids in every activity.  Within the boundaries that they established and enforced, the children were having the time of their lives.  Someone once pointed out to me that “Creativity without Boundaries is Chaos”   This was a perfect example of how boundaries made a strong positive difference in children’s lives.

One young girl came up to me, when I first arrived, and wanted to show me the bracelet that she was making.  I was told by one of the camp teachers, that the year before she was very shy and never spoke or looked at anyone, but here a year later, she was voluntarily showing me the cords she was weaving together.

When the time came to give my presentation, I explained how I dreamt up the idea of “Skunk-Guy” and we had a very lively discussion on what it is exactly that makes a Superhero; a bona- fide Superhero.  Hey, listen, there are strict ground rules and they know them.  Superheroes are a big part of our cultural mythos.

On my second and third trip I was accompanied by my 11- year- old daughter, Josette.  It proved to be a nice Father/Daughter outing, and she volunteered to don the official Skunk-Guy suit.  The kids loved it.  Although the suit has seen better days and was rather ratty in spots, to the kids it was amazing, and Josette modeled it with flair.

I read to the campers from the first” Skunk-Guy” book (Norman & The Stinking Space Goo), illustrating in an abridged telling, the origin story of how fourteen- year- old Norman Flinch became “The Stinking Stalker.”  They seemed to hang on every word.  Afterwards, many suggestions were made, as to the kind of super-villains they thought he should encounter.  They were each given an autographed copy of “Skunk-Guy’s” second book (The Sensational Slime Saga).

The staff, that I spent time with, were all warm and wonderful.  One of them even sacrificed his bed on my first visit so that I would have a place to lay my head.  I’ve been tutored in the fine art of playing “Euchre” as well. I have the greatest admiration for the number of volunteers and paid staff, who spend a week of their time, helping young kids, that are struggling with something as simple as reading.  They are reaching out to their community.  They are helping kids who come from various backgrounds, many different religious affiliations, with the cost for each child completely covered.  Their whole intent is to help kids that are struggling.  That is a prime example of being a” light to the world”.  I am very proud to have been a part of it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Something Familiar, Something Peculiar

I have all but neglected my blog. I wanted to keep this blog focused on the antics of the hero of my quirky adventure series. But, since I haven’t had the time lately to tinker with Skunk-Guy my updates have pretty well dried up. However recently I have run across several things that gave me a severe boot in the keester . Three seemingly coincidental occurrences have rattled my cage. I feel that I am on high alert to diligently guard and protect my property.

Coincidence number 1: An animated feature came out this year titled Para NORMAN. A fairly similar charter to my dear NORMAN FLINCH , both are heroes’ who deal with the strange and the weird and they both have the same name. Not to mention they are about the same age. Well this film does play off the name Paranormal and I get that, and if that alone was the only thing I would simply pass it off.

Coincidence number 2: There is a new Kid-Com premiering on Nickelodeon titled aptly Wendell and Vinnie, did you catch that “Wendell”. He is a science nerd and he appears to be the spitting image of my very own WENDELL HIGGINS. This certainly caught my attention. Now it would be vain conceit to think that the network had read my books and stole my characters. For one thing I haven’t sold that many copies and I can pretty well tell you who had purchased each one. And there are no movies producers or network executives among them.

Coincidence number 3: This is the big one. After years of tweaking and adapting the official aegis of my series the Skunk Symbol, developing the whole skunk wrapped in his own tail image, I was knocked off my chair when I came across this logo for Skunk Works. Same idea worked out a little differently.

There are enough differences to distinguish between these three projects and my stinking hero books. But it does make me realize the importance of protecting my creative property. All my books are registered with the copyright office. My biggest concern is that Skunk-Guy getting such a delayed entrance into the market may give the appearance that I am ripping off these other enterprises. But I assure you that Skunk-Guy, Norman Flinch, Wendell Higgins and the skunk symbol were all designed and created years ago long before the launch of these three doppelgangers.

I shall intensify my efforts in getting the word out and getting the Stinking Stalker the accolades he deserves. You can read along as I post my efforts here.  I suppose we could refer to this as the skunk-log.