The Noah and Logan Summer Tour, Part 5: Williamstown Library and Salmon Run Mall

Showing "Noah and Logan Learn to Clean" to the children at the Williamstown Library!

Showing “Noah and Logan Learn to Clean” to the children at the Williamstown Library!

Williamstown and Watertown 007

The Noah and Logan summer tour has truly been an exciting time for me.  The events I am attending are now occurring more and more frequently, making for quite a few busy days!  I appeared at two more events recently, both within days of each other.  The first was for story hour at the Williamstown Library in Williamstown, NY, and two days later, I participated alongside other authors at a local author event at the Salmon Run Mall in Watertown, NY.

The Williamstown Library story hour was held in a very nice reading room where the kids and I had plenty of space to find a good seat and enjoy the Noah and Logan stories together.  I especially enjoyed the play carpet on the floor with Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar on it.  It reminded me of how much I loved Eric Carle’s books when I was younger.  It was a very cozy room, one I would have likely stayed in to read for hours if I had the chance.  What a fun place to explore a good book in!  I would like to thank the Library’s director, Beverly W. Ripka, for providing the opportunity to visit and read my stories at their library.  It was a great morning, and I would love to share more of my stories at the Williamstown Library in the future.

Two days later, I traveled to the Salmon Run Mall in Watertown, NY, for a local author event being put on by The Reading Room, a book store located at the mall.  I was part of a group of about twenty local authors, with each of us showing our books.  The event was set up with tables in front of the bookstore; it was also close to the mall’s entrance, so the tables full of books greeted each mall visitor.  When I first entered the mall, this was the first sight I saw as well, and it made me excited to see two of my favorite things in life in great abundance: books and other authors!  I really had fun conversing with both the other authors and the mall shoppers about my stories.  They liked my mother’s illustrations very much; knowing how hard she worked on those, I am glad they continue to delight everyone who sees them.

Both of these events were very enjoyable to me.  In addition, I received some leads for other events and opportunities from my interactions with other authors and readers at these appearances, so my schedule is becoming even more full!  For instance, this coming Friday, July 31st at 10:30 A.M., I will present my Noah and Logan stories at the Oswego City Library at 140 E. Second St., Oswego, NY, for their children’s hour.  I’ll let you know what else is coming up on my website, www.benjaminkmkellogg.com, as well as my Facebook pages, then give you my thoughts on my appearances here.  Stay tuned, and keep reading!

The Noah and Logan Summer Tour, Part 4: Camden Public Library

Reading my opening presentation at Camden Public Library.

Reading my opening presentation at Camden Public Library.

 

Showing off Mom's illustrations for "Noah and Logan Learn to Share" at Camden Public Library.

Showing off Mom’s illustrations for “Noah and Logan Learn to Share” at Camden Public Library.

Half the summer is gone already, but the promotional tour for the Noah and Logan series is still going strong.  I hardly notice time passing, though, because I am having a grand time sharing my stories with all of you.  My latest venture was to the Camden Public Library in Camden, NY, a beautiful town which is also home to Mrs. Bates, my former speech teacher and still close friend, who did much to help me learn how to communicate well.  I was pleasantly surprised to see her in the audience for my presentation!

My visit came as part of the Library’s summer reading program; colorful posters with characters having fun reading books were everywhere in the room (My favorite was the poster with a trio of platypuses in exciting action poses; who would have thought marsupials could be so macho?).  The kids in attendance were filling out activity sheets, coloring, speaking with each other about their interests, and even reading books.  I could tell they were all very happy indeed.

When I read my Noah and Logan stories to the group, I walked back and forth in front of my audience, giving all a chance to see the illustrations my mom did for the books; I have come to view her drawings as an essential part of the e-books’ success.  Even though I took many steps as I read my books, I did not feel exhausted at all.  I was having just as much fun with the stories as my audience was!  I also shared my poem, “Autism Awareness” with the group.  This poem always seems to get a very positive reaction from everyone I share it with, and I like seeing the big smiles my poem generates on people’s faces after they hear it.

I also greatly enjoyed the brief question-and-answer session at the end of my presentation.  The audience asked some great questions about my writing and life, and I was glad to supply my perspectives for them.

I would like to thank the Camden Public Library’s librarian, Ms. Linda Frenzel, for giving me this opportunity and for helping to make the event a tremendous success.  It was a great turnout, and I was very happy to share the Noah and Logan series with everyone there.

My next stops on the Noah and Logan summer tour will be the Williamstown Public Library at 2877 County Rte. 17 in Williamstown, NY, on Wednesday, July 22, 2015, at 10:30 A.M. and the Oswego Farmer’s Market at West 1st Street in Oswego, NY, on Thursday, July 23, 2015, from 5:00 – 6:00 PM.  I hope to see you there!  Please stay tuned to this blog, my web site:  www.benjaminkmkellogg.com, and my Facebook pages to learn about other upcoming events on the tour.  Who knows, I might be coming near to you soon!

The Noah and Logan Summer Tour, Part 3: Ainsworth Memorial Library Book Sale, Oswego County Fair, and Hannibal Free Library (and My New Website!)

Sharing "Noah and Logan Learn to Clean" at the Ainsworth book sale.

Sharing “Noah and Logan Learn to Clean” at the Ainsworth book sale.

 

Reading to the children at the Oswego County Fair.

Reading to the children at the Oswego County Fair.

 

Getting on the floor with the  preschool group at the Hannibal Free Library.

Getting on the floor with the preschool group at the Hannibal Free Library.

The summer promotion tour for my Noah and Logan stories has been gathering quite a lot of steam in the past few weeks.  I cannot express in words how much I am truly enjoying sharing my stories, and now, I have a chance to share them with millions more people online.  With the help of Jim Purdy of ARISE, my mother and I have set up a new website!  If you visit www.benjaminkmkellogg.com, you can find information about me, the Noah and Logan series, how to purchase the e-books, and see a schedule of my upcoming events and appearances.  I will be adding information about newly published books to the website as I finish them, so please keep that page bookmarked.  Right now, though, I’d like to share with you some brief accounts of my three latest events.

The first event I participated in was the Ainsworth Memorial Library’s annual Book Sale put together by the Friends of the Ainsworth Library.  This year, it was held in the spacious Grange in Sandy Creek, NY.  The whole room was filled with tables adorned with books from the library’s collection as well as generous donations from people in the area.  It was really an impressive sight, especially when people started streaming in by the score to look at the books.  I shared my e-books with plenty of interested parties over the course of the two days I was there with a few in-depth conversations as well.  I also did a presentation about myself and my writing process for the Friends of the Ainsworth Library group and then read my stories to them.  I think we all enjoyed that very much.  The event had a very relaxed atmosphere, which I really liked because what could be more relaxing than partaking in a good book or two?

I was also invited to present my books at the Oswego County Fair, also held in Sandy Creek, NY.  I have fond memories of attending the Fair as a youngster, so I gladly accepted the offer.  I presented my books on two separate days along with other local authors.  To my surprise, this group also included Daniel Middleton, the Naomi ”Redflower” author I recently met at another event in the area. It was fun to catch up with Daniel and share story hour with him where we both read our books.

The last and most recent event was held at the Hannibal Free Library in Hannibal, NY.  I read my stories to a group of preschool-age children.  It was a fun group, and I think it went very well.  It also gave me some hands-on experience interacting with preschoolers!

I’ve enjoyed the events that I’ve done so far and the Noah and Logan summer tour will continue with more stops.  My next stop will be at the Camden Public Library located at 57 Second St., Camden, NY, tomorrow, July 15, at 4:30 p.m.

Please visit my new website at www.benjaminkmkellogg.com for more on my upcoming dates and appearances, as well as everything you need to know about the Noah and Logan series along with all of my future books.  Until next time, have a happy, safe summer!

The Noah and Logan Summer Tour, Part 2: Pulaski Farmer’s Market and Arts in the Park

Pulaski Farmer's Market - At the ARISE table.

Pulaski Farmer’s Market – At the ARISE table.

 

Arts in the Park, Mexico Point Park- Me next to my poster.

Arts in the Park, Mexico Point Park- Me next to my poster.

The Noah and Logan Summer Tour has been going well.  I have only been to a few places to promote the series thus far, but I’ve had favorable reactions at every stop.  I am grateful to see there is genuine interest in the series from kids, parents, teachers, librarians, and everyone in between.  My two most recent stops at the Pulaski Farmer’s Market and Mexico Point Park for the Arts in the Park event over the course of a very busy and exciting weekend continue this positive trend.  They also gave me the chance to connect and, in some cases, reconnect with some truly outstanding folks.

My first sojourn of the weekend was a return trip to Pulaski, this time to participate in the local Farmer’s Market.  Here, vendors from across the region sold foodstuffs, had some spectacular arts and crafts, and there was even a band for live music.  I shared a table with some friends and representatives from the local special needs awareness and assistance organization, ARISE; good company to keep, especially on a somewhat sunny and breezy spring afternoon.

I wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested in my books at the market.  After all, I was offering a children’s e-book series, not food or the more tangible arts and crafts that everyone else offered.  To my surprise, however, it turned out quite a few visitors stayed a while and spoke at length with me about the series.  In fact, one of the first to come to the table was a fellow author I had met at a prior engagement.  We caught up with each other and we discussed writing and publishing.  It was great to see her again and the rest of my time at the market was just as fulfilling.  I made a few connections with other groups and institutions in the area which have led to further opportunities to introduce Noah and Logan to others.

The next event I attended was Arts in the Park, a gathering of local artists held at Mexico Point Park, a truly stunning example of the area’s natural beauty.  I enjoyed introducing the series to everyone who stopped by my table and the kids seemed to enjoy reading the stories off my iPad!

I was also delighted to meet another author at the Arts event as well, a very nice man named Daniel Middleton.  He, too, has written a children’s book.  His book, Naomi ‘Redflower’: Imagine with Me, is based on a highly imaginative girl and her love of insects and other animals.  In the story, she and her family go on a tour of Central New York and she imagines encounters with a variety of local wildlife during every season of the year.  My mother and I were very impressed with Daniel’s book, so much so that we bought a copy from him that day.  His writing style is very fun to read and his illustrations are gorgeous to look at, really capturing the beauty of the CNY countryside and animal population.  I highly recommend it for anyone’s reading collection.

The events of this very busy weekend turned out to be a lot of fun.  Both engagements happened outside in pleasant weather, I met a lot of very nice people, and I was able to get the word out about my Noah and Logan series!  I even met a fellow author who has written a very cool book himself.  All in all, I think this was a great beginning leg to the Noah and Logan Summer Tour.  Keep your eyes on this blog and Facebook for further updates regarding future stops!

The Noah And Logan Summer Tour, Part 1: Pulaski Public Library and Fulton High School

Here I am with the second "Noah and Logan" book at the Pulaski Public Library for their Disability Awareness Day.  The mural on the background wall is much larger than this photo may make it seem, and it is indeed very vibrant and colorful!

Here I am with the second “Noah and Logan” book at the Pulaski Public Library for the Disability Awareness Day.

I stand next to my first "Noah and Logan" book at Fulton High School, May 2015.  The classroom has a projector, very handy for showing my book to the entire class.

I am standing next to my second “Noah and Logan” book at Fulton High School, May 2015.  I love that the classroom has a projector.  It came in very handy for showing my book to the classes.

Hi, everyone!  I’ve got some news regarding the Noah and Logan series.  First of all, the third book in the series, “Noah and Logan Tie Their Shoes,” is coming soon!  I can’t wait to introduce it to everyone!  Secondly, I am beginning a mini-summer tour of local libraries and organizations where I’ll be introducing and reading  ”Noah and Logan Learn to Clean” and “Noah and Logan Learn to Share” to audiences of kids, parents, and anyone else that is interested, and I will also discuss my life as a person with autism and being a writer.

The tour was inspired by a recent Disability Awareness Day event that I participated in at the Pulaski Public Library.   There were stations set up that helped visitors understand what it would be like to have certain disabilities by engaging them in activities designed to simulate certain aspects of diversified disabilities.

I really enjoyed discussing my life, how my books came to be, and, of course, reading my stories to the event’s attendees!  I loved being able to share my books with the children and adults this way.  I am quite comfortable with discussing my life and work with a room full of people, and also in one-on-one encounters such as those I had with the people who came to my table.  I didn’t feel anxious at all, not even with the thought of sharing so much of myself.

I took this as a great accomplishment, and discussed with my Mom the possibility of participating in more events like this.  We decided to see if other libraries and organizations in the area would be interested in letting me share my stories.  To our delight, quite a few libraries we reached out to expressed great interest in having me be part of their upcoming activities; many more than I had previously thought possible.  Many have slotted me in for spots in their summer programs, with a few others reserving my presence for next fall.  I will keep you updated both here and on my Facebook pages regarding how they turned out.

In fact, another opportunity for sharing my work came to me just this past week.  I shared my stories as well as two of my poems with two classes at the Fulton High School and fielded questions afterward.  The students and teachers seemed very interested in what I was doing.  They were very receptive to my stories and poems, asked good questions, and were a very attentive audience.  I hope the people I meet this summer will be just as enthusiastic.  Again, I was very comfortable sharing myself and my stories with these groups; by now, it feels like second nature to me.

This summer is looking very promising for meeting new readers in all sorts of places and with a third “Noah and Logan” book on the way, there will be plenty to talk about.   If you are interested in coming to one (or more!) of these events, please keep an eye on this blog and the Noah and Logan and Benjamin Kellogg Author Facebook pages for information on dates, times, and locations!

UNO and Royal Rumble

Paragon Fantasy Wrestling ArenaI turned 24 years old a few days ago, but to be quite honest, I still think of myself as 23 (and 22 feels like a long time ago).  My family and I had a little party this past weekend to celebrate.  It was a good get-together: we had some cake and ice cream, played a few hands of UNO, opened some presents, blew out a few candles, and generally had a grand old time.  The next day, I watched the WWE Royal Rumble wrestling pay-per-view with my cousin and best friend.  That show was, in a way, also a great present and a fun way to end my birthday weekend.  A lot of excitement was had by all with plenty of great stories to tell.

The UNO game was a real highlight of the party for me.  It’s a quick game to pick up and play that doesn’t require a whole lot of equipment.  My family and I have played it a lot in the past.  The interesting thing about playing this time for me, though, was figuring out new game-playing strategies for the first time.  The game’s instructions show how to play a simple five-hundred point game where numbered cards are worth the same amount as the number on them (zero to nine, to be precise), cards with words are worth twenty (Draw Two is great for you to have and play, terrible if you’re on the receiving end of it), and wilds are worth fifty (if Wild Draw Four were a military weapon, it would be either an atomic bomb or orbital laser, whichever floats your boat).   This past weekend, I started to look at UNO in a new way and to add a bit more strategy in my approach to this timeless card game, one which my family and I gainfully employed to varying success during the party.

The strategy I gleaned from basic gameplay boils down to two important principles.  The first one: Get rid of your word cards as soon as you can.  These cards are ticking time bombs ready to rain points down on you if another player empties their hand first, and at twenty or fifty points per card, they can add up all too quickly.  During the party, I saw firsthand the devastating results of having several such cards in your hand once the dust settles.  One of my uncles kept getting stuck with hundred-point hands.  After a while, though, we were all numbed from the pain from these types of hands and more often laughing at how the fickle finger of fate dealt these cards to us.  (I do find that word cards have good uses.  If you want to keep other players stuck with lots of cards in their hands, Reverse and Skip make for excellent “traffic controllers.”  The Draw Twos and Wild Draw Fours are great for this, too, but their high point value makes them very risky to keep in your hand for too long.  Be careful how you use them!)

The second principle I gleaned from our UNO games, and this one did come as a bit of a surprise to me, but it does make a good lick of sense: Track the colors!  Depending on what your opponents play/call for when playing a wild, you can get an idea of the colors of the cards in their hands and which ones they want to get rid of.  Once you know this, you can change the color on the discard pile to something they don’t have, forcing them to draw more cards.  The discard color became a serious point of contention during our play time, as it meant being able to free ourselves of a surplus of cards of a dominant color or to switch up the color to break a streak of discards from an opponent about to empty their hand.  It was almost like a boxer switching from one stance to another to confuse their opponent and make a few adjustments; catch them off-guard and then score a KO.  This was a very interesting point to me, one I will have to investigate and practice more during future UNO games.

Speaking of strategy, the one WWE used for putting together this year’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view was one my cousin, my friend, and I spoke about quite a bit while we were watching the show.  The Rumble is one of my favorite shows to watch each year, usually because it’s so hard to predict and brings a lot of surprises.  One undercard bout this year really surprised me and my viewing buddies: scientific wrestling whizzes Tyson Kidd and Cesaro pulling out a major upset victory over Kofi Kingston and Big E of the New Day faction.  It was the first match of the night and a bit of a shocker; normally, Kidd and Cesaro, the bad guys, would be booked to lose the opening contest so the audience could have a feel-good moment to start the show, so seeing them pull off a win was very unexpected.  Good job!

The WWE World Championship match between John Cena, Brock Lesnar, and Seth Rollins was likewise very delightful.  All three men did a great job of bringing intensity to this top-level contest.  Cena played his customary hero role to the hilt, Rollins was a desperate man looking to break through in a big way (I’m not a huge fan of his, but this was certainly his best match to date), and Lesnar steamrolled both opponents like the nearly unstoppable monster he is known to be.  Lesnar won the match in the end, but all three made this one worth watching.  This quickly became my favorite match of the night, and judging from the reactions of my viewing partners, the highlight of their evening as well.

The Royal Rumble Match itself, however, which came right after the world title match, was somewhat less enjoyable for us.  It started out strong for sure with some big-time returns from the likes of tag team specialist Bubba Ray Dudley (who sadly did not break any tables but did pull off a sweet 3D Driver with an assist for R-Truth standing in for the strangely absent D-Von; where did that other guy go, anyway?), WCW legend Diamond Dallas Page (who pulled off several Diamond Cutter stun maneuvers on everyone he came across; great move that ranks right up there with the DDT and RKO as my go-to moves of choice), and even the worm-chewing creepy-yet-cool Boogeyman (who didn’t seem to have any worms on him this particular evening, sad to say; anyone want to bet his favorite book is How to Eat Fried Worms?).  These special guests, as well as the regular superstars who entered, delivered a lot of great action for a few minutes and had me and my guests feeling confident that this year’s Rumble would be something worth remembering.

All that changed once Daniel Bryan was eliminated about halfway through the match.  You see, Bryan is one of our favorite wrestlers, a real crowd-pleaser who always puts on a memorable show, but who has gotten an astonishing amount of resistance from WWE’s higher-ups both behind the scenes and on camera.  Our hopes were on Bryan to mow through this year’s competition and earn the top spot at Wrestlemania, or at least to come in a close second to our other mutual top pick, Roman Reigns.  Instead, Bryan got tossed out in short order, a very disappointing result to the Philadelphia audience as well as us watching at home.  Why WWE did not let Bryan compete longer than he did, or at least make it to the final four remaining contestants before getting eliminated, I would surely like to know.  After numerous years of following D-Bry, we wanted to see him go far, not trip over a stone miles before the finish line.

After Bryan’s unexpected exit, almost all the energy was sucked out of the match.  I mean no disrespect to the other guys who stayed in the match after Bryan left, but his removal was a sore point not easily healed.   Roman Reigns, of course, won the bout, but the Philly crowd and us home viewers were still a bit too numbed to truly accept him as the next big kahuna of the WWE landscape.  Granted, he entered the Rumble well after Bryan left, but, in my opinion, D-Bry’s is one of the hardest acts to follow in wrestling today.  Reigns did win the match in an impressive fashion by tossing out both Big Show and Kane at the same time (they’re both huge men, so lifting them both up and over the top rope in one fell swoop is an awesome feat indeed).  He also got a big-time assist from his close cousin the Rock (yes, that Rock, the star of all those movies and a legit legend of the squared circle) in fending off a post-match attack from a still-vengeful Show and Kane.  However, because Roman’s ascent came at Daniel Bryan’s expense, neither the crowd nor me and my viewing buddies could really accept the result on that particular night.  I’ve had some time to think about it since then, and I am now willing to accept Roman’s position as WWE’s top good guy if he is ready to fill it.  I have to admit, though, that until this point, I had still been on the fence about whether Roman could ever live up to the hype.  I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and hope for the best.

After all was said and done, I’d have to say my 24th birthday was well celebrated!  I’m looking forward to how 2015 plays out for me. I’m still working hard on my various writing projects and will be sharing news on them, as well as anything else I do/come across, with you.  Have a happy and safe new year, and I will see you in the next blog post!

A Quick Update

Hello again, everyone!  I just wanted to give you a quick update on what’s been going on in my life.  My second e-book, Noah and Logan Learn to Share, is now available for purchase for your Kindle or other device.  This one has been in the works for a long time, and I am proud to see it out in the world along with the first book in the series, Noah and Logan Learn to Clean.  At only a dollar each, they make for great digital stocking stuffers for the readers in your life.  There are more Noah and Logan stories on the way!  Please give them a look and tell me what you think of them in the comments.

In addition to Noah and Logan, I am also working on a pro wrestling novel, the origins of which can be found on this very blog.  Paragon Fantasy Wrestling: The Novel is based on the serialized saga I began in the early days of Kellog Thoughts about a fictional pro wrestling league and the men and women who compete in it.  I’ve taken some of the characters from those early posts and expanded on them quite a bit for the novel, as well as introducing some new guys and gals to the mix to keep things interesting.  I am planning on making PFW: TN into a twenty-chapter story, maybe more if I feel some parts need expanding on.  Right now, though, I am in the middle of chapter ten and I am satisfied with what has come so far.  I will keep you all in the know with where I am in the novel-writing process and, if everything goes well, I’ll be able to share it with you soon.

Of course, I’ll keep Kellog Thoughts going as well with new content.  During my brief time away, I have had a plethora of new ideas I wanted to bring to the blog.  Prepare for new Random Top Fives as well as my perspectives on books, TV, movies, cartoons, comics, games, and other things I feel need to be talked about.  I look forward to seeing what you have to say as well.

Thanks for coming to Kellog Thoughts.  I sincerely hope you enjoy your time here!

My New Book: “Noah and Logan Learn to Clean”

I actually like blank covers on books a little bit, too. It adds to the mystery of what's inside.

Read all about it! My new book is here.

Hi, everyone.  I know it’s been a while since my last blog post, but I’ve had a busy schedule lately.  I hope to get back to doing regular posts soon.  Before I do that, however, there is something important that has happened in my life that I would like to share with all of you.  My first children’s book, “Noah and Logan Learn to Clean,” is now available as an ebook on Amazon Kindle!

In my book, Noah and Logan, two characters based on my young cousins, work together to clean their playroom and put their favorite toys away.  My mother handled the illustrations (I think she did a great job; let me know how you feel about them in the comments).

Even though I’ve been working on my children’s book series for a few years now, seeing the first book out in the world is still quite a surreal experience for me.  I am very happy to see that it has taken flight, and I am working on other stories to follow in its footsteps.  I hope the Noah and Logan series will be of help to other children with autism.  Each book will feature one of the social and life skills I struggled with as a child, and I hope my books will help readers have an easier time with these skills than I did.

There are more Noah and Logan books coming, and I will introduce you to them here on Kellogg Thoughts as each one is published.  Let me know what you think of the series, and Learn to Clean, in the comments.

Free Comic Book Day 2014: Uncle Scrooge Review: Lucky Ducky

Waitaminit, a Don drawing "Don?" I think I just had an "Inception" moment...

Don Rosa, the creator of this issue, drawing Uncle Scrooge at MegaCon 2012. You can see some of his other Disney drawings on the wall behind him. Ain’t he just ducky?

Starting with this post, I plan on taking a comprehensive look at some of what, I think, are the more outstanding issues in my collection of free comics from this year’s Free Comic Book Day.  This is something I have wanted to write about since I started this blog, and I can’t wait to show you what each new issue has to offer. 

One of my favorite issues thus far has been the Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck comic from Disney and Fantagraphics Books.  This crazy cartoonish comic features two spectacular stories by Don Rosa, a veteran Disney comics writer and artist.  He has been the premier chronicler of the Duckberg denizens’ adventures for over two decades.  Rosa also presents an essay in this issue in which he recounts how he got started in the comics world and explains some of the interesting details regarding the two featured stories. 

(One small correction before we move on: In my previous Free Comic Book Day post, I stated that this issue featured work from Carl Barks, the legendary creator of Scrooge McDuck.  Actually, it’s just Don Rosa for this issue; the last few years have featured Barks’ work exclusively for the Free Comic Book Day issues, so I guess I just had him on the brain.  Still, Rosa is commonly viewed by Disney comics fanatics as the heir apparent to Barks’ lofty throne and, in my opinion, he has done just as much if not more to make the ducks’ escapades some of the funniest, most exciting comics ever published, so we’re still in good hands here, folks.  I do, however, apologize for my slip up.)

The FCBD 2014 US&DD (Yes indeedy!) issue contains two fun Don Rosa tales from the 1990s, a time when Disney comics were not as widely circulated here in America as they were in other parts of the world (Italy, mostly), so for many readers, me included, this is the first time these stories have been widely available.  I can safely say that both of them have been well worth the wait.  The first story, “A Matter of Some Gravity,” involves Scrooge, Donald Duck, Huey, Dewey, and Louie attempting to prevent the evil Magica De Spell from stealing Scrooge’s lucky Number One Dime.  Magica casts a spell on Scrooge and Donald which inverts their personal senses of gravity.  They are forced to walk along walls and across ceilings, as well as desperately grab at any foothold they can find, as they chase Magica down.

This story is very entertaining to me, mostly from a visual standpoint.  Don Rosa employs a clever arrangement for the comic panels: the top half of each page presents events from a “normal” point of view, while the bottom half shows things from Scrooge and Donald’s “gravitationally challenged” (Don’s own words, couldn’t have said any better myself) perspective.  These clashing perspectives were fun for me to keep track of, and I enjoyed seeing how the ducks tackled seemingly simple tasks like negotiating a steep hill and riding a bus, made nearly impossible to complete when one’s perspective has been inverted.  I’ve encountered this same kind of fun in ’60s Superman comics in which science and conventional laws of physics seemed to run amok, and I think Rosa captures much of that whimsical spirit here as well.  I also feel that this story is a fantastic introduction to the Disney duck comics and a great imagination-sparker.

The next story in this issue is a Donald Duck yarn entitled “The Sign of the Triple Distelfink.”  While it was not as entertaining for me as “Gravity,” I think it still provides some fascinating food for thought.  The main character is not the Don himself, but rather his less famous, but no less iconic, comics-based cousin, Gladstone Gander.  According to Rosa’s essay, he wrote this tale for Gladstone’s 50th anniversary, and again, I think it serves as a wonderful intro to this great character.  The gander’s claim to fame is that he has outrageously good luck: he wins sweepstakes, gets out of tough scrapes through wildly improbable coincidences, and generally goes through life with little trouble, a trait that gets on Donald’s nerves.  However, in this story, Gladstone is faced with a day of outrageously bad luck.  It’s his birthday, you see, and every year on this special day, his normally good luck is reversed. 

Donald, Scrooge and various other members of the extended duck family throw a birthday party for Gladstone, but he doesn’t want to attend because he fears his bad luck might cause undue harm to his loved ones.  He spends the majority of the story trying to avoid the party by taking a train, boat, plane, and other methods of travel to escape, but his bad luck interferes every time.  The accidents that pile up and the other characters’ reactions to Gladstone’s bad luck are what made this story stand out to me.  The “bad luck” bits did get a bit predictable, but I thought the way things were resolved in the end was quite clever.  And don’t worry, Gladstone is back to having good luck by the end; no cooked goose tonight!

The Free Comic Book Day issue of Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck is one of my favorite issues from this year.  I think it contains a healthy dose of fun and some clever stories from a sound craftsman in Don Rosa.  Even better, there’s a promo in the front of the issue which states there is a new collection of some of Rosa’s other Disney work coming in July!  I can’t wait!

There’s more fun from FCBD 2014 on the way here at Kellog Thoughts!  I do not plan on covering every single issue I collected from this year’s festivities, but I do want to feature the comics which I think are simply outstanding, so stay tuned!  Leave your thoughts on this issue, Donald, Scrooge, Disney, and comics in the comments, and happy reading!

Free Comic Book Day 2014 Preview: Introducing Our Special Guest Panels

Talk about a fall from grace...

The price for these comics has dropped down to nothing at all!

On May 3, 2014, Free Comic Book Day 2014 will be upon us.  This is one of my favorite days of the year, the time when scores of comic book stores across the country give free specially published issues to any and all interested parties.  The comics created just for this day will serve as titilating tidbits of the wider world of comics just waiting out there for curious onlookers and cheap (in this case, free!) thrills for those already indoctrinated into the world of four-color funny papers.  As is my custom every year, I plan to visit a few of my favorite local comic book stores to see what they have to offer.  I’ve looked at the online list of this year’s comics and have chosen a few stand outs in my mind that I will be looking out for.  The 2014 field looks very promising to me, to say the least.  Here’s a few of my top picks.

Archie Digest #1

Archie is one of the very first comic book characters I ever encountered and grew to love reading about.  The adventures he, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, and the rest of the residents of Riverdale have remained near and dear to me, and I am very interested in seeing what this over 180-page compilation of tales has in store for us all.  This little book will pack a lot of content and, even better, offer wholesome all-ages humor with a character who has delighted readers for nearly a century.  Definitely a good combination in my book!

DC Comics: The New 52: Future’s End

Why does this issue need two colons in its title?  I’m not sure either, but after reading the premise for this unusual offering from one of the oldest comic book publishers, I feel inclined to give it a look.  A few years ago, DC pulled the plug on its expansive comic book universe and started over from scratch.  Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the DC superhero community embarked on more grand adventures, ready to tell new stories set much earlier in their careers.  They’ve been publishing new stories for a while now, but of course, a new menace will arise in this issue to threaten them all.  A slew of evil cyborgs will be unleashed in the DC Universe’s future, and it’s up to Terry McGinnis, the new Batman of this far-off time (and star of the Batman Beyond TV show and comics, both which I think are equally awesome), to stop them.  This issue is actually the starting point for a year-long weekly series in which the robots escape from the future and travel to DC’s present to mess with the lives of our favorite heroes.  Curiouser and curiouser…

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers

Okay, kids, time for a pop quiz.  This consistently successful TV franchise based on popular Japanese superhero and monster shows has just celebrated a milestone 20th anniversary year.  What do you do to mark such a special occasion?  Apparently, the answer is to put out a new comic story featuring the first, and arguably the best, incarnation of this powerhouse property.  That’s right, the original Rangers are back in all their action-packed, acrobatic, multicolored spandex glory and ready to stop the radically rougish plans of those king and queen meanies Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa for the umpteenth time.  I’ve seen the preview art for this story, and I think it looks fantastic; true to the original show with faithful representations of these beloved characters.  As my Power Rangers-loving cousin (I probably ought to get an extra copy for him, too) would say, “It’s morphin’ time!”

Kaboom! Summer Blast

This is one of several anthology-type titles available for perusal on Free Comic Book Day, and the selection of stories and characters in it appeals greatly to my sensibilites.  A few Cartoon Network shows are represented in this collection: if you’re a fan of Adventure Time, Regular Show, or Steven Universe, then I think you’ll certainly love their being featured here.  Peanuts and Garfield are also on hand; Kaboom publishes comic book series based on both of these great newspaper comic strips, but I have yet to check them out for myself so this will be a good sampler for me.  An original character, Herobear, and a few other mystery stories round out the issue.  An ecclectic collection to be sure, but one, I feel, is worth seeking.

Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: A Matter of Some Gravity

The Disney comics put out for FCBD every year are a frequent selection for me.  They typically contain reprints of classic comics from the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s by the great Carl Barks, the “good duck artist.”  He created Scrooge McDuck and is someone I feel made Disney comic books so much fun for many generations of readers.  This year’s comic is no exception, featuring as its main tale an account of when Scrooge, Donald, and their nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie encounter the devious Magica De Spell and are struck with a gravity-altering spell.  I can’t wait to see how this one ends.  In addition, this issue has two unique covers; both variations on a gag involving Scrooge and his family walking across the cover to confront Magica.  I love looking at gimmicky covers like these.  Iwonder where the artist got the idea to draw something so amazing.

Buck Rogers

For the second year in a row, the greatest spaceman in comics, I believe (besides Flash Gordon), returns to FCBD with more crazy retr0-futuristic escapades.  I loved last year’s showcase of classic comic strips from the ’30s featuring Buck and his buddies and baddies, and this year will provide more of the same.  One thing in these strips I’m really curious about, however, is the stamp and coin-trading game presented in the last panel of each strip.  Each week, a series of stamps and coins featuring the strip’s characters would be available for readers to cut out from their newspapers.  You could trade them with your friends and check  their values each week.  Which combination of stamps and coins will prove the most profitable with this issue’s storylines?  There’s also a space rocket race between Earth and Mars as a last-panel feature in this issue as well; I think it is a really novel concept for a time when such technology was still in its infancy.  Cool beans, that’s all I’ve got to say!

Spongebob Freestyle Funnies

Yes, Spongebob Squarepants does have his own comic book, and this year, he’s a featured FCBD character!  This issue contains a number of wacky sea stories from the good people at United Plankton Pictures, the same production company that makes the Spongebob TV show.  It’s amazing to me that these TV guys could make such a high-quality comic, but from the scant few issues I’ve seen of the regular comic, they’ve succeeded numerous times!  Even better, most of the stories in this issue are written and illustrated by former contributors to Nickelodeon Magazine who worked with a variety of Nick shows and characters, Spongebob included.  The Nick Mag comics section was a favorite of mine when I was younger, and I’m super happy that it’s back in a new form, and on FCBD, no less!

Overstreet Comic Book Marketplace

FCBD is about more than just comics, you know!  It’s also a great place to release special mini-magazines about comic book collecting.  This special issue from the makers of the famous Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide contains info-packed articles about various notable anniversaries, including Batman’s 75th and the 20th of the comic book company Shi.  One other article caught my eye: an overview of comic book reboots (basically when a series starts over from issue 1) and the best ones to collect.  Outstanding stuff!

Bleeding Cool Magazine  (not my favorite title, but beggars can’t be choosers, I guess)

Bleeding Cool Magazine is another mini-mag like Comic Book Marketplace with more generic articles about collecting comics, but it does have an in-depth look at the Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie.  It also contains price guides of its own for various characters and notable titles.  I already own some price guides, but they’re a few years old.  I am curious to see if and how the prices of the comics in my collection have changed, so this one’s a must-have for me.

These are but a few of the many fantastic selections I’m interested in for Free Comic Book Day in 2014.  What do you think about this magical time?  If you’re planning on participating this year, which titles are you going to check out?  Let me know in the comments.  FCBD is a day that I always look forward to, and I think many families could have the same kind of fun that I have.  So, take your family and friends out to your local comic book stores on May 3 and see what you can find (and ask about special sales the store might have for the day; FCBD can result in some amazing bargains).  If you’re reading this after May 3, visit a comic book store anyway!  Sometimes they have left over issues they’d still like to give away, as well as some other freebies here and there.  Enjoy Free Comic Book Day everyone, and spread the word!