Mark Shainblum is creating science fiction and comics
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Hi! My name is Mark Shainblum, and I am a writer. I need to write. It's as simple as that. It's not a job and it's not a hobby, it's me.

As writing end editing careers go, I can't say that I've been unsuccessful. I've worked with great collaborators, I have a small but loyal core of readers and fans, I've been told that my work influenced others to become writers and illustrators and create imaginative worlds of their own. I've even won a couple of awards. And I'm incredibly grateful for all of it.

Unfortunately, I also have some health conditions -- let's say the word, some disabilities -- that get in the way of the writing, and of earning a living in general. Those are also me.

It's taken me a long time to admit that to myself. There's a big difference between knowing you have a disability and accepting it. This Patreon is an important step in that process. 

It's not easy to do this. A little voice at the back of my head keeps whispering schnorrer, Yiddish for "moocher" or "beggar" or "moocherbeggar". For a long time, my ideal of a "real" writer was (professionally, if not stylistically) Isaac Asimov, pounding away at his multiple typewriters so fast the paper practically caught fire, churning out books like an air-popper spitting out popcorn.

But that isn't me. I write like Mark Shainblum, not like Isaac Asimov. And if you're willing and able to offer it, your support of my work would be deeply appreciated.


Let me not cause confusion. It's not like I'm starting from scratch. I have written. I do write, primarily comics, science fiction and fantasy.

I wrote and co-created Northguard and Angloman with Gabriel Morrissette. I wrote comic book adaptations of Michael Moorcock's Corum novels and Shakespeare's The Tempest for First Comics. I wrote several adventures of the classic Canadian superhero Captain Canuck in the mid-1990's (where, incidentally, I coined the use of "millennials" to refer to a distinct group of people. Fanatical metahumans planning to conquer the world to fulfill a dark prophecy, but still.)

In the early 2000's I got into the burgeoning webcomics scene with two series, Canadiana: The New Spirit of Canada with Sandy Carruthers and Jeff Alward and The Haunting of MacGrath with Jeff Alward.


A page from Canadiana: The New Spirit of Canada
Art: Sandy Carruthers and Jeff Alward

In science fiction and fantasy, I published a few short stories and novellas in On SpecIsland Dreams: Montreal Writers of the Fantastic and other markets. As co-editor, I collaborated on the Aurora Award-winning alternate history anthology Arrowdreams: An Anthology of Alternate Canadas with John Dupuis, and the prose superhero anthology Superhero Universe: Tesseracts Nineteen with Claude Lalumière. The latter may get nominated for one or more 2016 Aurora Awards, if enough people vote for it. Hint, hint


A page from The Haunting of MacGrath   Art: Jeff Alward

In non-writing but writing-related stuff, I founded and ran Matrix Comics, an independent comic book publisher, and among other things published Bernie Mireault's Mackenzie Queen and The Jam. If nothing else gets me into heaven, that will. Matrix also published John Bell's Canuck Comics, the first historical overview and bibliography of Canadian comic books.

In the mid-1990's, Canada Post issued a postage stamp featuring one of our characters from Northguard, the Quebecois superhero Fleur-de-Lys. In 2002-03, I served as president of SF Canada, the country's national association of science fiction and fantasy authors. Yes, the same year the Worldcon was in Toronto. In retrospect, not the best timing ever.


The 1995 Canadian Superhero Stamp Series, including Fleur-de-Lys

And in late 2016, I was somehow, inexplicably, what?!! inducted into the Joe Shuster Awards Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame. Question mark, question mark, exclamation point, exclamation point.

But. 

A lot of that writing and creative activity dates back a couple of decades or or more. When I was single. Before I was a dad. When I was surviving on cheap Montreal rent, frozen waffles and cans of tuna. When I could lock myself in my apartment for a week at a time until whatever I was working on was finished.

Even then it was a struggle. Some writers are prolific enough to make a full-time living from writing. Even fewer are able to make a full-time living writing nothing but fiction.

I'm not one of them.

Let's be honest, I have attention deficit disorder, compounded by depression, anxiety and dyscalcula. And not just a little bit. In the last year it got so bad I had to go on disability. I'm sorry if this is TMI, but it's relevant to the discussion, I promise.

As I said at the top, there's a big difference between knowing you've got a disability and accepting it. I've known about (and have been treated for) these conditions for many years, but always, I think, with the expectahope that some magic bullet, book, therapist, pill or meditation technique would finally come along to "cure" me. I would suddenly turn into the me I was supposed to be and instantly catch up on all those unfinished novels and comics and short stories.


Did I mention that nominations for
the Aurora Awards in the "Related Work"
category are open? Cover Art: Jason Loo



You see where this is going, right? Me am Bizarro Mark Shainblum. Me am flawed. Me no can write until fixed.

I think it's only in the last year that I've fully accepted that I can't will my way past this like Green Lantern and his power ring. Disabilities inevitably foreclose certain things, they erase some of the possible futures you might have lived in.

Me? I'm not going to earn a middle-class income from my writing alone, or any combination of writing with a reasonably well-paying day job. And at 53, after five jobs in four years and ADD and dyscalculia, it's not like employers are breaking my door down to offer me positions in middle-management.


Stress reduction. A financial cushion, so Sandy Carruthers and I can re-start Canadiana: The New Spirit of Canada as a webcomic in the next couple of months, to tell a superhero story about 2017, Canada's 150th anniversary year.

So when and if the graphic novel proposal I submitted is accepted, featuring a super top secret pop culture icon, I'll actually be able to write it without worrying that the electricity and water will be turned off before the royalty payments come in.

So my wife and I will be able to open submissions and start assembling the verbally accepted but not yet fully contracted science fiction anthology we'll be editing for 2018.

So if and when my rather surprising (for me) space opera novel proposal is accepted, with a projected due date in the early 2020's, I'll be able to take advantage of that nice, long deadline to actually hone and perfect it, instead of expending all my energy on basic survival. 


I'm oddly nervous about putting a specific number on it, for fear that it will be too high, and everyone will recoil in sticker shock. Or that I'll undersell myself again and make it too low. 

I have created levels of support anywhere from $2/month to $800/month. It's whatever you can spare, and whatever you feel comfortable with. Frankly, even a few hundred dollars (total!) a month would help. Anywhere between $1000 and $2000 total would really help reduce the overwhelming financial pressure we've been under. 


Patrons at all levels, from $2/month on up, will all receive goodies ranging from access to exclusive blog posts, to photos of me and the family engaged in various forms of geekery, to peeks at previously unpublished (and/or incomplete) stories, scripts and sketches, to exclusive digital (and digitally signed) ebooks of various works, to exclusive videos and video chats with yours truly. 

Next, a word about mail order. I know that many authors offer signed advance reader copies or regular editions of their published works to patrons at the mid- and high levels of support. Unfortunately, I just can't do this. I have learned from bitter experience that mail order and attention deficit disorder do not mix, and it just becomes another source of stress and shame when promised items do not arrive, go astray, remain in the trunk of my car for six months, etc. (You think I was kidding about how serious a problem this is? Sure, I can win literary awards, but putting a book in an envelope and getting it to the post office is like one of the trials of Hercules.) So, most of the rewards I am offering will be of the digital variety. I hope everyone is okay with that.

The specific goodies you get at different levels of support are specified in the Rewards section. Please note that they are subject to change as I get more comfortable with the Patreon platform, but changes will always be upwards and more and better, never less.


Also, just to avoid any misunderstandings down the road, this Patreon request is strictly for me personally.

I mention this only because there are longstanding plans already in place to crowdfund a Northguard Archives graphic novel, reprinting the original eight-issue run of the series in full colour.

That's a completely separate project, and the revenues raised for it would go towards production, printing and (most importantly) compensating Gabriel Morrissette and Bernie Mireault for their pre-production and colouring artistry. I just wanted to make sure that distinction was crystal clear.

That is all. Thank you!


This is not the cover of the upcoming Northguard
Archives
graphic novel, but it'll look something like this. 


Tiers
$2 or more per month
$2 or more per month 0 patrons
  • Patron-only blog-posts
$5 or more per month
$5 or more per month 0 patrons
  • Exclusive photos of me and family members engaged in random geekery
  • Plus all previous rewards
$10 or more per month
$10 or more per month 0 patrons
  • At least once per month you'll see exclusive sketches, drafts or other interesting things from my vast archive of old stuff.
  • Plus all previous rewards
$20 or more per month
$20 or more per month 0 patrons
  • At least once per month you'll get exclusive previews of new and/or previously unpublished webcomics written by me
  • Plus all previous rewards
$35 or more per month
$35 or more per month 0 of 10 patrons
  • I will write a character with your name into an upcoming comic or prose story. (Limit of 10, first come, first served)
  • Plus all previous rewards
$50 or more per month
$50 or more per month 0 patrons
  • An exclusive, digitally signed ebook edition of any work published while you are a patron.
  • Plus all previous rewards
$100 per month or more
$100 or more per month 0 patrons
  • Exclusive monthly Q&A videos answering questions or building on blog discussions from the previous month.
  • Plus all previous rewards
$500 per month or more
$500 or more per month 0 patrons
  • Exclusive live videochat calls with me, twice a year.
  • Exclusive annual, signed ebook edition of all webcomics published in the previous year.
  • Plus all previous rewards
$800 per month or more
$800 or more per month 0 patrons
  • Two exclusive writing tutorials annually over live videochat
  • Plus all previous rewards
Hi! My name is Mark Shainblum, and I am a writer. I need to write. It's as simple as that. It's not a job and it's not a hobby, it's me.

As writing end editing careers go, I can't say that I've been unsuccessful. I've worked with great collaborators, I have a small but loyal core of readers and fans, I've been told that my work influenced others to become writers and illustrators and create imaginative worlds of their own. I've even won a couple of awards. And I'm incredibly grateful for all of it.

Unfortunately, I also have some health conditions -- let's say the word, some disabilities -- that get in the way of the writing, and of earning a living in general. Those are also me.

It's taken me a long time to admit that to myself. There's a big difference between knowing you have a disability and accepting it. This Patreon is an important step in that process. 

It's not easy to do this. A little voice at the back of my head keeps whispering schnorrer, Yiddish for "moocher" or "beggar" or "moocherbeggar". For a long time, my ideal of a "real" writer was (professionally, if not stylistically) Isaac Asimov, pounding away at his multiple typewriters so fast the paper practically caught fire, churning out books like an air-popper spitting out popcorn.

But that isn't me. I write like Mark Shainblum, not like Isaac Asimov. And if you're willing and able to offer it, your support of my work would be deeply appreciated.


Let me not cause confusion. It's not like I'm starting from scratch. I have written. I do write, primarily comics, science fiction and fantasy.

I wrote and co-created Northguard and Angloman with Gabriel Morrissette. I wrote comic book adaptations of Michael Moorcock's Corum novels and Shakespeare's The Tempest for First Comics. I wrote several adventures of the classic Canadian superhero Captain Canuck in the mid-1990's (where, incidentally, I coined the use of "millennials" to refer to a distinct group of people. Fanatical metahumans planning to conquer the world to fulfill a dark prophecy, but still.)

In the early 2000's I got into the burgeoning webcomics scene with two series, Canadiana: The New Spirit of Canada with Sandy Carruthers and Jeff Alward and The Haunting of MacGrath with Jeff Alward.


A page from Canadiana: The New Spirit of Canada
Art: Sandy Carruthers and Jeff Alward

In science fiction and fantasy, I published a few short stories and novellas in On SpecIsland Dreams: Montreal Writers of the Fantastic and other markets. As co-editor, I collaborated on the Aurora Award-winning alternate history anthology Arrowdreams: An Anthology of Alternate Canadas with John Dupuis, and the prose superhero anthology Superhero Universe: Tesseracts Nineteen with Claude Lalumière. The latter may get nominated for one or more 2016 Aurora Awards, if enough people vote for it. Hint, hint


A page from The Haunting of MacGrath   Art: Jeff Alward

In non-writing but writing-related stuff, I founded and ran Matrix Comics, an independent comic book publisher, and among other things published Bernie Mireault's Mackenzie Queen and The Jam. If nothing else gets me into heaven, that will. Matrix also published John Bell's Canuck Comics, the first historical overview and bibliography of Canadian comic books.

In the mid-1990's, Canada Post issued a postage stamp featuring one of our characters from Northguard, the Quebecois superhero Fleur-de-Lys. In 2002-03, I served as president of SF Canada, the country's national association of science fiction and fantasy authors. Yes, the same year the Worldcon was in Toronto. In retrospect, not the best timing ever.


The 1995 Canadian Superhero Stamp Series, including Fleur-de-Lys

And in late 2016, I was somehow, inexplicably, what?!! inducted into the Joe Shuster Awards Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame. Question mark, question mark, exclamation point, exclamation point.

But. 

A lot of that writing and creative activity dates back a couple of decades or or more. When I was single. Before I was a dad. When I was surviving on cheap Montreal rent, frozen waffles and cans of tuna. When I could lock myself in my apartment for a week at a time until whatever I was working on was finished.

Even then it was a struggle. Some writers are prolific enough to make a full-time living from writing. Even fewer are able to make a full-time living writing nothing but fiction.

I'm not one of them.

Let's be honest, I have attention deficit disorder, compounded by depression, anxiety and dyscalcula. And not just a little bit. In the last year it got so bad I had to go on disability. I'm sorry if this is TMI, but it's relevant to the discussion, I promise.

As I said at the top, there's a big difference between knowing you've got a disability and accepting it. I've known about (and have been treated for) these conditions for many years, but always, I think, with the expectahope that some magic bullet, book, therapist, pill or meditation technique would finally come along to "cure" me. I would suddenly turn into the me I was supposed to be and instantly catch up on all those unfinished novels and comics and short stories.


Did I mention that nominations for
the Aurora Awards in the "Related Work"
category are open? Cover Art: Jason Loo



You see where this is going, right? Me am Bizarro Mark Shainblum. Me am flawed. Me no can write until fixed.

I think it's only in the last year that I've fully accepted that I can't will my way past this like Green Lantern and his power ring. Disabilities inevitably foreclose certain things, they erase some of the possible futures you might have lived in.

Me? I'm not going to earn a middle-class income from my writing alone, or any combination of writing with a reasonably well-paying day job. And at 53, after five jobs in four years and ADD and dyscalculia, it's not like employers are breaking my door down to offer me positions in middle-management.


Stress reduction. A financial cushion, so Sandy Carruthers and I can re-start Canadiana: The New Spirit of Canada as a webcomic in the next couple of months, to tell a superhero story about 2017, Canada's 150th anniversary year.

So when and if the graphic novel proposal I submitted is accepted, featuring a super top secret pop culture icon, I'll actually be able to write it without worrying that the electricity and water will be turned off before the royalty payments come in.

So my wife and I will be able to open submissions and start assembling the verbally accepted but not yet fully contracted science fiction anthology we'll be editing for 2018.

So if and when my rather surprising (for me) space opera novel proposal is accepted, with a projected due date in the early 2020's, I'll be able to take advantage of that nice, long deadline to actually hone and perfect it, instead of expending all my energy on basic survival. 


I'm oddly nervous about putting a specific number on it, for fear that it will be too high, and everyone will recoil in sticker shock. Or that I'll undersell myself again and make it too low. 

I have created levels of support anywhere from $2/month to $800/month. It's whatever you can spare, and whatever you feel comfortable with. Frankly, even a few hundred dollars (total!) a month would help. Anywhere between $1000 and $2000 total would really help reduce the overwhelming financial pressure we've been under. 


Patrons at all levels, from $2/month on up, will all receive goodies ranging from access to exclusive blog posts, to photos of me and the family engaged in various forms of geekery, to peeks at previously unpublished (and/or incomplete) stories, scripts and sketches, to exclusive digital (and digitally signed) ebooks of various works, to exclusive videos and video chats with yours truly. 

Next, a word about mail order. I know that many authors offer signed advance reader copies or regular editions of their published works to patrons at the mid- and high levels of support. Unfortunately, I just can't do this. I have learned from bitter experience that mail order and attention deficit disorder do not mix, and it just becomes another source of stress and shame when promised items do not arrive, go astray, remain in the trunk of my car for six months, etc. (You think I was kidding about how serious a problem this is? Sure, I can win literary awards, but putting a book in an envelope and getting it to the post office is like one of the trials of Hercules.) So, most of the rewards I am offering will be of the digital variety. I hope everyone is okay with that.

The specific goodies you get at different levels of support are specified in the Rewards section. Please note that they are subject to change as I get more comfortable with the Patreon platform, but changes will always be upwards and more and better, never less.


Also, just to avoid any misunderstandings down the road, this Patreon request is strictly for me personally.

I mention this only because there are longstanding plans already in place to crowdfund a Northguard Archives graphic novel, reprinting the original eight-issue run of the series in full colour.

That's a completely separate project, and the revenues raised for it would go towards production, printing and (most importantly) compensating Gabriel Morrissette and Bernie Mireault for their pre-production and colouring artistry. I just wanted to make sure that distinction was crystal clear.

That is all. Thank you!


This is not the cover of the upcoming Northguard
Archives
graphic novel, but it'll look something like this. 


Recent posts by Mark Shainblum

Tiers
$2 or more per month
$2 or more per month 0 patrons
  • Patron-only blog-posts
$5 or more per month
$5 or more per month 0 patrons
  • Exclusive photos of me and family members engaged in random geekery
  • Plus all previous rewards
$10 or more per month
$10 or more per month 0 patrons
  • At least once per month you'll see exclusive sketches, drafts or other interesting things from my vast archive of old stuff.
  • Plus all previous rewards
$20 or more per month
$20 or more per month 0 patrons
  • At least once per month you'll get exclusive previews of new and/or previously unpublished webcomics written by me
  • Plus all previous rewards
$35 or more per month
$35 or more per month 0 of 10 patrons
  • I will write a character with your name into an upcoming comic or prose story. (Limit of 10, first come, first served)
  • Plus all previous rewards
$50 or more per month
$50 or more per month 0 patrons
  • An exclusive, digitally signed ebook edition of any work published while you are a patron.
  • Plus all previous rewards
$100 per month or more
$100 or more per month 0 patrons
  • Exclusive monthly Q&A videos answering questions or building on blog discussions from the previous month.
  • Plus all previous rewards
$500 per month or more
$500 or more per month 0 patrons
  • Exclusive live videochat calls with me, twice a year.
  • Exclusive annual, signed ebook edition of all webcomics published in the previous year.
  • Plus all previous rewards
$800 per month or more
$800 or more per month 0 patrons
  • Two exclusive writing tutorials annually over live videochat
  • Plus all previous rewards