Author: Michael

Michael Terracciano loves comic books, superheroes, outer space, and telling stories. His friends call him "Mookie." He spent the last ten years as the author and artist of the fantasy webcomic, "Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire." He enjoys spending time with his wife and their three cats. His favorite planet is Jupiter because it's awesome. He wants having superpowers to be fun again, and for this to be a universe you want to escape to, not from. He hopes you enjoy reading Star Power.

A Look Back, and A Look Ahead.

STAR POWER came to its conclusion with yesterday’s update. I have a lot of feelings about it. Mostly good feelings, some sad feelings, but they mix into an overall sense of pride for what we did over the past seven years.

Obviously I’m sad that it’s over. I had a few more stories I could have told, but this comic was never about me. It was about us. STAR POWER was the result of my collaboration with Garth, how our ideas changed after the back-and-forth of editing, and how our working relationship evolved. I could never imagine working on this comic either by myself or with anyone else.

But I confidently look back over these past seven years with a feeling of great accomplishment. Not only did my partnership with Garth last nearly a decade, but we persevered in the oversaturated superhero genre. We didn’t try to deconstruct the nature of superheroes or drop a twist that turned the entire setting on its head. We made a classic sci-fi superhero space adventure for seven years, always on our own terms, and for no other reason than we loved the genre. We never envisioned STAR POWER as a stepping-stone or a way to break in to that lucrative mainstream superhero market. We did this because we wanted to, and we did it our way for a long time. I can go to my grave with that achievement.

STAR POWER has been an amazing experience for me. I hope you folks have enjoyed the ride as well, because you’re the reason this was so much fun.

What am I up to now? In case you missed the announcement, I started a sequel series to my original webcomic, called THE LEGACY OF DOMINIC DEEGAN. It began updating in July 2019, and has been steadily updating on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule since then. A new page posted yesterday, and another new one will post tomorrow. It’s got its own Patreon campaign and everything. Check it out, if you like. I’d like it if you did.

As you can see, this isn’t goodbye. This is going forward and facing our future. We hope you come along for a new ride with us.

Thank you all for everything, always.

Emergency Camping Trip.

I’m taking an emergency camping trip next week.

It’s not going to be a deep-into-the-woods excursion. I’m not going to be isolated atop a mountain or beside a roaring river. I’m not even going very far. I’m going to a family-oriented campground in a town about thirty minutes from where I live. I’ll be renting a 12ft x 12ft single-room cabin beside numerous other campsites. This isn’t going to be fancy or even very scenic, but it’s pretty necessary at this point.

At four months in to this quarantine and counting, I’m at the end of my rope. I’ve run out of creative ways to entertain my five year old son, and I find myself snapping at him at the slightest provocation, or in worse cases no provocation at all. All our avenues of “escape,” from my backyard (which is falling into disrepair) to the usual routes where we take our walks, fill me with disdain. My wife tells me she’s “afraid to come home from work to find me in a state of aggravation.”

For lack of a better phrase, I need to get the fuck out of here.

Conventions provided time away I didn’t know I needed. Normally, I get to leave my house for a few days and “reset my system.” By the time I’m halfway through a convention weekend I’m missing my son and eager to get back to being a dad. Those weekends have all been canceled this year, so I’ve not had any opportunities to reset my system. Next week’s camping trip is genuinely an emergency solution to my increasingly frequent bad moods.

I don’t plan on doing anything or talking to anyone. I might bring a book or two, maybe a notebook to write in. I’m eager to go away for a few days, and judging by the state of things around here I think everyone will be happy to be away from me for those few days as well.

Hijacked By Unrelated Characters.

I’m one of those people who has a cast of characters in his imagination, many of whom are waiting for a chance to be put somewhere. Some of them enter and emerge with a quick turnaround, while others have been waiting “backstage” for years. Every so often one of those characters rushes to the front of the line and takes the spotlight for themselves, despite my best efforts to the contrary.

The most notable occurrence of this, for me, was when I was playing a Diviner Wizard in a 3.5E D&D game. I turned him into a career.

I’ve had pretty good control over my cast of characters these past few years. Working with Garth has kept my backstage area in check. Thanks to the very structured nature of our collaboration there have been little opportunities for a character to rush to the front of the line and steal my attention. But now as Star Power draws ever closer to its conclusion and more of my time is spent on The Legacy of Dominic Deegan, someone has rushed to the front of the line.

His name is Molos. He’s my tiefling paladin in a long-running tabletop game of the Pathfinder 1E “Hell’s Rebels” campaign module. I originally created him to be the backup muscle for the smooth-talking charmer and analytical strategist, who are meant to be the stars of the campaign. But as time passed, I began to grow fond of this “pit-born paladin” and his inner struggles, and my generous GM allowed for some moving character moments. Now, in this moment, he’s all I can think about.

But don’t worry, I have a handle on him. His story is strongly connected to an existing campaign setting owned by another company and the experiences created when my friends sit down to play our games. He’s not someone I can drag-and-drop into my work without serious modification and planning, so don’t expect a hell-born demon knight to burst through the wall here in Star Power. He probably won’t even be appearing in The Legacy of Dominic Deegan (yet). That hasn’t stopped me from drawing him a lot in my free time, and even asking my personal Patreon patrons if they want to see more of him this month.

This hasn’t happened in a long time and I’ve come to realize I’ve missed it. I don’t think Star Power has suffered because of it. The structure of my working relationship with Garth has been wonderful for my creativity, causing me to think and write in ways I’d never attempted! But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little thrilled by this old feeling.

Bad Headspace Day.

As I sit down to write today’s blog I’ve come to the end of a very bad day in my headspace. If you’re reading this today (Thursday), then this very bad headspace day happened yesterday (Wednesday). There was nothing special about this particular day in my bad headspace. It was just like all the others that I’ve experienced since this pandemic has dragged on into its fourth month. As I have nothing else to write about for today’s blog, since there’s been nothing new to talk about for four months and I’ve gone nowhere for one hundred twenty days, my rotten headspace is all I’ve got to reflect on.

These are the kinds of days where everything is terrible. I’ll find myself staring into the mirror and hating the person I see. I look back at these past four months and realize that there’s literally no end in sight to this situation. I become totally absent on days like this, doing the bare minimum to entertain my five-year-old son, who is perhaps slowly coming to realize that his dad isn’t a source of fun any more. I look at my physique, something I was once so proud of, and see it slowly regressing into a shape I once again despise, as my years of physical fitness appear to wither away despite my best efforts to stay in shape. I stare at the ceiling on these silent nights, where I stay up far later than I should in an effort to regain some selfish control over an aspect of my day. My aggravation and frustration turn both inward and outward, and I fear I am becoming increasingly unpleasant to be around.

These days suck. They really do. And there have been so many of them during these many weeks of isolation and quarantine. I try to power through them and overcome them, but they are as persistent as this global virus.

If this blog entry serves any purpose at all, I hope it helps some folks relate. If my bad headspace days are anything like yours during this pandemic, hopefully this will help you feel less alone in your struggles. If it helps to know that at least one other person is struggling through some rough days, then maybe my bad day has served a noble purpose after all.

An Attempt at Something Normal.

I’m going stir crazy. Absolutely stir crazy. If cabin fever were measured in real body temperature, mine would be alarming. I want to get out of my house. I have to leave and do something. But I don’t want to get out and do something stupid, either. As much as I want this all to be over, I want it done right… not the way it’s been done so there’s a new surge of COVID-19 cases. I’m not about to “take my chances!” and risk my health or, more importantly, the health of my family.

But this weekend the cabin fever was super bad for all of us, so I tentatively suggested going to find a beach.

I was not optimistic. I was desperate. Beaches seem to be the lowest risk activity, if the proper safety precautions are observed. The closest beach to our home is our town’s tiny lakeside beach. It’s really small. We decided to check it out, fully expecting to find it foolishly full with little to no regard for the pandemic, as so many other places have been.

I was pleasantly surprised.

There was an occupancy limit for the beach, and it was open to our town’s residents only. There were no masks on the beach itself, but everyone was staying well over six feet apart from everyone else. It helped that nearly everyone there were families with children. It felt safe, so we went to the beach.

We got out of the house. We were somewhere else, and it wasn’t a grocery store. We got out and (mostly) relaxed. It was glorious. I needed this, and badly, and I’m so glad I was able to attain some level of release in a responsible manner. We lost track of time and got mildly sunburned. It was the best thing I’d experienced in months.

I want this all to be over soon, but I don’t want to rush to its conclusion. The U.S. has done that already and it’s made things worse. I’m preparing for the increasingly likely reality of homeschooling my son through kindergarten. Thanks to irresponsible reopenings, the willful ignorance of a sizable part of our population, and the blatant incompetence of President You-Know-Fucking-Who, it looks like the U.S. will be in this pandemic for the long(er) haul.

But this past weekend, at least I got to escape to the beach. I’ll take what I can get.

ConnectiCon at a Distance!

This weekend would have been ConnectiCon, the convention that’s dearest to my heart. I’ve spoken at length about ConnectiCon for years, from its heart and character, to the strong relationships I’ve built in my life and career because of it. ConnectiCon is the hands-down highlight of my convention year, but like all other conventions in 2020 this one has been canceled thanks to COVID-19.

I’m sad but not surprised there’s no ConnectiCon this year. With the announcement of DragonCon going a similar route in August/September, this officially makes every single show we were scheduled to attend being canceled. It’s the smart and safe choice, but it makes me no less saddened.

However! If you’re one of the ConnectiCon faithful and/or still want to see some of its content, ConnectiCon@Home is happening this Saturday! Not only will they be showing recorded version of my Writing Unique Heroes & Memorable Villains talk, I’ll also be streaming a live AMA on Twitch about the Cosplay Death Match that night! Submit your questions through the website and I’ll be happy to answer them live!

2020 has been a heartbreaking year for conventions. I miss everyone so much. This would have been the tenth(!) consecutive Death Match. While I’m eager to see everyone again, I want to do it right and under the safest of conditions.

Be safe. Take care. Wear your mask. Hopefully we can all see each other again soon.

Storytelling With Others.

I began my career in webcomics as a solo creator, and once Star Power comes to an end at the conclusion of this Issue, I’ll be returning to focusing on my solo endeavors with The Legacy of Dominic Deegan. The last seven years working with Garth on Star Power has been a collaborative effort, and it’s taught me things about the creative process I would have never learned working alone. Collaborating has been an excellent exercise and I’ve been able to bring the lessons learned to another place where stories are told with others: tabletop roleplaying games.

I should note that Garth and I had an extremely successful collaboration. We rarely butted heads or had disagreements that threatened to unravel our partnership. Some collaborations are infamously destructive, but some work so well that it makes your bonds as creators and friends even stronger. The unfortunate aspect is that there are no guarantees with collaborations. Some work and some don’t, no matter how much effort both parties put into them. You just have to roll the dice and take your chances.

But let’s assume you’re lucky enough to enter in to a successful collaborative effort. What makes it work, and what keeps it working? The keys to our success were two things: clear communication and mutual respect. Garth had a say in every aspect of the script’s development, and I had a say in panel/page composition and layout. We made certain to speak openly and with respect to one another. We made certain not to become unwavering in our vision of a character design or a line of dialogue, which would have made compromise impossible. We each trusted the other’s counsel, because at the end of the day we were trying to make something we’d both be proud to have our names on.

Tabletop roleplaying games require a similar level of collaborative respect. Everyone in the game is trying to tell a story they’ll enjoy, but if you’re having a good time at the expense of others, you’re going to see your game (and maybe a few friendships) crumble. A successful RPG requires the players and the game master to practice clear communication and mutual respect. If something’s not working or making someone uncomfortable, be flexible with your vision. A change of direction is not always a punishment or a restriction. It can be an opportunity to flex your imagination in ways you never thought possible, and to explore roads you’d never otherwise travel. A collaborative effort that works will make you think in new ways and challenge you, and in overcoming those challenges you will emerge stronger.

But there remains that aspect of luck, and that’s something no one can provide reliable counsel about. Maybe it will work, or maybe it will crash and burn. You have to decide if you want to take the risk. But speaking from experience, when those dice land right and you find something that works, the results will enrich you beyond your expectations.

It’s My Birthday!

Happy birthday to me!

Happy birthday to me!

Happy birthday to oh shit I’m 41 and I didn’t expect to be spending my birthday during a global pandemic where I’ve been watching my five-year-old son for close to one hundred days and I’ve been stuck in my house because my wife’s car broke down and now she takes the one I drive to work every day so anywhere I want to go has to be within walking distance but my town is forty minutes from everywhere so it’s really just a lot of walks around the block or lengthy playtime in the backyard to keep my son entertained but thankfully he’s a good boy and my wife loves me and my family has been doing what they can to help me out from a distance so I’m thankful for that and things could be astronomically worse so I’m going to be thankful for the advantages I have during this moment in history…!

Happy birthday to me!

New Musical Acquisitions.

Father’s Day was a quiet affair this year, as will be my birthday on Thursday, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While I didn’t get the ” let Daddy sleep in this morning” treatment that I was hoping for, I did get an iTunes Gift Card. I love getting those because it means one important thing for me: new music.

So in the absence of any new or exciting things to speak about, because there’s nothing new happening with me, here are the songs I acquired with my gift card. They’re not all new songs, just new additions to my collection. Maybe give them a listen and you’ll discover some new music yourself.

“Key of Solomon” by Crypt Sermon

“Subdivisions” by Rush

“That’s My Jam” by Skindred

“Valhalleluja” by NanowaR of Steel

“Hootsforce” by Gloryhammer

“Diggy Diggy Hole” by Wind Rose

“Heavy for You” by The Heavy

“Into the West” by Annie Lennox

“A Return to the Earth Below” by Oceans of Slumber

“Borderlines” by Baroness

Some of you folks have come to trust my music recommendations over the years, and I hope some of these make their way into your own music rotations. Enjoy!

Speaking Out.

I’ve fallen out of regularly watching professional wrestling for a few months now. I grew disillusioned with the creative and business decisions of corporate wrestling, and was getting ready to return to dedicated viewership of my favorite indie promotion when COVID-19 hit, which canceled pretty much everything. My love of pro-wrestling had not waned, even though my consumption of it had.

Recently, on various social media platforms, many wrestlers have come forward to speak out about harassment and misconduct from their colleagues, using the hashtag #SpeakingOut. Many established wrestlers have been accused or implicated, and some have lost their jobs. It’s been hard to watch, as a fan, seeing ugly truths about performers I admired come to light. But I can’t imagine how hard it must be for the victims, to not only have had to endure this, but to come forward with their stories. I watched this all play out with increasing disgust, but feeling secure that my favorite indie promotion was above all that.

Except it wasn’t. Not at all. Allegations regarding the behavior of several wrestlers/trainers at Chikara-Pro broke my heart.

I’ve spoken in the past about my love for this promotion and how I greatly admired the man who ran it, from his style of in-ring storytelling to his approach to the creative process. I’d been to several Chikara-Pro shows and there was a special feel to them, an atmosphere that is only achieved when there’s a strong community behind a production. They crowned a non-binary mid-card champion. They had a woman as their grand champion (not “women’s champion,” but THE champion of the promotion). They spoke out against harassment and inappropriate behavior. Chikara-Pro felt like something special.

Then came the allegations. Then came the Chikara wrestlers who were just as shocked as I was, announcing their disassociation from the indie brand. Their sense of hurt and betrayal at a place they called home. Watching this all unfold “in real time” on social media struck me in an unexpectedly painful way. I found myself in mourning, not only for the company so many believed in but the community it represented… and ultimately betrayed.

Victims absolutely need to be listened to. Their stories need to be heard. Bad behavior can’t be swept under the rug and allowed to continue. As much as it hurt for me to watch the dissolution of a beloved promotion and the ideals it supposedly represented, the hurt experienced by its victims far exceeds anything I have ever known. My heart goes out to those who were forced to endure the pain of such predatory behavior.