Seth Ferranti - page 4

Seth Ferranti has 51 articles published.

Vader Down

in Pop Culture by

Two of the biggest comics in the world collide as STAR WARS and DARTH VADER cross over for the first time! Today, Marvel is pleased to present VADER DOWN – a blockbuster six-part crossover beginning this November! Chartbusting writers Jason Aaron (Star Wars, Thor) and Kieron Gillen (Darth Vader, Young Avengers) join forces with blockbuster artists Mike Deodato (Original Sin) and Salvador Larroca (Darth Vader) combine both ongoing Star Wars titles for a crossover in the mighty Marvel manner!

“This is a true crossover in the classic Marvel Style,” says Editor Jordan D. White. “Kicking off in the Vader Down one-shot, the story then bounces between DARTH VADER and STAR WARS, telling a story that is essential to the plotlines of both books, that takes the casts from each and smashes them together in one epic tale!”

Vader’s TIE Fighter has been shot down. Seeing this as their one, best chance to take Vader down once and for all, the Rebellion is ready to throw everything they have at him. Alone, outnumbered, and outgunned, Darth Vader now must face down the entire might of the Rebel Fleet. But the Rebels are about to learn the true unrestrained power of the Dark Side of the Force. With the Rebellion putting it all on the line, could this risky gambit cripple their forces in the fight against the Empire?

“They’ve got Vader in quite a predicament,” says Jason Aaron in an interview with “He’s grossly outnumbered and his ship has crashed on this alien landscape. Whether everybody believes they can do it or not, they know this is their best shot to capture him or kill him or whatever. When you get that shot, you’ve got to take it and send everyone you’ve got down after him.”

To defeat their greatest enemy, the Rebel Alliance will risk it all. Be there as the Star Wars: Vader Down crossover kicks off in an oversizedVADER DOWN #1 one-shot this November  and continues in the pages of STAR WARS and DARTH VADER!

Catch up on these two blockbuster hit series from the very beginning! Pre-order STAR WARS VOL. 1: SKYWALKER STRIKES and DARTH VADER VOL. 1 – on sale later this year!


Troublesome Two

in Music by

Troublesome Two – Fire Pit (Official Video) | Shot by Obscure Diamond

All this trouble got started a few years back when two rowdy kids from opposite sides of the Nebraska track crossed musical paths…

Christian “Fr!day” Freed is from Papillion, Nebraska and was raised in a rock-n-roll household, he started rapping at age 13 after leaving his first band, Krimson Blak. He made music on a crappy karaoke microphone, and if it wasn’t for his stalker-like way of pursuing Gage, he might still be cracklin’ and poppin’ today.

Gage “Lucid” Dixon also hails from Nebraska in Plattsmouth. He was born into rap. Gage was bumping beats in the crib. He started officially rapping at age 12, much to his father’s surprise and joy! His hidden talent was discovered by his dad on YouTube after a questionable occurrence involving a go-cart, and he’s been openly making a ruckus with his music ever since.

When these kids started rappin’ together, all hell broke loose! With their controversial content and fire and ice sound, these two bad boys have been banned by school districts and teenage girls’ parents everywhere. Here is The Gr1nd exclusive-

What is your Background? Give us a bit about your history, how you met, and how you found your sound?

Fr!day: I was always more in rock and metal music when I was younger. I always wanted to be in a band. So the legend goes… I met Lucid through a friend I played football with. I told him I was trying to write a song and he told me check out “GMD” hahah The first songs I made with him sucked but after a while, Troublesome Two came to life.

Lucid: I listened to rap music since I was born. NWA and many other old school rappers were what was being played around me since I was little. I met Christian through a mutual friend. Christian sent me a few texts and I almost just didn’t respond to him because he was ugly, but then I did and we progressively got better and better as we made more music.

Being young MC’s from the Omaha area, give us your perspective on the local music scene and what it’s like to be apart of it?

Fr!day: It seems like the Omaha music scene has been split up and separated for a while. That’s just how it seemed at first. We met a (Numetal?) band, Projekt Luna, and their frontman, Louie Beunrostro. Louie started One Scene One Love with some others and from there on, it’s like the music scene turned into a huge family. There’s still the guys that I don’t like though haha

Lucid: Being apart of the music scene in my opinion has it’s good and it’s bad, just like anything else. A lot of people are willing to work as a team. That’s why we’re involved with the group called “One Scene, One Love” because it brings everyone together and opens doors for everybody to work with each other. But there’s also people that will backstab you, take from you, lie to you, and other bullshit. You have to learn who’s on your side and who’s against you. To be honest I dislike about 75% of the people in this business. But it’s okay, the other 25% knows what’s up.

How do you think you stand out as artists from the rest of the scene? 

Fr!day: We stand out for sure.. Anyone will agree on that. We don’t sugar coat much. If people swing at us, we swing back a lot harder… if people show us love, we show love to them. We have our own sound, we bring our own energy and our own way of doing things. Something that only works for us.

Lucid: Well, our music itself speaks for itself. Nobody out there, not even just locally, sounds like we do. We sound like Troublesome Two. We talk about some different types of things. We are very self-aware in our music and as people, so that is the main thing that makes us stand out. Self-awareness and originality.

You guys just released a new single and video “Fire Pit.” How did the song concept come to life and what made you guys choose the song to push?

Fr!day: For the song Fire Pit, Lucid just hit me up and was like “Aye man I got this new track for you…It’s hella weird”. And to my surprise, it was actually a lot different from any other sounds we’ve made. When I heard about us doing a video with Obscure Diamond, we were kinda in a scramble to pick a song because we wanted a track that would really pop. Thanks to Obscure Diamond, the Fire Pit song AND video is a masterpiece.

Lucid: First of all the concept is us “dragging fans” to the fire pit. It has a lot to do with out album’s concept, which cannot yet be explained to the public. But it pretty much represents us even dragging the people who disliked our music into our camp and making them like us. They can hate and say whatever they want about us, but we will win them over and throw their bodies into a fire that will shit on their souls. I think it was the perfect song to release because of the attitude and sound of the song overall.

In the past you guys have handled your own video productions with much success. How was the process different to work with a production company to help make your vision come to life?

Fr!day: Doing the video with an actual production company was WAY better than doing it ourselves… Much more experience and a lot more possibilities working with them. It was all in all a real dope experience.

Lucid: Well, working with Obscure Diamond on the Fire Pit video was a hell of a lot of fun. I had a blast and the work they did on it was incredible. It’s by far our best video. The quality, effects, everything was perfect in my eyes. So working with them on this project made us look great. Big props to them for the work they put into it. They did an amazing job, and I can’t speak for them but I had a lot of fun and can’t wait to work with them more.

What do you guys hope to achieve with this video release? 

Fr!day: With this video, the goal is really to make the next step in our career. Let people know that we are hungry. Also, itd be nice to achieve a better relationship with Obscure Diamond. Build off each other and team up on a lot more projects. Stuff like that.

Lucid: I want the money, the women, the fortune and fame.

Up until this point in time, what has been the biggest milestones of your career?

Fr!day: So far, we’ve been getting a good amount of radio play on local radio stations. We’ve been on 2 tours so far, with Johnny Richter and G-Mo Skee, we’re playing a show with Kevin Gates. It seems like we’re constantly being hit with new opportunities so who knows? Our next big milestone could happen tomorrow haha

Lucid: The shows we have put on in my hometown of Plattsmout have been dope! We toured with G-Mo Skee, Johnny Richter, and have had the opportunities to get our music out there past just the Omaha area. We just keep building off small wins.

What can we expect from T2 this next year? 

Fr!day: Expect lots of punches in the face this year.. Music videos with dope visuals, some insanely energetic shows, and our album… Yeah our album is our main focus at the moment. Perfecting every detail.

Lucid: You can expect hella music, lots of videos, a new full album of our best work to date, and many live shows. You can expect greatness out of us because we will not settle for anything less than that. Our fanbase will keep growing and we will keep building off of the successes we achieve.

Check out their video





Photo Credit: Ashlee Boyce

The Ancient Ones

in Books/Pop Culture by

C.E. Allan was born in East London, England. His passion for stories started at the age of three. He was transfixed with books like James and the Giant Peach and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Television programs like Batman with Adam West. And he was completely mesmerized by movies like Clash of the Titans, Jason and the Argonauts, but his all time favorite hands down is Star Wars. That unquenchable passion made him become a writer.

His novel incorporates all the elements of the books he read growing up, making it a mix mash of fantasy elements. The book focuses on Sara Fuller. This is something twenty year old Sara Fuller quickly learns after she reunites with Niobe Freeman, after being in hiding for fourteen years. Niobe holds the secrets to a past she cannot remember and offers her the keys to a future where Sara can live the life she wants to live. When Sara inherits everything that is hers and lives the life she had always dreamt of, the unspeakable powers that turned her world upside down discover that she’s still alive. Sara discovers the dreadful truth about her parents deaths and a prophecy that will determine the very fate of the planet. Sara’s only hope of saving our world is to fulfill the inconceivable plan Niobe has set before her. Can Sara overcome her greatest fears to achieve the impossible? Can she accept the truth of her fate?

To learn more about his book and the writing process we got with C.E. Allan for this exclusive only on The Gr1nd-


What is your book about?

The Ancient Ones: Prophecy of the Ilat tells the story about a girl who has to overcome impossible obstacles to save her life and the future of the planet. The word, ‘ILAT,’ is Sumerian for the supreme one.

Is it a series or stand alone?

It’s a series.

Who are the main characters in your story?

Sara Fuller (Real name Tianna Collins), who’s the protagonist. Niobe Freeman, the person who saved Tianna from certain death, and Enki who is the chief god from Sumerian mythology.

Describe your writing style?

My writing style is narrative. How I write can be described perfectly from an excerpt from, Finders Keepers,” by Stephen King. A good novelist does not lead his characters, he follows them. A good novelist does not create events, he watches them happen and then writes down what he sees. A good novelist realizes he is a secretary , not god.

What would you compare your book to?

It’s difficult for me to compare my book to another because I can’t think of a book that it’s similar to. To me it’s like Mission Impossible meets Dragon Ball Z (without the screaming). My kids will say Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas, because both books have a kickass heroine.

Fantasy covers a wide spectrum how does your book fit in this genre?

The setting for, “TheAncient Ones,” is based in a world where the earth is made up of three alternate realms that can only be accessed through hidden portals. It is based on Sumerian mythology and Zecharia Sitchins interpretation of the first ever writings, the Sumerian tablets.  He believed that the gods of the Sumerian texts came from the planet Nibiru, which was once the tenth planet in our solar system. He believed that Nibiru was destroyed through a cataclysmic war, which also affected Pluto, and the surviving beings known as the Anunnaki or Anuna relocated to Earth.

The two main characters of the book are the hybrid offspring of the Anunnaki and they have the ability to manipulate matter and the four universal forces.

What is next for you literary wise?

I’m writing the second part to the ancient ones.

Why should someone read your book?

When I completed my book, I gave a copy to my fiancé who is super critical, my sister who is a veracious reader, and my two oldest kids. Their feedback blew me away. They loved it so much,  I couldn’t  believe their reaction. I sent copies to a few more friends. The feedback was exactly the same. It was for this reason I decided to publish. It is for this reason only I believe people should read my book.

Follow C.E. on twitter- and check out his book on amazon


The Institution

in Music by


The Institution is a new band emerging out of the San Fransisco scene and their music brings to mind the Deftones, Tool, Smashing Pumpkins and other hard hitting progressive metal acts. But they aren’t just pure aggression as singer/lead guitarist/songwriter Jay Scott brings a melodic quality to the songs that juxtaposes the power and force of metal with a more endearing vulnerability that sways listeners and teases them into believing he has crafted a nice, verbose pop song that brings to mind a kind of alt rock poetry until the pounding of Pete Markovina’s drums hits you full in the face with a tribal urgency. The rhythm is held together by bass player Sage in an mesmerizing pulse. The band was recently on a West Coast tour and are playing shows regularly. Make sure to check out their full frontal live show, which can be overpowering while at the same time quiet like the eclectic mix of the Pixies or even Nirvana. All types of elements can be heard in The Institution’s songs but judge for yourself. The links for their songs are listed here. Also check out this interview with the frontman Jay Scott and drummer Pete Markovina. This is The Gr1nd exclusive-

What was the tour like?

Jay: The first part of the west coast tour was awesome. I had a great time with my band and out new touring Van.

Pete: The tour was a lot of fun. We had places to stay but otherwise winged it a lot and learned a lot along the way. You definitely need to be in shape to be on tour.


What did it feel like to release the album?

Jay: Finally releasing Hegemony was like hearing on to the next grade. It was a much needed step in our creative progression and the 2 and a half years we put in working on it was indeed expensive; but in the end we did it just right. Yes I could have worked on it as long as Guns and Roses worked on Chinese democracy as I am an obsessive type of guy and I wanted this album to put us on the map and get us noticed. It’s a big world out there with tons of music so I thought if we came out with an amazing freshman album and were able to show our talent that it’d be a good thing for us.

Pete: Happiness, Relief. And a lot different than maybe what I imagined. It took longer than expected to finish it. But I’m really happy with the results.

How long had you been working on it?

Jay: Two and a half years in the making. It was recorded in Berkeley California at East Bay Recorders (formally San Pablo Recorders) with our great friend and sound engineer Joel “Joeleosis” Gimbel who is an amazing and talented dude. The album was mastered in Berkeley by Ken Lee.  We also had a single off the album, History Repeats Itself, mastered by Gavin Lurrson (Queens of the Stone Age “Like clockwork”).

Pete: Off and on over 2 years. A lot of learning during that as well.


How long have you guys playing together?

Jay: We have been together since 2006 and Pete and I decided to make it our life mission once we realized it’s all we really wanted to do. We started playing aggressively (a lot of shows) around San Francisco in 2011.

Describe what you think your music sounds like?

Jay: I think our music sounds like melodic and progressive rock with great lyrics on top. A sort of Alt rock poetry.

Pete: Heavy, melodic. Progressive and groove based and very soulful.


What would you compare it too?

Jay: I’d compare it to all the bands that I grew up listening to as its all little pieces of what we love.

Pete: A hybrid of some of my favorites, not a direct comparison, but influences from some of them. Heavier rock for sure.

How were the crowds reactions on tour?

Jay: People are always receptive when they’re around. The venues we play on this level vary in terms of crowds. In this world the media has basically brainwashed a lot of people into listening to ghetto music they can’t even relate to so sometimes it’s hard but we just go out and give it our best.

Pete: They were good as a whole. The amount of people varied of course but all positive feedback.


What are your plans for the next album?

Jay: We plan to start laying down some tracks with our engineer soon and we are looking towards a studio in Seattle to do so. We have a lot of new sounds on the table and we are excited to get it on.

Pete: Hoping to have a full set in fall/winter time, and toying with an EP of some of our stuff on the shelf.

How many songs that you have made it on the album?

Jay: On Hegemony we have 9 songs and 13 tracks total.


What bands or musicians have inspired you guys?

Jay: For me it started with The Doors, then Guns and Roses and Ozzy, then all the great stuff that came out of Seattle; Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice N Chains. Then Deftones and Tool, Chevelle.

Pete: Deftones, Tool, Pink Floyd, the Mars Volta, Led Zeppelin and countless musicians. I take inspiration from many sources.

What is your social media contact info, website info and how can places book you and where can people listen to your music or buy your album?

Jay: Our official site is and you can find links to all our social media there. The album is available on i tunes and Amazon and CD Baby and can be streamed from just about anywhere (Spotify/Rdio/Soundcloud/etc).


What is the San Francisco music scene like?

Jay: The scene in San Francisco is a hard one. As I said before the media has destroyed the appetite for a lot of rock music as they’ve been pumping ghetto music to our children so much the kids are scared to be different from the mainstream and it’s all ghetto rap from there. But in the end it’s about cultivating your own following and crowd which we have been doing pretty aggressively.

Check out The Institution on Spotify and Soundcloud and visit their site too.

Star Clipper Comics in St. Louis

in Pop Culture by



Comics are a big industry, but besides the comic cons that tour around the nation each city has its selection of comic book shops to supply the locals with their favorite titles and newest releases. In St. Louis, Star Clipper is the premier comic book store and has been an institution for comic book buyers in the city for many years. For a long time they were located in U-City on the Delmar Loop, a historical part of town but recently they moved to downtown St. Louis, right on Washington Street, in another trendy and upwardly mobile part of the city. To find out what the deal is with the Star Clipper and its new location The Gr1nd paid the Star Clipper a visit and we spoke to their manager Keya about the store, the move and comics in general.

What is it like to work at Star Clipper?

Every day is fun, but also challenging! I get to work in a store that’s full of all my favorite things every day! Who wouldn’t love that? The challenges come with learning the content of ALL the merchandise we carry, but it’s definitely a challenge where I don’t mind being up to the task.

In St. Louis, Star Clipper is a comics institution, explain the history of the store?

Star Clipper has been a part of Saint Louis for the last 27 years. It started as a shop just West of the Loop, moved into the Loop, and finally after becoming a part of the Fantasy Books Inc family, it’s found a home in downtown STL! We love our new home and we’re thrilled to continue to see some familiar faces, as well as meeting many new ones!


Besides comics what else does Star Clipper offer?

We offer books, toys, collectibles, apparel, and what’s new to our store and we’re very excited about, a whole section dedicated to games!

What kind of regular events do you have at the store?

Every Monday night & Friday night, we have Magic the Gathering events at our store. Thursday nights are dedicated to learning a new game. Saturdays we play Pokemon and Sundays we play Shadowrun and a new card game called Weiss Schwartz! We also do a monthly book club the 2nd Thursday of every month and the library hosts Comics University every Wednesday night. Simply by attending, you can get 15% off of a purchase in our store on that same night!


What is the new location like?

It’s wonderful! We love being located near so many hotels. We get to see people from all over America who share our love of comics!

What are your favorite comics and what are the best sellers at the store?

My personal favorites are Rat Queens, Saga, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Hack/Slash, and Ms. Marvel. The store best seller without a doubt is Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples.

Check the store out at 1319 Washington Street in downtown St. Louis. Also check out their Facebook and other social media pages-



Star Wars #7 Preview

in Pop Culture by


The Secret History of Ben Kenobi Revealed in STAR WARS #7!



This July, experience a very special issue of the blockbuster Star Wars series as special guest artist Simone Bianchi (Thanos Rising, Astonishing X-Men) joins chart-topping writer Jason Aaron for a look back into the past with STAR WARS #7! Luke Skywalker has uncovered the journals of his departed mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi. Now, experience Kenobi’s harrowing accounts of days long gone by! It is a time when injustice reigned on Tattooine. As villainous scum runs rampant over the blistering sands, only a Jedi Master stands any hope of liberating the planet from the grasp of gangs, thieves and thugs. But would Ben risk everything to do what was right? Even if it meant revealing himself to those searching for his whereabouts? Find out this July as Aaron & Bianchi bring you STAR WARS #7!



Aradia’s Citizen of Earth

in Music by
Citizen of Earth

CD Review:  Citizen of Earth / Aradia

Style:  Electronic, Rock, Pop, Electronic Dance Music

Reviewed by Randy Radic

Born and raised in New York City, Aradia demonstrated a penchant for music at an early age, taking up the piano when 3-years-old.  She mastered the flute, followed by the guitar by the time she was 14.  Trained as a classical musician, she decided to give rock n’ roll a try, playing the New York club scene in Some Band.


Later, Aradia hooked up with Wirth Lawson.  They moved to Atlanta, where they formed a band called Twelfth Planet, which eventually opened for Muse.  Aradia elected to go solo, and re-located to Seattle, where she recently released her full-length album, Citizen of Earth.  The album is electronic-rock, analogous to Florence and the Machine and/or Lady Gaga.  Aradia’s voice is potent enough and distinctive enough that it may be likened to the crème de la crème of today’s female vocalists without fear of embarrassment.

Citizen of Earth is all Aradia, who sings, plays the synthesizer and piano, programs the drum machine and handles general production; which speaks volumes – both good and bad.  For half the album is excellent, while the other half comes across as amateurish and substandard, especially when juxtaposed with the sensational half.  It’s almost as if the slipshod songs are just fillers, added to round out the demands of a full album.

“Trouble,” the first track on the album, is arguably the prize, although convincing arguments could be made for either “Today” or “On Fire.”  All three tunes fit comfortably in the electronic-rock category. “Trouble” boasts dazzling harmonies and an infectious beat, while “Today” features catchy lyrics, superb phrasing and a captivating, pulsing beat dominated by the extended snare drum.  On the third track, “On Fire,” Aradia gets to show off the sheer puissance of her vocal chords, which are delightfully supercharged.

Any of the first three tracks should find a home on the Pop charts, along with “M-Class,” with its hypnotic beat and Aradia’s femme fatale crooning, demonstrating why Odysseus had to be tied to the mast of his ship.  The other two winners on the album are “Keep On,” a song that opens poorly with smarmy Oriental plucking, but then settles into a vigorously enthusiastic tempo; and “So Long,” a love song that reminds listeners of Sade.

The remaining five tracks are replete with inane lyrics, unwieldy beats and anemic arrangements.  They are unimpressive and calcified.

Despite the enervated tracks, Citizen of Earth is a wonderful album, with six dazzling tracks.  Aradia’s voice reflects an overpowering resonance that diminishes the album’s weaknesses to mere afterthoughts.

Check out the video for On Fire




Greg McKinney Go-For-It Graphic Artist By Anthony Tinsman

in Comics by


Off parole and house arrest, Greg McKinney is glad he still has his hair. He plans on attending next year’s San Diego Comic-Con International, the major convention of professionals and exhibitors, and may swing by the Alternative Press Expo, a large gathering of independent, self-publishing and alternative comic creators.

“I guess I’ll get some models from an escort service to help sell comics,” McKinney’s gravelly voice declares over the phone. “You gotta find the right ones. It’s all about fun.” He chuckled.

Greg McKinney-1

The idea is to dress-up those escorts in skintight outfits like those popularized by his characters. Namely, Barberetta, a crime noir graphic novel about a blond bombshell/gun for hire who gets mixed up with the mob and goes Denzel Washington on their ass. Press releases, interviews, and reviews have appeared on SB WIRE service, Pacific Book Review, and have been mentioned on Prison Law Blog. But marketing the book has been a challenge while on parole. “I work two shifts at a warehouse, managing catalogs and shipping and delivery. I’m finally making more than $10 an hour.” He explains. “Now I can finally do what I want without a PO breathing down my neck.” But finding time to finish his next two graphic novels, which were illustrated and inked before he left prison, is going to require all of his dedication.

McKinney’s work has a unique angle. For Barberetta he says, “The MOB has been the subject of many great narratives, but the authors are simply recycling and rewriting the concepts. Therefore my main goal was to hit readers in the face with something totally different.”

Born in Ft. Worth, where he lives today, he relocated to Fort Walton Beach, Florida and began selling drugs. He was good at it. When federal agents closed the net, McKinney was labeled the Pot-Kingpin of Northwest Florida. So he has some insight into the way things really work in the underworld. He’s taking a new direction with his life and wants to be successful in comics, but it is long hard march to the top.

Readers have accepted him. Angie Simplains was impressed in her Amazon review: “Great Job. It was a fun read with nice graphics! Keep it up :)”. Some first-time readers have expressed the same opinion. But discerning comics’ fans will immediately recognize something else that sets McKinney’s work apart.

Zombie Dope

Greg studied at Joe Kubert’s Graphic Art School where he received a degree in penciling. Reviewing some of the suggestions that Kubert marked on McKinney’s work, I asked him what he got from it. “Man, everyone has their own style. He (Kubert) taught me a lot but when you go to do something it’s different.” Ultimately, he says, you just go-for-it.

In an exclusive interview with Michael Dooley and Steven Heller, both editors and art directors of such periodicals as PRINT Magazine and New York Times Book Review, legendary artist Joe Kubert responded to, “Do you encourage experimental narrative?” He said, “Absolutely.” Which may explain the confidence McKinney presents in his work.

It is bold.

Another indication of McKinney’s attitude towards comics is divined by Kubert himself in that same interview. “What qualities do you look for when accepting students to the Joe Kubert School Of Cartoon and Graphic Art?” Kubert thought, then answered, “The most important quality necessary is a commitment, a very strong commitment on the part of the person who wants to come to the school. That this is a decision that they’ve made not only out of curiosity or because they think it might be good for them to make a living at it. It’s a matter of dedication.”

McKinney certainly has that.

The journey to graphic arts began with inspiration from the square jawed approach of Frank Miller’s Sin City. “I’ve always had ideas, writing crossed my mind but everything I see is really visual and comics were a way to get that out there. Learning how took more work than expected but this is the only medium that could tell these stories right.” He set out to create his own phantasmagoric prophesies of alternative reality: his first was Manimal Vice. Think The Island Of Doctor Moreau meets Bad Boys II.

He finished the graphic novel in his cell and started another. Building story-telling techniques and style under Kubert’s tutelage. McKinney amassed a library of rough work he planned to publish after release. And he’s doing it NOW.

Working inside prison was a catalyst for sanity throughout his ten year sentence. Each year of it he watched development in the legalization of marijuana feeling that “By the time I get out the shit will be legal everywhere.” His comics aren’t invaded by bitterness. Instead they embrace the energy and creativity that pulled him through it.

His comics got wilder and wilder.

By the time he was finished three full-length graphic novels filled his locker. The idea was to publish the most definitive one first, Barberetta. But a trilogy of jewels is ready for the crown McKinney has crafted in darkness. The next book, his best, should come out soon, Monster Force. If Elvira were still around it would be a perfect feature introduction, a reunion of classic baddies including The Wolfman, Dracula, and Frank, whose cigar chomping death wish establishes him as leader of the crew monitored by a disgraced Old Catholic Priest on a mission to stop evil decreed by the Pope.

Imagine Robert Kirkman’s Battle Pope with a major dose of ‘don’t give a fuck’ and you have a picture of McKinney’s next project.

“I’m just having fun,” McKinney explained. “If it sells, readers like it, then I did my job. But for anyone to sit down and do all this work there has to be some reward. It all begins with asking yourself am I going to enjoy this?” He has answered, yes, four times. His first mini-comic, Zombie Dope, is available on Kindle. Though readers didn’t foam at the mouth for it, it was a necessary stage in his development as an artist.

McKinney has perfected his form. His work evokes the scent of a cult-following, drafting some unforgettable scenes, like Barberetta’s self-service or the dispatch of Satan at the End of Monster Force, involving a dramatic time-bomb double-cross through a closing arcane portal, while Frank lights a cigar off the surrounding rubble-fires saying, “He wasn’t very tough.”

It’s as if an even more garish Quentin Tarantino existed in another dimension, drawing comics AND doing some time.

When his go-for-it graphics work it is magic, portraying his unique lens on reality. At his best McKinney stumbles along making you feel something. For example, on one page a hippopotamus prostitute goes down on Tony, a tiger-man detective in Manimal Vice; in the next panel we only see Tony’s broad smile, slicing the darkness like a Cheshire cat. That’s exactly how McKinney sees readers, after they experience one of his bound-to-be cult classics.

“The bottom line is I do whatever the fuck feels right,” he says.

You can contact Greg McKinney by e-mail:

Link to Barberetta:

Link to Zombie Dope:

Prison Life for Michael Dowd, Star of The Seven Five

in Pop Culture by

A lot of people watching the hit documentary, The Seven Five, might not now that its central character spent over a decade in the Bureau of Prisons for the crimes he committed as a corrupt NYPD officer. The Gr1nd got with Michael Dowd and asked him about the time he did in the feds. As a corrupt cop it couldn’t have been easy, but Dowd says he didn’t really have any problem. We also asked him about his time as a corrupt cop and what it was like working with cops who weren’t on the same type of time that he was on. Check out the exclusive-


How much time did you do?

I did 12 years and 5 month in the feds. I was in Mariana Florida all medium and high security. No breaks for the cop, fuck him. Its not like they say. I went to McKean, I went to Devens Mass. I had my little pitstops hear and there. I’m walking the joints like everyone else. 12 years and five months.

You got any prison war stories?

I actually took a rope off a guys neck in prison. I’m in Mariana Florida, I’ve bene there like two or three years and I’m running the fucking drug program down there. Right in front of my cell theres a guy hanging. Over the balcony right in front of my cell. I don’t know he’s hanging I think the guys are beating him up, throwing him up in the air. I don’t know whats going on. Four or fives guys are trying to hit him or whatever. And its a white guy I gotta go out there. Because he’s white and their spanish if I don’t show up then I’m a punk you know. I mean thats prison law so you got to step in not to be a hero but step in to show faith. So I’m gonna get in there, I’m jacked, no one is gonna push me around and I go out there and get in the middle of all and she is hanging from a buffing code from the balcony. And I was like these guys are trying to help him there not trying to fucking beat him up. Now I’m lifting him up because the spanish dudes are short and I’m taller like 6-foot-1. I push him up and take the pressure off his neck. And pull the buffing cord off his neck. We get him down we save his life. The next day I’m on suicide watch and he wakes up and look at me and he doesn’t know anything yet. He doesn’t know whats going on. He tells me yeah some guys saved my life yesterday. He doesn’t know who I am yet. And he was happy they saved his life because he told me I changed my mind on the way down. I said really thank god because I’m one of the guys that saved you.

Any problems in prison since you were an ex-cop?

Its strange to be honest my only problems came from the Italians in jail. Thats the only problems I really had. Some of the black and spanish guys would shun me but they wouldn’t be angry at me. Because they lived the streets and they knew that the cops had relationships with them. It was very odd because I got the most friendships with black guys playing chess. They were great. We got along famously and we played chess five or six hours a day. I would loose half my money but I learned the game. I passed a lot of time with them. The only guys that were really cool with me were the guys that had a snitch jacket but I didn’t care because 80 percent of the guys in there are rats and snitching on someone to lessen their time. I didn’t know that when I stepped in the joint but you learn, you learn.


What was it like being known as a corrupt cop in the NYPD?

Cops wouldn’t work with me anymore when I tried to do the right thing. Not because they’re doing the wrong thing but because they begin to wonder why are you trying to do the right thing now? Like why are you doing the right thing because you are trying to get us in trouble? Now they think you’re working for internal affairs. It became a slippery slope and once you step on that tile with your foot wet you just keep going. Its almost like I doubled down and surrendered if that makes sense.I did wrong I wanted to come out of doing wrong but I was having a difficult time coming back from that. I really want to be a good cop, I really want to. I admired the fact that I could get a pension and retire at 41 and have another life after that being the middle class guys that we are. We’re raised up to have some kind of security blanket for the rest of your life. Those were the goals that I had because I had kids and I wanted that security rather than the fast life I was living but it was so hard to get out of it.

What was it like coming out of prison after all that time?

The worst day of my life was when I came out and I was in my mothers shower. I am fucking 44 years old. Im looking out the window and theres my brothers kids. I went away and my son went to college . I shook his hand on his way to college. They let me go see him graduate from the halfway house. That was my only contact with my son. I see my brother has these two kids. Little boys and I was like I can’t fucking believe this, there like 6 and 8 at the time. And these kids idolize me but he has a pension and a wife and kids and a home. I got nothing. I’m crying like the shower isn’t wetting me and my tears are. I’m crying like I just let it go. Non stop tears balling. And I was like what did I do? I was 21 when I became a cop. Now Im 44 and I have nothing. I wanted to go back. I actually now had to go and learn a living and I didn’t know what I was going to do. It was scary.

Check out The Seven Five documentary.

A Murder in the Park

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A Murder in the Park is a documentary that examines the twists and turns that life takes. It also looks at our criminal justice system and the way it works. With his execution just 48 hours away, Anthony Porter’s life was saved by a Northwestern University journalism class. Their re-investigation of the crime for which he was convicted—a double homicide in a Chicago park—led to the discovery of the real killer, Alstory Simon, whose confession exonerated Porter. If it all sounds too good to be true, it’s because, as compellingly argued here, Porter actually is guilty, Simon is an innocent man and both are just pawns in a much larger plan. The Gr1nd got with co-director Shawn Rech to discuss the film. Check out the exclusive interview here-



How did you get involved with A Murder in the Park?

My co-director and I produced hundreds of episodes of regional television programs titled, “Crime Stoppers Case Files.” We produced them for CBS in Miami and LA, NBC/Gannett in Cleveland, and FOX in Chicago. Attorney Andy Hale, one of the sponsors of the Chicago program, asked me what was next for our careers, and we said we wanted to create a documentary – hopefully on a wrongful conviction. I believe the system is flawed and innocent people are sitting in prison, and some have been executed.  He said, “I have one that will make your head spin. It’s a DOUBLE wrongful conviction.” He explained the Porter/Simon case, and although we had initial reservations (Simon’s “confession”), we dug deeper. It became clear pretty quickly that a horrible injustice had occurred, and no one in print or television was properly telling the story. We then made a commitment to make the film, and Andy Hale joined me as Executive Producer.

How long did it take to do the research, shoot and put the film together?

Much of the research was already done by two retired federal agents, Jim Delorto and john Mazzola, and a retired Pulitzer-winning Tribune columnist named Bill Crawford.  They all saw through the 1999 “Porter was innocent” story and performed exhaustive, independent investigations. We had access to their files, as well as records from the Grand jury that dissected this case in 1999, and of course, many news stories quoting Protess, investigator Ciolino, and the students (None of them would participate in the film).

We poured through this material, confirmed it with interviews and supporting documentation, then created a rough cut of this film. The rough cut was nearly an hour longer than the current run time (91 minutes), and would have required the average viewer to take notes. We needed to simplify, so the big challenge was removing all non-essential pieces of the story. We also had to reduce the evidence we included, because though it was damning and made our point, some of it was redundant. We ended up with what i believe is a pretty compelling argument, thoroughly backed up, told in a way that keeps the viewer engaged.

The film took two and a half years from start to finish.


Did you know the ending when you started making the film or did it come out in the process?

No. We were told by everyone, including Simon’s attorneys, that he was out of options. We created the movie as a “call to action” film, hoping to create a groundswell of support for Simon after its release. What actually happened was amazing.  When we started contacting players in this case, and those who reported it (who really were players themselves), it reignited interest in the story. We showed Eric Zorn, a Protess friend and supporter, Alstory Simon’s explanation of why he confessed. We sat in his kitchen and played the video for him. The next day in the Chicago Tribune, he called for the case to be re-opened.  This emboldened Simon’s attorneys, who decided to try a new angle, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit.  This ended up being a pivotal moment, and we feel we were a part of that, despite the movie still being in production at the time.

What did the people in the Northwestern Journalism class think of the film and the whole episode?

I tried to contact all of the students. They are all very successful in law, activism and journalism. Most didn’t reply, but those who did declined.  Ciolino declined via email. Protess agreed to meet with me. We had lunch and he told me I would make him look bad no matter what, so he was out.  It sucks, because had he participated, even if he told us we were crazy, threw off his mic and stormed off, it would have made for a better movie. Conflict on screen is a good thing. We would have let him defend himself – but he just didn’t believe us. He went on to nuke me in his Huffington Post blog.


Where is Anthony Porter now?

As far as I know, he still lives in Chicago and receives help and guidance from a community activist.

What about Alstory Simon?

Simon lives in Ohio and is now working to free others he believes are wrongfully convicted. He has attorneys and investigators digging into a 45 year old case as I write this.

What were they like as people besides being the subjects of the film?

Porter was friendly enough, but generally mistrustful. He and a friend read our film’s appearance release a couple times through before signing it. He eventually got comfortable during the interview.

Simon is a very like-able guy. I’ve spent a lot of time with him promoting this film and filming it’s follow-up. He’s always smiling, spends as much time with his family as possible, and really enjoys cooking. As I said, he’s troubled by the cases of some of the men he left behind in prison, and feels they have been treated unfairly. I think after his civil suit is decided, he’ll become a vocal advocate for them.

What did making this film teach you?

It taught me that reporting, in general, has gone downhill – maybe because traditional media’s financial struggles are affecting it’s product.  I think the retired reporter Bill Crawford said it best. He said in the 1980’s the Tribune would have had a team of reporters working for months getting the real story behind Porter’s release and Northwestern’s investigation. As it turns out, not a single journalist in 1999 reported that six witnesses either saw Porter in the park or saw him pull the trigger. Why? We believe none of them even took the time to pull the original police report.  Even the students and Protess didn’t know about the six witnesses when asked by a grand jury.  A man was sent to prison for 16 years and this was the depth of their “investigation?” And reporters just appeared to reprint the “facts” they were handed by the professor.

What can someone get from watching your film?

They’ll get an inside look at how an injustice unfolded. Hopefully they’ll leave the theater satisfied with the outcome.


Without giving too much away what is the much larger plan the film alludes to in this case?

Some of our interview subjects believe the plan was to end the death penalty by exposing how flawed the system really is, inasmuch as Porter was 48 hours from being executed and would have been were it not for this Northwestern team. It was a spectacular story and drew so much attention and shock that action was taken. This case initiated the end of Illinois’ death penalty.

The crazy part?  I’m glad the death penalty was eliminated. Hale, Kimber (the co-director) and I are all strongly against the death penalty. It just shouldn’t have been at the expense of Alstory Simon sitting in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

What other work have you done?

The Crime Stoppers programs I mentioned. We’re working on several new projects, including a follow-up to this film called “Al’s Story,”  “Kickstand,” a movie about cycling in big cities, “The Birthmother,” the story of my search for my natural mother, as well as a couple scripted projects.

How involved are you in the camera, filmmaking and editing process? Explain.

Brandon Kimber, the co-director, makes all the filming decisions (shot composition, setting), I conducted most of the interviews, he edits together the big glob of footage that we start with, and he and I discuss, debate, argue and finally arm-wrestle over what stays in. I handle the business side as well.

Check out the trailer for the film here-

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