Moby Click

“Call me Ishmael,” the three-pawed mouse squeaked to his comrades, as they hid behind the door of the seldom-used darkroom . “I—”

“Why would we do that?” asked his second-in-command. “That’s not your name.”

“Because, Starbuck, the cat who guards this photography studio knows me well,” the leader replied. “If he knew who was coming, he would be on his guard.”

“But, he’s a cat!” Starbuck shook his head. “He’s always on his guard. I will continue to call you Ahab.”

“Call me what you wish,” spat Ahab. “But, that will be your last dissention. We must be united if we are going to capture the White Wheel.”

“What the hell is the White Wheel?”

“Cheese,” Ahab responded. “All my life, I’ve been pursuing it. I lost my right front paw to a trap, trying to get just a small chunk.”

He raised the stub leg for effect, and continued.

“The hair on my back was torn out by an alley cat who wanted the same discarded slice as me,” Ahab continued. “But, still, I continue, undeterred, in pursuit of that perfect piece of cheese: The white wheel.”

“But why is that cheese so important to you?” a small mouse cadet asked.

“All that maddens and torments me—the humans’ cunning and the cats’ physical superiority—are practically assailable in the cheese,” Ahab, the mouse, said. “To get it, I must outwit the humans’ trap and outrun the cat, proving the superiority of rodent-kind over its two greatest tormentors. It has been my focus for a long time.”

“I prefer peanut butter,” Starbuck mumbled.

“Peanut butter?” squeaked Ahab. “What use have I for peanut butter? Cheese is substantive. If I were able to acquire my wheel, I wouldn’t eat all of it. I would make sure to leave a slice on my mantle as a symbol of my victory.”

“What makes you so sure that the cheese is here in this photography studio?”
            “I’ve been scouting this location for some time,” Ahab explained. “I’ve run up and down the walls of this building since I was a small child. Every time I pass this studio, I hear people yelling, ‘Cheese!” All day long, I hear ‘Cheese!’ Sometimes, it is preceded by the word, ‘say’.  I don’t know what that word means, but the word, ‘cheese,’ is unmistakable.

“I snuck out of the wall one time while the head human was eating his lunch,” Ahab continued. “I crawled out over him on one of the boom sticks, and hid behind one of the flash cubes so he wouldn’t see me. I observed the contents of his sandwich. Sure enough, a glorious slice of cheese. I followed him for three days, and each day, more cheese. He must have access to a massive supply, maybe even the White Wheel itself.”

He paused and looked over his troops.

            “On the fourth day, I got greedy,” Ahab recalled. “The smell of the cheese overwhelmed me. The human fled the room, but the cat attacked. I wasn’t able to secure the piece of the cheese, but I did manage to get this.”

He held up a toothpick to the assembled troops.

“This stick fell from the human’s sandwich. It was strong enough to hold the whole thing together, and light enough that I can manipulate it with my one good front paw. With this stick, I will be able to trigger any trap that guards the wheel without putting myself in danger. It is your job to locate the cheese, distract the cat, and scare away the humans long enough for me to get to the cheese. If we succeed, I will give you all a piece to display in your homes so you can boast of our victory.”

Ahab edged toward the cracked opening of the darkroom door, as the mice lined up in formation behind him. As they charged into the front room of the studio, the humans were just sitting down to lunch. Upon seeing the charge of the mouse brigade, the humans fled the room, leaving scraps of meat, vegetables, and, yes, slices of cheese, scattered over the counter and floor.

In a flash, the cat jumped out from behind a sand bag right in Ahab’s path. Ahab was cornered as the great predator zoomed in on him leaving no escape route. The cat stretched, languidly, and slowly, framing the mouse in his steady gaze. Ahab inhaled deeply. The smell of the scattered cheese filled his lungs. As the cat’s paw struck at him, he thrust the toothpick into its center.

“To the last I grapple with thee,” he proclaimed. “From hell’s heart, I stab at thee.”

The cat recoiled in pain, as Ahab beat a hasty retreat. The mice all fled back into the hole in the darkroom wall pursued by the cat, who pawed the wall in frustration. The humans had long since fled the scene. The last scout that Ahab sent, who eluded the cat by creatively using some cinefoil he found lying around the photography studio, brought back the following report:

The studio is empty; the cheese stands alone.

Be sure to check out the links page to read some of my published writing, and to follow me on twitter, instagram and facebook.

Publication News: Sir TweetCivil in Of The Notifications Perilous

Sir TweetCivil is back in a new adventure: Of The Notifications Perilous. This episode, which was written by me and illustrated by Alexander Sapountzis, was recently published on Mythic Picnic’s Twitter page. You can read it here:

Check it out and let us know what you think.

Is Marvel Making A Mistake By Not Re-Issuing Truth: Red, White & Black in Conjunction With The Falcon and the Winter Soldier?

Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has received plenty of praise—and justifiably so—for addressing the issue of racism in America. It is rare for a mainstream, popular television show to deal seriously with social issues, especially within the comics or action-adventure genre (Watchmen is a notable exception as well). The show looks both at the issue from both a macro perspective, with its discussion of whether the United States is ready for a black Captain America, and a micro level, with touching personal scenes, such as the Wilson family’s struggle to get a loan. It has dealt with the issue from both a historical perspective (addressing medical experiments on black prisoners) as well as a current-events perspective (Sam’s encounter with police in Baltimore), but perhaps the most compelling storyline in this vein is the story of Isaiah Bradley, the first black Captain America.

After seeing the second episode of the series, I immediately looked up the comics in which Isaiah Bradley first appears. That research led me to the miniseries: Truth: Red, White & Black (Morales/Baker). I had not known about the series previously, which isn’t surprising since, for a while now, I’ve most of my comics as a trade paperback, and, as of right now, there is no trade paperback—or any print version of the comics—currently available.

I believe Marvel Comics is making a mistake by not releasing Truth: Red, White, & Black as a trade paperback. I can’t be the only one interested in reading it, after seeing the Isaiah Bradley character on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. I stopped by my local comics shop today and asked for it, and they said it wasn’t issued as a trade, and that obtaining the single issues would be “very expensive.” A quick search on eBay revealed I would have to spend a minimum of $100 dollars to purchase a complete, readable set. Now, there is an electronic version available on Amazon for kindle, but I prefer to read comics on paper, and I know I’m not the only one.

Given the popularity of the show, as well as the current events of the day, I would assume that a miniseries about the first black Captain America with a tie in to a current, popular show would do very well. I would pay 20 bucks to read it. I’m interested in the concept, as well as in the plot point when Bradley encounters the medical experiments the Nazi’s performed on Jews (mentioned in the plot summary). As a person of Jewish descent, that type of storyline is one that I not only find interesting, but with which I empathize. I also believe that many Americans who might not have been taught about the US government’s experiments on black prisoners have been taught about the atrocities of the holocaust, and that this story line would help them empathize as well. It seems like a great teaching opportunity, and a great choice by the creative team, one that can show how comics can be used as medium to address serious issues and affect social change.

I am not in position, however to spend 100+ dollars on a comics series, much less on one by a creative team whom I’ve never read.

The decision not to release a print edition—and not to market the digital version—is even more puzzling considering that with proper marketing, Marvel could, most likely make money of the rerelease. The story sounds compelling; it’s tied in to a popular, current show, and it deals with a character about whom many fans probably want to know more. Moreover, it would allow people to further explore the important issues raised by the show, and direct them back to the source material, get fans of comic book-based properties to read actual comic books. I can’t be the only one, right?  

What am I missing?

Go to the links page to read some of my published writing, and follow me on twitter, instagram and facebook.

Moonlight Sonnet

In honor #NationalPoetryMonth, I am, once again, sharing my Moonlight Sonnet. Enjoy.

A. A. Rubin

In honor of the rare occurrence of Halloween falling on a full moon, I present my poem, “Moonlight Sonnet,” which originally appeared in the Prompting The Moon Anthology.

When I gaze up at its dark, inky gloom,
The sky reflects my sorrows back at me–
Like the vampire’s victim, I’m fit to swoon,
Surrendering to my melancholy.
The burdens, heavy, of my working day
Weigh down on me and hang like darkening clouds,
Which hide the bright orb’s stately face away
Obscured by night’s aphotic, murky shroud.
But with the glimmer of her tender light,
A sliver of hope in my heart doth grow–
Waxing gibbous, though not yet full tonight,
Beneath Selene’s benevolent, pale glow.
Like the werewolf by her light’s transformèd,
By moonlight, my self to me’s restorèd.

If you enjoyed this sonnet, and you’d like me to write one for you, check out The Great Command Meant

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Forthwith Flies The Mage

There is a city on a hill
A beacon burning bright
A model of the great and good
A citadel of light

The enchanted forest lies below
Behind it mountains rise
Where darkness lurks inside the caves
And evil waits and hides

The city’s ringed all around
By a wall both tall and stout
It glistens brightly ‘neath the moon
And keeps the demons out

But Lo! The prince of devils stirs
He wakes, his power grows
He plots and plans his sweet revenge
The city does not know

He gathers spirits to his side
On that fateful day
And sends a sortie swiftly out
The town to make assay

The wraiths are whirling all around
Above the city night
Attendant shadows do they bring
Quelling all the light

Forthwith flies the mage
On a dragon does he ride
Forthwith flies the mage
Through the dark and dusky sky

He brings his glowing staff to bear
And trains it on the shades
The dragon flaps its massive wings
Beating back the raid

The mage he speaks the sacred words
An ancient holy spell
The wraiths they writhe beneath his might
Banished back to hell

A raucous cheer, it rises up
From the city streets
Hosannas for the hero mage
Their enemies he beat

But deep inside the caves of hell
The demon king does rage
He stamps his foot and gnashes teeth
O’er the failure of the wraiths

Sworn swords and lords he calls to him
He gathers up his hosts
A massive army to command
Of monsters, orcs and ghosts

They rise up like the living dead
And with a steady thrum
March to the heavy sound of doom
Beat out on their drums

The goodly people gather round
They cower in their homes
They pray to gods most tearfully
But fear they’re all alone

Forthwith flies the mage
Resplendent in his power
Forthwith flies the mage
In the city’s darkest hour

His dragon swoops with wings unfurled
It dives on down eftsoons
Towards the city’s citadel
Silhouetted by the moon

Into the fray, callooh callay
Like Zeus’ thunderbolt
He is the storm, Mjolnir thrown
Until he feels a jolt

His dragon’s mighty scales are pierced
A bolt has found its mark
Shot blindly by a demon’s bow
Lucky, in the dark

The dragon rears up suddenly
The mage from off him thrown
Falls straight down into the field
Through the Sturm und Drang

With magic does he slow his fall
And through the wind does float
And hovers lightly in the air
Above the city moat

Forward walks the mage
With a steady tread
Forward walks the mage
And faces the undead

He stands alone before the gate
His staff of yew in hand
The last best hope to stop the spread
Of shadow through the land

A silence settles o’er the field
The mage and the commander
Stare silently across the sward
Like figures trapped in amber

The demon lord’s in disbelief
Have they just sent but one,
Hero ‘gainst his mighty hoard?
They couldn’t be that dumb

The devil lifts his fist of doom
And gives the dread command
And thus the static silence breaks
At the falling of his hand

A volley from his archers flies
Into the sky of night
Eclipsing pale Hecate’s orb,
And quashing out the light

The arrows fall, a deadly rain
Toward the mage’s person
The people groan behind the walls
His death is all but certain

The shafts they dot the city gate
Haphazardly they land
A raucous cheer now rises up
From the demon band

But still the single figure stands
When the air does clear
The mage, unscathed for all to see
Inside a glowing sphere

Another volley is sent forth
This one all-aflame
But when the arrows reach their mark
The outcome is the same

The demon prince, the lord of hosts
Rides up and down his ranks
His soldiers shout and beat their plate
Armor loudly clanks

And all at once the horde does charge
The wizard to engage
A cavalry of nightmares filled
With berserker rage   

Forthwith flies the mage
Forward cross the field
Forthwith flies the mage
With just his staff to wield

He cuts on through the charging line
Breaking their formation
But round they move, from the flanks
In retaliation

In the deadly circle stands
The mage with staff of yew
Surrounded by his evil foes
Whose vigor is renewed

Wave after wave they fall on him
In a constant motion
But break like water on the rocks
Which jut into the ocean

A ring around the mage does form
A pile of the dead
A mound of lifeless bodies grows
Even to his head.

They battle on past midnight
And still the bodies rise
A mountain there before the mage
Reaching toward the skies

The enemy indefatigable
Can smell the mage’s blood
As he begins to tire
Drowning in the flood

The demon prince strides out perforce
To land the final blow
He gloats above the fallen mage
But little does he know

The injured dragon has returned
Seeking out his master
He swoops upon the hellish hoards
Reigning down disaster

Beneath their heavy plates of steel
The cavalry does burn
And with the fire of his breath
The tide again is turned

The mage’s vigor is renewed
By his beast’s return
Like the phoenix from the fire
His courage is reborn

He plants his staff and rises up
Trying to hide a wince
And looks into the demon’s eye
Staring down the prince

The devil wields his ancient sword
Forged in the pits of hell
He swings it wildly at the mage
With an evil yell

The mage dodges dips and weaves
Avoiding every blow
But his leg is injured
And he drags behind his toe

The demon’s rage redoubles
He sees the mage is lame
He focuses his efforts
On the limb that’s maimed

But still the mage eludes him
Though each stroke by less
He wills his foot to movement
And curses ‘neath his breath

The two contend throughout the night
The duel goes on for hours
They dig deep trenches in the dirt
Trampling all the flowers

The devils nicks him with his sword
The mage’s hand drips blood
Which falls on down, to the ground
It’s soaked up by the mud

The demon spins his spectral sword
His is the day to win
But mid swing his blade is frozen
The mage begins to grin

He’s drawn some runes in the dust
With the leg he lagged behind
Tracing symbols in the dirt
Which the demon bind

And with the sacrifice of blood
Dripping from his hand
He locks the devil to the ground
Roots him to the land

The demon’s hellish blood runs cold
He is a block of ice
The mage taps with his staff the ground
And mutters something thrice

The ground below does open up
It swallows the prince whole
He sinks on ever downward toward
The pits of ancient She’ol     

The remnants of the demon horde
In confusion flee
The city gates thrown open with
Hurrah’s and shouts of glee

But the field is empty
The mage he isn’t there
He’s mounted on his dragon and
He’s flying through the air

Whenever he is needed
Wherever evil reigns
Take a look up to the sky
Forthwith will fly the mage

Note: this poem originally appeared in the Organic Ink Poetry Anthology, (volume 1, now out of print), and was reprinted in the now defunct Kyanite Publishing’s Healing Words.

Check out my National Poetry Month reading series on my instagram page, go to the links page to read some of my published writing, and follow me on twitter and facebook.

A Baseball Sonnet For Opening Day

This year, opening day of the baseball season happens to fall on the first day of National Poetry Month. In honor of these two concurrent occasions, I present my poem, “Baseball Sonnet”.

Baseball Sonnet

That time of year thou mayst in fans behold
That malediction, fever of the spring
Surrounded by lingering snow and cold,
We dream of pennants and World Series rings.
With pride we root our noble heroes on
Eating hot dogs, peanuts, and crackerjacks
And all our worldly troubles fade, are gone
When that first pitch is thrown and bat doth crack
But Lo! When April fades to crueler months,
We reach the summer of our discontent
Like Mighty Casey in the Mudville ninth
With hearts bereft of joy and merriment
Yet hope springs eternal for one and all,
When that blue-clad umpire calls out, “Play Ball!”

Since I posted this poem last year as well (I hope to make it an annual tradition). Here are some links to some of my favorite baseball poems by other poets:

Casey at the Bat by Earnest Lawrence Thayer 

Baseball Canto by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The Pitcher by Robert Francis

Baseballs Sad Lexicon by Franklin Pierce Adams.

Also, be sure to check out my reading of baseball poetry, which will be my first in a series of reading for National Poetry Month, later today on my Instagram page.

Comic Book School Presents: Creator Connections, Panel 1 Wins Anthology of the Year in the Independent Creator Awards

I am thrilled and honored to announce that the Comic Book School Presents: Creator Connections, Panel 1 Anthology, which I coedited along with Dee Alley, recently won “Anthology of the Year” at the Independent Creator Awards. The comics and flash fiction anthology, which is available for free download on the Comic Book School web site, also includes two pieces which I wrote, Mr. Stupendous, a comics story illustrated by Arielle Lupkin, and The Duel, illustrated by Mike Ponce.

In addition, one of the other short stories, Ragnarok Comes, written by Kris Burgos and Illustrated by JP Vilches, won the awards for best one-off comics short.

You can read official Comic Book School Press release below, which includes information about signing up for the second annual 8-Page Challenge, which will lead to the publication of our second comics and flash fiction anthology.

Comic Book School Takes Home Multiple Independent Creator Awards

The Indie Comics Community honored the creators of Comic Book School with multiple Independent Creator Awards, including Best Anthology and Best Short Story/One Shot.  Comic Book School congratulates the creators who contributed to the Creator Connections, Panel 1 anthology—especially writer Kris Burgos and artist J. P. Vilchis for their victory for short story Ragnarok Come—and thanks the members of the independent comics community for supporting the anthology with their votes.

The award-winning anthology can be downloaded for free on the Comic Book School website.

“This shows what people can do when they work together, support each other, and focus on what they want to accomplish,” Buddy Scalera, the founder of Comic Book School and the anthology’s publisher, said. “The work in the anthology speaks for itself, and we are honored that it has been recognized by our peers in the indie comics community.”

“The award is validation for me,” said Kris Burgos, who wrote Ragnarok Comes. “After years of telling stories, it’s good to know people are listening and enjoying them. I also know I’m not completely crazy telling stories to myself and having hundreds of characters conversations in my head.”

The anthology was the culmination of the “8-Page Challenge” from Comic Book School, in which creators were challenged to create 8-page comics stories from start-to-finish over the course of a year. They were mentored through the challenge by Scalera and industry pros from his network, as well as through a peer-review process on the Comic Book School Forums. 

“The one-year anthology curriculum represents an educational journey 20 years in the making,” Scalera said. “The experience has made us better comics creators and has strengthened our professional networks. It is a natural extension of the Creator Connections panel, and builds on our vision to help people learn the craft and business of making comics.”

The Independent Creator Awards are given annually by Comic Book Advocates to honor the best creators and creations in the independent comics world in four broad categories: Art, Crowdfunding, Words, and Creation. This year, the awards were determined by popular vote among members of the independent comics world in a series of polls posted in a private Facebook group from the beginning of the year through March 14.  

“The awards were put together to celebrate the spirit of indie creation,” said Rob Andersin, indie comics advocate and creator of The Independent Comics Awards. “The tenacity and courage of indie creators should be celebrated. While awards may sound silly to some, the ability to be seen during awards season has led people to collaboration—and yes, a little competitiveness—that all leads to more shine on all independent creators when people see what we have to offer after a year of hard work.”

Despite the recognition, the creators of the Comic Book School community are not resting on their laurels. The second annual 8-page challenge is currently underway. Interested creators can join the challenge by visiting the Comic Book School Forums at .

Coffee With Skullgate

Check out my appearance on Coffee With Skullgate in which Skullgate editor in chief, Chris Van Dyke compares my writing to James Joyce. We also talk about genre, science fiction, comics, and the new Skullgate anthology, Under New Suns, which includes my short story “I am I.”.

Publishing News: Under New Suns Now Available

Under New Suns, a new space opera anthology, is now available for purchase. The science fiction shared-world anthology follows a crew of United Planetary Alliance marines who have stolen a sentient, alien ship. Because they do not know how to operate the alien technology, they fly through a wormhole and are transported to the edge of the known galaxy. The crew must navigate the ship back home, and along the way, the ship becomes pregnant, meet pirates, and encounter space sharks. It’s as wild as it sounds.

My story, “I am I” follows Triangle Alpha 3, a member of The Kern Collective, as he tries to forge his own identity after being cut off from his species’ collective mind.

The anthology also features my daughter’s first published artwork.

Get yours on Amazon or through the publisher, Skullgate Media.