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CBN columnist Ken Porter releasing first eBook this week

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I was surfing the web one day looking for title ideas for The Wonder Worlock, my prose comic seen only here on Cosmic Book News, when I found a webpage of incredible comics reviews and insights. It belonged to writer Kenneth Porter.

At the invitation of CBN E-I-C Matt McGloin and myself, Ken began reviewing comics and writing a column called Alt Beat, which looks at the “sidelines indies” comics and other like publications many comic book buyers do not see or cannot find for purchase.

Having won Top Cow’s recent talent contest, Ken set upon releasing an eBook he has been working on for sometime. That project is the subject of the following exclusive interview. 

Cosmic Book News: OK, Ken, explain how this eBook came about.

Ken Porter: This project popped up after a writing exercise I set up for myself. I’d been writing comic scripts and articles for so long that I had lost my touch for writing prose. After coming up with a character name for another project, Arthur Watson, I started to form a story around the character and who I thought he was.

CBN: … And the title, Arthur’s Bookshelf?

Ken Porter: I’m the kind of person who comes up with the title after the story has been written. Very rarely do I just get a couple of buzz words together and work from there. Arthur’s Bookshelf felt like the natural title because that’s where the protagonist is hiding his feelings. He has a bookshelf where he bottles up his thoughts and memories and it’s preventing him from moving forward in his old age.

CBN: Tell us a bit of the setup for the book, about this Arthur.

Ken Porter: Arthur Watson is a retired auto-worker living in a small West Michigan town. He spends every day eating at the same small restaurant and reading paperback novels. Not only that, but he also buys a second copy that he keeps on his bookshelf. He moves and matches his progressing bookmark each day with the extra copy on the shelf to simulate the relationship he had with his departed wife.

But all of that changes when a new waitress at the restaurant starts poking at him in his favorite booth. I’ll leave the rest of the story for readers to discover on their own.

CBN: Sometimes writers love to have a hidden message in their works: a moral, an allegory. Is there something in Arthur’s Bookshelf like that for its readers?

Ken Porter: There’s definitely a message about letting people into your life and the importance of memories. Our experiences sum up who we are, good or bad, and it’s important to take that with you while still moving forward.

CBN: Ken, since our “hero” is a vicarious reader, I take it you might be one too. Aside from comics and the like, what have been some of your favorite books?

Ken Porter: (laughs) I’m definitely a vicarious reader. I could spend hours in bookstores picking titles up and even more time digging through them. I’ve always been a fan of satire and science fiction. The book that really changed my life was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I can remember being kicked out of silent reading in high school for laughing so hard at the “42” scenes the first time I read it. There were tears streaming down my face and I realized at that moment that I wanted to tell stories like Adams did. Not always in the same genre, but on that same level.

Some of my other favorites are Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, and The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.

CBN: How will this eBook be “published”?

Ken Porter: My collaborator Sean Daniel and I are releasing it through Amazon’s Kindle Store through Griffincrest Publishing, our digital imprint. The current price tag is 99 cents, but I believe we’re going to offer it as one of the free borrowing books for Amazon Prime Members also.

CBN: I really enjoy your Alt Beat comics column for Cosmic Book News. How do you go about choosing subjects for it?

Ken Porter: Thank you! I know I’m long overdue for one, but that’s actually part of my process. I read all of my week’s books and try to find something that sticks out and really strikes a chord with me. Sometimes it’s an old trade or collection, and sometimes it’s a single issue. The bottom line for being chosen is that I find something that after reading it I say, “That’s got to be the Alt Beat this week.”

CBN: You won a Top Cow talent contest also. Can you tell us anything at all about that project?

Ken Porter: I’m not sure how much I can say, but I can tell you that I’m writing a full single issue for one of their main titles. I’m really excited about it and I’ve loved working with the company. Bryan Rountree is a fabulous editor and great to collaborate with, and Matt Hawkins has been more than gracious to me by letting me start the next level of my comics writing career at Top Cow.

CBN: Do you plan anything further in the way of eBooks “published” in this manner?

Ken Porter: We are planning on releasing a novella paired with a rock opera album in the near future. That was the real reason that we formed Griffincrest. The idea of blending his music and my words was too fun of an idea to pass up. The main novella project does have to do with a Griffin, hence the name of the company, and it’s got a really throwback science fiction serial feel to it.

Our goal would mainly be to take short form stories and pair them with digital albums. We don’t have any music for Arthur’s Bookshelf at the moment, but I wouldn’t rule it out down the road.

CBN: Where do you hope to see writer Kenneth Porter in 10 years?

Ken Porter: (laughs) Oh boy. Well, I definitely have some goals. My first priority is to tell great stories. I love the comic book medium in all shapes and forms, so that’s really my main goal. I don’t have any certain publisher in mind to work for, but I ideally would love to do what writers like Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction and Scott Snyder are doing (all of whom are big influences of mine). To have a few licensed books under my belt while also doing creator-owned projects would be my dream.

I love coming up with my own characters and stories, but I’ve always enjoyed playing in the metaphorical sandbox that licensed characters offer. I’m getting a taste of that with Top Cow right now and it’s really a dream come true.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Kenneth Porter for taking the time to answer our questions.

The ebook “Arthur’s Bookshelf” will be released Friday, July 5th, via Amazon’s Kindle Store through Griffincrest Publishing.

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Astro Van – eBook Review

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:1070:]]Ted and his 1992 Astro Van are just about as plain and predictable as could be. That is until Ted moves to Los Angeles and starts working for Jack Herschfeld, the famous puppeteer of yesteryear. Ted soon finds himself up to his neck in trouble. There are guns, puppets, romance, and plenty of danger waiting for him around every corner.

Written by iFanboy’s Josh Flanagan, Astro Van is a tale about a man who just wants to feel wanted and experience life. Ted is the kind of character that is instantly relatable. It seems like many people in our modern world seem to isolate themselves, even if by accident, and  they try to find some sort of connection to other human beings while failing to have the social skills to pull it off. When Ted feels isolated and alone, or uncomfortable in social situations, it really bleeds through the page and makes the reader feel the same way.

The supporting characters in the book are just as compelling as Ted. There’s Jack, his shifty boss who always seems to have a different motivation, Humberto, a security expert with a few other surprising hobbies, and Sara, a shop girl who has a healthy appetite for danger and adventure. The supporting cast really plays well off of Ted’s insecurities and gives him a chance to grow in a situation that many normal people wouldn’t find themselves in. The more the danger increases, the more readers get to experience Ted’s development into a real man.

The story flows very well for having as many underlying twists and turns as it does. It plays out very much like a dysfunctional heist movie, but with the inner monologues and thought processes that film can’t always deliver. There are a few points where the story takes suddenly jarring turns and it always keeps the narrative fresh. Many of the old cliché plot points that are found in stories in this genre get turned on their head in a very humorous and realistic way. The book as a whole is well paced. The characters are very believable and they leave you wanting more after the last page.

If you’re looking for a fun and inspired summer read on your Kindle or tablet device, Astro Van by Flanagan is an excellent choice for a lounge chair or outdoor day at the coffee shop. It really showcases the author’s love for storytelling and his understanding of how it feels to be the odd man out. The book is available on Amazon’s Kindle for $2.99.

Read More about Astro Van – eBook Review