Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Your purchases and the positive ripple effect

 When you shop small businesses, you support neighborhood jobs, the staff and their families.

Thanks to the loyal patrons at SNB, who continued to shop small even during a pandemic, Stuart's store can offer health insurance benefits for his family and the store staff.

Thanks to SNB health insurance, I was able to have surgery to preserve my vision. Even though I work hard to manage my diabetes, nearly 50 years with this condition has brought me some of the vision-related side-effects. Thanks to all sorts of science advances there are a number of medical treatments now. Most diabetics may suffer vision complications. Diabetes remains a leading cause of blindness. However, with regular eye exams and other health screenings, many complications can be caught early and minimized.

Decades ago, my vision complications would have severely limited my ability to see. Today, thanks to laser treatments and eye surgeries, my vision is stable.

Everyone should have an annual eye exam. The delicate veins at the back of your eye can be an early warning sign of a number of medical issues. Get your eyes dilated and examined by an ophthalmologist, or at least an optometrist. 

Feel like you can't afford check-ups?

You can't afford to risk your health -- especially if you are self-employed. You know it's vital to take care of the tools and supplies you need to do your work. Make your top priority keeping yourself in good working condition. 

Regular medical care -- and medical insurance -- saved my sight. Not to mention a few years back when Stuart likely prevented a heart attack thanks to SNB health insurance. He payed attention to symptoms and called his doctor the same day. He got checked out and ended up checked in for an urgent cardiac procedure. 

Turns out he had a "widow-maker." Look it up. Don't let it kill you. How does a fit, mid-50s guy end up with a 90% blockage in a major artery? Stress is a contributing factor to heart disease and high blood pressure. If you too are a "one-man band" running your indie-art life/small business -- stress is a big concern. For you. And especially for your loved ones. Take it seriously.

Working yourself to death is a cultural expectation that needs to be re-set. 

Work better, longer and stronger through wellness.

 Last year, beloved indie artist Sho Murase became a case study of a nearly-terminal health crisis striking hard. Thanks to her courage in sharing her ordeal, and support from colleagues and fans, many important lessons were shared. 

You never know when a health crisis might strike you. 

Get. Prepared. Now. 

Did you know that in additional to Affordable Care Act plans, there are professional guilds and other organizations you can join to access health care as a membership benefit? 

This link for a post on the blog has info about health insurance options for indie artists:

This next link is from a diabetes site, but has good tips for anyone with a chronic condition trying to nagivate insurance:

Take care of yourself --- not just for yourself, but for all the people who need you.

Meanwhile... here's a bit about by surgery story that I shared on social media. I was grateful to have so much love and support. And health insurance, thanks to SNB.


Week of surgery

Feeling waaaaay better today. Recovery from eye surgery on track. Enhanced by this inspiring art gift. Sharing this peek at my jaunty Pirate look. Thank you to everyone who shops at Stuart Ng Books — through which I have the health insurance to stay alive and keep my vision.

One week post-op

Walked to eye surgeon post-op appointment and walked home again. A little over 4 miles round trip. Felt so good, though may have been a bit ambitious. Eye recovery will take about 6 weeks, but progress is excellent and I got cleared to resume driving. Need to limit exercise to walking only for one more week. For those who want the gory details, see comments. Meanwhile, here are two pics from my walk.

My main post-op symptom is bruising around the eye (mostly cleared up now) and an annoying itchy sensation that comes and goes. Turns out, the itch may be caused by the stitches ---in my eyeball!! 

The stitches should dissolve on their own — over about 6 weeks! 😂 meanwhile, cold compress delivered via this plush bear first aid for kids item is a big relief. 

It puts freeze-able cold pack right on the inflammation, but since your hand only touches the non frozen plush part, it’s more comfortable to use than a sack of frozen peas.


My recovery was greatly enhanced by a surprise gift from an artist friend. 

For many years, I've collected coffee mugs with art images by Alejandro Mogollo. 

His wonderful tributes to Hollywood icons keep these awesome ladies on the radar of fans new and old. Thanks to Alejandro's Red Bubble online store, his images are availalbe on a wide range of merchandise. Each morning, Icarefully select a mug from my collection of Mogollo icons -- picking out the famous face of a powerful woman to be my special muse for that day. 

Earlier this year, I sent Alejandro a selection of reference books from my own personal library. 

As a suprise "thank you" gift, he sent me a bespoke mug of his own creation. He included a special message along with his selection of strong women to inspire me. 

He didn't know about  my surgery.. but you can imagine my delight when the mug arrived just in time for me to use to get through my recovery. I will always be grateful to Alejandro -- and to Vivien Leigh scholar Kendra Bean.

Years ago, Kendra posted a photo of herself with a coffee mug with Alejandro's art on it, including the credit for the artist! And another fantastic art-inspired connection was created.

 Always share credits and links when you "like and share." 

See more of Alejeandro's work here:

Previous posts on the blog that feature Mogollo's art:

Art is life.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Kickstarter for Mike Mignola documentary

With top comics and Hollywood connections attached, it wasn't a surprise that this Mike Mignola film documentary Kickstarter project reached its funding goal of $58,000 on the first day. Reward tiers at $30 and up included your name in the credits. By the close of the campaign, this Kickstarter unlocked awesome stretch goals as it reached a funding total over $500,000. The "creator" for this project was Jim Demonakos (co-founder of Lightbox Expo). 

View the teaser Trailer here:

Not everyone may have the top level subject matter and connections detailed in this project, but this Kickstarter is still a fantastic case study on how to present your Project and launch with a bang. Lots of planning when into this Kickstarter prior to its blast-off launch. 

Here's a 40 mins inteview with filmmakers Jim Demonakos and Kevin Hanna

Kickstarter link

 Here are links to some of the fantastic PR/Press that helped annouce the project, and popped up throughout the campaign.




CBR (Comic Book Retailor) (q and a  with Mignola)

Sam Stone 3.1.21 (excerpt below)

In an exclusive interview with CBR, Mignola explained why now is a good time for the documentary project, why he trusts filmmakers Jim Demonakos and Kevin Hanna and shared looks at art prints by Alex Maleev and Paolo Rivera that are included as potential Kickstarter incentives to backers. Additionally, Mignola talked about the release of Mike Mignola: The Quarantine Sketchbook, with all profits going towards the benefit of José Andres' World Central Kitchen and its mission to provide food to immediate disaster areas.

Q: What was it about Jim Demonakos and Kevin Hanna that ensured to you this project is in the right hands?

Mignola: Jim explained to me that the focus would NOT be on “how cool is it to have a movie?” I see too much of that these days. People skip over the beginning (the real work) and focus on movies and toys. Nothing against movies and toys, but I have so little to actually do with that stuff. Happy to have the focus be on what I really did.

Q: With the Mike Mignola: The Quarantine Sketchbook coming out soon, what sketches and artistic inspirations surprised you the most looking back on the past year's worth of sketches?

Mignola: Those sketches were just such a joy, especially the ones I did based on old cartoon characters. I’d never really thought about doing stuff like that, and once I started it was just addictive -- seeing what these characters would look like translated into my style. Milton the Monster? I loved that cartoon as a kid but never once ever considered drawing him. It was just pure fun. I’ve been drawing comics for more than thirty-five years, and this was the first time I allowed myself a huge chunk of time to draw just for the fun of drawing. And I think some of the drawings are the best (or at least my favorite) drawings I’ve ever done.


Copies of the Mignola Quartine Sketchbook are avaible on the SNB website. Check out this link for copies with the SNB exculsive, signed bookplate. A portion of sales from these SNB copies are donated to World Central Kitchen:

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Mignola signed bookplates. Exclusive to Mignola Sketchbook copies on SNB

Stuart's weekly email newsletter is written by Stuart himself. Usually in the wee hours of the morning. Often when he is in direct contact with European friends and colleagues. Sign up to get all the breaking news on all things SNB. Here's the link to sign up:

Mike Mignola Quarantine sketchbook -- a charity project and more. SNB copies offer an exclusive signed bookplate.

Here are some notes from a March newsletter:


Mike Mignola: The Quarantine Sketchbook -

First Printing with a Signed & Numbered Bookplate

We are donating a significant portion of our proceeds to World Central Kitchen.

We have already donated thousands to WCK --with more to come!

Dark Horse has already sold out the First Printing of the book before publication and is currently going back to press for a second printing.

About the book:

Soon after the quarantine began in March of 2020, Mike began drawing and posting a series of sketches--and occasional watercolor paintings--and auctioning them off to benefit Jose Andrés' World Central Kitchen. Mike is a favorite of comics fans as well as other artists and his renderings of strange and varied characters from comics, animation, film, horror, video games, cereal boxes, and more will delight and divert even in uncertain times.

Mike Mignola: The Quarantine Sketchbook - First Printing with a Signed & Numbered Bookplate exclusively from Stuart Ng Books!"

Alan Dean Foster vs Disney -- dispute over unpaid royalities (update 5.12.21)

UPDATE -- Settlement announced!

"Disney settles royalties dispute with Star Wars Authors" by Jake Abbate 5.11.21

Excerpt: "Last fall, sci-fi novelist Alan Dean Foster made waves when he published an open letter claiming that Disney hasn’t been paying him royalties for his Star Wars and Alien books. His allegations caused an uproar throughout the fan community, and eventually got the hashtag #DisneyMustPay trending on social media. But now, the studio is finally taking steps to make things right. According to the #DisneyMustPay task force (via BleedingCool), Disney has agreed to compensate not just Foster, but other unpaid writers as well....

...“Lee Goldberg, IAMTW, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America bring valuable experience to the Disney Task Force,” said Kowa in a statement. “Their support demonstrates that writers stand with each other.”

“Since we launched the Task Force, progress has been made,” added Kowal. “We are pleased that a few writers have been paid. However, we do notice the difference in how the lower profile writers are being treated. We should not still be having the discussion about honoring their contracts.”


Back in November 2020, stories began surfacing that well known sci fi author Alan Dean Foster was in dispute with Disney over non-payment of royalties. For decades, Foster had received a reliable stream of royality payments for his popular novelizations of films. He wrote novelizations for the Star Wars series at Lucasfilm and the Alien series at Fox. The legal case is still unfolding. 

In a nutshell, the legal argument by Disney is that they have acquired assets from their purchases of Lucasfilm and Fox, but not liabilities under contract to these companies. 

Say what?

Next two photos by Caitlin O'Hara from Wall Street Journal article listed later in the post. 

This photo shows Foster holding his personal copy of his novelization, autographed by Lucas and others.

Alan Dean Foster at home in Prescott, AZ
Photo below of Ballentine books cover of 1977 novelization, written by Foster.
Alan Dean Foster's novelization of the first Star Wars film was credited to George Lucas, but the book was all written by Foster. Photo below shows hardcover (center) and two paperback versions of the 1977 book. According the the Wall Street Journal, Foster's Star Wars novelization has sold over 1 million copies. 
Other Foster Star Wars series novelization covers...

Foster's case first came to light when he contacted the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SWFA).

The SWFA is a non-profit organization to "promote, advance, and support science fiction and fantasy writing in the United States and elsewhere, by educating and informing the general public and supporting and empowering sciecne fiction and fantasy writers.

You can read the SWFA blog post about the Foster vs. Disney case here:

This story is an important case study. It has been picked up by several news sources. Here are some links and excerpts. 

Wall Street  Journal "Star Wars Novelists Seek Years of Missing Royalty Payments From Disney"by Erich Schwartzel. 12.18.20

Excerpt: "Alan Dean Foster was in his late 20s when George Lucas, standing near a model of the Millennium Falcon in a warehouse in Southern California, met him to discuss writing the novel adaptation of his forthcoming movie “Star Wars.”

The original contract called for an upfront payment of $7,500, until Mr. Lucas tossed Mr. Foster a 0.5% royalty on sales that Mr. Foster, now 74 years old, says added up to several times that initial payment. They arrived several times a year as the original 1977 blockbuster set box-office records and the novelization he wrote went on to sell more than one million copies.

Then, in 2012, Walt Disney Co. bought Lucasfilm Ltd.—and the royalty checks stopped.

Now, Mr. Foster and other authors from Disney -purchased franchises are in a heated dispute with Hollywood’s biggest empire, which they say refuses to pay royalties on book contracts it absorbed in the $4 billion Lucasfilm deal and other acquisitions. The amount of money at stake is minuscule to a company of Disney’s size but important to the writers seeking it. While Disney has mined Lucasfilm for new movies that have collectively grossed nearly $6 billion at the world-wide box office, these writers say the company has delayed dealing with their complaints and stiffed them on checks that rarely total a few thousand bucks apiece.

Since Mr. Foster’s dispute was taken public by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America association, other authors of books tied to projects from Indiana Jones to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” have come forward with similar stories of royalty checks that stopped after Disney acquired the properties. In each case, Disney threatens to alienate an obscure but vital tentacle of the franchises, as these novelizations helped build and maintain fan loyalty. Complicating matters: The exact amount of money at stake is unknown, since sales and royalties for the books involved have fluctuated wildly over time."

Here's a Nov 2020 interview with Foster and SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal "A Star Wars Writer Claims Disney Isn't Paying Royalities -- but the issues are tricky" by Andrew Liptak. 12.16.20 

Excerpt: "This November, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, a professional organization for genre authors, dropped a bombshell announcement that shook the science fiction community: For several years, author Alan Dean Foster had been trying, without success, to get paid for several major tie-in novels adapting movies from the Star Wars and Alien franchises. While Disney has kept the books in print with other publishers, with Titan handling Alien and Del Rey on Star Wars, Foster says he hasn’t received royalty payments for new editions. So, he had turned to SFWA for help, and the #DisneyMustPay hashtag was born.

According to SFWA, the incident sets troubling precedence for others in similar positions. If a publisher can get out of paying an author by having the license travel to another company, it could undermine the livelihoods of many writers who made their livings writing novelizations and tie-in novels for some of the biggest media franchises in existence. Moreover, since Foster and SFWA went public with their claim, other authors have spoken to Polygon to say that they too haven’t been paid for work now owned by Disney after the acquisitions of Lucasfilm in 2012 and 20th Century Fox in 2019.

On Nov. 12, 1976, a paperback novel called Star Wars, “written” by George Lucas, appeared on stands. With six months to go before the film would debut in theaters, Lucas’ company was hard at work licensing the property out to other companies that could produce shirts, toys, and comics that could promote the release. This included a pre-release novelization: Lucasfilm hired 29-year-old writer Alan Dean Foster to ghostwrite the book, as well as pen a sequel that could easily be spun into a second, lower-budget Star Wars film if the first underwhelmed at the box office. Foster had already been enjoying a career as a science fiction author, selling his first story to Analog Science Fiction and Fact in 1971, and his first novel, The Tar-Aiym Krang, a year later. Armed with Lucas’ script and concept art, he produced a 272-page book in just six weeks. When it hit stores courtesy of Ballantine Books in 1976, few realized who had actually written the novel.

Still, after the success of Star Wars, Foster found himself a go-to person for movie novelizations. Over the years, he’s penned dozens of novelizations for franchises like Aliens, Star Trek, Dark Star, The Black Hole, Clash of the Titans, Outland, The Thing, Krull, The Last Starfighter, Starman, The Chronicles of Riddick, and others. They were all written in addition to his own original novels.

The nature of a work-for-hire contract means an author who’s written a tie-in novel will have little control over where their story ends up; how characters, situations, or details are used after they turn in their manuscript; and even the copyright of the work itself. It’s a tradeoff: Foster might not own the book, but the product may provide a steady revenue stream for years, especially if the franchise is popular with audiences. Write enough of them, and those tributaries will feed a healthy river.

Shortly after Disney acquired 20th Century Fox last year, Foster says that his royalties for his Alien novels stopped coming. He and his agent first attempted to resolve the issue with the book’s publisher, Warner Books. According to Foster’s agent Vaughn Hansen, while Foster and the organization were working to uncover the provenance of those rights, it became clear there were also missing payments for his Star Wars novels.

(Photo by Titan books)

Unable to resolve the issue directly, the pair took their complaint to SFWA’s Grievance Committee, a group within the organization that is designed to help authors who are having issues with their publishers. SFWA went to Titan Books, the publisher that currently publishes Foster’s Alien novels, and were told that they had to instead speak with the rightsholder: Disney. (Titan Books did not respond to comment for this story.) SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal tells Polygon that they attempted to resolve the situation by contacting the conglomerate, asking that the books be taken out of print until such time that payments to Foster resumed.

According to Kowal, Disney lawyers told SFWA that while it owned the underlying rights to Foster’s Alien novels, among others, holding the copyright did not obligate the company to pay him royalties — his contract was with Warner Books, not with 20th Century Fox or Disney. During SFWA’s November press conference, Kowal explained that the organization had trouble setting up a meeting with Disney to discuss and clarify the issue. Furthermore, Disney asked for their discussions to be kept confidential and that whatever they discussed couldn’t be used in further legal action. (Representatives for Disney declined to speak to Polygon on the record for this story.)

An insistence on confidentiality frustrated SFWA committee hoping to help Foster. “What they have said is that they acquired the rights and not the obligations,” Kowal tells Polygon. “We feel fairly confident that if we can talk to someone from the publishing arm of Disney, that they will understand how these things are supposed to work. And that much of this is probably just something that has happened during the process of acquisition, but we can’t get past their legal branch, which is making this completely ridiculous argument.”

Disney’s argument: it wasn’t obligated to pay royalties or provide royalty statements for the Alien novels because Foster had signed a contract with the publisher, Warner Books. And because Disney now owns the copyright to each of the novels, it can redirect them to whatever publisher it deems fit. Those involved with SFWA believe that Disney’s interpretation of copyright law isn’t accurate and that there are still obligations that carry over with Foster’s contracts. The situation with Foster’s Star Wars novels, now published by Del Rey, are a bit murkier. Foster originally signed a contract (which Polygon was able to review for this story) with the Star Wars Corporation, which guaranteed royalties for each book sold. The royalties continued when SWC became Lucasfilm in 1977. However, Foster, his agent, and SFWA say that they haven’t been paid since Disney acquired Lucasfilm."

The "Star Wars Novelist Says Disney Won't Pay Him Royalities It Owes Him" by Elizabeth Lopatto. 11.19.20

Excerpt: Alan Dean Foster, author of several Star Wars novelizations, says Disney hasn’t paid him his royalties. According to Foster, Disney has also asked him to sign a non-disclosure agreement before the company will speak with him.

“You continue to ignore requests from my agents,” Foster wrote in a letter published by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. “You continue to ignore queries from SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. You continue to ignore my legal representatives. I know this is what gargantuan corporations often do. Ignore requests and inquiries hoping the petitioner will simply go away. Or possibly die. But I’m still here, and I am still entitled to what you owe me.”

Foster ghost-wrote the novelization of Star Wars: A New Hope, under the byline of George Lucas; it was published in 1976 before the movie’s release. He also published a sequel to Star Wars, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012; according to Foster, Disney stopped paying him royalties. Last year, Disney bought 20th Century Fox, acquiring the rights to some other novelizations by Foster: Alien, Aliens, and Alien 3. Disney hasn’t paid Foster a dime on any of the Alien books, he says."