Friday, October 17, 2014

(Relatively) Recent Work

Good Lord, I know! It's been so long since I've been here I'm not sure if I remember how to do this!

I may have posted some of these before but these are my most recent works. Two of them are for books that will come out at Christmas and one is for a book that's out now. The rest were just because I wanted to...

I've been here and there. I've drawn a lot of pictures. I've written a bit, too. I'm not good at this self-promotion thing. Look, you want to know about me? just visit these websites. Okay?

Friday, June 27, 2014


I painted a whole bunch o' spaceships recently and two of them...

...these two:

...have been spoken for!

Van Allen Plexico, author of the Shattering series, has agreed to write two short novels based on these pictures!

I'm very excited to see what he comes up with. I'll let you know when they are available and where you can get them.

It won't be long. I'm told he writes real fast.

I've been here and there. I've drawn a lot of pictures. I've written a bit, too. I'm not good at this self-promotion thing. Look, you want to know about me? just visit these websites. Okay?


Spaceships... I been painting 'em. I'm like the Bob Ross of the Cosmos.

I've been here and there. I've drawn a lot of pictures. I've written a bit, too. I'm not good at this self-promotion thing. Look, you want to know about me? just visit these websites. Okay?

Friday, May 9, 2014


I know! It's been forever!

But here I am with nothing to say so I am giving it over to my other personality, Jack Mackenzie because, Damn if he doesn't have a book to promote!

Take it away, Jack:

My latest science fiction novel, Debt’s Pledge has been a long time coming.

I started this book many years ago. I wanted to write a military science fiction novel about a soldier who is down and out.

At the time I had been doing research on Ancient Rome and the conditions faced by soldiers in the years before Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his army. There was opportunity for reward and glory for Roman soldiers, but there was also much deprivation and hardship. I wanted to translate this situation to a traditional military science fiction milieu.

I also wanted to examine the idea of debt. Not just monetary debt, or the debt that a society exacts upon its citizens, I wanted to try to separate what individuals owe to society separate from what is mandated by taxation.

What I discovered, as I wrote, is that we, as individuals owed the existence we have in the present to those who came before us. This seems obvious, though sometimes we forget how much of what we have today we owe to those who came before us. Not just fathers and mothers, but “founding” fathers are owed a debt by all of us in the present. A simple experience like going out for a meal represents an immense societal effort over many years to create the situations where today restaurants and fast food outlets are commonplace and affordable.

Even the simple act of flushing a toilet is the result of decades, even centuries of hard work and building of complicated infrastructure. For that hard work and ingenuity, we owe a debt.

What I also discovered was that the debt goes both ways.

It’s fashionable now to talk about leaving a better world for our children (as if our ancestors didn’t want the same things for us) but do we really appreciate what that means. Parents will sacrifice and work hard for their own children and I am no exception, but what about the many children who are unborn today and who may never be born. What debt do we owe to them?

The concept of debt becomes more nebulous and contention at this point but while I was writing I wanted to explore a situation where that concept suddenly became clear. I think that I was successful in doing that in Debt’s Pledge.

I wrote the first draft of this novel and most of the second well before the global economic crisis happened. World events have borne out much of what I had been thinking at the time and, I hope, have made this story even more relevant and timely now than when I started.

Certainly you can read the book and enjoy it as an exciting, military, space opera adventure. The book contains spaceships, space travellers, future soldiers, aliens (and some really badass aliens) enough to content the lovers of science fiction, military SF and Space Opera.

But there is also a human story mixed into all that, and some thoughts on the relationship between individuals and society and what each owes the other. That is what Harlan Ellison refers to as the “fibre” hidden within the story. I’m quite pleased at the way it made it into the narrative.

I am also happy with the characters that developed and grew along the way. Some were created consciously and others just kind of showed up during the writing. This is their story and I am pleased with the way that it has been told. I believe I was able to stay out of their way sufficiently to allow them to tell the tale as it needed to be. That, for a writer, is the best feeling. It’s like some sort of magic has been invoked and it has infused itself into the text.

Debt’s Pledge is available now at for the kindle. It will soon be available in other e-formats as well as a print edition soon afterwards. Personally I think you owe it to yourself to check it out, maybe even buy a copy. If you have already purchased a copy, then sincerely, thank you.

I am in your debt.

I've been here and there. I've drawn a lot of pictures. I've written a bit, too. I'm not good at this self-promotion thing. Look, you want to know about me? just visit these websites. Okay?

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Cover art I did for an omnibus edition of Van Allen Plexico's The Shattering. I didn't realize until now that he had not written that scene when I delivered the cover art, yet he described it to me in such detail I could "see" it in my mind. Obviously what I was seeing jived with the author's vision.

That's gratifying for me as an artist but aside from that I am amazed that a scene could be so well thought out two years in advance of the actual writing. Now that's planning ahead!

You can find the first volumes in the series and more from Van Allan Plexico at

I've been here and there. I've drawn a lot of pictures. I've written a bit, too. I'm not good at this self-promotion thing. Look, you want to know about me? just visit these websites. Okay?

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Michael Franti & Speahead.

I love this song and I love all you crazy blogger people who follow me!

I've been here and there. I've drawn a lot of pictures. I've written a bit, too. I'm not good at this self-promotion thing. Look, you want to know about me? just visit these websites. Okay?

Saturday, October 5, 2013


Here is the cover art that I did for Joel Jenkin's newest Gantlet Brothers novel: SOLD OUT!

You can read all about it here.

I've been here and there. I've drawn a lot of pictures. I've written a bit, too. I'm not good at this self-promotion thing. Look, you want to know about me? just visit these websites. Okay?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


...too quiet. This is all I've managed to finish (and I use that word in its most liberal sense) in the last week.

I haven't had much going on aside from my posts at the AMAZING STORIES website. I haven't done much artwork in the past little while. One of the reasons was that I became a grandfather. My older daughter had a baby three weeks ago.

And I guess I feel about as old as this guy, though hopefully not as evil-looking.

I've been here and there. I've drawn a lot of pictures. I've written a bit, too. I'm not good at this self-promotion thing. Look, you want to know about me? just visit these websites. Okay?

Thursday, September 19, 2013


I'm reprinting my last column for the AMAZING STORIES website here because... because I feel like it, that's why. You got a problem with that?

MDJackson_Perry rhodan_header
If you are a fan of science fiction and if, as I do, you have a particular love for space opera, then you probably have come across the name Perry Rhodan.
MDJackson_Perry rhodan1If you're anything like me then you would have spent many hours scouring paperback aisles or racks looking for science fiction paperbacks. Sometimes in drug stores or supermarkets or maybe in second-hand book stores. Either way you are bound to have come across a paperback edition or two of the Perry Rhodan books. The English editions, anyways.
And if you are like me you would have asked yourself: what is this Perry Rhodan thing? And you probably would have been warned away from it as I was many times.
Perry Rhodan is a weekly German science fiction pulp magazine series that has run uninterrupted since 1961. That translates into over two thousand five hundred issues released so far not counting reprints, books and spinoffs.
Lets let that sink in for a moment. Can you think of a similar North American science fiction hero who has had such a run? The closest I can think of is Doctor Who and his run was certainly not uninterrupted.
MDJackson_Perry rhodan2Does this not sound like the most successful science fiction series ever? So how come hardly anyone outside of Germany knows about it?
The magazine was originally founded by Karl-Herbert Scheer and Walter Emsting, two German science fiction writers. Initially it was only conceived to run for thirty volumes, which was ambitious enough. Its popularity within Germany allowed it to run well past the original thirty volumes and now it is still being developed and written by an ever-changing team of authors.
So what is Perry Rhodan all about? Well, according to
PR1_2600_dU1U4.inddThe series begins with the first manned moon landing (in 1971) led by U.S. Space Force Major Perry Rhodan. However, things do not go as planned and the astronauts discover a stranded alien spaceship from a star system called Arkon and its crew who need medical help. The realization that mankind is not alone in space and access to the aliens' advanced technology lead to the (not entirely trouble-free) political unification of Earth under the eponymous hero-protagonist Rhodan, first expeditions into the cosmic neighborhood, and the eventual founding of first colonies on other planets, all the while trying to keep the more powerful established factions out there (especially the decadent Empire of Arkon, which had dominated local space for twenty millenia) from finding out just where the newcomers hail from.
Over time (over the course of the entire series so far, more than three thousand years pass in-universe), Earth and its colonies evolve into a major power in their own right while other space-faring races lose some of their traditional influence.
missionstardustWell that all sounds pretty standard space opera, doesn't it? There are elements of Doc Smith's Lensman stories as well as Star Trek. But why has Perry Rhodan lasted for so long, achieved this level of popularity in Germany but not elsewhere in the world? How can a franchise inspire Books, spin-offs, games, music albums (including one by Tangerine Dream's Christopher Franke) and even a movie back in 1966 (although Perry Rhodan fans will tell you that there never was a movie made... EVER! That's how bad it was) and not have been able to break out of its regional popularity the way Doctor Who has? Is it a German thing? Does it not translate outside of the German cultural ouvre?
I guess the question I'm really asking is: Is it any good?
Perry_Rhodan-The_Cosmic_LeagueAt this point I should come clean and tell you that I have not read any Perry Rhodan. I have several of the English language paperbacks but I have never read them. I have been warned away from the books by fellow science fiction fans, yet, there is an appealing allure about the existence of such a successful franchise that very few people, even the science fiction community, has even heard about.
My question then is the one in the title of this piece: What the %&*# is Perry Rhodan? Who out there knows and can share what it is about this series that has captured your imagination?
Who out there knows just what this Perry Rhodan thing is all about? Who out there knows and can tell me why it has endured? And who has any theories about why it hasn't become a breakout world-wide success like other sf franchises?

Friday, September 6, 2013


Here is a reprint of my most recent post for the AMAZING STORIES website. This post was inspired by my good buddy Cal over at the Cave of Cool who tends to knock one of my great childhood heroes because of his choice of shirts.


This post is about icons.

It's about powerful images and the way that they can become stuck in the public consciousness.

But it's also about old pulp heroes. One in particular.

I suppose I should start at the beginning. Not back in the 1930's when Street and Smith released a new hero pulp magazine featuring a super-scientific crime fighter named Doc Savage. Not even in the 1960's when the adventures were reprinted in paperback format with covers painted by artist James Bama.

For me the beginning was the summer of 1976. I was eleven years old and it was the start of our family summer vacation. Summer vacation for me meant long drives in a hot car with my brothers and I in the back seat. We had made a stop somewhere and my mother sent us in to a used bookstore with a little bit of pocket money to buy comic books to try to keep us interested in something else other than fighting amongst ourselves.

DocSavageTheOtherWorldCoverProofI started rifling through the second-hand paperbacks. I can't remember exactly what I was looking for, but when I came across the Doc Savage paperback I was stopped cold. The cover showed a muscled man with a torn shirt and a strange haircut, fending off a trio of weasel-like creatures. The name DOC SAVAGE was blazoned across the top but above it was the name of the adventure: The Other World.

The description on the back of the book got me even more excited. “To the world at large, Doc Savage is a strange, mysterious, figure of glistening bronze skin and golden eyes...”

How could an eleven year old resist that? I read the paperback and wanted more.

Fortunately there were lots around at the time. George Pal had just made Doc Savage, the movie. There were comic books and magazines and plenty more paperbacks all featuring the iconic image of Doc Savage sporting a torn shirt.

The iconic torn shirt.

An icon is a religious work of art from Eastern Christianity. Depictions of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, saints, what have you, these images were very powerful representations of a people's faith.

The icon has become co-opted by our society for anything but religious purposes. An icon is a visual representation of an idea or a feeling. It can be a symbols that encapsulates a feeling or an idea. Icons are very powerful, though we tend not to think too consciously about them. But that's how they work.

Take Sherlock Holmes. Holmes was never... NEVER... described as wearing a deerstalker cap. The illustrator of the stories, Sidney Paget depicted Holmes wearing a traveling cloak and a deerstalker hat for one adventure. For whatever reason, the deerstalker became permanently associated with Holmes. The deerstalker was a country cap, favored by hunters. To wear it year round, in the city was an absurd thing back in the late 1880's, yet it quickly became Holmes' costume.

Put on a deerstalker cap and you are Sherlock Holmes. Even the recent BBC TV series Sherlock, which has updated Holmes to the Twenty-First century, could not entirely get away from at least giving a nod to the existence of the famous cap.

Doc Savage wearing a torn shirt ALL the time is ridiculous. Yes, he's an adventurer and very busy. If, in the course of an adventure his shirt gets torn he doesn't have time to get a new one.

Some bloggers, including Calvin from Calvin's Canadian Cave of Cool, take to complaining about it, asking why he doesn't make his shirts out of the same, seemingly durable material out of which his pants are made.

But these questions are immaterial. Doc Savage's ripped shirt is iconic. It's as iconic as Sherlock Holmes' deerstalker, or Tarzan's loin cloth.

It was not always like that. Just as with Holmes's deerstalker, the torn shirt is a product of the illustrator. Doc Savage's original pulp magazine run featured lots of action-filled covers and on some Doc appears wearing a ripped shirt. In the very first issue Doc's shirt is torn. Nowhere near as torn as it would be in later covers, but it was there from the beginning. But other covers do not feature the torn shirt. In some cover illustrations Doc is wearing a suit and tie with not a single rip in sight.

When the adventures were released in paperback the job of painting the covers went to artist James Bama. Bama was the one who settled on the image of the torn shirt (the publishers insisted on the weird, widow's peak hairstyle, but that's another story) and the torn shirt appeared on every single cover that Bama or any other artist painted, right up until today.

So now, poor Doc Savage has to wear a torn shirt all the time, just like Sherlock Holmes was saddled with his ridiculous deerstalker. Perhaps Doc will move beyond the torn shirt. There is supposed to be a new movie in the works. Perhaps that will give us a new iconic image for Doc Savage. Maybe something cleaner, sophisticated and less... torn.

Perhaps that is a vain hope. I imagine that the poster for the movie, should it ever materialize, will feature a picture of whatever broadly muscled actor they cast sporting a shirt hanging raggedly about him to better highlight his pectorals and six-pack abs. That image will still overshadow the essence of a character who is so much more than a torn shirt.

Such is the power of the icon.

I've been here and there. I've drawn a lot of pictures. I've written a bit, too. I'm not good at this self-promotion thing. Look, you want to know about me? just visit these websites. Okay?

Sunday, August 4, 2013


That went well, I think.

I've been here and there. I've drawn a lot of pictures. I've written a bit, too. I'm not good at this self-promotion thing. Look, you want to know about me? just visit these websites. Okay?

Friday, August 2, 2013


On Sunday the BBC will announce who the new Doctor will be. But it doesn't matter who they cast as the new star of Doctor Who.

Whoever the new Doctor is, I won't like him (or her).

I know this because it's always the same.

I know this because I've been through this before.

Seven times.

When Tom Baker regenerated into Peter Davison I thought that would be the end of the show. There was no way it could ever be as good as it was when Tom Baker played the Doctor. Tom WAS the Doctor.
I mean, sure, I had seen Jon Pertwee in the role. He was the first Doctor that I watched. But Somehow I missed his transformation into baker. I lost touch with the show, but then I heard so may great things about it I picked it up again.

Tom Baker was fabulous as the Doctor. It was like he was born to play this part. Of course, he was, because he was really playing Tom Baker. That's the beauty of Doctor Who, each actor puts his own personal stamp on the role. His time as the Doctor becomes inextricably linked with who that actor is and vice versa.

And when Baker left it wasn't the end of the show. It was never as popular, of course, as it was during the Baker years. That kind of popularity wouldn't come until later with the show's return.

Peter Davison because the Doctor. I knew him from his role as Tristan on the BBC's All Creatures Great and Small. He was different. He was contained and sincere.
He won me over, so much so that when it was announced that he was leaving I was sure that the show was coming to an end. It could never be the same.

It wasn't. Colin Baker took over the role and I didn't like him. Until he won me over as well.

I met Baker at a convention in Bellingham, Washington shorty after he was fired from the role by the BBC controller. It was an awful situation. The producer, John Nathan Turner, wanted to move on. Baker wanted to stay. BBC controller at the time, Michael Grade, hated the show. He did exactly the opposite.

Baker was bitter about it, to say the least. he'd heard that they'd cast some actor named Sylvester McCoy. "I don't know who he is," he said. "I only know that he does a comedy act where he puts ferrets down his trousers."

Baker wanted the show to fail. I didn't, but I still didn't like Sylvester McCoy.

But then he grew on me.

So that when the show was finally cancelled I thought; that's it. That's the end.

I introduced my daughter to Doctor Who -- to the Sylvester McCoy Doctor. She loved it.

Then it came back with Paul McGann. I remembered McGann from the movie Withnail and I. My daughter and I watched the movie. We watched as McCoy regenerated into McGann.

I didn't like him.

He was too young, too handsome, too pandering to American audiences.

Then it was over and I thought; well, that's it, Nice try but its done.

Then, years later, they brought the show back. My daughter and I were excited. I saw pictures of the new Doctor, Christopher Eccleston with his short hair and leather jacket and I thought; when are they going to show him dressed as the Doctor?

So the show premiered and I didn't like him. His hair was too short and his clothes were contemporary.

But he grew on me.

He only lasted one season.

So we watched as he regenerated into David Tennant. And may daughter said to me; "I don't like him"

So now Matt Smith is leaving and everyone who criticized him when he took over (myself included -- He's too young, not forceful enough) are sad to see him go.

So when they announce the new actor on Sunday I will not like him.

Until the new season is well underway, then he (or she?) will grow on me.

And when this actor announces that he or she is leaving the role I will be sad and when they cast his or her replacement, I can guarantee that I won't like him.

Until he grows on me.

UPDATE: I just had a sudden certainty that the new Doctor Who will be Julian Rhind-Tutt. I'm probably wrong. I was absolutely certain that actor Rhys Ifans would replace David Tennant and I was completely wrong about that, so take this for what its worth. (Nothing)

If I'm right no one will be more surprised than me. (Of course I'll act all cool about it, like I knew all along, but inside I'll be gobsmacked).

I've been here and there. I've drawn a lot of pictures. I've written a bit, too. I'm not good at this self-promotion thing. Look, you want to know about me? just visit these websites. Okay?
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