Story begins! Starting right off with trouble. Not just for the characters, either. Nine vehicles plus a number of police in full tactical gear, all in a downshot perspective. Even for Max-the-Artist, who likes drawing vehicles, this took some care. But we needed one scene, one shot, one large panel (plus an inset) that clearly set the stage, and I have to say, I think he delivered.

Upvote for the goodness!


More below!



Picturing Rochester


I’d actually been in Rochester some years ago for a Transformers convention. Because of my work as a story editor on Beast Wars, I’d been invited as a guest speaker/panelist. The convention organizers flew me out there and gave me a hotel room to stay in.

Which all sounds kinda cool, but honestly, if you’re just a writer and not somebody awesome like a voice actor, it’s not quite as sweet as you might think. For one thing, yes, you get a plane ticket, but it is absolutely the cheapest plane ticket the organizers can swing. You’ll have layovers in two cities, including Chicago, and will almost certainly miss at least one connection due to delays. I missed two. Getting from Los Angeles to Rochester took me seventeen hours, and I arrived.. um… somewhat annoyed. But I finally made it to the hotel at 2AM, where I was informed that since I hadn’t arrived by midnight, they’d given my room away.

Blessedly, my wife (who had been on the phone talking me out of murdering everyone in O’Hare some hours previous) thought this might happen, and had arranged another room — a better room, by the way — across the street. Because she is awesome that way.

Anyhow, after a few hours sleep my panel started, and it went pretty well. It’s admittedly kind of a heady experience to have people wanting you to sign scripts and to have their pictures taken with you. But at 3PM the organizers needed the room for another panel and tossed us out. Because of the schedule I had eaten nothing since the day before, and I was pretty ravenous. So I walked out of the convention center into downtown Rochester at 3PM of a Saturday afternoon and tried to find some food.

There was nothing. Boarded-up businesses and shuttered stores were all I could see.

I walked for three blocks, increasingly confused. There were a couple of stores and restaurants, but for some reason they’d all closed at 2PM. I don’t know if it was some sort of civic regulation or because as the sun begins to move behind the buildings and the dark shadows lengthen along the deserted streets, the Rochester undead begin to stir and moan, thirsting for the blood of the living. All I knew was that I was the only pedestrian I could see in any direction and there was very little traffic. Shades of the Omega Man.

I did find a Bruegger’s that was closed, but the glass door was still open behind the iron security gates. The clerk was getting ready to throw the leftover bagels into a garbage bin. I was so hungry offered him five bucks for one. He shook his head and said it would get him in trouble, but eventually he took pity on me and shoved a plain bagel out through the bars. He refused the money. I think he was expecting the zombies to get me at any moment, and he’d feel guilty.

That was the best bagel I’ve ever eaten, and I was almost tearfully grateful. Made it back to the convention center with my brains more or less intact.

I did ask some questions afterward of the hotel clerks. What had happened to this city? Huge buildings everywhere with no one in them. Stores shuttered. The people all seemed nice but sort of desperate and worried. I got answers, and they all came down to one thing. Eastman-Kodak.

From what I was told, during the era of film photography, Eastman-Kodak was sitting on top of the world. The business of photographic film was insanely lucrative, and Kodak in its heyday controlled something like 90% of the market. Vast, vast quantities of money, and lots of work, lots of jobs. All of Rochester was created to serve the Kodak empire, directly or indirectly.

And then digital cameras were invented. Sure, they were a joke at first, but not for long. Before they knew it, Kodak’s formerly lucrative empire found itself sliding downhill on an avalanche of scree, and no matter how their cash cow danced, it never could seem to get a footing. Kodak tried making digital cameras. In memory of my time at Rochester, I even bought one once. But I’ll be the first to admit it wasn’t as good as the competition. And the competition was everywhere. Heck, digital cameras were in people’s phones. 

So film photography and movie stock essentially went from making billions upon billions of dollars to… well, a hell of a lot less. And the entirety of Rochester — good, proud, hardworking people, most of them — found themselves suddenly adrift. Another casualty of the digital revolution. It happens. It’s no one’s fault. God knows, I’d rather shoot digital than film myself. But even then I could sense the worry in the air, and from what I gather it’s even worse now.

Fear. Stress. Fretting about money. Fretting about the future. We’ve all been there. Most of us learn to handle it, as best we can.

But for a few… well, the pain just becomes too much.

Stay with us.


— Bob out