It Came from the Multiplex, and now It’s a Real Book!

Days that include presents from the Book Fairy are better than days that don’t.

Multiplex-ContribCopyThis time it’s courtesy of Josh Viola and Hex Publishers, and contributor copies of It Came from the Multiplex: 80s Midnight Chillers, a brand-spankin’ new anthology that will be out later this year.

Those of you who follow me here have likely read me yammering about this project off and on over the past year or so. Kevin and I were invited by the antho’s editor, Josh Viola, and a good friend of ours, Bret Smith, to contribute a tale to this collection and we leaped at the chance. We’d been wanting to something tied somehow to the 1980s for a while, and here was the perfect opportunity to get our asses in gear. I mean, why should people making TV shows and comics and books and other stuff and who never actually lived or grew up in this most excellent of decades be having all the fun, amirite?

The result? “Helluloid,” a story we wrote very consciously in the same vein as classic 80s horror flicks like House or The Return of the Living Dead. We made ourselves laugh pretty much the entire time we were planning and writing this thing. What also happened as we tossed ideas and note back and forth was that the location where our story takes place, a rundown movie theater, could very well be a setting for multiple tales, with or without any of the characters we were creating for this outing. “Helluloid” is set in 1985 at the Vogue, which by the mid 80s is running on fumes and is far removed from its 50s and 60s heyday. What else may have happened over the decades within those walls which have seen and heard so much?

Maybe we’ll see.

Meanwhile, you can totally pre-order It Came from the Multiplex by checking it out its page on the Hex Publisher’s website.

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Many, many thanks to Bret for reaching out to us about this in the first place, and to Editor Josh who made the process so very easy and painless. It was a lot of fun working with him and the Hex crew. Hopefully we can do it again someday.

Star Trek IV movie watch party…with me!

“Dayton, we want to ask you some questions about your writing and other stuff, before we all sit down to watch a movie together, and then we want you to keep talking all during the movie.”

I’ve trained my whole life for this moment.

Okay, so here’s the deal: Friend David Weiner is – among other things – a writer and documentary filmmaker. His In Search of Darkness: A Journey Into Iconic 80s Horror made quite the splash when it was released last year. I highly recommend checking it out, but bring a lunch as it’s over 4 hours long and you’re not going to care. As I write this he’s in the midst of assembling a similar project, In Search of Tomorrow: The Definitive 80s Sci-Fi Documentary which is at this moment in the final days of its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign and promises to be as epic as its predecessor.

FamousMonsters286-CoverI “met” David several years ago thanks to the wonder that is the internet. At that time he was working as the editor for Famous Monsters of Filmland, and in that capacity he contacted me and my best bud Kevin about writing a couple of articles for the magazine as part of its celebration of Star Trek‘s looming 50th anniversary. Write for one of the magazines that fueled my interest in movies and TV in that oh-so innocent pre-internet era? Yeah, you know that had to happen.

Thanks to social media we’ve managed to keep in touch even after David left Famous Monsters. A lot of his writing time is focused on his own site, It Came From Blog, an ongoing celebration of all things nostalgic from a childhood and early adulthood that in many ways very eerily resembles my own experiences from the 70s and 80s.

Star Trek IV, Dayton,” I can hear someone saying. “I saw Star Trek IV in the title and that’s why I’m here. Get on with it.”

Okay. Cool.

A few weeks back, David invited me to do a virtual sit-down/Q&A as a bit of pregame prior to a virtual watch party for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, just one of the many awesome 1980s science fiction films which will be highlighted in the aforementioned In Search of Tomorrow (ISOT). The plan was for me to do the interview online before everybody cues up/streams their copy of the movie. I’d then get out of everybody’s way so the group of people who’ve been assembling for the other films in this series of get-togethers could enjoy the movie in peace.

But wait! There’s more!

They actually invited me to stay with them while everybody’s watching the movie, and continue our dialogue in some manner. Whether that’s me pointing out things about the film or offering up trivia or other Trek nerdity, or me participating in a dialogue with David and others as things move merrily along, I’m honestly still a bit fuzzy on. However, I’m told all will be good and fine and it’s about the communal experience….less movie theater and more living room as we all enjoy each other’s company and a shared love of the flick itself.

I admit I was hesitant at first. As I told them, I didn’t want to come off like that jackass who can’t shut up while people are trying to watch the movie, but I’m assured that won’t be a problem and is indeed part of the draw. All righty, then. Also, I wasn’t even sure I could hang around for the whole thing, but with our current and common situation and  stay-at-home advisories being what they are, I realized there was nothing keeping me from sticking around and seeing how things went once the movie starts.

So, here’s how (I think) it’s going to go: The fun is scheduled for this coming Sunday, May 10th, beginning at 3:30pm Eastern Time/12:30pm Pacific Time. The Q&A/Watch Party is being hosted via the Discord app. The ISOT group has a community within the service, and those interested in joining the festivities are encouraged to visit this link I’ve highlighted with these words and things right here. They’ll put me through the wringer for a half-hour or so, and then we all push “PLAY” and get on with the movie. Sounds easy, right?

Yeah. I’ll find some way to dork it up.

If you’ve got time to chill-ax and watch one of the better Trek movies with a bunch of virtual friends old and new, come on out (virtually speaking). Maybe I’ll “see” you there!

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Zlonk! Zok! Zowie!

Zlonk Zok Zowie-CoverThe Subterranean Blue Grotto Guide to Batman ’66 – Season One
edited by Jim Beard with Rich Handley

Another Bright, Sunny Day in Gotham City…Or is it?

The Riddler, the Penguin, the Joker, and Catwoman are all making their first fiendish forays to prey upon Gotham’s innocent citizens, but Batman and Robin, the famous Caped Crusaders, stand ready to Z-ZWAP! their diabolic schemes–all the time knowing full well that even more arch-criminals such as the Bookworm, King Tut, and False Face will follow!

Maybe you already know these stories and have thrilled to them since their debut during the inaugural 1966 season of the beloved Batman television series–but when eighteen energetic essayists all descend upon these episodes to evaluate them for enlightenment, suffice to say, citizen, you’ve never seen them like this before!

Join Jim Beard, creator and editor of Gotham City 14 Miles, as he bounds back to the Batcave with a few fearless friends to dig deep into Batman Season One’s seventeen episodes and the 1966 Batman feature film. With particular points-of-view and a worldly wealth of Bat-knowledge, these writers tackle themes, tones, and tropes beyond any previous Batman episode guides–Holy Hooks! They’ll ZLONK! ZOK! ZOWIE! your senses!

Featuring Special Guest Essayists: Jim Beard, Ed Catto, Joe Crowe, Keith DeCandido, Kevin Dilmore, Chuck Dixon, John S. Drew, Pat Evans, Chris Franklin, Bob Greenberger, Dan Greenfield, Rich Handley, Paul Kupperberg, Will Murray, Alan J. Porter, Mark B. Racop, Peter Sanderson, Steven Thompson, and Dayton Ward. Cover by Sean E. Ali.

Trade Paperback from Amazon.com
Kindle eBook from Amazon.com

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Find something “serious” to write about for a show that was never really intended to be taken all that seriously? Sure, Jim. No pressure.

The truth is that despite its over-the-top and in-your-face campy nature, the 1960s Batman series did have a few layers to it. Many of its episodes managed to slip a little bit of subtle messaging past viewers caught up in the on-screen craziness, usually in the form of some sly writing by the likes of Lorenzo Semple Jr., Ralph Ross, Charles Hoffman, and so many other writers who contributed scripts over the course of the show’s three seasons. Anything earth-shattering? Perhaps. Perhaps not. That sort of thing ultimately is for viewers and fans to decide, but maybe we can help a little.

Enter the Subterranean Grotto (not the Sub-Subterranean Grotto…that’s only for emergencies). Published by Crazy 8 Press, Zlonk! Zok! Zowie! is presented as an exploration of just what might be baked into the episodes of the show’s first season along with the 1966 Batman feature film based on the series. Kevin and teamed up to provide a look at the two-part story that features the return of the Clown Prince of Crime himself, “The Joker Goes to School” and “He Meets His Match, the Grisly Ghoul.” It’s all about how Batman’s arch nemesis involves himself in juvenile deliquency. Hey, slow day in Gotham, I guess.

Volumes examining the second and third seasons are already in the planning stages. If you’re a fan of Adam West’s Batman (and really…who isn’t), you should give this new tome a look. To the bookstore*, citizens!

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* Yes, I know that as I write this, visiting a bookstore “just because” is not really an option due to the current state of affairs, but you still have online resources to help you during these trying times until some semblance of sanity is restored!

No April Fools gag this year.

After the century that was March, here we are at April.

April 1st, to be exact.

MrT-AprilFoolsI wish I could proclaim “April Fools!” and the first quarter of 2020 has been nothing more than some sick joke perpetrated by that one asshole in your office, but alas…it just ain’t so. It’s all real, and we’re still stuck with it.

I hope as you read this you and your friends and loved ones are taking care of yourselves and weathering the situation as best as you’re able. If you or someone you know is what we now call “essential personnel” during these trying times, I wish them well and that they remain healthy and safe.

We here at Ward Manor are fine. The kids are doing virtual learning for school, and my daily work routine hasn’t changed much at all. The big difference is, of course, on what you can and can’t do outside the home, and the varying degrees of challenges one encounters when shopping for household needs. We’re doing our best to remain in place as much as possible, venturing into the world for groceries and takeout from various local eateries we’re doing our best to support. The weather’s warm enough I can at least work in the yard, take walks, and so on.

As for “April Fools Day,” my big reason for abstaining this time around is that I simply wasn’t able to come up with something that fit the criteria I try to follow when conjuring such things. I don’t tend to go for pranks that are mean or hurtful, or target people or try to humiliate them in some way. I just like goofy things that elicit a chuckle or the occasional belly laugh if I can manage it. The gag products the team at ThinkGeek used to concoct are prime examples of the sort of April 1st shenanigans I prefer.

For example, there was that one time a bunch of us Star Trek novel writers each sent our editor a pitch for an erotic Star Trek story. Everything from Harlequin romance-level stuff to Hustler reader letters.

One year, I decided to write my first-ever review for a Star Trek fan film.

And, of course, who could forget the time Kevin and I decided we were going to write a Star Trek rock-n-roll musical.

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One year, Kevin and I broke up. Yes, I wrote this piece and convinced StarTrek.com to run it. Don’t worry, though; we got back together.

Pike-GuideToLifeMy favorite gags usually involve coming up with nutso book ideas. If we’re being honest, there’s a lot of inherent humor to be found within Star Trek. Long time fans know it has its own set of tropes, good and bad, which can be mined for laughs. The key for me is remembering to laugh with these things, not at them.

I went a bit overboard one year, when I pitched “The Quotable Captain Pike.” When I came up with the idea (which I revised with a snappy new cover last year…eyes left). Our view of the good captain was dominated by how he was portrayed in the original series episode “The Menagerie.” Since then we’ve had Anson Mount’s top-shelf portrayal of Pike before the character’s tragic fate befalls him.

Return To HoratiusOther cover ideas were far more simple and cheesy. Last year, along with the Pike cover I also threw out one for Return to Horatius, my proposed sequel to the very first Star Trek novel ever written and which was published way back in 1968. That was just something I did on the spur of the moment and it shows, but it was enough to get a few giggles from my friends on Facebook, which is all I really wanted.

My favorite of these, though, was the one I could not have done without the artistic awesomeness of my friend Aaron Harvey, who created what ended up being one of my absolute favorite covers for anything I’ve ever done, real or imagined, when I decided what the world needed was a novel-length story to bring to life one of the craziest Star Trek toys of the 1970s, Mego’s Mission to Gamma VI playset.

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star-trek-kirk-fu-manual-coverOf course, then there are the occasions when what probably should be nothing more than a quickly forgotten April Fools joke gets a little traction and before you know it there’s an actual book.

Sorry, y’all. I couldn’t help it. I’ll try to do better in the future. Nah, not really. On the other hand, it only came out a month ago, so maybe we just count Kirk Fu as my contribution to this year’s April Foolery, and call it a day.

Yeah. That sounds good.

Tour the National World War I Museum and Memorial…from your couch!

Hello, fellow self-isolationists!

As many of you know, I serve as just one among a small army of volunteers at the National World War I Museum and Memorial here in Kansas City. In this capacity, I help guests as they navigate the museum’s galleries, answer questions about the Great War and the artifacts we have on display, tell people where the restrooms are, offer suggestions on great places to eat in town if they’re visiting us from elsewhere, and generally just do what we can to enhance their experience while they’re spending time with us. There’s a fine line between “being helpful” and “being a nuisance,” and we endeavor to stay on the right side of that divider. This means allowing guests to enjoy the museum on their own terms (unless they’re taking a guided tour) and not inserting ourselves into their visit except when invited to do with questions and the like.

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Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 protocols currently in place and particularly here in the Kansas City area, the musem is closed to the public and we volunteers are not currently needed. The staff continues to work at home or perhaps on site depending on their individual responsibilities, and I for one find myself missing my usual volunteer shifts on various Sunday mornings each month March 29th is the second shift I’ve missed, and I expect I’ll miss anything originally scheduled for April, as well.

That said, you can still visit the museum. Virtually.

Even before the current situation fell upon us, the museum was already working to enhance and expand its digital offerings through its website. During 2019, more than 20 million people visited the site, checking out the various resources and programs it offers. Indeed, there is a page dedicated to online exhibitions. Among my favorites:

WWIMuseum-002An introduction to the museum and memorial, which — as the name implies — is a good place to start.

A walk-through of the main galleries, highlighting several prominent exhibits and artifacts and guided by the museum’s Curator of Education.

An immersive tour of the galleries, this time guided by one of our volunteers, whom we all affectionately – and respectfully – refer to as “the Colonel.”

A narrated tour focusing on the archtecture of Liberty Tower and the adjacent buildings, the courtyard and surrounding grounds, which were the original monument opened in 1926. The buildings flanking the Tower, Exhibit Hall and Memory Hall, housed museum artifacts on display to the public before the much larger gallery space opened in 2006.

WWIMuseum-003An exhibition recounting the Christmas Truce of 1914, including essays and letters detailing firsthand accounts by soldiers serving on the front lines.

A presentation examining November 11, 1918, the day the guns finally fell silent.

These and many other online exhibitions await you here. If you’re an educator or student doing research or other work about the war for a school project, a host of resources are available to assist you. The museum even has its own YouTube channel where you’ll find archival film footage, recordings of symposiums and other presentations offered in our auditorium, and other short films.

So, unless or until you can visit us during some future trip to the museum, hopefully you can find something to interest you through the website. Take a virtual tour, whydontcha, and once all of this is behind us and life returns to something at least passing for normal? Come see us for realz!

New interview with the Trek This Out podcast!

What’s that? Another interview? Why, yes. Yes, it is.

TrekThisOut-logoThis time, I sit down for a virtual confab/interview with Andrea Davies and John Aitken, hosts of the Trek This Out podcast. As you can probably guess from the show’s title, we talk a little Star Trek during this conversation. Specifically, we talk about my recently released Kirk Fu Manual because that’s all the rage this month. It’s like everybody is Kirk Fu fighting as their minds become fast as lightning even though the future is a little bit frightening and it’s the book of their lives that they’re…..

:: ahem ::

Sorry. Distracted for a sec, there. Where were we? Oh, right. Podcast. Confab interview thing. Got it.

Anywho, in addition to Kirk Fu, we bounce around a bit, talking about other Trek projects I’ve worked on over the :: mumble mumble :: years I’ve been doing this whole writing thing, my “duties” as a consultant for CBS Global Franchise Management. Describing what I do in that role is a lot like Chandler trying to tell the other Friends what he does for a living. We also talk about Tom Brady leaving the Patriots to join the Bucs, Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Discovery, and a speed round of questions about favorite this and favorite that. Then we pick a redshirt death for another host who wasn’t there. Good times.

Check it all out here: Trek This Out Podcast – “The Dayton Ward Tapes”

Thanks very much to Andrea and John for having me on, and for the fun discussion. Maybe we can do it again sometime!

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Starfest 2020…also postponed.

Concerns over COVID-19 continue to spur cancellations of everything from schools to concerts and bars, restaurants, movie theaters, museums, and sporting venues are closing their doors. It’s become a sort of weird watch party as we each wait to hear about such closures that affect us personally even as we all adjust our normal routines and habits and try to do each do our small part.

The National World War I Museum is following local guidance and closing to the public at least until April 3rd, meaning I won’t be volunteering there for a while. My kids’ schools will be closing for the same period. My wife’s employer has cancelled public events.  Planet Comicon announced it was postponing its show that was due to dominate downtown this coming weekend, and yesterday I heard that Starfest, the con Kevin and I regularly attend in Denver, is also postponing its show that was scheduled for May 1-3.

Starfest2020LogoLike Planet, Starfest is one of those shows to which I most look forward to attending whenever I start putting together my convention schedule each January. Kevin and I have been guests of the con each year dating back to 2003. It’s one of the first shows to which I commit before entertaining other invitations. Admittedly, I don’t really get invited to all that many shows, but I love the ones I do attend because the people who run them are awesome.

This goes double for Starfest, as the people behind it have always treated us like members of the extended family that works so hard to put on a great show each and every time. After all these years, the idea Kevin and I won’t be making that drive to Denver to catch up with so many friends is just weird.

But, also like Planet, I’m assured Starfest 2020 isn’t cancelled. Nope. It’s postponed. The show promoters are working with the hotel to secure alternate dates. I have no doubt the logistics of retaining the current guest roster or putting together an alternate list that offers the kind of value fans have come to expect from the show is anything but an easy feat. I also know it’s totally in their wheelhouse to make it all work.

We all know these sorts of postponements–and cancellations, in some cases–are necessary. It’s ultimately for the best, but I look forward to learning about the new show dates and I hope Kevin and I can still make that drive later this year. As I said about Planet, Starfest is worth the wait.

Planet Comicon 2020…postponed.

Earlier today, Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas issued a state of emergency as a response to growing COVID-19 concerns. Among the preventative meaures he outlined and suggested for trying to stay ahead of the coronavirus, he ordered the cancellation or postponement of any public gatherings and events with projected attendance to be 1,000+ people. This had an immediate effect on the Big 12 college basketball tournament currently taking place at the Sprint Center in downtown KC.

Within my social media circle, people began wondering what impact this might have on Planet Comicon, our annual big blowout pop culture con scheuled to be held next weekend, March 20-22. It’s one of the largest such shows in the Midwest, and as it’s our “hometown con” Kevin and I were looking forward to attending as we always do.

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Mayor Lucas’s declaration made the postponing of the con a foregone conclusion; it was just a matter of waiting to hear whether the promoters would attempt to reschedule the show for later in the year or cancel it altogether and plan for 2021. About an hour ago, the con put out their official statement about the show’s status.

It is indeed postponed, and the promoters are working to secure alternate dates for the con later this summer or fall. Included in the statement is information about crediting admission purchases to the later show, or even the 2021 con, as well as the refunding of tickets for celebrity photo ops. I suspect these are but the first steps the con will be taking to make sure customers are taken care of while they work out all of the logistics and details involved with essentially undoing everything they’ve done to prepare for hosting a show that’s not gonna happen; at least, not for a while. Please give them time and room to sort through it all. I have full confidence they’ll do right by people to the best of their ability.

For me, this means I won’t get to catch up with friends I only see at this con. This includes fellow authors and other creators who journey here from other parts of the country. It means not putting faces to names for people I’ve met on social media and who were planning to attend the show. It means not being able to get my geek on with my daughters, both of whom were looking forward to attending the show. Guess we’ll have to fend for ourselves that weekend. And yes, I’ve been prepping for the con with a big box full of my brand-spanking Star Trek: Kirk Fu book as well as Kirk Fu posters to give away and plenty of copies of various other titles.

HOWEVER: KC-area Star Trek fans may have a chance to catch up with Kevin and me sooner rather than later. Games are afoot. Stay tuned as details firm up!

As for the con itself, let me tell you something about these folks: Kevin and I have been attending this show since the very first one. In those days, we bought tickets at our local comic shops and attended like normal people. They started inviting us as guests perhaps ten years or so ago, and we’ve had a blast every time the show rolled around each spring. While we obviously understand why it’s being postponed, I still feel bad for everyone involved in bringing Planet Comicon to life. There are a lot of people who bust their asses to make it better and better every year, and they’re finally getting some of the national notice they deserve. I hope this is just a bump in the road for them and that we’ll see a con later in the year.

Da-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na….Bat Book!

A while back, Kevin and I were invited to contribute to a book being put together by author/editor Jim Beard, with whom I’d previously worked and had much fun when he teamed up with author/editor Rich Handley to assemble Planet of the Apes: Tales From the Forbidden Zone. Having been allowed to scratch my Apes fanboy itch with a new short story based on that longtime favorite property, I was jazzed at the chance to dig in and yammer a bit about another fond childhood staple, the 1960s Batman television series.

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Instead of writing fiction this time, Kevin and I would be would be providing an essay about a specific episode. Two episodes, really, since most of the Batman stories were two-parters, especially during the show’s first two seasons, with the halves split between Wednesday and Thursday evenings each week. This collection would feature essays about each of the first season’s 17 stories (or 34 episodes).

The result of all that writing and whatnot? ZLONK! ZOK! ZOWIE! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Guide to Batman ’66–Season One.

(Say that three times fast. Meanwhile, I’ll be over here contemplating how sweet it would be to actually write Batman ’66 short fiction.)

Our mission? Attempt to give readers and fans–old and new alike–something new to think about regarding this intentionally campy and oft-dismissed incarnation of the Caped Crusader. Kevin and I join Jim in this endeavor along with these fine folks:

BatBookS1-CoverEd Catto
Joe Crow
Keith R.A. DeCandido
Chuck Dixon
John S. Drew
Pat Evans
Chris Franklin
Bob Greenberger
Dan Greenfield
Rich Handley
Paul Kupperberg
Will Murray
Alan J. Porter
Mark Racop
Peter Sanderson
Steven Thompson

You can read more about this project from this little tease article written by one of the book’s contributors, Dan Greenfield, over at the 13th Dimenion website:

Sneak Peek: Dig the Next Great Batman ’66 Book

This first collection of all-new Batman ’66-inspired essays is coming (I think) this summer, available in trade paperback and eBook formats from the gang over at Crazy 8 Press. More info to share as it becomes available. Stay tuned, citizens!

Talking Trek with the Worst. Comic. Podcast. EVER!

Hey! I babbled again, and this time I brought my cohort along with me!

Or, maybe he brought me along with him. Hell, I don’t know, anymore.

The important thing to take away from this is Kevin and I ended up doing a joint interview, something that hasn’t happened in a long while. Fate and circumstances see to it I end up doing a lot of these things to promote my solo work, but this time we’re not even pimping anything. Turns out a couple of local friends who happen to have a podcast wanted to talk Star Trek and what do you know? We’re right here in the same time zone. The result? Kevin and I as guests on the latest episode of the….

WORST. COMIC. PODCAST. EVER!

WCPE-Logo

And if that logo maybe stirs up some memories from your childhood, go with that feeling.

Ah, Bailey.….

Oh, right. Podcast.

Guided by our hosts, John Holloway and Jerry McMullen, we discuss a variety of Trek-related topics. We bounce around from our writing to our takes on the recent generation of series (Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard) and various fannish pursuits like conventions and visits to the super awesome Star Trek Original Series Set Tour in Ticonderoga, New York. But you know it is a podcast focusing on comics, so the conversation does make its way around to the story Kevin and I wrote for the Star Trek: Waypoint comics miniseries back in 2016, and the tons of fun we had working on that.

So, if any of that sounds like an interesting way to wile away an hour or so while you’re sitting in traffic or in line for one of those sweet chicken sandwiches from Popeye’s or whatever, give this a listen:

Worst. Comic. Podcast. Ever! Episode 291:
Talking Trek Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore

Many thanks to John and Jerry for having us on their show. We’ll see these guys again in March at Planet Comicon here in Kansas City, and maybe one of these days we’ll find a decent excuse reason to head back to their den of nerdity for another exciting installment!

WCPE-Approved