LadyStar for Warrior Moms and Warrior Dads Chapter Two: Teamwork

Growing up, I played a lot of sports. I joined numerous organizations for kids my age including scouting, a swim team and finally marching band in both high school and college. The one thing all those experiences had in common was the primacy of teamwork and sportsmanship. I learned how important teamwork was for success in life from participating in those clubs and teams. I found out what it was like to be a champion, and why I was able to participate in so many victories. I’ve been asked on numerous occasions to describe the LadyStar story in as few words as possible. Business executives call it an “elevator pitch.” I’ve gotten pretty good at rattling off shorter and shorter summaries of my work over the years.

Now I can describe it in one word: Teamwork.

That word raises eyebrows from time to time. You see, all seven of my main characters are girls between the ages of 11 and 18. Unfortunately in American popular culture, we don’t do a very good job of portraying girls working together as a team. When America encounters more than one fictional teenage girl, they are usually rivals.

If you’ve spent even a little time watching television written for teenage audiences, you will instantly recognize how central rivalry is in many storylines. I call it the “homecoming queen syndrome.” The show starts with many girls, and ends when one claims the tiara and all her rivals are destroyed. That’s not a healthy message. It becomes destructive when it is portrayed as normal. Treachery and bitterness are a reality, to be sure, but they certainly shouldn’t be presented as goals or as a basis for success in life.

In LadyStar, Jessica and her friends work together as a team to overcome challenges and obstacles. Each character has a different personality and brings different strengths and weaknesses to the group. Throughout the story, the girls put a great deal of effort into learning how to work together. They don’t always agree, but they never become bitter or hostile to each other.

There are no attitudes. There is no unacceptable language. The characters don’t betray or sabotage each other. This basic focus on teamwork becomes very important later in the series because each character develops different powers and fighting abilities. They quickly learn to depend on each other. Jessica Halloran’s adventures powerfully reinforce the values of friendship and teamwork chapter after chapter.

We’ve never had a problem teaching young boys the vital importance of teamwork. There is no reason we can’t teach exactly the same values to girls. Communicating those values is one of the reasons I write these books. You can be sure when I write an adventure series for boys, teamwork will be one of its core values as well.

But teamwork alone isn’t enough.

LadyStar for Warrior Moms and Warrior Dads Chapter One

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for considering the LadyStar™ fantasy adventure series. LadyStar for Warrior Moms and Warrior Dads will take no longer than fifteen minutes to read. It will describe why I believe the LadyStar series is important, and why I think my characters will serve to inspire, strengthen and encourage young readers like your child.

When we started this project all the way back in the summer of 1998, we knew we were setting some pretty ambitious goals for ourselves. My artists, my editor and my technical staff are some of the best in the world at what they do, and now I believe we’ve succeeded in launching one of the best action-adventure book series available today.

My name is Shane Lochlann Black. I’m a science-fiction and fantasy adventure author. I’ve been writing professionally for video games, television, major corporations and my own publishing company for more than 25 years. I’ve written and published more than 90 books in the last seven years. I’ve worked in animated television, children’s educational and interactive software and merchandising and licensing for numerous popular characters. I hold the degree of Bachelor of Arts in English Education. I’m academically qualified to teach the English language up to the high school level. My university emphasis was creative writing. Both my parents were award-winning television and newspaper journalists, so I come by my writing talent honestly.

When I first set out to bring Jessica Halloran and the Ajan Warriors to life, I was in the process of writing an episodic video game script. My company had invented a point-and-click adventure playable in a standard web browser. I needed characters and a story.

My first thought was to license another company’s characters, but that proved to be more expensive and time consuming than I thought it would. So I created a story world called LadyStar.

My first adventure game went on to rather impressive success given its limited production values. It became clear after a while that the characters and world I had created were far larger and had far more potential than just one game. As I explored all the options available to me, I adapted the story to other media and watched it grow. We published a print manga. We published a web comic with more than a quarter million readers. We produced a full line of licensed merchandise. We recorded an audiocast. I wrote a 79,000-word novel which remained my best-selling book for three years. Each time we developed and released a new product, the story got stronger, the characters became more interesting, and the world they inhabited became more vivid. All we needed was something to bring it all together.

So in January of 2017, I sat down to a blank screen to reboot my series. I wrote an original full-length fantasy adventure novel called Dawnsong The Last Skyblade. I believe it is the finest work of my career so far.

Let me explain why.

Weightless Instant Free One-Tap E-Book Delivery to Any Mobile Device

So there you are. You’ve just sold your first book from your very own bookstore. Your customer has a download link. And then everything comes to a screeching halt.

How do they read your book? Where is the book? How do they get it from your store to their device? Who’s brilliant idea was this?

The little bridge that separates the teeming hordes of readers from the teeming hordes of ambitious authors is book delivery. Without it, no books get to readers, and that makes everyone sad. So how do we get a book from our own store to a phone or a tablet?

Long ago, some smart people got together and created something called “extensible markup language.” It combined all the best parts of HTML with all the best parts of application development, and gave developers a way to publish arbitrary data in a standard way. You’ve used XML quite a bit if you’ve ever visited a podcast menu or read an EPUB or visited a site with a sitemap. Mobile apps use XML as a versatile data format.

XML is going to help you build that bridge between your store and your customer’s mobile device with a protocol called the Open Publication Distribution System. The Android phone screenshots you see here are the OPDS menus in an application called Moon+ Reader. The “Net Library” feature of this and other EPUB readers like Aldiko allows a user to subscribe to an OPDS feed the same way they subscribe to an RSS feed. Instead of a list of articles, they get a list of books. When they tap on the books, they are downloaded to the mobile device and immediately available to read.

If you think about it, this is exactly the same mechanism all other retail electronic bookstores use to distribute e-books to mobile devices.

The tablet screenshot is from Aldiko running on the Kindle Fire.

You’ll also notice that some heavyweight book publishers out there, including the Gutenberg Project and Smashwords, use OPDS-compatible feeds not only to distribute books, but to sell them too. Now it is possible, naturally, to give a reader a download link and let them sideload their book, but a feed is better for a number of reasons. My store uses it to maintain a catalog of purchased books for each customer on a cloud server. Since this is their continuously updated list of available books, I can even throw in some freebies, newsletters, or pretty much anything else I want my readers to download and try out. All I have to do is add it to their feed and it’s delivered.

Now you might be asking yourself why any author would want to go to all this trouble just to get books to their customers. Couldn’t someone else handle that for you? Sure they could, and they’re going to charge you an unbelievable amount of money to do it. In fact, the more books you sell, the more it’s going to cost you. Now are you really going to pay someone large sums of money on a regular basis to perform a service this simple?

For the time being, maintaining feeds for your customers is going to be a manual process. However, getting a standardized e-commerce service like Shopify to “notify” your site and update a database when you sell a book is a rather straightforward technical feature. For that matter, setting up a nice front-end for the service on your feed server is equally simple for a moderately capable web developer. OPDS feeds are all text and can be automatically generated by a database. As my Digital Bookshelf service grows, I’ll need to write that software for my cloud server and perhaps I’ll be able to make it available to other shops.

For most authors, this is the last piece of the “open your own bookstore” puzzle. Publishing content directly to mobile devices (and desktops for that matter) is quite powerful, as any YouTube channel owner will tell you. From there, it’s a simple matter of training your readers to use it and fielding the occasional technical support request.

The main reward for this extra work is that those readers are your customers. And isn’t that ultimately what every author wants?

Take a look at my other articles on how to open your own bookstore:

P.S. This is Moon+ Reader running like a Swiss clock factory on a Kindle Fire and wow, does it make my books look good!

Devils Demons and Dead Men Chapter Three

The following is a free chapter from the first book in my Kings and Conquests LitRPG series Devils Demons and Dead Men, available now at the Palace in the Sky Bookstore.


“You tell him, Harlan! You tell him it came straight from me! You publish that story and so help me there won’t be anything left of your so-called ‘news’ site but a forwarding address and a case number!”

The sound of a metal file cabinet drawer slamming shut made just about every employee in the Fairly Unusual Games office common area jump in their chairs. Nine people stared at each other in silence as Executive Vice-President Brace Coogan raged into the handset of his 1948 black desk model phone.

“You want a million-dollar kick in the–Yeah? Well I’ve got the boots for it! You tell him he better think twice! Wait! What? You’ve got no proof of that! Unnamed source? You got an unnamed source? Well I’ve got a subpoena. Ask your attorney what that means!”

The roaring sound of Coogan’s voice filled the air ducts and empty spaces in Fairly Unusual’s fourth floor offices. It was like hearing dogs fighting with clubs and small arms in an upstairs apartment. The fact the VP looked like a bulldog with a gray buzzcut only added to the entertainment value. It was at times like these work on anything important came to a complete halt. Brace Coogan’s voice had an edge to it that could bend reality if he really got going.

“I’ll make it really simple for you, Harlan! You publish that story and we pull all our advertising for the next year! See if your unnamed source can plug a four million dollar hole! You’ve been warned, pal! That story goes live and your grandchildren will be answering motions in the libel case!”

The sound of the bakelite handset slamming into the hook actually shifted items on nearby shelves. A ringing sound hung in the air.

Coogan emerged from his office like a deranged wrestler from a black-and-white television sports broadcast. “Cindy! Where the he–!” He stopped when he saw his petrified assistant rigid in her chair like she was trying to avoid awakening a spider on her shoulder. Coogan’s tan sports coat, navy slacks and dress shoes completed the image of a man who could have easily just stepped out of a Nixon-era police drama. “Get senior management on the horn. We need to notify the board as well.”

Cindy nodded without waking the spider up. Coogan stalked back into his office and slammed the door. He barely avoided shattering the double-pane inset window displaying his name and title.

The developers stared at the office staff, as if the half dozen young men and women tasked with keeping the bills paid and the lights on in the relatively tiny 40-person company would fare any better explaining what had just happened.

“That’s the third executive meeting this week,” one of the accounts payable assistants said quietly.

“Keep those resumes updated,” Cindy replied as she flipped through her list of numbers and e-mail addresses titled “call in case of emergency.” The Executive Administrative Assistant knew the real title of the list should be “people who don’t like to be called when there’s an emergency” or “people who look for the slightest excuse to yell at the Executive Assistant.”

She sighed and began dialing.

Devils Demons and Dead Men is available now at the Palace in the Sky Bookstore!

Goodbye Google

After another 45 minutes fighting with my analytics dashboard, I have extricated Google Analytics from all my web properties forever. I’m this far from blocking Google entirely at the router. Yes, that means my sites won’t show up in search, but I’m not convinced showing up in Google searches matters any more.

Yeah, I know. There’s some genius on YouTube who uses analytics and search consoles and webmaster tools and super-technical-gee-whiz-wowEEEEEEEEEEEEMONEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE except I know better. Google has constructed a giant taffy wad of unintelligible nonsense designed to consume time and return nothing. Analytics used to be a good product, but now we’re back to the social media thing: Solve a puzzle, win a prize. The only problem is, there is nothing Google offers that will help you in the slightest when it comes to selling products. That is unless you think spending $2.40 a click for traffic makes sense on any planet populated by humans.

You see, when I look at Google analytics I notice almost all of the traffic Google says I’m getting is from fake referrals. Remember kids, Google is a $760 billion company with buildings full of PhDs. They only hire the smartest people in the world, yet somehow they are getting outmaneuvered by teenagers who can fake referral traffic with a couple dozen lines of Python code.

Why isn’t this fake traffic being automatically deleted from my reports? This has been going on for months. Why is it when I set up a segment or a filter and say “block everything from this host name” it doesn’t block anything? Google does a phenomenal job lording itself over our e-mail, but I suppose controlling your e-mail is more important than controlling your web site.

You know, with my new server I have access to my own web logs now. How long would it take me to write a Perl script to get accurate traffic data? An afternoon? And then I’ll be able to customize my reports any way I like.

If you’re in business for yourself, this is one of the most important things you can do to make your enterprise more efficient. Don’t invest time or treasure in anything that doesn’t give you a bankable return on that investment. When you find yourself standing in the surf filling buckets with seawater and emptying them back into the ocean, it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself if you’re getting any benefit.

One thing you can be certain of: The technology industry excels at handing you a box of blinkenlights that doesn’t do anything useful. They also really enjoy charging you a lot of money for it too. Google analytics is just the most recent example. It is an utterly useless service now, which perfectly explains its affordable price. Free and worth every penny.

Doesn’t Google have artificial intelligence and self-driving cars? Aren’t they the self-appointed Internet Police? and aren’t they SO MUCH SMARTER THAN YOU ARE?

Or maybe they aren’t. Perhaps that’s the lesson here. Either way, they’re out in the parking lot with a cardboard box as far as this little gray duck’s web sites are concerned. Black out.

The Incredible Untold Story of Sailor Moon Chapter Ten: Sailor Moon and Cartoon Network

The following is a free chapter from my book The Incredible Untold Story of Sailor Moon, available now at the Palace in the Sky Bookstore.


This One Goes Out to All the Ladies
Sailor Moon and Cartoon Network


Gather ‘round. I’m going to tell you a story of ancient times when the geeks of the world had to discover their animated television shows using strange technologies and great patience.

Television signals used to be transmitted on the same electromagnetic spectrum as radio. Channels were actually “frequencies.” Television sets were just big radio receivers designed to pick up those frequencies on certain pre-determined channel numbers and display whatever was transmitted on the screen. Televisions were big mobile phones. They even operated in roughly the same broadcast bands.

One of the problems with early television was a lot of companies wanted to build TV stations and broadcast their own programming, but there wasn’t enough room on the electromagnetic spectrum to fit the channels. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which was in charge of licensing television broadcasts, had only opened up frequencies in the VHF or “Very High Frequency” band.

But there was a second band called UHF or “Ultra High Frequency” that had roughly half the range of VHF and was only included on some TV sets. This was where everyone except the big networks had to go if they wanted to broadcast a television signal. It was the band for “independent” television stations.

UHF didn’t do very well until the All-Channel Receiver Act of 1964 mandated that every television set had to be manufactured with the ability to receive television broadcasts on all channels, including both VHF and UHF. Now at least those UHF stations could be certain their signal would be received by every new television.

PBS, foreign language channels like the precursor to Univision, various religious channels and other independent broadcasters sprang up all over the country. In 1970, a guy named Ted Turner acquired Atlanta, Georgia channel 17, which eventually found its way to satellite and became TBS, the “Superstation.” Fox Television was formed by assembling a number of disparate UHF stations into a fourth commercial network.

On the UHF band there was a station in Southern California called KBSC Channel 52. “This is Kaiser Broadcasting, KBSC-TV channel 52, Corona-Los Angeles.” They started their day at three in the afternoon and ran until midnight. The shows they chose to broadcast may very well have given birth to geekdom in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan television market.

Their headline show was Speed Racer.

They also had “The Underdog Show” which was a series of short cartoons. Underdog episodes bracketed a 30-minute broadcast including intervening shorts starring Tennessee Tuxedo, Commander McBragg, Go-Go Gophers and various other characters produced by Gamma Productions. Channel 52 also had Kimba the White Lion, The Three Stooges, The Little Rascals, Felix the Cat, Ultraman, Gigantor and Giant Robot.

If you are wondering why video games, animation, comic books and weird television shows have taken over entertainment in the 21st century, it’s because everyone in charge of the entertainment business now in 2014 grew up watching channels like KBSC Channel 52. When they got older, they all took up Dungeons and Dragons. Then they got jobs running entertainment companies.

Channels like KBSC 52 are also where every single one of them discovered anime.

I know it’s hard to imagine, but this was a time when there was no such thing as an anime convention. There was no Star Wars. There wasn’t even record-able television. The VHS video recorder was years away. There was an Internet, but there were about 19 people with access to it and 18 of them were college professors. There was literally nowhere else in the world except Japan where a kid from Southern California could see anime.

But once they discovered it, they discovered something about cartoons they hadn’t previously realized was even possible. Cartoons weren’t just funny. They were cool. The Mach Five was a revelation to the average ten-year-old boy. A car with super-powers? Sold. They didn’t even care what the show was about any more. All they wanted to do was get to the next episode so they could see what else Speed Racer’s car could do. After all, there were seven buttons on that steering wheel!

Speed Racer also had a unique animation style. Viewers in America got it at once. They understood what the animators were trying to get across, and they responded by desperately wanting to become obsessive Speed Racer fans. This vaulted them into being fans of just about everything else from Japan, including all those great toys that were too expensive for their parents to even consider buying. That stopped none of them from wishing they could own the die-cast painted steel Mach Five with real rubber tires that was about the size of the average radio-controlled cars soon to be marketed to those same boys. Oh sure, it would cost $300 and have to be shipped on a cargo boat from some faraway land, but they didn’t care. It was the Mach Five!

What followed was rather predictable. Godzilla became a household name. Johnny Sokko and UNICORN were sudden superstars. Everyone who grew up watching Channel 52 remembers the giant eye and the rolling iron ball with arms and legs from Giant Robot. Underdog was awesome. They watched the same nine episodes of Little Rascals for months. Why, they even became fans of roller derby, even though nobody seemed to be able to explain the rules. Nobody cared. It was on Channel 52. It was cool because it’s the same channel Speed Racer was on.

KBSC Channel 52 Corona-Los Angeles was the original Toonami.

Fast forward twenty years. It’s not broadcast television any more. Now it’s all about cable, and there was a fast-growing little channel called Cartoon Network getting ready to knock cable television on its ear.

In 1986, Turner Broadcasting (remember Ted Turner buying that UHF station in Atlanta?) bought the MGM Film Library. Included with it was a collection of cartoons like Looney Tunes, Merrie Melodies and Popeye. Later, Turner Entertainment bought Hanna-Barbera and added Scooby Doo, The Flintstones, Yogi Bear and The Jetsons. They suddenly found themselves owning one of the largest animated television libraries in the country with 8500 hours of programming. So what did they do with it? Simple. They started a cable channel with nothing but cartoons.

Cartoon Network was by no means the only channel interested in capturing the ever-profitable children’s broadcast market. Nickelodeon had several successful shows of their own, including Doug, Ren and Stimpy and Rugrats. They would later go on to bring a certain sponge to animation, but that’s another chapter. The Disney Channel and the Family Channel had also thrown their hats in the ring. It was going to be a short, expensive and rather angry competition, but the late 1990s was shaping up to be the battle of the cartoons.

Except that one of the competitors had an insight and an historical perspective the others lacked.

Events in the early 1990s and the deal that brought Sailor Moon to the United States and the English-language television market had placed anime squarely on the radar screens of those who were taking the time to pay attention. By 1996, Sailor Moon’s syndication deal had run its course and the fortunes of the show were beginning to lag behind others of its type. What DIC and Program Exchange didn’t realize at the time was the transition of the television industry was about to give them an opportunity they couldn’t possibly have envisioned when the first plans to broadcast Sailor Moon in English-speaking territories were drawn up.

Cartoon Network’s first completely “ridiculous” idea was Space Ghost Coast to Coast. This was essentially the first YouTube parody. It featured a bunch of re-purposed superhero animation footage intercut with live “guests.” It was snarky and silly and a gigantic hit with exactly the wrong audience: adults.

Turner Broadcasting was not a company terribly interested in the status quo. Ted Turner had always been a maverick, and his tendency to do things that didn’t make any sense to his colleagues or the rest of the industry was well known. He was the first to bring the world 24-hour news coverage. He was also the first to bring the world 24-hour cartoons. Some might argue one had more than its share of influence on the other, but nobody can argue with the success of either approach.

A note was made on someone’s desk in someone’s important notebook that maybe they ought to do a little thinking about this whole “cartoons for adults” thing. It didn’t take very long.

Cartoon Network Studios was the source of the What a Cartoon! show. It was 1995. The idea behind What a Cartoon! was to invite independent animators to put something new and interesting forward. Cartoon Network had actually taken a first step towards putting creative people in charge of being creative. “Lunacy!” shouted the other stations and companies. “Only executives and rich people are capable of entertaining the masses!” “Well,” replied Cartoon Network, “we’ll just have to see about that.”

The first show they came up with was Dexter’s Laboratory. It was rapidly followed by Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken and later shows like Courage, the Cowardly Dog and The Powerpuff Girls. All of them were later combined to form Cartoon Cartoons. They would go on to make animation a prime time ratings powerhouse.

Cartoon Cartoons were an industry-changing milestone. The reason was the creators of these shows were able to synthesize animation entertaining for children with writing entertaining to their parents. This was a wild idea that would have been absolutely impossible to even discuss if Cartoon Network had been trying to program a broadcast network. But, cable television wasn’t regulated by the FCC, so they could get away with things broadcast networks couldn’t even touch.

Using this synthesis model, the first punch Cartoon Network threw basically knocked their competition cold. The reason was they weren’t trying to come up with programming for kids. They were trying to come up with programming for whoever would watch it. This forced them to think in ways that weren’t familiar to traditional animation production companies. That’s why they were able to create shows about flying five-year-old girls beating up villainous monkeys.

But more than this was the fact there was a unique energy to it all. Fans of one show were very often fans of several shows for roughly the same reasons. When an episode of Dial M for Monkey came on, a viewer could almost sense the echoes of The Powerpuff Girls and Dexter’s Laboratory in it. All of the shows benefited from this effect. Johnny Bravo and Courage even saw increased interest. It gave these new upstart shows a sensibility and an edge that other animation seemed to lack. It was almost as if the creators of the shows understood their audiences. Well, it turns out they did understand their audiences much better than anyone thought.

With the success of these original shows and the growth of the network as a result, Cartoon Network had already caused a huge shift in the entire business of animated entertainment. Then, in 1997, at almost exactly the same moment Sailor Moon’s syndication deal had lost most of its energy, Cartoon Network began airing a block of programming called Toonami.

Sailor Moon’s history in the 1990s was one of timing. The character set off a merchandising explosion in Japan at precisely the right moment to change the course of the American comic industry (and, as it turns out, everything else in entertainment), the show came to the United States at exactly the right moment to serve as the vanguard for the anime movement of the late 90s and early 21st century, and now, it was running out of syndicated mojo at exactly the right moment for Cartoon Network to say “hey, what if we put some anime shows in a new action block on our network in the afternoons?”

Every entertainment industry veteran knows their business is all about timing. As Bill Moyers pointed out in Empire of Dreams, a documentary of the making of the original Star Wars Trilogy, (paraphrasing) “If you bring Star Wars out too early, it’s Buck Rogers. If you bring it out too late, it doesn’t capture our imaginations. But if you bring it out right when the [Vietnam] war is ending, when the old stories have died. Suddenly, it’s a new game.”

Cartoons and animation have always prospered when their timing is right. In the 1970s and 1980s, the best cartoons were always on at about three o’s clock in the afternoon, when all the kids were getting home from school. That, or Saturday morning, when all the kids were eating breakfast. This was the golden age of the children’s television trifecta: breakfast cereal, cartoons and toy commercials.

Remember KBSC started its programming day at 3PM. That wasn’t a mistake. They knew their audience. Their scheduling approach, however, would only work if they could coordinate it across a network. This was the key thing Cartoon Network could offer Sailor Moon that a syndication deal could not. David E. Nelson pointed out the differences between the syndicated approach and the network approach when he said “the different manner in which Irwin’s toys [and Sailor Moon in general] performed in the US and Canada really reflects the exposure that audiences in each country got to the show itself, due to the different distribution philosophies used in each country.” His insight would later prove true. When the relative success of the syndicated version of Sailor Moon is compared to the Toonami version, the results are beyond dispute.

These observations were not lost on Cartoon Network. The idea of running cartoons 24-hours-a-day was incredibly silly from an advertising standpoint. Nobody is going to run a toy commercial at 11:30PM when every single kid in America is asleep. But they all knew a toy commercial broadcast eight hours earlier was a wheelbarrow full of solid 24-karat gold coins with pictures of money stamped on them.

Cartoon Network had taken two swipes at the “action afternoon block” concept before. It started as the “Power Zone” which was version two of “Super Adventures” which debuted when the network signed on in 1992.

Even in 1997, the Toonami lineup was pretty grim. Voltron, Jonny Quest and The Thundercats were scheduled alongside a witches brew of weird re-purposed leftovers called Cartoon Roulette. The show was hosted by Moltar, a villain from the original Space Ghost show.

One year later, they discovered anime. More importantly, they put it on the air at 4PM nationwide. Leading the block was one Sailor Moon aka Usagi Tsukino and her 82-episode two-season show that until then had been obscured by unfortunate syndication scheduling. Anchoring the other half of the two hour lineup was Dragonball Z, an anime series consisting of about 18,000 episodes which was essentially Sailor Moon for boys.

Remember that first punch when Cartoon Network knocked all their competition cold? This time, they took an iron fist the size of Mount Rushmore and smashed the competition flat. Dan Bednarski, publisher of a prominent Sailor Moon fan site said “chances are that the majority of people who are asked when they first watched Sailor Moon will answer they saw it on Toonami.” This is true of a number of series. The spotlight was brightest at the 4PM and 5PM anchor slots.

Once again, Cartoon Network was about to benefit from advantageous timing. While they were assembling the pieces of Toonami into a legendary weapon, Time Warner, the company that had purchased Turner Broadcasting (and Cartoon Network) in 1996 had been experimenting with its own kids programming block called Kids WB. It didn’t work out as well as Cartoon Network’s version, but it did feature a little show called Pokemon. The first broadcast of Pokemon in the U.S. was September 8, 1998, only a few months into Sailor Moon’s run on Toonami.

What Pokemon did was bring a marketing angle into the world of U.S. adapted anime that was simply brilliant. There was a collectible card game, video games and merchandise of every kind. The frenzy among the exact market sought by shows like Sailor Moon and the rest of the Toonami block created a positive feedback loop that resembled one of Dragonball Z’s five-episode power-ups. Pokemon was about pets, which appealed to girls. The pets fought each other, which appealed to boys. It had an “evil genius level 12″ marketing plan, which was collectible pets. And it was a TV show, video game and merchandising campaign all at once. Pokemon swept the land like a push broom.

By 2003, Pokemon was worth more than the gross domestic product of Denmark. Thirty billion dollars. It took five years. Any fan of Pokemon looking for more anime to watch didn’t have to go far. Cartoon Network had coincidentally just started scheduling anime five days a week in the Toonami block.

The results were immediate, but not just because Pokemon was making a lot of money. Everything converged around Sailor Moon at exactly the right moment.

Sailor Moon had an unparalleled Internet presence, which meant anyone who “found” the show could find volumes of information about it.

Sailor Moon was also a top 100 Usenet group.

Sailor Moon was on at the exact center of kids prime time: 4PM weekdays nationwide.

Sailor Moon was on what was about to become the number one cable channel in the United States.

Add to these the fact it was the show that had spearheaded a ten-figure merchandising blitz in Japan, and you had the perfect set of circumstances for a breakout hit.

These events should not be too quickly overlooked, because they demonstrate something unique about the entertainment business. Toonami was Sailor Moon’s “Silver Age.” The Golden Age was its original run in Japan. In the space of one year, Sailor Moon had gone from a largely failed syndicated show to one of the anchors of the most dynamic programming block in all of children’s television. It was the second act to end all second acts. Toonami gave the show the visibility it needed, and Cartoon Network’s reach gave it clout.

Once again, the old adage about timing had been proven beyond all doubt. In 1997, it would have been very easy for the average executive to dismiss Sailor Moon as tried and failed. By early 1999, the show had over 100 million fans worldwide.

Then the ratings were measured, and the results floored everyone. Even Cartoon Network. By 1998, 82 episodes of Sailor Moon had been dubbed. This included the original 65-episode syndication package produced by DIC and the 17 episode balance of the second season.

During its run on Toonami, between 1998 and 1999, the 82-episode run was broadcast seven times. That means anyone who watched the show from the first Toonami episode to the last ended up watching the first and second seasons of the show seven times each.

Not once during that 560-plus episode run did the ratings drop below a 0.5. That means at least a half-million U.S. households sat through the same series of 82 episodes seven times. This was Star Trek level dedication that nobody was expecting, especially from an anime show most people had never heard of.

It proved there was a loyal fanbase in the United States that logically could not have come from Cartoon Network itself. These were fans that were already there and were already invested. Even if the television world didn’t understand it, the results were clear and could not be waved aside or dismissed. Half a million households! It was a tiny fraction of the audience that populated the Internet.

The 21st century was right around the corner, and Sailor Moon was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.

The Incredible Untold Story of Sailor Moon is available now at the Palace in the Sky Bookstore!

Am I Part of a Trend?

Seems I’m not the only one who has had enough of social media. Can’t say I’m surprised. Even Forbes looked like it was in on the trend until the writer decided to add 1000 words of “you’re doing it wrong.”

Folks, there is nothing you can do to make social media better. Twitter and Facebook (and all the other noise-hoses) have a vested interest in keeping your stuff invisible. They don’t want people to click away to some other site. They want to keep them on Twitter and Facebook so they can show them ads. That way they get paid when someone clicks or taps away.

Social media is central control on a platform that was specifically designed to prevent central control. Here’s the basics: Big tech knows what the individuals on the web want. Everyone wants their stuff to get attention. Attention is the currency of the Internet. Big Tech hoards attention and uses it to reward their sharecroppers in exactly the same way medieval kings hoarded gold, land and wealth. Their rules are just like your boss’ rules: never pay ’em enough to sue you.

You know what the first thing is central control does when they get control? They make you invisible, and then they force you to work for them in order to get your visibility back. Except you never actually get your visibility back. You sure do waste a lot of unpaid time making their sites better and sending them free traffic, though.

If you are trying to get traffic to your site, social media is competing with you. They are not cooperating with you. Stop. Unplug it. Stop spending your treasure on “post boosts” and dollar-a-click ads. Stop trying to pick better hashtags. Twitter has an automated system designed to make everything you post there invisible, no matter what hashtag you pick. So does Facebook and every other social noise site.

Here’s the good news: If all the social media sites disappeared tomorrow (from my pen to God’s ears), the Internet itself would shrug and reach for another chicken salad sandwich. AOL came and went. Myspace came and went (and incinerated $500 million in the process). Google+ came and went. The “portal” thing came and went. Internet’s still here, and the basic technology hasn’t changed much. The web, links and e-mail all work pretty much the same way they ever did.

If you want to get your message out, you have everything you need. You don’t need social media.

Public Photography Permit

Hey folks. If you ever find yourself out in public confronted by an officially officious official, and you are asked for your permit to record video or photograph in public, bookmark this article on your phone and feel free to present it as your permit. You may also optionally choose to read it out loud.

United States Public Photography Permit

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

— First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

— Article VI, Section 2 of the Constitution of the United States

Big on the Interwebs

Now that I’m done with social media, I’m putting my blogroll back online.

I dumped Twitter yesterday after the third locked account warning in as many days. If I’m going to publish something, why would I put it on someone else’s site first? That’s the question you should be asking yourself if you actually believe social media performs any useful function other than wasting time.