I can't help it, I'm addicted to comics. Ever since I was a preadolescent youth, I have loved the art and dialog of comic book super heroes. Vision and Scarlet Witch were never my favorite characters, but for being secondary characters to the Avengers, they were interesting. And with Disney taking control over Marvel Studios, while wishing to dominate the "Superhero" genre, WandaVision is a very cool TV show on Disney Plus. It's well thought out and satisfying.
As I continue to build the "Russ Maines brand", you should know not only am I a musician and songwriter, but I'm also an engineer fascinated by the far reaching vision of artists. I was so motivated as a kid, I created my own superhero characters and sent them to Marvel Comics Group while they were still headquartered in New York. They flat out rejected my characters and said they couldn't pay a child to do art professionally.Heartbroken, I never drew another superhero again. And I stopped reading Marvel comics. But, I've never met anyone in my life who'd ever took a big swing like that as a kid. I wish I held on to the letter.
Sometimes adults don't understand the impact they have on kids who have dreams of being part of something bigger than themselves. You know? But these kinds of rejections made me work harder. And made me work smarter.
In the 1990's when the animated X-Men came out, I got excited again! At this time, I was taking organic chemistry in college going part time. And I started drawing dynamic figures again. I wrote a letter to Stan Lee thanking him for giving me the cool characters like Spider-Man and the Hulk. He sent me his business card, and signed it. I still have that card, and the envelope it came in. And I began collecting the X-Men Omega series, which I also still have.
It was this time in my life, when I was working full-time and going to college part-time, as I could afford. Music, which was always my go to for self-expression popped back up in my life, and I started taking the guitar a bit more seriously.
I traded in my Marshall stack, bought an Ovation 12-string guitar and got a multi-channel tape recorder. And I began trying to write songs. None of them are worth listening to.
My first gig featuring original music was held at the local comedy club in Palmyra, New Jersey. I didn't get paid, and I just did it for the experience. But I met a few guys and we began to play rock. So, a bought a small Crate practice amp, and figured I'd see what happened.
Well, what happened next was the economy crashed. I was two weeks away from losing my job, and I called my dad to ask for some advice. It seemed like every time I was on to something, life happened.
My dad told me to quit my job go to school and I could live with him for a few weeks before school started. I applied to New Mexico Tech, and I got in (barely). My dad said by the time the economy started up again, surely I'd be able to get a job. He also told me it was better to be self employed because I'd get paid better.
Anyway, I went to school, and got two engineering degrees. I failed a number of classes and had to take them a few times to understand what was what. I figured academics are smart, but surely they don't know how to turn a wrench (and I was right about that). You see, I was a very bad student unless the subject was interesting to me. I hated that I needed to take classes to "round out my education". And the one thing my education never taught me was how to make money, how to use tax law to my advantage. Looking back, I learned much of that stuff on the farm.
This is a long blog, right? Why am I writing it? Well, let's go back to WandaVision head line and the comics. The reason I'm writing this blog is simple: Never give up.
In the WandaVision show, Vision sacrifices himself to save mankind. So did Ironman, and so did Black Widow. Ironman gets all the credit because of his big money and super stardom. And Wanda, the Scarlet Witch, can't deal with his loss, keeps him alive in a reality bubble, where more trouble brews.
But Vision's desire for independence is why he always ends up dead. He doesn't have any rights because he's an artificial life form. He is always in bondage. So, his only real choice is to live, or die. And when he dies, its always for a noble cause.
What I'm saying is this: creating music and getting it to sound professional has always been a dream of mine. Making some revenue at the same time would be useful as well. I won't give up, and I'll keep sacrificing until one day I die trying. That's how much it means to me.
I hope you have something in your life that you also are pursuing with all your ability as well. It brings resiliency, toughness, and perspective you may not get at your job. I wish you all the success and happiness you've worked so hard for.
All of my inspiration has come from superheroes. But that doesn't make them any less real.