Retired wine writer Steve Heimoff wrote for Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast. However, the direction of his blog and his writing changed as he grew.
Listen to our conversation and hear the story of a writer who married his two loves into an amazing career.
Our story begins in New York City where Steve was born. He moved to California in the late 1970s to attend graduate school.
Steve finished school with an MA in Educational Technology. Meanwhile his love of wine was about to begin. In particular a lifelong education that would define his career.
In short, it all started with a trip to the grocery store. At the time Steve believed that all wine tasted the same. However his sister changed his mind with one statement.
“There is a difference between which bottle you choose,” she said. After that day Steve never chose a bottle of wine without looking at it.
Becoming a Writer
After four years directing a Career Planning and Placement Center at a Bay Area college, he switched direction. Steve decided to combine his two loves — wine and writing — into one career. In this case it was wine writing.
Steve was successful and became one of the nation’s pre-eminent wine writers/critics/personalities. He is the author of A Wine Journey along the Russian River and New Classic Winemakers of California: Conversations with Steve Heimoff
Steve retired in 2016 and now lives contentedly with his little dog, Gus, in the lively city of Oakland. His hobbies include weightlifting, improv and writing his political blog, steveheimoff.com.
I know that I am having a good conversation with someone when I can share a genuine laugh. I don’t know how many times Dave Campbell and I laughed during our talk, but I do know that each time felt like an authentic connection with a committed artist.
Finding a Faith-Based Writing Partner
Dave spoke honestly about pursuing his dream of drawing a comic that was faith-based. There were false starts and interruptions. But things changed when he met writer Jeff Williams at a men’s bible study. That was the beginning of a commitment to start and finish a graphic novel they would eventually title The Calling.
Making a Commitment
Through it all Dave and Jeff knew that everyone from that men’s group remembered their conversation. Dave knew that every night when he came home from work that his children were watching him sit down to draw. He knew that they would be watching if he stopped.
Sharing the Calling
Dave matched that commitment with a website where he promised that every Monday he and Jeff would publish a new page from The Calling. Week after week, page after page, their comic grew into a published graphic novel. Single issues followed, and later a trailer.
Your next Mission, Should you Choose to accept
But, the mission wasn’t over. By now, Dave’s daughter was a self-published author currently enrolled at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. She approached her dad about developing a comic together. She writes and he draws. The result is Groovy U.
What’s Your Calling?
In The Calling, Silk is a rising star in a street gang who experiences a Saul-to-Paul conversion that mirrors the story of Christianity’s prolific New Testament author. But, accepting a mission from God does not always look the way you think.
How Groovy are U?
Groovy U is the story of Grovingston freshman Kacy Spade. Kacy is infiltrating her campus as a member of the ancient assassins The Order of the Blackhood which are contradicted by her introduction to The Way. How Kacy chooses to respond will change the course of her life.
God Allows u-turns
The books are stories about changing your direction when your beliefs are challenged. A theme that Dave knows can be hard to address in comic books without becoming a reason to disengage. Which means addressing the challenge of seeing how far he and the writers can take a story without losing credibility. It’s a responsibility he is willing to accept.
The Future is in the Branding
Along the way, Dave has discovered how to market his books online, through trailers on YouTube, and with his own action figures. His vision for the future is a brand that he wants to continue building when he retires from his day job.
Who is Dave CAmpbell?
Enjoy this brief bio for more about Dave Campbell
Raised in Ecorse, Michigan (Detroit area), Dave Campbell started drawing at an early age. Soon after, he gained an affinity for comics and further developed his drawing skills by using them as reference material. After high school, Dave went to the University of Michigan’s School of Art & Design, where he earned a BFA degree in graphic design.
In his adult life, Dave has worked at design firms, managed in-house art departments, pursued a career in music, and even started a team uniform company which he operated for 5 years. Through all of this, Dave never lost his love for the comics, which led to co-creating The Calling with writing partner Jeff Williams.
He is currently working on issue #2 of Groovy U, a new series written by his daughter Shelby Campbell. By day Dave works as an associate director of content management for a company that provides insight and analysis for various industries. He resides with his wife and three children in California’s bay area.
Christmas is so much more than a day on the calendar. It is a time of magic and wonder in the eyes of many children and adults. But, Christmas is also a state of mind.
It’s as much a day on the calendar as it is a day of presents and games and celebration.
Yesterday was Christmas Eve.
It was also my father’s birthday.
That morning he woke up in a hospital bed waiting for a scheduled date when he will be wheeled into the operating room for open heart surgery. I don’t think it felt like much of a birthday and today probably doesn’t feel like any Christmas that he remembers or imagined.
But, he also taught me that Christmas like everything else is about perspective. Sometimes seeing past the challenges and complications is about changing the way you are looking.
There are other times when the real trick is learning to change where you are setting your sights when you look.
Christmas may not look like we remember and it may not feel like we expect it should, but it still has the ability to remind us that we can rise above the challenges when we remember that the holiday we celebrate is a reflection of the investment we make to experience it.
About the Guy hosting this podcast:
Seth Singleton is a storyteller.
He is the writing team editor at Blue Alchemy Studios and its upcoming release, Planet Rise and a free-agent writer who works by project and contract.
Seth believes that stories are a common thread that connects us all and that everyone has a story to tell.
To send questions and comments or to contact Seth about a writing or podcast project email him at email@example.com
When we left off our conversation with Jack, a time traveler had arrived from the future, only to find he was not far enough in the past. The computers had taken over. The machines created by the computers attend to everything people needed and it made humans weak. Things sounded grim.
A recurring theme in The First Kingdom is the rise and fall of civilizations and the events that eventually bring about their destruction. A desire for immortality is among the motivations that are often driving the creators and innovators.
One solution created is a memory serum that retains the entire scope of a culture’s knowledge. The serum can be used to share this knowledge with the replicants called Humanoids.
The Humanoids were made by a man who had a near-death experience as a child and wanted to stave off death for everyone. At one point, he takes the memory serum to prevent his own inevitable death.
“Art is the glorification of the human body.”
The Fiction We Know is Replicated
Tarzan is not an original story. According to Jack, there are no original stories. Jack in the Jungle and Jack the Lion Tamer were both written by PT Barnum and are the basis for the Tarzan stories written by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Philip Wiley wrote the Gladiator which Jack believes was the inspiration for Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel’s seminal Superman. Jack even shares a personal story about these two co-creators in the first part of our conversation.
People are Steeped in Ambivalence
Jack is exacerbated by people steeped in the same ambivalence. He believes people are terrified and need to hold on to something. Jack has found the god of Einstein and it has allowed him to focus on completing the Beyond the Beyond.
When Jack met Charles Clarence (C.C). Beck, who was the first artist assigned to draw the character of Captain Marvel, originally dubbed Captain Thunder by writer Bill Parker, “He knew I was supposed to do Captain Marvel Jr.”
“He already knew about me from Bulletman and Bulletdog.”
Jack remembers Beck enjoyed designing swords and hilts, and that he was a “Wonderful little gentleman.” Maybe it has to do with his belief that Captain Marvel was better than Superman.
When Jack wrote his own story of a character with immense power he named it The Last Immortal. He then introduced a girl who was dying of cancer and asked, “What can superpowers do against cancer?”
Matt Baker and Mankind
Jack claims that Baker was the best example of an artist making it in the business. Jack made the mistake of pointing this out to Baker, and when it was overheard — “I lost my job when I said he was too good for this… I said he should be working at Playboy.”
“I loved Matt Baker – admired his ability to draw women. He had a bad heart, and he was a beautiful person.”
He is one of the many artists who inspired Jack to pursue his independent opus The First Kingdom.
“The Kingdom is like a silent mention,” he told me. “One day the world will be ready for substance.”
This includes a trial of the fantasy that we create. As Jack points out, “Mankind can’t handle the situation he is born into — it’s the vicissitude. during the trial the judge is Consciousness. Upon the suggestion that they are all fabrications, Consciousness learns she does not have the authority she thought she had
Our conversation is interrupted by sirens, and then Jack responds that he is unlike the fabricators because “I glorify the human body. It’s our temple. The registry of our identity.”
Cycles – Skywald – dick Giordano
The First Kingdom is 1070 pages. It tells the story of many advanced societies who are brought down by the problems they create.
“When I worked at Skywald,” Jack begins, he developed a jungle character raised by lions, not apes. Jack wanted to give credit to PT Barnum who he admires. Sadly, Barnum was a gifted writer who “took his intelligence to the worst possible places”
So, Jack honored him with the character Zangar.
It was Dick Giordano who visited Jack to make an offer from DC on a new project. Giordano had created the Charlton Comics characters known as the “Action Heroes. He later became the executive editor of DC Comics.
“The only thing interested in was The Imaginator,” Jack said. “(He) Loved the idea, but it never came off and then he died.”
“We are afraid to be original.”
“Society creates its downfall.,” says Jack. “Built-in from the first breath and the pain and carried through trace memories. You cannot get rid of memory. My desire must be rewarded with punishment. It all leads to our own self-destruction.”
“There’s a kind of evil or disassociation,” he continues. “Some people are born without a conscious.”
Hear the rest of the story in the podcast at the top of this post.