Bits'n' Pieces: New comic book series will chronicle U.S. armed forces

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photoBluewater Comics

In the spirit of Memorial Day, a Vancouver publisher is saluting the nation's armed forces.

Bluewater Comics has started an "American Defenders" series that opens with the history of the U.S. Army.

Darren G. Davis, president and editor in chief, said "American Defenders: The U.S. Army" is an institutional biography.

"It's not about individuals. It's a history of how the Army was formed, and, through the years, up to what's going on currently," Davis said.

The project started about a year ago, Davis said. The other service branches will be the focus of later editions.

The $3.99 printed version is available through two Vancouver stores -- Odyssey Comics and Coffee, and I Like Comics -- as well as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. An e-book version is available for $1.99.

Bluewater recently signed a deal to produce a "special-ops" fictional comics series in partnership with Soldier of Fortune magazine.

More information is at www.bluewaterprod.com.

— Tom Vogt

'Cowboy singer' came late to guitar pickin'

Dan Weber used to stare at his guitar. "I never played the thing," he said. "I just lugged it through life."

Until a musical friend insisted on a lesson. "I just started writing songs," Weber said. "And about six years ago, I started seriously sitting down and getting into it. I just felt like, 'This is fascinating to me now.'" At the "ripe old age of 40," he said, he decided to debut at a local open mic.

How'd it go? "Awful. Just awful." Then he played another. "It was worse than the first."

But something eventually must have gone right -- because Weber wound up winning an open mic contest. That was about four years ago, and he never looked back. Now 44, Weber has released two country-flavored albums -- the latest this past February -- and acquired a fan base that has spread the word to radio stations and other venues all around North America. One fan, Doug "Spud" Henderson, a Portland MAX train driver, first alerted The Columbian to Weber's burgeoning career. You can have a listen at danwebermusic.com.

"It's funny, my music keeps popping up in different places. It's snowballing into its own thing," Weber said. Meanwhile, he's kept his flexible day job as a real estate appraiser. It allows him the time to travel and play as well as pay the bills.

Weber's next stop: the Kerrville (Texas) Folk Festival on May 27. He's a finalist in the New Folk Artist contest. "I'll just be the best Dan Weber I can be," he said. "I'm the accidental musician, I guess."

— Scott Hewitt

Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email bits@columbian.com.