Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
In an attempt to get back to my nerd roots, I’ve been seeking out a lot of old sci-fi lately. That’s sci-fi radio, the original Jeckyll & The Time Machine, some old sci-fi short stories … and this here book by Richard Matheson, “Button, Button.”
Mattheson wrote a lot of old Twilight Zone episodes (the few that Serling didn’t write himself), and did the original stories for “I Am Legend,” “Somewhere in Time” and “What Dreams May Come.” The proximate cause for this collection is the movie “The Box,” starring Cameron Diaz, based on the title story “Button, Button.”
The stories themselves cover a lot of ground. The title story feels like original Twilight Zone. In my head, I saw it in black and white, the wife played by Agnes Moorehead or someone like that. The twist is pretty corny, but there are worse ways to pass 20 minutes.
“Girl of My Dreams” reads like an especially dark Twilight Zone … a small-time hood romances a girl who can see the future, and is left with a terrible prophecy for himself. “Mute” is a domestic drama about a mute boy who can read feelings, not words. A few are lighthearted, like “A Flourish of Strumpets,” about a door-to-door prostitution service; and “The Creeping Terror” a truly wacky piece about Los Angeles spreading across the country. I’m not so sure that didn’t happen.
I read this book about six months ago, and I had to get it back out of the library to review it. Danged if I could remember any of the individual stories, other than “Mute” and “Button, Button.” I just have an impression of SO MANY TWIST endings.
In terms of quality, it’s solid. But more than that, the stories tend to be about ideas, rather than being action movies in space, as much of our modern sci-fi is. And it’s an interesting look at the early days of our sci-fi cliches.
Hey, I have a webcomic version of “Downs.” It’s been running for a few months, but I’ve held off promoting it until I could get the site really straight. But you hate to let the “perfect” be the enemy of the “good,” so …
The current storyline is “The Evil Eye” with artist Tom Williams. So check it out, tweet it, facebook it, and thanks.
That’s updating every Sunday at ITradedMyEyes.com.
My impression of SPACE 2013 is actually a series of compliments.
First, there was Bryan (I didn’t catch his last name) from Cincinnati, who told me my current artwork looks a lot better than my stuff from 2006. Generally, I think it’s better, but not wildly better.
Second, I got a couple of good comments on Downs issue 3, “Teckeli” (with art by Boisterous Brent Bowman). One guy said it was a great update of Lovecraftian themes.
On to compliments from me: One of my new favorite things is Parisel313, who kinda bullied me into paying $1 for an unknown number of one-page gag strips. They’re the kind of middle-school margin-doodle comics I remember from the early days of SPACE, but really witty, and with just that right touch of outsider art. Check out Parisel313.
I read a few of those Saturday night, so I was able to shake his hand Sunday and thank him for making the sale.
But my best went to a guy named Gabriel Dunston of Firelights Media. His wife bought one of mine, so I wandered over to his table to see his stuff. We bonded over our childrens’ love of My Little Pony and, even though he’s an Applejack fan, I picked up one of his children’s books.
It’s called “There’s a Monster in the Bathroom” and my daughter loved it. We read it three times, and we actually acted it out. She ran into the bathroom, pretended to see a scary monster, and I pretended to get it.
So I got to tell Gabriel this in person, and I got to see a grown man do a completely unironic fist-pump. “That made my day,” he said.
In other publishing news, friend-of-the-Ferret Terry Eisele’s four-year labor of love, “With Only Five Plums,” is now available through Amazon’s CreateSpace.
Terry describes it thusly:
With Only Five Plums addresses the same themes as Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Joe Kubert’s Yossel, and Miriam Katin’s We Are on Our Own. The story is set in Germany and Czechoslovakia before, during, and after World War II. It is told through the recollections of one of the massacre’s few survivors, Anna Nesporova. The author, Terry Eisele, interviewed Ms. Nesporova on four occasions for a total of almost fifteen hours in the mid-1990s. These interviews provide the foundation of the graphic novel. The story is told in three chapters.
Art is from local boy Jonathon Riddle, who tore out 320 pages to bring this beast to life. There’s a taste at the top of the post.
Terry will be at SPACE if you want to chat with him in person, or head on over to Amazon’s CreateSpace and give him your money right now.
I was saddened yesterday to read that Iain M. Banks, one of my favorite authors, has late-stage cancer.
I have cancer. It started in my gall bladder, has infected both lobes of my liver and probably also my pancreas and some lymph nodes, plus one tumour is massed around a group of major blood vessels in the same volume, effectively ruling out any chance of surgery to remove the tumours either in the short or long term.
The bottom line, now, I’m afraid, is that as a late stage gall bladder cancer patient, I’m expected to live for ‘several months’ and it’s extremely unlikely I’ll live beyond a year. So it looks like my latest novel, The Quarry, will be my last.
The loss of a human life is always sad. I could easily write this post about Roger Ebert, Carmine Infantino, or my friend Courtney, or any of thousands of poor bastards in Syria. But here’s what sticks out for me:
2. Many of Banks’ recent works center on death the afterlife … specifically the idea that there is no afterlife. In Banks’ Culture novels, anyone who believes in an afterlife is frankly treated as delusional. However, they have the technology to “back up” an entire life and “revent” you into a new body. Other civilizations upload their dead to a computer, and thus achieve an actual virtual afterlife. Banks can clearly imagine eternal life, but he won’t live to see it.
3. It must be torture to die with the kind of imagination Iain M. Banks has. Banks is a master at matter-of-factly describing the really horrible. I’m recalling a scene from “Matter” where a character is beheaded, but is conscious long enough to unleash an antimatter bomb. I’m recalling another scene where a character is stabbed in the heart, and Banks describes all of her sensations until her consciousness fades out.
Got you from the title, right? In truth, it’s crazier than that.
Sex & Rockets is a book about Jack Parsons, one of the cofounders of what became NASA’s Jet Propulsion lab. He was a pioneer in early rocketry, perfecting solid-fuel rockets that grew into the space program.
Aaaaaand he was an occultist and a close follower of Aleister Crowley. He did a 12-day spell to bring about the goddess Babalon, and the spell apparently brought in a hot, crazy redhead. And his roommate for a while was L. Ron Hubbard, who stole his girlfriend. Oh, and he was influential in the budding Libertarian movement. And he blew himself up in 1952.
Author John Carter draws heavily on primary sources, such as Parsons’ spell notes, his own writings, and his extensive correspondence with Crowley. So Carter doesn’t get too much into Parsons’ head, but the primary sources are still pretty amazing.
If you’re curious about the wild and woolly early days of rocketry — or want an intro to Crowley’s scene — here you go.
I can’t stop thinking about story ideas. What if the whole rocket thing was just a way to stick a thumb in the eye of God … or prove He doesn’t exist? And JPL is where they made the Mars rovers … maybe there’s a black magic working on the red planet?
I09.com had a neat rundown of the book, or you can get it (as I did) from your local library.
Via Diversions of the Groovy Kind, here’s my favorite comic book artist doing a story by one of my favorite sci-fi writers. It’s Howard Chaykin on Larry Niven’s “All the Myriad Ways.”
It’s a neat little sci-fi “grabber” about a rash of philosophical suicides after the discovery of multiple timelines.
Oddly enough, Ol’ Groove notes that this same story was adapted another time, by Jeffrey Catherine Jones. The Jones version is shorter, and thus has a bit more impact, whereas the Chaykin version is longer and includes more setup and action. It’s really fascinating how they both approached the same story, and use some of the same verbiage.
Buzzfeed has a rundown of some of the top comic books of 1993, which was apparently the high-water mark for comic book sales.
The only of these books I bought were Robin No. 1, Static No. 1 and Death: The High Cost of Living No. 3.
I dropped Batman a year or so before, and The Shadow Strikes wrapped in 1992. I was never an X-fan, and I missed the Rob Liefeld arm of the Image-Verse. I remember my friend Jason had the return of Superman in art class, and I read Deathmate many years later. I went to college the next year, and my fandom went more-or-less dormant until I got into Starman and Transmetropolitan around 1998.
I notice I’m less negative about the 1990s than a lot of people are. Apparently that’s because I missed it.
I do remember Static, though. Milestone comics were a pretty exciting development for me, back in those days. “You don’t start none, there won’t be none.”
An update from Dara “Duke” Naraghi on Persia Blues:
“My publisher NBM is doing something they’ve never done before: they’re serializing my graphic novel Persia Blues as 4 digital “issues” before the print edition comes out. And right now, you can pick up the first part (28 pages of story) for a mere 99 cents through the Comixology app.”
Continuing on with Columbus’ comix love affair, the Wexner Center is having a month long film series mixing medicine, film and comics.
Narrative Medicine: A Film & Comix Series
Find out why medical students and practitioners are turning to the humanities (especially narrative studies of literature, film, and comix), and see how the arts and humanities have often honed in on stories of patients, doctors, and other health care practitioners. This series of screenings and events illuminates an exciting new “narrative medicine” movement based on the premise that narrative competence enhances medical competence even as medical experiences reshape narrative forms. The series complements a two-day multidisciplinary conference.
I found out about this as one of the guys (Ezra) involved contacted me about this. He’ll be at the Wexner on March 28th presenting a live interactive presentation (of his digital comic Upgrade Soul) accompanied by music. David Small will be giving a talk on his graphic novel Stiches: A Memoir on April 4th. They’ll also be screening Safe and The Diving Bell & the Butterfly. Two films I’ve seen but never on the big screen.
The Wexner Center will be showing a double feature Thursday night. Important note is the short documentary preceeding the feature film (Wild Bill’s Run) is on our pal Matt Kish. The short film ‘Inside the Whale‘ is all about his Moby Dick inspired art book. Matt will be on hand signing copies of said book (beginning at 6pm). The film starts at 7pm. General public $8. Students and seniors $6. See you there.
I only saw two of the Best Picture nominees, and one of them was by accident. Skyfall was sold out, so I saw Argo.
I thought Argo was a good movie. It’s “ripped from the headlines,” and it manages to do a lot of business in 120 minutes. You only get glimpses of the hostages, but you still get a sense of who they are. The Iranians are definitely the villains, but there’s no sense that they’re all terrible people. Ben Affleck is a bit of a cipher at the center of it, but you do get some hints of his character. I really was at the edge of my seat at the end.
But I had no idea I was watching the year’s best picture. I figured it would go to Lincoln of Zero Dark 30, which seem like “bigger” pictures. I thought maybe their voters canceled each other out? But of course, I haven’t seen either film, so I can’t say. I hate it when people judge a piece based strictly on “buzz.”
I dunno, I feel like I don’t know what’s good anymore.
An update from our very own Matt Kish:
A great review of “The Graphic Canon: Volume 2” from Paste Magazine. 12 of my “Moby-Dick” illustrations are included in the anthology, and Paste had this to say: “The other revelation comes from Matt Kish, who has created a unique image for every page of Moby Dick (all of which can be seen on his blog). Intense and surreal, these visions are a triumph, keeping a strong tether to the original prose while launching into electrifying worlds of their own.”