Archive for February, 2008

ACE Con 2008

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

Nathan Massengill, Michael Golden, Sanford Greene @ ACE Con 2008ACE Con here in Atlanta found me at dinner with two great pencilers (actually there were more than that to be sure, but such is the limit of the photograph!). Next to me in the middle is the famous Michael Golden, and beside him is the unmistakable Sanford Greene. [Little did Michael and I know that we are soon hereafter to be struck down by the vicious Atlanta-con flu! This is where I have been lurking the past week…in my sickbed!] Michael Golden strikes me as a very direct person who is very much about honesty and forthrightness. We had a terrific conversation that ranged from the dangerous territory of politics into the - I daresay more interesting area for both of us - of the future of sequential storytelling and the mediums that will be employed to tell those stories. If you ever get a chance to meet Michael, don’t miss it!

Sanford Greene was also at that dinner, though thankfully he escaped the dessert of the Evil Flu! For those who don’t know, Sanford is one of the “regular” pencilers that I work with. We’ve just finished up a DC Comics’ Wonder Girl mini-series and hopefully will be starting more trouble up soon. Sanford has a mad talent and is really hilarious when you get him riled up. Sitting with these two men, it is very clear you are sitting next to two generations of comics history in the making, which is one of the great thrills of working in this business.

Another highlight: Talking with Bob Schreck. I’ve only worked for Bob once, on the “City of Crime” Batman graphic novel (and a couple other scattered issues of Detective Comics), but that was enough for us to become friends. He is indisputably one of the greatest modern comics editors and his comics war stories are so funny they make me cry like a baby. Through him, I was also able to meet another of the indisputably great editors, his ex-wife Diana Shutz. I wish I had taken pictures! What an idiot I am.

Another great moment was finally getting to talk to Joe Linsner (brilliant painter of the comic series “Cry for Dawn”). I tried to track down when I had first met Joe…we are nearly the same age and both broke into comics very young…back in the NYC hotel conventions of the very late eighties or very early nineties. Though we have probably been in the same room dozens of times over the intervening years, it was very rare we would get a chance to speak. Finally talking to him at the ACE con was a revelation; it was really like meeting an old friend I’d never been introduced to. What a kind person! I really admire his career path and very much enjoyed the chance to tell him so. If you haven’t had the chance, trust me, you’ll love his work even more after you get to meet him.

Following the theme of this blog entry, let me just state for the record that the greatest thing about working in comics is being a part of a massive, diverse, sprawling, quirky, brilliant, intentional family of Creators. The sense of “family” in comics is very real and very valued.

Dan Simmon’s Terror

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

For many years now, I’ve proclaimed author Dan Simmons one of the best writers alive, mainly on the strength of his Hyperion science-fiction series. Hyperion is both small and impossibly grand in scope; poetic, blunt, and always challenging. It also has what may be one of the greatest villain/monsters ever (the Shrike). So it will come as no surprise to anyone that I have enjoyed his new historical fiction, “The Terror”. Basically, it takes the doomed arctic voyages of the HMS Terror and Erebus, already filled with real terror and horror enough for any book, and adds layers of imaginative nightmarish speculation to that. In other words, a monster. Whereas the Shrike is purest black, the “Thing on the Ice” is all white, but there the practical differences end. Simmon’s monsters are not so much plot vehicles as they are cattle prods for the reader, cruelly tricky ways to make a reader guess and squirm. Don’t expect a traditional monster book here or a traditional disaster book, just to be taunted with their near presences. Like the end of another of my favorite modern fiction novels, Thomas Harris’ “Hannibal,” even your carefully crafted conceptualization of “heroism” may well get somewhat battered by the end of the story. Also like Hannibal, the story virtually revels in its ghoulishness; gore doesn’t begin to describe it. That intensity is greater because this is what the lost arctic explorers would have literally gone through…Simmons stays within the historical facts on this trip, giving a literal weight (positively and negatively) to his story. My take is that the story is about how much it can take for us to truly change our perceptions and attitudes. If you don’t mind the horror-ride, there’s something at the end worth the multiple amputations and the long, cold journey though the ice.

And if you haven’t read it, drop everything and read the Hyperion Series, which is simply as good as science fiction has yet become.

Prisoner-o-rama

Friday, February 1st, 2008

For those rabid fans of the Prisoner (so like myself), the BBC has archived some very happenin’ versions of Ron Grainer’s original theme. Arguably, this is the central part of the greatest TV intro of all time. As for the archived “unused version,” Thank the Great Rover it stayed that way! The early version with the lutes is pretty haunting! For Prisoner fans only:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/classic/prisoner/music.shtml

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