Friday Funny Pages: Agent Of Badassery

I’m pretty sure Nick Fury has a check list for when he gets ready in the morning, and I believe it goes something like this:

Group of paramilitary badasses standing around looking like badasses – Check.

Badass guns and ammo littering every flat surface – Check.

Hand written notes from the president at the top of your badass to-do list – Check.

Top secret confidential documents casually strewn about the office because you have no worries since you’re a badass – Check.

A fresh cigar to clench between your teeth as you sock Baron Strucker in the jaw, like a badass – Check.

 

Yes friends here is yet another ad in my series of FFP comic book advertisements, this one is actually an ad for another comic.  Coming to us from 1988 this promotion for an upcoming (and now defunct) S.H.I.E.L.D. title really caught my eye (no pun intended).  I really like the use of the photography, but I find it kind of amusing that among all the realism of the ad there is a black and white drawing of Nick Fury and his agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  It perhaps would have worked better if they’d just left that part out, and had an eye patch laying on the table, maybe a cigar in an ash tray or something along those lines.  What do I know though?  I’m no marketing exec.

I’ve never read anything from this particular Nick Fury run but from what I understand this is the era where the Life Model Decoys (really good espionage robot impersonators, for all you uninitiated) really came into their own.  Of course LMDs had been a concept of the S.H.I.E.L.D. comics since the 1960’s but they seem to have really risen to prominence in this series where, from what I understand, just about everyone around Fury seemed to end up being a Life Model Decoy replacement at some point or another.  This type of story telling really shouldn’t be surprising coming from Bob Harras who was one of the executive editors on the Spider-Man Clone Saga storyline.  To be fair though those types of comic book arcs can be really interesting in retrospect when you look at the amount of storytelling that comes out of such projects.

Sure there were some Nick Fury retcons down the road to unravel the outcome of this particular series, but that retconning lead to the revival of Baron Strucker and a more powerful HYDRA and has brought about some really excellent and clever uses of LMDs in modern comics.  So sometimes writers try too hard, get too many hands in the pot, and stretch their storylines a little too far, but you know what?  For the most part it usually works out in the end.  Perhaps as it’s happening some writers may take some heat, but who knows?  Down the road they could be heralded for those same “mistakes” and become a catalyst for future comic book events.  You never know.

 

That is all!

 

 

Finally! A Darth Plagueis Novel.

Yesterday I discovered that Lucas Books has finally decided to put out their long awaited Darth Plagueis novel! Check out the news and a brief outline of the novel at The Force.net.

The cover art for Star Wars: Darth Plagueis by James Luceno

This novel was originally announced shortly after the debut of Revenge of the Sith where we heard the first tantalizing mentions of this Sith lord who trained the Emperor and his brief biography. At the time I was incredibly excited by this news, I’m a sucker for the bad guys, they’re always so much more interesting then the good guys. Especially when it comes to the Jedi and the Sith. Don’t get me wrong I’m a big fan of the Jedi, Yoda, Mace Windu, Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan, and all things Lightside are great! But we’ve seen it all before, you know? We all know how a Jedi should act. Selflessness, virtue, peace, knowledge, defense, one with nature, etc. etc. We get it. There are plenty of Jedi in the Star Wars universe and over the course of the 6 movies we get a good look at their structure, teachings, and individuals.

When it comes to the Sith however, they remain something of a mystery to us, at least in the movie universe. In the books there is quite an expanded knowledgebase about the Sith and their history, but even with that there are extensive gaps leading up to the time of the movies. The Sith are figures in Star Wars that leave something to the imagination, they are the element we don’t know enough about. When you think about it, most of the knowledge we do have about the Sith in the films is given to us by the Jedi, sworn enemies of the Sith who have spent a good portion of their history trying to erase the memory of them from the galaxy. We can assume their interpretation of the Sith is slightly skewed.

Darth Plagueis the Wise

To make a few comparisons, the Sith are the Apocrypha to the Jedi’s Bible. The heretics and Cathars to the Jedi catholic church. A feud that started as an ideological difference erupts into a full out war which results in the victor being known as “right” and the loser being known as “wrong.” From there the Jedi go on to establish themselves as philosophers and peacekeepers working with the Galactic Republic to maintain an order of light. While on the other hand the Sith, who are believed to be vanquished, must alter their strategy, work in secret and pass their teachings on in a more clandestine manner with a new motivation of total revenge against those who had tried to destroy them.

Of course I could go back and forth about this history of the Jedi and Sith but what I’m getting at is the allure of the Sith.

What draws more curiosity, an object sitting openly under a lamp, or an object hidden in shadow just out of sight? Clearly you can tell what there is with the object under the lamp, you can observe it and know something about it just by looking at it whether it interests you or not. But that hidden object has so much more appeal because you just can’t know exactly what it is until you investigate. It’s the whole idea of wrapping a present as opposed to just handing someone a gift. That element of the unknown, the mystery, it’s what gets our attention.

Long analogy, short I like the Sith because there’s just comparatively so little information about them in Star Wars lure.

The Darth Bane trilogy by Drew Karpyshyn was a good Sithy read, detailing the middle history of the Sith and how the order was reduced from an army similar to the Jedi, to the master and apprentice system we see in the movies. As interesting as that was I was still more excited about the talk of a Darth Plagueis book.  Unfortunately after Revenge of the Sith the Plagueis book was delayed in favor of several other books including a Darth Vader novel and a story about the construction of the first Death Star. Topics that had already seen several novelizations over the years. I read those books however and enjoyed them, but still anticipated the Plagueis read. Unfortunately it was eventually cancelled with no further word.

Finally yesterday, years later, I find out that it is back on! There is even a cover and a brief summary indicating that this time they mean it.

Why am I so excited for this book? Well as I said before I’m a fan of the bad guys in general and the Sith in particular. Perhaps my favorite Sith is Darth Sidious, Emperor Palpatine. And why shouldn’t he be? If you like the Sith than you’d have to love the Master who orchestrated the final destruction of the Jedi order, subverted the government that pandered to those same Jedi, and who put the Sith in sole control of the largest imperial rule the galaxy had ever seen. Sidious is the Sith Lord who brought about the endgame of a thousand years of Sith patience and planning. This is the man who worked openly among the Jedi undetected, who trained Darth Maul, and who bested Yoda in one of the most epic lightsaber duels of all time.

But who trained Darth Sidious?

Darth Plagueis the wise. If Sidious turned out to be such an evil badass, the guy who instructed him must have been fairly impressive himself. Finally we will get the chance to learn more about this mysterious penultimate Sith Master in James Luceno’s next book simply titled Darth Plagueis.

Darth Plagueis and a young Sidious

Actually James Luceno himself is another reason I’m really looking forward to this book. I love his Star Wars novels especially Cloak of Deception, Labyrinth of Evil, and Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader. Luceno is a skilled and subtle author who writes the Sith and the Darkside well, not simply portraying them as evil villains who do bad purely for the sake of being evil, but actually portrays them with some depth as to why they do what they do, how they are different from the Jedi, and why they use the Force in the manner they do.  Aside from that, in my opinion Luceno is one of the few Star Wars authors who really captures the feel and scope of the Star Wars universe that we are used to in the films. He has a deep understanding of the characters, history, and setting of the Star Wars universe that really takes his books to the next level. He blends well the elements of action, politics, and philosophy that are found in Star Wars making his works more than simply “typical” sci-fi books in the guise of Star Wars novels.

James Luceno

I haven’t been keeping up with most of the new Star Wars novels, I believe the last one I read was 2009’s Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber, but with this book finally being released I again have a Star Wars novel that I’m really looking forward to.

That is all!

Comic Books Through the Ages, According to Me

Several posts back I talked about the new age of comic books, the current era, which has been quite unique in its style and media presence.  I called our modern comics era the Mercury Age due to its fast paced storytelling and penchant for drastic change.  Today however I would like to go through and further define the various stages of development of the comic book industry as I see them, and offer up my suggestions for the eras that have for the most part gone undefined.

The Golden Age of Comics– 1930’s to early 1950’s

The Golden Age is very familiar with most comic book fans, it is the age that started it all.  The Golden Age produced many of the icons of comics that are still around today, characters that are pillars of the entire industry.  Detective Comics was the powerhouse of the day, and established the indelible style of that company.  I would describe this era as a highly imaginative time where creators worked hard to set their characters apart from other heroes.  However though the character designs were very stylized and unique the plots of this era seem fairly interchangeable.  Initially almost all superhero characters dealt exclusively with street level crime, gangsters, corrupt businessmen, etc.  Even supernatural and science fiction elements that were employed by villains dealt primarily with petty crime or personal gain.  During the time of World War II comics of course gained a very distinct patriotic tinge, practically becoming propaganda.  This worldly shift in tone lead to a larger scale in the stories being told.  Having the comics take place overseas or showing heroes aiding the war effort on the home front helped broaden the superhero scope.  Inspired by the media of the time this era can best be described as radio dramas with pictures, heavy on narration and very flat, interchangeable stories.  Though the individual heroes were quite outlandish there came to be a general pattern which most comic books ascribed to.  With the advent of television this style of storytelling became less and less popular.

Golden Age Green Lantern before the changes of the Silver Age

The Golden Age Comics: Radio Dramas with pictures.

The Silver Age of Comics– 1950’s -1960’s

After a short lull in comics after WWII when there was no longer the need for such enthusiastic patriotism there came a reinvigoration of comics with a new focus; high adventure in the atomic age!  New characters were popping up all over with origins dealing with radiation and scientific achievement.  Old characters were being altered and reinvented, doing away with vague mystical elements and tweaking powers and origins to include more plausible, science based logic.  The cold war and the space race kick started some of the most outlandish and memorable tales in comics history.  The mysteries of space and the wonders of atomic power fueled the imaginations of comic book writers and the nation as a whole.  Fear and wonder during this time were also put to use selling alien invasion stories and horror comics.  Several comic book publishers rose and fell during this highly creative era, which saw the rise to prominence of Marvel comics which had its own golden age during this Silver age.  Here is where the concepts of continuity and the development of in-comic universes began to solidify.  The various publishers tightened their focus while at the same time widening their scope laying out their own distinct views of the world as it was in their comic book stories, during this period there was a discovery through storytelling.  The comic book industry was still figuring itself out and didn’t exactly take itself serious, but there were crucial developments in style, art, and writing.  Overall I would describe this era as high concepts, with low execution.

The Fantastic Four propelled Marvel Comics into the Silver Age

The Bronze Age of Comics– 1970’s – early 1980’s

An important time in comics.  This era saw a greater development of the comic book industry and its established characters.  During this time writers spent a great deal of time explaining earlier concepts and aided the various universes to flesh themselves out with a great sense of continuity.  There was a desire to experiment during the bronze age.  Established characters were put into new and unusual circumstances and new characters were introduced who had more socially relevance, continuing the evolution of the stories told in comic books.  A new time of zaniness emerged, reminiscent of the Golden Age, but with a much greater self awareness.  There was a more satirical tone during this time, with more social commentary not often found in comics prior.  Social change and political unrest were rampant in the country at this time and though these issues are not always directly addressed in the comics of the Bronze Age there was a much greater use of comics as a platform for addressing cultural concerns.  The two major comic book universes at Marvel and DC were broadened to their greatest scope.  During this time comics start to become a more commercial outlet featuring movie comic book adaptions and other comic book tie-ins.  The comics of this time range from street level crimes, to interstellar wars, to mystical realms, and classic horror stories.  There are many new developments during this time but the major work of this era deals with building up and reinforcing the established comic book universes, while at the same time providing greater insights and cultural awareness.

The Bronze Age brought humanity to the super human

 

The Tarnished Age of Comics– 1980’s -1990’s

Here is where we get into uncharted territory, this time period is most commonly referred to as simply the modern age of comics, which I believe at this point is a bit passé.  Here begins a time of pessimism and realism in comic books.  The same familiar comic book universes that were established in the decades prior were now given a distinct patina across their once shining exteriors.  During the tarnished age the comic book industry starts to mature, due in part to an increasingly older readership.  Comics are no longer simply kids stuff and those who read comics as kids continued reading and were interested in more complex stories.  This is an age of darker tales, more realistic premises, dynamic events, and humanistic plots that do not shy away from depth, complexity, or social commentary.  Continuity becomes more important than ever and a new generation of readers and writers delve into angsty character driven plots.  This period is also tainted by company arrogance from the big comic publishers, which are at this point are becoming large corporations.  This era saw the height of the commercialism of comic books and the extensive use of variant covers, and special rereleases to boost sales.  Fueled by the booming collectors market for older comics publishers believed they could make a substantial profit by encouraging their readers to buy up the plethora of exclusive and “hard to find” printings that were being cranked out.  This lead to a comic book collectors bubble of sorts which eventually imploded discouraging comic fans and nearly bankrupting the bloated comic book industry.  This of course lead to a rise of new upstart comic publishers that attempted to break away from the corporate mindset of the old guard at Marvel and DC allowing their writers and artists to retain all rights to their creations and allow for a wider range of subject matter and grittier, more mature reads. Dark Horse and Image comics are byproducts of this era.

One of the most memorable moments of the Tarnished Age

The Mercury Age of Comics– 2000’s to present

This is the age that is still in development, an age like no other.  I call this age the mercury age due to the fast paced mutability of the comics industry nowadays.  Comics are now completely corporatized; both DC and Marvel are now parts of enormous corporate media conglomerates.  The smaller comic book publishers like Dark Horse and Image are now firmly established as the alternate choices for fans who are tired of the “same old thing” while also providing some of the most creative and dynamic comic books and graphic novels.  Independent comic writers now gain substantial popularity and notoriety, so much so that they are highly sought after to be part of the creative teams on titles at the big two publishers, effectively turning the tables on the once dominate superhero genre.  In the mainstream DC and Marvel universes small intimate character driven stories are all but forgone in favor of larger cross title arcs that have a wider impact.  Few titles, even books based on single superheroes, actually deal with just one hero instead they incorporate any number of various characters from across their respective universes.  Characters are dealt with more realism than ever.  With the advent of the internet and the fast paced flow of information in our modern day, comic books have learned to adapt along these lines as well.  Superheroes no longer simply fight crime, the characters are portrayed with a great sense of self awareness and the characters are written with more concern for how they are portrayed in the media and with a greater understanding of manipulation of information technologies.  At this point there seems to be a greater inkling that everything has already been done in the superhero genre and so therefore the landscapes of the major comics universes need to be shaken up.  This is one of the most prominent features of the mercury age, change, death, events, additions, and topsy turvy stories that skew the idea of the status quo and continuity dominate the comics landscape.  To make things interesting and to develop original plots creators seem urged to tear apart the established universes, and effectively deconstruct the superheroes.  However the changes made in these events are often inconsequential, fleeting, and either quickly reversed or completely forgotten about almost immediately afterward.  Congealing and separating like mercury.   

Event books dominate the comic book landscape of the Mercury Age

 

Independent comics take their place in the industry during the Mercury Age

As I’ve said these are simply my thoughts on the subject, and though I might seem to be casting some kind of judgment on certain time periods, I’m really not.  I can respect all points in history of the comic book industry and I understand that it is a constantly evolving and changing medium that will/must find new ways to attract more readers.  Also these definitions are of course in broad general terms and there are countless examples of titles from each era that go against those generalizations.  If you don’t agree with what I’ve laid out here, or have some additions/corrections you’d like to make, feel free to leave me your thoughts in the comments.  Since there is probably no chance that I will ever be able to contribute directly to the developing comic book universes, maybe there is a chance that I can indirectly affect the business by defining these previously undefined eras.  So if you agree with what I’ve got here do me a favor and start dropping the phrases “Tarnished Age” or “Mercury Age” into your everyday conversations with your fellow comic book fans and when they give you a confused look just pretend like it’s an established thing, and that they should already know what you mean.  I don’t need any credit, let’s just get this started!

That is all!

Victories in the Yard, Defeats on the Page

 
 
 

So now it’s time for a bit of personal blogging, the kind of inane writing that no one really cares about but almost all bloggers do at some point regardless.  I’ve been busy with various things recently and haven’t had time to write up any interesting blogs so let me instead tell you what’s been keeping me away.

First off today is my wedding anniversary.  The little lady and I have been married now for four years!  There have been some anniversary related things I’ve had to get together and plan for so that has taken up a bit of time this week. 

On the writing front I’ve hit a bit of a rut.  My current project is turning out to be more of a struggle than I anticipated; actually just one part of it seems to be troublesome.  This new project will be a series of short stories that are loosely connected.  The first story however seems like it’s dragging on too much, I feel like if I keep going at the pace it currently has it will either be too long for a short story or too short for anything else.  We’ll see I suppose, I need to make some better notes about what I’m doing with it, write up a solid outline and a breakdown of each part before I really try to get back into it.

Also I got my first rejection letter from a literary agent this week, that was pretty exciting.  I more or less knew they were a little too big time for me, but I wasn’t completely sure and figured I’d give it a try.  The thinness of the returned self addressed stamped envelope was pretty much the giveaway that there wasn’t anything too splendid inside.  Upon opening it I found a standard issue form letter rejection.  Although it would have obviously been awesome to read something else, I wasn’t too downtrodden about the rejection letter, as far as I’m concerned it’s still pretty cool actually.  It most likely won’t be the last one, but it means that I’m putting my stuff out there and at least trying to get something published, and just the possibility of that is enough for now.

Here at home when I’m not writing or pandering to a pair of puggles I’ve been out in the yard working on my new yard project this year.   Our backyard is really in pretty good shape and quite spacious for a suburban dwelling but there has been one huge eyesore lurking around back there that I’ve been contemplating getting rid of for quite some time.  It is at the very back of the yard on our patio, I believe it was at one time a brick fireplace and/or grill.  What’s left of it was in crumbling ruins when we bought the house, basically only the base of it which rose about three feet high and was about four feet square.  As if that wasn’t bad enough there was a huge pane of glass placed on top of the thing about six feet square and three quarters of an inch thick.  The glass had actually been some kind of window, and a window of some renown at one time because it was etched with the words “Kent State School of Nursing” in a circle around the college’s seal.  We knew that the woman who owned the house before us was a nurse, so we assumed she must have gone to Kent State, and that when they changed the name from “school of nursing” to “college of nursing” she had some kind of connections that hooked her up with the old window.

My new project

 

With the big glass laid across the brick fire pit we guessed they used it as a table to sit around out at the patio, except the huge plate glass top was so huge it took up most of the patio.  That, combined with the fact that all of it was very ugly started me off on my plans to see to its undoing.  Last year we had someone come out who could smash the glass portion of it and haul it away.  After having to spend a few afternoons picking up stray shards of glass out of the grass I sort of regret not doing it myself, I had a very specific plan in mind to prevent the glass from getting all over the place, but then again I also would have been stuck with a tarp full of broken glass, so I suppose it was worth it just to have it hauled away.

This year however my sights have been set on getting rid of the brick hell hole that remained.  The brick base was of course filled with the remains of the original fireplace which meant I was about to come into possession of a great many bricks.  Several thoughts sprang to mind, maybe I’ll make a brick walkway, I could outline the entire yard in bricks, line all the flower beds, the front beds, the whole front yard even, everything lined with bricks.  It would be great.  The only problem was that most of the materials I found piled within the walls of the base were broken chunks or bricks encased in mortar.  So there went my grand plans.  There were however enough viable bricks to follow through with a few of my plans.  As you can see in the pictures below that I’ve taken with my phone.

Here’s an example of what I’ve done to put some of the bricks to use

 

A small covered area to store firewood for our fire bowl, made from a slab found in the brick pile

 

And finally in yard work not my own I spent this past Monday assisting my cousin Eric who was removing the back steps at my grandparents house and replacing them with a ramp to make it easier for them to make it to family functions when and if they feel up to it.  He had a pretty solid plan in mind and he did his research into what he wanted to do, I simply held a few boards and tightened some bolts.  It was cold as hell and pissing rain the entire day but we had a good time and I dragged one of the puggles along to run around the nice fenced in backyard, she however spent most of the day inside sitting with the grandparents after getting a bit too wet for her liking.  I didn’t get to help finish that project but the ramp is now all done and looks awesome.

The finished ramp at my grandparents house

 

Anyway it’s been a busy couple of weeks and I’ve had a great deal going on and a shit ton to think about so maybe when things slow down I can get back to pining over Babylon 5 or reciting my favorite planets from Star Wars.

That is all!

A Requiem For Comic Books OR Enter the Mercury Age

So it has been awhile since I’ve bought comics regularly.  Money is tight these days.  The wife and I recently bought a house, there is a financial crisis lurking around, and when it came to saving my hefty weekly comic book fund was put on the chopping block.  A shame to be sure, but I kept up as best I could by reading a few forums and checking out the publishers official sites and browsing sites like Newsarama and others.  I’ve picked up a few trades now and again but it’s been almost two years now since I’ve stopped reading comic regularly.

Well the other day a few friends and I paid a visit to our once regular comic shop.  We were making the journey to see what was new and to help point out some good X-Men trades for one of our group who was just getting started down the long winding X-Men path.  While we were pointing out trades and suggesting writers from the X Universe that she might enjoy, she made the off-handed comment that Wolverine seemed to be in a lot of these books.  The more veteran comic enthusiasts among us had a good chuckle.  Someone mentioned Wolverine’s apparently unspoken ability to warp time and be in every place at once, and I joked that Marvel should just make a new title that consisted of nothing but Spider-Man and Wolverine and just get it over with.  We chuckled and sighed.

However after I said that, one of the shops other patrons, who just happened to be lurking around nearby, walked up to us and said “You joke, but that’s actually on about issue three now.”  It took me a moment to realize what he was talking about, but then he walked over to the shelf and pointed down to a book entitled “Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine #3

Grueling hours of writing must have been put into creating this concept . . .

My only response was “You have got to be shitting me.”  But alas he was indeed not shitting me.  There it was plain as day, selling out incarnate.  Upon further inspection I saw that it is only a 6 issue story arc where Spidey and the runt get caught up in some crazy whirlwind adventure that takes them all over the Marvel universe.  I also realized that the series is written by Jason Aaron and Adam Kubert which are some names with some clout.  When it comes to Jason Aaron I could take him or leave him, but Kubert has some pretty impressive artistic credentials.

From the few reviews I’ve parsed through dealing with this series it sounds like fans are enjoying it for the most part, even though many had the same trepidations about its selling out potential.  The only real complaint I’ve been able to gather is that it is constantly late, I guess it’s taken about five months to get the first three issues out, but then again what good Wolverine mini-series doesn’t take years to complete?

Going back to one of my earlier blog posts about the death of Johnny Storm, and the hint at several more main hero deaths to promote book sales, and now this; literally a clichéd joke come to life, it makes me worry about the future of the comic books industry.  I long for the days when creators were creating and building up the comic universes they wrote within.  Writers like Simonson and Gerber introducing crazy characters, that when you try to think of them off the page seem to be insane, but when they laid it out in the panels and ink they brought something new, imaginative, and at the same time tried to make a point and actually speak to the readers.  Today however writers simply struggle to put “hot” characters into some sort of mildly adventurous and entertaining plotline that will sell books. Or barring even that level of creativity writers seem to enjoy tearing apart the history of past creators to make use of the easy concept of “dealing with change” while at the same time being able to avoid the burden of actually coming up with some sort of point. 

Steve Gerber and Mary Skrenes created Omega the Unknown, what I consider to be the Pulp Fiction of super hero books.

It’s like building a huge house for a family so that you can see the family grow and evolve and spark all these great events, only to come back later and tear it down just to watch them cry without really thinking beyond how cool it will be when you snap a heart wrenching photo of them in a sobbing embrace.

Perhaps that’s a bit of a melodramatic analogy, but I’m all worked up and pissed.   

With both of the biggest comics companies now under the boot of major corporate control (DC/Time Warner and Marvel/Disney) I have a gradually growing anxiety that the days of the comic industry are in their twilight.  With more and more corporate involvement, mixed media with large-scale Hollywood productions, and the digital revolution at hand I worry that the days of the small, privately owned neighborhood comic shops are on the way out.  Comics are becoming more streamlined, sticking to “popular characters” while letting others fall to the wayside, they’re experimenting less and less and the things we get beyond the printed pages such as DVDs, cartoons, and even movies are often rehashes of old concepts and storylines, despite how well produced they might be.  The comic book industry is like a band in the “Greatest Hits” phase of their career, which of course as we know often signals the end.  When the diversity of a company starts to slide people get bored.  Contrary to popular belief fans do enjoy seeing heroes other than Wolverine and Batman.

Green Lantern Mosaic a series cancelled not due to sales but rather executives not agreeing with the books tone.

Although I was not around during the 70’s I look at the comics from that era and pine for those days.  When heroes were aplenty, the Thing was the hot property of the Marvel universe, and there was at least a pinch of some sort of social, moral, or philosophical commentary mingled with our comic books.  Of course there were a great many shitty comics back then too, but even the shit seemed to have a heart.  Perhaps I have just grown too cynical about the current state of comic books.  There have been several periods in the past when people thought the industry was on its deathbed.  I realize there is still some great stuff out there today.   Green Lantern’s Darkest Night was epic, Marvel brought back some old school sci-fi adventure with Secret Invasion, and there are other great reads among the non-hero comics such as the Walking Dead.  I suppose I am just disheartened by the corporatization of the world at large and the comic book industry in particular.  Back in the day we humble comic fans dreamt of a huge geek revolution, where everyone knew the names of the Avengers and previously second tier heroes like Green Lantern could star on the big screen.  Oh but be careful what you wish for, for how many Mephistos must we bargain with to make our dreams come true?  How many hands will reach to reap the rewards of that popularity?  And how will our heroes change in order to maintain their corporate perceptions?

Thor #337 by Walt Simonson and the first appearance of Beta Ray Bill

I guess one thing I’m getting at is that each era of comic books has its own tone and general spirit, and that I am not a fan of this current up and coming era which I would dub the Mercury Age of comics, for its fast paced mutability that seems to run all over the place without maintaining any real substance.     

It all reminds me of the storyline from Doom 2099 where . . . . ah hell I’m done, I’d just continue rambling forever!

That is all!

Writing it is Easier Than Getting it Read. Nothing New About That.

So I’ve written a novel. That sounds pretty good. Sure. That’s a great deal of time and effort put into 230,000 some words of story telling. I’ve read, and re-read the pages several times, changing, editing, adding as I need to. Now however I am on the brink of the truly difficult part, figuring out what to do with it next. I have done some research online about a few different literary agents, but of course there is also a great deal of spotlight these days on self publishing and e-books and all that. There are other resources available as well such as creating an audio book on a pod cast and circulating the work that way. Here is an example of that: PodioBooks.com

http://www.podiobooks.com/

Frankly I’m leaning toward the agent route. It’s the traditionally best approach to take, most agents are also editors, which I think should go over the work with a fine toothed comb, and it just seems to make sense for me. I don’t have the resources, or connections to promote myself enough to do a self-published e-book and I don’t really have the time to create an audio book that might never be heard. I’d like to be able to get started on my next project while this one is in the hands of some professionals somewhere.

Now my biggest problem is that my current story has only been read completely by one other person, a friend, who had great things to say about it and a few helpful suggestions. I have another friend about half way through reading it, she’s actually doing some illustrations for me so she is taking her time and sketching and taking notes as she reads so it will be a little longer until she is through it all. My wife is a middle school teacher who is always under various time constraints. Although she is the best editor and literary critic I know, the last thing she wants to do with her free time during the school year is edit my work, essentially an extension of her work life, and I can’t blame her. I want her above all others to take a look at the writing, because I know she will tell it to me like it is, and let me know what’s good and what isn’t. She will get to it when she can, she is currently swamped with educating America’s future. I however am anxious to put things in motion! I have everything in place for submitting my work to an agent, cover letter, summary, chapter outline, finely tuned writing example, author bio, the works! All ready to print out and send in.

Oh and don’t get me started on printing things out, I thought it would be so much easier to just print it from home, I’d buy a brand new ink cartridge, a ream of paper, and I would be good to go. To make a long story short just go to kinkos or wherever and print your work out there. Cough up the $40 and make it easy on yourself. Trust me something will go wrong at home, and it will infuriate you AND it will all wind up costing more money in the long run.

The devil's tool

Anywho printing concerns aside, I feel stuck. I eagerly want to send this thing out there and get the whole process in motion, I want to do something more with this work I have done. While on the other hand, I am self-conscious and desperately seek some more test audiences for this thing, a bit more validation that it might actually be worth publishing, which I of course believe it is. Everyone is too busy, or unwilling to read it off a computer screen (which I don’t blame them) and I don’t have enough printed copies to go around. I’m very paranoid about handing it over to random people I don’t know and I really just want it into the hands of some pros who know more about the publishing industry then I do! Oh well, I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

As for now, that is all!