Monday, August 31, 2009

Bang Pop 2009

I will be making one of my very rare personal appearances (barring further foot troubles) at the second annual Bang Pop Comic & Pop Culture Convention in Bangor, Maine over the weekend of September 19 & 20, 2009.

I had a great time at last year's inaugural event, and am looking forward to this year's expanded show. I'll have copies of my various books, including the Femme Noir: Dark City Diaries graphic novel, with me and available for sale.

Other guests confirmed for the show are Kristen Britain, Elizabeth Hand, Walter H. Hunt, Alex Irvine, Jay Piscopo, Mark Ricketts, Dave Roman, Raina Telgemeier, and Catherynne M. Valente.

For information on the show, click here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bitch, Moan, Whine...

I swear, sometime in the misty recesses of my youth, I must have really honked off an old gypsy woman or something.

After more than a month of suffering, I finally recovered from an insanely prolonged and painful bout of gout (courtesy of my compromised kidney) only to awake on Tuesday with a shooting pain in my right heel (same foot as the gout, BTW). Plantar fasciitis. I managed to limp through the day. By Wednesday, the pain had increased so severely that I had to dig up a pair of old crutches to get around at all, and today's just as bad or worse.

I've only just now got some pills that might help, but as it is, I cannot carry out even the most basic tasks without blinding, almost-passing-out-from-the intensity pain. Getting from one room to another is a lengthy ordeal. I can't even climb the stairs to my bedroom so that I can lie in my bed! Embarrassingly, I had to call my wife home from work to take care of me.

If I keep my weight off it, the foot only throbs a bit. So, I have been getting some work done at the computer. But one can't stay sitting in the same chair for 24 hours... at least, I can't.

Some fun, eh?

Anyway, as the headline indicates, this post is strictly for venting purposes (although it may also be a cheap bid for sympathy; I leave it to you to judge). Yesterday, near tears, I was actually asking out loud what the hell I'd done to deserve this shit. Now, I'm no saint, and I'm sure I'm at least several kinds of asshole, but I don't hurt people. Hell, I mind my own business, never meddle, and generally don't judge. So why?

This is officially my Worst. Summer Ever.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

HPL @ 119

"Then suddenly I saw it. With only a slight churning to mark its rise to the surface, the thing slid into view above the dark waters. Vast, Polyphemus-like, and loathsome, it darted like a stupendous monster of nightmares to the monolith, about which it flung its gigantic scaly arms, the while it bowed its hideous head and gave vent to certain measured sounds. I think I went mad then."
–– Dagon

Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born on this day in 1890, marking this as the 119th anniversary of the birth of the master of cosmic horror.

A great online resource, containing everything written by the man, is The H. P. Lovecraft Archive.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wednesday Cover: The Huntress

A striking cover by my pal Joe Staton for the first Huntress solo series back in the early 90s.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New DVD Late Show @ FOG

A fresh new DVD Late Show column has been posted at Forces of Geek. And technically, on time.

It's a short one this week, with reviews of Ed Brubaker's Angel of Death, Alien Trespass, Simon & Simon Season 3, and the latest exploitation movie trailer compilation from Synapse Films, 42nd Street Forever, Volume 5: Alamo Drafthouse.

You can check it out HERE.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Summer Reading

I haven't bought many books in a while, but this last week I added a few new titles to my expansive library. The Science Fiction Book Club had a 50% off sale, so I ordered the remaining two Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom hardcover omnibuses (now I don't have to worry about wearing out my treasured paperbacks with the Michael Whelan cover paintings), and the two titles shown above: C.L. Moore's Northwest of Earth and Max Brooks' World War Z.

Northwest of Earth sounds intriguing; apparently it's pulp space opera with a Lovecraftian flavor. I haven't read a lot of Ms. Moore's fiction before, but what few stories I have read seemed superior to most of what was being written at the time. As for World War Z, it's gotten generally positive reviews, and I'm looking forward to reading a good zombie novel.

I also ordered a copy of the last Mike Hammer novel by Mickey Spillane (and Max Allan Collins), The Goliath Bone. Normally, I would have bought that last year as soon as it came out, but I had to wait until I could afford it. I was fortunate enough to have known Mickey, and Collins is a friend, so I'm eager to get my hands on it.

Before I can start on any of those new books, though, I've got to finish reading the spy paperback I'm reading.... and Brian Daley's Han Solo's Revenge, one of the very first Star Wars tie-in novels from the late 70s. I happened upon my copies of both Revenge and its sequel, Han Solo And the Lost Legacy while moving my office, and thought I'd revisit them. So far, it's a perfectly satisfactory space opera adventure novel, refreshingly free of all the history and obsessive continuity that currently afflicts the franchise.

What are you folks reading?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Gravedigger Sneak Peek

Since I'd already posted these on Facebook, it belatedly occurred to me that I should share them here with you guys as well. Here's a teaser for The Predators, one of three stories in the upcoming Gravedigger: Hot Women, Cold Cash graphic novel. The story's fully penciled, so I'm hoping this will be out in early 2010. (Click on images to enlarge.)

Script by yours truly, art by Rick Burchett and Fred Harper.

Wednesday Cover: Private Detective Stories

Artist unknown.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Quick Report From The Front

Uncomfortably hot. Busy. Trying to catch up from my "lost" July. (Today was the first day in a month that I had no pain in my foot, BTW.) Working on a Kolchak script, and hope to have it finished shortly. Then, I have two other scripts I need to get done this month, if possible.

Got my new computer and office finally set up. Need to get crackin' on the editorial/design gig that I supposedly got it for. Having trouble adjusting to the PC/Vista operating system after 20 years of working on a Mac. I just can't find anything and the way it does things makes no sense. I guess I'm stupid.

It does handle media better, though, I'll admit that. Nice to be able to watch online videos and listen to internet radio without them constantly locking up.

Rick Burchett e-mailed me today to inform me that he has completed pencilling the new Gravedigger graphic novel. The first half has been inked by Fred Harper, and the just-completed second half will be going off to him in a matter of days. I'm thrilled.

Further, Rick and I are now free to develop another idea we've been tossing around. It's a cool one, I think. Similar to Gravedigger in some ways, but much bigger in scope, and slightly more fantastic.

I've also recently connected with a talented artist who is enthusiastic about drawing a project that I've had in my files since around 1990. We're developing it slowly – especially since my plate is so full – but I'm very excited about the possibility of finally putting it together. Of course, I have no idea if we'll find a publisher once the pitch/proposal is complete, but I'm guardedly optimistic.

So... sorry I haven't been posting here much. It'll pick up again eventually, and when it does, you can look forward (heh) to a series of in-depth posts on the most epic of 80's action film franchises: the American Ninja quadrilogy.

Bet you can't wait.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

New Tarzan DVDs!

As a follow-up to my recent post where I lamented that there weren't more Tarzan films available on DVD, well, today I discovered that the five jungle lord movies starring Lex BarkerTarzan And The She-Devil, Tarzan And The Slave Girl, Tarzan's Magic Fountain, Tarzan's Peril, and Tarzan's Savage Fury – have been released on DVD by Warner Brothers.

Sort of.

They are only available from the Warner Archive Collection online store, and burned to order. Apparently the studio decided that the audience wasn't large enough for a standard commercial release, and chosen to only make them available in this format. They're available for $14.95 each, or as a complete set for $49.95 (obviously the better deal).

There are some other interesting treasures in there, too, like George Pal's Doc Savage, Man of Bronze (starring TV Tarzan Ron Ely), and Captain Sindbad, starring Guy Williams (one Sinbad flick I don't yet have!). There's a bunch of obscure titles in various genres, including crime, romance and horror. They even have the bizarre 1979 TV movie, The Bermuda Depths, the memory of which has haunted me for years and which, until a year ago, I thought I had just imagined. I certainly never thought it would ever be released on home video.

I haven't bought anything from the Warner Archive yet, but, obviously, I'm going to have to eventually. I really like the Lex Barker Tarzans, and I simply have to see The Bermuda Depths again!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Wednesday Cover: Star Wars

I was thinking about Marvel's Star Wars comics from the 70's today, and remembering how much fun they were. Of course, this was before Lucasfilm really had their vampiric death grip on the licensing, sucking out all the joy and adventure that Star Wars should have and replacing it with an obsessive, convoluted and restrictive continuity. And though these books are kinda sneered at by today's Star Wars fans for being cheesy (this issue kicked off a six-part take-off of The Magnificent Seven* with one of the mercs being a 6' green space rabbit), I always thought cheesiness was part of the franchise's charm ("Luke Skywalker?").

Anyway, I have very fond memories of buying this series – and this issue – at the local corner store. Writers Roy Thomas and (especially) the late Archie Goodwin, spun some sublimely sweet space opera back in the day, and I still love 'em. Fortunately Dark Horse Comics reprinted the entire Marvel run in some nice trade paperbacks, so I can read them over and over again.

* I wonder if this is was where Roger Corman and John Sayles got the idea for their 1980 Star Wars rip-off, Battle Beyond The Stars, which also used The Magnificent Seven as its story template?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

What? It's August already?!

Sorry I haven't been posting much lately. My gout still hasn't gone away, even though the worst of the pain has subsided and I have been able to work again the last few days. It turns out that the gout is most likely caused by the fact that I now only have one kidney, and that one's not working at 100%, so it's probably not producing enough uric acid. Gout, paradoxically, can apparently be caused by having either too much or too little uric acid in your system.

Unfortunately the best medication for treating gout has the potential to damage kidneys, and since I only got one and it's fragile enough already, my doc doesn't want to prescribe it. As she says, I'm "basically screwed." (Yeah, she can be pretty blunt.) So it looks like I'm doomed to experience this particular "ailment of kings" for the rest of my life. And since I also have an unusually high resistance to pain killers... well, my doc put it most succinctly when she said, "Gee, sucks to be you."

Sigh.

Last weekend, my wife and I switched offices. The room I'd chosen when we moved in proved to be too small for all my crap, and as I had a new computer coming for design gigs, I needed additional space for a second work station. So we switched.

My back is still killing me. Desks and books and bookcases and comic boxes are friggin' heavy.

Still, I rather like my new workspace. I'm actually able to display more of my toys (or, as I think of them, inspirations), and now have all my bookcases in one room. I do know that it gets really cold in here in the winter... but I'll deal with that when the time comes. And – I got a new desk chair, so I don't have to use the wooden kitchen chair anymore.

I picked up a few interesting DVDs recently, among them the latest Doctor Who adventure, Planet of the Dead, (liked it) and the latest DC animated feature, Green Lantern: First Flight. I've read some online reviews complaining that the Green Lantern movie is just a cop story set in space, but, um, Green Lantern is a cop in space! With a magic ring! Personally, I loved it... and I was worried I wouldn't, because I really disliked the studio's previous Wonder Woman film.

But, as far as I'm concerned, GL: First Flight is a terrific adventure with some very nice design, animation and excellent voice work, especially on the part of Victor Garber.

We also rented the latest Torchwood series (a Doctor Who spin-off) through Netflix, Children of Earth. I thought it was about 90% successful. It had shocking moments, a downright terrifying alien threat, and some truly horrible ethical choices that the characters had to make. Unfortunately, I thought the main character was, well, somewhat out of character, and I was a bit let down by the ending.

Still, though, it was a pretty remarkable, disturbing five hours of sci-fi drama, and I'm really glad we watched it.

As far as my projects go, I'm trying to make up for my nearly three week incapacitation, and am working on a new Kolchak script for Moonstone. I planned on having it done back at the end of June, so it's my current priority.

I spoke with my Gravedigger collaborators Rick Burchett and Fred Harper today, and according to Rick, he's only a couple pages from completing the second half of the next Gravedigger graphic novella, The Predators! The first half is inked, and Fred will start in on the second half just as soon as Rick sends him the penciled pages. I've given up trying to predict when my comics will be finished, but we all want it out for next Spring.

Richard Clark is steadily sending me lovely pages from our Captain Midnight Zero issue, so that's coming along nicely, and I also received pages this week from Gene Gonzales for Perils On Planet X. They're beautiful – as you can see for yourself from the panels above.

It may take a while, but we'll get there!

I also re-connected with a talented artist I knew about ten years ago, and we're discussing the possibility of collaborating on a new creator-owned comics project. I hope we can get it off the ground – it's another one of those concepts I've been wanting to do for twenty years.

And, finally, the comics line that I'm editing for Michael Hudson – Sequential Pulp – is nearing take off. Our first title, Fredric Brown's Martians, Go Home, adapted from the classic novel by Martin Powell and Mike Manley, will be solicited through Dark Horse Comics this Fall, with Otis Adelbert Kline's Swords of Venus hopefully following soon after.

Then I'll really be busy!