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Just saw Frank Miller's THE SPIRIT at the movies.

As a comics fan, I'd be remiss if I didn't go see The Spirit, Frank Miller's film adaptation of the influential series by legend Will Eisner - I was there. Of course I realize the film has not performed quite as anticipated and hasn't been met with glowing reviews.

An industry guy (even if only self proclaimed) I couldn't help but separate the comics industry references from the story itself. This seems to be the thing to do in Hollywood, ever since the Spider-Man movie of 2002: to affectionately name minor characters or small locales in comics-related films after comics industry people (even TV's Smallville named a small bridge in the first season, Loeb Bridge after Jeff Loeb as his comics series, Superman for All Seasons was a big influence on the TV show's take on the early life of Clark Kent).

The Spirit contains several insider references, and a surprise industry cameo - and I'm not talking about Stan Lee. The first comics industry reference is the …

On a snowy day

I’m glad I chose yesterday to trample through Manhattan and visit people as today would have been a much soggier choice. Although, I will not be missing a grand meal tonight with some college buddies (SJU) at one of my favorite places in nYc: Churrascaria Plataforma. I’ve been saving up for this meal… not snow, nor sleet, nor the dark of night can stop me.
Just last night I attended the intimate MoCCA holiday party at their gallery space on Broadway. It was a nice pot luck event and people brought all sorts of goodies for everyone to consume. Some of us brought boozeand we toasted the holidays and the forthcoming year.


The party was fun and a good time was had by all. A long table was provided for those who wanted to show their personal art portfolios, and that was a nice holiday touch. And I know they have many exciting new things lined up for 2009. [below is the director of MoCCA, Karl Erickson, along with volunteer and MoCCA regular Oliver].


As the snow falls quite heavily today in t…

A Collection of SF and Fantasy Review blogs

Over at Grasping at the Wind, John Ottinger (an online reviewer of SF and fantasy books) is trying to collect an updated master list of SFF review blogs, and he's using the crowd-source technique to get the job done. The idea is to have anyone reviewing SF and fantasy to add your own blog to the list, then post it, then backlink to John so he can continually update the list. I've added my blog to the ever-growing list at just about 3:30 p.m. today.

The Accidental Bard
A Dribble Of Ink
Adventures in Reading
The Agony Column
The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
Barbara Martin
Bibliophile Stalker
Bibliosnark
BillWardWriter.com
Blood of the Muse
Bookgeeks
Bookrastination
Bookslut
Bookspotcentral
The Book Swede
Breeni Books
Cheryl's Musings
Critical Mass
Dark Wolf Fantasy Reviews
Darque Reviews
Dave Brendon's Fantasy and Sci-Fi Weblog
The Deckled Edge
Dragons, Heroes and Wizards
Dusk Before the Dawn
Enter the Octopus
Eve's Alexandria
Fantasy Book Critic
Fantasy Cafe
Fantasy Debut
Fantasy…

Keeping an Ear to the Grindstone

As we approach another week's end, I gently keep an eye on the publishing world and what other shoes, sneakers, and boots may have dropped.

McFarlane Toys has announced cutting a few positions, reports The Beat. Nothing major, but obviously even the mighty Spawn creator & toy licensor has felt the sting of a stingy market.

Heidi, at The Beat, also has a nice piece about Nickelodeon magazine's (Nickmag.com) first comic book awards - a neat little piece about the enduring love of comics for youngsters - where they get to vote. Check it.

Also, a publisher I've always loved due to their beautiful design aesthetic, kitchy book ideas, and most-excellent superhero-themed spiral notebooks, Chronicle Books (based in San Francisco) announced that they have also felt backlist sales soften and must tighten the belt strap somewhat, reports Mediabistro's Galleycat blog, here.

The more I hear about "freezes" on salaries, publishing layoffs, and other related happenings, th…

Dear Old Dad

Sure, yesterday was a tough day, and I don't have much to report on officially today. But I didn't want that to be my last post. So I'm writing again with a little aside, a small personal story about my family.

I found this picture and I thought I'd write about it. My father loved his horror movies. He loved a good scary film and interesting tv shows as well [like the X-Files, Highlander, and the like]. This is something my family always shared, a love of entertainment, good stories, horror, sf and fantasy. I have memories of watching Abbot and Costello with him on Saturday mornings at 11:00 A.M. [my favorite being the one when Wolfman fights Dracula fights Frankenstein].

He was also a big fan of little trinkets and doodads. He built little shelves in his workshop for tools, gadgets, etc. He also always ordered little trinkets through the mail, there were always little boxes and things, he was just a sucker for them. [I wonder which of us 3 children inherited that trait…

Grim times in the old book trade

It’s all over the blogosphere. Publishers are making major changes. One publishing news site already referring to today as Black Wednesday. That’s awfully disheartening. But reality, it might be.
Major reorganizations at Random House. The head of Simon & Schuster’s Children’s division “leaving the company.” Lots of shake up at Houghton Mifflin/Harcourt after they announced a freeze on new acquisitions. Also, Christian publishing house, Thomas Nelson announced that it’s cutting 10% of its staff, approximately 55 people (according to Publishers Weekly). Hard times all around. Even if god is your copilot.

The Comic Book and SF & Fantasy world have been affected too. I’ve read about layoffs at Wizards of the Coast, the CEO of Devil’s Due leaving his position along with a few staffers let go. And word from L.A. is that Tokyopop has let a few people go.

Also, a few comic book magazines made some startling announcements this week as well.

The Comic Foundry — only in its fifth issue — de…

Attended SFWA “Mill & Swill” at Society of Illustrators

Last night was the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) yearly event celebrating all those involved with the proliferation of science fiction and fantasy publishing (which usually falls on the heal of Philcon, which was just this past weekend). It is the party thanking all the authors, editors, and other industry professionals for their involvement in the field at the swanky Society of Illustrators locale on East 63rd street.

Earlier in the evening, I met my partner-in-crime for dinner and we discussed the publishing world and how we’re glad to be celebrating fiction and our lives in it even in these hard economic times. It felt good to be able to kick back with some friends and have a drink.

At the party, I ran into Tricia Narwani, editor at Del Rey Manga, handling all sorts of interesting books these days. It was good to see her. I also caught up quickly with Liz Gorinsky, Assoc. Editor extraordinaire at Tor books, she seems to be everywhere these days (it must be one…

Packed house at MoCCA for European Comics Event

Last night’s event at the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) was terrific. It was a packed house, all in attendance to listen to the gifted European comics creators talk very personally about the books they’ve brought to life.

I was volunteering, working at the bar providing refreshments after the conclusion of all of the speeches, and even from my vantage point, you could see that all eyes and ears were tuned into the art of comics creation being spoken about. MoCCA also had large monitors spread out for those of us who weren’t in the main seating area, making it easy to see and listen to the slide shows the creators had prepared.


There were enlightening presentations from all of the creators. Check out Heidi MacDonald’s Publishers Weekly comics culture blog, The Beat, for the expert write up (and a much better photograph than mine of the signing afterwards). She also posts a link to one of the comic book trailers shown by German cartoonist, Isabel Kreitz, promoting her WW II Rus…

MoCCA event this evening: Graphic Novels from Europe

Hey everyone, I'll be volunteering at the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art this evening, as they're hosting an event celebrating Graphic Novels from Europe. This art is from the postcard they sent out last week, announcing events all week at various places throughout the city.



Tonight's event will be at the MoCCA museum right on Broadway, below Houston St. It should be a blast and I hope to see some of you there. I also plan to write a follow up about it here, so stay tuned.

Details are available on the MoCCA website here.

Comic Book Review of B.P.R.D. 1946 (Volume 9) tpb

This may be the darkest of the B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) books to date. And that is saying a lot.

But, man was it good. As I’ve mentioned before, the BPRD books have continued to impress and sustain, taking place in the Hellboy-spawned world many of us have come to love.When I saw the name of this newest storyline, 1946, I tried to be patient and wait for the trade. I’m not a total trade paperback convert (I still buy approximately 50% of my comics in floppy issues and 50% in trades. It’s part of my past struggling with the newer me who likes the trades crammed in my book shelves for easy access, loaning, and re-reading.

Since I own all of the other BPRD books in trade format, I needed to continue in this way, although I felt the urge to buy the floppies, as they called out to me each month from the comic shop racks.

Then there is the heavy-WW II angle in this book, which I like just fine. Remember, Hellboy was discovered in 1944 by the Allies, right before t…

World Fantasy Convention 2008 wrap up (late).

Here's a quick World Fantasy Convention 2008 summary, before too much time gets away and I forget to post about it entirely. I really enjoyed my trip to Calgary last week, the cold winter hadn't set in there and the Halloween weekend was quite enjoyable. Well, here I go with an attempt to cover it entirely.


We arrived on Thursday, easy enough flight, and found the weather tolerable and the hotel easy to navigate. Pete and I found the registration area and were with badges and our bag of free books. I lugged home as many as I could, but did leave a few on the exchange table (a good idea I thought). One of the cool things is that Del Rey sent a few hundred copies of Pete's The Warded Man to be part of the gift bags, randomly put in. This was awesome, and it was exciting to see people walking around with, reading and discussing my friend's new book.
In true convention form, we quickly aquainted ourselves with the bar for a pint and a delicious lunch, and a quick cheers with…

"Hit Neutral in the Tail of a Comet..."

Lost in Space...


I am finally home from a really cool weekend in Calgary, my first trip to Canada. World Fantasy Con 2008 was all it was cracked up to be and although I’m very tired now, I am very glad to have attended [and I will be reporting on it in detail soon].

But if I may move in reverse, reflecting on the trip in a backward time travel-like sort of way, I have to tell you about this awesome exhibit at the San Francisco International Airport. And although we were not looking forward to a stop-over in San Fran after a long weekend away, there was something eerily right about walking through a science fiction-y exhibit after attending a fantasy books convention all weekend.

Taken from the official press release:
Out of this World! The Twentieth-Century Space Invasion of American Pop Culture features more than 300 space-themed objects from the 1930s through the 1980s, from children’s toys such as flying saucers, space guns, rocket ships and robots, to everyday household objects like a…

Last known sighting of soon-to-be famous author

I snapped this photograph yesterday, of soon-to-be published in the US, one Peter V. Brett. He was about to have his first public reading of a little book we like to call The Warded Man.

Did he survive? Did he make it out alive? It was halloween afterall, with ghoulish fiends everywhere. Did his temporary warded tattoos save him? Was the reading a success?
You'll have to stay tuned loyal reader. As there are two more days of World Fantasy Con left, and, "...I have many miles to go before I sleep. Many miles to go."Tune in next time, same Bat-time, same Bat-blog.

Off to Calgary and World Fantasy Con

I wanted to quickly chime in because bright and early tomorrow I’ll be heading to Calgary to attend my second World Fantasy Convention. I’m very excited as I’ve never been to Canada before and I really enjoyed WFC last year in Saratoga, and this year looks to be a great convention as well.

The WFC con last year was great, and not only because I was there trying to build interest for a new SF imprint I was developing at the time (which sadly didn’t pan out) but also because it is a professional convention and I’m still working my way up in this world. It seems there are so many people to meet and much to learn as I go.This convention is a great opportunity for me to see publishers, editors, writers and artists talk about their craft and experiences. I’ve met so many wonderful people over my years working in publishing and I’m glad to have finally begun attending WFC as I’ve been a lifetime reader, proponent, and book seller of fantasy fiction.

Also, I’m glad to be joining my good friend

three guys attend Comic Book Club

I attended my first Comic Book Club: Live! show last night along with fellow deviants, Matt Bergin, good friend, publishing professional, and Indy co-creator of the Division 18 comic. That's him in the foreground as Pete and I sadly try to find the address.


Also, Pete Brett, my good buddy, and exciting new fantasy author with his debut novel hitting stores this March: The Warded Man (from Del Rey Books). The book is already out in the UK entitled, The Painted Man, and it's already a best-seller. Here's a photo of Pete with the UK edition (published overseas by the Voyager imprint at Harper Collins).


We've been meeting for years at Midtown Comics, where we buy our weekly comics, talk shop over lunch, and we figured it was finally time to check out this cool little show.

Comic Book Club is a live comic book talk show, hosted by a couple of comics fans: Justin Tyler and Alexander Zalben (as well as Pete Lepage - currently away on his honeymoon. Yes, comic book fans can actu…

Back in the saddle

I enjoyed my weekend in Albany attending this year's Albacon but now I am back at home, at my desk, and hard at work editing a book for the good folks at Casemate. It seemed like serendipity that although I was in Albany to geek out on panels and discussions about science fiction and fantasy, I also walked through town and saw many sights and plaques dedicated to events from the time of the Revolutionary War which is related to the project I'm working on at this moment.


My partner-in-crime, Peter Brett, [red hot new fantasy author], participated in many panels at the convention, and it was fun for me to participate as part of the sometimes intimate crowd. We made the best of the show and met some really nice and interesting people along the way, some of whom I may write about here once I get their "ok". We also attended the con's "Ice Cream Social" as anyone who knows me knows I can't pass up free ice cream [and being social].


Aside from our adventure…

Hitting the road

I'm just about ready to head out to my first Albacon, a regional SF&F convention. October is the best time to do any kind of road trip as the foliage will be beautiful and I'll be attending with my trusty partner-in-crime, Peter V. Brett.

Pete will be participating in his first panels as an author and I'm very excited to support him as he takes this next step in career as a fantasy author. Check out his blog here for updates on the con and his experience as panelist.

I'll also attempt to capture some of the convention experience from the point of view of an editor on the prowl. Stay tuned.


Attended WHAT A MAN SHOULD KNOW reading by Max Blagg at STRAND

I received an invite via email, sponsored by J.Crew’s new ‘The Liquor Store’ in Tribeca, for a reading by Max Blagg from his new book, What a Man Should Know – a J.Crew book.The reading took place on the third floor of the STRAND bookstore on Broadway, a perfect locale; I couldn’t have picked a better place myself. This amazing room was filled with first editions, signed editions and had an old world aura that brought me back to another literary time…if only for a while.Our illustrious J.Crew hosts served up free drinks and I was ecstatic to sample a Dark and Stormy, which I had recently been introduced to while on vacation in the Catskills with my wife recently. Perfect. All I needed was a cigar from Hemmingway, and to talk about big game hunting.
There were also charming appetizers and miniature mugs of beer to sample like the one in the picture below. And best of all, there were copies of the new book, for free, compliments of the illustrious hosts.

The author, a transplant from Engl…

A Good Wednesday

It’s been a long time since I’ve been psyched for a Wednesday. But today I am psyched. First off, I’m heading to Midtown Comics which I haven’t been to in several weeks. Now that may not seem strange at first glance, but I’m a guy who has been a regular at Midtown since it opened, and a regular Wednesday comic book buyer since about twelve-years-old. Now sure, there were some lapses and breaks over the years. But no flat-out hiatuses, I’ve always been a comic book reader. This week I’m excited to get back to the shop and meet my good buddy for lunch afterward. Comics and lunch, it doesn’t get any better.

The one highlight of the week [which I sadly can't afford at this moment] is the ABSOLUTE RONIN Hardcover by Frank Miller (DC Comics)
[Above is original trade paperback cover art - by Miller]

I loved this book when it first came out, mixing samurai legend and a science fiction-like jump to a future time; it's a tale about second chances and vengeance. Written and drawn by Frank…

Kim Deitch: a retrospective Opening Reception at MoCCA

I volunteered last Friday night at MoCCA (that's the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art) at the opening reception for a new exhibit focusing on legendary independent artist (and all around nice guy) Kim Deitch. MoCCA had recently renovated their museum space, and the studio looked incredible. Somehow, I was unable to snap a picture of the esteemed artist with my sad little cell phone camera [this photo of the artist was found via a google search] but I did capture some of the ambiance of the event when able as you'll see below.


Deitch was born into an animation family, the son of animator Gene Deitch. His early work in the underground comix movement of the 1960s solidified his place among the indy comics elite and he has worked non-stop ever since. The MoCCA exhibit, a Kim Deitch retrospective, features samples his art from over the years and it is an excellent collection of his work.
At first some friends, fans and other curious folk appeared and took in the original art, sketche…

a day to remember

I drove to Astoria Park today, walked around for a bit, then sat under a shady tree to read and write a little. It was a beautiful afternoon, and I listened to the sounds of the city off in the distance as I read some of The Road, and did some research for a new book I'll be editing. An occasional jogger went by, as did the occasional motorcycle or truck in the distance, and even a boat or two passing beneath the Hell Gate Bridge.


I found the perfect shady spot, not far from where I propsed to my wife, nearly two years ago. I sat in the shade of a tree that had roots which made a natural seat on the ground. It was nice to have a peaceful afternoon, at a special locale, on an important day that generally makes me very sad. I think I just found my new favorite spot for the Fall.

It’s Hard to Watch

It is painful to watch my team loose like this. Yes, my team. I’ve been watching the Raiders, especially on Monday Night Football, for as far as I can remember. Late nights in high school, where my dad would let me stay up late to see if the Raiders could pull off a comeback, like they did back then against Denver when down 24 – 0. It feels like I’m in high school once again. Too many young players and lots of mistakes being made.

Even worse, it’s tough to listen to it all. Once the announcers get on one side of the game it’s just bla, bla, bla. Eddie Royal, a rookie from West Virginia is having the game of his life and listening to the announcers talk about him like he’s god’s gift…brings be back – yet again – to how the announcers used to talk about John Elway. If I had a nickel…

And I like the Mike & Mike guys, especially with Coach Ditka as the 3rd Mike in the booth. But didn’t anyone brief them that you don’t TALK OVER the officials when they’re calling a penalty. It’s like the…

As I continue with my networking assault...

I make lots of lists. Lists of people to contact, people to check in with, and odd contacts not heard from in a while. I'm all about lists. So as September has arrived and I look ahead this Fall, I am doing my best as a humble freelancer, to stay in touch with the many publishing contacts I've made over the years.

At the same time a good friend of mine, and hot new author, Peter Brett is in the UK for the launch of his new fantasy novel, The Painted Man. Check out his blog for details about his the visit to the HarperCollins UK office, his book store signing, and all that. I wish I was there with him, as it is all very exciting to experience this with him as a friend and publishing professional. I'm very proud.

"Damn, it's a very exciting time."

Attended Cory Doctorow MEETS DJ Spooky: A CBLDF Benefit Mashup

What can I say about the two creators who met last night to talk about things WAY over my head? It was mind-blowing. Both Cory Doctorow and Sir DJ Spooky were two of the most-learned men I’ve ever listened to, throwing around references on just about everything from the German music scene circa 1920 to governmental initiatives that I didn't even know existed. I was quite-literally blown away by their collective creative output and their top-notch computer-savvy knowledge.


Attending with good friend and co-creator of the small press comic DIVISION 18, Matt Bergin was my co-pilot for this strange trip. We were in awe of the accomplishments of these two seemingly young men: Doctorow being the former European director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and DJ Spooky able to negotiate with the Greek government to be allowed to play a remixed version of a controversial film at the Parthenon - amply modified with speakers to his liking of course.How do they do it?
All of this was wort…