Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Out from under

For the first time in months I have no pending writing jobs or deadlines hanging over my head. Now I can do stuff like, I dunno, watch a DVD instead of...watching a DVD and feeling guilty about it because I should be writing that thing instead. Of course I'll still be writing every night, but without the crushing guilt and shame. Except for the crushing guilt and shame that's with me every waking moment -- but that's another story, doctor.

The biggest thing on my plate this past month was an essay for an upcoming book on the Legion of Super-Heroes being compiled and edited by Tim Callahan, who is both author of Grant Morrison: The Early Years and my close personal friend.

I got an early copy of Tim's book -- the first of a promised three volumes, corresponding to three phases of Morrison's career to date -- at NYCC this year. I've read it all the way through more than once since then...most recently while trying to get in the right frame of mind to write in a similarly analytical manner about old Legion stories from Adventure Comics. Tim strikes a very good balance in writing about comics from a literary perspective without getting mired in lit crit jargon. He hasn't got anything to prove; if you're reading a book about Grant Morrison in the first place, presumably you're already of the opinion that Morrison's comics are worth writing about and stand up to close reading. If you're that sort of person, and I am, this book is well worth a look. The sample pages at the sequart.org link above as well as this appreciation of Morrison's early "Future Shocks" from 2000 AD will give you a good idea of whether or not the book is for you.

Do not think for a moment that my appreciation of the cultured and urbane Mr. Callahan is in any way influenced by the fact that a piece of my writing is now awaiting his approval. The last thing I would ever want would be for his objective evaluation of my work to be swayed at all by my deep and heartfelt admiration for the brilliance of his critical insights. Fortunately, a man of such high moral and ethical caliber as Mr. Callahan would not allow his head to be turned by mere flattery. Truly a paragon among men, and one whose example we can all but hope to emulate.

Writing at length about the Legion of Super-Heroes was a trip and a half. I was heavily involved with organized Legion fandom back in the day, but that day was a long time ago. Doing the essay was partly an act of personal archaeology. I tried to look at those stories more objectively than I ever did before in a way that I hoped would satisfy the editor (mere words cannot do justice, I am unworthy to offer praise) and maybe even persuade a few readers that those stories were a bit cooler and more innovative than they might seem from a distance of more than forty years. It's probably a safe bet that anyone reading a book of essays about the Legion already thinks that, but who can say for sure?

About a hundred times while writing it, I wished comics scholar supreme Richard Morrissey was still around so that I could check my facts with him and get some historical insight...and then a hundred times I would realize that if he were around I wouldn't have been writing it in the first place, because he was better qualified for the task.

Anyway, that's all done with, and I'll be starting on a new round of pitches and query letters soon. Here's a thought, maybe I'll write some blog posts too...


  1. >>watching a DVD and feeling guilty about it because I should be writing that thing instead.<<

    funny you say that. before i went full-time freelance, i thought i'd be seeing a movie a day in the theatre. but that never panned out because any moment i do i'm sitting there thinking "i could be working on something."

    i didnt even get around to seeing Spiderman 3.

  2. Ah, glad the project turned out well! Or at least, finished?

  3. rob: thanks to Netflix, we can have that experience in the privacy of our own homes every night. And a "me too" on that last part: I wonder if I'll go longer without seeing Spider-Man 3 or X-Men 3...?

    john: I ended up taking so long about it that I finally just sent it; whether or not it's actually finished depends on what the editor has to say...

  4. rab, your essay is excellent, of course!

    I'll let you know if it needs any changes once I see how the whole book comes together.

    Also, see you in New York next weekend!

  5. Although I'm a little disappointed that you think of me as a "paragon among men." Perhaps "eternal paragon through all time and space without restriction to race or gender" would be more comprehensive (and surely what you intended to imply).

    I mean, geez. You call that a compliment!?!?

  6. Tim, I was simply concerned that not specifying gender in this context would do insufficient credit to your sheer rugged manliness.

  7. Oh, are you writing a thing for the Legion book too? Cool. I hit 'reply all' on that last e-mail Tim sent out, to see who I could pick out, but I didn't recognize that one of those e-mail addresses was yours.


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