Saturday, December 03, 2011

Just in time for the holidays

Guess what? A new edition of the anthology Minutes to Midnight: Twelve Essays on Watchmen, edited by yours truly and featuring a dozen awesome writers, is now available on Amazon and Createspace for the new low price of $11.99. That's 40% off the original cover price.

And that's not all. It turns out a new edition of Teenagers from the Future: Essays on the Legion of Super-Heroes, edited by Tim Callahan and with an essay by me, is now $19.99, which is shockingly low for its doorstop-like 340 pages.

Everything published by Sequart has been well worth reading and is highly recommended; these are merely the two books I had the most to do with. More information on the line wide price cuts here.

I'm still waiting for word on these titles becoming available as digital editions. So far only Grant Morrison: The Early Years by Tim Callahan and Improving the Foundations: Batman Begins from Comics to Screen by Julian Darius are available for the iPad; further details can be found here. I'll pass along any further info as it comes in.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Tonight, President Obama heads to Gotham Bar and Grill on 12th Street between Fifth Avenue and University Place for a fundraising dinner with 45 supporters who contributed $35,800 apiece for the honor, including Caroline Kennedy, Jerry Seinfeld, and Susan Sarandon. They'll dine on Satur Farms beet salad, 28-day dry-aged prime Niman Ranch steak with marrow mustard custard, Paffenroth baby carrots, Vidalia onion rings and Bordelaise sauce, Migliorelli Farm Honeycrisp apple strudel, and chocolate pecan pie with cinnamon ice cream for dessert. I definitely wouldn't turn that meal down, though I'd want to pay less for it.

Right now, the area surrounding the restaurant is cordoned off with metal barricades along that block of 12th Street, and along Fifth and University from 11th Street to 13th Street. Many officers at every intersection. We've had this President in this neighborhood a few times before and it's never been like this. Understand, these barricades don't do anything other than making it harder to park along any of those streets, and people are doing that anyway. It's still possible to walk right past the Gotham Bar and Grill and people are still doing that too. It's not for reasons of security. It's about security theater. The NYPD wants to make sure we see those barricades there so that we'll know they're in charge of the situation. I assume they anticipate some kind of Occupy-themed protest and are sending a message of authority and control. No hijinx will be tolerated. It was exactly the same in lower Manhattan on November 17th in the midst of the protest march; everything was running smoothly and traffic and pedestrians were going about their business normally that evening, except for the massive police presence making sure you knew they were there and slowing everything down long after the march had gone past.

Still, it's an interesting location Obama's fundraisers have chosen. The intersection of 12th Street and University Place became notorious a couple of months ago. That's because the Gotham Bar and Grill is right across the street from this spot:

This has been a very strange year for my neighborhood. Just in the past four months we've had an earthquake, a flood, and a police riot, not to mention multiple protest marches and acts of civil disobedience. Part of me hopes it will be a bit quieter next year, but another part of me is glad I don't have to feel like I'm missing out on any of the excitement.

Update: photos from today here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pre-viral alert

Before everyone else on the Internet posts a link to them, I want credit for being the first person to tell you to look at these famous comic covers adapted by Kerry Callen.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Police action

The start is a bit of a shock, but watch the whole thing. You might not expect how it ends.

This took place on Friday afternoon, November 18. Video found on and further discussion at Boing Boing.

Update: more video from another vantage point here. The officer casually using pepper spray against nonviolent students as if he's treating his garden for aphids has been identified as a Lt. John Pike. Some folks are suggesting that in honor of his actions, the unnecessary use of pepper spray against peaceful protestors who pose no threat or resistance should be referred to as "Piking" and those who carry out such action be called "Pikers."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Utter bloody shambles

My birthmates Adam and Becca are both away on highly dangerous top-secret government missions requiring complete abandonment of their blogs for security reasons (I am forced to assume) so I'm all by myself for the birthday commemorative post this year. That being the case, I'd like to share a bit of personal archaeology and self-indulgence -- not specifically birthday-related, but instead a memory prompted by something Andrew Hickey mentioned a few days back.

On the evening of April 14, 1969 I was left alone in front of a television set. If we're being brutally honest that probably happened more often than my parents would have liked to admit, but on the other hand just look how I turned out. What I saw that particular night was so scary and inexplicable that it stayed with me…though it became so muddled as the years went by I began to wonder if I'd simply dreamed the whole thing. A supervillian or magician or mad scientist had kidnapped a quartet of rock musicians and turned them into robots. (Or had he built robot doubles to take their place while they remained in captivity? I wasn't sure.) I couldn't recall the rock group escaping and defeating their captor. I remembered something about the villain laughing as the show ended. Could the bad guy have won in the end? Surely that couldn't be right? For many years, I would remember bits of this at odd moments and wonder. Honestly, I would literally be lying awake in bed at night thinking what the hell was that?

As a teen, I wondered if this was some tv appearance by the Beatles, or if I was misremembering something from the movie Help!, but further investigation quickly proved that wrong. In my twenties, it seemed obvious that unfortunate quartet of abducted musicians must be the Monkees, and when the series aired as a marathon on cable I watched it closely. When nothing showed up matching my recollections, I became even more convinced it must all have been some kind of delusion on my part.

It was four decades after the original airing before I found out what it really was: I had seen the ill-fated NBC broadcast of 33 & 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee, a legendary fiasco of television history. I'd remembered the plot pretty accurately, as it turns out, and watching it as an adult my confusion was easily explained: it really was as strange and hallucinatory as I'd remembered it. The difference was, now I utterly loved it. That something so chaotic and undisciplined and shambolic, something so unfiltered and utterly of its moment, could have found its way onto national television is remarkable. And as I've said elsewhere, some of the music on this show is just spectacular.

More discussion of 33 & 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee can be found here and here. Here's the finale of the program, featuring the Monkees joined by The Buddy Miles Express, Paul Arnold and The Moon Express, Brian Auger, Julie Driscoll and the Trinity in a jam session. This is one of my favorite tv musical performances, even if it took forty years to realize that. Just once, almost by accident, this aired on network television:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Forgetting to remember

I guess it's inevitable that Occupy Wall Street will give in to the pressure to issue a list of specific policy demands, but I still wish they wouldn't. A list of demands would turn a protest movement into a hostage situation. It risks becoming a form of blackmail. "Agree to this list of conditions or we'll never return this captured piece of property." And OWS isn't a hostage situation; it's about calling attention to a broken system, not trying to take advantage of the brokenness to achieve the wishes of a small group undemocratically. This is the kind of thing the banks and financial institutions have been doing that we're all so unhappy about.

Anyone reading this has got to be familiar with current Doctor Who, right? The banks and corporations are the Silence. You're supposed to forget they exist as soon as you look away, but they own our country and our government and our mass media. To follow this analogy down the most obvious path, the Occupy movement all around the world is like the Doctor and his team. For the past month they've been the ones making us notice what we're conditioned to ignore and forget, and telling us not to look away.

(Yes, I realize that analogy followed to its logical conclusion leads to the human race being conditioned to kill them all on sight, but I hadn't really thought that far ahead. There is such a thing as being too literal, okay?)

The people in Zuccotti Park aren't the ones doing the occupying. They're the ones protesting the occupation.

crossposted from Google+

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The word from high

(click to enlargify)


Maxwell's is located at 1039 Washington Street in Hoboken, NJ (map) about a dozen blocks north of the Hoboken PATH station or four blocks south of the 14th Street Pier.

If you're attending NYCC, ferry service leaves for Hoboken every twenty minutes from 39th Street and 12th Avenue, directly behind the Javits Center. If you're not attending NYCC and aren't already in midtown Manhattan, PATH might be a better option.

Tickets are available at venues listed on the flyer. Sure to be the best $10 you could spend that weekend. Hope to see you there!

Update: In response to this post, there has been an outbreak of comics history over at Rip Jagger's Dojo. All passengers are advised to remain seated until comics history has come to a complete halt.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Another place you can find me not doing a whole lot

I know, I know, I know. I've neglected my homestead here and the place has gone to seed. The last thing I need is to be distracted by some shiny new hangout in another part of town. But they have pinball there! And a billiards table!

Anyway, I'm now on Google+ thanks to an invite from a friend who is infinitely cooler than I ever could be. However, I can strive to emulate him at least in some small way. So if you're there yourself, please feel free to look me up and circle me, or whatever the operative verb would be. And if you're not already on Google+ but would like to be, I surely have an invite or two to spare. Just let me know.

Things just haven't been propitious for any kind of longish writing lately, and the really brief posts I've done recently never felt to me like an appropriate use of the blogging form. I'm thinking that Google+ might be the best place for the one or two sentence updates and photos and YouTube videos, the lightweight stuff I haven't been sharing anyplace online mainly because I'm not on Twitter nor Facebook. I've avoided Twitter only because I fear the temptation of being sucked into it; I've avoided Facebook only because it is pure evil.* Maybe this can act as a substitute for both.

Let me emphasize that I'm not giving up blogging here. I love blogging here. Longer posts will appear whenever I feel like it. Could be next week. Or next month. Who says this isn't the astounding Estoreal Age of Delayed Gratification? Until then, face front, true believer!

* Yes yes yes, I know. Google may also be pure evil…but as far as I can tell, regular folks have more options to protect themselves against Google than they do with Facebook.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Children remember Sarah Jane

Recommended only if you're willing to risk a fair-sized lump in your throat. Here are comments left by young viewers in memory of Elisabeth Sladen on the BBC website:

CBBC - Newsround - What are your memories of Sarah Jane star?

I don't think I've ever seen something like this for a children's show before, but it's a very good thing for the BBC to present online. Not just in terms of paying tribute to one of their own or honoring a well-liked celebrity and respected actor, but in sending the message to kids that it's safe to acknowledge the fact of death and normal to feel upset when someone you like dies. Even if it's someone you only knew from watching television with your family.

As I said in a comment to cerebus660, describing Lis Sladen as best known for her role in Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures kind of misses the point: a lot of folks now in their forties and fifties, and still others who might not even be ten years old yet, know her best for being there during our childhood. It's not that a companion from Doctor Who is gone, but that we've lost a companion.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

No cover no minimum

(via The Mary Sue)

Please forgive the extended absence. A bit longer before I'm up to blogging again, but this I had to share right away. I recommend viewing in fullscreen mode for the total effect.

P.S.: And now there's a sequel with 100% more Ian Anderson!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Totally called it

Me back in October:

NYCC may have to consider adding a fourth day, and making that extra day for industry and trade people, including librarians and teachers and press. For people who are working during the con, those early hours on Friday before the doors open to the public might end up being the only chance they have to see the rest of the con (as it was for me). And really, the definition of "professional industry person" is becoming so diffuse, it's not so elitist as it might once have been. It still rankles to make the suggestion. I come out sounding like the guy who's just got in, trying to pull the ladder up behind him. But it may have to happen.

According to the official NYCC blog today:

NYCC will take place over four days this October. New York Comic Con has experienced exponential growth since it was launched in 2006, and our expansion into a fourth day now will allow the show to accommodate even more attendees and provide additional programming and business opportunity for the artists, creators, and exhibitors who are the foundation of the show's success.

According to the blog, NYCC 2011 will be from Thursday, October 13 through Sunday, October 16. The show is open to the public all day Friday through Sunday, plus a limited number of four day tickets will be sold.  Thursday will feature academic programming beginning at noon, and the show floor will be open for professional hours and a new preview night on Thursday from 4 to 7 PM.

I don't think this will ease crowding at all on the other three days, but that isn't the purpose of this move. If folks who are working the convention or attending it as guests actually get to see the rest of it first, they'll be in a better mood -- it won't be quite so much like being herded through cattle pens and getting put on display -- and I think that will make the overall convention experience a tiny bit nicer for everyone. But maybe that's me trying to rationalize privilege as a universal virtue. I expect to be working behind a table (or two) again this year, so the extra day makes a huge difference for me.

One other surprise is that tickets go on sale February 7.

Monday, January 10, 2011

For the man who has everything but

What do the above images have in common? Colorist Tom Ziuko.

I used to act as Macintosh troubleshooter/repairman/tutor for Tom about ten years ago, when he lived in a tiny closet-sized apartment near the U.N. building in midtown Manhattan. When I say this place was closet-sized, I mean it literally -- I know for a fact some people who read this blog have closets larger than that whole apartment. Tom shared the apartment with a three-legged cat; there wasn't enough room in that place for a fourth leg. Tom was one of the nicest people I ever worked for, and absolutely one of the sweetest and most generous people I encountered in the comics field.

When I was looking over Tom's published credits, I was surprised by just how many landmark comics series and cult favorites he was directly involved with. Among many others and in no particular order, Tom was colorist on such titles as Mazing Man, Amethyst, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Legends, Thriller, Phil Foglio's Angel and the Ape, and John Byrne's Superman reboot. My own favorite comics work of his is the 1985 Superman Annual by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons preceding their collaboration on Watchmen. Check out that link at the start of this paragraph for more of his credits.

In spite of all his ability and all this terrific work to his name, a health crisis has left Tom in financial peril. I've donated what I can, and the only other thing I have to offer is trying to raise awareness. The comic book business has been pretty hard on a lot of people who worked on comics I loved, and pretty hard on friends of mine who were employed by it. Tom is both of those, and you'll understand I get kinda tired of watching it happen. Read this post at Daniel Best's blog and see what you think.

Also, comics scripter and letterer Todd Klein offers a post about Tom that really captures the guy.