New (to me) volume of The Obscure Cities coming soon!

I ran across this preview of The Theory of Grain and Sand at CBR:

 

The second book of The Obscure Cities series following The Leaning Girl. Gholam Mortiza Khan comes to Brüsel to sell some jewelry, but before the sale can be closed, Khan dies in an accident. Thus begin events sparking an investigation by Mary von Rathen: accumulation of sand in the apartment of Kristin Antipova; accumulation of stones in the house of Constant Abeels, and Maurice who is loosing weight by the day. The events have a catastrophic effect on Brüsel and time is of the essence.

Newly translated into English by Ivanka Hahnenberger and Steve Smith (translator of The Leaning Girl and The Beauty) and edited by Smith and Karen Copeland at Alaxis Press for publication by IDW.

  • First time translated into English for western readers!

 

To say I’m excited would be an understatement. When The Leaning Girl came out back in 2014, I had this to say:

After a freak accident, thirteen year-old Mary Von Rathen begins to lean at a 45 degree angle. After nothing fixes her affliction, her selfish mother and hen-pecked father send her away to a private school. Shortly after, Mary runs away and quite literally joins the circus where she remains for several years, performing her amazing leaning girl act. A newspaper editor tells her of a scientist, Axel Wappendorf, who is planning on a journey to a planet that might unlock the secret behind Mary’s trouble. Interspersed within Mary’s tale, is the story of fine artist Augustin Desombres, who escapes from his busy world and buys an empty building on the French countryside. He begins painting murals of strange globes and worries about his sanity. Mary’s and Wappendorf’s explorations bring them into a collision course with Desombres and hopefully the answers that Mary’s seeks.

Part of the legendary Obscure Cities sequence, this extraordinary French graphic novel serves as an ideal introduction to the long running series produced by writer Peeters and artist Schuiten. Expertly employing the tropes of 19th century science fiction, the duo’s creation achieves the unique duality of both very familiar and very different. Schuiten’s exquisite line work pairs perfectly with Peeters’ prose in creating the mythical worlds, outlandish ideas, and commonplace people. Further enhancing the work’s uniqueness is the Fumetti style of Desombres’ story as envisioned by the black & white photography of Plissart. The riveting, beautiful Leaning Girl fascinates, while providing one of the best reading experiences of the year.

Years later and, The Leaning Girl remains one of my all time favorite comics. I’m eagerly awaiting the next volume.

Until The Theory of Grain and Sand comes out, I’ll just have to be satisfied with this sample page. Visit the CBR post for more images from the book.

The Other Worlds Austin 2016 preview Day 4

Design by tattoo and graphics artist David Poe

Design by tattoo and graphics artist David Poe

After two successful years, the Other Worlds Austin scifi film festival returns this Thursday, December 1st, in new digs (Flix Brewhouse) and with an additional day. The now four day event has grown to include 18 full length films, a slew of of shorts, and an appearance by B-movie legend Sybil Danning, the late Dan O’Bannon’s wife Diane O’Bannon, and others. Not terribly surprising to anyone who regularly follows my writings, I’m covering the event.

Here’s what to expect at Other Worlds Austin 2016.

 

Sunday, December 4

 

12:20 PM SCIFI SHORTS 2 – TOMORROW’S HEARTS BROKEN TODAY

Stripes (Texas Premiere)
Tibo Pinsard | France | 4 min
Writer: Tibo Pinsard

Another first date gets hijacked by two people unable to get past their own masks.

Memoir (Texas Premiere)
Alexander Jeffery | USA | 17 min
Writer: Paul Petersen

Dr. Theodore Maine is on the cusp of losing his job at Janus Labs where he is developing research for Alzheimer’s treatment, until a mysterious child arrives to change his future forever.

RAE (Texas Premiere)
Aaron Rovner | USA | 13 min
Writer: Aaron Rovner

When an office robot gives a co-worker a friendly gift, the fragile balance between the employees in the office is pushed to a tipping point.

Una Mujer Sin Precio 1961 [A Priceless Woman]
(Texas Premiere)

Juan F. Moctezuma II | Mexico | 15 min
Writer:  Juan F. Moctezuma II

When a perfectionist scientist loses his wife to a car accident, he builds a robotic version to replace her, in this newly restored classic from the missing genre trailblazer, presented by documentarian Alaric Rocha.

 The Lost City Of Tomorrow  

Auden Bui | Canada | 16 min
Writer: Auden Bui

Sent to shut down a floating film archive orbiting high above Earth, a bureaucrat meets an android caretaker whose love of film makes him almost more human than his counterpart.

Beautiful Dreamer
David Gaddie | USA | 26 min
Writers: David Gaddie, Steven Kelleher, & Ken Liu

Facing a terminal disease, a mother uses space travel and relativity to stretch her last two years over the lifetime of her baby daughter, building a relationship despite the longing and estrangement that mark seeing each other only once every seven years.

 

12:45 PM STILLE RESERVEN [HIDDEN RESERVES]

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Valentin Hitz | Austria | 96 min

Writer: Valentin Hitz
Cast:  Clemens Schick, Lena Lauzemis, Daniel Olbrychski, & Marion Mitterhammer

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With powerful companies running the Vienna of the not too distant future, only the privileged elite can afford death insurance. The rest suffer their corpses to be used long after their passing in life-support farms, until their debts are paid. When Insurance agent Vincent Baumann goes undercover to ‘sell’ activist Lisa Sokulowa on his services, he discovers a brewing revolution that may be worth cashing in his own policy.

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The Other Worlds Austin 2016 preview Day 3

Design by tattoo and graphics artist David Poe

Design by tattoo and graphics artist David Poe

After two successful years, the Other Worlds Austin scifi film festival returns this Thursday, December 1st, in new digs (Flix Brewhouse) and with an additional day. The now four day event has grown to include 18 full length films, a slew of of shorts, and an appearance by B-movie legend Sybil Danning, the late Dan O’Bannon’s wife Diane O’Bannon, and others. Not terribly surprising to anyone who regularly follows my writings, I’m covering the event.

Here’s what to expect at Other Worlds Austin 2016.

Saturday, December 3

11:30 AM UNDER WORLDS SHORTS

Blight (US Premiere)
Briane Deane | Ireland | 15 min
Writer: Matthew Roche

A young priest travels to an isolated island community to face a dark supernatural force that has consumed a young woman.

Girl #2 (Texas Premiere)

David Jeffery | USA | 9 min
Writer: Kari Wahlgren

Even with a deranged killer running rampant inside the house, the girls still vie for leadership in the sorority.

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Quenottes [Pearlies] (Texas Premiere)
Pascal Thiebaux, Gil Pinheiro | France/Luxembourg | 13 min
Writer: Pascal Thiebaux

In many cultures, the tooth fairy that brings you a coin in exchange for the tooth under your pillow is a benevolent little mouse.  But what if the teeth he collects are dental trophies, to be guarded at all costs?

Whit Spurgeon | USA | 4 min
Writer: Stephen Newman

In the middle of the night, things should be quiet. Sometimes things go thump.

Photo 8 NASTY_-_still_08.jpg

Nasty
Prano Bailey-Bond | UK | 15 min
Writer: Anthony Fletcher

Exploring the mysterious disappearance of his father, twelve-year old Doug is drawn into the lurid world of VHS horror ‘nasties,’ in Margaret Thatcher era UK.

Ángel Ripalda | Spain | 12 min
Writer: Santiago Manuel Taboada

Troubled at school, ten-year-old David complains he is not the one to be blamed for his mischief.  His father hires a specialist to discover the truth.

John the Carpenter
Matt Braunsdorf  | USA | 19 min
Writer: Matt Braunsdorf

After a car accident throws his sister Anna into conflict with a terrifying monster, John constructs a trap to revenge his sister’s sacrifice.

Allhallowtide (Texas Premiere)
Tia Salisbury  | UK | 9 min
Writers: Tia Salisbury

Dan has no time for housemate Molly today, which is just one more annoyance added to her being mute and dead for 180 years.

 

11:45 AM BATTLEDREAM CHRONICLE

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Alain Bidard | Martinique | 108 min
Writer: Alain Bidard
Cast: Jacques Olivier Ensfelder, Yna Boulangé, & Steffy Glissant

battledreamchronicle_still02
After the empire of Mortemonde reduces the populations of almost all the nations of the Earth to slavery, they force each slave to collect 1000XP every month in Battledream, a video game where they can die for real. Only the successful are granted the right to live until the next month. But Syanna, a young slave from Martinique, the last free nation on the planet, refuses to keep living under these condition.

Continue reading

The Other Worlds Austin 2016 preview Days 1 and 2

Design by tattoo and graphics artist David Poe

Design by tattoo and graphics artist David Poe

After two successful years, the Other Worlds Austin scifi film festival returns this Thursday, December 1st, in new digs (Flix Brewhouse) and with an additional day. The now four day event has grown to include 18 full length films, a slew of of shorts, and an appearance by B-movie legend Sybil Danning, the late Dan O’Bannon’s wife Diane O’Bannon, and others. Not terribly surprising to anyone who regularly follows my writings, I’m covering the event.

Here’s what to expect at Other Worlds Austin 2016.

 

Thursday, December 1

 

7:42 PM RETRO GALA: BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS
DEFENDER OF THE UNIVERSE AWARDEE: SYBIL DANNING

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Jimmy T. Murakami | USA | 105 min

Writers: John Sayles
Cast: Richard Thomas, Robert Vaughn, John Saxon, George Peppard & Sybil Danning

Sybil Danning

Sybil Danning

A young farmer (Richard Thomas) sets out to recruit mercenaries to defend his peaceful planet, which is under threat of invasion by the evil tyrant Sador (John Saxon) and his armada of aggressors. Among the mercenaries are a Space Cowboy (George Peppard), a spacegoing truck driver from Earth (Morgan Woodward); Gelt, a wealthy but experienced assassin looking for a place to hide (Robert Vaughn); and Saint-Exmin, a Valkyrie warrior looking to prove herself in battle (Sybil Danning). The film was legendarily pitched as ‘Magnificent Seven in Space.’ Produced by Roger Corman in the wake of the Star Wars cash-grab phenomena, the film also features one of the first scores from James Horner, and the below the line talents of Gale Ann Hurd and James Cameron.

(Sybil Danning will be in attendance)

 

Friday, December 2

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From the Cutting Room Floor: Bruce Sterling on Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and more

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Back in April on the eve of the annual SXSW Interactive Festival, I met with Bruce Sterling for an interview that’ll be in the forthcoming Pirate Utopia. While roughly 90% of the original discussion made it’s way into the finished book (due out in November from Tachyon Publications), this bit, which I post following the description of the story, was deemed too timely an accompaniment for a tale about events set in Fiume following the First World War.

Cover by John Coulthart

Cover by John Coulthart

Who are these bold rebels pillaging their European neighbors in the name of revolution? The Futurists! Utopian pirate-warriors of the tiny Regency of Carnaro, the unlikely scourge of the Adriatic Sea. Mortal enemies of communists, capitalists, and even fascists (to whom they are not entirely unsympathetic).

 

The ambitious Soldier-Citizens of Carnaro are lead by a brilliant and passionate coterie of the perhaps insane. Lorenzo Secondari, World War I veteran, engineering genius, and leader of Croatian raiders. Frau Piffer, Syndicalist manufacturer of torpedos at a factory run by and for women. The Ace of Hearts, a dashing Milanese aristocrat, spymaster, and tactical savant. And the Prophet, a seductive warrior-poet who leads via free love and military ruthlessness.

 

Fresh off of a worldwide demonstration of their might, can the Futurists engage the aid of sinister American traitors and establish world domination?

Bruce elaborates on the current US Presidential Election, the obsession with Donald Trump, and other worldly matters.

RICK: Are we talking about “we” as the world?

BRUCE: Everywhere, really. The people in the US are obsessed with Donald Trump; in Italy they’ve just…they’re not worried about him, they just know he’s [Silvio] Berlusconi. “Oh, you’ve got Berlusconi! You’ve got a Berlusconi!” Everybody knows what’s going to happen: he’s going to feather his own nest and have a lot of sex with very young women and everyone around him will be as corrupt as he is, ‘cause he bullshits all the time. The thing that is attractive about Berlusconi is that he doesn’t make you do anything. It’s actually kind of relaxing; everybody knows what he’s going to do: he’s just gonna get up and start bullshitting, laughing, swinging his dick around, cheering for the soccer team, driving fast cars. He’s not particularly malignant or anything, and you know he’s not gonna bother you. He’s not going to like, ask you to rise to the level of you better nature. On the contrary, everybody should be in the mud with me! Let’s just relax! Where’s the problem? We’re winning! It’s just very hard to accomplish anything with this bullshit all the time. The fix is in; his cronies aren’t very good, he doesn’t really have a plan, he’s kind of winging it, and it’s very debilitating for stuff like foreign policy, tough economic decisions, infrastructure development, like “Where are you gonna put the highway?” “Who cares?” It’s hard to get rid of him because everybody’s so demoralized by the louche atmosphere of the fish rotting from the head down. Until the guy just becomes nuts and just like, starts having public orgies and just loses all sense of proportion, then it becomes sort of embarrassing. It’s like, well, if we allow ourselves to be associated with this utter pervert. But he’s still in business in Italy and scheming to return to power, and he has guys in his court. But the American problem here, of Trumpism or whatever, is not unique to the US. On the contrary, Britain, which is normally the sane guy in the room has extremely weird politics right now: Scotland is running away, the Bernie Sanders-figure who took over the Left can only talk about breaking free from Europe and there’s no particular reason for them to do that at all, real estate in the capital city is totally out of control, nothing is working. These are normally the people who people ask advice from, Mother of Parliaments, can you come in and show us how to set up your legal system,’cause everything’s broken, the Mayor of London is a lunatic. They have it. The French have it. It’s very bad in France. Italy is sort of okay, but only by Italian standards, Russian politics is very weird right now, it’s kind of Putin and nobody else, he doesn’t know what he’s doing and he’s kind of being led by the nose by these weird Ukrainian rebels very like the Fiume thing. They talk about Fiume all the time. All the guys in the Ukraine are big D’Annunzio fans. Fascism is on the rise; there’s a lot of nativist parties all over. And all the global things breaking down–nobody’s going to pass the Pacific Trade Agreement; nobody wants it: the Right doesn’t want it; the Left doesn’t want it. The Euro might break up. We’re just passing into an era of considerable political discord, which is typical of a large-scale economic depression that people can’t get out of. People have just lost faith in their system, and not just in the US, all over the place. There’s just nobody who’s on top of their game. Maybe Canada, but Canada was crazy until a couple of months ago. They were really eccentric. So, it’s a situation that really doesn’t have words for it, and the people who would normally be describing what’s going on are really at sixes and sevens; they just literally don’t know what to say. If you go back and read some press coverage of, say, the American presidential election, it’s got a lot of coverage and absolutely nobody has any idea what’s going to happen. Twitter exchanges just turn out to be blisteringly detached from reality, and just, like, looking for weapons of mass destruction that just plain aren’t there; shock and awe that nobody is shocked by or awed by–weird, crazy shit, and it’s getting worse. Now they’re shell-shocked. Nobody wants to say anything about anything. The only thing that’s kind of good about it, historically speaking, is that the level of violence is really, really low, except in Moslem countries, where they’re busy killing each other. They don’t even kill the West very much. You would think from the violence of the rhetoric that everybody would be out tear-gassing each other, but you’ve got stuff like a guy grabbed a reporter’s arm at a rally and maybe left a few bruises, and it’s as if a nuclear weapon had been detonated. There’s no political violence. There’s lots of personal violence. Every week there’s a massacre by some schizophrenic who just cuts loose with an automatic weapon, but there’s no political violence at all, seriously, any. There’s police killing black people, but there’s no riots, no Watts, no smashing, grabbing.

By John Coulthart

RICK: There’s certainly no rioting in the streets, killing people.

BRUCE: No assassinations. The universities, which are usually super-violent in times of political unrest are sort of like people cowering in safe spaces. They’re locking the doors and staying inside and kind of crying quietly into a handkerchief. It’s a very strange epoch, but not super scary. There’s no purges, the wars aren’t much of a war. Now, the Ukrainian war is kind of serious, but it’s one of the worst wars I’ve ever seen just in terms of the inability of the guys fighting it to know anything about a war. They’re like motorcycle gangs with missiles: “Let’s shoot a Dutch airliner out of the sky!” “Why? Did you check the code to see if it was a civilian?” “I don’t know, I just saw it and blew it away!” Terrible. Really just a terrible military. It’s a joke how bad they are.

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RICK: There’s been a lot of people thinking that the rhetoric is going to lead to violence.

BRUCE: It should have done lead to it a long time ago. America has a very rough and tumble style of politics. The ideological polarization is complete. People say Hillary Clinton is unelectable because everybody on the Right really hates her and her unfavorables are sky high, but there’s nobody on the Left who has any favorables with anybody on the Right. They hate Sanders more than they hate her, and he wasn’t even a Democrat. Anybody who even looks like a leader on the left is immediately totaled. There’s nobody they’d agree with at all. They don’t like any standard leftist, not that there are many left. I mean, it might as well be her, because there’s no other candidate who isn’t just as detested, or wouldn’t be immediately. She’s been around for a zillion years. She might still lose the primaries; she’s not a very charismatic campaigner. And it’s a pity she’s kind of the Ma Ferguson of US politics, but at least she’s not running around with an armed militia having people lined up and shot. She’s not liquidating people and it’s not, in of fact, a particularly violent thing, and that’s what’s historically puzzling to me about it. You would think, looking at the history of the past 120 years that if people were really this badly off that there would just be lots of rioting. What happened to them? Are they all in jail?

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RICK: Especially as armed as we are now.

BRUCE: I actually just suspect that they’re spending all their time typing on screens. They’re literally just too busy to go burn anything. They’d rather be on Facebook.

The interview is but one of the bonus goodies in the inexpensive $19.95 hardback. The legendary Warren Ellis of comics and novel fame offered up the introduction. The extraordinary Christopher Brown, whose debut novel Tropic of Kansas is coming out 2017, delivered the insightful afterword. And finally, the incredible John Coulthart supplied the gorgeous cover, interior illustrations, interior design, and design notes, making for a truly incredible looking volume.

This all serves as a prelude to Bruce’s fine writing, which is of course the centerpiece of the book. The story is getting all sorts of positive buzz.

[STARRED REVIEW] “Noted sci-fi maven and futurologist Sterling (Love Is Strange, 2012, etc.) takes a side turn in the slipstream in this offbeat, sometimes-puzzling work of dieselpunk-y alternative history. Resident in Turin, hometown of Calvino, for a dozen years, Sterling has long been experimenting with what the Italians call fantascienza, a mashup of history and speculation that’s not quite science fiction but is kin to it. Take, for example, the fact that Harry Houdini once worked for the Secret Service, add to it the fact that H.P. Lovecraft once worked for Houdini, and ecco: why not posit Lovecraft as a particularly American kind of spook, “not that old-fashioned, cloak-and-dagger, European style of spy,” who trundles out to Fiume to see what’s what in the birthplace of Italian futurism-turned-fascism? Lovecraft is just one of the historical figures who flits across Sterling’s pages, which bear suitably futuristic artwork, quite wonderful, by British illustrator John Coulthart. Among the others are Woodrow Wilson and Adolf Hitler, to say nothing of Gabriele D’Annunzio and Benito Mussolini. “Seen from upstream, most previous times seem mad,” notes graphic novelist Warren Ellis in a brief introduction, but the Futurist project seems particularly nutty from this distance; personified by Lorenzo Secondari, a veteran of World War I who leads the outlaw coalition called the Strike of the Hand Committee in the “pirate utopia” of the soi disant Republic of Carnaro, its first task is to build some torpedoes and then turn them into “radio-controlled, airborne Futurist torpedoes,” not the easiest thing considering the technological limitations of the time. A leader of the “Desperates,” who “came from anywhere where life was hard, but honor was still bright,” Secondari and The Prophet—D’Annunzio, that is—recognize no such limitations and discard anything that doesn’t push toward the future. So why not a flying pontoon boat with which to sail off to Chicago, and why not a partnership with Houdini to combat world communism? A kind of Ragtime for our time: provocative, exotic, and very entertaining.”
Kirkus

 

Look for Pirate Utopia this November.

Now it can be revealed: Joe R. Lansdale’s HAP AND LEONARD: BLOOD AND LEMONADE

Cover by Elizabeth Story

Cover by Elizabeth Story

As many of you may know, I was the editor for Tachyon Publication’s Hap and Leonard, a collection of Hap and Leonard short pieces. It contained all the extant stories (several have been published since) and timed to premiere with the SundanceTV series of the same name. Turns out the book, much like the TV series, was a success, enjoying a reprint shortly after publication. I was tasked by Tachyon publisher Jacob Weisman with approaching Joe about a second Hap and Leonard collection to come out when the second season premiered.

Joe: No. I won’t give Tachyon a second collection.

 

Me (flabbergasted): Huh? But.. the book.. it sold well.. it has a cover you love… we can guarantee Elizabeth [Story, who did the first] again… but.. why?

 

Joe (with a cocky smile): I want to do an original Hap and Leonard novel.

 

Me: I think Jacob will be okay with that.

The book Hap and Leonard: Blood and Lemonade is a mosaic novel of sorts. That’s when you take a bunch of related stories and connect them with adjoining pieces ala The Martian Chronicles and the like.

Here’s some copy I threw together to help explain the book. I hope the fine folks at Tachyon can gussy it up a bit.

Since their first appearance in Savage Season through the recent hit SundanceTV series, the unconventional ass kicking duo of Hap Collins and Leonard Pine captured the hearts of fans everywhere. Now in this unconventional novel, creator Joe R. Lansdale explores the beginnings of the decades long friendship between the white, liberal, good ‘ol boy Hap and the black, Republican, gay, Vietnam veteran Leonard. The complicated tale of violence and humor, set in the racist, homophobic late 60s East Texas, introduces the two boys who grew up into the men, who become far more than friends. They call each other brother.

Watch for Blood and Lemonade this March.

It’s ArmadilloCon time again: Where I’ll be talking, signing, etc.

 

It hasn’t rained in forever, the mercury is hitting triple digits, and we’re just passed the halfway point of the baseball season. It must be time for ArmadilloCon once again!

This year’s con, the 38th such affair, takes place this coming weekend (July 29-31).

Guest of Honor: Wesley Chu

Special Guest (Artist): Dominick Saponaro

Artist Guest: Christina Hess

Editor Guest: Joe Monti

Fan Guest: Ken Keller

Toastmaster: Joe McKinney

 

Tachyon publisher Jacob Weisman and I having a good time at Armadillocon 38 (photo: Brandy Whitten)

Tachyon publisher Jacob Weisman and I having a good time at Armadillocon 38 (photo: Brandy Whitten)

 

As I have for roughly the past 25 years, I’ll be in attendance and because apparently the con organizers have learned nothing, I’ll be sitting in on several panels.

Tarzan
Fri 6:00 PM-7:00 PM Ballroom D
Allen, Finn, Klaw*, Lansdale, Williams

This session will include a history and appreciation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s character Tarzan, the evolution of the character over time, how different Tarzans have been suited to the times in which they were created, and, of course, the 2016 movie.

Cover by Rocky Kelley

Cover by Rocky Kelley

Autographing
Sat 1:00 PM-2:00 PM Dealers’ Room
Cupp, Klaw, Hilbert, Johnson, Reasoner

 

Attack of the Sequels
Sat 2:00 PM-3:00 PM Ballroom D
Johnson, Klaw*, Maresca, Moore, Sisson, Sullivan

All of this year’s big budget SFF movies were sequels. What are the implications for writers and fans?

 

Classic SFF for Your E Reader
Sat 6:00 PM-7:00 PM Southpark A
Hardy*, Klaw, Rose, Simmons, Wagner, Young

Out-of-print SFF classics are now showing up as e-books. What should you be downloading?

Cover by Alex Solis. design by Elizabeth Story

Cover by Alex Solis. design by Elizabeth Story

Comic Books on TV
Sun 2:00 PM-3:00 PM Ballroom E
Benjamin, Bennett, Ewing*, Klaw, Oliver, Rountree

Panelists talk about comics we are seeing on TV, which ones they like and why, plus any hot rumors as to what is coming up.

 

There will be one difference from previous years. I’ve decided to clear out some of the massively overcrowded Geek Compound, so I have a table this year where I’m selling a bunch of books, graphic novels, comics, and DVDs. Most of the books, graphic novels, and DVDs will be half cover or less (with a sprinkling of collectible books marked higher). Comic books will all be 50 cents each and ARCs $1. For every 4 items, you purchase you get one free (of equal or lesser than your lowest price item).

 

Hope to see everyone this weekend.

Come see me discuss Tarzan & other apey goodness

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Luckily for me some things never go completely out of style. For example, Tarzan comes and goes. And for that reason, I’ll be discussing the legendary ape man from 7-8pm on Thursday, July 28 at Austin’s Malvern Books as part of their bi-monthly Fantastical Fiction series.

Cover by Alex Solis. design by Elizabeth Story

Cover by Alex Solis. design by Elizabeth Story

I’m guessing some other ape goodness will abound as I’ll be signing my anthology The Apes of Wrath (and pretty much anything else you put in front of me).

Hope to see you there.

What’s Old Is New or Kickstarting Joe Lansdale’s RED RANGE

First edition cover by N. C, Wyeth with Martin Thomas

First edition cover by N. C, Wyeth with Martin Thomas

In the 90s, I co-founded MOJO Press, first as a way to publish Weird Business (which I recounted in “The Secret History of Weird Business”) and ultimately as way to introduce the burgeoning graphic novel industry into mainstream bookstores.

Of MOJO’s 18 titles, I edited 15 of them including Joe R. Lansdale’s and Sam Glanzman’s Red Range. Shortly before the graphic novel’s publication, I left my post as managing editor with the press itself going away soon after.

Though the book received largely positive reviews, due largely to the press’s demise, Red Range became one of Lansdale’s rarer books.

Joe R. Lansdale’s certainly a modern legend himself, having been around for some time now. But comics artist Sam Glanzman’s got an even more legendary historical grounding, having been professionally drawing for six decades or so. These two worthies have collaborated on Lansdale’s graphic novel, RED RANGE. The first page of RED RANGE itself begins full tilt with graphic ultraviolence as Lansdale and Glanzman plunge us into a 19th century Klan lynching of a black Texas family. Abruptly in the midst of the atrocity, the Kluxers are interrupted by a mysterious rider who’s a deadly shot with both his pistols and long-range Sharps buffalo rifle. It’s the feared and hated (by the KKK, at least) Red Mask, a tough, lethal, black man who wisely keeps his identity concealed. Writer Lansdale’s unerring ear for exotic period and regional dialog remains constant. His penchant for grim humor appears throughout. His hardcore, hard-nosed sense of social conscience remains intact.

–Edward Bryant, Locus (1999)

Sam Glansman cover to the new edition

Sam Glanzman cover to the new edition

Thankfully, Drew Ford’s It’s Alive is attempting to bring Red Range back into print through the auspices of Kickstarter. This new edition will be in full color (previous was in b&w), have an afterword by the legendary Stephen R. Bissette, and introduction by me. Yes, some 15 years after I finished working and promoting the book, I’m revisiting the striking work.

If you’d like to see Red Range back in print, and really what Lansdale fan wouldn’t, go support the Kickstarter. For a few shekles, you can score a beautiful, new edition of this “lost” Lansdale.

Lost Review: Attack the Block

Beginning in December 2005 with my history of apes in film essay “Gorilla of Your Dreams” (the substantially update and revised version appears in The Apes of Wrath), I regularly contributed to Moving Pictures Magazine. First in the print incarnation and then for primarily the website. I contributed reviews and essays for the last three years of the publications existence. Following the June 2011 demise of both the print and website editions, all of the digital work for MPM disappeared into the ether. In the coming months (years?), I plan on reposting many of my reviews and articles.

With John Boyega getting his “big break” in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I thought it’d be a good time to take a look back at his first starring role.

Attack_The_Block_2

Attack the Block
Reviewed by Rick Klaw
(July 2011)
Directed and written by Joe Cornish

Starring John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, and Nick Frost

Following in the successful footsteps of recent low budget science fiction films District 9, Moon, and Monsters, writer/director Joe Cornish’s freshman outing Attack the Block, produced for an estimated £9 million (roughly $14 million), delivers a superior diversion, grounded in a quality script and innovate direction.

After mugging young nurse Sam (Jodie Whittaker), a group of South London teens witness a small meteor crash into a nearby car. While searching the vehicle for valuables, an alien, a three foot high being that looks like a hideous skinless baby, bites gang leader Moses (John Boyega) and runs away. The boys give chase, eventually catching and killing it. Wielding their trophy, the thugs return to their block, an urban apartment building for the poor similar to the America projects. Soon terrifying creatures—a cross between a large dog and a small bear with pitch black fur, no eyes, and glowing white teeth—hunt the scared young men. In desperation, they eventually turn to the savvy Sam to help keep their wits and sanity.

Masterfully manipulating his meager budget, Cornish effectively employs actors in suits, rather than the now-standard and more costly digital portrayal, for his scary monsters and uses his native South London as the gritty backdrop. Employing age-appropriate actors, fronted by the mesmerizing newcomer Boyega, the motivations and emotions of the clever and impetus group lend an air of realism to an otherwise absurd concept. The wholesome Whittaker supplies a much needed counter to the testosterone-infused scenes as the mother/sister/object of desire. The popular Nick Frost (Paul) adequately supplies his nearly stereotypical comic relief role as the bumbling stoner.

The intelligent story offers no explanation for the origin of the aliens nor does it ever waiver from the ground level urban perspective. The fun and creative action sequences provide more excitement than the vast majority of big budget productions.

An exciting, often humorous and unique 88 minutes, Attack the Block, much like the movies mentioned above, heralds a major new imaginative filmmaker. See it now before Hollywood spits out the inevitable crappy remake.