Upping the Ante with Michael Moorcock

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This coming Saturday, April 18 at Austin Books, I’m interviewing Michael Moorcock about his lengthy comics career. Rather than re-iterate his accomplishments (which I did at length in a Nexus Graphica column), I decided to relate this personal and previously untold tale about Michael Moorcock and comics.

I’d know Mike for about 5 years when the idea for a Captain Marvel (or Shazam! as the folks at DC refer to The Big Cheese) comic happened. My buddy John Lucas and I talked with Mike in his home office shooting the shit. This hazy wonderland of geek ephemera delivers a memorable experience with abundance of British pulps, comics (the modern graphic novel variety and the classic Golden Age variety), novels by the famous, talented, and those inbetween, and glass cases of toy soldiers. A cloth-covered table crafted from boxes of books, a comfortable old couch, miscellaneous art, a Gold Record commemorating Hawkwind’s Chronicle of the Black Sword, and the prerequisite overflowing bookcases complete the picture.

A commission by John Picacio

A commission by John Lucas

The three of us were/are big fan’s of C. C. Beck’s goofy creation and his extended family. I don’t remember the exact story we concocted except it dealt with Sivana sending the Marvels to different periods of history. The proposed four issue series would pick up immediately after the heroes final Golden Age adventure, ignoring all of the ensuing DC continuity for the character. Mike suggested tapping the legendary Walter Simonson as the penciller with Lucas inks.

Though now widely respected for his work on several Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse titles, at the time Lucas was practically a neophyte with his best know output in my Weird Business anthology and some work for Caliber. To say John and I were shocked would be an understatement, but Mike wasn’t done.

He picked up the phone and called Simonson. They became good friends while working together on Michael Moorcock’s Multiverse and held each other in high esteem.

After a brief pitch, Walt was on board.

Walter Simonson's Elric

Walter Simonson’s Elric

John and I exchanged amazed glances. Sure, I could call some relatively famous people and get them to work with me (Mike was a good example), but this speed and audacity was a whole new level for us.

He then upped the ante.

He called editor Mike Carlin, who was in charge of a good chunk of the DC mythos. Carlin took Mike’s call and listened to the pitch but politely declined. Apparently DC already had a high profile Captain Marvel project on the horizon, Jeff Smith’s Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil.

Sadly, the project never got beyond that stage. Lucas still has never inked Walt Simonson but that’s okay, he did eventually get to draw Mary Marvel for DC in Starman: The Mist and now routinely gets work (including a Mark Finn-scripted story in the recent Strange Sports Stories #2). Mike and Simonson worked together on several more projects together including Elric: Making of a Sorcerer. As for me, I’m still close with Mike and John and have worked with both of them numerous times over the years (never all three of us together), but my dreams of writing Captain Marvel are long gone.

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The discussion on Saturday starts at 1 at Austin Books. Mike will be signing copies of the recently released graphic novels Michael Moorcock’s Elric Vol. 2: Stormbringer and The Michael Moorcock Library Vol.1: Elric of Melnibone as well as numerous other titles.

THE APES OF WRATH is educational… no, really, it says so right here

Cover by Alex Solis

Cover by Alex Solis

Dr. Joan Gordon, co-editor of The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction and Queer Universes: Sexualities in Science Fiction as well as a frequent writer about the conjunction of science fiction and animal studies, used The Apes of Wrath as the centerpiece for her Hutton House Lectures (Long Island University) five session class “Going Ape in Fiction.”

846. GOING APE IN FICTION Joan Gordon

This seminar will look at the portrayal of our close cousins, the apes, in fiction, as allegories, symbols, mirrors of ourselves, and mindful subjects. We will begin by reading selections from the anthology The Apes of Wrath, edited by Richard Klaw, and conclude with the novel We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler. In between, we will discuss relevant short non-fiction readings. For the first class, please read from The Apes of Wrath “The Apes and the Two Travelers” by Aesop, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” by Poe, and “Tarzan’s First Love” by Burroughs. You might want to prepare by visiting the zoo and eating a banana monkey-style.

WOW!

The finale to my Other Worlds Austin film festival preview

Art by David Poe

The inaugural Other Worlds Austin scifi film festival starts this Thursday, December 4 at the Galaxy Highland Theater. The 3 day event features 11 full length films and a variety of shorts. Not terribly surprising to anyone who regularly follows my writings, I’m covering the festival.

Over the next three days, I will preview the 11 features.

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The Perfect 46

Brett Ryan Bonowicz | USA | 97 min

Writer: Brett Ryan Bonowicz
Producers: Brett Ryan Bonowicz, Sheldon Coolman, Marco Cordero, Whit Hertford, Thomas Campbell Jackson, John Seabright
Cast: Whit Hertford, Keston John, James Kyson, Robyn Cohen, and Don McManus

A geneticist creates a website that pairs an individual with their ideal genetic partner for children.
This ‘science factual’ film has been lauded by MIT Technology Review, Scientific American, Science, and the London Evening Standard as “a worryingly believable cautionary tale.” What if you could have the perfect child?

Saturday, 3:10

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Part two of my Other Worlds Austin film festival preview

Art by David Poe

The inaugural Other Worlds Austin scifi film festival starts this Thursday, December 4 at the Galaxy Highland Theater. The 3 day event features 11 full length films and a variety of shorts. Not terribly surprising to anyone who regularly follows my writings, I’m covering the festival.

Over the next three days, I will preview the 11 features.

download (4)

Space Milkshake

Armen Evrensel | Canada | 85 min 

Writer: Armen Evrensel
Producers: Holly Baird, Billy Boyd, Robin Dunne, Kristin Kreuk, Rob Merilees, Shayne Putzlocher, Amanda Tapping
Cast: Kristin Kreuk, Amanda Tapping, Billy Boyd, George Takei, Robin Dunne

Four blue-collar astronauts find themselves stuck on a Sanitation Station after they bring a mysterious device aboard their ship, ending all life on Earth. Discovering what happened to civilization is only the first of many galactic-level crises the astronauts will have to face as they are about to come under attack by a mutating rubber duck named Gary bent on taking over the Universe. Featuring George Takei as the voice of Gary.

(Friday, 10:30)

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Part one of my Other Worlds Austin film festival preview

The inaugural Other Worlds Austin scifi film festival starts this Thursday, December 4 at the Galaxy Highland Theater. The 3 day event features 11 full length films and a variety of shorts. Not terribly surprising to anyone who regularly follows my writings, I’m covering the festival.

Over the next three days, I will preview the 11 features.

download

The Well

Tom Hammock | USA | 95 min

Writers: Jacob Forman, Tom Hammock
Producers: Seth Caplan, Billy Federighi, Dante Federighi, Jacob Forman, Chris Harding
Cast: Haley Lu Richardson, Booboo Stewart, Max Charles, Nicole Fox, Michael Welch, and Jon Gries

It’s been a decade since the last rainfall, and society at large has dried up and blown away. When a greedy water baron lays claim to what little of the precious resource remains underground, seventeen-year-old Kendal must decide whether to run and hide or bravely fight for the few cherished people and things she has left. A full-throttle action film, The Well features an ass-kicking female heroine in Haley Lu Richardson, and Napoleon Dynamite’s Jon Gries as her nemesis.

(Thursday, 7:45)

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Michel Parry, editor of THE RIVALS OF KING KONG, has died

THRVBSTS041978On Twitter, Kim Newman has reported that anthologist Michel Parry has died. Throughout the 1970s, Parry edited numerous collections including Archives of Evil (two volumes), The Mayflower Black Magic Stories (six volumes), Reign of Terror (four volumes), The Rivals of Dracula, The Rivals of Frankenstein, and most importantly from my perspective The Rivals of King Kong. As the first anthology devoted to ape fiction, Parry’s book at least partially influenced my own book The Apes of Wrath.  Five of the nineteen stories in Apes also appeared in Parry’s. This is what I wrote about Rivals in Apes:

Surprisingly, given the simian’s influential role in popular culture, only one previous anthology of ape fiction exists. Published in 1978 by Corgi, The Rivals of King Kong collected eight reprinted stories, two originals, and an excerpt from one of H. Rider Haggard’s Allan Quatermain books. Editor Michel Parry contributed the introduction and checklist of simian cinema. The difficult-to-locate collectible paperback original commands a ridiculous price ranging from $30-$200.

I didn’t know Parry personally, so I never got the chance to discuss apes with him or to learn what, if anything, he thought of my volume. Or if he even knew it existed or what he spawned.

So Michel, wherever you are, thanks for those early jungle trails.

Cover by Alex Solis

Cover by Alex Solis

The fascinating and surprising LFO comes to DVD

unnamedAt the 2013 Fantastic Fest, I was lucky enough to catch the inventive low budget Swedish picture LFO and starting today, you’ll be able to also as it comes out on VOD/Digital Platforms and DVD.

Here’s what I had to say in my September 26, 2013 The Horn review:

Director Antonio Tublén’s (Original) second outing, the clever LFO, explores a simple concept to its logical conclusions. What if you could control people with sound?

Robert Nord’s (Patrik Karlson) sneering wife (Ahnna Rasch) and disdainful son (Björn Löfberg Egner) drive him into a solitary and lonely life. He lives within his own head and the secure comforts of his basement lair where he pursues experiments with audio frequencies. While working with low-frequency oscillation (LFO), Nord stumbles across a sound that makes the human mind very open to suggestion. He first tests his discovery on himself and then his new neighbors Linn (Izabella Johanna Tschig) and Simon (Per Löfberg). Nord begins to abuse his new found power with catastrophic results.

Tublén, who also penned the screenplay, creates an intelligent geek wish fulfillment film. The tortured Nord, excellently portrayed by Karlson, is your stereotypical geek, who engages in solitary pursuits while dreaming of acclaim and recognition for his activities. Once he masters his newly acquired ability, Nord will go to any mean necessary to get what he wants or perceives the world needs

The inventive low budget Swedish picture delivers a tale awash with guilt and megalomania, haunted by misdeeds of the past and the promises of the future. LFO, fascinating and surprisingly complex, supplies a thoughtful and terrifying analog to what happens when those in control believe they always know best.

Check out this truly unique film.

Stuff received 9/18/14 Austin Comic Con edition

Since my most recent Nexus Graphica is about my adventures at the Austin Comic Con (aka Wizard World Texas), I figured it’d be a good time to catch up with what I picked up at the con.

As-You-Wish

As You Wish
Princess Bride tribute

Signed 11″ x 14″ print from an illustration by Chet Phillips.

Promo copy:

This tribute showcases famous quotes and icons from the Rob Reiner film “Princess Bride” based on the book by William Goldman. Signed on bright white archival 60 lb. paper.

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Rayguns Over Texas garners several honorable mentions

 

Cover by Rocky Kelley

Cover by Rocky Kelley

Even though though Gardner Dozois’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Annual Collection came out back in late August, I’m finally getting around to reporting about the strong showing of Rayguns Over Texas. (Should give you an idea of how crazy things have been at the Geek Compound) While none of the stories were actually reprinted within the volume, seven of the tales garnered an honorable mention.

With Finn, Person, Allston, and Brown receiving additional notice within Dozois’s Summation of the year.

Congrats to all.

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My Fantastic Fest Curtain Call

Poster by Geof Darrow

Poster by Geof Darrow

Here are my final reviews for Fantastic Fest 2014. Between illness and tech issues, I ended up seeing far less than I hoped. I still had, dare I say it, a fantastic time and look forward to reviewing even more films next year.

MV5BODgxMDk3ODI3MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDUwNzU2MTE@._V1_SX214_AL_The most pleasant surprise of the festival, the documentary Kung Fu Elliot delivers a knock out blow with the story of Elliot “White Lightning” Scott. Known throughout Nova Scotia for his low budget chop sockey films such as Blood Fight and They Killed My Cat, Scott’s dreams of becoming Canada’s “first action star.” The unemployed, 30-something Scott, with the aid of his girlfriend Linda’s money and several unpaid actors, spends all of his time trying to reach his goals.

Very reminiscent of younger geeks, Scott’s reality never seems good enough for him. He always embellishes upon the truth about his accomplishments. Being a world class kick boxer is not enough, but he must be the best in all of Canada. Making two films is not enough, but must win several film festival awards. Scott’s story sounds almost too good to be true and as this fascinating film progresses, cracks appear in his tale. Though he imagines himself as the Canadian Van Damme or Chuck Norris, Elliot lacks the charisma, not to mention the martial art skills, of either. Linda at first supports the man she loves until his inconsistent behavior devolves into bullshit.

Embolden with the intriguing and insightful interviews of Scott’s friends, the fascinating tale ventures into unexpected and seemingly unreal territories. With Kung Fu Elliot, directors Matthew Bauckman and Jaret Belliveau expertly deliver one of the best features of Fantastic Fest.

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