Archive for the ‘link du jour’ Category
Filed Under link du jour, pulp
Another link from my friend Joe. This one is a blog by Ron Fortier called Pulp Fiction Reviews. It’s exactly what it sounds like, only Ron reviews modern day, pulp-inspired novels, as opposed to ancient stuff you’ve got to scour used book stores to find.
Ron knows what he’s talking about too, by the way, when he reviews this kind of stuff. I’ve mentioned him a couple of times before
in relation to pulp projects he’s written, but he’s also written pulp comics like The Green Hornet
Filed Under adventure, link du jour
When I first met Dan Taylor he was just another guy on Steve Niles’ message board, but before I knew it he was writing and publishing a hilarious comic called Super Hero Happy Hour (later shortened to Hero Happy Hour). It was about superheroes who hung out at a neighborhood bar during their down time. Sort of Justice League meets Cheers.
It only lasted several issues before going on hiatus, but it wasn’t long after that that Dan was hired as an editor by IDW Publishing. Now he’s editing their new line of Star Trek books.
Dan’s a great guy and I’m sure he’s a terrific editor, but he’s also a talented writer and I’m hoping to see more from that side of him soon.
Filed Under adventure, link du jour
I’ve talked about Gail Simone before on this blog, so I’ll keep it brief this time. Gail took over writing DC’s Birds of Prey comic at a time when I was struggling to stay interested in it. I’d started reading Birds of Prey because I was a Black Canary fan and she was a cast member, but the focus of the series was usually on someone else. Gail changed that and not only gave my favorite character more attention; she also did great things with the dialogue, giving the all-female team a sort of Sex in the City/Gilmore Girls vibe.
Gail’s said a couple of times that her success with the series is due to her caring so much about the characters in it. It’s that attention to fun and interesting characters that makes me such a fan of her work; not just Birds of Prey, but all of it. She knows how to create an intriguing plot too, but I’d be perfectly happy reading an issue in which she had a bunch of characters do nothing but have lunch.
Filed Under link du jour, mystery
I first heard of S.J. Rozan after her book Winter and Night won the Edgar Award. I hate picking up series in the middle, so I went back and started reading her Lydia Chin/Bill Smith mysteries from the beginning starting with China Trade. I’ve been hooked ever since.
It’s amazing how Rozan can change her voice from book to book. The first person narrative switches between her two detectives from novel to novel. Lydia Chin stories are optimistic and light-hearted, while being packed with insight into the life of an American Born Chinese woman. You’d think that Rozan was Chinese herself.
Then again, from reading the Bill Smith stories, you’d think that Rozan had actual experience being a hard-boiled, middle-aged man. On those books, she’s a modern day Chandler or Hammett. She doesn’t spoof or parody or even echo those guys; she just uses words in a similar way to create the same kind of mood those guys did.
Bill and Lydia appear in each others’ stories, so it’s also fascinating to see how dark Bill is when he’s narrating his own tale juxtaposed with the way Lydia sees him when she’s telling the story. Conversely, Lydia is much less confident in herself when she narrates than she appears to be from Bill’s point of view. Any novelist wanting to write convincingly diverse characters should study Rozan’s work.
And so should any mystery writer who wants to learn how to pace a mystery without giving away too much at the beginning, or holding back so much that it comes out of nowhere at the end. Rozan is a master at feeding you all the necessary clues to solve the mystery, but keeping you so distracted by the entertaining characters that you don’t pay enough attention to the clues and risk spoiling the ending for yourself.
Filed Under link du jour, mystery
I didn’t waste a lot of time getting to the theater to see The Ninth Gate. I mean, the main character was a “book detective,” someone who hunted down rare and unique volumes. Combining detective-work with a love of books was a sure-fire way of getting my attention. Especially with Johnny “The Coolest Man in the Universe” Depp playing the detective.
Too bad the movie blew.
It was great up until the overly fantastical ending that came out of nowhere and left me scratching my head, partly over trying to figure out what had just happened exactly, but mostly over what the heck the screenwriters must’ve been on when they wrote it. It ruined the rest of the film for me (the biggest crime of all), but I thought that it was so weirdly different from the rest of the movie that maybe the book it was based on, The Club Dumas, ended another way. Someone had already recommended The Club Dumas to me, so I decided that I had to figure this out. Even if the book and movie ended the same way, maybe it would make more sense in the book.
I’m not gonna ruin the book, because it’s now one of my favorite novels of all time, so I’ll just say that it’s much more satisfying than the movie and leave it at that. It’s got everything the movie has: the mystery, the suspence, the intrigue, the love of books, the danger; but it’s also got an ending that works, and it has much closer ties to The Three Musketeers (another all-time favorite of mine) than are obvious in the film.
I haven’t yet dug into the rest of author Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s work, but it’s obvious that he enjoys the same kinds of stories that I do: adventurous — almost swashbuckling — mysteries that even when they’re set in the present have some kind of historical angle to them. I’ve got a couple on my reading pile right now, and I can’t wait to get to them.
Filed Under adventure, fantasy, genre, horror, link du jour, scifi
You guys know how much I dig the pirates right? Well, even I have to draw the line someplace and I was pretty convinced when I first heard about the Sea of Red comics series that “vampire pirates” was going to be the place. (I would also be willing to draw it at “ninja pirates,” just in case you’re wondering.) Still, there was something about the design of Sea of Red, with its parchment-like paper and unique mixture of red and black ink. It was too pretty not to give a closer look, and I’m glad I did because I learned that writer Rick Remender has the same attitude towards genre that I do: ignore it.
Remender took a silly high-concept and made it work because he concentrated on telling an interesting story about sympathetic characters. Rather than being locked in by the restrictions of its genres, Sea of Red quickly became a book in which anything could happen.
Remender’s follow up book, Strange Girl, about a teenager stuck in the demon-infested, post-Rapture world, did the same thing. It’s a post-apocalyptic horror/adventure story with healthy doses of drama, comedy, intrigue, and theological exploration.
Next, Remender came up with Fear Agent, a series dedicated to putting the sexy back into scifi, another cause that I can absolutely get behind. And Fear Agent’s focus on action and adventure proved that Remender was just the right guy to write Dynamite Entertainment’s comic based on the classic version of Battlestar Galactica.
Remender’s a great example of a writer who obviously loves genre, but doesn’t feel trapped by it.
Filed Under horror, link du jour
I had dinner with a buddy last night and the 100-page Rule came up in conversation. We talked about how there are too many great page-turners out there and not enough time to read them all, so we’ve got no business forcing ourselves to read books that aren’t grabbing us. I offered Preston and Child’s The Relic up as a recent book that I couldn’t get through fast enough. It’s too bad the movie that was made from it was so average, but the book is exciting and chilling and just keeps pushing you forward until you’re done.
That, plus the fact that Preston and Child have inter-connected their stories by having characters and organizations crossover from book to book, makes me very interested in reading more by them.
Filed Under adventure, comics, link du jour
This’ll be a short one. I don’t personally know Jeff Parker and I don’t know much about him except that I really really like Agents of Atlas, which he’s writing for Marvel. It’s not so much a superhero comic as it is a strange, adventure-spy comic with talking gorillas, robot-men, aliens, and mythological women for spies. You can’t get anymore awesome than that.
No. You can’t.
Filed Under horror, link du jour, scifi
It’s not uncommon to find a story where the execution isn’t as good as the concept. It’s much more rare to find one where the execution exceeds the expectations set by the concept.
When Top Cow announced a new comic called Necromancer
, I got to read a preview of it in a sampler book they put out. Unfortunately, the preview was just enough to get across the concept, which sounded like a demon-hunting version of Buffy
, only where Buffy wears a cheesy costume with lots of unnecessary buckles and stuff. Reviewing
the preview, I wrote, “It’s a tired concept and there doesn’t seem to be anything new about it here.”
Thankfully, writer Josh Ortega
didn’t take offense, but wrote me and candidly asked me to take another look at the actual comic when it came out. He arranged a review copy for me, and sure enough, I liked it a lot better in context. Josh had taken a tired concept (not one he’d come up with, if I understand correctly) and made gold out of it. My reviews of the actual series said stuff like, “A story that’s genuine, both in its portrayal of teens and in its horror… Ortega’s building an epic here. You can see it in his pacing. The book doesn’t drag at all – each issue I read had important revelations and plenty of action – but there’s an ease about the way the story unfolds. It’s taking its time, yet doing so in a very entertaining way, if that makes sense. It’s kind of like LOST that way.”
Unfortunately, I don’t think enough people got past the concept to actually try the book, and it was cancelled. Last I heard, Top Cow was trying to figure out a way to build an audience for it so that they could relaunch it. I hope they succeed, as long as Josh gets to write it.
Filed Under 30 days of night, comics, horror, link du jour
When I first moved to the Twin Cities about fifteen years ago, it took me a while to find a decent comic shop, but eventually I discovered the College of Comic Book Knowledge in Uptown Minneapolis. One of the things that I liked about it was that it had a whole, separate room just for back issues. Every week I’d go in and get my new comics, then head back to the back issue room to browse their shelves full of cool, old comics.
The guy who worked back there was this quiet, but friendly guy who was good to chat with and who’d occasionally give me discounts on issues of John Byrne’s Next Men. I learned that he was a writer and I was just starting to get to know him when he told me that he was moving to California. That sucked for me because I really did enjoy our brief, weekly visits, but what are you gonna do?
A while later, the College had an illustrated novella for sale by a “former employee” named Steve Niles
. By then, I couldn’t remember if that was the same guy whom I used to talk to, but the name sounded familiar, so I bought the book. It was called Freaks of the Heartland
and it was very
Fast forward several years and I’d started hanging out online at the DC message boards. Someone came over to some Vertigo forum or another and started talking about this great new horror comic called 30 Days of Night. There was a link for more information, so I followed it and learned that 30 Days of Night was written by a guy named Steve Niles. Browsing his site, I learned that it was indeed the same author of Freaks of the Heartland, and after talking to him, I eventually learned that, yeah, he was the guy I used to chat with on New Comic Book Day.
The rest, as they say, is history. 30 Days of Night was as good as I’d heard and its sequel Dark Days was even better. I’ve been a fan of his work ever since, and I’m pleased to also be able to call him a pal.