Monday, March 24, 2008


I killed off the UCBB blog I'd started some months back. A few of my fellow comic book buyers signed on as authors but nobody else ever contributed. I get it-- we all have busy lives and most of us have our own blogs to worry about-- but it stings to kill it off.

Ah well.

Guess it'll be enough to hang out Wednesdays and see the folks who show up.

(BTW, UCBB stands for Union of Comic Book Buyers-- the jokey name I gave us when we collectively moved to a new store... although some of us seem to have found other ways of getting books. Again, ah well.)

Wow, a long time between posts!

Hey everyone-
I've been busy with BPD the last week or so. There's a great interview up on BPD with John Jos. Miller, S.L. Farrell and Kevin Andrew Murphy about Wild Cards--they're writing in character as John Fortune, Drummer Boy and Swash (who doesn't appear in INSIDE STRAIGHT but does show up in BUSTED FLUSH)-- and it rocks. Go read it! I'll still be here when you get back.

Other news: Kat and I are off to Philly this weekend for her cousin's birthday party. I'm gonna need a disco nap beforehand-- at 43, I'm just not the late-night party animal I never was before.

Gotta schedule a week's vacation sometime soon. Kat and I are thinking of an England trip but are dismayed at the exchange rate. Honest, could the dollar fall much further? But I'm thinking of taking a week by myself to write the book I've been tinkering on for much too long. Ya never know.

Got some reviews to wrap up too-- LOST ONES by Chris Golden, KISS BEFORE THE APOCALYPSE by Tom Sniegoski, and a few others. SFRevu will be rich with my writing this month coming up.

That's about all from here. Hope you had a great Easter!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Shortest Comic List Ever This Week

Man, what a week for books I don't read.
My list this week:

  • Countdown to Final Crisis #6 (yeah, I'm a masochist)
  • FX #1 (I'm a Byrne fan)
  • Justice League of America #19
...and that's it.
Barely even worth it to go to the store this week. So maybe I won't.

Monday, March 17, 2008

What I've Been Reading: A Recap

Hey folks!
Just to catch up, I've been reading advanced reading copies (ARCs) like a fiend lately. A couple of posts back, I gave an idea of what I'm reading-- so...

Finished THE EDGE OF REASON last week and have written up a draft of the review. Very positive overall, but maybe not a book for the religious-minded...

Am now reading A KISS BEFORE THE APOCALYPSE by Tom Sniegoski (a real nice guy and one heck of a writer), after having wrapped up THE LOST ONES by Tom's frequent co-writer Chris Golden on Saturday. Also have to finish rewrites on my draft review of VICIOUS CIRCLE by Mike Carey; if you haven't read THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, go find it and read it now. If you like HELLBLAZER, you'll love Felix Castor.

Aside from that, there's a few things here and there I want to wrap up for SFRevu's April issue. We'll see how much I get done, but I'm on the hook for about eight or nine reviews-- not to mention all the new stuff I *want* to read! Sheesh-- seems like my hobby has become my life.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My Comics List This Week (plus Opinions!)

Y'know, I never seem to buy the comics everyone raves about. Never got into "Y: The Last Man." Picked up "Justice League: the New Frontier" long after it had come out (but have to admit, I love it), and started reading "Sandman" along about issue... something or other. However, I figure it doesn't matter. I read what I enjoy--mostly--and if something comes along that I like, well, I'll shell out a few more bucks for it. And if I stop enjoying, it's okay to move on.

For instance, I hadn't been a GREEN LANTERN or JUSTICE SOCIETY reader until I figured out Geoff Johns was the real deal. Can't say I'm wild about his extended Legion story in ACTION, but I'll cut him some slack-- he knows how to write a book.

On the other hand, I tried Greg Rucka's Question mini and found it wasn't my taste. Saw it through all five but I won't be back for another go-round. Ditto most of the tie-in miniseries spun off from COUNTDOWN and 52, though I like COUNTDOWN TO MYSTERY (RIP, Steve Gerber!) and plan to buy it all the way through.

Mike Carey and the X-team made me believe in the X-Men again, which is a minor miracle, while Dan Slott has me convinced he can write just about anything and make it work. By the same token, while I've enjoyed Peter David's work on many books in the past, his SHE-HULK is leaving me cold and I dropped the book a couple issues back.

Anyway, here's my list for this week:

  • GEN 13 #18
  • SUPERMAN #674

Reviving BPD

Hey folks,

A lot of you know that I am a co-founder and frequent contributor to Bugles Planet Daily, a humorous blog aimed at comic books and fandom generally. The site had languished through Fall 2007 and into the new year, partly because our core group of contributors weren't, um, contributing and partly because those of us running the show had other commitments (including our own writing).

Well, I've gotten back in harness on BPD, so if you haven't read it lately, check it out. I have up new posts on the Skrulls' take on Secret Invasion, a note on the passing of Dave Stevens (the creator of The Rocketeer), and a bit about Booster Gold and Blue Beetle reuniting with an old friend. There's more in the works--including a big group interview on the TV show AMERICAN HERO and an interview with blogging superstar/ace Jonathan Hive.

Give it a glance and let us know what you think. Our ears are always open.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Not Much Blogging Going On

Hey folks,
Last week was a bit odd. I've been pulling together an awful lot of things that had been on the backburner for awhile, but now they're coming due. Mostly a bunch of interviews but some review work as well.
Well, let's get caught up on what's new.
I've been doing a lot of reading the past week. What's on deck right now is:
THE EDGE OF REASON by Melinda Snodgrass,
THE LOST ONES by Christopher Golden,
and a handful of others.
Lucky for me, I get to choose what I review. That means I can pick the books I like, the stuff I enjoy, and review it. If I'm not wild about something, I can let it go and say nothing. (Nasty reviews are really easy to write and can be an emotional purge valve, but why go to the trouble of wading through something you hate?)
Granted, there can be a time to express your disappointment with a writer's work--I've done it myself more than once--but my time is increasingly limited and I'd rather be upbeat than not.
One thing I'm also doing less of: reviewing books that I've bought myself.
There's very little upside in doing so. Sure, I've done the publisher a favor by hyping a book I didn't get for free... and I've gotten yet another byline... but the tangible rewards for doing this are basically nonexistent, and I have plenty of other stuff I can review that I DID get for free.
It's a fine line, that separation between reading for pleasure and reading for review.


So why do we reviewers review? Well, in general, it's a great way to read (even before the book is in release) stuff that we want to read. If we do our jobs well, then we:
1- build a better relationship with the authors and publicists; and
2- get a good reputation (which helps when you're trying to get interviews).
Both of those are good things. I've met a bunch of writers whose stuff I've reviewed and they've almost uniformly been courteous or even glad to meet me; one writer even sent me a Christmas card thanking me for supporting his work (which was surprising and welcome).
Being a reviewer is great. There are rewards for doing this sort of thing and I recommend trying it to whomever out there wants to get into the world of media-related journalism (heck, I would never have worked in comics if I hadn't been writing for COMICS SCENE first). But bear in mind, being a reviewer isn't the same as being an author.
Which reminds me, I need to get back to work on my own fiction. Maybe if I'm lucky and persistent, somebody out there will one day blog about reviewing my stuff.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

In Memoriam: E. Gary Gygax, 1938-2008

I don't know if I met Gary Gygax, but I owe him big.

For those of you who don't know, Gygax essentially created roleplaying gaming. A miniatures gamer from Wisconsin, Gygax and his friends were enthusiastic about tabletop minature wargaming-- but then took it a step further. Individual lead figures were given identities, attributes, characteristics... and then set loose to adventure their way through scenarios devised by a 'Dungeon Master.' They wrote up the rules in a booklet called Chainmail, which was the precursor to

Dungeons & Dragons.

Gygax and his friends formed Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (better known as TSR), then created a gaming empire through the late '70s and early '80s. He left TSR in 1985, after a change in management, but remained active in roleplaying publishing over the past 23 years. He also founded GenCon, the world's largest gaming convention, which began as a gaming party at his home.

How did he affect me? Well, when I was 13, I bonded with two good friends over D&D. We made more friends who were gamers from junior high into high school, playing on Friday nights, then after college I joined a gaming club that met on Fridays. When my dad passed away in 1988, they were all there for me-- they were all fantastic friends.

We playtested games together and had a terrific social group.

I'm also proud that my game writing credits include an adventure module for AD&D, the "advanced" descendant of Gygax's brainchild.

He was perhaps the single most important figure in roleplaying games; without him, all the other creators who have made such great contributions would have done other things, or at least the world of gaming would look very different. Everyone who ever rolled a 20-sided die owes him a debt of thanks.

RIP, Mr. Gygax, and thank you.

Associated Press article.

Late Review: Dead to Me

I wrote up a review for SFRevu on Anton Strout's Dead to Me. Trouble is, the issue went live yesterday. Darn it. So it might not see print for a month.

The protagonist/narrator is Simon Canderous, a reformed petty thief with a knack for psychometry (that's the psychic talent of getting info from physical objects, like John Smith in The Dead Zone). His power is not wholly a blessing, as he gets more info about his girlfriends than he wants sometimes; it also got him into trouble when he was using his gift to cheat at gambling, to name but one element of his misspent youth.

Now he works for New York City's Department of Extraordinary Affairs, who are secret police of the supernatural. His newest case is a doozy, too, involving a dead woman who hasn't passed on, a nonprofit that benefits evil cults, a seller of occult books and a perky Midwestern girl that Simon--with all his talents--can't figure out.

It's a fun read and a good mystery. Simon doesn't have the kneejerk anti-authoritarian attitude that I've gotten pretty tired of (why does every supernatural PI have to talk trash just to piss off the monsters?), and the interjection of humor keeps the book from spiraling into the depths of doom and gloom. It's a neat piece of work, so I suggest you find it and read it.

My longer review should be on SFRevu either this week or April 1.

Weekend of Food

It's been a busy weekend, friends. Kat's father and brother came down from NJ on Saturday and we had a great time with them. Once they got to town, we ordered Papa Johns and played Lego Star Wars. Then, we mostly hit the stores, got our cellphone plan straightened out--temporarily--then went to Woo Lae Oak in Falls Church (GREAT Korean BBQ!). It was the second time I've been there, and if we had a car, we'd probably become regulars.

Sunday was our writers' group get-together. We went to Le Pain Quotidien in Old Town. Everything was going great, we were hanging out and thinking of ordering a second course of food, when the general manager (I think) came over and chirped about how we were still "nibbling" and did we need our stuff wrapped to go? Kat and Sherin were pretty PO'd. They complained to another guy, who said the first guy was Belgian (which means what?), and that he was sorry we'd felt like we were being rushed out. Either way, it's not a good way to induce repeat business. Our afternoon continued at Cosi (which turned out to be an EXCELLENT place to hang out all afternoon), and then a takeout dinner from Popeyes.

Got home in time to feed and play with the kittens before crashing.

How was YOUR weekend?