Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Changes Coming

I know I haven't been updating much in past months. The fact is, I've had a number of other things going on, and something had to get pushed back, and this blog ended up being that something.

That, plus the fact that I was just getting sick of this puke-green look I've got going.

But I'm happy to announce that this situation will soon be remedied. Sometime within the next couple of weeks, I will be debuting an all-new look, along with a veritable flood of new and (I hope) entertaining content. I'm hoping to get things established and running smoothly well in advance of the summer convention season.

Stay tuned...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Watchmen Pics

I'm slightly excited over this. The graphic novel was so uniquely superior that the movie is bound to disappoint, and yet the pics, at least, look good.

Speaking of "Watchmen," there was a review of "Double-Secret Weapon" in The Fix, which is apparently a short fiction review site. Short version: they weren't thrilled with it.

But it's interesting that he seems to dismiss it in the context of "'Watchmen' and 'The Incredibles' said it all already." Never mind the fact that both those examples are long-form stories with different purposes than my short story. Never mind the fact that both stories appeared in different media with different advantages and different limitations. Never mind the fact that "The Incredibles" was written by a staff of folks over the course of years, and that "Watchmen" was written by the ferociously talented Alan Moore. Never mind the fact that even by Alan Moore's standard's, "Watchmen" is an amazing achievement, but that didn't stop him from writing more stories in the genre. Never mind the fact that in many respects, "Watchmen" and "The Incredibles" are the same story, albeit with very different characters and themes.

Nope, the message is, "it's been done perfectly already, so don't even try."

Thanks, Mr. Cowboy, I'll take it under advisement. Meanwhile (big announcement), I hope you like my upcoming pale-shadow-of-"Watchmen"-and-"The-Incredibles" short story, "No Love For the Middleman," slated to appear on "Strange Horizons" sometime in June, I hope. This is the first story I've sold that wasn't a Digger story, although it happens in the same world and Digger does get a brief mention. So the Digger lucky streak continues.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Dave Stevens, RIP

I was planning to post something about Gary Gygax's death, but hadn't gotten around to it, because what I had to say was rather complex and had to do with a lot more than Gygax himself. And then I just found out that Dave Stevens died two days ago.

I'll still get around to talking about Gygax in the context of Dungeons and Dragons sometime soon, but right now, I'd like to talk about Dave Stevens. Stevens was an awesome artist with a unique combination of talent and skill that stood out above his peers. He emerged as part of a wave of influential talents who burst onto the comics scene in the early 80's, guys like Steve Rude and Matt Wagner and Scott McCloud. But Stevens was the only guy who managed to write a wildly entertaining and influential comic while also illustrating it in a polished style unmatched by other artist-writers.

Gygax was like D.W. Griffith, in a way. He came out of nowhere with something that no one else had really put together quite that way, and if his final product was crude and his politics questionable, well, he still pointed the way for a host of other people who came in and improved on his pioneering work, people who could point back to him and say, "We would not be here if he hadn't come first."

Stevens, on the other hand, was a Frazetta. A guy so talented that we needed more than he could provide, so a host of lesser imitators sprang up in his wake, guys who mimicked him in style and substance, and since Dave was so slow, we were content with second-rate Stevens imitators, because that was better than nothing.

I met him once, at a comic con in Dallas. He was a nice guy, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he was left-handed. I wish I had more than that. I wish I could tell a funny Dave story; I wish I could say more about him as a person than, "I loved his work. It entertained and inspired me."

But that will have to be enough, and frankly, it's probably more than enough.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"Spiderwick Chronicles"

Saw "The Spiderwick Chronicles" this past weekend. Didn't much like it. It felt very by-the-numbers--ooh, look, a special world of enchantment, a kid that no one believes who holds the fate of the world in his hands. Yawn. I don't know if it was the severe compression a novel-to-movie has to go through, but the MacGuffin (the special book) wasn't convincing at all.

Even worse, the cast all seemed to be sleepwalking through this thing. Freddie Highmore was so preoccupied with making his dual roles seem different that he forgot to make either one believable. Mary-Louise Parker was just off-note the entire time. Even David Strathairn, who is usually great, seemed to be just mouthing his lines while counting his salary in his head.

My daughter, of course, loved it.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Quick Bit of Nothing

I've been preoccupied with other things lately, but I've been saving some things up and will be posting more regularly soon (with maybe a big surprise early next month). But thought I'd just make a quick post to mention something that caught my eye.

Okay, actually, first, go to lileks.com for today (3/7/08) and read his discussion on Leonard Rosenman, who died recently. I've been planning to mention basically the same thing (which is that Rosenman's scores all seem to repeat the same riff), but he does it better, with audio illustrations.

Right after reading that today, I clicked over to Yahoo and saw an ad for a sleep aid that used an image from an old movie of a gorilla suit. And it reminded me of an old article I read in Famous Monsters of Filmland (IIRC) about guys who specialized in gorilla work. There were only like three or four good "gorilla men" back in the 30's and 40's, and they did most all of the movie gorilla work because they had their own suits ready-made (there's a pretty good article here that talks about two of the greats, Charles Gemora in the old days and Bob Burns in the 60's and 70's).

It's really amazing to think about, because the movie industry is such a different animal now. Movie make-up and special effects technology have advanced so far, and budgets are so big, that virtually every suit is custom-made, assuming you even use a suit. Audiences are so much more familiar with real gorillas now that it's getting increasingly hard to sell them on a suit; better to go with real gorillas or CGI versions.