Thursday, December 11, 2008

Old Blog Down New Blog Up

I'll keep this blog right here, but if you're looking for new updates, head this way:

New year coming. Shitty year and a half passing for good.

Let's change some stuff up.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Harry Chapin and Art Thinking

From an article about Harry Chapin's song "What Made American Famous," by Gerry Cagle:

As those of you who are reading this know, it was difficult to convince Top 40 radio programmers to play Harry's music. His songs were most often too long, too complicated and considered "tempo challenged" in the world of Top 40 when he first began recording. I had many arguments with Harry regarding his writing. He explained to me that his writing was art and he wouldn't compromise his art to fit into a specific format. I argued that if he was a true genius, he could create a wonderful piece of art that fit within a frame.
That's applicable to a lot of popular media. Is it possible to create "wonderful art" that fits within a frame? Is the mere act of trying too much of a compromise to call it "art"?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New Music as Turkey Day nears

So, I'm a bit of a Paul McCartney apologist. I don't want to get into it, but I still follow his career as closely as anyone. I've been happy to see a late career revival in critical acclaim (even if I don't always agree with the critics), but I'm always hoping his next project will really kick me in the ass. Even when his albums have been solid (or even genuinely good), they rarely have me anxious to listen to them multiple times.

But, hey! Suddenly, out of the blue, Macca's churned out a disc that's likely to escape anyone's notice, but deserves attention.

I've never been all that into his "FIREMAN" persona (a recording identity he shares in conjunction with producer Youth). They've been interesting ambient or electronic experiments, but never really grabbed me until now. But the new Fireman release, Electric Arguments, is pretty great. Paul's stretching his voice, rocking out with authority, letting his voice bubble along behind evocative, electronic/electric music. There's all kinds of interesting stuff going on here. Soundscapes and McCartney stretching his voice in different directions. Hell, he's even a little angry on a track or two.

Anyway, it's the first time in a loooong time I've found myself hitting the "repeat" button again and again for a McCartney release. Check it out.

Also? Belle & Sebastian's two-disc version of their BBC Sessions disc is fucking brilliant. Early studio performances are intimate and full, and the bonus live disc demonstrates their taste in covers and the enthusiasm they bring to the stage when they're at their best.

Twee it up, kids!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

11/22 at Elite Comics

If you're anywhere near Kansas City, you ought to stop by Elite Comics next Saturday (November 22) for their 15th anniversary sale. Elite has long been the home shop for myself (along with Seth Peck and Jason Aaron, among others), and proprietor William Binderup is one of the good ones. And he always does these things up right.

In any event, I'll have to verify who all's going to be hanging out, but I think Jason will be there, along with Matt Fraction and a host of locally based kids whose work is well worth checking out. Probably Harold Sipe and Hector Casanova, whose SCREAMLAND is yet another Image book you pretty much have to read.

Also, me.

Monday, November 10, 2008

All Murdered and Mayhemmed Up

So, that was about the coolest weekend ever.

I can’t say I slotted right in with a gathering of “true” mystery writers, but I wasn’t the only graphic novelist there, as Tim Broderick, who wrote and drew the book Cash & Carry was in attendance. Also on hand was the delightful Kat Richardson, whose Greywalker books walk a fine line between mystery and science fiction. Kat and I ended up sitting next to each other on the flight home, and had a great conversation about publishing, Hollyweasels and future creative plans. And when it was time for my panel (on "Hooking the Reader," along with three other writers), I was pleasantly surprised that people seemed genuinely curious about my experiences writing comics.

The event drew a lot of people (250, I'd guess?), all of whom sat through the entire day’s lineup of panels, right up until the grand finale, when Michael Koryta interviewed Dennis Lehane in a rather illuminating conversation. I suppose it was telling that the one panel that seemed to draw the attention of all the assembled writers was Lehane’s. In fairness, a couple of things Lehane said really clicked with me, particularly about storytelling and his influences. And he proved to be as nice and down-to-earth a guy as the rest of the group.

Full credit and thanks to Penny Halle and the library, and, of course, Jon and Ruth Jordan, who opened their home (the Cave of Cool) to the entire assemblage of writers on both Friday and Saturday nights. I’d feel badly about imposing upon the Jordans if it wasn’t clear how thoroughly they loved every moment of it. And who the hell doesn’t love a bathtub full of beer? Great folks, the Jordans. I wouldn't have been there without their support.

Everyone was accommodating and provided great conversation, but special shout outs go to Mario Aceveda, creator of the Felix Gomez vampire detective series, who proved to be one of the genuinely nicest guys I’ve met in any industry, Victor Gischler, whose work I’d already enjoyed, and who, it turned out, is a lot of fun to sit around and drink beers with, talking about Wolverine, golf and Freddie and the Dreamers, Anthony Neil Smith, with whom I had a great conversation about comic books and creative writing programs, Tom Schreck, who moonlights as a world class boxing judge and gave me a beer koozy that doubled as advertising for his latest book, Chicago writer Michael Allen Dymmoch, who carted us all around Muskego when the mythical limos failed to materialize, and the list goes on. Special nod to Mystery One bookseller Richard Katz, who wasn’t much on comics, but provided great discussion about NBA and college basketball.

Also, if you’re in Milwaukee, you should really drop by the Iron Horse Hotel. I can’t explain the place (obviously, as my “upscale biker” description failed to move my wife at all), but it provided superior accommodations, from the humongous HDTV on the wall to the giant-sized shower that rained straight down on me from the ceiling. Fine eating at Slim McGinn’s (the meat really did just fall of those ribs, and…deviled eggs as an appetizer? Just call me Cool Hand Luke).
Also thanks to Sam and Jo, two comic fans who showed up and argued over the value of superhero comics while I nodded sagely at both sides of the debate (sort of).

I’d love to do it again, and hanging out with such literary minded kids has half-convinced me to (attempt to) adapt a nagging pulp/mystery concept into prose form…

We shall see.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Murder and Mayhem in Muskego

Don't ask how I scored an invite to the event, but tomorrow I'm headed out to Muskego, Wisconsin for the fourth annual Murder and Mayhem in Muskego...a gathering of mystery writers at the Muskego Library, each of whom will participate in panels on topics related to their work. Dennis Lehane seems to be the guest of honor.

I'll be participating in the "Hooking the Reader" panel:

11:00 - 11:45 "HOOKING THE READER"

Mario Acevedo
Kat Richardson
Chris Grabenstein
B. Clay Moore
Tasha Alexander

Events kick off with a mixer on Friday night, which should provide some terrific conversation and, you know...a bit of drink.

With Brian Azzarello and Duane Swierczynski having cancelled, I believe I'll be the only comic book creator attending. I'll be curious to see if anyone has any interest in what I have to say, but we'll have some copies of HAWAIIAN DICK on hand for those who find themselves struck with a desire to investigate my work...

Truth is, I'm looking forward to the event. Azzarello recommended it to me earlier in the year, and I'm intrigued about rubbing elbows with such a diverse crew of authors.

At some point I plan on plunging into prose. Maybe this trip will inspire me.

Stop by if you're near Milwaukee. With luck I'll score my son a new Packers jersey while I'm in town...


I've exhausted myself with this election. I've been a close watcher of Presidential politics since early in college, when I was fortunate enough to be taught be a professor who I would best describe as a political animal, Dr. Mel Kahn at Wichita State University. My father, who served from 2002-2006 as the Lieutenant Governor of Kansas, runs into Mr. ("don't call me doctor") Kahn on occasion in Wichita, and he still asks about me, which means a lot to me. He once asked why I didn't consider a career as a college professor, which was heady stuff for a confused nineteen year-old, but the mere suggestion that I had that potential had an impact.

In any event, it now seems as if the only professors I paid much attention to in college were the ones who were consumed by politics, and political season always brings me back to those days.

I never thought I would see a black man elected president. But in 2004, during the Democratic National Convention, I witnessed Barack Obama give one of the most electrifying speeches I'd ever heard. His message was one of inclusion and unity, and event hough he seemed to be the only one at the convention hitting those notes, I heard his message, and knew there had to be others who heard it as well. And I knew at that moment that Obama was a man I'd one day vote for for the White House.

I just didn't think it would happen so quickly. And I had no idea that he would run the kind of campaign I'd been begging for since I was eighteen. Instead of allowing his opponent to define him, Obama took all the heat thrown his way and remained calm, cool and collected, frustrating his opponents while he plunged ahead with confidence and class. He refused to stray off message and get bogged down in divisive issues that would only cloud the important issues that needed to be addressed. And everywhere he went, he spoke in eloquent, clear language. While Fox News and bitter Conservatives tried to build an issue out of the Reverend Wright's rants, Obama released the most intelligent, well-reasoned statement on race in America ever delivered by a man running for public office. He didn't hide from his associations. He simply explained them. When Fox News devoted hour after hour to Obama's "radical" connections (connections shared by many Republicans, for what it was worth), there was no need to give in to their slavish attack dog mentality. Not when most of America felt they had gotten to know the man, and understood that the last place they needed to turn for answers was a "news" network whose primary intention was clearly to fan the fading racist embers in a no longer jittery electorate.

And when he was finally elected, I heard him mention gay people and disabled people and people who didn't vote for him. There was no ranting rhetoric or lofty platitudes that didn't seem grounded in the reality of the day. There was a clear statement of purpose wrapped in an understanding of the challenges that face us as a nation. And the international community has regained their faith in a country that has, for eight years, done nothing but scare the shit out of them thanks to the irresponsible buffoonery of our current president.

The whole thing has been nothing short of astonishing. And very moving.

This will make me sound like a guilty white liberal, but it's the truth...last night around nine, as it became more obvious that Obama was going to handily carry the day, I ran up to the local grocery store to pick something up. There weren't a lot of people shopping, but I saw a black family pushing their cart through the aisles, and I realized that that little black boy following his mother around was going to grow up in an entirely different world from the one in which his parents grew up. Telling him that he can accomplish anything in life is no longer jingoistic bullshit. There's now a man headed to the White House that provides real proof that the American Dream isn't nearly as dead as I thought it was, and this little boy will grow up knowing that even the nation's highest office is truly open to the right person for the job, regardless of their ethnic heritage.

A beautiful day in America. The angry, scared bigots and frightened name callers will still linger in the woodwork, but as a nation we've overcome their influence, and given in to hope.

Laurenn McCubbin passed along this link of photographs from Callie Shell, who's been following Obama with her camera for a couple of years now. Please take a look:

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A Hopeless Halloween

Stacey, the new kid and I dropped by the Hopelesses Halloween party (thrown by Dennis and Jesse Hopeless) Friday night. Tony and Kara (Moore) made the trip in to see everyone. Tony's Nixon (from HARD-BOILED) costume was fucking awesome. Also in attendance: Kevin Mellon (who handled the art for my Spearmint anthology contribution), Kyle Strahm (the future of horror comics if there's any justice), Harold Sipe (pick up the SCREAMLAND trade NOW), Jason Aaron (hack) and his lovely wife Kelly, and Steven and Dawn Sanders (dressed as one another).

Anyway, I'm sniping some of Steven's pics from Flickr. Hope he doesn't mind:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Comic Book Outsiders Podcast

A few months ago someone linked me to the (British) Comic Book Outsiders podcast, where the hosts were chatting about both Hawaiian Dick and '76. In both cases, they completely got what we were going for, and it was quite gratifying to hear.

In any event, they were nice enough to ask me to share some time with them earlier this week, and the results have just gone up here:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I need a new laptop - plus UPDATES!

I just want a cheap little workhorse that won't cause me grief, you know? Several people have mentioned these eee systems, including my sister's mother-in-law. I'll check the old bank account and see what I can do. My dead laptop slowed me down for the better part of a week, but KC artist Steven Sanders helped me extract files from the old hard drive.

Project updates, for those who care... CASEY BLUE recently wrapped at Wildstorm, and HAWAIIAN DICK #5 finally dropped the same day. Steven is working to finish up the backup story for HAWAIIAN DICK #6, and Jason Armstrong is working on HAWAIIAN DICK #7. Right now it looks as if ATHENA VOLTAIRE artist Steve Bryant will be handling the backup for that issue.

Tony Harris is taking a gander at the first few scripts for our upcoming creator-owned book, so hopefully it won't be too long before he starts with the art making. BILLY SMOKE is picking up speed, fueled by the enthusiasm of future Billy Smoke star Matthew Fox and certain friends of his. Ed Tadem is back in gear on JACKIE KARMA, so '76 should be dropping agains before too long. If all goes right, we might even have some exciting news about Jackie's future in other media soon...

Working on the third issue of Top Cow's BLACK VAULT, as Nelson Blake III gets rolling on the first two issues.

Been chatting with Vertigo about a potential graphic novel, which, should it not fit there, will fit somewhere. Something I've been kicking around for years. One of those "too important not to tell" kind of things. I think, anyway. Seth Peck, Stephen Molnar and I are putting the finishing touches on prepwork for our upcoming creator-owned superhero book. We've got long range plans for the book, so with luck it'll be well received.

BLUEJACKET debuted recently in Boom! Studios' PULP TALES anthology, but we still have no publisher for the book. Peck and I are putting together a budget for a book that we've been kicking around for a couple of years, which should feature art by another current collaborator.

Still waiting on word from DC on a couple of things, and I keep trying to convince WildStorm's Ben Abernathy that I should be writing a Midnighter/Jack Hawksmoor mini, but he ain't buying yet.

Oh, and the Leading Man movie looks like maybe some progress is perhaps being made. Maybe. Could be.

Hugs to everyone.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Woot! Woot! Finally dropping today is Boom! Studios' PULP TALES anthology, a benefit book for Josh Medors. Included amongst the tales inside is Bluejacket, by myself, Seth Peck, and Chris Samnee.

Check here for a preview:

Thursday, October 02, 2008

WW Chicago video interview

Comic Collective interviewed me about CASEY BLUE on camera during Wizard World Chicago.

So here it is:

Monday, September 29, 2008

New Hawaiian Dick Model?

Artist Jason Armstong was musing on the future of HAWAIIAN DICK, and suggested something similiar to (bear in mind that Jason is Canadian) 1979's CAPTAIN CANUCK SUMMER SPECIAL (the first and only):

Basically, a seasonal or quarterly book (64 pages) stuffed full of comics, with a complete Hawaiian Dick story in each issue.

I kind of like that idea. I could let collaborators run wild with backups and short stories, and then focus on a lead story for each issue. In a perfect world, Griffin could even get back to drawing Byrd now and then...

A fat quarterly anthology with Griffin covers. That would be a beaut, eh?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Paul Newman

One of my all-time favorites. Can't think of many guys of his era who made so many great movies in so many different flavors. Paul Newman was always the guy I wanted to be, you know?

Pure class, too.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

September 23, 2007

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of my mother's passing.

We miss you, Mom.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dick 7

Jason Armstrong just turned in the cover for PREVIEWS:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hawaiian Dick and the Future

So, HAWAIIAN DICK #5 is all finished up and should be in shops within a few weeks. HAWAIIAN DICK #6, which features art by guest artist Jason Armstrong, should follow in a fairly timely fashion.

We have yet to solicit HAWAIIAN DICK #7, but Jason is also working on that one, which features the death of a cast member (oooh!), and the aftermath.

Beyond that...I'm up in the air. I wonder how people would respond to a HAWAIIAN DICK graphic novel in leiu of more single issues. Or HAWAIIAN DICK digital shorts, which would then be collected into a fourth trade...

Monday, September 15, 2008

The complete JACKIE KARMA (so far)

With '76 #5 delayed a bit, I thought I'd share a link to all of JACKIE KARMA up to now. By myself and Ed Tadem:

Farewell to the (other) Moores

It's Tony and Kara's last full day in Kansas City before they head out to the wilds of Kentuckiana.

We'll all miss them both.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Script to Page

Here's a page of script from the upcoming (as in very soon) HAWAIIAN DICK #5. Script by me:


Panel 1. The Thinker stands on a street corner, looking at his watch. Evening.

THINKER: It doesn’t take much dealing with the native populace to rob this place of its charm—

Panel 2. Waves at a taxi.


Panel 3. Gets in, door open, complaining.

THINKER: Good Lord. How long does a man have to stand on a corner waiting for one of these ghastly contrivances to appear—I need to be in front of the Blue Aloha in five minutes.

Panel 4. Looking sideways out the window, a look of mild surprise on his face.

THINKER: I have a meeting of importance, so despite my secure knowledge that speed is hardly of the essence in this—eh?

Panel 5. The Thinker is angry now, looking over his shoulder.

THINKER: Damn it, driver. The Blue Aloha is in the complete OPPOSITE direction. Do I have to—

Panel 6. Without turning around, the cabbie is holding up a gun so that the Thinker can see it.

CABBIE: You just have to shut up, Mr. Antonio. Shut up and enjoy the ride.

And here's the finished page, art by Scott Chantler with Steven Griffin coloring (click for a bigger view):

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bleed redux

Speaking of "Bleed," here it is being used to close an episode of Third Watch, assuming you've never heard it before:


In case anyone's curious about "Drowning in the Mainstream Flow," here's its origin. Make of it what you will:

Bleed by the Negro Problem

I don't bleed you
I just need to see you
I would love to turn your vice
and make a silly error twice

She isn't dreamy
she just needs to see me
drowning in the mainstream flow
and frowning where ever I go

So come down little one
leave your place in the sun
So come down little one
leave your place in the sun

I come in bleeding
stumbling round and needing
I love to burn your trash
and make a picture with the ash

I come in storming
before your cloud starts forming
I would love to cut your hair
and leave an empty promise there

So come down little one
leave your place in the sun
So come down little one
leave your place in the sun

Start your engine
but don't forget to mention
to your friend that I need work
don't reminded her I'm a jerk

Enter clowning
and join me while I'm downing
drink tickets and poison herbs
courtesy of the suburbs

So come down little one
leave your place in the sun
come down little one
leave your place in the sun
come down little one
leave your place in the sun
come down little one
leave your place in the sun
come down little one
leave your place in the sun

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Van Morrison

Kind of in that mood.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Kiddie Corral

Here's a great idea. From Bill Bryson's highly entertaining THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE THUNDERBOLT KID (a memoir of his growing up in fifties Des Moines):
Dahl's, our neighborhood supermarket, had a feature of inspired brilliance
called the Kiddie Corral. This was a snug enclusore, built in the style of a
cowboy corral and filled with comic books, where moms could park their kids
while they shopped .... it was filled with comic books. To enter the Kiddie
Corral you climbed onto the top rail and dove in, then swam to the center. You
didn't care how long your mom took shopping beause you had an inifinite supply
of comics to occupy you.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pimping Pals

It's no secret that I think Jason Aaron is one of the brightest voices at Marvel. He's doing fun stuff with GHOST RIDER, a book that's honestly never really been *good* in any incarnation, but features a fun character that people love.

Jason just previewed some pages from GR #26 on his message board. I thought I'd swipe one of 'em and share it:

He's taking all the loose flotsam and jetsam (no matter how lame) associated with previous takes and tying them into the new version. I'm sure it'll annoy some longtime fans, but it's a lot of fun to watch...


Tuesday, August 19, 2008


(in progress) KA-BAM!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Robert Kirkman with a call to arms

I've copied Robert's plan here, but please head to the CBR link for his video editorial:

Roberts writes:

I came back from San Diego supercharged with excitement for comics and so I made this video. It's a little ramble filled in places and I want to thank the fine folks at CBR for cleaning it up as much as they did. Just for clarity's sake I'd like to simplify things a little.

I think there's a way to fix comics and make everyone happy doing it. I don't claim to be right, but I think there could be something to this.

Step One:

Top creators who want to do creator-owned work band together and give it a shot. I'd certainly love for that to be at Image, but whatever, wherever -- if you want to do it, step up and do it. The more people who do it, the easier it'll be to do. Creators are very important to the current fan base, if it's done right you could bring a large portion of your audience with you provided you take the plunge and only do creator-owned work. If you give people the option of Spider-Man or your creator-owned book... they'll choose Spider-Man, that's something time-tested versus something new. New has to be the only option.

Step Two:

If that results in a mass exodus of creators leaving Marvel and DC, don't panic guys, I love their books as much as everyone else -- nobody wants to hurt them in the process. Look at it like an opportunity, that's the time for Marvel and DC to step up the plate and make their comics viable for a whole new generation. Less continuity, more accessible stories -- not made for kids, but appropriate for kids. Books that would appeal to everyone still reading comics, but would also appeal to the average 13 year old too. There are a wealth of talented creators who haven't yet reached a level where they can sell books on their own -- they can do awesome work for the companies and be happy doing it.

What that could lead to:

A comic industry where there are more original comics, so there's more new ideas, more creator-owned books by totally awesome guys that are selling a ton of books. Those books are mature and complex and appeal to our aging audience that I count myself among who are keeping this business alive. And we also have a revitalized Marvel and DC who are selling comics to a much wider audience than ever before. And that audience, as they age, may get turned on to some awesome creator-owned work eventually. So everyone is happy.

I'm not saying it would be as simple as all that, I'm just saying this "could" work and that there are enough smart people working in comics today that it could probably happen. The problem as I see it, is that Marvel and DC are currently very successful with the audience they have now, "us" and we're all happy with the comics they're producing... because they're all mostly awesome. But as we age, we die, so we're not going to be around forever and so if comics continue to age with us, they will die along with us and that's not something I think any of us want.

So, there, I hope that makes my message clear. So, uhh, fire away, I'm all ears.

-- Robert Kirkman

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fairport Convention on late summer days...

Not much makes me nostalgic for college, but Irish and English folk music sometimes makes me long for lazy days alone in my student apartment, windows open, breezes drifting in. Classes over or, more likely, skipped for the day. The far off sound of students coming and going, traffic out on the highway beyond the trees outside the window. Suspended between fake resonsibility and the slowly encroaching realities of Real Life...

Anyway, that was where I first really dug into artists like Nick Drake, Steeleye Span, Tommy Makem, Planxty, and, of course, Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson, and the amazing Fairport Convention.

These two Youtube clips take me right back:

"Who Knows Where the Time Goes" never fails to move me...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hawaiian Dick #5 is almost here

Steven should be putting the finishing touches on the files now. Ironically, #6 has been done for months.

Here's Steven's latest revision of the cover for HAWAIIAN DICK #5:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Me and My Monkey

From the FX Show in Orlando early this year. I participated in a monkey painting auction thingie.

My Hawaiian Chimp:

If you bought him, let me know!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Let's make our own rules...

Hollywood and Comics...Newsarama did a two-part feature, but the points I really wanted to make are in part two:

Also. MTV is now paying attention:

Sunday, August 03, 2008

DC and Archie

DC has picked up the rights to the Archie superheroes (again), and Dan Didio just announced that JMS will be brining them back in the pages of BRAVE & BOLD.

I have a lot of affection for those characters, for no real logical reasons, I suppose. I'd love to play around with the Fox or the Black Hood...or maybe even bring the Comet back with his original costume.

Here's a very early Fox page, followed by a Comet page from his first appearance. If you're an X-Men fan, you might notice something familiar about his visor...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

SDCC '08 Recap

(Pictures by Charlie Chu)

SDCC Bullet points!

  • Roomed with Shawn Crystal (thanks, Shawn!), Jason Latour, Andrew Robinson (if you can score Andrew's ANDROX sketchbook, DOO EEET!), Hunter Clark and Johnny Depp.

  • Many meetings and greetings from Hollywood folk, in the wake of Billy Smoke, the Leading Man and Hawaiian Dick. Some renewed interest in Dick. Some possible interest in Jackie Karma from an interesting lead. Lots of genuine love, of course.

  • Ran into tons of old friends, of course. Flew out with Haun and Peck. Flew back with Peck and Parks. Also on the flight were KC con promoter Chris Jackson and Diamond sculptor Rudy Garcia. Seth Jones was on hand covering things for CBR, as was Mar Harris. Never did see Jonah.

  • Met J. Torres's baby, and, yes, it is the cutest thing in the world. Good to see he and his wife, Young. Missed Rick Cortes, though. Bummer.

  • Dinner with the Oni gang on Thursday, which included political chatter with Joe Phillips, and included a bunch of my favorite folks, from Chris Mitten to Rick Spears to Robbi Rodriguez to Chuck BB to Brian Hurtt to Cullen Bunn (and wife). And, of course, James Lucas Jones, Joe Nozemak and Randy Jerrell.

  • Special thanks to Oni's media mavens Eric Gitter and Peter Schwerin.

  • Fucked my knee up playing softball for DC against Marvel. Yes, we lost 16-6, but I was three for three with three RBI. So don't blame me.

  • Got to see Jai Nitz strike Joe Quesada out in slo-pitch softball.
  • Ran into Hawaiian Dick co-screenwriter Mark Swift and had a nice chat.

  • UTA party Friday night with many of the Oni folk (including Jamie McKelvie and Kieron Gillen). Sarah Silvermen, Stan Lee, and two Napoleon Dynamites were on hand.

  • Karaoke with the Wildstorm gang. Christos Gage finally drove us out of the bar.

  • Signed with Black Vault artist Nelson Blake 2, who's a great guy.

  • Nice meeting with my DC lifeline Mike Siglain. Hopefully things work out on THAT PROJECT.
  • Erik Larsen: "What you should do with your next Image book is think about what people want to read and do that." Thanks, Erik.

  • Lunched with Casey Blue artists Carlo Barberi and Jacob Eguren and editor Ben Abernathy. Again, great guys all.
  • Met Dan Curtis Johnson finally. Brain was scrambled by that point, though.
  • Also met Ryan Kelly for the first time. Been a fan of his since Local first debuted.
  • Had planned on chatting with Ben Templesmith about things, but ended up just bumping into each other on the con floor, as usual. Email it is.
  • Played softball with Randy Green, and ran into him several times (often with super nice guy Andy Yates). Good guy.
  • Found out Ted McKeever's a prince of a guy.
  • Chatting with Darwyn Cooke and James Sime together in the middle of the Hyatt bar was a high point. Darwyn's...well...Darwyn, and James greeted me with a warm hug and a high five. Love those guys.
  • Picked up the Pulp Tales anthology, which featured the debut of Bluejacket.

  • Saw John Layman stone sober on a Friday. Then I saw him on Saturday...
  • Someone remind Cory Walker that he's a genius, please. Also, he wrote a song about me.

  • Nick Derington's Tiger Fighter is genius.

  • Also thanks to the Top Cow gang: Mel, Filip, Matt and Rob. And Chas!

  • Ivan, Kristyn and Andy finally showed up.
  • Simon and Pat hanging in the Hyatt bar.
  • Chatted with lots of other good people I don't see enough: Josh Fiaklov, Andy Kuhn, Phil Hester, Kody Chamberlain, Francesco Francavilla (and his delightful wife), Joe Keatinge, Eric Stephenson, Jim Valentino, Jimmie Robinson, Mark Englert, Tim Seeley, Chris Burnham, Robert Kirkman, Jason Aaron, Fraction and DeConnick, Scott Kurtz, Neil Kleid, Marc Hammond, Chris Powell, Frank Cho, Jann Jones, Mark Sable, Ryan Ottley, Sam Humphries, Lea Hernandez, Chip Mosher, the Image office gang, and so on and so forth.
  • Comic Book Tattoo ruled the Image booth. Nice work, Rantz!

  • Chuck BB with the EISNER WIN! Followed by shots and pizza.
  • Oni PR hawk Cory Casoni and Shawn Crystal saved me from jail by getting me a new badge before I tried to punch out an over-zealous badge monkey on Sunday. Temper, temper, Clay.

  • Biggest moment for me was signing on Saturday afternoon with future Billy Smoke star Matthew Fox, who flew in to Comic-Con specifically to sign Billy posters with me at the booth. Great guy, and he's very into the project (his being there at all was proof of that). Eric and I are going to kick this thing in the ass and let Fox and his folks put together a killer flick. Also? Sitting next to Matthew Fox made me realize how out of shape I am.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My San Diego Schedule

If you're looking for me in San Diego, here's where I'll be:

Thursday, July 24
4:30: Softball (DC vs. Marvel)
Adams Rec Center
3491 Adams Avenue (corner of 35th Street)

Friday, July 25
2:00-3:00: Signing at the IMAGE BOOTH with Scott Chantler & Seth Peck.
3:30–4:30: Signing at the TOP COW BOOTH with Nelson Blake II

Saturday, July 26
10:00–11:00: Signing at the TOP COW BOOTH with Nelson Blake II
2:00-3:00: Signing at the IMAGE BOOTH with Scott Chantler & Seth Peck.
3:00–4:00: HERD IT THROUGH THE BO-VINE (Top Cow panel, Room 2)
6:30-7:30: Wildstorm panel

Sunday, July 27
2:30–3:30: Signing at the TOP COW BOOTH with Nelson Blake II (Jeremy will be there, too)

I'll probably be hanging around the Oni booth now and then, as well, helping out.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Comic Reviews!

Instead of hanging out at Steven Sanders' place with almost all of the Kansas City comics community, I'm stuck at home with kids, reading old comics through bleary eyes.

I thought I'd post some reviews of old comics I picked up in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. I loaded up on cheap seventies stuff, mainly, and thought I'd spit out some brief blurbs on a few of 'em.


Manhunter by Jack Kirby

So, First Issue Special was primarily a dumping ground for lousy concepts that had no prayer of being picked up, the one notable exception being Mike Grell's Warlord. James Robinson got some mileage out of the Starman character introduced near the end of the run. The book did feature a now classic Marty Pasko/Walt Simonson Dr. Fate story, and the Creeper and Metamorpho had showcases, but so did Lady Cop, the Dingbats, and the Green Team...

So, this is Jack Kirby reinventing his Golden Age Manhunter character, and it's better than you'd think it would be. Typical Kirby silliness opens the book, as the character waltzes into the "cave of Talking Heads" and battles a dude wearing a robe and a mask over his pinstripe suit. But from there Kirby sets up an interesting scenario...a society of manhunters, with the newest member being a young public defender who laments that society's "big fish" so often abuse the "little fish."

It's a fun little story, and I think it would have been a decent springboard for a book. Cool looking character, too.


The Outsiders by Joe Simon, Jerry Grandenetti and Craig Flessel

This book, on the other hand, is almost abstract in its awfulness. In a nutshell, a group of freakish looking characters have banded together (because they're all so ugly) to help other freaks.

The first freak rescued by the Outsiders in this issue is a baby with a GIGANTIC hard head, who speaks telepathically ("I'm Billy! Won't someone please help me?"). In this book, normal people react to freaks by attacking them with torches and clubs, you see. When Billy is set on fire, he uses his giant head to bash his way through a crowd and jump into a lake.

A trio of Golden Age creators must have thought this concept was out there enough to appeal to a new generation, but it's so laughably executed, it's hard to take it seriously as an attempt at crafting a hit. It's also highly enjoyable, thanks to the pure goofiness that drips off every page. I'm convinced the kind-of-keen Ernie Chan cover was designed the way it was so they didn't have to feature the completely ridiculous looking cast (which includes a scaly woman with flippers for hands and a twisted dwarf who drives around in his own funky bubble chair). Still, it must be read to be believed.

Monday, July 07, 2008

io9 asks me (and Millar) about terror in comics

I think Graeme's question is a little odd, which I suppose I address in my answer.

I also think it's odd that he thinks imagining the war on terror not stopping more attacks would have been "unimaginable" a few years back. I've never thought the "war on terror" was likely to prevent attacks.

Anyway, check it out here:

Friday, July 04, 2008

M. V. Carey was kind to me when I was a boy

Cleaning up the basement, I just stumbled across a letter written to me many, many years ago by author M.V. (Mary) Carey.

As a kid, I was a fanatical fan of several series (the continuity of series books always greatly appealed to me): Notably Lloyd Alexander's High King (or Black Cauldron) series, Hugh Lofting's Dr. Doolittle books, C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia, and Willard Price's "Adventure" series. While I could never get into the Hardy Boys, I was a monster fan of the Three Investigators books, created in 1964 by Robert Arthur, but primarily written during my childhood by Carey.

When I was in fourth or fifth grade, my class was given the assignment of writing a letter to our favorite authors. Most kids wrote to Judy Blume or Beverly Cleary, but I wrote a heartfelt letter to Carey, explaining that I loved to write and draw, and that I one day hoped to write and draw comic books and maybe even write real books.

Virtually every kid in the class received very nice form letters from the authors they chose, but I received a lovely typed response directly from Ms. Carey, with specific advice on the craft of writing, and inquiries as to my hobbies and about the town in which I lived. Over the course of a couple of years, we exchanged three or four more letters, and each time she wrote to me without condescension, in a leisurely manner, sharing her impressions of the places I lived based on their names (we moved from Iowa to Texas during this period), and wishing me success with the detective agency I started with my friend Troy Petrick (C.L.O.Y. Investigations).

Over the years I'd occasionally stumble across one of Carey's letters, and each time I'd make sure I tucked the letters away in some corner for preservation. Finding this letter tonight spurred me to search for information on her life after she stopped writing the Three Investigators books (her last book was published in 1987), and I found what I was looking for:

1925 - 1994

Personal: Born May 19, 1925, in New Brighton, England; brought to the United States in 1925, naturalized citizen in 1955; daughter of John Cornelius (an engineer) and Mary Alice (Hughes) Carey. Home address in 1993 was 3748 Birch St., Ventura, CA.

The entire entry can be found here:

Along with much biographical information, the entry includes this lovely quotation from Carey:

"Young people ask why I became a writer, as if it were something I decided. I didn't decide; it grew on me like ivy. When I was a child I liked to read to my friends, or to tell them stories. When I grew up I had several false starts before I found a job on a magazine and discovered that people who read and write are more fun than people who don't. I first wrote for profit at the Disney Studio. I worked on the Mickey Mouse Club magazine there. Suddenly I felt that I was ten again, sitting on the front porch telling stories to the other kids. Now that I am a free-lance writer, the sensation of reliving younger days is even stronger. I remember how it was when my brothers and I were small. We had no money because of that thing called a depression, but we had freedom. If there were wicked people on Long Island in the 1930's - people who might harm kids - we did not know of it. On summer mornings my mother could open the door and send us out to wander through the neighborhood and she did not worry. So long as we came back in time for lunch - and relatively clean and undamaged - everything was fine. We explored all empty houses, and all empty houses were considered haunted. We went out on the sound in a tiny boat which my second brother had salvaged from the beach after a storm. We had clubs with secret passwords. We watched the older people of the community come and go and I think we knew quite a bit about what they were up to - probably including things we were not supposed to know."

"And we read. We read everything we were supposed to read, and much that we weren't supposed to know about. We fished pulp magazines out of the neighbor's trash and learned all about Dr. Fu Manchu and Tarzan of the Apes and other super heroes. We also plowed through Dickens and Jules Verne and the Saturday Evening Post and Collier's and everything the librarian would let us carry home from the library. Today all of the reading and the roaming stands me in good stead. So does my habit of being not especially practical or brisk. People ask if I work for a certain number of hours each day. I admire people who do, but I must admit that I don't. Some days it seems more important to wander and watch, or to read. There is only one brisk rule that I do observe; if I plan to write today, I do not leave the house until I've written. I know that once I go out, I will stay out until dark, and then I will come trailing home, tired and probably hungry. I will have lost the day."

It's now been over ten years since Ms. Carey passed away, and I regret not being able to thank her for her kindness, and for the small part she played in shaping my own life.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Very brief WW Chicago recap

Had a nice time in Chicago this year. Lots of people dropped by to tell me they enjoyed the iFanboy podcast, which was cool. Moved a few trades, signed at DC a couple of times.

Editor Shannon Denton, Jeremy Haun and myself on the Wildstorm panel

Had fun hanging with Wildstorm editor Shannon Denton (with whom Jeremy and I shared a Wildstorm panel). Wildstorm is good people. Good to see Jim Valentino and Larsen again, even if conversation with Erik was interrupted Thursday night by a very drunk British artist. Obviously there was a pall cast over the proceedings with the word of Michael Turner's passing on Friday night. Shannon and I were chatting when Jim Demonakis leaned in with the news, having just received a phone call. The Aspen booth was understandably pretty somber for the rest of the show. Good news on Saturday for Eric Stephenson, stepping up as the publisher at Image. I don't think his job will change much, but it'll shift some, of course. Wish he hadn't missed his flight to the show. Also good to see the Top Cow guys, Rob Levin, Filip Sablik and Mel Caylo. I'm glad to be working with all three of them.

Dinner at Maria's, followed by drinks Thursday night at the amazing Hala Kahiki with Ande Parks, roommates Jason Latour, Jeremy Haun, Jason Hurley and Aaron Norton.

Shannon, writer Jai Nitz and myself bad-assing it up at the DC booth.

Bar conversation always highlights Chicago. Ivan Brandon and Brian Azzarello and I spent a while discussing the merits of the Office, and I caught up with Dynamite's Nick Barruci and Marvel's all-everything go-to guy CB Cebulski (I knew him when...). Saw old pal Seth Jones, heading up coverage for CBR. A big thanks to Crimespree Magazine honcho Jon Jordan and his wife, Ruth, for hooking me up with some great fiction and a spiffy Crimespree T-shirt (I wore it on Monday). Good to see Andy Kuhn, Phil Hester, Mellon & Hopeless, Norton & Seeley, BB & Stakal, Samnee & Bunn, and all the other cute couples in comics...

Anyway, it's always nice to hit Chicago.