Tagged: Bob Greenberger

Mike Gold: Suicide Squad, John Ostrander, and My Damn Good Luck

Johnny O Squad LogoAre you tired of all the comics-related movies this summer? I didn’t think so, but I do understand why some of the movie critics are. These poor bastards see a couple hundred movies each year, they have little choice over which ones they must review and after a couple years, the daily smell of hot popcorn must become cloying.

Still, a couple of these writers have become complete assholes about it. Fine, fine. It is a great tradition among the professional critic set to cast their noses so high in the air you’d think they’d drown in a drizzle.

Having just seen The Killing Joke in a real movie theater – that part was cool – I’m only a couple days away from seeing Suicide Squad­ at the New York City screening. I’ll be joining my friend, frequent-collaborator and fellow ComicMix columnist John Ostrander, creator of Amanda Waller and the concept of The Suicide Squad.

This will be a highly personal experience for me. John and I have been friends for 45 years now, which speaks highly of his astonishing tolerance. Amanda Waller and Company first got on their feet in my apartment in Evanston Illinois before I returned to DC Comics in 1986. John and I were plotting the Legends miniseries and, since Bob Greenberger was my assistant way back then and he and John had been kicking some ideas around we decided Legends would provide a great launchpad for the Squad.

We really weren’t sneaking John in through DC’s back door, although that image pleases me. When Dick Giordano offered me the job of senior editor, he was hoping that I would bring John and some of my other First Comics collaborators to the company, or, in many cases, back to the company. This was no surprise: it was exactly the same deal, with the same hopes, that DC’s then-executive vice president Irwin Donenfeld made with Dick when he was editor-in-chief at Charlton nearly 20 years previous.

John and I met because we were comic book geeks. We both were at a party dominated by people in Chicago’s burgeoning theater scene, which gave us the likes of John Malkovich, Laurie Metcalf, David Mamet, Dennis Franz and Joe Mantegna. In fact, John co-wrote the play Bloody Bess that starred Franz and Mantegna. When I arrived, the party’s host recognized me and semi-snarlingly said “Oh, we have a couple of other comic book fans here” and I was escorted to a lonely couch where us fanboys couldn’t infect the others. John was sitting on said couch, and we hit it off immediately.

Friendships come and go; the really good ones can exist forever and endure long periods of limited co-existence. I am lucky to have John in my life as a constant – our friendship never lacked personal contact despite my moving from Chicago to New York, back to Chicago, and then back to New York (well, Connecticut, really). John has also moved around, calling Chicago, Connecticut, New Jersey and now Michigan his home. We share emails almost daily, phone calls frequently, and in-person visits whenever possible (in the comic book racket, that can be with alarming frequency given the now-12 month convention season), often over amazingly great barbecue. John and I have shared our good times and our bad, the worst of which for each of us being the death of our respective wives thirteen years apart.

John Ostrander has always been there for me, and that is why I am looking forward to the Suicide Squad premiere.

Even if the film breaks.

John Ostrander: Why Did I Do That #3 – Suicide Squad

I don’t know about you guys but I’m having fun going back through some of the characters I’ve written in the past and explaining why I chose to do what I did. I’m not particularly critiquing modern versions (well, maybe a little) but I’m explaining why I took the approach I did. Today, let‘s look at some of the Suicide Squad members other than Amanda Waller.

Captain Boomerang. Initial Squad editor Bob Greenberger suggested Digger Harkness, aka Captain Boomerang, as a member. Flash at that time wasn’t using the Rogue and Boomerang was available. I wasn’t into the character at first and I considered him sort of lame, but I started thinking of what I could do with him.

One of the series I was reading at the time was the Flashman series by George MacDonald Fraser. Fraser took the secondary character from the classic Tom Brown’s Schooldays (an 1857 novel by Thomas Hughes). The character of Flashman, as created by Hughes, was a bully and a coward and got expelled early on from the school. Fraser picked him up in a series of historical novels, let him remain a rogue, a womanizer, a bully and a coward who becomes acclaimed (wrongly) as a hero in his day. At one point when I was reading the first novel I became so pissed with him, I threw the novel across the room. I grew to love him and the series, however; they’re very worth reading today. Historically accurate and funny as hell.

So – a rogue, Flashman, Flash – brain synapses fired. Why not do something like that with Captain Boomerang? He doesn’t change. He always looks for an angle. He knows who he is and he’s perfectly happy with it. He keeps finding new depths to which to sink. He’s a jerk, he’s an asshole, he’s a villain – but he’s fun to read.

According to his backstory, Harkness is from Australia but he never sounded like it. I decided to get some books on Australian slang and pepper his dialogue with them. It was a fun way to sneak some naughty words past the censors but the joke, ultimately, was on me. My buddy, the writer Dave de Vries, is from Down Under and he told me that he and his mates would get together to read issues of the Squad and just laugh at Boomerbutt’s lines. It seems my grasp of the slang was, shall we say, a tad antiquated.

“But I got them from books, “ I protested.

“I know, mate,” responded Dave, “but nobody actually talks like that anymore.”

I toned it down a bit. Still Digger remained one of my absolute faves on the Squad. Totally fun to write.

Deadshot. Also know as Floyd Lawton. Lawton was a little used Batman villain. In his first appearance, he wore a tuxedo with a top hat, a domino mask, and twin Western gunbelts strapped across his waist. Not a very cool look. His story was that he ran in the same set as Bruce Wayne so he was wealthy. He pretended to be a hero in Gotham and a challenge to Batman but actually was a thief and masterminded other robberies until Bats uncovered him and sent him to jail.

Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers brought Deadshot back and gave him a really cool new look. I drafted him into the Squad.

Lawton was somewhat of a blank slate. I have a technique where I use induction and deduction to figure out a character based on what we knew. Deadshot’s rep is that he never misses and yet he can never kill Batman. Is Batman just that good or is there another reason? Does Deadshot pull his shots around Batman and, if so, why? I liked that last concept. Yes, Batman is that good but he’s also aware that Deadshot unconsciously pulls his shots. We later developed that Lawton had this complex relationship with his older brother. He really loved the guy but accidentally wound up killing him – Lawton’s first kill.

Lawton killed without emotion. I had to wrap my head around that if I was going to write it. How do you reach that point?

I had seen a special on TV talking with a mob hit man. Coldest dead eyes I’ve ever seen. Killing was nothing to him; he talked about shooting and killing a man in a car at a stop sign just to test a new gun. How could I write something so foreign to me?

I had also heard someone once say “If my own life doesn’t matter to me, why should yours?” On some level, I could understand that. Life has no meaning to someone like that. Yes, there was a moment – just a moment – when I felt like that at one time.

It’s been said Lawton had a death wish; I saw it – and see it – more that he didn’t care. He didn’t care if he died; he didn’t care if you died. The job mattered; was it interesting? Was there a challenge?

The two were tied together – having killed the person who mattered most to him, no other life mattered, including his own. That was a character I found compelling and so did quite a few others.

Different writers have different takes on both Captain Boomerang and Deadshot and that’s fine. They should have the freedom to develop the characters according to their own understanding as I did. Harkness and Lawton were among the most popular and central characters back when I was writing Suicide Squad; they were among my faves as well.

 

Mindy Newell: The Name Of The Monster

“Must a name mean something?” Alice asked doubtfully. 



“Of course it must,” Humpty Dumpty said with a short laugh; “my name means the shape I am – and a good handsome shape it is, too. With a name like yours, you might be any shape, almost.”

Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll

There was a time in my life when it was my silent, constant partner. I didn’t know then what it was; this thing had no name, and no one had yet advised me to challenge it, to call it out from the shadows into the sunlight. It hid in the cold dark crevices of my psyche, curled around my thoughts and dreams like a boa constrictor, never letting go, an anonymous thing. I knew there was something wrong, but without a name to call it, I could not voice it. Without a name to call it, I could not control it. Without a name to call it, I could not reclaim my self.

Yesterday I went to a comic book store for the first time in a very, very long time.

What the hell does that have to do with my struggles with it? A good question. A legitimate question.

The first time I discovered a store dedicated to comics was way back in the early 80s, during the time when this anonymous thing lived with me day after day, week after week, month after month. I don’t remember purposely sniffing it out – IIRC I just happened to be stopped at a red light on Broadway in downtown Bayonne, New Jersey. The storefront caught my eye; the windows were full of comics and some other stuff, but then the light turned green and I continued along my way.

But for the few moments while I was waiting for the red to turn to green, the thing had let go of me, or, at least, had lessened its grip. It wasn’t an “uh-huh” moment…

But very soon afterwards I was in the store and I wasn’t feeling weird, or odd, or frightened or any of that remote, sad, heaviness of the thing-with-no name which I carried with me – well, not so much, anyhow…

Yeah, not to put it through too fine a sieve – and, yes, it’s 28 years later – I think what I was feeling was comfort.

I looked at all the covers of the comics and the colors and the artwork and all the heroes – Superman, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Green Lantern, The Legion Of Super-Heroes, and all the rest – and I felt better. Okay, not kick-up-your-heels-and-do-a-dance better, but yeah, definitely better. Probably, as my therapist would say, it had to do with being suddenly face-to-face with the little-girl-who-was-me; she who was excited, who was curious, who read comics by flashlight after Taps underneath the covers of my bunk at camp.

I remembered her.

I was her.

I don’t remember what else I bought that day, but I do remember buying Camelot 3000, the groundbreaking maxi-series by Mike W. Barr and Brian Bolland, which imagines the prophesized return of King Arthur and his Round Table when the Earth is threatened by an alien invasion in the year 3000 A.D. I have always loved the story of the once and future king; it is the classic hero’s journey, told over and over again in many myths and in many cultures, the tale of the individual who is challenged to walk through the gauntlet, to vanquish the enemy, to achieve peace and knowledge even if cost is dear.

I read that first issue of Camelot 3000, and while I was reading it I escaped the hell of my life. And I kept going back to the comic book store and I kept reading C3000, and I bought and read other comics. I even wrote a “Letter to the Editor” that appeared in an issue of Green Lantern.

It was finally, and properly, diagnosed and named in 1990 as clinical depression.

And yes, naming the monster gave me power.

But I still hate it. Because it never really goes away, y’know? Even with medication and therapy, it’s always there, teasing me. “I’m still here. I had you once. I can have you again.” And sometimes it does, for a little while. The past month, for instance. But I have named it, and so its power is not what it was. And then, too, sometimes I think…

If the monster had not taken hold of me, if I had not had to struggle and walk through the gauntlet, I would have never walked into that comic book store in 1982 and started reading comics again. I would have never sat down on a rainy Sunday and written Jenesis, the story that led me to Karen Berger and New Talent Showcase and all the wonderful things that followed it. I would have never written Lois Lane: When It Rains, God Is Crying, and never would have been able to understand the pain of Chalk Drawings (Wonder Woman #46), which I co-wrote with George Pérez. I would have never gone to conventions and met so many wonderful people – this means you, Mike, John, Kim, and Mary. And you, Martha. And you, Bob Greenberger. And Karen and Len and Marv and Mike Grell and Tom Brevoort and Trina Robbins and Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner and Marie Javins. And so many others, some of who are no longer with us – Dick Giordano and Gray Morrow and Don Heck and Mark Gruenwald…

I hate you, depression.

I hate you with a passion that frightens me. You have fucked up my life in too many goddamn ways.

And yet…

I would not be here now without you.

I said once before, in a previous column, that nothing is wasted.

Even, and I hate to say it, clinical depression.

 

Mindy Newell: Monsters Of The Id

Newell Art 131209I may be behind the eight-ball here, but last month much blogging, Facebook and Tumblr posts and Twitter accounts were ablaze with comics artist Tess Fowler’s account of sexual harassment at the 2007 San Diego Comic Convention – a comics pro used the age-old pretense of being interested in her work to try and get her to come up to his room, and when Tess declined, he then went about insulting her work, her cosplay and talking bullshit about her to other male comics professionals and anybody else who would listen on the convention floor, i.e., in public.

Yeah, I know I’ve written about this subject before, and so has Heidi MacDonald over at The Beat, Colleen Doran on her own blog, former Dark Horse editor Rachel Edidin on her Tumblr site Postcards From Space, Jill Pantozzi at The Mary Sue, and Corrina Lawson on her site, Geek Mom.

What I’m wondering now is…

Is sexual harassment towards women in the industry more prevalent now than when I was actively writing and editing in the 80s and 90s?

Was I really that oblivious?

No, I wasn’t. But I had confidence in myself and didn’t think too much about it, and I honestly really never felt harassed or put upon or insulted. In fact, I enjoyed my professional and personal friendships with Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, Mike Gold, Joey Cavalieri, Bob Greenberger, Fabien Nicieza, Dick Giordano, Tom Brevoort, Mark Gruenwald, Jerry Ordway, Tom DeFalco, Ernie Colon, Richard Bruning, Keith Giffen, and so many other men in the biz, just to name a few. In fact, I was honored to be able to call these guys my friends and co-workers.

But there was one particularly nasty incident concerning an editor and a letter and my toilet bowl. Yes, I was so disgusted by the contents of that letter that I flushed it down the toilet in a fit of rage – thus “burning the evidence,” which was a ridiculous thing to do, I know, but I also stopped working on my assignment long enough to have the big boss of this company call me and invite me to lunch with him at the Top of the Sixes, a very swanky restaurant. During the phone call I told Mr. Big (with apologies to Candace Bushnell) about the letter, and he asked me to bring it to the lunch. “I can’t,” I said. “I flushed it down the toilet.”

“You shouldn’t have done that.”

“I couldn’t keep that disgusting piece of filth around this house.”

But the lunch went off as planned. Mr. Big was a wonderful man, a true mensch, and he made me realize that, as a comics professional, hell, as an adult woman, I had to finish my commitments. Which I did. Even if my heart was no longer in it.

But this was the only time that I experienced any kind of direct sexual harassment in the comics industry. Perhaps it’s because the men I met were, for the most part, of an age – all high school and college students in the 60s, shutting down universities and marching in the street to protest the Vietnam War, “tuning in, turning on, dropping out” during those summers of love. Women were burning their bras, men were burning their draft cards, and the police were beating up protestors at political conventions while inside the buildings journalists were being manhandled off the floor. The men who were older – Julie Schwartz, Joe Kubert, and others – had lived through their own hells of the Depression and World War II.

They were mature.

They were adults.

They were men.

Now I’m not part of the current scene in comics; well, I am, but only peripherally. So I can’t speak directly of the XY set in comics today. But from what I read, from what I hear, it seems that there are more boys in the field than ever.

Boys who seem to be the very essence of the cliché of the male child who lives on TV shows like The Big Bang Theory and in movies like Knocked Up. Only, unlike Leonard and Sheldon and Howard and Rajesh, unlike Ben and Pete, these guys don’t grow up; they won’t grow up. They are Peter Pan children eternally stuck in a Never-Never Land of narcissistic masturbation of their own (unfulfilled) “who’s the man?” fantasies.

And as children, they have no idea of the repercussions their behavior is causing. Repercussions that could result in the destruction of an industry.

And all because they can’t keep their ids zipped up.

TUESDAY MORNING: The Debut of Jen Krueger!

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: The Return of Michael Davis?

 

Mike Gold: The Lenticular Corridor

Gold Art 130403Well, this is fun.

As I type these words – 20 hours prior to posting – ComicMix is in the following situation. Glenn Hauman is about to board a plane taking him from WonderCon to San Francisco to Newark, New Jersey. We should see him sometime late next year. Martha Thomases and Arthur Tebbel are wandering around Japan hoping the whole North Korea is-gonna-nuke-us thing is a joke. Bob Greenberger is somewhere vaguely north of the White House staring at boxes and wondering how he got so old so fast. Adriane Nash is floating around North Haven Connecticut holding a candle. Vinnie Bartilucci is in Who Heaven studying the 50th anniversary show read-through photos pixel by pixel. Marc Alan Fishman is trying to come up with a way to spend more time with his son Bennett without having to go to Japan. Some of the above are planning on this weekend’s MoCCA Arts Fest.

That leaves me here at ComicMix Central. Always a dangerous thing.

And then my iMac started acting up.

Oy.

I’ve had more than 29 years of experience with all things Macintosh, so I should be able to fix things while Wizardboy Hauman is on the Left Coast. And, while I’m at it, I should be able to shoot down flying monkeys with my psionic death rays.

Turns out that psionic death rays thing might have been easier to pull off. I’ve spent 24 hour doing PRAM zaps and SMC resets, swapping cables, connecting and disconnecting USB cables (2.0 and 3.0), connecting and disconnecting USB devices, fussing with Bluetooth and WiFi, blowing off sundry start-up apps and rebooting like a cobbler on meth. And I still get five copies of the “You’ve got a USB device that’s draining too much power, asshole” error messages cascading across my screen on the average of every 20 seconds.

OK. Every once in a while computers, cars, and human beings break down and I’m way, way past my due. When Adriane isn’t wandering around New Haven county, we’ve got a zillion machines here including iPads and iBooks and iBalls. Unfortunately, Adriane is wandering around New Haven county with some of the above equipment, so I can’t boot my machine as a target disk.

Which means, in English, that I can’t do squat until I’ve fixed it. I’ve got to post Michael Davis’s Tuesday afternoon column (this wouldn’t have been a problem if I got the column on time, as opposed to just past midnight Monday morning; Michael’s got an excuse and it’ll probably be next week’s column) and I’ve got to write and post my column and do all kinds of other important stuff. I can do a lot of this on my iPad and I have, but in order to edit art and post properly, I need that iMac.

And then, literally 55 minutes before Michael’s column is to go up, I find it. Well, maybe not “it” but something that, if disabled, seems to cure about 90% of the problem. That’ll do… and maybe that other 10% will disappear when I reboot.

Or maybe the iMac will go Nagasaki on me: that’s how computers, cars and human beings tell us they want to be replaced.

But at least I’ve got a column out of it.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

 

John Ostrander: My CBG

Ostrander Art 130113 “There are places I remember

All my life, though some have changed

Some forever not for better

Some have gone and some remain.”

– The Beatles, In My Life

As I grow older, I find some underlying conservative strains in me coming out –much as that will surprise many who know me as a flaming leftie. While not totally adverse, I find I’m resistant to change the older I get. I like things as they were. When I periodically go back to my hometown of Chicago, I find some things have changed and some things are just gone. My first reaction generally is “Who told them they could do that?” Even if I haven’t been back to a place in some time, I mildly resent it not being there. I see what is now there overlaid with my memory of what was there. A cognitive double vision, if you will.

I think part of the reason that young people may not have that same reaction is they don’t have the same amount of experience with that spot. They’re living in it now and maybe know it only from now. Current chronology doesn’t get mixed with past chronology as it does for those of us who are older.

All of which brings us to the news this week of the Comics Buyer’s Guide ending its long run in about two months. For those of you who don’t know, CBG was long one of the top comics related newspapers/magazines with news and reviews and opinion columns relating to the comics medium.

There are other places that have covered the history of the Comic Buyers Guide, including an excellent summation by Bob Greenberger here on ComicMix. What I want to talk about instead is my own personal connections and history with it.

Before I was a writer of comics, I was a fan and with the dawning of the direct sale shops came the discovery of periodicals such as The Comics Reader and CBG. For the first time, I got a peek into the backstage of the comics industry. I got an idea of what was coming out and when, who were the artists or writers on what books, I read reviews, letters from fans and pros, opinions and columns (notably Peter David) and, as a fan and someone who had aspirations for the field, I wanted not only to read CBG, I wanted to be in it, to be one of those who were talked about.

Eventually, I was. I had arrived. I was part of it. I got reviewed by Don Thompson (he and his wife, the ever charming Maggie, ran the paper). While he didn’t like everything I did, I felt he was fair and reasonable and he gave one of my favorite reviews of my character GrimJack. In one issue, Gordon the bartender tells a customer the “secret origin of John Gaunt.” It came down to “Mama Gaunt, Papa Gaunt, a bottle of hootch, wucka wucka, wucka – nine months later, Baby Gaunt.” Don said it was his second favorite origin in all of comics, eclipsed only by Superman. I loved that and still do. Thanks, Don.

The most important memory of CBG for me is that, for a time, they gave my late wife Kimberly Yale a literary home. Kim wrote a column for them and, as she learned she had cancer, she recounted her battle with it until close to her death. Kim was a finer writer than me; I’m a storyteller, not a Fine Writer. Oh, I know my way around structure and theme and character and syntax and so on but my primary focus was and is storytelling. For Kim, it was the shape of the sentence, the right word chosen, the proper use of grammar and syntax. I’ll split infinitives without a care but Kim didn’t like that. She was the better essayist than myself. CBG gave her the chance to make her mark that way.

I’ll freely admit I haven’t read CBG for a while. I’m more online these days. I liked, however, knowing it was there and now it won’t be. Life changes, I know, and some things die but life itself always goes on even if I don’t always approve.

Drat.

MONDAY: Mindy Newell

 

MIXED REVIEW: Glenn and Mike Geek Out Over “The Avengers”

We each saw The Avengers at fan-filled midnight screenings, separately but equally. We tried to avoid any spoilers here, but we can’t guarantee we hit that mark. And, being who we are, there are a couple of teasers in this dialog.

MIKE: Did you see it in 2-D, 3-D, or IMAX?

GLENN: 3-D.

MIKE: Me too. This was the first movie ever that I can recommend in 3-D.

GLENN: Which is amazing, considering it was upsampled to 3-D. The film was converted to 3-D during post-production for the theatrical release. But it certainly paid off.

MIKE: The 3-D imaging credits were as long as the Manhattan phone book.

GLENN: Someone asked me point blank if The Avengers is the greatest superhero movie of all time. I said I don’t know about that, it has some very tough competition. But hands down, it’s the greatest superhero battle movie of all time. Act Three in particular is just completely packed with the loving destruction of the New York skyline, and in 3-D it’s incredibly staggering. It’s also fast and fun, as compared to the smashing of Chicago in Transformers: Dark Of The Moon… that just felt drawn out and more akin to a disaster movie. Here, it’s battle, action, and a much better feeling of scope and scale.

MIKE: Yes. It was a real superhero battle in the classic Marvel sense: everybody fights each other then gets together to fight the bad guys. And I’ll never be able to look at Grand Central Terminal the same way again.

GLENN: Or the Pan-Am building. Or 387 Park Avenue South, or Marvel’s address on 40th Street. All of that and they didn’t blow up any of DC’s offices. Have we reached detente?

MIKE: Well, they blew up CBS’s first teevee studios. Which is funny, as this was a Paramount movie.

GLENN: Not really a Paramount movie, Disney bought ‘em out but they had to keep the logo on.

MIKE: And, of course, Paramount got a truckload of money and, I’ll bet, a piece.

GLENN: Exactly.

MIKE: Did you notice they hardly ever referred to anybody by their superhero name – other than The Hulk, who is obviously different from Banner, and Thor, who is, obviously, Thor.

GLENN: I think everybody got name-checked at least once.

MIKE: Yeah. Once or twice. Period.

(more…)

MINDY NEWELL: Great Books! And 1 Movie!

So what are you reading?

Fellow ComicMixer Bob Greenberger recently talked about To Kill A Mockingbird a couple days ago as he prepares to teach his class. To Kill A Mockingbird is, as I expect all of you to know, a masterpiece of American literature concerning the racial tensions and bigotries of a small town in Alabama during the Depression – but more important, it is a study of the nature of good and evil, of both the morality and immorality inherent in all of us.

Starring Gregory Peck as the lawyer Atticus Finch who defends the black man accused of raping a white woman, the movie is a landmark picture, and – in my opinion – a touchstone for how to adapt a brilliant novel to the screen. Also my opinion: Peck’s greatest role.

But don’t just watch the movie. Read the book itself. One of the things that just driiivvvess meeee crrrrrazzzzy is when I ask someone, “did you read….” and what I get back in response is, “I saw the movie.”

Aaaaaggghh!

Here’re some books that have been turned into movies. Some good, some bad, some just “eh.” But do yourself a favor – read the book. You might learn something.

Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind: Yes, it’s one of the greatest movies ever made. Yes, adjusted for inflation it’s made more than any other movie. Yes, Vivien Leigh, Olivia DeHavilland, Hattie MacDonald Clark Gable, Leslie Howard, are the living embodiments of Mitchell’s characters. In fact, it’s about the most perfect casting ever, in my opinion. But Scarlett is not just the selfish bitch that the movie portrays.

In fact, as you read Gone With The Wind, you realize that Scarlett Katie O’Hara embodies both the Old and New South, the gentry who will not dirty their hands and the hard-scrabbling immigrant who will. Even her mother and father represent this coming battle, with Ellen O’Hara a symbol of the old landed gentry who live by rituals and rules, and Gerald O’Hara the hard-scrabbling immigrant who will do anything to succeed. And her men are symbols, too, as she clings to Ashley as a representation of an idealized world of chivalry and manners, and of the pampered childhood she has lost, while simultaneously being drawn to Rhett, the realist, the adult, the symbol of the “New South” and the future. Every main character in Gone With The Wind are the embodiments of the Civil War, of the battle between yesterday and today, of what was and what can be. Melanie is not just the selfless and perfect Lady of the antebellum South. Rhett is more than a lusting hedonist who marries Scarlett because he can’t have any other way. Ashley is more than just a beaten Confederate. Mitchell’s characters within the book come alive because they are all, well, alive.

The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Okay, technically this wasn’t a movie; it was a mini-series on TNT starring Julianne Margulies and Angelica Huston. It was promoted as the story of Camelot from the “women’s side.” The mini-series was a disaster. I could understand if no one’s curiosity was piqued enough to read the book. But do it anyway. But it’s so much more.

It’s the story of the introduction of Christianity into Celtic Britain, of how one great religion was usurped and demonized by another. It’s a story, again, of the fall of one civilization and the rise of another. Of choices, of the roles between women and men, of what is good and what is evil and what is in-between. Of what is magic and what is faith, of what is real and what is not. All, as I said, set against the backdrop of one of the most romantic and glorious legend of all, King Arthur, Lancelot, Guinevere, Morgan Le Fay, Mordred, Merlin, and the Round Table.

Giant, by Edna Ferber. Ferber was a brilliant novelist whose historical fictions also criticized the social mores and woes of America. Giant deals with the struggle for power between the great cattle barons and the growing oil industry in Texas from the 1920s to the 1950s. It’s the story of cultures at struggle against themselves and each other: Leslie Lynton Benedict, from the East, against her husband, Jordan “Bick” Benedict, born and bred in the Southwest. It’s about of racism and bigotry, of how both the cattle barons and the oil tycoons built their empires on the back of Mexican-Americans… sadly, still an incredibly relevant story today, as illegal immigration continues to be at the forefront of our politics. (Hello, Arizona!) It’s even about the role of women in a society, as Leslie, raised to think for herself, fights to retain her individuality in a society where women are sidelined and controlled by men. Most of all, it’s a story of generational war, as the old must give way to the young.

Okay, Kelly Clarkson just sang the Star Spangled Banner. I gotta go.

But just in case you think I’m a total book snob, there is one movie that totally exceeds its origins. That’s The Godfather, parts I and II. Read the book. It’s good…but the movies are better.

Kelly’s done. The game is on. Go Big Blue!

TUESDAY: Michael Davis… or Gold writes about hockey. One or the other.

“Demon Circle” story by Crazy 8 Press To Benefit CBLDF — Buy It Here Now!

“Demon Circle” story by Crazy 8 Press To Benefit CBLDF — Buy It Here Now!

Athis, an apprentice wizard in the Crimson Keep, isn’t the brightest flame in the candelabra. So when he and another apprentice named Belid summon a demon and then panic, trouble ensues—trouble that threatens to snowball wildly out of control. Will they and their fellow student Klaria be able to deal with the consequences before their master finds out? Will the Crimson Keep still be standing when it’s all over?

ComicMix is proud to offer “Demon Circle”, an original novella from Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, Bob Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, Aaron Rosenberg, and Howard Weinstein, the writers behind the new author-driven publishing venture Crazy 8 Press. Written live at ShoreLeave33, Crazy 8 Press and ComicMix are donating all proceeds to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which protects the First Amendment rights of comic book writers, artists, retailers, and fans.

You can get it for 99 cents, although you can choose to make a larger donation to the CBLDF by putting a different price below. After your purchase, you’ll receive an email telling you where to download the file.

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