Tagged: literature

Is This How You See Me? by Jaime Hernandez

Two years later, here’s a one-shot I Love (And Rockets) Monday — because the Brothers Hernandez have kept making comics, and those comics do make their way into books eventually, and even more eventually I will read them.

Is This How You See Me?  collects a Jaime story that ran from the end of the book-size annual New Stories into the beginning of the current magazine-sized Vol. IV comic. And I covered it, more or less, in the last post of the main run of I Love (And Rockets) Mondays.

The story? Maggie and Hopey, now pushing fifty (possibly from the other side) head back to Hoppers together for a punk reunion that neither one of them is all that enthusiastic about.

Well, Hopey is never enthusiastic in a positive way about anything: she was a ball of chaos in her youth, and has settled into a cynical sour middle age. Maggie is more mercurial, as usual, wanting to believe that things will be wonderful but continually remembering all of the other times she believed that things would be wonderful and they weren’t.

So they both know that you can’t go home again. And they don’t live that far from home to begin with: they didn’t get that far or do that much, all of their dreams of rock ‘n’ roll or prosolar mechanicdom to the contrary. We don’t know what their old friends do for a living, exactly, but we suspect they’re more successful: Terry has been making music all this time, at least successfully enough to have a career as a leader of various bands. And Daffy was never as punky as the rest, a girl from the nicer side of town who went off to college and seems to be solidly in the professional/managerial class. (Remembering that Maggie manages an apartment building and Hopey is a teacher’s aide — both jobs they fell into in mid-life when other things fell apart.)

None of that is text, but it’s definitely subtext. Punk was one of the regular youth-fueled screams of rage and rebellion, giving voice to people who felt like their lives had no good options. And they were not wrong.

But we all have to live our lives, not just protest them. Punk bravado burns out, or starts looking silly. Maggie and Hopey are long past the point where punk attitude was relevant to their lives, so this is like any other reunion: wondering who will be there, whether any of it will be worth it, whether it can provide any of those moments of clarity we live for.

This reunion is scripted by Jaime Hernandez. So there will be moment of clarity, for us as readers if not for his characters. I’m afraid Jaime’s central characters are cursed to never have clarity: that may the most central thing about Maggie and Hopey. They will never really understand themselves, or each other.

Well, I may be wrong. They’re getting older, and they’re getting better at seeing clearly.

This is the story of one weekend in about 2016, with flashbacks to 1979, when the two girls were young and fearless and something that passed for innocent and damaged in different ways than their middle-aged selves. I can’t say if it will be as heartbreaking for people who can’t remember 1979 — who haven’t lived fifty or so years themselves. I think so: I think Jaime is that good. But it has more punch the more of this connects with you personally, like any good art.

The more any of us live, the more regrets and what-ifs we accumulate. They can overwhelm us, I guess, if we let them. Is This How You See Me? is about wandering through those piles of regrets and what-ifs without actually talking about them, about seeing where you are this year and looking back in wonder and surprise and awe at who you were forty years ago.

It does not have the electric shock of The Love Bunglers. It’s a quieter book, a middle-aged book. But it’s just as strong, just as true, just as real. And Jaime Hernandez is still one of our best storytellers, working fearlessly in a form he’s made his own.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Book-A-Day 2016 #6: Baking With Kafka by Tom Gauld

Is Tom Gauld our most erudite cartoonist? From the evidence of his work, he well could be — there’s a parade of authors both classic (Shakespeare, Austen) and genre (Ballard, Gaiman) and modern literary (Franzen, Mantel), and a dazzling awareness of tropes and ideas and genre furniture in his work, and it’s hard to think of any other cartoonist who has worked so much with this material.

Naysayers might point out that all of this material originally appeared in the book section of the British newspaper The Guardian, and so one could thus expect that bookishness would be baked into the premise. That’s true, but, still Teh Grauniad asked Gauld to be their cartoonist in the first place for a reason, and it’s not because of his amazing facility at drawing likenesses of famous writers.

(Just in case: Gauld does not have an amazing facility for drawing likenesses of famous writers. At least, I’ve never seen such from him, and his minimalist style would tend to go in the opposite direction. But there I go explaining the jokes again.)

Baking With Kafka is a collection of Guardian cartoons. Some of them may have appeared elsewhere, before or instead of or also, because this book, like so many others, doesn’t explain where it’s contents appeared previously. (Cue my standard if-I-ruled-the-world complaint.) They are all about books, in some way or another, or, at least, about the kinds of things that bookish people care about.

It contains such awesome works as “The Four Undramatic Plot Structures” and “My Library” (with books color-coded as to whether or not they have or will be read), “The Nine Archetypal Heroines” and “How to Submit Your Spy Novel for Publication,” “Jonathan Franzen Says No” and “Niccolo Machiavelli’s Plans for the Summer.” All of those are a single page in size; no one must keep a thing in memory from page to page — except, perhaps, a sense of object permanence and the ability to read the English language.

Some people will hate this book. Perhaps they hate it because they hate literature, or books in general. Perhaps they hate it because Gauld’s style is too simple and illustrative for them. Perhaps they hate it because they are hateful people full of hate who live only to hate. There are many reasons, none of them, I insist, good ones.

All of the smart readers will love it. And you consider yourself a smart reader, don’t you? There you go.

(For those unsure as to how smart they are: the cartoons here are much like those in You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack . You might also want to consider Gauld’s recent full-length graphic novel Mooncop .)

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

7 Common Misconceptions About Science Fiction (and Comics) Publishing

7 Common Misconceptions About Science Fiction (and Comics) Publishing

Dennis O’Neil: Robber Barons, Then and Now

O'Neil Art 140102Where have you gone, Mr. Potter? Oh – I see. You’re over there with your chums Goldfinger, Scrooge and his pseudo-doppelganger, Scrooge McDuck and, oh look! It’s Uncle Pennybags, stepping away from the Monopoly board. And what’s causing that breeze?. Somebody left the portal between fiction and history open and look who’s coming through! People who at one time actually existed: John Jacob Astor, Andrew Carnegie, Jay Gould, John D. Rockefeller… on goes the list.

That last bunch, the ones who had birth certificates, are sometimes labeled “robber barons” and now you’ll allow me to quote from the invaluable Wikipedia: “In social criticism and economic literature, Robber barons became a derogatory term applied to… powerful 19th century businessmen,,, who used what were considered to be exploitative practices to amass their wealth. These practices included exerting control over national resources, accruing high levels of government influence, paying extremely low wages, squashing competition by acquiring competitors in order to create monopolies and eventually raise prices, and schemes to sell stock at inflated prices to unsuspecting investors in a manner which would eventually destroy the company for which the stock was issued and impoverish investors.”

But really. Were these guys actually so bad? Did they deserve to have writers of both fiction and non-fiction portray them as ruthless greed-heads? Is the stereotype justified?

I’m afraid so.

According research reported by psychologist Daniel Goleman “condescending or dismissive behavior… suggest, to a surprisingly accurate extent, the social distance between those with greater power and those with less — a distance that goes beyond the realm of interpersonal interactions and may exacerbate the soaring inequality in the United States… In 2008, social psychologists from the University of Amsterdam and the University of California, Berkeley, studied pairs of strangers telling one another about difficulties they had been through, like a divorce or death of a loved one. The researchers found that the differential expressed itself in the playing down of suffering. The more powerful were less compassionate toward the hardships described by the less powerful

In politics, readily dismissing inconvenient people can easily extend to dismissing inconvenient truths about them. The insistence by some House Republicans in Congress on cutting financing for food stamps and impeding the implementation of Obamacare, which would allow patients, including those with pre-existing health conditions, to obtain and pay for insurance coverage, may stem in part from the empathy gap. As political scientists have noted, redistricting and gerrymandering have led to the creation of more and more safe districts, in which elected officials dont even have to encounter many voters from the rival party, much less empathize with them.

So ol’ Captain Leftie is doing the Mother Teresa tap dance? Not guilty. Around these parts, all morality derives from the desired survival of the race. Huggy love is fine but in the end breathing is what’s important and the Old Ones who lived long enough to pass on genes learned the value of cooperation, a value that seems to be vanishing from our 21st. century grouches.

I didn’t build the house I’m sitting in and don’t even get me started about computers.

And no, I don’t believe the poor deserve their lot, especially not the children.

Something else… Oh yeah – happy new year.

FRIDAY MORNING: Martha Thomases


SUNDAY MORNING: John Ostrander



White Rocket 014: James Clavell’s Asian Saga!

This week author Rick Lai joins Van Allen Plexico to discuss one of the greatest achievements in both literature and television: James Clavell’s epic ASIAN SAGA– SHOGUN, NOBLE HOUSE, TAI-PAN, KING RAT, GAI JIN and WHIRLWHIND.  Climb aboard Struan & Co’s Lasting Cloud and try not to get shipwrecked in the Japans, you foreign devil, as Van and Rick explore the (gargantuan) novels and the TV miniseries and movies that were made from them!

Learn more at http://erthstationone.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/white-rocket-014-james-clavells-asian-saga/

Available as always on iTunes, or visit www.whiterocketbooks.com.

REVIEW: Eoin Colfer kicks off Doctor Who 50th anniversary with new 1st Doctor adventure

REVIEW: Eoin Colfer kicks off Doctor Who 50th anniversary with new 1st Doctor adventure

Some things we now know about the Doctor thanks to Eoin Colfer, writer of the Artemis Fowl books:

The Doctor hates Blakes 7.

The Doctor has lost a hand before.

The Doctor’s first stop on Earth was not 1963.

Colfer’s e-book, A Big Hand for the Doctor, is the first of eleven monthly releases, each featuring a different Doctor.  Eoin (“Owen”) chose the first Doctor, as played by William Hartnell, and takes advantage of that by doing an end-run around continuity and setting his adventure before the first adventure of the series.  In it, he is in Victorian London, recuperating from a battle with a band of organleggers who kidnap children from their bedrooms, wasting “not a molecule” of their biomass, resulting in their fearful moniker, the Soul Pirates.  The Doctor lost a hand in a sword fight with their leader, and while a new one is grown for him, a helpful alien surgeon fits him with a functional if unattractive metal claw.  His granddaughter Susan has disobeyed (of course) and set off after the Soul Pirates herself, only serving to get herself caught in their glittering tractor beam.  The Doctor must fight off the hordes of slow-witted pirates to save the children, as well as match wits with their leader, a young man who has chosen to wear The Doctor’s severed hand around his neck.

The short story (only about 5,000 words) is witty and charming, with wonderful tossaway details of still more adventures unseen and yet to come.  The story is laced with parallels to a certain classic of children’s literature, all tied up with a cameo by the author at the end, once again showing that even when he’s not aware of it, The Doctor can’t help but to help.

The authors of the rest of the anniversary adventures are a closely-guarded secret  Each will be revealed around the beginning of each month.  A number of names have been floated by numerous websites with little evidence or basis in fact, mainly to draw clicks to their pages.  The first book is available at many e-book dealers including Amazon.com.


Episode 32 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing, literature, and drinking, is available on iTunes, or right click here to download.

On this week’s show, The Drunken Odyssey host John King interviews New Pulp Novelist Terry Cronin, author of The Skinvestigator series.

Learn more about The Skinvestigator here.

“Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes” wins Costa Book Awards biography of 2012

Dotter of her Father's EyesMary and Bryan Talbot’s Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes has won the Costa Book Awards biography of the year. They won the £5,000 biography prize for a book that interweaves the true and tragic story of James Joyce’s daughter Lucia with Mary’s own troubled relationship with her father, the eminent Joycean scholar James S. Atherton.

The Talbots have known of the win for several weeks. “It has been really hard keeping quiet about it,” said Mary. “We were astonished. Just being shortlisted was amazing and hearing we’d won the category was stunning. We’re delighted of course, both personally – it’s the first story I’ve had published – but also for the medium, I can’t believe a graphic novel has won.”

It is not the first graphic work to win a major literary prize – Art Spiegelman’s Maus won a Pulitzer in 1992 and Chris Ware won the Guardian first book prize in 2001 for Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on Earth – but the Costa award is still a significant moment for the graphic medium.

“It is a good thing for graphic novels as a whole,” said Bryan Talbot whose prodigious output includes The Adventures of Luther Arkwright and Alice in Sunderland as well as strips for Judge Dredd and Batman. “Graphic novels are becoming increasingly accepted as a legitimate art form.”

The last graphic novel spike came about 25 years ago with the popularity of books such as The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen and Maus. The problem then, said Talbot, was that there were not enough books to feed this. “By the time you’d read a dozen or so of the best titles, there wasn’t enough left to keep this nascent interest going. Since then, there has been an increasing number of graphic novels published and now we have this whole canon of quality work.

“We are living in the golden age of graphic novels. There are more and better comics being drawn today than ever in the history of the medium and there’s such a range of styles of artwork, of genre and of subject matter.”

Judges called Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes “a beautifully crafted” work “which crosses the boundaries between literature and the graphic genre with extraordinary effect”.

via Costa awards 2012: graphic biography wins category prize | Books | The Guardian.

Congratulations to Mary and Bryan!

See the haunted opera “Lilith: Mother of Dreams” tonight!

There was a once-in-a-century storm that delayed the original premiere date. But Lilith will not be denied.

Join poet-violist (and ComicMix contributor) Alexandra Honigsberg, international artist composer-clarinetist Demetrius Spaneas, soprano Christina Rohm, and pianist-conductor James Siranovich at the premiere of Lilith: Mother of Dreams, a chamber opera of the iconic demon goddess. It’s debuting tonight at a historic haunted opera house, Flushing Town Hall.

The Lilith Project is conceived as a modern American suitcase opera, a chamber monodrama: intense, human, universal, compact in form and forces, accessible.

Before there was Eve, there was Lilith: Adam’s first lover, once human, made from the same dust, sensuality’s queen, bride of the Angel of Death, mother of opposing cosmic forces – strong, willful, unstoppable. She rules the storms of the skies and the heart – night owl, holy woman of power. From ancient tales of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, to Greece’s Lamiae and Daughters of Hecate, to Native American lore and Victorian Gothic Horror, Lilith looms large in the minds of men and women when the lights go out and they enter dream time. Some call her demon, vampire, child killer – others mother, lover, elder, friend. But whatever the appellations, she persists in the realms of our imaginations, from holy books and high literature to popular feminist concert series, TV shows, and Japanese anime. Child of Light? Daughter of Darkness? Both? Neither? You decide.

Composer Spaneas is a long-time professional, curator of Cornelia St. Café’s Serial Underground award-winning new music series’ 25th year, and Fullbright Specialist of the State Department’s musical diplomats. Librettist Honigsberg is a veteran violist, award-winning songwriter, long-time published poet, and this year’s winner of the Mayor’s Poetry Prize. Both Rohm and Siranovich have established opera careers all over the US and cities abroad.  Long-time colleagues in many configurations over the years, Lilith marks this creative team’s debut.

There will be a talk by the artists before the performance and then time for questions and answers, afterwards, and a reception to which all are invited. Come as you are, but gala premiere attire, period dress, and other unique finery is encouraged!

The production is fiscally sponsored by Composers Collaborative, Inc. $10 suggested donation/FTH members free, all welcome.


On his Facebook page, New Pulp Author Mark Ellis posted the cover and a tease about his upcoming project.

From Mark Ellis:

In…a world…(I always wanted to write that)

In a world almost identical to this one, all the characters from Victorian and early 20th century literature existed…there was Nemo, Sherlock Holmes, Moriarty, and even the War of The Worlds.

Some of the descendants of these famous–and in many instances, infamous–people carry on the work of their distinguished (and not so much) ancestors.

Two of these descendants are Professor Edward George Challenger and Major Loveday Brooke, operatives of the Diogenes Club, a freelance adjunct of MI6.

In ISLANDS OF DR. MOREAU, they face the terrifying threat of Sirocco Moreau, who has harnessed the secrets of selective mutation to give dominion of the Earth to the Akhakhu, neogods modeled after the ancient Egyptian pantheon of deities–with her as the immortal queen.

This is the first (hopefully) in an action-adventure series featuring the grandson of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Professor George Edward Challenger…it’s a blend of Doc Savage and James Bond, with a pinch of Torchwood and a sprinkling of The Avengers and The Man From UNCLE.

I’m having a lot of fun working in this universe, so by following Rex Stout’s dictum, everybody should have a lot of fun reading it.

I’ll have more details about the release date soon.


And we’ll share that here on All Pulp when it becomes available.