Monday, January 28, 2008

If You Haven't Seen This Movie, You Seriously Have To!

Most people are going to remember comic actor John Astin for his role as Gomez Addams on The Addams Family television series. As Gomez, Astin swaggered onto the stage and delivered one-liners and off-beat dialogue with impeccable timing.

However, I remember him most vividly in the title role of Evil Roy Slade, a made-for-TV movie that came out back in 1972. On that first viewing, that movie became my favorite comedic Western, even outstripping James Garner’s Support Your Local Sheriff. It’s really unfair to group the two movies together in some respects. Support Your Local Sheriff tells a real story and Garner plays the character straight.

Some might want to throw Mel Brooks’s Blazing Saddles into the pot for consideration, and that’s fine. I just preferred the wit and quick turns of phrase and situation of my two personal favorites. I enjoyed Blazing Saddles, just not as much.

With Evil Roy Slade, the humor is over-the-top and moves at a purely frantic slapstick pace. If you don’t pay attention to Evil Roy Slade you’re going to miss a snappy comeback, an offhand remark that is delicious, or a bit of physical comedy mugging for the camera that is to die for.

Where else can you get math problems like:

Betsy: Evil Roy, if you had six apples and your neighbor took three of them, what would you have?

Evil Roy: A dead neighbor and all six apples.


Evil Roy: My definition of a nine-to-five job? Nine guys robbing five guys!


Poker Player: I got jacks with an ace.

Evil Roy: I got threes…with a gun.

Poker Player: You win! Wow, you are lucky!

The laughs are often deft puns and plays on words, with Astin mugging his way through them in true vaudevillian style. No one else could have played Evil Roy Slade.

Until the DVD arrived and I sat down to watch it with my son, I didn’t know that Garry Marshall and his long-time writing partner Jerry Belson had written the script. Looking back through the movie, it’s easy to see Marshall’s trademark of working with people he enjoys. He gave roles to his younger sister Penny Marshall (and later created Laverne & Shirley for her) and Pat Morita (and later cast him in the role of Arnold in Happy Days).

Anyone familiar with Marshall and Belson’s work (on The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Lucy Show, and the adaption of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple for television to name a few) will recognize the snappy patter and quick play on words. No one did it better than they did.

The movie has a familiar plot, bad guy falls in love with pretty woman who tries to make him turn good, but the unrelenting, quick pace of the humor transcends the rather staid storyline. Evil Roy Slade quite simply takes no prisoners.

Mickey Rooney plays Nelson Stool, the railroad tycoon chasing Evil Roy. Dick Shawn stars as Ding Bell, the singing cowboy marshal Stool sends for. Henry Gibson plays Stool's ne'ver-do-well nephew. Edie Adams stars as the woman scorned by Evil Roy. Milton Berle plays a shoe salesman who tried to help Evil Roy go straight. In a hilarious role, Dom Deluise stars as a psychiatrist. In an uncredited role, Ed Begley has a brief walk-on that's funny. This talented cast all add to the timing and pacing of the movie.

If the rejoinders or the wry observations don’t get you, then the visual gags or Astin’s constant preening and monologues will. The actors and actresses move like clockwork throughout the movie. Even when you get ahead of the plot and see something coming (like Evil Roy getting stuck riding a Shetland pony with his boots dragging the ground), the sight of it being played out is goofball hilarious.

This is one of the most perfect family movies I’ve seen in a long time. There’s no profanity, no nudity, no innuendo. It’s just slapstick comedy at its purest form.

If you haven’t seen Evil Roy Slade, you’re in for a treat. And if you have seen the movie, treat yourself to a return bout with the best comedic Western film ever made.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Rachel Vincent's Second Book Out In April!

I love these covers. When I saw the first one, Stray, it popped off the shelf and I bought it immediately. Now I've seen the second one, Rogue, and I know I'll be picking it up as well.

Vincent is an Oklahoma native, hailing from the same small towns that I came from. Funny how storytellers come from those places, isn't it?

Her series of paranormal adventures center on werecats and focus on a strong-willed and independent heroine. Check her out at:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Like To Draw Spaceships?

I just found out NASA is giving away (they call it funding) $175 million to the winner of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program. The design (fancy word for drawing) is for the privately owned space program that's being launched (okay, I should be ashamed). Shades of Robert A. Heinlein and Ben Bova! That's what those two SF writers spent considerable time writing about.

Back in the 1960s, I was a child of the space race. My friends and I used to design spaceships that would take you to every part of the universe. Got in trouble for drawing them in class too.

But I coulda had 175 million bucks...

In other space news today, the USAF denies reports that the Air Force pursued UFOs over Ft. Worth, Texas.

Hmmmm, it took them two weeks to get around to admitting that. Where is Fox Mulder?

And in still other news: my ten year old Chandler seems to be as pun-loving and twist-loving as his father. I took him, my 18 year old, and my wife to dinner at Santa Fe Steakhouse tonight.

Chandler started in on the bucket of peanuts, then asked his brother why peanuts were like mysteries. (Chandler likes Scooby Doo.)

Shiloh said he didn't know how peanuts were like mysteries.

Chandler said because you have to crack them both.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Perfect for the Armchair Archeologist/Historian!

For three years, real-life survival expert and explorer Josh Bernstein had what I considered to be the coolest job on TV. I’m an avid historian, so probably a lot of people won’t award the same number of cool points to the job or Bernstein that I do, but I’m okay with that. When I was a kid, and even now, I dreamed of doing what Bernstein got to do on The History Channel’s Digging For The Truth.

As a kid, I grew up on the novels of H. Rider Haggard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and reprint pulp magazines of Doc Savage. All of those books, at one time or another, featured lost civilizations or historical conundrums that experts have argued over and wondered about for hundreds and thousands of years. Josh Bernstein got to saddle up horses, camels, motorcycles, and jeeps to ramble around the world in an effort to bring light to several of these puzzles. These explorations weren’t without peril, though. Bernstein risks his life through long, high climbs, flash floods, and the real threat of bandits.

I think part of what really makes Digging For the Truth work for me is Bernstein’s obvious enthusiasm for what he’s doing and what he’s working on. Even before The History Channel discovered him, Bernstein had been involved with survivalist schools and was a double major in anthropology and psychology. He worked his way up from a student at Boulder Outdoor Survival School (BOSS) to CEO.

Throughout all of the episodes, Bernstein remains eager and attentive, a teacher to the television audience as well as a student of the people he meets while researching a subject for the show. He is extremely intelligent, educated, and reachable. I always got the impression that if I ever met him, he’d sit down and talk and be just one of the guys. That’s the same quality that makes Mike Rowe, the host of Dirty Jobs, so appealing.

This first season DVD collection offers 13 adventures. As always, Bernstein sets up the question he wants to answer, ascertain, or illuminate for his audience. He doesn’t always get answers, but the journey is fun and a lot is learned along the way.

“Who Built Egypt’s Pyramids?” and “Nefertiti: The Mummy Returns” first aired on the same night. I wish they’d broken them up on the DVD set because they seem too similar in some ways. In fact, some of the people Bernstein talks to are the same people. It probably made sense to shoot them at the same time, or close to each other, and maybe sitting through them in a single sitting when the show was new was all right, but they do have a degree of sameness that may led uninitiated viewers into believing the shows are all going to be about the same. That’s a disservice to the DVD collection.

In “Who Built Egypt’s Pyramids?”, Bernstein travels to Egypt (and really strikes a chord for all the Indiana Jones fans out there, which I’m sure didn’t sit well with Bernstein) to speculate on the construction of the pyramids. A lot of the footage is breathtaking, and Bernstein gets permission to go to areas in the pyramids that aren’t open to the public and haven’t been seen in years. Seeing the history scrawled on the walls is amazing. He even brings in the extra-terrestrial angle, but that’s not touched on too much. The stone splitting bit was fascinating.

When I was a kid in school, we learned about Queen Nefertiti in history class. Tutankhamen hadn’t been found at that point (which, I suppose, dates me a little), so this famous Queen was the high point of the class. We even made makeup out of egg whites as I recall. But I didn’t know there was as big a mystery to her as there obviously was. Until Bernstein revealed that someone had tried to erase her history in the Egyptian culture, I hadn’t a clue. Then I was hooked on the mystery as he started chasing down clues.

“Pompeii Secrets Revealed” was beautiful and grotesque at the same time. The volcano looked wonderful, as did the caldera and the outlying lands. Bernstein’s historical facts were as interesting as ever, especially when I realized that this was where Pliny the Elder had gotten killed while his son watched. But the plaster casts that were made of the bodies of the people who’d burned to death were macabre. I enjoyed the recreation of what had been happening there the last few days before the volcano finally blew. I was also surprised to learn how the lava stone was used to construct the buildings, and that the underground could be gotten to through an opening inside a small grocery story. These are just some of the things I love about this series.

The episode “Hunt for the Lost Ark” sounds too familiar. But Bernstein’s real-life adventures are anything but. The climb up the side of the mountain to the monastery (where even the animals are only male) was dangerous, and Bernstein didn’t try to hide the fact that he struggled with the climb. I like his honesty. The idea of the bandits scaring them enough to try to get across a flash flood area added more suspense to the tale, even though I knew they had to get out alive. Bernstein traveled more in this episode than in any other.

“The Holy Grail” is another one of those historical objects that so much has been written about. Despite the fact that it was supposed to be the cup (or bowl) that Jesus Christ drank out of at the Last Supper, it was lost. Add to that the fact that it was supposed to be used to catch the blood of Christ as he hung dying on the cross, and you have a hard time believing anyone could misplace it. Even as much as I thought I knew about the Grail, Bernstein wrapped even more stories into the mix.

In “The Iceman Cometh”, Bernstein sets out to solve a 5000 year old mystery. The frozen man discovered in 1991 had been the object of much speculation – especially after it was discovered that he was probably murdered. The exploration of the Iceman’s clothing and weapons is awesome. Bernstein also had some hair-raising adventure along the way with the blizzard and near-crash of the helicopter.

H. Rider Haggard wasn’t the only author who was fascinated with the legendary lost mines of King Solomon. Edgar Rice Burroughs renamed it Opar and used it in a few of his Tarzan novels. “Quest for King Solomon’s Gold” brings up a lot of the history of Ophir (what is now – most experts agree – is Pakistan or India). Still, as Bernstein points out, a number of questions remain.

“The Lost Tribe of Israel” involves a lot of Biblical history and ends up merging with the – relatively – new science of DNA linked to the discovery of possible ancestors. Again, this is a topic fantasy and science fiction writers have played with for years. Bernstein’s search takes some unexpected turns which still has archeologists and historians arguing.

I have to admit, I either didn’t know about Nazca lines or I had forgotten. But once Bernstein started elaborating on the “Secrets of the Nazca Lines”, I was hooked. These people created huge, elaborate drawings of stones (geoglyphs) in the desert that no one at that time could really see. It was at least another 1200 years before the airplane was invented. Bernstein covers all the possible reasons, but his explanation of how the people of that time were able to create those lines was what really sucked me in.

El Dorado is another famous legend that’s been lost in history. In “The Search for El Dorado”, Bernstein looks for the lost city of gold. I didn’t know about the new document that Bernstein worked with, and the last I’d heard, everybody generally assumed El Dorado was somewhere in the United States. The search, and Bernstein’s conjectures, was fascinating as always. I’d really thought this episode would only cover stuff I was already familiar with, but Bernstein always ferrets out more information and legend.

“Giants of Easter Island” was great. I can remember looking at pictures of those giant statues (moai) when I was a kid and wondering what the people who’d made them had sculpted them for. The moai have a look like nothing else I’d seen before this program. Bernstein’s participation in the Birdman practices was awesome. I’d heard of them before, but there were supposed to be closed to outsiders.

“Mystery of the Anasazi” isn’t as interesting, to me, as most of the other episodes. Again, this was a mystery that too many people are familiar with. They’re also familiar with most of the theories about what happened to them. Still, Bernstein does a good job with the presentation and the landscapes were filmed beautifully.

One of the things that I like best about the DVD set is that my son can enjoy the shows as well. History is one of the most ill-treated subjects in the public school system. I never had a really good history teacher until I was in college. Bernstein is bringing history to life for my ten-year-old in ways that excite and thrill him, and leave him with questions and a desire to learn more. In the end, I believe that’s the mark Bernstein and The History Channel wanted to leave with this set, and they achieved it.

Digging For The Truth The Complete Season 1 is a great addition to the armchair archeologist’s collection. It’s also good to have on the shelves for home schools and for parents who want to expose their kids to history that’s not just found on the pages of books that don’t carry that same excitement and enthusiasm Bernstein brings.

If you're interested in getting a copy of your own, go here.

Why I Love Science!

Two articles caught my eye (yep, pun intended) and moved me (yep, another) to investigate further.

The first is about a new bionic contact lens that can be worn and will interface with computers, iPODS, and wireless networks. Virtual reality just got a lot closer.

Not only that, but the eye is the gateway to a lot of knowledge that's going on inside the human body. The biometric reading possibility alone is staggering.

I've talked to people a lot about the way wireless internets and cell phones have already thrust people into living dual-input lives. Rarely do you make a phone call these days when you or the person you're on the phone with isn't on the internet (and yep, they were on the television with the MUTE button employed before that, but television was a passive medium where the internet is interactive).

Can you imagine what it's going to be like to "see" an alternate reality to the real one around you at the same time? The possibilities are staggering. Of course, email spam will cloud your vision, and will it be long before someone figures out a way to rewire your neural network through your new lenses?

And suppose you don't have to get drunk in order for the person you're with to suddenly get better looking? Suppose you can have your new bionic lenses simply "edit" him/her into perfection?

And forget rose-colored glasses. These new contacts could change your view on the world.

This is the way a writer's mind works.

So far, I haven't seen a price tag mentioned on the contacts, but I bet they're not disposable.


Read more here:

Also, scientists think they've solved the problem of powering nanobots around the human body. They're going to base the propulsion system on the same one used by sperm.

Sperm moves at 7 inches per hour, which is the same as a full-grown man swimming 3.7 miles in the same hour -- better than any record now standing. Also, since the nanobots are injectable, they can get anywhere in a hurry to deliver medicines and enzymes.

Read more about it here:

The future is upon us and things are a lot stranger than any of the SF I read as a kid.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Dynamic, Intriguing Covers!

This are book covers that make you pick up books. I ordered them both after I saw them. Now I just hope they're as good (and as fun) as the covers.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

These Are The Books You Should Be Giving To Kids Who Think They Don't Like Books!

The new Granpa & Wiley book comes out in May 2008, but I just found it and had to share. I'm totally stoked. These are books my son and I can read separately, or together. Or both. They're hilarious, filled with funny dialogue, improbable situations, and many drawings and sketches.

If you have a reluctant elementary reader, give one of these books to him or her and see if they don't ask for more.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

(click on pic to enlarge and read page)

The Adventures of Dr. McNinja!

He's got a gorilla for a receptionist. Hangs out with Benjamin Franklin (yeah, that Benjamin Franklin) who invented a formula that keeps bringing him back from the dead. And he performs supernatural surgery -- like removing the ghost that's haunting this guy's ear.

Webcomics are all the rage! Get some.

You can find this one at

Friday, January 18, 2008

Matt Price and Chris Borthick Comics Podcast!

Two of my friends are doing a comics podcast for The Daily Oklahoman. They discuss some of the topselling comics of the week on the weekly show. The above cover is for Booster Gold #6, written by Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz.

This week they also discuss Chuck Dixon's return to Robin with issue #170, Hulk #1, and the second issue in the controversial Spider-Man "Brand New Day" arc.

Here's your link:

It's in MP3 format, so you can listen to it on your computer or download it to your iPOD for on-the-go. Give 'em a listen, and if you're hooked on comics, drop in at:

Looks like the family cat is going overboard!

Too Funny!

I try not to make a habit of forwarding stuff to people, but after I got this group of pictures from a friend today, I just had to share this one. The thing that makes it funny is that usually something like this would only happen to me.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Wimpy Kid #2 Is On Shelves Now!

In his latest book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, Jeff Kinney nearly put me into the hospital. That man is going to have serious medical bills to pay if this keeps up. I almost busted a gut laughing out loud and almost aspirated my Diet Dr Pepper on a few occasions. And, yes, I hold him completely responsible.

If not for Kinney’s dry wit, keen insight into the lives of elementary school boys (especially their rationalization for EVERYTHING), and fantastic line drawing on nearly every page, I wouldn’t have had so many close brushes with death in his latest book. But he put me there time and time again. Even when I thought I had things figured out (because I was once an elementary school boy with a wild imagination without a governor), Jeff would throw a wrinkle at me that I didn’t see coming. He ambushed me with regularity throughout the pages.

But it’s not just me that Jeff has his merciless sights on. He’s taking out EVERYBODY. My wife teaches elementary school and Jeff’s books are all the rage among the students. I have to admit to adding to that bonfire because I talk about his books all the time (and I have to admit that I haven’t quite become the responsible adult either, because I’ll rile my wife’s fourth grade class up and take my leave—taking her out to dinner usually gets me off the hook and my cool points go up with the kids).

Parents have become interested in the books and I’ve told them they need to keep up with what their kids are reading. After all, they’re supposed to be responsible parents. (I, myself, have been known to buy extra copies of Jeff’s books and give out as gifts – some parents have accused me of inciting subversion, but I point out that Jeff’s first book was a New York Times bestseller and that is a far better recommendation than I could ever make. Except the Times doesn’t give away Jeff’s books as gifts that I know of. That’s why they hold me more accountable.)

But when I recommend the books to parents, I issue a stern warning. I call it the PYP warning. I especially give it to pregnant mothers and people with weak bladders who read in public places. PYP is Pee Your Pants. The books are just that funny. You’re reading along, and the next thing you know, WHAM! -- you’re laughing so hard you’re peeing your pants.

The funniest thing about Jeff’s humor, and the life of his main character, Greg Heffley, is that everything in the book COULD BE COMPLETELY TRUE. Speaking from experience, a lot of what’s between those pages has been true. But I’m not going to incriminate myself now when I got away with those things all those years ago. And there should be some kind of time statute on most of them. I still don’t want my mom to know, however.

Greg is THE man when it comes to taking a boring day and turning it upside down. People who underestimate the creativity of a bored child are simply asking for trouble. Nuclear war pales by comparison.

And Greg has an excuse – or a rationalization – for everything he does. Worse than that, half the time I get sucked in and totally buy into his point of view. Because, upon occasion, that point of view has been mine as well (or at least my defense). That’s where Jeff’s magic truly lies: he’s never lost touch with his inner child. And boy, his wife must be mad and his kids must be terrified!

In this second book, I was totally blown away yet again. Greg is a middle kid, which means that his life is made miserable from both ends of the spectrum – from his older brother Rodrick and his younger brother Manny. Rodrick is the sulky teen with a band called Loded Diper. And their music stinks, so they’re appropriately named. Manny is three and gets into all of Greg’s stuff.

I love how Jeff sets something up in the books and continues to play off of it at appropriate times. His sense of pacing is fantastic. The work of “art” Manny creates out of toothpicks and aluminum foil is great, and I’ve seen that done, actually. Greg’s mom tells Greg he should keep it around and he does – until it impales Greg’s semi-best friend Rowley.

Another sequence in the book focuses on Greg’s ringleader abilities. Kids will follow anyone with a semi-great idea. Or at least one that will bring pain or embarrassment to another kid. See, Greg is NOT hero material. At least, not yet. He does show some potential, but it’s really far into the future.

One of those ideas involved making believe one of the other kids didn’t exist. Following Greg’s lead, the rest of the class pretends the kid doesn’t exist so much that Greg gets called into the principal’s office, then gets read the riot act by his parents.

I loved when Greg gets involved in the role-playing game Magic and Monsters and his mom becomes concerned. She decides to show up and play with them. And her rules don’t involve all the violence and bloodshed all the kids are used to enjoying. Worst of all, some of Greg’s friends start liking the way his mom plays!

Another instance is when the parents leave for a weekend trip and put Rodrick in charge. They’re no sooner gone than Rodrick is on the phone calling people over for a party. Madness ensues. A door gets painted with permanent marker. Rodrick gets Greg to help him change out doors so the parents don’t find out. Later, when they’re punished, Rodrick says he’s going to study the effects of decompression of the spine suffered by astronauts during prolonged weightlessness. He does this by sacking out on the couch and sleeping all the time while he’s grounded.

If you want, you can even read the books for free on the internet. Just go to to read them. One of the most interesting things about Jeff’s books is that they’re given away for free and STILL sold enough to make it to the top of the New York Times bestseller list.

You see, Jeff wants everyone to read his books that wants to. However, kids want books they can hold in their hands, share with friends, and put on a shelf. Plus, it’s kind of hard to take your computer and internet along when you’re stuck in the car on a family trip or out with a parent at a doctor’s appointment or a shopping spree.

One of the best features about Jeff’s books after you put them in your kids’ hands is that you don’t have to worry about batteries going dead. They’re kid powered: fueled by imagination and driven by humor. They’re good for the environment. Except for that whole PYP warning.

Jeff’s books are hilarious. I just can’t recommend them enough. Call me subversive if you want.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bookhound Book Reviews Posts Record Day!

Yay for me! I set up the Bookhound Review site a little over a year ago to keep up with all the books I read. Then it started getting traffic. More and more traffic.

Today I got over 100 Visits! It's the little engine that could!

So I thought I'd post it here to celebrate, and to prove to others that -- at least in the blogging world -- if you build it, they will come!

You can visit it here. Do it and run my numbers up! Forward it to a friend!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Birthday Present!

Tomorrow is my wife's birthday. I'm giving her money because it's always the right color and always the right size. Also, she has one of those really cool birthdays right during all the inventory sales, so she always gets more bang for my bucks.

But today I stumbled across picture from last year on my hard drive. Sherry took Chandler to the zoo. I had to stay home and work. I do that a lot. I haven't been to the zoo with him in three years or so. (I'm taking my 18 year old to Dallas next month to the Delbert McClinton concert at Billy Bob's, so I do things with them. I just didn't do this.)

My first resolution was to take Chandler to the zoo this year because it hurt to see what I'd missed out on. He loves animals and I forgot just how much. But I try to provide for my family. They're just growing up before I get everything locked down.

However, I realized that Sherry has probably forgotten all about this picture. Chandler is having one of the best times of his life. You can tell by that grin. So, for her birthday, I'm going to Wal-Mart tonight, use my handy zip drive, and blow this sucker up to an 8 x 10 or an 11 x 14 and find a frame for her.

I think this picture will be a great birthday gift for a mom that stays incredibly busy too. She's gonna look at it and remember how happy her son was that day, and those memories get to be incredibly precious. (After all, I have all the memories of taking Chandler to the comics store and book store last year. And coaching him in baseball and basketball. We all have our provincial domains!)

I'm still gonna give her money, though. Didn't want you to think I was a conniving husband just looking for a way out of gifting cash! :)

This One Had Me At Robot Detective!

It's apparently set in a 1950s kind of future. Check out the flying car through the window.

Gil's All Fright Diner by the same author was great, but his second novel, In the Company of Ogres just didn't work for me.

But I'm gonna roll the dice on this one.

Wizards of the Coast Launches New Discoveries Line!

The new books don't have anything to do with the game worlds Wizards consistly delivers. They're standalone adventures in different genres.

This is the first of many to come.


A riveting supernatural mystery like you've never read before.

The prodigal son leaves the big city to return to his dearly departed parent's house in North Carolina only to find, now that he's home, that something is trying to make damn sure he stays there--even if it means burying him out back.

In a small town with dark secrets, one man struggles to find a way out before the spirit of the town can find a way in.

Marking the debut of our brand-new imprint dedicated to showcasing the best new voices in speculative fiction, Firefly Rain is one of the most chilling, unique ghost stories ever penned. Mystery lovers will devour the clues. Fantasy readers will be sucked in by the magical atmosphere. No one will be able to put it down--until the very last twist comes to light.

Sterling Gates Has A Second Comic Book Out!

I've been meaning to blog about this and forgot. I met with Sterling last week and he brought me a copy. I forgot to get him to sign it, so if he dies between now and the time I see him again it might not be worth anything.

He's also writing a couple of Green Lantern Corps issues coming up really soon.

I'm really proud of Sterling. He went out to LA and made things happen. Nobody deserves it more than he does.

New Web Page!

If any of you have time, please take a look at my new web page design. Let me know what else I need or if something isn't working. Thank you!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Renaming Movies!

Okay, you gotta go here to see these. I got this from Bill Crider's Pop Culture blog. You'll find Bill's link over to the right now.

Movie link:

Saturday, January 12, 2008

THE ROVER Is A Bestseller in Germany!

Here's the cover of my book, The Rover, as it was printed in Germany. It's become a bestseller over there. I didn't know my German was so good!

The funny thing is, a sword didn't really play into the overall story of this one at all.

And here it is as it was initially published in the US.

This is the new picture I'm using on posts. The other one has been getting picked up by other sites, and I'm tired of people telling me I don't smile enough. So here -- I'm smiling.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Retcon: The Last Act of Desperation!

Some of you may be aware of the changes going on in Spider-Man's hectic world. In addition to the 3rd movie not being as good or as straightforward as the first two, he's now had his comics world turned inside out and upside down.

It seems that Aunt May's life was on the line (I can't remember how many times that one's been used) and Peter had to make a deal with the devil. Literally. In return for saving Aunt May's life, the devil wanted the thing most dear to Peter: his marriage. (And if that was so, wouldn't he have let Aunt May die?) The devil tells him and MJ that very seldom does a love so true come about. (And isn't that an indication that things will be all right? Not to mention that Spider-Girl is descended from the two of them and her adventures are continuing?)

Anyway, that change has been made. Peter and MJ never got married. Peter never revealed his secret identity to the world in Civil War. Harry Osborn never died (so is he still the Green Goblin 2? Was he ever the Green Goblin 2?). Other changes continue to be discovered.

Fans everywhere are ticked. They'll put up with lame or boring stories, but don't dare jack with their continuity.

A friend of mine sent me this email regarding his comics-buying experience this week now that the first issue of the new arc has dropped:

I'd avoid any comic stores today. It's the first day of the New Amazing Spider-Man stuff, post Deal with the Devil, and from what I've seen, it's not been pretty in the stores.

When I asked my retailer how Spider-Man was going today, fear welled up in his eyes. He grabbed me by the shoulders and leaned in close to my ear to whisper, "It's not going so well. We don't say his name here anymore."

"Whose name? Spider--"

"Sssssshhh!" He violently cut me off and continued to speak into my ear in hushed tones. "Yes. Keep it down, DC Boy. You don't want the Nerds to hear you. They want Creator's Blood, and any comics creator they come across will appease them and their Dark Gods."

He let go of me, flashing a smile at the line of customers behind me to let them know everything was okay, that I was one of them, a Nerd, and not one of those foul Comic Book Creators that had betrayed their trust.

I bought my comics and ran out of the store, doing my best to avoid eye contact with any of the other Nerds and praying to the Heavens they couldn't smell the thin sheet of fearful sweat that had developed under my shirt. Kinda freaked me out. So, if I were you, I'd stay out of the stores today.

Creepy, huh? Reminds me of the time Marvel Comics tried to give us the Spider-Man clone as the real Spider-Man.

And now that Spider-Man has done a deal with the devil, where's Daniel Webster when you need him? Better yet, where's Matt Murdock?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Now This Is Hardcore Momism!

Found this on news this morning.

"OLDS 1999 Intrigue. Totally uncool parents who obviously don't love teenage son, selling his car. Only driven for three weeks before snoopy mom who needs to get a life found booze under front seat. $3,700/offer. Call meanest mom on the planet."

I have to agree with her, though. She's selling the car, which means that she and her husband probably bought the thing. I made a deal with my kids: when they saved up $2000, I'd give them $2000 to go pay cash for a good used vehicle we agreed on. Out of the four children I've had who've reached driving age (I still have a 10 year old), only one of them has done that.

Parents forget what kind of responsibility they're giving kids when they provide them with a car. Not only can they kill themselves, but they can also kill other people's kids who are in the car with them -- and other people on the road.

This was a tough call, though. I'm glad I never had to make it, but I'm hoping that I would have had the compassion and discipline to do it.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A New Graphic Novel In One Of My Favorite Series!

Teen Titans: Titans East is the latest graphic novel gathered from the pages of the newest incarnation of the young heroes in the DC universe. Led by Robin (Tim Drake, actually the third person to wear the Robin uniform), the team consists of Wonder Girl, Miss Martian, Kid Devil, Ravager, Cyborg, Raven, and Jericho. They formed the new team after the events of Infinite Crisis (which would take a HUGE column to explain).

This volume opens up with an introspective peek into Kid Devil’s life. Since he mysteriously appeared in the pages of the monthly comic series, writer Geoff Johns works his familiar magic in bringing the character to three-dimensional life. I love watching Johns write stories like this, and I knew I was going to be in for a treat when I started in with first-person narrative from Kid Devil.

Johns has got a deft, sure hand with every character he touches. I’ve yet to hear him strike a false note. To be honest, I wasn’t very enamored of the Kid Devil character. He looks kind of neat and is probably fun to draw for the artists, but he just didn’t appear to have much depth. After Johns’s first arc of the Titans East storyline, I can safely report that just isn’t true.

Eddie Bloomberg (Kid Devil) is, literally, a tormented soul. Hero worship was what brought him into the hero biz when he wanted to be the sidekick for Blue Devil. I never much got into Blue Devil either, but he was pretty interesting the way Johns presented him. And, in the end, it was hero worship that boomeranged and trapped Eddie in a situation that could leave him as one of the devil’s own – literally – when he turns twenty in three years. That story detail is left dangling for the time being, but I was good with that.

As the story moved into the next section of the arc, Deathstroke the Terminator attacked the Teen Titans with a group of super-powered kids he’d gathered and called Titans East. Long-time readers of the Teen Titans will remember that Deathstroke has been a main opponent of the Titans since writer Marv Wolfman created him for the reboot of the series he did back in the 1980s.

Johns is very clever about his plotting. He generally is. Sometimes he lays all his cards on the table and lets the readers simply watch him work magic. Other times, he keeps a card hidden or turned over or turned so that it looks one way when it’s really another. That’s what he does in this graphic novel and it makes it a little difficult to talk about much of the plot without giving too much away.

Jericho and Ravager are the son and daughter of Deathstroke. Jericho He tells the Titans that he’s there to reclaim what is his. Of course, a battle to end all battles ensues.

In Deathstroke’s corner there is Batgirl (who we find out later is drugged into listening to Deathstroke), Risk, Sun Girl, Bombshell, Kid Crusader, Match, Inertia, Enigma, and Duela Dent. If you’re not a comic geek, the names aren’t going to mean much and it would take too long to explain. Just let me say that the line-up is impressive and filled with a lot of Teen Titans history.

Johns’s scripts crackle with energy and vitality. The characters, complete with strengths and weaknesses, transcend the page and become real. Wonder Girl is still struggling with the death of Conner, as is Robin, and they’re conflicted about the attraction between the two of them. (If Conner ever resurrects and comes back, that’s going to be a can of worms!)

Tony Daniels’s art matches Geoff Johns’s writing. They are really a good match. Johns provides plenty of room to work and lots of emotion and action to draw. There aren’t any static pages, no filler. It’s all high-action storytelling that keeps readers turning the pages.

I love supergroups because of all the dynamics possible within them. Teen Titans has consistently provided that kind of storytelling, and this current volume delivers again. I had a blast reading the story, even slowing down and re-reading scenes and pages to savor the smart dialogue and the beautifully drawn sequences.

The flip Johns provides at the end of the novel is fantastic. I didn’t see it coming, and I’m used to his kung fu. But his kung fu is mighty. If you like the Teen Titans, you’ll have to pick this one up. Sadly, this is one of the last story arcs Johns will be writing on the book for the foreseeable future. But I continue to enjoy what he’s doing on Justice Society of America and Green Lantern.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I Wrote This One!

It's kind of become common knowledge that I helped create this series and have been a contributor to it. Serpent's Kiss is the latest book I've done concerning the adventures of Annja Creed and the arcane sword that used to be Joan of Arc's.

I'm supposed to be getting some free copies to give away soon, so -- as long as I have copies -- I'll send them to readers willing to write reviews that will post on their own sites,, or any other place that will help the series get exposure.

And now, an excerpt:

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Annja Creed stood in a twelve-foot-deep sacrificial pit beneath a gathering storm. The storm, according to the weather reports, was hours away but promised to be severe. From the look of the skeletons on the floor of the pit and embedded in the walls, hundreds of years had passed since the last sacrifice.

The passage of time hadn't made the discovery any less chilling. Even with her experience as an archeologist—and the recent exposures to sudden death that she thought were incited by the mystic sword she'd inherited—she still had to make the conscious mental shift from personal empathy to scientific detachment.

"Are those human bones?"

Annja glanced up and saw Jason Kim standing near the edge of the pit above her. Jason was a UCLA graduate student who'd won a place on Professor Rai's dig along the southern coast of India.

Jason was barely over five and a half feet tall and slender as a reed. His long black hair blew in the strong wind summoned by the storm gathering somewhere over the Indian Ocean. Thick glasses covered his eyes, which were bloodshot from staying up too late playing PSP games in his tent. He came from a traditional Chinese family that hated the way he'd so easily acquired American ways. He wore a concert T-shirt and jean shorts. A tuft of whiskers barely smudged his pointed chin.

"They're human bones," Annja answered.

"You think they're sacrifice victims?" Jason's immediate interest sounded bloodthirsty, but Annja knew it was only curiosity.

"I do." Annja knelt and scooped one of the skulls from the loose soil at the bottom of the pit. She indicated the uneven cut through the spine at the base of the skull.

"Followers of Shakti favored decapitation."

"Cool. Can I see that?" Jason held his hands out.

Annja only thought for a moment that the skull had once housed a human being. The truth was, in her work, the body left behind was as much a temporary shelter as the homes she unearthed and studied.

Jason's field of study was forensic anthropology. His work primarily included what was left of a body. If anyone at the dig could identify the tool marks on the skeleton, it was Jason.

Annja tossed the skull up to him.

Jason caught the skull in both hands. It didn't bother him that it was so fresh from the grave. His smile went from ear to ear. He rotated the skull in his fingers. "This is the bomb, Annja."

"Glad you like it."

"Think they'll let me keep one?" he asked.

Part of Annja couldn't believe he'd asked the question. The other part of her couldn't believe she hadn't expected it.

"Definitely not," she answered.

"Too bad. Put a small, battery-operated red light inside and this thing would be totally rad. I could even have a friend of mine majoring in dentistry whip up some caps for the incisors. I'd be the first guy to have a genuine vampire skull."

"Except for the genuine part.And you'd have to explain why the skull doesn't turn to dust in sunlight,"Annja said.

"Not all vampires turn to dust. You should know that," he replied.

"Vampires aren't a big part of archaeology." Annja turned her attention back to the other bones. She didn't think she was going to learn a lot from the pit, but there were always surprises.

"I didn't mean from archaeology," Jason persisted.

"I mean from your show."

Annja sighed. No matter where she went, except for highly academic circles, she invariably ended up being known more for her work on Chasing History's Monsters than anything else. The syndicated television show had gone international almost overnight, and was continuing to do well in the ratings.

Scenes from stories she'd done for the show had ended up on magazine covers, on YouTube and other television shows. Her producer, Doug Morrell, never missed an opportunity to promote the show.

"You ever watch the show?" Annja looked up at Jason and couldn't believe she was having the conversation with him.

"Sure. The frat guys go nuts for it. So do the sororities. I mean, DVR means never having to miss a television show again."

Terrific, Annja thought.

"Kind of divided loyalties, though," Jason said. "The sororities watch you." He shrugged. "Well, most of them do. The frat guys like to watch the show for Kristie."

Okay, I really didn't need to hear that, Annja thought.

Kristie Chatham, the other hostess of Chasing History's Monsters, wasn't a rival. At least, Annja didn't see Kristie as such. Kristie wasn't an archaeologist and didn't care about history. Or even about getting the facts straight.

When Kristie put her stories together, they were strictly for shock value. As a result, Kristie's stories tended to center on werewolves, vampires, serial killers and escaped lab experiments.

"You can't go into a frat house without finding her new poster," Jason went on.

"That's good to know," Annja said, then realized that maybe she'd responded a little more coldly than she'd intended.

"Hey." Jason held his hands up in defense and almost dropped his newly acquired skull. He bobbled it and managed to hang on to it. "I didn't mean anything by that."

"No problem," Annja said.

"I don't know why you don't do a poster," Jason said. "You're beautiful."

Maybe if the comment hadn't come from a geeky male in his early twenties who was five years her junior and had a skull under his arm, if she hadn't been covered in dirt from the sacrificial pit and perspiring heavily from the gathering storm's humidity, Annja might have taken solace in that compliment.

Dressed in khaki cargo shorts, hiking boots and a gray pullover, she stood five feet ten inches tall and had a full figure instead of the anorexic look favored by so many modeling agencies. She wore her chestnut-brown hair pulled back under a New York Yankees baseball cap. Her startling amber-green eyes never failed to capture attention.

"I don't do a poster because I don't want to end up on the walls of frat houses," Annja said.

"Or ceilings," Jason said. "A lot of guys put Kristie's posters on the ceiling."

Lightning flashed in the leaden sky and highlighted the dark clouds. Shortly afterward, peals of thunder slammed into the beach.

Jason looked up. "Man, this is gonna suck. I hate getting wet."

"That's part of the job," Annja told him. "The other part is being too hot, too tired, too claustrophobic and a thousand other discomforts I could name."

"I know. But that's only if I stay with fieldwork. I'd rather get a job at a museum. Or in a crime lab working forensics."

Annja was disappointed to hear that. Jason Kim was a good student. He was going to be a good forensic anthropologist. She couldn't understand why anyone would choose to stay indoors in a job that could take them anywhere in the world.

Lightning flashed again. The wind shifted and swept into the pit where Annja stood. The humidity increased and felt like an impossible burden.

"I'm gonna go clean this up," Jason said. "Maybe after we batten down the hatches, you can tell me more about who Shakti was."

Annja nodded and turned her attention back to the burial site. The storm was coming and there was no time to waste.

WITH CAREFUL DELIBERATION, Annja checked the scale representation of the burial pit she'd drawn. So far everything was going easily, but she suspected it was the calm before the storm.

The drawing looked good. She'd also backed up the sketch with several captured digital images using her camera. In the old days, archaeologists only had a pad and paper to record data and findings. She liked working that way. It felt as if it kept her in touch with the roots of her chosen field.

She stared at the body she'd exhumed. From the flared hips, she felt certain that the bones had been a woman. She resolved to have Jason make the final call on that, though.

Lightning flickered and thunder pealed almost immediately after. The storm was drawing closer.


Glancing up, Annja spotted the elfin figure of Professor Lochata Rai, the dig's supervisor. Lochata was only five feet tall and weighed about ninety pounds. She was in her early sixties, but still spry and driven. She wore khakis and looked ready for a trek across the Gobi Desert.

"It is time for you to rise up out of there. The rain is coming," the professor said.

Annja looked past the woman at the scudding clouds that filled the sky. Irritation flared through her at the time she was losing.

"We must cover this excavation pit," Lochata said.

"Perhaps it will not rain too hard and we won't lose anything."

"I know. This really stinks because we just got down far enough to take a good look at what's here,"Annja said.

Lochata squatted at the edge of the pit. She held her pith helmet in her tiny hands over her knees. "You're too impatient.You have your whole life ahead of you, and history isn't going anywhere. This site will be here tomorrow."

"I keep telling myself that. But I also keep telling myself that once I finish this I can move on to something else." Annja stowed her gear in her backpack.

Lochata shook her head. "You expect to find something exciting and different?"

"I hope to." Annja pulled her backpack over her shoulder and climbed the narrow wooden ladder out of the pit. "I always hope to."

"I do not." Lochata offered her hand as Annja neared the top. "Finding something you did not expect means you didn't do your research properly. It also means extra work and possibly having to call someone else in to verify what you have found."

Annja understood that, but she also liked the idea of the new, the undiscovered and the unexpected. Lately, her life had been filled with that. She thought she was growing addicted to it.

Once on the ground outside the pit, Annja stood with her arms out from her sides as if she were going to take flight. The wind blew almost hard enough to move her. Perspiration had soaked her clothing.

"Drink." Lochata held out a water bottle and smiled.

"Hydrate or die."

Annja smiled back and accepted the water. The rule was a basic one for anyone who challenged the elements. She opened the bottle and drank deeply.

The dig site was in the jungle fringe that bordered the Indian Ocean. Kanyakumari lay as far south on the Indian con...

Happy Birthday To The King, Baby!

Today is Elvis's birthday. He would have been 73. Would have been interesting if he was still around.

He's always been a favorite of my mom's, and mine when I was growing up. I loved his movies back then, and I've got a DVD of the '68 Comeback Special he did that I take out and play every now and again.

My kids used to make fun of me for listening to his music, but when they sat down and watched that DVD, they were mesmerized.

Elvis has gotten a bad rap over the years. Everyone expected him to be perfect. I've yet to meet the person who is. He had his hang-ups and self-delusions. Most people do.

But if you've never seen '68 Comeback Special, you should. I enjoy watching someone do something they're so in love with that nothing else matters. And if you watch that performance, you'll realize there was nothing that Elvis loved more than pleasing an audience.

Monday, January 07, 2008

New Animated D&D Movie Coming!

I started playing Dungeons & Dragons when I was in college. I found the game by accident while shopping through a hobby store, became intrigued, and picked it up. Another year and a half passed before I found a couple of guys in college to play it with. Then Larry, Mike, and I would spend Friday nights and Saturdays knocking down doors in lost castles and abandoned dungeons everywhere we found them.

Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman put the fiction side of Dungeon & Dragons’ world of Dragonlance on the bestseller map in 1984 with the publication of Dragons of Autumn Twilight. Legend has it that the novels actually sprang from a game played by the authors.

The DVD Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight is a straight-to-DVD release that is the first of hopefully more adventures to come. Like the novel of the same name, the DVD adventure concerns itself with a group of adventurers who are out to prove that the gods haven’t left the world entirely and do still care about the elves, dwarves, humans, kender, and others that live in it.

Tanis the Half-Elf (voiced by Smallville’s Michael Rosenbaum) is the group’s leader, and he’s on his way back to Solace, the village that he’d called home five years ago. Along the way, he meets up with his old friends Flint Fireforge (Fred Tatasciore) and Tasselhoff Burrfoot (Jason Marsden).

I watched the movie with my ten year old and he immediately caught onto the characters and the long friendship that existed between them. The repartee is clever and simple, and pulled my son and me right into the movie. Just a few minutes into the film, the screen was suddenly alive with sword fighting as a group of goblins tries to beat up our heroes.

I have to admit, this kind of action was welcome. And it was bloodless for the sword slinging that was going on.

Given that the film only has an hour and a half to tell the nearly 400 page book’s story, the pacing is headlong. The characters are all set up in Solace as Raistlin (24’s Keifer Sutherland, who must be some kind of D&D fan to do a direct to DVD film), Caramon (Rino Romano of Fox Network’s The Batman), and Strum Brightblade (Marc Worden) are all introduced in short order. The friendship is apparent, as well as the various tensions that were created in the Dragonlance series: Strum doesn’t trust Raistlin, Caramon is simple-minded and protective of Raistlin, Raistlin is selfish and somewhat power-hungry, Tasselhoff is a kleptomaniac, Flint is a grouch, and Tanis is torn between his two heritages. The story swings swiftly into high gear.

In this world, when the gods left, they also took the power of the clerics away. Those of us who’d played D&D had to wonder where any truly adventurous dungeon-crawler would be without a handy cleric to heal him after he’s stuck his head into the wrong room. Especially if he had his head handed back to him. Having a D&D world without the ability to get healed is, well, dangerous to say the least.

Two strangers are also in town, and it’s a familiar plot twist that has sent many an adventurer scurrying for supplies and the shortest way out of town. Riverwind (Phil Lamarr) and Goldmoon (Lucy Lawless of Xena) are there with the mysterious blue crystal staff of healing that the villains are searching for. While arguing with a local bully, Caramon ends up throwing the man into the fireplace. Tasselhoff inadvertently uses the staff to heal the man.

Realizing that the town is full of enemies and that the staff is important, Tanis marshals the others to get Riverwind and Moongold out of town. Their new objective is to find out if the gods have returned. And the adventure is up and running at a breakneck gallop.

There isn’t any deep meaning or thought behind Dragonlance: Dragons of the Autumn Twilight. Wicked villains pursue our heroes at every corner, and a lot of fighting and magic-wielding ensues. There’s even healing once the power of the blue crystal staff is discovered!

My son and I sat mesmerized throughout the action as the characters explored a world I knew from adventures of my own, while he’s just getting to know them. He’d just asked (and gotten) the basic Dungeons & Dragons set, so he was totally pumped to see it in action. I was surprised to see how much he knew about the gaming system and the world after reading through the Player’s Handbook 3.5 Edition I let him borrow as well. He even knew the monsters from the Monster Handbook.

The animation is still a little cartoony for today’s audience, but I was okay with it. The live-action Dungeons & Dragons movies didn’t fare so well, and this one appears to be geared for the younger crowd. The end product is a mixture of animation and 3D computer generation that looked cool at times and jarring at others. The mix wasn’t always seamless.

However, I could tell the voice actors were having a blast. I could close my eyes and imagine them all gathered around a table rolling the dice against insurmountable odds to see if they survived to fight again or if they required a visit from the cleric. All of them had to have been players at one time or another.

Dragonlance: Dragons of the Autumn Twilight isn’t a film that’s going to leave much of a ripple in the mass of filmgoers that stream into theaters or purchase DVDs, but for those of us who are dyed-in-the-wool D&D fans, the movie hits a sweet spot. It combines the world of D&D and the story of one of the best known novels in those worlds.

I had a lot of fun with the movie. It played the characters from the novels fairly and moved along at a fast clip throughout its entirety. The attention to gameplay rules was solid, and the dialogue was consistently informative and entertaining. The artwork was a little loose and cartoony at times, but the world and the action was well rendered.

I can only hope that new DVDs will be forthcoming, because this one just begins to tell the story. In fact, it even gives watchers something of a cliffhanger by showing Kitiara in the middle of evil doings. If you’re a fantasy lover, this is the kind of movie you can sit down to with your kids, enjoy a big bowl of popcorn, and regale them with all the stories of when you fought dragons and the dice were with you!

I Love This Cover!

I'm supposed to be getting an ARC of this book to review. I've read the Artemis Fowl series, so I knew the book would probably be good. But I found the cover by accident today.

Now I'm really stoked to get it!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Justice Society of America Re-Boot Scores Big-Time!

Geoff Johns is one of the hardest working writers in the DC Comics universe. Especially now that the universe there contains 52 worlds, some of which have yet to be explored. But he’s the guy I’d definitely want taking me on the tour.

Johns has a gift of seeing the iconic heroes, a way of peeling down through decades of stories about them, to strip them to their bare bones. Once he’s hit bedrock, he rebuilds them in exactly the way they were originally created and somehow brings them into our world and our now in ways we haven’t seen before. He can take a hero that’s been around for generations and introduce him or her to today’s readers in a way that makes those readers think the heroes were just created for them now.

I’ve followed his runs on the Flash and Hawkman, and now in the pages of Green Lantern. But the greatest achievement Johns has ever done, in my humble opinion, was bringing the Justice Society of America to pre-eminence to comic book fans everywhere.

I loved his run on the previous volume of the book. I have all the copies in monthly magazine format as well as graphic novels. He’s lately reintroduced the JSA once again in Justice Society of America: The Next Age.

In this latest series, spinning out of the events of the year-long event known as 52, Johns once more brings his considerable talents to the re-envisioning of the JSA. The first graphic novel of the new series contains the first four issues of the new monthly title. We get to see old favorites (the Alan Scott Green Lantern, Jay Garrick Flash, and Wildcat – who has been one of my personal heroes for a long time) as well as get introduced to new heroes/heroines.

Johns revisits the JSA’s history to give us Cyclone, the super-powered granddaughter of Ma Hunkle, the original Red Tornado, a new Wildcat (with surprising twists), and even a new Steel (though we don’t get to see the culmination of that origin story in this graphic novel). All of these heroes fit perfectly with the old favorites Johns has lined up.

I’ve loved the JSA from the first time I saw them crossover from Earth-2 back in the pages of the 1960s Justice League comic book. Not all of those heroes were revamped and reintroduced to the world in what has become known as the Silver Age of comics. Mr. Terrific, Hourman, and Dr. Mid-Nite – as well as others – never found their way to Earth-1 except to visit.

In the early pages of this graphic novel, Batman tells Flash, Green Lantern, and Wildcat that the JLA wants to help the JSA rebuild. As Batman points out, the JLA has always been something of a strike force or weapon, while the JSA has always been about family.

It’s wonderful touches like that simple declaration that keep bringing me back to the JSA and to all of Johns’s work. I’ve never read a comic of his that I didn’t like. Story and character always work well in his scripts, and no one plays more fairly with the history of even the most long-lived heroes.

The plot in this graphic novels focuses on the rebuilding of the JSA with new blood while at the same time learning of the attacks against the families of heroes. The action is fast, violent, and bloody, with a number of deaths within the architecture of the story. Johns doesn’t take any shortcuts, and he makes the violence – so he says – as real as he can because readers want to feel like they’re living in hero worlds.

Johns’s words and Dale Eaglesham’s incredible artwork kept me turning pages, and wanting more when I’d finished. The story switches back and forth among several of the characters, and Johns conveys those different narrators skillfully. But he’s definitely aided and abetted by Eaglesham. The panels are beautiful to look at, and they push the story forward with exquisite pacing. With a book dedicated to introducing new characters to readers, there are a lot of dialogue sequences that could have dragged in the hands of a less skilled artist. Johns trusted Eaglesham enough to make it all work, and he does.

I enjoyed this graphic novel a lot, and I can’t wait for more. I hope that Johns and Eaglesham have a long stay on the title. I can’t wait to see what they do next, because they’ve opened up a ton of possibilities.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Out In Stores Now!

I've got a short story in this one, and I'm going to be returning to Forgotten Realms for at least one book that will be out in 2009. Bring on the elves and dwarves, and lemme get my spellbook ready!