midweek music: “Crazy Train” like you’ve never heard it before

THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER IN THE HISTORY OF HUMANITY!

For the full story of this amazing version of “Crazy Train” by a bunch of kids on xylophones, drums, and other percussion (plus bass and keyboards), click here.

MINE! is funded!

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I’m pleased to see that — with a couple days left in the Kickstarting period — Mine!: A Celebration of Freedom & Liberty for All Benefitting Planned Parenthood has met its funding goal of $50,000! This means that if you pledge, you’re guaranteed to get a comics anthology with work by the likes of Neil Gaiman, Gail Simone, Ann Nocenti, Trina Robbins, Mark Waid, and tons more, including me and Tom Daly doing a story about self-defense (we’re both black belts in the same discipline of karate, so this seems a natural).

So go! Pledge! It’ll be awesome!

I will be at RocCon 2017 this weekend

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I will be one of the guests at RocCon 2017 this weekend at the Kodak Event Center in Rochester, New York. I missed the con last year due to moving, but I’m back this year, with a table where I’ll be selling and signing stuff.

Here’s what I will have at the table for sure:

Aliens: Bug Hunt (with my story “Deep Background”)

Altered States of the Union (with my story “We Seceded Where Others Failed”)

Baker Street Irregulars Volume 1 (with my story “Identity”)

Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars

Icarus Volume 1

Ragnarok and Roll: Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet

SCPD: The Case of the Claw

Star Trek: Tales of the Dominion War (with my story “The Ceremony of Innocence is Drowned”)

The Star Trek novels Q & AKlingon Empire: A Burning House, and A Time for War, a Time for Peace

The Supernatural novels NevermoreBone Key, and Heart of the Dragon

The Young Hercules novels Cheiron’s Warriors and The Ares Alliance

 

Plus I will have a selection of Geek Bears, Geek Cats, and Geek Pillows by WrennsCrafts.

Other guests at the show include actors Burt Ward, Nana Visitor, David Yost, Felix Silla, Jeremy Bulloch, Glenn Morshower, Chalet Brannan, Karan Ashley, and Carey S. Means; fellow author Lois H. Gresh; comic book creators Kurt Lehner, Pat Shand, Karl Slominski, Mark Sparacio, Nigel Carrington, Dan Curto, and Elizabeth Pritchard; and tons more.

Looking forward to seeing folks there!

 

4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Wonder Woman (1974), The New Original Wonder Woman, and Supergirl

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There were two attempts at Wonder Woman in the 1970s, one with Cathy Lee Crosby and one with Lynda Carter, plus in 1984 the Salkinds spun off a Supergirl movie from the Christopher Reeve franchise. The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch takes a look at all three.

An excerpt:

The basic plot of Supergirl is okay, but the details are a mess. Where is Argo City, exactly? How did it survive the destruction of Krypton? How do they know that Kal-El is on Earth, calling himself both Clark Kent and Superman? Why does Kara feel the need to enroll in a school? Even leaving the school aside, what’s the point of the Linda Lee identity? Why does she insist on being nice to Ethan when he’s a creep (even though he’s mostly a creep to her because he’s been magically roofied by Selena)? Why can’t Selena figure out that Linda Lee is Supergirl when she’s using her magic mirror to spy on her constantly, including at least two occasions when she changed from one to the other? How drunk was Peter O’Toole when he was acting in this, anyhow?

link dump: thoughts on today’s anniversary

I’ve written a lot of things about what happened on 11 September 2001, seeing as how I live in New York City and spent that Tuesday glued to my couch watching the events unfold in real time.

On this sixteenth anniversary, when there are far worse things going on thanks to two hurricanes, I have nothing new to say, so I instead provide a link to what I’ve said in the past:

My thoughts on the day and the day after, as it happened.

The one-year anniversary in 2002.

The four-year anniversary in 2005.

The six-year anniversary in 2007.

The nonsense in 2010 about the so-called “mosque at Ground Zero.”

Musings on the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011.

The fifteen-year anniversary in 2016.

The first two are from the Wayback Machine, and point up to the vicissitudes of the Internet, as they were posted to my old SFF.net newsgroup and later archived on my SFF.net web site. SFF.net has gone away, so those are both gone, though I have them saved on my hard drive. The others are from my LiveJournal, which may go away some day, too. Those also are saved on my hard drive, but I’m sticking with links, because I’m not really interested in reprinting all of that on this new blog. Maybe some day, but not today. It’s hard today to read about one of the worst presidents in history’s bungling of a major event sixteen years ago when another one of the worst presidents in history has been bungling everything the last eight months.

But I wanted to put the links here, at least.

Hope folks in the southeast are safe.

 

Len Wein, RIP

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Len Wein has died at the age of 69. He’s been dealing with a myriad of health issues the last few years, and it looks like they caught up to him. Dammit.

Len is one of the giants of the comics industry. He created or co-created so many iconic characters, most notably Swamp Thing and Wolverine, as well as the Human Target, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and so many more. Plus he was a great writer and editor, with his credits on the former including co-created the new X-Men with Dave Cockrum in 1975 and historic runs on so many titles, including scripting most of George Pérez’s historic run on Wonder Woman. Among his many editorial accomplishments — besides being editor-in-chief for both Marvel and Disney (back when they were separate companies) — was being the editor of New Teen Titans and Watchmen.

One of the great pleasures of my own editorial career was getting to buy a Silver Surfer short story from Len, which served as a lovely tribute to Jack Kirby, and which appeared in The Ultimate Silver Surfer.

In person, Len was always happy. I saw him at tons of conventions over the years — including one time when I moderated the infamous fan/pro trivia contest, where Len, along with Mark Waid and Kurt Busiek, represented the pros (there was a fourth, but I’m damned if I can remember who it is now, as this was 20 years ago) — and he was always smiling, and because of that, so was I. He was a good person, a good friend, a great writer and editor, and one of the absolute giants of the comics industry.

He will be sorely missed. Rest in peace, Len.

 

Baker Street Irregulars 2 available for preorder!

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I’m pleased to see that Amazon has Baker Street Irregulars 2: The Game’s Afoot available for preorder! This is the second volume of alternate takes on Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson — basically our remit as authors is to do Holmes and Watson anywhere but Victorian London — and includes stories by Derek Beebe, Nat Gertler, Narrelle M. Harris, Daniel M. Kimmel, Gordon Linzner, Stephanie M. McPherson, Jody Lynn Nye, Chuck Regan, R. Rozakis, Hildy Silverman, Sarah Stegall, Mike Strauss, and, oh yeah, me!

I’m doing a story called “Six Red Dragons” which, like my story “Identity” in Volume 1, features Shirley Holmes and Jack Watson in modern New York City.

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

The next morning, I came downstairs, and Shirley was in the same spot, the tea stuff all there, though the food was all gone. Ever since her aunt got cancer, they’d hired someone to come in and clean the place every other day, but today wasn’t her day on, so I figured I’d clean up after Shirley, since nobody else was gonna do it, and cockroaches would mess up the nice house.

I grabbed the tea service, trying not to spill any crumbs, and commented on her having been here all night.

“I would think, Jack, that even someone of your intelligence would be able to determine that for yourself, given that I am wearing the same clothes, I have eaten all the food and drunk all the tea that was left, and my hair now has the oily consistency it frustratingly acquires when I have not showered in more than thirty-seven hours.”

“Was just making a comment.”

“The pitch of your voice went higher on the word ‘night,’ which is indicative of an interrogative rather than a declaratory statement.”

I honestly didn’t remember if I’d done that or not. “In that case, it was rhetorical. What’d you find out?”

“Quite a bit. The clinic does indeed have security footage, which was appended to the report that Detective Lestrade forwarded to me, the Morse Shop has an Etsy site that shows off its wares, and Dr. Barnicot regularly updates his Facebook page with a near-constant stream of pictures. I have been able to find images of all three figurines.”

She held up the tablet, which had what looked like a screengrab focused on a red dragon figurine, a picture of a windowsill filled with tchotchkes, one of which was a red dragon figurine, and a picture of a red dragon figurine against a white background.

“They all look the same to me.”

Shirley sighed, and I knew I’d said something wrong. “The grooves and lines of the image from the Morse Shop are sharper than those of the one on Dr. Barnicot’s windowsill. The resolution of the security camera is insufficient to compare that level of detail for the one in the clinic. That they are similar enough that your eye cannot determine the difference indicates that these figurines were cast, but not with metal, plaster, or concrete—likely they were resin cast, as those molds tend to degrade over time, particularly ones created by single artisans rather than industrially produced.”

“Which tracks with stuff sold at the Morse Shop.”

“Indeed.” She looked straight at me, which was rare. “If you are free, would you like to accompany me to Columbus Avenue?”

“Wanna get some brunch?”

“I am sated after consuming the remains of the tea service. No, I was referring to the Columbus Avenue crafts fair that occupies the section of that street behind the American Museum of Natural History. Based on the information in the Etsy shop, the creator of these dragon figurines, one Liese Gelder, has a stand there. Your presence would be useful in questioning her.”

I chuckled. If somebody wanted Shirley’s help, she could interrogate better than the Army CID guys I served with in Afghanistan, but when it came to just talking to people, having a doctor-in-training along was a lot more useful.

“Well, I got today off, so sure. I got some lab notes I need to translate into English at some point, but I can do that later.”

“I assume that to mean a figurative translation of poor handwriting and abbreviated text into something coherent rather than an actual translation?”

Some of the doctors who were training me didn’t have English as their first language, as it happened, but I did not want to get into that with Ms. Literal, so I just said, “Yeah.”

We each showered, and I drank some coffee, and then we took an Uber to Columbus and 81st. Shirley has the Uber account because she got tired of being ignored by cabbies when she tried to hail one. As a large black man, I could relate.

 

You can preorder the book at Amazon, and you can also get Volume 1, which includes the first Shirley-and-Jack story “Identity,” from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Indie Bound.

scheduling the rest of the Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

As you may have noticed, each entry of my new feature for Tor.com, “4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch,” has covered anywhere from two to four movies. For its initial run, we’ll be keeping with that, partly to get through stuff faster, partly because there’s less interest in the older films.

Here’s the currently planned schedule, which is tentative and subject to change (EDITED TO ADD: here’s a change already — Christopher Bennett remarked on Facebook that I really should do the TV movie/pilots for The Incredible Hulk and Wonder Woman, so I’m throwing them in as well):

 

Already posted:

Superman and the Mole Men and Batman (1966)

Superman, Superman II, Superman III, and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

Spider-Man (1977) and Doctor Strange (1978)

Captain America (1979) and Captain America II: Death Too Soon

 

Forthcoming (and subject to change):

12 September: Wonder Woman (1974), The New Original Wonder Woman, and Supergirl

19 September: Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing

26 September: Batman (1989) and Batman Returns

3 October: Batman Forever and Batman and Robin

10 October: The Incredible Hulk (1977) and The Return of the Incredible Hulk

17 October: The Incredible Hulk ReturnsThe Trial of the Incredible Hulk, and The Death of the Incredible Hulk

24 October: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

31 October: The Crow, The Crow: City of Angels, The Crow: Salvation, and The Crow: Wicked Prayer (just in time for Hallowe’en!)

7 November: The Punisher (1989), The Punisher (2004), and Punisher: War Zone

14 November: The Rocketeer and The Shadow

21 November: The Phantom and Judge Dredd

28 November: The Mask and Son of the Mask

5 December: Barb WireTank Girl, and Witchblade

12 December: Mystery Men and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

19 December: Steel and Spawn

26 December: Howard the Duck and Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

2 January: Captain America (1990) and Fantastic Four (1994)

9 January: Justice League of America and Generation X

16 January: Blade, Blade II, and Blade Trinity

 

After that, we’ll be getting into the 21st-century superhero movie renaissance, starting with Bryan Singer’s X-Men in 2000 and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man in 2002. At that point, I may go to a single movie per entry — part of that will depend on how things are going with reader response up to that point.

Again, all of this is tentative and subject to change, so take it with a grain of salt. This is just what we’ve got planned. We’ll see if that plan holds up………..

 

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4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Captain America and Captain America II: Death Too Soon

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In 1979, two Captain America TV movies were made starring Reb Brown, who these days is mostly known only as the guy who played the title role in two awful 1979 Captain America TV movies. There’s also Connie Sellecca and Christopher Lee in the second one, but that doesn’t really help any. The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch suffers through Captain America and Captain America II: Death Too Soon.

An excerpt:

As for the movies themselves, they share far more DNA with various action-adventure shows of the era (both before and after they aired) than they do any comic book version of Cap. The hero who goes off and saves the world while working for a fictional agency that is either part of the government or at least vaguely sanctioned by it, with a couple of people (usually one man and one woman, but not always) as his support structure. It’s the same formula as Wonder WomanThe Six-Million Dollar ManThe Bionic WomanKnight RiderAirwolfMacGyver, and others.

Which makes these decent action-adventure shows, I guess, but never at any point does this feel like Captain America. More than any other hero, Cap has always been tied to a particular time and place: World War II. A skinny, sickly kid from the lower east side of New York (NOT BROOKLYN!!!!!) who volunteers for an experiment to improve his physique so he can fight Nazis. Tellingly, every other adaptation of Cap into live action will have this (not just the recent Chris Evans films, which felt the need to move him to Brooklyn for no compellingly good reason, but also the 1990 film with Matt Salinger, all of which we’ll tackle in due course).