Thursday, June 25, 2009

Puzzle Me This, Batman!

Yesterday I sat down and built a puzzle I haven't assembled in about, oh, thirty years or more. My original's been gone for about that long, lost to the ravages of time and moving, but I recently won the same set on eBay. It's a beaut and exactly as I remember it, a Batman jigsaw from the height of 60s Batmania. Colorful and goofy, it was one of my most favorite, right next to my Major Matt Mason puzzle.

As I sat on the floor of my studio room building my puzzle, it all came back to me. My hands moved of their own accord, putting piece with piece, as if the image was somehow ingrained in my fingers and they knew just how to assemble it. Capturing little bits of one's childhood can be a challenge as one gets older but the feeling as I built my puzzle yesterday, at the tender age of 44, was sweet. Maybe a tiny bit bittersweet, but worthwhile overall.

The Little Woman suggested I play a CD while I puzzled my way through my project and for some reason I chose the Monkees' "The Birds, the Bees and the Monkees." Then it struck me: this was an album that my father owned and played often. There was a very good chance that I was duplicating a convergence of sound and sensations from the late 60s/early 70s, of my young self building the exact same puzzle while listening to "PO Box 9847" and "Daydream Believer" in the background. It was a heady thought, full of a certain kind of magic. Fleeting but fulfilling.

Once I had completed my Batman puzzle I sat back and remembered certain things about the image that my young self once pondered. Why was the Penguin missing his trademark top hat? Why was Robin so inept at catching the wily bird? What would happen once Batman connected with his Baterang? Why did it look like the Caped Crusader was wearing socks?

I savored the image and the constructing thereof and then put the puzzle back in its box, piece by piece, dispensing with my childhood manner of impatiently picking up the entire things and "folding" it back in the box and ruining said pieces. No, I'm a bit wiser these days - though still youthful enough to appreciate the simple joy of building a puzzle. Holy Memorabilia!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Batman Dies, Returns

A new article of mine for the Toledo Free Press on the recent Re-Batting of the Dark Knight:


Please keep in mind that these articles are aimed primarily at those who don't normally read comics. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Writing Ain't Nuthin' But a Sandwich - Hold the Grey Poupon

Been a while - how does everybody keep up with these things? - but I realize now that I have a bunch of writing projects in the works and though I can’t give complete details on everything I thought I could at least talk a bit about them – and hopefully convey my enthusiasm for this wonderful time as a writer I’m entering.

Where to start?

June’s ALL-STAR COMICS COMPANION VOL. 4, from editor Roy Thomas, contains an article by me on Humor in the All-Star JSA stories of the 1940s. This is my second article for Roy’s wonderful Companions and I’m honored to be a part of them – especially since Vol. 4 is to be the last.

HAWKMAN COMPANION author Doug Zawisza and I are in the middle of writing a book for the McFarland company that will detail – and I mean detail – an entire form of super hero stories for one particular major comic company. We’re talking issue-by-issue commentary and all, and that should be out sometime in 2010. McFarland books are pricey but they make there way into libraries and schools and are really bringing a wealth of pop culture information in a scholarly way. More on this one in the next few months – fingers crossed.

FLASH COMPANION author Keith Dallas is kicking off a series of tomes for TwoMorrows and has wrangled a fantastic group of writers to tackle each volume – including Yours Truly. When I say the scope of this project is big, I mean BIG. As in, it doesn’t get much bigger when talking about the comics industry. Look for this to begin, hopefully, in 2010 with official announcements coming this summer, I believe. Comic book fans of all ages should find something in this project to interest them.

The really great people at Sequart and I have just started down the road on a book of essays I’ll be editing, centered on a comic-related subject that’s near and dear to my heart. This one…sigh…this one will be a true labor of love for me. A thank you note to something that made me the huge geek I am today. I’ll not only be editing what is shaping up to be an incredible line-up of contributors, if I do say so myself, but I’ll also be writing two of the essays myself. If you haven’t heard of this company before, take a look at what they’ve come out with so far and what they’ve got on the way. Look for more news on my book later in the year, if all goes well.

I have a pitch in currently to one of the Top Six comic companies for a limited series – and I’m on pins and needles over it. I’ve gotten over a hurdle or two already with it and it looks like its doing okay but the Waiting Game has been particularly hard this time around and I have to push the pitch to the edges of my consciousness or I won’t be able to function day-to-day. Wish me luck, folks! This is a story about a group of characters that I’ve loved for years but don’t always get the exposure I think they need and deserve. If this project launches I'll be blogging its progress right there at The Beard.

One of my own creations has made a bit of progress in recent months, as I’ve found a very, very fine penciler, Eric Johns, whose excited about the concept and has already done five full pages from Issue #1 that we’ll be using to “shop” the project around. The pages are being inked as I type and once the lettering and coloring are finished it’s off to the Races with it – again, wish me luck! Here’s a sneak-peek for you!

And as always I continue to provide weekly content for – and I’m here to tell you that I work for and with a solid bunch of professionals who’re passionate about what they do and above all take seriously the fine art of funny books. They are True Believers in every sense of the word – here’s to Ben, Ryan and John – among many others!

Whew! How did I get involved in so much STUFF?!?! All this and a full-time day job and I must be insane…but I love comics and I love talking about them and above all - WRITING about them.