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ACES FOR FREE SPEECH

October 1, 2012 at 3:09 pm
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It’s Banned Books Week, and there’s nothing I hate more than banning books (no, not even the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys), so I’m doing my little bit with a fundraiser for the COMIC BOOK LEGAL DEFENSE FUND.

The CBLDF is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the rights of free speech and free expression in comics books, graphic novels, and related fields. My own roots as a “funny book” fan go all the way back to the letters of comment I published in FANTASTIC FOUR, AVENGERS, and other Marvel comics back in the early 60s. I also attended the very first comicon, and won my first writing prize for an amateur prose superhero yarn (an Alley Award, which I never received, sob), so comics are a medium dear to my heart… as anyone who has ever read my own long-running WILD CARDS series of mosaic novels surely knows.

Accordingly, I’ve donated one hundred (100) signed hardcover copies of the Wild Cards mosaic novel INSIDE STRAIGHT to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, to be offered to the first hundred donors making contributors of $100 or more.

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The copies have all been signed by yours truly… as well as by my assistant editor, Melinda M. Snodgrass, and writers Daniel Abraham, Carrie Vaughn, Michael Cassutt, John Jos. Miller, and Caroline Spector. Which is to say, by ALL the contributors save for the elusive S.L. Farrell. This “Seven Signature Special” will continue only so long as the supplies last.

All contributions to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund are tax deductible.

For more than 25 years, the CBLDF has been protecting the comics medium in courtrooms, libraries, and classrooms all over the United States by providing legal counsel and education on issues relating to comics censorship. A proud sponsor of Banned Book Week, the CBLDF is supporting several events around the country supporting the Freedom to Read, and offers a rich range of resources about banned comics and how to defend against challenges on www.cbldf.org.

Most recently, the CBLDF has called for a school district in Connecticut to rescind a graphic novel ban carried out against the district’s own policies. In the past year the Fund prevailed in a case defending an American comic book reader who faced wrongful criminal charges in Canada because of Japanese comic book images on his laptop computer. An amicus brief they authored was also cited by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down an unconstitutional California law seeking to regulate violent content in the case Brown v. EMA.

“The CBLDF is a small organization with a powerful mission, and that work is only possible because of the generous contribution of our supporters,” CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein says. “We’re extremely grateful to Mr. Martin for this generous contribution, and to everyone who will have the opportunity to own one of these unique signed novels. The CBLDF is a tremendous team effort between the creative and readership communities who value the importance of intellectual freedom for comics and all media. We’re thankful to be celebrating Banned Books Week with George in this extraordinary way.”

To make your contribution, and order your copy of INSIDE STRAIGHT, go to:

http://cbldf.myshopify.com/products/inside-straight

All monies should go direct to the CBLDF, not to me.

Sorry, I cannot add a personal inscription to your book. The copies have already been signed by all concerned (save for Mr. Farrell), and are on their way to the CBLDF.

Free speech is one of the cornerstones of our democracy, yet somehow it is always under attack. The world is full of people who think they know better, and want to tell you what you should read, what you should write, what you should see. Christian fundamentalists, Muslim extremists, the right, the left… everybody seems to have a book or two they want banned, an idea or two they don’t want expressed. Well, I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with them.

Donate some money, get a tax deduction, visit the world of the Wild Cards, and add a swell signed collectible to your collection… that’s a win, win, win, win if I ever heard one.

And thanks.

Nasmith to Illustrate GAME OF THRONES

August 13, 2011 at 6:28 pm
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You’ve been asking for it. And now we’re doing it.

I’m delighted to be able to announce the forthcoming publication of a new, deluxe, limited edition of A GAME OF THRONES, to be published by my friends at Subterranean Press, and illustrated by the massively talented TED NASMITH.

Ted is widely considered to be one of the “Big Three” of Tolkien illustrators; along with Alan Lee and John Howe, he has brought Middle Earth to life like no one else. And he he is no stranger to my own world, either. Ted painted the all of the wonderful landscapes for the gorgeous 2011 Ice & Fire calendar, with what I consider to be THE definitive depictions of thirteen of the great castles of Westeros.

It will be a thrill to work with Ted once again. You can see a lot more of his work on his own website at http://www.tednasmith.com/

I have always loved illustrated books. No doubt that’s an artifact of my childhood, and early exposure to the work of Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth in books like MEN OF IRON, ROBIN HOOD, and TREASURE ISLAND. Almost since the day I started writing, I’ve wanted to see my own novels done in the same manner. Pyle and Wyeth are long gone, alas (though their work remains, and if there is anyone out there reading this who loves it as much as I do, be sure and visit the Brandywine Gallery should your travels ever take you to Philadelphia), but their heritage lives on in the work of today’s top illustrators. Nasmith is one.

This will be the second illustrated edition of A GAME OF THRONES (actually, the second ENGLISH LANGUAGE edition… my Finnish publishers also issued a nice illustrated edition in honor of my visit to Finncon, and the Chinese and Japanese editions have also included some nice interior artwork). Long-time fans and collectors will recall that my dream of having the series published in a series of beautiful illustrated books was initially brought to fruition by Meisha Merlin, a small press out of Atlanta, who released numbered limited editions of both A GAME OF THRONES (illustrated by the late Jeff Jones) and A CLASH OF KINGS (illustrated by John Howe). Lovely books, both… though not without certain flaws, admittedly, but…

Meisher Merlin GAME OF THRONES

Meisha Merlin CLASH OF KINGS

The original plan was for Meisha Merlin to do the whole series, of course. Unfortunately, the press ran into certain financial difficulties, as small presses often do, and ultimately went bust. Fortunately, I was able to get off the ship before it sank, and move the limited edition series over to Subterranean Press. Subterranean picked up where Meisha Merlin had left off, and issued signed, numbered, limited, slipcased editions of A STORM OF SWORDS (illustrated by Charles Vess) and A FEAST FOR CROWS (illustrated by Tom Canty). The Subterranean edition of A DANCE WITH DRAGONS (illustrated by Marc Fishman)is in the works even as I write.

Which is not to say the changeover was without problems. The Meisha Merlin books are gorgeous, and so are the SubPress books… but they are also different. Subterranean has its own views on book design, its own ideas about graphics, its own way of doing things, and its own likes, dislikes, and preferences. When Subterranean took over, they changed the size of the book, dropped some of the features of the Meisha Merlin limiteds (the gilded pages, for example), even split the books into two volumes (in a single slipcase). All of which led to a certain amount of unhappy collectors. While I think everyone appreciated the quality of the books, and the love that had gone into them, the Meisha Merlin and Subterranean editions could not really be considered a SET, except in the broadest terms. The books did not match. Lined up side by side on the bookshelf, they did not look as if they belonged together.

Meisha Merlin STORM OF SWORDS
((never published))

Subterranean STORM OF SWORDS

Small wonder then that, almost from the day that the Subterranean STORM OF SWORDS was first published, both Bill Schafer and I began to receive letters from collectors asking that SubPress do its own editions of A GAME OF THRONES and A CLASH OF KINGS, in a format similar to their later limiteds, to make a true set. There has been a steady stream of such letters and emails over the intervening years… enough so that Bill finally decided that they had a point and, with my blessing, went to Bantam Spectra and secured the license.

As with the other Subterranean editions (and the Meisha Merlin editions before them), the Nasmith GAME OF THRONES will be signed and numbered and slipcased, limited to 52 lettered copies (A through ZZ) and 448 numbered copies (1 through 448). First right of purchase will go to those customers buying the SubPress limited of A DANCE WITH DRAGONS. The series is fully subscribed at the moment, I fear… but there are always drop outs, so I expect some copies will become available to new buyers (though probably not many).

The value of those Meisha Merlin editions has reached astronomical heights on the collector’s market in the last year or two, and I know there will be some concern about how these new SubPress editions will impact that value. There is really no certain way to predict that, of course; the rare book market can be volatile. But I did speak to several collectors and rare book dealers before signing off on these new editions, and the general opinion was that any impact would be minimal. The SubPress edition is in no sense a reprint of the Meisha Merlin, after all. Only the text will be the same (and the text is the same in all the trade hardcover and paperback editions as well). The size, format, type font, book design, paper stock, and everything else about the Subterranean edition will be different. And of course Ted Nasmith’s art will all be completely new, and original to the book. The Meisha Merlin books will be just as rare as they are now, and I suspect their value will continue to appreciate… (at least as long as the HBO series stays on the air, but that’s a different discussion). But hundreds of new fans will now have the chance to add a gorgeous limited edition of A GAME OF THRONES to their shelves, and perhaps some of the many “busted sets” out there will be completed.

I think it’s a win/ win. And I know that Ted Nasmith is going to give us some stunning artwork. So thanks to all of you out there who have been pushing for this through the years, and sending us all those emails.