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Me and Ant-Man

July 21, 2015 at 1:06 pm
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Speaking of movies…

… I saw ANT-MAN last night at the Violet Crown down the street from the Cocteau, and loved it.

(It’s not playing at the JCC, though I wish it was. Alas, we have only the one screen).

Now, I have to confess, as an old — VERY old — Marvel fanboy (I was once a member of the Merry Marvel Marching Society), I was a little disappointed going in when I heard that this would be the Scott Lang Ant-Man and not the original Hank Pym Ant-Man of my youth. Scott Lang came in just about the time when my regular comics reading was falling off, so I did not know the character very well, whereas I knew and loved Hank and Janet, Ant-Man and his winsome Wasp. I was there at the dawn of time when they first started adventuring through the pages of TALES TO ASTONISH, after all. They were never as popular as the other heroes that Stan Lee created back then — Iron Man, Spider-Man, Thor, and such — but Lee always seemed to have a soft spot for Ant-Man, and I did too. Ant-Man was the ultimate underdog, after all, the little guy in a very literal sense who somehow held his own with gods and monsters whose powers dwarfed his own. The ants were cool too, and gave him a definite edge in my mind over his rival itty-bitty hero over at DC, the Atom.

And I loved his partnership with the Wasp. At a time when every other comic was playing the endless “romantic tension” card, or the older and hoarier “I must hide my secret from my girlfriend” trope, here was a man and a woman who adventured together, who loved each other without question, who even helped found the Avengers together… that was revolutionary in the early 1960s, like much of what Stan Lee did… (and sad to say, it would even be sort of revolutionary today).

The original Ant-Man had a short run compared to the other first generation Marvel heroes like Thor and Iron Man. In an effort to make the character more popular, Lee and his successors began to fiddle with the concept, giving Hank Pym the power to grow as well as shrink. Ant-Man became Giant-Man became Goliath (same powers, different costumes) became Yellowjacket became “Hank Pym, Scientific Adventurer” (I did you not). Truth be told, I never liked any of those revamps half as well as I liked the original Ant-Man, and when the writers (not Lee, new people had come on board by then) decided to make Hank mentally unstable and then turned him into a wife-beater… well, I really hated that. (I did, however, like some of what happened subsequently, when the Wasp came into her own and became the leader of the Avengers). After that was the Scott Lang era, I guess… and then a couple more Ant-Men after him… none of which I followed, or gave a damn about.

Given all this history, I had a lot of trepidation when this movie was announced. Would they do it right, would they capture the original Ant-Man from TALES TO ASTONISH and AVENGERS #1, the character I’d loved… or would they fuck it up?? I was eager for the film, but apprehensive about it as well, especially when I heard it would be about Scott Lang, not Hank Pym.

I am relieved and delighted to report that they did it right.

Scott Lang is the featured Ant-Man, yes, and Paul Rudd makes him a sympathetic and engaging protagonist, but due honor is done to Hank and his own career as the first Ant-Man as well, with Michael Douglas turning in a fine performance as Pym. There’s a lot of humor in this film, but it is not a farce, as I feared it might be. There’s a lot of action too, but not so much that it overwhelms the plot and characters, which was my problem with the last AVENGERS film… and the one before it, to think of it. A superhero movie needs a fair share of smashing and bashing and stuff blowing up, of course, but IMNSHO that stuff works best when it is happening to people we actually know and care about, and if you jam in too many characters and don’t take time to develop any of them properly, well…

ANT-MAN has a proper balance of story, character, humor, and action, I think. A couple reviewers are calling it the best Marvel movie ever. I won’t go that far, but it’s right up there, maybe second only to the second Sam Raimi/ Tobey McGuire Spider-Man film, the one with Doc Ock. I’ve liked most of the Marvel movies, to be sure, I’m still a Marvel fanboy at heart (Excelsior!), but I liked this one more than the first AVENGERS and a lot more than the second, more than either THOR, more than the second and third IRON MAN and maybe just a smidge more than the first (though I liked that one a lot too).

Oh, and I loved the ants!

Quibbles? Yeah, a few. Where was the Wasp? We got a few glimpses, and a set up for the next film. But I wanted more Wasp, and I loved the old original Hank/ Janet dynamic (before they got to the wife-beating stuff). Also, while Yellowjacket makes a decent villain here (in the comics, of course, he was actually one of Hank’s later identities, after Giant-Man and Goliath), I am tired of this Marvel movie trope where the bad guy has the same powers as the hero. The Hulk fought the Abomination, who is just a bad Hulk. Spider-Man fights Venom, who is just a bad Spider-Man. Iron Man fights Ironmonger, a bad Iron Man. Yawn. I want more films where the hero and the villain have wildly different powers. That makes the action much more interesting).

But those are quibbles, as I said.

Overall, I had a swell time. For a few hours I was thirteen years old again.

And did I mention that I loved the ants?

Looking for Some Colorists

April 17, 2015 at 1:16 pm
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I am looking for the colorists who worked on the HEDGE KNIGHT and SWORN SWORD graphic novels.

My understanding is that “Team Kandora” from “Transparency Digital” did the colors for the HEDGE KNIGHT, for the Dabel Brothers/ DB Pro, and that Rob Ruffolo did the colors for the SWORN SWORD, again for the Dabels.

Googling the names turns up references to all of the above, but no contact info.

So if any of you out there know Rob Ruffolo or anyone from Team Kandora, tell them to get in touch with me privately via email, or LJ messaging.

Thanks.

Amazon Stocking Stuffers

December 19, 2014 at 8:00 pm
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Amazon is running a special "Stocking Stuffer" sale on selected items for the month of December.  10% off.

The selected specials include the HEDGE KNIGHT and SWORN SWORD graphic novels from Jet City Comics.

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Go here for details.

And happy shopping to all.

Windhaven Comes to Comics

November 4, 2014 at 9:14 am
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Maris of Lesser Amberly, hero of the popular (Hugo-nominated) series of Windhaven novellas that I wrote with my friend Lisa Tuttle back in the late 70s and early 80s, will soon be taking wing again.  I am delighted to announce that we've closed a deal with Random House to adapt WINDHAVEN as a graphic novel.

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Lisa Tuttle herself will be scripting the book, based on our original stories.

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Lisa has already delivered the script… and we're excited to reveal that we've just signed the amazing French artist ELSA CHARRETIER to illustrate the graphic novel.  Check out her website at http://elsacharretier.blogspot.com/  for links to her work.  She's fantastic, and we cannot wait to see how she brings the world of Windhaven and its fliers to life.

Comicon Is Coming

July 21, 2014 at 10:43 am
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It seems like I just got back from France and Switzerland… maybe because I just did… and now San Diego Comicon is on top of us.

I'll be there for the whole weekend, doing promotion for HBO, Bantam Spectra, and my various other publishers.  Flying in Wednesday, departing on the following Monday, so if you're going to comicon, you should have plenty of chances to see me, hear me, and get me to scrawl illegibly on your book, graphic novel, Blu-Rays, or body parts.

My schedule:

Wednesday evening, 6pm to 7pm, I will be doing a signing at the AVATAR PRESS booth, autographing copies of the SKIN TRADE graphic novel and IN THE HOUSE OF THE WORM comic.  (Only those, please.  There will be other places and times to get my other stuff signined).

Thursday, 2:30 to 3:30, I will be appearing in the main autograph area (the Sails) at Table 3, with DONATO GIANCOLA.  The two of us will be signing copies of the 2015 Ice & Fire calendar, which will be making its debut at the convention.

Thursday, 4:00 to 5:00 pm, you can catch me in the Indigo Room, where I'll be joining William Christensen of Avatar to talk about THE SKIN TRADE and IN THE HOUSE OF THE WORM.  (No signing here, this is just a talk).

Friday, we have the GAME OF THRONES panel in Hall H.  I'll be there, with showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss and various members of our cast.  This year CRAIG FERGUSON will be moderating.  Hall H seats 7,000 people… but of course 150,000 people attend comicon, so if you want to see the panel, best get in line… ah… now.  Afterward I will join the cast for interviews and a poster signing and more interviews.

Saturday, 11:00 am to 12 noon, I return to the Sails for a Random House autograph session.  This time I will be at Table 7.  This is the time and place to get your books signed.  Copies will be on sale in the autograph area, if you don't want to drag your old ones to San Diego.

Saturday, 4:15 pm to 5:15 pm, I'll be in Room 6A for a panel on epic fantasy, part of an all-star lineup of panelists with Patrick Rothfuss, Joe Abercrombie, and others.

Sunday, 12:30 to 1:30, back to the floor for another signing.  This time I will be signing copies of the HEDGE KNIGHT and SWORN SWORD graphic novels at the ComiXology booth, on behalf of Jet City Comics.

Sunday, 2:00pm to 4:00pm, I will be judging a costume contest sponsored by Courtyard Marriott.

Monday I go home.

Given the sheer numbers of people in San Diego for comicon, I regret to say that I will sign autographs ONLY at the designated signings.  There are, you will note, five of them, which means I'll be scrawling my name for five hours at various points through the weekend.  That's about all I can manage.  So if you should happen to see me walking the floor, riding a pedicab through the GasLamp, having a drink or eating my dinner, feel free to smile or wave or say hi, but PLEASE do not ask me to sign anything.  I can only do so much, and I do need some time just to enjoy the con and chill with friends.

Thanks.

See you in San Diego.

The 6th Gun Returns to Santa Fe

May 10, 2014 at 2:29 pm
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[THE SIXTH GUN is a exceedingly popular Fantasy Western series that's been burning up the comic shops the past few years.   Zombies and gunslingers, hard to beat that.  Given the popularity of the comic, no one was surprised when  NBC picked up the television rights to the series and filmed a one-hour pilot, shooting most of it on one of the many "old west town" sets that surround Santa Fe.  But everyone was surprised when NBC passed on the pilot rather than go to series.

Turns out that was good news for GAME OF THRONES, since we promptly made off with two of SIXTH GUN's stars, Pedro Pascal (who became Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper of Dorne) and Michiel Huisman (our new Daario Naharis).  It was less good for all the other folks on SIXTH GUN, whose work would never be seen.

But now it will… on Friday, May 23 the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe will be showing the pilot of THE SIXTH GUN… the first and, quite likely, last time the pilot will be shown, and beyond a doubt the ONLY time you will ever get to see it on a big (okay, medium sized) screen.  It's an event that comic fans. fantasy fans. western fans, and zombie fans will not want to miss.

For those who don't know the comic, here's a taste:

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(FYI, it should be noted that the pilot is live action, not animated, the above shots all come from the comic).

 We are planning a whole day of activities around THE SIXTH GUN.  We will have two showings of the pilot, one at 4:00 pm and one at 8:30 pm.  In between we will have gunfights, zombie shambles, zombie dance hall girls.  Some local members of the cast and crew should turn up (the first time they've had a chance to see the fruit of their labors).  Our bar will be serving a special cocktail, the Sinclair Shooter.

And we will have three very special guests:  writer CULLEN BUNN and artist BRIAN HURTT, the guys behind the SIXTH GUN comic, will be flying into Santa Fe to join us, together with RYAN CONDAL, scriptwriter and executive producer for the television pilot.  Cullen and Brian will be autographing copies of the comic and graphic novels, and joining Ryan for a panel discussion and Q&A about the comic, the TV show, and the future of the series.

The best part?  All of this is FREE.  No charge for admission to either of the screenings, the panel, any of it.

And if you get to the Cocteau by noon, we may even make a zombie of you.  The more zombie gunslingers and zombie dance hall girls we have on hand, the more fun it will be.  It takes a lot of zombies to make a proper horde…

See you at the shootout.  May 23.  Remember that date.

Hugo Nominations!

April 19, 2014 at 4:30 pm
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The Hugo nominations for 2014 have just been announced as Eastercon in the UK, and other conventions around the world.  You can find the full list here:

http://loncon3.org/2014hugos.php

GAME OF THRONES has been nominated in Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form this year, for "The Rains of Castamere," the infamous Red Wedding episode, scripted by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and directed by David Nutter.  Congratulations, all.  The nomination is just the latest confirmation that David, Dan, T'Other David, Richard Madden, Oona Chaplin, Michelle Fairley, and the rest of our cast and crew did an amazing job on this one, creating a moment that will live in the annals of television for a long, long time.  No novelist has ever been more fortunate in the people who came forward to translate his work from the page to the screen.

I would love nothing better than to have David, Dan, David, Bryan, and a whole contingent of our cast drop by this year's Hugo Awards.  London is not that far from Belfast, after all.  Whether that will happen or not, I cannot say, but I'll do my best.  It would be great to have them all at worldcon.

(Mind you, however, I think the odds of GAME OF THRONES actually winning this year are remote.  "The Rains of Castamere" is up against an episode of ORPHAN BLACK, and four (4!!!) episodes of DOCTOR WHO, which has dominated Short Form since the category was created.  Last year, in San Antonio, "Blackwater" broke DOCTOR WHO's long streak of victories, but I suspect that only served to rouse the Whovians, and this year the con is on their home ground in the UK, where they are legion.  So GOT is a long shot at best, but hey… it IS an honor just to be nominated).

Speaking of which… I am REALLY jazzed to be able to reveal, at last, that Jet City's MEATHOUSE MAN has also been nominated, in the Graphic Novel category.   MM the graphic novel is the work of the amazing and talented Raya Golden, my sometime assistant and all-around minion, and long-time friend and quasi-goddaughter, based on a novelette that I originally wrote for Harlan Ellison's THE LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS back in the dawn of time (well, mid-70s) and eventually published in Damon Knight's anthology ORBIT 18.  Written at one of the lowest points of my life, the novelette "Meathouse Man" is probably the darkest and most twisted thing I've ever written, a story so personally painful to me that I can hardly stand to re-read it even now… that Raya chose this tale, out of all my stories, to adapt and illustrate as a graphic novel, producing a work capable of earning a Hugo nomination… well, that's just bloody incredible, and a real testament to her dedication, her talent, and her madness.  Bravo!

And that's my Hugo news.

As for the rest of the ballot… well, the good news is, more people nominated this year than ever before.

And the bad news… well, you guys are smart, you can figure that out for yourself.  And if you can't, there a hundred blogs that will tell you.  I expect it will only be a matter of hours before someone starts talking about "Hugofail."  Prepare for the internet to go to war again.

I will leave that to others.  I am just thrilled for David and Dan and David, for HBO, and most of all for Raya.  (FWIW, a couple years back, James S.A. Corey was nominated for Best Novel [should have been nominated again this year, actually], and James S.A. Corey is half Ty Franck, who was my assistant at the time.  And now Raya is nominated.  I think I may be the first writer to have two assistants to be nominated for the Hug.  Cool).

Dunk & Egg Conquer Kindle

February 12, 2014 at 1:42 pm
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THE SWORN SWORD is back.

The graphic novel, that is.  Scripted by Ben Avery, illustrated by Mike S. Miller, it has been out of print for years in its original editions from Marvel and DBPro, and fetching ever higher prices on ebay, but now at last there is a brand new edition for those who want to read Dunk & Egg's second adventure without paying collector's prices for it.  Jet City Comics released their own edition of THE HEDGE KNIGHT II: THE SWORN SWORD on January 22, in both digital and print formats.   You'll find the paper editions on sale at your favorite local bookstore or comics shop.  The electronic version is available for Kindle from Amazon at

http://www.amazon.com/Sworn-Sword-Graphic-Novel-Thrones/dp/1477849297/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392582991&sr=1-1

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So far, the response has been great.  Both the physical and digital editions debuted on Amazon as #1 in Comics & Graphic Novels: Fantasy, ahead of many great works.  And the physical edition rose to the Top 600 in Books.

The graphic novel of THE HEDGE KNIGHT also saw a boost, rising to #2 in Comics & Graphic Novels: Fantasy.

And Jet City published a new interview with Mike S. Miller about his experience working on both projects.

 Meanwhile, over at Random House, Ben Avery and Mike S. Miller are reportedly hard at work on a graphic novel adaptation of the third Dunk & Egg novella, "The Mystery Knight."  More on that one down the line.

SKIN TRADE Launch at Comicon

July 17, 2013 at 12:39 am
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A couple of last minute additions to my schedule for San Diego Comicon.

Avatar Press will be bringing out the first issue of their SKIN TRADE comic at the con, based on my werewolf novella "The Skin Trade," which won the World Fantasy Award back, oh… before some of you were born.

Daniel Abraham did the adaptation and wrote the script. Mike Wolfer did the art (and what a perfect name for this particular story). An asthmatic lycanthrope, a sexy female PI, a gloomy gothic rustbelt city…

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Daniel, Mike, and I will be signing copies of SKING TRADE #1 at the Avatar booth (2701) on Saturday afternoon, 12:30 to 1:30.  This will be a TICKETED signing, limited to 125 people.  Fans can stop by the Avatar booth any time to ask about tickets.  So get there EARLY.

Then, on Sunday, Mike Wolfer, William Christensen, and I will be doing a SKIN TRADE panel in the convention center.  That's 12:00 noon, in room 25ABC.  (Daniel won't be able to join us, he'll be off elsewhere being half of James S.A. Corey).

For those of you who can't be at San Diego, SKIN TRADE #1 will go on sale at your local comic shop tomorrow… well, I see it's past midnight, so make that today.  Wednesday, July 17.

SKIN TRADE #2 will follow next month.

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But speaking of San Diego, I had better go pack.  See you all at Comicon!

Dany and the Dragons

July 8, 2013 at 3:38 pm
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What's that, you ask? Dany and the Dragons? A forgotten rock group of the doo-wop era?

NO! It's a special variant cover for issue #15 of the GAME OF THRONES comic, available only (or so we are told) at the San Diego Comicon, as a comicon exclusive.

This special alternate cover was requested and commissioned by our friends at Mile High Comics, in cooperation with Dynamite Comics. It is my understanding that it will be available only at the Mile High booth. (Though of course the same issue, with the regular cover, will be available from numerous dealers at the con).

The artist is Fritz Casa.

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((Before you all start posting messages and sending emails… yes, we're well aware that the scene depicted does not actually occur in this issue. In fact, Dany's dragons have not even hatched yet in the comics, that's a good ten issues in the future. And even when they do hatch, the dragons won't be that big until, oh, STORM OF SWORDS or so. [A couple of other things here are also bigger than I'd envisioned]. No need to point all this out. My editors and I pointed it all out already to Dynamite and Mile High, but this is the cover they wanted. Artistic License, and all. The Mike S. Miller cover, with a completely different scene, will also continue to be available.))

I am told that Dynamite printed 1500 copies of these for Mile High… but with 150,000 fans at comicon, there's no telling how long they will last. So if you want to snag one, I'd advise you to hit the Mile High booth early.

(Yes, that's Froggy. No, there's no casting clue in this post. I just missed the lil' guy. Hiya, kids, hiya, hiya.