I got it in the mail finally, the new Necro book I'm going to proof, CUT by Rob Bliss. And this thing is MASSIVE. 654 pages. This could take a while, but I'm going in:
News & Events for C. Dennis Moore
This is the second week in a row I've not been able to find everything Comixology SAYS is coming out. Last week I didn't find either Nightcrawler #1 or Flash Gordon #1 and this week was Adventure Time #27 for my daughter. My son got 4, though, and I found 7 (my daughter DID get the new MAD Magazine however):
I'm taking a break from the Borderlands collection because I've got a manuscript coming in the mail to proof for Necro Publications, so while I wait for that to show I'm catching up on some Animal Man and Swamp Thing books and reading:
There were a ton of new comics this week, but for whatever reason Hastings didn't have some of the ones I was looking forward to. It's possible--and hopefully is the case--that they just didn't have them all out yet. So with any luck I'll have a few more to post in the next day or two. For now, my daughter got 1, my son got 2. I got 8. The 8th issue of Clive Barker's Next Testament finally came out, so I didn't miss it, and that's great. I got the first issue of Ultimates, just to see if it's anything I'd like. I went ahead and got Ghost Rider #2; I'll give the book a chance even though I despise the art. Superman/Wonder Woman #7 as it continues the DOOMED storyline that started in last week's Action Comics, which I got for my oldest son. We'll see how many of these new titles make the regular cut, and, again, hopefully they have the rest of the new comics up very very soon (especially Nightcrawler #1, I'm dying to read that one). So here's this week, so far:
So process. Lotta writers talk about their process. How they write what they write when they write. I find a lot of beginners spend way too much time fretting over this, to the point it actually impedes their progress as writers. Writers gotta write, man, but writers also gotta finish what they write. Some of it's awesome, but some of it sucks. It's just a fact of life, and we accept it and move on. But none of it has anything to do with process.
There was a time I got up early in the morning and wrote before work. When my schedule changed, I wrote when I got off work. For a while I wrote while the kids took a nap. Then I wrote at night before bed. For the past ten+ years I've gotten up at 4:00 in the morning to write before work. Then I spent 7 months out of work thanks to a lay-off and I wrote all day. Now I work at night, and I still spend all day writing (minus two hours since, due to working until midnight I get up at 6:00 now instead of 4:00). And if I were to get another day job, my writing schedule would change again. None of this has anything to do with HOW I write. I get an idea, I write the first sentence, then the next, and on and on until I get to the end. A long time ago I just wrote until my time was up, however many words I got done that day was how many I got done. Then I started trying for 500 words a day. Then it was 1000. For a LONG time my daily goal was 1000 words. Sometimes I hit it, sometimes I didn't. Sometimes I overshot it. Again, none of this had anything to do with my process.
I write. Period.
A few weeks ago, I was working on several stories at once. This is the first time I'd ever tried anything like this. I spent 4 hours a day writing these stories, 1 hour each, 1000 words a day on each. For the most part it worked almost every day. Some days, though... But when I finished those stories in first draft, I tried to move on to another set of stories, 1 hour each, 1000 words a day on each. That lasted about 1 day before I realized it wasn't going to work twice. At the very least it wasn't going to work with these stories. So I changed my approach.
And the way I approach the stories will change again. Because there is no ONE process any writer adopts that becomes "THIS IS HOW I WRITE". You just write. Start at the beginning and keep putting down words until you get to THE END. It's really no more complicated than that, and anyone who tries to say it is is just looking for excuses why they're not writing. Shut up the write, already.
I've been reading comics since I was about 15. Growing up I read them sporadically, but never collected anything on a monthly basis until Marvel's Transformers series started coming out. And for a long time that was my only monthly book. Then in high school I became friends with Scott Meade who introduced me to the world of comic book collecting. I was hooked from the start. It wasn't long before I was collecting nearly every title set in the mainstream Marvel universe, and maybe a year later I was collecting most of the DC books as well. Over time I started to lose interest in a lot of the titles. The quality of the stories went down as the quality of the production went up, when it seemed die-cut or foil or holographic covers were more important than what was inside the book, and soon I wasn't collecting anything. Over the past few years, though, I've started getting back into it, starting off small with just a few independent titles like Hellraiser and The X-Files. Then I got my kids into the habit as well, and now every Wednesday when I pick them up from school, I bring that week's haul with me. Lately I've been wondering about some of those old favorites, though. Namely Avengers and X-Men. Wondering how they're doing, if there's anything exciting going on. So I decided to pick up a few books and see what there is to see. Marvel's new marketing plan has helped greatly in this endeavor. See, they've started putting a big white #1 on the covers now, when there's a new storyline starting. So you can pick up Avengers #24 and it's a starting point because it begins the "Rogue Planet" storyline. Unfortunately, the question then becomes WHAT titles to read. Because, when I was reading them in the 80s and 90s, there were 3 Avengers titles, Avengers, West Coast Avengers, and Solo Avengers. Things aren't so simple anymore. So let's take a look at some of the recent issues I've picked up and decide which ones are worth further reading and which ones are just plain worthless.
For me, the flagship Avengers title is a no-brainer. No matter whose on the roster, this is usually an entertaining book, and the current "Rogue Planet" storyline is no exception. We've got the current group of active Avengers facing off against the original line-up of Thor, Ant-Man, Wasp, Iron Man, Hulk and Captain America from another dimension. This group, however, isn't interested in helping the world through peace, choosing instead to use strong-arm tactics to achieve the peace they seek. For me, this title is essential reading, especially if you like The Avengers. Most of the other Avengers-related titles are good, but THIS is the one you pretty much HAVE to read. Next up is:
Avengers A.I. I don't get this title. It could be because issues 8 and 10 were the only ones in the "Avengers Empire" story I could find, so maybe it's that 9th issue that ties it all together, but even so this just feels like a money-hungry title to me. First of all, I can't see anything in this story that NEEDS to be told in an entirely new monthly title. Sure, there are plenty of artificially intelligent members of the Avengers, but that doesn't mean they need a whole new book all to themselves, especially if THIS is the quality of the work being turned out in it. No, this just isn't good. The story is confusing, not a bit exciting, and the artwork is just plain terrible. It's not Kyle Baker on WOLFPACK bad or anything, but it's pretty bad nonetheless. This is a title I definitely won't be seeking further issues of.
Back when The Avengers movie came out, this title appeared on shelves, another obvious attempt at grabbing some of that movie money. This time, however, it worked. The lineup was the movie roster, with Cap, Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, Hawkeye and Black Widow, and the story was really good, too. So I picked up this latest issue and, while I'm in the middle of whatever story this is, it still makes enough sense I don't feel completely lost, but what's more important, it was incredibly entertaining. Avengers Assemble is a definite compliment to your monthly comic reading.
Next up is a title I picked up, not because of any Avengers on the cover, but because it was bringing back an old favorite New Universe character into the Marvel universe and I HAD to see what was up:
This was the one that did it. It was Wednesday, I was picking up my regular stash and saw this cover, "Welcome home, Starbrand!" What the WHAT? Star Brand? That's a New Universe character. And I LOVE my New Universe books, even though they've all been canceled for over 20 years. Now Starbrand is an Avenger? What did I miss? I had to find out. I'm glad I did. While this isn't the Star Brand I know, I still have to appreciate that the idea is being given new life, and in the Avengers, no less. This story is really good so far, even though it's highlighting a lot of characters I'm too unfamiliar with. Also, I think the individual issues feel pretty light in terms of story so far. This is a case of a story obviously being written for later collection in a trade paperback as opposed to just trying to provide the most entertaining comic they can on a monthly basis. Still, as long as Starbrand's on the roster, this will be a monthly buy.
A few years ago I read several issues of New Avengers, and loved it. The writing and art reminded me of why I fell in love with comics in the first place. This latest issue picks up in the middle of something, but it was the only issue I saw, so I grabbed it to remind myself I wanted to remember this title the next time I saw it. This was a very frantic issue with a ton of action, but I think to get the full impact I need to see the whole story. However, the quality of the art and storytelling was enough to keep me interested in the next issue and New Avengers will definitely be coming home with me the next time I see one.
Uncanny Avengers was a concept I resisted when I first heard about it. It smacked of money as opposed to art and didn't seem like a genuine enough idea. Combining the X-Men and the Avengers into one team. They don't need to be one team. Leave things alone. But this first issue of the "Avenger the Earth" story--issue #18--is pretty good and has my interest from the start. I'm certainly going to give this book a chance and see where things go.
Which brings us to the X-Men, another old favorite that I grew tired of around the time Scott Lobdell began ruining the book in the early-mid 90s. Back then there were 5 titles. Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, X-Factor, X-Force and Wolverine. As you'll see, things aren't so simple now.
I bought the first issue of X-Factor for 2 reasons. One, Peter David writes it and he's one of the best around. Two, it was the first issue. Then I saw Gambit was part of the team and I almost said forget that, not interested. And I'm still not interested; I despise Gambit as a character. He's never, in my opinion, brought anything of value to the table. however, I got the rest of the issues anyway because, like I said, Peter David wrote them. However, now that I have the back issues, I can't guarantee it'll be a regular buy once the new issues start coming out.
X-Force, however, might not make it to issue #2. I've never been a huge Cable fan, anyway, but it was a first issue so I gave it a shot. But this version of the team, this version of Cable, this artwork, the story, everything about this issue screams at me to walk the hell away right now. It's just bad and not even worth going into any further.
Here's another concept I wasn't sold on right away. Let's bring the original 5 X-Men, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Iceman and Beast to the present. Sure, I thought, who cares about continuity or anything. Go ahead. But, you know, it works. Brian Michael Bendis writes the series so far, and he's one of the best there is lately, too. I don't even have words for how good a writer he is. I'm very interested in more issues of this book.
I actually worked my way backwards with Amazing X-Men. I read the 5th issue before I realized the first 4 were still on the shelves and available, but that 5th issue was interesting enough to make me go back for them. Plus Firestar is now an X-Man. She's an old favorite from my childhood getting up at 6:00 on Saturday mornings just to watch Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, so of course I'm going to pick up this book. The writing is really good, along with the art and I'm excited for this book.
This was another one I worked backwards on, reading the first part of the "Uncanny X-Men Vs. SHIELD" story before going back to the 3 previous issues, the only ones I found still on the shelves. I have to say I almost passed on this one. I liked the new story and I hope it goes somewhere awesome, but the three previous issues were entirely pointless and just reminded me of why I became disinterested in X-Men in the first place. There's too much soap opera stuff going on and too little progression of any real story. I mean THREE issues and NOTHING of note happened. Sure, they were good issues, well written for sure (more Bendis) but as for furthering the story of the X-Men, no, not one little bit. Still, I'll keep on the with Vs. SHIELD story at least.
I grabbed these because they were the first three parts of the new story, but I haven't quite made up my mind just yet. We're dealing with WAY too many characters I don't know, and I can't decide yet if I like them. One thing I absolutely friggin despise, though, is that Jubilee--never a favorite of mine anyway--is apparently now a vampire. Sigh. Whatever, man, please just kill her or cure her and move on. We'll see where this one goes next, but my hopes aren't high.
Another jumping on point, this story is set in 1933 and doesn't confuse me with where it falls in current continuity. Hopefully this title offers more of these outside the norm stories. If it does, I'll still around. Plus I love Richard Isanove's work.
This book is going to be a harder sell. Wolverine is powerless, armored up, and just feels wrong to me in so many ways. Granted, I was never a biggest Wolverine fan anyway, especially of his solo books. Personally I think there are much more interesting X-Men who deserve solo books and doesn't have them while Wolverine has 2. That's bull. And this story, while okay, isn't convincing me to stick around.
It's not enough there are how many X-Men titles already. It's not enough Wolverine already has 2 solo books. Now we've got Wolverine and the X-Men. In this book, Wolverine is headmaster of the Jean Grey School. The "X-Men" are his students. And as far as I can tell, not a one of them is interesting as a character or an X-Man. Couldn't tell you who they are, couldn't tell you what they do. And I don't much care. I may see this storyline to its end, but unless the title explains some things and gets more interesting, I don't see myself bothering with whatever the next storyline is.
And now, a final note. You may have noticed how these blog entries go from February to now. Well, I had a bit of a problem this morning, hit some button, no idea what I did, but I had to restore from a snapshot of the sight I had taken. Unfortunately, I took it back in February. So there's no telling what else I've lost. I'll have to look around and get it all back to normal as time allows.
If you'd like to share your thoughts on Avengers, X-Men, comics in general, or would like to subscribe to the Angel Hill newsletter, just send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
First up is this week's comics haul, which was larger than usual. Four for my son, two for me, one for my daughter:
Yesterday I finished compiling and published a new review collection:
This collection is 75 reviews, running the gamut from Asian horror to blaxploitation to the works of Charles Band. There's all kinds of movies here, old ones like THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI to more recent efforts like STOKER, starring Nicole Kidman. The Kindle edition is available for $1.99 here, or on other platforms via smashwords here. Kobo and Nook versions will be coming soon, and the paperback version (201 pages), should be ready tomorrow.
I have finally, after many many years, decided I'm ready to start an email newsletter. For the longest time I had the CDM Short Story Webring, where, every Monday, I emailed a different short story directly to a few dozen readers. Also for the longest time, I would send those writers and friends I felt I had developed a connection with occasional news updates when I had something to announce. But now I'm going to make it a regular thing.
The first question was how do I make it worthwhile? By giving subscribers something they can't get elsewhere for one. Things like exclusive Angel Hill stories (since THE THIRD FLOOR seems to still be the big draw 14 months later), first looks at upcoming work, inside information, etc.
I also have several ideas for free books and stories, too, as gratitude to my readers.
If you would like to sign up to the free C. Dennis Moore/Angel Hill newsletter, just go here http://www.cdennismoore.com/contact/ and put Angel Hill in the subject line. If you'd like a free story, book or collection, just include a note naming your digital reader of choice, whether Kindle, Kobo, Nook, etc, and I'll think of something cool to send out as a sign-up bonus.
Cast out from the magical kingdom of The Realm and into the dying desert of the Sands beyond, Marshal Clint Gulliver and his unicorn Edward have finally found peace in the small and dusty town of Solace. For the first time since leaving The Realm, Clint has dared to be happy, getting hitched to his bride to be, Mai. But when the town faces a deadly approaching enemy, the gunslinger feels compelled unholster his seven-shooters to face it... and the dark magic it brings with it.
From the creators of Yesterday's Gone (Platt) and Fat Vampire (Truant) comes this reinvention of both the western genre and unicorn lore. Written for children and teens -- but complex and awesome enough for adult readers -- Unicorn Western is "Harry Potter without wizards, with gunslingers, with talking unicorns and epic unicorn fights, and with more turkey pie."
A while back, the guys at Realm and Sands, Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt, decided to write a story just for their email list fans. They asked what story the fans would like to read, solicited titles, and settled on CAVEMAN TIMECOP. They wrote the story in installments and gave it away free to their email list. Recently, the entire story was made available.
I’m a sucker for time travel stories, and while I had my reservations about this one, which weren’t comforted when I started it, by the end I was hooked and glad to see the guys took a ridiculous title and made a pretty good story out of it.
The plot is pretty simple for a time travel story. Alexander Reed is a time cop sent back over a million years into the past. This is strange enough to begin, because the time cops have a rule against traveling further than 300 years into the past. Apparently, the further back one travels, the wide and more dangerous the butterfly effect ripples and the more damage that can be done to the present. So why he’s being sent so far back, he has no idea.
Even worse, once he gets there, he discovers whatever is going on has made it impossible to return to his own time. In fact, he’s not even sure his time is still there at all.
I know the guys at Realm and Sands like to mix humor into their work, and sometimes it works, sometimes not so much, but sometimes the cute asides get tiresome and I find myself reading on despite them. Reed’s nickname being “the muscles from Brussels” was funny, while the reference to the brooding cave couple as Edward and Bella wasn’t. Then again, I love bad 90s movies, while the Twilight phenomenon still escapes me. And sometimes those asides fit perfectly into the stream of the story, such as the various references to other Realm and Sands stories THE BEAM and UNICORN WESTERN. I dig self-referential authors who tie their worlds together.
While I thought CAVEMAN TIMECOP got off to a really slow start, it picked up and got really interesting before the halfway mark and kept me from noticing how tired I was getting on the treadmill as I finished it. And then that ending. Okay, so the ending was telegraphed a while before and it wasn’t the surprise it was supposed to be. But it still worked, and created an awesome visual in my head as I read. In fact, that ending made me think of some of my favorite Harlan Ellison stories.
I’m not sure what their plans are for this story, but if they end up doing a follow up, I’ll definitely be in line to see what happens next.