Death of Wolverine #1 hits shelves tomorrow, and it hits alongside the announcement that I signed a contract with Marvel Comics to work for them for a bit (which was released by USA Today just a few minutes ago, and confirmed by Comic Book Resources.) I expect both to have a very significant effect on my career. DoW is getting tons of press coverage – everyone has known it’s coming for a while. This contract thing will come as a surprise, I think, so I thought I’d type up a few quick thoughts about it to help explain where things are right now.

First and foremost, signing a contract is a business decision – it is, literally, my business. So, if I don’t describe every detail about what happened, how it happened, how long it will last or other specifics, well… as I said, my business. However, I know that some people out there will be curious about how my Marvel contract affects my work for other companies, including some of the titles I’m working on right now, so I thought I could speak a bit to that.

For those who aren’t familiar with the comics business, there are only a few main players, and they occasionally sign individual creators to contracts that prevent them from freelancing for the other main players in the business for a specified period of time. While I’m not technically a Marvel “employee,” I will be doing the majority of my comics work for them for a bit.

This means that I won’t be writing for DC Comics for a while, which was not an easy decision to make. DC gave me my first shot at “Big 2” comics with Swamp Thing, and my profile took a massive leap forward when they trusted me to write Superman / Wonder Woman. Red Lanterns has been a blast as well, not to mention all the other side projects, one-offs I’ve been lucky enough to write – and of course the projects I haven’t written yet! So let me be clear – the decision to work with Marvel for a while isn’t any sort of denigration of DC. I had a fantastic time there, I was treated extremely well, I have strong positive feelings about all of my editors and the DC universe of characters, and I look forward to hopefully working with them at some point down the road. You’ll still see DC work coming out from me for a little while yet over the coming months, and both Marvel and DC were extremely gracious about working with me to make sure that I could complete my runs on DC titles the way I originally intended. So, you’ll see my work on Red Lanterns as part of the big Godhead event, you’ll see me ending my run on Superman / Wonder Woman the way I wanted to, and Swamp Thing will continue under my pen for a little while as well (in fact, a new Swampy issue hits tomorrow!)

Oh, and Letter 44 isn’t going anywhere. I’m on that one until it’s done, which won’t be for a while yet.

So why sign a deal at all, if things were so great? Well, it’s pretty simple. Writing eight titles a month (which I’ve been doing for quite a while now) is no joke. It’s a constant tightrope walk, requiring serious focus and discipline. I’ve proven to myself that I can do it, but now that I have, it’s time for a different challenge – I want to know what I can accomplish with a smaller slate, where I can really dive in. I’ve accomplished breadth, now I want to see about depth. There are creator-owned projects I’m anxious to explore, as well as some different kinds of writing – I have a few novels to polish and hopefully release, for one thing. Also, Marvel is giving me the opportunity to really play in their sandbox in a big way. Inhuman is going to some very interesting places, and the Wolverine stuff I’m working on post-death (not with Logan, but more about the impact of his death on the Marvel Universe) is pretty wonderful as well. And of course there’s She-Hulk… one of my favorite things I’ve ever done. Issue 8 hits shelves tomorrow, featuring the start of a three-part story in which Daredevil and She-Hulk go up against each other in court, with Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) as the defendant. First time that’s ever happened in the comics, and I’m probably as excited about that story as I am about DoW.

But speaking of the death of a certain angry Canadian, let me mention that I’m doing a ton of signings/appearances, etc. this month and next to promote that story. Here’s the list:

September 3 (Wednesday), 6-8 PM – NEW YORK CITY – Midtown Comics Downtown

September 4 (Thursday), 4-7 PM – PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – Fat Jack’s Comicrypt

September 5-7 (Friday-Sunday) – BALTIMORE COMIC CON

September 17 (Wednesday), 4-7 PM (time to be confirmed) – LOWELL, MASSACHUSETTS – Larry’s Comics

September 27 (Saturday), 10 AM – 1 PM – SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – Yesteryear Comics

September 27 (Saturday), 7-10 PM – LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – The Comic Bug

October 1 (Wednesday) – 4-7 PM – SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – Comix Experience

October 9-12 (Thursday – Sunday) – NEW YORK COMIC CON

It will probably be tough not to get a book signed by me in September.

Let me wrap up by thanking you for reading, and supporting my work over the past few years. I would never have gotten to this point without your help, and I think about that all the time. More great stories to come, I promise.

 

I thought I would take a few minutes to type up a quick update on current and future projects, and possibly justify the fact that this blog exists in the first place.  Here’s the rundown on recent news related to my work:

1. Superman / Wonder Woman – My final issue on this title will be #12, which will hit in October 2014. I’ll be followed on the book by Pete Tomasi and Doug Mahnke, who are wonderful talents – it’s in good hands.  I LOVED working on S/WW – handling two of pop culture’s biggest icons from a perspective that hadn’t been seen all that much before was a challenge, but I know it made me a better writer. It also taught me a great deal about how to handle online skepticism – in a nutshell, I’ll listen to anything anyone has to say once they’ve read something I’ve done, but focusing on opinions (good or bad) before the work is out in the world doesn’t help me at all. (For those who don’t follow the comics world religiously, there was some negativity about the concept when S/WW was announced, the expectation from some camps being that it would just be silly pandering, or that Wonder Woman wouldn’t have a significant role, or or or. Hearing those complaints largely die away as the book’s run continued was a pretty wonderful thing.)

Man, what a great book this was to work on – let’s see:

–Superman and Wonder Woman (just by themselves that’s great)

–Superman and Wonder Woman romantically linked

–Getting to work on the Doomed crossover event with Greg Pak (and Scott Lobdell at the start) – telling a new Doomsday story and then going even bigger… it was intense sometimes (lots of pages in this event), but never in a particularly negative way

–Working with Tony Daniel and the other amazing artists on the book – I was still brand new (basically) when I got this book, and Tony was a 20-year veteran of Big 2 comics work. I learned a lot about how to build and navigate a relationship with an artist on S/WW, and I think it’s some of Tony’s best work (I think the stuff in Issue 6 IS his best work, but I’m also very biased.)

12 regular issues, an annual, my part of the two Doomed specials, plus the Wonder Woman and Superman / Wonder Woman Five Years Later issues – that’s roughly 18 issues worth of material in the S/WW galaxy. Not a bad little run. Someday I’d love to come back, but we’ll see which way the wind blows.

P.S. on this one – the last three issues (the WW – S/WW 5YL issues and then #12 are some of my favorite things I’ve done on the series. The 5YL issues are basically a two-part elseworlds dealing with Diana as the God of War, and #12 has a huge callback to something innocuous from #1 that I think regular readers will love. It’s hard to end a series run, especially this one, but I think you’ll like how it goes out.)

2. Death of Wolverine – First issue out NEXT WEDNESDAY. I’ve mentioned before that I’m considering a social media holiday for September, and I’m still thinking about it. Not because I’m afraid of negative reactions – I’m confident in the book – but just because I think there will be a lot of discussion and speculation, and since it’s all been written for months, it’s sort of silly for me to participate in it.  A few things that are worth mentioning, I think:

–It’s a real ending for Logan. It’s not a fakeout, or a trick. The title is what happens. It’s about how we get there, and how it happens.

–He won’t be back in a month or two. I guarantee it.

–It looks absolutely incredible. Steve McNiven (pencils), Jay Leisten (inks) and Justin Ponsor (colors) (along with Chris Eliopolous [letters] and Mike Marts/Katie Kubert/Xander Jarowey [editorial]) are doing A+++ work. It’s incredible to see how well-realized these scenes are.

For the rest… well, you’ll find out next month.

3. Swamp Thing – we’re about to enter the Machine Queen arc, which will run through Issue 40. The first trade of my run (starting with Issue 19) is out now, and if you haven’t had a chance to check it out, I would love it if you did. If you’re a longtime reader, it’s probably closest in tone to my 27 series from Image, but more plant-y and less rock & roll-y. In this next arc, we’ll see our boy Alec Holland fighting a bunch of evil robots – and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

4. Inhuman – Issue 3 came out week before last, and Issue 4 will be out tomorrow. Then two more in September, all with art from Ryan Stegman. I’m aware that we need to build a bit of momentum, but we’re all aware of that, which is why we’re making sure to put out a bunch of issues quickly. By the end of September, you’ll have gotten the same number of issues on the shelves as you would have if the books had hit monthly from April. Give it a spin – it’s a book that is designed in part to add cool new characters and scenarios to the Marvel U, which will become increasingly intertwined with big events as things go on. Plus, it’s just cool superhero action with a sort of “royal intrigue” theme, which isn’t something you can really get anywhere else in the MU at the moment.

5. Letter 44 – going strong. The first trade seems to be going gangbusters – get it here – and the second arc is almost completely drawn and will hit shelves monthly through December (Issue 13). I believe we’ll take our customary skip month and then come back swinging with Issue 14 in February 2015, with the second trade to follow not too long after that, probably March or April. Thank you for supporting this book – fun high-concept or not, creator-owned is always a risk. It’s looking like we’ll be completing the series as originally planned, around Issue 35, and that’s an amazing prospect for a comics writer – to know that I’ll actually get to end a series the way I want to is a rare thing.  Actually, I’ve been lucky with that – I got to end my Thunderbolts run as planned, S/WW is going out the way I want it to… could be worse.

6. She-Hulk – oh man, She-Hulk. I hear more about this series than almost any other. Again, sort of a risky, weird book considering the overall landscape, and I’m glad Marvel’s willing to put it out. I’m even more pleased you guys are reading it. The first trade hits in October, collecting issues 1-6. I just finished the end of Issues 8-10, which is the arc in which She-Hulk and Daredevil go up against each other in court. Man, that one was challenging, and I’m glad it’s done – but I can’t wait for you to read it, either.

7. Red Lanterns – moving into the big Godhead crossover with my fellow Lantern writers Rob Venditti, Van Jensen, Justin Jordan and Cullen Bunn – amazing Kirbyfied cosmic action, which will send Guy Gardner in a cool new direction. I’m also very proud of the Red Lanterns 5YL script, which sees Mr. Hothead as a blissed-out Blue Lantern. I love all those 5YLs, honestly. Swamp Thing is sort of a like a weird, creepy fairy tale, and as I mentioned, the WW- S/WW stories are a big two-part Elseworlds. Read ‘em all!

8. Other stuff – so much! I’m finishing work on my first video game script. I’ve got the post-Death of Wolverine stories (Logan Legacy and Weapon X Project, which link together as one 12-issue maxiseries sequel to DoW that will hit between October and November). Two very big new, unannounced series that will probably be discussed at NYCC. Fan Expo in Toronto this coming weekend, Baltimore the weekend after that, and then NYCC in October. Something else for the late spring (dream project for little-kid Charles). Some amazing stuff for summer and fall 2015, including two new creator-owned things with artists I adore.

Another very big, game-changing announcement (for me) will probably hit in the next week, at which point I’ll probably be doing another blog post… but that’s Next Week Charles’ problem.

 

Despite my best efforts – well, not my best efforts – those tend to go into the scripts – I haven’t updated here since April. Still, it was the end of April, so it could be worse.  And yet, it could be better, because this is just going to be one of those “here’s all the places I’ll be at this convention this weekend” posts, which will only be interesting to those of you who are going.

BUT IT IS A POST. IT IS CONTENT. I AM MANAGING MY BRAND.

Sort of.

Anyway, here we are, San Diego Comicon 2014. I expect this to be a pretty insane show all around – SDCC is always like being dropped into a giant blender filled with sharks that are also gummi sharks, so you want to eat them as much as they want to eat you. (Note – if that metaphor doesn’t completely work for you, it might be because you’ve never been to SDCC.)

It’ll be busy, especially with some high profile things like Death of Wolverine just around the corner, the release of the Letter 44 Volume 1 trade, and other exciting tidbits.  Here’s where you can find me over the course of the weekend:

Thursday, July 24

5:00-6:30 PM – Signing at the Oni Press booth. I’ll be signing Letter 44 Vol. 1, as well as the con exclusive variant cover of Issue 8 (which is gorgeous, see below):

 

LETTER44 #8 GABO VARIANT - 4x6 COMP WEBAs mentioned, the collection of the first arc will also be available, a week before it’s out on store shelves, as well as a con-exclusive Letter 44 “Mission Patch” that I believe comes free with purchase to everyone who gets a trade.

Letter-44-patchSo, get all of those.

Friday, July 24

11:15 – 12:15 – DC Champions of Justice panel, room 6DCE – just what it sounds like. Come see me dish on Red Lanterns, Swamp Thing, the September Future’s End event, and who knows what else! Lots of great DC folks on this panel – should be fun.

12:30 – 2 – Another signing at the Oni booth (see above).

3:00-4:00 – Signing at the Marvel booth.

Saturday, July 25

10:00 – 11:00 – the famous Writers Unite panel, hosted as always by the incredible Jim Zub, room 25ABC. This time, it’ll be Jim, me and Fred Van Lente (writer extraordinaire) sharing our tips and tricks about breaking into the business, writing in general, and other extremely useful bits and bobs. This is, I believe, something like the tenth time I’ve done this panel – and I do it because (a) it’s fun and (b) I think it’s some pretty good outreach. Breaking in is hard, and we need talented folks in the business. Come check it out!

11:15 – 12:30  – DC Superman panel, room 6DCE. Again, just what it sounds like. Superman! We’ll talk Doomed, Future’s End and beyond… I love Big Blue and so do you. You know you do.

2 – 3:30 PM – Signing at the Oni booth.

3:30 – 4:30 PM – the Nerdist Writers Panel over at Petco Park on the 6th Floor. I’ll be on the panel with some serious luminaries: Ben Edlund, Jill Thompson, Chris Roberson and Heath Corson. I’ll certainly be the least interesting person there – I’m probably looking forward to it more than you are.

Sunday, July 26

12:30 – 1:30 – Marvel Next Big Thing, room 6DCE. This will be all about the next big thing to come from Marvel. I do believe something fun will be announced here with respect to a certain soon-to-be-deceased Canadian X-man, so swing by.

2 – 3 – Signing at the DC Booth.

3 – 4 – DC Secret Origins panel, room 6DCE.

That’s the scheduled stuff. In between I’ll be all over the place, hopefully taking a few minutes here or there to relax a little – but honestly, this ain’t that kind of show. If you see me, come up and say hi!

 

 

So, in the last six days, it’s been announced in Entertainment Weekly that I’m killing Wolverine, and by the Hollywood Reporter that my creator-owned series with Oni Press, Letter 44, is in development as a television show with SyFy.

That’s nuts. How did this happen? I wish I could tell you – it still seems almost misty, like it’s happening to someone else. Or, more pertinent to this blog post, it seems too big to articulate. But I suppose I’ll give it a shot. I mean, words are my job, aren’t they?

Here is what these announcements mean to me – along with the trajectory of the entire last year, really:

I don’t have to be quite as worried that it’s all going to go away.

For years – years – every time I made a wish of any kind (birthday candles, eyelashes, falling stars, you name the trope), it was always the same thing: “I’d like to spend as much of my life creating things as possible, making a living from ideas.” Not that I hate being an attorney – hopefully my She-Hulk series shows you that – but it’s just a different thing. Once you reach a certain point in your life, I think you figure out where your happiness lies, and mine comes from making things, whether music or stories or whatever else. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do – I wrote my first “novel” in fourth grade (it was about a unicorn.)

Now, though, because of everyone who has picked up, written about, talked to me about, tweeted, Facebooked, spoken to their friends about, ordered for their shop, hired me to do or just plain old read my work… I can feel myself relaxing a bit. I think, I hope that I’m not going anywhere. I can think about what’s next. (What’s next = cool stuff, if I have anything to say about it.)

So, thank you, all of you. I better get back to it, though – turns out I have quite a lot of work to do.

It’s Thursday – tomorrow morning I fly to C2E2 for what promises to be another great weekend of meeting fans, talking comics and – time permitting – a few great runs along the Chicago lakeshore, which is something I look forward to all year long. You go up from the convention center along the shore through Grant Park, Millienium Park and then turn around once you hit Navy Pier. It’s just gorgeous, and really helps to clear out the con-related cobwebs. And any other cobwebs.

By the time I land in Chicago, I believe some news will have broken about a project I’ve been referring to as The Grey Book on Twitter for a while.  This is the grey book in question, the Moleskine dedicated to the story:

IMG_20140424_140423_322

What’s in it? You’ll find out in broad strokes tomorrow, and more specifically later this year. It’s big, though – bigger than that one little grey notebook should be able to contain.

In other C2E2-related news, I’ll be doing a cool run of panels and signings. When I’m not doing those, I can be found at table O-13, near a rogue’s gallery of incredibly talented folks.  Here’s the schedule:

FRIDAY

2:45-3:45 – Room N427 -DC All Access – I’ll be talking about some of my projects for DC Comics, including Swamp Thing and Red Lanterns. Other guests include Brian Azzarello, Dan Jurgens, Greg Lockard, Greg Pak, Jim Chadwick, Kyle Higgins, Nicola Scott and Scott Snyder.

4:15-5:15 – Room N426 – Breaking Into Comics the Marvel Way – Are you a writer or artist? Ever dream of working for Marvel? Do you find yourself thinking, “I could do that…if I knew how!” Well, here’s your chance! Join superstar writers and artists including Mark Brooks (Fearless Defenders), Joshua Hale Fialkov (Amazing Spider-Man: Who Am I? Infinite Comic, Ultimate FF), Todd Nauck (Nightcrawler), and Charles Soule (She-Hulk) as well as Marvel’s talent scout C.B. Cebulski to find out the answers on how to get your foot in the door and make your job MARVEL!

 

SATURDAY

Noon – 1 PM – Signing at the Marvel Booth.

4:15-5:15 – Room N426 - Marvel’s Next Big Thing – Want to start reading Marvel comics? There’s no better time than Marvel NOW! And there’s no better place to learn about our thrilling and creatively diverse All-New Marvel NOW series than this panel! Don’t miss some exciting discussion of Guardians of the Galaxy and Inhuman titles, plus a surprise announcement or two! Panelists include Executive Editor Mike Marts, Senior Editor Nick Lowe, Mahmud Asrar (Wolverine & the X-Men), Joshua Hale Fialkov (Amazing Spider-Man: Who Am I? Infinite Comic), Charles Soule (She-Hulk), Ryan Stegman (Wolverine), James Robinson (Fantastic Four), and Skottie Young (Rocket Raccoon)!

 

SUNDAY

12:15-1:15 – Room N427 – Superman, the Man of Tomorrow – cool panel discussing Superman (obviously), and more particularly the upcoming Doomed event, which starts next month. Other panelists include Aaron Kuder, Greg Pak and Scott Snyder.

1:15-2:15 – Room N426 – Wolverine – Three Months to Die – Wolverine is going to die! But when, and how? The biggest Wolverine event in years kicks off in June with “3 Months to Die” and this panel is the place to find out more! Plus, learn about exciting new developments across the entire X-Men family of titles! Panelists include Executive Editor Mike Marts, Editor Jordan D. White, Mahmud Asrar (Wolverine & the X-Men), Russell Dauterman (Cyclops), Jason Latour (Wolverine & the X-Men), Greg Pak (World War Hulk) and Charles Soule (She-Hulk, Thunderbolts) as they take on all questions!

Now, at the table, I’ll have the usual assortment of cool things – Strongman Vols 1 and 2, 27 Vols 1 and 2, Strange Attractors, Letter 44 1-6 (the whole first arc) and some of my Marvel/DC work as well. I’ll have 27 and Strange Attractors shirts, the world-famous Indian Swamp Thing poster, and something else – a brand new Strongman story called El Tigre and the Tiger.  It’s drawn by my frequent collaborator Robert Saywitz – the guy who did the amazing complexity maps in Strange Attractors. This is a short, fun tale about a trip to Coney Island undertaken by our doughty hero. It’s designed as sort of an art object – printed on really cool paper and folded in an interesting way, so that unfolding it becomes part of the story is told.  I’m very proud of it – this is the first new Strongman material in something like four years! Here’s the cover pane (the final is inked, etc. – but it’ll give you a taste!):

Strongman3_Pencil_Panel1-small

These are pretty limited, self-printed works of love, so if you want one, swing by O-13 early. See you in Chi-town!

 

I’m in the home stretch of prepping for my first convention of 2014, the always incredible Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, Washington.  While it’s not the first big convention of the year (Planet Comicon hits before ECCC, for one), it’s been my first con for the last four years running. This makes ECCC #5 for me, which I believe is a legacy to be proud of. I have family in Seattle, but it’s also just such a great town in general. I live in NYC, which I love, but Seattle lets me go for runs along Puget Sound, check out the EMP museum, do karaoke at one of my favorite karaoke places in THE WORLD (which I will be doing on Friday night with several friends I do this with every year, a small, select, talented group – we’ve been planning our song list for literally months), eat great food, hike up in the mountains… anyway, I dig it.

But I’m not just flying to Seattle to recharge my spiritual batteries and gallivant with my creative brethren and sistren in the comics industry. No, I’m also coming to see YOU.  I will be set up in Artist’s Alley at table V-12.

I expect to have the following items:

Letter 44 1-5
Strange Attractors
27 Vols 1 and 2
Strongman Vols 1 and 2
T-shirts (27 and Strange Attractors)
Posters (that awesome Indian Swamp Thing one you may have seen around)

Plus, various issues and collections of Swamp Thing, Superman / Wonder Woman, Red Lanterns, Thunderbolts and She-Hulk, including variant covers. If you’re looking for a particular cover (especially S/WW), chances are I might have one.

TONS O’ MERCH! But I will not just be trying to turn paper with words and pictures on it into smaller, greener paper with words and picture on it. I will also be talking at you. I’m doing a number of panels and signings. Full schedule below:

Friday 1-2 PM, ROOM TCC 301 – Breaking Into Comics the Marvel Way: “Are you a writer or artist?  Ever dream of working for Marvel?  Do you find yourself thinking “I could do that, if I knew how!”  Well, here’s your chance!  Join Marvel’s Talent Scout C.B. Cebulski and panelists Jason Aaron (Thor: God of Thunder), Jordie Bellaire (Deadpool), Jason Latour (Wolverine & The X-Men), Declan Shalvey (Moon Knight), and Charles Soule (She-Hulk) to find out how to get your foot in the door at Marvel!”

Friday 4-5 PM, Signing at the DC booth. (Look for the DC comics booth. I’m sure you’ll find it.)

Saturday, Noon-1 PM, ROOM TCC 301 – Marvel: Pint O’ CB: “This is it, Mighty Marvel fans: the no-holds-barred, anything goes, full-of-surprises panel you waited all year for, and it’s here!  Executive Editor Tom Brevoort and Marvel’s Talent Scout C.B. Cebulski take on all questions about upcoming Marvel events with guests Jason Aaron, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Charles Soule and G. Willow Wilson!  Plus: find out more about thrilling new series Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel from the women who write them!  This is the panel everyone will be talking about… so head on over and have a pint with C.B.!”

Saturday, 2-3 PM, ROOM TCC 301: DC Comics – The New 52: “New and veteran fans alike are welcomed to be a part of history as the DC team and top-notch talent discuss the books that are shaping this new era of DC Comics! Don’t miss this exclusive look inside the hottest comic line in decades! Panelists include Matt Idelson, Brian Buccellato, Ray Fawkes, Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, Ann Nocenti, Scott Snyder, Charles Soule, Alessandro Vitti. Moderated by Larry Ganem.”

Saturday, 3-4 PM, Signing at the Oni Booth! Letter 44 galore! Show up and I will answer ONE question about the series for you. BUT ONLY ONE.

Sunday, Noon-1PM, Signing at the DC Booth!

Sunday, 1-2 PM, Room 201, Writers Unite: “Creator-owned comics are back in a big way and publishers are looking for new stories. Charles Soule (Superman/Wonder Woman) and Jim Zub (Samurai Jack) discuss writing, pitching, and breaking into the business.”

FYI, this last panel is incredibly useful for anyone aspiring to be a comics writer. Jim and I have been doing it for several years, and at this point it’s a finely honed cornucopia of handy, frank advice, with a pretty lively Q&A to boot. Highly recommended for anyone trying to get into this cramazing biz.

And that’s Emerald City! CANNOT WAIT TO SEE YOU!

 

 

Last night – probably too late last night, I tweeted this:

At the time, I was watching a movie that featured a few ex-Spetsnaz characters, which got me thinking about the incredible novel REAMDE from Neal Stephenson, which also features one of those scary, tough, extraordinarily competent dudes.  I decided to re-read that book as soon as I finished the one I’m on now (which I’m liking but not loving – good thing about books, though, is that there’s always another one).  From there, I moved on to a quick mental overview of Stephenson’s entire output (the movie clearly wasn’t really grabbing me) and realized that he’s what I would consider unassailable – everything he’s published is at a certain level of creative excellence, from essays to novels. Not a dud in the bunch. If you don’t know his work, please, see for yourself.

That led to the tweet above, which led to a pretty busy time on my feed. Seems like there’s plenty of brilliance out there (or at least the perception of brilliance).  The following names popped up in, in order of posting:

Wes Anderson, Charlie Chaplin, Quentin Tarantino, Jack White, George Carlin, John Williams, Seth**, Alfred Bester, Spalding Gray, Robert Fripp, David Bowie, Philip Seymour Hoffman, David Lynch, Slayer, Twain, Vonnegut, Toni Morrison, Kurosawa, Toth, Paul Newman, Bryan Fuller, Daniel Day Lewis, Manet, Cormac McCarthy, Nikola Tesla?, Jack Kirby, Michael Jordan?, Christopher Nolan, Charles Soule (uh huh, sure), Scott Snyder, Brian Bendis, George Eliot***, Quentin Tarantino, Lewis Carroll, Hitchcock, Alan Moore, Otomo, Warren Buffet, Chen Kenichi**, Shigeru Miyamoto, Randall Munroe**, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Rush, Charles Schulz, Miyazaki, Aretha Franklin, Kate Beaton, Miles Davis, David Bowie, Eminem, Kurosawa, Harryhausen, Orson Welles, Jules Verne, Westlake, Hitchcock, Freddie Mercury, Will Eisner, Frazetta, Jimmy Stewart, Maurice Sendak, Osamu Tezuka*, Tom Waits, Akira Kurosawa, Alastair Reynolds, Bill Watterson, John Cassavetes, Warren Ellis, Tarkovsky*, Jack Cardiff*, Christopher Doyle*, Bach, Bowie, Whitman, Naoki Urasawa**, Shel Silverstein, Theodore Seuss Geisel, Alex Ross, Coen Bothers, Calvino, Saramago, Taiyo Matsumoto*, Hiroaki Samura**, Andre 3000, Phonte**, Madlib*, Mingus, Tolkien, Salinger, Faulkner, Emerson & Fuller*, Flannery O’Connor*, Norman Rockwell, Bill Watterson, David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Daniel Day Lewis, Jim Henson, Coltrane, Moebius, Jack Kirby, Glenn Gould, Mamoru Hosoda**, Philip Glass, Rothko, Vonnegut, Kara Walker**, Hitchcock, Poe, Miles Davis, Stravinsky, Joyce, Saramago, Moebius, Tolstoi, Dostoevsky, Kubrick, Kurosawa, Steve Reich**, Hendrix, Kafka, Kurosawa, Wool*, Dostoevsky, Bach, Rothko, Dali, Goddard, Mozart, Warhol, Trent Reznor, Vandana Shiva**, Leslie Nielsen, Coen Brothers, Bella Tarr*, John Candy, Gregory Peck, Meryl Streep, Rimbaud, Plath, West, Cronenberg, Burroughs, Ballard, Philip K. Dick, Brautigan*, Melville, Lynch, Bjork, Reed, Davis, Jodorowski, Otomo, McCartney, Andy Kaufman, Charlie Kaufman, Tezuka, Alex Toth, Moebius, Louis CK, Plath, Proust, Garcia Marquez, Flaubert, George Lucas, Freddie Mercury, Joe Strummer, Bill Finger, Borges, Metallica, Hendrix, Clapton, Stan Lee, Jim Lee, George Lucas (1977), Spielberg, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, The Beatles, David Lynch, Borges, Scorcese, Scorcese, Alphonse Mucha**, Miles Davis, Coltrane, Osamu Tezuka, Lynch, Kurosawa, Kubrick, Alexander McQueen, Coco Chanel, Edith Wharton, Theodore Dreiser**, The Brothers Quay**, Jane Austen, Hilary Mantel** and… as of this morning, the last pick was, sigh, Charles Soule.

Wow, right? A few thoughts on that list:

–First, it’s a pretty recent group. You’ve got plenty of 20th century folks, but then it drops off a cliff. Earliest name that I’m seeing as I scan through that is Bach. I think that’s legitimate, though, because we don’t necessarily know Bach’s entire output the way we do, say, the films of George Lucas, or the Coen Brothers. I know Bach was brilliant through and through because I’ve had the pleasure of listening to a huge cross-section of his stuff – same with Mozart and Beethoven. But Homer? I know two works, the same ones everyone else knows. For all I know, everything he wrote other than The Iliad and the Odyssey was a bunch of crap.

–There’s a difference between “genius” and “unassailable brilliance.” I think you could make a case for Star Wars being a work of genius, but I’m not sure I would agree with the idea that George Lucas is unassailably brilliant. Howard the Duck.

–No Shakespeare. No James Ellroy. No Frank Lloyd Wright. No Leonardo Da Vinci. No Michelangelo. No Julia Child. No Dickens.

–Few painters, few fashion designers… the focus was mostly filmmakers, writers and musicians. I wonder if that’s because I framed the original question using those, or because those are the people current society tends to elevate, or because that’s who my feed focuses on? Not much as far as popular novelists, either. I think you could make a case for Stephen King – although I’m sure it would spur fervent debate.

–We seem to really like David Lynch, Kurosawa, Hitchcock, Miles Davis, Hendrix, Bowie, Borges, Rothko, Moebius, Jack Kirby, , Tezuka, Alex Toth and Saramago.

–Here’s the best part about this, for me – every name on that list with at least one asterisk next to it is someone whose work I’m not particularly familiar with. I’ve heard of most of them (although not all), but I just haven’t checked out their work yet. To put it another way, THANK YOU, TWITTER, for giving me a fantastic series of recommendations for the next little while. I’m particularly intrigued by the ones I haven’t heard of. Those folks have two stars. Do I know everything and everyone? Come on – of course not. I’d be an idiot to pretend I do.

In fact, thank god there is more brilliance out there to find. I hope I never find it all.

–George Eliot gets three stars because of this lovely exchange with my friend Jennifer de Guzman:

I knew George Eliot wrote Silas Marner and Middlemarch, and I’m pretty sure that at some point I knew “George Eliot” was the pseudonym of a female writer – but not last night at 1 AM, apparently. I also might have mixed up Ms. Evans with this other pseudonymic writer. Anyway, no shame! I’ll never make that mistake again.

–Finally, I have no business being on that list.

So, last point – man, I love looking at that block of names. Pure distilled incredible. So much of culture is disposable – which is not necessarily a bad thing, as I think disposability serves a valuable purpose – but sometimes, we transcend.

And maybe the best part? Many of those people are still alive.

Who would you add?

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