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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?

It’s been a bit, but it’s become pretty clear to me that unless things slow down, that blog posts will be a luxury for a while. Perhaps I’ll just assign blogging to of the clones I keep being accused of having, but I prefer to save those guys for the books. Blogs need the personal touch, I think.

Anyway, I decided to take a few minutes to type something up today with respect to a new milestone in my writing career – and for once, it’s not about a new project I’m taking on.  Nope, this one’s about the first book I’m leaving.

As was reported this week, my time on the very cool Marvel series Thunderbolts will be coming to an end with issue 26. I took the book over from the infinitely capable Daniel Way with issue 12, and I will be succeeded by the equally skilled Ben Acker and Ben Blacker (of the Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast, among other delightful things.) When all is said and done, I will have done sixteen issues with the ‘Bolts, a little over a year’s worth of work (Marvel double-ships some titles, which means they put out more than one book per month on occasion.) Three hundred and twenty pages worth of dark action/comedy featuring some of my favorite characters in all of comics, including the Punisher and Elektra, not to mention newer faves like Red Leader and Johnny Blaze, the Ghost Rider. Tbolts scripts are always a joy to write – it’s work, sure, but it’s work I look forward to every month (or every three weeks, really – double-shipping, remember?)

So, if I like it that much, why am I leaving the book? Ultimately, there are a few reasons, but mostly, it’s workload. I am currently on seven titles (that we know of), and that is a tremendous amount of material to generate. I’m up to it, but here’s how I think about it – if I’m carrying everything I can, then I can’t really pick anything else up, you know? You guys know what my Tbolts is like – and so do I – but it’s also a song I’ve sung, at this point. To stick with the musical metaphor, I think of Thunderbolts as a track on my first record (my first MAJOR LABEL record, anyway…) but it might be time to think about what my second album is going to sound like.

Change is good, development as a writer is good, and part of that is setting new challenges for myself ALL THE TIME. With that in mind, here are a few thoughts on that second album…

1. SWAMP THING – still love it, still love that people love it.

2. SUPERMAN / WONDER WOMAN – Issue 6 is a HUGE issue. It’s out Wednesday, March 12, and it’s stunningly drawn by Tony Daniel and the crew.  I know everything in comics is “Big, Amazing, Don’t Miss!!!” but this really IS. It pulls together everything from the first five issues and really, really goes out with a bang. If you haven’t picked up any issues of this series, get this one. I feel like that once word gets out about what we actually DID in this issue, Twitter will crack, Tumblrs will tumble, Faces will Book… you know.

3. SHE-HULK – wow, you guys dig this book. So do we. THANK YOU.

4. INHUMAN – Coming soon. Bunch of info and incredible colored Joe Mad art just released yesterday – see it here! Very pleased with how this series is coming together. The scope is huge, and it feels like a different kind of layered “powered people” storytelling than we usually see. Err… if I do say so myself.

5. RED LANTERNS – Mustache Guy! We’re building to a huge crescendo in this story of our space biker gang ruffians. The response to the Green/Red flipbook issue was tremendous, and I want to thank everyone who’s been supporting the book. If you miss my Tbolts when it’s gone, you really might enjoy my Red Lanterns, starting with Issue 21. Different, of course, but in the same family.

6. LETTER 44 – oh yeah. Big things coming. First trade’s out in July, there’s plenty of big news about this series that has been hinted at before… buy a ticket on the rocket. It’s going all the way.

7. KICKSTARTER – I’m doing one, pretty soon. What it’s about… you’ll have to see, but it’s related in part to a project I’ve talked about before on this blog. Nervous about it, and it’s a lot of work, but still very exciting. I hope you guys support it when it launches – I know KS is a little bit of a roll of the dice, but I won’t let you down.

8. THE GREY BOOK – Biggest thing I’ve ever done. You’ll see.

9. CASH – Soon.

10. SHIPS – Soon.

So, yeah. Plenty going on. And don’t worry about sophomore slump. None of this.

I love C2E2 – I’ve gone every year since its inception, and it’s always a good time.  It’s the con where 27 was picked up back in the day, it’s the con where Strange Attractors was announced (last year) and it’s the con where it will debut (this year).  I have at least one additional big announcement coming this show too.  Aside from comics, Chicago’s a really quick flight, the food’s fantastic, and I look forward to going for a run along the waterfront every year.  From Grant Park over to Millenium Park and then to Navy Pier and back – hard to beat it.

As seems to be the case every year, C2E2 changes for me based on what’s happening with my writing.  I’m not tabling this year, but I still have one of the busiest schedules I’ve ever had at a con, between panels and signings.  That’s due in large part to the release of Strange Attractors, my beautiful new hardcover OGN, published by Archaia.  I’ve posted about it before – there’s a tag on the blog if you want to see those posts, which include art and so on.  You can also read the whole thing digitally here: http://www.comixology.com/Strange-Attractors/comics-series/9685, and if you want the hardcover, you can get it at the Archaia booth at C2E2 this weekend or at finer retailers near you very shortly  – I think either May 1, 8 or 15, depending on the vagaries of international shipping.

I should also say that I was truly touched by the support people showed for my first Swamp Thing issue (#19), which came out about three weeks back.  If you scroll down, you’ll see that I was a bit nervous about it, but many of you seemed to connect with it, and that’s all I can ask.  We have some incredible stuff coming as the run continues – next issue’s out next week, in fact – and I think that if you liked 19 you’re going to love where we go from there.

Now, here’s my C2E2 schedule:

Friday, April 26

12:30- 2 PM – STRANGE ATTRACTORS SIGNING (Archaia, Booth 1019) – I’ll be signing as many copies of Strange Attractors as you can shove at me.

4:30-5:30 – DC ALL ACCESS PANEL (Room W474) -

6:00-7:00 – STRANGE ATTRACTORS SIGNING (Archaia, Booth 1019) – As before, signing away.

Saturday, April 27

12:45-1:45 PM – DC NEW 52 PANEL (Room W474) – If there’s anything you didn’t ask me on Friday at the DC panel, here’s your second chance!

2:00-3:00 PM – STRANGE ATTRACTORS SIGNING (Archaia, Booth 1019) – by now I’m sure you get the drill.

3:15-4:15 PM – POP & COMICS PANEL (Room W475b) – I’m on this panel with a bunch of other creators who have worked on music-related comics.  I’ve done this before at a number of cons, and it’s always a really interesting, compelling discussion.  If you like music OR comics, very much worth your time.

4:30-5:30 PM – MARVEL FROM NOW! TO INFINITY (Room W474) – I’ll be talking about Thunderbolts and how it ties into Marvel’s upcoming Infinity crossover.  Should be fun.

6:00-7:00 PM – STRANGE ATTRACTORS SIGNING (Archaia, Booth 1019)

Sunday, April 28

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM – STRANGE ATTRACTORS SIGNING (Archaia, Booth 1019)

It’ll be a pretty packed con, but I hope I get to see each and every one of you.  Viva Chicago!

I’m writing this on April 2, 2013, which means that tomorrow, my first issue written for one of the “Big 2″ publishers of American comics – Marvel or DC – will appear on shelves.  That issue is Swamp Thing #19.  It opens a new storyline following the completion of the long and wonderful “Rotworld” story written by Scott Snyder, with primary art from Yanick Paquette.  The penciller for 19 is Kano – he also inked his own work.  Colors were by Matt Wilson, letters by Travis Lanham, and the book was ably edited by Matt Idelson and Chris Conroy.  The cover was drawn by Andy Brase.  Every single one of them did amazing work.

Tomorrow marks a significant milestone in my comics writing career.  Writing for the Big 2 isn’t the only reason I got into comics.  Creating my own characters and stories will always be something that means more than almost anything else.  That said, I would be lying if I said that doing Big 2 work doesn’t matter to me.  It does. A lot.  Swamp Thing and other characters in DC’s stable are folks I’ve seen interacting in a thousand different ways since I was very young.  There probably hasn’t been a single day since I was about six that I haven’t seen a DC character.  My Mego Superman was one of my most prized possessions for several years starting with my seventh birthday.  The impact of the DC characters on the world over the past 70+ years is immense.  Same’s true of Marvel (although for a bit less time, of course). 

Are they “just” superheroes?  Sure.  Do these comics tell deep stories that touch people’s lives?  Sometimes, but more often they’re just disposable entertainment.  Still, for me, getting to be part of that shared tradition of writers and artists – craftspeople, really – stretching back over the decades… it’s meaningful to me on a level that surprised me.  I had a conversation with a friend recently at a con (it was probably Jim Zub, since he’s the guy I tend to chat with about stuff like this): Detective Comics 27 came out in 1939, so a little over 70 years ago.  There have been a ton of Batman comics since then, especially if you bring in the ancillary titles like Batman & Robin, Legends of the Dark Knight and so on, but still, we figured that less than five hundred writers have ever written a Batman comic in all that time.  Swamp Thing’s even crazier – the comic debuted in 1971, forty years back.  In that time, there have been seventeen people who have written this character in his flagship title.  I’m the eighteenth, starting tomorrow.  And the names on that list of seventeen – literally some of the most brilliant comics writers to ever touch the medium.  Look it up for yourself if you don’t believe me.  It’s humbling and intimidating and wonderful, all at once.

I know some of those folks (awesome people one and all), and they might think it’s ridiculous that I’m saying this, but it feels almost like a bit of a fellowship.  Swamp Thing is just a silly comic character owned by a huge corporation – and not even someone big like Superman.  He’s a walking plant dude, for god’s sake.  I could be kicked off the book ignominiously in two issues, or it could be cancelled if it doesn’t sell.  But you know what? I’m still going to do my very best work. Anything less wouldn’t be true to the other writers who came before me, and those who will inevitably come after me.  I don’t want to let any of those people down (even the guys who will make fun of me for writing this the next time I see them at a con), and I don’t want to let myself down.  Whether you like superhero books or not, there’s a legacy of shared creation in that part of the medium that’s like nothing else in comics.  Everything I do on Swamp Thing can be traced back through the years in a winding trail leading back to the very first issue.  All those ideas, all those images, all that brilliance – and now it’s my turn.  I best not fuck it up.

It’s just Swamp Thing.  But it’s not “just” anything, really.

The issue is done, the work is complete.  It’s hitting stands tomorrow, unless the world ends.  We’re hard at work wrapping up the next one, and making solid progress on the next after that.  That’s Big 2 monthly comics, though – you only get a moment to take a breath and appreciate what you’ve made before it’s time to look ahead.  That’s why I wanted to write this, to crystallize for a moment in my own mind what it’s meant to have worked so long and so hard, and to finally be at the point where I’ll go to the shop tomorrow and see a Big 2 book with my name on the cover.

It doesn’t mean everything, and if it hadn’t ever happened I’d still be thrilled to be making comics – I’ve already been incredibly fortunate with my comics work up to this point – but it means a lot.

If you pick up Swamp Thing 19 at the store tomorrow, or download it (one way or another), I hope you enjoy it.  I loved making it, and I hope there will be many, many more to come.

Tomorrow morning, at the moderately ungodly hour of 7:45 AM, I shall begin my annual spring journey westward to celebrate the weekend-long commencement of convention season that is Emerald City Comicon.  I’ve written about ECCC several times before, so I won’t rehash in any great detail.  We’ll leave it at this: it’s in Seattle, and it’s one of the best shows around.  ECCC is the first major comic convention of the year for most folks, and then there’s at least one big show per month all the way through to New York Comicon in October.  I try to keep it to one per month, because there’s a point where the fun of hanging out at shows is no longer outweighed by the stress and intensity of getting to them.

In any case, I haven’t been to a big con in about five months, so I’m rested and ready to rock.  I’m really looking forward to this weekend – these shows are like weird family reunions.  Actually, who am I kidding – family reunions are nowhere near as fun as cons.

I have a lot going on at ECCC this time around, and I wanted to post my schedule so that if any of you want to find me, you can.  After the schedule, I’ll give the lowdown on the various projects I have in the hopper – some cool things to report.

First, I will be sitting at table I-15 in Artist’s Alley for the majority of the show.  I’ll be near an amazing set of creators, so even if you could care less about chatting with me, it’ll still be worth your time to hit up section I.  ECCC always has one of the best Artist’s Alleys around, and I can’t imagine this year will be any exception.  I will have the following things for sale:

27 (First Set and Second Set trades)

Strongman (Vol. 1 and the always impossible to find Vol. 2 – both of these will be pretty limited quantities, though)

The ECCC variant cover version of Strange Attractors #1 – 26 pages of absolutely gorgeous images of New York City and mathematicians doing nefarious things with complexity theory.  Also limited in number.  We only made fifty, and I’m holding a bunch back for various purposes. Here’s what the cover looks like:

Emeraldy!

Emeraldy!

T-shirts! I still have some 27 shirts left, and I’ll bring what I have.

I will be on three panels:

1. ARCHAIA PRESENTS: HOW I BROKE INTO COMICS (AND HOW YOU CAN TOO!) -Friday, 4 PM, Room 3AB.  This will be a great opportunity for aspiring writers and artists to learn how a number of established pros got into the business. Aside from me, you’ll also be able to hear from Royden Lepp (Rust), David Marquez (Ultimate Spider-Man), David Petersen (Mouse Guard) and others.
2. THE ONI PRESS “REVOLUTIONIZE COMICS” PANEL -Saturday, 6PM, Room 3AB.  Oni’s going to be announcing a new title here, and if you’re at all interested in whether or not that’s a series I’m writing (it is), then come, enjoy.  I would guess you’ll get to see some of the amazing art from… ah, well, wait and see.  Honestly, I’m incredibly proud of this project, and I’m thrilled that I’ll finally get to tell you guys something about it.  Even if you could care less about what I have going on, the panel will also boast Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt from Sixth Gun, and Joelle Jones (working with Cullen on Helheim.)  Oni panels are always fun.
3. WRITERS UNITE – Sunday, 12:20, Hall C. I’ve done this panel four or five times at conventions across the country, and it is a DO NOT MISS event.  The ever-voluble and informative Jim Zub moderates a panel of skilled, successful writers (and me) as we share our thoughts on successful comics writing.  It covers everything from story techniques to pitching to format to networking.  No subject is off the table, and it’s often wildly funny.  The emphasis is on practical, useful information that isn’t typically disseminated.  This year, the panel will feature Jim, me, Cullen Bunn and possibly another foxy young comics superstar. Really worth your time if you want to write comics, and I’m not just saying that because I’m on the panel.
Beyond the panels, I’ll also be signing posters and the ECCC Strange Attractors variant at the Archaia booth, #808, on Saturday from 1-2 and Sunday from 10-11.
Should be a great show – looking forward to seeing all of you.
And now, a few quick updates on what’s what…
First, SWAMP THING. All is well.  Very well, I think/hope.  The art for my first issue is incredible, the cover looks sweet, and basically, I can’t wait until the first week of April when you guys can take a look.  I’m scripted fairly far ahead, and I’ve got detailed outlines for up to the end of the year.  Swampy’s in for a wild ride. (Speaking of which, I really need to do a post on my research trip down to Louisiana.  That was a great time, and I learned a lot.)  I wish I could tell you more than this, and I’ll see if I can’t get approval to post some art.  By and large, though, I think fans of the character will be happy, and we might even convert some of those sad folks ignorant of the greatness that is Swamp Thing.
If you want to hear more about my approach to the story and working in DC in general, I’d recommend this podcast.  It’s a great, detailed conversation between Josh Flanagan of iFanboy.com and myself.  We talk about Swamp Thing and so on, but also the creator-owned stuff and working in comics in general.
STRANGE ATTRACTORS – my next big OGN project, is available in digital chapters now from Comixology.  Get it here.  It’s a fun story about two complexity mathematicians who use their theories to turn all of New York City into sort of a giant machine, and what happens when they turn it on.  The full, gorgeous hardcover (which I have seen in mockup form and CANNOT WAIT to hold in my hands) will be available in late April, it seems.  It came out incredibly well, especially the design.  A large part of the story revolves around these intricate maps of NYC’s systems, and those were incorporated into the book design in a very cool way.
There’s also the new thing for Oni, which I’ll talk more about next week, plus a totally unannounced limited series that I think will start around August, being drawn by a very talented friend of mine, and a one-shot featuring a character that’s arguably the entire reason people decide they want to work in comics in the first place.
See you in Seattle!

As I’ve mentioned here and there on my Twitter, I’m going to have a special 26-page preview of Strange Attractors available at New York Comicon this coming weekend.  It’s a limited edition thing, only 100 copies, and we did up a special cover for it.  It’s super cool, and I just got them in, so I thought I would show you the cover so you know what to look for at the show.  Here you go:

Cool, right? This combines designs by Robert Saywitz and Matthew Petz – REAL NICE.

 

You can get it, along with the other stuff I’ll have (lots of 27, Strongman, etc.) at table R6 in Artist’s Alley.  I also expect to have a few at my Archaia signings.  I’ll post up my schedule for the week soon – typically crazy, but wonderful.  I hope we all survive all that fun.

Rocker.com, the “lifestyle magazine for mature hipsters,” included me in a profile of various comic creators who also play music from time to time, along with folks like Mike Allred and Joe Quesada.  It’s a great article, and includes a bonus YouTube clip of me playing “Silent Running” with my band.  (Fun fact – that song doesn’t work without keys, and that clip doesn’t have keys. Hooray!)

Anyway, here’s the link: http://www.rockerzine.com/index.php/2012/09/comic-guys-who-rock/

I need to get out and play more than I have been.  While I’m beyond thrilled that I have as much writing to do as I do, music scratches an entirely different itch.

 

I’m September’s Peculiar Person of the Month on the This Peculiar Life blog!  What this means in practice is that I did a very in-depth interview for the site and provided some great photos from Seth Kushner and Sandy Pertuz.  Lots of stuff on future and current projects, as well as thoughts on writing, travel, NYC and all kinds of stuff.  Thanks to David Rondinelli for setting it all up – check it out here:

http://weirdlifenyc.blogspot.com/2012/09/septembers-peculiar-person-of-month_3451.html

With NYCC coming up, by the way, seems like it’s a good time to do a state of the union on all the stuff I have in the works right now… but I will save that for next time, as there’s work to be done!

(Particularly this week – I’ve been in jury duty for several days, and it was astonishing to see how dependent I’ve become on being able to quickly bounce from one task to another – phone to computer to whatever.  It was a bit torturous to know my to-do list was getting longer and longer and not be able to do a thing about it.)

I saw The Dark Knight Rises last night.  Packed theater, lots of energy in the crowd, and I was able to get great seat by virtue of showing up more than an hour early. (I live in NYC, where the one constant is lines.  Because so many people live here, everywhere you go, anything you do, other people go and do it too.  And if it’s something particularly cool or anticipated… well.)

I liked the movie a lot.  I think that Nolan obviously set out to tell a finite Batman story through the three films (or perhaps that’s what he decided to do once he realized WB would allow him to, after the success of Batman Begins.)  It’s not the story of the comics version of Batman, but it’s A story of Batman, and in many respects a fantastic one – one of the best we’ve ever had, and certainly the best on film.  One of the reasons Batman has endured for more than 70 years is his incredible flexibility – you can have Batmen as distinct from one anoter as the one in the 60s show, the original comic version, Miller’s 80s-90s work, the day-glo Batman from Schumacher’s films, the mildly comic (but still badass) Batman from The Brave and the Bold and so many more.  I’ve seen a bunch of complaints about people being upset because ‘Batman wouldn’t do that…”  The thing is, Batman DID do that, in The Dark Knight Rises.  When a creator as talented as Nolan makes a film out of an established property, if you prevent yourself from getting into his version just because it’s not the way you’ve seen it done before, then you’re cutting yourself off from something potentially inspired.  The movie exists as the movie exists.  Calling one story beat or another “bad” for the sole reason that it’s not how many other creators working with the character have done it before is ridiculous.  Do we really want to see the same thing over and over again?  I know that many do, but for me, seeing a take on Batman that acknowledged the physical, mental and spiritual toll such a path would cost was exactly what the doctor ordered.  We see what being Batman did to Bruce Wayne, and we understand why he kept going regardless.  That’s Batman to me.
Can’t wait to see it again.

So, that’s my take on the film.  I can’t end this post, though, without talking about what happened in Aurora, Colorado last week.  Insanity and evil have always been a part of human society.  Sometimes we are able to prevent tragedies before they occur, and sometimes, god help us, we just have to deal with the aftermath.  I don’t think it’s American society and its easy access to guns that’s to blame – if that fellow hadn’t been able to get a gun he’d have found another way to kill, probably.  Things like this happen all over the world, even in countries with strict gun control laws.  Off the top of my head, there’s the psychopath who opened up at the summer camp in Norway, the Aum Shinrikyo attacks in Tokyo subways, the Madrid and London bombings, etc.  I know that if I hit up Google I could find dozens of similar events – but that’s not how I feel like spending even a part of my morning.  For the record, I do wish it were harder to get some of the truly deadly weapons with no apparent purpose beyond the murder of humans (handguns and assault weapons), but as I said, I’m not sure that would have prevented James Holmes from doing something horrific.

The difference between last week’s tragedy and, say, Columbine (at least for me), is that millions of people around the country are replicating the exact experience the victims had before the attack began.  The killer in Aurora began firing right when the first big shootout occurs in The Dark Knight Rises.  Going forward, everyone who sees the film in the theater sees the same images as the Century 16 crowd, sits in a theater very similar to the Colorado space, and yet we walk out a few hours later talking about Bane or Catwoman, and twelve people in Aurora did not.  We did nothing differently than they did.  We walked the same path in basically every way.  It’s not like saying “Oh, I went to high school – wouldn’t that have been terrible if some kid came in and…” or “I ride the subway every day, wouldn’t it be awful if…”  Those are nothing more than rough analogies – we’ve had experiences like the ones surrounding other tragedies.  In this case, however, this one, strange, horrible situation, it’s easy to imagine precisely what it was like for the people in that Colorado theater.  In fact, (for me), it was hard not to.  It’s like the country now has thousands of theaters which are inadvertently letting moviegoers role-play part of that godawful nightmare.  Strange and horrible.

What does this mean?  It’s just an observation, and I don’t know that I want to put it in some larger political context, or hope that the potential resonance of the experience causes some sort of political change.  This is just a silly little personal blog, after all.  Perhaps the inevitable cultural longevity of Dark Knight Rises will keep people thinking about tragedies like the Aurora shootings a little more than they otherwise would, as the blu-ray hits, and the inevitable three-pack, and it ends up on year-end lists, and so on.  And if that happens, perhaps people will reach out more, give more help, take better care… hard to say.  Anything’s possible.  The Dark Knight Rises is no longer just a movie – certainly for worse, but maybe just a tiny bit for better, as well.

 

 

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