Archive for June, 2010

30
Jun
10

Classic EBI #53: Year One

In today’s Everything But Imaginary column, I take a look at the new Wonder Woman costume, debuting in today’s Wonder Woman #600, as well as a look back at other superhero costume changes over the years. You can check that out over at Comixtreme.com — EBI #357: “Wonder”Ful New Togs.

In today’s classic EBI, it’s time to look back in time at the first anniversary of Everything But Imaginary. From March 10, 2003…

Everything But Imaginary #53: Year One

Well my friends, here we are. One year ago, I took my first tentative steps out into the big world of Comixtreme and gave you your first helping of Everything But Imaginary. Okay, technically, it was one year ago on Friday, March 12, but my column comes out on Wednesdays, so we’re partying now. Wednesdays just happen to be the most eagerly-anticipated day of the week for comic fans, after all. Sure, some people say that’s because Wednesday is the day the new comics go on sale, but we here at Everything But Imaginary Global Headquarters like to think we have a little something to do with it as well.

How long have we been here? Well, when we started, Firestorm was Ronnie Raymond, Robin was a guy and Janet was considered the relatively wholesome member of the Jackson family, right after Peter. My how times change.

The purpose of that first column, 52 whole weeks ago, was to talk about what makes good comics good, how to make bad comics better, and what it will take to make our little niche artform a mass medium again. That in mind, I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year dispensing advise, so while you guys are enjoying your cake and punch (Brandon Schatz is serving it in the corner over there), I thought I’d take a little time to look back at some of the things I’ve said and see if anyone’s bothered to take my advice.

• Way back in the very first EBI, “Love Spandex-Style,” I wrote about romance in the world of comic books. Back then I said that “It’s starting to look like the most promising love story in comics will soon be between Snow White and the Big Bad Wolf.” Well, flipping through recent issues of Fables shows us that love affair has progressed — Snow White is, in fact, pregnant with Bigby’s… child? Litter? (Help us out here, Bill Willingham.) Of course, since they were under mind-control when she actually got pregnant and now Snow White doesn’t even want to talk to Bigby, things aren’t as rosy as they once were. Still, things are better for them than Blue Boy and Red Riding Hood.

Interestingly, the second-best love story in modern comics is still underway in Dork Tower, where despite the best machinations of his friends, Matt McLimore still hasn’t come together with Gilly the Perky Goth. As silly and goofy as this title is, John Kovalic has created some real touching, heartwarming characters, and when it was revealed in Dork Tower #27 that Gilly is going to Europe for grad school, I actually shouted at the comic. This is going to be part of the newest ad campaign — “Dork Tower: It’s Scream at the Comic Book Good!”

• In June Diamond Comics president Nick Barrucci went off on the problems in the comic book industry, and his venting sent me off on a four-part rant about things that comics screw up, which frankly, I still consider some of my best work. In those four parts I dissected the state of the comic book store, story structure, public perceptions of the comic book industry and trying to get women to read comics. Out of those four categories, the only change I’ve seen is that I’ve got my friend Ronée reading comics again, and she’s writing her own column here now, so I couldn’t be prouder of that.

• On Aug. 6 I presented, “Waddling Towards Gethsemane,” my first in-depth look at Disney comic books, which was met by a resounding yawn here on the site. I guess I should have expected that, this isn’t a Disney crowd, but I maintain that stuff like Uncle Scrooge makes for a great all-ages comic book that most of you would enjoy if you could put aside the stigma of it being a “kid’s comic” and just read it. I also urged Gemstone, the company now publishing Disney comics, to shift Uncle Scrooge and Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories into a lower-priced format (it’s $6.95 an issue now) that kids could enjoy. Thus far, no luck, but I’ll keep trying. (2010 Note: As it turned out, it took a change of publishers to get that price point dropped.)

• Of greater interest, that same week I premiered my “Favorite of the Week” feature in EBI, where I singled out, in my opinion, the best title released that week. Since then that honor has been won the most by Mark Waid’s Fantastic Four, which won (appropriately enough) four times. Fables scored three times, JSA, Avengers and Superman/Batman won twice each, and single wins have been recorded for Flash, Ultimate Spider-Man, Sojourn, Sandman: Endless Nights, Scion, H-E-R-O, New X-Men, Amazing Spider-Man, Uncle Scrooge, Arrowsmith, Dork Tower, PVP, Plastic Man, Superman: Secret Identity, G.I. Joe: Cobra Reborn, My Faith in Frankie and Legion. Scott Williams gave a fifth nod to Fantastic Four the week he sat in during the Great Comixtreme Column Switch, although had I written the column that week, the winner would have been another Mark Waid title, Empire.

• Aug. 13 brought us “Tripping the Light Fantastic,” in which I took a look at fantasy comics. More imporantly, though, this was the first column in which I specifically mentioned that I wrote a novel, the superhero-comedy Other People’s Heroes, in the body of the column instead of just the disclaimer at the end that half of you don’t read anyway. This is particularly significant because the book, the superhero-comedy Other People’s Heroes, is still very much available from fine online booksellers everywhere and I have a car note to pay off. (2010 Note: This is no longer the case. The “still available” part. But starting tomorrow, you can download the audiobook!)

• Following in the footsteps of the fantasy column, on Aug. 27 I took a look at science fiction comics with “To the Stars By Hard Ways.” The significant thing about this, of course, is that CrossGen comics took a blurb from this column and put it on the cover of their fantastic book, Negation, which was the first real evidence I had that people besides my friends, family and Doug Norris were actually reading this column on a weekly basis.

• On Nov. 12 I wrote what remains to this day the most popular column in the series, “The Best Comics I’ve Never Read.” The reason this was so popular, I think, is because I let you guys tell me what to do for once. I asked for suggestions as to some great graphic novels I haven’t read that I should pick up and I got flooded with answers. The column was so popular that I brought it back just a few weeks ago after discovering a few gems like Hellboy and The Liberty Project, and I intend to revisit the topic every few months, whenever I’ve read a few of the books on the list.

• With the new year, as happens from time to time, came the month of January, and with January I presented the first-ever Everything But Imaginary Awards, in which I and you, my slavishly devoted readers, made our selections for the best comics of 2003. I’m still amazed at some of the votes I got (particularly the person who voted for The Ultimates as best all-ages title) and I’m still heartbroken that I had to disqualify Sentinel from the category for best cancelled comic on the grounds that it hadn’t actually been cancelled yet, because clearly a lot of you really loved that book. Don’t worry, it’ll be eligible for that category next year.

So that just about brings us up to date on things here at Everything But Imaginary International Headquarters. I like to think we’ve learned a few things. I like to think we’ve made a few points. I like to think there is a silent majority of female comic book fans who read this column every week and are strategizing to meet me in a bar the next time I go to the Chicago Comicon.

Mostly, I like to think we’ve had some fun. Thanks to Doug and Jason for giving me a shot here at the first place, Craig Reade for showing me the ropes, Andrea Speed for not using those same ropes to strangle me, Ronée Garcia Bourgeois just for being her and everybody else who’s read and responded to this column over the past year. If you’ve enjoyed it, tell your friends! (If you didn’t, tell your enemies!) And come back next week, because if there’s one thing I know about the second year of a column, it’s that it almost always follows the first one.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: March 3, 2004

Vertigo’s side-splitting miniseries My Faith In Frankie narrowly took the prize for my favorite comic last week (just squeaking past G.I. Joe Reborn). In the third issue of this (sadly) four-issue limited series, Mike Carey and Sonny Liew continue their tale of a woman in love, the god who has always watched over her, the demonic man who is stealing her affections and the dumbfounded best friend who just wants to know what’s happening. This is a wonderful romantic comedy/fantasy, and I don’t know what I would rather see, a sequel or a trade paperback collection. I’d really like both, because I love these characters and want to see more, and because I suspect this is a book that would really find its much-deserved audience in the secondary market.

Blake M. Petit is the author of a novel, the superhero-comedy Other People’s Heroes, the stage play, The 3-D Radio Show, and a regular column in the St. Charles Herald-Guide. If you’re thinking about getting him flowers for his anniversary, he likes lilacs. E-mail him at Blake@comixtreme.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast and the weekly audio fiction podcast Blake M. Petit’s Evercast. E-mail him at Blake@comixtreme.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.

29
Jun
10

What I’m Reading: Haunt Vol. 1

A couple of years ago, Robert Kirkman famously called out Image Comics co-founder Todd McFarlane on his lack of production of new comics in recent years. This was before Kirkman was made an Image partner himself, by the way. The end result of that confrontation was a Kirkman/McFarlane collaboration, a new series called Haunt. Being a fan of Kirkman, I immediately wanted to sample it. Not really being a fan of McFarlane, however, I was skeptical. I decided to split the difference and wait for the trade paperback of the first story arc.

In Haunt Vol. 1 we’re introduced to Daniel Kilgore, a priest who has little faith and less conviction. Daniel has a deep anger against his brother, Kurt, a special ops agent who comes to Daniel frequently to confess his many, bloody sins. When Kurt is killed in action, his ghost is anchored to Daniel, and together they begin to manifest a terrible power.

Haunt’s main problem, frankly, is the lack of originality. From a power standpoint, he comes across as a mixture of Spider-Man and Spawn (the two characters McFarlane is most associated with). He’s even got a weird sort of ectoplasmic webbing that he uses the same way Peter Parker uses his own webs. Kirkman has done fine with with archetypes before — his own Invincible started off with the basic premise of what would it be like to have Superman as a father, after all. But with that book, he took a familiar starting point and went somewhere new. Everything in this book feels like it’s been cobbled together from other sources, even the “brother’s ghost” bit feels like it was cribbed from Marvel’s Brother Voodoo.

The book isn’t a total loss, fortunately. Kirkman is the writer on the project, and he’s very good at establishing and explaining his characters right away. He gives Daniel a real, legitimate motivation for hating his brother the way he does, and he’s set up a pretty extensive supporting cast in the course of five issues. There’s certainly potential here. It’s all going to depend on the direction the story goes.

The artwork, like the story, feels like a patchwork. We’ve got Greg Capullo doing layouts, Ryan Ottley doing the finished pencils, and McFarlane inking the whole thing. The assembly line process may be the only way the book is going to be released without massive delays (anybody still waiting for McFarlane to finish his parts of Image United #3?) and as the whole point of this was to get him out there creating comics again, it would be rather pointless to do the book without him.

I’m not totally sold on this series yet, but I’ll probably give volume two a try, if for no other reason than to see if Kirkman manages to get to those unusual places he so often finds a way to reach.

28
Jun
10

Why doesn’t MY dad say these things?

I’m sure by now you’ve all heard of the world-famous Twitter account Sh*t My Dad Says. You may have heard of the book as well. You may even be aware of the fact that there’s a television series based on this Twitter account premiering on CBS this fall, starring William Shatner as the titular “Dad.” And I am utterly astonished.

People have been posting wacky stuff on the internet for some time now. Lots of them have even turned those wacky things into books. Many of these books are even entertaining. But I am in utter astonishment that this man’s Twitter account has been optioned and turned into a television show.

Now I don’t begrudge him this fact. Someone offered him good money for this, and he took it, and more power to him. I’m just stunned that American television is now turning to Twitter for its ideas, although I suppose that’s better than another dismal attempt at turning a British sitcom into an American one. Or even worse, 100 Questions.

I’m also a bit stunned at the property itself. The dad in question appears to be the sort of guy who has reached a certain age and has decided, “I’m old, I don’t give a damn what people think of me, I’m going to say whatever I want.” I have nothing against such a gentleman. I sincerely hope to be one of those men some day. But it also makes me wonder just what my dad says that could potentially net me a book and movie deal. Here are some examples:

“I don’t know how we didn’t kill ourselves.”

“Where’s that… that thing that changes the channel?”

“A guy walks into a psychiatrist’s office with a pelican on his head. The psychiatrist says, ‘Can I help you?’ The pelican says, ‘Yeah, get this guy out from under me’.”

Let’s try harder, Dad. We can do this together.

27
Jun
10

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 175: The Heroic Age, Jonah Hex, and Superhero Shorts

The Showcase gang sits down at a bookstore after an eventful day for a chat on recent comic events. The guys discuss the proposed Marvel short films, the DC animated shorts, several recent Heroic Age comics, the wreck that was the Jonah Hex movie, and much more! In the picks, Mike is re-reading Fables Vol. 4 (and using the books to draw in a new comic book reader), Kenny picks Secret Avengers #1 and Blake loved Supergirl #53. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@comixtreme.com!

Episode 176: The Heroic Age, Jonah Hex, and Superhero Shorts
Inside This Episode:

26
Jun
10

Observations at the Gun Show

Today, Kenny managed to convince us to accompany him to a gun and knife show. Having never attended such an event before, I of course felt the need to make observations.

1. If you think the male/female ratio at a comic convention is skewed, come to one of these things.
2. Weapons with names like “Raging Bull” are specifically designed to make the male of the species feel inadequate.
3. When your booth has 3500 firearms, proper spelling on your signage is not a priority.
4. Okay, the promotional pins from the 1936 Berlin Olympics are actually pretty fascinating.
5. The concept of “Thunderwear,” however, is strangely empowering.
6. There is something incongruous about the guy with the hunting rifle wearing an Eric Clapton t-shirt.
7. Things you can purchase that are neither guns nor knives: Tom Clancy novels, nipple rings, a skateboard, frowning monkey stickers, fuzzy pink handcuffs (sorry, Erin, Kenny saw them first), Prince Albert in a can, beef jerky, and an accordion.
8. As cool as the laser pointer shaped like an assault rifle is, I probably can’t use it in my class.
9. Within ten minutes, Kenny decided he did not bring enough money. The rest of us, conversely, had too much.
10. The New Orleans Saints Superbowl commemorative pocketknife will no doubt be a hot gift this holiday season.
11. The pocketknife with “Ho! Ho! Ho!” stamped into the handle, however, merely raises questions.
12. Overheard: “This is the one I shocked myself with this morning.” And she meant it, too.
13. My one purchase: a ballpoint pen with a concealed knife. Kenny’s brother-in-law Shane: “You really don’t like those kids, do you?” (Please note: I will not be bringing this pen to school.)
14. The hand-stamp to get in just says “GUN.” There is no ambiguity here. If you’re just here to buy a knife, or an accordion, you are unfairly marked. You’re Hester Prynne.
15. At one point, I saw a sweet little granny selling Zip-Loc bags with brownies in them. Upon closer inspection, the word on the bag was BROWNING. I’m not sure what was in it, but I’m fairly sure most of the people in attendance could have used it to kill me.
16. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to convince Kenny to buy a pink taser. But you know he wanted one. Take note, friends, when you begin your Christmas shopping.
17. The mounted squirrel with the halo and angel wings is more than a little creepy.
18. At one point, Kenny refers to a rather large gun as “my wet dream.” We decide to give them some alone time.
19. I am surprised at the many types of designer ammunition available. Would you rather have your head blown off by the Reaper or the Avenger?
20. Me: “I’m telling you, Kenny, a pink, come-hither handgun, left on the coffee table, without comment.”
21. Kenny was not comfortable leaving until he bought something “stabby.”
22. Upon leaving I was dismayed to see that outside there had been a homemade fudge booth. “You got something stabby and something clubby, Kenny, but they have something CHOCOLATEY.”

25
Jun
10

Important rules for recording characters…

So I’m recording Other People’s Heroes as an audio book. You may have heard about it. I’ve been working for a few months now on developing different character voices, and while I’ll never be Mel Blanc, I think I’ve got at least enough versatility that you’ll know who is saying what when you’re listening. That in mind, I’ve learned a few rules about character voices.

1. Not everybody can do a “gravelly” voice.

2. When your default “female” voice is to just go higher, you’ve gotta find other ways to distinguish them from each other.

3. Seriously, if you can’t do “gravelly,” stop trying. There’s no shame in it and you’re just going to hurt your throat.

4. Stupid characters are really fun to record.

5. Dammit, why did you give two major characters gravelly pitch characteristics? You can’t even do one without reaching for the honey and lemon? Are you a moron?

6. If your book is in first person, it really helps if the main character just speaks with your default voice.

7. Fine, then, ruin your throat! SEE IF I CARE!

8. Theatre training in accents can be a big help.

9. At least have a bottle of water with you when you record, idiot.

24
Jun
10

Other People’s Heroes-Coming July 1, 2010 (Evercast #19)

It’s finally coming, friends! After months of planning, teasing, and promising, the next big adventure for the Evercast begins next week.

Other People’s Heroes-Coming July 1, 2010 (Evercast #19)

Now those of you who have followed my exploits for a long time will remember Other People’s Heroes. It was my first novel, and in many ways, the crux of everything I’ve written since then. I was planning for a time to serialize my book Cross-Purposes next, and while I still intend to bring you that story eventually, I realized a while back that I was doing everything in the wrong order. You have to understand something about the way I write, ladies and gentlemen. When I write a new story, I very often turn to older stories of mine for the foundation. When I’m thinking ahead to the next story, I plant seeds that will bear fruit later on down the line. Now that doesn’t mean that, in order to understand one of my stories, you’ve got to read them all. I don’t want anybody to feel like they have to read each and every thing I write. I want them to want to read each and every thing I write, but I digress.

I work very hard to make each story – unless it’s a direct sequel – something that can stand on its own. But I also love writers that build a larger universe, a larger tapestry in the stories that they tell. Stephen King is the master of this, for example. Christopher Moore has a lot of this in his work. The FDO himself, Scott Sigler, is building his Siglerverse even as we speak. I don’t want you to have to read all of my stories, but for those of you who do, I want it to pay off. I want you to see the character who shows up in The Restless Dead of Siegel City who made her first appearance in Lost in Silver and know who she is. When someone mentions a Curtis Dupré film in Opening Night of the Dead, I want you to remember him from The Beginner. I want you to be able to look back at the throwaway line in Other People’s Heroes and see how it was actually a clue to one of the core mysteries of 14 Days of Asphalt. It’s a long process, friends, I know. Trust me, it’s longer for me than it is for you. But I also think that people who stick with me will see it eventually pay off.
But I realized along the way that, for the sake of those people who do enjoy putting together the puzzle, it’s vital that I give you the pieces in the right order. Sure, if you listened to Cross-Purposes this summer, you’d get a great adventure story. But if you listen to it after you listen to Other People’s Heroes, you’ll notice bits and pieces of the world that you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. If you read Opening Night of the Dead you’re going to get a zombie story unlike any you’ve ever read before, but if you remember It’s Time to Play the Music then you’ll know who the characters are and you may figure out what’s behind the curtain a little sooner than everybody else.

You see what I’m getting at here, friends?

And the truth is, in the worlds that make up the Evertime Realms, Other People’s Heroes comes first.

And that means, for those of you listening to Blake M. Petit’s Evercast, Other People’s Heroes should come first.

In fact, it should come next week.

Now if you’re one of the proud, the few, who read Other People’s Heroes when it first came out – well, first of all, God bless you. Second, the podcast that I’m about to start is not going to be exactly what you read the first time. Don’t worry, I didn’t take away any of your favorite characters – the Conductor is still there, playing his music. Particle is still the smartest guy in the room, and Doctor Noble is still the man you’re going to love to hate. But there are some dated references that have been removed and some scenes added to flesh out a character that needed it, plus a little bit of a tweak to the ending that I think you’ll agree with me is very cool. If you didn’t read Other People’s Heroes, don’t worry, you’re in the majority. So here’s your chance to get in on the ground floor of something that’s going to be as cool as hell.

Imagine that you’ve lived your entire life in a world full of superheroes. Imagine that you’ve spent years worshipping the caped champions that protect your city, reviling the villains out to rule the world, and wishing that you could take your place among the guardians of justice. That’s what’s about to happen to reporter Josh Corwood. But when Josh’s dream comes true, he learns that these heroes he loves so much may be more “man” than “super,” and they may need a kid from the outside to remind them what being a hero is really about.

If you think superheroes are awesome, I agree. If you think the concept of the superhero is silly, I agree. And there’s no reason those two visions can’t fit together. It’s funny, it’s exciting, and it starts next Thursday. Come back on July 1, 2010, friends, for the first chapter of Other People’s Heroes.

Other People’s Heroes is part of Blake M. Petit’s Evercast, written and performed by the author. Theme song, “Last of the Superheroes,” by American Heartbreak, courtesy of MusicAlley.com. Cover art by Jacob Bascle, FreemindGraphx.com and VisionaryComics.com. Evercast theme by Jeff Hendricks, JeffHendricks.net. Evercast logo by Heather Petit Keller.

E-mail me at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com

Creative Commons License
Blake M. Petit’s Evercast by Blake M. Petit is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at www.evertimerealms.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.evertimerealms.com.




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