Archive for March, 2011

31
Mar
11

I’ll stop talking about having a book in the Kindle store as soon as it stops being awesome…

Here’s a sweet link for you — the Kindle Author Blog interviewed me about OPH. (Thanks to Joe Green for directing me there!) Read it, love it, and if you haven’t done so already, go grab your copy of Other People’s Heroes from Amazon.com’s Kindle store or the Smashwords eBook store!

Also, if you’ve already got the book, or if you read the original version of the novel, or if you listened to the audio podcast, or if you can thread together two coherent sentences, please pop on over to Amazon and Smashwords and write a review of the book! It seems like a little thing, but reviews help to boost the profile of products on Amazon and will help more people find the book. And it would make me your new best friend.

30
Mar
11

Classic EBI #83: Spoiler Space

The world is full of comic book nerds, especially in Hollywood… but why don’t we see a lot of original superhero characters outside of comics? Can superheroes only thrive in one medium?

Everything But Imaginary #392: Medium Defiance

And in this week’s classic EBI, let’s look back at Oct. 6, 2004, when I thought about all the spoilers that were invading the internet… and I… struck… back…

Classic EBI #83: Spoiler Space

Now that we’ve all had a chance to read Detective Comics #799, wow, what a shocker, huh? I never suspected that Robin’s father, Jack Drake, would be killed by the Joker and a hermaphroditic gerbil on PCP. Talk about a shocker!

What? Oh, you mean you guys haven’t read it yet? You mean it won’t even be available to purchase for several more hours? Oh, gosh, I feel terrible now. Wow, it’s a good thing that everything I said there was complete and total rubbish, isn’t it? But now that I’ve got your attention, this would be a good time to talk about spoilers.

A “spoiler,” of course, is any piece of information regarding the plot of a story that you didn’t know yet, in essence, “spoiling” it for you. The term “spoiler” was coined because “ruiner” sounds funky. And before we go on much further, in case you didn’t get it, I was lying in the first paragraph. Being the kind, benevolent, dashing, callipygian, modest columnist-type-person that I am, I would never actually tell you what happened in Detective Comics #799 because that would spoil it for you. Also because some of you may know where I live.

For as long as there has been fiction, there have been spoilers. If you go back to the 1500s you can find scrolls written by people talking about that startling new play wherein, at the end, SPOILERS AHEAD! Romeo and Juliet both kill themselves. But since the invention of the Internet, spoilers have become a much bigger problem because now people have the ability to opine from anywhere in the world to anywhere in the world as fast as the information can be processed in their brains. Or, more frequently, their mouths, since often people on the Internet have found ways to bypass their brains altogether.

This problem, of course, is not exclusive to comic books. Websites like Ain’t It Cool News make their name by giving out juicy spoilers for movies far in advance (and conveniently forgetting about it when the spoiler turns out not to be true), but at least they have the courtesy to stamp a big warning label before the spoiler appears. This, unfortunately, will not stop idiots from e-mailing it to you or blabbing it in a chatroom, but in this day and age, that’s the price you pay for daring to get out of bed in the morning.

You can also spoil books – I’m a big fan of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, and frequently visit a message board devoted to such. When the advance review copies of the last book in that well-loved series began to circulate a month or so ago, there was a massive storm on that board between the people who were hurling spoilers around right and left and the people who didn’t want to know. One jerk actually went so far as to post the entire plot of the book in the middle of a thread where people were congratulating the administrator for pulling the plug on spoilers. Another popped into a chatroom and spouted out the ending to people who hadn’t read it yet. And this is for the end of a series that some people have been reading for 22 years. There is a word for people who do that sort of thing. However, I will not tell you what that word is since the CXPulp.com filter would most likely block it out anyway. (HINT: it ends in “weed”.)

Now some people don’t mind spoilers. Some people are perfectly happy knowing that SPOILERS AHEAD! “Rosebud” was the name of his sled before the movie even starts. And if that’s your thing, hey, that’s fine. But there are an awful lot of us out there, myself included, who prefer not to know the ending. You’re the kids who always snuck into your parents’ closet looking for Christmas presents, whereas we’re the kids who just looked at the 18-inch box under the tree and hoped against hope that a puppy could fit in there somehow. If you want to discuss spoilers, you’ve got every right to, but you should also have the respect and courtesy to keep them amongst yourselves and not go blabbing that you find out in Amazing Spider-Man #512 that SPOILERS AHEAD! Norman Osborne is the father of Gwen Stacy’s children to anyone who hasn’t heard it yet.

Just last week a thread appeared here which started with the phrase “Well, now that we’ve all read Superman/Batman #12…” and proceeded to give away the entire plot. The trouble with this thread was, not all of us had read Superman/Batman #12 yet. This appeared on Friday. The book came out Wednesday. Not everyone gets their comic books the day of release – or even the same week – and you can’t just assume that they have. If I hadn’t finished reading the book about five minutes before, I may have had to go to the guy’s house and hit him with a frozen halibut.

Even worse was an incident a few weeks ago in the forum of our own Chris Sotomayor. Soto, one of the best colorists in the biz (and I say that out of genuine admiration, not just because he hosts a forum here), was discussing his upcoming work on the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Book of the Dead. Fans were speculating as to who would appear in that book, since the current Avengers Disassembled storyline was resulting in many casualties. Then someone appeared in the thread and asked Soto if he could post some pictures since, by now, we all knew that SPOILERS AHEAD! Hawkeye was the character who died in the much-touted Avengers #502.

The problem with this? He posted this message nearly a week before Avengers #502 even went on sale!

Oh, I was ticked.

Now to his credit, he’d tried to do something, at least. He changed the font color to white. Unfortunately, since the background text on the site is various shades of gray, that was worse than useless and the book was seriously spoiled for me. And it didn’t help that everybody else was talking about the death like it was common knowledge soon afterwards.

The obvious question to ask here is, how long is information considered a spoiler? Technically, I’d say any time before you, personally (or to be more specific, I personally) have read the comic. But that gets a little ridiculous. I mean, just because someone has never read Avengers #4 doesn’t mean they don’t already know SPOILERS AHEAD! they found Captain America frozen alive in a block of ice, thawed him out, made him a member of the team and he served proudly for at least 500 issues.

So how long is a reasonable amount of time to consider something a spoiler? When do you have to stop putting information like SPOILERS AHEAD! the boat sinks and Leo drowns in those little gray text boxes we use to shield the masses? I know some fans would prefer something remain a spoiler until the trade paperback comes out – this specifically applies to those fans who wait for the trade paperback. But I don’t think that’s always necessary. If you’re writing in a thread about Identity Crisis #3, you can reasonably assume people have read Identity Crisis #2 and know that SPOILERS AHEAD! Dr. Light raped Sue Dibney already.

Rather than cruising on a set period of time, I think it’s fair and logical to assume something is a spoiler until the next issue of that title comes out, whenever that happens to be. When Birds of Prey went biweekly, by the time #74 came out it should have been acceptable to reference how, in #73, SPOILERS AHEAD! Oracle defeated Brainiac.

And if that means you’ve got to talk about NYX #5 in spoiler blocks for the next six years or so before #6 comes out, so be it.

Some people don’t mind spoilers. Some people even like ‘em. And those people have plenty of opportunity to talk about them. But if you’ve got spoiler info, make sure you present it as such for a reasonable length of time. Otherwise, you’ll be like Homer Simpson walking out of The Empire Strikes Back and saying, SPOILERS AHEAD! “Wow, who would have thought Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father?”. This would, by extension, make the rest of us the people standing in line outside the theatre who wanted to kill him for saying it, and since very few of us have yellow skin, four fingers and an overbite, it’s not a fair analogy.

Like so many problems in the world of comics (and the rest of the world too, when you get right down to it), you can solve this one if you just apply a little common sense. Try it sometime. You might even like it.

Favorite of the Week: September 29, 2004

It’s a darn good thing that I had read Superman/Batman #12 before I read the spoiler, because this was a fantastic issue. (And considering how long it took to come out, it better have been.) Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Barda have stormed Apokalips, hoping to rescue Kara from the clutches of Darkseid… but what if she doesn’t want to be rescued? There’s plenty of action this issue, and then just when things seem to have settled down, Jeph Loeb hits you in the gut with a knockout punch, a real shocker. Granted, it’s the sort of shocker that you’re certain will be resolved in one of two ways, but it’s a shocker nonetheless. Now let’s all just hope Michael Turner manages to turn out issue #13 before Kara is old enough to have grandchildren.

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 BlakeMPetit@gmail.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page, and check out his new experiment in serial fiction at Tales of the Curtain.

29
Mar
11

Universal Rule of the Universe #70

Blake’s Universal Rule of the Universe #70

70. Illegal downloading is wrong. But Disney making people who want a digital copy of Tangled, Tron: Legacy or A Christmas Carol pay for a 3-D version that will look like crap on their home television sets in order to get the digital copy is not going to convince anybody of this.

Read the rest of the Universal Rules of the Universe right here!

28
Mar
11

So now what am I doing?

So last week, as you may have heard, I finally placed my novel Other People’s Heroes in Amazon.com’s Kindle store. This was, by the way, the revised and expanded version, with two bonus short stories. I’ve also put it in the Smashwords eBook store, where you can download it in virtually any eBook format. So while it’s still pending approval in the Nook and iPad bookstores, if you have either of those devices, you can already get your copy of the book. And no matter where you buy it, it’s just $2.99 — less than the price of your average Marvel Comic Book!

Ahem.

So with that done, the question is, what comes next? Well, for you guys, hopefully the next step is buying the book. I mean, if you wanna and stuff. I’d really appreciate it. And I’d also really (really, really) appreciate it if those of you who’ve read the book, either in the eBook format, the original paperback, or even last year’s audio podcast, would take a few minutes and write a review at the Amazon and/or Smashwords websites. Getting reviews for the book helps to boost its profile, which helps other people find it, which hopefully will lead to other people buying it. So if you could do that for me, it would mean a lot.

And what am I doing? Well, like I announced some time back, I’ve also regained the rights to my second novel, The Beginner. As I’ve finished the second draft of Opening Night of the Dead, I’ve turned my creative energies to revisions to The Beginner. I don’t expect the revisions here to be as extensive as they were to Other People’s Heroes, but some editing is definitely necessary before I take it and put it out on the Kindle and Smashwords stores. (I will, by the way, include some new bonus content with this book, just as I did with OPH, although I haven’t decided 100 percent what I’m going to include just yet.)

So I’m still working, my friends. And now the stuff I’m working on is starting to become available to you. I’m really happy about that. If you can give me a little help getting the word out, I’d be in your debt.

27
Mar
11

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 215: Aquaman, FF and More Announcements!

This week at Megacon, Geoff Johns announced he’s going to be writing a new Aquaman series. Will there be other Brightest Day spin-offs? Also: Showtime cuts a deal for a Chew TV series and a new Captain America trailer gets our attention! In the picks, Blake doubles up with FF #1 and Green Lantern #64 before the big news — Other People’s Heroes is now available as an ebook! Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 215: Aquaman, FF, and More Announcements!

26
Mar
11

This looks familiar… vaguely familiar…

I’m at my school today. Not where I teach, but where I went to college. I’m a judge for the district drama rally in the same theatre where I performed in my first play and most of my first dozen. I’ve been here since. I’ve seen other shows, concerts. I was here last week.

Today feels different.

Today I had the time to walk around. To look at everything. To see the paintings that have been hanging I’m these halls for at least 16 years, and probably many more. The giant sign for the campus radio station I used to look at through the booth window when Jason and I hosted our show. Collages of photographs from so many plays that feature my stunningly youthful face smiling back at me. I remember being that kid. I remember how I thought everything I did then was so important.

I remember flecks of paint, the grains of the wood, rust spots on the green room refrigerator. The fold of the curtain, the “break in case of fire” station just offstage, the rickety metal ladder that I was always terrified to climb, but I did over and over again.

I feel a little overwhelmed.

I forgot what this place means to me. How much I love it. How responsible it is for the man I am today. I want to step into those pictures with 19 year old Blake so I can warn him about the mistakes, but also so I could thank him for all the things he did right.

They say you can’t go home again. And they’re usually right. But that doesn’t mean it’s not nice to visit.

25
Mar
11

Conversations: About Edgar Allan Poe

I love teaching Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “Fall of the House of Usher” to my 11th graders. I love Poe’s language, I love his magnificent skill at crafting the perfect mood for his story, I love the way Poe could create characters and stories that stick with you not just hours after your finish the story, but months and years later. But mostly, I love teaching this story because invariably (as happened today), my class winds up having some variation of the following conversation:

Me: What the narrator is implying here is that… well… the Usher Family Tree didn’t have a lot of branches on it.
Student 1: You mean they’re inbred?
Me: Yep.
Student 2: I bet that’s why he’s so sick all the time!
Me: Very good. If a person has a recessive gene, then has a child with somebody else who has the same gene, there’s a much greater chance that the gene will become dominant. That can cause all kinds of different, unwanted conditions and abnormalities. From a genetic viewpoint, that’s the problem with inbreeding.
Student 2: Are there other problems?
Me: Of course. There’s the cultural reason it’s a bad idea.
Student 1: What’s the cultural reason?
Me: It gives me the flaming heebie-jeebies.

24
Mar
11

Tutoring

Need tutoring, kids? It’s great — recognizing that you have a problem is the first step towards solving it. But since some of your teachers will be giving up their valuable time to give you this after-school boost, try to make their job a little easier. For example… bring your textbook! You can’t count on the teacher having your textbook in his or her classroom, especially if they don’t usually teach the course in which you need help. And even if they do teach the same course, if you aren’t in their class, it’s possible that their class is at a different point in the curriculum than yours. So it’s wonderfully helpful if you can correctly identify the chapter/story/assignment that you are currently studying in your own class. A good start in — oh… let’s use English as an example — would be the ability to correctly identify any of the following:

  • The title of the story you are studying, or…
  • The author of the story you are studying, or…
  • The basic plot of the story you are studying, or…
  • Failing that, maybe just know what grade you’re currently in.

Following these simple steps, tutoring can be a fun and beneficial experience for everybody! (Not a guarantee.)

23
Mar
11

Classic EBI #81: The Price Point

Today is the third and final installment in my EBI mini-series where I crunch a few numbers and try to determine the “real” issue count of some classic comics. Some of the answers are a little surprising…

Everything But Imaginary #391: One More Try at Crunching the Numbers

But going back to a classic EBI, on Sept. 22, 2004, I took a long took at a subject of major importance: comic book prices. Boy, it’s a good thing we never talk about that anymore, isn’t it?

Everything But Imaginary #81: The Price Point

When I started reading comics in the mid-80s, they cost 60 cents a pop. Now to some of you, I know, that makes me sound like an old fogey. You got in during the $1.50 or $1.75 days. To others, it makes me sound like a whippersnapper. Why, back in your day comics were only 50 cents, or 35, or a quarter. If there is anyone on this site who remembers picking up a 10-cent comic on a regular basis, let me know.

Comics soon shifted to 75 cents on me. Nobody likes seeing prices go up, but at least, I thought, this was a nice round number. I could get two comics for a buck fifty. Four for three dollars. That’s not bad.

As the years went by, of course, prices crept higher. $1. $1.25. $1.50. I cringed at $1.75. I went apoplectic at $1.95. Now, sadly, I miss those days. Flip through the prices next time you get your comics. You’ll have some $2.25s if you’re lucky. Plenty of $2.50s, no doubt. Mostly, you’ll find $2.95 and $2.99 staring you in the face.

Prices go up, I know that. But can you name any other product that has exhibited a 500 percent increase in the last 20 years? And for that matter, what about salaries? Are you (or your parents) making 500 times what you made in 1984? It’s so weird — paper products are skyrocketing in cost while technology prices, relatively, go down. Once it cost you a fortune to buy a calculator, now they give them away free in cereal boxes. Which is lucky, because you’ll need a calculator to figure out what you’re spending on comics this week.

There are plenty of reasons given for a price increase, of course. My favorite is low sales. You bump the price to fund a comic that’s not selling in bulk. Okay, on paper that makes sense, but it really irks me when the price jumps like this for a project that the publisher has done nothing to promote. One of the best comics on the racks, Fantastic Four, jumped from $2.25 to $2.99 a month ago, without even that cherished sojourn at $2.50. So I ask you, Marvel Comics, why? This title has one of the best writers in comics, one of the best art teams, some of the best stories for the last few years, some of the best characters for the last few decades, and the book hasn’t been this good since John Byrne was on it — coincidentally, back in the mid-80s, just when I started reading it. Say what you will about Spider-Man or the X-MenFantastic Four is the heart of Marvel Comics.

Yet the price jumps 74 cents with little fanfare. Not that I expect them to roll out the red carpet and say, “Hey, we’re jacking up the price!,” but it would have been nice to see them make an effort to sell the title for a while before resorting to a price increase. This is, pardon the pun, a fantastic comic book. If you can’t sell it, a pox on you, not on Mssr.s Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo. This title’s got it where it counts.

Another factor is often the format. Glossy covers, cardstock covers, glossy paper – sound and fury signifying nothing. If it keeps the price down, I’d much rather have a regular cover and regular newsprint… y’know, they way they’ve been printing comics since the 1920s without anybody freaking out over it. Frankly, I hate glossy paper. I live in Southern Louisiana, where standard humidity is approximately 972 percent for almost the entire year. (For some reason, February 3 is usually rather dry.) When it’s this humid, glossy paper sticks to your fingers and the ink smudges. It’s hard enough trying to touch the cover of a comic book, knowing it’ll have a thumbprint if I’m in contact with it for too long. Imagine that on every page.

The book that spurred me to this debate this week, to be honest, was G.I. Joe vs. the TransFormers II from Devil’s Due. I got the first crossover last year, enjoyed it — even reviewed it for this very site. And even at $2.95 an issue, I intended to pick up the sequel. But the first issue wasn’t $2.95. It was $4.95.

And I don’t care how many extra pages or “special features” you cram into a comic book, that ain’t the way to start a miniseries.

This is the main reason — in fact, the only reason, that I do not purchase any comic books from IDW Publishing. I love Steve Niles’s writing. I think he’s doing some of the best horror stories in comics. 30 Days of Night was fantastic. Dark Days was terriffic.

But a regular comic from IDW carries around that hefty $3.99 cover price. And that’s simply more than I’m going to pay. I’ll wait for the trade paperback. Which is all well and good in and of itself — I love trade paperbacks, they’re a great way to read comics. But if everyone decides to wait for the trade paperback, the series won’t sell enough copies to warrant collecting it in a trade paperback, will get canceled, and will fade into obscurity. There are a lot of real gems that could be lost this way.

Kid’s comics drive me the craziest when it comes to this. It’s bad enough for adults and teenagers, who theoretically have a bit of disposable income, but pricing comics out of a child’s range is a disaster. Marvel and DC, to their credit, do price their kids’ comics in the lowest price tier — $2.25 for Marvel Age Spider-Man, Cartoon Network Block Party, Teen Titans Go! and other such titles. Archie, last I checked, was priced at a seemingly arbitrary $2.19. The point is, it’s at the lower end.

But is it low enough to get new readers?

Let’s say you’re eight years old. You get an allowance of $5 a week. You have enough money to either buy two comics books — which you will have read a half-hour after you get home — or to rent a video game, which you’ll get to play for three days before you’ve got to return it.

There’s some math I think most of us can do even without a calculator.

The worst, absolute worst offender on a regular basis is Gemstone Comics, and what makes it the worst is that they’re the best. Gemstone has the license to publish comics based on the classic Disney characters — Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and the like. Donald and Mickey each have a monthly comic with a $2.95 price point — steep for a kid, but at least in the range of normality.

But some of the best comics Gemstone publishes, classic Carl Barks stories, new Don Rosa stories, fantastic stuff by William Van Horn and Pat and Shelly Block, go into Uncle Scrooge and Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories, two series that are published in 64-page “prestige format” collections each month, with a monolithic $6.95 price tag. That’s seven bucks for an Uncle Scrooge comic, friends. Gemstone, in fairness, is following the lead of the previous license-holder, Gladstone Comics, which began the practice of aiming these two old, cherished titles at the Disney “collector.”

You know what? Chop each of those issues in half. Put them in a regular format. Give them a price that kids can afford and you will help to spawn the next generation of comic book fans. The collectors will buy the books anyway.

And it’s not just the reader who gets hurt by high prices. It’s the retailer too. A few weeks ago two of my best friends, two guys who have read comics as long as I have, two guys who will actually argue until they run out of breath that they know more obscure comic book trivia than I do, announced to me that they were giving up comic shops and ordering their comics from an online retailer, because the comics online are cheaper.

And you know what? I can’t blame ‘em.

I have no problem with online stores. I shop them frequently, whenever I miss an issue off the rack or I’m looking for a trade paperback I can’t find anywhere. But websites can’t draw in new customers like a brick-and-mortar store can. (And brick-and-mortar stores could be doing a lot more to get new customers than they are now, but that’s another column.) And browsing the listings on a website just can’t compare to walking past the racks, hoping to spot that elusive issue of JSA from the corner of your eye.

I’m not an economist. I don’t know what can be done to lower prices. But I do know that if something isn’t done, we’re going to keep losing readers to TV, to movies, to video games, to attrition, and we won’t get the new ones to keep this art form alive. These prices are the enemy, guys. And they may be a foe not even the Fantastic Four could beat.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: September 15, 2004

Those two buddies I mentioned may lynch me for this, because I know they haven’t enjoyed Greg Rucka’s run on this title, but Adventures of Superman #632 was his best issue yet, and walks away with favorite of the week. Now the main problem my pals seem to have is that Rucka, in their viewpoint, is focusing too much on the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit and not enough on big blue himself. That’s a valid argument, and I don’t even disagree with it, I just happen to like what’s being done with the SCU. That said, this is hardly the case here. Lois Lane, embedded in the middle east, has been shot, and Superman is racing faster than a speeding bullet to save her… but sometimes even a man of steel can be too late. This is a great issue, a gut-wrenching issue. You can see the pain and agony in Superman’s face as his wife fights to survive and he, for once in his life, is rendered helpless to do anything. This is real heart, real emotion, real Clark Kent — and the current writer of Action Comics could stand to take lessons from this issue as to how Superman should be written. The last page is one of the most powerful I’ve seen in a core Superman comic for a long time. This one’s a winner.

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 BlakeMPetit@gmail.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page, and check out his new experiment in serial fiction at Tales of the Curtain.

22
Mar
11

Got a kindle?

Okay. You’ve got a Kindle, but you don’t want to go through the trouble of setting up a Smashwords account just to buy Other People’s Heroes. I get that. I hear ya. I listen.

But OPH is now available in the Amazon Kindle Store.

Really. Check it out: Other People’s Heroes in the Kindle Store!

Newly revised! Newly expanded! Two new short stories!

And whether you read the book the first time around or you’re getting it brand new, folks, do me a favor. Hit me with an Amazon review, please. It really does help to boost the profile of the book and find new readers.

Thanks.




Blake’s Twitter Feed

March 2011
S M T W T F S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Blog Stats

  • 315,709 hits

Blake's Flickr Photos

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.