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Nexus Graphica
by Rick Klaw

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Other Nexus Graphica Columns
For more information, you can try the following:
Avatar's By Bizarre Hands
Gangland #4
The Big Book of the Weird Wild West
Michael Moorcock's Multiverse
John Lucas
Negative Burn
My time with Blackbird Comics
Mu Press
JAB
Ted Naifeh
Weird Business
Geeks With Books
West Coast Blues
Farscape: The Beginning of the End of the Beginning
Was Superman A Spy?
Recent Books of Interest

West Coast Blues Adapted by Jacques Tardi from the novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette (Fantagraphics)
West Coast Blues From the opening panel until the final words, Tardi's adaptation of Manchette's crime novel Le Petit bleu de la côte ouest sizzles with a dazzling graphic intensity. Salesman George Gerfaut unknowingly becomes embroiled in conspiracy and murder when he stops to aid the victim of a car accident. Much like the 1950s American crime novels they emulate, Tardi and Manchette offer a impressive display of destructive violence, wanton love, and disregard for life. Showcasing Tardi's singular artistic talents, the brilliant West Coast Blues emerges as one of the best crime graphic novels ever produced.


Farscape: The Beginning of the End of the Beginning Story by Rockne S. O'Bannon Script by Keith DeCandido Art by Tommy Patterson (Boom!)
Farscape: The Beginning of the End of the Beginning When the Sci Fi Channel canceled Farscape, I almost swore off science fiction television. The unique show full of puppets, bodily functions, and sex offered intelligent scripts combined with good acting and quality special effects. O'Bannon returns to the universe he created with Farscape: The Beginning of the End of the Beginning, a well-crafted direct sequel to the original series. Picking up soon after the conclusion of Peacekeeper Wars, the surviving crew helps Rigel regain his throne. As expected, things don't go as planned when old enemies show up. O'Bannon expertly explores John's and Aeryn's struggles with parenthood and Chyna's grief over the death of D'Argo. At times sensational, Patterson does an adequate job capturing the visual look of the series. The book falters by creating too many dangling plotlines. I assume these will be covered in future volumes, but here they are just distracting. While not as good as the source material, Farscape: The Beginning of the End of the Beginning offers fans the next best thing to new episodes of the original show.


Was Superman A Spy? by Brian Cronin (Plume)
Was Superman A Spy? Required reading for all comic book geeks, Brian Cronin's weekly column Comic Book Legends Revealed educates and enlightens the trivial aspects of comic book history. Was Superman A Spy? collects 65 of Cronin's columns plus an additional 65 pieces written for this book. Dividing the book into three parts (DC, Marvel, and Other Companies), Cronin introduces and demystifies legends involving many of the industry's giants—both creations and creators. Sadly, Was Superman A Spy? lacks an index. Often missing notations, the picture reproductions are of poor quality. Inexcusable for a publishing house the size of Plume, the book is littered with misspellings and typos. Despite these flaws, Was Superman A Spy? stands as a unique book for the comic book fan and will be enjoyed by anyone with an even passing interest in the medium.


Like Riding a Bike
Gangland

I spent the past week crafting my first original comic book story in over a decade. Seems odd that it has been so long since, for the first half of my writing career, all I wanted to do was write comics.

The last time I wrote an original story for comics, it never even made it to press. In 1997, I crafted the five-page "Pox," a Twilight Zone-like eco-thriller for an anthology that was never completed. At least I got paid for it. Since then, I've adapted several Joe R. Lansdale stories -- most notably for Avatar's By Bizarre Hands series -- and penned lots of comic book criticism, but no original comic creations.

During the 90s, I seemed destined for success as a comic writer and editor. I co-scripted the crime story "The Initiation" for Gangland #4 (DC/Vertigo). Two other DC projects sported Klaw bylines during that period. I conceived, along with my Mojo Press partner Ben Ostrander, The Big Book of the Weird Wild West for DC's Paradox Press. After languishing in development for several years, the title finally came out with seven Klaw-Ostrander tales. Additionally, I edited the letter's pages for the DC/Helix series Michael Moorcock's Multiverse #4-11. Also in 1997, artist John Lucas and I contributed "I Was the Bride of Rothro, King of The Giant Flying Vampire Gorillas from the Earth's Core," the lead and cover feature story for issue #47 of the acclaimed Negative Burn. Things were looking up.

I initially became a comic book editor back in 1992 as an inroad into the comics industry. Since I was impatient and not getting immediate traction as a writer, I approached Blackbird Comics publisher John Nordland about helming a series of thematic anthologies. At 22, I had no idea what I was doing, but I learned quickly. Within two years, my first anthology Modern Perversity and Too Much Coffee Man creator Shannon Wheeler's first cartoon collection Children with Glue hit the shelves. The stratagem worked. I met Edd Vick, publisher of MU Press, through Nordland and my frequent con appearances. In 1992, my own series Wings came out. Though well-received critically, the first issue proved to be one of the worst selling titles ever for MU and Vick decided to not publish a second.

Thanks primarily to my work at Blackbird, I connected with the group of writers and artists who formed Adhesive Press and created stories for several issues of their JAB anthology including the infamous bullet hole issue (#3, drawn by Ted Naifeh).

After leaving Blackbird, Ben Ostrander and I formed Mojo Press and edited 14 titles including the groundbreaking Weird Business. After the publication of that anthology and constant con appearances, I met and became friends with many other established and up-and-coming creators.

By 1997, I was in regular contact with a group of DC editors about writing series of my own. Then it all skidded to a halt. A variety of factors derailed me: the dissolution of my first marriage, frustration with less-than-professional editors, the folding of Mojo Press. Perhaps most significantly, I discovered my literary voice.

Throughout the nineties, I experimented with brief forays into essay writing by contributing several articles to the Adventures in Crime and Space bookstore newsletter. My amateurish attempts only showcased my lack of skills and understanding of the essay form.

Working for Book People completely changed my life. Among my duties at Book People (at various and overlapping times, I managed 75 employees, served as the assistant general manager, a buyer, and, oversaw the marketing department), I wrote my first regular column for their website. The articles covered a variety of topics like westerns and SF. They even published my first essays on multiple sclerosis. Soon after starting there in April, 1998, I met Brandy Whitten. Within a year, Brandy and I had become inseparable and eventually got married. She became my biggest supporter and harshest critic, holding my work to incredibly high standards. She pushed me to take my literary pursuits seriously and encouraged my everyman perspective.

This all led to my first SF Site column, Geeks with Books, in 2001. After that, my new literary identity solidified as a pop culture critic.

Despite the intervening years and a change of focus, I never stopped wanting to write comics. I still love the form and even tinker with ways to translate my essays into graphic novels. So when John Lucas (of Rothro fame) asked me to create an original story for an anthology, I leapt at the chance.

Dusting off my comic scripting skills reminded me of the challenges inherent in graphic storytelling. Unlike prose fiction or essays, every detail pertaining to the plot must be outlined to the artist. If a door from a room on page one, panel 1 is later used on page 12, panel three, the door needs to appear on page one or at the very least the knowledge given to the artist, so for example they don't place a desk where the door should be. Physical characteristics present another aspect of concern. An artist must be informed of all descriptions upon the characters introduction. In prose, many of those issues are unimportant. The placement of pages affect how the reader perceives the work. All these issues re-introduced me to the fun of comic book storytelling and most importantly, it awoke my creative love for the format. Perhaps, this experience will usher in a new career epoch.

Copyright © 2009 Rick Klaw

Professional reviewer, geek maven, and optimistic curmudgeon, Rick Klaw has supplied countless reviews, essays, and fiction for a variety of publications including The Austin Chronicle, The San Antonio Current, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Moving Pictures RevolutionSF, King Kong Is Back!, Conversations With Texas Writers, Farscape Forever, Electric Velocipede, Cross Plains Universe, and Steampunk. MonkeyBrain Books published the collection of his essays, reviews, and other things Klaw, Geek Confidential: Echoes From the 21st Century. He can often be found pontificating on Twitter and over at The Geek Curmudgeon.


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