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Nexus Graphica
by Rick Klaw

Other Nexus Graphica Columns
For more information, you can try the following:
Lewis Shiner
The Time Masters
Brian Stelfreeze
Below the Line
Danger Boy
Monsters and Critics
Alex's Booknook
Golden Duck Award for Excellence in Children's Science Fiction
Klaw's time at Blackbird Press
Mojo Press
Weird Business
Geeks With Books
Geek Confidential: Echoes from the 21st Century
Klaw's Austin Chronicle archive
Mark Evanier
David Hajdu
Hot Stuff the Little Devil
Recent Books of Interest

Kirby: King of Comics by Mark Evanier (Abrams)
Lavishly infused with Kirby's art, Mark Evanier's heartfelt biography/homage successfully invokes the proper awe and respect for this creative giant while revealing his human side.

The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) by David Hadju
During the 50s, many creative institutions came under societal and governmental scrutiny: films, books, and especially comics. Hajdu deftly chronicles these events through interviews with the era's comicdom creators as well as newspaper accounts of the various incidents.

Hot Stuff the Little Devil #1

Harvey Comics Classics Volume Three: Hot Stuff the Little Devil (Dark Horse)
Dark Horse continues collecting the best stories from the beloved children's publisher. My personal favorite from the Harvey stable, Hot Stuff, literally a fire-breathing, pitchfork-wielding little devil, stars in a series of short humorous morality tales. Well drawn and executed, these juvenile adventures still resonate some fifty years after their inception.

Resurrection #1-3 by Marc Guggenheim and David Dumeer (Oni)
Following the lives and adventures of American survivors after a ten year alien occupation of Earth, Guggenheim (script) and Dumeer (art) create likable characters and potentially interesting scenarios in a well-trodden sf concept. Though it starts slowly, by the end of issue three, I was intrigued and looking forward to the next issue (due 4/16).

Secret Origins

We met after a panel on lettering at the 1990 San Diego Comic Con. Not that either of us really gave a rat's ass about lettering. We both were there to talk with Lewis Shiner, who not only co-wrote (with fellow Texan ex-pat Bob Wayne)
The Time Masters
Danger Boy #1
the Illuminati-infused mini-series The Time Masters, but also lettered the comic. We both came from the literary side of things, fans since Shiner's 1988 novel Deserted Cities of the Heart, which masterfully related the impending end of the world, according to Mayan prophesy in a real-world Mexico City.

After a brief chat with Shiner, who left to attend another panel, Mark London Williams and I, both newbie comic book writers, continued the discussion. Mark was already enjoying some modest success. His tale "Stockman," rendered by Brian Stelfreeze, was scheduled to appear in Fast Forward #2 Family, from the now-defunct DC division Piranha Press. When the story finally appeared some two years later, it credited the non-existent author "Douglas Williams." Sadly, Mark's comic book career never really took off.1 His career grew far more successfully into journalism, where Mark produced articles for Variety, Los Angeles Times, Moving Pictures, and for the past several years a regular column for the film industry paper Below the Line, and most notably into young adult fiction, creating the young adult time travel series Danger Boy.

Starting in 2019, the series follows the time-spanning adventures of twelve year old Eli Sands, the eponymous protagonist, and his companions Clyne, a friendly dinosaur from another planet conducting research for a school assignment, and Thea, daughter of the last librarian of Alexandria. Monsters and Critics called it "the best children's book series you're not reading." RevolutionSF warned "any youngster who reads the first two will want to go along for the ride." Over at Alex's Booknook, the reviewer exclaimed that he "can hardly wait for the next Danger Boy adventure." Hell, the first Danger Boy adventure Ancient Fire was even nominated for the Golden Duck Award for Excellence in Children's Science Fiction.

Fortunately for Mark, I derailed his career in comics before it really began.

At that same 1990 con, I met the editor of The Twilight Zone comics who promised $100 per page if they bought my story, which at that time was a princely sum. Soon after, I sent her a proposal for a Christmas tale. She really liked the story, but decided to save it for the next Christmas. At the time, she informed me the rate had dropped to $50. Since I thought $100 was crazy, I accepted the new rate.

Suddenly, it's October and the advance solicitation catalogs offer The Twilight Zone Christmas issue with my story featured prominently on the cover, even though I still lacked a contract and they a script. I called my editor, who wanted to send me a contract for only $30 a page. I balked at this. She attempted to explain it. I still refused.

The editor balked saying, "I need to talk to the publisher." I hung up the phone. She called me back a couple hours later and informed me that he won't budge. Neither would I.

Less than an hour later, I got a call from the publisher Tony Caputo. "We're going to publish this story, and you're going to take the $30 a page. Or you're not going to get your story published!"

"I guess I'm not going to get the story published." I hung up. The issue never appeared and soon after, the series ended.

The issue was scheduled to have two stories, one comic and one prose, the latter by, you guessed it, Mark London Williams. Neither story has ever been published.

Art: Dave Dorman
Weird Business

Not that my own comic book career suffered from The Twilight Zone debacle. Soon after the San Diego convention, I met John Nordland, publisher of Blackbird Comics. We negotiated an editing deal that eventually made me his Managing Editor. During my tenure, I edited both Shannon Wheeler's and Bill Fountain's first books and the anthology Omnibus: Modern Perversity, which featured stories by Shiner and Williams.2 I left in early 1994. By the end of the year, I had co-founded the groundbreaking Mojo Press, as its the managing editor. Initially started as venture to produce the massive hardback comics anthology Weird Business, Mojo Press eventually published 16 books during my four-year tenure.

Following that San Diego con, I scripted some comics as well. My byline appears in Vertigo, Paradox, Adhesive, Mu, and Avatar titles.

Like Mark, my best known writing has not been in comics. For over four years, I penned the monthly SF Site column, "Geeks with Books," many of the essays were collected in Geek Confidential: Echoes from the 21st Century. I routinely contribute reviews and articles to The Austin Chronicle, RevolutionSF, and other venues. Recently, I have been itching to return to a regular column. Enter Mark London Williams.

After that 1990 con, Mark and I became close friends. He routinely visits Austin (usually around Armadillocon or a book promotion) and our conversations went from monthly in the dark pre-Internet days to our near-daily chats. Our talks usually center around our mutual interests: baseball, books, politics, writing, and comic books. Nexus Graphica, the column about graphic novels and comics, grew out of our discussions. It just seemed natural to record our observations.

We will alternate columns for every issue of SF Site. Similar to my "Geeks with Books," the nature and subject of each piece will vary from month to month, but it will always have something to do with graphic novels or comic books.

So watch for Mark's first contribution on April 15. I'll see you next month.

1 I published two of his stories -- "Zoo" with art by John LeCour in Omnibus: Modern Perversity (Blackbird Comics 1991) and "Bigfoot Vs. Donkey Kong" with art by Phil Hester, Marc Erickson, and Fredd Gorham in The Big Bigfoot Book (Mojo Press 1996).

2 Omnibus was initially conceived as a series of thematic anthologies, published quarterly, The first four planned were sexual horror (published as Modern Perversity), monsters, westerns, and humor. The monster (Creature Features) and western (The Wild West Show) books were eventually published by Mojo Press. The humor book (Laff Riot) was never completed.

Copyright © 2008 Rick Klaw

Rick Klaw produced four years of the popular monthly SF Site column "Geeks With Books", and supplied countless reviews, essays, and fiction for a variety of publications including, The Austin Chronicle, 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.

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