Other Nexus Graphica Columns
For more information, you can try the following:
Avatar's By Bizarre Hands
The Big Book of the Weird Wild West
Michael Moorcock's Multiverse
My time with Blackbird Comics
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)
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!)
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)
Required reading for all comic book geeks, Brian Cronin's weekly
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
Copyright © 2009 Rick Klaw
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.
Professional reviewer, geek maven, and optimistic curmudgeon, Rick Klaw has supplied
countless reviews, essays, and fiction for a variety of publications
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.