nekoplz a hafu w/o a cause: blogging toons, books, comics, steelbooks, and other wonders Sun, 24 Oct 2021 23:49:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 nekoplz 32 32 154436613 So the Dune Movie Kind of Rules Sun, 24 Oct 2021 23:44:50 +0000 Dune is beautiful and ugly in all the right ways.

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dune zendaya

So Dune rules.

As I said in a previous post regarding reading the books, I watched Dune awhile ago. I shared that I thought it was good then but I re-watched it again last night on HBO Max and I think I like it even more.

In fact, I think I kind of love it.

I want to start at the end which I’m sure will be talked about because to many people it will feel like an incomplete film and obviously nothing gets really concluded but I found I appreciated the ending so much because it was this relatively quiet one-on-one, a personal conflict, it was a knife fight, and the weight was in the eyes of Jessica, Stilgar, and Chani, and the sounds were not big explosions or spaceships but of two people trying not to die while fighting each other in no air condition. While we know Chalamet is the star of the film and isn’t going to lose there are stakes and lessons.

Paul isn’t going to be able to simply be better and force a bloodless accord. He has had visions of universe spanning conquering and the blood that will have to be on his hands.

Usually what happens in this era of superhero and non-superhero movies is we get to the third act where the big loud dumb thing happens which is often CGI-laden and will look terrible in a few years. It just happened with Shang-Chi, a movie I really liked, and still do like, despite the third act which is just everything I said above. It’s almost all big budget movies. This was quiet, it was a knife fight, and the weight was in the eyes of Jessica, Stilgar, and Chani, and the sounds were not big explosions and spaceships but of two guys trying not to die while fighting in no air condition.

Whether its Star Wars or The Fellowship of the Ring we get that classic trope of getting the band together. Paul earns the new gang after losing everything.

We saw many members of the old gang pass, among them a really game Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho, and this last scenes set Jessica and Paul up with Stilgar and Chani, both of whom, with not that much screen time deliver big for me. Javier Bardem and Zendaya – both visions in real life – are buying in, and this is a type of movie where you go in wondering if the cast, especially one as loaded as this, are going to take the material seriously. They absolutely are. They are not embarrassed of the movie.

Dune is also basic.

If you watch this movie it’s these upsettingly ugly people, the Harkonnens, versus these even more upsettingly ridiculously good looking people with even better hair. Timmy, Jason Mamoa, Oscar Issaac, Rebecca Ferguson, being helped later by Zendaya and Javier Bardem versus basically a humanoid Jabba the Hutt, uglier Drax, and tall bald skinny pedo looking guy. The Atreides come from a beautiful home world of Caladan with serene coastal landscapes and when you shift to Giedi Prime it’s dark, gloomy, and looks like every ’80s cartoon villain lair. The Harkonnens are rich beyond belief due to their previous Arrakis fiefdom yet you can tell they are bad guy because they won’t even spring for good lighting in their seat of power.

Speaking of Zendaya, I think the film nailed something very subtle. We don’t get a lot of Chani in this movie. She is seeded via Paul’s visions which could be somewhat unfulfilling but I think the film uses Liet Kynes, and her inherent goodness and what she does for Paul and the choices she makes, to inform us a bit about her daughter. This is someone of substance, and we see that Leto saw as much in the brief time they knew each other as well. It also gives Paul and Chani a shared enemy, the Harkonnens and the Emperor killed their family.

Maybe I will blog more thoughts after a rewatch.

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Beetle Bailey Art Day Sat, 16 Oct 2021 01:07:00 +0000 Added some comic strip goodness to the collection.

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I recently bought this, the original art to a Beetle Bailey strip my Mort Walker. The strip started in the 50s and this one is from the early 70s.

beetle bailey comic strip original art

I have a fairly common/basic duo of favorites when it comes to comic book strips in Calvin and Hobbes and The Farside. A little later I’d come to also love the The Boondocks. They are among my favorite things in any medium of all time.

On a rung lower than those for me but still a constant joy were a group of comics that I read in every paper that had them. They would include Wizard of ID, Blondie, Hagar the Horrible, and Beetle Bailey. As an adult I’d come to respect and admire many of the comics that I had no interest in as a kid, mostly because they are so well drawn that they are undeniable. For instance, I’m not sure many things ever are sequential artistic statements like Krazy Kat Sunday strips were and are, they are just astonishing.

I didn’t get into a lot of the more political strips only because I was too young to know what they meant but now I can look at things like Doonesbury and Bloom County and really respect the art and craft. More recent ones that I like are Non Sequitur and Pearls Before Swine.

I’ve always meant to pick up at least one piece of original art from my favorite strips and I decided on this Beetle Bailey mostly because I really like the silhouette in the final panel.

I was a military brat and lived a lot of of my childhood and life overseas and I think because of that Beetle Bailey was an extra draw for me, a lot of it was about life on base and that was the reality around me.

I hope to nab more strip art soon.

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Hak HBO’s House of the Dragon with this GRRM Chapter Fri, 15 Oct 2021 12:15:50 +0000 Just a short chapter from a George R. R. Martin book to read to prime you for HBO's House of the Dragon.

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I recently posted about George R. R, Martin’s Fire & Blood which is a Targaryen focused text that was published while everyone has been waiting for Winds of Winter, the next book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series.

Since then HBO has released a new teaser for House of the Dragon, a prequel of sorts for Game of Thrones, taking place hundreds of years before the occurrences of that show when the Targaryens still ruled Westeros.

house of the dragon hbo game of thrones

When Game of Thrones came out there were several books out already for years that the show (mostly) followed, especially early on, and for the most part I must say how impressed I was in how well behaved we were given that social media usually brings out the worst in people. The fandom en masse really bought into, without any meeting of any sorts, of letting people who never experienced the books understand via the show why it was such a beloved series for decades.

Now the obvious answer to what you want to read if you want to be primed for House of the Dragon is simply read Fire & Blood but that is over 700 pages of Targaryen history (and is only part 1). Worth the read if you are a diehard fan of the series for sure but if you are someone who just wants what’s probably going to be covered there is a much smaller portion of the novel to read.

I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to the build up to House of the Dragon or much of anything to be honest. My personal vibe lately has been I’ll just pay attention to shows when they are here and remove myself from build-up which is especially easy now because there’s almost always something of quality on or to read or just things to do outside and people to spend time with. Not at all knocking what brings anyone joy, please do you, but for me personally I just like enjoying the actual thing and avoid the apparatus around it. I mean it’s not supposed to be your life. It’s one of the reasons why I’m not on social media because unless you just want to be advertised too I don’t really get the point. Don’t get me wrong though, when its actually made and being presented to us I’ll be into things HEAVY.

Some of this has been pandemic related as all of this stuff has been so pushed back that you could see people straining to put out content and I just bailed and decided to just workout and indulge in what’s already available. Like reading Fire & Blood I guess lol, not to mention rewatching Studio Ghibli movies to just idk… refuel the goodness vibes in the world.

Anyway, watching this teaser trailer, it’s now easier to pinpoint the exact time period we are dealing with in the Targaryen dynasty and correlate it with specific sections of Fire & Blood. It got me rather excited because it has felt like its been awhile since we’ve had a mono-culture show, the last one probably was Game of Thrones. I think we can focus on a specific chapter in Fire & Blood that would put you in position of those “read the book” folks during Game of Thrones. Viserys Targaryen will be portrayed by Paddy Considine, with that in mind I think you can zero in on a chapter called “Heirs of the Dragon – A Question of Succession” which is roughly just 50 pages long. Now you may have read an abridged version of this already if you read the GRRM and Gardner Dozois edited anthology Rogues, which features, among other things, the Martin story The Rogue Prince.

Obviously the show could change things as adaptations tend to do at times but I’m guessing the main bullet points will remain and if I were guessing I’d say the character of Daemon Targaryen will be a popular one in the show (played by Matt Smith). He is the titular Rogue Prince of the story (and is the brother of Viserys). Like I mentioned above I haven’t really been following the build-up to these shows so the Matt Smith casting is interesting.

I know he’s popular because of his much lauded run as Doctor Who and I enjoy him on The Crown but I have to admit I do now wonder what the chatter was like when he was cast because he doesn’t exactly strike me as Daemon Targaryen, though I completely understand I’m in the minority of people in relation to the show’s audience who have read about the history of Westeros so it doesn’t really matter. I’m sure he will be fine.

Anyway I hope this helps anyone looking for a short read to get them beyond ready for House of the Dragon.

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Reading Child of Light and Reconsidering Terry Brooks Wed, 13 Oct 2021 13:00:27 +0000 Hodor? Terry Brooks opened and held the door for us all.

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I haven’t read a Terry Brooks book in a long time.

I had already read Tolkien by the time I got to Shannara and even at a very young age I was able to identify the similarities and not view it favorably. This was odd for me because when you’re young you kind of just like the fact you are watching a movie, reading a book, playing a game, and it takes awhile before you decide oh… this isn’t good.

My opinion on Brooks is not that simple though.

Child of Light Terry Brooks

In later year I started blogging about books to some success and that initial reaction I had about Brooks carried with me and I did what a lot of people do on the internet and that’s find something you don’t like to be a platform for what you do like. I’ve come to find that stance was not fair to Brooks but more importantly it wasn’t fair to my own reading experience.

The Lord of the Rings is going to go down in history, has already done so, as a literary classic. It’s done. It’s locked. Shannara wasn’t and isn’t that.

What Shannara was though is no small thing. Shannara was a giant success and in many ways spearheaded the modern fantasy book market. Brooks kept on writing bestseller after bestseller and while some of us may scoff at that, it has a tremendous effect. It opened doors.

In a previous post about Dune I talked about that I was a kid who had at an early age read a lot of classic novels, which included The Lord of the Rings. After that though Fantasy novels weren’t things I ran into everyday. This was pre-internet, I was a kid under 10 year old, so life, the world, was really about what you literally physically ran into.

My local public library had this series of three chest level shelves lined up in the front of the room as you walked in the entrance. Showcased on the top of them would be new releases, typically reserved for household names. Mainstream novels, rarely genre novels, and if so almost never fantasy or science fiction. One of the exceptions was the books of Terry Brooks. NY Times Bestsellers had that kind of clout I guess. And Brooks books had covers that either repelled you or, if one of the initiated, was EXACTLY the thing you were looking for.

There was a time in my life where every trip to the library was one I hoped led to a run in with a Terry Brooks cover I had never seen. Remember the doors I was talking about Brooks open? I meant it both in terms of what kind of business Brooks books did and the library door. On those occasions I didn’t see a new Heritage of Shannara book, the possibility of that random encounter was what got me through the doors. Disappointment in not seeing it led me to the library shelves where the regular catalog was stores, scanning books, finding authors that would shape my late childhood, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Ursula Le Guin, Stephen King and others.

Today in my hand I have a new Terry Brooks novel. I’m in Hawaii, Terry is one of my neighbors though he doesn’t know it lol. It’s called Child of Light.

I’m 100 pages into it and I have two observations.

The first is that Brooks’ greatest tool is comfort. To this day I can recall how Brooks Shannara novels begin. Its usually is on the move, a walk, whether its Flick or some other Ohmsford or Allannon, Brooks usually has us on the way to something. We begin our journey in brand new setting and, again, with one already in motion. In Child of Light we begin during a prison break from what appears to be gun totting goblins who imprison, eat, enslave, and breed human children, yet we are completely comfortable, we are completely in-step, we are not disorientated in the least, and it’s not something he learned from the repetition of writing stacks and stacks of bestsellers, he has done this since The Sword of Shannara. Literally before I walked the earth.

The term comfort food is almost exclusively derogatory when used about entertainment and art but if your back catalog is comfort food, you retire in Hawaii. It’s also a skill people would kill for. Someone had to make all this crazy, stereotypically cringe worthy fantasy shit, and put it in novels for mass consumption, and Brooks does it from page one. I don’t think there is a single moment in Shannara that feels disorientating or is an overload. Brooks was welcoming. He was unabashedly welcome. And unlike some of those that would follow him in epic fantasy he mostly let his work speak for him. He was the king before we knew there was a throne and though he’d lose that throne to writers who would expand and take epic fantasy to the next level, he was a good king. His reign prepared us for the era to come.

Which brings me around to a point: Terry Brooks was the entry way for many fantasy readers. Tolkien’s LotR, much like Herbert in science fiction, doesn’t really pass for the reads of young children. Certainly it’s done, I did it, but most people aren’t reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid in the same year they are reading The Lord of the Rings. For every kid walking into libraries like mine or into a book store with limited shelf space for fantasy, I can almost guarantee what they did have was paperback Terry Brooks books.

My other thought is more micro. Child of the Light is taking a long time to get to a place a reader like me (or you) already knew where it was going. The novel’s official description could stand in for the first 80 pages, like literally, you could skip the first 80 pages and just read the summary. My fear is that it also covers the final 50 or so pages too.

Still, it’s been awhile, and giving a new Brooks books a chance seems the least I can do for the guy who put new fantasy novels next to names like King, Steele, and Grisham on the featured shelves of my youth. When zeitgeist novels that hit big like Memoirs of a Geisha would come out Brooks would make sure a big fat fantasy with a Keith Parkinson or Darrel K. Sweet cover would be sitting next to it.

The enormity of how cool that was should never be, and never have been, taken for granted.

I think the knock on Brooks, if it is even that, is that he is not a dangerous writer. He may have reopened the door to let some through though. I’m not sure if Tyrion gets to piss of The Wall if Allannon didn’t come for Shea Ohmsford and takes us on journey and remind us of our magical heritage.

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Remembering Chapterhouse as Dune Returns to Film Tue, 12 Oct 2021 15:20:00 +0000 I think about the first science fiction book I ever read as Zendaya and Chalamet bring Dune to the future.

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Because of the movie I think like for a lot of people Dune has been on my mind again.

Chapterhouse: Dune was the first science fiction book I ever read because it just happened to be a book my parents had on a shelf. They weren’t Dune readers either but it was just one of those books that your parents had on the shelf because they picked it up during travels and thought you’d read it, someone gave it to them, or in my mom’s case it may have looked cute on a shelf. It looked like this:

chapterhouse dune frank herbert

It was an eye opener to a kid who had at this point read a lot of classic novels, some thrillers, comics, and fantasy books. At the time I had decided I might not be a science fiction reader because to kids no time was more important than the now and if did move across the timeline, the future was unknown and something that may be scary, and fantasy always felt like like the past, a long time ago and somewhere far, far away.

This is also perhaps the most odd of the Dune books, unique because of the novels’s ending and that Herbert would pass away the year after it was published.

I think historically Chapterhouse hasn’t been viewed always as fondly as some earlier installments but I’ve always been a supporter of it, undoubtedly partly because of my relationship with the book but also due to that aforementioned weirdness.

It’s also a rare ending that doesn’t feel like the typical series wind down where reader hopes are usually regulated to merely reading a book that doesn’t adversely effect their experience of the series overall and instead Chapterhouse feels as rich and as full of possibilities, and in the best way, unfinished when you are done with it. It’s also so far removed from the first book that you don’t just feel like you’ve ended a journey but instead are in the midst of the beginning, middle, and ends of many.

I’m on Goodreads, just joined, and one of the first things I saw was new people reading Dune, especially young people, and especially young women, some digging it and and some hitting a wall. Their interest almost certainly piqued seeing Zendaya and Chalamet in the film’s trailer, I think many ran into a rough transition coming from what is, let me tell you, a vibrant, active, and huge young romance readership into reading what is in comparison a dense Frank Herbert science fiction novel which was probably never written for them in mind when considering its 1960’s science fiction magazine origins

And it got me pumped to be honest. While I’m not part of the young romance/chick lit (what they themselves call it) readership, I always like seeing people reading and when people are enthused about anything in a very pure way that doesn’t have the element of bad faith arguments mostly faux-politically charged and truly hateful with nothing else to do people using all forms of entertainment discussion as their proxy war field of choice online and on social media. Indeed most of this huge base and the fiction they read is delightfully positive, open, and so enthusiastic. It’s kind of a breath of fresh air.

sexy zendaya dune chani

As I’ve aged I’ve tried to avoid what I have observed from both adults of childhood and my own current contemporaries where they hit a certain age and anything that happens after that just isn’t part of their world. Movies, music, books, tv, basic common knowledge of the world gives way to a life that no longer takes anything in and lives almost entirely in nostalgia. I’ve always viewed it as a stage of dying in some way.

They lose intellectual curiosity. Hell they even lose the much more fun, dumb curiosity. So even if I find that I don’t like something I do try to give new things a chance and the best part is you get younger opinions and eyes on older material you may love and I find criticisms of those things to be both interesting and at times educational. You’d be surprised what the generation after you thinks of things that you view as unimpeachable classics and I typically find those opinions to be a positive sign of society progressing.

I got to Dune young, middle school age, and would not describe the Herbert novels as inviting to most people. Some people are very successful at writing a series of events, put it in between a front and back cover, and calling it a book. Frank Herbert wrote novels and they are somewhat dense especially considering (again) its
magazine origins. It’s not what I would call a hard or complicated read but if you’re used to reading books exclusively written for children or the current oddly named YA market (or maybe the actual age of a young adult has changed) then it is a level up to someone writing science fiction about adult themes. Dune and The Hunger Games were not written for the same people at the same time in their lives. And, while I love it, yes, it could just be boring.

On the personals, the first edition of Dune (which is published by Chilton – yes the car guide publisher!) was the first book I bought when I came to an age of having expendable FU income (which wasn’t really the case at the time but I was still young and dumb lol) and decided to collect books and have a library of stuff I love. It’s not my favorite novel or series and Herbert is not my favorite author but it was the book that introduced me to science fiction and it felt apt.

It introduced me to a world of and words like facedancers, mentats, Honored Matres, Bene Gesserit, and gholas. Words that don’t really mean anything until this guy put them down on this paper.

And I think this is where it all connects. Dune and my own mantra. This was my introduction to the literature of ideas and ever since I always wanted to learn about and live in the current and future world.

By the way, I was able to be a +1 at a press screening for the movie. I’m not sure it’s for everybody, and Dune never really was for everybody, but I more or less loved it. I’m not sure if that’s helpful but in comparison I really hate the 80s Lynch film, it’s one of my least favorite movies of all time, and I’ve always been fairly confident in this film because Denis Villeneuve hasn’t miss yet with any of the movies he has directed, which includes large projects like Blade Runner 2049 and Arrival, which is one of my favorite movies of this century thus far.

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The Power of Words in George R. R. Martin’s Fire & Blood Tue, 12 Oct 2021 09:54:16 +0000 The power of stern emails in Westeros.

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Because I’m (unfortunately) fairly confident we are never going to see a conclusion to A Song of Ice and Fire in book-form and will just have to live with what Weiss and Benioff gave us I chose to devour what I can of GRRM writing in Westeros that I can. After all, I’ve been reading these novels since they’ve been coming out in the mid-90s and have reread them, not hyperbole, dozens of times. It is my opinion that it and Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen are the finest examples of epic fantasy available to us.

fire & Blood

I will leave exhaustive reviews to people who are interested in them, and I’ve read some pretty laughable ones thus far, like the insinuation that Fire & Blood is better than A Dance with Dragons and A Feast for Crows which even in a world of subjective thought is patently ridiculous no matter how much you fluff out the opinion with longwinded rigmarole.

It’s completely silly but I did have some general thoughts about my experience. First, I was famished for more words in this world because I knocked it out in two days and wanted more, something I suspected must occur soon as it was clear to me while I was halfway into Fire & Blood that there was no way this was going to be able to tell the whole story of the Targaryens up to Robert’s Rebellion. 

I didn’t know it was the first of two books prior to reading it but just so people know this first half doesn’t even get to the Blackfyre Rebellions. I mention that only because beyond Aegon the Conqueror’s subjugation of the continent that era seems to be one we know most about, probably because of how Blackfyres are central to so many popular forum reader theories throughout the decades regarding Illyrio, Young Griff, and obviously Bloodraven himself, not to mention being around the Dunk & Egg adventures

There is no dearth of Targaryens in Fire & Blood though so don’t worry, as GRRM I think successfully brings what feels like a series of Wikipedia pages to life which will inform the hell out of any passive reader of the series or Game of Thrones tv watcher with more detail than they’d ever want while giving just enough new revelations and nuance thrown in for those of us who scoured those aforementioned forums for years and who’ve read World of Ice and Fire multiple times and recite GRRM So Spakes off like Tolkien letter numbers. It’s probably much more of the former than the latter but I can respect the attempt at balance even as I wonder if this could ever be a book for non-heads and Martin has enough of those to make a Westeros-based book successful and give former Livejournal readers the hardcore minutia – what I call forum shit – that they crave.

There’s a playfulness in the writing, turns of phrases, that gave off a distinct authorial delight that makes me think this was a bit of palette cleanser for Martin who’d I’d imagine, just going by how long it’s taken, has found piecing Winds of Winter together to be a chore. While the story itself may lack whimsy completely, it is told in such a way makes the reading experience brisk and at times mischievous. 

Check out my interview with George R. R. Martin

For myself I took two things away from my reading of it, both of which are almost certain to not be of interest to anyone searching for write-ups about the book.

Some battles are won with swords and spears, others with quills and ravens. – Tywin Lannister

One of the things, perhaps the biggest thing, readers are going to be talking about from Fire & Blood is a letter Aegon the Conqueror received from Dorne that ended the war with Dorne, with Aegon and the throne conceding to every Dorne stipulation. This would be a continuation of a discussion that’s been had for years as this was detailed in the aforementioned World of Ice and Fire (2014) but I think it will gain eyes outside of Westeros-specific circles because Fire & Blood is written during a time where HBO’s Game of Thrones is perhaps the last and maybe the greatest of the monoculture tv shows.

As a fan I’m interested in the details and the truth of this matter and theories range from offers of mercy killing of a captured and tortured Rhaenys, ensorcellment, threats of Faceless Men, whispered truths about the legitimacy Aegon’s heirs and beyond but for the purposes of this specific post I was taken by the power of the sternly written email, or in the case for Westeros the pigeon-sent letter, or if you want to add emojis of importance, send your daughter with a Dragon Skull.

This is a culture of conquerors and war, of kings with exclusive privilege to dragons that can level armies and castles, of dumb masses who prescribe to faith. Even just watchers of the show can see that this is a more often than not a cruel and violent world. The words of the family is the title of the book: Fire & Blood. It’s a family, especially in this generation, who doesn’t fuck around.

Yet Prince Nymor of Dorne disarms them completely with a message sent via his daughter the Princess Deria. A message that ends in blood on Aegon’s hands (though I’m not sure if that’s some colorful authorial license.)

The letter Aegon receives he destroys immediately, he takes a trip to Dragonstone, returns, and immediately acquiesces to every single one of Dorne’s demands. Deria would not only survive this night, a messenger unkilled, but would later become the ruling Princess of Dorne 

Martin is a writer and obviously the power of words is not only something that means a lot to him, it’s his trade, it’s his art, it’s the thing in the world he resides in that has set him apart. You feel the power he gives to readers in A Song of Ice and Fire. Martin arms a dwarf and a fat soft kids in a martial world this curiosity and power. Kings clash, swords will storm, crows will feast, dragons will dance, but the power of the putting thought to writing is powerful and as a reader I was struck by this again and again in Fire & Blood.

There is an event in the history of King’s Landing called the Hour of the Wolf. It takes places after the Dance of the Dragons and is more or less a six day period of time that epic badass Cregan Stark, who marched all the way from Winterfell with his men, assumes power of the realm and starts handing out justice after the rest of realm made a mess of shit. He would relinquish power immediately (something I will also get back to later) after he was done and head back North but not before he took off heads with his own sword, an echo from the future of words we hear from Ned Stark. Again, this is an event that was also depicted in World of Ice and Fire (I’m starting to wonder if it’s all just repeated lol).

Yet our way is the older way. The blood of the First Men still flows in the veins of the Starks, and we hold to the belief that the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.

It’s pretty hardcore and awesome and is a dose of Starks that makes you feel good inside but what I want to talk about is a throwaway line later in Fire & Blood regarding a simple and straightforward letter from the North sent to the Throne by Cregan Stark sharing that he wouldn’t view in a positive light a proposed wedding (when then Hand of the King Unwin Peake tried to marry his daughter to the Throne).

And the shit didn’t happen.

Sure, there were many reasons and many people who were against the idea, plots within plots, but the plainness and matter-of-fact way that GRRM wrote it had me, the reader, going back and recalling what Cregan did during the Hour of the Wolf. 

In my head it was very much a Cregan saying: “you remember what happened the last time I had to come through? Please don’t make me have to come down there and do that again.” 

In the book it was single simple nondescript sentence by Martin. There was no illustration of a letter or the cliffhanger. It was just a random sentence that screamed at me.

In both instances the messages came from opposite poles of the continent and 2 of the 3 houses (along with the Iron Born) that are markedly different from the rest of the houses in the continent. The people of the North can be viewed as heretics from the point of view of people who worship The Faith of Seven. Dorne often feels like it’s viewed in-story as the somewhat queer & foreign kingdom (which is probably why any sensible person of today would want to live in Dorne, minus the shit desert). These are distinct cultural differences that make both houses feel like much more exotic flavors anytime they are introduced to the mix of the rest of the Seven Kingdoms and the methods of both messages given to us by Martin fit both those distinct thoughts.

Dorne is mysterious, exotic, unbowed, unbent, unbroken. There message may have been magical and carried a supernatural or clandestine threat. It came with the skull of a dragon.

The Starks were no frills. To the point. If they had to kneel they did. If they had to win a war they did. As much as we can ridicule the largest mistakes of both Ned & Rob Stark, both went to war and neither had ever lost a battle they commanded. They were undefeated in the field.

I just really loved how much the little, most base, things still get to me about Martin’s writing.

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Who Framed Roger Rabbit 4K Steelbook On the Way from Disney Thu, 19 Aug 2021 18:41:47 +0000 I really like it when must have movies get the steelbook 4k treatment.

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Bruh. On December 7th Best Buy will have an exclusive Who Framed Roger Rabbit 4k steelbook and it looks very nice.

who framed roger rabbit 4k steel book best buy disney

This is, with no qualification, is one of the best movies of the 1980s and when you watch it you will be shocked at how good it still looks.

There is no purchase link yet but this was announced by Disney and other stores will have a non-Steelbook version.

Between this and Perfect Blue (which comes out next month) I’m gonna be getting my animated rewatch on in the last quarter of 2021 and don’t forget that Robotech will be available next month as well.

Here is the non-steelbook (non-Best Buy) version:

roger rabbit 4k UHD Blu Ray Disney

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Entering the Magical Cities of Victoria Ying Thu, 19 Aug 2021 12:29:03 +0000 Some thoughts on City of Illusion by Victoria Ying.

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I keep it real here so I’ll admit City of Illusion is my entry into Victoria Ying’s work as a cartoonist (she has contributed to many films I’ve both seen and loved) but I have been aware of her because I’ve often stopped at her City of Secrets while browsing for books for cart glory. What has stopped me is that while I marvel at the unicorn that is a true all ages comic, I typically don’t invest a lot into either young adult or kids comics excluding weeklies I get of various manga. That isn’t at all to say my own interests are advanced, enlightened, complex, or better in anyway or even aren’t at time decisively juvenile if broken down, I’m just sharing the bonafides that I don’t possess as a reader. 

city of illusion victoria ying cover

I’m also not much for summaries and descriptions, you can go google these things on your own, there are countless review sources that reword the marketing blurb and add at the end some form of yay/nay for you to peruse, but I will share the three things that really made an impression on me, strong ones, as I introduced myself to Ying’s work. If you just need a gist it’s apparently a city hopping duo of friends – Hannah and Ever – in a steampunk dropback looking for that city’s robot as they dodge an antagonist who is doing the same. I’d guess every book is a new city, new robot, new denizens and friends as they do so, but that’s just a guess.

In those aspects City of Illusion is perfectly fine and cute.

I will begin by just saying I like Victoria’s art. I guess it makes sense given her background in animation but the art reminds me of art that I’ve either bought or looked through at auctions that are showcasing Disney animation prelims, storyboards, or concept art. A lot to graphic novels you see for young readers, even and maybe especially the super popular ones, have very dashed off or gestural art. These can be both effective and beautiful in their own right but Ying’s work feels incredibly rigorous relative to them, even as she leaves many panels quiet and not as detailed as others, not showing facial details at a distance etc, they are still very full in content and the moment and fill a page. She loses nothing when she doesn’t add these things.

It’s very appealing and sets a high standard and while many of pages adhere to an unbalanced grid, she will blow it out every now and to great effect.

When she pulls back to show landscapes from a distance you get scale in her work that I really appreciate and you don’t often see for a comic for this age group. She’s got skills, she’s worked on big projects, and she’s treating her own work as such and often it’s a lot with, again, a little – city blocks from above with just simple shapes but feels majestic.

The second thing I noticed is related to and makes the first even more impressive. This isn’t a small book. It’s over 250 pages which makes it slightly shorter than say a Tillie Walden graphic novel and you get a lot of the aforementioned art. I haven’t read City of Secrets but combined with it Ying has 500 pages of this story out in the world. These are substantial books and that’s a substantial amount of storytelling pages to have out there already especially in colour and it’s just a ridiculous amount of pretty great pages, that feels way more auteur in effort than a lot of stuff I see younger people in my life read.

city of illusion victoria ying

The third thing I noticed is somewhat of a criticism.

Well it was.

I went back and checked again and I have to recant some thoughts I initially had about the lettering though I do still think a lot of lettering in the word balloons specifically feel very uniform. I suspect given what age this book is directed at that perhaps clarity was the chief concern or maybe it was just an artistic choice that I just didn’t feel the same way about. I suspect the latter because too much thought went into the rest of book including the lettering on various sound effects in the book.

When I went back and thumbed through I did come out of it more impressed with those sound effects. Again, this is a very cool, and almost unbelievably rich book in terms of what Ying puts down on paper for the reader. Something does feel odd or unfinished with the lettering though.

Another confession… I guess even as a big fan of speculative fiction I’m not much of a steampunk mark. Certainly there are examples of steampunk I very much enjoy across mediums (the world(s) of Miyazaki, James P. Blaylock, Tim Powers among others) but it’s definitely a setting choice that isn’t the most fruitful for my tastes. It feels like a gene that I may just be missing because as so many people I know would highlight it as a favorite aesthetic, but I think I come from the angle of there are a handful of sort of iconic Steampunk artifacts that have to appear in every steampunk anything, be it comics, novel covers, posters, prints, tumblr, film, tv, whatever, and after awhile I’ve just seen them all too many times. I think I’ve seen enough zeppelins to last my lifetime by like 2010 and I got enough of big goggles between Seth Green in his totally iconic (and by now probably problematic) role in Can’t Hardly Wait and various DMX music videos which admittedly is a height we should all aspire too. I mean… what you really want?

There is a character in City of Illusion that I really dig too because she gave me Zatanna vibes. When it comes to DC comics, if I have an affinity for a specific corner in that universe it’s for the Shadowpact and Shadowpact-adjacent characters.

chifa city of illusion victoria ying


I may be team Chifa/Tanan tbh. I’m here for the Chifa extended universe.

I’m pleased to have been introduced to Victoria Ying’s work, I can see myself buying her future work, even if this specific series isn’t for me, and I did not hesitate to recommend it to my youngest niece and goddaughter both of whom enjoy comics and fancy themselves as future artists.

I do want to point this thing that really crystalizes that Victoria Ying is a person taste. If you go to her website and read her bio you will this:

She loves Japanese Curry, putting things in her shopping cart online and taking them out again and hanging out with her dopey dog.

There are many curries in the world worthy of my plate but it not only takes a keen and well traveled mind to know that Japanese curry rules all of them, it takes one with great ability to gauge what’s truly important in the world to include it in their bio.

Let’s get back to the work though and this is the single best thing about City of Illusion. There is an interesting collage of things going on that calling it steampunk doesn’t fully or properly do justice. Yes, that vibe is there and with it the natural Victorian feel that comes with it, but the characters are more Dickensian in nature, and I’d say Ying’s art is more coming from that direction, but also… and I want yu to stop here if you are a spoilerphobe…

I repeat stop reading now. You good, time to go about the rest of your day and leave this blog!

…adds asian flavor, japanese curry level, where my girl Victoria gives us full Japanese idol battle hymn in this joint and had me going all Lyn Minmay ham in my house!

I think I’m going to make some now and maybe read more Victoria Ying comics.

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5 Crime Novels (from someone who doesn’t read crime novels) Mon, 16 Aug 2021 19:16:19 +0000 For people that need their noir to have flavor.

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I know for a lot of people crime novels are a comfort zone, something they get in with ease, and I think we see this mirrored in the TV world where so much of TV is about either law enforcement, criminals (organized or otherwise), lawyers, or a combo of either or all of them.

I think there is an economy to the storytelling or at least a familiarity with it that is semi-universal that allows for people who are good at the form to be able to play in several mediums. There are many comic book writers who I think do or at some point would have styled themselves a crime writer or bring (or think they do) bring a noir sensibility to their work. Some of the great tv shows (like The Wire) have contributions by great crime novelists

This universal language hasn’t always clicked with me.

I tend to lean toward speculative fiction in my reading so while I do love a Blood Meridian, I will be the one telling the truth in a lit talk circle and say I prefer The Road. I like The Remains of Day but Never Let Me Go is perhaps my favorite novel. Some of the works below won significant science fiction/fantasy awards even as crime is driving force of them. It also means I’m not exactly dropping hidden gems here.

With that in mind let’s get to this.

charlie huston already dead joe pitt

Charlie Huston got me pretty good because I also usually dislike vampire fiction. After what I just got through saying this is a book that I do love the economy of, the ease that it gets you in, its grounded in New York with the one variable being vampires and other supernatural beings exist, including the protagonist of Already Dead, one Joe Pitt.

Pitt is a bit of a fixer/strong man/detective who does what he has to navigate the various clandestine vampire clans and still get the supply of blood he needs.

I think my only fear after reading Already Dead was that perhaps it was case of momentary fancy for me and my being intrigued by the premise was good for one shot but I can report that the next novel (there are 5 in all) is actually better than the first (and may be the best of the 5 tbh). I rarely pine for books to come back, I’m pretty good at letting things go, but I do find myself every now and then checking to see if Huston is working on another Case Book. I also think this would make a DOPE streaming show.

I interviewed Charlie Huston if you are interested.

new york trilogy paul auster

The New York Trilogy is pretty much already a cool lit reader classic by an author who is a cool lit reader fave.

Both hard boiled and post-modern its maybe the perfect ever mix and may encapsulate the best example of what I mentioned above with crime being an accessible vehicle for many stories.

I’d also add that there is a graphic novel adaptation that’s really more companion piece that is among the greatest comics I’ve ever read. It’s by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli and is related to City of Glass, which is the first of the three Auster novellas that combine to be The New York Trilogy.

I find most adaptations to comics to be fairly bad. It is not that far removed from film adaptations of video games in the scarcity of worthwhile endeavors. This graphic novel, however, is as good or may be even better than the source material, the source material is a chapter of what is considered a modern literary classic. Anyone who has read the books should read the comic and anyone who likes the best comics should read the comic. Worst case scenario, you appreciate it for Mazzucchelli.

city and the city china mieville

China Mieville was one of the buzziest or coolest speculative novelists coming out of the turn of this century. He was one of the writers that was at the forefront of recommendations for his generation’s “if you want to read fantasy that isn’t elves and shit” movement. His Perdido Street Station and (my favorite) The Scar are if not mini-foundational works of this century’s fantasy or science fiction, or what he branded New Weird, they broke through from the pack with a different sheen of cool than say a Neil Gaiman did.

The City and the City is Mieville’s foray into crime, mixing it with the aforementioned New Weird, and again you see the crime toys being used successfully in different genres and backdrops. I think Michael Moorcock hit it on the head when he reviewed the novel and its something I never really put together until but in essence it’s both smart and original, where a lot of even good novels are just one of those that get credited for both as if they are the same.

jonathan lethem

Don’t hold the Motherless Brooklyn notation on the cover against Lethem if you have seen the film. Edward Norton did something to that thing I cant really even decipher or recognize, it’s one of the worst movies that someone talented obviously put effort in that I’ve ever seen.

This is an early work by Jonathan Lethem and is a private detective in near future San Francisco and its one of those books where you should just legit see the Kangaroo in suit on various cover and know who Lethem is in literary circles and just buy it.

gun with occasional music lethem

Feel me?

finch jeff vandermeer

So Finch is actually my favorite Jeff VanderMeer novel. He kind of hit it big with his later novels starting with Annihilation (which became the movie). VanderMeer has multiple great novels before including City of Saints and Madmen, Veniss Underground, and Shriek: an afterword, some of which were set in his Ambergris setting, which may make Finch the hardest of these novels I’m listing to enter if you are someone who needs or greatly prefers a blank canvas or the familiar to most enjoy books, but once you get past the setting, again, crime is used here to ground you in the fantastic.

Finch is a crime novel and you don’t need to have read any previous novel to enjoy it, though those who have would get some references and enjoy it even more. I mentioned New Weird above with Mieville and Jeff was definitely in that lane or at least going in the same direction with much of his early work.

I’ve interviewed Jeff a couple of times, including one really long interview and a short chat about Predator.

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Perfect Blue Steelbook On the Way Thu, 12 Aug 2021 15:09:45 +0000 Get Satsohi Kon on your shelf.

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I will often just point to some stuff I’m pre-ordering here, especially steel books, and I do it partly because I’m just reminded of how much I like something and partly because sometimes its good to get these things early, as I wouldn’t want to pay the aftermarket price that sometimes steelbooks reach.

One example is one I blogged about earlier, Tokyo Beebop, which is now at least 2-3x more expensive to get. For sure this happens to series more often than films, I guess perhaps because of the higher relative initial price, but what this does happen with what I’m talking about today, Perfect Blue, is that they are both absolute classics of anime and animation in general.

perfect blue satoshi kon steel book

This new edition steel of Perfect Blue is coming out on September 14th from Shout! Factory and for people that know anything about anime there’s not much for me to need to say other than it’s coming out but for those aren’t and just dabble in anime, Satoshi Kon is one of the very topshelf masters of the form.

When you give people the Miyazaki and Takahata recommendation you mention Kon at the same time of. Of his films that he both directed and wrote he has never failed in delivering what is at least arguably a masterpiece.

Will definitely be on my shelf next month.

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Believing a Witch Can Fly Wed, 11 Aug 2021 22:34:52 +0000 Superman may have made you believe a man could fly, but Kiki has style and joy.

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Continuing my Studio Ghibli (and related) watch and sharing brief thoughts, and this is my follow-up to watching My Neighbor Totoro and pondering the joy of the mundanity of childhood running to now Kiki’s Delivery Service and the majesty of flight.

Miyazaki has plainly always been been obsessed with both aviation and movement within his films and with Kiki what came to mind was Superman, and the common saying and slogan you see attached to that original Christopher Reeve film of “you will believe a man can fly”.

kikis delivery service

This is better than that.

Kiki is not great at flying yet but being not great at flying is still goals af and it’s like when you first learn to drive, you’re not great at it but yo you still got to have your music blasting, and Kiki is off with just her cat and radio gliding and jamming, always beautifully yet not smoothly going fighting air currents and even pulling up to another bitch…err witch who you can tell just has it put together, has a newer model broom, and lives in a swank part of the country.

Even someone who isn’t an expert at flying looks majestic to those who can’t and it does so for those in Kiki’s adopted new city and to us the watcher. Even as she may struggle with the currents and climate there is just something primal about flying, one of the original superhero powers, and Miyazaki films always seem to capture that grandeur, joy, and dream realized.

This movie is impossible not to love.

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Running with My Neighbor Totoro Wed, 11 Aug 2021 22:02:34 +0000 Truly living life a quarter-mile at a time.

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I’m rewatching the Studio Ghibli movies on HBO, and yah, being half-Asian watching a Miyazaki movie makes me about as common and basic as it gets and it’s impossible to say anything about this movie that hasn’t been said, felt, dissected, and experienced by millions of others already and I’m not up to the task to do so either but I got caught up with a memory from my own childhood while watching My Neighbor Totoro this time around.

my neighbor totoro running

I’m a runner in that I go for a run everyday in order to say in some modicum of good shape, an act that is different from the pure exhilaration of just running around that Miyazaki illustrates. His is the joy and freedom of not even knowing where you are going, only that you are going and moving and not giving af how you look to on-lookers because you’re still in your own world and not a source of or subject to other people’s narratives. It’s the best kind of self-centered phase where your body is just the means of physically taking you to places so your mind can wander and wonder more.

It’s taking steps you don’t take twice everyday over and over and just wilding out and not having the repetition that often spawns cynicism.

I spent much of my younger childhood in Japan and I remember kinda just roaming around in a way I’d never recommend a kid do so where I am now even tho I live in what is probably one of the safest neighborhoods in the country and it makes me resentful for something lost. I’d literally roll up to other people’s houses and ask them if they could make me tamago gohan (and they would) which seems absurd now but watching Totoro made me recall how rad it was and now entranced I used to be with a brook that ran through my grandparent’s property, a brook I’d probably just walk on by now to get to where I was going.

What a gift this movie is.

Next up is Kiki.

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Cowboy Bebop Steel Book Coming To Help Your Media Shelf Make You Look Better Wed, 15 Apr 2020 21:35:06 +0000 Cowboy Bebop is simply one of the best things ever made.

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Been putting up a lot of interviews recently and haven’t been talking steel books since some new Studio Ghibli became available so let me correct that now and point to one I’ve definitely got on pre-order.

cowboy bebop

I particularly like getting the big or good anime in steel book and Cowboy Bebop definitely qualifies as both. It has been available before, there’s a particularly nice Korean set, but for stateside enthusiasts Best Buy has one for pre-order right now.

I don’t know what else really needs to be said about Cowboy Bebop, it exists as one of those things where you are one of 3 types of people. One, you already know about it and understand why you need this. Two, it’s something you should get right now so you can be one of the #1s. Or you #3 you’re stuck in the most unfortunate of loops where you pretend to be someone who likes awesome things but doesn’t like animation.

Be a #1 or #2.

Cowboy Bebop is basically universally acclaimed. In fact, it’s literally universally acclaimed. You have to actively be trying to not like it, it’s one of the best tv shows of any kind of all time.

If you like cartoons, animation, science fiction westerns, pulps, cyberpunk, or merely watching things on a screen play in front of you, this was made for you. It’s probably why it’s one of the anime masterpieces that really has translated well in the west were even all time best examples of either cinema or tv shows sometimes have difficulties crossing cultural barriers.

Highest possible recommendation.

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Bryan Lee O’Malley Does Twin Peaks Scott Pilgrim Style Tue, 14 Apr 2020 12:09:17 +0000 Bryan Lee O’Malley art for Puerto Rico and a Twin Peaks confession.

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There was a lot going against this Bryan Lee O’Malley print reaching my hands. I don’t usually buy prints, it might even be more accurate to say I’m anti-print and always prefer to buy original art, though once a print would lead me to obtaining original art decades later and now that I think about it hopefully the same happens for me with Tillie Walden art in the future.

twin peaks scott pilgrim bryan lee o malley wally brando

Also, while O’Malley is a rare creator that gets my dollar on any new project he does, he is a bit of an anomaly in that I don’t to date put any of his previous work in my personal pantheon even though the film adaptation of the work he is best known for, Scott Pilgrim, somehow exists as the most odd of, I think, perfect films, even as it delivered on to us by the glorious Edgar Wright to little financial fanfare I love that film.

Instead, I keep buying O’Malley much for the same reason years ago I bought China Mieville novels, for that tangible feeling and belief that somewhere, maybe ahead or maybe already existing hidden in parts within what had come before, lies a potential masterpiece.

When O’Malley misses you still feel you’re on the brink of something that could have been great and it’s an experience that is often times more exhilarating than consistent quality execution if one spaces their projects out far enough from each other. I recall reading his Seconds when it first came out and every turn of the page felt like the only thing between me and something monumental and while it didn’t land there it was exhilarating.

I also may be the only person who will admit he doesn’t give a shit about Twin Peaks.

I just missed it the first time around and attempts at catching up have never felt right, it always had the feeling of being just minutes outdated on any occasion I promised I’d rectify this apparent gap I have in essential TV.

I will give the catalog of people I perceive to be auteurs a chance and revisit their catalog but Lynch has never been that to me, even as I know it’s his true warranted place in the field, an ultimate artist respected by other artists across mediums, his output reverse engineered into elements by others to use as their own tools, a true breaker of rules.

But to me all that doesn’t overcome that he’s the guy who made a uniquely and monumentally awful Dune movie, and being a kid who found science fiction by randomly picking up Chapterhouse: Dune off the shelf and somehow fell in love, that’s among the most grievous of unforgivable of actions.

So how and why did I get this Bryan Lee O’Malley Scott Pilgrim/Twin Peaks mashup print?

Part impulse buy, part the aforementioned legit curiosity of all of the artist’s work, and mostly a good cause. O’Malley sold a bunch of these in support of Puerto Rico, something all of us should be able to get behind unless you are racist trash, and I got wind of it on twitter and jumped on it before they were all gone (I didn’t think they’d last long).

I guess that’s the long winded way of just posting a pic and saying I bought a print but that was everything that flashed across my mind in the seconds between me seeing it on twitter and buying it. I guess now that I think about it we shouldn’t expect less from an O’Malley Wally Brando/Michael Cera/Scott Pilgrim pop culture gestalt.

And against a lot of odds. I kind of love it.

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From Fantasy to Pulp Noir with Charlie Huston – Interview Tue, 07 Apr 2020 11:48:52 +0000 I love his Joe Pitt books and because I started a reread I'm re-presenting this interview I conducted with him.

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I usually solo interviews but this time I was joined by Brian Lindenmuth who was more familiar with Huston’s crime output and introduced me to the Pitt novels. Otherwise this would be just me deep diving on Joe Pitt and Moon Knight.

charlie huston

Huston’s Joe Pitt books are a bit of an oddity for me as I don’t typically care about vampire related fiction. I’m not really a classic monster guy but I think Huston applies it here in a way that many writers from a crime fiction background have invaded multiple genres and mediums (they took over comics in the beginning of the 2000s etc), stripping things down to a street level and familiar human folly we all have a basis to relate to.

I’m not sure that’s the appeal to me exactly as I get tired crime fiction tropes more than most, I just like the mood and how instantly you find yourself dropped in Huston’s world, and the world always needs more page-turners.

Coming off of a run on Marvel’s Moon Knight Charlie Huston is a writer who also has several novels to his credit, including three books into the continuing vamp noir adventures of Joe Pitt and The Hank Thompson trilogy.

This interview was conducted by both Brian and myself and we cover beat downs, The Hobbit, and funny books. Brian will kick us off with a question about the end.

Brian — Did you know from the beginning how the Hank Thompson trilogy was going to end?

Charlie Huston — No. Originally I thought Caught Stealing would be a stand alone. Some years after I had written it I had an idea of where Hank might end up. Later, when Ballantine bought Caught Stealing as part of a two book deal, they requested a sequel. By then I knew that if there were a second book a third would be required to finish the story, and I knew how it would end.

Jay – Could you tell us about the thought process and you decision to dip into the horror/fantastic mileu that the Pitt books represent? A fan, or is there something more easily or enhanced in the exploration of vampire element?

Charlie Huston — Honestly, after Caught Stealing, I was just interested in writing something about a badass. Hank is so very fallible, and generally stumbles into getting in and out of trouble. I wanted to write about a guy who goes looking for trouble, and who knows what to do when he finds it. Doing that in the form of a vampire mythology just let me indulge my imagination and not worry too much about the consequences.

Brian  — In mystery/crime fiction we often see the endless series character, were you consciously trying to upend that notion?

Charlie Huston — Not in any grand manner, no. But I did make a very conscious choice to tell a very specific story about Hank Thompson, one that would allow for an ending.

I’m not opposed at all to ongoing series at all. With Hank it was less a matter of being opposed to the format, and more the fact that it would have been untrue to the character to have him go from adventure to adventure. He was never built that way.

Jay – Your characters are given a sense of comfort or an anchor to New York City. Is there a special connection with the city and you?

Charlie Huston — Well, I lived there for many years. And I loved it. There is no middle ground with New York, it’s love or hate all the way. And if you love it, and you’re a writer, there’s no way I can imagine not writing about it, and sharing that love.

Brian — I love love love Det. Elizabeth “The Whacker” Borden. She might just be my favorite character of yours. Please for the love of everything holy tell me that we’ll get a novel with her.

Charlie Huston — That’s the plan. For me, anyway. The next trick will be getting a publisher interested. But, yes, I have a novel in mind. Basically the story of how Detective Borden got to be who she is. Which is basically the meanest, dirtiest, cruellest, most self-serving law enforcement officer ever.

Jay – In a previous interview you discussed a desire to write a Sword/Sorcery project, if struck with the right ideas. Has there been any development in that thought and what Sword/Sorcery do you admire?

Charlie Huston — I grew up on SF and fantasy. Like most kids of that ilk, I started with The Hobbit and moved directly to the Ring Trilogy. My taste in fantasy these days tends to run more toward the surreal than swords and sorcery.

That might include Jonathan Lethem, Jock Womack, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Chuck Palahniuk or Kurt Vonnegut. I’ll always rush to buy a new William Gibson, though his work is pretty much definitively not SF at this point. I don’t really read them anymore, but I grew up loving Ursula K. LeGuin, Larry Niven, Alan Dean Foster, Burroughs, John Christopher, Heinlein, Bradbury. I’d have to dig some boxes out of my parents; attic, but there are dozens more who I loved.

As for my own fantasy and SF aspirations, the novel I’m currently working on is a speculative crime story. Which is to say that it is a fairly straight-forward murder story, taking place today, but with the assumption that there was a world-altering event in the very recent past.

At, you can look in the Microfiction category for a story called “Harbinger, Kave and Tome” that will give you an idea of what kind of fantasy ideas I’m tinkering with.

Jay – Do you attribute any circumstance to the seeming rise in popularity (be it by writers or audience) of fantastic crime fiction? People like yourself, Butcher, Liz Williams, Matthew Hughes, a Michael Chabon dipping into the field. Are these merely the answer of a generation removed from Lethem or is it something more?

Is it something in your opinion born of the general crime/mystery community or squatters with new ideas?

Charlie Huston — Honestly, I don’t know enough about the crime/mystery community as such to be able to say one way or another. For that matter, I don’t read enough crime/mystery to be able to have my own opinion as to whether there has been a rise in popularity for the genre. Obviously crime stories are very robust.

The point of genre fiction is that it allows for a familiar structure that can be hung with any manner of decoration, so, at best, you get the comfortably known mixed with something new. If there is a surge in quality just now, I’d imagine that it’s more cyclical than anything else, just one of those min-zeitgeist moments where a number of writers hit their groove at the same time.

Brian – In Duane Swierczynski’s The Blonde there is an appearance (by name only ) of a couple of minor characters, The Dydak’s, who are crime scene cleaners.

When I interviewed him he indicated that they will be back in their own novel. Your winter ’09 novel (which has an even longer title then the new James Bond movie), The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death, is about “an L.A. slacker who becomes a professional trauma cleaner”. Are you two conspiring to create your own sub-genre? Is this the start of a trend? If I see a book about a cat crime scene cleaner in 10 years I’m holding you two directly responsible.

Charlie Huston — I didn’t know that about Duane’s plan. We’ve obviously been drinking the same water. I don’t think you could call it a sub-genre by any stretch. However, any crime writer would have to be lobotomized not to see the story-telling potential in a crime scene cleaning character.

Jay – You have talked of a third person project in the works, Have you found anything particularly freeing or limited in the switch from the first-person narratives you started your career own?

Charlie — I actually already finished and published, in the US, that third person book. It’s called The Shotgun Rule And, yes, it does present some other opportunities. You lose a little something in terms of reader identification and pace, but you gain a great deal in terms of the ability to reflect and expand on a moment.

Frankly, you can cheat a little more in third person, which I found immensely helpful. The crime scene cleaner book, The Mystic Are of Erasing All Signs of Death is first person, but past tense, which is new for me also. Now that lets you get away with murder. Past tense gives you all the time in the world to explain action, emotion, events that may inform one another, etc. I’m not saying it’s easier than present tense, but it almost felt relaxing after writing six present tense books in a row.

Jay – The element that strikes me in your Joe Pitt novels is not so much how he dishes out punishment (which he does so regularly) but how much he takes. Pitt regularly takes beatings — what does he keep standing up for?

Charlie Huston — I assume you mean to ask why he keeps standing back up. Because I assure you that Joe stands for nothing but his own self-interest. Basically, Joe gets back up because he doesn’t want to die yet. He has this one part of his life that’s beautiful to him, his girlfriend Evie, and as long as that’s there he wants to stick around

Jay – If you could describe every chapter of Joe Pitt’s story with a word, what word would you use to describe Every Last Drop?

Charlie Huston — Revelation.

Brian – It seems that Cassidy from Preacher is a distant cousin of Joe Pitt. Was he an inspiration?

Charlie Huston — No. I read the first issue of Preacher many years ago. Honestly, I cant recall if it was before or after I first conceived Joe. But any similarities between the characters are simply a matter of genre convention. I’m certain Garth Ennis is as big a fan of noir as I am.

The post From Fantasy to Pulp Noir with Charlie Huston – Interview appeared first on nekoplz.