Well that was real mature...

Well that was real mature...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Drafted into an Army of Darkness

I just wanted to call on all "Adventures in Pulp" fans to pre-order a copy "Army of Darkness" #1992.1 from their local comic shop or online retailer.

My www.adventuresinpulp.com partner and illustrator Matthew Childers will have an story appearing in the oversized oneshot due to hit shelves in November. Matt has worked hard to meet the deadline and anyone who follows our assorted "Adventures in Pulp" stories already knows he is a genius with a pen and pencil. We can expect the same level of fun and action in his depiction of Bruce Campbell's classic character of Ash and whatever weirdness they drop him into for this particular tale.

In the mean time, we have posted page seven of "JIGSAW WORLD" up at www.adventuresinpulp.com, please check it out! Still available for FREE are our three short stories "Dick Ruby and the Case of the Little Green Men," "Hawk and a Handsaw," and "The Four Horsemen"

The official solit info from Dynamite Entertainment:
With Ash getting hitched and the army of darkness continuously at the heels of the Chosen One, it's time to party like it's 1992... point one! Dynamite celebrates the success of the Army of Darkness series by going back to a simpler time -- when the internet was young and cell phones were ten pounds. This one-shot features stories that are classically Ash, by your favorite Army of Darkness writers: James Kuhoric, Steve Niles, Elliott Serrano, and Mike Raicht. Not to mention your soon-to-be new favorite, Cullen Bunn -- with a story that ties directly into the new story arc! Written by Steve Niles, Elliott Serrano, Cullen Bunn, James Kuhoric and Mike Raicht and art by Francesco Manna, Larry Watts, Juan Francisco Moyano, Juanan Antonio and Matthew Childers with covers by Lucio Parrillo and Roberto Castro. Pictured is the special and the variant cover.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Fall Baseball, Hate Mail, Thank Yous & New Dr. Who

Another round robin of assorted potpourri!

Fall Baseball
Xander started the fall session of Baseball a little over a week ago. Having been an assistant coach back in the spring, I volunteered to coach or manage a fall team. I found out two weeks ago that I would get to manage and to sweeten the deal I even got teamed with another assistant coach from Xander's little Pirates team. He's a fantastic coach and has forgotten more about baseball than I will ever know. The best part is we have a very similar coaching philosophy. First we believe that all the kids need to play. I always hate it when the "best" six kids play the whole game at key positions and six "bad" players alternate between the bench and outfield. Coach and I both agree that the only way to learn, REALLY LEARN, is by doing. So first we take the approach that EVERYONE plays and EVERYONE sits out. It was something I pushed for back in the spring and was over ruled on. Now, we get to put it in action. The old way, only teaches a kid who is struggling that the bench and right field suck. We believe that our way will get them excited about baseball. Second, while some kids may be stronger in certain spots, ultimately it's in their long term best interest to teach EVERY kid EVERY position. Yea, in the short term our win-loss record may not be impressive, but it should be about the kids' long term development. In the spring, whatever team they end up on, they will be able to play anywhere on the field. That's far more important than a win-loss record for fall ball. We also believe in getting back to basics. Our fall ball team, which is a fantastic group of kids, consists of a wide range of experience and abilities. One kid has never played before while some are All-Stars, and we have all kinds in between. Our idea is start very basic, we don't want to leave the beginner behind and the experienced kids need refreshers - as I tell them "Even Freddie Freeman hits off a tee at practice." It's exciting to know that we can have some kind of impact on these kids long term. Not just in terms of learning but in terms of loving the sport. Too often the adults get too wrapped up in it and turn it into "Daddy Ball" (a term I learned from the grandmother of one of my players) with a "winning at all costs" attitude or a "my kid first" attitude. Our goal is to give it back to the kids by making it about basics, fun, and, you know, actually playing ball.

Hate Mail (or Post)
I tweeted a while back that my wife found a facebook post criticizing one of my blog entries. You would think my feelings might have been hurt, but honestly it's just someone's Facebook post. Why get upset? Truthfully it was hilarious. Peter David once commented years ago in his "Comic Buyers Guide" column that demented off base hate mail usually follows the three D's - Distort, Distract and Dissemble. And it followed that pattern EXACTLY. First, it took something I wrote and distorted it to say what they needed it to say to justify their ire rather that what it actually said. Second, it tried to distract from the actual issue by bringing up a completely unrelated issue. Finally, they wrote something that was just flat out not true. Honestly, while I was not overly surprised (I had been expecting some sort of hate mail, just from a completely different blog entry) I am shocked at the effort they went to in distorting, distracting, and dissembling. I thought about copying and posting it here (sans name, of course) and picking it apart one line at a time just for fun, but truthfully if someone, anyone, gets THAT upset about one of my blog entries they must have some issues in their personal life that need addressing. I have been considering printing and framing the post and keeping it on the wall in my office, not just as a keep sake for my first "hate mail," but as a reminder that it's best not to get upset over unimportant things like someone's blog (or Facebook posts or tweets). My honest suggestion to anyone who tortures themselves by getting worked up over such things is: if you ever don't like someone's blog or tweets or Facebook posts, stop reading them because if they tear you up that much once, then it will probably happen again. As to that initial blog or post that got you riled up, if you dislike their opinion that much, you have to ask yourself *why* do you care what they blog about, *why* do you even care what their opinion is? Chill, life is too short. As the kids say today: "Haters gonna hate." It doesn't matter if it's a blog you disagree with or a Facebook post that distorts, distracts and dissembles, let it go, their opinion doesn't matter. There are so many more important things to worry about in the world. Which brings me to...

Thank You to My Readers!
Those of you who come back time and time again, or recommend my blog to friends, thank you so much. My "clicks" have been off the hook lately. I don't know if you are Adventures in Pulp fans who are finding your way here from that site or if you are a twitter follower who wants to follow the long form, or are just a blog fan who randomly tries stuff out at Blogger, but no matter what: THANK YOU. Every click, every link, every time you suggest someone to google my blog, leads search algorithms to make it easier for others to find my blog and my work at Adventures in Pulp. My readership spans the US, Canada, Europe and more, which honestly shocks me. I frequently find my own entries to be self indulgent and uninteresting (mainly because I am not that interesting a person). But I must be interesting reading to someone (you poor soul). Anyhow, please keep those clicks coming and thank you!  Truthfully, I find my fiction far more readable than the blog.  For example, we are six pages into Chapter 1 of JIGSAW WORLD. Those of you who might have been wanting something longer with more character development, this is your book. Also fans of Flash Gordon style pulp adventure sci-fi comics might want to check in on this one.

New Doctor Who!
The family unit settled in Saturday night to watch Peter Capaldi debut as the new Doctor on "Doctor Who." As with all premiere episodes, they play it cagy as to what the new Doctor's personality will be with his post "regeneration" confusion and madness. At this point ,the dance is almost always the same: An actor leaves and fans panic, only to try the new guy and to find, while different, he's pretty awesome in his own right. I think, while Capaldi is a HUGE departure from the much younger Matt Smith, fans will come to embrace him and love him as well.  Besides the episode had steam punk cyborgs and dinosaurs roaming Victorian England. How can anyone hate THAT? Yeah, I am such a nerd.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Xander's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

How awesome is Xander?

He took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and put up his own allowance money for the cause.

Unlike a lot of people, we did not spare the ice.

Does it make me evil to confess, that there was some tiny twinge of satisfaction in getting to dump ice water on my little kinetic ball of energy?

You can see it here:

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Living Up to the Hype: Guardians of the Galaxy (and the Cinema)

"Guardians of the Galaxy." I have spent the last week trying to find the words to adequately praise this movie.
As a warm up exercise I decided to send an e-mail to a friend who is resistant to the Marvel movies. He once told me the Raimi "Spider-Man" trilogy, "X-Men" trilogy and Nolan's "Dark Knight" trilogy, were the definitive comic book movies and that he really had no need or desire to see anything else. We had a fun debate about that. My position is yes, they are great, but how can you make a statement like that without seeing the Marvel films; they were/are the only movies being made by the people who make the actual comics. That doesn't even get into the issues of picking and choosing from years and years of characterization and storylines, artistic license, varying interpretation, etc. (I, of course, sent him "Watchmen" pointing out that it is a rare straight up adaptation of a single story). 
Ultimately, it's a tricky proposition because I know he's been resistant to dive into the Marvel movie series. The closest he was to being tempted was with "Avengers" mainly because it was Joss Whedon. He and I both love "Firefly"/"Serenity." But then who with a brain doesn't (I, for the record, love all of Mr. Whedon's work, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel," "Dr. Horrible," and even the under rated "Dollhouse")? Even though he was tempted by Joss-the-Master, he ultimately backed off because he didn't want to do the "homework" of watching the previous films. I explained that each film, while a link in a chain, comes together to form a larger story, that he could, in fact, see "Avengers" that it does stand alone as a single piece. Like episodes of J. Michael Straczynski's brilliant novel for television, "Babylon 5," where each episode combined to tell a whole story that is stronger and better with all the pieces in place simultaneously, each individual episode works equally as well as solitary tales. My argument was half hearted since I confess I am an obsessive compulsive completest. So if our situations were reversed, I also would have wanted to do my homework. I just don't consider watching well made, character driven, smartly plotted, imaginative movies, "work."

What can I say, it takes all kinds.

He's stubborn and getting set in his ways but then so am I. He's a good guy but with one to three films coming out a year (not counting the in continuity tv show, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."), the longer he waits, the less chance it will happen. I'm genuinely sad for him. He's missing out.
You see, being from the same generation, he and I suffered from the same affliction of skepticism. Big summer blockbusters tended to be full of empty SFX and big set pieces and if you wanted a smartly plotted, character driven film you had to look in the nooks and crannies of the video store (remember those?) to find some obscure low budget independent film. The big action flicks were mindless entertainment for Joe Sixpack.
But lately the television and film auteurs are the geeks who studied classic film ad who also grew up reading the pulps and comics. They wanted to combine the sensibilities of both and tv and film have improved greatly for it.
James Gunn is a great example of that and "Guardian of the Galaxy" lives up to all of the hype. It's that good. His pacing is pitch perfect, his characterization is flawless, the plotting is solid, the dialogue is Whedon-sharp and irreverent. The greatest irony of all is that there is both a freshness to the film as well as elements that seem familiar: Loving pastiche's on films sci-fi fans will love.
So I begged my friend, "if you only see one (Marvel movie) - this would be the one."
It lives up to the hype (which is considerable). Gunn does a better job with it than (and this might be a sin to say aloud or typeset for any to read) Joss did with Avengers. Unlike Joss, James does not have the benefit of A & B list characters each of whom already had stand alone films to give origins and character set up before "coming together" in Avengers. Nope, Gunn has D list characters all of whom show up for the first time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (In fact the only two characters who "appear" in previous films are Thanos, who had a non speaking cameo in the "Avengers" mid-credit bonus scene and The Collector who appears in the post credits bonus scene of "Thor 2: The Dark World").
In short, it stands well on it's own.  The characters are obscure even to a lot of comic book fans, and Gunn is now, in my opinion a mad-genius who out did Joss with a harder movie to make.
While the comparisons to the original "Star Wars" are inevitable, it is actually easier to compare to "Firefly." In fact, the short hand I would use to describe this film to movie fans who don't read comics would be: "It's Singer's X-Men meets Whedon's Serenity"
Both my son and my wife want to see it again. The former I get, this movie will be to him and kids his age and younger what "Star Wars" was to my generation. But my wife, while supportive in my choice of wanting to write comics, her eyes frequently almost hit escape velocity she rolls them so hard at my geek-like tendencies. So, Gunn did something really, really right to get the nerd, the kid AND the wife/mom. Oddly we all even agree on the best character. And it is EXACTLY the character you would think is the lamest and most over the top going in. But isn't that the way. Everyone who I convince to watch "Babylon 5" and "Farscape" all say the same thing. "Muppets in space, I can't take that seriously" or "What's up with that dude's hair, I can't take him seriously." Ultimately Rigel and Londo each become their favorites. This is the way it is with Rocket the Raccoon. I dare anyone to hate that character when all is said and done.
So as I said, it used to be summer popcorn flicks were empty sci-fi or fantasy movies that  were FX laden, with emphasis on set pieces instead of plot and characterization. I am so glad to see guys like Rami, Singer, Whedon, Nolan, et al change this the last few years with fantastic comic book movies. Now, Gunn has taken it to the next level with this super-hero sci-fi fusion film that is an amazing blend of subtle and over the top. Character and action, fx and dialogue. With J.J. Abrams moving on to "Star Wars," I want Gunn to take over the "Trek" franchise, heck maybe he can take over the "Star Wars" franchisee as well. Both would be better for it.
In short: If you haven't seen it yet, go see it.
Even if you are not a fan of the Marvel films. Go see it.
Even if you don't like Sci-Fi. Go see it.
Even if you don't like super-hero movies.
Go see it.
If, like my friend, you have not been watching the Marvel movies, you can do your "home work" of watching the previous films (all of which are good to great films, no real stinker in the bunch).  But if it is too much for you, "Guardians of the Galaxy" does stand on it's own, so if you only see one movie from Marvel...
As I wrote this my friend e-mailed me back. His response was an atypically short: "Will do!  I may wait until DVD, if that's OK." Look up "pyrrhic victory" in the dictionary. He may have been humoring me (or at the very least did not want to get into another debate on the Marvel films). But, boy never did a win hurt so bad. Some films are once in a generation films need to be experienced on the big screen, perhaps even more than once. This is one of those.
So for the love of God, please I beg you. Go. See. It. In. The. Theatre.
It is actually worth your valuable time and money. It's the kind of good that brings out the little kid in middle aged men. It's the most fun I have had since I was a kid seeing the original "Star Wars" Trilogy or "Raiders of the Lost Arc."
It's *that* kind of good.

Don't forget to give me a follow on twitter @BrettTHarris and read my webcomics at www.adventuresinpulp.com

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Post Con, Bonus Pages, Recognition, and a Breather

With RobCon 2014 now in our rearview, I can honestly say it was a blast. I took part in the first RobCon panel (a writer's panel) which was fun, if painfully under attended. Matt and I (left) always have fun meeting new people and introducing www.adventuresinpulp.com to new potential readers. The highlight was when a wonderful young lady came up to us and told us how much she enjoyed our stories.

Best. Convention. Moment. Ever.

It really makes all the hard work and stress worth it to know that someone likes our little tales.

Xander even got into the spirit by forgoing the costume contest (which, if you knew the little guy, was a supreme sacrifice) to promote Adventures in Pulp by wearing his Dick Ruby and the Case of the Little Green Men shirt.  He even covered the table while we attended the panel (right). Of course he picked up some bronze age comics and even got to visit a Tardis (below left).

Speaking of Xander, this Sunday at the Bristol Pirates game he will be recognized for his victory in the Hit, Pitch, Run competition this past April (below right). But, to quote my favorite blog, I digress...

We managed to see Guardians of the Galaxy over the weekend, which is, in my opinion the best of the Marvel films to date and the best movie of the year so far. That is saying something considering what Joss Whedon did with Avengers. I've been trying to work up the energy to write a review about it but to be honest the last three days have been the slowest three days I can recall having since early March. It was a hectic spring that turned into a crushingly busy summer. So it was nice to relax for a change. I hope to get to it soon. I kind of feel I have to because the mad-genius of filmmaker James Gunn deserves comment.

Adventures In Pulp put up a BONUS page of Jigsaw World, today, so both pages 3 and 4 went live. Page 3 wraps up the 3 page teaser/prologue and page 4 gives us our first look at Dan Gideon, the series star. Remember, the pacing for Jigsaw World is VERY different from our first three short stories, so if you are a fan expecting the cliffhanger-a-page pacing, you may be disappointed BUT over the long haul the characterization and plotting will be far more complex. 
UPDATE SUNDAY 5/24: Xander's recognition for his Hit, Pitch Run win will be pushed to another date. The Bristol Pirates game was delayed due to weather.