Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gloriously Busy October! Part One


What a month I'm having! This has been the busiest, and most fun, Autumn Season I've had in years. In fact, I'm still swamped like crazy, but I've shamefully neglected my blog for far too long. So, without any further excuses, I'll try to bring us up to date.

First up was the fabulous FallCon 2009, on October 10 & 11. Here I am after Lisa helped set up my table. (Click for much bigger images.)

As you can see, I had twice as many books to offer this time and, very happily, this was by far my most successful convention appearance ever. I was stunned. Everyone's tables were crowded and busy. The Recession apparently didn't exist in the minds and wallets of the multitude of fans who excitedly purchased their favorite books with a seemingly endless supply of twenty dollar bills. It was amazing.

FallCon was, once again, held at the Grandstand of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds and was more colossal than ever. Over 200 professional guest creators were there! There were many times, in years long past, when I'd been in attendance at a comic book convention where hardly that many fans even showed up. What's that? You say you heard that the comic book industry is dying? Nonsense. Don't believe it for a moment. Come to Minnesota and we'll prove that claim is dead in the water.

Special thanks and appreciation for Nick, Mike, Sarah, and all the other great FallCon folks for making this possible!

One of my very favorite moments was when I was asked, for the very first time, to sign the Superman & Batman caps for a charity auction. Every year these autographed caps make the rounds to creators who've worked on books featuring the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight, and it was a genuine emotional experience for me to lend a hand.

Near the end of that Saturday I was invited to participate in a discussion panel on the modern resurgence of the Pulps, accompanied by Moonstone Publisher Joe Gentile, Tom Floyd, and Christopher Jones. Among the things we talked about was how the hero pulps of the 1930s & 40s, like Doc Savage and The Shadow, had influenced our own work and careers. Loads of fun.

Plus, Joe revealed that Moonstone will be reviving the classic Air Fighters characters in an on-going comic book anthology series. Artist Ver Curtiss and I are continuing to have a grand time with our new WW2 adventures featuring the return of Black Angel. The premiere issue will be in comic shops January 2010.

Joe was still full of surprises when he offered me the position as the writer on Moonstone's The Spider pulp series. I'd written two new stories featuring The Spider a couple years ago, both comics and a prose short story. Also, I composed the box text for ReelArt's Spider statue. I love this character and Joe knows that. I'm thrilled to now be the official pulp scribe for the Master of Men.

If that wasn't enough, Joe contacted me again, just a few days later, and accepted the proposal my pal Tom Floyd and I pitched to him for Ki-Gor! We'll be producing both comics and pulp prose adventures for the Jungle Lord. Very exciting stuff--and Tom and I are feeling like teenagers again.

No wonder this is my favorite time of the year.

Stay tuned for more news soon!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Bela Lugosi!

My own personal introduction to the extraordinary presence of Bela Lugosi was an epic one.

When I was just about 5 years old, I vividly remember being allowed to stay up a bit later than usual one night to watch some kind of "monster special" on TV, which I’ve since learned was called Monsters I Have Known And Loved. Excited as I was to see the show, I actually don't recall a great deal about it, other than it showed lots of monster movie clips, most of which have dimmed into a soft blur in my fading memory.

However, the one film clip I do very clearly remember was an eerie shot of Bela Lugosi in full vampire attire, gesturing weirdly at a cowering man who began to suddenly change into a werewolf.

I was awed at the scene and also confused. I asked my older brother what was happening and he told me that “Dracula had magic powers because he drinks human blood and can change guys into wolf-men the same way he can turn himself into a bat, and then make them his slaves.”

At the time that made a kind of creepy sense, and I never forgot that single, chilling scene.

Through the pulpy pages of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, I discovered the title, and a description of the film--Return of the Vampire!

So now I finally knew what to look for in the TV movie listings! I remember being a little disappointed (and a trifle baffled) that a movie studio had gone through all the trouble to cast Bela Lugosi as a vampire who wasn’t Count Dracula at all. Still, it was Bela, and vampires, and werewolves and I couldn't wait to see it.

It would turn out to be a very long wait.

For some unknown reason the movie never showed up in the Fright Night and Creature Features monster movie packages shown on our local stations. After reading a very fine description of Return of the Vampire in Don Glut's excellent The Dracula Book, I was even hungrier for the film than ever. Still, it never played on TV.

Even as I reached my adult years I never stopped looking in the newspaper for that film. Although I managed to search out and see nearly every other Bela Lugosi movie, I was beginning to believe that Return of the Vampire must've been a "lost" film. Then, one rainy afternoon, I stumbled upon a VHS copy in 1989. At last!

I wasn’t disappointed as the movie actually did live up to its promise of chills and thrills. Return of the Vampire is a first-rate horror film, oozing with atmosphere, especially in the early graveyard scenes, and features—so I believe—Lugosi’s most malevolent performance as a vampire. His glowering, powerful, and sadistic Armand Tesla gives me the savage impression that he could tear Count Dracula in half.

All this and a werewolf, too! This fright film is pure gothic magic to me, with Lugosi delivering a skillful underplayed performance that is nothing short of mesmerizing. Of course, obviously, my own nostalgia also adds considerably to the creepy charm of Return of the Vampire.

No wonder this remains my favorite Bela Lugosi starring vehicle.

It’s been a long road since those days, searching out a lost Lugosi treasure, and my admiration for the actor has continued to grow. Bela was, I always realized, a powerful influence toward my early decision to become a professional writer while still in my teens. My frequent choice of subject matter is also, no doubt, partially inspired by the ghost of Bela Lugosi.

Today, I’m honored to be contributing an original story for BELA LUGOSI’s TALES FROM THE GRAVE, a new horror anthology comic book series, the brainchild of acclaimed artist, and fellow Lugosi admirer, Kerry Gammill.

Finally, after all these years, Bela Lugosi and I get to work together. How amazing. How utterly magical.

A dream come true.

Thank you, Mr. Lugosi. Thank you so much, for everything.

And, Happy Birthday.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Halloween Girls

I've recently been posting these slightly spooky lovely ladies on Facebook, but I think they deserve a more permanent home.

Happy October!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

PINOCCHIO is here!

My new graphic novel adaptation of Carlo Collodi's PINOCCHIO has been published!

Of all my children's books I've written to date, this one is probably my favorite. This exciting adventure story is epically illustrated by Alfonso Ruiz, and is published by Stone Arch Books as a faithful retelling of the original classic book.

The very handsome hardcover perma-bound edition should be in all major bookstores and libraries very soon, along with the modestly priced paperback version.

Hope you'll give it a look!

ISBN: 9781434215833/ 1-4342-1583-0

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

FallCon 2009!

Guess it's not too early to mention that FallCon, the Midwest Comic Book Association's huge comic book convention, is coming up this weekend!

The celebration is Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 5 pm, located at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, Saint Paul, MN. Over two hundred guests consisting of publishers, professional artists and writers (including me) will be there, with discussion panels, portfolio reviews, free autographs, art auctions, costume parades, and more comic books than you ever thought possible.

Also, this Saturday I'll be joining Moonstone's publisher Joe Gentle, artists Barbara Schulz, Christopher Jones, and Tom "Captain Spectre" Floyd for a panel on the Resurrection of the Pulps.

Hope to see you there!