(Big &) Tall Tales

I write things for people to read.
Sometimes, people read those things.

Scifi author spoils his entire book series for terminally ill fan

Great article, and a great reminder about the power of escapist fiction and how it can touch people. That kid’s lucky to have a friend like that.

Serious kudos to the people at Del Rey and to Harry Turtledove. I’ve never read any of his stuff, but you can bet I’ll be hitting it up on my Kindle now. I love giving my money to good people.

Woman in Comedy: A really scary thing happened to me last night at a comedy show.


Part of me thinks it’s too soon to be writing about this because I don’t think I’ve completely processed how I feel, but I also think maybe this has happened to other women and I should talk about it in as raw a way as possible. I’m still really embarrassed and ashamed and garbled up inside, but maybe this can start a helpful discussion in terms of women and comedy.

Last night, I was on a stand up show in the East Village. The show started out with a small crowd and the host did an amazing job interacting with them and riling them up. By the time I got on stage, there were about 20 or so more people in the audience and the place had really filled up. The show was still kind of loose because of the back and forth between the host and the audience, so when I got on stage, I riffed a bit about the stuff that had happened before and then talked to one guy on the side of the audience who the host had dubbed “Banana Republic.” All joke-y. All in good fun.

Then, I start my actual set and do my first two jokes, which go pretty okay. I start another joke that is vaguely sexual - not crude, not crass - mainly silly and that goes well too. The next joke I do is about my boyfriend.

At a comedy show, when you’re on stage, usually you can’t see the audience because of the bright lights. So I’m looking into pitch darkness. As I start the joke, someone yells, “Does your boyfriend know?” referring to the sexuality joke I’d just told. I stop, laugh and say that he does because I think it’s just more of the loose environment that’s been going on at this show. I attribute it to an audience member just having fun.

I start to tell the joke about my boyfriend again, and at the midway point, the same voice yells something else derogatory about my boyfriend, homophobic and misogynistic towards me. I stop, confused. I can’t see who is talking to me so I make a HUGE mistake and say, “Sir, if you’re gonna talk to me, you need to come to the front because I can’t see you.” I think calling him out like this will shut him up.

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This right here is why I still want to walk my fiancee everywhere, why I want to hold the door for her, and why I’m doing a story in Hunter Black about why the best swordswoman in the world gets no respect. I’ve never fancied myself a “feminist,” mostly because I think that the feminist MOVEMENT is often so wrongheaded, putting its agenda before the actual desires of individual women.

But I’ve been reading a lot of stuff by a lot of women lately, and spending a lot of time with a lot of women. This makes me want to kick some ass to make sure that they’re treated better.

Shotgun Reviews: What It Feels Like For A Girl (In Comics) by Janelle Asselin

It’s weird. I guess I’m just enough of a sexist to be a gentleman, and to want to protect my fiancee and sisters and mom and female friends and to take care of them…but not enough of a sexist to ever stop them from being themselves.

I think if geek girls had been a “thing” in my day, and the gals who worked at my local comic store weren’t REALLY fans, I might’ve ended up with one sooner.

(My fiancee loves Game of Thrones, John Carter, and Supernatural. She might not be into comics, but she reads everything I do, so…she’s a geek whether she likes it or not.)

Reading things like this just trips me out, that’s all.  Well, it hasn’t been lost on me that I’ve had more success in mainstream comics with female editors than their male counterparts.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I was targeting Janelle as someone to try submitting to at DC.)

It’ll probably annoy Will a tiny bit that a great deal of what’s going on in Hunter Black right now, introducing the best swordsman in the world, who happens to be a woman and isn’t taken seriously as a result, is my tiny commentary on geek sexism. 

Happy Birthday!!!

Today is Art Spiegelman’s birthday. I haven’t read a lot of his work; I gravitate toward work that is escapist in nature, his stuff is steeped in TRUTH. I have, of course, read Maus multiple times.

I believe that he is the poster child for craft and for honesty in comics. I believe that he elevates our medium. I am ashamed that I’ve seen so little of his work. I know more about him than my reading experience would lead you to believe, though, and I have a great deal of admiration for who he is and how he does things, even if I’m more of a mainstream guy at heart.

Anyway, I just thought that you should know that.


T-Rex Trying to Pick Flowers…



T-Rex Trying to Pick Flowers…




Debtor’s Prison - Alan Moore

I feel compelled to write this in part because I sort of took Alan Moore to task a bit over the “Before Watchmen” drama. While my basic feeling remains unchanged, that the main reason that he’s so bothered is about being in control, which isn’t necessarily something people need to get up in arms about, my fear is that my previous post can be construed as a lack of respect for the man and for what he does…and for what he wants. I do respect his desire to not have his worked expanded upon, even as I don’t necessarily believe that he needs to get what he wants. I’m a bit of a control freak sometimes, and I might feel as he does were I in his shoes, to be honest.

The truth about Alan Moore is this: There is no finer writer in the history of comics. There are some on his level, and there are some individual works that outshine some individual works of his. But there isn’t a single writer that I can think of that can be described as BETTER.

It’s impossible for someone to be such a seminal figure in the maturation of the medium and to have not influenced me. When I was struggling to figure out how to write a comic script, I came across a collected edition of Watchmen containing a script sample of his from the first issue. Man, it was detailed. Now, one of the key things about a script is that it’s not intended to be read by the audience, it’s a means of communicating what is going on and how it should be depicted to the artists and editors. I didn’t really understand that at the time, and I started trying to write scripts the same way. I can dig back through some of my oldest work and find scripts with incredibly lengthy panel descriptions. What I didn’t know then is that I’m not Alan Moore.

What I mean by that is this: Alan Moore has an incredible command of his story and meticulously plans what might seem like unimportant details in the now…but will pay off down the line. I’m not really that kind of a writer. I often have some pretty detailed notes about where my story is going, and I often include details that are intended to pay off, but I also write from the hip A LOT. I don’t want to say that that’s a necessity with the online comics, but with the way my career is proceeding it is.  The ultimate ending of Hunter Black is out there, in the broadest of strokes, and we’ve barely even breathed on that possibility in terms of hinting at it. But I think Alan Moore knows that stuff from the beginning of his writing, even when he’s doing something long form.

Additional, he might be the best visual writer in the comics biz. HE KNOWS HOW THINGS SHOULD LOOK. I’m not saying that he replaces the eye of the artist, but if he understands how things should look and why, he has an obligation to communicate that. Speaking for myself, and probably for most professional comics writers, I’m better off letting the artist do what he does, nine times out of ten. There’s only been one time in Hunter Black where Will and I disagreed with how a panel should be constructed and I ended up thinking my way was better. (Will probably knows what that is.) Usually, Will knows best, because he spends more time thinking visually than I do. In any event, to my mind, ties should go to the artist in that regard, just as ties about story beats, dialogue, etc. should go to the writer.

Alan Moore is one of two writers, the other being Greg Rucka, who has demonstrated to me the importance of RESEARCH. I mean, I always walk away from his stuff feeling like he knows everything about everything. That can’t possibly be true, but he clearly reads and researches so much that is seems that way. That’s probably why I like fantasy so much, I get to just make shit up as I go. (I’m so lazy.) But I like my writers like I like my politicians: I WANT TO BELIEVE THAT THEY ARE SMARTER THAN ME. I don’t want to read something by someone who knows less about the subject at hand than I do. Alan Moore makes me feel that all the time.

But I guess the debt the I owe Mr. Moore more than any other is that of setting the bar. Watchmen is near-universally considered the high watermark of the medium, certainly of the superhero genre. V For Vendetta. Top 10. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. ALL of these works are incredible. There’s a ton of other stuff I’m not mentioning, mostly because that would be a lot of typing. And while I acknowledge that I’m practically not playing the same sport as Alan Moore, let alone in the same league…that doesn’t mean that I don’t aspire to be. There’s only one acceptable end result of my writing career for me. One day, I want to hear someone ask the question, “Who’s the best writer in comics?” And then I want to hear this response: “It’s a toss-up…either Alan Moore or Justin Peniston.” So I have plenty of work to do, thanks to Alan Moore. (Damn it. I really am lazy.)