My friend Kristina Krengel interviewed me for an assignment in her graphic novel class. (Pause. How awesome is it that “graphic novel class” exists?) Since you’re here and I’m here, I thought I’d share what I shared.
Some of these anecdotes have been posted before. Am I turning into that guy who shares the same stories over and over?
When did you begin reading comics/graphic novels and why? I know I’ve talked to you about it helping with dyslexia (I’ve used that as a pro with my reading teachers before. Thanks.), but was that why you began to read them or just a positive byproduct?
I began reading comics when I was about nine years old. I have dyslexia, but I wasn’t diagnosed until I was an adult. All I knew as a kid was that I had a hard time reading, and I got held back in elementary school because of my grades. Then I discovered comic books, mostly Marvel Comics — X-MEN, POWER PACK, CLOAK AND DAGGER, X-FACTOR, and NEW MUTANTS. And something clicked. Of course, now I know word balloons group the text in a way that makes it easier for someone with dyslexia. And the illustrations reinforce the words, working in harmony, so that the reading experience is at a more “natural pace” and can be enjoyed. It helped that the stories were wonderfully dramatic, heartbreaking, funny, surprising, and a little crazy. I never missed an issue. It was the fun, expansive universe that I was able to engage in. Read more →
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” — Ernest Hemingway
I saw MAN OF STEEL last night. This was the summer movie I was most looking forward to (more than THOR, WOLVERINE, or IRON MAN), and I really enjoyed it. Yes, Richard Donner made a better “Superman movie” that was more faithful to the original mythos. With Donner, we get Krypton, Smallville, and Metropolis, Lois and Lex and Jimmy Olsen. We get gags with glasses and alter egos. But if you treat MAN OF STEEL like an “Ultimate universe” (an edgier, reimagined and updated version of a superhero universe… with more goatees), then you can set your checklist aside and just enjoy the film. And I did.
SPOILERS abound. Read more →
Last week, I spent nearly two hours talking with Jake Ekiss from Space-Gun Studios about writing comics, writing prose, working with artists, and all manner of topics in between. When the conversation was all over, it was dubbed a podcast and posted online.
You can listen to it here, or go crazy and download the entire mp3.
Dear BBC and Steve Moffat, do not take me too seriously.
Now that Matt Smith is leaving Doctor Who, fans are making their suggestions/predictions for a new Doctor. My daughter is in the camp that wants the first girl Doctor. She is also adamant that if it’s “someone old” she will stop watching. I explained to her that she loved Chris Eccleston, and then David Tennant, and then Matt Smith–and she will come to like the 12th Doctor as well, whoever it may be. Give ’em a chance. All the same, she’s still saying “no geezers allowed.”
Doctor Who is a great show because it is fearlessly odd and imaginative. I want to be surprised, and confused, and amazed every time I watch. Whovians don’t think outside the box; they envision the box as being infinitely bigger on the inside. So if anything is possible, I have a few thoughts on the next Doctor to surprise, confuse, and amaze fans who have come to expect anything. Read more →
I’m doing research on the trains that run through Arlington. It’s for a feature that will appear in the Fall issue of UT Arlington Magazine. UTA librarians Evelyn Barker and Lea Worcester, also the authors of this book, have been tremendously helpful with the historical research. They gave me a story from the Fort Worth Daily Democrat (July 20, 1876) about the first train that went through Arlington. Here’s the lead sentence:
Yesterday morning, at twenty-three minutes past eleven, Engine No. 20 of the Texas & Pacific railroad, Kelly engineer and Beal conductor, uttered its shrill scream within the corporate limits, arousing the ‘panter’ from his lair, startling the birds from their nests in affright, and carrying joy to many anxious hearts who have waited long and patiently for the sounds that then for the first time reverberated through the hills and valleys around the beautiful city of Fort Worth.
Now that is a sentence! It meanders a bit, but I follow every twist and turn. Unfortunately, no byline. And also unfortunately, I doubt I will ever read a sentence like this in a contemporary newspaper. Read more →
A 2009 New Yorker piece written by Louis Menand (“Show or Tell: Should creative writing be taught?”) has a cynical and comical view of creative writing programs.
Creative writing programs are designed on the theory that students who have never published a poem can teach other students who have never published a poem how to write a publishable poem. The fruit of the theory is the writing workshop, a combination of ritual scarring and twelve-on-one group therapy where aspiring writers offer their views of the efforts of other aspiring writers.
It’s a good read for anyone who wants to teach writing or anyone who wants to dump money into a writing program. However, at times, Menand offers a limited view of how creative writing classes operate in order to prove his point–until eventually coming around to defend a rather flimsy reason for such programs, i.e. “I don’t think the workshops taught me too much about craft, but they did teach me about the importance of making things, not just reading things. You care about things that you make, and that makes it easier to care about things that other people make.”
Several questions are raised. For instance, do writing programs actually make writers great or are they simply attended by great writers? To my knowledge, after almost a decade of teaching creative writing, the only professional writer to come out of my class… was me. Hardly a prestigious alumnus. But then, the other question: is the point of a creative writing program really to produce professionals? Is it publish-or-perish? Read more →
Tonight, I presented a talk for PechaKucha 12 at the beautiful Lakewood Theater. The PechaKucha presentation format is simple. 20 slides, 20 seconds each. This time, all the talks centered around the theme “This is My City.” We had lots of great people: Lily Smith-Kirkley, Stefan Reddick, Tom Dennis, Angela Mondragon, Catherine Cuellar, Cone Johnson, Robbie Good, Jenn Dunn, Alan Lidji, Jim Hart, Fred Holston, and me. Thank you Frances Yllana (via AIGA DFW) for inviting me to participate.
Here’s what I had written for my 6 minutes and 40 seconds. I went off script just a few times to better accommodate the timing of each slide.
I love that word “metropolis.” It simply means the main city of a region, but thanks to Fritz Lang and Superman the word now carries the weight of terrifying grandeur. It’s a place to behold, to cherish, to protect, to be inspired by. It’s a utopia constantly on the brink.
Metropolis was a German film, made in 1927, directed by Fritz Lang. It’s a story about the distant future, 2026, when industrialists rule the city from towering skyscrapers. It was a silent masterpiece of tremendous ambition and imagination.
Twelve years later in 1939, Metropolis was reborn in Action Comics no. 16 as Superman’s New York-esque adoptive home. There, Superman fought the corruption of industrialists. While Batman’s Gotham was a dire place, drawn for the night, Superman’s Metropolis was the shining hopeful city of tomorrow. Read more →
Today is a good day for people who love the finer things. It’s Star Wars Day (“May the 4th be with you”). It’s Free Comic Book Day. And Iron Man 3 is out this weekend.
Zeus Comics (new location on 1334 Inwood Road) is celebrating it all.
May the 4th be with you! Happy Star Wars day. We have the wonderful Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) with us at Zeus starting at 10am. It’s Free Comic Book Day too! Come meet 8 other wonderful comic folk including Phil Jimenez, Stephen Sadowski, Randal Keith Milholland, Robert Wilson, Chad Thomas, David Hopkins, and Benjamin Hall! Zeus will be handing out over 5,000 free comics over the course of the day and our back-issues are half off today only!
I’ll be there with some free comics too. Come by and say hello.