Monday, December 26, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
I've been meaning to write another book review for some time now. As we enter the haunting month of October, I thought It only write to post to post my review of Howard Hopkin's "Ashes to Ashes", book one of the Chloe Files.
I have not read the his previous novel GRIMM which introduced our heroine, but turned out not to be necessary as enough references are layout through this story to bring you up to speed to know the world of New Salem and the haunting adventures Chloe has already had.
It was quite fun to start the story off with Chloe reading a novelization of her previous adventure written by one said Howard Hopkins. I didn't know until the end of reading the book that this had begun as an online series to promote the earlier GRIMM, but the important thing was that I didn't need to know.
ASHES TO ASHES is a scary yet fun tale of a girl desperately searching for the man she love while also uncovering clues to her missing sister, and discovering dark secrets that haunt the city that she calls home.
Here is proof that a horror story doesn't need to be full of blood and guts. Enjoy the haunting mystery while Chloe tries to get on with her life.
I may now go back and read the original GRIMM, as well as the follow up tale of The Chloe Files.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Less then 24 hours from now the universe will be starting over. Rather, the DC Comics Universe of super heroes will be starting over, with the release of JUSTICE LEAGUE #1.
I’ve been thinking about what to put into this blog for several days since I picked up my last batch of comics.
Last week’s comics represented the end of the old DC universe in a way, and I’m not talking about the end of Flashpoint. But that end bothered me in a way.
Two books had wonderful sunset endings, and one did not. Let me explain.
ACTION COMICS ended with Clark Kent and Lois Lane walking off into the evening twilight, all his problems resolved and finding happiness with her and Metropolis. The End. In WONDER WOMAN; her grand journey, and alternate reality, came to its end happy to find Paradise Island and the rest of the world the way it should be and she sores in the warmth of the sun. The End.
But in another JUSTICE SOCIETY, the ending wasn’t so glorious, no proper curtain down. The final issue felt like the story was rushed so that it would be over before the new universe took over. The Per Degaton story never quite went anywhere, Jessie Quick’s part of his story felt rewritten. And Alan Scott, Green Lantern (the true Green Lantern in my eyes, as I’ve written before), in a really bad looking costume, dies battling a monster/god that hardly had time to know a few buildings down.
The story ends in the cemetery with the question, what now? The answer by Jay Garrick is; we go one as we always have. And The End comes with everyone feeling at a loss.
The Justice Society and all the ‘Golden Age’ characters have always been my favorites, and they haven’t always been given their do.
Jay Garrick stands there and I realize he’s the last remaining member of the original Justice Society. Spectre is someone else, Dr. Fate has been replaced, Hourman’s son takes his place, Sandman gone, Johnny Thunder long gone. Even Hawkman man their great leader died and died again. Only The Flash, Jay Garrick stands alone out of that team; the first super hero team.
It really hurts to see all those characters go out that way. It’s almost as bad as when twenty odd years ago they ‘died’ and were trapped for ‘eternity’ in the Norse Ragnarok.
I grew up reading about these characters, whether it was in the ALL STAR SQUADRON, following their children in INFINITY INC, or collecting any back issues or reprints I could find (and afford). I read them more than any other characters.
A couple of years ago the JUSTICE SOCIETY ANNUAL gave us a glimpse of the ‘new Earth 2’ with a team that was almost the team I remember before the CRISIS took it away. Not quite, but close, especially since it focused on Helena Wayne, the true HUNTRESS.
It was a great thrill to see the original team worked into the continuity of SMALLVILLE.
Now the universe is starting over, and what of my beloved team?
I had no answer for that question three hours ago, and now I have at least a glimmer of hope.
There would be a new Earth 2 on which the Justice Society of America still exists.
James Robinsons will be writing. He’s handled the team quite well in the past, and did fantastic job on Starman. So I am really looking forward to this book, and hope that it will have that same joy of adventure I remember.
So in a few hours (and apparently some people already have the new Justice League in their hands), a new universe is born. (I have to stop thinking of Marvel’s New Universe).
I am glad to know that some old friends will be there, even if they are slightly different.
As mentioned in a previous blog, I will hold judgment of these books until I read them. However I will say this:
I’ll know how well all the books did once DC announces next years summer Event story line.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
This blog is really going to show my age.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a guest blog for the website Para Your Normal about realizing that whatever genre I write in I’m actually writing romance.
For mystery and detective stories, this goes back to when I was the smallest of kids and the television I watched with my parents.
The first came in the form of McMilliand & Wife and follow by Hart to Hart, and I think they played a greater role in my creative mind than many other programs.
There would be many more over the years.
Focusing exclusively on television detective programs, (not including police procedure or lawyer shows), I believe there are three types of Romantic Detectives:
1. Partners in Crime and the Heart.
2. Keep it at Arm’s Reach.
3. The Love ‘em and Leave ‘em.
I could be wrong, but let me go through them in reverse order.
Love ‘em and Leave ‘em - are the shows about the handsome detective who somewhere in the middle of the case he meets the beautiful guest star who needs to help save her father’s business, has been charged with murder, or actually is the murder. Through out the hour we see the two grow closer together and finally kiss (or more), and the heroic detective saves her life. But then next week there’s a new case and a completely new damsel that needs to be saved and swept off her feet. Even as a kid I thought something was wrong in this, “hey, what happened to your girl friend from last week. Are you cheating on her with this new girl or did you just dump her?” Old examples of this loner hero are MAGNUM PI or KNIGHTRIDER and their ilk.
Keep it at Arm’s Reach – These are the stories where the man and woman have to begrudgingly work together and romantic feelings slowly grow between them, but neither willing to admit it to the other. Their sexual tension comes in arguments and jokes while solving the crime. They both will continue to see other people; which breaks the heart of the other each week. The audience keeps rooting for them to get together. This ‘keep them apart’ story thread can work for the first couple of weeks, but if they don’t eventually at least acknowledge their feelings for one another then it’s lost its power. Examples of this are REMINGTON STEELE, MOONLIGHT, and CASTLE.
Partners in Crime and The Heart – Are when our detectives are already in a solid romantic relationship. Usually married. They work together perfectly both at the crime scene and the bedroom. Examples of this are HART TO HART where couple were amateur sleuths who usually just stumbled upon the crimes, or McMILLIAN AND WIFE where he was a Police Lieutenant and he brought his work home and the wife got involved. Most recently there was the short-lived UNDERCOVERS where former spies, now married, are forced back into the game.
Many fans of these romantic detective shows would like to see the “Arms Reach” become the “Partners of the Heart”, but producer and network executives are leery of changing the formula that has been working so far, even if the ratings start to slip after a few seasons. It’s called the “Moonlighting Curse” by some people.
In the fifth season of Moonlighting, our leads had finally acknowledged their feelings for one another, but then ratings began to fall as the season progressed. Later executives supposedly see a correlation between the one and the other and so don’t want it to happen to their shows. In truth, both Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd were in the midst of their growing film careers, DIE HARD had just come out, so their schedules never matched up to be able play the scenes together as were required and the stories suffered for it. (Or so that’s how I understand it).
Truth or no truth, the curse haunts some executives. And has been a concern of audiences of the television series CASTLE where our leads obviously fell in love the moment they met, but never said anything about it. Everyone around them, including Castle’s mother and daughter know he loves Detective Beckett and vice versa. Only when she’s near death and in his arms does he finally admit his feelings.
So this new season starting in September (no, this was not intended as a promotion for Castle), the audience waits to see if they will remain at “Arm’s Reach” or finally become “Partners in Crime and the Heart”.
“Partners” is actually my favorite version of the television detective. The solid relationship with the main couple as they solve the murder together. I grew up on Hart to Hart. I would also discover the classic movie, and then read the novel (twice), “The Thin Man” by Dashiell Hammett. The story of a retired detective and his beautiful and rich new wife. Though the title is a description of the murder victim it would stick as the movie spun off sequel after sequel and eventually and television series. They were the perfect couple for crime, comedy and love. All else follow in their wake.
All of this influenced the writing of my pulp series “Revenge of the Masked Ghost.”
Bit of trivia. When I was young watching the first season of HART TO HART, the opening narration by their butler/chauffer Max said the following line “Their hobby is… murder.” Even as a kid I thought that was a dumb, it made it sounds like our heroes were actually the killers. By the start of the second season it had been changed to “When they met, it was murder.” My boy ears were very pleased.
Kevin Paul Shaw Broden
Four Names of Professional Creativity
Friday, August 12, 2011
That might not mean anything to you, but it came to me finishing the latest draft of my contemporary fantasy novel.
When I first conceived this story I was in the midst of writing another so quickly dashed off a few pages and set it aside. Those pages became the outline from which I worked.
What I had at the start was the magical McGuffin, which our heroes and villain quested for, and the name of my main characters. So I put myself upon that same quest to see where they lead me.
Well for one reason or another, several of those names changed between the first and second draft of the novel. Some were too close in sound (try not to have characters names that start with the same letter). Soon other characters showed up they made themselves important and needed names as well.
However, the name of my main character never changed, and would become a very important key part of the story. No matter how unintentional when I started.
As I wrote further into the novel I discovered that her father had changed his family name (for reasons you’ll find out when you buy the book when its released). Near the end of the book my lead character has the opportunity to ask why. I knew nothing about this before I wrote it. Yet the very name I chose answered the question itself. Not only did it give me the explanation of why he had changed the name, but it also told me about a childhood trauma which I hadn’t planned and yet was now the story’s singularity which set in motion all the events which took us through the novel.
It was a little thing, and unplanned, but was an amazing thing to suddenly find I had laid the groundwork for key elements of my story without even knowing it.
The devil as they say is in the details, and if you focus too hard on them you lose sight of the whole. The vastness of world you create for your story doesn’t hold together on the details, but on the unplanned spaces in between them. Don’t listen to hard, but as you type away you just might hear angels wings providing you the creative answers you didn’t know you needed along your quest to compete the story.
Kevin Paul Shaw BrodenFour Names of Professional Creativity
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Has it already been a whole week since I took the three-hour train ride south to San Diego for Comic Con International?
Ya, I guess it has, and my feet have finally stopped hurting.
It was crowded as expected, but truthfully it didn’t feel as bad as last year. I can’t explain it, just felt that way. Other than being detoured around massive signing lines, or avoiding the video game corner, I was able to get around most of the floor with ease.
Of course walking that floor or standing in long lines (I avoided anything in 20 or Hall H) did end up killing my feet and legs to hurt and each night ached through the night. A hot bath took care of some of it, but not all.
So like many others, when you’ve walked the floor for hours you are desperate to find his and your feet are killing you like mine, you need to find a place to sit. But all the seats around the tables under the sales are filled and the sun is too bright out on the back patio as you avoid being struck by the sword of a knight in armor, and the Fire Marshal prevents you from slumping down a wall to the floor of the hall our lobby. What are you going to do?
May I make a suggestion? Go sit in on a panel. No, not a panel you’ve been planning to go to, or one that is so popular that you have to grab a chair and sit through to panels to guarantee you’re in for the one you want. What I mean is, go and sit in on a panel you have no previous interest in. One that would never have appeared on your planned out schedule.
Here are two examples. My fiancée just received her certificate to be a library technician, and wanted to attend a panel on Friday titled: COMICS IN THE LIBRARY – self -explanatory. But we got to the room half an hour earlier expecting there to be some type of line and wait out in the hall. The volunteers out front the door let us right into to sit in on the panel right before. This panel we hadn’t planned for was titled: GRAPHIC NOVELS FOR THE NON-TEENAGERS – this title is a bit more open in it’s meaning. Were they talking about kid comics that teenagers wouldn’t read, or were they meaning Adult Comix? So we sat in on it not knowing what to expect. What it turned out to be was another panel on libraries and how they were targeting graphic novels beyond their Young Adult readers. Sitting through half this panel gave us information on libraries and comic books as much as all the panel we had intended to be in.
The second example came Saturday when as creators of webcomics and planning for the future with digital comics, we headed for: “Digital Disruption: Comics, Webcomics, and the Business Model of the Future” with guests Mark Waid and Scott Kurtz. Well again, our feet were hurting and were able to get into seats for the last fifteen minutes or so of the previous panel. This was a Spotlight and not a panel, it focused on Comic Book Creator Peter Kuper. I’ll be hones with you, I had no idea who he was, was never a reader of MAD magazine, and his art style doesn’t appeal to me. How ever his own story was extremely interesting. We sat in as he was describing his development of a comic based on Kafka’s story Metamorphosis. Strange art and story for sure, but I really got a lot out of how we was designing the pages to tell the story and keep the viewer feeling like they were in the horrific dream of the story. He also showed art from the magazine World War 3 Illustrated, much of which was political in nature. Then he talked about how his family moved to Mexico from New York and he showed art work that he did there, and then in turn wound up doing further political work because of it. Sometimes the creator’s life can be as interesting if not more so than that of his creation.
As I said, these were not panels we planned to be in, but we got a lot out of. So at the next convention, whether it’s San Diego and its 120,000+ friends or a smaller local one, you’re feet are going to get tired. So go take some weight off, sit in the back of a panel, relax, and listen. I promise that you’ll learn something new, and enjoy yourself in ways you didn’t expect.
Kevin Paul Shaw Broden
Four Names of Professional Creativity