News & Reviews: August 6, 2019

News

HUGE NEWS this week: I sold my first short story!

And to a professional, SFWA-qualifying market, no less!

More details as they shake out, but I’m over-the-moon pumped. The story’s one I’ve been working on for three years (!), revising, polishing, and submitting.

Many thanks to my friends that suffered through reading all those drafts, and offered me the feedback I needed to make the story shine!

Reviews

Finished off two books this week: Persian Fire and Paper Girls, Vol 1.

Persian Fire, by Tom Holland

One of the best examples of narrative history I’ve ever read. Holland is simply a great writer, so that despite some repetition and over-reliance on certain turns of phrase, I sped through its 350+ pages.

And it illuminated aspects of ancient Persia and Greece that I didn’t appreciate before. Like how Sparta trumpeted equality for everyone except for those living in the cities they conquered (who were turned into slaves, one and all). Or how democratic Athens regularly held an ostracism, so they could kick out a citizen who was getting too powerful (or causing too much resentment among other citizens). Or that the King of Persia considered all his subjects his slaves, and yet left them to worship their own gods, and mostly govern themselves, so long as they paid tribute.

I wish it’d gone more into a subject it teases in the Preface: How would Greece have fared if Xerxes had conquered it? Given that the Persian Kings were considering letting the Ionians (subjects of the empire) govern themselves democratically, how much of Western history would have been different?

Holland does go into detail about the Persian empire (origins, revolutions, etc), which is a great corrective to the usual Greek-sided way of telling this story. But he leaves one of his most tantalizing questions unexplored, which is a tragedy.

Paper Girls, Vol 1, by Brian K Vaughn, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson, and Jared K Fletcher

Picked this one up partially because of Vaughn’s work on Saga, and partially because of the clean, comprehensible art style.

And now I have yet another Image Comic (like Monstress, and Saga, and Wicked + Divine, and…) that I’ll pick up every chance I get.

Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say that it’s set in 1988, it follows four pre-teens on their paper route one early morning, and that things rapidly get…weird. Like, time-travel and possible aliens and dinosaurs weird.

It’s fantastically well-done. Its creative team is firing on all cylinders: the story is strong, the drawing clear and easy-to-follow, the colors manage to invoke both the 80s (to me, anyway) and the various locations (early morning outside, dark basement, etc) and the lettering conveys everything from a radio’s static to a drunken warble.

Which reminds me, I need to go pick up Vol 2 ūüôā

Brief Comics Reviews: Sep 2017

Wicked and Divine, Vol 4: Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit. It’s back. Swallowed this one whole in about an hour. Need more.

The Vision, Vol 1: Art is…fuzzy? Seems like the lines are never sharp. Which is maybe deliberate, since it’s a fuzzy-line world they’re creating. But it’s hard on the eyes.

Constantly narrated via voice-over, instead of using dialog or pictures to show what’s happening. It’s a fine technique, and a known one, but it’s a bit tedious when it’s all the comic is written in.

Deadly Class, Vol 3: When did everyone become pretentious and annoying?

Saga, Vol 5: Artwork still fantastic, writing keeps me reading, but…did anything really happen? Threads wound up rather easily, it seems, and Fiona was ripped away again kind of arbitrarily. Also: too much time spent with the bounty hunters I don’t care about.

Once More Unto the Comics Reviews Breach, My Friends

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, vol 2: Still hilarious, easily one of my favorite comics. The characters are fantastic, the art is clear and pops, even the fan letters are great.

Thor, vol 1: Hail the Goddess of Thunder! Great voice for the new Thor. The art is generally good, but sometimes confusing in action sequences. The villain’s plot is just ok; it’s the layers of mystery around Thor (old and new) that made these issues interesting to me.

D4ve: Maybe too juvenile? Overall good, though the plot was generally cliché. Still, funny in parts.

Pretty Deadly, vol 1: Took two reads for me to get into it. The panels are cramped and hard to read for first few issues, but I stuck with it and things clicked into place. Turned into a fantastic story by the end.

Brief Comics Reviews, Take 3

Southern Cross Vol 1 – Great art. Very creepy. Felt there¬†were some strange¬†jumps or discontinuities in the narrative, but overall it’s well-done.

Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol 1: Disappointing. Dialog is clunky, and none of the characters sound like themselves. Art gets confusing, especially during the action scenes. Final moments of the volume don’t land the emotional punch they want to.

Godzilla in Hell: Fantastic use of graphics over dialog. Only the 1st and last entries have an interesting story. The rest seem fine with rehashing monster battles in elemental locales, rather than exploring what Hell might be like for Godzilla.

Wicked +¬†Divine Vol 3: Slow going in the beginning, then picks up later. Not nearly as moving as Vol 2. Feels like the heart might be missing from this one. Art shifts are possibly appropriate, but strange and off-putting. Best segments deal with the gods’ pasts, though not all of them are coherent.

Pretty Deadly #1: Good writing. But the art, to me, is incoherent.¬†Often can’t tell the people out from the backgrounds, and none of the lines seem sharp enough to distinguish objects from each other. Even the panels are cut off in odd ways that made it hard to tell what’s being shown.

More Brief Comics Reviews

Rat Queens Vol 1: Characters are basically college kids with medieval weapons and magic. Wants to both undermine and keep the D&D cliches it’s reacting to. Doesn’t always work.

Wicked + Divine Vol 2: Holy shit, that ending. Much much better than Vol 1.

Deadly Class Vol 1: I don’t want to like this one. It’s violent, and its characters are prone to the world-weary adolescent philosophizing that felt important when I was their age but is boring now. But the art is amazing, and I can’t stop reading.

The Ghost Fleet Vol 1: Starts out with inventive art and an intriguing premise, then becomes just another massive conspiracy plus revenge story.

Saga Vol 2 & 3: Still perfect. Ye gods, how are they doing this?