Tag Archives: comic books

Moar Pie for Everyone, or Why Simon Pegg was right

20 May

Hi.

So I made it (barely) through my first week of post-trip hangover. It wasn’t easy. More than one cookie were consumed. I had no choice, I tell you!

But some cool things did come up, like my getting to talk to Vanessa Barger about This Is Sarah and writing and Antarctica. Thanks Vanessa! And speaking of Sarah, Apryl at Apryl Showers was kind enough to share her thoughts on This Is Sarah.

Set in a small town, where no one would believe such horrors would occur, the abduction of Sarah  Evans ricochets through everyone from school friends to neighbours. There is an incredibly realistic feel to the novel. The pace is even, with a slow tempo allowing you to really engage with the emotions of each character. In fact the reader could almost be one of the neighbours or a school pupil – someone who knows of the missing girl but has no real personal connection.

Many thanks to Apryl for her kind words. And in the thanks department, thanks to Mad Swirl for publishing Premonitions of a Sash, and to Cultured Vultures for Radiation Day 22 and to Blue Hour who published Radiation Day 24, Radiation Day 26 and Radiation Day 30.

During treatment I got a lot of mileage about my own fear and experience and out of my husband’s but it wasn’t until I was in radiation every single day, sitting next to the same people that I really started to understand what my friend Don was talking about when he said:

Funny thing, one thing nobody ever said to me – in this time when you will be so inward looking, so concerned with self, make sure you look about you as you go for regular treatments.

The staff, the fellow patients – there is so much there to take in, so much about who we are as humans, how we handle things. How we share, especially casually, in greeting, even silently, in the nod of a head or a smile. 

I didn’t say much during radiation. I came in, changed, kept my headphones in, forced myself to return their smiles, muttered a good morning and hoped my wait wouldn’t be too long. The waiting room was in fact the hardest part of radiation treatment. Just me, at 37, with a bunch of much older people. I tried to block it out. But you can’t block something all the time for 38 days in a row. You just can’t. So little by little, Anna, and Maria, Betty, the guy I called The Angel cause he was dressed in white from head to toe and the Russian guy who didn’t talk to anyone and the old black woman who was getting full brain radiation – all of them just sort of crept into my life. I found out from The Angel that she lost her sense of taste. I remember him sitting there, shaking his head asking, “Can you imagine anything worse? Not being able to taste anything at all?”
It was comments like that which helped shake me out myself. That made me look around the room, and as Don said, really see this moment in my life.
I hope I did all of them a bit of justice on the page. They were good people who like me, were stuck somewhere terrible. They made the best of it. I hope they’re doing okay now.

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In other news, (and getting to the point of this post) I just finished reading On Interpretations and Other Essays, the classic Susan Sontag book. I’ve only read her interviews prior to this so I really enjoyed it, though there were some high and low points as with all books. My favorite essays were On Interpretations with its stellar conversation about form and content, and On Culture and the New Sensibility – which though written in 1965 is very relevant today with the constant high vs low art debates. Because SURPRISE, SURPRISE, the internet is MAD again.

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The new sensibility is definitely pluralistic; it is dedicated both to an excruciating seriousness and to fun and wit and nostalgia. It is also extremely history-conscious; and the voracity of its enthusiasms (and of the supercession of these enthusiasms) is very high-speed and hectic. From the vantage point of this new sensibility, the beauty of a machine or of the solution to a mathematical problem, of a painting by Jasper Johns, of a film by Jean-Luc Goddard, and of the personalities and music of the Beatles is equally accessible.

So this time Simon Pegg is in the hot seat for his comments about comic book movies. He has, as required in this age of super-sensitive interneting, issued an apology. But before we all pat him on the back I think we need to take a look at what he’s ACTUALLY saying:

“Now we’re essentially all-consuming very childish things – comic books, superheroes. Adults are watching this stuff, and taking it seriously.”

This morning on my way to work I listened to Claude Debussy’s Prelude A l’Apres Midi D’un Faune (Afternoon of the Faun). I don’t listen to Claude much on my walk (or really much classical because of the trucks on 5th avenue). It opens with a harp. Upon the first note, I immediately thought of this:

That’s a scene from one of my favorite episodes of The Monkees where Peter sells his soul to the devil to learn how to play the harp.

Do you see where I’m going here?

Debussy = sounds lovely = Happy Ally

The Monkees =  goofy laughs = Happy Ally.

That’s the point of art. And variety makes for good “art-ing.” I think the #IReadYA thing is great but if you ONLY read YA, well…..you’re missing out. I’m sorry but you just are. It’s just as bad if you only read the New York Times Bestseller List or if you only read “literary” fiction written by white guys in Manhattan. White guys in Manhattan don’t know everything there is about this world. You’re limiting your own experiences if that’s all you’re reading.

If you’re only getting one small slice of the art pie, you’re not getting enough pie. MOAR PIE!

Now what I think Pegg here is talking about is that there are A LOT of comic book movies. Since 2010 there have been about 30 superhero movies made. THIRTY! And the reason there are so many is cause they make money. For me, his criticism is about the fact that we are paying the industry to keep feeding us the SAME THING OVER AND OVER AGAIN.  Honestly when I think about the money spent on these movies, I feel dizzy. But as long as we keep forking over our paychecks the industry will keep churning it out. That’s how business works. What are we getting out of watching the Hulk smash things? Do we really need another Spiderman reboot?

There has always been and will always be good science fiction and fantasy out there. Moon and Europa Report were two really well done movies that I walked away THINKING about. Come on, an alien that helps humans BE more human by trying to understand them? That’s why it’s classic. That has staying power.

Look, I love sci-fi. I love fantasy. I also love Godard. These things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. One of the best comments I ever got in my life was when someone looked at my goodreads list and said “wow….you’re all over the place.”

Yes, I am. Proudly.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure that Sontag’s comment, made in 1965 can be the last one necessary to end this whole high vs low art thing. Time to put the tired conversation to rest. Let’s all stop hating on Simon Pegg, now okay?

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Speaking of “the solution to a mathematical problem….” I got back to work on Palimpsest this morning along with the help of some really great beta reader notes (I love you, guys). I also happened across this great video explaining the Fibonacci Sequence, a mathematical premise that is featured in my book.

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The Golden Mean

The sequence, for those of you who don’t know, is the following:

0,1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8,13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144

and on and on and so forth.

It is derived by adding the first number to the next number. So:

0+1 = 1

1+ 1 = 2

1+2 = 3

2+3= 5

3+5= 8

5+8 = 13

8+13 = 21

13+21 = 34

21+ 34 = 55

34 +55 = 89

55 + 89 = 144

and so on and so forth. But the real cool thing is that the Fibonacci sequence is EVERYWHERE. In the spiral of a seashell, in the arms of the galaxy. Even in your own bones!

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flower

index

Aspects show up in art and architecture and in our DNA.

And this is why math and science are amazing.

Check out the video. It’s not long and it’s got cool music.

Peace, love and starbursts,

Ally

Little Surprises Around Every Corner But Nothing Dangerous, or We’ve Got a Delay

27 Jun

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So….

if you check your calendar today is in fact June 27th which was in fact the day that I’ve been saying THIS IS SARAH is going to be out and available for purchase…

BUT…

we’ve hit a little hiccup. Nothing major, nothing terrible but a small delay that has pushed back publication just a bit.

So the book will be out SOON but not today. That said we’re still having the blog tour so, my lovelies, any help you can offer with retweeting and reposting stuff is always always always appreciated.

The folks at BookFish Books (I’m looking at you Tammy, Mary, Jen and Erin) have been absolutely wonderful and I truly could not have asked for a better editing/publishing/listening to me blather about stupid stuff sort of experience.

So just a bit of a wait.

We’re thinking the same thing aren’t we….

wonka

 

In the meantime, I have been awfully remiss regarding linky things so here we go:

1. There is a really fantastic comic called MixTape by Brad Abraham that you should all be reading. I wrote a little thing about it here. It’s wonderfully written, funny, sad, and heartbreaking all at once. And it’s got a killer soundtrack. Also you know how people tell you to follow people on twitter and they’re the creative type so you do thinking “well this should be interesting” but all they do is tweet about how you should buy their book? I hate that. You hate that, too. And that’s why you should follow Brad on twitter because he’s NOT LIKE THAT and he’s freaking funny and real and he’s one of those people that uses twitter right. You won’t be sorry.

2. Alison  Ross just put out the newest issue of Clockwise Cats and it’s HUGE AND AMAZING. You can read the whole thing here. I’ve got a How To Be An American poem in there and another about the fact that every time a guy gives up his seat for me on the subway, I think that he thinks I’m pregnant. You have no idea what this can do to a girl’s psyche.  Honest.

3. The June writing prompt for The Forked Road blog was to describe the sensation of drowning. Ugh, I know, right? Possibly the worst way to die ever. So I did it and most of the piece is actually written from the point of view of the river, which I admit, is sort of cheating.  It’s called The River Fell In Love.

4. My buddy Jason Baldinger has a new book of poetry out. It’s really great and you should read it. I need to write a review (I suck for not doing that yet). Also you should definitely read this if you’re one of those people who think poetry is “dry, boring and something I’ll never understand.” Mr. Baldinger will learn ya something different.

5. My friend Sam Snoek-Brown has a book coming out this fall called Hagridden. I got a chance to read an excerpt and honestly guys, he’s the real deal. You should also check out his blog cause he’s always posting really cool insightful stuff about writing and publishing and life in general. If you’re on the Book of Face, you can like his page here and get all the goods.  Our paths crossed via Jersey Devil Press, which reminds me, Eirik still needs some lungs. Jersey Devil Press did a special issue for Eirik and Monica– just to let them know they’re loved – but there’s still so much ground to cover. If you’ve got any spare change, pony up for a good cause. Check under the couch cushions if you can. If you can’t, then just send some good juju out into the universe, okay?

6. Also John Grochalski who you all thought was JUST a fantastic poet is actually also a fantastic novelist. His novel is called The Librarian and it’s a wry, biting, booze-soaked ride when you’re riding shotgun with Rand Wyndam. Read it. You’ll laugh. I promise. Also, rumor has it he’s got a new book of poetry in the works from Coleridge Street Books. Jot that one down. You won’t be sorry.  He’s on  twitter but he never tweets so let’s all follow him so he feels awkward about it and is forced to participate in social media.

So that’s about it.

Again, thanks for all fracking support lately. It’s meant more than you guys even know. Trust me.

And soon This Is Sarah will be out. Really soon. Even sooner than soon.

 

spaceballs

 

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

Movie Death and My Comic Book Problem

8 Apr

New Orleans – Voodoo Museum

Hola kids.

How’s life?

Me? I’m good. Had an AMAZING weekend which included heading over to Citi Field (still almost typed Shea) on Saturday to see the Mets beat the Marlins for the mister’s birthday weekend. Sunday was a lazy happy snuggly wine in bed sort of day. I love those days.

Had a pretty good writing morning this morning so that’s always a plus and I’ve got some stuff to share with you.

First and foremost I want to thank Amy Huffman for taking my poem Movie Death and posting it over at Pyrokinection. It’s a really great site and I’m honored to be included.

In other news, I’ve got a non-fiction piece (my first) about my comic book problem. It was published by the New Yinzer which is run by an awesome group of guys and gals back in Pittsburgh.

Hey, speaking of wanna hear a true story that happened the other day when I went to Galaxy Comics in Park Slope to pick up a few books that weren’t on my pull list? Yeah? Okay, here goes:

Comic Book Guy: “Age of Ultron and Locke and Key. Good Books.”
Me: “Thanks. I don’t know why I’m saying thanks. It’s not like I wrote them.”
Comic Book Guy: “Still you have good taste. That counts for something.”
Me: “I’m a 36 yr old woman buying comics. I think “taste” is no longer a factor.”
Comic Book Guy: (awkward laugh)

Oh, yeah. I know you’re jealous. Stunted adolescence is dead sexy.

I Have a Comic Problem

3 Aug

Hi. I’m Ally. I have a Comic Book Problem.

This is where you say, “Hi Ally.”

Comics are big business right now and rightly so since they  rock. Comics make Wednesday, commonly know as pizza night even better. Now it’s comic-pizza night. The hyphen makes all the difference.

Currently, here’s what I’m reading – in alphabetical order cause I’m just that organized:

Alabaster: Wolves, Amazing Spiderman, American Vampire, Animal Man Aqua Man, Avengers, Avengers vs X-men, AvX, Batman, Batman: The Dark Knight, Batman: Detective Comics, Batman Incorporated, Batman and Robin, Batgirl, Batwing, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Catwoman, Fatale, First X-Men, Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Hawkeye, I Vampire, Incredible Hulk, Invincible Iron Man, Justice League Dark, Mixtape, NightWing, Saga, Superman, Swamp Thing, Ultimate Spiderman, Uncanny X-men, Winter Soldier, Wolverine, Wolverine and the X-men…

That’s nearly 40 comics and I’m pretty sure I’m missing some. That doesn’t even count the list of comics that I had been reading but no longer am for a variety of reason. Now I know lots of people have way heavier lists and they scoff at my puny 40 comic list but I think it’s safe to say that if it’s not Large, I’m at least tipping the scale past Medium. Clearly stretch pants are in order.

So here’s what I love about comics since, you know, no one asked.

I love the art – when comic art is done well it’s phenomenal. When Batwing first started all the panels were watercolor. It was beautiful. I would love to put a picture up here but I fear being sued by DC. I just recently read some chicks blog post about how she posted some dude’s image and even though she linked back to the source, he sent her a cease and desist letter and so she took it down immediately and he still sued her. I don’t need to be sued by DC just cause I love amazing art.

Okay just one picture – please note DC peoples – I took the picture, I bought the comic and really, I’m bragging up your kid here so don’t take the $12.40 I got in the bank, okay?

So I was thinking about the bad rap comics can get. Don’t get me wrong – they’re nerd chic and cool when they’re made into movies but the overriding theory seems to be that they aren’t anything that anyone should take too seriously. They aren’t real books and only those people (read: Simpson’s Comic Book Guy) take them too seriously. Like all comic readers spend the rest of their time learning Elvish or Klingon. And trust me, I’ve been to the conventions and that’s only like 80% of us. Tops.

So Lev Grossman wrote this piece for time not too long ago about Genre Fiction vs Literary Fiction and it got me thinking that a lot of what he says about Genre Fiction could really apply to comics as a medium. He was talking about how people think because Genre Fiction is saddled with convention it’s “easier” to write than Literary fiction. As you know comics are full of conventions. All you really need are Bad guys/villians, good guys/heroes and a universe on the brink of destruction and you got the basic gist of it. The literary people like to say that conventions takes all the work out of creation. Lev says this:

The plots in genre novels are of a different kind, after all, constrained as they are by conventions. But conventions aren’t the iron cage they’re made out to be. Sonnets are bound by conventions too, but that doesn’t stop them from being great, and wildly various. Conventions are more like the rules of chess: a small set of constraints that produces near-infinite complexity. They’re not restrictive, they’re generative. And they flop both ways: genre fiction transgresses its conventions more frequently… Watchmen violates almost every convention of superhero comics that there is, but it never ceases to be a superhero comic — in fact it’s one of the greatest superhero comics ever written.

See that? Lev mentioned comics and I was talking about comics. Can I go work for Time now?

The other thing I love about comics is the writing, which is really good. Like really really really good. Have you read anything by Scott Snyder since the new 52 DC reboot? Cause if you think Nolan knows Batman, then you gotta read what Snyder’s been doing with the Court of Owls. Mind-Blown. Kaboom.

And it’s not just Synder – there are so many good writers out there – Judd Winick, Brian Michael Bendis, Jeff Lemire, Ed Brubaker, Jason Aaron, Jeph Loeb, Gail Simone, Garth Ennis, Joe Hill, Geoff Johns, Mike Mignola, Mark Millar, Brian Vaughan, Neil Gaiman… This list is just gonna keep getting longer but you get my point.

I didn’t really read comics when I was a kid  – sure I picked up the occasional Archie but that was about it. Then in graduation school, stressed out of my brain between full-time school and full-time work I came across the Sandman. Yes THAT Sandman. That was it for me. I was hooked.

After that I found Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith at the same time in the Ellis-Templesmith-Peanut Butter-Jelly sandwich of awesome that was Fell. I loved Fell. Fell was amazing. And then Fell broke my heart by just sort of stopping.

Fell led me to Transmetropolitan and Freak Angels which you can read here, for FREE all 140 some odd issues. Go do it. Now. Stop reading my stupid blog and go read that. You’ll thank me for it.

Alright enough – I gotta go. I got stack of comics here I need to get into, including the whole Swamp Thing/Animal Man combo that is ROTWORLD (god that just sounds so cool) so I best be going.

my preeeeeccccciiiooouuusssssssssss

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