Pearl: An Interview with a Monster

pearl.jpgIt’s that time again! Time for me to promote another upcoming book by my friend, science fiction and fantasy writer Clay Gilbert. I’ve promoted his books in his Annah series on here before, but now I’m promoting his new series featuring a rather unusual girl named Pearl. How unusual is she? Well, you’ll just have to read to find out! But in the meantime, let’s get to know her a little in this interview I did.

  1. I know you like stories about monsters. Do you have a favorite monster? Why? *chuckles* Matt-he’s my adopted dad–asked me that one time. Gotta be either Frankenstein or the Wolf Man, if you mean classic monsters, but I like Godzilla a lot too. And King Kong. And I know Frankenstein ain’t really the monster’s name, but the name of the doctor. But yeah, Frankenstein’s monster wants to get along with people, but people treat him mean and it makes him mean too. Maybe if I never had father figures like Matt or Dr. Steve back in the lab where I grew up, I woulda been sad and angry and mean to folks like Frankenstein’s monster. I got lucky, I guess.
  2. What’s your favorite food? Hmm, I like food. (looks around) Ya got any? (laughs) Scrambled eggs and bacon’s prob’ly my favorite breakfast food. Hot dogs or pizza prob’ly are my two favorite other foods. Matt–Dad–would say those ain’t very good for me, but I can’t help that. (laugh again) I like pepperonis and green peppers and onions on my pizza. But not anchovies. (in Gollum voice) we HATES anchovies, preciousss.
  3. You were named after a verse from the Bible; the “pearl of great price”. What’s your favorite part of the Bible? Anything with Jesus in it. Specially I liked how he talked about people needing to be like children to enter God’s kingdom.  I think people overlook kids a lot of the time, and don’t give ’em enough credit or treat ’em like real people, and I think it mighta been that way in Jesus’s time, too. I know I ain’t like most other ten-year-old kids, but I still know what it’s like not to be listened to by some folks cause of my age, even though I’m smart. Oops, Dad says that’s braggin’ and folks don’t like people who brag too much. Sorry. But yeah, Jesus loved everybody–loves everybody–and he don’t care what color skin someone’s got, whether it’s dark like mine or light yours, or whether somebody got silver eyes or pointy teeth and nails, or not, so long as they good to people and kind to people.
  4. Do you have any favorite musicians? Any you don’t like? I love Johnny Cash. He prob’ly my favorite of all. Love that song “Wabash Cannonball”. and “Man in Black”. I like Tracy Chapman–she makes of think of me. I like LL Cool J and Tupac, even though it sounds like he had a rough time. Maybe even BECAUSE he sounds like he had a rough life . He got hold of a lot of money, but ‘fore he did, sounds like he went through stuff about as bad as the stuff I seen before Dr. Steve or Dad came along. Different stuff, but just as bad. Ain’t no music I don’t like, not really. There’s some good to all of it.
  5. Have you read Firestarter by Stephen King? Your story seems similar in a way. Yeah I read that. I felt sorry for Charlie, the little girl in the book. She coulda been like any normal little girl, well mostly. Guess I’s kind of jealous of her, too. She could go to a normal school, if folks woulda left her and her Dad alone. My dad couldn’t get me in no normal school, no way. He’s homeschooled me though. I mean, I know I talk like a hick, but I’ve read stuff some kids don’t read till college.

Continue reading “Pearl: An Interview with a Monster”

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Bookworm: Annah and the Arrow by Clay Gilbert

 

annah-book-four-clay-gilbert-full-cover-e1504471181732-300x300Well, I just finished the fourth book in my friend Clay Gilbert’s “Children of Evohe” series, “Annah and the Arrow”, so I thought I’d review it here.

After the events of the previous installment Annah And the Gates of Grace, Annah was murdered by the Shadow, but her twins Linnah and Laren survived. Her husband, Gary Holder, raises them on her homeworld while he waits for his return. Her friends in her Circle await her return, as she had promised she would.

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Film Freak: A Wrinkle In Time

wrinkleSomeone once said in regards to movies based on books that the reason the book is usually superior is that the book is allowed to be itself. Maybe that’s why so many books, like Wrinkle In Time, often defy any attempts to adapt them. When this movie got Oprah Winfrey, I cringed. I cringed even more when it got a low score on Rotten Tomatoes. You see, I love A Wrinkle in Time. The whole cycle is one of my favorite series of all time. So I felt I had to give the movie a chance. What a mistake that was.

First, a warning. I am cutting the kids in the movie some slack. I know it’s hard to get good child actors, so I’m not expecting that. The adults, I’m not going lightly on. Anyway, on to the positives.

I didn’t have a problem with the multi-racial cast. Madeline L’Engle never specified what her characters’ nationalities were, so I don’t mind Meg being African-American. It’s a take I didn’t have in mind, but hey, if they want to mix up the races in the story, I’m fine. (I personally thought Meg was a redheard with an Irish accent, but that’s me.) Of the three women who played the Misses, Reese Witherspoon gave the best performance. The computer effects were fine. In fact, the visuals were mostly the only good thing about the movie. But when is Hollywood going to realize they can make the prettiest movie ever, but if it has no substance, it’s worthless?

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Bookworm: 80 Years of Superman (Deluxe Edition)

action comics 1

DC released a special collection of classic stories from Action Comics to celebrate its milestone 1000th issue. I thought I’d look at it and review each comic and article.

  1. “The Coming of Superman”–The first Superman story, where he can’t fly. It’s OK, for what it is. But I prefer a Superman who’s not as brazen with his powers.
  2. “The Mystery of the Freight Train Robberies”–Action Comics #1 didn’t see the debut of just Superman, but also Zatarra, father of Zatanna. I like Zatanna better because she doesn’t have the “Mandrake the Magician” rip-off feel to her stories.
  3. “Revolution in San Monte”–I still say I’m glad other people came on after Jerry Siegel and wrote a nicer version of Superman.
  4. “The Times”, a commentary by Tom DeHaven, a Creative Writing professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. He gets some points docked for scoffing at Supergirl.
  5. “The Origin of the Vigilante”–I’ve never understood why the Vigilante is a thing. He’s just your average cowboy crimefighter.
  6. “The Terrible Toyman!”–Toyman was a big deal in the Pre-Crisis days of Superman. Nowadays, not so much. In fact, I think the current version isn’t even a criminal anymore. Still, he’s actually not a bad villain here, for Golden Age style storytelling anyway.
  7. “How I Saved Superman”–Marv Wolfman talks about his tenure on Superman, a run I’m not familiar with. I knew Wolfman more from New Teen Titans and Crisis on Infinite Earths.
  8. “Too Many Heroes”–An unpublished story from 1945. Superman imposters ruin the real deal’s reputation. Not bad.
  9. “Clark Kent, Reporter”–David Hajdu talks about Superman’s alter ego, and how he’s just as impressive when he’s wearing glasses.
  10. “The Super-Key to Fort Superman”–The first appearance of the Fortress of Solitude. So glad they didn’t keep the original name. This starts the Silver Age section, and it’s pretty good. I love how he’s got stuff in it to pass on to his friends when he dies.
  11. “The Super Duel In Space”–Brainiac makes his first appearance! Loved this one! He’s one of my favorite villains.
  12. “The Supergirl from Krypton!”–Supergirl meets her cousin. I like that they found a good loophole by having her live on another planet before landing on Earth. I’ve always liked her because I like the fact that she constantly lives in her cousin’s shadow.
  13. “Endurance”–Larry Tye contemplates how Superman is relatable even with his god-like status.
  14. “The World’s Greatest Heroine”–Superman reveals Supergirl to the world, including her foster family. I like the part where the Legion of Superheroes shows up at the end and makes sure they don’t ruin the surprise for her until they meet her again and she already knows.
  15. “The Infinite Monster”–Supergirl gets a solo story! She fights a giant monster. It’s not bad.
  16. “The Assassin-Express Contract”–The Human Target’s debut. I really don’t get this “Oh by the way, here’s some stories that have nothing to do with Superman, but they were in his comic” idea. But at least we get some nice Carmine Infantino art

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Bookworm: Action Comics 1000

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When Action Comics hit 1000, I had to get a copy. But I had a problem–there was no comic book shop nearby. My nearest bookstore no longer existed. My solution? Downloaded it off the DC app.

Instead of posting one special story to celebrate this milestone, this issue actually has several stories, celebrating Superman and his legacy. I thought I’d review and rank all of them.

  • “From the City That Has Everything” (Team: Dan Jurgens/Norm Rapmund/Hi-fi/Rob Leigh)–10/10

Summary: Superman fights off a Khund invader and reluctantly returns to Metropolis, where they are celebrating Superman Day. Lois wants him to hear everyone’s testimonies, but he’s too nervous about the invaders.

Review: I liked all the testimonies, including the reformed criminal. It set the tone for the rest of the comic.

  • “Never-Ending Battle” (Peter J. Tomasi/Patrick Gleason/Alexandro Sanchez/Tom Napolitano)8/10

Summary: Superman battles Vandal Savage across space and time, reflecting on the life and battles he’s had so far while celebrating his birthday with his family.

Review: This may be one of the last stories Tomasi ever does for Superman, and if it is, then it’s a good farewell. Gleason’s artwork was great, but I’m deducting points for the Conner Kent cameo. Way to rub our faces in it, DC.

  • “An Enemy Within” (Marv Wolfman/Curt Swan/Kurt Schaffenberger/Hi-fi/Rob Leigh) 9/10

Summary: While Superman fights one of Brainiac’s drones in Japan, a principal in Metropolis has been hypnotized into taking someone hostage. What Superman doesn’t realize is that the drone he’s fighting is what’s controlling the principal.

Review: This story was especially unearthed just for this issue, and is the only story that isn’t new. (For those who don’t know, Curt Swan was one of DC’s most-celebrated artists, and died in 1996) It even ends with a Curt Swan-esque drawing in tribute to him.

  • “The Game” (Paul Levitz/Neal Adams/Hi-fi/Dave Sharpe)7/10

Summary: Superman and Luthor take time out from fighting each other to play a game of chess.

Review: This was a great scene and a classic-style story of worthy opponents with Lex at his hammiest. It seemed like something out of Superfriends, but I liked it.

  • “The Car” (Geoff Johns & Richard Donner/Oliver Colpel/Sanchez/Napolitano)

Summary: You know that car that Superman is picking up on the very first cover of Action Comics? We meet the driver in this story. 8/10

Review: “Hey what about the car Superman picked up on the cover?” sounds like a good “high concept” story idea. And I like Geoff Johns a lot, even with the controversy that seems to follow him wherever he goes.

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My Top 10 Favorite Comic Book Writers

The main reason I like comic books is they are a great marriage of writer and artist. For the next two posts, I will be discussing my favorite writers and artists of the medium. For now, I will focus on the writers.

10) Chuck Dixon –For most of the 90’s, Dixon was one of the best writers on Batman and the various spinoffs. He helped Tim Drake break out as a new Robin in his solo book. He created Bane, one of Batman’s most dangerous enemies. And he helped establish Nightwing as a solo hero by creating his home turf of Bludhaven, Gotham’s sister city.

9) Jeff Smith–Creator and artist behind Bone, Jeff Smith gets the nod here for his mastery in humor. He is excellent at pacing his stories in order to time his jokes perfectly, but he’s also just as good at creating a rich lore for his characters.

8) Denny O’Neil–For most of the 70’s and 80’s, Denny O’Neil helped to redefine Batman beyond what he was in the Silver Age, becoming almost as important as Frank Miller would become years later. In addition, he also was the creative team behind the establishment of the Green Arrow/Green Lantern team, helping to show how comic books can be a viable medium for political expression.

7) Scott Snyder–the most recent addition to this list, Scott Snyder was recruited to Batman during DC’s controversial New 52 rebranding. While I had my problems with the New 52, Snyder’s version of Batman was not one of them. I’m so glad they’ve kept Snyder on in the Rebirth version of DC’s universe.

6) Dan Jurgens–a writer and artist best known for creating Booster Gold and his work on Superman, especially the “Death and Return of Superman” arcs. During his tenure on Superman, he showed that Superman could indeed be a relatable character.

5) Kurt Busiek–creator of both Astro City and Marvels, both of which also feature the magnificent work of Alex Ross. What I like about Busiek is that he often uses the POV of the ordinary person, allowing the reader to imagine what it would be like to walk among the giants of the superhero world.

4) Grant Morrison–while some may consider Morrison to be overrated, I don’t think he is. He is a very surreal writer whose imagination creates intricate stories that I often have to read more than once in order to fully grasp. I especially love his runs on JLA and Doom Patrol.

3) Chris Claremont–While Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the X-Men, I feel it’s the creative team of Chris Claremont and John Byrne that truly defined the team. He turned them into the dysfunctional family that they are best known as and weaved plots that often took a long time to pay off, but when they did, it was often awesome.

2) Neil Gaiman–Neil Gaiman is best known for his work on the Vertigo series Sandman, my all-time favorite comic book. It combined several genres–superhero, fantasy, horror, and mythology; weaving them all into an intricate tapestry that I would even recommend to those who don’t normally read comics.

1) Alan Moore–Time Magazine once made a countdown of the greatest novels of the 20th century, and bent their rules so they could include Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s epic miniseries Watchmen. This series is often celebrated for its excellent deconstruction of the superhero mythos. What I like best about Moore is his ambiguity. He often leaves the story up to your own interpretation. I think it’s great that he trusts the reader that way. And as for his worshipping a sock puppet, hey if his weird habits help him to create such awesome stories, then why not?

Come back next week, and I’ll talk about my favorite artists!

Bookworm: To Siri With Love by Judith Newman

boycotttosiriMy mom gets Reader’s Digest each month. In the October 2017 issue, they published an excerpt from Judith Newman’s book To Siri With Love. The excerpt piqued my interest, so I borrowed it from the library. On the exact day I started reading it, I saw a campaign on Facebook using the hashtag “#BoycotttoSiri” I read the articles about the book and was heartbroken.  This mother can’t be this bad, can she? Spoiler alert–she is.

There is a type of mother in the autism community called the “autism mom.” This is a mother who sees herself as a martyr because of the “suffering” she goes through for her child. She will complain endlessly about how terrible it is to raise a child. They rarely, if ever, celebrate the joys of motherhood because they don’t see it as joyful. They see it as a burden.  That is my first problem with this book. She even has the audacity to ask if her child is thinking and say she is unsure if autism should be cured. (The correct answer to that question that should never even be asked is NO! Not yes, or maybe, or unsure–NO!) The reason this is a problem is that these parents don’t seem to realize that EVERY parent has difficulty raising children, even the ones who aren’t autistic can be difficult! This does NOT make you a martyr.

My second problem is how she treats autism advocates. She is very condescending about them, almost as if she doesn’t value their opinion. In fact, when autistic YouTube personality Amythest Schaber called her out for calling her a “manic pixie dream girl” (a derogatory term for overtly cheerful women. Because autistic women can’t possibly be cheerful), Newman didn’t apologize–she gaslighted her! She made it seem as if, by not asking for her permission to be quoted, she was doing her a favor. A “nice surprise”, she called it. She then called her a brat because Schaber still persisted to criticize her dehumanizing book. In short, if you don’t share her POV, you’re not worth her time.

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