Thursday, December 31, 2009



There's a lunar eclipse today.

There's a blue moon. A BLUE MOON, for crying out loud!

The planet Mercury is retrograde.

Ruth Lilly just passed away -- a sad moment for us Hoosiers, especially those of us in Indianapolis.

It's DAMN cold outside.

AND, it's my birthday, and I'm turning frickin' 45 years old. I'm a 45-year-old with a TODDLER.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Batman-Santa tale by Frank Miller and Denny O'Neil

Back in his early days illustrating Daredevil, and long before he did The Dark Knight Returns or Batman: Year One, Frank Miller illustrated a Batman Christmas tale written by Denny O'Neil. This was back in 1980, when Miller was still primarily an illustrator, and was darned good at it -- his early style being like a cross between Neal Adams and Marshall Rogers.

The story, first published in DC Special Series #21, and featuring Miller's first published drawings of Batman, begins like this: Batman is out patrolling on Christmas Eve (of course), and he's rather ticked off about a star being stolen out of a public nativity scene:

Meanwhile, not too far away, a crime boss named Lasko is celebrating Christmas in his own way -- when Batman suddenly drops in on him:

Batman asks why Lasko has arranged to have a boat waiting in Gotham Harbor. Lasko responds by turning his goons loose on Bats -- with predictable results:

Poor old Boomer Katz. He's an ex-con who seems to have gotten very popular all of a sudden, with Batman AND a bunch of underworld thugs out to get him. But Boomer had been working for the Salvation Army and now has a job as a high-end department store Santa -- and he LIKES the job. Trouble is, underworld thugs have bullied him into helping them rob the department store. Poor old Boomer.

After the store closes, the thugs move in on Boomer to get him to let them in the store. He resists, saying he can't go back to being what he was, but they force him to get them access to the store. Once inside, the thugs try to ice Boomer, but he makes a run for it. Lucky for him, Batman hears the gunshots and decides to break into the store, figuring that if he's wrong --

Batman makes short work of all of the thugs except one, who's run out the back to chase after Boomer and kill him. Batman runs after them, but sees no sign of them, until ...

"Wanted: Santa Claus, Dead or Alive," from DC Special Series #21, 1980. Written by Denny O'Neil. Pencils by Frank Miller. Inks by Steve Mitchell.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

An important part of the publishing industry dies

It's no secret that various types of publications have been dying a very slow and painful death in the decades since personal computers were first offered to the public. Over the past 20 years, newspapers and magazines, especially, have been scrambling to reinvent themselves in order to stay afloat. Some modest ventures have paid off for some publications; but the industry continues to shrink, and probably will continue to shrink until it's no more, or at least relegated to isolated pockets of small mom-and-pop businesses scattered across the globe. I do hope the small business side prevails and the industry DOES survive somehow, some way. Right now, though, things look pretty bleak.

Book publishing has fared only slightly better than newspaper and magazine publishing. Electronic book sales have helped a little, but they aren't even close to replacing the print industry just yet. And this past week, the book publishing industry was dealt a painful blow. Interestingly, the blow came from the cancellation of two magazines: Editor & Publisher and Kirkus Reviews.

Since 1884, Editor & Publisher, though primarily an information source for newspaper publishers, provided a very important service for professionals in the publishing industry -- it helped us FIND WORK anywhere a position was open. One didn't necessarily have to specialize in newspapers in order to find work via Editor & Publisher -- the entire print and publishing industry was often represented.

If you think the Internet has made finding publishing jobs easier, that's a wrong assumption. There are too many people trying to electronically file their resumes with publishing companies these days. Companies are being SWAMPED with such applications, as filing electronically has become way too quick and easy for most people -- particularly those who aren't even qualified for the jobs in question. As a result, many publishing companies have stopped perusing their email or Web-based sources for potential employees and are looking instead for old-fashioned, snail-mailed paper resumes. Companies know that someone willing to put in the effort and resources to mail them a paper resume and cover letter is worth considering -- and job-seekers know that a company that advertises in a publication like Editor & Publisher really and truly has a position to fill. Without Editor & Publisher, and resources like it, it's become much harder to figure out who in the USA, Canada, or other countries has positions to fill. It's still very difficult to sit down at a computer and search through publisher Web sites for openings, especially since publishers tend to come and go very quickly, and it's too easy to overlook some of them. CareerBuilder and similar services are useless because, as already stated, the volume of electronic resumes is way too high.

Then there's the death of Kirkus Reviews. Since 1933, Kirkus Reviews was a single, trustworthy source used by every part of the publishing and motion picture industry to find out what books and authors were out there, what was worth reading or purchasing, and what wasn't. Kirkus Reviews supplied publishers, libraries, film producers, and more with reviews of over 4,500 titles a year, covering all genres. It helped libraries and booksellers decide what books to have in stock; it helped publishers find authors; it helped filmmakers find ideas for movies and TV shows ... Now it's gone, and there doesn't seem to be anything on the horizon to replace it -- no one, single, reliable, reputable source anywhere, even on the Internet. Hopefully someone somewhere, somehow, will step in to provide the same services. Right now, though, there's nothing in sight.

For me, the fall of Kirkus Reviews is particularly painful, because it gave me my first review -- a favorable one -- for my first novel. It also helped to get my novel into libraries across North America. I don't know who or what will do that for me now. I'm grateful for what Kirkus Reviews did for me. I'll miss it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Superman and Batman vs. the SANTA question

Dagnabbit, I'm sick YET AGAIN. I tell ya, whenever Mighty Mite catches the latest bug going around, I catch it, too -- but whereas it takes her only two days to recover, it seems to take me about two MONTHS. It's not fair, I tells ya!

Well, enough whining. It's time for me to get into the spirit of the holidays, and what better way to do that than to watch super-heroes make idiots of themselves. Let's begin by dropping in on what Superman is up to, shall we? It seems that some kid named Tyrone wrote a letter to the Daily Planet asking if Santa Claus is just for babies. Well, Superman decides he's going to show Tyrone that Santa is cool -- by playing Santa himself.

Awwwww ... You know, Superman is just so cute sometimes. PATHETIC, but cute. What do YOU think, Batman?

Oh, geez, Batman, quit being such a grouch. Ah, but the big jerk can't help it, can he? Not only that, he starts pouring all of his criticism and angst on Superman, telling Supes how he has standards to uphold, blah, blah, blah ...

... and how Supes looks SO STUPID decked out as Santa ...

Poor ol' Superman succumbs to Batman's browbeating. He grudgingly admits that he feels a bit silly, and he gives up the idea of playing Santa. Once Superman leaves Batman and discards his Santa gear, though, he can't resist flying by Tyrone's house and peeking in with his x-ray vision, just to make sure things are okay. And what should he see ...!

BAT-Santa?!?! Why, that -- that -- THAT--!!!

Yeah! GETTIM, Supes! Lousy hypocritical ol' bat-brained so-and-so ...!

("Yes, Tyrone, There Is a Santa Clause," written by Kelley Puckett and drawn by PEte Woods; from DCU Infinite Holiday Special #1, 2007.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Yes, the Muppets are STILL FUNNY!

For anyone who hasn't yet seen it, here is the latest and greatest viral video: The Muppets and their version of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. Enjoy!

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

I can't believe how busy I've been. Remember back when I said I was going to take a bit of a break from blogging regularly, because I'd been sitting on a half-finished book that I needed to finish writing? Well, so much for that idea. I've barely been able to touch my book, darn it. Work and other things keep thwarting my good intentions. It's a good thing I'm not on any deadlines -- though I can't help thinking that I'd be more motivated if there WERE deadlines. :-) Ah, well ...