PKD in Medellin–recursive surreality

The folks at Fractal posted up the video of my Philip K Dick talk from April. It was 8:30 in the morning and outdoors at Medellin’s botanical gardens. Kind of mind-blowingly beautiful, actually.

Don’t try to sit all the way through the talk (unless you’re a hardcore PKD head), but check out the surroundings — it was a great place to hold a conference.

If the player doesn’t run, you can view the video here.

Final Fantasy: Comic Book Edition

Okay, as a kid my dream was to write a science fiction paperback. Not a hardback — those were for dictionaries — but a cheap, lurid paperback that I could buy on the rack at K-Mart.

Dracula: Company of Monsters, Variant cover

The variant cover, by Ron Salas

Done and Done. Well, almost done. K-Mart still doesn’t stock me. But cheap and lurid? Check.

But before THAT dream, there was this out-and-out fantasy: to write and draw my own comic book. Then I found out around age 12 that my artistic talent went no further than being able to draw Captain America’s face. Just one expression, a kind of Kirbyish rectangular smile. Though I have to say, I totally nailed the cheek bones.

So, then, just writing a comic. Wouldn’t that be great? Alas, even after I grew up and started generating facial hair, I had no idea how to break into comics.

Then I met Chris Roberson and his wife and business partner, Allison Baker. I told them my fantasy (always a dicey proposition). They nodded sagely.  See, Chris and Allison run indie publishing house MonkeyBrain Books, and Chris writes prose as well as comics, so as far as I’m concerned, they’re living the dream.

Fast forward two years. I get this email from Matt Gagnon at Boom! Studios, saying, Chris Roberson said you might be interested in writing comics — how about this one? With Kurt Busiek? (For those of you not into comics, replace the name “Kurt Busiek” with “Jesus Christ”.) I think I clicked Reply before the email had fully loaded onto my screen.

So the comic series is called “Dracula: Company of Monsters.” It’s coming out at the end of August. And here’s the marketing pitch:

He’s back from the dead and starring in a new ongoing horror series from the mind of Kurt Busiek. A powerful, predatory corporation acquires a valuable asset – Dracula! They think they own him, but no one can own the Son of the Dragon. There’s a monster in their midst that puts Hannibal Lecter to shame – and he plans to gain his freedom in blood. It’s bloodsuckers vs. bloodsucker, as Busiek brings an incredibly modern spin to the Dracula mythos. Joining Busiek is award-winning author Daryl Gregrory (Pandemonium) and rising star artist Scott Godlewski (Codebreakers). The epic journey starts here, so don’t miss the debut issue of Dracula: The Company Of Monsters, the next breakout ongoing series from BOOM! Studios! Featuring covers by Ron Salas and fan-favorite The Nocturnals artist Dan Brereton.

The primary cover, by Dan Brereton

Kurt (I call him Kurt now, or just JC) came up with the idea, the background, the main characters, the outline of the plot–basically, the story bible. Scott Godlewski is the artist. And me, I’ll be writing the word balloons. Now, that may sound like a trivial thing to you, mister, but I’m nervous but amped up beyond belief.

Fortunately, last week I was at the Clockwork Storybook retreat. Did I mention that Chris and his friends invited me in to to their rock ‘em sock ‘em writer’s collective?  Last week was my first time to attend their annual get-together, and Chris, Matt Sturges, Bill Willingham, Mark Andreyko, Bill Williams, and Mark Finn gave me a crash course in comics. Everything from how many words fit in a balloon, to why five-panel layouts work so well, to who the best people are to work for in the biz. (As well as who the crazies are.)  Every day was an eye-opener.

And now I get to try it out for myself. Issue 1 ships in August.  Let the biting begin.

And all you people googling for Final Fantasy, the video game? Sorry about that, I just couldn’t pass up the title.

“What We Take…” free for the taking

Hey, I’m back from Las Vegas, after five days of high level talks and important diplomatic initiatives with the Clockwork Storybook gang. (Clockwork, for those just tuning in, is a fine group of prose and comics and screen writers who invited me in to their happy band last year — our group blog is at clockworkstorybook.blogspot.com) I’m a little fried from taking the red-eye home, so someday soon I’ll blog about why the writer retreat was so darn useful, eye-opening, and well-timed: especially considering my Super Sekrit News, which I hope to reveal extremely soon.

But here’s something I can reveal: my story “What We Take When We Take What We Need” is now online at Subterranean Online Magazine. It’s an alternate take of some themes and characters from my book The Devil’s Alphabet, so you English majors out there can Compare and Contrast.

Okay, now for a nap.

Masked UnMasked

Howdy folks,

Believe it or not, as you read this I’m in the air, winging my way to Las Vegas for a writer’s retreat with the folks from clockwork storybook. I never thought I could feel so free. Flying away on a wing and a prayer…

Sorry. Greatest American Hero got stuck in my head there.

But speaking of heroes, let me tell you about a book that will be released in July that I’m so happy to be part of.  Masked is an anthology of superhero stories, all originals, written by comics writers, prose writers, and those that do both. My story’s there alongside those from some of my clockwork compadres Matt Sturges, Bill Willingham, Marjorie Liu, Paul Cornell, and Chris Roberson. (Yes, we are all over this book.) It’s edited by Lou Anders, who spends most of his time turning Pyr Books into the next SF/F juggernaut.

I love this cover -- by Brit artist Trevor Hairsine

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Golden Age by Lou Anders
“Cleansed and Set in Gold” by Matthew Sturges
“Where their Worm Dieth Not” by James Maxey
“Secret Identity” by Paul Cornell
“The Non-Event” by Mike Carey
“Avatar” by Mike Baron
“Message from the Bubblegum Factory” by Daryl Gregory
“Thug” by Gail Simone
“Vacuum Lad” by Stephen Baxter
“A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows” by Chris Roberson
“Head Cases” by Peter David & Kathleen David
“Downfall” by Joseph Mallozzi
“By My Works You Shall Know Me” by Mark Chadbourn
“Call Her Savage” by Marjorie M. Liu
“Tonight we fly” by Ian McDonald
“A to Z in the Ultimate Big Company Superhero Universe (Villains Too)” by Bill Willingham

And hey, it’s already available for pre-order on Amazon.

My close, personal friend, Juan Valdez

Jeremy Robert Johnson, Juan Valdez, and Me (photo by Vivi Trujillo)

Did I mention I went to Medellin, Colombia? Well I did, and now I’m back.Actually, I’ve been back for two weeks, but it’s taken me forever to write this post, and there’s _still_ more I could write about.

To answer the questions of my nervous relatives first: No one attempted to kidnap me. (Well, two local writers did, just for lunch, but it didn’t work out.)

Second, Juan Valdez exists. He’s kind of like Lassie, in that you don’t want to ask which Juan Valdez you’re with, or how many came before. On the other hand, the Juans last a lot longer than Marlboro Men. But he gave us all coffee! Which I’m drinking as a type this. Thanks, JV!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Continue reading