Author Matthew Sturges
Story placement is all-important when assembling an anthology.  You want that first tale to really grab the reader, engage them, and ultimately leave them with a deep impression, the kind that remains long after the story has been read, sort of like the lingering flavors of a fine wine or the bruise bestowed upon an unwitting brainpan.  “Cleaned and Set in Gold” does just that, delivering an outrageously delicious narrative that will leave readers at turns surprised and delighted and, in some cases, even a little dizzy.  It’s the tale of a superhero, The Wildcard, who acquires his powers through peculiar, downright disquieting, means.  While the source of his powers may be at odds with his role as a reservist for the League of Heroes, David Caulfield manages just fine – until a reporter starts looking for answers.  It’s a story about secrets, secret identities, and the questionable sacrifices made in the pursuit of justice.

Its author, Matthew Sturges, is no stranger to the world of comics, having worked alongside fellow Masked contributor Bill Willingham on the Eisnery-nominated Jack of Fables and House of Mystery for DC/Vertigo.  He’s also lent his writing services to titles including Blue Beetle, Justice Society of America, Shadowpact, and the terrific six-issue Crisis Aftermath: Run!  Fantasy Book Critic called his first novel, Midwinter, “the best pure genre debut of 09”.  Its sequel, The Office of Shadow, was just released and, in its review, Publisher’s Weekly points out that “Sturges has an easy ear for dialogue and character”.  And, having just re-read “Cleansed and Set in Gold”, I couldn’t agree more.

I asked Matt to offer up his thoughts on “Cleansed and Set in Gold”. He kindly obliged with the following…

When Lou Anders approached me with the concept of Masked I knew that I wanted in immediately. What appealed to me most was that Lou presented it as a book that would take the concept of superheroes seriously; no “wink, wink, aren’t we clever” stories whose intent was to deconstruct or condescend to the genre (Daryl Gregory’s story is, actually, fairly deconstructive, but it’s brilliant and done with love, so it gets a pass). Instead, these were to be actual superhero stories, and what’s more, he wanted people who’d actually written superhero comics to write as many of the stories as possible.

Having experienced superhero writers is key, I think, because it meant that the stories would be far more likely to avoid cliché. We who work in those particular trenches have seen the classic stories told and retold, and this was an opportunity to tell a kind of story that just couldn’t be told in the context of mainstream superhero comics. I think most superhero writers have a few stories in the dugout that are permanently benched because they can’t imagine who would dare publish them.

“Cleansed and Set in Gold,” for instance, is a story that could never have been printed by DC or Marvel for a number of reasons, not the least of which being the core subject matter of the tale. It’s pretty dark, and even the best artwork would have given a cast to the story that would have rendered the protagonist a difficult character to relate to. One of the great freedoms of prose is that it allows the writer to imply rather than to show. And there are certain instances where showing events gives them an unintended cast because of the viewer’s gut emotional reaction to images.

The genesis of the story was pretty straightforward, and started with a simple What If. What if a superhero had a power whose source was so distasteful and immoral that it was difficult for him to know if what he did with those powers outweighed what he did in order to get them? As I wrote it, it grew and turned into a story about friendship, and the extent to which we define ourselves in terms of those around us. The central premise of the story serendipitously became a metaphor for something universal, which is always a nice thing to happen, because it makes us writers seems smarter than we really are. At least, I hope it does.

And failing all that, it has numerous scenes of people in tights punching monsters. As one of my editors is fond of saying, “When in doubt, punch someone.”

Coincidentally, my grandmother used to have a saying that was not too dissimilar.  And, before you start criticizing her, you should know that she was a tough old bird who lived to 112.  Stories about my grandmother can be found by searching this blog.  Stories about and by Matthew Sturges can be found over on his blog, here: http://matthewsturges.com/wordpress/

Okay, it’s time for another season 2 picture tease (in which I use a photo from a season 1 episode to hint at what’s to come).  Oh, I have a feeling more than a few of you are going to go crazy for this one...

And a little something from the Atlantis archives –
Guest star hangs around catering, waiting for his next scene.
Stunt Coordinator James "Bam Bam" Bamford comes in peace.
What a prima donna. First, he insists that he be wheeled from his trailer to set rather than be forced to walk. Then, he gets this massive piece of chewing gum stuck to the side of his head and it takes the crew an hour to detach it without ruining his make-up.

57 thoughts on “August 4, 2010: Author Matthew Sturges stops in! Another SGU season 2 tease! More from the Atlantis archives!

  1. 1/The origin of the evolution of goauld is another mystery,
    Have they really discovered on their own initiative how to travel by the gate (It is very difficult to compose an address in the good order knowing that it has 7 symbols, without counting the fact that some would correspond to no planet)?

    2/Nox was left of quoted in SG1 contrary to asgards,
    Will reinstate them you one day in one of your movies or in SGU?

    3/We see in one of the episodes of SG1 that some asgards stayed under their original shape (cf 5X22)
    is it possible that like the asgards of pégase, several factions not agreeing with the program of cloning exile themselves ?

  2. We know that the ancients put in by drones possess beams of plasma as weapon.
    will they put in evidence in your next movie of stargate atlantis

  3. Hello Joe.

    Hmmm… Two references to Faith… I am intrigued. Can’t wait for season two. BTW, thanks for the Atlantis photos.

    How has Jelly been lately? Hope she is still recovering nicely.

    Best Wishes,

    Bryan

  4. Matthew Sturges! Yeaaaah! House of Mystery rocks! Still waiting for amazon to deliver my copy of Masked. 🙁

  5. I’ve always wondered what craft services provided for the Asgard actors, and also why they were never invited to your chocolate parties.

  6. Holy Crap. I was so excited I spelled your name wrong. Please forgive me! 🙁

  7. 1. Thanks for answering my question regarding Akemi’s name. I forgot to ask if the ‘A’ is pronounced Ah, or A. I’ts been a rough week. 😛

    2. Joe, did your grammy really live to 112? Wow. My maternal grandmom (nan) lived to 101. There were some good genes in that generation (ya know, the generation before everyone started sitting on their asses for everything).

    3. @ for the love of Beckett – I really need to invent the 30 hour day.

    Gotta run!

    das

  8. Thank you for the Dark Asgard episode pics, and Whispers yesterday.

    PBMom – Thinking of you.

    Bon anniversaire a Anais33!

    Go BAG!

  9. Okay, just read Matthew Sturges’s “Cleansed and Set in Gold”. Holy s*^#! Can’t wait for the book discussion to begin.

  10. @BMc — Thanks.

    Oh yeah: BAG. I cannot wait to see the tie-in to the “Faith” episode either.

    So let me put in yet another request to keep Mike Dopud around for awhile please as Varro? That’s not to say that he isn’t around until episode 20 of season 2, but just in case.

    BTW — Patrick Gilmore asked everyone what they were doing to get fans for Stargate Universe. In the May 2010 issue of FEAT-Houston is an article about my trip to Dallas International Film Festival where Lou D Phillips was so kind to take a picture of me and him together with a sign acknowledging another SGU fan, Frith. Frith donated $500 to FEAT-Houston (she wanted to be there but couldn’t — long-time LDP fan) for that picture. The headline reads: Stargate Universe Fan Garners $500 Donation The article also talked about Lou’s charity ACT-Today! The circulation is I think close to 7000 people now, and autism families love to support people who support them, so I think you are probably going to have some new viewers. At least a few.

  11. Holy BAG!

    Do you know what you have done? The worshipers have already gone crazy thanks to this.

  12. Ok, I’ve got to start keeping up with the blog, because when saw BAG, I’m thinking, there’s going to be an Old Bag on SGU? Cool, it’s about bloody time someone represented us.

    But, oh, it’s the Bald Asian Guy person. Great, hope you don’t kill him off, unless it’s to replace him an OLD BAG.

  13. Still pending date for surgery. Fortunately, still mobile with only occasional pain. Once date is set, will buy MASKED for post-surgery reading.

  14. Of course, the one question I would have about the Sturges story is how did Wildcard find out about his powers in the first place. But it’s possible he covered it and I missed it. I shall have to re-read the story.

  15. Best SGU teaser….

    Masked is my beach read this weekend. I’m really looking forward to it!

  16. How cute was Kavan Smith as Sheriff Andy on Eureka? Anyone know if he’s on for more eps on Eureka?

    Oh BAG, how we’ve missed your gentle briefcase-holding ways and your stoic bravery in the face of adversity. I worry for BAG if he stayed back on the planet with White Shirt n’ Khakis dude; Khaki’s has a Jim Jonesian air about him. All’s I’m saying is if I were BAG I wouldn’t drink the kool-aid.

  17. 1. Okay, it took me a while but I finally figured out who/what BAG is. See, Joe, fans are such easy things to please. 😉

    2. Can’t wait now to read Mr. Sturges story!

    3. I AM reading your story, Joe – but only able to catch a page or two on the run (thank goodness for those little ‘chapter’ breaks!). It’s all I seem able to manage – this summer has been insane. I mostly come on-line when I’m eating and/or watching tv (down to only Psych and White Collar and rugby – just don’t have time for anything else), or when I get really bored at work…computer time most always means I’m multitasking. I have a pile of comics, half-read books, and graphic novels/trades sitting by the sofa, taunting me. I just can’t find time! Most mornings I have to make breakfast for Mr. Das and pack his lunch (it’s worse than having a kid!), then I try to get all my chores (plants, beds, dishes, laundry, cats, straightening up, etc) done first thing because of the heat, get dressed and get to work around noonish, work until 7 or 8, grab take-out (a lot of salads, Chinese, and burgers), try to finish ‘dinner’ by 9, and in bed by 10…11 at the latest. I only eat two meals (a sort of brunch and dinner), but because I’m eating so late I swear I’m gonna be the size of a house by the end of the summer – with an attached garage…AND a yard shed! 😛

    That said, I am enjoying your story very much, even if I am grabbing it in bits. I just got to the ‘realization’ part, and now I gotta know what on earth that lightbulb going off was all about…but gotta wait. 🙁 Argh! I hope I can find some time to read tonight, because tomorrow we’re totally tied up, and who the hell knows what Saturday will bring. As I said before, gimme another 6 hours or so in the day, and I’ll be fine. 😛

    Gotta run!

    das

  18. Could this foreshadow the return of our beloved BAG? Oh, happy day!

    Numfar, do the dance of joy!

  19. Hi Mr. Mallozzi,

    I wanted to ask you: who are the main villains in the movies “Stargate: Revolution” and “Stargate: Extinction”?

  20. Hi Joe,

    Hurray for BAG! Hurray for SGA pics! Hurray for Masked! Hurray for PBmom and Frith and Patrick Gilmore and FEAT-Houston! Bon Anniversaire a Annais! I’m really cheery this morning! Yesterday was totally FAB – got my new PartyLite stuff for the Fall/Holiday season (I sell PL candles and accessories to earn a little fun-money), put together a $150 order already, someone else placed another $100 order online, two people booked parties and another person saw my FB page and wants to start her own PL business – banner day! On top of all that, in my Play & Learn toddler group yesterday little Sara, who is 2 and mid-high range autistic, interacted with another little girl without prompting and waved at her when she left – I know it doesn’t sound like much, but her mom and I were in tears because this is the first time Sara has ever acknowledged another child! So, Hurray for Sara! Now, *searching through purse* if I could only find that extra time I had to send to Das, all would be right with the world!

    Smiles, Julie

  21. Oh and Joe….

    Any more rumblings on either movie front. The situation at MGM is pretty bleak, and if investors won’t fund any movie projects, why fund direct to DVD projects in a unstable market. Do you still think revolution is a matter of when, or is it more iffy now?

    Thanks so much,
    Major D. Davis

  22. @Shiny

    It was AWESOME to see Kavan Smith on Eureka. Hes the only TV/Movie actor ive ever met in my life, so I was psyched to see him on one of my fav shows again. 🙂

    @Gabriele

    Speculation based on spoilers and movie info……

    SPOILERS!!

    *
    *
    *
    *
    *
    *

    For Revolution I believe it will be the Alliance or something with the Jaffa.

    For Extinction I believe the evil asgard and the Daedalus Variations enemies will be involved, though I think the Asgard save us(the city of Atlantis) from the Daedalus Variations aliens and the Asgard are the ones going extinct. I read some spoilers but they didn’t have a source, and the guy wasn’t willing to reveal where he got the info because someone could get in trouble.

    Thanks so much,
    Major D. Davis

  23. Oh and guess what guys.

    Remember how PG15 built a lego version of destiny before the show aired. Well in the faith commentary the actors were talking about hopefully seeing action figures and models (specifically of destiny) and then Patrick Gilmore asked the other actors if they saw that someone built a lego destiny and posted it on twitter! I was like OMG PG15! LOL. The other actors were impressed and Patrick said it was a Vancouver kid who built the ship. Brian J said that he should get a job on the show. LOL

  24. I want to punch something – or someone – really, really, REALLY hard. 😡

    Is John ‘Kill the Wraith’ Sheppard available? 😀

    Mind if I rant, Joe?? Huh, do ya mind? Too bad, I’ma gonna do it anyways! So there, pfffft!

    I am fed up with whinybabyassdeadbeat employees. Also a bit fed up with my dadboss for not putting his foot down. Here’s the thing…I do payroll on Thursdays (latest, Friday morn). However, I NEED – as in ‘must have, no ands, ifs, or buts’ – their time cards and service slips earlier in the week so I can check everything off, make sure I have all the slips I need, etc., etc. I have told them over and over that I must have their time card and slips from the previous week on my desk no later than Tuesday morning. NO. LATER.

    So, here it is Thursday afternoon, and one subcontractor and one mechanic still have not turned in their time cards/slips. The mechanic even tried to tell me his time over the phone, ‘Just put me down for 40 hours.’ 😕

    Oh, yeah, riiiiiiight. I’m gonna take your word for it that you actually worked 40 hours, and then I’m going to wait another two weeks to get your card and slips because – once you’re paid – you’re gonna see no need to give me your already overdue paperwork! I told him as much in my ‘I’m NOT messing around’ mommyvoice, and he started whining and hung up the phone.

    He whines all the time. No, not whines – yells. Yells and throws hissy fits. He’s like our company’s version of Mel Gibson. I gotta say, the ONLY guy who has ever thrown a hissy fit and looked waaaaay HAWT doing it is Steve the Wraith. Other than that, when a grown man throws a hissy fit, he looks and sounds like a goddamn idiotbaby. Well, this guy is an idiotbaby. Tell him to do a job, and he starts with the, ‘Oh, god – do I HAVE to go there? Those people are freakin’ morons! There’s no room to work and the kitchen is greasy and I’m tired and I had a rough night last night and my tummy hurts and why can’t you send someone else there??!’

    AAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH!! ALL. BLOODY. SUMMER. LONG. I have been dealing with these babies – they can’t work because they have friends visiting, or they broke up with their girlfriend, or they come in late/don’t show because they overslept and/or are hungover, or they don’t want to work any overtime because happy hour starts at 5 pm, or they suddenly take vacation right in the middle of the summer – on the hottest week of the summer – and get an attitude when you complain about it (for those who don’t know, we’re in the HVAC & commercial refrig. business in a resort area – you do NOT take vacation in the middle of the summer!). That’s just the tip of a really bigass iceberg.

    Thing is, we have been trying to hire new mechanics all spring/summer, but no one wants to work this far south in the state (not when they can make better money up north), or – the bigger problem – there are very few refrigeration mechanics around, and those that are around mostly have their own businesses. We get tons of guys who know HVAC, but no one who knows the refrigeration end of things, so we’re kinda stuck with what we got now. I thought last summer was bad employee-wise, but this is even worse.

    Oh, and even with the AC cranking full-blast, this metal box I work in – the metal box where I have to deal with the whinybabies – runs about 80 degrees all summer long.

    I really need a drink. Or chocolate. Or both. 😛

    /rant

    Thank you, Joe… *smoochies* ….I feel MUCH better. 🙂

    das

  25. I am sorely regretting having spent all of my allotted book money for the next two months already. My library still does not have ‘Masked’ and they cannot even tell me if the are going to get it in any time soon. This means I may have to persuade a friend that they really want to buy and let me borrow it before they read it…

    Food question: Are you a big maple fan? If yes do you have any good non-dessert recipes with maple syrup?

  26. @ PBmom – ;D Thanks!!!

    @ Das – I’d say, no timecard=no paycheck and see how fast they come in then! Maybe they should remember what the unemployment rate is and how many people would be happy to take their jobs – training new people is a drag, but dealing longterm with layabouts might just make it worthwhile. {{{HUGZ}}} to Das!

  27. Das: can you put me down for 40 hours, too? 😀 Sorry couldn’t resist. Hope your day gets better.

    JulieAloha: Congrats!

    Major Davis: Yes, they should hire PG15!

  28. Oooh, Bam Bam’s looking like he could kick some alien booty! Somehow I don’t believe the peace sign 😉

    Eeek gotta go study for me speech test. Speech class is not so much fun when there are tests involved. Seriously…can’t we just give speeches? :\

  29. Did you (PTB) have a show Bible for SG-1 or SGA? Do you have one for SGU? Any chance we’ll see Jack or Sam in season 2?

  30. @PBmom

    WOW! Thats a lot of people. Thats really cool! So far ive only got 1 person HOOKED on SGU. And im not sure if it counts because I got here hooked on SGU before Patrick posted the call to arms. Ive directed some toward SGU but not sure if they got hooked. lol

  31. I really don’t get why people go nuts over BAG, its weird, but good luck to ’em. Do you get it Joe?

    Love the ☮ pic with BamBam – he’s sooo cool. Wish he played a character on the Destiny.

    Thinking about what Matthew Sturges said about implying rather than showing. Is this why many movies derived from books fail? There’s no mystery when you show people?

    Cheers, Chev

  32. I thought this cloud pic I took kinda looks like the Phoenix, rising from the ashes:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v54/dasNdanger/phoenix.jpg

    Cool, no?

    @ JulieAloha – Dad is part of the problem because he will insist I pay them without a time card. 🙄 I’ve dealt with this poor work ethic on the employees’ part, and poor rule enforcement on bossdad’s part, for 25 years and usually I can take it, but not today. He will complain about the workers and their slackitude to ME, but rarely confronts them about it…so I have to be bad cop, and since I’m female they don’t take me seriously, and it doesn’t help that dad thinks it’s hilarious to ridicule me in front of them (it’s what he does – he IS the love child of Archie Bunker and Ralph Kramden!). What made it worse today is that last night I had left dad with all the info I needed on my desk this morning from each employee, and he was supposed to tell them because – and this is important – I’m going to be out of town Friday, which means I HAVE to do payroll today. Soooo…when I pointed out to him that he ignored my request and didn’t make the guys come to the office in the morning, he – in true form – blamed me for everything.

    I have pretty thick skin, and it’s been a long time since dad has really gotten to me, but today he did. So I just came home, had me a little wine and some dark chocolate, and took a big ol’ nap.

    I feel much better. 🙂

    das

  33. @ Tammy Dixon – Why the hell not??! You want some overtime in there, too?? How’s about some sick pay?

    Oh! That reminds me. This particular employee was calling out sick all winter long – a day here, a day there. He quickly used up all his sick pay and his personal day (6 days). The next time he was ‘out sick’ he – of course – didn’t get paid for it, and was all upset when he found out he didn’t have any more sick days left, even suggesting I was holding a day or two out on him. After that, he was never sick again… hmmmmmm.

    das

  34. @Das

    Hey, sorry about the bad day. Quick question: not Evapco perchance? I did a report on them back in my college days. Just curious. 😉

    Best Wishes,

    Bryan

  35. What ep of Eureka did I miss w/ Kavan Smith?? Or is it tonight’s ep of which y’all speak???

    I must say I love how Eureka and Warehouse 13 are doing that crossover thing… loving it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  36. Wait is Eureka on tonight? What is today?? I am so lost, one day off – spent the morning designing and uploading Christmas cards. Christmas cards you say? Yes Christmas cards. I have to start now to to get them approved to have them ready for Christmas. The fumes from the laundry detergent must be getting to me too, no really what is today?

  37. GAAHHHHH!

    I remember now.. ive been meaning to ask you this for weeks but I keep forgetting.

    Now that Martin Woods busy with both Sherwood and Sanctuary, will he still direct Stargate Revolution?

    Thanks so much,
    Major D. Davis

  38. @Das: Put me down for 40 regular and 20 overtime 😉 Thanks.

    @Kabra: LOL, it’s your day off – Burn Notice day!

  39. Das: 😳 sorry, didn’t mean to get you all riled up again after your nap and chocolate. I hope that you have a fun “out of town” day tomorrow.

  40. @ Deni – Okay…but that means that if you ever run into Heyerdahl at a con, you have to smuggle him to Jersey in your suitcase. 🙂

    das

  41. @ Tammy Dixon – Darlin’, I was just teasing. I did notice that I forgotsies the mandatory winkie face…my bad. 😛 You’re just fine. *smoochies* 🙂

    das

  42. @Das: Deal! You know where to send the check 😉

    @Major Davis: Me too! It was good tonight, wasn’t it?

  43. Hey Joe. Sorry if I ask about the movies too much. I just thought since production is gearing up for season 2.5, you guys would be in contact with the studio and maybe you guys would talk about the movies again. But then again, I’m probably wrong lol.

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