Wednesday is Comic Book Day and, occasionally, Graphic Novel Day as well, depending on my mood.  This afternoon, for instance, I was in the mood for a little diversity so, in addition to the latest issues of the ongoing titles I’m currently following (Uncanny X-Force, Detective Comics, Red Lanterns, Aquaman, Thunderbolts, The Punisher, and Penguin: Pride and Prejudice), I picked up a few trade paperbacks that caught my interest:

DAYTRIPPER by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba

“DAYTRIPPER follows the life of one man, Bras de Olivias Dominguez. Every chapter features an important period in Bras’ life in exotic Brazil, and each story ends the same way: with his death. And then, the following story starts up at a different point in his life, oblivious to his death in the previous issue – and then also ends with him dying again. In every chapter, Bras dies at different moments in his life, as the story follows him through his entire existence – one filled with possibilities of happiness and sorrow, good and bad, love and loneliness. Each issue rediscovers the many varieties of daily life, in a story about living life to its fullest – because any of us can die at any moment.”

AMERICAN VAMPIRE by Scott Snyder, Stephen King and Rafael Albuquereque

“This volume follows two stories: one written by Scott Snyder and one written by Stephen King. Snyder’s story is set in 1920’s LA, we follow Pearl, a young woman who is turned into a vampire and sets out on a path of righteous revenge against the European Vampires who tortured and abused her. This story is paired with King’s story, a western about Skinner Sweet, the original American Vampire– a stronger, faster creature than any vampire ever seen before with rattlesnake fangs and powered by the sun.”

RED WING by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra

“To stay alive in the future, the best fighter pilots in the world not only have to perfect their skills and master their aircraft, they also have to know how to travel through time!”

BATGIRL RISING, by Bryan Q. Miller, Phil Noto and Cully Hamner

” Stephanie Brown, the vigilante formerly known as The Spoiler and Robin has taken on the identity of Batgirl as she begins her nocturnal crusade to take back the night from the underworld. Now she has become the target of both Gotham City’s heroes (who don’t take kindly to a new person wearing the cape and the cowl) and its villains (who want to see the entire Bat-family six feet under.”

The latter is, of course, this month’s Book of the Month Club selection. Discussion begins next week so pick it up and read it.  Or, if you’re unable to get your hands on a copy at your local comic store, get the DC Comics app and download it (actually, the first six issues of Bryan Q. Miller’s run) to your iPhone or iPad.

Seven days to the release of Dark Matter #1, the first issue of my new SF comic book series!  Today, my editor at Dark Horse, Patrick Thorpe, forwarded me my very first reader query for the letters page (Dark Matters).  Not sure how this fellow got his hot little hands on an advance copy (all the way over in Trinidad and Tobago no less!) but I’m pleased to report he actually liked what he read, concluding his letter with a question that I’ve avoided answering time and again over the course of the dozen or so interviews I’ve already done for the series: What influenced Dark Matter?  Well, the reason I’ve been consistently avoiding that question is because I fear it might give away the big second issue reveal, the revelation that establishes the series’ premise and drives our heroes headlong into a chaotic race for survival…and more answers.  Fortunately, by the time this particular letter appears in print, all will have been revealed, so I can go ahead and inform him that I was inspired by the combined influences of a comic book, an old genre series, a cable series, a classic film, the remake of the same film, and a movie from the 70’s.

Hey, you know what one of my biggest pet peeves is?  Bigger than theater-talkers, name-droppers, slow drivers in the fast lane, or those who use the term “addicting” rather than “addictive”?  Coincidence! Specifically, coincidence in film, television, and prose fiction.  It’s just lazy writing, a shortcut to cheap tension or convenient dramatic developments.  In certain circumstances, coincidence can be a perfectly acceptable narrative device – on those occasions, for instance, when it works against the protagonist, complicating matters and making things more difficult for them rather than making things easier in the way of providing key information or allowing them to get out of jam. Narrative contrivances aren’t interesting.  They just suggest a writer who has given up trying.

I’m exhausted.  And I hardly did anything today!  As opposed to Akemi who found time to get her hair done AND liven up simple salami and cucumber with a Christmas twist:

25 thoughts on “January 4, 2012: Graphic Novel Day! Dark Matter Mailbag! A Pet Peeve!

  1. Maximus doesn’t really appreciate time passing. Dogs live in the now. If the now is here only because the owner can’t bear to let go, or worries about guilt, or worries about what others think, then damned right they won’t “know” when it’s time. I have seen people let it go til the dogs were in horrible pain and suffering. I have seen people who could not bear the drawn out process and let them go much earlier than I would. I’ll give my vote to the latter. I don’t want to suffer before I die. I don’t want my dogs to suffer. If they suffer because there is a chance you actually can cure them, or short term because it can buy a significant amt of time, that is one thing. But I don’t want to suffer and I’ll choose losing them earlier rather than later every time. Your dog makes it hard because while stopping eating is a PRIME sign of being ready, and not having nutrition makes animals feel horrible (including humans), because of his mouth it may not be that he doesn’t WANT to eat but can’t. If you can pack some nutrition into the water, even in the form of karo syrup, that helps. But honest, nothing about you has ever indicated that you won’t make the call based on what you think is best for him. Doesn’t help the heart ache of losing them, but you get to sleep at night knowing you stood up for him.

  2. “Amid the quiet misery there are flashes of tail-wagging happiness that give me pause.”

    I haven’t said anything before, but back in September the cat of a friend of mine was diagnosed with the same cancer that Max has. Hickory was 18 years old, and from the time of diagnosis to her passing was only 2 weeks. I told my friend of another friend of mine that lost her cat, Martini, last year. When she knew the time was close, basically from erratic breathing, she put a blanket on her lap and stayed with her through her last moments. My friend did the same, and Hickory’s was a peaceful passing.

    I was very worried that you might not be coming home with Max. But he is so strong. For me the question is, where do you want him to be when the time comes. My hope for Max and you is that there be a way to ease his misery and allow him to pass at home.

    But also I know that may not be the right decision for Max. Big {{HUGS}} to all of the Mallozzi clan.

  3. Joe, you don’t need to be reading comic books today. You need to be finishing Season 4 of Breaking Bad. I just watched the ep 4.13. For the love of God, please get to it soon and share your thoughts! In the meantime, I’ll be needing to double up my meds until further notice. 😉

    Holding good thoughts for Maximus and Dark Matter as well!

  4. Coincidence? Like…give me an example.

    Are you talking about the sort that happens in one of my favorite movies, Gaslight? In that film, you could say that it’s a coincidence that years earlier the murdered woman gave one of her gloves to a young boy who has now grown up to be a detective keeping an eye on the murdered woman’s niece who just happens to be married (unbeknownst to her) to the man who murdered her aunt. Or do you mean something else? Can you cite an example?

    I am exhausted! Unlike you, Joe, I did a LOT today. After regular morning chores (breakfast, dishes, beds, etc), I wrote up several cards (thank yous and thinking of yous), went to the post office and mailed them along with two gifts (one for my sister, and one for a friend), then came home, searched for a good cauliflower soup recipe, went shopping, came home and made the soup (it was delish!), fed cats, cleaned up dishes (seems I am ALWAYS doing that), then (around 7pm) tackled the final phase of my end of the year filing which consisted of taking all the 2011 stuff out of our personal and business file boxes for the current year and filing them in the file cabinet in the garage, separating out anything I need for taxes in the process. I just got done about a half hour ago, and I am POOPED!

    Well, mentally pooped. I seem to be physically wide awake. 😛

    I also have horribly chapped, bloodied hands from the sudden cold snap we had (Saturday it was near 60, but the last two days it’s gone down into the teens). I just looked outside, and it’s snowing. This weekend it’s supposed to be back up to the 50s. We’ve had very strange weather this winter.

    Okie dokie, gonna try to get some sleep. Have a good night, sir!


  5. I am a little late with this, but I wanted to say thank you to your mom, sister, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, mom’s dogs and anybody else that let you share their photos on the blog. It is always fun to see them all and a little slice of life where you grew up.

  6. Nothing exciting here, except a SWAT team a block away and a shoot out kitty-corner through the church parking lot, six cops in the hospital, suspect dead (as last reported). I was in the basement watching TV, didn’t hear a thing.

    And my BRCA1/BRCA2 gene mutation test came back negative. Huzzah! I was in a research group and my insurance sprang for the testing after all.

  7. You know who practices the opposite of contrivance? J.J. Abrams. He’s a craftsman. He handles plot-lines that just beg for contrivance, but he busts his behind and crafts that story until it’s something special. I hope he doesn’t get too rich to keep crafting.

    I’m assuming he’s busting his behind. Could he just be that talented? I’m thinking to how he got the band back together in Star Trek 2009. It wasn’t just – hey, you guys are all top notch, you guys all go on the Enterprise. U’hura busted Spock’s chops over it. Kirk and McCoy pulled some crap to get Kirk on.

    Okay, well, by the time Scott gets on, we’re writhing in coincidence, but getting a band that big back together is a plot-line that almost demands contrivance. I don’t think many writers could get us that far into that story before we complain, “oh yeah, like future Spock will just HAPPEN to be in that cave to save Kirk”.

  8. My husband was just complaining about a contrivance in a Busytown Mysteries episode. “Oh, yeah, like they’re going to let a complete moron drive a gas truck.” He filled a tank with bubble bath.

    But that makes things harder for Huckle Cat. If it wasn’t unlikely someone would let a moron drive a gas truck or that much bubble bath would exist, figuring out why the cars in town were making bubbles would be too easy. How could he know someone was planning a bubble bath pool party except by solving the mystery? (Someone who doesn’t mind if all the earthworms in town die from soap exposure.)

    My husband’s still complaining. He’s incensed that Sally Cat didn’t know the difference between an egg and a ball. He just told the four year old she’s too smart for the show. My husband’s adding to Sally Cat’s dialogue with, “Duuuh-uh-uuuuh.”

    If Sally Cat wasn’t so afflicted with limited intelligence, she would have too easy of a time helping the hatched duckling find its nest. Oh, and they book-ended the episode. They found another “egg”, the ball they lost. Fine writing, if you ask me.

  9. Oh, how I remember the verbal beat-down you gave me when I used the word “addicting” in the writer’s room. Cried myself to sleep for weeks.

  10. There is something that peeves me more than coincidence in storytelling (which, I agree, is definitely on my top-5 list of annoyances in entertainment) – the lifelong conspiracy. Such as finding out that the detective in this super-secret squad is actually the son of the guy they’ve been finding the whole time (HE HAD NO IDEA) and he was just destined to fight it! Or everybody he’s known his entire life has fought to put him on this path! Or something like that.

  11. @ Carl – No need for a tearful sleep!

    When to Use Addictive
    If you want to be safe, stick with “Television is addictive.” Addictive is an adjective, meaning it describes the noun. Remember Schoolhouse Rock? “He was a scary bear. He was a hairy bear. And we described him with adjectives.” Hairy, scary, and addictive are adjectives. Schoolhouse Rock was addictive TV.

    Now, there are definitely people who argue that addicting isn’t a word. They say that addict is a noun, not a verb. However, I did the simple thing: I looked it up, and two out of four dictionaries included addicting—and for those of you who care, one listed it as a transitive verb (1) and the other listed it as a participle adjective (2). A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object. An example could be Amy was addicting Steve to Scrabble®. Steve is the direct object of the verb addicting—he’s the receiver of the action.

    When to Use Addicting
    Addicting is the participle adjective of the verb to addict, just as annoying is the participle adjective of the verb to annoy. I don’t think anyone would say that you can’t describe someone as annoying, and similarly it is OK to describe TV as addicting.

    A quick tip is that you can generally tell whether a word ending with -ing is a verb or a participle adjective by testing whether you can add a modifier such as very in front of it. If you can’t, then it is a verb; if you can, then it is a participle adjective. In the sentence Television is addicting, it would be fine to add very and say, “Television is very addicting,” so that means it is probably a participle adjective in this case.

    So I hope it’s clear that it is correct to say both that television is addictive and that television is addicting. Nevertheless, there seems to be a lot of confusion in the world—and a lot of strong opinions—about this topic, so if you have a blog and you want to avoid a flame war, my advice is to stick with addictive.

    From here: (search for addicting/addictive)

    In other words, Joey isn’t always right. 😉


  12. @Carl – I didn’t realize what you were dealing with in the writer’s room all that time. Don’t let Joe’s treatment become a script in your head – you deserve better. (I mean don’t let it become a script in that way advice-givers speak to the abused. If you can do it literally and make money off it, that would frost Joe’s cupcake.)

  13. One of the words I hear morphing in this region is Dialogue. I’ve heard it used as a verb and adverb. I always thought that the word dialogue was a noun. I started noticing it changing when I listened to an ethnic radio station that my co-worker had on during the day. Now I’m hearing it as a verb/adverb at least once a week, even on the TV news stations.

  14. Joe, have you watched Lou Diamond Philips on the new cooking show/challange Rachael vs. Guy on Food Network? Ray said in an interview on that “Lou Diamond Phillips, if he owned his own restaurant tomorrow, I would go there and lay down my money..”

    Judging by the first episode, he’s pretty skilled, but of course you already knew that.

  15. @ DP: I do love me some JJ Abrams; just finished watching Person of Interest (got hooked at the rec of two of my sisters) and I loved Super 8, Alias, Felicity, et al. But as I watched Star Trek last night I still felt lingering anger over the Very Big Plot Hole in ST 2009: The 25 year gap between the attack on the Kelvin and the attack on Vulcan. So Nero just hung around, for 25 years?! Grrr. And the “Nero was in Klingon prison” thing in the deleted scenes was an even more annoying plot hole because it would have made Nero look like a wuss to be defeated so easily by Klingons. The movie is still terrific but they should have thought of a cleverer way to deal with that time gap. And yes, this is the dorkiest paragraph I’ve ever written.

    Hope you’ll like American Vampire, I liked it very much. I’m going to start The Road soon, it’s yet another of the books that were stuffed into my spare closet. Turns out I never have to go to a bookstore again; I’ve already bought tons of great books, just have to find where I’ve hidden them all.

  16. @ Fred – That was a great link! It gave me a few ideas, and I really like that heart-shaped egg. I think I’ll try that (amongst other things on that page). Thanks!

    @ Deni – I dunno, Deni. Joey does have that gigolo thing going on. And remember when he wanted to be an international playboy? Hmmmm…maybe he’s a combination of both – a trampster. 😀


  17. My pet peeve is people using “I can’t stand people that….” instead of “I can’t stand people who.” At least for sure the top 10 of my pet peeves of language. Then there are the 10 pet peeves of driving.

    Poor Carl. I hope you won’t need therapy.

  18. Hi Joe,

    Not sure this would be your cup of tea…but I’ve been working my way through NCIS. I’m currently working through the sixth season.

    It’s a bit formulaic at times, but I find it enjoyable nonetheless.

    Still looking forward to the release of Dark Matter…I’m going to try to get the digital version for my Android Tablet. Can’t wait.

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