Monday, November 30, 2009


Rob Will Review... on Paragaea

I need more readers like Robert William Berg. With a thousand like him, I could take over the world.

Berg is a freelance writer who reviews everything on his blog, Rob Will Review... (and by everything I mean books, film, music, theater, and tv). I thought that I'd linked earlier in the month to his incredibly insightful review of Here, There & Everywhere, but I appear to have just thanked him for the review on Twitter, and never gotten around to posting the link here. In paragraphs like the following, Berg gets to the heart of what I was trying to do with the novel in a way few reviewers have before him.
Underneath the larksome exterior, however, Roberson’s novel has a rather serious subtext. Although most of the time, Roxanne has a ball traipsing across the universe, she can also be a deeply lonely individual, who has sacrificed the chance at making deep, long-lasting connections with other people in favor of her extraordinary gift. While she usually is able to accept her lonesomeness as a trade-off for the remarkable life she is leading, her solitary existence affects her at unexpected times, and more so as she ages.
Last week, over the Thanksgiving holiday, Berg posted his review of Paragaea: A Planetary Romance, and in the very first paragraph identifies something about the novel that I thought in writing it was perfectly obvious, but which I don't think any other reviewer before him has ever caught (or if they caught it, never mentioned it).

About a third of the way through Chris Roberson’s Paragaea: A Planetary Romance, I realized that I was reading a new spin on L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, though instead of a turn-of-the-century, Kansas farmgirl being swept up in a twister to the magical land of Oz, our heroine is Leena, a Soviet astronaut in the 1960s who–not unlike Farscape’s John Crichton–is sucked into a portal to another world while orbiting Earth and spends the majority of the novel trying to get back home.

Baum's original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was, in fact, one of the proximate inspirations for Paragaea, and along with Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars one of the two novels I read to get myself amped up to write the novel. The fact that our heroine ends up travelling with a giant cat, an artificial being, and a man who seems to have lost his emotional center is no accident.

Ultimately Berg doesn't care for Paragaea as much as he did Here, There & Everywhere, but still has kind words for it. I'm curious to see what he makes of End of the Century, now.


Hollywood vs. New York

It's been a long while since I posted anything from Kirby Ferguson's Goodie Bag. Too long, in fact.

Here's the latest, "Hollywood vs. New York." Or, as it's described in the original post, "Four decades of celluloid New York annihilation distilled into one musical montage."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009



Heading out any second now for the airport, to fly to Oklahoma to spend Thanksgiving with some of Allison's relatives. Every time I hear the word "Thanksgiving," I think about this song by Poi Dog Pondering, written by their guitarist Adam Sultan. It neatly sums up my feelings about missteps and mistakes, and why I don't regret any of the past unpleasantness that's brought me to where I am now.

You can listen to the song online, or just check out the lyrics below.
Somehow I find myself far out of line
from the ones I had drawn
Wasn't the best of paths, you could attest to that,
but I'm keeping on.
Would our paths cross if every great loss
had turned out our gain?
Would our paths cross if the pain it had cost us
was paid in vain?

There was no pot of gold, hardly a rainbow
lighting my way
But I will be true to the red, black and blues
that colored those days.

I owe my soul to each fork in the road,
each misleading sign.
'Cause even in solitude, no bitter attitude
can dissolve my sweetest find

Thanksgiving for every wrong move that made it right
Have a great turkey day, everybody!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


The Muppets' "Bohemian Rhapsody"

This has appeared just about everywhere in the last couple of hours, but I think I first saw it on the Muppet Newsflash. It starts a little slow, and then it really takes off. Stick with it.


Super Turkey, Redux

And if you're curious what a Super Turkey looks like... he looks like this.


Super Turkey

If you have three minutes to spare and want to watch the cutest kid on the planet and her classmates perform a song about a "Super Turkey," have I got the YouTube video for you...

In case you don't recognize her, Georgia is the very excited girl in the glasses front row center.


Adam Rex's Portrait of Andre the Giant as Fezzik

Yesterday I posted Ben Balistreri's contribution to the "Hey You Guys!" charity event. And today, here's Adam Rex's contribution. Here's how Adam describes it:
The second annual Hey You Guys charity event is set for December 5th at the Rialto Theater in South Pasedena, CA. There will be an auction of art inspired by family movies of the 80's, and a screening of Ghostbusters. All proceeds benefit Donors Choose, which is incidentally the charity for which I've been growing this damn mustache. So I've painted a little 5x7 portrait of Andre the Giant as Fezzik from The Princess Bride.
And here it is:

What's terrific about it is that I can hear Andre the Giant saying "Sportsmanlike" just by looking at it. (If you're not sure what Rex means about "this damn mustache," he's growing one for charity, as he did last year. Check out the progress over on his blog. And if you haven't picked up Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, Frankenstein Takes the Cake, The True Meaning of Smekday, Psst, Tree Ring Circus, or any of the other spectacular books to which Rex has contributed illustrations and/or text, what the heck are you waiting for?!

Monday, November 23, 2009


Ben Balistreri's "80's Movie Villain Cocktail Party"

I've raved about Ben Balistreri before (formerly the character design supervisor on Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends and a character designer and storyboard arist on Danny Phantom, another series I've talked about before), and this weekend over on his blog he shared another gem. Here's how he describes it.
Here's a piece I did for the "Hey You Guys! Charity event December 5th at the Rialto Theater in Pasadena. Josh Pruett, (a killer story artist at DreamWorks) is putting the event together and it looks like it's going to be awesome. The theme is movies that inspired you as a kid, and they'll be screening a print of Ghostbusters! The art will all be auctioned off for Donors This will go towards supplying needy classrooms with art supplies. You can go to the official site by clicking the link below. There will also be an opportunity to bid online if you can't make it to the event.
Now, behold!

Friday, November 20, 2009


Dino D-Day

(via) I'm already breaking my No Video Games In The House rule to research City of Heroes (about which more later, I'm sure), and now this trailer for a Half Life 2 mod seriously tempts me to continuing violating the rule.


2001: A Who Odyssey

Oh, internets, I love you.

Well done, TardisTimegirl. Well done.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Pixar's "George & A.J."

Josh Cooley, story artist at Pixar, has done a nifty little 2D short film featuring two minor characters from Up, and to promote the DVD & Blue-ray of the flick Pixar has posted it to their Facebook page.

For those who might claim that Pixar's success is due to the budgets they spend on their features and shorts, witness the evidence to the contrary. With very limited animation (somewhere in the range of an animatic, only a couple of steps up from storyboards), Cooley manages to pack a lot of humor and genuine laughs into the four-minute short.

(If you don't mind autoplay, here's a direct link to a larger version.) on End of the Century

There doesn't seem to be an attribution on the post, so I'm not sure the name of the reviewer, but the site has posted a review of End of the Century which I thought was very complimentary.
All three stories proceed to their inevitable, intertwined conclusion. What do visions centuries apart have to do with a killer at the turn of the twentieth century? It all has to do with the Holy Grail, the Chinese Triad, a possibly alien billionaire, a jewel heist, parallel dimensions, World War II, time travel, an omnipotent artificial intelligence, and the end of the universe. It’s as if Roberson threw a bunch of cool ideas into a bag and plucked them out, one by one, weaving them skillfully into his story. And at the end, it all makes sense. Mysteries are revealed, characters find redemption, and the day is saved—for now, at least. Readers will be satisfied and eager for more adventures involving these unusual heroes. They also will learn more about English history here, and enjoy it a lot more, than they will in any dry textbook.


A Message from the Future

(via) This probably doesn't need any explanation, so I won't provide any.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Lucy Knisley's "Downloading Optimism"

Lucy Knisley neatly sums up own my reaction to reading not only the dire predictions of Ware, Barry, Groenig, and Fieffer the other day, but hearing any number of "publishing is doomed" diatribes in the prose world in recent months.

I'm reminded of something John Scalzi said that I quoted a few years ago. I think it's as true of cartoonists and comics folks as it is of novelists.
"Listen to me now: Writers are not in the publishing industry. The publishing industry exists to handle the output of writers and distribute it in an effective and hopefully profitable way; however it does not necessarily follow that writer's only option is the publishing industry, especially not now. Congruent to this: Books aren't the only option. I write books, but you know what? I'm not a book writer, any more than a musician is an LP musician or an MP3 musician. The book is the container. It's not destiny. "

Monday, November 16, 2009


Announcing The Art Show by Georgia

Having resisted the urge to just turn over this blog to posts of my daughter Georgia's drawings as long as I am able, I've decided to set her up with her own art blog (which she has titled herself).

We're proud to announce The Art Show by Georgia!


We've Got Some Work To Do Now

Hey, do you remember a couple of months ago when I raved about a new design by Travis Pitts for Threadless? And exhorted all of you to go and vote?

Well, good job, people! The votes were cast, and the shirt is now available.

I've already ordered mine (well, I actually ordered two, expecting that I'll be wearing the first one out pretty quickly). So get over there and order yours quick, before they sell out!


War Rocket Ajax Episode 13 – Spies Like Us

The good folks over at War Rocket Ajax have posted the podcast interview they did we me the other day. You can either listen at the site, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience (mp3 link). We talk about Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love, iZombie, my novels that are full of gayness, my love for Matt Wagner's Mage, and more. Check it out, won't you?

BTW, the stuff with me yammering starts at about 31:00 in.

Friday, November 13, 2009


The Society of Unordinary Young Ladies

I have Whitney Matheson of USA Today's Pop Candy to thank for pointing out this particular gem. Thanks, Whitney!

If you like mash-ups, or spy-fiction, or 80's sitcoms, or things that are 100% Completely Awesome, then have I got a treat for you.

Written by Wahab Algarmi and with art by "D.Y.", Jayce G. Wah, and Joel Sigua, The Society of Unordinary Young Ladies may be the most amazing thing I've seen all year. It's also completely actionable, and violates more trademarks and copyrights than I can count. But really, that's part of its charm.

Here's the basic idea. In the 1980s, at the height of the Cold War, a secret branch of the US government recruits and trains teenage girls to act as operatives. They are sent on secret missions behind enemy lines, in highly dangerous situations, but the girls are all expendable and the operations are blanketed with plausible deniability.

The twist? All of the characters are from 1980s sitcoms. In the first issue, spymaster Edna Garrett sends Natalie, Jo, Blair, and Tootie on a deadly mission, after informing them that the agent of the Meposian government, Agent Bartakamos, has already failed in the same attempt (and "Alpha Team," sent by the US government in response, has not been heard from since). General Richard Stratton III arrives with his mysterious assistants Charles and Buddy, and... Well, things get wacky from there.

What's great about the book is that it functions as a perfectly-structured spy story even if you catch all of the references. And even if you don't catch all of the references. And if you think you have caught all of the references, you probably haven't. (This is a series that is screaming out for someone to come along and do a Jess Nevins on it. Jen Heddle, you up for the task?)

The second issue sees a new wave of agents introduced, as General Stratton takes the reins of the Society away from Mrs. Garrett and puts his own assistant in command. That's right, as of now Charles is in Charge. And with the introduction of a spunky (one might even say "punky") little convinct and a teenage alien held prisoner by the US government, things start to really tick over quickly.

The third issue just went online the other day, and to say too much about it would run the risk of spoiling lots of terrific surprises. Let's just say that when the strangely morbid little proto-goth girl is taken to trial for murder, I didn't expect that she would show up in that particular court.

I really hope that some comic publisher notices this stuff and gives Algarmi a regular gig (and that they notice before a host of IP-infringement lawsuits land on his doorstep). He's a terrifically talented writer, and if The Society of Unordinary Young Ladies is any indication, he has a keen and clever imagination. The art in each of the three issues to date is by different people, but all have been terrific to date. I think my favorite so far may be the work of Joel Sigua, which matches the tone of Algarmi's script to a tee, but the work in the first two issues comes in a close second.

So far, hard copies of the issues have only been available at Algarmi's convention appearances and at local comic shops in the Bay Area, but he's thoughtfully put the full interiors and covers of all three up on his website. I'll warn you that Algarmi's website is pretty horrible in layout and functionality (that's why I've linked to each of the individual issues above, to save you the heartache of looking), but the work is good enough that I don't mind. (NOTE TO ALGARMI: Blogspot, Wordpress, etc. are free, and are easy to use. Look into them.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009


An Open Letter

Dear internets,

I'm sorry for the mostly-silent running the last week or two. Since returning from World Fantasy Convention, I've been up to my neck in new, super-cool, and super-seekret projects. All of them are huge fun, and promise to be completely awesome, but sadly I'm not able to talk about them for another couple of months, looks like. (I can tell you that for the last week I have been reading comics & novels, poring over game manuals, and playing MMORPGs--all for work.)

I promise to be more communicative as soon as I can be. In the meantime, and in honor of Sesame Street's 40th anniversary, here's the song that's been stuck in my head since yesterday, when Georgia and I started in our our new DVD set, 40 Years of Sunny Days, which no home should be without.

I thank you, and good night.

Some Dude

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Seth MacFarlane's Secret

(via) I stopped watching any of Seth McFarlane's shows awhile back, but this seems pretty on the money to me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Tom Corbett, Space Cadet

Before Spock and Kirk, before Starbuck and Apollo, there was Tom Corbett and his fellow Space Cadets. Premiering on television in 1950, Space Cadet Corbett went on to appear on radio, in books, comics, and just about every other medium available at the time. Inspired by Robert Heinlein's juveniles, and with scientific adviser Willy Ley on staff, the series was a cut-above much of the competition, which may be part of the reason for its success. (So successful was it that the term "space cadet" entered the popular lexicon, albeit with a somewhat different meaning.) But nothing golden can stay, and in 1955 the show went off the air, and the character gradually disappeared from the popular consciousness.

But nothing is lost forever.

A while back my online-pal Bill Spangler sent me a preview copy of the first issue of a new Tom Corbett, Space Cadet comic, published by Blue Water. I've been meaning to read it ever since, but been so swamped with work that I've only now had the chance today, a month after the first issue hit the stands, the day before issue two is due out.

I'm glad that I did.

Spangler is no stranger to the work of the Solar Guard. In addition to working with the Alien Nation and Robotech franchises in comics, he previously scripted another comic adaptation of Tom Corbett, Space Cadet in 1990. What he brings to this latest version is a clear affinity for the material, and a solid handle on the characters and the world they inhabit. But this is no slavish continuation of decades' old material, aimed solely at the original graying audience. This new Blue Water version is a fresh take on the concept, as accessible to readers unfamiliar with Tom Corbett as it is to long-time fans.

There are too few "pure quill" science fiction stories for kids out there these days, in any medium--or at least, too few that focus on the "man in space" angle that dominated children's science fiction for much of the last century. And while this new comic isn't specifically aimed at young readers, it's clearly an All Ages affair, as appropriate for a ten-year-old as it is for a pudgy middle aged dude like me. The art by John DaCosta has a pleasant contemporary feel, while at the same time capturing all of the spaceship-and-spacesuit stuff that long-time fans would expect.

If you're a fan of Heinlein juveniles, or old-school space fiction, you could do far worse than to check out the new series. And if there's a young reader in your life, consider passing a copy along to them. This just might be the introduction they'd need to the kind of science fiction that many of us grew up on.

Monday, November 09, 2009


Will Hoffman's "Moments"

(via) This? This is good.
Radiolab presents: Moments by Will Hoffman. This films is a celebration of life that was inspired by David Eagleman's book, Sum.

I have this idea of what I'd like the afterlife to be like, if there could be such a thing. I think I've stolen this from something that Alan Moore said, but I can't remember where he said it. Basically, the idea is this: Once something has happened, it has always happened. It exists not just as an event, but as a physical point in spacetime, separated from us by the fourth-dimension (Time) but existing forever somewhere on the hypersphere of the universe. When we die, so the thinking goes, perhaps we can move our consciousness back and forth along our path through spacetime, visiting and revisiting any moment in our own personal history. This is why it's important for us to live as well as we can, to treat others as thoughtfully as possible, to seek whatever joys and happinesses that present themselves to us. If this life is all that there is, but we are allowed to revisit it as many times as we like, we make our own paradise, one moment at a time. I think about this often, usually on weekends when Allison and Georgia and I get to do all of the things we like most to do in life. And I often find myself pausing in the midst of a perfect Saturday afternoon, thinking "If I can have only one day forever, if I'm forced like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day to repeat twenty-four hours again and again, this would be a day I would choose." My goal is to make every day that day, but managing one or two days out of seven doesn't seem a bad average, all things considered.

Hoffman's video made me think of that, of my own personal vision of an afterlife. (Not the afterlife, but an afterlife--I don't lay any claim to special insight.) Got a little misty by the end, I'll admit.


Now Available

Sorry I've been running silent, internets. After returning home from World Fantasy last week, I had a stack of stuff to clear off my desk, followed closely by all kinds of interesting news popping up in my inbox. (When the Big News about my next comics project comes out in the next month or so, remember that last Friday was the day that it became official. Many bottles of Hoegaarden were emptied here at MonkeyBrain World Headquarters as a result.)

So busy have I been that I've completely failed to mention the fact that I've got new comics and stories out. Last Wednesday saw the release of Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love #1, which has so far been fairly well received by critics and fans, if the online response is any indication.

Also out right about now (at least to subscribers, who have begun receiving the next issue by mail) is the January 2010 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction, which contains my story "Wonder House." This is the latest Celestial Empire story, and probably the last one I'll be writing for a while (I need a bit of a break from the CE, to be honest, having done three novels and a couple of dozen short stories in the world over the course of the last few years). It was originally written to be published in Hebrew as an "extra" in the Graff Publishing edition of The Dragon's Nine Sons in Israel earlier this year, but this is the story's first appearance in English. It's a little bit of a departure for a Celestial Empire story, and is probably a good indicator of what future Celestial Empire stories will be like, if and when I return to the world.

I've also learned the revised schedule for the US publication of Book of Secrets, and it looks like the book should now be hitting shelves in September 2010.

So how about you nice people? How was your weekend?

Friday, November 06, 2009


I Love Lunch!

In the grand tradition of "Food Court Musical" and "Grocery Store Musical", here's Improv Everywhere's latest public musical offering, "I Love Lunch!"

I love the fact that I live in a world where this kind of thing exists. Hours of planning and preparation must go into each of these, but think about all of the people blindsided by a full blown musical number breaking out right in front of them. I doubt they can stop smiling for the rest of the day.

And with that, I'm off to eat my lunch.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


Disney's "Prep & Landing"

Cartoon Brew points out the following teaser, for Disney's (and perhaps Pixar's?) forthcoming X-mas special, "Prep & Landing." Nothing terribly trangressive here, but I do like the idea of Santa's elves with superspy technology.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Home Again

I'm home again, at long last. World Fantasy Convention was, as always, the happiest four days on Earth, a kind of calendrical Disneyland. I got to see a lot of old friends and acquaintances, met loads of cool and interesting new people, and had a couple of conversations that helped me decide at long last just what kind of writer it is I want to be. (And many of the attendees learned what I have known about my wife Allison Baker for a while now: she can mix a mean cocktail.)

I calculated at one point that there were somewhere around 15 people at WFC this year for the first time because I browbeat them into going. And at least a handful of first time attendees who will be there in Columbus next year (they may have agreed just to get me to shut up about it, but I'm still counting it). If you haven't been to WFC yet (and definitely if you have any aspirations of becoming a writer of prose fantasy) then you need to join us next year. Seriously. I'll introduce you to everyone.

While we were away, Georgia spent the Halloween weekend with my family in the Dallas area, which lead to the following scene. This is Georgia, three cousins, an aunt, and a grandfather being filmed by my mother. Warning: the cuteness here is almost unbearable.

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