• Uncategorized

    Star Wars: Myths & Fables

    Last night I finished reading Star Wars: Myths & Fables, written by my old pal George Mann and illustrated by Grant Griffin, which turns out to be the Star Wars book I’ve been waiting for my whole life without realizing it, and it was well worth the wait.

    As the title implies, this is a collection of short stories that all function as fairy tales, myths, and fables, set in the Star Wars universe. But the clever twist here is that these are stories as they would be told in the world of Star Wars. As in, these are tales that might be read to children on Tatooine at bed time, or shared in the cockpit of a longhaul freighter. And by telling the stories from the perspective of people in that world with a sometimes incomplete understanding of the context and details of what’s happening, it takes Star Wars away from the science fictional trappings that it usually wears and back to its fantasy and fairy tale roots. There are no Jedi knights with lightsabers here, only mysterious wanderers in brown robes with swords that seem to glow with an inner light. Familiar villains make an appearance, but here transformed into mysterious menacing figures in cautionary tales to keep the unruly in line. There are dragons, and witches, and pirates, and youngest siblings off on quests, but it’s all Star Wars, and it all works perfectly.

    I found the book shelved in the kids’ section at Powell’s Books, but it really is “All Ages” in the purest sense of the term, as I think this would appeal equally to young readers as to adults. Any Star Wars fan interested in seeing a little more fantasy than space in their space fantasy should consider checking it out.

  • Uncategorized

    It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage

    Thirty-eight years ago today saw the debut of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I’ve been on a serious Indiana Jones kick since returning from Walt Disney World a couple of months ago, and after rewatching all of the movies (and starting in on the Young Indiana Jones made-for-tv movies, the Rob MacGregor novels, the Marvel comics, etc., et al.), I realized that character in his various outing and incarnations had a bigger influence on my tastes and interests, both in terms of what kind of stories I like to read and watch and what kinds of stories I like to tell, than any other single piece of media. As much as I loved Star Wars and Star Trek, Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes, Tarzan and Doc Savage, or any one of a hundred other great shows, movies, and comics, there’s probably more Indiana Jones DNA in my makeup than any other fictional character or imaginary world. It probably helped that I was exactly the right age for Raiders when it was released–I was two months away from my eleventh birthday, my mental cement still wet enough that I was very impressionable–but there are elements borrowed from that first movie that crop up in virtually everything that I write, whether consciously or not.

    It’s only been a month or so since I rewatched it last, but I think I might need to pop in the Blu-ray and fire up Raiders again tonight, in honor of the occasion. Or maybe I’ll just queue up the John Williams soundtrack as I put some time into my current work-in-progress, which definitely has more than a little Indiana Jones-inspired elements in the mix…

  • Uncategorized

    Good Omens

    Good Omens is one of my favorite novels. I bought it the day it was released in the US in hardcover, and have probably read it a half-dozen times in the three decades since. (It’s probably my favorite thing that Neil Gaiman has ever written, and in my top five favorite Terry Pratchett works.) But despite the rumblings about possible film adaptations going back all the way to the beginning, I never had much confidence that it could be successfully adapted into a different medium. Thankfully, I was wrong. Very wrong, as it turns out. Because the six-part miniseries that was released on Amazon Prime the week before last satisfied in every conceivable way. The scripts by Neil Gaiman captured the tone and wit of the novel perfectly, and the direction by Douglas Mackinnon never missed a step. The score by David Arnold was note perfect, and the animated opening titles were fantastic. Everyone in the cast turned in stellar performances, but in particular Michael Sheen and David Tennant as the angel and demon who have hung around on Earth so long that they’ve gone native. I would happily watch another full season of those two characters just hanging out, sharing meals and bottles of wine, reminiscing about the old days.
  • Uncategorized

    Hellboy Day!

    It’s incredibly humbling to see my illegible signature scrawled alongside so many others who have helped make Mike Mignola’s Hellboy and the related spinoffs one of the most significant bodies of work in the history of comics. Happy 25th Anniversary!

  • Uncategorized

    Carmen Sandiego


    I didn’t know that I needed a cartoon reboot of Carmen Sandiego in my life, but it turns out I absolutely do.

    I never came across the early Carmen Sandiego computer games in the 80s, but I was in college when the PBS series Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? debuted in 1991 and I have vivid memories of watching it in my dorm every day after class. I was only vaguely aware of the various cartoon spinoffs and subsequent computer games that followed throughout the 90s, and never had any great sentimental attachment to the character. So I greeted the news of a new cartoon series on Netflix with mild curiosity at best. The early teasers I saw looked interesting, and I liked the look of the character designs, but I didn’t have terribly high expectations going in.

    This week my kid and I watched all nine episodes of the first season of Carmen Sandiego, and it has quickly shot to the top of our list of Most Awesome Animated Shows. With Gina Rodriguez voicing the titular character and Finn Wolfhard voicing her hacker pal Player, the new series reimagines Carmen Sandiego as a kind of globe-trotting Robin Hood, stealing historical treasures back from the villainous V.I.L.E. and returning them to their rightful owners, all while keeping ahead of the superspies of ACME who are hot on her heels. The character designs by Chromosphere’s Kevin Dart (whose work I raved about on my blog ages ago) are gorgeous, the animation by DHX Media is fluid and lively, and the music by Lorenzo Castelli and Steve D’Angelo is note perfect. It is a jet-setting superspy thriller with great action and genuine laughs, and with a healthy dose of educational content in every episode.

    Since watching the series I’ve acquainted myself with the backstory and lore established through the various game shows, computer games, and cartoon spinoffs, and was surprised to learn just how much the new series draws from the earlier iterations, including the return of Rita Moreno (who voiced the character in the first cartoon adaptation in the early 90s) in a key cameo role. In terms of cartoon reboots, this is on par with the new DuckTales series in terms of creating something that feels fresh, new, and relevant while being constructed almost entirely out of elements that had already been established in earlier versions of the franchise. It’s a fantastic piece of work, and we can’t wait to see the second season!