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September – Rambling Around the Web

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ajp-comicpgSomething a little different this month. Instead of an update of various writing topics, I thought it was about time I did an updated collection of notes about where you can find me online.

I’m doing a lot of business related writing at the moment, particularly around the subjects of Content Strategy, Content Marketing, and Customer Experience. You can find new blog posts weekly at the OpenText Blog, as well as a new monthly column at CMS Wire. I’m also re-posting selected blogs on LinkedIn and The Content Pool website. If social media is more your style I post links to most of the articles on @TheContentPool Twitter account, and on The Content Pool Facebook page.

Several of my pop-culture projects have their own dedicated sites online.

  • Batman – Check out the ongoing history of Batman publications at “Batman on the Cover” on Tumblr, or Instagram.
  • James Bond – For updates on the progress of the James Bond Lexicon, general Bond news, and a weekly Bond Trivia quiz follow the BondLexicon Twitter account; of follow us on Tumblr for Bond related artwork.
  • U.N.C.L.E. – Likewise we have Twitter and Tumblr accounts charting the work underway on the U.N.C.L.E. Lexicon project.
  • Although not directly related to any writing projects I also have a Tumblr account that celebrates my love of plastic model kits, and their box art.

For more general writing news, as well as this website, you can follow my writer’s page on FaceBook, or via my profiles at Amazon or Goodreads.

And for general day-to-day stuff, wacky observations, the occasional bit of news, and to experience my passion for motor-sports, space, history, and many other strange things you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr.

So hope to see you around the web somewhere…

 

 

 

The April Ramble

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Eisner-nominated author sounds good doesn’t it? A few weeks ago I came the closest to that accolade as I’m sure I’ll ever get with the fantastic news that the four volume Comics Through Time encyclopedia project (to which had a small part in penning the entry on uncredited Batman co-creator Bill Finger) has been nominated for a 2015 Eisner Award in the “Best Comics Related Book” category – Congratulations to everyone on the production and publishing team, and all who participated in the project.

ComicsTime_coversConvention News:

Just to confirm that I have to have to pull out of the first Peoria Artist and Comics Expo in May due to family commitments (But it’s for a happy reason – the birth of our grand-daughter is now scheduled on the same weekend) – I wish the organizers all the best for the show.

I had a great time at the Windy City Pulp convention in Chicago, where as well as participating on a fun panel on the future of New Pulp , I was lucky enough to spend time chatting with publishers Ron Frontier (Airship27), and Tommy Hancock (ProSe Press).

My next convention appearance will be:

For more frequent updates, comments, and general observations on life you can follow me on Twitter @alanjporter or on Instagram. For a full list of published work to date check out my website at AlanJPorter.com

SHORT STORIES

Initial feedback on  Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective Vol 7. that includes my story “The Case of the Rotten Corpse,” has been very positive so far. – Thanks to anyone whose picked up a copy over the last few months

Coming Soon

  • Rick Ruby: The latest volume of stories featuring 1930s New York based P.I. Rick Ruby is in production. No information on a release date yet.
  • Lotus Ronin: The new Asian Pulp anthology from prose ProSe Press is in production. I’ve done the final copy edits on the debut tale of my new pulp character, The Lotus Ronin, and am waiting for news on a possible publication date.
  • Allan Quartermain: Stones of Blood: I’m currently still writing new short-story featuring the classic jungle adventurer in a tale that takes him from the streets of London to the battlefields of the First Boer War. More on this one as it develops.

THE LEXICON PROJECTS

James Bond Lexicon: A Guide to the Worlds of 007: The manuscript for our upcoming James Bond Lexicon has been delivered to the fine folks at Hasslein Books for copy-editing. If things stick to schedule we are aiming for publication around the end of September or early October.

Meanwhile work continues on our  U.N.C.L.E. Lexicon project, “The Lexicon Affair” – look for more updates on this next month.

COMICS

FORGOTTEN CITY – The second story arc issues (#6-10) are in various stages of production as the Kid Domino team get them ready for uploading to comiXology for digital distribution. I have turned in the detailed page-by-page outline for issues #11-15 and I continue to work on the full script for issue #11

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Work is also underway on pulling together the first story-arc (issues #1-5) in a trade-paperback for eventual print distribution. In the meantime don’t forget that issues #1 thru 5 are still available as digital downloads at comiXology for just $1.99 each

Batman, Bill Finger and Me

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Today is #BatmanDay a nationwide promotional event being driven by DC Comics to mark the 75th Anniversary of the creation of the Batman. At one time I would have been all over this, making sure I had stuff ready to post, and doing everything I could to attend the anniversary events at San Diego ComicCon.

In case you don’t know at one time I was one of the leading Batman fans online. I was the guy who created and ran one of the first Batman websites (I think we were the third or fourth to get started) “GOTHAM GAZETTE – The Batman Magazine on the Web”, as well as the GOTHAM WEEKLY NEWS email newsletter which had a massive circulation. Both ran for around seven years. I wanted nothing more than to write Batman, and to write about Batman. And I did – my first published book, back in 1999, was “The BATMAN Collectors Guide*.

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Then one day I was on a panel at a comics convention with the Batman group editor, and he gave me one of the best pieces of advice I have ever been lucky enough to receive: “If you seriously want to be a writer, stop the fanboy stuff and go write other things. You need to make a name for yourself, not piggyback on Batman’s.”

He was right of course. But there was one aspect of the Batman story I didn’t want to let go. The story of Bill Finger, the un-credited co-creator of Batman. I would tell Bill’s story to anyone who would listen. I started to do research. In 2005 I put together what I had in a proposal for a book to be called KANE & FINGER: The Men Behind The Bat, that would tell the parallel stories of the two men who gave birth to arguably the best known pop-culture icon of the last 75 years.

Here’s a little extract from that proposal:

Together they created one of the most enduring pop-culture icons of the last seventy years. Their creation spawned a multi-billion dollar merchandising industry and is instantly recognizable around the world. They created images and catch-phrases that entered everyday usage.

One became a millionaire playboy living his Hollywood dream, courting and marrying starlets while others did his work. His passing marked by eulogies and obituaries in all the leading newspapers and news channels.

The other, considered to be among the greatest ever by his peers, was ignored and shunned by his one time friend. Fired by the company who made billions from his creation for asking for basic workers rights, he died destitute and forgotten by all but a few.

This is their story.

The story of Bob Kane and Bill Finger – the men who created The Batman.

 

It’s a story of human drama, friendship and betrayal.

It’s a story of ego and self-importance.

It’s also a story of insecurity and personal demons.

It’s a story of opportunism, legal maneuvering, cover ups and lies.

It’s the shameful story of an industry that stayed quiet and the belated efforts to correct its heritage.

I shopped the proposal around, people loved the idea, people wanted to read the book, but no-one was willing to publish it.**

I ended up using some of the research as the basis for an essay entitled “The Dubious Origins of Batman” that was published in BenBella’s 2008 anthology “Batman Unauthorized: Vigilantes, Jokers and Heroes in Gotham City.” While I was working on that essay I got to know fellow Bill Finger researcher Marc Tylor Nobleman. – Marc went on to write and, more importantly, get published a young readers biography on Bill, the excellent “Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman.”

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Which sort of brings me to the point of this blog post.

The other week an old friend asked me if I was ever bothered by the fact that Marc’s book got published first, and that he is now publicly seen as the guy who is spearheading the campaign to get Bill Finger the recognition he deserves.

My answer was a resounding “No.”

Marc’s research on Bill went a lot further and deeper than anything I’d done at that point. He did an amazing job, and he has rightly become the focal point of the growing publicity and awareness of the Bill Finger story. I applaud and support everything he does.

For me, I’ve gone on to do other projects, work on other properties. I’m still a Batman fan, but not to the degree I once was. I don’t read the regular Batman comics anymore, and I wasn’t that big a fan of the Nolan movies, .…

… but yes, I’d still love to get the opportunity to tell the full stories of both Bob Kane and Bill Finger.

I want to wish Marc, the Finger family, and all those involved in the events at San Diego this week a great time, and I wish I was there with you.

But most of all thanks to Bill, Bob, and all the creative people who came after them for 75 years of the greatest hero.

 

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* GOTHAM GAZETTE, GOTHAM WEEKLY NEWS, and The BATMAN Collectors Guide all carried the credit line “Batman created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane.” I believe that the Collectors Guide was the first place that was ever used in print.

** I may not have got the KANE & FINGER biography published (yet), but that proposal lead directly to my deal with HERMES PRess that resulted in books on James Bond and Star Trek.

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The Weekly Haul – 12/14/11 – What comics I picked up this week and why.

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Is it really August since I last did this little exercise? It is indeed.

I’ll be on the road next week (Look out Cedar Rapids. Iowa!) so picked up a slightly larger stack of four-color fun than usual at Austin Books today to see me through two weeks worth of comics reading needs. So what came home with me:

  • Avengers Academy #23 – Enjoyed the early issues of this series, but at some point it lost my interest and dropped off my reading list. This issue introducing X-23 (whose own book was recently cancelled)  to the team seemed like a good point to give it another try.
  • Avengers Sanction #1 (Marvel): All I can say is that advertising works – only picked this up because of the one-page house ads in other Marvel titles recently – intrigued me enough to at least try the first issue.
  • Batgirl #4 (DC) – I wasn’t too impressed by the fits issue of this titles releaunch, and I had some problems seeing Barbara Gordon back in the cowl. I should have trusted writer Gail Simone. Things are headed in the right direction and this is back on my regular read list.
  • Batman: The Brave & The Bold #14 (DC) – A fun all-ages book that is in perfect keeping with the tone of the crazy, irreverent animated series. This is how the mainstream Batman books should be done.
  • Batman & Robin #4 (DC) I don’t really like this gritty scowling Batman of the New 52 DC relaunch and haven’t picked up any of the books on a regular basis; however a reviewer who I trust said that this book was doing great things with the Bruce Wayne / Damien Wayne – Batman / Robin father-son dynamic – so thought I’d give this issue a try.
  • Batwoman #4 (DC)- The most creative and stunning artwork and page layouts of any mainstream book at the moment. However that innovation does cause some occasional storytelling problems, and the plot isn’t exactly grabbing my attention. So this may be the last issue where the “oh pretty” factor wins out.
  • Demon Knights #4 (DC) – easily my favorite of the New 52 DC titles. Loving how my friend, Paul Cornell, is building a new team dynamic, and establishing the history of a new reality, while at the same time delivering a fun action packed book. And it’s got dragons! – Highly recommended.
  • Doctor Who #12 (IDW) – The last regular monthly Doctor Who from good friend, Tony Lee and it’s a silent Christmas issue with the Doctor and Santa fighting robots. Do I need to say more?
  • Ghost Rider #7 (Marvel): Always been something of a closet Ghost Rider fan (Heck I’ll even admit to enjoying the Nic Cage movie – and yes I even own a copy!), and one of the marvel characters on my “like to write one day” list*. This series is written by yet another friend Rob Williams, and introduces a new female Rider, but the concept doesn’t seem to have caught on and it all comes to an end in a couple of months, but in the mean time I’ve been enjoying this different take on the mythos of The Spirit of Vengance. (*If Marvel are looking for another Ghost Rider story – I’ll be happy to pitch my thoughts on something that links Johnny Blaze to the Western Ghost Rider of the past.)
  • Hawken #2 (IDW) – Gritty violent Western with great black & white artwork from the master of Westerns, Tim Truman.
  • Jingle Belle Gift-Wrapped (Top Cow / Image) – Another Christmas special, from one of my favorite writers/creators, Paul Dini. No other reason for picking it up beyond that simple fact.
  • Marvel Holiday Special (Marvel): These Christmas themed holiday specials are always something of a guilty pleasure. For the most part they feature innocuous, and occasionally trite, tales of favorite heroes spreading seasonal messages. Some years the will contain a real gem of a story.
  • Operation Broken Wings, 1936 (BOOM) – Translated reprint of a graphic novel originally published in France. Suffers a little from teh reduction in page size down to standard US comic book dimensions; but overall is strong, compelling espionage tale set in pre-war Germany. Well researched and very evocative of the era.
  • The Ray #1 (DC) – I’ve been looking forward to picking this book up since artist Jamal Igle first posted some sketches on his FaceBook account. Should be a fun read.
  • Star Wars: Agent of Empire: Iron Eclipse #1 (Dark Horse) – Easily wins the prize for longest title of the week. Simply put this Star Wars version of James Bond. – Written by John Ostrander, who for my money is consistently one of the best and most innovative of the SW comics writers.
  • Zorro Rides Again #6 (Dynamite) – Writer Matt Wagner’s respect and enthusiasm for the Zorro legend and mythos comes across on every page. This is a must read for any fan of the Fox.

 

 

The Weekly Haul – 8/3/11 – What comics I picked up this week and why.

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Haven’t done this since February, but it’s about time I got back to doing it. So with out any acclaim or fanfare whatsoever, a look at what made it into the stack of four-color fun I bought home from Austin Books this week.

Elric: The Balance Lost #2 (BOOM!) – Interested to see where Chris Roberson is taking the Michael Moorcock multiverse concepts and characters. He shows a real understanding of them here.

Essential Amazing Spider-Man #1 (Marvel) – I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t have a complete run of the classic Lee/Ditko Spider-Man issues in my comics library. That oversight has now been rectified thanks to the reissue of this first Essentials volume.

Heroes For Hire #10 (Marvel) – This is the book closest to the classic Marvel action I used to love. Just superheroes teaming up to catch the bad guys – it’s that simple, and its so much fun.

House of Mystery #40 (DC/Vertigo) – Just a couple of months left for this innovative and thought provoking series by my buddy, Matt Sturges. I’ve been there since before issue #1, and I’ll be there to the end.

The Infinite #1 (Image) – I normally wouldn’t have touched this with a cattle prod due to the name on the art credits, Rob Liefeld. But I heard writer Robert Kirkman (He of “The Walking Dead” fame) talking about the book, the time-travel premise, and his ideas for it on a recent podcast, and he sold me enough to pick up the first issue.

Punisher #1 (Marvel) – I really don’t like The Punisher as a character or as a concept, yet I picked the first issue of his new series up. Why? Simply because Greg Rucka is writing it, and none do urban, gritty thrillers any better. Let’s see if one of my favorite writers can change my mind about Frank Castle?

Rachel Rising #1 (Abstract) – A new series from talented Terry Moore.  Do I need say any more?

Red Skull Incarnate #2 (Marvel) – Stunningly designed and evocative covers, a well scripted story by Greg Pak examining the psyche of one of the Marvel Universe’s most perverse bad guys, all interwoven with the rise of Nazi influence in Germany during the 1930s equals one of the most intriguing “superhero” books on the stands at the moment.

Retro-Active (DC Comics) – Lumping these books together as one. I’m really enjoying these nostalgia themed books from DC using classic writers and artists. In fact I’m enjoying them more than the current mainstream DC Universe books. This week picked up 1980s era Flash, Batman, and Wonder Woman books. And the best part of these books – the newsprint pages. They look, feel, and smell like a comic book should. Way better than the modern slick glossy pages.

Superman #714  (DC Comics)- The end of an era as this is the last issue of the current Superman title that started the whole super-hero thing off back in the 1930s/40s. I’d have picked it up anyway as I’m really been enjoying Chris Roberson’s take on the Man of Steel, and he had me picking up the Superman books on a regular basis for the first time in years. It’s a shame DC didn’t carry his vision over to the new DCU relaunch next month.

Zorro Rides Again #1 (Dynamite) – With my penchant for pulp style generational heroes, Zorro has always been among my list of favorites. Over the years some of the comics series have been hits, and some definite misses. But I give each new one a try. Let’s see how this one pans out.