Embers & Dust explores this. Such a beautiful little piece of sci-fi. The father/son stuff is lovely.
What if aliens really did land during the broadcast of "War of the Worlds," but led to an entirely different encounter?
Embers & Dust explores this. Such a beautiful little piece of sci-fi. The father/son stuff is lovely.
It's that time of year again! Time to hunt across the entire internet for fame, fortune, and... okay actually it's time for the Young Adult Scavenger Hunt, where you have a chance to win up to 100 YA books! This is my fifth scavenger hunt, and I love how every time I have a chance to meet and learn about authors and books I've never heard of before.
A quick introduction for those of you finding my site for the first time: I'm Matthew Phillion, and I write about superheroes. The Indestructibles is a series of books about five rookie heroes--a solar powered girl, a ballerina vigilante, a boy with an alien in his brain giving him cosmic powers, a Whovian with a black hole where her heart should be, and a werewolf with confidence issues. The most recent book took them into outer space, and the next book in the series is a standalone spinoff, "Echo and the Sea," about a young heroine who finds out she might be heir to the throne of Atlantis, and must pick a side between her surface life and the one that awaits below the ocean. I mention this upcoming book because, hidden out there in the YA Scavenger Hunt, is the first-ever sample chapter from "Echo and the Sea," offered exclusively for anyone who can find it among Team Gold's authors! Every author who participates offers you exclusive content you can't find anywhere else, selected especially for the hunt. Cover art and deleted scenes, playlists and character notes, you can find it all... it's like the best Behind the Scenes bonus content you can find.
Oh--that's right. Forgot to mention. I'm on Team Gold. Check out the other amazing books and authors on our team. There are also Blue, Pink, Purple, and Red teams out there waiting for you to discover them. One lucky winner will win a copy of a book by each team's authors. All the books, guys. Win all the books.
How, you might ask? Here's the rules:
First, I recommend stopping by the official YASH site to find out all the key details. You'll find a list of participating authors as well as all the potential prizes up for grabs.
On to the puzzle.
Did I mention there's a puzzle?
Don't worry. It's a good puzzle. You'll notice that somewhere below, I've mentioned my favorite number. Find all the favorite numbers of all the authors on Gold Team (same goes for the other four teams as well--you can participate in all five games if you'd like). Then add them up. And before anyone asks: calculators are not cheating.
Fill out the entry form with the total of all your authors' numbers.
THE RULES (ugh, rules, I know):
Here's the basics: YASH is open internationally. Only one entry per person per team. You'll have to claim your prize within 48 hours or the prize will be re-drawn. Duplicate entries will be disregarded, as well as anyone who blatantly disregards the rules. If you have any questions, you can email YASH.Organizer@gmail.com (I will try to answer any questions in the comments section below, also).
You have until APRIL 9 to enter. Entries close at midnight. Only correct entries submitted through the official form will count. No purchase necessary.
Now, on to the fun part:
Before I let this run on for 7 (seven) (HINT HINT) pages, let me introduce...
OUR GUEST AUTHOR!
This hunt I'm proud to host author Breeana Shields. Breeana is the author of Poison’s Kiss (Random House, 2017) and Poison’s Cage (Random House, 2018).
Breeana graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in English. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves traveling, eating good food–especially if it’s pasta or chocolate–and spending time with her husband, her three children and an extremely spoiled miniature poodle.
Okay first of all: I love this cover. This cover is gorgeous. But enough editorializing by me. Let me tell you a bit about Poison's Kiss:
"Marinda’s kiss is deadly. She is a legendary visha kanya – “poison maiden” – able to kill a man with only her lips as a weapon. Since childhood, she’s served the Raja as one of his most lethal assassins.
Until now, the men she was ordered to kiss have been strangers. Enemies of the kingdom.
But when Marinda receives orders to kiss a boy she has feelings for—a boy she knows too well to believe he deserves to die—she begins to question who she’s really working for.
And that thread, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose."
to find out more about Breeana's work, be sure to check out her website here.
Breeana has provided us with an exclusive playlist to go along with Poison's Kiss. You can find the playlist that goes along with the book here:
Playlist for Poison’s Kiss
Falling Awake by Gary Jules
Desi Thoughts by A.R. Rahman
Blame it on Me by George Ezra
The Chimes at Midnight by Thomas Newman
My My Love by Joshua Radin
The Final Pitch by A.R. Rahman
Like Real People Do by Hozier
Be sure to continue on to the next author in the scavenger hunt and enter to win books by me, Breeana Shields, and eighteen other authors on Gold Team. Leave a comment below and let me know if you've participated before or if this is your first year--and if you're a superhero fan, mention your favorite character in the comments as well!
Don't forget--my favorite number is 7 (seven). You'll need that to enter to win.
And now let me direct you to the next author in the scavenger hunt: Selene Castrovilla, author of Signs of Life, Book 2 in the Rough Romance Trilogy.
Good luck, and go Gold Team!
The ghosts of social media. Today is the birthday of an old friend and mentor. Taught me a lot about film, and about freelancing, and about being a writer and knowing your own worth as a writer. He's been gone a few years now. Last time I saw him alive was Christmas Eve, 2012, when I found him disappearing into himself in a hospital bed, in so much pain we talked for ten minutes before he realized who I was.
Facebook, in that weird way it has about it, streamed messages into my feed from his page, people wishing him a happy birthday, but they don't know he's gone. Robert was, maybe not famous, but he was well-connected and had a lot of professional connections, the sort of hangers-on people who know what they're doing in the film business can have, folks who wouldn't think it strange he hasn't posted anything in five years, for whom the autopilot birthday wishes to near strangers are just a way to stay on someone's radar. This happens every year, honestly, and it breaks my heart a bit each time, the shallowness of it, and the way these banal messages remind me: my friend is still gone. And there are people who think they can call him a friend who don't know he's passed away.
Maybe it's because I've been lucky in this life, and I haven't lost many friends at an age you might call "too soon," but this concept--that we'll all become ghosts in the machine some day, that our digital presence will outlive our physical one, and that there will people who can go a half-decade without realizing we've shuffled off this mortal coil--it troubles me every year. It's happened so many times I've come to expect it. Hines would probably think it was funny, honestly. If we go anywhere after this life, he's laughing at it. And I want to wax philosophical about the immortality this gives us, that we'll live on in this weirdly organic way. But it's one in the morning, and I miss my friend. I wonder what he'd think of the world these days, a giant of a man with the face of a barbarian and the kindest heart you'd ever find. I wonder what battles he'd have fought.
Happy birthday, Hines. You are, and will always be, missed so very much.
Pete Chianca over at Pete's Pop Culture and Parenting Blog did double duty this week, reviewing both "The Entropy of Everything" and "Like a Comet" for his blog. I love this review--it picks up on things I haven't thought about since writing Entropy and brought all the feels back to me with the Kate and Titus drama from both books.
Also, as a reviewer, he always seems to pick up some of my favorite quotes from the book as well. This review actually makes me want to go back and reread them.
Actually, let's be honest: this review makes me really psyched to start working on Book 5. Guys, Book 5 has a title already. It's a secret (I'll announce it after the spinoff book, "Echo and the Sea," is back from the wonderful editors who are reviewing it right now).
From Pete's review:
It's that deft plotting and precise character work, combined with knowing winks at his pop culture predecessors and action sequences that continue to dazzle in their detail and scope, that make these YA novels accessible to anybody, from the starry-eyed 11-year-old to the middle-aged former comic book reader who never quite grew out of it. (We know who we are.) Four books in, Phillion has guaranteed that wherever this series goes, he'll have a following of loyal readers who will go with it.
Superhero philosophy time:
Thinking about the "Logan" opening tonight and the concept of the hero who outlives his peers. It's not an unexplored theme--everything from Kingdom Come and Earth X to Old Man Logan and "The End" series has explored it--even the old, pre-Star-Lord Guardians of the Galaxy was really big on it, with guys like Vance Astro or Wonder Man outliving their friends and loved ones by millennia. (I really want to write the story of Simon Williams, who didn't have the benefit of Astro's long nap in space flight. Simon lives those centuries, awake. He sees his friends shuffle off this mortal coil in real time. I don't know who had it worse, him or Vance.)
But it makes for an interesting exploration of the concept of the superhuman, doesn't it? Because we tell these stories about heroes trying to save the present, trying to change the world, whether it's stopping street crime or rescuing a kitten from a tree or preventing World War III. But it's pretty likely that anyone that "special," be they Kryptonian or a mutant with a healing ability or a guy injected with some sort of serum that lets him look like he did during WWII seventy years later or if he's a science experiment gone wrong or the fastest man alive...
It's almost inevitable they're going to outlive every single person they've saved. The existential crisis of that concept amazes me. That's a story I want to tell.
I figure in the Indestructibles universe, we've got one or two characters this could happen to. (One for sure--it's been hinted at in some of the stories that one of the Indestructibles will live three hundred years or more if someone doesn't kill that person intentionally first.) What happens to that sort of hero? Do they just keep going, continuing the good fight? Do they lose their minds after everyone they've ever known is dead? Do they surrender to the ebb and flow of time? Or do they, Gandalf-style, play the long game, because they know they've got all the time in the world?
What does a hero do when they have what feels like forever stretched out in front of them?
The writing process is a funny thing. I fall pretty solidly in the "plotter" category (versus "pantser" writing, or writing by the seat of your pants). But at least once in each book something weaves itself into a scene I never expected, and it's often some small personal reference that's been really important to me for a long, long time.
In the Entropy of Everything, we found out Jane knows the lyrics to the Parting Glass (and that Jane can sing--another bit of improvisation). Working on The Indestructibles spinoff book tonight, I unexpectedly found a way to reference one of my favorite poems. Tennyson's "Ulysses." "Come my friends / Tis not too late to seek a newer world."
That one line is a talisman for me. "To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
(Ulysses, the mythological figure, is also an important character for me, because I like tricksters over standard issue heroes, and because he was a thinking man in a world full of warriors.)
Anyway. I'm entering the third act of the new book, and the characters are coming together for me in ways I didn't expect. This is the best part of writing, y'know. When it surprises you.
So hey everybody. We made it. 2016 is almost over. Pretty sure a lot of us are really looking forward to a fresh start in 2017. But I wanted to take a minute to thank you all once again for making it a great year the Indestructibles. Book 4, "Like a Comet," came out, the biggest book in the series both in terms of scope and, well, page length. (It's enormous.)
I was able to get three Indestructibles One-Shots out, too, and even able to make sure there was a chance for everyone following the series to get a free copy if they wanted, which made me really happy.
A bunch of really successful comic cons, where I got a chance to talk to so many of you in person (meeting some folks for the first time!). Cosplayers appearing at Doc Silence and Emily and Dancer (maybe next year someone'll take on the challenge of Bedlam or Valkyrie?). I can't do this without you guys, so every single interaction this year was a huge boost to keep the series going.
Looking ahead, and since people have been asking: there will be fifth book. I've already got the theme ready and the bones of the plot. (A No-Prize to anyone who guesses what kind of Big Bad the gang goes up against next!). One of the things I heard a lot this year though is that the series is coming out TOO fast, so I'm also working on a side project taking place in the same universe (which I think of as the Indestructiverse, which makes me laugh every time I say it). Every superhero universe has an Atlantis, and the spinoff book, "Echo and the Sea," will involve the Atlantis of the Indestructiverse, plus a lot of mythological themes and concepts, too. Stay tuned for that in 2017!
I'd like to put out at least a One-Shot per quarter next year, and if inspiration and time works out, maybe more. I'd like to ask you (feel free to comment below): who would you like to see starring in some of these shorts? We've had Dancer and Titus and Alley Hawk get their own solo stories... is there anyone you'd like to see more of outside the main series?
Also: let me know which comic cons you're headed to in 2017! I've got two shows squared away I'll be returning to, but I'm open to ideas for new venues... comment below or shoot me a message if you have a suggestion.
Okay. Long post. (It's a writer problem. Verbose.) So all this said: have a fantastic New Year's Eve. I'm looking forward to adventuring with all of you in the New Year.
Let's steal a line from Mr. Stan Lee, who celebrated his birthday this week:
This year, as it marches to its to a drumbeat of mortality, we've all felt some sort of loss--whether music or film, literature or sports or science... If you take part in the world at all, someone who has enriched your life somehow has shuffled off this mortal coil this year.
There's the inevitable cynicism that goes along with the mourning of celebrities, a rush by those who had no attachment to the fallen star of the day to mock the social media tidal wave of remembrances.
But if there's a light in all this--and it has to be a very bright light to chase off even a little bit of this year's shadow--it's this: art matters. Whatever your art; pop or esoteric, poetic or plain, child-like or infinitely complex, for every one of these people the world lost (and it is the world's loss, when we lose artists, no matter their chosen craft)... that outcry says that what they did with their time in this world mattered. To so many people. It's proof they left the world better than they found it. They've left something lasting behind.
And that's beautiful.
So those of us left, as we stare down the barrel of a year that could be worse than the one we've just survived... Make art. Create something lasting. Strive to be remembered, and to live bravely, and to never be content. Remember that art matters. Enjoy the people who make it while they are here with us.
And let's all leave this place better than we found it. That's our job now. Let's not let each other down.
In the latest edition of 1 Panel, 1 Page, an ongoing series of articles about a single panel or page that has stuck with the writer forever, I've invited my colleague, artist and teacher Robert Perry to offer his thoughts on his own 1 Panel 1 Page memory. He's got a great choice, too: a page from Frank Miller's iconic Daredevil run.
Robert, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this very memorable run. And without further delay:
Daredevil #180: "The Damned"
First of all, I’d like to thank Matt for inviting me to contribute to his blog and his very cool concept: 1 panel or 1 page that has stayed in your memory even if years (hell, even decades!) have passed since you first encountered it. These panels can hang in your memory long after the story they once helped tell is lost, like a lyric or a melody from a song whose name you can’t remember. Those little hanging paintings in your own personal comics geek gallery.
I must admit my own gallery is not very well curated; it resembles more a cluttered attic of various Marvel, DC and Amazing Fantasy pictures with a splattering of Calvin & Hobbes and Beanos (there may even be some Citizen Kane stills in there too — I really must clean this place up). But the very first thing that popped in my brain was a page from Daredevil, Issue No. 180 “The Damned”, second to last page. I had to check which issue, though, because as I said the page stuck in my memory while the details of the story have grown hazy.
Anyone reading this blog probably doesn’t need a summary of Frank Miller’s contribution to comics. Though his more recent output has been eclipsed by his reputation for semi-coherent, right-wing ranting, it can’t erase the two decades of uniformly exceptional comics work, from Daredevil through to Ronin, The Dark Knight Returns, Sin City, Martha Washington, and on and on. Whether as a full-on auteur creating his own book (he started writing and penciling Daredevil at the age of 22!) or writing for other artists, Miller’s world-weary, nicotine stained voice is always clear. So clear, in fact, it surprised me when I re-examined the page — the penultimate issue of an ongoing three-year arc of city corruption, doomed love and urban decay that introduced Elektra and Bulls-Eye — that Miller had by this time had begun to relinquish finishing duties to long-time collaborator Klaus Janson. Miller and Janson have been one of the great art teams of the modern era, so it’s easy to ignore any change in continuity; but even in its breakdowns this page is a lesson in narrative impact and efficiency.
I remember what initially caught me about this page was its irregularity. Mainstream comics at the beginning of the eighties were still quite conservative; panels were maintained in neat order, borders were standard and bleeds were almost unheard of. So to a ten year old kid thumbing through the issue on the newsstand in 1982 it just looked plain cool. But subsequent readings of this issue (and much of Miller’s Daredevil run) seem to reveal something new every time.
Miller subverts that Marvel “house-style” convention by actually emphasizing the white space, making the page asymmetrical. Partly this allows him to exploit his signature “TV panel” device, something he’d use to ultimate satirical effect in Dark Knight. He reuses this technique three times throughout the issue, always in the same spot and always with the same emptiness surrounding it. Then below a wide establishing panel of Kingpin in a deep focus shot that contextualizes the TV and emphasizes the mob boss’ power and isolation; the ring (his missing wife’s ring, retrieved from a dark and horrible place) cuts across the panel, always pulling our eye inward to the left of the page. Once we’re in the room, Miller slows time with a series of rhythmic, heavily-cropped vertical close-ups that capture Kingpin’s enormous face. It’s broken only once by Daredevil’s looming figure which dominates an increasingly powerless Wilson Fisk in the lower left of the frame. He’s now defeated and we’re allowed to close in on Fisk’s personal space, his private emotional state. Employed effectively, this technique can be devastating, and it’s something Miller almost certainly picked up from his mentor Wil Eisner. Eisner knew the difference between time and ‘timing,’ and that using timing creates a strong emotional rhythm. That rhythm is then punctuated by a final, extreme close-up of DD’s eyes like the last stab of a slowly beating drum. And always the layout seems to be pushing us to the left, creating an undeniable sense of claustrophobia that all started with that empty space at the top of the page.
Now ten year old me certainly wasn’t thinking all this when I first grabbed Daredevil #180. But I do remember pausing on it for a long time – it was something special, a kind of storytelling and attention to detail I’d never previously experienced. And it made me pay attention to comics, the good ones, in a way I hadn't before.
Thanks again for the opportunity to reminisce about a great piece of comics art, Matt. Your No-Prize is in the mail.
Robert Perry is an art and media teacher and graphic designer living in Ottawa, Canada. He has been a comic book geek since as long as he can remember, has taught courses on the art of comics and sequential art, and has met Mr. T.
Just found out both of the Indestructibles holiday stories, "Gifted" and "Krampus in the City," will be available for free tomorrow, December 24, on Amazon Kindle.
You can find both on my author page on Amazon here. Pick up a free copy of each!
Matthew Phillion is the writer of "The Indestructibles," part-time actor, occasional filmmaker. Currently on the lam in Salem with his trusty dog, Watson.