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1. पद-चिन्ह ढूंढता हूँ

पद-चिन्ह ढूंढता हूँ,
कभी घनघोर अंधेरो में,
तो कभी अंजान सवेरो में,
कभी चलते-चलते रेत में,
तो कभी मास्टर जी की बेंत में,
कभी भीगते से पल में,
कभी जलते से उस नल में,
पद-चिन्ह ढूंढता हूँ,

कभी पास थे सब,
सूरज, तारे और आकाश,
आज अपनो से ना रही आस,
ज़िंदगी की दौड़ में भयभीत,
चली रे चली, वही रीत,
ढूँढते फिरते है सब प्रीत,
पद-चिन्ह ढूंढता हूँ,

घुले तो रंग आँखो में,
मुस्कान से बिखर जाते थे,
अंधेरे में जब माँ-बाबा,
दिए से आ जाते थे,
आज भी वो आते है, पर,
बड़े होने का एहसास डुबाता है,
पद-चिन्ह ढूंढता हूँ,

माया की काया में भीगे पल,
ज़िम्मेदारियो की पत्तियाँ तोड़ते,
जिंदगी जीने की आस में,
इच्छाओ की धारा को मोड़ते,
तन्हाई को अब मज़बूरी कहते है,
सपने तो गाँव है, हम शहर में रहते है,
पद-चिन्ह ढूंढता हूँ,

मोड़ इतने आए है जीवन में,
की भूल कर भी अब वापसी नही,
दिल को बहलाते बहलाते,
फिरता रहता है मॅन मेरा, यही कही,
खुद को समझाते, शाम हो जाती है,
धूप मेरे द्वार आ, रूठकर चली जाती है,,
पद-चिन्ह ढूंढता हूँ,
पद-चिन्ह ढूंढता हूँ,
जो शायद अब जीवंत नही है,
विचार मेरे संग, सत्य कही है,
कल-कल बहता कल, आज है,
ग़लतियों का एहसास, राज़ है,
हिचकिचाहट का वृक्ष बड़ा है,
आत्मा का बोझ वैसा ही गड़ा है,
पद-चिन्ह ढूंढता हूँ, पद-चिन्ह ढूंढता हूँ || Dr DV ||

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2. The Rabbit Hole or “It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it can’t suck.”

Rabbit Hole 2This is big. Maybe the biggest idea in the realm of children’s literature I’ve seen in years.  Possibly my entire career.  I don’t like using the term “gamechanger” but I can’t think of a better word in this particular case.

Okay.  So imagine, if you will, a new children’s book museum.  But where that term would usually invoke images of adult-centric locations, The Rabbit Hole is going to be immersive.  They’re bandying about the term “Explorastorium” which gets you a bit closer to what they’re doing.  Think of a children’s museum or an exploratorium, but instead of water tables and those blue bendy foam construction pieces you have kids bouncing in and out of their favorite books.  Imagine you literally walk into what appears to be scenes from the book itself.  You might have seen similar ideas done when museums do exhibits on famous authors of the past.  When NYPL did its “The ABC of It” exhibit you found yourself in The Great Green Room of Goodnight Moon.  And when there was a William Steig exhibit at the Jewish Museum of New York, you walked into a room where everything looked like it had been drawn by his hand.

But think bigger than that.

To get the full flavor, you need to sit down and read this article from The Kansas City Star: Rabbit Hole aims to make KC world capital of children’s books, top U.S. publishers sign on. From it you’ll get an inkling of what this space will be (watch the video there as well).  Otherwise how else are you going to hear about how this fall the folks behind the project are going to transform a city bus into the bus from “Last Stop on Market Street.”

Rabbit Hole 1An ambitious project set for the fall is the so-called Mobile Storybook. In cooperation with the KCATA, The Rabbit Hole crew would transform a city bus into the bus from “Last Stop on Market Street,” a 2015 Newbery and Caldecott winner by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson. The unveiling would coincide with the national conference of the Urban Libraries Council, giving The Rabbit Hole more exposure. The story would unfold along the route with digital animations on LED window glass, audio landscapes, and sculptures of characters inside the bus. As riders board the bus, they can pick up copies of the book to read along. They can also “check out” the books and return them at any public library. Cowdin hopes the magic bus will run on both a regular route and customized tours.

And I thought the Crossover float in Evanston’s 4th of July parade last year was impressive.  Sheesh!

Rabbit Hole 3Even as I read about the hopes and dreams going into this campaign (“permanent features such as, perhaps, a giant version of Mike Mulligan’s steam shovel, Mary Anne, rising out of a hole, or the forest from ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ where children can swing on branches with Max”) I am filled with an odd mixture of complete joy and incredible seething envy and jealousy.  It’s a good kind of seething envy and jealousy.  The kind where you suddenly want to be a part of this project so badly that you’ll do anything to make that happen.  Including giving money.

To make this space happen, an Indiegogo campaign is in the works.  Go to their site and you’ll see video after video after video about this space.  The one with the authors (Jon Scieszka, Brian Selznick, Kate DiCamillo, and more!) is particularly good.

Additionally, in this fundraiser you can purchase lots of fun things donated by many writers and illustrators, though any donation would be appreciated.

Guys, I don’t give money to anything.  But I’m going to give to this.  And I don’t usually tell you to give your hard earned cash to anything, but I think that this is important.

For more information, check out this interview Pete conducted with The Groove Juice Special Radio Hour For Children & Other Brave Souls.

Also be sure to check out the YouTube channel for The Rabbit Hole.  Great stuff there.

Rabbit Hole Map


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3. Sunday Sketching

Two minute heads.
In the teensy purse Moleskine balanced upon my knee....

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4. An April-full of ALSC Adventures

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”

― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Welcome! (Taken at Arapahoe Library District's Koelbel Library)

Welcome! (Taken at Arapahoe Library District’s Koelbel Library)

I kicked off last month at the Illinois Youth Services Institute, in Normal, presenting on Media Mentorship with one of the co-authors of our white paper on the topic and newly elected “New to ALSC” Board member, Amy Koester, encouraging everybody in the audience (and you, too!) to tweet “I am a #mediamentor”. Congratulations to my fellow Prairie state children’s librarians who imagined and delivered a wonderful inaugural event.

Then I headed up several thousand feet to Denver, for the Public Library Association conference, the theme of which was “Be Extraordinary.” The week was absolutely that, and more, and you can discover some of the experiences there by looking back at the live blogging that several ALSC members did, including pictures from the awesome ALSC Happy Hour and from my invigorating visit, along with our Executive Director, Aimee Strittmatter, to the beautiful Koelbel Library of the Arapahoe Library District, in Centennial, Colorado.


I had an especially transformative National Library Week this year by visiting 5 libraries in 5 states in 5 days! I began at the Kate Waller Barrett Branch Library in Alexandria, Virginia, built in 1937 and named after, as its website says, “a humanitarian, social crusader and political reformer.” Then on to a building built more than three-quarters of a century later, the beautifully modern Silver Spring Library, part of the Montgomery County Public Libraries in Maryland, followed by a visit to the Tippecanoe County Public Library’s Downtown Library in Lafayette, Indiana, where the “people chairs” make for very comfy reading. Next, a stop back home at Chicago Public Library’s Hall Branch, where Charlemae Hill Rollins served as children’s librarian many decades ago. Then it was westward to the Oxnard Public Library’s Main Library in California, where it was clear upon entering their “Area Para Los Niños” that the community was having a very happy week! All of these visits to ALSC members and our libraries, along with my many others this year (which you can discover on Twitter with #ALSCtour) have made me even more amazed at the work we do and the libraries in which, and from which, we do it. Not to mention even more excited about celebrating these spaces at my President’s Program at Annual (Monday, 6/27, 1:00, Convention Center #W110A), and you can check out a quick video about it, filmed in Ms. Rollins children’s room, here:

On the Friday of National Library Week, the singular Pat Mora presented a joyous Arbuthnot Lecture–¡Alegría en los libros!–at the gorgeous Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) and you can also enjoy it hereGracias to SBCC, the Santa Barbara Public Library System, and the University of California at Santa Barbara, which includes the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education and the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies. BTW, applications are now being accepted to host next year’s Arbuthnot Lecture starring Jacqueline Woodson, so please consider applying by May 15 here.

In Santa Barbara's fantastic new Central Library Children's Room with '16 Arbuthnot Chair Julie Corsaro & Children's Librarian Gwen. (Photo by Aimee Strittmatter)

In Santa Barbara’s fantastic new Central Library Children’s Room with ’16 Arbuthnot Chair Julie Corsaro & Senior Youth Services Librarian Gwen Wagy. #BabiesNeedWordsEveryDay (Photo by Aimee Strittmatter)

Then I was delighted to be reunited with Pat again several days later, this time in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the 20th anniversary of El día de los niños/El día de los libros, the nationally recognized initiative founded by Pat that emphasizes the importance of literacy for all children from all backgrounds. With support from ALA’s Washington Office we had a joyful morning of books (and cake!) at the U.S. Captiol along with Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41), Sen. Jack Reed (RI).

Congressman Mark Takano of California reads "Book Fiesta!" while Pat Mora, me, and kids from CentroNia and Payne Elementary celebrate. (Photo by Aimee Strittmatter)

Congressman Mark Takano of California reads “Book Fiesta!” while Pat Mora, me, and kids from CentroNia and Payne Elementary School celebrate. (Photo by Aimee Strittmatter)

Thanks, everybody, for a delightful Día and an awesome April! I’m looking forward to May’s flowers and want to congratulate all of those who stood for election on this year’s ALSC ballot–both those who won and those whose names will I hope appear again soon!

The post An April-full of ALSC Adventures appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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5. Writer's Software: Is it any good?

Thanks giphy.com

A writer can scribe on anything - if you have an idea and you're  anything like me, you've probably scrawled stuff down on napkins, the  back of your hand and old bus tickets. None of these are very practical though - and you'd probably struggle to write a novel on them. I used to write mainly in Word, with a notebook by my side to make notes as I went.  Then I discovered writer's software. For the disorganised amongst us ( me) it's an absolute godsend.

Scrivener is my software of choice but I've drafted in a little help from Jo Wyton, to speak up for Word, and Philippa Francis for yWriter. If you're a fan of something  else, please let us know the pros and cons, and where you can get hold of it, in the comments!

 Philippa Francis on yWriter 

Price range:
Free download.

Platforms it works on:  Windows only.

Available support: Not sure how good the support is but there isn't much to go wrong - if you can answer this please add to the hive mind in the comments!

How do you use it: 
I use it from the beginning of a piece of work, and also during the editing process. It enables me to structure my work into scenes and chapters easily – with scope to move them around. The more I fill in the sections such as Goals, Locations and Scene Summaries, the more I understand my own story.

An old Kathryn Evans script on yWriter 5

Pros then?
The advantages are the price, the ease of manipulating scenes and chapters, and the different kinds of practical focus available; i.e. timescale or ratings which you can decide on yourself. All data is easy to read. The program can also read text aloud – in rather a robotic tone, I admit.

The disadvantages are that it’s only suitable for PCs, it is definitely not pretty and the completed files are a little tricky to handle. When you export the finished story, you have to re-format it, and as yet, I don’t know how to move a completed work into a new project. You have to start each project from nothing as far as I can see (I am no PC expert!).

Still, I really find it practical - and would be happy to help with queries. 

Kathryn Evans on Scrivener

Price range:
You can download a free trial for 30 days and it only counts the days you actually use it.  To buy the full version is $40, forever.

 It's worth giving it the full time trial. I'd forgotten this until I looked up my blog from   four years ago
 The 30 day trial period is about right. It took me a while  to love this piece of software. I resented it in the way I used to resent tidying my room. Slowly, however, I learned to appreciate it.
So much so that I'm a complete convert.

 Platforms it works on:  Mac and Windows - there is a version in the pipeline for iPad but it's been a long time coming and no real sign yet.

Available support: Excellent - it might take a day but they respond to email and will always help - there's also some brilliant forums where you can quite often find answers to your questions.

How do you use it: 

I now write, and edit,  my whole novels in it. It's very easy to divide each chapter into scenes, add notes to the side, even pictures and character notes.  I'm lazy with it really - I coudl and should use it better - by giving my scenes titles, for example, I could more easily manage a structural edit - even so, it's clear to see and overview. Once I need to send it to my agent and/or editor, I compile the document and move it to word. I do all future edits in Word but this is mostly because they don't use Scrivener and it's easier to work with their tracked changes where they are.

My current WIP in Scrivener

Pros then?

I find it intuitive to use but if you don't,  the tutorials are easy to follow. Heaps of useful content and ways to use it. The word count / target word count box is invaluable. It's great for the more disorganised amongst us (me) and it looks nice too!


There is a lot of potentially useful content that I don't access because I can't be bothered to work it out. Not really a con of Scrivener.

Jo Wyton on Word.

Price range:
It depends, but most people who own a computer already have the Office package I guess. If you work for a large company, it's worth checking whether they have an arrangement with Microsoft for a much cheaper version.

Platforms it works on:  Windows and Mac (for reference, I'm a Mac user)

Available support: Like with Scrivener, although probably to an even greater extent, there are forums galore for software support.

How do you use it: 
Fairly simply. I maintain a planning document and a separate file for each chapter. That way I'm not constantly drawn back to re-reading and revising previous chapters.

Full-screen mode in Word

Pros then?

I already know how to use it, so there's no time spent learning the how. It also makes it unbelievably easy to transfer files between computers to work on. For example, I have a desktop Mac as well as a notebook, and having things in Word just makes it so easy. I can also transfer to Windows computers for printing etc without worrying about having to reformat. I also love the 'full screen' mode, which is similar to Scrivener in that it block all else from your screen, has changeable backgrounds, etc.


Some might find it overly simple for building a manuscript in. But for me, the simplicity is its main draw.

So there you go - I have to say I would REALLY miss Scrivener if I didnt' have it. I broke the target word count  last week and it drove me crazy not having it - it was like all the words I was writing didn't even count. Thank goodness for the support forums, once I'd fixed it I had a lovely ( 2000+ word) surprise.

Conclusion? If you've got an untidy brain , writer's software that can take you to a whole new level of organisation is really worth it. Do add your own experiences in the comments - it all adds to the hive mind!

Special thanks to Jo Wyton and  Philippa Francis, aka K M Lockwood

Kathryn Evans is a stalwart SCBWI member. She  tweets @mrsbung and hangs about on instagram kathrynevansauthor. She's got a book out too,: More of Me was published by Usborne in February 2016.

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6. Fairies' May Day

from "The Illustrated Fairy Gazette" Spring edition
Here are some fairy garlands for the month of May. The May Pole Dance is from the Spring edition of the Fairy Gazettes, where it is accompanied by an article on the etiquette of folded wings. Should it be "Wings Up" or "Wings Down"? Just ask Fairy Faux Pas!
Spring Garland, © Frances Tyrrell 2016
Above, a fairy garland woven from the spring flowers that have naturalized in my garden - forget-me-nots, lily of the valley, and primroses.  The flowers of the poem won't show up here until June.
Snowdrops, © Frances Tyrrell 2016
The snowdrops are gone by now. The scillas still abound in wide blue drifts.  And here come the trillums, crimson and white.

 "A blessed and enchanted Spring to fairies everywhere"

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7. Monday Mishmash 5/2/16

Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. It's the Little Things  Sometimes little things make me smile. Like my metallic green pen I just bought. Writing in my day planner in that sparkly green makes me happy. Yay for the little things. :)
  2. Editing  My editing schedule has been CRAZY! I'm not sure how I got through the number of edits I did in April. It's made me realize I need to scale back a bit because I'm seeing physical effects of the stress now and that's not good.
  3. Recovering  So far this year, I've had 5 books come out. The entire Into the Fire trilogy and the first two books in the Curse of the Granville Fortune series. In a word, I'm exhausted!
  4. Shift to Adult  My focus recently has shifted to adult. I still have several YA manuscripts in different stages, but I'm also working on several adult and new adult manuscripts. Maybe I'm finally growing up, but I really like writing for adults. Remember when I said I never would? Never say never!
  5. Writing Time  I'm hoping to sneak in some writing time. Last month was all about editing, and I need to write.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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8. St. Louis Literary Award

       The St. Louis Literary Award has a decent list of previous winners, and they've now announced that Noted Writer Michael Ondaatje Named Recipient of 2016 St. Louis Literary Award.
       He gets to pick it up on 6 October.

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9. Lingo

In basketball, there is a hoop
Through which an orange ball
When arcing, in a graceful loop,
May very likely fall.

A candidate, in quite a gaffe,
Mistakenly said “ring”
Instead of “hoop;” on his behalf,
Attention it did bring.

But notoriety is not
Considered as a plus
And lack of sporting lingo’s what
Makes him not one of us!

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10. Bird in a Cage review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Frédéric Dard's 1961 novel, Bird in a Cage.
       This is only due out -- from Pushkin Press, in their Vertigo imprint -- in June (in the UK) and September (US), but a Frédéric Dard sighting in English ? in a translation by David Bellos ? no way you can hold me back.
       In my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction (just out -- but you already have your copy, right ? if not ... get it at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, etc.), I noted that Dard (especially in his San-Antonio incarnation): "never stood much of a chance in English translation", as they've tried some odds and ends over the decades but nothing ever really took -- but Pushkin Press is having a go with several of his works, and with translators like Bellos (David freaking Bellos ! who is always up for a translation-challenge) maybe he stands a chance after all.
       As a reminder of where translation-into English stands, however, note that this (and quite a few other) Dard titles appeared in ... Iran (yes, that Iran) before they have in English: see e.g. ‘The Elevator’ of Frédéric Dard in Iran (or the more extensive Persian report -- and, yes, that's this title), as well as “Novels of the Night” in Persian Translation (with nice cover-images) at the International Crime Fiction Research Group.

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11. Animation Can Make Anything Interesting, Even This Overpriced Samsung Fridge

Moonbot created a short about a fridge that has been viewed millions of times.

The post Animation Can Make Anything Interesting, Even This Overpriced Samsung Fridge appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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12. Celebrity Names Scramble

question marksUnscramble the Celebrity Names!

Can you unscramble the letters to figure out the names of these celebs? You should recognize a lot of these famous people from their STACKS interviews!

Male Celebs:

  1. Cjak Frifog
  2. Narka Abarr
  3. Acje Nnomar
  4. Rhaorisn Dfor
  5. Kacj Lckab

Female Celebs:

  1. Voed Maceonr
  2. Yzdneaa Lconema
  3. Wnroa Hlanbcard
  4. Alaur Amanro
  5. Npeyto Islt

Are you stumped? Here are the answers:

Male Celebs:

  1. Jack Griffo
  2. Karan Brar
  3. Jace Norman
  4. Harrison Ford
  5. Jack Black

Female Celebs:

  1. Dove Cameron
  2. Zendaya Coleman
  3. Rowan Blanchard
  4. Laura Marano
  5. Peyton List

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13. ‘Zootopia’ Overpowers ‘Ratchet and Clank’ Debut

The ninth weekend of Disney's "Zootopia" outperformed its new competition, "Ratchet & Clank."

The post ‘Zootopia’ Overpowers ‘Ratchet and Clank’ Debut appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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14. All the joys of city life

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15. Uninteresting Scenes

Question: I'm working on a story that I've been outlining for a while now. I've started chapter 1, and my protagonist starts alone in her room, woken up

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16. अजब गजब नाम और मेरे मन की बात

अजब गजब नाम और मेरे मन की बात अगर मैं क्रांति, आंदोलन, संघर्ष, भूख हडताल ,नेता की बात करुं तो आपको लगेगा कि मैं आज राजनीति की बात कर रही हूं पर नही ये एक परिवार में बच्चों के नाम हैं .. जी हां, मध्यप्रदेश के रहने वाले समाज सेवी मुन्नालाल ने अपने बच्चों के […]

The post अजब गजब नाम और मेरे मन की बात appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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17. Manifesto for May

  • I will read what I want to read when I want to read it regardless of length. 
  • I will not allow the "need" to have a certain number of reviews to post keep me from reading the long books that I love and adore.
  • I will let myself abandon books that I'm not liking even if--maybe even especially if--they are review copies. (Why do I feel the need to keep reading?!?!)
  • I will be sensible at the library and not bring home twenty new books each weekend. I will try.
  • I will not automatically renew everything that is on my library card. I will be sensible and try to return the items I'm not going to be reading within two weeks.
  • I will make time for people and be thankful to be in the moment.
  • I will prioritize sleep over reading and blogging. Or try to at least.
  • I will create more top ten lists for the blog.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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18. Beijing Here I Come!!!!

Ages and ages ago, I was chatting via email with author Julia Jarman. We talked about this and that, then she mentioned that she had been invited to Beijing, to visit an International School, but she wasn't very keen to go. She thought it might be a little scary in China on her own, so she was thinking of turning them down. Purely as a joke, I quipped that she should ask the school if they wanted an illustrator too, then we could go together. Which is how it began.

Over a year later, Julia and I have visits booked at 4 different Beijing schools - 7 day's work - and we will be there for just over two weeks. Quite an adventure. I imagine that it will be very hard work, a bit like World Book Day week with knobs on, but I do like new and interesting experiences, plus we will get a few days at the end to explore. Of course, I'm hoping I'll have enough energy left over to sketch a bit too.

I have been to China before, but a very long time ago. In 1988, I back-packed around the north of China for 6 weeks, with a friend. It is probably the single most challenging, but also exciting thing I have ever done. That's when these sketches were done.

Apart from sights like The Forbidden City, I can't imagine that there will be much that is recognisable about Beijing now. Things were still very traditional at that time and there were certainly no gleaming, glass structures. It will certainly be fascinating to see the changes for myself.

We are due to fly out mid September, which I fully expect to be here before I know it. Yeehah!

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19. Aarden Entertainment -Atlas Comics -The End Of The

This is a "bit" of a re-post.  I write "bit" because I've added a lot to it!  More covers to make those who like their text broken up with eye-candy.  But since this is about comics how could I not include covers?

And if you haven't checked out Tales from the Kryptonian you ought to. Subzero just did a very nice posting on French comics so plenty of covers there.

Let us begin the Reverend Hooper's Sunday Sermon!
Back in March, 2011, I announced, with all the overly excited boyish enthusiasm of an original fan, that Atlas Comics(Seaboard Periodical)  was back!  If you missed the article here it is:

Atlas Is Back! You DO Remember Atlas??

Some thirty-five (thirty-five??) years ago I was living in a caravan between Ramsgate and Margate, Kent.  Don’t ask why –hush-hush- but it got boring.  Walks down to look at the Hoverport and the very noisy hovercraft coming in and out, listening on a little transistor radio to pirate radio station "Mi Amigo" and shopping trips into Ramsgate.

I picked up a few very cheap comics but not much since there ain’t that much storage space in a caravan!  I walked into a newsagents next to Woolworths in the High Street.  There were comics I had never seen before –Atlas. Hang on, wasn’t that a former Marvel Comics company name?  Had they gone back to using it?  I grabbed a bunch of the comics and itsy bitsy teensy-weensy brother Mike and I hoofed it back home.
Turned out this was not Marvel. And the characters were almost British in their anti-heroic way.
Firstly, there was Tiger Man (alias Dr Lancaster Hill). I suppose you want to hear about this so...

Dr Hill was working at a medical clinic in Zambia when he injected himself with the chromosome that gives a tiger its strength and speed and it  transforms him. Dr Hill now has abilities on a par with the great cat.  Dr Hill returns to New York City he meets up with his sister, pleasant enough?  Oh, come on –this is comics! Dr Hill’s sister is shortly thereafter robbed and murdered by two criminals working in a rodeo. Adopting the identity of Tiger-Man, he tracks them down and kills them.  Tiger Man’s gloves also sport razor sharp claws –very pre-Wolverine or even my own Celtic hero the Badger.

In the black and white Thrilling Adventure Stories #1, the gore factor is much higher –the criminal boss he goes up against is eaten by piranhas!  I think I re-read this Ernie Colon fest several times the first day.  As I recall, Brother Mike giggled.
I love Tiger Man and at least his origin is not as odd as the UK Tiger Man’s! But having said that, every comic in Africa from (believe-it-or-not) Tarzan, Gara, the UK Tiger-man and others encountered tigers in Africa. Now there is something I'll be delving into at a future date in a BTCG comic.

Then, returning to Atlas, there was of course, The Tarantula. Or, as he was known before he went all "arachno", Count Eugene Lycosa.  You see, a European nobleman, an ancestor of his, was cursed by a witch burned at the stake.  This cursed passed from generation to generation making them “were-spiders.”  

European nobility and their weird ways, heh?
Anyway, the 1970s Count Lycosa would transform into the were-spider but tried everything to avoid taking innocent lives. Instead he focussed on the worst criminals and scum around -and all that entails.  “Oh, a Spider-man rip-off!” you say. Uh-uh; as The Tarantula, Lycosa was a predatorand would eat human victims.

And Pat Boyette was the artist –I just don’t think it could have been any better. I’d been a Boyette fan due to his Charlton work.  This was all exciting stuff. I mean, Boyette drawing a were-spider I was in seventh heaven!

Screeches of “Ernie Colon rocks!” came with the story of Matthew Dunsinane, an infamous highwayman in colonial America in the 1740s.  Dunsinane hid his identity behind the mask and persona of the Grim Ghost. However, after robbing the coach of Lord and Lady Braddock in 1743, Dunsinane’s luck ran out when the beautiful Lady Braddock lures him into a ”honey-trap”  and he was captured and unmasked. Just three weeks later he is hung by the neck until dead…then the story really picks up.

For Dunsinane’s soul went straight to…HELL!  And there he is met by the Fallen Angel himself. Old Nick. Behelzebub—oh, you’ll know all that. Anyway, Satan offers Dunsinane a choice of suffering in purgatory for all eternity or -here it comes- he can return to the world of the living and harvest evil souls for him.  Hmm, red-hot pokers up the jacksie for all eternity or…? Dunsinane chose to harvest evil souls.
And so, Dunsinane finds himself in 1970s New York where Satan thinks he can make a good start in his Grim Ghost persona and, riding a jet-black flying horse and carrying a brace of spectral pistols, off Dunsinane goes.

Oh, Satan apparently has a black sense of humour.  Dunsinane is forced to work with non-other than the treacherous harlot Lady Sarah Braddock!



His greatest foe was the demon Brimstone, who sought to topple Satan and rule Hell in his place.

The usual anti-hero action was underway when Dunsinane found himself in the middle of a Hellish uprising.  The demon Brimstone wanted to topple Satan and looked in a strong position and made some interesting offers.  The Grim Ghost sided with …SATAN!?!  I know.  That’s what I thought. Can you believe it?

Man, I still take those issues out every-so-often and Colon’s work just looked..luscious.

Wulf The Barbarian and the origins of the character are explained by The Atlas Archives thus:

”…On a nameless world in a forgotten time…” there lived a man called Wulf. Orphaned 10 years ago when his parents, the king and queen, were slain in an ambush staged by trolls in the service of an evil sorcerer, Wulf has spent the last decade training for the day he would return to claim his birthright.

After his trainer/mentor is killed by the same troll who killed his mother 10 years earlier, Wulf avenges his mother’s death, reclaims his father’s sword from the slain troll, and begins his long awaited trip home. As Wulf rides homeward with the intent to raise an army to raid the evil sorcerer’s lair and free his hereditary kingdom, he encounters many magic-induced obstacles conjured by his foe.”

More of a sci fi character to start with was astronaut Ed Tyler -The Phoenix. 

After  months on board the "Threshold 1" space station, the three-man crew were forced to abandon ship after an air-leak.  The escape shuttle made a three-point emergency landing (Here, There and Everywhere!) in the Arctic –Tyler was thrown across the ice and left near to death. 

However, Tyler was saved from freezing to death by the Deiei, an alien race that had been monitoring mankind for years from within a secret hidden base in the frozen north.  This was no real act of kindness since the Deiei feared that a rescue party might discover their presence.

Tyler awoke to find himself a prisoner rather than a guest and the truth was soon revealed to him. The Deiei, it seems, had been involved in the evolution of the human race but had become ashamed at the failings of humanity –war, etc..

So what do a bunch of self-righteous aliens with a god complex decide to do?  They planned to quite literally wipe the slate clean by destroying humanity.  Tyler could not be allowed to go free and expose them, the Deiei planned to keep him captive for the rest of his life. However, as such pains-in-the butt aliens tend to do, especially when they think they are superior, they ruled Tyler to be harmless and left him unguarded. The resourceful astronaut managed to steal a space suit and arm himself with “atomic transistors” –and then he made his escape.
Tyler reached the nearest human population centre which happened to be Reykjavik, Iceland, hours later.  Here he discovered that the Deiei were causing the very earth beneath the city to collapse using nuclear particles. No self-respecting human could just stand back and watch so Tyler raced back to the alien base to stop this attack. The Deiei were having none of this interference and especially not from a human using their technology. 

It was the ensuing fight which set off an nuclear blast that destroyed the aliens’ headquarters. Tyler then returned to Reykjavik to help the survivors and it was here that the media dubbed him the “Phoenix,”  risen from the ashes of the city. Meanwhile some Deiei survivors, and they were really teed off and swore revenge; they would kill Tyler and then destroy the human race.

Tyler -The Phoenix-  was attacked by a Deiei spaceship a short while later, a distraction of sorts (if such superior entities felt they needed one) as the main force of Deiei craft headed for New York.  Phoenix survived the attack and learned of the armada and headed off to intercept it. After a fierce battle the alien Deiei fleet was destroyed and Phoenix was triumphant (oh, and New York was saved, though I’m guessing that you guessed that, right?).

Tyler then had to think about his newfound role in life –he was now a protector and example to mankind.  He decided to lead humanity from the evil path the Deiei predicted they would follow. Tyler dedicated himself to saving Mankind as The Phoenix

Then The Phoenix became…The Protector and got a more super-hero style costume. Why? Well, he was not the only character to adopt the super hero style but the change in this case involved more aliens.  Tyler felt guilt-ridden about the near destruction of Reykjavik and New York and basically breaking down since he felt Man had no chance to survive the further onslaught of the Deiei.  He decided to fly into space and commit suicide.

Tyler awoke to find himself aboard an alien space station.  He was badly burned and his face swathed in bandages, he was not a happy bunny as he was taken to meet his alien rescuers.  This time, however, things were not so sinister. The aliens called themselves the “Protectors of the Universe”  and had been behind the Deiei monitoring of Mankind’s development.  This race was also disappointed by Mans development but unlike the Deiei, bless them, they were willing to give us a chance.

The alien leader, the Magus, declares that Ed Tyler would be solely responsible for Mankind’s shot at redemption. Tyler is given new powers and a new face and given the name of The Protector before being sent back to Earth to redeem mankind or it would be destroyed.  Two-faced aliens!

Phoenix/Protector was not as anti-hero or gory but there was, as far as many were concerned, a controversial aspect.  Helping to save Man from evil, dying and being resurrected to help redeem mankind…holy –!  Ed Tyler was Jesus-like!!  That argument still continues today amongst fans old enough to remember the series though that period also spawned another “saviour” in comics –Marvel’s Warlock!
But there was also The Brute, wonderfully drawn by none other than the original JLA artist, the great Mike Sekowsky!  I loved this book, too. Not really the Hulk but you could see what Atlas was aiming for. The Destructor and Morlock 2001 and the barbarian Iron Jaw -other great characters and it might even be argued that with Morlock, Atlas were aiming for a character similar to The Heap, Swamp Thing or Man-Thing.  

Lesser remembered characters but still great were The Cougar,a stunt man who gets into costumed action, the Dark Avenger, Rich Buckler's Demon Hunter, Manstalker, Scorpion -created by Howard Chaykin as a 1930s adventurer but with the third issue Chaykin was gone and a costumed character replaced the adventurers outfit. And, naturally, the Bog Beast.

But who or what was Atlas Comics, or Seaboard Periodicals. The UK had no really wide-spread fanzines back then so it took a while to filter through.  The Atlas Face Book pages cites Wikipedia:

Atlas/Seaboard is the term comic-book historians and collectors use to refer to the 1970s line of comics published as Atlas Comics by the American company Seaboard Periodicals, to differentiate from the 1950s’ Atlas Comics, a predecessor of Marvel Comics. Seaboard was located on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York City.

Marvel Comics founder and Magazine Management publisher Martin Goodman left Marvel in 1972, having sold the company in 1968. He created Seaboard Periodicals in June 1974 to compete in a field then dominated by Marvel and DC Comics. Goodman hired Warren Publishing veteran Jeff Rovin to edit the color comic-book line, and writer-artist Larry Lieber, brother of Marvel editor-in-chief Stan Lee, as editor of Atlas’ black-and-white comics magazines. Lieber later became editor of the color comics following Rovin’s departure. Steve Mitchell was the comics’ production manager, and John Chilly the black-and-white magazines’ art director. Goodman offered an editorial position to Roy Thomas, who had recently stepped down as Marvel Comics editor-in-chief, but Thomas “didn’t have any faith in his lasting it out. The field was too shaky for a new publisher.”

You can find the Wikipedia entry here:

The Atlas Face Book page is here (though there is little there):

The best place to go on the net is The Atlas Archives which has a fuller history and explains why the Atlas logo was altered to be less “up yours, Marvel!”:

Interestingly, there were some larger format anthology books and me being a horror fan....well, Devilina and Weird Tales of the Macabre I had to get! Black and white with grey washes -rather like some of the Marvel mags of the time.

"Illustrated stories of female-filled fantasy"....behave yourselves!

John B. Cooke also wrote a terrific article on Atlas for Comic Book Artist #16, which you might find near impossible to get in the UK/Europe but the item “Vengeance Incorporated” is reprinted on The Atlas Archives site.

So then came the death of Atlas (Seaboard) and we had to wait until the New Atlas arrived.  We were promised a return to past glories. Excellent!

I had the new books on order and Tony Isabella was back to writing comics!  I had hoped they stayed true to the characters origins back in 1974/1975 Atlas Comics and their dark anti-heroes were some 10-15 years ahead of their time, though Archie Comics "Red Circle" in the 1980s broke a few taboos before it, too, faded away and then DC and Marvel were hailed as the "innovators"!  

 The company was setting out to do what DC did years later with The Dark Knight Returns and The Watchmen. I was anxious to see what these new versions were like and how they panned-out.

I hoped this would be good.
I even kept my fingers crossed that the original books might be brought together in a collection -rather like the Essentials or DC Showcase Presents format- because the comics I had wouldn't suffer more thumbing-through!

Various reasons were given as to why Atlas was so short lived in the 1970s but I hope this incarnation would continue much longer…if they were good!

The art shown didn’t look so bad and being a big fan, like many other fans, I thought “YEAH!”

Well, to be honest, the artwork by Kelley Jones on The Grim Ghost was so poor that my one time favourite character wasn’t even worth bothering with. It was AWFUL. Not just down to personal taste either; I exchanged a few emails with die-hard 1970s Atlas fans who have simply cancelled their standing orders for the book.  Tony Isabella and Stephen Susco’s story and plot is quite ponderous and at issue 6 all I’m thinking is that I’ve wasted valuable money.

Jim Krueger/Brendan Deneen and Dean Zachary’s work on Phoenix has me divided.  The art was okay to a degree. It was far better than in Grim Ghost.  But I started getting bored of the whole “He’s dead….now he’s alive again….now he’s dead…” you get my point. It seems to be getting absolutely nowhere and I keep hearing comments such s “great art” but story?  

there was no "hook" to catch the reader.  Looking at the  issues again recently, I realise the art was not great but still passable.  The story/script is as bad as I thought. Some times, if you leave a gap of time between reading something and go back you can look at it and see that you may have been wrong.  Sadly, not with this one.
The hit comic has been Wulf.  Now stranded on Earth, Wulf is written by Steve Niles who seems to understand how to write a story and plot things properly!   The art by Nat Jones is gritty and nice. The colour work by MAI works well. Hey, they re-introduced Lomax NYPD and then…Iron Jaw!  This book was going great guns.

However, there was a "fly" in the Atlas ointment.  You could read all these titles in ten minutes -that is all three titles in ten minutes in one sitting.  There are 22 pages per issue BUT Grim Ghost and Phoenix had little substance to them. The two main titles of the 1970s Atlas were reduced to being not "B" listers but "Z" listers.

Perhaps these titles were a bit light-weight because they were merely establishing things before the rumoured "Big Event".  Yes, I was clutching at straws even then.
Then we got to Atlas Unified -the “Big Event”.
That mummy on the cover above is the Grim Ghost. I just had to say "WTF??" out loud in the shop when I saw it.  And, fer feck sake -and American artist could not draw a World war 2 US Army uniform? There are only several thousand references online and lords know how many in books.

A few people noticed something about the "Big Event" book.  Only 22 pages -so just a regular comic. I’m not sure if the thick paper they printed on was supposed to make us think there is more? It was the theory going around at the time anyway.  As a writer, Tom Peyer has produced  a story trying to spin an air of mystery but it is just a confused mess and it just is not helped by the absolutely awful  art of Jimbo Salgado.  Anatomy -out the window.  Very basic art with as little background as possible which ain’t helping to hide the art flaws

In all honesty I just opened the book. Looked at it.  Closed it.  Opened it again. Didn’t help. Just very bad art. This is what us Atlas fans were built up to expect to be the event.

Oh. And Phoenix dies again. Permanently. But he’d be alive again soon so do not worry.

I noticed the list of characters from the inside front cover: Kid Cody.  Wulf.  Phoenix. Kromag The Killer.  Scott Galland (who?? I have no idea who this is so I’m guessing a new character). Sgt Hawk.  Vicki.  Luke Malone: Manhunter and, of course, the Grim Ghost.  I think some of these are the badly drawn quartet on the last page of the book?

I just got the book out again. Yes, the artwork is BAD.

If I didn’t like the Grim Ghost in his own book I hated the character in Unified. For one thing he now seemed to be a mummy -there just simply were and are not enough "WTF?!" to cover this.

At $2.99 (which UK stores charged as £3.00 so I was paying more than a US reader) I was robbed.  If this was supposed to be the biggest ever event in (New) Atlas Comics history then all I can say is I was not surprised so many were jumping the Atlas fan-ship.  Talking to UK store owners as well as fans in the US, I learnt that a lot of standing orders on the regular titles and for Unified have been cancelled. Sadly, there are some who were quite happy with the art which is very, very sad.

In the 1970s Atlas had great artists and writers but lasted little over a year.  I foresaw, on CBO, the new Atlas going as well.

Ernie Colon was the artist who made The Grim Ghost such a hit originally -his art just oozes style.  And he is STILL working today:

So why didn’t the new Atlas owners pull him on board? Please don’t tell me it’s because they would have had to pay more?

And, to relaunch it, why didn’t they get Sal Almendola to draw The Phoenix  as he did in the 1970s?

If these characters are so great and “needed reviving” why then try smothering them to death??

You know, I shouldn’t care but I do.

This return had so much promise but I see myself cancelling standing orders. What is worse is that there are good amateur artists out there who could have done a far better job on both Unified  and Grim Ghost.

I really, really reallywanted Atlas to succeed and be with us a long time but if they made it to 2013 I’d have been very shocked.

I was expecting to hear about cancellations which would have been sad.  I think the bosses need to sit down, look at those 1970s comics again and re-think.  Thirty years later the original Atlas series’ are far superior in both story and art compared to the modern incarnation.


Well, as it turns out I was right.  Again. Although cover art for six Atlas Unified books was released along with some story details that made it sound almost like DCs Crisis on Infinite Earths, the series never got to issue 3.

Everything went quiet.  No one from store managers to distributors could give a definitive "the next issue will be out in---"  And fans thought the Atlas boss was giving them the runaround.  We then heard "These are not the 1970s Atlas characters but re-imaginings". "WTF?" time again. Why, if these were much loved characters that Aarden were "bringing back" did they have to be "re-imagined"?

I was in contact with Jason Goodman and even made a few suggestions -hey, why not? I was told "this" then told "that" and last I heard everything was set for a revival..two years ago?

I'm not sure what the problem was but if you want to revive the 1970s characters it makes sense to make them the 1970s characters and get the creative teams back.  It just looked like the whole New Atlas was produced on the cheap.

It was a sad little revival but it could be successful but you have to be true to the originals.


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20. Exploratory Notebooks

Beginning to think about Exploratory Notebooks and easing into a research writing unit.

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21. so, these arrived the other day...

well done, Society6. well done.

you know, it's always such a rush to see my finished paintings on products such as tote bags, wall clocks, tech cases, etc. really. it never gets old. to say it's rewarding is well, an understatement. NOTHING makes me happier than painting/drawing. COUNTLESS hours go into building up a painting....from the initial sketching process to the layers of prep work for the canvas and then the of course adding the COLOR with layers of acrylic. every single brush stroke is a joy to make. then, to see it all done is overwhelming. (i must confess, i cry sometimes when i finish a painting...there's just SO much emotion and passion that i put into each and every single one. finishing one is definitely bittersweet...whether it's a commission or just one that i've painted that will sit in my studio until it sells one day). so back to Society6 and the A-MAZ-ING printing job they do....

the above pic shows the tote bag (sized at 16x16) and the really awesome "carry all pouch" (as they call it-available in THREE sizes-this is the medium). love love love how these turned out. so true to the original painting (which is FOR SALE-contact me if interested)...just lovely.

also ordered a few mugs for Mother's Days gifts that impressed me as well (pic coming soon). they have everything from wall clocks to throw pillows to duvet covers to stationary cards. click on over here to the homepage and check out some other really great artists and their products. you won't be disappointed.

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22. Picture Hooks Conference 2016

One of the deciding factors in choosing the University of Edinburgh was Picture Hooks. While not run through the Uni, several tutors from the Uni are heavily involved with this illustrator-focused children's books mentoring scheme. When I learned about it, I knew these were my peeps. So, I was thrilled to be able to attend the recent Picture Hooks Conference in Glasgow.
     Glasgow is a train ride away to the west. It takes about 1 1/2 hours give or take, so the day began early. I walked to Waverly Station, which is about five minutes from my flat. From there, the whole world opens to you.
Several of us met up to ride the train together - a gang of children's book enthusiasts. From the left are fellow classmate (fc) Nadee, Nancy French, (fc) Catherine, our hosts, author Vivian French and Lucy Juckes of Jenny Brown Associates, and (fc) Boris.
Once in Glasgow (my first time!) we made the quick walk from the train station to the CCA - Glasgow Center for Contemporary Arts. It's a groovy industrial building that has been converted into a creative space full of galleries, lecture halls and a delicious cafe.
Truly, there wasn't much time for sight seeing, but I did get a shot of this cool art deco building on the way there.
The lecture room filled quickly with friends from the UoE College of Art, and other interested folks. Lucy and Vivian gave a warm welcome, and the day began.
The first speaker was Tessa Strickland of Barefoot Books. She gave great, practical information on publishing, including numbers and the variations in the US vs UK markets, which I found fascinating.
     She was followed by author/illustrator Joel Stewart, who discussed his process and the animation project The Adventures of Abney and Teal. I especially enjoyed his Q&A when our tutor, Jonny Gibbs, asked him about his struggle between Observational and Imaginative drawing. This is something I struggle with as well, so I listened closely.
     Next up was Andrea McDonald, Editorial Director at Penguin Random House UK. She also gave a great talk, yet with a completely different focus from Tessa's. She talked about the work that went into editing and rounding out storylines. I found her insights completely enlightening, and learned a lot from her. One of my biggest take-aways was when she suggested to "Write a book that makes the parent seem like a really good actor and hero for their child." Makes sense.
     The last speaker was Nicki Field of Jelly London, illustration/animation representatives. She spoke at ECA recently, but her message was still strong - do lots of things if you want to make a living at this!
     I enjoyed hanging out with friends and making new ones.

Photo © Astrid Jaekel
And the train ride home was fun as well. Although we were a bit more tired this time. This photo shows Lucy, (fc) Sara, our tutor Astrid, (fc) Boris, and (fc) Catherine.
And apparently Vivian and her daughter Nancy are famous for having their photos taken in this pose. Cute!
Didn't get any photos of me this time - Ha!
     At any rate, it was an illuminating day filled with like-minded peeps, good food, and Glasgow! I've since signed up for all the upcoming Picture Hooks Master Classes and look forward to those. I'm also excited about the mentoring scheme. I'm not sure I'll get in, but I look forward to trying!
     Meanwhile, you can read a great wrap-up article of the day at the Society of Young Publishers Scotland - CLICK HERE.

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23. Maxwell Atoms Reveals Lost Student Film That Inspired ‘Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy’

Watch the humble beginnings of the vintage Cartoon Network series.

The post Maxwell Atoms Reveals Lost Student Film That Inspired ‘Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy’ appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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24. Online writing in ... China

       At Xinhua Lyu Dong and Li Zhengwei report on Leafing through online literature for China's Harry Potter, as:

If China's film market is a flame burning bright, the country's online literature is increasingly its fuel.
       As I've (often, sigh) noted, the Chinese online-publishing industry (and it sure looks like an industry -- "Over 140 million Chinese were regularly reading online literature on their computers and smartphones as of December") is a greatly under-studied and -reported-on phenomenon.
       Maybe now more will take notice, if indeed:
Online novels have amassed hundreds of millions of readers, and now they are being tapped for their potential to reach an even broader audience once adapted into films.

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25. Hey Diddle Diddle

One of my excursions into egg tempera.  Not done for publication.

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