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Book Expo America 2012 just concluded here in New York, and once again it’s been an interesting trade show. Some stuff was normal, some was new, and overall, I felt it was a good show. My thoughts and discoveries follow.
One interesting, if under-reported, improvement was the “Power Reader” program. On Thursday, the last day of the show, when most attendees are winding down, BEA invited “power readers” to attend. Twelve local independent bookstores and the New York Public Library invited their best customers to pay $45 to attend the show on Thursday. What did they get? I quote:
Discover new and upcoming books before they hit the stands
See and meet your favorite authors
Talk to publisher about favorite books and authors
Mix and Mingle with other book lovers and share your passion for reading
Get autographs and advanced reads of unique books (quantities limited)
Get tons of giveaways from exhibitors. [62 different promos]
Get a FREE POWER READER SWAG BAG at registration, filled with goodies like:
An advance copy (before books even hit shelves!) of an upcoming title from one of today’s hottest authors, including Debbie Macomber’s Inn at Rose Harbor, Dean Koontz’s Odd Apocalypse, and Karin Slaughter’s Criminal
A special edition copy of Justin Cronin’s bestselling sensation The Passage
A sampling of recipes from beloved QVC host David Venable’s first cookbook, In the Kitchen with David®
A Janet Evanovich magnet
A Debbie Macomber keychain
A sneak peek guide with the early scoop on forthcoming releases from bestselling authors
When BEA moved to the middle of the week (Monday-Thursday, instead of Wednesday-Sunday), I thought that BEA would be planning a weekend “Book-Con” for the general public. After all, Reed runs BEA, and they’ve got experience running New York Comic Con at the same location. They could arrange booths so that a wall could be set up to reduce the size of the show (or they could fill booths vacated by trade exhibitors with retail exhibitors the next day). The possibility of a huge weekend crowd (if 100,000 attend NYCC, how many romance, mystery, and science fiction fans would attend a book show, especially to discover new titles and meet authors (just like Comic-Con!)?) might reinvigorate the show, encouraging lapsed publishers to return to the show (or risk ending up on a waiting list, like at San Diego).
Would it be hard for publishers to shift from trade to retail? Not really. Most of the mainstream publishers sell books at the American Library Association shows. Ever
I grew up reading Cracked and Mad magazines, hunting in various grocery newsstands for old and new issues and then checking my Velcro wallet for the cash and change to afford my habit. Even if I didn’t understand all of the jokes, I returned again and again for the film parodies--and much of this was due to artist John Severin, who passed away at age 90 last week.
Among his many illustrative talents, Severin excelled at capturing the likenesses of celebrities while adding his flair for caricature. Even when he played it straight, Severin’s characters expressed a herky-jerky sense of movement that suggested a smirk on behalf of the artist behind the pencil. He had ink in just about every mainstream comics publisher--from EC to DC, Marvel to Dark Horse, among others--and he continued to perfect and express his art until his passing; his latest work published only last month in Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever, a project written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi. It’s worth repeating that he was 90 years old and still producing professional artwork.
Last weekend, I re-read Lost and Gone Forever--very much a serious horror tale--and marveled at Severin’s ability to blend a Wild West setting with the supernatural. Mignola and Arcudi’s scripts call for Severin to bring to life Native American mythology and Victorian sensibilities, Buffalo-headed heroes and zombie hordes--and Severin excels. The dream sequences reveal themselves as legitimate surprises. Severin masks these scenes as part of the normal narrative until it’s too late for the reader to turn back and realize he or she has been duped. Severin’s work may be a bit sketchier than it was during his Cracked years (a 45-year relationship), but it’s still very much on par with his contemporaries. Much like my first read of Lost and Gone Forever, I could not stop partway through. I read it in one sitting because I had to--Severin, Mignola, and Arcudi? It’s a collaboration that dares the reader to blink, and I do not envy the artist who has to follow with the next Witchfinder installment.
For more on John Severin’s career (he had the awesome middle name of “Powers,” by the way), please see the AV Club, The Beat, and the farewell at The Comics Journal (which also features a hefty interview with the artist). Thank you, Mr. Severin. I wore out my wallet’s Velcro-adhesive with justifiable admiration.
Character Emotions MUST Spill Out into Big Actions
Characters, even supporting characters, should be bigger than life. No flat characters. Fiction demands round, “fleshed-out” characters. I’m working on a revision and I know this. Yet, when a friend read my revision, her response was that I needed big actions for my characters.
In the revision, I had noticed that the supporting character (Father) didn’t have much reaction to the main character (Laurel). I revised, adding in actions. But the actions were small: fist clenched, raising eyebrow, turning away.
Nothing wrong with those actions if Matt Damon was doing them on the big screen. There, the small actions would mean more. But think of him as Bourne and you’ll remember the BIG actions.
Revise for Emotions that Spill Out into Action
Revised: now, Father picks up a blanket and shakes it, snapping it up and down. He throws it onto a bed and when it falls off, he wads it up and throws it at the wall. It’s not the huge actions of an action-thriller, but in the context of the current scene, these are big actions. (Make sure you keep everything relative and in context!)
Even supporting characters need big actions. So, why didn’t I use them before? I think it’s because I’m a very restrained person myself. I keep a tight rein on emotions, not letting them spill out into big actions. That means for my characters, I need to push them to build emotions so strong that they MUST spill over into big actions.
And yes, the revision is much stronger. My early readers report that the Father is starting to come alive. Hello, Dad!
This parody of Marvel Super Heroes and Adventure Time aired on Cartoon Network’s MAD show last month. Even though its gone viral the past few weeks, it is just too good not to share here. Bravo Mad-men!
So many things that people do these days is a waste of time and energy. Like getting angry. Some people will get mad at the silliest things, but I guess it is hard to never get mad. Even I get mad sometimes. It’s a human emotion that is very hard to control, and usually gets worse if you try to control it.
Since there is no way, that I can think of, to never be mad then how about we look at ways to express your anger.
First off, yelling or raising your voice doesn’t help the situation. It almost always gets you more angry and probably gets someone else angry as well.
The thing that I do when I get mad is think about it. Think about what made you angry, and why it got you angry. Most of the time the answer to one of those questions will make you laugh. If another person made you angry then step into there shoes, metaphorically speaking, but if it helps to actually put your feet in there shoes go right ahead, just make sure there feet are out of them first. Most of the time the person that made you angry will have a good excuse, or they didn’t even mean to get you mad.
Life is short, don’t waste it doing something you might regret.
Wow, we’ve linked to some amazing Life Magazine photo galleries before, but here is a doozy:MAD Magazine: A Semi-Secret History with photos of MAD founder Bill Gaines from the files of current editor John Ficarra. Life made a few images available, but each is accompanied by Ficarra’s commentary on the site with even more history and insight.
Obviously being parodied in MAD was a badge of honor for this 80s TV cast.
Photo: courtesy of MAD Magazine
Robert De Niro and son visit the offices in the 80s. The gallery includes the Usual Gang of Idiots in the Alps, in France, in Hollywood and around the world…the MAD crew was always living the life. As rumpled and quirky as they appear, the Mad-men were icons of generation after generation of kids and celebrities. You think comics are cool now…but MAD was there long ago.
Photo: courtesy of MAD Magazine
Gaines, a notorious packrat, was the heart and soul of the operation not without his quirks, as one caption reveals:
“Back then, if you made a long-distance phone call, you had to fill out a little slip of paper that was part of what we called ‘Bill’s Bills Department.’ If it was a business call, no problem. But if it was personal, Bill would come around and collect that 73 cents it cost, or whatever it was. He was obsessive about this. Bill was as crazy and cheap as he was generous and kind. He would complain all day that no one would fess up to a 73-cent call, then because we were working late he would take us out and blow a thousand bucks on dinner. He loved big things,” says Ficarra. “He loved King Kong. He loved zeppelins. You can’t see it in this but the entire ceiling of his office was filled with antique zeppelins. He was a tremendous slob. Such an interesting guy, and one who could really cut through the bull.”
Photos courtesy of MAD Magazine
We couldn’t resist ganking this photo of Sergio Aragones on the 60’s show LAUGH-IN. Like we
"The Haunted Mansion Supplement appears to have been a supplemental publication to the internal newsletter Backstage Disneyland, and was produced to commemorate the 1969 opening of the Haunted Mansion. It is a tongue-in-cheek send-up of WED Enterprises, the company’s theme park design division that would ultimately evolve into Walt Disney Imagineering."
Insanity is a relative concept. What’s meat (normalcy) for one is insanity (poison) for another. Language shows how fluid the boundaries of madness are in human consciousness. One can rise from the abyss or fall into it depending on the caprices of the speaking community. Especially characteristic is the history of the adjective mad. (more…)