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<<August 2014>>
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1. Celestina Warbeck Bio Added to Pottemore

In honor of the fact that it's the famed magical songstress's birthday, J. K. Rowling has updated the "Chamber of Secrets" section of Pottermore to give fans more information about Celestina Warbeck. One of Warbeck's hit songs is also available to be listened to on the site. You can log into Pottermore to read all about Warbeck, and how she's one of J. K. Rowling's "favourite 'off-stage' characters."

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2. Week in Review, August 11th-August 15th

banner weekinreview 550x100 Week in Review, August 11th August 15th

This week on hbook.com…

August’s Notes from the Horn Book newsletter: five questions for Judith Viorst, back-to-school picture books, early chapter books, narrative nonfiction, and YA starring teen boys.

Reviews of the Week:

Read Roger:

Out of the Box:

Lolly’s Classroom:

2014 Summer Reading

Events calendar

See overviews of previous weeks by clicking the tag week in review. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to keep up-to-date on our articles!

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The post Week in Review, August 11th-August 15th appeared first on The Horn Book.

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3. YALSAblog Tweets of the Week – August 15, 2014

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between August 15 and August 21 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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4. BOOK WEEK~ Monkey Baa Theatre’s I Am Jack~ Launch of BEING JACK at ROOM to READ BENEFIT

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASooooo much happening – August is when kids’ authors & illustrators are on the move – across Australia – speaking at schools, events and spreading the LOVE of books.

I AM JACK with fanMonkey Baa Theatre is putting on a week of I AM JACK at Darling Quarter Theatre – nearly full houses, but this year I can’t do the post play Q & A as I’ll be speaking at schools. I love doing those Q & A’s with Tim McGarry.

There’s the Benefit for ROOM TO READ – reaching more than 9 millions kids in Asia and Africa. They won’t be all at the Benefit Sat 23 August – ha – but all funds go to building schools and literacy programmes and books.

Launch of my 4th and final BEING JACK – the 15 year journey creating the I AM JACK series.

Treat yourself and see the many amazing authors and illustrators in your schools and bookshops, libraries and events!


MonkeyBaa Theatre – www.monkeybaa.com.au

Room to Read – www.roomtoread.org

room-to-read-logo31BOOKINGS for 5 p.m. Sat 23 August. All funds go to Room to Read: monkeybaa.com.au/show/jack-room-read-fundraiser/

The post BOOK WEEK~ Monkey Baa Theatre’s I Am Jack~ Launch of BEING JACK at ROOM to READ BENEFIT appeared first on Susanne Gervay's Blog.

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5. Digital Inclusion

The Information Policy & Access Center has released their findings from a 2013 Survey about Digital Inclusion.

You can read the full report online.

Digital Inclusion is more than Digital Literacy, focusing on not just access but supporting users to engage in digital communities. The report explored the roles of public libraries in four main areas:

  • Quality access to digital technology
  • Access to a range of digital content
  • Services and programs that promote digital literacy
  • Programs that address key community needs, such as health and wellness and education, and that promote workforce development and civic engagement.

Overwhelmingly what we discovered is that libraries have increased access to computer workstations and faster internet and technology infrastructure like outlets and wireless printing.

  • All libraries offer access to online databases.
  • Almost all libraries offer homework assistance.
  • Most libraries offer access to e-books,
  • While over a quarter of libraries provide patrons with e-readers to check out.

The survey has also documented the innovations that are happening in libraries like Mobile Technology and 3D Printers which have been adopted in 1.5% of libraries.

What the survey highlighted is that while we are providing access to technology and content we are creating a different type of digital divide.

City Libraries are able to

  • make more upgrades to technology infrastructure like workstations and outlets,
  • offer an Average Internet Download Speed that is 5X faster than Rural Libraries.

Only 32.5 percent of rural libraries can support formal technology classes,

  • while 77.6 of city libraries offer formal computer skills training
  • 100% of city libraries surveyed reported that they offer either formal or informal technology training.

We know that rural communities have less access to resources, but as we work to support STEM in schools these gaps can put communities even further behind.

In addition to being an information center, many libraries serve as a central location where members can gather to foster community.

Over half of Suburban and City Libraries host community engagement events

while less than half of town libraries and less than one-third of rural libraries are able to engage and support the community in this way.

As more and more people connect online, the library can be one of the few places where the public can engage with members of the community, be exposed to diversity, and gain a better appreciation for and connect to their neighbors in a comfortable and relaxed environment. While hosting a book club, candidate forum, or gaming seems small, these can be one of the few places in the community outside of school where everyone has a chance to interact and participate.

Lastly Health and Wellness is an area we can all improve. With the move to National Health Care, and the confusion of much of the public I expected to see many libraries offering programs and support, but a mere 37% of surveyed libraries offered programs that assisted patrons in finding and accessing health insurance information.


The one area of Health and Wellness that libraries are addressing is promotion of a healthy lifestyle, but only 55% of libraries offer these types of programs and it drops to 44% for Rural Libraries.

We have made many strides since the last study was conducted in 1994, but we still have a long way to go. With so many free online courses available libraries have even more access to resources than they did before. We can partner with organizations like  Workforce Career and Job Training, CoderDojo, Code.org, Healthcare.gov, local health providers, and other community organizations to help serve patrons and create a more informed citizenry.

This is the first survey to provide detailed data about how libraries are serving the public. As we apply for grants to support the needs of our communities, I hope this survey helps frame the needs of our library users.

Ipac has framed the survey results in the context of the communities libraries serve. You can access a mapping tool online at http://digitalinclusion.umd.edu to explore the services available in your community.

All images from http://digitalinclusion.umd.edu/infographics

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6. August Kudos

jenniferReinherzcropped260It seems like I’ve been hearing from a lot of readers of this blog with good news. Some I can report now, Like Jennifer Reinharz who sent me this news:

The 83rd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition notified me last week that my blog post, “A Pleasant Passover” was awarded 5th place in the Inspirational Writing category. 

She said, “If it wasn’t for your blog, I wouldn’t have entered the contest!”

You can read it on Jennifer’s blog: http://redsaidwhat.com/2014/05/01/128/

karen fortunati260Then I heard from Karen Fortunati. She told me after seeing my post about the SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant, she submitted her Contemporary YA novel, The D-Day List, and WON!

Here’s a blurb about her book:

For seventeen-year-old Catherine Pulaski, life is intolerable with bipolar disorder and depression. There’s only one way out but before she can kill herself, she’s got to accomplish the one item on her D-Day List. And if she does, it may change everything.

I have a feeling I missed someone, so if I missed you please email me again. Thanks!

Here are some other industry changes. Many of you know the lovely Allison Wortche and Katherine Harrison. I was so happy to hear their news.

At Knopf Children’s, Allison Wortche has been promoted to senior editor while Katherine Harrison moves up to associate editor.

Phaidon has hired Cecily Kaiser as publishing director, Children’s Books and Meagan Bennett as art director for the division, both reporting to Deb Aaronson out of the company’s New York offices.

Jonathan Jao will join Harper on September 8 as vp, executive editor, reporting to Jonathan Burnham. Previously he was a senior editor at Random House.

Lauren Scobell has joined Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group as director, Swoon Reads.

You should get out your Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market by Chuck Sambuchino and make the changes.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Editors, Kudos, need to know, News, Publishing Industry Tagged: Jennifer Reinharz, Karen Fortunati, SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant, The D-Day List, The Pleasant Passover, Writer's Digest Annual Contest

7 Comments on August Kudos, last added: 8/14/2014
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7. Writer’s Digest Partners with BookBaby to Launch Blue Ash Publishing

New self-publishing imprint launching this month NEW YORK – Writer’s Digest, a division of F+W, A Content + eCommerce Company, announced today the Company has entered a partnership with BookBaby, one of the country’s highest-rated self-publishing service providers, to launch a new self-publishing division named Blue Ash Publishing. http://www.blueashpublishing.com/ “This new venture powered by BookBaby is grounded in what Writer’s Digest does best: educating writers,” said Writer’s Digest Publisher Phil […]

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8. Happy Birthday, Ginny Weasley!

August 11th marked the birthday of Ginny Weasley! Please join Leaky in wishing Ginny Weasley a very happy belated birthday.

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9. RIP Robin Williams

Actor Robin Williams was found dead in his house this morning, a suspected suicide.

For a little while there, WIlliams was the biggest movie star on the planet. Just listing his prominent roles is exhausting. From Mork from Ork to Garp, Good Morning Vietnam, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The Birdcage, Dead Poets Society, The Fisher King, Hook, Aladdin, Toys, Jumanji, What Dreams May Come, Insomnia, Happy Feet, and most recently, the Night at the Museum movies.

It’s a film legacy that’s unsurpassed.

At his height, Williams was simply the funniest man alive, a non stop barrage of improv and free association that was the Sistine Chapel of rapid fire humor. It was an act inspired by his idol, Jonathan Winters.


One of his most famous roles, of course was the Genie in Aladdin, a voice which took advantage of his singing and fast paced pop culture references. The animation itself was a reflection of his persona, and one of the most memorable Disney characters of the 90s.

Williams was a comics fan, long before it became fashionable, known to go to shops in the Bay Area with his kids. For years there was some talk of his appearing in a straight out comic book movie, but it never happened.

I know this seems like second guessing, but I sensed a sadness in him whenever I saw him on TV in recent years. It struck me that someone who was happiest at such a manic level would have a hard time adjusting to the gradual, inevitable slowing down that is the human lot. It’s a lot that isn’t innately sad or tragic. But some people handle it better than others. Williams’ drug use and depression was an open secret for year as well. I’m sure we’ll hear more about all that, and rehab and what might have been. He left behind a family and a wife, and I hope their privacy can be a little respected.


There’s always hope. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Call if you need help.

9 Comments on RIP Robin Williams, last added: 8/13/2014
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10. Interview: Marc Tyler Nobleman on Bill Finger and the Secret Origins of Batman

Photo by Kendall Whitehouse

For years, comics’ professionals have been hiding a well-kept Batman secret. Batman has been listed as being created by Bob Kane for decades, but the secret creator of the other half of Batman has been in hiding, signing bad deals and contracts, and being lost to the general public. Despite the immense popularity of Batman, only a fraction of people that enjoy the character have any clue as to who created the hero. Bob Kane has been listed as the sole creator of Batman in almost every piece of media that fans have devoured since his initial appearance in May 1939. Marc Tyler Nobleman has led a crusade to make it known that Batman was created by both Bob Kane and Bill Finger. He did so via a meticulously researched all-ages illustrated book entitled Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman. We caught up with Nobleman for an interview on the secret origins of the creation of Batman.

How do you think Bill Finger would react to the resurgence of different media finally coming together and seeing his contributions to Batman?

Humbly and gratefully.

What do you find interesting about the men and women who have created various superheroes?

With respect to the three I have written about (Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Bill Finger), I find it especially interesting is how these young men were building modern myths from unassuming apartments and (at least in Finger’s case) seemingly without a sense of their cultural significance. Finger’s creative influence could not be more disproportionate to the recognition he got for it in his lifetime. In other words, staggering influence, almost no credit for it.Bill the Boy Wonder - cover sketches 1 (six total)

Is there any information on Finger’s exact contribution to some of the other DC heroes and villains such as Green Lantern (Alan Scott) and Wildcat?

He wrote the first stories to feature both.

Have you studied the reactions of younger fans when they read the book? What are their reactions like?

Because I have the privilege of speaking in schools around the world (including Tanzania, Chile, and the United Arab Emirates), I regularly experience the reactions of fans both young and young-at-heart. It has been immensely gratifying to see how impassioned kids can be over what they perceive as an injustice to Bill Finger. Here’s one of my favorite projects in response to the book – kids pretending to be Bill’s only child Fred and writing a letter as Fred to Bob Kane: http://noblemania.blogspot.com/2013/11/letters-from-bill-fingers-son-to-bob.html. There are some profound thoughts in there.

Did you find any conflicting reports on the research of Finger based on a ‘he-said, she-said’ basis?

Other than the absurd amount of Batman aspects Kane originally took credit for but later attributed to Finger, no.

How did the collaboration with industry veteran Ty Templeton come about?

Having been a longtime fan, I emailed him to ask if he’d be interested. He said yes with more than a passing knowledge of Finger’s tragic career, and I loved that he was already passionate about the subject. My publisher (obviously) also liked Ty, so we were on.

Bill the Boy Wonder - title treatment - black on yellow Have there been any talks about adapting this story into a different medium?

Yes, daily – in my head. And quite often after I speak, someone in the audience will say “This HAS to be a movie.” I have had a few talks with film people. So far nothing has gotten past the exploratory phase but I am confident one day it will. I just hope I am involved!

Aside from the obvious accreditation being taken away from Finger, are you satisfied with the nature of comic books nowadays being more creator-driven among fans of the industry?

On one level yes, but I continue to hear stories of contemporary creators who have felt exploited by comics’ publishers. Certainly the Internet and the explosion of proactive fandom have done much good in the way of acknowledging the talent no matter what the publishers do or don’t do.

For more information, take a look at Marc’s blogBill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman is on sale now. Kendall Whitehouse shot the featured photograph seen at the top of the page.

0 Comments on Interview: Marc Tyler Nobleman on Bill Finger and the Secret Origins of Batman as of 8/11/2014 9:24:00 PM
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11. Japanese LB Covers

Just got copies of the mass-market Japanese version of Behemoth, shown here with Leviathan. (Goliath isn’t out yet, but will be in October!)

Love these covers.


The art for these smaller editions is by the same artist as the larger format, Pablo Uchida. Here’s his site, where he often posts the studies for his covers.

For example, the bigger format Goliath cover, with the studies bloew:



To bad novels don’t get alternate covers, like comic books sometimes do. It would have been cool to have seen all four.

More cool Levithan art is coming soon, including an incredible model of the Stormwalker.

And don’t forget, Afterworlds comes out in 43 days!

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12. YALSAblog Tweets of the Week-August 8

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between August 1 and August 7 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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13. Emma Thompson "Save the Arctic"

Emma Thompson (Professor Sybil Trelawney) has joined the Greenpeace "Help Save the Arctic" campaign. The campaign calls for legal protection of the arctic against deprivation by oil drills and industrial fishing. As Emma Thompson says on her petition, savethearctic.org/emma, "it is not to much to say our future depends on it". Harry Potter costar Emma Watson, showed her support for Emma Thompson's efforts by sharing a pic of her electronic signing Emma Thompson's Save the Arctic petition (as seen below) with the caption "GO EMMA T!!!! :) <3". When one signs the petition, they receive an automated email from Emma Thompson, written with her wit and humor, that reads: 

Dear -------,

Thank you so much for joining me by adding your name to protect the Arctic.

I don’t normally use the internet to communicate in this way, but on this occasion I made an extraordinary exception.

The Arctic is essential to all of us, and with your help we can make sure it is protected in perpetuity.

I wrote this message as a thank you for you, but feel free to pass it on to anyone you know who might also be interested in helping.


Very best wishes,

Emma Thompson

P.S. In spite of my allergy to social networking, I will be guest tweeting on @savethearctic. Please follow my journey there or at intothearctic.gp.

If anyone is interested in signing the petition, they may do so here, with a fine picture of Emma Thompson standing on the North Pole. One may also visit this site, to see the progress of how many signatures have been collected (six million thus far), as well as add their name to the petition.

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14. One Millionth Rider Boards the Hogwarts Express

Despite only opening last month, the Hogwarts Express ride at the new Diagon Alley expansion in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has already celebrated its one millionth rider:

Cheers from guests filled the air at Hogsmeade Station today as Universal Orlando Resort celebrated its one millionth rider on the Hogwarts Express – the iconic train that transported Harry Potter and his friends between Hogsmeade Station and King’s Cross Station in J.K. Rowling’s beloved series. To celebrate this magical milestone, nearly two hundred guests were given complimentary Butterbeer ice-cream.
In early July, guests began boarding the Hogwarts Express to travel between The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade in Universal’s Islands of Adventure and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida. The incredible journey, which requires a park-to-park ticket, combines powerful storytelling, live special effects, lifelike animation and state-of-the-art technology to take riders on the journey of a lifetime.

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15. Randy Queen is sorry so let’s move on to other things now


The other day we told you about artist Randy Queen going postal on a Tumblr that was mocking his art a wee bit. In a stunning example of the Streisand Effect, his attempt to quell criticism only opened him to more criticism. It should be noted that a comment on the above post by Jimmy Palmiotti suggested that we shouldn’t be to quick to rush to judgement, and indeed, in a Facebook post, Queen basically apologized citing stressful issues in his life:

Hey everyone,

Just wanted to clear up a few things that happened this past week. I have been having a very hard time in my personal life with the loss of my mother and my marriage having fallen apart and found myself in a very vulnerable and fragile state of mind. There were posts on the web criticizing my artwork that were brought to my attention and added to my stress. I reacted without thinking it through, but have now stopped, realizing my response was the wrong one to take. I am doing my best, each day, to get myself back on my feet and getting my life in a better place and realize now that I have just try to move on and get back to my art, the thing I find the most joy in these days. I want to thank those professionals, friends and family who have been giving me their support, understanding and love.

Thanks for listening.

~ R

So yeah, humans do things and then we move on. Let us forgive and forget and go back to making merry, and wish Queen the best for getting things in his life back on track. Above art from the Darkchylde site.

5 Comments on Randy Queen is sorry so let’s move on to other things now, last added: 8/9/2014
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16. News and notes — Brimpception, Potted Groot, A Brony Tale

A missed a lot of things in my inbox, but here are some of the best!


§ Brimpception. If you don’t know, never mind.


§ Hot Toys is making a Potted Groot, but alas, it is only available as a bonus figure with their regular Rocket and Groot set. But the good news is that the comes with an interchangeable Groot Angry Expression Face and a pair of Partially Clenched Palms. I see my work here is done. 

§ I managed to miss that a film called “A Brony Tale” is coming out on DVD on August 19th after a limited theatrical run. Directed by Brent Hodge (Winning America, What Happens Next?) it’s the first documentary in the “Morgan Spurlock Presents line and it travels to the 2012 BronyCon in NYC with actress Ashleigh Ball, who does several voices on the show. And here’s the trailer. 


I must admit when I heard about bronies the first time I though it was a joke, but now I know better. More info here.

2 Comments on News and notes — Brimpception, Potted Groot, A Brony Tale, last added: 8/9/2014
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17. New MG/YA Agent

Whitley Abell of Inklings Literary is looking for middle-grade and young adult books.


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18. J. K. Rowling Writes Letter as Dumbledore to Shooting Victim

Fifteen-year-old Cassidy Stay, who was the only survivor of a shooting that left her parents and siblings dead, received a letter and care package from J. K. Rowling following a speech she made just three days after the shooting, where she quoted Dumbledore. The speech went viral and J. K. Rowling reached out to Ms. Stay by writing a letter in the voice of Dumbledore:

At the memorial service three days after the horrific incident, Stay gave a speech and quoted Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. “‘Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light,’” she said to an audience of supporters. “I know that my mom, dad, Bryan, Emily, Becca and Zach are in a much better place and that I’ll be able to see them again one day.”

The tragic story and her use of Dumbledore’s words grabbed the attention of well-wishers around the world, and word appears to have reached Rowling. According to LDS.net and a Facebook page that wanted to set up a meeting between Stay and Rowling, the Harry Potter author sent an amazing care package.

“This afternoon, I talked to a friend of Cassidy’s who confirmed that J.K. Rowling did, in fact, write her a personalized letter from ‘Dumbledore’ (hand-written with purple ink),” the manager of the page wrote. “She was also sent a wand, an acceptance letter to Hogwarts with a school supply list, along with the 3rd book with JK’s autograph. I’m so excited and ecstatic that we were all able to make a difference! How wonderful.”

You can read more here. Many thanks to Hypable for the tip.

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19. SDCC 14: Becky Cloonan, The Killjoys of Moving…

By David Nieves

Since 1999 Becky Cloonan has been breaking down doors; whether they be from moving to new places or the ones every creator has to go through to make comics for a living. I had the overwhelming  joy of sitting down with her on the SDCC show floor last week. To no one’s surprise, I found her to be every bit the –best in the world– her poignant art style suggest.

We talked a little bit about her recent move back south of the wall. Becky has a genuine zest for life that would terrify the average person thinking about uprooting themselves to new surroundings. While she deals with the same angst of “where the grocery store is, the post office… trying to figure out my place in this neighborhood,” she finds inspiration and new contributions to the projects she’s in the middle of during her journeys.


Reflecting back on the dystopian opera that was True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys, a process that’s been over five years in the making. The original story inspired the My Chemical Romance album Danger Days: The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys which then turned back into the comic book.  Killjoy’s end result being a Mad Max story with so much heart that it makes the tears shed in the opening of Up seem like a prick from a rose throne. On the subject of if the group would ever come back to tell more stories in the Killjoy’s world, all Cloonan would say is, “never say never.” It does sound as though it will be quite sometime before that would ever happen due to Shaun Simon’s upcoming projects, Gerard Way’s new album, and her own recently announced Image book Southern Cross.

Our conversation steered towards the comic book industry in general. After starting by self publishing her own books in 1999, she’s excited by how viable self-publishing has become over the last ten years. Not only has this been a coo for creators, but she’s noticed how much its changed the readership of comics. Cloonan and Way recently signed at Meltdown Comics in L.A. she was thrilled by the fact that “the line was like 90% girls and they all had their comics to be signed.” Her thoughts about the on going hot topic women in comics; Cloonan takes a very humble approach on the matter. In her words, “As much as I feel like I don’t represent women in comics, I don’t feel like I can carry that flag cause it’s too heavy (laughs). I represent myself, but at the same time I love to encourage young girls to get into drawing comics, get into reading comics.”

Her outlook on the future of comics is as upbeat as the artist’s demeanor. Cloonan talked about how all the conversations and strides we take today will pay off ten years from now. The artist emphasized, “It’s going to be healthier, it’s going to be bigger and we’re going to see even more amazing comics.”

Listen to our entire conversation below to hear just how fabulous Becky is:

Becky Cloonan isn’t just the story of a female creator in comics. After spending some time with her you start to see that she’s the tale of a girl who wants to tell stories through a lens of her ever-evolving perspective while along the way encouraging those of us with the same fears and anxieties to pursue their passions. The industry is a much better place for having her and you just can’t say that about everyone.

If you’re one of the five people on earth who haven’t read True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys check it out in stores and through Dark Horse Comics. Becky’s new Image book Southern Cross will be available in stores this Winter.

2 Comments on SDCC 14: Becky Cloonan, The Killjoys of Moving…, last added: 8/4/2014
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20. YALSAblog Tweets of the Week: August 1, 2014

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between August 1 and August 7 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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21. #HPBTeensRead – write reviews, win prizes!

I recently joined Half-Price Books’ mailing list, and just found this in my inbox: You can click on the image for more info, and read the official rules here.

2 Comments on #HPBTeensRead – write reviews, win prizes!, last added: 8/3/2014
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22. J. K. Rowling and WB Form Harry Potter Global Franchise Development Team

In order to manage all upcoming and future Harry Potter related projects - such as the theme park expansions and the "Fantastic Beasts" films - J. K. Rowling and Warner Bros. have formed a Harry Potter Global Franchise Development team:

Warner Bros. Entertainment has conjured up the Harry Potter Global Franchise Development team, based in both London and Burbank, to “develop and execute a high-level strategic vision for the Harry Potter brand and its ancillary businesses,” Warner Bros. said Wednesday.

The move follows last year’s announcement that the studio had formed an expanded creative partnership with J.K. Rowling. It is a response to the continuing expansion of the Harry Potter franchise.

This includes, among other projects: a new film series in “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”; the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London — The Making of Harry Potter; the recent opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan; the expansion of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida; a suite of Harry Potter digital services, and products including J.K. Rowling’s own initiative, “Pottermore”; and a future Harry Potter stage play, which will open in London’s West End next year.

The team, which will work closely with Rowling’s people at The Blair Partnership, will be led by Josh Berger, president and managing director, Warner Bros. U.K., Ireland and Spain, who now adds president of HPGFD to his role. He will be supported by Polly Cochrane, based in London, and Paul Condolora, based in Burbank, who joins the company this week.

Berger commented, “With Harry Potter’s consumer touch-points continuing to grow and flourish, I am confident that this talented, cross-company global team will enable us to take full advantage of the many opportunities ahead — helping to bring Harry Potter in all its future incarnations to fans all over the world.”

You can read more here.

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23. The Hermit of Shooters Hill – An Interview with Steve Moore, Part 4

Here’s the fourth part of my interview with the late Steve Moore, with more to follow. The first, second, and third parts are already online, along with some explanation of how the interview came about.

Steve apologizes CU

PÓM: You mentioned that you worked with Dez Skinn at Fleetway House. How did you get on with him?

SM: It was okay at the time, though I’ve never really got on that well with men from the north of England. I’ve generally found them opinionated, pig-headed and sexist; on the other hand, I know they tend to think of us southerners as over-intellectual wimps. Both of these are completely clichéd generalisations, and I’m sure the first is no more true of all northern men than the second is of all southerners, but in my experience there seems to be a bit of a gulf in attitudes. So at Fleetway, relations with Dez were generally cordial, though occasionally a little caustic, and we weren’t actually working on the same magazine which meant we didn’t spend the whole day together. He was never someone I really wanted to actually socialise with, though. I tended to hang out with Steve Parkhouse and left all thoughts of Dez behind when I left the office.

On the other hand, my professional relationship with Dez, between writer and editor, was very close for several years and generally problem-free, and we worked together on House of Hammer, Starburst, Hulk Comic, Dr Who Weekly and, eventually, Warrior. At that point things started to go wrong, but until then he was another editor who’d accept everything I gave him with virtually no changes and we did a lot of stuff together, some of which, I like to think, was pretty good.

->PÓM: Didn’t you end up working for Dez as a freelancer, later on?

SM: Yes, I did work for Dez, but I can’t honestly remember how it came about. I’m pretty sure the first thing was House of Hammer, which was published by Thorpe & Porter (otherwise known as General Book Distribution or Top Sellers; the same outfit seems to have had a multitude of names and, as I mentioned, they’d also picked up the Brown, Watson name too). John Barraclough had ended up there after Target folded, and it’s possible he may have mentioned that he’d worked with me to Dez; but if not that it’s probable that Dez knew that both Steve Parkhouse (who also worked on HoH) and I were now freelance and, of course, we all knew each other from our days at IPC. So if Dez was looking for contributors, we would have been a natural choice. And as Dez moved on to other jobs, he just kept on offering work to the same stable of contributors, both writers and artists, that he already knew and had worked with.

–>The first issue of HoH was dated October 1976, so I’d guess we started working on it in the summer, or maybe a bit earlier. Looking back, I see that John Barraclough and Chris Lowder were mentioned as associate editors on the early issues, so it’s the same little clique that had first got together at IPC again.<--

I wrote a number of features in the early issues, despite the fact that there were far more competent film-journalists also working for the magazine, and Dez and I also took a day-trip to Elstree when Hammer were shooting To the Devil a Daughter, which meant another feature I got to write up, in issue 2. We did actually get on the set briefly, while they were filming (I only got round to watching it recently – dreadful movie), but we spent most of the time talking to special effects man Les Bowie, who took great delight in showing us how gory effects could be got with latex skin and artificial blood. A charming man who really seemed to enjoy his work.

The articles had my name on, but they weren’t so good at crediting the comic-strips, at least early on. I did quite a number of movie adaptations, where we were generally working from copies of the original scripts, plus photos; and also some of the short stories, ‘Van Helsing’s Terror Tales’.

Despite not having my name on it, I wrote the adaptation for Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires in issue 4, which, being a Hammer/Shaw Brothers co-production and a Dracula/kung fu mash-up, was an obvious one for me. It had some lovely artwork by Brian Lewis, who I was delighted to be working with, but it seemed the feeling wasn’t all that mutual: the single time I met him, he immediately complained that my scripts gave him too much to draw!

Issue 8 saw my first ‘Father Shandor, Demon Stalker’ solo story, with John Bolton artwork. Shandor had first appeared in Dracula Prince of Darkness, which we’d adapted in issue 6, though Donne Avenell wrote that (John had been the artist on that as well). I think Dez suggested the idea as a way of stretching the material, though obviously it would have been quite a while before we ran through all of Hammer’s horror films. He told me we could do the strip because, unlike in the Dracula movie where the name of the character was given in the credits as ‘Sandor’ (the correct Hungarian spelling), we’d be spelling it phonetically as ‘Shandor’, and that would make it okay. I took his word for this, though I never actually discovered what Hammer’s feelings on the matter might have been. The second story, again with John, appeared in issue 16, and a third in issue 21 … and, of course, we revived the character later for Warrior.

Other adaptations I did included Curse of the Werewolf (issue 10), Plague of the Zombies (13), One Million Years B.C. (14), The Reptile (19), Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter (20, with Steve Parkhouse doing the artwork, which was nice), The Mummy (22) and Brides of Dracula (27-28). From this level of detail, you’ll gather that my copies of HoH were actually accessible! I know I did a few of the ‘Terror Tales’, but these were frequently uncredited, so it’s a bit hard for me to remember which were by me. I think I wrote three or four of those.

I’m not quite sure why the title changed from House of Hammer to House of Horror with issue 19, and then to Halls of Horror with 21, but I suspect this may have been something to do with the contract with Hammer. Effectively, the magazine folded in August 1978 with issue 23, though Dez revived it as a ‘Quality’ publication in 1982, as a companion to Warrior. By then I was no longer writing for it, though, and the Brides of Dracula adaptation was a left-over script from the original series. The magazine finally folded for the second time in 1984.

I had a fair amount of fun on HoH, as well as getting a reasonable amount of work out of it. I found script adaptation really quite easy, and we had a good bunch of artists and writers, including John Bolton, Brian Lewis, Steve Parkhouse, David Jackson and Chris Lowder, as well as some more ‘old school’ writers like Donne Avenell and Scott Goodall. And that basically set me up as one of Dez’s main writers, when he moved on to Marvel UK.<-

PÓM: Did you find it easier working on your writing away from home, or did it make any difference?

SM: Frankly, this is a question I’ve never really had cause to think about before, and since 1973 I’ve pretty much done all my writing at home anyway. And when I still had family here, they always understood that I needed to work and left me alone. So, I think the first answer would be no, it wasn’t easier working away from home. But whether it was harder I’m not really sure. When you’re 23/24 and just starting out, you’re full of energy and enthusiasm, and that carries you through an awful lot … including, I suspect, having to deal with customers while you’re typing.

PÓM: Who else did you end up writing for at this time?

SM: Actually, my memory of the period around 1973/4 is a bit fuzzy. I suspect after Target folded may have been the period when I was writing for Mirabelle, and I’m not sure how long I continued writing Tarzan for Sweden. If I’d known I was going to end up doing this interview, I would have kept all those old account books!

The next major thing to come up was the first Kung Fu Annual, based on the TV series starring David Carradine. At the time there was a big Christmas market for hardback annuals, both things like the Beano Annual and books based on popular TV shows. I got the job on the recommendation of John Barraclough, who both knew of my interest in martial arts movies and my capabilities as a writer. I don’t remember who the editor on that first book was, but the publisher was Brown, Watson Ltd., which I rather liked, because formerly they’d been behind the Digit line of paperbacks that published a lot of the SF adventures I’d read in the early 1960s, though by now the company name had been bought up and was just part of the larger Thorpe & Porter conglomerate. That first Kung Fu annual appeared in the autumn of 1974, so I would have written it in the winter of 1973/1974, as there was always a fairly large lead-up time. It was 64 pages, with comic strips, text stories and features, and I wrote the whole book for a flat fee of £200. I was told later it sold a quarter of a million copies, and there was a Dutch edition as well. Of course, no one even thought of royalties in those days, but I did get my name on the book! It was the only annual I ever did get a credit for.

By the following year, John Barraclough had taken over as editor of Brown, Watson’s annuals, working from offices in Wardour Street, and that started an association that went on until 1986. After a few years, the Babani brothers, Brian and Peter, bought out the annual department from Thorpe & Porter and set themselves up as Grandreams Ltd., with offices in Kentish Town, but John continued as editor, I continued as main writer, and the annuals continued to look exactly the same.

That was pretty much my winter work taken care of, over those dozen years, though obviously I’d frequently be writing for weeklies at the same time. I’d get a call from John around September, and he’d tell me what we were going to be doing that year for publication the following autumn, and I’d generally get between four and six annuals to do, which would keep me busy until the spring. Sometimes I wrote the entire book. I’d nearly always write all the strips and text stories, while sometimes I’d do the features, and sometimes someone else would. If he wanted to include things like puzzle pages, they were definitely by someone else! In the end, I wrote 69 annuals for John, in whole or in part, doing things like Kung Fu, Planet of the Apes, The Bionic Woman, The Fall Guy, Knightrider, Dick Turpin, Sherlock Holmes, The Dukes of Hazzard, Battlestar Galactica and even some dreadful old rubbish like Supergran.

Usually for each annual I’d be writing three 8-page scripts and three or four 2,500 word text stories, though sometimes I’d link things up as serials, and do the strip as, say four chapters of six pages each, or link the text stories. By now, John just trusted me to give him what he wanted, so I pretty much handled things the way I liked. I remember by the time we got to the fourth Kung Fu annual he called me and said something like: ‘We’ve got to do it again, but we haven’t got the budget to include any comic-strips this time, so you can just fill up the 64 pages with whatever you like.’ Like I said, John wasn’t exactly a control freak.

The money wasn’t all that great (I think it was about £10 a page for strips, though by the time it got to the 1980s, I told John I couldn’t afford to work for that any more, and got an immediate pay-rise to £15), but there was a lot of work there, which made up. Even so, it had to be done quickly to make it economical, so I was often doing a story a day … though a ‘day’ was actually lunchtime to lunchtime. After lunch I’d start thinking about a story, and if it was a strip I’d make sure that by the time I went to bed I’d sorted out the plot, broken it down into frames and usually scribbled out the dialogue; then in the morning I’d type up the script, mail it to John, and then after lunch, start the whole process again. If it was a text story, I’d just sort the plot out in the afternoon, then write the story the next morning, straight onto the typewriter in one draft with no revisions at all. If it looked like I had too much plot, the action would suddenly speed up toward the end; if too little, it’d slow down! But generally, after a couple of years, I’d got things sorted out, and knew pretty well how much plot I needed to write a 2,500 word story.

We had some decent artists on those books, though frequently fairly early in their careers, including Paul Neary, Ian Gibson, David Lloyd, David Jackson and John Hudson. And I talked John into taking some Alan Moore cartoons for the BJ and the Bear annual. Even more unlikely, when it came to the ‘History of Magic’ features for the Mr. Merlin annual, I actually persuaded him to let me illustrate them myself!

If the TV programmes were already showing, I could just watch them, or if we were doing the annuals for the second or third time, there was no problem. More often than not, though, the programmes wouldn’t start showing until after I’d written the book, so then I’d possibly be taken to a little preview theatre in Wardour Street to see an advance showing of the pilot, or sometimes the only reference I’d have to work from would be a script and some publicity photos. Fortunately, though, I seemed to have a knack for picking out the essentials of the characters and what the show was about almost instantly (and perhaps even more fortunately, I had a very easy-going editor!), so I managed to get away with it. Knightrider was one of the shows where I only saw the pilot and, as it happened, I really didn’t like the programme very much, so I couldn’t bring myself to watch it when it started on TV … but I still wrote five annuals for the show, just on the basis of the pilot.

The worst case was writing the strip adaptation of the Roger Moore James Bond movie, Octopussy, which was published as a hardback annual by Grandreams, and as a magazine in the USA by Marvel. As usual with James Bond movies, the film company were incredibly secretive, so they wouldn’t let me have any production photos, and they wouldn’t let me take the script away either. Instead I had to go into their office in central London for three or four days running and sit there alone in a private room with the script, jotting down the essentials of the plot in a notebook. And that was all I had to write the script from … but I still ended up with the film company congratulating me on the job I’d done. Paul Neary drew the strip, and I’m not sure if he got any reference either, but everyone seemed happy, so we just moved on to the next project.

So, like I said, this went on until 1986, and that autumn the phone didn’t ring, and I was busy with other stuff, so I didn’t ring either, and that was the end of it. I never heard from John again, and have no idea what happened to him, though I occasionally think it would be nice to know. But I think the TV-based annuals had pretty much passed their sell-by date by then (the previous year I’d only done one or two), so even if I’d wanted it, there probably wouldn’t have been a great deal of work to be had anyway. At some point I’ll have to read some of that stuff again, just to see if it really was any good (or otherwise) after all.

PÓM: Tell me about those movie scripts you mentioned.

SM: As I said, it came about through my knowing Roy McAree, and I’m guessing it would have been about 1976, as I’d seen a few movies scripts by then, either from adapting them for House of Hammer, which was starting up around then, or from seeing them for reference to the TV-based annuals I was writing by then. The first explosive kung fu boom was starting to blow out by then, and Roy knew what I did for a living when I wasn’t goggling at gorgeous Chinese actresses, so one day I got a call from him telling me he wanted to set up his own production company, and was looking for someone to write a script. The deal was that there’d be no money up front, but if the movie was made I’d be on a percentage and, in terms of usual movie industry rates, quite a large percentage too. As far as I recall, I think he had some sort of basic plot idea or outline, which never actually had a title. It was just referred to as ‘Snutch’, which Roy derived somehow from ‘no such’ movie, as he didn’t want to give anything away in the trade. It was intended to be a vehicle for Wang Yu, which suited me very well as he was one of my favourite Chinese actors, and was going to be set in Iran (this was obviously before the Islamic Revolution of 1979).

There are basically two types of movie script. The first is a ‘first draft’ script, which describes the action and gives the dialogue, and is what most people present when they’re trying to sell something. And then there’s the ‘shooting script’, which has all the camera directions, such as ‘pan left’ or ‘tight close up’, which is usually written much later in the development process. Roy asked me to write ‘Snutch’ as a shooting script, so I said ‘sure’ and went away and wrote it. I’d seen at least one shooting script, and in the same way as with the annuals I seem to have a facility for picking up these sort of things, so I turned it in and Roy’s partner (whose name I forget) said ‘this is great … we can just give this to some monkey and he can get on with it’ (‘some monkey’ giving you some idea of his attitude to directors) and ‘where did you learn to write scripts?’ To which I could only reply: ‘Well, I didn’t …’ They told me to get a passport and prepare to fly out to Iran to check out locations, which frankly made me a little nervous, as it wasn’t quite clear who was supposed to be going with me.

This same partner had also written a script called ‘The New Spartans’, and they then decided to go with that first, with him directing as well. They’d raised money from Germany and elsewhere, and the cast included Wang Yu, Toshiro Mifune, Harry Andrews, Britt Eklund and others of similar calibre. They got a couple of days into shooting when the Germans pulled their money out. In later years, one of my Chinese movie dealer contacts actually managed to get me a DVD of the rushes they’d shot, and frankly they were absolutely appalling, so I’m not surprised the Germans pulled the plug. But that caused the collapse of the entire enterprise, and I think Roy lost quite a lot of money. Eventually he moved to Hong Kong, where I know he produced at least one documentary about kung fu movies, and of course by then I lost contact with him. Shame. Roy was a nice man, and though I never got paid for my work, I never held it against him.

Before he left, though, and some months after ‘Snutch’ went down, he put me in touch with a gent called Paul de Savary and his Chinese partner. They’d acquired the film rights to Dan Dare, and now wanted to do an updated version which basically turned Dan into ‘James Bond in space’. They had a fairly detailed plot outline of about 30 pages, and they wanted me to turn this into a first draft script for a two-hour movie. With this kind of script you usually reckon on one single-spaced page per minute, so they wanted a 120-page script … and they wanted it written in a week. So once again I said ‘sure’ and we actually signed a contract that would give me £1500 for my week’s work, which was an enormous sum to me at the time. So I spent the next seven days doing nothing else but write and sleep, with my Mum bringing me cups of coffee and meals at my desk and, eventually, I turned up at their office on time and script in hand. A couple of days later they phoned me up and said the script was great but they’d changed their minds, and were now going to do a series of 10-minute Dan Dare TV shows instead, and they wanted to pay me £750. As you can imagine, I wasn’t greatly pleased about this, but the best advice I could get (from Roy) was that it wasn’t worth taking them to court, so I’d be better off accepting what they offered.

At some point in all this, though I’m not sure of the exact sequence, another of Roy’s producer friends offered me £200 to revise the script of his Mary Millington soft porn movie into something ‘good’, but I took one look at the script and told him that no one could make that sort of rubbish ‘good’, no matter how much he was paid, and didn’t take the job. And that concluded my involvement with the movie industry, with an understandably sour taste in my mouth. So, essentially, I’ve just refused to have anything to do with movies or TV ever since.

PÓM: Did you ever actually learn Chinese, or go visit the country?

SM: I didn’t learn the language in any formal way, though over the years I’ve come to recognise quite a number of phrases while watching movies, so long as they’re spoken in Mandarin (the national language) rather than Cantonese (the southern dialect they speak in Hong Kong). But I wouldn’t dare try to speak it, as the language is tonal, so words can be pronounced in any of four different tones, and you might have, say, forty different words pronounced ‘ming’, the only way you can tell which is the right one being the tone it’s pronounced in, and the context it appears in; so the possibility of asking for a pint of milk and unintentionally saying something like ‘My postilion has been struck by lightning’ is quite high. Not for nothing did someone once describe Chinese as ‘not so much a language as a disease’!

But I’ve always been more interested in reading the language than speaking it, and while I don’t remember an awful lot of characters, I can often pick my way through a short piece of text with the aid of a dictionary. Mind you, learning how to use a Chinese/English dictionary is a bit of an achievement in itself! Fortunately, there are now computerised dictionary programs that make life rather easier. Even so, sorting out a paragraph of Chinese would still take me quite a long time.

As for the second part of your question, like I said earlier, I’ve never been east of Dover. I’m really not much of a traveller and, while there are obviously historical sites it would be fascinating to see, modern China isn’t really what I’m interested in. What appeals to me is a romanticised, traditional China that no longer exists, if it ever did, because that romanticised version is largely coloured by tales of Daoist magicians and the heroics of wuxia fiction. Better to keep to the China in my head, I think, rather than be confronted by contemporary reality.

To be continued…

[Because the above section is, by my standards, quite short, to allow the next section to start where it needs to, I'm adding on a list of All Steve Moore's Brown Watson / Grandreams Annuals in both alphabetical and chronological order. This list was sent to me by Steve himself, and he told me it was compiled with the help of Steve Holland of Bear Alley Books.]

Brown Watson/ Grandreams Annuals with Work by Steve Moore

C = Cover
F = Features
I = Illustrations
R = Reprint
S = Strips
T = Text Stories
U = Unknown
W = Whole Book

Illustrators named where known


1977 – T?, S? (I must have written something for this, or I wouldn’t have a copy! But a lot of it doesn’t read like me. Maybe one T?) (I – John Bolton)

1978 – T, S (F???) (John Higgins)

1977 – T, S, some F (Ian Gibson)
1978 – T, S (Ian Gibson)

1981 – T, S (cartoons – Alan Moore [here])

1982 – T, S

1979 – T, S (Felix Carrion)
1980 – T, S (Felix Carrion)

1981 – T, S
1982 – T, S (Cartoons – Alan Moore, reprinted from BJ & THE BEAR)

1981 – T, S (David Lloyd)
1982 – T, S (David Lloyd)
1983 – T, S (David Lloyd)

1979 – T, F? (S = R. I – Evi DeBono)
1980 – T (S = R. I – David Lloyd)

1977 – F (S = R. I – John Britton)

1977 – T, S (S, I – Ian Gibson. I – John Bolton)

1980 – S (From synopses by Phil Redmond?) (T by David Angus, from Redmond synopses) (I – John Cooper)

1979 – T, S, F? (John Higgins + R )
1980 – T, S (David Lloyd + R )
1981 – T (S = R. C – Paul Neary, I – David Lloyd)
1982 – T (S = R. C, I – Paul Neary)
1983 – T (S = R. C, I – Paul Neary)
1984 – T (S = R. C – Paul Neary. IU)

1987 – T, S, 1F

1982 – T, S (F???) (David Lloyd)
1983 – T, S (David Lloyd)
1984 – T, S (Jim Eldridge)
1985 – T, S (Jim Eldridge)
1986 – T, S (Jim Eldridge)

1974 – W (S – Desmon Walduck, I – Melvyn Powell)
1975 – W (SU, I – John Bolton)
1976 – W (S – Paul Neary, I – Ian Gibson)
1977 – W (I – John Britton, John Bolton?)

1978 – T, S (David Lloyd)

1984 – T, S, 1F (John Higgins)

1986 – T (S = R )
1987 – T (S = R)

1981 – T, S

1980 – T, S (John Higgins)

1982 – T, S, some F (Mick Austin. 2F, I – Steve Moore)

1977 – 1 S, some F (John Bolton)
1978 – 2 T, 1 F (John Bolton + U )

OCTOPUSSY (James Bond movie adaptation)
1983 – S (Paul Neary)

1975 – T, S , F (S = U. I – John Bolton)
1976 – T, S (S = John Bolton + Oliver Frey. I = John Bolton + U )
1977 – T, S (John Bolton)

1977 – T?, S? (I must have written something for this, or I wouldn’t have a copy! But a lot of it doesn’t read like me.) (I – Edmond Ripoll)

1979 – T, S (Carlos Cruz)

1979 – T, F? (S = R. I – Evi DeBono)
1980 – T (S = R. I – David Lloyd)
1981 – T (S = R. C – Paul Neary. I – David Lloyd)
1982 – T (S = R. C – Paul Neary. I – Paul Neary + Mick Austin)
1983 – T (S = R. C, I – Paul Neary)
1984 – T (S = R. C, IU )
1985 – T (S = R. C, IU )

1983 – T (S = R. I – Leigh Baulch + Jerry Paris?)

1979 – F (S = R)

1978 – F (S = R)

1985 – S

1978 – F (S = R)

1976 – T (S = R. I – John Bolton)
1977 – T (S = R. I – John Britton, John Bolton)

1983 – T, S (John Higgins)

1982 – T, S (David Jackson)

1976 – T (S = R. I – John Bolton)
1977 – T (S = R. I – John Bolton)

1983 – T, S (John Higgins)

1979 – T, S


1974 (1)

1975 (2)

1976 (4)

1977 (10)

1978 (6)

1979 (7)

1980 (6)

1981 (6)

1982 (8)

1983 (8)

1984 (4)

1985 (3)

1986 (2)

1987 (2)

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24. Interview: Rick Geary on Kickstarter, Murder, and Billy the Kid

Anybody who has read any amount of my writing, either here and elsewhere, will probably know who my favourite comics writer is*. But I also have a favourite comics artist, whose work is a constant delight to me, and by whom I have pretty much everything I can get my hands on. It’s Rick Geary. He mostly works in black & white, has almost never done any work for The Big Two, and you could just about be forgiven for not having heard of him, but he’s been making his living as a cartoonist and comics artist for nearly forty years now, and is, for me, the comics artist whose work I cherish the most.

He worked on all sorts of things for Dark Horse Comics, and many others, over a number of years, much of which has been collected, and on a shelf right beside me, as I write. In 1987 he started work on a series called A Treasury of Victorian Murder for NBM Publishing, which now stands at eight volumes of true murder tales, which has since been joined by A Treasury of XXth Century Murder, which is up to six volumes, both of which feel like his true life’s work. I’ve always been a fan of true crime stories anyway, and to have them drawn in Geary’s gorgeous black line work is wonderful. If you want to try one – and you should – they’re all available on his Author Page at NBM. It’s not for nothing that Our Glorious Leader, Ms H. MacDonald, said ‘

No season would be complete without the latest in Rick Geary’s ongoing series of 20th-century murders: with elegant, unsettling penwork, Madison Square Tragedy: The Murder of Stanford White tells the notorious story of architect Stanford White, who was murdered by a jealous husband in a theater atop the original Madison Square Garden.

As well as his ongoing work with NBM, Rick Geary has recently taken to selling books through a series of Kickstarter campaigns, with the most recent, for The True Death of Billy the Kid, still running, until Monday the 11th of August, a week from today. It’s going to be a 60-page black-and-white hardcover graphic novel, and I can pretty much guarantee it’ll turn up right on time, too, because I’ve backed his other two projects, and they did – which is more than can be said for other fundraisers I’ve ante-ed up for, but that is something I’ll wait to address here another day, in the not too distant future.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s a quick interview with Rick Geary, which I was thrilled to be given the chance to do…

Billy the Kid

Pádraig Ó Méalóid: This is your third Kickstarter campaign, at this stage. First of all, what made you decide to try out fundraising like this as a way to get your work out there?
[Link to The True Death of Billy the Kid Kickstarter.]

Rick Geary: The first time I tried fundraising on Kickstarter was about a year ago, simply out of curiosity as to how it works and to see how well I would do. I thought I should start out with the kind of true crime graphic novel I’m known for. This was The Elwell Enigma, and it succeeded beyond my wildest imagination. After that, I thought I’d try something different. A is for Anti-Christ: Obama’s Conspiracy Alphabet, a kind of satirical children’s book, was a bit of a harder and slower process, but it finally came through. At last, I thought I’d use Kickstarter to fund the kind of historical and non-fiction subjects that fascinate me but which aren’t precisely murder cases. The True Death of Billy the Kid comes out of my life here in Lincoln County, and has now exceeded my funding goal with several more weeks to go. So I have to say I’m very happy with my Kickstarter experience. I also must say that the experience has been made as smooth as possible by my friend and agent and production genius Mark Rosenbohm, who has managed all three campaigns.

PÓM: Yes, I’d noticed that all your campaigns were under Mark’s name. So, is he effectively acting as your publisher on these, or is that the wrong way to look at it?

RG: I suppose he could be technically called my publisher, although I like to think of these books as self-published. They all have come out under my little imprint, Home Town Press.

PÓM: What led you to want to try out an internet fundraiser like this in the first place, and why did you choose Kickstarter to do it on?

RG: There are certain projects in my mind that I know would never be taken on by a mainstream publisher. The Obama Alphabet was certainly one of them. I began my career publishing my own work and I’ve always believed in it. Why Kickstarter? At the time, it seemed to be the only one out there.

PÓM: Are there any drawbacks to using Kickstarter, do you find?

RG: The hardest part of a Kickstarter campaign, though I’d hate to call it a drawback, is the work that comes on the back end. I try to be very conscientious about packaging the books and other premiums and sending them out in a timely manner. Almost 200 mailings for my first project. It’s all well worth it, though.

PÓM: Are you still producing work through more conventional means, like with NBM, for instance? I know they published your Madison Square Tragedy – The Murder of Stanford White around December 2013, so is there anything more scheduled from them?

RG: Yes, I’m still producing murder stories for NBM. I’m currently in the midst of a project that’s a bit of a departure from the true-life cases. Louise Brooks: Detective is a fictional mystery featuring the actress Louise Brooks solving a murder in 1940′s Kansas. After that I plan to return to non-fiction with the story of the Black Dahlia murder.

PÓM: Am I right in thinking you’re somehow related to Louise Brooks?

RG: She was my mother’s second cousin. Though they never met, they grew up in the same area of southeastern Kansas. Brooks was my mother’s maiden name (and my middle name). My mother was born and grew up in the tiny town of Burden, Kansas, as did both of Louise’s parents. The graphic novel I’m working on, Louise Brooks: Detective, takes place during the brief time (1940-42) that she returned to Kansas after her Hollywood career collapsed. The action unfolds in Wichita and Burden.

PÓM: What is it that draws you towards these murder stories, do you think?

RG: It’s become kind of a cliché, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve been attracted to the dark side of human nature. Perhaps because I have such a light and sunny nature myself. Stories of anti-social behavior have the most drama and excitement. And the unsolved cases are the best of all, for the mystery they embody and the speculation they engender. I’m a big proponent of the essential unknowability of things.

PÓM: With the unsolved cases, do you have opinions of your own on who might have done them, or does that not matter to you? With things like Jack the Ripper, for instance, which has virtually mutated into fiction, do you have any ‘favourite’ suspects?

RG: In most cases my goal is to keep a journalistic detachment and not express opinions of my own. Some of the unsolved murders have, as you say, mutated into fiction, but I try to give equal weight to all the theories out there, no matter how ludicrous. Jack the Ripper is the perfect example. The endless speculation linking him to the royal family or other well-known people is pretty flimsy, though entertaining. My belief is that the Ripper had to be some faceless, anonymous East End resident, someone you wouldn’t even notice on the street.

PÓM: What is it about Billy the Kid, that made you want to do this particular book?

Billy 21 (1)

RG: Upon moving to Lincoln County, New Mexico, seven years ago, I found that the Kid is a very big deal here. The town of Lincoln, where he spent much of his brief life, is a perfectly preserved little western settlement, and the local historical society is very protective of his story. Accuracy is the top priority. I noticed that no graphic novel has been published that told his true story, and it seemed a natural for my next project on Kickstarter.

Billy 22 (1)

PÓM: How much research goes into doing one of these books?

RG: I do as much as I can and still fit within the deadline. I start by reading as many books with as many different points of view on the subject as I can find, and take copious notes. I fill this out with online sources, but what I find there is usually not as detailed as the information contained in books. Then I condense all the material into what I hope is a clear and compelling narrative structure. As for picture reference for period costumes, interiors etc, I usually rely on my extensive personal library. But I can also find pretty much anything I want online.

Billy 23 (1)

PÓM: Have you any plans to do more ‘Wild West’ based stories, or is Billy the Kid a one-off?

RG: Nothing specific on the horizon, but I wouldn’t rule anything out.

PÓM: What’s your feeling about fundraisers like Kickstarter, now that you’ve been through it three times? Is it the future of comics publishing, or just an interesting sideline, for you?

RG: I can’t speak for others, but my own experience with Kickstarter has been nothing but positive thus far. I don’t know if it’s the future of comics publishing, but it’s certainly my future. I plan to use it, perhaps once a year, for graphic novel projects that treat broader historical subjects and wouldn’t overlap with the murder stories I do for NBM.

PÓM: Will this, and your previous Kickstarter projects, be available for the general public to buy later on, or is this the only way to get hold of them?

RG: All of my Kickstarter books are, for the moment, sold personally by me at the SD Comic-Con and at APE, or else are available via the “RG Store” on my Website. I’ve also been selling them, on consignment, through a retail outlet in my tiny burg of Carrizozo. Whether they will eventually gain a wider distribution remains to be seen.

PÓM: Thanks very much for taking the time to do this interview, Rick.

RG: Entirely my pleasure, Pádraig. Thanks for everything.

Some Links:
The True Death of Billy the Kid Kickstarter page
Rick Geary’s own Website
Rick Geary’s Author Page at NBM
Rick Geary’s Facebook Page


[*It’s Alan Moore, in case there was any doubt.]

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25. Sharks, asylum seekers, and Australian politics

OUP-Blogger-Header-V2 Flinders

By Matthew Flinders

We all know that the sea is a dangerous place and should be treated with respect but it seems that Australian politicians have taken things a step (possibly even a leap) further. From sharks to asylum seekers the political response appears way out of line with the scale of the risk.

In the United Kingdom the name Matthew Flinders will rarely generate even a glint of recognition, whereas in Australia Captain Matthew Flinders (1774-1814) is (almost) a household name. My namesake was not only the intrepid explorer who first circumnavigated and mapped the continent of Australia but he is also a distant relative whose name I carry with great pride. But having spent the past month acquainting myself with Australian politics I can’t help wonder how my ancestor would have felt about what has become of the country he did so much to put on the map.

The media feeding frenzy and the political response surrounding shark attacks in Western Australia provides a case in point. You are more likely to be killed by a bee sting than to be killed by a shark attack while swimming in the sea off Perth or any of Western Australia’s wonderful beaches. Hundreds of thousands of people enjoy the sea and coastline every weekend but what the media defined as ‘a spate’ of fatal shark attacks (seven to be exact) in between 2010-2013 led the state government to implement no less than 72 baited drum lines along the coast. Australia’s Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, granted the Western Australian Government a temporary exemption from national environment laws protecting great white sharks, to allow the otherwise illegal acts of harming or killing the species. The result of the media feeding frenzy has been the slow death of a large number of sharks. The problem is that of the 173 sharks caught in the first four months none were Great Whites and the vast majority were Tiger Sharks – a species that has not been responsible for a fatal shark attack for decades.

The public continues to surf and swim, huge protests have been held against the shark cull and yet the Premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett, insists that it is the public reaction against the cull that is ‘ludicrous and extreme’ and that it will remain in place for two years.


If the political approach to sharks appears somewhat harsh then the approach to asylum seekers appears equally unforgiving. At one level the Abbott government’s ‘Stop the Boats’ policy has been a success. The end of July witnessed the first group of asylum seekers to reach the Australian mainland for seven months. In the same period last year over 17,000 people in around 200 boats made the treacherous journey across the ocean in order to claim asylum in Australia. ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’ has therefore ‘solved’ a political problem that many people believe simply never existed. The solution – as far as one exists – is actually a policy of ‘offshore processing’ that uses naval intervention to direct boats to bureaucratic processing plants on Manus, Nauru, or Christmas Island. Like modern day Robinson Crusoe, thousands of asylum seekers find themselves marooned on the most remote outposts of civilization. But then again – out of sight is out of mind.

The 157 people (including around fifty children) who made it to the mainland last week exemplify the harsh treatment that forms the cornerstone of the current approach. After spending nearly a month at sea on an Australian customs vessel they were briefly flown to the remote Curtin Detention Centre but when the asylum seekers refused to be interviewed by Indian officials they were promptly dispatched to the island of Nauru and its troubled detention centre (riots, suicides, self-mutilation, etc.). Those granted asylum will be resettled permanently on Nauru while those refused will be sent back to Sri Lanka (the country that most of the asylum seekers were originally fleeing via India). Why does the government insist on this approach? Could it be the media rather than the public that are driving political decision-making? A recent report by the Australian Institute of Family Studies found that the vast majority of refugees feel welcomed by the Australian public but rejected by the Australian political institutions. How can this mismatch be explained? The economy is booming and urgently requires flexible labor, the asylum seekers want to work and embed themselves in communities; the country is vast and can hardly highlight over-population as the root of the problem.

There is an almost palpable fear of a certain type of ‘foreigner’ within the Australian political culture. Under this worldview the ocean is a human playground that foreign species (i.e. sharks) should not be allowed to visit. The world is changing as human flows become more fluid and fast-paced – no borders are really sovereign any more. And yet in Australia the political system remains wedded to ‘keeping the migration floodgates closed’, apparently unaware of just how cruel and unforgiving this makes Australia look to the rest of the world. What would Captain Matthew Flinders think about this state of affairs almost exactly 200 years after his death?

From sharks to asylum seekers Australian politics seems ‘all at sea’.

Matthew Flinders is Founding Director of the Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics at the University of Sheffield and alsoFlinders author pic Visiting Distinguished Professor in Governance and Public Policy at Murdoch University, Western Australia. He is also Chair of the Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom and the author of Defending Politics (2012). Matthew is giving a public lecture entitled ‘The DisUnited Kingdom: The Scottish Independence Referendum and the Future of the United Kingdom’ on Monday 25 August. The lecture takes place at the Constitutional Centre of Western Australia at 6pm BST.

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Image credit: Great white shark, by Terry Goss. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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