In the Glendale Civic Auditorium, the smell of old books waifed in the air, mingling with the myriad of ongoing conversations, the shuffling of plastic, and flipping of book pages as attendees to the 37th Annual Los Angles Vintage Paperback Show got underway last Sunday morning, April 3. With over sixty book sellers in attendance, the room was packed with stacked books on and under tables throughout the auditorium. Approximately 55 guests were set up at vendor tables or taking turn in the signing area in front of the stage, making themselves available to sign books and chat with fans. Some of the guest highlights included Lisa Morton, Cody Goodfellow, Joe R. Lansdale, William F. Nolan, and Wendy & Richard Pini (ElfQuest) – many who had long lines of people waiting to have one book or bags full of books to be signed.
Giant Days is absolutely delightful. It’s really funny in a way that never panders to the people who like the lowest common denominator. Low-hanging fruit is thrown out for genuine, character-based moments, and what wonderful characters.
"Do this in remembrance of me."
I wasn't sure just what the arc of this story was going to be when I read the first issue months ago. Everything seemed like it was going to be a straightforward cut-em-up with Jesus taking on the minions of Hell one at a time to open the gates of Heaven. The idea was intriguing; in the time we don't see Christ between his death and Resurrection, he journey's to Hell to undoubtedly not turn the other cheek but forcibly rip the keys to Hell out of Lucifer's grip. I will admit that this, at first, seemed to be more of a conservative piece to weaponize the Lord when he spoke of only peace and love on Earth, but this final issue has really surprised me and made my level of respect for the creative team and their story jump many levels. We're still in Hell, Jesus is still swinging away like Conan, but there's a none-too-subtle message within that may shock readers who think they know where they're going.
James Ganiere (Chief Editor, Fallen Angel Press; CEO-Rio Vista Universal) moderated the Saturday afternoon WonderCon panel, “Romance in Sci-Fi and Fantasy,” which assembled actress Gigi Edgley (Farscape, Star Trek Continues), writer Rebekah R. Ganiere (Fairelle series, President of Fantasy Futuristic & Paranormal RWA chapter), writer Mark O'Bannon (The Dream Crystal, Star Raiders), and actor James Kyson (Heroes, Nobility). Unfortunately, actress Mira Furlan was unable to attend due to being on a shoot. Why a romance panel? Romance sells well; at least 50% of the books sold are romance, and romance is a critical component of any story told.
H.P. Lovecraft's stories continue to influence contemporary tales. For instance, the 1926 short story, “Pickman's Model,” published in the October 1927 issue of Weird Tales, is one such tale that recently inspired Casefile: Arkham. This new graphic novel is written by Josh Finney, illustrated by artist Patrick McEvoy, edited by Kat Rocha, and published by 01Publishing. The black-and-white edition is an enthralling visual experience that incorporates several elements of the Lovecraft story and evolves into its own fascinating tale of noir macabre.
I think that the Dark Crystal may be one of my favorite Henson properties. This was something groundbreaking for me in my childhood, as fantasy was not as big on TV or in cinema in the '80s. Sure, we had Legend and The Neverending Story, but these and the works of Rankin and Bass were my only real forays into the world of the fantastic. The Dark Crystal was as real to me as Dagobah for obvious reasons, and that was all the difference to my childhood. So, this series of Creation Myths has been a walk down a childhood path that I wish I had had access to and is amazing for the incredibly wide and varied stories that culminate in a single tome. Much like The Silmarillion for Tolkien's Middle Earth, Creation Myths brings to life a world where the first story that we heard proves to not be the whole one.
Ernie EJ Altbacker has worked on several television shows that include Static Shock, Ben 10, Green Lantern: The Animated Series, and Spider-Man, among others, and he has written six Shark Wars novels targeting middle schoolers. He has now written a teen/young adult book titled Handy Andy Saves the World. Evoking the innocence and charm of the 1950s sci-fi B-movie, Altbacker's story of a down-on-his-luck handyman who unwittingly helps fix an alien spaceship is an enchanting tale.
I Am a Hero is Scott Pilgrim plus Shaun of the Dead with the breadth of the Akira manga. It is a full-fledged, one hundred percent work of art that is both awesome and gut wrenchingly bittersweet. I woke up in the middle of the night two nights ago with a particularly beautifully rendered sequence swimming in my head and felt so achingly sad that I wanted to cry.
He had hoped that his collaborator, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, would have been able to join him, but, instead, Francesco Francavilla sat at the long table on his own, bringing new meaning to the “Spotlight on Francesco Francavilla” WonderCon panel. With a distinctive pulpy art style that punctuates the horror and noir stories he has worked on, it seems a strange marriage that his career would lead him to the All-American, boy-next-door comic, Afterlife with Archie, published by Archie Comics. Just looking at his covers evokes some of the early Abbott and Costello Meets [insert monster name] films or just about any of the 1940s-1950s horror B-movies that would eventually be featured on a Joe Bob Briggs or an Elvira show decades later. For 50 minutes, Francavilla entertained questions from the audience.
The WonderCon panel titled “Building Worlds with Words” gathered several writers to provide insight into their own methods for creating worlds. As the moderator, Cecil Castellucci (Moving Targets: Princess Leia) started off the introductions. Joining her were Aditi Khorana (Mirror in the Sky), Margaret Stohl (Black Widow: Forever Red), Victoria Schwab (A Gathering of Shadows), Lisa Lee (DC Superheroes Girls Series), Gretchen McNeil (Possess, Ten), and Caragh M. O'Brien (Vault of Dreamers).