Don’t act so surprised, your highness!
Chapter 73: Going WILD and Going on Tour...
All My Books This Month!
Come Hang Out With Me at a Comic Shop!
Some Thoughts on Horror… Or Genre? I’m Not Sure!
The Mixtape - One of My All Time Favorite Voices!
Some Comics For (Some of You) to Read!
Got a bunch of new subscribers in the past week. Not sure if people are fleeing the burning barn that is twitter, I got bumped up in some Substack recommendation system, or just a lot more people are in desperate need of reliable chocolate milk reviews, but whatever the reason, welcome! If you’re not here for the latter, sorry. You’ve come to a strange place.
If you are new here, in addition to sending you comics, talking about comics, and whatever else we do here, we have a brand new weekly podcast called IDEAS DON’T BLEED where we interview people from around the world of comic books to talk about their craft, lives, careers, and do deep dives on some of their work. So far we’ve spoke with people like Kelly Thompson, Ed Brisson, Ryan Stegman, Tini Howard, Gerry Duggan, and Zeb Wells. You can check it out wherever you get podcasts or just listen right here.
First things first, despite feeling like I’m constantly shouting about my own comic work on here, I am also constantly told by people “I didn’t know that was coming out!” whenever I release a book. So, with help of my complete lack of photoshop skills, I have developed a new system. At the start of every month I’m going to post all the stuff I have coming out that month. It’s something my buddy Ram V. does and he’s very good at his job, so I have decided to steal from him.
As you can see from the very professional graphic above, I have a lot of stuff coming out this month. Among that is WILDC.A.T.S. #1 on Tuesday! Written by, drawn by the brilliant Stephen Segovia, colors by the amazing Elmer Santos, and edited by the incomparable Ben Abernathy, this is a really fun one. If you’re a long time fan of the best superhero team in comics, we’re excited to welcome you back to the fold and have a lot of surprises in store for you. And if you’ve never read WILDC.A.T.S., we made it new reader friendly just for you!
In order to promote the book, I am going on a little signing tour of comic shops in the Northeast. And, since I get lonely if I don’t have someone making fun of me all the time, I’m riding with my longtime friend Matt Pizzolo. Besides being the head of Black Mask Studios, who published my books 4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANK, WE CAN NEVER GO HOME, and 12 REASONS TO DIE, Matt is also the writer of such excellent books as GODKILLER, CALEXIT, and YOUNG TERRORISTS. And in the next week his brutal new series ROGUE STATE launches. So come hang out with us, get stuff signed, and pick up WILDC.A.T.S. #1 and ROGUE STATE #1.
And if you come to one of the signings and show me that you’re a subscriber to this newsletter I will give you free stuff! What stuff? I don’t know yet. At the very least some stickers and pins, but probably a signed comic. Or maybe some chips or a donut. Who knows.
With Halloween behind us and Thanksgiving approaching, I realized I didn’t watch nearly as many horror movies in October as I would have liked. There is something fun about just committing to a genre and going all in on it, and I didn’t quite get there. I did watch some fun stuff like Barbarian, The Power, Sisters, Prey, The Wailing, Revealer, and #Alive, but it wasn’t enough. So I’ve decided to throw my own rules out the window and keep watching horror films until I suffer some sort of breakdown.
But going down this rabbit hole of horror has caused me to reflect on genre a lot. Horror in particular is such a fascinating one. Often times it seems like horror fans rally around some movie that’s just above fine and they hold it up as if it’s the pinnacle of medium. I was speaking to a couple of my friends who are much bigger horror fans than I, and they separately said basically the same exact thing. “A B- movie that happens to be horror is an A+ horror movie.” That idea really stuck with me, that the genre grades on a curve. And I’m trying to think about why that would be.
Surely there are brilliant horror films that hold their own with any other genre. Stuff like Psycho, Alien, Rosemary’s Baby, Night of the Living Dead, The Shining, The Exorcist, Silence of the Lambs, Jaws all stand as some of the greatest films ever made. And in the last few years we’ve seen a lot of brilliant horror films that push boundaries and redefine what the genre can be. Movies like The Babadook, Get Out, The VVitch, Titane, Kill List, Neon Demon, It Follows, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, Under The Skin, and so many more. The genre itself isn’t devoid of new ideas or artistic vision. So again I’ve been bumping my head against why horror fans celebrate mediocre movies so often. And while I don’t think there is one simple answer, there is one that I am fascinated by.
The needs of the genre don’t necessarily align with the needs of storytelling or filmmaking. Once that realization hit me, it isn’t really that foreign a concept. We’ve all seen a painting we love that isn’t technically perfect but it catches our eye just right. We’ve all enjoyed bands that may not be technically the best but they play hard live or they know how to really hit a groove. We’ve all enjoyed a meal that isn’t cooked perfectly but just hits the spot. Why should filmmaking be any different?
I was brought up to think that story and character are what matter the most, and everything else is, for lack of a better phrase, set dressing. But horror fans look for something else first. Maybe it’s adrenaline, mood, ingenuity, whatever. But the quest to find that illusive thing overshadows the need for a great script or a good performances or anything else. And it’s not to say that horror fans don’t enjoy and even celebrate those things, just that a movie can serve another purpose first and foremost.
And of course this is obvious on reflection. We find enjoyment in things we know aren’t perfect all the time, because they serve a purpose beyond chasing perfection. A lot of people throw around the term “guilty pleasures,” which is one of my most hated expressions. It creates a hierarchy of enjoyment that is elitist and divisive. So spending more time thinking on this idea of what moves us beyond the key tenets of storytelling feels like a very good exercise to me. As a storyteller it’s both incredibly alienating and weirdly liberating to chase other elements first. I want to spend more time trying to find the things that move me subconsciously, the things that I care about in art that we don’t celebrate as often, maybe the things we don’t even discuss. So I’m spending the month watching horror films to find beauty in things so many other people find hideous. And maybe I won’t get there, but I’m excited to try.
One last “I’d feel bad if I didn’t say something note” to my American readers- please vote! There are things going on in this country that will affect millions and millions of people for years to come. Even if you don’t feel impacted, you will be, people you care about will be. And choosing not to vote is simply casting a vote for people, policies, and laws that hope to win based on the apathy of the American people. Don’t let people use you that way. Make your own choices. If you don’t have a way to get to the polls on Tuesday there are organizations like Rideshare2Vote and even Lyft that will drive you to and from the polls for free. And if you’re unsure where/how to vote or what is on the ballot in your area, you can check Vote411.org or the Government’s Polling Place Locator.
Now that I’ve done my part to save democracy and civil liberties, I can go back to my stupid nonsense. In this case revisiting one of my favorite records of the last decade or so. I basically fall back in love with HOP ALONG’s debut full length about once a year, usually as the days get shorter and the weather starts to turn. It’s a great cold wind / dusk record. It is also a perfect record and this is one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful songs ever written. And it’s going to be the soundtrack for my week, so I thought I’d share.
It is once again time to give you some comic books! We have not 1 but 2 issues attached for you to read and enjoy below!!! But alas, they are for paying subscribers only. So if you’re one of the “free people” this is where we say goodbye and hopefully maybe I will see some of your lovely (masked) faces in the coming weeks at a signing! Or you can click on the link I think substack will add right below here and upgrade to paid! On the other side of this paywall we have so much fun. Trust me.
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