There are some people who like comics. There are others who love them. Then, there are those who live and breathe comics. Not as a way to keep copyrights up-to-date for further cinematic use, but who see the comic form as important; as a worthy and necessary part of our collective artistic and cultural life. Professor, scholar, and creator, John Ira Jennings, embodies the latter.
Happy New Year to you all. I hope everyone is well and doing what they need and want to do.
I wanted to share a few things with you.
The way people are reacting (and/or responding) to our current political moment is all over the map. Some are taking the ostrich head in the sand approach: If I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. Some are happy that the end of the American experiment is closer than we ever thought possible. Some are going full-force with resisting, making sure that what is happening does not become the new default. Some are embracing the newly- burnished hate and division, their fantasies of a fourth and fifth Reich are invading our shared reality. Remember when these people used to be on the fringe? Some say this is the last gasp of a dying ideology. I’m of the mind that it is the first deep breath of a newborn. But what do I know? I’m a born pessimist.
Before we get into the rest of my full endorsement of Midnight Taxi Tango, I feel the need to ask a question: What kind of Ouija board does author Daniel José Older have access to? Is he somehow hotline blingin’ with the underworld? The way he writes about the dead, the half-dead, the preternatural and the politics that govern them — it reads more like dictation than creation. There are some genuinely creepy scenes in MTT. Skin crawling, looking over your shoulder, peering into shadows to see who is there, creepy. Other scenes are damn frightening. Let me put it to you this way: weaponized ghosts of babies who are hungry and out to devour you. Borderline nightmare stuff. What really works about this novel, and the “Bone Street Rumba” series as a whole, is that none of the scares are cheap. Every scare is legitimate. Every scare is necessary to the tale. This is evidence of Older’s mastery of his narrative.
First off, I want to apologize for the video quality. We did this at the time of day that is heavy with Internet traffic, and we experienced some delays. I also didn’t label the speakers, but you know who he is.
This was some of the most fun I have ever had interviewing someone.
A spoiler free endorsement.
Daniel José Older is the type of writer that forces you to reevaluate your likes and dislikes for particular (sub)-genres. Up until I read Half-Resurrection Blues, I declared a moratorium on anything even resembling urban fantasy. Most urban fantasy almost supernaturally privileges European myth/folk/legend and leaves zero room for stories or influences from other cultures. Fairy court intrigues, battles amongst the Sidhe, and some kind of blonde or “flowing raven haired” chosen one or outcast or bi-species offspring rule the urban fantasy space to such a degree that reading these books feels like looking at a “No Melanin Allowed” billboard written in fairy dust. With Half-Resurrection Blues, though, Older makes a very bold departure.
Ladies and gentlemen: the cover and jacket for my first Young Adult novel, Shadowshaper, which comes out in July from Scholastic’s Arthur A. Levine Books. Behold the gloryyyyyyyyyy after the break.
Originally posted at Ghoststar.net
In the latest video, I give a talk about what makes endings great and what works and doesn’t work about the Penny Dreadful finale, including the Apache Pinkerton race-fail.
In this week’s video, I talk about internal/external conflict and decision-making conflict vs. kill-all-the-bad-guys conflict using the BBC America science-fiction series Orphan Black and the Disney/Pixar film Brave as examples. Continue reading On Conflict in Brave and Orphan Black
Last week, I started vlogging on YouTube. The first video is a brief talk about the process of editing my forthcoming Young Adult novel from Scholastic, Shadowshaper. In the latest video, I give a brief discussion on storycraft by discussing two … Continue reading On Backstory in Penny Dreadful and Breaking Bad
Originally posted at Ghoststar.net
In January 2009, I decided to write a book. I’ve always written, always made up strange worlds and sent characters hurdling into them, always dreamt of monsters. But until that day, I was scattered: a screenplay here, a few essays there. Some poems. None of ‘em went very far.
I’d read all the Harry Potters and loved them, loved how they immersed me in the world so thoroughly and stayed grounded and exciting. And I wanted something more… I’d just finished Junot’s Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Walter Mosley’s Six Easy Pieces and the combined ferocity of those two singular and relentlessly truthful voices lit a fire inside me. Octavia Butler’s work stoked that fire and Stephen King’s On Writing reminded me that writing a book was something that can be done, long as you sit down and do it.
So I did.
Originally posted at Salon.com
Perpetuating stereotypes isn’t just immoral — it’s bad TV. That’s why shows like Sleepy Hollow are so crucial.
When I was seven, I asked my mom if I could dye my hair blond and get blue contact lenses. It’s probably the first serious conversation I ever had about my appearance and all I wanted to do was look like Luke Skywalker. I wanted it so badly. She was appalled and I couldn’t understand why. Star Wars was Everything. There were no Latinos running through the halls of the Death Star, blasting storm troopers. Of course I was caught up.
Recently, a perennial discussion about diversity, or lack thereof, amongst writers of speculative fiction, and their characters, storylines, settings, and perspectives, blew up on the Internet, resulting in the hashtag #DiversityinSFF
To investigate the fall out of that discussion, Jason Sperber (@dad_strangeland) fills in as guest host and welcomes a trio of speculative fiction writers (and fellow Nerds) of Color: Walidah Imarisha (@walidahimarisha), Claire Light (@seelight), and Daniel Jose Older (@djolder) on “Hard N.O.C. Life.”
Since The Nerds of Color is not the only awesome thing on the internet, we spent the weekend scouring the web for some of the most NOC-relevant links around. Here are five stories that have gotten the most buzz around the N.O.C. office.
Our two favorite honorary Nerds of Color unite as Jeff Yang interviews Miss America Nina Davuluri for his Tao Jones column for the Wall Street Jounral, Jeff gets Davuluri to talk about the racist backlash her win engendered and the stereotypes she faced on her way to being crowned as the first Asian American Miss America. He also get her to reveal some more about her own N.O.C. Origin:
“Yes, of course! I grew up reading science fiction and fantasy, and I didn’t think anything of it. I love ‘Lord of the Rings.’ I love ‘Harry Potter’ — I love ‘Star Wars’! I hopped on the ‘Star Trek’ bandwagon late in life, I admit, with the new movies, but I loved them as well. I love all that stuff, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I want people to know: It’s okay to be a nerd!”
Admit it, y’all just fell in love again.
Jeff also gives us a little “Must Click” love at the bottom of the column. Thanks, Jeff!