Author Archive

Loose Creatures (a brief appreciation for Ursula K. LeGuin)

23 February 2023

My watercolor of an oak branch – see my art blog for more oak drawings

My nearly-ten-year-old daughter and I have been reading a lot of Ursula K. LeGuin out loud at night before going to sleep. I’ve been meaning to post something here praising her Earthsea books, her Annals of the Western Shore series, her Ekumen sci-fi books, and also The Beginning Place – which we finished reading a couple days ago.

Last night, though, we enjoyed reading LeGuin’s short story “Direction of the Road” from the collection The Unreal and the Real: the Selected Short Stories of Ursula K. LeGuin. I first heard praise of this story on the Crafting with Ursula podcast episode featuring Isaac Yuen. It’s a wildly inventive short story told from the point of view of a hundreds-of-years-old oak tree, who tells stories of interacting with those “loose creatures,” their “makings,” and the general local “Order of Things.” (more…)

The Very Serious Alan Moore Blurb Quiz

11 December 2019

Alan Moore (photo via Pinterest)

As a die-hard Alan Moore fan, I’ve taken to picking up many books that Moore recommends. Below is a rather silly quiz that may appeal to Moore completists like me. All the quotes below are from Alan Moore – primarily from cover blurbs, but also including a few similar blurb-like statements in introductions, reviews, interviews, etc.

See how many questions you can answer correctly. There’s nothing more than bragging rights at stake, so looking stuff up on the internet is considered cheating, strongly discouraged, and it really won’t help too much for obscure stuff I’ve included.

Some notes:

  • First, apologies that I didn’t go to the trouble of tracking down actual quiz software here – can anyone recommend a WordPress quiz plug-in that you trust? I’ve used the standard WordPress poll feature. Use the comments to share how many answers you got correct.
  • Choices are listed alphabetically by first listed creator.
  • I’ve omitted titles, genders, and names that would give away the answer. For series, I haven’t included volume number in the question.
  • I’ve included many somewhat obscure books, but I didn’t actually make anything up. All of the titles mentioned below actually exist. Moore has lots of great collaborators and comics industry friends who’ve done lots of great work.
  • Some of these blurbs are very short (and some feel a bit dated), hence difficult to make sense of outside of the context where they appear.
  • Updated: My Alan Moore fan friends are saying this is too difficult… so I tweaked it slightly (adding a bit more specifics of what Moore wrote on two items) to make it a couple percent easier. As I hinted at above, it’s probably helpful to think of these in the context of Moore writing them at the time the work first came out.

Enjoy! (more…)

Jen Wang’s The Prince and the Dressmaker is Great Comics, Great for Dads

15 November 2019

The Prince and the Dressmaker art by Jen Wang

I’m late to this. Jen Wang’s The Prince and the Dressmaker came out in 2017. I picked it up earlier this year to read with my 6-year-old daughter.  It’s a 288-page young adult comic book – marketed to ages 12-18. I really didn’t know anything about it, so I figured I would read it first before reading out loud with my daughter.

The setting is a fictional Europe on the cusp between monarchy and modernism – though with a gender-fluidity theme that is very contemporary. (There isn’t anything that a 6-year-old can’t handle, though there is a male character who likes to wear dresses.) The art is wonderful. The characters are sweet. The plotting and pacing are great.

My first read through I cried.

On every subsequent reading – with my daughter and with my wife – I still cry.  (more…)

Pádraig Ó Méalóid’s Poisoned Chalice is a Compelling, Enjoyable Read for this Alan Moore Fan

26 December 2018

Poisoned Chalice by Pádraig Ó Méalóid

I just finished reading Pádraig Ó Méalóid’s new book Poisoned Chalice: The Extremely Long and Incredibly Complex Story of Marvelman (and Miracleman).

Ó Méalóid traces the lineage of Marvelman/Miracleman from Philip Wylie’s 1930 book Gladiator to Superman to Captain Marvel/Shazam to Mick Anglo’s 1950s British knock-off Marvelman to the character’s reinvention in the 1980s-90s by Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and a host of collaborators – including Gary Leach, Rick Veitch, and John Totleben.

I remember when Alan Moore’s then-Miracleman was coming out from Eclipse comics in the 1980s. (more…)

Hilary Barta Interview on Working with Alan Moore

8 June 2018

Hilary Barta interview opening spread – via Hilary Barta Twitter

There’s an extensive Hilary Barta interview in Comic Book Creator magazine #17, out this week. Barta covers lots of ground – from The Thing to SpongeBob SquarePants. I was particularly interested in his account of working with Alan Moore on Splash Brannigan, one of my favorite comics series. I like Splash so much that I went and annotated all of his stories here.

Here are a couple of excerpts from Hilary Barta’s interview:

“Splash Brannigan” was another high point…

Alan’s original idea for Splash was a sort of Flash Gordon crossed with Felix the Cat, who would wear a Rapidograph-type gun in a holster. He’d use it to draw a window on a wall to make his escape and such like. Besides doing the actual character design, my biggest contribution to his creation was suggesting that as living ink, Splash didn’t need a magical Rapidograph – or a costume!


Enjoying Watching ‘The Expanse’ – Gripping Humanist Sci-Fi

10 April 2018

The Expanse screen capture: Naomi Nagata played by Dominique Tipper

A short post today to say that for the past couple months, I have really enjoyed watching a science fiction TV show called The Expanse.

I first read about the TV show via a social media post by comics artist Gene Ha. My wife and I started watching. It took a couple episodes for me to warm up to it, then I could barely stop watching. There are plenty of cliffhanger endings that beg the viewer to keep watching.

The first season is very good, and the second is much better. I have now watched all of the episodes available (two seasons) twice through. Tomorrow night is the premiere of season 3.

There’s a lot to like in The Expanse: world-building (a seemingly believable future, only two centuries away, with relatively accurate science), inter-planetary class politics, kick-ass strong women, great pacing… but I think it most comes down to an ensemble cast that are people who I have come to care about.


Ten Things A Diehard Alan Moore Fan Learned From the New Annotated Watchmen

8 April 2018

Watchmen Annotated cover

I can remember reading and re-reading and re-re-reading issues of Watchmen as they were coming out in the mid-1980s. At the time, I knew it was a big deal – a great comic. I had already been enjoying Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, and was looking forward to Watchmen even before the first issue came out. Among many things, it is a murder mystery and I remember re-reading issues looking for clues for me to solve the whodunit.

I even remember that I was buying a couple copies of each issue, expecting it to become a collectible. So much for those plans though, as I loaned the first three or four issues to a woman I met in a laundromat. I had a minor crush on her, of course. If I remember correctly, she was reading a sci-fi book and we had a conversation while our laundry spun. I ended up giving her my phone number and loaning her a couple of early Watchmen issues that I had extra copies of… then I never heard from her again.

Anyway, Watchmen is now widely acknowledged as one of the greatest comics ever.

It was created by Alan Moore (script), Dave Gibbons (art and lettering), and John Higgins (colors).

In recent years there is a lot of great (and not so great) Watchmen analysis available on the web. Lately my favorite is the Under the Hood podcast where Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou and Kieran Shiach spend 30-60 minutes going through each page. There are also an excellent Kieron Gillen video, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s Strip Panel Naked videos (including Time Signatures, Power through Composition), and a few issue-by-issue podcasts underway including Watching the Watchmen and Watchmen Club.

In late 2017, DC Comics published a new edition: Watchmen Annotated. It reprints the full series in black and white, with annotations by Leslie S. Klinger, who had access to Moore’s script via artist Dave Gibbons. DC puts out lots of collected editions of Watchmen, and after picking up the initial trade paperback in the 80s, I’ve resisted picking up any new Watchmen editions, in part because of the ways that DC angered Moore over the Watchmen contract. I am pretty into Alan Moore annotations, though, so this week I bought a copy of Watchmen Annotated.

One of the really fun things about Watchmen is that I have read it a couple dozen times, and each reading I end up seeing new things. There is plenty in Watchmen Annotated that I was already aware of, but here are ten things I hadn’t noticed before:  (more…)

Alan Moore Rarity – LOEG: The Tempest Ashcan Promo

27 March 2018

Cover of LOEG: The Tempest promotional ashcan – art by Kevin O’Neill

I made it down to 2018 WonderCon in Anaheim last Friday to get my hands on what looks like it could be a somewhat rare collectors item comic: an IDW “ashcan” promoting the upcoming The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volume 4 comic The Tempest. The first issue of LOEG: The Tempest is due out in June 2018.

The promotional giveaway features three pages of house ads, the cover (right), and two pages of art from the issue. These art pages include the original Kevin O’Neill black and white art, and the colored and lettered version of the same pages, specifically page 3 and page 5 of The Tempest #1. The color images have already been shared at Bleeding Cool, but see also my 2-page-spread photos below.  (more…)

Check Out Nicole Goux’s Comics

12 February 2018

Panel from Jem and the Holograms: Dimensions #3 – written and drawn by Nicole Goux, color by Rebecca Nalty

For a couple years now, my friend Federico and I have been participating in a monthly comics-jam anthology thing called Melt-Thology. It takes place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month at Meltdown Comics in Hollywood. Sometimes my daughter Maeve and my wife Carrie go with us. Each month attendees draw a page of comics, and pay $3 for printing. The next month, we pick up the completed staple-bound photocopied comics anthology, and we crank out a new page.

There’s more to say about Melt-Thology, but that’s another story.

(Except that I have to say thanks to Chuck Kerr for starting Melt-Thology and keeping it going strong for a couple years, before recently retiring.)

Today I want to recommend the comics of Nicole Goux.  (more…)

Why I Frustratedly Still Support Joe Bray-Ali for City Council

1 May 2017

Today, the L.A. Weekly quoted me in response to the controversy that has embroiled my friend Joe Bray-Ali’s candidacy for L.A. City Council. I wanted to post somewhere to clarify part of my take on this. The other places where I write about bike stuff (Streetsblog L.A., Bikas, and L.A. Eco-Village) are non-profit (either actual or potential), so I can’t post opinions about political candidates there, so I am doing it at my kinda-backwater catch-all blog here.

If you’re unfamiliar with Bray-Ali’s offensive comments and the ensuing scandal, please read my piece at Streetsblog L.A. last Friday.

Up front, I’ll mention that I’ve been friends with Bray-Ali for more than a decade. I know that he can be a mean-spirited attacker, but he was generally attacking anti-bike folks like City Councilmember Gil Cedillo.

Here’s the conclusion of today’s L.A. Weekly article:

Bike activists are split on whether to continue supporting Bray-Ali. The group Bike the Vote rescinded its Bray-Ali endorsement; prominent activists like Damien Newton and Don Ward have done the same. Activist Joe Linton says he’s still supporting Bray-Ali and tries to put a positive spin on the whole affair.

I mainly want to clarify what I meant by what the Weekly calls putting a “positive spin” on this. I don’t and can’t put a positive spin on Bray-Ali’s comments. Bray-Ali’s online comments are offensive. His comments are derogatory to transgender people, blacks, fat people, and others. These comments marginalize and harm people. The comments are not defensible.  (more…)