Salvatore Pane

Month: January, 2011

Comics Roundup XI: Remember the Spider

The last time I did a comics roundup was back in September. September! Oh, how the world has changed. O lost!

Basically, I’ve just been in a bit of a comics rut. I’m down to only a few superhero books a month (mostly from the Batman and Spider-Man families) and a ton of indies that I’ve ranted about too many times. Irredeemable. Sweet Tooth. The Walking Dead. American Vampire. And I only want to do these when I have new books to talk about.  But luckily, after five full months, I finally have enough new titles to get excited about to share with you people.

What you want me to do? Keep your shit the hardest.

1. Chew written by John Layman with art from Rob Guillory

This is the surprise of last year for me. Chew launched with a lot of hype, but the first issue (included in black and white in the back of an issue of The Walking Dead) didn’t capture my attention in the way I’d hoped. Recently, I picked up the first volume and realized just how stupid I’d been. For one thing, the coloring really adds a lot, and the way Layman has structured this series has to be seen to be believed.

Background: Chew‘s about a world where in the wake of a bird flu pandemic all chicken is banned. That leads to a hyper militant version of the FDA who cracks down on all black market chicken dealers. Our protagonist is Tony Chu, a mysterious FDA agent with the ability to see the past of anything he eats. For example, if he comes across a dead body, he can take a bite and learn how it died.

That’s a pretty wacky concept, but Layman just layers more and more with each new issue. Aliens. Vampires. Conspiracy. If you like longterm mysteries like Morning Glories but want something a little lighter, go with Chew. It’s only three volumes deep, so you can catch up fairly quickly. And the art by Guillory? Future Big 2 superstar.

2. Detective Comics #871 written by Scott Snyder with art from Jock

I think I’ve talked about how much I like Scott Snyder’s comics and prose work about a million times on this blog, BUT NOW HE HAS THE REIGNS TO MOTHERFUCKING DETECTIVE COMICS!!! This is huge, guys. Huge. A lit fiction guy handling Detective?! And it’s good! Really good.

Right now, the Batman franchise is in kind of an odd place. Living legend Grant Morrison is taking Bruce to all kinds of wacky heights in Batman Incorporated (which is also really great), but Scott Snyder’s taking the more grounded approach with his series about Dick Grayson (also Batman now; long story) in Gotham. This one’s gritty. This one’s dark. This one takes cues from Dark Knight Returns and The Killing Joke. And Jock is delivering a master’s course in storytelling and panel construction.

Buy it. Love it.

3. Infinite Vacation written by Nick Spencer with art from Christian Ward

Nick Spencer is another rising star I’m keeping my eye on. Morning Glories is awesome. Thunder Agents is pretty good. I’m looking forward to his War Machine run. And Infinite Vacation is just utterly spectacular.

IV has one of the better indie concepts I’ve seen in some time. It follows Mark, an everyman cubicle monkey who lives in a world where people can buy into other realities through an app in their phones. Want to see what would have happened if you went to art school instead of business? Buy in. Want to see what happened if you went left instead of right? Buy in. But the central mystery involves a murderer who is killing all of the various Marks across the different realities. An intriguing first issue. Incredibly original.

Even if I didn’t love the story, Christian Ward’s pencils would be enough to lure me in each month. Seriously. This guy’s art is spectacular. The way he uses lines around characters is impressive and the coloring is just so vibrant and beautiful. And best of all? There’s only one issue out so far. So if you’re one of those people who can’t get into Spider-Man because there’s 600 issues (shame on you) go buy Infinite Vacation #1.

#4. Iron Man #500 written by Matt Fraction with art from Salvador Larocca, Kano, Nathan Fox and  Carmine Di Giandomenico

I love future issues in superhero comics. It frees up writers and artists to really push the boundaries when they know they don’t eventually have to return to the status quo after x however many issues. Iron Man #500 isn’t up there with Old Man Logan, but it’s a really good one-and-done tale that’s highly relevant to Matt Fraction’s ongoing Iron Man epic which has truly been great (if you haven’t read the 12 part World’s Most Wanted, what the fuck is wrong with you?).

So this issue, handled by an all-star lineup of artists, deals with Iron Man and Peter Parker trying to figure out why Tony built some type of super weapon during a period of time which has now been erased from his memory (don’t ask; move on). This storyline is interspersed with the future where the Mandarin has enslaved the world using Iron Man’s doomsday weapon. Meanwhile, the resistance is led by Tony’s son and daughter.

This is superhero comics at its biggest and brightest. Iron Man #500 is loud and brash and utterly budget-less. Fraction aims for the stars, and although this isn’t a perfect issue, it is a great jumping on point for Tony Stark fans.

#5. Fables vol. 4 written by Bill Willingham with art from Mark Buckingham, Craig Hamilton and P. Craig Russell

Ok. I’m totally cheating here. I know I wrote about Fables last time, but that’s when I had only read a few issues. That’s before I knew the truth: that Fables is a modern comics masterpiece.

I just finished the fifth volume last week, and I am stunned, utterly STUNNED by just how amazing this comic is. I don’t even like fairy tales, but Willingham has actually made me really care about the Big Bad Wolf, Snow White, and Little Boy Blue. I can’t even believe that’s possible, but this is a big, modern, urban fantasy epic that can stand toe-to-toe with any other beloved run in comics.

Fables kind of starts a little on the slow side, focusing on a murder mystery that’s a tad predictable, yet charming enough. But after volume one, it’s all balls to the wall awesomeness. You want World War II? You got it. Want an invasion of wooden gangsters on Manhattan? Done. How about a Marxist rebellion of non-humanoid creatures who overthrow the shackles of their Fable oppressors? Hell yeah (and it’s led by Goldilocks and the three bears).

Fables is fucking awesome. Case closed.

Corium Magazine Showcase!!!!!

It’s official. A few days ago, Corium Magazine Editor-in-Chief/doomsday prophet Lauren Becker invited me to join her staff as Short Fiction Editor. This is especially exciting for me as Corium was one of the first journals to publish my work, and it’s actually a position I inquired about many, many months ago.  People who knew me in the long, long ago of my MFA days know that I was once Fiction Editor of Hot Metal Bridge and then later Editor-in-Chief. Even in college I took nonfiction editorial positions for a few of Susquehanna’s journals. I’ve loved literary journals ever since that day Tom Bailey took our intro to fiction class to the library and passed around dozens of the little magazines. And it’s always been a goal of mine to be part of that vibrant community.

But what does this shocking development mean for you? It means that if you’re reading this, you should probably submit. Length’s 1000-4000 words. But wait, you ask, what type of work does Corium publish? Below you’ll find a list of some really notable Corium stories. That isn’t to say that they’re not all notable (which they are), but linking to every piece Corium has ever published seems a tad counter-productive. So here are the ones I love the most. Keep in mind, I’m not a big poetry dude. So this is pretty heavy toward the fiction side.

“Sisters” – Amelia Gray and Lindsay Hunter

“All the Imaginary People are Better at Life” – Amber Sparks

“Retention” – Ravi Mangla

“One More Beneath the Exit Sign” – Stephen Elliott

“Mirrorball” – Carrie Murphy

“Girl, Luminous” – Donna Vitucci

“Eating Heart” – Cami Park

“Bonnie Parker Visits Her Final Getaway” – Sean Lovelace

“Given the Chance” – Alec Niedenthal

“Choo and Rumble” – Kim Chinquee

“Demoiselle” – Uche Ogbuji

“Des Moines Gymnopédie” – Scott Garson

“Shiny” – Andrea Kneeland

“Still They Hear What They Want To Hear” – Kathy Fish

“Inner Geographies” – Roxane Gay

“The Gone Children They Said Tell Us a Story” – J.A. Tyler

“All Our Canoes Are Safely Ashore” – B.J. Hollars

“An Intervention” – Matthew Salesses

“Two Earthquakes” – Nicolle Elizabeth

“Something More Interesting” – Tara Laskowski

“Drive” – Curtis Smith

“Regional Keystone” – Erin Fitzgerald

“Hands to Work” – Steve Himmer

Holy fucking shit, you say. That’s a lot of badass work by so many badass writers. I sure wish I could experience the unadulterated awesomeness of Corium in person! Well guess motherfucking what! You will have the chance in little under a month at AWP 2011!

Come party with me, Lauren, our wonderful poetry editor Heather Fowler, and of course, the good folks from Prick of the Spindle and SmokeLong Quarterly (edited by fellow Susquehanna alum Tara Laskowski). And look at those readers! Steve Almond! Michael Czyzniejewski! It’s going to be better than 10 Super Bowls.

Unplugged Review

Folks. I have a review of Ryan G. Van Cleave’s memoir Unplugged: My Journey Into the Dark World of Video Game Addiction in The Southeast Review. This was published awhile back, but I’m an idiot and somehow completely missed it. Check it out.

Doesn't the guy in the center look like Alex Zalban from Comic Book Club?

PANK INTERVIEWED ME AND I AM EXCITED

My love for PANK knows no bounds, and recently, they interviewed me about my story “Love in the Large Hadron Collider” which they published in November. Topics include Final Fantasy, Rebecca Skloot, other dimensions and, of course, Richard Nixon.

Guide to AWP 2011 Part 2: The Off-Site Events

Ok. You knew this was coming. In my first AWP 2011 post, I highlighted a ton of panels that I really hope to attend this year in DC. Now it’s time for the off-site events. For those of you unaware, these are usually readings hosted in bars by literary journals and presses and all kinds of interesting organizations. A lot of times these are more fun than the actual panels themselves because, hey, hey, you can drink (you’ll be surprised to discover how much more interesting a talk on post-modern liminal spaces sounds after a couple drinks). And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t first mention the off-site event I’ll be reading at along with a serious host of motherfuckers.

Thursday at 7:30PM

Annalemma, PANK, & Mud Luscious Present Divination in DC
Location: Ireland’s Four Provinces
Cost: FREE
Website:
Description: Kristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, Tim Jones-Yelvington, Gregory Sherl, Molly Gaudry, Steve Himmer, Jesse Bradley, Ben Brooks, Mel Bosworth, Sal Pane, Sasha Fletcher, Mary Miller, Ethel Rohan, Michael Stewart, Rob Roensch, Brian Oliu, Mathias Svalina, Matt Salesses, Amber Sparks

Do you see that lineup? HOW CAN YOU NOT COME TO THIS!?

So, now that the shameless self-promotion is out of the way, time for a round-up of AWP 2011 off-site events.

This is a visual representation of the Divination in DC event.

Wednesday

2011 Festival of Language
7:00PM-10:00PM
Location: The Black Squirrel
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.facebook.com/pages/AWP-2011-Festival-of-Language-a-reading/110261148999292
Description: Original works will be read/performed by Debra Di Blasi, Lance Olsen, Kass Fleisher, Cris Mazza, Kirk Nesset, Michael Mejia, Duriel Estelle Harris, Steve Halle, Jeff Grieneisen, Jannee Baugher, Kate Dusenbery, Quintus Havis, Evan Nave, and Jane L. Carman. There will be food and beverages available for purchase upstairs at The Black Squirrel (http://www.blacksquirreldc.com/) only 0.76 miles from the Marriott Wardman Park. http://www.mapquest.com/?le=t&hk=7-I9EjF3r5&vs=h

It’s only a short walk from the convention, and my boy, Kirk Nesset, will be reading. Plus, it’s free. Check it.

Thursday

The Literati Gong Show
6:30PM
Location: Madam’s Organ Bar
Cost: FREE
Website: http://www.flatmancrooked.com/archives/8127
Description: Flatmancrooked with Dzanc Books, Featherproof Books, Hobart, and Barrelhouse present THE LITERATI GONG SHOW. The newest literary spectacle that promises to be huge hit and become an institution will be debuting at AWP 2011 in Washington DC. Ten contestants, all up-and-coming authors will perform anything but a straight reading for a panel of celebrity guest judges, all in hopes of avoiding The Gong, and taking home the top honors. This year’s guest judging panel includes Benjamin Percy, Pamela Houston, and Forrest Gander. Hosted by Flatmancrooked’s own Elijah M Jenkins.

Look. This shit is during the reading I’m participating in, so I won’t be in attendance. But this is a cool event with some great organizations. Try and hit both?

DOGZPLOT – JMWW – SENTENTIA – WIGLEAF Fiction Reading
7:00PM-10:00PM
Location: The Wonderland Ballroom (1101 Kenyon St. NW DC)
Cost: free
Website: http://thelookingglasslounge.com/wonderland/
Description: A night of fiction and poetry from contributors to Dogzplot, JMWW, Sententia, and Wigleaf. Writers include: Daniel Bailey, Shaindel Beers, Kim Chinquee, Jereme Dean, Greg Gerke, Mary Hamilton, Ben Loory, Robert Lopez, Kyle Minor, Meg Pokrass, Laura Ellen Scott, Peter Schwartz, Tyler Stoddard Smith, and Ben Tanzer. Hosted by: Bill Barr

Another one that conflicts with Divination, but hell if that isn’t a great lineup. I love those journals, and I’m a big fan of many of the writers included. Get yourself ready for some bar hopping during the 7 to 10 hours.

Sonora Review Turns 31: The Sexiest Party at AWP
10:30PM
Location: Madam’s Organ
Cost: Free
Website: http://sonorareview.com
Description: Sonora Review celebrates its 31st anniversary with a sexy marathon of readings at Madam’s Organ. No charge, but donations welcome. Readers include Kate Bernheimer, Kevin Canty, Nick Flynn, Joshua Furst, Michael Martone, D.A. Powell, Aurelie Sheehan, Ed Skoog, and Joshua Marie Wilkinson.

Sexiest party. Sonora Review. Nick Flynn. Michael Martone. Shit yeah.

Friday

FLORICANTO IN DC: A Multicultural Response Reading to SB 1070
6:00PM
Location: True Reformer Building, 1200 U Street NW, Washington, DC
Cost: $5 suggested. No one turned away
Website: http://literatiboricua.blogspot.com/2010/12/floricanto-in-dc-multicultural-reading.html
Description: Join us as over twenty poets lend their energy and language to a group reading in response to Arizona Senate Bill 1070 and in resistance to the atmosphere of national xenophobia under which the bill (and its emerging counterparts) were created. Confirmed readers include: Francisco X. Alarcon, Tara Betts, Sarah Browning, Regie Cabico, Carmen Catalayud, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Susan Deer Cloud, Martín Espada, Odilia Galvan Rodriguez, Carmen Gimenez Smith, Aracelis Girmay, Randall Horton, Juan Felipe Herrera, Dorianne Laux, Marilyn Nelson, Mark Nowak, Barbara Jane Reyes, Abel Salas, Sonia Sanchez, Craig Santos Perez, Hedy Trevino, Pam Ushuk, Dan Vera, Rich Villar, and Andre Yang. Co-sponsored and presented by the Acentos Foundation, Split This Rock, and the Poets Responding to SB 1070 Facebook group. Hosted by Oscar Bermeo.

This one’s for a great cause, people. Let’s show it some love.

A Poetry Reading presented by The Kenyon Review, Rescue Press and Monsters of Poetry Reading Series
7:30PM
Location: Asylum Bar, 2471 18th Street Washington, DC NW 20009
Cost: Free, or $2 dollar donation that includes entrance in raffle
Website: http://www.monstersofpoetry.org
Description: MONSTERS OF POETRY READING SERIES+ RESCUE PRESS + THE KENYON REVIEW present: JULIA STORY, ZACH SAVICH, SHANE MCCRAE, JESS LACHER, BECKA MARA MCCKAY, HANNAH SANGHEE PARK, DANIEL KHALASTCHI, CHRISTIE ANN REYNOLDS, KEVIN GONZALEZ, & ADAM FELL. A Reading @ Asylum Bar, 2471 18th Street Washington, DC NW 20009.7pm, Free…or $2 donation which gets you a raffle ticket for a raffle that includes signed books and chapbooks by the readers and presses.

Friday! Friday! Friday! THE MONSTERS OF POETRY! Kenyon Review! Awwwwwwwwwww yeah!

Corium, Prick of the Spindle, and Smokelong Quarterly Reading
7:00PM-9:30PM
Location: The Black Squirrel in Adams Morgan, 2427 18th St. NW, Washington, DC
Cost: Free
Website: http://smokelongquarterly.blogspot.com/2010/08/score-pots-smoke.html
Description: Readings by some of the best indie writers in the business, including: J. Bradley, Randall Brown, Mike Czyzniejewski, Nicolle Elizabeth, Heather Fowler, Scott Garson, Barry Graham, Joseph A. W. Quintela, Donna Vitucci, and more.

I love Corium. I love Smokelong. I love PotS. I love J. Bradley. I love Mike Czyzniejewski. I love Nicolle Elizabeth. See you at the Black Squirrel.

Saturday

M.L. Liebler, editor of Working Words and contributors Mark Nowak, Dorianne Laux, Richard Peabody, Bret Lott, and Caroline Maun
12:00PM
Location: Politics and Prose, 5015 Conn. Ave., NW, DC 20008
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.politics-prose.com/
Description: Please join M.L. Liebler and several contributors to the anthology Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out the Jams (October 2010, Coffee House Press) as they read from this 2011 Michigan Notable Book of stories, poems, songs, and essays on the working class life.

Do you know about my penchant for all things working class (I hail from Scranton don’t forget)? Because I have a penchant for all things working class.

Gulf Tolls: A Poetry Reading in Tribute to the Gulf of Mexico and Surrounding Regions
5:00PM-7:00PM
Location: Poets and Busboys–14th and V Streets, NW
Cost: $5 suggested donation. None turned away.
Website: http://www.poetsgulfcoast.wordpress.com
Description: Split This Rock (www.splitthisrock.org) and Poets for Living Waters [http://www.poetsgulfcoast.wordpress.com] are partnering to offer a poetry tribute to the Gulf of Mexico and the surrounding regions. Readers will include: Naomi Ayala, Ana Bozicevic, Nicole Cooley, Peter Cooley, Amy King, Brenda Hillman, Katherine Howell, Brenda Iijima, Jan Heller Levi, Gregory Pardlo, Lisa Pegram, Martha Serpas, Kevin Simmonds, Sandra Simmonds, Jonathan Skinner, Patricia Smith, Heidi Lynn Staples, Melissa Tuckey, and Anne Waldman. Please join us for a night of provocation and witness.

Yet another very worthy cause.

Sunday

Fiction Reading: Erika Dreifus
2:00PM
Location: National Museum of American Jewish Military History, 1811 R Street NW, Washington DC, 20009
Cost: Free
Website: http://nmajmh.org/
Description: Please join us for a reading and discussion featuring Erika Dreifus and her debut short-story collection, QUIET AMERICANS. Refreshments will be served.

I am a longtime fan of Erika Dreifus’ blog. Let’s support her book!