Salvatore Pane

Tag: The Black List

Two Reviews, a Podcast, and a Pizza Place (HAHA GET IT? LIKE THAT VAN WILDER TV SHOW LOL :))

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You want some Last Call in the City of Bridges updates? No? Fine. Would you like to hear my long, rambling thoughts about the time Chris Childs punched Kobe Bryant in the face?

Please come back. I need approval via social media to live.

Ian Denning wrote a really complex, intriguing review of Last Call here. Check it out. This is the kind of dialogue I really hoped my book would be involved in as we were gearing up to publish it. I can’t express how humbling getting a review like this is.

Also, check out the homer view from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Finally, for the more comic-savvy crowd, I sat down with Mark Poulton for the Talking About Our Issues podcast over at Image Addiction. We mostly talk about comic books and The Black List (my graphic novel which is available here digitally before it’s released physically here later this year), but we also talk Last Call.

LOVE ME!

YOU CAN BUY MY GRAPHIC NOVEL FOR ONLY $4.99!

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GUYS! For a limited time, you can download the entirety of The Black List (the graphic novel I co-created with Mark Kleman and Lamair Nash) for $4.99. This deal only lasts until the book is released physically this May. All you have to do is create a free account at Comixology (it’s wonderful; it’s how I read the majority of my comics these days), search for The Black List, and hit download. You can read it on your computer, your phone, or your tablet. THIS IS OVER A HUNDRED PAGES OF RICHARD NIXON FIGHTING CONSPIRACIES FOR LESS THAN FIVE DOLLARS! WHAT ELSE DO YOU PEOPLE WANT?

AWP 2011 Aftermath: Woah Now Hey Mr. Rager Mr. Rager Tell Me Where You’re Going Tell Us Where You’re Headed I’m Off On An Adventure Mr. Rager Tell Me Some Of Your Stories Tell Us Of Your Travels

AWP 2011 is over. Highlights, in no particular order, below.

1. Dancing in a group including xTx, Roxane Gay, my roommates Adam Reger and Robert Yune to the song “I Don’t Want to Lose Your Love Tonight” by the Outfield at HTMLGiant’s Literature party amid a crowd of hip motherfuckers.

2. The Gary Shtenygart/Amy Hempel reading/convo. Shtenygart is so fucking funny in person. I want him to be my older brother.

3. During my Future of the Book Review panel with Emily Testa, Irina Reyn and Paul Morris, some dude totally called shit on us while walking up the aisle of the ballroom and sporting sunglasses.

4. I love Emma Straub. I met her. We talked a few times. She signed my copy of her book Other People We Married. Then one night I was returning to the hotel drunk and saw her chatting with some reasonable humans and I shouted, “Emma Straub knows!” She nodded. She knew.

5. At Recessions, I met Amber Sparks and while drinking a 20 ounce Bud Light explained Spider-Man’s wife’s miscarriage from the mid-nineties and the complexities of Pokemon cards.

6. One night later I had a similar conversation with Amber’s husband in the bathroom of Ireland’s Four Provinces.

7. Aubrey Hirsch and I repeatedly asking people if they were the html giant.

8. Seeing Steve Almond, Michael Czyzniejewski, Nicolle Elizabeth and all the Smokelong/Corium/Spindle readers read at the Black Squirrel which has all these 80’s Marvel comics on the walls.

9. Jennifer Sky arm wrestling Tao Lin.

10. I finally met Brian Oliu! We walked through the hotel and parted ways outside, and only later did I realize not once did we bring up Nintendo games as expected.

11. Watching Joel Coggins puke in an Arlington trash can.

12. Getting a Write Like a Motherfucker mug from Isaac Fitzgerald and the awesome Rumpus folks.

13. Chandler Chugg-a-lugg

14. The Annalemma/Pank/MLP reading. One of the funnest readings ever.

15. The Myth of Relevance Panel.

16. This e-mail from Lauren Becker received at 3:28 am:

Subject: pegleg?

Body: argh, matey! 🙂

17. Consuming a mass amount of beer every night for four straight days.

18. Proposing to a woman named Polaroid on the Literature Party dance floor after she literally told me she would be “the Alice Munro to your Charles Baxter.”

19. Convincing a woman at Literature Party, albeit briefly, that I was Sugar from the Rumpus. Called her sweetpea and everything.

20. Cathy Day mocking Steve Gillies for being 20 years older than me.

Mark Kleman Reviews Green Lantern #55

Mark Kleman is, among many other things, my co-writer on The Black List which will see publication later this year from Arcana Comics. When he asked me to write up a little something about the recently released Origin of Dex-Starr (a cat of whom I’m a huge admirer), I couldn’t refuse. Below is Mark’s review of Green Lantern #55 where the story appears. Listen to this dude, Mark. He knows what he’s talking about. Oh, and I would like to point out that I think Firestorm is awesome.

From Mark:

“I’m going to be honest–I am not the biggest fan of Brightest Day.  The storyline does not live up to the clear direction and mega action of its predecessor, Blackest NightDay’s main book has been concentrating on resurrected ancillary characters like Firestorm and Hawkman—who only deserve a supporting role in a Justice League comic at best and probably should have remained absent from comics all together.

See, even Superman agrees. Firestorm is lame.

That said, the Brightest Day events occurring in the pages of Green Lantern are outstanding.  It has everything a true fanboy wants: heavy ring-slinger action, intrigue, and Lobo.  That’s right, you’re favorite “bastich” bounty hunter from the 1990s is back and he has run afoul of Atrocitus, leader of the Red Lantern Corps.  A massive battle ensues on the streets of New York City between Lobo and an alliance of Hal Jordan, Sinestro, and Atrocitus.  Using meat hooks on chains, flaming space-motorcycles, and giant yellow skeleton hands, Geoff Johns did a great job making this issue an action packed adventure—definitely worth picking up.

However, the best part about this issue is the inclusion of a 6-page short at the end of the comic that regales us with Dex-Starr’s origin.  For those of you who don’t know, Dex-Starr is the Red Lantern Cat and fan sensation that first appeared in Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns.  Seen here:

AWESOME

Given his blue fur, many assumed that he was an alien cat from a distant planet of ruthless felines.  But to my supreme enjoyment, it was revealed that Dex-Starr was once Dexter, a normal house cat from Brooklyn.  Until tragedy shaped him into an unstoppable engine of hatred and revenge, Dexter was a silly cat who loved playing with yarn and eating dried bits of processed meat.  Despite the fact there are literally hundreds of Super-Villains on Earth, this little cat was chosen as the being that had the most rage in its heart out of all living things that existed in Earth’s sector of the galaxy.  I don’t care who you are, that’s awesome. I found this brief story to be quite charming and funny.  Now I can only hope that one day my cat is chosen by the Red Lantern Corps.”

The Most Raged Filled Being in the Universe

Bi-Weekly Friday Art Roundup III: Galactus, Hamlet, Tony Stark

Bi-Weekly Friday Art Roundup is a feature I’m using to promote some unsung talents in the comic world. Each installment will look at five different books with artists working at varying levels of the industry, be it the indies, unpublished work, or even superhero fare for the Big Two. And of course, there’s always my covert goal of hyping my own comic book projects. So with the introduction out of the way, let’s get started.

1. Unpublished Artist Jaime Castro

With the script for The Black List graphic novel completed, co-writer Mark Kleman and I had to find a new artist to collaborate with while Lamair Nash finished his pages. For those of you who don’t know, graphic novel publishing is much different than literary fiction and more in line with creative nonfiction. We pitched to Arcana with a 22 page sample. They accepted. Now they want 110 pages. That’s going to take Lamair a long time.

In the meantime, we discovered Jaime Castro on the Millarworld forums (seriously, that place is a treasure trove of talented artists looking for writers).  We checked out his DeviantArt profile, and this is the page that made me fall in love. Besides the fact that Jaime’s art involves a superhero team fighting Nazis (awesome, right?), he also draws a dinosaur capable of reading. Look at him! Isn’t that just the perfect dinosaur? And he gets so excited about what he’s reading that he has to show it to his friend. What’s going on in his dino-brain? I definitely want to know. And when Mark and I saw this we knew Jamie would be perfect for our upcoming short, Montgomery X. Chesterfield, Gentleman of the 22nd Century.

2. Kill Shakespeare #1 written by Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col with art from Andy Belanger

I don’t know Andy Belanger, but I’ll definitely remember the name after Kill Shakespeare #1. For those unaware of the concept, Kill Shakespeare is mash-up set halfway through the events of Hamlet when the titular character is returning home to confront his uncle. He meets the Three Witches from Macbeth and teams up with Richard III. If that isn’t enough to pique your interest, check out the art by Belanger. It invokes the king and queen time period without devolving into Holy Grail camp, which is a serious concern in a property as insane as this one.  Like my list from a month or so back, this is a good one to get non-comic readers interested in the medium.

3. SHIELD #1 written by Jonathan Hickman with art from Dustin Weaver

Click on the above image to view it in full resolution; it’s the only way to do it justice. Again, I’ve never heard of Dustin Weaver, but where has he been all my life? Jonathan Hickman is one of my favorite Marvel writers. He takes this universe seriously, and that’s painfully obvious from this debut issue in which Leonardo da Vinci stands revealed as a member of SHIELD, the peace keeping force in the Marvel U.  Weaver is asked to draw a ridiculous amount of meta-insanity, and he does so with considerable skill. Just look at the above example of Galileo battling Galactus the World Eater in 1582 Rome! How can you not buy this book!?

4. The Black List written by Salvatore Pane and Mark Kleman with art from Lamair Nash

This is the super top-secret, NEVER BEFORE REVEALED, unfinished first page of The Black List graphic novel! It’s not a deleted pitch page or cover, like the other stuff I’ve uploaded. This is the real deal, just waiting to be inked, lettered and collected into the final volume. We just received this from Lamair Nash a few days ago, and it’s really hard to describe the amazing experience of dreaming up a scene in your head and then having a talented artist render it on the page. Also, holy crap, has Nash improved or what? I always thought the man had chops, but this is outstanding. I cannot wait to see the finished project.

5. Iron Man: Noir #1 written by Scott Snyder with art from Manuel Garcia

Longtime readers know that I am a Scott Snyder disciple. I blogged about American Vampire before it was the indie darling it’s become, and I am a big fan of his excellent prose short story collection, Voodoo Heart.  That being said, I love his take on Iron Man in a noir setting. Marvel’s Noir line reimagines their major characters as gritty 1930’s analogues more at home in The Maltese Falcon than Batman and Robin. Most of these titles have been hit or miss, but Snyder’s take has earned rave reviews so far. And Manuel Garcia is turning in career defining work here, people. I couldn’t find a decent picture of his noir-inspired take on Tony Stark’s Iron Man armor, but it really has to be seen to be believed. If you’re excited about the upcoming film, pick this up as an alternative universe primer on the one-and-only Tony Stark.

Bi-Weekly Friday Art Roundup II: Electric Boogaloo

Hi all. It’s time for another Bi-Weekly Friday Art Roundup. I would have liked to do a full post on the big comic news of the week–Marvel announcing an app for digital distribution on the iPad–but with AWP looming, I’m going to have to skip that for now and focus on smaller updates. For those of you who missed Roundup I, the purpose of these articles is to showcase artists I believe deserve recognition (and also to backdoor promote my upcoming graphic novel, The Black List). So why not just get started?

1. Sweet Tooth #7 by Jeff Lemire

Last month I did a top ten list of graphic novels for the literary inclined. Sweet Tooth would have made it, but at the time, it didn’t exist in paperback format, only in monthly issues. That is no longer the case. Without a doubt, Sweet Tooth is one of my favorite ongoing series. I won’t do the book any justice  describing what it’s about, so I’ll just say the work of writer/artist Jeff Lemire has to be seen to be believed. He eschews the realistic for a bizarre style that perfectly matches his apocalyptic dystopia. The most impressive aspect of his work is his facial features, something that gets glossed over by even the most successful of comic artists, especially those who photo reference. Lemire is not one of those artists. He positions his characters in straight-on, Wes Anderson style shots and lets their expressions tell the story. Anyone interested in the comics medium absolutely needs to study the work of Lemire, and there’s no better jumping on point than Sweet Tooth.

2. Blackest Night #8 Written by Geoff Johns with art from Ivan Reis

Blackest Night is an eight-issue miniseries that shows just how fun and insane superhero comics can really be. The conclusion to a multi-year story set in the Green Lantern section of the DC universe, BN succeeds on the merits of its hyper-talented artist, Ivan Reis. Check out this article by the good folks at iFanboy raving over the man’s ridiculous art skills. The average comic reader may not understand how difficult these events comics are to put out, but these are the toughest types of books to draw in the industry. Reis has to draw a cast of hundreds and literally squeezes dozens upon dozens of characters into single panels. Even if you know nothing about Green Lantern or Blackest Night, pick up this issue at a low, low price of four dollars for a master’s class in panel composition and character placement. Reis does not disappoint.

3. Unpublished Artist Tommy Smith

Tommy Smith is another artist I found on Mark Millar’s forums, and it’s very clear from a four-page sample of his work he posted that this man has chops. Being able to convey motion is a skill that sounds easier than it is to master, but right here in this one silent page, Smith gets across movement even while segmenting the flow of time. We don’t get every moment of this woman waking up, but it’s clear what’s happening thanks to the interesting angles and quirky subject choices. He doesn’t put the woman front and center in each panel. Sometimes she’s off to the side like in panel one, while others use a hyper close-up. Smith is currently looking for collaborators so if you’re a comic writer looking for someone who has storytelling down, consider shooting him an e-mail.

4. The Black List written by Salvatore Pane and Mark Kleman with art from Lamair Nash

This is one of the first finished pages Mark and I got back from Lamair, and we were absolutely floored. We posted a bunch of ads on various art websites looking for an artist and received many, many submissions. Lamair Nash was clearly the most talented, but we didn’t realize the extent of his skills until this page came in. Lamair takes a very simple, relateable moment–a twenty-something at a McJob caught goofing off by his boss–and turns it into something downright otherworldly. The closeup on protagonist Harry’s eye. The imposing figure of the boss. You can’t teach this stuff, folks. Lamair’s ability to make even the most mundane scenes bristle with energy and tension is one of the major reasons we so badly wanted to work with him on this project. And if this is what he does with a simple office scene, I can’t wait to show off what he can do with Richard Nixon firing rockets at stone mason mercenaries in secret underground laboratories.

5. Amazing Spider-Man #626 written by Fred Van Lente with art from Michael Gaydos

Three years ago I wrote articles for a great comic book website called Broken Frontier. Around the same time, a controversial of Amazing Spider-Man came out that rebooted the previous twenty years of continuity, namely the amount of time I’d followed the character. I flipped my shit. But since then, the thrice-monthly Amazing Spider-Man has been absolutely superb. The book employs a rotating cast of creators, including the brilliant writer Fred Van Lente whose MODOK’s 11 is an absolute must-read, that continues to put the screws to the life of lovable Peter Parker. Issue 626 is no different. Michael Gaydos is one of the best artists in the industry, and like Jeff Lemire, he is a master at facial expressions. Look at this exchange between Pete and his roommate Michelle Gonzalez. Is this the art you expect from a mainstream superhero book starring one of the most recognizable characters on Earth? No. It’s breathtaking. It’s a reminder of everything comics can accomplish. If you think Spider-Man begins and ends with Tobey Maguire and Sam Raimi, you owe it to yourself to run, RUN, to the nearest comic store and jump on board the new and improved Amazing.

Bi-Weekly Friday Art Roundup

I’m going to momentarily pull myself away from the glory that is March Madness to introduce a new feature I’m working on (in my best Dicky V. impersonation: It’s going to the best, baby!). Bi-Weekly Friday Art Roundup is an opportunity to showcase some of my favorite artists working in the comic industry, as well as hyping The Black List with some unused art and promotional covers. And who better to kick off the inaugural feature than Rafael Albuquerque?

Vertigo released American Vampire #1 this past Wednesday with art by Rafael Albuquerque and scripts from prose writers Scott Snyder and Stephen King. This book’s getting a ton of buzz and for good reason. Although Dark Tower and The Stand have both been adapted into comics by Marvel, this is the first time King’s actually handled scripting chores himself on a comic book. And Scott Snyder’s no slouch either, having written a very well-received short story collection, Voodoo Heart, and an issue of The Torch for Marvel. But Albuquerque’s pencils come close to stealing the show. With settings including the Old West and 1920’s Hollywood, Albuquerque really has a chance to shine here. He’s a master of body language, facial expressions and wonderfully lived-in settings. This is a book to watch.

Mitch Geralds is an artist I hadn’t heard of, but I discovered his work over on Mark Millar’s forums. He’s self-publishing his book Johnny Recon, and from the looks of the art, it’s definitely something I’d be interested in checking out. Geralds seems to be relatively undiscovered so if there’s any comic writers out there looking for a collaborator, consider getting in touch with him.

What kind of promoter would I be if I didn’t take this opportunity to once again show off the artwork of Lamair Nash, one of my collaborators on The Black List forthcoming from Arcana Comics? This guy is a superstar in the making, and I know that both Mark (my co-writer) and I feel incredibly lucky that we found him before he broke into the industry. This is a unused cover from The Black List featuring an early design of Richard Nixon, one of our main characters and heroes. The final Tricky Dick design is slightly different, however (Our Nixon is slightly younger and more buff) so we won’t be able to go use this beautiful cover.

I apologize in advance for how srunched together the art appears, but Night Owls by the Timony Twins is a must read. Published by DC’s webcomic imprint Zuda, the art of Night Owls is remarkable due to its old timey feel and classic/wacky character designs. The juxtaposition of Ernest Baxter and Roscoe the Gargoyle is hilarious and gets a chuckle pretty much on every page. I also love how the art team chose to stick with the traditional grid layout of panels. It really makes the webcomic feel like something transported out of an earlier decade regardless of bizarre subject matter.

Also: it’s free!

If you’re not reading Irredeemable, you ain’t shit. This book is one of the best indies out there and reaffirms why Mark Waid is one of the most talented comic scribes in the biz. The artist, Peter Krause, is also doing phenomenal work, but the cover above was actually done by Paul Azaceta and Dan Panosian. I haven’t heard of either of them, but I’ll definitely be looking for their work in the future after this eye-catching, yet sparse, cover for the final issue of Irredeemable‘s first year.

The Difficulty of Multiple Mediums: Literary Fiction and the Graphic Novel

It’s been snowing here in Pittsburgh for nearly two weeks now. Being unable to drive anywhere should’ve been a golden opportunity to get writing done, but I wasn’t very productive until this past Thursday. Everybody goes through periods where they feel their work is crap, but I think this time I’ve pinpointed the problem: I was writing in two mediums at the same time.

As I posted a few weeks ago, Arcana Studios recently purchased a graphic novel for publication that I’ve been working on with Mark Kleman and Lamair Nash. Let’s talk about that for a minute. I’ve never written a comic before. I’ve never even written a screenplay–other than a disaster I composed for a college class five years ago. I got the comic gig after writing a twenty-two page sample with Mark. We found Lamair on the internet. He drew it and we sent it to a bunch of companies and Arcana was the one we went with. Now they want 110 pages.

Writing the comic isn’t hard; it’s quite pleasurable in fact and scratches a very different itch than literary fiction. I’m on page 60 currently and plan to have a first draft done within the next two weeks as Mark and I are attempting to bang out the whole script in 45 days. The problem is with my literary fiction. For awhile, I was trying to write the comic book in the morning and work on short stories right after. That didn’t work. I found that scripting comics diluted my prose. So I wrote three aborted short stories before I decided to take a break from writing the comic. Then a short story flowed pretty effortlessly. With that out of the way, I’m back to the graphic novel until it’s completed.

What I’m curious about is whether other authors have such a difficult time transitioning between two mediums. Literary writers have worked on screenplays since the days of Fitzgerald and Faulkner. But comic books? Not so much. Two years ago, Jonathan Lethem did a year-long run on Omega the Unknown for Marvel.

Newsarama has an excellent interview with him where he addresses this topic somewhat:

NRAMA: What’s the experience been like, going from prose to comics?

JL: A learning experience. Reading comics as long as I have was a huge head start, but it wasn’t everything. I needed to feel my way into the form. You quickly realize that in a sense it’s not a written form. The words are important, but the more important part of my work is giving Farel Dalrymple these assignments to draw.

I think the dominant part of the comic book experience is the visual. One reason why I’ve been slow has been that I really have to do this job of storyboarding and visualization in my head, in order to make to my storytelling work in the medium’s terms.

NRAMA: What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of working in this medium?

JL: Well, I don’t think I think of it in terms of disadvantages. It’s completely satisfying on its level. I could never do only this kind of work, because I’m so engaged with language, and as I say I’ve come to feel that language is fundamentally in the back seat in comic book. Or, anyway, in the kind that I like and seem to be trying to write.

I would be a frustrated writer if I had to satisfy my entire ambition through this narrow aperture of comic book panels. In the most basic sense, as containers for words, panels just don’t hold very many of them! So on the one hand I’m excited about doing this kind of work, and on the other, it confirms my sense that I’m fundamentally a prose writer, a novelist and short-story writer.

It’s interesting that Lethem had difficult moving to the visual medium–so did I; as freeing as it was to write, “(SFX) KaBoom!” it was also terrifying when I had to rely on someone else’s visuals to convey emotion–but this doesn’t address the issue of whether Lethem found it difficult to work on both literary fiction and comics at the same time. Omega was a year-long project. Did he work on it concurrently while writing his new novel? Did he bang out all twelve Omega scripts as quickly as he could before returning to prose? I’m not really sure, but if any of you have any answers I’d be glad to hear them. This is my first stab at multi-genre productivity as you no doubt can tell.

The Black List

It’s official. The lawyers have spoken. The contracts are signed. The Black List, an original, 110-page graphic novel written by myself and Mark Kleman with art by Lamair Nash, has been purchased by Arcana Studios. Expect it to be released in late 2010 or 2011. More news to come as we get closer to the release date.