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San Diego Comic Con - Appearance Schedule

If you’re in San Diego this weekend, with a burning desire to look upon my face and hear me make noises from my baloney-hole, you’re in luck. I’m all over the place this Comic Con… there are no end of the opportunities to make contact. In fact, I’m doing so much, I can’t blame you if you get kind of sick of me. Trust me, I feel the same way most of the time.

Here’s what I’m doing:

Thursday, July 18, 11:30 AM - DC Publishers Panel (Room 6DE). I’ll be there to wave the entrails and spread the good word about Hill House Comics, coming this October.

Friday, July 19, Noon - Locke & Key Panel with Gabriel Rodriguez and Chris Ryall. (Room 32AB) We’ll be blabbing about Keyhouse’s storied past… and foreboding future.

Friday, July 20, 4:15 PM - D.C. Summoning Nightmares in Horror Comics (Room 6DE) We’ll be pulling back the curtain on our forthcoming slate of dark red horror comics, including Basketful of Heads, The Dollhouse Family, Daphne Byrne, The Low, Low Woods, Plunge, and Sea Dogs.

Friday, July 20, 5:45 PM - First Look at Shudder’s Creepshow (Room 6BCF) With Showrunner Greg Nicotereo and Creepshow legend Adrienne Barbeau and other guests!

Saturday, July 21, 5:30 PM - NOS4A2 (Room 6A). With show runner Jami O’Brien, Zachary Quinto (Charlie Manx) and Ashleigh Cummings (Vic McQueen). With only 3 episodes left before it’s all over, you ain’t gonna wanna miss it.

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San Diego Comic Con - Get Yer S*%# signed

Oh that’s right… I forgot: I have a blog. I’ve rediscovered it at exactly the right time, because it’s the ideal place to post my San Diego Comic Con schedule. I’m always glad to be here and I’m hoping to see you here too. Yes, you.

Do you have a pile of Joe Hill crap-ola you need signed? Wee-yow do I have you covered. Here’s when I’m signing and where.

Thursday, July 18th, 2019 - 1:00 PM - HarperCollins Booth (1029): Signing for an hour. I think (I might be wrong) that it’s possible to get an advance copy of Full Throttle at the booth, possibly by buying one of my other books, but I’m not sure about that, and can’t find any confirmation online. So don’t hate on me too hard if I’ve got that screwed up.

Friday, July 19th, 2019 - 2:00 PM - IDW Booth (2729) - with GABRIEL RODRIGUEZ: Gabe and I will be there to sign for an hour following our Locke & Key panel earlier in the afternoon. Check it out, dudes… there WILL be a (previously-hinted-at) Locke & Key exclusive available. Come’n get it.

Sunday, July 21st, 2019 - 11:00AM - IDW Booth (2729) - with GABRIEL RODRIGUEZ: We’ll be scribbling again Sunday morning and hopefully will still have copies of the exclusive-secret-whatever-it-is to dish out. If you missed us Friday, here’s your (last) chance to catch us together.

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NEWS-4U2

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This is gonna be cool. There’ll be one more issue of Escape Hatch, and then the Hatch is going to swing shut for a few months (it’ll be back!), and I’ll be doing this instead. Sign up and you’ll get a weekly recap of what happened on NOS4A2, along with a few thoughts about what I liked, some behind the scenes stuff, and who knows — maybe interviews with some of the other folks who worked on the show? Sign up here.

We really should’ve called the newsletter “NEWS-4U2” shouldn’t we?

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Unseen Worlds

Wikimedia Commons - Winfried Bruenken

Wikimedia Commons - Winfried Bruenken

I read a great one last week: The Stone Table by Francis Spufford. No, don’t bother to look for it on Goodreads or Amazon. You won’t find it there. Francis Spufford is a literary craftsman of the highest degree, well regarded for novels like Golden Hill and Red Plenty, as well as a Christian essayist out of the Anglican tradition. He wrote Table after his daughter fell in love with the Narnia books, polished them off, and began to wistfully wish for more. He set out to see if he couldn’t make something up for her, and gradually became obsessed with trying to capture Lewis’s exact tone and sensibility.

And so, he wound up composing a really ludicrously beautiful work of fan fiction, that slots perfectly into the established Narnia chronology (and even fills in a couple important narrative gaps). For myself, I found this new tale of Digory Kirke and Polly Plummer a pure pleasure, from first page to last. It’s a great adventure, with a menacing (and sort of hilarious) giant, sinister spellcraft, and delightful transformations. To my mind, though, Spufford’s real accomplishment is in the way he captured Lewis’s wit. People forget how funny the Narnia books are. Let me remind you. Lewis began one of the Narnia novels:

“There was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb and he almost deserved it.”

I will never write a sentence that good in my life and neither will you… but to his credit, Spufford comes very close on a couple of occasions.

Some have floated the idea — the hope — that the Lewis estate might allow publication of the book as an authorized continuation. Without their permission, The Stone Table will remain an unseen world until 2034, which is when the copyright protection runs out.

One hopes they’ll give it a look, ey? They’re under no obligation but seems a shame not to at least mull it over. I mean, the Internet is swamped with fan fiction, and I’m sure a lot of it is crap (Sturgeon’s Law and all that). J.K. Rowling isn’t required to read anyone’s Harry/Luna slash, let alone publish it (even though, let’s face it, Harry belonged with Luna, and anyone who says different is probably a Dementor).

Still. As Michael Chabon has noted, we’re all writing fan fiction. One of the ideas I kick around in Full Throttle, the next collection, is the idea that almost all of my stories have been in conversation with the writers and artists that most thrilled me: my parents, Tom Savini, Dave McKean, Bradbury, etc. How many mystery writers set out simply to recapture the way the stories of Agatha Christie or Conan Doyle made them feel? The names have been changed to protect the guilty, but those influences can still be detected if you have a keen eye. There’s always a market for stories written with compassion, imagination, humor, and care, whether they occur in a wholly original world or have been located in a previously created universe (raise your hand if you think the Zahn Star Wars novels were 1000% better than the prequels). In this case the question is only whether the license holders are open to it, and only they can answer that. I’ll be interested to see which way they break.

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Sorrow's End

(Wikimedia Commons — By Crimfants - https://www.flickr.com/photos/crimfants/327861820/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2227266)

(Wikimedia Commons — By Crimfants - https://www.flickr.com/photos/crimfants/327861820/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2227266)

Question time: when was the last time you cried in a movie?

If it was Avengers: Endgame, you should also note when was the last time before that.

I sat through Avengers with a big stupid smile on my face, from beginning to end. I found it tremendously satisfying. But because I have a deformed and petrified heart, it didn’t ever quite manage to blur my vision. Last time I got weepy in a film was The Kids Are All Right, which happened to be exactly the film I needed at the time.

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Time Flies

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30 years of Sandman. What an honor it was to write a preface for the latest paperback edition. I had good company — I’m a big fan of the fella who wrote the original intro.

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Fruits of the New York Times

I had plenty of time to cool my heels in airports this last half month — plenty — and read mad amounts, including some interesting pop cult talk in The New York Times. Some highlights:

Yes to this. You want to improve your experience of reading a book? Hit that thing the way you’d hit a new season of Stranger Things if Netflix dropped it tomorrow. Figure out how many pages you can read in, say, 45 minutes. Then, next time you sit down with the book, try and read that many pages before you look at your phone again. The more time and energy you can give to a novel,, the more the mental effort melts away, and the story comes roaring forth, with a cast of thousands and no budgetary limits on the SFX.

Here’s some good talk about Avengers: Endgame, and the way the superhero film has become an invasive species that has driven most of the other fish out of the theatrical pond. I am myself a guy who loves the superhero genre and I’m blown away by what has been accomplished in just over a decade of films set in the MCU. Is it the best franchise ever? Isn’t it? Remember, we’re talking 22 films here; Bond has had 24 films, but it took him 50 years to get there, and, like, half of ‘em are really cheesy. Endgame is a sublime bit of closure, the ending we hoped for but didn’t quite dare hope we’d get.

Stilllllll…. Manohla Dargis has a dark spin on the MCU which I thought was worth a look. Cause, like, what are these films really about? Don’t they sort of celebrate the idea of an unelected high-powered elite — people with access to limitless wealth and bottomless governmental resources — using science we don’t understand to solve problems too overwhelming for an ordinary person to comprehend? They have dick measuring contests that leave cities and nations in ruins, but they walk away without one lock of hair out of place. The subtext here is that we should be happy to turn our power over to the 1% — Bezos, Zuckerberg, Trump — and be grateful they don’t reduce our planet entirely to cinders.

Okay, maybe — MAYBE — that’s overthinking it. (My wife says they’re delightful action-comedies that give folks some desperately needed wish fulfillment. Sometimes, the most generous take is also the most accurate one.)

The online YA community has become a realllllllly fucked up place. But you knew that. I… just don’t think a couple hundred people ganging up to destroy a first novel (and crush the novelist in the process) before the book is even released is healthy literary criticism. Remember when everyone was getting off on the idea of wiping out the literary gatekeepers and ushering in a new era of free expression? Turns out the Internet is waaaaaay more repressive than your average publishing house.

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It Never Gets Old

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Just arrived back home after a few weeks of rambling to find a whole box jammed with Advance Reader’s Editions of FULL THROTTLE. It’s always a thrill to get physical copies of a new book. I hope it never gets stale.

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Judge A Book By Its Cover

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I was looking at this Victor Kalin cover from — what? The early 60s maybe? — and had a weird idea. Wouldn’t it be interesting to read a dozen books illustrated by the same cover artist from the same time period? It’s so much more typical (and sensible) to choose books based on the author or subject or genre. But you could probably have a hell of a lot of fun reading a stack of pulp paperbacks, where the only common thread is that they all have cover art by Kalin, or Robert McGinnis, or Robert Maguire.

Don’t know if I’ll ever do it, but I do like coming up with eccentric reading projects for myself. Ever given yourself a random reading mission?

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The Reason I Write

American rocknrolla Matthew Ryan pointed me to this remarkable poem by Leonard Cohen, titled “The Reason I Write.”

***

The reason I write
is to make something
as beautiful as you are

When I'm with you
I want to be the kind of hero
I wanted to be
when I was seven years old
a perfect man
who kills

***

Love that.

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June 2nd

The first episode of NOS4A2 airs on June 2nd, immediately after FEAR THE WALKING DEAD. And here’s the full trailer.

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FULL THROTTLE

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Out this fall, a new collection of thirteen stories that go FULL THROTTLE. This is my first collection of shorts since 2005’s 20TH CENTURY GHOSTS (STRANGE WEATHER was four novellas, which is something of a different beast).

The book features a pair of collaborations with the best writer I know: my dad, who leant his pen to both “Throttle” and “In The Tall Grass” (Netflix will soon release the latter as a feature). FULL THROTTLE also includes “Faun,” another Netflix-film-to-come. There’s a story here that will be the basis for an episode of the upcoming Creepshow anthology, on Shudder (I’m not sure I’m clear to identify which one yet). There are two never-published tales: “Mums” and “Late Returns.” Then there’s “You Are Released,” which was just nominated for a Bram Stoker Award, and which was selected for inclusion in Ellen Datlow’s Best New Horror collection. And there’s a bunch of other stuff besides.

You can preorder now from the usual suspects: https://bit.ly/2CGmroj 

If you do check it out, here’s hoping you have some fun with it. And hey, maybe I’ll see you on the road in October and scribble in yer book?

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Wheels Up: March and April Appearances

[UPDATED TO CORRECT THE DATE FOR THE EXETER LIT FEST]

The latest issue of Escape Hatch will be out later today and it has full rundown of my spring travel. But I thought I ought to have something up here on the blog for those incomprehensible few who haven’t yet subscribed to the newsletter.

AUSTIN, TX * SXSW FESTIVAL
ALAMO LAMAR
MARCH 11, 6:15 PM
w/ ASHLEIGH CUMMINGS, ZACAHARY QUINTO, JAMI O'BRIEN

I'm in Texas to show-off the very first episode of AMC's NOS4A2 with our heroine, Ashleigh, our villainous villain Zach, and our amazing show-runner Jami. Q&A to follow.

ANAHEIM, CA * WONDERCON
ARENA
MARCH 30, 11:15 - 12:45
w/ ZACAHARY QUINTO, JAMI O'BRIEN

I'll be at WonderCon with Zach and Jami (and mmmmmaybe Ashleigh?) with another chance to show off a killer first episode.

EXETER, NH * EXETER LIT FEST
EXETER TOWN HALL (upstairs gallery)
APRIL 5, 7 - 8PM
w/ BITTER PILL

I'll be in Exeter, New Hampshire, to read... something... do a Q&A and sign books, all to support the inaugural Exeter Lit Fest. Bitter Pill is going to bring the rocknroll.

TALLAHASSEE, FL * WORD OF SOUTH FESTIVAL
LYRIC STAGE
APRIL 14, 3PM

w/ MATTHEW RYAN
I'm so looking forward to doing an event with my pal, Matthew Ryan, rocknrolla extraordinaire. When my story "Dark Carousel" was released as an audiobook on vinyl, Matt provided a transcendent cover of the Stones' "Wild Horses" to go with it. Come on out and see us -- he'll play, I'll read, and we'll all have fun.

There are a few other opportunities to see NOS4A2 early. I won’t be at the screenings in Seattle and Chicago, but if you’re able to make it, I kinda think you’ll have a good time anyway. I’m real proud of our show.

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The Sliding Scale of Difficulty

For this writer anyway, from easiest, to hardest:

  • comics

  • scripts (television)

  • scripts (film)

  • novellas

  • short stories

  • novels

  • personal essay

  • poetry

Not on the list: introductions. They’re generally difficult to write, but on the other hand, the pay is lousy.

This doesn’t say anything about what’s most satisfying to write, or what I take the most pride in. Perhaps because novels are the most challenging, they’re often what I feel most attached to, after the fact. But that can’t be a surprise — you live with a novel much longer than you live with, say, the script for a 22 page comic. Authors are always saying writing a novel is like having children. Actually, I’m pretty sure nine months of carrying a gestating creature around in your abdomen, and then ejecting it after ten hours of groaning labor, in a spray of H.R. Geiger fluids, is fucking noooooothing like playing make believe in your office for a couple hours every day. Still, maybe they are a little like pets. Sometimes they scratch, they take months to housebreak, they HATE baths (rewrites)… and some days they curl up into your lap and begin to purr and you feel awash in contentment. You can get attached to that last feeling. That can make all the hard parts worth it.

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