EISNER RECOVERING FROM HEART SURGERY
Holy crap. Taken from The Comics Reporter, who received the following e-mail from Denis Kitchen of Kitchen Sink Press:
. . . He's not supposed to return to work for 6-8 weeks (I'm making side bets), so it'd be nice in the interim if the industry deluged him with warm words while he's recuperating.
Please encourage fans and friends to send Get Well cards to:
Will Eisner Studios, Inc.
LOCUS MAGAZINE INTERVIEW
December's Locus features an exclusive interview with Michael Chabon. The interview is not available online in its entirety, but here's a few excerpts from here and there.
About science fiction: “It's quite obvious to me that so much of what goes on in the world of science fiction has analogies with a ghetto mentality, with a sense of clannishness and that ambivalence that you have: on the one hand wanting to keep outsiders out and identify all the insiders with a special language and jargon so you can tell at a glance who does and doesn't belong, and on the other hand hating that sense of confinement, wanting to move beyond the walls of the ghetto and find wider acceptance. It's a deep ambivalence. You want both at the same time: you feel confined, and you feel supported and protected.”
About creative competition for ideas: “I'm not alone in the kinds of things I do -- and sometimes that bothers me! I was very dismayed when I was about halfway through Summerland and this book American Gods by Neil Gaiman came in the mail, with his version of this country's mythology. I put it aside. The same thing happened previously when I was writing Kavalier and Clay and was sent Tom DeHaven's Derby Dugan's Depression Follies. The idea was so similar to mine, I just had to banish it from the house! Now I'm working on a novel set in an alternate-historical timeline where there's no Israel, and in World War II the United States allowed a lot of Jewish refugees into the Alaskan Territories to settle, so they started this Yiddish-speaking territory. And Philip Roth decides he has to write a novel with an alternate-history Jewish World War II timeline! My novel is called The Yiddish Policemen's Union.”
About Summerland: “Summerland grew directly out of my childhood reading. In fact, the initial idea for it came to me when I was a child. I was reading a lot of fantasy based on Celtic, Scandinavian, and British mythology -- C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander. I loved them, but I was also into American folklore and tall tales, and Native American legends. I remember thinking, 'I wonder if you could write a novel that would be like these books but would draw on American mythology and folklore.' I took the idea and put it away. It really wasn't until I had kids of my own and was reading to them those very books I'd read -- that started me thinking again, and remembering that my original ambition as a writer was to write the kind of book that became Summerland.”
About comics: "At this year's Comicon, I gave the Eisner speech, talking about my idea that children didn't abandon comics; comics abandoned children. They did it very calculatedly and avowedly: 'Let's start making comics for older readers.' It started in some ways with EC Comics in the early '50s, then Marvel in the '60s, but really took off with the rise of the independents in the 1980s. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, not criticizing that at all. It's a completely laudable ambition, and I'm very grateful for all this great work that's been done for an adult readership. Again, there's a certain amount of parallel with the ghetto mentality and the ghetto desire to assimilate. Part of that is, you try to cover up your roots when you start making it. Comics did that. They tried -- with complete justification, because of the brutal treatment their art has received for so long -- to distance themselves from the idea that they were 'greasy kids' stuff.' All I was trying to point out was that now, when comics have achieved at least a measure of critical respect (they're being reviewed in The New York Times Book Review and The New York Review of Books, for godsake!), it's time to relax a little bit.”
"REVENGE OF CAPTAIN NEMO"?!
Hey, kids, go listen to Michael Chabon's NPR interview from Monday. Go. Now.
FINISHING UP SNOW AND THE SEVEN
Looks like Chabon had a busy weekend. Taken from a Sunday post in Ayelet Waldman's blog:
It's not my fault I'm on vacation and he's on deadline.
LEARN HOW CHABON WRITES FOR $190... AND GET NO CREDIT!
Call me cynical, but there's something wrong with the University of Denver's non-credit, non-transcript course about Michael Chabon offered this January and February. No matter how much I would love to take a course titled "Wonder Boy: Writing Fiction under the Spell of Michael Chabon," I have no clue why I'd put up $190 if I'm not getting any credit for it. I mean, really.
Instructor: Andrea Dupree, professor of fiction writing at DU’s University College, Program Director and Co-Founder of Lighthouse Writers Workshop, author
Format: Five sessions: Four classroom meetings on Mondays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm, January 10, 24, 31, February 7, 2005 and a Michael Chabon lecture on Tuesday, 7:30 pm, February 15, 2005
Required text: WONDER BOYS by Michael Chabon, Picador (1995), ISBN: 0312140940
Recommended viewing: Michael Chabon's website, www.michaelchabon.com, and the movie Wonder Boys based on the book (which we may view portions of) and starring Michael Douglas and Toby McGuire.
Pre-class Assignment: Please read WONDER BOYS and also think about a a fictional work that you would like to write.
Also not a huge fan that the class only focuses on Wonder Boys when there's, say, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel or a masters thesis that might be more suitable for aspiring writers.
Am I the only one who didn't realize until reading Ronin Ro's Tales to Astonish that Timely Comics, Marvel Comic's predecessor, was in the Empire State Building from 1942 to 1951? Why did I not know about this detail, so pertinent to all that is Kavalier & Clay (in case you've somehow forgot, our two heroes in that book worked in that same building).
According to Ro's book, which details the history of comic vets Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, Timely owner Martin Goodman moved the comic company after World War II delivered "higher sales all around." Goodman moved the company from the McGrawn-Hill Building to the 14th floor of the Empire State Building.
In a Nov. 2001 interview with Roy Thomas's Alter Ego, former Timely editor-in-chief Victor Fago said Goodman made the move "[to] put everything in the same area."
"They had a little reception area about 20' by 10'," he said. "They had a long corridor that stretched from Martin Goodman's office to way in the back where they were doing the magazines. And off that was a promenade. They had offices with windows where the staff people worked."
"I don't think he expected to expand too much," he continued, "because these were the war years and a lot of people were gone. Later, for $90 a week, I hired Marcia Snyder, an artist who had done newspaper strips. She dressed like a man and lived in Greenwich Village with a girlfriend named Mickey. I never thought about her being a lesbian; I didn't care. We also had a letterer who freelanced for us; she had one arm."
In the bullpen sat some of comics' greats, including Stan Lee, Bill Everett, Dan DeCarlo, Marty Nodell and John Buscema. But their tallent went toward churning out immitations of "Disney funny animals," Ro says, while Goodman lounged.
"Goodman spent most of his days sleeping on the chaise longue in the corner, near the windows and the spectacular view of Manhattan," Ro writes. "When Fago came in with artwork, he'd open his eyes, sit up, glance quickly at the covers, and tell Fago to run with it."
Lee luckily missed much of this, off volunteering for the war from 1941 to fall 1945. Still, upon his return, he tried to pitch new super-hero concepts, but with little success. Goodman insisted on following the trends, but sales dropped drastically when he bet big on Korean War-themed comics and lost.
Timely moved from the Empire State Building to small, window-less offices at 60 Park Avenue in 1951 during the company's transition into Atlas Comics.
In Kavalier & Clay, the fictional Empire Comics moved into the Empire State Building around Oct. 1940, parking itself on the 25th floor. Timely's competition remained in the building through April 1954 when artist Joe Kavalier infamous leap from the rooftop of the building and then bought-back the company. Kavalier, in the years following the war, had taken up an illegal residency on the 72nd floor of the building.
If you've finished The Final Solution yet (and you all had better!) and you're as nerdish as me, then you're probably wondering one question: why wasn't the "old man" ever out-roght called "Sherlock Holmes," who he clearly is?
"I did it partly because I found that using the name, Holmes, impeded my being able to get into the consciouness of the character," said Michael Chabon via e-mail. "Sherlock Holmes is a name so encrusted with layers of association that I found the name kept me at arm's length from the man. There was something absurdist about it, somehow, like writing a novel about George Washington, the name is too much of a _brand_. The other reason I did it was to give myself a little more freedom to maneuver within the great teetering apparatus of Sherlockian lore, so that I could say things or refer to things that weren't strictly "true" or "possible" within the confines of the "Canon.""
"SIMPLY, THE COOLEST WRITER IN AMERICA."
Erik Spanberg over at the Christian Science Monitor wrote an awesome article about Chabon that I'm only too glad to direct all of you to.
As he gleefully points out, his desire is nothing less than annihilation of literary categories - a we-are-the-word gumbo where, say, Neal Stephenson and Robert Louis Stevenson are separated by a couple of letters rather than entire sections.
His new novella is a fine display of such vision, pairing a delightful procedural with a haunting meditation on mortality. Chabon sacrifices neither pure entertainment nor literary achievement in the process.
"When the story came in last year, there was a long pause about that," says Brigid Hughes, executive editor of The Paris Review, which originally published "The Final Solution" in its summer 2003 issue. "He brought this whole idea of interest in the genre and genre-writing, which had traditionally been isolated from literary writing. It was brilliant."
In fact, his introduction in the latest McSweeney's volume fixates on the word genre. But, just as one fears a bout with literary pretension, Chabon's wit rescues him: "Like most people who worry about whether it's better to be wrong or pretentious when pronouncing the word genre, I'm always on the lookout for a chance to drop the name of Walter Benjamin."
ESCAPIST SHIFTING TO LONG STORY ARCS SOON
Great little interview with Mr. Chabon reveals what should have been obvious to me but apparently wasn't: The Escapist will soon lose its short story format and switch to much longer tales!
In prose, Chabon has lately been reading established American popular fiction writers such as Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain, and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
It makes sense, then, that he is one of the figureheads of the new American literature, writing eminently modern works without the pretentious air of the stereotypical author, expertly lampooned by Chabon in “Wonder Boys.”
“There’s always been a pulp element to my stuff. There were gangsters and a jewel thief in ‘Mysteries of Pittsburgh,’ and a horror writer figured prominently into ‘Wonder Boys,’” he says. “I think the day (of comics and literature intermingling) is upon us—distinctions are constantly being broken.”
CHABON: KAVALIER MOVIE APPEARS "VERY MUCH DEAD"
Say it ain't so, Mike! For the love of all that is holy, say it ain't so!!!
What else? An apocryphal epilog to The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay can be found, not perhaps without a certain amount of difficulty, in the catalog to an exhibit currently on view at Atlanta's Breman Museum. I can't give the title of the exhibit because it's too embarrassing, though the show itself looks terrific.
I have just signed on to do a rewrite, for Disney, of the script for a film with the working title of Snow and the Seven, or "Kung Fu Snow White" as we call it around my house. We are all passionate Yuen Wo-Ping fans around here, in particular of his Iron Monkey and the wildly lovable Snake In Eagle's Shadow, and I am excited, pleased, and flattered to be associated in any way with the Master, who is attached to direct. I think it's going to be fun. Plus, I get to go to China.
Contradicting my earlier, rosier assessment of the situation in this space, I am now officially mired in a rewrite of my new novel, now entitled The Yiddish Policemen's Union. I still hope that it will be published in the fall of 2005, but you ought to know better, by now, than to listen to me.
... My long, perhaps tedious, review of The Norton Annotated Sherlock Holmes may be forthcoming in The New York Review of Books. Or it may not. They haven't accepted it yet. I produced a somewhat gnomic or even ponderous introduction to Dynamic Forces' first reissue of Howard Chaykin's classic, necessary, and deeply influential American Flagg!. Down the road: an introduction to a proposed reissue, by NYRB, of one of the most important books of my childhood, that dark and luminous compendium, the D'Aulaires' Norse Gods and Giants, which has somehow, shockingly, gone out of print.
KAVALIER MOVIE NEXT YEAR?
Small bit that might have gone unnoticed in today's New York Times:
"I tell them, 'I love him,' " he joked, "and I don't mean that metaphorically. I mean I want to be his lover. It's tragic."
ANCESTRY, GOLEMS IN CHABON SPEECH
Michael Chabon spoke at the Novello Festival of Reading in Virginia on Saturday, touching on his ancestry and golems:
The memoir carried him from early childhood to his second marriage and a visit to Prague, where he buried in the old Jewish cemetery a tablet purportedly able to animate a golem.
"I don't know what the point is," Chabon said of his tale, but added that belated appreciation of his ancestry has left him glad he's "part of something ancient and honorable and greater than myself."
CHABON WRITES MARTIAL ARTS SNOW WHITE FOR DISNEY
It's midnight. I'm tired. This came across the wires as I was about to hit the hay. Read and enthuse.
Hong Kong director Yuen Wo Ping will make his English-language debut on the film.
"Snow and the Seven" will be set in 1880s British colonial China and will have fantasy and martial arts elements, with the "seven" being Shaolin monks. The story also will hearken back to aspects of the original Grimm Brothers' fairy tale.
Chabon is the author of "Wonder Boys" and "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," which won him the 2001 Pulitzer for literature. Chabon also was a writer on "Spider-Man 2."
Yuen Wo Ping is a veteran of the Hong King action scene, with almost 30 films to his credit, including "Iron Monkey" and "The Red Wolf." He also was the action choreographer on the "Kill Bill" movies and "The Matrix" films.
Responding to recent interviews with Spider-Man 3's director, Michael Chabon indicated he was interested in writing the web-crawler again but had not been formally approached.
"I would love to be involved with Spider-Man 3 in any writing capacity that Sam and the producers might want to consider," Chabon said over e-mail, "but at this point neither I nor they have any such plans."
Rumors began after a recent wire interview with Sam Raimi for his newest movie, The Grudge. "[We're] bringing in the really good writers like Alvin Sargent," he said, "and maybe Michael Chabon if I can get him - yeah the best in the business."
Raimi and his brother Ivan are currently writing the movie's story, starting by "determining what Peter Parker's journey is as a human being," Raimi said.
"What deficits does he have? Where was he at the end of the last film and what is it that he still has to learn? How will this relationship with the woman he loves evolve from this point forward and what will be their new obstacles? Will it come from outside sources or will it be something from within that destroys their love? These are the questions were asking."
The third movie is also expected to be the last. ""One thing that [Sony chairman] Amy Pascal told me was that she wants to make this a proper ending to the Spider-Man saga," Raimi told LatinoReview. "I'd like to keep directing Spider-Man movies but I think she's thinking that the audience feels they want to see one more and no more. They want to have a proper ending to the story now... I'm approaching it under her guidance and that's how I'm trying to think of this film as the end."
Principal photography is scheduled to begin January 2006, with a slated release of 2007.
ALTER EGO INTERVIEW
Heads up: looks like there's a Chabon interview in Alter Ego #45, due in stores Feb. 9. Here's the sollicitation:
ALTER EGO #45 (100 pages, $5.95) features CREIG FLESSEL, BERT CHRISTMAN, and THE GOLDEN AGE SANDMAN! ALL THIS, AND MICHAEL CHABON, TOO! Behind a brand new full-color Sandman cover, painted by CREIG FLESSEL, there’s: 1930s-40s artist CREIG FLESSEL—one of DC’s earliest illustrators, and artist of the original “Sandman”—interviewed by JIM AMASH about the Golden and Platinum Ages (featuring rare and vintage art by JACK COLE, JOE SHUSTER, SHELLY MAYER, FRED GUARDINEER, CHAD GROTHKOPF, BILL ELY, GILL FOX, and other early comics talents)! 1940s writer/artist/creator BERT CHRISTMAN—in-depth coverage by DAVE ARMSTRONG, with never-before-seen photos and art, from “Sandman” to the Flying Tigers! MICHAEL CHABON, creator of The Escapist and Luna Moth, tells ROY THOMAS about researching his 2000 Pulitzer-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay—with art by WILL EISNER, GIL KANE, JACK KIRBY, DICK AYERS, MART NODELL, and SHELLY MOLDOFF! PLUS: FCA with MARC SWAYZE, C.C. BECK, plus OTTO BINDER’s “lost” Jon Jarl story—MICHAEL T. GILBERT and Mr. Monster’s Comic Crypt—BILL SCHELLY on comics fandom—ALEX TOTH on whatever he feels like talking about—and MORE!
The 100 page (plus cover), saddle-stitched 8-1/2" x 11" magazine with a full color cover and black-and-white interiors retails for $5.95 in the U.S. and ships 9 February 2005.
Okay, so, maybe I'm stretching it a little with this entry's title, but if you're like me and are a college student surviving on student newspaper paychecks, then you've come to realize November will not all you to have a lot of money left because of all of the Chabon books hitting stores.
The Final Solution: A Story Of Detection kicks off the buying spree on November 9. The story, previously printed in this summer's Paris Review, gives readers Chabon's take on the Sherlock Holmes stories. Price: $16.95 in store or $11.87 on Amazon.
Next, Dark Horse collects issues #3 and 4 of their Escapist series in Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures Of The Escapist Vol. 2 TPB November 10. Price: $17.95.
Finally, there's McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories, available November 16, edited by Chabon and featuring stories by Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, Peter Straub, David Mitchell, Jonathan Lethem, Heidi Julavits, Roddy Doyle, and others. Price: $13.95 in store or $11.16 on Amazon.
ESCAPIST #5 PREVIEW
Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist #5
By: Howard Chaykin, Jason Hall, Kevin McCarthy, Roy Thomas, Eric Wight, Paul Grist, Jeffrey Brown, David Hahn, Shawn Martinbrough, various
The blue-suited Escapist is back in the limelight!
Howard Chaykin (American Flagg) and David Hahn (Bite Club, Private Beach) team up for "Siren Song," wherein a mesmerizing saxophone player forces her listeners to commit dastardly deeds! Writer Kevin McCarthy and artist Shawn Martinbrough (Detective) present "The Death of the Escapist," with our favorite hero caught by a totalitarian despot. The dictator will crush his citizens' aspirations for freedom-starting with the Escapist! Jason Hall, of Creeper and Pistolwhip fame, writes the polemic "The Final Curtain"- featuring the return of artist Eric Wight, winner of the 2004 Russ Manning Award! Also in this issue, the Master of Elusion takes on the Physician of Illusion-Doc Hypnosis!-in a story written and drawn by Paul Grist (Kane, Jack Staff), and veteran comics scribe Roy Thomas returns with more Escapist lore of the 1960s. Last but not least, a very special story written and drawn by alternative comics wunderkind, Jeffrey Brown (Clumsy, Unlikely)!
Featuring painted cover art by Batman artist and Grendel creator!
CHABON CAMPAIGNS, THINKS AUTHORS AND POLITICS DON'T MIX
So, that political reading event I've been hyping happened almost a week ago and I totally slacked off and didn't post anything about it. The article is poorly written, in my opinion, but read it anyhow by clicking here.
BACK FOR SPIDEY 3?
I've clearly been slacking. My apologies.
MEN OF TOMORROW REVEALS BASIS OF KAVALIER SEGMENT
Gerard Jones's Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book, an account of Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster and other Golden Age pioneers, reveals in detail the basis for the jam-session in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay where the first issue of Radio Comics is made!
It was not Siegel and Shuster, but the creator of the Golden Age "Daredevil" along with artists and ghost-artists who worked on "Batman." There was a chance for some quick money for a "Daredevil" comic, and the men actually wrote and drew the entire book over that sleepless weekend.
The story was first related by "Batman" artist Jerry Robinson to Jules Feiffer for "The Great Comic Book Heroes." Jones repeats it here as his way of capturing the heady optimism and determination of the era.
Jones has a clear journalistic style that enhances his stories. And don't expect Siegel and Shuster to be always right and humble; the guys had their faults, and Jones tells it straight.
In the end, they were both all too human. It is only their creation that is immortal.
Lately this site seems to be gettig more mail from academics and authors than college students like myself. Now they're apparently even submitting works to me. Frank Shapiro, an Israeli scholar and author of Haven in Africa, submitted his take on Chabon's plot for The Yiddish Policemen's Union, scheduled for release in 2005. The commentary is based on available information about the book, and Shapiro has never read a draft of the book.
Please note that the publication of this piece on my site does not count as an endorsement of its viewpoints. But I'd like to think of this site as an open-forum for all points of view.
First, Chabon would like us to believe that had Congress enacted a law enabling large-scale immigration of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazism to Alaska, some form of a Jewish state would have been established there. Yet anybody who had lived through that period or has an inkling of the reality of America during the 1930s knows that it is highly unlikely that any form of autonomous Jewish political entity, let alone a Jewish sovereign state, could have arisen in America. Latent and vociferous anti-Semitism, stringent anti-immigration quotas and a feeble Jewish lobby blocked any realization of such national Jewish pipe-dreams in Alaska.
Second, even assuming that a political entity would have crystallized in Alaska, in no way would it have thwarted the future establishment of Israel, as Chabon seems to imagine. By 1939, the Zionist movement had evolved into a powerful ideological and pragmatic mass movement. It had already created an entire shadow governmental infrastructure within the movement and within Palestine itself. Since its inception at the end of the 19th century, political Zionism had matured from spiritual yearnings and theoretical arguments into a nationwide settler movement. In fact, a proto-Jewish state had already become a dynamic reality on the ground and its political and armed bodies were challenging the British mandate while anticipating international recognition. But beyond it all how can anyone ignore the zeitgeist of the Zionist soul? Even as tens of thousands sought to escape the barbarity of the Kishinev pogroms in 1904, not even the tempting Uganda option could persuade the ardent Zionist movement to accept an asylum outside of the historical Jewish homeland. One can only wonder whether Chabon knows all this; if he does, then perhaps his re-writing of history is a psychological need of some sort. He has, after all, been on record as stating that he sees Israel as a ghetto and exile.
And third, what is all the basis for or model of a Yiddish-speaking Alaska? Isn’t Chabon aware that his German Jewish would-be immigrants did not speak Yiddish (and, in fact, despised the Yiddish language scorning it as a Jewish bastard tongue)? And does he really believe that hundreds of thousands of Sephardic Jews would suddenly abandon their own traditional Ladino for an alien Ashkenaz tongue? And as for the younger Alaskan generation bordering on Canada and the USA, would they enthusiastically prefer this quixotic linguistic archaism to universal English?
And finally: recent findings reveal an historical account far more amazing than any such counterfactual novel and exposes Alaska as an irrelevant canard. It is as follows:
On the eve of World War Two only one country in the world existed that actually and legally was on the verge of accepting a mass immigration of Jewish refugees: the British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia, situated in southern-central Africa. In cooperation with British authorities, the Anglo-Jewish leadership developed a secret and detailed strategy for saving tens of thousands of Jews from Nazi-controlled Europe and resettling them in Northern Rhodesia. This was no Alaskan fantasy. No presidents and prime ministers barred the way, quite the reverse: the British government encouraged the mass transfer of tens of thousands of Jews from Nazi Europe to Herzl’s forgotten haven of East Africa. But bizarre as it sounds, the plans on the verge of implementation were deliberately thwarted, not by government officials or ministries, but by an elite group of opponents: the last people one would expect to block the potential salvation of European Jewry – a number of celebrated leaders of the British Jewish community!
Although Northern Rhodesia didn't work as a salvation for the Jews, it was a viable proposition - unlike Alaska, that was not considered even half-seriously by anybody, apart from a few desperate families in Germany, who could not be blamed for clutching at any straws, no matter how flimsy. The gap between Chabon’s Alaska flight of the imagination and the Northern Rhodesia salvation was as real as it was wide: had Bruno and Bianca Rosental of Neustadt simply requested a visa to Northern Rhodesia rather than Alaska they would have survived. The tropics of Africa were real (and, in fact 250 souls did make it to Northern Rhodesia), whereas Alaska was a mirage.
SIGN UP FOR OPERATION: OHIO
Stephen Elliott (Looking Forward to It) e-mailed me the address to the official Operation: Ohio website, where students in Ohio can sign up to get wake-up calls from authors like Michael Chabon and Dave Eggers on Election Day. The site also explains how to sign-up online to get a call. To visit the site, click here.
PAPERCLUTZ RESPONDS TO CHABON'S CALL
In what may be the first direct response to Michael Chabon's San Diego Comic Con speech, a new devision of NBM Publishing, "Paperclutz," will market comic books exclusively to children.
The company announced Thursday that it will publish a full-color Nancy Drew graphic novel. Scheduled for February 2005, the comic will be written by Stefan Petrucha (X-Files) with art by Sho Murase (Sei) and will fall in-line with the company's goal of creating comics with established characters.
"When the opportunity presented itself for Papercutz to obtain the graphic novel rights to Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, we jumped on it!" said Editor-in-Chief Jim Salicrup. "Papercutz can be seen as our response to Michael Chabon's Keynote Speech at the 2004 Eisner Awards asking for ‘more great comics for kids."
For more information, click here.
WAKE-UP CALL FROM CHABON, OTHERS
"This is Michael Chabon calling to remind you to vote today."
It may sound strange, but on Nov. 2, Chabon along with several other authors will man a phone bank and call first-time voters under 25 who request voting wake-up calls from a famous writer. The program is part of Operation Ohio, a youth-mobilization effort by authors such as Chabon, Dave Eggers, Aimee Bender, ZZ Packer and Tobias Wolff.
"Of course, do I think students are more likely to vote Democrat? I do," said San Francisco writer and project sponsor Stephen Elliott. "But it's actually not a partisan project."
To read more about the project, click here.
Michael Chabon once again dives into the political arena. Having already contributed to the Future Dictionary of America, Chabon and other authors will join forces with Downtown For Democracy, a political action committee, to present "Where's My Democracy," a series of readings aimed at outing President George W. Bush in the election Nov. 2.
The event takes place Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. at the UCLA campus in Westwood, California and features writers Dave Eggers, Anne Lamott, Susan Lori-Parks, Alice Sebold, David Foster Wallace and Chabon. Jonathan Safran Foer will host.
"It is no longer acceptable for the culturally progressive to be politically disengaged," a flyer for the event reads.
Procedes go to Downtown For Democracy and will be used for various get-out-the-vote efforts, including political advertising campaigns in swing states.
To buy tickets, click here.
AMERICAN FLAGG! WITH CHABON INTRO
This November, Image and Dynamic Forces will release two trade paperbacks collecting the first twelve issues of Howard Chaykin's American Flagg!. A hardcover edition will also hit stands at the same time, containing, amongst other things, both trades' material, additional cover paintings, promotional pieces, and an introduction by Michael Chabon.
For more information, click here.
AUTHORS REACH OUT FOR CALIFORNIA ARTS
A group of 27 authors, including Michael Chabon, have come together to help raise money to fill the California Arts Council's budget hole.
The council's budget dropped this year from $31 million in 2000 to $1 million in 2003. To bring in funds and awareness of the council's situation, the authors donated essays for My California: Journeys by Great Writers, a celebration of the state.
The anthology, published by Angel City Press, runs for $16.95. All procedes go to helping the council.
Michael Chabon contributed "Berkeley," an essay about his home city. The piece was first published in the March 2002 issue of Gourmet and can be read online at his personal website.
Other authors included in the book include poet Devorah Major, author Aimee Liu, and National Endowment for the Arts chair Dana Gioia.
For more information about the book, visit the MyCaliforniaProject.Org.
ESCAPIST COSTUME ON DISPLAY
Mark Newport has a show going through August 28 at the Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle featuring various superhero costumes, including Spider-Man, Aquaman, and... *drumroll* the Escapist! Suzanne Beal of Seattle Weekly had this to say of the show:
BERKELEY PHOTO BOOK HAS CHABON INTRO
My apologies for letting this slip under the radar for a month, but Berkeley: The Life and Spirit of a Remarkable Town by Kiran Singh (photos) and Ellen Weis (text) also features "The Mysteries of Berkeley" by Michael Chabon as its foreward. The essay originally appeared in the Mar. 2002 issue of Gourmet.
NEW INTERVIEW ONLINE
The Winston-Salem Journal is hosting an article about Chabon's career thus far and his time on Spider-Man 2. Most of the material is old, but there are a few goodies here and there:
SPEECH TRANSCRIPT ONLINE
Mr. Chabon was kind enough to provide a link to his keynote speech at the 2004 Eisner Awards at the San Diego Comic Con. Click here to read what the comic industry needs to do to attract children according to Chabon.
MORE FROM CON, INCLUDING SPEECH
Time magazine had more on Chabon's key-note speech delivered at the San Diego Comic Con last weekend:
SAN DIEGO UPDATE
Even more great fun at the San Diego Comic Con, this time at the 16th Annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. Taken from Comic Book Resources:
Among the other awards given out over the evening were the Comic-Con's Clampett and Manning awards. The Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award, presented by Bob's daughter Ruth, went to Mimi Cruz Carroll, co-owner of Night Flight Comics in Salt Lake City, for her efforts in using comics for literacy and her involvement in children's advocacy. The Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award went to Eric Wight, artist on "The Passing of the Key," which appeared in Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist #1.
COURT RULES FOR GEORGE T.
The California teenager who had been charged with a felony for his violent poetry had his punishment overturned by the California Supreme Court on Thursday. Michael Chabon and wife Ayelet Waldman had, along with many other authors, filed an amicus curi brief with the court, arguing in favor of the boy's first amendment rights.
The ruling will clear the criminal record of a Santa Clara County teenager identified by the court as George "Julius" T., who was sentenced to 100 days in juvenile detention when he was a 15-year-old sophomore for giving classmates copies of a poem he had written that mentioned bringing guns to school.
The prosecution of the teen attracted national attention, and several prominent writers, including Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee and Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon, weighed in on behalf of the young poet.
COMIC CON BANANZA
Chabon attended the San Diego Comic Con this past weekend to promote the Escapist comic series. He gave a talk alongside Dark Horse editor Diana Schutz during Saturday evening about the comic book. In addition, Eric Wight was nominated for the "The Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award" for his work "The Passing of the Key," in The Escapist #1. No word on whether he won or not, though the award was been given out Friday along with the Eisner Awards.
FUTURE DICTIONARY OF AMERICA
In case you had not heard yet, Chabon, along with a number of other writers, are teaming with McSweeney's to produce the Future Dictionary of America. The book, which is available to order now and will ship in early August, features almost 200 artists and writers promoting "progressive causes in the November 2004 election."
Every cent of the proceeds from this book will go to progressive organizations working on the 2004 election.
Over 150 writers contributed to this book, including: Stephen King, Robert Olen Butler, Glen David Gold, Richard Powers, Susan Straight, Sarah Vowell, Billy Collins, C.K. Williams, Colson Whitehead, Donald Antrim, Jonathan Franzen, Joyce Carol Oates, Paul Auster, Jim Shepard, Aimee Bender, Michael Chabon, Chris Ware, Jonathan Ames, Edward Hirsch, and Art Spiegelman.
The book also includes a CD, compiled by Basuk Records, with new songs and rarities from David Byrne, R.E.M., Death Cab for Cutie, Sleater-Kinney, Flaming Lips, Tom Waits, Bright Eyes, They Might Be Giants, Elliott Smith, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and many others.
Some example entries:
blowkay [bloh'-kay] adj. of an attitude, typically exhibited by the electorate, that elected officials who have sexual relations outside of marriage while in office are less deserving of impeachment than officials whose decisions lead to the loss of human life. Folks say the new senator from Rhode Island is a skirt chaser, but as long as he doesn't send thousands of Americans off to die in a war on false pretenses he's blowkay with me.
Zzzunday [zuhn'-day] n.national holiday occurring once every 28 years, when a Leap Year coincides with a Sunday. Zzzunday is celebrated with 24 hours of uninterrupted sleep, in recognition of an entire generation accumulated sleep deficit. Secondary holidays have grown to immediately precede Zzzunday, including Sleepless Friday, and a Hibernation Saturday of block parties, children sleepovers, and retail promotional sales of bed linens, mattresses, and pillows. Traditionally, insomniacs mark Zzzunday by going out to a Chinese restaurant if they can find one open that day.
KAVALIER MOVIE "PRETTY MUCH MURIBUND RIGHT NOW"
Chabon did an update to his website Friday, and with it came a slew of news, particularly regarding the status of the Kavalier & Clay movie, the Escapist comics, his novella "The Final Solution," and The Yiddish Policemen.
The proposed film version of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, to be honest, is pretty much moribund right now. I have no idea what's going on with it.
Spider-Man 2 was released on June 29. It has broken a number of box-office records, which is always nice. I am credited, along with Mssrs. Alfred Gough & Miles Millar, with having written the Screen Story. People seem to want to know which parts of the final film, if any, represent my contribution. I always say, "The ones you liked the best." That is, of course, a non-answer. As is this.
I have nearly completed what I hope is a solid draft of my new novel, now entitled The Yiddish Policemen's Union. I hope that it will be published in the fall of 2005.
The third issue of The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist a quarterly anthology published by Dark Horse Comics, is due on the stands soon. In the meantime, I have just completed work on a restoration/reconstruction of a massive 65-page script, written by Danny Sonnenschein in the early 1970s, for Sunshine Comics' short-lived, B&W, magazine-format revival of the classic Kavalier & Clay character Mr. Machine Gun.
NEW YORK TIMES ACTION
A couple of articles featuring Chabon hit the Times this past week. The first relates how married authors deal with working in competition with each other.
Competition is not our issue. Mostly our issue is that we have too many children! No, our main issue is that he is an optimist and I'm a pessimist. He's convinced everything's going to turn out fabulously. I always think it's going to turn out horribly. One of us is always surprised.
MICHAEL CHABON Neither one of us would dream of saying, "Please don't put that in there, you're embarrassing me." My whole rap has always been — with regard to my parents particularly, who haven't liked being written about — that it's too bad you had a writer for a child. In all fairness, I can only apply the same standard to myself. It serves me right, doesn't it?
We work in the same room. I sit at the desk, and she lies on the couch and works on the laptop. I ask her from time to time if I can't think of a word or a person. If you're bothering the other person, they say, I can't talk right now. But mostly we're in there, and it's just click, click, click.
YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION
Sorry it took me so long to post this, I honestly thought I had a week ago. Anyhow... apparently our good friend Mr. Chabon has decided to change the name of his next novel from Hotzeplotz to The Yiddish Policemen's Union. Honestly, I liked Hotzeplotz more, but hey, to each his own. 'Sides, it was sort of hard to remember how to spell it.
LIES ARE WONDERFUL
The Post-Standard has a nice little article about a lecture Chabon gave Wednesday at the Syracuse Civic Center. Click here to read it.
Found this interesting. It's regarding the tendency to give up on a book before one finishes it:
Even younger writers feel the press of time. Myla Goldberg (''Bee Season'') tells herself that reading a mediocre book ''would mean that I would eventually be on my deathbed having been deprived of the opportunity to read some other book, perhaps one that would have been really fun, or exciting, or even life-changing.'' Chabon gives a book two pages, Goldberg allows it 15 to 50, and a book editor I know says that ''publishing turns you into a person who decides within five pages whether you'll like something or not and who puts it down (whether it's work or personal reading) without one ounce of guilt if the answer is no.'' She added, ''I know someone who swears by nothing more than the first sentence.'' What puts these readers off? The most complained-of quality is ''lyricism,'' the piling on of metaphors, similes and extravagant imagery. Also hated are long passages of description (particularly of weather and geology) and hokey framing devices like ''I remember well the summer I turned 14. . . .'' For the writer, the pitfalls are many, and one imperative rules: ''Your beginning better be just killer,'' Chabon says.
Hey, just a quick note, McSweeney's #13 has an essay by Chabon in it. It's also guest-edited by Chris Ware of Jimmy Corrigan fame. Click here for more details.
POLITICS OF WRITING
A lot of the news articles I didn't get around to covering this past month were very political, so I figured I'd just sum them up with a nice little bit about Michael Chabon's political activities.
Mr. Chabon has taken up several political causes in the past year. In November, he and his wife Ayelet Waldman, along with several other writers, filed an amicus brief urging California's Supreme Court to overturn a ruling against a San Jose teenager who was suspended for writing violent poetry.
In April, he along with over 10,000 other American Jews petitioned President Bush and Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to assist settlers in the West Bank to voluntarily relocate as part of an initiative by Brit Tzedek v'Shalom/The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, a grassroots organization in the U.S. that seeks seperate Israeli and Palestinian states.
His most recent cause has been the publication of two op-ed pieces in The New York Times and The San Francisco Chronicle after a college student in San Francisco was expelled for writing a violent story.
He also appears to be at least privately supporting Democratic presidential candidates this election, as OpenSecrets.Org shows that he contributed $2000 to Howard Dean in September and $2000 to John Kerry in March.
And you thought he just wrote. :)
KAVALIER & CLAY iMIX!
Okay, first, let me apologize for the lack of updates lately. College has been a bitch this month, and as such, I've had to ignore this website and my comic book addiction in order to get some real work done. However, now that I'm done with finals, looks like I can update again. Yay!
That said, Mr. Chabon sent me the URL to something really cool - his very own Kavalier and Clay iMix! Here's what his mix's description says:
Nothing too obscure or unexpected here -- but lots that was evocative for me and, I hope, for the reader of the novel as well.
Here's all of the tracks on the mix. To see the actual iMix, click here.
NEW UNTOLD TALE!
Oh goody! Apparently, the spring issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review not only features the Escapist on the cover and reprinting of his origin story, but it also features a new "Untold Tale of Kavalier & Clay." For those of you not in the know, Chabon cut about hundred pages off of the end of the original Kavalier & Clay novel. One chapter of this saw print in McSweeney's #7, and now a second chapter, entitled "Breakfast in the Wreck," is being released in the Review! For more information along with ways to order the magazine, click here.
MORE THRILLING TALES
Vintage has bought Michael Chabon's McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales, Volume II. The second volume promises to "once again leading writers contribute original short stories to this anthology to continue the revival of the heretofore lost genres of short fiction... the stories of the supernatural, crime, suspense, terror, fantasy, the sea, spies and romance."
NOVELISTS AND MOVIE DIRECTORS TAKE OVER COMICS
The New York Times has posted a great article regarding how people like Michael Chabon and director Bryan Singer have begun to take-on comic books as a serious medium. Here's a segment:
One conceit of the Escapist comic books is that the stories are reprints from the decades-long run of the superhero invented by Kavalier and Clay, who in turn were thought up by Chabon. The first issue includes an elaborate text piece about the Escapist's history. Of course all the stories are being written and drawn for the first time.
"I was trying to create a pleasurable sense of doubt in the reader's mind about how made-up all this was," Chabon said. He compared the experience to seeing a magician at work. "You know he's not actually sawing anyone in half," he said. "You just end up enjoying the illusion."
Chabon was offered plenty of control on the comic and the possibility of working with many artists and writers: "It's just been such a thrill to see characters I dreamed drawn by people like Gene Colan, Howard Chaykin, and written by guys like Marv Wolfman -- the artists and writers that I grew up idolizing."
So how often will readers be treated to Escapist adventures by Chabon? "Whenever time and inspiration permit," he said.
CHILDHOOD COMICS SEE PRINT
According to a press release, Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem, and Chris Offutt are contributing childhood comics that they drew to Swink, a brand-new magazine. An accomanying article will focus on how comic books have affected many authors’ lives.
"The Final Solution," a novella by Michael Chabon published this summer, won the $1,000 Aga Khan Prize for the best fiction overall to appear in The Paris Review on Wednesday. The story appeared in The Paris Review #166. Chabon will participate in a celebratory reading along with Yiyun Li, winner of the Paris Review's first ever Plimpton Prize, on March 8 at the Paula Cooper Gallery in Manhattan. To read more about this and other awards given by the Paris Review, click here.
CHABON TO HELP LIBRARY
From the Oakland Tribune:
The second annual Berkeley Public Library Foundation's Authors Dinner is at 7 p.m. Jan. 31 at the main library, 2090 Kittredge St.
Other featured authors are Ann Packer, Tobias Wolff, Ishmael Reed, Daniel Ellsberg, Daniel Handler, Dave Eggers, Orville Schell, Marion Cunningham and Dorothy Allison.
Following a reception with a martini bar, there will be a three-course dinner with selected wines by Clos du Val.
Tickets are $250 each with all proceeds supporting the Berkeley library system.
This year, the library foundation will honor Pat Cody, co-founder of Cody's Books, with its first Fred & Pat Cody Award. Also new this year will be an online auction and a silent auction at the dinner. Auction items include trips and an overnight stay on a submarine.
People can bid to name a character in a work of fiction by Chabon, have dinner with Elizabeth Farnsworth and Khaled Hosseini or hear Maxine Hong Kingston at their book club.
ISSUE #2 PREVIEW
It suddenly occured to me that I have been giving a lot of coverage to The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist #1, but not that much to issue #2. So, without further ado, here's the solicitation for the amazing second issue:
By Kevin McCarthy, Scott Morse, Tony Tamai, Mike Baron and others, cover by Jae Lee.
Foes of freedom beware! The Escapist has returned! Join the Master of Elusion in adventure filled tales of hope and liberation in Michael Chabon Presents...The Amazing Adventures of The Escapist #2. You'll be on the edge of you seat as the Escapist ventures behind enemy lines in Nazi Germany to hunt down a German physicist on the verge of turning the tide of World War II! You'll gasp in fear as our hero battles a demonic horde in an Escapist tale from Japan!
80 pages, $5.95, in stores on March 3.
ORIGIN OF LUNA MOTH!
Ooh, goody! Looks like there's a Luna Moth origin story headed our way, to be drawn by Dean Haspiel (Batman Adventures). Here's what he had to say about it in an interview with Silver Bullet Comic Books:
DH: There isn't much to tell about the Luna Moth story I'm drawing for The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, except to say that it's a semi-origin story called The Trial of Judy Dark, it's 20-pages long, it's written by comix biggest secret, Kevin McCarthy, and I'm itching to get started on it.
GET READY VIRGINIA!
Figured I'd give all of the Viriginians a heads-up by telling them that Michael Chabon will be speaking at the Virginia Festival of the Book from March 24 to March 28 at the University of Virginia. For more information, click here. Now if only he'd come to Alaska...
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