Tuesday, May 27, 2014

ArmchairBEA, Day 2: Author Interaction and More Than Just Words

Let’s talk interacting with authors IRL (in real life) or online. This is your opportunity to talk about your favorite author readings that you have attended. Or, you can feature your favorite author fan moment (i.e., an author sent you a tweet or commented on your blog). Maybe you even want to share how your interactions have changed since becoming a blogger or share your own tips that you have learned along the way when interacting with authors as a blogger. 

I guess because most of my favorite authors are dead, I haven't interacted much with any writers or been to any readings. I'm not really in touch with the book trends these days (allow me to rock in my rocking chair and wave my shotgun around threateningly at all the kids on my damn lawn) so actually engaging with authors is totally alien to me.

I attended a panel with George R. R. Martin when I went to Vericon, which would have been cool if I actually liked the A Song of Fire and Ice series. I also follow Grant Morrison, William Gibson, and Warren Ellis on Twitter but I don't really try to interact with them.

I'm just a really boring person, I guess!

There are so many mediums that feature more than just words and enhance a story in a multitude of ways. Examples may include graphic novels and comics, audiobooks, or even multimedia novels. On this day, we will be talking about those books and formats that move beyond just the words and use other ways to experience a story. Which books stand out to you in these different formats? 

The format everyone is talking about for this question is graphic novels. I'm a fan, and I've been leaving recommendations on other blog posts, but I figure I might round them up in one place!

The first kind of graphic novels I really like are the superhero deconstruction ones. "Red Son" by Mark Millar takes the great American hero, Superman, and posits an alternative universe where he landed in the Soviet Union. I generally think Superman is the single most boring hero in the genre, but a spin like this is really interesting. Plus there are cameos from Soviet Batman and Soviet Wonder Woman! Grant Morrison's little 5-issue "Supergod" also falls into this category.

The other two superhero genres I like are less deconstruction and more just general "pomo" superheroes, a bit grittier and more realistic. The first is Grant Morrison's run on "Doom Patrol," though it kind of peters out towards the end. The first two volumes are great and once I have more shelf space and a million dollars I'll have copies of my very own. The second is Brian K. Vaughan's "Ex Machina." I never got to finish the series, but I love the premise (guy gets cool tech-related superpowers from some weird artifact in the Hudson, does the superhero thing for a while and then becomes mayor of NYC). Hopefully one day I'll be able to read the whole thing!

The other kind of graphic novel I like is much more like a visual art project. The "Kabuki" series from David Mack starts out as a rather straightforward cyberpunkish thriller ("Circle of Blood), but later collections move from simple black-and-white ink drawings to glossy full-color mixed media collages ("The Alchemy").

Mystery Play also plays a lot with art form, though not to the extent that "Kabuki: The Alchemy" does. But the blurry water colors do a lot to reinforce the surreal, dream-like nature of the story.  Do you know of any other graphic novels with art like this?

Promethea is a kind of combination of the two: she is a sort of ceremonial/chaos magic superheroine, but the story goes to some truly unique and trippy places. I'll take this piece of the Alan Moore oeuvre over Watchmen or V for Vendetta any day. 

While Train Man only uses the regular written word, I feel it deserves a mention here because it uses an entirely new novel format: the story is told exclusively through a series of Internet messageboard posts. Posts that actually existed on 2chan and that you can go and read online for yourself (if you can read Japanese). Who knows how much of it's actually true and how much of it is one sad guy posting a lengthy fiction on 2chan to entertain himself and others, but it's the format I find intriguing. It's like a 21st century epistolary novel.

Audiobooks will never be for me; I get frustrated with how slowly people speak compared to how quickly I can process the words on my own. If I put something like a video lecture or a podcast on in the background I can 100% guarantee that I will space out and not absorb anything unless I sit and take notes. I much prefer music for my background noise. 

Special shout-out also goes to Agrippa: A Book of the Dead, which I could never get my hands on when it came out, and which is now useless to have since the text comes on a now-antiquated 3.5" floppy disk. Nonetheless, I still think the concept was a genius one and hope to see something like it again in the future.


  1. My interactions with authors have pretty much been me at a signing table saying "Please-sign-please-you-so-awesome-thank-you!" And that's me being eloquent. Although, now that you mention dead authors, I kind of regret not sticking around after a reading/talk with Harlan Ellison to have him sign something. Not even his spite can keep him going forever.

    Wow, Kabuki is beautiful. I'd need one to read and one to hang on my walls.

    1. There is a weird part of me that is glad to never meet authors I like because then they are forever ~flawless~. I know a couple of authors incidentally (which is to say, I met them either before they were authors or in a different context from their authorship), which makes things a bit different.

      Lolol Harlan Ellison. Spite may not keep him going forever but it can damn well try.

      Kabuki is definitely a treat. I have an Amazon gift card burning a hole in my pocket and I just might use it to fill out my Kabuki paperback collection...

  2. I don't think you're boring, but maybe shy?