Cool People Doing Cool Things – Issue V

Today’s quick roundup of my cool friends and their cool creations is writer-focused, which I find very exciting. Reading is one of my favorite pastimes, so I’m always grateful when one of my pals creates something new for me to read. Come to think of it, there’ve been rather a lot of writing-based creations in these posts. Check out the first, second, third, and fourth installments and see for yourself!

Cool Person: Kelly McCullough

Kelly McCullough is a writer of science fiction and fantasy, herder and blogger of cats, and connoisseur of scotches. You may have read his Webmage and Fallen Blade books. Or you may have shared some delicious scotch with him at a convention. I highly recommend both activities. You know how you sometimes meet someone for the first time and go “Yup. This is a person I connect with. Thank you Universe/Fate/Random Chance for placing my path across his.” That’s how I felt after meeting Kelly.

Let me tell you, I was mightily relieved when I discovered he can write so well. Which brings me to…

Cool Thing: School for Sidekicks

metal porthole; Shutterstock ID 82146736

School for Sidekicks came out yesterday. I’m already three-quarters done with it. I’d be further along if I hadn’t fallen asleep reading it.

But WAIT! Let me explain how that’s a compliment. Continue reading

Falling for October Girl (Issue #2)

You know how when something starts out really strong, you get worried that the second installment isn’t going to live up to the bang-boom-pow opening?  No worries here.  Matthew Dow Smith keeps the awesome flowing in the second installment of October Girl.  That same hair’s-breadth-shy-of-brooding atmosphere is just as present as it was in issue #1, and I must admit, it’s got me looking forward to the fall.  I love when the air outside reflects what I’m reading*.

I am now picturing myself sitting in a gazebo in the chill fall air, phone tablet** in hand, re-reading all the existing issues (however many there are by that time) and enjoying the frissoney realization I could easily be in the middle of the story rather than outside it***.  This is the kind of story that sucks me in in exactly that way.

–Which is only one of the reasons I can’t wait for more.  The others include the unfolding story itself.  I’ve yammered on about the mood and haven’t even mentioned how captivating the plot is.  As with issue 1, I simply can’t wait for the next installment.  The cliffhangers in this thing are intense.  We’re talking Sarah Jane falling at the end of “Genesis of the Daleks” Part Two here****.  It remains to be seen whether the next bit is as cop-outtey as in Genesis.  I, for one, have great confidence that it’ll deliver on its promise.

Another thing I’m unaccountably enjoying is the artwork.  I tend to gravitate to the text in comics and barely scan the art, but the two work together so well in this case that I find myself consuming each with the same fervor.  Perhaps that’s what happens when they both emerge from the same fascinating brain.  Whatever the reason, I want more of it!

I can’t recommend strongly enough that you check this series out.  It’s only 99 cents an issue—cheap at twice the price!

* For the record, I also love it when the weather outside is the complete opposite of what I’m reading.  Monument by Lloyd Biggle Jr. is one of my favorite books to read in the winter—in a hot bath.  It’s one of my favorite things about winter actually.  I think re-reading October Girl in the fall might become a thing too.

**Why not?  I don’t have a tablet, but this is my fantasy, so I’m picturing it that way.

*** Or perhaps just on the periphery, but still in its world.  Even that would be a lovely escape.

****As opposed to a close-up of a floor tile in “Death to the Daleks” Part Three.

October Girl #1 (or E Gets Excited About Comics Again)

Caution: Unabashed gushing ahead.  If you’re looking for some sort of critical review, kindly move along.  Today I wanna get all slobbery about a new, exciting thing I just started loving.

Additional Caution: This post contains neither Doctor Who nor knitting–nor geeky TV of any kind.  BUT, it is about a comic book (that’s geeky!)–one written and illustrated by a lovely fella who has also written and illustrated Doctor Who comics.  So, um, are we good?  Good.

Matthew Dow Smith’s October Girl is so far up my alley, my alley is kinda sore.  It hits me squarely where I live in so many ways that I probably can’t even cover all of them here, but why not try?  Let’s start with the title: October Girl.

First: “October”   There’s something about autumn that I’ve always found magical.  (I mean the season, not the main character–whose name happens to be Autumn Ackerman.)  It’s the time of year when anything can happen.  Even the air smells like wonder and mystery.  Some think of fall as the season when things start dying.  I see it as the season when things go to sleep.  And this means there is life and energy that’s now simmering under the surface.  What could be more mysterious and exciting than that?

And part two of the title: “Girl”   I am a girl.  This speaks to me.  End of.

Okay.  Moving past the first two words.  This story starts mysteriously.  I still don’t really know what it’s about, and I can’t wait to find out.  The air surrounding it smells like the fall air I mentioned.  It’s redolent of “what if?” and “imagine this!” and “guess what?”  There’s something vital going on that I can’t quite grasp yet, but I know when I do, it’s going to be amazing.

The story’s main character, the (I assume) October Girl herself, is named Autumn.  Yes, this is a clever play on the title.  And yes, I love it.

Autum starts this story talking about imaginary things.  I think this will resonate with…well just about anyone, but it definitely hits me right where I live.  As a kid, I spent far more than a healthy amount of time in my head having imaginary conversations.  I knew I was imagining things.  Autumn may or may not have.  Regardless, the chord was struck.  In addition, she compares the lovely things she imagined with the harsh reality of the “actual” world.  Hello every-morning-of-my-life.

This appears to be a story of discovery.  I love that kind of story.  I want to go on a journey with the main character.  I’m delighted by not knowing what’s around the corner, and by knowing my page-bound companion doesn’t either.  There is no better way to hook me into a story than to tantalize me with the barest few hints and promise to reveal dazzling secrets before the odyssey is over.  This first issue snared me in exactly that way.  I am on tenterhooks waiting for issue 2.

And then there’s the art.  As those who know me well can probably tell you, I’m not an art fan.  I don’t like museums; my walls are decorated with movie posters and maps and jigsaw puzzles rather than paintings; I can’t tell a Monet from a Manet from a matinee.  But occasionally in comics, I do notice the art.  Sometimes the style and the feel of the artwork reflects and enhances the mood of the story so well that the comic becomes more than the sum of its parts.  That’s what’s happening here.  I wish I knew how to talk about it.  There are neat angles and perspectives and shadows, and some things are…chunky.  I’m not really selling it, but trust me; it works.  The pictures and the story are breathing the same air.  And I like it.  And that’s rare.  And that excites me.

It’s official.  Matthew Dow Smith has knocked it out of the park.  I can’t remember the last time I was excited about a new comic book.  Oh wait, yes I can.  It was when Neil Gaiman was writing 1602.  So it’s been nigh on a decade since I purchased a new comic–until I slapped down my electronic coin for this treat, that is.  Jeepers, for only 99 cents, you really can’t go wrong.  Best less-than-a-dollar I’ve spent in yonks.

Note that I haven’t really told you anything about the story itself.  That was on purpose.  There are a buncha places you can read a teaser or a short synopsis.  (A very good one is monkeybrain comics, where you can procure this gem [and others] for yourself.)  I think it’s more fun to go in knowing as little as possible, so I’ve left you the option to do that.

So do that.

For reals.

Right here.

(You can thank me later.)