Friday, August 26, 2016

Kolchak: Day of the Demons is listed in Diamond Previews right now!

 Check out that beautiful Dan Brereton cover!

The Kolchak graphic novel that I scripted, Day of the Demons, is listed in the current Diamond Previews, so if you want to be sure to have a copy when it hits the bookshelves on November 30, head down to your favorite comic book shop and place your order.

The story, which was concocted by myself and legendary Ed Gorman, involves the infiltration of several branches of the government by a shadowy supernatural group headed by a demented venture capitalist with a soft spot in his heart for a former child star who's fallen on hard times. It begins with Kolchak investigating what appears to be a case of spontaneous human combustion at an income inequality protest. Or was it just a bomb that went off prematurely?

Here's the Diamond Previews synopsis:

(W) Ed Gorman, Ricky Sprague (A) Chacon, Dennis, Aaron Felizmenio (CA) Daniel Brereton
Best-selling author Ed Gorman and Ricky Sprague pen this original graphic novel of demonic pandemonium. The country is slipping away. The signs are all around you: Mass surveillance. Police militarization. Income inequality. Drugs. While investigating an explosion at a street protest, journalist Carl Kolchak uncovers the hidden, demonic origins of modern America. Can he get the story before the country is lost forever? And even if he does, will anyone care?
In Shops: Nov 30, 2016
SRP: $10.99
Pre-order it today! 
It's also available through Amazon.
Buy as many copies as you can. First of all it's practically your patriotic duty. Second of all I have a lot of ideas for continuing the story, and the more successful this book is the less likely that "they" will be able to ignore those ideas!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston: Not exactly a love connection

In early June, the world was shocked to discover that the singer Taylor Swift and her boyfriend of more than a year, Calvin Harris (sorry, I don’t know what he does), had broken up. On June 14, 2016, E! News reported Ms. Swift was going to spend some time getting to know someone very special— herself

As for speculation that the "Shake It Off" singer is already looking to start fresh with a new relationship, it's just not the case. Instead, Taylor's upcoming summer will be all about "concentrating on herself" while hanging out with friends.

"Taylor is hanging out with her friends and keeping busy. She wants to be single for a while and have a relaxing summer," our insider shared with E! News. "She has some plans to travel this summer. Taylor has also been writing new music."

But then, well, something happened or maybe the E! News “insider” mentioned above was engaged in an elaborate game of misdirection, because the very next day TMZ reported that Ms. Swift was getting serious about someone who wasn’t herself— it was actually the actor who plays Loki in the Marvel movies, Tom Hiddleston:   

Our sources say Taylor and Calvin were in a "committed relationship," but he suspected something was up in early May ... a month before their breakup.

As we reported, at the time of the breakup Calvin posted there was still "a huge amount of love and respect." Hours after the photos surfaced Wednesday, Calvin deleted the tweet. 
We're told, "He's pissed and feels betrayed by her."

While we try to recover from the shock of E! News getting this story so wrong, let’s ponder exactly why it would be that Ms. Swift would move so “swiftly” to begin dating Mr. Hiddleston. You’ll note that in the TMZ article it states that Mr. Harris “suspected something was up in early May.” He doesn’t specifically say that he suspected that Ms. Swift’s heart was being pulled toward another soulmate.

 TayTom or, if you insist, Tiddles, holding hands like a real couple would.

“Something was up.”

On June 24, Kanye West debuted his new music video, “Famous.”  The video features Mr. West in bed with representations of nude celebrities. Among those figures is Ms. Swift.

We know that Ms. Swift knew about the song itself, which features a vulgar lyric about her, long before the video, because he contacted her about it. There’s some dispute as to why he contacted her, but not that he did: 

TMZ reported Thursday that Kanye called Taylor late last month to give her a heads up about the song. "She got the joke and gave him the thumbs up to release the song with the lyric," the site claimed. Not so, according to Swift's rep. "Kanye did not call for approval, but to ask Taylor to release his single 'Famous' on her Twitter account. She declined and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message," her rep told E! News in a statement Thursday night.

That’s according to E! News, so I suppose we should take that with a grain of salt, since they got the “Summer of Taylor” story so completely wrong. But the song itself was released in February, so whatever the case, she knew about the song.

Marketing and branding experts just hanging out.

Wikipedia claims that the video took about three months to create. That’s not an unreasonable amount of time given the work involved. At the very least, we can assume that Mr. West was working on the video in May. It’s not exactly a stretch to believe that Ms. Swift heard about the video and, even if she didn’t know that she would be depicted in the nude, she must have known that the video would feature her in some controversial capacity.

“Something was up.”

Just a couple of days after the video debuted, a “source” revealed that she’d been “concerned about Kanye’s video the past week.” So she knew about it prior to its release.

Taylor Swift caught wind of the video and knew that she had to do something. Enter Tom Hiddleston.

The relationship between Ms. Swift and Mr. Hiddleston appears to be moving quite swiftly. She even took Mr. Hiddleston in her private jet to meet his parents in England, despite the fact that she never took the time to meet Mr. Harris’s parents:  

Sources close to the former couple tell TMZ ... Calvin wanted Taylor to meet his parents, who live in the U.K., but Taylor always told him it was too far away.

We're told Calvin was understandably "bewildered and astonished" when he heard about TayTom's visit to meet his mother, Diana ... in the freakin' U.K.!! Remember, Hiddleston's only been in the picture for a few weeks at this point.

By the way, Ms. Swift and Mr. Hiddleston flew to England just a few days after Mr. West’s video debuted. And just before the video debuted, the two were in Tennessee meeting Ms. Swift’s parents, attending a Selena Gomez concert, and having a “PDA-filled dinner date”.

“Something was up.”

Ms. Swift and Mr. Hiddleston (who are collectively known as either “TayTom” or “Tiddles,” I can’t decide which is worse) were busy generating big headlines with their whirlwind, storybook romance immediately before and after the "Famous" video was released. Meanwhile, Mr. West was so desperate for publicity, he actually sent out a tweet imploring someone to sue him over it.  

And now, strangely, there are stories emerging that Mr. Hiddleston is “coming across like an opportunist” and he “might be using Ms. Swift to land the role of James Bond.”

Ms. Swift wanted to undercut Mr. West’s video. She found an actor who was willing to take on Mr. West.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Think piece: Calling out the casual misogyny of that X-Men: Apocalypse billboard

In response to overwhelming criticism, 20th Century Fox recently removed a billboard that showed a shocking act of violence directed at a woman by a man. I’m posting the image here purely for illustrative purposes. TW to anyone who is sensitive to the impact of images of gendered violence on our society:

In the image above you might think you are seeing one fictional blue-skinned mutant character fighting another fictional blue-skinned mutant character. If so, that is proof of your delusion. You have spent your entire life within a system of oppression whose effects are so pernicious that you’re unable to see the undeniable truth: The X-Men: Apocalypse billboard is a horrifying depiction of misogynistic violence that we as a culture have for too long turned a blind eye to.

The actress Rose McGowan bravely stood against the ad, eloquently stating:

"There is a major problem when the men and women at 20th Century Fox think casual violence against women is the way to market a film. There is no context in the ad, just a woman getting strangled. The fact that no one flagged this is offensive and frankly, stupid. The geniuses behind this, and I use that term lightly, need to to take a long hard look at the mirror and see how they are contributing to society.”

The ad shows a woman fighting desperately for survival against a strong, dominating, patriarchal figure. That she is being choked is significant, as toxic masculinity is often so oppressive that women actually have to struggle simply to breathe in our society. McGowan is right to point out that there’s no context to the ad. The tag line “Only the strong will survive” adds a further element of danger, implying that only those with the physical strength of a man deserve to survive in a future dominated by outmoded gender ideas, and the women will either submit or be choked out— at the whims of the men. The burned-out buildings in the background show the destruction that’s caused by toxic masculinity.

It all contributes to casual violence against women being used to market a film.

20th Century Fox’s removal of the billboard is good first step. Unfortunately it’s just that: A first step. There are so many other places that we can look for even more problematic imagery that needs to be addressed. For example, here is the poster for The Conjuring 2:

Here were see an attractive woman being choked by a hand that has a crucifix on it. You might think that this is a subtle statement against Christian bigotry, but in fact it reinforces Christian bigotry by showing the choking hand in complete control of the woman, who clearly enjoys being dominated. Look at the longing gaze in her eyes, the almost grateful flaring of the nostrils and the sensuous parting of the lips as she seems to say, “You are my master, Christian male, dominate me!”

Then there is the poster for Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising.

In the foreground of this image we see a middle aged man gazing with entitlement at a young woman whose eyes show a desire to be completely dominated by a strong male figure. She's probably wearing a bikini even though you can't see it here. In the middle ground there is a sexy, chiseled young white man who is positioned just slightly above a young woman of color who is clearly scowling in what is a subtly racist insinuation that women of color are angry all the time. Then in the background there is an older but still sexually desirable woman facing off against an overweight woman who clearly has to be hidden (diminished), despite the fact that she’s just as beautiful as the other two attractive college women, probably. I can’t really see her all that well, so if there’s any doubt it’s only for that reason and that reason alone.

Then there’s this poster for the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie:

If I have to unpack the horrifying levels of objectification displayed in this image, there is no hope for you. You’re just a shitlord who’s perfectly happy to live within a system of oppression.

What many people fail to understand is that the line between entertainment and real life is a fine one. Many of us spend our lives online, watching films, playing video games, on social media. These images have a real impact on us. The danger this poses is illuminated by Jennifer McCleary-Sills, director of gender violence and rights for the International Center for Research on Women, when she points out that the image from the X-Men: Apocalypse billboard is sexy:

She adds that the "striking image" of Apocalypse choking Mystique is a reminder of how violence against women is used as a default and "seen as sexy for all the wrong reasons."

This is a deeply disturbing insight. A lot of misogynistic men are going to find that image immensely sexy, and perhaps even become sexually aroused. That is wrong. Very, very wrong. No man should be aroused by the image of a woman being choked. Women have enough to deal with.

I’ll give a real-world example. There is a young woman, a senior in college, who lives in the apartment building down the block. She has a healthy tan and shapely hips and large breasts. She stays slender thanks to her regular volleyball training (she has a scholarship). Sometimes she and a friend of hers, a brunette who is a football cheerleader, lay out by the pool to work on their tans, and sometimes even take a swim. They wear bikinis that accentuate their figures. If I happen to be near the window in my house I can see them, if they’re in the right lounge chairs and I have my binoculars. They’re both very attractive women. Unfortunately, the volleyball player is a Trump supporter. She actually has a “Make America Great Again” hat. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen her in that hat and I’ve wanted to choke some sense into her.

In a society in which calls to violence are all too common and women are judged purely on how much sexual arousal they inspire when sunbathing, we certainly don’t need film marketers creating more sexy, violent images to legitimize misogyny.

Friday, May 27, 2016

New journalism, by me: Meet the start-ups that are thriving in the current economy

Over at When Falls the Coliseum, I posted a new piece about start-ups thriving in the current economy. Here's a sample:

SURPRISE! DINNER: Food delivery services are all the rage—even for the budget-conscious. That’s where Surprise! Dinner comes in. Their network of reasonably-compensated employees rummage through the leftovers of the customers of Fresh Direct, Peapod, Magic Kitchen, Hello Fresh, Farm Fresh To You, and more—and then deliver the findings to you! Customers get tasty, surprising, and gently used food items (some of it was even organic at one time). And for those on an extra tight budget, check out Surprise! Dinner Basics, which rummages the refuse of Surprise! Dinner clients, and brings customers the results at a further discount! 

Read more here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Get Kolchak The Night Stalker Passges of the Macabre today!

A short story I wrote in collaboration with Mighty Ed Gorman and featuring the classic Kolchak: The Night Stalker character is now available in a collection from Moonstone Books!

You can order it directly from Moonstone by clicking the link in this sentence!