FULL BLEED: BEFORE A THING BECOMES A THING
I said it was for free, never that it would be on schedule. So yeah, been a little while. Oh well.
Looks like I'm slated for a single panel and reading at FOG-Con coming up in a few weeks. I'll post the actual particulars once the time comes. Nothing changed in other convention appearances.
Spent some time with the ART AND ARCANA collector's edition that I got for Christmas. My relationship with D&D, as is everyone's, is pretty personal stuff. I played some, mostly played other games with much more streamlined combat systems, so more like storytelling with randomness thrown in. Had a friend who made long, elaborate scenarios which he imagined were much more intelligence tests for us than actual fun games, which is part of my falling out with things. Honestly, I spent a lot more time reading through the materials and assembling the world they suggested than playing the game itself.
And as such, I have a pretty hard dividing line between stuff I come back to with regards to the game and stuff that I pass on or might note its presence, but no more than that. Let's stake that in the DRAGONLANCE campaign and book set. Even I at the tender age of college freshman could see that they were trying to generate a big new franchise rather than keep carving out a funky set of world(s) by piecemeal and suggestion. The books did nothing for me and the visuals attached to the campaign felt like retread material no matter how well-rendered they were.
Of course, that was the path that D&D continued down in the pursuit of corporate profitability. I can't blame them. That's what game companies do now. That's not what a bunch of shaggy fantasy dorks do while working in their garages or rented offices. That's the pursuit of franchise. Which is not at all the same thing as stripping influences wholesale and strapping them together to make ersatz worlds, or getting your pals to do the line art even if they aren't technically great (though early D&D certainly did have some great artists, the very early stuff was, uh not) but they were enthusiastic. They meant it man.
And to me, that is a million times more compelling than slickly-produced painted artwork getting you hooked into whatever game world/campaign setting they were trying to sell you this year. A lot of what D&D did in the early days felt like the kinds of things my friends and I could be working on, just a step or two removed in quality. Okay, DAT was a way better artist than anyone I knew in real life. There was a sense of just doing what came to mind, not having a grand quarterly plan, throwing stuff out there and moving on. It wasn't so calculated, so professional, so merchandisable.
But then there's a lot of things that I really like much better before they figured out what they were gonna be. STAR WARS (never A NEW HOPE) is a great example. First trilogy? That's the stuff. And yeah, it was merchandised to hell and back again, but it was all ham-handed and for the fast turnaround, gotta generate that friction to stay warm because this thing ain't gonna last so cash it in now now now. The universe wasn't filled in, there were huge blank spaces, well, everywhere. Ask Marvel Comics. They generated how many issues of a universe that was just going to be discarded later (not even integrated into the Expanded Universe, which was to itself be discarded.) The Sunday Comics didn't make a lick of sense compared to the films, but they had Al Williamson art so who cared?
And sure, STAR WARS was a huge success and a franchise back by 83 was said and done. But the nature of franchise itself meant a different thing 35 years ago. It wasn't quite so supercharged. The past is the unrefined future, you dig? You can find the seeds of it, maybe even raw veins of the future, but it takes time and desire to form it into something harder and sharper.
So, yeah, I'll go out of my way to track down books and the like from the original trilogy (don't have room for portfolios or posters or even toys). That's the real stuff so far as I'm concerned. That's the stuff that means something to me. Just like I held onto my original trio of D&D books (sold my copy of DEITIES AND DEMIGODS, but was gifted a replacement some twenty years after that -- a story in itself, about lost world and technologies at this point) ever since junior high school. I paw through them occasionally, when I want to be reminded about possibility.
Hell, I should probably bring up my TERRIBLE TOME pitch and art sometime. Maybe in a little while if you remind me nicely.
As for other stuff I'm enjoying of late, the books STRANGE FREQUENCIES (by Peter Bebergal) and HIGH STATIC DEAD LINES (by Kristen Gallerneaux) are both delightful reads, deeply personal in their own ways as they spin histories out of technologies meant to bridge the gap between occult and mundane. Very much fuel for the fires on the current project, so to speak.
Oh, right, about the ongoing work. The less said the better. I'll just let you know when the draft is done. It'll be better that way.
Moviewise? Still making ill-informed decisions. Though BLIND WOMAN CURSE from 1974 was a welcome surprise. It's lady Yakuza boss versus strange witchcraft but has more personality and life in it than ten thousand made for Netflix horror films. And speaking of Netflix, I caught the first season of THE KINGDOM, which I really liked until I got to the end of the sixth episode and saw that it was also the end of the season. Of course it ends on a hard cliffhanger.
Folks. This is bad. I'm all for serial presentation. But it has to be pretty regular serial presentation, you know? Don't end a season on a cliffhanger. It's a jerk move. I mean, week to week? Sure. Bring it on. The space between episodes does enrich things, lets the viewer stew in the sensations and thoughts. The problem is when something stews for too long a time, you get soup with barely-recognizable shreds of things in it. Which is too bad. THE KINGDOM was very well made and acted, solidly written. I'd watch a lot of it, were it structured otherwise. But it is, apparently, not.
"But what about TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN, Matt?"
Glad you asked. Given what TWIN PEAKS was, I never in my wildest dreams expected a third season, much less one 25 years later. And it chose a completely different path than most other serial television, particularly those that want to continue an old story. It stubbornly refused to be easy and jump into the expected. It is the exception that makes the rule complete.
Here's some linkblogging to round things out. Until next week sometime.
Laurie Spiegel on THE EXPANDING UNIVERSE
Beware fake agents
It came from the 80s, retro darkwave
First TV appearance of Ziggy Stardust uncovered
VALIS and THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH
UNSEEN WORLDS reissued. If you aren't familiar with this, it's Laurie Spiegel's first (I believe) album, featuring some essential electronic work from the early years. If you're curious, dig into "Appalachian Grove" which is a great crossover of material versus arrangement turning things into something new altogether. Recommended.