Pre-orders Coming Soon!

We'll be opening pre-orders for Schlock Mercenary: Longshoreman of the Apocalypse on Monday, May 19th, at around 8:00am Mountain Time.

Sandra and I have decided to reduce the number of sketch editions significantly. It's hard on my hand, and it's hard on our schedule, so this time around I'll only be doing 500. These will probably sell out within five days of opening pre-orders, so please plan accordingly. You have just under five weeks before we push the button. 

Numbered sketch editions will be $30 while they last. Unsketched books will be $20.

I'll post reminders each week leading up to May 19th

Vacation! (I am taking one)

We're jumping in the car and heading for Moab. No, the car is not Turbo Schlock, so if you see a green beetle in Moab it's not mine. Unless somebody has stolen my car while we were out.

For the next four days I'm not drawing comics, but I may be writing some, and I'll certainly be writing some other things. I've got at least one piece to edit, maybe two, and three stories in the "contracted work" queue. Sure, I could write these at home, but I'm going on vacation so writing will feel special.

Also special? Family time amid red rocks. Looking forward to it. Back on Friday. Sandra says it's time to go.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I had a blast at Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Both times, even.

I saw it once in 3D, and once in 2D, and I think I preferred the 3D version for the depth it added to the aerial sequences. At any rate, it was super fun. The action was solid, the pacing was pretty close to perfect, and the dialog was tight without being predictable. 

The film was not without problems, however. There was some shaky-cam, for instance. Also the antagonist's plot used a conceit I'm not fond of, and had a hole in it. That hole could have been plugged pretty easily, but I'll hold off on posting spoilers (when I do post them they'll be in "Featured Comments" below.)

The soundtrack was also a bit of disappointment, at least for standalone listening. It supported the film well, but lacked the stirring themes we get from much of the rest of the Marvel franchise. YMMV, there, of course. There are samples you can listen to.

Still, none of this really detracted from my enjoyment of the film while I sat there in the theater. Cap 2 wasn't the perfect superhero movie that I felt The Avengers was, but that's a pretty high bar to clear. It didn't have the emotional power that Act I of Captain America: The First Avenger had, but that film was weighed down by its second and third acts, while this one shone all the way to the end. Captain America: The Winter Soldier clears my Threshold of Awesome and takes the #1 spot for the year

I hope it loses the spot, not because I want Cap to end up lower on the list, but because it's only April. I want to have at least this much fun at the movies several more times this year. We'll see if that's what happens.

May I Seat You at the Buffalito Buffet?

My friend Lawrence Schoen invited me to write an introduction for Buffalito Buffet, which is the definitive collection of his "Amazing Conroy" stories. Why? Because I love those stories.

They strike right to the heart of what I feel a good science fiction short story should be: an exploration of a new idea, the juxtaposition of some concepts that have gone previously unjuxtaposed, and last-but-not-least, a fun read. 

I wrote said introduction in early July of 2012, and in the whirlwind that has been the last twenty-one months, totally forgot I'd done it. Over the weekend I got an email from Lawrence announcing the launch of the ebook, and to my inestimable delight my name was on the cover.

Is it silly for me to be giddy about this? About my name on the cover of another author's book? It's almost as if somebody's plans for world domination are beginning to bear fruit, but only almost, because that's not something I'd plan, not when my current job is so much fun.

Anyway, I went back and read the intro, and I won't lie: Howard Tayler of 2012 managed to make Howard Tayler of 2014 excited about going back and re-reading these stories. 

Is that silly? I hope not. 

"An alien, a hypnotist, and an oxygen-excreting omnivore walk into a bar..." -- actual lead-in text from Howard Tayler's introduction to Buffalito Buffet, by Lawrence Schoen

Why Did None of You Tell Me I Could Be Raising Steam?

At some point last November the virtual system of tripwires, bells, and motion-detectors that I have tied to the Internet failed to ring, buzz, or tip over any buckets by way of alerting me to the release of a new Terry Pratchett novel. I had to discover it accidentally, five months after the fact, while shopping for something else. Come to think of it, I wasn't shopping. I was noodling around somewhere, and a banner ad -- an actual banner ad -- notified me that I really needed to be reading something right now.

I could continue to complain about the failure of progress to be progressive in ways that serve me, but that would stretch the joke a bit far, and that's not what I want to do unless I am hoping to devote a lot of time to an explanation of how much better than mine Terry Pratchett's satire is. Which is to say, "much."

So, Raising Steam: Someone on The Disc has invented steam power, and has gotten around to the finer points of not getting himself killed with it. True to his usual, brilliant form, Terry Pratchett takes a complex concept, in this case it's "innovative disruption," and reduced it to a deceptively simple-looking story. This particular story features some of my long-standing favorite characters, including Sam Vimes, Lord Vetinari, and Death, but focuses on the relatively new troublemaking innovator Moist von Lipwig, who finds himself at the pointy end of maintaining the State's interest in steam-powered locomotion.

I loved it. I laughed, I cried, I fretted a bit (but not too much), and I marveled at Pratchett's continued mastery over words. He makes them do all of the things. All! Of the things!

If you've enjoyed Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels in the past, this one is quite good. It's not as dark as Night Watch, and not quite as touching as Snuff, but it's stronger than Unseen Academicals, and right in line with Going Postal and Making Money

Am I a Terry Pratchett fan? Well, yes. As a fan, I extend this author a line of credit in the shape of "I will buy whatever he writes," and so far nothing he has written has hurt that credit rating. I'll keep reading as long as he keeps writing.

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