In the early ’90s, I was a freelancer for a magazine about comic books called Wizard. For a couple of years I would regularly get assignments from my editor (Patrick Daniel O’Neill, who had great patience) to interview people. I got to interview Wendy and Richard Pini, whose series Elfquest got me into comics back in 1980. Alan Davis, whose drew Excalibur when it was my gateway into superhero comics. Joe Quesada early in his career, and so on, and so on. They eventually took all of the interviews in-house, and while I wrote some small news articles for a few more years, it eventually dried up. But there was one interview that was quite possibly my favorite one, which never saw print.
In 1993, Wizard published a special all about the X-Men family of comics (Wizard: X-Men Turn Thirty), which sold well enough that some other special one-shots were planned. The next one was to be a special all about Image Comics, which in the early ’90s was a relatively new company with a lot of creators who had defected from the larger publishers to write and draw their own titles. I was asked to interview a group of the “second wave” creators; not any of the original founders, but some of the writers/artists who had started comics at the company when the doors had opened up a bit. The special was eventually cancelled, and it was just as well because one of the creators in question was not returning phone calls and I’d been told his presence was a must. (This creator also had some serious problems with getting his comic out the door and I suspect he was afraid to be called out on that.) But for the interviews I did, there was one that still makes me laugh my head off. We’ll call this creator John.
I was a huge fan of John’s comic (we’ll call it Doe), one of the best of the “second wave” of titles at Image. And long before Doe, he’d done a lot of other noteworthy comics; he wasn’t a flash in the pan. So I was pretty psyched to interview him. I’d read all of his series at Image, and even some ancillary material that also existed. Big fan. I’d talked with him briefly to set up a time, and late one evening I called him back up at the appointed hour.
At first I was simply happy with how well the interview was going. He was relaxed and chatty; I’d interviewed people before who were very guarded and gave one-word answers to questions. (On the bright side, those early experiences taught me how to both ask questions that couldn’t be answered so briefly, and also how to draw out additional statements from them when confronted with such.) But as the talk progressed, I noticed that he was… really relaxed. And getting even more chatty. Around the halfway point I started to ask myself, “Is John stoned?”
A few minutes later, I responded to something he said with a reference to the ancillary material that I’d read, and he said, “Wow, you really do like this comic. Do you want to write an issue?” I laughed in response. “No, really,” he said, and I could almost imagine John leaning towards me as if he was in the room. “You should write an issue. I want you to write an issue. It would be amazing.” Well, yes. It would be amazing. I laughed a little nervously and said that I’d love to do so, and the interview continued as his behavior got a little more erratic, but hey, he was still answering questions and giving overall rational responses.
The next day, John called me. This was the first time that had ever happened. “So, Greg…” he slowly said. “Um… what did I say to you last night?”
“Well John,” I said with an unseen smile on my face, “you said I could write an issue of Doe.”
There was an uncomfortable-for-John silence, which I finally broke with a laugh and, “But I won’t hold you to that, of course.”
I could almost hear his shoulders sag in relief. “Oh good,” he finally said. We talked for a few more minutes, I mentioned the high points of the interview, and he seemed pretty pleased with it. He even gave me advice on how to try and get ahold of the incommunicado artist (“Pretend you’re from a record label, he really wants to be a musician!”) and by the time we ended the conversation he seemed really happy.
As I said, the interview never ran because the special was cancelled, and it’s a real shame because I had enough from John alone that it could have been a great solo interview. But today an art book by John that I’d ordered ages ago and forgotten about suddenly showed up in the mail, and I had to start laughing at the memory of it all. Because for a brief 14 hours, I had an offer to write an issue of his comic. And while there was no way to have ever worked that into the interview, it was and still is the most unexpected moment I’ve ever had in all of my years of comics journalism.
Hmmm. Apparently my crossposter from Wordpress is no longer working (not that I post too much on my regular blog these days). I'll go ahead and manually repost this one and see if I can get it work a little later.
It's been a long time since I've tackled the Uberlist. I first heard about this via the
In the words of Kelly Sue:
I think I only accomplish about 30% of the list in any given year (one year, I didn’t finish MAKING THE LIST) and generally by June there are a good 10 items that are no longer applicable or even desirable, but it’s a fun thing to have nonetheless, and it keeps me focused for the first few months of the year. Then I forget all about it until about, oh, say, NOVEMBER, at which point I scramble about trying to remember where I put last year’s list.
I enjoy the process partially just for the making of the list; it lets me think about things I’d like to do as one year comes to a close and another one begins. I’m never too worried about what does and does not get done; in some ways it’s a list of wishes and desires, not of things that I simply must accomplish. And it’s fun at the end of the year to look back at what seemed important or enticing at the time. It’s simply not possible to do it all; I’d never expect myself to.
With school over it felt like a good way to try and remind myself of goals and ideas I had dangling. On some level this one's a little less original than others, with a few items repeated to count for multiple times achieving the same goal, and a bunch of items either finishing up projects/games or finally tackling specific books, but at least it's a completed list. We'll see what happens. Hopefully next year's list can be a bit more robust and varied as I cross off items this year.
(Oh, some items are slightly truncated in terms of writing what they are, because I have a printed copy near my desk and squeezing 116 items onto a single page, even using three columns in landscape mode, is difficult. Also there are a few items that I'm not posting onto the web and have redacted accordingly.)
Anyway, let's see what happens.
- ADMIN: Finish writing my 2016 Uberlist
- HEALTH/BIKING: Bike a 50-miler
- HEALTH/BIKING: Regularly in non-frigid months
- HEALTH/EXERCISE: Go to MadFitness twice a month
- HEALTH/EXERCISE: Try kayaking
- HEALTH/RUNNING: Regularly three days a week
- HEALTH/RUNNING: Run 5 or 10k race (1)
- HEALTH/RUNNING: Run 5 or 10k race (2)
- HEALTH/RUNNING: Run 10-miler/half marathon
- HEALTH/RUNNING: Run 750 miles
- HEALTH/RUNNING: Run 846 miles (beat 2015)
- HEALTH/SWIMMING: Start swimming again
- HEALTH/TRIATHLON: Run a triathlon
- HEALTH/WEIGHT: Be under 155 lbs.
- HEALTH/WEIGHT: Be under 160 lbs.
- HEALTH/WEIGHT: Be under 162 lbs.
- HOME/ENTERTAINING: Cook for friends (1)
- HOME/ENTERTAINING: Cook for friends (2)
- HOME/ENTERTAINING: Cook for friends (3)
- HOME/ENTERTAINING: Cook for friends (4)
- HOME/ENTERTAINING: Cook for friends (5)
- HOME/ENTERTAINING: Cook for friends (6)
- HOME/REORGANIZING: Clean out filing cabinet
- HOME/REORGANIZING: Clean up "Olympian" external HD
- HOME/REORGANIZING: Frame vintage Italy map
- HOME/REORGANIZING: Hang new art on staircase wall
- HOME/REORGANIZING: Sort through pants and donate excess
- HOME/REORGANIZING: Sort through the gift box
- HOME/REORGANIZING: Transfer Ben's VHS to DVD
- HOME/REORGANIZING: Transfer Charlie's VHS to DVD
- LEISURE: Do things with friends more often
- LEISURE/CAMERA: Complete #366photos
- LEISURE/CAMERA: Complete 1 Second Everyday
- LEISURE/CANNING: Make blueberry jam
- LEISURE/CANNING: Make new type of jam
- LEISURE/CANNING: Make sour cherry jam
- LEISURE/CANNING: Make strawberry jam
- LEISURE/CANNING: Make tomato sauce (1)
- LEISURE/CANNING: Make tomato sauce (2)
- LEISURE/FILMS: Watch a Akira Kurosawa DVD (1)
- LEISURE/FILMS: Watch a Akira Kurosawa DVD (2)
- LEISURE/FILMS: Watch a Yasujiro Ozu DVD (1)
- LEISURE/FILMS: Watch a Yasujiro Ozu DVD (2)
- LEISURE/FILMS: Watch a Yasujiro Ozu DVD (3)
- LEISURE/FILMS/AFIDOCS: See full-length doc
- LEISURE/FILMS/AFIDOCS: See shorts compilation
- LEISURE/GAMES: Join a gaming group
- LEISURE/GAMES: Learn how to play Settlers of Catan
- LEISURE/GAMES: Win Disney Infinity: Guardians of the Galaxy
- LEISURE/GAMES: Win Disney Infinity: Star Wars: Rise Against the Empire
- LEISURE/GAMES: Win Disney Infinity: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- LEISURE/GAMES: Win Disney Infinity: The Incredibles
- LEISURE/GAMES: Win Professor Layton and the Last Specter
- LEISURE/GAMES: Win The Witcher 3
- LEISURE/LEGO: Put together Bike Shop/Coffee Shop
- LEISURE/LEGO: Put together Doctor Who set
- LEISURE/LEGO: Put together Toy and Grocery Store
- LEISURE/LOCAL: Go to an amusement park
- LEISURE/LOCAL: Go to DC United game
- LEISURE/LOCAL: Go to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
- LEISURE/LOCAL: Go to Nationals game
- LEISURE/LOCAL/EATING: Go to Jackie's before it closes
- LEISURE/LOCAL/EATING: Go to La Casita Pupuseria
- LEISURE/LOCAL/EATING: Go to Quarry House
- LEISURE/LOCAL/EATING: Go to Rose's Luxury
- LEISURE/LOCAL/EATING: Go to Urban Butcher
- LEISURE/LOCAL/EATING: Go to Velatis Caramels
- LEISURE/READING: At least 5 book club selections
- LEISURE/READING: At least 20 prose books
- LEISURE/READING: Be better at tracking (on Goodreads) comics read in 2016
- LEISURE/READING: Best American Comics 2009
- LEISURE/READING: Best American Comics 2010
- LEISURE/READING: Best American Comics 2014
- LEISURE/READING: Best American Comics 2015
- LEISURE/READING: Get better about donating
- LEISURE/READING: Jane Eyre
- LEISURE/READING: Lucky Jim
- LEISURE/READING: One from the Mieville stack
- LEISURE/READING: One from the Murakami stack
- LEISURE/READING: Read half of stack on dresser
- LEISURE/READING: Read or donate new series Doctor Who novels
- LEISURE/READING: Saturn Apartments
- LEISURE/READING: Vagabond backlog
- LEISURE/TV: Daredevil S1
- LEISURE/TV: Orange is the New Black S2
- LEISURE/TV: Transparent S2
- LIBRARIANSHIP: Volunteer with Lubuto 12 times
- LIBRARIANSHIP: Volunteer with Lubuto 20 times
- PERSONAL: Wear sweaters more often
- TRAVEL: ALA Annual or Midwinter
- TRAVEL: Big vacation with Charlie (not listed)
- TRAVEL: Florida/visit parents
- TRAVEL: Gallifrey in February
- TRAVEL: Iceland
- TRAVEL: Lost River
- TRAVEL: Spain
- TRAVEL: Weekend getaway (not listed)
- WORK/LEARNING: Learn Captivate
- WORK/LEARNING: Learn DSpace
- WORK/LEARNING: Learn PHP
- WORK/LEARNING: Learn Python
- WORK/LEARNING: Look into PMP certification
- WORK/REORGANIZING: Clear out books for eBay or donations
- WRITING: Finish a short story
- WRITING: Regularly contribute reviews to CBR
- WRITING: Submit for publication a short story
- WRITING: Write a new short story
- ZENITH: Be happy
I suppose there’s something apt about having to be in my 40s to finally achieve a 4.0, but better late than never, right?
It’s been a long two years (and technically I’m still waiting on an approval on my graduation portfolio), but it’s a wonderful feeling to be more or less done. I made some wonderful new friends in graduate school and I learned a lot to boot. Some classes stood out more than others, of course, but there’s only one class choice that I genuinely regret and I consider that a real victory.
I’ve half-joked about writing a book on how to go back to school in your 40s and who knows? With ebook self-publishing what it is, that may happen. But I’ve got a lot of other things still on my plate too; two years worth of pleasure reading to catch up on, all sorts of games that are waiting to be played, and (lest you think there’s nothing but frivolity ahead) plans to work my way through the LIS 7440 Scripting Languages for Library Applications syllabus. We’ll see how far I can get through that last one, but it would be good to learn PHP if nothing else.
It still feels strange to not have classes kicking in at the end of the month, though. I won’t miss the lack of free time, but I must admit that I will miss the chance to learn something new and to interact with some really great fellow students. In the meantime, though, I’ll enjoy getting my life back, or some approximation thereof.
It’s been a while since I’ve biked home from work: April 2011, to be precise. That was when I used to live in Arlington, and while it was a convoluted route (due to a general lack of bike-friendly routes in McLean) it wasn’t too bad. Recently I decided it was time to try and bring that option back on the table, so after a lot of scouring of maps and checking out some areas in person, I found a method to get me from McLean into downtown DC in one piece. (Getting from there to home has many options.)
On the whole, it wasn’t a bad route, a little over 19 miles. There were only three parts where I found myself audibly groaning:
- Within the first quarter mile, the sidewalk/path used to get out of downtown McLean safely became completely overgrown with plants. I had to go extra slow because it was like being in some sort of awful movie set in a jungle. Getting hit in the face with mammoth weeds, no thank you.
- For the last little stretch in Virginia, there’s a route specifically for bikes to get down from the Military Road area to Chain Bridge. It’s probably a 60 degree incline. Maybe more. Not for the faint of heart. Fortunately it’s also very small. Next time I may actually walk my bike down it.
- Finally, I made the decision to cut across the National Mall and then go home on the Metropolitan Branch Trail, instead of just hopping up the Rock Creek Park path to Blagden and then heading home that way. So many children on the Mall. So many school groups. All of them hogging all available points of egress. Next time I’m skipping the Mall.
I’d like to keep doing this once a week until the weather gets to be too hot. It’s a good way to get some extra exercise, and I need to start biking more often. For now, this will do.
Once again, and attempt to keep track of films seen and books read… I know I missed a lot of graphic novels when you count the collected editions (since I read a fair number for review purposes in serialized formats), as well as for the various zines I’ve read. This was a hectic year in terms of school and this fell to the wayside a bit. I added a bunch in at the end of the year but still, I’m sure there were some big holes. Unsurprisingly, the numbers went down because of graduate school.
- The Wolf of Wall Street
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
- The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2014: Live Action
- The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2014: Animated
- The Lego Movie
- Stranger by the Lake
- The Grand Budapest Hotel
- Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- Under the Skin
- Late Spring [晩春 Banshun]
- The Immigrant
- 112 Weddings
- Deor and I
- Art and Craft
- Obvious Child
- Magic in the Moonlight
- To Be Takei
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- The Skeleton Twins
- Gone Girl
- Human Capital [Il capitale umano]
- Two Days, One Night [Deux jours, une nuit]
- Falling Star [Stella cadente]
- Richard III
- Welcome to Night Vale: The Librarian
- The Importance of Being Earnest
- Henry IV Part 1
- La bohème
- NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour Live Show: December 2014
- The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table by Tracie McMillan
- The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
- This is Oakland: A Guide to the City’s Most Interesting Places by Melissa Davis
- Organizing Knowledge: An Introduction to Managing Access to Information by J.E. Rowley
- The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan
- Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi
- The Process of Legal Research by Christina L. Kunz
- Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
- Management Basics for Information Professionals by G. Edward Evans
- Unexpected Stories by Octavia E. Butler
- The Old Funny Stuff (Author’s Choice Monthly #1) by George Alec Effinger
- Emphatically Not SF, Almost (Author’s Choice Monthly #15) by Michael Bishop
- True Minds (Author’s Choice Monthly #12) by Spider Robinson
- Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
- Understories by Tim Horvath
- The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
- Who’s 50: 50 Doctor Who Stories To Watch Before You Die – An Unofficial Companion by Graeme Burk and Robert Smith?
- The Swimming-Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst
- Digital Curation by Ross Harvey
- Miguel Covarrubias Caricatures by Beverley J. Cox
- Metadata for Digital Collections: A How-To-Do-It Manual by Steven J. Miller
- Cruddy by Lynda Barry
Fiction Magazines, Chapbooks, and Zines:
- Kinfolk Vol. 10
- Lucky Peach Vol. 6
- Kinfolk Vol. 11
- Lucky Peach Vol. 12
- Kinfolk Vol. 12
You may already know that in addition to being a big comic book fan, I own a fair amount of original art from comics. And if you know me really well, you may know that I am a huge fan of Grendel, Matt Wagner’s signature series that my friend Dave Gross turned me onto in college. I already own some Grendel art that I adore; a Pander Brothers piece as well as a solo Arnold Pander piece, Jay Geldhof’s painting for Grendel Cycle, a J.K. Snyder III pin-up… well, now I have two more pieces that are both heading my way even as I type this, both in the hands of various shipping companies.
The first is a page from Grendel Tales: Devils and Deaths by the late, great Edvin Biukovic. Biukovic was an artist who had a short career in comics; he made his big North American debut through Grendel Tales and quickly became in-demand for his clean art style. Sadly his career ended at the age of 30 from a brain tumor, just as his career was getting huge. Earlier this month, his family released a limited number of his original art pages for sale, something that almost never happens. I ended up purchasing this beauty; I was a huge fan of Biukovic the second I bought Grendel Tales: Devils and Deaths #1, and he was a talent that was silenced far too soon.
The second is a page from this year’s Grendel vs. The Shadow, drawn by Matt Wagner himself. I never thought I’d own a Wagner Grendel page, and having the opportunity made my head explode. And if that’s not enough… just look at the detail and the graceful shading here. The art dealer whom I talked to about it said that it looks even more gorgeous in person. I cannot wait.
Once I get them framed sometime in the new year, I’ll probably swap out some pieces either at home or in my office (or both?) with these. I love the art I have hanging right now. But I really, really love these. And it’ll be nice to see something new on the walls.
I love to travel. I own guide books to places I’ll probably never go; I love reading travel diaries. My biggest complaint with my job is that I don’t get a crazy amount of vacation time with which to travel all over the world. So it’s with that in mind that I must admit that over the past three weeks, I’ve had too much travel.
I ended up with three trips; one for work, two for pleasure. And let me quickly state that the two for pleasure were both great. I had a fantastic time on both of them and I’m so glad I did them. But I am run ragged, now. I miss my routines, even if it’s just sleeping in my own bed and sitting down at my own desk.
It probably doesn’t help that in between trips #2 and 3, I also had a three-day work meeting which had me slightly wiped out by the end. Or that this semester of graduate school is proving to be the most difficult/intense one to date. (Fortunately the classes are also interesting.) Or that right before leaving for the third trip, I came down with a cold that I’m still trying to shake. None the less… it’s nice to be home. Very, very nice to be home. Fortunately that should last for the rest of the month and then some.
No doubt, by this time next month, I’ll be dreaming of travelling once more.
It’s a little hard for me to believe that I’m already halfway through my graduate school program. When classes began a year ago, graduation seemed very far away, although that could have been in part a level of nervousness. After all, it had been 18 years since I completed my undergraduate degree. And while I design online courses for a living, the idea of shifting to a fully online format for school was also a bit daunting. So, with that in mind… what have I learned so far?
Graduate school was a good idea. Of the six classes I’ve taken, I’d say that four of them were well-worth the money. I’ve learned a lot about cataloging and researching, adding to the skill sets that I already possessed. I also increased my knowledge of Access databases and SQL queries immensely, neither of which I knew very much about. Strictly from a “gaining knowledge” standpoint, those four classes have been automatic successes. As for the two other classes… well, honestly, if I was someone fresh out of my undergraduate degree and without any real-world/job-market experience, these would have probably been a lot more beneficial. So there’s certainly no anger or disappointment when it comes to those two remaining courses; they just weren’t helpful to me because they covered ground that I had already tackled or experienced on my own.
Something’s got to give. I knew, going into this, that I’d lose some free time. But somehow, it was still a bit of a surprise on just how much free time I ended up giving up. Usually at least one day on the weekend is devoured by schoolwork, for example. I’ve been reading a lot less, unfortunately, as well as finding it much more difficult to keep up with the few television shows I watch. I also had to scratch my plans to run the Nations Triathlon in DC next month; I have not made it to the pool at all this year to swim laps. (A full marathon is, needless to say, right out.)
Organization is key. I know, this is a library and information science degree, I should already know that. But in this case, I mean more along the lines of tracking my assignments. I create a master calendar with all of my assignments for the semester in the first week, highlight graded assignments in red so I don’t miss them, and then delete items as they’re finished. Additionally, I put the current week’s assignments in an app on my phone that I check off as they’re finished. It might sound like overkill (since I do have a syllabus for each class) but it makes a big difference in getting everything done.
I really do work harder now that I’m older. I will be the first to admit that I did not focus as much as I should have in my first two years of my undergraduate degree. (Spring 1991 and Fall 1992 in particular.) I buckled down after that and improved my grades a great deal, putting a lot more work into my classes. Well, that was apparently child’s play compared to the amount of effort I put into classes now. Sure, it’s graduate school so it should require more effort, but being in my 40s I find myself caring that much more about my assignments and getting them not just completed, but excellent. And honestly, at times I’m a little perplexed that not all of my fellow students are in the same boat. (Then I remember being in my 20s and I’m not that surprised. And there are some people who are almost 20 years younger than me who are even more driven and determined than I am, for that matter.)
Vacation is the best thing ever. I hadn’t realized just how important the three week break in December was, until I didn’t have any sort of break between my spring and summer classes. (Or as WSU refers to them, my Winter and my Spring/Summer classes.) There was definitely a little bit of burnout as a result; having a lot of the month of August off has helped a great deal in that regard now, but it was certainly a difficult May and June thanks to not having any real break.
And so, with all that in mind, classes officially kick off today. Six down, six to go. To use a running metaphor, this is the point in the marathon where you can start counting down the miles, because it’s no longer terrifying to do so. I can’t see the finish line yet, and won’t for a while, but at least I know it’s out there.