Len Wein and the Most Important Comic of All Time

Len Wein! His contributions to comics are too vast to fully comprehend. Wein played a disproportionately huge role in pivoting comics into the modern era.

There’s definitely an argument to be made for Giant Size X-Men #1 being the most important comic book of all time. It certainly marked the beginning of my emotional investment in comic universes. “Second Genesis” was a cultural Big Bang, from which all the hype of the ’80s and ’90s sprung forth. It took comics from “then” to “now” in a big, big way. For me, that single issue (discovered via reprints, mind you) served as both a portal to the future and a gateway to the past. Like some kind of newsprint Mother Box, it contained universes of possibilities.

Aside from that ONE SINGLE ISSUE (and his role in the creation of Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, and Nightcrawler) Wein also co-created Swamp Thing, The Human Target, and Lucius Fox of the Batman universe (famously played by Morgan Freeman). He also edited Camelot 3000 and Watchmen. And that’s just scratching the surface. A legend!!

Posted in Comics

Installing Doom

As a nerdy reclusive teenager from Massachusetts I made for a strange transplant to the wilds of Central Florida. Where I ended up on the outskirts of Orlando in the early ‘90s was more Dixie than Disney, and a level of raw violence permeated the humid air. The kids in my neighborhood were a curious blend of fellow transplants, mostly from places like Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. White, Black, Asian, native, immigrants all cruised the sun-worn pavement stretching from subdivision cul-de-sacs to clustered trailer parks. The popping and clacking of nail guns on plywood provided a constant ambient soundtrack of new construction, mixing in with the droning of frogs and palmetto bugs from the nearby swamps.

I was weird, into comics and role playing games and computers, northern hobbies fostered during long snow storms and icy springs. But Florida was infinitely weirder. It struck me almost immediately as inhospitable, and I couldn’t really understand how humans had come to live in such a place. It all felt so obviously doomed, with fire ants on every stretch of manicured lawn and a sun that acted more like a death ray than a life-giver. It seemed like a mistake for anyone to be there.

The kids in the neighborhood welcomed me with a blend of cold indifference and white-hot scorn. In today’s language I guess you’d say I was “bullied”, but really it was just humanity laying itself bare for what it is. People not being horrible is more of an aspiration than a reality, and that’s what I encountered. I very much dreaded the time at the bus stop, and very much relished the moment the door home shut behind me in the afternoon, the cold rush of A/C telling me “You made it.”

The kid across the street from me, Daryl*, was the son of an Iranian immigrant and an American mom. His parents were so soft spoken and kind. Daryl was the complete opposite, dark and full of rage, constantly saying and doing the worst things possible. I suffered his taunts and insults daily, until they became just more noise alongside the construction and prehistoric bugs and low-riders with house speakers in the back.

One day the kid Daryl hung around with most unexpectedly complained to the school administration that Daryl was, well, Daryl, and lodged a report of “harassment.” For some reason Daryl sought me out with this news. I may have been a lot of things- a dork, a bad dresser, no athletic ability, no social graces- but I sure as hell wasn’t a rat. Based on that alone we fell into a groove of hanging out together in that weird way created by proximity and shared living experiences. I never felt like he liked me, and I never felt like I liked him. But there we were. Friends.

As time went on Florida began to creep into my DNA and change me. I abandoned my Kmart clothes and fell in love with skate-surf brands from hallowed land of the mall like Stussy, 26 Red, Mossimo, and No Fear. I shaved my head. I got a Mongoose Expert BMX bike. Daryl and I rode everywhere, steeling chrome valve stem covers off Mercedes’ parked at church and putting them on our bikes, displaying them like scalps salvaged from a hard-fought war. We played basketball every day. We threw rocks at metal sheds just to hear the bangs and laugh. We rode next to the beleaguered ice cream truck man, kicked the side of his faded van and threw ourselves onto the road, claiming he hit us and that he better give us free ice cream or else we’d sue the shit out of him (it rarely worked). We cut our bikes across four-lane traffic, cars beeping and rednecks screaming out their monster trucks, and us, no hands on the handlebars, whistling. Fuck ‘em. Fuck ‘em all.

The author in 199X.

Daryl’s fixations in life were jetskis and stereo systems, the later of which I also appreciated. He had a badass Pioneer receiver and a nice set of speakers, alongside a CD-changer and an equalizer. We would play music for hours, alternating from his picks to mine- Regulate by Warren G, then Buddy Holly by Weezer. N.W.A., then Offspring. And so on.

Somehow Daryl caught wind of the video game Doom and wanted to play it. Doom was a sensation when it landed in 1993. Kids in school passed around copies on 3.5 inch floppy disks like it was an illicit substance or adult video. I sucked at sports, I was charmless to girls, and I got into dumb fights for no reason but this was something that I had a tangible skill in.

My grandfather was big into personal computers and electronics. He was a retired cable company engineer and always kept busy. We had a dedicated “computer room” in the house, with rows upon rows of computer equipment, caseless and exposed motherboards with wires and cables hanging off racks. Every day was a new challenge- partition this hard drive, figure out why this memory wasn’t working, correct this BIOS issues, replace this battery, etc. We went to computer shows at convention centers and scoured for parts and shareware disks and CD-ROM compilations, we had stacks of phonebook-sized Computer Shopper magazines, piles of drives, baskets of wires and connectors and old processors. I knew computers almost as a natural extension, and spent far more time building and programming them than the average 13 year old.

“Yo, can you get me that Doom?” Daryl asked one morning while we waited for the bus. I was kind of surprised he even knew what it was.

I told him yeah, no problem.

I brought my disk over to his house that afternoon and installed it on his family’s functional but aging 386.

“Damn E, I knew you were smart but I didn’t know you were a fucking genius,” Daryl said, watching me navigate DOS and creating directories for the game’s files.

Somehow I gained a modicum of respect. I was still a dweeb, but I had the computer hookup. And now Daryl had his Doom. I delivered. The game taxed his family’s PC and ran at a stuttering clip, but it was good enough. The chainsaw whirred and slashed into demonic imps, the shotgun choked and blasted with visceral power. Daryl swearing and shouting racial slurs, with each hallway run and surprise attack. Doom was dark and violent and looked great, satisfying the key requirements of Daryl and basically all of ‘90s youth.

Doom, a dark and powerful PC revolution.

I moved back to Massachusetts at the start of high school and was mostly glad to be gone from the place. Daryl wrote me a letter, which was surprising. I saw him again about a year after I moved when I was down in Florida visiting my mom. In youth years that’s something equivalent to a decade. He already seemed much older. He was drinking 40s and hanging with a rougher crowd than our regular hood offered. It was an odd meeting. I went back home feeling relieved not to be in that place anymore. I was happy to free of Florida and focused on my new/old life back north, high school, the future, etc.

As time plodded on and I somehow became an adult (What? How?), that era kept sneaking its way back into my thoughts, until it got to the point where I started to really understand the maelstrom of those times as something completely different from how I originally classified them. I began to smile a lot more thinking back on those days. I began to appreciate it for its unique strangeness, for how completely different everything was from this slow-motion apocalypse we’re now living.

I looked up Daryl’s name late last year in hopes of reconnecting, having a beer, talking about getting older, commiserating and laughing. I was shocked to learn he had passed away. Far, far too young.

My grandfather’s gone now too. It seems the circle of people who will even understand what I’m talking about, who will even know what it means to slap a floppy disk into a drive and install a shareware game and work to disable a memory stacker so that it runs correctly and re-run setup to get the Ad-Lib to work, that circle grows smaller by the day.

For some reason I’m still here, with these memories, these stories, these shards of time swirling around me like laughing ghosts. I feel compelled to talk about it, unsure if anyone will really get it or even care. I do it for me I guess. To remember.

I still play Doom. Back then we thought it was just the beginning and we endlessly theorized about what the future would bring, but really it never got any better. We had all we needed with a chainsaw and a shotgun and VGA cyberspaces to project our psyches into. Installing Doom was not a one-time thing. It was for life.

 

*Changed name out of respect for the dead and the family.

Posted in Games, Meta, Writing Tagged with: , , , ,

Plastic City Comic Con 2017 Recap

This past weekend I attended the second Plastic City Comic Con. This year the show made the jump from a small VFW hall in Leominster to the mighty Wallace Civic Center in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. I saw my first concert at the Civic Center, and for decades the venue used to sub as the “Boston” leg for many top-tier band tours. The concerts stopped for some reason and the place became primarily a hockey facility. Plastic City Con knocked out some of the spiritual cobwebs and brought the place back to life for one Saturday afternoon, and that was cool to see.

First – huge props to convention organizers Keith and Amy Gleason. They are truly nice people and fantastic organizers. I’ve known Keith for like 20 years and he’s always been super friendly and down to earth, which is surprisingly rare in the comic book world. Keith and his crew kicked ass and expertly coordinated the logistics of the con. It’s like they were made to do this, and it’s awesome to bear witness to the successful execution of it all.

It was a pretty casual show for me. After doing a slew of cons in 2016, I streamlined my gear and it all fits into two compact milk crates, along with a banner stand, table cloth, and lightweight shelving unit. Setting up my table took like 5 minutes.

I didn’t do any carnival-barker selling this show, I just let people come up and browse the books. To my surprise, I covered expenses before noon.

My grandpa passed away earlier this month and in cycling through the various stages of grief, perspective hasn’t so much been gained as it has been forced upon me. I think one of my main takeaways from the last few weeks has been to stop wasting time and energy trying to appeal to those who don’t get me or completely misjudge me (turns out that’s a great many people) and conversely be more open and about recognizing and appreciating those who do. Basically I have no time for people who take themselves too seriously, especially in the godforsaken world of funny books.

To the comics themselves- Colonial Comics was a big hit! I sold out of copies pretty early on. I’m proud to be part of it, and the local connection really intrigued folks. I enjoyed talking about the research into my Worcester County-based story. Crypt Zero is apparently my “sophomore slump” book. Interest seems low for a one-off black and white sci-fi ghost story, but whatever. I’m glad it exists. Voodoo Bird, an 8 page pamphlet of a comic, somehow still captures the popular imagination, but it was all about the trades and anthology collections this show- Colonial Comics, 27 Club, Shakespeare Shaken.

Con highlights: I wasn’t in much of a networking mood, but it was great to see local author Sean Sweeny (I pointed locals to his table throughout the day, North Central represent!), Dario and the squad from That’s Entertainment, Cody Sousa writer of CROAK was cool and had the table next door, along with Alterna Comics publisher Peter Simeti (thanks for the tote bag!). I have an ad running in several of Alterna’s newsprint titles, so check them out.

Special thanks to everyone who picked up my comics and to all the friends and family who came by to say hi and provide caffeine support. Super appreciated.

Plastic City year 2 was a good day for me and an even better day for Fitchburg and Leominster in general. So often Worcester County folks are forced to drive across multiple zip codes to do anything. If our cities and towns where in Utah they’d have their own broadcast TV stations. But alas, we’re sort of culturally neglected up here in the great northlands, eclipsed by the Boston behemoth. Plastic City adds much to the area and I hope there are many more iterations of it to come.

Posted in Comics, Meta, Writing Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

Attack of the Localize Mother 3 Sign Clones!

Oh my. What have I done.

Genie is out of the bottle, kids. The Localize Mother 3 mindgerm has been released and is infecting the population at pandemic levels. Now something akin to a full-scale psyops campaign is underway.

Since unleashing the neon pink scourge upon the world last April at a taping of WWE Smackdown, the Localize Mother 3 sign meme has bubbled up in some surprising places.
First, there was the Women’s March in Washington D.C. back in January:

Incredible. The true passion is evident, and extra points for some sharp dabbing.

Lest you think these signs were just coincidental, let me point out that these good folks specifically stated “…I want to be iconic like those people at the WWE matches…”

ICONIC.

Then, this past Sunday night, Localize Mother3 signs once again invaded the collective unconscious with primo primetime placement during WWE’s Money in the Bank Pay-Per-View event. These events are a huge deal, drawing in way more viewers than a lowly Smackdown taping. Twitter user @magypsyparty took things to a whole new level. The homage was evident, continuing the use of the trademark neon pink signage and keeping the message to the classic, simple “Localize Mother 3.”

The execution was perfect, once again the internet exploded, and the end result was nothing short of wonderful.

Every Localize Mother 3 sign sighting is conceivably somebody’s first, and that’s what really warms the empty cavity where my heart should be. Inevitably, someone will ask “What is this about?” and that in turn leads to conversations about Mother 3, and every conversation about old Japanese video games is one that’s not about stupid politics or war or famine or global warming, and gee, maybe we could all use just a small sliver of that relief. We didn’t start the fire, etc.

Is Localize Mother 3 a movement at this point? I’m not sure what the official benchmark is, but I’m willing to lean toward yes. Momentum is funny thing, and human interactions still have a curious intersection with reality, hyper-weird as it may be in the information age. Monkey videos still make me laugh, for example, and something as daringly stupid as a sign about a forgotten video game hits in similar territory. I’m not sure why, but it all makes me feel good, or at least temporarily not bad. And maybe, just maybe, somebody at Nintendo is seeing all this hoopla and smiling.

Posted in Games, In the News, Inspiration, Meta Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

“Independent punk rock master of darkness”

The good folks at Monkeys Fighting Robots were kind enough to do a Creator Spotlight write-up on me and highlight my recent comics Voodoo Bird and Crypt Zero. Writer Brandon Griffin described me as an “independent punk rock master of darkness”, which, y’know, I’ll take. Check out the feature here:

Creator Spotlight: Erik Radvon

 

 

Posted in Comics, Meta, Writing Tagged with: , , , ,

The Last Jedi, and a new hope for weird Star Wars

The Force Awakens isn’t a bad movie. It does what it sets out to do. The issue I had with it is it didn’t seem to aspire to do very much. It played it so safe, over-pivoted so hard from the unrestrained zaniness of the Lucas prequels that, while a fun ride, it left me wanting a whole lot more.

A common refrain heard when The Force Awakens was released was that JJ Abrams had essentially remade the original 1977 Star Wars (now known as Episode IV: A New Hope). Revisiting TFA and digesting it more in the time since its theatrical run, it struck me that JJ hadn’t remade A New Hope at all, but instead channeled Raiders of the Lost Ark as his template in some substantial ways. From the selection of Lawrence Kasdan as his writing partner (not a writer on A New Hope, but the main writer on Raiders) to the desert locales, practical effects, Indiana Jones-esque fireball explosions, an old lightsaber mulligan driving the plot, and even Harrison Ford back in action, TFA’s callbacks to Raiders are many and varied. Add to that the fact that JJ’s directing style, both in TFA and his career in general, is unabashedly modeled after Raiders director Steven Spielberg, with absolutely none of the esoteric flourishes used by George Lucas providing any influence at all. TFA is a glimpse at the Spielberg-directed Star Wars film we never had.

None of this is a critique. Raiders is one of the greatest action-adventure movies of all time and there are far, far worse things to use as inspiration. Delivering a high-octane action romp, introducing an entirely new generation of characters, and setting the stage for perhaps decades more worth of Star Wars stories is no small feat, and JJ completely pulled it off in TFA. But for anyone looking for a sequel to Return of the Jedi, the continuation of the Skywalker saga was basically punted to the next films. My favorite scene in The Force Awakens is its last. Rey discovering long-lost Luke Skywalker on his island refuge (or is it prison?), once again calling back to Raiders– a sort of reverse unpacking of its final scene showing the Ark being shelved in a vast, soul-crushing government warehouse. There’s a strong similarity to both endings for me, particularly in how they reverberate with uneasy energy and leave you with a strange sense of closure laced with lingering questions.

Which brings us to today and the arrival of a new trailer for a new Star Wars episode (already!). It’s called The Last Jedi, and so far I love what I’ve seen. It’s tough to make sweeping judgments from a few short sequences, but the overwhelming sense I get from The Last Jedi trailer is that we should expect the unexpected from this entry. There’s no “Chewie, we’re home” applause line comfort food, and no hype-ratcheting mystery box techniques at work. Quite the opposite. The Last Jedi looks to be jumping into the story deep-end with both feet, putting forth its premise directly and boldly, and in the process challenging everything- its characters, young and old, and perhaps its audience too.

For me, everything about The Last Jedi is clicking in a way that The Force Awakens never did, from the trailer footage to its starkly beautiful poster. Maybe it’s due to it having a singular purpose this time around. Unshackled from the complex corporate mandate of making Star Wars stable again and all the various ramifications involved in relaunching a billion-dollar property for a new generation, it looks like director Rian Johnson and producer Kathleen Kennedy have swung the pendulum solidly back into unsafe territory, to a place of unafraid storytelling with all the risks that entails. The prequels were deeply flawed, but damned if they weren’t endlessly creative and strangely daring in their determination to tell their story. Where TFA delivered a safe steadying ground for Star Wars to regroup, The Last Jedi looks ready to shake things up again. It gives me renewed hope that the franchise will get a little dark and a little weird.

The cinematography here is richer and more naturalistic than the high-gloss action look we got from JJ’s film, and the overall tone seems more intense. Luke Skywalker, the character who defines all things Star Wars to me and probably most others who cut their teeth on TV broadcasts and battered VHS copies of the original trilogy, is featured quite prominently. The Force Awakens jump-started Star Wars, but The Last Jedi looks like the movie I’ve been waiting for since the credits rolled on Return of the Jedi. There are hints in the trailer that the answer to the question “Whatever happened to Luke Skywalker?” may be more complex than we thought.

Watch the trailer here:

Posted in Movies Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

Logan: Here comes tomorrow

logan-poster
I still remember my first introduction to the X-Men. It was a Super Bowl sometime in the mid 80s, one of the Montana years. I was dragged along in tow with my family to a neighbor’s party. They had a son, older than me, and we were paired off as the adults engaged in their wing eating and Bud Light drinking. I somehow announced that I was into comics, and this kid’s ears perked up. “Oh, do you read X-Men?” For some reason at this young age I had attributed all things “X” with meaning adults only, as in X-Rated. Like Dustin Hoffman’s tormentor in Marathon Man, I sheepishly asked this unknown older kid “Is it safe?” He laughed, and handed me an issue. I’ll never forget the cover- Mr. Sinister a towering giant, the strange and colorful cast of X-Men characters tumbling from his hand into an abstract inferno below. In its pages I found everything I had been looking for. Like so many others, I had just found my new favorite comic.

17 years after Bryan Singer’s X-Men hit the big screen, ushering in a franchise of nearly a dozen sequels and spinoffs, Logan arrives as a dark bookend to all that has come before. The film sets out to serve as a swan song for actors Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, there since the beginning as Wolverine and Professor X respectively, but it manages to accomplish so much more. Channeling a hallmark device of the X-Men comic series, Logan jumps ahead to a strange future. We recognize some of the characters, but their world and surroundings are a twisted fun-house mirror distortion of the reality we thought we knew, a crushing alternate pathway from the future we had hoped for. The jolting futureshock of Logan instantly reminded me of some of the X-Men’s best comics moments, unexpected issues like Grant Morrison and Mark Silvestri’s “Here Comes Tomorrow!” and Claremont and Byrne’s “Days of Future Past.” These stories jumped ahead of the standard storyline without warning, and delivered ominous, heartbreaking looks at “what ifs?”, possible outcomes from our current state of being. When the action shifted back to the regularly scheduled superhero hijinks, these dark stories lingered overhead, potent undercurrents steadily pulling events ever-so-closer to the brief glimpses of those frightening possibilities. Logan accomplishes the film version of this, adding weight to the entire library of somewhat uneven entries to the X-Men film series.

Through its thick veneer of bleak anguish, Logan is ultimately a hopeful movie. It is a bit daring in its approach, focusing on ideas and characters rather than an abundance of special effects or flashy setpieces. The plot takes us through such unillustrious places as the US-Mexico border, a bland casino in Oklahoma City, and the desolate cornfields of the American heartland. Its characters, from the hero formally known as Wolverine throughout the entire supporting cast, are all in various stages of crisis, not so much facing down super villains as they are fleeing threats that feel very personal, immediate, and real. The movie somehow even manages to break a Hollywood curse and showcases compelling child actors, one of which completely steals this show.

Logan also surprised me by making many unexpected statements about our world- our present and perhaps our future- but by far my favorite statement it makes is something of a reflection on the nature of faith and comic books. Comics are a bizarre religion, readers often indoctrinated young and sticking with the practice/habit/vice throughout their entire life. “It’s all made up bullshit,” Logan himself paraphrases. But with comics, the meaning is the reader’s to create, to define, to cherish. How many found themselves in between those panels? How many kids felt hated and feared in their own everyday lives, in big cities and little towns all around the world, just like the X-Men did in their fictional Westchester mansion? My personal childhood brand of was mutandom was being left-handed, introverted, living with my grandparents, and being seemingly completely out of sync with the nuclear family dominated suburbia fabric around me. For others it was race, gender, sexuality, religion, or maybe just an overriding sense of otherness. Whatever the trajectory, the focal point was Uncanny X-Men, the dominant comic book title for nearly two decades straight, the pop culture centerpiece for an entire ill-defined, misunderstood generation. Logan does the best job of any major comic book of capturing the essence of and paying homage to what comic books are all about, a point that arrives thoroughly unexpected and with surprising emotional heft. Logan dares to ask “What’s all this spandex and universe building really all about?” and does more than its fair share in attempting to answer it.

In the end, Hugh Jackman and team have to feel pretty satisfied with how they’re bowing out from their long X-Men drama. Logan is easily the best of their collective efforts, and it leaves a somber, touching high water mark to propel the series going forward. No matter where 20th Century Fox takes the X-Men films in the post-Jackman/Stewart era, they would be wise to ensure that the stark warnings and hopeful spirit of Logan aren’t quickly forgotten.

Posted in Comics, Movies Tagged with: , , , ,

Colonial Comics: New England 1750 – 1775

colonial-comics-new-england-1750
Colonial Comics New England: 1750-1775 is here, and it is a great looking book. I’m humbled to be in the company of so many talented comic creators. The variety of styles, voices, and stories assembled by Jason Rodriguez and his team really makes this a unique and special collection.

My contribution is titled “The Call Up” (the Clash are never far from mind…) and features artwork from Noel Tuazon and colors by Rob Croonenborghs. It tells a story of civil disobedience that took place in Central Massachusetts in 1774. Two years before the events of Lexington and Concord, the working class people of Worcester County wrestled independence from the world’s most powerful empire. Not a shot was fired.

colonial-comics-new-england-radvon
I took an approach you might call “cinematic dreamy” for this story. With the guidance and support of Jason, I stripped the original script of its considerable verbiage and produced a silent piece focused exclusively on the actions of those in 1774. I looked to Terrence Malick and Stanley Kubrick for inspiration, in the sense that without captions or dialogue balloons it was essential that my script made every frame count, every shot a potent sigil of feeling, light, tone, and life. I was frankly startled by how readily and immediately Noel and Rob brought my vision into reality. Sometimes you get lucky, and this time I got extremely lucky.

Colonial Comics is available at bookstores nationwide, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, and more:

Amazon (Trade Paperback)
Amazon (Kindle)
Barnes and Noble
Target

Posted in Comics, History, Writing Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

Running on Empty in Winter 2017

Hello from the depths of winter 2017. My mental, physical, and spiritual reserves are at their natural nadir. The days are rusty gears grinding away- not much goes easy, but the job is getting done nonetheless. It was 65 degrees yesterday, in February, and the warm wind was exhilarating in its apocalyptic wrongness.

I’ve moved, set up shop in a typical old New England house in a typical old New England town surrounded by typical old New England people. I have a neighbor named Emil, a French Canadian, which makes sense in a place called French Hill, so at least some things still have a shred of meaning. My world is now Home Depot and paint and fumes and nails and mostly constant physical pain, all of which suits the season well. I feel like a light of relief is somewhere at the end of this tunnel, rays of sunshine cutting through dense clouds of suspended asbestos and 100 year-old dust. We’ll see come spring.

Somehow, amidst all this, writing efforts continue to chug along. I have a new story out in a handsome collection called Colonial Comics Volume II, edited by Jason Rodriguez. I’ve also finally begun promoting Crypt Zero, my indie comic completed late last year with artist Rob Croonenborghs and letters by Micah Myers. Details on where to get Colonial Comics and Crypt Zero are below. Looking ahead, the plate tectonics of new projects are slowing smashing together in my mind. I’d like to get two new books birthed into reality this year, one a companion piece of sorts to Crypt Zero, meaning more pulpy sci-fi with little commercial prospects, and the other something completely different- a teenage drama piece set in the glorious 1990s. American Graffiti/Dazed and Confused for the Clinton era. Again, we’ll see come spring.

Crypt Zero
Spaceman-for-hire Commander Dal is sent to a remote planet on a scouting mission. He finds an ancient crypt and a whole lotta talking dead things. A pulpy sci-fi thriller in the classic EC Comics tradition. Written and Published by Erik Radvon. Art by Rob Croonenborghs. Letters by Micah Myers.
Available for purchase online: http://radvon.com/comics/crypt-zero/
Available for retail purchase: That’s Entertainment, Fitchburg, MA

Colonial Comics, Volume II: New England, 1750–1775
A collection of original comic stories edited by Jason Rodriguez, Colonial Comics brings new takes and shines a light on untold stories from America’s colonial period. This volume features my story “The Call Up” with art by Noel Tuazon and colors by Rob Croonenborghs.
Buy it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2lNi3fj

Posted in Comics, Meta, Projects, Writing Tagged with:

Cheap Thrills of a Cheap Age

So you kick out 3 million.

Does the factory reopen? Do the shops come back to the decimated main street you walked as a kid? Do the Cadillacs roll by blasting something by Brenda Lee? Is everyone smiling and happy? Are things the way they ought to be?

Maybe you hear less Spanish at the grocery store, and maybe that makes you happy. Puts you less on edge. Lets you unclench for a moment as a wave passes over – we got ’em. We are boss here.

Cheap thrills of a cheap age, fake gold everywhere.

Interwar Berlin was a pinnacle of human endeavors- art, science, music, fashion. Folks there didn’t roll out of bed one day and decide to hate Socialists and exterminate the Jews. It came from the fringes, seeped in like an inkblot, and boiled underneath the surface. But when things got tough the brownshirts’ hate-talk found its opening and erupted through volcanos of angry workers until something very dangerous happened- it all began to feel good.

“Fuck ’em all” is the rallying cry of a broken and dispirited people. It’s a fuse that once sparked cannot be unlit. Deport 3 million, then 5, then 7, then- fuck it- all 11. The factory remains closed, the Cadillacs do not return, the smiles are still phantoms and, damn it all to hell, you still hear Spanish and Cambodian at the grocery store. How are they still here? They’re laughing, aren’t they? They’re laughing at us. Let’s take a look at them. Papers, please.

Legal, illegal, documented, undocumented- when the blood starts pumping none of that matters. We are past reason. What this is about is the cheap thrill of a boot to the face. Like junkies, once the taste is acquired there is no remedy but for more, more, more. It begins with immigrants, but it certainly won’t end there.

“Tear down this wall!” was the ultimate expression of American excellence, delivered with perfect timing and moral authority by one of our finest actors, who also did a stint as president. Now the inheritors of his legacy don red hats and fill stadiums demanding the opposite. From wall destroyers to wall erectors in a generation.

Walls might keep out the brown people blamed for society’s ills but cannot withstand the judgment of history. Each brick stacked robs us of something that will never be returned.

But it’s too late for any of that now. Morality, sentimentality – out the window. A new situation is underway. Cheap thrills rule the day, and the only hope is the future. Meet you there.

Posted in History, In the News, Writing