Batman Day Cancelled by Costumed Madman

I was expecting it to be lame. I was not disappointed.

If you watch this promo video for the event, it looks like the other participating cities had a lot of fun with Batman Day a couple of weeks ago, celebrating the 80th anniversary of the character.

Montreal, true to form, fucked it up.

It’s all been forgotten and swept under the rug by now, but after trudging downtown and into the fray, I thought it was worth documenting our local embarrassment. So I covered the fiasco for Bleeding Cool. The article is up now, and you can read it here.

Meanwhile, this begins tomorrow.

Dimestore Crime Stories

Petty Crimes and Vindictive Criminals is the next book I’m releasing in Q4 of 2019.

Like Raw and Other Stories before it, this will be another twenty crime stories, brimming with good stuff like sex, violence, dark comedy, and content that sometimes skirts the edge of outright horror.

That’s something I have planned on the one hand…

On the other, there’s my neglected Patreon page. Ever since the early whales migrated to warmer waters, the number of backers has hit a new low that’s kind of embarrassing.

Here’s my solution…

Throughout the month of October, I’m going to be premiering ten of the stories slated to appear in Petty Crimes and Vindictive Criminals on my Patreon page. These will all be originals that have never appeared anywhere in any form before this. And I’m going to be offering access to all ten of those stories for backers at the $1 tier. That means you can read these stories for a grand total of ten cents per story—kinda like the crime-fiction magazines of old.

You can cancel at any time after that, but hopefully you’ll stick around for a buck a month, just so I don’t have to look at such sad subscriber numbers anymore.

Check out the other tiers to see if you might want to up your pledge. For the duration of this promotion, I’m offering new backers at the $25 level signed paperbacks of both Necropolis and Epitaph. And if you stick around at that level, you’ll also receive a paperback copy of the forthcoming Petty Crimes collection featuring all twenty stories. The $25 tier is like having a subscription to all my future books, so the longer you maintain that pledge, the more books you’ll receive.

Now that I’m set up in the new office, I’m hammering away at the keyboard, and there are plenty of strange and interesting adventures in the pipeline. Get your first taste this Friday on my Patreon page.

I Got a Brudda

Sid Haig died a few days ago.

He was one of the few actors I ever pursued getting a signed 8×10 glossy of. It was done by mail order, and I got it personalized with the obscure line of dialogue, “I got a brudda.”

It was so obscure, I wondered if Sid would even remember it from his long career.

But of course he had to. It was a line delivered to Sean Connery in Diamonds Are Forever. A statement so stupid, even the unflappable James Bond was taken aback. How do you forget that luminary moment from screen history? I know it certainly stuck with me from childhood.

His late-stage career revival came largely through the films of Rob Zombie. And even though I despise Rob Zombie’s movies, Sid is great in them. I was vastly more pleased to see him appear in the opening scene of S. Craig Zahler’s Bone Tomahawk, and was hoping there would be more collaborations between the two of them, much as Udo Kier has become a staple of Zahler’s work. Alas, it was not to be.

I followed the story of Sid’s recent trip to intensive care following an accident, his near-death experience, and hopeful signs of recovery. But then word of his death hit.

We’ve lost another classic genre star. Sid was 80 years old.

Putting the Book to Bed

Was it worth several more weeks of Epitaph being out as an ebook with no corresponding paperback, just to make a couple more tiny adjustments?

Eh, probably not. But it puts my mind at ease knowing it’s that little bit closer to perfect. Or at least as good I can make it.

Amazon dropped off a box of copies at my door today, a full week ahead of their own estimate for arrival, but at least a week slower than author copies used to arrive from Createspace. I guess they’re still ironing out the kinks since shutting down Createspace and taking over the whole printing operation themselves. My tracking number remains at odds with reality, claiming my order only just left the warehouse and is nowhere near delivery.

Oh well. It’s kind of hard to ask a giant monopoly to do better. After crushing all the competition, they really don’t have to if they don’t want to.

As much as I want to enthusiastically encourage you to pick up paperback copes of Epitaph (and Necropolis), I’m suffering from promotion exhaustion at this point. Hopefully it’s suffice to say I worked really hard on it, I’m very happy with the results, and the initial reviews have been stellar.

For those who keep asking me stats, the final physical book is 490 pages long, and around 144,000 words. Book three of the series, The Boneyard, remains in production, and I will doubtless be publishing other novels and collections before that one is done. I’m about 25,000 words in, but need to finish other projects before I can really start hammering at the content hard. Rip Eulogy will, rest assured, return soon enough.

Meanwhile, to celebrate the Epitaph paperback launch, the Necropolis ebook is currently free for Kindle readers on Amazon. Grab it before this Friday, when it will return to its regular price.

The Shame in Every Typpo

The Epitaph paperback is so close, I can smell that new-book paper smell. Literally, since I have the proof copy in my hand.

After months of upheaval in my life, I pushed Epitaph out the door in June because it was already overdue and I knew I was likely to fiddle with it forever if I didn’t make an effort to part ways. Of course, that made for a number of imperfections, which triggers a lot of OCD anxiety in a perfectionist.

Having typos in any of my books keeps me up at night. I guess I’m the last of a dying breed because even the biggest publishing houses out there don’t seem to give that much of a shit. The bestselling, most mainstream novels in existence still go out with errors. Most editors don’t care, most readers don’t notice. And, admittedly, when I spot one in someone else’s book, I shrug, read the word as obviously intended, and move on.

But dammit, it irks me when I know there’s one in something I published. Several times now I’ve updated the ebook, to correct tiny things few people will ever see, when one of my late-stage proofers spots something. I’m haunted by the x-number of people who downloaded an earlier version and now own a copy that is anything less than precise.

Normally, I would have preferred to let all of my eagle-eyed proofreaders have a go at the text before going live, but schedules vary, and the more people I wait on, the more months get appended to any eventual release date.

Now I have the paperback in hand. Usually I go through several drafts of the design before Amazon prints me up a copy I’m happy with. But this time, I think I got it right on the first go.

Except another typo has been spotted by the last of my proofreaders and she’s only 2/3 of the way through the book.

It’s so minor, everyone else in my stable of beta readers missed it. If any paying readers spot it—big if—they won’t care. And yet I’m pathologically compelled to delay the paperback some more until I can correct it and get any last-minute notes from my final copy editor once she finishes.

In the meantime, I shot this video last night while I was on the toilet.

Pants up, of course. It was just a convenient place to sit.

The Floor Show

I have been to the Montreal Comiccon and I no longer fear hell.

The Palais des congrès, also known as the Lite-Brite convention centre due to its design atrocities and crimes against aesthetics, is conveniently located right on top of the Place des Arms metro station. Last Saturday, I came spilling out of the turnstile wearing my new Necropolis t-shirt with a QR Code on the back (or, as I call it to be technical, “blocky-blobby-stupid-phone-thingie”). The idea was to walk around the comic convention for twelve hours straight and see how many people would scan me and get directed to the Amazon book page. This, I was certain, was a terrible idea.

It was first thing in the morning, on the big middle day of the three-day show. And there were already thousands upon thousands of people there. It had been a while since I’d done a comic convention, but I recognized the usual misshapen body types, along with a phenomenon new to me since the last time I’d attempted an appearance. Never before have I seen so many tatted-up scrawny nerds. I’m used to seeing tattoos on people with more meat on their bones. Some of these kids looked like they weighed 98 pounds soaking wet, but were sporting the kind of ink you usually need to do ten years in a supermax to earn. They don’t make comic-book geeks like they used to.

Despite my comic background street-cred, I felt like an outsider. I was the sweaty middle-aged dude, grumpy about the early hour, dying in the July heat, eager to get into some air conditioning only to find it negated by so many human bodies packed shoulder-to-shoulder.

“I’m in the entirely wrong line to buy tickets, aren’t I?” I said, once I’d spent half an hour following the incorrect flood of people, spurred on by the convention centre attendants demanding “Avance! Avance!” at all the tourists who didn’t understand French.

The girl at the ticket-check smiled sympathetically and directed me outside to a whole other line for kiosks that weren’t even operational when I first passed them, forty minutes past the supposed opening time of the show.

Great start.

At least I didn’t need to be anywhere. The main point of the excursion was to get that QR Code in front of as many people as possible. And the people just kept coming. Surely some of the bored attendees in the queue would whip out their phones and scan my intriguing shirt to pass the time.

Once I was inside, one $55 ticket later, I took some time trying to get my bearings in the enormous hall. It’s always nice to pay that kind of money to get into a venue filled with nothing but people selling things for even more money. I stopped by the closest booth, and any illusions I had about not belonging there were dispelled immediately when I caught a father asking about the identity of a superhero Lego minifig on behalf of his young son.

“I don’t know all the DC guys,” apologized the shopkeeper.

“That’s Dr. Fate,” I said, feeling a certain shame in knowing that.

I was thanked profusely, yet still felt dirty.

I don’t know why I ever bother to feel dirty about knowing geek stuff or flogging my wares. If I was dirty, then everyone else there was absolutely filthy. Particularly the celebrity guests.

Yeah, I know it’s standard for them to charge for photos and autographs, but dammit Elijah Wood, you starred in three of the biggest movies ever made. Didn’t you save some of that cash?

$95 for an autograph, another $95 for a selfie? A selfie! That’s right, for $95 you have to take your own damn picture. Nobody will even press the button for you. Fuck you, Frodo! Can’t you at least get your bitch, Samwise, to handle somebody’s camera for them while they’re paying your exorbitant fee? It’s not like you’d even have to give him a cut. He’d probably do it all day long for a thimbleful of mead, a turnip, and a pat on the head.

Okay, I’ll try to give the guy a break. He’s been making a lot of indie films for the love of his craft lately, and I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore was my favourite film of 2017. But damn dude, even working for scale on all those projects has to add up.

At least I know who Elijah Wood is. And Lou Ferrigno. And Christopher Lambert. Some of the other guests? No so much. Describing them as celebrities is a use of the word “celebrity” I am unfamiliar with. Take it from a old pro, not everybody who appears on a TV show is famous. Or the least bit notable.

As I wandered up and down the aisles, looking at all the merch for sale, and marvelling on the rare occasion I spotted actual comic books, I quickly filled up my Bingo scorecard of cosplayers.

Darth Fatty? Check. Unintimidating average-height Michael Meyers? Check. Damaged girl dressed as Harley Quinn? Check.

Check. Check.

Checkcheckcheckcheckcheckcheckcheckcheckcheckcheckcheckcheck.

Goddamn, that’s a lot of Harley Quinns.

On a related note: ladies, if you’re wearing a costume that would make a stripper say, “Girl, get some clothes on!” rethink that. In fact, any outfit concept that has you walking around the show half naked, rethink that. I’m talking to you too, gentlemen. Nobody liked Jared Leto’s Juggalo-Joker. Nobody. Tuck your boy-titties away.

Props, however, to the guy dressed as Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. At least somebody was trying to get laid by dressing for success.

I should say that not all of the more repulsive cosplayers put me off. A small child crying in terror at the sight of some murder-clowns brightened my day. I’ll admit it: I had to hide my face behind my program to stifle a laugh.

One of my key goals of the show was to scout out Artists Alley and see if it was well-travelled, or a desert of tumbleweeds and bored artists with no one to interact with. I have a notion I might want to pay for a table of my own next year and see how many books and comics I can hustle.

Once again, keeping to the theme of modern comic conventions having as little to do with comic books as possible, I was several rows into Artists Alley before I even knew I was there. Where were all the comic artists? Tucked into the very last stretch, it would seem. Most of the tables were manned by artisans of a different sort, selling all sorts of derivatives of comic-book culture without tainting their displays with any art that ever appeared in an actual comic. It’s great if you want a fashion accessory with an Avengers logo on it, not so great if you’re looking for someone who had anything to do with an Avengers comic book to sign your back issues.

I remain on the fence about dropping the chunk of change necessary to secure my own shop next year. It might prove to be money well spent, or it could turn into a PR fiasco. Speaking of which…

So how many confirmed pings did I get on my blocky-blobby-stupid-phone-thingie after exposing it to tens of thousands of nerds who would probably enjoy the hell out of Necropolis if they gave it half a chance?

Last I checked…four.

Promotion ain’t no easy thing.

Listen to the first half of last week’s episode of Cinema Smackdown if you want to hear additional details of my Comiccon adventures. Broadcast version is here.

Are Comics Still a Thing?

It’s been a while.

I can’t quite remember when I last attended a comic-book convention. I used to go to the one in Montreal all the time. No, not The Montreal Comic Con—the big one in the convention centre with all the celebrity guests—I’m referring to the boutique one. When I used to go, it was a little show in a hotel off the highway in the middle of nowhere. It was stuffed full of comic retailers, back issues, and an average of three guests. Usually two within driving distance, and one real guest they had to pay to get there for the day.

It was small time. So small time, I was a guest once or twice.

There were other conventions. More generically science fiction and fantasy conventions. One downtown—I can’t even remember what it was called—had me for a few panels. It was the single worst experience of my entire professional career and it made me swear off ever attending another local con.

In the realm of the big time, I did San Diego twice and Dallas once. That was back in the ‘90s. So long ago, comic-book conventions were still mostly about comics. They were experiences worth having.

Montreal has had its own similarly huge comic convention for several years now, and I’ve been tempted to go more than once. But when even an appearance by Malcolm McDowell failed to draw me in (to get him to sign my DVDs of the Mick Travis trilogy, of course) I figured I was never going to attend.

And yet.

For a variety of work-related reasons, I’m compelled to scout out the show this year. It’s going on right now, but I’ll be there for the big Saturday festivities, wandering around aimlessly, watching the clock until I can go home. If you’re there, come say hello. I’ll be the one in a Necropolis t-shirt. Unless I end up giving some away, in which case I’ll be just one of the guys in a Necropolis t-shirt.

Exhaustion permitting, I’ll stick around for the Pornomedy Hentai Edition show at 9:00 pm. Monica Hamburg is hosting, and we just had her on last week’s episode of Cinema Smackdown talking about all sorts of filthy porn-related things, including her time at the Eve porno theatre (featured in David Cronenberg’s 1977 film, Rabid) that burned to the ground shortly after she started working the projector there. An unrelated event, I’m sure.

Listen to the episode at the CJLO archives, or watch the raw studio feed below.

I’ll be back on the radio on Sunday, so I’m going to skip a return visit to the comic con that day, even though there’s some local-kid-made-good named Bill Shatner who’ll be there. He was on an old TV show or something. I’d turn out to support the ex-Montrealer, but I’m pretty sure I’ve bumped into him before.

Lip Reading

Authors often get roped into doing readings of their work in front of audiences. It typically happens in bookstores during launches, but the pressure to perform can sneak up on us at other times.

I’ve never really understood it. We’re writers. We spend countless hours sitting alone in a room, usually thinking, sometimes typing, and rarely speaking to anyone. Few of us are very outgoing, none of us are really performers.

Yet we’re still expected, from time to time, to get up in front of a bunch of other human beings and read these words we’ve written off a page in a book or a sheet in a manuscript.

More often than not, we do a shitty job.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Some authors are good at it. So good, in fact, they read their whole damn novel for the audiobook edition. But most of us suck at it. We stumble over our own words like we’ve never seen them before, we forget to breathe while we’re reading aloud, and we often end up sounding like illiterate boobs who never made it through a junior-high English class.

Despite my better judgement, I did a reading on live radio yesterday. I don’t know how it panned out. I didn’t listen to the show. I don’t really want to know. I barely want to link to it, but I will.

This latest episode of Cinema Smackdown was utterly self-serving. I was promoting the release of Epitaph: The Necromancer Thanatography Book Two, and we used it as a segue to talk about unsexy vampires throughout movie history. The section of the book I read was about vampires—how they’re perceived by pop culture versus how they really are. It was one of the first things I wrote for this new novel, and it’s a passage I still hold dear.

You can listen to the complete broadcast version of the episode in the CJLO archives. That’s where you’ll get the clean, crisp sound at the expense of having to listen to the news and advertisements.

Alternatively, you can watch the raw studio feed from my YouTube channel that is only as good as an old flip camera can manage, but includes some of the behind-the-scenes chatter that is rarely fit for broadcast.

Meanwhile, check out Epitaph on Amazon for Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. And, this week only, grab Necropolis, the first book in the series, for free.