Tag Archives: Batman

Graphic Novels: Batman and Robin, Gaiman and Girl Genius.

This is a Worldbuilders blog.

It’s only been a couple days, and the auction for Gaiman’s signed, numbered ARC of Stardust is already at $1000 bucks. This makes me happy for Worldbuilders and Heifer international. But at the same time I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth from frustrated fans as they see the book pulled farther and farther from their desperately grasping fingertips.

So today I’m putting something from my personal collection into the general prize pool for the lottery. It isn’t quite as cool as the rare ARC, but it does have certain glow of awesome to it.

Best of all, you don’t have to bid against collectors for this book. Everyone who donates on our Team Heifer page has a chance at winning it.

When I first read Stardust, I read it as a novel. It wasn’t until a year later that I learned the story was originally published as a graphic novel of sorts. I say “of sorts” because it’s not a comic so much as it’s an novel with gorgeous illustrations by Charles Vess.

For example:

This is a beautiful hardcover, signed by Gaiman himself. And while it might not be all rare and numbered and such, I’m going to include something else to bring the coolness up a little closer to the ARC.

Since Stardust is a story about a star that fell from the sky, I thought I’d include a piece of honest-to-goodness star-iron with this book.

You see, before I was a book geek, I was a rock geek. By which I mean I used to collect rocks.

While I’ve let most of that particular madness go, I do still collect meteorites. This is a piece from my personal collection. It’s a cut, etched section of the Gibbeon meteorite. One of the rarer types of meteorites, it’s composed almost entirely of nickel and iron.

This picture shows one of the cooler things about the Gibeon irons. There’s a pattern embedded in the iron that looks like frost. Except frost shows up when water freezes, and these marks show up when iron and nickel slowly cool over millions of years.

It’s called a Widmanstätten pattern. And it forms because the different alloys of nickel and iron cool at slightly different rates while the molten iron is in space. The effect can’t be duplicated on earth, so it only shows up in iron-nickel meteorites.

Each different meteorite fall has a different mix of iron and nickel, so they each have a slightly different pattern. In my opinion, the Gibeon’s is one of the coolest looking.

Okay, enough rock-geekery. Let’s get back to the book-geekery.

*     *     *

This year, when I announced I was starting up Worldbuilders, several bookstores offered to donate to the fundraiser. Haven Comics contacted me and asked if I’d like to include some graphic novels in the mix this year.

“Yes,” I said. “Yes I would.”

“Do you have any suggestions?” they asked.

“Yes,” I said. “Yes I do.”

  • A copy of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller.

Because of a few comments I’ve made in the past some people think I don’t like Batman. But this simply isn’t true.

The Dark Knight Returns is the very first comic I read as an adult, and it sold me on graphic novels as a legitimate medium for storytelling. Before that I was kinda stupid because I thought comics were only for kids. Grown ups read novels, right?

Wrong. This story absolutely knocked me over and I recommend it to anyone, whether or not they enjoy superhero comics or whether or not they give a damn about Batman. It’s just a brilliant story.

One of the main problems with trying to get into comics these days is that so many comics are superhero comics.

Now that by itself isn’t bad. The problem is all those superheros have 40 or 50 years of backstory. That means picking a comic off the rack and trying to read it can be unpleasantly similar to starting Wheel of Time with book #9.

None of the comics we’re putting up on the blog today have that problem. You can pick them up, start reading, and understand the story even if you’ve never read a comic before in your whole life…

Simply said, Fables is one of the best mainstream comics being written today.

The main characters aren’t superheroes. They’re figures from folklore. You have Prince Charming, Little Red Riding Hood, Aladdin, Baba Yaga, and the Big Bad Wolf. The basic premise is that these characters have been forced from their native lands and are taking refuge in our mundane world.

Bill Willingham just does a marvelous job of bringing these characters together into huge overarching story that comes to beautiful fruition over about 10 issues.

Another brilliant Batman story arc that I’m rather fond of. It maintains one artist and one author through the entire arc which I always tend to prefer, as I believe it helps a story maintain its consistent feel.

“Jeph Loeb has crafted a story that is unique to the characters. It’s a complex murder mystery, but its also a Batman story… Buoyed by a film noir-ish plot that features a Gothic twist on the gangster/murder mystery plot, terrific character-based subplots, and beautiful, cinematic art, [The Long Halloween is] an addition to your collection that you won’t regret.” – Yannick Belzil of The 11th Hour

Many of you might remember the Sin City movie that came out a while ago. It was a fairly good flick, but as is usually the case, the original book was better.

Normally I don’t notice the art of a graphic novel very much. I just don’t have much of an eye for the graphic. I’m in it for the words and the story. But even I have to acknowledge that Miller’s art style in Sin City is striking and unlike anything you’ll see anywhere else. The story itself is dark and gritty. And it has one of my all-time favorite characters in it: Marv. Marv is lovable and dark and vicious in way I know I can never hope to pull off in my own writing.

We’re all heartbroken over Firefly going away. But Joss Whedon has managed to continue the story in a few graphic novels.

So if you’re like me, still weeping bitter tears about the cancellation of Firefly. You can read Those Left Behind and spend a little more time with the crew of Serenity. It’s not season two. But it’s good.

Zombies movies have been fashionable for good long while now.

The problem is, a zombie movie almost has to be an action flick. You only have an hour and a half to tell the story in a movie, and so the story ends up being plot-driven. How do we get out of the city? What caused this? How do we survive?

What’s cool about The Walking Dead is that it’s a longer story arc. That means you get to see the long-term psychological story of a society that has fallen apart because of a zombie apocalypse.

This story doesn’t focus on the characters running around saying, “oh my god! Why is this happening? How do we survive until the government saves us?”  Instead you see them surviving for years after the apocalypse, dealing the a broken society and their incredible emotional baggage. It’s a brilliant concept for a comic, wonderfully well-executed.

*     *     *

Once I started entering the comics that Haven sent in, I started thinking about some other comics that I wanted to mention to people. So here are a few of my personal favorites I’m kicking in to this year’s lottery.

Warren Ellis is one of my favorite comic authors. He’s written so many books I adore, but I think I like Transmetropolitan the best.

How can I describe this book…?

Okay. Imagine if Henry Rollins and John Stewart had a baby. Then that baby grew up and had a baby with Hunter S. Thomson. Then that baby grew up and had Tourettes. Transmetropolitan would be that kid’s favorite book.

Right, I’ll admit that’s a terrible analogy. But it kind of gets the point across, this book is insane and hugely fucking smart. I love its dystopian future and over-arching storyline.

And I totally want a pair of glasses like Spider Jerusalem.

Mike Carey is another favorite comic author of mine. He has a particular gift for bringing together unique and obscure mythologies in his stories.

Crossing Midnight is a particular favorite of mine because it brings subtle elements of eastern culture and folklore into the story. No no. Not ninja and samurai. There’s more to Japan than Ninja and samurai. I’m talking about cool folklore. Things you probably never heard of before…

  • A copy of Scud the Disposable Assassin by Rob Schrab.

I’ve been wanting to talk about this book for more than a year. It deserves an entire blog all to itself, full of gushy enthusiasm and lavish praise. I’ll try to give it the credit it deserves in just a couple paragraphs.

Those of you who were reading comics back around the early 90’s might remember Scud. It was absolutely different from any other comic out there. Frantic. Light-hearted. Irreverent. Sweet. Bizarre. Dark. Sarcastic. Touching.

Unfortunately in 1998 the comic published a cliffhanger and just… stopped. Really stopped. For years. For a decade.

Then, in 2008, the artist and writer, Rob Schrab came back to finish the story. Despite the fact that he’s all Hollywood famous now, he came back and finished the series. What’s more, he put such a lovely ending on it that I actually cried.

This is a gorgeous collection, and it includes the entire story arc. As it says in the title: Beginning, Middle, and End.

This is Joss Whedon. What else do I need to say? This comic actually made me give a damn about the X-Men despite the fact that I didn’t know anything much about them before I picked up the book.

So yeah. Joss Whedon. Brilliant.

*     *     *

These next few books were donated by artist Ray McCarthy. Turns out he’s a fan of Name of the Wind, and after checking out some of the titles he’s worked on, I’m a fan of his, too.

  • A copy of Batman: Contagion. Signed by illustrator Ray McCarthy.

This is one of the classic Batman storylines from back in the mid-90’s. A slew of great writers and illustrators collaborated on it, including Ray McCarthy who donated this book and has signed it.

  • Two copies of Catwoman and Vampirella by Chuck Dixon and illustrated by Ray McCarthy. Signed by the illustrator.

Part of me wants to feel guilty about looking at this cover for as long as I have, and the rest of me doesn’t care.

  • A set of Red Robin graphic novels . Collision signed by Ray McCarthy.

I’ll admit that this new series was completely off my radar until Ray brought it to my attention. But I picked it up and was immediately pulled in despite the fact that I’m not up-to-date on the current Batman storylines. Dynamic storytelling. Cool art.

  • Original Red Robin Art and matching comic from Ray McCarthy.

Lastly, Ray was cool enough to donate an original page of art from Red Robin #16.

To make sure this unique item ends up in the hands of someone who will love it properly, we’re putting it up for auction. Remember, the proceeds from the auctions go to support Worldbuilders and Heifer International.

You can bid on the Red Robin original art over here.

*     *     *

Two months ago I gushed about Girl Genius on the blog.

In that blog I professed my undying love for the series. I even went so far as to tell people that if they bought the first book on my recommendation and didn’t like it, I would buy the comic back from them.

Since then, people keep emailing me, wondering how many copies of the book I’ve had to buy back.

The answer: None. Not a single one.

Given my love for this series, I’m so excited to add this item to the mix today.

Phil and Kaja Foglio were cool enough to donate two full sets of Girl Genius to Worldbuilders this year. Both sets are signed by both Phil and Kaja.

One of these will be going into the general lottery so anyone can win it.

The other one we’re putting up for auction.

You can bid on the autographed set of Girl Genius over  here.

*     *     *

Remember folks, for every 10 dollars you donate to Heifer International, you get a chance to win these books and hundreds of others like them.

In addition to that, Worldbuilders is matching 50% of all donations made on our Team Heifer page.

Matching donations and a chance to win cool swag. What more could you ask for? Go on. Do it. You know you want to.

To see the other books you can win, and other auctions Worldbuilders is running, you can head over to the main page HERE.

Posted in Neil Gaiman, recommendations, Worldbuilders 2010 | By Pat49 Responses

Worldbuilders FAQ – (And a Critique of Batman)

This is the FAQ for Worldbuilders fundraiser, 2011.

If you want details about how the the fundraiser works, click HERE.

If you want to make a donation, click HERE.

Okay, onward to the questions:

  • “When does the Fundraiser end?”

February 7th at Midnight, Central Standard Time. Make sure to make your donations before then to take advantage of matching funds and to be included in the prize lottery.

  • “I love that you’re doing this. Can I post about this on my blog?”

Nothing would make me happier. The fundraiser depends on everyone spreading the word. Twitter it. Post up a link on Facebook. The more the merrier.

That said, I would prefer if you would link to my blog, rather than trying to copy-and-paste my posts. Our main page gets updated whenever we get new prizes or something changes, so it’s best if people go there to get the newest information.

  • “How can I be a Worldbuilders sponsor/donor?

It’s easy, contact me at Worldbuilders.2011 (squiggly at thinger) gmail.com

  • “Can I donate to Heifer International using paypal?”

Yup. You can also use Amazon payments and Google. You’ve got all sorts of options.

  • “I don’t have a credit card. If I mail you a check will you enter me in the lottery and match my donation?”

Absolutely.

Mail the check to

Worldbuilders
PO BOX 186
Stevens Point, WI 54481
  • “Can I send you cash?”

Muahahahahah….

Um…. Wait. No. You really shouldn’t. It’s just risky all around.

However, if you don’t have a checking account or a credit card, you could get a money order and send that to me.

  • “If your name goes into the lottery hat multiple times, can you win multiple prizes? The first prize your name is drawn for? The Coolest prize your name is drawn for? How will that work?”

Here’s how it will work.

Say you donate 120 dollars, enough for a goat.

Your name would go into the final drawing 12 times. Then, if we draw your name out of the hat and you win a signed book, your name is still in there 11 times for the rest of the drawing.

That means you could, conceivably, win 12 prizes.

  • “I ordered a book/poster/t-shirt from you. When will I get it?”

Man. I’ve got no idea. We’re getting things out the door as quickly as possible. But the mail is really slow this time of year because of the holidays. My advice is to be patient. Sending me an e-mail isn’t going to make the package move any faster.

  • “What are my odds of winning something if I donate?”

I can’t calculate even rough odds on this year until we have all the donations in.

But last year I think if someone donated $10, they had a 1 in 70 chance of winning something.

That means if they donated enough for a goat ($120) they had a 1 in 8 chance of winning something. Pretty sweet odds, you have to admit.

This year we have way more prizes, so I’m sure the odds will be just as good, if not a little better.

Keep in mind these are rough estimates. And the odds will shimmy around a bit as new books come in and donation totals rise.

  • “My uncle/mom/grampa speaks Polish/Spanish/Estonian…. Can I buy a signed copy of one of your foreign editions directly from you?”

Yup. Other authors have been donating their foreign translations to Worldbuilders, too. So we’re getting a nice selection of foreign editions in the store.

  • “Why are the foreign editions in your store so expensive?”

The prices for most of the books in above the cover price. This is because:

1. The books are usually signed by the author.

2. Some of the books are rare or out of print, or just hard to find in the US.

3. Because all the money is going to charity, so we’re asking you to kick in a little extra to support the good cause.

  • “Is there a facebook page for Worldbuilders?”

Soon.

  • “I have something I’d like to donate to your lottery option. Where can I send it?”

Before you drop that macrame owl into the mail, why don’t you drop us a line at Worldbuilders.2011 (squiggly at thinger) gmail.com and tell me what you’re thinking of sending.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate your generosity, and it’s not that I have anything against macrame. Or owls. It’s just that right now we kind of have a tight focus of things we’re giving away as prizes. It’s mostly books with some comics and a little art and music. For now, I think it might be best if we keep that focus.

  • “How come you didn’t invite me to donate a book to your fundraiser? Isn’t my book good enough for you?”

If I know you and I didn’t send you a request, it’s probably because I’ve been insanely busy these last few months.

It’s also entirely possible that I don’t feel I know you well enough to come begging for donations. I know this is hard to believe, but I am kinda bashful about that sort of thing.

The other possibility is that I lost your e-mail, or that I’m a disorganized idiot.

But if you’ve got a book or an ARC you think would fit in into the mix, I’d love to include it. Send it to:

Worldbuilders
P.O BOX 186
Stevens Point, WI 54481

Three things:

1. If you’re the author, we’d love if you signed the books before sending them to us.

2. If you’re thinking of sending a collectible of some kind, please contact us first.

3. Please package the books carefully. It breaks my heart when books arrive damaged.

  • I’d like to do an interview with you so I can write a story about Worldbuilders for my local paper/magazine/whatever.

If you’re a journalist, blogger, webcomic-er, a celeb with a huge twitter following, or just someone who has a cool idea about how to spread the word, drop us a line at the aforementioned e-mail: worldbuilders.2011 [squiggly at-sign thinger] gmail.com.

Pretty much if you have any questions about the fundraiser, that’s the e-mail to use. You’ll get a response much more quickly than if you use the contact form on my website.

  • “Can I do some fundraising of my own, then donate it and have you match it?”

By all means. Have a bakesale. Search the couch cushions. Rally your book club or church group. Show people at work the website then pass the hat.

You can also start your own fundraiser page that’s linked to Worldbuilders if you go to the Team Heifer page I set up and click “Join The Team” instead of “Give to This Team.” That’s the only way I can track donations.

  • “I can buy chicks on your page, but not baby ducks!”

Yeah. They don’t offer all the different options on the donor pages. The cost of a flock of ducks is the same as for the chicks: $20.

  • “How much of my donation to Heifer goes to actually helping people?”

This is a fair question. A lot of so-called charities are actually just scams that collect money.

Others have good intentions, but the majority of the money they raise goes running their organization. Some very high profile charities spend as much as 60-70% of the money they raise on administrative costs, while only a small sliver goes toward actually helping people. I could name names here, but I’m not going to. If you’re really curious, you can google up the information yourself.

Please believe me when I say I’ve done my research. Heifer is an award-winning charity for a reason. They’ve been doing good works for over 60 years.

Heifer keeps all its financial records available to the public, and 75% of everything it collects go directly toward helping people.

Here’s a nice visual breakdown from Heifer’s site.

You can see here that less than seven percent of their money goes toward administration. That’s exceptional.

Everyone has their favorite charity. There are a lot of good causes out there, and people have very personal attachments to them. Emotions run high in these areas.

When I first started doing worldbuilders I got a flurry of e-mails. Someone asked me about animal shelters, another about diabetes. A third person posted a comment on the blog, arguing that people living in the US shouldn’t give money to charities that support causes outside the US. I erased the post because it was harshing my groove, then I felt guilty about it because the person was relatively polite in making their point, though I still think they were wrong as wrong can be.

But here’s what I’m getting at. I think it’s important not to go all Bruce Wayne in these situations.

Follow along with me on this. Bruce Wayne’s folks were killed by criminals, so he grows up and becomes Batman in order to fight crime. Because he hates crime. Because crime killed his parents with crime.

Now I like Batman as much as the next guy. Good stories. Batarangs. Men in tights. He’s probably my favorite superhero.

But the fact is, his whole Batman deal is pretty self-indulgent.

Think about it. Dude is a multi-billionaire. If he wanted to make the world a better place, he could create a foundation 100 times bigger than Heifer International. He could build shelters for battered women, schools in low-income neighborhoods. Sustainable agriculture. Renewable energy.

What does he do with his money? He builds super-gadgets so he can fight crime. Drives a rocket car.

Yes I know that Bruce Wayne is also a philanthropist. Don’t quibble. He does a tiny bit of charity and a whole big shitload of being Batman.

Why? Well… because it wouldn’t be much of a comic if he didn’t. Fair enough.

But the other answer is this: he fights crime because it makes him feel good. Not because it does good. There’s a difference.

Cancer got my mom not too long ago, and it took a good hard swing at my dad, too. That means that I should be raising money for cancer research, because I hate cancer, right?

Well…. no. Do I hate cancer? Of course. But if I just focused on fighting cancer for the rest of my life, I’d kind of be doing it for selfish reasons. I’d be doing it to make myself feel good. Instead, I’d rather focus on making people’s lives better. I’d like to focus on doing good, then let the feeling good be the side effect.

That’s why I’m focusing on Heifer. I can do the most good there. If I raised 200,000 dollars for cancer research, it would help pay for a piece of lab equipment. It could fund a lab’s research for a couple weeks, or maybe only a couple of days.

The sad fact is, 200,000 dollars isn’t very much when it comes to fighting cancer.

But 200,000 dollars is a huge shitload of money when it comes to buying animals. We raise that much money, and hundreds of people’s lives get drastically better right away. Kids get to drink milk right away. Families get to sell wool and eggs right away.

We don’t need to research how to cure hungry kids. We know how. We have the technology. It’s called food. We just need to do it.

Heifer helps people all over the world, not just here in the US. Why? Because people all over the world have it really shitty and they need help. To say that some people deserve my help more just because they’re from the same country…. Nah. That’s not my game. I’m playing for team human, not team USA.

Does that make sense? Wait…. What was the question again?

Oh. Yeah. Will I match donations somewhere else instead of Heifer? Respectfully, I’ll pass. I’m not saying you should stop loving your charity. But I’ve put some thought into this, and I’m going to stick with Heifer for now.

  • “I have a question you didn’t answer here….”

Drop me an e-mail at Worldbuilders.2011 [squigly atsign thinger] gmail.com we’ll answer them as soon as I’m able…

To go back to the main Worldbuilders page, click HERE.

Posted in Heifer International, Worldbuilders 2010 | By Pat25 Responses

A Handful of Fanmail

I’ve got two pieces of mail, both of which should be answered sooner rather than later. So today we’re going to have a twofer.

Let’s do it.

Pat,

I missed your signing in Waukesha! I had a UFO come up at the last minute and wasn’t able to make it. (UFO = Unavoidable Family Obligation.)

My major problem is that I wanted to buy a signed book as a present for my boyfriend, who got me hooked on your book about a year ago. But now, when I’m catching up on your blog, I see that you had copies of the princess book there, too! I’m heartbroken!

Was it cool? I bet it was cool…

The point of my e-mail is to ask you if you’ll please come back to Milwaukee soon? Pretty Please?

Nat

It’s too bad you missed it, Nat. It was pretty cool. Everyone that showed up got an early copy of The Wise Man’s Fear and a backrub. Batman showed up too. He brought oatmeal raisin cookies and taught us all how to shatter a man’s hip using a broken-0ff chair leg.

So yeah, as far as my readings go, it was pretty much average.

I’m sorry you weren’t able to make it, but I don’t know soon I’ll be down in that area again. Logistically, it makes better sense for me to spread around my readings a bit, as it gives people in different areas a chance to attend.

I’ll probably do something down in Chicago before too long. Sarah wants to take Oot to the aquarium there, so I might as well do a little reading and signing while I’m in the area. (If anyone has a favorite bookstore in Chicago where they think I should stop, they can mention that in the comments below.)

Anyway, my point is I probably won’t be doing another reading in Milwaukee for months. But if you keep an eye on the blog and tour schedule page, you should be able to catch me when I’m somewhere nearby.

And if you still want a signed book for your boyfriend, you might want to check out Martha Merrell’s Bookstore. They brought in books for my signing down in Waukesha. And before I left, I signed a bunch of their stock. So they should have a bunch of my signed books still in the store.

They even have a few signed copies of the princess book, if you think your boyfriend would like one of those. It’s probably the only store in the country with those on the shelf right now.

Letter #2

Master Rothfuss,

I’ve been bad. I haven’t been keeping up on your blog, and consequently, I only today found out about your t-shirt design contest.

I desperately want to enter a design or two. But your blog says that the cutoff for entries is… today.

Can you please stretch out the deadline a bit for us sad, sorry losers that don’t check your blog as frequently now that school is out?

I promise it will be worth your while. I’m a graphic design major. I seriously do art and stuff.

In desperate minionhood,

Rich

(For those of you who are hopelessly out of the loop, here’s the blog where I talk about having a t-shirt design contest.)

This is what happens when you’re a lackluster minion, Rich. It’s because of people like you that the death star gets blown up.

Hmmm… I’m guessing that’s not the best example.

My point is that checking the blog should be an essential part of your life by now. You should treat my blog like your second job. You should revel in my blog with the same obsessive-compulsive fervor Sarah uses when I bring a bag of Cheetos into the house.

Seriously. She’s a freak for Cheetos. It’s like watching a very dainty shark.

Anyway, as I am a benevolent overlord, I realize my original two-week deadline was a little tight for some people. I’ve had several letters like this in the last few days, asking for a little extra time to complete designs.

So here’s the deal: I’ll extend the deadline for t-shirt submissions until the end of the month.

Two things to consider:

1. You’ve got your work cut out for you. We’ve had more than 100 designs submitted in the last week, and honestly, I’ve been really impressed. People came up with things I never would have thought of….

That means if you’re coming in under the wire, you better bring your A-game.

2. From this point on, we’ll only accept actual picture-type designs. We’ve got plenty of text descriptions right now. Over this next week, I’ll be turning over the best of these to our team of talented artists. They’ll work their magic, and early next month we’ll put the cream of the crop up here on the blog for people to ogle and vote upon.

Later everybody,

pat

Posted in fan coolness, Fanmail Q + A, Oot, Sarah | By Pat83 Responses
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