Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Curmudgeon Alert

The need to do some unexpected research meant this was another day of running around and visiting various libraries and bookstores. I also went to a comic book store for the first time in a long time. I had a gift certificate my daughter gave me that she won as a prize where she works. The young guys working in the store were friendly enough but somewhat suspicious when a bearded old reprobate like me walked in and started looking around. I was going to get the new Del Rey trade paperback of Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane stories, but they didn't have it. I thought, well, hell, I'll buy a few comics, so I started browsing the racks. Everything I looked at, including old favorites like FANTASTIC FOUR and BATMAN, had that manga-influenced art (which I don't like), huge panels, and very little dialogue. Okay, I thought, I can read one of these in three minutes, five tops. I just couldn't bring myself to buy any of them. No wonder a comic book that sells 50,000 copies is considered a huge success these days. Time was, Marvel would cancel any book that didn't sell at least 100,000 copies each month. (Any post with the phrase "Time was" in it qualifies for a curmudgeon alert.) Instead I got ESSENTIAL AVENGERS VOL. 4, which reprints AVENGERS #69-97 and INCREDIBLE HULK #140 (must be a crossover story, I don't remember). I had the first three ESSENTIAL AVENGERS volumes but hadn't picked up this one yet. This is a very thick trade paperback that will take me five or six hours to read, at least. Of course, I've read all the stories before in their original appearances, but I'd never pull all the individual issues out to read them again. I really like the Essentials volumes and always have one on hand that I dip into from time to time; the one on the shelf right next to me now is THE ESSENTIAL IRON MAN. The art loses a little something in black-and-white, but hey, no time travel machine is perfect, right? And that's what these books are, because they transport me right back to the days when I first read those stories.

I decided I wasn't ready to start another long Connelly novel, so I'm reading the January 1942 issue of THRILLING WESTERN instead. The lead story is a Walt Slade "novel" by Bradford Scott called "Riders of the Rimrock Trail". Scott, who was really A. Leslie Scott, also revised and expanded this story into a full-length novel also called RIDERS OF THE RIMROCK TRAIL but published under the pseudonym Jackson Cole and featuring Scott's other famous Texas Ranger character, Jim Hatfield. I plan to read both versions and compare them.

I also plotted another Western novel today and worked some more on figuring out what I'm going to do in the new series. I need to get the outline for the first novel in that one written up and sent in to the editor.

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