A couple of years ago my mom found a box with all my elementary school papers. In addition to some embarrassing pictures — I rocked a bowl cut for far longer than the style would allow — I came across one of those questionnaires that teachers have their kids fill out when it’s Friday and the clock is counting down toward the weekend. It asked about my parents, my pets, and my brother. And then there was the one question that still stands out to me today:
“What do you think you want to be when you grow up?”
My reply, in shaky block letters: “A writer like Stan Lee.”
I was six or seven when I wrote that. I barely knew what a writer did, but I knew that Stan Lee got to make up stories about Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four and a bunch of other super-heroes. That sounded pretty good to me.
When I was 39, my first novel was (finally) published and I was invited to speak on a panel at Comic-Con. That would have been a dream come true by itself. But as I was checking into the hotel, I realized I was standing in line right in front of Stan the Man himself.
I told him something he’d probably heard a lot before: “I became a writer because of you.”
He gave me the famous smile, shook my hand, and then that voice that I’d heard narrating Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends said, “Bless your heart. Thank you.”
Today he’s ninety years old and still Smilin’ Stan. You could do a lot worse for role models.
Thank you, Stan. Happy Birthday.
I admit, I was a huge sucker for these ads:
When I actually did send money to one of these reputable retailers, I usually got the envelope back marked “RETURN TO SENDER — ADDRESSEE UNKNOWN.” (I was not always great at matching up the dates on my comics with the current calendar.) The one company that did take my cash was the maker of the MAGNE POWER RING.
Of course, the good people at “Super Powers Enterprises” never bothered to send me the ring. I even got a letter from the Illinois Postal Inspector asking me to fill out some kind of official complaint. I was embarrassed because I should have known better (A working power ring? For $1.50? Come on, that technology has got to be worth at least $4.99), and so I stuffed the forms into a drawer, where they remained until I went off to college.
But it looks like someone out there has gone to the trouble of tracking down all these wonderful gadgets. Kirk Demarais has a new book out called Mail-Order Mysteries: Real Stuff From Old Comic-Book Ads! Unsurprisingly, very few of them actually work. Still, it looks fascinating. And maybe I will finally find out what the deal was with that power ring.
Today is the 137th birthday of Harry Houdini, or, as one author puts it, America’s first superhero.
This photo occupies a special place in my heart and in my house; it was a gift from my mother-in-law.
(My wife’s grandfather is standing the background, wearing glasses. He was, incidentally, the tallest man to have graduated from Harvard at the time.)
Also, in what sounds like a Jazz Age Marvel Team-Up, Houdini once hired H.P. Lovecraft to ghost-write a horror story for him. (I know there’s got to be a comic book or a movie in there.)
But if that’s not enough for you, the guy also fought robots. ROBOTS. Let’s see David Copperfield survive that.
If you don’t already know Beau, he’s been writing comics since forever, as well as marketing those books to the wider world out there. He’s the guy who made Guy Gardner — a second-string Green Lantern with a bowl cut — into an actual badass member of the DC Universe, among many other things.
His upcoming book is about Wynonna Earp, a descendant of the famous lawman who handles weird and paranormal crimes for the Black Badge division of the U.S. Marshal’s Service. If I had to use the bad Hollywood math description, I’d say it was “X-Files” meets “Justified.” But that doesn’t really do it justice. Beau was kind enough to forward me the script, and let me sum it up this way: Yetis, explosions, massive ordnance, immortals, vampires, mad scientists, more explosions, hot chicks, cold beer, and a crack squad of Bigfoots. Bigfeet. Whatever.
If that’s not your particular brand of vodka, well, we probably don’t have much else to discuss.
As part of the ongoing launch, Beau has a short introductory piece about each part of the Wynonna Earp universe. Today’s features Smitty, the gunsmith and veteran (read: old) marshal who works with Wynonna. Any resemblance to Beau himself is purely coincidental, I’m sure.
Wynonna Earp: The Yeti Wars hits stands in December. (The Diamond Comics Distribution Order Number is OCT100439.)
Oh, and it will include an introduction by me, unless someone in power comes to their senses before publication.
- San Diego Comic-Con beckons. Here’s geek centerfold fantasy and Daily Show correspondent Olivia Munn on her favorite things about Nerd Prom.
- And he might not be Maxim-worthy, but Chris Sims has his own take on what to see at Comic-Con.
- And while I’m not trying to start rumors of an impending Chris Sims/Olivia Munn whirlwind romance and marriage, here’s advice about how to get laid at Comic-Con. I wholeheartedly endorse #8, which advises showering.
- BTW, my panel, “Fang Boys and Fang Girls,” will be at noon on Saturday, July 24, in Room 7AB. I say “my panel,” but we all know the truth. It’s Charlaine Harris’s world. The rest of us just live in it.
- The Goon coming soon.
- Dept. of Dishing It Out But Not Taking It: Elizabeth Hasselbeck edition.
- “I am obsessed with Survivor, so I thought it would be fun.” One-star reviews of classic books on Amazon.
- Great news for Jack Reacher fans. Christopher McQuarrie (of the amazing and underrated Way of the Gun) to take on adaptation of One Shot.
- Interview with Bill Murray. That’s all you really need to know.