After the Party

In RakeMag, a fascinating life of the man behind a poem I discovered and have read voraciously, The Wild Party.

If you were looking for a young man with a great literary life in front of him in 1928, you’d have been hard-pressed to find a better candidate than 29-year-old Joseph Moncure March. His narrative in verse The Wild Party, a tale of Manhattan hedonism and the tragic hipsters who indulge in it, had been published that spring in a limited edition, achieving an immediate following and brisk sales. (A musical adaptation will open this month at the Fitzgerald Theater). The book even got banned briefly in Boston, bringing March something every writer craves—a prominent but not damaging censorship battle.

Read the Whole Thing, as they say, but in a nutshell, after The Wild Party and a sequel, The Set-Up, he made the move to Hollywood and that did not turn out as planned. He ended up working in a shipyard, managing a sheet metal plant, and then writing and producing industrial films during WW2 (in the first war, he’d been an infantry private). That led to a second career making films for big firms that lasted through the 1960’s.

Many of these can be found in the Rick Prelinger archive of industrial films, and two inparticular— Design For Dreaming and A Touch of Magic , both Technicolor spots for the General Motors Motorama starring industrial films icon Thelma “Tad” Tadlock— have become favorites among the sort of ironists who think it’s the height of wit to mock the styles and affectations of a half-century ago. One couplet from Design, “Girls don’t go to Motoramas dressed in a pair of pink pajamas, ” has been picked up by fans as a tagline for all that was corny and square in the fifties. Do these sneering hipsters realize that the author of Design For Dreaming was once a sneering hipster like themselves?

The question is, if they did, would it stop them?

The Wild Party got a 1994 revamp with Art Spiegelman cartoons, but The Set Up is hard to come by. I’d like to read more, and I’d like to revive the concept of a narrative poem. Something to aspire to, anyway.

Comic Book Post 5.1: The Death and Return of Superman

Pursuant to Comic Book Post #5.

Max Landis, of ChronicleAmerican Ultra, and Red Letter Media fame, parodies the killing and unkilling of Superman in the famous 1993 DC cash-grab. It’s funny, and he makes a salient point at the end about ruining death in comic books (NSFW due to language).

 

Philosophically speaking, death and life are inextricably intertwined, as mutually exclusive states of being must be. Thus, if death is a state into which one can pass in and out of with a wave of the narrative hand, then the stakes of life are shrunk accordingly. The meaninglessness of Superman’s Death just made him the more boring.

That’s Three Novellas Done, Gang.

devil-1last-tomorrowVoid3

I just put the most satisfying words – THE END – an author ever composes onto Void. The last three chapters will be available in their entirety in the next issue of Unnamed Journal.

Which means I’ve finished almost a week ahead of my June 1st deadline.

Which means I’ve hit all my deadlines this year – with time to spare. In January I had none novellas finished. Now I have three.

So now what?

First, these need to be revised, and then published. On Kindle certainly, and with paperback versions as well.

I’ll probably go back and revise them in order of composition – Devil, Last Tomorrow, then Void.

So let me set myself some more arbitrary deadlines:

  • The Devil Left Him – Let’s say June 23rd. That ought to be plenty of time. I don’t think this one needs that much revision.
  • The Party at the Last Tomorrow – I’m going to give myself more time with this one. It’s kind of half-baked at this point. We’re going for July 28th.
  • Void – I don’t know that Void is going to need much work. I’m going to give myself three weeks. August 18th.

While I’m doing this, I will be working on a full-length novel. It’s the Civil War novel I’ve already started, working title The Sword. If I can get it done over the summer, I’ll be pretty pleased with myself.

Watch this space.

Comic Book Post #5

Being the continuance of a series abandoned…

I never read any of D.C.’s New 52, because I objected to it on principle. The whole point of comic books is that they provide the balance of new tales as part of a coninuity. I get that managing said continuity can be a challenge. But re-booting is pointless. Every issue is a reboot.

Plus, stop “killing” characters. It’s lame.

But D.C. Has abandoned all of that, and given us Rebirth, which is supposed to restore everything as it was without erasing the New 52 stuff. So …


This doesn’t mean I haven’t read anything. I checked out the first few issues of Marvel’s Star Wars reboot, and that was fine. Decent Luke storylines, anyway. I stopped because they started spreading the storylines over five or six separate titles, so I have to buy Princess Leia #8 to continue Darth Vader #11 to continue Star Wars #9. And that’s too damn nerdy for me.


I also kept up on Dark Horse’s Conan titles. Conan the Avenger had a wry humor to it, occasionally at the expense of the title character, while Conan the Slayer is tonally more in line with the original Robert Howard stories.  Both are enjoyable, if you’re into that sort of thing.

I also got this:


Because Deadpool is funny, and he makes Spider-Man funnier, and I have the Erik B. And Rakim album this cover references. You got me, Marvel. You got me.

But what finally broke me from my D.C. boycott was a little documentary I caught on Hulu, Batman & Bill, which chronicles the campaign to get D.C. to officially credit the man who created much of the Batman universe, Bill Finger. Bob Kane, who claimed all the credit as the creator of Batman, apparently came up with the name, and not much else. Everything around the name, from the costume, the villains, the secondary characters, even the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne, was Bill Fingers work. But Kane made the deal with D.C., so every Batman comic and movie and TV show has “Batman created by Bob Kane” in the credits. Kane died a millionaire and Finger died in poverty and obscurity.

But the truth will out. As early as the 1960’s, people whispered the truth that Batman was not a solo act, but Kane vigorously stuck to the legend. And after he died, so too did D.C. Finally in 2015, after generations of Finger’s heirs and the nerd community shouted loud enough, D.C. agreed to change the credit, starting with the Batman vs. Superman movie.

So I picked up Batman #23, a Swamp Thing crossover with an interesting nihilist villain. It’s well-drawn and appropriately gloomy. And on the first page:

That’ll do, Bats. That’ll do.