Wednesday Warren – Suzie Lightning

Ever been desperately in love with someone…but knew it wouldn’t work? And maybe — just maybe — you possessed the maturity and the wisdom to keep yourself from trying anyway? Because you know what? Your first, gut impulse was right: It wasn’t going to work. It was never going to work, and by not even trying, you’ve missed out only on misery.

Warren Zevon knows that feeling. “Suzie Lightning” is a paean to an amazing woman the narrator knows he can never have.

No use crying about it
No use trying to hold on
She lights up the sky
Then she’s gone

Here’s a live version. The opening instrumental is a little long, but it’s a lovely song. Give it a listen:

Memory Monday – “Let My People Grow!”

Given that the Bottle City of Kandor was a well-established bit of Supermanic lore by the time I started reading comics, this cover blew me away. Could it be true, I wondered? Would DC finally publish a story in which Superman rectified a long-standing wrong and enlarged the shrunken city from his home planet?

Well, the cover didn’t lie — Kandor was, in fact, enlarged in this issue. And it wasn’t taken back, either, by some shenanigans at the end of the story. But the issue had a nicely-done twist at the end that allowed Superman to maintain some of the nigh-Catholic guilt over Kandor that he’d had all those years. In a story that seemed it could only zig, there’s a cool bit of zag right at the end.

 

Kandor

 

(From Superman #338, August 1979. Cover by Ross Andru and Dick Giordano.)

This Week in Rejection!: DC Comics

In college, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to break into the comic book business. This was frustrating for two reasons: One, because all you could submit were ideas for single-issue “fill-in” stories. And two, because comic book editors wanted nothing more than a single-page “springboard” as a sample. Meaning that instead of seducing an editor with a well-constructed story and excellent characterization, I found myself in the position of having to learn how to write quick-n-dirty hype pieces that were, by their very nature, transitory.

Anyway, one such springboard was for DC’s Flash series, which at the time was just beginning to pick up steam again. Here’s the rejection I received:

If you can’t read that, here it is:

Barry–

I am returning your springboard to you. A brief glance tells me that it is very similar to a storyline currently in development, and as such, I have no wish to give you the wrong impression.

It’s a good idea, unfortunately it’s one we’ve already had… Great minds think alike, and all that.

Good thinking. Keep trying.

Best of luck–

Brian

That would be Brian Augustyn, legendary editor of Mark Waid’s seminal 1990s run on Flash. My story? It was titled “Reversal of Fortune” and it involved deceased supervillain the Reverse-Flash traveling back in time before his own murder to take posthumous revenge on the Flash.

Those of you who are comic book geeks probably recognize this as the basic premise of Waid’s “The Return of Barry Allen” story, the tale that pretty much cemented his rep as a comic book writer.

So, yeah, I got shot down by DC, but for a while there I felt pretty good that I’d come up with the same idea as Waid!

Frustratingly, while I did “keep trying,” I never got anywhere with DC. You’ll see more DC rejections in future editions of This Week in Rejection!

Wednesday Warren: Nobody’s in Love This Year

This week, we come to the last song on Warren’s 1989 album Transverse City: “Nobody’s in Love This Year.” I’m not sure what to make of this song, truthfully. Or — more precisely — I’m not sure what to make of it in the context of Transverse City.

The album begins with a Side One that explicates a near-future dystopia of denuded environment, soulless cityscapes, and perpetual war. Then Side Two comes along and reminds us that the “near-future dystopia” is actually the world we live in already.

And then there’s “Nobody’s in Love This Year.”

We keep walking away for no reason at all
And no one says a word
We were always so busy protecting ourselves
We never would have heard
And the rate of attrition for lovers like us
Is steadily on the rise
Nobody’s in love this year
Not even you and I

It’s one of Warren’s sad love songs. We’ve seen these before; they’re masterful. But what the hell is it doing on this album? What the hell is it doing in the final slot, as the last thing the listener will hear, the takeaway, as it were?

I’ve gone over the lyrics again and again, and I was fully prepared to talk about how the song’s later use of banking metaphors to describe lost love draw a connection between personal interrelationships and the wider global crises Warren describes in the rest of the album. But you know what? In thinking about, I’m pretty sure that’s all crap.

I think he was just sad.

I think he was just really, really sad and he put this song on the album because he was sad. And it doesn’t fit with the rest of the album, but it fits his mood.

So, here’s “Nobody’s in Love This Year:”

Teen Author Reading Night – Fall 2011!

The schedule for the Fall 2011 Teen Author Reading Nights has just been released. I’m psyched!

What are the Teen Author Reading Nights? Basically, every month, YA authors gather in New York City to read from recent and upcoming works. If you’re in the city, you should totally join us. It’s lots of fun.

The readings take place each month at the Jefferson Market Branch of the New York Public Library, located at 425 6th Ave (at 10th St.). Each night’s event runs from 6-7:30 pm.

I’ll be reading from Mangaman in November, and I strongly urge you to attend on September 7, when Paul Griffin will read from his phenomenal new book, Stay With Me. Here’s the complete schedule:

September 7:

Coe Booth, Bronxwood
Sarah Beth Durst, Drink, Slay, Love
Paul Griffin, Stay With Me
Jeff Hirsch, The Eleventh Plague
David Levithan and Jonathan Farmer, Every You, Every Me
Jon Skovron, Misfit
Adrienne Vrettos, Burnout

October 5:

Jocelyn Davies, A Beautiful Dark
Anna Godbersen, Beautiful Days
Anne Heltzel, Circle Nine
Michelle Hodkin, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Kody Keplinger, Shut Out
Micol Ostow, What Would My Cell Phone Do?
Leila Sales, Past Perfect
Cecily von Ziegesar, Gossip Girl Psycho Killer

November 2:

Nora Raleigh Baskin, The Summer Before Boys
Donna Freitas, The Survival Kit
Leanna Renee Hieber, Darker Still
Stewart Lewis, You Have Seven Messages
Barry Lyga, Mangaman
Lauren McLaughlin, Scored
Lynn Weingarten, The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers

December 7:

Cecil Castellucci, First Day on Earth
Margie Gelbwasser, Inconvenient
Andy Marino, Unison Spark
Julia Mayer, Face in the Mirror
Marie Rutkoski, The Jewel of the Kalderash
Delia Sherman, The Freedom Maze