Memory Monday – More Silver Age Sexism!

Oh, Superboy comics…! I’m sure Lana’s just trying to keep the peace between her geeky, put-upon pal Clark Kent and super-stud athlete “Bash” Bashford, but…

 

Lana Lang

 

 

(From Superboy #157, June 1969. Story by Frank Robbins. Art by Bob Brown and Wally Wood.)

This Week in Rejection!: Comico

This is another one of those cases where Young Barry (Barry Lad?) was incapable of seeing the bright side of a rejection:

I remember this rejection very well, mainly because I remember the project I submitted so well. It was a very grim-n-gritty comic book mini-series (hey, it was the eighties!) that I’d developed in my later years of high school. I polished it up my freshman year at college and finally submitted it to Comico sometime between my freshman and sophomore years. It was, obviously, turned down. I still like the idea, but, yeah, it wasn’t ready for prime time.

(The series, BTW, was titled Blade. Being a DC kid, I had no idea there was already a Marvel character with that name.)

In case you can’t read the personal note appended at the bottom, it reads:

Barry–There’s a lot I like about “Blade.” It appears to me, though, that you are building a castle on a weak foundation with your use of the rather stale schizophrenia scenario. Very good start on the whole.

I can look at that rejection letter and its note now and see a lot of promise. If I got a note like that today, I would re-examine my original pitch, look for places where I could clear up the misapprehension that what I intended to be akin to demonic possession came across like schizophrenia, and probably re-submit.

But at the time, all I could see was a form letter rejection and a note that “totally missed my point, man!”

Once again, I was ignoring good advice and a helping hand. Truly, those of you reading this series who are on the journey to publication, if you take away anything from it, take this: Don’t be the blind, self-righteous guy I was! When you get a rejection with some personal content in it, treasure that, examine it, learn from it.

Oh, and also: I love that the letter starts “Dear Creator.” Makes me feel Godlike. 🙂

I HUNT KILLERS Goes to Russia!

I’m thrilled to announce that AST Publishing (one of the biggest publishing houses in Russia) has picked up the Russian rights for I Hunt Killers, joining France and Germany among the roster of international publishers for the book. (Wait — France? Germany? Russia? I think I took this history class in school…)

You can see AST’s website here, but unless you speak the language, it’s not gonna help much. 🙂

As always, many thanks to my agent, Kathy Anderson, and to the folks in the Little, Brown Subsidiary Rights Department who made this happen, especially Amy Habayeb and Kristin Dulaney. And thanks, of course, to AST as well!

 

The Five Most Disappointing TV Series Finales

OK, so recently I rambled about the Five Best TV Series Finales. Consequently, I am bound by ancient Internet law and rite to devote equal time to…The Five Most Disappointing TV Series Finales!

Please note: “Disappointing” doesn’t necessarily mean “bad!” It just means that the finale in question didn’t meet the demands and/or expectations of the series that preceded it. Whereas the very best finales leave you fist-pumping or — even better — speechless/Keanu-ing (“Whoa…”), a disappointing finale leaves you shrugging your shoulders and saying, “Really? That’s it?”

I think I’m about to make some enemies. Yikes! When I say something below that spikes your blood pressure, take a deep breath and remember that it’s just my opinion. And then beat the hell out of me in the comments. 😉

Here goes…

(As before, spoilers may follow! You’ve been warned!)

Honorable mention once again goes to Lost. Oh, Lost. So much potential. With just a little more foresight and a tiny bit of planning, your finale could have been brilliant and tugged on my heartstrings. Instead, it nearly brought me to tears, but never got my brain out of first gear.

#5: Friends — Oh, this may be a controversial choice, as Friends is almost universally regarded as having concluded well. And I don’t mean to imply that the series finale was bad. By almost any definition that matters it was, in fact, quite good. But I do remember feeling a sense of “Was that all there is?” when it was over. And when I recently happened to catch the finale in syndication, I found myself anticipating something significant…but it never seemed to come. The end of the show was sweet, gentle, funny…but it didn’t feel like the end of the show, even with the abandonment of Gramma Geller’s apartment. It just felt like Another Day with the Friends: Ross and Rachel are back together (again), Monica and Chandler are hilariously in over their heads (again), and Joey and Phoebe are sort off in their own worlds (again). In some ways, it’s daring to make a series finale “just another day” and I get it — just because the show ends doesn’t mean that the fictional universe ends. But there are ways to conclude a narrative, leave us with a sense of ongoing life, and still satisfy our need for closure. Friends, in my estimation, hit two out of three. And it was a well-produced-enough show that I expected the trifecta.

#4: Seinfeld — I’m not even going to get into this one because it was excoriated so much at the time, and I think it’s pretty much commonly agreed to have sucked. It’s low in the list because (and this may seem hypocritical) I find the conclusion of a sitcom’s looser narrative structure less fundamental than that of a drama. Sitcoms — even those with tentative continuity, such as Seinfeld or even Friends — don’t have to finish as strongly as a drama. So even though Seinfeld’s conclusion was, frankly, awful, it just didn’t disappoint me as much as some of the others on this list.

#3: M*A*S*H — Halfway through the list, which makes sense, since this show ended up being half-comedy and half-drama. And, yeah, I know: the finale was one of the most-watched episodes of television ever. But guess what? There was nothing else to watch! You didn’t have five hundred cable channels (hell, you didn’t have fifty!) when M*A*S*H took its final bow, so that number doesn’t impress me. And believe me, it’s tough to put this show on this list because I generally loved M*A*S*H. Inventive, risk-taking, funny, serious, political… This is a show that stumbled almost as much as it ran, but when it ran — look out! Some fine, fine actors in great roles, with top-notch writing (for the most part). But that finale… Damn. Way too long, for one thing, and it rambled, as though desperate to fill all two-and-a-half hours, with BJ leaving, then coming back seemingly for no good reason, Hawkeye’s mental issues tortuously explicated, then tossed aside as if someone realized they had to wrap up the show… It was a decent enough farewell, I suppose, but it dragged and felt too self-important in all the wrong ways.

#2: Buffy the Vampire Slayer — I expect to be harangued — and viciously — for this one, but I have to stick to my guns. The Buffy finale was just so-so. If the season leading up to it had been stronger and more consistent, it might have fared better, but as it was, by the time we hit the finale, the audience was bored, a bit confused (by bad internal logic), and desperate for some last minute magic to save the day. Well, Willow conjured up that magic, but even her witchery couldn’t lead us to ignore the sudden ability of Slayers and mere mortals like Xander to stand up to Ubervamps with ease. And even blowing up Sunnydale couldn’t compensate for the anti-climax of Buffy facing off against the First Evil and doing…what? Snarking at her? Yeah, yeah, I get it — Buffy was always about subverting expectations, but it was a road too far here. Angel, a show about the perpetual quest for atonement, ends with its hero standing up to evil despite impossible odds. Buffy, a show about growing up, ends with… I dunno. What message does the destruction of Sunnydale impart about growing up? That once you grow up you can never go home? An arguable point to begin with, and one that isn’t bolstered by literally sucking one’s hometown into the bowels of hell. Not a bad finale at all, but just lacking.

#1: Millennium — Sometimes, a higher climb just means more room to fall. Millennium’s second season finale was audacious and brilliant, a work of true television genius. It was up there with the series finale of Twin Peaks. And then, to everyone’s surprise (including the showrunners’), Fox renewed the show for a third season! Suddenly, the producers were forced to scramble to write their way out of a season finale that had been a perfect, crushing, downbeat ending to the show. The result was a lackluster third season that near-invisibly retconned all the power out of the second season finale and then limped to an inevitable (and weak) series conclusion. To add insult to injury, the Millennium story was then continued and definitively concluded in a terrible episode of The X-Files. Frank Black deserved so much better.

Now it’s your turn: What series finales disappointed you?

“Bobby” Posted at Figment.com

If you enjoy my books, you may also want to try out my short fiction. Best of all, it’s free, so you don’t have much to lose (other than your time and maybe — if you don’t like it — your temper).

The fine folks at Figment.com have posted a second short story of mine. This one is titled “Bobby.” And that’s all I’m gonna tell you about it. 🙂

You can read it on the Figment blog or on my author page there.

If you enjoy “Bobby,” check out my other free short fiction:

Thanks to Figment — and especially to Ellen! — for hosting two of my stories.