Tag Archives: david mzs

Last four endings selected in contest to finish Roger Ebert’s short story

Among the last four entries selected by rogerebert.com as part of their contest to complete a short story by Roger, check out my own. And then check out the other three (’cause reading is fundamental) and vote for the one you like best!

How my ending begins:

“A failed Mozart?” Alex said. “That sounds like an empiricist’s nightmare. Throw him and his star-speckled wig on your science-fiction cover, Mason.”

Mason smiled a little. “Why not? Maybe all the space girl needs is an intermediator, someone who speaks the molecules’ language.”

As the waitress brought Regan the last piece of apple crumb cake, Regan tapped the bridge of her nose. “Thank you! I mean, mostly the waitress and Claire, of course. No offense to you space boys.”

“None taken,” Elliot said.

Find all of the entries here:

http://www.rogerebert.com/chazs-blog/the-thinking-molecules-of-titan-the-final-batch-of-four-endings

Gotta note: the great illustration above is by Krishna Bala Shenoi and was done for my own little ending (He’s done some really cool stuff for each of the others selected, as well).

That’s all for now. Have a good day and/or night, folks.

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Rediscovery

I smiled as I swept a lone cigarette into the dustbin.  It had been around the sidewalk beneath Elaine’s ledge, and was the best kind of cigarette–one that hadn’t been smoked before it was trash.

What were the chances a temp was the one who threw it away?

It was just about lunchtime, and I was finishing sweeping up when Curtis passed by again.  This time he was with some of my distant co-workers from public relations.  Curtis and I were both from the same side of town, and though he had lived elsewhere for a long time, it was through his old, poorer neighborhood that he was running for councilman.  His chances at winning weren’t great, but he seemed to be a popular source of community outreach photos.  Back in high school, I let him convince me to stop saving for a guitar and get a ukulele.

“Hey, Curtis!” I called out.  “You still playing the guitar?”

He didn’t look back.

My thoughts returned to the possibility of seeing Elaine.  I emptied the dustbin then headed upstairs, sweeping stray bits along the way.  On the third floor, there was a utility closet with a door inside that had been spackled to blend into a wall.  A chair propped that door open.  Sighing at the hint of smoke wafting in, I reached around the spackle and knocked on the building exterior.  “Any temps out there?”

“No,” Elaine said.  “Oh, wait . . .”

There were a few mini-roofs scattered around the five-story building.  When I stepped over the chair, it was onto one of these islands of a sort.  Her hands shooting down to her sides, there Elaine stood.

“The first one was me hoping,” she said.  “I’m sorry if you had to clean it up.  The second–well, I still don’t want you breathing in any of this stuff.”

“Still quitting, huh?”

Elaine showed me a nicotine patch on her arm.  “For lots of reasons.  Hypothetically–if I wanted to kiss someone, it shouldn’t be second-hand.  But that’s a process, Roger, like you getting a mobile phone.”

I smirked.  I really did hope to need one some day.

It had been a few weeks since we last saw each other.  After a little while, Elaine came over and sat down on the chair.  I leaned against the building and slid down until I was crouching.  This put us in close proximity to each other, and though that felt natural, distance between us and other people had a lot more mileage.  We’d both had our hearts broken once before, and that had been enough.  Elaine was brown-skinned and of Chinese descent.  Her family owned a restaurant that had been failing since one opened up a few stores down.  Their block was in the midst of rediscovery, and she said the new place offered some more traditional idea of Chinese decor.  This was why she was temping.

Elaine bumped her leg into mine.  “Hey, you should see your friend more often.”

“I see him.  I just don’t know why he’s still trying to play the blues.”

“Did he give you my last message?”

From my pocket I pulled out the nicotine patch that Arnold said was from her, then I held it up.  It was in this way that we saw a silver-haired man looking at us from a window of the building across the street–somewhere in the middle of its ten stories.

“What’s he looking at?” Elaine said.

“Maybe we should tell him it’s just a nicotine patch.”

“That’s none of his business!  But if he wants a show, let’s give him one.”

Elaine got up and shook my hand in a glorious textbook fashion.  We were still shaking hands, past the show of it, I thought, when a woman belted through the door.  She beamed as she announced her discovery of a new spot for smokers.

***

When I went to see Arnold in the subway, he was sitting on a milk carton and trying to play guitar.  An empty, upturned cap lay next to him.  With hands trembling, Arnold barely managed to fingerpick his way through an old blues standard.  The resulting tune wasn’t constant enough to sing to, but he was in his own little world.   I tapped the back of my ukulele to get his attention.

“I’ll play, you sing,” I told him.

“Okay,” Arnold said, putting his guitar down.  “I guess that’d work just this once . . . I’m glad to see you’re all right.  Elaine told me her family is re-opening their restaurant over on the west coast.  Just ’cause she’s going out there don’t mean you’ll never see her again.”

All of this was news to me, but I nodded and picked up playing where Arnold left off.  He sung the standard words: down and out again today, but maybe there’d be love tomorrow.  The ukulele made it all sound lighter than it was.

A small crowd soon gathered, and I recognized the sides of a face or two from my job.  When the crowd was thick with a mix of people coming and going, a pair of brown arms swung back and forth at the rear.  One arm had a patch on it.  Elaine waved through most of the song, and I smiled a little.  Then she pointed at her wrist where there might have been a watch.  After she left and the song was over, I put on her nicotine patch and played through another tune.

On a renaissance of sorts

From my article at Den of Geek: ‘After 1992’s Army Of Darkness, another Sam Raimi feature film wouldn’t emerge in theatres for another three years. What Raimi did with the time in between is anybody’s guess – perhaps he wandered the world; maybe he dug through a peculiar collection of Spider-Man comics with most of the dialogue cut out. But what he certainly did with his Renaissance Pictures partners was bring to light a new frontier of genre TV

What Renaissance Pictures did for geek TV

Afua Richardson on her influences, the subtlety of gals’ comic fandom, and the best flute-metaphor ever

Afua Richardson is a comic book illustrator whose most current work is on Top Cow’s “Genius.”  Her vibrant, emotive art has been utilized by Marvel, DC and Image comics, and has seen her nominated for multiple Glyph awards.  Also a classically-trained musician and a singer-songwriter, the work of Afua ‘Docta Foo’ Richardson has been a surprise I very much want to see more of. 

My interview with Afua below the “KoiMaid Queen”:

By, and courtesy of, Afua Richardson. Enlargeable.

Your artwork bristles with energy.  Is that a quality that you’re conscious of trying to illustrate?

Thank you much!! Energy? Absolutely. As an artist, I feel it’s our job to communicate. One thing I love about the genre of anime is that the apex of motion is always overstated and extreme. I want people to feel something when they look at my work.

Who or what would you say influenced your style?  I see a little bit of everything in there, from what would be considered traditional comic artists to manga and the pre-supposed finer arts.

My influences are drawn (literally and figuratively) from Hiroaki Samura (Blade of the Immortal) , Frank Frazetta and everything Heavy Metal spilled out in the ’70s and early ’80s that my adolescent hands could snag. I adore Chris Bachalo’s work, and I’m in awe of Travis Charest’s attention to detail. A few anime that changed my brain were Evangelion and Kite. I can’t forget Czech artist Alphonse Mucha and the various European artists known for playbills and posters in the late 1800s, early 1900s.

As a woman – a demographic that statistically isn’t supposed to care much for mainstream comics – what work in that vein have you found particularly engaging?  Did you ever feel like there was a lack of work that, beyond universal themes, spoke to you on a simple, self-reflective level? 

I’d like to first address the earlier part of your question. I think that, like, most things– women keep a lot of things to themselves (unless it’s in relation to drama). Say for instance when a guy checks out a girl: they turn their whole head around. Perhaps if they are feeling bold, they’ll whistle or say good morning. When a gal checks out a guy–you’d be surprised if they even move their heads, but their eyes move. I am generalizing horribly, but, long story short: men stare, women glare. This may be a weakly prefaced metaphor, but my point is, women have ALWAYS been into comics.

By a gamma-driven Afua Richardson.

Look at the duo who created Wonder Woman. Gals–they just don’t often show it as much as guys might. Now that it is socially acceptable to be a geek, they are pouring out from the cracks, totting graphic t-shirts, non-prescription glasses and taking their knob kneed stand. I’ll also say that many gals will keep their secret geek obsessions to themselves so as not to be the raw meat in the wolves den. Some gents just don’t know what to say to a lady. They might as well be a different species of animal. So to avoid an onslaught of horribly formed jokes and gawking, they kinda avoid social gatherings unless in a group or have the cookies to handle their own.

The medium of comics is a diverse one. Just like any other form of literature, there are things written for entertainment . There are also things that are under the guise of entertainment that are thought-evoking. Planetary changed me after I read it. Also, Transmetropolitan. Don’t need stories about girly plights to ring true to me. I don’t need stories about make-up and lipstick and dating. I like stories about life. Personal revelations and overcoming unspeakable odds, even if the greatest advisory is the protagonist itself.

I like stories about life. Personal revelations and overcoming unspeakable odds, even if the greatest advisory is the protagonist itself.

You grew up in NYC.  What positives and negatives do you think that’s given you as an artist?  Or just as a person.   I sometimes wonder if, with a few gilded exceptions, the city is a little more inclined to people who don’t grow up there.

New York is a living freight train–breathing at a rabbit’s pace, moving like a swarm of flies. You don’t know any other way to be when you live there. There is survival or death.  This death can be a job with no way out. Survival can be a gig that makes it that much easier to get by. In a place where you can run into anyone and anything at anytime, it makes you raise the bar on your abilities. There’s a hunger in that city. You’ve got to be five times as amazing in order to be considered half as good.

But at the same time, you’ll possibly bypass the amazing bits of your work in the sea of apathetic audiences who are too cool to clap and too saturated by awesome to give you a second glance. Iron sharpens iron, I always say, and this city is made of adamantium. But most of the people who give the city a bad name are the ones who trickle in who are not used to so many people invading their personal space. They become irritable and are usually the ones who shoulder check you when you’re getting on the subway or drive past you in their cabs because they’ve heard terrible things about brown-skinned people via outdated media.

But at the same time, you’ll possibly bypass the amazing bits of your work in the sea of apathetic audiences who are too cool to clap and too saturated by awesome to give you a second glance. Iron sharpens iron, I always say, and this city is made of adamantium. But most of the people who give the city a bad name are the ones who trickle in who are not used to so many people invading their personal space. They become irritable and are usually the ones who shoulder check you when you’re getting on the subway or drive past you in their cabs because they’ve heard terrible things about brown-skinned people via outdated media.

As an artist, I was able to find amazingly skilled professionals in a local Starbucks to hang out with and tell me what I was doing wrong. Damien Scott (Batgirl 1999) was the 1st gent who offered me a professional gig doing finishing pencils for his comic. But I was too afraid I’d mash it up. That would NEVER happen where I am now. I mean, not never, but it’s not as likely.

More Afua goodness.

As a classically trained flautist, please give a musical virtue of the flute.

A musical virtue?  Hmm. The flute is like a feather sword gently cutting the air. For a time it was my 2nd voice. For an even shorter time it was my only voice.

The flute is like a feather sword gently cutting the air. For a time it was my 2nd voice. For an even shorter time it was my only voice.

Like a lot of industries, the music one isn’t what it once was.  At the same time, I feel like there’s a certain variety in the thirty percent of what isn’t quite the juggernaut stuff—one that still requires networking and luck, though.  Thoughts?  Is there anything about music’s ever-changing mediums that has helped kept you at it?

I was discouraged for a while. I had great opportunities, but none were ever quite right. Either I wasn’t ready maturity-wise or the company wanted me to sound like something else because they said it wouldn’t work. Even producers I knew who I’d share my ideas with would say I had to go along the straight and narrow if I wanted to sell. Then a year or two later, a sound-alike would win a Grammy… Now, I think there is a shift in the tide. People access their music via the Internet. Even though you can buy hits and Google can lower view counts at will, people are not limited to the small rotation of radio anymore. Things have returned to a word of mouth basis–something I don’t think the industry had anticipated in time to catch the wave. I think now I’m more confident in my vision; I just lack the production to get it completed. But I’m working on that. One step at a time.

As I know from a friend of mine, time is not on the side of a comic artist.  What projects give you pause?

Well, with the project I’m working on with Warren Ellis, I started out sketching enthusiastically and rather quickly, and then I realized I wasn’t the artist I wanted to be to create the project. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity (which I still fear I have, taking entirely too long to get started) , but I didn’t want to crap it out either. There are others but, I think I’ll hold my tongue on it. ;]

How did your first paid comic gig come about? 

My 1st paid comic gig came about some time in 2003 or so. My boyfriend and I just broke up; I needed to move out of his place. I just left my job because my boss’s husband body slammed her across the bar like a WWE match, and I wasn’t about to step foot in that place. My friend Brandon Graham was on his way to Seattle, and he had a small comic gig for Sizzle magazine and a small apartment in Astoria that he mentioned I should take. I was scared to do comics regularly but I had plenty of time to draw 10 pages for a quarterly comics in black and white for NBM Publishing. The writing was terrible and my work was just as bad, but it’s fine. We all start somewhere.

True.  And finally, since then, what as a singer-songwriter yourself did it mean to you to receive the 2011 Nina Simone award for Artistic achievement?

Nina Simone was one of those people–you know, those iconic “no one can tell me who I am and I’m not going to break out of a box I’m going to karate chop my way  through the roof to be who I am regardless of what anyone has to say” kinda people … It’s an honor to even tote something with her name on it.  Ironically the award sits broken on my dresser. The crack in it reminds me that it’s just a pair of shoes I’ve got to fill. That my work is just starting and the best I’ve got to give is yet to come.

… You know, those iconic “no one can tell me who I am and I’m not going to break out of a box I’m going to karate chop my way  through the roof to be who I am regardless of what anyone has to say” kinda people …

I always wish I knew more. To see more of Afua’s work, listen to her music, or commission art, check out http://www.afuarichardson.info or @AfuaRichardson.  Thanks upon thanks to Afua for her time.