Autumn/Flash Gordon approaching

And then, somehow, it was September, and Autumn was in the air.

I’ve been making an effort recently to slow my life down a bit, to make sure I take some time to stop and smell the roses—to be more thoughtful about what I’m doing each day and not just bulldoze my way through work and come home too tired to do anything other than watch MST3K and fall into bed. I’ve started doing yoga every day that I run, and some days that I don’t, and I’m trying to read more and watch less TV and cook more and just generally slow down and improve my life. We’ll see how long this lasts.

One of the things I’m reading right now is this:

photo 1
Flash Gordon: Spaceman with a Sword.

I found this at Boston Comic Con last month, buried in a 50% off box behind a bunch of $1 comics. I’d seen the Flash Gordon movie and some of the old serials, but never read any of the comics. I have to say, I’m sold. This book is amazing. Flash Gordon is going on a mission to find a missing spacecraft, and along the way there’s a jailbreak at a space prison, a sexy ice queen and crazy ice monster on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, and then they get transported to a far-off planet and it gets even MORE crazy. The stories are completely ridiculous and kitschy and oh-so-earnest and fabulous.

One of the things I love most, I think, is the juxtaposition of the serious, masculine, realistic art with the complete goofiness of the story elements. Before you ask, no, I’m not really sure what I mean by “masculine,” either—the art just seems rugged and manly, somehow, in a way that isn’t inherent to some more modern art. There’s something funny and intriguing to me about this serious masculine style being used to represent pretty butterfly men and Flash Gordon fighting an ice monster/space triceratops.

photo 2
Butterfly men and Flash Gordon’s chin.

The back of the book has an essay by Dave Schreiner and some old pencils and layouts by Frank Frazetta and Harvey Kurtzman, but I haven’t gotten there yet.

I also have a collection of the Flash (DC’s Flash) that I’m working on right now, and then I guess I should find a book without pictures to follow up with. Maybe it’s time for some Dickens.

I hope everyone out there in the internet-land is doing well! Anyone in the middle of any good Autumn reads right now?

coming soon: Gracetopia, 2014 ed.

Spent some time today going through and deleting old blog post drafts—posts that, frankly, we are all lucky I stopped writing. I really do try to save us all from the dull inanities of my life. (But Grace, I hear you say, all you do on this blog is write about dull inanities. Right, so imagine how bad these posts were.)

As usual, looking backwards made me thing about going forward (aside: I was a history major), so here’s what I’m thinking of doing with gracetopia in two zero one four:

  • GVacationPost more about my travels. I am lucky enough to travel for my job, and this year I tried to start doing a “notes from the road” series but the posts don’t really have much meat. So, one of my plans is to do a better job of sharing some of the entertaining and interesting parts of my journeys, not just photos out of my hotel room window. (Though you have to admit, the Miami Beach photo is pretty baller.) (Is baller a thing the kids are saying now?) The problem, of course, is that I spent a lot of time in hotel rooms, which are inherently pretty dull. But fuck it, I’m a writer, let’s do this and make it sparkle.
  • Write more about what I read. I like reading. I like talking about reading. I tend to prefer talking about things I love rather than tearing apart things I don’t, so that’ll probably be the focus. I do try to shout out some of my favorite reads every now and then (HAWKEYE) but I guess what I’m saying is I’m going to try to focus more on making this a place for discussion about books/comics. Yeah.
  • Post more pictures. People like pictures, right? Breaks up all the text and whatnot. Related to this, I will have to take more pictures, because most of mine don’t really relate to the topics I might write about.

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    This is an example of a picture. I took this at the Georgia Aquarium in June 2013. It portrays a creepy-pretty sea creature in the jellyfish family. /science
  • Write more about Boston stuff. Boston, you’re my home. I want to reflect that a bit more at gracetopia, especially to give people who aren’t from around here a taste of what the city’s like. I wasn’t really sold on Boston when I arrived, but I’m kind of digging it now and I’d like to share that. (What about digging it? Do the kids say that?) This will also (maybe?) be an impetus to get my butt out from in front of Project Runway/Say Yes to the Dress marathons and actually do things in this city.
  • More cat pictures. Because you can never have enough cat pictures. Internet FACT.
we don't mess around with nap time
nap time is the best time

So, you know, get excited for all of that. And let me know if something jumps out at you and you’re like omg more of this!

I want to like your book

No, I still haven’t completed my second draft. Shhhh. 

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Last night I finished reading Rules of Civility by the fabulously-named Amor Towles. I loved it, and I am so glad that I loved it because I love Amor Towles. I know nothing about him except this quote but that’s enough.

I read a fair number of books because I like the person who wrote them. Sometimes it’s because I’m friends with the author, so obviously I like them and buy and read their book. Sometimes, though, I get a glimmer into a person’s mind and I am excited by what I see, like with Amor Towles, or someone is simply entertaining on the internet, like Delilah Dawson or Gail Carriger. If I then check out their books and go “oh hey this sounds cool,” it’s a sale.

So. There’s a lot of debate about the usefulness of having an online platform, but if I am your target audience it totally helps. Very simply, I like supporting people I like. Make me like you, and I’ll probably buy your first book. Write a good book, and I’ll probably buy your second.

mini book review: The Trial of the Flash

Just finished reading my first book of the new year, Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash. It covers a bunch of issues from 1983-85, when the Flash (Barry Allen) is on trial for murder.

We all know I love me some Flash, and overall I loved this (even though it wasn’t my boy Wally), but man were the Carmine Infantino layouts hard to follow sometimes. Like, headache-inducingly difficult.

And it’s not like a few issues in you could figure out the method behind the madness. No, Infantino would use the exact same panel layouts (usually involving diagonals) and expect you to read them in different directions on different pages with no indication as to which. I’d be halfway through a page or panel and realize I was reading things out of order. It got kind of frustrating, but I’m glad I persevered because the story rollicked right along. It was fantastical at times, and I’m not sure all the law checked out, but hey. I can deal with some over-the-top 80s-era stories and some Perry-Mason-esque legal squibbles if the story is great. Which it was.

Also, there’s one panel where Barry has a really nice butt. It was pretty exciting.

Yes, here at Gracetopia we cover the most important parts of a book in our reviews.

OUT TUESDAY: Zombie Tag, by Hannah Moskowitz

Hannah is one of my biffers, and I’m thrilled to help spread the word about her newest book, Zombie Tag. It hits shelves tomorrow, Tuesday December 20, and it is a pretty awesome piece of MG fiction. (MG is just a label—you bet your boots I’m planning to read it.)

You may recall, last year, I presented the rules for the game of zombie tag (click to refresh your memory). That game plays a major role in the book, aside from just giving it a title, but the book is so much more. Here’s the blurb:

Wil is desperate for his older brother to come back from the dead. But the thing about zombies is . . they don’t exactly make the best siblings.

Thirteen-year-old Wil Lowenstein copes with his brother’s death by focusing on Zombie Tag, a mafia/capture the flag hybrid game where he and his friends fight off brain-eating zombies with their mothers’ spatulas. What Wil doesn’t tell anybody is that if he could bring his dead brother back as a zombie, he would in a heartbeat. But when Wil finds a way to summon all the dead within five miles, he’s surprised to discover that his back-from-the-dead brother is emotionless and distant.

In her first novel for younger readers, Moskowitz offers a funny and heartfelt look at how one boy deals with change, loss, and the complicated relationship between brothers.

Doesn’t that sound awesome? Yes, yes it does.

Check out Hannah’s blog here. This link goes to Zombie Tag on Amazon, but I obviously encourage you to buy it at your local bookstore.