Thursday, December 25, 2008

'Tis the Season

From all of us and ours here at the little blog that might to all of you and yours, the very best of holiday seasons and the happiest of new years.

Got a feeling 2009 is gonna be the one to remember!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Well, according to several knowledgeable faithful readers, the aforementioned Final Crisis Secret Files Special is now not shipping until next week.

So, in the immortal words of the late and much-lamented Emily Latella..."never mind."

I'll just have to remind you all again next week.

Oh, and one more question. Does anyone out there know why the cover image I uploaded for the issue appears to be in NEGATIVE?

Just asking.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Attack of the 50-Foot Shameless Self-Promotion!

If you're heading to your local comics shop tomorrow, Christmas Eve (and Lord knows you probably have nothing more important to do), why not check the racks for Final Crisis Secret Files #1 - The Origin of Libra, written by your humble blogger and illustrated by the talented Tony Shasteen. It's all behind this knockout cover by the extraordinary Frank Quitely...

It's my first regular writing gig for DC Comics in a number of years, but by no means my last. I've got a lot of stuff coming up over the next several months and I'll let you know about it as we get closer to the release dates. In the meanwhile, put something nice for yourself under the tree and pick up a copy of Secret Files. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


What can I say? It's an honor just to be nominated...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Good-Bye, Old Girl

She was roughly about half the size of a Tribble when my lovely wife Christine brought her home from the breeder in February of 1995, a bouncing brown ball of fur that literally fit into the palm of my hand. She looked like an energetic bran muffin, so that's what we named her. Muffin J. Dog. Though she never did tell us what the J stood for.

She slept in bed with us almost from the start, generally curling up on the top of my head for the warmth generated there. When she was under a pound, it was cute. When she grew to over 80 pounds, it was pretty much life-threatening. Still, I could deny her nothing.

She was never much of a fetcher. She'd prefer to trot around the house carrying a stuffed fleece figure we called Fuzzbaby in her mouth. She was incredibly gentle with it. And with everyone and everything else she ever encountered in life. She wasn't a leash dog either. She didn't need one. When we went walking, she was always by my side. If she happened to bound on a few yards ahead, she'd always stop, look back over her shoulder and make certain I was still following. When I was in my office, writing, she would always be curled up on the carpet in the doorway, keeping a watchful eye to make certain she didn't lose sight of me. Every so often, someone would come to the front door to make a delivery and Muffin would wander outside. The delivery person would become flustered and advise me to grab my dog before she could run away. I always assured them there was nothing to worry about. That dog wasn't going anywhere.

As the years passed and we replaced our bedroom set, the bed became a little too high for old Muff to jump onto, so she'd spend the nights curled up on a big old dog bed set beside ours. She never wanted, asked for, or needed anything more than to be near us to make sure we were safe.

About a year and a half ago, Muffin started moaning one morning and seemed unable to rise from the kitchen floor. We rushed her to the vet, who checked her out and told us that she was suffering from an engorged spleen (whatever the hell that meant) and we had it surgically removed. Within a few days, she was back on her feet and happy again. A few months after that, she started having seizures. Again, we took her to the vet, who prescribed phenobarbitol to control the seizures, which promptly ceased.

But there was something different about poor Muffy after that. She would spend hours and hours pacing around the house in circles, clearly uncertain of where she was or what she was doing. Back to the vet, who told us that she was terribly arthritic and somewhat senile, so painkillers were added to the mix. A few months after that, the incontinence began.

But, through it all, we loved her. We scratched her graying head, patted her thinning tummy, tried to keep her as comfortable and as happy as we could.

About two weeks ago, the day came when Muffy suddenly couldn't get up on her hind legs anymore. I rushed her to the vet, thinking this was probably the end. But the vet said we could try one last thing. She prescribed a steroid called prednazone. Within hours, Muffy was back on her feet again and, wonder of wonders, no longer pacing around the house on a regular basis. Instead, she was back to lying wherever we were sitting, staying with us, protecting her family again. There was still the incontinence problem, but in the balance a minuscule price to pay.

Then, last night, out of nowhere, the seizures started again. And the hind legs failed. And the whimpering was heartbreaking. Today, Christine and I took her back to the vet for the final time, hoping for yet another miracle. But when she started seizing right there in the office, we knew our quota of miracles was finally used up. After weeping together uncontrollably for a few minutes, Chris and I made the only loving choice we could.

So I held her and looked into her sweet brown eyes and stroked her noble head and kissed her nose and told her how much we loved her and how we would always love her and how lucky we had been that she had chosen to be our dog and that it was finally okay to let go of the pain and the suffering and go into the light to play for awhile until the day we could get to see her again and, never one to disobey me, that's precisely what she did.

And now the best, most loving, most loyal dog I've ever known is gone, and the world is infinitely poorer for it and I feel like I've lost my best friend and I'll never be whole again.

So, if you'll all forgive me, I think I'm going to go and cry my eyes out for a good long while.

I expect I'll be doing a lot of that in the days and weeks to come.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What's the Word, Hummingbird?

This week, my dear buddies J. Keith Van Straaten and Jim Newman, the dynamic duo who have previously dazzled us all with their faithful and impossibly entertaining revival of the classic game show What's My Line? -- on which I was frequently fortunate enough to be a panelist and of which I've posted often here in the past -- are at it again. (And a quick claws up to anyone who can actually diagram that sentence.) This coming Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, November 17th, 19th and 20th, they are introducing their exciting new game show Word 1 to the world back at their usual stomping grounds, the Acme Comedy Theater, here in Los Angeles on La Brea Avenue a half-block south of Beverly Boulevard.

If you're able to come watch the wonderment unfold during any or all of the three nights, you might still be able to get tickets by clicking here. Truth to be told, they'd be cheap at twice the absurdly low price they're charging.

The celebrity contestants for the three nights include the always-entertaining Gary Anthony Williams (late of Boston Legal), the lovely and talented Suzy Nakamura (recently of Help Me Help You and Back to You) and Bil Dwyer (host of the latest GSN revival of I've Got a Secret). For both of you who care about such things, I'll be at the show on Wednesday, serving as a celebrity judge for the evening, so drop by and say hi. I'd eagerly be there in the audience the other two nights, but my stupid schedule was already booked up for both days with things I couldn't get out of, so I'll be trying to pack three nights of fun into one.

But, knowing what J. Keith and Jim have in store for us all, that shouldn't be hard.

Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thank God It's Finally Here!

Well, after the longest campaign in modern history (I think it began the day after the 2004 election), today is Election Day! Get up, get dressed, get out, and vote! If you expect long lines at your local polling place, bring along a book or something else to keep yourself entertained while you wait. If it's raining or snowing or you're experiencing a monsoon, put on your favorite galoshes and your best yellow raincoat, pull the collar close and brave the storm. There is no excuse for not voting. None. Not even death. Hell, in Chicago, dead people have been known to vote all the time.

I hope, like me, you'll vote for Barack Obama and give change a chance and, if you happen to live in California, you'll vote a resounding NO on propositions 4, 8, and 11, but even if you vote the other way and we completely cancel out each other's ballot, VOTE!

It's your privilege as an American. It's your duty as a citizen. And, as Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 so vividly proved, every single vote matters.

Go! Get out! Get Busy! Make me proud!

Remember, Captain America died for our sins.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

On The Road Again

Just a quick note to let all and sundry know that your humble blogger will be one of the many fine guests this weekend at the annual Mid-Ohio-Con, to be held in beautiful downtown Columbus, Ohio, and to which you can still get membership and all other pertinent info by clicking right here

I'll be joining a line-up of guests that will include my good friends Mark Evanier, Tony Isabella, Chris Claremont, Alan Davis and the proverbial host of others, so if you're in the Columbus area this weekend, be sure to stop by, say hi, and mention that you're a faithful follower of this here blog. There's no special prize or anything involved in saying so, but the more of you who mention you read this thing, the more likely it is that I'll blog here more often.

Mid-Ohio-Con. It puts the "hi" in Ohio.

Friday, September 19, 2008

More Comics Goodness

Since I've recently written a new Munden's Bar story for them, currently being illustrated by my old pal and master artist Joe Staton, and want you all to be able to read it once it's finally finished and posted, I've just added a link over there to the right to the entertaining website Comicmix, run by another old friend and associate, Mike Gold.

Just click on over and check out the comics-related goodness. I'll let you all know when the Munden's story is posted.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Banner Headline

You might, assuming you're one of those inclined to take advantage of the many free extras we happily run along the right side of this here blog, notice the new Obama/Biden banner recently imbedded there. What you might not know is that, should you decide to click on it, it will take you to the official Obama/Biden website, where you can catch up on all the latest election news, find out what you can do to support the candidates, and even, should you be so inclined, make a donation to the campaign. I've done it, my lovely wife has done it, and any and all of you Gentle Readers who believe as we do that the Democrats are our best and brightest hope of getting this once-great nation back on the path to prosperity and international acceptance might consider doing it as well.

If, of course, you like things pretty much just as they are and have no problems with the thought of four more years of financial headlines like those which terrified Wall Street yesterday, you are welcome to vote as you are so inclined.

It is, after all, at least for the forseeable future, a free country.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Palin For President

No, not that pathetic ploy from a once-proud political party now willing to do quite literally anything to maintain their desperate grip on our governmental gonads, but the Palin who ought to be in office. Click right here to join the campaign.

If you do, not only will you be supporting a candidate well worthy of your efforts, but you'll also get a free fuzzy thing.

And, frankly, who could rightfully ask for anything more than that?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Three Simple Rules

I think it was the legendary actor James Cagney who once explained that there were three simple rules to connecting with an audience: "You hit your mark. You plant your feet. And you tell the truth." Equally-memorable actor Spencer Tracy once said that the three basic rules of performing before an audience were: "Be on time. Know your lines. Try not to trip over the furniture."

On Thursday evening at the DNC, I believe Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama did Jimmy Cagney proud. On Friday morning, in Ohio, in introducing neophyte Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, I'm pretty sure presumptive Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain violated Spencer Tracy's third rule big time.

Does the Republican political machine really assume that supporters of Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton are so shallow that they will switch their allegiance to the opposing party simply because Governor Palin shares the same plumbing as Senator Clinton? If I were the good Senator from New York, I think I'd be spending most of the next two months reminding prospective voters that they need to support her agenda, rather than merely her gender.

I'm just saying...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Okay, I'm Back (Now Where Have We Heard That Before?)

Yeah, I know. I promised I'd blog on a regular basis, swore it actually, and since it's been a month since my last blog, I obviously (though unwittingly) lied and now I'm probably going to go directly to Hell when I die, and I won't pass GO, and I won't collect $200, and I'll probably wind up sharing a one-room twelfth-floor walk-up apartment with Dick Cheney or someone even more despicable, who'll probably eat nothing but steamed cabbage and fart a lot, and the apartment's one teeny tiny little window will probably face in the wrong direction and it won't even have a good view of the fiery sulphur pits of the Seventh Circle and I'll...oh, look! A Butterfly!

I'm sorry. Where was I?

Oh, right. I'm back.

Truth to tell, I started to write up a nifty blog entry right after I got home from the San Diego Comic-Con, but that entire week was so unspeakably wonderful and so utterly overwhelming that I just couldn't figure out where to start. I mean, seriously.

First, on the day before the Con, the good folks at WB Online Games finally announce that the Watchmen video game will be coming out around the same time as the blockbuster movie next March and that I'm the lucky sonuvagun who got to write the thing. Finally, after all those weeks of obligatory silence, I can tell the world what I've been doing for the past six months. I still can't talk details, but the game is gonna be cool. Trust me. Have I ever lied to you? I mean, aside from saying I was gonna blog regularly?

Then, on Thursday, the first actual day of the Con, the absurdly-handsome Hugh Jackman makes an unannounced appearance at the Fox Panel to show the trailer for the new Wolverine feature coming next May, and makes it a point, in front of 6500 people, to call me out and then jump down from the stage to shake my hand, telling all and sundry that this was the hand that had given him a career, leading to photos of the two of us together that appeared in nearly all the entertainment blogs and magazines. I mean, Jeez Louise, how the heck do you top that?

Well, I guess you top it the following night at the Annual Eisner Awards when I actually heaqr my name called to come on up and accept one of the blessed thingies and suddenly find myself inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame. Seriously, that's just wrong. I haven't been in this business anywhere near long enough to have made that kind of mark, and to find myself in such stellar company as those who've won the honor in the past? Clearly, I've got to be dreaming.

And that, Gentle Readers, is why I haven't blogged at all during the past month. Apparently, I've been having one hell of a dream and I really don't want to wake up.

You'll just have to forgive my snoring.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Blog Alert!

Did you know my dear friend, TV writer Gillian Horvath, has had her very own blog for several months now? I certainly didn't.

Because the cursed woman never tells me anything!

Seriously, it is, like Gillian herself, charming and entertaining. You can check it out here or by clicking on the newly-installed link to the right.

Drop on by over there and tell her I sent you.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Where I'll Be at San Diego Comic-Con

With the big extravaganza mere days away now, I thought I'd give both of you who're interested a quick heads-up as to when and where you'll be able to find me amongst the vast multitudes at the Con this coming week. The schedule still isn't final, but at the moment, it looks like this.


11AM to 12PM - Rumor has it I'll be signing autographs over at the DC Booth.

The rest of the day I've got pretty much to myself to see the con and visit other people's panels.


11:55AM to 1PM - I'm told I'll be at The Watchmen panel in Hall H. I may only be asked to wave at folks from the audience, but that's still where I'm likely to be. This is to some degree unfortunate, because it overlaps with:

12:30PM to 2PM - As quickly as possible after the Watchmen panel, I'll race over to join "That '70s Panel" in room 8, where I'll be joining moderator Mark Evanier (who worked with Jack "King" Kirby on DC’s "Fourth World" books in the ’70s) and Comic-Con special guests Mike W. Barr (Camelot 3000, Batman), Howard Chaykin (American Flagg!), Mike Grell (Warlord, Green Arrow), Paul Gulacy (Master of Kung Fu, Sabre), Jim Starlin (Dreadstar, Captain Marvel), Joe Staton (Green Lantern, E-Man) and Bernie Wrightson (Swamp Thing, Frankenstein) in a frank discussion of what the hell we were thinking when we did all that back then. Then immediately after that panel...

2PM to 3PM - I'll be signing autographs with many of the fine folks from the previous panel out at the autographing area under the sails.

5PM to 6PM - Rumor again has it that I'll be back at the DC Booth signing my little heart out.

8PM to 11PM - You'll find me at the annual Eisner Awards, where I am not only a presenter, but also a nominee this year. Come on by and wish me luck and, if you listen real close, you'll probably be able to hear my knees knocking.


11:15AM to 12:30PM - If you play your cards right, you should be able to catch me at the always well-attended "Quick Draw" panel, hosted by the above-mentioned Mark Evanier and starring quick-draw cartoonists extraordinaire Sergio Aragones, Scott Shaw! and Mike Peters. Wave as I go by.

1PM to 2PM - I'll be at the Shout! Factory booth (#3749) signing copies of the Swamp Thing DVD sets with the fine actor who portrayed Swampy in both TV and film, Dick Durock.

4:30PM to 5:20PM - I'll be back under the sails again, signing autographs until I have to leave for...

5:30PM to 6:30PM - The "Spotlight on Len Wein" panel to be held in room 8, where your humble blogger will be mercilessly cross-examined on his life and career by the apparently-omnipresent Mark Evanier.


1PM to 2PM - I expect to be doing my final signing at the DC Booth.

2:30PM to 4PM - You will find me in room 4, once again bravely leading a talented team of top professionals against a team of not-nearly-as-talented amateurs in the annual Pro/Fan Trivia Challenge. Come watch the Purple Pros, namely your humble blogger, ubergeek (and I mean that only in the most respectful way) and Boom! Studios' Editor-in-Chief Mark Waid, X-Men Animated writer Robert N. Skir and a top-secret guest panelist to be named probably minutes before the panel begins as we once again take on the fanboy Black Ink Irregulars in a to-the-death cage match that is certain to be whispered about for decades to come.

And that, at least at the moment, is my Comic-Con schedule for 2008. So, basically, if you've got something of mine you want autographed and it hasn't been signed by the end of the con, you have no one to blame but yourself.

See you on the con floor (possibly FLAT on the con floor by Sunday). We'll see.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tivo Alert!

Okay, while I'm busy breaking my arm patting myself on the back about the Entertainment Weekly mention and also talking about the forthcoming Dark Knight film (both of which I've done in the last few posts here), it occurs to me that I should probably also mention that those of you with DVRs or Tivo or any other sort of television-recording device might be inclined to set such mechanisms to record the History Channel tomorrow night, July 16th, at 9 PM for a one-hour special called Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of the Dark Knight. It's a Special/Documentary that will delve into the mind and the mythos behind everybody's favorite pointy-eared vigilante.

I mention this because rumor has it that I am one of the many who was interviewed for this special and, if you play your cards right, you might even be able to see my smiling face a time or two during the hour commenting on my relationship with the Batman as well as telling the story behind my creation of the Caped Crusader's mentor and tech wizard Lucius Fox, played so wonderfully in the bat-films by the incomparable Morgan Freeman. The show will be rerun a number of times over the next week, so if you miss Wednesday night, there will be several other opportunities to catch it.

And, if you like this special, then you'll certainly want to set your machine to record the follow-up special Batman Tech on the History Channel next Monday, July 21st, at 9 PM, which will discuss...well, pretty much what the title describes. I'm supposed to be on that special as well, so by the end of next weekend, between the two specials and all my appearances as a Special Guest at the San Diego Comic-Con, you'll all be pretty darned sick of looking at me.

Seriously though, if you do record the specials and I am on them as promised, drop me a line and let me know what you thought, wouldja? You know how insecure I am.

Check your local listings for correct time and channel.

Okay, I'm Blushing

Is it vainglorious of me to be pleased as the proverbial punch that, in last week's Entertainment Weekly, visionary film director Guillermo Del Toro (Chronos, Hellboy, the Oscar-winning Pan's Labyrinth, and the current mind-blowing Hellboy II: The Golden Army) listed as his number one influence in becoming a director the Swamp Thing comic run by the impossibly-talented Bernie Wrightson and your Humble Blogger, mentioning the two of us by name, even.

Well, is it?

A Semi-Urgent Call For Your Help

Hey, all. As many of you already know, for the past few decades, I've been Captain of the Pro team at the Pro/Fan Trivia Challenge that is held annually at the San Diego Comic-Con. I'll post my rather-busy schedule (since I'm a Special Guest this year) later this week once it's firmly settled, but in the meantime, I give to you the following plea from the Captain of the Fan team, the knowledgeable Tom Galloway, who wrote:
This year's San Diego Pro/Fan Trivia will have Len Wein, Mark Waid, Robert Skir, and an exciting mystery player yet to be named going up against Tom Galloway, Terence Chua, David Oakes, and John Sardegna, with the questions being asked by Peter David. We're still looking for questions for it, with this year's theme being "Young Heroes". Specifically, we're looking for questions about characters college-aged or below, from stories published from 1956-1986 (essentially the Silver Age and Pre-Crisis). For example, Superboy, Supergirl, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Robin, Teen Titans, Spider-Man, Human Torch, the original X-Men and Kitty Pryde, Rick Jones, etc.. For each Legion question you send, we request that you also send in at least one non-Legion question, as we don't want an excessively Legion dominated set of questions.

There are two types of questions in the match, toss-ups and bonuses. You should mark your questions with what type you think they are. Toss-ups can only be answered by individuals, while the full team can consult on the latter. The latter can thus (and should) be both harder and perhaps a bit more complex in terms of a correct answer. In general, questions requiring more than one answer ("Name seven of the villains who appeared in the story about Reed and Sue's wedding") should be bonuses, not toss-ups.

Ideally, I think 90% of toss-ups should be answered correctly, while around 50-70% of bonuses should.

Questions should not ask for issue numbers (they can be included in the question, but try for more descriptive set-ups than just "Who was the villain in Forbush-Man #3?") or creators. We're interested in story content. Also, unless it was fairly memorable, please don't write questions on the order of "In Superboy #158, Lex Luthor revealed a particular fondness for what Martian dessert?" where this was never mentioned again outside of that one panel.

For a record of 2003's match, including all questions and whether and who answered them correctly, see:

I'll just note that ones I think were probably too easy were Tossup #10, Bonus #11, and Bonus #13. Ones I think were probably too hard were Tossups 2, 8, and 20.

Finally, if possible, try to add a bit of style to the questions, so they're not of very basic forms like "What's the Top's real name?" "Who fought Forbush-Man in Forbush-Man #1?", etc. I like Tossups 3 and 14 from the 2003 match in this regard.

Questions should be sent to

The match'll be Sunday the 27th, 2:30, in Room 4.
And if you understood all of that, you should probably be on the team instead of me, Still, if there's any way for any of you Gentle Readers out there to lend us a hand, 'twould be more than appreciated, 'twould be a downright blessing.

Thanks in advance for being as geeky as we are.

Monday, July 14, 2008

How the World Has Changed

Once upon a time, back before the invention of either fire or the sandwich, if a movie studio wanted to promote its upcoming releases, there were really very few avenues through which to do it.

There were, of course, those wonderfully cheesy trailers that would run in the theaters themselves: "SEE Clark Cable burn down Atlanta all by his lonesome! HEAR Ethel Merman make all the dogs within a thousand mile radius howl in despair! WITNESS a spectacle the likes of which you have never seen since the last time you saw a spectacle like this! BEHOLD Bette Davis' eyes, Betty Grable's legs, Betty Bacall's basso profundo voice, and Betty Boop's breathtaking boo-boop-be-doop! SEE 'The Attack of the Rutabagas That Want to Sell You Amway Products' next week in this very theatre!"

God, I miss those old-fashioned promos! >sigh< But I digress.

There were also billboards to promote the film, sometimes stunning posters on the walls of construction sites or on the sides of bus stations, newspaper ads and, I suppose, radio spots (though I really don't recall hearing about too many of those).

Then came television and the rise of the talk show and suddenly you would find the stars of upcoming features making the rounds of Johnny Carson and Merv Griffin and Arsenio Hall and their now seemingly infinite successors to chat about behind-the-scenes happenings on the set and the truly wonderful time you were going to have when you raced to the theater to see their new films. It's almost gotten to be predictable. If you see Orlando Bloom on with Regis and Kelly in the early morning to promote Pirates of the Caribbean IV: We'll Keep Making Them as Long as you Keep Paying to See Them, you're not likely to lose money by betting that you'll be seeing him on The View, then David Letterman, then Conan O'Brien, pretty much in that order, all in the same day, followed by appearances on Ellen DeGeneres, Jay Leno, then Craig Ferguson on the opposite coast the next day. If it's the right kind of movie, the stars may well also show up to chat with Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and even possibly Keith Olbermann along the way. Frankly, the ones who really impress me are the ones who do Regis in the morning, then Leno that same night since the shows are shot 3000 miles apart. Hell, I suppose if you're Mike Meyers or Adam Sandler and you think it'll get a dozen extra tushes into the seats, you might even show up on Sunrise Sermonette. (Is that even still on?)

Movie promotion has taken off in extraordinary ways. These days, it isn't surprising to see entire city buses given over to selling some new film with advertising that literally covers the bus. I particularly liked the buses that sold Horton Hears a Who recently, with an image of a giant Horton apparently crushing the poor bus, and I still talk about the black-and-white banner ad that ran along the sides of local buses a year or two back that said simply, "YIPPEEKIYAY, MO--" and the words JOHN 6:13 down in the corner as a way of promoting the then-upcoming Live Free or Die Hard.

Then, of course, Al Gore (as some less-than-sincere pundits would have us believe) invented the Internet a while back, and promotion became a whole new ballgame. Now, with the help of my friend Harry Knowles, head honcho of, and heaven alone knows how many others, the era of guerrilla advertising is upon us.

For months now, I've been receiving regular emails from such sites as, which allowed me to follow the race for Gotham City District Attorney and even download bumper stickers and buttons in support of Harvey, and, which kept me apprised of The Joker's various insane doings. And now, on the eve of the much-anticipated release of The Dark Knight, I must commend you all to, and in particular the several episodes of the news program Gotham Tonight which gives you a whole lot of back story that plays directly into the film itself. It's film promotion of the highest order, and is absolutely well worth your valuable time. Trust me, this film is complex on levels you will not believe.

The future of movie advertising is here, people, and, sweet chuckling Jesus, is it fun.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

He's Everywhere, He's Everywhere

Faithful fan Ken Hommel, the manager of program scheduling for NBC Universal, wrote to alert me to the following, and I thought I ought to share that same info with all you Gentle Readers out there in Blogland.
I wanted to let you know that the early Swamp Thing series episodes from 1990 will be airing as a two hour movie on CHILLER beginning this Friday night. Later episodes are also airing on! CHILLER is one of the NBC Universal Emerging Networks primarily airing on DirecTV and Dish Network so far. I don't know if the episodes were stitched together for the USA premiere or for foreign use, but when it became available, I thought it was a great addition to our "Summer Camp" Friday movie line-up!
Wow! Thanks, Ken. Add that to the fact that the first two seasons of the Swamp Thing series are already available on DVD (with a special interview with your humble blogger included) and the third season of the series is set to drop this coming Tuesday, July 15, its seems like you can't turn around these days without stumbling over everyone's favorite muck-encrusted mockery of a man. I have neither DirecTV nor Dish Network but here's a heads up for those of you who do.

Check it out if you get the chance and let me know what you think, okay?

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

Well, I'm finally back from the better part of a week in wonderful Minneapolis, where I attended once again one of the best conventions I've ever been to, CONvergence. It's a convention put on by dedicated people who go to extraordinary lengths simply to put on a convention that everyone will enjoy. And, boy howdy, did we ever enjoy it. I would like to extend a special thank-you to my official Con liaison, Mark Tempel, and his lovely wife, Mandy, as well as to Jody, Anton, Melissa, and all the rest of the fine folks whose only goal, it seems, was to make sure everybody at CONvergence was having as good a time as they were.

Next year, the con will be held, as usual, over the July 4th weekend. If you've got nothing else planned -- and, frankly, even if you do -- I cannot suggest more strongly that you spend the weekend at CONvergence. Trust me, you'll be glad you did.

As ever, my buddy Mark Evanier has all sorts of posts and videos and Lord knows what else from the con up on his blog. Go click on the link to Mark's blog at the right and you'll get only the slightest taste of the merriment awaiting you.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Beware! Dr. Horrible is Coming!

Joss Whedon, writer/creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly/Serenity, and the upcoming Dollhouse, to whom I owe no insubstantial debt for resurrecting my beloved X-Man Colossus and whom Chris Claremont may never forgive for writing out Kitty Pryde, has a new project in the works that...

Well, here. I'll let Joss explain it to you himself:
Dear Friends,

At last the time has come to reveal to you our Master Plan. BEWARE! Those with weak hearts should log off lest they be terrified by the twisted genius of our schemes! Also pregnant women and the elderly should consider reading only certain sentences. Do not mix with other blogs. Do not operate heavy machinery while reading this blog. You must be this tall to read. ‘Kay?

It is time for us to change the face of Show Business as we know it. You know the old adage, “It’s Show Business – not Show Friends”? Well now it’s Show Friends. We did that. To Show Business. To show Show Business we mean business. (Also, there are now other businesses like it.)


"Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog" will be streamed, LIVE (that part’s not true), FREE (sadly, that part is) right on, in mid-July. Specifically:

ACT ONE (Wheee!) will go up Tuesday July 15th.

ACT TWO (OMG!) will go up Thursday July 17th.

ACT THREE (Denouement!) will go up Saturday July 19th.

All acts will stay up until midnight Sunday July 20th. Then they will vanish into the night, like a phantom (but not THE Phantom – that’s still playing. Like, everywhere.)

And now to answers a few Frequently (soon to be) Asked Questions:

1) Why, Joss? Why? Why now, why free, why us?

Once upon a time, all the writers in the forest got very mad with the Forest Kings and declared a work-stoppage. The forest creatures were all sad; the mushrooms did not dance, the elderberries gave no juice for the festival wines, and the Teamsters were kinda pissed. (They were very polite about it, though.) During this work-stoppage, many writers tried to form partnerships for outside funding to create new work that circumvented the Forest King system.

Frustrated with the lack of movement on that front, I finally decided to do something very ambitious, very exciting, very mid-life-crisisy. Aided only by everyone I had worked with, was related to or had ever met, I single-handedly created this unique little epic. A supervillain musical, of which, as we all know, there are far too few.

The idea was to make it on the fly, on the cheap – but to make it. To turn out a really thrilling, professionalish piece of entertainment specifically for the internet. To show how much could be done with very little. To show the world there is another way. To give the public (and in particular you guys) something for all your support and patience. And to make a lot of silly jokes. Actually, that sentence probably should have come first.

2) What happens when it goes away? Does it go to a happy farm for always like Fluffy did when mommy was crying and the neighbor kept washing his fender?

No, Dr horrible will live on. We intend to make it available for download soon after it’s published. This would be for a nominal fee, which we’re hoping people will embrace instead of getting all piratey. We have big dreams, people, and one of them is paying our crew.

And somewhat later, we will put the complete short epic out on DVD – with the finest and bravest extras in all the land. We’ll go into greater detail about that at Comiccon, but we’re changing the face of Show Friendliness a second time with that crazy DVD.

3) Joss, you are so kind, and generous, and your forehead is like, huge, like SCARY, like I think I can see Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint hanging off it… what can WE do to help this musical extravanganza?

What you always do, peeps! What you’re already doing. Spread the word. Rock some banners, widgets, diggs… let people know who wouldn’t ordinarily know. It wouldn’t hurt if this really was an event. Good for the business, good for the community – communitIES: Hollywood, internet, artists around the world, comic-book fans, musical fans (and even the rather vocal community of people who hate both but will still dig on this). Proving we can turn Dr Horrible into a viable economic proposition as well as an awesome goof will only inspire more people to lay themselves out in the same way. It’s time for the dissemination of the artistic process. Create more for less. You are the ones that can make that happen.

Wow. I had no idea how important you guys were. I’m a little afraid of you.

4) Joss, do you ever answer a question simply or coherently?


There’ll be more questions, and more long, long answers, but for now I’m just excited that we’re actually making this happen. We (and a lot of other people -- gushing to commence soon) worked very hard on the show and we hope/think you guys will be pleased. Until July 15th , I remain, yours truly, -j, of the firm j, j, m & z.

[ edited by joss on 2008-06-28 12:56 ]
To those few of you who might yet need to know more, I commend the following video...

Teaser from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog on Vimeo.

Both of you who still aren't convinced can click here to get the rest.

I don't know about the rest of you but, musical lover that I am, I can't wait for July 15th.

Friday, June 27, 2008

On the Road Again

This is just a quick note to remind all and sundry that your humble blogger will be one of the Guests of Honor over July 4th weekend at the wonderful CONvergence to be held just outside of Minneapolis from the 3rd to the 6th. I'll be joined there by such stalwarts as Swamp Thing co-creator Bernie Wrightson, the incomparable Marv Wolfman, Groo the Wanderer and Garfield's own Mark Evanier, Gargoyles creator Greg Weisman, noted Science Fiction authors David Weber, Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon and Eric Flint, as well as Ain't It Cool News?'s own Harry Knowles, among many others.

Having had the enormous honor and extraordinary good luck to have been a guest at CONvergence back in 2005, I can tell you without hesitation that it is by far one of the best times I've ever had a convention since I helped to throw the very first New York ComiCon way back in the early Jurassic era. So, if you're in the area over the weekend and have any books you want signed or just feel like saying howdy, drop on by.

For more information, just check out this link. Who says this isn't a full-service blog?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Our Snickerdoodle Destiny

Okay, I know a few of you Gentle Readers out there were a tinch perturbed by my previous posting. But here's a political point of view by one of the most legendary pundits of the day that I challenge even the most hardhearted among you out there to take issue with.

Go ahead. Try. I dare you.

Monday, June 16, 2008

This Pretty Much Speaks For Itself

As I've mentioned here a time or two before, I'm not a very political creature by nature, but this one struck enough raw nerves to warrant inclusion.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sure Good Eatin'

For those of you out there interested in food (and, let's face it, with the possible exception of certain supermodels and some obstinate three-year-olds, who among us isn't?), my lovely wife Christine has started a new blog on the subject of eating and its usual precursor cooking. It's called Into The Kitchen and it can be found at this new location right here. There will be recipes, reviews, and anecdotes galore provided, and a good time is guaranteed for all. Drop on by and check it out when you get a chance and tell her your humble blogger sent ya.

Oh, BTW, for those of you counting such things, that now makes three blogs for my Best Beloved, compared to my one, all of which are updated far more often than I ever seem to be able to get around to here. Frankly, I think this is all just some sort of sinister plan on her part to guilt me into posting more often.

Women! Can't live with 'em, can't outblog 'em.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Yes, I'm Still Alive. Thanks For Asking.

Well, one of the things I've learned since starting this blog is how it utterly changes your relationship with the world around you and your friends at large.

In the old days, if I was under a really tight deadline or just wasn't feeling terribly social for whatever reason or had been snowed in to the rafters, with the house surrounded by ravenous wolves, I could just vanish into the woodwork for a time to pop my head back up, groundhog-like, when circumstances had changed for the better. Now that I have this here blog, if I should fail to post anything new for a few days (or, okay, I'll admit it, a whole month this time), many of you Gentle Readers out there start writing in, concerned about my general well being, afraid that I may have somehow contracted Death Cooties or the like and am sprawled senseless beneath my desk, unable to gasp for help.

If it sounds like I'm complaining, I'm not. In point of fact, I find it extraordinarily comforting to know that, should my lovely wife Christine ever be out of town for an extended period, and if I were to contract Death Cooties while she was gone, there are so many of you out there who would notice my absence. Not that you could do anything about it, of course.

I mean, really, Death Cooties are incredibly contagious, and you'd have to break into my house past my state-of-the-art security system just to check if I was under my desk, and most of you don't even live locally to begin with, so you'd have to drive here all the way from wherever or buy airline tickets and then go through hours of aggravation with stupid airport security just to get on the plane, and by then, by the time you finally got here, I'd probably already be dead of the Cooties anyway.

But thanks for the thought.

The truth of the matter is that I really have been under a tight deadline for the past month. I'm in the final stretch of writing an incredibly cool video game that I really wish I could tell you all about, but promise I will once I'm legally able to. I've also been spending a lot of time dealing with the declining health of my beloved old Golden Retriever Muffin, about whom I've written here a time or two before. At the age of thirteen-and-a-half, rather old for a dog her size, she's become somewhat senile, extremely arthritic, and occasionally incontinent, a horrible hat trick for such a sweet-hearted friend. So I give her her medicines, scratch her loving head, and keep a watchful eye on her, hoping for the best as time goes by.

I have made the time over the past month to catch all of the new summer blockbuster movies (with the singular exception of Sex and the City, since I never watched the series) and I'll try to post my opinions of same over the next few days, should any of you out there actually care what I have to think about them. The lovely wife and I also caught a test screening last night of the new Viggo Mortensen/Ed Harris/Renee Zellwegger western Appaloosa, which Christine covers in more detail over on her own entertaining blog which can be read by clicking on the appropriate link to the right.

Beyond that, I'll try to show up here more regularly, if for no other reason than to relieve your collective concerns. Yes, I know I've promised that in the past, but good intentions have got to count for something.

Oh, and if it'll make you all sleep any easier, just yesterday I got inoculated against Death Cooties, so now all we have to worry about are the ravenous wolves.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Help! Help! Oh, Help!

Okay, all you electo-mavens out there. My beloved Palm Tungsten T5 is making my life a living hell. For some inexplicable reason, my screen no longer responds to the stylus. I can maneuver around the screen by pressing the buttons on the bottom of the PDA, but when I touch the stylus to the pressure-sensitive screen to input data, or highlight something or whatever, nada. No response. No reaction. Now, I've already tried resetting it repeatedly to no avail, and I've cleaned under the rim of the screen with a business card in case something was pressing on the screen under there. Again, no reaction.

So, please, if one of you out there has any idea how to fix this sucker so I don't have to buy myself a new one, please let me know ASAP. I'm tearing out what little hair I have left.

Thanks in advance for whatever help you can give.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

You'll Get a Bang Out of This

Okay, I'll admit that this one is pretty much mostly for me and my lovely wife Christine. Our favorite new sitcom of this season -- and, frankly, of the last several seasons -- is the wonderfully written and acted Big Bang Theory, which airs Monday nights on CBS. Christine has an interesting post about this week's episode over at her charming blog, which can be accessed by clicking on it over at the right.

But one of our favorite parts of the show is the incredible theme song sung at the top of each episode by the rock group Barenaked Ladies. We happily sing along and then find the song stuck in our heads for the rest of the week. Now it's my turn to stick the song in your heads, gentle readers.

Tag! You're it!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Where I'll Be

Having just come back from a wonderful convention in Memphis, it occurs to me that it might be wise to mention where I'll be heading over the next several months so that any of you who might chance to be in whatever given area I happen to be at the time can stop on by to get autographs or just chat. And isn't that the most convoluted sentence of recent memory? It's frankly amazing to me that a person who purports to earn his living through his command of the English language could actually write a sentence like that.

But I digress.

Anyway, next Thursday I'll be winging my way back east to attend the annual New York City Comic-Con over the weekend of April 18-20. I know I'm on a Steve Gerber Memorial Panel Saturday at 11AM with my good friends Mark Evanier and Gail Simone among others, so you can catch me there for sure. Beyond that, my NYC convention plans are really rather vague, but I do expect to be around the con floor for most of the weekend, so do try to track me down and say hi.

The Monday right after the con, April 21st, at 8PM, I'll be in NYC downtown at the Barrow Street Theater doing that thing I think I enjoy most of all: appearing as a panelist once again on my beloved What's My Line? - Live on Stage. The incredibly talented Mssrs. J. Keith van Straaten and Jim Newman have brought the show east for six weeks this spring, having started on Monday March 24th and running through Monday April 28th. And what amazes me most is that they've somehow managed to transport many of the regular panel members east with them. So far LA regular panelists Barry Saltzman, Frank DeCaro, Paul Doherty and Kitty Felde have all made appearances on the NYC show, with Cynthia Szigeti, Andy Zax, Mink Stole and your humble blogger all still to come. NYC mystery guests to date have included Cheers' own George Wendt (currently starring on Broadway in Hairspray), music legend Moby, and Woody Allen repertory regular Tony Roberts (currently lighting up the Great White Way in Xanadu). You can check out how to get tickets by clicking here and I hope to see all of my New York friends in the audience in two weeks. I've blogged about this show frequently and it has lost none of its energy or humor or charm in the cross-country move. Honestly, you will hate yourself if you miss it.

Over the July 4th weekend, from July 3-6 to be specific, your humble blogger, in the fine company of Marv Wolfman, Bernie Wrightson and the aforementioned Mark Evanier, among many others, will be up in Minneapolis for the 10th Annual CONvergence. Marv and I attended CONvergence 7 and had one of the best times ever, so with this new con being a day longer, we expect to have at least 25% more fun. If you'd like to learn more about attending this fine show, you can click here for all the necessary info.

A few weeks after that, from July 23-27 to be exact, I will once again be attending the 39th Annual San Diego Comic-Con, along with roughly the entire population of Norman, Oklahoma. This year I've been invited to be a Special Guest of the Con, so I imagine I'll have a number of scheduled panels and autograph sessions, more about which I'll let you know as we get closer to the actual event. As I've mentioned here before, I've been fortunate enough to be nominated for an Eisner Award this year in the category of Hall of Fame, so I can pretty much guarantee I'll be at the Awards ceremony, if nowhere else.

And lastly, at least for the moment, I've just been invited to be a guest the weekend of October 3-5 at the 28th Annual Mid-Ohio-Con to be held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, so you can look for me there. Again, I'll give you all more details as I get them.

So, I suppose the biggest question left me at the moment is, with all of this cockamamie traveling on my agenda for the year, how the heck am I supposed to get any work done?

See you all on the road, I hope.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Levitz is Listening

Well, here's an enthusiastic "Welcome aboard!" and a deeply-concerned "Are you out of your ever-lovin' mind?" to my dear old friend DC Comics President and Publisher Paul Levitz, who has begun blogging about the comics biz occasionally over at You can read Paul's latest post here and then check back over there weekly for more updates.

If there's anyone who knows more about the comic book business than Paul, I don't know who it is (but then I don't know the square root of pi either, which says something about me, I suppose, but I digress), so his column should be well worth your time.

Drop by over there when you get a chance, won't you? Oh, and be sure to tell Paul I sent you.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Thank Yuh. Thank Yuh Vury Much.

Well, here's a huge tip of the hat and an incredibly fond thank you to Carlin Stuart, Sylvia Cox, Eddy Zeno and all those other fine folks who ran the 26th annual MidSouthCon in Memphis, Tennessee, this past weekend and who made your humble blogger's stint there as Comics Guest of Honor a blast-and-a-half. I almost literally had more fun there than a human being should be allowed to have.

Got into Memphis on Thursday evening and, after checking into our hotel, I was promptly taken out for authentic Memphis BBQ by Carlin, his lovely wife Renee, their infant daughter Ginger (well, okay, so Ginger was taken along, too), Eddy Zeno and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic writer John Jackson Miller. They took me to a nifty little hole-in-the-wall joint called the Germantown Commissary, where the food was absolutely fabulous and got me right into the mood of being in the heart of BBQ country.

Since the convention didn't officially start until Friday evening, on Friday morning I kindly coerced poor Carlin into taking me to Graceland, home of the King himself, Elvis Presley. I'll admit it, it was a completely touristy thing to do, and I couldn't have enjoyed it more. The grounds of Graceland are sprawling and spacious, but the house itself is relatively modest in size by comparison. It felt a little strange to be walking through someone else's home without the owner being present (at least not in anything but spirit), but there was a recorded tour that helped us along and I took dozens of photos. Across the street from the house is a complex housing Elvis's car collection and a number of other exhibits, all of which, remarkably enough, let you out in yet another souvenir shop, on the off-chance you might have managed to somehow miss any of the several dozen other gift shops on the premises. Still, I had a really good time and I'm glad I went, dragging poor Carlin along behind me.

The convention itself was laid back and great fun. Attendance was somewhere about 1100 people, which is a nice-sized convention and an easily manageable number. The writer Guest of Honor was Eric Flint, the Science Guest of Honor was author/editor Ben Bova, the Artist Guest of Honor was the Hugo-winning Bob Eggleston, and the Media Guest of Honor was entertainment reporter and fantasy author Candace Havens. There were many other writers and artists at the con, too numerous to mention here, but they all contributed greatly to the overall experience.

On Sunday evening, after the guests were once more treated to dinner at the Three Little Pigs BBQ, my good friends Lin Workman, co-creator of the wonderful Bushi Tales comic, Kevin Williams, puppeteer supreme creator of the delightful Muley, interviewer extraordinaire Eddy Zeno and I wandered away from the crowd to do something I haven't done in years, and may not do again any time soon. We went bowling. Trust me on this, Barak Obama has nothing to fear from me on the bowling lanes. Truth to tell, I think Helen Keller was probably a better bowler than I am. My muscles ache in places I didn't even know I had places.

Still, MidSouthCon 26 stands as one of the more entertaining cons I've attended of late, and I highly recommend the next one to anyone who might be inclined to go. I hear tell they'd love to have some guy named Kurt Busiek as their comics guest next year, but don't know how to get in touch with him.

Gee, I wonder who I know who might be willing to serve as a go-between?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I'm Walkin' in Memphis

Hey, all. Just a quick note to let everybody know that I'm going to be the Comics Guest of Honor this weekend at MidSouthCon 26 to be held in Memphis, Tennessee. Details about attending can be found here. I've never been to Memphis before, so I'm looking forward to experiencing Beale Street and Graceland and hopefully meeting some of you.

If you happen to be at the con this weekend, make it a point to find me and say hi, okay? I'll be looking for you.

Monday, March 24, 2008

It's an Honor Just to be Nominated

Wow. Imagine my surprise when I awoke this past weekend to discover that I have been nominated for my first ever Eisner Award. The Eisner Awards are, I suppose, the comics industry equivalent to the Motion Picture Academy's Oscar, and they are given out each year at the San Diego Comic-Con, which will be held this year from July 23-27. If you're planning to go to the Con, you have to register online (admissions are no longer sold at the door) and you can find out everything you need to know about that here.

What fascinates (and, I must admit, terrifies) me most about my nomination is that I'm nominated for the Hall of Fame, which either means that I'm being recognized for my considerable body of work over the years, or my career is officially over. I'm frankly not sure which.

By what may or may not be an odd coincidence, my 40th anniversary as a professional writer is this Friday, March 28th. Four decades ago on that date, I sold my first story to DC's House of Mystery title, a still-(thankfully)-unpublished little opus called "The Final Day of Nicholas Toombs."

Now I don't really expect to win the award, mind you. My considerable competition in the category this year includes classic Golden Age artist Matt Baker, legendary Green Lantern and Flash writer John Broome, Blackhawk artist Reed Crandall, Katzenjammer Kids creator Rudolph Dirks, Doom Patrol and Deadman writer/creator Arnold Drake, Terry and the Pirates illustrator George Evans, writer/artist of the newspaper strip David Crane (and the man who drew the cover to Detective Comics #1, fer pete's sake) Creig Flessel, EC artist "Ghastly" Graham Ingels, Vigilante artist Mort Meskin, Miss Fury creator/artist Tarpe Mills, The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers own Gilbert Shelton, Marvel master artist George Tuska, longtime Superman editor Mort Weisinger, and Conan the Barbarian's own Barry Windsor-Smith. Not a bad company to be counted among, I must admit.

If you're a comics professional or retailer and are interested in voting for the award, the polls are open until April 18th, and voting can be done online by clicking here. Regardless of the outcome, I truly am thrilled to have been thought of and remembered. Thanks to all who nominated me.

See ya at the Awards ceremony in July. I'll be the one with the silly grin pasted on my face.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring is Sprung!

At some moment this morning, when we least expected it, it became Spring once more. Instantly, grass began growing, birds began singing, flowers began blooming. Windows were flung open to let in the crisp new air and a great Huzzah was heard from the grateful gathering masses. One would think such a bright and eager omen would mean that the long, dark Winter of our discontent was at long last over.

Yes, one would certainly think so, wouldn't one?

Friday, March 14, 2008 MAN!

And while we're on the subject of characters I've written a time or two in my career, here's the most recent Iron Man trailer. I don't know about anyone else but based on this, it looks to be about as close an adaptation to the original book as anything I've ever seen. We've got about six weeks or so until it opens and, frankly, I'm counting the minutes. Could there be a better Tony Stark than Robert Downey Jr.? Your humble blogger doesn't think so. Enjoy.

Hulk Trailer Smash!

Since I wrote the big green galoot for more than four years, I figure the least I can do is share the trailer for this summer's new blockbuster movie with those of you who might not have seen it yet. Thus...

I think it looks pretty cool.What do all of you think?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Shameless Self-Promotion Meets Frankenstein

Well, since my comp copies of Showcase Presents The Phantom Stranger Vol. 2 just arrived via FedEx, I guess it's safe to assume that the book will indeed be on the stands this coming Wednesday, March 12th, as promised. This volume includes the second half of my run of the title, a run which not only helped to establish my reputation in the comic book biz, but also (or so he has so often told me) helped inspire a young Neil Gaiman to decide to become a writer as well. It also includes my Justice League of America issue which guest-starred the Phantom Stranger, a couple of Brave and Bold issues that guest-starred PS, and a lot of terrific work by the always-underestimated Jim Aparo, as well as contributions by such stalwarts as Marv Wolfman, Michael Kaluta, Arnold Drake, Gerry Talaoc, Ross Andru, Paul Levitz, and the proverbial host of others.

If you hang on till Wednesday, you can pick up the book at your local comics shop, but if you don't want to wait, and you'd like to save yourself a few bucks in the bargain, you might just want to click on the link to the right of this column, and order it from there. You can also pick up the first Showcase Phantom Stranger volume there as well, if you happened to have missed it. As I've mentioned here before, if you go through my link, Amazon will send me (literally) a few pennies from your sale, which helps to defray the cost of the time it takes me to maintain this here blog. The same goes for anything else you might ever want to order through Amazon; use my link and I'll see a taste of your sale.

Thanks in advance for your generosity, and do drop me a line next week to let me know what you think of the stories. I've been told they're seminal, which still sounds somehow dirty to me.

Monday, March 3, 2008

And We Have A Winner!

A few days back, here at the ol' blog, I asked the collective Uni-Mind if anyone recognized the music playing behind the current TV ads for the new film The Other Boleyn Girl. I received a number of earnest and eager replies, none of which gave me precisely the information I needed.

Until now.

Gentle Reader Dave Potts directed me to the message board of my old buddy, Black Lightning creator Tony Isabella, who rightly noticed that the aforementioned music I was wondering about is, in fact, the theme song to one of my favorite series, Cold Case. That explains why the music was stuck in my head. It does not, however, explain why I failed to recognize it. Let's just chalk it up to one of those so-called "Senior Moments" I seem to be having more and more often lately.

Now, if someone could just explain to me why dropped bread always lands butter-side-down, maybe we could sleep a little more soundly.

Excuse Me, Could You Please Repeat That?

Okay, I've got just two things to say about the following video. One, I just absolutely LOVE Pinky and the Brain and this is one of the major reasons why. Two, whatever they paid the voice actors for this, it wasn't nowhere nearly enough.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Question For The Uni-Mind

One of the coolest aspects of having a blog, I've learned, is the ability to ask a question about something that's bothering you, then send it out into the ether, and get an almost immediate response from a wide range of knowledgeable, learned people. My good friend Mark Evanier makes use of this ability often on his incredibly entertaining blog, and I've done it a time or two myself here. (Thanks for all that info on razor blades, BTW, gang.) So here's today's nagging question...

There is a trailer currently running all over television, promoting the new film The Other Boleyn Girl. This afternoon, I was more listening to the trailer than really watching it when I suddenly realized that the music playing in the background of the ad is the theme song to a current or very recent TV show. The music goes sort of like...

Ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-da-da-da-dum. Ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-da-da-da-dum. Ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-da-da-da-dum...DOINK!

Of course, it sounds a whole lot better if you actually hear it. If you do hear it, and if you recognize which show the song comes from, could you drop us a line here at the old blog? Having that stupid song going through my head over and over again is driving your humble blogger out of his everlovin' mind.

Thanks in advance for saving what little remains of our sanity.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

This Shouldn't Bother Me But...

It's three days later, and this is still sticking in my craw. Basically, what happened was this...

Monday, my good buddy Bob Skir and I stopped for lunch over at the Sherman Oaks Galleria branch of the Fuddruckers hamburger chain for a quick lunch. Deciding I wanted something other than a burger for a change, I studied the huge menu on the wall behind the counter and decided to order the Chicken Tenders platter which included (according to the menu) a bunch of Chicken Tenders (always preferred to the Chicken Toughs) and two side dishes. The price (again, according to the wall menu) was $7.99. So the perky young woman behind the counter asks for my order, I order the Chicken Tenders platter with onion rings and baked beans as my two side dishes (Hey, I said I didn't want a burger, I never said I wanted to eat healthy) and the young woman rings it up and tells me my bill comes to $9.73.

Now, I'm no math whiz, but even I know that the California State 8.25% Sales Tax doesn't bring the total up to over nine bucks. I mention this to the young lady and she explains that, no, the Chicken Tenders platter isn't $7.99, it's actually $8.99. I point to the menu behind her and point out that the posted price is $7.99 and, by law, they have to sell the item for the price listed. She, in turn, asks me if I'd like to speak to her manager. I tell her, you bet I do.

So over comes the manager, a somewhat older woman in her mid-thirties, and we go over the whole thing again. She explains that, yes, indeed, the basic platter price is $7.99, but it costs fifty cents each for each additional side, bringing the total to $8.99. Totally confused now, I mumble something about that still not seeming right, but since Bob and I are up against the clock, trying to make an afternoon movie, I just fork over ten bucks, collect my change, and go sit down to await my meal.

While sitting there with Bob, I recount what I just told you and he says that doesn't sound right to him either. Bob goes over, checks the menu, and comes back to tell me that, no, the menu specifically states that a platter is a main dish and two side dishes. Anything more than that is an additional fifty cents.

Really getting annoyed now, I decide to go talk to the manager again, and turn just in time to see her leaving the restaurant, purse in hand (obviously on her way to lunch at some establishment that doesn't rip you off), leaving me to stew in my own juices (which, frankly, probably makes me tastier in the long run than the meal I finally had).

So there you have it. For the sake of a buck, Fuddruckers has forever lost both my considerable good will and my ongoing custom. Seems like a pretty bad deal over all, don'cha think?

This has been another exciting WeinWords consumer warning public service announcement.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Penny Wise

For as long as I've lived out here in Southern California, I've frequented a retail chain called the 99¢ Stores. They proudly advertise that nothing in the store ever costs more than 99¢. Ever. In fact, one of the things I always found most comforting about the 99¢ Store was its consistency. Most items were indeed 99¢, the remaining items were sold in increments that added up to 99¢. So a dozen eggs, for example, was 99¢. So was a six-pack of Shasta Cola. Bottles of Hydrogen Peroxide were two for 99¢, a vast assortment of candy bars were three for 99¢, and so on.

Some of my fondest afternoons have been spent cruising up and down the myriad aisles of the 99¢ Store with my bosom buddy Harlan Ellison, picking up various items from the shelves and loudly querying one another as to what the price of such items might be and constantly being astonished by the inevitable answer. (Well, Harlan finds it funny. But then Harlan is also fascinated by bright, shiny baubles and cheese.)

So imagine my horror when I dropped into the store this week to discover that this country's undeclared recession has finally reached my beloved 99¢ Store as well. Suddenly, it's now a half-dozen eggs for 99¢. Four cans of Shasta Cola for 99¢. Bottles of Hydrogen Peroxide are now 59¢ apiece. And candy bars are now 39¢ each. Granted, much of the merchandise available in the store remains unchanged. A big box of Sun-maid Raisins or smaller six-pack of Sun-maid Raisins are still 99¢, for instance. Most of the plates and glasses and tools and generic drugs and socks and toys and whatever are still 99¢ but the automatic comfort level is gone. No longer can I just pop into the store and pick up a six-pack of soda and three candy bars and a roll of duct tape and a dish towel and a new dog food bowl and think to myself, "Well, that's a quick five dollars plus tax." Now I actually have to do math.

Did I ever happen to mention just how much I hate math? Thanks a bundle, George W. Bush!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Open For Business

Should any of you Gentle Readers ever chance to Google me (and if you do, it usually helps to buy me dinner and a couple of drinks first), you'll discover over a hundred thousand hits to my name. Now, while many of these will take you to a variety of articles about or interviews by your humble blogger, an astonishing number of them will link you to a famous quote of mine. That quote is:

"A true friend is someone who is there for you when they would rather be anywhere else."

It's a quote that first appeared a number of years ago in Reader's Digest magazine and has since shown up on literally thousands of websites, on various pocket calendars and, to my utter astonishment, several years back on a bumper sticker available for sale online. None of which was perpetuated by me.

Earlier this week, an old friend of mine started a new page over on MySpace and, I was quite honored to discover, had listed me as one of her heroes. Looking at my name, I suddenly noticed that it was click-on-able (which is now officially a word) so I did so and saw that I was also listed on several hundred other MySpace pages. About half of the pages listed me as a hero or a favorite writer or someone they wanted to meet. The other half (you guessed it) all referenced my quote.

So I thought about this for a few days and, flashing back to that bumper sticker someone was selling years ago, decided that if my quote had affected so many people so deeply, perhaps it would be wise of me to make it available to them in a more permanent form.

Thus it is, with no small amount of trepidation and a great deal of pride, I present to you Len Wein's Weinworks, a new online store designed to sell that quote (and more cool thoughts in the future) adorning all sorts of fine clothing and other giftworthy items. Just click here to go to the store and see what I'm talking about. Eventually, when this post finally scrolls off the page, you'll be able to click on the link to the right of the page to get there.

But, for now, go take a look and tell me what you think. Remember, we're only a few months away from Arbor Day, and you know what a gift-giving frenzy that is.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Little Help Maybe?

For years now, I've been shaving with Wilkinson Sword razor blades, most recently their twin-blade Protector series. So imagine my horror and chagrin when I got down to my last package of carefully-horded blades, only to discover that Wilkinson Sword razors no longer appear to be sold anywhere in the USA. Thus, to my Gentle Readers north of the border up in Canada or across the wide Atlantic in Great Britain, I humbly ask:

Do they still sell Wilkinson Sword where you are, and if they do, might it be possible for me to advance you the money to purchase a bunch of blades and then send them to me? If so, please drop me a line here and let me know.

Now that the Writers' Strike is over, thank Heaven, I really need to trim my strike beard.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Indiana Jones Trailer

Okay, let's be honest. You know you've been waiting for this every bit as eagerly as I have. So here it is. Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Giving Help Where One Can

Just got the following missive from novelist/mensch Clifford Meth. Cliff was the person principally responsible for seeing to it that my old friend Dave Cockrum got some sort of financial recognition for his co-creation of many of the new X-Men before he passed away last year.
Interested in owning some of Dave Cockrum's personal comics collection and helping his widow Paty at the same time? Dave's entire collection -- Golden and Silver Age books as well as his X-Men file copies -- are becoming available, a few dozen at a time. The details can be found here.
Obviously, if there's anything you can do to lend a hand, I urge you to do so. This industry still owes Dave a debt it can never fully repay.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Marketing Savvy

Okay, we both know you've probably watched as much TV as I have and listened to as much radio and read as many magazines and seen as many billboards, right? And what do all those mediums have in common? Right again. They're all supported by advertising. So, after a lifetime of logos and slogans and trademarks and theme songs, how muc hof it has sunk into your unconscious. How much do you really know about those "two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun" and "those tiny little tea leaves in Tetley Tea"?

Well, here's your chance to find out. Just click on this handy little link to take the CramerSweeney Smart Marketing IQ Test and see how well you do.

Oh, stop whining. You knew the job was dangerous when you took it.

So Long, Steve

By now, many of you have heard that the comics industry lost Steve Gerber this week. Steve was the noted co-creator of Howard the Duck and Omega the Unknown, among many other weird and wonderful characters. He was also my friend.

I first met Steve during those halcyon days of the early '70s Marvel Bullpen. He was sharp, funny, acerbic, and always had a cigarette in his hand. That irreverence and wit made him the astonishing writer so many of us came to envy and admire. Those cigarettes ultimately killed him.

We had an odd bond, Steve and I, since we had both built our reputations somewhat by chronicling the adventures of iconic marsh monsters, me by creating and writing Swamp Thing, Steve by turning Man-Thing into one of the most offbeat books in Marvel history. One day, over lunch, we realized each of us had grown tired of a particular Marvel title we were writing. We went back to the office and asked then-Editor-in-Chief Roy Thomas if we could swap books. Roy quickly agreed. Thus, I managed to write all of one-half issue of Daredevil before some now-long-forgotten scheduling conflict forced me to turn the title over to my old buddy Marv Wolfman. Steve, on the other hand, went on to turn The Defenders into one of the single most surreal super-team series ever.

I didn't see Steve much after I moved out here to LA, aside from the occasional encounter at some convention or another. I always regretted that. The last time I ran into him was about a year or so ago here in town. I was in the company of fellow blogger Mark Evanier when Mark picked Steve up to join a small group of fellow writers for dinner. I, unfortunately, had other commitments that evening and had to beg off. But I promised Steve we'd get together the next time he was in town. That next time now, sadly, will never occur.

Mark has a much more detailed and articulate obit for Steve over on his blog, which you can link to over on the right, so might I direct your attention there. I have to go say a final farewell to an old friend.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Quick Question

Over the past few weeks, I have started a couple of blog entries about a few different performances I recently attended -- The Odd Couple and Mandy Patinkin in Concert, specifically -- and, being who I am, for a myriad of reasons, I never got around to finishing and posting them. So my question is this...

Are you Gentle Readers interested enough in what I have to say about said evenings for me to finish and post them, or should I just delete the unposted posts and look to the future? Majority rules.

Drop me a line and tell me what you think, okay? Inquiring minds want to know.