NOTICE

NOTICE

Friday, September 22, 2017

Decisions Decisions and How I've Damned my child

I write poetry, and some people assume I am in a mood or mindset that is dark when I write certain kinds of poems.  They wonder if my love poems are aimed at someone other than my wife.  They wonder if my broken hearted love poems mean I will be newly single.   And so, if I write a poem about a dark place I receive many emails asking if I am suicidal or something.  Or dark in mood.  Well, yes, yes I am.

I was asked if I wasn't in a new depressed point in my life due to my poetry and social media posts.  I am.  But, whatever the depth of it, I am not certain it is a mood disorder, or illness, I think I've come upon some majorly depressing statistics about life.

I am grateful to live in America, with a loving family, in a home, with the ability to write rather than labor endlessly without reward.  Well, no, I write without reward too, but there is a reward when the work is done and birthed.  But I have a life that has drawn me to a place where I recognize that I am fortunate, I have been insanely lucky compared to many, but that the world in general is on a precipice.

Am I talking about Global Climate Change?  Yes.
Disparity between the wealth of nations?  Not as much.
War?  Yes.
A lack of future due to the collapse of the environment, a collapse of society due to being at war for 20 years or so, a lack of hope due to said war and environment?  Yes.

I have studied the global climate situation.  There are many areas to research, I followed documentaries, presentations before congressional panels, papers, and books.  I've spent two months researching.  I think it is entirely possible that humans will be extinct soon, or, that the vageries of existence will lead us to resolve to fix the environment.    I have watched scientists from the deepest edge of either extreme, Guy McPherson says we've less than ten years to live due to the environmental habitat collapse.  Piers Corbyn says there is no global warming, and in fact, the cycle is calling for an entry into a new ice age.  In the middle left are those many scientists who call the science settled.  Elsewhere the argument is that CO2 follows warming, not the other way around.  The sun rays are the most important aspect of climate, and change according to the rogue scientists.

Which do I believe?  Hmmm...

In my childhood through to early 30s I said that I didn't want to bring a child into the world due to the many crisis approaching.  I thought it would be unfair.  And then, my wife convinced me that my son would perhaps be the one to make a difference, to fix the many things wrong.

I hate to think that I've damned him to a hellish future.
I hate to think about the future.

Before someone wishes to leave a comment to teach me how I am wrong, you haven't a clue where I am leaning.  And if you want to stop discussion of science and climate issues, the way to do it is not to declare everything settled it is to argue it, prove it, and in the market place of ideas win the debate.  I am horrified by the future, but I can say, I fear an ice age way way more than a warmer earth.  So I am stuck between two bowls of shit and I've been told in a few hours I have to eat one of them.

And I don't want to do it.

THE US & War

And since 2001 America has been at war.  At war with Iraq, with Afghanistan, with Somalian pirates, with Libyan forces allied with Muhmar Qaddafi, non governmental agencies such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and within its own borders.  And now the always simmering conflict with North Korea has arisen.  I've been told by numerous people that the draft doesn't exist, but that is not actually true.  The draft isn't being used now.  There is nothing barring it from returning.  I have a son who is 18 years old.  I raised him with absolute care and fire, to build up a human who could be both moral and kind, at the same time aware that the world outside him is dangerous.  If  he were stolen from me, I'd have absolutely nothing left worth staying around for.




Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My Life in Comics.

I was asked how I got into the comic book industry, and what comic books I've written.  Most people do not realize I've done both journalistic work in the world of comics, and creative.  I've been an idiot, made mistakes, done weak interviews, meaningless reviews, and, I've grown and done great interviews and the same sort of reviews.  As a person who gets violently ill reading the words of asshole comic book reviewers and even worse interviews, my goal was always to be a person to encourage readers to seek out this work, or read or enjoy this creative person's work.  The never satisfied, always angry, never allowing one's self to enjoy something journalists miss the point.  It is as if you go to a comic book store on Free Comic day, which should be a celebration, and every staff member there are unhappy, unhelpful, and make the day something closer to unpleasant.


Comics are fun.  They can be serious or not.  They can be good in the serious, they can be bad, the same goes for the comics that are simply meant to be fun or silly.  To me the world of comics is diminished when to be accepted it has to be high art, or ignored as low brow entertainment.   The comic book industry is large enough to be everything.  As a kid I loved all sorts of comics.  There is no reasonable standard for judgment of comics if you have to like the serious and hate the less serious. Talent and time is poured out on both, regardless of your preference.

As a writer, interviewer, reviewer, sometimes  I worked at numerous sites, starting at the retailer's page at Robin Goodfellow, then to Slush Factory and UGO, then in different stints at Popthought my own site, CBR, Comicon the Pulse, The Great Curve Blog, and many more... and now simply at Poplitiko.blogspot.com 

I worked hard, often over 60 hours a week doing interviews and reviews, as well as commentary.  I received review product from a couple dozen companies.  And I tried to feature comics from the whole of the industry.  As such I made contacts across the industry.  Some people in the industry thought I loved everything, which is simply not true, I focused on the good.  Some people in the industry thought I was an asshole, because I didn't want to review their book.  Some hated me for not running their PR but running that of others.  But some people appreciated what I did.  Some spent more time than normal with me, some gave me more than time, I eventually worked with them.

And how I started is a tale I've told elsewhere, but, due to my being a person who tried to support the less powerful publishers as well as the mainstream, I received invitations to pitch ideas at a number of them.  In two cases my pitches were accepted, but the publisher died before them coming to print.  In one case the publisher screwed my partner so I said fuck that.  At one publisher our book was accepted but after a year of waiting we said nuts and released it ourselves.  But, from the first true offer, Viper's invite to have me do a story in Josh Howard Presents Sasquatch, to the small publisher owned by Bob Giadrosich that released my first work A Life of Ravens, I learned a great deal about the world of comics, and publishing.  (A Life of Ravens had many different forms of expression, comics, short prose, poetry, epic poetry, and essay).  The people who assisted me in this creative life span a great many genres, formats and industries, but those who assisted me with advice, interviews, reviews, and creative work, I show to the right.  No amount of thanks from me would be enough.  I am in their debt.


There are more people I've worked with, and they are not from the world of comics, so I have not included them, but I wanted to say, this collection of people is for comics only, and by no means is it complete.  I have done comic work in the below shown works. I still have copies of 3 of them.  If you are interested in them I can be found at  

My Email Address 
Alexanderness63 @gmail.com

Or at my Twitter home 
https://twitter.com/alexnesspoetry

My poetry blog
http://alexnesspoetry.blogspot.com
http://alexnesspoetry.blogspot.com/2007/01/My-Work.html

Or at my Amazon page
https://www.amazon.com/author/alexness


“In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within
me there lay an invincible summer.”  Albert Camus 



Monday, September 11, 2017

I am King

Recently I was asked a very interesting question.  If I am so not happy with America's system, what system would I replace it with?  I should say, although I call myself a monarchist it is not for my trust of any human king.  I am not saying I want a king.  I am a Christian and Christ is my king, and God the father is the High Emperor of all.  So, immediately I want to say, don't take this as anything more than a mental exercise.

I believe in democracy, and there are two ways to encourage it.  Have deep engagement of the populace at the core, rural level.  Town halls for debate, after educating the voters by presentations having votes on things directly instead of mayors and councils.  I think states work as they make the governance easier than having just local votes and one huge ass national government.  But states are forced to do too much that people should do for themselves.  While I am not a libertarian, I will be accused of being libertarian friendly here.  But I think there are some aspects of governance that allows the state to take responsibilities that used to be held in the individual. 

I believe in the arts and education, cultural legacies are important.  So, maybe as a cost for citizenship that suggests the whole is larger than the sum of its parts, there is a labeled, defined tax for the arts.  One for infrastructure.  And one for education.  That and emergency services are well left to the state to sort out.  A smaller state government should be able to do this.  On the other hand, I have no confidence in my ability to govern, or anyone I know.  It is a job that attracts those who long to be powerful, corrupt, or, want a good stable source of income.  It shouldn't be assumed that there are altruistic people who can serve.  It should be assumed that people have base needs and corrupt souls.  Therefore the government will reflect that. 

The federal level of government should be there to do four things.   These functions should be paid by the individual, with 3 different levels.  10%/20%/30%.  There is merit in having the wealthy pay more, but not so much like the modern state has now.   1) Organize and maintain a military.  Provide the defense of the country from 500 miles out to the borders of the country.  No foreign bases, serving only the known and foreseen needs of the country.  2) Develop a management system for all natural resources so that the various members of the population, businesses, and any use of lakes, mineral rights, coal, whatever is made to be safe and not to the degree of destruction of said resource.  3)  A national police force should exist to hunt rapists and murderers, and not to bust pot growers and shit like that.  Make every law one that punishes behavior that harms others, not one's self.  4) Tax only services and products to make sure that every tax burden is paid for by use.

I realize this seems nebulous, but hell, I am not a rebel, I'm a poet.   Poets don't fight, we aren't rulers, we just sit around and write shit.

I think the federal government should not be higher in power than the will of the local governments.  Therefore I don't really believe in a president.  I suppose we could have whatever the rabble want.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The World is a Dark Place.


 “To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd!”
― William Shakespeare, Hamlet 


I am going to be taking a break from blogging.  I've committed myself to writing a poem a day on my poetry blog, but beyond that I confess, my heart has been heavy.  I am less depressed than completely exhausted.  And despite fighting depression for most of my life, I never before fought a lack of writing fire.  I have arrived there this time though.

I am no longer going to sell comic book tpbs and books that I've not written as a way to increase my spending money.  It is a LOT more work than worth my time.  I enjoy money, mind you, I just have reached a place where everything I do results in all sorts of labor without reward.  And I do not have a reserve of strength to endure.

I have also been spending a great many hours watching science documentaries about the global crisis.  I am rather still unconvinced on either side, the low sun activity causing a delayed ice age, or, such enormous temperature rise due to CO2 use that humans will lose their habitat.  And die.


I also have watched many hours of election coverage from the last 40 years.  I have to say, while there were similarly bad choices offered in the past, I think it was possible to hope.

I no longer believe in hope.

I am a Christian, but I am not speaking about hope for salvation.  I am speaking about hope for the human race, and the possible extinction of the species.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Some excellent books... do yourself a favor, go read em...

(Many thanks to Russell R. Stewart for his assistance with some of the series chosen.)

“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we're partisans of liberty, then it's our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”   J.R.R. Tolkien

The great success of Game of Thrones on HBO and the movie franchise Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit have brought fantasy into bright focus.  Sadly, for some, they like aspects of these works but long for more depth of characters, less violence, more fantasy elements such as magic, faeries, and "love".

“It all goes back and back," Tyrion thought, "to our mothers and fathers and theirs before them. We are puppets dancing on the strings of those who came before us, and one day our own children will take up our strings and dance in our steads.”  George R.R. Martin

I was asked if there were any good fantasy books that are NOT like either Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien or George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones.  They also asked that works such as the Shanara Terry Brooks series and the Mithgar series by Dennis McKiernan not be considered, as the person asking wants fantasy but nothing like the quest or struggle for power.   The sets here I am going to show therefore are fantasy, born of different mothers, and not of the sort of quest or war of the Roses situation found in the two series above.  There are many.

“All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But when the men have died in battle and honour, you have leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more. But I am of the House of Erol and not a serving-woman. I can ride and wield blade, and I do not fear either pain or death.”  J.R.R. Tolkien 

The first series of excellence is the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series.  While some books preceded the arrival of Lin Carter as editor of the series, he was very much an eloquent and erudite champion of the books chosen.  Along with writing introductions and explanations for whichever work in question, he additionally wrote some guides for the series that were deep, entirely accurate,  and made the series as much a celebration of great fantasy works as it was nearly a scholarly enterprise.  I learned about Lord Dunsany's work through this series, William Morris, E. R. Eddison, as well as the art work of Gervasio Gallardo and Frank Utpatel.  

“Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet's eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.” 


Shakespeare 


Robert E. Howard 

Robert E. Howard was a master of the pulp fiction genre.  He was also a product of his time.  He was imaginative, bright, and, despite some critical reviewers finding him limited, I think he had an ability to tell stories that was immediate, intimate and felt true, however odd or weird the setting.  He moved me, and the series from Glenn Lord as editor and commentator, the Berkley Books, are without any doubt on my part the very best.  Swords, antiquity, guns, action are all that you need to know.


Another aspect of Robert E. Howard that I like, is his wide look, at everything exciting, and his primal, powerful poetry.  For a tough guy he had a very complicated and diverse heart.


AND OTHER SERIES OF FANTASY

There are many series to consider, with some having dragons, some high magic, some with brutal struggle, some are deeply serious, others, light and fun.

Anne McCaffrey's work had/has a huge following.  I cannot say I liked what I read, but at the time I read it I was not inclined to enjoy it.  I wasn't stupid or chauvinistic, I didn't like the idea of the work, so whatever followed wasn't bound to succeed.  But from a very close friend who I trust, the works are not the same plot over and over, and he said, he fell in love with the lead character with every new book.


I bought this series for my wife, she loved it, shared it with family, and those books made the rounds.  I read them and liked them in a way that I find hard to describe.  The characters were real, the motives felt real, and while the level of action was somewhat less than most fantasy, the stories were rich with detail and the world concerned was lush.

“So you do believe in... true love? she whispered.
I took a deep breath, I think I have to, I said, blinking back tears. Without it, we're all going nowhere.”  Juliet Marillier




A long time ago, while in college, I was told by a woman I didn't know well, to read Katharine Kerr's work.  The stories were said to be complicated, intricate, but, compelling.  I tried reading these and, the writing was excellent.  But there was a story aspect that I didn't really enjoy.  However, others probably do.  The work follows heroes and others living and reincarnating over the course of long stretches of time.  And that isn't a horrible thing, I just wasn't about that. 


Jonathan Thomas Meriweather is from the planet earth of our reality.  He is somehow is transported from it to a magical land where animals speak, have intelligence on a level of humans, or more.  Humor and wit fill this series.   Since Alan Dean Foster is a favorite author of mine I think you can deduce whether or not I liked this. 




Ursula K. Le Guin moved my heart deeply.  Her writing is beautiful, and the world of Earthsea is one that is lavish in detail, and beautiful in fact.  The world is a water world with no great continents.  The humans upon the world have lives that are directly related to the oceans, harvesting and trading.  Another aspect of life on the Earthsea world is the central role of magic in the lives of the occupants.




“Even if a tamed wolf makes a good sheepdog, he will never understand how the sheep feel....You are most fortunate. For having been, as you thought, a coward, and helpless to fight - you know what that is like. You know what bitterness that feeling breeds - you know in your own heart what kind of evil it brings. And so you are most fit to fight it where it occurs.” Elizabeth Moon

Elizabeth Moon's Deed of Paksenarrion and Legacy of Gird were excellent.  The people of the planet were of the standard fantasy variety, elves, orcs, humans and others.  A farm girl, Paks leaves home due to an upcoming arranged marriage.  Her strength makes her a very likable character, and Moon's writing shines as this work, extended into the second series with Gird, is parts military fantasy, an individual path of the warrior becoming realized, and, most interestingly, religious.  Moon made certain, for me, that other writers of the day were just waving their hands at issues, Moon made each issue worthy, and that she did so with three vital themes when others might have just done one, was extremely impressive.

A fan of Lois McMaster Bujold told me to read this series, but sadly, I hadn't time to do so.  But the person who did read it said LMB writes well, makes characters that live on the page, and there is a undercurrent of love, and fantasy romance.



Katherine Kurtz series following the Deryni is clever in many ways.  The characters feel real while the canvas Kurtz paints upon makes the political and religious intrigues for power thrilling.  This world has humans and a race called Deryni who have mental and magical abilities, and as a race they have been hounded and outcast from society.  The stories concern life in the Eleven kingdoms, and these works are very satisfying.






Raymond Feist's Riftwars and other works are all worth reading.  The cities and states are incredibly well conceived, the Rifts in question revolve about the wars of magic users created portals between worlds and clashing.  If this is less deep in characterization it makes up for it with devastatingly well written action. 


I think the Wheel of Time series is similar in some respects to the epic quest works I suggested would be ignored for this entry into fantasy, however, it is an enormous series with an ending birthed with help of a new writer, as Robert Jordan had a disease that took him away prior to ending.  I know people who told me they could read a dozen more books like this, they love the detail and idea of it all.  I really liked Jordan's Conan the Barbarian new works, so I am sure they were written well, but, if I smell out a long ongoing perhaps never finished series, I don't begin reading it. 




Robert Silverberg's alien planet Majipoor series was not one that I've read.  It is, however, considered by people I deeply respect to be excellent.  The planet is enormous and is populated by many different humanoids species, all in direct competition for various artifacts and power.  Also, it is considered by many to be science fiction more than fantasy due to the quality of writing that brings out the sense of alien.


“Are you a storyteller, Thomas Covenant?"
Absently he replied, "I was, once."
"And you gave it up? Ah, that is as sad a tale in three words as any you might have told me. But a life without a tale is like a sea without salt. How do you live?"
... Unconsciously, he clenched his fist over his ring. "I live."
"Another?" Foamfollower returned. "In two words, a story sadder than the first. Say no more -- with one word you will make me weep.”  Stephen R. Donaldson 


At the time I read the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant I was not comfortable with a lead character who I rather disliked.  There was also too much yakking not enough whacking... OK maybe not.  It had a fast pace, it was vivid, and the depth of characters was highly impressive.  At the time I read these I was not used to, perhaps not ready to enjoy psychological versus visceral fantasy.  Though it is well, oh, far beyond well written, it was extraordinarily complex,  at times abstract, and always bleak.  This is the kind of story that I've always thought should exist, but I am guilty of expecting and preferring the less intense and more "fun" works.  Anyone liking that challenges you, would love this.  If you are bored by anything easily,  you might pass on this.


“What was that?" Belgarath asked, coming back around the corner.
"Brill," Silk replied blandly, pulling his Murgo robe back on.
"Again?" Belgarath demanded with exasperation. "What was he doing this time?"
"Trying to fly, last time I saw him." Silk smirked.
The old man looked puzzled.
"He wasn't doing it very well," Silk added.
Belgarath shrugged. "Maybe it'll come to him in time."
"He doesn't really have all that much time." Silk glanced out over the edge.
"From far below - terribly far below - there came a faint, muffled crash; then, after several seconds, another. "Does bouncing count?" Silk asked.
Belgarath made a wry face. "Not really."
"Then I'd say he didn't learn in time." Silk said blithely.”   David Eddings


David Eddings wrote well, and his characters are vivid, well motived and interesting.  But, by the third book of this series I found myself less and less interested.  I am not complaining, I just recognized it wasn't for me.  Magic and sweeping tales of Garion and his companions to find and use a stone also sort of violates my "epic quest" aspect of this, but what the hell.

“Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.”


W.B. Yeats