Pixel Scroll 11/29/19 The Scrolls of Our Teeth

(1) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman encourages listeners to share scallops with comics legend Larry Lieber in Episode 110 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Larry Nieber

I first met comic book artist and writer Larry Lieber when I worked in the Marvel Comics Bullpen of the mid-‘70s. Though perhaps that’s not really accurate — because that was only when I first met him in the flesh. I really first met him when I was seven, the year I picked up copies of Tales of Suspense #39, in which he co-created Iron Man, Journey into Mystery #83, in which he co-created Thor, and Tales to Astonish #35, in which he co-created Ant-Man.

…A week before Larry’s 88th birthday, we met for dinner at his favorite French restaurant, Bistro Le Steak, on the corner of Third Avenue and East 75th Street in Manhattan, where we chatted about the old days, as well as what he has planned for the days still to come.

We discussed the old-time radio shows which most influenced him, what he learned about humanity from reading Margaret Mead back in the ’50s, how the only reason he became a writer was because he was too slow to make a living an artist, who told him back at the start of his career that comics was a “dying industry,” the tips Stan Lee gave to make him a better writer, why his attempts to work for DC Comics never worked out, the warning artist Syd Shores offered he wishes he hadn’t heeded, how a quote he heard in a movie about Irish playwright Sean O’Casey helped him understand the arc of his own life, the three best-selling books he read before writing his own novel, his mixed feelings on winning the Bill Finger Award, how Jim Shooter helped him relearn how to be an artist, which comics assignment he enjoyed the most, what Stan Lee told him about the Rawhide Kid that made him decide to take it over from Jack Kirby, why he feels like Don Quixote, the surprising thing he thinks is the best thing he’s ever written, and much more.

(2) ALWAYS TO CALL IT RESEARCH. Read about “8 Movies Accused of Plagiarism” – several of them genre – at Top10Films.UK.

2. The Terminator (1984) 

Harlan Ellison, a highly prolific writer, wrote many novels, short stories and screenplays. What most people do not know is that Harlan Ellison was a very litigious writer. He claimed that many TV shows and movies stole his ideas.

In an episode of “The Outer Limits” (called “Soldier”) about a robot from the future, Ellison claimed that the movie “The Terminator” was based on this story as well as another episode he wrote called “Demon With a Glass Hand”.

(3) SMOFCON UPDATE. SMOFcon 37, to be held December 6-8 in Albuquerque, NM, has posted its Code of Conduct.

(4) L’ENGLE CONFERENCE. Publishers Weekly’s report of the “First Madeleine L’Engle Conference Held in New York City” shows it was a remarkably diverse event.

Nearly 200 participants, including a distinguished roster of children’s book authors, gathered on November 16 at All Angels Church on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where author Madeleine L’Engle was a member for many years, to discuss how faith and art inform each other at Walking on Water: The Madeleine L’Engle Conference. Taking its title from L’Engle’s 1972 book, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, the event was organized by Brian Allain of Writing for Your Life, a resource center for spiritual writers; Charlotte Jones Voiklis, L’Engle’s granddaughter, literary executor and co-author, with her sister Léna Roy, of the middle-grade biography Becoming Madeleine; and Sarah Arthur, author of A Light So Lovely: The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L’Engle.

(5) SPREADING THE WORD. “Virgil Finlay’s Daughter Lail needs our help” – a GoFundMe has been started by Bob Garcia to raise $5,000 to help her respond to an emergency:

I met Virgil Finlay’s daughter Lail and  her daughter Brien at the World Fantasy Convention in 2014. We’ve become friends since then. For the last few years, she has been battling metatastic cancer while holding down a job, since her husband, musician Julio Hernandez, has been ill as well. They celebrated their 50th anniversary not so long ago.

A week or so ago I received this e-mail:

“Just a note to let you know that Sat. Nov 9th my house burned down with my husband inside. He died in the fire, my daughter and I are physically okay. So I don’t yet know if any of the artwork survived, and my daughter and I are now homeless and staying with a kind friend.”

Here’s the news story.

Lail needs all the help she can get. Especially with things that the insurance company just won’t cover. Besides the normal expenses, for example, she needs $1,100 just to remove her father’s art from the house, and more to get it cleaned and restored. And there are her father’s correspondences, which she has not been able to get into the building to see if they survived. Lail estimates she needs $5000 to get through this time.

And she needs to get these things paid for quickly, before it becomes too late to recover things from what’s left of her house.

(6) NOT LONG BEFORE THE END. “Star Wars: Dying fan to get early screening, Bob Iger confirms”.

A dying man and his son will be able to watch the new Star Wars film before it goes on general release, Disney’s CEO Bob Iger has said.

Rowans Hospice in Waterlooville, Hampshire, sent out a plea on Twitter asking for an early screening of the movie, which is due out on 20 December.

The hospice said: “This is our most desperate hour. Sadly, time is not on his side for 20th Dec.”

After receiving confirmation, Rowans said it “cannot thank Disney enough”

The hospice tweeted on Wednesday asking for help for the patient to see the film, attracting hundreds of retweets.

(7) AN INKLING HAS HIS BACK. Earth and Oak has reprinted “CS Lewis’ Response to Critics of The Lord of the Rings: The Dethronement of Power” with this introduction:

C. S. Lewis’ defence of Tolkien’s work gives insight into the types of criticism it elicited. Chief among those criticisms were its supposed lack of realism, and lack of character development or moral complexity. Lewis robustly argues against both allegations, and with characteristic succinctness states “we know at once that it has done things to us.” Notably this review came only 2 days after Tolkien’s final instalment was published, in response to criticism that was clearly already in full flow since the earlier volumes. It demonstrates the extent to which even a great piece of work will encounter rejection and snobbery, but also demonstrates the value of even one strong ally who supports your work. Below is Lewis’ essay in full….

(8) STALEY OBIT. Actress Joan Staley died November 24. Her busy career included a few genre roles: “Joan Staley, Actress in ‘The Ghost and Mr. Chicken,’ Dies at 79”.

She also slapped Elvis in ‘Roustabout,’ sang to Audie Murphy in ‘Gunpoint’ and played Shame sidekick Okie Annie on ‘Batman.’

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • November 29, 1959 The Atomic Submarine premiered. It stars Arthur Franz, Dick Foran, Brett Halsey, and Joi Lansing, with John Hilliard as the voice of the alien. It rates 27% at Rotten Tomatoes. It’s in the public domain, so you can see it here.
  • November 29, 1972 — Pong, the coin-operated video game version, debuted.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 29, 1898 C.S. Lewis. There are no doubt folks here who are far more literate about him than I. I’ve read The Screwtape Letters for a college course decades ago and thoroughly enjoyed The Chronicles of Narnia also many years back but that’s it for my personal acquaintance with him.  I know individuals that have loved The Space Trilogy and I’ve known ones who loathed it. So what do you like or dislike about him? (Died 1963.)
  • Born November 29, 1918 Madeleine L’Engle. Writer whose genre work included the splendid YA sequence starting off with A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels: A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time. One of her none-genre works that I recommend strongly is Katherine Forrester Vigneras series. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 29, 1950 Peter Hooten, 69. He played the title character in the late Seventies Dr. Strange film. His other genre appearances are all in definitely low-grade horror films such as Orca, House of Blood and Souleater. And one Italian film that had so many name changes that I’m accused it of name laundering, 2020 Texas Gladiators
  • Born November 29, 1954 Howie Mandel, 64. He was the voice of Gizmo in Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. His longest voice acting gig was on the Muppet Babies where he did a lot of different voices, and he voiced Sam-I-Am in In Search of Dr. Seuss which is not nearly as serious as it sounds.
  • Born November 29, 1966 Andrée Bernard, 53. She appeared as Folly in “The Shakespeare Code”, a Tenth Doctor story. She was Yana Haverty in Snakes and Ladders, a What If Future UK series. and she provided voice work to Star Wars: The Old Republic – Rise of the Hutt Cartel.
  • Born November 29, 1969 Greg Rucka, 50. Comic book writer and novelist, known for his work on Action Comics, Batwoman and Detective Comics. If you’ve not read it, I recommend reading Gotham Central which he co-created with Ed Brubaker, and over at Marvel, the four issue Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra which he wrote is quite excellent as well. I’ve read none of his novels, so will leave y’all to comment on those. He’s a character in the CSI comic book Dying in the Gutters miniseriesas someone who accidentally killed a comics gossip columnist while attempting to kill Joe Quesada over his perceived role in the cancellation of Gotham Central.
  • Born November 29, 1970 Larry Joe Campbell, 49. He had the recurring role of Chief Engineer Newton on The Orville series. His character was written out at the end of season one. He’s also Officer Murphy in R.I.P.D. which is a really bad film, and was in Pacific Rim as one of this background perplexed you don’t really see, a construction worker.
  • Born November 29, 1971 Naoko Mori, 48. Torchwood was really her only genre appearance though I see that she popped up first in Doctor Who playing her character of Doctor Sato in the “Aliens of London” episode.  She also voiced Nagisa Kisaragi  in Gerry Anderson’s Firestorm.
  • Born November 29, 1976 Anna Faris, 43. She broke into genre acting with the lead part of Cindy Campbell in the Scary Movie film franchise. She also had roles in May, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel and the Alvin and the Chipmunks. film franchise. 
  • Born November 29, 1976 Chadwick Boseman, 43. The Black Panther alias Challa in Marvel’s film metaverse. The same year that he first was this being, he was Thoth in Gods of Egypt.(If you’ve not heard, no one else did as it bombed at the box office.) He was Sergeant McNair on Persons Unknown which is at least genre adjacent I would say.  And he appeared on Fringe!

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Baby Blues references a superhero film in its joke about a more widespread family TV viewing issue.

(12) SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF. James Davis Nicoll studies how writers have answered a question that possibly worries him more than other readers — “How to Explain the Sudden Appearance of Anthropomorphic Characters in Your Story”.

Lots of people love anthropomorphic characters. Perhaps you are one such fan. Perhaps you are a writer who plans to feature them in your fiction. Many authors don’t feel a particular need to justify anthropomorphic characters’ presence in their stories. There are plenty of examples available, but attempting to list all the relevant folktale figures, manga characters, and inhabitants of Duckburg would take up an entire essay, at least. But there are other people—people like me—who become anxious if important elements aren’t given a backstory or explanation. For those people, here are some semi-plausible ways anthropomorphic characters could have appeared in your setting…

(13) NOT JUST MAMMOTHS. “Extinction: Humans played big role in demise of the cave bear”.

The arrival of human ancestors in Europe some 40,000 years ago coincided with the downfall of the cave bear, scientists have revealed.

New evidence suggests humans hunted the bear and drove it from caves, putting it on the road to extinction.

The fate of the species was sealed by other pressures, such as the onset of the last Ice Age, and shrinking food resources.

The bear eventually died out 24,000 years ago.

“We see this dramatic drop in the population of the cave bear starting from 40,000 years ago, which coincides with the arrival of anatomically modern humans in Europe,” said Prof Verena Schuenemann of the University of Zurich, who led the study.

“It is the clearest evidence we have so far that humans might have played a big role in the extinction of the cave bear.”

(14) STARTING YOUNG. I’d have loved this project. “Teaching children to build satellites in school” – a BBC video.

South African start-up XinaBox is teaching children to build satellites in school using a modular chip that can be clipped together.

The company is using its technology to teach children about space, science and coding in interactive workshops.

(15) THE DIGITAL JOLLY ROGER. “Rise of comic book piracy ‘a real problem'” reports BBC.

A comic book writer’s claim that the proliferation of piracy is “a real problem” has encouraged others in the industry to share their concerns.

Jim Zub, who writes for Marvel and IDW, tweeted that 20 times as many people read comics illegally shared online, than pay for digital or physical works.

Many other comic creators replied with their own experiences of pirated work.

For some, piracy brought personal and professional costs, while others suggested radical distribution changes.

(16) STAR WARS FEATURETTE. A nostalgic mix of behind-the-scenes footage from the original Star Wars movie and the latest, soon-to-end trilogy.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Doug Ellis, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

34 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/29/19 The Scrolls of Our Teeth

  1. (10) Howie Mandel was a regular cast member of St. Elsewhere starting in 1982, and I don’t think he was a teenager at the time.

    Isn’t St. Elsewhere considered genre on the basis of the final scene of the series, Tommy Westphal with the St. Eligius snow-globe?

  2. So sad to hear the news about Lail Finlay. There is a 2020 wall calendar, The Sci-Fi Art of Virgil Finlay, that is a licensed product, with images provided by Garcia Publishing (presumably Bob), that I trust provides some revenue. It’s about $10 or less from various retailers.

  3. Lewis’ writing was often persuasive and sometimes wise, but I can’t think of him now without remembering LeGuin:

    There’s a good deal of hatred in Lewis, and it is a frightening hatred, because this gentle, brilliant, lovable, devout man never saw the need even to rationalise it, let alone apologise for it.

    She was reviewing a collection of unpublished stories that really didn’t show Lewis at his best but there’s a taste of that hatred all through his better work too, once you learn to recognise it.

  4. @SF2 Concatenation:

    One motto of this site is “it’s always news to somebody.” Every so often–like with this–Mike makes me one of today’s lucky 10,000.

  5. @Sophie Jane I’d be interested in reading more of Le Guin’s discussion of C. S. Lewis. Where is it to be found? Thanks.

  6. @StephenfromOttawa
    Sadly, I think it’s just the one short piece I quote from. You can find it in “Dancing at the Edge of the World”. I’ll have a look through my copy of “The Language of the Night”, though, in case he gets a mention in any of her essays on fantasy.

  7. @2: Interesting, but has some holes: I’m pretty sure “The Snow Queen” (even the H. C. Anderson retelling rather than whatever it was drawn from) is out of copyright (and therefore freely usable), and when Avatar came out I don’t remember hearing anything about Dances with Wolves (and surely there are other stories about somebody from a invading culture with more raw power going over to the locals’ side), but at least in our circle there was talk of it having stolen from Poul Anderson’s “Call Me Joe” . I wonder how many errors there are in the non-genre cases — and how he drew the boundary between plagiarism and remake, e.g. The Shop Around the Corner vs You’ve Got Mail

    @11 typo? linko? links to the latest strip; there’s a genre joke here.

    @SF2 Concatenation (expanding on @Vicki Rosenzweig): many of the links in Pixel Scrolls are sent in by readers; that’s why there’s a Thanks listing between the items and the comments. Sometimes somebody sends in a link straight from the horse’s mouth; sometimes a non-specialist news service jumps on a story as soon as it appears in the specialist press and somebody sends that link in; sometimes the information takes months to get to where somebody who reads this blog can see it and send a link. The net is wide; people who browse it frequently don’t know even all of the compilation sites that might be interesting. See also this blog’s About page.

  8. 10) About Lewis: He has become a strange figure for me. I read and enjoyed The Screwtape Letters in high school (rather in the same way I enjoyed Dante) and later found his medieval and renaissance literary scholarship and the pieces in On Stories and Essays Presented to Charles Williams both useful and elegant–particularly his grasp of the appeal of literature and of Story itself. He had the kind of visceral response to art that also drove the best of my teachers. But his Christianity seemed to me to become not only increasingly orthodox but increasingly authoritarian and less generous. I had quite enjoyed Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra, even when I didn’t share the theology behind them, but That Hideous Strength put me right off–the distorted portraits of those who refused to share his vision is pretty nasty, and I still hear echoes of that high-minded rigidity in the segment of the Christian environment I think of as High Church Fundamentalism (the Protestant version of paleo-Catholicism). I never got around to the Narnia books, which is probably just as well, since my tolerance for apologetics and religious allegory (at least allegory produced after the Middle Ages) approaches zero. Still, Lewis was a hell of a writer and, when not evangelizing, an engaging thinker.

  9. I read Lewis’s Mere Christianity, and I was inescapably reminded of that Shaw quote about barbarians thinking the customs of their tribe are laws of nature.

    A couple of corrections: James Nicoll’s middle name is Davis, not David; the Black Panther’s real name is T’Challa with a T, not just “Challa”.

  10. (10) if you need a Christian fantasy writer, L’Engle has worn much better than Lewis. I was given the Narnia series about age 8 and grew increasingly resentful of the unabashed proselytizing. The Racism and Sexism Fairies have had a good go since I grew up, as well.
    @ thanks, Sophie Jane, I will check my copy of “Dancing …”.
    And happy birthday to Chadwick Boseman. I saw Gods of Egypt on TV and Boseman was the least awful thing in it. Unique film for its combination of offensiveness, dullness and stupidity.

  11. I remember liking L’Engle’s early books, but after reading Many Waters, I felt profoundly annoyed by the “sucks to be you, good riddance to bad rubbish” attitude of the protagonists toward the people destined to perish in the Flood.

  12. @StephenfromOttawa

    I can’t find anything more about Lewis in LeGuin’s other essays, I’m afraid. Tolkien and Dunsany were evidently much more important early influences.

  13. Regarding C.S. Lewis, I never read Narnia, because my childhood library and the bookshops where my family would have bought books for me didn’t carry them. So whatever magic and nostalgia those books hold for many, I don’t have it. And in fact, Narnia references in other books (and there are many) frequently go over my head.

    I did read On Stories and Other Essays on Literature at university and liked it. I never read any of his other non-fiction and most of it seems to be about religion anyway, which is not a topic I’m interested in.

    I read both Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra, when they were up for a Retro Hugo and found them dreadful, but then I really, really don’t like religion in my SFF and these two books were pretty much smothered in religion.

    So in short, C.S. Lewis wrote some fine essays on literature and a lot of other stuff I have no interest in.

  14. I read the The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe a very long time ago and thought it was ok. The Screwtape Letters I had in a University course later and found interesting. Other than reading up on the Inklings, that’s my only exposure to him. I know an Eleventh Doctor story was built sort of around a Narnia like portal…

  15. I read the Narnia books many times when I was very young, roughly 9-11 years old. I was raised in a churchgoing Baptist family but I don’t think I really connected the books with church stuff. Some of the Christian material is unmistakable even to a child. I’m trying to remember how I responded. As best I can recall, I noted it, and puzzled over it to some extent, but didn’t find it interesting or effective as religion. I was naive but I was never really very religious. By adolescence I was moving away from the particular provincial protestant culture I’d been raised in. In my teens I read Out of The Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. I think they were too old for me, full of adult issues that were over my head. In particular I found the last of the three a little upsetting. As an adult I’ve read biographical material on Lewis and the Inklings, and some of his other work, most recently the Screwtape Letters and A Preface To Paradise Lost, but I’ve never gone back to those famous fantasy novels. I remain interested In Lewis.

  16. I never expected to see the writing of CS Lewis equated (tangentially) with barbarism, but there we are, it’s been done. Not intelligently of course, that’s not possible.

  17. Lewis’ treatment of Susan by itself justifies a description of barbarism — and that’s without considering any of his other infractions. 🙄

  18. @Miles Carter: your barbarism is showing; do you even know the source, let alone the context, of the quote? I find it entirely appropriate; I suggest you read the portion of the Le Guin essay available through @Andrew’s link to find out why.

    @Andrew: that’s … comprehensive … even in its truncated form. I note that she reaches that conclusion after wrapping up her instances with “Ministering Angels”, which is in fact like way too much pre-1970’s SF (and insufficiently scattered instances since) — just a touch more vicious. I suspect he and Paul Linebarger would have gotten along very well.

  19. Miles Carter: I never expected to see the writing of CS Lewis equated (tangentially) with barbarism, but there we are, it’s been done. Not intelligently of course, that’s not possible.

    Well, stick around (if you can stomach it). Things I care about most can only be mentioned here at the expense of seeing them savaged.

  20. Heads up UK peeps, just got an alert that Robert Jackson Bennett’s Foundryside is on sale for 99p.

    (Also, Jeff VanderMeer’s Borne has been on sale for a couple of days, but not sure if that one’s already been shared.)

  21. Miles Carter says Miles Carter on November 30, 2019 at 5:00 pm said:
    I never expected to see the writing of CS Lewis equated (tangentially) with barbarism, but there we are, it’s been done. Not intelligently of course, that’s not possible.

    Of course it’s possible. That you don’t think it’s possible is an intellectual failing on your part.

  22. @Mike: I’m sorry to have given offense. Have you read Mere Christianity, though? Lewis makes quite seriously the argument that the moral law of God is written upon all people’s hearts. This to me is not an argument that can be persuasive; it merely betokens a great ignorance of anthropology.

  23. This morning’s sermon at the liberal Anglican church where I sing in the choir leaned heavily on Lewis. Most of the plot of The Silver Chair was recounted. A bit of a coincidence as far as I know, the day after his birthday.

  24. @Mike Glyer: So that Christianity is not singled out unfairly, I hereby savage practically all religions, including non-religion. Does that help?

  25. @Mike: By the way, when Matt Mikalatos’s Lewis reread series started at tor.com, you seemed to feel that it was going to be pretty negative (“…raises the suspicion that the series will be of great interest to all except to those who actually like Lewis’s writing”). I don’t know if you’ve checked back since then, but that’s not the case; it’s respectful and is also making a decent effort at explaining aspects of where Lewis was coming from that may not be self-evident.

    I’ve found a lot to treasure in Lewis’s books, though I haven’t read him in a long time. The kind of hostility that’s bothering you here is, I think, inevitable— there are valid reasons for people to be troubled/pissed off by some of his attitudes, and I generally avoid these arguments because while I feel strongly that dismissiveness is a wrong conclusion, I’m not good at articulating why and I’m not sure it’s either possible or desirable to change someone’s mind about such a reaction just because the work speaks to me. About the furthest I’ll go is to mention some things I like that people might not have run across, so:

    Of his fiction, I think my favorites are The Great Divorce and Till We Have Faces. The former is for me possibly the best expression of the joyful and non-systematized aspect of Lewis’s beliefs; its considerable didacticism is secondary to the general feeling of delight in exploring a fantasy metaphor, the love for its damaged characters, and the sense that it’ll all be OK if we can just stay open to mystery. The latter was an odd, difficult reading experience for me because for quite a while I was interested in it mostly on a theoretical level (“hmm, is this Lewis’s version of a Mary Renault novel? is that a good idea?”) and feeling like he was trying hard to be better with female characters but not entirely succeeding, and then the last quarter or so hit me like a ton of bricks emotionally.

    Oddly, the one I’ve come back to more often than the rest is That Hideous Strength, which I have a strange relationship with: I can see all kinds of things wrong with it, both philosophically and in terms of craft, to the point where I’m not sure I could full-heartedly recommend it to anyone, but there’s something about its style and construction and imagery that I find absurdly enjoyable— it’s just so weird and it commits so fully to both its creepy and silly aspects. I know it’s common to dismiss that one as Lewis trying to do a Charles Williams novel and not really getting it; as a Williams fan I think that’s an oversimplification, I think Lewis was trying to do a dozen different kinds of 20th century fantasy/horror/thriller including some that hadn’t been done yet. It’s a mess and yet its throwaway ideas are really vivid— the atavistic Merlin, the Objective Room, how the bear saves the day— and I suspect it’s been more influential than people think.

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