(1) BUCKS TO PRESERVE BRADBURYANA. At BradburyMedia, Phil Nichols reports “Center for Bradbury Studies receives major grant”.
Congratulations to my friends and colleagues at the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies who were today awarded $50,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
The grant is for the preservation of the Center’s extensive collection of Bradbury papers and memorabilia – materials which have been invaluable in my research, and will continue to be of interest to Bradbury scholars in the future. The project lead is Prof Jonathan R. Eller, author of Becoming Ray Bradbury and Ray Bradbury Unbound.
And Nichols was amused that the NEH press release mentioned Bradbury and Mae West in the same paragraph:
Additional awards will ensure the preservation of nearly 30,000 pounds of correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, and memorabilia from author Ray Bradbury, and support production of a documentary on the life and legacy of Mae West, one of the most powerful women of early Hollywood, whose writing and film roles served as a barometer ofrapidly changing social mores in 20th-century America.
(2) SIMPSONS RECAP. Martin Morse Wooster had his eye on The Simpsons last night:
Homer and Bart went to a “Tunnelcraft” convention, which was portrayed to be the most boring con ever. It took up most of a giant convention center, with a few number of dealers and quite a lot of walking. The high point for Bart was watching two Tunnelcraft players who were very popular on YouTube on a panel.playing each other. But they presented the panel as if it was just two random dudes playing video games.
This was the first time I had heard “cosplay” used as a word on The Simpsons, and cosplayers in Tunnelcraft looked like the old-school rock’em sock’em robots. One of the cosplayers was Daniel Radcliffe, who said the only way he could go to a con was hiding under a robot head. He took off his robot head and was promptly mobbed by fans. Daniel Radlciffe played himself.
This excerpt is from another part of the episode.
(3) PKD’S REVELATION. In his podcast Imaginary Worlds, Eric Molinsky interviews Penn State professor Richard Doyle, Erik Davis, one of the editors of the “Exegesis,” and Victoria Stewart, who wrote the play 800 Words: The Transformation of Philip K. Dick in order to find out why Dick was obsessed with the mystical experience that happened to him in 1974 and why his work resonates with us today
(4) 1963 SFF. Galactic Journey reviews the latest IF: “[April 9, 1963] IFfy… (May 1963 IF Science Fiction)”
Every month, science fiction stories come out in little digest-sized magazines. It used to be that this was pretty much the only way one got their SF fix, and in the early ’50s, there were some forty magazines jostling for newsstand space. Nowadays, SF is increasingly sold in book form, and the numbers of the digests have been much reduced. This is, in many ways, for the good. There just wasn’t enough quality to fill over three dozen monthly publications.
That said, though there are now fewer than ten regular SF mags, editors still can find it challenging to fill them all with the good stuff. Editor Fred Pohl, who helms three magazines, has this problem in a big way. He saves the exceptional stories and known authors (and the high per word rates) for his flagship digest, Galaxy, and also for his newest endeavor, Worlds of Tomorrow. That leaves IF the straggler, filled with new authors and experimental works.
Sometimes it succeeds. Other times, like this month, it is clear that the little sister in Pohl’s family of digests got the short end of the stick. There’s nothing stellar in this book, but some real clunkers, as you’ll see. I earned my pay (such as it is) this month!
(5) FASHION PLATE. Miriam Weinberg on Hugo Ceremony attire —
See the outfit under discussion in a photo here.
(6) CHARTIER OBIT. Christopher Chartier (1966-2018), founder of Warp 9, a media oriented fan club in Montreal, died April 5. Cathy Palmer-Lister notified local fans, adding: “He ran a couple of conventions, and got many of us involved in the concom. He also got me travelling to Chicago for Visions, still in my memory as the best conventions ever. It’s a shock that he passed away so young, only 52.”
(7) TOO. Junot Diaz’ #MeToo confession, “The Silence: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma”, is online at The New Yorker.
I never got any help, any kind of therapy. I never told anyone.
Last week I returned to Amherst. It’s been years since I was there, the time we met. I was hoping that you’d show up again; I even looked for you, but you didn’t appear. I remember you proudly repped N.Y.C. during the few minutes we spoke, so I suspect you’d moved back or maybe you were busy or you didn’t know I was in town. I have a distinct memory of you in the signing line, saying nothing to anyone, intense. I assumed you were going to ask me to read a manuscript or help you find an agent, but instead you asked me about the sexual abuse alluded to in my books. You asked, quietly, if it had happened to me.
You caught me completely by surprise.
I wish I had told you the truth then, but I was too scared in those days to say anything. Too scared, too committed to my mask. I responded with some evasive bullshit. And that was it. I signed your books. You thought I was going to say something, and when I didn’t you looked disappointed. But more than that you looked abandoned. I could have said anything but instead I turned to the next person in line and smiled….
(8) THE EXPANSE. Abigail Nussbaum, in her column for the Lawyers, Guns & Money blog with “A Political History of the Future: The Expanse”, assures readers: “I don’t hate The Expanse.”
For two-plus years, I’ve watched this celebration of the show with bemusement. I don’t hate The Expanse, and I’ll probably keep watching it for as long as it’s on. But I also find it singularly un-engaging—surprisingly so, given how well-calibrated its premise and genre are to my interests. I would describe The Expanse as a show with great casting and production values, amazing worldbuilding, a so-so story, and characters who are, with a few notable exceptions, dull as ditchwater. In its second season in particular I’ve been extremely frustrated by where the show has placed its storytelling emphasis, and the political blindspots that has ended up revealing.
(9) MONSTER SMASH. From February 2017 – Hugo Finalist Emil Ferris, on how My Favorite Thing Is Monsters came to be in “The Bite That Changed My Life”. Following this intro, it’s all done as a comic.
Writer and illustrator Emil Ferris has always had an affinity for stories about outsiders. Growing up in Uptown in the 1960s, Ferris was part of a diverse community of people who she says “operated outside the system.” Her neighbors included black migrants who traveled north during the Great Migration, white Appalachian miners living in abject poverty, and thousands of Native Americans who left their reservations in the wake of relocation programs. “There was an incredible beauty,” says Ferris. “These were people who suffered, but were strong. They were survivors.”
One reason Ferris was drawn to those on the fringe was because she herself was a loner. Born with scoliosis, Ferris was immobile for much of her childhood. “I was also severely hunchbacked, which is why I loved monsters,” says Ferris, who also characterizes her younger self as very wolf-like. “I had this vision of this little wolf girl, enfolding in the arms of this tall handsome cut-apart Frankenstein character.”
Ferris uses those early experiences as a loose backdrop in her stunning debut graphic novel, My Favorite Thing is Monsters.
(10) ON EXHIBIT NOW. Print Magazine covers an “American Illustration and Comic Art Exhibit”, running from April 7 til May 20.
In the early part of the twentieth century, illustration came into its own. Simultaneously over on the newsprint pages of national newspapers, comic strips did as well. These were joined later in the decade by art for both pulp magazines and comic books. This golden age of editorial illustration and cartooning is currently on display in the exhibit “American Illustration & Comic Art” at the Sordoni Gallery, Wilkes University in Wilkes Barre, PA.
The Gallery’s website describes the exhibit: “Selections from the Sordoni Collection of American Illustration & Comic Art”.
The exhibition features 135 original artworks by more than 100 artists—N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, Frank Schoonover, Norman Rockwell, J.C. Leyendecker, George Herriman, Harold Foster, Jack Cole, Milton Caniff, Norman Saunders, Harold Gray, Al Hirschfeld, Al Capp, Walt Kelly, Charles Schulz and many others. Wilkes Barre native son Ham Fisher, creator of Joe Palooka, is represented as well. While focusing on the golden age of illustration, contemporary artists, such as Anita Kunz, C.F. Payne, Bob Eckstein, Thomas J. Fluharty, Mike Lynch and Paul Davis, also have their place in the exhibit.
In that century it would have been rare to see work for the slicks (the upper tire of magazine publishing, such as Life, The Saturday Evening Post and The New Yorker) to be seen as equal to that printed on newsprint (the pulps and comics). There once was a pecking order within editorial illustration (slicks over pulps) and in cartooning (single panel over strips, strips over comic books), but times have changed. This all-inclusive exhibition includes work that appeared on magazine covers and interiors, advertisements, book jackets, album covers, daily and Sunday comic strips, cartoons, movie cels and comic books.
It all comes from the private collection of Andrew Sordoni III, whose mother helped found the gallery in 1973. The gallery was renovated last year and now sports 7,000 square feet of exhibition space. The show is up through May 20 and admission is free. It is accompanied by a 185-page catalog with myriad essays, including those by comic book artist and filmmaker Jim Steranko, David Saunders (Norman’s son) and New Yorker and National Lampoon cartoonist Sam Gross.
(11) JUSTICE LEAGUE PERFECTED. Just in case you wondered – “How Justice League Should Have Ended.”
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and Danny Sichel for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]