(1) LATEST COMICS BARGAIN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] “ComiXology Now Offering 60-Day Free Trial of Their Unlimited Service” reports The Inventory. ComiXology’s $5.99/month Unlimited gives you access to “over 25,000 digital comics, graphic novels, and manga from DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, and more!”
At free, this is a deal you can’t beat. (Assuming you’ve got a reasonable viewing device, in terms of screen size.) The regular price isn’t shabby, either, as long as you find stuff you like. (I did, but after a year-ish of binging, had found most/enough.)
Aside from DC and Marvel — a smaller and sometimes different selection than what you’d find on their own unlimited sites — there’s Dynamite, IDG, Fantagraphics, etc. IIRC, there’s Saga, Trees, ERB/Barsoom stuff, and some original-from-ComiXology titles (none of which grab me, but your jauntage may vary).
If you’ve already started exploring ComiXology’s FREE offerings, you’ll find more in many of those titles to keep going with.
BTW, if you haven’t already gotten a free Hoopla (hoopladigital.com) account through your library, do that! You can’t read as much, but the price is right.
And you can find many of Hoopla’s offerings on ComiXology, which in turn will let you make more use of your Hoopla monthly limit.
(See my “All In Color For A Zorkmid” post for more on all this.)
Here’s my question for Filers: What device are you using to read your digital comics on? In particular, is anybody using a tablet/2-in-1 other than an iPad Pro 12.9 where the screen is big enough to let you read it in the printed-comic-equivalent full size? E.g., on a Chromebook that supports that ComiXology Android app? Let me know (via a comment).
(2) CONTEST WINDOW OPENS. “B&N Launches National Children’s Short Story Contest” – a chance for some, details at Publishers Weekly.
During these unprecedented times when families are hunkered down at home together due to the Covid-19 virus, Barnes & Noble is giving aspiring young authors a chance to showcase their creativity—and become published. Between April 27 and May 29, contestants can submit written or graphic short stories to be considered for inclusion in an anthology that the company will release in time for this year’s holiday season.
(3) COUGH IT UP MARVEL. Emily Asher-Perrin is right! “Avengers: Endgame Never Showed Us Its Greatest Scene”.
But I would like to register a complaint: You see, the most interesting arc of the film is nowhere to be found on screen. And I request that Marvel produce the deleted footage of this arc, otherwise I’m not really sure why this movie was made at all.
I’m speaking, of course, about how Doctor Stephen Strange stage managed an entire apocalypse solely for Maximum Dramatic Effect.
(4) EMPTY THE MAGAZINE. Good eReader says “Barnes and Noble will stop selling new magazines”.
Barnes and Noble has shuttered over 500 of their 600 bookstores in the United States and the bookseller has announced they are no longer going to be ordering new magazines and will cease carrying them altogether.
“It will probably be a bigger deal for smaller publishers who count on the money they get upfront from B&N,” said one industry veteran, who noted that big newsstand titles, like Hearst’s Cosmopolitan and Meredith’s People, are far more reliant on other retailers.
(5) COVID COSPLAY. In the Washington Post, Maura Judkis says that cosplayers took the mandatory mask-wearing requirements to dress up as characters. “We regret to inform you that your inflatable T. rex costume is not virus-proof”.
Hence the Spider-Man in the canned food aisle. The dinosaur roaming the deli section. The unicorn walking a dog. These sightings, though not nearly as common as surgical masks and gloves, have accented our lockdown landscapes with flecks of whimsy: A couple visited their relatives wearing costume spacesuits. In China, one woman picked up medication dressed as a giraffe. In Italy, a man was reportedly arrested after breaking quarantine to go outside in a T-rex suit.
(6) MOVIE MAKING. Filer Cliff sent this link to “RenderMan: An Advanced Path-Tracing Architecture for Movie Rendering”, a paper describing a project he’s been working on. He says, “This is the software used for all Pixar movies, the Star Wars movies (and pretty much all of ILM’s output), Lord Of The Rings (but not The Hobbit) and is the oldest and one of the most widely used renderer in movie production. This was the software that Hanrahan and Catmull originated and which earned them the Turing Award you mentioned a few weeks ago.” The article begins —
Pixar’s RenderMan renderer is used to render all of Pixar’s films and by many film studios to render visual effects for live-action movies. RenderMan started as a scanline renderer based on the Reyes algorithm, and it was extended over the years with ray tracing and several global illumination algorithms.
This article describes the modern version of RenderMan, a new architecture for an extensible and programmable path tracer with many features that are essential to handle the fiercely complex scenes in movie production.
(7) ROCKET OWNER. The person who won the auction of the prop Hugos from the set of Knives Out.
(8) TALK TO THE ANIMALS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Washington Post has two articles about the video game Animal Crossing. Michael Andor Brodeur interviews Animal Crossing’s composer, Kazumi Totaka, and says his music is “a blissful 24-hour lullaby that’s helping countless players weather countless hours of forced downtime.” “The Animal Crossing soundtrack is an unlikely lullaby for a nervous world”.
Right now, millions of households and headphones around the globe are filled with the music of one of the world’s most popular and influential composers.
Over the past month, homebound listeners have spent hundreds of hours immersed in his latest work — a suite of never-ending melodies — but most of them don’t even know his name. They consume his music the same way one breathes air, with an unceasing and unconscious appetite.
Elise Favis says the the latest Animal Crossing, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons,” gives players more control over the environment in the game and more opportunities to customize the game to make it more of a form of personal expression. “Everything you need to know about the Animal Crossing: New Horizons major update”.
…Upon booting up your recently-updated game, you’ll notice your mailbox has two messages, one from Bank of Nook and the other from Nintendo. The bank notifies you of a reduced interest rate for your account (this is likely to curb the all-too-quick road to wealth many players have taken) and attaches a gift of a rug shaped like a bag of bells. As for Nintendo, their message thanks you for downloading the update and gives you a decorative world map to hang on the wall.
Outside of slashing your interest rate (it’s unclear how much the rate has changed), these freebies are welcome.
(9) ANDRUS OBIT. Longtime fanzine fan Reed Andrus died April 25. He was interested in all things associated with the science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery genres. He once said Richard E. Geis’ Science Fiction Review was his gateway into fandom. He also contributed to the National Fantasy Fan Federation’s Yesterday and Today (1974), co-edited Laughing Osiris (1974-1978), and published Bull of the Seven Battles which Brian Earl Brown’s Whole Fanzine Catalog (1979) jokingly described as “a personalzine so confident of its limited appeal and exclusive audience that it doesn’t list the address in the zine itself…”
Andrus said in a comment here at File 770 he was a cancer survivor who underwent surgery in 2007.
For more than three decades his work appeared in print and online, from the Charlotte Austin Review, and Mystery News to The Thunder Child. He studied for a Ph.D in US history at the University of North Texas.
Andrus found a fannish home in the Classic Horror Film Board discussion forums. Known there as “oldmanster,” he left over 6,800 comments between 2005 and 2014.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- April 27, 1955 — The Devil Girl From Mars premiered. It was produced by Edward J. Danziger and Harry Lee Danziger as directed by David MacDonald. It was written by James Eastwood and John C. Maher It starred Patricia Laffan, Hugh McDermott, Adrienne Corri and Hazel Court. Critics in general called it a delightfully bad film with the Monthly Film Bulletin saying it was “Everything, in its way, is quite perfect.” The audience reviewers over at Rotten Tomatoes apparently don’t agreed as they give it a 22% rating. You can decide for yourself as you can see it here as it’s in the public domain.
- April 27, 1963 — The Day of the Triffids premiered in the USA. It was produced by George Pitcher and Philip Yordan, as directed by Steve Sekely. It’s rather loosely based on the 1951 novel of the same name by John Wyndham (who was toastmaster at Loncon 1) as scripted by Bernard Gordon and Philip Yordan. It starred Howard Keel, Nicole Maurey, Janette Scott, Kieron Moore and Mervyn Johns. Critics who were familiar with the novel weren’t terribly happy with the film. It currently rates a 52% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. Yes, it’s in the public domain, so you can watch it here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born April 27, 1901 — Frank Belknap Long. John Hertz say that Long should be singled out for the “To Follow Knowledge” novelette which he lovingly discuses here. I only add as John didn’t note it, that he received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 1994.)
- Born April 27, 1920 — Doris Baumgardt. Well-known and loved fan, illustrator and writer. She was a member of the Futurians, and a founding member of FAPA. She was also a member of the CPASF and the Science Fictioneers. She was one of five members of the Futurians allowed into the first World Science Fiction Convention by Sam Moskowitz — the other four were Isaac Asimov, David Kyle, Jack Robinson and Richard Wilson. She wrote three pieces of short fiction that were published in the Forties and Fifties; she contributed artwork to fanzines. (Died 1970.)
- Born April 27, 1922 — Jack Klugman. He was in an amazing four Twilight Zone episodes (“A Passage for Trumpet,“ “A Game of Pool,” “Death Ship” and “In Praise of Pip,” plus one-offs on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and The Outer Limits. Does Around the World in Eighty Days count as genre adjacent? If so, he was in the Eighties ministries. (Died 2012.)
- Born April 27, 1957 — Rachel Caine, 63. She has two ongoing endeavors, the Weather Warden series which is most excellent and the superb Great Library series. I can’t speak to the Morganville Vampires series as I don’t do vampires really. And yes, I know she’s got a number of other series, far more than can detailed be here.
- Born April 27, 1958 — Caroline Spector, 62. She was an Associate Editor at Amazing Stories for several years, but her main genre connection is her fiction in George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series where she has seven stories. She also a Shadowrun novel, Worlds Without End. (Now that was an interesting RPG!) she also has an essay, “Power and Feminism in Westeros” in James Lowder’s Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, From A “Game of Thrones” to “A Dance with Dragons
- Born April 27, 1958 — Jon Cassar, 62. Producer, The Orville. Not my cup tea but I many y’all love it. His director and producer genre credits are extensive and include Person of Interest, Touch, Continium, Terra Nova, Fringe, Human Target, Forever Knight and that’s not an inclusive list by any means.
- Born April 27, 1963 — Russell T Davies, 57. Responsible for the 2005 revival of the BBC One of Doctor Who. (A Whovian since the very beginning, he thinks “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” has the best dialogue in the entire series.) Of course he’s also responsible for Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures as well. (Need I note that the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot was his idea?) Oh, and a few years back, he produced A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
- Born April 27, 1967 — Erik Thomson, 53. Scottish actor who’s best remembered for being Hades on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Young Hercules and Xena: Warrior Princess. His first acting role was as an unnamed young man in the “By The Numbers” episode of The Ray Bradbury Theater.
- Born April 27, 1986 — Jenna Coleman, 34. Clara Oswald, Companion to the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors. She remains the longest serving companion since the series was revived. Genre wise, she was also Connie in Captain America: The First Avenger, and did voice voice work on the animated reboot of Thunderbirds Are Go. And yes, she showed up in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
- Lio discovers the challenges for vampires during the Covid-19 crisis.
- Marmaduke demonstrates how to achieve orbit.
(13) COMIC BOOK DIAGNOSIS. “‘This is beyond the Great Depression’: will comic books survive coronavirus?” – The Guardian goes looking for the answer.
…The comics world is now split between many have-nots and two very prominent have-alls: DC Comics and Marvel Comics, subdivisions of massive publicly traded corporations Disney (Marvel) and AT&T (DC), worth $192bn and $224bn respectively. Though Marvel and DC have taken a hit from the pandemic, they’re still so big that professionals and retailers look to them not just for guidance, but also for relief. DC has donated $250,000 to a charity for bookshops, and, for the first time since the 1970s, is allowing retailers to return unsold comics. A spokeswoman said the company was also assessing new ways to distribute comics to shops for mail-order and kerbside pickup programmes. The Guardian has also seen an email from DC sent to shops last week, saying it will start distributing comics through three new companies – two of which are reportedly run by retailers that directly compete with the shops themselves.
And Marvel has cut its editorial staff by half, according to a source familiar with the situation. A Marvel spokesman said the company would not confirm numbers, but that all the cut staff were furloughed, not laid off, and the firm would continue providing health insurance “for the duration of the furlough period”. Bleeding Cool also reports that Marvel has stopped work on at least 20% of its forthcoming books. However, it is offering some discounts to publishers
(14) SOCIAL DISTANCE MUSIC. “Hands Off: A 100th Anniversary Guide to Theremin Music” at Bandcamp.
The year is 1920. At a government-run think tank in Petrograd, a brilliant young Soviet scientist harnesses the power of something called the “heterodyne beat frequency” to create a mysterious-looking, antennaed box that creates a high-pitched wail, which intensifies when his hands come closer to it. This might sound like the plot of some sci-fi film noir, but it’s the real-life origin story of the device that bears Professor Léon Theremin’s name. An electronic instrument that you play without touching would seem like the quintessential axe of the virtual era, but 2020 actually marks the theremin’s 100th birthday.
“It’s an extremely simple concept,” says Steven M. Martin, director of Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey, the 1993 documentary that helped precipitate a renaissance for the enormously influential instrument. “The circuitry is very elegant. That was the basis for all electronic music up until the digital era. All [analog] synthesizers…were based on the same principle that Theremin pioneered.”
Originally, the theremin was seen as a sort of space-age violin, far more difficult to master than old-school instruments due to the lack of a physical reference point….
(15) EVERYBODY CHIP IN! The BBC reports “Belgians urged to eat more chips by lockdown-hit potato growers”.
Belgians are well known for loving chips (frites), often with a big dollop of mayonnaise, but hard-up farmers now want them to eat chips twice a week.
Romain Cools of the potato growers’ union Belgapom presented it as a matter of survival, as a major export sector fears ruin in the coronavirus crisis.
About 750,000 tonnes of potatoes are piled up in Belgian warehouses, as the lockdown has sent orders plummeting.
“Let’s all eat chips twice a week, instead of just once,” Mr Cools urged.
Since mid-March, restaurants in Belgium and many other markets for potato growers have closed. The cancellation of Belgium’s many spring and summer festivals has added to their woes.
Moreover, the international trade in potatoes has been hit. Belgium is one of the world’s top exporters of potato products, including frozen chips. It sends more than 1.5m tonnes annually to more than 100 countries.
One small bright spot in this story is that Belgapom will now deliver 25 tonnes of potatoes a week to food banks in Flanders – produce that will otherwise simply rot, Belgian media report.
(16) PINNING DOWN THE STORY. “HBO Makes ‘Hellraiser’ Series Development Deal; ‘Halloween’s David Gordon Green To Direct Early Eps” reports Deadline.
HBO has made a deal to develop a series from the classic horror franchise Hellraiser, with Halloween helmer David Gordon Green set to direct the pilot and several more initial episodes that brings to the small screen for the first time Pinhead, the iconic pincushion-domed villain who heads a group of pasty-faced villains sent from hell, known as the Cenobites.
(17) GRIM WONDERLAND. In “Book Review: Looking Glass by Christina Henry”, The BiblioSanctum’s Mogsy praises a collection of short fiction.
Novellas and anthologies? Typically not my thing. But since this collection was not only written by Christina Henry but is also part of her incredible Chronicles of Alice world, I knew I would make an exception. Looking Glass features four new stories set in the same universe as Alice and Red Queen, which reimagines Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland through dark horror lens. It is not a sequel per se, but seeing as this grim quartet of interlinked short tales serves as a continuation of the saga, it would be helpful to have read the previous novels.
(18) CLIPPING SERVICE. David Doering found this 1966 newspaper photo of one of my relatives using a remote banking terminal, arguably a forerunner of the ATM. Dr. Richard Glyer had a practice in Mountain View, CA. I think I met him, or for certain, his widow. She was a painter and my father had one of her landscapes.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Man 2020” on Vimeo, Steve Cutts explains why plants and animals are happy that humans are staying home.
[Thanks to Daniel Dern, N., Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Darrah Chavey, Francis Hamit, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day The Other Nigel.]