Journey Planet #82: “Be the Change”

By The Journey Planet Team: Paul Weimer joins Allison Hartman Adams, James Bacon, and Christopher J. Garcia in editing Journey Planet Issue 82 focusing on the future of the Hugo Awards.

Paul is one of a number of people who were treated appallingly by the Chengdu Worldcon, whose valid nomination was arbitrarily made ineligible by Dave McCarty under Ben Yalow, in the disastrous Chengdu Hugo Awards corruption of 2023.

The contributors to this fanzine consider what comes next: looking forward, looking at solutions, and sharing thoughts about how to move forward.

Hugo nominees, winners and stakeholders consider how to rebuild trust, honesty, respectfulness and question both what has occurred and what next. Previous Worldcon Chairs and future Worldcon chairs talk about their vision and share their positive hopes.

We know many fans already have thrown themselves into considerable amounts of work, ensuring the Hugos are spectacular. We’ve seen Glasgow 2024 work hard to be transparent and democratic, as evidenced by their Town Hall meetings, which show a level of engagement and consideration for finalists that is fresh and welcomed.

A number of these pieces will progress to motions as fellow travelers with similar sentiments are brought together at future Worldcons.

Mike Glyer, of the crucial fan news site File 770, a constant support to Journey Planet, filling our sails with wind, has agreed to share a selection of the articles with the community, and we look forward to seeing what interest there is in them.

Our cover image is of the “Tartan Rocket.” This was a Glasgow 2024 April Fool’s joke item, designed by Sara Felix. While this issue of Journey Planet is a serious one, we love and applaud the sense of fun and positivity that this ‘Tartan Rocket’ exemplifies. Our thanks to Glasgow 2024.

Paul wanted to focus on “What is to be Done,” a more productive approach than speculation on the whys and wherefores, and how important it is to ‘be part of the change.’ We are grateful to everyone who has contributed to the issue.

Letters of comment welcome to: [email protected]

Journey Planet 82 – Be the Change – Table of Contents

Page 3 – Vanilla Villain’s Variant Villanelle by Trish E. Matson
Page 4 – A Resolution by Chris J. Garcia
Page 5 – Be The Change, But Also Make Amends by Sarah Gulde, TAFF Delegate
Page 6 – Chengdu Proposal Series by Zimozi Natsuco / 短标题:成都提案系列
Page 28 – Boosters for the Rockets: A Formal Pastoral Care Procedure for Hugo Finalists by Alasdair Stuart
Page 31 – Make the Change by Randall Shepherd
Page 34 – Changes Needed for the Hugo Awards Process by Trish E. Matson
Page 36 – Suggestions by Chris M. Barkley
Page 37 – The Hugo Awards Crisis Deepens: Where We Stand and How to Save the Awards by Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together
Page 44 – Be the Change: For the Future of the Hugos by Paul Weimer
Page 46 – On Worldcons by Sara Felix
Page 48 – Tools, Spanners and a Gentle Tap by James Bacon
Page 50 – Be the Change by Marguerite Smith
Page 53 – Enditorial by James Bacon
Page 55 – On This Issue’s Art by Christopher J. Garcia

Pixel Scroll 6/22/24 A Multitverse Of Mikes Putting Out An Infinity Of Scrolls. Shall We Go Read Them? All We Need To Do Is Follow Pixel Through The Nearest Wall

(1) YOU PAYS YOUR MONEY AND YOU TAKES YOUR CHANCE. The Sports Geek proves to be rather clueless in its attempt to set the “2024 Hugo Awards Odds, Predictions, Best Bets”. But it made me click, which is a win for them, right? Here’s one of their lines.

The following Hugo Awards 2024 odds are courtesy of BetUS:

Why wouldn’t the front-runner among bettors be Vajra Chandrasekera’s The Saint of Bright Doors, which just won the Nebula? But for my own prediction I’m going with Emily Tesh’s Some Desperate Glory, partly based on the buzz, and partly my having read the finalists. (Actually reading the contenders – that’s cheating, isn’t it?)

(2) META ONLY RESPONDS TO A CREDIBLE THREAT. Engadget reports litigation that ironically explains “How small claims court became Meta’s customer service hotline”.

Last month, Ray Palena boarded a plane from New Jersey to California to appear in court. He found himself engaged in a legal dispute against one of the largest corporations in the world, and improbably, the venue for their David-versus-Goliath showdown would be San Mateo’s small claims court.

Over the course of eight months and an estimated $700 (mostly in travel expenses), he was able to claw back what all other methods had failed to render: his personal Facebook account.

Those may be extraordinary lengths to regain a digital profile with no relation to its owner’s livelihood, but Palena is one of a growing number of frustrated users of Meta’s services who, unable to get help from an actual human through normal channels of recourse, are using the court system instead. And in many cases, it’s working.

Engadget spoke with five individuals who have sued Meta in small claims court over the last two years in four different states. In three cases, the plaintiffs were able to restore access to at least one lost account. One person was also able to win financial damages and another reached a cash settlement. Two cases were dismissed. In every case, the plaintiffs were at least able to get the attention of Meta’s legal team, which appears to have something of a playbook for handling these claims.

Why small claims?

At the heart of these cases is the fact that Meta lacks the necessary volume of human customer service workers to assist those who lose their accounts. The company’s official help pages steer users who have been hacked toward confusing automated tools that often lead users to dead-end links or emails that don’t work if your account information has been changed. (The company recently launched a $14.99-per-month program, Meta Verified, which grants access to human customer support. Its track record as a means of recovering hacked accounts after the fact has been spotty at best, according to anecdotal descriptions.)

Hundreds of thousands of people also turn to their state Attorney General’s office as some state AGs have made requests on users’ behalf — on Reddit, this is known as the “AG method.” But attorneys general across the country have been so inundated with these requests they formally asked Meta to fix their customer service, too. “We refuse to operate as the customer service representatives of your company,” a coalition of 41 state AGs wrote in a letter to the company earlier this year….

(3) TESTING FOR EMPATHY. [Item by Steven French.] “The Stormtrooper Scandal review – inside the Star Wars art sale that wrecked lives” in the Guardian is a review of a tv show that aired on BBC2 (available via iPlayer) about selling images of customized Star Wars Stormtrooper helmets as Non-Fungible Tokens and my eye was caught by the opening paragraph:

Here’s a tricky ethical conundrum – how much can you command yourself to care about the suffering of a monumental dickhead? Do you say a breezy “Not at all!” and move on with your day? Do you say “I have limited resources and prefer to expend them on non-dickhead entities, ta?” Do you say “No dickhead is all dickhead, just as none of us is entirely free of dickheadery ourselves – thus our common humanity demands of us always a degree of empathy and compassion?” Have a think, then test yourself again at the end of 90 minutes of The Stormtrooper Scandal. Send the results on a postcard to the usual address…

(4) DIGITAL LIBRARY PULLS DOWN BOOKS AS LITIGATION CONTINUES. “Internet Archive forced to remove 500,000 books after publishers’ court win”Ars Technica is counting.

As a result of book publishers successfully suing the Internet Archive (IA) last year, the free online library that strives to keep growing online access to books recently shrank by about 500,000 titles.

IA reported in a blog post this month that publishers abruptly forcing these takedowns triggered a “devastating loss” for readers who depend on IA to access books that are otherwise impossible or difficult to access.

To restore access, IA is now appealing, hoping to reverse the prior court’s decision by convincing the US Court of Appeals in the Second Circuit that IA’s controlled digital lending of its physical books should be considered fair use under copyright law. An April court filing shows that IA intends to argue that the publishers have no evidence that the e-book market has been harmed by the open library’s lending, and copyright law is better served by allowing IA’s lending than by preventing it.…

… In an open letter to publishers signed by nearly 19,000 supporters, IA fans begged publishers to reconsider forcing takedowns and quickly restore access to the lost books.

Among the “far-reaching implications” of the takedowns, IA fans counted the negative educational impact of academics, students, and educators—”particularly in underserved communities where access is limited—who were suddenly cut off from “research materials and literature that support their learning and academic growth.”

They also argued that the takedowns dealt “a serious blow to lower-income families, people with disabilities, rural communities, and LGBTQ+ people, among many others,” who may not have access to a local library or feel “safe accessing the information they need in public.”

“Your removal of these books impedes academic progress and innovation, as well as imperiling the preservation of our cultural and historical knowledge,” the letter said.

“This isn’t happening in the abstract,” Freeland told Ars. “This is real. People no longer have access to a half a million books.”…

… Asked for comment, an AAP spokesperson provided Ars with a statement defending the takedown requests. The spokesperson declined to comment on readers’ concerns or the alleged social impacts of takedowns.

“As Internet Archive is certainly aware, removals of literary works from Internet Archive’s transmission platform were ordered by a federal court with the mutual agreement of Internet Archive, following the court’s unequivocal finding of copyright infringement,” AAP’s statement said. “In short, Internet Archive transmitted literary works to the entire world while refusing to license the requisite rights from the authors and publishers who make such works possible.”…

(5) GRIFTING FOR DOLLARS. Lucidity threatens “I Will Fucking Piledrive You If You Mention AI Again”. God this is witty – and very informative!

The recent innovations in the AI space, most notably those such as GPT-4, obviously have far-reaching implications for society, ranging from the utopian eliminating of drudgery, to the dystopian damage to the livelihood of artists in a capitalist society, to existential threats to humanity itself.

I myself have formal training as a data scientist, going so far as to dominate a competitive machine learning event at one of Australia’s top universities and writing a Master’s thesis where I wrote all my own libraries from scratch in MATLAB. I’m not God’s gift to the field, but I am clearly better than most of my competition – that is, practitioners like myself who haven’t put in the reps to build their own C libraries in a cave with scraps, but can read textbooks, implement known solutions in high-level languages, and use libraries written by elite institutions.

So it is with great regret that I announce that the next person to talk about rolling out AI is going to receive a complimentary chiropractic adjustment in the style of Dr. Bourne, i.e, I am going to fucking break your neck. I am truly, deeply, sorry.

I. But We Will Realize Untold Efficiencies With Machine L-

What the fuck did I just say?

I started working as a data scientist in 2019, and by 2021 I had realized that while the field was large, it was also largely fraudulent. Most of the leaders that I was working with clearly had not gotten as far as reading about it for thirty minutes despite insisting that things like, I dunno, the next five years of a ten thousand person non-tech organization should be entirely AI focused. The number of companies launching AI initiatives far outstripped the number of actual use cases. Most of the market was simply grifters and incompetents (sometimes both!) leveraging the hype to inflate their headcount so they could get promoted, or be seen as thought leaders1.

The money was phenomenal, but I nonetheless fled for the safer waters of data and software engineering. You see, while hype is nice, it’s only nice in small bursts for practitioners. We have a few key things that a grifter does not have, such as job stability, genuine friendships, and souls. What we do not have is the ability to trivially switch fields the moment the gold rush is over, due to the sad fact that we actually need to study things and build experience. Grifters, on the other hand, wield the omnitool that they self-aggrandizingly call ‘politics’2. That is to say, it turns out that the core competency of smiling and promising people things that you can’t actually deliver is highly transferable….


[Compiled by Paul Weimer.]

June 22, 1947 Octavia Butler. (Died 2006.)

By Paul Weimer: The first Octavia Butler story I encountered caused me not to read more of her work for over a decade afterwards.

The year was 1984. I was a young SF reader. Isaac Asimov’s SF magazine was one of the things I read as part of my SF education. June 1984 had a striking cover image for Octavia Butler’s story Bloodchild that drew my eye right away. I had to Know More!

But then I read the story itself. A hard-hitting Butler with an emphasis on biology, and the idea of human men becoming part of a life cycle of aliens’ breeding, I was, to say the least, a little traumatized at the idea of someone being a host for parasitic alien eggs! I got right away the parallels Butler was making and as a reader I was poleaxed.

I decided that Butler was Not for Me (or, Too Much For Me) and did not read her again for years. 

Finally, I was persuaded to give Butler another go, and I picked up Wild Seed. This experience was completely and rather different.  I was absolutely struck by the power and grace of her imagination, her consummate writing skill, and (yes) her ability to make me feel. I didn’t mind that I had started the series out of order, I was sucked in right away and was absorbed by the book, its pair of main characters, and the world Butler has made.

I then went on to other books in the Patterrnist sequence, the Parable novels, and in general, steadily consumed her oeuvre ever since. One of the best SF writers of all time? I don’t think that’s a stretch. Taken from us too soon? Absolutely yes, no question. (Recall that she won a MacArthur Award Genius grant, in addition to her SFF awards and nominations)

And yes, I have given Bloodchild another read…and yes, it STILL freaks me out. Some things never do change. 

While I think her Parable books are the most timely books for today (and the ones I would push into the hands of interested readers), my favorite Octavia Butler piece might not be a novel at all, but rather the short story “Speech Sounds”. It focuses on her biological SF concerns, describing the aftermath of a plague which renders nearly everyone unable to speak. For those who still can talk…life is not precisely pleasant in the post-plague Los Angeles. But the bonds and the character development and worldbuilding packed into the short space of the story show just what Butler could do as a writer.

For those interested, I recount in even more detail my experience with Octavia Butler and her work in an essay in the anthology Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler, edited by Alexandra Pierce and Mimi Mondal (Twelfth Planet Press, 2017). One of the weirdest things I’ve ever had as a SFF person is someone wanting me to sign my essay in their copy of the book. I attribute that to the power Octavia Butler has, not mine own modest talents.


(8) JOURNEY PLANET. Journey Planet’s Issue 82 – “Be The Change” is out. Fortunately, Chris Barkley thought File 770 would be interested in knowing.

Paul Weimer, Allison Hartman Adams, James Bacon, and Chris Garcia bring you a look at WorldCons and what things might be done to bring positive change! There’s discussion of the Recent Hugo Controversies, about changed needed in governance, proposals that will be sent on to the WorldCon Business Meeting, and much more! 

(9) UNDESERVED DOOM, THAT’S WHO. names “10 Doctor Who Characters Who Deserved Better Fates”.

…Doctor Who has a habit of giving viewers very sympathetic and likeable characters and then killing them off just as audiences have fully embraced them. This raises the stakes for Doctor Who fans, but it sometimes results in characters (particularly female characters) being killed in order to further the Doctor’s storyline and make them sad. Many of these characters got meaningful deaths, but there’s no denying that too often their deaths were more about the Doctor, or his companions or enemies, than truly about them….

Here’s one of the heartbreakers:

8. Chantho Never Got a Chance to Develop Past ‘Utopia’

Chantho (Chipo Chung) was an absolutely adorable alien woman. She had a fascinating quirk to her language where she had to say the first and last syllables of her name at the beginning and end of every sentence, and not doing so was like swearing to her. She and Martha (Freema Agyeman) bonded over this, and they could have had a great friendship if not for what happened next.

When kindly old Professor Yana turned out to be the evil Master, he killed the frightened Chantho with an electrical wire. She did, however, manage to get a shot off at him in her last moments, causing the Master to regenerate. It’s still a shame, however, that Chantho died, as Doctor Who has never had an alien companion like her before, and she could have been something intriguingly different.

(10) CHAPLIN, ALPERT, HENSON – WHO’S NEXT? Gizmodo alerts fans that “The Jim Henson Company’s Iconic Studio Is Now Up for Sale”. It’s a Hollywood property with quite a history. We hope it isn’t fated to be developed into another 600-unit apartment building.

According to a new report from the Wrapthe Jim Henson Company is selling its Los Angeles studio lot at 1416 La Brea Avenue as “part of a much longer-term strategy” to merge an undisclosed future location with its Jim Henson Creature Shop in Burbank, California. The building has headquartered the company since 2000, shortly after the release of the Sci-Fi Channel’s Farscape and Muppets From Space.

Before becoming ground zero for all things felt and googly-eyed, the historic lot served as Charlie Chaplin Studios from 1917-1953; it was then taken over by Red Skelton, whereupon it became the shooting location for multiple classic TV series, including The Adventures of Superman and Perry Mason. Grander still, the building went on to house A&M Studios from 1966-1999, where Nine Inch Nails recorded The Downward Spiral and U.S.A for Africa recorded charity single “We Are the World.”

(11) PLAYING TO SURVIVE. NPR witnesses “How a board game can help vulnerable communities prepare for catastrophic wildfires”.

As climate change increases the intensity of wildfires, experts are struggling to prepare vulnerable communities for potential catastrophes. One new approach is a community-wide board game that tests resilience….

KATHERINE MONAHAN, BYLINE: About 40 people are gathered in the Tomales Town Hall. They’re sitting around folding tables covered with giant maps of the region, and each map is a game board. The point of the game – to safely evacuate this remote area as wildfires threaten. First, residents calculate whether they start with a bonus or a penalty.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Do you have an evacuation plan?

MONAHAN: They add points for how prepared they are in real life, like by having a go bag of essentials or being signed up to receive emergency alerts on their phones. They subtract points for factors that could slow them down, like having extended family or multiple pets. Next, they choose their game pieces….

… MONAHAN: Maiorana says residents must think about these things ahead of time. It can mean life or death. Deadly fires have raged through California in recent years, including the Camp Fire, which killed 85 people in Paradise, another isolated town. Tiny, coastal Tomales has only two main roads in and out.

MAIORANA: My secret agenda with this game is actually to get people talk to one another….

(12) SPEAKER TO ANIMALS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] In this week’s Science journal there is an article by Carlo G. Quintanilla on how SF helped him become a better science communicator. He is a health science policy analyst at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. “Science and fiction”.

As I stepped out of the punishing Arizona heat and into the cool air-conditioned halls of the convention centre, I saw a sea of costumed attendees. Some wore elaborate steampunk attire; others portrayed their favourite Marvel or Star Wars characters. “Why did I agree to this?” I thought as I made my way to the room where I’d be giving a talk about the science behind the classic Dune books by Frank Herbert. I had been struggling for years to find new ways to communicate science to a broad audience. My hope was to inspire admiration and awe of what science can teach us about the world through the imaginative lens of science fiction. At first I felt like an imposter at this pop culture convention. Then I saw the audience’s excitement…

(13) LEST DARKNESS FALL. Henri Barde refutes the wonderful vision in “Space-Based Solar Power: A Skeptic’s Take” at IEEE Spectrum.

… Space-based solar power is an idea so beautiful, so tantalizing that some argue it is a wish worth fulfilling. A constellation of gigantic satellites in geosynchronous orbit (GEO) nearly 36,000 kilometers above the equator could collect sunlight unfiltered by atmosphere and uninterrupted by night (except for up to 70 minutes a day around the spring and fall equinoxes). Each megasat could then convert gigawatts of power into a microwave beam aimed precisely at a big field of receiving antennas on Earth. These rectennas would then convert the signal to usable DC electricity.

The thousands of rocket launches needed to loft and maintain these space power stations would dump lots of soot, carbon dioxide, and other pollutants into the stratosphere, with uncertain climate impacts. But that might be mitigated, in theory, if space solar displaced fossil fuels and helped the world transition to clean electricity…

…Despite mounting buzz around the concept, I and many of my former colleagues at ESA are deeply skeptical that these large and complex power systems could be deployed quickly enough and widely enough to make a meaningful contribution to the global energy transition. Among the many challenges on the long and formidable list of technical and societal obstacles: antennas so big that we cannot even simulate their behavior.

Here I offer a road map of the potential chasms and dead ends that could doom a premature space solar project to failure. Such a misadventure would undermine the credibility of the responsible space agency and waste capital that could be better spent improving less risky ways to shore up renewable energy, such as batteries, hydrogen, and grid improvements. Champions of space solar power could look at this road map as a wish list that must be fulfilled before orbital solar power can become truly appealing to electrical utilities….

(14) WHERE THEY’RE TUNING IN TO THE BOYS. JustWatch analyzed the reception of the latest season of The Boys to see how this release compared to the previous three seasons. They found that this season is the second most popular among global viewers, with season 2 ranking first in 89 countries on their Streaming Charts.

JustWatch created this report by pulling data from the week following the release of “The Boys”, and compared it to the previous three seasons. JustWatch Streaming Charts are calculated by user activity,  including: clicking on a streaming offer, adding a title to a watchlist, and marking a title as ‘seen’. This data is collected from >40 million movie & TV show fans per month. It is updated daily for 140 countries and 4,500 streaming services.

(15) OOPS-EL. “Billy Zane teases ‘Superman’ Easter egg in Marlon Brando biopic”Entertainment Weekly has the story. (Watch the Marlon Brando as Jor-El Superman outtake at the link.)

Billy Zane is set to play Marlon Brando in a new biopic — and the actor tells Entertainment Weekly that the project will briefly touch on the legendary film star’s time playing Kal-El’s Kryptonian dad in Superman.

In a conversation primarily focusing on his Lifetime movie Devil on Campus: The Larry Ray Story, the Titanic star reveals that he recently shot a last-minute addition to Waltzing with Brando. “We added this one little Easter egg for the credit sequence that we just shot a week and a half ago. That’s being color-timed and slotted in as we speak,” he tells EW. “Literally, we just added a little outtake as Jor-El — of him doing outtakes during the filming of [Superman]. We found that [footage] online and thought it was the funniest thing.”

The footage in question is a flubbed line reading from the 1978 superhero film, wherein Brando says, “Develop such conviction in yourself Alal, Kal-El, Ralph, whatever your name is,” forgetting the name of his on-screen super-son as he performs a dramatic monologue.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Andrew (not Werdna), SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 6/5/24 Call Any Pixel, Call It By Name

(1) DEPICTING CULTURE. Kanishk Tantia discusses the difference between using set dressing and true engagement in the representations of a culture at the SFWA Blog: “Culture: Moving Beyond Set Dressing”.

… But perhaps we can do better. I hope I have been doing better. When I wrote “I Hear the Starwhale Sing”, which was published in Canadian SFF magazine Heartlines Spec, I was consciously possessed of the urge to write something truer to my experience, something more genuine than a list of Indian foodstuffs to convince the reader they were in a diverse setting.

What does “better” look like? Let’s draw out the issues with the Rajpur sample above, and contrast what better replacements could be used.

First, there’s the shallowness of the writing. The passage above does not need to be set in Rajpur, India. It could take place on Mars, or in London, or Atlantis. The setting exists only for flavor and can be quickly hot-swapped out without changing what we have seen of the story so far.

Next, the simple goodness, or stereotyping. It’s a dirty word, isn’t it? Even positive stereotypes can be harmful. In the paragraph above, I elicit color, food, and smell, all in a positive way. But these are flashy tricks, forcing my reader to imagine richness and depth by drawing on their own biases about India rather than trying to show them something new or deeper. That’s what stereotyping does; it simply pulls from a reader’s existing bank of experiences, without challenge or comment.

Most egregious are the loanwords. And there are indeed so many. Sari, kachoris, modaks, gulab jamuns, beedi, Diwali. These are all Hindi words, but they are given no real meaning and treated as arbitrary objects. The cultural impact of these words is lost entirely, because they exist only to fill space and create an illusion.

Can we do better? Perhaps. Here’s another sample….

(2) MANIFESTO DESTINY. WIRED eavesdrops as “China Miéville Writes a Secret Novel With the Internet’s Boyfriend (It’s Keanu Reeves)”.

… My next question to Mr. Reeves was an innocent “What do you make of China’s politics?” Did the Internet’s Boyfriend fully understand, in other words, that he was partnering with China Miéville here? “I don’t really know his politics per se,” Keanu replied. He knew exactly what China’s politics were. As any interviewer would, I waited. Keanu then told me he had recently read, “and enjoyed,” the Communist Manifesto.

Whether he meant the short text by Marx and Engels, itself a commissioned project, a tie-in of sorts for the revolutions of 1848, or China Miéville’s most recent book, A Spectre, Haunting: On the Communist Manifesto, about the same, I could not tell. The ambiguity made me giggle. Sensing it well up in me like a sneeze, I muted the phone just in time. I was forming my own speculative fiction: Keanu Reeves as communist, the Engels to China’s Marx. I suppose this makes perfect sense. Because science fiction—the kind China Miéville writes, but also, maybe, all of it, the entire genre—is, or so the great critic Fredric Jameson tells us, bent toward utopia. Possibly even a communist one….

(3) WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE SKY. “Paramount, Skydance agree to terms of a merger deal”CNBC has the details.

A Paramount special committee and the buying consortium — David Ellison’s Skydance, backed by private equity firms RedBird Capital and KKR — agreed to the terms. The deal is awaiting signoff from Paramount’s controlling shareholder, Shari Redstone, who owns National Amusements, which owns 77% of class A Paramount shares… [National Amusements has movie theaters in the U.S., U.K. and Latin America.]

The agreement terms come after weeks of discussion and a recent competing offer from Apollo Global Management and Sony Pictures.

“We received the financial terms of the proposed Paramount/Skydance transaction over the weekend and we are reviewing them,” said a National Amusements spokesperson.

The deal currently calls for Redstone to receive $2 billion for National Amusements, Faber reported Monday. Skydance would buy out nearly 50% of class B Paramount shares at $15 apiece, or $4.5 billion, leaving the holders with equity in the new company.

Skydance and RedBird would also contribute $1.5 billion in cash to Paramount’s balance sheet to help reduce debt.

Following the deal’s close, Skydance and RedBird would own two-thirds of Paramount, and the class B shareholders would own the remaining third of the company, Faber reported. The negotiated terms were reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal….

(4) SF IN SF. Science Fiction in San Francisco will host readings by Robin Sloan, Rudy Rucker & Clara Ward on June 23 at The American Bookbinders Museum, 355 Clementina Street, San Francisco CA. Doors open at 6PM – event gets underway 6:30PM. $10 at the door – $8 seniors and students. No one turned away for lack of funds. CASH PREFERRED. All proceeds benefit the American Bookbinders Museum.

(5) JOURNEY PLANET CALL FOR ARTICLES. For the August issue of Journey Planet, Chris Garcia and James Bacon are joined by Jean Martin for an issue featuring food and drink in sci-fi and fantasy stories. 

Chris says, “A key part of worldbuilding is creating comestibles and libations that offer the audience an elevated sensory experience along with the characters. Share articles and artwork with us about your favorite made-up gustatory delights in novels, movies, etc. And if you know where to get them and/or have actually made them, let us know how they tasted!”

Submissions to [email protected]. Deadline – July 1.

(6) ONLINE FLASH SF NIGHT. Space Cowboy Books presents Online Flash Science Fiction Night with Eliane Boey, Jendia Gammon, and Jonathan Nevairon June 11 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free tickets at the link.

Join us online for an evening of short science fiction readings (1000 words or less) with authors Eliane Boey, Jendia Gammon, and Jonathan Nevair. Flash Science Fiction Nights run 30 minutes or less, and are a fun and great way to learn about new authors from around the world.

(7) TAKING GAS. Cora Buhlert was on the autobahn and filled up at Dammer Berge, the “service station of the future” (in 1969). Her encounter is part of Galactic Journey’s roundup “[May 16, 1969] Strange Dreams (May Galactoscope)”. Cora makes clear that the cuisine is not a reason to visit:

The structure is spectacular, a beacon of modernism, though sadly the food itself was rather lacklustre: a cup of coffee that tasted of the soap used to clean the machine and a slice of stale apple cake.

Cora then goes on to review Zero Cool, a pseudonymous Michael Crichton thriller from 1969.

(8) BLOCKED. “Franz Kafka letter shows author’s anguished struggle with writer’s block” – the Guardian has details.

A rare letter written by Franz Kafka to his publisher shows just how anguished a struggle it was for the Bohemian writer to put pen to paper, especially as his health deteriorated.

The letter, which will soon be auctioned, coincided with Kafka’s diagnosis with tuberculosis, which would end up killing him and which, scholars say, very probably added to his sense of mental paralysis and helplessness.

“When worries have penetrated to a certain layer of existence, the writing and the complaining obviously stop,” he wrote to his friend and publisher, the Austrian poet Albert Ehrenstein. “My resistance was not all that strong either.”

Undated, the letter is believed by scholars to have been written between April and June 1920, when Kafka was being treated for his illness at a clinic in Merano, northern Italy. Writer’s block famously haunted Kafka throughout his life but was exacerbated by his poor physical condition.

Neatly handwritten in polite, legible German, the letter is thought to be Kafka’s response to Ehrenstein’s request for the established author to contribute to Die Gefährten (The Fellows), the expressionist literary journal he was editing at the time. He had recently seen new work by Kafka in print, possibly his short story collection Ein Landarzt (A Country Doctor), written in 1917 and published two years later. But Kafka quickly disabused him of the notion that he was actively writing….

(9) WILLIAM RUSSELL (1924-2024). One of Doctor Who’s four original cast members, William Russell, has died reports the BBC: “William Russell: Original Doctor Who cast member dies aged 99”.

…Russell played schoolteacher Ian Chesterton in the first two series of the BBC’s sci-fi show and was the Doctor’s first companion.

He left the show in 1965, but in 2022 he reprised his role and made a cameo in Jodie Whittaker’s final episode, The Power of The Doctor.

The actor broke a Guinness World Record for the longest gap between TV appearances.

In the first ever episode, An Unearthly Child, which aired in 1963, Russell’s character meets the Doctor, played by William Hartnell.

Russell’s character mistakenly calls him Doctor Foreman, before Hartnell then replies “Doctor Who?”…


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

June 5, 1928 — Robert Lansing. (Died 1994.) Let’s talk about Gary Seven, errrr, Robert Lansing.

For us, his most important performance was as the secret agent Gary Seven on Star Trek’s “Assignment: Earth” in which the Enterprise ended up in the Sixties. His companion was Teri Garr. He was sent there by an alien race on a mission that he’s now afraid the Enterprise will compromise. And then there’s Isis, a shapeshifter who’s a black cat in one form. Nice kitty. 

Sources agree that this episode was designed at least in part as a pilot for a new series featuring Gary Seven and his mission. Trek was seriously on the edge of cancellation late in its second year, and Roddenberry hoped to get a new show going for the fall season, hence this episode. The first draft pilot script of November 14 of 1968 had no mention of Star Trek or its characters which suggests that this was not intended as an episode for this series at all. 

Robert Lansing as Gary Seven in Star Trek.

Indeed, somewhere there’s a draft of “Seven” as it was titled before that was revised two years after the first outline of what would become “Assignment: Earth” written by Gene Roddenberry and Art Wallace in October of 1967.  I want that script! 

Garr was quoted in a Sci-fi article about this episode: “Garr feared (correctly) that Starlog wanted to talk Trek and had to be persuaded to chat so as to promote her new flick. Warren sat down with her on the balcony of her publicist’s office for an in-person session and from there, things went sour. ‘I have nothing to say about it,’ Garr declared of ‘Assignment: Earth’ in Starlog #173. ‘I did that years ago and I mostly deny I ever did it.’ Turns out she was glad the Gary Seven show didn’t go to series.” 

Lansing did do some other genre work…

His major role was as Dan Stokely in The Empire of The Ants, he’s a charter boat captain in Fort Pierce, Florida. He’s a primary character here and is in almost every scene. 

Following up on that fillm, he has the lead role of Elias Johnson in The Nest where a small New England town is overrun by genetically engineered killer cockroaches. Ants.  Cockroaches. 

So what next? Crabs, yes crabs. In Island Crabs, he’s Captain Moody nearly ten foot long land crabs created by a biological experiment gone horribly wrong are killing everything in sight.

Oh he has other genre and genre adjacent  roles, but how can I not stop there? 

Well just one more as it’s a significant one — he was Commander Douglas Stansfield in Twilight Zone’s “The Long Morrow” where before leaving on a decades-long solitary mission to another system he meets a woman and they both fall deeply in love. But what kind of a future can there be for them in the Twilight Zone when he returns? 


(12) VANCOUVER COMICS FESTIVAL APOLOGIZES TO JEWISH ARTIST IT BANNED. “After backlash, Vancouver comics festival apologizes for excluding Jewish artist over IDF service” reports Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

A Vancouver comics festival apologized to a Jewish artist it had banned over her past Israeli military service and a Seattle museum announced it was recommitting to an exhibit on antisemitism that prompted a staff walkout, in two reversals of arts-world sanctions connected to the Israel-Hamas war.

Both the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival and the Wing Luke Museum had faced significant backlash over the actions they took because of pro-Palestinian activism. 

“VanCAF has lost and continues to lose the trust of many we have sought to serve,” the Vancouver festival said in a social media apology late Sunday, days after announcing that it was banning American-Israeli comics artist Miriam Libicki following activist complaints over her past IDF service.

The festival didn’t name Libicki in either its initial statement banning her — which it quickly removed from social media following backlash — or its lengthy new apology. But the ban referenced Libicki’s previous IDF service, which she has turned into a comic, while the apology referenced another specific work of hers: “But I Live,” a collaboration with Holocaust survivors. 

(13) FREE AT LAST. Here’s the complete article we linked in yesterday’s Scroll, except no paywall – yay! “Sci-fi pioneer Harlan Ellison’s L.A. Shangri-la offers a window into his complicated soul”.

… As Straczynski moves through the rooms of the house called “Ellison Wonderland,” his deep affection and respect for his friend remains evident. He points out the care with which more than 250,000 books are shelved, each hardback jacket fitted with transparent archival covers, the dust-free groupings of comic-book figurines, the room full of shelves specifically made to hold jelly glasses from the 1960s. He touches only the things he must, in order to make something visible, such as when in Ellison’s office proper he opens a tiny door in one of the Bram Stoker Awards given by the Horror Writers Assn. and takes out the mini plaque inside that holds the winner’s name and book title

Harlan Ellison’s collection of books and awards

(14) VERBAL CATS. This article is paywalled, but you can enjoy the excerpt. “Written by Paw” by Kathryn Hughes in The New York Review of Books.

Cats were not, historically, great talkers (unless you counted Siamese). For much of their existence they had not needed to be. Consigned to barns, kitchens and alleyways for centuries, their main communication remained mostly among themselves. Apart from the unearthly wailing of queens during heat, or the involuntary screech of a tom scratched during a fight, cats conveyed their feelings by a twitch of the tail, a flattened ear, a crouch to the ground.

Only in the nineteenth century, once cats moved to the city and started to bump into humans more regularly, did direct communication become necessary with greater frequency….

… For the more suggestible owner, though, it was possible to imagine a darker side to this newfound articulation. For if the modern cat knew its name and could ask for food when hungry, who was to say that, when your back was turned, it wasn’t gossiping about you? If you added the cat’s well-known fondness for sitting on tops of piles of paper and books, it was quite possible to believe that it was reading your diary or browsing your letters. Worse still, perhaps it was at this very moment jotting in its own journal or cogitating a literary masterpiece—and, again, it might be all about you….

(15) SELLING BOOKS IS TOO MUCH WORK. “Costco Plans to Stop Selling Books Year-Round” reports the New York Times. (Story is behind a paywall.)

In a blow to publishers and authors, Costco plans to stop selling books regularly at stores around the United States, four publishing executives who had been informed of the warehouse retailer’s plans said on Wednesday.

Beginning in January 2025, the company will stop stocking books regularly, and will instead sell them only during the holiday shopping period, from September through December. During the rest of the year, some books may be sold at Costco stores from time to time, but not in a consistent manner, according to the executives, who spoke anonymously in order to discuss a confidential business matter that has not yet been publicly announced.

Costco’s shift away from books came largely because of the labor required to stock books, the executives said. Copies have to be laid out by hand, rather than just rolled out on a pallet as other products often are at Costco. The constant turnaround of books — new ones come out every Tuesday and the ones that have not sold need to be returned — also created more work….

(16) KAIJU STAR. The Guardian investigates “How Godzilla Minus One became a monster hit for Netflix”.

…Godzilla Minus One is by no means an artsy slow burn; like the other titles on the list of the highest-grossing foreign-language films in US history, it’s accessible and entertaining. It’s about reckoning with postwar survivor’s guilt, and it movingly challenges cultural notions of what constitutes honor, yes, but it’s also about the half-terrifying, half-exhilarating vision of a particularly mean-looking iteration of Godzilla laying waste to anything in his path…

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, Chris Garcia, Joel Zakem, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]

Deadline for Journey Planet “Be the Change” Is Upon Us – May 17 

By James Bacon: The deadline for Journey Planet – Be the Change — is imminent, the 17th of May has raced up, and this is a last-minute shout-out to fans, to submit their pieces to [email protected]

We are looking for next steps, solutions, where we go from here, and motions to be brought to the WSFS business meeting. 

While reflecting on what occurred in 2023, we are looking to the future. There’s been a lot of Hot Air, and we are not interested in musings for the sake of it. But if you are involved actively with a current or future Worldcon, we do want your view as a person who makes this magic happen. 

We have a number of submissions, and welcome more, suggested motions with explanations for publication, and views from those who are involved actively with the Hugo Awards and Worldcon and want to share your view of the future.  

We are also keen to hear from current or past Hugo Awards finalists if you have some views on your experience that you wish future conventions to consider.  

We plan to republish all contributions on 

Please send submissions, and last-minute queries and so forth to [email protected]

Journey Planet 81: The Holocaust

James Bacon and Christopher J Garcia announce the publication of Journey Planet #81: The Holocaust, co-edited with Steven H Silver.

Built around the testimony of Steven’s grandmother, who lived in the Płońsk ghetto before her internment in Auschwitz and several other concentration camps, the issue looks at how her experiences have impacted four generations of that family, with articles Steven’s mother, who was a hidden child of the Holocaust, Steven, his sister, and wife, as well as his daughter’s discovery that not every family has the Holocaust in a central place in their story.

Other articles look at Russell Handelman’s own family’s experiences during the Holocaust, Mark Herrup’s father’s role in helping to liberate the concentration camps, and others, who may not have as direct a link to the Holocaust, write about living in its shadow. 

James Bacon, Daniel Kimmel, and Barbara Barnett explore the cultural impact of the Holocaust as seen in comics, film, and television, while Dina S. Krause describes the work she has done as a docent at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.

Atypical of Journey Planet, this issue also contains reprints of two short stories. Avram Davidson’s “What Time Is It?” tackled the subject of the Holocaust in the late 1940s as the devastating effects on family’s became known, and Michael A. Burstein’s “Kaddish for the Last Survivor,” originally published in Analog in 2000 and a Hugo and Nebula nominee.

The issue can be downloaded here.

Journey Planet won the Hugo Award for Best Fanzine in 2015.


  • Dedication
  • Introduction by Steven H Silver
  • What Time Is It? By Avram Davidson
  • Armenian Remembrances by Pat Sayre McCoy (Photo courtesy Forever Saroyan, LLC)
  • Testimony, Part I: Before the War by Sally Pitluk
  • Discovering my Family Tree by Steven H Silver
  • Memoirs of a Hidden Child by Sharon Pitluk Silver
  • A Visit to Knyszyn by Deanna Jacobson
  • Testimony, Part II: The Ghetto by Sally Pitluk
  • Faces and Names by Russell J. Handelman
  • A Meeting in the Cemetery in Łódź by K.G. Anderson
  • Testimony, Part III: Auschwitz by Sally Pitluk
  • My Father and the Holocaust by Mark Herrup
  • The Holocaust in Comics During World War II by James Bacon
  • Choosing to Testify by Steve Davidson
  • V for Vengeance by James Bacon
  • Holocaust on Film by Daniel M. Kimmel
  • Guarding the Streets of Gold by Susan Shwartz
  • The Holocaust in Comics: After the War by James Bacon
  • The Holocaust on Television by Barbara Barnett
  • A Trickle of History A Child of a Holocaust Survivor Writes a Holocaust Science Fiction Tale by Elaine Midcoh
  • Severed Inheritance by Jordan King-Lacroix
  • My Most Memorable Meal by Steven H Silver
  • My Reflections on My Visit To Auschwitz in November 2007 by Elaine Silver
  • Maus: A Journey by James Bacon
  • The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center: A Docent Eye’s View by Dina S. Krause
  • Popping My Bubble by Melanie Silver
  • Kaddish for the Last Survivor by Michael A. Burstein
  • Enditorial: James Bacon
  • Enditorial: Chris Garcia
  • Groucho Marx Dances on Hitler’s Grave – Art by Kurt Erichsen

Journey Planet Releases Issue #80

Journey Planet has released Issue #80, a one-page fanzine edited by Sara Felix, James Bacon, and Chris Garcia focused on the creation of the Glasgow 2024 April Fools Hugo.

The one-off Hugo was designed by Sara Felix and the sculpt was a joint effort between Sara and Vincent Villafranca. Sara and Vincent also designed the Worldcon 76 base together back in 2018.

The JP walks through the basics of where the idea came from and follows through the process.  After reading an article that appeared in the souvenir book for Noreascon 4 written by Peter Weston, Sara thought a tartan rocket was possible with the design and approval of Landing Zone Glasgow which Sara designed for the convention previously.

Sara says, “This design is dedicated in loving memory to Deb Geisler.  If it wasn’t Deb sending me a link to the article that Peter wrote I would never had the idea in the first place.  She was amazing and always a source of inspiration for me.”

The link to the Journey Planet can be found here.

Directions for folding the fanzine can be found here.

If you would like a copy of the small 2”x3” print of the April Fools Tartan Hugo it is on Sara’s ko-fi page.

Sara also produced a video about making the base: “April Fool’s! Sara Felix shares her creation process of a tartan rocket!”

Journey Planet Workers’ Rights Edition – Call for Submissions

By Olav Rokne and Amanda Wakaruk: If science fiction has siblings, one of them would be the labour union movement. Both are children of the industrial revolution, when technological progress was creating new types of work and new types of workers, forcing people to confront what that meant. Both are focused on the impacts of change and how we adapt.

From William Morris’ News From Nowhere to Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, the genre has played with what work means and how humans collaborate in times of change.

We invite people to explore the (sometimes troubled) relationship between labour and science fiction in an upcoming edition of Journey Planet.

We are interested in a range of topics in various formats, from broad issues such as the depiction of the management class in space opera, to more narrowly focused analysis such as how Star Trek: Deep Space Nine can offer a model for collective action, as well as the real-world practicalities of exploitative labour practices in fandom-related employment. Reviews, short essays, fiction, art — it’s all welcome.

With an anticipated publication date set for American Labour Day (September 2, 2024), we need to have your proposals submitted by May 30, with final copy to the editors due by July 15.

Yours in solidarity,

Olav & Amanda 

Contact us at [email protected]

Olav Rokne and Amanda Wakaruk.

Journey Planet Call for Submissions: “Be The Change”

Paul Weimer joins James Bacon and Christopher J. Garcia in a forthcoming issue of Journey Planet that focuses on the future of the Hugo awards, looking at realistic and achievable solutions to prevent a recurrence of what occurred in 2023.  

Button created by Brad Templeton’s ClariNet the day after a mixup in announcing a 1992 Hugo winner.

Paul is one of a number of people who were treated appallingly by the Chengdu Worldcon, whose valid nomination was arbitrarily made ineligible by Dave McCarty under Ben Yalow, in the disastrous Chengdu Hugo Awards corruption of 2023

This fanzine considers what next, looking forward, looking at solutions, looking to rebuild trust, honesty, respectfulness and democracy.

The editors welcome hearing from fellow fans who are keen to see through changes. To be part of the change, to help see it through. 

This issue will work to bring together ideas, and imaginative but manageable proposals that other fans can galvanise around.  

We know many fans already have thrown themselves into considerable amounts of work, ensuring the Hugo’s are spectacular, transparent and democratic with check points and if they have time, we will see what they too think, as well as seeking input from experienced practitioners, who are like ourselves appalled, but may have views on workloads and feasibility. 

Making the argument now is important, to ensure there is support, as fans will be at Glasgow in person, or have representatives, to speak for and vote on motions.    

There has been much hot air, obfuscation and silence. Figuring things out with the people who will have to work to deliver on any changes is vitally important. Moving notions and ideas forward needs the engagement and the views of those by all stakeholders directly impacted while welcoming all who from the community who wish to be part of the solution.  

While many parts of Fandom have had vast amounts of activity, discussion and engagement, we hope we can create a focus point for distilling these into potential motions and suggestions.  Contributions will have limitations in length, (1,200 words) and also contributors will be asked to state if they will be at Glasgow willing to put forward their argument. 

We will work to connect common ideas, to see if consensus can be formed, while also seeking an understanding of the mechanics required from a parliamentary perspective. We have planned with Mike Glyer to then publish the articles in order on File 770 for broader consideration and looking to galvanise consensus.

Paul wants to focus on  “What is to be Done”, a more productive approach than speculation on the whys and wherefores, and how important it is to “be part of the change” and we welcome that. 

Contributors are welcome to contact [email protected] 

Journey Planet 79: V for Vendetta

Journey Planet 79 — cover by David Lloyd.

Knowledge, like air, is vital to life. Like air, no one should be denied it. – V

42 years after the publication of V for Vendetta, so many of V’s sentiments, statements and ideas resonate with us today. Society and the world seems to be full of villains: right wing politicians banning books; the creation of divisiveness and hatred to distract from government and corporate incompetence and greed; international aggression, the sort that sees countries like Ukraine invaded; and the media ignoring the horrors that are perpetrated. Politics is nasty, and the balance is set against regular people.

We share awareness of the dangers and the ease with which the slide to totalitarianism can occur, while appreciating a story that shares what is an ageless concern, through the medium of comics so brilliantly portrayed, art creating thoughtfulness.

This issue of Journey Planet on V for Vendetta features an exclusive in-depth interview on the evolution of V and the role of comics in our society with David Lloyd, co-creator and artist of V for Vendetta. David’s insight and understanding offers a unique opportunity for readers of the comic as we also share considerable amounts of his art.

Discussions of the power of symbols to the role of feminism to comics as political commentary, and everything in between, added to articles on roses, trains, the film, and letters of comment on previous issues, well over twenty articles from a variety of fans and professionals fill the ninety-two pages, as we hear a variety of perspectives. 

Art by David Lloyd is accompanied by a piece by Steve Dillon, thanks to Steve’s family. 

This issue of Journey Planet is co-edited by Allison Hartman, Christopher J. Garcia and James Bacon as they revisit Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s landmark comic V for Vendetta and examine how the lessons still resonate in the 21st Century.

Journey Planet 79V for Vendetta is now available for download at: journey-planet-79-v-for-vendetta.

[Based on a press release.]

Creating the Watchmen Cover for Journey Planet

By Iain Clark: James Bacon at Journey Planet approached me with an interesting proposition: would I be interested in painting a new version of a Dave Gibbons Watchmen cover, for an issue of the fanzine dedicated to the comic, but with a twist?

This was a challenge, and to be honest, it wasn’t an automatic yes.

I’ve done a few covers for Journey Planet (issues 65, 69 and 74), not to mention several pieces for the Glasgow 2024 Worldcon including the BSFA award-winning “Shipbuilding Over the Clyde” (2020) and “Glasgow Green Woman” (2021).  But these were my own compositions, and I have no experience as a copyist.  Also Dave Gibbons is a world-renowned genius.  I, charitably, am not.

The cover was one of James’ favorites, the colors and contrast being to his liking and it was used for the Watchmen Portfolio, a huge 15.5” x 10” portfolio containing the French and US comic covers and the advertisements promoting that comic, produced in 1988.

Fortunately the cover is a clean graphic design with no figures in it.  I’m pretty good at replicating a reference photo when doing fan art, and this seemed achievable so I cautiously said yes, thus launching my career as an international art forger.

The original Dave Gibbons art

The ingenious twist for the Journey Planet version, suggested by Pádraig Ó Méalóid, was to have the famous smiley yellow badge upside down for use on the back cover (with the original art as the front cover); the idea being to imagine an alternate universe in which the badge fell, unnoticed, face down in the gutter and the whole sequence of events presented in the comics unraveled.

To complicate matters I was then asked if the final painting could still have the badge face up. As the face of the badge is very smooth, overpainting the smiley face over the reverse of the badge seemed impractical so I chose to start by creating as exact a copy of the original as I could manage, and then do the back of the badge separately to be added digitally.

The color balance of the various reference sources varied considerably.  I went with what seemed a good balance of the sources that drew out the subtle color differences in parts of the image (for example the purplish kerb and the slightly bluer drain).  Then it was a case of gridding-up the image, transferring it with pencils to stretched 250 gsm paper on a board, and getting to work.

That’s when the fun began.

I don’t know what scale or medium Dave Gibbons used for the original but as I’m primarily an acrylic painter that’s what I chose. I began by blocking in base areas of color onto my pencils

My copy at an early stage, with a print-out of the original art clipped to one side.

Once I had the color blocked in I started adding the texture and shade.  The more I worked the more it became clear that copying someone else’s art style is uniquely challenging.  Dave Gibbons had skillfully rendered the flowing blood in a distinctive, stylized way with detailed patterns of light and shade in the rivulets, and glints of light in specific places.  His image is no doubt a product of his experience, skill and countless spontaneous choices as he worked.  Rendering the blood in my own style would have been relatively straightforward.  Matching another artist’s tiny creative decisions was much harder, and a long way from intuitive. The reference images also varied considerably in the level of contrast which greatly affects how visible the blood textures and highlights become.

Acrylics are not the easiest medium to blend smoothly (my fault for choosing them!), so I used a slow drying medium, using several layers and some scumbling with the brush.  It took a lot of rework to create subtly blended acrylics which closely (but by no means exactly) mirrored the original.  Fortunately Mr. Gibbons’ style doesn’t show brush marks so there was no need to replicate that degree of spontaneity, but it was still a case of very carefully matching something that was originally far more natural.  The process was instructive, and I certainly gained a new appreciation for the incredible detail and mastery in the original art.

I kept adjusting as I went to match the shapes and textures of the original as closely as I could, for example adding a thin wash of scarlet ink at a fairly late stage to give the blood more lustre and saturation.  Again this is very much a judgement call as my reference images of the original varied from bright scarlet to deep magenta.

My copy nearing completion

The badge was its own challenge.  I nearly had a disaster when I tried to clean up a stray mark and ripped off a coin-sized chunk of the surface of the paper, right on the smoothest and least forgiving part of the image where there was no chance of adding texture to conceal the problem.  After a brief trip to the black abyss of despair and a short flirtation with the idea of throwing the painting out of the window I decided to try a very fine grade sandpaper and rich white gesso to rescue the painting and bring the surface of the badge back to smooth.  If I’d torn right through the paper you probably wouldn’t be reading this article.

Once I was happy with the painting I added a little “CLARK AFTER GIBBONS” to the bottom to keep me out of art prison, thus ending my career as an international art forger.

Finally I moved onto the back of the badge, which I did to the same scale as the rest of the image. Pádraig was able to supply photos of the back of his original badges from 1986 which was immeasurably helpful.  The direction of the pin was to match the “clock hand” blood splatter on the original so I made sure that the light direction matched the rest of the image, and that the tone of the yellow edging matched the front.  This was easily the most straightforward part of the project as I was free to make my own art choices.  I added one blob of Gibbons-style blood to integrate it with the rest of the image.

The back of the badge

I used Photoshop to add my reversed badge to my full painting, and did a bit of color correction to match the reference.

The final composited image.

All told this painting took me a couple of weeks around my day job. It was much more time consuming than I imagined at the outset because of the unexpected demands of matching another artist’s creative choices, but I’m quite pleased with how it turned out.

James and the Journey Planet team were delighted with the image, and so impressed and enthusiastic as James can be, that they asked to use the images for both the front and back covers. Michael Carroll worked up the sidebar logos in keeping with the original individual issues of Watchmen. The version with the upside-down badge went on the front cover with a yellow logo, and the image with the face-up badge went on the back with a green logo.

Ninety two pages of work from a variety of writers, fan and professional alike – with some fascinating insights – were sandwiched between these pieces when the team Jpresented the Fanzine to the world.

James then asked me if I would share my experience here on File 770.  I’m very pleased with how the cover turned out. This was a different kind of undertaking for me but that made it an enjoyable challenge in its own way, one that it stretched me as an artist in unexpected directions by forcing me to realize a specific effect.  I have very vivid memories of reading Watchmen when it was first collected (my elderly copy is the British yellow cover from 1987, 3rd printing). Even back then it had a considerable reputation and I gave it the close attention of a hallowed text.  I’m happy to have contributed my own little tribute with this cover and grateful to Journey Planet for thinking of me!