Retrieving Zeder from the K-Zone

This is a story of a cinema treasure hunt, and as such, may be a bit tedious to those outside the rather narrow confines of “Lost Italian horror films of the 1980s” fandom. But I suspect everyone loves a mystery, and I’ll do my best to make this one interesting. Right around the turn of the last century, I recall … Read More

What’s in a Name? Well…

A lot of times, my novels will be catch-alls for everything I find interesting about a particular topic. Burn Me Deadly, for example, deals with dragons, and Blood Groove with both vampires and 1970s culture. Usually by the time I finish, I’ve burned out my intense interest in a sort of positive exorcism that gets the obsession out of me … Read More

The Importance of the Right Feel

There’s an element of storytelling that’s seldom discussed, even more seldom taught or mentioned in reviews, because for the most part it’s objectively unquantifiable. It’s a story’s feel. And it’s become for me the barometer of pop culture properties that pass through many hands before reaching the public. I first became aware of it thanks to Batman. In 1989, we … Read More

Only Cowards Blame the Music

When I was a teenager, my parents banned from me listening to KISS. So of course I listened to KISS every chance I got. Their rationale: someone with religious authority warned them that the band’s name stood for “Knights in Satan’s Service.” The fact that they were men who wore makeup didn’t help. And in the deep south of the … Read More

The toughest girl in the Valley of the Dinosaurs

Since my daughter, age 7, is obsessed with dinosaurs, we’ve gone through every permutation of them we can, from the spectacle of Jurassic Park to the kaiju pummeling of Godzilla to the head-scratching WTF of Land of the Lost. And from my own long-ago childhood, I dredged up the Hanna-Barbara one-season wonder Valley of the Dinosaurs. In my memory, I’d … Read More

“Don’t you think I’m taking this really well?”

Recently filmmaker Lexi Alexander tweeted: “The ‘nagging wife of cop who‘s trying to catch serial killer’ trope has to die. Look…there’s no woman who prefers a serial killer roaming around if it means a few hours more with the husband. Doesn’t happen. Male fantasy.” I first encountered this trope at age 14, in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Roy … Read More

Chatting at the Bottom of the Lake

Steven Stack is an internationally-produced playwright for teens and middle-schoolers, and a full-time acting teacher for kids. He’s also one of my best friends, and he’s just published his first novel, The Bottom of the Lake. Here we discuss the fairly unique project of turning a play into a novel. Me: You’ve written many plays, so why did you decide … Read More

The Unexpected Return of Dakota North, part 2

In an earlier post, I talked about the Marvel comic Dakota North, which ran for five issues in the mid-80s and is now the subject of a brand new collection, Dakota North: Design for Dying. Now Dakota’s creator and writer, Martha Thomases, has been kind enough to talk to me a bit about Dakota’s origins. You wrote about the fashion … Read More

The Original Story about Mount Horeb’s Psychic Boy

When I wrote about this in an earlier post, I offered to post my transcription of the original newspaper articles, if anyone was interested. Thanks to all who said they were. Here you go. Wisconsin State Journal, Madison, Wis, Thursday afternoon, April 1, 1909 Headline: MT. HOREB MYSTERY STILL BAFFLING ALL EFFORTS TO SOLVE IT Sub-headline: Residents Divided on Question … Read More

The Unexpected Return of Dakota North, part 1

Addendum: R.I.P. Stan Lee.  The mid-1980s, when I was a serious comic book fan, was a great time for taking risks: it gave us Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, Watchmen, and Miracleman; Neil Gaiman’s Sandman; Frank Miller’s Daredevil and The Dark Knight Returns; and significant runs in all the major series, many of which have turned up as the plots of … Read More