Posted by Bob Greenberger on September 30, 2011
I received a cellphone picture from my pal Paul Kupperberg earlier today, showing me copies of Spider-Man Vault in a Connecticut comic shop. The book was written for release last fall but for reasons beyond my knowledge, it was sold only in Costco during the last holiday season.
But now it’s available for one and all to enjoy.
Peter David wrote the bulk of the book with me as his ace researcher and writing some sections plus the captions. It’s a pretty spiffy book and was almost as much fun to work on as The Batman Vault. It would certainly be nice to have the chance to write more in this line of books from Becker & Mayer.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on September 27, 2011
Deb and I normally buy the large, 36 oz. bag of Eight ‘Clock Coffee French Roast at stop & Shop. We buy the whole bean and use their machine to do the grinding and all is well with the world.
Last Thursday, I went to stock up and noticed the shelving was all rearranged and not only was the desired brand of coffee missing, so was the grinder. I looked and looked until I decided to go find me a manager. Walking up to one, I said, “You have a tie on so you must know where things are.” I asked and he shook his head sadly.
Corporate decided to do away with the grinder. But they still sell whole bean coffee so this made no sense to him or to me. He suggested I mention this to corporate. That night, I went online, found their consumer input screen and wrote up a suggestion that ended with proposing that they make a change: replace the grinder and expunge the idiot manager who made the dreadful decision.
On Saturday, we returned home to find a voicemail from the local manager. He congratulated me on filing my complaint and I would be happy to know that the grinder has been restored to its place of honor.
Of course, the store still had no 36 oz. bag of French Roast in stock. I headed over to the other S&S in town and guess what? No grinder and no 36 oz. bag of French Roast. Foolish, foolish store.
Normally, having a brand spanking new Shop Rite in town would give me cause for hope but alas, their limited offerings do not include the larger (and cheaper) bags of whole bean coffee in my desired brand.
This is getting absurd. All I want is my nationally-distributed brand of coffee available for purchase and a machine to grind the beans. This should be a lot easier than it’s turning out to be.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on September 23, 2011
You’re probably wondering what’s going on. I’m certainly not blogging with my usual regularity. Well, the honest answer is: I’m busy. Really busy.
Five days a week I continue to do my internship at Darien High School, steeping myself in the environment. It certainly feels comfortable, especially the way faculty treats me as a peer and the students are getting familiar with my presence. It’s a tremendous experience.
Three days a week I come home from high school and switch from teacher to student, taking my final three graduate courses. They all come with reading and homework and that requires plenty of time.
On the freelance front, there’s all sorts of stuff going on. First, the Animal Planet graphic novel for Silver Dragon is nearing completion after numerous delays. It’s coming together nicely and should be a good looking book when it sees print a few months from now.
I have been invited to work with a close friend on a project and we’ve been hired to produce an outline and a sample chapter. He wrote the outline and I wrote the 5400 word sample chapter which he then edited and I revised, letting it swell to something like 6100 words. Now we wait and see what happens.
There’s another project that fell into my lap that has me tremendously excited because it’s right in my wheelhouse, but it comes with a ridiculous deadline that has had a few dominoes fall as a result. As soon as I can, I’ll be talking about this.
Some of the above means I’ve had to put aside my first Crazy 8 Press project but trust me, I can’t wait to get back to it.
The other dominoes that fell are local as I have had to step down from running the Democratic campaign for the townwide elections. I also stepped aside from running the literature committee. I remain a candidate for the Representative Town Meeting and, weather permitting, will spend part of the weekend hitting the streets.
All of this has put a tremendous amount of pressure on my time but its all worthwhile and satisfying work so it’s well worth doing.
As things continue to develop, I will happily keep you posted.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on September 18, 2011
This was the first full week of school in Darien thank to Hurricane Irene and Labor Day and being the beginning of the school year, I’ve had little opportunity to fill in for teachers but lots of time to observe them which has been lovely.
One such occasion had me watching a 10th grade class on Wednesday as the teacher walked them through Says/Does analysis. Using Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address as an example, she first played them an audio recording of the speech then broke the speech into component parts, explaining what phrases or paragraphs actually said. As that finished, she then showed the students the tactics employed by Lincoln to get his point across.
She then had the students work with an essay, taking the first few paragraphs and having them read aloud. Students were then prompted to identify what was being said followed by the ways in which the writer conveyed this to the reader.
Students were then paired up and given 3-4 paragraph sections for the rest of the essay to work on for presentation to the class. On Thursday, the class was dropped, and on Friday the teacher had a scheduled day out so I was on tap.
This was a tremendous opportunity since I was picking up right where the teacher left off and I was very excited at having the chance to teach a bit. I was to have them work in class on the final three paragraphs. I annotated the section for myself in the morning and then, as the final period of the day presented itself I took over.
I had built this up in my head as a great opportunity since it was my first real shot at teaching anything since the spring so was ultimately disappointed when the students did not react to me in the same way as they behave for their regular teacher.
Despite having a work sheet of terms and Wednesday’s practice, they still fell short in analyzing these final paragraphs. Hands weren’t going up to volunteer as I had expected and I had to actually call on students. At first, they found only two techniques employed for the three paragraphs whereas I had 4-5 per paragraph so I had to do some coaxing.
It was real teaching and a reminder that I have far to go.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on September 11, 2011
I had spent the weekend in Indiana at a Diamond trade show, representing Marvel Comics. I had stayed a day extra to visit with my sister and her family which meant I was flying out Monday night. Weather grounded the flight so I crashed at an airport hotel and was booked early the next morning.
We landed at LaGuardia around 9 a.m. and no sooner did we begin taxiing to the gate did everyone’s cell phone suddenly start ringing. All the phone messages were the same: “A plane hit the World Trade Center, call me and tell me you’re safe.”
I reassured Deb I was fine and grabbed my luggage and met the driver, ready to take me to Connecticut. He had the news on the radio and together we absorbed the horrifying events as they happened. From what I could tell, I was on one of the last, if not the last, planes allowed to land. We crossed the Whitestone Bridge just before the bridges were shut.
Crossing over the river, we both gawked, seeing the thick black plumes of smoke stain the sky. We listened as the second plane hit and then the Pentagon. Both driver and passenger sat listening in utter silence.
Deb, meanwhile, called the schools to get word to the kids that I was fine, since both knew I was in the air that morning. In her haste, she dialed the wrong middle school and the staff there didn’t seem to grasp the urgency of reassuring a young boy that his father was safe. When she got the right school, she also got a far more appropriate response.
I got home and we hugged tightly for a while before turning out attention to the television, watching in horror as the first tower fell. She was scheduled to fly that afternoon to Chicago but clearly, no one was going anywhere.
When I got to Marvel the next morning, everyone was still stunned. A day or so later, the entire staff was stuffed into a conference room and we were treated to a pizza lunch – quite the rarity. CEO Peter Cuneo, who never spoke to the staff, did. He had been in the service and recognized war when he saw it. His words were forceful and calming at the same time and the staff felt unified.
Joe Quesada had by then already committed to a project of some sort. He was already figuring out the fastest he could assemble something and get it out. He and Bill Jemas, then the President, reached out to DC, hoping the national need trumped corporate rivalry. Together, the comics industry could salute the fallen and the heroes, generating revenue for charities and standing side by side. As was DC’s wont, such alacrity was not for them. They wanted a more considered approach and weren’t rushing. Marvel went flat out and got their book out within weeks. DC’s two volume effort, produced with Dark Horse Comics, followed months later, emblematic of the industry at the time.
9/11 changed everyone in ways great and small. I’m in a high school with students who barely remembered what happened and are now old enough to process it. Lit classes read pieces written during that time and about that while social studies classes poured through the tributes and memorials trying to get a sense of what it said about the nation at the time.
Clearly, no one will ever forget who was lost on those four flights, or who died savings lives. I am also hoping that people remember the resilience seen in how the nation fought back, unified, against a common threat. We’ve rebuilt and we’re more vigilant.
I’d like to think we’re all stronger having collectively endured this tragedy.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on September 8, 2011
One of my oldest friends, who I haven’t seen in something like 30 years, dropped me a note a little while ago, asking if I was doing anything to mark the 45th anniversary of Star Trek today. Laura got me to thinking and while I wasn’t watching when “The Man Trap” aired, I caught on soon enough.
I’ve written often through the years about my early days with the television series followed by the cons, the comics, and novels so there’s little point in rehashing that stuff.
Instead, I have to admit, my affection for the series, characters, and concepts remain strong. I think it’s terrific to see how many people have posted on Facebook and Twitter about the anniversary, recirculating YouTube clips of varying quality.
These days, though, I feel a little distanced from the franchise. The revolving door editorship at Pocket Books has meant a concept of mine, that I was assured was at Paramount for approval, apparently never got out of someone’s inbox. Instead, the scientific principle I built the story around got co-opted by another author for a book that came out this year. No foul, the science is real and he got lucky to get through the labyrinth.
Similar efforts to write for IDW got as a far as a script only to see the project canceled when sales for the line fell and the artist hadn’t started work after six months. New efforts to pitch have gone to no avail.
Thankfully, Paul Simpson over at Titan’s Star Trek magazine has use for me now and then. The current issue, for example, has my overview of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s third season.
It’s not a conspiracy on someone’s part or bitterness on mine, but some sadness. I love writing the characters and I love writing about the show. I look forward to a change in the solar winds which will allow me to resume. Until then, I chuckle at every reference I catch on television shows (most recently Leverage, Suits and Warehouse 13) or in movies. It speaks to the enduring appeal of the series and is a cultural shorthand so many of us understand. The show has become permanently embedded in the fabric of American society and that’s a pretty rare accomplishment, usually reserved for literary giants, top 40 singers, and a handful of others.
I salute the show and remember that Gene Roddenberry’s concept for “Wagon Train to the stars” proved to be far more than that. Qapla!
Posted by Bob Greenberger on September 3, 2011
The Art of Howard Chaykin, a book I spent much of 2010 working on, is finally scheduled for release on November 29.
I’ve been anxiously awaiting this to hit the solicitations and lo and behold, here it is on Amazon. It will be listed in the September Diamond Previews, out later this month. Coming from Dynamic Forces, it’s a pretty package hopefully worthy of your $30.
Amazon’s description says, “Legendary for what he has done on the page and infamous for what he has said off it, Howard Chaykin ranks among the superstars of modern comics. In The Art of Howard Chaykin, go behind the scenes with the creator whose pioneering works include American Flagg! and Black Kiss, and experience the stories of his life as only he can tell them. Filled with no-holds-barred perspective from his longtime friends and colleagues, and featuring an extensive selection of artwork from throughout his career, including many never-before-published pieces from Chaykin’s own archives, The Art of Howard Chaykin takes readers on an in-depth journey from the 1970s to today with one of the medium’s great storytellers.”
The 12’ x 9” book is listed at 200 pages but one of the reasons it was delayed involved adding a signature of artwork, bumping the book to a hefty 240 pages.
While Chaykin is one of the best subjects to interview, his entire life and career have never been this fully explored. His thoughts make for fascinating reading as noted in the recently released Howard Chaykin Conversations, assembled by Louisiana State University’s Brannon Costello. My book is a warts and all look at the man and his work with Howard’s approval and involvement, so we’ve made certain the facts are accurate and the comments reflect his thinking.
The visuals came from a number of sources notably Tim Barnes, a Chaykin aficionado over in Europe. He also put me in touch with Joe Giella’s son Frank who possessed some early original artwork he lent us to scan for inclusion. Chaykin provided many images from his own files.
KC Carlson was my beta reader on this before Howard went over the manuscript and Howard in turn had it read by others, so we made every effort to get the facts right. Additionally, we’ll have the most authoritative index to his commercial artwork from the late 1960s through July 2011 so you can see the amazing range of subjects and publications.
Can you tell I’m excited to have this finally being released?
Posted by Bob Greenberger on September 2, 2011
With the clean-up from Irene spreading across the towns, school finally got underway in Darien yesterday. At least 30% of the students said they still had no electricity, some still had no water. Yet, they showed up, brightly scrubbed and ready for class. The fact that the building had power and AC probably helped the overall mood. Teachers were similarly eager to get the school year started, with no one really wanting to tack on days to the end of the calendar in June.
We had a delayed opening plus an extended homeroom so students could see a video broadcast and receive hard copies of their schedules. Based on previous experience, the Guidance office asked me and our new intern, Dan, to man a table with copies of the schedule for those who skipped homeroom or lost their copy between homeroom and first period. After an hour, and handing out fewer than ten schedules, we were dismissed.
I was given the chance to occupy a new desk this semester, a regulation-sized teacher’s desk further in the back of the faculty offices. I’m no longer a gatekeeper but now have a phone so the central office can find me. As a result, I spent some time yesterday cleaning it out and reorganizing it, keeping it generic enough for whoever gets the desk fulltime in the future.
The fun came when I got to observe four different teachers kick off the school year. Each was warm and welcoming, but all four worked very differently. Three worked through the roster to learn nicknames and a few had them do some ice breaking assignments to get to know the students. Since one teacher mainstreamed five seasons of Lost over the summer, she was inspired to have them identify themselves as what sort of person they would be on the island – leader, supporter, cheerleader, challenger – and what one object they would bring with them. Then they were broken into groups, one from each category, to compare objects and determine how they would actually be used on the island. A hammock, for example, could also double as a fishing net.
Only one teacher walked the students through the curriculum and expectations in the traditional manner, the one I imagined they would all use. That made me give some further thought to what I could do whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Today I’m covering art: graphic design and sculpture. I’ve been reviewing some handouts, letting do thumbnail sketches for their first assignment and watched as a class of freshman played with clay. It’s been good seeing them get right to work.