Posted by Bob Greenberger on January 30, 2013
I wasn’t there in Detroit on January 30, 1933 when radio station WXYZ-AM first broadcast The Lone Ranger. Nor was I around during the 21 years the series ran on radio. Instead, I knew of the masked hero through the references in comics and television including Filmation’s animated Saturday morning series. By then, I somehow associated Gioachino Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” with the lawman. Then I found reruns of the 1950s TV show and thought Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels were cool.
It wasn’t until a Long Island radio station began running old time radio series each weeknight at 7 I the 1970s that I finally heard the source material. Fran Striker created a nice legend, perfect for radio with a limited recurring cast and plenty of sounds to fill the airwaves. Station owner George Trendle was among the many actors to assay the role of the Ranger although Brace Beemer’s voice was the one heard from 1941-1954 and thus the one we all know best.
Fred Foy’s voice welcomed us each night with, “A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty Hi-Yo Silver! The Lone Ranger! … With his faithful Indian companion Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early western United States! Nowhere in the pages of History can one find a greater champion of justice! Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear! From out of the past come the thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again!”
It remains one of the greatest series intros you could imagine, up there with “Space the Final Frontier…” and “Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!”
For a few years, I came to appreciate the Lone Ranger, the Shadow, Gangbusters, X-1 and other great programs, fueling my fascination with all things pop culture. I’ll admit the Shadow remains my favorite of the bunch, but the Ranger was right behind him.
While in college, there was The Legend of the Lone Ranger going into production and they caused quite the stir when they legally sued to prevent Clayton Moore from making public appearances in the black mask, preferring people get used to the new Ranger, Klinton Spilsbury. I couldn’t let that stand and wound up interviewing Moore by phone for a piece that ran in the Binghamton Sun-Bulletin. Moore kindly sent me a membership card to the National Society to Save the Lone Ranger, which I still possess. And I was the one to write Silverheels’ obituary soon after.
There’s a simplicity and nobility to the character which I have always appreciated and I am crossing my fingers that the best of Striker’s character will be found in the forthcoming Lone Ranger movie, you know, the one with Johnny Depp as Tonto.
Here’s a tip of the cap to the great rider of the western plains.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on January 28, 2013
My second personal contribution to the six eBook series of After Earth: Ghost Stories goes live today. Redemption tells a fresh tale about one of the six people who developed the ability to mask their presence from the alien predators called the Ursa. The ghosts are a significant element in the After Earth universe and these stories allow us to provide glimpses into what this world is all about before the feature film opens in June.
The official description tells us:
Anderson Kincaid was only seven when one of the monstrous killing machines known as the Ursa tore off his arm. It would have killed him, too, had a Ranger not sacrificed her own life to save his. Ever since, Anderson has wanted to be a Ranger. After years of relentless training with an artificial limb, his hopes are crushed the day Cypher Raige himself comes knocking—to explain the Corps’ strict rule against accepting applicants with prosthetics. His dream denied, Anderson joins the Civilian Defense Corps, only to find himself once again face-to-face with an Ursa. No savior in sight, he must rely on himself—and a power he never knew he had—to survive.
The book is available in a wide variety of formats via the Random House website so go take a look. My first effort, Peace, went on sale New Year’s Day and so far I have received a single piece of feedback, which was thankfully positive. I hope more of you try this one and let me know what you think.
Continuing the biweekly cycle will be two from Mike Friedman and well worth your attention as well.
For those who prefer to read their adventures in print, please note that the first three eBooks, two from Peter David and Peace, will be found in the prequel novel A Perfect Beast, by Peter, Mike, and yours truly, while the other three will be included in the After Earth movie novelization by Peter.
Meantime, the United Ranger Corps Survival Manual, which I wrote for Insight Editions, is off to press and is chockfull of information about the universe that will make it an excellent companion volume.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on January 24, 2013
I have always admitted I watch a lot of television, always have and probably always will. The exact nature of such fare has changed through the years but me and prime time go back a long way. Currently, there is something like 30+ series I watch which, thankfully, do not all run concurrently. I’ve long been a fan of the shorter seasons found on TNT and USA and expecting that to happen at the major level (and maybe the 15 episode just-concluded season of Parenthood is the beginning of such a trend).
Deb and I will often plop down on the couch and consume a few shows before going to sleep and invariably, we turn to one another and can predict the next line of dialogue or plot point. There’s so much formula being applied to these shows that we are far less surprised than we should be. We get frustrated at the predictability, preferring to see characters do something unexpected, but in character. A lot of this, I suspect, has to do with the shorthand used for characterization on shows that have well under 45 minutes an episode to make us care for the players and still tell a story. Look at Powers Booth on Nashville, for example. Or Gregg Henry’s Hollis Doyle on Scandal. Both are the villain and they get a lot of scenery to chew as a result, but you they are barely a step above the mustache-twirling bad guy from the silent film era.
I believe that a lot of the predictability to the stories we watch has a lot to do with the short amount of time allotted for an episode. But there is also a fair amount of lazy writing going on, as well. Many shows live and die by their formula (Law & Order, CSI, NCIS, even Castle) so enjoying them comes down to execution, casting, and performance. As a result, we pretty much can tell who is the culprit long before the lead players figure it out.
There’s tremendous pleasure when the characters surprise us without feeling wrong. Aaron Sorkin and Joss Whedon are the masters at this, followed by Shonda Rhimes. It’s why we still enjoy Grey’s Anatomy, adore Scandal, and anxiously look forward to S.H.I.E.L.D. next season.
A question to the television writers out there: how much is this predictability a result of the networks clinging to the Lowest Common Denominator thinking or the time constraints of the one-hour format?
Posted by Bob Greenberger on January 17, 2013
While I await the spring hiring season for teachers, I’ve been focusing a lot on my freelance writing life. Knowing this period of time was coming, back in October, in time for the New York Comic-Con, I began a regular series of contacts with people I have done work for and others I’ve always wanted to work for.
NYCC is not a good show for casual appointments but, instead, you need specifically target meetings arranged, preferably in advance, so you and your subject set aside time and are prepared for a conversation. The next step is the follow-up. Whatever is decided, you follow-up in writing, confirming your understanding of what was said and politely thanking them for the time, regardless of outcome.
At that show, one editor finally read a pitch and told me she liked it but didn’t like the artist attached. The agent said he had other artists. Since then, the editor has left her company before seeing the revisions from the new artist so we have to wait for things to settle.
I was up for one licensed job, something I was well-suited to write, but the licensee had author approval and nixed me. So much for that although the editor says he still wants to work with me.
I found out an editor at a book house was actively seeking material so followed up with a pitch and today he finally replied, saying thanks, but no thanks. That happens. A lot. So, I accept it and recognize it can always be done at Crazy 8 Press.
Meantime, editors I only waved to at NYCC I sent follow-up e-mails to in October with follow-ups either right before or right after the holidays. While there might not be anything today, you need that casual reminder you are still around, interested, and available. You never know.
What frustrates me, though, are the editors who never respond. These are people I’ve bought from. Who I’ve worked alongside. I’ve dined with and partied at conventions with. These are friends or friendly enough that one would think a one-line acknowledgement would be forthcoming. While getting some work would be lovely, I’d least like to hear back from them. One of the primary things I was taught and passed on to those I trained at DC was to always acknowledge the freelancer even if it’s a simple, “the package was received, haven’t looked at it but will shortly”. It gives us a sense of comfort.
As a result of such behavior, I find that I need to focus the coming weeks and months on two tracks. First, making certain I have applied to school districts via their websites so I’m in place when they are ready to hire. Secondly, I need to generate addition material on my own, for C8 so I have stuff to sell and a chance to find new readers.
I’m certainly not giving up on my colleagues and contacts in traditional publishing, but their silence speaks volumes.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on January 9, 2013
In the early days of comic book fandom, it took its cues from science fiction fandom since there was quite a bit of overlap. The early SF zines included names and addresses so as others began publishing, they knew where to find eager subscribers. The first pure comics zine, Richard Lupoff’s Xero, didn’t arrive until 1960 but it merely ignited a new wave of comics-only zines. By the time I discovered fanzines or 1960 or 1970, you sent some money and/or some stamps and they sent you a zine.
My best friend Jeff and I wisely took our meager allowances and one of us subscribed to Don & Maggie Thompson’s Newfangles and the other ordered Paul Levitz’s The Comics Reader. This way, we could share the only two authoritative sources of comics news. By then, we were aware that a growing back issue market was fueled by RBCC, formerly known as the Rocket’s Blast Comics Collector, but as its editor, GB Love’s health meant that venerable title had to end, the market for a publication for buyers and sellers remained strong.
Enter Alan Light, now a respected music writer. Back in 1971, he gave us The Buyer’s Guide for Comic Fandom , a weekly tabloid that was chock full of ads. Over time, though, Light added columnists, giving us something read between ads. Columnists begat news and news begat reviews and suddenly, The Buyer’s Guide became the source for information about comics post and present along with a handy way to order things of interest. Within a year it went from monthly to biweekly and the Thompsons brought Newfangles back, renamed Beautiful Balloons making the free paper a must read. Of course, with success came a demand for more content and in 1972 the paper went to a subscription model but no one complained. It had become too vital a source for information and collectors. As a result, it went weekly in 1975. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by Bob Greenberger on January 4, 2013
Like you, I’ve been following Kathleen David’s reports on Peter David’s progress since Sunday’s stroke. Now comes the appeal for help, finally something tangible we can all do. She wrote this morning:
Even though we have health insurance we have co-pays and the like. And since this stroke fell at the end of the year, we have all the new co-pays to deal with (I can honestly see those of you who have had to deal with this nodding your heads). And there are things that the insurance company just won’t cover (more head nodding). So we are at the beginning of what is going to be a very expensive year even though we are only 4 days in.
The most direct way is to buy his books from Crazy 8 or from Amazon or Barnes and Nobel websites. These are books that he gets the money from directly and the most per book. His currently Crazy 8 Books are
Pulling Up Stakes Part 1
Pulling Up Stakes Part 2 (Brand new)
This is one novel broken into two pieces.
Sick of vampire books? Movies? TV shows? Yeah. So are we. Sick of the entire unlife of vampires? Yeah. So is Vince Hammond. Unfortunately, Vince is in it up to his (wait for it) neck. Because Vince is a young vampire hunter who lives with his vampire hunter mother in an entire community of vampire hunters, who in turn are part of a cult of vampire hunters going back all the way to the French Revolution, which many believe to be an uprising of the poor against the rich but was actually a massive purging of vampires from the French nobility (hence the guillotine)
The Camelot Papers
A powerful ruler who’s considered by many to be simple-minded and vacuous and has serious father issues. A no-nonsense, polarizing woman who favors pants suits and pursues dubious agendas involving social needs. A remarkably magnetic leader of men with a reputation as a skirt-chaser. A scheming, manipulative adviser who is constantly trying to control public perceptions. A man seen as the next, great hope for the people, except there are disputes over his background and many contend he’s not what he appears to be.
George W? Hillary and Bill? Karl Rove? Obama?
Try Arthur Pendragon, Guinevere, Lancelot, Merlin, and Galahad.
Whatever you think of the state of today’s politics, The Camelot Papers shows you just how little matters have changed in the past thousand years or so. The Camelot Papers presents a fresh perspective on Arthurian legend by using modern day sensibility and combining it with a classic tale to bring a new insight into iconic characters.
The Hidden Earth Saga of which there are two published and the third is in the works.
Darkness of the Light (Book 1)
Height of the Depths (Book 2)
These are science fiction mixed with mythological creatures and the fate of the Universe hangs in the balance. Big epic sweeping books with those great characters that Peter is famous for writing.
There are Print on Demand for all these books if you want a paper copy rather than electronic. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »