Stuff & Nonsense 004: Tangled Up in Blue

Before I dive into our regularly scheduled newsletter stuff, a quick headline...

I’m very excited to announce that I’ve signed a three-book deal with Polis Books!

The news hit today via Publishers Weekly (also in print on Monday), and I couldn’t be happier. The deal gives Polis rights to re-release my debut Miami crime novel, SILENT CITY, and launch two upcoming books, DOWN THE DARKEST STREET and DANGEROUS ENDS, continuing the series starring washed up journalist/reluctant PI Pete Fernandez.

This is huge news for me and I’m supremely honored to be part of the killer roster of crime authors Jason Pinter has put together at Polis Books.

Jason’s thoughtful, smart and inspired approach to publishing and his ability to nurture authors made Polis Books the ideal place to go with Pete, and I couldn’t be happier that his (mis)adventures have found a permanent home.

I feel like I’ve just been asked to join a championship team, and I can’t wait to line up next to some of the best writers I know (and some of my dearest crime writing friends), including Rob Hart, Patti Abbott, Bryon Quertermous, Dave White, Terrence McCauley, Jason Starr and more.

None of this would have been possible without my awesome agent Dara Hyde at the Hill Nadel Agency, whose even-handed and savvy approach to everything from book edits to publishing strategy made this a painless and amazing experience. Her passion for the work and her ability to determine what it would take to find the right home for these books proved invaluable. Thank you.

The publishing world rarely moves quickly, and I’m grateful for my colleagues and bosses at Archie Comics, my friends and my family for their help and support, which manifested itself in many ways.

I’d also like to thank Codorus Press and Wayne Lockwood for giving SILENT CITY its initial break and for being supportive and understanding throughout. I’ll never forget where Pete got his start.

Most importantly, I’d like to thank my amazing wife Eva for her support, love and guidance. I couldn’t do any of this alone.

I guess I have some writing to do!


OK, welcome back!

This newsletter isn't technically late, I guess. I purposely described it as "semi-weekly" when it launched, but I do feel bad that it didn't go out last Saturday. Then again, the one bit of feedback I've gotten from you, dear readers, is that - while entertaining - this newsletter does run a bit long. So, see? Life solves our problems for us!

I was in Portland for ComicsPro last week, a retailer conference where publishers (like Archie/Dark Circle) get to talk directly to key comic shop owners about what's coming up. It was my first such conference as an editor (I'd been to the show a few times as a PR guy), and we got some really strong feedback on the first wave of Dark Circle titles and the other stuff we have coming out in 2015.

This week, THE BLACK HOOD #1 came out. I know I've prattled on a lot about this, very much in PR-mode - because it's an important initiative for the company, etc. But it's also a huge thing for me, as it's the first comic I've ever edited, and that's been a dream since - well, since I figured out comics had editors. When I realized that there was a person in charge of hiring talent and pairing them together to make the comics I held in my hand, my mind was blown. Then I started to follow editors and creators. Oh hey, this guy, Bob Harras, he edits all the X-Men comics I read. Or, wow, Danny Fingeroth seems to have a good idea in terms of putting together a Spider-Man comic. Later on, I'd follow people like Denny O'Neil on the Batman books or Mike Carlin's lengthy run as Superman group editor. I have a very early memory - and I'm sad this document doesn't exist, lost in some computer updating - of crafting an epic Spider-Man reboot pitch from the POV of the editor. It covered the entire Spider-Man line, including a "Spider-Man: Year One" mini and new creative teams for Amazing, Spectacular and Web of Spider-Man. I had John Byrne stepping in to pull a Man of Steel-style relaunch on Spidey, a good decade before he actually did that with "Spider-Man: Chapter One" (much-maligned, but not nearly as bad as people seem to think), plus a bunch of other random stuff. I had Kurt Busiek writing something, too. I vaguely recall JRJR being tabbed as a regular artist (another precursor! Though, as most know, Romita Jr. did a lengthy string of issues of Amazing Spider-Man before moving on to X-Men and later Daredevil, where he adopted the style he's most known for). You get the idea.

I owe a lot to the editors I got to work with as a publicist - I learned from them, picked their brains and consider many of them friends. So, thanks to people like Karen Berger, Will Dennis, Mike Marts, Dan DiDio, Bob Harras, Matt Idelson, Bob Schreck, Sierra Hahn, Scott Allie, Mike Pellerito, Paul Kaminski, Mark Doyle, Stephen Wacker, Shelly Bond and more...the list is long, but thanks to them I got some kind of handle on this process. I think?

My point: This is something I've thought about doing for a long time. It's something I greatly enjoyed doing, and it was wonderful to work with a talented friend in writer Duane Swierczynski, an artist I've admired in Michael Gaydos (go read Alias, will you? It's one of the best crime comics of the last 20 years) and a great team of people at Archie/Dark Circle. I put a comic together. It is literally a dream come true, in a series of realized dreams that I'm really grateful for (see above). Give the book a shot if you like comics, crime fiction or are a fan of Duane and Michael's. I hope you like it. You can buy it at your local comic shop, digitally or subscribe at the Archie site.

I wasn't a very social kid. Spent most of my time indoors reading and drawing. My friends were Peter Parker, Scott Summers, Jughead, Wally West, Scrooge McDuck and Spock, to name a few.

Star Trek was a huge part of growing up for me. The optimistic future. The quest for knowledge. The acceptance of diversity. The fearlessness of moving forward.

Watching the late-night reruns of the original series became a weekly ritual. Eventually, I graduated to enjoying the ups and downs of the movies and seeing The Next Generation continue the saga. Along the way I collected boxes of tie-in novels and technical manuals that I read feverishly. I wrote a 200-page Star Trek novel at age 12. I was obsessed in the best way possible.

But I don't think I would have stuck it out if I hadn't stumbled upon "Amok Time" first - and marveled at not only this conflicted, nuanced and...emotional character with the blue tunic and pointed ears, but the man who played him.

Rest in peace, Leonard Nimoy.

Bits and pieces:

Of all the Harper Lee-is-not-fully-on-board-with-this-new-book stories, Neely Tucker's piece in The Washington Post is by far the best and extremely well-researched.

My friend and writer Jay Stringer was kind enough to let me and Scott Adlerberg crash his podcast, HACKS, not long ago. We talk about a lot of stuff.

My occasional interview series at Do Some Damage continues - this time with Laura Lippman, whose books I love and who I count among one of my major influences in terms of writing my own crime novels. Her latest Tess Monaghan novel, Hush Hush, is one of my favorites in the series.

I bought the first two volumes of Fantagraphics' great Don Rosa Scrooge McDuck strips for someone on their birthday and it got me to thinking about the work of Carl Barks and Rosa. This interview at The Comics Journal made me really curious about this bio on Barks. I don't have much else to add beyond that.

This story, about the daughter of the BTK serial killer, is a stunning 'long read." I hate that term, actually. It's a stunning story. Thanks to Sarah for the link.

What I'm Reading:

So many great books came out last week, including the aforementioned Hush Hush. Buy them all.

I feel like Duane has elevated his game on this one - and I already loved his books. Very much enjoying this.

I was turned off by the publicity surrounding this book, but at the end of the day, it's a new Richard Price novel - even if not in name. It's masterful, Shakespearean and one of my favorites this year. Listen to him talk about it on NPR's Fresh Air.

Almost as interesting as the new Jackson Donne novel by new label-mate Dave White is the story behind it, which Dave tells at Do Some Damage. I was happy to give up my usual Thursday slot there for this.

What I'm Watching:

We mainlined Bosch's 10-episode debut season over the holiday weekend. Started choppy, but by the fourth episode I bought into Welliver as Bosch. The show finds the balance between procedurals like CSI and meatier fare like The Shield. A place I didn't really know existed, or that I wanted to explore. A great cast, solid story. I was a bit tired of Jason Gedrick as villain by the end of it, but he was definitely creepy. Excited for more.

Not sure why I was watching the BBC James Ellroy documentary Feast of Death late into the evening before a 6am flight back to NY, but I was, and it was good. Running parallel to Ellroy's memoir about the reinvestigation of his mother's murder, Feast is hard to look at but equally hard to ignore.


All Sleater-Kinney, all the time. We got to see them at Terminal 5 this week and it was by far the best show I'd seen in the last couple years, and hands down the best at that venue. It's amazing how the new album fits so seamlessly into their catalogue, like they never left. This recent show via NPR will give you an idea what I mean.