Let’s get the news out of the way first.

1) I signed a contract yesterday. Kind of a big deal for me because it’s not something I’ve done very often. Last time was a story for Blizzard Entertainment, which actually has yet to be printed (meaning that it won’t ever be.)

2) It’s for a story titled “The Queen of No Tomorrows” which is a thing that I’ve referred to as with the code-name ABYSSAL. This name might or might not stick. The project itself has changed some since inception (which is a good sign, really.) The title for the story itself isn’t going to change because I’ve become quite attached to it.

3) That’s all I’ll be saying about this project until the story is done. My hope is that it will be substantially done in the next four weeks with plenty of time for revisions. This would put me well ahead of the planned schedule which is fine by me.

I’ve been doing a survey of neo-Lovecraftian literature and I thought that I had a lot to say about it, but as it turns out, maybe I don’t. I spent a lot of time reading it being constantly (well, almost-constantly) frustrated with any number of choices going on, slogging through to the end of stories that I didn’t enjoy or stories that weren’t even stories, each one adding fuel to the fire of what I was going to say about the whole sub-genre of weird fiction. It was going to be a roiling, raging thing, y’all.

And then I gave it some more thought.

And I let it go, like a practiced zen master might with regard to his worldly attachments.

And I felt better. A lot better.

Because, of course, the best criticism of limitations in a genre/mode, of course, is to write it instead how you would write it and not to bow to to expectation. Unless that’s the job. In which case, you take it as the job presents itself.

Seriously, I felt a lot better after embracing this conclusion.

And, to be honest, that issue was one that rested squarely upon just one guy’s shoulders. Me. Expectation, execution, whatever. My irritation with these stories (even when well-executed) lay solely with myself in thinking that they could address the kinds of things that I wanted addressed, that they would do things they way I wanted them done.

That, dear friends, is total folly, narcissist-level delusion. The only one who is going to address things the way you want, one hundred percent of the time, is you. Character, language, setting, even the dreaded “content”, whatever. That set of expectations lies with you. So instead of being angry that so and so wasn’t doing a thing I would’ve done, I should’ve been out doing that thing. Should be.

Understand that and you’ve got some freedom, or at least I do. I can only speak for myself. Everyone’s going to have their own way of doing things, their own process, no matter how addled it may appear from the observer’s standpoint.

So I let that all go, and I’m writing my own.

Two weekends ago, I was up in Portland, ostensibly for the Rose City Comic-Con, but really to visit folks and rummage through bins of old comics and eat schnitzelwiches (though not in the plural, for along that path lies madness.) All three missions were accomplished.

Rose City is an interesting show because it originally started as something completely different. Not too long ago (okay, almost ten years now), it existed as the Stumptown Comics Festival, which was held in the conference facilities of the Doubletree at Lloyd Center. Cramped aisles and the whole room would shudder a little at the passing Max line trains, but a great show. Very much an indie comics show, though you had lots of presence from studios like Periscope (now Helioscope) which embraces both mainstream and independent/artcomix artists.

But it was too small a venue. Or the show had too many artists. Whichever you choose to embrace. So the show migrated over to the Portland Convention Center, where for the first couple of years it felt like it was trying to fit into dad’s shoes. The hall was too big, too cold, too bright. Lots of the independent comix folks felt like they were being left behind and wanted a return to the old show (alongside concerns about expense and the door price eating into folks’ spending money). But instead of crumbling, the show hung on (and I’m pretty sure there was at least one change of management, perhaps two) and now RCCC is a pretty big, pretty busy show. Lots of quality artists and books to see.

Sure, there’s still a lot of indie art show stuff, a lot of two-things drawings, a lot of art that I wouldn’t give a second glance to. But that’s the same as with any comic show I go to these days. I’m sure it appeals to someone else, otherwise it wouldn’t be there. I don’t get mad about it (well, except maybe for the artists who do nothing but draw other folks’ creations and intellectual property but everyone has to make a living, right?) But I don’t have to be excited about it, either.

Bought a foot and a half of books, mostly trade collections of things that I’d have bought from a comic store if I had a good one around. The one I do go to only gets stuff I’m really into if I pre-order it, and I don’t. Mostly because it feels like homework. Mostly because I don’t know what I’ll be up for reading three months after purchase. I know. I’m part of the problem. Got it.

Got to talk to a bunch of folks who I only see a couple times a year now (don’t go to nearly as many shows as I used to, for a variety of reasons.) Met some new folks and even found some cheap old issues of ENEMY ACE for two bucks apiece, and that’s Joe Kubert art in there. A bargain at twice the price. Played some old video games, realized I still stuck ass at SINISTAR and always will, hung out at a barbecue where I mostly just hid upstairs and talked to a friend who has similar crowd issues as I do. I know, I’m supposed to network and when I try to do that, I turn into a gawky ten-year-old again and simply can’t. This is why I’ll never work in the business, right? Maybe I just need more ketamine in my diet.

Returned home after a long delayed flight and watching half of JAWS at Parker’s house and wish it was delayed long enough so I could watch the whole thing because damn that’s one effective movie.

Last weekend’s excursion to Los Angeles was under the guise of research and the Long Beach Comic-con. Mostly what I did was walk around and take pictures. Walking along Olive and Victory in Burbank, taking pictures. Walking around the purple neon of the vape shop at night and taking pictures. Walking around the abandoned Griffith Park Zoo looking for sacred geometries in the cage shadows, taking pictures. Stumbling through LBCC and only taking occasional pictures, but mostly hunting for old Gold Key comics worth paying sticker price for and encouraging friends to do the same. Didn’t stay for too long, just the afternoon, really.

LBCC is a show that’s had an odd transition. Once it was a Wizard World show, the only one for the LA area, and DC/Marvel used to show there (even when Marvel was rarely at big shows at all, back in the early 2000s). Now it almost feels like a local show, with I think Top Cow and Aspen being the biggest publishers with a booth presence. Lots of toys and such, but not the kind I’m looking for at this time. Which is almost no toys, really. Trying to de-clutter the office ahead of some renovations to the house.

Anyways, LBCC seems to have settled into a regional show status, which means it faces competition from a bunch of other, diversified offerings. I’ll probably keep going since it affords a nice excuse to get away for a weekend, but it’s not a show that I am actively looking forward to any longer.

And before anyone gets upset, I’ve done shows for long enough that my days of actively looking forward to them are pretty much over.

Had dinner with friends across from a freshly-restored Art Deco theatre, talked comics and movies and honestly I wish I had more friends up here in the sticks, but I knew what came along with this move when I undertook it nearly ten years ago.

Tried to sleep that night and couldn’t. Up at 4:45am and just packed up everything and went. Drove up to Griffith Park after doughnuts. Listened to a guy and his drone-operator DP talk out a shot which they then actually shot as the sun came up. Something about pterodactyls attacking a kid, they’d add it all in post.

Sunrise at Griffith Park, by the by, is spectacular stuff. Recommend you do it if you get a chance. If you get there early, you can even get parking. This isn’t a joke, either. Lot was full by the time I left at just after seven AM. Still, worth the effort.

Walked around downtown, past the LA TIMES building, past City Hall, to Olvera Street and Union Station, met a friend at Grand Central Market for lunch, walked around the Bradbury Building and the theatre district where I took pictures in dazzling sunlight (last year when I was there, it was all about the buttermilk sky and being obscured by clouds, which gets you very different results. Met another longtime friend for a rummage through the Last Book Store and coffee afterwards.

And like that it was time to get home. Time to start working on a thing. Time to count days. Time.

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