Gaiman On The Brain
Ever have a chance meeting with someone you respect and admire?
Now, I’m not talking about attending a Comic-Con in order to get an autograph from a celebrity you know will be there. That’s a great experience in and of itself, but a chance encounter brings with it the element of surprise.
Last month, my lady and I made our way to Boston for a rock concert. During the break between the opening act and the headliner, we made our way to the lobby for a quick drink and to stretch our legs. That’s when I nearly bumped into Neil Gaiman.
Had we spent even another second in our seats, the timing would have been off and Gaiman and his wife wouldn’t have been passing by us as we reached the top of our aisle. So what did I do when the British writer walked by, just inches in front of me? I shouted his name, shook his hand and told him how much I love his work.
That was the entirety of the experience. Just a quick handshake with him and Amanda Palmer. After all, they were there for the rock show – just as we were. And I didn’t want to be one of “those” people. You know the kind. The type who will hassle a celebrity in any given scenario, even when it’s evident the person doesn’t want to be bothered. But Gaiman and Palmer were pleasant as I hassled them. They shook my hand and I was on my way and they on theirs.
But on to this month’s column. And trust me, chances are I was going to kick it off with info about Neil Gaiman anyway, not just because I bumped into him in Boston. Or would I have? Hard to know for sure. I’ve got Gaiman on the brain.
Who is Neil Gaiman?
Chances are if you’re reading this column you’ve had to put up with me blathering about him before.
But Gaiman is an English author whose work includes the books “Neverwhere,” “American Gods” and the comic book series “The Sandman.” He’s also authored several children’s books, such as “The Graveyard Book” and “Coraline,” which was made into a film.
His writing has won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula and Bram Stoker awards as well as the 2009 Newbery Medal and the 2010 Carnegie Medal in Literature.
This June will bring the release of Gaiman’s first novel for adults since “Anansi Boys,” which was published in 2005. For that fact alone (nevermind that early reviews say it’s great), the release of “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” will be a big deal this summer.
Of course, with the release of a new novel comes a full book tour, and Gaiman just released the details of two dozen dates on his website the other day.
As is to be expected from a writer of his status, it’s a typical tour comprised of stops in big cities – with New York City, Saratoga Springs and Washington, D.C. looking to be the closest to us.
Gaiman says the current plan is to sign any copies of “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” on the stops, as well as one or two other things, depending on lines and numbers – though all that’s subject to change.
“I’ll also plan to sign as much as possible of what the bookstore has of mine when I get to each new shop, including many copies of ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane.’ So you can watch me read and do a Q&A and then take off if you do not want to wait.”
And yes, this will be Gaiman’s last U.S. book-signing tour ever.
I wrote about this fact a few month’s back when Gaiman broke the news that he’s ending
“They’re exhausting on a level that’s hard to believe,” Gaiman wrote on his website. “I love meeting people, but the sixth hour of signing, for people who have been standing in line for seven hours, is no fun for anybody. … So I’m going to make this tour the glorious last U.S. book signing tour, and then stop doing book signing tours for good.”
I’m not much of a gamer.
I played a lot of video games as a kid and teenager, but in recent years not so much.
I’ve got a Super Nintendo set up in my computer room and a dusty old Playstation 2 attached to my main television set.
Surprisingly, I’ve been able to avoid upgrading to a newer system in recent years, despite the attraction of the recent Batman “Arkham” games.
All that may change though with the release of a new video game this month.
I can’t believe it, but I’m feeling the itch to go out and buy not only a new system but also “Injustice: Gods Among Us,” the battle game between DC’s comic book characters.
Developed by NetherRealm Studios, the creators of the definitive fighting video game franchise, “Mortal Kombat,” this new DC-themed game will arrive in stores on April 16 for PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U.
Like Mortal Kombat, “Injustice” will feature one-on-one fighting, but the matches will be between DC characters such as Batman, Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn, Superman, Solomon Grundy, Green Arrow and others.
As a tie-in, DC is also releasing an “Injustice: Gods Among Us” digital comic book each week, written by Tom Taylor with art by Jheremy Raapack. The comic is a prequel to the game, and it tells the story of the events leading up to the new world situation in which the heroes find themselves facing each other to determine humanity’s future. A new chapter of the weekly comic will be released every Tuesday for $0.99, and every three digital chapters will be collected into print and available for sale monthly.
So now I’m faced with a conundrum: Buy a PS3 now and the game when it comes out later this month? Or wait until the PS4 comes out at the end of the year, when PS3 prices will surely drop somewhat?
A major event happened in the pages of DC’s Batman comic books at the end of February. Which member of the Bat-Family met his end in the pages of Grant Morrison’s “Batman, Incorporated.” Skip to the “Assorted Etceteras” section at the end of this month’s column for the answer.
With spring break and Easter last month, I was able to visit some out-of-town comic book shops that I don’t ever get to visit enough.
Books Galore in Erie, for instance, even though I stop in every so often, I rarely make it down when they have their attic open to the public.
On the last Saturday of every month, Books Galore opens the top floor of their building. It’s three full rooms of back issue comic books, all sorted and alphabetized perfectly. And the best part? When they open up that room of comic books on Saturdays? All those back issues are only a buck. That’s right, just $1.
So while I make it into the shop sometimes, the last Saturday in March was really the first time I’d ever been upstairs. Sure, the selection’s been picked through pretty good, but there’s still a ton of comic books worth looking through and priced at just the right price.
While visiting my dad in Newark, N.Y. on Easter, I had to try to swing by Newark’s little comic shop. Back when I was a teen, this was the place I used to pick up all Vertigo comics. The place is still there, but was closed when I stopped in on April 1. If you’re ever driving through the little town, swing down their Main Street toward the graveyard where next door sits a house straight out of the Adams Family. It’s in the owners’ home that they’ve dedicated the front room of the building to comics over the past many years.
Then there’s Wonderland Comics in Penfield.
I have a special place in my heart for Wonderland Comics.
It’s the first actual shop I remember buying books at when I was a kid. It used to be located in a little shopping mall, and I remember not only going to that mall to see Santa at Christmas, but, more importantly, getting to meet Spider-Man one time as a child at that old Wonderland Comics location.
I make it a point to visit the current Penfield Road location whenever I’m in the area. It’s a small little store, but there’s a lot of inventory in there. Every time I go in with a pull list, I’ve found more than I was looking for. They’ve got a lot of back issues, which makes it a nice shop to hit up if you need a specific issue of something or are trying to complete a collection.
The month of March brought us much news in the way of comic book movie adaptations. Everyone seen those two trailers for James Mangold’s “The Wolverine,” starring Hugh Jackman? Yeah, more Wolverine! And from the trailers, Jackman’s return to the role this summer looks epic.
The plot of the movie is said to be based on the 1982 “Wolverine” miniseries by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, which had the single X-Men character battling the Tokyo underground for the heart of his ex-lover, the daughter of a Japanese crime lord.
From the looks of the trailer though, it appears that this movie version ties in with the previous Wolverine solo movie and deals also with a way for the character to be “cured” of his powers.
Plus there’s a trailer or two out for the “Kick-Ass” sequel, but why are you reading this when you could be online viewing those trailers? Get to it!
Also, here’s a neat note, by my count this my 45th edition of “Nerding Out” here in The Post-Journal. Three more issues makes four full years for Nerding Out! And then two months after that comes the 50th installment! Just figured I’d make a small note of the coming milestones. Hard to believe so much time has passed by.
More from me in a month’s time, but first, in answer to this month’s trivia question: Damian Wayne died in the pages of “Batman, Incorporated” at the end of February. Damian Wayne is the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul and had been working as Robin for the last few years, first partnered with Dick Grayson (who himself was Batman at the time. Long story…). So whether you said “Robin” or knew it to be Damian Wayne, those are the answers to this month’s comic question.
Nerding Out With Nick Dean is a monthly column about comic books, movies and more. For more, visit Nerding Out With Nick Dean.blogspot.com.