warren ellis

Warren Ellis, Will Eisner, Gaiman, Wrightson, Grayson & Me by J.C. Hutchins

ellis_spread

As I pack for my upcoming move from Florida to Colorado, I'm discovering gobs of dusty items from Years Gone By, including newspaper and magazine articles I wrote as a features reporter. I recently unearthed a stack of Wizard magazines from the late 90s, stuff I wrote as an intern and freelancer for the publication (which covers the comic book industry). I recycled the magazines, but scanned some noteworthy stories to share with you here. In this PDF, you'll find an interesting look at the state of comics in 1998 and '99. Regrettably, I couldn't find the issue featuring my interview with Alan Moore -- but I was blessed indeed to speak at length with influential creators such as Warren Ellis, Will Eisner, Neil GaimanBernie Wrightson and Devin Grayson, whose stories you'll find here.

Talking to these folks was so cool. Ellis was as wily, depraved and effing brilliant as he is now. Eisner was a gentleman, absolutely worthy of the stratospheric regard in which so many creators hold him. Gaiman shared his love for Eisner's work in sublime ways. Wrightson was as down-to-earth and real as it gets. Grayson's enthusiasm for the craft was infectious. All were supremely patient with this then-twentysomething reporter as he bumbled through the interviews.

Writing for Wizard was one of the highlights of my entertainment journalism career. The writers and artists with whom I spoke were a Who's Who of the biggest and brightest names in the business then and now. I occasionally miss being a reporter -- particularly interviewing creative folks I admire, which happened daily when I worked with Wizard -- but am grateful to have met so many cool and ultracreative people during those years.

I hope you enjoy this peek into the work from my past profession, and get a kick out of these interviews.

--J.C.

What I'm reading. (And what are YOU reading?) by J.C. Hutchins

I'm never one to turn down a good writing challenge, particularly if it hails from one of my favorite bloggers. Lorelle's blog is inspiring because she offers practical advice about blogging and the online life. She also issues weekly blog challenges. This week's challenge is a must-participate for me: "Blog about what you are reading, what you like to read, and why."

I'm up to my eyeballs in good books these days. I'm coming down from a months-long fiction binge (more on this in a moment), so I'm currently enjoying some excellent non-fiction.

Reading serves two purposes for me: entertainment and creative inspiration. My mind rarely seeks out new ideas for my own novels/short stories when I read fiction; I'm there to escape. But when I'm questing for concepts to explore creatively -- either in my fiction or my in "zero budget" marketing adventures -- I dive into non-fic.

So. That recent fiction binge. What did it entail?

  • Rainbow's End by Vernor Vinge: Vinge is my favorite SF author; his far-future A Deepness In the Sky is so damned good, I wish I could read it for the first time all over again. Rainbow's End is a near-future story, and its world is meticulously realized. Sadly, I wasn't invested in the characters (and there wasn't enough conflict for my tastes), and I dropped it halfway through.
  • NEXT by Michael Crichton: A book that had a lot of potential, but felt more like a "101" on the genetics industry than a true narrative. Again, the characters and conflict weren't compelling enough for me to recommend it. Sloppy.
  • Planetary and The Authority by Warren Ellis: Killer epic SF thrillers by the wickedly subversive Warren Ellis. Yeah, they're comic books ... and they've got better pacing and character depth than most traditional novels these days. Highly recommended.
  • Garden of Beasts by Jeffrey Deaver: I'm an unapologetic Deaver geek; no one can bonk you on the head harder with an unexpected plot twist than this guy. Garden of Beasts is a fascinating look at Nazi Germany, just before World War II. Deaver deftly educates readers on the history and political climate of the era, and throws in an excellent assassination plot, to boot. Recommended, as are his Lincoln Rhyme thriller series.

But my belly's full of fiction for the moment (aside from some podcast novels, which are serialized and feel more like "shows" than "novels" to me), so I'm currently immersed in non-fic. It's all tickling my creative side something fierce.

  • Merchant of Death by Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun: Just finished this remarkable true story about Victor Bout, an infamous and reviled Russian black-market arms dealer. In addition to directly arming many of the conflicts in Africa for the past 18 years, he's also put guns (and rockets, and helicopters and frickin' jets) in the hands of Columbian drug lords, the Taliban and other slimebags. The most terrifying part: He's still doing it. Excellent read.
  • Join the Conversation by Joseph Jaffe: Terrific read for mainstream noobs (or know-it-alls) who don't know it all about social media, the speed of communication, and the connectedness of the online world. Jaffe's prose is punchy and mischievously irreverent, and the perspective he provides is an excellent resource for folks interested in diving into the soc.media space.
  • Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin: Another excellent marketing-related read for folks curious about the social media explosion. Godin speaks volumes with few words (a rare writing trait indeed), and offers intriguing insights for marketing folk who aren't grokking the conversations -- and opportunities -- found in the soc.media space. Currently reading.
  • Letting Go of the Words by Janice (Ginny) Redish: This isn't just a great resource for bloggers, podcasters and anyone who wants to effectively communicate on the Web -- it's a fun, spunky read. Redish provides great writing advice (and context for that advice) in a style that keeps my peepers moving. The very execution of the book proves that she practices what she preaches. Currently reading.

So those are the things on my plate these days. What about you? What are you reading? Talk to me in the comments! Share your recommendations with fellow JCH.net readers!

--J.C.