Yes, it’s that time of year again when a spotlight is shone on the problem of censorship in United States libraries and bookstores. (In other words, books banned by prudes who are out to “protect the children.”) To quote the Banned Books Week Web site:
Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982. According to the American Library Association, there were 307 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2013, and many more go unreported.
The ten most challenged books of 2013 include Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games trilogy (sex and violence), Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants (the new #1 banned book!), and Jeff Smith’s fantasy graphic novel series Bone (violence and…racism? Are you kidding me?!) For more information on this annual event, just click on Captain Underpants up there.
Banned Books Week 2014 is happening right now, September 21–27. How are you celebrating it?
Bad news, Pandora Zwieback fans, but I have to announce that StarWarp Concepts won’t be attending this year’s Brooklyn Book Festival. And yes, that means I won’t be there, either.
Long story short, from the Department of Too Much Information: On Friday, I got hit with one of my very rare eczema flare-ups (they usually pop up once or twice during the winter). To control the maddening itching, I slathered on hydrocortisone cream, as one typically does in this situation.
Guess what I’ve become allergic to, at this stage of my life?
The results have been…disturbing, to say the least. Swollen face, puffy eyes—I’ve been told I resemble Mickey Rourke’s character, Marv, from the Sin City movies. My doctor says it could take a week or two to completely get back to where I was before the flare-up, since the allergic reaction made things worse.
And so, to not frighten children or cause book lovers to run screaming in horror, I’ve pulled The ’Warp from the list of BBF exhibitors. But don’t worry, folks, I have every intention of returning for next year’s show…now that I know to stay away from the itching creams.
Sorry for the inconvenience!
As you may have heard, at this week’s Comic Con International: San Diego, digital comics distributor Comixology announced that they are making titles from certain independent publishers—including Image, Dynamite Entertainment, and Top Shelf—available as Digital Rights Media–free (DRM-free) PDF and CBZ downloads. (Marvel and DC aren’t on board with this yet, but who knows what the future holds?) In other words, you can now own the digital copies of the comics you’ve paid for!
That’s a great innovation (I’ve already downloaded some of the comics from my own account), but I’ve got news for you digital comics fans: StarWarp Concepts’ comics and graphic novels have been that way since we began offering them through our webstore and DriveThru Comics. The teen Goth comics The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0, The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1; the supernatural superhero graphic novel Troubleshooters, Incorporated: Night Stalkings; the mature readers miniseries Heartstopper: The Legend of La Bella Tenebrosa; the adult graphic novel Lorelei: Sects and the City; and the pirate fantasy one-shot The Chronicles of the Sea Dragon Special are all available for download, and are all DRM-free.
Visit each of the titles’ product pages for more information, including sales links and sample pages, and start shopping today, secure in the knowledge that the comics you buy from The ’Warp are actually yours to own!
If you’re a fan of comic books, or movies, or The Saga of Pandora Zwieback (and how could you not be?), Bob Larkin is a painter whose work you recognize immediately; he’s provided covers and movie posters for just about every publishing house and film studio for more than four decades. And if you head on over to the StarWarp Concepts blog, you can read a little write-up I did about this amazing artist and his equally amazing career, in honor of his 65th birthday.
Go check it out now!
A couple of years ago I made a few suggestions for books that Panatics might be interested in checking out: Stephen King’s ’Salem’s Lot, Cycle of the Werewolf, and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon; Charles Portis’s True Grit; Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes; Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange; and Giorman Berchard’s The Second Greatest Story Ever Told. You can read my mini-reviews here.
Well, with summer 2014 officially starting tomorrow, what better time for a new list of books you might want to consider? This one’s a little shorter, but they’re still good choices (in my humble opinion).
The Day of the Triffids, by John Wyndham: First published in 1951, it’s a fast-paced, enjoyable science fiction adventure that would seem to have been an influence on the quasi-zombie apocalypse film 28 Days Later (a patient in a hospital wakes up to find himself apparently the only unaffected person in a ravaged London). Except instead of zombies, you have carnivorous plants hunting a human population that’s been mostly stricken blind by the light of a passing comet. But as the lead characters quickly learn, it’s not the Triffids that pose the greatest threat, but the other unaffected humans…
Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin: The 1968 Mia Farrow–starring film adaptation is a horror masterpiece, and Zoe (Guardians of the Galaxy) Saldana starred in a 2014 television miniseries remake that was well received, but Ira Levin’s 1967 source novel is a brisk, entertaining masterpiece of its own. Rosemary and Guy Woodward move into an NYC apartment building with a long history of witchcraft and devil worship—and the current residents have plans for Rosemary… Apart from cultural references that firmly set the story in 1960s New York, the story remains as enjoyably horrific and humorously macabre as it did almost fifty years ago.
The King in Yellow, by Robert W. Chambers: This 1895 short story collection influenced not only writers like H. P. Lovecraft, Grant Morrison, and Stephen King, but also served as a major plot point in the first season of HBO’s acclaimed series True Detective, starring Matthew McConaghey and Woody Harrelson. The conceit is that The King in Yellow, a fictitious two-act play, drives people mad when they read the second act (which is never reproduced in the book). The first four stories in the collection are linked to the play. Download The King in Yellow e-book for free from ManyBooks.net.
And of course…
Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1: What, I shouldn’t plug my first Pan novel—on the very site dedicated to the series it’s part of? With its sequel, Blood Reign, soon to make its long-awaited appearance, this is the perfect time to catch up on the start of Pan’s debut adventure (if you or your book-loving friends haven’t already read it, that is). Warring vampire clans! Fallen angels! Monster hunters! Romance! Danger! Pick up a copy and find out why HorrorNews.net called Blood Feud “far and away one of the best young adult supernatural fantasy novels released in the last few years.”
So get to reading—and have a great summer!
Hey, there, lovers of genre television! You may be aware that tonight is the broadcast debut of Dominion on the SyFy Channel. A sequel of sorts to the 2010 Paul Bettany–starring film Legion, the series stars Christopher Egan and Anthony Stewart Head and takes place 25 years into an ongoing war between humanity and God’s army of angels. Well, if angels—either arch or fallen—are your thing, then perhaps we here at ’Warp Central can interest you in a tale of our own that involves those heavenly—and not so heavenly—messengers…
Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1 is the first novel in a series of adventures starring a teenaged Goth who has the power to see past the human disguises worn by the ever-growing community of monsters (vampires, werewolves, sirens, etc.) that exist in her world, and especially in her New York City hometown. Blood Feud sees Pan, along with her family and friends, get drawn into a war among rival vampire clans for possession of a rare antiquity: the remains of Zaqiel, a fallen angel who once tried to take over the world!
Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2 (on sale later this summer) is the second part of Pan’s epic adventure. Zaqiel is back among the living, badder than ever, and it’s up to Pan and her small band of angel busters—which includes her boyfriend, her best friend, and Zaqiel’s ex-lover, the immortal monster hunter Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin—to stop the fallen angel from leading his armies of horrors in an all-out assault on humanity.
Visit the Blood Feud and Blood Reign product pages for more information, including sales links and sample chapters.
This past weekend, StarWarp Concepts (and me, naturally) attended the second annual Eternal Con in Long Island, New York. Interested in finding out what happened? Then head on over to the StarWarp Concepts blog and read my show wrap-up!
Next stop on the StarWarp Concepts 2014 convention tour: the Brooklyn Book Festival, September 21 at Borough Hall Plaza, in Brooklyn, NY. See you there!
Thanks for stopping by the StarWarp Concepts booth this weekend, and for your interest in my Goth adventuress, Pandora Zwieback. If you’re here because you spoke with me, then go ahead and download the Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0 digital comic that I showed you; just click on the cover in the right-hand sidebar and save it as a PDF. Not only is it an introduction to Pan and her world, hosted by Pan herself, but it contains two sample chapters from her first novel, Blood Feud. Give it a read.
The Saga of Pandora Zwieback is the critically acclaimed story of a 16-year-old Goth girl who’s spent the last decade being treated for mental health problems because she can see monsters. It’s only after she meets a shape-shifting monster hunter named Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin, in the first novel, Blood Feud, that Pan discovers she’s never been ill—her so-called “monstervision” is actually a supernatural gift that allows her to see into Gothopolis, the not-so-mythical shadow world that exists right alongside the human world. But before Annie can explain further, Pan and her parents are drawn into a conflict between warring vampire clans that are searching for the key to an ultimate weapon (or so the legend goes)—a key that just so happens to have been delivered to the horror-themed museum owned by Pan’s father.
Pan’s adventure continues in the upcoming second novel, Blood Reign, in which she and Annie face challenges from not just vampires but legions of monsters led by a fallen angel—who happens to be one of Annie’s ex-lovers!
Also on sale right now is The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1, which features two brand-new adventures of Pan and her friends that are separate from the novels: a full-color comic story, in which Pan and her boyfriend, Javier, run into one of his ex-girlfriends…whom Pan can see is really a mythological siren that can enrapture men with its voice; and a short story that pits Pan, Annie, and Javier against a trio of Elegant Gothic Lolita vampires—in a shopping mall!
And please keep in mind that Pan’s publisher, StarWarp Concepts, is not just a YA fiction house. It also publishes illustrated classics (including J. Sheridan’s Le Fanu’s vampire romance Carmilla, the Brothers Grimm’s Snow White, and Edgar Rice Burroughs’s A Princess of Mars); graphic novels for superhero fans and adult horror aficionados; digital and print comic books; and artist sketchbooks. Give them a visit and check out all they have to offer.
Hopefully I’ll see you again on September 21, at the Brooklyn Book Festival. See you there!
The second annual Eternal Con starts on June 14, and StarWarp Concepts will be there! Artists alley is where you’ll find me promoting The ’Warp; as always, just look for the Pandora Zwieback banner. Also scheduled to appear, at his own table, is art legend Bob Larkin, cover painter of my Saga of Pandora Zwieback novels and spotlight artist of The Bob Larkin Sketchbook.
Eternal Con is being held at the Cradle of Aviation Museum, located on Charles Lindbergh Boulevard, in Garden City, Long Island. Show-floor hours are:
Saturday: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Sunday: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
For more information, including directions and how to order tickets, head over to the Eternal Con Web site.