Bookmark: The Walking Dead

Bookmark: The Walking Dead

I just saw that Goodreads has been bought by Amazon. I don’t know what to think about that, I haven’t been super-active on the site recently but if it’s all now going to be fodder for Amazon’s store, I suppose I will think about it in a different light.

But I digress from the zombies.  I just finished watching the Season 3 finale of The Walking Dead teevee series. I thought this last season was mostly really good. Probably the best season yet but regardless I think we can all agree that it was better than Season Two.

The comic book series it’s based on is up to issues 114. I read them in the trade collections which come out much later than the individual monthly pamphlets. I have read up to Volume 17: Something to Fear which is a whole lot of plot ahead of the teevee series.


The teevee series has made a lot of interesting choices that differ significantly from the comic books. It’s a different medium of course and a key difference is what the actors bring to the teevee series.  Teevee is a lot more collaborative than comics by necessity. But I also think Robert Kirkman who is both the writer on the comics and an executive producer on the teevee series is to be commended for not being too precious with his work. Most of the changes from the comic to the teevee show are a big improvement in terms of the choices and evolution of the characters.  Clearly some changes were made to provide new surprises and left turns to fans of the comic book but regardless of the motivation, they have been good for the characterization and the story.


I was also reading comics at the webcomic anthology site Thrillbent today — they did a funny parody of a recent episode of The Walking Dead and well, it gets sillier from there.

July 2014 Update:  I just read volumes 18, 19 and 20.  This Negan character is like an amped-up version of the Guv’nor I guess.  I guess it’s in the DNA of the comic to constantly need to build up battle, boogeymen and betrayals but it’s all feeling a little repetitive at this point.  August 2014 Update: Reading volume 21.

Walking Dead: All Out War Part One

August 2015 Update: Just read volumes 22 and 23 — kind of transitional moments as Carl grows up and the “whispering dead” are introduced.

September 2015 Update: Read Volume 24: Life and Death.

Posted by Xaviar Xerexes in Blog, Comics, Video, 0 comments

Bookmark: Faith Erin Hicks

I am a fairly big fan of Faith Erin Hicks’ comics. She got her start in pure webcomics but has since migrated to the webcomic collected into graphic novel approach. That approach is favored by several publishers now, including  her most recent publisher First Second Books.   She was recently interviewed on a Boing Boing podcast which is worth listening to.

A lot of Hicks’ work is all from her but more recently she has collaborated with other creators on graphic novels, including Brain Camp, where she provided the art to a story by Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan; and the very recent Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, written by Prudence Shen.

My first exposure to Hicks’ work was Ice, which is still not finished, a victim of her increasingly in-demand status for publishers’ projects. I have never read her freshman effort, Demonology 101 but have it on the to-read list.

I loved Zombies Calling, and enjoyed The War at Ellsmere. I never finished Friends with Boys so I’m rereading it right now.  I’ve also been reading the web serialization of Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong which will ultimately be published on paper later this year.

Hicks’ also snuck in a charming low-key comic called Superhero Girl that she started for a local newspaper but has since put on hold. I hope she is able to do something more with it at some point.


  • Demonology 101 (webcomic, August 1999 – June 2004)
  • Zombies Calling (November 2007)
  • The War at Ellsmere (December 2008)
  • Friends with Boys (February 2012)
  • The Adventures of Superhero Girl (February 2013)


  • Ice
  • Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong


UPDATE March 30, 2013:  I bought a copy of The Adventures of Superhero Girl published by Dark Horse this month.  Really nicely done edition — with the comics in full color (coloring done by Cris Peter) and an introduction by Kurt Busiek.

Posted by Xaviar Xerexes in Blog, Comics, 0 comments

Bookmark: Neal Stephenson

These “Bookmark” posts are useful for me; hopefully a few other people get something out of them along the way.

I really enjoy Neal Stephenson‘s books. Unlike Stephen King, another novelist where the length of the book increases with each new effort, I never read a Stephenson book and wonder how badly he beat the editors. Stephenson books revel in their research, the density of information jammed into the pages is part of what makes his novels work.

You can divide up the novels of Neal Stephenson into maybe three categories. Scholars and critics can tell me why I’m wrong but it makes sense enough to me.

First there’s his early efforts. I haven’t ready either of these two books: The Big U (1984) and Zodiac (1988). I’m not sure if they are worth seeking out or not. I haven’t had anyone tell me I must read them and a lot of people are aware that Stephenson is one of my favorite authors.

Second there’s the sort-of-cyber-punk era. He did come after William Gibson and Bruce Sterling who definitely have a period of work that defined cyber punk science fiction, but it felt like these two books from Stephenson had something in common with them.  Both Snow Crash (1992) and The Diamond Age: or A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer (1995) are fantastic books; I haven’t reread them in a long time so I’m not sure how well they hold up but their timing at the edge of the mainstreaming of the Web and the Internet and all of its possibilities could not have been better.

Last is everything else — which is my favorite period of his books.  Starting with Cryptonomicon (1999) and then moving into The Baroque Cycle trilogy: Quicksilver (2003), The Confusion (2004), and The System of the World (2004) — you see Stephenson applying the science fiction viewpoint to the span of history in a way that really brings the material alive. The Baroque Cycle in particular gives you an approach to historical fiction that really captures the amazing rate of change and the enormity of the future in those periods of time.  Science fiction from the perspective of the 17th to 18th Century.

Anathem (2008) is a shift back to more of a speculative future and includes a brillant bit of world building by Stephenson.  Reamde (2011) is maybe closest to Cryptonomicon in terms of one of his earlier works but narratively is perhaps the most conventional novel Stephenson has written.  Probably also the most purposely topical novel as well – although there are speculative bits in it, it is very much set in the present day and the present world.

I am reading right now his alternate fiction effort titled The Mongoliad which he is writing with others in a series of books.  I have finished part one and I am in the middle of part two.  I think part three just came out.  I am just reading them. I just didn’t have enough time to dive into the whole website, phone app–multi everything part of it that came first. (So was that any good? I’m not sure I know anyone who participating in it as it occurred.)  Still I might have a chance to experience more text plus efforts from Neal Stephenson since they are setting up an entire slightly-alternate universe to encompass The Mongoliad and likely other efforts at Foreworld dot com.

Posted by Xaviar Xerexes in Blog, Words, 0 comments

Bookmark: Cory Doctorow

I met Cory Doctorow once at a conference called Supernova in Washington DC back in the very early part of the ‘naughts.  It was actually about technology policy which is the fascinating thing about Cory Doctorow, talented and successful writer; he’s also quite an effective public advocate for a number of progressive 21st Century causes, including privacy and copyright reform.  He’s had an impressive public life.

It’s the books though where he has been able to wrap his ideas around and through interesting narrative; probably still the best way to get through to majority of the world.  I’ve read everything from him except his very latest which is Pirate Cinema.  I just finished his collaboration with Charlie Stross titled The Rapture of the Nerds.  I like Doctorow’s and Stross’ novels and while Rapture had some interesting elements in it, I thought it was a bit of a letdown for both of them.  1 + 1 = something just short of 2 here and certainly not more than 2.

Doctorow’s other novels include:

His last three are very focused on incorporating current ideas and a little less weird then the first three.  For the Win explores China and massively multiplayer online games (MMO) (it had some superficial topical similarities to Neal Stephenson’s very recent book ReamDe); Makers explores an extrapolation of the democratization of design and manufacture in the 21st century (along with designer drugs and body modification) and Little Brother deals with the new surveillance society.  I liked the flat out weirdness of Doctorow’s first third novel but I do think he’s moving in a great direction with his newer work and I continue to be a fan of the stories.

Anyhow, this post is a good reminder for me to go find a copy of Pirate Cinema.

March 2013 UPDATE: Finished Pirate Cinema. Quite good, even if the main character felt just a bit like a Mary Sue for an imagined young Cory Doctorow.

March 2013 UPDATE #2:  Just finished reading Homeland, the sequel to Little Brother which is actually newer than Pirate Cinema (one of the benefits of blogging is sorting that kind of stuff out).  Homeland, like it’s prequel Little Brother is discomfortable in its plausibility. It is not really set in the future so much as maybe next week.  And its mix of technology, authoritarian government and corporate control alongside its young protagonists give it a lot of punch.  I’d recommend both  books, certainly for highschool and up, not 100 percent sure about middle school kids, I guess it depends on the kid and the parents.

Reading Homeland was also entertaining for a long time Doctorow fan — you can read his books now with a Cory Bingo card — just put on it: coffee, Disneyland, chile peppers, linux, hacker, maker, and you’re bound to get a bingo while reading any of his books.

Posted by Xaviar Xerexes in Blog, Culture, Words, 0 comments
Bookmark: Locke & Key

Bookmark: Locke & Key

I’m reading “Clockworks” the 5th collection of Locke & Key, the incredibly high concept horror comic series from Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez.  A fun story but more importantly a fun gimmick that centers around the Locke family home (appropriately called “Keyhouse”) where there exist a growing number of magical keys that do strange, wonderful but weird and downright creepy things when inserted into the right lock.

Rodriguez’s art is almost always fantastic and adds a lot to the suspense.  Hill has a big imagination but it wouldn’t pack half the punch without the visuals.

And now just as with so many other great stories, I’m caught up and have to wait for the next release, just like everyone else.

UPDATE: Finished Volume 6 and presumably the end of the saga.

Posted by Xaviar Xerexes in Blog, Comics, 0 comments