Following the journey of award winning author, Alex Azar, as he travels the publishing world and all things interesting. To reproduce or publish any material found within this blog, please contact me at azarrising@hotmail.com

Friday, January 24, 2014

What I'm Reading Now 1/24/14 UPDATED

After reading several flops that I couldn't get past, or in some cases even up to, page 75 I was tempted to reread a book I know I like.  In the end I decided against this, and chose a book that was a recent addition to my list of to-read books, "Sandman Slim".  The premise seems promising enough to be worthy of doing a "What I'm Reading" post on it.  The main character, presumably Sandman Slim (odd name) is a magician that escapes Hell to exact revenge on the group of people that sent him there.  So basically this guy never died but was sent to Hell, finds a way to get out and uses magic (either he had it before or gets it in Hell (the description I read wasn't clear on that)) to kill a bunch of people, probably also magic users. Sign me up



Stay with me to see if I stay with the book, or tap out at 75 pages.
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And I finished the book.  Not because I enjoyed the book, or because it was written well, but I pretty much finished the book because it's the kind of book I should like.

It wasn't a bad book per se, but the major flaw with this was the author kept getting in the way of what could have been a very fun read.  Richard Kadrey, whom I had never heard of prior to this book but is apparently a decently well know author, has since written an additional four novels in this Sandman Slim series, with a sixth due out this year, so clearly there is a market for his writing.

However, I found he tried way too hard to not only make the main character cool, but also to come off as cool himself.  He went to great lengths to describe scenarios or action or even emotions in such a 'badass' way that it felt heavy handed.  It was a case of "the lady doth protest too much".  The more Richard tried to make Sandman Slim, or James Stark, seem cool or tough or badass it just felt like he was overcompensating for some flaw only he sees in the character.

Another thing that bothered me was the character's name, and the name of the book.  The main character, for much of the book, didn't want people calling him by his name, because with magic knowledge of someone's name is power.  I get that, it's a trope that works, and one that I agree with using.  My issue with it, is that he doesn't offer an alternative.  There are books/movies/shows where we don't know the main character's name and it's never used.  That's fine, but here we know his name is James Stark.  If we know it, it's not a mystery, and shouldn't be a major factor, however if you want to make something of his name, and it's not a secret, an alternative needs to be provided.

By now you might be wondering about the title.  The name Sandman Slim isn't mentioned until after halfway through the book, and it's a nickname that James Stark received while fighting in the gladiator arena in Hell.  Apparently, it means, or represents, 'the monster that kills monsters' or something to that affect.  The problem with this is, other than the fact it was mentioned so late in the book, is that a lot of characters know him by this name, but he never heard of it.   There's no logic in it.

All that said there is good in this book.  The premise is fun, even if Kadrey tries his best to kill all of it.  And although you never really feel or care of Sandman, it's enjoyable enough to watch him stumble through the mysteries before him.

There were two end scenes that are polar opposites.  In the one, the main character is talking to a doctor that knows more than he's let on in the beginning of the book.  And there's real emotion in the scene, and it's pretty intriguing, unfortunately it comes at the end, and is only followed by a worse scene where Sandman is approached by Lucifer himself.  It's established they have some history from Sandman's time in the arena, but Kadrey successfully crafted the most boring interpretation of the devil in all of existence ever... ever.  Why in the name of fuck's sake is the Devil borrowing DVDs? How do you make Lucifer, the Fallen Angel embodiment of all things evil, about as intimidating as a three legged newborn puppy?  Kadrey set himself up with a great way to end the book, and instead decides for the first time in nearly 400 pages to not try and be cool.

I shan't be reading the rest of this series, but am not disappointed I've read this one.

Writing this, has made me like the book even less, so my new rating is now...

Chapter 2 = One and done.  The book's premise showed potential, but the writing killed any upside before getting to the second chapter.



Reading this book I learned that Richard Kadrey suffers from an ability to execute, unless we're talking about actually executing any chance of writing an enjoyable story.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Creator Interview Pete Hernandez III

Not too long ago I had hosted an author interview for Ed Ahern.  I had enjoyed the process so much, that I decided to continue hosting interviews.  Today we have Pete Hernandez III creator of Company Man, and an all around good guy. (I'm hoping to butter him up for future collaborations...)  On to the good stuff.

Pete Hernandez III (who else would it be a pic of?)
AzarRising: There's a large cultural and national diversity in your work, was this something you intentionally pursued, or random happenstance?

Pete Hernandez III: Completely intentional. One of my main goals was to present ethnic heroes in situations normally reserved for white heroes but without being preachy. Most times when a comic tries to present an ethnic character, like a black hero or even rarer, a Latino hero, they take a very clich├ęd and uninspired approach. 


I wanted my heroes to be from different cultural backgrounds but not throw it in the reader’s face like “Hey, respect this guy because he’s Indian or Japanese or I’ll kick your ass!” 

I just want to write good stories with characters that aren’t all white. No offense.


AR: For your personal projects you seem to take all the responsibility on yourself (writing, drawing, coloring, marketing, etc) is there any one aspect you enjoy more than the others?

PH3: If I had to choose I’d pick writing and coloring. I’ve learned to respect inking and lettering A LOT and I enjoy penciling but adding the final touches and FX is always the most fun. It brings the flat film together for me.

Marketing is a pain in the ass and can bring on major stress. I do it all because I have no other choice at the moment. I’ve tried working with others in the past but most people talk a good game without knowing how to buckle down and get the work done. Everyone enjoys brainstorming and imagining what it’ll be like at a con and all that shit but I’m focused on getting the work done and partying later.

Way too many guys I’ve met know how to talk a good game but when it comes to hard work they fold like wet paper houses.

Star of Company Man, Nicholas Reyes
AR: On a similar topic of doing everything yourself, you've also at times collaborated with others.  Which do you prefer, creating an idea and seeing it come to fruition with your own two hands, or working with someone else and creating something you wouldn't have been able to do on your own, at least not in the same way? 

PH3: I love collaborating when it works more-so than working alone. I work alone out of necessity than desire. The trouble is, as I mentioned before, most people have a garbage work ethic and can’t carry their own weight. I have a house full of electronic distractions and know how to ignore them and dive into Photoshop.

Working with others can be exciting and fulfilling as well as healthier for the mind. My ideas come much faster when bouncing off of someone else.

AR: I think it's fair to say comics are a large part of your life, do you remember the first comics you read, or what comic it was that hooked you?

PH3: It’s hard to say but I think Ghost Rider and Daredevil were some of my first comics. As a kid I was drawn, like all adolescent boys, to the more violent stories. Back then, with the Comics Code of Authority in place, it was rare to find a comic where there was bloodshed or profanity. Blood, in fact, was always in black up until Frank Miller’s Wolverine mini-series where he got around the CCA by having the blood reflect in Wolverines eyes when he killed the master.

I’ve been reading comics for 30 years. Much less now than ever in my life but that’s personal. I just feel I’m seeing the same plots and gimmicks over and over, the same re-hashed storylines and the same cheap death tricks.

Comics look better now than ever before but writing wise, most of the stuff out there is whack. Still, I can’t stay away from the art and the rare well-written book. I’ll always read comics to a greater or lesser degree.

AR: When did you know this was your calling?

PH3: I always knew art was my thing, my reason for being, since I was about five. I drew on anything when I was a kid, from loose leaf paper to toilet paper. Nothing blank was safe from my scribbling. I never really thought of doing my own comics until about ten years ago. Up until then I freelanced all over the place; from Time magazine to Colgate-Palmolive to USA network and more.

At some point around 2003 I just got sick of busting my ass to make other people’s dreams come true and got serious about making my own worlds come alive. Telling my stories my way.

AR: You recently had an advertisement for your comic "Company Man" in a Native American magazine.  With the last name Hernandez its not the first venue one would think of.  Are you Native American yourself?  If not, how did you linking up with them come about.

Said Advertisement featuring Johnny Juice and a digital copy of Company Man
PH3: I’m Puerto Rican-American, that’s it. The Native mag thing came about because I did some work with a Native American record label a few months back, helping them find new talent and doing some graphics on the side. They offered me some adspace as a thank you.

AR: Personally, I'm still looking for a friend with a finished basement I can mooch off of, because so few of us in the arts are able to support ourselves with what we love.  Do you have a 'regular' job to support your art habit? 

PH3: I do freelance graphics for a living to compensate for not making a mill off comics. I write on the side for other outlets as well. I’d worked shitty 9 to 5 gigs most of my life until I got serious about freelance and haven’t worked a solid day gig since 1994. Don’t miss the office bullshit or the commute, just the steady bi-weekly pay but you have to lose something to gain something and piece of mind is worth more than any check I ever received in the past. I don’t have to get up at 5 am and spend the day taking shit from an asshole boss or dealing with insecure people looking to advance themselves by throwing me under the bus. Bad lunches, too much stress, bottled anger…nah, I don’t miss any of that. One of the most often expressed sentiments by people on their death bed is; “I wish I’d gone after my dreams and lived my life my way.”

When I die that’s one thing I won’t regret.

AR: Where can people find your comic?

PH3: If you have a Kindle you can go to Amazon via this link and grab a few issues http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00D5TGQ7Yv

Or you can go to my Company Man site and grab the issues for 99 cents each at www.companyman.goofeesnax.com

If you want to hire me for some work visit www.goofeesnax.com or friend me on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/petehernandezIII

I’m also on Twitter, though I don’t know why, @companyman01




A collection of the amazing Company Man covers Pete does himself



Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ongoing Giveaway









At this time, I'm still looking for new followers, so I've upped the ante for the race to 50.

Once I've reached 50 followers, all names will be entered into a virtual hat and 5 will be chosen at random.  Those 5 winner will receive not one but five anthologies I've been published in to date.


That's right, better than a $5 footlong from Subway, you'll receive five well crafted anthologies containing a tasting of yours truly.

Enjoy

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year: Same Excuses

I was never one to give much credence to New Year's Resolutions.  To me they seemed doomed from the start to fail.  If you need a resolution to save more money, you clearly have a larger issue at hand that's already out of your control.  You shouldn't have to rely on a particular date to begin a diet if you're not happy with your body.  And if you have to rely on a fake promise to yourself to be more productive with whatever it is that concerns you, your heart clearly isn't in it.

This is why I've never really made resolutions, and I'm not about to begin now.  But, however, nonetheless, anyhow, howbeit (didn't even know that was a word) I will make an attempt to write a new post every week. And not just for this year, but for as long as this blog is up (cue 52 week countdown for destruction of the internet)

Even though this is a free site, I feel you deserve a better, more consistent experience. I've already got the next two week's posts planned so that puts me ahead of the curve.

All that's left to say is; lose that weight, save that money, and do that work, and of course keep reading and as always enjoy it.