Archive for March, 2011

Hooray for Fantasy

Recently it was announced that one of my favorite fantasy authors, George R. R. Martin, was going to release the latest book in his Song of Fire and Ice Saga entitled, A Dance with Dragons. I personally couldn’t be more pleased to see that he finally got around to continuing this series. I know, it was a very successful series, and I’m sure he’s been very busy, but for his fans, it was long overdue. The Fantasy community needed this.

That said, I owe George a world of thanks. He was one of my inspirations to get into the world of writing. A good friend and author of mine (no, not George) once told me years ago that it’s not good to read anything while you’re writing. The reason being, you don’t want to be influenced by that author’s style of writing. You need to have your own voice. Heeding his advice, I would only write in-between novels. This is far more difficult than you would imagine. Not writing while reading seems impossible, and it nearly is … if it’s the genre you’re writing about.

So, while George took his long hiatus between releasing books (A Feast for Crows was released back in 2005), I had plenty of time to write. Granted, I was reading, but it was more of the old classics. I read many different styles and authors from the past, ranging from Jules Verne’s A Journey to the Center of the Earth to Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. These were great authors whom I knew I had no intention, or desire of duplicating their writing style.

This is not because I thought they were bad writers, on the contrary, I think they’re some of the greatest authors I have ever read. The problem with their writing style though is that it’s from an older generation. It was a different time and they had a different way of writing. Long gone are the authors who spent paragraphs, if not pages describing or setting up scenes to their stories. That was the time of radio and it was critically important to describe what the listener should be imagining.

Now we have the Internet and 24 hour television. The generation of today is an impatient,  give it to me now audience, and I’m guilty as charged. Due to the success of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, readers no longer want fifty page chapters, they want five page chapters. They don’t need to know how the garden looks, they want to know what’s being said and done in the garden. Is it wrong? Not necessarily. It’s the result of getting anything you want at the click of a button versus having to wait for the release of news. People don’t want to wait, they want answers now.

Where does that leave me? Well, I’ll be frank, I’m as impatient as the next person, but I suppose I’ll have no choice but to wait until July for Mr. Martin’s latest release. Until then, I’m asking you for your help. I’m looking for the next great fantasy author to read. If anyone can recommend a fantasy author of this generation, who writes a fast paced, action packed story with great dialogue, please let me know. To the person who’s author appeals to me the most, I will send an autographed copy my novel Mayhem Fountain to their attention. So I say to you, my friends, suggest away.

Where Have All the Heroes Gone? Certainly Not on Television

Are you like me, always looking for that new, great superhero show that will capture and entertain you for seasons to come? If The Cape (NBC) is the best that television has to offer, then I suggest we keep looking. Why can’t television executives find a decent superhero program to air? Do they not understand their real audience? Is making a realistic superhero program too costly? Are good writers simply not available, or interested in writing these types of programs? Whatever the answer, fans of the comic book genre have been deeply disappointed with all the potential hits and misses that they’ve had to endure over the years.

Below, I’ve listed my Top 10 Superhero Programs that have aired on television since Batman entered the game in the late sixties. Although there have been numerous shows aired over this time frame, I’m only going to rate the shows I have actually viewed. My criteria are simple: either they had to be about a comic book superhero, or they must have possessed superhuman abilities. All cartoons were eliminated in this current ranking.

10 –  The Cape (NBC): Here today, gone later today. David Lyons stars as Vince Faraday a.k.a., The Cape. Have you ever watched a show so bad that you simply viewed it for the cheese factor alone? If so, this was that show. Another way of putting it … have you ever watched something so bad that you wished it to end simply because you felt sorry for it? Again, this was that show. The show was so bad that it couldn’t even last one full season. The season finale apparently will be aired on the Internet, not television … enough said.

9 –  Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (ABC): Starring Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher. The show did manage to last four seasons, running from 1993-1997, but if anyone viewed it in the hopes of finding some Superman action, they were in for a major disappointment. This show was based more on Clark Kent and his attraction toward Lois Lane than any kind of Superman adventure. Why they chose to go this route after all the hype surrounding the show was a bit of a mystery to me. When one reads a Superman comic, they certainly don’t read it for the adventures of Lois and Clark.

8 –  Smallville (WB, CW): See above, only a younger version. Now in defense of this show, it is the longest running comic book based series, now in its 10th and final season. Tom Welling stars as a young Clark Kent. Unfortunately, for me at least, this show chose the motto: no tights, no flight. Good for them, bad for superman fans once again. One viewing of this show was more than enough for this die hard superhero fan to never watch it again. Enough Lois and Clark, we already had Lois and Clark. Now we have them with pimples. They’re lucky they even made this list.

7 –  Wonder Woman (ABC): Starring Lynda Carter as the one and only Wonder Woman. The show only lasted 11 episodes back in 1976, but I guess when you’re competing against Charlie’s Angles, that’s a tall order. Don’t get me wrong, Lynda was easy on the eyes, but she was no Farrah. Who of us doesn’t remember those lightning fast, bulletproof wristbands, or her golden lasso of truth … good stuff. I wonder, if only she dated Clark Kent, she might have stood a better chance.

6 – The Six Million Dollar Man (ABC): Starring Lee Majors as Steve Austin. Ah, the bionic man. This one, although maybe not your typical superhero, was a lot like Iron Man to me. Who can forget that famous wah – wah -wah – wah – wah noise he made whenever he had to use his super human strength? I still hear it in my head right now. I’ll never forget how jealous I was of him when I heard he married Farrah (see above).

5 – The Tick (Fox): The non-animated show first aired back in 2001 and starred Puddy, er, Patrick Warburton, as the Tick. I personally loved the animated series and had a lot of high hopes for this one. Unfortunately, the program was never as funny as its animated partner and the show never really took off. I think most people thought Puddy, er, Patrick would have looked better dressed as Superman than a Tick. Hey, maybe he should have dated Lois … never mind.

4 –  The Greatest American Hero (ABC): William Katt played Ralph Hinkley, a reluctant superhero that received his super powers from an alien suit he managed to lose the instructions to operate. The show aired back in 1981-1983, or 2 full season. I both loved and hated this show. As a kid I used to be teased for looking like this guy, which at first I didn’t understand. I thought it was pretty cool to look like a superhero. Then I found out how much of a buffoon he really was. I loved the theme song.  Believe it or not … I bet your singing this song right now, aren’t you.

3 –  The Incredible Hulk (CBS): Speaking of theme songs, who among us didn’t get depressed listening to the goodbye theme as you watched Bill Bixby hitching his way out of town after his counterpart, The Hulk, managed to destroy yet another happy home. Thanks Hulk, guess I gotta move on; yet again… and I was just getting comfortable. No one looked meaner in green than Lou Ferrigno. Never understood his anger issues though. Hulk, you’re the strongest man in the world, why so angry? “Ugh, Hulk have no game. Steroids damage man parts. Hulk only have purple pants, and ladies no like moldy green complexion. Hulk smash!”

2 –  Heroes: (NBC): The program was created by Tim Kring and lasted a full four seasons running from 2006-2010. I tell you, this one had real promise. I thought they finally found a program that I could enjoy for some time. They had good guys worth rooting for, a bad guy you loved to hate, and a cheerleader. What went wrong? I’ll tell you what went wrong, season one eventually had to end and they ran out of good ideas. I think once they tried to introduce a multitude of new characters all at once the audience lost interest. You no longer got to root for the people you tuned in to watch in the first place. Season two had an interesting twist, but I was gone by season three. Frankly, if not for season three and four, this would have been number one on my list.

And now for my number one … drum roll please!

1 –  Batman (ABC): Starring Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as his sidekick Robin. This show, although it only aired from 1966-1968 released 120 action packed episodes. Bap, Bam, Wham, this show had it all, action, comedy, suspense, what a wild ride. By far the best villains on any program ever released, Cat Woman (rrrr), The Riddler, The Penguin, The Joker, the list goes on and on. What about that Bat Mobile, coolest car ever. You want gadgets, what didn’t this guy have in that utility belt of his? Although I was too young to watch the show when it was first released, I do recall racing home from school just to watch the reruns. Man I wished I was Batman, he was the coolest superhero ever. I only have one question, why can’t you get this series on DVD?