Monthly Archives: January 2013

TMNT: Turtles in Dixie

I don’t usually talk about dead projects…most of the time my thoughts are that a project is never dead, simply delayed to be resurrected at some later date. Not long ago, though, I talked to Rich Handley, who was putting together a compendium of Planet of the Apes material, and as I had participated in playing in that world via the PoTA: Blood of the Apes mini-series I did with artists Darren Goodhart and Bruce McCorkindale, he wanted to talk to me not just about BoTA, but asked to see if I had any “unpublished” Apes stories.

I did, of course.

I hesitated to give them to him because, as I said, I don’t think a story idea is gone until…well, until it’s gone (no comments from you, Hank Kanalz!). In the back of my mind, I think I’ll simply revise it—change the apes to cats or some such, and viola! New story. I did tell him though, though, and you can check out the finished book here.

But that made me think of one project that is not likely to go anywhere at all, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles story. Yep, TMNT!

Turtles in Dixie

Page of TMNT as drawn by Steven Butler. Original art is 11×17

The project happened because my artist buddy Ken Branch, who was primarily inking back…well, a few years back now, had a contact with the TMNT publishers. He pitched the idea for me to come up with a story, our pal Steven Butler to pencil it, and he’d ink it. A ready made creative team.

Well, y’all know that I like to be Southern-centric when I can, so I thought I’d bring the Turtles to the South. The story opens with boys on a paddle-boat chugging along the Mississippi River. They’re on a vacation and find themselves in Vicksburg, Mississippi where they visit the Civil War battlefield and end up fighting some alligator mutants as well as some armadillo mutants. Not a complicated story, but one with some history and some humor. For you non-Southerners, ask a Reb you know how most of us ever see armadillos.

Well, I finished up the story synopsis and Steven did a page…and then the TMNT publishers stopped taking outside creators to work on it.

So it sat…for years.

Recently, when IDW began publishing TMNT material, I contacted Steven and asked if he still had any interest. He did…I resubmitted. But no go—seems the Turtles’ origin is no longer compatible with the story…and as the editor who responded didn’t open the door to revisions…well, it’s a dead project.

For your eyeball pleasure, though, here’s a good scan of Steven’s page with the boys facing off against Armadillo!

It would have been fun.

Sigh.

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Frank Fradella’s Swan Song

Thinking back on the big handful of superhero novels (not comics or graphic novels) that I’ve reviewed in this space, I can’t recall overly liking that many of them. Fradella’s Swan Song, I do.

As far as I know, Swan Song is not a reference to the Led Zeppelin label, nor is it Frandella’s farewell piece. No, “Swan” is the name of one of the protagonists of the book…whose name we never learn.

Swan Song is a book I picked up in 2009 when I went into panic mode trying to find work for my final critical essay for my MFA. I’d never heard of Frank Fradella before (still not aware of or familiar with any of his other work) and the book was already a couple of years old when I got it. The cover wasn’t that exciting and the soft blues just made me want to yawn.

So when I got around to reading it, I was only half-interested in it. The book starts slow and though the motivation for Permafrost, the main character, isn’t really that clear, the writing pulls you along. It’s difficult to get on board with Permafrost because her main drive is to find the killer of her dad…a man she doesn’t like and has rarely talked to. Uhm…okay. And I care JUST because he’s your dad? I don’t think so.

What keeps me reading is the mysterious Swan, a Batman style hero who fights crime in a small town and the people there all love him. Swan and Permafrost become romantically involved, but he refuses to tell her his secret identity, insisted that remain separate. One argument he makes throughout the story is that he has not special powers and that anybody can be The Swan.

The book has a little harsh language but probably not as much as the last PG-13 movie I saw. It all comes from the bad guys and stands out in stark contrast to the rest of the work, a very pleasant surprise.

It takes a bit to get around to the main plot and when we get there, it comes from a bit out in left field and a roundabout connection to Permafrost’s dad. Even with that bit of annoyance, we’re still drawn to the mysterious Swan…again, in much the same way we’re drawn to Batman even when the writers handle him poorly (can you say DKR?).

With the warning of the bad guy language, I do recommend this book to superhero fans…and maybe those so-so superhero fans of detective/romances—cause there’s a little of that in there, too.

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Filed under Books/reading

New Caregivers

I’ve written in this space before about some of the trials of moving. We think of kids as having the hardest time, but adults have their share of tribulations as well.

One thing adults have to do after a move is find new caregivers; a new doctor, new dentist, new hairstylist, new mechanic, and so on—you know, the people that you need in order to keep your well-greased machine of life moving along at near speed of sound.

Generally, you ask the people you work with for recommendations. Many moves take you away from families, but some of them take you closer—when that happens, you call on family members to find out where they go and who they use. Regardless, you get recommendations from people you know and most folks will go to a new caregiver based solely on recommendations.

In one move, as I went about trying to establish new relationships with caregivers, I visited a clinic and the receptionist said that because I’d never been there before I was going to have to pay a new customer fee.

I laughed, thinking it was a joke.

The receptionist did NOT laugh and I realized it was not a joke.

Okay–I decided I’d bite–what was the fee for? I just wanted to know. In general, I like knowing what I pay for. The receptionist said she had no idea what the fee was for and that she was simply doing what she was told.

Now, I’ve done my fair share of moving. Since I graduated from college, I’ve moved no fewer than six times in which I had to change all my caregivers (I’ve moved twice again that many times when I didn’t have to change—most of those times the first ten years after I graduated). We never had to pay a “new customer” fee during our other moves. Let me put it this way: if we did, they added it quietly to the bill and we never noticed it.

But I don’t think that’s likely because I usually check a bill over pretty good. Like I said, I like to know where my money is going.

As I walked away still with no answer, my mind raced with other potential random new guy fees: the hairstylist would charge me a new customer fee and then not tell me what the fee covered; Hardee’s might charge an extra $5 the first time I stop in for a meal deal because I’d never been there before; the bank might charge me a higher interest rate because I’d never been a customer before but not really know why they do it; the florist might tack on an extra $50 without reason the first time I walked in the door. I feared that maybe I would be forced to wear a scarlet “N” on my breast pocket so that I would be easily identified as the “new resident.” If so, how long would I be required to wear it?

When I awoke the next day, I was relieved to see that there was no scarlet “N” attached to my shirt and Hardee’s didn’t charge that extra $5. I’ve moved again since then…and I’ve yet to pay a “new guy” fee anywhere else.

Weird, huh?

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Filed under family, Moving