Issue #299

Old joke from my birthland:

The good news is we're only getting six feet of snow this year.

The bad news is it's coming tomorrow.

The good news is my schedule from hell has finally wrapped up, leaving my time free as a bird and able to write at a more regular pace for the foreseeable future.

The bad news is it ended about five minutes ago, rather than yesterday, making a column this week problematic. At best. I didn't even have time this week to look at the galleys for the next collection of my how-to columns in the next issue of WRITE NOW! magazine. Too bad, too, since I was going to dissect all the idiot logic in the "official story" of Paris Hilton's recent escapade, as a blatant example of how the news media - in general, not just the comics news media - have learned how to ask all the wrong questions and protect the press release version of reality. Guess it'll have to wait, though.

So in lieu of a pithy show of cutting insight and sarcismo this column (that's a word I invented last week: sarcismo, pronounced "sar-keez-moe") I'm just going to entertain you with another batch of pages from my comic TWO GUNS, currently running at Boom! Studios, and back to the enterprises of great pith and moment next week, okay?

The story so far: Undercover DEA agent Robert "Bobby Beans" Trench masquerades as a small-time hood, and is invited by another small-timer, Marcus Steadman, to rob smalltown Arizona bank that launders drug money. Bobby prepares to set Marcus up. Bobby fails to learn of a court date to testify against a drug lord whose mob he infiltrated, and the case is thrown out. The drug lord retaliates, framing Bobby for being on the take, and as a counter-retaliation, Bobby agrees to rob the bank. Following the robbery, Marcus shoots Bobby and leaves him for dead. Then Marcus, who doesn't know Bobby's true identity, also turns out to be an undercover agent, robbing the bank on behalf of Naval Intelligence...

Working on all kinds of things now: a new Pat Novak prose story for a Moonstone anthology, the ODYSSEUS THE REBEL series for Big Head Press, various media projects forced so far to remain nameless, and I can finally get down to writing some serious pitches again. It's like a weight has been lifted. Back to normal now, and thanks for your indulgence.

One quick amusing bit for superhero fans. Sports fans will also appreciate it.

Quick media review wrap-up: THE SOPRANOS' series finisher sucked, and not just because of the ending, making it not necessarily what I wanted but certainly what I expected, since the series has generally been crap since the first season ended, or at least since Tony started dreaming about talking fish on ice. At the movies, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN III was much more fun than virtually anyone's giving it credit for, and did pretty much everything it needed to do. I predict both of these will be greatly reassessed via DVD, and the former's stock will drop while the latter's will rise. And that's been pretty much the entirety of my recent media exposure, unless you count HELL'S KITCHEN (Fox, 9P Mondays), which is as sickly entertaining as ever.

Congratulations to Eric Palicki, the first to identify last week's cover theme as "heavenly bodies" (or outer space objects). Check out his website at www.ericpalicki.com!

For those who came in late: you may notice several comics covers posted in the column. This is what I call the Comics Cover Challenge. The covers are connected by a single secret theme - it could be a concept, a creator, a character, a historical element, pretty much anything - and the first reader who emails me the correct solution may choose a website of their choice (keep it clean!) for promotion in next's week's column. If you need any clues beyond what's here, you can search for them at the online source of our covers, The Grand Comic Book Database, and I usually include a hidden clue somewhere in the column. Due to... well, the lack of a column this week... rather than being scattered throughout the column, the seven covers in question are right below:

Per usual, there's a devious clue to the mystery hidden somewhere in the column, and, believe me, it'll be a good win for anyone who figures it out. Good luck!

As usual, you can find ebooks and other books by me and recommended by me available at The Paper Movies Store. Go buy something; I need the money. Then again, who doesn't?

Those wishing to comment should leave messages on the Permanent Damage Message Board. You can also e-mail me but the chances of a reply are next to nil these days, given my workload, though I do read all my e-mail as long as it's not trying to sell me something. IMPORTANT: Because a lot of people apparently list it in their e-address books, this account has gotten a slew of virus-laden messages lately. They're no real threat but dealing with them eats up time I don't really have, to the extent I can no longer accept unsolicited e-mail with attachments. If you want to send something via attachment (say, art samples) ask me first. If I say okay, then send. Unsolicited e-mail with attachments will be wiped from the server without being read.

IMPORTANT PUBLIC NOTICE OF COLUMN POLICY: any email received in response to a piece run in this column is considered a letter of comment available for printing in the column unless the author specifically indicates it is not intended for public consumption. Unless I check with you or the contents of your e-mail make your identity unavoidably obvious, all letters are run anonymously.

Please don't ask me how to break into the business, or who to submit work to. The answers to those questions are too mercurial for even me to keep up with.

The WHISPER NEWSLETTER is now up and running via the Yahoo groups. If you want to subscribe, click here.

I'm reviewing comics sent to me - I may not like them but certainly I'll mention them - at Steven Grant c/o Permanent Damage, 2657 Windmill Pkwy #194, Henderson NV 89074, so send 'em if you want 'em mentioned, since I can't review them unless I see them. Some people have been sending press releases and cover proofs and things like that, which I enjoy getting, but I really can't do anything with them, sorry. Full comics only, though they can be photocopies rather than the published version. Make sure you include contact information for readers who want to order your book.

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