I know, I know, you want me to tell you an anecdote from my writing career, like I did last time. And I shall! But first, here are some announcements:
I wrote a Tales from Wild Space backup story that appears in Star Wars Adventures #23, which is out now from IDW Publishing. The story, titled “Majordomo, Major Problems,” is about Jabba the Hutt’s majordomo, butler, and consigliere Bib Fortuna. Specifically, it’s about how overworked and overwhelmed Bib starts to feel after tending to Jabba’s every whim on a daily basis. I should also mention that “Majordomo” is illustrated by Drew Moss, who is a phenomenal artist.
But don’t take my word for it; just check out this variant cover by Drew Moss, depicting a scene from the story.
Here’s a glowing review from the Jedi News site. The reviewer observed that there were parallels between Bib taking care of Jabba and a parent taking care of a child. Was “Majordomo” – at least partially – inspired by my life as a parent? What do you think? (Yes. Yes it was.)
And if you’ll be at San Diego Comic Con next week, you should know that I’ll be signing copies of Star Wars Adventures #23 at at SDCC from 2-3pm on Fri July 19th, at the IDW booth #2729. You can see the full schedule of IDW’s signings here.
Elsewhere at San Diego Comic Con, I’ll be appearing on a panel discussion celebrating E.C. Comics’s 75th anniversary. The panel will be happening at 6:30pm on Friday July 19th. The other panelists will be Grant Geissman (The Wonderful, Horrible EC Comics Book) and Dr.Travis Langley (The Joker Psychology: Evil Clowns and the Women Who Love Them), and the moderator will be Danny Fingeroth (A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee). Danny is the Walter White to my Jesse Pinkman, the Galactus to my Silver Surfer, the Eddie Murphy to my Arsenio Hall. Together, we’ll look back on the lasting impact E.C. has had on comics and on popular culture in general.
This panel should be quite a bit of fun. E.C. holds a very special place in my heart, especially since I’ve served as a writer for two E.C. titles, MAD Magazine and Tales from the Crypt.
In non-San Diego Comic Con-related news, I recently wrote the children’s book Hungry Shark: The Official Shark-Tastic Guide. It’s a guide to all of the wild and wacky sharks in the Hungry Shark video game franchise. Here’s an interview for the website SciFi Pulse about both the Hungry Shark book and my Star Wars Adventures story.
And now for the moment you’ve quite possibly been waiting for: a story from my writing career:
In the year 2011, I was a guest speaker at the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, Poland. It was my second year in a row appearing at the festival, and I gave a series of talks on comic book history, animation history, and various other topics. A camera crew from the festival followed me around a little bit, asking me questions and using the resulting footage to help promote the festival.
At one point, a little old man saw me being interviewed by the camera crew and tapped me on the shoulder. It turned out he was a tourist from England, visiting the festival. “Excuse me,” he began, “Are you Arie Kaplan, the comic book writer?” “That’s right,” I nodded. “Well,” he sniffed imperiously, “Some of us speak proper English.” Then he just turned away like it was nothing, and began talking to the camera crew.
I was really annoyed by his sense of entitlement and tried tapping HIM on the shoulder. “Excuse me, did you really just say that to me?” I asked him a little too loudly. But he ignored me and just kept yammering on about – oh I don’t know, I’m gonna say “the metric system” – and I gave up and went on my way. I guess in the end, he really showed me, the guy who was born in the wrong country, the guy what can’t tawk right. Who the hell do I think I am, anyway, speaking English without a British accent?
I was recently interviewed by reporter AJ Frost for the geek culture site The Beat. We talked about my recent children’s book projects for Scholastic and Disney Book Group. We also talked about the series of lectures that I’ll be doing throughout 2017 at the NYC performance space QED Astoria.
I’ll be kicking off that lecture series with a talk titled “THE MONSTER MAKERS: UNIVERSAL PICTURES, CARL LAEMMLE JR., AND THE GOLDEN AGE OF HOLLYWOOD HORROR MOVIES.” It’s happening on Saturday January 7th 2017 at 2pm.
This first wave of monster movies (1931’s Frankenstein, 1933’s Invisible Man, 1941’s The Wolfman, etc) didn’t just inspire future generations of horror filmmakers. It inspired ALL purveyors of fantastic cinema, including Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Peter Jackson, Joss Whedon, Clive Barker, and Robert Rodriguez. Not to be coy, but I can’t really tell you WHY or HOW it influenced them. Because then you wouldn’t come and see the lecture.
During my “MONSTER MAKERS” lecture, I’ll talk about people like Boris Karloff, Gloria Stuart, Bela Lugosi, Tod Browning, James Whale, Curt Siodmak, and Jack Pierce. By the time I’ve finished the lecture, you’ll understand why those people are important, why you should care about them, and how they shaped modern pop culture.
You’ll also understand what all of this has to do with the creation of the first wave of comic book superheroes, and how these horror movies were informed by then-recent events in world history.
And I just might explain how the story of these early horror filmmakers ties in to the narrative of my award-winning nonfiction book From Krakow To Krypton: Jews And Comic Books.