Episode 419: Mike Onorato!

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Episode 419 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

Mike Onorato

On this week’s show, I speak with Mike Onorato, Vice President of Publicity at Smith Publicity, about how publicity works behind the scenes for writers, and how COVID-19 is affecting the books business.

NOTES

This episode is sponsored by the excellent people at Scribophile.

Scribophile

TDO Listeners can get 20% of a premium subscription to Scribophile. After using the above link to register for a basic account, go here while still logged in to upgrade the account with the discount.

Consider donating to City Lights Books to sustain it and/or buying a book online from Powells.

Check out the May installment of Loose Lips!

Check out my literary adventure novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.

Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame Cover


Episode 419 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

The Curator of Schlock #319: Rec

The Curator of Schlock by Jeff Shuster

Rec

That’s short for record. 

Howdy y’all. Yeehaaaaaaa! I feel like a cowboy here, eating my Campbell’s Pork n’ Beans over an open campfire just like they did in the old west. This global pandemic will surely leave behind some good memories.

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I’ve had a lot of opportunity for introspection, looking back on life choices good and bad. For example, why at the start of this pandemic did I go all in on the pork n’ beans? Why no chicken noodle soup or canned chili? I could murder a man right now for a can of chili.

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Tonight’s movie is 2007’s Rec from directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza. I’m assuming that it’s two directors and that one of them doesn’t have a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thing going on. The movie takes place in Barcelona, Spain and is Spanish language for those who you that need to be warned about such things. For those of you who can understand Spanish or don’t have problems reading English subtitles, be prepared for what may be the greatest found footage horror movie ever made.

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Rec begins with a TV news reporter named Ángela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) and her cameraman, Pablo, shooting the latest in her documentary series While You Were Sleeping.  Each episode features people who work at night while the rest of the city is sleeping. The episode they’re shooting will focus on the city’s firefighters. The two firefighters they’ll be following this night are named Álex (David Vert) and Manu (Ferrán Terraza). The firehouse gets a call in the middle of the night about an old lady named Mrs. Izquierdo, a local cat lady, being trapped in her apartment. The neighbors heard her screaming and are gathered in the lobby of the building.

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The four of them get over to the apartment complex as fast they can and are greeted by a couple of police officers that don’t care for a television crew poking around the premises. They all head upstairs and find Mrs. Izquierdo shambling about in a pink taffeta nightgown. Oh, her nightgown isn’t pink. That’s just blood smeared all over it. One of the officers approaches her and Mrs. Izquierdo promptly sinks her teeth into his neck, promptly tearing a chunk out while the other officer and firefighters pull her off.

This is one of those “things go from bad to worse” kind of movies. As the firefighters and remaining police officer try to evacuate, the lights in the building go off and we hear a man from the Spanish government informing them over a loudspeaker that the building is now sealed off. Everyone is under quarantine until further notice and to please be patient. This is not good. Let’s hope the disease that turned Mrs. Izquierdo into a rabid monster isn’t contagious.

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At some point, the government sends in a doctor in a HAZMAT suit and we learn that the source of the disease came from one of the tenant’s dogs. I think this doctor has an injection that treats or kills the patient with the disease. That isn’t clear because no gets a chance to use it because everyone in the building keeps getting bit and turning into a raving maniac. Ángela and Pablo make it up to the penthouse apartment in effort to find a way out that isn’t known to the government officials outside. In this apartment, they discover all sorts of religious iconography, articles about a young girl possessed by the devil, and recordings about Vatican knowledge of this disease. We don’t learn much more because the end is nigh for Angela and Pablo. Maybe I’ll find out the rest in Rec 2.


Jeffrey Shuster 2

Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

The Lists #37: Chocolate Jesus Drink Recipe

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The Lists #37 by Tod Caviness

Chocolate Jesus Drink Recipe

Here’s the latest recipe from my quarantine rescue mission for misfit bottles of booze. In this case, the oddball bottle is dark creme de cacao. I have no idea why I have the stuff. Maybe I stole it from a Christmas party where they were drinking Brandy Alexanders?

Anyway, I call this the Chocolate Jesus because I drank it on Easter and it made my wife say “Jesus” when she drank it. (She hates Fernet Branca.)

  • 1 ounce St. Remy VSOP Brandy
  • 1 ounce Dark Creme de Cacao
  • 1/3 ounce Fernet Branca
  • 2 dashes Orange Bitters

Stir all ingredients with ice in a mixing glass, then strain into a coupe glass if you’re fancy. Garnish with a peppermint stick, I guess. I don’t know. Who are you trying to impress with your garnish anyway, you Nancy? Just drink the thing.


Tod Caviness

Tod Caviness is a former features writer at the Orlando Sentinel and has been a staple in the Orlando spoken community for the better part of two decades. He worked to coordinate poetry events at the Orlando Fringe Festival and was the host of the long-running reading series Speakeasy, as well as Loose Lips. He’s currently plotting his escape from Bradenton.

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #69: Going Back to Green

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Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #69 by Drew Barth

Going Back to Green

As comics are still getting set back up from Diamond Distributors’ pause during the COVID crisis, it still helps to dive into what we already have laying in our to-be-read piles. I’m finally getting mine into the lower end of the triple-digits. But while going through my piles I’ve discovered series that have ended or whole story arcs that have come to massive conclusions without my knowing. One such arc that ended a bit ago was the first season of Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp’s The Green Lantern and its three issue follow-up, Green Lantern: Blackstars, with Morrison and artist Xermanico.

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I touched on the beginning issues of Morrison and Sharp’s Green Lantern run last year, but then neglected to follow-up on the rest. Morrison and Sharp followed up in a bigger way than I could have expected. When we last left Hal Jordan, he was trapped inside of his Power Ring with the mad Guardian, Myrwhydden. The story would soon begin to expand into other universes with a nostalgic Green Arrow adventure and the reintroduction of the Blackstars from earlier as a rival faction with more sinister universal aims. Everything culminates as a part of a larger plan to get Jordan to give up his Lantern ring to reset the current universe and join the Blackstars. And this leads to Jordan being integral in sculpting this new universe into an idyllic wonderland for a mad god.

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A Morrison story isn’t complete without some aspect of a grander multiversal peril and him using that idea to try to turn the DC Universe into a sentient being. But the alternate universes and the peril that brings together Green Lanterns from across the multiverse feels like it is only a first step. With the reintroduction of the Monitors and the Orrery of Worlds from Final Crisis back into mainline canon, there can be a further expansion of grand stories. There can always be a threat from another universe, but what if the threat is another universe? Or something in-between that hides in the Bleed space? These multiple realities coming together allows stories to take on the mythic properties that Kirby’s Fourth World sought to do in the early seventies.

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The Green Lantern, as it is now, is Morrison and Sharp dragging the DC Universe back into the weird. Honestly, I want aliens that speak in backwards text, I want demons who are so bored with torture they create a paradise, I want the crystalline structure of the multiverse to be held up by the frozen musical architecture of forbidden universes. Cosmic comic fiction doesn’t need to be grounded. If characters and their arcs are strong, why not go as far out as possible when the map of the multiverse is right there and filled to bursting with possibility?

Get excited. Get nice.


drew-barth-mbfi

Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.

Episode 418: A Discussion of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, with Vanessa Blakeslee!

Episode 418 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

The Hero With a Thousand Faces JV

Vanessa Blakeslee and I discuss the classic of comparative mythology, Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. While this is a work of scholarship not directly intended for creative writers, its lessons are of immense value to anyone writing adventure, fantasy, or science fiction. We reference Star Wars, The Matrix, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, The Bible, and Pinocchio, among other works, and mention the trials of academic discourse that are meant to be confused with the belly of the beast.

NOTES

This episode is sponsored by the excellent people at Scribophile.

Scribophile

TDO Listeners can get 20% of a premium subscription to Scribophile. After using the above link to register for a basic account, go here while still logged in to upgrade the account with the discount.

Consider donating to City Lights Books to sustain it and/or buying a book online from Powells.

Check out my literary adventure novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.

Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame Cover


Episode 418 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

The Diaries of a Sozzled Scribbler #8

The Diaries of a Sozzled Scribbler #8

Transcribed by DMETRI KAKMI

1 May 2020

My bosom buddy Dorothy Parker said don’t put all your eggs in one bastard. Now I know why.

Following my shock revelations about the coronavirus (see Sozzled Scribbler 16 April 2020), the rich turned on me with a viciousness that hasn’t been seen since the east-coast feminist establishment turned on Monica Lewinsky.

And now I’m homeless, a persona non grata. In short, an unperson.

The long and the short of it is that I was driven out of Trumpistan minutes after the last column was published. Ignoring social distancing regulations, and thus proving the correctness of my assertions about the fraudulence of COVID-19, the rich thronged cheek-by-nip-tucked jowl outside the Hotel Cortez, crystal champagne flutes and Faberge Enamel Lighters raised, demanding their pound of flesh.

Thankfully the Hotel snuck me out the back to make a quick getaway in a discreet Cadillac One limousine sent by my dear friend Grace Jones. Speaking of which, given we are in the month of May, we might as well bow to the most insouciant Bond girl ever, May Day, as portrayed by the ineffable Miss Grace Beverley Jones OJ.

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By the way, the acronym OJ does not stand for O. J. Simpson. Though Grace did enjoy sexual congress with him once. OJ in this instance stands for Order of Jamaica. Yes, Grace is in line to become Queen of Jamaica, and I am sure she will rule with an iron fist in a velvet glove. Rihanna will be her chambermaid.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay with Grace because she was busy howling at the moon. I needn’t have worried. In the next minute the limousine’s onboard phone rang with an offer I could not refuse.

‘What ho!’ chimed the all-too-familiar-voice. ‘Make your way to Balmoral, you silly sausage.’

It was none other than Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, who, like Alulim, first king of Sumeria, is also a mononymous personage. You know her as Queen Elizabeth II.

To me she will always be plain old Mary. I’ve known her since she was knee high to a corgi and it’s likely I even sired her but that’s another story for another day.

Where was I?

Oh, yes, so I’m staying with the Queen of England. Turns out she wasn’t put down after catching coronavirus (as reported by this column). She faked her death to run a soup kitchen in Blackpool, one of England’s most depraved, I mean deprived, cities.

What’s more, unlike most of the rich, Mary’s a decent old sock under the gargoyle grimness. She even wears Philip Treacy, Grace Jones’s milliner.

So here I am at Balmoral, which is all very nice, but I mean to say, it can get a bit boring in the Scottish Highlands.

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First of all, I can’t understand a word of the gobbledygook that passes for the Scottish tongue. Why they can’t speak with a nice BBC accent I don’t know. Second, I grew tired of hunting down peasants in the forest.

‘What was that dear old cock pouch? Oh, PHEASANTS. We were hunting PHEASANTS in the forest. Not PEASANTS.’

No wonder I was bored. Might it not be in the economy’s best interests to employ actual peasants? It would alleviate the unemployment situation.

‘What was that, my dear old glove puppet? I should read a good novel you say? I talk too much? I’m distracting you from making radish soup for the needy?’

What’s the point of reading novels nowadays? When what’s real supersedes what’s made up, how can the fiction writer hold the jaded reader’s attention?

I’d rather watch the news or reality TV, like TigerKing—now there’s as big a collection of bobble-headed weirdos as you’re likely to encounter this side of an insane asylum. The best thing about the show is that we now know about the existence of a species of toothless homosexual stud muffin hillbilly.

But seriously, why bother with fiction when in the space of a week the real-world offered three choice selections for our entertainment and edification?

First, a woman demonstrating against coronavirus restrictions in Pennsylvania yelled, ‘I don’t trust your science. I trust my god.’

What makes this utterance frightening is that it came from an American citizen who thinks she lives in the Middle Ages.

Second, the President of the United States gives a press conference at which he advises adherents to inject disinfectant to get rid of the coronavirus.

What makes this utterance eye-popping is that Trump knows what an injection is.

Last but hardly least is the following spectacle from Melbourne, Australia.

A millionaire mortgage broker and property owner is stopped on the side of a freeway by police for speeding in his Porsche 911 (how apt!) under the influence of drugs. Three police officers are in two separate cars behind the luxury car. While one officer checks up on said individual, a drug-addled truck driver veers across three lanes and ploughs into the back of one police car, hurtling it into the back of the other and killing all on board.

In a sign of the times, the millionaire films a police woman while she is pinned to the truck and delivers a speech worthy of Patrick Bateman: ‘All I wanted was to go home and have some sushi and now you fucked my fucking car.’

I ask you, would you believe any of this if John King put it his new novel? You wouldn’t. You’d say it’s far fetched. Beyond belief. But it’s undeniably real and it outstrips the authorial imagination.

No wonder my dear Mary hides behind Balmoral’s walls and samples reality in dribs and drabs.

‘What’s that, mon petit choux, you want to take the corgis for a walk and you want me to accompany you on yon peregrinations? Coming, my little hat stand.’

Until next we meet. Cheerio!


people-2570596_1920 SozzledThe Sozzled Scribbler was born in the shadow of the Erechtheion in Athens, Greece, to an Egyptian street walker (his father) and a Greek bear wrestler (his mother). He has lived in Istanbul, Rome, London, New Orleans and is currently stateless. He partakes of four bottles of Bombay gin and nine packets of Gauloises cigarettes a day.

Dmetri Kakmi, is a writer and editor. His first book Mother Land was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premiers Literary Awards in Australia, and his new book The Door will be released in September 2020.

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #68: Post-Friday

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #68 by Drew Barth

Post-Friday

It’s the final Wednesday in this April that has felt like it’s lasted maybe a week, and we are getting reports that Diamond Distributors will begin shipping again come May 20th. But in this interim, other avenues for distribution have opened. DC has completely forgone Diamond entirely to begin shipping select titles this week as many small publishers are finding ways to get comics into readers’ hot hands.

Two of the best right now are working with an entirely different model from the rest of the industry by offering incredibly high-quality work at a name your own price point: ShortBox and Panel Syndicate. While ShortBox’s work is going to be temporary due to COVID-19 circumstances (and is something I’ll write more on later), Panel Syndicate was created with the express intent of delivering comics at whatever price the reader wanted to pay. And their newest release, Friday by Ed Brubaker, Marcos Martin, and Muntsa Vicente, is the kind of work that you don’t just want to pay for, but you want to pay for it in gold bars.

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Brubaker describes Friday as a “post-YA” story—works about teenage protagonists becoming adults while dealing with their teen adventurer past—and from the first couple pages the reader can already feel the long history between the two main characters, Friday Fritzhugh and Lancelot Jones. Friday has returned to her hometown of Kings Hill for her winter holiday from college and is immediately brought back to the mysteries of her adolescence fresh off the train. What Friday as a story does so well throughout its first chapter is to establish everything. Friday and Lancelot as characters, the unsaid conflict between them, Kings Hill’s child sacrificing past, and the current mystery Friday has been drawn into bloom within a few pages. As a reader, you sit and marvel at the precision of storytelling to show us so much so quickly.

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This comic is filled to bursting with wonder. From Brubaker’s pitch-perfect third-person narration, to Martin’s utter precision in in his lines and panels, to the utter gorgeousness of Vicente’s tone-setting colors. It is near impossible to find flaws in this work as all three of these creators are currently some of the best in the medium. To take a moment for the coloring in Friday, Vicente works absolute magic over Martin’s line work. There is a moment early on in the story that shows a vignette of Kings Hill’s past with child sacrifices. Vicente creates what looks like a new palette for those couple pages by taking the existing palette and weathering it to the point where it looks like an EC horror comic on old newsprint. That is the power Marin and Vicente have—their evocation of hints of the past to precisely capture the mood of the story. Like I said, some of the best in the medium.

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As the distribution networks of the past can completely stop, creators need a way to keep themselves going. When we have outlets like Panel Syndicate, and stories like Friday, we’re able to see where our models could potentially go in the future. And now is the time to look to the future and how we can support each other as best we can.

Get excited. Work together.


drew-barth-mbfi

Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.

Episode 417: Jazon Z. Morris!

Episode 417 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

Jason Z. Morris

This week I talk with the novelist Jason Z. Morris about structuring a novel, learning the confidence to write a novel, how the peer review process in science helps in receiving creative writing criticism, and the fun, diverse conversations to be had at the faculty cafeteria at Fordham at Lincoln Center.

TEXT DISCUSSED

Thicker Than Mud

NOTES

This episode is sponsored by the excellent people at Scribophile.

Scribophile

TDO Listeners can get 20% of a premium subscription to Scribophile. After using the above link to register for a basic account, go here while still logged in to upgrade the account with the discount.

Consider donating to City Lights Books to sustain it and/or buying a book online from Powells.

Check out my literary adventure novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.

Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame Cover


Episode 417 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

The Curator of Schlock #318: The Black Cat

The Curator of Schlock #318 by Jeff Shuster

The Black Cat

Not the Karloff movie

So Cat Month went awry. I wanted to review Uninvited. It’s the one with George Kennedy on the expensive yacht with the house cat with a mutant cat living inside it. Well, it got yanked from Amazon Prime status, and I ain’t paying for that noise. I went on a rage in my little cabin in the middle of the Florida Everglades, smashing all my bottles of Perrier, and now I’m quite thirsty. I wonder how sanitary the water is in these parts. I should have brought my Britta filter.

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This week’s movie is 1981’s The Black Cat from director Lucio Fulci. The movie features a black cat that goes around murdering people in a small English village. We begin with some guy getting into an automobile and while he’s driving, a black cat appears behind him and uses mind control to get the guy crash into a street lamp, killing him instantly. Does the cat have psychic powers like the weirdoes in those Scanners movies or is black magic involved?

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The next victims are a teenage couple who decide to lock themselves in a boatshed so they can shed their clothes away from prying eyes. I think the boyfriend of the young woman locks the shed from the inside, but the black cat steals the key while, at the same time, naturally, causing a gas leak. The young couple sucks on some bad air, causing them to foam at the mouth and die. The mother of the young girl who dies in that horrible way is Maureen Grayson (Daniela Doria). After the police discover the rotting cadavers of the two lovers, Maureen shrieks in horror at the sight.

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Still, she doesn’t grieve for long since Maureen is the cat’s next victim. The cat manages to set her house on fire and Maureen gets caught under some burning curtains. The whole scene is rather disgusting. Maureen’s face begins melting off as if she were made out of wax. She flails about for several minutes before finally deciding to end her life by jumping out the nearest window. Not a good way to go. That’s going to be a closed casket funeral.

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We have a couple of sleuths trying to get to the bottom of these mysterious deaths. One is Inspector Gorley (David Warbeck) and the other is American photojournalist Jill Trevers (Mimsy Farmer). We remember Mimsy Farmer from The Perfume of the Lady in Black. I believe her guts were eaten by a cannibalistic cult at the end of that movie, but I’m not one hundred percent sure of that. The two of them are fairly inept detectives, but really, how does one pin murders on a cat?

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It turns out there’s this crusty curmudgeon named Professor Robert Miles (Patrick Magee, whose tremendous eyebrows you might remember from A Clockwork Orange). The good professor lives in this old, dark house on the edge of town. He psychically feeds his hatred of the townsfolk into his pet black cat and the cat then murders them in horrible ways. Lucio Fulci apparently based this on the classic Edgar Allen Poe story, so naturally it has zilch to do with the original story, but it’s not bad. What more do you want from me? Sometimes “it’s not bad” is good enough.


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Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #67: Deep Time

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #67 by Drew Barth

Deep Time

It’s about mid-way to Halloween, so you know what that means: it’s time to talk about ghosts. The history of ghosts in comic fiction is long, storied, and paved with some of the best characters the medium has to offer. Everything from House of Mysteryand Eerie to characters like Gentleman Ghost and Deadman have created this wonderful canon of spooks. And we’re coming upon that again with a bit of a twist. Spectre Deep 6 is the first in a fresh series of graphic novels by Jennifer Brody and Jules Rivera.

Spectre Deep 6 takes the idea of ghosts and weaponizes it. We’re introduced to Captain Bianca Vasquez and the Spectre Program—a secret military program that takes the recently deceased and transforms them into spectral covert operatives. As a team, they get their orders, complete their missions, and receive “day passes” for just a few hours to exist near their old lives. And while it could just be ghosting around Brody and Rivera incorporate what all good ghost drama needs: restraint. The six members of the Spectre Program are still ethereal—if they are not contained by means of a personal bell jar, their operative suits, or the “day passes” they receive, they can simply dissipate into nothing.

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These restraints are what create some of the most interesting character aspects in Spectre Deep 6. Through the characters initial introductions, we get small glimpses into who they were before the Spectre Program. But once they’re given their day passes, who they are starts to unfold and much of the personalities we had been introduced to originally begin to fall away. We have characters like Bart Bartholomew, someone who on introduction exudes a surfer-slacker archetype. But then we see what he does with his day pass and how he died. What we know of him is stripped down to its core where Brody and Rivera reveal this sadness and longing that we wouldn’t have seen in his original introduction.

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And much of this emotional weight is helped along with Rivera’s expert paneling and composition. Many of the strongest moments in Spectre Deep 6 are when traditional panels fall away and the page is allowed to become as ethereal as the characters. Many flashbacks use this style and it really helps to create this sense of the world being intangible—the characters are cut off from the past completely and must exist in this ghostly present.

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Spectre Deep 6 is a haunted sci-fi spectacle and this is only the first volume. There is such a massive depth of character and setting throughout, and with the story ending on a cliffhanger, you immediately want to reach over for the next volume. But that’s going to be a bit of a wait: 2021. That wait, however, will probably be worth it.

Get excited. Get ghosts.


drew-barth-mbfiDrew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.