8FOLD/META: Eightfold Eligibles
milos_parker at yahoo.com
Thu Dec 8 12:02:42 PST 2005
Back in April of this year, Jamie Rosen (heretoafter
referred to as "The Joltin' One") and I launched the
Eightfold Comics shared-writing universe. If the
success of a new shared universe is measured by the
number of writers it attracts, well, then, it looks
like we're a miserable failure. With the Joltin' One
having taken a sabbatical, I'm the only one writing.
(But, let's remember that Eightfold is not an "open"
universe, and it's a little more daunting to join in
when you have to get permission.)
But if a universe's success is measured by the quality
of the stories in said universe, then I'd like to
think that Eightfold has done quite well. I'm very,
very proud of the work I've done-- I feel SPEAK! is
the best thing I've ever written in prose-- and very
envious of the Joltin' One's output.
So, for the consideration of the group, here are the
stories produced this year under the banner of
TEMPLATE # 1 (April) by Jamie Rosen
Billy Kidman comes home to bury his father, who-- it
turns out-- was a famous Golden Age superhero named
Template. Billy also meets Terrence Hutter, a young
man bent on revenging his family's honour. In
response, he calls the police.
I really like this first issue of the series.
Terrence Hutter is a terrifically melodramatic figure,
like a villain in nineteenth-century literature. In
fact, a lot of the story's tropes-- for example,
Billy's reunion with his mother, who makes hot
chocolate just the way he likes it-- or the big reveal
of his father's legacy-- could be termed melodramatic.
But the Joltin' One handles them with complete
sincerity. And the twists that arrive at the end of
this issue and during the next one are not cutesy, but
sly and intelligent, coming out of and revealing
something about Billy's character.
There are also some keen insights. Consider the bit
about small towns, or, my personal favourite, during
the scene where Billy comes back to his childhood
"Some parents, when their children move out on their
own, leave their bedrooms exactly as they were, a
mausoleum to the childhood left behind. Others strip
the room bare of any ties to its former occupant and
turn [it] into a study, or an office of some sort, or
let it out to rent in a subconscious effor to find a
replacement to the child they have lost."
Not only is this quotation very wise, but it also fits
in with a general theme of loss between parents and
TEMPLATE # 2 [May] by Jamie Rosen
And just when we thought this story was going to be
about the son taking on the mantle of the father,
dealing with Hutter, et cetera... the Joltin' One
shows us that life has many different, and surprising,
directions in which it can go.
In this issue, Billy Kidman opens his book store,
meets an old friend, makes a date, and searches for a
copy of a fictional book, _The Philosophers of Uqbar_.
We get some background information on Borges's story,
_Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertus_, in which said fictional
tome appears. The ending strongly suggests, as
Stalwart Saxon Brenton picked up in his excellent
EoMR, that the story is going to echo Borges's.
Unforunately, this was the last issue completed before
the Joltin' One went on hiatus; would the third issue
have taken us in any of the two suggested directions,
or another one entirely?
JOURNEY INTO... # 1 [May] by Jamie Rosen & Tom Russell
The Joltin' One and I cowrote this story about an
aging ex-supervillain-turned-piano teacher, Adam
Rabinowitz, aka Dr. Metronome. When one of his
students, Katie, is nearly drowned by her deranged
mother, Rabinowitz puts on his costume-- which gives
him the ability to phase through matter-- and
sacrafices his life to save her. He kills the mother
and his body phases out of existence.
The second half of the story follows Katie as she
struggles to comfort her brother and sister, and ends
with her taking on the mantle of Dr. Metronome.
The first half really concerns itself with old age and
with redemption, two themes that I find incredibly
interesting. I would like to say that the redemption
theme-- and the fact that that Adam was a
supervillain-- were brought to the table by the
Joltin' One, while the old age, the deranged mother,
and the little girl pooping in a shoebox were all
SPEAK! # 1 [April] by Tom Russell
If the best way to gauge the success of a series is
how often Martin Phipps has made fun of the opening
scene, then SPEAK! is a smash hit. :-)
Gregory Dingham discovers that he has the power to, in
effect, make things happen simply by telling them to.
In this first issue, he deals with some guilt
resulting from the death of his mother (Jesus Christ!
Is Eightfold the dead/dying parents/parent-figure
universe?) and tries to figure out what to do with his
powers. He rejects altruism and-- according to
Phipps, inexplicably-- decides to rob the bank.
SPEAK! # 2 [May] by Tom Russell
The series shifts into second person and present
tense. Gregory, having robbed the bank, freaks out
and goes for a little drive, finding himself in
Kentucky, where he meets Harry Cash, an aging (read:
dying) ex-supervillain father figure with a penchant
for telling stories and an obsession with, to quote
Startlin' Saxon Brenton, "the accoutrements of
SPEAK! # 3 [May] by Tom Russell
Harry and Gregory hatch an unlikely plan to unmask a
superhero and embark on a life of crime. Harry tells
a number of amusing stories, and-- in a tonal shift
that I didn't quite pull off (as in, did not pull off
at all in any way, shape, or form)-- tells a rather
depressing one about his wife's miscarriage.
SPEAK! # 4 [June] by Tom Russell
Harry explains the silver age code of honour with an
ancedote about a death-trap. Our duo is stuck in the
planning stages of their life of crime master-plan,
and Gregory becomes increasingly irritated as his
money starts to run out.
SPEAK! # 5 [June] by Tom Russell
Gregory discovers that Harry most likely murdered his
wife, and the two of them abscond with some library
SPEAK! # 6 [July] by Tom Russell
Gregory and Harry visit a superhistory museum where
one of Harry's costumes-- an iron flying suit-- is on
display. They hatch a plan, more-or-less with the
cooperation/prodding of the museum's curator, to steal
it. They watch _Taxi Driver_ and Gregory becomes
disquieted when he changes the ending.
SPEAK! # 7 [July] by Tom Russell
Our duo attempts to steal said costume, and a battle
is joined with three superheroes. Gregory dispatches
them with a certain level of brutal nastiness. Only
plucky Dr. Metronome-- the determined heroine of the
aforementioned JOURNEY INTO... # 1-- presses on. She
finds herself kidnapped and, while she sleeps, Gregory
SPEAK! # 8 [July] by Tom Russell
The police close in on our heroes. Gregory, under
stress and in a moment of chilling calm, summons a
SPEAK! # 9 [July] by Tom Russell
In the final issue of the series, Harry rescues people
in the aftermath of the earthquake. Having sustained
massive injuries, he dies. Gregory could save him,
but chooses not to. Gregory allows himself to be
handed over to the authorities.
I think Speak! is the best thing I've written, and I'm
equally proud of its two main characters. Harry is
eligible for Best Supporting, and Gregory for Best
Protagonist-- though I personally think that, in light
of his actions, he's equally eligible for Best
THE HOUSE OF FICTION # 1-5 by Tom Russell
I'm not even going to attempt to summarize this
series, which is on hiatus but still ongoing. Not
even I know what it's about, exactly. I can't imagine
anyone wanting to vote for it in any category.
And, THE GREEN KNIGHT # 1-3, by Tom Russell, which
have been posted fairly recently. So I'll spare you
summary on this count.
In addition to my work in this imprint, I've also
written/cowritten seven LNH stores, and I think that
together this puts me in the running for the Rabbit
Breeder's Cup. Not only do I have a large number of
stories posted, but my posts are usually on the long
side. So in terms of sheer volume, I think I would be
a good choice for your vote/nomination.
I'm also eligible for Most Improved Author, but I
think your vote/nom would be better used for Jamas
Enright. His Alt.Riders is a consisently good series,
and by-far the best plot-driven one. This year's
Holiday arc featured the best characterization in the
series, and the plots came out of/were tailored to
each character and their response. It's a fine
accomplishment by anyone's standards, and one of the
best stories of the year.
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