[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #35 - November 2006 [spoilers]

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Sun Dec 10 21:02:42 PST 2006

Saxon Brenton wrote:
> [REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #35 - November 2006 [spoilers]


> Fuschia Grabbag Surprise #3
> An Eightfold [8Fold] series
> by Tom Russell
>      So.  There are two of those pea-pod people that inhabit the world
> of Fuchia Grabbag Surprise, and they're talking about moustaches.  I
> think.  And one of them is advocating moustaches, and the other one says
> he's not interested in moustaches.  The first one disappears/disintegrates
> himself and wills/curses his moustache on the second one.  I think.

Y'know, I think your plot synopsis of Fuschia Grabbag Surprise is more
entertaining than the actual Fuschia Grabbag Surprise.  It reminds me
of a site my wife brought to my attention,
marmadukeexplained.blogspot.com, in which a Mr. Joe Mathlete attempts
to explain the one-panel wtf? that is "Marmaduke".

Though, now that I've equated FGS with Marmaduke, I'm not so sure I
want to keep doing FGS. :-)

> Haiku Gorilla #251-296
> 'Support Your Local Gorilla'
> A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
> by Tom Russell
>      These issues cover the conclusion of the 'Support Your Local
> Gorilla' arc (running in full from #127 to 296).  But first, Anal-
> Retentive Archive Kid has handed me a note, asking me to remind every-
> one that technically Haiku Gorilla has had four story arcs this year,
> rather than the three that were mentioned in Tom's Self-Promotional
> Binge post.  This is because of the two part filler story 'The Strangling
> At Howell's Manor' in #124-125.  So that's 'Unjaned Melody' in _Haiku
> Gorilla Adventures_ #1-64, 'The Death Of Pants Rabbit Lad' in _Haiku
> Gorilla_ #65-123, 'The Strangling At Howell's Manor' in #124-125, a
> non-story post in #126, and 'Support Your Local Gorilla_ in #127-296.

I seriously hope no one actually nominates "The Strangling At Howell's
Manor".  But thank you for taking note of it, all the same.

Now I have to debate whether I should use it at the tail-end of the
Death of Pants Rabbit Lad TEB, or give its own. ;-)

>      Okay then, what can we extrapolate madly out of this? Should we
> start integrating a clone rights group in the Loonited State's politics?

Only if Sig.Lad's clones are at the fore-front of the movement.
Compared to them, BEL's kind of a johnny-come-lately.

> Or make the observation that in the alt.future depicted in _Spite Grrrl:
> Pretty In Pink_ there was an extended subgroup of heroes called the
> Hyphenated Eaters Corps, and that this may be the start of that group?


... you've been looking at my plot notes again, haven't you?... :-)

> Journey Into... Annual #1
> 'The Boy Who Believed'  ;  'A Thousand-Thousand Snowflakes'  ;
> 'The Teardrop Princess'  ;  'The Breath Of Ghosts'  and
> 'All A Year In A Single Breath'
> An Eightfold [8Fold] series
> by Tom Russell
>      Tom recreates the 80 page giant anthologies that DC Comics used
> to put out, with the theme of Santa Claus.  Some of the treatment is
> influenced by the superhero genre (Santa's naughty-or-nice sense being
> perhaps the most obvious example), but other parts were influenced
> (deliberately, as you'll note from Tom's introduction) by the fairy tale
> format.

In my initial drafts, the superhero element was given more weight.
Specifically, Santa Claus bore more than a passing resemblance to
another incredibly powerful, ageless, iconic hero who resides in an
artic fortress.  But by the time I wrote "The Teardrop Princess", which
fell squarely into the fairy tale tradition, I realized that this was
the direction I should pursue.

And so many other stories-- ones concentrating more squarely on Santa
vs. Charlie Cooker, for example, were dropped, as they fell more into
that superhero-ey vein and less into the fairy tale.

The text of "A Thousand-Thousand Snowflakes" as it stands in the Annual
was originally only a small part of that particular story.  The
original version followed Santa and his bride as they toured the
palace.  The elves had been massacred and the trophy room ransacked by
the Dark Elf, Whistletuft.

Santa and Whistletuft do battle in the Workshop, and the battle ended
with Whistletuft cast into The Great Furnace.  The idea was, when an
elf is done with a toy, they cast it into the furnace.  The flames of
the furnace do not burn it, but make the toy perfect, more perfect than
any hand, mortal or elf, could ever make it.  When Santa reaches into
his magic bag, he pulls the toy out.

Whistletuft is thrown into the Great Furnace, and Santa pulls out the
dead good and "perfect" elves Whistletuft had destroyed.

As you can see, while it could have been a decent story, it fell more
into the tradition of mythology and Paradise Lost than a fairy tale or
children's story.  And so it was cut.

I kept the references to Whistletuft in, modifying them slightly so as
to suggest that this took place very, very long ago.  I think "A
Thousand-Thousand Snowflakes" works better in its current version,
which concentrates more on the magic and wonder of the whole thing, the
wish fulfillment vibe: the fairy tale aspects.

>  The first tale, while good and with an interesting twist on
> a boy and his guilt complex about his bratty younger sister, didn't
> particularly grab me.

Well, it doesn't really fit, either, does it?  While it could be called
a sort of fairy tale or at the very least a wish-fulfillment story,
it's too close to actual homes and modern day life.  I considered
cutting it many times, and the only reason it stayed in is because it
gets the reader's feet wet.  If I had started with "A Thousand-Thousand
Snowflakes" and Santa romancing Arielle, it might have been too much of
a shock, too blunt.

I knew going in this that readers would either respond to the idea, or
hate it.  With the first story, I was hedging my bets, so to speak--
providing the reader some time to warm up to the idea.

I know it's a strange consideration in fairy tales and superheroic
fantasy, the latter of which is primarily the focus of this group, but
there you go.

>  Had the remainder of the stories been of a
> similarly competent level then this Annual would probably be listed
> under 'Also posted'.  But then the stories wander into the heavily
> mythopoeic, such that although I started reading at around 9:30 at
> night I didn't put the printout I was reading it from down until I was
> finished it... so I didn't get to bed until 1 am.

Wow.  I've crafted my very first page-turner. :-)

Thank you for the kind words, Saxon.

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