The In Between
Newsletter 11 August
Out Next Month!
It’s getting closer to reality! The Revealer One-Shot, my first professionally published comic book writing, is almost here. I’ll have a lot more to say next month after it’s out (it’s been delayed from August 31 to September 14) but I’m really excited for people to read this. There are four stories that tell tales of four characters from the Shudder original movie Revealer. My story centers around the character Ray, and takes place hours before the start of the movie. There’s a great range of art in the Vault Comics book. The story focused on Asmodeus is especially fun because it looks like it could have come straight out of a comic book in the 70s or 80s. And there’s good reason for that. The artist actually worked on books back then!
Above you can see the three covers for the one-shot. The “C” cover (furthest to the right) is a 1 in 15 incentive cover. So if you see that one I recommend snapping it up! The creatives behind the movie (including comic book writers Tim Seeley and Michael Moreci) are all contributing to the writing as well. You can pick it up at your local comic shop. You can find your local shop here.
Neither Here Nor There
This is my birthday month. As birth months go, I like August. Not that I had much choice, of course. My only complaints growing up were that: 1. I didn’t get to play with the toys I got as presents very long before school started. 2. My birthday didn’t feel like a summer birthday or a fall birthday. I didn’t get to take food in for my birthday, because it was usually a few days before school started, and what insane person shows up for the first day of school with cupcakes?
Based on my birth year, I’m usually considered part of Generation X. Which is a weird fit. I was painting signs for the Homecoming festival, helping to make the effigy for the big bonfire in the school bus garage listening to Nirvana and Soundgarden, and wearing a plaid shirt around my waist in junior high school. By the time I graduated high school boy bands and Britney Spears had taken over. Of course, I personally was listening to a weird conglomeration of Seal, Everything But the Girl, Enya, Robert Miles, Enigma, and Loreena McKennitt.
My very young years were in the 80s. But the time I was most aware and becoming a complex emotional being was mostly in the 90s. So I’ve always considered myself a child of the 80s and the 90s. They’ve even tried to coin a new phrase for those of us in this strange generational limbo. The term is Xennials and I hate it. Maybe that’s very Gen-X of me.
What am I getting at here? Well, most of my life has been spent in what I’ve come to think of as the “In Between.”
Hell, even astrological charts don’t know what to do with me. I’m sometimes listed as a Leo and sometimes as a Virgo. Although, as my friend Laura likes to point out, I’m definitely a Virgo. Growing up, being “gay” meant something a lot narrower than it does now, at least in small-town Indiana. I never felt gay enough to be accepted by the gays or straight enough to be accepted by the straights. Thankfully, this has changed massively. My understanding—both about myself and what being queer was about—grew, for one thing. So did the culture around me. There’s a lot more diversity in what being gay or queer even means. There’s a lot more understanding of the vast and complex ways in which sexual identity, gender, gender expression, etc. can fuse and collide and make unique and beautiful identities that are ill-defined by a box. I mean, when I was coming to grips with my homosexuality, people didn’t even think bisexuals existed!
All of this “In Between”-ness—combined with other things in my personality—always made me feel like an observer. If you’d told me I was an alien sent to observe the human species I wouldn’t have been surprised. Maybe that’s why I gravitated toward characters like Spock or Data from Star Trek when I was a kid. I liked the role of the observer. I liked imagining that I was somehow outside of human experience looking in. It was a safe place to be. But it wasn’t a place I could stay forever. As Caterine Vauban (played to perfection by Isabelle Huppert) says in I Heart Huckabees “It is inevitable to be drawn back into human drama.”
Life pulled me out of my observer comfort zone on more than one occasion. Sometimes quite violently and with emotional shockwaves I’m still dealing with years and decades later. Some of that, though, was to my benefit. I learned how to be a better partner. I learned how to be a better friend. I’m still learning those things. But I’m also remembering the value of being “In Between.” There’s calm and there’s rest there. There’s also power in remembering that although you can put on whatever “socially acceptable” cosplay society demands from you, that doesn’t change who you are when you remember you’re only wearing a mask. Especially when you allow yourself to be fully yourself whenever you can. When you find and gather your friends, your family, your found family—people who love all of you. Who support you instead of minimize you, but aren’t afraid to take you down a peg when you get too full of yourself. I very much rely on mine for those things. People who help you remember you’re both the most important person in your own world capable of fantastic things, but also the tiniest little creature on the smallest speck of dust in the universe.
I think there’s great beauty and power in the “In Between” as long as you make sure you have an anchor to keep you grounded and connected. Don’t be afraid of it. Embrace it. Embrace it for yourself and, perhaps most importantly, embrace it when it comes to others.
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Things I’ve Greatly Enjoyed
This doesn’t seem to be everyone’s favorite Jordan Peele movie. It’s not even mine. But that doesn’t mean I thought it wasn’t a finely crafted piece of cinema. I loved the ambition. I loved the thematic elements of the Gordy storyline and how it related to the main plot. Keke Palmer and David Kaluuya were great, and I 100% believed them as siblings. There were a few things that didn’t work for me. Angel (the Frye’s Electronics guy) was an awkward, strange presence in the movie in a way I didn’t really gel with. But I thought all of that was pretty minor in the overall experience.
I am a huge Neil Gaiman fan. But I came to him mostly via his books first. I bought the Absolute editions of all the Sandman and Death comics. But, I must confess, I haven’t read them all. Just the first two volumes of Sandman. That doesn’t mean I’m a huge fan of them, just that I’m apparently taking my sweet time savoring them. Having now experienced the stories covered in the first season as a comic, an audio play, and now a TV show, it’s fun to see the different ways different media adapt the story. Unlike the murky American Gods, I’m happy to say this show does Gaiman’s work proud. The casting is really perfect across the board. With special mentions for Mason Alexander Park (Desire,) Kirby Howell-Baptiste (Death), Gwendoline Christie (Lucifer,) and Boyd Holbrook (The Corinthian.) Each are absolutely magnetic in their roles. I got very teary-eyed about The Sound of Her Wings, a story that means a lot to me. BONUS: Netflix just dropped more of The Sandman today! I can’t wait to watch. The cover two stories: “Calliope” and “A Dream of A Thousand Cats.”
I do have to give a lot of accolades to Tom Sturridge’s Morpheus as well. Physically, he brings a strange beauty that reminds me a bit of Matt Smith from Doctor Who. His voice is absolutely perfect. It’s not easy acting as both an aloof nigh-unknowable entity (as Dream is in the early stories) and the central character of an ongoing show. Especially one that’s sometimes almost incidental to the story at hand. But he (and the writers) really make it work. And it’ll be exciting to see him evolve.
What We Do In the Shadows
I’ve been wanting to watch this forever. I just hadn’t gotten around to it. I was a huge fan of the movie. Somehow, the show builds on the movie and is even better. I binged the whole series very quickly and have been enjoying the new (fourth) season immensely. The characters are well wrought, and it is reliably hilarious. I’m sure to be smiling through every episode, with frequent laughs and, sometimes, laughter so hard I run out of breath.
Another show with incredibly well-written characters. Deborah Vance and Ava are two enthralling characters whose relationship is a joy to see evolve. Jean Smart and Hannah Einbender expertly deliver a show that’s both hilariously caustic and surprisingly sweet.
New Animal by Ella Baxter
I picked this up with a few other books from Exile in Bookville in Chicago while we were there to see the Tori Amos concert. I love going to curated bookstores and finding books I might not discover otherwise. This little gem is about a mortuary cosmetologist, suffering from a catastrophic loss, who goes to Tasmania to stay with her birth father. While there, she experiments with the BDSM scene. I’d call the latter more of a dabbling than anything else. The writing is very smart and insightful, with a depiction of grief (not just from the main character, but from those around her) that feels very authentic and is often darkly humorous.
In the Mountains of Madness: The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of H.P. Lovecraft by W. Scott Poole
I was a latecomer to Lovecraft. My first exposure, somehow, was with the (much missed) 2015 action figure line The Legends of Cthulhu from Warpo Toys. I’m not quite sure how I, a person very immersed in geekdom, had not encountered Lovecraft’s world before that. But, there it is. I’ve since read many of his stories. Audible had some excellently narrated versions read by Wayne June, but sadly they seem to be gone now. I highly recommend them, though, if you can seek them out. June is an effectively creepy narrator. Anyway, to discover Lovecraft is to discover that the man was not only quite odd in his own right, but was also a racist and anti-Semite. This book by W. Scott Poole doesn’t flinch when examining the author’s life and legacy. I read Poole’s excellent Wasteland: The Great War and the Origins of Modern Horror, so I knew I’d be in good hands here. Poole has a way of illuminating the history of his subjects in a way that is both entertaining and insightful.
Monthly Occasional Memorable Internet Image
A not-by-me image I stumbled upon.
One Year Hence
Wow, a year! A whole freaking year on Substack. It’s been an interesting journey, to say the least. I started this newsletter for a couple reasons. To promote (what was) the imminent release of my book, In the Dark of the Grove, and to provide myself a space where I could release more of my fiction/thoughts into the world. I think next month I’ll do a full rumination on the state of this Substack, what is working and what isn’t. But there was more important stuff this month.
See you next month!