If I were to tell you that I am Iron Man would you believe me? Have you ever seen the two of us in the same room together? Would you be convinced if I were to show you these awesomely invincible alt-posters?
ALT-POSTR-MONDAY: IRON MAN
I’m not really sure how to start this post. About a month or so ago I posted what was nothing more than a ‘Sorry, We’re Closed’ sign to give the indication that I was through with blogging. For the most part, that’s a true statement. However, posting a post like this without giving any solid reason is not a fair thing to do. So this, take it or leave it, is my explanation as to why. It’s quite simple and it all boils down to one solid reason:
I love my wife.
When my wife and I first met, neither one of us had any intention of ‘getting serious’ and having the other as their sole companion. We figured we would date a bit, go out for drinks, shoot pool, sing karaoke (yes, we sing karaoke) and just have a little fun. But then one day we were together and she looked at me and said, “I’m just crazy about you”; and I knew right then and there that the feeling was mutual. That day I knew that I had found someone that was special to me in ways I couldn’t begin to imagine. Here was a woman that I knew was not only going to one day become my wife; but she was also going to be my best friend and my soul mate. My wife has done more for me and my life and my self-esteem than anyone I have ever known. She is patient, loving and gentle when she needs to be; and she is quick to hold me accountable for my bullshit when I tend to act like an ass. One of the things I used to do with her was that I would point at her, and then at myself and then mimic tying a bow between us and I would mouth the words, ‘you complete me’. To some, that would be a hokey, nausea inducing gesture. To the two of us, nothing could have been truer.
But then I started writing this blog. Everything went well to begin with and my wife was, and still is, my biggest fan. The trouble is not her fault. The trouble is my fault. This blog began to consume my time. My wife would go to bed alone at night while I sat in a dark room watching some movie just so I could say a few witty words about it for the entire world to see. I neglected her more and more and the thing is that because I was doing so great with the blog I just couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Here was a woman that loved me with all her heart and I was brushing her off like so much dandruff from my shoulders. But one day, early 2013, the back broke and the camel collapsed. In December I made the goal that I was going to post at least once a day, every day from the 1st to the 31st. I did it; and it exhausted me. I took a few days off at the beginning of January and then wrote my review for Fright Night. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks tossed by the Incredible Hulk at a distance of only five feet. Allow me to explain.
I was at my laptop one night trying to think of what to do for my next post when I heard my wife clear her throat from our bedroom across the hall. WHAM! BRICKS UPSIDE MY HEAD!! HULK SMASH!!! I thought to myself, what am I doing? Is this blog more important than a wife who loves you with all her heart? Is it worth losing her over a few witty words? Let me answer that in the most eloquent manner I can come up with.
I turned off the computer and I went into the bedroom and I held my wife and I told her I loved her.
I made a choice. I chose my wife. I have my best friend and my soul mate back. I will never let anyone or anything get in the way of that ever again.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER-United States-2011
But enough about the others, I’m here to tell you what I think about Captain America. I can sum it up in one word. Eh. There are some moments in the film that should have been amazing to watch, but they were just…there. I believe that Chris Evans was a good physical fit as the good Captain, but I really didn’t find his screen presence to be all that great. To be honest, I had more fun watching Hugo Weaving chew the scenery as Johann Schmidt/The Red Skull than I did Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America. But, I digress. I don’t lay the blame squarely on Evan’s shoulders. I lay the blame solely on one person and that person is director Joe Johnston. Up to and including Captain America, I have yet to see a motion picture from Johnston that wasn’t half-ass. Jumanji-boring. Jurassic Park III-worst of the series. The Wolfman-not bad, not good, just there.
That’s the way I feel about Captain America: The First Avenger. It’s just there, that’s all.
Jon Favreau was originally chosen by Marvel Studios to direct this film (which he intended to make as a buddy comedy), but he chose to direct Iron Man. Nick Cassavetes, was also considered to direct this film, and had been set as a director forIron Man in December 2004.
Louis Leterrier viewed some of the concept art for the film, and was impressed enough to offer his services, but Marvel Studios turned him down. However, his film The Incredible Hulk features a small appearance by Captain America: a deleted scene set in the Arctic features his body hidden in a slab of ice.
Hugo Weaving based the Red Skull’s accent on renowned German filmmakers Werner Herzog and Klaus Maria Brandauer.
This is something I don’t usually do; but it has been brought to my attention that I may have been a bit harsh in my critcism of Chris Evans in his role as Captain America. I admit that my review was based on having the film upon it’s release and was therefore based in turn on memory. I re-watched the film last night and I am not afraid to admit that I was wrong. Evans does a highly credible job in the role and should be commended. I still stand by my criticism of director Joe Johnston. My rating for the film now moves up from a 2 blood drop rating to 3.
An Interview with Brian Easton
Brian Easton is the author of ‘The Autobiography of a Werewolf Hunter’ and ‘Heart of Scars’. I asked him via e-mail if he would agree to an interview and he graciously accepted.
Brian, I read ‘When the Autumn Moon is Bright’ and Heart of Scars’ and they are without a doubt two of the most passionately written novels of any genre that I have ever read. Was it difficult maintaining such a constant level of intensity throughout both novels in the series?
From the get-go I tried to write a werewolf novel that was as true to life as possible. My thinking was that if I could write from a real world perspective then suspending disbelief for the existence of werewolves wouldn’t be as difficult. I think that kind of paradigm lends itself to the kind of intensity you mentioned, and it’s also a good fit for an anti-hero driven by hatred and guilt. So no, I didn’t find that aspect of the writing all that difficult.
How did you come up with the main character of Sylvester Logan James? Is there any basis to him from the real world?
The origin of SLJ has its roots in the pre-teen brain of a 70’s “monster-kid.” At ten years old my mom gave me her old manual Royal typewriter and I started writing stories that I stapled together into home-made comic books. Among my stable of heroes and villains I conceived of a monster-hunting super-hero team called Werewolf Stalker and Vampire Slayer who were, humorously enough, inspired by an episode of the old sit-com, Laverne and Shirley. When I gave these heroes “secret identities” I chose the name Sylvo James for the Werewolf Stalker and Sonny Carol for the Vampire Slayer. There were so many vampire killers around, even in the 70s, Sonny Carol sort of fell by the wayside and I focused instead on his werewolf-killing counterpart. There didn’t seem to be any werewolf killers around back then. The character sort of grew up with me and by the time I started taking him seriously he’d evolved into Sylvester Logan James, a composite of several different historic and fictional personalities, among them: Frontiersman Lewis Wetzel, Jonah Hex, Wild Bill Hickok, Wade Garret and my own father.
Wait a minute. Are you telling me that Sylvester Logan James was inspired by Lenny and Squiggy of Laverne and Shirley fame? What episode of that show could possibly inspire you to create one of the most bad-ass characters in all of fiction?
Yup, that’s exactly what I’m telling you. There was an episode from later in the series where Lenny and Squiggy walk into Laverne’s father’s pizzeria dressed as mountain men. I think they were coming from or going to a costume/Halloween party. Anyway, one of them says, “I am Wolf Slayer,” and the other says “I am Bear Stalker.” And I thought, what cool names, and how much cooler if there were a Werewolf Stalker and a Vampire Slayer. So yeah, weird as it is I have to give props to Laverne and Shirley.
Why werewolves? What is it about them that made you choose them over any of the popular monsters of our day such as vampires or zombies?
I’ve been fascinated by werewolves since I was a little kid. Even before I’d seen The Wolf Man I’d gotten hold of Marvel Comics and Power Records Curse of the Werewolf comic and 45 LP. I was mesmerized by it until my father, an ordained minister, took it away. He perceived the werewolf not as a fanciful invention or even an ancient legend, but as a demonic creature straight from the pits of hell. Naturally, this influenced my perception of the monster as well and my father’s hatred for the very notion of werewolves became the seminal inspiration for SLJ, years before I’d even created him. If I analyze why I prefer werewolves to other creatures of the night I think it probably stems from the fact that I’ve always seen the werewolf as the toughest monster on the block. I mean, the Wolf Man is faster and infinitely more agile than the Mummy or the Frankenstein Monster, stronger and more ferocious than Dracula and plus he’s got fangs and claws—this was my rationale. I figured the only Universal Monster who might be able to take him was the Gill Man, but only in the water.
I read that your father was a pastor and I wondered how he felt about your interests. Has he ever come around to understanding why it is you write and study about what you do?
You know, my father is a very even-tempered man and although he discouraged my interest in horror, by the time I’d become a teenager there were other, more tangible issues to worry about. I think he pretty much understands where I’m coming from today, and takes issue with my use of profanity more than anything.
Do you believe that you will one day be identified with the werewolf genre as much as Anne Rice was with the vampire?
That would be nice, of course, but I have no such expectations or illusions. Primarily, my books are about the man who hunts the monsters and that’s a problem for a lot of fans of the genre. The werewolf doesn’t get as much face time in my novels as it does it others. If anything I’d like to live up to the title horror Editor Miles Boothe has given me—The Godfather of Monster Hunting.
I can understand what you mean about fans of the monsters not understanding. In this day of Team Edward and Team Jacob the first mention you make of harming either one of their pretty little heads sends teenage girls into frenzy. Do you feel that writers like Stephanie Meyer have hurt the genre?
I would say that she’s hurt the genre without actually being part of the genre. She and authors like her have carved out this whole paranormal romance niche, which is fine for tweens and lonely middle age housewives, but it’s not horror. The damage stems from the general public not recognizing the difference. How many times I’ve had to restrain myself when someone has said to me, “Oh, you write about werewolves? You must love Twilight.” If you put Twilight in the same room with real horror, it’s going to be thrown a country ass-whooping like the sensitive kid on the playground.
You feature Peter Stubbe as the ancient werewolf who antagonizes Sylvester James in ‘Heart of Scars’. Do you see him as being on the same level that Count Dracula was in the Stoker novel? In other words, where the Count was the king vampire, is Stubbe the king of the werewolves?
Funny you should make that comparison because that’s precisely where I was working from when I settled on Stubbe for Heart of Scars. I’d been giving a lot of thought to Dracula and wondered who could be considered the Count’s werewolf counterpart? Peter Stubbe seemed to best fit the bill since he was one of the earliest acknowledged werewolf cases and perhaps the most well documented of any. I thought if Stoker could create Count Dracula from the historical Vlad Tepes then what might be possible for the likes of Stubbe? I’d originally thought to write a book outside the SLJ series, focusing on Stubbe as the werewolf equivalent to Dracula, but in the end I decided not to wait and put him to work in Heart of Scars.
Any plans to actually write the Stubbe book?
It would be an interesting project, but right now I have too many other ideas simmering behind the scenes.
What’s next for Sylvester James? Is there a third book in the series?
I’ve been working on ‘The Lineage’ since January, third book in the Autobiography of a Werewolf Hunter series. My intention has always been to make the story a trilogy and call it done, but if I think there’s more fight left in SLJ, who knows? Once ‘The Lineage’ is finished the big project on the horizon is ‘Winterfox’, the prequel to Autobiography which will chronicle the life and times of Sylvester’s mentor and grandfather, Michael Winterfox.
So there’s not only a third book, but a fourth, also. Can you share some ideas with my readers without giving away too much of what you have in store for us?
I really want to give Michael Winterfox the attention he deserves. He’s a fairly enigmatic figure in the Autobiography series and he’s older than dirt, so writing his story will be challenging on a few different levels. I have a feeling that Winterfox will be a huge volume, and a real challenge to write. Actually, the thought of sitting down to write it gives me pause and no small amount of fear; the perfect way to start. Beyond that I have a persistent idea for a western-horror piece, and also a sort of horror-comedy that draws from the margins of the Autobiography series.
On your website hauntedjack.com you have a section dedicated to the old school monster films like Dracula, The Wolf Man and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. What is your opinion of the current state of the horror film today?
In a word: Pitiful.
From my way of thinking there are horror films and then there are monster movies, and there is some overlap of course, but what I miss most about modern horror films are the monsters that put the genre on the map. Today’s horror seems to have ditched the monsters in favor of other, “cleverer” plot devices.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good horror film whether there’s a monster in it or not, but unfortunately these are hard to come by. What I see are mediocre remakes and films that seem to rely solely on gore or special effects to draw their audience. How about a plot without holes big enough to land a plane in? How about good storytelling or passable acting? Sadly, these seem to be lost commodities and the genre is languishing because of it.
You have a degree in anthropology and have studied the occult for over 25 years. How has this helped you in your writing and the formation of your characters?
My background in socio-cultural anthropology has been especially helpful in creating characters from a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities, hopefully without succumbing to stereotypes. My occult research has been one of the foundation stones of my writing and has allowed me to incorporate real aspects of the supernatural into my stories. Topics like voodoo and Native American mysticism have played prominent roles in the Autobiography series, as have ghosts and phenomena such as clairvoyance, possession, and divination. Thanks to my studies I can incorporate these kinds of things into fiction while being faithful to their various non-fiction occult traditions.
Some people need more convincing than others. What would you say to convince people to read your novels?
All I can guarantee is my monsters don’t sparkle and my protagonist doesn’t gratuitously take off his shirt. I can promise an unflinching look at redemption through violence where blood and guts are rendered with a purpose, and shame lurks behind every perceived victory. This is a sordid world of scabby knuckles and broken teeth where hatred is a sovereign god, the squeamish need not apply.
I want to thank Brian Easton for taking the time for this interview. I want to remind my readers that if you haven’t given his novels a shot then you are sorely missing out. There is much more to Sylvester Logan James than being a werewolf hunter. Take care and stay scared everybody!
Oh, and before I forget, I want to thank Brian’s brother, Bradley Easton. Without his help this interview might never have happened. Thanks, Bradley, for passing it on.