Monday, February 23, 2009

"What'll You Have, Hmmmmm?"

To know me is to know that I have an unhealthy appreciation--some would say obsession--with Jerry Lewis. He's the comedian I connected with when I was a kid and for whatever reason, his comedy has never lost its effect on me. Yes, I know he can be a jerk, but one needs to make exceptions for genius (yes, genius...try to image the direction mid-20th century comedy might have taken without the influence of Martin & Lewis and Jerry on his own). The Nutty Professor would be legacy enough for any comedian without even mentioning that he invented the video assistant system for motion picture directors (that's the system that makes a videotape of the scene shot by the film camera so a director can immediately see the results; Jerry came up with it so he could direct himself) but, it's not my job to make excuses for him.

Apparently Hollywood has decided to stop making excuses for him, too and, at last, the 83-year old Jerry received his long overdue Oscar, this in the form of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his more than 50 years work with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, for which he has helped raised over $2 billion since 1966.

Bravo, Jerry!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Who Asked Me?

You want my advice? Normally, I'm not much for giving it, but every now and then some bit of wisdom about writing or the creative process would occur to me and I'd write it down. Before I knew it, I had seven or eight of columns worked up, right around the time my old friend Kirk Chritton of ComicsCareer.Com contacted me to ask if I would answer his "Ten Questions" for his website. I was happy to do so and, while I was at it, inquired as to whether he would be interested in running my "Things I've Learned Along the Way." He was, he is, and you can read the first installment now, with new columns running every Monday.

Friday, February 20, 2009

It's A Capes, Cowls & Costumes Friday. Read It...For The Children!

Over on, there's plenty more reading material to get excited about, including the latest installment of my own Capes, Cowls & Costumes. In this week's thrill-packed episode, I take a look at some widdle kiddie books for kids from tots to teens.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Off We Go, Into The Wild Blue Yonder

It occurred to me one day, about four or five years, that a kiddie-version of the Tom Clancy formula might work. It might...just hasn't yet, but here's the first chapter of what I came up with:

© Paul Kupperberg
Chapter One
Wiesbaden, Germany

Airman Sean Jordan was on a night time training exercise in the densely wooded forest between Wiesbaden and Frankfurt when his new orders came through. Loaded down with almost fifty pounds of protective gear and equipment, the 18-year old E2 was about to lunge from the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter as part of the advance squad sent in to survey and establish a forward area refueling point (FARP) for his group. The chopper had been on the ground twenty-five seconds already, its rotors slicing the cool night air, ready to take to the sky again at a moment’s notice, while the first five men had unloaded, scrambling themselves and their equipment to cover. Sean was the last man out, his M-16 locked and loaded while his eyes swept the LZ on the lookout for bad guys.

The goal was to have the chopper back in the air inside of 45 seconds. Sean intended to be out the door and waving it away in less than that. Every second the massive black machine was motionless on the ground was another opportunity to attract enemy fire. And even though the worst that could happen in a training exercise like this one was to be “killed” by the laser-sight on an opponent’s weapon triggering a sensor on the helicopter or his bulletproof Kevlar combat vest, the blond airman did not like to lose.

Losing meant failure and the fact that Sean Jordan was merely a passenger on the Hawk instead of her pilot meant he had failed enough already.

“We’re clear,” crackled the voice of one of his teammates’s in his helmet’s radio headset.

“Roger that,” Sean replied and took a step toward the hatch before a hand clamped down on his shoulder, stopping him in his tracks.

“Not so fast, airman,” Senior Master Sergeant Rasmussen said. Though the sergeant was right behind him in the chopper, it would have been impossible to hear the older man over the thunderous noise of its beating rotors without the radio headsets they all wore to communicate in the field.

The internal countdown in Sean’s head told him they had been on the ground for going on forty seconds. “What, master sergeant?” he snapped, impatient to be on the ground to his own time-table.

“New orders, airman,” the craggy-faced black man said. “You got a plane to catch back at the base.”

The young Air Force enlisted man was confused. “But we’re in the middle of an exercise, master sergeant.”

“You’re not, not anymore,” Rasmussen smiled. “Dispatch just radioed. Your packet’s come through. You got your transfer, kid.” Then, to the chopper pilot, he said, “Take her up.”

Airman Sean Jordan watched the dark ground fall quickly away from him through the hatch in stunned disbelief.

Over his helmet radio, Sean one of the men he was leaving behind at the LZ asked, “Where you off to, dude?”

As the big machine surged forward at over 150 miles per hour, Airman Sean Jordan stepped back from the crash of air sweeping by the Hawk’s hatch and smiled. “The big show, bud,” he laughed. “See you guys around!”

Wiesbaden Air Force Base, Wiesbaden, Germany

Sean had just twenty minutes to race back to his billet, shower, jump into a clean basic daily uniform (BDU), pack his gear, and hitch a ride back to the flight line.

“We got you deadheading on a Herc leaving at 02300 for Wheeler-Sack, flying light,” the 2nd lieutenant who had met Sean at the chopper pad with the airman’s orders had told him. “You’ll fly commercial the rest of the way to Nellis, reporting no later than 0900 day after, local.” Sean had saluted as he mentally translated the lieutenant’s air force jargon into English: he would be riding an empty C-130 Hercules cargo plane that was returning empty to the States. It was leaving at 11:30 that night for Wheeler-Sack Air Force Base, Fort Drum, in Watertown, New York. From there, Sean would fly a commercial airliner to Los Vegas, Nevada, where he was to report to his new duty at Nellis Air Force Base by 9:00 A.M., local time, the day after tomorrow.

Sean couldn’t believe his luck. The young airman had joined the Air Force with every intention of becoming a pilot. He had assumed that he had a lock on flight training—he was already a flyer, having taken lessons starting when he was 14-years old, soloing in single-engine craft since he was 16. His father and brother were both active duty U.S.A.F. pilots, his grandfather a retired three-star general and Korean War ace. If anyone had ever been born to fly, it was Sean Jordan.

Except, it turned out, he wasn’t, at least not for the Air Force.

While he had the family history, the reflexes, and the skill, what he didn’t have were the eyes for the job. A routine eye exam during his physical work-up for flight training revealed that Sean suffered from a mild form of something called “night blindness.” The docs explained that his vision, though 20/20 in daylight and under well-lighted conditions at night, was inadequate in blackout conditions, like those he would experience on night combat missions. His eyes just didn’t adjust quickly enough or well enough to the dark for it to be safe for him to fly.

What good was it to be in the Air Force if you couldn’t fly? With his grandfather, father, and brother all decorated combat pilots, he felt like the Air Force was the family business, a proud and elite firm that he wanted, desperately, to join. But while those who came before him were the executives, the guys on the frontlines who made the business tick, he wasn’t qualified for anything more than a job as the janitor, part of the ground crew that cleaned up after the men who did the real work. Heartbroken by this turn of events, Sean had considered running out his enlistment and giving up on a military career. But his grandfather had sat him down and set him straight: flying may have seemed to Sean like the one and only glamour job in the Air Force, but there were more ways to serve heroically and with distinction than from the pilot’s seat of a fighter.

“Matter of fact,” his grandfather had chuckled, “compared to the fellows on the ground, the pilot’s got it pretty easy, flying over where most of the shooting’s taking place.”

Sean knew that wasn’t so. Pilots were constantly at risk from anti-aircraft fire, from surface-to-air-missiles, and attack by other aircraft. But he got the message, especially when grandpop started telling him stories about the Air Force special forces units, the men the pilots ferried in to hot zones to engage in ground combat or handle missions that couldn’t be dealt with from the air.

That was all Sean needed to hear. Maybe he couldn’t be a pilot, but that didn’t mean the only jobs left for him were ground crew or maintenance. He asked his grandfather what the best and toughest Air Force combat special forces unit was and the old man answered without hesitation, “R.A.P.I.D. Force, airman. Reconnaissance Air Patrol and Immediate Deployment! There’s not a dirty job you can think of that those boys would back away from.”

Sean had his papers in for R.A.P.I.D. before the end of the next day and now, six months later, he had orders in hand and was on his way to join up with that very unit.

Sean showed his orders to the loadmaster at the tail ramp of the C-130 and hustled up into the belly of the massive aircraft. It was, he noted, one of the new C-130J-30s, almost 35 meters long by 3 meters high of cargo space with a nearly 40 meter wingspan supporting four Rolls-Royce AE2100DS turboprop engines that delivered 4,700 horsepower. This baby had it all, including an advanced two-pilot flight station with fully integrated digital avionics, color multifunctional liquid crystal displays and head-up displays, state-of-the-art navigation systems with global positioning system, fully integrated defensive systems, digital moving map display, and an enhanced cargo-handling system. Fully loaded she could carry about 75,000 kilograms, or 164,000 pounds of cargo at a speed of around 360 kilometers an hour. If her cargo were human beings, she was big enough to handle 128 combat troops or 92 paratroopers.

There wouldn’t be anything like that many aboard tonight, he noticed. A single pallet of seats had been bolted to the deck, offering seating for six, maximum. There was only one other man aboard, already buckled into his seat. He could only see the back of the man’s head, brown-haired flecked with silver, probably an officer, Sean guessed as he stowed his gear in the webbing along the side of the bulkhead.

The man must have heard Sean behind him and turned his head. He was an officer, and Sean didn’t need to see the man’s brass to know he was in the presence of one-star, a brigadier general. Sean snapped to attention and threw a salute.

“General,” he said smartly.

“Airman Jordan,” the general said with a smile as he returned the salute. “How are you, son?”

Sean stayed at attention and said, “I’m fine, dad. How are you?”

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Weekly World News XVIII

A piece I wrote for Weekly World News in September 2005:

© Weekly World News

Washington, D.C. – One of the most divisive issues in America today remains the debate over the validity of scientific theory. From evolution versus intelligent design to global warming versus benign climatic change, political differences seem to have spilled over into the laboratory.

But the latest and most vocal debate seems to be over the concept of what has been, until recently, one of the bedrocks of science: gravity.

“This nonsense has been going on long enough,” declared the 700 Club’s Pat Robertson. “It’s about time someone planted their feet firmly on the ground and spoke out against this unproven, so-called ‘scientific theory.’”

Doctor Sam “Right” Winger, a professor of Religious Sciences at Bob Jones University, agrees. “Has anyone ever actually seen gravity? Of course not, because it doesn’t exist. Why, anybody who’s ever read the Bible knows that the Earth and everything on it was created in seven days, and nowhere is gravity mentioned. No, the reason we don’t float off the face of the planet is because the good Lord gave us this world and wants us to stay put.”

“Thanks to Dr. Winger’s clear and concise analysis of the situation, we feel confident this is the right thing to do,” said House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) in an announcement with his Senate colleague, majority leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee). “That’s why we’ve put forth joint resolution HR-666, repealing the so-called Law of Gravity.”

“Isaac Newton, who wasn’t even an American,” said an outraged Senator Frist, “perpetrated this hoax on the world based on having an apple fall on his head. It never occurred to this heretic, who also gave the world calculus—which, by the way, we’re going after next—that this was actually the Lord’s way of trying to smite him for his wrong-headed thoughts instead of proof of some asinine theory.”

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, “The president has long believed that gravity should be a faith-based initiative instead of something mandated by law.”

“I’ve always believed gravity is the work of the good Lord. Back when I was in the Air National Guard,” the president quipped to reporters on his way to a two-week vacation at his Crawford, Texas ranch, “I used to pray He would keep me in the air every time I had to fly. Which wasn’t often.”

Responding to claims by the scientific community that gravity is a proven force of nature, Dr. Winger said, “It’s all right there in the Bible, in Genesis, verse 7: ‘And God made the firmament and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so.’ Heaven up, firmament down, God’s will. I don’t know what else you need, but if it makes you feel any better, even NASA agrees with us.”

“Of course! It’s obvious,” agreed Todd T. Toddman, director of the National Anti-Scientific Association (NASA).

Representative Tom DeLay (R-Texas) said, “Look, I understand some people might not be comfortable with the religious aspect of this matter, so for them—though they’re going to hell—let’s just say, if an American doesn't want to keep his feet on the ground, there shouldn't be a law that forces him to!”

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Happy Birthday, Abie Baby, Happy Birthday To You

Since this is supposed to be about writing, I can't resist running this, one of the greatest pieces of American writing by a U.S. President or anyone. And make no mistake, there were no speech writers behind these simple, elegant 271 words, just the pen of one man, Abraham Lincoln, in a "few appropriate remarks" dedicating the Soldiers Cemetery at Gettysburg, setting the Union's war policy, and confirming his dedication to eradicate slavery without ever once uttering the word.

Read it. It only takes a minute and it might just remind you of what we're supposed to stand for.

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

"Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

"But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
November 19, 1863

Friday, February 13, 2009

...And, Finally, To My Agent, Morty, Without Whom None of This Would've Been Possible!

My friend Rob over at the Aquaman Shrine (a fixture in the "Linky Goodness" section), has done me the kindness of presenting me the coveted Premios Dardo Award for "unique voices and visions on the web."

The Premios Dardo is, like the web itself, an individual effort, given by bloggers to other bloggers, to pass along, sharing the appreciation and the love. (Jeez. I'm a blogger. Who knew?) And I do. About 60 people read this thing and I'm glad you all take the time to see what I have to offer and I'm flattered Rob thought enough of me to single me out.

To get the Premios Dardo is to give it as well and the rules are, as I understand it (and cut and pasted from another recipient's blog):

1) Accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and a link to his/her blog.
2) Pass the award to another 5 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment, remembering to contact each of them to let them know they have been selected for this award.

Alrighty then:

Ed Gorman's BLOG features the thoughts of hard-hitting, tooth-loosening author Gorman. What more do you need?

My dear friend Robert Greenberger contributes his Notes From A Final Frontiersman, all about his work, his interests, his life and family, no holds barred and, considering what the last year held for them, some pretty gut-wrenchingly honest writing.

Super Reader: Superhero Prose Fiction is a no-frills site that catalogues and discusses one of my favorite comics-related subjects, superhero prose fiction.

Writer Tod Goldberg is a misanthrope...but in a good way. One of my people (or at his level of cultural incredulity, I'm more likely one of his people). He's also funny as hell and always leaves me wondering why "fucktard" hasn't yet caught on as a national catchphrase.

Artist Steve Brodner is one of the country's leading editorial cartoonists and has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Esquire, and pert near everywhere else. We went to high school together and I've been a fan since the day I first saw him draw--he's also one of the smartest people I've ever known with a keen insight into what makes this country run.

All worth checking out.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Here's to Dean Martin, posthumous recipient of the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Grammy. For Sinatra, cool came with practice. Dino was born with it.

New York Comicon: Aftermath

And a fine time was had by all. I don't know how many people attended the 2009 New York Comicon at the Javits Center this weekend, but the show sold out and sometimes, it felt as though I knew just about every third person in the room. I saw tons of old friends, some of whom I haven't seen in a decade or more, and many, many more convention friends (people you see once, twice a year at comic cons but seldom anywhere else).

This year, I brought a sketchbook and came home with a few choice pieces by some of those old friends and acquaintances which, still being a fanboy deep in my heart, I just had to share. As always, click on an image to see it at a larger size.

All characters (c) respective copyright holders

JUDGE DREDD by Brian Bolland. Brian did lots and lots of covers for me during my tenure at DC Comics, including a two-year run on Wonder Woman covers, but I couldn't resist having him do a Dredd sketch. It just goes so well with my Carlos Ezquerra (co-creator of the character) Judge Dredd sketch.

CAPTAIN ACTION by John Hebert, with whom I've been doing the "Classic" Captain Action back-up stories for Moonstone Comics. Response to our efforts have been so good that we were given the go ahead to do a Captain Action Classic one-shot.

JUDGE DREDD by Anthony Williams. Anthony drew one of the story arcs in the DC Comics licensed Judge Dredd comics that I edited in the mid-90s.

SCOOBY DOO by Joe Staton. I can't count how much Joe and I have worked together over the the years (The New Doom Patrol, Legion of Super-Heroes), and, when I was editing in DC's Licensed Publishing Department, Joe was always my No. 1 go-to guy for anything in the animated style...and I continued working with him at Weekly World News and World Wrestling 'cause he's just that good, fast and reliable.

IMPULSE by Craig Rousseau. I hired Craig to replace the departing artist on Impulse, one of the handful of artists I first gave work to who went on to better things.

KID FLASH by Alex Saviuk, a commemoration of the single Kid Flash back-up story we did together about 30 years ago.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

It's A New York Comicon Edition of Capes, Cowls & Costumes!

Actually, the latest installment of my column, Capes, Cowls & Costumes has absolutely nothing to do with the New York Comicon, where I am today. Instead, it's about Wonder Woman's appearances in novels and short stories, which is a whole lot more interesting than novels about comic book conventions. Well, in most cases.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

New York Comicon: See You This Weekend?

Planning on being at this weekend's New York Comic Convention at the Jacob Javits Center (February 6 - 9)? What a small world. Me too! I'll be wandering the convention on Friday and Saturday, so if you spot me, please don't be shy about coming on over and saying hello.

I'll also be moderating a panel on Friday evening at 6:00 in Room 1A17 on Superheroes in Prose, with guests Greg Rucka, Marv Wolfman, Ron Goulart and Keith RA DeCandido.

And I'll be signing copies of Captain Action #2 (and anything else you care to bring with you) at the Captain Action Booth (#1862) on Saturday at 3:00, also with Marv Wolfman. Plus, I'll likely be dropping in on the Moonstone Comics booth as well. Come on by and say hello.

Wear comfortable shoes.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Weekly World News XVII

Another from the archives of the late, lamented Weekly World News. I wrote this one back in October 2005, but it's as fresh today as it was back then. That's all supposed to change soon, right?

© Weekly World News

Washington, D.C. – When you want to buy the latest line of Joan Rivers jewelry or the complete Heroes of NASCAR Autographed Collectible Card Set from the comfort of your Barcalounger, you tune in to one of many home shopping networks.

When you want to watch the behind-the-scenes minutia of the democratic process, you flip over to C-PANT (Cable Public Affair Network Television).

When you want to buy political influence, you turn to one of the many political lobbying groups in Washington, D.C.

But what about those who want to buy political influence from the comfort of their own Barcalounger?

Those are the ones who should check their local listings for the merger of these two cable-TV staples into PS-PANT (Political Shopping Public Affairs Network Television).

Cable TV mogul Hubert Morlock announced PS-PANT at a press conference held in the Capitol rotunda. “I became an American citizen as much for my love of democracy as for tax purposes,” the Australian born Morlock told reporters. “PS-PANT makes paid political influence available right on your TV and gives everyone access to affordable democracy.”

PS-PANT will continue to air its usual fare of Senate and House sessions, speeches, and call-in talk shows...but in a box inset in the lower right hand corner of the screen. The rest of the screen will show the new political influence sales programming.

“Don’t get the wrong idea,” said programming director Brian “Red” DuMont. “PS-PANT will sell a lot of different stuff. Collectibles. Memorabilia. Political art. And, yes, political influence.”

Hugh Smiley is host of Influence Peddlers, the nightly four-hour prime-time program featuring genuine Washington lobbyists offering their services for sale to the home viewer.

“It works just like any other home shopping channel,” Mr. Smiley said. “We present the product—in this case, the lobbyists who know who to go to in order to get things done in Washington—and you call in to buy it.

“For example, you might have a problem with, say, the high price of milk. So you’d call in when we have on a dairy industry lobbyist and hire him to lobby on your behalf to get higher subsidies for dairy farmers, thus keeping down the cost of milk.

“However, if you’re against increased subsidies, we’ll also feature lobbyists you can hire to work against them. We’ll have lobbyists on for every budget and political belief, as well as special local programming to help you buy influence in your area.”

Influence Peddling is just one of three daily four-hour political influence shopping shows on PS-PANT. “As much as we’re about political influence peddling for the masses, we haven’t forgotten the heavy rollers,” chuckled Mr. Smiley. “Every night at midnight, we bring out the big guns. I’m talking big oil, big steel, the high-end tech companies, pharmaceuticals and the like. You’re gonna need your gold card to buy into this club, my friend.”

“We’re revolutionizing politics and TV,” Hubert Morlock said when he announced PS-PANT to the nation. “It’s our hope that before too long, you won’t be able to tell the difference between the two.”