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June 25th, 2013

Gabriel Corbera Drawing the Miizzzard

Filed under: Inspiration — Tags: , — William Cardini @ 11:42 am

Check out this amazing drawing that Gabriel Corbera made of the Miizzard:

Gabriel Corbera Miizzzard Drawing

I’m a big fan of Corbera’s comics, especially his Monday Suicide series, an out-there mashup of thick black lines, patterns, monsters, and male pattern baldness.

June 21st, 2013

Vortex #4 Cover and Endpapers Previews

Filed under: Print Comics — Tags: — William Cardini @ 11:28 am

Vortex 4 Cover Preview

Vortex 4 Endpapers Preview

June 14th, 2013

Future Shock #4 and Vortex #1-3 at Farewell Books and CAKE; Vortex #4 Progress Update

Filed under: Events,Print Comics — Tags: , — William Cardini @ 11:26 am

I’ve dropped copies of Future Shock #4 and Vortex #1-3 off at Farewell Books here in Austin, located in Domy’s old space.

Farewell Books logo

If you’re going to CAKE this weekend in Chicago, Kevin Czap will also have a few copies of the new Future Shock.

Vortex 4 endpapers work-in-progress
I’ve decided to draw the endpapers for this issue. My hand hurts.

I’ve been making good progress on Vortex. I’ve decided that #4 will be the final issue and I’ve pencilled all the way to the end. I’m over halfway done inking it also. My goal is to get the drawing done in June.

June 4th, 2013

Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber – the Merlin Cycle

Filed under: SF Reviews — Tags: , — William Cardini @ 11:00 am

I’ve now finished the two five-book cycles that Roger Zelazny set in his Amber cosmos, the Corwin cycle, which I wrote about here, and the Merlin cycle.

Trumps of Doom by Zelazny, cover by Geoff Taylor
Trumps of Doom is the sixth Amber novel and the first one in the Merlin cycle. Cover by Geoff Taylor.

From reviews I saw on Amazon and Goodreads, I expected to not like the Merlin cycle as much as the Corwin cycle. Maybe it was because of these lowered expectations, but I enjoyed Merlin, maybe more so than Corwin. While Corwin is a charismatic rogue, Merlin is a fair-minded nerd. I wrote about how Corwin ground the first five books with his contemporary sensibility, but now that I’ve read the next five books, I’d amend that – Corwin is modern noir and Merlin is contemporary cyberpunk. As an example, at the beginning of the first book, Trumps of Doom, Merlin has just quit a computer startup in the Bay Area and is going off to check on the artificial intelligence he built in the hinterlands of Shadow.

Sign of Chaos by Zelazny, cover by Geoff Taylor
Sign of Chaos is the eighth Amber novel and the third one in the Merlin cycle. Cover also by Geoff Taylor.

In many ways, the Merlin cycle parallels the Corwin cycle structurally. We begin on Earth but are swiftly inducted into Amberite intrigue. We go through several rounds of mysterious betrayals and reversals until the true powers behind events are revealed. The plotting centers on family dynamics and, once again, a missing father. Although Zelazny adds layers of motivations, meanings, and metaphysics to his cosmos, the stakes feel lower this second go round. Both cycles end abruptly, but Prince of Chaos leaves many more threads undone than The Courts of Chaos. I see on Wikipedia that several short stories round out the saga – I’ll track those down.

Tim White cover painting for Sign of Chaos by Zelazny
This is the painting that Tim White did for a different cover of Sign of Chaos.

One way in which the Merlin cycle vastly improves on the Corwin cycle is in the portrayal of and roles given to women. The one-dimensional lovers, sisters, and mostly absent mother are replaced with a crowd of vibrant, multi-faceted women. I don’t recall a moment that passes the Bechdel test but Merlin’s complicated (and importantly, changing) relationships with his mother, the mother of his best friend, his ex-girlfriend Julia, and the female demon following him give these novels so much of their depth and drive most of the plot.

French cover of Knight of Shadows by Zelazny, cover by Florence Magnin
This is the French cover of Knight of Shadows, the ninth Amber novel and the fourth one in the Merlin cycle. Cover by Florence Magnin.

The imagery in the Merlin cycle matches and sometimes exceeds the psychedelia of the Corwin cycle. Not content to simply rehash hellrides through Shadow and the silvery gleam of Tir-na Nog’th, Zelazny shows us the stark stage beneath the puppetry of Shadow and takes us to the pit of Chaos. In between we visit the inhospitable cave where Ghostwheel computes on his otherworldly circuitry and the Mad Hatter’s bar.

French cover of Prince of Chaos by Zelazny, cover by Florence Magnin
This is the French cover of Prince of Chaos, the tenth Amber novel and the fifth one in the Merlin cycle. Cover also by Florence Magnin.

One of the visual highlights is the beginning of Chapter 7 of the last book, Prince of Chaos, when Merlin walks his step-father’s sculpture garden. It’s a dim room, lit from the ground up, that seems “of different size and contour depending upon where one stood.” The room was “constructed without any plane surfaces.” As you walk through it, the walls become the floor and the sculptures that are on the floor jut out of the walls or depend from the ceiling. I’d love to explore a space like this in a videogame.

Amber poster by Florence Magnin
This is an Amber poster by Florence Magnin. It uses elements from her covers. She also did other Amber illustrations. You can see a larger version of this poster here.

In some ways, the strength of an author’s creation can be measured in how reluctant the readers are to leave. I’d like to experience more of Amber and Chaos, although I don’t envy those caught in their power struggles.