Monthly Archives: February 2013

The 10 Most Memorable Superhero Deaths

Matthew White -- February 27th, 2013

By now, comic book fans (and readers of the New York Post) have heard the news that Damian Wayne, son of Bruce and the current Robin, dies in the pages of Batman Incorporated #8, which hits shelves today. While the death of a superhero is nothing new to comics (this is actually not the first time a Robin has been killed), it’s still a pretty big deal for DC Comics and will certainly have a lasting effect within the Batman storyline, not to mention a brisk spike in sales for the publisher.

Here are ten other memorable superhero deaths from over the years.

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10.  Ted Kord, Blue Beetle – Countdown to Infinite Crisis (2005, DC Comics)

In the lead up to DC Comics’s Infinite Crisis event in 2005, former Justice League member Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle, single-handedly unravels a plot by the psychic (and psychotic) Maxwell Lord to initiate one of Batman’s doomsday protocols in which a swarm of invincible robots called Omacs are released upon the world. Ted confronts Max, only to be shot and killed, but not before gritting his teeth and telling Max to “Rot in Hell.” Unlike many of the other entries on this list, Kord has not come back and has only been seen briefly in flashbacks.

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9.  Bruce Wayne, Batman – Final Crisis #6 (2009, DC Comics)

In the finale to Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis, Batman confronts the evil deity Darkseid, who had unleashed the “anti-life equation” on the world eradicating all free will and thought. Seconds after mortally wounding the evil God, Batman is struck with the Omega beam, seemingly killing him, but actually sending him hurtling through time. Almost simultaneously, Batman was involved in another death-related storyline, “Batman R.I.P.”, which involved a plot orchestrated by the Black Hand, an illusory villain that was trying to break Bruce’s psyche. Despite the two storylines occurring concurrently, they were only tangentially related, and ultimately Batman survived both.

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8.  Ultimate Universe Peter Parker – Ultimate Spider-Man #160 (2011, Marvel)

In the Ultimate Marvel Universe (a separate universe that contains more realistic interpretations of Marvel’s heroes), Peter Parker is shot by the Punisher and later dies after an all-out battle with his nemesis, the Green Goblin. To replace Parker, Marvel introduced Miles Morales, a boy of mixed racial descent who is now the star of Ultimate Spider-Man. Fans and critics have embraced the new protagonist and he seems to be sticking around for the foreseeable future. Continue reading

How ’50 Shades of Gay’ Became an Overnight E-Bestseller

Gabe Habash -- February 26th, 2013

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50 Shades of Gray has spawned numerous spoofs and imitations, but 50 Shades of Gay by Jeffrey Self, an actor who has appeared on shows like 30 Rock and Desperate Housewives, has the unique angle of being published quickly without sacrificing quality. PWxyz talked with Don Weise of Magnus/Riverdale Avenue Books, 50 Shades of Gay‘s publisher, to see the e-book’s recipe for success.

PW: Talk about the formation of the e-book–how quickly did this all come together?

Donald Weise: It was faster than anyone would guess. 50 Shades of Gay was submitted by agent Scott Mendel of Mendel Media in December and I read it over the holidays. I was totally charmed by the book, both the sex and the humor, so I made an offer around the first of the year. The contract was signed on January 11th, and I started edits that afternoon. They were mailed to Jeffery three days later, only it took a month for him to actually incorporate my edits because the post office failed to deliver them not once but twice. Finally on February 12th, the first package was returned to me, so Jeffery and I made the edits over the phone the next day. Two days later, the 15th, he handed in the revised book and over the weekend of February 16th we made final revisions. The manuscript was typeset on February 19th (cover art came in on the 14th and the final cover was approved that same day), with the book published on February 20th. The following day 50 Shades of Gay debuted at #1 on Amazon’s gay erotica bestseller list. So in less than a week, we went from final edits to #1 bestseller.

What were your expectations for the book initially?

It was hard to know for sure how the book would perform. Obviously the 50 Shades phenomenon is known by everyone, including people who don’t usually read erotic romance, and the world is rife with imitators. What appealed to me about Jeffery’s novel and I felt set it apart from the crowded field was that he wasn’t just retelling 50 Shades of Grey with gay characters. There’s a lot of humor and a lot of pop culture in the storytelling—references as varied as Katy Perry, The Real Housewives, and Suzanne Somers. The book takes place in Hollywood, where Jeffery himself is an actor on TV shows like 30 Rock and Hot in Cleveland, so it’s also an insider’s look at the movie world and the closet some actors feel forced into. Ultimately it’s a hot, sweet in its way, erotic romance that works I think for gay men and straight women alike.

What happened when the book published?

On the day a Magnus/Riverdale Avenue Book is published, we roll out the in-house PR from hourly tweets and Facebook news, cover reveals and a press release (usually that morning or the day before, which is what we did for 50 Shades of Gay). We also sent the press release to Jeffery and his agent, who blasted it out to their people.  We wrote about the publication on our blogs on our site, Riveraleavebooks.com, and on Goodreads.

As soon as the book went live on Amazon, we were selling copies. It was amazing. With e-books, you can track your sales by the minute and the books were flying off the e-shelf. By the end of the night, we knew we had a winner, and by midnight we were starting to track on the gay & Lesbian erotica best-seller list. When I woke up the next morning, we were #1!

But we also got a lot of nontraditional press, and we know that helped draw attention to the book.

My publisher, Lori Perkins, comes from the erotic romance side of publishing, and we were able to aim our publicity at the two markets simultaneously – gay readers and M/M erotic romance – which is often hard to do in traditional publishing.  This was definitely part of the book’s success.

What was the most surprising thing about the reception 50 Shades of Gay received?

It’s been just a few days since the book was published so it’s still early to really weigh in on the book’s reception. But the most surprising thing of course is that a book could go from edits one weekend to the bestseller list by the next. I’ve not seen speed like this in the book world and I imagine most other industry veterans haven’t either. Had I published the novel the traditional method—meaning, cataloged it with a distributor, had the sales force go out with it, printed hundreds of copies that may or may not sold—I would have had the book out sometime next year, when everyone likely will have moved from the 50 Shades trilogy and on to the next hot trend. Releasing the book just ahead of the Oscars was also advantageous because we’ve used the book’s Hollywood angle to get media attention in places that don’t typically cover novels. I’d really love to see more books like 50 Shades of Gay. As someone who all his career took the traditional, year-long or more route of getting books out to readers, I’m thrilled by the freedom this new model offers. Suddenly there’s so much opportunity for breaking out of the old-fashioned and out of date constraints of the past.

100 Years, 94 Books: ‘The Turmoil’ by Booth Tarkington

Gabe Habash -- February 25th, 2013

The following is an excerpt from Matthew Kahn’s project 100 Years, 94 Books–to review the bestselling books of the last 100 years and study what made them essential to their cultural moment.

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Who?

Newton Booth Tarkington (1869-1946) was born, lived, and set most of his works in Indiana. He was the offspring of old American families: His father’s side of the family moved to Indiana from the south in the late eighteenth century, and his mother’s family in New England could be traced back to colonial days and still held prominent positions in society and politics (in fact, Booth was named after his uncle, Newton Booth, then governor of California). During his youth, his family was one of many who fell into financial hardship. They managed to hold on, and Tarkington was educated at Purdue and later Princeton University.  He became a rather successful playwright and novelist, his first novel, The Gentlemen from Indiana, being published in 1899. But it was not until a divorce and his marriage to Susanah Robinson in 1912 that he entered what biographer James Woodress called his “major phase.”  The first novel of this phase was 1915’s The Turmoil, the first volume of what became known as Tarkington’s Growth trilogy, including his Pulitzer-prize winning novel, The Magnificent Ambersons (1918). Tarkington was the first author to win two Pulitzer prizes for fiction (the second was for 1921’s Alice Adams), a feat that has only been duplicated by John Updike and William Faulkner.

So what’s this book about?

The Turmoil tells the story of the nouveau riche Sheridan family, led by the consummate industrialist, Jim Sheridan. The main character is the family’s youngest son, twenty-two year old Bibbs Sheridan, who at the beginning of the novel is returning from a sanitarium after two years spent recovering from a nervous breakdown brought on by his father’s attempt to mold Bibbs after his own image (as he had successfully done with Bibbs’ two older brothers). The novel’s main focus is on the relationship between Jim and his children and the relationship between the Sheridan’s and the “old rich” families of Indianapolis, specifically the secretly destitute Vertreeses and their daughter Mary, and how these things affect Bibbs’ personal growth.

Therein lies the heart of the novel: Bibbs, the dreamer, poet, and outsider, assuming his maturity in a changing world. Tarkington creates an honest picture of an isolated young man with vague ambition and his transformation as he reenters the world and falls for Mary Vertrees. The story is often funny and, on a few occasions, tragic, as the lives of all the characters drastically change.

Besides Bibbs and Mary Vertrees, the characters are often typecast so as to parody certain kinds of people or situations. That is not to say that they don’t have depth (although there are a few characters who don’t), and this parody is intended and generally succeeds in being humorous.   And when the characters examine the reasons behind their behavior, or break from their established caricatures, it is done skillfully, giving the reader a deeper understanding of their personalities.

Overall, The Turmoil has aged well. The relationships between the members of the Sheridan family are true to life and easily accessible, even after all this time.  However, the attitudes the characters hold in regard to romantic relationships and the old wealth vs. new wealth are strictly representative of their time.

Read the full post on Kahn’s blog

Cover Reveal: New Dan Brown Novel, ‘Inferno’

Craig Morgan Teicher -- February 20th, 2013

Inferno by Dan Brown cover

Mega-seller Dan Brown’s next novel, which comes out May 14, features Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon on another code-cracking quest, this one inspired by Dante’s seminal poem “The Inferno.”  Check out the cover, which Random House just revealed today.  What do you think?

Blogger Reads the Bestselling Books of the Last 100 Years

Gabe Habash -- February 19th, 2013

Matt Kahn has launched 100 Years, 94 Books, the ambitious project of reading and reviewing the Publishers Weekly‘s #1 bestselling books for each of the last 100 years, which, with some books hitting #1 more than once, totals 94 books. Kahn, a creative writing student at California State University, Northridge, began last week with 1913′s #1 book, The Inside of the Cup by Winston Churchill, and at the rate of one review a week, will finish (about two years from now) with 2013′s bestselling book, still to be decided by sales. Along with the review, Kahn will provide on his blog historical context “in an attempt to figure out just what made these particular books popular at that particular time.”

PW interviewed Kahn to find out where the idea for the ambitious project came from. You can follow Matt on Twitter here. Continue reading

’2666′ in Pie Chart Form

Gabe Habash -- February 14th, 2013

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…Guerrero, at that time of night, is more like a cemetery than an avenue, not a cemetery in 1974 or in 1968, or in 1975, but a cemetery in the year 2666, a forgotten cemetery under the eyelid of a corpse or an unborn child, bathed in the dispassionate fluids of an eye that tried so hard to forget one particular thing that it ended up forgetting everything else.

So you read 2666. You probably have questions. Such as:

1. What’s with all the dreams?

2. What exactly is Archimboldi doing in Mexico?

3. What is happening?

4. I’m tired.

The problem with asking any of those questions is you won’t find the answers in 2666, a world-eating novel where looking for an answer just leads to more questions. In his notes, Bolaño mentions a “hidden center” concealed beneath the novel’s “physical center.” And while we can’t tell you what the hidden center is of 2666, we can tell you that the hidden center of PWxyz’s 2666 pie chart is delicious and gooey, not unlike Barry Seaman’s recipe for Brussels sprouts with lemon (luckily we spared you the idea of “Brussels sprouts with lemon pie” and made this a tasty lemon meringue pie).

After you’re done savoring our 2666 pie, check out our other literary pie charts: UnderworldMadame Bovary, Crime and Punishment, The Metamorphosis, and Ulysses.

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