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The Silver Surfer – The Ultimate Cosmic Experience

cover of the silver surfer book

A fellow group member in a Joe Sinnott fan group posted a set of variant covers for the international market of this book. He shared the Dutch version along with some others.

When I admined one of the first Jack Kirby groups on Facebook (which I quit and has since collapsed and overtaken by others due to the vitriol it would be subjected to), I remember having many a discussion about the book’s quality, the storytelling and how it fell short of what it could have been.

But the book did have some of that left over magic, just not in spades like perhaps they had in the FF. Jack’s art was beautiful and strong, although the cover art was taken away from him. Another one of those slights I really have issues with.

However, I feel people often miss the greater importance of this book, not limited to the fact that it would be the last real Lee and Kirby “collaboration”. I’m not sharing this to devolve the conversation into the Lee versus anyone garbage many of us are so tired of. Rather, I want to acknowledge a book that is often ignored with a good story that could stand on its own (which of course paled in comparison to the origin of Norrid Radd, one of the many legendary characters who were born in the pages of the Fantastic Four.

This book is one of the earliest if not the major first graphic novel of its actual form. Stan may have made decisions he felt were more mature to try and attract a different audience. I don’t think it’s Stans finest writing, but it’s a good book when you remove it from the context or expectations of the main E-616 timeline of the FF. I see it as a beautiful “What If” as a stand alone nugget of gold. Agree or not, it’s only going to be revisited in the future given the final dance of both of its creative giants.

Here is a great write-up by the good folks at ’tain’t the meat… it’s the humanity. I think it captures yes, some of the issues, but also places this often misunderstood book in its rightful place given the context of the now established graphic novel.

Sin quererlo

Para Rubén.

Yo no lo quiero

El luto

Se me presenta inconveniente

Insistente el muy infelíz

Mas atrás, entre las canicas y trompos, la algarroba y los gallitos

El helado de coco, las piraguas de frambuesa

Tirándome por riscos, colgando de ramas de arboles mas viejos que el frío

Metiéndome en líos y pidiendo perdón mejor que pedir permiso

Pero pone su mano sobre mi hombro

Y su aliento mueve mi memoria

El tiempo y el maldito luto

Se hacen como un arbol

Sembrándose permanentes

Se arrima poco a poco y entonces todo de cantázo

Se asoma, me mide, me calza

Se presenta, violento y molesto

El tiempo, me despierta la memoria

Como un viejo maestro

Y vamos cambiando

La distancia ya es vasta

Sus voces y sus rostros

La memoria falla

Pero el corazón recuerda

Las comidas, las corridas,

Las mentiras y las peleas

Todo era más dulce y mas salado,

Mas real y mas genuino

Y ese gran maestro el tiempo

Continúa su lección

Me enseña a cantazos

La mano arrugada de mi vieja

La sonrisa de un amigo

La manera que los aguaceros renovaban el suelo

La dulce voz de mami cantándole entragada a la candela y el caldero

Estoy de luto

No tan sólo por perder a tantos amigos o a mi propia sangre

Es que no es lo mucho, pero lo seguido

El dolor se vuelve costumbre

No  sólo hecho peor por el pasar del tiempo

Es hecho aún mas cruel

Que la memoria que me queda tambien la pierdo

Pero es tambien la pérdida de quien una vez fuí

Y entonces me acuerdo

Que todos perdemos

Que el dolor no es exclusivo

Que el tiempo pasa igual para todos

Que debo vivir en el momento

Pero el tiempo se asoma

Y luto le sigue pie forzado

Y la memoria se encarga del detalle

Y sin invitación ni saludo

Regresan a llevarse lo poco que me queda

Y me tiembla la mano

Y me sacude el miedo

Y pierdo a otro, de nuevo

Y traen su dolor acaparado en sombra

Y me acompañan en el mio

Sin tan siquiera yo quererlo.

Christian Alexis

Can writers retain a recognizable voice throughout different books and genres?

There is – at least to me- an inherent struggle in finding a voice as an aspiring author (a published writer). The type of writing challenge does not minimize this, although speaking to you via this blog is somewhat more organic to me. It can be a short story or a long-form piece of fiction, the struggle remains.

However, the struggle is not as much about finding a voice. I feel that as I delve into the guts and soul of a piece of writing, a voice does emerge. Sometimes I need to polish a bit; sometimes I have to do more serious, heavy lifting and try to bring myself to the surface – even when it isn’t about me, but my character. The true challenge is how to reconcile the voice I employed yesterday with the one I find myself writing with today. It is a very real challenge because forcing myself to employ a certain voice or imitate my approach last time feels disingenuous.

When I “find” this voice, when it comes out swinging, I let it rip and try to understand if there is a cadence, a style or a particular structure to study later. However, I will find myself sometimes lacking the feeling that this is taking place with another piece of writing later on. Is it a sign that I’m not ready to publish? Is it something that I have to trust is there even when I don’t feel it? Could it be that this voice I find present or absent is something I fail to detect, but is actually happening?

When I think of both classic and contemporary fiction greats like Hemingway, Orwell, Fitzgerald, Atwood, King, even Rowling… I think they have a voice that I can recognize. But upon more close observation – they are almost always leveraging their own ideas and experiences to breathe life into characters, shape situations, and inject lifeblood into dialogue. When moving between their works, they often do not sound the same, there’s a deep inherent value or substantive idea or proposition that is indeed part of their known author persona, their agenda.

So I’ve arrived at the conclusion (which is my own and your mileage may vary), that while the author may indeed be thinking of voice consciously as a literary craft element, we – as readers and fans – buy into that voice. We buy into that artistic fingerprint, that signature that is more complex than just tone or perspective. We buy into the author’s deep ideas. We buy into the subtext and we too play a role in helping carry the voice from one of their books to brand new ones, regardless of how vastly different they may be.


Developing Ideas

One of the hardest challenges I find in being a developing new writer is making final and committed decisions about the work. I’ve run through about 8 different ideas for my first novel, and of those, I’ve actually started treatments on 3 of those concepts. While I was leaning on one, I stepped away from it for a few weeks and upon revisiting it (for a final project in one of my MFA courses), I got cold feet. It’s a great concept and checks all of my boxes: dystopian, socially meaningful, and exciting. My entire market analysis was based on this concept as a prospective book. And now upon revisiting it, poof – the enthusiasm is gone.

I was having a conversation with my wife about how I was quite honestly feeling like garbage that I was not responding the same way to an idea I think is worth it, my brain says it can develop beautifully, but my heart is not in it. And she reminded me of the age-old writer’s adage: write what you know. We’ve been together long enough she knows I’ve lived through some wild things, but would someone really give a shit? I mean, would someone fork over money to read a fictional story fueled with some of my very real experiences? My wife is a brilliant sniper like that. Suddenly, I felt it: I cared again, I was excited and ideas started flowing.

So, for the gazillionth time, I believe I’m developing a different story and I’m plotting it in the coming weeks. I still think it can fall firmly within YA/new adult relevant fiction, but perhaps it’s a little more involved, a little more me. That’s the plan anyway.

Be kind to one another.