With Further Ado #259: A Beach Book and a Movie (promotion)

I’ve been swimming, I’ve partied at the water’s edge, I’ve watched some gorgeous sunsets, but I haven’t read a book on the beach yet. I shouldn’t moan and whine, it’s been an outrageously fantastic summer so far. But still… there’s something about reading a book with your toes in the sand, copious amounts of sunscreen on your nose with summer stretched out in front of you.

After really enjoying a short story collection, Jess Thompson’s The Angel of Rome and Other Stories, I’m resolved to reach more short stories.

Before I get to solving this book-on-the-beach conundrum, I want to discuss a trend and genre.

I’ve already written about how Titan’s new Conan: The Barbarian #1 was a favorite at San Diego Comic Con last month. Author Jim Zub, a remarkably upbeat and funny author, was there signing copies. He and artist Roberto De La Torre just nailed it, evoking Marvel’s Buscema era of the Conan series and taking it three steps forward.

Evidently, there’s no “Conan fatigue” at comic shops and the book did really well for this publisher.

And of course, there was so much going on at the Titan booth all weekend. Andrew Sumner is a modern-day comic book industry version of Robin Hood, leading his band of Merry Men (and women) out of the UK to return to SDCC once more with so many captivating panels (the Jamie Lee Curtis one was insane) and amazing deals on books and merchandise. But the greatest thing a guy like Andrew Sumner brings to the party is an unrelenting sense of positivity, a tireless commitment to hard work and a generous heart for making connections.

Do you watch his interviews on Forbidden Planet TV and Hard Agree? They are fantastic.

The Book I SHOULD’VE brought to the Beach

So, as I was already thinking about the Sword & Sorcery genre (which usually isn’t my thing) my attention was drawn to a new, just-published book: Swordplay edited by Dan Brereton, Allison Pang & James A. Moore.

The book I should’ve read on the beach was Swordplay. It’s a collection of short Sword & Sorcery short stories. The brilliant artist, Dan Brereton, seems to be the ringleader. He pulled together writers like Steven Grant, Cullen Bunn and Christopher Golden. Each contributes a tale that’s both familiar and a slightly different take on this established genre.

There’re female protagonists, mothers and daughters, “traditional” heroic barbarians, scheming wizards, and sorceresses.

This one is about the art as much as the stories. Dan Brereton is a such a compelling artist, and he nails it with a beautiful wraparound cover. Part of the fun of this book is the many illustrations he includes. And interestingly enough, he shakes it up. The short stories might have full pager illustrations, small portraits, detailed compositions with washes or just loose pencil sketches.

His illustrations are not slavish to each story, but more evocative and just touch on- and often expand – one element or another. With Brereton’s talent there riding shotgun to your imagination, every story is that much more enjoyable. ‘

Of note, I’ve been a big fan of writer Steven Grant for a long time. It’s amazing to see how talent transcends genre. I don’t think of him as a “Sword & Sorcery” author, but his contribution was brilliant: so fresh and fun.

Ghost of a Chance

The Haunted Mansion, from Disney, is the latest idea to try and make an amusement ride into an evergreen property. The phenomenal success of the Pirates of the Caribbean film series must’ve created a corporate target so big that they will try and replicate again and again.

But let’s focus on the marketing, instead of the movie! San Diego Comic-Con debuted a clever marketing activation for the movie. Pedicabs were decked out with Haunted Mansion graphics. But shortly after you jumped into one, you would (purposely) see a ghostly spirit hitch-hiking, begging his way into your ride. If there was room, the spirit would squeeze into your cab next to you and were off for a memorable ride. It sure looked fun.

But clearly, it wasn’t enough. This past weekend, the movie opened to abysmal box office numbers. It might have just been as simple as Barbenheimer still being the go-to movies to see in the theater, but Variety is saying not releasing it at Halloween was unforced error. You can read more here. But as a guy who sat through The Country Bears in the theaters 25+ years ago, I will tell you that not all amusement rides should be movie.

Still…Kudos to the marketing firm that came up with this one! So clever.

Check out a the pedicap marketing in action in the clip below.