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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

EVS follows up

Ethan gave me the chance to speak my piece, so I'll leave him with the last word for now. However, I will respond to one of his commenters.

James Robins
I don’t get vox man. I mean comparing yourself to Gaiman? Nobody is haruki murakami, hes a great writer. But vox? Come on lol.

It's pretty simple. I am a better novelist than Neil Gaiman by almost every reasonable measure. Anyone who has read a sufficient variety of both our novels will recognize that pretty easily. Gaiman writes a variant of the same book with the same sort of characters almost every time. Even his Sandman is a Gary Stu of sorts. I have much wider literary range and can write everything from haunting shorts that could almost pass for modern Maupassant to murder mysteries to epic military fantasy. I don't write myself into my books and I can even successfully pull off the "you genuinely think he's dead but actually he isn't" trick without cheating or magic or medical science or anything but pure literary sleight of hand.

George Martin can't do that despite repeated attempts. Gaiman can't do it either. And as for Murakami, I have been writing a literary novel inspired by his style for years, although since I am not Japanese, it is more likely to feature a wedding than a suicide. I have no idea when it will be finished, if ever, but I think I might be able to pull it off. And if I can't get even reasonably close, then I won't publish it.

I admire Tanith Lee. I admire JRR Tolkien. I admire John C. Wright. I admire China Mieville. I admire Alan Moore. I admire Umberto Eco. The only thing I admire about Gaiman's writing is his ability to give everything the flavor of a fairy tale. That's not nothing, it's actually pretty cool, but it's very far from the most significant thing. Sure, he sells a lot more books, but then, Dan Brown and Katie Price sell even more and I don't have any respect for either of their literary abilities.

Anyhow, there is no need to pay any attention to my opinion. Read the reviews of the Arts of Dark and Light instead. Better yet, read the books and decide for yourself.
  • This book contains strong traces of DNA from Umberto Eco and Neal Stephenson but it stands on its own as a fantastically monstrous creature.
  • A Throne of Bones, for me at least, shines like a beacon in this literary twilight.
  • One of the best Fantasy novels I've read in the past ten years.
  • Better then GOT. I read a lot of fiction. Vox's writing skill is superb.
  • I'd put it on par with Tolkien in terms of epic fantasy.
  • I am a big time Tolkien and George Martin fan. Vox's Selenoth has wiggled its way between Middle Earth and Westeros.
  • Comparisons with Martin are much more useful, and there I agree, Day comes out ahead.
  • Vox Day has catapulted himself into the storied and rarefied rank of writers that sits just below The Master himself. That's right, I went there. I just said that Vox Day has written a book that is nearly as good as J. R. R. Tolkien's work.
  • Easily the best epic fantasy series out today.
  • It is the best fantasy book of the past 50 years.
Since we're on the subject, a bit of Selenoth-related news. Because Kindle Unlimited is becoming increasingly important, we're going to release a new version of the series specifically formatted for KU. It will be EXACTLY the same text, but divided into more readily digestible 50k to 60k chunks and released under the series name LEGIONS OF BLOOD & BONE.

And yes, I'm still working on A SEA OF SKULLS. And yes, it will be out this year. It will be worth the wait. I think I can safely promise you that. I'm not interested in just getting it out, I am attempting to further raise my writing game.

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84 Comments:

Anonymous franklinjennings January 16, 2018 8:50 PM  

I had a lot of haunted shorts once...

I'll see myself out.

Blogger Sterling Pilgrim January 16, 2018 8:50 PM  

Hmmm Murakami? Can his style really be an inspiration when it is so blatantly post-modern? I mean, I think it's great to breath a little Logos into Post-Modernism, but it seems a strange fit. I can't wait to see the outcome if it ever gets the green light.

Blogger VD January 16, 2018 8:53 PM  

Can his style really be an inspiration when it is so blatantly post-modern?

If I don't hesitate to try to do Maupassant and Lovecraft, why would I hesitate to try to do postmodern? Note: Lovecraft was an ABYSMAL failure. I won't even try to do Poe or Eco.

Anonymous Anonymous Bosch January 16, 2018 8:56 PM  

I despise Mieville's political leanings, but I'll be damned if I'll deny him the compliment that he's a fantastic and weird writer simply because of that.

Blogger Silly but True January 16, 2018 8:58 PM  

I remain convinced that Gaiman shrewdly or shamelessly included with American Gods - inarguably his most well-received novel - what I can only describe as "literary tourism" to additionally play on people's feelz, maximizing people's connection further.

If anyone remembers the literary marketplace from mid- to late 90s, it was dominated by Gay/Pedo rapist Kevin Spacey's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The damn novel stayed a New York Times bestseller for over four damn years - completely coinciding with the time the movie got filmed and released.

What kept the success going? The fact that regular people could go on a relatively inexpensive vacation and follow completely all of the novel's locations. The Midnight in Garden of Good and Evil vacations were a thing. Fandom creating its own fandom momentum.

It's become a thing for American Gods too. But I generally believe by that point in time, Gaiman saw the potential to tack on a force multiplier to how the novel would be received.

Well, at least that's my harebrained theory on why American Gods may have been received the way it was.

Blogger Raben Wulf January 16, 2018 9:02 PM  

EVS's biggest flaw in that response occurred when he claimed Vox is going after a "phantom audience".

There is no phantom audience, only a forgotten and alienated one. Ethan simply is doing the same thing Marvel and the rest are doing... forgetting.

Blogger Lazarus January 16, 2018 9:05 PM  

He thinks you dismissed "comic book fandom" and it is a fatal error. I did not get that impression from the interview.

Besides, all avant-garde art movements have ignored the current bourgeoise tastes, which is what eventually makes them the new standard.

Anonymous Mycroft Jones January 16, 2018 9:06 PM  

I didn't know what was missing until I sat down and read Throne of Bones over Christmas. It puts "Wheel of Time" to shame, makes Robert Jordan look like a hack by comparison. You may not be Tolkien Vox, but you are closer to him than any other modern writer. Maybe like Stephen R Donaldson, but without the nihilism and coy moralizing.

Anonymous DissidentRight January 16, 2018 9:12 PM  

"you genuinely think he's dead but actually he isn't" trick without cheating or magic or medical science or anything but pure literary sleight of hand.

Speaking of that, it took so long to get to the continuation that I literally forgot the character in question was 'supposed' to be dead. Intentional or do I just have a bad memory?

Anonymous Nathan January 16, 2018 9:15 PM  

@Silly But True,

When American Gods came out, Gaiman was already a fanboy's rockstar, just off of Sandman. Whenever he branched out into TV, such as penning the first non-JMS episode of Babylon 5, those episodes became MUST for those fannishly inclined. And, frankly, Gaiman had one hell of an 1990s artistically. Since then...YMMV.

Blogger eharmonica January 16, 2018 9:19 PM  

Looking forward to the smaller chunks. I can't even start an 800pp novel anymore. Heck, an 400pp novel is daunting.

Get in, get out. Then give me the next shot.

I'd like to think that the smaller chunks will be re-written to make sense in and of themselves.

Blogger Cataline Sergius January 16, 2018 9:20 PM  

I suppose Gaiman is kind of a one trick pony.

American Gods was supposed to be his big breakout novel. And initially it looked like that was exactly what it was but he followed it up with nothing. Or at least not much.

Anasi Boys was a pretty weak follow up and the rest are kids books and short story collections.

When I heard that there was a rumor that Gaiman was being brought on board to ghost an ending for Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, I laughed out loud. "This is like two drunks helping each other walk down the street."

Anonymous Faceless January 16, 2018 9:23 PM  

He appears to want to give you business advice, and yet, he has his business case as a horrible example.

Gourmet hot dogs? Those exist. Look up Hebrew National. I was surprised to be at a fancy-ish restaurant the other day, and the lunch special was a $5 Hebrew National hot dog. Now, just a short drive up the street, there was a coney that would sell you two hot dogs, a side of fries, and a fountain soda for $3.99, and they would sell you Flint's Finest Weiners, a Kogel's vienna.

It just puzzles me. He's giving you business advice. He even admits your projection of size is possible... and yet he's angry you aren't going to do your business his way. This is the ultimate secret king garbage - he wants you to only succeed if you do it as he foresaw it being done, and he dislikes the fact that you think you can achieve the same goal differently.

Anonymous Faceless January 16, 2018 9:31 PM  

Is he afraid that the comic market is actually just entirely broken and transformed, and the way things were when Spawn was cool is gone forever? Watching this closing video, he looks frightened that it died. The numbers that Diversity And Comics was talking about before I gave up watching him suggested close to a 5x or 10x collapse in readership. Combining that decline and fall with his unease at Arkhaven Comics seeking out a new kind of reader - that's fear in his eyes that his country is gone.

Blogger Cataline Sergius January 16, 2018 9:32 PM  

@12
And now that I am thinking on the matter I never reread either any of those things.

The only thing of his I have read repeatedly was Good Omens. And lets face it that was more than likely his co-author's influence. It's got to be said, some of those jokes are still funny. "No, I'm not. I'm People Covered In Fish," still makes me chuckle. Although when I first read it, I nearly peed myself.

Other jokes haven't fared as well. I had to explain to a Millennial who had read it, that between the years of 1984 and 1990, everyone with a cassette player in their car also had a "Best of Queen" tape, that they hadn't bought and had no idea how it got there. It was uncanny.

Anonymous a deplorable rubberducky January 16, 2018 9:33 PM  

It seems to me that EVS is over-committed to this notion that Vox is out to ignore the tastes of the current crop of comic book fans. He's not hearing or allowing that this might not be the case at all.

Given the precipitous decline in readership and the struggles of comics dealers, it seems very odd that his prescription is basically "hold fast to prevailing paradigms". It's like sending out a prevent defense when you're behind in the game, in a way.

And he doesn't seem to grasp Vox's "tank" theory of shaping the playing field for neutrals by curtailing the SJW aggression. It's be nice again to have a world where She-Thor got laughed out of the board room instead of submitted to as inevitable.

Blogger Were-Puppy January 16, 2018 9:38 PM  

@6 Raben Wulf
There is no phantom audience, only a forgotten and alienated one.
---

Next VD will become the Donald Trump of comics, having secured success by reconnecting with the forgotten people of comics.

Blogger Forge the Sky January 16, 2018 9:43 PM  

Vox, you've said a few times you don't write the numinous extremely well. You can't totally change your gifts but I think this might be somewhat consciously improvable.

A good portion of it is just what is illuminated or not about the subject. I'd advise reading the chapter 'The Shadow of the Past' from The Lord of the Rings as an example; you'll note that Gandalf is extremely cryptic about a lot of things that he should really know more about, and that might be useful information for comrades-in-arms if we're being purely rational about things. But tactics and information aren't the point of the chapter; the point is to create a dreadful, numinous apprehension about the Dark Lord and the Ring.

Compare this to the specific scene in your book A Throne of Bones where the perspective characters learn about the wolf demons. We do this in broad daylight, observing from a long distance, with a detached and tactical eye. New and horrible forms of magic are revealed to the reader with a tone of academic removal and in clear vision - "oh, this appears to be the first recorded instance of urine-based thaumaturgy" or some such thing.

Contrast this approach with having the wolf demons introduced to a small village of northerners, at night, the terror of rumor surrounding them - and the first observations of their intelligence and ability being made in the dark, in confusion, the horror of magic and the visceral disgust of blood and excrement surrounding them, the terror of assault preventing any dignified or disconnected observation....

Your second book improved this a fair deal. Just an observation that I thought might help if made explicit.

Blogger MendoScot January 16, 2018 9:48 PM  

oh, yeah.

Blogger Forge the Sky January 16, 2018 9:48 PM  

John C. Wright does similar things to Tolkien in 'Awake in the Night.' A lot of things, like references to the 'master word' and 'brain-elements' have a more scientific sheen in his later 'The Last of All Suns.' But he recognizes that explicating that 'brain-elements' are nanotechnology, and that the 'master-word' is advanced encryption, would totally kill the tone of the earlier tales. And so nothing is said about them then.

Blogger Lazarus January 16, 2018 9:50 PM  

EV should have accepted the job offer

Blogger Cataline Sergius January 16, 2018 9:51 PM  

Gen X comic book guys tend to have an inflated opinion of Gaimen.

He's viewed as part of their Big Three of Alan Moore, Frank Miller and Neil Gaimen.

When it was being published, Sandman did intrigue me and the stories usually kept me sucked in until I got to the end of any given series. The ending pretty much always disappointed me. The climax was always an anticlimax.

Anonymous Catdog January 16, 2018 9:59 PM  

"hold fast to prevailing paradigms"

I think his belief is that comics sales started to drop because they chose to move away from the old paradigms.

So in order to get the sales back to those times when they were selling millions you have to write the old action adventure stories that where traditionally the most popular things in the comics medium. That's where the audience is.

Anonymous brentg January 16, 2018 10:07 PM  

Vox - what does upping your writing game look like and what metrics do you use to judge your own writing as improved or not?

Anonymous Texas Exile January 16, 2018 10:14 PM  

I really liked Gaiman's stardust, except the beginning and the end. The comic beginning was super cringey, and in the end the hero didn't even kill the witch! They kind of just had a conversation and the villaness concluded she was old and couldn't fight anymore. In the movie adaptation they rewrote the end scene to a powerful confrontation... but in the end the hero didn't kill any of the witches directly. He did unleash animals who then killed the penultimate witch. The ultimate villaness was killed by the damsel in distress.

Blogger JACIII January 16, 2018 10:16 PM  

EVS acts like a dog SJWs have whipped.

Anonymous Simplytimothy January 16, 2018 10:17 PM  

OT: The dam cracks, Brit Hume question s diversity. https://twitter.com/brithume/status/953267504574554112?ref_src=twcamp%5Eshare%7Ctwsrc%5Em5%7Ctwgr%5Eemail%7Ctwcon%5E7046%7Ctwterm%5E0

Blogger OGRE January 16, 2018 10:22 PM  

man its like he stepped right out of the Simpsons

Blogger Koanic January 16, 2018 10:34 PM  

> I am attempting to further raise my writing game.

Huzzah. I was worried the Daily Stormer paycheck might have divided your attention.

Blogger ace January 16, 2018 10:45 PM  

As his critique can be summed up as 'I don't believe Vox understands the comics audience and I don't think there's a potential new audience for what he plans to make', it at least carries the possibility of being proven false on either one or both of those counts at some point in the future.

He also seems to be setting the bar quite high for a new independent comics label. If Arkhaven develops a sustainable niche audience would he admit to being wrong?

Blogger eharmonica January 16, 2018 10:49 PM  

His video is a long Concern Troll. "Vox may not be doing this perfectly."

Blogger Lazarus January 16, 2018 10:51 PM  

@30

If Arkhaven develops a sustainable niche audience would he admit to being wrong?

Of course not. And it would be irrelevant to the project. It would just mean that others would see that he was wrong.

Blogger SteelPalm January 16, 2018 11:05 PM  

I've always found blind adulation annoying, in any medium.

I think a great deal of writers, directors, books, and movies are painfully overrated and in some cases outright poor. I have specific reasons for this and compare them to other, better writers/directors, as Vox did with Neil Gaiman.

There is nothing more annoying than hearing nothing substantial in response, only "HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT?! DON'T YOU KNOW HE IS A GENIUS?!!?"

I have no thoughts about Gaiman specifically. I liked the Coraline movie, which is apparently based on one of his novels. But it's fair to question the reputation of ANY sacred cow, and it's an especially good trait from a creator.

Blogger Rashadjin January 16, 2018 11:10 PM  

This should be a response to A tale of two reviews but that's old news so I'll piggyback off @18 Forge the Sky and his comments touching on the same thing instead.

The tale of two reviews is a bit more than different tastes, and Neil Gaiman being very good at the sense of the numinous explains a lot about his popularity that you don't seem to fully appreciate, Vox.

It's the left/right brain divide and how they communicate in different ways. You're very heavy left brain/text-speech focused and that appeals to similarly left-brain dominate types. EVS, Neil Gaiman, and the pretty pictures review guy are right brain/symbolism dominate. You're basically looking at two different languages layered into one when talking comics in particular and most art in general.

Saying you aren't good at creating a sense of the numinous is saying that your writing lacks symbolic heft. It's a lot of the silly emotional 'mood lighting' layered into scenes and events. It always rains at a funeral. The forest is always dark and creepy. The hearth is always warm and inviting. The crepuscular rays bathing the hero in glory. Etc.

Upping your game is going to be a lot about grasping that emotional symbolism or the symbolic in short and weaving them into your narratives in a way that appeals to you. Particularly with the comics. From the previews of Quantum Mortis, this is where the art seems to fall a bit flat for me. You have a visual style competently executed, but you don't quite have the emotional/symbolic execution that the present comic fans are attuned to. Part of it is that present comic fans are tuned to cartoonish and sometimes outright garbage with the visuals, but it's also become a refined visual language in its own right.

Finding a balance and weave of these two languages in your work is a lot of what the next step looks like, I think, because a fine blend of the two speaks to people powerfully no matter their preferred language.

Blogger bob kek mando January 16, 2018 11:23 PM  

VD
Gaiman writes a variant of the same book with the same sort of characters almost every time.


pretty much, yeah.

you read 'Sandman' and you've read most everything Gaiman has to say.

although i'll grant that his continuation of Miracleman after Moore left is also worthwhile.


VD
And yes, I'm still working on A SEA OF SKULLS. And yes, it will be out this year. It will be worth the wait.


who shall seize the Robert Jordan 'Slow Writer' Crown from Grape Ape Martin? will it be John Scalzi? or Vox Day?

15. Cataline Sergius January 16, 2018 9:32 PM
And now that I am thinking on the matter I never reread either any of those things.



yes. it's not that his prose is 'bad' in any way. it's just that the book doesn't rise to any particular height, especially after you've read one or two of his previous efforts.

Vox says that Gaiman tends to make everything read like a fairy tale, and this is true. this is not a good thing.

Tolkien's legendarium has fairies ( elves ), but it's not like any fairy tail i remember hearing previously.

Blogger Noah B The Savage Gardener January 16, 2018 11:37 PM  

Going with EVS' hot dog analogy - Marvel and DC replaced their all beef franks with soy and they wonder why no one is buying their hot dogs anymore. And EVS thinks Vox, whose strategy is to switch back to all beef franks, is doing exactly the same thing that Marvel did.

EVS is missing the big picture here. Maybe he's just too close to this to see what's obvious to outsiders.

Blogger Steve Mackelprang January 16, 2018 11:41 PM  

lol,,, this guys panties must be binding...

Anonymous Jo January 16, 2018 11:43 PM  

Folks who say Vox is a poor writer just sound like fools. Obviously, Vox is skilled at the craft. It's one thing to disagree with a man and argue with him about his politics and positions. But to attack his skill. To presume he must be worthless at all things. It's nonsense. Certainly a mark of poor character.

There are several folks I have extreme problems with politically, but I can admit when they're good at something. I mean, these folks would spend all day calling Milo ugly if they thought they could get away with it.

Anyway. Gaiman. Of his novels, I've only read Neverwhere. It was good. The main character, Richard Mayhew, was bland, but I believe that was the point. He was an ordinary fellow living an ordinary life who was thrown into something far from ordinary. The idea of keeping Mayhew bland allows the reader to focus on the setting which is the real focus of the story. Mayhew exists as a stand-in, neutral so the reader can insert him or herself into the narrative more easily. Like white walls in a house for sale.

Blogger Bogey January 16, 2018 11:48 PM  

His video is a long Concern Troll. "Vox may not be doing this perfectly."

Perhaps, but Scivner does have a lot more to offer than just your average "concern troll".

Vox plans to publish multiple comics, a series just minus the SJW crap gives him an advantage.

Blogger Noah B The Savage Gardener January 16, 2018 11:51 PM  

It's funny who's supposedly considered a good writer and who isn't. Every English teacher I had in high school thought Tolkien didn't write "real literature." Meanwhile they all gushed over Dickens, who has got to be one of the most overrated authors I've ever read.

Blogger Nate73 January 16, 2018 11:54 PM  

Not comic related but is there a chance of getting a good reading list of pre-20th century non-fiction? I'm quite enjoying the recommendations like Livy and Norwich.

Blogger bob kek mando January 17, 2018 12:20 AM  

Sciver thinks Vox's comics aren't going to have sex(iness ) and violence? have you seen Rebel's outfit, Eric?

most particularly amusing is that the muh Sexy Violence critique comes immediately after lauding Gaiman as the GREATEST THING EVER!!!!iiii!!i!i!i!i!

what is Gaiman famous for? Sandman.

which is a fantasy series only loosely tied to the rest of the DC Legendarium, primarily concerned with tying in mythic traditions from all over the world into a story which has NONE of the typical stupor hero sturm-und-drang götterdämmerungs going on and no particular emphasis on scantily clad women.

*knocks on Scivers' woody head*

ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION TO THE WORDS COMING OUT OF YOUR OWN MOUTH, ERIC?


Alan Moore got his introduction at DC with Swamp Thing ... in which Moore ALSO eschewed stupor hero sturm-und-drang violence and big titty women.

hrrrrmmmm. seems to be a market for EXACTLY the kind of comic that Sciver claims doesn't exist.

funny, that.

the fact is this, had DC followed the EVS strategery back in the 80s, both Swamp Thing and Sandman would have been spiked and no one would have ever heard of Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman.

now, OTOH, it's not like comics haven't made efforts to adapt prose works or other genres before. most of them aren't very successful. more formal skiffy doesn't tend to do that well as a genre.

but what the hell. maybe Vox can make this work? whether it does or not, i'm sure he'll quit spending money if it doesn't.


EVS
"Comic books confuse them [ prose readers ]"



Secret King confirmed.


EVS
"I don't think the Rebel flag is fun or cool."


a - there are probably more people buying Rebel flag paraphernalia than buy comics. i've seen Stars and Bars stickers and flags in Canada and all over the northern US. it's not just those hick Southerners.

b - what about the comic buying public who DO appreciate a Rebel flag, Eric? do you deny they exist? or are you just refusing to service that portion of the comic buying public?

Anonymous tublecane January 17, 2018 12:22 AM  

All things being equal, a wider literary range makes a better writer. Unless each book by the more limited writer just so happens to be superior. Which probably isn't the case here.

There are great writers who keep writing the same book. Scott Fitzgerald, for instance, wrote main characters who suspiciously resembled Scott Fitzgerald. Except in the unfinished novel about Irving Thalberg. In that case, the main character didn't resemble Fitzgerald outside of the Boy Wonder aspect. Still, he died writing about a man doomed to die young.

I give weight to individual works of grandeur. Signal achievements outweigh any number of mediocrities or slightly above-average works. That's my opinion, anyway. No one else is constrained to go by it.

There's definitely something monomaniacal about some writers. Self-obsession has plagued literature since the romantic era, and got worse with modernism. Many authors can't get outside themselves, which is why they repeat. Not that they necessarily literally write about their own lives.

I've only read a smidgen of Gaiman, so I can't speak to his corpus. But I don't get the feeling he has any signal books. He might be above average. However to know that I'd have to have an idea of average, and I simply don't read enough contemporary literature to know. But he doesn't impress me.

His writing isn't pap, but it's about what you'd expect for his station in the publishing world. It might not have been considered even middle-brow 60 years ago.

Anonymous JAG January 17, 2018 12:23 AM  

VD wrote:Can his style really be an inspiration when it is so blatantly post-modern?

If I don't hesitate to try to do Maupassant and Lovecraft, why would I hesitate to try to do postmodern? Note: Lovecraft was an ABYSMAL failure. I won't even try to do Poe or Eco.


Lovecraft, though, was very unique. I've read many attempts at duplication, and while many are good stories in their own way, they all fail to capture the same sense of dread awe that Lovecraft captured.

If you could duplicate that it would be an accomplishment that would be remarkable in my worthless opinion. I would most certainly read any Lovecraftian stories you write.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 17, 2018 12:24 AM  

It seems to me that EVS is over-committed to this notion that Vox is out to ignore the tastes of the current crop of comic book fans.

One of the things that tends to happen in a market with declining audience and a failure to induct new members is is that the remaining producers and fans engage in something similar to a purity spiral. In model railroading, they're called rivet counters. In wargaming they're grognards. In both cases, they believe the specialized knowledge that existing members of the club have are the one and only measure of quality. Minor details are elevated to supreme importance. Reinforcing the specialness of the existing members is seen as the only value of the products.

Which makes it harder and harder and harder to get new people into the hobby.

Anonymous Looking Glass January 17, 2018 12:30 AM  

@40 Noah B The Savage Gardener

I think part of Dickens' appeal to that crowd is his English is just slightly different enough compared to now they it just seems more impressive. There's some pretty noticeable shifts in English when it went from hand-written to type-written to computer-typed. It changes the nature of a way to writer harmonizes their words, pacing, cadence and all sorts of little details that'll take decades to really note the difference between the eras.

As to Tolkien, I think the issue goes back to the reason no one can "recapture" what he did. What he did was write a very excellent set of Narrative History books, they just ever so happen to be set in a completely different world. Or is the world that different? Tolkien spent decades developing his world based around ancient Anglo myths, which are concepts still within the culture & language but maybe not at the forefront.

The only way to mimic Tolkien is to attempt it in another language, then spend 30 years building a fully realized world. While, at the same time, living through WW1 & WW2. Something like Lord of the Rings takes a depth of harsh experiences in life to elicit.

As to comics, it's a story telling medium, thus the core aspects are stories worth being told in the medium and that the audience will pay to enjoy. For anyone that isn't the Big 2, the company simply needs something worth selling. The Big 2 exist to not lose money and keep the IPs active, their actual business considerations aren't for storytelling. (It will always drag a market sideways when a core company is acting against the interests of the sustainable operation of the main market.)

Anonymous tublecane January 17, 2018 12:35 AM  

@7-That's only true in the very limited sense of the modern and proto-modern avant-garde. Basically, since the Impressionists. But if you go back to previous "revolutionaries," they operate mostly within prevailing styles. Had Beethoven, for instance, been too far out there we wouldn't know his name. (Some of his stuff is wildly "age as of its time," like the late sonatas. But that was after he had already made his reputation, and they weren't intended for wide public consumption.)

From what I've seen, Vox is rather for re-establishing a more normal taste.

Blogger Unknown January 17, 2018 12:37 AM  

Wether the comments have gone down in quality or not, I still read them as I have been doing for years. Unfortunately, something is wrong with the page formatting on my Android phone and I can't see any words at all. Just a FYI

Blogger Unknown January 17, 2018 12:37 AM  

Wether the comments have gone down in quality or not, I still read them as I have been doing for years. Unfortunately, something is wrong with the page formatting on my Android phone and I can't see any words at all. Just a FYI

Anonymous Jo January 17, 2018 12:49 AM  

Jag #43 wrote: "...they all fail to capture the same sense of dread awe that Lovecraft captured."

Just end every story with a note to the reader telling the reader that you can't explain the horror that drove the character mad because the words would drive the reader mad.

What did the character see that drove him mad? Sorry, can't tell you.

And remember:

1. don't skimp on the adjectives, and
2. things gibber.

Anonymous JAG January 17, 2018 12:54 AM  

I want to clarify a significant detail for my previous post. When referring to "Lovecraftian" I needed to specify that it is limited to his Cosmic Horror stories. Lovecraft's Dunsanian Dream Cycle I find boring.

Blogger Starboard January 17, 2018 12:54 AM  

40. Noah... Charles Dickens is remarkably overrated. I’m pretty sure he was paid by the word, the longer the better. I did enjoy David Copperfield though. I would also submit that Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights was trash, but Charlotte’s Jane Eyre was good, and Anne’s Agnes Grey was better by far.

Anonymous Nathan January 17, 2018 12:59 AM  

"From what I've seen, Vox is rather for re-establishing a more normal taste."

You may be onto something there. In the 90s, comics went down the same path of the pulps, and traded mass appeal for mature and edgy stories. And like the pulps, they lost the young audience to a new form of media, in this case video games.

In comics, as in science fiction, the challenge is to go back before the original mistake, to the more normal tastes. The catch is, those involved in the affected media never tend to go back far enough. EVS appears to want to go back to the original point of error, the 90s, and repeat what alienated the audience there in the hopes that it'll win back the non-SJW audience. And in science fiction, those who established themselves in tradpub always look to Campbell instead of the Romantic roots in hopes of undoing the SJW blight.

Blogger SteelPalm January 17, 2018 1:00 AM  

@49 Starboard

Heh, I agree with you about Dickens, although I particularly despised David Copperfield.

As for the Bronte sisters, I found Jane Eyre very average and overrated, but I absolutely love Wuthering Heights, a dark, captivating tale of revenge that took me completely by surprise, and is one of the best works of the Victorian era.

Blogger Starboard January 17, 2018 1:04 AM  

40. Noah, 45. Looking Glass, maybe the lit prof types love Charles Dickens for his left leaning worldview. Many of his main characters were disadvantaged youths ground under the heel of an uncaring world. Many of his villains were rich relatives/employers, cruel schoolmasters, and manipulative criminals.

Blogger Starboard January 17, 2018 1:10 AM  

51. SteelPalm, Maybe I read Wuthering Heights on the wrong day, but I found it mean and depressing. So many wasted lives for no good reason. If that is true love, I’d have no part of it. Jane Eyre is better, but far from the greatness that’s conferred upon it. Charlotte had to manufacture a audible hallucination to make Jane return to Mr. Rochester. Why make Rochester bling if she was going to give him his sight back in the end anyway? Sloppy.

Blogger Mint January 17, 2018 1:33 AM  

There is one book of Neil Gaiman that I curated for a children mobile library in which I glimpsed his skill to convey the sense numinous or fairy tale in modern setting. "Fortunately, the Milk" is a short funny read.

I also would like to confess something that bothered me for a long time. Here it goes: I have been postponing translating ATOB for months and months now. I have been so caught of with life and responsibility that I cannot meet my own dateline for the translation. I have promised, but failed to keep it. VD has sort of, cautioned me when choosing the project that ATOB is "a vast beast and completion requires discipline and patience." I plan to finish it but the dateline has been push off. I am sorry.

Anonymous Post Alley Crackpot January 17, 2018 2:26 AM  

"If I don't hesitate to try to do Maupassant and Lovecraft, why would I hesitate to try to do postmodern?"

I'd be somewhat amused if you took on Lautréamont instead -- what would result would most likely be a variation on Nick Land's "Abstract Horror".

The warnings to the readers certainly would be better than those of Lovecraft.

Anonymous Jo January 17, 2018 3:24 AM  

Off topic: good grief. I literally just started a twitter account a little while ago because I wanted to say hi to Jon Del Arroz, and I'm already banned. Total nonsense. What's a little quiet homeless girl like me to do in this world?

Blogger SteelPalm January 17, 2018 3:25 AM  

@53 Starboard

Oh, the romantic aspects of Wuthering Heights is not very interesting, no. But as a vicious revenge story, filled with the type of harsh realism and gratuitous cruelty one rarely sees in Victorian literature, it's excellent.

I find that many of my favorite female authors are brutally unsentimental, and that certainly applies to that book, although Rochester's constant linger memories and emotions for Catherine were excellently done.

Agree with you about that part of Jane Eyre; it's one of several very contrived, artificial scenes in the book.

Blogger VD January 17, 2018 4:04 AM  

I plan to finish it but the dateline has been push off. I am sorry.

Ego te absolvo. Let's face it, I'm hardly in a position to throw any stones.

Blogger The Kurgan January 17, 2018 4:19 AM  

Cruelty Artistry in its refined form.
Posting his own video for posterity... ensuringbhis own words will haunt him eternally in his secret king layer.

One must appreciate the Artistry.

Anonymous Bruce January 17, 2018 4:27 AM  

@The only thing I admire about Gaiman's writing if his ability to give everything the flavor of a fairy tale-

Gaiman captured the voice of Odin all through American Gods better than anyone since the Havamal. Then he captured the voice of Thor in his Elizabethan comic book except at the end 'I cannot be happy while I hear him screaming', for sooth? Thor isn't sissy about screams. Capturing a narrative voice is deeply important in the novel, which is distinctly not a patrician form. Less patrician than soap operas.


Also I doubt VD could capture the goofy, charming Brit thing Gaiman's public persona does very well and very knowingly. VD is all Jeeves and no Bertie. If VD did Wodehouse it would start with the story where Jeeves manipulates a poor female relation into a wealthy marriage against Bertie's orders and grow more angular from there.

Blogger Emmanuel Mateo-Morales January 17, 2018 4:47 AM  

@50

Speak the truth, brudda.

Though... I will add that that road they've been traveling on was already one they had been traveling on for decades by the 90's... the 90's is just when it reached it's logical conclusion and... well... insert joke about Rob Liefeld's artwork and BLOOD GUN #1 THE ULTRA-RARE COLLECTOR'S ITEM MASS PRODUCED IN COPIOUS QUANTITIES THAT WILL TOTALLY BE WORTH SOMETHING YEARS FROM NOW LIKE ACTION COMICS#1 OR AMAZING FANTASY #15!

Blogger Emmanuel Mateo-Morales January 17, 2018 5:00 AM  

@52

Ironically enough, many now hate him because of some purported Anti-Kike-Ism-Eleventy-Billion-The-Next-Generation in his work.

Blogger Emmanuel Mateo-Morales January 17, 2018 5:02 AM  

@53

The Count of Monte Christo's Revenge scheme was far better from what I heard.

Blogger Longtime Lurker January 17, 2018 6:58 AM  

In the context of the comics industry, EVS is not a moderate, he is a conservative. Think Robert Conquest's First Law of Politics: "Everyone is conservative about what he knows best."

FWIW: The interview with EVS was a success, maybe a breakthrough moment. EVS was skeptical, but open-minded, asked fair questions, and gave Vox ample time to elucidate.

EVS's skepticism, such as it is, is coming from a veteran comics artist perspective, not a poltical one. In that sense, his perspective may be a little cramped by years of experience in the comics industry, but he is open-minded and genuinely intrigued by some of Vox's ideas. At least I thought so.

Conversations between conservatives and radicals rarely go so well.

Blogger Silly but True January 17, 2018 7:08 AM  

"EVS acts like a dog SJWs have whipped."

He has a rather enlightening 2-part video, "What happened with The Fury of Firestorm."

It covers the behind the scenes at DC over how a book that he asked for - and was at point in his success there where DC accommodated - and was given lead creative control over was turned to SJW-converged crap by his co-writer, Gail Simone right from under him.

I think the experience broke him.

Blogger Cluebat Vanexodar January 17, 2018 7:47 AM  

Looking forward to SoS.

Anonymous basementhomebrewer January 17, 2018 7:51 AM  

The whole EVS episode appears to be a cross of IQ gap and people sticking to preconceived notions despite what is being said to them. EVS is still under the impression that Alt-hero is solely about Rebel and Rebel is "the Alt-Hero". Vox didn't directly correct him in the interview but did explain the alt-hero universe which, from context should have told him that it wasn't all about Rebel only.

The Gaiman thing is another preconceived notion that EVS can't be bothered to understand. Vox lists a whole slew of authors better than Gaiman but EVS only thinks "I have never heard of them, but Gaiman is highly regarded in the comics industry and I have heard of him, Vox is crazy and arrogant".

He is also still going on about Dixon getting screwed by Vox's politics even though Vox made it very clear that Dixon pretty much has free reign to do as he pleases.

The fact that today he says he went back and listened to the interview again suggests he is investing more and more time in this topic but still isn't bothering to try to actually research and understand what Vox is saying. It's painful to watch.

Anonymous Baseball Savant January 17, 2018 8:51 AM  

VD,

I know I've e-mailed you this but my 14-year old daughter has read the Lord of the Rings trilogy 3x and the Hobbit countless times. She loves them. She basically has them memorized. She collects them if she sees copies with a different cover. It's crazy.

She read Throne of Bones in a week. After, she read Lord of the Rings again. So I asked her, how does Vox compare to Tolkien.

She hesitated and then said...."Hmmmm, I think Vox got him."

What I really like about Throne of Bones is that it sucks you in so fast. The beginning pages with the painting! Whoa. Loved it. And the concept was really cool. Seeing a very old painting that has someone painted that is alive! Really neat.

Blogger VD January 17, 2018 8:55 AM  

She hesitated and then said...."Hmmmm, I think Vox got him."

That's very flattering, but honestly, I don't agree with her. Now Martin or Eriksen, yeah, I'll buy that. Jordan, absolutely. But it wouldn't surprise me if she thought Eddings was better than either Tolkien or me.

I'm skeptical that any young teenager, no matter how smart, can pick up on the difference in depth between Eddings, me, and Tolkien, in increasing levels of depth. I just don't have Tolkien's depth of experience and expertise upon which to draw. The Shire alone surpasses anything I have managed to do.

Anonymous Baseball Savant January 17, 2018 9:07 AM  

I'm skeptical that any young teenager, no matter how smart, can pick up on the difference in depth between Eddings, me, and Tolkien, in increasing levels of depth. I just don't have Tolkien's depth of experience and expertise upon which to draw. The Shire alone surpasses anything I have managed to do.

I knew you would disagree!! :))

Blogger Nate January 17, 2018 9:11 AM  

When you're talking about the Greats... in anything... I think its always best to keep in mind that they are the Greats for reasons that you almost certainly don't understand fully.

One example I like to use is Rembrant. We can talk about the techniques and such the technical aspects of his paintings and you can compare him to modern painters and such. But there is more to it than that. For example... Rembrant pained the moment when Anna and Simeon saw the baby Jesus and immediately recognized Him as The Christ. If you don't know what you're looking at you may just look at it and see an old man holding a baby. If you do know though... you realize what's going on... and then you realize that Rembrandt has depicted Simeon as blind.

That's what the greats do. They depict things in such a way that causes you to think about something very important to you in a completely different way. And not just a different way but a much better way. There is this way.. they illuminate truth.

That's what Vox means when he is talking about The Shire.

Blogger tz January 17, 2018 9:14 AM  

His hot-dog comment was right but his interpretation was wrong.

We used to have two brands of juicy, greasy, delicious hot dogs, but then they thought that everyone needed healthy low-fat hot dogs made from tofu and cardboard. Since people are ceasing to buy the bland, tasteless, but "good for you" hot dogs, what Alt-Hero, etc. is doing is bring back the juicy, greasy, great tasting variety.

Blogger S1AL January 17, 2018 9:22 AM  

"I just don't have Tolkien's depth of experience and expertise upon which to draw. The Shire alone surpasses anything I have managed to do."

I assume you've had a similar experience here: I remember reading Tolkien as a young kid, then later in college, then again recently - and every time I'm struck by how much better it is than I remembered. The depth of the world-building, particularly, is just astonishing.

The funny thing is that Martin is actually a superior word-smith in a stylistic, readability sense, but he'll never be anywhere close to grandeur of Tolkien's work.

Blogger William Meisheid January 17, 2018 9:34 AM  

Nathan wrote:@Silly But True,

When American Gods came out, Gaiman was already a fanboy's rockstar, just off of Sandman. Whenever he branched out into TV, such as penning the first non-JMS episode of Babylon 5, those episodes became MUST for those fannishly inclined. And, frankly, Gaiman had one hell of an 1990s artistically. Since then...YMMV.

I have often found it interesting that writers are expected to have long careers and write at a high level with fresh ideas and not be repetitive over many years. With that in mind Tolkien had an advantage, since almost all of his writings were around one context, Middle Earth and the universe he created there. In effect, he had one long and fantastically told story, which could be seen as a narrative history. A work of genius for sure, but all with a single cohesive focus.

That is why I think it is so difficult for anyone else to approach the quality of his Middle Earth stories. It was a life's work, which he lived and breathed for most of his existence.

That brings me to what surprises me most about Vox Day and that is his varied ability to do so many different things as well as his ability to tell stories that are unrelated thematically. From his Quantum Mortis series (just finished) to the War in Heaven series (first fiction of his I ever read) to The Arts of Dark and Light series (still reading), not to mention his non-fiction, it’s as if he has been searching for the story he was born to tell. Imagine if all of his creative energies went into The Arts of Dark and Light and that universe became his life’s work. Not going to happen (too many irons in the fire) but I can imagine Tolkien level accomplishment if he did.

I think his critics look at him with a jealous eye, since he does so many things well, many exceptionally well, and they struggle to pull off one thing beyond mediocre. Envy is a powerful driver to pull one down.

Blogger Jim Hackley January 17, 2018 10:10 AM  

So why are Castilia House books, paperback or hardcover, more expensive than the norm? On demand printing costs? More royalty for the writer? Other, as yet, underived economies of scale? I've bought at least ten titles, recognize a premium, and am curious.

Anonymous Avalanche January 17, 2018 10:23 AM  

@44 "It seems to me that EVS is over-committed to this notion that Vox is out to ignore the tastes of the current crop of comic book fans."

All 124 of them left?

Vox is NOT reaching for the disaffected; he's building a new playground for anyone and -- to judge from the response to the FreeStartr -- there are WAY more "everyones" out there looking for good comics, than there are the disaffected "current crop of comic book fans" doing a hopeless search for ANYthing decent to read in the SJW-contaminated comics world.

Anonymous Avalanche January 17, 2018 11:04 AM  

@67 EVS is still under the impression that Alt-hero is solely about Rebel and Rebel is "the Alt-Hero".

And that is SO weird! Did he not look at the FreeStartr and see all the different folks, and the three entirely different threads (books? volumes? Sorry, don't know the lingo.) Didn't EVS even post a picture of Dynamique? Maybe he has her confused with Rebel?

S'pose he could have been so focused on the eeeeeevil Confederate Stars and Bars that he forget what he'd noticed on FreeStartr?

Oh well, I suppose like every OTHER possibly rational sorta-leftie (are there any?); he'll have to see the actual Alt*Hero when it comes out, to get an idea that it's NOT all political screed...

Still it was very good interview. And I LOVED that Vox answered about Martin Luther (whether on purpose or not!) instead of MLK! Wonder why EVS missed it? (Was he nervous about talking with the Dark Lord? Could be!)

Anonymous Avalanche January 17, 2018 11:09 AM  

@73 "I remember reading Tolkien as a young kid, then later in college, then again recently - and every time I'm struck by how much better it is than I remembered."

Dare I ask how many of y'all actually worked out how to write "in" Elvish? I still have the h.s. notebook covers I covered with Elvish -- tore 'em off and kept 'em after I graduated! (Couldn't do it now... There are now font-sets of Elvish, but I haven't tried to learn to use them.)

Anonymous Avalanche January 17, 2018 12:27 PM  

I just watched the EVS follow-up, and posted this:

I think you've misunderstood: Vox is not ignoring or 'skipping over the heads of' the (few remaining) comic book fans -- he's not targeting them!

From here: http://voxday.blogspot.com/2017/11/sjw-will-not-protect-you.html
... information released by Diamond Comic Distributors. Comic sales were the entire source of the decline; comic sales declined 15.74%, ...Year-to-date comic sales down 9.93% Even more interesting, unit {comics and graphic novels} sales were down 20.27 percent year-on-year.

IF focusing on "the current fans" who are clearly giving up ("declined 15.74%" "down 9.93%" "down 20.27 percent") would or could work -- would it not have ALREADY worked? The Big Two are clearly focusing on their SJW propaganda, and the FANS are leaving (have left) in droves! Suggesting Vox focus on the FEW "regular fans" left -- as against focusing on making excellent comics with excellent stories produced without the SJW contamination is a sure-fire loser!

And, my impression of your (excellent) interview with Vox is that you seem to think that Rebel IS Alt*Hero. Have you not read the FreeStartr introduction? Have you not seen the many superheros already designed and drawn? The 'hero' that made me fall in love was Dynamique! https://freestartr.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/AH_003.png If this link disappears (I don't know how this site deals with links): go to the FreeStartr page and page down to meet her!) (Rebel? Yeah, yeah, sure. She tweaks the hell out of the SJWs and progs. Don't care. Dynamique? I LOVE!)

Maybe do a review of the art/pages/samples ON the FreeStartr -- you've clearly got experience and knowledge in the comics world -- so instead of dealing with Vox Day's terrible-horrible-evil-bad reputation amongst the folks DESTROYING the comics world, how about a deep review of the comic stuff he has ALREADY put out there?

Blogger Sum Dude's Fry Sauce January 18, 2018 3:45 PM  

I had to flol wondering if there is going to be an installment titled "A Forest of Femurs".

Blogger Sum Dude's Fry Sauce January 18, 2018 3:45 PM  

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