Thursday, March 12, 2015

God Dammit.

Just...god dammit.

He was too good to die. He was too goddamned good to suffer and die like this, losing everything that made him a genius bit by bit with still so much to say. He was the best writer I've ever read--and I say this as someone with a classical education, someone who's read Shakespeare and Miller and Brecht and Faulkner and Hemingway and Austen and any number of Great Authors you would care to name. He was that good. He was better. He was the best satirist since Jonathan Swift--and I don't mean "best" in the sense of funniest or wittiest, although he was that too. He was the best because he understood humanity and he understood people, the vast mass of us and the individuals, and his satire illuminated the human condition and made you a better person for reading it.

He taught me an infinite amount about the craft of writing, simply by reading him. Every book was a masterclass on the art of plotting, the art of storytelling. But more than that, he taught me the art of having something to say--his books were driven by passion, by a deep and abiding belief that you could use art to illuminate the injustices of the world, both great and small, and that illuminating them went some small way to curing them. Not enough, never enough--he knew that, which was why he kept writing right up until the end, but it was better than nothing.

His writing may never get the respect it deserves. It's fantasy, and it's funny fantasy at that, and the arbiters of quality have never really been comfortable with the idea of humor being as important as everything else in the human experience. But he deserves all the respect in the world. I never met him, but goddammit, he's the kind of man you have to mourn simply because he was the best ever and we will never see anyone his like again, and to lose him is to see the world diminished. I'm crying right now while I write this and I don't care.

And because I will never have the skill with words that he did, and I will never be able to eulogize him the way he deserves, just...goddammit.

Monday, March 02, 2015

How Has This Never Been a Series, DC?

I was thinking last night about shows set in prisons, like "Oz" and "Prison Break" and "Orange Is the New Black", and it popped into my head so quickly that I spent the next fifteen or so minutes checking to confirm that it had never been done simply because it seemed so obvious: 'Arkham Asylum'.

I mean, of course they've done things set in Arkham. Grant Morrison did the classic Arkham story, but there've been tons of mini-series and one-shots about the history of the iconic mental institution where all of Batman's villains are kept, and the video game is a classic as well. But they've never done an ongoing series, and they've never done a series that focused on Batman's enemies. It seems to me like this is just a natural, perfect extension of DC's current focus on damaged protagonists and anti-heroes and grimdark, but it's one that has the potential to actually be done well. A regular series, set in Arkham, with the Batman villains as the protagonists as they try to survive life in the worst prison in the world.

You have so many interesting characters to play with. The Penguin, who somehow contrives to get locked up in Arkham despite having no apparent mental health issues, and who no doubt maneuvers and manipulates the other inmates to get what he wants. The Joker, a terrifying force for chaos who even the staff fears. The Mad Hatter, a seemingly gentle soul in his own way but one with terrifying depths. The Riddler, an unpredictable and manic prisoner who sees everything but gives out his secrets sparingly. The Scarecrow, who takes the role of psychologist with his own cellmates. Harley Quinn, a former staffer who wound up going too deep into her understanding of madness and has no way back out. There's a huge ensemble cast with built-in name recognition and fanbases, and you can rotate the cast as needed because they'd be constantly escaping to appear in the next Batman story. (You could even show the escapes.)

I'd have to brush up on my prison dramas if I wanted to write this, but it seems like such an easy win for DC that I honestly don't understand how they haven't done it already. It'd be the best elements of a crime drama mixed with a horror story, all featuring the most famous villains in the world. A no-brainer like this should at least get a trial, dangit! Who's with me?