Sunday, July 10, 2016

Shadows and inspirations

© Michael Chevy Castranova 2016










-->I’m now at the part in “Everybody Behaves Badly,” Lesley M.M. Blume’s book about the writing of “The Sunday Also Rises,” in which she details how much Hemingway altered his fictional characters from their real counterparts. In some cases, not very much at all, and not very politely.
I’m clearly going to have to read the novel again. (That would make it the seventh or eighth time — I’ve lost count over the years.)
But I’ve long been fascinated about using real people as models for fictional characters. Writers and cartoonists often adapt the looks and sometimes aspects of the personalities of movie and sports celebrities — alive or dead — and of friends and enemies.
And sometimes they borrow both the looks and the personalities. Are these people ever flattered by the attention?
Hemingway revealed very little to his friends about how he’d taken their looks and lives and remarks and reshaped them into his version of events. Probably because they wouldn’t have liked the unkind way he portrayed them.
They had to read the book for themselves.
Have I done that in “Slipped”? Well, in the eight-plus years I’ve definitely modeled some characters real people.
For one, Dargelos is meant to look like — in a very cartoony way, of course — Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni. He died in 1996, and I’m sure he was in no way demonic. But I figured if the devil — or something like the devil — desired to tempt and trick a young woman, he’d want to look like Mastroianni — charming, smooth and handsome in “8 ½” and “La Dolce Vita,” among other movies.
You can pick up the trail of the Scarlet Sparrow — right now joined by her sister, Mendacity, and, as always, Pip — in chapter 383. Take a look.
© Michael Chevy Castranova 2016

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Behaving badly in Paris

 
Pip image © Michael Chevy Castranova 2016

It occurs to me, as I’m reading Lesley M.M. Blume’s new book, “Everybody Behaves Badly,” about how Ernest Hemingway came to write “The Sun Also Rises” — which I’ve read at least a half-dozen times — that in the mid-1920s Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, JohnDos Passos and others would have been in Paris. That is, around pretty much the same time when the Scarlet Sparrow lives there.
So my thought is, as Tyler, Pip and friends, as about to return to Paris, maybe they’ll drop in at la Closerie des Lilas or le Dingo and spend some time with these famous expats.
She will, after all, need all the allies she can get. Remember, as this storyline moves forward from chapter 381 onward, this will be her second time through Paris in 1926. The first time saw the already-in-place occupation of western Europe by les Rongeurs. But now, after Tyler altered history — in hopes of stopping the giant rats — she’s actually made things worse. This time, the rats are in even more control, and have even larger rats with them — all due to Tyler injecting two of them with the genetic serum and giving them the idea to perfect the formula.
So, yeah, she is going to need help. Take a look right here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The adventures of the Silver Sparrow?

© Michael Chevy Castranova 2016
 A few days ago I read on the internet — so it must be true, right? — that “production” has begun on Netflix’s “The Defenders,” to be followed immediately by season 2 of “Jessica Jones.”
I’m not completely certain what “in production” means, but it sounds positive. Filming already? Writing scripts? Thinking about writing scripts?
I’ve seen no indication as to when either show might be available for viewing, but clearly not soon enough. Which in a perfect, fair and just world would be tomorrow.
Jessica Jones,” by episode 3 or 4, became one of my top five TV shows of all time.
In the meantime, we have the non-super-powered female hero of “Slipped,” Tyler Wilson, sometimes aka the Scarlet Sparrow. Her not-always-well-meaning sister Mendacity has returned.
I am toying with the notion of following Mendacity — the Silver Sparrow? — in her own adventures when she returns to Paris to fight off the invading legions of giant Rongeurs at least for a little while. (Remember: Rongeur are really big rats to begin with. And now some have been injected with a formula that makes them even bigger.)
But Tyler tends to get upset when she’s left out of the storyline for too long. And she and Pip have their own escapdes.
So we’ll see. As they used to say on Doctor Who, back when it was worth watching: Time will tell. It always does.
Follow this link to catch up on “Slipped.” It’ll be fun.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Who is that other woman?

Image and text © Michael Chevy Castranova
 
-->
So a recap, then, at chapter 379 of “Slipped”:
Tyler Wilson — whose father was the infamous cat burglar, the Scarlet Sparrow, and who has been following in his footsteps (or paw prints, if you prefer) — and her dog, Pip, have been captured by the Rongeur officer, the Chancellor, whom Tyler believed to be dead but, clearly, is not. Instead, the serum that made him grow — and, she thought, to have made him mad — has made him even larger. And madder.
In fact, the Chancellor used that same serum to create an army of giant rats, and they’ve been dispatched to lead an invasion of western Europe.
Meanwhile, during a lightening-quick out-of-body experience, Tyler was contacted by Dargelos, another long-standing enemy, who struck a deal — he will send her help to escape if she, in turn, does something to be named later to aid him in his ongoing mission to bring chaos into the world. (And who better to do that than our hero?)
And now, arriving to their rescue at the brink of time, is Tyler’s younger sister, Mendacity Wilson. They don’t get along.
Moreover, Mendacity’s anger management issues are even less under control than Tyler’s.
Is Mendacity the “rescue” Dargelos promised? Or did she circle back to help Tyler on her own? Is this another trick orchestrated by the devil?
One thing, though — Mendacity has with her the Time Sword.
So the situation, if nothing else, is about to spin wildly out of control. As it generally does with one Wilson sibling. Imagine two, plus a weapon neither understands … and the Chancellor covets above all else.
Follow the action here!

Friday, June 10, 2016

The devil’s due

Text and image © Michael Chevy Castranova 2016

This past Saturday, I came by a back issue of “The Wake” part one, a collection of issues 1 through 5, from 2014. I’d run across some issues when the title was current, but I didn’t want to start mid-run.
Published by Vertigo, the time-shifting storyline by Scott Snyder tells of world in which — somehow — a race of underwater … oh, wait, maybe I shouldn’t give away the plot.
Let me start over: The story of a group of scientists, spies and mythologists moves at great pace, and the cinematic art by Sean Murphy is thrilling. I loved the flow of the action, and the characters’ expressions seemed true to their  personalities and the emotions they were experiencing. The pages are packed with action as well as angst and remorse.
It is true when I buy a comic book or graphic novel, the decision is based on the art far more than the story. (So if I don’t like the cover, I’m generally not going to like what’s inside, right?) In the case of “The Wake,” the clever story was a bonus.
Meanwhile, in the world of “Slipped,” the Scarlet Sparrow appears to have a made a deal with the devil himself — even if she’s not completely certain of its terms.
But anything seems better than the alternative: Tyler Wilson and her dog, Philip Pirrip, are about to become a quick snack for the augmented (i.e., giant) rat, the Chancellor.
Dargelos promised to send help. But he didn’t say who or what that help would entail. Nor what Tyler would need to do to pay off that debt.
So take a look at chapter 378 of “Slipped” to see what becomes of our hero’s deal with the devil …

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Just in time for dinner

Text and image © Michael Chevy Castranova 2016

 So if you’ve read chapter375 of “Slipped,” you might be wondering what’s happening in that last panel.
The first three panels tell how the Chancellor has succeeded in sending his giant and remarkably mad rat soldiers off to terrorize western Europe — from Paris to Tzanicor, he vows — while holding the Scarlet Sparrow in his grip, and now having captured Pip the dog, too.
And his next move is to make a meal of them both.
But then — this is an adventure series, after all — something unexpected happens: Tyler appears to have a sudden out-of-body experience. (Yes, they did consider such phenomenon a very real possibility in 1926.)
What actually is going on will be explained in next week’s chapter, when a surprise villain returns … with an extremely dangerous offer.
More dangerous than Tyler getting her head bitten off? Take look next week.
S’il vous plait.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Peter Arno, meet Pip the dog

Image & text © Michael Chevy Castranova 2016


Hey, just out is the new biography of legendary New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno by current New Yorker cartoonist Michael Maslin.
A copy just arrived on my doorstep. The cover is rather dire, but I’m hopeful Arno’s story is well told.
Inside are some samples of the man’s great, elegant work. One of my favorites is of a couple in bed, the man clearly snoring and the woman yelling angrily, “Wake up, you mutt! We’re getting married today.” Ha!
Meanwhile, in chapter 374 of “Slipped,” the Scarlet Sparrow’s dilemma is even more dire. Though Pip the dog prevents Delacroix from reentering the fray, Cartier Tour appears to be long gone, and Tyler’s sister, Mendacity, is who knows where, fighting her own battles.
And Tyler? The Chancellor now reveals that his half-mad, giant soldier rats intend to devour as much of the population of Europe as they can.
And he tightens, tightens, tightens his grip on Tyler herself.