Calling all writers, calling all proofreaders!

A fond hello to all you brilliant aspiring writers out there.

Who would like to help me on a manuscript? That whole I’ll-scratch-your-back-if-you-scratch-mine setup…

I, an experienced professional copyeditor, will help scour your manuscript for typos. And you can help me. Networking and all that.

My latest is a slim eBook at under 50,000 words. I suspect you will find it a good read. It’s my last eBook before I officially get “real published” and I hope to polish it as much as possible. Please help me with one last edit.

 

My contact information is on my About Me up there, but let me reiterate: let’s correspond and do say hi via rayhecht@gmail.com

Can’t wait to read your own works of genius and soon :)

 

英语顾问

My humble namecared. See? I am a pro

 

Growing up with the X-Men

“Da na na na NA NA!”

That’s supposed to be the X-Men Animated Series theme song. Remember that? If you’re a member of my generation, should be a fond memory…

Fox X-Men Animated Series 1992 to 1997

Can’t you just hear the theme song?

 

Little did my early childhood self know, but there was a lot more to X-Men than that 90s Zeitgeist.

As detailed in my last post: My History of Comics, once upon a time in my adolescence I was given the awesome gift of about a hundred 1980s X-Men comics (as well as New Mutants and X-Factor spinoffs, more on that in a moment). Written by Chris Claremont, this was the crème de la crème of the superhero genre. It changed my reading habits — and hence, my life — forever.

Although these comics posts are mean to be about my experience, I will delve into the greater history of comics for a bit. In Marvel Comic’s “Silver Age” era in the 1960s, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, that is, probably just Jack Kirby, created the X-Men. Cyclops, Angel, Best, Iceman, and Marvel Girl/Jean Grey. It was actually more of a failure compared to Fantastic Four and the Avengers at that time. Yet, in the late 1970s came the All New All Different X-Men and American superhero comics suddenly matured.

xmen70s

Dave Cockrum?

 

With an international cast, featuring the Canadian Wolverine and the African Storm as well as many others, it brought much-needed diversity to the superhero genre. In particular were the many strong, female characters. (Funny though it is that the X-Men were so feminist.)

It still pisses me off that the movies don’t get that. I’ll be complaining about the movies a lot in this post.

By the 1980s, the Uncanny X-Men were the best of the best. While Marvel was publishing a lot of cherished works, scribe Chris Claremont was building an amazing mythology unequaled with anything else out there. He took the metaphor of mutants-as-oppressed-minority and went with it unseen depths. He wrote with equal ease in outer space settings, as the alien Shi’ar Empire fought the Phoenix and the Brood. He wrote about magical concepts, with Colossus’s sister Illyana the ruler of the mystical demonic realm of Limbo. He was on fire, and he stuck with the characters on fire for 16 years from 1975 to 1991. Although, yes, if you wanna critique we was and is a very wordy writer.

My bundle of X-Mens covered about 180 – 240. But with many other heres-and-theres, I got the Dark Phoenix saga graphic novel collection and Classic X-Men reprints. The fun of collecting comics back then was to fill in the gaps and slowly piece together the greater story over the course of years. Then I got X-Factor 1 – 50, the spinoff featuring the original X-Men such as Cyclops, which covered many crossovers. As well as bunches and bunches of New Mutants.

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The New Mutants, next generation of students at Xavier’s

 

By the time I hit the ground running, Magneto had joined the X-Men in issue 200 and then there was the Mutant Massacre and then for a darker period the X-Men had “died” in the Fall of the Mutants storyline in 225 and lived in Australia while being drawn by Marc Silvestri, and then the demonic Inferno crossover around issue 240 brought together X-Factor and others. Wow fun times!

Classic X-Men 28-29

Silvestri, love that art

 

Continue reading

My History of Comics

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My current crop of graphic novels on apartment bookshelf, but do read up on how it all began…

Back: My hobby of comics

And now the history thereof:

Back in the 1980s, I was a weird little kid. I had an unstable upbringing, and although I was encouraged to read I didn’t really discover my passions until a bit older. I didn’t get into comics until that decade was over with, although as a small child I did typically love Ninja Turtles and Transformers without even knowing the original comic book origins.

By the time the 90s arrived, I was a hyperactive nerd with bad social skills and hailing from an increasingly-broken home. My destiny as an escapist comic geek was inevitable, it must have been. I did enjoy watching the brilliant X-Men and Batman cartoons, though I hadn’t read much of the source material yet.

Finally, my parents divorced. I remember it as a great relief.

I was about ten or eleven years old and my dad lived in Indianapolis, Indiana while my mom moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. The great question was which insane parent me and my sister where to stay with (spoiler: wasn’t going to be my mom). The answer to that question was postponed, as we were sent to stay with our older, richer, Jewisher relatives to live with for a year as my parents got it together and proceeded to fight each other in court.

It was an interesting year, living in a big house in actual American suburbs. Like you see on TV and everything. A taste of the good life!

But what really made it a good life was that my old relatives had an adult soon who had moved away. Their son was a comics fan, and closets upon closets upon basements in the house were filled with classic 80s and 90s Marvel comics. Lots of Star Wars toys as well, by the way.

Some of my best memories are of exploring that ol’ house. All the things I discovered…

Putting comics in chronological order. Making sense of the crossovers, filling in the gaps of storylines bit by bit. The Avengers. Fantastic Four. The story of Tony Stark losing his armor to James Rhodes, Captain America quitting, Spider-Man’s black costume, and marriage. Tie-ins to Secret Wars, Inferno, Acts of Vengeance, and more.

I lived in the Marvel Universe, I truly did.

Here’s the thing about superhero comics as hobby. To truly understand the profound continuity, you need to read a lot. Not just casually pick up an issue or even a graphic novel every so often, you need to obsessively understand everything that has ever happened to these characters over the course of decades. Hundreds of characters with their own biographies and histories and villains and to follow it all you have to basically become an expert.

Then, in the midst of figuring all this out, I started buying the latest 90s Marvel comics. Spider-Man and X-Men, of course. Crossovers like Maximum Carnage and the Phalanx Covenant. The early 90s did not measure up to the heyday of the mid-80s by any means, although as a dumb kid I was very impressed by those Image-era artists. And there was nothing better than Wednesdays at that fondly-remembered little comic shop in downtown Broadripple. It was my first. It’s gone now.

The time came and my dad moved to Cincinnati and me and my sister moved with him. Life was more or less stable from middle school to high school. But by that point, the damage was done. I could not move anywhere without finding the local comic shop and I was wired so that it was one of the most important things in my life. Soon I would meet my lifelong best friend in the cafeteria of our middle school, because we both read comics and didn’t sit with the cool kids.

But before I moved, I was given the greatest gift one could ever be given, a hundred-odd issues of 1980s-era Chris Claremont genius.

Remember what I said about continuity, about being an obsessive expert to truly understand the story? That goes quadruple for the epicness that is classic X-MEN.

Next: My early affair with the X-Men (and not that current movie shit, the original awesome groundbreaking All-New All-Different series…)

Comics One

I like to share. Over the course of this blog, I’ve shared my writings, some of my taste in music, and yes my love-life. However, one aspect that I consider very important to my identity has been rather neglected. I speak of my biggest hobby of all, my first love. Comics. There are many facets to the complexity that is me Ray, but if anyone is interested in truly knowing the core of my being then you must know that I am ultimately.. a bigass comic geek. I used to go to the comic shop every Wednesday. I used to scour for good deals at used bookstores and comic conventions. I collected thousands of periodicals across all genres, and filled my various bedrooms with dozens of boxes. At last count, I had about 40 boxes. They contain over a hundred issues each, do the math. I have less now, that’s another story, but still a ton of these back in my dad’s closet in Indiana of all places.

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Now imagine 40 of these.

To introduce this series detailing my great interest in the sequential art form, let me begin with profile links from my extensive Goodreads:

According to my Goodreads shelves, I have read over 1000 graphic novels (I think it’s more, that’s just what I recalled to list) https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/765636?shelf=comics

There are all kinds, all genres. But I must admit mostly superhero- https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/765636?shelf=superhero

Split into DC and Marvel (I’m more into DC, least I used to be) https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/765636?shelf=dc https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/765636?shelf=marvel

Re: Superman https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/765636?shelf=superman

Also, quite a lot of Japanese manga https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/765636?shelf=manga

Such as the fun volumes of Shonen Jump https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/765636?shelf=shonen-janpu

The “God of Manga” Osamu Tezuka https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/765636?shelf=tezuka

I do, of course, contend that comics are as literature as prose books Noting DC’s adult imprint Vertigo https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/765636?shelf=vertigo

Indie as well, all that which defies classification https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/765636?shelf=indie

My favorite authors:

Grant Morrison https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/765636?shelf=grant-morrison

Alan Moore https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/765636?shelf=alan-moore

Warren Ellis https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/765636?shelf=warren-ellis

Neil Gaiman https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/765636?shelf=gaiman

Geoff Johns https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/765636?shelf=geoff-johns

Heartache Songs 3 – Fun. “Out on the Town”

Heartache Songs 1

Heartache Songs 2

Heartache Songs 3

Nate Ruess, who broke your heart?

With no irony, no declarations of guilty pleasures, I admit am a shameless sincere full-on fan of the epic rock band Fun.. Among my very favorite bands, especially current music. And what a singer.

I prefer this live version of the bonus song from the seminal album Some Nights (of which the eponymous song “Some Nights” is of course brilliant, among many others…). I’ve listened to many of those songs on repeat again and again, and this one in particular like no other.

If you pay attention you will see Mr. Ruess’s songwriting contains some consistent themes, and again I ask the question: Dude, who broke your poor heart?

Now, these lyrics don’t necessarily apply to what I’ve specifically done, y’know making a scene and all, but I’ve been pretty damn close. I can relate to the feelings a bit. Most of all, I relate to the part about knowing I can be more clever and strong and mostly clever.

That’s it. End of the series, no more heartache music from me. I’m over it, and I’ll spare you Bright Eyes. Lucky you.

Still, hope you give this a listen and if you’ve been there I hope it’s a small comfort:

I set all my regrets on fire
Cause I know I’ll never take the time
To unpack my missteps and call all of our friends
I figured they would take your side

I make the bed, just not that well
Your name comes up a lot
When I talk to my mom
Oh, I think she can tell

I was out on the town
So I came to your window last night
I tried not to throw stones
But I wanted to come inside
Now I’m causing a scene
Thinking you need a reason to smile
Oh no, what have I done?
There’s no one to keep me warm

So maybe I should put up a fight
I’ll call them back and borrow a box knife
So I can learn to live with all the stupid shit
I’ve been doing since ’99

And I know I could be more clever
And I know I could be more strong
But I’m waiting for the day
You’ll come back and say
“Hey, maybe I should change my mind”

I drink a lot
I’m not sure if that’s new
But these days when I wake up
From a night I forgot
I just wish that it never came true

I was out on the town
So I came to your window last night
I tried not to throw stones
But I wanted to come inside
Now I’m causing a scene
Thinking you need a reason to smile
Oh no, what have I done?
There’s no one to keep me warm

And I know I could be more clever
And I know I could be more strong
And I know I could be more clever
And I know I could be more CLEVER

I knew there’d come a day
When all was said and done
(And I know I could be more clever)
Everything I was
Is everything but gone
(And I know I could be more strong)
All my big mistakes
Are bouncing off your wall
(And I know I could be more clever)
The bottles never break
The sun will never comes
(And I know I could be more clever)
So come on let me in
I will be the sun
(And I know I could be more CLEVER)
I will wake you up
I am who I was
(And I know I could be more strong)
So beat up your heart, oh beat up your heart, oh beat up your heart
(And I know I could be more CLEVER
And I know I could be more)

I was out on the town
So I came to your window last night
I tried not to throw stones
But I wanted to come inside
Now I’m causing a scene
Thinking you need a reason to smile
Oh no, what have I done?
There’s no one to keep me warm

Heartache Songs 2 – Passion Pit “It’s Not My Fault I’m Happy”

The second of my short series on heartache songs — the first of which being “The Mess” by the Naked and Famous.

More indietronica, more good jogging songs.

I’d always liked Passion Pit, famed for me from the 2009 “Sleepyhead” from those commercials. And I’d argue that they consistently improved with their second studio album Gossamer in 2012. “Love is Greed” from the album being a poignant song of such themes as well.

But this song “It’s Not My Fault I’m Happy” really spoke to me. And so catchy~

The lyrics speak of unfairness, judgment, how if you knew and saw you’d have said it was the final straw. It’s not right to be the only one who sees us fight. Those bastards deserve to pay! It’s not fair that I’m the only one who seems to care…

Without going into details, let’s just say I can relate.

Sorry I couldn’t be there, I was tied to a rocking chair
I was beat down to a pulp rocking back and forth somewhere
If you knew, if you saw, you’d have said it was the final straw
That my life was bound and tethered on a porch by the shore

But there is no no no no
easy way to tell them so, the things you know
And run run run run
Run they say, they think they know exactly so

It’s not right, it’s not right
How am I the only one who sees us fight?
What are we? Who are they?
Who says those bastards don’t deserve to pay?
Well it’s enough, it’s just enough ’cause we don’t stand a chance
So long you stay around, you’re just another song and dance
It’s not fair, it’s not fair, it’s not fair, it’s not fair
Still I’m the only one who seems to care

It’s funny that being funny makes you feel like up and running
When your past lingers like rain clouds, casting shadows below
I could live with so many burns, I take all your hope and yearning
But there’s no one I want to take me for that petty little rose

I used to glow glow glow glow
Once I had a love to show, a love they know
They’re slow slow slow slow
So slow that they never know where I go

It’s not right, it’s not right
How am I the only one who sees us fight?
What are we? Who are they?
Who says those bastards don’t deserve to pay?
Well it’s enough, it’s just enough ’cause we don’t stand a chance
So long you stay around, you’re just another song and dance
It’s not fair, it’s not fair, it’s not fair, it’s not fair
Still I’m the only one who seems to care

I know that it’s only something
I’m just working with what I’ve been given
It’s not my fault, I’m happy
Don’t call me crazy, I’m happy

It’s not right, it’s not right
How am I the only one who sees us fight?
What are we? Who are they?
Who says those bastards don’t deserve to pay?
Well it’s enough, it’s just enough ’cause we don’t stand a chance
So long you stay around, you’re just another song and dance
It’s not fair, it’s not fair, it’s not fair, it’s not fair
Still I’m the only one who seems to care