Tag Archives: progress

American Gilgamesh: Shoots with his Right, Heart on his Left.

Have you ever read Preacher? It’s one of those transcendent comics that ran for a few years in the mid-90s. They came in just ahead of the renaissance that brought to the fore the graphic novel, a format, in retrospect, far more natural for these odd ducks. Because they are novels, with all the literary power and capability to impel reflection that word implies; they just happen to have accompanying pictures.

Preacher is a brutal, beautiful, love letter to America, written by an Irishman and drawn by an Englishman. It’s all blood and sinew, the absolute most horrific violence and degradation a very creative pair of minds could conjure, paired without a hint of whiplash to moments so funny you’ll literally have to put the book down. Sometimes they’re even one and the same, and you’ll find yourself in that “I really shouldn’t be laughing at this but DAMN” mode. The characters are that perfect mix of mythic archetypes and detailed characterization that comics are so suited to. The villains are hate-able, the heroes stand tall, but no one is simple, and there’s some sympathy to be found in even the most hateful pieces of excrement (Of which there are plenty.)

More than any of that, though, Preacher is a meditation on America and on being an American. The hero and titular character is named Jesse Custer, a hard-drinking, hard fighting, Southern-born outlaw turned preacher turned outlaw (of a sort) again. Jesse is Clint Eastwood’s frame and laid back, predatory attitude combined with the unwavering justness of Atticus Finch. He’s that sort of violent that we would call psychopathic, if it wasn’t so unerringly directed at people who really–conveniently–deserve it. Jesse is every Western hero stereotype from Odysseus to Shane, rolled into one. He swears a lot, he’s a bit more than arrogant, and he’s always chivalrous to women, if a tad old-fashioned. His very literal Jiminy Cricket is even a spectral John Wayne.

I could spill gallons of virtual ink deconstructing Jesse Custer, or anyone else in the comic’s large, well written cast. What I want to talk about more broadly, however, is Jesse’s role as the dead center, bulls-eye ideal of the American hero. What a beautiful, contradictory, and completely unattainable idea that is.

Continue reading


Progress report

Have to admit it looks as if not been very prolific lately. The short story section is a tad bare, and it’s been over a week since I darkened the feed here. The funny thing is I’ve actually been quite active in the word department, it’s just that my efforts have been focused on my first novel, tentatively titled “Dust”. It represents just over a year of effort, interspersed as it was with other work, but as I near the conclusion I’m picking up speed. Crossing the 150,000 word mark seemed a good time to come up for some air!

I anticipate being done with that first draft this summer. While my proof readers give it the once (Or twice) over, I’ll be reapplying myself towards shorter form work. As I’ve gotten better as a writer I’m definitely getting faster, and the short stories should come rapid and furious soon enough. I also have quite a few posts still in draft status for this feed.

In other news, I have the Meacham Writer’s Workshop to attend at the end of this month, where I’ll be getting feedback on my short story “The Divine Relation” from professional writers and fellow aspiring professionals alike.

In other, other news, thanks to the success of a certain once self-published, post-apocalyptic speculative fiction series, I should probably come up with a new name for my novel. For reasons that will become clear when I get a reasonably polished version of the first few thousand words up, I’m considering “Raleigh”.

Thanks for reading, and remember: words matter.