Squint No. 6 by TDE columnist Tom Brinkmann arrived in yesterday’s mail. First previewed in The Digest Enthusiast No. 8 in June 2018, the long-awaited artzine is finally in print, showcasing 16 black-and-white amorphic images and portraits presented in a classic mini-comics format zine.
The piece was published and distributed with Copy That! #60. Editor D. Blake Werts opens CT! 60 with a reminder that he’s scaling back the frequency of his mini-comics interview/newszine and would either like to see someone else take the reins or continue himself on a quarterly or bi-annual schedule. The previous monthly schedule has prevented him from tackling some other projects he’s been sidelining for several years, but isn’t talking about yet.
This edition of CT! features news from Alan Sissom, Andy Nukes, Blair Wilson, Clark Dissmeyer, Charles Brubaker, Dale Martin, George Erling, Ian Shires, Marc Myers, and Matt Jones. Plus there’s a page highlighting the latest edition of The Digest Enthusiast (No. 9) which leads off with an interview with writer/filmmaker Susan Emshwiller, and a cover by her famous father, Ed Emshwiller. CT! 60 also includes cartoons by Bob Vojtko and R.C. Harvey, and covers by Tom Motley (front) and E. Buzzizyk (back).
The latest issue of Copy That! is arriving in mailboxes this week. It’s one of their all-art issues with contributions from over two dozen indie cartoonists, including TDE contributors like Tom Brinkmann, Brian Buniak, Clark Dissmeyer, Brad W. Foster, Andrew Goldfarb, and Bob Vojtko, who also drew the cover.
D. Blake Werts opens the issue as usual with “From the ‘Compiler’s Desk,’” but if you skim the intro, you may miss the most important part:
“Anyone out there with any interest in taking the reins of COPY THAT! zine and taking it into the future? I need a break for a while. Just let me know.”
D. Blake Werts’Copy That! No. 55 arrived in yesterday mail. Blake reports Florence dumped over eight inches of rain over three days on the South Charlotte area. Fortunately, he was able to continue his long-running zine in spite of it all. CT! 55 features news of the latest offerings from the mini comics community as well as two bonus minis:
The Highly Opinionated Mr. So & So by Matt Jones Tormento the Clown by David Miller
For your copy of Copy That! No. 55 send $3 to the editor:
D. Blake Werts
12339 Chesley Drive
Science Fiction writer Edd Vick gave D. Blake Werts a terrific interview for The Digest Enthusiast book six. He also gave us a list of Speculative Short Fiction Markets, which appears in the issue. You can download a PDF file of that page here.
“Mainstream writers start with character. Genre writers start with situation. That’s why people who mostly read genre stories can get bored and think too little is happening in a mainstream novel, just as a mainstream reader gets whiplash and feels there’s too little character development in a genre novel. This is a hugely gross generalization, and of course every writer comes up with their own melding of the two. It’s a continuum.”
When I was in high school I read all the digests I could lay my hands on, preferring one that’s no longer around named Galaxy. Where Analog tended to have more tech-oriented stories, and Fantasy & Science Fiction was usually more literary, Galaxy hit a sweet spot of SF focusing on characters and the soft sciences. I have a complete collection still, barring a couple of later magazine-sized issues from when it was being passed from one publisher to another.
The magazine nowadays that’s inherited that mantle is Asimov’s, where I’m very happy to have sold several stories. They’re a little more adventure-oriented, but that’s not an issue where I’m concerned.
“First, the more I critique other people’s work, the better I’m going to get at revising my own work. There are three levels of looking at a story. At the highest is to see it as a whole: is the idea interesting? Are the characters well chosen? Does the plot make sense? Is there a compelling theme? The middle level considers each scene: does some character change in some vital way from the beginning to the end of the scene? What is the emotional turn? How is tension ratcheted up or released? At the root level there are the individual paragraphs: is the language suited to the story? If alliteration or other clever manipulations of words are used, are they well-used? Sentence fragments? If so, appropriately used? A masterpiece is going to excel at all three levels. When I’m critiquing, I have to pay some attention to all three levels of storytelling, just as I have to when I’m writing.
“Second, critiquing is a give-and-take economy. If I don’t care enough to do a good job reviewing someone else’s story, why would they put themselves out to critique mine? Plus, I just don’t want to half-ass it; the world needs more good fiction.
“And last, giving critiques is a way of paying it forward. Writers like Joe Lansdale and Ardath Mayhar corresponded with me when I was a beginning writer, giving me useful advice. I’ve been going to science fiction conventions for decades where I can talk to great authors or attend informative panel discussions. When I critique at a con or when I appear on panels, it’s to help the next generation of writers.”
“He [Manny Frishberg] and I are in the same writing group, Sound on Paper. We meet once a month to critique stories each of us has written in the meantime, be they novels or flash, or whatever—even nonfiction occasionally. A few years ago Manny and I started getting together once a week to write stories. In three years we wrote sixteen stories, and sold half of them. That includes two sales to Analog, the biggest magazine in the field.”
“Tenéré” by Manny Frishberg and Edd Vick, Analog May/Jun 2017, cover design by Victoria Green
“Ashfall” by Manny Frishberg and Edd Vick, Analog Jul/Aug 2015, cover by Tomislav Tikulin
“In 2007, one of my Clarion mates, Rudi Dornemann, started a website to publish a new flash fiction story every weekday by a rotating set of authors. I think there were seven or eight of us to start; we added a few others in the following years. I wrote ninety stories for The Daily Cabal, some better than others, but it was a useful exercise in hitting deadlines because if I didn’t get a story in on time, we were in trouble. Well, practically speaking there would be somebody else’s story in the queue, but I’m happy it never came to that.
The Cabal never got enough traffic, so it died after a few years, but there were some damn good stories in it.