6:00 am in Tokyo

I’m spending most of my waking hours, and the ones during which time I should be sleeping, waylaid by Japan’s lovely August humidity – and also on novel #3 – Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? The current pitch is this:

Heropa: a vast, homogenized city patrolled by superheroes and populated by the adoring masses. A perfect place a lifetime away from the rain-drenched, dystopic metropolis of Melbourne. So, who is killing the great capes of Heropa?

Yep, as you can figure out, the Capes are superheroes. Kind of. It’s set in the future Melbourne dystopia of Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat (without being a sequel) where the only escapism is a computer game wherein people play out the role of superhero/villain. All fun and games until someone starts knocking off these superheroes… hence the mystery.

Thing is I’m just past the half-way mark of writing the thing, so I’m sure there’ll be more twists and turns to come that I have no idea about at this stage. I just today changed my mind regarding tone – I had a dramatic segment set for the finale, which worked (I thought) as author, but detracted from the over all tone of the project. The simple fun of the comic. While it’s shaping up as a wink, aesthetically speaking, to the Golden Age of comics in the 1930s/’40s (one of my favourite periods for the noir, pulp, movies and cars) this is definitely more of an homage to the classic 1960s work of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby at Marvel – and still gets to poke fun at the auspices of the Comics Code Authority.

I’m also looking at the ways in which artwork can compliment this story.

Anyway, enough rambling here. I need to get stuck back into the manuscript, if I can only ignore the fiendish cicada outside the window that sounds like a malfunctioning dentist’s drill.

Anyone who knows me (or my wayward writing) would be vaguely aware that I dig my noir. So I’m kind of kicking myself I can’t head off to NoirCon 2012, which’ll be taking place in Philadelphia from November 8th-11th with such special guests Lawrence Block, Otto Penzler, Robert Olen Butler and Charles Benoit.

I’ve decided to contribute something to NoirCon’s charity event which benefits Project H.O.M.E, dedicated to helping the homeless. Basically whoever donates $100 to the charity can name and describe a supporting character in the novel The Mercury Drinkers – man/woman, personality (disorders), idiosyncrasies, dress-sense, you name it. Anything goes.

The Mercury Drinkers is shaping up to be a mystery/crime/procedural in the vein of Chandler/Hammett, obviously placed in an “alien” landscape as far as possible from 1930s/’40s San Francisco or Los Angeles. Having lived in Tokyo since 2001, I (hope) I have a fairly good grasp of the place and its people – although the narrator is an Australian journalist, who stumbles across the controversy (and resultant cover-up) that relates to the industrial mercury poisoning of a Japanese fishing village in the 1950s and ’60s. This, in itself, is based on the events that happened in Minamata in Japan, though of course from a fictionalized standpoint in the novel – which will be a dialogue-based noir/hardboiled story, complete with yakuza, geisha, guns, and the influences of directors like Akira Kurosawa, Seijun Suzuki, and Shunya Itō.

Ta to Stefan @ Forces Of Geek for supporting this as well.

Speaking of Forces Of Geek, I have a monthly column there and just wrote something about Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (1999), one of the most underrated anime offerings of all time.

Kiddie stuff this most certainly is not.

With big gun anime production houses Production I.G and Bandai Visual working together here (along with one Mamoru Oshii of Ghost in the Shell fame) there was never any real doubt about the grown-up nature of this material or the quality of the animation.

Add to the military hardware and action a tall, dark, silent-type protagonist, a mysterious, unlikely femme fatale who’s a member of a terrorist organization, government-condoned death squads, post-modern German World War 2 helmets, gasmasks, full-on body armour, and – hidden amidst all this – some overt references to the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale.

You’ll find gallons of action, philosophical undertones, and sizable armaments involved – set alight with manic abandon. You can find out more about this rather spiffing feature movie here.

Meanwhile, the very cool K.A. Laity is right now putting together an anthology called Weird Noir. I’m working on my submission, but she says she’s open to others.

The perimetres? “On the gritty backstreets of a crumbling city, tough dames and dangerous men trade barbs, witticisms and a few gunshots. But there’s a new twist where urban decay meets the eldritch borders of another world: WEIRD NOIR, featuring thugs who sprout claws and fangs, gangsters with tentacles and the occasional succubus siren. The ambience is pure noir but the characters aren’t just your average molls and mugs — the vamps might just be vamps. It’s Patricia Highsmith meets Shirley Jackson or Dashiell Hammett filtered through H. P. Lovecraft. Mad, bad and truly dangerous to know, but irresistible all the same.”

Writers already confirmed for the collection include Richard Godwin, Joyce Chng, Paul D. Brazill and Jason Michel. Find out more.

Just a reminder too that we haven’t forgotten about our own noir/apocalyptic anthology The Tobacco-Stained Sky, which will be released in collusion with Another Sky Press in 2013. It’s currently in the editing phase, but I’ve stuck online some snippets of the comic art that will appear therein – you can check ’em out here.

Lastly, if you haven’t discovered this gold doubloon of a web-comic yet, you should – hilarious and suave superhero stuff by Denver Brubaker: Tales of a Checkered Man.

Now, back to that book thing.

One response to “6:00 am in Tokyo

  1. Pingback: September Round-Up « AndrezBergen·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s