Monday, December 31, 2012

Five-Star Fiction Just 99 Cents!

My ebook of short stories, Filtered Future and Other Dark Tales of Science Fiction and Horror, is now just 99 cents. You can download it to your smart phone, iPod Touch, iPad, computer, or other electronic device via Amazon Kindle's free app (you don't have to have an actual Kindle device to download and read the book).

Here's the latest Amazon review of the book:

This collection of tales is a diverse, rich treasure trove for fans of dark fiction. Whether your taste is for sci-fi, fantasy, or horror, Weiss has something here for you. He engages each of these areas with originality and a marked intellectual approach.

Fans of all three genres will devour this volume with sheer delight. And these stories are far above mere escapist mind candy--Weiss explores philosophical and existential themes without his material coming across as contrived or pretentious. These tales have something substantive to say and do more than just entertain--they also provoke thoughtful reflection.

Stylistically, Weiss combines elements reminiscent of Poe, Lovecraft, Bradbury, Asimov, and Shelley--names I don't drop lightly. With memorable characters, authentic dialogue, optimal pacing, and plot twists that surprise while avoiding the deus ex machina pitfall, this collection of short stories is well worth your time. Highly recommended.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Twin Galaxies' Texas Trading Card Premiere

Pinballz Arcade in Austin, Texas is hosting a national video game event January 19th. For anyone interested in the history of gaming and contemporary video game culture, and for those who simply want to have fun while immersed in video games and pinball machines, it's an event not to be missed.
It is called the Texas Trading Card Premiere, and its purpose is to recognize various Texans and their contributions to video game culture. Walter Day, star of The King of Kong and Chasing Ghosts, is emceeing, and this is his last official trading card event, thus announcing his retirement from Twin Galaxies.
Honorees who will be presented with their very own Twin Galaxies trading card at the event include: Ben Gold, who won the “That’s Incredible” video game championship in 1983; Thor Aackerlund, the winner of the 1990 Nintendo World Championships; Mike Begum, who overcame disabilities to compete at the highest level; Josh Jones, Patrick Scott Patterson, and Billy Joe Cain, activists for and contributors to the “global video game culture,” along with various others with Texas ties. More than 30 new cards will be issued. I'm proud to be among the honorees.
In addition to the awards ceremony, there will be cosplay competition (dress as your favorite video game character), a 10-minute score challenge (highest score on 3 separate machines in 10 mins), doorprizes, raffles (including a multigame arcade cabinet), and, of course, lots and lots of gaming on more than 250 arcade cabs and pinball machines. Proceeds from this event benefit the American Cancer Society.
Pinballz Arcade
8940 Research Blvd., Suite 100
Austin, TX 78758
512-420-TILT (8458)
Date: January 19th.
Time: 12-6 PM.

Admission price: $10, which includes a raffle ticket for prizes to be announced, ranging from Pinballz tokens to much more valuable stuff! (Rachel is not among the prizes ;)).

Friday, December 7, 2012

Betty the Vampire Slayer!

I don't have as much time for the Comics Buyer's Guide as I used to, but I do have a review in the new issue, #1698. Here it is, reprinted:

Betty and Veronica #261
Archie Comics
$2.99, color, 32 pgs.
Writer: Dan Parent
Artist: Dan Parent
Grade: 4 Stars (Out of 4)

Everyone wants to live in Riverdale. It’s accepting, friendly, old fashioned, and fun. Not only that, it’s near the beach. Sunnydale, on the other hand, is a dark, scary place with a high death toll and more vampires than a Terence Fisher film. With Betty and Veronica #261, the two worlds collide.

The result is an extremely entertaining story set in the Archie universe, but with Buffy the Vampire Slayer overtones. The gang is enjoying a typically idyllic Riverdale scenario: a weenie roast on the beach. However, their revelry is interrupted by a quartet of mysterious night surfers, followed by a trio of creatures of the night.

As usual, Dan Parent, who is the face of Archie Comics these days, delivers the goods. Veronica is great as a Hammer-type femme fatale while Betty shines as the reluctant vampire slayer. The cover gives away the final page, but that’s okay: it’s a doozy of an ending that will slay fans of the old Warren magazines.

Best of all, the story is continued in the next issue.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Lou Ferrigno and The Incredible Hulk

Lou Ferrigno and The Incredible Hulk

With the box office success of The Avengers ($1,511,757,910), along with huge DVD sales, lots of attention is being paid these days to such classic Marvel heroes as Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and The Incredible Hulk, the latter of whom was played in the film with gusto and good humor by Mark Ruffalo.

Decades before Ruffalo donned the green greasepaint for the silver screen (actually, he wore a green motion-capture suit), bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno played the not-so-jolly green giant on television in the popular The Incredible Hulk series, which ran on CBS from 1978 through 1982 for a total of 82 episodes.

In addition, there was a two-hour pilot on CBS in 1977, chronicling Hulk’s origin story (which differs considerably from the comics), plus three made-for-TV films: The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988), The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989), and The Death of the Incredible Hulk (1990), each of which aired on NBC.

Prior to The Incredible Hulk, Ferrigno starred with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the docudrama Pumping Iron (1977), which follows Schwarzenegger as he defends his Mr. Olympia title against Ferrigno and a French body builder named Serge Nubret. During the 1980s, Ferrigno appeared in such B-movie turkeys as Hercules (1983) and Sinbad of the Seven Seas (1989), but the Hulk is easily his most important role.

As fans of the series well know, Bill Bixby played Dr. David Banner (Bruce Banner in the comics), Hulk’s alter-ego. Thanks to a gamma radiation experiment gone awry, when Banner would get upset (“You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry”), he would lose control and turn into a green-eyed, green-haired, green-skinned Lou Ferr…ahem, Incredible Hulk.

While The Incredible Hulk made Ferrigno an international star, Bixby was already famous for his roles on two popular shows: My Favorite Martian (1963-1966) and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (1969-1972).
Chris Latshaw, who runs North Texas Comic Book Shows, a quarterly mini-con in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, has fond memories of watching The Incredible Hulk when it originally aired and appreciates the acting chops of both Bixby and Ferrigno.

“I was a Bill Bixby fan from his previous work and followed him to the new endeavor,” Latshaw recalled. “I was 17 or 18 when the show hit the airwaves, and it was different than its [spiritual] predecessor, The Six Million Dollar Man. There was something about the anger in Hulk that appealed to me at that stage in my teen, testosterone-driven life. I liked TV shows and movies that presented larger-than-life characters like Conan and the Hulk.”

Viewed today, The Incredible Hulk is still a fun program, but Latshaw acknowledges that certain aspects of it haven’t held up particularly well, at least for younger audiences. “It’s a throwback to less sophisticated special effects, plot lines, and violence, so I imagine today's youth would find it campy,” he said.  “However, the Hulk has survived and flourished as evidenced by merchandising and sales of collectible items. While the show may no longer hold the same appeal for the masses, the character still does.”

The Hulk was originally created for Marvel Comics by writer Stan “The Man” Lee and artist Jack “King” Kirby in The Incredible Hulk, which was published for six issues from 1962-1963. Influenced by Boris Karloff’s sympathetic portrayal of the monster in Frankenstein (1931), and by Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), the Hulk was a work in progress at this early stage as he was gray (at least in the first issue) and only hulked out at night.

According to the 2012 Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide (Gemstone Publishing), a near mint (9.2) copy of The Incredible Hulk #1 is worth a whopping $90,000 (first appearances of key characters are of HUGE importance to comic book collectors), with subsequent issues priced considerably lower: #2, $8,500; #3, $5,500; #4, $4,500; #5, $4,500, #6, $4,800.

Shortly after the cancellation of The Incredible Hulk comic book series, the character appeared in Fantastic Four #12 ($2,700), in which he battled the Thing, and then in Avengers #s 1 ($4,200), 2 ($935), 3 ($750), and 5 ($350). After a couple more Fantastic Four appearances and an appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #14 ($2,050), Hulk became a lead player in Tales to Astonish beginning with issue #60 ($175). Tales to Astonish ended in 1968 with #101 ($85), but later the same year Marvel continued the numbering with The Incredible Hulk #102 ($150), and that series ran until 1999 with issue #474 ($2.00).

Hundreds of Hulk comics have been published since then, and the character, who has gone from a raging brute to a rational creature with Banner’s intellect and back again, remains a Marvel staple. Latshaw owns comics from the recent World World Hulk series back to the “older stuff from the 1980s,” but his favorite Hulk item is a set of Smash Hands (now worth more than $100 new in the box) that he originally bought as a gift.

“You may remember these as they were mass marketed,” Latshaw said. “The hands are oversized and make sounds when you hit them against something. I bought them as a Christmas present for my son, but I may have had a secret desire to own them myself as I thought they were pretty cool.”

Judging by the next installment of Lathshaw’s North Texas ComicBook Shows, he thinks Lou Ferrigno is pretty cool as well. Ferrigno is going to be the featured guest at the event, meeting and greeting fans, posing for pictures, and signing autographs.

“Lou Ferrigno is an international star,” Latshaw said. “We’re honored to have him as our special guest.”

Even if you aren’t into the Hulk or Lou Ferrigno, you may want to plan on attending the show, which takes place January 5th and 6th at The Double Tree Hotel on Market Center Boulevard in Dallas. In addition to the Ferrigno autographing, there will be thousands of old and new comic books for sale, along with such related items as paperback books, model kits, action figures, and trading cards.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Filtered Future Reviewed

 Joe Crowe with Revolution Science Fiction reviewed Filtered Future, my book of short stories, on his website. With his permission, I've reprinted the review here:

You go into an anthology expecting not all the stories to be good. It's true. It's not as big a deal if there are a smattering of writers. You can write off one or two writers and still consider it a good book.

But when it's all one guy, he's got to handle the whole load all by himself. It's all him in front of the classroom, with no help. He can't hide behind the other kids.

Brett Weiss tries that in in Filtered Future. It's all him. And it turns out pretty good.

"Washed in the Blood" has a stunning ending. "Wormboy" is about a guy with an awesomely gross superpower. "The Creation Proclamation" is a Galactus-level cosmic story.

All of them are differently fun. Rarely is an anthology, in total, a really pleasant experience. Maybe I'm not reading the right ones. But this one combines pop-culture knowledge and ownership of sci-fi and horror workmanship.
Reviewed by Joe Crowe, © 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Video Game Gift Guide

My Video Game Gift Guide is in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. You can check out the online version here: VIDEO GAME GIFT GUIDE

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Nintendo Wii U

 My review of the Nintendo Wii U will be in Saturday's Fort Worth Star-Telegram. You can read the online version HERE.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Too Much Horror Business by Kirk Hammett

My article on Metallica lead guitarist and monster collector Kirk Hammett appeared in the Halloween issue of AntiqueWeek. You can read it here:


Often wielding a guitar decorated by a painting of Boris Karloff as the Mummy, Kirk Hammett plays lead for Metallica, the famous heavy metal band responsible for such ear-shattering tunes as “Kill 'Em All” (from the band’s 1983 debut album), “Master of Puppets” (1986), and “Enter Sandman” (1991). In 2009, Metallica, which has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Many fans undoubtedly assume that Hammett’s Mummy guitar is simply a macabre affectation, a cool and eccentric nod to the quirky lifestyle of the prototypical guitar god. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hammett is a hardcore creature collector and an avowed horror movie buff, amassing an amazing array of monster memorabilia that is one of the best collections of its type in the world.

Hammett’s terrifying treasure trove is the subject of a new book, Too Much Horror Business: The Kirk Hammett Collection (Abrams Image), which features more than 300 photos of Kirk’s collection. Hammett doesn’t offer pricing, but the legendary guitarist does complement each photo (or at least each page) with commentary, such as the impression a particular film had on him as a child or what he thinks of the artwork on a particular poster or model kit box.

Posters are in fact a huge chunk of Hammett’s collection (as is original art by the likes of Frank Frazetta and Famous Monsters artist Basil Gogos), which dates back to the 1920s. He owns a Spanish Nosferatu (1922) one-sheet, Metropolis (1927) lobby cards, a French Frankenstein (1931) double-panel, a King Kong (1933) six-sheet, a Son of Dracula (1943) half sheet, and far, far too many others to mention.

Also impressive are Hammett’s vast array of authentic film props, such as Bela Lugosi’s vest and jacket from White Zombie (1932), Boris Karloff’s outfit from The Black Cat (1934), a Bud Westmore test makeup bust from The Wolfman (1941), a Martian suit from Invaders from Mars (1953), and an alien’s weapon from Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957).

Hammett grew up in San Francisco during the 1960s, a child of hippie parents, watching horror and science fiction movies from a very early age. “When I was five years old I got into a fight with my younger sister and managed to sprain my arm,” he recalled. “My parents then said that I couldn’t go outside and play…they sat me in front of the television, and I soon found myself watching Day of the Triffids [1962], which is about gigantic man-eating plants.”

Day of the Triffids did indeed terrify young Hammett, but it attracted him as well. He even tried to draw the titular creatures, which he loved to fear. “I was obviously as fascinated as I was scared by them,” he said. “I realized that Day of the Triffids was a different kind of movie. It gave me another sense, another feeling. And I enjoyed this ‘other feeling’ very, very much.”

Monster toys entered Hammett’s life shortly thereafter. “I remember very, very vividly seeing my brother bring home an Aurora monster model of Frankenstein soon after I’d seen Day of the Triffids,” he said. “I didn’t know exactly what it was, but I was aware that it was a monster movie because I had seen pictures or stills somewhere. It made an enormous impression on me.”

This “enormous impression” informs Hammett’s collection tremendously. He has some of the rarest, most sought-after monster toys from the 1960s and ’70s, including Universal Monster “soakies” (figures filled with bubble bath), porcelain figures, candy boxes (from Phoenix Candy), paint-by-number kits (from Hasbro), board games (from Hasbro), model kits (from Aurora), wallets, wall plaques, action figures (from AHI), and jigsaw puzzles.    

Like many “monster kids” of the era, Hammett spent money that was intended for food on comic books and such monster magazines Creepy, Eerie, and Famous Monsters of Filmland. “My parents started to give me milk money, twenty-five cents a day, which was enough to get some milk and a donut,” he said. “I found out that saving that quarter a day gave me access to a world I wanted to know intimately.”

Hammett’s attraction for horror and science fiction, which is just as strong now as it was when he was a kid, goes beyond mere entertainment (though that’s certainly a large part of it). Universal’s original Frankenstein in particular strikes a personal chord, especially since Hammett’s relationship to his alcoholic, drug-taking father was less than ideal.

“There’s a lot of melancholy in Frankenstein,” Hammett said. “He’s the ultimate outsider who’s also misunderstood. And the ironic thing about it is that throughout the course of the movie, the monster’s trying to connect with his creator. He’s looking for a father figure. Perhaps I always deep down recognized it as something of a mirror for my world.”