Comic Review: Buffy The Vampire Slayer #3

Buffy The Vampire Slayer #3

BOOM! Studios

Writer: Jordie Bellaire

Artists: Dan Mora & Raúl Angulo

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #3

For anyone who came to young-adulthood in the mid and late 90s, a reimagining of Sunnydale is a welcome sight. That the story takes place in 2019, rather than the mid-90s changes such a character-driven story considerably. While Buffy, Willow, Xander, et al. are, by and large, the same as they were in the 90s, writer, Jordie Bellaire, goes to great lengths to consider how our society has changed in the years since Buffy first aired on the small screen.

Buffy kills monsters. That’s what she does. So when a giant bat creates terrorizes Sunnydale, the expectation from readers is clear.  However, Camazotz (yeah, the giant bat has a name) is introduced as Buffy’s “Pegasus.” I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited for Buffy to have a giant bat companion to fly around on.

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Shana’s Father Wins a Monkey by Jack Pendarvis, Brevity, issue 57, Jan 2018

Shana’s Father Wins a Monkey by Jack Pendarvis is a micro nonfiction piece told in a colloquial style. It reads as if someone is talking to you, and the actions of the speaker are added here and there in brackets [sniff], [chair creaking], etc. The outcome is an immersive experience, which seems a little country intuitive since the actions of the narrator are literally outside the framework of the piece, due to said brackets.

The story itself is about a man, he’s unnamed, but he’s Shana’s father–or that is–Shana’s father to be, as the piece takes place before Shana is born. Anyway, when Shana’s father goes to a movie theater there is a competition to win a live monkey. Like a real monkey. All you have to do is write down a name for the monkey on a piece of paper and the owner of the theater and the monkey, both, will pick the winner. The winner gets the monkey. Like, as a pet. That’s messed up. Anyway, you can imagine what happened. Shana’s father won the monkey.

This piece is a perfect example of how nonfiction doesn’t have to make sense of anything. Shana’s father winning the monkey doesn’t really have a moral. Or at least, the Pendarvis doesn’t really specify what that moral is–even though he addresses the fact that in literature, be it fiction or nonfiction, a moral is typically expected. But in this story, there isn’t really a more, just the idea of an author trying to reach for a moral. It’s clever and something that would never fly in fiction. I like it. I should read more things from Brevity. (B)

S-Town and Brian Reed: in Olympia, Tonight

Tonight I have the special privilege of seeing one Brian Reed give a lecture. If you don’t know who Brian Reed is, he is the writer and co-creator of the podcast S-Town, which was produced by the public radio show, This American Life.

Brian Reed started researching and writing S-Town when a man named John B. McLemore contacted him about an alleged murder in a small Alabama town. What followed was a startling series of events that covered everything from horology and clock making and fixing, to buried treasure and a tragic suicide. It’s one of the most interesting stories I’ve ever heard or read and the production and writing of which is among the best.

The lecture tonight, in Olympia Washington, will focus on the hybrid storytelling Reed undertook as the story developed and as he learned more and more about S-Town itself.

I’m curious if he’ll mention the line between fact and fiction, an ever-blurring line these days, as it’s something I think is both relevant and important. With the proliferation of autobiographical novels, creative nonfiction essays and, dare I say, a political system that promotes cherry picked stats that information and legitimize only a portion of the truth, I’m curious if he will tackle the difficult question every artist/writer must ask themselves–what is more important, the factual truth or the emotional truth?