Geeky Friday: Remembering Ray Bradbury, All Hail Steve Ditko, Neil Young and Other BookExpo Flotsam and Jetsom

Before starting, my friends, a moment of silence for the passing of Ray Bradbury.

I met Ray for the first time at BEA about 15 years or so ago. I saw in the program that he was on a panel and ran across town from the McCormack Center to the hotel where he was speaking. He was a big bear of a guy with the proverbial shock of white hair and a sweeter person you’ve never met. I introduced myself, and when he heard I was with the library press he lit up like Vegas. Bradbury was absolutely bonkers about libraries.

All authors profess their ardor for libraries, but they really more like libraries. Ray loved libraries. He proved it beyond a doubt four years ago when some idiot politico thought a good way for the cash-poor city of Long Beach, CA, to save a few fazools would be to close the library. Ray was outraged and wrote a lethal op-ed piece and campaigned to keep the facility running. The library stayed open. I saw him at ALA and BEA a few other times, and he was always friendly and gracious.

Almost all the obits I saw read “Science Fiction Author‚Ķ” and while clearly he was among the finest of that genre, he was so much more. I believe he wrote roughly 600 short stories and more than 20 novels, many of which have nothing to do with sci-fi. If you’ve never read his non sci-fi stuff, please treat yourself. Ray was a brilliant writer in any form, so you’ll be richly rewarded.

All Hail Ditko!
Just got word from IDW Publishing on a new book about Steve Ditko. If you’re not familiar with the name, Ditko was one of Marvel’s leading artists in the early 1960s when things were really starting to take off. He co-created Doctor Strange and Spider-Man‚ no small thing. Once Spidey really exploded, Ditko apparently got tired of Stan Lee taking all the credit for the character and quit. He resurfaced here and there and continued to work for the next 40 years but is like the J.D. Salinger of comics, refusing personal appearances and interviews (here’s a 2008 GF post about a Ditko biography).

This July, IDW is releasing The Creativity of Steve Ditko (ISBN 9781613772768, $39.99). Designed by the Eisner Award-winning Craig Yoe, the book sports essays by Paul Levitz, Mike Gold, Jack Harris, Mikal Banta, and Amber Stanton as well as unpublished art and a dozen never-before-seen photos. This sounds like must reading for any Ditko fan.

BookExpo Flotsam and Jetsom
I said last week that I’d post anything cool encountered at BookExpo America (BEA). Alas, there wasn’t anything too geekalicious besides the usual comics/GN publishers and a few Star Wars books that didn’t seem all that new, so I don’t have much to report. There were plenty of hot authors and celebs there hawking books. The highlight was Patti Smith’s interview with Neil Young.

After his experimentation with‚ ahem‚ chemistry for so many years I was wondering if Neil would be a complete burnout. Although he kinda seemed on ten-second delay, he was wonderful and the interview was just magic. Such a treat. He came out in a sarape and Patti was in her standard-issue black blazer. Neil looked pretty good considering he’s been off Sugar Mountain for about 45 years now. I blogged about it in more detail yesterday, so click through for some quotes and extra pix. Here are a few if you’re lazy


Neil has a new album forthcoming and his book, Waging Heavy Peace, debuts this fall. All the best, sir.

Jeff Kinney

Although B EA seemed very high energy, I didn’t catch a vibe over one big title, but it did my heart good to see so many people jazzed about books. (Tom Wolfe’s new novel is coming later this year, but Wolfe can go scratch because fall’s big book will be Diary of w Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel. Remember where you heard it first! Jeff Kinney was signing, and I think I have socks older than him.) The Javits Center was jammed and traffic seemed brisk the whole time. BEA draws an eclectic mix. A seasoned author with a string of best sellers can be signing at one booth while ten feet away someone has a book about making crafts from pet hair (I’m not kidding).

I spent Monday attending the Audio Publishers Association Conference, and had sitdowns with the audiobook people on Tuesday, so once that’s done I mostly rove around with my Nikon D90 (after having it around my neck for eight hours I think it means Deadweight 90 pounds) shooting pix and the breeze.

Genre rules, baby, and the steadiest crowds I saw were for Harlequin, which had an assembly-line system going. You started on one end and passed by every author seated at a crescent shaped table and collected a signed book until you were at the end. Very efficient! Masses were waiting for their books. The Mystery Writers of America had a straight table with the same system and also had a steady flow of bookheads lining up. Both also changed authors every hour or so to generate renewed interest. Quite smart.

Proving that cookbooks aren’t chop meat, THE biggest crowd was for Rachel Ray’s The Book of Burger. The line to get her signature looked like it stretched to South America and back. It was a bit much, you’d think she freakin’ invented burgers by the way people were grabbing the books. Half of them probably will end up on eBay. Here’s a whole album of pix.

Between APAC and BEA I’m pretty beat, so that’s it for this week. The reviews for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus seemed pretty decent, but let’s see if it can shoulder out Madagascar III as the box office winner.

See one, see ‘em both, but have a good weekend, all. Get your geek on!

Michael Rogers About Michael Rogers

Michael Rogers ( is Media Editor, Library Journal and Managing Editor of LJ Reviews.