Fandemonium by Rick Schindler
Skylord was reincarnated by Hollywood comic artist Ray Sirico as it was considered one of the best around during the '70s and '80s. It’s 1993 and Ray has nothing to show for his success, being nothing more than a hopeless drunk has-been, he has lost his long-suffering wife and to make matters worse, his publishers have decided the ultimate send off for Skylord - his death! Just as Ray thinks his life has been flushed down the toilet, he has new hope in Fandemonium, the nation's largest fantasy convention. He could seriously restart his career in comics, yet when he goes, he won't be alone as his old friends will be attending too; Tad Carlyle who runs his own company and was a former team mate, Harmony Storm, the actress who caused Ray's wife to leave him, a fanboy Fred D'Auria and a whole host of others who have motive enough to want to scupper Ray's chances of making it big again.
Skylord strikes a larger than life figure dressed in blue with golden wings, boots and belt. He is the sort of hero most dream of and he's not afraid of stepping head first into danger or saving damsels in distress. Schindler's novel consists of chapters on Ray and the other characters intermingled with news stories on Ray and Skylord, a message board, a profile on Harmony Storm that is hilarious to read, the Underhill Guide to Comic Book Prices, the Official Fandemonium '93 Program, memos, and an interview with Ray for Rockbeat magazine.
Schindler takes a satirical look at the comics industry with Ray, a man who has known better times, and much better people. His life had started well enough, but the rest of it after his brief success was filled with hi-jinks and a rollercoaster ride of sex, drugs and more comics!
L Whyte's cover is an excellent parody of a damsel rescuing hero is ideal as it is also a wraparound cover with geeks and fans queuing round the block to get into the convention. To be honest, I've never seen so much back cover blurb, and it's good to see as it gives readers what they need to know - a good idea of what the story is about, and how funny it will be. It is one of the most unusual novels I have read and seems to read like a series of journal updates, pieces of newspaper clippings and accounts of what Skylord as a comic hero is all about.
Wattle Publishing is an independent publishing company who publish romance, fantasy and everything in-between. Fandemonium by Rick Schindler is a great laugh at what it means to grow up in an uncertain world where jealousy can make the works out of those they might have once called friends. Schindler's book is a great one to cuddle up with as it's funny, honest and works well as a rock and roll - or comic parody.
Sandra Scholes, 8/10
When I got asked to read a book about a comic book writer and a comic book artist my first thought was “how can you make story from that?” Well, it turns out it’s possible but whether it worked or not is a different story.
Fandemonium is primarily about Ray Siroco, the writer for a superhero comic called Skylord who has been asked to write the final issue in which his beloved character dies. Meanwhile the supporting cast are busy preparing for the biggest convention of the year whereupon Skylord’s death will be announced.
Meanwhile Siroco’s supporting cast consists of Tad Carlyle, the artist he will be working with, Harmony Storm a porn star turned actress and Siroco’s bosses trying to figure out what to do with the failing comic book company that they now run.
To tell the truth, Siroco was not a particularly great character, I think mainly because I know a lot of people like him and I generally try to avoid that sort of person. In that respect Siroco was written very well but his main drives, and that of many others in the book, appears to be getting high or having sex. This was one of the turn offs of the book for me, while having sex in a book doesn’t bother me sometimes it seems unnecessary or is filler until the author can get to the next plot point. This is what it felt like to me.
Schindler also seems to like having large portions of the book with just dialogue which resulted in me having to flick back and forth quite a lot to try and figure out who was who from the speech. This was a rather disorientating device although I can understand why it was used however I think there were too many different story telling devices used in the book that it just became a rather confused jumble.
The story also jumped around considerably, darting from present day to flash backs and memories within the main prose of the book. In between chapters there were ‘interludes’ which consisted of magazine articles, interviews, scripts and even an actress’s bio from a database similar to IMDB. Some of this was rather repetitive and I often found myself wanting to skip large portions of the book. The first half dragged and it wasn’t until the final third of the book that things started to finally kick off as the convention finally begins.
So back to the original question, how can you make a story about a comic book writer and an artist? Well, you can’t really. I am quite familiar with the convention scene and have several friends in the comic book industry and while a few of the stories that were told about conventions were familiar to me I found it difficult to get absorbed into this particular story. While the story telling devices that were used were clever there was just too much of it to make the book feel like a seamless read. That combined with what felt like unnecessary sex scenes made the book more of a chore to read than a pleasure.
Having said that, the fact that I really didn’t like Siroco because he reminded me of so many people that I have known so I really have to respect the writer for that.
Anna Sheldrick, 4/10
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