Escapist Canceled; Mini-Series Forthcoming

Dark Horse has pulled the plug on Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, making November’s issue #8 the last in the series, the anthology’s main artist revealed today.

Steve Rolston, in a LiveJournal posting and an e-mail to his fans, announced the series would be relaunched “in a series of more affordable packages,” including a six-issue mini-series, The Escapists, due in stores in July.

“While this does mean you’ll have to wait until the summer, it also means you won’t have to wait as long between issues and the price tag will be much more affordable for those who weren’t keen on the anthology format,” Rolston said.

Rolston’s announcement indicates The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist #9, due in stores this Wednesday, will not hit shelves after all. No word on what will happen to the stories completed for that book.

Brian K. Vaughan, writer for The Escapists, said in a forum posting that the decision was made “because Dark Horse felt that our story deserved a wider audience, and Mr. Chabon agreed that a relaunched monthly series (with a significantly more affordable cover price) would help us reach exactly that.”

“It’s a drag that people will have to wait a few more months to see Steve Rolston and Jason Alexander’s stuff, but I honestly think this might be the best book I’ve ever been a part of, so I’m grateful that DH is working hard to get it into many more hands,” Vaughan said.

Michael Chabon, in an e-mail, said he was “just glad and grateful to Dark Horse that they’re sticking with it at all and impressed that they’re planning to honor all their outstanding commitments to the writers and artists who had already been hired to do work for the quarterly.”

He added he was happy more readers would get to see Vaughan’s story line, saying “it’s just such great stuff.”

Rolston indicated the first two issues of The Escapists would feature the first part of the story arc already seen in the current anthology. Issue #1 will feature Philip Bond’s art, and issue #2, due in August, will feature Rolston.

Chabon had indicated almost a month ago that changes were in the works, but had said at the time they would probably be “nothing as drastic as outright cancellation.” The Escapist had suffered poor sales since its inception, selling only 4,594 copies of issue #8, less than half of its first issue in February 2004.

Waldman: JT LeRoy Conned Me

Ayelet Waldman reacted publicly for the first time today about the recent JT LeRoy revelations, saying she was conned.

Waldman, in a Salon article, says she had talked on the phone on several occasions with a man claiming to be LeRoy. While she suspected for a time it was a hoax, Waldman says she was still suckered in.

“There was something strangely seductive about that breathy voice on the phone,” Waldman writes. “He was fun to talk to; the sheer magnitude of his self-absorption was entertaining. And there was the whole celebrity thing. He was like a breathing version of Us Magazine. He’d just hung up with Julianne Moore, Courtney Love was telling him a story, Gus Van Sant was giving him a hard time about his script.”

The New York Times published new evidence Monday that San Francisco author LeRoy is a 40-year-old, middle-class woman instead of a former male hooker.

LeRoy had first called Waldman’s home to speak with her husband, Michael Chabon, for an interview, but Waldman says Chabon didn’t like him.

“After their first interaction — an aborted interview of Michael by Leroy for the magazine Bomb back when JT was known as ‘Terminator’ — Michael refused to have anything to do with him,” Waldman says. “But I let myself be sucked in.”

Waldman says she eventually came to realize LeRoy was a fraud after he’d told her he’d had a speedy sex change operation where the doctors made it “no big deal just to take off the stump.”

“My first thought was, Jesus Christ, ouch. My second was, bullshit,” Waldman says. “Not even I was gullible enough to buy that.”

Waldman says she realized LeRoy probably only talked to her so he could be associated to Chabon, which would help boost his literary reputation. However, Waldman continued to talk to LeRoy on the phone because, whoever he was, he seemed to need help, Waldman says.

In the end, though, Waldman says she’s “not as troubled by this particular thing.”

“It probably did little harm, except to the egos of those of us who were fooled, and it probably did some good, if the books themselves found an audience among the very people JT was pretending to be,” she says.

Alan Board Digs Kavalier

Is it possible that deep within Alan Moore’s beard lies a copy of Kavalier & Clay?

Apparently. In Bill Baker’s Alan Moore Spells It Out, released last month and based on an interview in 2002, Moore is asked what books he is reading.

“I’ll have a new favorite every couple of days, if I’m lucky, and I’m always looking for new novelists to absorb,” he says. “I’ve been quite impressed with Glen Gould’s ‘Carter Beats the Devil,’ there’s a thumping good yarn. And, of course, Michael Chabon, with ‘The Adventures of Cavalier and Clay’ [sic], very good book.”

(Many thanks to Shane Hazen for the tid-bit.)

Holiday Break Wrap-Up

During the past three weeks, this site has been on an unannounced break while its operator took a much-needed vacation. Consequently, a lot of news did not get covered. Here’s just a few of the more juicy tid-bits:

Following a report on this site about a drop in sales for The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, Michael Chabon announced that “changes, as yet unspecified but probably nothing as drastic as outright cancellation, are in the works.””One cannot expect even the infinitely patient and forebearing people at Dark Horse Comics to carry this weak sister indefinitely, at least not without making some changes,” he said over at his site on Dec. 21.

The Vancouver Courier ran an article about Escapist artist Steve Rolston on Jan. 1 and asked him a little about his new gig.”I tend to be a little wary of comics about making comics,” Rolston told the paper, “but this one is done so well and it’s so brilliant that I love it. And the whole comic within a comic book thing, it’s more than that.”

Rolston also showed the paper images of Roth.

“He is my kind of character,” Rolston said. “He’s a guy who loves comics and he’s not the most social butterfly, so I think most comic book creators can relate.”

The New York Times published new evidence on Jan. 9 that could prove San Francisco author JT LeRoy, who is said to be friends with Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, is a 40-year-old, middle-class woman instead of a former male hooker.Neither Chabon or Waldman have publicly reacted yet. But Dave Eggers told the San Francisco Chronicle that if the report was correct, “then I was fooled by the JT LeRoy persona as much as anyone.”

“I actually edited a story, ‘Harold’s End,’ by LeRoy, and spent hours on the phone — with someone — going through a typical line-edit,” Eggers said.

The Sacramento Bee published a short interview with Waldman about her newest novel, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits.

Waldman’s newest Salon column hit the net this week. In it, she discusses her mother-in-law, aka Chabon’s mom.”My mother-in-law’s style is much more subtle than my own,” she writes. “Because of her natural reserve she would never have mentioned our rivalry, and it’s even possible that she didn’t feel it. Or at least wouldn’t acknowledge the feeling. But it was there, lurking under the surface of even our most positive of interactions.”