The Story Behind the Raven: Mysterious Galaxy Sets the Industry Standard
by Jeff Mariotte
Twenty years is a big chunk of most lives.
Twenty years ago, I was in a considerably different place in life. I had spent the previous decade working for the regional, independently-owned bookstore chain Books Inc., but they had recently consolidated their efforts into their Bay Area stores and closed the outlying stores, called Hunter’s Books, in southern California and Arizona. That included the store in La Jolla, CA that I had been managing.
I had sold a single short story, and written three novels that were - and will forever remain - unpublished.
Thanks to a connection made through the store, I had been offered the chance to write a trading card set for the Topps company. The cards were based on the comic book WildC.A.T.s, which was one of the original releases from a comic book publisher that was new at the time: Jim Lee’s Homage Studios (later to become known as WildStorm Productions). Writing the text for those cards led to more writing work, and eventually to a full-time job and a new career in publishing, and also to my first novel, which led to all the rest.
In the twenty years since then, I’ve had fifty-some books published, well over a hundred comic books and graphic novels, a couple of fistfuls of short stories, and other random goodies. I helped make WildStorm Productions an industry powerhouse that we sold to DC Comics, and I worked for DC for five years as a senior editor.
But the other thing going on twenty years ago was the creation of Mysterious Galaxy. When Hunter’s Books went away, it left a void in the San Diego bookselling community. There was a specialty mystery bookstore, but their focus was on “cozy” mysteries. Hunter’s was the place that sold science fiction, fantasy, horror, and hard-boiled mystery, and was the destination store for people who loved those genres and the authors who wrote them. And the mystery store that did exist was in its last days, anyway.
Recognizing that void, Maryelizabeth Hart (who I had met at the San Diego Comic-Con in 1990 and married during the con in ‘92) and our friend Terry Gilman and I put together a plan to open our own store, which would be called Mysterious Galaxy. We would sell all the aforementioned genres, have a staff that understood them and could talk about them to our customers, leverage the contacts we’d made as booksellers over the years with authors and publishers, and create the greatest genre bookstore San Diego had ever seen.
On Saturday, May 8, 1993, the store opened. Dozens of writer friends showed up to help us celebrate, and a huge crowd of local readers came and joined in the fun.
In the two decades since, the store has moved a few times, and we’ve opened a second location in Redondo Beach, CA. We’ve hosted hundreds of authors (thousands is probably more accurate, at this point), and put tens of thousands (or more) books into the hands of happy readers. We’ve exhibited every year at SDCC, and have been regulars at the L.A. Times Festival of Books, the Tucson Festival of Books, and other events, large and small, throughout southern California and Arizona.
Terry, Maryelizabeth and I spent most of a terrific week in New York City, where we were recognized by the Mystery Writers of America, at their annual Edgar Awards ceremony, with the prestigious Raven Award, which they give for “outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside of creative writing.” As Raven recipients, we join the likes of Edward Gorey, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Alfred Hitchcock, Eudora Welty, and many other notables. It’s an honor to be feted in this way by the MWA, and we had an amazing time in the big, beautiful city of New York, enjoying perfect weather, good friends, and busy, bustling sidewalks.
Much has changed over the last twenty years. Mysterious Galaxy has grown. My list of publishing credits has grown. Our kids (David wasn’t even born yet when Mysterious Galaxy opened, and Holly was only 7) have grown. In that time I’ve made deep, lasting friendships that have changed my life and continue to enrich it every day.
On Saturday, May 11, we celebrated the store’s 20th birthday with our annual all-day party. Thirty authors were in attendance, along with hundreds of fans. The Raven Award was admired, and can still be seen on the back counter of the San Diego location
A lot of water has passed under the proverbial bridge in the last twenty years. I thank everyone who’s bought my books, everyone who’s shopped at Mysterious Galaxy, every author who’s signed there (and if you’re an author who has signed there and bought my books there, triple props to you!).
Co-owner, author and bookseller Jeff Mariotte wears many hats, and blogs at http://jeff_mariotte.typepad.com/my_weblog/
Jeff’s website: http://jeffmariotte.com/
This weekend, LARB’s Naked Bookseller is very pleased to have 2013 Raven Award-winning staff from Mysterious Galaxy at the blog.
Learn more about the Naked Bookseller Program here.
Listen to my latest “Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman” podcast with Deadline’s ever-so-wise executive editor.
We talk about this week’s advertising upfronts, including the CBS victory lap and whether an auto-ad spending blitz will finance this year’s pricey programming; Daniel Loeb’s (and possibly Les Moonves’) plans for Sony; and National CineMedia’s whiz-bang new technologies to give exhibitors and studios more bang for their in-theater ad bucks.
Listen to all that auditory goodness right here: http://www.deadline.com/2013/05/deadline-big-media-with-david-lieberman-episode-35/
Google revamps search, maps, Google+; launches game and subscription music services today
By David Bloom
Google’s I/O developer conference featured a morning-long string of announcements of changes to most of the company’s major operations, including its search functions, Maps, the Google+ social media site and a new subscription music service, and a cross-platform game service
The most jaw-dropping tech showcased this morning transforms the basic Google search to a voice-only experience. A person activates the search engine by saying “Okay, Google” to a computer, tablet or smartphone and then asks a question. The search engine figures out what the person is asking, then responds by voice itself.
The service, which launched today, is somewhat similar to Apple’s Siri service on its iPhones, but importantly, will operate on many kinds of devices, including iPhones and iPads, as well as computers using the Google Chrome browser and cellphones and tablets running Google’s Android mobile operating system.
- Senior VP Vic Gundotra showed off a dramatically revamped Google+ social media service, led by a much more capable and accessible version of its most popular function, Hangouts.
Now, Hangouts will allow people in Apple-made devices as well as Android and Google Chrome browsers to share video, photos and text with each other all the time. Hangouts have become a popular way for some brands, including media-savvy types such as Conan O’Brien and musician Bruno Mars, to host live video interactions with fans and save them for later viewing on Google’s YouTube service.
Google+ also will now leverage Google’s data prowess to automatically tag video and photo posts on the site, then show related content from elsewhere on the web. For instance, a photo of a celebrity would be identified and linked to other photos of the celebrity, screening times for their newest film and more. Content creators will be able to block such related tags for a specific photo or video, or globally for their material.
Separately, the service will offer new photo tools for users that automatically pick the best shots, optimize and enhance them, even create panoramas, animated GIFs or motion graphics out of them.
- Google’s redesigned Maps function will add a new rating service for businesses, Zagat “badges” to highlight the best restaurants, and new traffic information, including incident alerts and “dynamic re-routing” that will suggest alternative directions. A new “explore” function will suggest nearby places to visit, shop, dine and more. The new capabilities will arrive “this summer.”
- The company also said it will launch a subscription music service, Google Play Music All Access today in the U.S. for $9.99 a month.
The new service will provide access to millions of tracks in 22 genres in addition to the user’s own music, executives said. One function will build a playlist of similar songs based on the song the user is playing. The user can then tweak the playlist by reordering it or deleting tracks.
The service will have a 30-day free trial and early adopters who sign on before June 30 will get it for $7.99 a month. The service will roll out to other countries “soon,” the executive said.
- Google also announced a new cross-platform gaming service through its Google Play store that could provide a significant new competitor for established videogaming consoles from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.
The service will provide many of the basic multiplayer services common to the videogame consoles, such as leader boards and opponent- and friend-finding functions. Importantly, however, the service will allow players to go against people using devices other just Android phones and Chrome netbooks, and will keep track of game progress and achievements across multiple devices.
This story is giving me a lot more reason to look forward to the James Turrell exhibition at LACMA (why does the Wsj not like to capitalize LACMA?) than anything the museum has sent me so far.
Gotta say, it looks pretty darned cool. Need to reserve my tickets.
My latest “Deadline Big Media, with David Lieberman” podcast is up on Deadline now.
Deadline Executive Editor David Lieberman and I look at out-of-whack CEO pay and what it can suggest about a company’s corporate culture; a Washington threat to the Pay TV oligopoly; YouTube’s launch of 30 subscription channels; and why Jeff Bewkes thinks blockbusters make sense financially.
You can catch the podcast here: http://www.deadline.com/2013/05/deadline-big-media-with-david-lieberman-episode-34/
My latest audio podcast “Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond” is here.
Pete, who is Deadline’s awards columnist, and I discuss the Motion Picture Academy’s big membership meeting; the likely Oscar impacts of its new rules on foreign films; the Tony Awards nomination snubs of big Hollywood names; and the week’s new movies, including Baz Luhrmann’s sleek new take on The Great Gatsby and Sarah Polley’s autobiographical documentaryStories We Tell.
Hear the whole thing here: http://www.deadline.com/2013/05/deadline-awards-watch-with-pete-hammond-episode-25/
Amusing name for a WiFi network, spotted on my list of available WiFi networks while at Digital Hollywood last week in the Marina.
So, yes, they’re out there, watching you. And you need a password to use their WiFi. Try “administrator.”
Urs Fischer wax chair burning at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Geffen facility.
Fischer’s wildly fun and over-the-top work is on lavish display at both MOCA facilities, though this piece is one of a comparative handful at the Geffen facility in Little Tokyo.
There, it’s sprinkled (and melting away) among thousands of raw clay sculptures done by 1,500 Angelenos over the course of several weeks before the exhibit opened. Some of them are quite good, quite large or quite a mess, or even some combination thereof, but together represent an overwhelming accompaniment to Fischer’s own work.
I strongly urge people into art, spectacle and entertainment to hit both MOCA facilities while Fischer’s work is on display and the parts of it intended to melt/burn/wear away are still there. It’s remarkable stuff and wonderfully crazy yet often displaying virtuoso craftsmanship.
Listen to our latest “Deadline Big Media” podcost. Deadline exec editor David Lieberman and I talk Q1 earnings-season results for many Big Media companies; a worrisome prediction for summer box office bombs just as “Iron Man 3” kicks off the summer movie season; the FCC’s new chairman; and DreamWorks Animation’s new tech toy.