Category Archives: Books

In which Liz tells Frank about literature.

Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “Transmetropolitan”

Dear Frank,

transmetropolitanSo the first time I read Transmetropolitan, I was visiting Whitney, one of my oldest friends, in New Jersey. It was 2005, I was on a very random cross-country trip, and Whitney had a day job, and so spending the better part of 48 hours reading her trade paperbacks made sense.

Then, Transmetropolitan BROKE MY BRAIN.

By which I mean I loved it. Even though it BROKE MY BRAIN. And gave me nightmares. And did…

It did some other things, Frank. They mostly involve shouting. I shall explain.

Transmet, as it’s conventionally know, is writer Warren Ellis and artist Darick Robertson’s magnum opus for Vertigo Comics, a five year odyssey through an imagined future where genetics are easily manipulated, technology is something you swallow as pills, and we just call New York City “The City.”

If you read it in less than two days on a futon in New Jersey, it’s really intense. If you reread it in two weeks on an actual bed in Los Angeles… Actually still really intense. Read the rest of this entry


Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” Season 8

Dear Frank,

buffy the vampire slayerAs you’re a man who enjoys cross-platform approaches to narrative, I think you’ll appreciate this. Buffy Season 8 is different from other Buffy comics that have been released by Dark Horse over the years because of the words “Season 8” — unlike other comics, this is no stand-alone side adventure. This is what Joss Whedon and his team genuinely consider to be the continuation of the Buffy story, following that whole Buffy-shared-the-slayer-power-with-everyone-and-oh-yeah-Sunnydale-collapsed-into-the-earth thing you might remember from the TV show’s series finale.

And freed from budget constraints by the magic of sequential art, let’s just say that some imaginations get a massive fucking workout. Frank, every once in a while I am genuinely concerned that I will not be able to capture the batshit insanity of something I am telling you about. Today is one of those days.

By the way, when I say batshit insanity, I do mean that in a good way. Mostly.

What happens in it, Frank? Oh, my god, so much stuff. But I’ll try and keep things simple. Read the rest of this entry

John Tells Liz What Happened In “50 Shades of Grey” (Part 2)

Dear Frank,

When last we met, our friend, writer and filmmaker John Ross, was telling me what happened in the best-selling erotic not-technically-“Twilight”-fan-fiction-except-basically-still-“Twilight”-fan-fiction novel “50 Shades of Grey,” leaving us with this breathless cliffhanger:

Ana wakes up the next morning to find herself in Grey’s hotel suite in Portland where they did the photo shoot. Don’t worry, they didn’t do anything. As he explains over breakfast, he won’t touch her unless he has her “written consent to do so.” What does he mean by that?! Refrain. He assures her that all will be revealed later that night, at which point, I guess, he will finally touch her. But in the elevator, he can’t seem to contain himself and—pinning her arms above her with one hand and grabbing her hair with the other—proceeds to try to fit her whole head in his mouth. Afterwards, he promises to never do that again until the paperwork is signed. What paperwork?! What is this mysterious man’s mysterious secret?!

Now, we go further down the rabbit hole, as things intensify for not-Bella-and-Edward’s relationship, as does John Ross’s use of “Ghost Recon: Future Soldier” as a coping mechanism…


Dear Liz,

502bdd39acc01.imageI wish I could say that a lot of what you’re about to read was made up by me or embellished for comic effect. Such is the sadness of the Fifty Shades of Grey experience: reading it, knowing it is not a joke. Until the ending, that is, when another writer seems to suddenly take over, but we’ll get to that.

That night, Christian picks Ana up and flies her via helicopter to his penthouse apartment complex. After Ana signs a non-disclosure agreement (kinky!), she’s all ready for him to make love to her. But Christian needs to explain something to her first: he never makes love, he fucks…hard. Record scratch! Big reveal: Christian Grey is a dominant, and the only relationships he’s ever had were with women who agreed to be his submissives. This is the only kind of relationship he’s ever had, ever will have, and ever wants to have. And if Ana signs a contract, she can be his submissive too! Read the rest of this entry

John Tells Liz What Happened In “50 Shades of Grey” (Part 1)

Dear Frank,

Here’s the true story of how this came about — at an engagement party a few weeks ago, your friend and mine John Ross (a writer/filmmaker based in Los Angeles), mentioned that he was looking for a good excuse to read the best-selling erotic novel “50 Shades of Grey,” so he might learn what all the hype was about.

Because one of Liz Tells Frank’s proudest traditions is other people telling me about stuff, I immediately said to this nice Nebraska-born young man, “You should tell me about it so that I don’t have to tell Frank about it!” He proceeded to buy the book that night at his local grocery store (because apparently they are seriously selling “50 Shades of Grey” in grocery stores). And then, everything for John changed. For the better? Let’s find out….


Dear Liz,

502bdd39acc01.imageFifty Shades of Grey tells the story of Anastasia Steele, leader of a four-man Ghost Team call-signed “Hunter,” tasked with extracting an arms dealer named Christian Grey from a terrorist-controlled compound in Sucre, Bolivia. After using her remote surveillance drone to tag and execute the surrounding hostiles, Anastasia at last breaches the compound — taking out the last remaining guard with a silenced double-tap.

His body drops to the floor to reveal Christian Grey, bound and tied to a chair — her objective. She flushes. She can see the heat radiating from his toned physique through her thermal optic tac scope. Her breathing accelerates. Her optical camouflage deactivates and she starts to feel a pinch down there. Her subconscious is pinned down but her inner-goddess is providing cover fire—there’s just something about him that she can’t keep away from!

That is a pretty accurate snapshot of my psyche while reading Fifty Shades of Grey. I played a lot of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, because it was the only way I was going to get through the book—by taking frequent breaks to kill people. It was rough, Liz. There were moments when I wanted to take the book out to my driveway, run it over with my car, then light it on fire — for example when I would read an exchange like this:

Read the rest of this entry

Liz (And Jeff) Tell Frank What Happened In “Rising Stars”

Don’t forget, friends — “Liz Tells Frank What Happened In…: The Book” is now available on Amazon!

Dear Frank,

While you may not have ever read Rising Stars, there is no doubt in my mind that you have heard of it. That’s because I have been arguing about J. Michael Straczynski’s, um, unique take on the superhero mythos with our mutual friend Jeff since…

Jeff: Some drunken party in the mid-00’s.

Liz: Yes. At our friend Asa’s house, undoubtedly, because Asa had a bunch of comics and parties at his house often devolved into drinking and reading comics. The HOTTEST PARTIES.

Jeff: Our lives were basically GOSSIP GIRL.

Liz: Yes. Except we were all old enough to rent cars.

(Frank, Jeff insists on sitting in on this one. I’m sure that he’s able to approach this comic book from a highly respected creator with objective distance and clarity–)

Jeff: Straczynski’s a garbage pile. Read the rest of this entry

Liz Tells Frank What Happened In the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes Novels (Sorta)

Dear Frank,

If there’s anything that makes having a crush on a famous actor less futile and sad, it’s having a crush on a fictional character. And yet, since the age of 11, I have been crushing hard on Sherlock Holmes.

Honestly, I don’t understand people who don’t see the attraction, but they’re probably the same crowd who don’t think smart is sexy, and clearly they can all go to hell. Us right-thinking people over here will be appreciating the wide range of Holmesian film, television and literature available to us — and, when we’re in a particularly saucy mood, making jokes about how good the world’s greatest detective would be in bed. (My personal joke tends to involve some variation on “he’d have no trouble detecting my FILL IN THE BLANK HERE.”)

That said, my personal Top 5 Sherlock Holmes depictions are as follows: Read the rest of this entry

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