Half a Prince is Better Than None

The biggest news this week is that you can't do anything without running into some kind of Harry Potter hoopla. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the topic of conversation all over the internet, stores are competing madly to see who can offer the book for the least (so far Kwik Save is leading the pack with a discount of 70% off the retail price, which begs the question of how many can they sell and still stay in business?) and Harry has even been in the courts as Raincoast Books LTD wins an injunction that bans premature purchasers of the book from discussing the plot. It reminds me of those old WWII posters that said Loose Lips Sink Ships. In this case loose lips might sink book sales.

What is the big mystery? There is a very strong rumor that one of the main characters is going to die and people have been trying to figure out who it is since that rumor flew around the internet. I've heard that it's not at all true, that it's sloppy journalism and, while there will be deaths at some point through the rest of the series, there won't be any in this book. I'm wondering just who the half blood prince is and what that means. All the mystery has resulted in strong presales with Amazon reporting 1.3 million sales alone. It's also sparking some talk that the book might cause the ultra-creepy Burton/Depp remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to do poorly at the box office. The idea is that so many kids will be at home reading that nobody will be in the movie theaters. It's an interesting notion but I have a feeling if Charlie flops it will be because Johnny Depp looks just a little too much like a certain former King of Pop.

Because the book goes on sale at the stroke of midnight July 16th, many stores are planning midnight parties with readings and other fun things. If you haven't picked your party yet you will want to take advantage of Scholastic's interactive find a party tool.

If you're having trouble making it through these last few hours and need some distraction, take a look at The Guardian's Death of Dumbledore contest. While nobody knows for sure who is going to die, the idea of the contest is to write the death of Professor Dumbledore in the style of another writer. I particularly liked HP Lovecraft, which starts out:

This pitiful testimony to my damnable, accursed insights are the last words I, Albus Dumbledore, shall set down; for after tonight I will be no more. He is coming for me, but shall find my chambers empty, I having cast myself onto the indifferent flagstones of the courtyard beneath my tower window.

In the style of Lemony Snicket, author of A Series of Unfortunate Events (by Emma Weaver, age 11) is also quite promising:

As we all know, Harry Potter was a very unfortunate boy, leading a life that kept on getting filled with more misery and woe. And as in all the unfortunate books I have the misfortune to write, no one else in this book is very fortunate either. My advice to you is put this book down now.

I'm only sad that I heard about the contest too late to enter because I have been itching to write something in the style of Lord of the Flies. Oh well, there is always next time.

San Diego's Comic Con is in full swing. This is the biggest event of its kind in North America and it's always a blast, filled with events, artists, writers, awards and loads of announcements. Comic Con is traditionally the place to break whatever exciting film news is coming up. The very first Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy teaser was shown at Comic Con. There will be some extremely interesting announcement this year, we just don't know what it is yet.

You know who is at Comic Con this year? Think stop motion animation, Sinbad and skeletons armed with swords, that's right, the incomparable Ray Harryhausen, of Clash of the Titans fame is a special guest. And on Saturday, you can sit in on a panel with Ray Harryhausen, Ray Bradbury and Forrest J. Ackerman. The ever amazing Jim Lee, currently working on a Frank Miller Batman and Robin series, is another special guest. Scott McCloud, writer of Understanding Comics, Reinventing Comics, and the upcoming Making Comics can be found at several events. Scott is a huge, valued presence in the online comics world and he's made that world a better place. There are many more guests but I can't leave you without mentioning a man who has worked long and hard in both comics and film, Kevin Smith, the man behind Silent Bob. Nominated for a Golden globe, his film Chasing Amy does a beautiful job blending the comic and film worlds. If you get the chance, don't miss seeing him. And Ray Harryhausen. If it comes down to a choice, see Ray; after all Ray is 85 and Kevin is not. It's important to learn from these legends while we still have the chance. Now go out and have some fun, it's summer, dang it.