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It is not a surprise that Knoxville would forget a great writer like Karl Wagner. I myself have had over 150 published works in Science Fiction, Fantasy and mainstream fiction. Yet, somehow in the mind of most Knoxvillians, when you mention Science Fiction or Fantasy it conjures up images of either comic books or satanic rituals.What is amazing though, is that one third of television movies in America are Science Fiction, fantasy or Horror. Karl and I both were a part of this phenomena before it became popular. I also knew Karl very well, and spent time talking with on the brutality of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Market, a market that pays very little and starves it's talent. As an artist, I have only my integrity to rely on and hope that in the future, my works will outlive me based on my own since of quality and that comes from many years of learning and technique.
I had to move away from Knoxville to gain a better understanding of the missing link in this town. And it seems strangely odd to me that being a University Town that Knoxville is not moving in leaps and bounds toward a more gifted art community. It can't. If you are young and fresh out of college the town holds promise, once you reach 40 your lack of charm, interest and viability, become cumbersome for a town always looking for the next fresh face. Move away to a town with people who are mostly your age. Knoxville likes young folk and football. Sure Knoxville has it's famous ones, all huddled about in their little fishbowl, strangely maintaining a youthfull appearance. But there is and was a reason for the really great ones to leave, they had to, otherwise they would die. On a brighter note, I will agree with John Mayer here in that, a true reverence for talent, no matter what age or background is in order here. That is what Knoxville lacks. James Agee who not only won a Pulitzer Prize Posthumous for his writing, but was a brilliant screen writer who revived Charlie Chaplin's career, is barely mentioned are recognized in Knoxville. There are a few markers for Agee, but no big streets like the ones reserved for Governors or sport stars. Agee also wrote the screenplays for The African Queen (1951) and The Night of the Hunter (1955).Guess what, james Agee left knoxville, never to return. Wonder why?
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