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Book Review: The Amazing Spider-Man: The Ultimate Newspaper Comics Collection Vol. 5, 1985-1986 by Stan Lee, Floro Dery, and Dan Barry

Stan Lee completely eschews supervillains for a two-year comic strip run of real-world issues.
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In its early years, the daily Spider-Man comic strip had typically followed a comfortable pattern of Spider-Man facing off against one classic supervillain after another, similar to his monthly comic book adventures. By the mid-‘80s, Stan Lee switched up his writing formula to inject a heavy dose of realism into the strip, with not one super-powered baddie appearing in the strip. His stories also played out over months rather than weeks, with only four primary story arcs appearing in the two years presented in this collection. Even more amazing, the most sensitive story subject of all got the longest runtime

Book Review: The Complete Steve Canyon, Volume 9: 1963-1964 by Milton Caniff

This two-year collection provides plenty of thrilling mid-20th century adventures.
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The Library of American Comics continues publishing the adventures of Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon with Volume 9, which presents the newspaper comic strips from December 31, 1962 to January 2, 1964, covering the 16th and 17th year of the strip's 41-year run. Air Force Colonel Steve Canyon continues to travel the globe conducting official and unofficial missions, and Caniff continues to deliver outstanding artwork. Library of American Comics associate editor Bruce Canwell wrote the essay "When Truth Strengthens Fiction," which provides annotations to the strips. The book opens in media res with a kerfuffle at Maumee University as actor Clipper

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 25: 1969-1970 by Chester Gould

While Dick Tracy and his team work four cases, the art by Gould and his assistants is top notch.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect The Complete Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, Volume 25 presents the dailies and Sunday strips from April 3, 1969 through to December 23, 1970. The book has an introductory essay by consulting editor Max Allan Collins, "Fate Is Strange," which provides commentary on the strips included, and concludes with contributing editor Jeff Kersten's "Bushed and Ugly," about Gould's political subtext and the business of Dick Tracy. As the book opens, readers meet cartoonist Vera Alldid, whose name is a groan-inducing pun based on his father's broken English. The

Book Review: First Man: The Annotated Screenplay by Josh Singer

An enjoyable read and an insightful one for those who want to learn about how to write screenplays.
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As stated in my review of First Man, “director Damien Chazelle along with his cast and crew do an amazing job presenting a portion of Armstrong's life that led to him becoming the first person to walk on the Moon.” Based on James R. Hansen's biography First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, the screenplay was written by Josh Singer, an Oscar winner for Spotlight. Titan Books presents an annotated version of the script from three weeks prior to picture lock, so there's a note that “there may be some discrepancies with the finished film.” In his Introduction, Singer

Book Review: Star Trek: New Visions Volume 8 by John Byrne

These are some of the best stories of the entire run.
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As stated in my previous reviews of this book series, John Byrne and IDW Publishing are presenting the lost missions of the Original Series Enterprise crew in the form of photonovels. That format uses photographs instead of drawings like the Star Trek Fotonovels of the late '70s. Byrne manipulates images of characters and backgrounds from the TV show combined with new material such as dialogue in word balloons, narration, and photos of actors playing new characters and bodies of old ones. Volume 8 collects issues #21-22 and New Visions Special: The Cage. "The Enemy of My Enemy" finds Captain James

Book Review: Superman: The Silver Age Sundays, Volume 1 (1959-1963)

Extremely entertaining and occasionally quite troubling, these stories are the groundwork for the Superman myth.
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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Maybe that’s a bit much, but it’s not a wholly inaccurate description of Superman: The Silver Age Sundays, Volume 1 (1959-1963), which depicts a version of Superman from a bygone era that is both classic and clumsy. This isn’t the Superman of the modern film era, blistering with smoldering looks and Kryptonian abs, but more of a square-jawed and barrel-chested father-figure type. And just like your actual human parents, the Superman we find in this elegant hardcover collection can both inspire love and trust and turn absolutely cringeworthy

Book Review: Hooked on Hollywood by Leonard Maltin

For those that have been hooked deeply by the Classic Hollywood era, it's an intriguing read.
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Leonard Maltin has made a career for himself out of his love of movies, starting as an unpaid freelance writer for fan zines at the age of 13, His latest book, Hooked on Hollywood, has the subtitle “Discoveries from a Lifetime of Film Fandom,” which sounds like it might be a memoir, and after reading Maltin's Introduction, that is certainly a book I would want to read by him. Instead, this is a archival collection of articles and interviews, some of which originally appeared in the magazine Film Fan Monthly and Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy newsletter. Maltin takes readers on

Best of 2018 Assorted Lists

In which Shawn ranks things that happened through 2018 and counts all the things in his life
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From 2005 through 2012, I pretty consistently wrote my Sunday Morning Tuneage blog. It continued inconsistently through 2013 before being abandoned. Each year was punctuated with a series of "Best of" lists. While the blog still remains retired, I'm revived it last year for a Best of 2017. The feedback was enough for me to compile it again this year. Here's the Return of the Jedi of my "Best of" trilogy. BEST OF THE REST 2018 BY THE NUMBERS 4,722,870 steps taken this year (2,290 miles) 365 Days walking over 5 miles in 2018 3 Days not walking over 5

Book Review: Star Wars: The Complete Classic Newspaper Comics, Vol. 3

The stories are enjoyable adventures with an arc that sees the Rebellion setting up on the ice planet Hoth where they are located when The Empire Strikes Back opens.
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IDW/The Library of American Comics' presentation of the Star Wars newspaper comics concludes with Volume 3, which presents nine stories written by Archie Goodwin and drawn by Al Williamson and others that ran from July 26, 1982 until March 11, 1984. Return of the Jedi had been released in May 1983, but none of the movie's events had any impact because these stories are set between Star Wars and The Empire Stikes Back. The book opens with “A Matter of Character,” an essay by Rich Handley about those who joined the ranks of the Expanded Universe, rebranded “Star Wars Legends”

Book Review: Ray Harryhausen: The Movie Posters by Richard Holliss

A trip through time, celebrating not only the work of a brilliant creator, but the history of cinema promotion.
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Words like “genius” or “literally” are tossed around a lot these days, to the point that they’ve lost most of their meaning and impact. Fans and critics are quick to label anyone with talent a genius and judging by comments on social media, the words “literally” and “figuratively” share the same definition. So while I’m a bit hesitant to use those words to describe a legend like Ray Harryhausen, I literally have no other options. And while I’m at it, I’ll throw in the term “one of a kind” as well, because he literally was - most of his work

Book Review: The Teenage Slasher Movie Book by J.A. Kerswell

A comprehensive, lavishly illustrated overview of the reviled, but ever popular, slasher-movie genre.
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Before the late '90s-early 2000s revival of horror as a mainstream money maker (thanks largely to Scream and the new slasher boom which followed), there were four big modern boogeymen of horror: Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, and, to a lesser extent, Leatherface. Sure, other monsters came and went, and had whole series playing out on direct to video, but those four guys all got theatrical releases. They had mainstream patina: hell, two of them got TV shows. It's one of the oddities of the horror genre that it's the villains, not the heroes, who make the series. Halloween is not

Book Review: Star Trek: New Visions Volume 7 by John Byrne

It's fun to see further adventures of the Original crew, particularly because Byrne understands the characters.
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As stated in my previous reviews of this book series, John Byrne and IDW Publishing are presenting the lost missions of the Original Series Enterprise crew in the form of photonovels. That format uses photographs instead of drawings like the Star Trek Fotonovels of the late '70s. Byrne manipulates images of characters and backgrounds from the TV show combined with new material such as dialogue in word balloons, narration, and photos of actors playing new characters and bodies of old ones. Volume 7 collects issues #18-20. During a routine resupply in the Polymax system in "What Pain It Is to

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 24: 1967-1969 by Chester Gould

Throughout Volume 24, Gould continues to deliver adventures filled with thrills, laughs, and action.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect The Complete Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, Volume 24 presents the dailies and Sunday strips from July 3, 1967 through to April 2, 1969. The book has an introductory essay by consulting editor Max Allan Collins, "Is All This Moon Stuff Worth It?" about the state of the strip at the time. It concludes with contributing editor Jeff Kersten's "Hard as Hell - Act Two" about Gould and provides interesting annotations. The book opens with Dick Tracy and Diet Smith hot on the trail of the bearded duo

Book Review: Star Trek: Lost Scenes by David Tilotta & Curt McAloney

A fascinating look at the series that is sure to be held in high esteem by fans.
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Starting with the Original Series, the Star Trek franchise has had a long involvement in the publishing world, including James Blish's adaptations of episodes, original novels published by Bantam Books and Pocket Books, and reference books such as Bjo Trimble's Star Trek Concordance and Joseph Schnaubelt Franz's Star Fleet Technical Manual. Star Trek: Lost Scenes by David Tilotta & Curt McAloney from Titan Books is a fascinating look at the series that is sure to be held in high esteem by fans. The authors explain in their Introduction that the book “is a photographic compendium of the discarded bonus material,”

Book Review: For Better or For Worse: The Complete Library, Volume Two (1982-1986) by Lynn Johnston

The characters and community continue to evolve along with the skill in which the story is told.
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In 1978, after publishing a handful of humorous parenting books, Lynn Johnston was asked by Universal Press Syndicate if she’d be interested in working on a daily comic strip. She signed a contract and the rest, as they so often say, is history. Thirty years later, Johnston retired from For Better or For Worse, leaving behind a rich tradition of exquisitely hilarious storytelling through sequential art. As the title of the strip suggests, For Better or For Worse dealt with a great deal of family joy as well as strife over the course of those three decades, all of it

Book Review: Star Hawks, Volume Three: 1979-1981 by Gil Kane and Archie Goodwin

The final chapter in this inventive science fiction strip faced a lot of changes.
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Star Hawks was a science fiction/fantasy daily newspaper comic strip that ran from 1977 to 1981. It tried to ride the coattails of movies like Star Wars and Star Trek, capturing their popularity and moving it to the daily papers. It was creatively drawn by Gil Kane and contained many a swashbuckling, alien-fighting, action-packed story. However, it always struggled to find an audience and once Star Wars and Star Trek moved into the daily papers themselves, it never stood a chance. Popular strips at this time were carried in hundreds of newspapers while Star Hawks could count the number of

Book Review: Walt Disney's Treasury of Classic Tales, Volume Three

It's wonderful to experience the strips as readers did over 50 years ago and see the artistry on display.
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As mentioned in reviews of the previous volumes in the series, Walt Disney's Treasury of Classic Tales was a Sunday strip that featured 129 stories, running from July 13, 1952 until February 15, 1987. The Library of American Comics is republishing them and the 14 stories in Volume Three, which are collected in a book for the first time, include adaptations of films, both live-action and animated. Written by Frank A. Reilly and drawn by Jesse March, except where noted, they are: Darby O'Gill and the Little People (May 3, 1959-August 30, 1959) Third Man on the Mountain (September 6,

Book Review: Alien: The Cold Forge by Alex White

A compelling alien tale that fits the established mold while keeping you guessing to the very end.
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How much you come away from a story loving or loathing a character is a testament to how well they are written or portrayed. In just about any Alien story that involves Weyland-Yutani corporate sleaze, the disdain felt for those people is usually stronger than we feel toward the aliens themselves. The horrific violence and dehumanization by the banana-headed, sci-fi monsters manages to consistently pale in comparison to what human beings do to one another in the interest of personal greed or glory. Such is the case in Alex White's Alien: The Cold Forge, a story set shortly after the

Book Review: Superman: The Golden Age Newspaper Dailies (1944-1947)

The latest volume of Superman dailies tackles the end of World War II and beyond.
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Superman’s adventures have been written about for 80 years now — a remarkable number for any character. He has been the subject of comic books, radio dramas, television shows, animated series, movies, and newspaper strips. The newspaper strips, which ran from 1939 to 1966 and saw the character witnessing an astonishing amount of social change in the United States, have become some of the rarest Superman collectibles. In an attempt to rectify this, DC Comics has partnered with the Library of American Comics and IDW to reprint these classic tales in lovingly assembled volumes, the latest of which is Superman:

Book Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Mirror Broken by Tipton, Tipton, Woodward, Kirchoff

This collection serves as a very good origin story, setting the stage for future adventures.
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In the Star Trek franchise, there is a parallel universe dubbed the "Mirror Universe" where the evil Terran Empire, which rules through terror, stands in place of the United Federation of Planets. Its first appearance was in the Original Series episode "Mirror, Mirror," when a transporter malfunction during an ion storm causes the landing party of Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, Scotty, and Uhura to switch places with their counterparts. It was a very compelling episode and the Mirror Universe has been revisited in different TV series and assorted non-canonical Trek media. IDW's Star Trek: The Next Generation: Mirror Broken collects

Book Review: Hitchcock's Heroines by Caroline Young

A beautifully designed book that discusses Alfred Hitcock's tumultuous relationships with his leading ladies.
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While talking to fellow filmmaker Francois Truffaut, director Alfred Hitchcock noted that he made his films with women in mind. He felt that women were the ones generally going to the movies and that when they brought a man along, it was still the women who made the decisions of which film to see. He certainly spent a lot of time fussing over his leading ladies. He was very much involved in not only choosing the right actress for the part but in choosing what clothes they should wear, hairstyles they should have, and every other aspect of how they’d

Book Review: The Complete Steve Canyon, Volume 8: 1961-1962 by Milton Caniff

Caniff continues to work at the top of his game.
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The Library of American Comics continues publishing the adventures of Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon with Volume 8, which presents the newspaper comic strips of 1961 and '62, the 14th and 15th year of the strip's 41-year run. The premise remains the same as Air Force Colonel Steve Canyon travels the globe conducting official and unofficial missions. Also remaining the same is Caniff's outstanding artwork. Steve's first assignment in this collection is set in England where some of the locals aren't too happy about the installation of a North American air defense radar station, especially when their sheep start dying. In

Book Review: Star Wars: The Complete Classic Newspaper Comics, Vol. 2

They are fun adventures that don't require one to be well versed in the movies or other media of the franchise.
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In IDW/The Library of Amercian Comics' on-going presentation of the Star Wars newspaper comics, Volume 2 presents eight stories that ran from October 6, 1980 through to September July 25, 1982. The Empire Strikes Back had been released in May 1980, but none of the events had any impact on the stories because the first, an adaptation of Brian Daley's novel Han Solo at Star's End, is set before the events of Star Wars, and the remaining stories are set between Star Wars and Empire. Adapted by Archie Goodwin, who wrote all the other stories in this colllection, and drawn

Book Review: The Pride of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper, and the Making of a Classic by Richard Sandomir

A well-researched book that gives you the nuts and bolts of how one of the first major movie biopics was made.
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Field of Dreams, The Natural, and Bull Durham may be the first movies that come to mind when you think of baseball, but the first classic baseball film, The Pride of the Yankees, was made in 1942. The story of Yankees’ great Lou Gehrig, who played in 2,130 consecutive games until he developed - and later died of - amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), starred Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright, and Walter Brennan, and is considered the first blockbuster sports movie. The climax of the movie is Cooper’s reenactment of Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man in the World” speech before his retirement, which is

Book Review: Al Capp's Li'l Abner, Volume Nine: Complete Sundays and Dailies 1951-1952

Li'l Abner and Daisy Mae tie the knot in this latest volume of Li'l Abner comic strips.
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Al Capp’s Li’l Abner had the kind of success most comic strips only dream of. Running for 43 years, it captured the heart of pop culture long before the Marvel movies and big-screen blockbusters we have today. The strip introduced the idea of Sadie Hawkins Day into the lexicon, where in a role reversal, young ladies asked young men out for dates. Not a big deal now, but it was a major deal in the 1930s when Capp brought it into his strip. The strip turned Capp into a celebrity, with Capp presenting Kitty Pankey the title of “Sweetest Face

Book Review: Star Trek: New Visions Volume 6 by John Byrne

Welcome these stories into your Star Trek library.
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As stated in my previous reviews of this book series, "John Byrne and IDW Publishing are presenting the lost missions of the Original Series Enterprise crew in the form of photonovels. That format uses photographs instead of drawings like the Star Trek Fotonovels of the late '70s. Byrne manipulates images of characters and backgrounds from the [TV show] combined with new material such as dialogue [in word balloons], narration, and photos of actors playing new characters and bodies of old ones." Volume 6 collects issues #15-17. “The Traveler” finds the Enterprise crew boarding a ship that's bigger on the inside,

Book Review: Movie Nights with the Reagans by Mark Weinberg

No matter your political affiliation, there are plenty of great stories to read about the former president and First Lady and their love of the movies.
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During their eight years in office, Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, watched a total of 363 movies during their weekends at Camp David. Not only were they the big box-office hits of that time (1980-1988), but they also consisted of the classics before that era, as well as what Ronald Reagan referred to as the “golden oldies,” which were the films in which he starred. In Movie Nights with the Reagans, Mark Weinberg, a former spokesperson, adviser, and speechwriter to President Reagan, focuses primarily on the films of the 1980s that made the biggest impressions on the couple and

Book Review: Superman: The Atomic Age Sundays, Volume 3 (1956-1959): A Wonderful Time Capsule for Fans of the Man of Steel

Thirteen classic Superman tales, all collected in one volume.
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When it comes to comic book heroes, Superman remains one of, if not the biggest pillars in the industry. With a remarkable history going back 80 years and with a graded copy of Action Comics #1 selling for $3 million plus, Superman is arguably the gold standard by which all other heroes are measured. Like many heroes, Superman has appeared in comic books, but also in Sunday newspaper strips. While this may not be as common now, it was very common in the 1950s. With comic values for older hero books becoming more and more out of reach and original

Book Review: The Movie Art of Syd Mead: Visual Futurist by Syd Mead & Craig Hodgetts

A giant collection of art from the man who showed us what the future looked like.
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If you’re a fan of science fiction films, there’s a pretty good chance you’re a fan of Syd Mead. Even if you don’t know him by name, it would be almost impossible to avoid his work. And even if you somehow managed to miss films like Aliens, Blade Runner, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Elysium or Tron, it’s safe to say that you are familiar with something or someone that borrowed a bit from Mead’s style. The man has played a pivotal role in shaping cinema’s vision of the future for nearly 40 years and his fingerprints can be seen

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 23: 1966-1967 by Chester Gould

Those who prefer their Dick Tracy Earthbound will be pleased as will anyone who enjoys crime stories filled with sex and violence.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect The Complete Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, Volume 23 presents the dailies and Sunday strips from December 27, 1965 through to July 2, 1967. The book has an introductory essay by consulting editor Max Allan Collins, "Now Back to Our Story," about the strips collected. It concludes with contributing editor Jeff Kersten's "Hard as Hell - Act One" about matters relating to Gould and the strip during this time period offering references to allusions Gould makes to the JFK's assassination and Washington Post publisher Phillip Graham's divorce. He

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