Recently in Book

Book Review: Owsley and Me by Rhoney Gissen Stanley: An Insider's Guide to the '60s

Making music, love, and enough LSD to get the whole world high.
  |   Comments
Owsley Stanley is not a household name, but he probably should be. He was financier and soundman of the Grateful Dead in their early, transformative years. As a sound engineer he was revolutionary. In the primal days of rock 'n' roll, bands tended to plug into whatever crappy sound system the venue had and just made do. Usually, these places weren’t intended for rock concerts and the sound sucked. There weren’t even monitors on stage so the band could hear themselves play. Owsley changed all that. He invented systems that are still in use in concert venues all over the

Book Review: The Art of John Alvin by Andrea Alvin

You know his work. Now get to know the man.
  |   Comments
I consider myself a serious cinephile, so much so that I don't mind describing myself with the pretentious word "cinephile." I have been captivated by movies for as long as I can remember, and to such an extent that my interest goes beyond what plays on the screen. I am just as fascinated by the "business" of show business as I am the "show." In addition to actors and directors, I also appreciate and study the work of other artistic contributors to the medium, such as writers, cinematographers, and composers. Which is why I am disappointed I wasn't aware of

Book Review: The Wizard of Oz FAQ by David J. Hogan: Over the Rainbow and Beyond

It covers all aspects of Oz, from Garland's recording of "Over the Rainbow" to costumes to casting, to fan reaction to the film - and yes, even includes stories about Ebsen and the Munchkins
  |   Comments
The Wizard of Oz is an enduring and endearing classic. Who hasn't seen it, perhaps even multiple times? It made a star out of cultural icon Judy Garland and has held up remarkably well over the years since its 1939 release, enchanting generations of young and old alike. There have been stories over the years about what went on behind-the-scenes of making the film. The most familiar factoids center around Buddy Ebsen, who was originally cast as the Tin Woodman, but had such a terrible reaction to the silver make-up that he had to quit. Another popular story concerned the

Book Review: The Art of Greg Spalenka by Greg Spalenka

It is a tribute to the artist and to the liberating freedom of art itself.
  |   Comments
The name Greg Spalenka may or may not be a familiar one to you, but once you have seen his work in The Art of Greg Spalenka, you will never forget it. The new, oversized hardback collection features his creations in many different styles over the past 30 years, and is a tribute not only to his talent, but to the liberating freedom of art itself. I first discovered him as the creator of some of the more memorable fantasy film images I have seen. While his work on The Ant Bully (2004), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of

Leonard Maltin's 2015 Movie Guide Book Review: The End of an Era

The book is very substantive, and full of information
  |   Comments
Leonard Maltin appears in the movie Gremlins 2: The New Batch, lampooning his own negative review of the original Gremlins. He was also in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, but that's not relevant from a cinematic perspective. This is brought up to illuminate how long Maltin has been a prominent film critic, and not just because of Doug Benson's movie podcast where they play the Leonard Maltin Game. However, an era is coming to an end. In addition to his Leonard Maltin app going out of commission, the most recent edition of Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide, the 2015

Book Review: Alfred Hitchcock's America by Murray Pomerance: Not for the Faint of Heart

My suspicion is unless you are a frenzied scholar this book might notoriously turn you psycho.
  |   Comments
In 1939, at the age of 40, Alfred Hitchcock moved to America. He’d had huge success as a filmmaker in Britain, but Hollywood was calling, and as so many others before him and after, Hitchcock answered that call. As scholar Murray Pomerance writes in Alfred Hitchcock’s America, the famed director loved America and was both highly influenced by and greatly influenced it himself. Certainly he made his greatest films while living in America, many of which have come to represent the very ideals of this country. Pomerance comes to these films from a cultural and political standpoint and this book

Book Review: The Art of Neil Gaiman by Haley Campbell

A fantastic accounting of his life and career.
  |   Comments
I was first introduced to Neil Gaiman through his Sandman comics at a time when most people were introduced to Neil Gaiman through his Sandman comics. I read the collected trade paperbacks of The Sandman at end of the millenium while working at a Barnes & Noble, a few years after the series' monthly run had ended. I hadn't been a comic-book reader since 1985, deciding to take a stand and quit cold turkey when the prices went up to a whopping 65 cents an issue, which was more than my limited budget could stand, as gasoline and women became

Book Review: Brainquake, Samuel Fuller's Lost Novel

Samuel Fuller's "lost" noir novel finally gets published in the U.S.
  |   Comments
Best known for provocative films such as Shock Corridor, The Crimson Kimono, or The Big Red One, Samuel Fuller spent his life making inescapable art. He was a filmmaker’s filmmaker and a writer’s writer, whom director Wim Wenders—Paris, Texas among others—once called “one of the great movie directors of the 20th century, most certainly its greatest storyteller.” Fuller had spunk and punch, and very little of what drags most artists to the ground, excess. His ideas were straightforward and to the point. Take for example his most controversial work White Dog, the tale of a virulent racist German Sheppard and

Rip Kirby: The First Modern Detective: Complete Comic Strips: 1962-1964 by John Prentice

The first modern detective meets a master of modern storytelling and finds a convert in this reviewer.
  |   Comments
I can’t remember a time when sequential art didn’t play a huge role in my life. Whether it was riding my bike to the local 7-11 to pick up comic books filled with colorful superheroes or tearing apart the Sunday paper to get to “the funny section” before my siblings, I’ve always been enamored of this unique form of storytelling. As time has gone by, my appreciation for the medium has led me down many avenues and I’ve done my best to educate myself on various styles, genres, and methods of telling stories through pictures. But there was always one

Book Review: Steven Spielberg's America by Fredrick Wasser

A really great read about a really a great director.
  |   Comments
There are tons of books about film and film directors that actually miss the mark, but Fredrick Wasser's Steven Spielberg's America gets it completely right. It is one of the best books about one of the best directors of all time. Not only does it explain in great detail Spielberg's rise in television, but it also talks about the reasons why he would go to become one of the biggest names in film history. Spielberg redefined the term "blockbuster" with his still heart-pounding summer sensation Jaws (1975); he brought us to tears for life with his masterpiece E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

Book Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History by Andrew Farago

A must-have for fans and highly recommend for pop-culture aficionados.
  |   Comments
Regardless of what one may think about the vast assortment of various products that have been spun off, it's amazing that 30 years ago this past May the pop culture world was forever changed when two men (Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman) realized a dream by publishing their own comic book, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1. In this outstanding book, Andrew Farago documents the franchise's history from how the creators met, how the turtles made their big splash when they transitioned from the comics to an animated television series, and how the Turtles have evolved in different mediums, up to

Book Review: The Killing: Uncommon Denominator by Karen Dionne

A prequel novel every bit as addicting as the TV show.
  |   Comments
Fans of AMC’s The Killing who are jonesing for more are in luck: as Stephen Holder, the skinny strung-out-looking undercover cop would say, they can “get a taste of a little sumthing-sumthing” to tide them over with this prequel novel, The Killing - Uncommon Denominator. An original novel based on the AMC series developed by Veena Sud, the book The Killing faithfully captures the tone and characters of Holder and his partner, Detective Sarah Linden (played by Joel Kinnaman and Mireille Enos) perfectly. The book’s author, Karen Dionne, has a good ear for dialogue and a director’s eye for setting

Book Review: Overlooked / Underappreciated: 354 Recordings That Demand Your Attention by Greg Prato

Relive the days of leafing through a friend's record collection by reading the rock journalist's new guide.
  |   Comments
Writing a book entitled Overlooked/Underappreciated: 354 Recordings That Demand Your Attention is fraught with difficulty. The selections are based purely on personal taste, and are begging for readers to argue with the author. Yet rock journalist Greg Prato has tackled this challenge in his twelfth book, a work packed with suggestions for your music collection. Remember the experience of leafing through a friend’s records, CDs, and tapes, analyzing albums and recommending bands that (you think) no one knows? That memory mirrors the experience of reading Overlooked/Underappreciated. Covering mostly rock, jazz, R&B, and blues, Prato analyzes each listing using the following

Book Review: Tarzan: In The City of Gold: The Complete Burne Hogarth Comic Strip Library

The first in a four-volume set presenting Hogarth's tenure as artist of the Tarzan newspaper comic strip.
  |   Comments
Tarzan of the Apes, author Edgar Rice Burroughs' legendary creation, first appeared in the October 1912 issue of The All-Story. The character was such a sensation Burroughs wrote sequels and Tarzan was adapted into film, theater, radio, and newspaper strips, making the King of the Jungle one of the twentieth century's first Kings of All Media. Titan Books' Tarzan: In The City of Gold is the first in a four-volume planned set presenting Burne Hogarth's tenure as artist of the Tarzan newspaper comic strip. Hogarth replaced Tarzan's first artist Hal Foster, who left for the more lucrative opportunity to start
Author John Grant has assembled a massive tome cataloging film noir that rightly deserves to be called a “comprehensive encyclopedia.” Over the book's 700-plus pages, there are entries for more than 3,250 films, beginning with Stephen Gaghan's Abandon (2002) and ending with John Penney's Zyzzyx Rd (2005). Covering nearly 100 years of cinema, the book's earliest entry is Chester M. Franklin's Going Straight (1916) and the latest is Allen Hughes' Broken City (2013). Understandably, those four films might not immediately leap to anyone's mind when thinking about film noir, which is why Grant begins his Introduction with the question “What

Book Review: Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War by Mark Harris

Fascinating, lively group bio chronicling the WWII service of Hollywood legends Frank Capra, George Stevens, John Ford, William Wyler, and John Huston.
  |   Comments
Five seems to be a lucky number for author Mark Harris. His previous book, Pictures at a Revolution, artfully captured a key inflection point in movie and American history by examining the five Best Picture nominees from 1967 (a group that included Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde and the eventual winner, In the Heat of the Night, as well as the joker in the pack, the dreadful Rex Harrison musical version of Dr. Dolittle). Now he has successfully tackled a tough genre, the group biography, with Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the

Book Review: Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim, Vol. 4: 1942-1944 by Alex Raymond

This LOAC series comes to a close as Raymond proves to be the kind of hero he wrote about.
  |   Comments
This fourth and final volume of The Library of American Comics' series reprinting Alex Raymond's Sunday strips of Flash Gordon and its topper Jungle Jim begins on January 4, 1942, less than a month after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the U.S. joining the Allied Forces. World War II had a great impact on the strip. Jim Bradley's adventures found the character travelling the globe to foil plots by the Japanese and the Germans. Flash Gordon did his part for the war effort as well, but his mission required a return to the planet Mongo to retrieve radium. Once

Book Review: Archie: The Swingin' Sixties, Volume Two: 1963-1965 by Bob Montana and Bruce Canwell

A swingin' good time with Archie and the gang.
  |   Comments
Almost anyone can name the first comic book they ever read. For many, it’s some type of superhero in either the Marvel or DC universe, but, for me, it was Archie and his gang from Riverdale. Yes, Archie and crew are very tame, and were also a highly idealized product of their time (attempts to break into other avenues to break their cookie-cutter image are on-going). My experience was with the various “digests,” containing several stories pasted into one book. Recently, IDW Publishing started putting out collections comprised of Archie’s adventures in the newspapers. Their latest collection, Archie: The Swingin’

Book Review: LOAC Essentials Vol. 5: The Bungle Family 1930 by Harry J. Tuthill: Marvelously Subtle Satire Circa 1930

The Bungle Family provides an incredible opportunity to step back in time with a man who knew the con inside and out.
  |   Comments
Art Spiegelman calls Harry J. Tuthill’s The Bungle Family comic strip, “One of the darkest visions of American life this side of Nathanael West.” That may be true, but with the new Library of American Comics Essentials Vol. 5: The Bungle Family 1930, there is much more than simply a dark vision. The daily strips from that year provide a cultural historical record of the moment unlike any other. As writer Paul Tumey points out in his Introduction, Tuthill knew the con inside and out. It is an incredible experience to step back in time with The Bungle Family.Tuthill’s formative

Book Review: Genius, Animated: The Cartoon Art of Alex Toth by Dean Mullaney & Bruce Canwell

Never has the word "genius" been so apt.
  |   Comments
Genius, Animated: The Cartoon Art of Alex Toth is the third and final chapter in the Library of American Comics' in-depth look at the life of legendary artist Alex Toth, accompanying 2011's Genius, Isolated and 2013's Genius, Illustrated. This volume focuses in on what is arguably Toth's best known contribution to the art world: his work in the field of animation. Standing 13.2 x 9.8 x 1.5 inches and weighing in at 5.4 pounds, this 328-page behemoth presents a definite challenge when attempting to write a review. You see, not long after receiving my copy, I remarked to a friend

Book Review: Little Orphan Annie, Volume Ten: The Junior Commandos by Harold Gray

It comes most highly recommended to anyone with an interest in comics.
  |   Comments
Little Orphan Annie was a daily comic strip created, written, and drawn by Harold Gray. It began in August 1924 and was finally cancelled in June 2010. Gray wrote every strip until his death in 1968 after which it was taken over by a variety of artists. At its peak, it was read by millions and in 1937 it was ranked number one in popularity by a Fortune poll. It has been adapted into a variety of other mediums, including comic books, a radio show, a broadway musical, and a popular movie based upon the theatrical production. Though ostensibly for

Starting Point: 1979-1996 and Turning Point: 1997-2008 Book Review: Unique Memoirs from an Animation Genius

Starting Point and Turning Point memoirs provide insight into the work and life of Spirited Away director Hayao Miyazaki
  |   Comments
Hayao Miyazaki's downbeat personal sensibility, constant self-doubt, and pessimism are nearly absent from his works. My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, and Spirited Away are all populated by young people who, despite their personal problems, eventually do their best. Princess Mononoke is graphically violent and depicts an intractable conflict that leads to much death and suffering, but it ends with at least the possibility of reconciliation. Miyazaki's best work (which include most of his feature films) are palpable with this sense of tension - that the world is hard and full of problems, and that if they can't be surmounted,

Book Review: Borderline Is Lawrence Block's Pulp Fiction

It shows what a training ground pulp fiction played for such a good and prolific writer as Block.
  |   Comments
Lawrence Block is one of the country's best-known and successful mystery and crime novelists (8 Million Ways to Die, When the Sacred Ginmill Closes, The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart). He has created memorable characters like the hard-boiled detective Matthew Scudder and the charming burglar-turned-bookseller (and crime solver) Bernie Rhodenbarr. But many of his most ardent admirers may not know that Block started his writing career in the pulp field, frequently using pseudonyms to churn out stories mixing crime and sex. Hard Case Crime has been reissuing these lost dimestore novels, now under Block's name, and the latest, Borderline,

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 16: 1954-1956 by Chester Gould

There's no mystery why Gould's work endures.
  |   Comments
Chester Gould's Dick Tracy comic strip debuted on October 4, 1931 and continues today under the creative team of by Joe Staton and Mike Curtis. Named after the lead character, a square-jawed, yellow-hat-and-jacket-wearing police detective, the strip became so popular it would be adapted to many media, including radio, films, and television. In 2007, The Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing began publishing The Complete Dick Tracy. Volume 16 presents the dailies and Sunday Strips from October 25, 1954 - May 13, 1956. The collection begins mid-case with Tracy and the police on the hunt for Rughead, a vain

Book Review: The Complete Steve Canyon, Volume 4: 1953-1954 by Milton Caniff

Volume 4 clearly demonstrates what a talent Caniff was as both a writer and an artist.
  |   Comments
In 1946, cartoonist Milton Caniff ended a successful 12-year run on the adventure comic strip Terry and the Pirates for the opportunity of a creator-owned title where he would have more creative control and reap more the benefits of his work. Beginning in 1947 just a few weeks after his last Terry strip was published, Steve Canyon debuted. The strip ran 41 years and even continued a couple of months after Caniff's death. Since January 2012, the Library of American Comics, by way of IDW Publishing, has been releasing collections of Canyon strips, and Volume 4, which was my introduction

Book Review: Superman: The Silver Age Newspaper Dailies, Volume 2: 1961-1963: Super-Ridiculous, Super-Fun

A terrific collection of strips that would otherwise be lost to the world.
  |   Comments
Created in 1933, Superman has gone on to become one of the most popular and successful comic-book characters in the world. He has appeared in countless comics, newspapers strips, radio shows, and movies. In 1939, the character began appearing in daily newspapers where he remained a fixture of the comics page until 1966. The Library of American Comics in conjunction with DC Comics has binded together and printed for the first time a comprehensive collection of those newspaper strips. This book covers the years between 1961-1963 and contains over 700 individual strips. This era of the strip is notable for

Book Review: Popeye: The Classic Newspaper Comics, Volume One: 1986-1989 by Bobby London: Absolutely Fabulous

This anthology of Bobby London's Popeye comic strips of the late '80s is mandatory for fans.
  |   Comments
When it comes to reprints of classic comics, The Library of American Comics from IDW Publishing are the absolute gold standard. I own a half-dozen of their books, including collections of Felix the Cat, Blondie, and Polly and Her Pals. Popeye has also been a longtime favorite, although I was sadly unfamiliar with the Bobby London period, from 1986-‘89. So the new Popeye: The Classic Newspaper Comics, Volume One: 1986-1989 was a bit of a gamble for me. After reading this fat collection of daily strips, I am now embarrassed to admit that I was not hip to London’s Popeye

Book Review: Weird Fantasy, Volume 1: Glossy Reprint of Classic SF Comic

The latest hardcover EC Archives release features the first six issues of this series digitally recolored.
  |   Comments
EC Comics holds a special place in comic book history. After all, it was EC comics in particular that were singled out in the mid-'50s comic book panic, by both Frederic Wertham, whose book Seduction of the Innocent was about the mind-bending, anti-socializing power comic books had on the minds of the young, and in actual congressional inquiries. All of which led to the Comics Code Authority, that little symbol that was underneath the issue number on comics for years, and without which comics could not easily get distribution. It was private sector de facto censorship and a major influence

Book Review: Batman: The Silver Age Newspaper Comics, Volume One: 1966-1967

A welcome addition to any Batfan's library.
  |   Comments
IDW’s The Library of American Comics and DC Entertainment have teamed up to release Batman’s Silver Age newspaper strips, which debuted a few months after the classic television show hit the airwaves, so naturally the tone is light and humorous, as opposed to the serious and somber “Dark Knight” iteration that has been so popular since the mid-'80s. This was the Caped Crusader's third comic strip and the longest, running from 1966 until '74. Volume One covers the years 1966 and '67. Although Bob Kane's name appears in every strip, the book does a great job of crediting the creators,

Book Review: Grimm: Below the Surface: The Insider's Guide to the Show

A great companion guide to the series, as well as a reference guide to Portland's creepiest inhabitants.
  |   Comments
Grimm is a television show that has been running on NBC since the 2011 fall season. Part procedural cop show, part fantasy, the series follows Portland homicide detective Nick Burkhardt, who is descended from a long line of hunter/protectors known as Grimms. After his Aunt Marie is killed, Nick inherits the family business, from her extensive weapon collection to some super-human abilities. Grimms have the ability to see Wesen, creatures with animal characteristics that live among humans. Many Wesen are dangerous to humans and prey upon them, but as Nick becomes more and more comfortable with his supernatural abilities he

Follow Us