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Book Review: Donald Duck: The Complete Daily Newspaper Comics, Vol. 3 & The Complete Sunday Newspaper Comics, Vol. 2 (1943-1945)

IDW Publishing's latest Donald Duck comic strip collections drive home the U.S. domestic impact of World War II while also serving up laughs aplenty.
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There’s something decidedly comforting about reading old Disney comic strips, as they’re reliably funny, relatable, and finely crafted. These latest collections add a rare aspect: they’re also educational. The reason for that is the timeframe these strips were originally released, smack dab in the waning years of World War II. While they’re not ostensibly war books, there’s no escaping its influence throughout these pages. Although Donald didn’t go to war in the comic strip (flat feet), its impact is felt throughout this run, as he frequently deals with the domestic hardships endured by U.S. civilians. Among those travails are gas

Book Review: Red Barry: Undercover Man, Vol. 1 (1934-1935) by Will Gould

A lesser known detective comic from the 1930s gets a fine new release.
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I adored newspaper comic strips as I was growing up. My parents took in the Tulsa World, which was a morning paper, and the Claremore Progress, which ran in the afternoon. There was a lot of overlap in the two paper’s comics pages, but the Progress had a few strips that the World did not. My sister and I would fight over who got to read the World over breakfast and then again over who could get home the fastest and grab the Progress. I read almost all of the strips but my favorites were Calvin & Hobbes, The Far

Book Review: The Marvel Vault by Thomas, Sanderson, and Manning

A fascinating trip down memory lane for those curious about what went on behind the pages.
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Originally published in 2007, Roy Thomas and Peter Sanderson's The Marvel Vault was clearly in need of Matthew K. Manning's 2016 update. There's no clear delineation identified when the first edition ended and the new one begins, but somewhere around the “One More Day”/ “Brand New Day” reboot of Spider-Man is as close as I can pin down. Although the book tells “the history of Marvel Comics (or Timely, as it was in initially called), from 1939 to present,” it was a classy touch to give credit to crosstown rivals National Allied Publications' (before they became DC Comics) Action Comics

Book Review: Star Hawks, Volume One: 1977-1978 by Gil Kane and Ron Goulart

Innovative science-fiction newspaper strip suffers from poor writing, but Gil Kane's art really shines.
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In early 1977, right at the start of the cultural science-fiction boom of the late '70s, the newspaper syndicate NEA hired Ron Goulart and Gil Kane to do a daily Star Trek-like strip. They came up with Star Hawks about a couple of interplanetary peacekeepers policing the universe from the space station Hoosegow. Inventive for its use of a two-tiered format which made it twice as tall as the usual newspaper strip allowing Kane to create some really interesting artwork. Goulart is probably best known today for his histories of comic books and pulp fiction, but Kane is a legend

Book Review: Superman: The Golden Age Newspaper Dailies: 1942-1944

New Library of American Comics collection of World War II era daily newspaper Superman comic strips shows why the the superhero stayed on the home front instead of the battlefield.
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Imagine the conundrum. America recently entered World War II, a war the government pronounces a battle between the “free world” and a “slave world.” Less than four years before, the first page of the first story about the now nationally popular Superman called him the “champion of the oppressed.” He’s since displayed not only invulnerability but superpowers that could make quick work of the Axis. How can Superman morally allow the war to continue? The problem facing Superman’s creators, writers, and artists wasn’t just an internal one. TIME magazine wrote about “Superman’s Dilemma” in its April 13, 1942, issue. It

Book Review: James Bond: SPECTRE: The Complete Comic Strip Collection

Not only for your eyes.
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Having previously collected and released the James Bond newspaper comic-strip adventures that ran in British newspapers, including in Omnibus Volumes that were released from September 2009 to November 2014, Titan Books is now presenting the strips in hardback editions. SPECTRE: The Complete Comic Strip Collection covers Bond's encounters with the villainous organization (whose name stands for SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) and its leader, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, adapted from Ian Fleming's novels: Thunderball (running 12/11/61-02/10/62), The Spy Who Loved Me (12/18/67 - 10/03/68), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (06/29/64 - 05/17/65), and You Only Live Twice (05/18/65

Book Review: Film Noir Light and Shadow: Shedding Light on Dark Films

A wonderful resource to understanding one of cinemas greatest genres.
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Much like the Supreme Court with pornography, I find "film noir" difficult to define, but I know it when I see it. The term was coined by French film critic Niko Frank in 1946 and literally means “black cinema” but might more correctly be translated as “dark cinema”. It was used to describe the type of crime dramas that were popular during the '40s and '50s with its stark use of shadows and its bleak, dark themes. But exactly what "film noir" is can be as problematic to pin down as so many of the femme fatales that appear in

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 21: 1962-1964 by Chester Gould

I wouldn't recommend it as a starting point, but it is an enjoyable continuation of the Dick Tracy series.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect The Complete Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, Volume 21 presents the dailies and Sunday strips from August 27, 1962 through to April 12, 1964. The book has an introductory essay by Consulting Editor Max Allan Collins' about the strips collected including the public reaction to Moon Maid and other lunar characters that appeared later, which "remains the most controversial element in the history of the Tracy strip." It concludes with Contributing Editor Jeff Kersten's "Pulling the Whiskers Off," who regales readers with what was happening at the time

Book Review: Star Trek: The Classic UK Comics, Vol. 2: Where Some Fans May Never Have Gone Before

The crew's encounters with beings different from ourselves is still as fun and fascinating today as it ever was.
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There are so many branches to the Star Trek universe: novelizations, movies, re-boot film series, animated series, magazines, television series, toys, games, etc. that even the most dedicated fan, Trekkie or Trekker, might have trouble keeping up. The original series (TOS) first aired on American television in September of 1966. It included its now immortal cast of characters - Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), his Vulcan first officer Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), ship's doctor Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley), communications officer Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), helmsman Lt. Sulu (George Takei) and Ensign Chekov (Walter Koenig). That key crew accompanied its

Book Review: Star Trek: New Visions Volume 4 by John Byrne

Byrne has a strong sense of who the characters are and puts them in compelling stories.
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In Star Trek: New Visions, John Byrne tells of the lost missions of the Starship Enterprise under the command of Captain James T. Kirk. Through the use of images from the Original Series combined with new material such as dialogue, narration, and photos of actors playing new characters and bodies of old ones, Byrne creates adventures for the crew that have an air of authenticity because we see the familiar faces of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, et. al. Volume 4 collects issues #9-11 which includes a treat for fans of the Animated Series. Occurring about two years after the first

Book Review: Tarzan on Film by Scott Tracy Griffin

Highly recommended for fans of Burroughs' character as well as those with an interest in Hollywood history.
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Author Scott Tracy Griffin has followed up his Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration with Tarzan on Film, a marvelous exploration of the nearly 100 years that Edgar Rice Burroughs' legendary character has been adapted into 52 films and seven television series. The book opens with a foreword by actor Caper Van Dien, who starred as the 20th Tarzan in Tarzan and the Lost City (1998) and credits himself as “the only Tarzan who can say he rode on an actual African elephant in a Tarzan film.” Griffin then provides a brief overview of how the character's “fortunes have ebbed and flowed

Book Review: LOAC Essentials Vol. 8: King Features Essentials 1: Krazy Kat 1934 by George Harriman: Rare Dailies of the Kraziest of Komics

Finally, a new, readily available collection of one of the best comic strips ever.
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It is ironic that, in the era of the Internet which has disrupted so much of modern publishing, it has become easier than ever to delve into the archives of the media past. Newspapers are struggling to survive, and aspiring comic strips have a much better chance finding an audience on their own website than trying to get a comic syndicate interested in publishing them in print. Indeed, I wouldn't doubt that having a built-in audience would be a requirement for syndication, since print space is precious, and smaller than ever, with old reprinted strips competing with the new. But
When I was growing up two of the things that I was really into were comic books and Star Trek. I had stacks and stacks of comic books. With such a large investment made into reading material and being the entrepreneur that I was, I would actually charge my little cousin to read them. She still brings that up every once in a while. When I wasn't reading comic books I was watching Star Trek. Any time there were reruns of the original series or the animated series, I was there. Usually wearing my Star Trek jacket. Gold Key Comics,

Book Review: The Art of Selling Movies by John McElwee

Entertaining visual look at the history of American movie newspaper ads suffers from issues with accompanying text
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Today’s digital media dislodged or diminished a variety of other media. Some are conspicuous: VHS and VCR. Others, such as the shriveling of newspaper movie ads, less so. From its inception, newspaper advertising was a principal means of promoting movies. In addition to where and when a film was showing, these ads brought artwork, photos, and lively descriptions to the consumer. In The Art of Selling Movies, John McElwee looks at the history and evolution of this craft. As McElwee points out, his book isn't about movies but the countless, nameless ad creators and their “skill, sometimes genius of pulling

Book Review: Superman: The Atomic Age Sundays, Volume 2 (1953-1956)

An important and worthwhile historical artifact, even if it is my least favorite one so far.
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Superman: The Atomic Age Sundays, Volume 2 (1953-1956) is the fourth collection of classic Superman Sunday comic strips from IDW and the Library of American Comics and the third volume that I’ve had the opportunity to check out. I’ll do my best to avoid rehashing too much of the same ground I already covered in my reviews of The Golden Age Sundays (1946-1949) or the prior volume of The Atomic Age Sundays (1949-1953), but for those who don’t care to read my other reviews (that’s fine, I’m totally not offended), here’s the deal: these comic strips are sort of a

Book Review: Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies Vol. 2 (1935-1939)

A beautiful collection of historically important comics.
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From 1929 to 1939, the Walt Disney company created 75 original animated short films under its Silly Symphonies line. As opposed to the Micky Mouse short films Disney was producing at the same time the Symphonies were designed to be whimsical pieces devoid of continuity or the need to feature regular characters (though several characters quickly stood out and became regulars in the films). In many ways, these shorts were a means by which Disney could experiment with the animation without fear of hurting his brand. The films helped dramatically improve what could be done with animation in terms of

Book Review: Batman: The Silver Age Newspaper Comics Vol. 3, 1969-1972

Final collection of Silver Age Batman daily comic strips finds our hero in decline due to diminishing publication and artistic changes.
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Long before most of us were reading the funny pages, Batman was finishing up a six-year comic strip run fueled by the popularity of his ‘60s TV show. While the early years found the strip mirroring the show’s campiness, the final era diverged into a tone similar to Batman’s more serious comic book stories. That’s the timeframe covered by this final entry in IDW’s Batman reprint editions, a collection that traces the decline of the strip from its fine artistry and full-week publishing schedule to hackneyed art and stories published six days a week by a radically reduced roster of

Book Review: Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3 by Robert Matzen

Using numerous interviews, a personal climb to the crash site, and government documents, Matzen constructs the story deliberately.
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Like the rest of America, World War II transformed Hollywood. Within 10 days of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt appointed a "coordinator of government films" as a liaison between the government and the motion picture industry and to advise Hollywood in supporting the war effort. And just 40 days after Pearl Harbor, the first Hollywood star would die in pursuit of the latter. Known for her beauty and her roles in popular screwball comedies, Carole Lombard became one of the highest paid actresses during the 1930s. She appeared in more than 30 films that decade. In 1999, the American Film

Book Review: Li'l Abner: The Complete Dailies and Color Sundays, Volume 8: 1949-1950 by Al Capp

I can't remember anything being as wildly absurd as Li'l Abner.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect Li'l Abner: The Complete Dailies and Color Sundays by Al Capp, Volume 8 presents the dailies from December 23, 1948 through to January 11, 1951 and the Sunday strips, which aren't part of the dailies' continuity, from December 12, 1948 through to November 12, 1950. The book has an introductory essay, Bruce Canwell's "Hillbily Heaven" that includes a look at Capp's feud with former boss Joe Palooka creator Hammond Fisher, which spills into the strip a few times in this book. Growing up as member of Generation X,

Book Review: Feeding Hannibal: A Connoisseur's Cookbook by Janice Poon

An extremely interesting read and even if you never cook anything from it, it is still a worthy purchase for Fannibals.
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Hannibal was one of the most beautiful yet disturbing shows I have ever seen. One of the most beautiful aspects of the show was Hannibal's food creations made from his victims. Feeding Hannibal: A Connoisseur's Cookbook was created by Janice Poon, the show's food stylist. The recipes offered in the cookbook are not for the novice chef. While being gorgeous, most are pretty complicated requiring patience and perhaps some cooking lessons.The cookbook is broken into the following chapters: "At Home with Hannibal", which offers tools and techniques; "Breakfast"; "Appetizers"; "Mains - Meat"; "Mains - Fish and Vegetarian"; "Soups; Salads and

Book Review: Aliens: The Set Photography by Simon Ward

Go ahead, give it a face-hug.
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The movie Aliens turned 30 recently, and there are rumblings of another movie in the Alien universe in the works, so there's no better time to go back and see what went into making one of the most iconic films in the franchise and in sci-fi as a whole. Aliens: The Set Photography by Simon Ward from Titan Books walks through every aspect of production and filming from pre-production casting and behind-the-scenes shots to walkthroughs of every major sequence of the film, how weapons and props were built, how aliens and other creature constructs were produced and animated...it's very comprehensive

Book Review: Only the Dead Know Burbank by Bradford Tatum

A literary display of the origins of horror in film, harkening back to terrors from our past.
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Dracula, Frankenstein, the Phantom of the Opera: all members of the classic horror era that continues to haunt and inspire film to this day. In his novel Only the Dead Know Burbank, Bradford Tatum explains a history in which all of these were inspired by one little girl. The story is a first-person account tracing the short life and long afterlife of a Bavarian girl who lurks in the shadows of history and serves as something of a midwife, if not true mother, of the horror cinematic genre. Tatum is rich in his telling of setting, first illustrating the narrator’s

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 20: 1961-1962 by Chester Gould

Gould's writing over the 18 months collected here is entertaining and the art remains first rate.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect The Complete Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, Volume 20 presents the dailies and Sunday strips from February 20, 1961 through to August 26, 1962. The book has an introductory essay, Max Allan Collins' "Fate Does Funny Things" about the strips collected and about Gould "dealing with the changing times" of the '60s, and concludes with Jeff Kersten's "Echoes" about efforts to expand Dick Tracy into television. There is also a corrected version of the February 28, 1960 Sunday strip from the previous volume. Volume 20 begins with the

Book Review: The Blacklist: Elizabeth Keen's Dossier by Tara Bennett and Paul Terry: A Reminder of the Show's Original Vision

One of the finest and most detailed companion books that I have ever seen.
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"If you are reading this, then something has gone wrong" are the first words we encounter in the new book The Blacklist: Elizabeth Keen's Dossier (2016) by Tara Bennett and Paul Terry. Those handwritten words appear on a piece of notebook paper which seems to have been hastily added to a collection of FBI files, which document the first two seasons of The Blacklist. There is a motherlode of information in these files, including aspects of cases that were never even revealed in the program.. The attention to detail is so thorough that you can practically smell the coffee stains

Book Review: Star Trek: 50 Artists 50 Years

A big book with only a few memorable art pieces.
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It’s been 50 years since the original Star Trek television show debuted on television. While the original series lasted only three seasons, there have been a number of television series and movies that have followed. Being that it is the 50th anniversary, there has been a lot of talk celebrating the event. Not only has there been many television specials, but Titan Books has also released an all-encompassing book of art featuring the show. The majority of the individual art pieces are displayed along with common questions and responses from the artists regarding their affiliation and interest in the Star

Book Review: The Art and Making of The Flash by Abbie Bernstein

It feels like a special feature found on a Blu-ray or DVD.
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Over the last couple of years, the CW has built up a number of television series based on the DC comics universe. While their first show featured the hero known as the Green Arrow, their second series needed to have a much lighter tone that had the feel of a comic book. Co-creator and executive producer Greg Bernlanti, who grew up reading comic books, said that The Flash was the hero who exemplified all the traits needed for this new series because he was the heart and soul of the Justice League and would make a perfect companion to the

Book Review: To Pixar and Beyond by Lawrence Levy: Surprisingly Accessible Financial Memoir

The engaging and detailed story about the business strategies surrounding Pixar's IPO.
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If Toy Story had flopped, it would have been the end of Steve Jobs. Remembered in his later life for his keynotes, his turtlenecks, his creation and latter day resurrection of Apple, it can be easy to forget that from the mid-'80s until the late-'90s, Steve Jobs was written off. Played out. A two-time loser, with a computer-graphics company hemorrhaging money left and right. Pixar had been in the red practically since its founding as The Graphics Group by Lucasfilm (that George Lucas had, on some level, anticipated and helped bring about every aspect of the digital-video revolution, audio, visual

Comics Review: Motor Crush #1 by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr

Batgirl of Burnside creative team now release Motor Crush from Image Comics.
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Last year, a team of creatives re-designed a popular DC Comics heroine known as Batgirl. (Note: If you haven't read Batgirl of Burnside yet, you are wrong and must go fix this mistake immediately.) When DC announced their plans to launch Rebirth over the summer, readers were sad to discover that this team would not be continuing forward with our beloved heroine. So, it was a surprise and a thrill when they announced yet another collaboration on a new title from Image Comics called Motor Crush. Now, I want to cut the formality and say that Batgirl of Burnside is

Kristen's Book Club for December 2016

What's worth reading this month?
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Winter is upon us. Snow is falling, cocoa is plentiful and there's no better time to curl up and let the stress of Christmas pass you by with a good book. Here's a trio of titles worth reading. Elizabeth Taylor by Ellis Cashmore Paparazzi everywhere; TMZ covering every celebrity's move 24/7. It's nearly impossible to imagine a time where this didn't exist. Ellis Cashmore's Elizabeth Taylor seeks to pinpoint when this oppressive obsession with celebrity first started, zeroing in on Elizabeth Taylor's public affair with Richard Burton. Cashmore doesn't rehash Taylor's biography. Instead, the book charts Taylor's rise from child

Kristen's Book Club for November 2016

Some books that will make readers thankful.
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The temperatures dropping and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. But that's no reason to stop reading. Here are a few books worth picking up for when the family becomes too much for you. Girls Will Be Boys: Cross-Dressed Women, Lesbians, and American Cinema, 1908-1934 by Laura Horak Since time immemorial girls and women have dabbled in the art of cross-dressing, look at Shakespeare's Rosalind from As You Like It. The idea of disguising the female identity to either subvert gender roles or present pointed critiques against masculinity has been in film since its inception and it hasn't been looked

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