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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

Book Review: The Art of Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie by Ramin Zahed

Awe-inspiring and just regular inspiring too. And a whole lot of fun.
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We can all agree that Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie was pretty sweet, right? It was cute, it was charming, it had a good message about friendship and being kind, and it was basically just a bunch of fart jokes for little kids. And isn’t that what life is all about? No, not fart jokes, but little kids. Laughter. Friendship. If the sound of a child’s laughter doesn’t warm your heart and put a smile on your face, I’m sorry, but there’s just something wrong with you. And nothing makes a child laugh harder than a good fart joke.

Book Review: The Complete David Bowie (Revised and Updated 2016 Edition) by Nicholas Pegg

Expanded and updated with 35,000 words of new material, this edition is likely to be the last, until a number of the inevitable posthumous releases dictates another.
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"Complete" is an accurate description of this astoundingly thorough encyclopedia of Bowie's work. The book naturally opens with "The Songs from A to Z," starting with "Abdulmajid," an instrumental by Bowie and Brian Eno that appeared as a bonus track for a "Heroes" reissue in the early '90s as well as All Saints: Collected Instrumentals 1977-1999. Over the next 300-plus pages, readers are presented in-depth details about greatest hits, covers, and deep cuts, through to "Zion," a "rambling six-minute demo from 1973 which has also appeared on bootlegs under the various titles 'Aladdin Vein', ' Love Aladdin Vein', and '

Book Review: Star Hawks, Volume Two: 1978-1979 by Gil Kane and Ron Goulart

Reminiscent of a million things but totally unique - I've never seen anything quite like it!
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I’ve never seen anything quite like Gil Kane and Ron Goulart’s Star Hawks. And yeah, I know we geeks are prone to hyperbole; we like to rant and rave online about how mind-blowingly transcendent the stuff we love is and we like to say that things we don’t like somehow travelled through time to assault our childhood. It’s all pretty ridiculous, but it seems like Geek Hyperbole is part and parcel with internet nerdery, doesn’t it? So much so, that you probably didn’t bat an eye when I capitalized it! So yeah, we who fly on the geeky side of

Book Review: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: The Art of the Film by Mark Salisbury

All the beauty of the movie, with none of the shortcomings.
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I don’t know you, but I’m going to make a bold assumption about the type of person you are. You probably got pretty excited when you first saw that trailer for Luc Besson’s live action adaptation of Valerian, didn’t you? I make that assumption based on the fact that you’re reading a review of a book of art from the film and the fact that I, the reviewer of said book of art from the film, also got pretty excited when I first saw that trailer. Like, really excited. While only vaguely familiar with the comics by Jean-Claude Mezieres and

Book Review: Disney's Christmas Classics

A delightful gift to readers from Disney and the Library of American Comics.
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Considering how beloved Disney characters and Christmas are by children, it was surprising to learn in Alberto Becattini's introductory essay "Merry Christmas, Disney Style" that they weren't paired together in newspapers strips until "Peter Pan's Christmas Story" debuted in November 28, 1960 after managing editor / administrator of Disney's Comic Strip Department Frank Reilly pitched the idea to distributor Kings Features Syndicate. The annual "Disney Christmas Story" ran 27 times, concluding with "Snow White's Sinister Christmas Gift" in 1987. Rebranded in 1992 as the "Disney Holiday Story," these strips were tied into the films of the Disney Renaissance, ranging from

Book Review: Star Wars: On the Front Lines by Daniel Wallace

It's not to often something comes along that makes Star Wars better, but this book does just that.
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The Star Wars universe is defined by conflict. Whether it’s the internal struggle of a young Jedi finding his way in the world while dealing with some pretty heavy family baggage or a ragtag group of rogues trying to pass along some top secret plans, there’s always a lot of fighting going on in these stories. With Star Wars: On the Front Lines, author Daniel Wallace offers fans a unique perspective on eleven pivotal battles from the Star Wars chronology. Starting with the Battle of Naboo and taking us all the way through the attack on Starkiller Base, Wallace uses

Book Review: Justice League: The Art of the Film by Abbie Bernstein

As nice as this book looks, it still looks like the Justice League movie.
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Let’s get this out of the way right here at the beginning: I haven’t seen Justice League. Nor do I particularly want to see Justice League. Despite being a lifelong fan of comic books and superheroes, I’m not quite sold on Warner Brothers' vision for the DC characters (with the exception of Wonder Woman, which was absolutely stunning), and it’s nearly impossible to avoid, or remain unaffected by the flurry of bad press the film has gotten from the often unfair online media prior to its release. But none of those reasons speak to why I remain uninterested in the

Book Review: Silly Symphonies Volume 3: The Complete Disney Classics 1939-1942

Contains only one Silly Symphonies adaptation, but plenty of other Disney magic.
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The Silly Symphonies comic strip started as a venue for adaptations of Disney’s long-running series of animated shorts, but by the time of the Sunday color strips presented in this collection, the title was far less indicative of its contents. While the artistic merits remained high, the strips only adapted one animated short, The Ugly Duckling, while devoting the rest of the space to Pluto one-offs, a lengthy adaptation of Pinocchio, and ongoing original adventures of Little Hiawatha. As such, the brand name doesn’t really match the strips, but the contents are still decidedly Disney and completely entertaining. The collection

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

The artwork is the real stand out.
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While Disney had previously run newspaper comic strips before it, their 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 13 stories in Volume Two, which are collected in a book for the first time, include adaptations of films, both animated and live-action, and original stories. Animation historian Michael Barrier provides Introductions for the book and for each strip. Written by Frank A. Reilly and drawn by Jesse March, except where noted, they are: The Legends of Davy

Book Review: Tangled: The Series: Adventure is Calling

It will please the younger set of Disney fans more than your average comic book geek.
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In my family, Tangled is one of the better movies to come out of Disney’s classic animation studios in a long while. Released in 2010, it was the studio's 50th animated feature film and as such it nicely combines a bit of the old with the more modern. Like the vast majority of animated films coming out of the House of Mouse, Tangled takes an old fairy tale (in this case Rapunzel from the Brothers Grimm) adds in a few contemporary flourishes (and more than a few songs), gives it a happy ending, and calls it all good. It features

Book Review: Star Trek: New Visions Volume 5 by John Byrne

Byrne understands the essence of what Star Trek is and why the Original Series was so successful.
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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 5 collects issues #12-14 and the story "More of the Serpent Than the Dove," which was previously only

Book Review: For Better or For Worse: The Complete Library, Volume One (1979-1982)

Funny, heartwarming, and familiar, but above all, real.
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Since Lynn Johnston’s For Better or For Worse launched in 1979, it has been syndicated in over 2,000 newspapers worldwide and has received many accolades, including the Gemini Award from the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television and the Order of Canada, the highest honor a Canadian civilian can get, not to mention Johnston’s Pulitzer Prize nomination and her Reuben Award from the National Cartoonists Society. In addition to being the first woman to receive the award, she was also the Society’s first female president. And while it may not be nearly as prestigious or famous of an accolade, For

Book Review: Star Trek: The Classic UK Comics, Volume Three (1972-1979)

A fun space adventure comic that looks like Star Trek but doesn't exactly stay true to its roots.
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I have no doubt that when he created Star Trek: The Original Series Gene Roddenberry was hoping for a smash success. But there is no way he could have known it would have spawned the enormous multimedia empire that continues to this day, some 51 years later. While The Original Series didn’t even manage to finish its “five-year mission,” it did spawn an animated series, five other live-action TV series, six films starring the original cast, four films from The Next Generation, and three films in the rebooted series plus books, comics, magazines, games, and a cultural phenomena. The Original

Book Review: The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard, edited by David A. Goodman

It's as if Jean-Luc Picard wrote it himself.
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Following the success of The Autobiography of James T. Kirk, David A. Goodman explores the background of another well-known and well-respected captain in the Star Trek franchise with The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard. The funny thing about it is, from page one until the end, there is a sinking suspicion that Picard is, in fact, a real person, and he wrote the book himself. Or it could have been Patrick Stewart who went under the radar and penned the book while Goodman provided the editing. Alas, neither are true, but Goodman does capture the voice of Picard pretty well, thus

Book Review: Little Orphan Annie, Vol. 14 (1948-1950): Sunshine and Shadow by Harold Gray

A fun read for the whole family.
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When I last checked in with Little Orphan Annie (in Volume 10), she was busy fighting the war (World War II that is for those of you who don’t keep up with timelines of little red-haired girls in comic strips). With the war over, Annie spends the bulk of Volume 14 pursuing various business ventures, sparring with little mafia hoodlums, befriending a gypsy, taking on book burners, and having lots of other adventures. Created in 1924 by Harold Gray, Little Orphan Annie ran as a daily newspaper strip until its cancellation in 2010. At its height, it was one of

Book Review: Unchained Melody: The Films of Meiko Kaji by Tom Mes

A loving, informative reading on the films of a Japanese icon.
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You first notice the long, straight black hair. Then you see her body: thin, straight, erect. You look past the blade in her hand and gaze into those eyes. Those haunting, cold, beautiful, deadly eyes. This is Meiko Kaji, she’s a fanboy fantasy. A cult Japanese film star beloved by genre fans everywhere and muse to Quentin Tarantino. She starred in nearly 100 films in her long career but she’s best known for her role as the assassin in Lady Snowblood, the murderious Sasori from the Female Convict 701: Scorpion series and a rebel in the Stray Cat Rock films.

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 22: 1964-1965 by Chester Gould

While not the best volume to be introduced to Gould's Dick Tracy, it is entertaining and contains a lot of what made the strip a success.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect The Complete Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, Volume 22 presents the dailies and Sunday strips from August 13, 1964 through to December 26, 1965. The book has an introductory essay by consulting editor Max Allan Collins, "Moon Struck," about the strips collected, which present "the most controversial era" in the strip's history as the lunar-related adventures of Dick Tracy continue. It concludes with contributing editor Jeff Kersten's "The Mystery of the Age (or The Gospel According to Chet)" about matters relating to Gould and the strip during this

Book Review: Ghost in the Shell by Andrew Osmond

An in-depth look into the Ghost in the Shell franchise.
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Ghost in the Shell began life as a manga series that lasted from 1989 to 1997. In 1995, Marmoru Oshii directed the cult film of the same name based on the manga. From there came a video game, a sequel to the movie, a TV series, a movie (and more games) based on the TV series, another different TV series, then games and a move based on that series, and recently an American live action film. And now we have a new book that tries to understand this massive franchise by anime expert Andrew Osmond. It mostly covers the 1995

Book Review: Unchained Melody: The Films of Meiko Kaji by Tom Mes

Arrow Books presents a critical overview of Lady Snowblood's entire career.
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To much of the post-Millennium western cinematic audience, Meiko Kaji was introduced with her voice. Both the theme songs from Lady Snowblood and Female Convict Scorpion were featured in Kill Bill. More than that, Kill Bill's story, structure and visual style (at least in the section in Japan) were all heavily influenced by Lady Snowblood. Ironically enough, though Meiko Kaji did have a successful singing career in the '70s, her most influential contributions have been visual: the way she looked, the way she dressed, embodied a fierce determination and independence that made her stand apart from other Japanese film actresses
It’s rare these days to get your expectations exceeded. Even rarer is to come upon a treasure that elicits both joy and sorrow. This happened to Zachary Auburn and will happen to everyone who ventures into the world of Joshua Chapman and his Field Guide to the Aliens of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the field guide, which hit shelves on September 12, we learn how Zachary Auburn discovered the works of young Chapman and his incredible efforts to share said works with the world. As a fan of Star Trek, I was mildly interested when hearing of A

Book Review: The Art and Making of Kong: Skull Island by Simon Ward

Recommended for the impressive art it showcases.
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Author Simon Ward takes viewers to and behind the scenes of Kong: Skull Island in his book that looks at the “The Art and Making” of the movie, which is now known to be the second installment in Legendary Entertainment's MonsterVerse franchise following Godzilla (2014). Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts wrote the book's Foreword, In it, he tells about pitching his idea for the movie when he “learned they wanted to revive King Kong” and reveals two key principles in the crew's approach to designing the movie in the current media-consuming landscape. They were “strive to elevate beyond expectations” and make “everything...feel

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