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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

Book Review: TV Finales FAQ by Stephen Tropiano and Holly Van Buren

All that's left to know about the endings of your favorite TV shows.
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The Applause FAQ series of books typically make for good reads and resources for fans of a particular pop-culture franchise, such as Star Wars and Doctor Who, or of a musical artist, like our own Kit O’Toole’s Michael Jackson FAQ. Stephen Tropiano and Holly Van Buren have created a book that appeals to fans of TV itself, a very smart idea as it widens the potential audience. I mean who doesn’t love TV. (And what's wrong with them?) In their “Introduction” to TV Finales FAQ, the authors reveal their intention to “provide insight into how a series finale came to

Kristen's Book Club for October 2016

What's worth reading in October?
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Feel that chill in the air? It's time to grab a mug of tea and curl up with a good book. Here are a few worth checking out. Thirty-Eight Witnesses: The Kitty Genovese Case by A.M. Rosenthal Fifty-two years has passed since Catherine Genovese was viciously murdered as 38 witnesses heard her cries for help, and did nothing. Originally published in the wake of the Genovese murder, New York Times editor A.M. Rosenthal's landmark text on the case is being republished in light of the recent documentary on the subject (boasting the same name). Rosenthal died in 2006 but in

Book Review: Batman: Facts and Stats from the Classic TV Show by Y.Y. Flurch & Rian Hughes

Fun and colorful, just like the TV show.
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This year marks the 50th anniversary of Batman, the TV show based on the popular comic book character. Batman is the best of all the Batman properties. Adam West is the best Batman. The movie starring him is the best Batman movie. Part of what makes the show so good is that it's a humorous take on Batman. It's campy and fun and a real funny parody of superhero entertainment from decades before such a parody was necessary. Now, Rian Hughes and Y.Y. Flurch have combined for the book Batman: Facts and Stats from the Classic TV Show. The book

Book Review: The Amazing Spider-Man: The Ultimate Newspaper Comics Collection Vol. 3, 1981-1982 by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Fred Kida

Stan Lee contributes his most original stories to date, aided by great incoming artist Fred Kida.
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After taking over the art duties from comic strip originating artist John Romita Sr., Stan Lee’s brother Larry Lieber continued his run for a little over a year before passing the baton to Fred Kida. Lieber’s concluding months open this latest volume, but Kida contributed the lion’s share of the art presented here. While I wasn’t particularly impressed with Lieber’s subpar art in the prior volume, he settled into his role and contributed solid if unspectacular line work for this volume. I had no familiarity with Kida prior to this book, so expected very little and was pleasantly surprised by

Paperback Review: Madeline Kahn - Being The Music, A Life by William V. Madison

A genuine and uncompromising biography of one of the most legendary women in the history of comedy.
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As we all know, Madeline Kahn was a genius, a trailblazer, and a comedy icon. We fell in love with her ever since we saw her on the stage, and especially on the silver screen in such comedy classics as What's Up Doc? (1972) and Young Frankenstein (1974). The Academy certainly adored her when they nominated her for Best Supporting Actress for both Paper Moon (1973) and Blazing Saddles (1974). In these films and others, she proved that women can be funny and hilarious, as well as dedicated and intelligent to their craft. But, there was so much more to

Book Review: Star Trek: The Classic UK Comics, Volume 1 (1969-1970)

I'd highly recommend looking inside Volume 1 before buying it.
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In the episode “The Alternative Factor,” from the first season of the Original Series, the Enterprise crew have their first encounter alternative universes when they meet Lazarus and Lazarus. In the second season's “Mirror, Mirror,” viewers were presented alternative versions of Kirk, Spock, and other crew members. This tried-and-true science fiction trope needs to be kept in mind when reading Star Trek: The Classic UK Comics Volume 1 (1969-1970) because these strips are a close variation of the Original Series, like the Gold Key comics. In his introduction to the book, Rich Handley provides the history of the weekly UK

Kristen's Book Club for September 2016

What's worth reading this month?
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School's starting up and if you have kids that means you'll actually have time to read something. (And if you don't have kids you might already be reading.) Here are two great books worth making time for this month. I Lost It at the Video Store: A Filmmakers' Oral History of a Vanished Era by Tom Roston I'm a fan of oral histories because they capture the voice of those involved, describing their own individual views to create a richer, wider whole. Contradictions can abound as the passage of time allows each participant to see things they way they either

Kristen's Book Club for August 2016

What's hot on the shelves this month?
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The summer is winding down and school is only a few weeks away. Here's what's worth reading as you shop for "back to school stuff." Razzle Dazzle by Michael Riedel "Give my regards to Broadway" and to Michael Riedel for creating funnest, authoritative book on the history of the Great White Way. Razzle Dazzle is a compact history of Broadway, from its formation through the early 2000s. His primary focus is on the Shubert family - Broadway's biggest landlord and name behind the powerful Shubert Organization - and how a couple Jewish brothers turned Broadway into a corrupt, but highly

Kristen's Book Club for July 2016

What's worth reading this month
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The sun is out and the temperature's rising. What better way to spend your time than with a good book? This month I have four film-themed books worth checking out! The Lost Detective: Becoming Dashiell Hammett by Nathan Ward Best known as the author of The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man, author Dashiell Hammett created detectives evoking the real world, a world both shadowy and connected to Hammett himself. Nathan Ward's The Lost Detective gives audiences a glimpse at Hammett through the prose he work. As a former operative for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, Hammett's first novels saw him

Book Review: The Nice Guys: The Official Movie Novelization by Charles Ardai

Enjoyable adaptation of the crime comedy that gives readers a new slant on the movie.
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I know it may be difficult for some of you to understand, but there was a time when home entertainment wasn't on demand. When a movie left theaters, the only way you could watch something at home is when TV stations would air them. This would result in the film being edited for content or time. Think about it, there was no Internet so you couldn’t stream anything. There wasn’t even any DVDs, Blu-rays or VHS for that matter. The only way people were able to enjoy their favorite movies at their leisure was through novelizations. When done right, the

Book Review: The Complete Steve Canyon, Volume 6: 1957-1958 by Milton Caniff

Caniff has a good sense of drama, suspense, and humor that keeps the reader seeking the next strip.
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Since January 2012, the Library of American Comics, by way of IDW Publishing, has been releasing collections of Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon comic strips, which had an impressive run of 41 years. I was first introduced to U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Canyon in Volume 4 where I read about his international exploits. He was a character of his era. A man with nothing but good, noble traits, who left a trail of broken hearts because nearly every woman he encountered wanted him for her own. That includes Poteet Canyon, Steve's teenage ward, who was introduced in 1956. I missed

Kristen's Book Club for June 2016

What's worth reading in June?
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From a romantic adaptation to the world of classic Hollywood, here's a trio of titles worth taking to the beach with you in June. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes In the interest of full disclosure, I entered into reading Jojo Moyes' incredibly popular novel with a heavy dose of trepidation. As a disabled person myself, I abhor reading stories that take disabled characters and use them as inspirational totems and that's what Me Before You is. Adapted and set for release in cinemas on June 3rd, the story follows Louisa "Lou" Clark (set to be played by Emilia Clarke)

Book Review: Hollywood Cafe: Coffee with the Stars by Steven Rea

A coffee table book about coffee and the stars who drink it.
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Author Steven Rea has collected photos of over 200 Hollywood stars enjoying coffee in his book Hollywood Café: Coffee with the Stars. Rea has crafted a very funny and witty introduction to the book where he playfully mocks the modern-day hipster attitude of this timeless beverage. He discusses how he has chosen the photos for the book and the fact that he has done his due diligence in making sure to the best of his knowledge that the stars in the book are indeed enjoying coffee and not another beverage. Rea also explains how he has broken down the book

Book Review: Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic by J.B. Kaufman

No lie. This is a great book.
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In his introduction, author J.B. Kaufman reveals that he considers Walt Disney’s Pinocchio (1940) a member of “the fraternity of true epics,” alongside D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance, Erich von Stroheim’s original Greed, and Abel Gance’s Napoleon, and he certainly makes the case with his definitive examination presented in Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic. He starts at the beginning, going back to the 19th century when writer Carlo Lorenzini took the name the Tuscany village he grew up, “Collodi,” as his pseudonym under which he published “The Story of a Puppet.” As stated in the foreword by John Canemaker, an
I missed the Firefly bandwagon back when it initially aired, probably because I didn't have cable at the time or something. I recently dove into it on Netflix and wrapped up the series and Serenity movie just in time for Titan Books to release Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Dictionary and Phrasebook in the 'Verse and explain a great many things to me. Heck, the title alone showed me that Netflix's subtitles were wrong -- it's spelled "gorramn," not "gorram." Across 160 pages bound in a gritty and embossed, tactilly satisfying hardcover backing, we're treated to glossy stills of the crew

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