Book Expo America and Book Con 2015 are right around the corner. Seriously right around the corner, starting this Wednesday, May 27th at 1 PM till Sunday at 5 PM if you are attending both shows.
Coming in at the sixth year in a row attending the show PCS is still under prepared. No matter how many tip articles you read and there are MANY good ones (including the one posted back in 2011 on this site which still applies in some ways) once you arrive all common sense goes out the window, but in the best way. While there is a lot of business being conducted, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. You are in a building full of people who love books, write books, sell books, review books and more. Even the shyest person will find ways to break out of their shell.
This year instead of doing a huge preview of the show PCS has made the schedule it will be working off of for both events as a public Google Doc.
There are a few personal highlights for this site though and maybe you’ll come to them and support my friends.
Long time family friend Colin Rath will be signing copies of his IT IS WHAT IT IS on Friday from 1-1:30 PM at Autographing Table 14. The book tells the story of he and his family’s incredible adventure through Manhattan real estate. He and his wife are amazing people and their story is inspirational and powerful one telling you to never let dreams die. Even if you are not at BEA it is a book to indeed get your hands on staring May 26th, 2015.
Ernie or Ernest Cline is a best selling author for his READY PLAYER ONE. He also wrote the screenplay for the troubled but entertaining film FANBOYS. His next book arrives on July 14th, 2015 but he will be signing copies at Penguin Randomhouse’s Booth (3119) on Thursday, from 10-11 PM. This writer first met Ernie back in his slam poetry days at the URBANA slam hosted at Bowery Poetry Club encountering his early work and becoming an immediate fan and occasional friend.
Here is a list of some the celebrities from film, television, music and culinary, the major focuses of PCS that will make appearances at the con in no particular order: Bernadette Peters, Felcia Day, BJ Novak, John Leguizamo, Mindy Kailing, Bobby Flay, Carol Alt, Lisa Jakob, Christie Brinkley, Emeril Lagasse, Karen Finley, Adam Carolla, Nick Offerman, Judah Friedlander, Abigail Breslin, Shane Dawson, Aziz Ansari, Jason Segel.
As you can see quite the line up. I’m exhausted just thinking about it… but it’s all worth. So if you’re there, have fun and love your books.
With the film in production and a soon to come cover reveal on the forthcoming third book, I felt I needed to truly finally get my thoughts around Ransom Riggs‘ series from my mind to the page. To explain something that is a time travel, alternate universe, super powered teenage romance tale built around found photographs hasn’t been easy. For a Young Adults tale it’s as dense, complicated and yet as mesmerizing as it may or may not sound to your fertile soul.
Pulling from photographs which you have no personal connection to but convey a lot to develop characters and plot was one of the most fascinating things ever. I can’t recall without referencing it how much of a story Ransom devised without the photos, but I don’t think it matters because it’s the final product that is the work. That work evoked to me in both books a formulation of so many genres and structures I’ve loved that I couldn’t hate it if I wanted. The title of the original series coyly or not feels like it could be referencing Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Children, but really that is where the connection stops in terms of plot. Following the lead character in his discovery of his grand father’s mystery, the existence of nightmarish creatures, a plane locked in a time loop, young men and women with extraordinary abilities trained by a school mistress who is way more Nanny McPhee than female Professor X all the way to the shocking end of the first book and the exciting but tragic second Miss Peregrine’s I felt like I was reading a comic book in prose format.
Amazingly within this crazy world which also finds itself in war torn WWII England, reveals shape changers, curious characters and a deep evil group that represents a world even larger than presented to lies a coming of age tale of a forbidden, impossible but miraculous young love. This relationship is not the kind you find in other young adult novels though. There is truly a twist to it that makes the fact that while as important as the action, adventure and threat to the world is… love is just as important, if not more so.
The upcoming third book in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series is titled Library of Souls and is scheduled for September of 2015. I can only begin to imagine how Riggs will up the ante after the happening in the second book Hollow City.
On top of that third book as I mentioned a film is in production. It’s not just any film though, as it is poised to possibly be a major feature. Now it could easily go the direction of two ways in terms of success, but when it comes to quality it should be amazing. I personally think every film based on a modern popular YA series (published within the last 15 years) has had its merits. This film has quite the pedigree helping it happen though and has me quite excited to see it brought to life on the big screen. The story was adapted into a screenplay by Matthew Vaughn’s writing partner Jane Goldman who assisted on adapting Neil Gaiman’s romantic magical fantasy Stardust and Mark Millar’s teenage action series Kick-Ass as well as on her own the recent version of Susan Hill’s classic horror thriller Woman in Black. Taking that script into a film is Tim Burton who has been way more hit than miss in recent years and will be guided by the same production team who delivered St. Vincent and have his regular editor, as well as Danny Elfman on board for the music. The cast is pretty exciting as well, while the leads are important, it needs to be noted Judi Dench, Samuel Jackson, and Terrance Stamp will be in important minor roles. In the main roles though are future Spider-Man and former Hugo of Hugo Cabret, Asa Butterfield.. .who also played Ender, so he’s building quite the resume as lead characters from quality novels; Eva Green who has been building herself a good career plays the title Miss Peregrine (interesting side note, Asa played Mordred in TV series Merlin… while Eva played Morgan in the TV series Camelot); the third lead is played by Ella Purnell, an up & coming young actress who has played a young Keira Knightley and a young Angelina Jolie.. (so yeah, she’s quite pretty) and has been lauded for being a great actress on top of her looks. I’ve seen photos of her from shoots unconnected to Miss Peregrine and she truly embodies Emma Bloom.
One of the things I feel I must address more before closing off is the use of fascinating found photography in the book. It truly turns Miss Peregine’s books from powerful prose about super powered teenagers, love and time travel into something else. These photos are all real and have their own story… a story that is not the story of Ransom Riggs book. One can build upon the story in each photograph and add layers not there, tangents explored only by each readers imagination and they truly add to the series. As a photographer myself and a lover of other photographers and just photography as a whole it pulls me in. Even in my own collection I have photos I don’t recall taking of people, places, things and they are weird and eerie. Tricks of the light, weird optical illusions happened in shooting, processing or developing the photo be it old style film or digital. It is this aspect that has brought me back to these books more than once after reading them despite the series being only 4 years old in publication and I think the same would go for anyone.
Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children & Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (published by Quirk Books) are both available now in hardcover and paperback from all booksellers.
(I close with an accidental photo I have shot years ago and loved after seeing it in my roll, which I have no answer for but I feel tells a story, one even more fascinating then if I knew what it was I meant to photograph originally)
I just finished the demo for Technobabylon which you can get off their website or on STEAM:
It was one of the best p & c demos I’ve played yet. It was an amazing teaser that showed the games mechanics and revealed a clever puzzle thought mover with an epic story.
Here’s the official text on it:
City of Newton, 2087. CEL agents Charlie Regis and Max Lao are investigating a serial Mindjacker who is tapping into the neural wiring of seemingly ordinary citizens, stealing their knowledge and leaving them dead. An agoraphobic net addict named Latha Sesame might be the next target. But when Charlie’s past comes back to haunt him, he and his partner find themselves on opposite sides of the law, with Latha’s fate in the crossfire. All three of these characters are introduced in the demo, and you’ll get to play as two of them. Blade Runner meets Police Quest in Technobabylon, a slick point & click adventure that blends past and future with its retro-styled pixel art and intense cyberpunk plotline. Technobabylon sets you loose in a world where ‘wetware’ wires people directly to the web, where the cerebral online Trance has replaced almost any need for human interaction, where the city’s omnipresent AI, Central, has eyes on everyone and everything — a world that could someday be ours. Learn more at the official website.
PREORDERS Through May 21, Technobabylon is available for preorder from the official website (http://www.technobabylon-game.com/preorder) and GOG (http://www.gog.com/news/preorder_technobabylon). The $14.99 preorder includes a digital soundtrack and behind-the-scenes goodies.
Between March 30th and April 7th, 2015 the world saw three major character actors of pop-culture and also cult fame leave their mortal coil. As a child of the 80’s and 90’s these men left an impression of my mind.
Robert Z’dar, he of the huge chin because of his birth defect aka cherubism was part of some of my favorite films, and played a cop, gangster, and more over the years. Z’dar actually had a pivotal role in my second favorite film TANGO & CASH in which his appearance was very important to the character and made him even more menacing. Tom Towles, a man who also played killers, cops and more, got his name out to the world in HENRY: Portrait of a Serial Killer, but made the most impact on me in the sci-fi horror THE BORROWER. Towles also became known better in later years as the cop in Rob Zombie’s horror films. Finally, James Best who became best known as Roscoe P. Coltrane, one of two antagonists on THE DUKES OF HAZZARD. Throughout the 50’s and 60s, Best was a regular guest star on many a western and crime drama ranging from The Lone Ranger to Perry Mason.
After Towles passing I envisioned he and Z’Dar meeting up in whatever afterlife may or may not exist for a comedy horror about two bungling cops who shoot first and never ask questions. I couldn’t get myself to draw it though. Then Best died and I felt he’d easily work in the fictional film/show and I knew I had to do something as a tribute. PCS does LOTS of art (most of it wrestling inspired) but rarely posts it here. I feel in honor of these three men I must share this tribute which is incomplete, but says everything I want it to say.
Psychiatry has long be a part of some of my favorite TV shows and sometimes they’ve coincided with murder mysteries. From Private Pr active to more recently Perception, the secrets hidden in the brain that have been studied by the practices of psychology, psychiatry and neurology have fascinated me. Not from a clinical standpoint but strictly from the entertainment standpoint. One of the greatest things I’ve always really enjoyed is how these people in the field of psych either studying normal behavior or in more extreme cases (and on TV that’s always the case) solving a crime are as messed up both psychologically and emotionally as the people they are helping or trying to capture.
With all this in mind knowing what I love, delving into LITTLE BLACK LIES by Sandra Block seemed a no brainer. On the cliched “check system”, it hits pretty much everything I just stated. A psychiatrist (albeit still a resident) who is emotionally messed up as well as a slew of chemical dependencies and a dark past having her on a slew on prescriptions and seeing a psychologist herself suddenly finds herself embroiled in a mysterious crime where the killer is known, but not the motive.
Written in a first person narrative, Sandra Block gives us a very like-able and appealing protagonist in Dr. Zoe Goldman with an intriguing cast of fellow doctors, family, patients, and suitors. Each chapter as structured actually feels like an episode in a mini-series one could see running on USA Network, Lifetime, ION, Oxygen or what have you. Amazingly it also surprised me with each twist and turn. Just as I thought I had it all worked out, I didn’t completely fill the puzzle together. I actually even thought maybe I was losing my mind, but I think that was partially the point and it was a worthwhile feeling to reach the conclusion.
While reading it and then reflecting I am actually brought back to the final line of the story. It isn’t actually a spoiler, it more speaks to the entire tale and every character in it and what it is trying to convey through many actions and occurrences. “We are all a little crazy”. It’s so true… but if we weren’t, I don’t think we could enjoy the stories to begin with.
LITTLE BLACK LIES by Sandra Block is from Grand Central Publishing and available now for $15.
In 1998 I was in third year of college and working hard. I’m not even sure how I found time for video games, but I did and on top of that heap was Grim Fandango. Up to that point I was a Lucasarts adventure game for lifer starting back with Loom. When Grim Fandango came out I can’t really remember the marketing at all, but I knew the Day of the Dead plot and that it was from the mind of the same person who made Day of the Tentacle and Full Throttle and that was enough for me to grab it up for whatever probably outdated PC I had at the time.
Truthfully though I don’t think I ever beat it. I do remember being amazed by the music though. Peter McConnell at that point had cemented his abilities with various LucasArts games but he seemed to become super inspired through Fandango’s mexican jazz and noir influences. That music would stay with me for years past ever actually touching the game. What also got me was that voice acting. At that point the lead, Tony Plana was a pretty established character actor with multiple film and TV appearances and an impeccable voice for comedic timing while still coming across as serious. Equally Alan Blumenfield who at the time was also one of those character actors who fell under the “hey, it’s that guy” was just perfect as the super energetic bounce off Plana’s cool and collected. The rest of the cast was full of known acors as well, but what stood out for me then and NOW was Pamela Segall. That was the coup of the voice casting, she was a former child actor and known cartoon voice actress at the time so hearing that she would be part of Grim was exciting. Honestly though I don’t know if I ever got far enough in the game to actually hear her in 1998. Those tank controls were… well, like controlling a tank. A headache and a half. I don’t care what Tim Schafer thinks… they aren’t fun. They’re a new device never used in an adventure game adding to the difficulty, but they also took away from the fun and ability to enjoy his clever script, engaging puzzles and curious plot.
Thankfully, in 2015 that all got fixed with Grim Fandango Remastered. Over the years I’ve tried using the fan made systems to play Fandango on new windows and even tried the fan made P&c scheme, but it just never felt… right. Multiple crashes and other doohickey annoyances made it nigh impossible to finish… even more than the the old tank controls.
While Remastered allowed me to finally play Fandango from start to finish without having to rely on tank controls even then it wasn’t completely easy. The game is difficult and has certain puzzles that were more annoyances then puzzle solving (ex: the section getting past skeleton tigers, and in the same general area, following an arrow). So it wasn’t the game I loved. In retrospect now as I sit here thinking of the experience, the game is actually not fun… but the acting, the script, the characters really just propel you to go forward. Some of the logic puzzles are equally obtuse as any adventure game, but the way they play out are either funny or justified in a way that made me continue and nod in a “allright, that works”.
What really makes Remastered special isn’t being able to play in a new game style way though. It’s the extras and bonuses. The commentary tracks are amazing and cover so much ground. There are interviews with not just Tim or Peter, but also the designers, the programmers, the casting & voice director and everyone in between. The making of the game is truly explored in fun and interesting ways along with a large gallery of design art including unused cut scenes and a full storyboard. On top of that the amazing soundtrack has truly be remastered and in cases re-recorded using a symphony guided by McConnell. It’s a wonder to hear and behold and makes playing so worth it.
The only thing not included (as far I could tell) was the original puzzle document. Fortunately that wondrous piece is still on the internet. Don’t read it till you’ve beaten the game though.
GRIM FANDANGO Remastered is currently available on PC/Mac and Linux DRM-Free and Steam as well on PS4 and PS Vita for $14.99.
Many big sites have looked at the 2015 Amazon Pilot season, but they will either focus on one set of genres, or review ONE particular program OR if they did an article on all the offering they were written from different voices instead of a singular eye so that you get a real judge of the series because you can tell what the writer liked or didn’t like instead of individuals snippets from varying viewpoints. Which can be good in some cases, but in something where Amazon is asking or at sort of asking what people think, I’d like to hear the opinion of each person on EACH show.
So here is that exactly. I sat through every offering (including the stuff for the toddler set, but I have nothing to say on those) from the Amazon pilots of 2015 (even the ones for the kiddies, not that I lasted long) and came up with a concise overview of each program, even delving a little further if the show I felt had merit for that
Mad Dogs: Definitely a keeper . Although it seems that it’s actually a remake of a UK series, I have to assume Shawn Ryan has some intriguing twists for it to make its own thing. Also Steve Zahn, Michael Imperiloli and Romany Malco bounding off each other with Ben Chapin in the more straightman role could be awesome stuff. The last 15 minutes set up what could be a really amped up show and very different that the original UK version from what I can recall.
COCKED: Another Brilliant production. It’s got that HBO/Showtime Dramedy feel to it and Jason Lee delivers but Sam Trammel really shines here. This is definitely without even seeing the other pilots a top contender. Co-created by Sam Shaw (creator of Manhattan) and Samuel Baum (creator of Lie To Me), with direction by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer). I hope these Amazon pilots have a first look pass thing cause if this one doesn’t get picked up for a run I think HBO, Showtime or Netflix would want it.
NIKO and the Sword of Light: OMG! This is amazing. Based off an app available for iPad, Android Tablets, etc (I always wanted it but I only have an iPhone). It was adapted by the original team and some major animation players as well as Titmouse, Stellar, Legendary well known voice cast too with Jim Cummings (Winnie the Pooh), Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad’s Klaus), Steve Blum, Kevin Michael Richardson, Corey Burton and Tom Kenny.
Table 58: This one is definitely for the younger set, but it’s premise seems like it’d fit great on Nick or DisneyXD, but on Amazon maybe they can go special places with it. The adult actors really help as there’s a Groundling, a former cast member of MadTV and two character actors who you’ve seen in something in J.P. Manoux and Sean O’Ryan. It’s over the top humor and the six outcasts kids are great. It was also directed by Gil Under, best known for 10 Things I hate About You and written by May Chan, a staff writer on Phineas & Ferb.
The NEW YORKER Presents: Worth seeing for intriguing segments. Most especially Jonathan Demme bring this article to life and the sketch with Alan Cumming written by Simon Rich (Humorist, former SNL writer, Screenwriter) . It basically really is like the magazine come to life. So if a series, probably hit or miss. I always thought like this is cool though. VICE has a series like it. McSweeney’s curated WHOLPIN was much like it. Worth a view.
Salem Rogers, Model of the Yeat 1998: This show is no good, but at the 25 minute mark you get a bare assed Leslie Bibb in color and in motion and for that? YAY. Rachel Dratch is fun too, but not enough to make this a keeper.
Just Add Magic: I’m not familiar with the book this was based on but after looking the book up they basically only used the premise to come up with what sounds like an “Eastwick” for the tween set. The highlight for the adult viewer is Amy Hill ( a face and voice almost anyone would recognize if not her name) as what appears would be the series “villain”. If it’s between this and Table 58, Table 58 is the front runner though.
The Man in the High Castle: I’m on the fence on my feelings about this. It’s quite a Loose adaptation of the novel indeed, basically using the characters, concept and some of the plotlines but then throwing away pretty much everything else to create its own series which would now be unpredictable as it adds elements never in the original book. Development hell on this too since Scott has been trying to get it made through first BBC, then SyFy before this. Against COCKED and MAD DOGS I’d choose either of them over this, but as long as Amazon (and people) doesn’t approve that horrendous Point of Honor, that was utter drek.
Niko vs. Mugwump
From a galaxy far, far away, Lucasfilm announces discovery of the IMPERIAL HANDBOOK,
filled with secret intelligence for the Commanders of the Imperial Military
New York, NY: October 6, 2014: This fall, just in time for the holiday season, Lucasfilm™ announces the release of STAR WARS: IMPERIAL HANDBOOK, the latest artifact to come from INSIDE the STAR WARS® universe. From the book producers who unearthedTHE JEDI PATH and BOOK OF SITH comes the newest discovery from a galaxy, far, far away . . . . a guide for Commanders of the Imperial Military.
The Empire has taken hold of the galaxy. Soon, with the completion of the Death Star, its control will be absolute. In preparation for this Imperial expansion, high-ranking officials from each branch of the Imperial Military have set down tactical guidelines and procedures as well as collected mission reports and classified documents for all newly ascending commanders.
In the wake of the Battle of Endor, members of the Rebel Alliance intercepted this top-secret instructional manual and have circulated it among their own commanders, who have added notes and commentary in the margins.
Housed in a protective case, this rare glimpse into the military governance and philosophy of the Empire offers a unique perspective no matter which side of the rebellion you’re on.
The STAR WARS: IMPERIAL HANDBOOK Deluxe Edition produced by becker&mayer! in collaboration with Lucasfilm, New York Timesbestselling author Daniel Wallace, and celebrated STAR WARS illustrators takes fans inside the world of the Imperial Military. To heighten the drama of the text’s backstory, THE STAR WARS: IMPERIAL HANDBOOK Deluxe Edition is housed within a sleek mechanical case. With the touch of a button, top of the case slides open accompanied by lights and authentic STAR WARS sounds, revealing the book within.
Fans can order the Deluxe Edition on beckermayer.com now. This edition is also available at most other major retailers just in time for the holiday season. STAR WARS fans will enjoy the creativity, innovation, and superb quality of this handbook as they gain new insights into the practices and philosophies of the Imperial Military.
STAR WARS: IMPERIAL HANDBOOK by various high-ranking Imperial Officials (& New York Times bestselling author Daniel Wallace), becker&mayer! 160 pages, ISBN-10: 1603803408, ISBN-13: 978-1603803403, $99.99, Fully illustrated-color illustrations, National on-sale date: October 14, 2014; Available at www.beckermayer.com and at most major retailers
Imperial writers: Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, High General Cassio Tagge, Admiral Wullf Yularen, Admiral Conan Antonio Motti, and TX-5532
Rebel Alliance annotators: Jan Dodonna, General Madine, General Rieekan, Wedge Antilles, Leia Organa, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Mon Mothma.
Daniel Wallace is a comic book expert, sci-fi sage, and lifelong geek. Author or co-author of more than two dozen books including The Jedi Path, Man of Steel: Inside the Legendary World of Superman, DC Comics Year by Year, Iron Man Manual, and the New York Times bestselling Star Wars: The New Essential Guide to Characters, his specialty is exploring the underpinnings of popular fictional universes. An avid genre fan, he has also worked as a professional contributor in the realms of Indiana Jones, Smallville, and Supernatural.
For more than 25 years, becker&mayer! LLC has created hundreds of innovative books that inform and entertain readers of all ages. THE JEDI PATH is one of several dynamic STAR WARS tie-ins created this year by the Bellevue, Washington–based book packagers becker&mayer! Visit www.beckermayer.com for more information.
Lucasfilm, the Lucasfilm logo, Star Wars and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. TM & © 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. Used under authorization. All other trademarks and trade names are properties of their respective owners.