Book Expo/Book Con 2018 Video Haul

I recorded a very long display of things I picked up at BookExpo & The Book Con 2018. Along the way telling stories, detailing the books and more. With over 120+ books a cataloging is also planned, but for now enjoy this video.

Book Expo Collage Previews

BookExpo 2018 runs Wednesday (5/30/2018)-Friday (6/1/2018) followed by The Book Con on June 2nd and 3rd.  In advance of excitement I have made two “collages” of books being featured at the shows in some fashion.  This is not everything I am interested but it as example of the show in many showing middle grade, young adult, comics, cook books, memoir, non-fiction and traditional adult fiction.  If you love books keep your eyes open for these covers when they hit your local stores and other places.

The Group of Sadly Forgotten Weirdos who did evil things

Comics have a history of weird, wacky, unusual or even actually lame, annoying and “maybe we’d be better off without but were stuck with them so we better learn to live with it” characters. Some of them only existing for one issue, others despite their complete nuttiness and/or annoying and/or pointlessness lasting for decades. These characters run the gamut from good guys to bad guys to sidekicks to henchmen and even just supporting characters (such as Steve Lombard of DC Comics’ Daily Planet in Superman comics). Some of these characters were just also not as awesome as others, so because of one thing or another they’ve been less highlighted and become lesser known then their counterparts.

In the second volume of a series from Quirk Books by Jon Morris, titled The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains, the author highlights many of these characters on the “evil” side of the board from the Golden Age to today’s comics including Image and Dark Horse. As the introduction suggests, much like in the first volume, these characters are less regrettable then they are possibly forgettable or more unpopular. Per that a slightly more well known Marvel villain Batroc the Leaper is featured in the The Silver Age section of the book. He of maybe anyone in the book seems almost out of place as he’s been featured in a variety of cartoons, had a toy and was even portrayed by one of the few household names in MMA, Georges St. Pierre in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Despite this, the profiles in The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains, are entertaining, at times informative and a wonderful collection focusing on characters what else-wise get the short shaft.

The true highlight of the book is the Golden Age section as if delves deep beyond Marvel and DC to many of the strange and varied companies of the time that published what are now obscure buried treasures in the regrettable factor is that it is regrettable they are not more easily accessible for readers of all pockets and locales. The Golden age has had a fair share of new collections, notably The Green Llama by Dark Horse and the work of Fletcher Hanks (whose character Lepus is featured on the cover of Legion) from Fantagraphics and most recently Craig Yoe’s Super Weird Heroes, a great companion to The Legion of Regrettable Super Villians , in which the originals are remastered, but a lot of the titles featured in Jon Morris’ books have not had that privilege. Therefore the pages and profiles he provides to a far gone past of crazy creation is most welcome as many of these comics would costs 1000s to own because of rarity of existence in this day and ageTo promote the book, Jon has also drawn illios of the first of  the book’s profiles (these excellent illustrations unfortunately are not in the book itself).  One of the editors at Quirk, Rick Chilot has done some as well for marketing. Here are three that I liked (but I like all of them).  Go to @calamityjon and @rickchillot on Twitter for more.

from the anthropomorphic version of Fawcett’s Captain Marvel AKA Shazam titled Hoppy, The Marvel Bunny. Created by Chad Grothkopf, a quality artist of the 30-40’s who also worked on DC Comics

a true golden age classic the book provides pages from the unsung Prize Comics this character was in. the book credits Paul Norris and Dick Sprang, major players in DC’s Golden Age as the creators.

Not to be confused with Batman, he appeared in Police Comics-the home of Jack Cole’s Plastic Man. A creation of what could be also a regrettable creator George Brenner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains by Jon Morris will be available wherever you like to buy books on March 28, 2017 from Quirk Books.  You will regret it if you don’t pick it up for yourself to devour, learn, discover, rediscover, laugh and maybe even cry over these amazing characters of yesteryear and today who coulda been contenders but barely even made it to the ring.

(this review was written from an advance copy of the finished product)

Deaths in Pop-Culture- Jan 2017

2016 was such a hard hitting year of notable actors, authors, musicians, politicians and more that the deaths of 2017 will possibly seem so much less.  Especially in the turmoil of everything happening and when we want to look up the upside of all the fun, exciting good things to come.  Yet, so far alone in the first 25 days of this year we’ve had a share of passings that most of all pop-culture around the world would feel and some in lesser circles but still notable.

In no particular order here are some of them with minor to major details.

Alfonso Wong – A Hong Kong artist born in mainland China, became famous in Asia for the creation Old Master Q.  While not widely known elsewhere it has been translated into English and his work known by fans and inspired creators worldwide.  The BBC did a wonderful covering on his career upon his passing.

Tony Rosato – Comedic Canadian actor who was on SCTV as well as SNL regular for Season 7.  He was also a noted voice actor best known for his role as Luigi in Super Mario cartoons.  He also sadly did a two year stint in prison instead of being given mental health he desperately needed for committing a minor charge of “harassment” against his own wife and slipping through Justice’s cracks

Lynn Phillips – A television writer and journalist.

Babette Cole – British Children’s Author and Artist.

Bill Marshall – Canadian Producer, helped found the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) as well other Canadian film and television mainstays

Phillip Bond – British actor with appearances in Doctor Who (The First), The Avengers, and The Onedin Line

Gorden Kaye – Star of ‘Allo, ‘Allo

Manlio Rocchetti – Italian make-up artist who received the Academy and Emmy award for his work.

Timothy Alan Smith – Professional wrestler who worked under the names Rex King and in the WWE as Timothy Well, 1/2 of the tag team Well Dunn.  (His partner Steve Doll, known as Steve Dunn, passed away in ’09)

Francine York – Beautiful character actress of television and film, notably in Jerry Lewis films.

 Lamar Dupré Calhoun – Rap producer for the group WC and The Madd Circle under the name Crazy Toones.

Buddy Greco –  Recording artist of all genres.  A contemporary of Sinatra and Presley, but never as famous as either.

Pascal Garry – Belgian cartoonist, took over from Peyo on The Smurfs after a two year apprenticeship in Peyo’s studio .

Jimmy Snuka – Fijian professional wrestler known as “Supafly”.  Also a murder suspect and known criminal, passed away without indictment on a reopended trial after being declared mentally unfit.

William Margold – prolific porn actor and director

Butch Trunks – One of the two drummers in The Allman Brothers craziness.

Miguel Ferrer – American actor of film and television including cartoon voice over work.  Major notable roles in Robocop, DC cartoons, Twin Peaks and his final role as Granger, the much loved boss on NCIS: Los Angeles.

Dick Gautier – American actor and voice over actor best known for his work on G.I. Joe and Transformers.

William Peter Blatty – American novelist, screenwriter and director.  Most famous for The Exorcist.  I personally loved John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!

John Watkiss – British Comics and storyboard artist.  Worked for DC Comics, as well as a multitude of movie studios including Disney.  Was working on Surgeon X from Image till his passing.

Harry J. Middleton – best known as President Lyndon B. Johnson’s right hand man.

Yanni Alexis Mardas aka Magic Alex – a guy who somehow convinced The Beatles to let him be part of their entourage and spend lots of Apple Studios money, yet never contributing anything successful other then being that guy who tricked the Beatles.

Shigeru Kōyama – Japanese actor who appeared in many films and television including a Zaotichi, a Godzilla and Ridley’s Scott’s Black Rain.

And as I wrote this entry Mary Tyler Moore, world beloved actress of stage, film and small screen passed away after a long illness.  For many she will be considered the first important death of this year, but I feel all these are as are any I might’ve missed.

In a world of pop-culture with music, television, comics, wrestling, video games, movies and more… there are important figures from agents, to publicists who shall pass.  They all made their mark and all were important so sometimes we must find time to acknowledge them.

 

2017: A Look Ahead

2016 is near its end or it’s over based on when you read this. It was a rough year in many respects, but it gave us a ton of excellent pop-culture. 2017 as of now promises to do the same. There’s SO much to look forward to. To list it ALL would take forever so I thought I’d just focus on a few things here and there.

NETFLIX is hitting hard with a multitude of shows debuting or returning. Amongst them:
Degrassi: Next Class Season 3 – Available January 6, 2017.
A Series of Unfortunate Events: Season 1 – Available Jan. 13
Santa Clarita Diet: Season 1 – Available Feb. 3
Marvel’s Iron Fist: Season 1 – Available March 17
Sense8: Season 2 – Available May 17
Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later- Date TBA

In terms of Network television I can highly recommend the 12th and final season of BONES on FOX premiering Jan 3rd. I’ve seen the first three episodes and they are very hard to comment on without spoilers, but plot twists, reveals, robots and one of the greatest actors of any generation Hal Holbrook are involved.

The reimaginging of the L. Frank Baum saga by Matthew Arnold finally happens with David Schulner (creator of Do No Harm) and so far poorly reviewed but keeps getting work Tarsem Singh at the helm. If anything NBC’s Emerald City looks like it’ll be definite event TV or fail drastically and get cancelled before all 10 episodes even air. One or the other should be fascinating to watch.

legobatman

In terms of films I’d have to say LEGO BATMAN MOVIE is high on my anticipated list. Sure it’s not by the actual writer/directors of Lego Movie (they’re busy making Lego Movie 2) but it has a good pedigree and every teaser and trailer has me excited.

I’m also intrigued by Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. For his first follow-up to Instellar to be a WWII flick is fascinating. It’s also his first SOLO project since Inception as brother Jonathan was busy creating and developing the excellent Westworld. Equally fascinating is the amount of work put into this film. It’s not a remake of the late 60’s film, so it’ll truly interesting to see what stories Nolan chose to build upon to coney emotion, gravitas, and character even when the lead character is still the operation and Dunkirk itself (the film was actually filmed there).

Also pulled in by the adaptation of Dave Egger’s The Circle with Emma Watson and Tom Hanks. James Pontsold makes visually enticing, perfectly paced films and chose the easiest and simplest yet not simple Eggers novels to turn into a film.

There’s a ton of amazing video games coming 2017 too but this site is still without an XBoxOne or PS4 so the focus is on PC games but those that will not require a $5000 rig to run.

First up on the excitement board is Full Throttle Remastered the next rebuild of the classic Lucasart’s games designed by Tim Schaeffer which Double Fine was able to get the IP rights back for. I’m really curious to see how they update some of the worse parts of the game like the combat and the maze puzzles. I’m not completely sold on the art actually but I’ve been happy with DF so far, so I’m in.

Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead Season 3: A New Frontier (First Chapter out, but the rest hits 2017) is awesome. I already reviewed it and I’m excited for the rest.

thimbleweedAlso excited for platform point & clicker A NIGHT IN THE WOODS.
Third person action adventure co-op player TROLL AND I.
2-D Shooter with old school animation CUPHEAD.

and most especially, Ron Gilbert, Gary Winnick, David Fox and teams’ THIMBLEWEED PARK, the pixel point & click dream of a game I think many thought Broken Age would be. I loved Broken Age, always will, but Thimbleweed Park is looking bigger and better then I ever imagined it could be. I didn’t get to back when I wanted to, but I wouldn’t been able to back what I wanted anyways. This is probably number one on my experiences for 2017 I look forward to.

There’s a share of BOOKS coming out as well.

First up two genius female writers tackling heroes from Marvel and DC.

Shannon Hale (with Dean Hale) does The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Meets World and Gwenda Bond comes forth with a third in her awesome Lois Lane series with Tripleflaminglips Threat.

There’s a really cool STEVEN UNIVERSE ORIGINAL GN coming out called TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL by the show’s co-creator Ian Jones-Quarterly, Jeremy Sorese, Asiey Barbie and Josceline Fenton

Michael Crichton’s never before published posthumous novel DRAGON TEETH comes out May 23rd. It’s a Western during western times but about dinosaurs!

Neil Gaiman ventures into both old and new territory retelling the tales of Odin, Thor, Loki and more in NORSE MYTHOLOGY scheduled for February 17.

George Saunders first ever complete novel, LINCOLN IN THE BARDO comes out February 14In music I’m mainly excited for one album.

The new The Flaming Lips titled Oczy Mlody. AFAIK I believe I’m seeing them live in March as well so that makes 2017 awesome.

Armchair Book Expo America: Beyond the Books

Today ABEA calls for bloggers to discuss the bookish things beyond traditional novels that we enjoy.  For me that’s an easy discussion because after I became a reader on my own at a very young age I found myself introduced to comics.

My mind is a bit confused of where my comics love started though.  It is one of two stories.  I don’t know which came first or which was the cementing of “COMICS!!!”, but I’ll tell them both and then how they’ve influenced my life as a writer, blogger, etc.

On the shelf of one of the earliest production companies I worked for as an actor at 12 years old was a copy of Watchmen.  This was in 1988.  The collection was brand new.  Something about it called to me and started reading it and falling in love.  The producer decided if I loved it so much it should be mine if my parents were okay with it.  My parents were weird.  They didn’t seem to care how violent or sexual something was.  I mean I was reading Stranger in a Strange Land before this.  I don’t know if they didn’t know, didn’t care or just trusted my brain to be adult enough to handle it.  I still have that copy of Watchmen today.

There was a comics shop that was fairly large next to the Midway Movie Theater on Queens Blvd in Forest Hills.  As I said I can’t recall if I was already into comics from Watchmen or if Watchmen called to me cause I was into comics.  I do remember this shop really well though.  The location its in is now a restaraunt.  It’s been many things throughout the years.  For the longest time it was a shop though and I shopped there.  The first comic I remember seeing there that BLEW ME AWAY was Scott McCloud’s DESTROY!!.  I knew somehow it was meant to be a pastiche and it was what basically made me appreciate the form from all elements.

By coming into comics through two books that defied what comics were about it prepared me better for an appreciation of all comics.  I like all of it.  Straight forward superhero, autobiographical introspection, sci-fiction, horror, comedy, dark comedy.  What’s wonderful is the format of comics allows it to be as broad and diverse as prose.  There are no rules.  Create something and let it live.

That is books, that is writing, that is creation.  It is why I am still a reader today even with so much media coming at me from movies, television, internet and video games.

BEA 2016: What I’d Get If I Was There

I won’t be able to attend BEA this year. I could not expense for airfare to Chicago as well as hotel near convention center + expenses for 3-5 days, not to mention whatever the costs even with book rate to mail all the following books I’d want (and more) back to NYC. That didn’t stop me from imagining if I was there and writing a little bit of stuff I think folks going should be aware of.

I’m not dropping table numbers or times, if you’re going to BEA you can go the website, log in and use my info that I spent time on to just create your own itinerary  of people who will be there that I want to meet, meet again, and get their latest work in some format.  The list is focused on what I like personally but I like a lot of things so there should be something,.

So without further to do:

Jeffrey Brown, the cartoonist behind many an awesome comics including Bighead and Incredible Change-Bots but who really blew up with his Star Wars humor books debuts the first full length edition of his new series Lucy & Andy Neanderthal.

Jay McInerney (most famous still for Bright Lights, Big City but has six other novels and tons of colums) with Bright, Precious Days… a follow up to The Good Life. (also scheduled to come out in August)

George Saunders, the noted essayist with his DEBUT novel Lincoln in the Bardo, not coming out till Feb 2017. There’s lots of books I’d want at BEA, but this to have in hand so early AND to meet Saunders? *sigh *

Gene Luen Yang with a second Secret Coders book. Really fun stuff here.

Eoin Colfer‘s IRON MAN aka Iron Man:The Gauntlet scheduled to come out in October and which has been a very hyped book makes it ARC debut and Eoin will be in attendance to sign too. The Gauntlet seems like a great read.

Bill Ayers, former member of the weatherman group, professor and political activist will be there with his latest Impossible! A Radical Manifesto.

Aaron Reynolds, a great Children’s book author gets teamed up with awesome artists always, for his next book coming out and presented at BEA, President Squid, he worked with Sara Varon, so totally a picture book I’d be happy to own.

Skottie Young will have the collected I Hate Fairyland Vol. 1 that he’ll be signing. I LOVED this book in floppy. To have a collected edition with probably a little sketch in it too? But again alas.

Here’s a major one, Ransom Riggs, author of Pecular Children (also a major upcoming film) will be there with upcoming hotly anticipated Tales of the Peculiar. An awesome side book.

Judd Winnick, of Marvel comics, Frumpy the Clown, Barry Ween fame will be at the Expo promoting book two in his awesome HILO series.

Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close will be there with his latest Here I Am scheduled for a September release.

Kenny Loggins, the musician extraordinaire has turned Footloose into a a children’s book.

Raina Tegelmeier, the artist/writer of Smile, Drama, and Sisters brings her latest Ghosts, which comes out in September.

Dav Pilkey, of Captain Underpants fame, brings the latest side comic “created by George and Harold” with Dog Man scheduled for August.
Matthew Reinhart, king of the pop-up, tackles LEGO in his latest which comes out September.

Box Brown, cartoonist of Andre, Legend, Bellen and more, tells another comic book story of a major icon with Tetris! Out in October.

And as a final note, on an Author stage:

Berkeley Breathed, the Bloom County cartoonist, collects the NEW strips and presents them in a talk with Scott Dunbier.

All of you going to BEA who read this.  Have fun.  Those of you in my place, well, there you are.

Post BEA via Video

Peculiar Children are the best kind

nybest-missp_0With 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.

hollowcity_final_72dpiOn 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)

 

 

The Lies We Tell Ourselves (Little Black Lies review)

Psychiatry1-a2305623b3 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.