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.
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.
Also 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 Triple 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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
At the end of July 2014, Adi Alsaid‘s first mass market novel for teens, LET’S GET LOST, hit shelves. I was first introduced to Adi at Book Expo America a few years ago when randomly at a panel he sat next to me and we struck up a conversation. He handed me his self-published book SOMEWHERE OVER THE SUN which I loved and I saw a future for Adi. Fast forward a few years and that future is here, published by Harlequin, National tour and a marketing campaign that actually featured a physical car decked out as an ad.
LET’S GET LOST tells the tale of a single amazing girl through the eyes of the various people who meet her. Adi Alsaid has an excellent handle at different voices and does so deftly. He is truly a fantastic writer as I originally discovered with his first book. He has an incredible use of word play. You owe it to yourself to seek out both books, but definitely do not miss Let’s Get Lost. It’s the true start of what I think can be a great writer’s career.
Adi was willing to take questions for me for an interview and he provided some really amazing answers. I was able to come up with what I felt were four very meaty analytic questions that also provided more review structure and statements from this fantastic young author.
1.) In your many travels and life through Mexico, California, Vegas and Israel. can you name actual singular favorite locations. Such as favorite restaurant, quiet spot to read, etc.
My favorite bench in the world is in Pacific Grove, California, facing out at the ocean beneath a beautiful tree. An ice cream shop in Tel Aviv called Iceberg has lines out the door past midnight. Vegas has incredible spots to view the sunrise and the sunset. Mexican breakfasts are the best, no matter what kind of restaurant you go into.
2.) What was the journey from writing and self publishing to being picked up by Harlequin? Is there anything you miss from self-publishing? What do you enjoy most about being with a large publishing house?
I went to BEA a few years ago as a struggling writer, just trying to see what the expo was all about, maybe make some connections. At the time, my ex-girlfriend, who’d helped me edit the first book I wrote, SOMEWHERE OVER THE SUN, was working at Simon and Schuster. She invited me to a Young to Publishing party, where I ended up meeting Emilia Rhodes, who would later be my editor at Alloy. A few months, maybe a year, after that party, Emilia and I got in touch and not too long after that I’d written the first half of LET’S GET LOST and a proposal for the second half, which was how Harlequin picked me up.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to garner a ton of support from Harlequin TEEN. They really believe in the book and the reach that they’ve had as far exceeded anything I could have possibly done on my own. I know self-publishing works for a lot of people, but it was not a good fit for me, and I’m thrilled to be where I am now.
3.) You’ve written two books now with multiple perspectives. Although you switched from first to third. Do you have a preference? Was there a particular decision making process of your narrator/perspective decision on LET’S GET LOST compared to SOMEWHERE OVER THE SUN?
I’ve always been drawn to multiple perspectives, as a reader and a writer. I like getting inside people’s heads, and I think my natural inclination is to use as many voices as a given story will allow. I usually prefer third person, although it’s never really a conscious decision, just something that naturally happens when I start writing.
4.) You seem to have a focus on road trips and that experience. How much of your own life has found its way into your work? Do you have any road trip experience (experiences) or people you’ve met you’d still write about? Anything or anyone you’d care to share?
That’s something else that isn’t necessarily a conscious choice. Like Mario Vargas Llosa writes in LETTERS TO A YOUNG NOVELIST, ” The novelist doesn’t choose his themes; he is chosen by them. He writes on certain subjects because certain things have happened to him.” Life experiences definitely work their way into my writing although I usually dress them up in fiction to make them fit the context or be more interesting.
This one I haven’t yet written about, although the character involved is too bizarre to leave out of my writing forever. When I was traveling across the country visiting friends last summer, I was enjoying a cup of coffee in Pasadena when a homeless man started insisting to everyone around the he was the world record holder for thumb pushups. Which is not a thing. Eventually, after lots of ranting on his side and some good-spirited chiding from a group of construction workers nearby, the homeless man, who goes by the name Ohio, whipped his shirt off and started assuming the push-up position, his thumbs stuck out like a hitchhiker’s. The construction workers and I prepared to witness a man breaking his thumbs on the sidewalk of Pasadena. A security guard stood by, a hand on his walkie-talkie. Tourists stepped into the street to avoid Ohio. “We’ll give you a quarter per thumb push up,” the construction workers say, elbowing each other in the ribs, winking behind sunglasses.
Turns out, thumb pushups are a thing, and I fully believe he holds the world record.
Thumb pushups… sound like there’s an entire book in there somewhere. Homeless World Record Olympics? Maybe not the book for Adi, but with his flair for penmanship, I’m sure he could pull it off.
I have not truly amazingly had the luck to actually date many fellow nerds in my life. This isn’t to say I haven’t dated, jut I haven’t dated many nerds. The people who I consider my own. The comic fans, the wrestling fans, the sci-fi fans, the video gamers… now I have been with those people, but generally more than not I’ve been with people who actually were not on the same wave length as me. Not from lack of knowing where to find them, ask them out or any of that. Just the luck of the draw here.
Still I know there are plenty guys out there who can’t even get to that first step or even if they do, what to do next and after that or even after that. When you grow up watching Thundercats, playing Super Mario and reading Booster Gold while rolling dice for a D & D game and discussing the merits of Ric Flair over Roddy Piper on the phone with your friend whose thinking about his acne and multiple allergies, how to go out with the opposite or even same sex is gong to be an art you never really learn.
That’s where THE GEEK’S GUIDE TO DATING by Eric Smith comes into play or at least that how’d I’d sell it if I was a marketing person. Oh wait, I am… but that’s not where I’m coming from in this review.
I’ll admit even I might not be nerdy enough for this book. Some references were completely and totally lost on me. I’ve never been into Firefly, I’m not a big Link fan, I don’t know HALO from a brick in the wall… but I somehow still know what Eric was going for with each reference so it was never completely lost on me.
In many ways this isn’t just a geek’s guide to dating, but a clever voice in just basic logic of dating, understanding the ways and what fors of finding it, going on it and what to do after said date. These are tips that can be used by anyone in our modern social media driven world of Facebook, twitter, Foursquare and more. It’s just painted to attract an audience that would not necessarily go for it while being open enough for a non geek to at least see the the great cover and start skimming to see what it contains, notice how concise the advice is and just be “Huh, I could use this”.
One other great aspect that is a huge selling point to me is the cool Kickpixel pieces. I can’t really say anything about them, they just look awesome especially since I love 8 bit art even if I don’t like 8 bit games. Just look at this piece and if you don’t love it…I don’t know you. Even if you hate it, you still need this book. Actually if you hate it, you need this book more than anyone cause boy oh boy do you need some social tips.
GEEK’S GUIDE TO DATING came out September 3rd from QUIRK BOOKS and is a 5 x9 hardcover priced at $14.95
The YA book THE CREATURE DEPARTMENT is full of fun, excitement, suspense, humor, yummy food, corporate espionage, memories, and lovable folks. The writer Robert Paul Weston really created something absolutely wonderful in prose. A whole new “universe” that is full of more to explore once you’ve put the book down. If the book was just words it would stand strongly and be a worthwhile read, but the art and illustrations made up by Zack Lydon and the entire team at Framestore really made it a book to behold and enjoy.
The most amazing part is that when the book was just in galley format with just possible sketches it truly blew me away. These sketches became paintings and in the case of one Gugor, who has also made appearances at Book Expo America and New York Comic Con 2013 delighting buyers, readers, kids and unsuspecting adults alike, a fully realized CGI model.
The best to show that off is to actually show you some of that development.
Here’s an image of Gugor from the galley:
this is an image of color painting Gugor from the official book trailer:
Here’s a 3D model:
and this is the Final Gugor at Book Expo and then at New York Comic Con where there was an amazing display (which you can see in the image that tops this review/article/presentation):
As charming and as wonderful as these images are they barely capture the essence of the book and the images contained within it (both through the words and the actual illustrations). The book introduces us to an assortment of amazing characters with immense personality and the setting for what could one day be both an amazing series of books as well as an excellent TV series. There is something inherently perfect in super smart kids, above average parents, a crazy scientist and a town that from the outside seems completely normal and quaint but hides an amazing secret, a secret that is actually one that for all we know is actually a reality in our world. I mean seriously, Bacon Chapstick? That sounds like something only a creature could figure out how to make right.
Doing something extra ordinary which one gets acknowledged for does not always happen. Getting acknowledged for feats that belong in a world record book? That happens even less frequently, but it does. Yet, it’s not often that a family garners multiple awards in the Guiness Book of World Records, the only type of record book of its like that I am aware exists. Yet in the Matthew Ward’s hilarious, fun, mysterious, dramatic and adventure romp The Fantastic Family Whipple such a family exists. A large family which has won awards for what may seem like the most mundane of things, such as (as these are ones I’m making up but I’m sure someone in the Whipples won at some point) balancing the most amount of toothsticks on your pinky for the most amount of time or the most amount of chimichongas engorged in the fastest time.
Now imagine if you were a member of this family, a family which has many many brothers and sisters, in age ranges from teenagers to still in diapers. Imagine you are the middle child in such a family and you have never won any award, got no acknowledgment… you are basically the failure of the family. That’s exactly the situation Arthur Whipple finds himself in this “fantastic” Middle grade book written with enough adult humor and easy situations to truly be considered all ages and easily appreciated by a variety of readers. Quickly the book becomes an amalgam of mystery and suspense as the drama and comedy unfolds. We meet many interesting characters AND animals as well as clowns of all shapes and sizes and demeanor along the way.
As a debut novel, Matthew Ward has proven to be a great new voice in the field, and has also been a really enjoyable twitter feed as well as the fact that he’s really funny as a performer as evidenced by his attempts of breaking World Records himself.
THE FANTASTIC FAMILY WHIPPLE came out in August 2013 from Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin, so it’s available NOW at book stores everywhere. Go get it.
And to finish my article here’s my snap of Matt at Book Expo 2013: