On June 9th, 2011 I went out to Random House’s first “Blogger’s Night Out”" event in celebration of the upcoming book FRENCH LESSON by Ellen Sussman.
While I sadly left my camera inside my bag, I hope my words can paint enough a wonderful picture.
First let me state that the Bertelsman Random House building is insane. The lobby is book porn heaven! This is what a true book enthusiast with money to burn would do with their mansion. One could stare at the set-up and the limited editions and everything forever, even with it under glass, lock and key.
The event was held in one of the conference rooms which are also covered in amazing book shelves displaying every kind of book Random House has published since 1925.
There was a wonderful spread with cheeses of all kind, plenty of wine, grapes, blackberries, strawberries, all very french, very apropos for la fete. There were also pitchers of a delicious sweet drink with black berries that I think I might’ve had at least 5 cups of, it was that good.
To celebrate the France aspect of everything , there were tables promoting RH’s Living Language series as well as a Fodor’s table with both their France and Paris books on display and available.
Ellen did a wonderful presentation detailing the background of the book, where the research came from, where the roots of the plot came from and how she included much of her real life into a fictional narrative she felt carried the tale stronger and much more compellingly than her sweet and happy life. She sold the book very well and I look forward to reading it.
Meeting all the various publicity and marketing folks at RH was fabulous and all the book bloggers and guests were equally exciting. I had some really great conversations with everyone about everything one could think of.
A fantastic night with an awesome gift bag as well containing the audiobook of French Lessons, and other books and magazines pertaining to France capped the evening perfectly.
High School romances are a tricky practice. Telling quality stories about Highschool romance are an even trickier practice. They’re set-up to be hokey automatically. Looking at any of the best romantic comedy films movies about people in High School and falling in love, they have a penchant for cheesiness and ridiculous. The best of them seem to have a penchant for staying charming or endearing through their supporting characters and just something inherent.
Imagine if they tried to do that in a graphic novel, but also throw in a supernatural element. That addition could easily bring things over the top in silliness, but delicately balances that edge between sweet and ridiculous.
I was attracted to wanting to look at this after researching the online art of Eldon Cowgur. I was not familiar with him before this, but the cover pulled me in and when I saw his webcomic Astray3 I knew I had to see what he would do with a longer format comic.
While it was Eldon’s art that brought me in, he actually had a variety of flaws in art in such a larger format. Nothing super jarring, but if it wasn’t for Paul D. Storrie‘s script there was no way I’d finish this graphic novel. While the begginning starts off in a little bit too much of “You are joining us in a program that already in progresss” feel, it quickly catches up with itself and is smooth sailing from there. Discovering our female star, our male love interest and then our quirky and fun supporting cast comes with clever dialogue and what I have to assume concepts from Storrie which Eldon bring to life perfectly.
This is by far not the most perfect book. The full page reveal of the MAIN monster of this tale is not as TA-DOW as possible. While it is a great drawing into itself, in context, the dude is just not ugly enough. That’s really not a deal breaker to the enjoyment of this one and I say check it out if you like comics and romance.
I believe it was designed to reach out to kind of reader who doesn’t read and would rather read a comic, but it is pretty heavy in its comic book story-telling devices and it is not something someone who isn’t already reading comics to check it out, but what do I know?
This review was derived from a digital galley from Net Galley. Special thanks to them and to publisher Capstone Books.
I’ve been a fan of Art Balzatar since some of his earliest work in “The Cray Baby Adventures” and have been happy to follow him through the years with his self published “Patrick the Wolf Boy” (co-created with Franco) and his Disney Adventures’ serial “Gorilla, Gorilla”.
When “TINY TITANS” debuted in 2008, I was super excited to see Art, alongside Franco working on an out of continuity super cute easy to read and enjoy superhero comic that could feature your favorite superhero at any time. For over thirty issues, the brand of humor combined with simple, clever eye-popping cartoon visuals, the book has continually delivered.
Last year I first heard of Art getting a new gig as the illustrator to a series of children’s books based on the adventures of The Super-Pets. I was excited to see what his super cute art style could bring to adorable animals with super powers.
Luckily I have finally been able to appreciate one of these books through NetGalley and publisher Capstone Books.
That book is “Midway Monkey Madness” and it is absolutely charming. I’m not familiar with writer Sarah Hines Stephens but her writing is fast paced, jovial and fun, which perfectly suits Art’s strengths as an illustrator as well as being perfect for young readers as designed.
While the star of the book is Beepo, the Super Monkey and boy does Art draw a cute monkey I must exclaim I loved that The Wonder Twins show up with their monkey Gleek. The Wonder Twins are silly, kind of dorky, but something about them are endearing and when used right are just fun-loving and awesome. This is one of those time.
These picture books combine the excellence of good young children’s books with the awesomeness of a comic book with sound effects, usage of well known and established characters and lots of action. I highly recommend this and sight unseen the rest of the Super Pets series to parents who want a fun read for their kids and comic fans who can’t get enough of Art Balzatar’s art.
One of the world’s greatest cartoonists, painters and humorists Ralph Steadman has done many types of books. Fiction, children’s stories, guides to wine country, a biography of Sigmund Freud, versions of Alice in Wonderland and of course the seminal work Fear and Loathing.
His latest book focuses on dogs. It is not his first book about dogs, but the first with the obvious title of The Ralph Steadman Book of Dogs. Full of images spanning 1996-2010 it is a truly fun romp. Almost all of Steadman’s style are here. His gonzo style of sketches with text, his abstract painting, his blots alongside extremely realistic depictions.
There seems to be an attempt at a humorous guide to raising dogs within the 90+ page volume. I find Steadman’s artistic, but sloppy gonzo pen quite difficult to read perfectly, but I admire it from a conceptual sense. The images are very hit or miss, which has been my experience with Steadman on the usual. Some of his caricatures are just shockingly ingenious, while others are head scratching perplexing and not in the good way. I will stare at an image and be completely lost in what he was trying to convey and yet then the next image will be like a bulls-eye shot. Nail on the head perfection of what illustration can provide and offer.
This book I feel definitely fits a much more Steadman niche market than previous endeavors. Dogs are not as universal as wine. Drawings of dogs are not going to be a lot of people’s cup of tea. Especially when most people can not agree on how tea should be served or which are the best kind of leaves. Besides the point, fans of Steadman probably do not agree on what is better; his intrinsic abstract color work or his awkward or his sensible black and white sketch work. I like the pieces that combine all his conceptualizations, techniques and styles into one cohesive image.
The Book of Dogs doesn’t have many of those, but it has plenty that a Steadman fan should appreciate. It is not the greatest choice as an introduction to Ralph though, as it doesn’t truly show off what his delicate mad mind has the ability to create. If you are a fan of Steadman, it is definitely one to add to your collection, if not, go become a fan, so you want to add it.
The US Edition of The Ralph Steadman Book of Dogs is scheduled to come out May 4, 2011 from Houghton-Mifflin Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. This review is based off an Internet Galley.