On my final day of Book Expo America I only had a few things on the official agenda. I truly planned to spend the rest of the day searching, exploring and just leaping into what sounded fascinating. Of the five things in the schedule I was able to accomplish two of them, but I still walked away with an amazing amount of books.
In terms of one of the signings/events, it had been changed to the day before and I never got the notice. In terms of the others the lines for things at the same time were just so long that I had to make personal choices and one thing lost to another.
As before all these ship dates and information is based on the print versions of U.S. Releases and what information could be procured from the galleys/arcs and the internet.
The first signing that I was able to get down was Chip Kidd for his first official graphic novel Batman: Death By Design illustrated by Dave Taylor. Talking to Chip was excellent and this line was way longer than expected. Lots of comic fans at the show I guess. The book is absolutely gorgeous and a must have in my opinion for any Batman or comic lover. It is available now.
The other signing I was able to make it to was for Kirstie Alley. Unfortunately she was only signing postcards and wasn’t doing photos with people, but I was able to get one not bad shot of her. Weight loss wise she looks great. Her book The Art of Men (I Prefer Mine Al Dente) comes out in November.
Now in now particular order are the rest of the books/galleys/arcs I procured on Thursday. In the past I use to wait around till 3PM and see what “garbage” was left behind but since I’d gotten so many books I want to read and review the last two days I decided to leave my luggage at home and procured one of those McGraw-Hill bags and it was full by 2 PM on Thursday that I ended up having to use my portable and my book bag.
The newest America’s Test Kitchen collection is Quick Family Cookbook with at least 500 recipes ranging from dips, to pressure cooker meals to desserts it is a vast volume with instructions and lessons. This is an amazing tome to have. It’ll be available in October.
Hocus Pocus Hotel by Michael Dahl with illustrations by Lisa K. Weber is an awesome children’s book about as the title suggests, a magical hotel. It comes out in August.
Neon Panicby Charles Phillip Martin is a gripping suspense mystery that takes place in 2003 Hong Kong. It is available now.
Amulet-Book Five: Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibuishi. I have loved Amulet since day one and this was an excellent thing to get to see long before it goes to final print. It is a truly amazing graphic novel serial which combines fantasy, sci-fi, friendship, conspiracy, steampunk, elves, time travel, anthromorphs and more. Kazu is a stellar artist and I so happy there will be two more volumes for this epic story. Book 5 arrives in September.
Man in the Empty Suit by Sean Ferell is scifi without being directly scifi, the way a Kurt Vonnegut book is never classified as scifi, despite it being so. It involves time travel and mystery and self-discovery and sounds fascinating. It comes out in February 2013! (That’s right 2013… only a book on time travel would have an ARC that far in advance).
The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen is the latest young adult novel from Susin Nielsen, former Canadian television writer/story editor/creator on shows such as Degrassi, Braceface and Robson Arms. Built around a teenager rebuilding his life after life happens (she did write for the show that “goes there” after all) the book arrives in September.
Becoming Holmes by Shane Peacock is the final installment in the young adult mystery series Boy Sherlock Holmes. After six books the sage comes to an end in October.
For The Senderby Alex Woodard is a very fascinating project, it is both a book & a cd inspired by four letters that created 12 songs and a very heartwarming book which I have skimmed enough to get the jist of this non-fiction adventure of creativity and faith. The ARC came with a sample of 5 of the 12 songs which were all amazing, but it was quite extra cool to hear Shawn Mullins singing on one. That Hay House edition comes out in September.
Telegraph Avenue is the newest from Michael Chabon, in what might be his most epic novel yet that starts from the simplest places. Scheduled for September 2012 it promises to explore running Vinyl records stores, big market America, the Black Panthers and even a Birthing Assistant company.
Keep Your Pantheon (and School)-Two Unrelated Plays by David Mamet is a collection of two plays that as it said are unrelated, yet were performed as a dual production for Atlantic Theater Company in 2009. I love Mamet and these two are actually some of Mamet’s most unusual. The publication is available now.
The Prophet by Michael Kortya is a thriller in which murder seperates and then brings back together two brothers. The marketing is very focused on how Kortya has become a favorite writer of King, Koontz, Child, Patterson and other masters of mystery and suspense. It arrives in September according to the ARC, but August according to Michael’s website.
Eating Aliens by Jackson Landers is a memoir adventure based on the hunters experience in taking down and eating invasive animal species such as various iguanas, Asian carp, Nutria and more. It comes in September.
The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets by Diana Wagman by is a nail-biting intense and suspenseful tale of kidnapping and mystery. It arrives in November.
The Absolutionist by John Boyce is a historical period piece taking place in the UK directly after The Great War (better known as World War One). It explores queer themes, but is a much larger canvas for the atrocities of war and the bonds of friendship. It is available now.
Professor Gargoyle by Charles Gilman is the first in a series called Tales From Lovecraft Middle School, a young reader’s horror which will feature super creepy lenticular covers.
Dark Lord byJamie Thomson Dirk Lloyd is a dark humor for kids with illustrations by Freya Hartas that takes on the concept that the lead character has forced the writer to create the book. It comes out in October.
Meat Eater-Adventures from The Life of an American Hunter is a memoir from TV host ,food & nature expert, hunter, and chef Steven Rinella. It arrives in September.
Gold is the newest novel by Chris Cleave. It’s a tale of friendship and competitition as two women are headed to the Olympics for cycling. It arrives in July.
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken is a young adult/teen supernatural suspense thriller and possibly Disney/Hyperion’s next big franchise. It arrives in December.
BZRK by Michael Grant is a near future young adult novel about a technological war. It is a fully immersive project with a very dedicated website which expands the universe in amazing ways. It is available now.
Starry River of the Sky is a fantasy novel for young readers written and illustrated by Grace Lin and is a follow-up to her Newbery honored Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. It is based in Chinese folklore and releases in October.
The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets by Kathleen Alcott is a debut novel. It tells the tale of two brothers who suffer from sleep walking and the neighboor who helps them, falls in love, guides them and makes a family. It comes out in September.
SEED by Ania Ahlborn is a horror suspense thriller about a long hidden darkness reemerging for a man who thought he escaped his past. It has come out in ebook format, but officially comes out in print in July.
Voyage to Kázohina by Sandor Szathmári is a Hungarian modern classic, never before published in English outside of Hungary. It’s a retaking of Gulliver’s Travels first appearing in 1941. This edition shall be available in July.
The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Songby Frank M. Youngand David Lasky is only sampled in the galley offered by Abrams ComicArts, but you can tell that this story about the early recordings of folk/country music group and how they came to be in graphic novel format. The final edition will include a CD of rare radio recordings. It comes out in October.
Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught is a teen psychological mystery involving the search for a missing girl and the possible suspect, her best friend who is schizophrenic. It comes out in August.
A few more items were procured including books out since mid 2011, preview sheets, blads, etc. So much stuff I can’t even really understand it all.
I do understand that Book Expo America for all its inherent, natural faults from being what it is, is the most awesome thing going for book, book publishing and pushing and focusing the book market as an event and I love being a small part of it. Although one day I hope like many others to be a larger part of it, be it as an author, PR person or editor.
In this post I’ll be listing an assortment of books I procured that weren’t on my schedule for Day 2. There’s a lot of great things here that all seem fun, fascinating, exciting or whatever. I should note that all these are of the American release versions and dates. Some may already be out internationally under different titles and from different publishers and marketing. I am providing websites that I can find on either the author or the book only as reference..
The 500 by Matthew Quirk is political suspense thriller from a debut writer who got his writing grit as a hard bent journalist at The Atlantic. It is available now.
Bootlicker by Steve Piacente is a tale based on guilt, race relations, politics and intrigue. Available now.
Fathomless by Jackson Pearce is described as a dark and modern reimaging of “The Little Mermaid”, it is geared towards Teen Readers and will be out in September.
Patient One by Leonard Goldberg combines medical suspense with political thriller in what also sounds like an action packed book. It came out in May 2012.
The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda is an action-adventure based in monsters, myths and Indian (read Asia, not Native American) folklore.
The Diviners by Libba Bray is a supernatural mystery based in 1920’s New York filled magic & murder. It comes in September or November, it’s a bit unclear.
And Still They Bloom by Amy Rovere is a children’s book designed to help with the coping of grief and cancer. It has full paintings by Joel Spector and is published by the American Cancer Society. You can pre-order it here, it comes out at the end of June.
Goosebumps-Wanted: The Haunted Mask is just one of the new horror stories coming from R.L. Stine, this one hits in July.
Confessions of a Murder Suspect is James Patterson‘s first teen mystery series, written with his Women’s Murder Club collaberater Maxine Paetro. It’s scheduled for September.
ZOO is another major James Patterson release also scheduled for September, co-written with Michael Ledwige is a extremely intense thriller with heavier ramifications plot wise than any James Patterson work previous.
The Devil’s Causeway by Tim Westfall is a non-fiction military history book about POWs during the Spanish-American war. It comes out in September.
Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger is a supernatural fantasy for young readers. I comes out in September.
Unsaid is a the debut novel of lawyer Neil Abramson, whose focus is on animal rights and protection, which his book also explores as well as the relationship between human and animal. It is available now.
MP3-The Meaning of a Format by Jonathan Sterne is equally history on sound compression and philosophy on its ramifications on music as a whole. It is mostly academic work, but still fascinating. It will be available in August from Duke University Press.
The Land of Stories: The Wishing Well is a fantasy for young readers written by the popular actor and singer Chris Colfer with illustrations by Brandon Dorman. The book comes out in July.
How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? and Say Happy Chanukah? are the latest in the dinosaur picture books by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague. They both come out in September.
Bannon & Clare in The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lillith Saintcrow is marketed as a steampunk urban fantasy and the start of a new series. It will be available in August.
Albert of Adelaideby Howard Anderson is a debut novel about a platypus discovering himself in Australia. It isn’t a children’s novel, it’s an antromorphic adult book and sounds awesome. It’ll be available in July.
Traditionally you wouldn’t find me reading some based on the bible or faith-based, but the comics and graphic novels from Kingstone Comics have a special edge. They have many series, but I only opted to check out three which I’ll be exploring further. The Christ features art by Sergio Cariello, who I loved on Lone Ranger and Crossgen books The Book of God which takes a scholarly look at the bible was drawn by Javier Saltares, best known for his work on Ghost Rider The Pilgrim’s Progress is a manga adaptation which is lavishly illustrated.
That brings us to the end of items I procured on Day two of Book Expo America. There’s a chance I missed something or possibly I wrote about in Day One or will hit on my Day Three. Still I hope this gives you suggestions, ideas, thoughts, recommendations and a feeling of the diversity of books one can discover and enjoy both at BEA and in general.
As I did with Day One I am going to present things that I was able to “conquer” based upon the schedule I had created for myself and then list and discuss all the wonderful galleys, signings, meetings, etc. that happened outside of this prescribed schedule. My second day at Book Expo America 2012 was another exciting adventure full of celebrities, amazing authors, surprises, long lines, random goodies, and whatchamacallits. With this opening paragraph out of the way, away we go.
I didn’t arrive at the Javits Center at 6 AM like I had on Tuesday to make sure I had guaranteed tickets to Molly Ringwald. I did get there around 7 AM though and actually ended up with two tickets that I wasn’t able to use because the lines for them even with tickets only were beyond reasonable. The only one I am sad about is not meeting Joyce Carol Oates, as she’s long been one of my favorite writers (as surprising as they might seem to those who know me).
The first line I hit after rounding the floor for galley giveaways was for Ridley Pearson’s new adult suspense thriller series, The Risk Agent, out on June 19th. The first book introduces us to the series stars John Knox and Grace Chu and takes place in Shanghai, while it’s Ridley’s YA work that has garnered him the most attention I am really excited to read this more intense ride knowing he did his research.
After I went to get Because Amelia Smiled, the newest from David Ezra Stein. I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that David is an old college mate, but I’ve also become a fan of his art very quickly. This new book is a change for him in style drawn in pencils, crayon and watercolor. Looking quite dreamy and yet compelling. While his stories are definitely geared towards younger readers, the art makes them very universal.
Next up was the infamous Damien Echols. The formerly incarcerated young man whose story was told in the documentaries Paradise Lost 1-3 and whose story caught the attention of such luminary figues as Henry Rollins, Eddie Vedder, Johnny Depp and Marilyn Manson, as he was part of what became known as The West Memphis Three. Now free on an unfortunate Alford plea, which means possibly never seeing true justice or knowing the trutg, he has helped produce a new documentary that premiered at Sundance, West of Memphis, and Simon & Schuster has reprinted his 2005 self published journal with new material, now titledLife After Deathwhich includes a cover by Shepard Fairey who has done WM3 art in the past. I have no personal opinion of his guilt, innocence or elsewise, I just know he has a good story to tell. The book ships in September.
Back to Autographing where I got the second comics biography written by Marc Tyler Nobleman, who previously wrote a children’s style book on the history of Joe Siegel & Joe Shuster, creators of Superman. The new one is about Bill Finger, the co-creator of Batman with Bob Kane and is titled BILL THE BOY WONDER-The Secret Co-Creator of Batman. The first book in what could be a series I feel if Marc follows with say Gardner Fox, who in an analogy that may or not make sense one could say that Bill created the automobile, Gardner made the car actually move. It’s illustrated by one of my personal faves Ty Templeton and is available now.
It was time to get my second Ridley Pearson book of the day in KINGDOM KEEPERS V. It amazes me that despite needing tickets these lines are obscenely long and take forever, but they do. Nonetheless I got my copy of the currently out book and look forward to it.
A pop over a couple tables down and I get to meet my second Top Chef of the Expo in the super sexy and handsome Angelo Sosa (alongside Curtis Stone and Jamie Oliver, there’s a small smattering of serious male hotness in chefs, oh and Ainsley Harriot… women there’s bucketloads, but men, a select few). He was signing his cookbook Flavor Exposed, already available, which I’m going to really do my damndest to use some of the recipes some, they’re scrumptious reading and looking, as William Brinson‘s photography in the book is superb.
I really wanted to get over to the Graphic Novels panel on the Uptown stage to hear Noah Van Sciver, Raina Telgemeier and Zack Giallongo, among others discuss their upcoming books. Time ran away from me though. Fortunately I’d been able to get a galley of Raina’s DRAMA eariler from Scholastic and catch up with her to sign it, not that I don’t see her randomly all the time. I also was able to catch Noah Van Sciver earlier in the day. I had stopped by Fantagraphics on Tuesday and had a nice talk with Eric Reynolds and then while walking to a signing, I noticed that someone who gave a Noah like vibe sitting with Eric long before his official signing, so I made my way over and got the galley for his The Hypo – A Graphic Portrait of the Melancholic Young Lincoln, whose final cover is awesome. DRAMA by Raina Telgemeier comes out in September and The Hypo is coming in October.
As my chances at Chris Colfer were null & void I opted to head over to Perseus and get a double signing. First up was the premier musician Buddy Guy, who’s memoir When I Left Home is currently available, followed by Teresa Guidice of Housewives of New Jersey, Celebrity Apprentice and a few best selling cookbook fames. In terms of Teresa they gave out last year’s Fabulicious! Teresa’s Italian Family Cookbook instead of her recently released Fast & Fit, both are great things to own and learn from though culinary wise. If there’s one thing Guidice does other than be really pretty while making a fool of herself on TV, it’s cook. In terms of Buddy the line moved a little too fast for me to really talk with him about anything, but I admit I don’t really know as much about him as I should.
With some time to kill I decided to check out an education panel on the Hottest Graphic Novels of 2012, I stayed long enough to get some great suggestions and a preview of Chris Ware’s upcoming “Building Stories” from Pantheon in October which will come in a box that looks like a building with comics of varying designs and sizes. Much like some old McSweeney’s were done.
I left early to get back upstairs for the Kevin Pollak signing and got there just in time. Kevin has a memoir titled How I Slept My Way to the Middle, scheduled for November. I was actually a little intimidated (me intimidated?!?) and stammered my words, but was able to get myself together to request for him to do a Christopher Walken sell for the book which he not completely graciously, but in a very Kevin Pollak type way agreed to and you can see that here or hopefully in an embed below along with a photo of the two of us. Make sure to listen to/watch Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show and also Talkin Walkin, both worth it.
Right after Kevin Pollak it was a mad rush across the floor for a super long line to Michael Ian Black and Meghan McCain for their roadtrip humor book America, You Sexy Bitch which comes out on June 12, 2012. Meeting both was a pleasure and this book is one of those on high priority for me. While I don’t really know Meghan, I LOVE Black. From The State, to Wet Hot American Summer to Stella and Reaper, he’s been a huge fave. His previous book written on his own was hilarious, but the American Road Trip with the super hot daughter of John McCain premise tops it I think. Can’t wait to read this.
A few choices were up after this signings, but none of them possible between lines or whatever, so instead I ended up hanging out with the person who was in line behind me for Black and McCain, who just so happened to be the husband of my next doable signing. That husband happens to be writer and columnist, Jim Colucci, who works mostly for CBS’ magazine The Watch (which was a wonderful discovery as I didn’t know the magazine and it is great, just signed up for my free subscription) and his significant other is former Daily Show movie reviewer and current Sirus Radio Host, Frank DeCaro. Frank was promoting his book,Dead Celebrity Cookbook, as well as the followup Christmas in Tinseltown, that arrives in October. He also gave out an apron, which was just totally awesome.
While in line for DeCaro I was able to swing to the table right next door for a book that was on my original schedule but somehow fell off when I rewrote it to be less cluttered, and I’m glad serendipity dropped it in my lap. It is the follow-up to a series I haven’t yet read, but it was written by Brandon Mull, famous for Fablehaven and it’s called The Candy Shop War: Arcade Catastrophe.
My final scheduled signing was Chef Carla Hall, making it the third and final Top Chef of the Expo. You might also know her from her daily weekday appearance on ABC’s The Chew. First off, seriously, the woman is gorgeous in person, Hootie Hoo indeed. Unfortunately she was only signing a recipe card with a singular recipe from his forthcoming in November, Cooking with Love, but what a recipe it is. It’s for her Chicken Pot Pie (with Crust on the Bottom!). It’s a lot of work for a recipe, but god damn does it read scrumptious. I was even able to discuss with Carla how to make it slightly more healthy, which was totally awesome.
The rest of this will be broken into a Part 2 in which I go into the galleys and giveaways, etc. garnered off the schedule, but before I close off I want to talk about the one party I ended up bothering to try out on Wednesday night. It was called Pub Date and it took place at Le Poisson Rouge on Bleeker. I only went to get a chance to meet one of my favorite comic artists of all time, Phil Jimenez, which I got to do! I haven’t stayed on top of DC Comics since deciding to trade wait the New 52 and all Vertigo past SCALPED and The Unwritten, so I really knew nothing of his monthly Fairest, so I spoke to him on that. The party itself was really way too loud for any proper networking though, but I did bump into two old friends. One being Guy Lecharles Gonzalez who I see it all the book and comic shows and the other was Chavisa Woods, who almost feels like it was a lifetime ago that I saw her last.
That interesting surprise and randomness which was just topping to a day full of randomness, surprises and excitement just made this year’s BEA feel totally amazing.
For the Zero Day of Book Expo America 2012 I got to see and enjoy a couple interesting things and following I shall share them with you. The only place on the Expo floor was the gifts and remainders, but there are definitely booths there that are worth seeing.
I discovered an AMAZING pop-up book that features original art pieces made specifically for this book by Alex Ross, Joe Jusko, Leinil Francis Yu and more. The most amazing piece actually has to be Amanda Conner’s Thor vs. Loki. INSANE! The book is published by Jumping Jack Press, a division of Up With Paper and will be in comic stores in July and everywhere else after Labor Day.
Being a gift section the main focus was products and I discovered an awesome optics/eye frame company. I always felt trying to get cool frames at a reasonable price was impossible, but with Scojo it wouldn’t be. Scojo Gels are designed to be reading glasses, but the way they’re made is not like regular reading glasses, so one can pop out the glass and put their prescription in. This isn’t what they recommend, but one can do it.
Next up the Parodies LLC booth caught my eye. Mostly it was for the art which happened to be by one of my favorite back in the day of independent comics rise, George Komninos who self-published the comics, Portrait of a Young Man as a Cartoonist & KIP. He’s focused more on single panel and pop art and working with the writer of Parodies to create funny images.
The final thing on the show floor to catch my eye was the Buddha Board. It’s a fun little art/play technology that I even made a little video of.
There was one panel in the Monday selection that I thought I’d find interesting, amongst mostly panels focused on booksellers, as I couldn’t afford to do BEA Bloggers and that was on Russian Children’s Literature. At the panel they mentioned and showed off one series/book that really caught my attention and that was MASHA AND THE BEAR. The book I saw was a puzzle book, but it totally sold me on wanting more of this, the cartoon, the book, whatever, translated or at least subbed. Here’s one episode to whet your appetite, which is all in Russian.
The final main event was the BEA Editor’s Buzz. I was only able to get three of the six books discussed as people are carnvourois at BEA, but I was happy to at least get PANORAMA CITY by Antoine Wilson, which I already started reading and am loving.
Super excited for the Expo to officially begin and really losing my mind.
Book Expo America 2012 is right around the corner. Last year I wrote a focused pre-event article giving tips and advice on how to approach the show using my last two years prior of experience of tackling the Javits. That advice came in handy for myself as well, since my Book Expo America 2011 experience was absolutely amazing. I got so many awesome books, met awesome people, made connections, got amazing photos and plenty material for various articles.
This year I plan the same and I feel it might be good to reiterate some of my tips, rewrite them or maybe even give some new ones before delving into my very long list of highlights for the show.
One of the things people always focus on are sensible walking shoes, something with support, but I’m going to change my assessment on that fact after last year wearing obscenely sensible shoes. They were perfect when I was walking the floor. The minute I had to be standing on a line though, they became less sensible. They’re arched and designed to actually wobble with the groove of your foot, but once you’re just physically standing still with a bag or two of books waiting for the one author whose line is so long you’re not sure where the actual end of the line is you’re wishing you’re in sandals or barefooted or something like that. So what is my suggestion now? I have no idea. Take your feet into account, know what works for you in a situation like that. I’m thinking sandals, but you can’t get away with that easily and be professional. So just do what is going to be comfortable for you, whatever that is. Although barefooted is not a good idea.
The biggest tip I’ve going to do my best to implement is “running” back to bag check when things get too physically heavy and I end up being completely exhausted by shows end. I have events and signings and galley giveaways and just walking around aimlessly all over the show, not to mention Blog World and I might actually forget to get back to bag check, but even if I do, that rolling suitcase not allowed on the show floor will be there for when its time to go home.
So with some tips out of the way, the real fun can begin, my personal highlights and what I look forward to. I am not going to provide times, booth numbers or anything like that. That information is all on the internet, the mobile app and various blogs and news sites. This is just things that people going to Book Expo should be looking for or be excited to hear me talk about and for those not going to Book Expo a way to imagine it all before photos and proper reportage comes their way.
I’m going to start with regular authors instead of celebrities, etc.
Daniel Handler is at Book Expo again, but he’s there as Lemony Snicket this time around. It’s been some years since he’s entered the Unfortunate Universe. Along with the great comics artist SETH, the first in his new series, All The Wrong Questions, will be previewed.
Andrew Gross who wrote the awesome EYES WIDE OPEN, will present his newest novel 15 SECONDS.R.L. Stine will be there for his newest adult focused novel, RED RAIN.
Michael Connelly who became even more popular than before after theMatthewMcConaughey starring film The Lincoln Lawyer will be there for the latest Harry Bosch novel (for those only familiar with the movie, Bosch is Haller’s half brother and an LAPD homicide detective).
In this listing I have left out a lot. My schedule is filled with galley times, panels, chefs, other major writers, comic artists, celebs and more. It is a full and crazy schedule which I doubt I’ll accomplish as there’s only 60 minutes in an hour and who knows who long some things can take between waiting, talking, getting a photo, a signature and getting to your next location which can be down the aisle or across the room, but it’s all worth it.
Car chases, attempted murder, mansions on the hill, underground prisons, psychopaths, agents, directors, actors, cops, criminals, lawyers, big whigs, buxom babes, nudity, sex, drugs, death, destruction… sounds like a regular day in Hollywood doesn’t it? At least the Hollywood of the movies, but for Charlie Hardie it’s the most atypical day in usually decidedly chosen humdrum life.
Excitement was the norm for him, till one day and for the last few years he’s done everything in his power to have the most basic, boring life possible. Life doesn’t ever go the way one plans, especially when the man running your life is writer Duane Swiercynski.
This isn’t how the Charlie Hardie trilogy of FUN & GAMES (June 2011), HELL & GONE(October 2011) and POINT & SHOOT (scheduled for 2013) begins, but that’s the crux of the matter. I became a real fan of Duane’s through his work on CABLE Vol.2 , in which Nate Summers and an unnamed child travel through a crazy future. I had been marginally introduced to him prior through his book The Blonde, but it was with Fun & Games that his brand of high octane, high adventure, crazy twists and wilder turns really grabbed me and have turned me into an always and future fan.
As with some of the best of crime noir fiction, the Charlie Hardie series is very visual. As you go through each passage, there is no way to not envision how this book would be translated on to the big screen with any of the current aging action stars of the 80s who are still kicking ass and taking names at the helm. Personally I see Val Kilmer or Russell Crowe when I close my eyes and/or pour through the pages, but I’m not a movie executive or a financier or even someone with the money to buy the rights to take the energy on a script adaptation, no, here I’m just a fan who thinks you should be as well.
Swiercynski takes the choice of an almost fourth person approach here, jumping from the perspective of various characters, including the peripheral. This style is kept up through both books and while jarring at first, it allows a really inventive way of revealing bits and pieces of a much larger whole. As much as this is Charlie’s adventure, there is so much more going on and each clue, hint, tid bit and revelation into this huge architecture Duane has built just expands in such ways that you can pretty much completely understand why he’s taking his time with the third book. Originally this trilogy was going to come hard and fast, June and October of 2011 and then March of 2012. After finishing Hell & Gone and then reading the first openings of Point & Shoot at the end of it, I was salivating at the bit for the final chapter, wondering how after how large, crazy and thrilling the second book was, it could be topped. That’s the idea with a trilogy right? To keep building and building. Not that there’s many trilogy to compare to. In its own way Charlie Hardie’s story and Duane’s concept to do it as three self-contained but completely interconnected books is truly quite original. The only real trilogies I can even think of in literature that may have begun as being conceptually the same is the work of Robertson Davis, all other trilogies have such different histories and origins.
One of the most fascinating things from this fourth person style of different perspectives is you gain an appreciation and interest for everyone involved, even the people who die or the people who just seem like they’re pure evil. It is one of the most amazing aspects of the writing that would definitely get lost in transition from page to screen.
I must say I enjoyed HELL & GONE much more than FUN & GAMES. There’s just so much intrigue, character development and the type of nail biting I personally love. FUN & GAMES for most the most part is escaping the horror, not stopping for one moment to explore, while HELL & GONE is the locked chamber, with no where to run, so you better figure out how to just survive till you can escape. I can only guess that the final book is the insanity where you try to decide to go into the lion’s den.
FUN & GAMES and HELL & GONE were published by Mulholland Books and are availabile at all fine book retailers and in all e-book formats.
The following are projects I would love to pledge to for rewards and to see the projects happen. In some cases the projects are at 100% and that just means I wish I had hundreds of thousands of dollars just to be on board, in others they’re struggling or at the half way point and so they need your help as much as mine. All of them are stuff I really think is awesome and wish I was full of disposable income.
Cooking In Heel-A Memoir Cookbook: I absolutely love cook books which are more than just a collection of recipes and this one seems to be just that. Combining some Southern style seafood with pulling up the memories of being black, transgendered and I believe a lesbian in New York City and the troubles of that and that is one amazing read or at least it sounds like one.
Fairy Quest-Outlaws: Paul Jenkins isn’t one of my favorite writers, but he has written lots of stuff I’ve enjoyed. Mostly his Werewolf by Night, his issues of the Tecknophage series with Al Davidson and some of his issues of Spider-Man. In terms of Humberto Ramos, I actually never really loved the guy. He can be awesome of some stuff, the vampire series he created himself was awesome. So you’d be wondering why I’m into this book… well it looks awesome and sounds awesome. It reminds of TELLOS in ways and that book is one of my favorite things ever.
A WALL: I checked out Lila Roo’s prevoious art projects and I was really impressed. She has a great visual eye and this project could be awesome. She’s also beautiful and makes beautiful stuff.
NEKRO: This strategy adventure game has some amazing graphics and a conceptually good story. I don’t tend to get attracted to RTS or warfare games, but the premise behind this one with the artistic design really has my eyes open.
Dr. McNinja’s Radical Adventures: I love simple reflex platforming games, combining that mechanic with an original story featuring Christopher Hasting’s Dr.McNinja for mobile platforms is just awesomness and Chris agrees and he’s only marginally part of the project other than giving permission.
Mystery Pets Art Book by Diana X. Sprinkle: I’ve loved Diana’s comics for a long time. True Hue has been a steadfast favorite forever. I of course never got to see the first book she did here cause the internet is too huge, but this larger follow-up looks awesome as all let out.
Wish Pictures: I don’t talk online anymore, least at all webcam… but this could totally make me get back into it. Every conversation to be in a different room? Also this type of technology getting going could lead to it’s inspiration, Star Trek: TNG’s holodeck to becoming a reality.
Rob Schamberger paints professional wrestling’s Heavyweight Champions of the world: I’m curious to see how much he can really tackle here if he succeeds. He’s got Punk, Harley Race, Ric Flair… but will he really go all the way with this? He’s going to have to a Great Khali, and as comments noted, a David Arquette, not to mention a Tyler Black, a Sid Vicious, a Yokozuna, a Vader and when it comes to guys like Big Show and Kevin Nash… will he do Diesel and The Giant or consider those as one painting reflecting them as a whole?
Jane Jensen’s Pinkerton Road: The first official gamne has now been announced for Jane Jensen’s production company, that would be Moebius, but they’re still far from getting the financial backing to making that dream a reality. Jane Jensen is an incredible writer and I believe with no one and nothing holding her back in the publishing area she can do something amazing in this influx of the rebirth of old school gaming as a main stream concept with periphery engines instead of everyone using Wintermute and AGS (even though those games are awesome including everything by Wadjeteye) and having games be American made instead of ports and localizations from Spain and Germany. I want this to happen and so do you. Telltale Games are awesome, but there needs to be more big guys are the market!
Xombie-Death Warmed Over: After sitting in development hell, James Farr has finally got XOMBIE back to do with as he pleases. Unfortunately that means the big movie isn’t happening, but he can now focus on getting a second season of the cartoon finally out there to the adoring public with your help. I was much more into the comic series that was birthed from the Xombie cartoon, but this fact remains… awesome.
Giant Donuts-NYC shop: I’ll never be able to eat a donut shop, unless they go for Gluten free or something. Or if I just have one donut a year, but the charm of their pitch video and the idea behind the shop just makes me excited. Worth checking out.
Ace Kilroy: I can’t believe I’m just discovering this awesome webcomic now. You can see the thing yourself at Acekilroy.com, but this collected edition sounds awesome. A little hefty in price but that has to be because of the Kickstarter feeds and just making it available in the format they want with having their full colors being printed in color and such, which has to be expensive at a lower print run. Good stuff.
Road Trip with Bibi the African Grey Parrot: Hilarious pitch video. This could turn into an awesome webseries. I’d be curious to see where the bird ends up and how it reacts to new things and if she can really learn new phrases and words. Bibi hates New Jersey, it stink. Bibi want La Brea, tar…tar… don’t belong. I don’t know.
The Car: This almost finished short looks pretty cool. I’m curious to just follow it.
Franklin, The Ladies Cat: Now this is some serious fun right here. This cat looks great and the voice is hilarious. I could see Franklin easily on Comedy Central or Adult Swim.
Plastic Galaxy-A Documentary About Star War Toys: I still have a ton of my Kenner’s. The pitch video on this is actually weak, but the premise is really good. I hope they speak more to the actually Kenner folks on this then the collectors, because I really don’t need to hear from more collector’s and fans, but stories from the folks at Kenner who basically created toys from production sketches for a live action that hadn’t even been cast yet like Bobba Fett would be amazing.
Eryn Woods West Coast Summer Tour 2012: This Kickstarter is more a case of discovering a musical talent in Eryn Woods that I was not privy to before this. The tour is all west coast and I can’t see myself getting out to Cali anytime soon without a bigger deal involved, but for those out in Cali and the West coat, worth checking out and those not, just check out her music. She’s also absolutely stunning which is just a bonus.
The Many Worlds of Mr.Diddlewit: There many good children’s series up on Kickstarter, but this one in particular caught my eye so here I offer it for your information to check out.
I started working on this last night and just wanted to finish it off because right now I’m just not feeling it. It’s a good distraction from the whole world, but it is still about money and stuff… and more about money than stuff… still, we need distractions.
Batton Lash’s Wolff & Byrd is preparing for a printing of a volume 6 collecting issues #30, 34-37 and more. Wolff & Byrd is an awesome comic and this is basically like pre-ordering. Kickstarting a book, pre-ordering a book, same thing in the new world.
GAME OVER: Insert More Quarters is an anthology of a bunch of very talented young comics makers, they had some amazingly cool rewards at the %50-$75 but those are gone, BUT if some super rich folks can do the $100 or a bunch of folks go for the $25 pledge it’ll bring us to FINAL BOSS level meaning even more rewards for the same pledges. On the page they have links to most of the contributors and I checked all their pages, these are a talented group of folks who if they weren’t doing this project would probably get discovered by Kazu Kibishi for FLIGHT or something like that.
Curse of the Merch Girl is a diverse multimedia project from hip-hop artist MURS and comics creator Josh Blaylock. It’ll be a music video, a comic book and a 10 track cd. The 10 songs are designed to be listened to while reading the graphic novel. This is one of the projects I really am excited for. It hasn’t reached full funding yet and it really is one of those that shouldn’t be stuck. If I had $2500, I’d totally do that pledge.
Kiko The Brave Little Bat, so if you have $150 to spare I want one of the complete kits of book, DVD and plush, wants one too and then the third is for you. I really can’t bring myself to spend $50 for a plush doll and a children’s book even though I want it. $25 for a very mature graphic novel and CD as in the above, yes… but $50 for a kid’s thing? No…not really, but if I had a child? Hell yeah!
Man of God-The Death of John Morris: This comic featuring art by Yvel Guichet is actually available in the current March Previews and seems interesting enough to pre-order. If you’re into variant covers and the such I suggest hopping on the kickstarter though.
Zach Meets The Zombie is a great looking children’s book. You might be aware that I am not much of a zombie fan. I like about 2-3 things in the zombie genre, and if this book is as good as the pitch is, this would become the 4th.
Feeble’s Fable: This is no DOUBLE FINE ADVENTURE, but for a small independent adventure production and design it is definitely a worthwhile project. I’m still confused why their pitch videos outside of game footage look they were shot on cheapo cameras in 1991 though. Despite that, Feeble is adorable.
Riddikulus 2012 – A Rolling Wizard Rock Festival: I know for a fact a bunch of you are Potterphiles. I’m more an admirer and I never got into Wizard Rock heavily. and ‘s promotion and marketing for some of them is closest I’ve gotten, but as I listened to these bands and look at the rewards I support this project and considering what venue they hit in NYC I’ll go.
Gnombre the hispanic Garden gnome: I was really on board for the bobblehead 7inch version here for $20, but they want an extra $10 for shipping now. That’s unfortunate. I still think this thing looks awesome and if you have a home with a lawn, the 13 inch is worth even $50.
Suspect Device 2 is a comic featuring some amazing folks using an awesome idea. Panel 1 is from Jim Davis’ Garfield, the final Panel is from Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy, and in between some of the wildest, craziest and funniest cartoonists in the world create a story that connects the two panels. Josh got a great selection of folks on board for this one. This is gonna be an awesome book.
Gastrophobia Volume 2-Amazon Attacked: I loved Vol 1 of David McGuire’s series, he’s got a fantastic storytelling sensibility and awesome art style. It’s actually sitting on my desk right now just to re-enjoy in the meantime.
Over at my Livejournal I used to take various links I found and collate them all into a collection that I called “Nerd Notes”. These links could contain anything from videogames to wrestling to movie trailers to news articles. I have decided that it was an excellent concept and am migrating it now for use at Pop-Culture Spectrum. This is just the first up many to come and allow me to relay lots of information in short bursts instead of full fledged reviews or articles when something may warrant it, but would take up ample time before getting the product information out there.
AGS Bake Sale: A collection of fully cooked to perfection games built inside of AGS and bundled for charity, it is available for $1.50 or more based on your choice of donation to Child’s Play. If you are familiar with the Humble Bundle this is very similar but allows you to play games that are completely exclusive to this pack. I have played portions of 9 Months In, Red Volition, Indiana Rodent and Abner so far and they are all excellent and worth the price.
Nurse Quest: This free pixel based point and click adventure developed by Robot Lizard for Adult Swim Games is hilarious, crafty and well constructed. It isn’t a time waster though, so be ready to sit down for a good half hour to hour to enjoy the hilarity.
Da New Guys: Back in 2004 Chris Burton put out an AGS game built around an imaginary wrestling federation and a team known as “Da New Guys”. It was a critical success and Burton also made a short animated feature with the characters called “For The Winnings” in Blender. Announcement came of a game sequel but they were continually delayed. Finally in 2012, Morton teams up with Wadjet Eye Games for “Day Of The Jackass”. A demo is available.
Sumo Cyco: Canadian sweetheart and former pop rock darling Skye Sweetnam first became a totally different type of artist with her colloberation “Action” recorded with Tim Armstrong and the bulk of her album, Sound Soldier, but the project she began in 2009 has started to become fully unleashed with 4 very disturbing videos and a sound one would never think that the girl who sang “Billy S.” would lead a band that covered Oingo Boingo along with some really hard metalesque rock..
Rango: Gore Verbinkski’s animated western affair was a total delight to the eyes. Accompanied by an amazing soundtrack and perfectly well done jokes, I loved every moment of it. I was sorely disappointed when the blu-ray came out without the one component I felt it surely needed though. The film was made by having the actors actually perform the entire film on a soundstage as if it were play. Snippets of this were seen in the trailers and I was really hoping to see the entire version of this, but alas. So as much as I loved RANGO, that hurt it’s long term love for me. It’s an awesome film though.
Take Me Home Tonight: I was not expecting to enjoy this. After the debacle of other films that tried to recapture that 80’s spirit or the concept of the insane night of partying, I never thought there was a chance I could like this. Yet it came on to HBO and I quickly got entranced by Topher Grace. On That 70’s Show he was probably my least favorite, but he’s evolved a bit and he has a strange mix of Jason Bateman and Michael J. Fox in him. Anna Faris didn’t hurt here either and having Demetri Martin, Bob Odenkirk and Michael Ian Black in important cameo roles really helped.
Hobo With A Shotgun: Holy hell was this a sick freaking film. It was way better than it ever deserved to be, one can of course thank the cast for that, because the film itself actually isn’t really good. The gore effects are fun and the violence is excellent, but the writing is garbage, the oversaturated film stock effect and scratches to make it “grindhouse” worked against it visually and the nudity was really luke warm. Rutger Hauer, Trailer Park Boy’s Robb Wells and Rookie Blue’s Gregory Smith really help bring it from waste of film to worthwhile fun viewing.
Hanna: This flick just blew me away and I had hyped myself up huge for it too. I got to hear Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana and Joe Wright talk about the film, the intense training and the setup of film making at the New York Comic Con in 2010 and everything really geared me up for it. I was not disappointed in the least. It is not a perfect film by any means, but it is amazingly shot, Saoirse is a joy to behold and there are elements that just make it an infinitely a watchable flick that I can see myself returning to over and over.
Beginners: Quite possibly my favorite film of the year. I recently watched it again and I loved it all over again, reassuring my previous feelings and thoughts. It actually jumped ahead of its previous spot in this rewatch. Melanie Laurent and Christopher Plummer truly deserve Oscar nominations for this film. Mike Mills is a horrible artist, but he is an amazing story teller and film maker. Listening to the commentary track and hearing him point out things that definitely made the film better but that even my trained eye missed because I was too attached and pulled into the narrative turned the film into not just a heartwarming tale, but a real mastery of cinema for me.
Captain America: If anything has come close to really being a quality live action adaptation of a comic book, it has to be the Markus & McFeely written, Joe Johnston directed The First Avenger. It hit all the right notes of feeling like a comic book literally translated from the page to the screen. I of course am not trying to discount Sin City here, that is a remarkable film but that fells more like recreation than adaptation in my mind. This film borrows from the comics without actually fully just recreating them as live action sequences. Plenty of quality inside jokes, awesome action, conceptual changes that fit the Marvel Movie universe better and not that he’d ever get acknowledged but Hugo Weaving deserves an Academy nomination.
Hugo: One of the most stunningly visual films in years, Martin pours every inch of himself on to the screen. You can tell he loves Méliès as much as Brian Selznick, if not more so. John Logan did almost a pitch perfect script adaptation of the book which Martin painstakingly tried to envision on screen. He made the decision to use Brian’s art as full inspiration for the look and feel of the film and it showed through every sequence. It was filmed in 3D, although this was not necessary to make an a good film, it ended up allowed for effects 2D imagery would not allow, such as seeing an eye through a clock, the inside of the clock and at the same time what the flock sees… the intricacies of the new 3D technology which also allows for hologram like effects was amazing on the big screen. I am actually worried how this one will translate/did translate to 2D. I’ll discover when it comes to dvd/blu ray since I don’t own a 3D TV and won’t for a long time. The performances in this are fabulous as well, Ben Kingsley dazzles, but Chloe Grace Moretz and the young Asa Butterfield are the the film and rightfully so.
The Muppets: I went in with trepidation and not all my fears were uncured, there are a hell of a lot of flaws in this film. Flaws that one could say “It’s a ‘Muppet’ movie, why are you trying tear it apart?” but I’d return with “It’s also a Jason Segel script, who is an intelligent writer and works on one of the most continuity driven shows on television, he should know better, but I do realize Bobbin and Thomas might’ve been the derailers (sic)”. So it’s really not a perfect film, but it is Muppets and Whitmire and Goelz really tried to keep the magic alive. Also, “Muppet of a Man” is one killer freaking song. The actual episode of The Muppet Show Special in the film is quite special as well.
Sherlock Holmes – A Game of Shadows: I utterly adored the first Guy Ritchie version of Holmes. Every element of it. The acting, the story telling, the cinematography, the action, the music, the set design, the costumes. In Game of Shadows, the only factor that goes in a much different design and direction is story telling, but it’s applicable to the story they are telling. This movie is less about an actual mystery and sleuthing, but about about precognition, notice, strategy and fore thought. While the first film showed the Holmes that would inspire a Gregory House or Adrian Monk who breaks down the mystery as he goes along or ties it all together at the end, this time we see the side of him that inspired characters like Sean Spencer and Patrick Jane who see the plot as it unfolds and is always one step ahead of the villain. I’ve already written another review of the film which explores it differently and expands why I loved it, but I felt here I’d speak from another point of view.