Comics have a history of weird, wacky, unusual or even actually lame, annoying and “maybe we’d be better off without but were stuck with them so we better learn to live with it” characters. Some of them only existing for one issue, others despite their complete nuttiness and/or annoying and/or pointlessness lasting for decades. These characters run the gamut from good guys to bad guys to sidekicks to henchmen and even just supporting characters (such as Steve Lombard of DC Comics’ Daily Planet in Superman comics). Some of these characters were just also not as awesome as others, so because of one thing or another they’ve been less highlighted and become lesser known then their counterparts.
In the second volume of a series from Quirk Books by Jon Morris, titled The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains, the author highlights many of these characters on the “evil” side of the board from the Golden Age to today’s comics including Image and Dark Horse. As the introduction suggests, much like in the first volume, these characters are less regrettable then they are possibly forgettable or more unpopular. Per that a slightly more well known Marvel villain Batroc the Leaper is featured in the The Silver Age section of the book. He of maybe anyone in the book seems almost out of place as he’s been featured in a variety of cartoons, had a toy and was even portrayed by one of the few household names in MMA, Georges St. Pierre in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Despite this, the profiles in The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains, are entertaining, at times informative and a wonderful collection focusing on characters what else-wise get the short shaft.
The true highlight of the book is the Golden Age section as if delves deep beyond Marvel and DC to many of the strange and varied companies of the time that published what are now obscure buried treasures in the regrettable factor is that it is regrettable they are not more easily accessible for readers of all pockets and locales. The Golden age has had a fair share of new collections, notably The Green Llama by Dark Horse and the work of Fletcher Hanks (whose character Lepus is featured on the cover of Legion) from Fantagraphics and most recently Craig Yoe’s Super Weird Heroes, a great companion to The Legion of Regrettable Super Villians , in which the originals are remastered, but a lot of the titles featured in Jon Morris’ books have not had that privilege. Therefore the pages and profiles he provides to a far gone past of crazy creation is most welcome as many of these comics would costs 1000s to own because of rarity of existence in this day and ageTo promote the book, Jon has also drawn illios of the first of the book’s profiles (these excellent illustrations unfortunately are not in the book itself). One of the editors at Quirk, Rick Chilot has done some as well for marketing. Here are three that I liked (but I like all of them). Go to @calamityjon and @rickchillot on Twitter for more.
from the anthropomorphic version of Fawcett’s Captain Marvel AKA Shazam titled Hoppy, The Marvel Bunny. Created by Chad Grothkopf, a quality artist of the 30-40’s who also worked on DC Comics
a true golden age classic the book provides pages from the unsung Prize Comics this character was in. the book credits Paul Norris and Dick Sprang, major players in DC’s Golden Age as the creators.
Not to be confused with Batman, he appeared in Police Comics-the home of Jack Cole’s Plastic Man. A creation of what could be also a regrettable creator George Brenner.
The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains by Jon Morris will be available wherever you like to buy books on March 28, 2017 from Quirk Books. You will regret it if you don’t pick it up for yourself to devour, learn, discover, rediscover, laugh and maybe even cry over these amazing characters of yesteryear and today who coulda been contenders but barely even made it to the ring.
(this review was written from an advance copy of the finished product)
With the film in production and a soon to come cover reveal on the forthcoming third book, I felt I needed to truly finally get my thoughts around Ransom Riggs‘ series from my mind to the page. To explain something that is a time travel, alternate universe, super powered teenage romance tale built around found photographs hasn’t been easy. For a Young Adults tale it’s as dense, complicated and yet as mesmerizing as it may or may not sound to your fertile soul.
Pulling from photographs which you have no personal connection to but convey a lot to develop characters and plot was one of the most fascinating things ever. I can’t recall without referencing it how much of a story Ransom devised without the photos, but I don’t think it matters because it’s the final product that is the work. That work evoked to me in both books a formulation of so many genres and structures I’ve loved that I couldn’t hate it if I wanted. The title of the original series coyly or not feels like it could be referencing Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Children, but really that is where the connection stops in terms of plot. Following the lead character in his discovery of his grand father’s mystery, the existence of nightmarish creatures, a plane locked in a time loop, young men and women with extraordinary abilities trained by a school mistress who is way more Nanny McPhee than female Professor X all the way to the shocking end of the first book and the exciting but tragic second Miss Peregrine’s I felt like I was reading a comic book in prose format.
Amazingly within this crazy world which also finds itself in war torn WWII England, reveals shape changers, curious characters and a deep evil group that represents a world even larger than presented to lies a coming of age tale of a forbidden, impossible but miraculous young love. This relationship is not the kind you find in other young adult novels though. There is truly a twist to it that makes the fact that while as important as the action, adventure and threat to the world is… love is just as important, if not more so.
The upcoming third book in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series is titled Library of Souls and is scheduled for September of 2015. I can only begin to imagine how Riggs will up the ante after the happening in the second book Hollow City.
On top of that third book as I mentioned a film is in production. It’s not just any film though, as it is poised to possibly be a major feature. Now it could easily go the direction of two ways in terms of success, but when it comes to quality it should be amazing. I personally think every film based on a modern popular YA series (published within the last 15 years) has had its merits. This film has quite the pedigree helping it happen though and has me quite excited to see it brought to life on the big screen. The story was adapted into a screenplay by Matthew Vaughn’s writing partner Jane Goldman who assisted on adapting Neil Gaiman’s romantic magical fantasy Stardust and Mark Millar’s teenage action series Kick-Ass as well as on her own the recent version of Susan Hill’s classic horror thriller Woman in Black. Taking that script into a film is Tim Burton who has been way more hit than miss in recent years and will be guided by the same production team who delivered St. Vincent and have his regular editor, as well as Danny Elfman on board for the music. The cast is pretty exciting as well, while the leads are important, it needs to be noted Judi Dench, Samuel Jackson, and Terrance Stamp will be in important minor roles. In the main roles though are future Spider-Man and former Hugo of Hugo Cabret, Asa Butterfield.. .who also played Ender, so he’s building quite the resume as lead characters from quality novels; Eva Green who has been building herself a good career plays the title Miss Peregrine (interesting side note, Asa played Mordred in TV series Merlin… while Eva played Morgan in the TV series Camelot); the third lead is played by Ella Purnell, an up & coming young actress who has played a young Keira Knightley and a young Angelina Jolie.. (so yeah, she’s quite pretty) and has been lauded for being a great actress on top of her looks. I’ve seen photos of her from shoots unconnected to Miss Peregrine and she truly embodies Emma Bloom.
One of the things I feel I must address more before closing off is the use of fascinating found photography in the book. It truly turns Miss Peregine’s books from powerful prose about super powered teenagers, love and time travel into something else. These photos are all real and have their own story… a story that is not the story of Ransom Riggs book. One can build upon the story in each photograph and add layers not there, tangents explored only by each readers imagination and they truly add to the series. As a photographer myself and a lover of other photographers and just photography as a whole it pulls me in. Even in my own collection I have photos I don’t recall taking of people, places, things and they are weird and eerie. Tricks of the light, weird optical illusions happened in shooting, processing or developing the photo be it old style film or digital. It is this aspect that has brought me back to these books more than once after reading them despite the series being only 4 years old in publication and I think the same would go for anyone.
Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children & Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (published by Quirk Books) are both available now in hardcover and paperback from all booksellers.
(I close with an accidental photo I have shot years ago and loved after seeing it in my roll, which I have no answer for but I feel tells a story, one even more fascinating then if I knew what it was I meant to photograph originally)
I 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
Here is a Twitter conversation I had with Doogie Horner in response to a questions I had about his forthcoming book 100 GHOSTS and working on the review:
Doogie Horner: “Writing about ghosts is like dancing about architecture.” –the ghost of Steve Martin
Reid Harris Cooper: Then it should be easy, I choreographed an entire ballet about the oeuvre of Frank Lloyd Wright. #liesthatlookedbetterinmyhead
If you’ve watched America’s Got Talent in a regular succession or follow comedians on Youtube or maybe even go to comedy clubs then you have had the privilege of hearing Doogie Horner‘s off the cuff, slightly irreverent humor that goes for fast laughs and good quips. If you haven’t well, you can either go watch him on Youtube or read him or twitter, his stuff is as funny on paper as it is on stage.
Another of his skills in comedy though is translating his thoughts into art. His first funny book was full of hilarious charts, all very pop-culture in nature, because, well, Doogie is a pure geek at heart. He loves all things books, comics, movies, television, all of it and it really shows.
His NEXT book is some of his most obscure humor though and it is very very quirky and quick witted but from the visual standpoint. Titled 100 GHOSTS: A GALLERY OF HARMLESS HAUNTS, it’s quite literally just that. 100 ghost drawings that are simply so harmless you can’t be scared but only laugh and smile at these silly-dilly floating sheets with eye holes.
While the majority of them are harmless, a few ARE creepy, scary, strange or bewildering. Especially things like Skull Ghost, but those as well as Muppet Ghost, Some Assembly Required Ghost, and Vinyl Ghost also show Doogie’s not only brilliance, but that he actually learned something in art school.
Yes, you read correctly, Doogie Horner is not a standup comedian, that’s his accidental career. At least I remember hearing that somewhere where he said something like that and in another video he mentioned going to art school. So let’s just go with that, because you know?
If THAT doesn’t make you want this book I don’t know what will. It means you have no soul, you aren’t even a harmless ghost, you’re a no ghost…. Not a Ghost. You know somewhere in this book there’s a ghost like that… probably, get a copy and check for me. 100 ghosts is a lot of ghosts!
100 GHOSTS: A Gallery of Harmless Ghosts from QUIRK Books comes out on September 10, 2013 for $9.95 in adorably sized hardcover.
For more information check out the books official website.