Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Your Country Needs You!!!

My fellow Americans: last night Uncle Sam came down from the planet Vulcan and told me that if I didn't convince you to buy the following books, he'd melt my brain. There's not much left to my gray matter, folks, and what I gots I wantsta keeps! Help a guy out here!

Interworld, M is for Magic, Stardust HC - Count 'em: Three new books by Neil Gaiman! Well, M is for Magic and Stardust are reprints (the former being a new collection of short stories, the latter an oversize fancy-schmanzy edition of the soon-to-be motion picture's inspiration, gorgeously illustrated by painter Charles Vess). But Interworld's a brand new all-ages tale of "adventure, danger, magic, science, friendship, spaceships [!] and... the battle to save all the people in all the worlds in all possible dimensions," written with Michael Reaves, he of voluminous SF street cred (Star Trek, Star Wars, Twilight Zone). First person narrated by likeable mook Joey Harker, Interworld dazzles.

Jeff Smith The Art of Bone - Following in their burgeoning tradition of publishing must-have artbooks by the world's leading cartoonists (past books have focussed on Frank Miller, Mike Mignola, and Stan Sakai) Dark Horse released this gem last week. The cover price is a little steep, but forty bucks is small potatoes for the genius within. Jeff is one of the greatest comic book storytellers of all time, and The Art of Bone explores his beginnings (he's been drawing this series since he was nine!), his process, and just about everything else imaginable in The Valley. Flipping through it's pages I got a little misty recalling how much I treasure and revere my namesake's work (I'm not at all a shy guy, yet for all my opportunities to do so, I've never met Mr. Smith, always my head swimming and finding some excuse to retie my shoes or some such) and how I envy those of you who have yet to experience his magnificent stories. This a must for anybody who likes breathing, let alone comics.

The Early Years of Mutt & Jeff - So the success of Fantagraphics' Peanuts collections have made publishers comic strip crazy? So what? Classic strips are our roots, their reprints an American culture inevitability, nay- necessity! And now NBM presents a best of (no duds here, nor day by day archival nightmare) Bud Fisher's masterpiece. These comics taken from 1909-1913 highlight such screwball antics of the title characters as to make Fisher the first cartoonist celebrity. That's not a typo.

The Artist Within - Photographs of Cartoonists, Comic Book Artists, Animators and Others by Greg Preston. Speaking of cartoonists as celebrities, I must mention how utterly enthralled and transfixed I am by this heavy number. From Kirby on down the line, the hefty collection of artists' profiles is a "living history of the men and women who have shaped the imaginations of countless millions of people around the world." Leaf through it and realize many of their homes and studios resemble yours (filled with toys, comics, reference, and such). Even the ones that don't leave one in awe. Hollywood can keep their "collaborative effort" and nonsense auteurism, and their acre chewing lots; the lifeblood of comics and SF is one human sitting at a desk, their imagination, and their pen.

Some Notable Notes:
July 4th birthdays FP employee James Wrona (30, sucker) and Satchmo himself, Mr. Loius Armstong, who thought his birthday to be the 4th of July. Here in New York WKCR 89.9 celebrates with a two day marathon from The Hot Five to Hello Dolly that I would hook myself up to intravenously if I could.


On Wednesday, July 11th, Forbidden Planet will present an evening with renowned graphic novelists Peter Kuper (Stop Forgetting and Remember) and Kevin Pyle (Blindspot) at 7:00 at the Strand Bookstore 828 Broadway on the corner of 12th St. These co-events are quickly becoming some of my favorite nights- be there.

And let's just keep that whole misty thing between us, okay?



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