Monday, September 24, 2018

Art Matters: Because Your Imagination Can Change the World by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell

Art Matters: Because Your Imagination Can Change the World
by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell
Published by Headline Books • September 23, 2014
128 Pages • ISBN 978-1472260086 • Hardcover



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Book description:
A stunning and timely creative call-to-arms combining four extraordinary written pieces by Neil Gaiman illustrated with the striking four-color artwork of Chris Riddell. (This is taken from the US edition - the UK edition's illustrations are in B&W.)

“The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.”—Neil Gaiman

Drawn from Gaiman’s trove of published speeches, poems, and creative manifestos,
Art Matters is an embodiment of this remarkable multi-media artist’s vision—an exploration of how reading, imagining, and creating can transform the world and our lives.

Art Matters bring together four of Gaiman’s most beloved writings on creativity and artistry:

  • “Credo,” his remarkably concise and relevant manifesto on free expression, first delivered in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings
  • “Make Good Art,” his famous 2012 commencement address delivered at the Philadelphia University of the Arts
  • “Making a Chair,” a poem about the joys of creating something, even when words won’t come
  • “On Libraries,” an impassioned argument for libraries that illuminates their importance to our future and celebrates how they foster readers and daydreamers
Featuring original illustrations by Gaiman’s longtime illustrator, Chris Riddell, Art Matters is a stirring testament to the freedom of ideas that inspires us to make art in the face of adversity, and dares us to choose to be bold.


The best review I can give this book is to just read it, absorb it, live it, read it again.

This.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Absolute Batman: The Killing Joke: 30th Anniversary Edition by Alan Moore, illustrated by Brian Bolland


Absolute Batman: The Killing Joke: 30th Anniversary Edition
by Alan Moore, illustrated by Brian Bolland
Published by DC Comics • September 23, 2014
152 Pages • ISBN 978-1401284121 • Hardcover



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Book description:
One bad day. Freed once again from the confines of Arkham Asylum, The Joker is out to prove a deranged point. And he's going to use Gotham City's top cop, commissioner Jim Gordon, and his brilliant daughter Barbara (a.k.a. Batgirl) to do it. Now Batman must race to stop his archnemesis before his reign of terror claims two of the Dark Knight's closest friends.

Critically acclaimed writer Alan Moore redefined the superhero with
Watchmen and V for Vendetta. In Batman: The Killing Joke, he takes on the origin of comics' greatest super-villain, The Joker, and changes Batman's world forever.

Absolute Batman: The Killing Joke: 30th Anniversary Edition includes both the recolored art by artist Brian Bolland and the original colors by John Higgins, along with the never-before-published scripts, and numerous Batman and Joker sketches and stories by Bolland.

Collects
Batman: Black and White #4; Batman: The Killing Joke; Countdown #31; Cover Story: The DC Comics Art of Brian Bolland; Joker: Last Laugh #1, #6; Joker's Greatest Stories Ever Told; Who's Who in the DC Universe #13 and Wonder Woman #96.

Even going into this new 35th Anniversary Absolute edition of Batman: The Killing Joke knowing there wasn't much new here to flesh out an entire Absolute offering, the redundancy was overwhelmingly obvious when I finally got the volume in hand and read it thru. Including the various covers and pinups attached to the series was a nice addition, the script was interesting to flip thru, and the additional short stories from other volumes helped fill out the volume, but basically running the entire story 3 times in a row in one volume (the new recolored edition on better paper, the original colored edition on basically newsprint, and then the script) was a little overkill for me. Don't get me wrong, like all of DC's Absolute editions, this is an impressive volume, but unless you are a serious hardcore The Killing Joke fan, skip this for one of the cheaper editions available. (Normally, I give this book a 4 star rating, but the redundancy of this project dropped this particular volume down a star.)

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Old-Fashioned Snow: A Story by May Sarton

The Old-Fashioned Snow: A Story
by May Sarton
Published by William B. Ewert, Publisher • 1992
20 Pages • Handsewn in Paper Wrappers



It's a rare occasion for me to discover a May Sarton publication that I don't own or know existed, so imagine my surprise when this slim edition of Sarton's short story "The Old-Fashioned Snow" popped up on eBay last week. I immediately jumped on the auction and it was delivered yesterday. It is a gorgeous 2 color printing designed by John Kristensen, printed and handsewn in wrappers by Firefly Press in Somerville, MA. It's the story of Uncle Charles, who may or may not remember things exactly as they were in his childhood, as he shares a day of fun and frolic with his nieces during an old-fashioned snow. Sarton again uses her keen insight into old age and weaves a touching and heartwarming story that shows while some memories may become exaggerated in old age, they can still be just as important no matter how they are remembered. A wonderful addition to my collection, and another of Sarton's stories for my to cherish.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

SHOCK edited by Joe Pruett



SHOCK
by Neil Gaiman, Cullen Bunn, Andy Clarke, Francesco Francavilla, Bill Willingham, Jim Starlin, Marguerite Bennett, Paul Jenkins, Mike Carey, Marco Croner, Charles Vess, Brian Azzarello, Frank Tieri, Michael Gaydos, Joe Pruett, Mac Guggenheim, Stephan Nilson, Aaron Douglas, Richard Starkings, Mike Zagari, & Marko Stojanović; illustrated by Michael Zulli, Leila Leiz, Andy Clarke, Francesco Francavilla, Travis Moore, Phil Hester, Hoyt Silva, Dalibor Talajić, Szymon Kudranski, Andre Robinson, Charles Vess, Toni Fejzula, Joe Eisma, Michael Gaydos, Cliff Richards, Laci, Wesly Gunn, Sarah Delanie, Will Sliney, & Ivan Šanović

Published by AfterShock Comics • April 24, 2018
160 Pages • ISBN 978-1935002659 • Hardcover



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Book description:
AfterShock Comics continues to push boundaries by presenting its very first anthology collection featuring a slew of today’s top writers and artists. Presented in the European Album format (same as the recent Animosity: the Rise hardcover for LCSD), this handsome hardcover features the creative talents of Neil Gaiman, Michael Zulli, Charles Vess, Michael Gaydos, Andy Clarke, Andrew Robinson, Mike Carey, Jim Starlin, Phil Hester, Paul Jenkins, Dalibor Talajic, Bill Willingham, Travis Moore, Brian Azzarello, Francesco Francavilla, Cullen Bunn, Marc Guggenheim, Marguerite Bennett, Frank Tieri, Brian Stelfreeze, Szymon Kudranski and more! Cover art by John Cassaday!

From the multiple Eisner and Harvey Award nominated editor of the classic
Negative Burn anthology series.


AfterShock Comics' SHOCK is a solid anthology, comprised of stories ranging from the horrific to the fantastical to the out of this world, with many reading like a print version of Black Mirror. Opening with a typically Gaiman-esque witch's tale from Neil Gaiman, gorgeously illustrated by Michael Zulli, the reader is also treated to alien invasions gone wrong, the horrors of war, wishes come true (but at what cost?), revenge, fairy tale retellings, and an especially moving story tied into the events of 9/11. As with any anthology, some stories are better than others, but overall there wasn't a single story here that felt out of place. I'm hoping that AfterShock turns this into an annual (or more frequent) release, building on the talent that they brought together for this premier release.

An excellent start to from my haunting 2018!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Love Letters to Jane's World by Paige Braddock

Love Letters to Jane's World
by Paige Braddock
Published by Lion Forge • August 21, 2018
304 Pages • ISBN 978-1549302756 • Paperback



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Book description:
This essential Jane's World collection debuts twenty years after Jane Wyatt first appeared in Paige Braddock's trailblazing comics strip about a young lesbian woman making her clumsy way in the world and the friends who help (or hinder) her along the journey. The Eisner-nominated Jane's World was the first syndicated comic strip with a lesbian main character to appear in many major newspaper markets. This new volume collects the most quintessentially "Jane" storylines from the strip's early, middle, and later years, and pairs them with "love letters" and notes of appreciation from notable fans.


Love Letters to Jane's World by Paige Braddock, who created the first syndicated comic to feature a lesbian main character, is a funny, goofy book with a ridiculously likeable cast of characters that I found myself enjoying more and more as I read about them. While not a progressive series of stories from the comic, this is more of a "greatest hits" collection of Jane & Co's shenanigans, paired with "love letters" from fans. I'm going to have to find Jane's World either online or in print and read this in order. It's a gem of a fun story.

I received an eARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Upgrade Soul by Ezra Claytan Daniels

Upgrade Soul
by Ezra Claytan Daniels
Published by Lion Forge • September 18, 2018
272 Pages • ISBN 978-1549302923 • Paperback



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Book description:
"Thoughtful and beautifully illustrated science fiction. A masterful comic book experience." - Farel Dalrymple, The Wrenchies, Pop Gun War, Omega Man
-
For their 45th anniversary, Hank and Molly Nonnar decide to undergo an experimental rejuvenation procedure, but their hopes for youth are dashed when the couple is faced with the results: severely disfigured yet intellectually and physically superior duplicates of themselves. Can the original Hank and Molly coexist in the same world as their clones? In
Upgrade Soul, McDuffie Award-winning creator Ezra Claytan Daniels asks probing questions about what shapes our identity-Is it the capability of our minds or the physicality of our bodies? Is a newer, better version of yourself still you? This page-turning graphic novel follows the lives of Hank and Molly as they discover the harsh truth that only one version of themselves is fated to survive.


To be honest, I'm not sure exactly how I feel about Ezra Claytan Daniels' Upgrade Soul; on the one hand it's a brilliant, challenging, and dark cautionary tale about the dangers of immorality in science, and on the other it's a slow and sometimes confusing study of individuality and what makes a person a person, the body, soul, or mind. I think some could categorize this as a science fiction story, while others could see it as horror; it does meet somewhere in the middle of these genres.

For their 45th anniversary, the Fred and Molly Nonnar decide to finance and undergo an experimental procedure that in theory will rejuvenate their cells and make them younger, stronger, smarter, and better in every way so that they can live an even longer and more fulfilled life than the one they have now. However, the scientists behind the procedure are not completely upfront about what the procedure will actually do, and instead of rejuvenating their own bodies, the Nonnars discover that they were to be cloned into a new body, with their memories and life experiences uploaded into these new bodies. However, something goes horribly wrong, and the clones come out of the procedure wildly disfigured, but better than their original bodies in every other way, while the Nonnars are left weaker and more feeble than before. What comes of this is back and forth tension about which pair is more "qualified" to live, the originals who are left lesser than they were before, or the clones, who are now superior, but ultimately incapable of living a "normal" life due to their disfigurations. There are several side plots concerning the actually motivation of the scientist heading up the program, a love story or two, and the families thoughts on what has happened to the Nonnars, but at the end of the day, this book is ultimately their story. I think it is a challenging book and pushes you to think about what makes you an individual, but it just didn't resonate with me as much as I would have liked. The story was sometimes too slow, the art sometimes too sparse, the timeline sometimes too confusing. Still, I'm glad that I read it. This book will have its audience and I think that it's going to start conversations about what it implies.

I received an eARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

from my haunting 2018



Generally I save a lot of my creepier, scarier books for October; there's something about the settling in of autumn and the weeks leading up to Halloween that puts me in the mood for ghost stories and the like. This year, we had a little bit of a cold snap a couple weeks back and it immediately put me in that mood earlier than normal. Of course, we're right back into summer temps; that cold snap didn't last long. So I'm bumping up my month of creepy reading and starting it in September. I've a couple of books in the works right now, so as I finish those I'll be starting the books that make me wonder what that knock in the middle of the night really is...