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Category Archives: Books

So, Anyway … by John Cleese

If there’s a common characteristic in many of John Cleese’s characters, from Basil Fawlty to A Fish Called Wanda’s Archie Leach to the many upper-class twits he played on Monty Python’s Flying Circus, it’s the way they all try to maintain a sense of politeness and propriety even as the absurdity of the situation they’re in quickly escalates. Think of his frustrated […]

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Fish by Bianca Bagnarelli

Fish (Amazon, Powell’s) is the first in a new imprint from Nobrow Press called 17×23, designed to highlight new graphic novelists in a short story format. Italian cartoonist Bagnarelli is the first up with an elegant package that presents a range of darkness in a bright format. Milo is being raised by his grandparents after the death of his parents after […]

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The Aeronaut by Alexis Frederick-Frost

  Alexis Frederick-Frost’s silent The Aeronaut is a brief delight, but one that has heart beyond its size. Inspired by Sir John Herschel’s clearly false account of the crazy visions of the moon that he spied through his huge telescope and Edgar Allen Poe’s equally disingenuous tales of his balloon crossing of the Atlantic, both for the New York Sun in the […]

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Debbie’s Inferno by Anne Emond

Periodically, someone will come along with a riff on Dante’s Inferno, but too often they focus on the  horrors rather than the clarity. That’s a mistake Anne Emond’s Debbie’s Inferno doesn’t make. Nor does it turn into a finger-wagging tour of other people’s distress, and that’s what truly makes it a great little comic. The set-up is simple enough. Debbie […]

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Approaching the End: Imagining Apocalypse in American Film by Peter Labuza

The apocalypse is always just over the horizon, particularly if you live near a multiplex or have a Netflix subscription. Hollywood’s fascination with the end of the world is nothing new (as Charlton Heston’s early ‘70s career demonstrates), but recent years have seen a deluge of apocalyptic cinema, from disaster movies (2012, The Day After Tomorrow) to dystopian sci-fi (The […]

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Modern Sci-Fi Films FAQ by Tom DeMichael

Attempting to encapsulate a genre as broad and diverse as science fiction is a nearly impossible task, so I have to give Tom DeMichael credit for even trying. The author of Modern Sci-Fi Films FAQ (Amazon, iBooks, Powell’s), one of the latest in Applause Books’ popular FAQ series, DeMichael smartly limits his survey of significant movies in the genre to […]

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Film Noir 101: The 101 Best Film Noir Posters from the 1940s-1950s by Mark Fertig

Perhaps no film genre has inspired as much debate as film noir about what it does and doesn’t mean. It’s generally accepted that the term refers to movies released, approximately, in the two decades after WWII, generally shot in black and white, with plots involving crime and featuring a generally bleak outlook. However, as Mark Fertig notes in the introduction […]

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Jules Feiffer

It was a few years ago that I spoke with the  legendary Jules Feiffer in regard to the 50th anniversary of The Phantom Tollbooth, which he illustrated from Norton Juster’s story. His new book, Kill My Mother, has just been released. I’m sure I’ll review that, but I thought its release was a good opportunity for me to make available […]

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Antibodies by Antoine d’Agata

Antibodies (Amazon, IndieBound, Powell’s) is like an overload of information you don’t want, like too many postcards from from a hopeless subconscious that you never wanted to set loose, and yet you probably won’t look away from it. You can’t even process every bit of minutiae presented and that will keep you looking.What does it all mean? Does it need to mean […]

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Wild Art by David Carrier and Joachim Pissarro

I like the term “wild art” so much better than “outsider art.” Not that they are exclusively related or anything. “Wild art is the vast proliferation of art forms that occur beyond the perimeters of the established art world,” the book explains in its introduction. It then goes on to differentiate itself from “outsider art,” and explains that wild art […]

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Hearts by Thereza Rowe

  Hearts (Amazon, iBooks, Powell’s) is a simple graphical delight with a lot of emotion behind it that is sure to thrill the parents who share this book with their kid. Penelope the Fox says goodbye to her best friend, who is going on a rocket ship trip, and accidentally drops her own heart into the ocean. Of course she dives […]

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Henry Darger by Klaus Biesenbach

Henry Darger, like photographer Vivian Maier, has been claimed by the proper art world and there’s nothing we people out here can do to reclaim him. It’s too far gone. But any of us might have quietly labored with our own massive creatives works without any proper training or any clear intention of trying to introduce them to the world, […]

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dr.a.g. by Christopher Logan

I have kind of a love/hate relationship with Drag performers. On one hand, they can be incredibly witty, subversive and astute, spinning an interpretation of an iconic performer on its head and portraying that person in a way that has fleshed out their soul, so that they become even more of who they were originally. There’s Jim Bailey’s “Judy Garland,” […]

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Targets by Herlinde Koelbl

This compelling book (Amazon, Powell’s) has German photographer Herlinde Koelbl focusing her lens on a sideshow of war and violence that speaks to the desensitivity required to fight at all — the training camps of soldiers around the world. From the U.S. to Afghanistan to Japan to Pakistan and loads more inbetween, Koelbl has captured images of the scenes of war […]

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The Times by Fred Tomaselli

  If it never quite seems that the world is actually ending, a endless parade of disasters, outrages, misfortunes, and general weirdness can give you the exact same feeling as if it actually were. As if cataloging the causes of this uneasiness, Fred Tomaselli took New York Times front pages and used the iconic layouts for art, collected here in […]

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Artists Writers Thinkers Dreamers by James Gulliver Hancock & World Gone Wild: A Survivor’s Guide to Post-Apocalyptic Movies by David J. Moore

Hancock’s previous claim to fame was his attempt to draw all the buildings of New York for the blog and book of the same title, an effort that saw much lovely work with minimal amounts of context for the figures. Artists, Writers, Thinkers, Dreamers (Amazon, Powell’s) is both the exact opposite and, yet, oddly similar in capturing the biographies of 50 […]

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Elizabeth Kolbert

I had the really good fortune to speak with New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert about her recent book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (Amazon, iBooks, Powell’s). Kolbert is well-known for her writings about climate change, and this book she ups the ante, linking that with mass extinction and drawing the line of causation in human history, and as part […]

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Awkward Moments Not Found In Your Average Children’s Bible by Horus Gilgamesh and Agnes Tickheathen

I’ve had conversations with others in my generation about a particular children’s Bible that still haunts us. It was filled with the general, watered-down-for-kids Bible stories that most of us were raised on — and too many of us hold as the actual Biblical text — meant for maximum awe of God. Somewhere in there, though, is the moment that […]

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