Ian Anderson - Silent Singing (Rocket 88)

It's a lyric book! It's a photography book! It's an observational artist history! Wait - Silent Singing is all this and more!

Both as a solo artist and the pen behind Jethro Tull, Ian Anderson has always offered listeners much more than "Hey, hey pretty baby, drive in my big fast car!" lyrically. Yes, there have been songs about relationships. Even a song or three involving vehicles. Add to those politics, religion, the human condition, environment, and a smorgasbord of other topics. And cats. Not your every day lyrics.

The book contains every Jethro Tull lyric from This Was to The Zealot Gene and all points between as well as every Ian Anderson solo album. Except, of course, Divinities as it was an entirely instrumental album. Added to each album is a fine photograph by Anderson relating to a song from each release. On top of the we also get an introductory set of comments by Anderson about each project. All beautifully laid out in one heck of a gorgeous hardcover.

I'll not mince words : You need this absolutely splendid book!! Essential. Get it here : Silent Singing

Annoying Orange #1 (Papercutz)

I've seen the image. It is indeed annoying! I've never seen the TV series, but I have great nieces & nephews that love it. The premise is about as simple as it gets: there's a talking orange and it's annoying. The end. This comic version from Papercutz puts the property in the more than capable hands of Scott Shaw! and Mike Kazelah. A wise choice!

Issue #1 carries the subtitle Secret Agent Orange. To that point, there is a Bond parody that takes up a decent chunk of the 64 pages. The rest are unrelated short gags. From the artistic end, both Shaw! and Kazelah are smooth fits with Kazelah's brushier inks a nice contrast to Shaw's crisp line. The stories are funny overall. I enjoyed the short pieces more than the longer stuff, but that's just me.

As with all Papercutz books, production is off the hook. Color is wonderful, lettering is top shelf. I handed this to my 11 year old great niece & she immediately smiled as she dove in. Do you need a higher recommendation than that? Adults will get a chuckle as well. Success!

Archie Archives - Volume Three (Dark Horse Books)

Welcome to 1944! This stellar volume of the Archie Archives collects stories from Pep #46 - 50 and Archie #7 - 10. Initially created by Bob Montana to cash in on the then hot Henry Aldrich radio character, at this point Archie Andrews and his Riverdale cohorts were starting to hit stride.

While there is only 1 page of Bob Montana art to be found here, the majority is in the capable hands of Harry Sahle - often inked by Janice Valleu (a/k/a "Ginger"). Stylistically, it's light years from the iconic Dan DeCarlo / Stan Goldberg Archie we know and love. It's a bit rough around the edges but certainly no less charming. Sahle drew pin up-y women with generous curves. His layouts were clear and direct as well as intensely creative. His Archie The Caveman from Archie #9 is a total tour-de-force and funny as all get out!

Dark Horse did an A+ job on this hardcover. Reproduction is spot on. Color is sharp, well saturated, and feels right for the era. Everything about this book speaks of quality and care. Want to smile? Want to see what great comics used to look like? Pick up this volume and visit with Archie and the gang!

Archie's Campfire Stories (Archie)

FULL DISCLOSURE : I wrote 2 of the stories in this book! You all know by now that I've been a professional cartoonist since 1983. As I said, I wrote 2 of the stories in this collection - back in 1989/90. Both were penciled by Stan Goldberg and inked by Henry Scarpelli. OK, that's out of the way!

This paperback collects stories relating to camping spanning several decades of Archie & the gang. Writers like Frank Doyle, Bob Bolling and George Gladir. Artists like Dan DeCarlo, Harry Lucey, Fernando Ruiz, and the aforementioned Goldberg, Scarpelli & Bolling are all over these pages. While the stories are from various generations, they all fall under the umbrella of "Wholesome kid-friendly family fun." Nothing controversial. Just fun.

All of your favorites are here : Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, Reggie, Big Ethel, Chuck, Nancy, Moose, Midge, Pops, and the Riverdale faculty. There are even a few Li'l Jinx stories to boot! Join the whole gang for s'mores and hot dogs by the campfire. Plenty of laughs and groans and the occasional bikini!

Ariol #1 (Papercutz)

Just A Donkey Like You And Me says the subtitle of the first graphic novel. Ariol is the creation of writer Emmanuel Guibert and artist Marc Boutavant. Papercutz has imported and translated this disarmingly simple character from France. Ariol is a donkey in form, but a precocious young boy in spirit.

Ariol is a daydreamer - a little donkey with a big imagination. He's got a major crush on a pig named Petula, yet is petrified to let her know. Guibert and Boutavant create a totally plausible world for their characters to inhabit. It really does engage you emotionally - always a sign of excellent writing. Boutavant keeps things simple in terms of style. No line is wasted. The effect is timeless. Ariol's life and strife are relatable to most any generation.

This gave me the feeling of the great series of my youth: Curious George, Tintin, Babar, Asterix. That really speaks for itself, doesn't it? I hate the phrase instant classic, so I will say potential classic. Kids and adults will find much here to love.

Inio Asano - Goodnight Punpun Volume 1 (Viz)

It's rare that I truly come across something different. I found it here. Sure, it's a sort of coming-of-age story (at least so far). Inio Asano presents it in a fresh, fascinating way.

Punpun, the lead, is drawn as a sort of simplified bird creature. The rest of the characters remind me more than a bit of Jamie Hewlett's Tank Girl stylings but filtered through a Japanese point of view. Inio Asano's art has depth and resonance. Graphically complex but direct. The story flows very smoothly & compellingly. You really want to know where this one goes. Emotionally honest, I would say.

Viz did a fine job on the package. Everything about this book oozes quality and attention to detail. I hope they keep sending me this series as I'd love to know where Punpun's life goes next!

Brian Michael Bendis / Marc Andreyko - Torso (Icon)

One of my nephews handed me this book and suggested that I'd find it interesting. He was correct. Torso is based on a true story about a mass murderer in the mid 1930s pursued by Eliot Ness not long after his infamous Untouchables days going after Al Capone.

Brian Michael Bendis turns in a nicely compelling script, keeping things moving while still delving into detail. Marc Andreyko's black & white art is quite stark. At times I had a difficult time telling characters apart as they were drawn with great similarity. Perhaps this was intentional. A few storytelling caveats aside, Andreyko does a solid job of interpreting Bendis' script.

A photo essay of the actual case is also included. Production values are of the finest kind - Torso is a beautiful book despite the gruesome topic. Very well done.

Miki Berenyi - Fingers Crossed (Nine Eight Books)

Subtitled How Music Saved Me From Success, this is the new memoir of former Lush frontwoman / current Piroshka member Miki Berenyi. Having been quite a fan of both, I was on board for this book as soon as I heard it was in the pipeline! I was not disappointed!

Berenyi takes the reader through her life pretty much chronologically. As an aside, we share part of the same world. The Wombles, The New Avengers, and the James Bond flick You Only Live Twice (my fave Bond) are all referenced via her mom & step-dad. A very colorful childhood is clouded by abuse and lots of doubt. Berenyi is very candid - unflinchingly so. She pulls you in close and you truly experience her emotions. Honestly - this memoir made me cry on several occasions. For all the sad notes, there are fine, fun & adventurous moments to be found as well. Yes, I am deliberately avoiding specific stories because the joy & impact of discovery of them needn't be spoiled!

Berenyi has a talent for detail and setting any given scene. I felt like I was there. At times it was like I was intruding during several ultra-personal moments. The book seamlessly transitions from youth to teens to college to band. The reader walks along with Miki Berenyi as she meets and connects with the different members of Lush. The rigors of the road and the occasional ridiculous misadventures, egos, and fiascos are all here. Lush fans will certainly be well-satisfied as we learn lots of behind-the-scenes and behind-the-songs information. A wealth of anecdotes and juicy stories.

Fingers Crossed left me emotionally exhausted in the best possible way. No agendas. No ego stroking. Honesty and raw emotions. Easily the book of the year for this Wilcox. My highest possible recommendation!

Ed Biro - The Woman Who Camped Alone (Ed Biro)

Little known fact: I love poetry. Robert Browning, Emily Dickinson, & Lord Byron being a few of my faves. I was pleased to recieve this volume in my mail box. Ed Biro is a poet & musician mostly based here in Connecticut but no stranger to the Seattle area as well.

Poems like The Garden Of Denial, Dinner Time, and Talisman are technicolor landscapes of words. Passionate, emotional, unflinchingly personal. Sometimes tender, sometimes raw, always real. Love, death, angst, fear, humor. Biro uses a complex palette to paint his word pictures.

Biro perhaps unknowningly described himself in his award winning poem The Woman Who Camped Alone : A Heaven-lusting poet writing sonnets to the other side. Indeed. A volume well worth owning. Quite a unique voice.

Eric Bischoff (with Jeremy Roberts) - Controversy Creates Cash 389 pg. (Pocket Books / WWE)

In the late 90s, WCW not only competed with the WWE, it flat out kicked its butt! The man behind the scenes as well as on camera, was Eric Bischoff. This book gives a good deal of industry insight on a level rarely seen. What separates this book from others is the amount of detail Bischoff gives about running a business. Marketing strategies. Thinking not just months, but years ahead in terms of planning . Dealing with talent, etc. Fascinating and revealing. He is also very honest about himself. Bischoff is open about his flaws and failures and this only strengthens the narrative.

The only sore spot as a reader is his vocal disdain for fans of promotions that are not the ones he is working for. Another part of being brutally honest. Controversy Creates Cash is not afraid to name names, and there's plenty of "dirt" on many performers and execs. Randy "Macho Man" Savage, Hulk Hogan, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, Scott Hall, Goldberg, are seen through a different lens. Bischoff's views on running the wrestling business easily apply to most any other business & are quite inspiring. The book is a gripping, solid read sure to please wrestling fans and people looking for a peek behind the doors of the Ted Turner empire.

Kate Bush - How To Be Invisible (Faber & Faber)

How To Be Invisible is a book of Kate Bush lyrics presented as poetry. It it prefaced with an introduction by author David Mitchell of Cloud Atlas fame. It should be noted that Mitchell also worked with Bush on her Before The Dawn live shows in 2014, co-writing the spoken sections added to The Ninth Wave section of the shows. I will admit to finding his introduction squealishly fannish & useless. It adds zero context to the book, but I guess a "big" name never hurts in certain circles.

Nost every lyric from The Dreaming onward can be found here including B-sides like Under The Ivy and soundtrack pieces like Lyra. There are judicious chunks of the 1st 3 albums as well. Pieces like Moving, Delius (Song Of Summer), Kashka From Baghdad, and Oh England My Lionheart (retitled England My Lionheart) and others represent those albums well. I am mystified why other songs were left out, but Bush has said nothing to date, which is by no means unusual.

Reading all 87 lyrics in one go, it all fits together like pieces of some vast puzzle. Intimate and quirky in spots, enigmatic in others. Wildly creative as a whole. Leave It Open made me smile for reasons I'll not reveal here. My highest recommendation!

Dave Cartwright - Bittersweet (Cherry Red Books)

Bittersweet is a biography of British singer / songwriter Clifford T Ward. Ward sadly left this world in late 2001. Well before that, he wrote wonderful songs like Cellophane, The Open University, Wherewithal, Scullery, and Home Thoughts From Abroad.

Bittersweet certainly is a long, detailed portrait of Ward. Cartwright talks to friends and encouragers of Ward like Jimmy Page, Chris DeBurgh, and Jeff Lynne. But if it's a portrait, it's a Dorian Gray-like one full of dark, ugly colors. Ward comes across as cheap, callous, self absorbed, unappreciative. If there was an ill word to be found about Ward, Cartwright found it. His wife is portrayed as an innocent victim of his whims. His business pals painted as altruistic yet rebuffed victims as well. Over 300 pages of "He wrote this great song, but ... " If you're a fan of Ward, this is the equivalent of visiting Santa's grave.

Is Bittersweet a book full of lies? I honestly don't know. The author professes his >love for Ward, but his work shows otherwise. I left the book wondering if anything was gained by reading it ...

Paddy Chayefsky - Middle Of The Night (Samuel French)

Like many people, I first became aware of Paddy Chayefsky through the film Marty with Ernest Borgnine. It was about everyday working people and the dialogue felt real. It felt like the way people actually speak. Not idealized dialogue. It's very much the same with Middle Of The Night.

This 1957 play starred Edward G. Robinson, Gena Rowlands in the main roles and notably Martin Balsam as Robinson's son in law. The premise here is what I used to hear described as a May / December romance. Robinson's 53 year old character falls for Rowlands' 24 year old character. This does not go down well with either of their families.

The play is dialogue-packed. Very natural. Very down-to-Earth stuff. Chayefsky definitely crafts engaging, engrossing conversations. Mesmerizing. I could not put this play down. It puts you through a rollercoaster of emotions. I was spent by the final curtain. A truly rewarding piece of work!

Chyna (with Michael Angeli) - If They Only Knew (Regan / Harper)

Joanie Laurer (a/k/a Chyna) released this autobiography back in January of 2001, shortly before her release from WWF and 15 years before her tragic death by accidental overdose in 2016. It's full of perspective.

If They Only Knew is written from the standpoint of a tremendously unhappy woman. An unflinching look that will make any reader flinch and shake their head. Laurer was used and emotionally abused from the get go. Her dad a mellifluous con man; her mom a shrill, nasty woman going through man after man and doing her best to selfishly drive her children away. Not a great starting point.

Laurer was taller & stronger than most of the girls she grew up with and she was clearly searching for approval and security and rarely found either. The journey leads to wrestling, where things don't get much better.

Divas and lots of jealous agendas are roadblocks the newly christened "Chyna" never fully circumvents. She is a true trailblazer, but it would take years past this autobiography to have the business and the world gain that perspective. If They Only Knew is an intimate and revealing read that's hard to put down. A fascinating look at a woman seeking a bit of smooth sailing that honestly never found it. Highly recommended.

Phil Collins - Not Dead Yet (Three Rivers Pres)

Phil Collins subtitled this one The Memoir. Released in 2016, 2 years after Mike Rutherford's autobiography, it's the 2nd memoir by a member of Genesis. I came into it with great curiosity.

I interrupt for a pertinent story. Back in the mid-80s, I met flute player Danny Wilding. He was half of the act Wilding / Bonus who recorded the album Pleasure Signals back in 1978. Joining Wilding & Bonus were the guys from Brand X including Phil Collins. Go back several years & you'd learn that while still an A&R guy for Island records, Wilding was instrumental in getting the guys in Brand X together in the first place. Just ask Wilding. Or Percy Jones for that matter. It's just a fact. A fact that Collins never mentions in this book. No surprise. It's also no surprise that he barely mentions Steve Hackett - something he shares in common with Rutherford's book. Other common views - Collins & Rutherford hate Paul Whitehead's classic Genesis album covers. Both barely mention David Hentschel. Both offer almost zero insight into Genesis music. Collins knocks songs like Can-Utility And The Coastliners and The Battle Of Epping Forest and saves his praise for songs like Invisible Touch and his solo songs Against All Odds and In The Air Tonight.

The main thrust of the book is to name drop Eric Clapton, Robert Plant, Sting & Elton John ad nauseum and justify endless infidelities. Collins infamously dumped 2nd wife Jill by fax. He devotes a chapter to denying it, then goes on to say that he let her know he wanted to end the marriage...by fax. Go figure. The book is honest to a degree but is heavy on justifying his actions. Do whatever strikes you at the moment with no regard for others, then apologize later & wallow in victimhood. By the end of the book I was worn out. A bit whiny & arrogant.

Robert Michael "Bobb" Cotter - A History Of The Doc Savage Adventures (McFarland)

I started reading Doc Savage novels at about the age of 14 or 15. I believe my first was The Freckled Shark. The Bantam book had a cool cover by James Bama and it was passed to me by my dad.

For those who may not know, Doc Savage was a 30's/40's pulp novel hero. His amazing adventures, over 180 of them, were primarily written by Lester Dent under the pseudonym "Kenneth Robeson". Clark Savage, the man of bronze, with his fortress of solitude was an obvious inspiration for Superman. Many other heroes owe their creative spark to Doc Savage to this day.

"Bobb" Cotter takes on quite a task in this book. Synopses of all the novels. Coverage and perspective on the pulps, comics, radio, film and all things Doc. A task for sure, but Cotter handles it with enthusiasm and an eye for detail.

The book is a quality hardcover with nice b&w illos inside, and a full color reproduction of Walter Baumhofer's art from the very first Doc Savage pulp novel serves as the cover. Lots of information told from a true fan's point of view spread across 234 pages. Very impressive!

N. C. Christopher Couch - Jerry Robinson: Ambassador Of Comics (Abrams Comicarts)

I've been a professional cartoonist since 1983, so I perhaps come into this book with a loving bias. The landscape we all play on was built by a handful of men. Joe Shuster, Jerry Siegel, Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, Mort Meskin, Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Bill Gaines, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko. Perhaps Julius Schwartz and Gardner Fox. They built this house. We're just tenants.

If all Jerry Robinson did was create Robin and the Joker, his place in history would be assured. As this tome shows, he offers so much more. From his comic book days to his wonderful comic strip work on Flubs & Fluffs and Still Life to his political cartoons. Robinson has a keen eye, a sharp mind, and an ability to express both through ink and prose.

Author N. C. Christopher Couch, in conjunction with Robinson, brings the tale to life in compelling fashion. Couch is greatly aided by the stunning art of Jerry Robinson. Classic iconic images as well as rare unpublished pieces treat the eye. Jerry Robinson: Ambassador Of Comics is a celebration of genius, effort, style, and wit.

Crisis On Multiple Earths Volume 3 (DC)

For years it was a tradition in the Justice League Of America (JLA for the rest of this review!) comic book to have an annual crossover story with the Justice Society Of America (JSA). This book collects the 8 crossover tales from 1971 - 1974.

In addition to the JLA & JSA several stories in this collection also feature The Seven Soldiers Of Victory and The Freedom fighters. In the DC universe, 3 worlds are represented: Earths 1, 2 & X. That's a lot of heroes! 2 Supermen, 2 Wonder Women, 2 Robins, 2 Flashes, Zatanna, Dr. Fate, Hourman, Wildcat, Star Spangled Kid, Red Tornado, Batman, 2 Green Lanterns, Phantom Lady, The Human Bomb, Elongated Man, Uncle Sam, Black Canary, Green Arrow, and many, many more! Whew!

Taking on the daunting chore of drawing all of this was the great Dick Dillin. Dillin manages to keep his panels uncluttered and full of movement and character - no mean feat! Inking his pencils are Joe Giella, Dick Giordano, and an uncredited Frank McLaughlin. Lettered by John Costanza and Ben Oda. No credits for color, sadly. Covers by Neal Adams and Nick Cardy. Scripts by Mike Friedrich and Len Wein. Going back to the color for a moment - it's wonderful to see the original flat color grace this collection. Far too many books recolor vintage art with new over-modeled color, too often butchering the work. Thank you DC for remaining true to the sources!

Nice new introduction by Len Wein giving insight into his thought processes of the time. A swell new cover painting by Alex Ross. Crisis On Multiple Earths Volume 3 is pure entertainment. Superhero comics from a time of fun and adventure! Highest possible recommendation!

Crisis On Multiple Earths Volume 2 (DC)

Good old meat and potatoes comic book stories from the late sixties through 1970. These are the annual Justice League / Justice Society crossover tales that were a fun event in the Justice League Of America book.

The stories were written by Gardner Fox & Denny O'Neil. Thrilling adventures made to captivate young boys & girls. Packed with heroes. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Hourman, Flash, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Mr. Terrific, Green Lantern, Dr. Fate, and a slew of other luminaries. Big villains & big dangers threatening 2 Earths. Drawn by Mike Sekowsky & Dick Dillin. Inked by Sid Greene & Joe Giella. Back when comics were 12 cents & 15 cents. A paradise for kids!

This book collects 4 stories from 8 issues and throws in pin ups, fan letters from the time & creator bios tied together with a fine intro by Marty Pasko & in fabulous flat color - the way comic books were meant to be! If you crave adventure with true heroes, vicious villains, and plenty of twists and turns written & rendered by some of the top talent to ever grace the industry, Crisis On Multiple Earths Volume 2 will 100% definitely scratch your itch! Glorious!!

Jan DeHartog - The Fourposter (Samuel French)

I love the stamp on the cover of my copy of this play! It reads This play has been withdrawn from amateur production due to the forthcoming musical version. That adaptation was the musical I Do! I Do!

It's a 2 person play that spans 35 years in the lives of a husband and wife. Michael and Agnes. In the 1951 production at the Barrymore Theatre directed by Jose Ferrer, Michael was played by Hume Cronyn and Agnes was played by Jessica Tandy. I can only imagine the wonder of that!

The entire story takes place in 1 room with the titular fourposter bed witness to the story. The play follows the couple from their wedding night in 1890 to their departure in 1925. In between they have a son and a daughter, nearly break up on several occasions, watch their goals and dreams change, and go through...life. DeHartog's dialogue often sparkles, occasionally surprises, and never bores. It's quite an interesting look at how a relationship changes over the course of time.

I got my hands on the play totally by chance. I'm so glad that I did! It's a work of beauty packed with humor and heart!

J.M.DeMatteis - Mercy: Shake The World (Dover)

This is a revitalized expansion of the 1993 DC graphic novel of the same name with art by Paul Johnson and script by J.M.DeMatteis. On a basic level, it's the subconscious spiritual journey of an injured man. I'll get into no further details, as it must be read to be appreciated and understood.

The star here is Paul Johnson's painted art. Rich in texture and full of character, his work truly elevates the script. A fabulous use of color as well. Johnson hits many good notes. This new edition also includes his thumbnails for every page as well as promo drawings. A visual treat!

There is also bonus interview content that gives perspective some 22 years after the initial printing. Dover have done a splendid job on every aspect of the production. I salute you, Dover Books!

Steve Ditko - The Complete Four-Page Series (SD Publishing Co)

Here we have quite an interesting and enlightening series of essays by Steve Ditko with a bit of input from Robin Snyder and what I'll call a bonus piece by Rodney Schroeter called Metaphysics And Fantasy. The book is subtitled A Volume in the Ditko Complains Series.

Indeed it is! Ditko does not sugar coat his views. I am thankful for this. I like hearing the unvarnished truth as they say. Ditko expounds on comic book fans, privacy, professional decisions, professional behavior, baseless assumptions, and many other topics. Some reveals are startling. Many questions Ditko followers have had for decades are answered in full. Steve Ditko holds nothing back about others or about himself. The essays are at times brutally honest.

As I read through the book, I admit that I needed to acclimate to Ditko's phraseology and descriptive isms, as it were. None of it impedes the reader from the journey here. In this review I've decided to reveal none of the information Ditko imparts. The discovery should be in your hands. A worthwhile & unforgettable volume. Comic book fans, pros, and those seeking insight into the creative mind need this one! My highest recommendation!

Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan - The Jesse Marsh Years Volume 11 (Dark Horse Archives)

Another Jesse Marsh Tarzan volume. Score! Written by Gaylord DuBois, this volume reprints Tarzan #52 - 56, as well as an appearance in March Of Comics #125. All are from 1954 (1 book bears a Feb 1955 cover date, but we all know how cover dating works by now, I hope).

Once again, DuBois turns in fine scripts like Tarzan And The Ostrich Clan, Boy Finds The Isle Of Leopards, and Tarzan And The Savage Horde. They're all get-down-to-business tales of adventure packed with everything one could want - wild animals, dangerous jungles, and the occasional beautiful woman in peril. DuBois happily delivered all with aplomb.

We come back to Jesse Marsh once more. Crisp, confident inks over inventive layouts. His Tarzan will beat the crap out of you without even breaking a sweat. His animals have a feel of authenticity about them. Clearly, Marsh knew his stuff! Everything about his layouts, characters, and draftsmanship impresses. While these books are fun reads for any living being, they are art clinics for any cartoonist. Another volume of immaculate quality. Classic, classy, and essential.

Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan - The Jesse Marsh Years Volume 10 (Dark Horse)

With a nice little foreword by Dan Nadel, this volume collects issues 47 - 51 (August - December of 1953) of the Dell Tarzan series. Looking at any given Jesse Marsh Tarzan page is like looking at a comic strip in comic book form. This may sound odd, but do give a look. It's there. The size and shape of the panels. The movement. Much more in the vein of an action strip than a comic book. Obvious comparisons to Milton Caniff or Johnny Craig can be found on the surface. If you look deeper you see Marsh. His storytelling. The direct layouts. His characters dance across the panels with grace. His trees, his animals, even his rocks ooze with personality. His Tarzan has the bearing of absolute confidence. Marsh's work is not necessarily flashy. It is an ode to subtlety. I want you to get this book and study it. Every artist ought to. Every writer as well.

Gaylord Dubois is the writer I wish more current scribes were. His stories move you along from beginning to end without bogging down in useless dialogue. Every word, every phrase carry the story forward. His adventures are not written to be cosmos-shattering. They are written to entertain and to bring the reader back for the next issue. The Dubois / Marsh combination is a perfect fit. I could rhapsodize about it for pages on end. I have a better idea, though. Buy this volume that Dark Horse put together so very beautifully. Once you finish it, I look forward to your thank you letters!

Eerie Archives Volume 10 (Dark Horse Archives)

Welcome to my childhood. Eerie, Creepy, Vampirella, and Famous Monsters Of Filmland were as essential to me as The Avengers, The Incredible Hulk, or The Fantastic Four. This volume collects Eerie #47 - 51 - all from 1973. I was starting junior high, discovering H P Lovecraft, and schoolmate Cathy Curran was seriously disturbing my inseam (although she never knew it!).

These were the "series" years of Eerie. Dax The Warrior, And The Mummy Walks, Curse Of The Werewolf, and other ongoing stories were very nearly pushing out individual one-shot stories, and weren't quite as shocking to my 13 year old psyche. With artists like Esteban Maroto, Ramon Torrents, Jaime Brocal, Munes, and Paul Neary in peak form, I certainly did not complain.

Looking at these stories some 39 years later, they hold up surprisingly well. The ongoing series have a feel not unlike current horror series one finds on cable TV. The art is, if anything, even more impressive now. These folks knew how to draw! Dark Horse has done a fabulous job in terms of reproduction and packaging. You most assuredly need this book!

Geoff Emerick (and Howard Massey) - Here, There And Everywhere 388 pg. (Gotham Books)

There are enough Beatles related books to fill a small library. As a life long Beatlefan, I certainly have my share. Here, There And Everywhere by Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick stands as one of the best out there.

Emerick takes you right inside the studio with the Fab Four. The approach is more practical than starry eyed here, and the reader benefits. How did they get that small percussion sound on Blackbird? How did Sgt. Pepper come together? So many insights from temperament to technical in this tome. Emerick's pride in his work is evident. Working out challenges, say, John Lennon threw him, Emerick details his techniques lovingly. Emerick strips away the glamor and presents us four young men hard at work. That the work in question helped redefine popularmusic is almost irrelevant here.

Beatles fans will find a trove of information in the pages of Here, There And Everywhere. Budding engineers can learn more than a few tips as well. Fascinating on so many levels. A must own for your music library.

The Fillbach Brothers - Captain Freebird: American Prayer (First Comics)

Funny how things happen! I was at the 2013 New York Comic Convention and I wandered through artist alley. I grabbed a rare empty chair and started talking to an artist. He was 1 of the Fillbach Brothers but I forgot to ask if he was Matt or Shawn. We talked a bit, then he handed me a signed copy of this graphic novel. The least I could do was read it and give it an honest review. I'm sure glad I did!

Captain Freebird: American Prayer is flat out fantastic. The good old Captain is a wise mouthed hardass war vet on a mission. I won't tell you that mission, as it would spoil a wonderful plot. Let's say it involves a cross country adventure with babes, booze, guns, fast cars, and bizarre pop-culture references that grabs you & never let's go!

The gonzo script is perfectly complimented by equally gonzo art. Heavily stylized and as black and white as it gets. I found it to be massively cinematic and with a clarity that moved the eye along well. My old pal Alex Toth would be smiling. A 4 page essay by J.D. Bonaire rounds out the book with some well spoken words of wisdom. Captain Freebird: American Prayer is an essential book for every human being with eyes. My highest recommendation.

Alex Fischetti - The Lonesome Boy And The Blonde Haired Angel (Alex Fischetti)

Let me preface this by saying I have several nephews, great-nieces, and friends wish Asperger's syndrome & various levels of autism. It's more common than one might think and not always correctly diagnosed. This book written by Alex Fischetti and charmingly illustrated by Cleveland Miller is an inside look into both conditions.

Fischetti sets the stage for us, relating the alienation and isolation from folks who do not understand the day-to-day actions and perceptions of a person living with these conditions. Fischetti takes us through it all with honesty and positivity. We follow his journey toward a happier life every step of the journey. He accompanies it all with quotations from the bible to illuminate the way.

I found the book to be totally engaging & massively positive. I read it in 1 big gulp, smiling from ear to ear the entire time. Fischetti is a natural storyteller and the narrative is irresistible. The Lonesome Boy And The Blonde Haired Angel is a good read for teens and adults alike. Folks on the autism spectrum will instantly recognize themselves in it. Those seeking insight into the conditions will find much here. It's also a powerful story of hope.

Mick Foley - The Hardcore Diaries 372 pg. (Pocket Books / WWE)

The second time I talked to Mick Foley was at a Jethro Tull gig in Stamford, CT. (Foley even throws in a mention of Tull's Songs From The Wood in this book.) He regaled me with great stories about Al Snow, comic books, writing, wrestling, politics, you name it. I mention this because that's the feel of The Hardcore Diaries. It's not just Foley telling engaging stories about his life. It's him telling them to you.

Vince McMahon, Ric Flair, Dee Snider, Christy Canyon, WWE divas, and lots of the wrestler known as Test. The book is an inside look into the operation and politics of the wrestling biz. It's a look into a wrestler's mind. It's also a look into a father's heart. The Hardcore Diaries succeeds on a multitude of levels.

Best known as Dude Love, Cactus Jack, and Mankind, Mick Foley writes with passion and clarity. You walk away from this book with a great sense of what Foley is all about. This is one of those impossible to put down books that turn up far too infrequently. One you'll not soon forget.

Furi Furi Company - What A Happy Life & Death! - 176 pg (Die Gestalten Verlag)

Furi Furi Company design all sorts of stuff - from CD booklets to advertisements to CDROM packaging. This book is bursting with their innovative, inspiring illustrations. The pieces vary in complexity but all have a breezy, whimsical underpinning to them. The use of color and design sense are impeccable. This book is a feast for the senses and gets my highest possible recommendation as an essential addition to any library of contemporary art or pop culture!

Ralph Gibson - Nude (Taschen)

Ralph Gibson is certainly a gifted photographer. His compositional sense is inventive, even playful. While delving into color on occasion, the majority of his work in Nude is in glorious black & white. His shots fairly sing. He explores innovative angles and plays with his exposures. This book is an inside look at a master at work.

The book is strictly nudes of women. It is far more sensual than sexual. This is Gibson's true strength. He explores the female form and celebrates it without exploiting or cheapening it. I am merely the humble servant of beauty and go wherever she calls. says Gibson in the introduction. Indoors, outdoors, finely detailed or almost impressionistically washed out for effect, Gibson misses no opportunity. His eye for detail and for capturing a fleeting moment are magnificent.

My sole caveat is that the women in the book are 99% slim white women. While beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder, I'd be fascinated to see Gibson present a greater variety of sizes and shapes and colors. Ours is a world of infinite types of beauty. Having said that, I understand that we all have our own tastes and preferences. It's part of what keeps the planet interesting. The book includes an interview with Gibson by Eric Fischl that goes into detail about preparing for the book and other insights into his work. Since it's a Taschen book, production value is top shelf. Gorgeous in every regard.

Sam Glanzman - A Sailor's Story (Dover Books)

My dad served in the Navy in WWII. Until his death in 2014, he would tell me stories about his time served with great enthusiasm. Training, pranks, conditions. He remembered it all vividly and with great fondness. It helped define his life & his character. It never left him & by God, he'd never wanted it to leave him.

Here we have a wonderful new printing of Sam Glanzman's books of some quarter of a century ago. The Navy clearly never left him either. Glanzman's work sits with Milton Caniff, Bill Mauldin, & Dave Breger in terms of accurately conveying the ups and downs of daily life in the military. A Sailor's Story is dazzlingly illustrated by Glanzman, but the importance lies in the heart, in the narrative. This book will grip you and keep you eagerly turning page after page - caught up in Glanzman's eloquence, his disarming honesty.

A Sailor's Story is a must for all comic book fans. That is a given. Luminaries like Walter Simonson, Chris Claremont, Larry Hama, George Pratt and others pay tribute to Glanzman in this book as well. Let me make a simple suggestion: If you have a loved one that served in WWII, Korea, 'Nam, Iraq - whatever war/conflict - buy them this book. It speaks a language they understand, no matter the generation. They lived it. They are still living it. I can think of no greater gift to a vet than this volume. Thank you Sam Glanzman for sharing. Thank you to those who serve & have served.

Bill Goldberg - I'm Next (Crown)

WCW wrestling superduperstar Goldberg co-wrote this 2000 autobiography with his brother Steve Goldberg. I always found Goldberg to be an interesting anomaly in professional wrestling. His gimmick was his undefeated streak. Once that was over, it was never the same.

This book is about football as much as it is about wrestling. You see football as Goldberg's true passion and wrestling as an occupation of circumstance. Having said that, you see that he surely puts 100% into anything he does. Once he commits to wrestling he gives it his all. The book ends during 2000, shortly before WCW ends. In the final chapters Goldberg's dissatisfaction is palpable. He is unhappy with the direction of the company upon returning after time off due to injury.

Lots of interesting stories about the wrestling biz and wrestlers like Sting, Diamond Dallas Page, Sid Vicious, amd Lex Luger. Plenty of celebrity stories. Lots of heartwarming moments involving charities and kids. Tons about family. Goldberg also has no problems letting you know who he found to be jerks in wrestling & football. All in all I'm Next is a compelling look at an athlete as tough on himsaelf as he is on others. Well worth your time!

Ron Goulart - Comic Book Encyclopedia - 380 pg. (Harper Collins)

Trying to cover such an expansive medium as comic books is no easy task. New titles spring up every day, it seems. Ron Goulart, a known expert on the subject of comics, gives a great overview of the medium in this encyclopedia. Superstar characters like Superman, Batman, and Spider-man sit side by side with lesser known heroes like Madam Fatal and Detective Dan. The book is packed with information and color art - much of which I've never seen in my life. The layout is visually dazzling with color on all 380 pages - the publisher clearly put a nice amount of effort into every aspect of the package.

As a long time comic fanboy, I found many bits of information I just never knew. I was very impressed by the breadth of information here - too often books on comics neglect the early days in favor of more than you could ever need to know about Sandman. If you're an old time fan like me, you'll love this book. If you're new to comic books, you'll treasure this hardcover encyclopedia as a source of information and a compass pointing you toward the gems the comic book industry has to offer. A win/win situation! Absolutely fabulous!

Thomas Graham - Remembering Revell Model Kits (Schiffer)

One of the major building blocks in my life as a professional cartoonist was my years of building model kits. In the 1960s & 1970s, I dove deeply into building and painting all sorts of models. Planes, ships, monster models, cars. I loved them all. Companies like Aurora, Monogram, Tamiya, and Revell. I'm grinning as I type from the fond memories.

Thomas Graham's Remembering Revell Model Kits is a loving and extensive look at Revell's output from the 1950s and on. Graham leaves no stone unturned as he profiles the Venice, California company and the creative men and women behind it. He talks to those involved. He takes you into the nuts-and-bolts of designing them. Graham clearly loves this world but relates that love in an accessible, conversational way.

Remembering Revell Model Kits is jam-packed with over 500 color photos of kits, box art, and designs. I loved seeing the Big Daddy Roth kits! Fine memories! At the back there is quite an extensive list of Revell kits in chronological order as well as their value. The quality of the book is awesome. Built to last! If, like me, model kits were a part of your life, you will be overjoyed with this book! Get it now!!

Amy Grant - Mosaic (Water Brook Press)

The subtitle is Pieces of my life so far. That seems like a pretty accurate description of this 2007 memoir from the multi-platinum Christian popster. I wasn't quite sure what I was going to be in for with this one. Would it be revealing or safely guarded?

It's a combination of the two. There are moments where Amy Grant is very up front and emotionally naked. Stories about depression and insecurities feel genuine and at times unflinching. Other times the reader feels at arm's length from Grant - safely distant within the chattiness. There are fascinating stories about the circumstances behind various songs and albums. A few charming bits involving 2nd husband Vince Gill. The topper is a wonderful chapter about spontaneously visiting an elderly fan of Gill's. It's a truly sweet moment that shows how open & down to Earth both Grant & Gill can be.

There is a very strong timeline section near the back where Grant takes us year-by-year through her career. Fascinating stuff. The book is lots of tiny chapters about this and that. Lots & lots & lots about how she loves her kids. Lots of moments of impatience with faith. I found this aspect...odd. Regardless, in the end Mosaic is a worthwhile read. I just came away wanting a book with bits less glossed-over. Perhaps a sequel will reveal more!

Owen Hammer - Von Bach : The Complete Graphic Novel (Hammer Comics)

My my, what have we here? A graphic novel based on a play about folks wanting to make a film based on a book about a legend. Sort of. Confused? Don't be. Von Bach is a tightly written, gloriously drawn & colored piece that will grab you tightly and delight you. It is the brainchild of writer Owen Hammer who is joined by artist Mariano Navarro and colorist / letterer Hernan Cabrera. It's many things. A satire. An action piece. A puzzle. In the end it's just a great tale that does not waste your time!

I honestly do not want to give away plot points or story reveals as I loved discovering and uncovering everything on my own. I will say it deals with classic horror and contemporary media. I will say I adore the character Minna! So much here to engage your mind, heart & gut. All flawlessly rendered by Navarro and Cabrera. I can think of no finer contemporary art team. 1 look and you'll want them to illustrate every book out there! Their work is well-matched by Hammer's script. Intelligent and fluid.

The graphic novel is packed with extra features. Background on the play the graphic novel is based on. Character designs. Page breakdowns. This is a sumptuous book. Throw in an intro by Bloodshot creator Kevin Van Hook and you've got a can't-miss package! My absolute highest recommendation!

Ben Hatke - Legends Of Zita The Space Girl (First Second)

It's safe to say that this is a graphic novel for all ages. Ben Hatke gives us an outer space tale full of adventure, thrills, surprises, sacrifice, and love. Lots of love. Legends Of Zita The Space Girl is big hearted fun in more ways than one.

I'm torn here. There is so much I would love to say about events in the story, but I don't want to spoil the experience for the reader. I'll simply say this: this book is totally engaging. Great premise. Great characters. Twists and turns galore. I never wanted it to end. Evidently, there will be more, so that's a relief. Oh, and that art!

Hatke's art positively sings with charm. Designs are friendly and organic. Layouts are clear and clean. Colors are some of the finest I've ever seen. I mean that. In short, Legends Of Zita The Space Girl succeeds on every front. If you're a parent, you can feel safe letting your kid read this one. You'll want to read it yourself. It's the sort of book that has something for all ages. All you need is a heart and imagination. My unreserved highest recommendation.

Marcus Hearn - The Avengers - A Celebration (Titan Books)

No, not the Marvel Comics Avengers. The Avengers - A Celebration subtitled 50 Years Of A Television Classic is an outstanding coffee table hardcover showcasing the classic British TV series. Dr. David Keel (Ian Hendry), Venus Smith (Julie Stevens), Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman), Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) and Tara King (Linda Thorson) all stood side-by-side with John Steed (Patrick Macnee) from 1961 to 1969.

Impossible situations, mind-blowing villains, glamour, sophistication, class and wit were the hallmarks of this show. Hearn takes us on a journey through an alternate England in this 2010 tome. While his text chronicles that journey, the photos that illuminate it are the real treasure here. The book is bursting with rare shots - many off-camera and a fistful of color shots from the black & white years.

As I read through the book I was taken back to my childhood. I first saw them on TV starting with the 1st Mrs. Peel season. Even my young mind knew immediately that I was watching something special. A magic world with scripts and acting a cut above everything else. It holds true to this day. Decades later the scripts by Brian Clemens and others are utterly engaging and unique. Patrick Macnee breathed a life into John Steed that sets him apart and above merely being a hero. The same holds true for the others - most especially Diana Rigg's unforgettable Mrs. Emma Peel. She is every bit Steed's equal at a time when such things were unheard of in an action series. The Avengers - A Celebration is a fresh look at a timeless series that will entertain & thrill anyone who opens its covers! We're needed!

Glenn Hughes / Joel McIver - Glenn Hughes The Autobiography (Jawbone)

I picked this book up with lots of anticipation and curiousity. I've always been a great admirer of Glenn Hughes since first hearing Deep Purple's Burn back in 1974. Stormbringer and Come Taste The Band cemented the deal for me. Great singer, great bassist. The stories this guy must have to tell! Subtitled From Deep Purple To Black Country Communion, this book surely delivers the goods.

The book is a mixture of reminiscences by Hughes and quotes from friends, family, and colleagues. I don't know if I should see it as significant, but the only member of Deep Purple to lend any quotes is David Coverdale. Jon Lord, Ritchie Blackmore, and Ian Paice are nowhere to be found here. We are taken from the earliest days to Trapeze, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Hughes / Thrall, Black Country Communion, and all points in between. Oh, yes, and massive amounts of drugs, sex, and general destructive irresponsibility. The book contains a truly sour note to me. After tales of endless women no matter who is his "girlfriend" at any given time, Hughes relates his horror and disgust at his girlfriend cheating on him. Mind you, he caught her in bed with a guy upon coming home from cheating on her at the same time. That aspect is written about casually - like it's OK for Hughes to sleep with whoever he chooses whenever he chooses, but a massive deal if it is done to him. Um, OK.

All such things aside, it's a fascinating read. A memoir of an innovator and survivor. Hughes has beaten intense addiction and risen, phoenix-like, from the ashes of yesterday. An interesting tale, and a scared straight book for anyone living under the spell of drugs and alcohol.

Peter Kuper - Classics Illustrated #9: The Jungle (Papercutz)

When I was a kid, Classics Illustrated were the comic books your parents bought you, or were in the Doctor's office along with Highlights For Children. A bit like the Life cereal or PBS of comic books - stuff that was "good" for you. I'm happy to report that the new Classics Illustrated under the Papercutz imprint is a far cry from being stodgy or dull abridgements of classic novels. The Jungle is exciting and compelling.

Upton Sinclair's tale of the downside of unfettered capitalism comes alive under the pen and brush of Peter Kuper. Kuper distills the essence of Sinclair's text well. It flows smoothly and loses none of the impact nor the intent. Kuper's illustrations are stark and twisted. There is no glamour. Everything is bleak and angular. Yet there is a beauty within that darkness. Kuper's sense of design is immaculate and masterful. Every page sings. Every image is soaked with emotion.

The Jungle is a very brave choice for Classics Illustrated. Fans of Upton Sinclair will find this adaptation to be respectful and exciting. Fans of Peter Kuper will revel in his expressive illustrations. Perhaps a new reader or two may even seek out Sinclair's original. Everybody wins!

Tim Lasiuta - Brush Strokes With Greatness: The Life & Art Of Joe Sinnott 136 pg. (TwoMorrows)

When I was a kid, I was fascinated with comic books. The Avengers, Dr Strange, Metal Men, Daredevil, and my favorite book of all - The Fantastic Four. Reed Richards, Sue Storm (eventually Sue Richards), Johnny Storm, Ben Grimm. I loved the supporting cast - Wyatt Wingfoot, the Yancy Street Gang, Crystal & the Inhumans, Agatha Harkness, Willie Lumpkin, & Ben Grimm's never seen Aunt Petunia. Their adventures were written by Stan Lee & lovingly penciled and inked by Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott, respectively. That Kirby / Sinnott art wowed me as a kid and still does to this day. In the years since, Sinnott's inks have graced everything from Captain America to Thor, from the Avengers to the Defenders and back again. Kirby, Steranko, Neal Adams, John & Sal Buscema, Werner Roth, Gene Colan - all these pencilers & more have been graced by Sinnott's inks.

Brush Strokes With Greatness is packed from cover to cover with Joe Sinnott art - much of it previously unpublished. Covers, splashes, interior pages, strips, pin ups, ads, panels, sketches (crisply reproduced by the TwoMorrows folks) - all giving a fine overview of Sinnott's career. Lasiuta's text takes you through Sinnott's life and career and is drawn largely from interviews with the man himself.

I've had the pleasure of knowing Joe Sinnott for over 25 years and this book has nuggets that even I had no clue about! Informative, chatty, friendly - Lasiuta's text is conversational and breezy - well researched without seeming dry. With a great testimonial by Stan Lee, this book is a winner for all comic book fans.

William Link and Richard Levinson - Prescription : Murder (Samuel French)

A drama in three acts says the cover. This early sixties play is notable for being the launch of the Lt. Columbo character many years before his television debut.

It seems that the role was first played by veteran character actor Thomas Mitchell ( He was awesome in the Charles Laughton version of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame ) in what would be his final role. Joseph Cotten and Agnes Moorehead were also mains in the play with their roles played by Gene Barry and Nina Foch in the TV adaptation. It's a clever and coldly gruesome tale of murder.

Being quite familiar with the television version of the story, it's interesting to see both the differences and the similarities. TV gave the opportunities to show some elements rather than imply them. A perfect example is a scene talked through in the play about a deception on a plane. TV allowed them to actually be at the airport & on the plane. I smiled reading Columbo's dialogue. It's all on the page. the false exits. The feigned ignorance. While Peter Falk made it sing on the small screen, the bones were all there in this fine play. Fantastic!

Jerry Lucky - The Progressive Rock Handbook (Collector's Guide)

This 352 pg. book is a fascinating mixed bag. It's basically divided into 2 parts: 78 pages of essays and interviews describing what Jerry Lucky perceives to be or not be prog, dividing it into sub genres and a sort of historic overview. He at times succeeds, at other times not. His narrative just never quite seems to engage. It has a cut and paste quality about it. Having said that, kudos to Lucky for the effort.

The bulk of the book is an alphabetical listing of prog bands with a short biographical sketch and discography for each. Here Lucky succeeds. It is a very handy guide and a breezy read that's packed with info and has a nice little color section of album covers in the center.

My copy came with a swell CD sampler with tracks from Under The Sun, Rocket Scientists, Sylvan, Ghost Circus and others. All in all, a book well worth owning for the 200+ pages of band listings. Ignore the front end, enjoy the back end!

Helen McCarthy - The Art of Osamu Tezuka - God of Manga (Abrams)
This 272 page book is a loving, respectful, comprehensive look at the brilliant career of Osamu Tezuka. The subtitle "God of Manga" is not said lightly. As creator of both Astro Boy and Kimba The White Lion, among countless other characters, Tezuka's work influenced all who came after, an influence felt to this very day.
Helen McCarthy chronicles Tezuka's life and work skillfully. Her tone is factual, kind, but without fannish fawning. Just the right balance. The book is overflowing with superb illustrations and photos. From Tezuka's earliest illustrations to his last. Manga, anime, rare sketches, model sheets- there is a nice array of pretty much anything you can think of.
The packaging is wild. A hardcover with a die-cut Astro Boy on the front and a DVD in the back, all encased in a clear vinyl dust jacket. If you are a fan of imagination and of vision, you simply must own this book. Impeccable in every possible way!

Tim Moon - On Track...The Incredible String Band (Sonic Bond Publishing)

As with all the books in this fine series, we are promised every album, every song. I have no doubt it indeed delivers just that! Tim Moon goes incredibly deep into the catalogue and history of The Incredible String Band and reveals all!

I first became aware of the band in my childhood. I vividly recall the song Maya from their album Wee Tam And The Big Huge back in 1968. Here in the States the double album was split in 2 so my sister only had The Big Huge. In retrospect, this planted the seed for my love for British folk rock. I digress.

Moon takes us through every nook and cranny of each release. He has a loving sense of detail and illuminates many a song. Helped in no doubt by the fact that he's a musician himself. Robin Williamson, Mike Heron, Clive Palmer, Licorice McKechnie and company are in good hands!

On Track...The Incredible String Band brings you through the entire chronology deftly & throws in a section of tasty photos for your timely consumption. Stringheads everywhere rejoice! All the world is but a page. Be thou the joyful reader!

Bruce Morgan - Beatles Singles (Austin Macauley)

Here we have an interesting Beatles book. Clearly a labor of love. It is in essence a book of lists. Quite an exhaustive book of lists at that.

The lists are broken down into 8 categories. 78RPM singles; 45 RPM Polydor singles; 45 RPM singles; 45 Deccagone collection 1976; American "jukebox" collection; Polydor 33 1/3 singles; 3 1/3 RPM singles; The first 78 single and the last 45.

They span the globe from Chile to Greece to Venezuela to Nigeria and all points between. It's all between the covers of Bruce Morgan's tome. The entries are easy to read. Well-spaced in a slightly larger font that my old eyes were quite thankful for!

Beatles Singles is an invaluable reference book and a great gift for that Beatlemaniac in your life!

Alison Nastasi - Artists And Their Cats (Chronicle Books)

Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover! Artists And Their Cats is 100% truth in advertising. Take an artist and add one cat. Done!

The true treat here is the variety of artists between the covers. Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, Patti Smith, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Georgia O'Keefe, Henri Matisse, Gustav Klimt, Enki Bilal, John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The list goes on and on! The photo of Herbert Tobias and his cat absolutely cracked me up! Priceless

It's genuinely heartwarming to see so many artists with their cats that they so clearly love. I cannot help but think that Alison Nastasi knew the service she was doing all involved by showing their human and humane sides.

Artists And Their Cats is a true gem of a book that dazzles the eye and never wears out its welcome. Tinkerbell and I heartily approve!

Tom Neely & Friends - Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever (IWDY Comics / Microcosm Publishing)

Subtitled The Completely Ridiculous Edition, this 300-plus page book is the complete collection of the comic book adventures of Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig that you never knew they had! For those of you who may not know, Henry Rollins is a singer/writer/performer formerly with Black Flag and Glenn Danzig is singer/writer/performer with The Misfits, Danzig & Samhain.

Tom Neely gives us the previously unseen bromance of these 2 icons. He adds a satanic cult led by Hall & Oates (something I've always suspected!) and Miss Grundy from Archie comics and countless other characters and folks from all walks of life and afterlife. The writing is crisp and witty. Hilarious more often than not. Most definitely not for kids. Neely's art is smooth & joyous. Clearly a labor of love. There are other creators who step up to the plate now and again - hence the "& Friends" - but Neely's work is definitive.

The package includes a fine intro from Judas Priest's Rob Halford. There are plenty of cover homages to everything from Archie to Captain America to Love & Rockets. This project is dazzling. If you are a human and you like to laugh, you need this book!

Dolly Parton and Robert K. Oermann - Songteller: My Life In Lyrics (Chronicle)

To the best of my knowledge, I was 11 or 12 when I first heard Dolly Parton. It would have been Coat Of Many Colors or Love Is Like A Butterfly. I found her to be ridiculously gorgeous - often distractingly so. Instant crush. Puppy love. OK, to this day the infatuation remains. And we move forward... As years passed I became more and more aware and appreciative of her work. Fantastic, evocative songwriting. Solid playing. Topped by a voice unlike any other. Distinct and compelling.

Songteller: My Life In Lyrics is a massive, comprehensive, and heartfelt journey through Parton's illustrious life. It's packed with lyrics, photos, and stories. From the earliest days to the present. I love this little quote from Parton as she discusses her song I Believe In You: One of the first little books I remember is The Little Engine That Could, which talked about "I think I can, I think I can." Well, since that time I've always thought that I am the little engine that did. An understatement!

Another quote: My dad couldn't read and write, and he was always kind of ashamed of that. But it's not a thing to be ashamed of, because in my daddy's case, he grew up in a family of fifteen kids, back in the mountains. You had a one-room schoolhouse, and it was sometimes a mile away. Kids had to go to work in the fields to help feed the family. Because of the weather and because of conditions; a lot of kids couldn't go to school. Dolly Parton is talking about her classic Daddy's Working Boots. This book is packed with open, honest tales from Parton's life. Beautifully packaged. A superb book and an important piece of music history. My highest possible recommendation.

Peyo - King Smurf (Papercutz)

Born Pierre Culliford and taking the name Peyo (based on a young cousin's mispronunciation of his first name), this Belgian visionary created the Smurfs in October of 1958. Over a half century later, the Smurfs still thrive and more importantly, still resonate with children of all ages.

Papercutz is re-introducing Peyo's stories in a series of beautifully printed volumes. I was sent King Smurf to look at, so hey, let's look! The book contains 2 stories. The first deals with a farcical attempt at leadership while Papa Smurf is away. The second is musical in nature and throws in Gargamel and Azrael for good measure.

Both stories were engaging with a sophisticated wit beneath stories that children will understand and enjoy. The art is awesome: incredibly clear layouts, powerful storytelling elements, and a very confident line. As I read this collection, I was reminded of other timeless series like Tintin and Asterix - stories and art that touch generation after generation. Buy King Smurf for your kids without reservation - just be sure to read it yourself as well!

Kenneth Robeson - Doc Savage #87: Up From Earth's Center & Other Devilish Thrillers (Sanctum Books)

Over 40 years ago, I read my first Doc Savage book. I believe my Dad picked it up at one of the laundromats that he cleaned as his second job. The cool James Bama cover painting demanded my attention. A pneumatically proportioned Doc Savage in his torn shirt stood in front of some sort of leather or parchment with what looked like leopard spots on it. The novel was titled The Freckled Shark. It was a Bantam paperback by Kenneth Robeson (The pen name of Lester Dent). I was hooked! I've read most of the 182 Doc Savage novels. 181 were published in pulp form in the 1930s - 40s. An unpublished novel - The Red Spider - saw print decades later.

For years now, fellow comic book colorist Anthony Tollin's Sanctum Books has published the entire run. Painstakingly restored with the original pulp covers and interior illustrations, several with newly restored text. Each volume includes bonus features from essays to vintage comic book tales related to Doc Savage. This volume, #87, completes Sanctum's reprint run. It brings us 3 Doc Savage supersagas: The Devil's Black Rock, The Pure Evil, and the final Doc Savage adventure - Up From Earth's Center. The first 2 novels cleverly blend the supernatural with the scientific. Up From Earth's Center is more of a supernatural horror fantasy.

All of this comes packaged with the original pulp cover by George Rozen - best known for his iconic Shadow covers. There are several fascinating pieces by Doc Savage historian Will Murray. The original interior illustrations by Paul Orban and Edd Cartier are frosting on the cake!

Take a journey back to another era. An era full of danger, suspense, and adventure. Do not be surprised if you become addicted!

Will Romano - Mountains Come Out Of The Sky (Backbeat / Hal Leonard)

Here we have Mountains Come Out Of The Sky, subtitled The Illustrated History Of Prog Rock by Will Romano. After reading the 246 page book, I find I can look at it 2 ways: altruistically, or realistically. I'll try to do both.

Mountains Come Out Of The Sky is packed with interesting photos and interviews with many key movers; from the current prog front runners to the architects of the genre. Ian Anderson, Roine Stolt, Neal Morse, Milla Kapolke, Andy Latimer, Pete Sinfield, John Petrucci, and scores more relate interesting tales and historic information. This is the strength of this volume.

On the flip side, there are inaccuracies galore. According to the author, for example, Steve Hackett recorded an album called Bay Of Pigs. Ummm, no. Try Bay Of Kings. We see the cover of Genesis' A Trick Of The Tale credited as Abacab. While the Beatles' Revolver is correctly titled, the photo of Rubber Soul is also called Revolver. There are dozens of miscredited photos and reams of historical errors. Oh, and Peter Hammill and Van der Graaf Generator evidently never existed, as they are conspicuously missing - a genuine cornerstone of prog.

Buy it for the conversations, but don't look for much beyond that. Mountains Come Out Of The Sky is a well intentioned but clumsily executed tome. Editor! Editor! HELLLLLLLLLP!!

Paul Russell - Genesis: Play Me My Song (SAF)

Subtitled a live guide 1969 to 1975, Paul Russell's tome is an exhaustive look at every available live gig from the Peter Gabriel era of Genesis (minus the 1982 live charity gig). Russell listened to over 160 live shows and reviews each and every one. His sources range from fan bootlegs to piles of tapes lent by the band themselves. The end result is the definitive live guide to the Gabriel years.

While Russell write with an obvious love and passion for the subject at hand, he's not afraid to point out bum notes or bum crowds. Some hillbilly-like heckling spoils the tranquility of Cuckoo Cocoon he says of the December 12, 1974 crowd at the Palace Theatre in Waterbury, Connecticut. Spot on! Of the August 22, 1972 show at Teatro Alcione in Genoa, Italy, Russell muses: Another Italian rarity - the only known recorded version of Seven Stones, played with controlled restraint, you often feel it is about to explode. He takes you inside every show.

An extensive interview with Tony Banks, Anthony Phillips, and Mike Rutherford is an excellent bonus. Genesis: Play Me My Song is an indispensable volume for Genesis and prog libraries alike.

Mike Rutherford - The Living Years (Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin's Press)

This 2014 book is subtitled The First Genesis Memoir. As a follower of Genesis since the 70s, I read with great interest. It's a fascinating book, but not for the reasons I expected (or hoped for).

As to be expected, given the title of the book & what we all know about the song, there's a lot of Mike Rutherford's Dad in the book. An appreciation and obvious regret of what he missed out on. The book is peppered with quotes from Papa Rutherford's newly discovered autobiography. This, in fact, is the most interesting part of the book to be honest.

If you are looking for insight into the inner working of Genesis, you've come to the wrong place. Albums are covered in a cursory fashion. Steve Hackett, for example, is never seen as an essential player & is barely mentioned. However - drugs - that's another story altogether. Rutherford regales the reader with tale upon tale of weed, coke & morphine. Evidently an essential part of his life. Who knew? Not surprisingly, he is much more about I Can't Dance than any Gabriel-era work. I left this book feeling frustrated and a bit short-changed. Sigh.

Ian Shirley - Meet The Residents - 192 pg (SAF Publishing LTD)

Surely one of the most unusual bands in the history of recorded music, The Residents are a bit of an enigma. Preferring to let the music speak for itself, The Residents remain totally anonymous - cloaked in giant eyeballs and skulls. Ian Shirley sheds light on their past, present, & future in "Meet The Residents."

Shirley's style is chatty yet clear and informative, easing the reader into the oddly fascinating world of The Residents. The book is packed with interesting tales, wild photos, and a comprehensive discography. Highly recommended.

Michael W Smith (with Robert Noland) - The Way Of The Father (K Love)

Lessons From My Dad, Truths About God is the subtitle of this 2021 book. This time Michael W Smith has brought in Christian scribe Robert Noland as co-author and the results are both engaging and compelling.

In this book Smith tells many stories about life with his father Paul - his earth father, and how things relate to God - our Abba Father. This is a very carefully crafted book as the examples flow smoothly into the messages they represent. Lots of heartwarming stories punctuated by heartbreak in a few instances. The reader comes away with a good picture of Smith's dad. He seems to have been a self-sacrificing, patient & loving father who was well thought of by all.

It is significant to note that while Smith could very easily have made this a book about his music and life of celebrity, he does not. Yes, there are references to his professional life, but only as they relate to his dad and to God. It's a book celebrating good works and encouraging spiritual growth and the inner satisfaction that comes with helping others. All in all quite a nice, uplifting read. Some bright light in troubled times!

Michael W Smith (with Thomas Williams) - A Simple Blessing (Zondervan)

What I Learned from a simple blessing. The extraordinary power of an ordinary prayer is the full title of the book. It is centered around a blessing that Smith would say at the end of his concerts. That blessing is included in full at the start of the book.

The chapters of the book break the blessing down into 5 separate sections. Each chapter expands upon and explains the reason behind each section. Very thoughtful. Quite enlightening.

As we are taken through each aspect, we learn the impact of blessings and prayers not just conceptually, but through real life examples. A Simple Blessing is a truly powerful and illuminating book. The "simple" blessing can lead to great personal and spiritual rewards and growth. My highest possible recommendation!

Michael W Smith (with Gary Thomas) - This Is Your Time (Thomas Nelson)

Make Every Moment Count is the subtitle. The tragedy at Columbine is the jumping-off point of this book. Cassie Bernall and Valeen Schnurr were both martyrs of faith in the Columbine shootings. Their belief in God cost them their lives.

This book is quite prayerful to be sure. It's also a very hopeful book. While it relates stories of true tragedy & death, and gives the reader a heads up to be ready in case your time is up at any moment, it suggests ways to be at peace. It suggests lots of prayer. Good acts. Love. Faith & trust in God. Michael W. Smith relates stories in a humble, compassionate & relatable way.

This Is Your Time is a fascinating and powerful read. It's a thoughtful book that will stay with you. It might even offer a path to a better life for you! This is your time.

Michael W Smith (with Michael Nolan) - Your Place In This World (Thomas Nelson)

This book is subtitled Discovering God's Will For The Life In Front Of You. It is a book that is small in dimensions but mighty in message! Michael W Smith wrote this with Michael Nolan but is reads very smoothly like Smitty's "voice" if you will.

The book is divided into 4 sections : Place, Purpose, Passion and God's Plan. Each section has multiple chapters explaining points through examples in Smith's life as well as stories of others. The messages are encouraging and all roads lead to acceptance & trust of God.

No matter your faith, there is much wisdom here. Life and the daily grind can truly break the spirit of many, many folks. We all see it in others or experience it ourselves. Your Place In This World suggests a positive and loving path toward a better, more fulfilling life. Recommended!

Doug Sneyd - The Art Of Doug Sneyd (Dark Horse / Playboy)

This book is subtitled A Collection Of Playboy Cartoons. To drive that point home, Hugh Hefner wrote the glowing foreword. This large "coffee table" sized gem is out at last in a high quality paperback edition via Dark Horse. Over 240 pages for under 20 bucks! Quite a bargain to be sure.

Since 1964, Doug Sneyd's work has graced the pages of Playboy magazine. Impossibly beautiful women in various states of undress. Leading man handsome gents and average Joes. They all populate Sneyd's world. Gentle gags with a bit of bite here and there. Good-hearted naughtiness.

Sneyd's panels are a compositional clinic. Not a line wasted. All poses to maximum effect. Color to heighten effect. His people, even when idealized, move naturally. Expressions hit the mark. You believe his world. Speaking of his world - I have a beef, Mr Sneyd! There is a plump mega-busty Madam in many Brothel-themed gags, and we never get to see her topless! :::poutpoutpout:::

Printing is crisp, color saturation is rich, reproduction is wonderful. Playboy fans need this, Artists need this. Better living through Sneyd!

The Strawberry Bricks Guide To Progressive Rock (Revised And Expanded Edition) - Charles Snider (Strawberrybricks.com)

I don't often use the word massive, but this book is, in fact, massive. At over 600 pages, The Strawberry Bricks Guide To Progressive Rock is a sort of bedside reader for prog fans of all stripes. Author Charles Snider taps his deep knowledge of the genre for a fascinating read.

The book focuses on the period of 1967 through 1982. A preface and introduction to the main timeline set the stage for the bulk of the book: a year by year run down of albums from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band to Asia's eponymous debut. All done as capsule reviews.

An epilogue has Snider's thoughts of where progressive rock is overall here in 2017. A bibliography leads to a discography of the reviewed albums minus the 476 reviews. Next up is a fascinating series of portraits of important figures in prog. Martin Barre, Derek Shulman, Hugh Banton, Ciro Perrino, and many more. Several "essential" lists follow and an index concludes the book.

It's a strong piece of work. Snider makes his points well and writes in a smooth conversational style. We don't share the same views on every release, but who does? The Strawberry Bricks Guide To Progressive Rock is very honestly the most enjoyable book on progressive music I've read to date! I must now seek out several albums I never even knew existed before I read this book!

Space Family Robinson - Volume Three (Dark Horse)

I was sent this book entirely by accident, but decided to give it a read. I'm sure glad I did! The comics reprinted here are very well written and illustrated science fiction adventure. Very definitely a product of the Sixties before they were swinging. This is not a knock in any way - the stories sparkle in their direct simplicity. Pure entertainment!

The scripts by Gaylord Dubois are clever and engaging without getting wordy or preachy. Tim and Tam Robinson and their parents see the wonders and perils of the galaxy and bring us along for the ride. All of this is drawn by the great Dan Spiegle. His work on these stories is pretty flawless. I see bits of his Noel Sickles and Milt Caniff influences as well as a smidgen of Johnny Craig for good measure. Spiegle's layouts are a master class in illustration: crystal clear and always drawing the eye forward. His figures are awesome, his use of blacks on the page are so good, they'd give Jim Shooter a conniption fit! Oh, and don't let me forget to mention those killer painted covers by George Wilson!

This book also includes a great, informative essay by Scott Shaw! on the history of the tales and the times. You can't miss here. Winner winner outer space chicken dinner!

Bill Thomas - On Track...Kate Bush (Sonic Bond Publishing)

This 2021 book is subtitled Every album, every song. I assure you that they are not kidding! Bill Thomas took on the Herculean task of documenting every officially released track of Kate Bush's career to date.

It's all here. From The Kick Inside to the remastered boxes, no stone is left unturned. Yes, even B-sides and tracks by other artists that Kate Bush guested on. Bill Thomas isn't afraid to voice his opinion on various songs but it rarely gets annoying and never gets fannish.

The book is incredibly well researched and sourced. I've followed Kate Bush from the beginning but still learned quite a bit here. You'll find lots of quotes directly from Bush herself about song meanings and many recording anecdotes.

On Track...Kate Bush is a total treasure. A great source for background on this unique artist. You'll thank me later. Another essential!!

Roy Thomas - The Little Book Of Fantastic Four (Taschen)

At about 4 X 6 inches small, The Little Book Of Fantastic Four is indeed a little book. Never fear, the 192 pages are packed with interesting info and graphic glory!

Author Roy Thomas, who was a scribe on the Fantastic Four for years himself, guides us through the history of the FF. The Mole Man, Galactus, The Silver Surfer, The Inhumans, Dr Doom, The Watcher, The Black Panther. It's all here! Speaking of the Black Panther, I never knew that Jack Kirby based T'Challa on Sidney Poitier. Too cool!

The overwhelming majority of the book covers the Stan Lee / Jack Kirby years with a heaping helping of Joe Sinnott inks. FF noteworthies like John Buscema and John Byrne have their contributions well recognized.

If you spend restless nights worrying that Annihilus might escape from the Negative Zone. If you wonder what Agatha Harkness and Wyatt Wingfoot think about Crystal's romance with Johnny Storm. If you dream of dinner with Ben Grimm and his aunt Petunia. Reed and Sue Richards highly recommend you grab this mighty tome, true believer! As do I!! Excelsior!

Turok Son Of Stone Volume 9 (Dark Horse)

Turok and Andar are 2 Indians (Native Americans) fighting for survival against dinosaurs and prehistoric men is some weird, unexplained lost valley. You knew that, yes? As they are captured by the strange Beaver Men, I was forced to wonder is this my fate? All kidding aside, these Gold Key books were 100% escapist fun in the 1960s / 70s. This volume collects issues 51 - 53, 55, 56, 58, and 59. For reasons untold, issues 54 and 57 are not here! Suffer!

Time has lost the credits to many of the tales here, but Dark Horse assures us that at least some of the stories here were written by Paul S Newman and the art includes work from Alberto Giolitti and Rex Maxon. Regardless of who wrote & drew what, it's all well done fun! Longer stories like Drought or Captives Of The Beaver Men are balanced out by shorties such as Dinosaur Eggs and A Living Link. Why, there are even informative text pieces. A book like this reminds me of my young days reading Boy's Life and ordering chameleons in the mail. These are well illustrated adventures for boys without the taint of time. Wake up the kid inside you and pick this one up!

Various - Blood Orange #3 48 pg. (Fantagraphics Books)

Anthology style comics can be a mixed bag and Blood Orange is no exception. Some of the contributions look like the editor just plain accepted anything sent to him. One piece, an 11 page autobiographical story by Jeffrey Brown, is captivating. A few are nice in a graphic sense. I so wanted to like this more than I did. At $5.95 it's a very expensive 11 pages with 37 pages of filler on nice paper. Print better stuff on it next time, please!

Various - Coast To Coast - 224 pg (Die Gestalten Verlag)

This book is a veritable who's who of contemporary graphic design. From the comic book influenced work of Coop to the delicate Oriental studies of Michael Spoljaric this sumptuous hardcover presents a wide spectrum of styles - each more visually arresting than the last.

The plates are deeply saturated, looking like fine lithographs - Die Gestalten Verlag clearly cut no corners in presentation. Art and music have always maintained close ties. There is much inspiration to be found in the images in "Coast To Coast" for art lovers & music fans alike. An energizing collection.

Melissa Villasenor - Whoops...I'm Awesome (Chronicle Books)

A workbook with activities, art, and stories for embracing your wonderfully awesome self says the subtitle. A pretty accurate assessment of what's between the covers. Melissa Villasenor is, of course, a recent cast member for some 6 seasons on Saturday Night Live - this 2022 - 2023 season being the first without her. She was always a bright light on the show & exuded a heart well beyond the laughs.

This book bursts with positivity. It's simply, honestly & directly written. I can see it connecting with pretty much anyone. A few salty words are the only thing keeping it from young folks. In that regard, it's a sort of kids book for adults. Villasenor offers up ways of working through your daily stress through personal examples and gentle methodology.

She's pretty big on self-acceptance and getting back in touch with your inner kid. There's nothing pushy or condescending here. Lots of fun illustrations and things for the reader to do - lists to fill out, a few puzzles, and places that encourage you to draw. It's all written in a very down-to Earth fashion that's easy to absorb yet very wise for all the simplicity. A book for most everyone - including a 62 year old man who still buys Hot Wheels! My highest possible recommendation!

Bill Ward - Good Girl Funny Adult Coloring Book For Men (ProDuck Press)

Like most folks in my age bracket, I first became aware of Bill Ward through his work for Cracked magazine. I would later learn of his wartime creation - Torchy - and his work for various men's magazines.

Bill Ward was the master of drawing beautiful busty women in lingerie. His pioneering use of conte crayon led to his texturally stunning rendering of stockings in particular. Once seen, never forgotten!

Good Girl Funny Adult Coloring Book For Menis a large format adult coloring book with over 70 Ward illustrations. As it is ostensibly a coloring book, they have knocked back some of Ward's tonal work to better facilitate color. No matter. The images are crisp and clean. I was seeking a nice collection of Bill Ward art and this book fills the bill superbly! As if that's not enough, it was under 10 bucks! A must have for all lovers of good girl art!

Ann & Nancy Wilson With Charles R Cross - Kicking & Dreaming (!t)

This is not the book I was expecting. I thought it would be a history of Heart, covering each album in detail from the Seventies til now. Boy, was I off-base! Subtitled A story of Heart, soul, and rock & roll, Kicking & Dreaming is actually about 2 sisters and the strength they find in family, friends, and ultimately in each other.

Ann and Nancy trade off on the narrative for the most part. There are a few paragraphs by older sister Lynn, Sue Ennis, and a few others, but Ann and Nancy relate the bulk of the story. The reader is taken through their earliest years and the influence of their parents on their character to the influence of the Beatles, Joni Mitchell, and others on their musical development. Yes, many aspects of Heart, their successes, struggles, melodrama, and melancholy within the band are laid bare. But it is always filtered through the impact these events have on the sisters.

There are a few juicy anecdotes for the reader to savor, but what emerges is less about Heart, and more about Ann and Nancy Wilson. The book is written very conversationally and after page 1, I couldn't put it down - you simply must know where it goes next. It's the story of 2 sisters who love and support each other through decades of sexism, hardship, more than a little pain, and some laughs as well. As an aside - if you know me, you know I've dealt with weight issues all my life. I totally understand Ann's displeasure at reviews focusing on what her weight was or wasn't on any given day rather than the quality of her work. It's cheap journalism at best & kudos to Ann Wilson for speaking out on the subject. A fascinating, compelling read.

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