What I am Reading: Saturday Selections

Well I got up with the sun still low in the horizon, I could see it from my window, and I grabbed a passel of books and my laptop, parked my chair where the sun would hit it, and set out to combine reading with updating this blog.

So what was on my read list?

Imaro
I’m rereading Charles Saunder’s IMARO VOL I. I’m on chapter one, great read.

The Spider Chronicles SC (New Printing)
I’m reading for the first time the 2007 Moonstone Anthology THE SPIDER CHRONICLES edited by Joe Gentile.  It consists of 19 short stories by some great writers. Among them Steve Englehart, Chuck Dixon, Martin Powell, Ron Fortier and others.

Reading the fun introduction by Comic Book legend Denny O’Neil.  And the first story, Martin Powell’s CITY OF THE MELTING DEAD, takes you right into the action, with a very cinematic tale of the Master of Men.

The Spider: City of Doom (Spider (Baen Books))
Continuing the Spider love, a pulp character I was not familiar with (beyond reference to him as a poor man’s Shadow) I also picked up the 2009 Baen publishing paperback THE SPIDER: CITY OF DOOM.  It’s actually a 600 page paperback omnibus, that is comprised of three Spider novels, namely: THE CITY DESTROYER, THE COUNCIL OF EVIL and THE FACELESS ONE, written by Norvell Page. I had some trepidation going into these novels based on some reviews on Norvell Page’s writing, but I’ve decided to see for myself. So wish me luck. :)

“If you’ve read any of Norvell Page’s Spider series, you recall he took what was meant to be a simple imitation of the Shadow and immediately swerved left to careen through Crazy Town with it. Those stories are so over the top that I used to put them down sometimes for a “What the hell” moment…. it’s difficult to overstate how whacky and exciting they are. On the other hand, don’t expect a neat tidy resolution at the end. This isn’t Ellery Queen, where every detail fits together perfectly. Page apparently made it up as he went, starting plot threads he completely forgot and taking off in different directions halfway through. You’d have to read the stories to fully understand what I mean, but reading a Norvell Page Spider story is like being in a car hurtling down a mountainside in the wintertime, the brakes out and the driver unconscious and some sort of large animal growling in the seat behind you. That’s THE SPIDER.”— Dr. Hermes Live Journal

Alan Moore’s Neonomicon
I also picked up the graphic novel NEONOMICON by Alan Moore, Jacen Burrows, and Antony Johnston (yet once again, I’ve been hoodwinked by ‘positive’ Amazon reviews, by reviewers with no taste or sense). 

It’s something I’m immediately sorry I bought. Mainly because it starts off with the exceedingly unpleasant, needlessly slur and epitaph laden, and pretty poorly written THE COURTYARD by Antony Johnston off of a Moore story/script. I’m not really interested in listening to a bigoted sob go on endlessly (the protagonist of the book), if that’s my thing I’d just listen to Fox news all the time. :). Also while I appreciate publisher Avatar bringing us esoteric and adult books, their art leaves a bit to be desired. I’m not a fan of their artists, in this case that would be Jacen Burrows.

So yeah, add a story I don’t like with art I don’t like, and this equals me not being a fan of THE COURTYARD at all. The fact that THE COURTYARD takes up half the book, means by the time I get to the NEONOMICON story, I’m so soured on the book I just don’t care. But I drag myself through it and you know what, I’m sorry I wasted the effort. A lot has been made of the sex, and violence and racism, yada yada yada. But really the book is defined by two words I had hoped not to associate with Alan Moore… boring and stupid.

Being a fan of much of Moore’s 80s and 90s work (even into the 2000s, I think his FROM HELL is one of his best works, right up there with WATCHMEN), it gives me no pleasure to say the following. Moore’s NEONOMICON, his love letter to HP Love craft, is just inane, pathetic writing from a writer who had been one of the best. And I’ve lost all respect for The Bram Stoker committee for giving an award to this title. Best Graphic Novel of the year?!! Did they just see the names Moore and Lovecraft, and decide this must be literary? Are you on Crack?! What a load of crap! NEONOMICON comes across as the bland, pedestrian work of a hack. And that’s a shame to have to say. But it’s the gospel. It’s not worth buying people, it is not even worth renting. This book is getting returned.

Silent Hill: Past Life
Now a graphic novel I’m reading that I do like quite a bit is SILENT HILL PAST LIFE from a company called IDW that is just exploding onto the comics/graphic novel scene. Written by Tom Waltz the story is capable but the selling point is the sublime art by Menton 3. It’s very reminiscent of the multi-media effects that David Mack is known for. Few pages in and very happy with the book so far.

Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes
And finally one I’m several chapters into is Andrew E.C. Gaska’s CONSPIRACY OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Initially when I ordered this book I thought I was getting a graphic novel, and was a bit put off to discover this was a prose novel, with spot and occasional full page illustrations.

But that reluctance was short lived once I started reading it. Gaska’s CONSPIRACY OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is GREAT!! I’m not even a Planet of the Apes fan, but was just enthralled by Gaska’s engrossing re-imagining of this well known story. I should finish it today, as it will probably take precedence over everything else.

One more thing on this book from publisher Archaia Press, it comes with a beautiful slipcover by living legend Jim Steranko, but once you take off that slipcover, underneath is this sumptuous faux leather book, with gorgeous patining and typography. Call me a twisted bibliophile but the feel of this book is grand. It feels like… luxury. Try and get that aesthetic from your digital book. :). This is definitely a writer to watch.

So that’s what I’ve been reading this bright Saturday. What about you gals and guys? Feel free to leave comments about your recommended reads today. Thanks!!

p.s. If you like the books I mention and are interested in purchasing, definitely use the handy-dandy links provided. Come’on guys I know how many of you view these posts, and it’s a good number, however people clicking on the links has dropped a bit, even as the number of viewers has increased. So gals and guys support the blog, by buying stuff you were intending to buy anyhow. Using the links makes a huge difference, and is a win-win situation for everyone. So Thanks in advance! :)

ARTIST OF THE DAY: MENTON3

Just came across a new artist.

He signs his work Menton3. Take a gander:

The above images are from his series MONOCYTE, which it appears he writes as well as illustrates. As you can see the art is beautiful, however I’ve read the preview pages and the story so far is pretty unreadable. It may lead someplace, but so far… not.

Much better are the following images from the series SILENT HILL PAST LIFE. That one is written by Tom Waltz. And reading just a couple pages, it’s obvious he’s a talented writer, and that makes all the difference:

The SILENT HILL:PAST LIFE series is complete and is available as a Graphic Novel. Also the previous Tom Waltz series SILENT HILL:SINNER’S REWARD is also available.

You can pick them up at the links below. Again I don’t play the SILENT HILL video games, I didn’t like the movie, but I really enjoyed what I’ve read of Tom Waltz’s story so far. So good stories, and a great way to be exposed to an excellent new artist in Menton3 (he just does the art on PAST LIFE, but the art on the other book is very good as well):

Silent Hill: Past Life

Silent Hill: Sinner’s Reward

NOW & THEN:DEAD ISLAND TRAILER vs LIGHTS OUT’s “IT HAPPENED”

Okay, spurred by a recent trailer I got the idea for this post called NOW & THEN, a new reoccurring posting that will contrast, so called, hot new things and breaking news; with classic or overlooked older items.

There is always this generational thing where people of a certain age look at current items, be it films, music, books, sports, and call them crap and pine for the good old days, and on the other side of the coin you have people, also of a certain age, who have a tendency to look at anything that is not current or today and call it old fashioned or irrelevant.

Being someone who cherishes both the old, and can embrace the new when it’s great, I think both of those previous positions are very limiting.

Everybody can have an opinion, but your exposure to other things, your foundation in the medium you’re talking about, says a lot about the weight and worth of your opinion.

If all you watch is romantic comedies, or Kevin Smith slacker films, and yet you want to have an opinion about what a great film is, not knowing that the romantic comedy you glorify, is nothing but an iteration of a Cary Grant film made 70 years ago… your opinion while colorful, may not exactly be valid or valuable.

Same way it limits you, if all you listen to is HipHop or Heavy Metal or any single type of music consuming it… but not knowing there’s a rich range of influences from a variety of music informing every beat or sample you bob your head to, and a rich history of lyrics having meaning beyond the profane.

(And no, I’m not hating. I was listening to rap and heavy metal before most of you reading this I reckon. But I was also listening to folk, country, soul, jazz, calypso, classical, blues, etc. And I think that has made all the difference. While guanranteeing no expertise, such a diverse grounding, grants you at least the ability to speak from a wide perspective, rather than a narrow one)

[Twista is an example of an actually talented rapper, unlike many who are paid just to curse at women, act ignorant, and look stupid. Twista is perhaps no stranger to those vices, but when he wants to he can actually craft, relatively misogynist-free/genocide-free music... that is actually fun. His 'Tattoo' is one of his fast and fun songs. Listen to a nice mashup of it here!]

Restricting yourself to just one thing, being unwilling to grow beyond your comfort zone, is analogous to someone who sticks their fork into the cake, just enough to taste the icing, but not actually enough to taste the cake, and then wants to have an opinion on the cake.

That opinion isn’t worth much.

And that goes for all of life, the more you marginalize or segregate your experience, or allow your experience to be marginalized, be that marginalization with films, or music, or reading, the more incapable you become in competing… in anything.

And that is the problem with too much of America, too much of the world, increasingly people speak without taking the time to be informed about the things they speak on.

Seemingly that is what happens when consumers only consume one thing, and aren’t required to think about that thing, they become… un-moored when introduced to anything that challenges them slightly. To anything that is not… their stereotype.

Here in NOW & THEN, I’m going to do my bit to combat that tunnel vision, by giving you both something current and something classic to consume, to experience, to integrate into your storage banks. Be it movie trailers, films, music, books, comics, personalities, news… I’m not saying you’re going to love the things I post, though my attempt is that you will hopefully enjoy at least one of the things posted.

And I’m going to try and have those distinct things in each post, be united by some common thematic or structural thread, so it makes a nice comparison between old and new.

Well that’s the idea. Without further ado let’s get to this installment’s… NOW & THEN:

THE NOW: Feb 2011

I’ve caught the hoopla on this trailer for a new game called DEAD ISLAND. The hoopla goes thus:

“In the last twenty-four hours, zombie horror game Dead Island has climbed into the top trending topics on Twitter and has merited coverage by numerous blogs and entertainment sites thanks to a provocative three-minute “announcement trailer.” ‘
–The Collider

View the trailer here and see what passes for horror today.

THE THEN: 11 May 1938

LIGHTS OUT, a famous and quite ground-breaking radio program that ran (to unprecedented success) from 1934 to 1947, the brainchild of boy genius Wyllis Cooper (and later Arch Oboler), is recognized as one of the first shows to bring suspense and horror to the still young medium of radio.

Broadcast Wednesdays at midnight, when previously only languid music programs played, LIGHTS OUT reinvented that time-slot as a witching-hour. And the whole nation quickly got in the habit of starting Thursdays just a little bit sleep deprived, having spent the previous Wednesdays cuddled in front the radio, listening to the dire voices of the id. In May of 1938, 73 years ago, one of the most disturbing of those voices called “It Happened” was aired, to a world that was between wars, and between horrors.

Listen to the radio program here and see what passed for horror seven decades ago.

Well that’s this installments NOW & THEN, hope you enjoy what you see/hear and if so, feel free to email or post your comment on which selection was most effective… Now or Then. :) . Also feel free to mention what common theme unites the two things. Be right, and who knows, I might even toss in a gift for correct responses. :) .

Till Later!