Podcast of the Day : The Best Doug Moench Interview!

THE BEST DOUG MOENCH INTERVIEW!

I just discovered this COMIC SHENANIGANS interview with Doug Moench.

From April 2017 this interview is FANTASTIC! Doug Moench (pronounced mensh) is a legendary comic writer, but arguably not as legendary as he should be. While names like Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Chris Claremont and John Byrne are known to even peripheral fans of comics, the name Doug Moench  arguably doesn’t get the praise he deserves.

His work in the 70s and 80s brought a sophistication to comics, that tends to get attributed to the year 1986 and the one two punch of Frank Miller’s DARK KNIGHT and Alan Moore’ s WATCHMEN, but those iconic books didn’t get born in a vacuum.  It came in stages through creators, by fits and starts, progressing the medium.  Creators such as…

The phenomenal work of Stan Lee in the 1960s creating stories that talked to the audience, rather than at the audience. His stories, his dialog, was snappy and fun patter which sung for the first time to a college audience, rather than strictly to the kid audience, and really separated Marvel from everyone else.

Stan Lee gets credit, but I think too many people in a rush to praise the artists, and address any slights,  such as Jack Kirby and Ditko and Romita etc (men deserving of praise) , they stumble into a very trumpian conceit of feeling that in order to praise the artists they have to tear down the writer, namely Stan Lee.  And quite frankly that is just insipid. You can praise them both, and should praise them both.

Beacause all that beautiful FF art, if married to insipid dialog/writing you have underwhelming stories. Or if you have stories that don’t hype/excite the audience, all the art is not going to save it. The silver age series SHIELD (pre and even some of the early Steranko) is an example of this.  Interesting Kirby art, but pretty boring , uninteresting writing.

Stan was writing the whole Marvel Universe at the time, and I don’t think war and spy books was his strength, so this series is pretty poorly written/dialoged, and all Kirby’s art couldn’t save it. The same thing could have happened to FF, but for Stan’s love for those characters and stories. The FF stories are great because Stan is at the top of his game as ideaman/writer, and Kirby is at the top of his game as storyteller/artist.  It is the collaboration of words and images that make those early FF stories work.

Stan Lee as ideaman, as writer, as editor, as cheerleader, as salesman, as enthusiastic fount of energy is unequaled. He put Marvel Comics  on his back and he carried it with a smile, onto the road that it is on now. With his passion to identify his creators and sell them to his audience, something no other publisher was doing, he gave birth to a generation of future writers and artists. As well as his more experimental work, allowing the competition (DC) to likewise let their writers off the leash. You get some of the best late 60s /early 70s Kanigher, Giordano, ONeil, Haney stories as a reaction to Marvel’s inroads to the college audience.

So you get a bunch of writers in the wake of Stan, growing the medium.

Among them being Roy Thomas, Steve Englehart, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Steranko, David Kraft, Keith Giffen, ONeil, Claremont, and arguably one of the most innovative of them… Doug Moench.

Doug Moench is known to a younger generation mostly for his later Batman work, however thanks to a new bunch of collections coming out from Marvel; the work that put him on the map (to even other comicbook creators) THE MASTER OF KUNG FU and MOON KNIGHT is finally readily available. Its availability allowing old and new to revisit these groundbreaking works, and put in clearer perspective this pivotal creator.

His MOKF, while of its age was more sophisticated than anything else coming out in comics, and looking back on it, now nearly 4 decades later, those stories are still incredibly entertaining. Particularly the issues with his long time collaborator, Paul Gulacy, are a phenomenal marriage of words and pictures.

Arguably 4 decades later, their ‘CAT’ story from issue #38 of the MASTER OF KUNG FU SERIES (and now available in Volume II of the MASTER OF KUNG FU Omnibus) is one of the greatest single issues of a comic. And fellow collaborators Mike Zeck, and the late great Gene Day also brought wonderful life to the words of Moench.

Likewise his MOON KNIGHT series with Bill Sienkiewicz was month in and month out one of the most sophisticated and daring and heartfelt books being put out; and opened the door for the success of the comic shop, and the rise of the Independent publishers. It gave a generation of writers a broader perspective on what can be done in a comic book. Many talented writers and artists have tried their hands at the character of Moon Knight since Moench’s departure, a few have been good, Warren Ellis and Jeff Lemire come to mind, most have been awful, and none have been the equal of Moench and Sienkiewicz’s run. That is something, when 4 decades of writers, cannot equal or surpass what you did.

Add to that three of the most haunting Batman stories, a trilogy of one shot issues done with Pat Broderick, and phenomenal creator owned work SIX FROM SIRIUS with Paul Gulacy, as well as his work in the Black and White mags,  and you have some of what makes Doug Moench one of the best writers in the history of comics.

Now with my 2 cents out of the way, go listen to the interview from the man himself:

https://comicshenanigans.podbean.com/category/doug-moench/

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Week 4 of 2018! Best Unboxing and Graphic Novel Videos!

I like Youtube courtesy of Roku because you can browse without comments. I don’t mind comments if they are moderated, but unmoderated comments is just like sewage, something I prefer not to wade thru. 🙂

So Roku allows me to actually be able to use Youtube and find it useful rather than nauseating. Case in point, unboxing videos. I am a HUGE graphic novel and Art Book fan, and I’ve become quite enamored of these videos where people show off their artbook or graphic novel or comic. It has given me so many great ideas regarding items to purchase, as well as helping me decide ites to pass on.

Though, unfortunate for my wallet, more of the former than the latter.

Here are some recent great ones as well as some of the best channels to visit.

 

THE CHINEST has great segments where you get to see the interior of the comic and decide if it is for you or not.

https://m.youtube.com/user/TheChinest

MARKET WATCH has a recent fantastic series of videos where he shows some of the great items he found in a recent collection purchase.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz_gop-AM3fa6NGhSs_J_0w

GEM MINT COLLECTIBLES does a phenomenal end of 2017 Room Tour. Really impressive man-cave even if you are not into figurines. I really want those GOON and FEAR AGENT Hardcovers/Omnibuses.  And I love the idea of his desk in the middle of the room as well as his bookstand. I’m completely going to do that.  Really interesting and informative videos on his channel. Check out his TOP TEN ABSOLUTE EDITION WHALES video as well.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC31fEeAOTnfRgvGFwYJsFUA

Kudos to OMNIBUDS CAFE I really enjoyed his 2018 Omnibus collection overview. His bound and signed editions are great.

 

I have more of these shout outs coming, as well as a list of my favorite collections of 2017!  So come back for more next time!

2015 Podcasts the Year in Review: Old Favorites ended and New ones discovered

 

Looking back over the ten year history of this blog I’ve praised my share of podcasts, and seen quite a few shuffle off this mortal coil.

2015 seemed to be a volatile year, with many of my long standing podcast favorites either no longer releasing episodes on a regular schedule or hanging up their mics.

Among some of the great ones that seem to be on hiatus or done are:

 

  • HORROR ETC
  • SIDEBAR

 

 

All of these shows are and were great, and will be missed. And join other great departed podcasts such as:

 

  • INDIE SPINNER RACK
  • GEEK SYNDICATE
  • MONDO MOVIE
  • FREQUENCY OF FEAR

 

But I completely understand, these podcast and blogs, while dearly loved, require HUGE expenditures of time and energy, and sometimes… life gets in the way. And considering most of these podcasts are not a revenue stream, it is understandable that when the effort exceeds the rewards… it’s time to stop doing it. What is amazing is that some of these shows have gone as long as they have.

All that said, you may or may not still find old episodes online. I recommend grabbing them if you can. SIDEBAR particularly interviewed some great artists, and for those interviews to be not easily accessible, seems… a loss.

INDIE SPINNER RACK  had the best interviews with both Alan Moore (One of the greatest and most influential writers in the comics/graphic novel medium – it is a crime that companies, marvel and dc, are releasing books missing his name , and shorn of his insightful interviews. the reasons for this are both well documented and trivial. yes, alan moore can be something of a bridge burner, but his brilliance makes him worth the effort to mend those fences. when he passes off this mortal coil, as we all must, no one wants to be remembered as the company that stole his characters, and froze him out of work. pay alan moore and get him at least authorizing director’s cut versions or writer approved versions of his most celebrated works. it’s one of the reasons i will not part with my swamp thing paperbacks, it is because later introductions are devoid of his introductions, which are as entertaining and informative as his stories. )

and Stephen Bissette (Who remains to this day, with his run on swamp thing, one of the greatest and most influential artists to work in the medium).

 

So the above are the podcasts lost in 2015. Here are some select podcasts enjoyed in 2015:

 

Head over to the German Music Magazine GROOVE and pick up two of the best mix tapes of 2015:

 

DECONSTRUCTING COMICS – anytime you get the chance to hear Stephen Bissette speak, take it. Not only one of the great superstar artists of the 80s with his game changing work on Swamp Thing, but simply an informed, erudite speaker on a number of topics.. including the history of horror and cinema. This Sept 2015 podcast is a recommended listen. They also have an episode of huge interest to any fan of either Edgar Allen Poe or Richard Corben. They also offer a Transformers episode that offers reviews on recent transformer comics.

 

 

THE DOLLAR BIN (Also a show that appears to be on indefinite hiatus) had a couple intriguing episodes in 2015, one covering HIP HOP FAMILY TREE, and one with Golden Age artist Allen Bellman:

 

And if these guys really are  done producing new shows, some of their classic shows that you want to get, while avaiilable, are:

I grew up on Steve Englehart comics and you don’t get today’s sophisticated comics, without first going through him. One of the first to help transition comics from kids entertainment to college and beyond entertainment.

Not one, but two interviews with one of the most elusive, and one of the most talented and innovative writers in comics, Christopher Priest (His SPIDERMAN VS WOLVERINE remains one of the joys of my collection, as well as his excellent run on BLACK PANTHER and QUANTUM AND WOODY).

 

A Bob McLeod interview (Made important because Bob McLeod’s work on the NEW MUTANTS is burned into my brain. That fight with the New Mutants and the Sentinels in a mall, blew my mind as a kid. And as an adult, those images still define for me what great artwork and storytelling should be.)

So quite a few of my favorite podcasts slowed down or completely stopped in 2015. However when one door closes another, as they say, opens.

So some podcasts I started listening to in 2015, and have added to my subscriptions are:

 

  • THE COMICS ALTERNATIVE- Their monthly preview episodes helped me all last year put in my monthly comics order
  • INKSTUDS- Interviews with Comic Book  Creators… some really indispensable interviews.
  • READING LIVES- Interviews with Writers… LOVE IT.
  • WTF- I think without argument the most listened to and successful podcast, with guests from  comedians, musicians, actors, and now a sitting president, Marc Maron out of his garage has created podcast as both high art, and passionate conversation.
  • FILMSPOTTING:SVU- Reviews for the streaming age
  • GILBERT GODFREY PODCAST – I do not find Gilbert Gottfried funny, but his knowledge and love for classic film and television, means he interviews people I want to hear, and he has had some GREAT gustd this year. Thankfully co-host Frank is there to get the podcast back on track when Gilbert starts amusing himself and no one else
  • FAT MAN ON BATMAN- Kevin Smith’s love for the creative process and all things Batman… is an addictive listen
  • HOUSE TO ASTONISH – A comic book podcast from across the pond

AND WRAPPING UP MY 2015 REVIEW, WANT TO GIVE ACCOLADES TO SOME OF MY FAVORITE, AND LONGEST RUNNING PODCASTS THAT ARE STILL GOING STRONG. ALL AWARD WINNING PODCASTS (they all won my Welles Award a few years back, and in my mind have been award winners every year since):

  • CGS – Comic Geek Speak -one of the oldest podcasts, and with great losses, and welcome additions, still an eagerly awaited listen
  • 11′ OCLOCK- One of the most informative and jam-packed and fun of any podcast. The chemistry these three have… works.
  • B-MOVIE CAST – Love this podcast on classic, crazy, genre cinema. Wonderful chemistry between the hosts.

Well folks, that is the podcast scene here as 2015 ends and 2016 takes the stage. Please use this list to see what was special about those shows we lost, and to jump aboard and support those we still have.

Thanks for reading and be well!

CDs worth owning in the age of Itunes! 15 Favorite obscure CDs!


moonserpent

ALAN MOORE : THE MOON AND SERPENT GRAND EGYPTIAN THEATRE OF MARVELS -A fantastic CD, oral dissection and tour of London of the Id. Alan Moore is analogous to Shakespeare in that like Shakespeare he is one of the greatest writers of a castigated medium (Shakespeare worked in the, during his life, little respected medium of plays, mass entertainment for the mobs; and Moore works in the medium of comic books/graphic novels), and arguably is not fully understood or appreciated out of that medium in his lifetime. His spoken word CDs are some of the most amazing and compelling, combining his love of topics but strange and obscure, married to his voice, which is one of the greatest and most haunting voices of our age. Moon & Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels

band_called_death
DEATH : FOR THE WHOLE WORLD TO SEE – Rock/Proto-Punk – Turned on to this CD by the wonderful documentary A BAND CALLED DEATH. A great documentary and a great CD. For the Whole World to See

ABRAHAM BURTON QUARTET : CAUSE AND EFFECT – Was turned onto this CD by Amiri Baraka when I met him a few years back and bought his excellent hardcover book DIGGING THE AFRO AMERICAN SOUL OF CLASSICAL AMERICAN MUSIC. Cause and EffectDigging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music

CHE : NOT LIKE THEM – Caught this artist live performance years ago, and got this CD direct from him. It still remains one of the best CDs I own. An amazing performer who brings together Neo-soul, R&B, Rock, and some genres not invented yet, in a fun, head bobbing package.

TAALAM ACEY : BLUES RESURGENCE – Another artist I caught live, and got this CD direct from him. One of the greatest spoken word CDs. Blues Resurgence

MARK GROSS : RIDDLE OF THE SPHINX – I heard him play his title track in a dive bar, somewhere on the edge of the world, and purchased. A great purchase as it is one of the best Jazz Cds I’ve ever heard. Riddle of the Sphinx

AWADAGIN PRATT : A LONG WAY FROM NORMAL- My gold standard for classical piano CDs are the great Glenn Gould’s BACH THE GOLDBERG VARIATIONS released by CBS Records and this lesser known, but no less great, album by Awadagin Pratt. A must own. Plays Liszt/Franck/Brahms/Bach

PARIS : THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT/SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY – I added these two CDs as one, because even though they are separated by decades, they are linked at the hip, by a fervor that is both mired in specific times, yet oddly time resistant. And a delivery… unequaled. The Devil Made Me Do It

TERRY CALLIER : SPEAK YOUR PEACE – Speak Your Peace

QUINCY JONES : IN COLD BLOOD – Soundtrack. Why on earth would anyone ever want the sound track to a movie? When I was young it made no sense to me. And to be truthful, for most movies and soundtracks I still feel that way. I’ve listened to a lot of not especially interesting soundtrack Records and CDs. And then one day I put on the LP to Cold Blood by Quincy Jones, a young Quincy Jones before he became the manager for the King of Pop, and settled into making pop and r&b albums. This young Quincy Jones was pushing how music could be used to elicit feelings and tell stories, and during the late 60s early 70s created some of the most experimental and haunting music ever conceived. IN COLD BLOOD remains the seminal instrumental work done not just by Quincy Jones, but by anyone. It was the first soundtrack album to open my eyes to the fact that the soundtrack can be a work of art onto itself. IN COLD BLOOD (ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK LP, 1968)

JERRY GOLDSMITH : PLANET OF THE APES – Jerry Goldsmith has created mountains of Sound tracks, I don’t know if he has ever been more experimental or better than here. Planet Of The Apes: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Also Featuring Music From Escape From The Planet Of The Apes

JIMMY WILSON : FUTURE HISTORY – Future History

DON PEYOTE : BETWEEN WORLDS – A lot of people turn up their nose at the term New Age, rightly or wrongly I don’t know. What I do know is I’m in love with binaural effects, and CDs that, using just a headphone, can recreate a 360 degree environment. BETWEEN WORLDS does that brilliantly. A great CD to read or drift off to. Between Worlds with Hemi-Sync

STEVE USCHER : LA GUITARRA TROPICAL –

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IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE : REVOLUTIONARY VOL 2 – I have oft praised this CD. It should be required listening by people who want to hear what rap can be like… when it is about more than self grandizement and debasement.

Well hope you enjoyed that list of essential obscure CDs. Now I’m sure most of you in this age of Itunes have ditched your walkman, so how, you ask, do you play these cds? Well thankfully there are nice, compact, cost effective devices that allow you to take not only your cds but your dvds and other media with you when on the move. Here’s a link to one:

Sylvania Portable DVD Player SDVD7027-C, 7-Inch, Swivel Screen, Black

Enjoy!


PODCAST OF THE DAY: FATMAN on BATMAN 45

PODCAST OF THE DAY: FATMAN on BATMAN 45

Okay combine the writings of living legend Alan Moore at his best, with the impassioned reading of Kevin Smith and you have something excellent to accompany you through an hour or two of work.

Smith has an excellent voice for radio/podcasts, and using it to recite one of Moore’s most imaginative tales, makes this podcast a must listen.

Whether or not you have any interest in comics, Kevin Smith’s passion for the subject, and masterful reading is just addictive and entertaining. Highly recommended!

Go here to listen!

TOP 15 FAVORITE DVD Commentaries! Part 2 of 3!

Continuing my list of 15 favorite DVD commentaries, here are selections 6-10.

MAGNIFICENT SEVEN- Great reminiscences on the making of the film and the personalities including Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen by a quartet of voices that includes Eli Wallach and James Coburn (with a voice so deep, it’s like mountains… shifting) makes this an endlessly listen-able and informative and enjoyable commentary.
The Magnificent Seven (Two-Disc Collector’s Edition) This is the version to get as it contains two commentaries, including one that is not on the Blu-Ray version. Who loves ya baby?! 🙂


Tim Burton’s SLEEPY HOLLOW commentary is up next. Tim Burton is a ‘hit and miss’ director for me, while always an amazing visual stylist, his more humor laced films such as DARK SHADOWS I don’t like. There’s a natural tendency to black humor in the direction of Tim Burton, but it works better when he doesn’t play to this tendency, because then it comes out forced as in DARK SHADOWS. However when the humor is not the goal, but just a side effect of the situations or the truth of the characters, when it doesn’t supplant or overshadow the drama or action or horror… then it works.

That’s what is so special about his films, such as SLEEPY HOLLOW and to a lesser extent the first BATMAN, that dark Gothic atmosphere, that tone, stays paramount, and indeed is heightened by brief moments of levity.

Heightened by a deadpan delivery, not there for laughs, but because that is the truth or the absurdity of that character in that moment. The scenes should work when played and taken straight, and shouldn’t be there expecting a laugh (which is the surest way not to get one), however if the humor works, comes across for some, that’s just an added bonus.

A great commentary by Tim Burton touches on all of this. Burton discusses working with Christoper Lee and Landau and of course Depp, the power of Spanish horses, his sheep fetish, working on sets (which Burton is a master of), discussing Depp’s amazing ability to faint like a girl. 🙂 Just a fun, informative commentary that lets you see first and foremost Burton as film fan and connoisseur.
Sweeney Todd / Sleepy Hollow (Two-Pack) [Blu-ray]


INSIDE MAN- Spike Lee’s career took a heavy hit with the atrocious film, MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA, one of the few movies so awful I walked out on (to be fair the camera work was great, just the story and dialogue and pacing was garbage). However prior to that, he was firing on all cylinders with the film INSIDE MAN. Not just one of Spike Lee’s best films, but one of the best heist/thriller films you’ll come across. And it’s adorned with a FANTASTIC commentary by Spike Lee that shows him as the ultimate New Yorker. Just great, high energy stories about Lee shooting in a city he clearly loves. Perhaps the only other filmmaker who is as much a cheerleader and champion for New York as Spike Lee would be Martin Scorsese. A wonderful commentary.
Inside Man (Widescreen Edition)


THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN- It’s rare when you can point to a film and say. “yep this is the film that ended his career”. You can do that with this film, and the directing career of Stephen Norrington. Most people hate this film for largely not being Alan Moore’s comic, and the changes made.

Well it is definitely changed. But that’s the nature of Adaptations, what works on the page does not necessarily work on the stage/screen. And slavish devotion to the source material, ala SIN CITY is no guarantee of quality (I hated SIN CITY). If you want the source material, go read the source material, that hasn’t been changed.

For the rest of us, we are sharp enough to get the fact that the film has to meet the needs of a far greater range of people and interests, and becomes by definition a different thing. Now whether that different thing is good or bad is the question.

In the case of Stephen Norrington’s THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMAN I enjoy this film a lot. And I appreciate it more every single time I see it. It takes the framework of Moore’s story, and builds something that moves at a brisk, exciting pace to fill close to 2 hours (110 minutes), something that Moore’s original, was not designed to do. Moore’s work is designed for the page, and works best there.

But to adapt it to the screen, it has to become something else. And I think Norrington and crew create a something else… that is one of the best love letters to the age of the pulp hero and two-fisted action that you will find, outside of an Indiana Jones film. And I love that it goes for practical effects, and tries different things, instead of just CGI. So yep I proudly own the DVD for this film, and routinely take it for a spin.

And I also routinely listen to the commentary, which is great. By all reports Norrington had a bumpy time with his first success BLADE, coming to loggerheads (a fancy old time expression, meaning to bring something to a boil. A loggerhead back in the day being a long heated piece of iron with a bulbous head used to heat liquids. And yes, that is your word for the day :)) with individuals, that almost there ended his directing career before it began.

Here in LEAGUE, in his fourth film, he ticks off (forget Alan Moore, forget the fans)… he ticks off the star of the film, the legendary Sean Connery! And all of that, is included in the commentary. How are you going to talk about throwing down with Sean Connery?!! So it is an amazing bit of commentary for this 2003 film, and seemingly signals a promising director’s swan song from the business.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Widescreen Edition)


THE HOWLING- Everyone knows this is one of the greatest Werewolf movies ever, but what you might not know is it’s also one of the most enjoyable, fun commentaries. With Joe Dante, Dee Wallace Stone and her husband Chris Stone (boyfriend during the filming of the movie, I’m such a romantic that I dig things like that, plus I generally adore Dee Wallace, she is just so completely invested and open and awesome in this film), and Robert Picardo, all just having a ball.

And to that fact, there are guest stars/cameos galore (Ackerman, Sayles, Corman, Caradine, Slim Pickens, etc) in this film, and this commentary becomes everything a great commentary should be. Easily should make anyone’s best of list!
The Howling (Special Edition)

Join me in the next installment as we cover the final five favorite commentaries #11-15 (Here’s part 1 if you missed it)! And in the interim feel free to leave comments about your favorite commentaries! If you like this post, take the time to give a ‘like’ and also take the time to purchase using the links provided.

That one two punch of support is what keeps this blog going. And it also helps me decide what future segments to concentrate on, the posts that get the most likes, and generate the most purchases, are more than likely topics that have an audience, so I’ll revisit them.

So yeah, your feedback in those two ways… just a way cool thing for you to take time to do! Keep it up! Thanks!:)!

Here’s Part I!

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! 🙂