WEDNESDAY WORDS! TOP 20 BOOKS OF THE WEEK!

HEROIC TIMES Top 20 Books list is a new weekly installment that ranks the 20 most interesting, intriguing books of the week (old, new, reissues, digital, etc). Contributors represent a variety of genres and sources. Each book includes Title and publisher blurb.

Feel free to leave feedback comments below, or suggest additions or subtractions. And if interested in purchasing please use the attached links. Every purchase through those links, is you helping to support this blog. Now without further ado:

Emperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain [Hardcover] by A. Lee Martinez- Emperor Mollusk- Intergalactic Menace. Destroyer of Worlds. Conqueror of Other Worlds. Mad Genius. Ex-Warlord of Earth.Not bad for a guy without a spine.But what’s a villain to do after he’s done . . . everything. With no new ambitions, he’s happy to pitch in and solve the energy crisis or repel alien invaders should the need arise, but if he had his way, he’d prefer to be left alone to explore the boundaries of dangerous science. Just as a hobby, of course.

Retirement isn’t easy though. If the boredom doesn’t get him, there’s always the Venusians. Or the Saturnites. Or the Mercurials. Or . . . well, you get the idea. If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s also the assassins of a legendary death cult and an up-and-coming megalomaniac (as brilliant as he is bodiless) who have marked Emperor for their own nefarious purposes. But Mollusk isn’t about to let the Earth slip out of his own tentacles and into the less capable clutches of another. So it’s time to dust off the old death ray and come out of retirement. Except this time, he’s not out to rule the world. He’s out to save it from the peril of THE SINISTER BRAIN!

And Their Memory Was a Bitter Tree – As one of the three most important American pulp fantasy authors of the 1930s (with Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith), Robert E. Howard captivated readers with his indomitable, battle-scarred barbarian hero Conan. Though Howard’s life ended prematurely in 1936 at the age of 30, Conan lives on as one of the genre’s most enduring icons. This beautifully designed collection contains nine essential Conan stories along with a full-length Conan novel. Also included is The Hyborean Age, Howard’s fascinating history of the raw, blood-drenched world Conan inhabited, an alternative Earth that preceded Tolkien’s Middle Earth. And Their Memory Was a Bitter Tree features a color map of this realm and an interior painting by cult artist Brom, along with a series of Frank Frazetta’s seminal Conan paintings, appearing for the first time with the stories for which they were created.

Creepy Presents Richard Corben [Hardcover]- Over 300-pages of timeless terror from a master storyteller! Horror comics visionary and coloring pioneer Richard Corben has been a voice of creativity and change for over four decades. For the first time ever, Corben’s legendary Creepy and Eerie short stories and cover illustrations are being collected into one deluxe hardcover! With an informative foreword by artist and comic-book colorist Jose Villarrubia – who also provides color restoration – this volume features Richard Corben’s original stories, Edgar Allan Poe adaptations, and collaborations with comic-book writers Bruce Jones, Bill DuBay, Doug Moench, Gerald Conway, and others! – I love the art and stories of Richard Corben, particularly from this period. And to have 300 pages of it collected in one place in Hardcover format? Sign me up. The output of Dark Horse Publishing continues to be top notch and abundant. And this is another winner from them..

Caravaggio: The Complete Works – Hardcover: 306 pages. Publisher: TASCHEN America Llc (December 1, 2009)Language: English, ISBN-10: 383650183X, ISBN-13: 978-3836501835, Product Dimensions: 19 x 13 x 2.2 inches

Negative Space– As an artistic device, ?negative space? refers to an artist?s rendering of a subject by relying on the space that surrounds the subject to provide shape and meaning. Of course, the term also refers to any topic that conjures feelings of unease and discomfort. Furthering the partnership begun with the publication of Guess Who? internationally acclaimed illustrator Noma Bar has compiled his newest collection of work, Negative Space.

Art of the Modern Movie Poster: International Postwar Style and Design [Hardcover]- Critically authoritative, visually stunning, and physically massive, Art of the Modern Movie Poster is the first and last word on post-WWII film poster design. Showcasing fascinating examples from 15 nations, this collection of more than 1,500 exemplary designs is a must-have for film buffs, design and poster aficionados alike. The posters are organized by country of origin, offering an intriguing glimpse into each region’s unique visual sensibility and sometimes unexpected takes on familiar films. Gathered from the renowned collection of the Posteritati Gallery in New Yorkone of the largest holdings of international film posters in the worldthis volume is the definitive survey of both film and popular graphic art in the modern era.

Black Seas of Infinity: The Best of H.P. Lovecraft [Hardcover]- The book is 536 pgs and contains 19 stories. Also includes the following: Introduction by editor Andrew Wheeler by Lovecraft. Appendix A-History of the Necronomicon by Lovecraft. Appendix B-Notes on Writing Weird Fiction by Lovecraft. Appendix C-Some Notes on Nonentity. Appendix D: Chronology of the Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft

Parallel Tracks: The Railroad and Silent Cinema – In wide-ranging and provocative analyses of dozens of silent films—icons of film history like The General and The Great Train Robbery as well as many that are rarely discussed—Kirby examines how trains and rail travel embodied concepts of spectatorship and mobility grounded in imperialism and the social, sexual, and racial divisions of modern Western culture. This analysis at the same time provides a detailed and largely unexamined history of the railroad in silent filmmaking. Kirby also devotes special attention to the similar ways in which the railroad and cinema structured the roles of men and women. As she demonstrates, these representations have had profound implications for the articulation of gender in our culture, a culture in some sense based on the machine as embodied by the train and the camera/projector. Ultimately, this book reveals the profound and parallel impact that the railroad and the cinema have had on Western society and modern urban industrial culture. Parallel Tracks will be eagerly awaited by those involved in cinema studies, American studies, feminist theory, and the cultural study of modernity.

Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology [Paperback] by Milton J. Davis (Editor), Charles R. Saunders (Editor)- Publication Date: August 7, 2011- Magic. Myth. Warfare. Wonder. Beauty. Bravery. Glamour. Gore. Sorcery. Sensuality. These and many more elements of fantasy await you in the pages of Griots, which brings you the latest stories of the new genre called Sword and Soul. The tales told in Griots are the annals of the Africa that was, as well as Africas that never were, may have been, or should have been. They are the legends of a continent and people emerging from shadows thrust upon them in the past. They are the sagas sung by the modern heirs of the African story-tellers known by many names – including griots. Here, you will meet mighty warriors, seductive sorceresses, ambitious monarchs, and cunning courtesans. Here, you will journey through the vast variety of settings Africa offers, and inspires. Here, you will savor what the writings of the modern-day griots have to offer: journeys through limitless vistas of the imagination, with a touch of color and a taste of soul.

Omens[Hardcover]Richard Gavin- Omens is a collection of twelve haunting tales by Richard Gavin, whose work is reminiscent of the subtle supernatural tales of Robert Aickman, and also of the eerie and unsettling tales of Thomas Ligotti. — I like collections. I think the short story format can, when done well, offer variety and freshness, that can sometimes be hard to sustain over the course of a novel. Some of our most acclaimed writers, those who remain relevant generations on, Poe, Lovecrat, Howard, etc., do so because of their short stories. Because of their ability to in scant words get to the heart of a story and of ourselves. Richard Gavin does that in these stories, that while it has beeen alluded to Aickman or Ligotti, the stories are more visceral than Aickman and more satisfying than Ligotti, are uniquely Richard Gavin.

An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers[Paperback]- This book offers a sneak peak into the wildly creative imaginations of 50 top illustrators, designers and artists. Included are sketchbook pages from R. Crumb, Chris Ware, James Jean, James Kochalka, and many others. In addition, author Danny Gregory has interviewed each artist and shares their thoughts on living the artistic life through journaling. Watch artists – through words and images – record the world they see and craft the world as they want it to be. The pages of An Illustrated Life are sometimes startling, sometimes endearing, but always inspiring. Whether you’re an illustrator, designer, or simply someone searching for inspiration, these pages will open a whole new world to you.

The Green Hornet Chronicles[Paperback]- Introducing the long-awaited return of the Green Hornet and Kato, and their rolling arsenal, the Black Beauty! With his faithful valet Kato, Britt Reid, daring young publisher, matches wits with the Underworld, risking his life so that criminal and racketeers within the law may feel its weight by the sting of the Green Hornet. Featuring stories by the likes of Harlan Ellison, Greg Cox, and Robert Greenberger, The Green Hornet Chronicles is the first anthology featuring all-new, original crime fiction tales of the man who hunts the biggest of all game – public enemies that even the FBI can’t reach! — Harlan Ellison writing a Green Hornet story? Wrap it up, I’ll take it! 🙂

Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes[Hardcover]- Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes is the first-ever original novel set in the continuity of the classic 1968 movie. Conspiracy tells the story of what happened between the scenes of the first film, exploring the adventures of the Astronaut John Landon, Chimpanzee scientists Dr. Milo and Dr. Galen, and Gorilla Security Chief Marcus. Written by Andrew E.C. Gaska, and adapted from a story by Gaska, Rich Handley, Christian Berntsen and Erik Matthews, the book contains illustrations from the top talents in the industry, including: Jim Steranko, Andrew Probert, Timothy Lantz, Joe Jusko, Mark Texeira, Dave Dorman, Chris Scalf, Brian Rood, Chandra Free, Dan Dussault, Ken W. Kelly, Colo, David Hueso, Miki, Matt Busch, Dirk Shearer, Barron Storey, David Seidman, Sanjulian, Chris Moeller, Thomas Scioli, Scott Hampton, Leo Liebleman, Lucas Graciano, Erik Gist, and Patricio Carbajal.– Again not a PLANET OF THE APES devotee, but I’ve heard great things about this series, and the list of artists alone makes it worth a buy.

Wally Wood’s EC Stories Hardcover (Artist Edition, Volume 1) – IDW proudly presents WALLY WOOD’S EC STORIES: ARTIST’S EDITION, collecting more than a dozen complete stories by the great Wally Wood, plus an exceptional cover gallery. Each page is scanned from the original art, same size as drawn, and in full color (in insure the best possible reproduction). Since Wood’s originals were larger than modern size comic art, measuring 12 x 18 inches, plus the paper, this Artist’s Edition will be a GIGANTIC 15 x 22 inches! –

Okay I admit this installment is a bit artbook heavy, but these are what are galvanizing my attention this week. And the funny thing about artbooks is they have the annoying habit of selling out. IDW has released other books in their ‘Artist’s Edition’ series, I have no interest in them. But this… It’s over a 100 pages of Wally Wood’s scifi horror artwork of the 1950s.. at full size. Duh! Can you say no brainer? Outside of buying the original artwork for thousands per page, you’re not likely to see this. It’s an easy contender for art-book or art collectible of the year. The first printing is sold out, but IDW is releasing a new printing this June. At $125 it’s not cheap, but considering the first printing sold out in a matter of weeks and was commanding nearly $300, $125 isn’t looking that expensive. :). You can pre-order here or if you can’t wait till June get a first printing here: Wally Wood’s EC Stories Hardcover (Artist Edition, Volume 1)

Cédric Delsaux: Dark Lens[Hardcover]- In Dark Lens, Delsaux transports Darth Vader and the whole gamut of Star Wars iconography to a post-apocalyptic, urban-suburban landscape of endless parking lots, highrises and wasteland interzones, vacant of ordinary human life. Delsaux’s “mythology of banality” (as he describes it) produces images that are not just funny or preposterous, but also weirdly compelling; in their photographic plausibility they successfully incorporate Star Wars into an everyday reality that we can all recognize, but in ways that make both worlds seem strangely real and absurdly false. Delsaux’s Dark Lens will captivate both film and photobook fans alike with its fantastically bizarre recasting of Star Wars on planet Earth after the apocalypse.–I don’t own a single Star Wars book. I’m not really a Star Wars guy. I like the movies well enough, but that’s as far as it goes. I’m not interested in making a mythology of them. So typically, most merchandising or books etc, I could care less. But this book works as an art book first, which is why I like it.

THE JAMES BOND OMNIBUS by Ian Fleming – James Bond, the world’s most famous secret agent, has thrilled audiences for over fifty years with his globe-trotting adventures. THE JAMES BOND OMNIBUS collects eleven of Ian Fleming’s original daily comic strips for the very first time in a mammoth omnibus edition.

DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL by Derrick Ferguson – The author of The Nuclear Suitcase, Joel Jenkins, describes Dillon and the Legend of the Golden Bell as “James Bond meets Cthulhu” and you’ll want to check out this heady mixture of the spy thriller and horror genres.

THE ARTIST WITHIN by Greg Preston – The culmination of more than fifteen years of photography by renowned photographer Greg Preston, this book is a living history of the men and women who have shaped the imaginations of countless millions of people around the world through their work in the fields of animated cartoons, comic books, comic strips and editorial cartooning. The list of more than two hundred artists includes such luminaries as Frank Miller, Al Hirschfeld, Joe Barbera, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Moebius, Walter and Louise Simonson and many more, all in photographs exclusive and shot expressly for this book.

ATLAS OF HUMAN ANATOMY AND SURGERY by Jean-Marie Le Minor – Anatomically correct We owe a great debt to Jean Baptiste Marc Bourgery (1797?1849) for his Atlas of Anatomy, which was not only a massive event in medical history, but also remains one of the most comprehensive and beautifully illustrated anatomical treatises ever published in any language. In 1830, having received his doctorate in medicine three years prior, Bourgery began work on his magnificent atlas in cooperation with illustrator Nicolas Henri Jacob (1782?1871), a student of the French painter Jacques Louis David. The first volumes were published the following year, but completion of the treatise required nearly two decades of dedication. 15.5 lbs and 19.2″ x 12.6″ x 3.5″.714pgs.

THE SHADOWS GALLERY by L.R. Giles – You’ve been invited to the opening of a grand exhibition, a show unlike any you’ve ever seen. Inside you might find your greatest joy or your worst fear on display. But be warned, it can be difficult to tell which is which when you’re looking through the shadows… Award-winning author L.R. Giles brings forth a collection of tales that take you to the limits of imagination and beyond.

Well gals and guys hope you enjoyed that.

The WEDNESDAY WORDS column is a new blog feature, appearing (you guessed it!) every Wednesday. Come back next week to see which books make the list! And if you see items you’re considering purchasing then, if you are able and would like to support this blog, please utilize the attached links. Your helpful purchases through the links generates much appreciated pennies to keep this blog running. Your feedback and support… just way cool, and way appreciated. Thanks!

Week 1
Week 2

WEDNESDAY WORDS: TOP 20 BOOKS OF THE WEEK #2!

HEROIC TIMES Top 20 Books list is a new weekly installment that ranks the 20 most interesting, intriguing books of the week (old, new, reissues, digital, etc). Contributors represent a variety of genres and sources. Each book includes Title and publisher blurb.

Feel free to leave feedback comments below, or suggest additions or subtractions.

The Complete Slayers: Fast One and the Complete Short Stories of Paul Cain [Hardcover]- This collection features the novel Fast One and the complete short fiction written by Paul Cain for Black Mask and other pulps. This is the first time that many of them have been collected in book format. Lynn Myers and Max Alan Collins have written an outstanding introduction with new research into Cain’s life. – It hurts me to list this, for the simple fact I haven’t bought my 2nd copy yet, and I know you guys are going to jump on this like rabid dogs, and it will be all sold out. Oh well. ‘I am a river to my people’. 🙂

[the first person who contacts me with what film that quote comes from wins a hardcover copy of Valerie Wilson Wesley’s EASIER TO KILL Mystery novel, use the contact form, put ‘contest’ and it won’t get posted, but will come right to me. :)]

Korean Eye: Contemporary Korean Art[Paperback]- The most influential and significant work on Korean contemporary art and artists to date. Following the huge success of Korean Eye: Moon Generation, the first international exhibition of Korean contemporary art, Skira publishes a book featuring sixty of Korea’s most renowned contemporary artists, selected by a curatorial team which consists of a mix of Korean and international art curators. The book also includes background information on the art scene in Korea and references to the major art fairs, symposia, exhibitions, galleries, museums, and events throughout the year.

ECHO NOUVEAU The Art and Life of a Working Girl: 1995-2010[Hardcover]- This book is much more than a collection of fifteen years of artwork by the renowned and award winning art nouveau advertising illustrator, Echo Chernik. In this book, Echo answers the question “What’s it like to be an advertising illustrator?” She addresses the topics of portfolio creation, contract negotiation, and the process involved in becoming a successful commercial artist. As an instructor of Graphic Design and Illustration at Pratt Institute and Skidmore CCI, and one of the industry’s most in-demand advertising illustrators, Echo has designed this book not only as a collection of previously uncompiled illustrations, but also as a conduit for dispensing years of accumulated knowledge and advice to fledgling and hopeful young illustrators. Through a stunning visual tour of published works, Echo divulges hints and tips on how to navigate the business. She also shares often humourous stories about working on individual projects. The Studio of Echo Chernik is the combined efforts of Echo and Lazarus Chernik, both graduates of Pratt institute in New York. Echo’s clients have included over the years: Trek Bicycles, Miller, Camel, Coors, Nascar, Mattel, The Bellagio Casino, Celestial Seasonings Teas, Sears, K-Mart, Arlo Guthrie, The Dave Matthews Band, and many more. Echo has been the recipient of numerous “Best In…” awards, Gold awards, Silver awards, Cover awards and Fan Favorite awards, including HP’s Best In Show. Echo has also been featured in three publications of Spectrum to date. —It was seeing her lavish and lovely, exquisite even, drawings in the annual SPECTRUM art collection that made me interested in this book. She’s a staggering artist.

Omens[Hardcover]Richard Gavin- Omens is a collection of twelve haunting tales by Richard Gavin, whose work is reminiscent of the subtle supernatural tales of Robert Aickman, and also of the eerie and unsettling tales of Thomas Ligotti. — I like collections. I think the short story format can, when done well, offer variety and freshness, that can sometimes be hard to sustain over the course of a novel. Some of our most acclaimed writers, those who remain relevant generations on, Poe, Lovecrat, Howard, etc., do so because of their short stories. Because of their ability to in scant words get to the heart of a story and of ourselves. Richard Gavin does that in these stories, that while it has beeen alluded to Aickman or Ligotti, the stories are more visceral than Aickman and more satisfying than Ligotti, are uniquely Richard Gavin.

Six-Legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War[Paperback]- Beginning in prehistoric times and building toward a near and disturbing future, the reader is taken on a journey of innovation and depravity. Award-winning science writer Jeffrey A. Lockwood begins with the development of “bee bombs” in the ancient world and explores the role of insect-borne disease in changing the course of major battles, ranging from Napoleon’s military campaigns to the trenches of World War I. He explores the horrific programs of insect warfare during World War II: airplanes dropping plague-infested fleas, facilities rearing tens of millions of hungry beetles to destroy crops, and prison camps staffed by doctors testing disease-carrying lice on inmates. The Cold War saw secret government operations involving the mass release of specially developed strains of mosquitoes on an unsuspecting American public–along with the alleged use of disease-carrying and crop-eating pests against North Korea and Cuba. Lockwood reveals how easy it would be to use of insects in warfare and terrorism today: In 1989, domestic ecoterrorists extorted government officials and wreaked economic and political havoc by threatening to release the notorious Medfly into California’s crops. A remarkable story of human ingenuity–and brutality–Six-Legged Soldiers is the first comprehensive look at the use of insects as weapons of war, from ancient times to the present day.

An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers[Paperback]- This book offers a sneak peak into the wildly creative imaginations of 50 top illustrators, designers and artists. Included are sketchbook pages from R. Crumb, Chris Ware, James Jean, James Kochalka, and many others. In addition, author Danny Gregory has interviewed each artist and shares their thoughts on living the artistic life through journaling. Watch artists – through words and images – record the world they see and craft the world as they want it to be. The pages of An Illustrated Life are sometimes startling, sometimes endearing, but always inspiring. Whether you’re an illustrator, designer, or simply someone searching for inspiration, these pages will open a whole new world to you.

The Green Hornet Chronicles[Paperback]- Introducing the long-awaited return of the Green Hornet and Kato, and their rolling arsenal, the Black Beauty! With his faithful valet Kato, Britt Reid, daring young publisher, matches wits with the Underworld, risking his life so that criminal and racketeers within the law may feel its weight by the sting of the Green Hornet. Featuring stories by the likes of Harlan Ellison, Greg Cox, and Robert Greenberger, The Green Hornet Chronicles is the first anthology featuring all-new, original crime fiction tales of the man who hunts the biggest of all game – public enemies that even the FBI can’t reach! — Harlan Ellison writing a Green Hornet story? Wrap it up, I’ll take it! 🙂

Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes[Hardcover]- Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes is the first-ever original novel set in the continuity of the classic 1968 movie. Conspiracy tells the story of what happened between the scenes of the first film, exploring the adventures of the Astronaut John Landon, Chimpanzee scientists Dr. Milo and Dr. Galen, and Gorilla Security Chief Marcus. Written by Andrew E.C. Gaska, and adapted from a story by Gaska, Rich Handley, Christian Berntsen and Erik Matthews, the book contains illustrations from the top talents in the industry, including: Jim Steranko, Andrew Probert, Timothy Lantz, Joe Jusko, Mark Texeira, Dave Dorman, Chris Scalf, Brian Rood, Chandra Free, Dan Dussault, Ken W. Kelly, Colo, David Hueso, Miki, Matt Busch, Dirk Shearer, Barron Storey, David Seidman, Sanjulian, Chris Moeller, Thomas Scioli, Scott Hampton, Leo Liebleman, Lucas Graciano, Erik Gist, and Patricio Carbajal.– Again not a PLANET OF THE APES devotee, but I’ve heard great things about this series, and the list of artists alone makes it worth a buy.

Wally Wood’s EC Stories Hardcover (Artist Edition, Volume 1) – IDW proudly presents WALLY WOOD’S EC STORIES: ARTIST’S EDITION, collecting more than a dozen complete stories by the great Wally Wood, plus an exceptional cover gallery. Each page is scanned from the original art, same size as drawn, and in full color (in insure the best possible reproduction). Since Wood’s originals were larger than modern size comic art, measuring 12 x 18 inches, plus the paper, this Artist’s Edition will be a GIGANTIC 15 x 22 inches! –

Okay I admit this installment is a bit artbook heavy, but these are what are galvanizing my attention this week. And the funny thing about artbooks is they have the annoying habit of selling out. IDW has released other books in their ‘Artist’s Edition’ series, I have no interest in them. But this… It’s over a 100 pages of Wally Wood’s scifi horror artwork of the 1950s.. at full size. Duh! Can you say no brainer? Outside of buying the original artwork for thousands per page, you’re not likely to see this. It’s an easy contender for art-book or art collectible of the year. The first printing is sold out, but IDW is releasing a new printing this June. At $125 it’s not cheap, but considering the first printing sold out in a matter of weeks and was commanding nearly $300, $125 isn’t looking that expensive. :). You can pre-order here or if you can’t wait till June get a first printing here: Wally Wood’s EC Stories Hardcover (Artist Edition, Volume 1)

Super Black: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes– Super Black places the appearance of black superheroes alongside broad and sweeping cultural trends in American politics and pop culture, which reveals how black superheroes are not disposable pop products, but rather a fascinating racial phenomenon through which futuristic expressions and fantastic visions of black racial identity and symbolic political meaning are presented. Adilifu Nama sees the value–and finds new avenues for exploring racial identity–in black superheroes who are often dismissed as sidekicks, imitators of established white heroes, or are accused of having no role outside of blaxploitation film contexts. – I hate the term African American, so not having that in the title predisposes me to like this book. Add discourse on superheroes (how the heck does Marvel and DC trademark that term?) and myth building and I’m there. 🙂

THE JAMES BOND OMNIBUS by Ian Fleming – James Bond, the world’s most famous secret agent, has thrilled audiences for over fifty years with his globe-trotting adventures. THE JAMES BOND OMNIBUS collects eleven of Ian Fleming’s original daily comic strips for the very first time in a mammoth omnibus edition.

DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL by Derrick Ferguson – The author of The Nuclear Suitcase, Joel Jenkins, describes Dillon and the Legend of the Golden Bell as “James Bond meets Cthulhu” and you’ll want to check out this heady mixture of the spy thriller and horror genres.

THE ARTIST WITHIN by Greg Preston – The culmination of more than fifteen years of photography by renowned photographer Greg Preston, this book is a living history of the men and women who have shaped the imaginations of countless millions of people around the world through their work in the fields of animated cartoons, comic books, comic strips and editorial cartooning. The list of more than two hundred artists includes such luminaries as Frank Miller, Al Hirschfeld, Joe Barbera, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Moebius, Walter and Louise Simonson and many more, all in photographs exclusive and shot expressly for this book.

RADIOACTIVE:MARIE & PIERRE CURIE: A TALE OF LOVE AND FALLOUT – In the century since the Curies began their work, we’ve struggled with nuclear weapons proliferation, debated the role of radiation in medical treatment, and pondered nuclear energy as a solution to climate change. In Radioactive, Lauren Redniss links these contentious questions to a love story in 19th Century Paris…Whether young or old, scientific novice or expert, no one will fail to be moved by Lauren Redniss’s eerie and wondrous evocation of one of history’s most intriguing figures.

DREAMSCAPES 2010: CONTEMPORARY IMAGINARY REALISM – Publication Date: April 28, 2011 | ISBN-10: 9490668028 | ISBN-13: 978-9490668020 The greatest practitioners of imaginary realism are presented in this lavish overview of dreamy, surreal and beguiling paintings and sculptures! This large-scale, beautifully produced book features artwork by modern favorites like Michael Parkes, Daniel Merriam, Kinuko Y. Craft and many others. Vibrant paintings feature psychedelic dreamscapes populated by fairies, nymphs, gods and golems. Loaded with symbolism and often jarringly original, this showcases the best fantasy artists working today.Buy Direct from Publisher Here.

ATLAS OF HUMAN ANATOMY AND SURGERY by Jean-Marie Le Minor – Anatomically correct We owe a great debt to Jean Baptiste Marc Bourgery (1797?1849) for his Atlas of Anatomy, which was not only a massive event in medical history, but also remains one of the most comprehensive and beautifully illustrated anatomical treatises ever published in any language. In 1830, having received his doctorate in medicine three years prior, Bourgery began work on his magnificent atlas in cooperation with illustrator Nicolas Henri Jacob (1782?1871), a student of the French painter Jacques Louis David. The first volumes were published the following year, but completion of the treatise required nearly two decades of dedication. 15.5 lbs and 19.2″ x 12.6″ x 3.5″.714pgs.

FULL DARK, NO STARS by Stephen King – Like Different Seasons and Four Past Midnight, which generated such enduring films as The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me, Full Dark, No Stars proves Stephen King a master of the long story form.

THE SHADOWS GALLERY by L.R. Giles – You’ve been invited to the opening of a grand exhibition, a show unlike any you’ve ever seen. Inside you might find your greatest joy or your worst fear on display. But be warned, it can be difficult to tell which is which when you’re looking through the shadows… Award-winning author L.R. Giles brings forth a collection of tales that take you to the limits of imagination and beyond.

SHERLOCK HOLMES CONSULTING DETECTIVE Vol III – The Baker Street Sleuth returns in five new original mysteries told in the classic style of Arthur Conan Doyle. Here are tales by Aaron Smith, Ian Watson, Joshua Reynolds and Andrew Smith guaranteed entertain any mystery fan. Throw on your deerstalker cap and load your pistols, there’s murder and mayhem about and the game is afoot once more.

Cédric Delsaux: Dark Lens[Hardcover]- In Dark Lens, Delsaux transports Darth Vader and the whole gamut of Star Wars iconography to a post-apocalyptic, urban-suburban landscape of endless parking lots, highrises and wasteland interzones, vacant of ordinary human life. Delsaux’s “mythology of banality” (as he describes it) produces images that are not just funny or preposterous, but also weirdly compelling; in their photographic plausibility they successfully incorporate Star Wars into an everyday reality that we can all recognize, but in ways that make both worlds seem strangely real and absurdly false. Delsaux’s Dark Lens will captivate both film and photobook fans alike with its fantastically bizarre recasting of Star Wars on planet Earth after the apocalypse.–I don’t own a single Star Wars book. I’m not really a Star Wars guy. I like the movies well enough, but that’s as far as it goes. I’m not interested in making a mythology of them. So typically, most merchandising or books etc, I could care less. But this book works as an art book first, which is why I like it.

Well gals and guys hope you enjoyed that.

The WEDNESDAY WORDS column is a brand new blog feature, appearing (you guessed it!) every Wednesday. Come back next week to see which books make the list! And if you see items you’re considering purchasing then, if you are able and would like to support this blog, please utilize the attached links. Your helpful purchases through the links generates much appreciated pennies to keep this blog running. Your feedback and support… just way cool, and way appreciated. Thanks!

Week 1

Frell! Frell! Frell! Thoughts on Season I – III of FARSCAPE Pt 2 of 2!

I just finished watching the season finale of FARSCAPE Season III, the episode entitled DOG WITH TWO BONES. In many ways the episode starts off with everything that has been wrong with season III, the meandering, unfocused, and often forced nature.

That said that ending of this particular episode is absolutely FANTASTIC! Much like the first season the creators draft this finale, not knowing if there would be a 4th season, and what an audacious, ballsy, and just absolutely merciless cliffhanger to end the season, and arguably the series on. Absolutely brilliant ending, that makes you shout at your tv!

Can you imagine how this hit people seeing this cliffhanger and not knowing if there would be a 4th season. Just takes a huge amount of gall, and balls to do something like that. And it helps an otherwise lackluster season go out with the audience definitely wanting more.

I just wish the writing could be strong throughout the episodes and the seasons, rather than just being impressive for cliffhangers.

But thankfully I have the whole series on DVD, so season 4 here I come!!

DEAL OF THE DAY: Secret Agent AKA Danger Man: The Complete Collection

I only offer as Deals of the Day items I myself have purchased and think are great!

To that end the complete 86 episode, 3240 minute, Patrick McGoohan series is available at over 60% off! Regularly a $100 set.

Called one of television’s best and most innovative and groundbreaking spy shows, having seen the first two volumes… I have to agree. It’s brilliant!

At the price, it’s a no-brainer. Judge for yourself.

“Patrick McGoohan is John Drake – aka – DANGER MAN. Set in the deadly world of international espionage & intrigue, Drake is an agent who jousts with danger before a backdrop of diverse global locations. He is a man who takes calculated risks, but dedicated to his ideals. Aided with unique gadgets & an ingenious mind, Drake does not simply attract danger, he thrives on it.

ITC’s DANGER MAN launched Patrick McGoohan on the road to success, propelling the actor to international stardom, becoming the highest paid actor on television. Since its original broadcast, DANGER MAN has achieved cult status & is considered one of the coolest action adventure series’ of the 60’s, predating the James Bond films and lead to Partick McGoohan creating THE PRISONER.”
–Umbrella Man Entertainment

Secret Agent AKA Danger Man: The Complete Collection (SLIMLINE)

STAR TREK OF GODS AND MEN Premiere!

29 May 2011 – Article has been updated with some additional info. You’ll find it in the Addendum section at the bottom of this page.

STAR TREK:OF GODS AND MEN

It is really easy these days to be cynical about so much. When so much of what we see, or hear, or do is… toward venal ends, and suspect goals. So few things these days, seem to be done… for the love of doing it.

STAR TREK:OF GODS AND MEN is one of those few.

A fan film, seemingly to end all fan films, I became aware of the existence of this three part web film through a British podcast called GEEK SYNDICATE. Hosted by the Nuge and Dave, the Internet based audio-show covers all things pop-culture (If a newbie to the show start with episode 89, as they take on Buzz Aldrin… hilarious and brilliant!). From comics, to tv, to movies, to technology, to happenings on the web. One of the happenings it praised was… OF GODS AND MEN.

So working my way to the STOGAM site , I took a gander at the first 2 parts, and was well impressed. A fan film, but directed by a major talent and starring major talent?? The cast read like a who’s who of Star Trek lore.
And prior to actually seeing the third part I received notice of this big screen screening of the whole film with stars in Attendance. I signed up immediately.

They had me at big screen.

So I went, I saw, and I have to say… I really enjoyed it.

The Fine Arts Theater where the screening occurred, is conveniently located in Beverly Hills. With available residential/street parking in walking distance. Entering the place after being checked off on the VIP list, I found a packed theater lobby.

I immediately saw the still stunning Nichelle Nichols, surrounded by fans and photographers, and in another section Walter Koenig also surrounded by fans and well wishers. I moved out of the traffic area to the edge of the lobby with other gagglers, and I people watched a bit. There were more than enough people clamoring for the stars attention, I didn’t want to add to that number, so went in and found a decent seat, and put my reporters hat on. I’m being metaphoric there.

The Fine Arts Theater, is a throwback to the one screen theater of yesteryear. The interior garishly decorated, you get a sense of the place being used for school plays, or dance programs, and occasionally for films. It’s a lived in, familiar feel to the interior. Like School Auditoriums of not that long ago.

I watched, and listened. Two rows in front of me the cast and crew of the film began to assemble. Being still new to LA, there’s still an oddness for me of seeing stars in person. I grew up far from these tinseled lights, and while I don’t get star-struck, there is this moment of surrealism.

I would think, for a star as well, there must always be something slightly… unreal and surreal, about you watching yourself in a film, while you are also being watched by fans. Both of “you” being watched by fans. The you of the screen and the you in person.

There’s something both paradoxical there and endearing, that plays out unspoken, and typically uncommented on, but plays out never the less. A little bit of movie magic, that is a tiny throwback to ancient man gathering over an open flame, to share stories of wonder.

Some of the other stars in attendance were Garrett Wang, Gary Graham, Crystal Allen, William Wellman Jr, and of course the ravishing Chase Masterson (The thing about Ms. Masterson is she’s so stunning, people tend to overlook the fact that she’s a fantastic actress. Scenes work, that otherwise wouldn’t, because she’s always processing, she’s always projecting, so when she has a close-up there’s more than a pretty face there, you get the sense of depth, of a backstory, of history.. which is hard to do with just your eyes, just a look, or a smirk, or a nod, or a phrase. In the old days we would call that, star power. Whatever you call it, she pulls it off).

But to be fair, time has been kind to all the women of Star Trek, or perhaps the casting directors are supremely smart to pick women who don’t age like the rest of us mere mortals. Nichelle Nichols, Grace Lee Whitney, Crystal Allen, Chase Masterson… I’m convinced there is a painting of these women in a Paramount closet somewhere, that is getting older, while these women continue to just get better looking.

Now moving away from the beauties of Star trek and allusions to Dorian Gray, let’s discuss a little about the crowd.

An eclectic cross section of people, with only one person in costume… it didn’t seem to be the stereotypical trekker crowd. Having never been to a Trek Convention I could be talking out of turn, but I got the vibe the people there were still the audience for it. Some 20 somethings, lots of 30 and up somethings, it was people who had grown up watching the show in syndication… but not con-goers, or rabid fans, but people who had quietly grown up on this pioneering show… and people who quietly… missed it.

While sampling the crowd, I noticed Walter Koening, sitting in the back of the theater, an old trick of pros, so they can gauge the audience reaction, and potentially make a quick departure should that be necessary.

But it was obvious that would not be necessary with this crowd. To the right of me sat a casting agent, who worked on some of the Trek properties. To the left of me sat Karen Hart, her husband Mike (I’m so bad at names, that if I got that right, I’ll be amazed) and their friend, whose name I would definitely get wrong if I tried to remember it.

Karen turned out to be a composer/performer of some note, as well as being pretty darn fascinating. For more on Mrs. Hart’s work, go here… http://www.karenhartmusic.com/home.html. We spoke a little about how we ended up here, and somewhere along the way names like Cash, and Buckley and Seal came up.

And we worked our talk back to Sci-fi, notably her not being enamored of most recent television, particularly science fiction. Though she was a fan of the original series. That and the cajoling of her husband brought her here tonight.

I think that’s what most of the crowd shared, not her husband cajoling them 🙂 , but rather a disappointment with current science fiction, particularly as it relates to the 40 year old franchise of Star Trek.

The Trek TV shows have gotten for the most part progressively worse (If I had to rate them they would go STAR TREK, DS9, THE NEXT GENERATION, and following distantly VOYAGER and ENTERPRISE— send hate mail to…), and the films have likewise lost their way.

Which brings us to the reason we were all assembled in that theater… OF GODS AND MEN.

Before I get into my review of the film, I have to mention the 2 minute rap that occurred to open the proceedings.
I still find it laugh out loud funny, that someone thought the best way to warm up a crowd of sci-fi fans, was with a rapper. MC something something. It was inexplicable, but thankfully short. Which was followed by the producer, Sky Douglas Conway, introducing the film and the stars.

Okay onto the film. The lights dim… and away we go.

The film was made for the web, so blown-up of course it’s a little pixelated, it’s not 35mm film we’re watching here, but that said it was a perfectly acceptable picture.

Avoiding a play by play, let me summarize that this no-budget tale of a powerful foe from yesteryear seeking vengeance from a dead Captain Kirk, is better than the majority of multi-million dollar star trek films Paramount has done. Exceptionally well directed by actor/director Tim Russ. All the beats are note perfect. Hey, somebody give this guy a big screen film to direct!

Add to that a really FANTASTIC script, and the flick earns its praise. It is well performed by everyone, but Nichols, Koening, and Alan Ruck bring the money. Nichele and Walter have proven countless times their ability to command the screen, and this film is no exception.

The surprise for me was Alan Ruck. Alan Ruck has been working in movies and tv for over 20years, in everything from FERRIS BULLER to YOUNG GUNS to STAR TREK, but this is the first time he’s gotten to be a hero and a badass, and I think he relishes it, because he gives a nuanced and commanding performance. I personally think it is one of his best performances.

That said everyone is great. The film is witty, action packed, suspenseful, and sexy.

The producer and director, Sky Douglass Conway and Tim Russ, should be applauded for getting this great cast together, and making this fiction a reality. However it is not for the casual or new fan, I mean the film is deep in the original Star Trek lore, and for maximum enjoyment and understanding you should watch or re-watch two episodes from the original Star Trek series. CHARLIE X from Feb 1966, the 2nd episode of Star Trek ever aired and WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE, the 3rd episode of the first season.

With those two episodes under your belt, you watch this film and you can really appreciate the brilliance of the script.
Writers Ethan H. Caulk and Jack Trevino who bought cut their teeth on DS9 (the best written of all the Star Trek spin-offs) and producer/writer Sky Douglass Conway, based on the quality of this film, should officially be handed the keys to the Star Trek toys.

And talking about good writing, looking back at the 1st season of Star Trek to research this article, I realize just how impressive and well written that first season was. It really was “boldly going where no one had gone before”. And seemingly that is something TV and film doesn’t do too much anymore.

Which makes STOGAM all the more note-worthy.

Now a little bit on casting, particularly two notable casting choices:

Daaman J. Krall stars as Gary Mitchell (Krall does a good job, but too bad they couldn’t get the original actor Gary Lockwood to reprise his part. The script makes a big point of building to the reveal of the bad guy, and it’s a little meaningless because you don’t know who Krall is supposed to be. It’s not till the expository dialog by Nichelle that you figure out who this guy is supposed to be. However if the reveal had shown Gary Lockwood that would probably have worked much better)

William Wellman Jr stars as Charlie X, a role originated by Robert Walker Jr. Robert Walker jr. was (and as of this writing “is”) the spitting image of his father, a famous actor who starred with Spenser Tracy, among others. So While Wellman did a great job, it would have been nice if Robert Walker Jr. could have reprized his role. (Oh well, maybe in the remake :))

Those substitutions aside, the actors did admirable jobs… and it comes across.

I mean the film is of course captive to its budget, but that acknowledged… it really is, in the face of its limitations, a fantastic achievement. And should do two things 1/ motivate would be filmmakers to just do it, and not use lack of funds as an excuse and 2/ spur Paramount to toss money at all of these guys to remake a big screen, big budget, 35mm version of this… or just give these guys money to make another Star Trek film or series.

Those two things would happen in a sensible world.

The first one has and is happening. The film motivates everyone who sees it. As far as the 2nd one, unfortunately Paramount has repeatedly proven themselves pretty blind, deaf, and dumb to quality… but who knows… maybe they’ll surprise me this time.

All in all a great event, great film, and a great crowd. And the after movie Q and A was equally brilliant.

Darn it! I have to start carrying my camera, or recorder… if I had I could have posted the Q and A for you guys. I’ll remember for next time.

There are a few more big screen showings planned, so check the STOGAM site (www.startrekofgodsandmen.com) to stay informed. And if you enjoy the film as much as I did, consider purchasing the making of DVD. It looks well worth it.

There are only three Star Trek movies I think enough of to own… WRATH OF KAHN, UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY, and FIRST CONTACT.

OF GODS AND MEN will be the fourth.

**********************

Addendum: 29 May 2011 – This review was originally written before the JJ Abrams STAR TREK reboot. So just wanted to add a few comments.

I would add the JJ Abrams STAR TREK to the list as well. Also Paramount is a bit of a mess when it comes to triple and quadruple dipping and that makes determining what version… is the best DVD or Bluray for you to own, a bit difficult and time-consuming. Taking that into consideration, I’ve done some of that research/homework for you, to hopefully help make that decision making process… easier.

First, Avoid the 2009 Blu-ray versions of any of the earlier Star trek films (WRATH OF KAHN, UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY, and FIRST CONTACT), and stick to the 2disk DVD Directors cuts. Links are below. You just get more bang for your buck, and Paramount in a year or two will release Director’s cut version of the movies on Blu-ray, with better mastering.

However I would recommend the Star Trek Original Series Complete Seasons 1-3. Paramount did an okay job on those Blu-Rays, with exception of cheap packaging, and no labeling on the disks.

The 2004 Star Trek Original Series Complete Seasons 1-3 DVDs are better packaged than the blu-rays, and come with labeled disks, but the Bluray’s offer you remastered images and the option between viewing with CGI effects or original effects.

Pretty cool. So not perfect, but you gain more than you lose, by going with the Blurays over the DVDs for Star Trek Original Series. Also the very reason the 40 year old series could be processed into HD Blu-rays was because it was shot and mastered on film, the same as any movie, As opposed to many shows of the 80s and 90s, including DS9 and TNG, that were cheaply mastered and processed on video, meaning the original masters are not on film, so no true HD is possible with these shows, they top off at 480i.

For a pretty absorbing read on why you wont be seeing true HD Blurays of DS9 anytime soon go here and here.

So bottom line the existing DVDs of DS9 are the best you’re going to see of the series for the immediate future, if not the indefinite future. At the very least until technology goes up, and the cost goes down. So, below I have put a link to the DS9 set, as well.

For the JJ Abrams STAR TREK they did a good job on that Bluray, so would suggest the 3Disk Bluray. Though only 2 of those 3 disks I consider worthwhile.

Well that’s my suggestions and links are below.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – The Director’s Cut (Two-Disc Special Collector’s Edition)

Star Trek – First Contact (Two-Disc Special Collector’s Edition)

Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country (Two-Disc Special Collector’s Edition)

Star Trek (Three-Disc Edition) [Blu-ray]

Star Trek: The Original Series – Seasons 1-3 [Blu-ray]

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Complete Series

Hope This helps.

End of Addendum 29 May 2011

*****************************

Other Fan Films you may want to check out, and that I recommend are:

THE GREEN GOBLIN’S LAST STAND (Created long before there was ever a Sam Raimi Spiderman– and in many ways looks like it influenced that movie)

BATMAN DEAD END- 10 minute short by Director Sandy Collora, done way before the Nolan Batman films. I am not a fan of the Nolan Batman films, I hated the first one and thought the 2nd one was serviceable but flawed. I don’t think Nolan’s interpretation of Batman works, which is why the Nolan movies are more interesting when his Batman is not on the screen. Nolan just doesn’t get Batman. Collora in this 10 minute short gave Hollywood a blue-print on how to do Batman right. Unfortunately they ignored it and we get Nolan’s transformer/lego style Batman instead. See previous reviews if you want to hear more of my DARK KNIGHT bashing (oh I don’t really bash it!—much 🙂 stop crying!). Oh and it’s worth mentioning this stars Andrew Koenig, Walter’s son, in a great turn as the Joker.

Okay kiddies, till next time, in the words of Don Cornelius… “Peace, Love and…. SOUL!”