THE TROOP- “The Troop scared the hell out of me, and I couldn’t put it down. This is old school horror at its best. Not for the faint-hearted, but for the rest of us sick puppies, it’s a perfect gift for a winter.” –Stephen King. Stephen King is asked to give a lot of blurbs, and he gives a lot of cover blurbs, not all of which I agree with. This quote… I agree with. Short, choppy chapters makes the book easy and compulsive reading. Strongly Recommended.The Troop
DARK COMPANIONS- A simply essential 2012 compilation of the best horror stories of one of the best writers of the horrific and strange… Ramsey Campbell. Not all the stories are homeruns, NAPIER COURT in particular is a disappointment, but the successes of this collection outweigh the false notes. Stories such as MACKINTOSH WILLY, DOWN THERE, HEADING HOME,PROXY,OUT OF COPYRIGHT, THE INVOCATION, THE PATTERN, THE COMPANION are well worth the price of admission.
MURDER AT CAPE THREE POINTS (A DARKO DAWSON Mystery)- Kwi Quartey’s Ghana based mystery is a welcome change from the Swedish and Norwegian Noir that’s arguably over saturated the American market.Murder at Cape Three Points (A Darko Dawson Mystery)
TRASHED – by Derf Backderf is a biting, quirky, slightly deranged and beautifully drawn graphic novel, about a slacker who stumbles into the job of trashman. Trashed
BLACK COOL ONE THOUSAND STREAMS OF BLACKNESS -a collection of disarming essays about the varied experiences and definitions of Blackness. Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness
BEAT THE REAPER – Josh Bazell’s debut novel from 2009 is one of the most brilliant and enjoyable things I read in 2015. Alternatitely funny, and action packed. Beat the Reaper: A Novel
HOW BEST TO AVOID DYING – Owen Egerton’s story collection is an assortment of odd, weird, and deeply strange tales of characters at the far edges of precarious places. Delightly disturbed stories. How Best To Avoid Dying: Stories
WATSON AND HOLMES A STUDY IN BLACK – A graphic novel riff on Doyle’s Holmes and Watson by Karl Boilers, Brandon Perlow, Paul Mendoza, Rick Leonardi, and Larry Stroman. Very entertaining pastiche to the Holmes mythos. Watson and Holmes – A Study In Black
HALF AN INCH OF WATER – 2015 saw the release of this long awaited follow-up short story collection by prolific and superlative writer Percival Everett. Half an Inch of Water: Stories
FOREIGN GODS- Nigerian born writer Okey Ndibe’s FOREIGN GODS, INC quickly found a place among my must owns of 2015. Foreign Gods, Inc.
FOREIGN GODS- Nigerian born writer Okey Ndibe’s FOREIGN GODS, INC quickly found a place among my must owns of 2015. Foreign Gods, Inc.
Currently Reading: NELSON by Rob Davis and Woodrow Phoenix
Last week I was hunting for new podcasts to add to my subscriptions for next year, and one I tried (and subsequently added) was MAKE IT THEN TELL EVERYONE. They had a podcast interview with a writer/artist/cartoonist Woodrow Phoenix, who I unfortunately was not familiar with.
But listening to the podcasts, and viewing snippets of his work online, I quickly ascertained that this was a creator to become familiar with asap.
I immediately ordered his acclaimed books NELSON and RUMBLE STRIP.
NELSON just came in and, yep I was right to rush out and purchase it. A bit of an experimental graphic novel, as 54 writers come together to tell something of a jam-piece of a story.
The back cover describes it as such :
“NELSON is a 250-page collaboration between 54 of the UK’s most exciting comic creators. It is an unprecedented experiment to create one complete story [from 54 distinct visions] -a collective graphic novel.”
Each artists gets to illustrate one day, one piece of a day in a character’s life, then it jumps one year, and the next writer has to pick up the threads of these characters. As it goes on through all 54 artists, 54 years of a person’s life are revealed.
It’s a genius idea by Editor Rob Davis, and turned from idea to reality by co-editors Woodrow Phoenix and Rob Davis. As someone who grew up loving CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE style books as well as the WILDCARDS style books, NELSON’s experimental and experiential nature plays to my loves and my joys. A few pages in and I’m loving it.
Get your copy here:
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
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!
- RIPPER STREET Season 1,2
- AGENTS OF SHIELD Seasons 1, 2
- HOUSE OF CARDS Season 1,2,3
- STRIKEBACK Seasons 1,2
- IRON CHEF AMERICA
- TOP GEAR
- PENNY DREADFUL
- HEMLOCK GROVE
- AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM (Season 2 of the series works in a way that Season 1 and 3 does not)
- PERSON OF INTEREST SEASONS 1-3 (The mid season break, episodes 9 to 11 of Season 3 are great television, with the preamble to Episode 11 being one of the great moments of tv I saw this year. On Par with BABYLON 5’s NO HIDING PLACE and HELL AND BACK’s )
- GRIMM SEASONS 1-4
- JESSICA JONES
- THE PLAYER
- BLACK LIST
- THE GOOD WIFE
- ALONE (This History Channel story is one of the few ‘Reality’ shows that I considered must watch TV in 2015)
- KEY AND PEELE
- CLONE WARS
- SMALL SPACE BIG STYLE
- SHARK TANK
- SUPERNATURAL SEASONS 1-10 (Seasons 6 -onward, lose steam and are in the solidly Don’t Care for Pile)
- TRANSPORTER Season 1 -2
- MARY JANE
- HELL ON WHEELS (1ST 3 seasons are great, 4th season isnt)
- DOOMSDAY PREPPERS
- STAN LEE’S SUPER HUMANS
- AMERICA’S GOT TALENT
DIDNT CARE FOR
- JUSTIFIED – I have tried to like this show, but it just fails to captivate in any way
A painting is always quite moral when it is tragic and it gives the horror of the things it depicts.
– Barbey d’Aurevilly, opening caption, Les Diaboliques
- VIKINGS– The above quote sums up my moralistic issue with shows like VIKINGS and HANNIBAL and DEXTER that want to retrofit horrendous monsters as heroes. The VIKINGS sent drugged to the gills raiding parties to rape and pillage and impale and enslave anything they found. They would bash childrens heads againt walls, so they were very not nice people. So to have a show that white washes this and paints the vikings as in touch with their feelings, profeminist superteam good guys, is an issue for me. Akin to having a show called NAZIS, that paints them as a band of people you should root for. The filmmaker in doing this thing, this prettifying of monsters, fail’s the test of Barbey’s definition of morality… they fail to give the horror of the things it depicts.
- HANNIBAL – I love Michael Mann’s MANHUNTER, it is the first and best of the many cinematic Thomas Harris adaptations, and the rare movie that transcends the book. SILENCE OF THE LAMBS was a worthy follow-up, but the films went down hill from there. And now we have the TV show. Like Vikings it is visually stunning, but like Vikings it is morally untenable.
Shows in GREEN I watched via Netflix, in Orange AMAZON PRIME and in Purple via Free Digital Antenna or applicable free Roku Channel!
Favorite artists discovered in 2015!
With 2015 about to wrap up my mind goes to some of the illustrators/artist that really made my radar in 2015.
Two that I met at a regional art show and who I have bought prints off of, whose work continues here at the end of the year to captivate me; are: Edwin Lester and Phil Kutno.
You can see for yourself what grabs me about each artist’s work. The below images are copyright the respective artists, and if you like what you see I highly recommend you visit the artists respective sites, tell them this blog sent you, and grab yourself some affordable and stunning prints or originals. Now onto the artists:
WAY OF THE DRAGON is arguably Bruce Lee’s best film, in that it was the film he had the most control over; wearing hat of writer, director, and star. A circumstance which is not always a good thing, actors not always being the best gauge of their own interests or image. However Bruce Lee from the start was more than an actor, he was the message not merely the messenger, and as such was uniquely suited to define himself for others; and he does that expertly in this film.
The opening of WAY OF THE DRAGON (also sometimes referred to as RETURN OF THE DRAGON, confusing in that this came before ENTER THE DRAGON, not after) is pure Charlie Chaplin, Lee showing his penchant for physical comedy, and his pure charisma. And seeing Bruce Lee against the backdrop of the West that he always found both tantalizing and duplicitous, is a joy.
What surprises, revisiting this film after some absence, is how young he is.
You forget that these icons like Hendricks, and Ali, and Bruce Lee that shaped so much of the American consciousness and whose shadows continue to dominate so much of what we consider best of our cultural zeitgeist and worth aspiring to, at the height of their power… were basically just kids who believed the world could be changed… and changed it.
Is WAY OF THE DRAGON the greatest martial arts movie of all time? Probably not, but it is a great movie, and watching a Bruce Lee untouched by age or death, with his whole life ahead of him, in a sumptuously photographed, and largely fun film, is a little like visiting one last time… with a good friend.
There is something bitter and sweet about it.
And the final fight with Chuck Norris is justifiably classic. And like the film itself it is more in the nuances around the fight, the essential touches Lee brought to it, the philosophy of Chinese Boxing, the stretching, the inter-cutting of the kitten, all deliver something more than the spectacle of violence, but a way through violence… to find some peace on the other side of it.
A film that not just every Martial Arts fan should have in their collection, but a film any fan of cinema should proudly have on their curio shelf, as the work of 1970s art that it is.
And also the Blu-Ray is a must have for the audio commentaries, documentaries and pristine picture.
I like streaming for the chance to be exposed to a wealth of movies, but quality (when it is coming from a middle man such as a streaming or cable service) is always subject to bandwidth and signal concerns of the moment. The Bluray, failing damage, will give you the best picture in all moments… consistently.
So for movies like WAY OF THE DRAGON, that you intend to come back to again and again… Blu-Ray is the way to go.
Here’s the link:
Highly Recommended! And if a fan of this film I would direct you to the 1970s comic book series it inspired, Marvel Comic’s MASTER OF KUNG FU. Specifically issues 38 and 39 that form an excellent and not to be missed two part story, that any fan of Bruce Lee should check out.
And a book covering the career of one of the influential artists of the 70s and Bruce Lee fan, Paul Gulacy:
If you like this blog, and specifically this post, show your support by using the links above. You get great items, and this blog gets a few pennies. A win all the way around. :) Thanks for looking and till next time… make someone smile today.
If, like me, you’ve been interested on Chuck Norris’ take on Bruce Lee well here’s a Norris quote about meeting Lee in New York in 1965, when Lee was working on the GREEN HORNET series. The quote is courtesy of the site BRUCE LEE DAILY:
“I said that I was really tired and that I should get to the hotel because I had an early flight the next day at nine o’clock. Bruce said he was staying at the same hotel so we decided to go over together. So we were taking a cab to the hotel, and now we are really getting involved in our conversation. We get to the hotel and are going up in the lift to the floor that Bruce’s room is on.
We both step out into the hallway – it was about twelve o’clock by now – the next thing I know I’ve got my jacket off and we are working out in the hallway.
I swear to you that the next time I looked at my watch it was seven o’clock the next morning. I looked at my watch again, I could not believe it, I had a flight in two hours back to Los Angeles and Bruce said that when we got back we should work out together, which we did for three years.
Then Bruce left for Hong Kong to pursue his movie career. I didn’t hear anything from him for about two years, then one day I got a call from Hong Kong; it was Bruce, he said: “I’ve just finished two movies over here, they were really successful”. He said he wanted to do a fight scene that everyone would remember and he said I want you to be my opponent and he was going to call the film Way of the Dragon.”
Read the full article Here!