Fred Patten Reviews City in the Desert

CityintheDesertvol1-620x939

 

City in the Desert. Volume 1, The Monster Problem.
Author: Moro Rogers
Publisher: Archaia Entertainment
ISBN-10: 1-9363-9355-7
ISBN-13: 978-1-9363-9355-8

This 142-page hardcover graphic novel from Archaia Entertainment is an exotic adventure set in a fantasy desert land. Irro Zaiang-Marda and his assistant Hari are professional monster hunters based in the desert oasis city-state of Kevala. Irro is an apparently mature man, while Hari looks like an adolescent girl with a long prehensile tail and sharp claws. They patrol the desert around Kevala, killing the zaiang/monsters that attack the caravans.

“There used to be a lot more of us”, says Irro about the monster hunters. “We rode with the caravans, protecting them from attack. We saw the world. Then the monster attacks became more frequent. Whole caravans were lost. And our fellow men refused to go beyond their city walls.” (p. 44)

When the acolytes of a religious sect, the Way of Sacred Peace, led by Darga, come to Kevala offering to rid the land of monsters for good by capping the city’s central Spirit Fountain, Irro and the High Priest of their god, Iriaze, are the only ones distrustful enough to vote against giving it a try. It seems to work; the monsters in the desert sicken and die. The Way of the Sacred Peace is acclaimed, and Irro and Hari are reduced to taking on odd jobs. But soon Irro notices that everyone else in Kevala is losing their memories and falling into a deep sleep, except Darga and his followers. After an unsuccessful confrontation with Darga, Irro and Hari flee Kevala into a temporary exile. The story will continue in Volume 2, The Serpent Crown.

City in the Desert, Volume 1, the first graphic novel by Moro Rogers, is a fascinating fantasy-mystery recommended by the publisher for “teen plus readers”. In these days of full-color, hyper-realistic costumed superhero comic books, it is refreshing to see Rogers’ individualistic sketchy monochromatic (black-&-white fine-pen outlines against tinted one-color pages) artwork. The background religion of the god Iriaze is intriguing; the mystery of what Darga’s cult really is will keep the reader turning pages; the personal relationship of Irro and Hari is sweet (she obviously has a crush on him, while he considers himself a foster father/guardian); and Rogers’ semi-abstract artwork is visually pleasing and, hopefully, an inspiration to would-be artists whose talents are not up to the splendor of an Alex Ross or a Brian Bolland. The story includes subtle clues to background information; for example, Irro’s surname of Zaiang-Marda presumably literally means monster-hunter. City in the Desert. Volume 1, The Monster Problem, is definitely recommended for adolescent readers.

Disclosure:  A free copy of this book was furnished by the publisher for review, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.

Fred Patten Reviews Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration. The Stories – The Movies – The Art.

 

Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration. The Stories – The Movies – The Art.
Author: Scott Tracy Griffin. Introduction by Ron Ely.
Publisher: Titan Books
ISBN-10: 1-7811-6169-0
ISBN-13: 978-1-7811-6169-2

Tarzan of the Apes, the first Tarzan novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, was published in October 1912. Titan Books has won the authorization and full cooperation of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. to publish this only official commemorative visual history of Tarzan.

This is an extremely imposing tome. It is a tall, thick 10.2 x 13.1 inches, weighing 5 pounds; 320 pages in full color (except for the numerous period photographs, which are in black & white). It is written by Scott Tracy Griffin, a leading expert and consultant on documentaries about Tarzan and Burroughs for almost twenty years. The introduction is by Ron Ely, who portrayed the ape man in 57 one-hour NBC TV episodes from 1966 to 1968.

Aside from short biographical chapters on Burroughs’ early years (pages 10-18) and his later years (pages 312-315), the book concentrates mostly on his 24 Tarzan novels and other books (pages 20-183), the Tarzan motion pictures (pages 224-265), Tarzan in other entertainment media (television and radio series, and the stage), and dramatizations for children. Shorter chapters of a few pages each cover Tarzana (from its origin as Burroughs’ large farm/ranch in the 1920s to its status as a residential suburb (population 26,000+) of Los Angeles today) and the ERB, Inc. office built in 1927 by Burroughs where he worked; Tarzan collectibles for children such as lunchboxes; authorized Tarzan books by other authors; foreign editions; authorized Tarzan fanzines and fan publications; and the major fan club, the Burroughs Bibliophiles, and its annual “Dum-Dum” conventions.

The meat of the book is in its coverage of Burroughs’ books and the Tarzan motion pictures. A Titan Books press release describes this as “…a visual treasure trove of classic comic strip, cover art, movie stills, and rare ephemera”. The movie stills are in the forty pages on the Tarzan movies; the rest is in the 160 pages devoted to the 24 Tarzan novels and Burroughs’ other books. This is a treasure trove of graphics. The coverage of each book includes (besides a detailed plot synopsis, a summary of its public response, and trivia related to it) a complete publication history, original dust jackets, magazine covers, newspaper comic strip and comic book adaptations, and ephemera related to it. Burroughs and his heirs were collectors, and these are not pictures of the used copies that often appear in books about decades-old popular literature. Each image is from a mint-condition copy, a publisher’s proof, or the original artwork. Each image including the comic book covers is identified as to its artist. In the sections on motion pictures (including the Disney 1999 animated version), TV series, the stage musical, fan publications, foreign editions, collectibles, etc., ERB and his corporate heirs also built up a huge collection of publicity stills and other graphics, that are featured here. Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration is current up to Jane, the Woman Who Loved Tarzan by Robin Maxwell (Tor Books), published on September 18, 2012.

The biographical sections on Edgar Rice Burroughs include what is probably the most complete collection of Burroughs’ personal photographs ever published. In addition to straightforward biographical data, there are many anecdotes of Burroughs’ sense of humor. The story of how his original pseudonym, “Normal Bean” (meaning a normal human), was changed by a typesetter into “Norman Bean”, is well-known, but this book documents many others. For example, Burroughs was often asked how “Tarzan” should be pronounced. His replies were seldom serious; one answer was that “the ‘o’ is silent, as in ‘mice’”.

This is an authorized history, so it does not mention the many unauthorized Tarzan novels, written mostly since the 1960s after the first Tarzan novels’ copyrights expired. The Tarzan name is still trademarked, and ERB, Inc. has suppressed those in the U.S. individually in a series of lawsuits. This is a minor omission since most of the unauthorized stories were dreadful. ERB, Inc. has carefully used its authority to make sure that the authorized novels, mostly by such professional science-fiction authors as Fritz Leiber, Philip Jose Farmer, and R. A. Salvatore, and British TV and comic book author Andy Briggs, have been of high quality.

There is no index, although the clear arrangement of the contents makes most information easy to find. While most of Burroughs’ non-Tarzan novels such as The Mad King and The Oakdale Affair are minor enough that this book will satisfy most readers’ search for information about them, readers will have to search for complete information about Burroughs’ other science-fiction tales – the John Carter of Mars novels, the Pellucidar novels, the Carson Napier of Venus novels, The Moon Maid and The Moon Men – elsewhere.

Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration will sate the most obsessed fans’ desire for information about Edgar Rice Burroughs the author; about his Tarzan books and their adaptations in motion pictures, comic strips, and comic books; and about Tarzan and his supporting characters – Jane, his son Korak, Cheetah, and Tantor the elephant. It is a bargain at the price.

Disclosure:  A free copy of this book was furnished by the publisher for review, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.

Holiday Gift Guide from Random House Children’s Books

It’s that time of year again.  The highly anticipated and highly dreaded holiday season.  We here at AmoXcalli can think of nothing better to give than books – a gift that will last a lifetime, even if the actual books don’t.  Our friends at Random House Children’s Books have put together a handy list of their titles in a downloadable PDF document for your holiday gift giving and what wonderful titles they are.  I highly recommend any of these for the kids in your life.  Just click the link below to download the list of titles.

Holiday Titles and Gift Guide from Random House Children’s Books

 

Fred Patten Reviews The Great American Cereal Book: How Breakfast Got Its Crunch

The Great American Cereal Book: How Breakfast Got Its Crunch
Authors: Marty Gitlin and Topher Ellis
Publisher: Abrams Image
ISBN-10:  0-8109-9799-1
ISBN-13:  978-0-8109-9799-8

If you can’t guess from the title, The Great American Cereal Book will tell you all that you want to know about American prepackaged breakfast cereals.  Marty Gitlin is a freelance author of books about popular and topical subjects (Los Angeles Lakers, Girls Play to Win Cheerleading, The Hudson Plane Landing about the emergency airplane landing on the Hudson River on January 15, 2009).  For this book he partnered with Topher Ellis, a specialty consultant on breakfast cereals, editor of the cereal trade journal Boxtop, and webmaster of Topher’s Breakfast Cereal Character Guide.

I can’t say that this 368-page history and guide will tell you “everything” about breakfast cereals, because of the frequency of “Unknown” in the data.  Gitlin and Ellis got free admittance into the corporate archives of General Mills, Kellogg’s, Nabisco, Nestlé, Post, the Quaker Oats Company, Ralston, and other manufacturers of prepackaged cereals, but all too often their records simply listed the names that cereals were marketed under, not the dates when they were introduced or were discontinued.

But except for this quibble, it’s all here.  There is some narrative in the 19th century history of cereals, and in the stories of marketing superstars such as Rice Krispies and Rice Krispies Treats, Wheaties, Breakfast of Champions, Cap’n Crunch, the Trix Rabbit, and a few others.  But mostly this is information in tabular form for hundreds of well-remembered and forgotten brands:  The name of the cereal, manufacturer, date introduced, date withdrawn from sale, contents, varieties, notable spokescharacters (mascots), slogans, and “Crunch On This” amusing or interesting factoids.  The book is heavily illustrated in full color with cereal boxes, pictures of mascots, old advertisements, and other memorabilia.

Some of the information:  the earliest prepackaged breakfast cereal was Dr. James Caleb Jackson’s Granula in 1863.  It required a necessary overnight soaking in milk to be soft enough to eat.  When John Henry Kellogg developed a ready-to-eat variant and used the same name, Jackson sued for copyright infringement, forcing Kellogg to change his cereal’s name to Granola, which is still on the market today.  Post Corn Toasties began in 1904 as Elijah’s Manna, in a box showing the Biblical prophet receiving the toasted corn flakes from Heaven.  Vehement protests from religious fundamentalists forced the pioneering C. W. Post to secularize and rename his cereal four years later.  Lucky Charms was the first cereal to contain “marbits”, tiny shaped marshmallows; today they are a common component of cereals.  Quaker Oats’ Quisp and Quake were two essentially identical cereals that were designed by Jay Ward (of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame) in 1965 to promote a humorous rivalry between their cartoon mascots on cereal boxes and in animated TV commercials.  Quisp was voiced by veteran animation voice actor Daws Butler, and Quake by actor William Conrad.  The campaign lasted until 1972, when Quake was discontinued and Quaker Oats proclaimed that Quisp had won.

In 1937 Post licensed the right to promote agent Melvin Purvis of the FBI in its Toasties.  Purvis’ photo-portrait appeared in ads for a Junior G-Man kit that children could send in for.  Five cereals are 100 years old or older; four are between 80 and 100 years; six are between 60 and 80 years; and eleven are more than 50 years old.  Contrariwise, older cereal brands such as Cheerios were intended for permanence, while starting in 1980 cereal manufacturers began working with toy manufacturers, movie and TV and game promoters to design new cereals (or at least their boxes) to appear on market shelves for only as long as the tie-in maintained its popularity.  Among these cereals have been Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Pokémon, Breakfast With Barbie, Jurassic Park Crunch, Tiny Toon Adventures Corn, Oats & Rice Cereal, Buzz Blasts (starring Buzz Lightyear of Toy Story), C3-PO’s, Cabbage Patch Kids Corn and Wheat Cereal, Cinnamon Marshmallow Scooby-Doo, Cröonchy Stars (starring the Swedish Chef from Jim Henson’s Muppets), Disney’s Princess Fairytale Flakes, Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat, Mr. T, Pirates of the Caribbean, and many, many more.  Many cereal brands have been improbably named, such as Force Flakes (the first cereal to have a cartoon mascot, Sunny Jim, created by W. W. Denslow in 1901), Oatbake, Tryabita, Sir Grapefellow and Baron Von Redberry (two cartoon World War I aerial aces; General Mills’ answer to Quaker Oats’ Quisp and Quake), Sugaroos, Mr. Waffles, Kaboom, Prince of Thieves (at the time of the movie Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves), Nerds, Directoyu, and Wackies.  The book closes with a list of fictional cereals; imaginary cereal names that have become well-known through appearing in popular comic strips, TV cartoons, and movies.  (Yes, Saki’s Filboid Studge [1911; page 353] is acknowledged, although it’s not listed in the index.)

The Great American Cereal Book (which is packaged to look like a cereal box) is another labor of love that took years to research and compile by its obsessed authors, who doubtlessly enjoyed every minute of it.  It will be in demand from nostalgia and pop-culture fans, as well as those who are really interested in information about popular cereal brands or where the famous cereal mascots like Toucan Sam and Tony the Tiger came from.

Disclosure:  A free copy of this book was furnished by the publisher for review, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.

Battlefields of Honor: American Civil War Reenactors

 

  • Author: Mark Elson
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Merrell Publishers (September 18, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 185894578X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1858945781

If not for the title of the book, I would have thought I was gazing into the richly colored past, such are the quality and beauty of the photographs. The photographs and narrative are wonderful and provide  a fascinating look inside the world of civil war reenactors.  To be honest, I’d never thought much about them and if I had, I’d probably have wondered why they bothered.  BATTLEFIELDS OF HONOR answers that question in great detail.  It’s amazing the amount of care and attention to detail that go into the costumes, weapons, everything.  Prodigious amounts of research on the part of the reenactors go a long way to preserving our history and one can’t help but admire their deep dedication.

The photography is simply stunning.  There are wet plate photographs that look like they came from another time; full color photos that show the gorgeous textures of the fabrics and details to the costumes; and black and white or sepia toned photos and show so much emotion in a face.  I spent a couple of weeks just poring over the photos and often found myself swept away by the power of them.  This book is more than just photo-essays, it is a trip back into time and an incredible view of history.

Civil War buffs will adore the book; but it is really a wonderful book for anyone that loves history or photography or art.  I think it is a great teaching tool for children as well and one that will get them asking questions and wanting to learn more.  Highly recommended!

 

About the author:

Mark Elson is a Los Angeles-based photographer and filmmaker who specializes in wet plate photography. He attended the College for Creative Studies (formerly the Center for Creative Studies) in Detroit, Michigan, and the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, California. He has been a lifelong student of the American Civil War.

To view more of Mark’s photography and read his blog visit: http://www.markelsonpictures.com

Disclosure:  A free copy of this book was furnished by the publisher for review, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.

 

Fred Patten reviews When Diplomacy Fails …

When Diplomacy Fails …
Author: Michael Z. Williamson
Publisher: Baen Books
ISBN-10: 1-4516-3790-X
ISBN-13: 978-1-4516-3790-8

This is the seventh novel in Williamson’s Freehold interstellar action-adventure science-fiction series, which started with Freehold in 2003; or the third novel in his Ripple Creek Security subseries, which began with Better to Beg Forgiveness ….

The series is set about two hundred years in the future, in a human interstellar civilization in which most planets of the galaxy are divided among a tyrannical socialistic United Nations union (the villains), the lone-planet freedom-loving Freehold of Grainne (the heroes), and various worlds loosely aligned in a Colonial Alliance.  After the first couple of novels, Williamson began concentrating on the exploits of the Freehold-based Ripple Creek Security Service, a commercial company of mercenary bodyguards who hire their services to the president of an independent planet in the throes of civil war (Better to Beg Forgiveness …, 2007), and the Richest Person in the Universe (Do Unto Others …, 2010).  In other words, these novels are a s-f extrapolation of the private military companies such as Blackwater Security that contracted their services to the U.S. government in Iraq during the 2000s.

In this third novel, Ripple Creek is hired to guard and protect their traditional enemy!  Well, politics has no personal enemies, and Ripple Creek has the reputation of being the best in the business.  Ripple Creek is asked to assign its ace team of Alex Marlow, Jason Vaughn, Eleanora Sykora, Bart Weil, Horace Mbuto, and Aramis Anderson to protect the U.N.’s Bureau of State Minister Joy Herman Highland, a bureaucrat with very many enemies, both professional and personal.

There is little padding in Williamson’s prose.  His team know each other well and are personal friends, but their conversation is heavy in shop talk; and the third-person narration is heavy in tech talk:

“[Alex] said, ‘We’re protecting a high-ranking UN bureau official out of system.’
Bart asked, ‘Are there specific threats?’
‘Some.  We’ll be able to cover those during transport.  We’re traveling together.’
Elke asked, ‘What restrictions do we have on weapons and gear, and rules of engagement?”
He understood she was asking if she could have explosives.  ‘Unknown yet, but I do know the usual security contingent are armed.’
‘Then why us?’ Bart asked.
‘The threat level is perceived as higher than typical.’
‘So the free market is better at protecting the government than it is at protecting itself.’
‘Fundamentally, yes.’
‘Very amusing.’
‘We’re going to Mtali for the Environmental Summit and some other meetings.’
Bart raised his eyebrows.  Yes, if they were up to date on newsloads, that pretty well gave away who the principal was.
‘Perhaps I will like this person,’ Elke said.  ‘I respect ruthlessness.’”  (p. 11)

and

“Their quarters were quite comfortable for the field.  They had billets on par with officers or other high-end contractors: hard buildings, private rooms where enlisted personnel would have three to five, basic bunks and lockable closets.  The problem, of course, was the weapons, which in theory were supposed to be secured whenever they were not on escort, which would mean a lot of back and forth to the armory.  In practice, they usually left someone in the billet to watch things, armed.  He also knew Aramis concealed a small pistol when out.  He was sure Jason did, too, though he’d never seen it.  He made do with a knife.” (p. 63)

For interstellar political reasons, the Environmental Summit is on a planet with a lot of factional religious groups fighting each other; so Alex and his teammates do not know whether they are protecting Highland from “incidental” Mtali religious violence, a specific assassination attempt against her by the partisans, an attempt by one of her political enemies back on Earth, or if they are there to guard her as just a publicity stunt.  What they quickly find out is that, unlike their previous assignments where they were working with the full cooperation of their principals, Highland seems determined to make their job as hard as possible.  Anti-terrorist security depends largely on secrecy and keeping as low a profile as possible.  Highland wants maximum publicity for her political career and appearances, and even publicizes the names and portraits of her security team without their knowledge.  The Ripple Creek team soon come to despise their current principal, who is clearly prepared to sacrifice some or all of them for her publicity’s sake.

Alex and the others are determined to not let this affect their professionalism.  Besides their own self-honor, Ripple Creek’s reputation is at stake.  But as the attacks against them increase, three patterns emerge.  There are genuine non-deadly factional protests against Highland as a symbol of the U.N., assassination attempts against Highland presumably by her political rivals, and attacks designed to discredit the Ripple Creek Security team by causing civilian casualties that can be blamed on them.  Alex and his teammates must become detectives to outwit and expose their adversaries, while protecting Highland despite her attempts to exploit them for political gain.  The lengthy climax provides surprises and lots of military violence.

According to the “About the Author”, Williamson is an ex- military veteran of the U.S. Army and Air Force with considerable Middle Eastern experience, and a current weapons tester and reviewer for several firearms manufacturers.  His professional expertise shows in this well-written military s-f series.

Fantastical Worlds!

Wow!  Three best selling fantasy authors are getting together for an online video chat on Shindig.com titled:

 

FANTASTICAL WORLDS:

In Conversation with Rachel Hartman,

Stefan Bachmann, and Christopher Paolini

10/28/12 2PM – 3PM 2012

http://www.shindig.com/event/fantastical

Rachel Hartman, author of the critically acclaimed, instant New York Times bestseller SERAPHINA; Stefan Bachmann, author of THE PECULIAR (Harper Collins), and Christopher Paolini, author of the international bestselling series the Inheritance cycle and, most recently, the INHERITANCE  Deluxe Edition.

 

These three esteemed authors will discuss what inspires them & their characters and take viewer questions.

 

- Connect with Rachel Hartman:

@_rachelhartman

RachelHartmanBooks.com

SeraphinaBooks.com

 

- Connect with Stefan Bachmann

@Stefan_Bachmann

scathingjellyfish.blogspot.com/

 

- Connect with Christopher Paolini

@InheritanceCP

Alagaesia.com

 

Fred Patten Reviews Mars Attacks!


Mars Attacks!
Author: The Topps Company, Inc. Introduction and commentary by Len Brown.
ISBN-10: 1-4197-0409-5
ISBN-13: 978-1-4197-0409-3

Eek! The Topps Company has been one of the oldest and leading purveyors of bubble gum packet trading cards, since the 1940s when it was Topps Chewing Gum, Inc. If my sixty-year-old memories are accurate, they went from five sticks of bubble gum and one trading card per pack to five trading cards and one stick of gum per pack. I and my pals tossed out the gum and traded the cards – fighter plane cards, Civil War battle cards, interplanetary exploration cards, and the like.

Len Brown, in his Introduction, describes how, as a 15-year-old in 1955, he wrote a fan letter to Topps and was invited by its creative director Woody Gelman to visit their offices. They maintained their correspondence, and in 1959 Gelman offered him a job as his assistant. Brown worked at Topps until he retired in 2000.

Brown was therefore the lead planner with Gelman of the 1962 set of 55 trading cards at first called Attack from Space, but ultimately changed to the shorter and more dramatic Mars Attacks. Brown was the author of the text on the back of the cards. Brown describes his influences (the big-brained alien on an EC Comics cover, and the similar aliens in This Island Earth), the artists who painted the cards, and that it was originally decided that some of the cards were too violent, and they were redrawn and toned down.

Not enough. Before they even had the chance to distribute the cards nation-wide, the first releases on the East Coast drew the kind of parental and newspaper editorial denunciations that were written about the “juvenile delinquency causing” comic books of the 1950s. “In 1962, Topps received about thirty letters from students attending the same public school. It was obviously a class assignment, as all the letters had the same basic message, ‘Mars Attacks trading cards are not suitable for children.’” (p. 10) The decisive event was a telephone call to Topps’ president from a district attorney in Connecticut who warned him against releasing more of the cards in that state.

So the cards were withdrawn from the market – with the predictable results. Mars Attacks became the most famous set of children’s trading cards ever produced. Everyone wanted what they couldn’t have. “Today, a complete set of the fifty-five original 1962 Mars Attacks cards in mint condition is valued at twenty-five thousand dollars. […] More extraordinarily, an original wax wrapper sells for over five hundred dollars, and an empty Mars Attacks display box (rarely found) is scooped up for over a thousand dollars! (ibid.)

Over the years, particularly in the 1980s and later, there has been Mars Attacks imagery and literature in many forms. Paperback novels. Comic books. Action figures. T-shirts. Magazine covers. And of course the 1996 Tim Burton movie.

This 224-page full-color book shows it all. The centerpiece is the original 55-card set, presented in double-page spreads showing the text on the left-hand page and the illustration on the right. “The card art from the original 1962 series that appears in this volume was taken directly from transparencies, which still survive. The card backs were scanned from an archival set that had been kept in storage at Topps since its initial release.” This runs from pages 11 to 121. Subsequent pages show 11 additional cards added for a 1994 limited reissue; 32 full-page paintings by noted 1990s-2000s comic book artists including Keith Giffen, Ken Steacy, Sam Keith, William Stout, Mike Ploog, John Pound, and Simon Bisley; original Mars Attacks art commissioned from Topps for magazine covers, paperback novel covers, etc.; 1962 original concept sketches; the box art and wrappers prepared for the unused Attack from Space release; and more. The introduction includes the EC comic-book cover that inspired Brown, the poster for the 1955 movie This Island Earth with its bulging-brained mutant, and the poster for the 1996 Tim Burton movie. There is a two-page afterword by Zena Saunders, the daughter of the original cards’ artist, Norm Saunders.

This is another “everything you want to know” book about its subject. Everyone has heard of the notorious Mars Attacks trading cards. Now you can see them in all their gory glory. Wired.com reviewed this book as “a lurid snapshot of sci-fi paranoia at its most pulp-fictiony.” This a book for nostalgia fans, for pop-culture fans, for sci-fi fans, and for those who want to know what inspired the Tim Burton movie.

Includes four Mars Attacks trading cards.

Disclosure: A free copy of this book was furnished by the publisher for review, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.

Fred Patten Reviews The Great Showdowns

The Great Showdowns.

Foreword by Neil Patrick Harris.
Author:  Scott C.  [Scott Campbell]
Publisher:  Titan Books
ISBN-10:  1-7811-6277-8
ISBN-13:  978-1-7811-6277-4

Scott C. [Scott Campbell] has achieved a wide fandom for his quirky cartoons.  His paintings have been featured in galleries around the world.  His previous book, Amazing Everything: The Art of Scott C., got such reviews as, “The best thing about Scott’s work is that it’s so damn cute, clever, and funny!”

The Great Showdowns is a hardbound collection of 134 watercolor “strangely good-natured confrontations between the greatest characters in film history,” to quote from Titan Books’ press release.  The series was first exhibited at Los Angeles’ Gallery 1988 during 2011.

To quote from the press release again, “With a foreword by Neil Patrick Harris (a fan who owns several originals from the series), The Great Showdowns collects the most memorable moments of melee, interpreted by Scott in his inimitable style, including Chief Brody vs. Jaws, Die Hard’s John McClane vs. broken glass, Ripley vs. the Alien Queen, and even Spinal Tap vs. an undersized model of Stonehenge.”

Since these are not identified, “The Great Showdowns” also makes for an excellent game of “Guess the Movie”.  You can get a sample of six showdowns on the cover of this book.  Some in the book are obvious – Gort the robot and Helen Benson (Patricia Neal) in The Day the Earth Stood Still; E.T. and a telephone in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial; the Terminator and the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day; Gene Kelly in a raincoat and a lamppost in Singin’ in the Rain; a piglet and a flock of sheep in Babe; Death, a knight, and a chessboard in The Seventh Seal.  Others will be harder to guess.

Have fun.  And if you can’t have fun, you can at least enjoy looking at Scott C.’s watercolors.

Disclosure:  A free copy of this book was furnished by the publisher for review, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.

The Adventures of Buck O’Rue and His Hoss, Reddish

The Adventures of Buck O’Rue and His Hoss, Reddish
Authors: Dick Huemer and Paul Murry
Publisher: Classic Comics Press
ISBN-10: 0-9850-4991-X
ISBN-13: 978-0-9850-4991-1

A confession: I requested a review copy of this book to solve a sixty-year-old minor mystery for me. When I was a child and a teenager in the late 1940s & ‘50s, my family got the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Examiner, and I devoured every comic strip in them. But there were other newspapers in Los Angeles, and they had other comic strips. I only saw them infrequently, but one strip that intrigued me was Buck O’Rue, a burlesque Western in the L.A. Mirror, because I recognized the cartoonist’s style as the same artist who was drawing the Mickey Mouse adventure serials in the monthly Walt Disney Comics & Stories comic book. When I grew older and talked with other comic-strip and comic-book aficionados and asked about Buck O’Rue, nobody had ever heard of it.

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