Go Ask Alice… Then Turn to Page 38

I’ve gotten a few more paperbacks since last we spoke, all fantasy themed, as usual. Most have been fun to dip into for a spell, but I’ve had the most fun with Johnathan Green‘s Alice’s Nightmare In Wonderland, published by Winged Hussar and Ace Gamebooks. I had to go buy a deck of playing cards at Dollar Tree, but if you have those, or a pair of dice handy, plus a pencil with a good eraser (plus a notepad so you don’t have to deface the book). you’re good to go.

Yes, this is a fine choose your own adventure novel clocking in at 328 pages, and there are plenty of lovely illustrations by Kev Crossley that look like vintage art from the early 1900’s. In fact, the art charmed me so much. I’m sorely tempted to get back to drawing myself, and soon. Fortunately, the plot is pretty good and indeed, this is quite the page turner, with multiple scenarios for everything from deadly combat encounters to fancy tea parties, Mad Hatter included. There’s a bit of hiariously gory content when things go wrong, but if you got a chuckle out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, you’re pretty much all set here.

The only drawback to this book is it really, really wants you to write in it, making loaning it out a bit tricky, Now, you can do what I did and transcribe certain stat charts to that notepad and pass the book for a friend to play, but that’s up to you, of course. Looking at Ace’s selection of other Gamebooks, I’m tempted to pick another one up to play one of these days, well. once I whittle down the pile of work I’m slowly getting to. Uh, anyone want to borrow a book?

-GW

Review: The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A–M)

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Get it from Amazon, or get it from the author himself with a some cool freebies (US buyers only on those), but just get it period if you’re an SNES fan.

Once again, I have the pleasure to plunge into another hefty, well-written tome by Brett Weiss and once again, it’s a must buy. Published by Schiffer Books, The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A-M)  is a solid 416 pages packed with Weiss’ personable personal reminiscences, recollections and remembrances (okay, they’re kind of the same thing, but I’m feeling a bit florid in my hyperbole today) on over 350 games for Nintendo’s stellar 16-bit console that, along with the Sega Genesis and other competitors, battled back and forth during the 1990’s for those hard-earned gamer dollars. Despite strong competition, until the Sony PlayStation’s dominance of the console space starting in 1994-95, the SNES ended up with a seven-year lifespan (the last officially licensed game was Frogger in 1998) and more than enough stellar titles to write a book about. Well, Weiss has written two SNES books (the second volume will be out at some point and I can’t wait to pore through that).

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There are also brief reviews from Weiss on the games he’s played along with other reviews and impressions ranging from short to lengthy and comedic to tragic from dozens of contributors that add interesting and sometimes multiple takes on certain key to not-so-key titles in the library.  I did a very short gargle-blab on one of my favorite games on the console, ALIEN³ that should have been longer in retrospect, but I think I wrote that close to the time (unbeknownst to me, surprise!)  I was about to be hospitalized for about a month, so I was a bit off my game.

A fine foreword by Bill Loguidice kicks off the book and there’s a nice page on the “console wars” that’s a miniature crash course in some of the frenzy of the era with game companies going all out to try and outdo each other with varying results. An interesting piece on emulation closes the volume with writer Alex McCumbers making the case for it in a clear and concise manner. But you’re buying this because you want to check out some titles you never knew existed, knew about but never saw (Hagane WAS available at retail – I got my copy at an Electronics Boutique thanks to the kid holding onto it putting it back and getting a cheaper used game instead) or just want to check out the assorted impressions Weiss rolls out in his amiable style. Recommended.

 

-GW

Trump: Playboy + MAD+ Dark Horse = Something MUCH Better Than You’re Thinking

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Oh, that cartoon guy with the funny hair tooting his own horn may look familiar, but trust me, he’s not only got NOTHING to do with what’s going on down in D.C., he was around before that name was a big deal. Dark Horse Comics’ second volume in its Essential (Harvey) Kurtzman series just so happens to be the complete collection of Trump, a swanky satire magazine published by Playboy from 1956-57. While only two issues made it to newsstands and a third was aborted, the talent on display was tops (Mel Brooks, Will Elder, Jack Davis, Wally Wood, Al Jaffee, Russ Heath, Arnold Roth and more). Unfortunately the upscale satire mag folded up shop and pretty much sunk into obscurity save for hard core collectors who’ve tracked down and saved a handful of copies over the decades.

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Dark Horse comes to the rescue once again with another find hardcover collection, Trump: The Complete Collection – Essential Kurtzman Volume Two (MSRP $29.99). Both full issues are here plus what would have been a third issue had the magazine stayed around. As both a slice of magazine history and collection of outstanding comic illustration from some of the greats of the era, the detailed notes on every bit of art, letters to and from principals involved and other elements lend a great insight into what worked and what went wrong. It’s a “Come for the curiosity, stay because you’re learning stuff’ read that comes highly recommended even if you’re not a fan of top notch late 50’s satire.

Granted, I’m as old as dirt, so I love the corny but reliably amusing jokes here as well as that gorgeously detailed art. As with Harvey Kurtzman’s Jungle Book: Essential Kurtzman Volume 1, plopping this on your coffee table will automatically make your friends think you’re a sly, sophisticated guy or gal with a super cool sense of humor. Hmmmm, perhaps Dark Horse out to zip over both tomes to that kinda cranky guy who needs a big laugh? Provided he makes it past the cover without blowing a gasket, I think it might generate half a laugh. I hope.

– GW

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Shadows On The Grave: Corben’s Still Got Those Horror Chops

shadows-on-the-grave-dhRichard Corben’s artwork has always been brilliant, freakish and frightening on a few levels, but his horror work over the last few years has been a perfect blend of caricature and crazed creativity. I rather loved Rat God, his violently hilarious and uniquely stylized love letter to Lovecraft that was one of Dark Horse Comics best mini-series of 2015. Okay, Bunn and Cook’s absolutely brilliant (and I would watch the hell out of a good TV or movie adaptation) Harrow County is flat out scarier. But Corben’s style of stylistic horror is second to none in my book.

shadows-1sotg30532Shadows On The Grave #1 is the first issue in a beautiful new miniseries comprised of short stories with Corben going all out in both black and white and grey-toned art that’s simultaneously lovely, twisted and somehow realistic through all the bigfoot layers. There’s his reliable work with the human and unhuman form that makes poring over each panel a joy (yes, even the disturbing stuff is worth a look in all its glory) and his writing is just fun and tight what with all the tonal shifting going on. The man is a master of adding humor to tense situations as his characters get put through their paces by fate and other means, but I shall wisely leave the actual reading of the book to each and every one of you interested.

Issue 1 lands at your favorite comic emporium December 14 ($3.99), Issue 2 is arriving in January, and let’s see now… #3 should be next March. Yep, get this is you’re into the Creepy stuff. You see what I did there? Did you? Yeah, go get that as well.

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READS: Surf NYC – Into the Deep End With The Urban Wave Jockeys

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Photo: Andreea Waters

 

I guess you can call photographer/author Andreea Waters‘ new book Surf NYC ($34.99, Schiffer Publishing) a perfect summer beach read of sorts. Granted, if you’re strolling around certain wet and sandy spots with a copy in hand and your phone’s GPS chatting away looking for where some of the photos in the book were shot, you may luck out and get an autograph from one of the more outgoing daredevils committed to riding the weird, wild waves in and around the NY area.

On the other hand, you’ll probably want to respect both the privacy and utter daring of these urban daredevils out to conquer with their own respect the very waters doing what comes naturally and often under unnatural circumstances. The book is a 136-page hardcover with 64 outstanding images of the guys and gals who dare along with the places they do that daring in. You’ll come for the images, but stay for the stories told in quick bits by the surfers interviewed.

Photo: Andreea Waters

Photo: Andreea Waters

 

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READS: Cult Cinema: An Arrow Video Companion

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Yeah, you know you want it NOW. But you’ll need to wait until February 24 to get your sweaty little palms on it. Cult Cinema: An Arrow Video Companion (MSRP $69.99) is a gorgeous limited edition hardcover tome that’s 246 pages thick and chock full of big and little words about cult film, its history, stars, and why the sub-genre is so beloved and necessary. You could probably beat someone who disagrees with your entertainment choices quite senseless with this book (which measures about 8.5 x 11 inches). But that’s really not a good idea as you probably also can’t take it to jail with you to catch up on your required reading. That and if you watch enough cult films you KNOW the warden’s going to be a real jerk and a half (plus tax).

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Featuring the writing of: Robin Bougie, Michael Brooke, Paul Corupe, David Del Valle, David Flint, Cullen Gallagher, Kevin Gilvear, Joel Harley, David Hayles, Pasquale Iannone, Alan Jones, Tim Lucas, Michael Mackenzie, Maitland McDonagh, Tom Mes, John Kenneth Muir, Kim Newman, James Oliver, Vic Pratt, Jasper Sharp, Kenneth J. Souza, Mike Sutton, Stephen Thrower, Caelum Vatnsdal, and Doug Weir, there’s enough here to start (or close) several cinematic conversations. I’m still poring through a PDF review copy, but so far I’m significantly entertained enough to say it’s a must-buy, especially if you’ve been building up your collection of Arrow Video Blu-Ray/DVD sets since the North American kickoff through MVD Entertainment Group.

Can Dark Horse Comics See The Future? I Kind of Hope Not

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Ha and double ha, Dark Horse Comics! Getting Volume 1 of PANIC ($49.99) out in this rather panicky election year that’s giving plenty of people the heebie-jeebies for any number of reasons. Yeah, yeah – it wasn’t planned to happen this way, but it’s still funny (to me at least). I’d only seen a few very ratty issues of the mag at a comic convention way back in the 80’s, so finally getting to read through the first six issues in a sturdy hardcover tome was a great exercise.

It’s interesting to see everything intact from the nicely recolored art to the editorial pages that note the climate of the time that was VERY anti-comics at the expense of killing of companies left and right that couldn’t or wouldn’t conform to the crazies. Great satire and parody hold up to even the most pointed of criticism, so despite some very dated references, there are still plenty of laughs to be had. So, remove that stick from where it’s lodged, have a nice seat with your feet up and prepare to exercise those smile muscles that of late have probably turned into a near-permanent scowl. Oh, and one more thing: consider a good moisturizer before reading as Dark Horse is not responsible for cracked faces from perusing what’s here.

READS: Bombshell: The Pin-Up Art of John Gladman

Bombshell_coverThank goodness the art of the glamour pin-up book isn’t lost forever, particularly given today’s endless supply of overly raunchy and more easily accessible content the internet has to offer. The fine folks over at Schiffer Books have been putting out a nice selection of pin-up titles for some time, but this is one of the best they’ve published to date.

Award-winning photographer/artist John Gladman is one of those thankfully still carrying the artfully positioned cutie torch and in Bombshell: The Pin-Up Art of John Gladman (Schiffer Books, $34.99 – BUY IT!), there’s a whole lot to appreciate. Continue reading

READS: Alternative Movie Posters II Is a Must for Film (and Art) Fanatics

Hey. I have an important question to ask you all:

(Thanks, modelcitizen72 and MOVIECLIPS!)

Alt Mov Posters II coverIf you do (and even if your name isn’t Joey), Alternative Movie Posters II: More Film Art from the Underground ($34.99) is going to make you smile until our face cracks. Well, okay – there’s only one actual gladiator movie in the book (which just so happens to be a poster variant from Ridley Scott’s 2000 film), but that quote jumped out and bit me as soon as I saw the poster and I had to use it as an opener. Anyway, author Matthew Chojnacki has put together a fantastic collection of 200 more film poster variants done by a wide assortment of artists in many different styles that will make any film fan want this on their gift list. Continue reading

READS: Cooking for Geeks Will Make You Hungry For Science

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Yeah, I cook and you should as well. No matter haw daunted you are by the prospect of entering the kitchen to whip up something as simple as a boiled egg, the ability to prepare a meal is not only a necessary survival skill, it’s a series of victories as one overcomes fears and produces some very tasty results. Jeff Potter’s Cooking for Geeks ($24.99) is not only a fantastic read, it’s one of the best cookbooks I’ve ever read. A cornucopia of recipes, food and other science lessons, excellent interviews with far too many chefs and other food experts to list, the book is both a page-turning revelation and a go-to master class in all sorts of kitchen knowledge. Continue reading