The winner of many industry awards, the basis for Wes Craven's cult film, and the original incarnation of the series that introduced Alan Moore to Ame...moreThe winner of many industry awards, the basis for Wes Craven's cult film, and the original incarnation of the series that introduced Alan Moore to American fans, Roots of the Swamp Thing collects for the first time in hardcover the initial fourteen appearances of the legendary muck monster. Printed on a non-glossy paper stock, this volume offers perhaps the finest quality renditions of these oft-reprinted tales. As beautifully grotesque as when they first appeared, these Wein and Wrightson stories remain some of the best comic book horror stories.(less)
In his introduction editor Brendan Burford explains, "[S:]yncopation literally means that an accent or stress is placed on the weak beat between the u...moreIn his introduction editor Brendan Burford explains, "[S:]yncopation literally means that an accent or stress is placed on the weak beat between the usually dominant beats. When music is syncopated, it can offer a whole new perspective on rhythm." Using this definition as a guide, Burford compiled a diverse collection of quality stories. Some of the tales such as the excellent "How and Why to Bale Hay" by Nick Bertozzi offer uniquely personal histories. Others illuminate fascinating aspects of historical figures ("Erik Erickson" by Paul Karasik and "Dvorak" by Alec Longstreth). Burford and artist Jim Campbell relate one of the book's finest tales with the dynamic "Boris Rose: Prisoner of Jazz." Alex Holden's "West Side Improvements" chronicles the amazing story of graffiti artist Chris Pape (aka Freedom). Perhaps this extraordinary anthology's only weakness is a few too many New York-centric tales. But this is a small complaint. With Syncopated, Buford and his contributors have crafted one of the best books of the year. (less)
Yet further proof that Geoff Johns is the single most overrated writer working in comics today. A confusing, overly dramatic mess of a fairly stereoty...moreYet further proof that Geoff Johns is the single most overrated writer working in comics today. A confusing, overly dramatic mess of a fairly stereotypical story.(less)
Like many on the Left, I respect and enjoy Peter Bagge's art and humor, but not always his politics. His denouncements of many public services and his...moreLike many on the Left, I respect and enjoy Peter Bagge's art and humor, but not always his politics. His denouncements of many public services and his stance against gun control fly in the face of my beliefs. On the other hand, his Libertarian views on sex and drugs are refreshing in our puritanical, hypocritical society. With great candor and wit, Bagge tackles all these issues and more in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me, a collection of his strips from Reason Magazine. As in his previous works like Hate and The Bradleys, Bagge deftly manages to simultaneously anger and amuse the reader with his intensely personal stories about larger topical issues. (less)
The creator of the acclaimed Persepolis returns with a new family story. After his wife destroys his beloved tar (a Persian lute),musician Nasser Ali...moreThe creator of the acclaimed Persepolis returns with a new family story. After his wife destroys his beloved tar (a Persian lute),musician Nasser Ali Khan decides to die. Satrapi recounts the eight days until his death, manipulating time as she relates the futures of his children and grandchildren. Along the way, Satrapi accomplishes the seemingly impossible by turning the bitter, unlikable Nasser into a truly sympathetic character. Through her masterful use of layout, design, and shadow, Satrapi creates an extraordinary family memoir(less)
During the sleazy paperback era of the 1950s, femme fatales dominated book covers. Creator of more than 600 covers, Robert A. Maguire mastered the for...moreDuring the sleazy paperback era of the 1950s, femme fatales dominated book covers. Creator of more than 600 covers, Robert A. Maguire mastered the form and crafted images throughout the decade and into the 1980s. Pop-culture historian Jim Silke surveys this prolific painter’s career in the retrospective Dames, Dolls & Gun Molls: The Art of Robert A. Maguire.
The thin 112-page volume, dominated by lush, full-color reproductions, opens with a fond remembrance of her father by Lynn Maguire and a brief introduction to the artist’s early life. Maguire spent large portions of his New Jersey childhood doodling with his architect father. Since his family believed that artists starved, Maguire entered Duke University as a chemistry major. In 1941, he left Duke and joined the Army. After World War II, Maguire decided to follow his passion and enrolled at the famed Art Students League in Manhattan. He began his professional art career in 1946, designing covers and interior illustrations for Trojan Publications — producers of such trashy fare as Hollywood Detective Magazine and Pocket Detective Magazine — soon moved on to book covers, and became a defining artist of the noir aesthetic.
Sadly, this promising opening proves to be a red herring; Silke steers clear of Maguire’s personal life in the remaining pages. Even though he includes a photograph of Maguire’s first wife, he never mentions her in the text — who she was, why their marriage ended, or even whether Maguire remarried. Biographical material illuminates the artist’s mind, places his work in context, and ultimately would have produced a far more intriguing study. Due in part to this omission, the book lacks the power and impact that Maguire’s work deserves.
Silke’s discussions of Maguire’s publishing history suffers from the same kind of shortcomings. His facts only tease the reader, providing an incomplete view of a potentially fascinating and enlightening facet of Maguire’s professional life. At times, Silke engages in sloppy research. He writes “Gold Medal came out with the first original paperback, Hill Girl by Charles Williams, published in 1951.” While there is no consensus about exactly when the first paperback original came out, numerous books first appeared in paperback during the 1940s, including several crime novels. Further compounding the book’s weaknesses, Silke cites just one source in the entire narrative, yet he reprints quotes from several artists, including Maguire, who died in 2005. Whether he performed the interviews himself or conducted the research to find them, Silke needs to acknowledge his sources. Additionally, Dames, Dolls & Gun Molls lacks a bibliography and an index.
Silke touches on the various aspects of Maguire’s long career: the pulp-magazine covers, his crime era, the historical novels, romances, and even his brief foray into greeting-card design. Much like in the rest of the book, this coverage offers little more than a typical magazine article. The brief digressions on Maguire’s editor and author interactions lack any real depth.
Scattered interesting tidbits manage to emerge from the shallows, especially when Silke focuses on Maguire’s actual craft. Among the covers and paintings, Maguire’s black-and-white model photographs, designs, and pencil roughs establish the artist’s immense skill. In the final chapter, “The Maguire Method,” Silke deconstructs Maguire’s technique.
“The images you see at the top of this page demonstrate his typical approach to the female figure. Maguire has made the head in the the finished painting slightly smaller than the model’s head, and lengthened her body from the waist down, making the figure about eight heads tall while the model is seven heads tall.”
But even here, Silke, an accomplished artist himself, fails to discuss the details at any length.
The book is a visual delight, but beyond the artwork, it’s a pricey failure. The lack of bibliographic notations for the images (publication dates and publisher), biographical data, and citations make the Dames, Dolls & Gun Molls: The Art of Robert A. Maguire of little interest to the casual fan or scholar. But it sure is pretty.