Pre-teen Jesse and his family visit their Philippine ancestral home for the funeral of Jesse's grandmother Lola. While there, Jesse begins to see andPre-teen Jesse and his family visit their Philippine ancestral home for the funeral of Jesse's grandmother Lola. While there, Jesse begins to see and communicate with ghosts, just as his grandmother before him. A conversation with a late cousin shapes much of this tale of self-discovery and familial exploration. Elbert Or's art perfectly complements Torres' insightful script for the engaging Lola. ...more
For this violent, near-future thriller, Remender creates a reality in which, due to ultra-stringent anti-terrorism legislation, the United States hasFor this violent, near-future thriller, Remender creates a reality in which, due to ultra-stringent anti-terrorism legislation, the United States has slipped into a cesspool of vice and corruption. Amid the chaos, career criminal Graham Brick plans one more big heist. Though the background story borders on absurd (the government plans to broadcast a signal making it impossible for anyone to knowingly commit unlawful acts), Remender wisely focuses on the criminal elements, conjuring the best of the late Richard Stark with a fascinating supporting cast. While his painted work is pleasing to look at, artist Greg Tocchini falters as a storyteller, often causing confusion. Even with these distractions, The Last Days of American Crime offers an intriguing, nihilistic view on the crime thriller. ...more
Probably best known for his collaboration with Alan Moore on the extraordinary From Hell, Eddie Campbell, serving as both writer and artist, first gProbably best known for his collaboration with Alan Moore on the extraordinary From Hell, Eddie Campbell, serving as both writer and artist, first gained acclaim for Alec, the thinly-veiled autobiographical adventures of a Scottish artist. Alec: The Years Have No Pants collects all of the very frank, often humorous previously published tales plus a new story. While all the stories showcase Campbell's distinctive art, the highlight of this impressive book derives from the evolution of the artist. Midway through the 638 page volume, the realization dawns that Eddie Campbell may be one of the field's most accomplished storytellers. Alec: The Years Have No Pants belongs in all finer graphic novel collections. ...more
This hardcover collects four of Norwegian cartoonist Jason's out-of-print books: Meow Baby, Tell Me Something, You Can't Get There From Here, anThis hardcover collects four of Norwegian cartoonist Jason's out-of-print books: Meow Baby, Tell Me Something, You Can't Get There From Here, and The Living and the Dead. Similar to Charles Addams and Gahan Wilson, Jason relies on the humorous side of horror in these mostly wordless tales. Perhaps none demonstrates this unique confluence more than the charming and funny Night of the Living Dead-inspired The Living and the Dead. After all, nothing says true love like giving your betrothed the heart from a freshly-dead woman. Throughout the sublime Almost Silent, Jason examines traditional relationships and social norms via a deliciously warped lens, quite probably one constructed by Dr. Frankenstein himself. ...more
I have previously lamented the fact that the excellent 1985 series The Sword of Solomon Kane remained uncollected. Dark Horse remedies my complaint inI have previously lamented the fact that the excellent 1985 series The Sword of Solomon Kane remained uncollected. Dark Horse remedies my complaint in The Chronicles of Solomon Kane, which contains all six issues of the series plus the Solomon Kane stories from Marvel Premiere. Produced by an impressive array of talent--Roy Thomas, Ralph Macchio, Howard Chaykin, Brett Blevins, John Ridgeway, Al Williamson, Sandy Plunkett, Kevin Nowlan, Jon Bogdanove, and Mike Mignola--, The Chronicles of Solomon Kane reprints the extant of the Marvel's superior full color renditions of Robert E. Howard's dour Puritan hero. ...more
The lavishly illustrated tome chronicles the extensive history of English-language Star Trek comic books and strips. Porter, author of James Bond: ThThe lavishly illustrated tome chronicles the extensive history of English-language Star Trek comic books and strips. Porter, author of James Bond: The History of the Illustrated 007, smartly divides the entries by publisher, and includes insightful annotations and accounts of the publisher's interactions with the Trek universe. He summarizes each illustrated adventure along with the stardate, publication date, and a list of the creators. Star Trek: A Comics History culminates in a fascinating interview with several writers who worked on various incarnations of this storied franchise. ...more
Fresh from his climactic return to novel-length fiction (last year's Black & White, Shiner's Collected Stories offers 41 of the finest short stoFresh from his climactic return to novel-length fiction (last year's Black & White, Shiner's Collected Stories offers 41 of the finest short stories from his three decade career. Tackling a wide variety of subjects (serial killers, tennis, Kennedy assassination, Tesla, music, to name just a few), and genres (sf/f, mystery, horror, and dare I say it, even literary), the often-unheralded Shiner produced some of the best written and most interesting tales of his generation....more
Food fascinates Jews. Nearly every holiday and celebration centers around food (or in the case of Yom Kippur, the absence thereof). The stereotypicalFood fascinates Jews. Nearly every holiday and celebration centers around food (or in the case of Yom Kippur, the absence thereof). The stereotypical Jewish mother constantly tries to get her children to eat. Even in the afterlife, Jews are promised a succulent banquet of Leviathan, Behemoth, and Ziz, all three created for just this feast. This fixation exists even though (or perhaps because) Jewish Law dictates fairly stringent dietary restrictions: Pork, shellfish, anything that eats other animals, some birds, and most insects are forbidden. As with many biblical dictates, the exact interpretations and applications have changed over time and depending on whom you ask. Which animals are considered Kosher has long generated debate among layman and scholar alike. In this spirit, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer approach this heady subject in their lighthearted book The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals: The Evil Monkey Dialogues. As Ann VanderMeer explains:
Two years ago, my husband and I were taking a hike in the woods. I don’t know how it came up, but at some point we started talking about the “kosherness” of certain animals. With Passover fast approaching, what you can and cannot eat was on my mind. The subject led to the silliness of trying to figure out what imaginary animals might be kosher. As we bantered back and forth we decided that we were having too much fun, which meant it might be fun for our readers, too. So we did a blog post in honor of Passover.
This short (92 pages) compendium of mythical creatures - ranging from the abumi-guchi to the Ziz - features illustrations by designer John Coulthart and short descriptions followed by a humorous discourse between Ann VanderMeer and her husband’s blogging alter ego, Evil Monkey. Written in a conversational style, the occasionally self-referential entries often site “experts,” such as Jorge Luis Borges and Gustave Flaubert, as well as texts including the Old Testament and the Etz Hayim. Each account concludes with symbol denoting the creature’s potential kosherness. For example:
Originating in Irish mythology, the banshee is a frightening female spirit, often considered a bad omen. But how much of a bad omen? Specter-ologists are unsure. Messenger of death or the cause of death? Perhaps the two roles are interchangeable, for many people with bad tickers have had heart attacks upon encountering a banshee. The provenance of the banshee has also been the cause of some debate. Some consider the banshee a prophetess who can see the future. Others (among them heretics, drunks, and rebels) consider the banshee to be a fallen angel. A mournful wail is the calling card of the banshee, who when seen will be wearing a gray hooded cloak, not unlike a rain poncho. Dr. Jorge Luis Borges’ theory that the banshee is a form of elf should be ignored as ridiculous.
EVIL MONKEY: “Would it be wise to try to eat a messenger of death? Wouldn’t that be like eating death? Is eating death kosher?”
ANN: “Depends on what you mean by death. If death is a guy in a black robe, no. If death is a strawberry, then, yes.”
EVIL MONKEY: “So she’s not kosher?”
ANN: “No. Any ‘creature’ you can call ‘he’ or ‘she’ is probably not kosher. But why are the evil ones always women?”
EVIL MONKEY: “Nothing I can say here will save me.
The volume concludes with an entertaining conversation between Ann VanderMeer and Duff Goldman, star of the Food Network’s Ace of Cakes. The pair initially discuss the proper preparation of and best wine selection to serve with the kosher creatures before things devolve into even more amusing topics regarding testicles, Clive Barker, and Goldman’s dictum that anything served in a Chinese restaurant is kosher.
With two page entries for each beast and a compact size, the delightful The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals makes for some delicious bathroom (or busstop) reading for Jews and gentiles alike. And for the uninformed out there, cholent is a traditional hearty Jewish stew that simmers for 12 hours or more. You’ll thank me later.
John Layman and Rob Guillory create an alternate present where, due to avian flu fears, the American government has criminalized the possession, sale,John Layman and Rob Guillory create an alternate present where, due to avian flu fears, the American government has criminalized the possession, sale, and consumption of all poultry! Tony Chu, investigator for the Special Crimes Division of the powerful FDA, employs his abilities as a cibopathic -- he gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats -- to solve crimes. Guillory's over-the-top humorous illustrations and Layman's clever script expertly mix to spawn an enjoyable concoction of cannibalism, conspiracy, and murder....more
This incredible boxed set of three gorgeous hardcovers celebrates one of art's funniest and most disturbing cartoonists. Printed on archival-quality pThis incredible boxed set of three gorgeous hardcovers celebrates one of art's funniest and most disturbing cartoonists. Printed on archival-quality paper in both color and black & white, the handsome set includes not only all the legendary artist's cartoons, prose fiction and text-and-art features from Playboy, but also many of his strips from The New Yorker, Punch, The National Lampoon, and many other magazines. Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons is the most comprehensive and attractive Wilson book ever produced. ...more
Ten years later, the fears surrounding Y2K have faded mercifully into the recesses of our collective subconscious. The millennium bug never bit — compTen years later, the fears surrounding Y2K have faded mercifully into the recesses of our collective subconscious. The millennium bug never bit — computers didn’t fail, economies didn’t crumble, governments didn’t fall. But Steven Amsterdam’s imaginative first novel, Things We Didn’t See Coming, posits a reality in which the worst predictions came to pass. Told through a sequence of short stories chronicling the life of an unnamed narrator, the book opens on New Year’s Eve, 1999. At midnight of that momentous night, the electrical grid shuts down. Amsterdam’s child protagonist and his father stand in the cold.
This whole thing is symbolic, symbolic of a system that’s hopelessly shortsighted, a system that twenty, thirty years ago couldn’t imagine a time when we might be starting a new century. That’s how limited an animal we are. Do you get it? A whole species that didn’t think to set its clocks the right way. We are arrogant, stupid, we lack humility in the face of centuries and centuries of time before us. What we call knowledge, what you learn in school about fossils and dinosaurs, it’s all hunches. What we know now is that we didn’t think enough. We know we aren’t careful enough and that’s about all we know. That’s what I’m trying to protect us from.”
I say, “OK,” because he’s getting more upset as he talks.
“What else haven’t we been paying attention to? I worry about your life, what’s going to happen to you. We can’t think our way out of every problem. We’re not smart enough.”
“Don’t worry so much.”
This only makes him mad. “What’s the right amount of worry? In our time, in your time, there’ll be breakdowns that can’t be fixed. There will be more diseases that can’t be fixed. Water will be as valuable as oil. And you’ll be stuck taking care of a fat generation of useless parents.
Chaos and decay have infiltrated civilization. The structure of the government in Amsterdam’s unnamed country changes from story to story; physical, psychological, and moral breakdowns infest all aspects of society; starvation, plague, and corruption run rampant. To survive, the narrator ekes out an existence as a thief and government worker and, not surprisingly, sometimes both. Companionship and love comes fraught with danger:
If it were just me, I could run off now with whatever I could carry. But it’s not, and how would she find me? Besides, he’d notice if I started packing up and, even if I was able to keep him back, he’d stay and claim whatever I left behind and be here when Margo comes back and infect her in a second. So I’m guarding our spot until she decides to wander home.
Staying awake up here is not what’s tough, but staying quietly balanced is. I’ve managed to hook my legs around one branch and my arms around another and it lets me stay reasonably still while being vigilant — watching, breathing softly through my face mask, waiting for him to die.
The story moves into some surprising social and moral gray areas. Amsterdam tackles such weighty topics as polyamory, euthanasia, suicide, drugs, aging, and anarchy with insight and sensitivity. Employing a breezy, conversational style, Amsterdam blazes through his bleak tale of hope — the true heart of any good dystopia — but culminates in a too-abrupt ending that leaves the reader confused and unsatisfied. Even with this misstep, Things We Didn’t See Coming offers thought-provoking entertainment, and successfully introduces an important new writer.