Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Killer, Come Back to Me by Ray Bradbury


Published by Hard Case Crime, this book celebrates Ray Bradbury’s centennial. This book collects 20 of Ray Bradbury’s crime stories, some of which have rarely been reprinted. Bradbury’s crime stories are not easy to come by. Originally published in the pulp magazines, these 20 stories offer a range of stylistic approaches to their subject matter. This is a good collection, but far from the best. These stories represent Bradbury’s developing talent as a narrative stylist. I enjoyed re-reading those stories I’ve read before, and I enjoyed getting acquainted with a few I was unfamiliar with. As a collector, I generally buy any new collections or reprints that have notable distinction from other editions. Hard Case Crime puts out high quality hardbacks and paperbacks, and this made a really fine addition to my collection. The cover artwork is by Paul Mann. Bradbury’s narrative powers are on full display, and as far as I’m concerned, returning to Ray Bradbury’s work is always a cause for celebration. This is a “Must Have” for your home library. Here are the stories you’ll find in Killer, Come Back to Me by Ray Bradbury: 


A Touch 0f Petulance
The Screaming Woman
The Trunk Lady

“I’m Not So Dumb” 
Killer, Come Back to Me! 
Dead Men Rise Up Never 
Where Everything Ends

Corpse Carnival
And So Died Riabouchinska
Yesterday I Lived! 
The Town Where No One Got Off 
The Whole Town’s Sleeping 
At Midnight, In the Month of June

The Smiling People
The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl 
The Small Assassin 
Marionettes, Inc. 
Punishment Without Crime 
Some Live Like Lazarus 
The Utterly Perfect Murder

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Superman: The Golden Age Volume 5

 At a time when DC Comics is in flux, as their recent layoffs and staff purges reminded us, the importance of getting comic books in the hands of young readers takes on added importance. Like it or not, this is the age of digital readers, and many comic book companies are going the digital route. That’s fine as long as it gets people reading. This fifth volume of DC’s Golden Age reprints issues from 1942 to 1943. I’ve said before, this historic reprinting is the preferred full color format and includes cover art, which in this case is by Jack Burnley and is adapted from the cover of Superman # 19. The great Jerry Siegel wrote all of the stories included here. Other artists at this time are Joe Shuster, John Sikela, and Fred Ray. These stories take place during World War II, and yes, the Japanese and Germans are presented as stereotypes that might make some politically correct people today feel a tad uncomfortable. Too bad for them. That’s no reason to ignore or condemn this book. DC editors wisely and correctly include this statement on the indicia page: “The comics in this volume were produced in a time when racism played larger role in society and popular culture both consciously and unconsciously. They are unaltered in this collection, with the understanding that they are presented as historical documents.” DC has handled these paperback reprints exactly the right way. Other comic book companies should note the quality of this paperback format and take heed. The stories themselves are entertaining, with the typical plots demonstrating Superman’s strength and ingenuity. They are wholesome in that regard, and the word balloons are crammed with dialogue. I sincerely hope that DC Comics executive continue these incredible collections. Kudos!   

Friday, October 23, 2020

Conan the Barbarian – Marvel Epic Collection


As I’ve mentioned before in relation to the DC Comics trade paperback full color reprints of Golden Age and Silver Age classic comics, these reprints are of great cultural value, and because of the dramatic changes in comic book distribution, it’s vital that these collections continue, and equally as vital for the publishers to find a way to get them into the hands of young readers.


Today, I’m highlighting and promoting Marvel’s full color Conan the Barbarian trade paperback which reprints Conan the Barbarian 1 thru 13, and a Conan story from Chamber of Darkness # 4. This is the first volume of many reprinting the classic Marvel Conan tales.


Roy Thomas was the writer and Barry Windsor Smith provided the stunning artwork. Created by the great Robert E. Howard for the pulp magazine market in the 1930s, Conan is an iconic fictional character. These are among the best comic book stories ever published. Let’s also not forget, when these comics were published in 1970, comic books were easy to find. They could be found on spinner racks in pharmacies, bookstores, tobacco shops, airport and bus terminals, corner newsstands, etc. Those days are gone. There are no bookstores where I live. There are few bookstores left. Comic books remain popular, but they are NOT getting into the hands of young readers.


Such a trade paperback offers an incredible reading experience. I’m thrilled to see these collections being published, and I want to encourage you to add these to your home library. Tell your kids about them. Let them read them. Ask them what their favorite stories are, and why. 


Both Marvel and DC Comics are demonstrating a commitment to reprinting in this format the classic material from their vast libraries, but they won’t continue unless the sales are good. Buy them. Buy the Marvel Epic Collection of Conan the Barbarian. Find a comic book shop and ask them to order some of the other classic Marvel collections, such as the Fantastic Four by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Share them. Nuff said!

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Tabernacle by Marc Cavella

This is reportedly the first novel by author Marc Cavella and it’s engaging, witty and fun. Using a first-person narrative that perfectly captures the southern colloquial speech pattern, Cavella’s tale take some wild turns, and some subtle turns, too. The plot starts out simple – a salesman is assigned a task that will take all of his skill, charm, and dubious talent to get his commission. That’s where the fun begins. The speech patterns took me some time to adjust to, but once I did I was engrossed by the vivid cast of characters. Cavella has fun with these characters, and they come across realistically, albeit sometimes as an infuriating presence. There’s more than a bit of satire here as well, and as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, satire works best when the author recognizes that satire is a form of social commentary. Cavella gets it, and his perceptions are spot on. The plot twists, which I won’t describe, were exhausting, but that’s because the author was really indulging himself. I enjoyed Tabernacle, and I’d like to see a follow-up where the author uses an altogether different stylistic approach. The writing is sharp, the dialogue “real life,” and overall, a solid read. Recommended!

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson


Singer and songwriter from the legendary musical group The Band teamed up with artist David Shannon for this retelling of the Hiawatha legend. Young readers are the target audience but readers of any age could and should enjoy this vibrant, wonderful book. In this telling, the Mohawk Hiawatha has lost his family in battle and wants revenge until he meets a Peacemaker who wants to unite the tribe. A journey of discovery ensues that transforms Hiawatha and eventually unites the five nations. The book includes a CD featuring an original song by Robertson. A great story with great artwork make this a fine book for any family to share with their children, and its message of hope is always relevant. The facts, myths and legends surrounding Hiawatha have long fascinated me, initially from having seen the nearly forgotten but once acclaimed Hiawatha Pageant created by Carl Parlasca in Elgin, Illinois in the 1960s. The Hiawatha Pageant was inspired by and utilized the text of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1855 poem, The Song of Hiawatha. Both the Hiawatha Pageant and Longfellow’s poem combined facts with large doses of fiction, but both also handled the material with dignity, if not reverence. Robbie Robertson’s Hiawatha and the Peacemaker is a welcome and exciting addition to the literature of Hiawatha. This book can easily be utilized as a teaching tool for young readers. Adding it to your home library is sure to inspire discussion, an interest in history, all while firing up your children’s imagination. Recommended!

Thursday, October 8, 2020

John Wayne: The Genuine Article


The text of this book was written by Michael Goldman and includes a foreword by President Jimmy Carter and a preface by Ethan Wayne. I purchased this from the official John Wayne Stock & Supply Company website, and the book is autographed by Ethan Wayne. What a treasure this is! Offering a rare and fascinating look at both Duke’s private life as well as his films, the photographs and ephemera reproduced here is astonishing. The book even includes several fold-in envelopes and mini-posters reproducing everything from film posters to private letters. I learned more about John Wayne from reading this book than I ever did from reading a biography. The John Wayne private vault of memorabilia has been opened, and it’s all covered here. And the book is heavy! You’ll learn John Wayne’s shirt size, see letters he wrote, see letters famous celebrities and politicians sent him, learn about his personal habits such as spending time on his beloved ship or hunting, and much more. The amount of material held by the Duke’s estate is mind-boggling. As of today, this book is still listed as available on the website, and I want to encourage every Duke fan to support its publication. John Wayne: The Genuine Article by Michael Goldman is a true collector’s item, and one film fans will be glad they purchased. Highly recommended!