030) Madman Atomic Comics Volume 2 by Mike Allred with Laura Allred, finished April 14
Brilliant. Some of his most fascinating work yet. I'll be interviewing the Allreds for Motley Vision in the next month or so and I'm reviewing this volume for Sunstone magazine, so I'm saving most of my thunder for later.
You can, while you are waiting, check out my brief post on Fob Comics, however.
under a week
029) For a Good Time by K. Voss, finished April 11
What to Do if Your Date Dies
- Being on a date with someone who dies is problematic, particularly when the time and place are not of your own choosing. Gentlemen callers rarely think about how irksome it is of them to die. There they'll be--robust and lusty--and then they suddenly fall, limp and noodle-like, putting a damper on the whole relationship. Inconvenient and embarrassing, it's apt to produce a ganglia of difficulties. But there are ways of handling the situation, especially for those of taste and good breeding who are willing to learn.
As I understand it, Karen Voss wrote a column for a BYU newspaper back around the time I abandoned Idaho for California (just over twenty years ago). I haven't been able to run her current self down online (I would have to email some Karen Vosses to do that and frankly I'm not up to it. So I'm choosing to assume she's the film professor at USC. Why not?), but I did find a couple photos of her back in the day, so here you are: Karen Voss.
Anyway, the book contains fifteen essays (columns?), not all of which are as excellent as the one I quoted above. But that one is excellent (although I have some editorial suggestions for a second edition, if you see this Karen, hon'), the one about different styles of waking up was very good----
But here's the thing. I don't know if it's a matter of how well these have aged or if it's that they were originally intended to appear alone and not as part of a group, but the collection doesn't hold together as well as one might hope. (Literally, also. The copy MoJo lent me? The binding glue is completely gone. It's held together with a giant paperclip. I would not recommend taking this book on a bus.)
In 1993, Ann Edwards Cannon, as president of the Association for Mormon letters, gave a battle cry for Mormons to write funny. Frankly, I think we're still a little lacking there. So to me, the Big Deal of this book is what the heck ever happened to K. Voss? Was she hit by a car? Did she just give up? Even worse, did she grow up? If you know (or if you are her), please contact me. Tahnkee. And with that, I'll leave you with her list of words that are guaranteed to make you a dinner-party sensation. (I recommend memorizing so's you don't have too squint so much.)
Reminder, Voss: Lists of words cannot be copyrighted. Don't don't contact me via lawyer.
about three months
028) The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told, finished April 11
- This collection was first published in anticipation of an upcoming film, so, as you might imagine, it starts old and ends . . . old. At least compared to the age of the Big O whose book it is and whom I have been reading it with. But he loves Batman. We started the comparable Superman volume first by over a month and we're still not halfway through it.
How about from my perspective?
Well, at that time (according to the foreword), most of the oldest strips were not yet republishable due to degradation (my how far we've come) and frankly, I wonder if they were forced to pick some older ones they might not have otherwise. Or maybe it's just that old comics were . . . .
Anyway, of fifty years of Batman (at that time), these where the best they could find? Most were fine, sure, but only a couple really struck me as Excellent. And since those were among the latest published, I wonder if I'm just being timeist--?
Anyway. A great book for introducing the younguns to the Batman.
about six months
027) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, finished April 6
- Shortly after beginning this reread, I ran across an article in which Bradbury explains that the book isn't about government censorship at all; it's about, mm, let's call it
On the bright side, the book is now much more applicable to my students (Clarisse's critique of her peers felt very real and accurate to them), but my First Amendment plans have become a little irrelevant.
Bradbury's an interesting writer. The dreamlike poetics of his prose, for instance. His work is lovely but, in the end, I don't think it is great.
Let me rephrase.
It's not all great. He has written great and beautiful work. 451 is rather like a gateway drug in this sense. It introduces readers to great writing, makes it palatable, so when they find greater writing they are prepared and ready and able and willing. And so, in that sense, even Bradbury's lesser works perform a great service.
Or would, if this were a world where people read books......
maybe three weeks
026)Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey by Karen Wilkin (essay) and Edward Gorey (art), finished April 5
- This is a lovely book, nice to touch and to hold. But although I suppose it would work well as an introduction to Gorey, I would never recommend it as such. (Instead, if you want a crash course, buy one of the Amphigoreys.)
This book is really meant for those who already admire Gorey and who will enjoy an academic and trivia-fun (but mostly pointless) essay on him and his work, and who don't mind seeing Gorey's pictures removed from their context. Gorey was ultimately a storyteller (even at his most absurd and narrative-free), and cutting out images denies him his place as one of America's preeminent masters of the comics form. But this is why I do not recommend the book for neophytes --- not a reason to for the experienced to reject it.
In fact, this book is worth owning just for the envelopes he illustrated and mailed home to his mother while he was away at college. Those are great.
The book is the accompaniment to a travelling exhibition of Gorey's work. Most (but not all) of the included works are shown here, but I would still love to see the show. Here's to hoping it hits the Bay Area.
about a week
025) Owly: A Time to be Brave by Andy Runton, finished April 1
024) Blue Beetle: Endgame by John Rogers and Rafaele Albuquerque, finished March 29
023) Blue Beetle: Reach for the Stars by Rogers, Torres, Albuqerque; finished March 26
022) The Complete Peanuts 1967-1968 by Charles M. Schulz, finished March 25
021) Blue Beetle: Road Trip by various, finished March 25
020) Love That Dog by Sharon Creech, finished March 18
019) Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block, finished March 17
018) The Proviso by Moriah Jovan, finished March 16
017) An Ensign to the Nations: History of the Oakland State by Evelyn Candland, finished March 7
016) Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley, finished February 27
015) Batman: The Black Glove by Grant Morrison and Tony Daniel and J.H. Williams III, finished February 23
014) The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story by Richard Preston, finished February 22
013) Lex Luthor: Man of Steel by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo, finished February 19
012) Blue Beetle: Shellshocked by Keith Giffen and Cully Hammer, finished February 18
011) The Joker by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo, finished February 17
010) Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, finished February 18
009) Superman: Red Son by MJR&M, finished February 11
008) The Best American Comics 2008 edited by Lynda Barry, finished February 9
007) The Blot by Tom Neely, finished February 6
006) JSA: Darkness Falls by Goyer, Johns, et al, finished January 28
005) The Road by Cormac McCarthy, finished January 24
004) Poor Sailor by Sammy Harkham, finished January 19
003) The Waitress was New by Dominique Fabre and translated by Jordan Stump, finished January 19
002) Stagger Lee by Derek McCulloch and Shepherd Hendrix, finished January 12?
001) The Arrival by Shaun Tan, finished January 8