Saturday, February 2, 2008

Bad News for Big Eyes

Via Icarus Comics, a bastion of Manga news, reviews and NSFW pictures:

The well-being of manga is still somewhat tied to the anime industry, whose television presence has made hits out of books like Naruto and FMA. But perhaps a more compelling reason for everyone to keep an eye on the current turmoil is that these problems may be expressions of deeper-rooted issues that could affect manga as well; specifically, the diminishing value of the dollar that is erasing licensing profits for Japanese companies, and increasing costs for licensees in an unstable market. The complete collapse of the North American anime market is too pessimistic a prediction, yet a tightening of the belt seems unavoidable should the dollar’s dismal devaluation continue. A steadily growing manga market overall may seem immune, but break it down individually, and it becomes easier to imagine how some mid-sized pubs may feel that same sting.

(For even more bad news, click here.)

Book-To-Film News, In Brief

Via Guardian UK: France aims to conquer Europe with big-budget Astérix film. "It is the most expensive French film ever made, a live-action version of Astérix augmented by a cast of instantly recognisable Europeans, from Gérard Depardieu to Michael Schumacher." But..."At the premiere, there were hundreds of people and not a single person laughed throughout the screening," said a critic who wished to remain anonymous." Sacre bleu!

Via  "British horror master Clive Barker is taking his tales of terror to the big screen again. Matador Pictures and Barker's Midnight Picture Show shingle are teaming to adapt what is planned as the first in a series of films based on the horror author/filmmaker's fiction collection Books of Blood."

Via "Here's the big mystery of Pittsburgh: How did this movie manage to be so completely terrible? Based on a novel by Michael Chabon, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh may end up being a serious contender for worst of (the Sundance Film Festival)."

Also via "I have a soft spot for society in a microcosm stories, ones where a small group of people stand in for the rest of us, and where we see social and political ripples going through them. Think Lord of the Flies, or Das Experiment. The Wave is another film in that tradition, based on a supposedly true story but of course gussied up a bit in the name of dramatic license. The real experiment, in which a teacher tried to explain fascism to his high school class by implementing it, happen in Palo Alto California in 1967; The Wave is set in Germany in the modern day, and the change of location offers a brand new layer of depth and meaning. Sadly, the film insists on smashing the audience over the head with that meaning."

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Road To Hell/Eternal Nothingness/Reincarnation As A Woodtick Is Paved With Book Related Posts

For some reason, offending just our Christian readers felt, well...dissatisfying. That's why I decided to drop this bit of anti-every religion on all of y'all. Enjoy!

The German Family Ministry is pushing for the children's book "How Do I Get to God, Asked the Small Piglet," by written by Michael Schmidt-Salomon and illustrated by Helge Nyncke, to be included on a list of literature considered dangerous for young people.
"The three large religions of the world, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, are slurred in the book," the ministry wrote in a December memo. "The distinctive characteristics of each religion are made ridiculous."
The book tells the story of a piglet and a hedgehog, who discover a poster attached to their house that says: "If you do not know God, you are missing something!"
This frightens them because they had never suspected at all that anything was missing in their lives. Thus they set out to look for "God." Along the way they encounter a rabbi, a bishop and a mufti who are portrayed as insane, violent and continually at each other's throats.
"I think that God doesn't even exist," the hedgehog says at the end of the book. "And if He does, than he definitely doesn't live in [a synagogue, cathedral or mosque]."
Published in October 2007, the 20-page book's publisher, Alibri, said it was aware it was risking a political battle when it published the book.
"It's clear to me that putting a critique of religion in children's bedrooms is a hot political topic," Alibri head Gunnar Schedel said.
Schedel added that the book is intended for nonreligious parents looking to provide their children with a critical view of religion.
"All three religions are treated equally in the book," he said. "No one is negatively singled out."
Author Schmidt-Salomon said the book was "desperately needed considering the enormous mass of religious children's stories." He added that he the book offers children and their parents the opportunity to read about agnostic beliefs if they choose.
"Children also have a right to enlightenment," he wrote on a Web site set up dedicated to the book. "They should not be left defenseless to the scientifically untenable and ethically problematic stories of religion."

(Note: This article was heavily edited in an effort to further our wicked, godless agenda. To read the full article, click here.)

Book News, In Brief

Fellow blogger/better writer, Jessica Stockton-Bagnulo of The Written Nerd, recently won a $15,000 prize from the Brooklyn Public Library to open her own bookstore in Brooklyn. We're so happy for her, we're gonna refrain from making any jealous jibes.

This chick, on the other hand, I was gonna make loads of jokes about, but then Inkwell Michelle warned me that when you make fun of one religious zealot, you welcome the wrath of millions. Not that I personally care whether or not we get a bunch of hate mail in the comments section (most days we're desperate for any comments at all), but our server sucka, and if even one stadium sized congregation decided to shower us with a plague of cyberspam, we'd be royally righteously f**ked .

Special Update to Yesterday's E-Book News!

Less than a month after Steve Jobs called the Kindle "irrelevant," has dumped $300 million into Audible, a seller of audio books that has a close relationship with Apple. But will this be enough to quell tensions between the two media monoliths? According to analysts, no. Apparently, Jobs and co. are still smarting over's radical redesign of their website this past September. The main purpose of this redesign was to establish Amazon as Apple's main competition for online music sales. Some billionaires can be so touchy.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Touring Authors Take Note:
This Is How To Start A Reading

"Good evening peepers, prowlers, pederasts, panty-sniffers, punks and pimps. I’m James Ellroy, the demon dog, the foul owl with the death growl, the white knight of the far right, and the slick trick with the donkey dick. I’m the author of 16 books, masterpieces all; they precede all my future masterpieces. These books will leave you reamed, steamed and drycleaned, tie-dyed, swept to the side, true-blued, tattooed and bah fongooed. These are books for the whole fuckin’ family, if the name of your family is the Manson Family.

"If each and every one of you buys 1000 copies, you will be able to have unlimited sex with each and every person on this earth that you desire every night for the rest of your lives. If each and every one of you buys 2000 copies of my books tonight, you will be able to have unlimited sex with each and every person on this earth that you desire every night for the rest of your lives and still get into heaven as the result of a special dispensation signed by me, The Reverend Ellroy. If each and every one of you buys 3000 copies of my books tonight, you get all that sex, you get into heaven, and—for the first time in its tortured, left, queer counterculture existence—San Francisco will rule the world!"

(To read the rest of Ellroy's spiel -- originally done as an introduction to a film noir double feature -- click here.)

E-Book News, In Brief

According to's own self-serving press release, the Kindle is selling so well that they're having trouble keeping up with the requests. But word on the web is that the pink Sony Reader may be the gift du jour for digital dames this Valentine's Day.

In semi-related news, when author/blogger/sex-educator Violet Blue approached Steve Jobs at MacWorld, he not only dissed her request for a picture as "rude," he went on to diss the Kindle as irrelevant, stating, "It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is; the fact is that people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year."
Although not very kind (or factually correct: the ratio of non-readers is closer to 25%), Jobs' verbal smackdown comes as a welcome stay of execution for brick & mortar bookstores everywhere. After all, the fact that Apple (the company that made buying digital music online a simple and sleek, everyday affair) has no interest in putting out an e-book of their own can only be seen as a good thing for all of us tree-killing traditionalists.
(For a more detailed, stat-heavy diatribe, click here.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Author Du Jour: Tom Robbins

(Stolen from:
Tom Robbins was allegedly born in Blowing Rock, North Carolina on July 22, 1936. By the age of five, he had taught himself to read, and was already writing stories. After moving several times, in North Carolina and Virginia, he allegedly worked at the Barnes and Beers Traveling Circus when he was 11. He later went to Hargrove Military Academy.
At 18, Robbins went to Washington and Lee University to study Journalism. He only lasted for two years before he left. While he was there, he got kicked out of his fraternity for throwing biscuits at his housemother. When he left school, in 1956, he hitchhiked around the country for a year, after which he moved to New York City to be a poet.
Shortly thereafter, however, Robbins received a draft notice, and off to Korea he went. He spent three years during the Korean War in the Air Force as a meteorologist. While overseas, he took courses in Tokyo in Japanese aesthetics and culture.
Upon returning to the US, Robbins began working as a copy editor at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. While there, he enrolled at the Richmond Professional Institute. He was the editor of Proscript, the school's student newspaper and wrote columns called Walks on the Wild Side & The Robbins Nest. He graduated from the school in 1961
In 1962, Robbins moved to Seattle, in a move that would forever affect his writing, as the city would play a major role in several of his books. He eventually got a job writing headlines for Dear Abby. He also enrolled in the Graduate School of Far Eastern Studies at University of Washington.
While at UW, he took a field trip with author Joseph Campbell to South America and became a feature editor and art critic at the Seattle Times.
On July 19, 1963, Robbins used LSD for the first time. This, like his move to Seattle would color all future writings.
In 1964, Robbins moved to Greenwich Village in New York City. He met both Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsburg while in Manhattan. He participated with Ginsburg in a march for the legalization of marijuana, and attended a lecture by Timothy Leary. He would later become good friends with Leary.
In 1965, Robbins moved to San Francisco for a short while and then moved back to Seattle where he worked for a while as a disk jockey. On July 23, 1967, Robbins developed his writing style while writing a review of a Doors concert he saw that day.
Luther Nichols, an editor for Doubleday, contacted Robbins in 1968 about writing an art book. Instead, Robbins pitched Nichols his idea for Another Roadside Attraction. Which would eventually be his first novel. However, after failing to get much work done for a year, Robbins moved to South Bend, Washington (with a $2,500 advance). Over the next two years, Robbins got the creative juices flowing, and in 1971, Another Roadside Attraction was published.
Not long thereafter he began working on Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, which would eventually be published in 1976. A year later, when Elvis Presley died of an overdose in his bathroom on August 16, 1977, there was rumored to be a copy of Another Roadside Attraction on the floor beside him.
Still Life with Woodpecker was published in 1980, and was followed by Jitterbug Perfume in 1984. In 1987, Robbins played the role of the toy maker in movie, Made in Heaven. Skinny Legs and All came out in 1990
Not much later, Robbins took a trip to Timbuktu, which would play heavily in his next novel, Half Asleep In Frog Pajamas, released in 1994. Half Asleep would hit the New York Times Best Seller List in 1995. Later in 1994, Robbins was in the film Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle.
In 1996, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues was released as a film, directed by Gus Van Sant, who also adapted the novel to a screenplay. The cast was made up of several stars including: Uma Thurman, Lorraine Bracco, Pat Morita, Angie Dickinson, Keanu Reeves, John Hurt, Ed Begley Jr., Sean Young, Crispin Glover, Roseanne, Ken Kesey, Heather Graham, William S. Burroughs, River Phoenix, and Tom Robbins himself as the narrator.
On May 2, 2000, Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates was published and hit the best-seller lists almost immediately.

(Hijacked from Wikipedia:)
Another Roadside Attraction (1971)
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1976)
Still Life with Woodpecker (1980)
Jitterbug Perfume (1984)
Skinny Legs and All (1990)
Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas (1994)
Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates (2000)
Villa Incognito (2003)
Wild Ducks Flying Backward (2005)
B is for Beer (2008)

Recommended Links:
The AFTRLife, a website dedicated to Tom Robbins
An interview with the author at January Magazine
Another interview, this one with Sir Bacon
A great profile of Robbins at

Book News, In Brief

Via Times Online: "Splitting with Harry Potter was more painful than getting divorced, a tearful JK Rowling said today."
Hmn...perhaps that's why she keeps flirting with the idea of one last fling.

Via Io9: "The Tina Brown era was the heyday of science fiction at the New Yorker, which also published a decent amount of SF in the 80s. But the magazine has only published one SF story over the past decade, when the genre has supposedly been amassing tons of literary prestige. What's up with that? Here's our survey of the past 30 years' worth of science fiction at the New Yorker."

Via The Comics Reporter: "There are a lot of Marjane Satrapi interviews, but only one on The Colbert Report."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"No one running an independent niche bookshop is in it for the money." has a nice piece about the thriving surviving niche market, including an interview with the proprietor of The Haunted Bookshop, one of the coolest sounding horror & occult book stores around.

Book News, In Brief

Literacy advocates will be thrilled to know that books are currently the most popular online purchase. Brick and mortar bookstores, on the other hand, lament the good old days, when porn was still the internet's main cash crop.

While we're writing the epitaph for bookstores everywhere (well, bookstores in the real world, anyway), we might as well let you in on another potential customer killer. Libraries in Texas and California are now offering free audiobook downloads from their web sites. And here I'd thought that George Bush Jr. and the return of granny-waist jeans were the worst that these two states had to offer.

Alright, let's put an end to all of this Eeyore-esque emoting. Here's something a bit more entertaining. E.L. Doctorow on The Charlie Rose Show.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Striking Screenwriters Slum It In The Lit World

We predicted it a while ago. Hollywood's striking writers have switched from Final Draft to Microsoft Word, and the results have not been pretty. Via The Los Angeles Times:

As the writers strike drags on, there's at least one small corner of the industry that hasn't been grinding to a halt over the last months: literary departments at the major talent agencies, which are getting inundated with book proposals and story ideas for novels from out-of-work screenwriters.

"Some of our writers who have ideas but never had the time are turning to their book projects," said Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, an executive vice president of the William Morris Agency's literary department.

Still, the transition from writing action slug lines to smooth literary prose can be bumpier than a jump-cut in a Tarantino film. According to book agent Mary Evans, the fact that a screenwriter has written a manuscript has no bearing on whether his or her book will have even a modicum of writerly competence.

"Oftentimes, you shudder when a screenwriter sends you a novel, because they tend to be strong with dialogue but crappy with context, and novels are all about creating the proper context for the story," said Evans, whose clients include Smith and Michael Chabon. "Screenwriters are attracted to novel writing because they can let their freak flag fly and just write what they want, but the truly talented novelist-slash-screenwriter is very rare."

(Thanks to Defamer for the initial heads-up.)

Comic Book News, In Brief

Via "This may be the most entertaining article to surface over the weekend: how longtime Judge Dredd writer Alan Grant surveyed his 1980s science fiction work and found that a lot of it has become true." Fair warning: if you're an obese smoker living in an overcrowded area, you're apt to find it quite a depressing read. (Link)

This Wednesday, Y: The Last Man has reaches its 60th and final issue. Because of this, the articles and interviews with writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Pia Guerra are piling up. Here are links to a few of them.

Book Reviews, In Clumps

The New York Times takes a look at four new horror collections: 20th Century Ghosts, The Imago Sequence, Mr. B. Gone and Living Shadows. They like all of 'em but Clive Barker's Mr. B., which they hated so much that they pulled out a thesaurus in order to find a word as harsh as "execrable." Now that's some brutal prose.

USA Today is a bunch of panty-waist pu**ies, so it should come as no surprise that they chose to review a slew of sissified memoirs: Trail of Crumbs, Swimming in a Sea of Death, Her Last Death and Someday My Prince Will Come: True Adventures of a Wannabe Princess. I'm sorry to stereotype (no, I'm not), but if you're the type of Hilton whose chihuahua ears prick up for a title like Someday My Prince Will Come..., then something as icky and unrefined as newspaper reviews probably won't sway you either way. Instead, you ought to pay a visit to the author, Ms. Fine's, MySpace page. If the two of you agree on background layouts, fave flicks and tiara styles, THEN THIS BOOK IZ 4 U!!!

My "fave" set of themed reviews this weekend belongs to The Washington Post, care of Michael Sims. Sims raises his over-sized magnifying glass to The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes: The Life and Times of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life In Letters. While Sims doesn't claim that either book is perfect (he says that the first suffers from "tiring" and "graceless prose," and that the second is mostly letters to and from A.C.D.'s mom, fer chrissakes.), he does make the good parts (exhaustive research, recently resurfaced letters, juicy revelations) sound good enough to make both books worth -- wait for it -- further investigation.