Saturday, February 16, 2008

Book News, In Brief

First they did it to Chuck Berry, now they're doing it to Osamu Tezuka. Via Publisher's Weekly: "As the market for manga in America continues to grow, one of the top publishers, Tokyopop, has made a push to distinguish its OEL, or 'Original English Language' manga created by non-Japanese writers and artists." Tell me, what is it with White people and their appropriation of other people's sh*t? Did they peak with spray cheese or something?

Now we're never gonna be sure if the man with the world's longest fingernails is actually the man with the world's longest fingernails, or if he really even exists. Via Publisher's Weekly (again): "Ripley’s Takes Over Guinness. In a deal for the record books, the privately-held Jim Pattison Group has acquired Guinness World Records from HIT Entertainment for an undisclosed price. Among the Pattison Group’s holdings is Ripley Entertainment," a.k.a. Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Isn't this what they refer to as a 'conflict of interests'?

The Free Comic Book Day website has announced this year's giveaways. Included in the illustriously titled 'Gold Sponsor Offerings' are Simpsons and Futurama comics, the Transformers Animated FCBD 2008 Edition, All-Star Superman #1, Hellboy/B.P.R.D., Project Superpowers and a 2008 Shonen Jump sampler. Humbled by their 'Silver-level' status are Disney's Gyro Gearloose FCBD 2008 Edition and Gumby's Coloring Comic Book Special(?!). This year's Free Comic Book Day will be on May 3, 2008. You can visit the Free Comic Book Day website for the names of stores participating in your neck o' the woods.

DC Comics has paired six different anime directors (Satoshi Kon, among them) with six American comics writers (including Brian Azzarello and Greg Rucka) and told them to make six different Batman anime/animated shorts. Here is the trailer/making-of puff piece.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Video Links
(for readers who like to watch)

This past Valentine's Day, author/sex therapist Violet Blue gave a one hour lecture to the techs at Google, titled Abstinence Does Not Make The Heart Grow Fonder. In it, she tried to make sense of the governmentally funded, fifth annual 'Day of Purity.' Needless to say, she couldn't.

Jonathan Schell, correspondent for The Nation Magazine and author of The Seventh Decade, talks to Charlie Rose about the ever-growing likeliness of nuclear bombs ruining your vacation plans. Chipper!

The Guardian UK's Gary Younge joins Graydon Carter (the editor of Vanity Fair and the author of What We Lost) and Christopher Hitchens (author of God is Not Great) in launching 'Stranger in a Strange Land: Encounters in the Disunited States' -- a consideration of the state of the union. The video of the event is split into seven parts. You'll want to start here.

Book News, In Brief

Just in time for the day after Valentine's Day (my bad, I should've posted it earlier), Sexual Fables examines Why Jane Austen Never Married. I know that this is the sort of thing that fascinates those of you with Anglophile chick lit predilections, but think about it. If Austen had tied herself down with a 19th century marriage, do you really think that she would have written so many books? Y'all should be celebrating the fact that marriage missed Ms. Austen, not nit-picking the particulars as to why.
(Thanks to Bookslut for the heads-up.)

Magician/comics scribe Grant Morrison sits down with Newsarama to discuss his plans for DC Comics' current Comic Book Event of the Year, Final Crisis. Normally these over-hyped crossovers have zero appeal to me, but this one sounds different. I mean, did 52 have Sonny Sumo, Anthro the Caveboy, "some seriously badass super-animals," and a guy called the Human Flame? ("He’s this really goofy character we found in an old Martian Manhunter story. He’s this dumb supervillain who just sits around with his cell phone taking pictures of all the other villains and driving them crazy. But he’s got a really big role to play. The name was just so great, 'the Human Flame,' in a story about evil coming to Earth…and snuffing out 'the Human Flame.'”) Answer: nope.

Borders, the second-largest book retailer in the U.S., on Wednesday, announced it is opening the first of 14 new concept stores that it will launch this year as part of a restructuring plan it revealed in 2007. Central to the new store format is a "Digital Center" that will enable customers to download books, burn CDs, self-publish their own books and research their family background.
Wow! The future is now! It's like The Jetsons meet the Flintstones! It''s...wholly unnecessary. Who besides your tech-ignorant grandparents is going to want to drive all the way to their local Borders to do what they could just as easily have done from their own home?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Just In Time For Valentine's Day:
Romance Comics

Via Journalista: "Will Kane presents an eye-popping romance comic by Jim Steranko, My Heart Broke in Hollywood!"

Me, personally, I'm gonna dip my entire Whitman's Sampler in lysergic acid before clicking over.

Book News, In Brief

And they say the Jews are stingy. "They" obviously didn't know about the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, valued at $100,000 and recently awarded to Lucette Lagnado for The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family’s Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World. Truth be told, I'd never heard of it either. And I'm circumcised.

Lest you money-hungry Gentiles start downloading copies of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, keep in mind that y'all are still eligible for the Kingsley Tufts Award, a $100,000 prize given to a poet "who is past the very beginning but has not yet reached the acknowledged pinnacle of his or her career." This year's winner? Tom Sleigh and his book, Space Walk.

Ah, but all is not dollar signs and harmless racist jokes in the world of words. Remember those Mohammed cartoons that had the Muslim world in an uproar? Danish authorities just arrested three people who were allegedly planning to assassinate one of the offending cartoonists. A heck of a lot of good $100,000 does when your d-e-a-d.

Bonus News Item That I Had No Way Of Tying Into This Loosely Themed Thread:

The Comics Journal has just posted their 1978 interview with Steve Gerber. It was the first(?) interview Gerber gave after being sh*t-canned from Marvel Comics for asserting his creator's rights to the character Howard the Duck, and Gerber pulled no punches.

(One more Gerber related item: a eulogy of sorts, care of The Savage Critics. Oh, and the eulogy actually ties back into the first news item, so voila -- connections made!)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Video Links
(for readers who like to watch)

Author/NYTimes reporter Philip Shenon has been making the media rounds to promote his 9/11 book, The Commission. Youtube has his five minutes with John Stewart on The Daily Show, as well as his half hour with Democracy Now (in four parts).

Aubrey de Grey (and his beard) recently stopped by The Colbert Show to discuss his book Ending Aging (and the concept therein). Although Colbert initially worries that this is a slap against God's heavenly housing market, the possibility of using it on John McCain appears to win him over in the end.

The Archive of American Television has an exhaustive seven part interview with Richard Matheson (I Am Legend, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Woman) available here. It starts off slow (the interviewer's fault), and lags a bit from time to time, but it covers just about every aspect of Matheson's life -- from his childhood visits to the public library all the way up to his work on 2002's Hunted Past Reason .

Book News, In Brief

The Coen brothers, who did a bang-up job adapting Cormac McCarthy's No Country For Old Men for the screen, have just announced their next book-based film: Michael Chabon's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Yiddish Policeman's Union.

Via The Beat: "The Tolkien Trust, which represents the estate of JRR Tolkien, has filed a lawsuit against New Line Cinemas, claiming they are owed $140 million. Charging "unabashed and insatiable greed," the plaintiffs said...that New Line...had failed to pay anything despite a...contract that entitles the trusts and the publishers to 7.5 percent of the films’ gross revenues, less certain costs. The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy has earned some $6 billion worldwide."
What does this mean for you and me? No Hobbit films by Guillermo Del Toro until this mess is settled.

Porn goes legit. Via The Guardian UK: "The stock market is to provide its first listing for a pornography publishing group as the adult magazines empire founded by Express owner Richard Desmond next week seeks a listing on the junior Plus Market." The best thing about this stock is that it doesn't really matter whether it performs 'bullishly' or 'bearishly'. Either way, it still sounds perfectly pornographic!

"Harlequin Enterprises Limited is challenging its e-community members to read 100,000 books in one year. When the challenge ends on December 31, 2008, Harlequin will make an unprecedented donation of an equivalent number of books to the National Center for Family Literacy." Okay, so I've got two problems with this "challenge." One, all 100,000 books read have to be Harlequin romance novels. Two, all of the 100,000 books donated to the NCFL will be -- you guessed it -- Harlequin romance novels. Why should the NCFL get punished for the crap taste of others?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Free Online Manga!
(wait, weren't we just complaning about this sort of thing?!)

New York Magazine has posted an entire short story by Jo Chen, titled 99 Roses. It starts off as a sort of over-the-top romance, then takes an unexpected turn, totally confounding your expectations. 99 Roses is just one of the many quirky tales in Chen's The Other Side of the Mirror, out now from Tokyopop.
Click the here to begin.

Book News, In Brief

Steve Gerber, the irreverent, outspoken and silly creator of Howard the Duck and Omega the Unknown, has died. Mark Evanier and The Comics Reporter have posted bios and obits.

Alex Cox, the writer and director of Repo Man, is releasing a sequel to that cult the form of a comic book. Entertainment Weekly has the first four pages.

Don't care for sequels? How about prequels? How about prequels written by authors that had nothing to do with the original book? Still with me? The CBC has an interview with Budge Wilson, author of Before Green Gables, the officially licensed prequel to Anne of Green Gables.

Remember yesterday's news item about the publishers becoming a bookstore's new competitor? We weren't lying. Via Reuters: "Random House Publishing Group, the world's largest book publisher, is planning to test selling individual chapters of a popular book to gauge reader demand."

The Brits are snobs. Their accents make that perfectly clear. Unfortunately, their accents also make them sound smarter. That's why, when David Hare, John Hodge, Tom Stoppard and Lee Hall talk about their work adapting The Hours, Trainspotting, Shakespeare In Love and Billy Elliot for the big screen, I say, "Bloody 'ell, why nowt click ova' fowa look-see, eh wot? I jus' might be able ta learn sump'fin, by gum."

Monday, February 11, 2008

Two Unauthorized Adaptations of Haruki Murakami

The first is Naoko, a student film by Jon Bando, adapting the first chapter of Murakami's Norwegian Wood.

The second film, 100% Perfect, is incomplete. It is an animated "experiment" made one sleepless night by 'KrispyMike'.

Book News, In Brief

Via The Baltimore Sun: "Barack Obama beat former President Bill Clinton for the Grammy Award this year for best spoken word. Obama won for the audio book version of his bestseller, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. It marked his second Grammy, following a win in 2006 for Dreams From My Father, an audiobook for a memoir first published in 1995."

Via The Telegraph UK: The good news: After 922 years of mystery, The Doomsday Book is on-line for all to read. The Bad News: The book is not an ancient tome of apocalyptic warnings, but an 1085 land survey commissioned by William the Conquerer, written primarily for tax purposes (the Old English 'dom' means reckoning or accounting). Borrring.

This was first announced back in 2006, but it's just started popping up in headlines across the globe again.
Via The Star Online (Malaysia): "Spider-Man director Sam Raimi is adapting Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth books into a syndicated TV series. The series will be called Wizard’s First Rule, taking its title from the first book in the series. It has already been picked up by Tribune Broadcasting."
And then, perhaps to sabotage any excitement you might be feeling, the article goes on to say:
"Raimi was an executive producer on syndicated shows Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess."

Via The Comics "Valerie D'Orazio worked as an assistant editor at Acclaim and then DC Comics, leaving the latter position in a cloud of dissatisfaction that saw expression in a much talked-about series of on-line postings called Goodbye to Comics. That group of essays dissected in brutal, unsparing fashion comics culture as D'Orazio had experienced it thus far. She painted a portrait of an unhealthy if not outright damaging world of widespread obsessive behavior, behavioral dysfunction and unrealized expectations. This helped gain her a new and attentive audience that has since made her blog Occasional Superheroine one of the can't-miss stops for mainstream comics commentary on the Internet. She's recently announced plans to expand the site."
The Comics Reporter has a brand new interview with D'Orazio, posted here.

A brick and mortar bookstore's main competition used be other brick and mortar bookstores. Then, about ten years ago, their arch rival became internet behemoth Now, thanks to that same internet, their new foe for the reader's dough looks to be the publishers.
Via The NYTimes: "In an attempt to increase book sales, HarperCollins Publishers will begin offering free electronic editions of some of its books on its Web site. The idea is to give readers the opportunity to sample the books online in the same way that prospective buyers can flip through books in a bookstore. 'It’s like taking the shrink wrap off a book,' said Jane Friedman, chief executive of HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide. 'The best way to sell books is to have the consumer be able to read some of that content.' For more than a year, visitors to HarperCollins’ Web site have been able to use the company’s Browse Inside function to look at some pages of most of the publisher’s current titles. Ms. Friedman said she believed that by displaying even more of the book’s content free, more readers would be enticed to buy."
In related news, via "Tor Books is launching a new site and running a campaign in which they are giving away e-books (free as in beer) until the site goes live. To get in on the deal, fill out the form at their site, and each week you will receive a newsletter containing links to download a new book. The first two books are Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson followed by Old Man's War by John Scalzi."