Friday, June 26, 2009

The R.I.P. Menagerie:
Michael Jackson Book Covers

by Michael Jackson.
The book that started it all.

Michael Jackson: The Magic and the Madness by J. Randy Taraborrelli.
Cool title, crap cover.

On Michael Jackson
by Margo Jefferson.
Crap title, cool cover.

Jacko, His Rise and Fall: The Social and Sexual History of Michael Jackson by Darwin Porter.
A Ulysses for MJ gossip fiends. It makes Michael out to be a sort of Leopold Bloom, moonwalking in and out of the lives of every star in the celebrity universe.

Michael Jackson Was My Lover: The Secret Diary of Jordie Chandler
by Victor M. Gutierrez.
This is easily the most lurid of the bunch, and with a used price tag of $140, also the most expensive. The first time I read about this book was in an interview with writer/director, John Waters. Waters claims to have given out dozens of these things as Christmas presents over the years. He's never even sent me a card.

Captain EO: The Official 3-D Comic Book Adaptation of the George Lucas 3-D Musical Motion Picture Directed By Francis Ford Coppola
Would you believe that after all that, they had the nerve not to list the comic's writer or artist on the cover? The hubris!

R.I.P. MJ. Your Off The Wall album will always be one of my favorite records to sing along to while I'm in the shower.

Cuz Friday Night Is For Sexin':
Hot & Heavy Comic Book News

You know comics have crossed over obtained marginal mainstream acceptance when Penthouse Magazine is profiling funnybook conventions. And with promising pull-quotes like "The big cons...all have VIP parties with open bars, which can lubricate the social interaction for sure. You’re not going to go home with Jessica Alba in her fuck-tastic Fantastic Four garb, but as Vic Holtreman of notes, “There’s a lot of hitting on people and flirting," you can expect a lot more sell-out crowds. (And a lot less Jessica Alba.)

In honor of Vampirella's 40th birthday, the classic cheesecake/horror comic is being re-launched and re-priced. Vampirella: The Second Coming is a four part monthly mini-series set to begin in September, with a ridiculously low price of only $1.99 per issue. When asked to comment, an unnamed bookstore blogger said, "Eff 'freakonomics,' this is freaky-deaky-onomics. Not only will the new series sell more, benefiting all of us in the book industry, but seemingly unrelated companies like Jurgens and Kleenex will also see a boost in their business." Eww...

Well, this is the week that DC did it. Detective Comics #854 -- normally the home of Batman -- saw the debut of a new Batwoman, and get this -- she's totally gay. I'll leave the tawdry details to J. Caleb Mozzocco: "It’s basically a cookie cutter sort of street-level, vigilante-style comic book scripting. In this particular story, Batwoman could just as easily be Batman or Daredevil, Catwoman or Nightwing. Which is actually kind of cool, given that she is a lesbian. This comic is literally about a superhero who just happens to be a lesbian, and you can’t ask for more from that in terms of diversity and quality in the DCU or DC’s line of books set there." Wait, what? This sounds tasteful...dignified...and dare I say it? Mature. Goddammit, this book doesn't belong in this post at all!

For more info on The Inkwell's pick for Comic Book of the Week, Detective Comics #854, click here and here. Both links feature great examples of the book's gorgeous art.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Smiley Faced Covers from Recent Releases

Oblivious Investing: Building Wealth by Ignoring the Noise
by Mike Piper.
Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left by Jonah Goldberg.

Tenth Grade Bleeds by Heather Brewer.
Coming in February of 2010, Smile by Raina Telgemeier. It's the pen and ink collection of Telemeier's "dental drama" webcomic.

Okay, so these last two aren't exactly recent, but they're so damned genius I had to include 'em anyway.
Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons.
Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy by Eric G. Wilson.

Now wipe that smug smile off of your face and get back to work!

It's Nice To Know That Desperate Dames Will Put Up With A Little Paunch

(Or: Recommended Viewing: A Romance Novel's Cover Shoot)
2009's 'Mr. Romance,' Charles Paz, gives the gals a peek at his 6/09 cover shoot for Connie Mason's The Lord of Devil Isle here. Seriously, though -- dude is dreamy.

(Thanks to Super Punch for the tip!)

Book News, In Brief

Secretive shadow lord Dick Cheney has signed a six figure deal with Simon & Schuster for a tell-all, and no one but me seems to see the irony.

Cuz we pride ourselves in putting the 'ink' in 'kink': From Ernest Hemingway to Anaïs Nin, novelist Ewan Morrison picks the best literary threesomes.

Reacting to the news that there were 3% fewer books published in 2008 than in 2007 (275,232 titles as compared to 284,370), The Green Apple Core asks, How Many Works Of Fiction Do YOU Need?

The Guardian UK has an article analyzing the rise of sell-out crowds at academic lectures. How much do you wanna bet it has something to do with everyday interactions being reduced to uninteresting, uninspired Tweets?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Neil Gaiman B*tch-Slaps DC

In an interview with, Mr. Gaiman explained the dearth of new Sandman stories for the series' 20th anniversary like this:
“I wanted to do a 20th anniversary story and it broke mostly because DC Comics would have loved me to do a 20th anniversary story at the same terms that were agreed upon in 1987 when I was a 26-year-old unknown. And my thought was, ‘You know what guys, it really doesn’t work like that.’ I wasn’t going to do a deal at the same terms we had in 1987 and they were not willing to do any better than that.”

Nicely done, DC. I guess there's no reason to pay an award winning writer to return to his most memorable creation when you've got The Real World's Judd Winick on staff.

(Thanks to Robot 6 for the tip!)

2 Lists, 2 Links lists New England's Top 10 Literary Magazines.

The Australian proposes a moratorium on critical literary readings. -- for a year or five.

The CBC lists the 10 Best Canadian Poets. Pardon my presumption, but I'm adding an eleventh: Bullwinkle.

Dave Eggers picks his favorite films, and it feels like he's pulling a Single White Female on me. Ruby In Paradise, Before Night Falls and Do The Right Thing are in my Top 9, too!

Humorous Excerpts from Recent Comics Reviews

From Nina Stone's review of Garth Ennis & co.'s Herogasm #2:
Each panel has as much sex, inappropriate behavior and grossness as can possibly be squeezed in. It's HILARIOUS! It's the Where's Waldo of getting it on. It's Richard Scarry's Busytown Penthouse Letters. Do I care about the plot? No. Do I want to know what happens next? Not really. All I want is to see pictures of more obscene stuff, because it's funny.
To read the whole review, click here.

From Timothy Callahan's review of Entertainment Weekly's review of David Mazzucchelli's Asterios Polyp:
In the grade-A review of Mazzucchelli's Asterios Polyp, Sean Howe of EW mentions the "nearly subliminal color symbolism" in the book. The symbolism is anything but subliminal -- it's an essential detail that's commented upon within the text. That doesn't make it any less great, though. But it's like saying that the bat motif in Bruce Wayne's life is subliminal.
T0 read the whole review...oh, wait -- I just posted the whole review. Okay, so to read more of Callahan's writing, click here.

From Tucker Stone's review of Milligan, Nord & Strain's The Trial of Thor #1:
(Note: This is one verbose, tangential sentence. Take a deep breath before attempting to read it, even if you're not planning on reading it aloud. Trust me, your brain's gonna need the oxygen.)
Although part of Thor's schtick is that he spends his time in a world somewhat removed from our own, where He-Man figures walk around wearing layered outfits mixing Viking/Mongolian Horde/Knights of the Round Table styles while talking about Thor as if they're little girls at a slumber party--seriously, all you need to complete that vision would be footie-pajamas and the line "he's so dreamy too"--Milligan delivers two relatively smart bits of humor amongst the Cary Nord bloodfest to keep the whole ship afloat.
To read the whole review, click here.

Book News, In Brief

Analysts predict that Amazon is approaching an e-book price hike. If the crystal balls are correct, the now normal $9.99 price tag is gonna be raised to $12.50 -- a.k.a. the price of your average trade paperback.

The New Yorker has a new entry for Stuff White People Like: Being able to break into the publishing industry because their rich parents will support them while they work as unpaid interns. While it's weird (and sorta hypocritical) that the publishing world's penchant for wealthy, White privilege is being taken to task in one of the world's wealthiest, Whitest magazines, at least it's finally being taken to task.

You know that expression, 'Those who can't do, teach'? That sh*t must be a yoga mantra in the Hollywood hills. First there's TV starlet Jennifer Love Hewitt. Less than a year after calling off her engagement to Scottish actor, Ross McCall, Hewitt is writing a dating advice book. Then there's 2007's Dad of the Year, Alec Baldwin. Less than two years after he attained internet infamy by repeatedly calling his 11 year old daughter a pig, Baldwin is publishing a parenting book. What's next, a Michael Bay book on subtlety? A Bret Michaels book on dignity?

The first part is cliche, the second part, a miracle: A mom in NC bought her kids some used comic books at their local library fundraiser. One of the books, Batman Confidential #18, contained a scene involving Batgirl and Catwoman wrestling naked (save their masks!) in "Gotham City's Hedonist Society." Okay, so that's pretty much par for the course, right? But here's where it gets good. Instead of calling the police or her priest or -- heaven forbid -- FOX News, mom called the library and asked them to screen the books they're selling to kids a little more carefully. Yes, you read that right. There was no book burning, no grandstanding, and no lawsuit seeking mental damages. There was just a reasonable response from a rightfully concerned parent. Like I said, a miracle.
(Thanks to Journalista! for the tip.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Go, Look: Alltop News

This is an all points bulletin to all our fellow news fiends: Check out It's a not-so-new news feed aggregator which actually breaks the headlines/blog posts/newspaper articles down into themed sub-sections for you. Of particular note to Inkwell Irregulars will be Alltop's Book News page and Writing News page...and judging from the wtf spelling in our comments section, their Wine News page.

Adaptation News
(for those of you who just like to watch)

My gift to you: The trailer for The Pacific, HBO's East Coast follow-up to the jaw-droppingly great WW2 mini-series, Band of Brothers. As the new series doesn't air until 2010, you have more than enough time to check out the books that inspired it: With the Old Breed by Eugene Sledge and Hamlet for My Pillow by Robert Leckie.

Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt's gift to you: A 23 minute film version of Elmore Leonard's short story, Sparks. The film stars the voluptuously bodied, cupie doll-faced, Carla Gugino. Here's a bit of trivia for the trainspotters out there: Gordon-Levitt recently starred in the full-length Leonard adaptation, Killshot, while Gugino did an entire TV season as Out of Sight's female protagonist, Karen Sisco. That's pedigree, y'all! Sparks' teensy, tiny trailer can be viewed here.

Tuesday's Tips for Flailing Writers

1. No more internet until you've finished your homework!
In 'Research Part 1', stresses the importance -- nay, the necessity -- of relentless research. An excerpt:
What does a story that hasn't been researched look like? Generally, it'll take place in a generic world that seems vaguely familiar to two or three settings from popular movies or books you've read. The characters will seem shallow and inconsistent, and as a reader, you just won't care about them, no matter how cool the situations they find themselves in. And not doing your research makes it hard on the writer, too. You might get off to a blazing start, but somewhere in the middle, find yourself stuck in a poorly conceived plot point. Chances that you'll abandon the project are very high. This all could have been avoided if you'd have done the work up front.
Click here to read.

2. It's at least somewhat about the Benjamins.
Valerie D'Orazio has a funny piece up on Comixology titled, 'You Have to Get Paid: Lessons in Freelancing'. My favorite of her many 'Freelancer Mistakes'? Number two: "We are all just friends here working towards something awesome." An excerpt:
In my case, the client and I shared certain hippy-dippy viewpoints on life like "going with the flow" and "universal awakening for the betterment of mankind." Screw contracts: did the ENERGY feel right? Whenever I talked payment with this client, the energy was decidedly "low." Because it's materialism, man. There are things more important than money. It will all sort itself out by the wisdom of the planet. I honestly believed that anyone that enlightened couldn't possibly back out of payment – why bring the vibe down by talking dollars and cents? Which, I realize, put me in the John Locke incredibly gullible category. At least I didn't donate a kidney.
Click here to read.

3. Location, location, location hypnosis.
This last article, 'Location is Key in Novels, Neighborhoods', comes courtesy of Julia Keller and the LATimes. It's about the semi-hypnotic trick of using recognizable place names to better engage your readers. It's a neat idea and a well-written article, but I really just wanted to share this totally-creepy-yet-I-think-I'm-gonna-try-this-is-in-the-bookstore sales technique that Keller uses to open the piece:
Salesmen have a trick. It's a well-known trick, but even though you know it's coming, it really works: They use your name over and over again in their spiel. Hearing your name operates as a sort of verbal aphrodisiac. Ever seen a cat's reaction when a soft-fingered person slides an index finger across that continental divide that runs down the feline back? The closing of the eyes, the satisfied purr, the blissed-out arch of the spine? Hearing your name repeated ("I'm just sure, Julia, that you're going to love our new Super-Deluxe vacuum, because, Julia, a person with your taste and sophistication, Julia, would settle for nothing less, don't you agree, Julia?") Come to think of it, I'll take three.
Click here to read.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Recommended Viewing: Japan's 'Text' Books

While you're wasting time Tweeting about about your cat, inspired and industrious Japanese women are two-finger typing entire novels on their cell phones. In this three minute piece, CBS News chronicles the (undoubtedly exaggerated) trend.

The Monday Menagerie: Anti-Censorship Art

I'm not naive. I know that anti-censorship art is only ever appreciated by an anti-censorship audience, and that highlighting it on a bookstore blog is a classic case of 'preaching to the converted.' After all, the fears and beliefs of the pro-censorship crowd are far too complicated and heartfelt to ever be swayed by a cheeky piece of pop art, no matter how eye-catching it is. Think about it. Have you ever seen a big, black bar placed over a pair of boobs in such a way that caused you to think, 'Hmn, maybe I've been wrong. Maybe the naked human figure should be shrouded in secrecy and shame.'? Hells no. Still, the pro-censorship crowd gets velvet paintings of The Last Supper. It's only fair that we get these.

This is a button we used to sell in our store. They were so popular, we went through a small basket of them in less than a month. It wasn't until we were preparing the re-order that we realized they weren't actually selling. They were being stolen. To quote Inkwell Michelle, "Free speech isn't free, people!"

Here's the cover to Shahriar Mandanipour's recently released, Censoring An Iranian Love Story. The art was done by a fella named Peter Mendelsund (who also did the covers to Vertical's re-issues of the Black Jack books -- reviewed here). Although sales have been slim for this book in our store, the cover gets remarked upon by almost everyone who picks it up. Via.

I give full credit to opionaid for finding this Polish poster from Amnesty International. The first time I saw it on their site, I thought, 'What a brilliant blending of art and application!' Six months later, I'm still just as impressed. Duct tape truly is the ninth art.

eMediaWire reports, "R. Lloyd Ming's sculpture, made for his current solo art show, is called 'True Enlightenment Deferred'. It is a Buddha statue meditating in front of neon Playboy Bunny logo and it is meant to be a commentary on the censorship in China, particularly the censorship of pornography." Mark my words: Some savvy publisher is gonna snap this up for a book cover -- soon. When they do, I expect some sort of shout-out in the 'Acknowledgments' section. Or a t-shirt.

Book News, In Brief

On a controversy-courting scale ranging from 'Lady Gaga music video' to 'FOX News pundit discussing affirmative action,' I'd rank The Guardian UK's recent blog post, Can Women Write About Sex?, smack dab in the middle.

Entertainment Weekly gets all catty as they chart The 14 Worst Celebrity Memoir Titles. While I agree with their inclusion of Roger Moore's pretentious pun, My Word Is Bond, I think that RuPual's Lettin It All Hang Out is actually pretty funny. And true.

Speaking of catty, what sort of cantankerous a**hole complains about the curating at The Anne Frank Museum? Me! In a move that can only be accompanied by an exaggerated, "Finally!" the Netherlands' Anne Frank House Museum has -- at long last -- decided to permanently display Frank's actual diary. Quick question: What, if not the diary, have they been charging tourists to look at all this time?

J.D. Salinger is in need of a li'l positive PR. Earlier this month, the agoraphobic author found himself in the unpopular position of trying to copyright his character,* Holden Caulfield. Then, this past weekend, The NYTimes ran an article claiming that today's young readers find the Catcher In The Rye protagonist to be a preppy b*tch. Can't a brother catch a break?
*In the age of anti-DRM and pro-re-mixing, no less! WWCDD? What would Cory Doctorow do?