J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings epic world includes not only elves and trolls but a whole civilization spanning some 37,000 years. Such a vast timeframe involves war and numerous battles. There have been atttempts to sort through these events but never before in a book filled with such a high level of artwork and commentary. Now, we have “The Battles of Tolkien,” by David David, published by Thunder Bay Press. It is both a beautiful and detailed book. It would make a wonder gift and certainly one to consider for Dad on Father’s Day.
The Battle of Unnumbered Tears
This collection of commentary, art, and maps will prove to be insightful and a delight to any Tolkien reader. Each battle has a map and various artist renditions. David Day’s commentary has a sense of authority and enthusiasm that will keep you reading on from battle to battle. By the end of the book, a Tolkien reader will have a greater understanding of the work and an invaluable keepsake.
Glaurung at the Battle of Sudden Flame
David Day is a poet and author who has published over 40 books of poetry, ecology, history, fantasy, mythology and fiction. David Day’s books, for both adults and children, have sold over 4 million copies worldwide and were translated into twenty languages. This work is unofficial and is not authorized by the Tolkien Estate or HarperCollins Publishers. Other Tolkien titles by David Day include “An Atlas of Tolkien,” “A Dictionary of Tolkien,” and “Heroes of Tolkien.”
The Elven City of Tirion
“The Battles of Tolkien” is a 256-page flexibound. For more details, and how to purchase, visit Thunder Bay Press right here.
Image Comics reports that, in order to keep up with overwhelming customer demand, it is sending SEVEN TO ETERNITY #1, written by Rick Remender, drawn by Jerome Opeña, and colored by Matt Hollingsworth, back for a second printing on the same day as the issue’s release. And that makes total sense. This is the just the sort of quirky, weird, action-packed comic that will excite many readers. This is the tale of Adam Osidis, one reluctant hero confronting, The Mud King, one scary evil ruler. Both characters are up for a fight–or perhaps a discreet understanding of some sort.
Welcome to the kingdom of Zhal, ruled by The Mud King, officially known as The God of Whispers. How this works is left sort of mysterious. Part of it has to do with The Mud King having cast a spell on all of the kingdom’s inhabitants. Much weighs upon whether or not someone will take up The Mud King’s offer, whatever that may be. Under no circumstances would Adam’s father bend his knee and accept any offer from The Mud King. That did not work out so well for Zebadiah Osidis. There is a whole village in exile hiding in the mountains because of Zebadiah Osidis’s defiance. So, maybe Adam can figure something out.
This is definitely one of those big deal titles right up there with the likes of Jonathan Hickman’s celebrated Image Comics series, EAST OF WEST. This new breakout hit reunites the creative team behind Uncanny X-Force. You have all the depth and texture of a story you can really sink your teeth into. There is so much referred to and implied here to keep a series roaring for years. That said, we have a steady and compelling narrative unfolding. We’re in good hands with Adam, our reluctant yet cunning young hero.
SEVEN TO ETERNITY #1 is available as of September 21st. For more details, visit Image Comics right here.
The Chronicles of Era: Whispers of Redemption (Book 1) by Scott B Henderson
The first thing that will impress you about this comic is the beautifully rendered work, finely detailed and full of energy. “The Chronicles of Era” is Scott B. Henderson‘s visionary epic, the work he’s likely most proud of, I would imagine, and he should be. Whether or not you’re a fan of sci-fi/fantasy, there’s much to enjoy here. We have a striking hero, Seth, a young guy with a distinctive swagger. When your main character comes across as alive and interesting, you’re off to a very good start.
A dream within a dream?
Henderson has a relatively rigid style that actually works well here to convey a sense of urgency. This is a harsh brave new world, a fantasy akin to the work of George R. R. Martin. Gods from a different time and place seem to be lurking in the background. You know, that sort of thing. That said, I was intrigued by the fact that Henderson’s characters, while depicted in a tight manner, have a lot of life to them. And I was impressed with Henderson’s use of some gay subtext. It is one of those blink-and-you-miss-it things. Our hero, Seth, having gotten to know Sid a little better, takes his hand and leads them off to bed.
Let’s Go To Bed…
A blink-and-you-miss-it moment. That makes total sense given that Seth is of a low station with limited freedom in a hostile environment. It mirrors real life and what other art forms can do with revealing only certain bits of information. Seth’s elastic sexuality is in clear view as well as sort of a secret within this book. Besides that one moment, there is nothing else quite like it, although Seth does enjoy wandering about in just a pear of jeans and leather sandals like a teen heartthrob. And the stage does seem to be set for him to become involved with, Caitleth, a beautiful aristocratic young woman. So, while Henderson gives ample time to war games and fantasy worldbuilding, he is also quite capable of evoking the oozing sexuality of youth. Henderson proves to be an interesting and insightful storyteller.
Reading “The Chronicles of Era”
Book I covers the first three chapters to this epic fantasy graphic novel under the story arc, “Whispers of Redemption.” For more details, visit Scott B. Henderson right here.
It is high time we talked about goblins. You like goblins, don’t you? The Green Goblin has maligned the good name of these creatures. Take Farlaine the Goblin. He’s a tree-loving shaman! In fact, Farlaine the Goblin is a lovable little guy who seeks out fun and adventure and the main character of this wonderful all-ages comics series.
Farlaine the Goblin books
The creator of this comic wishes to remain in the background. We just know him as, J. Having had a chance to read the first four books in the series, I salute J. Not only that, I congratulate J on a terrific Kickstarter campaign that ends May 18th! Every penny helps when you’re a cartoonist. Check out the KS campaign and join in right here.
Reading Farlaine the Goblin
I get a lot of comics to consider for review. I have read a lot of comics, believe me. What I appreciate about the Farlaine the Goblin series is its determined spirit and engaging whimsy. It is not easy to maintain that jovial tone throughout such an ambitious work as this, comparable to the work of Jeff Smith. Each book in the series follows Farlaine the Goblin as he searches for a forest he can truly call his own. But he will need to go through a number of adventures before he reaches his goal. This is a comic that will easily provide a laugh and lift your spirits. We can always use more of these comics that can be enjoyed by the whole family.
Panel from Farlaine the Goblin
“Farlaine the Goblin ~ Completing the Series” is the Kickstarter campaign in support of completing the 7 volume all-ages comic about a tree goblin shaman trying to find a forest. Books 1-4 have been released. J is embarking upon the remaining volumes, 5-7. Keep up with Farlaine the Goblin right here. And follow Farlaine the Goblin on Facebook right here.
“I Am Legend” by Richard Matheson. Illustration by Henry Chamberlain.
The work of Richard Matheson (1926-2013) is certainly suitable for in-depth analysis. It is through an academic lens that you can plumb such insights as the one about the recurring nemesis in Matheson’s groundbreaking novel, “I Am Legend.” As Charles Hoge describes, in this first survey of its kind, the neighbor-turned-vampire who repeatedly taunts the protagonist is part of a literary tradition dating back hundreds of years. Instead of being hidden away in Bavarian castles, vampires were known to call out their victims from their own village. It is a simple distinction like that which Matheson runs with to create one of the most influential books in pop culture.
It was this seismic shift from monsters in castles to monsters in the suburbs that would change everything and influence everyone from George Romero to Stephen King. Yes, you can thank Richard Matheson for the zombie apocalypse. He essentially invented it with his 1954 horror novel, “I Am Legend.” Well, there’s more to it. And you can dig deeper in this first ever substantial study, “Reading Richard Matheson: A Critical Survey,” edited by Cheyenne Mathews and Janet V. Haedicke, published by Rowman & Littlefield.
The original “I Am Legend” novel is an elegant and tightly written work. Our protagonist, Robert Neville, must figure out, with Sherlockian exactitude, what has brought about a world-wide pandemic of vampires. It is a prime example of work from the first phase of Matheson’s career. The theme here is man as victim of his own environment. By the time of Matheson’s work on the landmark television series, The Twilight Zone, his theme has broadened to man as victim of his own making. Within these two themes, a multitude of work can be examined. It is with this survey that we receive an essential collection of serious thought on a writer who Stephen King has ranked with Poe and Lovecraft.
In a piece that focuses on the noir character of The Twilight Zone, Cheyenne Mathews demonstrates both Matheson’s artistry and how well The Twilight Zone holds up to critical scrutiny. Cheyenne writes: “Through science fiction tropes of time travel, alternate realities, and new technologies, Matheson emphasizes the physical and social displacement that afflicted both men and women during the attempted postwar return to normality.” And, in describing what is considered the most noir Twilight Zone episode, “Night Call,” Mathews writes: “The second act of the episode conflates Elva’s personal anxieties with her social alienation, as she becomes increasingly disconnected from the other characters, who attempt to downplay her distress.” Of course, there is Matheson’s most celebrated TZ episode, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” but, as Mathews makes clear, it is part of a bigger picture. Outside of Rod Serling, who wrote the majority of scripts, Matheson wrote the most episodes and they were all gems.
A man of his time, and ahead of his time, Richard Matheson has secured a place for himself within not only great science fiction, horror, and fantasy, but great fiction in general. Ultimately, Matheson’s work strikes a universal chord. We can explore the specific era he worked in and how he spoke to concerns of postwar paranoia and shifting gender roles; and, like Kafka, we can place him within some of the most eloquent writers on the human condition. Matheson was weary of being labeled a genre writer. Perhaps one of his fellow writers and friends, George Clayton Johnson, summed it up best when he said of Matheson that he was one of the “serious storytellers whose works were artful gems of wisdom fiction.”
“Reading Richard Matheson: A Critical Survey” is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the origins of today’s pop culture at a deeper level and gaining a greater appreciation of the work of Richard Matheson.
“Reading Richard Matheson: A Critical Survey” is a 262-page hardcover published by Rowman & Littlefield.
Inside the “Waxworks,” the 3-D arm of the Design department at Sideshow Collectibles
If you are into pop culture, and who isn’t, then one way or another you know about Sideshow Collectibles. Either you own some, know someone who does, or some other scenario. The fact is that this is the place that makes the premium items from the worlds of superheroes, fantasy, science fiction, and more. You know, replica figures of Indiana Jones, Darth Vader, Poison Ivy, you name it. What this new book makes clear is that items of this caliber are indeed worthy of praise and then some. Welcome to “Inside the Sideshow Studio: A Modern Renaissance Environment,” published by Insight Editions.
For me, personally, I’ve always enjoyed marveling over the various new figures on display at comics conventions. I’m not necessarily a hardcore collector type but, then again, I do find it hard to let go of things. After reading this book, I have a strong desire to just toss a bunch of stuff and make room for one really awesome figure to brighten up a space. Well, at least one. As you’ll see in this grand tour, all the employees at Sideshow Collectibles are encouraged to deck out their work stations and offices with items they hold dear. And, as many will happily tell you, they seem to do best with a certain amount of positive life-affirming clutter. Based upon what I see here, all this clutter is pretty cool and full of style.
Poison Ivy, Premium Format Figure, Sideshow Collectibles
No doubt, this book is an essential addition to whatever Sideshow Collectible item you may already own. And, if you happen to be pretty new to the whole scene, this book may inspire you. Not only is it a inside look at the fun factory but there’s a fair share of industry insights sprinkled about. Plus, there are numerous extras regarding a vast array of figures. You’ll find a number of inserts like the one above of Poison Ivy coming from different vantage points: graphic design, painting, sculpture, and so on. The book is a total treat.
“Inside the Sideshow Studio: A Modern Renaissance Environment” is a 128-page hardcover, all full-color photography, published by Insight Editions. For more details, visit our friends at Insight Editions right here.
First, you need to know how cool this book is. Imagine your favorite late night college radio show. And the deejay is Jason V Brock, the author of this book, “Disorders of Magnitude.” You rely upon Jason to provide insights and intriguing facts as he connects the dots. Good, so far? Well, it gets even better. We’re talking about a multitude of connections, some from on high and some from on low. It’s not easy to categorize it all but Brock manages to collect a lot of essential wisdom and in a very accessible presentation. The college radio analogy is fitting since “Disorders of Magnitude” falls under an academic book category. It is right at home as part of a college course. But it is also the perfect companion for anyone interested in a deeper understanding of where we are today in terms of the entertainment we consume, particularly dark fantasy.
Divided into six parts, with a wide scope of offerings within, the intent is to give order to what might seem at first, like an ooey gooey disorder. How do you reconcile great literature alongside B-movies? In fact, there’s a certain frenetic energy running throughout as Brock maintains a sense of urgency to his prose. And, of course, the numerous chapters here invite picking subjects at random to dive into, with each concise chapter running a few pages. One excellent point of entry is Chapter 14 in Part Three which discusses the formation and evolution of The Group, the science fiction writers in Los Angeles during the ’50s and ’60s that would go on to create work in novels, film, and television, including the iconic and culturally significant, “The Twilight Zone,” television series. This one article alone proves to be an exemplary example of the book as a whole as it navigates through various eras and aspects of culture and entertainment.
“In the beginning is the dream,” states Brock in reference to The Group. They begin, like any band of pioneers, with “the crazy notion that they are somehow different–that they can leave a permanent mark on society, make a difference in the world.” It is this bravado and deep yearning that sustains men like Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, William F. Nolan, George Clayton Johnson, and many others. They look up to two men who lead the way: Ray Bradbury, who is already established; and the firebrand Charles Beaumont destined upon his own unique path. And we keep coming back to The Group as Brock revels in chronicling their lives and provides here many interviews with the key figures on the scene.
Heading back from whence we came, Brock sets the stage with the opening article. “Frankenstein” was published anonymously in 1818 and, with that, the monster of horror and science fiction was unequivocally unleashed. Brock is great with setting up a mood to a time and place. He describes in detail the utterly strange weather conditions that, in no small way, gave rise to “Frankenstein” and other melancholic and moody art and writing. This all came about from a volcano in Indonesia. Its eruption in 1815, the largest ever witnessed in recorded human history, sent plumes of volcanic ash into the skies above around the globe for over a year forever altering life, and artistic sensibility, down below.
We steadily move to another chapter and other great writers in the gothic tradition: Poe, Stevenson, Stoker. Then we jump to another chapter and the next wave exemplified by H.P. Lovecraft and his evocation of the “fear of the unknown.” And after that, we take a significant turn with a chapter devoted to Forrest J Ackerman (1916-2008). Like the activities of The Group, Ackerman figures heavily in Brock’s studies of pop culture. And it only stands to reason given Ackerman’s pivotal role in the scheme of things that, you must keep in mind, touches upon virtually every aspect of pop culture as we know it today: movies, games, television, comics, music, novels, the internet, and our own precious sensibilities.
Ackerman is, indeed, another circle of influence too large to hold in just one chapter and he, like other persons and movements, overlaps into other chapters. Ackerman did quite a lot in his day, including work as a literary agent to some of the greatest writers in science fiction. Taking it all into a whole, you can say that his main achievement was to assign value to, archive, and make accessible the very things so many held dear: the horror movies of childhood; the dazzling science fiction of yesteryear; the growing world of fandom as we’ve come to know it today. It was Ackerman’s comprehensive and energetic role in legitimizing a myriad of elements that contributed to a more egalitarian view on culture in general.
In a very real sense, Brock has taken on the mantle of Forry Ackerman. It is that heartfelt dedication to the things he loves that you will find in this collection of his writings.
“The Grove Nymph” is a delightful new comic by an emerging talent, Jecaro, that will especially appeal to fans of fantasy, particularly Wendy and Richard Pini’s “Elfquest.” It’s a nicely spare drawing style with a direct point of view, one action quickly leads to another. In a manner of moments, you go from two beautiful little nymphs in the woods, sisters Mira and Mari, to an assertion from Mira that she’s bored as hell and wants to interact with the world. It’s a big jump going from no concerns, not even a need for clothes, to deciding to take on the world, but this is what Mira wants and so off she goes.
Readers will appreciate the boldness of our main character, Mira, and the rapidly unfolding narrative. Given that this is a fantasy, full of sprites and goblins, of course, you have a certain pace to adhere to. Hobbits, for example, aren’t your most spontaneous of creatures now, are they? Well, so is the case with the pomegranate sprites, these very twee little things, that bumble and fumble about until Mira steps in.
We make good time in this first issue of a three-part story. We find that Mira has found her way and has found herself a purpose. She takes to it like a duck to water. For all its simplicity and gentle quality, this comic proves to be engaging and well worth following to its conclusion.
You can read Issue One of “The Grove Nymph” now at ComiXology.
A Peter Pan book like you’ve never seen before. This is a sophisticated look for adults. And you’re getting a heads up now in the United States. This beautiful book will be available shortly in the UK and Europe: 30 May 2013. Currently, this book is only available in the UK and Europe. However, Soaring Penguin Press expect to be able to announce a North American edition later this year.
For retailers, keep the following information handy:
Peter Pan by Régis Loisel
Translated by Nicolas Rossert, with Paul Rafferty, Nora Goldberg & Cheryl Anderson
Cover Price: £29.99
Publication Date: 30 May 2013
Format: 336 pages, full colour, hardcover
Rights: UK & European English Print Rights only
Available through Turnaround UK and Diamond Comics UK (Order code: MAY132444)
Before he became Peter Pan, before his arrival to Neverland, he was a boy fighting for survival. Born into the suburbs of harsh, Dickensian London, to an alcoholic mother who leaves him in an almost-orphan state, Peter’s only retreat from reality is the fantastical stories given to him by a friendly neighbour — allowing him to escape temporarily from the darkness of the adult world.
Told in language as strong as his mother’s brandy, Peter’s story is no less intoxicating. While nearly devoid of comfort and compassion, Peter’s world becomes rich in magic. Lost fairies, pirates and sirens form a cast both shocking and strangely familiar — this is J.M Barrie’s Peter Pan story for an adult audience.
For the first time this six-volume bande dessinée series has been translated into English and collected in one hardcover, omnibus graphic novel. Through his emotive and engaging artwork, Loisel offers a unique take on a well-known tale that goes into a grim and dark world; the type of childhood where staying a child is not an option.
About the author: Régis Loisel is widely acknowledged as the first French author to have worked in the fantasy genre in recent decades, his style having become the standard for other European authors working in the genre. He is known best for his work on the best-selling series The Quest of the Time-Bird (La Quete de l’Oiseay du Temps) and his second series Peter Pan. Loisel has also worked with Disney on various animated films such as Mulan and Atlantis.
FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ENGLISH, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE UK, COLLECTING THE ENTIRE 6-VOLUME SERIES THAT’S SOLD OVER 1,000,000 COPIES WORLDWIDE
Visit Soaring Penguin Press at its website HERE and also visit at Facebook.
Harlan Ellison: Dreams With Sharp Teeth is a wonderful look at the man and his work and, as Ellison agrees himself, is the closest you’ll get to know what it’s like to hang out with him. Whatever you may have heard about Harlan Ellison, this is a documentary you need to see. Harlan Ellison has filed numerous lawsuits and I don’t begin to take sides. The documentary doesn’t judge either. But, you most definitely can say, that the overriding legal concern is the rights of the artist and, for that, we can salute Ellison. “Don’t work for free, you should get paid,” is the central message here and it’s a damn good one.
Along with exploring what has contributed to the image of an adversarial loud mouth, the documentary keeps coming back to the work. Each time we get an snippet or expert of something Ellison wrote, like a classic work from “Star Trek” or “The Outer Limits,” we are given reason to want to learn more about the man. And the footage of him speaking with students back in the ’60s about social justice and global warming is insightful. There are hints too as to why Ellison may not have fully secured his place among writers. Some speculate that his personality has gotten in the way. Others worry that, along with his massive number of short stories and longer works, he should have written at least one big sweeping novel.
Any writer that has reached a point of looking back on a body of work is concerned about posterity and so is Harlan Ellison. This documentary goes a long way in clearing the air. Luckily, the DVD also has special features that round things out even further. We have a short movie that lets us see first hand Ellison interacting with an audience that has just seen the documentary and we see a lot of love and there’s another short movie with Ellison and Neil Gaiman. It turns out, these guys go way back to when Gaiman was a journalist and aspiring comics writer. Ellison looks over Gaiman and jokingly says, “You know, there’s something just a little creepy about a guy your age dressing like he’s still in his twenties.” Gaiman gives out a sigh, “I know.”
But the best extra feature is a collection of short movies that has Ellison reading from his work. I will close out with some brief observations about each:
The Glass Teat: This sounds great as a spoken word performance and offers insights similar to Marshall McLuhan, if he was really really angry.
Prince Myshkin, And Hold The Relish: What a delightful mixture of found art and literary criticism. Who knew you could find so many insights into Doestoyevsky and the human condition in the middle of the night at a hot dog stand?
All The Lies That Are My Life: What do you call writers who happen to write science fiction? “Sci Fi writer”? “Fantasy writer”? How about just say, “writer”?
The Silence: From a book of stories to accompany the art of Jacek Yerka. “Your spirit will kneel on the broken glass at the pews.”
The Resurgence Of Miss Ankle-strap Wedgie: A look at old Hollywood being gobbled up by new Hollywood.
The Prowler In The City At The Edge Of The World: A very bloody Jack The Ripper tale to accompany a similar short story by Robert Bloch, writer of “Psycho.” This one is a fine way to end Harlan Ellison’s performance art and leaves you, of course, wanting more.