Tag Archives: Literature

Review: ‘Huck Finn’s Adventures in Underland’


Alterna Comics presents for your consideration, the mini-series, “Huck Finn’s Adventures in Underland.” It is written by Nikola Jajic, with art by Gabriel Peralta and Felipe Gaona, lettering by Peter Simeti, covers by Brian Level. It is 22 pages, full color, for all ages, issues are priced at $1.99. It is an excellent idea for a literary mashup. There is no need for prior reading of Mark Twain or Lewis Carroll or H.P. Lovecraft to enjoy this comic. For some readers, that may come as a disappoint but, for others, they will find this to meet expectations: you have here some weird and strange adventure.

This won’t blow your socks off if you were looking for stimulating literary comparisons. But maybe that’s not the point, really. It is meant for an all ages audience and, in that respect, it does well. And the comic is substantial enough where you can read into it whatever you like. For instance, you can say that Huck attracts the most foul and violent elements in an alternate world.

The inks and pencils by Gabriel Peralta are lively and keep things loose and moving right along. The colors by Felipe Gaona are nice and moody in places and more vibrant in others.

All things considered, this is fine little work and something you can enjoy as a mild amusement or share with the kids. When you think about it, this is a fine gateway to going on and reading works in literature. You can check it out at ComiXology here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Alice in Wonderland, Alterna Comics, Comics Reviews, Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain



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
ISBN 9781908030078
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.


Visit Soaring Penguin Press at its website HERE and also visit at Facebook.

1 Comment

Filed under Comics, European Comics, fantasy, graphic novels, Peter Pan, Régis Loisel, Soaring Penguin


First Issue of "Amazing Stories," April 1926

First Issue of “Amazing Stories,” April 1926

In some respects, the idea of “Amazing Stories” is more engaging than the actual publication. But that would be just looking at things too harshly, wouldn’t it? We are talking about science fiction and that requires a special sort of suspension of disbelief. It can be of the most sophisticated kind, mind you, since quality science fiction can hold its own with any literary form.

“Amazing Stories,” with its strange cover art, was fated to be a strange creature. While the publication had a history of uneven and inconsistent quality, such is human nature. It was a grand experiment and, through the years, it would reach its potential splendidly. Launched in April of 1926 by Hugo Gernsback’s Experimenter Publishing, it sought to combine entertainment with education. Sales fell short of expectations, and within a couple of years, the magazine was set on its checkered path going from one publisher to another. But it would see the greats of science fiction grace its pages, it had the distinction of being the first magazine of its kind, and it helped pave the way for what was to come in the brave new world of sci-fi. As a lasting testament to its pioneer publisher, the prestigous Hugo Awards carry his name and carry on the promise of a unique literary genre.

The new "Amazing Stories"

The new “Amazing Stories”

Comics Grinder salutes the return of “Amazing Stories” after an uncertain future. Steve Davidson has stepped in as the new publisher after the last publisher, Hasbro, allowed the trademarks to lapse. You can keep up with “Amazing Stories” at its blog. You will find there a most beautiful cover for the new issue by Frank Wu. This is his homage to the magazine’s original artist, Frank R. Paul.


Filed under Amazing Stories, Entertainment, Magazines, pop culture, Publications, science fiction


Paul Krassner The Realist

Print Magazine’s Michael Dooley provides a profile on legendary iconoclast, Paul Krassner. If you are looking for the heart and soul of the counterculture in America, the roots of everything from “The Simpsons” to “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,”  then look to Paul Krassner. As editor of “The Realist,” beginning in 1958, Krassner let loose all manner of refined, and unrefined, rebellion from the likes of such talents as Woody Allen, Norman Mailer, Art Spiegelman, Ken Kesey, Joseph Heller, Timothy Leary and S. Clay Wilson.

Dick Guindon The Realist Nov 1962

With a focus on the art of the offensive cartoon in this profile, you are bound to crack up over these vintage cartoons by Dick Guindon, Robert Gross, Sergio Aragones, B. Kliban, Dan O’Neil, Edward Sorel, and many more. You can read all about it here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Imprint, Michael Dooley, Paul Krassner, Political Cartoons, politics, pop culture, Print Magazine, The Realist

Mark Z. Danielewski at Town Hall, Seattle

It was a treat to see Mark Z. Danielewski directing a performance of his marvelous work, “The Fifty Year Sword” here in Seattle at Town Hall this last Sunday, October 28. Much to celebrate as “The Fifty Year Sword” has just become available as an ebook and, get this, as an ibook. And, yes, that’s me with the author himself as he was kind enough to pose for pics during his book signing.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Literature, Mark Z. Danielewski


“A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel,” is as full of delight and mystery as the original book. Hope Larson, known for wonderfully ethereal comics like “Salamander Dream,” “Gray Horses,” and “Chiggers,” has taken the beloved classic work by Madeleine L’engle and honored it by embracing it with a fresh approach. In the hands of Larson, the characters come to life in a timeless yet contemporary way. There is Meg, the brilliant but insecure teen; Charles Wallace her little brother, who acts as her mentor; and Calvin, the trustworthy beau to Meg. A story like this, meant for children but easily enjoyed by adults, requires a healthy leap of faith. We get that right away with Meg. She is presented to us as a lovely and vulnerable being by Larson. In no time at all, we want to know more.

If you’ve read the original book or if you’re new to it, this version of “A Wrinkle in Time,” will delight you. What makes this graphic novel work is the character development that Larson did ahead of working on the book. Throughout, the characters are vibrant without any false notes. We can jump right in and enjoy a style that is both energetic and comforting. Larson’s mastery of the comics medium allows her to be spare when she needs to be and provide complexity with well chosen marks. In a less seasoned hand, the characters could have fallen into the trap of being generic and lifeless. With Larson, the suspension of disbelief is left intact. The only quibble that I would have regards some of the interactions between the characters. At some points, there is a conflict that seems to be abruptly resolved. Maybe that speaks to the flexibility of children.

This is a story about how things seem and about how things really are. A big part of the plot revolves around a daughter’s hunger for her father. How will she find him when there is so much deception in the way? “Daddy abandoned you.” “Daddy is a failure.” “Daddy never cared about you.” Meg must navigate through all of this if she can ever progress. There are many challenges to confront along with her father hunger that reach all the way to her very existence. We are all particles in a delicately balanced field. What to make of that? If Meg can see the deception regarding her father for what it is, she can then move on to seeing the world as it really is. She must trust her senses. She must trust herself. Ultimately, Meg will need to rely on every last fiber of her humanity to get her where she needs to be.

“A Wrinkle in Time” stands today as a very unusual and outspoken work. Essentially, the outspoken stuff is all about putting things in perspective and finding the power of love to help you get there. It is the gentle and very honest philosophy found in this book that has gained it the status of being a banned book in certain schools and libraries. Is there really something controversial to be found here? Well, that depends on one’s level of enlightenment, I suppose. For many of us, it is simply a cherished book and this new graphic novel version is a most welcome adaptation.

“A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel” is published by Farrar Straus Giroux and Margaret Ferguson Books. Visit them here. It is a 392-page hardcover, priced at $19.99 US. Learn more about Madeleine L’Engle and her work here. And visit Hope Larson here.

If you’re in Austin, Texas, on Friday or Saturday, October 26 – 27, stop by and meet Hope Larson at the Austin Books & Comics booth at Wizard World Comic Con. Some press release stuff for you:

Hope Larson Signing

A Wrinkle In Time 

@ Wizard World Austin Books Booth

Friday & Saturday  3 – 6pm  

Hope Larson imageFriday and Saturday we will be joined by Hope Larson, who will have copies of her beautiful graphic novel adaptation of the classic novel A Wrinkle In Time.  We’ll also have copies of her previous works Gray HorsesChiggers, and Mercuryavailable for signing.

Signing times:

Friday the 26th   3 – 6pm

Saturday the 27th   3 – 6pm

Leave a comment

Filed under Comics, graphic novels, Hope Larson


“The Fifty Year Sword,” the novella by Mark Z. Danielewski, seems to be the stuff of urban legend. The book was first published on Halloween 2005, in the Netherlands, with only 1,000 copies printed in English. The following year, another 1,000 copies in English were printed and that was it. Sccores of fans have only heard of it but have not been able to easily get to read it. That changes with the wide release on October 16, 2012. For those familiar with Mr. Danielewski’s work, particularly his “House of Leaves,” they know to expect intriguing play with narrative, words and graphics. And that is exactly what they get with this novella.

Mr. Danielewski is definitely not a writer who just holds with tradition. We can also see that he deeply respects the art of visual storytelling. The elements he incorporates have a sacred quality to them. You’ll be swept up by the ethereal embroidery artwork that intermingles with the text. You’ll also be caught up by the spontaneity: words seem to bubble up and spit out at just the right moment. As a ghost story for adults, this novella feels like Edgar Alan Poe at a poetry slam, just to give you an idea.

The story begins with the adults gathering to do their duty and attend the fiftieth birthday party for cantankerous Belinda Kite, someone they don’t particularly care for. We then shift our focus to the children who will be in attendance, a spooky set of five orphans who are chaperoned by befuddled Chintana and someone only known as, The Social Worker. Finally, we turn our attention to the truly spooky character at the center of it all, The Storyteller, who is inextricably linked to the eponymous sword and to the fate of each partygoer.

Part of the magic here is the word play, from creative spelling down to how the words are presented on the page. The same spirit of “House of Leaves” is here where typography will literary follow what transpires within the story. For those new to Mr. Danielewski, there will be that satisfying “shock of the new.” Some enjoyable new words you’ll find are Chinata’s choices: indacitation, torpididor and annahiliation. Characters here don’t just speak, they “sputstuttersob” or have a “rumbidilling” voice. They don’t simply creep around. They “diminishide.” Here is an example of what can happens to words in this world:

“‘the w  orld there w  as

                                           “‘con  st  antly

“‘sev   er  ed.

This is how it looks on its actual page:

This passage is describing The Forest of Falling Notes which is part of The Storyteller’s journey that he is retelling to the five orphans as they sit in a cramp little parlor. It is dimly lit by five candles that reveal a most curious box with five latches. What is or is not significant about The Storyteller and his story will remain unclear in this absorbing ghost tale that becomes more mysterious, and haunting, to the very end.

“The Fifty Year Sword” is published by Random House. Visit Random House and learn about the special limited edition of “The Fifty Year Sword.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Books, Fiction, Literature, Mark Z. Danielewski, writing


Charles Yu was quite gracious to sit down with me during Comic-Con for this interview. Known for his inventive and hilarious, “How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe,” Mr. Yu talks about his craft, life as a writer, his literay influences and his latest work, “Sorry Please Thank You.” If you enjoy character-driven stories spiked with the right amount of sci-fi and/or social commentary, if you enjoy Kurt Vonnegut and Philip Roth and Douglas Adams, then you will definitely enjoy the work of Charles Yu.

Thanks so much for this interview, Charles! And thanks so much to Random House for arranging it. Enjoy this video interview from Comic-Con 2012:

Visit the Random House site. And pick up your copy of “Sorry Please Thank You.” I will provide my own review of “Sorry Please Thank You” to you later this month.


Filed under Charles Yu, Comic-Con 2012, Random House, science fiction, Time Travel

HUCKLEBERRY FINN Reeks Of The Past In A Most Glorious Way

“Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” reeks of the past. It reeked of the past when it was first published in America in 1885. And it sure as hell reeks of the past today — but in a most glorious way. Mark Twain knew what we he was doing. He was fully engaged in the American scene, warts, bruises, gunshots and all. As I carry around an eReader with me, I am reading more of the books I’ve been meaning to read. This one has been high on my list. Today, being Memorial Day, seems a particularly appropriate time to consider this classic, although any day of the week will do as well.

Upon my reading, I come away with the conclusion that, despite the controversy, Mark Twain’s novel is indeed a landmark work of American fiction and, I’ll go one better, is essential. At this point, it’s hard to imagine it fading into obscurity and yet there are those who continue to try to see that happen. The arguement is that we, as a nation, have moved beyond such issues of race. But that’s really nothing more than an attempt to sweep things under the rug and isn’t the American rug already pretty lumpy from being swept under?

The biggest problem of all for “Huckleberry Finn” is the fact that it is a work of art. You see, a true work of art will always confound the literal-minded. As in life, and as in art, there are no neatly tied up resolutions. No, instead, ambiguity presides. The main character, Huck Finn, does not behave in a systematically heroic fashion. What he does is behave like a boy with a mind, heart and soul of his own. He makes numerous choices, not always the right ones. And, arguably, the other main character, Jim, the runaway slave who Huck has embarked upon a journey with, is not perfect either. Both are products of their time, America circa 1840, and both are individuals in search of freedom as they know it. Twain, the keen social observer, set up the perfect vehicle from which to comment on American life. He knew as well as anyone that the end of the American Civil War had not led to the freedom that African Americans had been promised. What it had led to was the dark era of Jim Crow, nearly a century of systematic racial discrimination from 1876 to 1965.

Mark Twain

Twain maintains an impressive balancing act throughout the novel. The story is told by a thirteen-year-old and yet manages to bring about older insights. It is a story very much of its time, using language of its time, while still transcending it. And he adroitly shifts from broad humor to more poetic passages. There are three main parts to the story. There is the most poignant first part where we find Huck at the hands of his abusive father and his subsequent dreamlike escape on a raft with Jim. Then, after a number of mishaps, we settle into a long burlesque section where Jim and Huck are at the mercy of two con artists. And, finally, the last part finds Huck reunited with Tom Sawyer in a surreal episode where they appear to make an utter mockery of Jim’s plight as a runaway slave complete with torturing him with rats, spiders, snakes and a series of humiliations. This is the part that makes Hemingway have to add a disclaimer to his decree that all American fiction begins with “Huck Finn.” He concludes that the last twelve chapters are not worth a damn — which is rather meaningless. The fact is, taken as a whole, the novel does a fine job of revealing a nation struggling with its own dysfunction.

If anyone was expecting Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn to have a perfect epiphany and, without hesitation or distraction, welcome Jim to his rightful place among humanity, Twain is there to say the reader has another thing coming. If a nation can hardly come to grips with what it has wrought, don’t expect two boys to figure it out. What they will do is mirror their own environment. And, with any luck, maybe they will rise above it because they should before too long. That is Twain’s hope for the characters, for his country, and for his readers. In time, with any luck, maybe we will all rise above what has been wrought because we should before too long.

The fact is that the building of a nation is, and always will be, a wild and wooly affair. There are things that can never be lived down and yet we must carry on. We must carry on because we have no choice but to do so. But to forget, no, that is taking things too far. Just as Twain will not let the reader off the hook when it comes to how two boys will behave, he is not going to make it comfortable regarding how a nation behaves. It should be as clear as day that Huck’s beloved friend, Jim, is not a “nigger,” in any sense of that word and yet Twain uses the term repeatedly as the characters in the book refer to him and to any African American. The word is used by the high and the low, from the most ignorant yokel to the country doctor. Huck uses it matter-of-factly without giving it a second thought. And that’s a huge point in the book. The word stings, it hurts and humiliates. But, if all the grown-ups are using it, then why should Huck question it, right? But, despite the predominant feelings of the time, Huck does question Jim’s state as a slave.

The controversy rages on about whether or not to teach this book in high school. To that problem, I suggest another way of looking at it. What if no one had been around to capture on video the beating of Rodney King? Or any number of acts that have occurred since then? We should think of “Huckleberry Finn,” in one sense, as a master recording of those sort of things, the things we wish would just go away or had just never happened. Instead of attempting to ban Mr. Twain’s book, we should be praising Mr. Twain. For those who think we’re better off with easy answers and forgetting the past, “Huckleberry Finn” is just the sort of book you should consider. As much as this classic is speaking to the past, like any excellent work of art, it clearly speaks to the present and the future.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Fiction, Huckleberry Finn, Literature, Mark Twain, Reviews