When “Weird Al” Yankovic was recording “Belvedere Cruising” in his home back in the 1970s, he probably never expected that he’d have a coffee-table book about him one day. At least, I would hope not, as that would probably betray a strangely-specific form of narcissism on Al’s part. If Al DID, though, I’d bet he’d expect one as good as Weird Al: The Book, by the AV Club’s Nathan Rabin. Continue reading
Like the movie it captured on the printed page, Howard The Duck (ISBN 0-425-09275-5) has been doomed to ridicule. Unlike the movie, however, far fewer people remember it or know that it ever existed in the first place. This is a true shame. As the popular saying goes, one should not judge a book by its cover, and it can be argued that one should not judge a book by its movie, either.
And why not?
For people of a certain age, it’s almost mind-blowing to think that Cracked is good now. Back when it was a magazine that was a knockoff of MAD, Dan Clowes‘ (a Cracked contributor in the ’80s) description was right: It was “comedy methadone“, for months when MAD wasn’t published. Never that great, but it seemed to fill the need. So, why of all things, would anyone read a book on the history of Cracked? Mark Arnold’s If You’re Cracked, You’re Happy is just that — and it’s surprisingly interesting.
Image via Wikipedia
Codex Seraphinianus is a very, very large book by Luigi Serafini, a neo-Surrealist from Italy. It was written (or, rather, created) in 1981 (or thereabouts), and it’s referenced in Douglas R. Hofstadter‘s Metamagical Themas (a collection of his early 1980s columns for Scientific American).
Question: how do you follow up on two action-packed novellas in which clairvoyant women solve strange cases and leave considerable destruction in their wake?
If you answered “why, you write a full-length novel for those two women and turn the dial on everything up to a ten!” then you are correct. And that’s just what The Dirty Pair Strike Again (ISBN 978-1-59582-101-0; $8.95) is: the first full-length Dirty Pair novel, and the story that kicks it up a notch.
Some people can’t grasp certain concepts. The medium of comics is something that still has a long way to go before being fully understood. Despite the enormous selection and diversity present on bookshelves, in store windows and online, there are still those who have a very close-minded and unfair view of what comics are. Some are merely dismissive of all comics as “kid’s stuff,” while others say anything from it “not being real art” (whatever that means) to it being “utter garbage.” Truthfully, I think there will always be those who just won’t try a comic or a graphic novel out just because of what it is. They’ll literally judge a book by its cover. Hell, they might judge the book without even bothering to look at the cover. If it’s a comic, well, it’s not grown-up enough for them.
The MAD Morality is an odd duck amongst the world of MAD paperbacks. Originally published by the Christian-based Abingdon Press in 1970 and receiving a second paperback edition by Signet in 1972, it’s remembered more as an oddity amongst both MAD and Christian circles than as a serious piece of work. The MAD Morality began life as an essay in The Christian Century, where it received a fair amount of praise for its clever writing and biblical foundations. He later contacted the editors of MAD to ask permission to use their material in a book-length version of the aforementioned essay, where (according to MAD historians) the editors were so amused by the concept that they agreed.
Al Jaffee is one of the most talented cartoonists in the world; not only is he a great artist, but he’s incredibly clever. After all, he’s the guy who not only invented the Fold-In, but has done over 400 of the things. He’s also done a lot of hypothetical inventions for MAD magazine… some of which have made it into the real world, with his name on the patent. He’s 89 years old, and still going strong, despite having an essential tremor in his hand causing him to hold his drawing hand steady with his other hand.
Cover of I Know I Am, But What Are You?
Samantha Bee’s long been one of my favorite Daily Show correspondents… which is more true than you may expect, since she’s been with the show forever. I think the only person on there now who’s been on longer is Jon Stewart himself. Anyway, being a fan of hers, I was excited to learn that she’d written a book. It’s more a memoir than a book of printed routines, though since she’s not really a stand-up, that makes sense.
Cover of Role Models
I’ve known people who don’t really like John Waters. To those people, I can only play the “I accept your lifestyle choice, even if I believe it is wrong” card. I just think he’s great — his films are delightfully trashy, but — and here’s the big thing — they’re WELL-MADE. His writing, too, just speaks to me; his voice comes through with everything he’s written. I suppose it’s a cliche about “he writes like people speak!”, but that’s OK, as it’s not quite true with John Waters. He doesn’t write like PEOPLE speak, he writes like HE speaks; casual but erudite, with a wicked sense of humor that’s dark without really being mean. For him, “freak” isn’t an insult — it’s just an apt description of some people. Nothing’s wrong with it — and, honestly, a lot of times the freaks have it all over the “normals”.