Posts Tagged ‘violent’

The Walking Dead Compendium Vol. 1

December 5, 2012

Title: The Walking Dead Compendium (Vol.1 issues 1-48)

Author: Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn

Genre: horror, comic

Publisher: Image Comics

Publication Date: 2009

Pages: 1088

Geographic Setting: Georgia

Time Period: Post Apocalyptic

Series: yes- Walking Dead

Summary: Officer Rick Grimes and his family, as well as a rag-tag group of refugees, have to survive in a zombie infested world.

Subject Headings: zombie apocalypse

Appeal Terms: tense, suspenseful, dystopian world, horrific, supernatural, comic to tv show, survival, graphic, detailed, post-apocalyptic, zombies, bloody, atmospheric, character centered, dark, gritty, violent.

My Three: suspenseful, horrific, survival

Similar Fiction:

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks (Crown:NewYork, 2006)
A Survivor-eye’s view of the conflict between zombies and humans. If you want a book that is a cross between fiction and nonfiction, and has a touch of history, this is one to try.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith (Quirk Books, 2009)
The Jane Austen classic with a twist. For those who want to try something different when moving away from the tried and true.

Zombie, Ohio by Scott Kenemore (Skyhorse, 2011)
Told from the zombie’s point of view, Peter Mellor, a college professor, tries to solve his own murder. Interesting because the main character can still pass for human.

Similar Nonfiction:

So Now You’re a Zombie: A Handbook for the Newly Undead by John Austin (Chicago Review Press, 2010)
Like the title says, this is a guide to being a zombie. Not meant to be taken seriously, but could be a nice reference book.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies! A Book of Zombie Christmas Carols by Michael P. Spradlin (William Morrow Publishing, 2009)
A spoof of favorite Christmas songs filled with zombies and other horrific bits. If you liked Nightmare Before Christmas, try this one for giggles.

The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks (Three Rivers Press, 2003)
What started out as the basis of an SNL skit turned into a fully comprehensive guide to surviving a zombie attack. Deadpan humor and extremely detailed. Bonus points that this is written by Mel Brooks’ son.

Name: Jennifer

King Leopold’s Ghost

November 6, 2012

King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa By: Adam HochschildAuthor: Hochschild, Adam

 Title: King Leopold’s Ghost

 Genre: Nonfiction

 Publication Date: 1998

 Number of Pages: 366

 Geographical Setting: Europe and Africa

 Time Period:  1500’s -1800’s

 Series: N/A

 

Plot Summary: When the egocentric Belgian king Leopold II meets writer, explorer and businessman Henry Morton Stanley in 1871, result is disastrous and with deep consequences. Their common plans and collaboration begin the story of the biggest genocide of the 19th century, which has been forgotten too early, is too shameful for modern Western Europeans, and is not studied enough. King Leopold’s dream of owning his own colony in Africa is the perfect fulfillment for a megalomaniac who seeks land nearly seventy-six times bigger then his own country. Ironically, because of his reputation as a modern philanthropist and humanitarian, he colonized the Congo in 1880’s with help of Henry Morton Stanley, and all this without ever visiting Africa. Congo became his territory of exploration after looking for years for land that he could rule from distant Europe. Under the guise of civilizing the Congo’s people, he tortured, killed and ordained its inhabitants into forced labor and modern slavery. His brutal regime killed thousands. Because of travelers, missionaries, and a few individuals who witnessed Leopold’s tyranny, and their efforts to expose this genocide, they initiated the first human right movement of twentieth century. Hochschild’s book is one of the best researched documents of the cruel history of European colonization in nineteenth century Africa.

 Subject Headings: Congo, Africa, 19th and 20th century history, Colonization, Europe, Slavery, Forced Labor, Human rights movements, Belgium.

 Appeal: intense; 19th century genocide; destructive egocentrism; informative and significant part of the history; detailed research of colonial times; unknown Western European history; densely written; engrossing; violent portray of forced labor and modern slavery; tragic.

 Three Terms for Book: deeply researched, shocking tragedy, and chilling reminder of a forgotten history.

 

Relevant Nonfiction Works and Authors:

  1. Jeal,      Tim, Stanley: the Impossible Life of      Africa’s Greatest Explorer –       new perspective supported by newly opened family archives on the      writer and imperialist who first explored and ruled Africa’s Congo,      together with King Leopold of Belgium. Sharp and detailed new biography      portraying Henry Morton Stanley as an undervalued explorer.
  2. Pakenham,      Thomas, The Scramble for Africa: the      White Man’s Conquest of the Dark Continent from 1876-1912 – an      excellent study of the colonization and partition of African territory in      the 1800s between six European rulers: Belgium,      Britain, France, Germany,      Italy and Portugal.
  3. Vanthemsche,      Guy, Belgium and the Congo      1885-1980 – a rare overview on the effects of colonialism in Africa and in its mother country.  Also addresses Belgium’s diplomacy and      politics, in addition to providing a better understanding of both      countries pasts.

 

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

 

  1. Sienkiewicz,      Henryk, In Desert and Wilderness      – written around a hundred years ago, the book is about two European      children, the kids of diplomats living in 1900’s Egypt.      It’s an adventurous, compelling story by a Nobel Prize winner that takes      us back in colonial times, often with stereotypical points of view from a      century ago; however, the characters are of strong moral and ethical      principles.
  2. Galbraith,      Douglas, The Rising Sun – in      this work of Historical Fiction, the author explores an expedition of      Scottish ships sent to establish a colony in Central America, later known      as Panama.      Vivid, descriptive, and adventurous.
  3. Kingsolver,      Barbara, The Poisonwood Bible – an      evangelical Baptist missionary from Georgia      brings his wife and four daughters to live in the Belgian       Congo in 1959. An insightful and compassionate view of the      lives of both white and indigenous cultures in the heart of Africa.

 

 

Heart-Shaped Box

October 31, 2012

Heart-Shaped Box Book CoverTitle: Heart-Shaped Box

Author: Hill, Joe

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 374

Geographical Setting: New York, Florida, Louisiana, Georgia

Time Period: Present Day/Contemporary

Plot Summary:  In this chilling tale that should be read with all the lights on, aging rock star Judas Coyne is no longer touring and releasing album. Instead he spends his time dating Goth chicks, such as his current lady Georgia, and expanding his bizarre, macabre collection of artifacts including a witch’s confession and a snuff film.  So when his assistant Danny mentions an auction for the suit of a dead man that comes with a ghost, Judas is hooked and must have it.  But when the suit arrives, danger and chilling nightmares enter Judas’ life.  He begins to see the dead man everywhere swinging a deadly razor from a chain or rocking in a Shaker chair.  Judas cannot escape the ghost’s hypnotizing presence or the haunting words about taking “a ride on the nightroad.”  It turns out the ghost has a link to Judas’ past and it is out for revenge of the deadliest kind.  As the terror and sense of dread builds, Judas and Georgia are eventually forced to hit the road to face their pasts and solve the mystery surrounding the dead man to avoid the dreaded “nightroad.”  Winner of the Bram Stoker Award, it is a horror novel reminiscent of your favorite classic ghost stories but with a contemporary feel.  You will be wary with each turn of the page as the uneasy, menacing atmosphere builds throughout the story until its satisfying conclusion.  This is a great novel for both newcomers and seasoned veterans of the horror genre, and will have you rooting for its flawed, compelling characters to triumph over evil.

Subject Headings: Ghost stories, Rock Musicians, Suspense Fiction, Supernatural, Paranormal Phenomena, Apparitions, Men/Women Relations, Life after death

Appeal:  builds in intensity, atmospheric, chilling, suspenseful, menacing atmosphere, flawed characters, plot twists, well-crafted, uneasy mood, character-driven, creepy, dangerous, haunting, macabre, sense of dread, compelling, violent, engaging characters, foreboding, vivid storyline, descriptive

Three Most Relevant Appeal Terms: Creepy, Flawed Characters, Suspenseful

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre by H.P. Lovecraft

Horror fans and novices can enjoy this classic collection of ghostly stories from a pioneer of the genre.  Here are 16 classic tales to chill the bones and haunt your dreams, and are just as menacing and creepy as The Heart-Shaped Box.

Christine by Stephen King

Go from haunted suit to a haunted car with this classic novel by Stephen King. Written by Joe Hill’s father, here is a similarly compelling and suspenseful horror novel where teen Arnie Cunningham falls in love with a 1958 Plymouth car dubbed “Christine.”  This car is not as simple as it seems, and it starts to haunt and endanger Arnie as well as those around him.  With Christine, you can get to know the work of Stephen King to whom Heart-Shaped Box was dedicated.

Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson

A horror story that also has hypnotism and a similar mood, Tom Wallace mockingly agrees to be hypnotized at his brother-in-law’s party.  But when Tom awakens from the hypnotism, he discovers that he can hear the thoughts of those around him.  Even more compelling and terrifying, through this new ability he receives a message from beyond the grave that leads Tom onto a dangerous, creepy path in order to solve the message.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Crap I bought on eBay: 101 Crazy Bizarre, Seriously Weird, Ridiculously Raunchy Items Exposed by Cary McNeal and Beverly L. Jenkins

A great book for those fascinated by the macabre collection of character Judas Coyne.  The book highlights 101 of the craziest things actually bought on eBay by the authors.  Enjoy a mixture of laughter and shock as you browse these real-life items.

The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, Mick Mars and Vince Neil

Get to know the crazy rock n’ roll world of Judas Coyne with this tell-all book about 80’s heavy metal group Motley Crue.  Written by member of the band with the help of music writer Neil Strauss, this book reveals the tours, drugs and alcohol, rock music and sex.  A fun glimpse into a crazy rocker’s world.

Hidden Depths: The Story of Hypnosis by Robin Waterfield

Hypnosis was featured throughout the novel, and with this book you can become more familiar with it.  You will get to know the history, practice and modern uses of this controversial field.

Name: Margita Lidaka

Are You Afraid Of The Dark?

October 3, 2012

Author: Sidney Sheldon

Title: Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Genre: Suspense

Publication Date: 2004

Number of Pages: 337

Geographical Setting: Many international cities including Berlin, Paris, and mainly Manhattan

Time Period: Modern times; 2004?

Plot Summary: A series of suspicious murders wracks the scientific world. Four murders occur within hours of each other, and upon further investigation, it is found that all these murders are linked through the ultra-secret, super high powered think-tank Kingsley International Group. Two widows of the murdered scientists meet in Manhattan with the head of KIG to beg him for assistance in finding their husbands’ killer, and he promises he will. Yet the longer they stay in New York, the more terrifying their lives become as multiple murder attempts are made on both their lives. Scared for their lives and not knowing who to trust, the widows begin a death defying adventure to uncover the secrets of their husbands’ deaths, and who is behind KIG.

Subject Headings: Widows, Think Tanks, Environmental Disasters, Weather Control, Murder, Attempted Murder, Escapes, Conspiracies, International Intrigue, Spy Stories, Romantic Suspense, Suspense.

Appeal: Plot Driven, Suspenseful, Urban, Violent, Dangerous, Foreboding, Paranoid, Romantic, Murderous, Evil, Thrilling, Fast-paced

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Plot Driven, Suspenseful, Romantic

Similar fiction authors and works:

Brown, Dan. The Lost Symbol When symbologist Robert Langdon discovers his friend has been abducted, he is out to solve the mystery and bring her to safety. This story is full of intricate plot twists and conspiracies that keep the reader guessing. Readers who liked the pacing and the conspiracy aspects of AYAOTD will enjoy this read.

Brown, Sandra. Lethal Like Are You Afraid of the Dark?  Lethal centers around two widows who are previously unaware of their husbands’ involvements in shady dealings. It is also fast paced and intricately plotted, with many twists and shocking revelations to keep the reader begging to know what happens.

Clark, Mary Higgins. Before I Say Goodbye This story deals with a corrupt business venture, similar to the corruption in Are you Afraid of the Dark?  It is suspenseful and plot driven, and takes place in New York City. There are also romantic aspects of this novel, although not as heavily as in AYAOTD.

Similar nonfiction authors and works:

King, David. Death in the city of light: the serial killer of occupied Paris Readers who enjoyed discovering who the killers were, and trying to work along with the plot twists, will enjoy this true crime. This would also be a good pick for readers who enjoyed the exotic locales as it is set in Paris.

Owen, David. The conundrum: how scientific innovation, increased efficiency, and good intentions can make our energy and climate problems worse Readers who enjoyed the aspects of environmental technology and climatology will enjoy this title.

Pooley, Eric. The climate war: true believers, power brokers, and the eleventh-hour fight to save the earth   Readers who enjoyed the big business and think tank aspects of this story as it relates to environmental well being, and the conspiracy theory aspects, might enjoy this title.

Mama Black Widow

August 15, 2012

Author:  Iceberg Slim

Title: Mama Black Widow: A Novel

Genre: African-American, Urban Lit, GLBTQ

Publisher/Publication Date:  Old School Books, 1998

Number of Pages:  240

Geographical Setting:  Southside Chicago

Time Period:  1930s-1970s

Plot Summary:  Mama Black Widow tells the tragic tale of Otis Tilson, a 40-year-old gay drag queen living on Chicago’s south side during the racially turbulent 70s.  Much of the novel is told in a realistic way by Otis about how his family moved to Chicago from the south in the 1930s, and the hard times they had to endure from then on.  Most of the novel is spent examining Otis’s mother “mama,” a vile, manipulative, downright evil woman who basically destroys every member of the Tilson family.  She drives her husband away, coerced one of her daughters into prostitution, and a lot of innocent people suffer greatly by her hands.  The author of this novel, Iceberg Slim (former pimp) writes in a way that is both shocking and insightful.  The language is often blunt, candid, and very, very offensive.  Sex scenes are described in explicit detail, and tone often changes from jovial to deadly serious.  Issues such as integration, trade unions, Chicago’s underground gay scene, police brutality, and hatred for the white man are discussed at length throughout the novel.  Slim even admits in the introduction that he is not the greatest writer, but he writes for the common people, and “tells it like it is.”

Subject Headings: Chicago (Southside)–Police (Brutality)–House of Corrections–Plantations–Trade Unions–Black Power–Bars (Gay)–Drag Queens–Cross-dressing–GLBTQ–Pimps–Drugs–Guns–Prostitution–Religion–False Preachers–Sex–Erotica–Rape–Pedophiles–Martin Luther King, Jr.–Street Cars–The El

Appeal: Realistic, Shocking, Character-Driven, Blunt, Candid, Erotic, Frantic, Intense, Dramatic, Serious, Political, Steamy, Graphic, Comical, Gut-Wrenching, Tragic, Sad, GLBTQ, Sexy

3 Appeal terms that best describe this book:  Serious, Steamy, Graphic

3 Similar Non-Fiction works and authors:

Soul on Ice, Eldridge Cleaver

This non-fiction memoir by Eldridge Cleaver will appeal to Iceberg Slim fans for its ability to shock, outrage, and question the readers’ ideas of what it means to be black in America.  His memoir is both sincere, raw, and very engaging.  He says at one point, “I’m perfectly aware that I’m in prison, that I’ve been a rapist, and that I have a higher Uneducation.”  Cleaver made indeed be too offensive to some, but he always savagely honest.  He tells the truth and he knows it.

Manchild in the Promised Land, Claude Brown

Claude Brown is a young, streetwise criminal growing up in Harlem in the 1940s and 50s.  This novel does an excellent job of describing northern black ghettos in New York in a turbulent, thrilling way.  Everything from pimps, drugs, street vendors, local shop owners, police brutality, gangs, sex and violence, and the gay underground are discussed in this book.  This book is however, quite inspiring and affirmative because Claude Brown is one of the lucky few who “made it” in this brutal world.

Out and Proud in Chicago: An Overview of the City’s Gay Community,  Tracy Baim

This handy reference book guides the reader through Chicago’s long and rich history of the gay community.  Those interested in Slim’s descriptive scenes of obscure bars and drag clubs will enjoy the multiple photographs presented within these pages (both in color and black & white).  The book draws on many scholarly, historical, and journalistic sources and covers time periods from pre- WWI to WWII-1960s, and 1970s to the present day.

3 Similar Fiction works and authors:

Blow Your Mind, Eric Pete

The description of the book reads,”In this erotic novel of sex and revenge, Eric Pete takes the consequences of dark sexual fantasies one step further.”  This story is about Tanner Coleman, his wife Bianca, and her wild sister, pumpkin.  When a man named Henry shows up and blackmailed Tanner, their lives are changed forever in a truly twisted way.  Not for the squeamish, this hardcore erotic, steamy, violent novel will appeal to Slim fans for its challenging dialogue, absurd situations, and the pessimistic world view that “we all die, and it will probably be sooner rather than later.”  Very popular!

Drag Queen, Robert Rodi

Considering the titles mentioned above, Rodi’s novel Drag Queen is a bit more light-hearted and comical, but also very engaging.  One review describes it as “The Parent Trap meets Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert.”  Gay attorney Mitchell Sayer has just found out from his mother that he has an identical twin, who happens to live not far from him in Northern Chicago.  The thing is, Mitchell’s brother is now named “Kitten Kaboodle,” gown-wearing, stillet0 strutting star of Tam-Tam’s “All-girl” review.  Furious, Mitchell tries to force Kitten into “the real world,” but Kitten feels she has a few lessons to teach as well.  Comical, insightful, and full of the Chicago landmarks Slim famously paints throughout his books.

Last Exit to Brooklyn, Hubert Selby, Jr.

This graphic, brutally raw novel of characters living in Brooklyn during the 60s and 70s examines the anger and rage of many diverse individuals in a time where justice seemed non-existent.  Considered a classic of modern American writing, this book, as Slim would describe it, “tells it like it is.”  There are crooks, hoodlums, pimps, prostitutes, drag queens, gay men and women, police riots, and strikes galore.  Gritty and serious, blunt and brutally honest.  Truly essential.

300

August 8, 2012

300

August 8, 2012

300

Author: Frank Miller

Title: 300

Genre: Historical Graphic Novel

Publication Date: 1999

Number of Pages: 88

Geographical Setting: Sparta

Time Period: Ancient Greece

Plot Summary: This is a historical fiction graphic novel which tells the tale of the brave Spartan 300. Led by their King, Leonidas, they fought alone against the invading Persian army. The Persians led by Xerxes, numbering over a hundred-thousand strong, are repelled at the battle of Thermopylae by the Spartan 300. Brilliant illustrations abound in this epic graphic novel.

Subject Headings: Ancient Greece – Graphic Novel; Sparta — Graphic Novel; Historical– Fiction; War – Graphic Novel

Appeal: Bloody, Historical, Thrilling, Action, Diabolical, Dangerous, Dark, War-torn, Suspenseful, Brilliant, Fast-Paced, Artistic

Three appeal terms:  Bloody, Historical, Dark

Three fiction read-alikes:

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore

This graphic novel takes place in a post-apocalyptic totalitarian England. It follows a man donned in a Guy Fawkes mask that uses terrorist style attacks to bring down a regime that holds the nation hostage. It has themes of freedom and the loss of one’s identity.

Kick-Ass by Mark Millar

This graphic novel follows Dave Lizewski, a teen-ager, who decides to become an actual super-hero. Go with Dave on his crazy adventures as he turns into the hero Kick-Ass and teams up with vigilantes Big Daddy and Hit Girl as they try to take down a ruthless-gangster.

The Book of Five Rings: A Graphic Novel by Sean Michael Wilson

This graphic novel is the illustrated adaptation of the great samurai Musashi Miyamoto’s work: The Book of Five Rings. It is a guide, not only of strategy and the samurai way, but also a look into the battles that Musashi himself fought.

Three related non-fiction titles:

Complete Maus: A Survivors Tale by Art Spiegelman

This graphic novel is a look at the horrifying holocaust brought about by the Nazi’s in World War II. Following the story of the author’s father, Vladek Speigelman, and his son (author) coping with his father’s story of surviving the holocaust. In the novel the Nazis are drawn as cats and the Jews are mice.

Nevsky by Ben McCool

This graphic novel is the true account of one of Russia’s greatest heroes Alexander Nevsky. It follows his great exploits where he helped to create a Russian nation by defending his country against the Teutonic Knights from the Holy Roman Empire. With his army of mostly ordinary citizens Nevsky defeats the invading knights at the battle of Lake Peipus while greatly out-numbered.

Onwards Towards our Noble Deaths byShigeru Mizuki

This graphic novel is a semi-biographic look at a Japanese infantry unit at the end of World War II. These soldiers were instructed to follow the samurai way and go into battle and die a hero’s death for the greater glory of Japan. Refusal to do this also meant death, what will they do?

– Charles Ford

Watchmen

August 8, 2012

Author:  Alan Moore; illustrated by Dave Gibbons

Title:  Watchmen

Genre:  Graphic Novel, Superhero

Publication Date:  Originally published as a 12 issue comic book miniseries in 1986 – 1987.

Number of Pages:  Complete paperback edition — 408

Geographical Setting:  Various parts of the United States, Vietnam, Antarctica, Mars.

Time Period:  Alternate History 1985; several flashbacks dating back to the 1940’s.

Plot Summary:  In Alan Moore’s groundbreaking and influential graphic novel, masked crime fighters have existed since the 1940’s, and their presence has greatly influenced the outcome of world events.  Thanks to Dr. Manhattan (an atomic being who is also the  only character with actual superpowers), the United States has won the Vietnam War and in the present 1985, Richard Nixon is still president.  Now, the world is on the brink of nuclear war, and someone just murdered Edward Blake, a former superhero and notorious CIA operative known as The Comedian.  As Rorschach, a psychotic vigilante and former member of Watchmen (a later superhero team which included The Comedian, Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan, and Ozymandias) investigates Blake’s murder, he uncovers a plot that could save the world from annihilation, but, at an unimaginable price.  By presenting superheroes with very real and tragic human flaws, Moore deconstructs the superhero genre, and presents the reader with a familiar world that is both rich in detail, and terribly bleak.

Subject Headings:  Heroes — Comic books, strips, etc. ; Assassins — Comic books, strips, etc.; Imaginary histories — Comic books, strips, etc

Appeal:  Compelling, densely written, atmospheric, bleak, contemplative, foreboding, gritty, paranoid, philosophical, sophisticated, strong secondary characters, vivid, well-developed, cinematic, episodic, investigative, layered, multiple plot lines, open-ended, thought-provoking, detailed setting, urban, well-crafted

3 terms that best describe this book:  Character-centered, complex,  multiple point of views

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)  Kick-Ass – Written by Mark Millar; Illustrated by John Romita Jr.

Dave Lizewski is a comic book-obsessed teenager who decides he wants to become a superhero in real life.  Putting on a green costume and calling himself, Kick-Ass, Dave hits the streets.  But, he quickly discovers that the real world has consequences far more frightening and brutally violent, than the than the heroic adventures in his favorite comic books.  Both Kick-Ass and Watchmen deconstruct the superhero genre, and illustrate just how physically and emotionally taxing it is to be a masked crime-fighter in the real world.

2)  The Boys – Written by Garth Ennis; Illustrated by Darick Robertson

In this ongoing and darkly-humored series, superheroes exist in the real world but most of them are corrupt, amoral, and only care about their celebrity status and hedonistic lifestyles.  Their heroic actions, which are staged for the media by a ruthless corporation known as Vought-American, not only result in massive collateral damage, but also puts the very existence of the world at risk.  Because of this, “The Boys,” a super-powered CIA team is charged with monitoring and policing the superhero community.  Again, both Watchmen and The Boys deconstruct the superhero genre by presenting superheroes as deeply flawed and corrupt individuals.

3)  The Dark Knight Returns – Written and illustrated by Frank Miller

In a dystopian future, a sixty-something Bruce Wayne comes out of retirement by putting on the cape and cowl to once again rid Gotham City of crime, corruption, as well as a vicious new gang known as “The Mutants.”  With the aid of a new female Robin, named Carrie Kelly, Batman resurfaces in a world where masked crime-fighters have been outlawed, and the only superhero who is able to legally operate is Superman, a puppet for the Reagan white house.  Both Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns were released around the same time, and have both garnered massive and well-deserved acclaim.  Both also take place in dystopian settings where superheroes have been outlawed, and feature characters who find redemption by coming out of retirement.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1)  Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us about Being Human by Grant Morrison

Groundbreaking comic book author, Grant Morrison, muses on the genre of superheroes and how its characters have become permanent fixtures in our modern-day mythologies.  This is a great companion which examines the role superheroes play in our daily lives.

2)  Minutes to Midnight: Twelve Essays on Watchmen by various authors

Twelve different authors present their observations and analyses of the many plot points, themes, and symbolic imagery of Watchmen.  This makes for an excellent companion to Moore’s graphic novel.

3)  Alan Moore:  Storyteller by Gary Spencer Millidge

Another excellent companion to Watchmen, this book offers an in-depth retrospective of the life and prolific career of comic book author, Alan Moore.  Moore’s creative process is examined, and a behind the scenes look is given of some of his most popular and influential works.

Name:  Vadim Seyfer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuck Rubber Baby

August 8, 2012

Author:  Howard Cruse

Title: Stuck Rubber Baby

Genre: Historical Fiction. Gay Fiction. Graphic Novel

Publisher/Publication Date:  DC Comics, 2010

Number of Pages:  210  (Black & White)

Geographical Setting: The fictional city of Clayfield, in the American South

Time Period:  Late 1950s, early 1960s

Plot Summary:  This is the story of Toland, a homosexual man coming to terms with his sexuality in a time when even greater tensions were being explored in the American deep south, that is, African-American civil rights.  Toland is a complex, apathetic man who is desperately trying to be “normal” by saying that his gay thoughts are “just a phase” and by dating a political activist woman named Ginger.  Toland’s world explores the horrifying issues of the time through intense dialogue, disturbing images, and hateful language expressed by the KKK and the more subtle racism of his family members.  Drawn in a realistic, riveting style, Howard Cruse does a fantastic job of creating a city that the reader can instantly recognize as being in the south, yet is entirely fictional.  Indeed, the entire graphic novel reads as if it were an autobiography of sorts.  Still, despite the complex issues being discussed, the novel finds time to enlighten the reader with jazz and blues facts of the time, contains humor, and is very candid and not didactic when discussing sexual issues.

Subject Headings:  Civil Rights–American South–Inter-racial Relationships–Homosexual Issues–Jim Crow Laws–KKK–Politics–Adoption–Abortion–Lynchings–Jazz–Blues–Gay Bars–Drag Queens–Hammond Organs–Religion–Atheism–Alcoholism

Appeal: Striking, Realistic, Brutal, Warm, Angry, Sympathetic, Complex, Political, Violent, Insightful, Serious, Sad, Soulful, Grim, Candid, Blunt, Intense, Dramatic

3 Appeal terms that best describe this book:  Serious, Candid, Realistic

3 Similar Non-Fiction works and authors:

Fun Home.  Alison Bechdel

This graphic novel is the memoir of Alison Bechdel, popular GLBT author of the comic Dykes to Watch out For.  One can tell Bechdel is a fan of Cruse’s work (she admits so in the introduction to Stuck Rubber Baby), and her style is similar in that her story is reflective, redemptive, and very moving.  Fun Home is the story of Alison coming to terms with her father admitting he is homosexual as well late in his life.  The story is complex, but it is also humorous at times, and very compelling in tone.  A must in GLBT graphic novels, and literature in general.

Heroes of Blues, Jazz, and Country.  Robert Crumb

Those who have read Stuck Rubber Baby will inevitably notice Cruse’s devotion to two things: drawing everything in pain-staking detail, and his obsession with the history of Jazz and Rhythm and Blues music.  Robert Crumb’s drawings have always been drawn in a realistic style as well, and this graphic novel is a fun history of said musicians that many people may not be aware of.  Bios of the musicians are provided as well, along with full color photographs.

Juicy Mother: Celebration.  Jennifer Camper

This collection of  GLBT stories describes itself as “an alternative-to-alternative comics.”  What is most intriguing about this graphic novel is that every contributor is either GLBT, or a person of color.  The stories range for the serious to the silly, including such stories as an Arab Muslim lesbian searching for her identity to a Latina teen’s goofy encounter with aliens.  Both touching and bizarre, comical and insightful, there is a story in this collection that will appeal to all readers!

3 Similar Fiction works and authors:

Strangers in Paradise Pocket Book, Vol. 1.  Terry Moore

Katchoo is a beautiful young woman who is in love with her best friend, Francine.  Then along comes David, who Katchoo falls in love with as well.  What results in a complicated love triangle this is both complex and amusing.  Though not as serious as Cruse’s work, readers will love getting to know these sympathetic characters as the develop and change over time.  And, just when everything seems to be going well, the mob decides to but in!  Truly interesting and leisurely paced like Cruse’s work.

A Single Man.  Christopher Isherwood

Stuck Rubber Baby is told in a flashback format from Toland’s point of view, reminiscing about growing up gay in the American South.  Though this fictional work takes place is a different part of the country, Isherwood’s protagonist George is sympathetic, nice, gay, and leads a surprisingly poignant, yet sad life.  After the death of his partner, George must learn to survive in a world where he a complete outsider, both internally and externally.  Comical and very wry, this examination of what it means to be homosexual in the modern world is incredibly moving.

Tales of the City (#1)  Armistead Maupin

These are the tales of the many denizens of 28 Barbary Lane, some straight, some not, but always hilarious, intricate, and fun.  This is the latest incarnation of the popular serial that later became a popular television event.  The tone is indeed a lot different from Cruse’s work, but the humor and attention to realistic details and colorful characters is there.  Striking and bold, witty and quite entertaining.

 

World War Z

August 1, 2012

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Author:  Max Brooks

Title:  World War Z

Genre:  Horror

Publication Date:  September 12, 2006

Number of Pages:  Hardcover – 342

Geographical Setting:  Many locations throughout the world.

Time Period:  Ten years after the decade long war waged against zombies.

Series:  Technically not part of a series, but Brooks has written other zombie books that are presented as non-fiction.

Plot Summary:  Written in the form of an oral history (identical to that Studs Terkel), Max Brooks’s first novel is composed of first-person accounts of the decade long zombie war, known as World War Z.  Starting in China with the first infected Patient Zero, the book chronicle the virus as it spreads and devastates the globe, nation by nation.  After many mistakes and hard lessons learned, humanity eventually perseveres, but now exists in a world of serious religious, geo-political, and environmental consequences and implications.  Although World War Z is a horror story on the surface, Brooks uses it as a platform to criticize government ineptitude, corporate corruption and human short-sightedness.

Subject Headings:  War, Zombies, Imaginary Wars and Battles — Fiction, Horror Fiction, War Stories

Appeal:  Builds in intensity, compelling, candid, bleak, dangerous, hopeful, nightmare, vivid, recognizable, metaphorical, journalistic, thought-provoking, episodic, explicitly violent.

3 terms that best describe this book:  Multiple points of view, realistic, menacing atmosphere

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)    The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman

This ongoing graphic novel series deals with a group of survivors trying to survive in a world overrun be zombies, or the walking dead.  Both this series and World War Z feature a large cast of characters that exist in a world plagued by zombies.

2)    Rant by Chuck Palahniuk

An oral history of Buster “Rant” Casey, the creator of an urban demolition derby, and the man responsible for the world larges rabies outbreak.  Both novels are written in the form of an oral history, with several different point of views by various colorful characters.  The section of the book which deals with the rabies epidemic is humorously similar to that of a zombie movie.

3)    The Living Dead edited by John Joseph Adams

A collection of short stories by various authors that cover a broad spectrum of zombie fiction.  There are many different versions of the “zombie story” and this collection gives the reader a great idea of what is out there.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1)    American Zombie Gothic: The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Walking Dead in Popular Culture by Kyle William Bishop

A history, as well as analysis and critique of the zombie creature as it exists in today’s popular culture.  This book gives the reader a great look at the origins of this very popular American icon.

2)    The Good War: An Oral History of World War II by Studs Terkel

This Pulitzer Prize-winning collection covers World War II from every possible point of view of those directly and indirectly involved.  World War Z, especially it’s writing style, was heavily influenced by this as well as other works by Terkel.

3)    The Epidemic: A Global History of AIDS by Jonathan Engel

Chronicles the devastation AIDS epidemic and the impact it’s had on our modern world.  A large portion of World War Z is commentary on global pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, and this book gives a thorough overview of the devastating virus.

Name:  Vadim Seyfer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Dies @ the End

August 1, 2012

Author:  David Wong

Title: John Dies @ the End

Genre: Horror

Publisher/Publication Date:  Thomas Dunne Books, New York. 2009

Number of Pages:  377

Geographical Setting:  “Undisclosed Location” in Midwest, United States of America

Time Period:  Modern Day

Series:  First two books of Web-Published novel

Plot Summary:  “Watch out for Molly.  See if she does anything unusual.  There’s something I don’t trust about the way she exploded and then came back from the dead like that.”  Such is the humor of David Wong and his buddy John, who dies at the end.  Dave is a guy in his mid-twenties, working a dreadful job at a video store, when John “accidentally” injects him with the black soy “sauce,” and everything around them goes to hell.  You see, Dave and John know the world’s going to end, and it is up to them to defeat the evil Korrock, a grotesque being from another dimension.  Along the way they recruit nerdy babes and hard-boiled cops, encounter genuinely scary (and original) foes like centipede-men who wear bad wigs, a man who is literally made of cockroaches, giant slugs and jellyfish, and the deadly bratwurst creature that can’t wait to “meat” you.  This is a tale for nerdy guys and the girls who love them, horror movie fanatics, and those who love creepy crawlies, because there are a lot of them.  Told in a style that is both funny and extremely graphic, you’ll be taken aback at how the characters develop over time, and you will care for them all the way to the explosive conclusion.

Subject Headings:  Psychic Powers–Time-Travel–Aliens–Cockroaches–Shadow Men–Bugs (Slugs, Worms)–Meat–Teenagers–Mental Disabilities–Amputation–Las Vegas–Reptiles–Jellyfish–Video-stores–Drug Addiction–Art (Paintings)–Hell–Guns–Explosions–Video Games–Dark Comedy–Romance–Bro-mance

Appeal: Bizarre,Shocking, Graphic, Genuine, Comical, Quirky, Action-Packed, Bloody, Emotional, Character-Driven, Over-the-top Violence, Dark Humor, Manly, Geeky, Blunt, Silly, Intense, Weird

3 Appeal terms that best describe this book:  Comical, Original, Bizarre

3 Similar Non-Fiction works and authors:

A History of Ghosts:  The True Story of Seances, Mediums, Ghosts and Ghostbusters.  Peter H. Akyroyd.

This is a novel about a man (a skeptic) who grew up in a household where Seances were a normal thing, and talking with ghosts was treated like a normal part of everyday life.  That man is Peter Akyroyd, grandfather of the actor Dan Akyroyd, who supposedly based much of his screenplay Ghostbusters on his grandfather’s life.  Did you know “ectoplasm” is something that actually exists?  This funny, insightful novel will appeal to Wong’s fans for its humor, quirkiness, and downright fun family history full of spirits!  Ghosthunters, look no further.

You Might be a Zombie and Other Bad News: Shocking but Utterly True Facts.  By Cracked.com

David Wong is the pseudonym of Jason Pargin, editor-in-chief of Cracked.com (the online humor magazine).  This hilarious novel combines articles from the various authors of the website into nugget-sized “facts,” with a semi-serious journalist tone.  Readers will love these tales that never take themselves too seriously, yet contain actual, researched information that skews societal norms, but, in turn, also defends them.  David Wong would be proud!

Fangoria’s 101 Best Horror Films You’ve Never Seen:  A Celebration of the World’s Most Unheralded Fright Flicks.  Adam Lukeman, Fangoria Magazine.

Simply put, those who truly love horror subscribe to Fangoria magazine.  In fact, most probably came to know about John Dies @ the End because of it.  This handy reference guide contains a plethora of reviews on horror films, comics, video games, music, and books!  This guide contains a fair amount of “Terror-Trivia” that will appeal to fans of Wong’s work, providing geeky insider knowledge into the myriad details that are the horror world.  Both common and obscure horror titles are included.  Not to be missed!

3 Similar Fiction works and authors:

The Best of H.P. Lovecraft:  Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre.  H.P. Lovecraft, August Derleth (editor)

This collection of short stories contains perhaps the “best” stories Lovecraft has to offer (The Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Dunwich Horror, The Shadow Out of Time).  The ancient monster Cthulu is obviously a creature of great influence in David Wong’s work.  These disturbing stories contain dark creatures from other dimensions, insane human beings, devilish animals, and wicked prophecies and blood-thirsty insects.  Deeply moody and always frightening, a bit of dark humor is thrown in from time to time.  Truly for adults only, make sure not to read these before you go to bed.

Knee-Deep in the Dead ( Doom #1)  Dafydd ab Hugh, Brad Linaweaver

This first book in a series based on the popular computer game Doom contains far more depth than one might associate with violent computer games.  You are a marine with a troubled past, and have now just heard things are not going too well on a moon-post created for “mysterious purposes.”  All of a sudden, you hear a terrible noise, inhumane screaming over your radio.  A swarm of creatures, grotesque, devilish, have just emerged from a portal nearby.  Will you survive the inevitable onslaught?  This book is full of insane battles, logic puzzles, and vividly depicted locales told in a fashion quite similar to David Wong’s.  Highly cinematic.

Parasyte (Volume 1)  Hitoshi Iwaaki

“They arrive in silence and darkness. They descend from the skies. They have a hunger for human flesh. They are everywhere. They are parasites, alien creatures who must invade – and take control of – a human host to survive.”  Such is the introduction to Hitoshi Iwaaki’s sprawling sci-fi/horror manga series, Parasyte.  Shin is a typical high school student until he is infected by one of the alien parasites.  Instead of destroying the parasite he instead forms a mutual bond with it and travels about Tokyo, challenging evil beings and humans alike.  Very gritty and graphic, this series also has strong characters, philosophical musings, and fast-paced, unique battles.  Quite unique indeed.