Graphic biographies about famous Western artists

This past spring, the This is… series of graphic biographies about famous Western artists kicked off with a trio of handsome, modestly scaled books on Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, and Jackson Pollock, thereby covering its pop, surrealism, and abstract-expressionism bases in one swift stroke. This fall, This is… ventured into somewhat less predictable terrain with a pair of titles devoted to Paul Gauguin and Francis Bacon. Read the rest

The rise and fall of Vampira, dark goddess of horror

Dig Me, Vampira was like nothing that had yet appeared in television’s brief existence. Premiering on April 30, 1954, it became an instant hit in the Los Angeles area. Then things exploded. By W. Scott Poole.

Incredibly Interesting Authors 002: Jony Ive biographer Leander Kahney

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Leander Kahney has covered Apple for more than a dozen years and has written three popular books about Apple, including Inside Steve’s Brain and The Cult of Mac. His newest book is a biography of Apple's senior VP of design, called Jony Ive: The Genius behind Apple's Greatest Products.

Millions are familiar with Apple's legendary aesthetic. It's what makes their products instantly recognizable, and is synonymous with craft, care, and quality.

And though the design is iconic, few are familiar with the man behind the design: Jonathan Ive, chief designer. Not only has Ive made Apple one of the most valuable companies in the world -- his design has overturned entire industries, from music and mobile phones to PCs and tablets.

Unlike his former boss and creative partner Steve Jobs, Ive shuns the spotlight. Naturally shy and soft-spoken, he lets his work speak for itself. In Jony Ive: The Genius behind Apple's Greatest Products, Kahney offers a gripping and thorough examination of a remarkably creative career and provides insight into the principles underlying Ive's success.

Here's my interview with Leander in the second episode of my new podcast, Incredibly Interesting Authors.

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Terrific new biography of Li'l Abner creator Al Capp

Here's a preview from Michael Schumacher and Denis Kitchen's excellent new biography, Al Capp, A Life to the Contrary.

More than thirty years have passed since Al Capp's death, and he may no longer be a household name. But at the height of his career, his groundbreaking comic strip, Li'l Abner, reached ninety million readers. The strip ran for forty-three years, spawned two movies and a Broadway musical, and originated such expressions as "hogwash" and "double-whammy." Capp himself was a familiar personality on TV and radio; as a satirist, he was frequently compared to Mark Twain.

Though Li'l Abner brought millions joy, the man behind the strip was a complicated and often unpleasant person. A childhood accident cost him a leg -- leading him to art as a means of distinguishing himself. His apprenticeship with Ham Fisher, creator of Joe Palooka, started a twenty-year feud that ended in Fisher's suicide. Capp enjoyed outsized publicity for a cartoonist, but his status abetted sexual misconduct and protected him from the severest repercussions. Late in life, his politics became extremely conservative; he counted Richard Nixon as a friend, and his gift for satire was redirected at targets like John Lennon, Joan Baez, and anti-war protesters on campuses across the country.

With unprecedented access to Capp's archives and a wealth of new material, Michael Schumacher and Denis Kitchen have written a probing biography. Capp's story is one of incredible highs and lows, of popularity and villainy, of success and failure-told here with authority and heart.

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