Scatter's premise is that the human race will face extinction-grade crises in the future, and that we can learn how to survive them by examining the strategies of species that successfully weathered previous extinction events, and cultures and tribes of humans that have managed to survive their own near-annihilation.
I recently reviewed The Fifth Beatle: The Brain Epstein Story, written by Vivek J. Tiwary and illustrated by Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker. It is one of the great graphic novels, destined to be a classic. Here's what I wrote in my review on Wink:
The Fifth Beatle is Vivek J. Tiwary’s fascinating, cinematic account of Beatles manager Brian Epstein’s determination to ignore the chorus of rejections and take The Beatles far beyond where any musical group had gone before — to a place occupied by a handful of religious figures and charismatic world leaders. And Epstein accomplished it, despite the fact that he was Jewish in a culture of strong anti-semitism, and gay when being gay was a felony. That he was able to do what he did in six years (he died of an accidental drug overdose when he was 32 years old) is astounding.
Wink is holding a giveaway of the rare signed, numbered, slipcased "Limited Edition" of The Fifth Beatle, which is limited to 1500 copies, signed by all three creators and comes with an exclusive tip-in page of art. To win, all you have to do is write your own text for the word balloons in the panel above. (Clockwise L-R John Lennon, George Harrison, Brian Epstein, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney. NOTE: John has 2 balloons.) The entries will be judged by Vivek J. Tiwary himself, and he will select the winner. The contest ends at noon Pacific time on April 10, 2014, the day Brian Epstein is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Good luck!
Boars, Gore, and Swords is hosted by stand-up comedians Ivan Hernandez and Red Scott. In each episode they break down HBO's Game of Thrones and George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. They also talk about movies, TV, science fiction, fantasy, and lots of other things. NSFW.
With the long awaited Season 4 Premiere of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is upon us, Ivan and Red cut deep into “Two Swords.” They’re joined by third chair Kelly Anneken, and the three of them discuss molten ice, the sequel to Ser Captain America - The Winter is Coming Soldier, Tall Joffrey, the introduction of Prince Oberyn (AKA “The Red Viper”), mc’ing weddings for cake, the newer/higher mountain, Assassin Kenny Rogers, Jaime going full Buster Bluth, The Cannibal Borg, Joffrey’s Saxophone statue, the abbreviated "Ser Duncan the Tall", and the beautiful reunion of a girl and her named sword!
This episode is brought to you by NatureBox, for 50% off your first box of snacks you can feel good about, go to naturebox.com/boars
This beautiful life-sized bronze of Edgar Allan Poe with an enormous raven is Stefanie Rocknak's competition-winning entry for the Edgar Allan Poe Foundation of Boston's Edgar Allan Poe Square Public Art Project. It beat out 265 other pieces in the competition. Rocknak is also a professor of philosophy at New York's Hartwick College, and describes her work as depicting Poe "just off the train, the figure would be walking south towards his place of birth, where his mother and father once lived. Poe, with a trunk full of ideas -- and worldwide success -- is finally coming home."
Today's jam is Closed on Account of Rabies: Poems and Tales of Edgar Allan Poe , which features Christopher Walken's reading of "The Raven," Iggy Pop performing " The Tell-Tale Heart," Debbie Harry doing "The City And The Sea," Marianne Faithfull's rendition of "Alone" and "Annabel Lee," and loads more improbably fantastic stuff.
The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation sat in my pile for too long, and it shouldn't have. I loved The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation, the previous effort by Jonathan Hennessey and Aaron McConnell, so I should have anticipated how good this new one would be. Having (belatedly) gotten around to it, I can finally tell you that this is an extraordinary, nuanced history of the issues of race and slavery in America, weaving together disparate threads of military, geopolitical, technological, legal, Constitutional, geographic and historical factors that came together to make the Civil War happen at the moment when it occurred, that brought it to an end, and that left African Americans with so little justice in its wake.
Here's some good news: the next Lauren Beukes novel, Broken Monsters, is up for pre-order, and we've got a taste of the cover and the synopsis: "Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies. But this one is unique even by Detroit's standards: half boy, half deer, somehow fused together. As stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at its seams?
If you're Detective Versado's geeky teenage daughter, Layla, you commence a dangerous flirtation with a potential predator online. If you're desperate freelance journalist Jonno, you do whatever it takes to get the exclusive on a horrific story. If you're Thomas Keen, known on the street as TK, you'll do what you can to keep your homeless family safe--and find the monster who is possessed by the dream of violently remaking the world."
For the past two months, my daughter's and my main bedtime reading has been The Cats of Tanglewood Forest, a modern folktale written by Charles de Lint and illustrated by Charles Vess, a power duo if ever there was one. This is a story set on an American prairie farm sometime in the 20th century, about Lillian, a kind-hearted girl who sets out saucers of milk for the wild cats, scatters grain for the songbirds, and leaves a biscuit by the oldest, most gnarled apple tree in the orchard for the Apple Tree Man. And it's because of her good heart and her wild spirit that the cats of Tanglewood Forest defy the king of cats, and work cat-magic to rescue her when she is bitten by a snake and brought near to death. Now she has been reborn as a kitten, and she must find out how she can once again become a girl.
The book is lavishly illustrated with Charlie Vess's amazing art nouveau paintings (you may recognize these from his frequent collaborations with Neil Gaiman, such as the beautiful picture book Blueberry Girl). The paintings -- which appear as full pages, but are also worked into the margins, endpapers, and jacket -- are a wonderful and gripping accompaniment to the story. Although this story is too sophisticated for my six-year-old to have read to herself, the combination of the illustrations and my reading it aloud made it absolutely accessible to her. And these paintings are so gorgeous that she was more than happy to sit and thumb through the book, enjoying them on their own.
I’m not religious, and I have not read the Old Testament or the New Testament (I did read R. Crumb’s graphic novel of the Book of Genesis and enjoyed it). I’ve tried to read the King James version a few times, but I got bored and stopped very early on. Recently, Top Shelf sent me a copy of God is Disappointed in You, a new version of the Bible written in contemporary, casual language. It’s bound in textured fake leather like a regular bible, with gold edged pages and a ribbon bookmark. It has illustrations by New Yorker and Too Much Coffee Man cartoonist Shannon Wheeler, which piqued my interest. As soon as I started reading it, I was hooked. The author, Mark Russell, was able to make the stories come alive by telling them as if they happened today, using language that a smart, funny, middle-school student might use to recount the story of an epic playground fight.
I don’t know if people who take the Bible seriously will be offended by this book, but I suspect many of them will not. It is not a sarcastic put down of the Bible, but a fresh interpretation. I compared some of the stories in God is Disappointed in You with the stories in other traditional Bibles and Russell is not exaggerating or misrepresenting the content of the earlier versions. I asked my friend, a pastor and author who is a serious Bible scholar, what he thought of God is Disappointed in You, and said it was fantastic.
The Bible is an incredibly weird book, and I thank Mark Russell for rewriting it in a way that made it understandable and interesting to me.
David writes, "Award-winning photographer Seth Kushner is renowned for his photography book of portraits of comic book writers and artists (Leaping Tall Buildings). Seth Kushner spent much of his 20s dating, or trying to date, in New York City. For the last 6 years, Kushner has been writing a semi-autobiographical webcomic called SCHMUCK chock full of equal parts tragedy and comedy."
$9 gets you a download of the book, $25 gets you a print edition.
Since I was a kid, I have been fixated on trickery, which played a role in why I grew up to be an occasional prankster (my dad recalls that, as an adolescent, I would surprise him by placing my Sesame Street Ernie doll in grim situations, such leaving him in a noose hanging from a shower head or pinned to the kitchen wall with a knife). Now that I am an adult, I spend most of my time as a teacher and professor being a bit more serious -- enough to take the subject of pranking seriously, which is why I wrote Pranksters: Making Mischief in the Modern World, published by NYU Press on April 1 this year. The word prank is more often used today to describe stunts that make people look foolish and little more. I'm not interested in celebrating cruelty -- especially the sorts of mean-spirited practical jokes, hazing rituals, and reality television deceits that are all too common in today's popular culture. Although "good" pranks sometimes do ridicule their targets, they serve a higher purpose by sowing skepticism and speaking truth to power (or at least cracking jokes that expose fissures in power's facade). A prank a day keeps The Man away, I always say. Nevertheless, I should stress that this book is not solely about pranking. Many of the characters who populate its pages aren't driven by noble impulses, and even those who are more pure of heart can muddy the ethical waters with dubious tactics. With this in mind, Pranksters examines everything from political pranks, silly hoaxes, and con games to the sort of self-deception that fuels outlandish belief systems. The following is an excerpt from Chapter Nine of Pranksters, about the exploits of a married couple named Jeanne and Alan Abel who began as professional pranksters in the late 1950s, and are still at it today.
In 1934 the government of Poland declared Stanislav Szukalski the country’s ‘Greatest Living Artist.’ It built the Szukalski National Museum in Warsaw to hold his massive sculptures and dramatic, mythological paintings.
When the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, they destroyed the museum and all of Szukalski’s sculptures and paintings. He fled to the United States, where no one recognized him as a celebrated hero. He lived in a small apartment in Glendale, California and made a meager income drawing maps for the aerospace industry. He devoted the rest of his life developing his theory of “Zermatism,” which centered on his belief that human beings were under the control of a race of human-yeti hybrids (the result of ‘yeti apes’ raping human women). Szukalski wrote over 10,000 pages about Zermatism and illustrated his argument with 40,000 illustrations.
Szukalski would have remained in total obscurity if he hadn’t been discovered by a few popular underground cartoonists: Robert Williams, Rick Griffin, and Jim Woodring – who recognized Szukalski’s immense artistic talent, and befriended him. (I interviewed Woodring about his friendship with the incredibly arrogant yet charming Szukalski on my Boing Boing podcast, Gweek. You can listen to it here.)
Several years ago I had the opportunity to see the entire Zermatism archives firsthand. They are bound in massive books and are in the possession of comic book art collector Glenn Bray. It was a stunning sight. Behold!!! The Protong represents less than 1% of the total Zermatism oeuvre, but it’s enough to give you a feel for the depth of breadth of Szukalski’s lifelong obsession.
Michael Lewis is the best finance writer in the business (see my reviews of The Big Short and Liar's Poker), a gifted storyteller with a firm grasp of his subject and real insider access and insight. He's got a new book out, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, which tells the story of the high-speed traders who turned the stock markets into (more of) a rigged game, and how the big incumbent banks fought back. The New York Times Magazine has adapted a long excerpt from the book and it's thrilling, shining a light on what New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called "insider trading 2.0."