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Baa Baa Black Sheep (Black Sheep Squadron) vol. 1

Baa Baa Black Sheep - Volume 1

"We are poor little lambs, who have lost our way. Baa. Baa. Baa." I loved this show so much as a kid, the opening credits give me chills.

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The Princess and the Pony, from Kate "Hark a Vagrant" Beaton

It was a safe bet that Kate "Hark! A Vagrant! Beaton's first kids' picture book would be amazing, but The Princess and the Pony is incredible.

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Robert Charles Wilson's The Affinities: when science changes everything

Amara's Law states, "We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run" -- Robert Charles Wilson's gripping conspiracy novel The Affinities brings the experience of that process to life.Read the rest

The only furniture you need is a single smooth stone that reminds you of your mother


Mallory Ortberg expertly skewers the weird de-cluttering dogma of Marie Kondo's bestselling Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: "It’s important to be very rich but have almost no items in your home."

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Blue Plague: The Fall, a prepper fantasy

Blue Plague

Preppers vs zombies is a genre sure to keep me laughing. Blue Plague: The Fall, by Thomas A. Watson, is ridiculous and brutal.

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Gris Grimly illustrates Ray Bradbury

halloween

Author/illustrator Gris Grimly has a launch event and art show for his own illustrated edition of Ray Bradbury’s Halloween Tree this Sunday at Creature Features in Burbank.

Creature Features kicks off the season of the witch early with this spook-tacular gallery show showcasing brand new artwork created by Gris Grimly for the latest adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s beloved perennial THE HALLOWEEN TREE!

Grimly casts his unique spell over this fantastical tale of a daring group of trick ‘r treaters who cross space and time to discover the true origins of Halloween, led by the mysterious Mr. Moundshroud.

The show opens on August 2nd with Grimly on hand to display his original art and sign the new hardbound edition from Knopf Books. Limited edition prints will also be offered exclusively thru the gallery.”

Picture books where the girls kick butt


The Guardian rounds up half a dozen brilliant picture books where girl characters defy stereotypes: Princess Daisy and the Dragon by Steven Lenton; The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp; The Princess and the Pony by Kate "Hark! A Vagrant!" Beaton; The Fairytale Hairdresser, by Abie Longstaff; Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood; and the forthcoming I'm a Girl!, by Yasmeen Ismail.

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Giant bookshelf mural


315 x 232cm, £65, comes in four pieces from Present Indicative (via Bookshelf).

Time's Mirror: A CHRONOS Files Novella by Rysa Walker

Time's Mirror: A CHRONOS Files Novella (The CHRONOS Files)

I fell in love with Rysa Walker's time travel stories, the CHRONOS Files. Time's Mirror is a new novella exposing one of her most controversial characters!

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The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer

Reluctant cartoonist Sydney Padua tips us off early in The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer that her graphic novel/history book is probably neither. Instead, she says, it is what she imagines a comic called The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer would look like if it existed, which, for the record, it does. This fuzziness with obvious facts such as authorship and the words one is reading on a page are what give the document that bears Padua’s name one of its many irresistible charms. For Padua, the actual story of the relationship between Lord Bryon’s only legitimate daughter, Ada Lovelace, whose facility with numbers rivaled her father’s gift for words, and Charles Babbage, whose 1837 Analytical Engine is considered the world’s first computer, is only a sturdy armature for several richly illustrated what-might-have-been yarns—embellishments, I hasten to add, that only someone with a love for the truth could have conjured.

For example, we “learn” that on June 5, 1833, while still a teenager, Lovelace met the older Babbage at one of the famous parties he liked to give at his mansion on 1 Dorset Street in London. Now, I’m not sure how much of that last sentence is 100 percent true, but we do know they met, and that Lovelace did eventually translate an 1840 lecture Babbage gave in Turin about his Analytical Engine from its Italian transcription to English, adding copious footnotes of her own that sketched out the if-then statements and other forms of rudimentary programming one would need to know to drive Babbage’s machine, which was never built except in model form.

Later in the book, Lovelace and Babbage demonstrate another of Babbage’s inventions, a mechanical calculator (steam-powered in Padua’s imagination) known as a difference engine, for Queen Victoria. We also encounter a spurious Babbage machine called the New Patent Mechanical Writer, lifted from an 1844, tongue-in-cheek letter he wrote to Punch—in Padua’s book, this imaginary device has its way with a George Eliot novel. Then, after a chapter in which Ada struggles to get her arms around the concept of imaginary quantities, which sends her spiraling into an Alice-in-Wonderland world of judgmental footnotes and juries of Jacquard-loom punch cards, several appendices explain, among other things, how those punch cards work, and how they led to the 80-column IBM punch cards of 1955. In a word, all this makes for fantastic reading, and that is the truth. – Ben Marks

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer
by Sydney Padua
Pantheon
2015, 230 pages, 7.3 x 10.3 x 1.1 inches
$15 Buy one on Amazon

Escaping the Maze, the "world's most challenging puzzle"

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In 1985, Christopher Manson wrote and illustrated a book called Maze.  It really is a beautiful and unique piece of work.

Manson actually said that this book isn't really a book at all, but rather a building in the shape of a book. Intriguing, right?

Upon first glance, the gauntlet is thrown at the reader—“Solve The World’s Most Challenging Puzzle”—and believe me, the challenge is a lulu.

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Each lovely page represents one room of a house that the player must navigate through to the center and back…in just 16 steps. Each numbered door on a page is a portal and some rooms lead to infinite loops while others will lead to dead-ends. Along the way, the reader is also challenged to discover an answer to a meta-puzzle.

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The idea of a book acting as a labyrinth is a very cool one, and when it was originally published in 1985, a $10,000 prize was offered to the reader who could solve it the quickest. In 1988, 12 winners were chosen and they split the prize.

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Since its publication, this book has spawned podcasts, clue websites and countless gallons of tears. I was fascinated with this book, but when I first got my copy, I succumbed to online message boards to help get me through it. It is absolutely ridiculous, the amount of work that people have gone through to solve this puzzle in different ways. My hat is off to them, but I just wish that I could look at Maze again with fresh eyes.

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And now is your chance to journey into the maze. To help you out, I offer to you some spoilers...not that I'd use them or anything.

Maze: Solve the World's Most Challenging Puzzle [Amazon]

Unknown See Michael, a passionate collector of artifacts and designer of unique puzzles, at Boing Boing's three-day extravaganza, the Weekend of Wonder, running Sept. 18-20. A weekend of workshops, tech demons and wild performances, there'll be plenty of fun surprises!

Kickstarting a volume of feminist bicycle zombie science fiction


Elly writes, "We're running a Kickstarter to try to give the feminist-bicycle-scifi-about-zombies genre a big leg up."

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The People vs Disneyland: tracing the impact of lawsuits on themepark design

The People V. Disneyland: How Lawsuits & Lawyers Transformed the Magic is the latest from David Koenig, who wrote the excellent Mouse Tales books of true confessions from Disneyland staffers.

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Archie vs Sharknado worth a giggle

Shark03

The kids of Riverdale have to take on a Sharknado: a storm that unites Betty and Veronica like never before and leaves Moose realizing that Reggie isn't that bad of guy.

The comic's special effects are more convincing than the movie's, I'll give it that.

Archie vs. Sharknado [Archie Comics] Shark04

Dörfler by Jeremy Baum is a hallucinogen in print

Two worlds, a futuristic dystopian city, and a dense, dreamy forest realm with a mysterious stone temple in it. Two reoccurring sigils, an eye inside of a 7-pointed star and a square inside of a square. And three women who seem to leak in and out of each other's dreams. This is the ponderous world of Jeremy Baum's debut graphic novel, Dörfler. You don't so much read this book (the narrative is quite sparse) as dream along to it. I read it once, had no idea what had just happened (in a delightfully disorienting kind of way), read it again, and still had no clearer idea of the point. But whatever Jeremy Baum is selling, I bought it. This is a very lovely and compelling piece that rewards repeated visits without ever completely resolving itself. Like Luke Ramsey's Intelligent Sentient?, this book is a hallucinogen in print. It is obviously meant as a kind of graphical meditation on time, memory, dream states, erotic revelry, and the mysteries of consciousness.

Baum doesn't so much tell a linear tale as frantically point (through the artwork and dream logic narrative) into the dark corners of his world, towards things that seem wildly important but ultimately defy tidy explanation. David Lynch's Eraserhead came to mind several times while floating through Jeremy Baum's dreamtime. Peter Chung's Æon Flux is even closer in both structure and intent to Dörfler. Like that wonderfully avant garde animated series, nearly every frame here seems to ooze equal amounts of sinister intent, dark eroticism, and high weirdness.

Baum's obsessively detailed artwork is distinctly his own, achieved using pen and ink with meticulous marker shading and washes. The majority of the drawings are black and shades of gray with spare pops of a color, often blue. Or the red of spilled blood. Baum's influences are a dizzying array of Möebius/Heavy Metal, D&D artwork, bombastic teen notebook art, fairy tales, Tarot and occult symbolism, pin-up and erotic art, and much more. All of the women in Dörfler look somewhat similar, and inexplicably, they all have big bunny teeth. And inside the forest dream world, everyone has elf ears.

So, why the name Dörfler? No idea. The main character's name is Nola. Like everything thing else in this book, the title seems to point to some deeper meaning that the book is unconcerned in delivering. Sometimes, it's best to just let a dream have its way with you.

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Dörfler
by Jeremy Baum
Fantagraphics
2015, 104 pages, 8.3 x 12.3 x 0.7 inches
$17 Buy one on Amazon

RIP, EL Doctorow

The author of spectacular novels (my favorite is Book of Daniel, which crosses a fictionalized life of Abbie Hoffman with a fictionalized account of the Rosenbergs) and outstanding critical essays (I still can't get The Creators out of my mind) was 84 (no relation).

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