Sword and Laser bookclub kicks off The Name of the Wind

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Pop culture-inspired Little Golden Books art

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Joey Spiotto's "Storytime" exhibit of faux Little Golden Books covers is now on view at Gallery1988 in Los Angeles. More below! (via Laughing Squid) tumblr_n9ozj1sILF1rr18wao5_1280tumblr_n9ozj1sILF1rr18wao1_1280

Lev Grossman's The Magician's Land

Lev Grossman’s The Magician’s Land concludes his genre-bending, brilliant, acerbic rethinking of the entire high fantasy genre, and does so with enormous style and skill. It’s easy to take cheap shots at the thrice-brewed tea of Tolkien, but Grossman’s moves are subtle, filled with understanding and affection, and offer no mercy to cherished illusions.

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Kiddie Cocktails: hooch free drink recipes in a beautiful book

Without question, cocktails are the most fun and playful type of drinks on the menu, with their vibrant colors, toy-like swizzle sticks, plastic straws, paper toothpick umbrellas, swords of stacked fruit, and the exotic-shaped glasses that contain the concoctions. And yet – the cruel irony of it all – cocktails are off limits to children!

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Book of funny encounters between librarians and patrons

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Gina Sheridan's I Work at a Public Library is a collection of true, weird experiences that public librarians have had with patrons. I read parts of the book out loud to Carla last night and we both chuckled.

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Gritty photos that reveal Hollywood’s seedy history

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Fans of photojournalist Weegee will love this gritty collection of photographs, which was culled from the archives of William Randolph Hearst’s infamous tabloid newspaper. Known for sensationalized reporting punctuated by attention-grabbing pictures, the Herald Express was founded in 1931 and remained on the stands for thirty years. Sidelining national and international events, the paper featured local stories of crime and scandal including drug busts, murder, freak accidents, and all manner of “depravity.”

The photographs included in Local News are divided into chapters bearing titles such as, “Murderers,” “Victims,” “Scene of the Crime,” “Hold-up Suspects,” and “Cross-Dressers.” Each image tells a true LA noir story and the brief captions included are often just as shocking and strange as the pictures they accompany: “Dragged into court, called insane,” “Big man plays bookie in tiny cubicle,” “Shoes, necklace found on dead body,” and “Girl is freed after explaining why she wore Marine uniform trousers after drinking party.” As a native of Los Angeles who is interested in its seedy history, true crime, and all that is weird, I wish I didn’t already own this book so I could run out and buy it today.

Local News: Tabloid Pictures from the Los Angeles Herald Express 1936-1961

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Original art from the greatest private comic collection on earth

One evening several years ago my friend, the artist Coop, took me to the San Fernando Valley house of comic book art collector Glenn Bray. I was somewhat familiar with Bray, having read bits and pieces about his large collection. I knew that he was the first person to seek out and collect the work of the great Donald Duck comic book artist writer Carl Barks back in the 1960s, that he published some small books about grotesque-artist Basil Wolverton, and that he was the champion of forgotten genius Stanislav Szukalski (read my Wink review about Szukalski here). He was probably the first real comic book art collector, buying original work in an era when everyone else considered it to be worthless.

So I felt I was somewhat prepared for what was in store for me at Bray’s house. But when I stepped inside, I realized that I’d greatly underestimated the size and quality of his collection. Bray’s walls were covered with original art and paintings by the greatest comic book artists in history: Robert Crumb, Robert Williams, Jack Davis, Wally Wood, and dozens more. The second floor of his large house looked nothing like a home. It was a clean, organized library/museum dedicated to comic book art. I was stunned, not only by the amount of art Bray had amassed over the last 50 years of collecting, but by his aesthetic sensibility, which matched mine to a T. Like me, he was completely uninterested in superhero comics, concentrating mainly on old EC science fiction comics, MAD, and underground comics. That evening I studied the original art from many iconic comic book covers, but barely scratched the surface of his collection.

The Blighted Eye is a massive book containing samples from Bray’s collection. Arranged from A-Z by artist, it represents the tip of a comic art iceberg. The book also includes a long interview with Bray and many photographs of Bray with the artists he’s befriended over the decades.

The Blighted Eye, by Glenn Bray

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Summer reading list: nonfiction

Being a compendium of some of my most popular nonfiction reviews from the past year, from Capital in the 21st Century to The Divide

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Steampunk/singularity mashup: Sun of Suns is now a graphic novel


Karl Schroeder's 2006 novel (review) set a new bar for imaginative worldbuilding and exciting adventure sf.

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Comixology adds DRM-free option! Excelsior!

Unlike some of its stablemates, the Amazon-owned comics platform is to allow authors and publishers to distribute their work without the shackles of proprietary rights-management, writes Cory Doctorow

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Dune author Franker Herbert on mushrooms

The Daily Grail delves into Frank Herbert's passion for mycology and how psilocybin mushrooms helped inspire Dune.

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Sign Painters: book and documentary

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Sign Painters looks to be a fascinating book and documentary about the traditional art and craft of hand-drawn signage that is being lost to digital prints and die-cut vinyl. The film is playing at venues around the US right now, including this Sunday (7/27) at the Webb Gallery in Waxahachie, Texas!

Summer reading list: graphic novels

Being a compendium of some of my most popular graphic novel reviews from the past year, from The Encyclopedia of Early Earth to RASL

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School libraries in Racine, WI raided by untrained city workers, thousands of books discarded

School librarians say they weren't consulted about throwing away classics and important parts of the collection.

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Summer reading list: kids' books and YA

Being a compendium of some of my most popular kids' book reviews from the past year, from Glorkian Warrior to Alan Mendelsohn

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