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The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation, a nuanced and moving history of race, slavery and the Civil War


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.

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An eccentric genius explains how half-Yeti hybrids have enslaved mankind

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.

See more images and text excerpts from Behold!!! The Protong at Wink

Expiration Day: YA coming of age novel about robots and the end of the human race


Expiration Day is William Campbell Powell's debut YA novel, and it's an exciting start. The novel is set in a world in which human fertility has collapsed, taking the birth-rate virtually to zero, sparking riots and even a limited nuclear war as the human race realizes that it may be in its last days. Order is restored, but at the price of basic civil liberties. There's a little bit of Orwell (a heavily surveilled and censored Internet); but mostly, it's all about the Huxley. The major locus of control is a line of robotic children -- all but indistinguishable from flesh-and-bloods, even to themselves -- who are sold to desperate couples as surrogates for the children they can't have, calming the existential panic and creating a surface veneer of normalcy.

Expiration Day takes the form of a private diary of Tania, an 11 year old vicar's daughter in a small village outside of London. Tania's father's parishioners have found religion, searching for meaning in their dying world. He is counsellor and father-figure to them, though the family is still relatively poor. Tania is a young girl growing up in the midst of a new, catastrophic normal, the only normal she's ever known, and she's happy enough in it. But them she discovers that she, too, is a robot, and has to come to grips with the fact that her "parents" have been lying to her all her life. What's more, the fact that she's a robot means that she won't live past 18: all robots are property of a private corporation, and are merely leased to their "parents," and are recalled around their 18th birthday, turned into scrap.

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iPad ebook of the 100 finest examples of 20th century filmmaking

Taschen books has created a useful iPad ebook that serves as a companion to its excellent 100 All–Time Favorite Movies book set (a whopping 800-page two-volume softcover book set that comes in a slipcase.) It has a neat feature - if a movie is available for rental or purchase on iTunes, you can get it right from the ebook. The 100 All-Time Favorite Movies ebook is 671 pages long and features movie trailers and soundtracks for featured films, and interactive images and galleries.

From horror to romance, noir to slapstick, adventure to tragedy, western to new wave, all genres are represented in this compendium of celluloid excellence. Metropolis? Check. Citizen Kane? Of course. La dolce vita, Psycho, A Clockwork Orange? You bet.... and so many more, including lesser-known masterpieces like Buñuel’s The Young and the Damned. And for a first sample of each of these gathered greats, simply tap through with a wifi connection, watch the trailer, or tune into the movie soundtrack.

Each chronologically arranged film entry also includes a synopsis, cast/crew listings, technical information, actor/director bios, trivia, original poster, production photos, and a list of awards. Decade-by-decade introductions, meanwhile, explore the particular context of each era, setting the historical and social scene for each of these silver screen triumphs.

It's only $10. I bought it earlier today and I love it.

100 All-Time Favorite Movies

Wink's remarkable book picks of the week

Wink is a new website that reviews one remarkable paper book every weekday. My wife, Carla Sinclair, is the editor. We take photos of the covers and the interior pages of the books to show you why we love them. This week we reviewed books about spectacular close-up photographs of the elements, bubble-gum-sweet yet provocative French girls of the 1960s, a mapped guidebook to the underground city of Hong Kong, a grab-bag of 100 fascinating topics related to black, wonderfully weird medieval clip-art, and Chip Kidd’s ingenious book covers.

Take a look at these books and many others at Wink.

James Kochalka's "The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza"


I have never heard my daughter laugh as loud or as long as she did when I read her James Kochalka new kids' graphic novel, The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza. My six year old literally howled with laughter as I read this to her at bedtime, and kicked her legs in the air, and thumped the pillow -- tears of laughter rolled down her cheeks. After reading this to her twice at bedtime, I had to declare a moratorium on further bedtime reads because it wound her up too much to sleep.

I loved it too. The Glorkian Warrior is a dopey, destiny-seeking superhero who finds himself on a quest when he intercepts a wrong-number pizza-order and decides to deliver the leftover pizza in his fridge. His straight-man is his wisecracking, laser-zapping sentient backpack, which helps him fight off a giant mecha-suited doofus named Gonk, a mysterious pizza-snatching saucer-craft, and a magic robot in an impenetrable fortress.

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Wink's remarkable book picks of the week

Wink is a new website that reviews one remarkable paper book every weekday. My wife, Carla Sinclair, is the editor. We take photos of the covers and the interior pages of the books to show you why we love them. This week we reviewed books about Chip Kidd’s ingenious book covers, Jill Greenberg's delightful photo portraits of primates, Jimmy Nelson's stunning high-fashion portraits of tribal people in their most distinguished, authentic costumes, Annie Leibovitz's stories behind her best photographs, the world of Game of Thrones in the form of a large pop-up, fold-out map, and Thomas C. Card's photos of exuberantly colorful Japanese street fashion tribes.

Take a look at these books and many others at Wink.

Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast 136: Hannibal

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.

Ivan and Red begin the episode by discussing a recent behind-the-scenes Game of Thrones mini-doc from HBO and the questions it raises, before moving on to how to approach an introvert, Kristian Nairn, Detective Sheldon Cooper, Dead Like Me, Mikkelsen’s physicality, and cork boards with yarn.

And after finishing the discussion A Storm of Swords and The Princess and The Queen, Ivan and Red bring to your attention the next installment in their “What You Should Be Watching” series. They discuss one of the very few shows on television that can match George R.R. Martin’s disregard for his character’s lives, NBC’s Hannibal. Created by king of cancelled shows Bryan Fuller (of Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies, Wonderfall, and writer on season 1 of Heroes), this show has a quantity of gore that relocates the boundaries of what’s acceptable on network television. The knockout cast includes Lawrence Fishburne, Mads Mikkelsen, and and a very strange turn for Scott Thompson, formerly of Kids in the Hall.

GET BGaS: RSS | On iTunes | Download episode

Terry Pratchett's Raising Steam, out in the USA today


Terry Pratchett's Raising Steam, the 40th Discworld novel, comes out in the US today. I reviewed it back in November for the UK release; here's what I had to say then: it's a tremendous synthesis of everything that makes Pratchett one of the world's most delightful writers. It's a curious thing: a fantasy novel about modernity and reactionaries, a synthesis of technological optimism and a curious sort of romantic mysticism.

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Slack, a team-talk tool that Just Works


A clever colleague of mine, Jen, joined us last year as Comms Director and suggested that we use a team talk tool, for light comms and general infosharing, preferably something that can handle the trivial (my train's late) but also the serious (get the latest build).

We're a toys-and-games startup, working desperately hard, and fast, and the suggestion was welcome, so we set up Yammer. Despite a heroic effort on the part of most of the team, it didn't fly. It didn't feel useful, somehow, like a chore, and we drifted away from it. Later we tried a browser-based IRC too, but - same. Too many missing functions, or maybe it was just the interface. Hard to pinpoint.

We've been working on our internal comms - hard - and even though we're a small team of 15, it still been tough at times. Jen was right, we somehow needed something on top of/instead of email, Basecamp, drive, Skype. Then Slack launched. We'd known it was coming - disclaimer! Stewart Butterfield, Slack's creator, is an old pal - and who didn't love original Flickr? But I wasn't necessarily expecting to use it, given our previous tries.

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Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast 135: Terrible Father, Amazing Dragonrider

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.

Ivan and Red reach their fourth and final podcast of George R.R. Martin’s medium-to-normal length story in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” world, “The Princess and The Queen”, part of the Railroad curated Dangerous Women Anthology. They discuss Railroad’s irresponsible editor, the eight hour long movie that is True Detective, heads up hallucinations, flesh sloughing, your dragon vs. your child, the riderless horse, Ser Hobert Hightower as hardcore Wallace Shawn, and one last dragon battle.

GET BGaS: RSS | On iTunes | Download episode

Werkhaus: flat-pack housewares and accessories skinned with photos of scuffed, worn-in real-world stuff


I was in Berlin for the day yesterday to speak at a World Consumer Rights Day, and before I headed back to the airport, I dropped in at Werkhaus, a retail outlet that sells innovative, made-in-Germany flat-pack housewares that are skinned with beautiful photos of decayed, wabi-sabi surfaces from street furniture, antiques, and industrial apparatus. I bought one of their "Telefonstation" shelving units, designed to hold and charge your phones and mobile devices while disguising the charge-cables; the one I bought is skinned with the exterior of a scuffed and beaten Soviet pay-phone, with stenciled Cyrillic lettering.

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Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast 134: A Turtle Is Not a Horse

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.

Ivan and Red continue into their penultimate installment of George R.R. Martin’s medium-to-normal length story in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” world, “The Princess and The Queen”, part of the Railroad curated Dangerous Women Anthology. We discuss our hopes for the future of True Detective, the significance of working out sibling rivalry through dragon violence, the 9,000 MySpace Bannerman, land pirates, the importance of not being Hobert, and mid-air dragon leaps.

This episode is brought to you by Squarespace, the all-in-one platform that makes it fast and easy to create your own professional website or online portfolio. For a free trial and 10% off, go to squarespace.com and use offer code BOARS.

GET BGaS: RSS | On iTunes | Download episode

Wink: daily reviews of remarkable books that belong on paper

Attention, book lovers! My wife, Carla (Boing Boing co-founder), Kevin Kelly (Wired co-founder), and I have launched Wink, a site that reviews one remarkable book that belongs on paper every weekday. Our test for Winkdom is simple: would this book work as an ebook? If yes, we ignore it.

Books are not dead! The newest thing in the digital age are solid paper books. Not all books deserve to be printed on paper, but some books do, and these are the books that Wink celebrates. Every weekday Wink reviews one remarkable book that demonstrates what paper books can do. This might be an attractive oversized book that wows your coffee table, a craft book that includes materials to get you started, or a how-to book sporting an unusually handy binding. It could be a pop-up book, an atlas with pull-out maps, a stunning picture book for children, an unusual tome printed on exquisite paper. Or it could be a hardback graphic novel whose illustrations pop better in ink than in pixels.

Wink scours bookstores, libraries, flea markets, and online retailers looking for books that you must experience; books that are sensual, three dimensional, robust. We seek out artifacts that you must hold in your hands or unfold in your lap. Wink collects books that optimize what books do best on paper: open up new worlds. Our test for Winkdom is simple: would this book work as an ebook? If yes, we ignore it.

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RiYL podcast 042: Hospitality's Amber Papini and Nathan Michel

Recommended if You Like is Boing Boing's weekly podcast of Brian Heater's cafe conversations with musicians, cartoonists, writers, and other creative types.

Come spend 45 minutes in the Red Hook living room shared by Hospitality's singer and percussionist a day after the launch of their sophomore record. The expectations are elevated this time out, after the healthy amount of buzz generated by the band's self-titled indie-pop debut. You wouldn't know it from outward appearances, however. All is calm in the Brooklyn band's apartment. Dinner is on the stove and Michel is halfway through Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung. The tour, after all, is still a few months away.

RiYL: RSS | iTunes | Download episode | Listen on Stitcher