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Cats of Tanglewood Forest: illustrated modern folktale from Charles de Lint and Charles Vess


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.

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NSA hacked Huawei, totally penetrated its networks and systems, stole its sourcecode


A new Snowden leak details an NSA operation called SHOTGIANT through which the US spies infiltrated Chinese electronics giant Huawei -- ironically, because Huawei is a company often accused of being a front for the Chinese Peoples' Liberation Army and an arm of the Chinese intelligence apparatus. The NSA completely took over Huawei's internal network, gaining access to the company's phone and computer networks and setting itself up to conduct "cyberwar" attacks on Huawei's systems.

The program apparently reached no conclusion about whether Huawei was involved in espionage. However, the NSA did identify many espionage opportunities in compromising Huawei, including surveillance of an undersea fiber optic cable that Huawei is involved with.

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Beautiful, illustrated vintage Wisconsin postcard


Phil Are Go has done the world the kind service of posting a hi-rez scan of a gorgeous, vintage souvenir of Wisconsin postcard, lavishly and wonderfully illustrated with everything the state has to offer.

Wisconsin, your post card is here.

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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New Girl Genius arc starts today


Carol writes, "After a much-needed break, this week Phil & Kaja Foglio started up a new story arc on their multiple-Hugo-award-winning 'Girl Genius' comic series. This new story arc is a good place for new readers to jump in, as Agatha Heterodyne sets out on a new adventure. 'Girl Genius' is a long-form series, with three new full-color comic pages posted on the site each week. Updates appear on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 'Girl Genius' has been running since 2001, following the gaslamp fantasy adventures of Agatha, the titular girl genius mad scientist."

I love this stuff. Here's my review of the novel version of the story.

Here we are, back with the second act of the Girl Genius story! (Thanks, Carol!)

Man, newsies sure could dress


Suddenly I want to buy a newspaper. Everybody crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed urchin.

11:00 A.M. Monday May 9th, 1910. Newsies at Skeeter's Branch, Jefferson near Franklin. They were all smoking. Location: St. Louis, Missouri. [Library of Congress]

(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Text of Little Brother on an art-litho, tee, or tote


As you may have noticed, I think Litographs are really cool: the company turns the text of various books into a piece of appropriately themed text-art and makes lithographs, tees and tote-bags out of it.

Now, I'm delighted to announce that the company has produced a line of Litographs based on my novel Little Brother, with a gorgeous anti-surveillance design by Benjy Brooke.

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Scenes from a hotel near #Euromaidan

Josip Saric from Croatian national television is in a Kiev hotel near Maidan, and has kindly provided us with some snapshots of the surreal and troubling scenes, which range from bodies under shrouds in the lobby to impenetrable smoke outside the windows and bullet-holes in the walls.

Thank you to Marko Rakar for introducing us to Josip's photos.

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The Coruscant Tapestry: 30' long Star Wars cross-stitch


Aled Lewis's "The Coruscant Tapestry" is a 30 foot long, 13" high tapestry depicting the tale of Star Wars in cross-stitch. In the manner of the Bayeux Tapestry, its borders are embellished with writing -- quotes in Aurebesh from the films. It's for sale for $20,000 at Los Angeles's Gallery 1988.

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Dan Goldman's Red Light Properties: realtors who specialize in exorcising haunted houses

Back in 2011, I reviewed Dan Goldman's excellent indie comic Red Light Properties, which has now been picked up for mass publication by the good folks at IDW. Here's what I wrote then:

Dan Goldman's Red Light Properties is a serial webcomic about a Florida real-estate brokerage that specializes in exorcising haunted houses and then listing them for cheap. Goldman (who created the fantastic 08 graphic novel) takes a somewhat lighthearted premise and uses it as contrast to make the fundamental spookiness of his stories stand out in stark relief. Goldman's ghost stories made the hairs on the back of my neck prickle, while the bawdy slapstick interludes served only to lure me into dropping my guard for the next scare. Highly recommended.

Goldman's earlier work includes 08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail, a gorgeous and engrossing history of the 2008 elections, and Shooting War, a trenchant commentary on war photography in the Internet age. As with Red Light Properties, both books blend photography, xerography, computer graphics and illustration in a style that's reminiscent of Dave Gibbons and Cameron Stewart and really jumps off the page.

Goldman is touring with Red Light Properties, and we have his tour schedule (which finishes with a stop at Mumbai Comic-Con!) as well as the first 28 pages of the new book after the jump.

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#Euromaidan: Must-see photos and stories from the front lines


An amazing post on Livejournal from Ilya "Zyalt" Varlamov gives a glimpse of life behind the barricades at the #Euromaidan uprising in Kiev, Ukraine. Zyalt's photos and text convey the diversity of the rebel lines -- "from students to pensioners" -- and the ingenuity they display in everything from homebrewed catapaults to morale-boosting drumming ("When casual stone- and grenade-throwing takes place, the knock is monotonous, in order to set rhythm and keep the morale. When Berkut attacks, drumming becomes louder and everyone hears that – for some it is a signal to run away, for some, on the opposite – defend the barricades.") At the end, we see the moment when the smoke clears and the truce begins. This is nailbiting, engrossing, terrifying stuff.

Here's hoping that all our readers in Ukraine are safe, especially Daniel, who wrote our first post on #Euromaidan.

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Letter from a Chinese forced-labor camp found in Kmart Hallowe'en decorations


Since last Hallowe'en, a woman in Oregon has been circulating a letter she found in a box of decorative tombstones she bought at Kmart. The letter was written by a prisoner in a forced labor camp in China's Masanjia camp; he was imprisoned for practicing Falun Gong, a banned religion whose members have long been targetted for brutal suppression by the Chinese state. CNN located the ex-prisoner and interviewed him as he narrated a story of "inhumane torture" at the camp.

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Exclusive excerpt from Art Spiegelman's Co-Mix retrospective


This autumn, Drawn and Quarterly released Co-Mix: A Retrospective of Comics, Graphics, and Scraps, a retrospective of the work of Pulitizer-winning comics creator Art "Maus" Spiegelman.

On November 8, New York's Jewish Museum will debut a show based on the book, featuring many of the original pieces collected in its pages. The show will run until March 23, and Spiegelman will give a presentation at the museum on December 5.

The nice folks at Drawn and Quartlerly have supplied us with some of J Hoberman's fascinating critical essay on Spiegelman, which is part of the show and the book; as well as material on Spiegelman's work for Topps (Garbage Pail Kids, etc), and his work on breakdowns. You can see it all after the jump.

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David Miranda's lawyers nastygram the UK government

David Miranda has retained Bindmans LLP, an intimidating firm of UK lawyers, to send a letter to the British government regarding his nine-hour detention in Heathrow and the confiscation of his electronics and data, apparently in a misguided attempt to intimidate the journalist Glenn Greenwald. It's quite a remarkable letter, demanding the return of Miranda's goods, a full accounting as to what has happened to his data, and a declaration that his search was unlawful.

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Kill City Blues: Sandman Slim versus the elder gods of the dead mall


Kill City Blues is the latest in Richard Kadrey's amazing hard-boiled supernatural thriller series Sandman Slim. I've been a Kadrey fan since his landmark debut novel Metrophage, and have read and enjoyed all his work since, but Sandman Slim are the novels Kadrey was born to write.

Sandman Slim is a "Sub Rosa," part of the hidden world of magical people and beings who live beneath our noses. A precocious and gifted magician, he inspired jealousy in his coven, who conspired to send him to Hell while he was still alive. He was a novelty in the Underworld, and was sent to fight in a gladitorial pit, and eventually trained to be an assassin. After a daring escape from Hell, he returned to Los Angeles to reap a horrific revenge on the former friends who'd doomed him.

That was several books ago. Now, in book five, Sandman Slim has been around the block a few times, experienced several dramatic turns in his life, fought off zombies and vampires and creatures from beyond the universe, discovered the true identity of God and Lucifer, and stumbled upon the universe's impending unwinding.

Kill City Blues is the story of that impending universal destruction, and it revolves around the hunt for an artifact that may be our plane's only defense against the elder gods who are seeking to break in and reclaim the reality that was stolen from them. And of course, Sandman Slim isn't the only one hunting for it. His quest leads him -- and his competitors -- to Kill City, a dead Santa Monica megamall where the roof caved in and killed hundreds. Now it is haunted, and squatted by feral sub-rosa and "lurkers" and worse things. The quest through Kill City's demon-haunted, blood-drenched halls and towers and deeps is one of the great horror setups of all time, and delves into situations that would turn Clive Barker's stomach, the likes of which haven't been seen since the heyday of splatterpunk.

If there's one thing Kill City Blues demonstrates, it's that Kadrey's still got a ton of material for Sandman Slim. I can't wait to read it all.

Kill City Blues

Previous reviews:

1. Kadrey's SANDMAN SLIM: a hard-boiled revenge novel from Hell

2. KILL THE DEAD: Kadrey's grisly, hard-boiled sequel to SANDMAN SLIM

3. Aloha From Hell: Sandman Slim goes back to Hell and kicks more ass

4. Devil Said Bang: Sandman Slim finds it's lonely at the top