Sunday, May 1, 2016

Books: What Have You Been Reading Lately? : Barton, Offutt, Beukes


THE WIDOW  by Fiona Barton Hardcover, 336 pages.  Published February 16th 2016 by NAL  Fiction.
25734248Too bad the Marketing Hype Machine compared The Widow to Girl On The Train and Gone Girl. True, they are all thrillers but The Widow deserves to be assessed on it's own. Like Girl On The Train, this is a first novel from a UK woman with solid newspaper experience. Like Girl On The Train, The Widow is told from multiple points of view. Girl On The Train was told through three first person narrators. The only point of view in first person is that of Jeanne, the Widow of the title. In The Widow, we are treated to third person accounts of the Reporter, The Detective Inspector, and one other. Sad and disturbing, The Widow reads like a police procedural, but a damn good one with plenty of flavor. How well do married couples know each other after falling into years of complacency? The Widow is definitely worth checking out for fans of thrillers, mystery, and detective fiction.

from the Goodreads description:
When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen... 
But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore. 
There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.  
Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.

MY FATHER, THE PORNOGRAPHER  by Chris Offutt   Hardcover, 272 pages.  Published February 9th 2016 by Atria Books  Memoir, biography.
An impressive read, disturbing and sad throughout. Anyone who did not have an ideal relationship with a parent while growing up can empathize with the struggles of noted writer Chris Offutt in understanding his father, Andrew Offutt. 
As the oldest son growing up in the Appalachia region of Kentucky, Chris learned the hard way to be a supportive mentor to his younger siblings in the absence of his isolationist father, who shut himself into his office and wrote fiction all day. While his mother also supported and encouraged her children, she took a passive role when it came to the demands of the father. 
When Andrew Offutt passes away, Chris takes on the task of organizing his overflowing office. He learns that while his father was best known for writing science fiction and fantasy, he made his living from pornography, written under various pseudonyms. By researching his fathers files, notes and memorabilia Chris attempts to discover the father he really never knew. 
Andrew Offutt was one of the guests at the first science fiction convention I attended in Columbus, Ohio in 1972. I was impressed with his wit, intelligence and public persona. It's shocking to learn about the person he was on the inside.
I admire the bravery of Chris Offutt to share this story and his feelings in such a public fashion. Fascinating reading, and highly recommended. 

from the Goodreads description:
After inheriting 400 novels of pornography written by his father in the 1970s and ‘80s, critically acclaimed author Chris Offutt sets out to make sense of a complicated father-son relationship in this carefully observed, beautifully written memoir.
When Andrew Offutt died, his son, Chris, inherited a desk, a rifle, and eighteen hundred pounds of pornographic fiction. Andrew had been considered the “king of twentieth-century smut,” with a writing career that began as a strategy to pay for his son’s orthodontic needs and soon took on a life of its own, peaking during the 1970s when the commercial popularity of the erotic novel reached its height.

BROKEN MONSTERS by Laura Beukes  Paperback, 464 pages . Published June 16th 2015 by Mulholland Books.  Fiction.                             
                                                      Fascinating reading. Starts out with discovery of serial killer victim, with some horrific elements. Continues as a standard crime novel / police investigation procedural. 23341578 ntroduces a wide variety of interesting and complex characters. Life in Detroit, a mix of urban blight and economic depravity. Takes a supernatural turn towards the end. Characters to become immersed in and care about. I want to read more by this skilled, insightful writer.

from the Goodreads description:
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.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

THE EAGLE, Neil Voke's classic hero returns to comics


from the official press release . . . . .
Baltimore, Maryland]– The Eagle soars again! It’s been over twenty years since Neil Vokes’ cult classic hero Eagle has graced the paneled pages of new comics. American Mythology Productions is bringing back the indie sensation with brand new chapters to the martial arts master detective’s ongoing saga.

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Created by comics icon Neil Vokes and Rich Rankin in 1986 during the original ‘80s black and white indie comic explosion, Eagle’s return to fans has been long overdue and a welcome addition to American Mythology’s rapidly expanding catalogue of titles. The new comic will follow the supernatural adventures of the vigilante Richard Eagle in his constant battle to find justice at the end of a sword.
Not only will Vokes and his new publisher be bringing one of his signature characters back to life, there are also plans to release new stories based on his Death’s Dark Angel (previously called Death’s Head) character, a dark future reflection of the twisted killer The Eagle will become. Both tales will entwine into a larger “Vokesverse” the publisher plans to help spotlight the imaginative artistic mastery of its creator with additional releases of Dark Tales from The Vokesverse. These stories highlight a career that spans more than three decades with suspense and blood-drenched creations in an incredible universe of nightmares, monsters, and mayhem. 
American Mythology Productions (AM) will launch The Eagle: Resurgent as a hauntingly ink-washed 48-page comic book that celebrates the first classic tale from the original series and features an all-new story that breathes fresh life into the cult hero. The book is featured in the comics section of the March 2016 edition of PREVIEWS from Diamond Comic Distributors, listed under “American Mythology Productions,” on page #277. It carries a $4.99 U.S. cover price. It’s Item Code from Diamond Comic Distributors is MAR161051 and is presently available for reorder. The new series brings back the original creative team of writer Jack Herman and art from Neil Vokes, unleashing a night of 1000 ninjas in this exciting and unique mix of martial arts, the occult, and horror. 
“When are you going to bring Eagle back? Ever since the demise of the EAGLE comic in the early ‘90s our fans have been asking that question. Not a single convention appearance all these years has gone by without at least one fan asking me that. I began a new story line many years back that involved the return of Eagle to Crystal City. This was based on an idea Rich, Jack Herman and I discussed while still doing the series,” Vokes said. 
“We had planned on ending the series at some point with Eagle’s ‘death’ – this was to occur after a final battle with his arch enemy, Wulfgar.  My plan then was to have the new storyline open years after the death of Eagle, who has now become a legend and eventually bring him back from ‘the dead” to start new adventures. It is there that we begin our new tale- in the middle of a battle to the death…,” he said.
“And to answer that decades long question (‘When are you going to bring Eagle back?’), well, here ya go!” he said.

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“This is one of those projects that you can’t help but get excited about being involved in. What Neil’s work has meant to the industry as a whole as a creator and artist has proven to be a benchmark,” said Michael Bornstein, American Mythology’s publisher. “His original work in the ‘80s was one of the catalyst’s lending to a veritable tidal wave of indie characters and comics that have not only survived but thrived and are more popular with today’s readers than ever. Eagle is one of those characters that fans just seem to respond to and we’re overjoyed to be able to bring this staple back to fandom. Join us as we relaunch history with The Eagle: Resurgent.” 
About Eagle
The Eagle is a character created by Neil Vokes and Rich Rankin in 1986. It originally ran 23 issues under Crystal Publications, a company started by Vokes and Rankin, and ended its run in 1989. For more information, please visit
About American Mythology Productions
American Mythology Productions (AM) is an intellectual property development firm that works in the areas of licensed, company-owned, co-owned and creator-owned comic books and other media. AM has working relationships with Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., C3 Entertainment Inc, MGM, Miramax, and other companies for titles including The Three StoogesThe Land That Time ForgotThe Pink PantherStargate AtlantisStargate UniverseEquilibrium, and others.  

Bart Sears, Ron Marz to revive OMINOUS PRESS


ArtisOminous hedt Bart Sears and writer Ron Marz, along with Sean HusVar and Andy Smith, will re-start Ominous Press this summer with three initial titles:  “Giantkillers” written and drawn by Sears; “Prometheus” written by Marz with art by Tom Raney; and “Demi-God” written by Marz with art by Smith.  The colorist on all three books will be Nanjan Jamberi.  Ominous Press will launch June 17-  June 19 at HeroesCon in Charlotte, North Carolina.

There is a detailed interview with the founders on the Comic Book Resources website here . . . . .


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Scuttlebutt # 5 for April 2016


VERTIGO, the mature cutting-edge arm of DC Entertainment, is scheduled for a re-evaluation and re-boot, according to a company statement recently revealed by the Comic Book Resources (CBR) website. Long time editor Shelly Bond will not be part of the process, and her position as Vertigo Executive Editor has been eliminated.

    We have a bad feeling about this, based on some DC statements establishing “the goal is to keep competitive and stay relevant in the changing marketplace, and to set the business up for future success.”  The last part of that statement usually does not bode well for indie creative endeavors.  No matter.  While VERTIGO will always have a fond place in our hearts for introducing TRANSMETROPOLITAN, PREACHER, SANDMAN, 100 BULLETS, FABLES, Y: THE LAST MAN and many others, of late the offerings have been not up to the quality standards of those previous works. The single current exception to that is THE SHERIFF OF BABYLON which deserves further recognition. (BC REFUGEES reviewed the first issue in December 2015. Read it here . . . . . ).

     Granted, the comics industry has matured since the early days of VERTIGO (which used to own this particular segment of the market).  With IDW, BOOM!  STUDIOS, AVATAR PRESS, and others putting out high-quality limited and mini-series with mature subject matter on a regular basis - - we can certainly survive the absence of VERTIGO.  And IMAGE COMICS is the preferred place for creator-owned properties these days.  They offer the best deal with all rights, including film and TV, remaining with the creators.  They have been the true ground-breaking publisher for Vertigo-quality books for several years now. 

Choose wisely, DC!  And keep your movie people out of the decision process, please.  


A new digital comic debuted this week n the Panel Syndicate website.  Once the word gets out, it should become a best-seller.  Popular writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Marcos Martin have teamed up to produce a 31 page, black and white, one-shot special THE WALKING DEAD: THE ALIEN set within the continuity established by creator Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Allard.  How this story differs is that it is the first to feature the zombie apocalypse outside of the United States. The action takes place in Barcelona, Spain.  

THE WALKING DEAD: THE ALIEN is available on the Panel Syndicate site as a DRM-free, pay-what-you-like digital comic. You can preview the book here . . . . .

Vaughan and Marcos recently signed an agreement with Image Comics to debut the print edition of their other digital comic collaboration - - THE PRIVATE EYE - - also available on Panel Syndicate.


There is a lengthy and thorough interview covering actress Barbara Bain and her days on the landmark original Mission Impossible television show conducted by Paul Bens on the Nameless Digest site.  Anyone one interested in the show or Bain’s career will want to read this here . . .

Sunday, April 24, 2016

JESSICA JONES series wins Peabody Award

EDITOR’S NOTE:  When it comes to comparing Marvel television series, the Netflix shows crush the ABC network offerings.  As a new viewer to Netflix, we are five episodes into the first season of JESSICA JONES and loving it.  This show gets better with every episode.  A well deserved award.  Also enjoying both seasons of DAREDEVIL (my favorite), and non-superhero shows HOUSE OF CARDS and PEAKY BLINDERS.  


from the official press release . . . . . . . . .

 “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” has walked away a winner in the 75th Annual Peabody Awards! Earning its prize in the Entertainment category, the first time Marvel has won the prestigious award.

Held every year to celebrate the best in broadcast entertainment, news, and education, the Peabody Awards represent the best each form has to offer.

"We are all so tremendously grateful. Starting with Melissa Rosenberg, our incredible writers and producers, Krysten Ritter and David Tennant and our wonderful cast, the talented crew and everyone at Marvel Television, Netflix and ABC Studios, this show was a gigantic effort on everyone's part and to be recognized in such a prestigious way is breathtaking,” said Executive Producer and Marvel’s Head of TV, Jeph Loeb. “Thank you!"

"The Peabody Awards celebrate the art and importance of storytelling, and we are immensely honored that the care and passion we brought to the telling of ‘Marvel’s Jessica Jones’ has resonated with so many others,” said Executive Producer and Showrunner, Melissa Rosenberg. “We are so proud to be recognized in this way."

“Marvel’s Jessica Jones,” now streaming only on Netflix, tells the story of Jessica Jones who, after a tragic ending to her short-lived super hero stint, is rebuilding her personal life and career as a detective who gets pulled into cases involving people with extraordinary abilities in New York City.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

SEVEN SEAS digital manga available through COMIXOLOGY

from the official press release . . . . . .

April 20, 2016 — New York, NY— Seven Seas, comiXology and Amazon announced today an expanded and renewed distribution agreement to sell Seven Seas’ digital manga across the comixology platform and extend the distribution of Seven Seas’ library to the Amazon Kindle store


Today’s announcement sees the debut of Seven Seas’ continuously expanding digital catalog in the Kindle Store including such hits as Magika Swordsman and Summoner, Servamp, Haganai: I Don't Have Many Friends and more.

"The way readers purchase and read their manga is always evolving, and having books on comiXology has been a great way to extend the availability of our series—not only to manga fans, but to comiXology's diverse community of readers as a whole," said Seven Seas’ representative, Lissa Pattillo. "We feel it's a natural step to continue expanding our digital offerings, and bringing our library of content onto Amazon's Kindle allows us to do just that, providing even more readers access to our collection of fan favorites."

“Seven Seas brought some of the first manga to comiXology opening a new world of stories to comiXology fans everywhere,” said comiXology’s Senior Director of Communication, Chip Mosher. “And now we’re excited to bring that amazing content to Kindle readers worldwide. It’s as easy as clicking on the Manga Tab on the comiXology homepage to find a favorite new title.”­

The Kindle Store gives readers access to millions of books on the most popular devices and platforms, including Fire tablets, Kindle e-readers, iOS, Android and more. 

With over 75,000 comics, graphic novels and manga from more than 75 publishers, comiXology offers the widest selection of digital comics in the world. ComiXology’s immense catalog and cinematic Guided View reading experience make it the best digital platform for comic fans worldwide.

About Seven Seas Entertainment 
Established in 2004, Seven Seas Entertainment specializes in bringing the best of Japanese manga to North American audiences, and producing original comics, graphic novels, and youth literature. Seven Seas is distributed by Tor/Macmillan. For more information, visit the publisher’s web site

Monday, April 18, 2016

Differences between comics' CIVIL WAR and upcoming movie CIVIL WAR

EDITOR’S NOTE:  There is a very well-researched article on the Comic Book Resources website regarding the upcoming Marvel CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR movie.  If the movie is only half as good as the 2006 limited series was, then it should be a vastly entertaining film.  In our opinion, the best two Marvel series of the 21st Century are CIVIL WAR and SECRET INVASION.  

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Granted, there are differences in characters between the comics and the movies.  So we should not expect the exact same situation or outcome.  There were also a large number of characters that took sides in the Marvel comics version; while there will be only those characters who have already been introduced in film (or about to be introduced) in the movie version. Also, the rationale and spark plug for registering super-heroes with the government differs.  

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We are looking forward to the movie. In the meantime, we can read this compelling comparison . . . . . . . .