Call for Feature Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

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Thursday, Dec 10, 2009
Marvel The Expanding Universe Wall Chart - Michael Mallory - Universe [$45.00]

This large scale, impeccably detailed wall chart is a map to the Marvel Universe. Spanning more than six feet, no detail is left unregistered in the lineage of Marvel heroes and villains. The immense detail that went into chart makes it a must have for any Marvel fan. Accurate and detailed illustrations accompany the text; leaving no radio active rock in the Marvel Universe unturned. The serious fans will appreciate the chronicle of lesser known characters and everyone else will just be impressed by its scope.


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Monday, Dec 7, 2009
Batman: Last Rites: The Last Days of Gotham - DC Comics [$2.99]

“The Last Days of Gotham” is, sadly, the sort of rare story that comic books tell so infrequently these days. It is short, concise, and to the point. It is haunting and thought-provoking in all the right ways, but that does little to nothing to diminish the sense of fun that pervades this particular Batman story and once pervaded most of the industry as a whole. However, there are two unfortunate circumstances surrounding “The Last Days of Gotham”. The first is that it is remarkably upsetting that a story of this type and caliber had to emerge out of something as messy and awkward as “Batman: RIP”. The second is that it will more than likely be a very long time before the various Batman series, or, indeed, most comic books, will feel like this again.


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Friday, Dec 4, 2009
All Star Superman - DC Comics [$2.99 each]

To say that Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All Star Superman feels like the culmination of the character’s history is not to slight those who are working or will eventually work on the world’s first superhero. If anything, it should show what can be done with the character, and serve as maybe the start of a second chapter in his history. Calling the series a heartfelt, masterful work is like saying Citizen Kane is “a good movie” and that Bob Dylan is “a clever poet”. In other words, it is a massive understatement, the kind usually reserved for sarcastic comments.


Morrison has carefully crafted the depiction of each important character in the Superman mythos, amalgamating various Lex Luthors, Jimmy Olsens and Lois Lanes into the definitive version of each icon. References are made to stories, characters and places from a number of disparate sources, including Curt Swan, Alan Moore, Smallville and, yes, Morrison himself. Moreover, a number of new concepts are introduced—among them a tyrannical dinosaur overlord and a wacky, Willy Wonka-esque scientist named Leo Quintum—that fit right into the world and tone of this essential Superman.


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Wednesday, Dec 2, 2009
Studs Terkel’s Working: A Graphic Adaptation - New Press [$22.95]

Studs Terkel’s Working: A Graphic Adaptation presents 27 interviews with everyone from “John Fuller: Mail Carrier” to “Mario and Bob Anichini: Stone cutters” and “Brett Hauser: Supermarket box-boy”. It’s not taking anything away from Terkel’s original work to say that this volume comes across as a period piece: it’s like a time capsule from an era when most workers were male and females were relegated to a few sex-typed occupations (prostitute, waitress, nurse).


This graphic adaptation by Harvey Pekar and 16 artists successfully illustrates the voices of Terkel’s workers while providing new layers of meaning through the artist’s interpretations of the stories. Pekar is the logical choice to adapt Terkel’s book, since his original work largely deals with the daily lives of ordinary working people: most often himself, but also friends and family including his coworker Robert McNeill. As the title of his long-running series American Splendor (1976-2008) implies, Pekar finds splendor where others might see only the daily grind of existence, and has a gift for finding the telling anecdote or quotation to illustrate a point or typify a character.


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Wednesday, Dec 2, 2009
1,000 Comic Books You Must Read - Tony Isabella – KP [$29.99]

From the birth of Superman in the ‘30s to the complex graphic novels of the new millennium, this book covers it all. This review of the comic book world, past and present, leaves nary a page unturned, nary a cover uncovered on this vast subject. With short reviews, cross referencing and a sense of humor, Isabella displays the cultural relevance the industry has held through the decades. An inspired gift choice for any comic book fan, or even the dabbler.


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