Thursday, March 31, 2011

MoCCA Fest 2011

Come! It's almost time. Time to spend money you don't have on comics you can't live without. The ritual draws near...

This will be my second visit to MoCCA since its relocation from The Puck Building. I only imagine they've grown into the space, which I am a fan of. I like my conventions to feel like conventions and the Armory achieves this. Of the many exhibitors I am raring to go see, Kate Beaton is at the top. Of the top. In fact, the whole store is probably going, just to see her.

Plus, this year Al Jaffee will receive the Klein Award. And a dear memoryof a previous MoCCA was running into Mr. Jaffee outside, exclaiming, "You're amazing!", then running away. At the very least, come embarrass yourself in front of a legend.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Iris Murdoch

Follow through and read the whole piece at the Paris Review. Murdoch talks about letter-writing taking up a large part of the day and how the "readable novel is a gift to humanity." These are true things.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bookmark Collection

It usually feels like there's no more internet. At the beginning of the year, I began to work on a small side project of gathering press about the store, from the very recent to the long past. And it felt like I had read everything, EVERYTHING, even if in my heart of hearts I knew that couldn't be true. First of all, there were absolutely articles hidden behind a paywall, which I let be. Not to mention the myriad of items from a certain time that surely exist only in print. Second, the fruitfulness of my third, fifth, sixth set of searches clearly demonstrated all I had missed in the first or fourth go-round. When I had time, I would just rerun queries, going deeper into my results.

Today, I was running an image search and just kept going. And found this. Fuat and Melissa: we are still here. We only lost the battle, not the war. Send us your address and we'll mail you our new bookmarks.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Just finished: Knock Three One Two, by Fredric Brown. Man! I missed reading Brown. So good, such a distinctive voice. Pity NOTHING is still in print. Bleh.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fantastic Four

This past January saw the death of the Human Torch at the conclusion of the "Three" storyline. While not as big a deal as the unmasking of Spider-Man or the death of Captain America, both of which grabbed big headlines, the death of the Human Torch, as written and drawn by the surprisingly adept Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting, has proven to be an unusually touching entry in the plot driven genre of superhero event comics. The unmasking of Spider-Man and the death of Captain America were the endcaps to Civil War, Marvel's potentially interesting but failed attempt to inject realpolitik into the Marvel universe. As is typical of the life cycle of superhero comics, those two big changes have since been reversed, the former by the devil(!?) and the latter by… time travel? clones? I'm not really clear what happened there, but everyone's favorite WWII veteran is back slinging the shield around. And, as near as I can tell, the most lasting change Marvel's Civil War brought about is a marked increase in the number of press conferences written into Marvel event comics.

The Human Torch is due to be replaced in the FF family by Spider-Man in the FF #1 series reboot due out this coming week, a development 48 years in the offing. The observant will note that the publication date of The Amazing Spider-Man #1 was also March; the even more observant will note that this coming November marks the 50th anniversary of The Fantastic Four's first appearance, which would make an excellent opportunity for a reunion of Marvel's first nuclear family. Until then they'll be wearing new costumes that look a little too much like they're going to work in a clean room. This will also be the second redesign of Spider-Man's costume this month, though I am a much bigger fan of this Fantastic Four costume for him.

While the change in status quo will likely not last past the end of the year, the current storyline is well worth your attention. Starting back in FF # 570, collected in Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman, Vol. 1 (the "Three" storyline is due out in volume four this April), with the dizzying story of what happens when Reed goes to his room of one hundred ideas to change the world and attempts #101: "Solve everything." Reed activates an amazing machine(!) and joins the continuum of all the possible Mr. Fantastic's who have ever attempted so bold a plan. There are Reed Richards with all of the cosmic ray granted powers of his family; three different Mr. Fantastics with the godlike omnipotence of the Infinity Gauntlet, one of whose green cloak and armor looks more than a little like a certain Latverian statesman's; and finally, a Reed who is simply an ordinary man who shows him the true cost of his hopes and ambitions. Hickman takes the disparate elements of the world of the Fantastic Four and uses them brilliantly to tell the poignant story of the kind of man a transhuman genius chooses to be.


March 16th through 26th is Dutch Book Week. The focus this year is on the autobiography, and the idea of a "written portrait" has been translated into an art campaign featuring works like the one above: books sculpted to look like the faces of their authors. It's a really cool idea, but mostly just makes me think of what a nightmare shelving and finding these things in the store would be, both in terms of difficulty and creepiness. But maybe I would want to read one on the train. [Behance via Gizmodo]

Thursday, March 17, 2011


A class at Brooklyn College is using Young Adam. The syllabus itself contains a perfect book list. From Hell, T.A.Z., We Have Always Lived in the's a good lot of great reading.

They're clearly up to Young Adam. And a number of the students have come in over the past week, asking for it by author last name. Author last name, alone.

Nobody has asked for anything else this way. Ever. But people just walk in and say to me, "Trocchi." Explain it to me. Will people ask for From Hell in the same manner? Just wander in and intone, "Moore?"

It wouldn't be a bad thing, I just want to be prepared.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kathy Griffin Wants a Tony

So if you're a Kathy Griffin fan, as I am, you have most likely seen her stand up on Bravo, along with My Life on the D-List, and most likely read her amazing book, Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin. However, nothing beats seeing her live...

Last night I had the great pleasure of seeing Kathy Griffin's newest adventure, Kathy Griffin Wants a Tony. Now for anyone who likes or follows Kathy Griffin, she is definitely a gay icon and a gay rights enthusiast. This is what makes her unbelievably unique and wonderful. Only Kathy Griffin would go to gay rallies as an actual celebrity (let's face it, even if her life is on the D-List, she has definitely reached A-List standards with two Emmys, a Grammy nomination, and soon a Tony nomination).

When I walked into the theater, I was welcomed by the sublime I Whip My Hair (Willow Smith) only to be followed by Believe (Cher) and Alejandro (Lady Gaga). Her merchandise is everywhere, fans are filing in. They start to get excited when Tiffany, Kathy Griffin's assistant, comes onstage to pour the first water bottle into her cup and straw. The room goes black and the fans go wild. Her show starts with clips from people talking about her, her shows, her stand-up and interviews. One interview being when she was on The View, where the super conservative Elizabeth Hasselbeck questioned her saying, "You said things about people here, that were A: untrue and B: not so funny, so do you ever feel weird coming and sitting here...?" To which her reply was: "Actually, this moment is what I live for, so bring it." Then, a montage of celebrities introducing her: Rosie O'Donnell, Cloris Leachman and the infamous Bette Midler.

The first thing you notice, at least that I noticed, about Kathy Griffin is how unbelievably tiny she is. Her first words were, "HELLO NEW YORK!" followed by, "Oh take my picture, break the rules, I don't care". Then it became the typical but always amazing Kathy Griffin stand-up routine including her Whitney Houston and Oprah impressions, which I have to say made the night complete for me. She also talked about the infamous, always winning, tiger blooded Charlie Sheen.

What made the night amazing was her constant talk on Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. One story involved Michele Bachmann and her involvement in the Tea Party. Kathy was attending the Radio and Television Correspondents' Dinner, where she ran into Bachmann on an escalator. That is when Bachmann's assistant pulled a flip camera out and asked Kathy what she was doing at the dinner. She asked Bachmann about joining her in the campaign to have Don't Ask, Don't Tell revoked. Bachmann, of course, replied no. Kathy Griffin, being her lovable and hilarious self asked Michele Bachmann, "So, were you born a bigot or did you just become one over time?" Her reply, "I don't know..." Kathy tried again, "Okay, let me rephrase: since you won't join me in gay rights, were you born a bigot, or did you just become one, environmentally?" And this is where I really start worrying about people that share her politics because the reply to this question? "That's a good question. I'm going to have to get back to you on that one."

She had many things to say about New York City. I believe her best story involved the rain we had last week. Apparently in Los Angeles when it rains, shows are canceled and no one usually shows up, but of course that is not the scene in NYC. When it rains, Kathy Griffin likes to wear a shower cap from the hotel, so her hair doesn't get wet, which is completely understandable. She starts with, "I love how when it rains, the streets are like graveyards for umbrellas". Then she starts talking about how she is walking with her Team Griffin down the street, sees an umbrella on the ground and thinks, "Oh man someone lost their umbrella." Then she continues to walk and sees more; then "I see a man in front of me whose umbrella gets blown inside out and he just throws it at a window!" She later comments, "I love how you guys just stack broken umbrellas on trash cans, like its okay... yeah, it's fine there." Then because the rain was so heavy, they decide to take the train. She said "I believe it was the F train" (which lead to an uproar from the side of the theater) "Oh shout out... they are like, oh that is my train!"

This show was absolutely amazing; Kathy Griffin can make my sides hurt for hours. She is truly talented and hilarious. If you get a chance to see the show and you are a fan, GO! Yes, tickets are a little pricey, but it is worth it for the two straight hours of complete comedy. The best part is that she's not scripted. She told stories about things that happened that day and she was super communicative to the audience. If you're lucky, she will even sign your Playbill outside the stage door.

She is performing at the Belasco Theater on 44th Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue. You can purchase tickets at the box office or online at If you want a laugh from a great source of entertainment, get a ticket.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Karen Russell & Melissa James Gibson: Signing & Discussion

Wednesday, March 16th
Tanger Auditorium
Brooklyn College
6PM to 7:30PM

Please join us at Brooklyn College as we set up a table alongside the spectacular Karen Russell and Melissa James Gibson. Russell is the author of Swamplandia! and St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves will be reading and signing copies of her books. She appeared on the New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 list, and was chosen as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists. Her stories have been featured in The Best American Short Stories, Conjunctions, Granta, The New Yorker, Oxford American, and Zoetrope.

Melissa James Gibson is a playwright. Her many works include This (Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalist); [sic] (OBIE Award for playwriting, Kesselring Prize, The Best Plays of 2001-02); Suitcase or, Those That Resemble Flies From a Distance (NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights); Brooklyn Bridge, with a song by Barbara Brousal (AT&T Onstage award); and Current Nobody (Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalist).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Would You Like Some MURDER With Your Coffee?

I have acquired, recently, a renewed vigor for drinking coffee. Why? Could it be because of the new student-run coffee shop at Brooklyn College? No. It's actually a result of reading Vintage Crime/Black Lizard novels. As you may have guessed from this post, a few of us here just read Thompson’s Killer Inside Me, and I guess I should be grateful that the only thing I picked up from the work was a powerful thirst for coffee. And maybe cigars. Read it and you’ll see what I mean.

One thing that strikes me about classic crime/noir works, like those of Dashiell Hammett or Jim Thompson, is that the characters seem to be pouring gallons of coffee (or whiskey or gin) into cups or down their throats every other paragraph, whether it is 4 in the afternoon or 2 in the morning. These people need to be fully charged with caffeine at all times, because they’ve got a lot of crime fighting and/or committing to do. A lot of innocent people to protect, even if it means killing a lot of innocent people in the process. Or at least a little bit of money to be made.

I’d taken a break from coffee for a while, and then drank only a little; but now I’ve decided to try to move through the Vintage Crime catalog, and it’s become full-blown habit again. I also have a strong desire to pay for things with metal change, to eat breakfast at 3 in the morning (n.b. “breakfast” can either mean food or gin, apparently), and to get some shabbier suits. Almost makes me wish I were surrounded by corruption and guns and shady characters and booze so I would have something to do with all this extra energy other than writing this post.

Anyway, so far I’ve read The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson, and The Maltese Falcon and Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammet. I think I may have also read The Continental Op but I can’t remember. Currently, I’m moving through Shoot the Piano Player, originally published as Down There, by David Goodis. Hey, all of these books have movie adaptations, some of them really good: maybe we can get Dante to write about them? In the meantime, come pick one up from our store and check it out. But read at your own risk, or you might find yourself taking cigarettes with your coffee instead of milk.
"Thanks to five-hour energy I can get to twice as much sleuthing!" said Spade.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains

Once upon a time, I watched this movie and it was the best.
A really weird thing to hold in your mind about it? 
It came out in 1981, just a year after Times Square.
Were they being made in tandem? Was it part of a deliberate plan to flood theaters with movies about teenage girls forming bands? God, I hope so.
For the sake of brevity, I want to say they're the same movie, only that's not true.
Don't put out, don't give up.
Or maybe I just really like the idea of a band with Laura Dern and Diane Lane. 
Ladies, I want a sequel. Please? Dante will write it and everything.
Times Square has Tim Curry and is about escaping hospitals and destroying televisions. Also, garbage bag dresses and a New York that doesn't really exist anymore.
I recommend seeing both, really.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Killer Inside Me

"I grinned, feeling a little sorry for him. It was funny the way these people kept asking for it. Just latching onto you, no matter how you tried to brush them off, and almost telling you how they wanted it done. Why'd they all have to come to me to get killed? Why couldn't they kill themselves?"

- The Killer Inside Me, Jim Thompson

Thursday, March 3, 2011


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