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Sunday
Mar202011

The Weird World of Eerie Publications - Comic Gore That Warped Millions of Young Minds

If you’re of a certain age and read comic books in the ‘60s and early ‘70s, and carried with you a black sense of humor, you should fondly remember Eerie comics like Web of Mystery, Chamber of Chills, Terror Tales, Crime Does Not Pay, and countless others. I remember inconsistent distribution at my local drugstores when I was a kid making weekly comic-buying/searching rounds, but when Eerie titles showed up, I eagerly bought them (clearly, this era pre-dates comic book shops).

Eerie publisher Myron Fass is a fascinating character about whom relatively little is known; author Mike Howlett presents him as a pretty crazy make-a-buck guy who would pretty much publish anything he thought would sell. Clearly he enjoyed making the most of others’ ideas when possible. 

Leave it to contemporary comic artist Stephen R. Bissette (Swamp Thing, Taboo, Tyrant), to sum up the thrill and attraction of Eerie in his wonderful introduction, titled Weird Shit: A Contagious Confessional. Bissette hits all the nails on the head in this essay; I kept thinking I was reading about myself.

 Doing justice to the colorful graphics of Eerie, this is a large-size coffee-table art book, populated by slumming artists and creatives of the 1950s and ‘60s. Costing $32.95 for 310 pages jammed with beautiful cover and interior page reproductions, I invite you to enter the Weird World of Eerie Publications. (www.feralhouse.com)

Sunday
Mar202011

Is This The Real Life? The Untold Story of Queen

How many times have we heard “We Will Rock You” in our lives? I imagine that a couple of generations of fans, at least, never heard Queen perform while they were together (at least when Freddie Mercury was alive), but are too-familiar with “Bohemian Rhapsody” and a couple of other Queen songs common to arenas and sporting events.

If you’re interested in Queen, certainly one of the premier arena-rock bands of all time, but in my mind overrated, author Blake does a good job with the story from early days to ending. Mercury has been dead since 1991, guitarist Brian May periodically pops up at a benefit event, but I imagine most rock fans don’t truly know much about how Queen got together and what their career was really like. Is This The Real Life? isn’t a page-turner, but it’s nonetheless full of stories and is interesting. ($25, DaCapo Press)

Sunday
Mar202011

Heat Wave: The Life and Career of Ethel Waters

Waters has been relatively unknown to most music fans, even those familiar with her contemporaries Billie Holiday and Lena Horne. Her career encompassed Broadway, Hollywood (Ethel Waters was nominated for an Academy Award), vaudeville and the world of blues and popular music. In other words, Waters did it all! And still nobody really knows much about her. Until now.

 

Heat Wave is a deeply focused telling of her tumultuous story and career by author Donald Bogle; Waters embodied different personalities at times in her career and reinvented herself time and again. Her story is compelling and sad; Bogle has created a motion picture within the 590 pages of this big book, bringing Waters to life. (Harper, $26.99)

Sunday
Mar202011

Mass Made Simple: A Six-Week Journey into Bulking by Dan John

Myths abound related to gaining muscle, becoming strong, succeeding in the weight-training life. Dan John stands for common sense, incorporating logical nutrition and training into results-generating workout programs, and Mass Made Simple doesn’t stray.

Everywhere are guides to getting big and strong, ripped and shredded, big and little. Most of them are useless and stupid. John is the living epitome of working hard and smart, getting results in athletics (not just the gym), and teaching others how to succeed themselves. No matter your sport, if weight training is part of your protocol or interest, you’ll learn from Mass Made Simple how to be better in the gym and on the competitive field. 

One of my favorite aspects of this book are the black and white photos of Dan himself performing exercises and movements, rather than a pretty model with washboard abs. I like it! Also nice is the clean format; a ring spine and pages one can take notes on. Toss Mass Made Simple into your bag and consider it an essential part of your tool box in the gym. Nice design, Laree. (OnTargetPublications.net, $19.95)

Monday
Mar142011

Terry Southern Remembered

The nearly-forgotten writer of such classic works as "Candy," "Easy Rider," "Barbarella," "Magic Christian," and "Dr. Strangelove" is remembered via a video project from the Red Dirt Collective. Watch their preliminary videos, including conversation with Terry's son. Their objective is to bring Southern to the attention of people today; he's really been forgotten, and should be honored.

In the late '60s and throughout the '70s I was a fan of Southern's writing, whether books or his interviews. He was crabby and direct and thoughtful. Read his work if you haven't, and turn others on to it.