Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Dracula Still Thrills After More Than a Century

October 31st, 2011 No comments

If any of you are looking for a scary tale to settle down with after all the little candy goblins have slipped dreamily into a sugar coma, try the classic blood-sucking tale Dracula by Bram Stoker. A recent AP article sings the praises of the archetypal vampire, comparing him favorably to the contemporary literary vampires of the angst-y teen heartthrob and tragic Southern gentlemen varieties. “Vampires have become too soft, too lovelorn, too nice. There’s no good side to the original Count Dracula. He’s evil, plain and simple.”

“From the first pages of the 1897 novel, with all those villagers watching solicitor Jonathan Harker make his way to the Count’s castle in Transylvania, the book draws you in…Dracula is surprisingly easy to read, and I highly recommend its company while waiting for trick or treaters.” Read more…

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The Lurid Truth Behind True Crime Comics

October 28th, 2011 No comments

In 1942 Lev Gleason, a small publishing firm, released a new true crime comic called Crime Does Not Pay, co-edited, written and illustrated by Bob Wood and Charles Biro. The stories recounted actual crimes perpetrated by many of the day’s high profile mobsters including “Baby Face” Nelson and Charles “Lucky” Luciano. They were meant to be morality tales, though the criminals’ violent escapades and erotic encounters were thrillingly detailed, often to dramatic effect, and the moral of the story was usually relegated to a brief concluding paragraph. The mixture of sex and violence was an automatic hit with the American public and circulation of the comics quickly rose into the millions. The editors’ enthusiasm for lurid material, put Crime Does Not Pay on the censors’ radar, and was a contributing factor in the passing of the Comics Code in 1954. According to an article in the Star Tribune, these new, tighter restrictions on comic book content quickly put Crime Does Not Pay and all its imitators out of business. Read more…


The Phantom Tollbooth Turns 50

October 26th, 2011 No comments

As beloved children’s book, The Phantom Tollbooth, turns 50 years old, author Norton Juster reflects on the book’s creation in a guest article for NPR. The idea for his debut book, which tells the story of a young, restless boy named Milo who discovers a mysterious toll booth and embarks on adventures in the Lands Beyond, came to Juster in a round about way.

“Like most good things that have happened in my life, The Phantom Tollbooth came about because I was trying to avoid doing something else. It was 1958, and after three years in the Navy I returned to New York City to work as an architect. I had also received a grant to do a book on cities for children. I started with great energy and enthusiasm until I found myself waist-deep in stacks of 3-by-5 note cards, exhausted and dispirited. This is not what I wanted to do.” Read more…


Amazon’s New KF8 Format Enriches eBook Designs

October 25th, 2011 No comments

Kindle Fire will be released November 15

Last week, Amazon announced its new eBook file format, Kindle Format 8 (KF8), which is based on HTML5. Though there are already eBook formats based on various versions of HTML, such as EPUB and Kindle’s current file format, which is a version of Mobipocket, none of these existing file types can offer the design flexibility of HTML5. An article on the popular tech blog Ars Technia praises KF8 for “bridging the gap” between the design limiting eBook formats and PDF files, which “offer much richer control over presentation.”

“HTML5 features such as CSS3 formatting, nested tables, SVG graphics, embedded fonts, and borders are all now supported. The new format includes much richer layout options, including fixed layouts—essential for accurate reproduction of many children’s books—and panel-based layouts for comic books.” Read more…


An Unprecedented look into the Life of Steve Jobs

October 21st, 2011 No comments

Apple fanatics around the world are hotly anticipating the arrival of Steve Jobs (Simon & Schuster, 656pgs) the biography by Walter Isaacson, which hits shelves on Monday October 24. Isaacson, a high-profile biographer, was granted Jobs’ full cooperation with the book and was allowed exclusive access to the highly private entrepreneur. The pair met for dozens of interviews, the last taking place a few short weeks before the creative visionary’s passing on October 5. In an interview with the Associated Press, Isaacson provides an early glimpse into Jobs’ private life. Their conversations touched on many subjects, including the impetus for the Apple name, which Jobs came up with after visiting an apple orchard during his experimentation with a fruitarian diet. He felt the name was “fun, spirited and not intimidating.” Read more…


Chip Kidd Previews Cover Design for Murakami’s 1Q84

October 19th, 2011 No comments

Preeminent book designer Chip Kidd discusses the concept behind the beautifully designed cover art for Haruki Murakami’s latest novel, 1Q84 (Knopf, 944pgs), in a short video posted on the Los Angeles Times website today. To align with the book’s theme of parallel realities, Kidd printed part of the 4-color artwork on transparent vellum which overlays the artwork printed on the cover stock beneath. The occurrence of two moons in the book’s plot is also referenced in the design of the end papers. In the video, Kidd also alludes to a mystery involving the book’s page numbers, but readers will have to puzzle that one out themselves, once the book is released here in the U.S, on October 25. Read more…


“The Walking Dead” Zombie Mayhem Continues

October 17th, 2011 No comments

Fans of The Walking Dead get a double dose of zombie mayhem with the premier of season two of the AMC television series last night and the recent release of The Walking Dead: Rise of The Governor (Thomas Dunne Books, 320pgs), a book written by story creator Robert Kirkman and horror writer Jay Bonansinga. This is the first novel for The Walking Dead franchise, which began as a series of comic books. “I always thought about branching out into prose and doing a Walking Dead novel,” Kirkman explains in a interview with USA Today. “With the hype around the second season and the comic book series doing so well, it seems like the perfect time to launch it.” Read more…


The Wit of Shel Silverstein Returns

September 23rd, 2011 No comments

There are millions of adults out there who were obsessed with Shel Silverstein’s poems in Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic at some point during their childhood. What kid could resist that magical blend of humor and storytelling accompanied by the author’s quirky illustrations? Now a new generation of children can enjoy a brand new book by Silverstein, and become entranced by his lyrical wit. This week, HarperCollins released Every Thing On It, a compilation of poetry and artwork that has never been published before. Though the writer passed away in 1999, this posthumous publication is not a tossed together collection of his lesser work. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the book “was culled from material Silverstein really liked but never found a place for in his other collections.” Read more…


Roald Dahl’s Most Memorable Villains

September 19th, 2011 No comments

The Witches 1st edition cover art.

Last Tuesday, September 13, would have been author Roald Dahl’s 95th birthday. To honor the icon of children’s literature, Flavorwire posted an article listing ten of the writer’s best villains. Some nasty all-stars made the cut, such as the repulsive aunt Spiker and aunt Sponge, who torment the orphan James in James and the Giant Peach. Miss Agatha Trunchbull, the sadistic headmistress in Matilda, also topped the list. Some lesser known, but equally cruel, baddies rounded out the top ten, including the disgustingly hairy couple from The Twits and the Grand High Witch from The Witches, all of whom absolutely detest small children. Who is your favorite villain in the Roald Dahl catalog?

In a strange turn of events last week, members of Dahl’s own family are being accused of villainy, or at least stinginess, after granddaughter Sophie Dahl made a public plea to help raise £500,000 ($790,000) to save the novelist’s writing hut on British radio. The U.K., like most of the world, is suffering from a weak economy and members of the public responded with outrage that a family that still reaps the royalties from the healthy sales of Dahl’s books are asking for financial help. Read more…


Chick Lit Cover Art Causes Author/Publisher Rift

September 16th, 2011 No comments

British author Polly Courtney has severed ties with publisher HarperCollins out of frustration at how the jacket art on her last three books have portrayed her stories as frivolous chick lit. “My writing has been shoehorned into a place that’s not right for it,” she states in an interview with The Guardian. “It is commercial fiction, it is not literary, but the real issue I have is that it has been completely defined as women’s fiction … Yes it is page turning, no it’s not War and Peace. But it shouldn’t be portrayed as chick lit.”

The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was the cover design for Courtney’s latest book It’s a Man’s World, which features a lithe young woman in a short skirt and high heals, standard imagery that characterizes much of women’s fiction. The novelist feels the cover misrepresents the story, which is about a woman’s struggle to helm an all male staff at a men’s magazine. Read more…