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Weekly Book Buzz: Frank Frazetta Robbed By His Son

We Review Star Trek The Art of the Film

By Tim Janson     December 13, 2009


Frank Frazetta Museum Robbed!
© Frank Frazetta

 

Considering this is the last full shopping week before Christmas it’s a very slow release week so all of this week’s titles are condensed into one section. The news this week reads a bit like a police blotter…
 
…Alfonso Frazetta, son of legendary fantasy artist Frank Frazetta, was arrested December 9 for trying to break into his own father’s Museum in Pennsylvania. With two accomplices, Frazetta was attempting to make off with 90 paintings with an estimated calue of $20 million dollars. The younger Frazetta claimed he had permission from his father to move the paintings to a storage facility but when contacted in Florida, Frank Frazetta denied giving his son permission to take the paintings…Ah the Holiday Season…peace on Earth and good will to man!
 
… Hugo-nominated author Peter Watts was reportedly beaten, pepper-sprayed, and imprisoned by American border guards on December 8, 2009. Watts was attempting to cross from Canada to Port Huron, Mi when the guards decided to search his car. He was arrested when he got out of his car to confront the guards. Let me tell you this…I’ve crossed that same bridge myself as well as the Ambassador Bridge to Windsor. When the guards ask to search your car you keep your mouth shut and let them go about their business.
 
…Dynamite Entertainment has purchased the rights to titles and properties owned by the Dabel Brothers. Dabel did comic adaptations of well known fantasy and Sci-Fi works including Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. Dynamite will take over production, marketing, sales, and all other aspects of the business
 
Tuck (The King Raven Trilogy) Stephen R. Lawhead (Thomas Nelson)
 
King Raven has brought hope to the oppressed people of Wales - and fear to their Norman overlords. Deceived by the self-serving King William and hunted by the treacherous Abbot Hugo and Sheriff de Glanville, Rhi Bran is forced again to take matters into his own hands as King Raven. Along the way Friar Tuck has been the stalwart supporter of the man behind the legend - bringing Rhi Bran much-needed guidance, wit, and faithful companionship. Aided by Tuck and his small but determined band of forest-dwelling outlaws, Rhi Bran ignites a rebellion that spreads through the Welsh valleys, forcing the wily monarch to marshal his army and march against little Elfael.
 
Conan's Brethren: The Complete Collection Robert E. Howard (Gollancz)
 
A master of all genres of pulp, from historical adventure and detective stories to western and boxing fiction, Robert E. Howard invented the genre now known as Sword-and-Sorcery, and it is for these larger than life tales of heroic fantasy and horror that he is best remembered. Plucked from the pages of Weird Tales and other pulp magazines, his mighty heroes are brought together in one collection—the vengeful Puritan swashbuckler Solomon Kane; Howard's first barbarian hero King Kull; Bran Mak Morn, the last of the Picts; Red Sonja, She-Devil with a Sword; and many others. World Fantasy Award-nominee Les Edwards contributes a black and white frontispiece, along with a gold embossed work on the leather-style cover, while Hugo Award- and Bram Stoker Award-winning editor and author Stephen Jones compiled the selections and provides an insightful afterword.
 
 
Doctor Who: Through Time and Space John Ostrander (IDW Graphic Novel)
 
Collecting six original stories of the popular sci-fi show, Doctor Who, all featuring the Tenth Doctor, as portrayed by David Tennant. Includes the one-shots The Whispering Gallery, The Time Machination, Autopia, Cold-Blooded Cold War, Just a Theory, and Black Death by a bevy of talented creators, including Ben Templesmith and John Ostrander (Star Wars: Legacy).
 
Tomb of Dracula Omnibus, Vol. 2 Marv Wolfman (Marvel Comics)
 
Trap him in Hell or trap him in humanity, Dracula will fight to the finish, fang and claw! But after centuries of being haunted by his demonic daughter, the Transylvanian tyrant faces an even worse family skeleton: A son who's an absolute angel! Plus the menaces of Dr. Sun, Dr. Frost, and the Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Strange! Guest-starring Blade, Hannibal King, and the Silver Surfer! Collects Tomb of Dracula #32-70, Giant-Size Dracula #5, and Dr. Strange #14.
 
Dead@17: Afterbirth Josh Howard (Image Comics Graphic Novel)
 
In the latest chapter of the Dead@17 saga, Nara and Hazy face their darkest hour. The insidious Abraham Pitch has returned and plots to open the Abyss, while Nara's crusade against the Marked has diastrous consquences for those closest to her. Collects Dead@17: Afterbirth #1-4.
 
Dead, She Said Bernie Wrightson & Steve Niles (IDW Graphic Novel)
 
After years of tailing cheating husbands and murderous thugs, private detective Joe Coogan has developed a lot of enemies, including one who burdens him with a rather curious problem. One morning, Coogan wakes up dead, quite literally. After fighting off the rigor mortis and taping up the gaping gunshot wound in his stomach, Coogan hits the streets to find out who murdered him and why. With a detour at the local police station, where he finds he is a suspect in a series of grisly murders, the trail quickly leads to the macabre laboratory of Doc Baxter. There the megalomaniac scientist is plotting world domination by deploying an army of mutant insects.
 
The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron Rebecca Keegan (Crown Hardcover)
 
With the release of Avatar, James Cameron cements his reputation as king of sci-fi and blockbuster filmmaking. It’s a distinction he’s long been building, through a directing career that includes such cinematic landmarks as The Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, and the highest grossing movie of all time, Titanic.
 
The Futurist is the first in-depth look at every aspect of this audacious creative genius—culminating in an exclusive behind-the-scenes glimpse of the making of Avatar, the movie that promises to utterly transform the way motion pictures are created and perceived. As decisive a break with the past as the transition from silents to talkies, Avatar pushes 3-D, live action, and photo-realistic CGI to a new level. It rips through the emotional barrier of the screen to transport the audience to a fabulous new virtual world.
 
Reviews
 
Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 (Fantagraphics Hardcover)
 
 
Steve Ditko is best known as the artist and co-creator of Spider-Man or Doctor Strange during the 1960’s. Without a doubt, Ditko has earned his reputation as one of the most enigmatic creators in comic book history, a man as mysterious as the characters he drew. 
 
While Ditko may have become famous at Marvel but he didn’t get his start there. Ditko had been working in comics for years for companies such as Prize, Ajax, and especially Charlton. Strange Suspense collects dozens of Ditko stories from the 1950’s showcasing his work in a number of different genres including horror, science fiction, crime, western, and romance. Almost a decade before Ditko moved to Marvel, these stories bear his unmistakable style. His fine line work and flair for the abstract that would serve him so well on Doctor Strange particularly, is on full display. While Charlton was known as one of the lowest-paying companies for creators, they offered unparalleled artistic freedom. 
 
Most of the stories in this volume fall into the horror/thriller vein, an area where Ditko excelled. His stories were in the EC comic’s tradition and in fact often even more ghoulish. An early gem from The Thing #12, 1954, Ditko gives his own unique twist to the fairy tale “Cinderella” except in his version, the stepsisters are not just wicked, but vampires as well and this story doesn’t have a happy ending!
 
“Library of Horror” is a classic EC-style story with its grim irony and a hint of Lovecraft influence. A struggling writer’s happens upon an old book store filled with long forgotten horror stories. Killing the shop’s owner, the writer looks to make a fortune by claiming the stories as his own.   Perhaps the goriest tale in the book is “The Evil Eye” from The Thing #14, 1954. Here a man steals his rich wife’s jewels and then tries to murder her. But she doesn’t die too easily and comes back for revenge, branding his forehead with a hot iron and having his limbs chewed off by giant rats, leaving him with bloody, bone-protruding stumps.
 
“Comeback” from The Thing #15 is an interesting tale because its main character, a rubber-faced man named Flexo bears a strong resemblance to Spider-Man foe, The Chameleon, who would appear in Spider-Man #1 nearly ten years later. Not only does Strange Suspense present these tales, most for the first time since their original release, but also included are many of the Ditko covers from the era, representing some of his best work including many fantastic covers from “This Magazine is Haunted.” 
 
Here is an opportunity to explore early Ditko, unconstrained by editors or the Comics Code. Rediscover Ditko today! Grade A
 
 
The Infernal City: An Elder Scrolls Novel Greg Keyes (Del Rey Trade Paperback)
 
 
The Infernal City is based upon the long-running series of Elder Scrolls fantasy computer and video games. A mysterious floating city called Umbriel casts its shadow over the lands and is destroying everything in its path. If that were not bad enough, the bodies of those killed by Umbriel rise up, creating an army of undead. In the wake of the destruction of Black Marsh, two survivors, Annaig an Alchemist and her friend Glim, a lizard-man, are captured and put to work as slave labor on the floating city. A bit too conveniently, Annaig is able to use a magical communication device to seek aid from the heroic Prince Attrebus and his companion Sul the Dunmer (i.e. Dark Elf). 
 
On its own merits there is a decent plot here and some worthwhile characters but that’s about the best I can say about the Infernal City. The book is a sequel to Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion…No not another book but the video game. If you have not played the video game you are going to be almost totally lost with the events and world of Infernal City. Keyes does little to fill readers in on the background so if you’re not a fan of the game series, sorry, you’re pretty well left out. 
 
The other problem is that there is no resolution to the story in the end. It’s going to be part of a two-book series but when you get to the last page you’re left thinking that part of the story was missing as the ending is so bluntly abrupt. You’d think Keyes could have eased a bit more gracefully into wrapping up the first volume. A difficult book to grade. If your’e a fan of Elder Scrolls then I highly recommend it. If not, then avoid it. Grade C
 
 
Star Trek: The Art of the Film Mark Cotta Vaz (Titan Books Hardcover)
 
 
The Star Trek series was rebooted this year and taken back to its roots in a film that was better than even the most die-hard Trekkie could have hoped for. In this new book from Titan, you get to go behind-the-scenes with a look at the film’s complete development and design.
 
Rather than go through the phases of the film’s development the way most books like this generally do, Mark Cotta Vaz looks at the various characters, events, starships, and locations that play a central role in the film such as the mining ship Narada, certainly one of the most unique ship designs ever seen in a Sci-Fi film. Then there is a look at the newly designed Romulans through a series of brilliant photos and production sketches which serve to make the race far more sinister looking than ever.
 
The book takes the reader on a tour of the future Iowa and a glimpse inside the hallowed halls of the Starfleet Academy. The Starfleet section also includes a view of the various fleet vessels such as the USS Excelsior and USS Newton. The design team also created dozens of new alien races, some of which made it into the film and some of which did not, but you get to see them here either in photos or sketches. 
 
There are also sections on the brand new USS Enterprise, the planet Vulcan and its destruction, Delta Vega, and much more. Definitely a book to consider this Christmas season for Star Trek fans. Grade A-

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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DarthDuck 12/14/2009 11:46:57 AM

Glad to see positive reviews for Star Trek as well as the Ditko book.  While I had little doubt they would be fantastic, glad to see you think so too.  I made many not-so-subtle hints that I would like them for Christmas, hopefully my wife was paying attention.

Thundergod 3/29/2010 5:44:08 PM

I hope the Frank Frazetta Museum can be saved, always wanted to visit. Hopefully it will be there when I am able to travel to PA.

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