Thursday, August 01, 2013

Read in July

I'm going to stop moaning here about how little I'm reading -- for this month, at least -- and just dive into the actual list. So here's what I did read this month:

R. Crumb, The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat (7/5)

Charles Burns, The Hive (7/8) -- This doesn't publish until October, so I expect I'll be able to get something down in words in a timely way. For now, go check out X'ed Out, the first book of this trilogy.

Walt Kelly, Pogo Vol. 2: Bona Fide Balderdash (7/11)

I read the first volume of the syndicated-strip Pogo reprints around this time last year, and burbled excitedly about it here. This volume continues the reprint project, with the complete strips from 1951 and 1952...and, somehow, I'm not as excited.

Kelly's line is just as lovely and expressive, and the characters go through the same kind of adventures -- Kelly was particularly good at telling long continuities with funny stuff every day -- but my reaction, this time, was more "hmm, this is quite good" than "I've got to read more of this." I may be just far too jaded for a man of my years, since Bona Fide Balderdash is full of laughs and great art -- but this book didn't strike me as strongly as the first volume did.

Brian Ralph, Daybreak (7/15)

Ian Frazier, The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days (7/16)

Alex Ross, edited by Chip Kidd, Rough Justice (7/18)

Paul Cornell, London Falling (7/19)

Craig Yoe, editor, Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman's Creator Joe Shuster (7/21)

Jacob Tomsky, Heads in Beds (7/23)

Nick Hornby, More Baths Less Talking (7/24)

Hornby's been writing a column called "Stuff I've Been Reading" for The Believer -- entirely focused on the positive, which implies that he leaves out books he disliked -- for a number of years now, and there have been four collections of that column: The Polysyllabic Spree, Housekeeping Vs. the Dirt, Shakespeare Wrote for Money, and this book (which covers May 2010 through the end of 2011). The first book was one of the inspirations for this blog, way back when I started in 2005 -- which explains why I so often fall into just posting slightly annotated list of books -- and I reviewed Housekeeping in 2006. All of those books are deeply enjoyable to read if you're at all bookish. But trying to "review" a book of lists of books in another list of books is just far too meta, so I'll leave it at that. Oh, and the title is explained on page 115 -- you've got that to look forward to.

Jeffrey Brown, Vader's Little Princess (7/26)

Hey, remember Darth Vader and Son? (If not, see my quick precis at the end of this monthly roundup.) It was fun, and quite popular, so Brown got to do another one. This time out, Leia is the focus -- sometimes with Luke running about as well -- and Brown takes advantage of his severely out-of-continuity premise to do teen-daughter jokes as well as little-girl jokes. They're good jokes, generally, and they reference famous Star Wars lines that you will recognize and enjoy. If you need a quick gift for a geeky friend, this is exactly what you want.

Austin Grossman, You (7/29)

Barry Deutsch, Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite (7/30)

Ernie Bushmiller, Nancy Likes Christmas (7/30)

Yes, she does. Nearly all of us do, actually. And almost as many of us like the clean, crisp cartooning of the late Ernie Bushmiller. This book collects all of the Nancy dailies from 1946-1948, early enough in Bushmiller's career that the gags aren't quite as precise and honed as we expect. This isn't quite Three Rocks Bushmiller, but it sees him heading in that direction: tightening his gags, focusing ever more on universals rather than gags based on current life. And even on-the-way-up Bushmiller is pretty darn good -- this shows him turning into the pure gag cartoonist he quickly became, and that may be of particular interest to budding gag cartoonists.

Tim Kreider, We Learn Nothing (7/31)

Several of those italicized titles will turn into links over the next three days, and I expect (hope?) I'll be banging out things on the rest of them through the weekend. In any case, it was a decent month, with a good pile of books, nearly all of which I can recommend to the right readers.

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