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LONG STORY SHORT

TURNING FAMOUS BOOKS INTO CARTOONS

A variety of artists rise to a unique literary and visual challenge.

A subversive volume that translates a series of complex works of literature into a single-page illustration.

Every picture tells a story, and the pictures in this book invite readers to interpret the story anew. As Mr. Fish notes in the introduction, these artists “capture the meanings and essence—perhaps even to reveal the deeper truths previously neglected by the keenest of readers—of some of the world’s most famous books.” Later, he continues, “the fact is, an image, whether snapped or rendered, does something that the written word cannot: it communicates a version of reality instantaneously, one that informs immediately without first needing to be assembled brick by syntactic brick, then cognitively deciphered and then paired with the appropriate sense memory, moral contrivance, and rote definition before its meaning and intentions can be made clear.” Some of the contributions are comics with captions—often very funny—and a few are more like a comic-strip panel. Others are wordless images that require no explanation or ones that allow readers to actively participate in the interpretive act. Some have the feel of abstract art. Regardless of the specific form, each renders a familiar classic from a fresh perspective. It’s difficult to misinterpret—or improve upon—Mr. Fish’s rendering of A Brief History of Time as the sand in an hourglass, and Ted Rall offers a sardonic modern update on The Scarlet Letter, depicting a man telling Hester Prynne, “Just wait until online slut-shaming!” Mr. Fish is particularly spot-on in his take on Catch-22: A man stands at the base of a giant wall, the shadow of the Grim Reaper washing over him and a noose hanging from the top of the wall, on which three military officials look down and say, “Quick, soldier! Stick your head in and we’ll pull you up!” Other entries include Metamorphosis, War and Peace, Nineteen Eighty-Four, and Infinite Jest.

A variety of artists rise to a unique literary and visual challenge.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61775-796-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Akashic

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

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The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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