A historically perceptive and cheeky tour of a licentious mythological figure.

ZEUS IN ART

A SURVEY OF A SERIAL SEDUCER

An illustrated survey focuses on the artistic sources documenting the legendary lecherousness of Zeus.

Zeus figures prominently in Greek mythology as the “god of the sky, of lightning and thunder and king of the gods on Mount Olympus.” He’s the subject of innumerable depictions in visual art and poetry, both ancient and modern. Patricia Ann Colón and Angel Rafael Colón concentrate on two particular aspects of Zeus’ legend, his lurid reputation as a “seducer, rake, roué, and rapist” and his general, immoral “vindictiveness.” The book points out that “mythological tales usually cast Zeus as a lustful, narcissistic, temperamental and vengeful god who launched puissant thunderbolts with wild abandon to those who offended him, apparently an unsettling common occurrence, and is known as a consummate reprobate who maintained and further fostered the family tradition of incestuous relationships, whether sanctioned by marriage, seduction or rape.” The authors astutely draw on a rich literary tradition that features Zeus, including ancient writers such as Homer and Hesiod and modern ones like William Butler Yeats. Nevertheless, the highlights of the volume are its discussions of Zeus’ pictorial representations as well as those of his family and victims, often overlapping groups. Zeus was an equal opportunity predator, victimizing other gods, including his own kin; nymphs; and “vulnerable mortals.” The authors include nearly 100 beautiful illustrations of paintings and sculptures, a diverse offering of work by the likes of Rubens, Titian, and Rembrandt. And while the subject matter can be grim—Zeus is linked to dozens, if not hundreds, of rapes—the authors attempt to inject a spirit of levity into the book, sometimes exploring the gossipy salaciousness of Zeus’ transgressions. Toward the end of the volume, they include a newspaper article from the ersatz tabloid the Olympian Times with the headline “Zeus Again Accused of Rape.”

A historically perceptive and cheeky tour of a licentious mythological figure.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64970-193-0

Page Count: 188

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

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. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Fans of Seinfeld will eat this up, and aspiring comics will want to study how he shapes his seemingly effortless humor.

IS THIS ANYTHING?

“All comedians are slightly amazed when anything works.” So writes Seinfeld in this pleasing collection of sketches from across his four-decade career.

Known for his wry, observational humor, Seinfeld has largely avoided profanity and dirty jokes and has kept politics out of the equation. Like other schooled jokesters, perhaps most famously Bob Hope, he keeps a huge library of gags stockpiled, ever fearful of that day when the jokes will run out or the emcee will call you back for another set. “For the most part, it was the people who killed themselves to keep coming up with great new material who were able to keep rising through the many levels,” he recounts of his initiation into the New York stand-up scene. Not all his early material played well. The first piece in this collection, laid out sentence by sentence as if for a teleprompter, is a bit about being left-handed, which comes with negative baggage: “Two left feet. / Left-handed compliment. / Bad ideas are always ‘out of left field.’ / What are we having for dinner? / Leftovers.” He gets better, and quickly, as when he muses on the tininess of airplane bathrooms: “And a little slot for used razor blades. Who is shaving on the plane? And shaving so much, they’re using up razor blades. Is the Wolfman flying in there?” For the most part, the author’s style is built on absurdities: “Why does water ruin leather? / Aren’t cows outside a lot of the time?” It’s also affable, with rare exceptions, as when, taking on a mob boss persona, he threatens a child with breaking the youngster’s Play-Doh creations: “Nothing wrong with sending your child a little Sicilian message once in a while.” One wishes there were more craft notes among the gags, but the ones that are there are both inspiring and gnomic: “Stand-up is about a brief, fleeting moment of human connection.”

Fans of Seinfeld will eat this up, and aspiring comics will want to study how he shapes his seemingly effortless humor.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982112-69-1

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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