A fast-paced celebration of an underheralded legend within the comic-book industry.

JACK KIRBY

THE EPIC LIFE OF THE KING OF COMICS

An unauthorized graphic biography of the comic-book artist Jack Kirby (1917-1994).

“This is a biography…not an autobiography or memoir,” writes Scioli on the first page. “The first-person narration in this work is a literary device. The story is told through ‘Kirby’s’ point of view, adapted from a number of sources, including interviews he gave throughout his life.” One of the claims from the protagonist’s mouth is that he “saved Marvel’s ass.” While comic-book aficionados and cultural historians have long recognized Kirby’s crucial role in the expanding Marvel universe—and his creative development of Spider-Man, the Hulk, Ant-Man, and Iron Man—he has never achieved the name recognition among the public at large as Stan Lee, with whom Kirby had a troubled, complex relationship as a collaborator and rival. In Scioli’s treatment, Lee gets the chance to say his piece, but it is clearly meant to serve as a corrective to restore some critical balance. In a vivid style similar to Kirby’s, Scioli brings out his subject as a comic hero himself and gives repeated voice to his complaints: that Lee took more credit than he deserved, promoting himself as a hipster icon; and that as Marvel continued to generate revenue streams through TV and film adaptations and licensed consumer goods, the artist responsible for creating these characters saw little or nothing in the way of either acclaim or money. As the man Kirby knew as “Stanley” promoted his own legend, making himself synonymous with Marvel, his leading artist counters, “It’s all lies.” Whomever one believes, the book underscores how difficult it can be to assign credit or negotiate a fair deal in a market-driven business filled with copycats, where any popular success spawns numerous imitators and artists borrow or steal from each other regularly.

A fast-paced celebration of an underheralded legend within the comic-book industry.

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984856-90-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Ten Speed Press

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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