Book Review “The Dark Man: An Illustrated Poem” by Stephen King

Author: Stephen King
Illustrated: Glenn Chadbourne
Hardcover: 88 pages
Publisher: Cemetery Dance Publications
Release Date: July 30, 2013

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“The Dark Man” is not a new release for Stephen King. He wrote this poem back when he was in college and it was published in Ubris in 1969. This release is King’s poem, “The Dark Man”, re-released over 40 years with a new life than to the amazing illustrations of Glenn Chadbourne. There are over 70 beautiful full-page illustrations from Chadbourne (“The Secretary of Dreams”). Let me tell you one thing, this book is creepy as hell and if you let yourself go into its world it will linger within you and haunt your dreams. It is not the first time that I have read this poem but with the new illustrations, I felt like it was an entirely new experience. Highly recommended!

Official Premise: Stephen King first wrote about the Dark Man in college after he envisioned a faceless man in cowboy boots and jeans and a denim jacket forever walking the roads. Later this dark man would come to be known around the world as one of King’s greatest villains, Randall Flagg, but at the time King only had simple questions on his mind: Where was this man going? What had he seen and done? What terrible things…?

Cemetery Dance Publications is the publisher behind this new hardcover release. They really scored for sure, as Stephen King’s fans should go crazy over this updated release to his poem. Glenn Chadbourne images really works well with King’s words and blend together. The actual black and white illustrations are very unique and the color factor adds a lot of extra terror. Within King’s story there are twists and turns and within the illustrations there are added hidden details every page. There are many layers to this book and even though it is just 88 pages, it is jam-packed and very entertaining.

Book Review “Rush: The Illustrated History”

Author: Martin Popoff
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Voyageur Press
Release Date: May 30, 2013

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I am not sure what it is about Rush but they are just flat out amazing.  They are easily one of my top favorite band ever. They has been kicking ass and taking names in music for the last 45 years…and yet they are better than they ever have been! Plus 2013 is the year of Rush since they not only released on of their best albums “Clockwork Angels” but they also got inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame (finally). This “Illustrated History” book is timed just right and is a must for any Rush fan out there.  So get ready to crank those old vinyls up to 11 and air bass (or drum, whichever is your preference) and enjoy this amazing book.

Official Premise: Now, for the first time, Rush is treated to the epic visual celebration they so richly deserve in a beautifully designed and profusely illustrated history following the band’s entire career. A chronological overview history written by noted music scribe and Rush authority Martin Popoff spans the band’s entire career from 1968 to today. A complete Rush discography chronicles all their albums, from the debut album to 2112, Moving Pictures, and Signals to Grace Under Pressure, Vapor Trails, and more. The authoritative text is complemented by album reviews written by well-known music journalists from around the globe, commentary from fellow musicians, a discography, and hundreds of photographs and pieces of memorabilia, including picture sleeves, gig posters, rare vinyl, handbills, ticket stubs, and much more.

This book is authored by the perfect man for the job, Martin Popoff.  He has been called “the world’s most famous heavy metal journalist” and if anyone can put out a kick-ass music book it would be him.  Plus he also worked with the band on the film “Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage”. The book itself contains over 420 color & black and white photos spread out all over the nearly 200 page book. When it is called “history” that should not be taken lightly. We go back to the early days of the band to the current “Clockwork Angels” tour.  We are talking a full discography cover from end to end! There is everything here from concert tickets, posters, vintage programs to candid backstage shots.  So if you are a veteran fan or a brand new Rush fan this book has something for everyone and will not disappoint!

Book Review “Alien – The Illustrated Story (Original Art Edition)

Author: Archie Goodwin
Illustrator: Walt Simonson
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: October 30, 2012

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Product Dimensions: 13 x 0.7 x 16.9 inches

When I first heard that “Alien – The Illustrated Story” was being released by Titan Books, I was sure excited because I am both a fan of Ridley Scott’s film “Alien” and also comic book artist Walt Simonson. But I got much more than I expected (in a good way). This good in the words of Buddy the Elf is “GINORMOUS”. But that is the charm of it I think, it clocks in at 13.8″ x 1 x 19.9″. If you can’t imagine it…just take my word its oversized. Though there is a reason for it, since it is scanned directly from Walt’s original art and reproduced at the same size. Since the pages are in fact scanned from the originals they even include all the corrections, paste-ups and even coffee stains. I was blown away that they would release this and very impressed.

But wait there is more. The story itself is only 64 pages. Also included is Archie Goodwin’s original script for the story, as well as Walt’s two page try-out for Fox (which actually featuring a very different alien). There is a great interview with Walt and letterer John Workman and closing with an afterword by Walt. If you don’t want the GIANT hardcover edition, then you can opt out for the totally not as cool softcover “Facsimile Cover Regular Edition”, which is also in color. I highly recommend this “Original Art Edition” it is an amazing companion piece to this movie book.

The book was written by the late Archie Goodwin, the comic book writer, known best for his Warren and Marvel Comics work. He was also the chief writer and editor of landmark horror anthology titles Creepy and Eerie. On a graphic novel, the illustrator is really the star of the show. Walt Simonson is the man behind this one and he has written, penciled or inked Batman, Fantastic Four, The Hulk and Superman just to name but a few!

Premise: Vacant. Two space helmets resting on chairs. Electronic hum. Lights on the helmets begin to signal one another. Moments of silence. A yellow light goes on. Electronic hum. A green light goes on in front of one helmet. Electronic pulsing sounds. A red light goes on in front of the other helmet. An electronic conversation ensues. Reaches a crescendo. Then silence. And when the silence is broken… the crew of the Nostromo must grapple with a terrifying life force they cannot leash, nor even comprehend – the Alien!

This book has been out of print for over thirty years, so this brand new edition timed perfectly with “Prometheus”, is a welcomed treat. It has been very carefully restored from original artwork in Walt Simonson’s studio and is presented here for the very first time in this definitive artist’s edition of the greatest sci-fi horror ever produced. So if you are a fan of “Alien”, sci-fi or event art…then this is a the book for you. Just make sure you have a very large coffee table – very large – because you will need it.

Book Review “Alien – The Illustrated Story”

Author: Archie Goodwin
Illustrator: Walt Simonson
Paperback: 64 pages
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: September 4, 2012

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

From the moment that I opened this book, I was in love. I was immediately transported back to my childhood days of comic book readings. There was just something about this that immediately captured me. I am not sure if it was the design style, the animation or maybe just colors. This book was original done back in 1979 and has been out of print for over thirty years. This edition is brand new and has been completely and meticulously restored using the original Simonson’s original artwork.

The book was written by the late Archie Goodwin, the comic book writer, known best for his Warren and Marvel Comics work. He was also the chief writer and editor of landmark horror anthology titles Creepy and Eerie. On a graphic novel, the illustrator is really the star of the show. Walt Simonson is the man behind this one and he has written, penciled or inked Batman, Fantastic Four, The Hulk and Superman just to name but a few!

I remember watching this film sneaking behind my parents back and being absolutely terrified. I have found that this excitement and terror was immediately brought back after reading this stunning color graphic novel of Ridley Scott’s legendary sci-fi thriller! Overall if you are looking to get transported through time back to your childhood, then this is for you at at a low price of around $10. If you are looking for the Original Art Hardcover Edition, it will also be released by Titan Books on October 30, 2012 timed with the Blu-ray release of “Prometheus”.

Premise: Vacant. Two space helmets resting on chairs. Electronic hum. Lights on the helmets begin to signal one another. Moments of silence. A yellow light goes on. Electronic hum. A green light goes on in front of one helmet. Electronic pulsing sounds. A red light goes on in front of the other helmet. An electronic conversation ensues. Reaches a crescendo. Then silence. And when the silence is broken… the crew of the Nostromo must grapple with a terrifying life force they cannot leash, nor even comprehend – the Alien!

Book Review “A Perfect Haze: The Illustrated History of the Monterey International Pop Festival”

Author(s): Harvey Kubernik, Kenneth Kubernik
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Santa Monica Press
Release Date: November 1, 2011

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Before Woodstock, the summer of 1967 brought us the Monterey International Pop Festival. It was the first festival where thousands of hippies went to experience the summer of love. The book provides a really great insight into the event where you feel like you were there. There are such detailed documents including copies of telegrams, contracts, newspaper clippings, line-up posters, and other rare memorabilia from the festival. If you are fan of such music icons, such as Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, and Otis Redding…than this is definitely a book for you, no question.

Besides all the amazing rare photos provided a great behind the scenes look at the festival, there are also many new interviews with musicians like Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey and some members of the Jefferson Airplane and more! The book is split into seven chapters. What I enjoyed most is that it is a chronicle of each act that performed at the event. It is not just the authors telling us about the events. The first takes us through the preparation and leading up the event. The second chapter takes us through the events of the first night on Friday, which features music from Simon and Garfunkel and Lou Rawls. Chapter three focuses on Saturday afternoon with Canned Heat and The Steve Miller Band as a few of the acts giving their comments on the festival. Chapter 4 focuses on Saturday night with The Byrds and Jefferson Airplane for example. Chapter 5 takes us through the events of Sunday afternoon with detailed accounts from Ravi Shankar. Sunday night, the last night, is covered with biggest names like Buffalo Springfield, The Who, Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix. The last chapter takes us through “Monterey Pop: The Movie” and follows D.A. Pennebaker’s account of the festival and working on the film.

The photos in the book really captures the essence of this truly amazing event. I feel that the personal account of each night really draw you into the book and if you close you eyes you can see the bands and here there music. I think that is probably the goal for a book like this one. Whether you were there at the Monterey International Pop Festival that June 16-18, 1967 or whether you weren’t even born, this book is a great tribute to the event. It is a must purchase for fans of this era of music.

Book Review “Clapton: The Ultimate Illustrated History”

Author: Chris Welch
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Voyageur Press
Release Date: September 10, 2011

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I am not sure how to start this review with except the fact that the title simply tells it all…this is the “The Ultimate Illustrated History” of Eric Clapton.  It is the perfect book for one of the greatest guitarists ever. The book covers Clapton’s five-decade-long career includes time from the Yardbirds, to Cream to the Plastic Ono Band to his solo career.  This book honestly has everything and it looks “pretty” also.  The layout of the book flows really well with mixing its amazing photos with amazing stories and information about the man himself.

The layout of the book starts with a great note from the author talking about his time that he has spent over the year with Clapton. The first chapter focuses on his childhood and his influence of the blues covering years 1945-1963.  There is coverage of Eric’s time with The Yarbirds from 1963 to 1965.   Of course there is a lot of coverage from the days of Cream from 1966-1969, as this was the real turning point in Clapton’s career.  The years 1969-1974 features quite a bit between his work the Plastic Ono Band through Derek and the Dominoes.  During 1974-1982, the book focuses on Clapton’s amazing solo career, covering everything from his hit record “Layla” to concert appearances at Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, NY.  There is still more as this book also covers 1983-present, with the Cream reunion to his work with the Crossroads Foundation.  Lastly there is a graphic discography included which only expands upon how amazing his body of work truly is.

Speaking of photos, this book is packed with over 400 rare shots, as well as images of his guitars, concert posters, and other memorabilia included.  Honestly I think you can spend hours just looking at the pictures and not even reading anything.   The author/rock journalist Chris Welch is no stranger to Clapton, since he previously authored “Cream: Eric Clapton”.  He really shows his extreme knowledge of Clapton and he does an amazing job of showing it in this book. He has also authored books about other great musicians such as Zepplin and David Bowie. Whether you think you know everything about Clapton’s amazing career or you have never heard of him, this book definitely will provide great knowledge into his life and work.  It is a must purchase for sure!