Comics before Cinema! Part Three

This is the third and final feature of comics as the original source material before their cinematic adaptations. I admit that I have not watched or read many of what I’ve listed (though not for a lack of trying!) and I made it a point to explore outside the expansive DC and Marvel universe. Today I will be showcasing the nitty gritty of graphic novels and comics, and how those stories and find humor in pain. If you liked what you’ve seen on screen, try reading it…because sometimes the comic book is better.

The Crow by James O'BarrThe Crow by J. O’Barr

The classic gritty  90’s movie The Crow has left a lasting impact on pop culture thanks to Brandon Lee’s starring role. Originally published in 1989, the original comic follows Eric who was brought back to life by a crow as an unstoppable avatar of vengeance. After a ten year hiatus, O’Barr wrote Crow with Dead Time, a story O’Barr envisioned as a new film.

Happy by Grant Morrison and Darick RobertsonHappy!  by Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson

This four issue comic follows a a washed-up-detective-turned-hitman who has to rescue his kidnapped daughter with help from her imaginary friend…a tiny blue-furred flying unicorn. Surreal and bizarre, Happy! juxtaposes dark comedy with hyper-violence reminiscent of Frank Miller’s Sin City. Speaking of which…

Sin City Volume 1: The Hard Goodbye by Frank MillerSin City Volume 1: The Hard Goodbye by Frank Miller

The star studded 2005 movie adaptation brought the stylistic noir of Frank Miller’s Sin City to the big screen. Sin City is an anthology that dives deep into its character’s despair and internal struggles to find redemption and meaning in their corrupted city.

Hellboy Seed of Destruction by Mike Mignola and John ByrneHellboy by Mike Mignola and John Byrne

Who are you going to call when something goes ‘bump’ in the night? The B.P.R.D are who you want (and definitely not those other guys). Join Hellboy and his team of paranormal specialists as they wrestle with creatures of folklore from all over the world. Surprisingly thoughtful and provocative, it is titular character Hellboy’s gruff wise-cracking demeanor that keeps the story from becoming too dark. The Hellboy franchise has had a recent movie reboot though I personally prefer Ron Perlman as Hellboy, who also reprises his role in two excellent animated movie adaptations.

Persepolis by Marjane SatrapiPersepolis by Marjane Satrapi

And finally, I wanted to end the Comics Before Cinema! series on a positive note. Marjane Satrapi’s comic strip autobiography​ is a funny heartfelt memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a stunning reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, through laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity.​ Persepolis has been adapted into an Oscar-nominated animated film.

~Posted by Ryal H.


#BookBingoNW2020: A SAL Author (past or upcoming)

You may be pleasantly surprised by just how many options there are to read a Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL) author. SAL has been bringing writers to Seattle for over thirty years (here is the complete list), so there are literally hundreds of options. Or check out this amazing list of SAL Speaker titles available for immediate download from your library.

Here are some past SAL speakers who not only have books available for in our catalog, but – for all of you who miss attending literary events – whose podcast appearances at the Library can also be enjoyed right away:

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Lindy West. From Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, to her latest, The Witches are Coming, local author, comedian and activist Lindy West pulls no punches in her refreshingly candid takes on American culture; she makes you laugh, and makes you think. West appeared at our library with Luvvie Ajayi in 2016, and with Scaachi Koul in 2017.

Award-winning Pacific Northwest poet Richard Kenneys latest collection Terminator: Poems 2008 – 2018 is available for download, or you can hear him reading from his 2008 library visit. Kenney’s formally ambitious poetry employs intricate and playful verse to comment on science, politics, love, and language.

Crowds flocked to see Viet Nguyen when he spoke at the library in 2017, reading from his story collection The Refugees, which is available for download, together with his provocative multi-award-winning novel The Sympathizer.

It wasn’t until 2016 when Colson Whitehead made his standing room only appearance at the Library, reading from his Pulitzer- and National Book Award-winning novel The Underground Railroad, though we’ve been hooked on his moving, thought-provoking novels since The Intuitionist, back in 2000. Right now feels like a good time to read his zombie novel, Zone One, or perhaps The Noble Hustle, his non-fiction book about poker, beef jerky, and death.

Okay so yes, there’s kind of a long waiting list in Ijeoma Oluo‘s popular anti-racist eBook So You Want To Talk About Race, but the audiobook, with a powerful narration by Banhi Turpin – is available right away as one of our always available titles. You can also enjoy her library visits, in a 2017 screening the documentary Oh, I Get It, and in conversation with Nicole Chung in 2018.

Our central library had only been open a couple of years when the great Isabel Allende paid us a visit in 2006, reading from her novel Ines of My Soul, and what a wonderful day it was! Allende was our featured author for that year’s Seattle Reads program, in which we featured several of her many books, in English and Spanish.

For even more suggestions, check out our booklist!

For more ideas for books to meet your Summer Book Bingo challenge, follow our Shelf Talk #BookBingoNW2020 series or check the hashtag #BookBingoNW2020 on social media. Book bingo is presented in partnership with Seattle Arts & Lectures.

~ Posted by David W.

Book Series by Volume

This might be a bit late to the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” party, but there is never a bad time to dive into a great series of books. If you’re like me, a plain ol’ trilogy just doesn’t cut it – I want to live in that world for as long as I can, and that means LOTS of books. While not usual, I’ve found that measuring a book series by volume is far more informative than merely counting the number of books themselves so, here are three series that will take up an entire bookcase all on their own. All measurements are in hardback, because we all know that’s how books should be measured.

On Basilisk Station by David WeberHonor Harrington by David Weber

At 14 books it’s a bit light at only slightly less than 1 cubic foot, but each volume sports over 400 pages. The novels follow Honor Harrington’s career climbing through the ranks of the Royal Manticoran Navy and the impediments of being a strong woman and her adoption by a telempathic Sphinxian Treecat. This series sets a high standard for space-based ship-to-ship tactics and combat while continuing to develop and grow a relatable main character. Continue reading “Book Series by Volume”

Write On!: Writers Writing Life

You’ve read their work, admire their writing and anticipate reading their next book. Have you ever wondered, from whence did those words spring forth? Some readers are curious about the forces that give shape to a writer’s identity. They are intrigued about the circumstances that were foundational to the development of an author’s work.

Continue reading “Write On!: Writers Writing Life”

Pandemic Post-Apocalyptic Podcast

It was amazing, astounding, this loss of communication with the world. It was exactly as if the world had ceased, been blotted out. …With the coming of the Scarlet Death the world fell apart, absolutely, irretrievably.
The Scarlet Plague, by Jack London

Just a handful of years after the novella quoted above came out, the world was plunged into a global pandemic that claimed over 50 million lives. Jack London didn’t live to see it, but he had recently witnessed the ominous return of the Black Death, a startling outbreak of bubonic plague in turn-of-the-century San Francisco that is recounted in David Randall’s Black Death at the Golden Gate. What’s more, he had the foresight to know that worse – much worse – was to come:

Now this is the strange thing about these germs. There were always new ones coming to live in men’s bodies. …the more men there were, the more thickly were they packed together on the earth, the more new kinds of germs became diseases. There were warnings. Soldervetzsky, as early as 1929, told the bacteriologists that they had no guaranty against some new disease, a thousand times more deadly than any they knew, arising and killing by the hundreds of millions and even by the billion.  

While not all of the predictions in London’s vision of America circa 2013 ring true – personal dirigibles, anyone? – his pandemic prophecies have only gained force. In H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, humankind is saved by micro-organisms; in London’s The Scarlet Plague, these same germs turn on us, and almost win. Looking back from the year 2073 on the devastation, an old man attempts to teach his grandsons how to relight the torch of civilization, with the aid of that most precious tool: books! Continue reading “Pandemic Post-Apocalyptic Podcast”