Sketch Dailies had H.R. Giger as their subject of the day in honor of his death the day before. Giger was an artist known for his very sexually themed artwork. This included his designs of the alien in the film ‘Alien’. In fact, his sexual designs were meshed throughout the set of the alien’s lair in the original film. As the sequels were tacked on, the alien settings were toned down as was the alien and family members.
Back when the film came out it became a favorite topic amongst my friends Ken Cullota and Steve Gallancy and others. This was back in high school. It was at that time I attempted to work through Junior Achievement to create a humor magazine, much like Mad. Ken Culotta came up with a take off of the film renamed Alias. It was hilarious. Unfortunately, the funding part became pretty unreachable as I’m as incompetent in fiances then as I am now. We had an adviser that was also a publisher, but that didn’t help. It was just too much to pull off. I still have Ken’s script.
I picked up all I could of the film from movie books to Walt Simonson’s incredible graphic novel of the film. Thee best illustrated adaption of any film ever done, in my opinion. I’ve still got most all of it. The one thing I never got was a large Alien “action figure” around at the time.
Back then there was a comic book convention in Orlando that was run by, my friend, Jim Ivey. One of the guest artists was a local fellow, Ken Mitchroney. Mitchroney had a set of copies of his version of Alien that just blew me away! I’ll try to track them down and post them here. Mitchroney is still cartooning, but in California now. He just announced today his arrival at Warner Brothers Studio to work on a film. He’s a great cartoonist who should be better known.
Anyway, the Alien film obviously was a big part of my life after it came out for over a year and I got real good at drawing the critter. It’s been a rare time that I will draw the Alien character these days. When Sketch Dailies posted the opportunity, i grabbed it and tailored a bit of humor to go with it.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is very grotesque book in that the descriptions of what the “bad guy” does is extremely graphic. Especially when realizing this book was written in 1982. I have to wonder why this wasn’t edited more to cut out what is clearly x-rated material. It’s not just one description. The crimes are repeated and the graphic description gets more and more horrid. This book is not for the squeamish. It is definitely not for children.
I need to judge this book’s story and how the above mixes with the plot. With that in mind I find the book to be good. As can be the case of Johnstone novels, the main characters are well drawn or drawn as needed to make the story more interesting or exciting.
This is a book early in Johnstone’s production that has me wondering, based on how it was written, if Johnstone was using ghost writers that early. ‘Blood Oath’ does not read at all like other books of that time with the Johnstone name on it. Similar crimes done in the books at this time, that I’ve read, have none of the extreme detail illustrated in ‘Blood Oath’. I believe he did use a ghost writer.
Something else different about this Johsntone book is that the ending is very well paced and satisfying. The ending is often wrapped very quickly in the Johnstone books I’ve read.
Botom line: I recommend it with the warning that this book is very graphic and not for children.
The Smoke Jensen series has been uneven as I’ve gone through the series in order. his one is one of he best. It helps a lot if the Smoke Jensen character is already known of, it seems to me. The crowd hot on Jensen’s trail makes far more sense with prior knowledge of the series.
Though, the bad guys are pretty standard bad guys, there are a set of other characters that are great additions. A set of surveyors and other government employees pop up as Jensen makes his way cross country trying to avoid the lynch mob.
As usual, the characters are well written and the story is paced very well. The story is basically a chase story, but well done. No big surprises, which would have been a nice addition.
Bottom line: I recommend this book.
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Here’s the cover art for the upcoming Swampy’s Florida comic book for Free Comic Book Day on May 3rd. This mini-comic is a short story of Swampy and better establishes that he has been around for a loooooong time. This story takes place in 1898 in Tampa. You’ll have to read the story to learn more.
I’m against the tide of the majority of reviews praising this volume of John Wells fictitious life. Maybe it’s timing that affected my experience reading the book. I also wonder if it’s that I accidently bypassed the volume before this, The Midnight House, that has gotten poor reviews. Whatever the case, I found this book far over written. It’s great when an author has a lot of background for a novel, but that author doesn’t have to put it all in one volume. To me, the book dragged horribly with the excess. This is a complaint I have with the majority of contemporary writers I’ve read. I just hadn’t experienced so much coming from Berenson. A good dose of studying Agatha Christie might help. But, I have a feeling the publisher needs to build a $9.99 book and wants the overdone writing.
I happen to be reading a Frank Slaughter novel at the same time which has plenty of excess. But it’s so beautifully written and so cogent to the storyline, that it works so very well. Being a better writer would’ve greatly helped Berenson’s extra loads in this. Slaughter is so good that I’m very slowly taking in each line and paragraph. At this rate, I could take a year reading Slaughter’s book and find it time well invested. I found myself wanting to read through The ‘Secret Soldier’ faster just to get it out of the way. It was pretty obvious how the book was going to end and, sad to write, there were no twists to make the reading journey interesting or fun.
There is a very good story intertwined in so much else. I wish the book was better assembled to make it enjoyable. There are also some other specifics in the story that bother me, like use of a cell phone, navigating a boat in a certain area, an oddly handled partner for Wells. Seems if a writer is going to over write, maybe fix some other sloppy writing first.
One other thing. There is an odd similarity to the basis of this book that is similar to an episode of ‘The Rockford Files’ where even a couple character names are the same. As an editorial cartoonist, I certainly know how duplication exists when creating a story. It just happens. Just found the similarity interesting and thought I’d mention it.
Bottom line: I don’t recommend this book.
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My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I found this book to be excellent. Especially for the genre. I’ve been reading enough of these super human military types to find a similar thread of just about everything.
What makes this book better than the rest is that not only does all not go as planned, but it goes way off. The ending of the book would be mighty difficult to completely predict. The gear change is also more subtle than staged as a surprise twist. You can read along expecting one direction and find the book has taken another.
Even the hero is foulable and makes many a mistake. As do other characters. It’s a change of pace to read of a hero trying to figure out how to get out of an error.
I would have given five stars, but the writing of the story could have been better. It’s more a technical criticism. There are a number of areas in the book that are uneven. I think I see where editors did some slicing and dicing and the author tried to clean it up.
Bottom line: I recommend this book.
Here’ s a bit of art that will be in the upcoming ‘Swampy’s Florida: Silver Springs’ I’m working on! Putting the book together now and hope for it to be avaialble in about three weeks.
Today’s Sketch Dailies involves the pop punk rock cartoon character Jem. I considered where Jem would be today and see her in a bar in Hoboken singing, as she can, the great American songbook….but still in her punk garb. Kinda as the fate of the singer in Copacabana.
Below are a few images of Jem in her prime:
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a relatively short biography of Mary McLeod Bethune and very good. I debated giving it a 5 star rating. But, at the end are a set of individual memories of Bethune by various family and friends, which adds a so much to better define the biography.
The book is very thorough and well covers her life, along with the building of Bethune-Cookman College. It is also well written.
I’m trying to think of something to write bad about the book and it’s a bit tough. Maybe more about her personal life, but it appears her life was one of an endless engine for the college.
Bottom line: i recommend the book.
Signed a couple of Swampy’s Florida books for my friends at the Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce. This alligator pirate sketch is for the book we did for the annual Billy Bowlegs Festival. Last year we worked together to produce two Swampy books about the Chamber’s annual Billy Bowlegs Festival and for the last reunion in Fort Walton Beach of the Doolittle Raiders.