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Results 1 - 25 of 60,088
1. Polizzotti on translating Modiano

       Mark Polizzotti -- translator of the forthcoming Yale University Press three-in-one collection by newly crowned Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano, Suspended Sentences (see their publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) -- writes on Quiet Resonance: Translating Patrick Modiano at the YUP weblog, Yale Books Unbound.

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2. Neustadt Festival

       The Neustadt Festival -- culminating in The Tuner of Silences-author Mia Couto picking up the 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature -- started yesterday; see the full program.

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3. The King review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Dutch-writing Iranian author Kader Abdolah's The King, now also available in the US in an edition from New Directions.

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4. J.K. Rowling dispels rumors on Twitter

J.K. Rowling took a writing break today to make a short visit to Twitter, her first since unleashing a riddle upon her followers. She tweeted this morning to dispel any rumors of her partying it up in a London bar, as she celebrated handing in a “romance novel” to her publishers. J.K. Rowling denied being finished with any projects, or that she was even working on a romance novel. She joked that she was “rock and roll” and did like to enjoy a drink even when she hasn’t finished a book, as it is her right to do so. The “Rowling stone,” as one follower punned, said:

 

There’s a story in today’s Mail that I was in a London bar on Monday ‘celebrating’ handing in a ‘romantic novel’ to my publishers…

1) I haven’t handed in ANY kind of novel to my publishers. I’m only half way through my current book. 2) It isn’t a ‘romantic’ novel.

And 3) (brace yourselves) I sometimes have a drink even when I haven’t finished a book. Yes, that’s how rock and roll I really am.

well you are a Rowling Stone…. That was a horrid pun, wasn’t it?

 · 17h

. One of my old classes (when I was teaching) used to sing the theme from Rawhide at me. The memory still makes me laugh.

Back to work now. See you when I’ve finished something X

 

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5. Ali A. Mazrui (1933-2014)

       I'm a bit late in reporting this -- he passed away on the 12th -- but Ali A. Mazrui has died; see, for example, Douglas Martin's obituary in The New York Times or Horace G. Campbell on The Humanism of Ali Mazrui at counterpunch.
       The only Mazrui book under review at the complete review is, predictably enough, his only work of fiction, the woefully under-appreciated (look for mention of it in the obits ...) The Trial of Christopher Okigbo. Flawed though it is, I would argue it's still a very significant/important novel, a major work of the 1970s. (And, yes, I am pretty proud that I already got to this in the much earlier days of the site, reviewing it back in 2001.)

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6. Chinese reforms

       I mentioned Chinese president Xi Jinping's recent address on cultural production in China and, regrettably, it already seems to be having some effect. In the South China Morning Post Nectar Gan reports that the Ministry of Culture thinks it's now a good idea for Art and literature awards to evaluate 'social benefit' of works, as Zhu Di, head of the art department of the ministry:

said Xi's comments on arts and literature -- that works should place social benefits first, should not bow to commercial demands and should be evaluated by the public -- will become "important principals for the ministry's award evaluation system reform in the future".
       Oh, great .....
       Better yet:
The central propaganda department of the Communist Party is taking the lead in reforming guidelines, Zhu said.
       But I have to admit I'm curious how this will work out, since China has a vibrant -- and huge -- writing scene that isn't going to pay any attention to this kind of nonsense.

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7. 31 Days of Halloween: Diamond’s Comicfest and Boom! Studos Halloween Frightfest

stk650211 31 Days of Halloween: Diamonds Comicfest and Boom! Studos Halloween Frightfest

Comics biggest distributor Diamond has slowly been working to make Halloween a huge promotional day for comics shops, with special comics, contests and more. Let’s face it, it doesn’t take too much to get in the Halloween mood, and the promotion has been a big success. You can see a list of special Halloween comcis on the Halloween Comicfest website, such as this one spotlighting Boom! Studios spooky anthology with seasonal stories from Adventure Time, Fraggle Rock and more. This particular story features writing by Bryce Carlson and art by Frazer IRving in a VERY DIFFERENT Adventure Time story.

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2 Comments on 31 Days of Halloween: Diamond’s Comicfest and Boom! Studos Halloween Frightfest, last added: 10/22/2014
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8. CRIMINAL is back at Image

criminal1 CRIMINAL is back at Image

Back at the first Image Expo this year it was announced that Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips were going exclusive with Image for their collections, and that means porting over CRiminal from Marvel’s creator owned Icon line. And this month’s solicitations reveal that not only is it coming back, but there will be a new one-shot, and newly designed editions, hitting in January.

The 48-page one-shot—to be colored by regular colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser—will also have an irresistible CRIMINAL: SAVAGE EDITION magazine-sized variant.

The logline:

It’s 1976, and Teeg Lawless is doing 30 days in county jail with a price on his head; his only safe company from the savagery: a beat-up old comic magazine his dead cellmate left behind. It’s CRIMINAL like you’ve never seen it before, with a comic within the comic and all those slick ‘70s thrills!

“We’ve been planning the return of CRIMINAL for the past year, and I couldn’t let the launch go by without returning to our underworld for a new story,” said Brubaker. “With FATALE and THE FADE OUT, we’ve been hearing from a lot of new readers, so it couldn’t be a better time to get the thing we’re most known for back on the shelves.”

While Criminal was not the first Brubaker/Phillips collab, it did kick off a very fruitful creator owned partnership that has seen a wealth of pretty amazing books, including Fatale and the new The Fade out.

criminal3 CRIMINAL is back at Image criminal2 CRIMINAL is back at Image

0 Comments on CRIMINAL is back at Image as of 10/21/2014 9:23:00 PM
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9. Image Launches New IX Series ‘IXth Generation’

by Zachary Clemente

IXth Generation 197x300 Image Launches New IX Series IXth Generation

IXTH GENERATION BURSTS ONTO SCENE
The Top Cow Universe expands with an all-new IX spin-off series

Writer Matt Hawkins (THINK TANK) pens a new Top Cow IX Utopia—built on a history of genocide and featuring haunting artwork by Stjepan Sejic—in IXTH GENERATION, coming this January.

Set in the future, IXTH GENERATION inhabits a world where there is no more natural death, no needs unfilled and everything you could ever want is yours… as long as you’re one of the ones chosen to live in this new Utopia and you’re willing to subjugate yourself to these new self-proclaimed gods with “IX”s emblazoned on them.

Do the ends truly justify the means? Is a utopia built on genocide worth the price? Aphrodite, Velocity, Hades, and the other Nines establish fiefdoms in this new world and attempt to rule. Their internal clashes have escalated, but they are forced to put that aside as they face off against the relentless hordes of The Darkness. The sins of the past have come to claim those who would pretend to be Gods. The cybernetic future established in APHRODITE IX and CYBER FORCE finally comes face-to-face with the supernatural ARTIFACTS side of the Top Cow universe.

IXTH GENERATION #1 arrives in stores this 1/7 and can be pre-ordered using Diamond Code NOV140555.

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10. Jim Lee and Dan Didio speak! About moving, demographics, royalties and more

 

dan didio jim lee Jim Lee and Dan Didio speak! About moving, demographics, royalties and moreI imagine that every sentence of this ICv2 interview with DC Comics co-publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee will be gone over with a fine tooth comb. I think it’s the first time the two have sat down for a somewhat frank interview in six months at least. And what a six months it has been! Certainly, from the scrum of New York Comic Con, the essential public personas come out, Lee, the glass half full cheerleader, DiDio, the without me the glass would break authority figure. Lee addresses the new demographics with a shout out to Batman editor, Mark Doyle, whose future—at DC in Burbank or leaving the company— is still very much up in the air:

7Lee: There’s also a diversification within the audience itself the past couple of years.  You’ve seen more women, more female readers, in general.  When we launched Batgirl and Gotham Academy, those books struck a different note, different tonality, and that was in large part due to editor Mark Doyle bringing these projects together with different kinds of creators (see “Two New Batman Ongoing Series” and “New Batgirl Costume”).  It was our way of broadening the base of the Batman family of books but doing it in a different way to attract a different audience.

But then DiDio refuses to throw licensers under the buss on recent fluffs like those awful shirts:

Who approves DC licensed products with regard to those issues and are you happy with the way that’s going?

Didio:  Actually, we are.  We have a strong relationship with our consumer products division that runs those areas.  You have to understand that they’re seeing tens of thousands of products that they’re proof-reading and checking for information over a period of time.  We have departments that work very closely with them within DC Entertainment, and they’re constantly working the system to make sure they’re aware of our audience and presenting the proper material to that audience.

Lee hints that Vertigo has some big plans and may even be in a position to start competing with Image for creators:

If you look at what we’re going to do in 2015 (which I’m not at liberty to discuss at this moment), possibly first quarter next year, you’ll see that we’re going through a major effort to rebrand the imprint.  That’s going to come about through the projects themselves.

We’re working on a hit list of the top creators in the business and we have some exciting news to unveil in the early part of 2015.

But then DiDio insists that everyone loves the new royalty plan….

When we created the original royalty plan it was based on a periodical model.  We’ve grown from periodicals to graphic novels and adding a digital component, and now we’re working with different types of products combined with books, so we need a level of flexibility and this allows it.  I think what’s important is the talent themselves can feel that they’re truly participating and receiving the benefit of the success of the property.

The response from the creators was positive?
Didio:  Oh, yes.  We’ve had a strong response and it was positive all the way through.

I can say that there has been a strong response from freelancers I’ve talked to, alright, but it hasn’t been all that positive—the net effect has a been a rather large drop in royalties for many folks.

Anyway, Lee and DiDio have overseen a very successful era at DC (whether you want to admit it or not) and the move to the West Coast is bringing many changes. Like…what comes after “Blood Moon,” the pseudo bridging event that is being run by temporary editors which the survivors of the great migration make their way west in a Green Tucson. Props to Milton Griepp for getting them to sit down and talk even if it is the last report from a world that will soon be forever a memory.

(Thanks to all of you who went me the link)

2 Comments on Jim Lee and Dan Didio speak! About moving, demographics, royalties and more, last added: 10/21/2014
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11. Watch Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation for free

CBA TNG1 Watch Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation for free

Here’s a new movie about cartoonists and comic book making: Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation, which spotlights creators Raid Studios in Toronto, including Ramon Perez, Francis Manapul, Kalman Andrasofsky and Marcus Antony To. Some promising up and comers named Stan Lee and Jim Lee also appear—I believe they are unrelated. It’s a nice look at the artist’s studio and the collegial spirit that evolves from it.

You can watch for free at AT&T’s Uverse Buzz site. It’s produced by Boom!’s Stephen Christy, FJ DeSanto and Bradley Cramp and directed by Chris Kasick. On his FB page, DeSanto wrote:

After months of hard work, here’s our documentary, COMIC BOOK ARTISTS: NEXT GENERATION, which premiers today on AT&T Uverse Buzz. I produced it with Bradley Cramp and Stephen Christy and is directed by the supremely talented Chris Kasick . Brad’s amazing team at Digital Kitchen brought this all to life (especially Leslie, Paul and of course Nik) and we are so lucky to have such a high quality show.

Showcasing the talented creators from The Raid Studio, the doc takes you through the trails and tribulations of being a modern day comic book creator. Besides the awesome Raid guys, Marcus Anthony To, Ramón K Pérez, Kalman Andrasofszky, and Francis Manapul, the energetic duo Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly make a cameo. To share their perspective on the history of the industry and how it has evolved over the years, we were fortunate Stan Lee, Jim Lee, and Filip Sablik appear as well. If you love super heroes like Batman and Spider-Man or just comics in general, you’ll appreciate this unique look into this world.

And here are some screen shots:

CBA TNG2 Watch Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation for free CBA TNG3 Watch Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation for free CBA TNG4 Watch Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation for free CBA TNG5 Watch Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation for free

1 Comments on Watch Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation for free, last added: 10/22/2014
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12. Jason Shiga’s Patreon for Demon reaches $1000 a month

4024339 01 Jason Shigas Patreon for Demon reaches $1000 a month

A lot of cartoonists—and many blogs, ahem—have taken to PAtreon as a means to finance the creation of comics. There are quite a few (a round up post is called for, maybe later this week) and Patreon doesn’t make it clear who makes the most, the way Kickstarter does, but Jason Shiga recently hit $1000 a month for his Ignatz winning webcomic Demon. Given his analytic background, there’s much of that in the post, but here’s an excerpt:

I know it’s an arbitrary number, but the $1000 mark is significant for a couple reasons. First, it amounts to the opportunity cost of not going with a larger publisher for this project. Second, someone could theoretically live on $1000. They’d have to be childless, live in a hovel in Detroit with 4 other dudes eating beans and rice 3 times a day. But man, if you were to describe that life to my 20 year old self, I’d tell you that sounds pretty nice. I know a lot of my readers here are cartoonists so maybe you can relate to that feeling of knowing so clearly in your bones that you were meant to do this one thing. But then there you are screwing in widgets all day, waiting for that whistle to blow so you can bike home and draw again. When I started out making comics, I didn’t want to be rich or famous. I just wanted to make more comics. I still do.

The lifestyle that $100 a month affords you is not a very appealing one, but, as he says, it makes the project officially a success. As he explains, he started out with usual business model of selling print editions, art and digital subs. This level of income for a regular webcomic would thrill many cartoonists, but given Shiga’s 15 year career, and the success of Meanwhile (which led me to coin the term The Shiga Index when analyzing sales charts.)

My own Patreon is nearing $700, which is a pretty good number all things considered. I’m very fortunate to have this level of success and appreciate each and every patron. Obviously it isn’t enough to live on, but it had taken care of paying for the backend, investing in the site more, and yes, paying some of those New York City bills. Patreon still doesn’t have the “excitement” level of Kickstarter, but it is beginning to afford a bunch of people at least some return on their work.

PS: Demon is totally dope. It’s a cross between Unbreakable, Groundhog Day and Shiga’s own classic Fleep. READ IT.

4 Comments on Jason Shiga’s Patreon for Demon reaches $1000 a month, last added: 10/23/2014
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13. Image Announces new Fantasy Adventure Series ‘Reyn’

by Zachary Clemente

ryen 197x300 Image Announces new Fantasy Adventure Series Reyn

FANTASY ADVENTURE HAS FULL REYN
This January, Kel Symons and Nathan Stockman
kick off an all-new sword & sorcery epic

Fan favorite Kel Symons (THE MERCENARY SEA, I LOVE TROUBLE) teams up with Nathan Stockman (I LOVE TROUBLE) for an all new series in REYN, a sweeping fantasy following two unlikely adventurers on the path to uncovering the mysteries that surround their destinies.

REYN #1 introduces the main character of the same name, Reyn, a freelance swordsman and monster hunter who also might be the last of the legendary “Wardens” of the land of Fate, whose ranks long since faded into myth. Haunted and driven by visions from a “guiding angel,” Reyn sets out on a great quest—though he’s hardly the errant knight-type. Along the way he’ll rescue and partner with the sorceress Seph, a member of a coven known as the Followers of Tek, hunted as heretics for their beliefs, but who may also know what secrets Fate holds…

Symons wanted to do something that was inspired by his love of reading fantasy and science fiction growing up. “Reyn pays tribute to adventures that dazzled my imagination,” explained Symons. “Fantasy tales, particularly Dungeons and Dragons, was a huge part of my formative years. I doubt I was the first kid who wanted to live in epic worlds like Middle Earth, Greyhawk or Hyboria. Tolkien and Howard created remarkably timeless worlds and practically invented the language of modern fantasy. Honestly, it’s hard to believe they were created in the 1930s.”

The main character, Reyn, Symons envisioned as a sort of reluctant Joan-of-Arc-type. “His guiding angel is hardly a blessing, because it’s just not in his nature to be a do-gooder—he’s too unprincipled for that,” said Symons. “I imagined some of Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name from the Dollars trilogy in Reyn. In fact, when I pitched this to Image, I said the vibe for the series should be ‘What if Frazetta painted spaghetti westerns?’ His traveling companion, the witch Seph, provides a nice emotional counterpoint to Reyn’s moral ambiguity. She was born to a cause and brings passion where Reyn lacks an emotional connection to the destiny that’s been forced upon him.”

The journey begins with REYN #1 (Diamond Code NOV140564), in stores on 1/21.

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14. Humanoids announces The Metabaron for 2016

AnnonceMB US.1 Humanoids announces The Metabaron for 2016

The Metabarons is a long running French SF epic originally by Alexander Jodorowsky and Juan Gimenez (spinning out of The Incal by Jodorowsky and Moebius) about a race of perfect warriors and their generation spanning advenures. The story wrapped up in 2003 after selling more than a millions copies internationally. Now Humanoids is bringing it back as just Metabaron starting in 2016 in a four book series written by Jerry Frissen from a story by Jodorowsky and drawn by different artists. the story will follow the fate of No Name, the last of the Metabarons. Ecah chapter will be 108 pages long, released in 8 month intervals.

The first chapter features Valentin Sécher (Khaal: Chronicles of a Galactic Emperor) on art, the second Niko Henrichon (Pride of Baghdad, Noah). The new series isn’t due until June 2016. That’s a long time to wait for your mind tripping space fantasy, but according to Humanoids, a new edition of Metabarons is planned for 2015.

Confession: I have never actually read The Metabarons, but it looks like have some time to catch up. Like the recently announced Corto Maltese revival , it’s a continuation of a very successful Euro comics classic, but this time with the cooperation, it seems, of the still living author. HUmanoids, after many stops and starts in the US market has been releasing material at a good clip, so it seems the genera graphic novel boomlet has lifted this boat, at least.

4 Comments on Humanoids announces The Metabaron for 2016, last added: 10/22/2014
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15. The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again

Walking dead compendium 1 The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again

It’s a rite of autumn —The Walking Dead’s new season debuts on AMC, and Walking Dead graphic novels start selling like crack again. Here’s the feed from the Amazon graphic novels best seller’s list. Note that The Oatmeal has sold a gazillion copies, and Roz Chast is back in the top ten following her National Book Award shortlisting.

Per the usual pattern, Walking Dead GN sales will slow when the 8 episode season ends, and pick right back up when it returns next year. I know Robert Kirkman has made a buttload of money from the hit TV series, but he, Charlie Adlard and Tony Moore have also made a buttload from the books alone, given the Image deal.

(BTW, for long term Amazon trend analysis I refer you to Beat contributor David Carter’s weekly blog on the topic, which someday I will feature here every week. Lots of other interesting things on his site, as well.0

#1: The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances

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The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances
The Oatmeal , Matthew Inman
uparrow green trans. V192239628  The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again 138 days in the top 100
stars 4 5. V192261415  The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again(77)

Buy new: $16.99 $10.74
61 used & new from $9.50

(Visit the Best Sellers in Comics & Graphic Novels list for authoritative information on this product’s current rank.)
#2: The Walking Dead: Compendium One

51m 0BhIqDL. SL160 PIsitb sticker arrow dp,TopRight,12, 18 SH30 OU01  The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again

The Walking Dead: Compendium One
Robert Kirkman , Charlie Adlard , Cliff Rathburn , Tony Moore
uparrow green trans. V192239628  The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again 1857 days in the top 100
stars 5 0. V192261437  The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again(1222)

Buy new: $59.99 $35.70
103 used & new from $31.00

(Visit the Best Sellers in Comics & Graphic Novels list for authoritative information on this product’s current rank.)
#3: The Walking Dead: Compendium Two

51CnU l0djL. SL160 PIsitb sticker arrow dp,TopRight,12, 18 SH30 OU01  The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again

The Walking Dead: Compendium Two
Robert Kirkman , Charlie Adlard , Cliff Rathburn
uparrow green trans. V192239628  The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again 836 days in the top 100
stars 5 0. V192261437  The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again(792)

Buy new: $59.99 $39.26
79 used & new from $34.24

(Visit the Best Sellers in Comics & Graphic Novels list for authoritative information on this product’s current rank.)
#4: Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir

51 pNcJRB9L. SL160 PIsitb sticker arrow dp,TopRight,12, 18 SH30 OU01  The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again

Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir
Roz Chast
downarrow red. V192241579  The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again 183 days in the top 100
stars 4 5. V192261415  The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again(383)

Buy new: $28.00 $17.71
77 used & new from $15.81

(Visit the Best Sellers in Comics & Graphic Novels list for authoritative information on this product’s current rank.)
#5: The Walking Dead Volume 22: A New Beginning

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The Walking Dead Volume 22: A New Beginning
Robert Kirkman , Charlie Adlard , Stefano Gaudiano , Cliff Rathburn
downarrow red. V192241579  The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again 54 days in the top 100
Release Date: November 11, 2014

Buy new: $14.99 $12.33

(Visit the Best Sellers in Comics & Graphic Novels list for authoritative information on this product’s current rank.)#6: The Walking Dead Volume 21: All Out War Part 2

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The Walking Dead Volume 21: All Out War Part 2
Robert Kirkman , Charlie Adlard
downarrow red. V192241579  The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again 182 days in the top 100
stars 4 0. V192261413  The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again(78)

Buy new: $14.99 $9.48
68 used & new from $8.01

(Visit the Best Sellers in Comics & Graphic Novels list for authoritative information on this product’s current rank.)

#7: The Walking Dead Book 10 HC

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The Walking Dead Book 10 HC
Robert Kirkman , Charlie Adlard
uparrow green trans. V192239628  The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again 115 days in the top 100
stars 5 0. V192261437  The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again(19)

Buy new: $34.99 $26.06
54 used & new from $21.98

(Visit the Best Sellers in Comics & Graphic Novels list for authoritative information on this product’s current rank.)
#8: Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened

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Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
Allie Brosh
uparrow green trans. V192239628  The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again 506 days in the top 100
stars 4 5. V192261415  The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again(2206)

Buy new: $19.99 $10.02
176 used & new from $2.96

(Visit the Best Sellers in Comics & Graphic Novels list for authoritative information on this product’s current rank.)
#9: Saga Volume 4

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Saga Volume 4
Brian K. Vaughan , Fiona Staples
downarrow red. V192241579  The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again 37 days in the top 100
Release Date: December 9, 2014

Buy new: $14.99 $12.32

(Visit the Best Sellers in Comics & Graphic Novels list for authoritative information on this product’s current rank.)
#10: The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia

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The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia
Patrick Thorpe , Michael Gombos , Takahiro Moriki , Heidi Plechl , Kumar Sivasubramanian , Aria Tanner , John Thomas
downarrow red. V192241579  The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again 99 days in the top 100
stars 5 0. V192261437  The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again(1891)

Buy new: $34.99 $19.63
117 used & new from $14.74

(Visit the Best Sellers in Comics & Graphic Novels list for authoritative information on this product’s current rank.)

3 Comments on The Walking Dead graphic novels sales are up again, last added: 10/22/2014
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16. What’s new in oral history?

Preparing a new edition of an oral history manual, a decade after the last appeared, highlighted dramatic changes that have swept through the field. Technological development made previous references to equipment sound quaint. The use of oral history for exhibits and heritage touring, for instance, leaped from cassettes and compact discs to QR codes and smartphone apps. As oral historians grew more comfortable with new equipment, they expanded into video and discovered the endless possibilities of posting interviews, transcripts, and recordings on the Internet. Having found a way to get oral history off the archival shelves and into the community, interviewers also had to consider the ethical and legal issues of exposing interviewees to worldwide scrutiny.

Over the last decade, the Internet left no excuses for parochialism. As the practice of oral history grew more international, a manual could neither address a single nation nor ignore the rest of the world. Wherever social, political, or economic turmoil has occurred, oral histories have recorded the change — because state archives tend to reflect the old regimes. War, terrorism, hurricanes, floods, fires, pandemics, and other natural and human-made disasters spurred interviews with those who endured trauma and tragedy, and required interviewers to adjust their approaches. Issues of empathy for those suffering emotional distress increasingly became part of the discourse among oral historians. At the same time, the use of interviewing grew more interdisciplinary, with historians examining the fieldwork techniques and needs of social scientists. Sociologists, anthropologists, and ethnographers have long employed interviewing, usually through participant observation. Many have gradually shifted from quantitative to qualitative analysis, raising questions about identifying their sources rather than rendering them anonymous, and bringing their methods closer to oral history protocols.

Oral_history_baltimore
Evergreen Protective Association volunteer recording an oral history by Baltimore Heritage. CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

New theoretical interests developed, particularly around memory studies. Oral historians became more concerned about not only what people remember, but also what they forget, and how they express these memories. Weighing the relationship between language and thought, and suggesting that that outward behavior reflects underlying signs, narrative theory has challenged the notion of objective history. It sees the past as recalled and recounted as simply a construction, shaped by the way it is told. Memory theories have dealt with the way suggestive questions can reshape memories, and the way recent experiences can block out memories of earlier ones. These theories suggest that people reconstruct memories of past experiences rather than mentally retrieve exact copies of them.

An increasingly litigious culture raised other concerns for oral historians. Lawsuits have alleged that some online interviews are defamatory. A court case with international implications arose when the United States supported British police efforts to subpoena closed interviews that might shed light on a murder case in Northern Ireland, exposing the vulnerability of oral history to judicial intervention. Although the courts treated closed interviews seriously and limited the amount of material to be opened, the case reminded oral historians that they could not promise absolute confidentiality when dealing with sensitive and possibly criminal issues.

It has been breathtaking to document the scope of change in oral history over the last two decades, and sobering to see how dated it made much of the past information and even some of the language. Looking back over the past decade also provided some reassurance about continuity. While it sometimes seems that everything about the practice of oral history has changed, the personal dynamics of conducting an interview have remained very much intact. Whether sitting down face-to-face or using some means of electronic communication, the human interaction of the interview has stayed the same. So have the basic steps: the interviewer’s need for prior research; for knowing how to operate the equipment; for crafting thoughtful, open-ended questions; for establishing rapport; for listening carefully and following up with further questions; and for doing everything possible to elicit candid and substantive responses.

I was glad to see so many of these new trends prominently displayed at the Oral History Association’s recent meeting in Madison, Wisconsin, (October 8-12) where sessions focused on oral history “in motion.” Motion aptly describes the forward-looking nature of oral history, with its expanding methodology and embrace of the latest technology, as well as its eagerness to confront established narratives with alternative voices.

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17. The Salem Witch Trials [infographic]

The Salem Witch Trials of 1692-1693 were by far the largest and most lethal outbreak of witchcraft in American history. Yet Salem was just one of many incidents during the Great Age of Witch Hunts which took place throughout Europe and her colonies over many centuries. Indeed, by European standards, Salem was not even a large outbreak. But what exactly were the factors that made Salem stand out?

In A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience, Emerson Baker places the Salem trials in their broader context and reveals why it has become an enduring legacy. He explains why the Salem crisis marked a turning point in colonial history from Puritan communalism to Yankee independence, from faith in collective conscience to skepticism toward moral governance. Below is an infographic detailing some of the numbers involved in Salem and other witch hunts.

CF_SalemWitchinfographic_091514_final

Download the infographic in jpg or pdf.

Headline image credit: Witchcraft at Salem Village. Engraving. The central figure in this 1876 illustration of the courtroom is usually identified as Mary Walcott. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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18. Watch Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation for free

Here’s a new movie about cartoonists and comic book making: Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation, which spotlights creators Raid Studios in Toronto, including Ramon Perez, Francis Manapul, Kalman Andrasofsky and Marcus Antony To. Some promising up and comers named Stan Lee and Jim Lee also appear—I believe they are unrelated. It’s a nice look at the artist’s studio and the collegial spirit that evolves from it.

Watch Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation for free was originally published on The Beat

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19. Claude Ollier (1922-2014)

       At 91, French author Claude Ollier has passed away; he published his last book ... last year: Cinq contes fantastiques (see the P.O.L. publicity page). Surprisingly little notice of his death so far, even in the French press -- but see, for example, Sabine Audrerie's Mort de l'écrivain Claude Ollier.
       Several of his works have been translated; most of these were published by -- of course -- Dalkey Archive Press. (And, yes, Ollier's work fits the Dalkey-profile to a T.)
       Only one of his works is under review at the complete review: Wert and the Life Without End.
       See also Cecile Lindsay's 1988 A Conversation with Claude Ollier from the Review of Contemporary Fiction.

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20. Nobel-effect on Modiano sales

       So far there have been few articles about the sales-effect of the announcement that Patrick Modiano is this year's Nobel laureate -- in part, in the US/UK, no doubt because almost none of his works are actually available or in print (a situation that will be changing in the coming weeks).
       Unsurprisingly, he got a nice boost in France -- though not enough of one for his new novel to top last week's (through 12 October) bestseller list (you can see how Le suicide français would be hard to top, regardless of international honors ...).
       Ahn Sung-mi reports, in The Korea Herald, that Nobel prize boosts Modiano's book sales in South Korea, as, for example:

Online book retailer Interpark said Missing Person recorded 300 books in sales over a four-day period since the announcement. "This is a drastic change from 2010 when the book was first published and total of 120 books were sold that year," said Jeong Ji-yeon from Interpark.
       And:
"Prior to the award announcement, less than 10 copies of his books were sold on average in a month at bookstores," said a representative of Munhakdonge, publisher of seven books of the author. Munhakdongne printed 13,000 Modiano books upon the Nobel Prize announcement, and plans to print 10,000 more copies as the demand is increasing.
       More surprisingly and impressively, the Tehran Times reports that Patrick Modiano's books soar to Tehran bestsellers list, with six Modinao titles among the top-five at various Tehran booksellers.
       Okay, so in South Korea there are apparently seven Modiano titles available, in Iran -- Iran ! -- there are six, in the US/UK ... less.
       Yes, the situation is changing/improving: Yale University Press' three-in-one collection, Suspended Sentences (see their publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk), substantially increases what's available (from those two Godine titles, with one more reprint to follow soon), and the University of California Press has quickly resuscitated Dora Bruder -- a re-issue is due out next month (see their publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com; no Amazon.co.uk listing at this time). (The University of Nebraska Press seems also to be working on resuscitating Out of the Dark -- see their publicity page, or back-order at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.) Still, overall: a sad state of English-speaking affairs -- and surely yet another counter-example to all the supposed translation-enthusiasm that everyone is so excited about: the down-to-earth reality looks like this: a lot uglier, with even the Iranians managing to do a better job in at least some (and possibly many ?) cases.

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21. International publishing statistics

       In The Bookseller Joshua Farrington reports that IPA: UK publishers 'published most in the world' in 2013, summarizing the new International Publishing Association Annual Report (warning ! dreaded pdf format !), as:

UK publishers released 2,875 new titles per million inhabitants, more than 1,000 titles ahead of the nearest nation, Taiwan. In absolute figures, 2013 saw the UK publish 184,000 new titles and re-editions, the highest figure in Europe, with only the US and China publishing more, with 304,912 and 444,000 titles respectively.
       I do note that Iceland is not included in the reckoning; the most recent statistics I could find, covering 2012, report 1349 published titles; with an Icelandic population at the end of 2012 of 321,857, that makes for 4,191 new titles per million inhabitants .....
       Nevertheless, the UK totals are impressive. Those from Georgia, too -- what the hell is that about ? On the other hand: South Africa only published 68 titles per million inhabitants ? (Okay, those are 2010 figures; not necessarily directly comparable -- but it's still shocking.)

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22. DSC Prize for South Asian Literature longlist

       They've announced the ten-title strong longlist for the 2015 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.
       A couple of real heavyweights on the list: books by Jhumpa Lahiri, Khaled Hosseini, and Kamila Shamsie. Shamsur Rahman Faruqi's The Mirror of Beauty is apparently the only work in translation that made the cut (not that you could tell it's a translation from the Penguin India publicity page ...).

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23. Augustpriset shortlists

       They've announced the shortlists for the Augustpriset, one of the leading Swedish literary prizes.

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24. The Fall review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A Father's Memoir in 424 Steps, Diogo Mainardi's The Fall.

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25. Early blues and country music

Beginning in the early 1920s, and continuing through the mid 1940s, record companies separated vernacular music of the American South into two categories, divided along racial lines: the “race” series, aimed at a black audience, and the “hillbilly” series, aimed at a white audience. These series were the precursors to the also racially separated Rhythm & Blues and Country & Western charts, and arguably the source of the frequent racial divisions of today’s recording industry. But a closer examination reveals that the two populations rely heavily on many of the same musical resources, and that early blues and country music exhibit thorough interpenetration.

Many admirers of early blues and country music observe that black and white musicians from the 1920s to the 1940s share much with respect to repertoire and genre, and that the separation of the two on commercial recordings grew out of the prejudices of record companies. It becomes even more apparent how deeply intertwined the two traditions are when we examine blues and country musicians’ shared stock of schemes. Schemes are preexisting harmonic grounds and melodic structures that are common resources for the creation of songs. A scheme generates multiple distinct songs, with different lyrics and titles. Many schemes generated songs in both blues and country music.

There are several different types of blues and country schemes. One type is a harmonic progression that combines with one particular tune. The “Trouble In Mind” scheme, for example, generates both Bertha Chippie Hill’s “Trouble in Mind” (1) and the Hackberry Ramblers’ “Fais Pas Ça” (2). Both use the same harmonic progression, and the two melodies have relatively slight variation. Hill recorded for the “race” series, and the Hackberry Ramblers for the “hillbilly” series.

1. Bertha “Chippie” Hill, “Trouble in Mind” (Bertha “Chippie” Hill—Document Records)

2. Hackberry Ramblers, “Fais Pas Ça” (Jolie Blonde—Arhoolie Productions)

A second type of scheme is a preexisting harmonic progression that musicians associate primarily with a specific tune, which they set to lyrics about various subjects, but which they also use to support original melodies. In the “Frankie and Johnny” scheme, the same melody combines with lyrics about Frankie’s shooting of Johnny (or Albert) (3), the Boll Weevil infestation at the turn of the twentieth century (4), and the gambler Stack O’Lee, who shot and killed fellow gambler Billy Lyons (5). Singers also use the harmonic progression to support original melodies, with lyrics about Frankie (6), Stack O’Lee (7), or another subject (8).

In all of the examples, the same correspondence between lyrics and harmony is evident in the harmonic shift that accompanies the completion of the opening rhyming couplet, on the words “above” (3), “your home” (4), “road” (5), “beer” (6), the first “Stack O’Lee” (7), and “that line” (8), and in the harmonic shifts that accompany emphasized words in the refrain, on the words “man” and “wrong” (3, 5, and 6), “no home” and “no home” (4), “bad man” and “Stack O’Lee” (7), and “bad” and “bad” (8). Four of the recordings given here are from the “race” labels, and two are from the “hillbilly” labels, but the same scheme generates all of them.

Jimmie Rodgers. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Jimmie Rodgers. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

3. Jimmie Rodgers, “Frankie and Johnny” (The Essential Jimmie Rodgers—Sony)

4. W. A. Lindsey, “Boll Weevil” (People Take Warning—Tomkins Square)

5. Ma Rainey, “Stack O’Lee Blues” (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom—Yazoo)

6. Charley Patton, “Frankie and Albert” (Charley Patton Complete Recordings—JSP Records)

7. Mississippi John Hurt, “Stack O’Lee” (Before the Blues—Yazoo)

8. Henry Thomas, “Bob McKinney” (Texas Worried Blues—Document Records)

A third type of scheme is a preexisting harmonic progression that musicians use primarily to support original melodies. This type of scheme is the most productive, and often supports countless melodies. The most well-known and productive of this type is the standard twelve-bar blues scheme. All seven of the following recordings (9–15)—four from the “race” series and three from the “hillbilly” series—contain original melodies combined with the standard twelve-bar blues harmonic progression, and all demonstrate the AAB poetic form that typically combines with the scheme, in which singers state the opening A line of a couplet twice and follow it with one statement of the rhyming B line.

9. Ida Cox, “Lonesome Blues” (Ida Cox Complete Recorded Works—Document Records)

10. Charley Patton, “Moon Going Down” (Charlie Patton Founder of the Delta Blues—Mastercopy Pty Ltd)

11. Jesse “Babyface” Thomas, “Down in Texas Blues” (The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of)

12. Lonnie Johnson, “Mr. Johnson’s Blues No. 2” (A Smithsonian Collection of Classic Blues Singers—Sony/Smithsonian)

13. W. Lee O’Daniel & His Hillbilly Boys, “Dirty Hangover Blues” (White Country Blues—Sony)

14. Jesse “Babyface” Thomas, “Down in Texas Blues” (The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of) (White Country Blues—Sony)

15. Carlisle & Ball, “Guitar Blues” (White Country Blues—Sony)

A fourth type of scheme is a preexisting melodic structure whose harmonizations display considerable variance and yet also certain requirements. The following four examples—two by black musicians and two by white musicians—are all realizations of the “Sitting on Top of the World” scheme, and use the same melodic structure. Their harmonizations are in some ways quite similar—for example, all four harmonize the beginning of the second, rhyming line with the same harmony, and accelerate the rate of harmonic change going into the cadence—but the harmonizations vary more than the melodic structure.

16. Tampa Red, “Things ‘Bout Coming My Way No. 2” (Tampa Red the Guitar Wizard—Sony)

17. Bill Broonzy, “Worrying You Off My Mind” (Big Bill Broonzy Good Time Tonight—Sony)

18. Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, “Sittin’ on Top of the World” (Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys Anthology—Puzzle Productions)

19. The Carter Family, “I’m Sitting on Top of the World” (On Border Radio—Arhoolie)

Finally, a fifth type of scheme is a preexisting melodic structure for which performers have little shared conception of the harmonic progression. The last four examples—one by a black musician and three by white musicians—are all realizations of the “John Henry” scheme, and use the same melodic structure, but very different harmonic progressions. Riley Puckett, in his instrumental version, uses only one harmony throughout (20). Woody Guthrie uses two harmonies (21). The Williamson Brothers & Curry also use two harmonies, but arrive at a much different harmonization than Guthrie (22). Leadbelly uses three harmonies (23).

20. Riley Puckett, “A Darkey’s Wail” (White Country Blues—Sony)

21. Woody Guthrie, “John Henry” (Woody Guthrie Sings Folk Songs—Smithsonian Folkways Recordings)

22. Williamson Brothers & Curry, “Gonna Die with My Hammer in My Hand” (Anthology of American Folk Music—Smithsonian Folkways Recordings)

23. Leadbelly, “John Henry” (Lead Belly’s Last Sessions— Smithsonian Folkways Recordings)

Record companies presented American vernacular music in the context of a racial divide, but examining the common stock of schemes helps to reveal how extensively black and white musical traditions are intertwined. There are stylistic differences between blues and country music, but many differences lie on the surface, while on a deeper level the two populations frequently rely on the same musical foundations.

Headline image credit: Fiddlin’ Bill Hensley. Asheville, North Carolina. Public domain via Library of Congress.

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