Book Review: ‘What Would Skeletor Do?: Diabolical Ways to Master the Universe’ by Robb Pearlman

What Would Skeletor Do? is a a self-help and life advice book by none other than Skeletor himself. Well, at least it is Robb Pearlman writing as Skeletor because sadly, Skeletor isn’t real.

It’s a pretty funny book, overall.

Although, it’s more or less a picture book with some captions. Each page or spread is an image from the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe or She-Ra Princess of Power cartoons from the ’80s. Accompanying each page is a blurb where Skeletor gives you some sort of wise advice on how to better yourself and on how to master your own universe.

That’s pretty much it. It’s nothing fantastic but it’s still a very quick and entertaining read, especially for He-Man fans.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other books from the Masters of the Universe franchise.

Book Review: ‘Garbage Pail Kids’ by The Topps Company

For ’80s kids that want to feel nostalgic, this is a damn cool book to thumb through.

However, if you wanted a real book about the history of Garbage Pail Kids and the larger story behind them, this doesn’t have much.

The book has a fantastic introduction written by legend Art Spiegelman, who was an instrumental part of this brand’s creation. He delves into the backstory but there is only so much you can fit within a five page introduction.

There is also a solid afterword by John Pound but it’s also rather short and kind of just lets you peek behind the scenes a little bit.

This is really just an art book and that’s actually totally fine. I just wish there was more story and history presented.

Ninety percent of the book is Garbage Pail Kids art, presented in order over the course of the first five series that were released. However, there are so many more cards that were great and came later. In fact, these cards went on to produce fifteen series in their original run, as well as some spinoffs, larger cards and a few attempts at being resurrected over the years.

Maybe Topps will release future editions and eventually showcase all the art in a larger, nicer format.

I wouldn’t quite call this a must own for fans but it is still a worthwhile book to pick up if you enjoy the art and want to take a trip down memory lane.

Plus, Spiegelman and Pound’s words made for a good read.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other books Topps has put out regarding their products from the past.

Book Review: Famous Monsters – Ack-ives, Vol. 2: The House of Hammer

I’ve been a Hammer Films aficionado since I was a wee little lad. Growing up, my granmum always had AMC and other old movie stations on. As the sun went down, often times there’d be some solid old school horror, whether it was the Universal Monsters stuff, Vincent Price movies or the Hammer films, which almost always starred Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing and usually the two of them together.

I used to videotape every Hammer film that came on television and I had a solid collection. As I got older, I ended up getting just about everything I could on DVD, completing the Dracula, Frankenstein and Mummy film series. Not to mention everything in-between.

So I had to pick this up when I saw it in my local comic book shop.

This reads like a book but is in a magazine format. But it’s pretty thick and has a slew of good articles about the history of Hammer studios and all the great movies they put out.

It delves into their big franchises, which were the UK’s darker and more serious takes on the franchises originally created by Universal, most of which came from famous works of literature like Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Hammer didn’t just stop there, though. They did other vampire movies, mummy movies, zombie movies, werewolf movies and just about everything else under the sun that could be tailored into a good horror story.

Famous Monsters did a fine job of painting the picture of who the creators behind Hammer were and why their work was so essential to the evolution of horror.

This is definitely worth checking out and it is plastered with lots of great photos from the film themselves, as well as behind the scenes stuff.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: other classic horror magazines.

Book Review: LIFE: Film Noir: 75 Years of the Greatest Crime Films

While this was technically released in a magazine format, it’s written more like a book, is devoid of ads and I read it on my kindle. Also, I want to read more specialty magazines like this for review purposes but since there are only a few I have, at the moment, I’ll categorize them with books for now.

This one looks at film-noir throughout history. It’s really broken into two sections: one that deals specifically with classic film-noir and then a latter section that deals with neo-noir, showing the effects and influence that classic noir had on later motion pictures.

The films selected here are all pretty top notch pictures in the genre. I thought it a bit odd that Sunset Boulevard was omitted but this magazine did seem to put its focus more on noir that were primarily crime dramas. But not really mentioning the impact of that film, as well as the influence of Citizen Kane, as far as style goes, seemed off. Especially when this does mention the stylistic influences it took from German Expressionism.

But I’m not going to gripe about those films not really being on the radar of the staff that put this together.

I think that this would have been a better and much richer read had it been put into something larger than a magazine. I blew through this in an hour and while I liked reading about the films discussed here, each chapter was pretty damn short. But I also get that this is more of a crash course and primer on noir movies than a full semester at film school.

The best part wasn’t even the write ups about the films, though. It was actually a lot of the captions that came with all the photos thrown in here. I learned more new information that way than from the film write ups themselves.

Reading this was a breeze but frankly, it left me wanting more… a lot more. But there are several great books on film-noir that give you a lot more meat and potatoes.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other books on film-noir: Into the Dark, Film Noir FAQ and The Dark Side of the Screen.

Book Review: ‘Night of the Living Trekkies’ by Kevin David Anderson & Sam Stall

I read this book a few years ago and it always kind of stuck with me.

Night of the Living Trekkies is amusing and even if it isn’t great literature, it’s still a worthwhile read to fans of both Star Trek and zombies.

The twist here, though, is that the zombies aren’t typical zombies, they are of alien origin, which just adds a little extra Star Trek twist to the plot.

The story takes place during a Star Trek convention in Houston. The main character is a young war veteran that works security at the hotel where the convention is taking place. Most of the characters are tropes and forgettable but within the context of this story, they all serve their purpose.

Ultimately, this story asks, “What if a zombie outbreak happened during a Star Trek convention?” While it’s a strange question to ask that can only be answered in a book for a very niche market, I fit in that market and this quick, pulpy read kept my attention.

It’s mostly only memorable because the premise is so unique and unusual but it did stick with me in the years since I’ve read it. That’s why I wanted to read it again. And because I thought it was a cool concept that was executed fairly well and I wanted to draw some attention to it with a review.

Maybe the Star Trek IP owners could throw the world a bone, show they have a sense of humor and actually allow this story to be adapted for the screen. I think it’d make a fun film. But let’s be honest, that would probably never happen.

Rating: 6.75/10

Book Review: ‘Stan Lee’s How to Write Comics’ by Stan Lee & Robert Greenberger

Since How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way rarely left my side in my adolescent and early teen years, I wanted to check out Stan Lee’s other books on creating comics.

This was the first more modern volume I’ve read. He put out a few through Dynamite Entertainment about a decade ago and I’d like to work my way through them.

What drew my interest to this one, in particular, is that it was focused on writing. So obviously, I wanted to soak up all of Stan the Man’s advice, as I’ve created comic books in the past and plan to work on a few in the future.

While this book definitely has Stan steering the ship, a lot of it features advice from a myriad of comic book creatives. Stan does a superb job of organizing the advice of others and presenting it at the right time to help hammer home some of his points. But he also allows for others’ perspectives to be heard.

This book probably isn’t interesting to those who don’t want to write comics but it is chock full of great advice for those that do.

It’s not life changing for would be writers but it is informative and a good primer on how to write specifically for comics and the pros and cons of different writing methods.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics and Stan Lee’s How to Draw Superheroes.

Book Review: ‘Cerebus the Barbarian Messiah: Essays On the Epic Graphic Satire of Dave Sim and Gerhard’ Edited by Eric Hoffman

As a Cerebus fan, this was a really cool book to pick up.

It’s a collection of essays regarding the character, his world, the various narratives, their evolution, as well as the life and beliefs of writer Dave Sim.

If you like Cerebus, this adds so much context to the stories and the series’ overall progression and multiple transformations that you should probably give it a read.

It’s well organized and certainly well thought out and researched. There wasn’t a dull essay in the lot and while some of them were quite long, they all kept my attention.

I still haven’t read the later, more controversial, stories in the 300 issue run of Cerebus but this kind of prepared me for the tonal and stylistic shifts that are going to happen.

I can’t say that I agree with Sim on everything but having gotten through the first two big phonebooks of material, this book made me excited to continue on.

Cerebus is an interesting and unique comic that changed the self-publishing game for the better. This book just enhances the aura around the series and makes you appreciate the years upon years that Dave Sim and Gerhard put into this world.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: the epic 300 issue Cerebus comic book series.