Book Review: ‘Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test’ Edited by Mark D. White

There are philosophy books for just about every major pop culture franchise or major property out there. I do really like reading them though, as it gives some interesting insight and depth to characters and story. Sometimes these sort of books are filled with a lot of drivel but that doesn’t mean that they’re not entertaining in their own way.

This one seemed low on drivel and really got to the core of a lot of the characters within the Watchmen story. What makes this really interesting, is that the Watchmen universe has expanded since this book came out. We now have prequel comics, sequel comics, a movie, an upcoming television show and probably new stories with these character for years to come.

What makes this cool is that there’s a lot of good analysis in the book that can be applied to the characters when observed in these new stories and through different mediums.

I wouldn’t call this book a “must own” or anything but I’ve always enjoyed philosophy and I certainly love Watchmen.

This is just one of dozens (maybe hundreds) of books like this but it is well organized, well edited and none of it seemed like filler.

I found this to be easy to digest and an enjoyable read.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other books about philosophy and pop culture franchises, as well as the original Watchmen comic.

Book Review: ‘Comic Wars: How Two Tycoons Battled Over the Marvel Comics Empire–And Both Lost’ by Dan Raviv

Comic Wars was a pretty interesting read, as I’ve always liked books about business and corporate histories. What made it even more interesting was that it covered a really dark time in the history of Marvel Comics.

The gist of this tale is told around Marvel Entertainment’s bankruptcy near the turn of the century. It goes through all of the steps, bad business decisions and market changes that led to shit figuratively hitting the fan at the “House of Ideas”.

Being that I was a huge fan of Marvel’s toyline done by Toy Biz, I found all that stuff really interesting. Also, this was cool to read because when Marvel really started to suffer, I was actually at a place in my life where I wasn’t reading comics very often and I had no idea that the industry, as a whole, was struggling. As far as I knew, everything was still booming and it wasn’t until a few years later when Marvel started selling off the film rights of their flagship characters that I saw the writing on the wall.

This book is thorough, captivating and damn informative.

This would actually be a great documentary if someone decided to adapt this true tale into a film with interviews featuring all the key players in the story.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other books about the comic industry from the last few decades.

Book Review: ‘Excelsior!: The Amazing Life of Stan Lee’ by Stan Lee and George Mair

With Stan Lee passing away recently, I wanted to finally read his autobiography, as I’ve had it for quite some time.

Overall, this was a good and informative read. The highlight is reading Stan’s stories, told in his own words.

The only real negative about this book is that it had a co-writer. While that’s okay and most autobiographies have co-writers, I didn’t like the style in which it was done.

There would be long sections written by Stan, himself, and then long sections spliced in by the other writer, George Mair, in an effort to add more context. I certainly appreciate the extra clarity but it made this a disjointed read.

When I read Don Cherry’s biography, I loved that it was Don Cherry speaking to me as Don Cherry. It was tightened up or edited to come off as cleaner and more academic, it felt as if the entire book was the man talking to me. I heard Cherry’s voice in my head, which made it a really fun experience. I had that same experience here, as I read Stan’s words, but it was always broken up.

I don’t want to sound like I’m hating on the book, as it is a must read for fans of Stan. It is his life’s story, it covers a lot of ground but I feel like it could have been presented better.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other comic industry biographies but most notably, “Kirby: King of Comics” by Mark Evanier.

Book Review: ‘Kirby: King of Comics’ by Mark Evanier

If you love comics and you’re not a fan of Jack Kirby, you might be an evil alien from Apokolips.

Jack Kirby was the King. While this book actually tells you the tale of how Kirby got this name and how it bothered him, it’s hard to argue that he isn’t the King, as far as the art side of comic book creation goes.

He’s a man that’s been around since the beginning of superhero comics and was instrumental in creating dozens of characters that people pay billions of dollars to see on the big screen, several decades later.

I have always loved Jack Kirby and this book is truly invaluable for fans of the man’s work.

The book is a biography but most of the pages are full of Kirby art, throughout his entire career, and this is almost more of an art book than it is a straight biography. But I love that this is really a hybrid of the two, as it’s nice to read the stories behind his creations while also getting to soak in the art associated with it on large pages.

This is a thick, over-sized book that presents Kirby’s work nicely. It feels good in your hands and I know that it is a book that I will always look through for years and years. I may even scan and blow up a lot of the art to make prints for my wall.

What I loved most about this, is it delves deep into Kirby’s life and his work and doesn’t put all of the focus on his time at Marvel and DC. There’s so much here that I wasn’t aware of and a lot of stupendous Kirby concepts and comics that I never knew existed and have never seen until now.

This is a book that all real comic book fans should own.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: other biographies of comic book greats, such as Stan Lee’s “Exclesior” and “Will Eisner: A Spirited Life”.

Book Review: ‘The Social Justice Warrior Handbook: A Practical Survival Guide for Snowflakes, Millennials, and Generation Z’ by Lisa De Pasquale

I got this book on the suggestion of a friend. It was pretty funny.

You see, the world has grown way too fucking sensitive. This book pokes fun at the overly sensitive left, more accurately, the social justice warriors that feel that it’s necessary to chime in on every non-issue, blow shit out of proportion and berate everyone that’s not them over how racist, sexist and homophobic they are.

Nothing in this book was all that surprising, it was just a sarcastic parody of the SJW mindset. It exists to showcase their absurdity and how strange these fragile yet militant snowflakes are.

I wouldn’t call this a must own, I’ve read lots of similar books over the years and regarding a myriad of subjects or groups of people. But poking stupid people is always amusing to me.

I don’t know, there’s not much else to say about this. I’m not a fan of SJWs and this made me laugh at them. If that’s what you want in a book, pick this up.

There are lots of people in this world that take themselves too seriously. They need to lighten up, step back and know that it’s okay to laugh at yourself sometimes. Besides, the more someone is offended and irrational, the less likely it is that I’ll listen to them or their message. But I think that’s most people.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: any libertarian or conservative comedy book, really. There’s tons of them out there.

Book Review: ‘How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way’ by Stan Lee & John Buscema

This book was a prized possession for me around the time I was ten or eleven. I think, at the time, that it was the only book I could find on the subject in a small Florida town in the days before the Internet and Amazon.

I once had aspirations of being a comic book artist though. I succeeded in my middle school years and put out some books after starting a company with some friends. We successfully sold a few dozen comics (per release) to other kids but being twelve in an era without Internet meant that you had to pound the pavement and things like school and chores often times got in the way.

This book taught me a lot at the time though.

If it wasn’t for this book, I wouldn’t have had as good of a grasp on drawing dynamic motion, shadowing, light and understanding perspective.

In some regard, this book is now dated but that is mostly due to the art style and some of the old school techniques that this teaches. It’s a very straight to basics book that came out before the digital era. Therefore, it doesn’t touch on modern techniques like creating comic book art digitally.

Still, this is a great starting point for anyone as the core things that this teaches are still necessary today.

In fact, many comic book pros could benefit from the lessons here as dynamic motion seems to be dying and perspective has been a bit wonky in several of the mainstream titles I’ve looked at lately.

If someone is serious about becoming a comic book artist and learning the craft, this should definitely have a place in their library. There are more up to date books on the subject that have come out over the years though. I plan to review some of them in the future but I wanted to go back and give respect to this one first, the O.G. comic book art manual.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Writing and Illustrating the Graphic Novel, Framed Ink, Figure Drawing for Comics and Graphic Novels, Cartooning: The Head & Figure and Realistic Figure Drawing.

Book Review: ‘The Audacity of Hops: The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution’ by Tom Acitelli

History is awesome. Beer is awesomer. America is awesomest.

Put all three of those together and you get this: a triple awesome badass epic that goes through the history of craft brewing in the United States of America.

Tom Acitelli has put together a great book for craft beer lovers. It doesn’t matter if you are in America or not, this book tells the interesting tales of some of the most interesting breweries there are. It examines how the craft brewing industry came to be such a juggernaut in the U.S. and how it has fought against the bigger corporate megabreweries (still a much, much bigger juggernaut).

The book helped to solidify and enrich my love of beer, its creation process and just about everything else surrounding it.

Acitelli’s words are well-written, the tales he tells are well presented and there is a lot of new knowledge to walk away with even for the most hardcore beer aficionado.

I cannot recommend this book to beer lovers and/or history buffs enough.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: The books Tasting BeerBeyond the Pale and Asheville Beer.