Book Review: ‘The Art of Vampirella – The Warren Years’ by David Roach

I’ve been going through a lot of comic book art books lately and I’ve gotta say, this one has been my favorite out of the half dozen or so I’ve looked at this year. In fact, I read a friend’s copy and now I’ve got to buy my own.

What sets this apart is the art itself.

Overall, this follows the same format as other art books, especially those put out by Dynamite Entertainment. This is very similar to the other Vampirella ones, as well as the great Red Sonja books I’ve seen.

But again, the art here makes this stand out in front of the pack.

This is a must own simply because the covers from the Warren era of Vampirella are absolutely amazing!

I’ve been trying to collect a lot of the old Warren Vampirella issues, simply because of how great the covers are but with this book, you can own the lot and look through them in one volume whenever you feel like it.

Warren Publishing hired a slew of super talented artists to do these covers and honestly, this is some of the best fantasy, horror and sword and sorcery art pieces ever put to canvas.

It’s the art that got me into comic books to begin with. It’s also my favorite artistic medium. Since this features some of the best covers ever created for comic magazines, why wouldn’t I buy this and cherish it for years to come?

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: other art books put out by Dynamite Entertainment that features the history of the characters they publish.

Book Review: ‘The A-Z of Marvel Monsters’ by Various

I came across this encyclopedia of Marvel monsters on Amazon and though that it’d be cool to add to my collection, as I like old school Marvel monster stories, especially with Jack Kirby art.

This was somewhat disappointing though, as it just gives one monster per letter in the alphabet and some of the choices were odd.

This is a pretty thin hardcover and it somewhat serves as an art book as much as it is a reference book. However, the monster encyclopedia entries only take up about half of the book and their info is pretty minimal.

The second half is stuffed full of old reprints of stories featuring some of these creatures.

Honestly, it’d be really cool if Marvel made a monster encyclopedia that was more comprehensive, covered a much larger lot of creatures and gave us a lot more meat to chew on.

This is really more of a kids book and what’s weird about that is I don’t know how many kids in the 2010s will really give a shit about comic book monsters from 60 years ago. I wish that wasn’t the reality we live in but it is and Marvel should realize that but then again, most of what they put out in 2019 shows how out of touch and politically insane they’ve become.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: other Marvel art books and reference books.

Book Review: ‘The Art of Red Sonja’ by Christopher Lawrence

I liked the recent art book that Marvel put out for Conan the Barbarian, so I thought that I’d check out the first art book that Dynamite Entertainment released for Red Sonja.

The most important takeaway from this book is that it really shows how broad the history of Red Sonja is, as she moved between different publishers, had run-ins with Conan, Spider-Man and others, over the decades she’s existed in comic book form.

She’s sort of become the queen of the crossovers in the last few years but her team-ups with other heroes weren’t as common in the early days, other than being spun off from Conan.

This book has a solid introduction and then it just gives you hundreds of pages of covers and other art pieces featuring the character in all her badass sexiness. It’s actually cool to see, as we’ve entered a time where sexy comic book heroines are being drawn to look like Rebel Wilson, Sebastian Bach or some frumpy hipster with a mental patient haircut.

I’m glad that Dynamite hasn’t caved to social media pressure and I hope they never do. Red Sonja is strong, beautiful and an absolute fucking badass. She has to stay that way because anything else would ruin the great legacy that is front and center in this book.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other art books put out by Dynamite Entertainment that features the history of the characters they publish.

Book Review: ‘The Marvel Art of Conan the Barbarian’ by Various

Overall, this was a pretty cool art book that had enough text and information to give good context to the pages of art that were featured.

My only real complaint is that I wished that this also featured the great art that was used in the Savage Sword of Conan magazines.

But that could be due to a future release where Marvel does another art book focused solely on that unique series.

Plus, this is the art of Conan the Barbarian, as the title specifically states. Although, it also features art from the King Conan series too.

Anyway, this is a pretty cool book to check out if you are a Conan the Barbarian fan. It’s mostly giant art pages with blurbs. But it does have a nice introduction and some pages with more text than those standard blurbs.

Whether or not it’s worth the price point is up to the buyer, I guess. I can’t recommend it as a must own. Full disclosure, I read my friend’s copy and didn’t buy one, even though I was mostly pleased with it.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other Marvel art books.

Book Review: ‘Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko’ by Blake Bell

Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko reminds me a lot of another book I recently read and reviewed: Kirby: King of Comics.

Both books are very artistically driven with lots of pictures and pages upon pages featuring the men’s artwork over their careers but they also serve as proper biographies that delve into their personal lives but more importantly into their legendary runs at the major American comic book publishing companies.

Before reading this, I thought I knew quite a bit about Steve Ditko but this is so full of information that almost all of it was new. Frankly, it’s a great read if you care about the man behind the great work.

Ditko was an interesting guy, who had his own views on the world that often times had him at odds with publishers and the business world in general. This does a fine job of going through all the highs and lows of the man’s life and career.

If you are a Ditko fan and I don’t know why you wouldn’t be, this is certainly worth a read. Heck, even if you don’t read it and want to flip through it, admiring the man’s art, it’s still worth the cover price.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other books on comic books legends.

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: ‘The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains: Oddball Criminals from Comic Book History’ by Jon Morris

I wanted something lighthearted and fun to read in regards to comic book history. Well, this was exactly that.

This is a good collection of info on a lot of the lowest tier villains throughout comic book history. This goes all the way back to the golden age and works forward through time.

This was a nice, amusing read with a lot of entries featuring dozens of weird baddies. However, my only real complaint is that I wish it had more info on a lot of these characters.

Granted, I understand that many of these were one-off, failed villains, but as you get to the more modern ones, several villains there have had longer, richer histories and it would’ve been cool to have seen more on that.

This isn’t a must own, as almost all of this info exists for free online and these chapters read more like quick Wikipedia articles but for just a few bucks on Kindle, I certainly felt like I got my money’s worth.

There are also other installments that focus on lame heroes and goofy sidekicks.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: the other books in this series. There’s one about heroes and one about sidekicks.