Book Review: ‘Comic Book CPR: How to Clean and Press Comic Books’ by Michael Frederik Sorensen

Since I’ve been collecting much older and more prestigious comic books lately, I’ve been more concerned with the overall value and condition of the marquee things in my collection. So I picked up this book, after a recommendation, so that I could learn more about restoration options and the processes involved.

Overall, if this is something that interests you, this book is an invaluable resource. It has a lot more information than I realized even existed and it’s pretty thorough as it describes the how and why of each process.

It’s well organized and everything is stated pretty clearly with decent photos for reference.

Honestly, it’s all a bit overwhelming. Not the book but all the processes and ways to do different types of restoration. And all of it requires practice and the development of specific skills.

But it’s all interesting and even if I never do any of these things, myself, I have a much better understanding and appreciation for the craftsmanship and time that goes into comic book restoration.

Some of the stuff I don’t have the equipment for but for the stuff that I can do, I guess I should go to my local comic shop, raid the dollar bins for worthless pulp and start practicing.

My only complaint about the book is its size. It’s as big as a magazine and I wish they made a version that was more compact, so that I could fit it in my pocket and pull it out for reference or study when I’ve got a bit of time to kill in a waiting room, a long line or a diner.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: other books on comic book collecting and maintenance.

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: ‘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 $100 Startup’ by Chris Guillebeau

*Written in 2014.

The $100 Startup was an awesome and inspiring read. Actually, I read it twice back-to-back.

The book tells several stories of people who started their own businesses for very little money, how they marketed themselves, found a good niche and became great successes. The stories within these pages helped me cultivate some ideas I have been mulling over and it pushed me in the direction of working towards my ultimate goal, creating something solely my own that makes me money and affords me the ability to work where I want, when I want and how I want.

This book isn’t a “get rich quick” scheme that promises the universe but gives you nothing. This book preaches hard work, ingenuity and gives one the tools to succeed. The tools aren’t even that complicated and this book keeps things simple and straightforward.

There are a lot of books on startups but this one takes the cake, in my opinion. It can’t guarantee your success but it can certainly prepare you for what’s ahead if you take the journey. It also has enough depth and several examples to help get your idea machine churning.

All in all, it is a pretty invaluable book.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: Other books by Chris Guillebeau.

Book Review: ‘Survive!: Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere – Alive’ by Les Stroud

If you’ve ever watched the Discovery Channel show Survivorman, you should know who Les Stroud is. He is, in my opinion, the best survival expert in the world today. His show was always the most realistic, most practical and wasn’t full of staged bullshit for dramatic effect. What you saw with Stroud is what you got, which is the same with this book.

Survive! follows the tradition of Stroud being the best, as it is the best book on survival that I have read. Take my word for it, I’ve read quite a bit throughout the years.

Stroud covers pretty much everything you need to know. If you have watched his show, you should be familiar with most of what is discussed in this book. However, unlike his television series, the book is able to go into greater detail on every subject and skill that you should understand and master.

From a writing standpoint, Stroud puts a lot of himself into his words and his personality comes through in the book, which just adds to the awesomeness of the experience. He also comments on several misconceptions and some of the bullshit survival tactics put out there by other survival “experts” who are just trying to make shocking television while selling survival gear with their own name brand on it.

Les Stroud cuts through the crap and gets right down to business, which in a survival situation, is what one needs. So put down the elephant poop cocktail and delve into something far less gross and more realistic.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: Other books by Les Stroud.

Book Review: ‘Dear Client: This Book Will Teach You How to Get What You Want from Creative People’ by Bonnie Siegler

Sometimes I read books within my own field. Since I am a Creative Director, I like to see what is out there from time to time that pertains to what I do for a living. I don’t often review these sort of books but when something unique comes along, it is worth pointing out.

And that’s what Dear Client is, something unique and without realizing until I read it, something necessary.

Granted, I don’t know how many people that aren’t creatives will want to read it, as most of the ones I deal with on a regular basis, don’t seem to give a shit how they treat me, the creative process or even want to understand what the goal of it all is. But I work in a pretty toxic environment that most creative types run away from… and have.

If only I could get my bosses to read this but if it isn’t some cheat sheet to fantasy football, they’d probably just use it to prop up an unbalanced desk or throw it in some drawer for a personal assistant to discover a decade from now.

Bonnie Siegler wrote something fairly magnificent though and it is both thorough and straight to the point. Its bluntness is great but it’s not a mean bluntness, more like cutting away the bullshit and just stating things simply so anyone can grasp it. There’s no technical jargon or artist lingo that will be hard for the layman to understand. It spells out things nicely and provides a road map on how to approach every scenario in this book to come out with a win-win situation for all.

Siegler’s book is organized into 66 chapters, all of which are just 2-4 pages each. There is a lot to take in but the book is well organized and easy to go back and reference, if need be.

While this is written to help out those dealing with creatives, it is beneficial to creatives too, as it is a reminder of how things should be done. It’s also great to have someone explaining our side of the coin to the business world in such a good way.

Kudos to Bonnie Siegler for having my back and creating something so valuable, easy to pick up, straightforward and honest.

I couldn’t put this down but it is a quick read, as I finished it in just over an hour.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: Truth be told, there really isn’t another book like this. At least that I have come across.

Book Review: ‘The Way of the SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed’ by Mark Divine & Allyson E. Machate

I had some high expectations for this book after seeing how highly rated it was on Amazon. I was disappointed.

It was too full of stories and personal examples that seemed like shameless self-promotion. The bits that were helpful advice were comprised of a lot of the same shit I’ve heard pretty much everywhere since the time I was able to read.

Also, he got into the whole “Law of Attraction” thing without calling it that. I felt like I was reading a Navy SEALs memoir about how to use The Secret, as he talked about meditating on what you want and visualizing it as happening. At least he didn’t go as far as saying that a wizard would appear and grant your wish.

I expected something moderately profound or at least highly useful from what I read about this book. Instead, I got a dude talking about his failed businesses and other bio shit with a bunch of recycled sagely mumbo jumbo sprinkled on top.

It’s not a bad book but it doesn’t offer much that I haven’t encountered elsewhere and I don’t care enough about this guy to need his life story filling up most of the pages. I didn’t intend to buy a biography.

Actually, it is a bad book. Simply for all the woo woo bullshit.

Rating: 4/10
Pairs well with: Other woo woo bullshit that rejects science and promotes nonsense.

Book Review: ‘Man Up!: 367 Classic Skills for the Modern Guy’ by Paul O’Donnell

Man Up! is a pretty cool book. For one thing, out of the 367 skills, there is certainly a lot of stuff for every guy to learn. I don’t care who you are, there’s new skills in here for everyone. Now whether each “how to” is the best way to accomplish these tasks would have to be looked at on a case-by-case basis and since there’s 367 of them, I don’t have that sort of time.

Regardless, the book is pretty thorough for as many skills as it runs through. And after reading through them all, everything seems pretty straightforward and pretty kosher.

It isn’t a massive book but it is a decent size. The sections are well organized and similar things are categorized together. The illustrations are well done and add to the helpful nature of the book.

I enjoyed Man Up! quite a bit.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: The books put out by The Art of Manliness.