Entries in booknotes (7)


Book Notes: Cold Hand in Mine by Robert Aickman

Review/Notes of Cold Hand in Mine by Robert Aickman. (Link)

Date finished: 3/10/2019

I heard of Aickman from John Darnielle, of the Mountain Goats, who described him as a literary influence during his tenure on the Podcast I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats. Darnielle spoke of Aickman as being a very subtle, suggestive writer of horror and strangeness, which sounded right up my alley.

The stories collected in "Cold Hand in Mine" are variable in their adherence to that mission, with some (The Hospice, The Clock Watcher) being almost inexplicable and others (Pages from a Young Girls Journal, The Same Dog) bringing more of a light touch to already familiar tales and themes.

Still, several of the stories in here are absolute masterpieces--the Hospice, in particular is stunningly weird, to the point that it's almost funny. "Meeting Mr. Millar" also has a great deal of humor mixed with the bizarre, as the narrator is an editor of pornographic fiction.

The hardest part for me was that Aickman's prose is very specific and very stylized, and the subtlety of his creepy imagery is easy to miss if you read quickly. Unfortunately, as a father to a new baby (as well as an already dynamic and engaged five year old) it's hard to find time to read something slowly, and this collection took me far longer to read than I think it might otherwise have.

Really fantastic stuff.


Book Notes: Encyclopedia of Black Comics by Dr. Sheena Howard

Review/Notes on The Encyclopedia of Black Comics by Sheena C. Howard. Forward by Henry Louis Gates. Afterward by Christopher Priest (Link)

Date Finished: 2/13/19

It's a real treat to be able to read something about a subject you love and feel close to, and discover a whole other side to it that you never knew. This was definitely the case with The Encyclopedia of Black Comics, which (as with any book about race in America) held up a mirror to the world of comics and sequential art and provided an extended counter-narrative to the one I knew.

The real beating heart of this book is the amazing life-stories of the people who make up the biographical entries. Some of the most enlightening to me were:

-Orrin Cromwell Evans, who, with the publication of All-Negro Comics in 1947 became the first African-American publisher of comic books.

-Vernon E Grant, who helped introduce Manga to western audiences through his translations, after serving in the Vietnam war and living in Tokyo.

-Ollie Harrington, political cartoonist for many prominent African-American newspapers, for which he was eventually forced to leave the country for fear of his life and livelihood.

-Micheline Hess, an early colorist at Milestone comics who made the transition to web-comics and now writes amazing and gorgeous comics with Black female protagonists.

-Ariell Johnson, owner of Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, the first (?) Black woman to own a comic store

-Jackie Ormes, the first female African-American cartoonist who wrote some of the first positive representations of Black women in comics in the 1930s and 40s.

-Sanford Greene, who simultaneously drew Power Man and Iron Fist and also illustrated Hip-Hop album covers by MF Doom and other Hip-Hop artists.

This book has also given me lots of great comics to go and check out, and I'm glad to have such an evocative and informative springboard for new stuff to read. Huzzah Dr. Howard!

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