If only the makers of Jonah Hex had Listened.

Hey folks,
After I've seen a few disasterous literary adaptations come down the pipe lately I felt compelled to write the following. If only anyone in charge were actually reading. *sigh*

5 Ways Not to Eff-Up A Literary Adaptation

1. It's about the characters.
As long as it's clear that Frodo needs Samwise to save him from the Ring, then I don't care what you change. It is these characters that we love and are willing to follow. That can't be replaced by a special effect or story twist. Strong consistent characters can steer any successful page-to-screen adaptation.

2. It's got to be an interesting World.
The world of the movie has to be made interesting and new by the writers, directors, and cast. The original author went to a lot of trouble describing the world inhabited by these characters. At least do the author the favor of doing the same when you translate it into a visual medium. Actually it might be a good thing just to let the author do the screenplay. If they want to. What you got to lose?

3. Casting is Key.
I don't care if you get the hottest "It" girl/guy of the moment, if she's not right for the part, then your sunk. And not all actresses are Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren or Cate Blanchett. Those actresses can do any part on earth. Frankly if I heard they were gonna be the leads in an adaptation of anything, I would buy a ticket. I tell anyone who will listen that a great performance from any actor will always gain more than a mediocre performance from a "star" actor. Cast for talent not popularity. Please.

4. If it's not good. Then it's not good.
Okay so you may be able to fool those folks who go see anything the first day it comes out, but a book will outlast a bad literary movie adaptation. In the end that bad movie will end up in a bargain bin at Walmart. Go ahead put it out in January, March or September. However no fan of a book wants to see a poor adaptation of their favorite book. If the movie looks like it's gonna be bad, then just cut your losses and move on to the next project. Don't change the ending, or recast, or bury it. Just don't make the movie in the first place.

5. Not Every Book is Meant to Be a Movie.
It's true. For every great movie adaptation of a book that everyone said "couldn't be done" their are utter abhorrent mistakes. Books and movies are two different mediums. One is visual. One is created with words only. Not everything can or should be both. There are also books that are so iconic that you may want to avoid adaptation completely. I'm looking at you On The Road.

So having said all this here are 5 books that I think would make great movies if done right:
Special Topics In Calamity Physics by Marissa Pessl
Northline by Willy Vlautin
Alias by Brian Michael Bendis
Winesburg Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane by Sean McKeever

Have a great weekend! Book Slave.


Admittance of fault: I Kill Giants

Hey folks,
Alright mark this day in your calendars: I was wrong. Okay I admit it. The following is an explanation of how I ended up enjoying I Kill Giants.

First a flashback: Back in July 2008 I picked up a single issue of an independent comic named I Kill Giants. There was a lot of buzz on the mini-series and it was just 2.99 so I decided to go for it. At the time I hadn't heard of Joe Kelly, who was writing the series. Of course now he's one of my favorite writers after reading his work on Amazing Spider-Man and Deadpool. However in the summer of 2008 I was of a different mindset altogether. After flipping through the first issue I was unimpressed. Maybe it was the heat, but I thought it was derivative of what I had seen in fantasy before. A young girl, different from her peers, who escapes into a fantasy world of her creating which may or may not be real sounded like a Pan's Labyrinth ripoff to me. So I gave it a pass.

However during the next 6 months I Kill Giants was all anyone who reads comics could talk about. It was the Essex County Trilogy of 2008. But still I resisted. Sometimes I have this bizarre irrational stubbornness that makes me retreat from anything that is overtly popular. For the same reason I refuse to see Avatar or read Harry Potter. I fully admit that it's foolish but there it is. I felt the same way about I Kill Giants and so even when the trade came out I said no.

Well then I read Joe Kelly's Amazing Spider-Man arc earlier this year. It was hilarious, funny, and witty. Basically everything I want in a Spider-Man comic. Then I heard a great interview that he gave on Ifanboy and I found out that Kelly had been writing comics since the early 90s. He knows comics. So when I saw the I Kill Giants Titan Edition come thru I decided to give it another chance.

So here it is: I Kill Giants is a wonderful story about a very effed-up 5th grade girl named Barbara Thorson. Barbara keeps two secrets from the world: One is a hammer capable of toppling giants. The other is something far worse. She is different, closed off socially, and finding strength in making the world around her fantastical. But their is obviously something wrong in the Thorson household. The question is whether Barbara is the one with severe emotions problems, or whether she has created a coping mechanism to deal with an external force. Writer Joe Kelly and artist JM Ken Niimura are very savvy to leave us guessing until the final issue. Barbara is an unreliable narrator, but not in a cynical way. The writer is not trying to trick us or smugly wink with hipster cynicism. Rather Barbara's extreme POV endears us to her. She creates a world where she is the strongest person she can be.

However as we find out in this carefully crafted tale, this is not a story of good vs. evil. Barbara cannot kill the most horrifying thing out there: the unknown. Even giants are easier opponents. She has to create a world that she can control because in the "real world" she is helpless. I was very impressed by how Kelly and Niimura deftly switch between POVs. We get to see Barbara from multiple sides who try to understand and help her. It's a very emotional tale at the end. Barbara Thorson goes through a very rich character journey. The reader experiences Barbara's epiphany at the same time that the reader does, which makes it very involving.

So in the end I highly reccomend I Kill Giants. Okay. Are you happy?

Have a great week. Book Slave.


It's a busy time.

Hello Y'all,
Having a great week? I hope so. In fact tomorrow is my b-day! It's also going to be a day where USA and England win and move on the next round (I hope, please, let it happen). A lot of things. Here's the plan this week.

Reading List 6/22-6/29
Love & Blood - Soccer baby! yeah.
The Ecstatic- Book Club book. I Love my book club.

A stack to catch up on. End of the month/fiscal year comic crash.

Have a great week! Book Slave.


Reading List 6/15/2010-6/22/2010

Hey World,
How are you? Hope you are all having a good summer wherever you reside on this spinning orb. I am a busy bee, but I cannot avoid the lure of the printed page.

Reading List
American Gods-In order to catch up with 1b1t I'll need to read a chapter a day. Can I do it? To Be Continued.
Love & Blood-Decided to pick this up off the TBR pile because it's a World Cup-centric book. By the way I love world cup! Go SPAIN!
Hellboy: The Wild Hunt-Because it'd be weird if I wasn't reading a graphic novel.

Four Four Two

Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man, and some older comics. Apparently since I dropped some comics that haven't been good lately (Wolverine I'm looking at you!) means that it's easier to work through my comic stack. Who knew?!

World Cup baby. World Cup. Have a great week! Book Slave.


Time Travel & Booster Gold.

Hey folks,
A short return to a series I love. I love it so much I've talked about it here and here. Have I mentioned I also love time travel? Oh I do. I do.

Booster Gold Effs Up Everything, Again: Booster Gold Day of Death

I first met Booster Gold in the pages of 52. If you have not read that excellent series then I urge you to do so, especially if you are a DC fan. In 52 Booster emerged as the first character who tried to fill the superhero void when Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman decided to take a break after Infinite Crisis. However it turns out that Booster's major character flaw is that he will do anything for fame and fortune. He is a bit of a douchebag, but he does in the end want to do the right thing. It's just that occasionally he strays. Since the end of 52 Booster's been working with Rip Hunter in his own title Booster Gold. I've loved reading this series in trade paperback, so the moment I saw a copy available I had to snatch it up.

And it didn't disappoint. Time travel is a difficult gambit. It often becomes of question of whether you believe that one can change the future by manipulating a significant event or if you follow a philosophy that some events are just always going to happen. It's complicated. It can hurt your head if you think about it too hard. Booster Gold follows the idea that somethings are just "supposed" to happen, it's been deemed "solidified time." This is illustrated in Booster Gold #5 where Booster cannot stop Barbara Gordon from being shot. He desperately tries again and again but tragically it's just meant to happen.

This precedent regarding the rules of time travel, which was established by Geoff Johns, is key to the story arc in Day of Death. In this arc Booster is sent by Rip Hunter to get some info from the Bat Cave since Bruce Wayne has disappeared. But being Booster Gold, well he screws things up. This is not a spoiler-with Booster it's pretty inevitable. Thank God for Rip Hunter. Of course it is the pairing of these two men that makes this series wonderful. They are polar opposites in a "Odd Couple"-kind've way. It's very entertaining as written by Jurgens in this arc.

Back to time travel, writer Jurgens continues to use these issues to show us DC readers what parts of comic continuity are important. The DC universe needs Dick Grayson and the Teen Titans; Dick Grayson is supposed to become Batman and help Damian; these events are "solidified time." Without this series of events then the DC Universe will be in a bad place. Rip and Booster have to put things right. Will they? C'mon this is a comic book. While the ending was slightly predictable I still enjoyed this series because it doesn't wrap itself in convolution. It's still pretty simple to understand. Even for Booster.

Have a great week! Book Slave.


Round Up! The Unwritten, Irredeemable, and Too Cool to be Forgotten

Hey folks,
It's time for the Graphic Novel Round Up. Been reading a lot of other things, like "fiction" and "non-fiction", but I enjoy reuniting with a constant companion.

Enjoy meta-commentary + literary satire? Then The Unwritten is for you.
The Unwritten follows Tom Taylor, the orphaned only son of a famous children's author. It is presumed that Tommy was the basis for his father Harry Potter-like children's classic. Having failed miserably in the real world, Tommy now lives off his father's legacy at depressing fanboy conventions. Then his parentage is questioned, and Tommy is threatened by a manifestation of his literary archenemisis. This story is wonderfully meta as the writers and artists explore literary culture while also skewering it. Unfortunately it was Issue #5 of the first trade where the action took over the story. It's too bad that the author's step away from what made this story unique and turned to slasher/horror plot conventions.

Want to know what it would be like if Super-man snapped? Then Irredeemable is for you.
I've discussed Irredeemable before, but I did pick up the second trade of this wonderfully evil series. Comic writer Mark Waid goes dark and twisty as he explores what would happen if a super-man like character decides to become the bad guy. After killing 2 billion people he goes after his fellow superhero teammates, who are desperately scrambling to figure out what went wrong. This series is so wonderfully well-written and horrifyingly evil. Waid doesn't hold back, but rather than say Warren Ellis, we can see the psychology behind the Plutonium's change. He doesn't just try to shock you. Continuing in vol. 2 Waid continues to explore the metamorphosis that led a man to become what he abhored.

Like time travel, Back to the Future, 17 Again-like realizations about your teenage years? Then Too Cool To Be Forgotten is for you.
This stories premise is in no way original. In fact we've seen it multiple times ever since the idea of time travel was born. If you could go back in time, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently? Everything? Nothing? And is the past only nostalgic in retrospect? Robinson asks all these questions as Andy Wicks, a middle-aged family man, goes to a hypnosis clinic to break a 25-year smoking habit. He ends up traveling back 25 years, inhabiting his high school body but maintaining 25 years of experience. Gradually throughout his journey in the past he at first focuses on the superficial (asking out his highschool dream girl) but ends up finding an emotional regret that he had buried deep. Robinson does an amazing job of mixing humor with real emotional weight. His cartoon-like style belies a mastery of graphic storytelling. He uses intricate lettering and paneling design to visually cue the reader into what the characters are feeling emotionally. It is just as striking when he abandons the panel altogether, creating a visually arresting story.

Have a Great weekend! Book Slave.


Bounce, Bounce, Bounce.

Hey folks,
I hope you are all having a great week. Either by happenstance or fate Thursday has become "Bounce" Day for me. What do I mean? Well first of all a confession: I am a book hoarder. It's true. I tend to let books stack up and create massive TBR piles. This was a big problem when I worked in the book selling biz because I spent a billion dollars on books then I let them sit for longer then 5 years untouched. It's ridiculous.

Becoming financially destitute put an end to that problem. However in many ways I transferred it over to the library. Working at a library has very few privileges. Considering that I have homeless folk curse my name and then beg for computer time to play Farmville, well you gotta enjoy the small things. One of those things is the ability to check out materials. But then again those can also stack up in destructive ways.

Now I've worked very hard in the last 6 mos. to whack my check out count to a reasonable level. But it's still hard to let things go. So on Thursdays I've sat down and looked thru my library stack, figured out what I've had the longest and then I read a chapter. If it doesn't capture me, then it's time for it to go back. If I find myself caught up in the story then I'll keep reading the book, and end up finishing it. And then it can go back. Now this does take away from my normal reading schedule but I've found it to be invaluable. Too many book stacks and I really will end up seeming like the crazy hermit that I already am.

Will I ever have the self-control to keep the book stacks at a reasonable level? Hard to say, I guess we'll just see. So enjoy! Book Slave.


Reading List 6/8/2010-6/15/2010

Hey folks,
So I'm not dead. Or in a coma. Just needed a month or so to refuel my juices and get some stuff out of the way. I'll be back to a regular posting schedule I assure you. Bringing it all back, you'll see.

We'll start off this Tues. Old School Style.

The Reading List
Irredeemable vol. 2 American Gods (a bit behind of the 1b1t reading schedule)

Time to catch up on some old comics man so Rebels #10, Adventure Comics #3 & #4, Superman WONK #9, Spider-Woman #2 & #3.

World Cup! Go Spain! Yeah. Have a great week! Book Slave.