Toon Time

My neighbor this weekend was having a yard sale, and local comics buffs were snapping up battered but still readable (and possibly Ebay-able) copies of everything from Conan the Barbarian to The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. That brought to mind a few wonderful comics titles that have crossed the desk of late.


Paul Di Filippo -- also known around these parts as The Speculator -- offers a brief review of Françoise Mouly and Art Spiegelman's new collection The TOON Treasury of Classic Children's Comics. It's a smorgasbord of samples from the funny pages of the 1930s through the 60s , including famous strips as Little Lulu, Sugar and Spike, Captain Marvel, Uncle Scrooge and Pogo plus many lesser-known titles, pulled together with "superb taste and expertise."


Equally breathtaking is Masterpiece Comics, R. Sikoyak's overdue compendium of two decades worth of short comics pieces that take great works of literature and recast them in the styles of beloved strips. Dagwood and Blondie in the garden of Eden! "Inferno Joe" -- bubble-gum-wrapper-sized Dante! And "The House of Bronte" -- a full-scale retelling of Wuthering Heights in the manner of the great EC horror books. The matches of style to subject are unexpected, but sublime.


Finally, I'm pretty charmed by a new treat from South African cartoonist Joe Daly, a duplex volume entitled The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book. I won't try to summarize this pair of slackerish, surreal adventures, except to say that they involve microwave weapons, rain sticks, breakfast cereal, hallucinogenic toads, and a wayward capybara.  And are just as entertaining as that list suggests.



April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.