Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Cool Reading For a Hot Summer

Well the dog days of summer are here, and there's no better time to relax on the beach, or sit under a shady tree, or just curl up inside under the ice cold AC and catch up on your reading. Here are some suggestions to make your Summer Reading most enjoyable...From the good folks at Penultimate Press comes the latest tome from prolific author Fabian Frobias entitled The Cutting Remark, taking up where he left off with running character Jack Barker. This story covers the next phase of Barker's many adventures, this time around as a barber in Baltimore in the early part of the 20th century. Taking up where we left him in the last volume, Body of Work, as a mortician's apprentice helping to embalm the late President Mckinley, the young protagonist has a nervous breakdown, and fleeing the mortuary with the possesed heart of Edgar Allan Poe in a jar, heads to Atlanta to make his fortune as a barber. Before long he meets Celia Freud, neice to the visiting Dr. Sigmund Freud , and falls madly in love with her. But alas, this was not to be; Celia is murdered before their love is consumated by a madly jealous Englishman, who may or may not have been Jack the Ripper. Wracked with grief, young Barker flees to Europe hoping to trim the Crowned Heads,only to find himself desperately broke and shaving bums in a poorhouse in Vienna. In a deliciously brilliant chapter Barker meets a sensitive young artist whom he persuades to be the subject of his tonsorial experiments, inducing him into letting Barker cut his strong Bavarian style moustache into a toothbrush patch. "Ja, this is gut!" exclaims the young man , who advises Barker to remember his name-Adolf Hitler! WWI beaks out, and unable to join the fight or maintain steady employment, Barker hops a steamer back to the U.S. via England. While on board he gives the toothbrush trim to the moustache of an aspiring young English comedian that he befriends named Charlie, who , amused by the strange waddling walk that Jack, who had contracted ricketts, had, asked if he could use the mannerism in his comedy. Once back in the States Jack Barker learns that he has the share of a fortune from distant uncle J.P. Morgan, and gambling it all in the stock market, becomes a very wealthy man. Shortly therafter the market crashes and the Great Depression is underway. A ruined man , Jack ponders suicide until the possessed heart of Edgar Allan Poe , that he has kept so long in its jar, convinces him to take another path, undoubtedly the next volume to come. Frobias hints at what is to come, and we won't spoil the fun, but it seems to involve FDR and a magical leg salve. A witty and romantic romp, you will marvel as history comes alive in an entertaining way...Our next selection Drexy Dunlop and the Witch's Titty, is a fantasy story for children of all ages. Accused by some of cashing in on the Harry Potter phenom, author Winna Stonecroft Wilson , nonetheless weaves a magical tale that is sure to entertain and empower its readers by following the quest of young witch-in-waiting Drexy Dunlop. The beautiful edition put out by Schoolmarm Press boasts many colorful paintings that will thrill even those who can't abide the printed page. The tale tells of Drexy's flight from her puritanical parents who are hardcore members of a Christian cult called Yahweh's Avengers, and her ascent into the wondrous world of pagan pageantry via the guidance of Mother Buttwart, a hideous but lovable crone who is the headmistress of the Sweet Satan School For Girls. With friends she meets along the way Oliah Oldfat and Butter Kumquat, it's up to Drexy to find the titular Witch's Titty ("Titty" being old English for "purse" in case your parental spidey sense is tingling) to save the school from wandering evil evangelist Toobigga Fourbrecches. It's all good clean fun and we can see the beginnings of a great franchise for those muggles who have been going through Harry withdrawal. Here's hoping that the "familiar" toad character, Turdy Hoptaker , gets his own spin-off at some point! Our last recommendation is from a genre that is finally getting the respect it deserves:the graphic novel. Eat...Poop...Eat Again is the latest effort of veteran graphic novelist Erwin Skyler, who has perfected the art of the mundane becoming revelation in his comic career. Stricty autobiographical, Skyler uses his bout with chronic constipation as a framing device to ruminate on stories of his childhood behind the Iron Curtain in Warsaw, his failed relationships with all the women in his life, from his superstious Polish Grandmother to his eleven year marriage to fellow cartoonist Greta Cobbel. As he strains to make poop he also strains to come to terms with his feelings of alienation as a liberal Democrat in conservative Texas,ans as a deadbeat dad to a 9 year old boy he thinks is possesed by the spirit of Richard Nixon. The spare black and white pen and ink work is powerful and expressionistic , and lest the subject matter makes you fear being overcome with despair, just remember that Eat...Poop...Eat Again is sidesplittingly funny; another instant classic from Bad Karma Press...Well there you have it, hours of engrossing reading awaits you so, pack up your beach gear and folding chair and enjoy!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mr. O'Khan, even your LABELS line is delightfully chuckle-iscious.