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Tony's Online Tips
Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
"America's Most Beloved Comic-Book Writer & Columnist"

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TONY'S ONLINE TIPS
for Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A Killing In Comics

A Killing In Comics, a new novel by Max Allan Collins, should be in bookstores even as we speak. I reviewed this way cool mystery for Comics Buyer's Guide #1631, but, since the issue won't be out for a week or so, I wanted to give you this heads-up. Here's a taste of my review:

It was comics publisher Donny Harrison's birthday party and, for the occasion, he had squeezed his plump form into a Wonder Guy costume. Then he keeled over and onto a knife, dying in front of his wife, his friends, his business associates, his mistress, and the creators of Wonder Guy. That's the "Oh, wow!" opening chapter of A KILLING IN COMICS by Max Allan Collins with illustrations by Terry Beatty [Berkley; $14.00].

In case you need further coaxing, the novel earned five out of five Tonys. Get thee to a bookseller stat!

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony

******

STOP FORGETTING TO REMEMBER Guest review by Barry Keller

Stop Forgetting

The title alone should tell you that there is something fishy about Stop Forgetting to Remember: The Autobiography of Walter Kurtz [Crown; $19.95] by Peter Kuper. Shouldn't Walter Kurtz be writing the autobiography of Walter Kurtz? Well, in a way he is. As Peter Kuper says on the book flap, "I could never delve as deep and reveal as many embarrassing details as he has bravely (?) done in this book." Well, yeah, I can see that. There is a lot in this book attributed to the life of Kurtz that I wouldn't want to cop to either, so MAD contributor Peter Kuper invented Kurtz to take the heat in his stead.

This is a beautifully produced book told in short vignettes of Kuper's, uh, I mean, Kurtz's life. Spanning 35 years, they cover everything from his awakening sexual desires through his teenage, college and adult drug usage, his friends, his girlfriends, his boyfriend, his wife and marriage, the birth of his daughter, his art career, his horror at the election and re-election of George Bush and the ultimate horror of September 11th.

Kuper incorporates work from his own commercial career, such as "Richie Bush, The Poor Little Origarch" and his "Spy vs. Spy" work for Mad (called "Ebony vs. Ivory" here) to fill out the resume of Walter Kurtz. Employing a three-color printing process Kuper easily moves you from his main story to the world of fantasy, flashback and drug-induced delusion. It works surprisingly well allowing for moments of digression and exposition in the middle of running narrative.

I found the book to be a pure joy. I laughed a lot, cringed quite a bit and almost teared up a couple of times. It's an adult book with adult subject matter, but it doesn't take itself too seriously and strikes a wonderful tone. Mostly it's silly self-parody, but at other times there is striking poignancy. His title page for September 11, 2001 is genius in its simplistic depiction of a world turning upside down.

Kurtz is embarrassed by much of his life, but aren't we all? I read in the Los Angeles Times today that once a month a bar in Brooklyn holds an event called "Cringe Night" at which anyone can go up on stage and read what they wrote when they were teenagers. Poems, letters, journals, diary entries, it doesn't matter. They say the experience is cathartic for both the listeners in the audience and the reader on stage, as they laugh at the thoughts that once dominated their life. Stop Forgetting to Remember struck me like that. "What a doofus this Kurtz/Kuper guy is" I thought as I read, but the truth was a little different. I recognized myself on almost every page of this book and when I laughed at Walter Kurtz, I was laughing at myself as well. Not a bad way to spend $20.

******

ADDENDUM

Thanks to Barry Keller for the above review. You can read my review of Stop Forgetting to Remember in CBG #1631, coming your way later this month.

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me and my friend Barry. I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 05/07/2007 | 05/08/2007 | 05/09/2007 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Message Board. Also, read Heroes and Villains: Real and Imagined and view my Amazon Wish List.

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THE "TONY" SCALE

Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

Tony
ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TonyTony
TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

TonyTonyTony
THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

TonyTonyTonyTony
FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

TonyTonyTonyTonyTony
FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.



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