Ghost Stories - Cover

Ghost Stories Of An Antiquary – Volume II

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary – Volume II is an upcoming graphic novel. An Adaptation of four of M.R. James’ supernatural tales of terror. By the way of Leah Moore and John Reppion, under Self Made Hero in fact but published by Abrams Books. M.R. James has been cited as being an influence on the works of both H.P. Lovecraft as well as Stephen King.

Ghost Stories - M.R. James

The esteemed M.R. James – medievalist scholar as well as writer of ghost stories!

With it being October of course, what better way to celebrate the season than with some of James’ stories? Because with the second volume of Ghost Stories of an An Antiquary you get a nice selection from the author’s work.

With Number 13, illustrated by George Kambadais. We are introduced to a young man named Mr. Anderson. Who has arrived at the Golden Lion inn in Viborg, Denmark. A researcher who certainly uncovers something startling. Whilst checking on his fellow lodgers he discovers there is no room numbered 13 listed in the available rooms. Except if that is the case…why does Mr. Anderson pass a room marked 13? As well as the mystery of the singing and laughing from behind a door to a room that isn’t supposed to exist?

Next up in Ghost Stories of an Antiquary – Volume II is Count Magnus! Illustrated by Abigail Larson it is the tale of one Mister Wraxall. A travel guide writer. Mr. Wraxall is visiting Sweden for research on an upcoming book. However the man instead learns of the bloody handed legacy of the titular Count Magnus. A fearsome man who it was rumored was to be on a ‘Black Pilgrimage’. In addition to causing enough fear to warrant three large padlocks on his place of rest. What might happen if those padlocks were to be opened?

Ghost Stories - Count Magnus

Some doors are not meant to be open!

Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad is the third entry. In addition this is a story by M.R. James that I know well thanks to a television adaptation. This story which is illustrated by Al Davison concerns Professor Parkins, who is on holiday. While the Professor might intend to spend time playing rounds of golf, he uncovers an odd item located in a burial site. What was once a Templar preceptory hides a whistle. Being an educated man and scorning of what some might deem superstitious. Parkins blows the whistles. Twice. Being a ghost story it shouldn’t surprise you that something answers the call, right?

Ghost Stories - Oh Whistle

Professor Parkins is going to learn to keep an open mind!

The last story presented in Ghost Stories of an Antiquary – Volume II is The Treasure of Abbot Thomas. Illustrated by Meghan Hetrick. In this tale we meet Antiquarian, Mr. Somerton, who follows the trail of a coded message. Which in fact is hidden within a stained glass window in the Abbey of Steinfeld in Germany. Furthermore the reason for this coded message is it is said to lead to a hidden treasure. Somerton and his trusted servant, Mr. Brown – are able to decipher the clues which lead to an abandoned well that once belonged to Abbot Thomas. A well that curiously indeed contains steps that lead down into the darkness…as well as a guardian.

It is the fourth tale that is very much like the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, friends. It is probably my favorite of them all. But each one does represent a wonderful type of ghost story by the way. If you find you need a little something to help you get into the spirit of the season. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary – Volume II comes out this Tuesday. Or instead you can order a copy for yourself by following the link to Abrams books.

Now that you now what to expect from Ghost Stories of an Antiquary. Why not watch the 1968 television adaptation for Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad?

[Via] Montague James

Did I Do That? The Best (And Worst) Of The ’90s: Book Review

Did I Do That - Abrams Books
Thanks to our friends over at Abrams Books I’ve had the pleasure of reading Amber Humphrey’s upcoming book Did I Do That? The Best (And Worst) Of The ’90s. As you can guess from the title the Author takes a humorous look book at the kid culture of the 90s, covering the then hot toys and movies and clothing fashions…and the not so desirable trends from that decade (Like the Talking Kevin Doll from Home Alone. Yikes!).

The 208 page book is filled with 200 color photographs of everything from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the Power Rangers, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System as well as the Sega Genesis, New Kids on the Block and Green Day, ABC’s TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Funny) and Jurassic Park and many, many more.

Amber provides a top 40 of pop culture, often injecting her personal anecdotes on the subject matter, small spoiler, but she relates her own sad experience with her Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles collection at the day care she attended at the beginning of that chapter…after reading the chapter I wanted to send her some of my own Turtles collection to hopefully make her feel better!

As is often with a book of this type the true joy is turning a page and feeling a big grin cross your face when you look at a picture of something that had somehow gotten lost in the clutter of your memory. For example I had completely forgotten that a line of 80 “LAFFS” TV trading cards had been released featuring the likes of ABC Sitcoms Perfect Strangers, Full House, and Family Matters.

Also included with the book is a T-Shirt Transfer DIY style of Family Matters’ “Urkel”. To finish about how great the book is the Author also has a chapter on Pogs…and I don’t care what anyone says…there is nothing wrong with selling your soul for ALF Pogs. Nothing.

Did I Do That? The Best (And Worst)Of The ’90s by Amber Humphrey will be released to a bookstore near you on March 12, 2013. It will retail for $19.95 and you can pre order the book by following the Abrams link provided up top or heading over to Amazon. It’s worth your time and purchase and I’m willing to bet you’ll find yourself smiling as much as I did while reading it.

The Great American Cereal Book: How Breakfast Got Its Crunch

I certainly love movies. I really like Video Games. I’m a fiend when it comes to Beef Jerky, but I also have an unnatural and possibly unhealthy appetite for breakfast cereal. So when our friends over at Abrams Image sent me a copy of the Great American Cereal Book to review, I grabbed one of my six remaining boxes of Boo Berry cereal and sat myself down for a morning’s worth of proper reading!


[Via] Abrams Image

The two authors of this fine tome, Marty Gitlin and Topher Ellis, are worthy chroniclers for my favorite breakfast food. In 368 pages they delve into the history of cereal from 1863 to 2010, with 350 color illustrations of box art and advertisements. Along the way they tackle the history of Cap’N Crunch as well as the Trix Rabbit plus they kindly include a few of the toys that we use to covet in our youths.

For example, do you remember when you could cut out records on the back of Sugar Crisp cereal boxes and listen to the likes of the Archies or Bobby Sherman?!

One of my favorite photos that Marty and Topher have included just so happens to be on page 130 and showcases the Super Sugar Crisps box advertising those fantastic Universal Monsters posters I’ve talked about once or twice on this site.

With each cereal entry they break it down by who released the cereal, when it was released and date that it ceased being produced, the main ingredients, the lineage of the cereal (What it might have been called before), varieties of the cereal, the cereals that might be “related”, spokescharacters, slogans, and facts on the cereal.

One of the greatest joys I’ve experienced reading the book was recalling cereals from my youth that I had for some reason completely forgotten about or in a lot of cases the cereals that I was too young to enjoy before they were pulled from the shelfs, like Wackies Cereal!

The Great American Cereal Book will hit store shelves in February and will retail for $19.95 and I hope you’ll make sure to pick up a copy because it’s an incredibly fun read and stroll through memory lane. Just make sure to have a bowl of cereal at hand, you’ll certainly get hungry while reading it!

The Great American Cereal Book: How Breakfast Got Its Crunch [via] Amazon

The World Of Smurfs: A Celebration of Tiny Blue Proportions By Matt. Murray

Thanks to our friends over at ABRAMS books for sending a review copy of their upcoming new book The World of Smurfs: A Celebration of Tiny Blue Proportions! Which so happens to be excellently written by Matt. Murray, the world’s only known Smurfologist!

Murray was President and First Executive director of New York’s Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, working on an exhibit entitled “Saturday Morning”, which examined not only the art but political, and social aspects of the shows in the exhibit. While setting up the show he came to the realization what some of us writers and readers of the Retroist already know…once a Smurf fan…always a Smurf fan. But Murray took it on himself to try and figure out what made the Smurfs so popular across the world.

Murray warmly relates his own personal experiences with the Smurfs in the Introduction, such as his maternal Grandmother watching the show so that not only would the two of them have something to discuss during their talks over the telephone but that she might be able to understand what words he was ‘Smurfing’.

Murray goes into detail of famed Smurf creator Pierre Culliford or as he was more commonly known throughout the word, Peyo. Murray takes time to educate the reader on Peyo’s childhood and early adult life, when the artist was desperately seeking to sell his cartoon strips to magazines. At this time in his life some other famous creations of Peyo like Johan and Pirlouit (Johan and Peewit as we know them in the United States) came into existence.

Which would lead to the creation of the Les Schtroumpfs or as they would later be known in America, the Smurfs!

The World of Smurfs book of course chronicles the global popularity of not only Peyo but his family as well as obviously that of his blue elflike wonders…that were only 3 apples high. One of the features in the book that I cannot heap enough praise on is the reproductions of animation cells, movie posters, the Smurf Village poster and original Les Schtroumpfs ephemera. For the most part you can take these items out of the book…including a sheet of Smurf stickers…that I’m having to resist applying to my laptop as I type this!

Murray also dives into the Red scare that I vaguely recall in my youth, yep, some people complained that the Smurfs were secretly sowing the seeds of Socialist behavior in the animated series. How Smurfing sad.

Of course Murray goes in depth with the upcoming Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation big budget Smurfs film starring Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, and Hank Azaria. There is some really neat looking production art for the Smurf village that will be seen in the movie, I particularly loved the Smurf blacksmith shop design.

In closing, do I think you should pick up this book when it hits store shelves in August? Absolutely! If you still smile at the thought of playing with a handful of those wonderful blue PVC Smurf figures you will not only find all the history of the Smurfs fascinating but I bet you’ll want to share the book with your family and friends.

The World of Smurfs: A Celebration of Tiny Blue Proportions is U.S.$24.95/Can. $27.95