Mike's Bookshelf

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  • The Art of Ready Player One by Gina McIntyre Book Review

    The Art of Ready Player One by Gina McIntyre

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    In arguably Director Steven Spielberg’s most visually dazzling and technologically challenging film to date, Ready Player One invites viewers to a cautionary tale where reality and the limitless possibilities of its virtual counterpart blur beyond belief.  Embracing a pop culture obsessed way  of life, Ernest Cline’s fanboy-loving novel of which the film is based on could only be realized on the big-screen by one of its crowning inspirers.  Without the requirement of VR goggles, Gina McIntyre’s The Art of Ready Player One sends readers on an in-depth journey through the film’s distinctly unique realization with insight from the many makers and creative heads who helped bring this once-thought unfilmable premise into our world.  Set in Columbus, Ohio of 2045, Spielberg’s 3D feature follows Wade Watts’ (Tye Sheridan, X-Men: Apocalypse) struggles, along with his trusted core friends of competitors, to win the late James Halliday’s contest, granting the victor control of the virtual realm known as the Oasis and the latter’s lucrative company.  While Wade expresses himself differently in the Oasis as the avatar known as Parzival, his real-world life is anything less than stellar.  Residing in the poverty-stricken Stacks, McIntyre’s book showcases the production’s challenges in realizing the RV stacked mobile homes and their eventual explosive destruction.  

    Furthermore, the behind-the-scenes account showcases the film’s juxtaposition between its traditional set-built locations and the digital realm of the Oasis where the actors spent months on end performing on motion-capture stages in order for the digital wizards at Industrial Light and Magic to bring their avatars to life.  Showcasing gorgeous pieces of concept art for the wide army of creatures seen in the film, otherworldly locations such as Planet Doom, the variety of familiar vehicles utilized and the futuristic costume designs donning our characters, The Art of Ready Player One is eye-candy galore.  Taking a particularly hefty and appreciated look into the characters’ exploration of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and the film’s equally intense and action-packed racing sequence, McIntyre’s leap into Spielberg’s latest blockbuster easily stands as one of the best art-of books of the year for a film that will leave viewers scratching their heads and pondering “how did they do that?”.

    Available April 17th from Insight Editions, The Art of Ready Player One can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers. 

  • Mike's Bookshelf Spotlight: Disney's Moana Book Reviews

    With Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 56th feature continuing to make a splash in cinemas, we set sail on a series of Moana based books well worth exploring ahead of its home video release.

    The Story of Moana: A Tale of Courage and Adventure by Kari Sutherland

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Adapting the animated film with equal heart, The Story of Moana: A Tale of Courage and Adventure provides young readers with a wonderfully constructed version of the film and the Pacific Island folktales that inspired it.  Spanning 300 pages and gorgeous cover art, this hardback edition, accompanied with bonus tattoos familiar to those seen on the brave Maui, will make Moana’s adventures a treasured source of reading for those in love with its feature.

    Available now from Disney Press, The Story of Moana: A Tale of Courage and Adventure can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

    Art of Coloring Moana: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Perfect for young artists and artists young at heart, Art of Coloring Moana: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity is tailor-made with art of your favorite characters from the film, tribal patterns, tattoo designs and other beautiful imagery based on the Pacific Island setting awaiting their black-and-white pages to be brought to life.  Both for fun and relaxation, countless pages of creativity awaits those hungry to add their personal touch of color to them.

    Available now from Disney Editions, Art of Coloring Moana: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

    Read-Along Storybook and CD: Moana by Bill Scollon

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Condensing the film version for ages 3-6, this charming storybook interpretation of Moana recalls the spirited teenager who along with demigod Maui dares to trek the ocean to restore the heart of Te Fiti.  Joined by a CD counterpart narrated by Rena Owen and featuring thrilling sound effects, this perfect nighttime read and its lovely illustrations will easily capture the imaginations of young dreamers.

    Available now from Disney Press, Read-Along Storybook and CD: Moana can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

    Moana and the Ocean by Heather Knowles

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Told from the perspective of the sea who has watched over the titular character since birth, Moana and the Ocean is a lovely picture book that celebrates Moana’s enduring spirit and courageousness.  Featuring gorgeous illustrations by Annette Marnat, this simplistic storybook, although brief on text, is an essential addition for its inspiring artwork alone that seamlessly captures the color palettes of the film’s picturesque environment.

    Available now from Disney Press, Moana and the Ocean can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Josh Kushins Book Review

    The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Josh Kushins

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Dominating the worldwide box-office, the first sensational spinoff to George Lucas’s original films chronicles its full artistic splendor in Josh Kushins’ The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  Featuring forewords by the film’s Co-Production Designers Doug Chiag & Neil Lamont and Director Gareth Edwards, this visually arresting volume celebrates many of the six thousand pieces of concept art, both unused and brought to life on the big-screen, developed for the prequel, spotlighting the production’s blue sky explorations for its many environments, droid and ship designs, costume choices and weaponry.  Committed to recapturing the lived-in appearance of A New Hope brilliantly realized by legendary concept artist Ralph McQuarrie while injecting a flavor all its own, the inspirational art found within its 200+ pages is nothing short of astonishing and beautifully captures the collaborative efforts of Lucasfilm’s arsenal of artists.  Appreciating the ever-changing development of character appearances and climactic sequences, the richness found in matte paintings, concept boards and digital mockups will surely inspire a new generation of artists while, longtime Force wielders will find themselves further entranced by the stunning artistry brought forth in Edwards’ rebellious adventure that set the events of the beloved 1977 feature into motion.

    Available now from Abrams, The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story can be purchased via AbramsBooks.com, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • Star Wars ABC-3PO: Galactic Basic Edition by Calliope Glass & Caitlin Kennedy Book Review

    Star Wars ABC-3PO: Galactic Basic Edition by Calliope Glass & Caitlin Kennedy

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Perfect for young Padawans, Star Wars ABC-3PO: Galactic Basic Edition guides readers through their alphabets in this delightfully charming storybook, fluent in the ways of the Force.  Containing adorable pre-school centered illustrations by the talented Katie Cook (My Little Pony), each page featuring Star Wars’ beloved characters from Ackbar and Boba Fett to Yoda and Zeb of Star Wars Rebels contains clever rhymes that will make new readers giggle along as they become acquainted with the many allies and foes from a galaxy far, far away.  A colorful resource for younger tikes taking their first steps into reading, Star Wars ABC-3PO: Galactic Basic Edition will make the adventure fun and educational while, Cook’s vibrant interpretations of fan-favorite characters serve as the perfect eye candy in this sure to be enjoyed A-B-C crash course.

    Available now from Disney/Lucasfilm PressStar Wars ABC-3PO: Galactic Basic Edition can be purchased via Amazon.comBarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • Star Wars Galaxy: The Original Topps Trading Card Series by Gary Gerani Book Review

    Star Wars Galaxy: The Original Topps Trading Card Series by Gary Gerani

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Compiling all 200 collectible cards from its wildly successful collection, Star Wars Galaxy: The Original Topps Trading Card Series celebrates the iconic imagery of such famed artists as Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Mike Mingnola, Boris Vallejo, Joseph Smith and many others as their unique styles realize the world of George Lucas’ iconic saga.  Introduced by and providing running commentary from the series’ original editor, Gary Gerani takes readers back to the early 90s where renewed interest in trading cards ignited the opportunity to join forces with Lucasfilm to commemorate Star Wars’ fifteenth anniversary.  While Gerani had previously lent his expertise to past card series based on the sci-fi franchise, the desire to do something far more ambitious warranted additional time, missing the intended anniversary plans in the process, for a project that proved more than worthy of its wait.

    Spanning three series from 1993 to 1995, Star Wars Galaxy: The Original Topps Trading Card Series beautifully reproduces the imaginative artwork of all its creators on glossy stock with a shimmering dust jacket highlighting Joseph Smith’s incredible portrait of Jedi Master Yoda.  Serving as a bonafide walk down memory lane for fans who grew up actively collecting the series, Abrams ComicArts’ latest volume is another standout effort that allows all generations of Star Wars fans to own and appreciate another niche outlet of the films’ enduring fandom.  Accompanied by a heartwarming afterword by famed movie poster artist Drew Struzan and a pack of four bonus cards, Star Wars Galaxy: The Original Topps Trading Card Series is a visual delight that sends readers into light speed exploring the richly designed and boundless layers of the Star Wars universe.

    Available now from Abrams ComicArts, Star Wars Galaxy: The Original Topps Trading Card Series can be purchased via AbramsBooks.com, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • The Art of Krampus by Michael Mallory Book Review

    The Art of Krampus by Michael Mallory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Inspired by the genre blending fantasies of Amblin Entertainment, Michael Mallory’s The Art of Krampus sends readers down the developmental chimney of this year’s hilariously terrifying Christmas-themed opus.  From the macabre imagination of Michael Dougherty (Trick ‘r Treat), Krampus centers on a midwestern family overwhelmed with the holiday season and the arrival of their tedious visiting family members.  When young Max (Emjay Anthony, Chef) loses his faith in the Christmas spirit, the shadowy demon Krampus, joined by his evil minions, crashes his household to unleash their own frightening season’s greetings.  Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation), Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine), David Koechner (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy), Allison Tolman (Fargo) and Conchata Ferrell (Edward Scissorhands) comprise the ensemble cast.  

    An admitted throwback to the 80s efforts Dougherty was raised on, The Art of Krampus explores the early mythological origins of its titular character to the popular modern greeting cards bearing his likeness that sparked the film’s inspiration.  Successfully bringing his love for the Halloween season to fruition, Dougherty and his team vowed to conjure the dark fairy tale aspects of Christmas for a unique experience.  Unlike most live-action films, extensive pre-visualization and storyboards were conducted to firmly establish the film’s tone ahead of filming.  Beautiful concept paintings, character sketches and detailed costume depictions are showcased alongside insight into the film’s uses of puppetry, CG animation and practical makeup effects accomplished by New Zealand’s Weta Workshop (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong).  With a foreword by Dougherty, The Art of Krampus is the perfect combination of textual substance and behind-the-scenes visual exploration, leaving fans (naughty and nice alike) with an exceptional post-holiday treat into the film’s making.

    Available now from Insight Editions, The Art of Krampus can be purchased via InsightEditions.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Trick 'r Treat: Days of the Dead by Michael Dougherty, Todd Casey, Zach Shields & Marc Andreyko Book Review

    Trick ‘r Treat: Days of the Dead by Michael Dougherty, Todd Casey, Zach Shields & Marc Andreyko

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    From its devastating direct to video release to its rise as a bonafide cult classic that continues to increase with the passing of each Halloween season, Michael Dougherty’s (X-Men 2, Krampus) Trick ‘r Treat has quickly become a staple of the spookiest time of year.  Joined by Todd Casey, Zach Shields and Marc Andreyko, Dougherty weaves another terrifying anthology across four tales of Halloween based madness.  Illustrated by the talented team of Fiona Staples, Stephen Byrne, Stuart Sayger and Zid, Trick ‘r Treat: Days of the Dead finds Sam, the costumed puppet master of the original film, appearing through various interconnected vignettes where witchcraft, spirits and monsters are central.  Set in 16th century Ireland, Seed finds a series of massive witch hunts taking place when a God-fearing man is bewitched by a misunderstood sorceress leading to a forbidden romance.  Meanwhile, wild west horrors occur in Corn Maiden when young Sarah’s loneliness is healed by an accepting Native American tribe.  Corrupted by her father’s railroad expanding desires, a tragic act clouds the frontier land as Native American spirits take revenge in the comic’s standout story.  Moving forward in time to 1950s Los Angeles, Echoes is a haunting noir focused on a hard-drinking P.I. tasked with finding a missing dame.  Forced to confront his own dark past, Jake Perkins discovers a link between Hollywood hotshots and devil-worshippers during the longest Halloween night of his life.  Finally, the modern day Monster Mash is an exciting tale of two best friends who dare to live dangerously with a frightening pack of monsters.  Embracing their wicked side, Monster Mash is a charming coming of age story about friendship and relishing one last Halloween.  Joined by a reoccurring segment of an elderly man telling his granddaughter the Halloween set stories, Trick ‘r Treat: Days of the Dead is a frighteningly fun read that captures the tone of Dougherty’s original masterpiece.  With anticipation building for a cinematic sequel, Trick ‘r Treat: Days of the Dead arrives just in time for Halloween, offering an endless supply of treats for fans desiring more supernatural shenanigans from Sam.

    Available now from Legendary Comics, Trick ‘r Treat: Days of the Dead can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History by Michael Klastorin with Randal Atamaniuk Book Review

    Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History by Michael Klastorin with Randal Atamaniuk

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Serving as production publicist on its sequels, Michael Klastorin, along with noted Back to the Future expert Randal Atamaniuk, launch readers on an explosive journey into the past chronicling the history and enduring legacy of the Back to the Future franchise.  Dating back to Director Robert Zemeckis and Co-Writer Bob Gale’s days at USC to their earliest developments of the time-traveling tale, Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History is an unprecedented retelling of the trilogies making, told from the creative talent who were there.  Featuring countless never-before-seen stills as well as concept art, storyboards and additional removable treats, Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History gives fans a comprehensive look into the series like never before.  

    Granted full access to decades old material, Klastorin and Atamaniuk’s passionate love letter to one of the greatest film franchises of all time is an expertly detailed and consistently intriguing chronicle.  From an acorn of an idea through its countless drafts, Back to the Future was unbelievably rejected by every studio before Steven Spielberg’s belief in the concept and Director Robert Zemeckis’ box-office success with Romancing the Stone changed the winds of destiny.  Established at Universal Studios, Klastorin and Atamaniuk guides readers through the weekly production schedules that involved shooting on the Universal backlot, crafting visionary special effects and filming with another actor in the lead role of Marty McFly for several weeks before making way for the original choice of Michael J. Fox.  Complimented by phenomenal production stills and remarkable conceptual drawings, interviews with Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, Steven Spielberg and many others paint a clearly defined picture of the difficult but incredibly rewarding experience.  Furthermore, Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History details the lengthy production schedules of shooting both sequels back to back as the makers juggled bringing the story into the then long-distant future of 2015 before sending Doc and Marty in time to the Wild West.  In addition, the fascinating but rarely told history of Back to the Future: The Ride at Universal Studios’ theme parks and the short-lived Saturday morning cartoon are also recounted in this definitive document of all things Back to the Future.

    Celebrating the original film’s 30th anniversary, Michael Klastorin and Randal Atamaniuk’s Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History is the perfect literary companion to the beloved time-traveling trilogy that altered cinema.  Definitive and excellently researched, Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History provides readers with overwhelming insight and extensive imagery into the franchise that demands a spot on all fans’ bookshelves.

    Available October 20th from Harper Design, Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers. 

  • Disney Movie Posters: From Steamboat Willie to Inside Out by Kevin Luperchio and All Aboard: The Wonderful World of Disney Trains by Dana Amendola Book Reviews

    Disney Movie Posters: From Steamboat Willie to Inside Out by Kevin Luperchio

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Highlighting the lush history of Disney’s most memorable promotional materials, Kevin Luperchio’s Disney Movie Posters: From Steamboat Willie to Inside Out provides readers with a look back at the art and advances made in the crafting of Disney’s infamous posters.  Collecting over 135 posters from Disney’s earliest short subjects including the Alice Comedies, Steamboat Willie and the groundbreaking Silly Symphonies to golden age milestones like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio and Dumbo, domestic, international and various rerelease posters are on full display over lavish spreads.  Also documenting live-action highlights from the productions of Treasure Island and Mary Poppins to more recent fare like Hocus Pocus, Pearl Harbor and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Disney’s successful collaborations with Pixar from their classic debut Toy Story to the recently released Inside Out are also included.  While Luperchio’s effort can hardly be considered definitive, Disney Movie Posters: From Steamboat Willie to Inside Out gives art lovers a sizable introduction to some of Disney’s most beloved images of the last 90 years for fans to appreciate on a large canvas.

    Available now from Disney Editions, Disney Movie Posters: From Steamboat Willie to Inside Out can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

    All Aboard: The Wonderful World of Disney Trains by Dana Amendola

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    From his early beginnings in Marceline, Missouri, Walt Disney’s passion and enthusiasm for train culture has been well documented.  Serving as a news butcher on the Missouri Pacific at an impressionable age, Disney’s love affair with all things locomotive would remain an enduring part of his legacy in the formation of his famed studio and enchanting theme parks around the world.  Sharing a personal appreciation for steamers, Dana Amendola’s All Aboard: The Wonderful World of Disney Trains guides readers through a tour of their important place in Disney’s history beginning with Walt’s earliest fascinations, Mickey Mouse’s inspired creation aboard The Chief and the well-researched appearances of trains throughout Disney’s vast film history.  With each section accompanied by “inside track” extended notes and littered with gorgeous still photography, Amendola traces animation legends Ward Kimball and Ollie Johnson’s infatuation with their own backyard railways for reigniting Walt’s love for trains and establishing a close knit bond with their boss over their shared love.  As Disney’s magical flair expanded into the world of theme parks, Amendola covers the unique visual history of the various locomotives circling Disney parks from California to Hong Kong with exquisite concept art on display.  Accompanied with a warm introduction by John Lasseter, All Aboard: The Wonderful World of Disney Trains is a fabulous read for devoted train enthusiasts while, casual fans will be treated to a splendid crash course through the steam powered history that continues to chug along for Disney.

    Available now from Disney Editions, All Aboard: The Wonderful World of Disney Trains can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972 by Mark Voger Book Review

    Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972 by Mark Voger

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Recounting the yesteryears of monster madness, Mark Voger’s Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972 guides readers through the countless magazine publications, late night creature features and endless memorabilia that haunted likeminded baby boomers with an appetite for the spooky.  With interviews from television/movie stars of the era and monster magazine tycoons, Voger’s look back at his frighteningly fun youth comes littered with colorful collage-filled pages of eerie goodness.

    With a foreword by John Zacherle, Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972 takes readers back to the humble beginnings of monsters’ popular hold on prepubescent boys.  From the debut of Shock Theatre and local horror hosts including, Zacherley, hypnotizing young viewers with Universal Studios’ iconic monster films and other B-movie schlockfests, the hunger for more horror-centered content began.  Voger highlights milestone publications including, Famous Monsters of Filmland, Creepy and Eerie as the premiere outlets that captivated young horror fans imaginations while, chart-topping hits including “Monster Mash” by Bobby Pickett further cemented the movement’s increasing popularity.  Sharing the joys of Super 8 reels centered on countless movie monsters, Voger details the popularity and short-lived availability of Topps’ controversial Mars Attacks! trading cards while, discussing the highs and lows of the charmingly chintzy Ben Cooper masks based on famed characters.  While parents often forbade their children to partake in such entertainment, barriers were abolished with the arrival of The Addams Family and The Munsters providing families with hilariously wholesome sitcoms centered on rather eccentric family units.  As Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s Rat Fink dioramas and General Mills’ Count Chocula and Franken Berry cereals entered into the zeitgeist, the monster craze showed little sign of slowing down.  With a considerable portion of the book focused on the enduring popularity of the long-running Dark Shadows series, the show’s eventual cancellation and arrival of game changing features including, The Exorcist spelled certain doom for the more innocent scares of age-old monsters and their cobweb-infested lairs.  

    With his passion apparent in every page, Mark Voger’s recollections of the past nicely scratches the surface of the various layers of creepy entertainment provided during the golden years of monster fandom.  While each section is limited to only several pages each, the lack of more detailed information is substituted with Voger’s personal insight and a plethora of images showcasing the toys, board games, dioramas and magazine art that marveled fans.  Accompanied with countless, if not dated, interviews with Famous Monsters of Filmland’s James Warren and Forrest J. Ackerman, The Addams Family’s John Astin and Lisa Loring, The Munsters’ Al Lewis, Butch Patrick and Pat Priest plus, multiple cast members of Dark Shadows, Voger’s sit-downs deliver entertaining pitstops although rarely providing information unknown to fellow monster kids.  

    Best appreciated as a hauntingly nostalgic walk down memory lane, self-professed monster kid Mark Voger provides an excellent sampling of the multiple facets that defined the monster craze.  With a stunning array of images graced across each page, Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972 may not be the definitive statement on the monster movement of yesterday but, stands as a charming crash course of the thrills and chills that fascinated baby boomers during the aftermath of horror’s golden age.

    Available now from TwoMorrows Publishing, Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972 can be purchased via TwoMorrows.com and Amazon.com.

  • Knight Rider: Volume 1 by Geoffrey Thorne, Jason Johnson, Shannon Eric Denton and Brian Denham Book Review

    Knight Rider, Volume 1 by Geoffrey Thorne, Jason Johnson, Shannon Eric Denton and Brian Denham

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Based on the 80s hit television show starring David Hasselhoff, Knight Rider makes an action-packed return courtesy of IDW Publishing.  Given a modern facelift for a new generation, Knight Rider focuses on secret agent Michael Knight assigned to protect his girlfriend Dr. Katherine Beachum and her top secret Project: Rider.  After a ruthless team of mercenaries interrupt their plans, Michael and a mysterious ally named Bishop, team up to protect Katherine and the highly intelligent Rider vehicle.  Packed with plenty of thrills and horsepower, Knight Rider, Volume 1 collects the first eight issues of the popular comic series.

    Sticking true to its source material, Knight Rider takes the hokey yet, undeniably cool concept and refashions it for a current, more tech-savvy generation that aren’t so fast to question the believability of a talking Trans Am.  Set in the sunny climate of California, secret agent Michael Knight’s date with girlfriend Dr. Katherine Beachum quickly goes from 0 to 60 after a group of shrouded mercenaries intend on abducting Beachum and her highly desired secret project.  Upon realizing that Knight‘s organization has been compromised, he has no one to turn to except Bishop, a mysterious likeminded agent determined to assist him in keeping Katherine and her technology safe.  In addition, Knight forges an unlikely partnership with the doctor’s life work, the intelligent Rider vehicle capable of immeasurable talents, to bring the mercenaries down.  As a nonstop barrage of high-speed chases and shootouts ensue, conspiracies are uncovered and danger looms at every turn.  Spending the bulk of the collection on this exciting precursor tale, Knight Rider supplies readers with an action-packed backstory on Michael Knight before his more familiar vigilante efforts with KITT, the talking Trans Am, take place by its conclusion.  

    Excellently illustrated and maintaining a tight pace, Knight Rider, Volume 1 keeps the fun and flair of its nostalgic television beginnings while, injecting a contemporary tone where face changes and vehicular A.I. feels more fitting and even cooler.  With its pedal to the metal on high-octane action and adventure, Knight Rider, Volume 1 is a fitting modernization that welcomes Michael Knight and KITT back into the fast lane once again.

    Available now from IDW Publishing, Knight Rider, Volume 1 can be purchased via IDWPublishing.com, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • John Hughes: A Life in Film by Kirk Honeycutt Book Review

    John Hughes: A Life in Film by Kirk Honeycutt

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    In the first illustrated celebration of the late icon, John Hughes: A Life in Film traces the early beginnings of Hughes’ career at National Lampoon before taking Hollywood by storm with a string of hits including Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  Featuring new interviews from close friends and frequent collaborators, Author Kirk Honeycutt’s retrospective love letter to the enduring impact of Hughes‘ films is also complimented with rich visuals throughout the auteur’s extensive career.

    Synonymous with capturing the feelings and heartaches of youth like no other, Writer/Director John Hughes defined a generation with his endless streak of comedy hits.  Since his untimely death in 2009, Hughes‘ legacy has only increased with time, influencing audiences and fellow artists alike.  Author Kirk Honeycutt’s John Hughes: A Life in Film guides the reader through Hughes‘ career from his early days in advertising before abandoning ship to write for National Lampoon.  A heavy chain smoker who often worked late through the night, Hughes churned out gold at an alarming pace that  quickly caught the attention of Hollywood.  A devoted husband and father firmly rooted in his midwest surroundings, Honeycutt pulls back the curtain on the generally private family man who just so happened to capture the teenage voice of the 80s.  Detailing his screenwriting efforts on Mr. Mom and National Lampoon’s Vacation before stepping up to the directorial plate, Honeycutt rightfully spends considerable time on the genesis and production of Hughes‘ landmark opuses, Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club.  From the discovery of his muse Molly Ringwald to revealing behind-the-scenes stories, Hughes‘ ear for music and marketing genius is also well documented.  As the young at heart creator’s popularity increased and his empire grew, more hits including Weird Science, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Planes, Trains and Automobiles followed, allowing Honeycutt to detail Hughes’ friendship and working relationship with the late John Candy.  In addition, other Hughes productions including Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful are covered that shed light on the sometimes difficult relationship Hughes shared with fellow collaborators.  

    While Hughes’ career achievements are expertly detailed, Honeycutt tends to jump the gun in several areas to discuss films that will ultimately be covered later in the book.  In addition, Honeycutt spends a mere two pages discussing Hughes‘ rejuvenated interest in the Vacation franchise that gave way to 1989’s Christmas Vacation.  Long considered a holiday classic and arguably the best sequel of the series, Honeycutt unfortunately dismisses the charmer as a “tepid affair”.  Fortunately and appreciatively, the later half of the book spends considerable time exploring films under Hughes’ producing eye including Home Alone, Dennis the Menace and the fascinating nightmare production of Baby’s Day Out.  Furthermore, Director Patrick Read Johnson (Spaced Invaders, Angus) provides insight into the rewarding and tumultuous relationship shared with Hughes that makes for some of the book’s most intriguing stories.  Hughes‘ partnership with Disney birthing the live-action redo of 101 Dalmatians and Flubber is also covered along with unrealized and ahead of their time concepts including The Bee leaving readers curious at what could have been.  

    With a heartfelt forward provided by Director Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire), John Hughes: A Life in Film is an excellent companion piece to Hughes‘ cinematic offerings.  Author Kirk Honeycutt provides ample information on the late icon’s works with countless interviews from Matthew Broderick, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Jeffrey Jones, Steve Martin, Jon Cryer and many more.  While high profile titles like The Breakfast Club are covered at great length, lesser appreciated works like Curly Sue and Hughes‘ many producing credits are thankfully given their time to shine much to the delight of film enthusiasts.  Honeycutt’s insight into Hughes‘ loving family life and tearjerking friendship with John Candy make for some of the book’s more humanizing moments.  Bursting with colorful photographs and fueled with genuine passion for its subject, Author Kirk Honeycutt’s John Hughes: A Life in Film nicely captures the complexities and genius of the eternally youthful Hughes.  

    Available now from Race Point Publishing, John Hughes: A Life in Film can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.