Mike's Bookshelf

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  • The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember by Steven Clark & Rebecca Cline Book Review

    The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember by Steven Clark & Rebecca Cline

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Returning to 1923 and the formation of Walt and Roy’s Disney Brothers Studio, The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember by Steven Clark and Rebecca Cline guides readers through the remarkable history and evolution of the magic factory that has dazzled audiences since opening its gates seventy-five years ago.  After years of hard work and intense struggle, Walt Disney and his talented artists saw the fruits of their labor pay off with the runaway success of their Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies short subjects as well as worldwide acclaim for the first full-length animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  With the heavily employed studio bursting at the seams, relocation was not only necessary but, essential to contain the endlessly imaginative desires of its leader and all future avenues of creative expansion.  Trekking to a vast and desolate lot space in nearby Burbank, California, Disney would realize his spacious vision in 1940 with the completion of his studio plant containing an animation building with individual housing for the invaluable ink and paint, layout and background departments plus, several soundstages, orchestral recording spaces and much more.  Exploring well-documented events in Disney history including, the arrival of World War II and the animation labor strike of 1941, Clark and Cline’s viewpoint of how studio operations were specifically affected with insight from those who were there offers refreshingly new perspective into such gloomier days.  Through the resounding success of Disney’s Cinderella and their commitment to live-action entertainment with such hits as Mary Poppins and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the historic yearbook of sorts provides readers with incredible behind-the-scenes photography of said productions and details the technical dilemmas capturing the underwater sequences of the Verne adaptation and dimensional trickery utilized by the studio to bring 1959’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People to life.

    Appreciatively exploring the much forgotten but no less, important television productions of classic series including, Zorro and Davy Crockett and, their makings on the beloved backlot, The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember never misses a beat in capturing milestone achievements conducted on the tremendous space to introducing unbeknownst readers to lesser known facts such as Disney’s perfective insistence to incorporate original music for the weekly Zorro, a costly and unprecedented measure in 50s TV making.  From Disneyland’s virtual making and building of attractions, riverboats, models and monorails within the confines of its working studio space, vintage photography of Walt seen with newly painted hippos for Adventureland’s Jungle Cruise and overseeing schematics for the Sailing Ship Columbia that would eventually coast the Rivers of America captures the embodiment of the master dreamer in his element.  Leading up to Walt and Roy’s passings and the evolution of the studio through shakier times, the onsite productions of Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Pete’s Dragon and the ahead of its time Tron are given notices before an animation renaissance and new leadership regime would redeem Disney as the world’s leader in family entertainment.  Beautifully showcasing the latest advancements and expansions to the studio through their acquisitions of ABC, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel and Lucasfilm, Clark and Cline’s The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember gives Disney lovers a fascinating guided tour through the rich history of the magical moments and immeasurable productions brought to life on the ever-changing lands that Walt built.

    Available now from Disney Editions, The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • 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.