Free Comic Book Day 2010 Roundup

Now in its ninth year, Free Comic Book Day has come and gone. Here’s a guide to what was worth grabbing and what was worth leaving behind, with thanks to Speeding Bullet Comics for the advance copies.

IRON MAN / THOR #1 — Obviously, since this year’s FCBD ties to the theatrical release of IRON MAN 2, Marvel’s capitalizing on that by giving out not one, but two freebies featuring the ol’ tin can. In this one, the moon is being turned into a livable planet by greedy people who, in doing so, upset the orbit, which starts wreaking havoc on Earth’s weather. So Iron Man and Thor team up to tear the crap out of the lunar city. Sounds simple, but with Matt Fraction writing, its scenarios play out smarter than that.

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14 Fun Facts About Nancy Drew

Nancy Drew is 80 years old! To celebrate, Carolyn Keene’s first mystery featuring the young sleuth, THE SECRET OF THE OLD CLOCK, has been reissued by Grosset & Dunlap in a limited anniversary edition. Here, Nancy Drew expert Jennifer Fisher sniffed out 14 fun facts about one of fiction’s most enduring crime solvers.

1. Edward Stratemeyer created Nancy Drew.

2. The first three books in the series — THE SECRET OF THE OLD CLOCK, THE HIDDEN STAIRCASE and THE BUNGALOW MYSTERY — all debuted on April 28, 1930.

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Why do people put their “skeletons in a closet,” “have a hunch,” “get the cold shoulder,” “get dressed up to the nines” or “call a spade a spade”? You can find out in BLACK SHEEP AND LAME DUCKS: THE ORIGINS OF EVEN MORE PHRASES WE USE EVERY DAY, Albert Jack’s latest journey through the curious- and often bizarre-origins of hundreds of their favorite idioms and expressions.

We have three copies to give away, going to:
• Vicki Crothers of Westport, Conn.
• Syndi Keats of Truckee, Calif.
• Kristen Kauffelt of Chattanooga, Tenn.

Buy it at Amazon.

Johnny Porno

Stark House Press has branched out from reissues to put out a brand-new book by Charlie Stella. JOHNNY PORNO is a total throwback to the crime beat of the 1970s, using the idea of the mob’s involvement with the distribution of one of the most notorious porn movies ever made: DEEP THROAT. At the time, it was the center of a major court ruling and embraced as chic by Hollywood.

Stella explains in his introduction the impetus of the novel came to him after watching the documentary INSIDE DEEP THROAT, which delves into all the ins and outs of the film’s production and cultural influence. For his plot, he borrows the fact of how the mob took control of the film and its prints. The main character is John Albano, renamed by one of his contacts as Johnny Porno, since it’s his job to drive all around Long Island, picking up money and counting heads at the showings of the flick.

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Mystery Writers of America Presents Crimes by Moonlight: Mysteries from the Dark Side

I’ve got a problem with the enormously popular paranormal genre: Most of its practitioners have no business writing about ghosts and monsters. They sap such supernatural beings of their power, turning them from something scary into something more on the side of the cute and cuddly. It works for millions of readers — just not for me.

I was reminded of that over and over in MYSTERY WRITERS OF AMERICA PRESENTS CRIMES BY MOONLIGHT: MYSTERIES FROM THE DARK SIDE, an anthology edited by Charlaine Harris, one of the genre’s (and publishing’s) most bankable authors, who’s made a fortune from making over vampires and werewolves into objects of female lust.

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With INFOQUAKE, David Louis Edelman showed that there is definitely a place on the science-fiction shelves for a novel that dispatched with the conventional tropes of the genre and gave readers a book that replaced starships with free markets and favored backroom corporate strategy over laser battles.

With MULTIREAL, the second book of his “Jump 225” trilogy, Edleman showed that he was no one-hit wonder, carrying the story to further Byzantine depths and creative heights. Now, he wraps up the sequence with GEOSYNCHRON, and as the story of ultimate entrepreneur Natch reaches its zenith, the author matches the plot’s depth and richness with a further burst of creativity and world-building complexity.

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bullets broads blackmail and bombsWar is the theme this week, and without even realizing it, all three books take place during World War II. These are three varying looks upon that war, with a take on what Army life was like; some sheer, over-the-top action; and, to kick it off, the perfect example of a must-read.

BAMBOO GUERILLAS by Guy N. Smith — I’ve never laughed harder while reading a book in my life. Wait, it was supposed to be taken seriously? This 1977 novel is actually from the very prolific Smith, whose horror output is one of the huge influences of GARTH MARENGHI’S DARKPLACE, a show which has to be watched by one and all.

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The Architect

architect reviewEver wonder what THE FOUNTAINHEAD would have been like if it were written by Aleister Crowley? Of course you have. We all have! But where would one even start to find a book like that?

Let’s all take a collective breath and pick up a copy of THE ARCHITECT, a highly entertaining one-shot, prestige-format graphic novel written by comics legend Mike Baron (NEXUS) with art by Andie Tong.

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Known to Evil

KNOWN TO EVIL is the second novel in Walter Mosley’s new series featuring New York-based, black P.I. Leonid McGill. I you somehow missed the series debut, THE LONG FALL, you can easily get fully acquainted with McGill and his world with this follow-up. And if this latest work is any indication, McGill is somebody you will want to know.

He rarely receives calls about work at his home phone number, but that’s not the only reason why the call is notable: It’s from Alphonse Rinaldo, the ultimate fixer whose power and influence secretly controls every major decision in the entire city. Rinaldo wants McGill to locate a young woman and report her current whereabouts and general status directly to him. Rinaldo won’t tell McGill what his connection to the young woman is; McGill knows enough about Rinaldo not to ask.

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You’ll certainly get your money’s worth with WARRIORS, nearly 800 pages of all-new short stories on — what else? — warriors, from some of the biggest names in the fantasy business. In his introduction, co-editor George R.R. Martin (with Gardner Dozois) states that many different genres are contained within, but let’s be honest: Overall, fantasy reigns. If that’s your chalice of mead, prepare to get drunk!

Its biggest selling point — other than the all-star parade of authors, that is, including Robin Hobb, Carrie Vaughn, S.M. Stirling and Diana Gabaldon — is a new SONG OF ICE AND FIRE novella by Martin, which is practically 100 pages on its own.

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