The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines

When I was 5, I asked my mother to buy me a superhero poster, because I really liked superheroes and, even at that young of age, I abhorred an empty wall. I made my request with visions of Superman and Batman floating in my head, but I would have happily settled for a Spider-Man or a Hulk as well. Hell, I would have made do with a freakin’ Aquaman if it came down to that.

Instead, she returned home with a poster of Lynda Carter dressed as Wonder Woman and I was fucking devastated.

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Bossypants

Tina Fey is the funniest voice Generation X ever produced. Not the funniest female voice — the funniest voice period-full-stop-that-means-boys-are-totally-included. A controversial statement? Definitely, but I’m happy to make it. Why? Because she might someday Google herself, find this review and decide to reward my declaration with an awkward sexual favor. Far-fetched? Probably, but I know for a fact she has a thing for short guys, so — fuck it I’m swinging for the fences.

That said, as someone who considers himself to be a knowledgeable student of comedy history, Fey truly does deserves to be considered one of the greats of our time. Both her Mark Twain Prize and her first book, BOSSYPANTS, more then backs this up.

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Stuntman!: My Car-Crashing, Plane-Jumping, Bone-Breaking, Death-Defying Hollywood Life

When I first picked up my brand-new copy of Hal Needham’s STUNTMAN!: MY CAR-CRASHING, PLANE-JUMPING, BONE-BREAKING, DEATH-DEFYING HOLLYWOOD LIFE, the first thought that flashed inside my mind was, “Oh, fuck, now I actually have to read this shit.” My second was the profound realization that the cliché was true: Those who ignore the lessons of the past are forever doomed to repeat them.

Our story begins six years ago (-ish), back when I was still a young, bright-eyed, Canadian writer working for a local company that specialized in publishing books you’ve never read. Having grown accustomed to my being the most obscure working author in North America, I was shocked when my fourth book, URBAN LEGENDS, ignited a firestorm of media interest.

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Batgirl: The Greatest Stories Ever Told

Ask any comic-book nerd you meet about all of the different fictional women who have taken on the name and mantle of Batgirl over the years and they no doubt will tell you tales of the blonde, miniskirted Betty Kane, the silent assassin Cassandra Cain and the once-briefly-dead-Robin Stephanie Brown, with short and annoying asides about Helena Bertinelli and Charlotte Gage-Radcliffe. But ultimately, even they will concede that this is mere prattle, and that the only true Batgirl remains the redheaded librarian we all first came to know and love.

DC itself seems only too willing to acknowledge this fact in its new trade collection, BATGIRL: THE GREATEST STORIES EVER TOLD, given that none of the other past or present Batgirls appear within its pages, devoted as they all are to the adventures of one Barbara Gordon. This is remarkably wise of them.

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The Art of Hammer: Posters from the Archives of Hammer Films

About nine months or so ago, I took almost 1,000 words to reach the rather obvious conclusion that Marcus Hearn’s HAMMER GLAMOUR: CLASSIC IMAGES FROM THE ARCHIVES OF HAMMER FILMS was truly a book you could judge by its cover. All it took was one look at the picture of buxom British babe Madeline Smith daring you with her wide brown eyes not to drown in her exposed cleavage to know whether or not you’d enjoy it.

The same sentiment goes for Hearn’s recently released follow up, THE ART OF HAMMER: POSTERS FROM THE ARCHIVES OF HAMMER FILMS, especially since in this case, he has been kind enough to save us the effort of actually reading words as we thumb through the book’s pages. Smartly deciding that the selected posters more than ably speak for themselves, his entire word count isn’t much higher than that of my previous review.

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Full Frontal Nudity: The Making of an Accidental Actor

If you had told me sometime last year that the first book I would buy and read in 2011 was Harry Hamlin’s FULL FRONTAL NUDITY: THE MAKING OF AN ACCIDENTAL ACTOR, then now would be the time I started organizing a lynch mob and gathered some kindling around a stake, because your eerily accurate prognostication would be clear proof that you are a disciple of his dark lord Satan and must be burned alive, lest his evil majesty lay claim to our everlasting souls.

And while your screams of pain and anguish echoed in our ears, I would take the opportunity offered by the occasion to recommend the book to my fellow moblians, insisting that, “It’s really much better than you would expect.” Which it really is.

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BOOKGASM’s Best (and Worst) of 2010

ROD LOTT’S PICKS

Rather than present my opinions all over again, I thought instead I’d present my choices for the best books of 2010 as if hack film critic Gene Shalit were blurbing them. (Okay, you caught me: I just ran out of time.) So without further ado and in no particular order:

HOLLYWOOD HILLS by Joseph Wambaugh: “Head for the hills! HOLLYWOOD HILLS, that is! Hooray for HOLLYWOOD!”

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The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy

There’s an extremely important and influential character who is never once mentioned in Bill Carter’s THE WAR FOR LATE NIGHT: WHEN LENO WENT EARLY AND TELEVISION WENT CRAZY, and that’s Carter himself. As the author of 1994’s THE LATE SHIFT, perhaps the best nonfiction work ever written on the subject of network television, he unwittingly crafted a document that is at least partially to blame for the events described in his new book.

Because despite what common sense might suggest, the series of terrible decisions that led to Conan O’Brien being fired from THE TONIGHT SHOW a mere seven months after Jay Leno abdicated the show to him weren’t made out of some collective ignorance of the past, but instead were the result of a concerted effort to avoid the mistakes made nearly two decades earlier when Johnny Carson’s retirement left a hole two very different comedic personalities — Leno and David Letterman — very desperately wanted to fill.

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Love Bites

When our humble editor asked if I was interested in not only reviewing the latest book by cult movie icon Adrienne Barbeau, but interviewing her as well, my response was enthusiastic and immediate (and might have even included a celebratory expletive to signify the passion of my response).

But my enthusiasm cooled and turned to apprehension when I realized that the book in question, LOVE BITES, was a vampire novel (or — more accurately — a vampyre novel), and there was the very real possibility that I would hate it, which would then make doing the interview just a wee bit awkward.

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Q&A with LOVE BITES’ Adrienne Barbeau

People always seemed to be surprised when they hear that an actor has written a novel, as if a talent in one field precludes having one in another. Personally, I’m far more surprised that more actors don’t try their hand at fiction, considering how the nature of their craft allows them to get into the heads of characters whose behavior and attitudes are often anathema to their own.

That and they often have a lot of free time on their hands.

Still, despite this there is an annoying tendency to treat novels written by actors as amusing novelties rather than as serious works of genuine merit. Hopefully the efforts of celebrated cult movie actress Adrienne Barbeau will go some way toward changing that.

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