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REFERENCE GUIDES BY GEEKS, FOR GEEKS

Hasslein Blog

Friday, March 28, 2014

Star Trek Meets Planet of the Apes: I'm a Doctor, Not a Madhouse!

by Rich Handley

Comic book author David Tipton has written some great Star Trek tales, which you should definitely check out if you enjoy Trek, comics or Trek comics: en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/David_Tipton. Yesterday, he sent me this photo of himself holding up one of my books, From Aldo to Zira—Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia. Since that's the book I'm most proud of writing (I admit it... I have a favorite child), that made my day. Thanks, David.



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Monday, March 10, 2014

Today's the Day Marty McFly...

The next time you see someone passing around one of those fake, inaccurate and annoying "Today is the day Marty McFly traveled into the future" memes, be sure to show them this:


 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

I Write Because of Harold Ramis

by Joseph F. Berenato


Harold Ramis died the other day. I never knew the man personally, never had the privilege of meeting him, and knew nothing about his private life. I only know him through his impressive body of work, as a director, writer and actor.

And I write largely because of him.

I couldn’t tell you the first time I saw Ghostbusters. It seems like it’s always been a part of my life. I know I didn’t see it in the theaters, so logically it had to be on home video, sometime in in the first or second grade. And I don’t think I could properly impress upon you the impact that it had on my life.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Faith the Vampire Slayer

By Duy Tano

I don't really talk about it much, but I'm a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's probably my favorite live-action TV show ever that's not a straight-up comedy, and although I'm not that big a fan to follow the comics, I could watch certain parts of the show and its spinoff, Angel, over and over again. I even tried starting a Buffy blog at one point, with the intention of watching each episode and commenting on it, until I realized it was too much work.

I fell in love with the show in the middle of Season 4, widely regarded as one of its worst seasons. Specifically, I was hooked on what was probably its best two episodes: "This Year's Girl" and "Who Are You?", featuring the return of Faith, the rogue vampire slayer.

Anyone who reads The Comics Cube on a regular basis knows I'm a sucker for the evil twin gimmick, the "road not taken," the villain with the same powers as the hero, but deadlier! And of course, to top it all off, Faith was portrayed by Eliza Dushku.

In short, she was hot.

Faith was my favorite character on both shows, and I'd like to think it was more than just because she was so physically attractive, since, well, that universe also had Charisma Carpenter and Amy Acker and Sarah Michelle Gellar and so on and so forth. There was just something compelling about her. Eliza played her perfectly.

I've often said that Eliza is Faith. It's basically the only character she can do. Whenever she's tried to expand her acting chops—which is an admirable thing to do—the success rate hasn't been high. She's not that good an actress. But no one else is Faith.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Meet the Rap Viper

By James McFadden

Last month, a G.I. Joe-themed video started making its way around the Internet, but it wasn't a movie trailer or a commercial. It was the music video for "Rap Viper," a track from an alternative hip-hop artist from Canada, known as Wordburglar. And it's actually only one song from an entire G.I. Joe-themed concept album, Welcome to Cobra Island. "Rap Viper" could probably be considered a parody, but it is filled with old and obscure references that long-time fans—of both the cartoons and comics—will appreciate.


You can check out the entire album at propsdept.bandcamp.com, where you can also buy the CD version, complete with lyrics booklet. There are songs about Cobra Commander, Destro and Zartan, as well as one dedicated to that strange corner of the G.I. Joe universe, Cobra-La. The album also includes the three-part "A Letter from Snake-Eyes", loosely adapted from Snake-Eyes' dramatic letter from the final issue of the Marvel Comics series, G.I. Joe #155.

I would've included some hip-hop reference or joke up above, but I'd just end up embarrassing myself...


James McFadden has written more than a dozen articles for the United Kingdom's Official Star Wars Fact File, as well as the article "The Forgotten Warand "The History of Star Toursfor StarWars.com. In addition, James has contributed to a number of fan Web sites. His first book, Fighting for Freedom: The Unauthorized G.I. Joe Chronology, is coming soon from Hasslein Books.

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Don't Spend Money or Time Just to See How Bad Something Is

By Rocko Jerome

I’ve seen The Expendables 2 but not Lawrence of Arabia. This is reflective of a deep personal failing. I even saw the first Expendables, and then I knowingly bought a ticket to see the sequel, realizing full well that I was going to sit through another movie that I would find insipid and leave feeling that I wasted my money and time, neither of which I could ever have back. All the while, Lawrence of Arabia waits for me.

We’ve all done it, I’m sure. There’s no explaining the massive success of so many bad things without the application of the “hate watching” principle, in which people consume entertainment the same way they might eat Chef Boyardee canned ravioli. But while canned ravioli might be all you have the resources for at the moment, you will never have a good reason to watch Paranormal Activity 3. Especially if you’ve never seen Citizen Kane.

I hear it all the time, and I’ve said it myself: “I’m just going to see how bad it is.” Why do we do this to ourselves? There’s only so much time we get on this planet, but we waste it and cram mundane junk into our brains. By doing so, we leave quality brain food on the table instead.

There’s a certain immunity that I’ll grant things like The Room and Garzey’s Wing. There are works of art that turn out so horribly and inadvertently entertaining for the wrong reasons that it’s fascinating to try to determine how they came to exist in the first place, and fun to watch in groups. I’m talking more about things that are just plain mediocre, and that transversely seem to make a disgustingly large amount of money anyway. It says something very scary about our society that Twilight and reality television are such huge cash cows.

All I’m saying is that if you know better, I urge you to act like it--your quality of life will be greater.


Rocko Jerome has lived many lives. Right now, he's a writer. You can read Rocko's work at his blog and at Atomic Wanderers.

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Who Goes There...

Hasslein Books' first foray into Doctor Who (Lost in Time and Space: An Unofficial Guide to the Uncharted Journeys of Doctor Who, written by RiffTrax's Matthew J. Elliott) is now edited and in the hands of our expert proofreaders.

Stay tuned for further news...


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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Matthew Sunrich Presents... Marvel Super Special #9

By Matthew Sunrich

By the 1970s, Marvel, once a fledgling publisher of forgettable "monster of the month" comics, had become a force to be reckoned with. Having achieved massive success with superheroes such as Spider-Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Hulk, the company had taken the industry by storm and proven that comics unwilling to take risks, rendered in a bland house style (it's tough to argue that DC's Silver-Age look was particularly engaging), were yesterday's news.

Even though the Comics Code Authority had revised its standards after the publication of a defiant story arc in The Amazing Spider-Man that featured a subplot concerning drug abuse, there were still things that were simply not allowed. When Marvel began publishing Conan the Barbarian, for example, it was impossible for the creators to explore the character completely because the violent and sexually-charged aspects of Robert E. Howard's original stories were considered too extreme for the comic page. This was, in some ways, unfair to older readers.

In order to get around this, Marvel followed the example of Warren (publisher of Eerie, Creepy, and Vampirella) and introduced a series of black-and-white magazines, the first of which was Savage Tales. Magazines were safely off the Code's radar, so they could show things like blood, severed heads, and the occasional pair of breasts. Savage Tales, an anthology, spotlighted various characters, including Conan, and featured the debut of the sensational swamp-dwelling Man-Thing. Several other magazines, published under the Curtis imprint, were soon introduced, most of which didn't last long. The most enduring was The Savage Sword of Conan, which endured until 1995.

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

RIP: Debra Jane Shelly

by Rich Handley

Today, a friend of mine from the online world passed away.

Debra smiling (as she apparently always did),
at The Comic Book Lounge & Gallery
I doubt that I have ever met a nicer, more upbeat individual than Debra Jane Shelly. In fact, I've never seen a photo of her in which she wasn't smiling to the point of beaming. We became acquainted a few years ago through an online forum, and since then I've come to greatly admire and respect her kindness, cheeriness, sense of humor and accomplishments, and for the loving relationship she so clearly cherished with her boyfriend, Kevin A. Boyd.

I was looking forward to one day meeting her in person at a convention or some other event, so we could swap stories and discuss geeky topics over drinks, and it is my great loss never to have had that chance.

Debra was only 38 years old, and she passed away unexpectedly while taking a nap, from causes as yet unidentified. She was a researcher at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, and also sometimes worked at The Comic Book Lounge and Gallery (owned by Kevin), where she organized numerous events, including the ever-popular Ladies' Night.

From reading her postings on social media over the past several years, and from our own silly exchanges, one thing has been abundantly clear: She was a much-loved and inspiring person who made a strong impact on the lives of many comic book fans and professionals, as well as family members and friends. I can't think of a single negative thing to say about her, and I doubt anyone else who knew her could either. She was just that nice.

It says a lot about Debra that I could feel such a sense of loss without actually having ever met her. Rest in peace, my friend. The world is a darker place now without your light in it. My sincere condolences to Kevin Boyd, and to everyone who considered Debra a friend or kin. That's a lot of people, to be sure.


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Friday, January 10, 2014

CUBING: House of Leaves

By Duy Tano

Last year, while on vacation, I took with me a copy of Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves, which I picked up based on a recommendation by my favorite comic book writer, Alan Moore.

Quickly flipping through the book, it would have been easy to call it pretentious. I mean, this is one of the pages!


There are, in essence, two main stories in House of Leaves. I'll do my best to sum it up, but keep in mind that there's no doing this justice.

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Lost in Time and Space: An Unofficial Guide to the Uncharted Journeys of Doctor Who

By Rich Handley

We are pleased to present the cover to Hasslein Books' first publication for 2014, titled Lost in Time and Space: An Unofficial Guide to the Uncharted Journeys of Doctor Who, written by Matthew J. Elliott.


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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Matthew Sunrich Presents... Just What Is the Bronze Age?

By Matthew Sunrich

In the realm of comic-book fandom and collecting, the terms "Golden Age" and "Silver Age" are firmly established. They represent, respectively, the era in which superhero comic books originated and the one in which they enjoyed a renaissance. Superman's first appearance in Action Comics #1 (1938) is universally considered to be the start of the Golden Age, and Barry Allen's first appearance as The Flash in Showcase #4 (1956) is recognized as the beginning of the Silver Age.

These ages are primarily concerned with the birth and refinement of superheroes. While there were other types of comics published at the same time, they are usually omitted because their relevance is limited. Comics were a new thing during the Golden Age, which only lasted for about seven years (the popularity of superheroes waned after the end of World War II, leading to the cancelation of dozens of titles), so creators weren't really sure what they were doing. For the first half of the 1950s, superheroes were virtually absent from the comic racks (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were the only survivors of the "crash"), but they returned in a big way when DC decided to bring back a hero from their early years, The Flash, in a new identity. (The fact that this eventually destroyed DC's continuity is another matter altogether.)


The success of this venture led to the resurrection of other Golden-Age heroes and the retooling of the concepts behind superhero fiction. "Comic-book art" became a legitimate thing, whereas it had only been an offshoot of comic-strip illustration during the Golden Age. By 1968, comics had "solidified" (especially at Marvel), and it was apparent that the next big development in the medium was just around the corner.

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy Holidays From Pat Carbajal and Hasslein Books!


 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Matthew Sunrich Presents... Batman #234

By Matthew Sunrich

Batman's famous rogues' gallery was noticeably absent from the pages of his comics for the first year or so of the Bronze Age. The reasons for this are outlined in Batman #217 (1969); essentially, Bruce felt that he needed to focus his attention on the criminals behind the scenes, viz. the corrupt businessmen and politicians whose indiscretions and greed had profound effects on the lives of innocent people, more so than the crimes of supervillains.

In a real-world sense, though, I think it was an editorial decision. The campy Batman of the Silver Age, the offspring of avarice and the embarrassing zeitgeist of the 1960s (you heard me), needed to be put to rest forever, and by temporarily ignoring the "bad guys" associated with him, the creators gave the readers (and hopefully the public at large) an opportunity to see the character in a new light.


It also provided an opportunity for the members of the rogues' gallery to be reinterpreted, which was a beneficial thing, indeed.

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