Hasslein Blog: November 2013


Hasslein Blog

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Don't Support Greedy Retailers at Thanksgiving!

Don't support any retailers forcing their employees to work on Thanksgiving! Instead, order your loved ones Planet of the Apes and Back to the Future books online, from Hasslein Publications—we'll all be enjoying the holiday with our families, happily not working, so buying books from us tomorrow will send a big "Screw you!" to Toys 'R' Us, Best Buy, Sports Authority, Walmart, Old Navy, American Eagle, Sears, JCPenney, Kohl's, Macy's, Office Depot, Staples, Target and all the other retailers run by unfeeling, greedy assholes who would force their employees to leave their families on Thanksgiving!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hasslein Books: Evil to the Core Since 1971

By Rich Handley

The Comics Cube!'s Duy Tano recently forwarded me the following story, published in World's Finest #205 (cover date: September 1971). The story, titled "The Computer That Captured a Town," was written by Steve Skeates and illustrated by Dick Dillin and Joe Giella, with a cover by the legendary Neal Adams. It's a solid tale about racism and bigotry, and it has a fascinating real-world backstory involving Skeates' not-so-subtle swipe at Bob Haney. But none of that is why Duy sent it to me.

No, the reason is quite simple: He discovered my true nature... you see, I'm a super-villain who, back in the early '70s, ruled an entire town. Don't believe me? Read on. I deny nothing―in 1971, I was a downright evil asshole. I sure did look snazzy in my bowler cap, though, didn't I?

Read more »

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,


Support Justin Benzel's 5th Dimension Project

Rocko Jerome asked us to help spread the word about a Kickstarter project called The 5th Dimension, a 75-page book described as "a retro-futuristic art narrative centered around a 1950s Chicago and the arrival of space aliens." After checking out what photographer Justin Benzel has in mind, we're happy to do some word-spreading, as this project looks like it could turn out to be incredible.

The mission of Benzel's campaign is to raise the necessary funds to create a "stunning series of photos" to accompany a set of short stories, and to then print a limited-edition run of the finished book, and distribute the books, prints and rewards to backers. The images below represent only a small sampling of the final product (here's a gallery containing several more), but it gives an idea of what the photographer imagines. Benzel's blog details the project's progress.

The finished book will tell the story of "Charles Moray and the impact of his company across the city and beyond." The plot is already planned and written, and Benzel just needs to complete the images and finish writing some of the stories. Won't you help out?

Labels: , ,


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Doctor Who Retro Review: The Hartnell Years

By T. Scott Edwards

William Hartnell is the Doctor. Whilst he may not have been the longest running, and he certainly isn't the most popular in most polls held, he originated the role, bringing his own irascibility and grumpiness, but also his lovability and charm. His wit and sardonic humour radiate from him endlessly, and even in the direst of situations, his "hmm"s and tuts warm my heart.

Of course, he is renowned for his 'Billy fluffs' – invariably at least once an episode, Hartnell can stumble on a line. These are often cited by some as a reason for disliking his portrayal. That said, for a man of his age and in his condition, we can only sit and sigh in awe at the durability of him. Rehearsing almost every week of the year, on a dreadfully tight budget and schedule, Hartnell and his crew managed admirably. Considering his disease, he actually fared surprisingly well – there are bit-part players who fluff as often, despite only having the script for two-four weeks. In the 1960s, as we know, only one take was often allowed – due to time constraints, the show was filmed 'as live', and retakes were only allowed for the most catastrophic of reasons. As such, he endured being dropped on camera cranes, being hit in the face, and any number of terrible things – yet throughout everything, he managed to hide most of this, behind his genius characterisation of the Doctor as a doddery old man.

He is unfairly criticised as being too inactive – all of the 'heavy lifting' was left to his (admittedly more than) capable companions, Ian, Steven and Ben. Certainly, we don't see him prat-falling around like McCoy and Baker, or energetically throwing himself around like Davison, or moving with a nimble, child-like glee like Troughton, or even karate-chopping henchmen like Pertwee. But that doesn't make him any less the Doctor.

We must remember, though, that he is the First. He is the archetype of the character, the originator of many of the character's attributes which we still see today. Without Hartnell (and the Daleks, admittedly) the series may never have run for three years, let alone 49. He took the essence of a character created by writers and made it his own. He actively changed scripts if he thought them inappropriate for the children watching.

What Hartnell does is encapsulate all that later Doctor's embody in one go – he is loveable and miserable, grouchy and snappy, funny and clownish, abrupt and deceitful, all at once. His stories helped in that each script allowed him to bring a new trait to the fore – from the antihero liar of The Daleks to the lovable pragmatist and historical hero of The Aztecs, from moral peace-keeper in The Sensorites to the heroic old man who battles adversity in the face of illness in The Tenth Planet, he managed to create the template which is still being used to this very day. Many unfairly ignore Hartnell, and claim that it was Patrick Troughton who created the role as we now know it, and whilst Troughton is far and away my favourite Doctor, he simply took Hartnell's lead.

The joker of The Romans and The Myth Makers is the ball that Troughton, Tom Baker and early Sylvester McCoy picked up and ran with. The stoic pragmatist and heroic action man of The Dalek Invasion of Earth and The Tenth Planet is the template upon which Jon Pertwee, Peter Davison, David Tennant and Matt Smith modelled themselves on. The unapproachable and aggressive Doctor of An Unearthly Child and The Daleks seems to be the template for Colin Baker's interpretation – admittedly one which should have gone full circle to encapsulate all of his traits rather than just those irascible ones. The darker and more dangerous characteristics of Hartnell's Doctor are the template upon which later McCoy, Christopher Eccleston and later Smith will utilise.

Of course, the series itself had no consistency as such to speak of, so it is unsurprising that there seemed to be little or no consistency to the character or the stories he was involved in. And that is also the crux of what makes Hartnell so great – put him in any era, on any planet and against any foe, and he thrives regardless. In the face of any adversity, he steps forward, a new trait comes out, and he faces the challenge admirably. As each new brush came in, carving a new way with the accompanying production team, the style changed. Whilst later Doctor's eras are renowned for Base Under Siege style drama, or the earth-bound UNIT tales, before settling back into a hotch-potch method like in Hartnell's time, the earliest incarnation thrives on the unknowability of what is around every bend – from historicals to sci-fi, Earth-under-threat to stories of warring factions on desolate planets, there is rarely anything similar. From the quiet, self-contained stories like Marco Polo to the epic sprawling battles of The Daleks' Master Plan, you could never settle down knowing what was coming.

Scott Edwards is a teacher of English and Theatre Studies at Barnard Castle School in the North East of England, with a BAHons in English Literature and Film Studies. He is also a self-professed ‘ming-mong,' and in addition to timelordapprentice.blogspot.co.uk he also runs facebook.com/Classic.Doctor.Who. You can also follow him on Twitter: @TimelordTSE.

Labels: , ,


Portrait of an Artist: Pat Carbajal

by Rich Handley

The first time I ever saw Pat Carbajal's artwork, I was floored. It was a sketch for the cover of my first book, Timeline of the Planet of the Apes: The Definitive Chronology, and it was simply amazing. Since then, we've asked Pat to create covers and interior illustrations for all of Hasslein Books' projects to date. His artwork has to be seen to be believed—and he's one heck of a nice guy, to boot.

Pat has become an invaluable member of the Hasslein team, creating sketches of each author's headshot for posting on our About page. These proved so popular with our writers, in fact, that we've taken to calling the headshots "Carbajalized," and several have used the sketches as their social-media profile photos.

Recently, I sat down with Pat (electronically, since we're on different continents) to discuss his work and what excites him most as an artist.

Read more »

Labels: , , , , ,


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Doctor Who Retro Review: Serial 029—The Tenth Planet

By T. Scott Edwards

Before I start this blog, I'd like to apologise in advance—I had written 6 pages of wonderful rhetoric, filled with insightful points of interest and fascinating observations... but then my computer deleted it. As such, I've had to rewrite the entire thing, and as such it will be nowhere near as effective—I watched the serial more than a week and a half ago, and have since listened to the next two serials, as well as the series finale of the reboot, so my memory is a little hazy, and my notes make little sense. So, sorry.

And so we come to the end. Season 4, serial 2, sees us bid a heartfelt farewell to the Doctor—Hartnell's moving on, and Troughton's taking over the reins. But what a way to bow out—the introduction of the Cybermen! The first ever regeneration! (Although of course we don't know that that is what it is just yet.) But after a long and dedicated service to the character, Hartnell's swansong is both wonderful and a tragic shame.

The Tenth Planet is regarded by many as the holy grail of Doctor Who, and episode 4 is the most eagerly-sought episode to be returned to the archives. It is a fantastic serial for any number of reasons, and from the opening of episode 1, we can tell that this is something special; the unique opening sequence lets us know that this is something special, as computer scrawl fills the screen, gradually transforming into the episode titles. The sequences in Snow Base are equally impressive, and help to create a global sense of scale for the proceedings; as with The War Machines with its use of news broadcasters and American journalists, we are thrown into a world filled with people of every culture, albeit a number of them are racial stereotypes—from the Italian opera-chanting lothario with the sexy girl posters to the bullish brute of a General, barking orders in his brisk American accent—and we can genuinely believe that there is a danger for the whole planet, not just a suburb of London, as becomes the norm once Pertwee takes over. Again, the use of stock footage here helps to create a sense of scale, making it all the more believable. In a time of space exploration, the shots of rockets must have seemed magnificent.

Read more »

Labels: , , , ,


Thursday, November 14, 2013

In Hungary, No One Can Hear You Scream

By Rich Handley

Author Jean-François Boivin, currently writing If It Bleeds: The Unauthorized Chronology of the Alien/Predator Universe for publication here at Hasslein Books, sent me an intriguing e-mail today. In his search for everything ever published related to the Alien and Predator franchises, JF came across a Web site containing scans of a little-known comic adaptation of the second Alien film (which you can visit here).

As JF wrote, "I have discovered a long-lost gem: The only comics adaptation of James Cameron's Aliens (aside from Dark Horse's 'Newt's Tale') was an unlicensed Hungarian comic. A Bolygó Neve: Halál is actually the title of the movie in Hungarian, and means 'The Aliens.' And I have found a website that posts good scans of the pages!"

JF calls the art "truly horrible," but notes that for fans, it's "a rare gem." Here are some sample pages below, so you can decide for yourself:

Read more »

Labels: , ,


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What You Should Be Reading

By Rich Handley

As the holiday shopping season approaches, many Web sites are putting together online guides to help visitors with their gift-giving efforts. With that in mind, Hasslein Publishing recommends the following projects. Not all of them are books, and not all of them are yet for sale—and, heck, not all of them will even be available by the holidays—but all are worth checking out. What they have in common is that they come from the minds of Hasslein's creative crop of contributors. We're pleased to have these wonderfully talented folks writing for us, and wholeheartedly promote their non-Hasslein work.

Read more »



Monday, November 11, 2013

Back to The Comics: Jack Kirby

By Rocko Jerome

To put it simply, it's impossible to imagine comic books existing in their modern form without Jack Kirby. It's hard to fathom what Marvel Comics at their inception and heyday might've been like without Jack drawing most of the books, stretching imagination to its limits while establishing a house style. During the celebrated Marvel Age of the 1960s, Kirby, a workhorse of uncanny proportions, produced more books a month than most creators do in a year today.

So much so that he was often and easily taken for granted, and stretched thin to the point that the work he's most recognized for ironically isn't really his best work. As much as I love his 100-issue marathon run on Fantastic Four, his truly epic Thor issues, his wall-to-wall action in Avengers, and all the other Marvel Comics he brought to life and characters he created, it was his Seventies leap to DC Comics that brought his truest vision to paper. Foreseeing the trade paperback market of today, Jack knew that comic fandom was strong enough that at some point, the slowly rotting newsprint of floppy comics would give way to more permanent reprint collections, and he started writing his New Gods saga for an eventual collection and larger audience one day. Basically a story of generational struggle told with cosmically Shakespearean characters, Jack's new world was launched initially in the pages of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, because when the heads at DC told him he could have any book, he only wanted to take on one where it wouldn't result in anyone else losing their jobs.

Read more »

Labels: , , , , ,


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Doctor Who Retro Review: Serial 028—The Smugglers

By T. Scott Edwards

Season four opens magnificently with The Smugglers, seeing Hartnell in his last historical—in fact, the second-to-last historical of the black and white era—Hartnell's penultimate story, but with some wonderful characterisation, location filming and introducing Ben and Polly as companions-proper to the Doctor.

The serial picks up where the last story ended season 3, with Ben and Polly literally barging their way into the TARDIS console just as the Doctor takes off. Hartnell's great displeasure at their presence there is swift and brutal, as he had clearly contemplated a brief stint alone. That said, he very swiftly changes his tone, as he gloatingly shows off the ship. The exposition here is rather clunky—with Hartnell essentially giving us a guided tour of each and every one of the ship's functions, and reminding us that he is unable to steer the vessel—but as a viewer I get the impression that this info-dump is more for the contemporary viewers than Ben and Polly; opening a new series, it provides a brief recap for viewers of old, as well as introducing newer viewers. The TARDIS swiftly materialises on Earth again, though, and Ben and Polly leave the ship, their disbelief—particularly that of Ben—still ringing in our ears.

What is most interesting about these opening scenes is the ease with which Ben seems to readily accept that the police box has transported them from London city centre to the South coast in the blink of an eye, and that the inside of the box is far larger than the outside allows, and yet he refuses to believe that they have really travelled through time. His stubbornness is rather grating at first, although it is easy to quickly warm to Michael Craze's performance, and Polly's girlish glee is utterly adorable.

Read more »

Labels: , , ,


Friday, November 8, 2013

Back To The Comics: Jim Steranko

By Rocko Jerome

Jim Steranko could’ve just been one of two things in order to be remarkable. He could be a ground breaking, innovative artist, one who altered the art form of comic book storytelling forever. He could also be an engaging, charismatic individual, one who could never be forgotten by anyone who meets him. As it turns out, he’s both.

Read more »

Labels: , ,


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

CUBING: Fictional Detectives

By Duy Tano

As a young Cube, I loved detective stories. I liked the whole general aesthetic and the whole process of finding clues and piecing them together. I like the conceit, and I like scenes where they're sniffing around for leads, whether or not they have to do with a magnifying glass. In this little piece I write for Hasslein today, I'm gonna share six things that contributed to this love.

Garfield Presents... Babes & Bullets

I've spoken about this on the Cube before, but I can't do this list without this, since it actually did blow my little mind as a kid. You're used to seeing Jim Davis as Jim Davis the brand, meaning clean lines and Garfield stock poses, but then here he is, doing shadow work and setting mood. Garfield's rocking the trenchcoat and fedora as Sam Spayed (and yes, I did not get that joke as a youngster) as well, and I really like that aesthetic.

It was adapted for the cartoons as well.

The book is better though. You can get a copy of it for a cheap price here.

Read more »

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,


Friday, November 1, 2013

Back to the Future Timeline Now Available Worldwide at Amazon, CreateSpace and B&N

Nov. 1, 2013

Media Contact:

Back to the Future Chronology 
Now Available Worldwide at Amazon, 
CreateSpace and BarnesAndNoble.com

Customers and resellers can purchase Hasslein Publishing's second Back to the Future reference guide at the popular electronic-commerce and print-on-demand Web sites, as well as at BTTF.com and reseller companies.

Hasslein Books has announced that Back in Time: The Unauthorized Back to the Future Chronology, co-written by Greg Mitchell and Rich Handley, is now available for purchase at Amazon.com and its international subsidiaries, CreateSpace.com and BarnesandNoble.com, as well as to resellers via Ingram, NACSCORP and CreateSpace Direct Resellers. In addition, Back in Time can be ordered at BTTF.com, the official Back to the Future Web site, which sold the reference guide exclusively throughout October.

Read more »

Labels: , , ,