Tuesday, March 21, 2023

James Alexander Thom R.I.P.


I just found out that author James Alexander Thom died on January 30th of this year. That's him seen here with my Manager Brenda, bookseller Miriam, and myself in 1983 or '84. He was the first author where I was a major part of setting up his signing. His book FOLLOW THE RIVER was Miriam's favorite and she actually managed to get local schools to make it required reading. For years. It's historical FICTION, but Thom spent years meticulously researching his books. They were only called "Fiction" because he put words into his characters' mouths. He was soft spoken and distinguished, intelligent and witty, and everything I considered an author to be. We never had him back again for another signing but all of his books became consistent bestsellers that I was able to continue selling long after Miriam had left the company. In fact, I always kept stacks of FOLLOW THE RIVER in stock 25 years later when I was managing the Airport Borders location. When someone asked--as they inevitably did--"What's just a good book?"--I would say, "Well, our bookseller Miriam LOVED this one." Sold thousands over the years. Rest in Peace, James Alexander Thom.


Friday, March 10, 2023

Bonnie Lou

I stopped by the Library used book sale in the next county yesterday and one of the books I picked up for a quarter--LETTERS TO PAUL BABY-- turned out to be autographed by pioneering rockabilly hall of famer Bonnie Lou! 

Bonnie Lou was also one of the very first female co-hosts of a talk/variety show--THE PAUL DIXON SHOW--which she stayed with for two decades, even after Paul Baby died! An early crush of mine!


Sunday, March 05, 2023

Booksteve Reviews: WE3-The Deluxe Edition


I hadn't read this before so even though it's more than a decade old, it was new to me. 

Grant Morrison’s WE3-The Deluxe Edition re-presents the 3-issue Vertigo mini-series from 20 years back about the incredible journey of a dog, a cat, and a rabbit. Yes, there’s more to it than that. You see, these are genetically reengineered animals meant to be used as weapons of war. They can talk, but only in giving voice to their own base needs and desires. They’re all in bulky suits of armor equipped with all sorts of weapons, too. 


One day, the government decides to decommission (as in kill off) the trio but the scientist behind the program, Dr. Berry, the woman who has taught them and trained them every step of the way and knows them better than anyone, releases them, causing the Army and various agents to go after 1, 2, and 3—as they’re called, respectively. And eventually, 4 is sent to terminate them.



Grant Morrison showed up on the comics scene back in the 1980s, originally as a kind of Alan Moore-lite, with more than a touch of Neil Gaiman thrown in for flavoring. The Scottish author also followed those two to DC Comics in the US. It wasn’t long before Morrison developed a reputation there for turning the comics he wrote, such as Animal Man and Doom Patrol, on their existential ears.


Morrison’s frequent collaborator is fellow Scotsman Frank Quitely, who pulls out all the stops as far as creative layouts for WE3. A whole sequence features 18-panel pages, with relatively tiny panels but no loss of understanding or storytelling. 


Morrison and Quitely, having long since mastered their medium and their teamwork, make it look simple as they craft their short, sweet, but actually complex tale of survival, loyalties, instincts, and friendship. In spite of the series’ violent scenes, more genuine emotion wells up from time to time than you’d expect in just a “comic book.” In spite of all that comes before it, they even manage to give the story a happy and most satisfying ending. 


Alan Moore may have been the great innovator, and Neil Gaiman may have turned out to be the better writer, but in the long run, one can easily make the argument that it was Grant Morrison who has truly become a Zen master when it comes to comic books, and their somewhat symbiotic collaborations with Quitely on titles like WE3 just add an extra touch of same.


What makes WE3-The Deluxe Edition deluxe is that after the story, the reader gets to go behind the curtain and learn how some of the magic they’ve just witnessed was performed. Take a look for this Vertigo collection at your local comic shop. You won’t regret it. 


Booksteve recommends.