Digital Comic Review: Age of Bronze: Seen #1

Age of Bronze: Seen #1 (for iPad)
By Eric Shanower
Colors by John Dallaire
Reader’s Guide by Thomas Beasley
Published by Throwaway Horse and Hungry Tiger Press
Release Date: October 14, 2011
Price: $.99

Eric Shanower’s epic Eisner-Award-winning series Age of Bronze has been praised by comic book fans, historians, and educators alike. Currently at 31 issues (and counting), the title began in 1989 with an ambitious goal: merge literary sources and historical/archaeological data on the Trojan War into a singular cohesive story. The fact that it’s an entertaining read on top of that is just icing on the cake.

Now the team at Throwaway Horse has brought Age of Bronze into the digital age by combining the original stories with a comprehensive reader’s guide by Yale classics scholar Thomas Beasley. The result is an even more in-depth look at the Trojan War that includes maps, character guides, internet resources, and even a reader’s commentary forum… all without leaving the app (helpful hint: the forum can be reached by tapping “Reader’s Guide” when it’s active).

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DVD Review: The Blue Planet: Seas of Life

The Blue Planet: Seas of Life
5-Disc DVD Set
Directed by Alastair Fothergill
BBC Warner Home Entertainment

Years ago when I was lucky enough to be vacationing in Maui, a friend and I got tired of laying on the beach and decided to take SCUBA diving lessons. It was a lot of fun, we learned a loads, and both of us came to the same conclusion at the end of the week: “There’s a lot of freaky stuff down there.” This was an epic understatement. The measly 40-feet we got to dive in was a tiny sampling of the fascinating world that occupies 3/4 of the earth’s surface. This was made abundantly clear when I watched BBC’s The Blue Planet: Seas of Life DVD Collector’s Set.

Narrated by the incomparable David Attenborough, this documentary explores all aspects of marine life over the course of eight episodes on four DVDs… “Ocean World,” “Frozen Seas,” “Open Ocean,” “The Deep,” “Seasonal Seas,” “Coral Seas,” “Tidal Seas,” and “Coasts.” There’s also a fifth DVD with four bonus featurettes that loosely tie into the series. Five years in the making, The Blue Planet won multiple Emmy awards for its musical score and stunning cinematography.

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Book Review: Movie London

Movie London (2008)
Written by Tony Reeves
Titan Books
184 Pages

After the film Notting Hill was released, I had a business trip to London. When I asked a good friend if there was anything she’d like me to get her while I was there, she had one request: “a picture of the blue door from William’s flat in Notting Hill.” She wanted to frame it and put it in her bathroom, which was also blue. It seemed like a simple enough request, and a quick search of the internet revealed the location. Unfortunately, it was all for naught, because once I finally got there, the famous blue door was now black. Just for fun, I decided to see how many other sites from the movie I could find… and quickly got very lost.

Enter Movie London by Tony Reeves.

This meticulous guide is jam-packed with hundreds of movie filming locations throughout London, both past and present. Everything from the obvious (James Bond, Harry Potter) to the obscure (Laughter in Paradise, The Nine Ages of Nakedness) is represented. For the movie buff traveling to London, few guide books could be as indispensable.

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Comic Review: 7 Days of Fame

7 Days of Fame #1,2,3
Story by Buddy Scalera
Pencils by Nick Diaz, Dennis Budd
Inks by John Statema, Joe Carmanga
Colors by Wilson Ramos
Letters by Chris Eliopoulos, Joe Carmanga
Covers by Dennis Budd
After Hours Press
Cover price: $12.95; Available now

As a child of the independent comics explosion during the 1980s, I’ve always had an affinity for books which push the medium into new territory. The first time I realized this was when I was exposed to Guy Davis and Gary Reed’s brilliant punk-infused detective series Baker Street. Stunned that comics could be more than superheroes and an occasional sci-fi or fantasy story, it was a wake-up call that had me saying “I didn’t know you could do that with comic books.” Sadly, as time marched onward to the independent comics implosion of the early 1990s, experimentation in comics became more risky, and boundary-pushing series were increasingly rare. Fortunately, the late 90s saw a resurgence in more unique titles that continues to this day.

And here we are with a 3-part series 7 Days to Fame by Buddy Scalera, Nick Diaz, and Dennis Budd that dares to ask the question “What happens when suicide becomes entertainment?”

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DVD Review: Jakers! Treasure Hunt on Raloo Farm

Jakers! Treasure Hunt on Raloo Farm
Voice cast: Mel Brooks, Charles Adler, Pamela Adlon, Melissa Disney, Maile Flanagan, Nika Futterman, Peadar Lamb, Tara Strong, Russi Taylor
Paramount Home Video
Available Feb. 19, 2008

Jakers! Treasure Hunt on Raloo Farm collects four of the Emmy Award-winning episodes of the Jakers! cartoon from PBS Kids. Featuring beautiful CGI animation, imaginative stories, and memorable characters, the show is clever entertainment of the highest quality for kids and adults alike.

Each episode begins with Grandpa Piggley Winks telling his grandchildren a childhood story of growing up in Ireland on Raloo Farm in the village of Tara. The show then moves to a flashback of a young Piggley having adventures with his friends. As one would expect, every tale has a lesson to be learned, with grandpa’s stories offering advice on dealing with challenging situations a child might experience. Cartoons like this are a dime a dozen, but where Jakers! really stands out is the care and attention to detail taken in capturing the atmosphere of the Irish countryside. As each new episode played, I found myself more and more impressed at the world these characters inhabit. Everything from the lush scenery to the smallest prop has an authentic “feel” about it that absorbs you into the story.

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