what we’re reading

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  • How Music Works by David Byrne  /  Just started this one.  A little dry and clinical, which I suppose the cover alludes to in a way, but he presents some very interesting observations. I’m going to stick with it.
  • Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter by Alyn Shipton  /  Nilsson is one of my favorite artists.  He is really worth exploring beyond the few hit songs like One, Without You, and Coconut that most people know.  Here is a guy who had one of the greatest voices of all time, wrote some brilliant songs, had one of the best backing bands of all time (Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, Nicky Hopkins, Bobby Keyes, John Lennon, the list goes on) and still wound up leading a complicated and tragic life.  The book is a straightforward, if brisk in places, account of his story.  I wish it went further into the creation and recording of the songs from his hot streak in the early 70s, instead of delving deeply into the more lurid moments from his life, but it’s still one of the few portraits you’ll find of him.
  • Doctor Dealer by Mark Bowden  /  Another Bowden story, sort of the white-collar US version of Killing Pablo, which would also make an amazing movie.
  • The “Creepy” Archives  /  I love the art in this compilation.  Even the artists who are not as well known as superstars like Bernie Wrightson and Frank Frazetta were all cranking out amazingly detailed work for these pulpy genre stories.  Reading this compilation takes me back to my childhood of reading my uncle’s old issues of Mad Magazine from the early 80s (especially the movie parodies by Mort Drucker who drew in a similar style) and they really capture the spirit of the previous generation’s trashy treasure by including the ads for Charles Atlas fitness plans and venus fly traps.
  • Criminal (comic series) by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips  /  To me, this is the best work by this team.  A fascinating series of stories of a murky criminal underworld.
  • Killing Pablo by Mark Bowden  /  A super detailed, page turning account of Pablo Escobar’s monstrous exploits and the people who eventually brought him down.  This would make a great movie.
  • Daredevil (comic compilation) by Miller/Jansen  /  When Frank Miller was trying to impress everyone at the beginning of his first comics run, he was pretty unbeatable.  The story where Bullseye is hallucinating into seeing everyone as Daredevil is just about a perfect comic issue, in my opinion.
  • Scalped (comic series) by Jason Aaron & R.M. Guera  /  This comic series blew my mind.  The first author I’ve read since Alan Moore or Frank Miller (in his prime) that really captivated me.  Brilliant storytelling, the way Aaron plays with time always keeps you turning the page.