Thursday, April 30, 2009

Free Comic Book Day 2009

[posted by J. Nadiger]

Every year, the first Saturday of May is Free Comic Book Day. It's usually timed with the release of a comic book movie, this year being X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

For Free Comic Book Day, participating comic book shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely FREE to anyone who comes into their stores.

IMPORTANT: It does NOT mean that all comics found in the store are free!

Rather, each publishing company creates a comic intended as a free sample for a potential new reader. Some are reprints of popular titles, but most are original stories done by talented creators, designed to woo you into the comic shop on a more regular basis.

Every store does Free Comic Book Day a little differently, but I think that my comic shop, Elfsar Comics, puts on the best FCBD in town.

For the past several years, we've combined Free Comic Book Day with a food drive for the Vancouver food bank. If you walk into the store, you automatically get to choose 5 out of the 25 different Free Comics, no questions asked.

BUT! If you bring in a non-perishable food item, or cash donation, you get 5 more comics, an entry into one of the raffles, and a photo taken with one of the costumed heroes that will be on site.

If that wasn't enough, we'll have some spectacular local artists there promoting their work and doing sketches:
  • Comic creator/filmmaker KAARE ANDREWS
  • Cartoonist CAMILLA D'ERRICO
  • Arcana Comics publisher & EiC SEAN O'REILLY
  • Digital artist DERYK MANDRYK
There will also be a massive sale on almost every item in the store: Buy 2 get 1 free on all reading material, and 20% off all non-reading material.

At the very least, it's a chance to find some cool new works of art and donate to a very worthy cause.

Free Comic Book Day happens this Saturday, May 2. We open at 11am and close at 7pm. Supplies of free comics are limited (first come, first served!), and it's always crowded, so please come early, but it's always a good time.

I hope to see you all there!

For more information, please visit Elfsar's Free Comic Book Day page.

GG Winner Jacob Scheier and Sonnet L'Abbe Read Tonight @ Main Street!

Jacob Scheier and Sonnet L'Abbe read tonight in Main Street's redesigned front room, courtesy of our friends at PRISM International magazine and the UBC Creative Writing Department. This reading is likely going to be really crowded; if you want a guaranteed seat, you might consider arriving around 6:45pm.

Monday, April 27, 2009

New Islands Discovered!

[posted by Chris Clarke]

Thought I'd pass along a new discovery (new to me, at least) for those that enjoy Latin American fiction with a touch of magical realism, along the lines of Borges, Casares, Ocampo and other faves. A copy of Maria Luisa Bombal's "New Islands and Other Stories" (Cornell University Press, 1988) wandered across the counter and caught my eye. A big fan of the short fiction of Argentine Silvina Ocampo, I had vague hopes that this might be similar in feel; the 'Preface by Jorge Luis Borges' notice led me in that direction. While quite different thematically, Bombal did not disappoint. In fact, it was a pleasure to read and, as with Ocampo, I am now in the frustrating position of finding that there is little if any more available in English translation.

Bombal, born in 1910 in Chile, studied in London and Paris, and, returned to Chile, married Elogio Sanchez. The marriage wasn't ideal; in fact, Maria shot him (apparently) and fled to Argentina (he survived...), where she met Borges, Neruda and others. She lived in the US for about thirty years with a later husband, and also returned to Chile later in life.

Bombal is known in her brief output for narrative experimentation and complex poetic imagery. The lightly surrealistic feel of her stories is well suited to the inner worlds of the female characters she inhabits. Occasionally, unusual or ambiguous details are mentioned in passing without explanation; they hover in the back of the mind while reading, but never resurface. This soft touch of magical realism is a pleasure, reminding a bit of some of Marquez' work, or again Ocampo's, yet it remains contained within the private, proto-feminist, nature-connected worlds she creates. I was particularly taken with the title story, in which the characterization and interaction takes place over the backdrop of unexplained islands emerging from the depths of a nearby lake.

According to the Latin American Fiction in Translation bibliography that we often refer to, compiled by Joao Barretto in 2004, there are three titles available in English by Bombal, "House of Mist", "New Islands", and "The Shrouded Woman", although it seems to me that these three collections overlap, each containing some of the same two novellas and short stories. The copy of "New Islands" I have doesn't contain 'The Shrouded Woman", but has the story "The Final Mist" as well as four others. Whether these other volumes contain different versions of the same stories, of which I have seen mention, or simply a few stories not available in this volume, there is unfortunately little of her small output available at this time.

As for availability, I haven't seen too many of these floating around used, but it seems that there are three editions currently in print that we could try to order for anyone interested in trying some out: "New Islands" is available in an edition from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, who have also done an edition of "House of Mist", while the University of Texas Press published an edition of "House of Mist - The Shrouded Woman" as a part of their Texas Pan American series.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hey Kids! Comics!

Here are some preview pages from two upcoming comics taken more or less directly from great books:

First up, we have five pages of BOOM! Studios's 24-issue serialization of Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? This is not an adaptation, but rather the entire text of the short story laid out over comic book pages. They even kept the "he said/she said" bits.

Each issue will feature essays by various writers on how PKD influenced their own work. The first issue will feature cranky Warren Ellis, and then Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker, and Farscape creator Rockne O'Bannon.

Click here for the preview pages as well as a bit more info about the project.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? #1 of 24 ships in June.

On the other end of the genre spectrum, Canadian comic artist Darwyn Cooke is adapting the Richard Stark (who we all know is Donald Westlake, right?) Parker series into graphic novels for IDW Publishing. First up is The Hunter.

IDW Publishing has posted 19 pages for your pre-appreciation here.

The Hunter is on sale in July.


Both of these fine adaptations will be available for purchase from better comic book stores in your area. For those of you in Vancouver, two such awesome stores are:

RX Comics, 2418 Main Street, 604.454.5099, Pulpfiction's Main Street neighbour


Elfsar Comics, 1007 Hamilton Street (in Yaletown), 604.688.5922

(FULL DISCLOSURE: I also work at Elfsar, and am a large part of what makes it so awesome. -J.N.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bruce Serafin's STARDUST wins Edna Staebler Award

Bruce Serafin, close friend of the shop, founder of The Vancouver Review, and one of Canada's best writers. Bruce passed away in 2007. His excellent Stardust, a collection of review essays and short prose memoirs, just won Wilfred Laurier University's 2008 Enda Staebler Award for Creative Nonfiction. This Friday, April 24th, in conjuction with WLU and Bruce's publisher, New Star Books, we're hosting an award ceremony. 7-9pm at the Main Street store. Light refreshments. A reading. & etc.

Everyone is welcome to attend.

PFB Profiled in The National Post!

Brief profile/interview in today's Post.

"Q: A reader has just finished Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep. What would you recommend next?

A: Australian Garry Disher's numerous crime novels, now available in Canada through Soho Crime. Almost anything by Ross MacDonald. Charles Williams (especially A Touch of Death, recently reprinted by Hard Case Crime). Centipede Press' new David Goodis and Fredric Brown reprints. Maybe even Don Winslow's terrific California Fire and Life."

(Photo of the Main Street shop by flickr user Sashafatcat)

Monday, April 20, 2009

"Read Any Good Books Lately?"

Yes: Paul Bowles, The Spider's House (1955).

The Washington Post concurs:

"As Francine Prose suggests in her introduction to the new Ecco paperback edition, The Spider's House should be read by anyone with an interest in either Morocco or terrorism. 'It's very, very strange and disturbing, this place,' observes a lady friend of [the protagonist]'s. 'I don't quite see how you can stay in it. It would be like being constantly under the influence of some drug, to live here. I should think going out of it could be terribly painful, when you've been here a long time.' Bowles also delves into the desperation underlying jihads launched at civilians, no matter where they occur: 'It was not independence they [the terrorists] wanted, it was a satisfaction much more immediate than that: the pleasure of seeing others undergo the humiliation of suffering and dying, and the knowledge that they had at least the small amount of power necessary to bring about that humiliation.'"

Amazon to Kindle Users: Drop Dead

Weekend update:

Some starry-eyed Kindle owners finally wake up to the fact that they don't "own" their Kindle content; all they own is rented "access," which can be switched off pretty much whenever Amazon chooses. Best of the article's many insights: "A bookstore that locks you out because you treated it like a library doesn't take away the collection already sitting on your bookshelf."

JG Ballard, author of The Crystal World, The Drowned World, Vermilion Sands, Crash, The Atrocity Exhibition, and many other peerless works of experimental science fiction, dies, aged 78.

New used bookstore opens in Toronto. I don't know what this guy's stock is like, not yet having visited, but I totally covet his couch. Nb. banana box just above the couch, perfectly sized for transporting used mass-market paperbacks.

Spring @ PFB

Front door open, little pink cornflake-shaped petals from the cherry tree outside blowing in across the carpet.

Lots of new stock in-house. The blog wasn't updated last week because all our time was spent receiving and processing a collection of 1000+ scholarly books (Charles Olson; Ezra Pound much BC poetry and "little mags"), building a new set of shelves for the front room, to better display our ever-expanding selection of new books, and psyching ourselves up for another big collection of scholarly books, 12 or 15 boxes of them, that's arriving later today or early tomorrow.

New titles in house: all of Bruce Sterling's currently in-print pocket books, Raymond Chandler, David Goodis, Charles Willeford, Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son, in an affordable edition (as opposed to the $17CDN mass market paperback that exactly no one bought) , etc.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Now in Stock: Hard Case Crime

Regular customers have been asking us to carry Hard Case Crime's excellent line-up of vintage repackaged noir and new hard-boiled titles for some time now, and our initial order just arrived, including books by Lawrence Block, David Goodis, Donald Westlake, and the almost criminally underrated Charles Williams. Also coming soon: books by Fredric Brown, Charles Willeford, Jim Thompson, and even more David Goodis.

(Illustrated: Charles Williams' A Touch of Death, one of the finest noir novels ever written)

Buying Update, April 2009

Unlike many other bookstores in the Pacific Northwest, we are still actively buying books for cash.

We are particularly interested in the following:

• Recent mass market science fiction, fantasy, and mystery paperbacks (cover price $9.99+ CDN)

• Literary classics in either mass market paperback or trade paperback (examples: Orwell, Dostoevsky, Huxley, Woolf, Austen, Faulkner)

• Trade paperback "literary" fiction, (examples: Roberto Bolano, Kurt Vonnegut, David Foster Wallace, Elizabeth Gilbert, Elizabeth Hay)

• Trade paperback "popular" nonfiction (examples: Jerad Diamond, David Quammen, Steven Pinker)

• Classic children's lit (examples: Richard Scarry, Roald Dahl, later J.K. Rowling)

• Nicely illustrated cookbooks

• Philosophy and cultural studies (examples: Agamben, Adorno, Benjamin, Foucault, Arendt, Zizek)

• Graphic novels

• Any author/title that we carry new.

We consider books for purchase at both stores every day up until 5pm. There's no need to phone unless you're bringing 100+ boxes of books; simply show up and we'll be pleased to go through what you have. Please note that we do not buy textbooks, computer books, ex-library books, trashed or damaged books, series romance, and very common mass-market paperbacks (examples: Mary Higgins Clark, Danielle Steel, John Grisham).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Build Your Own Letterpress!

Details here. Assistance and general aesthetic solidarity available up Main Street from our friends at The Regional Assembly of Text.

Brand-new edition of Easton and Hardy's The Ethical Slut, #1 special-ordered book of all time up at Main Street. Published by Greenery Press, distributors of many fine sex-positive titles, including Jay Wiseman's excellent SM 101 and the Erotic Bondage Handbook.

"The Ethical Slut discusses how to live an active life with multiple concurrent sexual relationships in a fair and honest way. Discussion topics include how to deal with the practical difficulties and opportunities in finding and keeping partners, maintaining relationships with others, and strategies for personal growth."

(Entertaining OK test based on the book here)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ian Rankin on Comics

Via staff comics guy James N:

Ian Rankin, best-selling author of the Inspector Rebus series, will have his first graphic novel released this summer. It's kicking off DC Comics/Vertigo's new crime imprint and stars London's occult detective, John Constantine.

Comics website Newsarama featured a two-part interview with Rankin about Dark Entries, his love of comics, and his approach to writing for a new medium.

Part One; Part Two

NRAMA: See, I was going to ask if you were going to have Constantine going to Edinburgh...

IR: Sadly, no. It’s mostly set in a haunted house in England. So it’s his territory – rather than take him to mine, I’ve gone to his territory. And he’s got a gig as a psychic investigator. It’s sort of like of those reality game shows where people are locked up together, but there’s a haunting going on, and people are starting to disappear, which is great for the ratings. But Constantine is brought in to see if he can solve the mystery.
So I structured it almost like Ten Little Indians, you know, the Agatha Christie mystery, where people are disappearing one at a time. It’s sort of tongue-in-cheek.

NRAMA: So this won’t have a supernatural element...?

IR: Oh, it will. Big time.

NRAMA: I was wondering about that, because of the nature of the crime line.

IR: Oh, yeah. But I had to be true to Constantine’s universe, and he’s always battling demons. So there were always going to be demons in the story. It wouldn’t just be a haunted house scenario; it would grow and grow until we had the demons of Hell involved. Which is something I don’t normally get to write about, so it was quite fun.

But what appeals to me is that he’s like a private eye. He’s got the coat, and he’s shambling around with the bottle of Scotch on the table when he goes home at night, and he takes these cases where he just gets sucked in. There’s a mystery he’s trying to unfold, and he operates almost like the Sam Spade character from classic American crime fiction, only with a horror twist, a supernatural twist.

Plus, he doesn’t have superpowers. He can’t fly. And he’s not a billionaire, so he can’t afford to build a flying ship or a rubberized suit that’ll take bullets and things. He’s only got his own wits that he lives by. He’s as human as you and I. Well, there’s the question as to whether he has some demon blood running through him, but that’s making this more difficult to discuss. (laughs)

And he’s fallible. He’s very fallible. People get killed around him, and it’s his fault sometimes. He screws up. And that’s what I like about him.

Rankin isn't the first best-selling novelist to write for DC Comics:
  • Fellow Scot Denise Mina wrote two Hellblazer graphic novels (Empathy is the Enemy and The Red Right Hand), and helped Rankin adapt his scripts for his artist.
  • Greg Rucka, author of the Atticus Kodiak thrillers, has written many excellent Batman stories and gave us a worm's eye view of Gotham City through its corrupt police department in Gotham Central.
  • Brad Meltzer wrote a murder mystery that drew attention from all of DC's superhumans in Identity Crisis as well as launched the latest version of the Justice League of America.
  • Even Jodi Picoult has written a Wonder Woman graphic novel.
  • Paul DiFillipo, Mike Carey, Peter David, Douglas Rushkoff, and of course, Neil Gaiman are some of the other authors who have graced comics with their literary genius.
Dark Entries will be available from us in August, and the other graphic novels mentioned can be special ordered today.

Kem Nunn's The Dogs of Winter -- excellent surf-noir novel set on California's Lost Coast, now in stock at Main Street.

"The Dogs of Winter is a book of big, dark moods. It has about it an electric gloom, part of which has to do with crimes and obsessions, and part with the vivid portraits of the decaying reservations and lumber towns and the cold, cloudy, jagged coastal landscape of Northern California. But most of which has to do with the hard specificity and somber music of Nunn's prose."

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"Amazon's Gonna Put You Out of Business!"

...or not.

"[H]ow does the publishing industry fund the creation, editing, design, production, marketing, e-warehousing, and sales of ebooks, if the income isn’t there? How do ebooks cover the huge advances needed to buy books if we cannot generate the cash, especially at their extremely low, discounted prices, [to] cover the advances that an entire industry has come to require? The answer is that ebooks, alone, cannot."

Are You Still Buying Books?

We consider books for purchase up to 5pm on any day of the week, including the first of the month, which means lots of new stock on the shelves. Today's arrivals include a run of David Gemmell pocket fantasy paperbacks, lots of new titles by Steve Erickson and Terry Pratchett (20+ titles!), and much interesting nonfiction, including facsimile reprints of Canadian classic cookbooks The Five Roses Cookbook and the Purity Cookbook (above).

Geraldine Brooks' People of the Book -- another repeat special order converted into a permanently in-stock title. Winner of the 2008 Australian Publishers Association's Literary Fiction Book of the Year, and a favorite of several local book clubs.

"In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed manuscript, which has been rescued once again from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with figurative paintings. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding—an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair—she becomes determined to unlock the book’s mysteries. As she seeks the counsel of scientists and specialists, the reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book’s journey from its creation to its salvation."