A sharply written, thorough, and loving tribute to a modern-day cinema classic.

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YOU'VE GOT RED ON YOU

HOW SHAUN OF THE DEAD WAS BROUGHT TO LIFE

Entertainment Weekly senior writer Collis’ debut nonfiction work tells the story of how a much-beloved zombie movie made its way to the big screen.

Filmmaker Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead has achieved revered cult status in the years since its 2004 release. This book follows its creative journey, starting with Wright’s love of movies during his childhood in England. This section gives readers an early taste of the films that would influence his work, such as John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London (1981) and Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead II (1987). Wright eventually directed the two-season U.K. comedy series Spaced, which starred its co-creator, Simon Pegg. Inspired by one of the show’s episodes, in which Pegg’s character plays a zombie-themed video game, Wright and the actor wrote an unusual screenplay: a rom-com with zombies. Fascinating, comprehensive interviews with Wright, Pegg, producer Nira Park, Nick Frost (Pegg’s best friend and co-star), and many others provide insight into the film’s production. Wright was pitching a film in a genre whose popularity was waning in Britain, and several box-office bombs forced Shaun’s original production company to shut down. Things hardly improved on set; Wright describes frequent clashes with a more experienced director of photography. Overall, Collis’ book is as entertaining as the movie it spotlights. It’s chock-full of curious tidbits; for example, users of Spaced Out (a Spaced fan site) were recruited as zombie extras, and Wright’s 48-hour binge of the video game “Resident Evil 3” inspired memorable scenes in his movie. There’s also welcome appreciation of Wright and Pegg’s immensely clever script, in which an early, humorous monologue foreshadows the movie’s entire plot. Collis’ tightly organized book includes meticulous details of day-to-day filming, which complement pages of set photos, promotional materials, and, best of all, storyboards sketched by Wright and his older brother Oscar. At the end, the author effectively brings readers up to date on the post-Shaun lives of the cast and crew; Wright, for example, went on to helm the well-regarded action film Baby Driver (2017).

A sharply written, thorough, and loving tribute to a modern-day cinema classic.

Pub Date: Nov. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-948221-15-3

Page Count: 424

Publisher: 1984 Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Red meat, and mighty tasty at that, for baseball fans with an appreciation for the past and power of the game.

THE BASEBALL 100

Longtime sports journalist Posnanski takes on a project fraught with the possibilities of controversy: ranking the 100 best baseball players of all time.

It would steal the author’s thunder to reveal his No. 1. However, writing about that player, Posnanski notes, “the greatest baseball player is the one who lifts you higher and makes you feel exactly like you did when you fell in love with this crazy game in the first place.” Working backward, his last-but-not-least place is occupied by Japanese outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, whose valiant hitting rivaled Pete Rose’s, mostly a base at a time. As for Rose, who comes in at No. 60, Posnanski writes, “here’s something people don’t often say about the young Pete Rose, but it’s true: The guy was breathtakingly fast.” Thus, in his first pro season, Rose stole 30 bases and hit 30 triples. That he was somewhat of a lout is noted but exaggerated. Posnanski skillfully weaves statistics into the narrative without spilling into geekdom, and he searches baseball history for his candidate pool while combing the records for just the right datum or quote: No. 10 Satchel Paige on No. 15 Josh Gibson: “You look for his weakness, and while you’re looking for it he’s liable to hit 45 home runs.” Several themes emerge, one being racial injustice. As Posnanski notes of “the greatest Negro Leagues players....people tend to talk about them as if there is some doubt about their greatness.” There’s not, as No. 94, Roy Campanella, among many others, illustrates. He was Sicilian, yes, but also Black, then reason enough to banish him to the minors until finally calling him up in 1948. Another significant theme is the importance of fathers in shaping players, from Mickey Mantle to Cal Ripken and even Rose. Posnanski’s account of how the Cy Young Award came about is alone worth the price of admission.

Red meat, and mighty tasty at that, for baseball fans with an appreciation for the past and power of the game.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982180-58-4

Page Count: 880

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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