Posted on

Newly Published: A Worldbuilder’s Guide to Magic

New on our bookshelf:

A Worldbuilder’s Guide to Magic: Essentials for Writers, Game Developers and Dungeon Masters
Brent A. Stypczynski

Constructing a functional system of magic that helps readers suspend disbelief is a crucial part of worldbuilding in the fantasy genres. Yet creating a believable, compelling and original fictional universe can be daunting. To help inspire writers, this guide provides an overview of how magic has been understood in history and used in myth, legend and modern fiction. Different forms of magic are explored and a broad range of stories—from Nordic myths to modern novels—are described and referenced. Discussion explores how magic as a concept shapes, and is shaped by, fictional worlds and societies.

Posted on

Newly Published: The Transmedia Vampire

New on our bookshelf:

The Transmedia Vampire: Essays on Technological Convergence and the Undead
Edited by Simon Bacon

This book explores vampire narratives that have been expressed across multiple media and new technologies. Stories and characters such as Dracula, Carmilla and even Draculaura from Monster High have been made more “real” through their depictions in narratives produced in and across different platforms. This also allows the consumer to engage on multiple levels with the “vampire world,” blurring the boundaries between real and imaginary realms and allowing for different kinds of identity to be created while questioning terms such as “author,” “reader,” “player” and “consumer.” These essays investigate the consequences of such immersion and why the undead world of the transmedia vampire is so well suited to life in the 21st century.

Posted on

Newly Published: Encyclopedia of Television Miniseries, 1936–2020

New on our bookshelf:

Encyclopedia of Television Miniseries, 1936–2020
Vincent Terrace

In 1936, as television networks CBS, DuMont, and NBC experimented with new ways to provide entertainment, NBC deviated from the traditional method of single experimental programs to broadcast the first multi-part program, Love Nest, over a three-episode arc. This would come to be known as a miniseries. Although the term was not coined until 1954, several other such miniseries were broadcast, including Jack and the Beanstalk and Women in Wartime.

In the mid–1960s the concept was developed into a genre that still exists. While the major broadcast networks pioneered the idea, it quickly became popular with cable and streaming services. This encyclopedic source contains a detailed history of 878 TV miniseries broadcast from 1936 to 2020, complete with casts, networks, credits, episode count and detailed plot information.

Posted on

Newly Published: Nineties to Now

New on our bookshelf:

Nineties to Now: The Evolution of American Popular Culture
Matthew McKeever

What is it actually like to live today? It’s an era where world politics play out on Twitter, and where the gig economy has made the nine-to-five job an object of aspiration rather than dread. Rates of mental illness are soaring, inequality predominates everything and much of life is contained in our phones. The core idea of this book is that we can only understand what life is like now by comparing it to previous times to see what has changed, what is genuinely new, and what is a continuation of existing trends. Providing original analyses of a range of seminal works of 90s pop culture, this book extracts a core set of concepts—such as irony, branding, and media—that defined the 90s. It demonstrates how these concepts are expressed in both those works and in the art of today. Presenting close history in a new light, this book helps us understand today by framing it in terms of yesterday.

Posted on

Newly Published: Puppet Master Complete

New on our bookshelf:

Puppet Master Complete: A Franchise History
Nat Brehmer

This book is a comprehensive history of the most successful straight-to-video horror franchise of all time: Puppet Master. It provides an in-depth exploration of all 14 films to date—including a made-for-TV crossover and a theatrical reboot—and the action figures, comics, and other merchandise that have helped to keep the brand alive for the past 30 years. Puppet Master was the first film for independent producer extraordinaire Charles Band’s Full Moon Entertainment, launching a franchise and a micro-budget studio that have both continued to this day. What led to the film’s success? How did a little movie about killer puppets, designed to cater to the then-booming video market, wind up surviving video stores themselves? How did a series that had never even had a theatrical entry wind up with an unusually successful toy series? All of these questions are answered within these pages. Featuring new interviews with some of the biggest creative minds behind the franchise, as well as dozens of behind-the-scenes photos, this book is the ultimate guide to horror’s most murderous marionettes.

Posted on

Newly Published: The Adventures of Ozzie Nelson

New on our bookshelf:

The Adventures of Ozzie Nelson: The Life and Career of America’s Favorite Pop
John R. Holmes

When Ozzie Nelson died in 1975, he was no longer a household name. For a guy who had created the longest-running TV sitcom in history, invented the rock video, and fronted one of the most successful big bands of the 1930s, it’s baffling that Nelson has faded so far from American media memory. Larger than life offscreen—an attorney, college football star, cartoonist, songwriter, major band leader—Ozzie created a smaller-than-life TV persona, the bumbling average Dad who became known to the rock generation (which included his teen idol son Rick Nelson) as the essence of blandness. But America also saw Ozzie as their iconic Dad: not a “father knows best,” since his pontifications usually proved flawed by the end of each episode, but the father who tried his best.

This book is the only full-length biography of Ozzie Nelson since he published his memoirs in 1973. It treats the big band and early TV icon with affection and hints that American pop culture may owe more to Ozzie than is generally acknowledged.

Posted on

Newly Published: Women and Mixed Race Representation in Film

New on our bookshelf:

Women and Mixed Race Representation in Film: Eight Star Profiles
Valerie C. Gilbert

This book uses a black/white interracial lens to examine the lives and careers of eight prominent American-born actresses from the silent age through the studio era, New Hollywood, and into the present century: Josephine Baker, Nina Mae McKinney, Fredi Washington, Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, Lonette McKee, Jennifer Beals and Halle Berry. Combining biography with detailed film readings, the author fleshes out the tragic mulatto stereotype, while at the same time exploring concepts and themes such as racial identity, the one-drop rule, passing, skin color, transracial adoption, interracial romance, and more. With a wealth of background information, this study also places these actresses in historical context, providing insight into the construction of race, both onscreen and off.

Posted on

Newly Published: The Mythic Mr. Lincoln

New on our bookshelf:

The Mythic Mr. Lincoln: America’s Favorite President in Multimedia Fiction
Jeff O’Bryant

Honest Abe. The rail-splitter. The Great Emancipator. Old Abe. These are familiar monikers of Abraham Lincoln. They describe a man who has influenced the lives of everyday people as well as notables like Leo Tolstoy, Marilyn Monroe, and Winston Churchill. But there is also a multitude of fictional Lincolns almost as familiar as the original: time traveler, android, monster hunter. This book explores Lincoln’s evolution from martyred president to cultural icon and the struggle between the Lincoln of history and his fictional progeny. He has been Simpsonized by Matt Groening, charmed by Shirley Temple, and emulated by the Lone Ranger. Devotees have attempted to clone him or to raise him from the dead. Lincoln’s image and memory have been invoked to fight communism, mock a sitting president, and sell products. Lincoln has even been portrayed as the greatest example of goodness humanity has to offer. In short, Lincoln is the essential American myth.

Posted on

Newly Published: Beyond the Living Dead

New on our bookshelf:

Beyond the Living Dead: Essays on the Romero Legacy
Edited by Bruce Peabody and Gloria Pastorino

In 1968, George Romero’s film Night of the Living Dead premiered, launching a growing preoccupation with zombies within mass and literary fiction, film, television, and video games. Romero’s creativity and enduring influence make him a worthy object of inquiry in his own right, and his long career helps us take stock of the shifting interest in zombies since the 1960s. Examining his work promotes a better understanding of the current state of the zombie and where it is going amidst the political and social turmoil of the twenty-first century.

These new essays document, interpret, and explain the meaning of the still-budding Romero legacy, drawing cross-disciplinary perspectives from such fields as literature, political science, philosophy, and comparative film studies. Essays consider some of the sources of Romero’s inspiration (including comics, science fiction, and Westerns), chart his influence as a storyteller and a social critic, and consider the legacy he leaves for viewers, artists, and those studying the living dead.

Posted on

Newly Published: Judge, Jury and Executioner

New on our boookshelf:

Judge, Jury and Executioner: Essays on The Punisher in Print and on Screen
Edited by Alicia M. Goodman, Matthew J. McEniry, Ryan Cassidy and Robert G. Weiner

Since the Punisher’s first appearance in the pages of Spider-Man #129, the character has become one of the most popular and controversial figures in Marvel’s vast universe. The Punisher represents one of the most recognizable types of anti-heroes. His iconic skull insignia stands for a unique type of justice: protecting the innocent while violently eliminating everyone he sees as a villain. This collection examines the Punisher from philosophical perspectives about morality and justice. Essays critique the character through the lenses of gender and feminism; consider the Punisher’s veteran status in relation the Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq wars; and examine how politics and gun violence connect the Punisher’s world with the real world. Many iterations of the Punisher are examined within, including the Netflix release of Marvel’s The Punisher, comics series such as Punisher: MAX, Marvel Knights, and Cosmic Ghost Rider, and several fan fiction stories.

Posted on

Newly Published: Radio Psychics

New on our bookshelf:

Radio Psychics: Mind Reading and Fortune Telling in American Broadcasting, 1920–1940
John Benedict Buescher

When radio broadcasting began in the early 1920s, the radio was a magic box aglow with the future, drawing humanity into a new age. Some thought it would dissolve the distance between time and place, others that human minds would become transparent, one tuned to another. Performers claiming psychic powers turned radio broadcasting into a fabulous money machine. These “mentalists,” born from vaudeville, circuses, sideshows, and the Spiritualist and New Thought movements of the mid-late 19th century, used the language of wireless technology to explain their ability to see the past, present, and future. Casting their mystical knowledge as a scientifically honed craft, these mentalists persuaded millions to pay for dubious advice until governmental and public pressures forced them off the air.

This book is a history of over 25 performers who practiced their art behind studio microphones during the early years of radio broadcasting, from about 1920 to 1940. Here, laid out for the first time, is the tale of how they made cash rain from the heavens and harnessed the sensation of the radio in search of wealth, health, love, and success.

Posted on

New in Softcover: Forry

Now available in softcover:
 
By Deborah Painter
 
https://mcfarlandbooks.com/product/forry-p/

Forrest J Ackerman (1916–2008) was an author, archivist, agent, actor, promoter, and editor of the iconic fan magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland; a founder of science fiction fandom; and one of the world’s foremost collectors of sci-fi, horror and fantasy films, literature, and memorabilia.

This biography begins with a foreword by Joe Moe, Ackerman’s caregiver and close friend since 1982. It documents Ackerman’s lifelong dedication to his work in both literature and film; his interests, travels, relationships and associations with famous personalities; and his lasting impact on popular culture. Primary research material includes letters given by Ackerman to the author during their long friendship, and numerous reminiscences from Ackerman’s friends, fans and colleagues.

Posted on

Newly Published: The Science of Sci-Fi Cinema

New on our bookshelf:

The Science of Sci-Fi Cinema: Essays on the Art and Principles of Ten Films
Edited by Vincent Piturro

Science fiction films present hypothetical futures, featuring imagined technological advancements—not yet realized but perhaps (more or less) plausible. Yet how much of what audiences see is within the bounds of possibility? Can we really envision what a black hole looks like? Can dinosaurs really be genetically re-engineered? Originating from an annual Science Fiction Film Series in Denver, Colorado, this volume of essays examines 10 films, with a focus on discerning the possible, the unlikely, and the purely science fictional. With essays by scientists in relevant fields, chapters provide analyses of the movies themselves, along with examination of the actual science (or lack thereof) in each film.

Posted on

Newly Published: Dead Man’s Curve

New on our bookshelf:

Dead Man’s Curve: The Rock ’n’ Roll Life of Jan Berry
Mark A. Moore

Jan Berry, leader of the music duo Jan & Dean from the late 1950s to mid-1960s, was an intense character who experienced more in his first 25 years than many do in a lifetime. As an architect of the West Coast sound, he was one of rock ‘n’ roll’s original rebels—brilliant, charismatic, reckless, and flawed. As a songwriter, music arranger, and record producer for Nevin-Kirshner Associates and Screen Gems-Columbia Music, Berry was one of the pioneering self-produced artists of his era in Hollywood. He lived a dual life, reaching the top of the charts with Jan & Dean while transitioning from college student to medical student, until an automobile accident in 1966 changed his trajectory forever. Suffering from brain damage and partial paralysis, Jan spent the rest of his life trying to come back from Dead Man’s Curve.

His story is told here in-depth for the first time, based on extensive primary source documentation and supplemented by the stories and memories of Jan’s family members, friends, music industry colleagues, and contemporaries. From the birth of rock to the bitter end, Berry’s life story is thrilling, humorous, unsettling, and disturbing, yet ultimately uplifting.

Posted on

Newly Published: Screening American Nostalgia

New on our bookshelf:

Screening American Nostalgia: Essays on Pop Culture Constructions of Past Times
Edited by Susan Flynn and Antonia Mackay

This book examines American screen culture and its power to create and sustain values. Looking specifically at the ways in which nostalgia colors the visions of American life, essays explore contemporary American ideology as it is created and sustained by the screen. Nostalgia is omnipresent, selling a version of America that arguably never existed. Current socio-cultural challenges are played out onscreen and placed within the historical milieu through a nostalgic lens which is tempered by contemporary conservatism. Essays reveal not only the visual catalog of recognizable motifs but also how these are used to temper the uncertainty of contemporary crises. Media covered spans from 1939’s Gone with the Wind, to Stranger Things, The Americans, Twin Peaks, the Fallout franchise and more.

Posted on

Newly Published: Adapting Stephen King

New on our bookshelf:

Adapting Stephen King: Volume 1, Carrie, ’Salem’s Lot and The Shining from Novel to Screenplay
Joseph Maddrey

Stephen King’s fiction has formed the basis of more motion picture adaptations than any other living author. Over half a century since his earliest publications, Hollywood filmmakers continue to reinvent, reimagine, remake, and reboot King’s stories, with mixed results. This book, volume 1 in a series, examines the various screen adaptations of King’s first three novels: Carrie, Salem’s Lot, and The Shining. Reaching further than questions of fidelity to the author and adherence to directorial visions, it charts the development of each individual adaptation from first option to final cut. Through old and new interviews with the writers, producers, and directors of these films–as well as in-depth analyses of produced and unproduced screenplays–it illuminates the adaptation process as an intricately collaborative endeavor. Rather than merely synopsize the resulting stories, its goal is to compare, contrast, and contextualize each of these adaptations as the products of their creators.

Posted on

Newly Published: Hosted Horror on Television

New on our bookshelf:

Hosted Horror on Television: The Films and Faces of Shock Theate, Creature Features and Chiller Theater
Bruce Markusen

In October 1957, Screen Gems made numerous horror movies available to local television stations around the country as part of a package of films called Shock Theater. These movies became a huge sensation with TV viewers, as did the horror hosts who introduced the films and offered insight—often humorous—into the plots, the actors, and the directors. This history of hosted horror walks readers through the best TV horror films, beginning with the 1930s black-and-white classics from Universal Studios and ending with the grislier color films of the early 1970s. It also covers and explores the horror hosts who presented them, some of whom faded into obscurity while others became iconic within the genre.

Posted on

Newly Published: Global Horror Cinema Today

New on our bookshelf:

Global Horror Cinema Today: 28 Representative Films from 17 Countries
Jon Towlson

The horror film is thriving worldwide. Filmmakers in countries as diverse as the USA, Australia, Israel, Spain, France, Great Britain, Iran, and South Korea are using the horror genre to address the emerging fears and anxieties of their cultures. This book investigates horror cinema around the globe with an emphasis on how the genre has developed in the past ten years. It closely examines 28 international films, including It Follows (2014), Grave (Raw, 2016), Busanhaeng (Train to Busan, 2016), and Get Out (2016), with discussions of dozens more. Each chapter focuses on a different country, analyzing what frightens the people of these various nations and the ways in which horror crosses over to international audiences.

Posted on

Newly Published: Edward Dmytryk

New on our bookshelf:

Edward Dmytryk: Reassessing His Films and Life
Fintan McDonagh

Edward Dmytryk was one of the so-called “Hollywood Ten” jailed for contempt of Congress for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947.

Finding himself blacklisted after his prison sentence and unable to operate under a pseudonym, he took the step of testifying and naming names to the Committee. His career resumed to considerable commercial success, but also to prolonged and bitter criticism from the left and persistent mistrust from the right. Acknowledged as one of the key figures in the development of the film noir genre, having directed one of its first films, Murder, My Sweet, Dmytryk has otherwise frequently been sidelined in critical studies because of the controversy. This book is the first to critically evaluate each of the dozens of films he made between the 1930s and the 1970s including The Young Lions, Crossfire and The Caine Mutiny, among many others.

Posted on

Newly Published: The Musical World of Marie-Antoinette

New on our bookshelf:

The Musical World of Marie-Antoinette: Opera and Ballet in 18th Century Paris and Versailles
Barrington James

For decades, eighteenth-century Paris had been declining into a baroque backwater. Spectacles at the opera, once considered fit for a king, had become “hell for the ears,” wrote playwright Carlos Goldoni. Then, in 1774, with the crowning of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, Paris became one of the world’s most vibrant musical centers.

Austrian composer Christophe-Willibald Gluck, protégé of the queen, introduced a new kind of tragic opera—dramatic, human and closer to nature. The expressive pantomime known as ballet d’action, forerunner of the modern ballet, replaced stately court dancing. Along the boulevards, people whistled lighter tunes from the Italian opera, where the queen’s favorite composer, André Modeste Grétry, ruled supreme.

This book recounts Gluck’s remaking of the grand operatic tragedy—long symbolic of absolute monarchy—and the vehement quarrels between those who embraced reform and those who preferred familiar baroque tunes or the sweeter melodies of Italy. The turmoil was an important element in the ferment that led to the French Revolution and the beheading of the queen.

Posted on

Newly Published: The Metatheater of Tennessee Williams

New on our bookshelf:

The Metatheater of Tennessee Williams: Tracing the Artistic Process Through Seven Plays
Laura Michiels

Tennessee Williams’ characters set the stage for their own dramas. Blanche DuBois (A Streetcar Named Desire), arrived at her sister’s apartment with an entire trunk of costumes and props. Amanda Wingfield (The Glass Menagerie) directed her son on how to eat and tries to make her daughter act like a Southern Belle.

This book argues for the persistence of one metatheatrical strategy running throughout Williams’ entire oeuvre: each play stages the process through which it came into being–and this process consists of a variation on repetition combined with transformation. Each chapter takes a detailed reading of one play and its variation on repetition and transformation. Specific topics include reproduction in Sweet Bird of Youth (1959), mediation in Something Cloudy, Something Clear (1981), and how the playwright frequently recycled previous works of art, including his own.

Posted on

Newly Published: Islands and Captivity in Popular Culture

New on our bookshelf:

Islands and Captivity in Popular Culture: A Critical Study of Film, Television and Literature
Laura J. Getty

The choices that individuals make in moments of crisis can transform them. By focusing on fictional characters trapped on fictional islands, the book examines how individuals react when forced to make hard choices within the liminal space of a “prison” island. At stake is the perception of choice: do characters believe that they have the power to choose, or do they think that they are at the mercy of fate? The results reveal certain patterns—psychological, historical, social, and political—that exist across a variety of popular/public cultures and time periods.

This book focuses on how the interplay between liminality and the Locus of Control theory creates dynamic sites of negotiated meaning. This psychological concept has never before been used for literary analysis. Offered here as an alternative to the defects of Freudian psychology, the Locus of Control theory has been proven reliable in thousands of studies, and the results have been found, with few exceptions, to be consistent in both women and men. That consistency is explored through close readings of islands found in popular culture books, films, and television shows, with suggestions for future research.

Posted on

Newly Published: Elio Petri

New on our bookshelf:

Elio Petri: Investigation of a Filmmaker
Roberto Curti

Elio Petri (1929-1982) was one of the most commercially successful and critically revered Italian directors ever. A cultured intellectual and a politically committed filmmaker, Petri made award-winning movies that touched controversial social, religious, and political themes, such as the Mafia in We Still Kill the Old Way (1967), police brutality in Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970), and workers’ struggles in Lulu the Tool (1971). His work also explored genre in a thought-provoking and refreshing manner with a taste for irony and the grotesque: among his best works are the science fiction satire The 10th Victim (1965), the ghost story A Quiet Place in the Country (1968), and the grotesque giallo Todo modo (1976). This book examines Elio Petri’s life and career, and places his work within the social and political context of postwar Italian culture, politics, and cinema. It includes a detailed production history and critical analysis of each of his films, plenty of never-before-seen bits of information recovered from the Italian ministerial archives, and an in-depth discussion of the director’s unfilmed projects.

Posted on

Newly Published: Walking the Camino de Santiago

New on our bookshelf:

Walking the Camino de Santiago: Essays on Pilgrimage in the Twenty-First Century
Edited by Tiffany Gagliardi Trotman

The Camino de Santiago, the Route of Saint James, the Way—all describe a pilgrimage with multiple routes that pass through Spain and end at the Cathedral of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela. In the 21st century, this medieval tradition is seeing a revival with travelers, both spiritual and secular, who embrace it for different reasons. Offering insight into the personal journeys of contemporary pilgrims, this collection of new essays explores cultural expressions of the Camino from the perspective of literature, film and graphic novels, and looks beyond Spain and the “Caminoisation” of other historical routes.

Posted on

Newly Published: The New Witches

New on our bookshelf:

The New Witches: Critical Essays on 21st Century Television Portrayals
Edited by Aaron K.H. Ho

After Charmed ended in 2006, witches were relegated to sidekicks of televisual vampires or children’s programs. But during the mid-2010s they began to resurface as leading characters in shows like the immensely popular The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the Charmed reboot, Salem, American Horror Story: Coven, and the British program, A Discovery of Witches. No longer sweet, feminine, domestic, and white, these witches are powerful, diverse, and transgressive, representing an intersectional third-wave feminist vision of the witch. Featuring original essays from noted scholars, this is the first critical collection to examine witches on television from the late 2010s. Situated in the aftermath of the #MeToo movement, essays examine the reemergence and shifting identities of TV witches through the perspectives of intersectional gender studies, hauntology, politics, morality, monstrosity, violence, queerness, disabilities, rape, ecofeminism, linguistics, family, and digital humanities.

Posted on

New Harry Potter Catalog and Sale

Happy Birthday Harry Potter (and happy birthday, Neville Longbottom)! In honor of “The Boy Who Lived,” we’re introducing this year’s catalog sale dedicated to all things Hogwarts. Find detailed characterizations of your favorite wizards and witches, deep dives into the series’ many literary allegories and sociologies on the fandom at large. Our 2021 Harry Potter catalog has magic in store for the film buffs, bookworms and anyone in between. From now through August 9, use coupon code HOGWARTS25 on the McFarland site for 25% off our Harry Potter catalog.

Posted on

Newly Published: The Language of Vinyl

New on our bookshelf:

The Language of Vinyl: Record Industry Terms and Phrases of the Golden Era
Randy McNutt

Ever hear of a butt splice? A cover? An iron mother? A biscuit? These were terms used in the heyday of vinyl records, from 1949 to the mid-1980s. This colorful and almost forgotten language was once used by record producers, label owners, disc jockeys, jukebox operators, record distributors, and others in the music industry. Their language is collected in this dictionary. Each entry offers both an explanation of a term’s meaning as well as its context and use in the history of the record business.

Posted on

Newly Published: The Limits of #MeToo in Hollywood

New on our bookshelf:

The Limits of #MeToo in Hollywood: Gender and Power in the Entertainment Industry
Margaret Tally

In October 2017, actress Alyssa Milano sparked the #MeToo movement. The ensuing protests quickly encompassed far more than Harvey Weinstein and the entertainment industry. They expressed women’s outrage at male workplace behavior in every sector and social class and even helped elect a new generation of women leaders in 2018.

But what has been the effect of #MeToo in the entertainment industry itself? This book traces the movement’s influence on the stories being told, on changing representations of women’s lives and bodies, and on the slow changes among the producers who shape the stories.

Analyzing a wide set of TV and film genres—including crime, legal and medical dramas, comedies, horror and reality programming—this book covers the complex ways that media respond to social movements: They sometimes give voice to brand-new or previously silenced stories, but just as often make facile references that can blunt the potential for change, or even fuel cultural backlash.

Posted on

New in Softcover: The Women of Hammer Horror

Now available in softcover:

The Women of Hammer Horror: A Biographical Dictionary and Filmography
Robert Michael “Bobb” Cotter

The Hammer studio is best known for its horror film output from the mid-1950s through the 1970s. This book provides facts about the hundreds of actresses who appeared in those films, including ones released in the twenty-first century by a resurgent Hammer. Each woman’s entry includes her Hammer filmography, a brief biography if available, and other film credits in the horror genre. The book is illustrated with more than 60 film stills and posters.

Posted on

Newly Published: Scarlett Johansson

New on our bookshelf:

Scarlett Johansson: The Life and Films
Kim R. Holston and Warren Hope

Despite her prominence as an actress, fashionista, social activist and the “sexiest woman in the world,” Scarlett Johansson has kept her life private. Her work ethic has been strong since her film debut in North (1994) at age 10. Then in 2003, Lost in Translation brought kudos and launched her adult career.

While she never abandoned the independents, Johansson became a leading lady in very big films, including eight outings as former Russian assassin Black Widow thwarting alien incursions in The Avengers and other films in the Marvel Universe.
This book surveys Johansson’s life and films from childhood to her 2019 Academy Award nominations for Jojo Rabbit and Marriage Story. Each film entry includes a plot synopsis, extracts from contemporary reviews, behind-the-scenes information, and the author’s analysis of the film. Looked at in-depth are the three Woody Allen collaborations, her role as Black Widow, and the films in which she becomes “the other.”

Posted on

Newly Published: The Nickelodeon ’90s

New on our bookshelf:

The Nickelodeon ’90s: Cartoons, Game Shows and a Whole Bunch of Slime
Chris Morgan

There is an entire generation that grew up on Nickelodeon. The network started to get its footing in the ’80s and in the ’90s became the defining voice in entertainment for kids.

For the first time ever, in this book, the entire expanse of ’90s Nickelodeon has been collected in one place. A mix of personal reflection and media criticism, it delves into the history of each show with humor and insight. It revisits shows such as Rugrats, Clarissa Explains It All, and Legends of the Hidden Temple, one by one. More than an act of nostalgia, this book looks critically at the ’90s Nick catalog, covering the good, the bad, and the weird.

Posted on

New in Softcover: The American International Pictures Video Guide

Now available in softcover:

The American International Pictures Video Guide
Gary A. Smith

American International released a tide of low-budget, sensationalistic films aimed at the teenage audience, finding its greatest success in the horror genre. This is a comprehensive alphabetical guide to AIP movies that are or have been available in home viewing formats such as DVD and VHS. A brief history of the company, which produced movies from the 1950s until the 1980s, is provided. AIP television and unfilmed projects are also covered, and numerous photographs complement the text.

Posted on

Newly Published: The Netflix Vision of Horror

New on our bookshelf:

The Netflix Vision of Horror: A Narrative Structural Analysis of Original Series
Sotiris Petridis

Since the emergence of on-demand streaming platforms, television as a storytelling medium has drastically changed. The lines between TV and cinema are blurred. Traditionally, television relied on narrative forms and genres that were highly formulaic, striving to tease the viewer onward with a series of cliffhangers while still maintaining viewer comprehension. Now, on platforms such as Netflix, the lack of commercial breaks and the practice of “binge-watching” have led to a new type of television flow that urges viewers to see and consume a series as a whole and not as a fragmented narrative.

This book examines the structuring methods of 13 Netflix original horror series, including Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Stranger Things, Hemlock Grove, The Haunting of Hill House, and Santa Clarita Diet. Although these shows use television as the medium of storytelling, they are structured according to the classical rules of film.

Posted on

Newly Published: John Wayne Was Here

New on our bookshelf:

John Wayne Was Here: The Film Locations and Favorite Places of an American Icon
Roland Schaefli

John Wayne worked on film sets around the globe. This book follows the trail, from his beginnings on the Fox backlot to his final filming in Lone Pine, California. Locations in Mexico, Normandy, Rome, Madrid, London, Ireland, Libya and Africa are covered, along with his favorite vacation spots in Hawaii, Acapulco, Greece, Monaco, and the Hollywood hot-spots he frequented. Anecdotes revisit his most famous scenes, including Rooster Cogburn’s charge in True Grit (1969) and Davy Crockett’s last stand in The Alamo (1960). Production details describe how San Diego stood in for Iwo Jima, how Old Tucson was turned into El Dorado, and how Genghis Kahn ruled over the deserts of Utah. Never before published photos present then-and-now views in this first of its kind guided tour for film location hunters and Wayne aficionados.John Wayne worked on film sets around the globe. This book follows the trail, from his beginnings on the Fox backlot to his final filming in Lone Pine, California. Locations in Mexico, Normandy, Rome, Madrid, London, Ireland, Libya and Africa are covered, along with his favorite vacation spots in Hawaii, Acapulco, Greece, Monaco, and the Hollywood hot-spots he frequented. Anecdotes revisit his most famous scenes, including Rooster Cogburn’s charge in True Grit (1969) and Davy Crockett’s last stand in The Alamo (1960). Production details describe how San Diego stood in for Iwo Jima, how Old Tucson was turned into El Dorado, and how Genghis Kahn ruled over the deserts of Utah. Never before published photos present then-and-now views in this first of its kind guided tour for film location hunters and Wayne aficionados.

Posted on

Newly Published: The Legacy of World War II in European Arthouse Cinema

New on our bookshelf:

The Legacy of World War II in European Arthouse Cinema
Samm Deighan

World War II irrevocably shaped culture–and much of cinema–in the 20th century, thanks to its devastating, global impact that changed the way we think about and portray war. This book focuses on European war films made about the war between 1945 and 1985 in countries that were occupied or invaded by the Nazis, such as Poland, France, Italy, the Soviet Union, and Germany itself. Many of these films were banned, censored, or sharply criticized at the time of their release for the radical ways they reframed the war and rejected the mythologizing of war experience as a heroic battle between the forces of good and evil.

The particular films examined, made by arthouse directors like Pier Paolo Pasolini, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Larisa Shepitko, among many more, deviate from mainstream cinematic depictions of the war and instead present viewpoints and experiences of WWII which are often controversial or transgressive. They explore the often-complicated ways that participation in war and genocide shapes national identity and the ways that we think about bodies and sexuality, trauma, violence, power, justice, and personal responsibility–themes that continue to resonate throughout culture and global politics.

Posted on

Newly Published: Adapting Superman

New on our bookshelf:

Adapting Superman: Essays on the Transmedia Man of Steel
Edited by John Darowski

Almost immediately after his first appearance in comic books in June 1938, Superman began to be adapted to other media. The subsequent decades have brought even more adaptations of the Man of Steel, his friends, family, and enemies in film, television, comic strip, radio, novels, video games, and even a musical. The rapid adaptation of the Man of Steel occurred before the character and storyworld were fully developed on the comic book page, allowing the adaptations an unprecedented level of freedom and adaptability.

The essays in this collection provide specific insight into the practice of adapting Superman from comic books to other media and cultural contexts through a variety of methods, including social, economic, and political contexts. Authors touch on subjects such as the different international receptions to the characters, the evolution of both Clark Kent’s character and Superman’s powers, the importance of the radio, how the adaptations interact with issues such as racism and Cold War paranoia, and the role of fan fiction in the franchise. By applying a wide range of critical approaches to adaption and Superman, this collection offers new insights into our popular entertainment and our cultural history.

Posted on

Newly Published: Vampires from Another World

New on our bookshelf:

Vampires from Another World: The Cinematic Progeny of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds and Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Simon Bacon

This book begins at the intersection of Dracula and War of the Worlds, both published in 1897 London, and describes the settings of Transylvania, Mars, and London as worlds linked by the body of the vampire. It explores the “vampire from another world” in all its various forms, as a manifestation of not just our anxieties around alien others, but also our alien selves.

Unsurprisingly, many of the tropes these novels generated and particularly the themes they have in common have been used and adapted by vampire narratives that followed. From Nosferatu to AlienInterstellarStranger Things, and many others, this book examines how these narratives have evolved since the end of the nineteenth century. Bringing together texts and films from across the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, from the far reaches of outer space and the distant future, it concludes that the unexpected and the unknown are not always to be feared, and that humanity does have the power to write its own future.

Posted on

Newly Published: Arctic Cinemas

New on our bookshelf:

Arctic Cinemas: Essays on Polar Spaces and the Popular Imagination
Edited by Kylo-Patrick R. Hart

Arctic cinemas represent a noteworthy new subfield of film studies, and in the current era of unprecedented global warming, interest in the Arctic region and its cinematic portrayals has never been greater. Individually and collectively, films pertaining to Arctic inhabitants and experiences have substantially influenced viewer perceptions of the region throughout the world, often serving as blank slates for the fantasies and projections of individuals elsewhere with regard to its challenging landscape and perceived “otherworldliness.”

Written by a blend of academic scholars, artists, and filmmakers, this collection of essays provides a transnational overview of the variety of works—ranging from art films and documentaries to horror and road movies—that fall under the conceptual rubric of “Arctic cinemas,” and examines their contributions to past and present perceptions of the Arctic. Theoretical and analytical approaches represented here include critical theory, cultural studies, ecocriticism, ethnography, gender studies, genre theory, historiography, and indigenous studies.

Posted on

Newly Published: Television’s Outlander

New on our bookshelf:

Television’s Outlander: A Companion, Seasons 1–5
Mary Ellen Snodgrass

Over its five seasons on the air, the televised series Outlander has combined romance, adventure, history, and time travel into a classic saga of love, war, and the ties that bind family together. After surviving the 1746 uprising of the Scottish Highlanders, the intrigue-ridden Paris of Charles Stuart, and a sea voyage across the Caribbean, Claire and Jamie Fraser finally settle in the mountains of North Carolina. There, they build a community of immigrant farmers who continue to struggle for justice, democracy, and independence from British colonialism.

This companion volume offers detailed information on more than 125 topics including characters, themes, places, events, actors, herbalism, and historical chronology. For fans and scholars alike, it separates fact from fiction and aids in understanding the effects of the 1746 Jacobite uprising on the formation of the United States.

Posted on

Newly Published: That’s Entertainment

New on our bookshelf:

That’s Entertainment: A Biography of Broadway Composer Arthur Schwartz
Tighe E. Zimmers

Arthur Schwartz (1900–1984), a premier composer of American Popular Song during the mid-20th century, has been overlooked by historians. This first full-length biography covers his work on Broadway and in Hollywood, where he was known as the “master of the intimate revue” for his songs in the 1930s with Howard Dietz.

Schwartz wrote music for films in the 1940s—with Academy Award nominations for They’re Either Too Young or Too Old and A Gal in Calico—produced two popular movie musicals—Cover Girl and Night and Day—and was among the first songwriters to work in the new medium of television. The author describes his creative process and includes behind-the-scenes stories of each of his major musicals.

Posted on

Newly Published: Mark Gruenwald and the Star Spangled Symbolism of Captain America, 1985–1995

New on our bookshelf:

Mark Gruenwald and the Star Spangled Symbolism of Captain America, 1985–1995
Jason Olsen

From 1985 to 1995, Mark Gruenwald was the head writer for Captain America. During this decade, Gruenwald wrote some of the most essential stories in Captain America’s history and guided the comic through an eventful period of both world history and comic book history. This book dissects the influence of the world at large on Gruenwald’s stories and the subsequent influence of Gruenwald’s work on the world of comics. The book’s ten chapters discuss a wide range of topics including the generational tensions inherent in a comic about a G.I. Generation hero, written by a baby boomer, for an audience of Gen Xers; the enduring threat of the Red Skull and the never-ending aura of World War II; the rising popularity of vigilante characters during the ‘90s; and how Captain America fits into the war on drugs and its “just say no” mentality. Set against the declining American patriotism of the 1980s and 1990s, this book places special emphasis on the symbolism of the most American of superheroes.

Posted on

Newly Published: Beware of Dog

New on our bookshelf:

Beware of Dog: How Media Portrays the Aggressive Canine
Melissa Crawley

For many of us, the only way we meet “dangerous” dogs is through news reports about vicious attacks, and films and TV shows that feature out-of-control versions of man’s best friend. But there’s more to the Bad Dog’s story than sensational headlines and movie beasts. A deeper look at these representations reveals a villain much closer to home.

This book takes the reader on a rich journey through depictions of violent dogs in popular media. It explores how press accounts and screen stories transform canines into bloodthirsty hunters, rabies-infested strays, ferocious fighters, rogue law enforcement partners and diabolical pets, all adding up to a frightening picture of our usually beloved companions. But, when media tells the dangerous dog’s story, it is often with a deep connection to the person on the other end of the leash.

Posted on

Newly Published: Media Environments and Mental Disorder

New on our bookshelf:

Media Environments and Mental Disorder: The Psychology of Information Immersion
William Indick

The information environments that modern society requires us to master and engage in are based in literacy and digital communication. Mediated information not only passes through our brains, it alters and rewires them. Since our environment, to a large extent, is shaped by the way we perceive, understand, and communicate information, we can even think of mental disorders as symptoms of maladaptation to our media environments.

This book uses this “media ecology” model to explore the effects of media on mental disorders. It traces the development of media from the most basic forms–the sights and sounds expressed by the human body–to the most technologically complex media created to date, showing how each medium of communication relates to specific mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and autism. As the digital age proceeds to envelop us in an environment of infinite and instantly accessible information, it’s crucial to our own mental health to understand how the various forms of media influence and shape our minds and behaviors.

Posted on

Newly Published: War, Revolution and Remembrance in World Cinema

New on our bookshelf:

War, Revolution and Remembrance in World Cinema: Critical Essays
Edited by Nancy J. Membrez

Two World Wars engulfed Europe, Asia and the United States, leaving indelible scars on the landscape and survivors. The trauma of civil wars in Spain (declared) and Latin America (tacit) spanned decades yet, contradictorily, bind parties together even today. Civil wars still haunt Africa where, in more recent years, ethnic cleansing has led to wholesale genocide. Drawing on the emerging field of Memory Studies, this book examines narrative and documentary films, made far from Hollywood, that address memory—both traumatic and nostalgic—surrounding these conflicts, despite attempts by special interests to erase or manipulate history.

Posted on

Newly Published: Exploring The Orville

New on our bookshelf:

Exploring The Orville: Essays on Seth MacFarlane’s Space Adventure
Edited by David Kyle Johnson and Michael R. Berry

This is the first book to take a deep dive into the philosophical, social, moral, political, and religious issues tackled by Seth MacFarlane’s marvelous space adventure, The Orville. These new essays explore what The Orville has to say on everything from climate change, artificial intelligence, and sexual assault, to gender, feminism, love, and care. Divided into six “acts” (just like every episode of The Orville), with the show as its backdrop, the book asks questions about the dangers of democracy and social media, the show’s relationship to Star Trek and the puzzle of time travel.

Posted on

Newly Published: Television Movies of the 21st Century

New on our bookshelf:

Television Movies of the 21st Century
Vincent Terrace

For the major broadcast networks, the heyday of made-for-TV movies was 20th Century programming like The ABC Movie of the Week and NBC Sunday Night at the Movies. But with changing economic times and the race for ratings, the networks gradually dropped made-for-TV movies while basic cable embraced the format, especially the Hallmark Channel (with its numerous Christmas-themed movies) and the Syfy Channel (with its array of shark attack movies and other things that go bump in the night). From the waning days of the broadcast networks to the influx of basic cable TV movies, this encyclopedia covers 1,370 films produced during the period 2000-2020. For each film entry, the reader is presented with an informative storyline, cast and character lists, technical credits (producer, director, writer), air dates, and networks. It covers the networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, Ion, and NBC) and such basic cable channels as ABC Family, Disney, Fox Family, Freeform, Hallmark, INSP, Lifetime, Nickelodeon, Syfy, TBS and TNT. There is also an appendix of “Announced but Never Produced” TV movies and a performer’s index.

Posted on

Newly Published: Beulah Bondi

New on our bookshelf:

Beulah Bondi: A Life on Stage and Screen
Axel Nissen

Best known for her roles in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Make Way for Tomorrow, Beulah Bondi (1889-1981) had a 60-year long acting career and an interesting on-screen life. Despite starting her professional acting career at 30, she made her mark on the film industry as a character actress. Before making a name for herself on-screen, she worked at the Stuart Walker stock company and performed on Broadway. This biography is the first to unpack Bondi’s life before and throughout her film career. This work also explores Bondi’s early family life in Indiana with a Jewish underwear salesman and a Presbyterian poet for parents.

Posted on

Newly Published: Is Superman Circumcised?

New on our bookshelf:

Is Superman Circumcised?: The Complete Jewish History of the World’s Greatest Hero
Roy Schwartz

Superman is the original superhero, an American icon, and arguably the most famous character in the world—and he’s Jewish! Introduced in June 1938, the Man of Steel was created by two Jewish teens, Jerry Siegel, the son of immigrants from Eastern Europe, and Joe Shuster, an immigrant. They based their hero’s origin story on Moses, his strength on Samson, his mission on the golem, and his nebbish secret identity on themselves. They made him a refugee fleeing catastrophe on the eve of World War II and sent him to tear Nazi tanks apart nearly two years before the US joined the war. In the following decades, Superman’s mostly Jewish writers, artists, and editors continued to borrow Jewish motifs for their stories, basing Krypton’s past on Genesis and Exodus, its society on Jewish culture, the trial of Lex Luthor on Adolf Eichmann’s, and a future holiday celebrating Superman on Passover. A fascinating journey through comic book lore, American history, and Jewish tradition, this book examines the entirety of Superman’s career from 1938 to date, and is sure to give readers a newfound appreciation for the Mensch of Steel!

Posted on

Newly Published: Strictly Fantasy

New on our bookshelf:

Strictly Fantasy: The Cultural Roots of Tabletop Role-Playing Games
Gerald Nachtwey

Role-playing games seemed to appear of nowhere in the early 1970s and have been a quiet but steady presence in American culture ever since. This new look at the hobby searches for the historical origins of role-playing games deep in the imaginative worlds of Western culture. It looks at the earliest fantasy stories from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, at the fans–both readers and writers–who wanted to bring them to life, at the Midwestern landscape and the middle-class households that were the hobby’s birthplace, and at the struggle to find meaning and identity amidst cultural conflicts that drove many people into these communities of play. This book also addresses race, religion, gender, fandom, and the place these games have within American capitalism. All the paths of this journey are connected by the very quality that has made fantasy role-playing so powerful: it binds the limitless imagination into a “strict” framework of rules. Far from being an accidental offshoot of marginalized fan communities, role-playing games’ ability to hold contradictions in dynamic, creative tension made them a necessary and central product of the twentieth century.

Posted on

Newly Published: A Supernatural Politics

New on our bookshelf:

A Supernatural Politics
Edited by Lisa Macklem and Dominick Grace

What makes a horror television drama interesting? Like any other drama, it is often the character development or plot, and this certainly applies to the dramatically-resonant Supernatural and its beloved characters. However, Supernatural has achieved a dedicated fandom and a record-breaking 15-season run by skillfully engaging with the social reality inhabited by the show’s audience. Additionally, the show plays with the fourth wall by having an in-world fandom for the main characters. Supernatural‘s many layers have garnered the attention of academics who analyzed the show’s engagement with diverse topics such as the #MeToo movement, consumerism, and the American Dream. This collection of essays studies the topical issues and politics that added depth and maturity to Supernatural, separated it fromX-Files knock-offs, and garnered the show its own cult following.

Posted on

Newly Published: Presenting Persis Khambatta

New on our bookshelf:

Presenting Persis Khambatta: From Miss India to Star Trek—The Motion Picture and Beyond
Sherilyn Connelly

In 1965, 18-year-old Persis Khambatta became the third woman to be crowned Miss India. After moving to England and then to the United States, she found worldwide fame in the first Star Trek movie in 1979, and in 1980 she became the first Indian presenter at the Academy Awards.

The American film industry seemed never to forgive Khambatta for being a non-white woman who refused to do nude scenes. After failing to sustain a career as either a producer or a performer, she achieved a triumph before her sudden death in 1998 with the publication of her book Pride of India: A Tribute to Miss India.

Based on contemporary news articles and primary sources, this first biography examines Khambatta’s Hindi and English-language film and television work, and demonstrates the many ways she was ahead of her time as a filmmaker, feminist, and humanitarian.

Posted on

Newly Published: The Food Network Recipe

New on our bookshelf:

The Food Network Recipe: Essays on Cooking, Celebrity and Competition
Edited by Emily L. Newman and Emily Witsell

When the Television Food Network launched in 1993, its programming was conceived as educational: it would teach people how to cook well, with side trips into the economics of food and healthy living. Today, however, the network is primarily known for splashy celebrity chefs and spirited competition shows.

These new essays explore how the Food Network came to be known for consistently providing comforting programming that offers an escape from reality, where the storyline is just as important as the food that is being created. It dissects some of the biggest personalities that emerged from the Food Network itself, such as Guy Fieri, and offers a critical examination of a variety of chefs’ feminisms and the complicated nature of success. Some writers posit that the Food Network is creating an engaging, important dialogue about modes of instruction and education, and others analyze how the Food Network presents locality and place through the sharing of food culture with the viewing public. This book will bring together these threads as it explores the rise, development, and unique adaptability of the Food Network.

Posted on

Newly Published: Having Their Say

New on our bookshelf:

Having Their Say: Athletes and Entertainers and the Ethics of Speaking Out
Kristie Bunton

After Natalie Maines of The Dixie Chicks expressed her opposition to the Iraq War and President Bush in a country music concert, she was told to “shut up and sing.” When NFL player Colin Kaepernick protested police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem, he was applauded by some and demonized by others. Both had their careers irrevocably altered by speaking out for their beliefs.

This book examines the ethical issues that arise when famous people speak out on issues often unrelated to the performances that brought those figures to public attention. It analyzes several celebrity speakers—singers Taylor Swift and the Chicks; satirist Jon Stewart; actor Tom Hanks; and athletes Serena Williams, Stephen Curry, Colin Kaepernick, and Naomi Osaka—and demonstrates that justifiable speaking requires celebrity speakers, journalists, and audiences to consider ethical issues regarding platform, intent, and harm. Celebrity speakers must exercise ethical care in a digital world where audiences equate celebrity status with authority and expertise about public issues. Finally, this book considers how people who are not famous can understand their ethical responsibilities for speaking out about public issues in their own spheres of influence.

Posted on

Newly Published: Star Trek, History and Us

New on our bookshelf:

Star Trek, History and Us: Reflections of the Present and Past Throughout the Franchise
A.J. Black

Since 1966, the Star Trek television franchise has used outer space and the thrilling adventures of the crews of the U.S.S. Enterprise to reflect our own world and culture. Kirk and Spock face civil rights issues and Vietnam war allegories while Picard, Data, and the next generation seek an ordered, post-Cold War stability in the Reagan era.

The crews of Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise must come to terms with our real life of war, manifest destiny in the 21st century, and the shadow of 9/11. Now, as the modern era of the franchise attempts to portray a utopia amidst a world spinning out of control, Star Trek remains about more than just the future. It is about our present. It is about us.

This book charts the history of Gene Roddenberry’s creation across five decades alongside the cultural development of the United States and asks: are we heading for the utopian Federation future, or is it slipping ever further away from reality?

Posted on

Newly Published: Cold War Frequencies

New on our bookshelf:

Cold War Frequencies: CIA Clandestine Radio Broadcasting to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe
Richard H. Cummings

Published for the first time, the history of the CIA’s clandestine short-wave radio broadcasts to Eastern Europe and the USSR during the early Cold War is covered in-depth. Chapters describe the “gray” broadcasting of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty in Munich; clandestine or “black” radio broadcasts from Radio Nacional de Espana in Madrid to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine; transmissions to Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Ukraine and the USSR from a secret site near Athens; and broadcasts to Byelorussia and Slovakia. Infiltrated behind the Iron Curtain through dangerous air drops and boat landings, CIA and other intelligence service agents faced counterespionage, kidnapping, assassination, arrest and imprisonment. Excerpts from broadcasts taken from monitoring reports of Eastern Europe intelligence agencies are included.

Posted on

Newly Published: Rape-Revenge Films

New on our bookshelf:

Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study, 2d ed.
Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Often considered the lowest depth to which cinema can plummet, the rape-revenge film is broadly dismissed as fundamentally exploitative and sensational, catering only to a demented, regressive demographic. This second edition, ten years after the first, continues the assessment of these films and the discourse they provoke. Included is a new chapter about women-directed rape-revenge films, a phenomenon that—revitalized since #MeToo exploded in late 2017—is a filmmaking tradition with a history that transcends a contemporary context.

Featuring both famous and unknown movies, controversial and widely celebrated filmmakers, as well as rape-revenge cinema from around the world, this revised edition demonstrates that diverse and often contradictory treatments of sexual violence exist simultaneously.

Posted on

Newly Published: The Avengers in Video Games

New on our bookshelf:

The Avengers in Video Games: A Guide to Solo Adventures and Mighty Marvel Team-Ups, with Creator Interviews
Blair Farrell

For decades, Marvel Comics’ superhero group the Avengers have captured the imagination of millions, whether in comics, multi-billion dollar grossing films or video games. Similar to the chronology of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Avengers video games first started with titles driven by single characters, like Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor and Captain America. Over time, the games grew to include more and more heroes, culminating in playing experiences that featured the Avengers assembled.

This is the first-ever book assessing the video games starring “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.” Featured games span consoles and platforms, from popular PlayStation and Xbox titles to an arcade game in danger of being lost to time. All video games are covered in depth, with each entry including game background and a detailed review from the author. Some game entries also include behind-the-scenes knowledge from the developers themselves, providing exclusive details on the Marvel video game universe.

Posted on

Newly Published: At the Intersection of Disability and Drama

New on our bookshelf:

At the Intersection of Disability and Drama: A Critical Anthology of New Plays
Edited by John Michael Sefel Amanda Slamcik Lassetter, Jill Summerville

“Cripples ain’t supposed to be happy” sings Anita Hollander, balancing on her single leg and grinning broadly. This moment—from her multi-award-winning one-woman show, Still Standing—captures the essence of this theatre anthology. Hollander and nineteen other playwright-performers craftily subvert and smash stereotypes about how those within the disability community should look, think, and behave. Utilizing the often-conflicting tools of Critical Disability Studies and Medical Humanities, these plays and their accompanying essays approach disability as a vast, intersectional demographic, which ties individuals together less by whatever impairment, difference, or non-normative condition they experience, and more by their daily need to navigate a world that wasn’t built for them. From race, gender, and sexuality to education, dating, and pandemics, these plays reveal there is no aspect of human life that does not, in some way, intersect with disability.

Posted on

Newly Published: The Minds Behind Shooter Games

New on our bookshelf:

The Minds Behind Shooter Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers
Patrick Hickey, Jr.

Featuring interviews with the creators of 39 popular video games–including Halo 3Call of Duty: Modern WarfareMedal of Honor and Metroid Prime–this book gives a behind-the-scenes look at the origins of some of the most iconic shooter games. Interviewees recount endless hours of painstaking development, the challenges of working with mega-publishers, the growth of the genre and the creative processes that produced some of the industry’s biggest hits, cult classics and indie successes.

Posted on

Newly Published: Star Wars and the Hero’s Journey

New on our bookshelf:

Star Wars and the Hero’s Journey: Mythic Character Arcs Through the 12-Film Epic
Valerie Estelle Frankel

The original Star Wars trilogy famously follows Joseph Campbell’s model for the hero’s journey, making Luke Skywalker’s story the new hero quest for a modern age. With the nine-plus film saga complete, however, new story patterns have emerged as the hero’s journey is imagined over and over for characters of different ages, genders, and backgrounds. The prequels offer the plot arc of the villain’s journey through Anakin. Leia and Padme, while damsels in the men’s story, break out to undergo their own ordeals. The heroine’s journey is exemplified by Rey and Jyn. Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Vader must accept the loss of power and fade into spirit guardians, perpetuating the lifecycle. By the sequel era, the original trio become mentors to the younger generation and finally must do the same. Meanwhile, the Mandalorian explores a different form of the quest as he transforms from immature warrior to patriarch. This book tracks the journeys of over 20 characters throughout the franchise.

Posted on

Newly Published: Vivid Tomorrows

New on our bookshelf:

Vivid Tomorrows: On Science Fiction and Hollywood
David Brin

Can science fiction–especially sci-fi cinema–save the world? It already has, many times. Retired officers testify that films like Doctor Strangelove, Fail-Safe, On the Beach and War Games provoked changes and helped prevent accidental war. Soylent Green and Silent Running recruited millions of environmental activists. The China Syndrome and countless movies about plagues helped bring attention to those failure modes. And the grand-daddy of “self-preventing prophecy”–Nineteen Eighty-Four–girded countless citizens to stay wary of Big Brother.

It’s not been all dire warnings. While optimism is much harder to dramatize than apocalypse, both large and small screens have also encouraged millions to lift their gaze, contemplating how we might get better, incrementally, or else raise grandchildren worthy of the stars.

Come along on a quirky quest for unusual insights into the power of forward-looking media. How the romantic allure of feudalism tugs at men and women who benefited vastly from modernity. Or explore why almost every Hollywood film preaches Suspicion of Authority, along with tolerance, diversity and personal eccentricity, and how those messages helped keep us free. No one is spared scrutiny! Not Spielberg or Tolkien or Cameron or Costner… nor Dune or demigods or zombie flicks. Certainly not George Lucas or Ayn Rand! Though some critiques are offered from a lifetime of respect and love… and gratitude.

Posted on

Newly Published: Telling an American Horror Story

New on our bookshelf:

Telling an American Horror Story: Essays on History, Place and Identity in the Series
Edited by Cameron Williams Crawford and Leverett Butts

Telling an American Horror Story collects essays from new and established critics looking at the many ways the horror anthology series intersects with and comments on contemporary American social, political and popular culture. Divided into three sections, the chapters apply a cultural criticism framework to examine how the first eight seasons of AHS engage with American history, our contemporary ideologies and social policies.

Part I explores the historical context and the uniquely-American folklore that AHS evokes, from the Southern Gothic themes of Coven to connections between Apocalypseand anxieties of modern American youth. Part II contains interpretations of place and setting that mark the various seasons of the anthology. Finally, Part III examines how the series confronts notions of individual and social identity, like the portrayals of destructive leadership in Cult and lesbian representation in Asylum and Hotel.

Posted on

Newly Published: Giving Life to Movement

New on our bookshelf:

Giving Life to Movement: The Silvestre Dance Technique
Tamara LaDonna Williams

The Silvestre dance technique was founded by Brazilian dance master Rosangela Silvestre as an extension of the spiritual dance traditions of enslaved Africans. Their culture quashed by Christian slavers; enslaved Africans continued to practice their traditions covertly. The Silvestre technique is a modern effort to connect the present with the past with a goal to heal. Developed to help persons in the African diaspora process their heritage through somatic expression, the method is rooted in traditional tribal dance practice.

In this book, author Tamara LaDonna Williams archives the Silvestre practice and highlights the importance of understanding self-capacity and capability. The applied theory of the dance technique is explored through a series of interviews, physical practice and training.

Posted on

Newly Published: Religion and Myth in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

New on our bookshelf:

Religion and Myth in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Michael D. Nichols

Breaking box office records, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has achieved an unparalleled level of success with fans across the world, raising the films to a higher level of narrative: myth. This is the first book to analyze the Marvel output as modern myth, comparing it to epics, symbols, rituals, and stories from world religious traditions.

This book places the exploits of Iron Man, Captain America, Black Panther, and the other stars of the Marvel films alongside the legends of Achilles, Gilgamesh, Arjuna, the Buddha, and many others. It examines their origin stories and rites of passage, the monsters, shadow-selves, and familial conflicts they contend with, and the symbols of death and the battle against it that stalk them at every turn.

The films deal with timeless human dilemmas and questions, evoking an enduring sense of adventure and wonder common across world mythic traditions.

Posted on

Newly Published: Roleplaying Games in the Digital Age

New on our bookshelf:

Roleplaying Games in the Digital Age: Essays on Transmedia Storytelling, Tabletop RPGs and Fandom
Edited by Stephanie Hedge and Jennifer Grouling

The Digital Age has created massive technological and disciplinary shifts in tabletop role-playing, increasing the appreciation of games like Dungeons & Dragons. Millions tune in to watch and listen to RPG players on podcasts and streaming platforms, while virtual tabletops connect online players. Such shifts elicit new scholarly perspectives.

This collection includes essays on the transmedia ecology that has connected analog with digital and audio spaces. Essays explore the boundaries of virtual tabletops and how users engage with a variety of technology to further role-playing. Authors map the growing diversity of the TRPG fandom and detail how players interact with RPG-related podcasts. Interviewed are content creators like Griffin McElroy of The Adventure Zone podcast, Roll20 co-creator Nolan T. Jones, board game designers Nikki Valens and Isaac Childres and fan artists Tracey Alvarez and Alex Schiltz. These essays and interviews expand the academic perspective to reflect the future of role-playing.

Posted on

Women’s Studies Sale and New Catalog

Women made 2020 a banner year for diversity and inclusivity. In sports, representation on and off the field erupted with the leadership of Kim Ng, Sarah Fuller and Katie Sowers. Scientists Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna jointly earned the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. And in politics, women like Cori Bush, Sarah McBride, Yvette Herrell and others were elected to ever-diversifying legislatures, while Kamala Harris ascended to the highest elected position a woman has yet to hold. To honor Women’s History Month and to nurture the path forward, we’re offering 20% off our catalog through March 31st with coupon code WOMEN20.

Posted on

Newly Published: Speculations of War

New on our bookshelf:

Speculations of War: Essays on Conflict in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Utopian Literature
Edited by Annette M. Magid

Late 19th century science fiction stories and utopian treatises related to morals and attitudes often focused on economic, sociological and, at times Marxist ideas. More than a century later, science fiction commonly depicts the inherent dangers of capitalism and imperialism. Examining a variety of conflicts from the Civil War through the post-9/11 era, this collection of new essays explores philosophical introspection and futuristic forecasting in science fiction, fantasy, utopian literature and film, with a focus on the warlike nature of humanity.

Posted on

Newly Published: Clothes Make the Character

New on our bookshelf:

Clothes Make the Character: The Role of Wardrobe in Early Motion Pictures
Lora Ann Sigler

“Clothes make the man” (or woman). This is especially true in early Hollywood silent films where a character’s appearance could show an immense number of different things about them. For example, Theda Bara’s role in A Fool There Was (1915) was known for her revealing clothing, seductive appearance, and being the first “Vamp.”

Wardrobe and costume design played a larger role in silent films than in modern movies. The character’s clothes told the audience who they were and what their role was in the movie. In this in-depth analysis, the author provides examples and explanations about noteworthy characters who used their appearance to further their fame.

Posted on

Newly Published: The African American Baseball Experience in Nebraska

New on our bookshelf:

The African American Baseball Experience in Nebraska: Essays and Memories
Edited by Angelo J. Louisa

Nebraska is not usually thought of as a focal point in the history of black baseball, yet the state has seen its share of contributions to the African American baseball experience. This book examines nine of the most significant, including the rise and fall of the Lincoln Giants, Satchel Paige’s adventures in the Cornhusker State, a visit from Jackie Robinson, and the maturation of Bob Gibson both on and off the field. Also, recollections are featured from individuals who participated in or witnessed the African American baseball experience in the Omaha area.

Posted on

Newly Published: Hannibal for Dinner

New on our bookshelf:

Hannibal for Dinner: Essays on America’s Favorite Cannibal on Television
Edited by Kyle A. Moody and Nicholas A. Yanes

NBC’s Hannibal only lasted for three seasons but became a critical darling and quickly inspired a ravenous fanbase. Bryan Fuller’s adaptation of Hannibal Lecter’s adventures created a new set of fans and a cult audience through its stunning visuals, playful characters, and mythical tableaus of violence that doubled as works of art. The show became a nexus point for viewers that explored consumption, queerness, beauty, crime, and the meaning of love through a lens of blood and gore.

Much like the show, this collection is a love letter to America’s favorite cannibal, celebrating the multiple ways that Hannibal expanded the mythology, food culture, fandom, artistic achievements, and religious symbolism of the work of Thomas Harris. Primarily focusing on Hannibal, this book combines interviews and academic essays that examine the franchise, its evolution, creatively bold risks, and the art of creating a TV show that consumed the hearts and minds of its audience.

Posted on

Newly Published: Working While Black

New on our bookshelf:

Working While Black: Essays on Television Portrayals of African American Professionals
Edited by LaToya T. Brackett

Since the 1990s and the recent rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, there has been a rise in diverse racial representation on television. In particular, Black characters evolved and began to move away from racial stereotypes. In this collection of essays, the representation of Black characters in professionally defined careers is examined. Commentary is also provided on the portrayal of Black people in relation to stereotypes alongside the importance of Black representation on screen. This work also introduces the idea of the Black-collar category to highlight the Black experience in white-collar jobs. The essays are divided into six parts based on themes, including profession, and focuses on a select number of Black characters on TV since the 1990s.

Posted on

Newly Published: Anita Page

New on our bookshelf:

Anita Page: A Career Chronicle and Biography
Allan R. Ellenberger and Robert Murdoch Paton

Anita Page (1910-2008) first captured attention near the end of the silent film era in such classics as While the City Sleeps (1928) with Lon Chaney, The Flying Fleet (1929) with Ramon Novarro, and her own favorite, Our Dancing Daughters (1928) with Joan Crawford. In a relatively short career, Page enjoyed critical acclaim. She appeared in the first full-sound movie to win Best Picture, The Broadway Melody (1929).

With a foreword by her close friend, actor Randal Malone, this reference work is the first to fully detail Page’s remarkable career, including a biography and a complete listing of all her films, along with her one stage appearance and her returns to the limelight in later years.

Entries provide complete production information, reviews and behind-the-scenes commentary. Dozens of photos and revealing anecdotes complete a portrait of a fascinating yet underappreciated performer.

Posted on

Newly Published: America’s Early Women Celebrities

New on our bookshelf:

America’s Early Women Celebrities: The Famous and Scorned from Martha Washington to Silent Film Star Mary Fuller
Angela Firkus

Well before television and the internet, there were women who sought fame, flirted with infamy, and actively engaged with their fan base. In today’s pop culture world, it can be hard to understand what the lives of these women were like. In their pre-suffrage world, women who attracted attention were considered scandalous and it was largely uncommon for women to become celebrities. Women who rose to fame in those times had to put up with societal standards for women on top of the lack of privacy and free speech.

This book provides the details and context to let us know the women who captured America’s heart in the 19th century. Rather than looking at influential women who strictly avoided notoriety, it covers the lives of 18 celebrities like Lydia Maria Child, Sojourner Truth, and Jane Addams.

Posted on

Newly Published: The Giallo Canvas

New on our bookshelf:

The Giallo Canvas: Art, Excess and Horror Cinema
Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Beloved among cult horror devotees for its signature excesses of sex and violence, Italian giallo cinema is marked by switchblades, mysterious killers, whisky bottles and poetically overinflated titles. A growing field of English-language giallo studies has focused on aspects of production, distribution and reception. This volume explores an overlooked yet prevalent element in some of the best known gialli–an obsession with art and artists in creative production, with a particular focus on painting. The author explores the appearance and significance of art objects across the masterworks of such filmmakers as Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Sergio Martino, Umberto Lenzi, Michele Soavi, Mario Bava and his son Lamberto.

Posted on

Newly Published: Ride the Frontier

New on our bookshelf:

Ride the Frontier: Exploring the Myth of the American West on Screen
Flavia Brizio-Skov

With fresh appraisals of popular Westerns, this book examines the history of the genre with a focus on definitional aspects of canon, adaptation and hybridity.

The author covers a range of largely unexplored topics, including the role of “heroines” in a (supposedly) male-oriented system of film production, the function of the celluloid Indians, the transcultural and transnational history of the first spaghetti Western, the construction of femininity and masculinity in the hybrid Westerns of the 1950s, and the new paths of the Western in the 21st century.

Posted on

Newly Published: Leiji Matsumoto

New on our bookshelf:

Leiji Matsumoto: Essays on the Manga and Anime Legend
Edited by Helen McCarthy and Darren-Jon Ashmore

Leiji Matsumoto is one of Japan’s most influential myth creators. Yet the huge scope of his work, spanning past, present and future in a constantly connecting multiverse, is largely unknown outside Japan. Matsumoto was the major creative force on Star Blazers, America’s gateway drug for TV anime, and created Captain Harlock, a TV phenomenon in Europe. As well as space operas, he made manga on musicians from Bowie to Tchaikovsky, wrote the manga version of American cowboy show Laramie, and created dozens of girls’ comics. He is a respected manga scholar, an expert on Japanese swords, a frustrated engineer and pilot who still wants to be a spaceman in his eighties.

This collection of new essays–the first book on Matsumoto in English–covers his seven decades of comic creation, drawing on contemporary scholarship, artistic practice and fan studies to map Matsumoto’s vast universe. The contributors–artists, creators, translators and scholars–mirror the range of his work and experience. From the bildungsroman to the importance of textual analysis for costume and performance, from early days in poverty to honors around the world, this volume offers previously unexplored biographical and bibliographic detail from a life story as thrilling as anything he created.

Posted on

Newly Published: S. Sylvan Simon, Moviemaker

New on our bookshelf:

S. Sylvan Simon, Moviemaker: Adventures with Lucy, Red Skelton and Harry Cohn in the Golden Age of Hollywood
David C. Tucker

He was Red Skelton’s favorite director, and mentored Lucille Ball in the art of physical comedy. In his 15-year Hollywood career, S. Sylvan Simon (1910-1951) directed and/or produced more than 40 films, with stars like Lana Turner, Abbott and Costello, and Wallace Beery. Though he loved to make moviegoers laugh, he demonstrated his versatility with murder mysteries, war stories, and musicals. After a decade at MGM, he moved to Columbia, where he produced his own projects, including the Western melodrama Lust for Gold, and popular slapstick comedies like The Fuller Brush Girl. As head of production, reporting to irascible Harry Cohn, he produced the award-winning Born Yesterday, and was working on From Here to Eternity when his life ended tragically at the age of 41.

This first-ever account of Simon’s life and career draws on interviews with family and colleagues, genealogical records, archival materials, and his own annotated scripts to tell the story of a stage-struck boy from Pittsburgh whose talent and tenacity made him a Hollywood success. The filmography provides production histories, critical commentary, and excerpts from published reviews. An appendix covers books written or edited by Simon, including his anthologized plays for amateur groups.

Posted on

Newly Published: Charlie Chaplin and A Woman of Paris

New on our bookshelf:

Charlie Chaplin and A Woman of Paris: The Genesis of a Misunderstood Masterpiece
Wes D. Gehring

Charlie Chaplin’s A Woman of Paris (1923) was a groundbreaking film which was neither a simple recycling of Peggy Hopkins Joyce’s story, nor quickly forgotten. Through heavily-documented “period research,” this book lands several bombshells, including Paris is deeply rooted in Chaplin’s previous films and his relationship with Edna Purviance, Paris was not rejected by heartland America, Chaplin did “romantic research” (especially with Pola Negri), and Paris’ many ongoing influences have never been fully appreciated. These are just a few of the mistakes about Paris.

Posted on

Newly Published: Doctor Who and Science

New on our bookshelf:

Doctor Who and Science: Essays on Ideas, Identities and Ideologies in the Series
Edited by Marcus K. Harmes and Lindy A. Orthia

Science has always been part of Doctor Who. The first episode featured scenes in a science laboratory and a science teacher, and the 2020 season’s finale highlighted a scientist’s key role in Time Lord history. Hundreds of scientific characters, settings, inventions, and ethical dilemmas populated the years in between. Behind the scenes, Doctor Who‘s original remit was to teach children about science, and in the 1960s it even had a scientific advisor.

This is the first book to explore this scientific landscape from a broad spectrum of research fields: from astronomy, genetics, linguistics, computing, history, sociology and science communication through gender, media and literature studies. Contributors ask: What sort of scientist is the Doctor? How might the TARDIS translation circuit and regeneration work? Did the Doctor change sex or gender when regenerating into Jodie Whittaker? How do Doctor Who‘s depictions of the Moon and other planets compare to the real universe? Why was the program obsessed with energy in the 1960s and 1970s, Victorian scientists and sciences then and now, or with dinosaurs at any time? Do characters like Missy and the Rani make good scientist role models? How do Doctor Who technical manuals and public lectures shape public ideas about science?

Posted on

Martial Arts on Screen Sale

We’re going to let you in on a company secret: our sales staff can’t stop thinking about ninjas. We plan ahead for surprise attacks. One of us is a certified “Cooler,” and the Olympics only make us reminisce about Gymkata. Lucky for us, McFarland offers a number of books about real and fictional martial arts, and we’re putting them all on sale. Through the end of January, get 20% off all martial arts titles with the coupon code KUMITE!.

Posted on

Newly Published: Policing the Monstrous

New on our bookshelf:

Policing the Monstrous: Essays on the Supernatural Crime Procedural
Edited by Ashley Szanter

This collection of new essays examines how the injection of supernatural creatures and mythologies transformed the hugely popular crime procedural television genre. These shows complicate the predictable and comforting patterns of the procedural with the inherently unknowable nature of the supernatural. From Sherlock to Supernatural, essays cover a range of topics including the gothic, the post-structural nature of The X-Files, the uncanny lure of Twin Peaks, trickster detectives, forensic fairy tales, the allure of the vampire detective, and even the devil himself.

Posted on

Newly Published: Dan Mason

New on our bookshelf:

Dan Mason: From Vaudeville to Broadway to the Silent Screen
Joseph P. Eckhardt

In a career that spanned 57 years, Dan Mason (1853–1929) went from performing German dialect routines in variety halls to appearing in Broadway musicals to playing character roles in silent films. Along the way he also wrote, produced, directed and starred in his own plays. Best remembered for his role as the irascible “Skipper” in the Toonerville Trolley silent comedies, Mason created dozens of unique and colorful characters on stage and screen.

This first-ever biography of the American comedian explores the roots of his craft and the challenges he faced navigating the rapidly changing world of popular entertainment in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Posted on

Newly Published: The Alchemical Harry Potter

New on our bookshelf:

The Alchemical Harry Potter: Essays on Transfiguration in J.K. Rowling’s Novels
Edited by Anne J. Mamary

When Harry Potter first boards the Hogwarts Express, he journeys to a world which Rowling says has alchemy as its “internal logic.” The Philosopher’s Stone, known for its power to transform base metals into gold and to give immortality to its maker, is the subject of the conflict between Harry and Voldemort in the first book of the series. But alchemy is not about money or eternal life, it is much more about the transformations of desire, of power and of people—through love.

Harry’s equally remarkable and ordinary power to love leads to his desire to find but not use the Philosopher’s Stone at the start of the series and his wish to end the destructive power of the Elder Wand at the end. This collection of essays on alchemical symbolism and transformations in Rowling’s series demonstrates how Harry’s work with magical objects, people, and creatures transfigure desire, power, and identity. As Harry’s leaden existence on Privet Drive is transformed in the company of his friends and teachers, the Harry Potter novels have transformed millions of readers, inspiring us to find the gold in our ordinary lives.

Posted on

Newly Published: Super Skills, Super Reading

New on our bookshelf:

Super Skills, Super Reading: Literacy and Television Superheroes
Perry Dantzler

What comes to mind when you think about superheroes? Strength, bravery, and heroism are common answers. However, superheroes do not only have physical strength, but they also have mental strengths and skills. Superheroes tend to have intelligence and detection skills which allow them to develop other skills. In this analysis of superhero literacy aimed at students, the connection between superhero media and larger theories of literacy are explored. The author uses six superhero television shows to show how literacy is portrayed in superhero media and how it reflects and shapes cultural ideas of literacy. The shows covered are Arrow, The Flash, Gotham, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Daredevil.

Posted on

Newly Published: How Not to Make a Movie

New on our bookshelf:

How <I>Not</I> to Make a Movie: An Independent Filmmaker in Hollywood Hell
William Robert Carey

Part memoir, part primer, part cautionary tale, this book takes the reader along on a filmmaker’s 12-year journey through Hollywood Hell, culminating in the movie Angels In Stardust (2016), starring Alicia Silverstone, AJ Michalka and Billy Burke. Describing meetings with producers, agents, managers, hustlers, wannabes and famous celebrities, and how he overcame the host of problems encountered while trying to produce a movie, William Robert Carey’s humorous and confessional narrative illustrates why it takes a minor miracle, a cabinet of liquor and plenty of Pepto-Bismol to complete a film. Copies of his option agreement, script sales contract and director’s contract, crafted by LA entertainment attorneys, are included as a valuable guide for beginners.

Posted on

Newly Published: Sid Caesar and Your Show of Shows

New on our bookshelf:

Sid Caesar and Your Show of Shows: The Birth of the Television Sketch Comedy Series
Karen J. Harvey

In the early days of television, “comedy” often meant stale vaudeville routines and stand-up. Then, in 1950, a new comedy-variety show debuted on NBC—Your Show of Shows. Its gifted and mercurial star, Sid Caesar, talented ensemble cast and superb writing staff—including Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Lucille Kallen and Mel Tolkin—would create comedy designed for the new medium and provide a template for successful shows that followed. With rare illustrations and the most complete sketch guide yet compiled, this book highlights Caesar’s reputation as a brilliant comic actor and describes the writing and production of the weekly live broadcast that kept 60 million TV viewers home on Saturday nights.

Posted on

Newly Published: The Fortean Influence on Science Fiction

New on our bookshelf:

The Fortean Influence on Science Fiction: Charles Fort and the Evolution of the Genre
Tanner F. Boyle

Charles Fort was an American researcher from the early twentieth century who cataloged reports of unexplained phenomena he found in newspapers and science journals. A minor bestseller with a cult appeal, Fort’s work was posthumously republished in the pulp science fiction magazine Astounding Stories in 1934. His idiosyncratic books fascinated, scared, and entertained readers, many of them authors and editors of science fiction. Fort’s work prophesied the paranormal mainstays of SF literature to come: UFOs, poltergeists, strange disappearances, cryptids, ancient mysteries, unexplained natural phenomena, and everything in between. Science fiction authors latched on to Fort’s topics and hypotheses as perfect fodder for SF stories. Writers like Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, Robert Heinlein, H.P. Lovecraft, and others are examined in this exploration of Fortean science fiction—a genre that borrows from the reports and ideas of Fort and others who saw the possible science-fictional nature of our reality.

Posted on

Newly Published: Circle in the Square Theatre

New on our bookshelf:

Circle in the Square Theatre: A Comprehensive History
Sheila Hickey Garvey

Based on years of research as well as interviews conducted with Circle in the Square’s major contributing artists, this book records the entire history of this distinguished theatre from its nightclub origins to its current status as a Tony Award-winning Broadway institution. Over the course of seven decades, Circle in the Square theatre profoundly changed ideas of what American theatre could be. Founded by Theodore Mann and José Quintero in an abandoned Off–Broadway nightclub just after WWII, it was a catalyst for the Off–Broadway movement. The building had a unique arena-shaped performance space that became Circle in the Square theatre, New York’s first Off–Broadway arena stage and currently Broadway’s only arena stage. The theatre was precedent-setting in many other regards, including operating as a non-profit, contracting with trade unions, establishing a school, and serving as a home for blacklisted artists. It sparked a resurgence of interest in playwright Eugene O’Neill’s canon, and was famous for landmark revivals and American premieres of his plays. The theatre also fostered the careers of such luminaries as Geraldine Page, Colleen Dewhurst, George C. Scott, Jason Robards, James Earl Jones, Cecily Tyson, Dustin Hoffman, Irene Papas, Alan Arkin, Philip Bosco, Al Pacino, Amy Irving, Pamela Payton-Wright, Vanessa Redgrave, Julie Christie, John Malkovich, Lynn Redgrave, and Annette Bening.

Posted on

Newly Published: Mr. Sulu Grabbed My Ass, and Other Highlights from a Life in Comics, Novels, Television, Films and Video Games

New on our bookshelf:

Mr. Sulu Grabbed My Ass, and Other Highlights from a Life in Comics, Novels, Television, Films and Video Games
Peter David

Peter David, award-winning writer of comic books, novels, television, films and video games, has boatloads of stories to tell about his 30-year career. Whether it was attending George Takei’s wedding, being described as Will Smith’s bodyguard, or wandering around on the set of Babylon 5, David has been telling anecdotes of his life for years. Here they are all in one place, along with the story of a career that has taken him from writing Marvel Comics’ Incredible Hulk for twelve years to adventures in the Star Trek universe to the New York Times bestseller list.

Posted on

Vikings Catalog and Sale

On the threshold of winter, it is not untoward to turn one’s thoughts to hearty beards.  So it is here at McFarland, and ours have specifically turned to Vikings and representations of medieval Nordic-ness in myth, literature and popular culture.  We’ve collected all our related McFarland titles into this catalog, and you’ll find a full range of books covering topics such as the intellectual inspirations for Tolkien’s legendarium, the Vikings television series that successfully summoned their historical world, and insights into the people of the great Icelandic medieval sagas.  If you have an interest in Norse mythology in heavy metal music, McFarland has a book for that, too!  Through December 31, get 30% off these books with coupon code VIKINGS30.

Posted on

Newly Published: Leslie Stevens Goes to Hollywood

New on our bookshelf:

Leslie Stevens Goes to Hollywood: Daystar Productions, Kate Manx and the Making of Private Property
Dore Page

The ongoing popularity of Leslie Stevens’ 1960s television masterwork The Outer Limits, as well as later series creations Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, has kept his name familiar to television fans. Surprisingly, very little writing exists on his earlier Broadway contributions or his seminal film and television production company, Daystar Productions. Stevens’ personal life also remains relatively unknown.

This biography focuses on the origins of Daystar Productions as well as Stevens’ first years in Hollywood when he was married to actress Kate Manx. After meeting Manx in 1957, Stevens took her with him to Los Angeles and refashioned her into a dramatic film actress who would soon star in his startling, New Wave–style debut film, Private Property. That film, which Stevens made for just $40,000, would go on to gross several million dollars and open the doors to Hollywood for Manx and co-star Warren Oates. While Oates prospered, Manx was unable to sustain her brief success and her life soon spiraled out of control as Stevens’ career turned increasingly toward television.

Posted on

Newly Published: Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2019

New on our bookshelf:

Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2019
Harris M. Lentz III

The entertainment world lost many notable talents in 2019, including television icon Doris Day, iconic novelist Toni Morrison, groundbreaking director John Singleton, Broadway starlet Carol Channing and lovable Star Wars actor Peter Mayhew. Obituaries of actors, filmmakers, musicians, producers, dancers, composers, writers, animals and others associated with the performing arts who died in 2019 are included in this edition. Date, place and cause of death are provided for each, along with a career recap and a photograph. Filmographies are given for film and television performers.

Posted on

Newly Published: The Cinema of Ermanno Olmi

New on our bookshelf:

The Cinema of Ermanno Olmi
Ian Pettigrew

Ermanno Olmi is one of cinema’s great, unsung filmmakers. Emerging onto the Italian art film scene just as the last canonical neo-realist movies were released in the late 1950s and early 1960s, several of Olmi’s films, including Il Posto (1961), The Tree of Wooden Clogs (1978) and The Legend of the Holy Drinker (1988), won top prizes at Cannes and Venice. However, the majority of his work has remained unappreciated. This, the first English language book on Olmi, explores the director’s style and evolving environmentalism, from his early, institutional short films, made while working at an Italian energy company, to his 19 feature films.

Posted on

Newly Published: Law Enforcement in American Cinema, 1894–1952

New on our bookshelf:

Law Enforcement in American Cinema, 1894–1952
George Beck

Widespread law enforcement or formal policing outside of cities appeared in the early 20th century around the same time the early film industry was developing—the two evolved in tandem, intersecting in meaningful ways. Much scholarship has focused on portrayals of the criminal in early American cinema, yet little has been written about depictions of the criminal’s antagonist. This history examines how different on-screen representations shifted public perception of law enforcement—initially seen as a suspicious or intrusive institution, then as a power for the common good.

Posted on

Newly Published: British Thrillers, 1950–1979

New on our bookshelf:

British Thrillers, 1950–1979: 845 Films of Suspense, Mystery, Murder and Espionage
Franz Antony Clinton

The three decades following WWII are considered the golden age of the British thriller film. Newer characters like James Bond, along with established icons such as Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple and The Saint, all contributed to the era’s bountiful array of cinematic mystery, danger, excitement and suspense. For the first time, the extensive output of British thrillers from 1950 to 1979 is covered in one volume.

Themed chapters cover a total of 845 films including spy thrillers, mystery thrillers, psychological thrillers, action-adventure thrillers, and crime thrillers. Within these chapters, films appear chronologically, each with a synopsis/review. Additional information provided for each film includes production companies and alternate British and U.S. titles, and the work includes eight useful appendices.