The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Link Roundup

Two titles worth a look from my summer reading pile

Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World's Most Famous Heroine by Tim Hanley: A fascinating study of the creation of Wonder Woman (by polyamorous, polygraph developer and bondage enthusiast, William Moulton Marston) and the character's evolution - and sometimes de-evolution - as a feminist icon over the decades. Hanley performs a very granular analysis of Wonder Woman comics - including counting bondage panels, noting the uptick in references to Sappho, and looking at the target audiences for the ads and supplementary material during different periods - that makes for an excellent cultural history.

Black and White and Blue: Adult Cinema from the Victorian Age to the VCR by Dave Thompson: The title feels like a bit of a misnomer as 90% of the book is focused on the stag or "smoker" era (with the premiere of Deep Throat as the final curtain), but this is fine by me as the porno-chic era is well covered elsewhere. Thompson does Studs Terkel level service to this hidden genre by collecting stories and anecdotes from surviving stag-era performers and producers and framing these personal stories with historical insights into underground film distribution, censorship, and the morality of the day. Two eureka moments in the book for me were the author's linking of the popularity of fraternal organizations with the need for access to porn; and the post-WWII explosion of stag films being due to cheap army surplus movie cameras. Thompson's notion of these pioneering dirty movies as proto DIY, punk rock film-making from the first enthusiastic amateurs is compelling (but I'm betting a bit rose-tinted) and his ground-breaking film scholarship makes this a great companion to Legs McNeil's, The Other Hollywood.

High-tech bookmarks for your old-fashioned dead-tree tomes that tweet at you if you haven't read in a while (which would quickly lead me to block and unfollow my entire library) (link via BookPatrol); A crowd-sourced project to document and index the Golden Age of Canada-produced comic books, Canada's Own Comics (link via Comic Book Daily); A goodbye from Seattle's Wessel and Lieberman Booksellers and a new hello to the relocated and redesigned St. Mark's Books

R.I.P Marilyn Burns, final girl from the classic Texas Chainsaw Massacre. As many times as I've watched TCM, I've probably heard her scream for a solid 8 hours (obit from AV Club); a cheap but charmingly gonzo trailer for Hellyfish (via Twitch)

An excellent (and frameable) infographic grouping rappers by their relative vocabulary size (which includes 2Pac Shakespeare and Melle Melville as reference points)

NPR on the marketing of cricket flour cookies and other edible insect foodstuffs; 33 odd and interesting facts about your facts about your favorite toys from Mental Floss (link via Polygon); A memorably bizarre collection of pre-photoshop porn adding the head of Mary Tyler Moore (and male characters from her shows) to hardcore photos (rescued and archived by Mitch O'Connell) (NOT WORK SAFE); A gallery of vintage photos from the catalog of Animated Display Creators a supplier of animatronic ghouls, witches and gorillas for the decoration of haunted houses (also from Mitch O'Connell's blog)

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