Life was different in 1999, and so were the movies
In 1999, life was good: The economy was strong and jobs beckoned for college students like me. George W. Bush was just a Texas governor, and the only threat to our booming economy was the looming Y2K bug. Remember those times?
It was a markedly good year at the movies, too. Perhaps no film from that year helped set the tone for the ensuing decade more than Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. A mega-budgeted sequel full of hype, anticlimax and sound and fury, Menace nonetheless became a huge hit because of a built-in base of fans who would hate it—but lined up for it and its sequels nonetheless. This was the ultimate triumph of marketing over content.
But while Phantom Menace might have been a harbinger of the remakes, sequels and general pointlessness of the next 10 years, the films of 1999 are noteworthy in other ways, too.
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I wrote some book reviews for the Independent Weekly’s Christmas issue. You can read all of them here: http://www.indyweek.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A272679
Here’s one of my reviews:
The Hunter, The Man with the Getaway Face and The Outfit
By Richard Stark
University of Chicago Press
Few writers have pulled off the Jekyll-and-Hyde act that Donald Westlake has with his pseudonym, Richard Stark. Westlake is best known for comic, twisty thrillers, while Stark is the hardest of the hard-boiled, crafting crime novels so cold-blooded it’s almost impossible to believe they’re written by the same person. Stark’s work has fallen in and out of print over the decades and is highly coveted by collectors. Thankfully, the University of Chicago Press is now rereleasing his “Parker” series three at a time, beginning with The Hunter, The Man with the Getaway Face and The Outfit.
Parker is Stark’s favorite protagonist, a professional thief for whom crime is a job, and a job to be done well. We never learn his first name, nor have any access to his thoughts; we simply observe him as he goes about his dirty work. The Hunter, which was memorably filmed in 1967 by John Boorman as the Lee Marvin vehicle Point Blank and as 1999’s Payback with Mel Gibson (check out the recent DVD that hews closer to the novel), is a simple tale of vengeance, as Parker seemingly rises from the dead after a post-job betrayal. The first three novels tell a loose trilogy as Parker takes on the criminal organization known as “The Outfit,” and there are more novels to come, including a graphic novel adaptation next year from award-winning comic artist Darwyn Cooke. Welcome back, Parker. The literary world’s a brighter place with your stories. —Zack Smith
From Spiderwick to Comics: Talking to Holly Black
By Zack Smith
We recently chatted with artist Ted Naifeh about his work on the recent graphic novel The Good Neighbors Book One: Kin from Scholastic. Now we’re privileged to talk with that book’s writer, Holly Black.
Black is one of the most popular authors for young readers, best-known for her series The Spiderwick Chronicles with Tony DiTerlizzi, which was the basis for a popular film earlier this year. She’s also the author of the more teen-oriented Modern Fareie Tales series, which includes Tithe, Valiant and Ironside.
Now, Black’s tackling the graphic novel format with The Good Neighbors, the dark tale of Rue Silver, a young girl who discovers her mother’s disappearance is linked to a world lurking beneath the surface of her own – a world of faeries who are decidedly more dangerous than children’s stories have led us to expect. Black took some time out to answer our questions about her book, her favorite comics, and why she decided to get into the graphic novel game.
Read the full interview here.
I chat comics with USA TODAY’s Whitney Matheson in her latest podcast. You might find a few gift ideas!
You can download or stream the podcast here:
Some new pieces I’ve been doing at NC State.
Computer Science Alumni …
Ron Holanek (BS, 1985 /MS, 1995)
Financial Risk Management Expert
Some people just see the numbers – whether it’s guessing the number of jelly beans in a jar or the cost of a bag of groceries at just a glance. Since he was a boy, Ron Holanek has been able to see the numbers – and his nearly two decades of work at NC State gave him the skills to turn this into a successful IT and risk management company.
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