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Wednesday, February 11,2015

Drawing on experience

Scott McCloud puts theory into practice in his first graphic novel

by Bill Castanier
Many comic book collectors, scholars and aficionados call Scott McCloud the “grandfather of comics,” but it may be more accurate to call him the “Yoda of comics” because of his singular ability to describe comics in terms of meaning, form and function. The reason for these platitudes is McCloud’s 1993 book “Understanding Comics,” the first book to explain the theory of comics and how words and pictures work together to tell a story. He followed that with “ Reinventing Comics” (2000) and “Making Comics” (2006), creating a triptych that is used in virtually every comic book class taught in the world.
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Wednesday, February 4,2015

Take a back road

´Ride Michigan’ offers motorcycle tours off the beaten path

by Bill Castanier
About this time of year, as the snow piles up outside their windows, motorcyclists start to get antsy. Bill Murphy, who has written five books on motorcycle excursions, is already planning his next road trip on his Harley-Davidson Road King. In his most recent book, “Ride Michigan,” Murphy takes motorcycle enthusiasts on a tour of Michigan’s back roads, weaving through small towns and skirting the Great Lakes. The book is divided into four sections: the north woods, the lakeshores, the southern farmlands and the Great Lakes, and offers more than 30 tour suggestions. These tours range from excursions that only take a few hours to tours that require several days.
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Wednesday, January 28,2015

Crowned with glory

Photographer Michael Cunningham discusses his book ´Crowns´

by Bill Castanier
If Michael Cunningham has his way, the downtown branch of the Capital Area District Library will be, for one afternoon, transformed into an aviary of fancy church hats. Cunningham visits the library Sunday to discuss his photography book, “Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats,” and invites attendees to wear their finest church hats to the presentation. If you plan to attend, however, you need to know a few things first. Peggy Knox, a subject in “Crowns,” lays out the three church hat rules:
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Thursday, January 22,2015

A stranger Hmong us

New book explores the history of Michigan’s Hmong immigrants

by Bill Castanier
The Hmong are one of Michigan’s most overlooked immigrant groups, often lumped together with the Vietnamese and Cambodian peoples who fled to the U.S. following the Vietnam War. Martha Aladjem Bloomfield’s new book, “Hmong Americans in Michigan,” is an attempt to put a spotlight on this community. The Hmong are, in fact, a distinct ethnic group found in Laos, China, Thailand and Vietnam. In Michigan, the Hmong are mostly known for their community gardens, their vibrant tapestries, a cultural exhibit in Frankenmuth and a supporting role in Clint Eastwood’s 2008 movie “Gran Torino.”
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Wednesday, January 7,2015

The perpetual optimist

Lansing sci fi author pays Z homage to ‘Dr. Who,’ ‘Peanuts’

by Bill Castanier
Much like a professional athlete, Lansing-based science fiction writer Jim C. Hines has felt the buzz of performing at the highest possible levels in his profession. Hines, 40, has just published his 10th science fiction novel, “Unbound,” the third in his “Magic Ex Libris” series. “It’s almost like nothing else when you are writing and everything comes together,” Hines said. “You say, ‘Now I’ve got it. I’ve created something really good.’”
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Tuesday, December 23,2014

Michigan stories

Gift suggestions for books from and about the Great Lake State

by Bill Castanier
Adventurous chipmunks, as featured in City Pulse´s cover story this week, aren’t the only Michigan characters that made their way onto the page this year. If you’re still looking for a last-minute gift for that bookworm on your list, consider one of these selections with local connections. Dennis O. Cawthorne’s “Mackinac Island: Inside, Up Close, and Personal” and Michael Federspiel’s “Little Traverse Bay” are both delightful looks at the history of Michigan’s cottage life.
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Wednesday, December 17,2014

Ford focus

Pulitzer Prize-winning MSU grad back with new novella

by Bill Castanier
Author Richard Ford is on the road again promoting his newest book, “Let Me Be Frank With You.” Along for the ride is Frank Bascombe, the peripatetic protagonist in the book’s four novellas, as well as three of Ford’s other novels. In a phone conversation last week from a hotel in Oxford, Miss., Ford, 70, said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the book’s popularity; a recent lecture in Pittsburgh attracted 1,000 readers. A commonly held belief by critics and reviewers that novelists sometimes turn to novellas or short story collections to fulfill contracts, but Ford bristles at that suggestion: “It’s not a knockoff by any means." Ford said he didn’t take on a novel because he “didn’t have the chops for it.”
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Wednesday, December 10,2014

Mario world

The voice of the Detroit Tigers reflects on 20 years in the big leagues

by Bill Castanier
In 1995, Mario Impemba had been calling play-by-play in minor league baseball for eight years and he was wondering how much longer he could last. Then he got a call from the Angels — that would be the major league baseball team based in Anaheim. Although his story does make it seem like someone was looking out for him.
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Wednesday, December 3,2014

Historic junk mail

Auction features vintage marketing pieces, personal correspondences

by Bill Castanier
Now that the ephemeral gewgaws of Black Friday are in the recycling bin, Craig Whitford, a local numismatic and philatelic auctioneer, is giving collectors a chance to purchase what he calls “historic junk mail.” The actual term is “cover envelopes,” but that doesn’t do justice to this collection of over 1,400 pieces of vintage advertising.
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Wednesday, November 19,2014

Tarzan and the Great Lakes State

Book recounts author Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Michigan connections

by Bill Castanier
Generations have grown up reading the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, including his enduring “Tarzan” and “John Carter of Mars” fantasy series. They’ve pored over the countless movie, TV show and comic book adaptations, but few know about the love-hate relationship the Chicago native had for Michigan.
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