Holy Rewatch Batman! “The Joker’s Last Laugh” / “The Joker’s Epitaph”

“The Joker’s Last Laugh” / “The Joker’s Epitaph”
Written by Peter Rabe and Lorenzo Semple Jr.
Directed by Oscar Rudolph
Season 2, Episodes 47 and 48
Production code 9747
Original air dates: February 15 and 16, 1967

The Bat-signal: The Gotham City bank is providing counterfeit $100 bills for withdrawal, which results in law-abiding citizens passing fake money. The bills are perfect on one side, but blank on the other. Haunted by the insanity of the crime—and Joker’s laughter, which is echoing in Gordon’s office from an indeterminate source—Gordon and O’Hara call Batman, which interrupts Dick’s economics homework, to the boy’s delight and Bruce’s chagrin. (Bruce waxes rhapsodic about how awesome the subject of economics is, a diatribe that could only come from someone independently wealthy…)

[Alert your anti-lunatic squad!]

Series: Holy Rewatch Batman!

Jeffrey Alan Love Talks the Art and Words of Notes from the Shadowed City in His Reddit AMA

Despite being a self-described “late bloomer” in entering the art world, Jeffrey Alan Love has created some incredibly distinctive work—from painting J.R.R. Tolkien’s Beowulf for The New Yorker to illustrating Tor.com Originals and Tor.com Publishing novellas. You’ve likely noticed his work on Yoon Ha Lee’s “Combustion Hour” and Andy Remic’s Song for No Man’s Land trilogy (both of which he provides fascinating process posts for). Now, Love is releasing his first book: Notes from the Shadowed City, a fictional travelogue filled with the sketches made by the main character exploring a fantastical world. Here’s the elevator pitch:

An amnesiac finds himself in a strange city over which floats an ominous citadel. The only clue he has to his identity is a journal which leads him to believe he was traveling to research lesser-known magical swords. As the years pass in this strange land he writes and draws his experiences in the journal in the hopes of rediscovering himself and returning home. But then he falls in love.

Love took to Reddit’s r/fantasy to discuss the book, in particular how these strange and compelling drawings inspired the accompanying text.

[Read more]

This Week in Publishing: Worldcon 75 Guests of Honor and Discovering Your Patronus

This week in science fiction/fantasy (and related subjects) publishing news… All the covers! We’re talking three Neil Gaiman book covers by Robert E. McGinnis, all in different styles; a special edition of Kushiel’s Dart; and John Scalzi’s The Dispatcher. Plus, you can finally find out what your Patronus is (and see if it matches J.K. Rowling’s) while reading up on Worldcon 75’s Guests of Honor and the MacArthur Foundation’s “genius grant” recipients.

[Read more]

Uncanny Southern Gothic: The Family Plot by Cherie Priest

The Family Plot is the latest novel from Cherie Priest. It’s a Southern Gothic horror set in Chattanooga, and it marks Priest’s return to Southern Gothic sensibilities. Her first three novels (Four and Twenty Blackbirds, Wings to the Kingdom, Not Flesh Nor Feathers) bore some of the hallmarks of the genre, before she spread out to explore zombie steampunk (the acclaimed Boneshaker and its sequels), Lovecraft meets Lizzie Borden (Maplecroft, Chapelwood), and Young Adult (I Am Princess X). Priest has never entirely left horror behind, since most of her work stirs a frisson of uncanny dread, or plays with horror tropes. (Like, for example, zombies.) But The Family Plot wholly embraces the inexplicable and inimical uncanny.

Horror’s never really been my cup of tea, but this is a really good gothic haunted house story. Until the very end, but I’ll get to that.

[Read more]

Take a Journey Through the History of Stop-Motion Animation!

Filmmaker Vugar Efendi creates video essays to explore relationships between filmmakers like Stanley Kubrick and Andrej Tarkovsky, to see the ways images from art and sculpture crop up in movies, and to explore thematic elements n the work of director like Terence Malik and Alejandro Innaritu. Now Efendi has shared a montage that takes the viewer through a concise history of stop-motion animation, from silent films through the work of Tim Burton and Henry Selick.

[Read more]

In Praise of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Infamous “Reset Button”

A friend of mine who had never watched Star Trek in any form recently decided—my endless nagging may have contributed—to check out The Next Generation. Halfway through season two he asked me, “Why do the characters start each episode acting like none of the previous episodes ever happened?”

For our purposes that’s a good definition of the “reset button.” (Some might say it’s a “soft” version of the reset button. The “hard” version would be instances of timeline modification that actually erase the events we’ve seen, or something equivalent. Star Trek: Voyager was often accused of both types of resets—more on that below.) Accustomed to modern serialized shows like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Orphan Black and Breaking Bad, the fact that, for example, Picard could uncover a conspiracy at the highest levels of Starfleet (“Conspiracy”), or Counselor Troi could become pregnant with an alien (“The Child”), or Data could be “possessed” by an egomaniacal scientist (“The Schizoid Man”) and then never again address these experiences, was both perplexing and frustrating for my friend.

And yet TNG remains a beloved series, one that’s been painstakingly re-mastered and released in Blu-ray (2012-2015), and will surely be much celebrated next year, during its thirtieth anniversary.

Could the reset button be a contributing factor to the show’s success?

[Read more]

Do Stranger Things and Parks & Recreation Share A Universe?

Stranger Things takes place in a fictional town in Indiana.

And Parks and Recreation takes place in a fictional town in Indiana.

Town rich kid (turned mostly nice guy) Steve Harrington sports towering, Everest-like hair.

Spoiled man-child Jean-Ralphio Saperstein also rocks high hair.

When the internet turned its flaming eye on surprise Netflix hit Stranger Things, it was quick to notice these connections, and soon a rumor sprang forth that Steve Harrington was Jean-Ralphio’s dad. And now, thanks to time travel (possibly via a Delorean, since that will continue Stranger Things’ ‘80s fetish) the two have met! And if you click through you can see Steve Harrington teaching Jean-Ralphio how to shave.

[Read more]

Haunting Grounds: As I Descended by Robin Talley

As I Descended is Robin Talley’s third novel, following Lies We Tell Ourselves and What We Left Behind, and it’s her first in a speculative vein. As in her previous work, As I Descended is a young adult book with queer girl protagonists; in this case, Maria and Lily are a couple at an exclusive boarding school, but aren’t public about their relationship. This is, however, just one of the conflicts in the book—which is perhaps best described as “lesbian boarding school Macbeth,” complete with ghosts, predictions, and the twists of a traditional revenge-tragedy.

Maria is in need of the coveted Kinglsey Prize, a full scholarship ride to a university of her choice, to be able to attend college with Lily after their graduation from Acheron. However, Delilah—the most popular girl in their class—is at the top of the prize list, even though she doesn’t need the financial support at all. Maria and Lily, with the help of spirits that Maria can communicate with, hatch a plan to knock her down a peg. The problem is that the ghosts might not be as neutral or helpful as our protagonists would like to believe.

[A review.]

The Pressed Fairy Journal of Madeline Cottington Sweepstakes and Trailer!

We want to send you a copy of Brian and Wendy Froud’s The Pressed Fairy Journal of Madeline Cottington, available September 27th from Abrams!

Renowned artist/author duo Brian and Wendy Froud present, for the first time, the backstory of Cottington Hall and its intriguing inhabitants: the Cottington family and the faeries living among them. The rise and fall of this eccentric British family gives us humorous, and sometimes tragic, glimpses into how the Cottingtons became inexorably entwined with the faeries during the late 19th and 20th centuries. When a descendant, Maddi, visits the Cottingtons’s dilapidated hall, she finds herself caught up in a story of intrigue and mystery. While reading the letters and journals of her ancestors and discovering a wealth of inventions aimed at allowing humans to visit the fairy realm unharmed, Maddi slowly becomes aware of the faeries and their world.

Want to know more? Take a look at the trailer below—created by Toby Froud—and then comment in the post to enter!

[Read more]

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched. The heirs of the city’s most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou, share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on the Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die.

Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding the Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy… and perhaps turn against his own clan.

Mahyanai Runajo only wants to protect her city—but she’s the only one who believes it’s in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara.

Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting…

Rosamund Hodge’s Bright Smoke, Cold Fire is available September 27th from Balzer + Bray.

[Read more]

Treading Ink: Disney’s Robin Hood

Disney animators faced the 1970s in a glum mood. After Walt Disney’s death in 1966, it seemed more than possible that the storied animation department would be closed down completely as the company moved on to focus on other, more profitable things such as family friendly live action films, theme parks, and merchandise. The Aristocats had earned back its costs, but not much more than that, and critics had noted—or claimed to have noted—the lack of the distinct Walt Disney touch. The animation studio’s budget was slashed. About all the animators really had on their side was company history, which virtually identified “Disney” with “animation.” To continue the success of the Disney brand, they argued, the animation studios needed to continue to produce full length films. Disney executives were not quite persuaded, but did release just enough—just barely enough—money to let the animators cobble together another full length film, Robin Hood.

[Read more]

Revealing the Cover for Ellen Klages’ Passing Strange

We’re thrilled to share the cover for Passing Strange, a new novella from World Fantasy Award winning author Ellen Klages. Set in 1940s San Francisco and inspired by pulps, film noir, and screwball comedy, Passing Strange is a story as unusual and complex as the city itself.

Head below for the full cover, illustrated by Gregory Manchess and designed by Christine Foltzer.

[Read more]