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Notes from Book Expo

Notes from Book Expo

by Francis Rizzo III

The annual publishing extravaganza BookExpo (along with its literary ComicCon cousin BookCon) returned to the Javits Center in New York City at the end of May 2018, featuring a variety of book companies sharing early looks at their upcoming titles. Though undoubtedly geared toward loyal readers of the printed word--on paper or otherwise--there was plenty for those whose tastes lean more toward the big and small screens.


Abrams had plenty to show off, from the mainstream to the obscure. September brings the hotly anticipated The Coen Brothers: This Book Really Ties the Films Together, by film writer Adam Nayman. Covering the duo’s films from Blood Simple to Hail Caesar!, the book features beautiful illustrations for each film, along with photos, facts and figures, interviews with collaborators and essays in which the author takes a deep dive into the brothers’ canon.

Fans of HBO’s Veep will likely want to check out A Woman First: First Woman: The Deeply Personal Memoir by the Former President, an autobiography written by the show’s lead character, Selina Meyer, and hitting stores in February of 2019. Though no details are available as to who may have “aided” in writing the book, it was done in cooperation with the series, so it should maintain the same sense of humor and appeal to the show’s audience.

Abrams had success with Alan Sepinwall’s critical companion to Breaking Bad last year (which returns in paperback come October.) They are giving the same treatment to a show with a fan base that should respond well to such a comprehensive analysis: The X-Files. Releasing in October, Zack Handlen and Todd VanDerWerff Monsters of the Week: The Complete Critical Companion to The X-Files features a foreword by series creator Chris Carter, and explores the show episode-by-episode, throwing in interviews with people involved in the series for good measure.

October also sees the release of A Grand Success!, the 45-year history of Aardman Animation--the stop-motion studio behind such delights as Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run and Shaun the Sheep. Anyone looking for deep dirt on the creators will need to look elsewhere (the book is written by the studio heads), but it will have all the inside details on the development of their distinctive style and their beloved characters.

Offering similar insight into a similarly beloved but entirely different group of creators, Wet Hot American Summer: The Annotated Screenplay (October) features notes, commentary, set photos and other ephemera, laid over the film’s script in a scrapbook style. Coming from Michael Showalter and David Wain, this is the kind of funny, yet insightful review of the making of the movie that the film’s fans would want to read.

One of the less obvious, but certainly intriguing titles was The Downtown Pop Underground, arriving in October. Focused on the downtown New York arts scene of the ‘60s and ‘70s, Kembrew McLeod covers the gamut of the era in terms of film and television, from Jack Smith, Jonas Mekas and Wendy Clarke to Andy Warhol, video and public access, with large swaths of the book also devoted to music, theater and art.

Abrams also has a mammoth two-volume hardcover look back at everyone’s favorite cinematic universe in October’s Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years, by Tara Bennett and Paul Terry. Checking at a combined 500 pages in a hardcover slipcase, it will feature never-before-seen set photos and over 100 exclusive interviews with cast and crew, as well as an afterword by Robert Downey Jr. At $150, it’s certainly not cheap, but it does cover 22 movies and will look impressive on your coffee table or the shelf of your Sanctum Sanctorum.


Quirk Books’ fall lineup doesn’t offer a lot in terms of TV and movie tie-ins, but it does bring Garrison Girl in August, a young-adult novel set in the Attack on Titan universe. This all-new original story follows a young woman who goes against her family’s expectations to join the forces that defend humanity against the overwhelming threat of the Titans, and deals with an assortment of challenges hurled in her path. And though it’s not a TV or movie title, it would be wrong to not mention July’s Hope Never Dies, a mystery novel by New York Times bestselling author Andrew Shaffer, starring Barack Obama and Joe Biden, with Biden narrating like the hard-boiled detective you know he could be. It’s as good as you imagine it would be.
If you’ve got an old Hollywood itch, Lyons Press will be there to scratch it this fall, starting in September with Warner Brothers: Hollywood’s Ultimate Backlot and Hollywood at Play: The Lives of the Stars Between Takes. In the former, Steven Bingen, former archivist at Warner Bros, shares stories, images and maps from the legendary production facilities, while Hollywood historians Stephen X. Sylvester, Mary Mallory and Donovan Brandt offer a look at the biggest stars of the 1920s through the 1960s, when they are off the clock, through an assortment of rare and interesting photos.

October brings an interesting pair of more focused titles. Including The Road to Oz: The Evolution, Creation, and Legacy of a Motion Picture Masterpiece, by Jay Scarfone and William Stillman, two hardcore experts on the classic film. A blend of behind-the-scenes stories and film analysis, this book provides a through examination of the movie from all angles (including the more scandalous bits), in time for the 80th anniversary. Then there’s Marilyn: Lost Images from Hollywood Photo Archive, which is obviously about Marilyn Monroe. Decades after her death, she remains an iconic personality, and somehow we haven’t seen everything she did in her brief life, as seen from the 100 rare images in this book, which are divided between her pre-stardom days, her work as an actress, her modeling days and her life as a celebrity. For fans, it’s an opportunity to see the evolution of her look over the years.

November brings another backlot book by Bingen, with Hollywood's Lost Backlot, the story of one of the most photographed places in Hollywood--the scene of production for films like Gone with the Wind, King Kong, Rebecca and Citizen Kane--and how it became an office location for Amazon. It should be a treat for cinephiles to explore this forgotten history.


Chronicle Books has an eclectic fall planned for fans of TV and movies, with August bringing a fourth volume in the They Drew As They Pleased, looking at Disney animators from the ‘50s and ‘60s (with a foreword by animators Eric Goldberg and Susan McKinsey Goldberg.) Disney author Didier Ghez examines the era’s big films, including Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Sleeping Beauty, the talents behind them and the growth of Disney as a creative force, through interviews and a wealth of images.

September offers up an official companion book to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods TV series, and he provides a foreword for Emily Haynes’ book, featuring insight into the show, interviews with Gillian Anderson, Crispin Glover, and Ian McShane, and a look at the upcoming second season. September also has something for the kids with Lights! Camera! Alice!, the children’s book biography of film pioneer Alice Guy-Blaché, by Mara Rockliff and Simona Ciraolo. Worth picking up for the young Patty Jenkins in your life.

The quickly popular Sanrio/Netflix series Aggretsuko makes the jump to the page in October with the Aggretsuko's Guide to Office Life. The tone should be obvious to anyone who has seen the show, and the book offers tips on how to deal with the minor (and not so minor) annoyances of the world of cubicles. There’s also Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy, with profiles of 75 female characters from the extended Star Wars canon, some of which are visualized for the first time here, in art by a impressive roster of female and non-binary illustrators.

Wrapping up Chronicle’s fall is the latest of their The Art of line of book, this time featuring Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2. There’s not a lot to say about these art books, which feature tons of behind-the-scenes imagery and concept art. If you like the films or the animation, you’ll want the book.


Insight Editions could fill an entire notebook to itself, as its books tend to be focused on the entertainment field, and this fall will be no different, with seven Harry Potter books alone arriving between July and October. There’s a lot for fans to want, including a pair of movie scrapbooks on Diagon Alley and Hogwarts (July and September, respectively), an interesting beginner’s guide to movie making with a focus on Potter-dom, Imaging Hogwarts (September), and a pair of updated re-releases about the making of the movies due in August. But the true gems, which take advantage of and stress the importance of physical media, are Harry Potter: Creatures (September) and Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Guide to Hogwarts (October). Creatures is a gorgeous collectible featuring the various critters in Harry’s world, all depicted in laser-cut page dioramas. It’s a beautiful piece of art to see. However, the pop-up book is one you must truly experience. You’ve never seen a pop-up book like this, as the book opens up to reveal a massive three-dimensional representation of the famed school for wizards. The work that went into this is amazing.

Beyond the world of Potter, October has Die Hard: The Ultimate Visual History, which explores everyone’s favorite Christmas film in detail, through interviews and an examination of the film’s legacy beyond the first movie. It’s joined by a new graphic novel, A Million Ways to Die Hard, which picks up John McClane’s story years later, written by Frank Tieri, with art by Mark Teixeira.

There’s no info out there just yet (the mock-up on display was a mix of blank pages and some concept art, and there’s no listing in the company’s impressive fall catalog) but the first volume of a Guillermo del Toro retrospective is coming, focusing on the filmmaker’s early work, including Chronos, Mimic and The Devil’s Backbone. Based on Insight Edition’s other del Toro books, there’s no reason to have low expectations about it.

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