The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Midweek Miscellany


The Man With the Getaway Face — Cartoonist Darwyn Cooke talks The LA Times’ Hero Complex blog about his latest Richard Stark (AKA Donald Westlake) adaptation, The Outfit, released this month:

With the first book, I was really trying to get Don Westlake’s worldview across to people. The story had already been told several times in films… and what-have-you, but it had never been told down the line, so it was really important for me to do that. With “The Outfit,”  I was able to sort of step back and say, ‘OK, the plan is we’re doing four books here; are there ways I can make this one stronger in terms of how it relates to the three other books?’ We don’t have, say, 20 books to get our readers acquainted with this entire world, so are there things that I can do here to help in that regard? So I changed a few things. And to be honest, I fixed a couple  of tiny problems with the story that I think Donald would have giggled about if I had brought them up. ‘Oh, geez, good point…

And on the subject of Richard Stark, David Drummond recently posted the final 3 covers (there are 18 in total) for the University of Chicago Press’ Parker reissues  (mentioned previously here):

Where the Wind Blows — Stephen Page, CEO of Faber & Faber, outlines the challenges facing existing book publishers at The Guardian:

Publishers perform roles that writers need. The question now is whether writers will continue to turn to existing publishers to perform these tasks, and whether they believe they offer value. Some authors will bypass publishers (some always have) but among most authors and agents I deal with, there is no appetite to do so, because publishers continue to perform essential roles for writers in both the physical and digital worlds (editorial, marketing, distribution, and so on). However, urgent questions are rising about how a successful 21st-century publisher ought to look and function, and whether existing publishers can adapt quickly enough…

A Hipster Never Teaches  a Square Anything — Over at Good, Lexicographer Mark Peters looks at the origins of the word “hipster” and why, these days, nobody admits to being one:

“Hipster” first popped up in 1940, and The Historical Dictionary of American Slang’s first use includes the statement that “A hipster never teaches a square anything.” The OED’s early examples include semi-definitions such as “know-it-all” (1941) and “man who’s in the know, grasps everything, is alert” (1946). Those descriptions sound groovy, but in the HDAS’s definition of “hipster,” we can find the seed that grew into today’s widespread hipster-phobia: “A person who is or attempts to be hip, esp. a fan of swing or bebop music.” It’s that attempting—especially in clumsy, transparent ways—that make the hipster horrible.

And finally…

What Batman Taught Me About Being a Good Dad — The headline tells you just about all you need to know about Adam Rogers post for The Atlantic (what dad doesn’t secretly believes that Batman is full of very important life lessons?), but hey…

I am trying to build a good human being here, someone who will make the world better for his presence. Because I don’t know any other way to do it, that means I’m building a little geek… I want him to think that these stories have weight, that they mean something; they are our myths. I give my son comics and cartoons and episodes of Thunderbirds because I want him to understand right and wrong, and why it’s important to fight the dark side of the Force. The mantras spoken in this corner of pop culture are immature, but they have power: With great power comes great responsibility. Truth, justice, and the American Way. The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. No evil shall escape my sight.


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