The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

March 4, 2017
by Dan
1 Comment

40 Years of 2000AD

The Guardian looks back on 40 years of British weekly SF comic 2000AD: Forty years ago on 26 February, something extraordinary happened to British comics. Newsagents’ shelves were suddenly stuffed with a brand new title, its masthead garish red and yellow, with … Continue reading

April 10, 2015
by Dan
3 Comments

The Eeriness of the English Countryside

Robert Macfarlane, whose new book Landmarks was published in the UK last month, has a fascinating essay in The Guardian on the writer M. R. James, and the eerie horror of the English countryside: We do not seem able to leave MR James (1862–1936) behind. … Continue reading

January 10, 2014
by Dan
0 comments

Child’s Play: Blockbuster Movies, Comics and Superheroes

At RogerEbert.com, Alexander Hul has an interesting piece on self-indulgent movie directors and the degeneration of blockbusters: Artists certainly are allowed to make films that only satisfy their own creative pursuits. But blockbusters—more than any other kind of film—are conceived … Continue reading

July 10, 2013
by Dan
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Alan Moore: The Revolution Will Be Crowd-Funded

photo: Leo Williams Alan Moore discusses his short films, crowd-funding, the Occupy movement, The Prisoner, and zombies (amongst other things) at Salon: While the revolution will be certainly televised, it strikes me that there is a strong possibility that the … Continue reading

June 3, 2013
by Dan
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Alan Moore: The Believer Interview

At The Believer magazine, Peter Bebergal, author of Too Much to Dream: A Psychedelic American Boyhood, talks to Alan Moore about his epic work-in-progress Jerusalem, magic, art, gods, and demons: Magic and art tend to share a lot of the same language. They both talk … Continue reading

May 30, 2013
by Dan
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Karen Berger: Mother of ‘The Weird Stuff’

“It’s the weird stuff… The stuff that makes you different.” The New York Times interviews Karen Berger, the former executive editor of Vertigo, whose departure from DC Comics has raised questions about the imprint’s future: When Ms. Berger joined DC … Continue reading

May 17, 2013
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

They Call it Madness — Jess Nevins  reviews the H.P. Lovecraft collection The Classic Horror Stories for the L.A. Review of Books: Lovecraft was not the best of his era in any of the genres he wrote in. Clark Ashton Smith … Continue reading

May 10, 2013
by Dan
0 comments

Something for the Weekend

Arresting Charm — Writer and artist Howard Chaykin on the late Carmine Infantino who died April 4th: My best friend Michael Abramowitz was a huge fan of Carmine’s, and I held and hold his tenure on The Flash from 1956 … Continue reading

April 19, 2013
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

Making Bird Noises — Dwight Garner profiles novelist John Le Carré, for the New York Times: In his lesser books, le Carré’s prose can thin out perilously, but at his best, he’s among the finest writers alive. There’s a reason … Continue reading

December 21, 2012
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

Minimal Realism — The first part of a Charley Harper retrospective at Codex99 (via Coudal): Commercial ad work proved difficult for Harper. He was frustrated illustrating the “happy housewife” and began to tire of realism altogether, stating that it “revealed … Continue reading

February 29, 2012
by Dan
0 comments

Midweek Miscellany

Elegant Simplicity — A nice profile of book designer David Pearson at Spitalfields Life: On the basis of “Penguin By Design,” David was given the job to design the covers for Penguin Great Ideas, an experimental series of low-budget books … Continue reading

February 15, 2012
by Dan
0 comments

Midweek Miscellany

Tracing History — Alice Rawsthorn on the beauty of printed books for the New York Times: Some things seem to designed to do their jobs perfectly, and the old-fashioned book is one. What else could be quite as efficient at … Continue reading

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