Reading list for Aug.06

Title: Superman Returns: The Complete Shooting Script
Authors: Michael Dougherty & Dan Harris and Bryan Singer
Year: 2006
Publisher: No idea.
What: The full shooting script to the best, coolest, most amazing movie ever made, plus a few storyboard panels and interviews with each of the writers.
Comments: Now this one totally rocks and it’s far better than last year’s script for Batman Begins, because it’s duly typeset in a Courier-like font as movie scripts should be, the formatting is technically accurate and it even includes notes in the heading as to what specific review/date the each page belongs, so the reader is able to glimpse at the inner workings of a script.
The fun is not strictly technical, however (even though I’m a sucker for Holywood-style movie scripts) because in the scripts are included many pieces that never made into the final version of the movie, such as Superman’s trip to the Krypton ruins in a spaceship, right in the beginning, or Lex Luthor admitting he was the person responsible for the ruse of Krypton’s comeback.
Highly recommended!

Title: Death of a Salesman
Author: Arthur Miller
Year: 1949
Publisher: Don't know.
What: A Pulitzer Prize-winning play for the Theatre and supposedly the lynchpin of modern North-American drama, but of course I wouldn’t know that. The story centers on the twilight years of the career of this middle-aged traveling salesman and the struggles he and his family go through as they try to find their place in the world.
Comments: I really shouldn’t comment on this one because I’ve never seen this play reenacted nor understand zilch about drama; still the characterization is superb and the way the author explores the stage direction is, for a newbie like me, simply astounding.
The story itself is very solid with very moving characters and tender moments; it most certainly hasn’t become outdated after more than 50 years, for its themes (family, the dreams and aspirations of the common man under capitalism, coming of age, role-models, etc) haunt every one of us to this day.

Title: Alan Moore’s Writing for Comics vol.I
Author: Alan Moore
Year: 2003 (originally written in 1985)
Publisher: Clueless
What: An essay originally published in an obscure British fanzine by the greatest comics writer of the 1980s, and probably one of the greatest writers in the story of the medium (Moore wrote Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing, Promethea, among many others), about the general techniques for creating a comic book script right from the start. It centers specifically on the relation between theme and plot and character development (the bit in which he describes how he came up with the personality for Etrigan the Demon is priceless!)
There is also an afterword written by the author himself in recent years, in which he basically says “Never mind me, I was a rookie, I didn’t know what I was talking about”- which is kind of sad because early, DC Comics-Alan Moore was so much better than late, ABC Comics-Alan Moore.
Comments: Alan Moore is good and early Alan Moore is downright perfect. Not only the essay is very fun to read and not technical at all (it reads like a conversation with the reader), it features many detailed examples of his works.
My only complaint would be for the lack of script examples per se (probably due to publishing rights) and the weird, meaningless illustrations chosen to go along with the piece.

Title: Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
Author: Scott McCloud
Year: 1993
Publisher: Forgot.
What: First and foremost, an Art book done in comicbook form, about the medium called Comics. The author explores the full range of the medium, going from its very definition as “sequential art”, passing through its evolution throughout History (not just comics per se but from Hieroglyphs to Impressionism, etc), and an in-depth examination of all of its structural elements.
Comments: Whoa, brainy book alert! This one blows you away, because you’ve read comic books for your entire life, for more than twenty years, so you pretty much think you’ve gotten a good handle on thing, what they mean and how they’re done… and all of a sudden it’s like this guy basically comes up to you and says, “I’ll tap into the full potential of comics as an Art form, and I’ll do it in a way that will make even the harshest critic respect the medium”… and… he… delivers... it!
Kind of like Hiroshima was to WWII, really: You never see it coming and makes you look at things (comics and Art per se) under a whole different perspective.
It’s kind of funny because I’ve waited more than ten years to read this book because well, because I’m such a d*ckhead and I thought the guy was a bl*whard… How wrong I was.

Title: The Rules of Attraction
Author: Bret Easton Ellis <-quickly becoming my favorite author of all time!
Year: 1987
Publisher: Don’t care.
What: Said to be the “death of romance”, it’s a story made of fragments of narration by each of the book’s main characters (two guys and a girl) plus the supporting cast, as they spend a term in a small East Coast College during the mid-1980s having meaningless, drunken sex with each other, doing drugs, going to parties, etc. It’s a cynical portrayal of a materialistic society that has let go of all its moral qualms or search for inner, deeper meaning on things, self-consciously trading outdated values for a me-centered, instant-gratification culture typical of the late 20th century (to this day, baby!), times a hundred, and yet it is chillingly realistic.
Also, characters from Ellis’ other books make an appearance (Clay, from Less Than Zero), and so does American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman in his very first appearance! (Patrick is the older brother to Sean, one of the main characters of The Rules…)
It was made into a terrific (but very toned-down!) movie in 2002 starring James Van Der Beek (yes, “Dawson”) and Shannyn Sossamon.
Comments No plot description will do this book justice; it is probably the best book I’ve read this year and mind you, if you remember past posts I did say the same thing of Ellis’ other works.
Characterization is nothing short of fantastic; you’d swear he’s writing about real people and you get the feeling those characters actually exist out there in the real world somewhere…
Look, trust me on this one and read the damn book, willya?!