Saturday, January 26, 2013

Touchstones for a Week

It's been a busy week in which nothing much happened at Bonnett's Books. Bitter cold and snow have kept in-store traffic to minimum. Chilling effects of an esoteric nature have likewise burdened the hearts and minds of our circles, to the point of making weather woes meaningless in comparison. The clocks are still working, Klaatu hasn't made the Earth stand still, and there are indeed a few things I have remembered that can be shared here.

Books about the arts of film-making/history, photography, and illustration have been simmering for some time. To be honest, they're pretty consistent topics around here, but they seem to be nearing a boil, bubbling to the surface. I anticipate a good deal of high-caliber creative activity in 2013. Keep in mind, the results of this activity may not be seen until the end of the year, or a year or two hence. The best roasts cook the longest!

History itself, both fictional and non, from the whimsical to the technical*, has also been in the air - as well as on our shelves. It's the books, after all, which primarily spur store discussions into a full run.

And last, but certainly not least, there's been a sudden and unexpected upswing in comic book interest. I'm not talking about super-collectibles, just regular comics. Of course, any comic-lover will want to take a peek at the good stuff, but interest has been trending toward titles and characters of the common kind.

In the back of my mind I wonder if all the newly-published and revamped variations of our classic heroes are less than satisfactory, thereby building nostalgia for the "good old days." It's funny how "good old days" shift with the passage of time.

Today's "good old days" comics seem to be from the early '70s to the early '80s, but when I started working here (in the 80s) the "good old days" spanned the '40s through the '60s. The older "good old days" are still quite well-regarded but tend to be difficult to obtain, which shifts the focus to newer items of more recent vintage. And current comics are changing so often it's hard to follow what's going on - but you can try.

It's a bit like the TV shows "Happy Days" and "That 70s Show". Happy Days was a hit in the 70s, 20 years after it's setting. It was the same way with That 70s Show. The big difference was in my own perspective. I lived through and remember the 70s. Things didn't seem so different between then and now. But Happy Days was of a time immemorial to me, and seemed very different than the 70s in which I watched them.

Here we are now, approaching the middle teen years of a new century, and it's just about time to do another flashback TV show (or streaming on-demand web series?) about the wacky 1990s, full of cartoon/toy references, gags about the dial-up-age internet, and grunge music. There's my pitch, Hollywood. Let's get this rolling so I can start getting paid for my big idea [I've got key episodes and the series finale in mind as well - gotta have an "exit strategy" in the '90s, you know.]

It's interesting to note that things are in fact a LOT different now than they were 20 years ago, by leaps and bounds! Comparing the 2010s to the '90s is a far bigger stretch than comparing the '90s to the '70s, or the '70s to the '50s... Wow... and Hey! Why do odd-numbered decades(1.) get to have all the fun?


Until next time...


*History book examples (available here now):
  • Historical Fiction - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • Historical Non-Fiction - A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan
  • Whimsical History - Esquire's Bad News: Greatest Bloopers, Goofs, & Scoops of Modern Times 1961-84
  • Technical History - Field Guide to Contemporary American Architecture by Carole Rifkind
  • Fake Histories (a twofer!) - 
  1. The 90s: A History of the 1990s Before They Happen, edited by Tony Hendra & Peter Elbling
  2. Our Dumb Century: 100 Years of Headlines from America's Finest News Source by The Onion