Fun at Foster's blog

New Books: Graphic Novels

If you’ve ever perused the New Book section of the library, you may have noticed an increasing number of graphic novels. In fact, there are currently over thirty of them.  Even if you may not be an avid comic book reader, it’s a worthwhile part of the collection that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Among the titles on the shelf, you’ll find graphic novels with Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Superman. There are also some based on television shows, such as Castle, Once Upon a Time, and True Blood. I happened to like True Blood: Where Were You?, which recalls a time before the series when vampires first went public with their identities, telling the story from each characters point of view. Once Upon a Time: Shadow of the Queen looks at the complex relationship between the Queen and the Huntsman.
 
Other graphic novel titles are adaptations of well-known books. Stephen King’s The Dark Tower is given its own series. James Patterson’s Zoo, a tale of the animal kingdom fighting back against man, has also been adapted. Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was particularly well-adapted, but it‘s definitely not for kids.
 
Still others are for those looking for something beyond the traditional superhero titles. Saga, a graphic novel about two warring alien factions, is particularly good. Jerusalem: A Family Portrait tells the story of three generations of one family living in the midst of Israel’s struggles with Palestine. Husbands tells of two gay men who wake up one morning to find themselves married after a crazy Vegas weekend.

There are many titles worth looking into, with new ones coming monthly. There’s a little something for everyone, and you’ll find them in our New Book section.
 
Heather, the graphic novel goddess

OZ-sified


The last few months have seen several high profile adaptations of American author, L. Frank Baum's major work, THE WIZARD OF OZ. Indeed, due to WICKED, the book and Broadway musical, Baum's story has seldom been out of the mass popular culture consciousness for the past few years.

The summer brought OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL, a prequel which imagines how the wizard got to Oz in the first place. Of course that would also involve the back stories of, in this case, three witches, and how they got that way.

This wizard being a bit of a bounder, the story is also spiced up with a bit of romantic intrigue (of which there is none in the Baum original). But ultimately this version comes off as an epic fantasia on the original book, and features some truly spectacular 3-D effects. (This cyclone and the droll credit sequence with its jaunty Danny Elfman score are both knockouts).

GREAT AND POWERFUL was released by Disney Productions which at one time had planned an OZ musical, THE RAINBOW ROAD TO OZ. Originally planned for the Mouseketeers, who actually did a promo for the film on one of Disney's 1950s TV shows, it was never made. Disney finally did do "Return to Oz", loosely based on the second Oz book, in 1985.

Coincidentally (or maybe not) the original MGM 1939 version was released in a 3-D transformation in September. Personally, I've always thought OZ was a 3-D film just waiting to happen, and the detailed set design and camera setups adapt themselves perfectly to the dimensional process. The first circular truck around Munchkinland after Dorothy steps out of black-and-white into dazzling 3-D Technicolor is breathtaking, as is the incredibly choreographed Munchkin mini-opera which follows.

Even the BxW prologue, which looks like something out of John Ford's GRAPES OF WRATH, is enhanced by 3-D, particularly the shots of the barren road leading away from Dorothy's farm which now actually recedes into the far gray distance.

An odd postscript to this year's OZ-mania in a new stage musical which played the Pantages in LA in September. This version uses the MGM score but includes several new songs by, of all people, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice (of EVITA/CATS fame). None of the new tunes were especially memorable - sample title: Red Shoe Blues, a song for the Wicked Witch! - and the overall production, co-produced by Sir Andrew himself, and, aside from a dynamic video cyclone, looked surprisingly tacky.

It's now almost difficult to recall that the source material for all this was a charmingly artless story that has been sited as the first (1900) genuinely American fairy tale. Though not without its naive charm, today the book itself seems like a first draft for the MGM film. Several writers labored for months on the beautifully cohesive screenplay, and many of the film's lines pervasively entered the language years ago.The literary Kansas opening takes up only a few pages and, there are no ruby slippers (they're silver) and no suggestion that Dorothy's journey was a dream. MGM did loosely pick up on the original W. W. Denslow illustrations, however, particularly in regard to Dorothy's hairstyle and the basic look of the Scarecrow and the Tin Man.

Foster's collection of various editions includes "Journeys Through OZ," with both "Wizard" with Denslow's illustrations, and Baum's second book, "The Marvelous Land of Oz," with John R. Neill's more sophisticated images (and a protagonist - spoiler alert - who turns out to be transexual).

Fans of the book might also search out the comprehensive "Annotated Wizard of Oz," C. N. Potter, NY, 1971. And any film buff would find "The Making of The Wizard of Oz," Knopf, 1977, by film historian Aljean Harmetz, fascinating.

So.... To Oz? To Oz!

The opinions of, and critique by, Ross Care

Ukulele check-out!

Catch the Aloha spirit with one of or gorgeous Takamine concert size ukuleles. Yes, we are a library and yes, we do check-out ukuleles, we do things a bit differently around here! One word of warning, we have five ukuleles for check-out and they are going fast!!

There will also be a free beginner’s ukulele class, so check one of our ukuleles out or bring your own. Brad from Anacapa Ukulele will guide us through the tranquil ways of the ukulele. The first class is in the Topping room Saturday, November 9th at 1 P.M.

While we are on the subject of ukuleles, our databases have some classic ukulele songbooks, delightful old books that are still relevant today. Our brick and mortar library has some great ukulele books too! Take some time to explore these options, you will be thoroughly entertained.

Check out the link to Open Library where I discovered many ukulele songbook gems.

Two Trees

In 1898, Joseph Sexton and Owen Marron planted thirteen Blue Gum eucalyptus trees on a hill overlooking the city of Ventura.  By 1940, only five remained, the rest were victims of a fire.  These five were featured on a bookplate designed by Cornelius Botke. Oddly enough, while Mr. Botke’s bookplate shows the hill with five trees directly behind the library, it is one of the few places in Ventura from which the trees cannot be seen.  Vandals chopped down three of the trees, which were later replaced.  
At some point, three of the replacement trees became victims of vandalism once again.  There is now one tree from the original thirteen and one replacement tree left.  These two trees have become the City of Ventura’s unofficial symbol and a beloved landmark for its citizens.  More stories of Ventura’s history  are available at Foster Library.

Resident Photographer, Aleta Rodriguez

 

 

A busy weekend at Foster Library!

Friday, Oct 11th

7-8 p.m.

Saturday, Oct 12th

5-6:30 p.m.

Sunday, Oct 13th

4:30-6 p.m.

  • Author talks with John Mulhall
  • Reading and book signing of Geddy's Moon
  • Bird watching
  • Basics of bird identification in an interactive workshop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information about any of these events, call the library at 648-2716!

The ABC's of Building an Opera at Foster Library

 

 

Foster Library Presents:

The ABC's of Building an Opera

A special talk with the director of the Santa Barbara Opera

Get a backstage look at what it takes to build and direct these magnificent productions!

6:30 p.m. on October 4th

Drawing Manga

 

For some people, it’s not enough to just read manga (or graphic novels for that matter). They want to draw manga as well. Now, if you’re like me that might be a bit of a challenge. I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler and my circles have always been more like ovals, but I was willing to give it a try. So, I decided to find myself a book on drawing manga, to see if someone as artistically challenged as myself could actually do it.

The book I chose was Manga for the Beginner by Christopher Hart. I know there are quite a few books like these out there in the world, so you’ll have lots to choose from. Now, to make this review fair, I actually attempted to draw at least one of the pictures in the book. I figure if I’m going to write a review about drawing manga, I should put my money where my mouth is. For someone not inclined to draw, I thought I did pretty good. I followed the basic guidelines for drawing a face and, using the picture as a reference, it began to take shape. 

Now, to be honest, it sometimes felt like the book jumped ahead a few steps, going from drawing a basic body shape to having a completed character in costume, but then I’ve noticed that most books on drawing manga do that.  Still, some of the basic steps were included, and it was enough to make me comfortable with the drawing I was making. Now, I won’t be bringing out any new manga anytime soon, but I can at least say that I tried it, and that might just be enough for me.

Now, for those who have stayed ‘til the end… 

The reason I’m focusing on drawing manga is that Foster Library will be having a minicon of sorts on October 26 and it will include an art contest. So, if you like to draw and are brave enough to try, you can pick up an application (with contest rules) at the library. Deadline is October 22.

Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess

Butterflies!

Ventura is host to a myriad number of butterflies.  Most of us are familiar with the Monarch butterfly, but did you know that there are dozens of different butterflies that call Ventura County home?  Foster library has many Butterfly Books to help you identify our winged neighbors.

Resident Photographer Aleta Rodriguez

MORE SILLY SYMPHONIES

MORE SILLY SYMPHONIES - Two-Disc DVD Set, Foster Children's Section
 
A title in Leonard Maltin's series of Walt Disney TREASURES DVD sets is "Disney Rarities" but Foster has another Maltin rarity in the 2-disc (now out-of-print) MORE SILLY SYMPHONIES. This is a collection of now-rare short cartoons, mostly from the 1930s which, along with the more celebrated Mickey Mouse shorts, laid the groundwork for the first features and the Disney mega-empire of today.
 
Collectively the shorts may also be seen as a history of early 20th century cinema, embracing innovations such as sound, color, and precise muscial synchronization (The 1930s were an era of remarkable technical progress in Hollywood).
 
The early Symphonies (like the first Mickeys) are in black-and-white, and were launched by SKELETON DANCE in 1929 when Disney wanted to showcase music more than was possible in the Mickey shorts. Though SKELETON DANCE is not in this collection, HELL'S BELLS, a somewhat bizarre short from 1929, provides a key example of the crude but energetic style of this period. Also from 1929 is THE MERRY DWARFS, a key example of early musical camp.
 
The early 1930s ushered in the first Technicolor shorts. The Sillys drew on a variety of source material from classic fairy and folk tales to myths and legends. THE GODDESS OF SPRING (1934), based on the Greek myth of Persephone, is a virtual mini-opera in which all the dialogue is sung. MOTHER GOOSE GOES HOLLYWOOD, from 1938, features movie star caricatures which adult movie buffs (of a certain age) will find amusing.
 
But there's a variety of silliness, amazingly detailed, ground-breaking animation, and excellent music to be discovered by kids and adults alike in this marvelous set. And be sure to listen to the commentaries, some of which are voiced-over by yours truly.
 
Staff member - Ross
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