Friday, September 23, 2011

A NEW Shel Silverstein Book! "Every Thing On It" is out now! Plus, an Ode to it too!

Shel Silverstein's Every Thing On It

Most kids born in the 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's (and the parents of those children) are very familiar with the poetry and art of a man named Shel Silverstein.  For many, you can start a random line and they'll even be able to finish it or you'll at least get a knowing smile... like "Help I'm being eaten by a boa constrictor!" ("A boa constrictor! A boa constrictor!") or "Sarah Cynthia Silvia Stout" ("would not take the garbage out...").  His books are in over 20 languages and he has sold over 20 million copies of his works worldwide.  Books like The Giving Tree and The Missing Piece, and poetry collections like Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic are a must in every library.

Well, fan, Romans, parents, kids, and monkeys lend me your eyes, ears, and nose... There is a NEW book of about 150 never-before-published poems (and drawings!) and it clocks in at almost 200 pages!.  Oh, and Shel Silverstein's new book is called Every Thing On It! It came out September 20th, 2011 and it is fantastic (I picked mine up at Target for a little over what it is currently priced at on Amazon).  It has the exact same look and feel as the classic collections of Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light In the Attic (and Falling Up too, in case you missed that one).

His humor is here -- of course -- and the dark side that kids secretly love is here too (like bad children who... well.. die!). The illustrations have the same look and feel as all of his "normal" illustrations.  His use of irony and turns of phrase are just like you remember them.

And now... for something completely different...

An Ode to Shel Silverstein's Every Thing On It
by Robert Brouhard

It's here!
It's here!
Shel Silverstein's,
Every Thing On It!
Let's cheer!
Let's cheer!
Stay up late,
And read all of it!

I just bought it today,
And I am oh so happy to say,
There are poems in here,
that will remind you of yesteryear. 
At the start or by the end,
It may bring to you, my friend,
a happy or nostalgic tear.

There are plays on assumptions,
and he'll fool your perceptions,
There are funny stories,
(Even some that are gore-ies),
There are poems of insightfulness,
And some full of frightfulness...
But no matter how they beg,
No matter how they wheaze,
Don't let your parents read it,
Unless they say "Please."

So come and roam,
Through this Poetry tome,
Full of four lined quickies,
And eighty lined longies,
Boy and girls and ponies,
Talking tummies and macaronies
Legsies and toesies
And fingies as nosies
But, oh my, please,
Remember this, Dears,
When you have Shel Silverstein,
With Every Thing On It,
You'll have the treasure of laughter for years.

Although Shel Silverstein did die 1999, good ole (bad ole?) "Uncle Shelby" will always live on in the imaginations of children, young and old, everywhere.

So, goodnight, sleep tight, and don't let the Zipperump-a-zoos bite.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Disney Comics App for iPhone and iPad featuring X-Mickey! (updated 05/25/2011)

You know me, I love to read, and that includes Comic Books. I’ve recently discovered the Disney Comics App in the App store on iTunes (available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch). I have an iPhone and I love it.

Here is what makes the Disney Comics App so cool: A lot of the comics have never been available in English or in the United States (there are settings for “English,” “English (United States),” “French,” and“Spanish” in the App settings, but I don’t know if this will change the language of the comic books or just the App buttons). Some were released by Gladstone and Boom Kids! The thing is, Italians have a comics publication called Topolino (which I believe is their name for Mickey Mouse). It started in 1949 with issue #1 (100 pages). Issue #500 came out in 1965 (180 pages). #1000 came out in 1975 (over 100 pages). #1500 came out in 1984. #2000 came out in 1994 (388 pages). #2500 came out in 2003 (196 pages)… They are almost to #3000. If you get where I’m going, this is a weekly comic book that has been around for over 50 years with over 100 to 200 pages an issue and little to no reprints! 1,000’s of stories that a lot of us have never even seen! Plus, there are a ton of characters that Americans might not be aware of (or at least don’t see very often)! Like: Fethry Duck, Donald Duckling, Pipwolf, Quackmore, Portis (Peg-Leg Pete’s partner), and many more.

There are currently about 17 totally free digital comic books available on the App (ranging from a couple pages to 45+ pages). This will give you plenty of time to get to know the different ways to use the App. There are also 40+ purchase-able comics too (Many of which are available as a part of the various Bundle deals they have going on right now).

You need to get this app to read X-Mickey. X-Mickey is sort of a mix of Mickey Mouse’s mystery comics with a touch of horror (not too scary at all). They feature a Goofy-like character named Pipwolf that is a werewolf, but he isn’t evil or scary. The series was originally released by The Walt Disney Company Italia from 2002 to 2004. It was a short-lived series of only 30 issues that started with #1000 and worked their way DOWNWARD to #971. Then the series continued from that point in the main Italian Disney Comic Topolino (including a pretty long, 87 page, story in Topolino #2762 and #2763, story #TL 2762-2P). In the app, the original X-Mickey comics are numbered normally, and #1 - #11 are on there right now. DISNEY, PLEASE get #12 - #30 on there as soon as possible (plus the bonus material and the Topolino appearances, pretty please)! I think the title is a reference to The X-Files (and certainly not the X-Men).

Now, here is the sad thing. While you get the original full X-Mickey stories that were in those issues of X-Mickey, you don’t get the full original comic book! For Example, X-Mickey #1 (AKA #1000) was 84 pages long. But the X-Mickey digital comic is 45 pages long. The Digital comic is missing “Chiedilo a Pipwolf” a 4 page story featuring Jeremy the invisible mailman and Pipwolf, “Cartoline da Mostropoli” a 12 page story featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse, some ads, a fake ad featuring Pipwolf as a magaician, and the original front and back cover. While I’d LOVE to see it all translated to English, I am okay with getting just the main, uncensored, X-Mickey story that was in each issue.

I have read some negative reviews, but they seem to all stem from people not being patient enough with downloads (and be connected to an Internet source) or not reading the Settings section's "Help" section under "About".... There is also a great amount of info on their website:


1) Free comics! And most of the comics are only $0.99.

2) No ads at all (none in the comics…and the ones in the app are for deals within the app).

3)Translations.  Previously unavailable in English comics like X-Mickey!

4) X-Mickey. These huge comics (about 45 pages) are totally entertaining and feature brand new (to me) characters and monsters.

5) Actual pages are listed. Not panels like some comic apps.

6)ZOOMING. You can choose to pinch-to-zoom, or have the app zoom-in from panel to panel with just a tap! You can even have it automatically go from panel to panel… if you’re a speedy reader (the speed is adjustable).

7) Sounds. These scared me the first time they happened. Every once in a while, if you are reading with the panel-to-panel method, a pre-recorded sound will play…usually a zinger of some sort that matches the action in the comic. This is a totally unnecessary thing, but it is fun and it usually makes me jump. It is easily turned off in the “Sounds and Animations” section of the“Settings.” I haven’t seen any“Animations” yet, but they might be cool!

8)Prices.  $0.99 a comic story is great!  Some of them are $1.99 and some are more than that, but I believe the price points are based on length... something like 30 pages or less is $0.99... 31 or more pages is $1.99.  There are some deals for longer comics being $0.99 (or less with bundles)... Personally, I think that all the comics SHOULD be $0.99.  I'm not purchasing any of the higher priced ones. For Example, the Superduck series, most of them are $1.99, and they are really good, but I can't buy 11+ comics for $1.99 each (they are about 48 pages each, and probably worth it though...maybe).

Cons / Easily fixable things:

1) The banners advertising the different deals and comics don’t always work (currently there is one that says “Villains”with Magica De Spell and the Beagle Boys on it, but tapping it doesn’t bring you to to a list of their comics).  Sometimes these banners do work, and when they do, there is usually a good deal attached to them.   UPDATE for new 10/2011 version:  THEY WORK NOW!

2) Incomplete comics/No ads in the comics… WHAT? Yes, you read that right. From what I understand, the original X-Mickey releases had FAKE parody advertisements in them (featuring the X-Mickey characters with story related silly items), and these aren’t included… but the big stinker is, the bonus stories that were in the original issues aren’t included either.  Also, the Topolino comics were a few hundred pages, and they aren't completely available... just the full stories are available (which is hard to complain about). October 19th update: A new 15 page free comic called "X-Mickey Extra #1: Postcard from Monsterton" (which looks like it should be called "Smile!") was just added... this may be a GOOD sign! Smile was originally printed as "Sorridi!" in 2002 in X-Mickey #998 (#3). 

3) Non-searchable database. You can’t search. Period.  You just have three lists for the regular and three lists for the free comics: “Featured,” “Top 25,” and “New” in each.  Note: You CAN sort of search the comics you've purchased/downloaded via a list of ALL of them, called "titles," a list called "Characters" and a list called "Categories." UPDATE FOR NEW VERSION of the APP released 10/2011: "Characters" and "Categories" have been added to a "Kiosk" section of the main comics and a lot of comics are listed under those that aren't anywhere else.  Currently, the "Characters" list in the Kiosk section is missing a lot of characters, but they are working on it.  There still isn't a "search" though.  I want a key-word search. 

4) Translations need another proofread sometimes. Two of the comics I’ve read on the Disney Comics App have had errors that should have been picked up by a proofreader. One of these was in Wizards of Mickey #1 (which I have the Boom Kids! Graphic novel of the first four issues… but the app had it as a free download too). The interesting thing is, this typo wasn’t in the Graphic Novel at all. The typo is “You’ll find out in soon in the next episode…” A totally easy mistake to make when a writer changes how they are going to word something mid-sentence. Maybe they need to hire a Copy Editor/Proofreader, or a second one.

5) The original covers aren’t always a part of the comic download. This is due to a lot of these originally being part of a bigger comic like the Italian“Topolino” comics that usually have a lot of stories. But for something like the X-Mickey comics, I don’t know why they aren’t included. The original X-Mickey covers are works of art.  This is a little picky, but it would be nice.

Here is a list of some of the comics (besides X-Mickey) that are currently available:

NOTE: the TL ####-#’s are the story codes. I noticed these in the books and there are websites dedicated to them. The TL stands for "Topolino"

Arizona Goof and the Risky Adventure (also titled “Arizona Goofy and the Risky Adventure” within the App). TL-2649-2 (this series was originally titled Indiana Pipps/Goofs, I believe). Original Italian title: Indiana Pipps e la rischiosa avventura

Donald Duck and Fethry Duck in “Operation Seaweed”. TL 2541-1. 30 Pages. Original Italian title: Paperino, Paperoga e la "Missione Alga"

Donald Duck and Gladstone Gander and the Trash Collection. TL 2688-2. 12 pages. Original title: Paperino, Gastone e la raccolta differenziata

Donald Duck and the Secret of the 313, TL 2071 (AKA TL 2071-1). 29 pages. Original Italian title: Paperino e il segreto della 313

Donald Duck and the Beach Training Camp. TL 2752-1. 26 pages. Original Italian title: Paperino e il singolare allenamento balneare

Donald Duck and the World Cup Mission. TL 2638-1. 30 pages. Original Italian title: Paperino e la missione "mondiali" (Note: this also features Fethry Duck.)

Donald Duck in Gone With the Wind #1. TL 1396-A. 44 pages. Original Italian title was: Paperino e il vento del sud (Note: #2 isn’t on the App yet, but #1 is free right now)

Gladstone Gander and the Holiday in the Pocket. 4 pages (free). TL 2211-3. Original Italian title: Gastone e la vacanza in tasca

Goofy and the Elephant Memory. 5 pages (free). TL 2224-4. Original Italian title: Pippo e la memoria da elefante

Gyro Gearloose and the Shielding Gloves. 12 pages (free). TL 2695-3. Original Italian title: Archimede e i guanti paranti

Mickey Mouse and the Secret of the Black Whale. 36 pages. TL 2523-1. Original Italian title: Topolino e il segreto della Balena Nera

Mickey Mouse and the Sword of Ice #1. 31 pages. Part 1 of TL 1411-BP. Original Italian title:Topolino e la spada di ghiaccio

Mickey Mouse and the Sword of Ice #2. 31 pages. Part 2 of TL 1411-BP. Original Italian title: Topolino e la spada di ghiaccio

Mickey Mouse and the Sword of Ice #3. 39 pages. Part 3 of TL 1411-BP. Original Italian title: Topolino e la spada di ghiaccio

Mickey Mouse and the River of Time #1 (also titled “Mickey Mouse in the River of Time” in the APP). 24 Pages. TL 2243-1A. Original Italian title: Topolino e il fiume del tempo. This story was printed in English before in Mickey Mouse Adventures #2 (ISBN 0-911903-69-0)

Mickey Mouse and the River of Time #2 (also titled “Mickey Mouse in the River of Time” in the APP). 26 Pages. TL 2243-1B. Original Italian title: Topolino e il fiume del tempo

Here is a list of some comics that have been available as a part of a promotion, but they are currently no longer available:

San Diego Comic Con 2011 specials:
Cinderella (a 44 page comic adaptation of the film, FREE)
Up (a 48 page comic adaption of the film, FREE).

New York Comic Con 2011 specials (as of Thursday morning at 1:21 New York time):
From what I understand, a QR code on staff t-shirts will lead to a special mobile site with specially-priced New York Comic-Con exclusives.  Here is what the app has on it right now (with the prices for "regular" users:
The Mickey Mouse Once Upon a Time in America Series:
Mickey Mouse and the Treasure of the Mayflower (34 pages, free)
Mickey Mouse and the Boston Smugglers (35 pages, $0.99)
Mickey Mouse and the Big Sky (40 pages, $0.99)
Mickey Mouse and the Second-to-Last of the Mohicans (35 pages, $0.99)
Mickey Mouse and the River's Beauty (32 pages, $0.99)
Interview with George Washington (30 pages, $0.99)

Two Tangled shorts: "Flying Stars" and "Pascal's Painting" (only 4 pages each, and way over-priced at $0.99 each... these should be free). They were originally published in Disney Presents #1.

The Lion King (46 page film adaption, 2.99)

Toy Story (48 page film adaption, $2.99)

Aladdin (46 page film adaptation, $2.99)

Up and Cinderella too (but for $2.99 each).

Some of the bundles are listed in the Special Offers secitions of the App, but they are all regular price.


UPDATE October, 2011

They just released a new version!

There is a "Kiosk" choice at the top.  Tapping it will bring you to two choices "Characters" and "Catagories."  Going into those will bring up a lot of comics that don't show up anywhere else. Like: "Arizona Goof and the Idol of the Chicken-hearts," "Mickey Mouse in War of the Worlds," "A Christmas Carol" (Jose Colomer Font's 1982 34 page version)and a whole slew of "Superduck" comics!

The banners now work!

All of my purchases moved to it without me even having to re-download.  NICE!  There is an option in the settings to do this if you can't find something you've downloaded.

Now... just add a search and they'll be golden.


Update May 2012

Things have been pretty slow in this App recently.  A lot of comics have been released/translated onto this app, but most of their prices have been the higher $1.99 instead of the more economical $0.99 (including "X-Mickey" #12 through #20, grr).  Doubling the price is a horrible idea in my opinion. So, I haven't been purchasing like I used to.  Paying for a non-physical item that I can't donate or sell or give to my kids when I'm done with it is just... hard to deal with.  It feels like renting, and if I'm going to "rent" these comics, I don't want to spend more than $0.99... or have more "Bundle" options... or more sale days.

On Free Comic Book Day (first Saturday in May 2012), the App released 4 comics:
"Cars: Raditor Springs" 
"Donald Duck and the Space Tourist"
"Tangled: Flying Stars"
"Phinneas & Ferb: Happy Birthday, Perry!" 
I purchased these the day they came out, but my phone pooped out on me and I had to download them later.... BUT I COULDN'T.  The books are no longer available now.  So, now they are sitting in my download queue.  Everytime I open the app, they try to download again, but alas, they cannot.  I emailed the company and they told me to delete the App and redownload it.  It turns out this was NOT good advice.... fortunately I asked more questions and got a straight answer from "Eric",
"Unfortunately, the comics that were available on Free Comic Book Day were only available to download on that day."
So, these four comics will continue to attempt to be downloaded, I guess, every time I open my app (or my phone locks and unlocks).  ANNOYING.  You see, they can't be deleted because they haven't been fully downloaded yet.  Disney needs to just make these available to those who have purcahsed them (like me), or they need to update the app so you can delete an un-downloaded book.  So, I assume that if you DID download them, and deleted them, you'd never be able to get them again!  That doesn't seem right.  All of the other purchases remain available if least that is what the App says...