Transmissions 007

Happy news. NASA was able to bring the Hubble Telescope back online. It has been offline since June 13 because one of its nineteen-eighties era onboard computers suffered a glitch. Last week, NASA was able to switch it over to its backup computer. It is now up and running again. Ready for science mode. According to a tweet from the associate administrator for the science directorate at NASA (what a title!).

I can not wait to see the imagery coming out of Hubble now that it’s back online.

OK. Transmissions 007. This one is unequivocally for the writers. 

Here’s the thing. I have always been a voracious reader, always loved words. But I have never had the guts to sit down and make myself into a “writer”. Despite the desire growing over the years. Launching Transmissions is part of that mission. Taking me out of my comfort zone and forcing me to sit down and write regularly. I still have a long way to go before I’d ever considered myself a writer, maybe never. But what we have going on in Transmissions Issue 007 makes me want to become one even more. 

LEGO Typewriter

From the moment this set was announced I knew I had to have it. I love everything about typewriters: The engineering, the sensory experience, the aesthetics. The love has never breached the world of actually collecting them. Let’s call it a “love from afar” circumstance. LEGO may have changed that. 

I feel bad for anyone I ran into while building this set. All I wanted to do was talk about the crazy-maxing ness of this set. How the build was going, how satisfying the functionality was becoming, how smart the engineers at LEGO were - that’s all I wanted to talk about. And there’s a reason…

Don’t get me wrong, I love what LEGO has done with their NASA-based sets, their space sets from my childhood, and their Star Wars lineup. Those all have their place in my heart. You’d think for a guy who started a clothing company based on a lot of those subjects, that those would be my favorite LEGO sets. Up till now, I’d say you were right. 

But after building The Typewriter? My favorite LEGO set to date may very well be this one. It’s hands-down the most satisfying LEGO build of my entire life. It’s a “functioning” typewriter!!! The keys kick back when pressed. The hammer and gearing make that authentic typewriter “click-clack”. And, people, THE CARRIAGE MOVES! As you type, it gracefully slides along, forcing you to push it back when it comes to the end of its track. It left me giddy. My poor wife lived with a LEGO Typewriter-crazed fool for a while there.

Everything about this set is phenomenal. I haven’t built many Technic sets, so I’m not as familiar with the engineering that goes into those builds, but I was floored by the complexity of the interior of this set. I had no idea how it was going to function as I was building it. But the geniuses over at LEGO engineering had me covered because boy does it work.

I never thought I’d come across a toy that would inspire me to write. But here we are, living in a world where it’s possible.

Coralie Bickford-Smith and
Penguin’s Clothbound Classics

A while back, Penguin Random House started releasing a new series of classics done up in a striking array of cover designs. They started showing up at my favorite bookstore in the world, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, and I had to know more. 

As a bookaholic and a graphic designer, I’m drawn to good book cover design. And the Penguin Clothbound Classics series has that in spades. All thanks to the English designer/artist Coralie Bickford-Smith. The unique illustrated patterns for each book she designs are unlike anything else you’ll see on bookstore shelves. She has become one of my favorite book designers working today. 

As I was building my LEGO typewriter I was brainstorming on themes for this issue of Transmissions. As soon as the idea of centering it around writing and stories, I knew I had an opportunity to grow my collection even more. I picked up the two science-fiction classics that are part of the series: H. G. Wells's War of the Worlds, and Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

I love the way these books feel in your hands. The tactile nature of the cloth binding makes it feel like you’re reading a book from a different time (which in some ways, I guess you are). You should, literally, get your hands on these books. I guarantee you that as time moves on, my collection of Penguin’s Clothbound Classics will only grow. Thanks to Bickford-Smith’s continually stunning work (and my crippling need to acquire new books).

Penguin Galaxy’s Neuromancer by William Gibson

When I picked up War of the Worlds and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, I couldn’t help but also pick up another of Penguin’s Galaxy collection designed by Alex Trochut. Their version of Dune that I covered in Transmissions Issue 003 was just perfect. I needed more. What could be better than adding some William Gibson to the shelf? Another stunning work by Trochut. The rich green and the foil typographic design grabs the eyeballs and just won’t let go. 

That’s not even cracking the book that contains Gibson's seminal work that contributed heavily to the cyberpunk movement. It’s one of those books I wish I had read earlier in life, acquiring the nostalgic attachment that many have with Neuromancer. While not my favorite of Gibson’s work (I’ll be talking that up in a future issue of Transmissions), it is a must-read by a master of the genre.

Once and Future

I have been a sucker for any and everything King Arthur since I first laid eyes on Disney’s Sword and the Stone as a small child. We had family friends that loaned us their copy, pretty much every time I got the chance to ask. (And when I wasn’t watching Disney’s Robin Hood).

Since those heady days of VHS full of rewinds and messing with tracking, I’ve gobbled up pretty much anything that had to do with King Arthur. I was that kid in middle school doing book reports on a translation of Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte d'Arthur. 

Destined for popularity, I know.

There’s a good and bad side to this. Good side. Obviously: More King Arthur. The bad side? It’s hard to be surprised by “new takes” on the Arthurian legend.

So when I come across something that does something truly surprising with the story of King Arthur. I’m there. Bonus: Dan Mora, and Tamra Bonvillain’s art is truly sensational!

I’ve read of ton of Kieron Gillen’s work over the years. For me, Once and Future rocketed to the top of his vast collection of work. The more I read of the story (I’m two volumes in), the more I love how it plays with Arthur’s tales. The cool thing is that it doesn’t stop with Arthur. It incorporates other legends and tackles myth and story in a way that is surprisingly meta. I was truly flabbergasted (in a good way) by some of the twists this story takes.

Back to Mora and Bonvillain’s team-up of amazingness - the visual storytelling happening in this book is beyond pro-level. They handle everything from a bad first date to crazy battles in other dimensions with an equal level of care and detail. The illustrations completely suck you into the world they are building with Mr. Gillen. It’s been a while since I’ve been this hyped about a comic book. It checks all the boxes for me.

From a publishing standpoint, I’m less familiar with Boom Studios' offerings, spending most of my comic book time in the houses of the big 4. Marvel, DC, Image, and Dark Horse. This book has me excited for jumping in, headfirst, to more Boom titles.

Side note: This comic book is not for kiddos. Just putting that out there so I’m not the reason someone is handing their kid nightmare fuel. Like that time I saw a grandma take her grandson to see Pan’s Labyrinth thinking it was a fairy tale. Man, did they leave quick. Not sure if it was the subtitles or del Toro’s monsters…

2 Frogs

I was rifling through all kinds of songs to go along with the theme of writing and storytelling. There is a lot of low-hanging fruit there, but I wanted to offer something lesser-known. So I present a song I accidentally discovered in college…that place where you find all kinds of music, good and bad. 

Regardless of what side you think this song sits on, or how you feel about this early 2000s one-hit wonder, I’ve always loved the feeling of being inside a fairy tale whilst listening to this song. 

I’m pretty sure this song pre-dates their super-popular track Superman (It’s not easy), Which probably doesn’t hold up all that well a couple decades later. But, 2 Frogs? I still enjoy listening to whatever story he’s trying to tell with this song.