PLEASE NOTE: “As an Amazon Associate, [Need Coffee] earns from qualifying purchases." You know we make money from Amazon links,
and I know you know this, but they make us say it anyway. More info, click here.

Headsup: Forbidden Hollywood and Forbidden Dimensions

An ongoing attempt to make sense of the onslaught of new swag that people want you to buy. Should you? I’ll try and help.

All-Star Companion, Vol. 3
Alter Ego: The Best of the Legendary Comics Fanzine cover art
Draw! #15 cover art

TwoMorrows is back on the scene with three new selections. First up, there’s the third volume of the All-Star Companion. And I can’t keep up with how DC is screwing over their unimultiwhateververse these days, but back when things made sense, you had stuff like the Justice Society and the All-Star line of comics. If haven’t been keeping up with these series of companions, then you’re missing out: continuing to serve as the archivers of the Non-Sucking Age of Comics, they lay everything out for you. You’ve got an interview with editor Julius Schwartz, the All-Star Western comic (which I had completely forgotten about), a history of Earth-2, a guide to JLA/JSA teamups up through 1985, plus looks at various and sundry attempts (prior to the current JSA book) to relaunch a book about the Society. It’s wall to wall content and, because it’s from TwoMorrows, it’s packed to the freaking gills with cover art, panel art, sketches, the whole nine yards. If you look back fondly on that era of comics, then you need this and the first two volumes on your shelf. Definite buy. (Click here to buy it.)

Long before Alter Ego reached its present incarnation under the TwoMorrows banner, it was launched in 1961 by Jerry Bails and Roy Thomas. Its initial run lasted eleven issues. This collection appeared before from Hamster Press but didn’t have a large print run. But now it’s back and reissued just as it first hit. You’ve got an introduction by Julius Schwartz, plus art by everybody from Jack Kirby to John Buscema to Curt Swan, plus interviews with Gil Kane, Joe Kubert and Bill Everett. There’s also notes and commentary on each issue. Just as interesting as the history of comics, mentioned above as TwoMorrows’ jurisdiction, they also cover the history of comics fandom. And if that’s on radar, then you should grab this. (Click here to buy it.)

We’ve long said that Draw! was a must-have for anybody who wants to…well, draw. Professionally if not just doodling seriously for your own amusement, we mean. But this issue is a no-brainer: how do you tell which art school you should attend? Mike Manley, head burrito for the mag, takes you through all the choices for comic art and lets you know the scoop. They talk to teachers, students, and alumni of the schools (Center for Cartoon Studies, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, School of Visual Arts, Savannah College of Art an Design, and The Joe Kubert School) to give you a complete picture so you can make a more informed decision. That’s why it’s the “Back to School Issue.” You also get more Comic Art Bootcamp with the latest drawing tips, an interview with artist Bill Reinhold, and more. You’d be nuts to want to go to school to learn comic art and not pick this up. (Click here to buy it.)

Flatland: A Journey of Many Dimensions DVD Cover Art
Sliders: The Fourth Season DVD cover art
TCM Archives Forbidden Hollywood Collection Volume Two Cover Art

First up, if you haven’t read Flatland, then you should. Not only does it manage to teach and teach well how dimensions work (at least from the standpoint of how we could interact with something that only existed in two dimensions and how we perceive dimensions, not how they work in the Stephen Hawking is here to explain everything standpoint) but it manages to have a great message as well: watch your ass, you could be wrong. A. Square (that’s his name) starts to think about other dimensions, especially when visited by a sphere who’s just passing through. Trouble is, our hero sounds like a loonbag when trying to preach to other two-dimensional entities about three dimensions. The film clocks in at thirty-five minutes and tries to do the standard thing of fleshing out the characters: Martin Sheen voices the Square (who’s given a complete first name, Arthur) and he has a granddaughter named Hex (voiced by Kristen Bell), for example. But the translation into an animated film is commendable, especially when you’ve got Michael York providing the voice of the Sphere in full prophet mode. The DVD, like the book, makes for an excellent primer on the topic of dimensions. The cast give interviews, there’s a featurette on the fourth spatial dimension, and the novel is available on the DVD-ROM portion of the disc. (Click here to buy it.)

So we got from spatial dimensions to alternate dimensions with the fourth season of Sliders. This was the first of the two Sci-Fi Channel seasons. A lot of craziness happens, as Jerry O’Connell‘s brother Charlie joins the cast to play Jerry’s character’s brother as well. They’re also fighting the Kromaggs, which is not only a great name for a band from 60s, but also a ruthless race of hominids from an alternate Earth who’ve decided to conquer all the other versions of Earth. And there’s a revelation about the whole brother business as to where Jerry’s character came from to begin with. Because monkeying with past details is usually an attempt at viewership gold. You get twenty-two episodes here across five discs, but there’s no bonus bits. But all things considered it’s a good thing Universal released it to begin with. Should you buy it? Well, from what I can tell, nobody’s airing the show right now. And the price tag ($30 at the moment on Amazon) isn’t too bad–less than a $1 an episode. You’d probably pay that to download them (legally) from someplace. So I’d say, yeah: if you’re a fan of the Sci-Fi years of the show, you’ll want to get this. (Click here to buy it.)

Before the Code came and screwed with everybody’s ability to have things in movies like sex, crime and whatnot–Hollywood did have that sort of fun in its films. We’re not talking Skinemax level shenanigans here, but it was pretty provocative stuff for its day. This second volume of the Forbidden Hollywood Collection is out of the TCM Archives and offered up by Warner Brothers. Five films are here across three discs: The Divorcee, Female, A Free Soul, Night Nurse and 3 on a Match. The stars in this boxed set are Leslie Howard, Lionel Barrymore, Clark Gable, Bette Davis, and Barbara Stanwyck. And from what I can tell, these have never been released on DVD before. So just having them out would be good enough, but Warner Brothers does the right thing and includes bonus bits: there’s a brand new docu on Pre-Code Hollywood, plus commentaries on Nurse and Divorcee. Film buffs will want this–completists of the stars I listed above will want it as well. Amazon’s got it listed for $37 as I write this, which is over seven bucks a film, so that’s not too big a pill to swallow. (Click here to buy it.)