Sketch's Suggested Reading List
The C Programming Language : ANSI C Version
by Brian W. Kernighan, Dennis M. Ritchie
Published by Prentice Hall
The process is simple: You make a little money, but not a lot, or you make no money,
and want to make a lot. Well, you like computers, you like playing TIM, you might even
like building things on TIM, and coding them to do neat stuff. Well, here's your foot
in the door. Pick up the Kernighan-Ritchie, read it a little but mostly go grab other
people's code and use this book as reference when you don't understand what's being
done, learn the basics of C code, practice and practice, make interesting stuff,
start having a knowing eye when reading the source of stuff you download, and voila!
Soon you're coding your OWN stuff, you move to the platform of choice (Windows,
Solaris, Linix), and you shop yourself around and eventually you buy a really really
nice house with a beautiful study and a kick-butt computer and this book is on the
shelf. Does it get simpler than that?
This book does NOT teach you C. What it does do is provide a handy, well-written
reference guide created by the guys who created C. And that's a great thing to have.
I'm still learning C, and every once in a while, I read through the book again
trying to understand all the concepts presented. Now THAT's fun!
by Scott McCloud
Published by Kitchen Sink Press
Mr. McCloud takes on the unbelievably daunting task of having to explain the genesis,
history, science, and art of comics, bring it into a contemporary context, and provide
the reader with the tools to look towards the future of this medium. Surprisingly,
he does not emerge from this narrative a bleeding, gibbering wreck, but instead
brings you through the whole book without a spot of boredom or pettiness. He's witty,
he's really thought out the entire process of comics, and he brings a bushel of great
ideas right to your table. You'll come away from this book feeling like you can critique
and digest with the best of them, and you'll never look at comic books the same way
again. Oh, and it's a comic book.
Araki Tokyo Lucky Hole : Tokyo Lucky Hole
by Nobuyoshi Araki
Published by Taschen America Llc
The Toyko Lucky Hole is a painted piece of wood or plastic with a female form on it,
with a strategically placed hole containing god-knows-what on the other side. Skanky?
Disturbing? Alluring? Well, whatever response you have, you're going to have it for
690+ pages of stark black-and-white photographs from the Tokyo sex industry of
1980-1983. The photographer, Nobuyoshi Araki (or just "Araki", as he's known in Japan)
chooses all sorts of strange tangental aspects of porn and sex-based businesses,
and presents them with absolutely no running commentary. There's a nice pretentious
dozen or so pages of text at the end of this book, but it was written by someone
else and goes WAY too much into the semiotics of Araki being in his own photographs
and the "role" that his camera plays in the taking of the pictures. Skip this drivel;
the questions they raise are the same of ANY documentary. What matters here is the
feeling you get browsing page after page of restaurants, bordellos, showers, strip
joints, geisha bars, slave/bondage dungeons, and, of course, the TOKYO LUCKY HOLE!
I can't even say it's even all that arousing; what it is for me, however, is
compelling; you just wander from place to place, seeing all the cultural aspects
of Japan twisted into specific kinks and twists of the human condition. Not even
all of the pictures are necessarily dirty, either; one sad photograph comes at
the end of a series covering a party with prostitutes, and just shows the sun
risen grey over an endless landscape of tokyo buildings. For me, compelling.
The Tree House Book
by David Stiles
Published by Avon Books
The kind of book that still inspires my imagination a decade and a half after I
first found it. I can't guarantee they still package it this way, but the
copy I have is spiral bound, on brown construction paper, with just drawing
after drawing of neat tree-house ideas. Stiles presents his handwritten,
handdrawn subject with humor and grace, and halfway through this book,
you want to BUILD ONE. I did, and man did it suck, this complete
mess nailed into several poor trees out in the woods. But I tried! And I
had fun trying! And that's what this book is about. Fun, dreams, and trying
to make the world even more fun than it is.
Great for kids, or the kid in you with the nails and hammer and 15 2x4's.
Sorayama Call in Beauties
by Hajime Sorayama
Since this is in fact a world of misery where people always long for what
they haven't got while ignoring the wonderful things the DO have, let me
state that I truly envy Hajime Sorayama. This guy has been around since the
mid-seventies, drawing incredibly realistic chrome and skin images, bringing
together a shining industrial look with a pin-up sexiness. While there are
no doubt other people in the world with the ability to render as well as
this guy does, I haven't seen anyone with his degree of playfulness or
wit when rendering dozens of scantily clad women and robots.
All of these books are horrendously expensive, but they're a joy to look
at. Some of them are filled with self-important art critics text bordering
around his images. Screw them! Look at the images. They truly speak for
If you're trying to decide which of these books to go with, don't worry.
Essentially, we're talking about the same book, except for
The Gynoids, which is the really bizzare book where Sorayama goes back to
some previous images he's done for pay, and resprays them with fetish and
from-the-darkness-of-his-mind kind of add-ons. Women gain hatches, robots
drip honey, that kind of thing. It should be a great (and expensive!) coda to
your Sorayama collection, which I guarantee you will not regret owning for
ONE SECOND. Well, unless mom stops by and finds it.
- Sandman : Preludes and Nocturnes
Sandman : The Doll's House
Sandman : Fables and Reflections
Sandman : Brief Lives
Sandman : Worlds' End
Sandman : A Game of You
Sandman : Season of Mists
Sandman : Dream Country
Sandman : The Kindly Ones
Sandman : The Wake
By Neil Gaiman, et al
You know a book series is good when, while reading, you have to put it
down at stare at a wall. Neil Gaiman had done some piecemeal work for DC,
writing for a couple books, and then he chose a completely obscure
character in the DC line, the Sandman, and began to weave this completely
bizzare tale of the Lord of Dreams, a being that outlives gods, and
who lords over a separate plane where people travel to in dreams. And
then it gets even more expansive. By the end of this series
(10 thick books, hundreds of pages, and hundreds of dollars later), you're
barely able to catch your breath as Gaiman just keeps stretching things
further and further.
This is one of those series where you want to reach into your magic
bovine book-reviewing hat (well, I do, anyway) and just come out with
the most spectacular words to describe it. Believe me. It's as close
to perfect as that genre gets.
Batman : The Dark Knight Returns
by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, Lynn Varley
Published by Warner Books
Here's the book that caused the rebirth in comics. NO DON'T ARGUE. It's a
Batman story, yes, but Batman is middle aged and he's been retired for a
decade. Of course, the world has gotten more sucky as time has gone on, and
now we're on the brink of war and gangs rule the streets and Bruce Wayne
is going bazoo because he wants to fix the world. So, well, guess what.
The book is incredibly engaging, and the writing is superb, and you really
come away from the thing with this rich feeling of having been told a
STORY, a real kick-ass tale. If you've never liked comic books, you might
really like this one, because it's one of the first mainstream comics that
could be called a "graphic novel". (By the way, there've been TONS of
graphic novels in our past, but read "first" as "sold well".) A great way
to spend a couple evenings.
by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons
Published by Warner Books
Often called "The Last Comic Book", this monster of a graphic novel takes
the whole idea of masked avengers, costumed criminals, and superheros, and
turns it soundly on it's head. Not only that,, but it forces the head
into the ground and jumps up and down on it going "Whoo hoooooo! Whooo
hooooo!" which is, of course, both terrifying and fascinating at the
In summary, the book starts in a different time line, where masked crusaders
have been around since the 40's (that is, comic books reflect what really
happened), and takes up in the mid-80's, where heroes were declared
illegal 10 years ago, and in one week they start suddenly dying. This
raises the hackles of Rorschach, a psychotic crime-fighter who reigns as
one of my all-time favorite literary characters. He starts to dig up
on stories, old problems, old conflicts, and we learn all about what's
been going on for the last 50 years. The ending is beyond belief.
As an artist, there's some aspects of this book I'm especially cheered by.
The one which I think others might dig is the "splatter" motif that shows up
a couple dozen times, where the small splatter of blood on the happy face
in the beginning of the book shows up again and again, the same shape
seem in windows and jelly sandwiches and snow and you name it. It's the
attention to little details like this that make the book a joy to read
several times over. Definitely the first great and bold step to your
downward spiral of comic fandom.
How to Read Donald Duck : Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic
by Ariel and Mattelart, Armand Dorfman
Published by Intl General
I'm no fan of communism, and I'm leaving the master, R'nice, to the task of suggesting
the works of Ayn Rand, but if you want a hands-down fascinating perspective on what
you generally would consider the tamest of comic books, this is the book to get.
Through example after example, the writers show the odd ideas and lessons that Donald
Duck comics (as were distributed to the masses in Chile' in the early '70's, anyway)
impart on the populace. Through their eyes, Disney comics are a tool of the Imperialist
United States, stressing our innate Goodness over the freedom and glory that a
communist regime would bring. The authors do this via pages and pages of fascinating
insight and extremely thoughtful regard for the "meaning" behind the graphics.
I certainly don't jibe with their ideas of what sort of governmental system
should be in place, but they did get me to reconsider what the semiotics
of Disney were pushing. (Like, why are there no parents in Donald Duck? Where do
they make money? Why is Duckville 100 percent service-oriented?) Weird read, good stuff.
Saturday Night : A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live
by Doug Hill, Jeff Weingrad
When you hear about a tell-all book of a 20-year-old television show, you
want to immediately pre-stamp it as banal and fannish, a result of the
special access afforded by a publication to interview major players in
the production. Not so with this incredible book; it starts some
years before Saturday Night begins, tracing the individual paths that
were being followed in individual careers, zooms through the genesis and
initial conflicts of the
show, and follows it up until the original producer, Lorne Michaels,
wrests back control of his baby in the late 80's. It does so with
stunning clarity, and intense writing. You feel like you're there,
every step of the way. If you've ever been a part of a stage production
or magazine, you'll feel for all the different personalities and
forces prevalent in the production of the show and you'll be fascinated
at what little hints of ideas gave seed to later cultural phenomenons.
All the gossipy stuff is there: the fist fight between Bill Murray
and Chevy Chase before Chase's guest hosting, Dan Ackroyd completely
decimating a wall because his bong was missing, who slept with whom,
etc. But beyond that, you find yourself understanding the people who
worked so hard to keep the spirit of the show together even as it
was falling apart, and marvel at the recurring themes of control and
second-guessing by network executives (but they tell you which
executives were sticking thier noses in and which were helping,
creating a second layer to the soap opera) while also learning who created
the coneheads and what fame did to the individual members of the troupe.
It's big, it's epic, and you come away from it feeling like you
KNOW this show, from the outside and now from the inside. Dazzling.
If at All Possible, Involve a Cow : The Book of College Pranks
by Neil Steinberg
Published by St. Martin's Press
Neil Steinberg went out researching the story and history of college
pranks, found out there was no tome offering the "Time-Life Book of
College Pranks", and decided to write his own. He pulls it off really well;
starting from the early days of colleges and padlocking entrances to
lecture halls and stealing firewood, he takes us through a couple hundred
years of short sheets, missing furniture, stolen statues, kidnapped
mascots, and recounts examples of stories that aren't true and ones
which, incredibly, are. As a big fan of college pranks, I found this
book to be one amusing laugh fit after another.
There's two really long chapters in this book; one goes into excruciating
detail of all the pranks pulled at a midwestern college by two guys, one
of whom went on to start Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and the other who
went on, well, to die. The other chapter is a really, really long story
about the Cal Tech Senior Day and the unbelievable amount of effort that
goes into the tasks and mastery present at that school. I wouldn't be
surprised if a 16-year-old reading that chapter suddenly feels they
have to get accepted at Cal Tech.
The spirit of the book is captured perfectly in a photograph at the
beginning, just before the text kicks in. A hundred students are posed
on the steps of a building, smiling, grinning, putting on that nice
fake happy face so that you're captured forever in your best possible
appearance. Above them, from the top of the building, a dozen people
have just emptied massive containers of water upon them, and the
torrent of liquid is coming down, just about to hit.