Monday, December 7, 2015

Psychobabble’s 10 Best Retro-Pop Culture Books of 2015

As another year approaches its end, I’m taking a look back on Psychobabble’s top-reviewed items of 2015. 
This week we’ll begin with my picks for the year’s best books, which includes a great collection of long-forgotten horror comics and less difficult to forget series of trading cards, an overview of a key year in pop history and of a more extended period of horror history, and a fresh look at a horror classic too often viewed with stale eyes. Happy reading!

(Each item links to the original review)
10. The Blair Witch Project (Devil’s Advocates) by Peter Turner In short: “I could have read another 200 pages on how The Blair Witch Project was made... but Turner still manages to make excellent use of his 83, allotting enough space for the film’s unique origins, creation, meaning, marketing, and legacy to satisfy.”
9. Star Wars: The Original Topps Trading Card Series Volume One by Gary Gerani
In short: “Gerani was one of the guys who convinced Topps to take a gamble on George Lucas’s bizarre new space fantasy... and his commentary makes a book that could have just been 500 pages of nostalgia-stirring images into a book truly worth reading.”
8. Becoming The Beach Boys, 1961 - 1963 by James B. Murphy
In short: Becoming the Beach Boys is not always a fun read, but it is an important historical document through and through.
In short:  “Its sometimes comfortably traditional, sometimes wildly outlandish tales may make Pre-Code Comics So Good, They’re Scary! the best Haunted Horror collection yet.”

In short:  Richard Balls’s new book Be Stiff: The Stiff Records Story is half great because it serves as a series of biographies outlining the early careers of such significant artists and half great because it’s so fun to read about all the outrageousness of and surrounding Stiff.”

In short: “Jon Morris... has compiled a wittily written and lavishly illustrated encyclopedia of... D-list crime fighters...”

In short:  “Thomson rightfully sensed this would be a good time to revisit and revise his landmark biography, and the updated edition subjects Bush’s post-2010 work to the same scrutiny, praise, and criticism that her first four decades received in the first edition...”

In short:  “Looking at Monster Mash is like having a giant nostalgia bug lay lovely eggs in your eye sockets.”

2. 1965: The Most Revolutionary Year in Music by Andrew Grant Jackson
In short:  By covering the year in all its complicated, colorful, violent, genre-hopping, debauched madness, Jackson does a pretty damn good job of making his case that 1965 was, indeed, music’s most revolutionary year.”

1. Tod Browning’s Dracula by Gary D. Rhodes
In short:  his is a superior piece of cinematic detective work and a great example of what one can accomplish when one simply does his or her homework.”

Honorary Late Entry:  TV Peaks: Twin Peaks and Modern Television Drama by
Andreas Halskov
In short: Thoughtfully packaged, historically important, insightful, entertaining, and meticulously researched without reaching glib conclusions, TV Peaks is a study worthy of a TV show that, yep, helped lay the groundwork for the current state of TV.
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