Saturday, 28 November 2009


Imagine a blend of Will Eisner, Carl Barks (of Donald Duck fame), Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Alan Moore and you aren't even beginning to approach the genius that was Osamu Tezuka who is one of the great graphic storytellers of the 20th Century. Tezuka created an enormous range of graphic stories (okay, call them comics if you want), enormous in terms of number, tone, and scope, from the most fun to the most adult seriousness, yet almost all with an amazing blend of playfulness and profundity that managed to evoke Tezuka's enormous humanitarian compassion and, perhaps, best exemplified in the 8-volume Buddha sequence which contains themes that can also be found in his Astro Boy (Mighty Atom) stories.

Congratulations to Helen McCarthy and her editors for this lavish informative and beautiful book on the life and work of this wonderful gifted man. It follows his life and work from its beginning to its end, packing in a profusion of illustrations which never quite drown out the text which is sufficient without being either too little or too much. Together they provide a magnificent and deserved tribute to this man and his work.

I particularly liked (everything really) the decade by decade survey of his major works for that period with one page per title. It's particularly useful as there is so much by Tezuka that has still to be published in the West.

Quibbles? Well, a couple but do not let them put you off buying this book. Tezuka re-used a number of characters from book to book and it's right that this should be included but there is just a bit too much by including too many supporting characters that I lost interest in this chapter long before the end. Also it would have been nice to have English translations of the text in original samples for which there are no English language editions. Like I said, quibbles.

This is a terrific book about the genius that was Osamu Tezuka and may well be my favourite book of the year.

This installed easily enough but, following the advice of another reviewer, I entered the full 64-character code to do so and I urge you to do the same. I tried the 'short cut' for an earlier version of this product and ended up in a right mess.

While you can do quite a bit with this piece of software, I wanted to primarily to create a boot disc, transfer files, and to make a copy of my hard disk. This worked quite well apart backing up the hard disk but this was my fault. I hadn't made sure I had enough space on my external hard disk and ended up having to repeat the procedure (which takes a few hours) but was successful.

There are utilities on the disk which I may well make use of at some future date -a file shredder, drive cleanser, clone disk, system cleanup and other stuff I don't understand.

But so far I'm quite happpy in that it's done what I wanted it to do and did so relatively easily and simply. More experienced users will probably get more out of it.

Absolute Death: Neil Gaiman (DC, 2009)

I did wonder just how they would do an Absolute edition 360 pages long, when there have only been two 3-part miniseries which take up half of that at most, featuring the character and written only by Neil Gaiman.

In part, DC cheated by reprinting two stories, which have already been reprinted the Absolute Sandman volumes, featuring Death. But it's only a little cheat as the first story is the introduction of the character to the Sandman mythos and can be considered essential to an Absolute collection. The second story, hmmm -no, that is a cheat.

Then we get to the meat of the book, the two miniseries which are terrific, but then you already knew that as few people are likely to buy this who aren't familiar with the character unless they've got more money than, umm, money.

Next up we have a couple of stories, one from a little seen original Vertigo sampler, and one from a comic I'd never even heard of and, therefore, hadn't read the story before -whoohoo! Last of the stories is from Endless Nights -a definite cheat, though at least that volume hasn't been reprinted in the Absolute Sandman and remains a standalone.

The final 100+ pages are taken up with a miscellany of galleries, scripts with orginal pencil artwork, and sundry bits and pieces of ephemera.

So really, it's pretty much all you ever wanted to know about Death (the Gaiman character) with lots of pretty pictures by some brilliant artists. Despite being a somewhat hotchpotch collection, it's also weird and wonderful and thoroughly brilliant and an essential companion to those Absolute Sandman editions that you and I have occupying pride of place on our bookshelves.

Toshiba PA4153E-1HE0 500GB 2.5" External Black Steel Hard drive

I've got the 500Gb version -actually in practice 465Gb which is fine- and, well, I'm impressed.

First off, it is simplicity itself. You plug it into a USB slot, wait a minute or so (more or less) for your computer to recognise it, then it's ready to go. You can either drag and drop or use backup software for more complicated backups, then do something else while it's copying the files and that is it. Do make sure you use the safely remove hardware button. It's powered from your pc so less clutter of cables. Really, it's just about idiot-proof unless you forget to use the safely remove etc.

It looks good if you like simplicity which I do. So portable you can slip it in your pocket and forget it's there; it's a small featureless (but for the tiny light and small slot) black box with 'Toshiba' printed on the front, about the weight of a Classic Ipod but flatter, wider, and more solid and it comes with a simple black leather case to protect it.

Any quibbles? Only the teensiest. There are two USB leads but one is a backup in case your pc doesn't provide enough power and it's easy to get the two mixed up. It's also easily solved as only one of them will load it up. The lead itself is quite short so less clutter. The lead is short which is bad depending on where your USB slot is. Mine just about stretches from the top of my pc to the slot.

There is a 175 page manual about the size of the thing itself but you only need to read 5 pages (including pictures)as the rest are in other languages and it comes with a PDF file so once it's installed you can chuck the manual away.

Great. Highly recommended. If you need a 500(465)Gb external hard drive, buy this now.

Post Script

The computer stuff came free for review courtesy of Amazon Vine. The books, I bought.

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