PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Gift Guide/Sunday Evening Video: Party Pump

Another entry in our 2019 PopCult Gift Guide that we originally told you about earlier this year is the Bunch O Balloons Party Pump.

This is the perfect gift for any family that needs lots of balloons quick for their kids, or for adults who like being surrounded by balloons all the time.

Zuru has revolutionized balloons with their Bunch O’ Balloons concept, that uses one-way valves so that you can fill balloons with air (or water, or helium) several at a time, with no blowing or tying or aggravation. Originally released as a great way to stock a massive arsenal of water balloons, they’re just now releasing the Bunch O’ Balloons Party Pump, which can inflate up to 40 of these special balloons at a time in just forty seconds.

The balloons are connected together in bunches of eight, with long inflation tubes that double as a string. You simply inflate them, and peel apart the stems and you’re in business. The Party Pump can also be used to inflate other items, like air mattresses and pool floaties, so it’s a pretty handy thing to have around.

I got my hands on one of these just in time for my nephew’s birthday, and that’s where the video you see below originated. I have to say I was really impressed by how cool this whole Bunch O’ Balloons system is. The balloons can be re-inflated, and each pack of balloons includes an adapter so that they can be filled with helium.

The balloons are ridiculously sturdy, and can withstand the full force of an eight-year-old diving into them.  The Party Pump itself is not a toy for the younger kids. It’s an electric device and should always be used with adult supervision, but parents of kids who love balloons will consider this a godsend. Event planners might also want to look into this for when they need decorations fast.

The Bunch O Balloons Party Pump comes with 16 balloons and is available now at Walmart –http://www.bobparty.shop/walmart.  It’s a great way to come up with a lot of balloons in a short amount of time without destroying your lungs. For more information about ZURU visit www.zuru.com.

Since writing the original PopCult post, I’ve seen these all over the place, sometimes for as low as fifteen bucks. It’s a great gift that will keep on giving. Watch the video to see how it works…

Next up in The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide is a deluxe boardgame based on a memorable character from Homestar Runner, who was created in an episode of Strong Bad Emails.

Now, it may seem like this is an example of internet nostalgia, an artifact of the days of The Hamster Dance, Frog In A Blender and Happy Tree Friends, but the truth is that this board game was just released after a Kickstarter campaign a couple of years ago, and it’s a real treat for fans of the long-running internet phenomenon.

It’s the perfect gift for fans of role playing games and fans of Homestar Runner. If they’ve got a sense of humor and adventure, this is the game for them.

Trogdor!! The Board Game is a snarky twist on traditional role-playing games that manages to parody the entire genre while still providing an engaging sense of play. One of the strengths of RPG is that the gameplay is usually flexible enough to encourage outright absurdity, even if some of the people who play them refuse to admit that, and may not be that flexible themselves.

This game encourages players to not take things too seriously, and that is a breath of fresh air.

If you’re wondering where this comes from, check out these videos for the full origin and majesty of Trogdor!!!

Check out the description:

This DELUXE version includes collectible-quality painted plastic miniatures (seen right)*.

Trogdor!! The Board Game is a cooperative light strategy/area control game of burnination, majesty, and consummate V’s for 1-6 players from the Brothers Chaps and James Ernest. Choose to play as one of 9 Keepers of Trogdor, each with their own unique abilities, as you take turns controlling a beefy-armed dragon in his quest to burninate the entire countryside. Box includes:

25 thick cardboard terrain tiles
21 wooden meeples
19 painted plastic game pieces
12 Keeper Cards
12 Item Cards
36 Action Cards
52 Movement Cards
1 The Void Card
1 cardboard Trog-Meter
1 Stack ‘Em To The Heavens minigame cloth bag
1 instruction manual
*The plastic miniatures do not change gameplay, they are just fancier versions of the wooden meeples.

You can learn more about the game, the rules, the rules as downloadable songs and how to order less deluxe versions HERE. And you can order the deluxe game HERE.

Chances are you know somebody who would love this game. If you’re not convinced yet, check out the fully-orchestrated version of the Trogdor song…

Next up in The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide we go back to a book we reviewed earlier this year, Ink And Anguish: A Jay Lynch Anthology. This is the perfect gift for any fan of underground comics, fans of comic book history, or just folks who enjoy really funny comics aimed at adults.

Ink And Anguish: A Jay Lynch Anthology
by Jay Lynch, Ed Piskor, Patrick Rosenkranz
Fantagraphics
ISBN-13: 978-1683961468
$39.99 (discounted at Amazon)

Jay Lynch was a pioneer of the underground comix scene of the 1960s. As the founder of the Chicago scene, he acted as a publisher for Robert Crumb, Gilbert Shelton, Skip Williamson, Art Spiegleman and many other founding fathers of underground comix. He also managed to segue into a career at Topps, helping create The Garbage Pail Kids, and develop Wacky Packages.

Lynch’s main claim to fame in the underground scene was the strip, Nard ‘n’ Pat, which he wrote and drew. This was the adventures of a cat-owner who was regularly hectored and bullied by his obnoxious cat. He also wrote the long-running strip, Phoebe and The Pigeon People for The Chicago Reader, which was drawn by Gary Whitney.

Let’s go to the publisher’s blurb:

“Jay Lynch was a counterculture Renaissance man whose career as cartoonist, satirist, and archivist spanned over six decades. This book is the definitive anthology of the artist’s life as he contributed to the earliest underground comix, designed timeless novelties, and eventually settled down as a painter.

Ink & Anguish: A Jay Lynch Anthology includes all his signature Nard n’ Pat stories; selections from comics like Bijou Funnies and Mineshaft; a sampling of his art for Bazooka Joe, Wacky Packages, and Garbage Pail Kids; and collaborations with Art Spiegelman, Robert Crumb, and Ed Piskor.

From his dysfunctional childhood to the day he picked out his head stone, Lynch’s life is also narrated throughout by comics historian Patrick Rosenkranz, adding to this retrospective of an American original and one of comics’ most beloved figures.”

Patrick Rosenkranz crafts a terrific, fast-paced narrative of Lynch’s life, weaving short chapters of biographical material between longer segments of Lynch’s comics and other work. Ed Piskor, Lynch’s collaborater later in his life, contributes more details and finished art for some of Jay’s last works. We not only see Lynch’s artowrk, but we get the context in which it was created.

This book collects a good chunk of Lynch’s work (we only get a few pages of Phoebe and The Pigeon People, which awaits its own collection someday), and in addition to the comix work, you’ll find examples of his merchandise design, trading card and packaging artwork, and in what was a little surreal for me, some of his covers for Non Sport Update, which happen to include articles that I wrote.

Ink And Anguish: A Jay Lynch Anthology is a great introduction to an unjustly-overlooked cartoonist. Aside from being a key contributor to the undergound comicx movement of the 1960s, Lynch went on to teach at The Art Institute of Chicago, and write for Mad Magazine. This is a good step in recognizing the brilliance of someone who’s face belongs on the Mount Rushmore of Underground Comix.

If you have someone on your holiday shopping list who loves comics, but doesn’t limit that love to one genre, this is the perfect gift. Available from booksellers, using the ISBN number, or at a discount from Amazon.

Gift Guide: Shazam TV Series on Blu Ray

I had intended for this entry in The 2019 PopCult gift Guide to be a “flashback” pick, but then, to my shock, I discovered that I had never recommended the DVD version of this release of the classic 1970s Shazam! TV show.

With a newly-upgraded, re-mastered and color-corrected print of every episode, the new Blu Ray edition (or the redone DVD) of Shazam!: The Complete Live Action Series includes all of the “Moral” segments at the ends of the show, scanned from the original film elements. This is a massive improvement from the prior DVD release that used the syndication prints that had those edited out for time. That disc included some of them, but they were acquired from collectors who had primitive off-air tapes. Now the shows are uncut, as they were delivered to CBS in th 1970s.

I haven’t actually seen this yet, since I have the original DVD release and all of these episodes are available on DC Universe in their new HD scans and they look amazing–better than they did when they were originally broadcast over the air, but this is the perfect gift for any fan of the original Captain Marvel, as well as for fans of classic Saturday Morning TV and people who want to see how Captain Marvel is supposed to behave. It’s cheesy, campy and low-budget, but it’s a million times better than that cornball parody that was released to theaters this year. If you want my thoughts on that abomination, go HERE.

If you want to see the adventures of Captain Marvel in live action, you have your choice of this set, or the 1940s serial. Shazam!: The Complete Live Action Series is the most fun way to enjoy a live-action Cap on TV.

Check out the press blurb:

By uttering a single magic word, young Billy Batson transforms himself into the world’s mightiest mortal: Captain Marvel. That word is created from the first letters of the names of the six elders who train Billy with their special gifts – Solomon, wisdom; Hercules, strength; Atlas, stamina; Zeus, power; Achilles, courage; and Mercury, speed – SHAZAM! Now, the entire series has been meticulously remastered in High Definition from original elements, bringing a whole new viewing experience in this 4-disc set featuring every exciting episode of this classic television show!

Another nice touch with this new Warner Archives release is that the package artwork is the same piece by Power of Shazam! artist/writer, Jerry Ordway, that was offered as a limited edition on the original DVD release. Now it’s been promoted to be the main cover design. There is conflicting information about whether or not there are any bonus features on this 4 disc set, but DC Universe has a great mini-doc on the restoration of the show that sure seems like it was intended to be a Blu Ray extra.

A new DVD version is also available, bringing the remastered version to collectors who don’t have a Blu Ray Player yet. This is the perfect gift for fans of the original Captain Marvel who were horrified by the awful movie version from earlier this year, but might also be a good gift for fans of that movie, so they can see how the character is supposed to be done.

You can order Shazam!: The Complete Live Action Series Blu-ray on Blu Ray or DVD from Warner Archives or Amazon. It’s a made-to-order BD or DVD, so give it an extra day or three to arrive.

Gift Guide: Obscure Bits Of Marvel Comics History

Next up in The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide we have two oddball relics of Marvel Comics history that were released as part of this year’s 80th Anniversary celebration.

Marvel has become a major cultural force, but the two books we’re recommending for the comics historian on your holiday shopping list shine the spotlight on their humble beginnings, and on their sense of humor back when they really  were “the house of ideas.”

This is not the slick, cinematic Marvel Universe. These collections go back to a time when the pure, unbridled fun of comic book creativity was on full display without any concerns for marketing or merchandising.

Marvel Comics #1 80th Anniversary Edition
by Carl Burgos, Bill Everett, Paul Gustafson and more.
Marvel
ISBN-13: 978-1302918606
$29.99

The book that kicked off the Marvel Universe back in 1939, presented better than ever in glorious hardcover – together with an extensive array of special features! Marvel Comics 1 promised action, mystery and adventure, and it delivered! The issue’s cover star, the original android Human Torch, blazed his way into readers’ hearts – and Namor the Sub-Mariner made a big splash! As well as the dazzling debuts of these two Golden Age heroes, pulp star Ka-Zar swung into comics, and costumed detective the Angel made his debut! Plus Western adventures with the Masked Raider – and terror in the jungle! And from this one issue, published 80 years ago, grew the entire Marvel Universe! Now, Marvel Comics 1 is collected along with bonus artwork, insightful essays, a gallery of homages to its iconic cover, and much more!

In addition to a reprint of the original comic, we also get a couple of modern retellings of the origin of The Human Torch, and a complete second reprinting of a special edition of Marvel Comics #1 from ten years ago, redone with modern coloring techniques.

It’s a great artifact of comic’s Golden Age, and Bill Everett’s artwork on Sub-Mariner is worth the price by itself. By the way, you can order this from any bookseller, using the ISBN number, or check comic shops or Amazon, where you might be able to shave a few bucks off the retail price.

Not Brand Echh: The Complete Collection
Marvel
ISBN-13: 978-1302918828
$39.99

Back at the height of Marvelmania, just after Steve Ditko left the company, but before Stan Lee ran off Jack Kirby, the company decided to publish a parody comic that harkened back to the early days of MAD, when it was a comic book, but with a focus on superheroes.

The result was hilarious at the time, and now that most of the humor is completely dated, the comics that sprang from this idea remain endlessly fascinating. The idea of Jack Kriby drawing goofball humor comics seems bizarre, as does the idea of his work being inked by Tom Sutton, who is better known for his Lovecraftian horror stories.

Not Brand Echh: The Complete Collection collects Not Brand Echh (1967) #1-13; Not Brand Echh (2017) #14 and material from Amazing Spider-Man Annual (1964) #1 and #5, Daredevil Annual (1967) #1, Fantastic Four Annual #5, Sgt. Fury Annual #4 and Avengers Annual #2.

When Stan Lee set the tone for the Marvel Age of Comics, it came with a healthy dose of humor. And when fans demanded more Marvel mayhem, Stan — along with Jack Kirby, Gene Colan and the Bullpen’s mistress of mirth, Marie Severin — turned the dial to 11 and let loose! Presenting the masterpiece of Silver Age satire, packed with Marvel’s greatest talents taking a sideways look at the heroes they made famous (and even some they didn’t). Charlie America, Scaredevil, the Revengers, Sore: Son of Shmodin, the Sunk-Mariner and the one and only Forbush Man are coming at you.

Truth be told, after the first few issues, Lee and Kirby, along with other legendary Marvel Bullpenners like Don Heck and Bill Everett dropped out of the book, leaving it as a showcase for the brilliant humor art of Marie Severin and Tom Sutton, with Roy Thomas and Gary Friedrich handling the bulk of the writing.

This volume also includes a modern attempt at Brand Ecch humor, as well as three-page piece by Steve Ditko about how Spider-man comics were created. While Lee is credited as the writer of this story, it pretty clearly lays out that he true division of labor, and is both hilarious and enlightening to those who haven’t yet figured out why Ditko left Marvel.

This book is interesting to fans because of the sense of self-parody (along with shots taken at DC, Gold Key and Tower Comics, as well as newspaper comic strips), the topical humor (lots of Beatles jokes) and the sense of fun that the artists were clearly having. Also available at comics shops, booksellers and Amazon.

Both of these books have an appeal that extends beyond the average Marvel Zombie. Marvel Comics #1 shows what kind of comics Marvel published back when they were known as “Timely Comics,” while Not Brand Ecch! is like a time capsule of the late 1960s.

¿Qué pasa, Charleston?

The PopCulteer
November 15, 2019

Your PopCulteer is neck-deep in The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide (more entries coming later today), so instead of a long essay or anything, we’re going to bring you some graphics showing you just a smidgeon of the really cool things happening in Charleston this weekend.

This way, I can not kill myself working too hard.

It’s a trade-off, but not being killed is a state I enjoy existing within, so that would be my pick.

Below you will find just a few suggestions, but if nothing here strikes your fancy (which would mean you have a mighty finicky fancy), do a little research on your own and find something. Or just stay at home and sit on your butt watching endtimes documentaries on Amazon Prime. Just do something.

But don’t forget to check back here for The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide.  Here’s the graphics. I got stuff to do…

All Weekend Long

 

Friday

 

Continue reading…

Gift Guide: Star Wars Memories

Star Wars Memories: My Time In The (Death Star) Trenches
by Craig Miller (Author), Gary Kurtz (Foreword)
Independently published
ISBN-13: 978-1696218702
$24.99

Next up is a gift that will be a pure delight for long-term Star Wars fans. It’s an in-depth, first-person account of what it was like to be inside the Lucasfilm machine before it was really an operational machine.

Craig Miller was the original Director of Fan Relations at Lucasfilm, working on Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. As part of that job, he was a publicist, a writer, an editor, and a producer.

Miller wrote press material and articles, created and ran the Official Star Wars Fan Club, oversaw a staff who opened and responded to the seeming tons of fan mail the films received, worked with licensees, created a telephone publicity stunt that accidentally shut down the state of Illinois’ phone system, was the producer on projects ranging from episodes of Sesame Street to commercials for Underoos (“underwear that’s fun to wear”), operated R2-D2, and spent weeks hanging out on the set of The Empire Strikes Back.

In Star Wars Memories he talks about all of that and more, including Mark Hamill barbecuing him a burger in London, having lunch in a Sunset Strip restaurant with Harrison Ford while he rolled and smoked a joint, and watching Carrie Fisher introduce The Empire Strikes Back’s British production crew to tacos.

In the words of Gary Kurtz, producer of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, “Star Wars Memories gives a look at the original Star Wars films and Lucasfilm from Craig Miller’s unique perspective. This isn’t another ‘making of’ book with the same stories and information that have appeared in other books and countless magazine articles. It’s a book of stories you haven’t heard before; an insider’s look from someone who, himself, is a fan and found the whole experience joyful and exciting. These stories are told in a way that brings you in and makes you feel like you were there.”

Star Wars Memories: My Time In The (Death Star) Trenches is a fun trip down memory lane for folks who loved Star Wars before it was a Disney property and a marketing behemoth. Travel back to the days before “special editions,” prequel and sequel trilogies and streaming services and relive the early days of Star Wars, back when it belonged to the nerds.

You can order this privately-published book from Amazon.

Gift Guide: All Star Comics

All Star Comics: Only Legends Live Forever
by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton, Wallace Wood and others
DC Comics
ISBN-13: 978-1779500717
$49.99

Next up in The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide is the perfect gift for the die-hard fan of DC Comics’ Golden Age characters, and for fans of great Bronze-Age superhero comics. All Star Comics: Only Legends Live Forever collects every issue of the mid-to-late 1970s revival of All Star Comics, the legendary 1940’s title that featured The Justice Society of America.

With almost 450 pages of great, full-color superhero adventures, this book trains its focus on the adventures of the Earth Two superheroes, who back in the days before the Crisis On Infinite Earths, occupied an alternate universe where the original superheroes of the 1940s had aged in real time, and were ready to pass on their hero gigs to a new generation of superheroes.

In this book we’ll not only see the original versions of The Flash, Green Lantern, Superman Batman, Wonder Woman, Doctor Fate and others, but they also team up with younger heroes, Power Girl, Star Spangled Kid, The Huntress and a grown-up Robin.

The book was conceived by Gerry Conway, but early in the run he turned the writing reins over to Paul Levitz, who made his mark on this book and The Legion of Super Heroes. Most of this book features the art team of Joe Staton and Bob Layton, but the first third of the book is either inked or completely drawn by the legend, Wallace Wood.

These are all master storytellers at the top of their game. The legacy of the original DC superheroes are done proud as we get to see them deal with how to be a superhero once you move beyond middle age. We even get to see the death of Bruce Wayne. A nice addition to this collection is the issue of DC Special that told the story of why the original Justice Society did not just swoop in and end World War II. That story established plot points that are still being mined by DC Comics today.

Let’s check out the publisher’s blurb…

The adventures of the Justice Society of America, the world’s first super-team, continues in the 1970s adventures.

THE JUSTICE SOCIETY RETURNS!

In 1940, the Justice Society of America debuted, appearing for the first time in All-Star Comics only to eventually fade into obscurity. Enjoying a much-demanded revival in the 1970s, the super-team of Superman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Doctor Fate, and Wildcat were joined by younger heroes Power Girl, Huntress, Robin, and the Star-Spangled Kid.

For the first time ever, this historic run of the Justice Society of America is collected in one massive volume, featuring the writing talents of Gerry Conway (Batman, Wonder Woman, Animal Man) and Paul Levitz (Legion of Super-Heroes, JSA), and the art of Joe Staton (Superman, JSA)!

Collects All Star Comics #58-74, DC Comics Special #29, and Adventure Comics #461-466.

This great collection of superhero stories is great for fans of the genre. You can order it from any comic shop or bookseller using the ISBN number, or get it cheaper from Amazon. And check out the page below, with the first appearance of Power Girl…

We’re doing book recommendations all day today in The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide, and we’re starting with an in-depth look at one of the great Hollywood love stories.

I’ll See You Again: The Bittersweet Love Story and Wartime Letters of Jeanette MacDonald and Gene Raymond
by Maggie McCormick
BearManorMedia
Three Volumes

This series of three books is the pefect gift for lovers of the golden age of Hollywood and especilally for fans of Jeanette MacDonald. This is a meticulously researched project. Author, Maggie McCormick had access to over thirty years worth of correspondence between Jeanette McDonald and her husband, Gene Raymond and their freinds and family, along with several drafts of MacDonald’s unpublished autobiography and other rare documents.

As the publisher’s blurb says:

During the Golden Age of Hollywood, actress/singer Jeanette MacDonald and actor Gene Raymond were touted as one of the happiest couples in show business. In recent years, many sources claimed their marriage was a sham. This three-volume series examines the truth about the Raymonds’ relationship, often in their own words, from unpublished letters and various drafts of Jeanette’s unpublished autobiography.

This comprehensive look at MacDonald and Raymond is split into three volumes, each of which runs well over 400 pages.

Volume 1: The War—and Before
ISBN-13: 978-1629334363
$39.95 paperback
$49.95 hardback

Volume 1: The War—and Before traces the lives of Jeanette MacDonald and Gene Raymond, from their modest beginnings through their meeting, marriage, and their activities during World War II.  It shows how they each worked hard to gain worldwide fame, found love, and created an idyllic home together, despite interference from Gene’s mother.  Always patriotic, both Raymonds gave their all during World War II, both overseas and on the home front, but to the detriment of their marriage and careers.  The picture on the cover was from the Raymonds’ last photo shoot before Gene was sent overseas in 1942.  It was taken on the outdoor steps at their home, Twin Gables.  The book includes photos from Jeanette and Gene’s collection and utilizes personal letters, private documents, and various drafts of Jeanette’s unpublished autobiography.

Volume 2: The Letters
ISBN-13: 978-1629334486
$39.95 paperback
$49.95 hardback

Volume 2: The Letters is made up of transcriptions of surviving correspondence written by Jeanette MacDonald and Gene Raymond during World War II, giving an insight into their everyday lives.  Their wartime letters are touching, full of tenderness, concern, humor, and, occasionally, passion.  They shared their mundane everyday experiences and asked each other for advice.  One can tell that they respected each other, as well as loved each other.  Like all couples, they didn’t get along 100% of the time.  They were human and it is that human side that is so endearing.  The cover shows Jeanette at home, with a photo of Gene in uniform on her desk, along with the American and British flags.  While he was in the Army Air Force, she proudly displayed his picture and discussed his service in interviews.  As Gene’s letters prove, he was equally proud of Jeanette’s service on the home front.  The book includes a few photos from the Raymonds’ personal collection.

Volume 3: After the War
ISBN-13: 978-1629334509
$39.95 paperback
$49.95 hardback

Volume 3: After the War examines Jeanette MacDonald and Gene Raymond’s lives following World War II, when changes in the entertainment industry affected their careers.  Many planned projects never materialized, some of which are described in detail, showing the disappointment that the Raymonds encountered.  The strain and frustration they faced in their careers, as well as the continued interference from Gene’s mother, put stress on their marriage.  They often were apart, due to their work and Gene’s service in the Air Force Reserve.  Additionally, Jeanette had numerous health problems, which led to her untimely death.  Although Gene remarried nine years after he was widowed, he never stopped loving Jeanette.  He kept her legacy alive by playing an active role in her fan club, taking flowers to her crypt, and promoting her career in TV and print interviews.  The third volume addresses some of the erroneous information published in other books, web sites, and blogs, and includes the bibliography for the series.  As with the other volumes, it includes some photos from the Raymonds’ collection and utilizes personal letters, private papers, and various drafts of Jeanette’s unpublished autobiography.  The cover depicts the Raymonds walking in their gardens, a wistful image reminiscent of the end of Jeanette’s favorite film, Maytime.  It shows how happy they were to finally be together after the war, unaware that, in less than twenty years, they would be separated by death.

I’ll See You Again: The Bittersweet Love Story and Wartime Letters of Jeanette MacDonald and Gene Raymond is a deep dive into one of the more fascinating and long-lasting Hollywood marriages, and is the perfect gift for the fan of classic movies, endearing love stories or in-depth audobiographies. Available from any bookseller, using the ISBN number, or you can order it online directly from the publisher, or Amazon.

Gift Guide: The Book On Famous West Virginians

O, Mountaineers! Noted (or Notorious) West Virginians
by Danny Kuhn
Favoritetrainers.com
ISBN-13: 978-0989169691
$16.95

Next up in The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide we have a just-released book from Danny Kuhn that is the perfect gift for any proud West Virginian, and might also be nice for anyone who needs to be reminded how cool our oft-maligned state can be.

O, Mountaineers! Noted (or Notorious) West Virginians is a fun read, a book filled with short, conversational essays about famous (and infamous) West Virginians. This includes notable figures from history up to celebrities from today, all of whom were born, lived, or died in The Mountain State. Kuhn’s writing style is lively and engaging, and the book presents a wealth of material on a bit of a niche subject in an extremely entertaining manner.

Let’s check the publisher’s blurb:

West Virginians, whether by birth, residence, or death, have reached the pinnacle of success in almost every field, including entertainment, business, science, the military, politics, and sports. They include a shoe salesman who “brought down” the father of the atomic bomb, two of Hollywood’s biggest stars who came to play ball, a legendary stripper, one of Washington’s spies, and a couple of the most famous criminals of the twentieth century. You will find historical figures such as “Stonewall” Jackson and John W. Davis, but also contemporary notables Jennifer Garner and Brad Paisley. There is even an apple…and a horse. Many are household names; others, though influential, you will meet here for the first time. Some stories are inspirational, some disturbing, but all fascinating. Join the party, Mountaineers!

This is just a terrific read and a real treat for anyone with any interest in West Virginia. Better yet, it look like this may just be the first volume of many. Kuhn writes in his introduction that many notable West Virginians didn’t make the cut for this volume due to his need to keep the page count at a reasonable length. We may have more O, Mountaineer! books coming our way in the next few years.

O, Mountaineers! Noted (or Notorious) West Virginians should be available to order from any bookseller, using the ISBN number above, or you can take the path of least resistance and get it from Amazon.