Friday News: Samhain closing (again), unpublished black history, presidential book club, and Legion’s backstory
Samhain to close February 28th – Although the website does not, as of this point, reflect the news, apparently emails have been going out to alert readers to the imminent closing of Samhain. Given the past history of back-and-forth on this issue, I’m not calling it over yet. There are sparse details at the above-linked Absolute Write thread, and one of the emails has been posted on Twitter and reads as follows:
Greetings, Samhain Readers.
It’s with a heavy heart that we announce Samhain Publishing will be closing at the end of February. Due to the declining sales we’ve been experiencing with this changing market we’ve come to the sad conclusion it’s time to call it a day.
The last of our new titles launch February 21st; I hope you will check them out and support them as you have so many other Samhain titles through the years.
Our site will go dark at the end of the day, February 28th. Please take a few moments and visit, buy what you might have been planning on getting someday in the future, but download and back up your bookshelf because you won’t have access to it after February 28th.
Thank you for all your support through the eleven years we’ve been open. It’s been a pleasure to bring to market new voices in publishing and new works from familiar authors. From start to finish, we’ve always kept what the reader wants in mind and hope you enjoyed what we had to offer. – Samhain/Absolute Write
Unpublished Black History – This collection of photographs and brief background notes (the Times is releasing a new one each day this month) exposes one of the most bitter ironies of Black History Month – specifically that so much of black history has been ignored, suppressed, misrepresented, and marginalized, and even as we have more and more access to primary sources, the more time goes by, the more likely that we are losing access to sources that detail histories deemed too unimportant or dangerous to bring to the fore. The Times has obviously been part of that inequitable selection process, and they sort of admit it here, although there is some self-excusing in a statement about the limited number of photographers they had working for them. Anyway, some really powerful photos here and a good reminder that what is often taught as “history” is limited and whitewashed.
Hundreds of stunning images from black history, drawn from old negatives, have long been buried in the musty envelopes and crowded bins of the New York Times archives.
None of them was published by The Times until now.
Were the photos — or the people in them — not deemed newsworthy enough? Did the images not arrive in time for publication? Were they pushed aside by words here at an institution long known as the Gray Lady? . . .
In our archive of roughly five million prints, after weeks of searching, we could not find a single staff photograph of W.E.B. Du Bois; of Romare Bearden, one of the country’s pre-eminent artists; or of Richard Wright, the influential author of “Native Son” and “Black Boy.” (The Times did publish a handful of photographs of these men taken by freelancers, friends or private studios.)
Our archive is vast — and the filing was sometimes idiosyncratic — so some of these images may still be unearthed. But as we unveil this trove of rediscovered photographs, keep in mind how much we are missing. – New York Times
A president who rarely reads has launched a book club for all of America – Although this is pretty much a mess of a piece in terms of direction and point (I think the real aim is to clobber Trump for the state of his cultural and political literacy), the content related to how USians are turning to books to make sense of the current administration is interesting. I admit to feeling frustrated at the lack of historical and political knowledge USians often show, so I am heartened to see this trend and curious to see what books gain popularity over the coming months.
Trump’s connection with voters is forged not through literature but on Twitter — that’s the window into his thinking — so it’s intriguing that people are using books to grasp, interpret or game out the Trump phenomenon. During the campaign, rural white voters emerged as a publishing and journalistic obsession. Beyond “Hillbilly Elegy,” works such as Nancy Isenberg’s “White Trash” and Arlie Russell Hochschild’s “Strangers in Their Own Land” grappled with the history and attitudes of the white American underclass, while Carol Anderson’s “White Rage”argued that every era of black progress produced a backlash from entrenched white interests. All became bestsellers during Trump’s ascent.
Now with the Trump administration underway, Orwell’s “1984” is but one of several dystopian classics to regain currency. Sinclair Lewis’s “It Can’t Happen Here,” the tale of a bumbling, repressive and democratically elected American fascist, has reached Amazon’s top 20. Same for Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” helped by the forthcoming Hulu adaptation of the book. Orwell’s “Animal Farm” is a Washington Post bestseller. – Washington Post
Your Guide to the Long, Strange Comic-Book Backstory of FX’s Legion – As someone who is coming to FX’s Legion with no history of its comic-book evolution, I thought this might be helpful for other potential viewers:
SOME COMIC-BOOK CHARACTERS have an immediate impact on the larger pop-culture landscape: Captain America was the perfect hero for World War II in America, as was Spider-Man for the free-swinging 1960s. Not so for Legion. The Marvel character may be the namesake and central character of the new FX show launching tonight, but it took nearly three decades for the world to finally be ready for the most powerful—and most interesting—member of the extended X-Men family.
Legion, AKA David Charles Haller, first debuted in 1985 in the pages of New Mutants #25. Unusually, his first appearance came not in the story itself, but in the form of a one-page pin-up by artist Bill Sienkiewicz; an actual in-story appearance wouldn’t happen until the following issue. Nonetheless, the expository notes on that pin-up—ostensibly written by Professor Xavier’s friend and confidant, Moira McTaggart—told readers all they needed to know about the character: Haller is the son Professor X never knew he had. – WIRED