Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New Comic!


Future world dictator Doctor Despot dreams of the perfect weapon to strike terror into the hearts of his enemies: A giant spider! Unfortunately for mad scientists Reginald Ertz and Zephyr DeCastle, it's up to them to deliver the monster arachnid or face immediate termination. And Doctor Despot hasn't decided whether termination means firing them or killing them. With the Legion of Good Girls about to stage a raid on the hidden fortress, the race is on to breed the ultimate arachnid predator. And when what the Minions get is a cute and cuddly eight-legged ball of fuzz that says "meep!", they have a feeling that the boss is not going to be amused.

Zephyr & Reginald: Minions for Hire #3, featuring the origin of Darlene the giant spider is a 32-page full-format comic book written by Rick Silva and Gynn Stella, and illustrated by Gynn Stella. B/W interior with a full color cover. It's only $4.00 plus $1.50 shipping! Available now from Dandelion Studios!

Or send Check or Money order made out to RICK SILVA to:

Rick Silva
PO Box 1214
Osterville MA 02655

Book Review: The One Minute Manager By Kenneth H. Blanchard And Spencer Johnson

The One Minute Manager
By Kenneth H. Blanchard And Spencer Johnson

First published in the early 1980s, this thin book is a classic of the business world. The book is a business parable of sorts, a fictional tale of a young man who wants to learn everything he can about how to be an effective manager.

In the course of his travels, he hears of a manager of a company in a nearby town who has the reputation of being both effective and admired. The young man arranges a meeting with this manager and is surprised to hear him describe himself as a "one minute manager". Rather than explain himself immediately, the manager encourages the young man to talk with other employees and learn about the techniques that he uses.

Essentially, this book covers three areas on interpersonal and organizational skills: Goal setting, praising, and reprimanding. It is not so much a book about the mechanical tasks of managing, but rather a set of lessons in interpersonal relationships and the psychology of job performance.

Starting with the premise that employees who feel valued will be more productive, the book describes simple techniques to encourage productive behavior and to correct deficiencies.

Although the central theme of the book constitutes program of management style, there is plenty here that a prospective manager could come away with, even if they did not choose to embrace the entire One Minute Manager program.

Even if you never plan to become a "one minute manager", this is a good book on interpersonal relations in the workplace and beyond.

The One Minute Manager was book #15 in my goal of reading 50 books in 2010.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Book Review: Herland By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Early 20th Century feminist activist and author Charlotte Perkins Gilman is best known for her nonfiction treatise Women and Economics, which analyzed the detrimental effects of the economic reliance of women on men in American society.

In Herland, Gilman takes a different approach: A political satire in the form of a untopian adventure story.

Her three protagonists are all male, typical wealthy explorers and adventurers that you might expect to find in the pages of something by H. Rider Haggard. And in fact, Gilman exhibits a strong command of the "Lost World" and uptopian adventure genres, writing an enjoyable fantasy tale with tight pacing, good action, and enough conflict to keep things interesting even before one examines the political aspects of her writing.

The three adventurers hear a rumor of a sheltered valley that is home to an all-female society and they set out to explore it. The narrator's motive is mainly curiosity. He is genuinely interested in the workings of this society, and he approaches the experience as a scholar. His two companions represent more extreme views. One is the typical male chauvinist, a macho "man's man" who expects to be greeted as a conquering hero as the only man in a land of women. The third member of the group has an idealistic view of women, placing them on a pedestal, but not accepting them as capable or competent.The society they find is described in excellent detail, considering the relatively short length of the novel. It is present as a superior society in the sense that one would expect for a novel to be considered utopian. The women of Herland have no poverty, no war, and almost no crime or disease. Their primary focus is on the rearing and education of their daughters, and the whole society works in concert to improve its base of knowledge and then to impart that knowledge on to the next generation.

Much of this is clearly meant to satirize modern society of the time the work was written (and it provides criticisms that remain just as valid today). But many of Gilman's ideas about education are quite well thought-out.

Gilman's women of Herland are descendants of a mutant (although that specific term is not used), capable of reproducing by parthenogenesis and having only female offspring. The author gives enough scientific and historical background to at least make the society's origins plausible in the context of a fantasy adventure novel. The three protagonists spend much of the first few chapters debating the argument that there must be men hidden somewhere before they finally come to terms with the true nature of their hosts.

From there, they embark on a path of romance and eventually marriage, all of which is condoned by the society of Herland, who are interested in the possibility of a return to a gendered society. In Gilman's sharpest bit of satire, she has the women assuming that they must be missing out on some great benefits by having only one gender in their society, even as her male characters must reluctantly admit that there is little that the outside world has to offer to Herland.

The ending follows a fairly predictable path, at least in terms of the resolution of the major plot points. There were a few interesting surprises in the course of wrapping things up.

The overall tone is witty, but never truly bitter. Even the male chauvinist character is given a sympathetic treatment, and Gilman does a good job of conveying her ideal of what a society can be if people were to treat each other well and to work toward a higher standard of education and compassion.

Rather than an outright condemnation of our society, Gilman gently reminds the reader that society could do better. And she serves it up in a story that is entertaining and amusing.

was book #14 in my goal of reading 50 books in 2010.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Zephyr & Regincald: Minions for Hire Issue #3 Preview

Here's another preview panel featuring art by Gynn Stella. Darlene will say "meep" again if Doctor Despot does not appease her!


Zephyr & Reginald: Minions for Hire #3 is a 30-page b/w standard-format comic book, written by Rick Silva and Gynn Stella, and illustrated by Gynn Stella. It's coming soon from Dandelion Studios.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Comic Book Preview: Minions For Hire #3

From the upcoming third issue of Zephyr & Reginald: Minions for Hire, written by Rick Silva and Gynn Stella and drawn by Gynn Stella.

Even supervillains sometimes need to call the helpdesk. But when you're in the midst of some evil scheme, the last thing you want to hear is "restart Internet Explorer." Doctor Despot is not amused.