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Long Black Veil Review

Long Black Veil - Jennifer Finney Boylan

I suppose with the world heading in the direction that it's headed, books like this will become the norm: overly PC books that try their damnedest not to piss anyone off. The problem I see with novels like Long Black Veil is author intrusion. When you move forward with a piece of art (music, film, literature, etc.) with the sole purpose of being progressive and inclusive, you better be damned sure your own hangups do not float to the surface. Because, in a book that struggles to always use the proper pronoun and goes out of its way to discuss gender and religion and race with the utmost respect, any deviation from your course will be painfully obvious.

Yes, the political-correctness within this book was strong but not a bad thing, but it is my opinion, founded solely on evidence written in this book, that Jennifer Finney Boylan has a problem with the morbidly obese, or as she calls them in this book "fat fucks". Normally those two words wouldn't bother me, because I am, and have always been, a fat fuck. But when every race, religion, gender, and so on gets treated fairly and equally and suffers no slurs, I find it odd that "fat fuck" would be left in. Which goes a long way in proving that, even in progressive-minded literature, it is still okay to pick on fat people. Poor goddamn Casey, man. He couldn't catch a break. He was either a fat fuck or a walrus or the morbidly-obese friend, or my favorite, "worthless." While everyone was accepting of the two trans characters, poor fut-fuck Casey bumbled around, bouncing off shit and just being all around too fat to be respected. For fuck's sake, I think the only time Boylan described her character's appearances were if they were fat. If they were otherwise normal, meaning not a fat fuck, we got no description of their appearance whatsoever.

Anyway, enough whiny bullshit about how offended I was or was not. I really wasn't offended at all, but I mention it as much as I do to prove a point; everyone has their own prejudices, even Boylan, who makes a point of using as many acronyms as she can in her bio. I honestly couldn't give a fuck what she thinks about chubby bastards like myself. I'm simply pointing out how it's still completely acceptable to shame the fat character, be the author liberal, conservative, or any other asshole. The one thing we seemingly all agree on is, fat fucks are fair game. Moving on...

The writing in this book is fantastic. I can pick on the author for showing her prejudices all I want, but she truly can write her ass off. I enjoyed every bit of this read, aside from maybe the suspense-killing reveal toward the middle. If the characters hadn't been so terrifically drawn, I probably would have quit reading as soon as the killer was revealed. Literary-minded types will scream, "The murder wasn't the point! The book is about identity and WHINE WHINE BITCH BITCH!" I get that, Internet Rage Machine. I might sound like an illiterate fat fuck, but I do pay attention to theme. What I'm saying is, the writing and character-development was what kept me reading, not the pasted-on murder plot. Calm your moobs, dude.

There will be some people who have a fit over the soft-thriller aspects because, for all appearances, it looks like a literary thriller. There is nothing thrilling or suspenseful about this book. It's a character drama. That being said, the final 50 pages were too much melodrama for even me and I found myself simply wanting the book to end. I feel Boylan's points were made just fine without the silly-ass who-lived-and-who-didn't bullshit and the I-died-twice nonsense. You can stuff all that shit right back up where it came from.

One final note, smarty pants. Frankenstein was the doctor, not the creature. So when you write that there were several Frankensteins walking around the party, I hope you meant people wearing lab coats and god complexes.

In summation: If you're into PC-culture and fight on the SJW side of things, this is probably the book you've been waiting for. It is built on an offend-no-one chassis, but its tires are too fat to move too quickly, so expect some lulls. Expect mucho melodrama at the ass-end that no one asked for, and you should be just fine.

Final Judgment: If Nicole Arbour and Lacy Green wrote a book, this would be the eventual outcome.

Many thanks to Crown Publishing for the review copy, which I received for free in return for a review written by a fat fuck, aka me.

We Are Always Watching Review

We Are Always Watching - Hunter Shea

As much as I want to give this book five stars based on enjoyability alone, I'm not going to because it does have its problems. The middle of the book could use another proofread or two for typos and missing words. This seems to be a running issue with Sinister Grin Press and modern horror novels in general. I really wish authors and publishers would do better with their editing. Sinister Grin's covers and formatting are great, and they pick great stories, but the quality of the editing is half-assed at best. This one was much cleaner than the first two SG books I read, but there were still more errors than I was comfortable with. And I have a feeling that it was cleaner because Shea's been around a while and knows what he's doing.

One thing's for sure, the story is terrific. I had a lot of fun getting to know West and Matt and Debi and Grandpa Abraham. And, yes, even Faith. By the time the shit hit the fan, I knew each of them well enough that I cared what happened to them.

The last 60% of this book is adrenaline-fueled madness. I only put it down to eat and use the restroom, but I didn't want to put it down even then. Were it not for the necessities of being human, I'd have easily finished the last 40% in a single setting.

It's been a long time since I read a horror novel that cared this much about its cast. I'd forgotten how much fun it is being invested in the people I'm reading about. I can't think of the last horror novel I read whose character's names I can remember. Several times I found myself thinking, "Man, what's gonna happen to West... or Debi... or Matt." I loved that these characters were flawed but still likeable. Especially Matt. Even Grandpa Abraham's curmudgeonly ass. Sure he was racist and crude and an all around dickhead to everyone, but I wanted to read about him. I wanted to know what was going to happen.

Not sure if Hunter Shea reads his reviews, but I have to apologize to him. I'd put off reading the guy for the longest time because I was told he was just another word mill, someone who cared more for quantity over quality. If this book is anything to go by, the person who told me that was wrong. I hate that I've missed out on reading Shea's work. I plan on fixing that ASAP.

In summation: This book brought back a slice of my childhood; memories of reading under the covers with a flashlight, of chewing my nails in anxious anticipation of what was going to happen next, of rooting for the good guys to overcome the bad guys against all odds. This book is simply a lot of fun, which makes the lack of proofreading hurt that much more. But that seems to be the state of modern horror fiction, and horror fans don't seem to care, either. I guess I'll just have to learn how to ignore it. I'll definitely be looking up more Hunter Shea in the near future.

Final Judgment: The most fun I've had with a horror novel in ages.

Mexico DNF review

Mexico: Stories - Josh Barkan

There's very little I liked about the first three stories I read. My main problem is I do not connect with the way Barkan writes. Sad to say, because the ideas behind the stories themselves were interesting. The delivery just isn't my thing. I have no want in my heart to pick this up again, so I'm not going to. 

 

I'm giving this two stars instead of one because it's not garbage. It's simply not my thing.

Penance Review

Penance - Kanae Minato
I burned through the last 75% of this in one extended sitting. I only stopped to eat, use the bathroom, and update my status on Goodreads when something remarkable happened, which was quite often, I must say.

Penance was the perfect book for me at this moment in my life. I've grown impatient with the same old, same old, and this book was anything but that. Oddest of all is, I should have hated this book. It does three things that usually annoy the fuck out of me:

#1. It has something I call the "Vantage Point Plot", wherein one dramatic scene is told from a bunch of different viewpoints. That normally gets old real quick, but here it was fresh because every chapter showed you the aftereffects of each individual, and each aftereffect was drastically different. Some were creepy as balls, others were tense, some were sad, but every single one of them was interesting. Thank fuck for that miracle.

#2. This is basically a mosaic novel. I've not had great success with mosaic novels. If you don't know what one is, I'll give you a brief explanation. A mosaic novel is a series of vignettes or short stories that are connected by one central event or theme. Here it works because we're so close to each character. The detailed explanations of each character's life at the beginning of their chapters might bore some of you. They bored me a bit. But by the end of each chapter I saw just how needed all that information was. Be patient with this one. Each section pays off.

#3. First-person POVs from multiple characters. This is a style I can't fucking stand. It rarely works well, especially when each character is speaking to someone off screen, as it were, like in novels based on an interview structure, but here it fits perfectly. In fact, any book I read from here on out that has chapters from different first-person POVs will be stacked and judged against this novel. It was so well done. I was never confused as to who's head I was in because each and every person got their own quarantined section. Beautiful.

Finally, this was just an easy read. Something I didn't have to think too hard about, but not so simple that I thought the author was speaking down to me. The translation is terrific. I don't feel that anything was lost in translation. I can't say that for certain, seeing as I don't speak Japanese and have not read the original text, but usually you can sit back and say, "Something about that doesn't sound right."

In summation: I am happy as hell that I snagged this one off NetGalley in return for the review you just read. I'll likely buy this in hardcover or paperback or whichever format it comes out in upon release in the States. It's rare that I buy books I've received ARCs of, but this will more than likely be one of them... as long as it's decently priced. You never know with this translated novels, seeing as how they have to essentially pay two authors. If you like your mysteries built with abnormal frames, give this one a look-see.

Final Judgment: Some of everything and not a thing bad.
 
 

 

The White Road Review

The White Road - Sarah Lotz

This wasn't terrible, but certain parts were fucking annoying.

For one, the entire cast is garbage. All throwaways. Nobody you haven't read about a million times. In fact, these people are so generic the main character, Simon (or Si), thinks of them as Depressed Harry Potter and Hannibal Lecter, or other famous people. The cast? Nothing to see here.

The plot is all over the place. You start out the book with a prologue that lasts 20% of the whole book. I thought the novel was gonna be about Si in that cave and then I'm thrust into a different scenario and made to get to know new people. Okay. Whatever. Moving on.

Sarah Lotz doesn't do scary well. She seems to have a very old school sense of horror: seeing things from the corner of your eye, eerie presences, hair raising on the back of your neck... That would be all well and good if she could pull it off. She doesn't. Here it comes off as cheesy and she ends up looking like a try-hard.

Can we please stop with the goddamn blogger characters in horror fiction? The only thing horrifying about them is how unsuitable they are for horror novels. Paul Trembley proved as much in his godawful A Head Full of Ghosts. They kill the terror with their text-speech.

4 real #nojoke tl;dr but this book is totes meh

My final complaint is the godawful formatting. I hope they fix that shit before publication because reading strikethrough text is fucking distracting and annoying and FUCK YOU, FORMATTER!

I did like the way Lotz wrote and the mixed up structure. That's probably the only reason this isn't a one-star review. It wasn't like everything else, and I commend her for trying something different. That being said, you need to leave epistolary style where it belongs, in the 19th century.

In summation: I was hoping for a chiller and I got a decent mountain adventure. No big loss, as the book was provided free of charge in return for this here review.

Final Judgment: Not terrible.

ARCs of THE SOUND OF BROKEN RIBS, by Edward Lorn

If you're interested in reading and reviewing my new novel before its release on Halloween, drop me a message, comment, or email me at edwardlorn@gmail.com with your contact info and site address and I will add you to the list I'm sending to the publisher. You have until Friday to request one. The only requirement is that you have a blog (Booklikes pages count, too). A Goodreads account doesn't count, sorry.

 

About the book:

 

Lei Duncan has it all: the ideal life, the perfect career, a loving husband. What more could someone ask for? It is with this in mind that Lei takes her morning run.

Belinda Walsh has just lost it all: her home, her husband, her mind. She thought she knew the man she'd married, but one phone call has destroyed all certainty. Now everything she’s known to be true is a lie. It is with this in mind that she goes looking for something—or someone—to destroy.

When the lives of two strangers intersect, something will be born of the connection. For one of these two souls, the truth of the world will shift and morph into something powerful and dangerous. A darkness of the mind, a rip in sanity.

And something will peek through that darkness, beckoned by the sound of broken ribs.

Natchez Burning Review

Natchez Burning - Greg Iles

How quickly I read this (862 pages in 9 days; that's almost a hundred pages a day, which is a lot for me nowadays, given how busy my life has become) is a testament to how fucking amazing Greg Iles is. Anyone who can make almost 900 pages consistently and constantly thrilling gots to be a damn wizard, yo. (#IlesTheGray) There are authors working with half this page count who can't hold my attention for more than 200 pages.

 

 

*coughsjamespattersoncoughsdanbrowncoughsjohngrishamchokestodeath*

 

But, boy oh boy, if I'd read this when it first came out and had to wait for the next book, I would've lost my shit. (#firstworldproblems) This is the first Penn Cage novel that does not stand alone. It doesn't tell one complete story from beginning to end, which honestly shocked me. I expected Iles to wrap up one thread completely, but he didn't. All he did was put a tourniquet on a severed appendage.

 

Spoiler alert: you're in for a disgusting cliffhanger at the end of Natchez Burning. I suppose that's all right, considering I have the final two books in my possession, but I feel for those people who had to wait multiple years to get the entire story. I

 

've debated deducting a star due to some reused plot ideas and themes Iles lifted from the first three books in this series but have decided not to. Even though the book deals with a cold case (like The Quiet Game), finding out someone we suspected to be of strong moral character is really an adulterous asshat (ala Turning Angel), and an unstoppably powerful villain with legion and uncountable wealth at their disposal (circa The Devil's Punchbowl), I was thoroughly entertained. Sure the book is a hybrid of the first three books in the series, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a fucking blast to read. I wouldn't change a thing about it, so it gets all the stars.

 

Actually, I take that back. I missed Kelly. I hope I see my boy Kells in the next two books. He really is my favorite character in this series. Such a stone-cold badass. #mancrush

 

In summation: Sorry this review is short but I have two more 800+ page novels to read in this series so I'm under a time crunch and fuck you this'll have to be enough goodbye.

 

Final Judgment: Cliffhangers-R-Us

Fairy Lights is Now Available!

Fairy Lights - Edward Lorn

NEW RELEASE!

 

On Palomar Mountain, there hides a creature capable of unspeakable malice. A monster hungry for flesh. A being capable of manipulating those it allows to live.

Tony and his mother, Brenda, have plans to vacation on Palomar Mountain and intend to bring Tony’s buddy Bobby with them. The party of three ascend the mountain for three days of camping without the aid of technology. But when the boys get lost in the woods, things escalate from bad to deadly in the blink of an eye. Because they’re not alone, and the creature in the cave is not the only thing they have to worry about.

 

$3.99 on Amazon

The Barrowfields Review

The Barrowfields: A Novel - Phillip Lewis

I spent most of this novel wondering when the story would begin. I was promised a coming-of-age tale. I did not receive that. Unless the publisher and author consider any story that jumps back and forth from childhood to adulthood a coming-of-age story. I do not. To be a coming-of-age story, I feel the reader must be able to see some change in a character, a shift from childhood to adulthood. Hence the term "coming-of-age". I did not get that. I got insta-love bookended by family tragedy. But, as I said at the beginning, I never felt as if the story ever started. I was sat down in the middle of an uneventful life and told to observe.

I understand that this is literary fiction, and that literary fiction is more about theme and character than plot and action. I get that. But I was not, for the most part, entertained. There are several gorgeous passages. Many of them, actually. The book is riddled with quote-worthy material. The writing is great, but not so good that it can hold up a plotless narrative.

Nothing is more frustrating that a) a synopsis littered with spoilers and/or b) one that misleads the reader. This book suffers from the latter. Because of that, I think who spoiled this this read for me the most is the person who wrote the jacket copy. The book does not cash the check the synopsis writes, and I'm stuck with a recurring NSF fee. Time and time again, I expected something that wasn't there. Had the publishers and/or author mentioned that half of this book was a sappy romance hindered by insta-love so strong that both characters cannot live without each other after a single meeting, I damn sure would've passed on it.

In summation: Beautiful prose does not always make an engaging or entertaining read. But mileage may vary. If you don't mind insta-love and love to surf the gorgeous, flowing prose, give this a try. For this reader, the poorly-written jacket copy promised something the book never delivered. I wouldn't mind trying something else from this author, though. Many thanks to Crown Publishing for providing a review copy in return for the review you just read.

Final Judgment: A beautiful car with no wheels.

"Why are some readers too stupid to understand certain books?"

“The first duty of the novelist is to entertain.” ~Donna Tartt

 

Sorry for the clickbait-y headline, but we need to talk. I will digress before I get to the point, but, please, stay with me. Thanks.

 

I’m sure somewhere out there, there’s a review of mine wherein I call someone a big ol’ dummy-head for digging a book that has sub-standard literary merit: like a James Patterson fan, or, Tom Cruise forbid, a member of Stephanie Meyer’s rabid fanbase. I don’t think there is, but I’ve been reviewing for a long time and I’m bound to have said something stupid in one of my posts. The point I’m trying to make is this.

 

I strive to constantly educate myself. I take pride in learning something new every day. I have been an asshat in the past. In certain sectors, I am still an uneducated asshat. But I always take pride in admitting when I’m wrong. So if you find an old review from the year 2000 B.E.E.S.( Before E.’s Education Spike) that says “You’re dumb if you like this book”, please know that the dumbass who wrote that post no longer lives here. Again, I don’t think a review like that exists, but it might. Apologies if you find one.

 

I said all that to say this. I’ve come to the theory that there are no stupid fiction readers. Settle down, Cynical Internet Rage Machine, I’m about to explain.

 

Point #1:

 

Fiction, by definition, isn’t real. Everything going on within a work of fiction can be subjective. You shouldn’t expect facts in a work of fiction. You can expect a certain level of accuracy in historical fiction and hard science fiction, but even there, you have to understand that you are reading fiction. Meaning, you should not take anything in a work of fiction as fact. Even fictional novels about real people should be taken with a grain of salt. So if a reader enjoys a book of sub-standard literary merit, they are not automatically stupid. Likewise, if they do not understand/enjoy a book that has been awarded the coveted “Smarty-Pants Book of the Month”, they’re not automatically stupid. Could they be an idiot? Most definitely. But you should not judge them on their reading preferences. And here’s why.

 

Point #2:

 

The quote at the beginning of this article is from Donna Tartt; someone who can be a bit polarizing due to writing like a modern-day Dickens. Flowing prose, a billion pieces of punctuation laying about like mines in a Serbian playground, verbose descriptions of mundane things, and so on. I’ve only read one of her novels – The Little Friend – and I was not entertained. Even so, she’s correct. The first job of any novelist is to entertain their reader. I will always believe that.

 

You can choose to write literary fiction the likes of which Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace writes/wrote (respectively), but you risk alienating some of your readers: those readers who are only there to be entertained. Likewise, you can choose to write simple Cat-in-the-Hat style prose with the intent of being accessible to everyone but the illiterate: James Patterson, Dan Brown, Stephanie Meyer, the list goes on.

 

Fiction is an escape from reality. If an author allows someone, just one person, that escape, they have done their job. If a book is so very smart that only one person (outside of the author) understands its message, the author has done their job. Meaning, the information is there, it’s simply not accessible to every reader. If a book is so very easy that everyone can read it but is shitpanned by every literary-minded reader who stumbles across it (I hate to say this but it’s true…), the author has still done their job.

 

Because reading is subjective. And if the fiction you consume allows you an escape from this toilet-bowl of a world, I can’t hate on you. If I have in the past, this is my apology to you. I’m sorry.

 

Read whatever the fuck you want. And…

 

“If you find something you love, pimp the shit outta it.” ~Paul Elard Cooley

 

Take care of each other,

 

E.

Please Read - Signal Boost for Fellow Reviewer Frank Errington

Hello peeps. If you spend any time in the horror community, you might have run across a reviewer by the name of Frank Errington. He’s simply an all-around good dude in an all-around crappy situation. He needs a kidney. Currently he’s looking for a live donor. I asked him if I could boost the signal with my blog and he said sure, so below you will find an image of Frank and a phone number. You can call Frank direct and he’ll give you info on how to find out if you’d be a suitable donor. I tried, but the transplant people told me my prediabetes automatically disqualified me. Maybe you can help.

 

Take care of each other,

 

E.

 

Book Tour Update

Book Tour Update:
 
Looks like we'll be leaving the day after Labor Day and stopping in the following cities:
 
Birmingham, AL
Tulsa, OK
Amarillo, TX
Houston, TX (maybe, more details next month)
Albuquerque, NM
Phoenix, AZ
Palm Springs, CA
New Orleans, LA
 
Actual locations, dates, and times of Meet-and-Greets coming next month. If you'd like to meet me, now is the time. The next one might not be until next year and, if it happens, it'll be East Coast only.
 
Looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible.
 
E.
 
 

A Rage Review of THE ROANOKE GIRLS (Language Warning!)

The Roanoke Girls: A Novel - Amy Engel

I'm so goddamn tired of the same-old, predictable shit. For that reason, among the many more you are about to read below, this review is going to be rage-y as fuck. If you manage to not get offended by the contents, I hope you enjoy this review more than I enjoyed the book.

First and foremost, BOOBS! There were so many mentions of funbags in this book, I had to recheck the cover to make sure this wasn't written by a dude. Every few pages, in the first 30 pages, the author mentions "big boobs" or "plumb breasts" or some variation on knockers/melons/feeders/tigolbitties. I counted eight times in those first 30 pages. Everyone was described by the size of their bosom. We get it. Roanoke girls are stacked! Whoopty-fucking-do. The author goes on to space out her tit-mentioning, but only because the cast doesn't grow. No need to describe the same chesticles over and over again unless they change, right? Right. Moving on...

I don't know if anyone was paying attention when I first started reading this, but I mentioned how creepy it was. That was the first 13 pages. Can we say, "False start?" Not sure what I caught in those first 13 pages, but all that atmosphere dissipated like a good fart, one that doesn't linger and upset the kinfolk, within the very next chapter. Oh, I felt uneasy later on. Don't get me wrong. But that feeling of discomfort was for all the wrong reasons.

Next, and this is a first (paradox?), I had to delete two of my status updates because my jokes, my motherfucking goddamn sonuvabitching jokes, ended up being fucking spoilers. Lemme spell this shit out to you. I was fucking around, goofing off, as I am wont to do, and my goofiness ended up being a plot point. That's never fucking good. Well, maybe if this was a parody, but no, it's serious fiction. Which brings me to...

This novel (for lack of a better word) has the most unintentionally-funny fight scene at the end of it. The big denouement had me in tears not because it was sad but because it was mountainous - or, as the kids are saying, HILL AREAS!

These are the jokes, people. Fuck you, don't judge me.

Sexual dysfunction brought on by childhood trauma seems to be popular right now. Are that many of us being molested and growing into sex-starved fuck-puppets? Is this the new us? Are there any parents/grandparents/uncles/aunts/neighbors/clergymen/pets/inanimate objects in existence who are not out here diddling their children? You'd think this world was nothing but pederasts and pedopiles and hebephiles, what with how it's the plot or subplot of every goddamn literary thriller. I'm not making light of this topic. I have my own past and that's none of your business. But you'd think that, with all the safe-space-seeking readers out there, you'd see less of this stuff, not more.

My point is this: I'm fucking tired of reading about it because it's fucking predictable. Not because it's disgusting or triggering or any other topical reason, but because I fucking expect it. It's gotten to the point that I open up a literary thriller and think "I wonder who's gonna be molested in this one?"

The moment the killer hit the screen, so to speak, I knew who she was, and as soon as the molester hit the screen, I knew who he was. (I called both of them in my second and third updates, which I have since deleted by request because spoilers) As soon as the red herring hit the screen, I knew who it wasn't. There's a long-lost-then-returned love interest. One of the characters is a downhome cop who used to be friends with the main character. (I'm telling you, folks, there's nothing new in this book.) One of the characters is even a motherfucking V.C. Andrews cast member. Oh, you remember ol' V.C. Andrews. Motherfucking Flowers in the Attic motherfucking V.C. motherfucking Andrews. Amy Engel attempted to emulate one of the worst word mills in modern literature. In fact, now that I make that comparison, that's all this book is is a reboot of Andrews' early career. Tom Cruise help us all if this shit gets popular again. In the name of Brad Pitt, amen.

In summation: Holy shit this was bad. If you're looking for a book wherein you can predict the outcome in the first 50 pages, read this motherfucker. If you were offended by this review, damn sure skip this motherfucker. Most importantly, if you were spoiled during this review, good. Now you don't have to read it.

Final Judgment: Contender for Worst Book of the Year 2017... and it's only March. Fuck my life.

Many thanks to the publisher (because I didn't have to waste my hard earned dough on this book) for supplying the review copy of this shit-fest. I think it goes without saying that this is my unbiased opinion. I understand that they can't all be winners, but I've come to expect so much more from your company (Crown Publishing). Then again, good friends of mine loved this book, so what do I know? smooches

Thanks for the help...

Thanks to everyone who reblogged my freebie post and helped to spread the word. There were quite a few of you, so my apologies that I did not get around to each of you to say thanks. Know that you have my appreciation. 

 

 

Free Story and a Cheap Audiobook

 

For the next five days, you can grab the Kindle edition of "Margins" for free, and then get the audiobook from Audible for $1.99.

 

 

 

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Sorry for the barrage of posts...

Sorry for the barrage of posts. I'm done now. 

Currently reading

It: A Novel by Stephen King
Howard the Duck Omnibus by Steve Gerber, Val Mayerik, John Buscema, Carmine Infantino, Frank Brunner, Gene Colan
Progress: 82/800pages