Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Elaine Eff on CBS News Sunday Morning

Last Sunday, CBS reporter Jan Crawford explored the unique folk art tradition of painted screen doors in Baltimore. Featured prominently in her piece is UPM author Elaine Eff -- the authority on the subject on painted screens. 

Eff is the author of The Painted Screens of Baltimore: An Urban Folk Art Revealed. The book, published last year, offers readers an in-depth study of this beloved icon of one major American city through the words and images of dozens of self-taught artists.

Eff examines the roots of painted wire cloth, the ethnic communities where painted screens have been at home for a century, and the future of this art form. Eff provides an in-depth look at a community based folk art and an examination of resourceful people practicing home grown arts. 

The video featuring Eff's commentary is below. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Curtis Wilkie speaks at Old Capitol Museum

Last week, Curtis Wilkie spoke at Mississippi Department of Archives and History weekly mid-day program, History is Lunch. Wilkie read from his new book Assassins, Eccentrics, Politicians, and Other Persons of Interest: Fifty Pieces from the Road -- a compilation of memorable articles from his four decades as a journalist. Video of his appearance is below. 

Writing as a newspaper reporter for nearly forty years, many of Curtis Wilkie’s most treasured stories were set in the Deep South. Even though he covered eight presidential campaigns, spent a decade in the Middle East, and traveled to a number of conflicts abroad, his memory keeps turning home. His home state of Mississippi, more than others, seemed to him to have an inexhaustible supply of stories, tales full of drama and poignancy and humor. 

As a journalist, he referred to Mississippi as “the gift that keeps on giving.” And for Wilkie Mississippi represented a veritable garden of rogues and racists, colorful personalities and outlandish politicians who managed to thrive among people otherwise kind and generous.The book collects pieces about several southerners: Ross Barnett at the Neshoba County Fair, the assassins Byron De La Beckwith and Sam Bowers, the tragicomic Billy Carter, Edwin Edwards and David Duke, rivals in the zany 1991 race for governor of Louisiana, Trent Lott, and Charles Evers.

Wilkie is known for stories that were reported deeply, with rich anecdotes, physical descriptions, and important background details. He writes about the well-known, such as the late Hunter S. Thompson, as well as more anonymous subjects whose stories have enduring interest. Wilkie brings a clear, perceptive eye to people and events both foreign and familiar, and his eloquent storytelling represents some of the best journalistic writing.

Curtis Wilkie speaks at History is Lunch from University Press of Mississippi on Vimeo.

Curtis Wilkie will talk about and sign copies of Assassins, Eccentrics, Politicians, and Other Persons of Interest at Reed's Gum Tree Bookstore on Friday, October 31, at noon. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Charles Hatfield on Kirby v Marvel Decision

Late last week it was announced that the longtime legal dispute between the estate of Jack Kirby and Marvel Comics had been settled. For some background, the crux of the litigation was whether or not works produced by Kirby and published by Marvel between 1958 and 1963 were work-for-hire. The Kirbys contended that Jack was a commissioned contractor, and as such his estate ought to be allowed to terminate Marvel’s copyright claim. The case actually began when the Kirby estate attempted to do exactly this in 2009. 

After the courts sided with Marvel and  an unsuccesful appeal attempt, the Kirby family sought a Supreme Court hearing for the case. Before that could take place, Marvel and the Kirby family reached a settlement.

Charles Hatfield, author of the Eisner Award-winning Hand of Fire: The Comic Art of Jack Kirby has been following the case throughout. His thoughts on the settlement, republished from his website handoffire.wordpress.com, are below. For more follow Hatfield here and read more about the case here

Hand of Fire is now available in paperback

This is a startling piece of news for those who care about comics and about Kirby. I could feel my own pulse racing—literally, I’m not being hyperbolic—when I first read the news.

What the settlement may mean remains a matter of guesswork and hope. If it works for the Kirby family, though, then the news is good. My hope is that the Kirby family will gain security and comfort from the settlement, and that Marvel’s official line about its history will come closer to acknowledging the truth about Kirby’s essential contribution to the company. I hope this will lead to more honest conversations about how Marvel Comics got made, that Kirby’s story will become an official part of Marvel’s story, and that his name will be forever attached to the company’s marquee properties, going forward. That’s my fervent hope.

The case has been long and complicated, dating back to copyright termination notices filed by the Kirbys in 2009, which sparked a suit from Marvel and a countersuit by the Kirbys. In July 2011 the US District Court for the Southern District of New York found in favor of Marvel, rejecting the Kirbys’ case. In August 2014 the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed that decision, again handing down an opinion that favored Marvel. Last October the Second Circuit rejected a request to rehear the case, after which the Kirbys’ attorney Marc Toberoff submitted their cert petition to SCOTUS on March 21. Yet many observers felt that this would not be enough to counter the judgment of the Second Circuit; SCOTUS grants few cert petitions, and the Kirbys’  was widely seen as a gesture of last resort: a last-ditch, Hail Mary pass in spite of the fact that the matter had been firmly settled in Marvel’s favor. It appeared to many that the case was done and that the Kirbys had simply been beaten.

However, news of the cert petition reignited publicity over the case, and in May SCOTUS discussed the case in conference, after which the Court requested a response from Marvel. Then, in June, things started to happen: several important amici curiae briefs supporting the Kirbys’ petition brought high-profile attention to the case. One of these was filed on behalf of Kirby biographer Mark Evanier, Jack Kirby Collector publisher and editor John Morrow, and the PEN Center USA (a nonprofit representing diverse writers). In addition, the California Society of Entertainment Lawyers filed a brief.

Another brief that became very important for the press coverage of the  case was submitted by Bruce Lehman, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office, and an authority on intellectual property law. Lehman filed in collaboration with former US register of copyrights Ralph Oman, the Artists Rights Society, and the International Intellectual Property Institute; they were joined by the American Society of Illustrators, the National Cartoonists Society, the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, and other organizations representing arts professionals—as well as scores of cartoonists and illustrators who also signed on.

The Hollywood Reporter‘s Eriq Gardner published an illuminating article on the Lehman and Evanier briefs, including the complete text of both, on June 19.

Another piece of big news was the brief filed by three film industry unions, SAG-AFTRA, the Directors Guild of America, and the Writers Guild of America. The unions’ support of the Kirbys’ petition made the case a Hollywood headliner. Clearly creators in many other fields besides comic books saw the ramifications of a case regarding freelance creators, work for hire law, the so-called “Instance and Expense” test invoked by the Second Circuit, and the termination rights of creators and estates. At issue were questions fundamental to IP and work for hire law. Again, Hollywood Reporter‘s Eriq Gardner spotlighted the legal implications in a helpful article, dated June 23.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Ninth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Nine years ago today, Hurricane Katrina reached landfall on the Gulf Coast. The storm claimed the lives of 231 Mississippians and left more than 45 million cubic yards of debris in its wake. In a statement released today, current Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, said of the storm:
It forever changed the landscape of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and lives for countless families that were permanently displaced. Since that time, Mississippians have shown incredible strength, resilience, and a caring spirit for their neighbor while building back the Gulf Coast stronger than before Hurricane Katrina.
In the nine years since Katrina UPM has published several books focused on Hurricane Katrina, its impact on the Gulf Coast and the people of Louisiana and Mississippi. It’s encouraging to see that through devastation of the storm, people still found the resiliency to create art and tell their story.

Below, we’ve identified three books that deal exclusively with the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Katrina.

Hurricane Katrina: The Mississippi Story
 by James Patterson Smith
This book is the fullest account yet written of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Rooted in a wealth of oral histories and other primary sources, it tells the dramatic but under-reported story of a people who confronted unprecedented devastation.

This book combines 86 of Melody Golding's striking black-and-white photographs with more than 50 firsthand accounts of Mississippi women, providing uncommonly personal insights into the life on the Mississippi Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina

Ellis Anderson, who rode out the storm in her Bay St. Louis home, wrote a book that is part memoir, personal diary, and firsthand reportage. This book invites readers into the intimate enclave before, during, and after the storm and offers stories of generosity, heroism, and laughter in the midst of terror and desperate uncertainty.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Praise for We Shall Not Be Moved

We Shall Not Be Moved: The Jackson Woolworth’s Sit-In and the Movement it Inspired by M.J. O'Brien has been awarded the 2014 Lillian Smith Book Award. The Lillian Smith awards honor authors who, through their writing, carry on Smith's legacy of elucidating the condition of racial and social inequity and proposing a vision of justice and human understanding.

We Shall Not Be Moved is an up-close study of a watershed Civil Rights demonstration. The book places the Jackson Woolworth's protest into a historical context. Part multifaceted biography, part well-researched history, this gripping narrative explores the hearts and minds of those participating in this harrowing sit-in experience.

FranÒ«oise N. Hamlin, herself a 2013 Lillian Smith Book Award winner, writing in a recent issue of American Historical Review, says of the book:
The book . . . easily draws the reader into the emotion, tragedy, and messiness of movement activity. O'Brien neatly dissects an iconic moment encapsulated by photographer Fred Blackwell's image of the Jackson Woolworth sit-in on May 28, 1963, showing a mob of white youth pouring condiments and insults on the seated protesters... 
O'Brien has crafted a beautifully written text that transcends the local story with a simple, effective, and appealing structure that will lend itself to the many other movement campaigns with equally iconic images. 
O'Brien's writing reflects his journalistic skills—he knows how to tell a story, and how to analyze images, interview his subjects, and craft tight prose that engages readers and elicits empathy for those on both sides.

The University of Georgia Libraries sponsors the awards, in partnership with the Southern Regional Council and the Georgia Center for the Book. O’Brien will be honored  this weekend at the Decatur Book Festival. Also chosen as an award recipient was In Peace and Freedom; My Journey in Selma by Bernard LaFayette Jr. and Kathryn Lee Johnson.

We Shall Not Be Moved is now available in paperback.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Quentin Tarantino's Universe

It's Film Friday again at UPM. And we just ran across this excellent video from HuffPost Live that draws connecting lines to all the character allusions that occurs across Quentin Tarantino's films. 

As the video below points out, Tarantino's characters seemingly all exist within the  very complex 'Tarantinian universe.' That is, characters from films like Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, True Romance, Reservoir Dogs and Inglourious Basterds all coexist in the same fictional world.


The video above dovetails nicely with our recent release Quentin Tarantinio Interviews, Revised and Updated. This volume collects interviews that cover the whole of Tarantino's writing and directing career.  

In a 1994 Film Comment article included in the book, interviewer Gavin Smith noticed this connection and asked Tarantino about it and his motivation behind it.

Their exchange is below.

GS: That’s why all your films have references to characters from one another. The characters in Reservoir Dogs refer to Marsellus [Ving Rhames], who is the hub of all the stories in Pulp Fiction.
QT: Very much so, like Alabama [Patricia Arquette in True Romance]. To me they’re all living inside of this one universe.

GS: And it isn’t out there [pointing out the window].
QT: Well, it’s a little bit out there, and it’s also there, too [points at his TV], in the movies, and it’s also in here [points to his head]. It’s all three. I very much believe in that idea of continuing characters. So what I mean when I wrote “Three stories . . . about one story,” when I finished the script I was so happy because you don’t feel like you’ve seen three stories—though I’ve gone out of my way to make them three stories, with a prologue and an epilogue! They all have a beginning and an end. But you feel like you’ve seen one story about a community of characters, like Nashville [Robert Altman,1975] or Short Cuts [Altman, 1993] where the stories are secondary. This is a much different approach—the stories are primary, not secondary, but the effect is the same.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

McRae Intern Says Summer at UPM was 'eye-opening and informative'

The following is a guest post from Dakotah Daffron. Dakotah worked with UPM this summer as the McRae publishing intern. The McRae Publishing Internship, supported by the Richard and Selby McRae Foundation, offers a singular educational opportunity to young men and women interested in book publishing to start their careers as interns and gain valuable practical knowledge about the publishing industry.

Below, Dakotah talks about his interest in publishing and his experience this summer at UPM.

My interest in publishing stems from a deep appreciation for the craft of writing. As someone who has chosen to pursue a degree in English, I believe it is important to pay attention to not only what is being written, but also to consider how it is being written. When I entered Mississippi State University, I was a Chemistry major with a minor in English. After three semesters, I realized that I enjoyed and excelled in my English classes more than my Chemistry classes. I dropped the Chemistry major, and I decided to follow the English route.

Originally, I had no idea what exactly I wanted to do with my degree. I knew that I did not want to teach, and I knew that I wanted to be in a fast-paced environment. When I joined MSU’s creative arts journal, The Streetcar, it became more clear what I wanted to do. I realized that I liked working with authors and artists, so I began to think about publishing. I discussed this with a few of my professors who were extremely supportive of my decision, and we talked about the different options within the big world I simply call “publishing.” That is actually how I learned about this internship with University Press of Mississippi, and I am incredibly happy that I did.

My summer at UPM has been eye-opening and informative. I believe that because I was a publishing intern rather than an editorial intern, I was able to see how the Press works through more than one lens. However, I did work closer to the Editorial Assistant, Katie Keene, and the Assistant Director/Editor-in-Chief, Craig Gill. I also worked a good bit with the Production Manager, Shane Gong-Stewart, and the Acquisitions Editor, Vijay Shah.

As the McRae intern, my responsibilities were vast. In any given week, I would prepare a contract, read an index, scan page proofs, write email rejection letters, contact authors, and many other tasks. Of my daily tasks, I was solely responsible for contacting and keeping up with readers. This required me to email professors and professionals every day requesting their services. I also helped to prepare for launch meetings, editorial meetings, and board meetings.

The best part of this internship, other than it being a very educational experience, was working with the staff. Since I had previous experience working in an office, I feel like I hit the ground running and was integrated into this machine very quickly. It did not take long for me to learn the procedures, and I have Katie Keene to thank for that. She made the initial learning experience extremely easy. Working alongside Craig Gill was really nice as well; seeing his workload and what it is like to be an Editor-in-Chief only confirmed that I am pursuing the right field. His work may be difficult and he may have a lot of it, but he works with many different authors and editors whose books are about various subjects. 

As I write this post, I am getting ready to head back to Mississippi State to complete my English degree, and I could not be any more sure of my career choice. I thank the University Press of Mississippi staff and the McRae Foundation for that. When I finish college, I want to try my hand in a trade press, hopefully working with YA novels in New York. I do, however, really enjoy the life in a University Press, so I may end up working one. For all I know, I could end up working for UPM again!


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