In a case of unbelievable timing, "Tribute: Michael Jackson," Bluewater's biography of the late superstar singer came out this past Wednesday - a scant two days before interest in the icon was piqued and perhaps reached another peak with the release of the documentary "This Is It" in cineplexes nationwide.
It is ironic that the book came out, and sold out its initial press run, right before Halloween and All Saint's Day, because in the final years of his life he seemed even creepier than any of the zombies in his "Thriller" video.
But many have chosen to overlook all his flaws and focus instead on what they see as unquestioned talent and true greatness.
Naturally, a book titled "Tribute" is going to focus on the positive aspects of Jackson's life and the impact it had on so many; there is a foreword by a key member of the Michael Jackson Official Fan Club and the controversies and scandals that swirled around the King of Pop are only briefly mentioned.
"Tribute" takes readers down familiar terrain: The singer's early days with the Jackson 5, the unprecedented success of his first solo album "Off the Wall"; the phenomenon that was "Thriller" and how he followed up the best-selling album of all-time with "Bad," which set a record for #1 hits.
But "Tribute" presents Jackson in a way most of the retrospectives that concentrate on his freakish or iconic qualities fail to do. It presents him as wonderfully human.
Readers get to see a playful Jackson interact with his brothers as a young man and a rarely seen tough side of Jackson as he stands up to record executives pushing for him to release "Thriller" before he felt it was ready and, of course, the lonely and insecure side of Jackson.
"Tribute" also contradicts some information that has been taken as gospel by most news outlets regarding the entertainer. It argues that it was Katherine, Jackson's mother, who first saw the talent he and his brothers possessed and that she had to convince their father Joe of their potential.
"Tribute" also refutes the popularly held belief that Jackson's addiction to painkillers began with his accident filming a Pepsi commercial in 1984. Instead, it argues that Jackson relied on painkillers during his "dangerous" tour in the early '90s to help him cope with stress and by the end of that tour, he was addicted.
For the most part, "Tribute" is for those who want to put aside all the negativity that swirled around Jackson and focus instead on the positive that can be found in his life, his music and through the words and lyrics that touched so many.
In short, for those who want a fresh perspective and positive portrayal of the icon that has an appreciation of his talent while portraying him as uniquely human, "Tribute" is it.
What the boss says
Bluewater boss Darren Davis says he decided to do "Tribute: Michael Jackson" the day after the icon's shocking death in June.
"I thought we needed to do something," said Davis. "It was a shocking moment not only for us but the world. But I wanted to do something with integrity which is why we pushed it back to October . . . we got flooded with e-mails asking if we were doing a Michael Jackson tribute comic . . . we had no clue that the movie would tie in so perfect for the comic."
Davis also feels the "Tribute" comic has something to offer that all the other retrospectives don't.
"What people do not realize is that Michael Jackson was a huge comic book collector. I knew he collected the 10th Muse comic book I created back when I was at Image Comics," said Davis. "He also shopped at the same store as I did in Los Angeles - Golden Apple comics. So we knew that he would approve of us doing a tribute in this medium.
"Since then we have been called bottom feeders and whores because we decided to do a comic book on him," Davis saids with exasperation.
"What people also forget is that we do biography comic books and this was not our first. And that People magazine, Time and hundreds of others did tributes on him and I like to think I am in good company with them by doing our tribute. So it really was a perfect fit for us to take it on. We also did not rush it out to get out. We wanted to take our time to put the best tribute together."
Davis announced that a second printing will be available in a couple weeks, for those who want to order it, with a new cover by Giuseppe Mazzola. He said orders on the second printing should be huge now that the public knows the comic is out there.
Davis said he is very happy with "Tribute" and not just because it is a sales smash.
"I am so proud of this book," he said. "Of all the press we got from announcing this comic, the Chicago Sun-Times really understood what we were doing and really making it about Michael Jackson and not just out for a quick buck. These biography comics are not easy to do and always come under a lot of scrutiny."
All aboard for 'Thor'
Speaking of sons with demanding fathers, sources from MTV to Newsarama have confirmed that Anthony Hopkins will portray all-powerful Odin in Kenneth Branagh's "Thor."
For the uninitiated, Odin is the father of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his evil brother Loki (Tom Hiddleson).
Filming is to start January and Paramount Pictures will release the film in May, 2011.
Philly's Comic-Con coming
The Philadelphia Comic-Con is being held this Sunday at the Ramada near the Philadelphia Airport.
The public show hours are from 10 a.m. to 4p.m. and admission is just $3. Kids 10 and under are free with a paying adult. There is also plenty of free parking.
A special guest artist is Ken Kelly, perhaps best known for his work on Vampirella and Conan in the '70s. He also painted the covers to two Kiss albums, receiving a gold record for his efforts. Besides the "Love Gun" and "Destroyer" albums by Kiss he also did the cover to "Rainbow Rising" for Ritchie Blackmore.
Also appearing will be local South Jersey artist Neil Vokes, whose work has been published by both DC and Image Comics and includes "Superman Adventures."
For information about the show, contact Derek Woywood of Collectors Comics at 856-217- 5737.