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With great power comes great responsibility. Many would recognize this as the philosophy that has driven Spider-man for the past 56 years. Equally it could apply to Spider-man’s creator, Stan Lee, who passed away last Monday at the age of 95.

 

It is no exaggeration to say that Stan Lee invented the modern superhero. While Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created the architype with Superman in 1938, and Bob Kane and Bill Finger hit on a cultural icon with Batman in the following year, the early years of superhero comics were filled with pulp stories of war-time intrigue, gangsters, and simple characterization. Comics in the forties and fifties were more interested in tales of chilling horror to delight and amaze than telling complex, human stories.

 

Stan Lee changed that. Having already been a veteran of the industry by the 1960s, Lee was given a chance by the new Marvel comics to tell more complex stories. Instead of white-and-black hatted cowboy stories, Lee wanted heroes that had personalities, who suffered loss and self-doubt, and didn’t always win at the end of the day. Marvel’s heroes were modern heroes, and their masks became metaphors.

 

It is no surprise that Lee’s heroes – the rage-induced Incredible Hulk, the prosecuted mutants of the X-Men, the morally questionable Daredevil – all appeared and rose to popularity during the tumultuous time that was the 1960s. The counter culture revolution had young people questioning their parent’s straight-laced and more repressed mindsets. Unlike Superman, who was a stalwart beacon of truth, justice and the American way, Captain America was a man out of time, proud to wear his uniform but also willing to question his orders if he thought them unjust. The Civil Rights Movement and second wave feminism allowed the voiceless to rise up, and readers wanted to see themselves reflected in the comics. Lee obliged, with characters like Black Panther, and the Wasp.

 

His motivations weren’t all altruism and social responsibility. Lee was a showman, and had an eye for what would sell. He created She-Hulk – Bruce Banner’s similarly green afflicted cousin – as a response to the popularity of the Bionic Woman. His first creation for Marvel, the Fantastic Four, was a direct response to DC Comics own Justice League, and would eventually lead to the creation of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the Avengers

 

His instinct for the limelight wasn’t always positive though. Though his monthly column Stan’ Soapbox, Lee became the face and the voice of Marvel throughout the sixties and seventies. However, the contributions and accomplishments of his frequent artist collaborators Jack Kirby and Steve Dikto were minimized. It was these artists’ designs and visual storytelling that gave the comics revolution their style. Lee’s self promotion did not always win him friends, and he tied the Marvel Brand to his own.

 

Ditko – who died earlier this year – was Lee’s co-creator on Marvel’s most popular character, and the most relatable hero of the 20th century: Spider-man. Not a brilliant inventor, a billionaire playboy, a famed scientist, or an all-powerful alien; Peter Parker was just a boy. He found himself out of his element, in a world increasingly dangerous and unpredictable. He had responsibilities but struggled to keep up with them. He doubted himself. He had girl problems. Take off the mask, and he was no different than multitudes of readers picking up the comic week after week.

 

Lee left Marvel in the nineties, during a period of near bankruptcy for Marvel. Because of the nature of the industry, when Lee started working for them, he never saw any of the profits from the dozens of characters he created. But Lee had spent decades tying his name to his characters in the public mindset, and neither could ever escape the other. Lee’s cult of personality lead him to movies and television, where he pushed to have Marvel’s characters take to the screen.

 

While a painted green Lou Ferrigno won fans in the eighties, it wasn’t until the turn of the millennium when the action truly left the page and jumped to the screen, and Lee went along for the ride. From the release of 2000’s X-Men to this year’s Spider-man ; Into the Spider-verse, Lee made a humourous cameo in every film based on his creations, the superhero equivalent of Alfred Hitchcock. Lee lived to see his characters go from the funny pages to Saturday morning cartoons to the company he helped put on the map being bought by Disney for $4 billion. The MCU movies featuring Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson are among the most successful movies ever made. Not bad for a bunch of characters jumping around in their pajamas.

 

"I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic-book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers,” Lee once told the Washington Post. “And then I began to realize: entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives. Without it they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you’re able to entertain people, you’re doing a good thing."

 

We’ve put together an Slist of books and movies created or inspired by Stan Lee, which you can view here.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Excelsior!

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I’ve been riding horses since I was thirteen. By the time I was seventeen, I had convinced my mom to go halves on a horse. I had visions of a trained show pony, preferably black as coal, who never spooked and did everything I asked. Instead, I got Riff Raff. 

 

While he’s actually (mostly) named for the Rocky Horror Picture Show character, the name also fit him as an unwanted baby from Alberta, brought to Ontario to be sold to the African Lion Safari for food. At first, I didn’t want him either.  He was unbroke, spooky, and somewhat ugly with his big heavy head and giant donkey ears.  I wanted a horse I could get on and ride, not an uncut stallion terrified of the little white Shetland pony he shared a field with.  I remember bringing him into the stall the first time (after spending 20 minutes catching him) and being really angry at him for his antsy behaviour.

 

To see him, Riff looks similar to the horse featured on the cover of Scholastic’s upcoming Horses: the Definitive Catalog of Horse and Pony Breeds.  Inside are some horse breeds that even I’m not that familiar with, despite spending the past 20 years around horses in some capacity.  Everyone remotely interested in horses (which I’m pretty sure is all of us, at least those of us who were once little girls) knows about the Chincoteague, but there are plenty of other wild island ponies, including the Eriskay from Scotland, the Padang from Indonesia, and the Skyros from Greece.

 

Canada also has its own horse, called – shockingly – the Canadian (or French Canadian) Horse.  Before their popularity waned in the 1970s, there were three types of Canadian Horses: the Canadian Heavy Draft or St. Lawrence; the Frencher (also sometimes called the St. Lawrence for maximum confusion); and the Canadian Pacer.  The Pacer was known for being able to race on ice, which probably means it should replace the beaver as our national animal.

 

The Canadian Pacer is thought to have influenced a number of breeds in the United States, including the Tennessee Walker, a horse well-known for its unique gaited walk; the American Saddlebred; and the Standardbred.  Riff currently lives in a small herd with a Standardbred mare named Elly and Elly’s daughter, Raina. 

 

Standardbreds are best known for their harness racing, and Elly was in a few races in her youth, meaning she’s trained to pull a sulky or buggy.  She didn’t do very well, possibly because she’s somewhat bad-tempered and uncoordinated.  When leading Elly somewhere, watch your toes; she tends to fling her feet off to the sides.  She and Riff are both approaching 20 years old, so she’s mellowed somewhat.

 

I’ve had Riff for 14 years now.  Once he was gelded and given some attention, he blossomed into one of the sweetest horses I’ve ever known.  When he's feeling good, he plays keepaway in the field: he waits until I get almost close enough to put his halter on, then trots off a good distance before turning back to watch me try to approach him again. He’s good-natured and patient, though that doesn’t mean he won’t buck me off if I deserve it.  And he did, finally, grow into his ears.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Enjoy!

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I would jump at the chance to have a pet dinosaur.  Despite five movies (and counting) focused on just why this would be a terrible idea, there’s still something appealing about it.  I already share my space with a miniature panther; a chicken-sized dinosaur would probably be just as happy to sleep under a pile of blankets on the couch.  Whether it and my easily offended cat would get along is a different concern.

 

Dinosaurs capture the imaginations of people of all ages.  Whether these creatures are searching for the Great Valley, solving crimes with Whoopi Goldberg, or just a pile of bones in a museum, there’s something incredibly appealing about these ‘terrible lizards.’  Especially those large enough to tower over people.

 

Of course, I could have a pet dinosaur.  They just go by a different name now: birds.  Anyone who’s dealt with swans, geese, or particularly aggressive roosters would likely spot the similarities to their ancestors.  Swans and geese are large enough to cause a person damage; just ask the Cambridge University rowers in the UK who had run-ins with Mr. Asbo and his descendants, Asboy and Asbaby.  Chickens may be smaller, but I can personally attest that those beaks are sharp and the spurs on a rooster’s legs can cut skin when they attack you from behind - like the bane of my farm existence, my parents’ Polish rooster, Tolliver.

 

Still, the idea of owning a bird is different from the idea of owning a creature ten, twenty, thirty times bigger, with a mouthful of razor sharp teeth and claws to match.  That doesn’t mean I don’t still want a pet dinosaur; I just reluctantly acknowledge a pet T. rex would probably be dangerous.  No matter how much I might want to sic it on the pickups tailgating me on my daily commute.  T. rex has always been my favourite and the history of its fossils is fascinating to dive into.

 

The largest, best preserved T. rex fossil found to date is FMNH PR 2081, commonly known as SUE.  Discovered in August 1990 by Sue Hendrickson, SUE the T. rex spent most of the 1990s at the center of a legal dispute over ownership of their bones.  SUE was eventually purchased for $8.3 million by the Field Museum in Chicago, and still resides there.  SUE can be followed on Twitter @SUEtheTrex (where they declare not only their nonbinary status but also that they’re a LARGE M U R D E R B I R D and who hasn’t felt that way every now and then) and had a documentary made about them in 2014 called Dinosaur 13, available on DVD and Blu-ray.

 

Although possibly the most famous of the fossils under ownership dispute, SUE isn’t the only one.  In 2012, a fossil collector named Eric Prokopi brought a tarbosaurus skeleton from Mongolia to the UK.  It was later sold in New York for $1 million, but the Mongolian government halted the sale with the complaint that their Constitution declared all dinosaur fossils to be culturally significant and illegal to remove without government permission.

 

Prokopi was charged and convicted - via a guilty plea - of multiple counts of felonious smuggling.  This not only caused the return of the disputed tarbosaurus skeleton, but also the return of more than 18 other fossils; enough that Mongolia was able to open a new dinosaur museum in Ulaanbaatar.  The case was the subject of a 2014 article written by Paige Williams for The New Yorker: “The Black Market for Dinosaurs.”

 

Four years later, Williams has published a book diving more deeply into both the case and the world surrounding it.  The Dinosaur Artist is a combination of paleontology and true crime, exploring the fine line between the advancement of our scientific knowledge and the private collectors’ market.  These collectors pay high prices to claim these bones, in part as a status symbol, but maybe also driven by the same desire I have: to keep a dinosaur as a pet.  By doing so, however, collectors prevent the fossils from being studied and hinder our knowledge about these ancient, magnificent animals.

 

I know that I’ll never have a pet dinosaur.  Even if we were able to bring them back, it’s unlikely that dinosaurs would ever be classified as pets, easily adoptable from the local Humane Society.  Regular lizards – geckos, iguanas, bearded dragons – require specialized care as it is.  And despite the increasing population of urban chickens, city councils would probably draw the line at urban dinosaurs.  Even the small ones.  The idea is still fun to fantasize about, however, and as long as there are books, movies, and novelty T-shirts keeping dinosaurs alive, I’ll be waiting in line.

 

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter.  To keep up to date with all of our services and other information, we encourage you to subscribe to our Green Memo, sent weekly.  And finally, come back to this site each and every week for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Enjoy!

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I love a good scare. As a kid, scary movies were never scary enough for me. TV shows like Twilight Zone intrigued me more than anything, and I’ve never been afraid of things that go bump in the night.

 

By the time I turned twelve, I was losing interest in the selection of kid/YA horror fiction, and that’s when I discovered the queen of creep herself: V.C. Andrews. My Sweet Audrina was one of the scariest books I ever read, and it creeped me out so much that I had to read it twice. Audrina has spent her entire life trying to live up to her deceased sister also named Audrina, and to make her father love her as much as he did his first daughter. Then she comes face-to-face with a terrifying secret - one that everyone knows except her. It was atmospheric, suspenseful, scary, and surprising. As soon as I was finished, I insisted on making a trip to the book store to purchase all of her other books. I can’t say my mom loved the idea of me reading the Flowers in the Attic series, but boy did I enjoy them. They were twisted and scary and I hadn’t read anything like it before.  

 

Details about V.C. Andrews’ life are sparse, but whatever went on in her head, she fundamentally understood what would keep her readers turning the pages. Today her books are written by ghost writers, and they continue to be published under her name, supposedly drawn from completed synopsis and outlines left behind when she died.

V.C. Andrews was a gateway to my full-fledged obsession with horror. Much to my good fortune, it turned out that my mom was into some of the big horror writers of the time. Dean Koontz, Stephen King, and John Saul are just a few that I recall seeing on her shelves, and I read them all!

 

The thing about Stephen King that I have always enjoyed is his ability to tap into the complexities of human nature. Yes there are monsters, but quite often, the monsters are human. From Annie Wilkes to Jack Torrance to Carrie White, his villains are never purely evil and his heroes are flawed, quirky and complicated. Readers genuinely worry about their survival. It’s also worth noting that both of Stephen King’s sons are following in his footsteps. Joe Hill has already published several well-received horror novels, and Owen King co-wrote last year’s hit Sleeping Beauties with his father.

 

Another of my favorite horror writers way pre-dates Stephen King. If you aren’t familiar with Shirley Jackson, she was credited with defining the horror genre.  She is best known for The Haunting of Hill House, which is considered to be the model for all other haunted house tales. It has been adapted to film twice already, and has recently been released as a television series airing on Netflix. She was so influential that she even spawned the Shirley Jackson Award, recognizing works of horror, psychological suspense, and the dark fantastic.

 

One of the most famous horror stories of all time is Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and I recently read Dracul, a prequel written by J.D. Barker - a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award - and Dacre Stoker, the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker. Barker was specifically asked to co-author the novel, and he’s been compared to Dean Koontz and Thomas Harris.

 

This is the first prequel to be authorized by the estate, and based on early reviews, the authors have successfully captured Stoker’s original tone but with a contemporary voice.  When Stoker wrote the original manuscript for Dracula, it was 541 pages long. Sometime before publication, 101 pages from that manuscript disappeared, and nobody except for Stoker himself has ever laid eyes on them (as far as we know). To write Dracul, the authors used Stoker’s notes, journals and artifacts to try and imagine what those pages might have contained. What emerges is a terrifying yet enjoyable origin story of Dracula and his creator Bram Stoker.

 

The book is deservidly getting tons of buzz and has been optioned for film. It should also draw fresh attention to the Dracula story and introduce it to a whole new generation of readers.  

 

If vampires aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other recent horror offerings, including the spooky supernatural thriller We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix, Unbury Carol, a twisted take on the Sleeping Beauty story by Josh Malerman, or Alma Katsu’s The Hunger which is a supernatural retelling of the Donner Party.

 

Regardless of your preferences, if you want to be scared this Halloween season, there will definitely be a book for you!

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Happy Reading!

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LSC would like to welcome you to our new home online. A modern and expressive place for us to work together.

 

Last year, LSC celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. A lot has happened in those fifty years. Humanity has walked on the moon, the Cold War ended, and the Rolling Stones… actually, they’re pretty much the same. But perhaps nothing transformed our world during that time more than the Digital Revolution.

 

In fifty years, computers have gone from being room sized hulks that can only do one calculation at a time, to devices that can fit in your pocket and retrieve information from anywhere. 

 

In those fifty years, LSC has kept up with public library needs as each technological advancement, each social reform, each change has emerged. In 1980, we bought our first computer and automated our acquisitions systems. In 1997, we launched our first website, allowing our clients to order online for the first time. And now, once again, we stride boldly into the future.

 

Today, we are happy to launch our new web presence. With a sleek, modern design, this new site better offers a glimpse into who we are and what we can offer. Its clean, consistent style allows us to reach out to our clients, and provide them with the information they need.

 

And most excitingly, it is 100% responsive, allowing for the first time complete mobile compatibility. Now, the accessibility you have come to expect from LSC is available on desktop, mobile and tablet browsers. Which means our clients can order their books whether they are sitting behind a desk, riding on the bus, or lounging on a beach.

 

Moving forward, we will be introducing new content to the website, including demonstration videos and virtual help options. We will post regularly on our new blog, providing insight and notifications from our experienced team. And now, with our calendar of events, you can see where we’re going to be, so you can stop by and say hello.

 

The new layout and design allow us to incorporate our history, make more accessible our newsletters and Green Memo, and make signing up for the Small Press Program as easy as filling in a form. Of course, all of this is just window dressing, behind which is still accessible our industry leading catalogue and ordering system.

 

As always you will be able to manage your budgets, search the over 2 million titles in our catalogue, and get the precise processing your branches require. From the palm of your hands to the shelf of your library, the new lsc.on.ca ensures we willremain dynamic and reactive in the contemporary digital world.

 

So, we invite you to explore. Learn more about us, where we have come from and where we are going. Just make sure to bookmark us, so when the time comes, you can find your way back.

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