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-“Hammerhead” Jed returns with a hilarious and exciting new adventure far out of his element, but he has the two things he needs to back him up: his Irish cousin Declan and banana milkshakes.-
A couple years ago I wrote a review on the initial entry in the “Hammerhead” Jed mysteries, Cobra Clutch, and how much I loved having a mystery set within the world of Professional Wrestling. It was an exciting and unique take on the mystery concept and author A.J Devlin created a world full of flawed, yet quite likable characters. When I heard that the second book was on the way, I was excited yet very unnerved. You see rather than running around the rainy streets of Vancouver dealing with pro wrestlers, Jed gets mixed up in the Roller Derby universe which is just as over-the-top and bombastic as the WWE ever has been.
Part time pro-wrestler/part time private investigator Jed is tasked with tracking down the manager of a women’s roller derby team, and quickly realizes he is over his head. Sure it sounds vague, but I am refraining from spoiling much because the returning characters and new venues he finds himself within kept me turning the pages and needing to see what happens in the next chapter.
What I will say is Jed manages to get himself and his cousin Declan into some surprisingly…shall we say unique and intimate situations while trying to dig out of the trouble in which he manages to get himself.
There are several new characters and locations that I expect to pop up in future Jed adventures, especially Troy, a surprisingly lovable stoner kid that gets tied up in Jed’s investigations. I think we may even have a bro-tastic antagonist become very valuable as Jed gets more jobs.
We see the return of quite a few characters from the first book, such as Constable Rya Shepard, as well as a couple cameos that keep us grounded and familiar before diving headfirst into the very unusual world of Roller Derby.
This is where I was worried as a reader. I know the world of pro wrestling and the terminology but Roller Derby is a completely alien beast. It is an aggressive sport dominated by personalities that could easily make Macho Man Randy Savage do a double-take, and it may seem out of place, but it works here. A.J Devlin manages to keep the reader on the same page (pun intended) as Jed is. He is as confused by the roller derby folks as we are, but we learn the ropes as he does.
Rolling Thunder features plenty of action, humor, genuine mystery, wiener dogs, gym rats, bunny puns, greasy talk show hosts, and Shakira, and balances it all with precision.
It never relies on being offensive to give you a sense of a dangerous seedy underworld, instead sucker-punching the reader when something unexpected happens so the reader feels off-balance along with the character.
One thing I wanted to bring up is that I noticed the book reads very well if you aren’t familiar with Jed and his family and friends. When characters or events of the previous book are mentioned, they usually are handled in a manner so a newcomer to the series isn’t confused. I still would suggest reading Cobra Clutch first, but it is far from necessary. If this continues through the rest of series, I will be very happy.
Once again the book clocks in at just the right length-around 280 pages and it feels like a breeze.
Getting more of Jed & Declan together was a highlight of this book, we get some real character growth for Jed, and we are left at a point where Jed may have opened up some doors that cannot be closed again. I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t get a bit more of Jed’s matches, especially considering some of the people that he runs into are huge fans. I would have liked to see some of the colorful tertiary characters interact at a match myself, but maybe that is being saved for the next adventure.
This is one of the few books I have been given by the author and then purchased digitally as I had to keep reading when I didn’t have access to the paper book.
If that isn’t a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is.
Check out Rolling Thunder and if someone says “They know a place”, they probably are referring to a Dairy Queen.
(A physical copy of the book was given to me by the author, and I purchased a digital copy on the Kindle store)
(This guest article was written by Gremlins fan and amazing artist Aelia Petro. Check out and buy some of her incredible work at https://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtByAelia and visit her on facebook https://www.facebook.com/ArtByAelia/)
UPDATE 7/22: The documentary is now available through July 30th over at https://hollywoodtheatre.org/events/gremlins-a-puppet-story/
Today is a good day to be a Gremlins fan. A great day, in fact. Why? Because Chris Walas, father of the Gremlins has dug deep within his personal archives to bring us the behind-the-scenes documentary we’ve always wanted!
Although there is a featurette, (which dates to production and has been on most iterations of the DVD/Bluray), it doesn’t have much behind-the-scenes content. Additional features were released with the Diamond Luxe edition Bluray, with some new content, but that too was fairly limited. But now Gremlins: A Puppet Story gives us an entirely new look at what it took to make one of the most beloved movies of the 1980’s.
Focusing largely on pre-production, this documentary provides a spectacular in-depth look at the creative process that took the titular critters from words on a script page to a foam-latex reality. Whether you already know a lot about the production or not, this documentary is a wonderful viewing experience.
A lot of fans are familiar with the fact that making Gremlins was a stressful experience for the crew. In Gremlins: A Puppet Story, the viewer gets a first-hand look at the early puppets and their limitations. We get to see the various rigs which were each designed for a single, specific action. We get a sense of the toll of uncertainty on the crew. We get to see how much work was done before the movie was green-lit (and it’s a LOT!). Have you ever wanted to see the test footage which earned that green light?
Now’s your chance! Watching the evolution of the puppets is fascinating, and underscores the incredible advances made by certain puppets later in production, namely the “super arms” and the “super gremlin”.
A Puppet Story is an intimate affair. It explores the human aspect of Gremlins as much as it does the mechanical/technical. This is not a cold, impersonal exploration of a film. This is Chris Walas’s personal story of struggle and success. The story of a largely inexperienced crew that came together to create and puppet innovative monsters the likes of which had not been seen before. Walas welcomes the viewer into his home, to tell us his story… and what a story it is!
This documentary is currently streaming for a limited time. Tickets are just $10 and benefit Hollywood Theatre. It’s only available until July 23, 2020, so don’t miss your chance to witness the creation of these iconic 80’s monsters!
Fans have been waiting for many years to finally see the Lady Gremlina (or Greta as she is now known) Tattoo Gremlin and Brown Gremlin hit shelves and it looks like we will see them this fall!
John Squires has a nice little write up about it over at Bloody Disgusting and some photos as well.
We have some photos coming of our own this weekend so keep an eye on the site and facebook page for those.
Does this mean we might get the melted gremlin and Gremlin cocoon as well?
I suppose since we have waited this long for the Gremlins 2 figures and are actually happening we should never say never.
Do you still collect the NECA gremlins? Share your favorite below!
A bar in Milwaukee is transforming into Dorry’s Pub for part of the season! Check it out below. I grew up in Milwaukee and may have to go see this, though not a drinker myself.