Glen Weldon

As you may have heard (AND I DEARLY HOPE YOU FRIGGIN' HAVE), our Summer Readers' Poll on Comics and Graphic Novels came out yesterday. You cast thousands of votes, and a crazily accomplished judging panel (which, due to some egregious error in the vetting process, also included me) combed over the top vote-getters, spent hours on the phone arguing for or against each one ...

Long, long ago, when the Earth was new and ichthyosaurs swam the turbid seas, Iron Man 2 arrived in theaters. [Ed. Note — Simmer down. It was 2010.]

It was, most agreed, a disappointment, compared with its predecessor, despite a fun and deeply, deeply squirrelly Sam Rockwell performance. (Remember how he had bronzer on his palms? And no one mentioned it. It was just a character thing? Remember that? That was cool.)

In his new memoir, actor Curtis Armstrong excerpts passages from a diary he kept while filming the 1983 film Risky Business.

July 1

Tom's an interesting character. Can't really make him out. He would appear to be on the brink of a great career.

The "Tom" mentioned in that section above is, of course, the film's star: Tom Cruise.

Armstrong the young diarist proved insightful about two things: 1. Cruise was indeed about to become a megastar, and 2. He was, and remains ... kinda squirrely.

We'll be releasing the results of this year's Summer Reader Poll on Comics and Graphic Novels later this week — and it's a varied and deeply idiosyncratic list, trust us. Y'all have some fascinating favorite comics.

Not to spoil anything, but the final list skews heavily toward recent offerings, which makes sense: The stuff that's been around a long time may earn people's respect, but new discoveries spark excitement. And that's what any survey that asks folks to name their favorites will naturally turn up.

Actor Michael Nyqvist, a respected Swedish actor whose achieved international fame originating the role of journalist Mikael Blomqvist in the 2009 Swedish-language film Män som Hatar Kvinnor (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and its two sequels, died after a battle with lung cancer, according to a statement released on Tuesday.

(Daniel Craig assumed the role of Blomqvist for the 2011 English-language film adaptation and its follow-ups.)

The first book of the Harry Potter series went on sale in the U.K. 20 years ago today. It offers a convenient excuse to reacquaint yourself with a world before anyone on this side of the Atlantic had heard of muggles, horcruxes or pensieves, before tourists would crowd into London's Kings Cross railway station simply to peer wistfully at the space between Platforms Nine and Ten.

Here's the first story NPR ever aired about Harry Potter — a wonderful piece by the late Margot Adler, from All Things Considered in 1998.

Some gems, from that bygone era:

Contains spoilers for both Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad.

Two shows, two slow, inexorable descents into moral bankruptcy.

Over five seasons, from 2008 to 2013, Breaking Bad showed us feckless chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston) transforming — coalescing, really — into the coldly brutal drug-lord known as Heisenberg.

"Why is a welder like a woman in love?"

I'm 7 years old, standing between the two dogwood trees in my backyard. It's autumn; there's a crispness in the golden, late afternoon air. I've taken the hood of my parka and thrown it over my head, but my arms are not in the sleeves. The coat falls over my narrow, bird-boned shoulders and down my back.

Like a cape, you see.

Here at NPR headquarters in DC, MARVELous IMAGEs and FANTAstic GRAPHICS are dancing in our heads as we contemplate this year's edition of our famous Summer Reader Poll — who will make the cut? Will it be packed with old favorites or BOOM! Will a DARK HORSE muscle in?

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