Vankin, Jonathan 1962-

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VANKIN, Jonathan 1962-

PERSONAL: Born 1962. Education: Brandeis University, B.A., 1984.

ADDRESSES: Home—1911 Hillhurst Ave., #224A, Los Angeles, CA 90027. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: The Advocate, Williamstown, MA, managing editor, 1985–86; Worcester magazine, Worcester, MA, staff writer, 1987–89; Metro, San Jose, CA, news editor, 1989–92; Daily Yomiuri, Tokyo, Japan, 1992–95.

AWARDS, HONORS: Best Sports Story, New England Press Association, 1987, 1988; Bay Area Project Censored Award, Media Alliance, 1990.

WRITINGS:

Conspiracies, Cover-ups, and Crimes: Political Manipulation and Mind Control in America, Paragon House (New York, NY), 1992.

(With John Whalen) Fifty Greatest Conspiracies of All Time: History's Biggest Mysteries, Coverups, and Cabals, Carol Publishing Group (Secaucus, NJ), 1995, revised and updated edition, published as The Sixty Greatest Conspiracies of All Time: History's Biggest Mysteries, Coverups, and Cabals, 1996, second revised and updated edition published as The Seventy Greatest Conspiracies of All Time: History's Biggest Mysteries, Coverups, and Cabals, 1998, third revised and updated edition published as The Eighty Greatest Conspiracies of All Time: History's Biggest Mysteries, Coverups, and Cabals, Citadel Press (New York, NY), 2004.

(With others) The Big Book of Scandal, Paradox Press (New York, NY), 1997.

(With others) The Big Book of Bad, Paradox Press (New York, NY), 1998.

(With others) The Big Book of Grimm, Paradox Press (New York, NY), 1999.

(With others) The Big Book of the '70s: True Tales from Ten Years of Tackiness and Tumult!, Paradox Press (New York, NY), 2000.

(With John Whalen) Based on a True Story: Fact and Fantasy in 100 Favorite Movies, A Capella Books (Chicago, IL), 2005.

Also author of comic-book series The Witching, Vertigo Pop! Tokyo, and Vertigo Pop! Bangkok. Contributor to periodicals, including New York Times Magazine, Wired, and LA Weekly. Contributor to Web sites, including Conspire.com, Lycos.com, and iFuse.com.

SIDELIGHTS: As an editor of an alternative weekly, Jonathan Vankin seeks out stories that might be missed by more mainstream outlets. His books show a similarly eclectic interest in the less-traveled byways of life, particularly in the odd world of conspiracy theories. In Conspiracies, Cover-ups, and Crimes: Political Manipulation and Mind Control in America, for instance, Vankin explores the whole range of secret organizations and the fears they inspire. In the first half, he covers the eccentric and sometimes dangerous people who embrace different conspiracy theories. In the second, he ties together the most popular theories to create a tongue-in-cheek alternative history that may still surprise readers and force them to question some of their cherished assumptions. With John Whalen, Vankin has also written a series of compendiums on conspiracies, most recently The Eighty Greatest Conspiracies of All Time: History's Biggest Mysteries, Coverups, and Cabals. This edition adds U.S. government complicity in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and theories that the 2000 election was stolen, to older alleged cover-ups, such as the John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinations and the supposed alien crash in Roswell, New Mexico.

Vankin has also collaborated with comic-book artists on illustrated collections exploring the seamy underside of life in The Big Book of Scandal, which recounts tales of sleaze, criminality, and simple embarrassment from the worlds of business, politics, and celebrity. Similarly, The Big Book of Bad provides an illustrated guide to some of the most notorious thugs and robbers in history. The world of fiction gets this treatment in Vankin's The Big Book of Grimm. As Reinhard Friederich explained in Marvels & Tales, "The texts and introductions are all by one author, Jonathan Vankin, but each story is drawn by a different comic artist. At the very least the collection demonstrates the striking range, diversity, and competence of contemporary comic art." At the same time, they reveal the darker and more violent original versions of these tales before they were watered down by children's book authors and Disney films.

Based on a True Story: Fact and Fantasy in 100 Favorite Movies explores a similar kind of re-imagining, this time the way in which movies reshape actual events to suit audience expectations. "Few of the movies, the authors point out, bear resemblance to actual events, people, or actions upon which they were supposedly based," reported School Library Journal contributor Pam Johnson. Instead, events are recreated in light of their entertainment value and the overall theme the moviemakers need to get across, whether it means ignoring Maria Von Trapp's often nasty temper in the Sound of Music or the brutal violence of William Wallace in Braveheart. Other times, writers and directors simply fill in the story where very little is known about the actual events, adding characters and incidents that fit the storyline. In either case, "This fun, fact-filled pop culture book is sure to raise (and answer) a lot of questions," according to Library Journal reviewer Barbara Kundanis.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Library Journal, July, 2000, Stephen Weiner, review of The Big Book of the '70s: True Tales from Ten Years of Tackiness and Tumult!, p. 86; February 15, 2005, Barbara Kundanis, review of Based on a True Story: Fact and Fantasy in 100 Favorite Movies, p. 134.

Marvels & Tales, October, 2003, Reinhard Friederich, review of The Big Book of Grimm, p. 272.

Publishers Weekly, July 12, 1991, review of Conspiracies, Cover-ups, and Crimes: Political Manipulation and Mind Control in America, p. 60; January 3, 2005, review of Based on a True Story, p. 47.

School Library Journal, March, 2005, Pam Johnson, review of Based on a True Story, p. 245.

ONLINE

Jonathan Vankin Home Page, http://www.jonathanvankin.com (May 17, 2005).