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Sensor Sweep: Star Frontiers, Steranko, Asimov, Grey Hawk –

Sensor Sweep: Star Frontiers, Steranko, Asimov, Grey Hawk

Monday , 13, November 2023 1 Comment

Conan (Education Forensics): If you listen to “Ask Chuck Dixon” on YouTube or UATV, you’ll know that Dixon has written thousands of comic books. He created the character Bane, and wrote ‘Batman’ for DC for ten years. He’s also responsible for the Levon Cade series of Vigilante Justice novels.

One of the things he talks about regarding the difference between writing comics and writing prose is that writing comics is actually more difficult, because the pictures are already there.

Fiction (Book Graveyard): Lee Grimes was born in Nebraska in 1920 and died in Connecticut in 2009. He wrote three sci-fi books, a children’s book, and these two Chandra Smith books. I found a site called Nebraska Authors that has Lee Grimes pseudonym as Fremont Dodge but I only see one book listed under that name and it’s called Muck Man. The Ax of Atlantis is unfortunately, the second and final entry in the Chandra Smith series. Chandra is an art expert/spy.

Fiction ( Ken Lizzi): Gardner F. Fox‘s The Borgia Blade is a distillate of Rafael Sabatini, served with a squeeze of romance novel in a man-sized pewter tankard. Fox streamlines the historical adventure novel, keeping only the good stuff. And yet at the same time one gets the impression that he’s putting all his research on the page. That is usually a criticism, suggesting an overstuffed narrative filled with extraneous minutiae. But not in this case. Borgia Blade is replete with period detail of the sort that delights the student of medieval and renaissance military history.

Weird Tales (Tellers of Weird Tales): You could say that in its first two years in print, Weird Tales was actually three magazines overseen by three different editors: Edwin Baird from March 1923 to April 1924; an uncredited Otis Adelbert Kline for just one issue, May/June/July 1924; and Farnsworth Wright from November 1924 onward. (There weren’t any issues in August through October 1924.) Seabury Quinn had the second feature to appear in Weird Tales, not counting “The Eyrie,” the regular letters column.

RPG (Grognardia): With all the talk of Star Frontiers in issue #9 of Polyhedron, I thought it might be worthwhile to look more closely at what might well be the best adventure ever published for that roleplaying game, Bugs in the System. Some of you may recall that, almost two years ago, I included Graeme Morris’s 1985 effort in the list of My Top 9 non-D&D Adventures of All Time.

Conan (Sprague de Camp Fan): Anyway, onward… The Conan the Barbarian movie was first scripted by Oliver Stone, then revised by John Milius. Sprague received a copy of the script in early 1980 and sent off a six-page letter to his fellow board members (John Troll, Arthur Lieberman, and Glenn Lord) at Conan Properties, Inc. (CPI) discussing his concerns. (Below are some excerpts.) Sprague comes across as a little prudish which is surprising as his and Carter’s pastiches had sex scenes in their stories.

Comic Books (Dark Worlds Quarterly): “The Green Falcon” appeared in a dozen issues of Archie’s Blue Ribbon Comics, #4 (June 1940) to #15 (August 1941). The script was written by Harry Shorten except the last episode by Joe Blair. The artwork was done by three different artists but was fairly consistent despite the changes. Based on the history of England during the Crusades, the series featured no magic unlike its companion strip, “Galahad” in Top-Notch Comics.

Art (Frontier Partisans): Jim Steranko turned 85 the other day, and respects must be paid. In my humble opinion, he is one of America’s greatest living artists. And then he walked away from comics. That’s the period I want to cover in this post. When Jim turned his back on comics, he started his own publishing company. He also began doing paperback covers. Many of those were for Western novels and they are pretty bad-ass. You can check those out below along with a few Western pieces for Marvel.

Sword & Sorcery (Paperback Warrior): The 1970s was a fertile time for sword-and-sorcery to dominate pop-culture. The British publisher Corgi took advantage of the marketing explosion to offer a five-book series of genre titles called Raven. Like the 1960s Conan paperbacks published by Lancer and edited by Lin Carter, the Raven books have a handy map at the front indicating a large body of water with two islands in the center, surrounded by places called The Frozen Peaks, The Lost Mountains, The Ice Wastes, The Lost Lands, etc.

Magazines (Spectre Library): The cover proclaims Phantom magazine to feature “true ghost stories” but does it? The editorial inside suggests that some of the stories claim to be true and some are fiction, but the editor decided not to clarify which was which, leaving that up to the reader to decide. This debut edition features no date, but inside an advert stating that the next issue would be out next month.

Gaming (Walker’s Retreat): As I said yesterday, the biggest problem in the tabletop medium of fantastic adventure wargaming is that we’ve had over 40 years (since 1980) of absolute bullshit regarding what this medium is and how it works. One of these is that it’s an Ungame: It is a game of conversation which “fosters listening skills as well as self-expression”.

Science Fiction (Por Por Books): I recently was looking through the November, 1983 issue of Penthouse magazine, which features an excerpt of the Isaac Asimov novel ‘The Robots of Dawn’, which was published in hardback in October, 1983 (and in paperback a year later). Reading the excerpt brought home to me just how awful mainstream sci-fi was in the early 1980s, and just how mediocre the major authors in the field were at writing prose. Here’s a paragraph from ‘Robots’:

D&D (Isegoria): When Dungeons & Dragons was young, it had a western counterpart called Boot Hill that I only knew through the crossover rules in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Adam Rutskarn went back and gave this “cowboy miniatures game from the 1970s” a try:

Science Fiction (Gizmodo): The Expanse book series ended in 2021 with ninth entry Leviathan Falls, and the TV series adaptation wrapped up after six seasons in 2022. And while Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck—who write together as James S.A. Corey—have nixed any return to the world of The Expanse, they’re still working on sci-fi projects together, as today’s big announcement attests.

D&D (DM David): D&D’s original Basic Set arrived in stores in the fall of 1977, but in only reached third level. For higher levels, the set directed players to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons—except the advanced game would take two more years to complete. The AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide, which included the advanced combat tables, came in 1979.

Cinema (Yard Barker): Movies don’t come much pulpier than The Beastmaster, which is exactly what one expects in terms of plot. It focuses on a man who can communicate with animals and has to use that ability to fight against a malevolent wizard. The Beastmaster isn’t an example of quality filmmaking, but this is precisely what makes it such a perfect encapsulation of the pulp aesthetic.

Robert E. Howard (Black Gate): Although best known as the creator of Conan the Barbarian, Solomon Kane, and other sword and sorcery characters, Robert E. Howard had a lifelong interest in boxing, attending fights and avidly following the careers of his favorite fighters. Even though as a child he was bookish and intellectual, in his teen years he took up bodybuilding and eventually entered the ring as an amateur boxer.

Games (Dexerto): Players who pre-ordered Modern Warfare 3 received the added bonus of playing the campaign one week before the full game launched. The window should have provided a perfect opportunity to experience the single-player story without multiplayer and Warzone interfering. But instead, community members flew through the relatively short story and walked away with a bitter taste in their mouths.

Manga (MSN): Ghost Reaper Girl returned on October 30th with the sudden release of chapter #36. In the surprise installment, the eponymous hero, also known by her human name Chloe Love, gets her request granted to meet the directors of the organization that employs her to hunt ghosts, Arkham Bullet. Chloe’s actions are motivated by Arkham’s recent decision to send characters loosely based on Cthulhu monsters after her and her spirit comrades for their association with the spirit Kai Iod.

Fantasy (DMR Books): Parallel Universe Publications continues to come down the line filled with S&S stories from authors new and old. Volume Six features many names that have appeared in previous installments. Several are active authors in the community with stories appearing in different venues. A couple I was wholly unaware of before reading their stories.

Tolkien (History Debunked): The first chronological guide to the world created by J R R Tolkien is about to be published.

D&D (Swords and Stitchery): So my buddy Mark Taormino’s Dark Wizard Games has a brand new Kickstarter for the 10th Anniversary of  ‘The Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Princess’. And My player’s Castles & Crusades PC’s were wiped out during the events of #1. Hanging Coffins has the PC’s in peril right out of the gate; “Death or freedom? The Vampire Queen has challenged a small band of her worst prisoners to escape from her wicked dungeon lair.

Cinema (Bounding Into Comics): Undoubtedly emboldened in their decision by the recent success of their mascot’s recent cinematic outing, Nintendo has officially announced that they will be teaming with producer Avi Arad and director Wes Ball to develop a live-action The Legend of Zelda film.

Comic Books (Stuff Ian Likes): Cliff Secord has problems. He’s a stunt pilot living off what he can get doing air shows, but his ambitions soar higher than that. His girlfriend Betty seems to be much more successful than him which he thinks spells doom for their relationship. And to make matters worse, some gangsters just tried to shoot up his plane while being pursued by mysterious government types. The only ray of sunshine is the mysterious duffle bag they left in the cockpit of his plane…

Fiction (Pulp Super Fan): o I continue my reading of Chuck Dixon‘s Levon Cade series with the next two in the series. I guess I’ll continue to post two novels at a time. Hopefully, by the time I get to the eleventh, we’ll have the twelfth. Again Chuck Dixon is a long-time comicbook writer who has worked on a variety of characters at several publishers.

Anime (Isegoria): The first Japanese feature-length animated film — the first animé — doesn’t get much attention these days, even though it’s beautifully made, in a Disney-inspired style, because the film, Momotaro: Sacred Sailors, or Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors, was made for the the Japanese Naval Ministry in 1944 and released in 1945, a few months before Japan surrendered:

Fiction (Ruined Chapel): Last week’s review was of a techno-thriller video game tie-in novel. This week’s review is of a techno-thriller video game tie-in novel. By thunder, I hope I’m not turning into one of those people who only reads one type of book. Hopefully, this review will prove interesting enough to justify it.

Hammett (Author Documentaries): Samuel Dashiell Hammett (May 27, 1894 – January 10, 1961) was an American author of hard-boiled detective novels and short stories. He was also a screenwriter and political activist. Among the enduring characters he created are Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon), Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man), the Continental Op (Red Harvest and The Dain Curse) and the comic strip character Secret Agent X-9. Hammett “is now widely regarded as one of the finest mystery writers of all time”.

One Comment
  • Joe says:

    Hire Warren Ellis next to join Arkhaven

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