Star Wars (Polygon): For several years, author Alan Dean Foster had been trying, without success, to get paid for several major tie-in novels adapting movies from the Star Wars and Alien franchises. While Disney has kept the books in print with other publishers, with Titan handling Alien and Del Rey on Star Wars, Foster says he hasn’t received royalty payments for new editions.
Hollywood (Arkhaven Comics): “They don’t understand the movie business! They don’t understand talent relations!” This was the Cri de Coeur of a major, (and unnamed) Hollywood agent after Warner Media’s announcement last Friday that they were putting all of their movies on HBOmax. This was the cry from the heart of the Hollywood Swamp.
Science Fiction (Adventures Fantastic): For today’s birthday post, I’m going to look at “The Beast-Jewel of Mars”. It was first published in the Winter 1948 issue of Planet Stories. Burk Winters is a spaceship captain who has resigned. His fiance, Jill Leland, took a flier out into the desert. Her flier was found crashed, but her body is missing. He’s going to look for her. Burk has an unusual plan to do that.
Fiction (DRM Books): Tonight we pay tribute to Arthur D. Howden Smith. Once one of the star authors for Adventure Magazine alongside Harold Lamb and Talbot Mundy, Smith died in near obscurity on December 18, 1945. He deserved better than that.
D&D Cinema (Grey Hawk Grognard): With the news that Chris Pine will be starring in the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons movie from Paramount (coming in May 2022), folks have started to comment on the viability of D&D films in general. One specific criticism I’ve seen recently is that D&D is not enough to carry a film on its own; unless it shows the characters as players as well as their in-world characters, such a film is inevitably just going to be a generic fantasy film with D&D attached to the name.
Cinema (Rough Edges): The plot of SAHARA is pretty simple: an American tank commanded by Sgt. Joe Gunn (Humphrey Bogart) and crewed by radioman Jimmy Doyle (Dan Duryea) and gunner Waco Hoyt (Bruce Bennett) is trying to get through the North African desert and link back up with the rest of their command before the Germans catch them.
Comic Books (Syfy.com): Gardner Fox was cut from a different cloth than many of his fellow comics trailblazers. Unlike icons such as Will Eisner, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Joe Schuster, and Jerry Siegel, Fox did not grow up poor. He came from an affluent Long Island family. He had a law degree from St. John’s University. While others worked on the four-color books as a necessity to pay bills, Fox actually made the choice to quit his legal practice to do comics full-time.
Pulp Fiction (Pulp Net): I’ve posted previously on Adventure House‘s excellent pulp reprint magazine High Adventure. It has been running for years, and is close to 175 issues. But this time we’ll look at #150, which is a double-sized, 25th anniversary issue with a wide range of stories. The attempt here was to show the wide breadth of pulp fiction by showing a variety of stories from different genres.
Appendix N (Arkhaven Comics): Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson is the most influential book you’ve never heard of. Okay, given my readership that’s probably not true but for the gen-pop audience it certainly is. This book is vitally integral to the Dungeons and Dragons canon.* It’s not the backbone of it, that is still The Lord of the Rings. But it is, however, the very heart Appendix N.
Science Fiction (Benespen): A Coming of Age by Timothy Zahn [Amazon link] is exactly the kind of thing Tim Zahn is good at writing: a whodunit with a science fiction milieu and a heavy dose of intrigue. Is is also further evidence that Zahn is the most consistent sci fi writer in the business, as it was published in 1984, and I honestly couldn’t tell. The man just keeps writing to the same standard, year in and year out. This was only his second published novel, but Zahn did have a couple of dozen short stories in print by then, which is less common now for an author just starting out.
Art (Dark Roasted Blend): Josh Kirby (1928-2001) was one of these illustrators who crammed his canvas with the most unusual amount of highly intense visual elements (some of the Medieval surreal painters such as Hieronymus Bosch come to mind). His art was so lush with colorful detail that a single painting required a full minute to properly appreciate – a time enough to down a single-shot cup of espresso, perhaps, for those who like their art with a good coffee (like we at DRB do).
Cinema (Last Stand on Zombie Island): One of the unsung great character actors of British/South African martial films, Ian Yule, passed away last week in Chichester, West Sussex, aged 87, where he had been retired since 2015 under the good auspices of the South African Legion and The Honourable Artillery Company.
Authors (Rough Edges): I don’t recall the first book by Ben Haas that I read. I remember seeing Fargo and Sundance paperbacks, which he wrote under the pseudonym John Benteen, when I was in college, and I’m pretty sure I owned a copy of the movie novelization ROUGH NIGHT IN JERICHO, which he wrote under the pseudonym Richard Meade, even earlier than that, but I don’t think I ever read it.
Pulp Fiction (Glorious Trash): I wasn’t expecting much out of this volume of The Spider; all I knew about it was that Richard “The Spider” Wentworth’s best friend/arch enemy Governor Kirkpatrick (formerly the commissioner) might be the latest villain sowing death and destruction across the country. It turned out though that Overlord Of The Damned was one of the more outrageous installments of the series I’ve yet read, with copious amounts of violence and gore.
Fantasy (Dimitrafimi): This is a blog post I’ve been meaning to write for a few years now – in fact, every time I teach William Morris’s The Wood Beyond the World I tell myself I’ll get on with it, but every year I just allow myself to move on to other things. This time, however, I promised my students (this year’s cohort of our Masters in fantasy, the Fantasy MLitt at the University of Glasgow) that I would actually get my act together and write it – so there!
Art (The Other Side): Margaret Brundage is another artist you may not know by name but certainly by her art. I will go out on a limb and say she was one of the most recognizable artists of the Pulp Era. Margaret Brundage, born Margaret Hedda Johnson was born December 9, 1900, in Chicago, a place she would call home till her death in 1976.
RPG (Grodnardia): A good example of what I’m talking about is Brian Leikam’s “In Defense of the Lowly Fighter,” which appears in issue #30 of Polyhedron (July 1986). Leikam was a RPGA tournament winner, as well as a member of the US Air Force, who ran a Dungeons & Dragons campaign at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri (or so says his author bio).
D&D (Monsters & Manuals): I am very positive and hopeful about the future of the OSR and those, like me, who are “adjacent” to it. (I hate the word “adjacent”, by the way. Partly because of the daft way it’s used, but mostly because of how it looks on the page. It’s aesthetically nasty. “Eels” is another one, when the initial E is capitalised. It just looks wrong. But anyway.) It is true that blogs are not what they were and there is much less dialogue taking place between the big ones.
Horror Fiction (Dark Worlds Quarterly): Ghost stories From Victorian magazines are the main source of most ghost story anthologies. Despite this fact, the same old chestnuts get used and re-used endlessly. The reason for this is many anthologists never looked at the original versions but at previously collected volumes. Hugh Lamb is the exception. This sad fact means there are literally hundreds of unreprinted stories by unfamiliar authors– and best of all, these tales are illustrated.
D&D (R’lyeh Reviews): Published in 1980, S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks has long been regarded as a classic adventure for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, First Edition, even so far as being ranked at number five in Dungeon magazine’s ‘The 30 Greatest D&D Adventures of All Time’, published to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of Dungeons & Dragons. Set in the World of Greyhawk, it did something that no other module did at that time.