Pulp (Pulp Flakes): Last week, we saw Popular Publications was struggling to make money on Black Mask at the fifteen cent price point in 1946. How could they make it work? In May 1946, Black Mask went to publishing every other month, a sure sign of trouble. Detective Fiction Weekly had stopped publication in 1944. Dime Detective was still coming out monthly; it was transferred to Harry Widmer early in 1947. Ken White must have been scratching his head trying to figure out a new direction.
D&D (Sprague de Camp Fan): I’ve been playing tabletop roleplaying games ever since the kid across the alley showed me the Basic Set of Dungeons and Dragons in 1981. And though D&D has dominated much of my gaming life, I have also played many other games. In this article, I want to discuss one of my favorites: Call of Cthulhu.
Weapons (Special Ops): The Belarusian Shershen is a versatile and potent anti-tank guided missile system (ATGM), featuring variants tailored for different operational requirements and demonstrating impressive capabilities against armored targets and fortifications.
Index (Digital Deli): To make this a Vintage Radio History enthusiast site we can all be proud of; sharing, celebrating, and showcasing the very best of 20th Century Golden Age Radio History, including both Radio’s Golden Age, and the wonderful Golden Age Radio History Radio Revival efforts of the later 20th Century.
Book Stores (Atlas Obscura): Our favorite bookstores aren’t just a bibliophile’s dream, but many are also architectural wonders, or home to amazing proprietors, or specialized in a delightful way. Some are palaces to reading, others are more like amazing, book-lined closets.
Pulp (Paperback Warrior): Lorenz Heller (1910-1965) was an awesome crime-fiction author under a variety of different pseudonyms who was largely forgotten until Stark House Press began reprinting his novels under his actual name. The publisher has released a 13-story compilation of Heller’s short stories spanning from 1947 to 1955 from the pulps and digests.
History (Frontier Partisans): As Nathan Ward reveals in his evocative new book, no figure in the Old West lived or shaped its history more fully than Charlie Siringo. Born in Matagorda, Texas in 1855, Charlie went on his first cattle drive at age 11 and spent two decades living his boyhood dream as a cowboy. As the dangerous, lucrative “beeves” business boomed, Siringo drove longhorn steers north to the burgeoning Midwest Plains states’ cattle and railroad towns, inevitably crossing paths with such legendary figures as Billy the Kid, Bat Masterson, and Shanghai Pierce.
Radio (Comics Radio): Three men plan to rob a house and murder the occupants. But they make an unwise choice in deciding on which house to rob.
Cooking (Art of Manliness): Smoke wafts through the air, there’s a cold beer in your hand, and the smell of freshly cut grass drifts by on the breeze. Nothing beats a summer barbecue, and when it comes to grilling, there’s just no substitute for the perfect burger. Unfortunately, grilling burgers is an essential skill that lots of guys don’t have (and don’t even know they don’t have).
D&D (Grognardia): Last month, I shared some illustrations from the AD&D Monster Manual to draw attention to how many of them depicted scenes in which a monster menaced, injured, or even killed an adventurer. There were so many illustrations of this sort that I couldn’t include them all – and that’s a shame. With that in mind, here are a few more of my favorites.
Pulp (Rough Edges): MAMMOTH ADVENTURE was one of the most short-lived Ziff-Davis pulps, running for only eight issues in 1946 and 1947. It appears to have been a decent adventure pulp, though, with some good covers, like this one by Z-D regular Robert Gibson Jones, and good authors. I’m not sure you can include Richard S. Shaver as one of those good authors, but hey, I haven’t read that much by him and certainly am not an expert on him or his work.
Weird Western (Razored Zen): Logan Winters was one of several pseudonyms used by writer Paul Joseph Lederer (July 2, 1944 – January 30, 2016). Some others were Owen G. Irons, C. J. Sommers, Warren T. Longtree, and Paul Ledd. The book was billed as a kind of weird western. I agree it fits that mold, although the primary influence here would be the pulps such as Doc Savage. Doctor Spectros, a master magician of unknown age, has a crew that work with him in the same vein as Doc Savage.
Writing (Dark Worlds Quarterly): Lin Carter’s “Creating a Fantasy Character” appeared in Savage Tales #7 (November 1974). Carter wrote a number of non-fiction pieces for Marvel back in the 1970s. This text article was a ramble through Carter’s creation of Jandar of Callisto. He outlines how he put the adventuring swordsman together using Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars as a template. Now you can raise an eyebrow and ask “Fantasy Character”?
RPG (Walker’s Retreat): The RPG Hobby got into the mess it is because of Boomers. Their problem is the failure to pass on what they received from their elders. What is going on now is that all of the nearly-lost foundational knowledge that the Boomers failed to pass on is being dragged out of the Memory Hole and put back into practice.
Comic Books (John C. Wright): Miss Fury is a forgotten heroine of the Golden Age. She is remembered these days, ironically, for her tangential resemblance to what she is not. She first appeared as The Black Fury in April of 1941 as a Sunday comic strip by June Tarpé Mills, one of few women working in comics at the time, and it shows. There was a contemporaneous comic about a dark-coated stallion named Black Fury, so she, and her strip, was retitled Miss Fury in November 1941, and later gathered into comic book form.
Popular Culture (Wasteland & Sky): There was a palpable feeling back in the late ’90s and early ’00s that the internet was this unknown frontier of endless possibilities. Our entertainment reflected it in perhaps the only real unique usage of 3D CG as animation there has ever been with series like Reboot or Code Lyoko where anything could happen and the world was a mystery waiting to be explored. We are so far away from that now that it almost, ironically, feels quaint now. The magic is gone and nothing will ever replicate that feeling again.
Awards (Kairos): It seems like forever ago that a ragtag bunch of newpub, Baen, and Castalia House authors dominated the first annual Dragon Awards. That day was an early career highlight, and I’m still thankful to my readers and supporters. What would become the current dissident scene was still taking shape back then.
Weird Tales (Tellers of Weird Tales): Last year, I wrote about connections between Weird Tales and Fate magazine. You can read what I wrote by clicking here. One of the points in my first essay is that Fate was one successor to Weird Tales, possibly the primary successor–at least until the 1960s when Robert A.W. Lowndes began as editor of Magazine of Horror. As have I pointed out, weird is from the Old English, wyrd, meaning “fate.” So, Weird Tales and Fate are named for and treat the same concept, namely wyrd or weird or fate.
Fantasy (The Obelisk): Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, better known as Lord Dunsany, was a remarkable figure in the realm of literature. Born on July 24, 1878, in London, England, he would go on to become one of the most influential writers in the fantasy genre, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape of imaginative storytelling.
Review (With Both Hands): Matthew White and Jason McCrae are oddly similar. Other than being five years apart in age, they could be twins. Living in Serenity City, they easily could have never crossed paths with one another. Except that a mysterious woman needs test subjects who are as similar as possible to one another….
RPG (RPG Pundit): No More D&D Books? I was Right! Is it the end of official published D&D books? It looks like my predictions about WotC were right!
Gaming (Hack & Slash): Are modern gamers objectively less creative than old-school gamers?
Here over at Monsters and Manuals, Noisms discusses some of the agency-sucking, mind-reading, poorly presented, ‘Gotcha!’ ideals that make up some of the 4thcore adventures. Noisms postulated a problem that could be solved creatively in a variety of different ways. A treasure hoard is on the other side of the room, with a channel in the middle filled with crocodiles.
Cinema (Bounding Into Comics): Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny director James Mangold decided to deride fans for not liking his deconstruction of Indiana Jones. Mangold replied, “Well, there’s a point where these characters become symbols more than characters, and so there becomes this anxiety that if you examine the humanity of a hero, you somehow weaken them.”
Comic Books (Bounding Into Comics): Chuck Dixon, who created the Batman villain Bane and penned some of the most iconic Batman, Robin, G.I. Joe, and Punisher stories ever created recently explained why he believes “the superhero cycle had a good run but it’s over.”