Popular Culture (Grognardia): In 1977. 7-Eleven produced a series of Slurpee cups that featured Marvel Comics characters. This was apparently the second such series, the first having come out two years prior, but I don’t recall ever seeing the original run. In ’77, I wasn’t much of a comics reader, but I did like Spider-Man
Sword & Sorcery (Echoes of Crom Records): I list my top ten classic sword and sorcery novels on this week’s episode.
Weird Tales (Tellers of Weird Tales): Following is a list of the contents of Weird Tales, May/June/July 1924, the first of two parts, this one showing the 37 stories, one essay, and two features or departments, transcribed from the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Thanks to them.
Robert E. Howard (Goodman Games): I think it was Conan of Cimmeria, the Ace paperback. I found it in the school library. Immediately the image of Conan fighting the ice giants was seared into my imagination. That led me down a sword and sorcery path that would pretty much define my early reading experiences. Once I had read everything with a Frazetta cover in the library, I tried moving on, but Shannara wasn’t doing it for me.
Lovecraft (Tentaclii): There’s a new and interesting scientific wrinkle on Lovecraft and ‘fear of the dark’. You’ll recall that Lovecraft had darkish hazel-brown eyes. A new pre-print research paper from Liverpool in the UK tested the “Effect of iris pigmentation of blue and brown eyed individuals” of European descent, in terms of their low-light vision. They found that…
Fantasy (Ken Lizzi): The tastefully named Kenneth Bulmer produced a slim volume of sword-and-sorcery titled Kandar, published in the auspicious year of 1969, my natal year. What to say about this? Let me try a few different approaches. This is streamlined S&S. The paperback weighs in at 127 pages, yet the narrative covers a lot of ground. Bulmer did that by stripping the story down to its essentials.
Robert E. Howard (Sprague de Camp Fan): Looking at Robert E. Howard through a metaphysical lens certainly isn’t a new idea. The first issue of REH: Two Gun Raconteur featured an article by “Elaine” a professional astrologer. Elaine was obviously aware of Robert E. Howard’s talent and fame.
Clark Ashton Smith (M Porcius): Let’s read three more tales of wizardly goings-on in the environs of Zothique, grisly tales of horror that debuted in Weird Tales in the mid-Thirties but which for whatever reason I have skipped in the course of my quixotic quest to read at least one story from every 1930s issue of the great magazine of the bizarre and unusual.
Fiction (Wasteland & Sky): This is a story of swords, sorcery, and cursed lands. So why is it even here, being paired in a collection with a seemingly very different story? Well, I will explain that part a bit later on. For now, let us concentrate on the tale itself. What is “Three Gifts of the White Wolf” and where did it come from?
Music (DVS Press): Bush is a band you might remember from the 90s. If it isn’t, their debut album from 1994, Sixteen Stone, might be worth a turn. Billed as a grunge band, Bush was (and is, they are back in business) a fairly straight-forward rock band that fit the abstract idea of the “Seattle Sound” better than any earlier bands to get the label, including Nirvana (that sounds weird, but aesthetics are often idealized before they are realized).
Fiction (Ben Espen): Silver John, or John the Balladeer, is Manly Wade Wellman’s Southern folk hero. John tramps the ridges and hollows of Appalachia, bringing song and the Gospel wherever he goes. John is a poor and humble man. He places his trust in the Lord, and in the hospitality of the mountain folk, for food and shelter on his wanderings. In return, John protects the people from witches, devils, and haunts, which abound in the lonely and forgotten hollows.
Science Fiction (Fantasy Literature): In my recent review of the 1965 collection Crashing Suns, I mentioned that this Ace paperback gathered together five of the tales from Edmond Hamilton’s INTERSTELLAR PATROL series – a series comprised of seven short stories and one full-length novel – and later expressed a desire to read those three other installments one day. Well, I am here to tell you now MISSION ACCOMPLISHED – at least as far as the novel is concerned. That novel is entitled Outside the Universe and, like its companion pieces, originally appeared in the pages of Weird Tales magazine.
Pulp (Paperback Warrior): We continue our examination of the Jungle Stories pulp published by Fiction House from 1938 to 1954. The reason is simple – the fantastic Tarzan clone Ki-Gor. “Ki-Gor and the Giant Gorilla-Men” was featured in the third issue of Jungle Stories, which released in 1939.
Fiction (DMR Books): The volume was The Religion, by Tim Willocks, the first of a projected trilogy featuring his hero Mattias Tannhauser — and the landscape of my world of history and legend would never be the same.
Comic Books (Dark Worlds Quarterly): “The Thing in the Crypt” begins in a Jack London mode that is quite appropriate for Howard, who was a fan. Young Conan has escaped slavery and is being hunted by wolves. He kills some with his slave chain then loses some through the thin river ice. He seeks shelter in a cave that proves to be the entrance of an ancient tomb. He lights a fire with stray branches and debris.
Games (Fandom Pulse): Project 007 is an upcoming James Bond video game in development by IO Interactive, the creators of the popular Hitman series. This highly-anticipated title aims to deliver the ultimate James Bond fantasy experience by letting players truly step into the shoes of the iconic spy.
D&D (Grognardia): I’m very interested in the history of Dungeons & Dragons, but I’m not a historian – especially when compared to someone like Jon Peterson. Consequently, if Jon opines that January 26, 1974 is the day on which D&D was released – and, therefore, the game’s birthday – I’m inclined to trust his judgment. So, happy birthday Dungeons & Dragons! For the last half-century, you’ve entertained untold millions of people across the globe, providing them with a delightful means to exercise their imaginations together with their friends.
Comic Books (Super Hero Type): The new Savage Sword of Conan holds true to the spirit of the original. The first issue features a prose story by Conan the Barbarian author Jim Zub, and a Conan comic by John Arduci, with art by Max Von Fafner. It also features the return of Solomon Kane, in a story written and drawn by Patch Zircher.
Cartoons (Rip Jagger Dojo): I have enjoyed again the 1960’s Spider-Man TV show. It’s a hoot. This cartoon, along with the Hanna-Barbera Fantastic Four and the Marvel Superheroes in syndication were my first windows into the Marvel Universe and the comics in general. I have great fondness for them, despite not having seen most of them for decades.
Superheroes (Paper Dragon): Of all the late lamented Heroes, the late lamented sarsaparilla-drinkers, there is none lamentably departed as our own Detroit special, the Green Hornet. Back in the age of innocence, the Green Hornet was goodness-personified-twice-a-week. He was, after all (a moment of reverence), the grand-nephew of the Lone Ranger.
Cinema (Art of the Movies): And so, after the wild and trashy ’70s and the horror-inflected ’80s we reach the ’90s, the last truly great decade for cult movies.
Fantasy (Silver Key): I’m back at it again, with a long-awaited review of Death Dealer 3: Tooth and Claw. Check out my reviews of book 1 and book 2 of this four-part sword-and-sorcery epic by James Silke. Short, negative review: Tooth and Claw ranks among the worst books I’ve read in the last decade. The series keeps going downhill (and book 1 was not even that good).
Mythos (Rough Edges): I was in the mood for something completely different from what I usually read, and I figured a novel that, from its description, sounded like a collaboration between F. Scott Fitzgerald and H.P. Lovecraft ought to do the trick.
Cinema (Black Gate): A doomed ship and a doomed crew: The Last Voyage of the Demeter. Rated R – Bloody Violence. Bloody great film! I watched this film while recuperating from another back procedure in December. The movie stars Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworthy from Game of Thrones), and Corey Hawkins (Heath, from The Walking Dead.)
Horror (Too Much Horror Fiction): Despite it coming out at the height of the Eighties horror boom and published by genre giant Tor Books, I have no recollection at all of Fine Frights: Stories That Scare Me. An anthology of short stories compiled by the great and prolific Ramsey Campbell, the subtitle is the seller here: a story that can frighten one of horror’s premier authors will surely reduce regular readers to a slab of shivering Jello.
Comic Books (Cyborg Caveman): Looks like another Kane cover, layout/pencils at least. A blurb notifies us of “the return of Red Sonja” and another announces “Rampage at Ravengard!” Roy Thomas is writer/editor, John Buscema does pencils and Giordano and Adkins inked it. Freely adapted from someone else this time. Instead of repurposing yet another of REH’s non-Conan adventures Thomas “freely adapted” Kothar and the Conjuror’s Curse by Gardner F. Fox.
Pulp (Pulp Fiction Reviews): Professor I.V. Frost was Wandrei’s take on Sherlock Holmes. He was an eccentric genius who gave up teaching because it bored him and turned to solving bizarre, intricate mysteries that baffled the police. In his first published tale, he hired a beautiful blonde named Jean Moray to be his assistant, ala a girl-Friday. Try imagining Basil Rathbone (Wandrei envisioned Frost as tall, skinny, gaunt fellow ala a living scarecrow) having as as his partner the sexy blond-bombshell, Jean Harlow. That’s Frost and Moray.