Sensor Sweep: Red Nails, Frank Frazetta, Swords of Fire, Crypt of the Devil Lich

Monday , 15, February 2021 2 Comments

Robert E. Howard (Adventures Fantastic): Robert E. Howard’s final Conan story, “Red Nails”, relates how Conan and his fellow adventurer Valeria come upon a giant, totally enclosed city, Xuchotl, where the inhabitants have divided up into two factions and are in a deadly war to wipe each other out. As is well known, Howard used a lot of real life historical incidents and places as inspiration to write many of his stories. Howard’s two trips to New Mexico in 1934 and 1935 with his good friend Truett Vinson provided ideas for his stories.

Writing (Monster Hunter Nation): So far most of the reviews for my latest book have been good. However, there’s a couple that made me laugh because of how goofy and off base they are. This one in particular for the audiobook is going to peg the Brandollini meter, but it illustrates a few things about how the writing process/reviewing works, that I thought might be professionally helpful for the writers who read this blog to understand how my collaborations work.

Cinema (Arkhaven Comics): Triumph. Victory. Success. Conquest. There is no better feeling in the world.  I get the guy who really wants to win. And Ford Versus Ferrari really speaks to me.  It was a fantastic film.  They did everything right, and everyone did their level best to bring their A-Game.  For those who have never watched Top Gear or who just don’t like cars. Ford versus Ferrari is about the legendary grudge match between the David and Goliath of 1960s motor racing. Enzo Ferrari and Henry Ford II (grandson of Henry Ford).

Interview (Amatopia): Jon Mollison is a prolific author of the self-styled pulp revolution. In the best spirit of his inspiration, Jon’s work transcends genre: he’s written sci-fi, post-apocalyptic dystopia, gritty noir, fantasy, superhero, sword-and-sandal . . . you name it, Jon’s taken it, shaken it up, and passed it through his own filter to craft some of the most fun adventure tales around. It also helps that he’s a hell of a writer, with lean, evocative prose worthy of the pulp masters of yore.

Star Wars (Bounding Into Comics): Following Disney’s takeover of the Star Wars franchise, the storytelling has completely declined epitomized with the absolute failure of The Last Jedi and subsequently The Rise of Skywalker and The Mandalorian. Not only has the storytelling declined significantly, but the company also employs people who regularly attack its fans such as Rian Johnson and Pablo Hidalgo. So there are plenty of reasons to ditch Star Wars, and there are a number of properties that can replace it.

Art (DMR Books): It all began when the publisher, Paperback Library, approached Frazetta to paint a cover for Carter’s Thongor novel, Thongor Against the Gods in late 1966. Lancer Books’ Conan the Adventurer had hit the newsstands a few months earlier and the Paperback Library guys wanted Frank to paint their barbarian. Frank obliged and Thongor Against the Gods, graced by one of Frazetta’s most iconic covers, burst upon America’s spinner racks in November, 1967. Check it out, in all its unlettered glory:

Science Fiction (Star Ship Cat): This novel is pretty much a direct follow-in to Citadel, and continues to be mostly Dana’s story, with occasional appearances by Butch and some cameos by Vernon Tyler. Dana’s story is pretty much an enactment of the proverbial Chinese curse “May you come to the attention of those in high places.” Her heroism at the end of the last book has made the Powers That Be decide that she’s leadership material — and send her to the new station, to command a squadron from the various Latin American countries.

Culture (Between Wasteland & Sky): But it wasn’t always this way, which is why all of these retro aesthetics have become so popular and won’t be leaving anytime soon. When you can look at a picture of a 1950s diner, old art deco pulp art, or an ancient Cathedral, and marvel at the effort gone into it, then turn around and see the same cracked streets and monstrous brutalist buildings that have been around since before the twin towers fell . . . well, you know something is very, very wrong.

RPG (Goodman Games): Coming soon to Kickstarter! Crypt of the Devil Lich is the most vicious dungeon crawl since Tomb of Horrors. Created in homage to this classic with the goal of providing an even greater challenge, Crypt of the Devil Lich became an instant legend when it was first run as a tournament dungeon crawl. More than 15 years after its original Gen Con debut, we’re pleased to announce that it will finally see print again!

Weird Tales (M. Porcius): I wonder how I might make more money?” but rather stuff like “I wonder if I have read a story from every issue of Weird Tales published in the 1930s?”  The first step to answering this question was to look at the table of contents of the January 1930 Weird Tales, an investigation which revealed that I had read not a single story from the issue.

Writers (Climate RWC): Edgar Hoffman Price, who died in Redwood City in 1988, sold more than 500 stories to the pulps. His byline appeared in a broad range of widely popular fiction with a strong appeal to male readers, including Argosy, Black Mask, Dime Detective, Terror Tales, Speed Detective and Spicy Mystery Stories. He was, however, most readily identified as a writer for Weird Tales. Price’s stories even appeared in translation in Scandinavia and were pirated in Latin America. His work is still available for sale on the Internet, including mega packs of 14 stories.

Myth (Men of the West): Once upon a time there was a princess in Trœzene, Aithra, the daughter of Pittheus the king.  She had one fair son, named Theseus, the bravest lad in all the land; and Aithra never smiled but when she looked at him, for her husband had forgotten her, and lived far away.  And she used to go up to the mountain above Troezene, to the temple of Poseidon and sit there all day looking out across the bay, over Methana, to the purple peaks of Ægina and the Attic shore beyond.

Writers (DMR Books): Gordon Donald Shirreffs was born in Chicago in January of 1914. Some of the info I’ve found online seems to imply that he might’ve been conceived in Scotland and then born here in the US of A. His parents, George and Rose, were both definitely recent emigres from Scotland the Brave.

New (Dark Worlds Quarterly): Later this Spring, we will be releasing this book for all those fans of Sword & Sorcery…With novellas by David Hardy, Michael Ehart, Jack Mackenzie and G. W. Thomas. As with the first volume, all the stories are longer tales of swordsmen and women, cunning sorcerers, evil monsters and exciting battles in the tradition of Lin Carter’s Flashing Swords.

Science Fiction (Paperback Warrior): In Damnation Alley, the Earth as we know it no longer exists. Decades before, a nuclear war decimated the planet and what’s remains is a mere shell of what life originally resembled. In the skies, hurricane-strength winds prevent any form of air travel. The atmosphere is a swirling belt of dust and garbage set into eternal propulsion by the howling winds. The radiation has mutated animals and insects and what remains of America is a fractured ruling class divided into regions.

Collecting (Black Gate): Based on my experience, I think that non-collectors often view us collectors as somewhat crazy. They just don’t approach things the way we do, particularly when it comes to whatever particular obsession drives us. They don’t understand why we collect, and they don’t understand what we do to collect, and they don’t understand that the desire to collect can often override what most folks would consider to be common sense. Case in point: Many of my non-collector friends are often horrified when I relate to them the tale of our most unusual pulp collecting adventure.

Fiction (Mystery File): My favorite of Hammett’s works, and a classic example of the “one-damn-thing-after-another” school of hard-boiled fiction.  The plot exists merely as a blank canvas to paint vivid scenes and characters upon, but here it is, for what it’s worth. Hammett’s nameless Op is summoned to the city of Personville (called Poisonville by the locals) at the behest of Donald Wilsson, son of the local tyrant, Elihu Wilssson, and editor of the daily paper.

Culture (Art of Manliness): We often use the words “nice” and “kind” synonymously. But it can be helpful to distinguish between the two qualities, as Eric Kapitulik, Marine special operator and leadership coach, does. Being nice means making people feel good in the short-term. Behaving politely. Offering a smile and a pat on the back. Exchanging pleasantries. Avoiding arguments. Being kind, on the other hand, means doing what’s best for someone in the long-term, even when it might not make them feel great in the moment.

Gygax (Grognardia): Last week, I shared a section from Gary Gygax’s letter to Alarums & Excursions from July 1975, in which he shared his thoughts about the development of the Dungeons & Dragons rules, both before and after publication. In it, Gygax expressed his “refusal to play god” for other referees when it came to rules interpretations, a theme to which he returns later in the same letter:

Beer (The Silver Key): I expend a lot of digital ink on The Silver Key writing about how my eyes were opened to a new kind of fantasy when I discovered Robert E. Howard, and the great passion and respect I possess for the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. But I have a couple of additional passions as well. One of them happens to be beer. And I can say without reservation that my life changed in 2014 when I drank my first can of Heady Topper.

2 Comments
  • deuce says:

    Now THAT is a manly Sensor Sweep!

  • John E. Boyle says:

    You said it, Deuce.

    REH, fast cars, Frank Frazetta, Theseus, Dashiell Hammett and beer.

    There’s even a Margaret Brundage cover in there. What more could a guy ask for?

  • Leave a Reply to deuce Cancel reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *