The challenge/New Year’s resolution for 2018 is to read 365 short stories. I’m basically piggybacking on the goal of Trent A. Reynolds, who is a fellow member of this FaceBook Group dedicated to classic paperbacks. Something about this goal spoke to me, it’s lofty, yet realistic. The plan is to do episodes on some of these yarns as well, which will help fulfill anothere New Year’s resolution of mine, more Pulp Crazy episodes. Thanks for the idea, Trent.
Author Michael Hatt gives a presentation on ERB’s association with Coldwater, Michigan, and the research he’s done on his book “Tarzan Slept Here: Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Coldwater Connection”at the 2016 Dum-Dum in Morris, IL, hosted by the Burroughs Bibliophiles.
As an aside, it turns out the 2017 Dum-Dum is planned to be held in Coldwater, Michigan.
The Valley of the Death Goddess is possibly a reference to Issus, whom the Therns worship.
Xanesha mentions an alliance of Empress Camilla’s has barred simians of all kinds from the Shareen Arena. According to Mona, Issue #2 will introduce us to the other side of the alliance, Gorilla King, Ruthazek from Pathfinder’s own world of Golarion.
Pha appeared in the original Thun’da comics by Frank Frazetta and Gardener Fox.
“I’ve killed three minotaurs, an ogre, a woman made…I think she was part metal.”
I’m not sure who the woman made of metal could be, but it sounds like a reference.
The man who ruled by Pha’s side is none other than Thun’da.
This looks to be a collection of spectators from multiple fictional worlds. The golden robot looks some-what familiar, but I can’t place him. According to Mona, the shouting guys with helmets are meant to be Red Martians from Barsoom, but there was a coloring mistake.
I’m not sure if her scepter is a reference to anything, or if it’s an original item for this series.
Enter Red Sonja, the She-Devil with a Sword, based on the heroine first created by Robert E. Howard, Red Sonya of Rogatino in the historical adventure “The Shadow of the Vulture” in the January 1934 issue of Magic Carpet Magazine, adapted into a Hyborian Age comic book character by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith in Conan the Barbarian #23 in February 1973.
For more information on the pulp sword-and-sorcery origins of Red Sonja, check out one of my past episodes:
Christopher Paul Carey (co-author of THE SONG OF KWASIN with Philip José Farmer) discusses Farmer’s Ancient Opar Series at the 2016 Dum-Dum in Morris, IL, hosted by the Burroughs Bibliophiles.
A note from Christopher Paul Carey: I would like to correct two minor errors I made in my Dum-Dum talk. One, the Ancient Opar series is set 12,000 years ago (not 10,000 years ago). Two, Frank Brueckel’s last name is properly pronounced “Breckel” (not “Broy-kel”). I can only blame stage fright and lack of sleep for these mistakes, as I was well aware at the time of both facts.
“The Road” by Hiroshi Aramata is a short story that appears in Straight to Darkness: Lairs of the Hidden Gods Volume 3 published by Kurodahan Press, an anthology of Cthulhu Mythos Tales from Japan edited by Asamatsu Ken. The Road was translated from Japanese to English by Kathleen Taji.
This story caught my eye for two reasons:
Mainly, I’ve become intrigued with Hiroshi Aramata’s series of Japanese occult novels based around the history of Tokyo titled, Teito Monogatari, but sadly I’ve been unable to read them, as aside from a few short fan translations, they’ve yet to be translated from Japanese into English. However, the novels have been adapted into two films Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis and Tokyo: The Last War, an original animated video series titled Doomed Megalopolis, and a manga series keeping the original Teito Monogatari name. So I’ve been able to experience a bit of the series via fan-translations of the adaptations. I found the first film, Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis to be an enjoyable watch, despite the filmmaker’s obviously needing to cram a lot of material into a single film. Some of you may be familiar with the series due to the iconic appearance of the series’ antagonist Yasunori Kato, who was an influence on the Street Fighter character, M. Bison (or Vega as he’s called in Japan), as well as several other fictional characters over the years.
It also turns out “The Road” is set primary in Providence, RI and focuses on the life of H. P. Lovecraft.
The story takes place from September 10th to September 11th 2001 and begins with a train ride from New York City to Boston, Massachusetts. The main character is an unnamed Japanese professional, possibly a scientist or educator, who is a huge fan of H. P. Lovecraft. Browsing the story a second time, the character’s sex could be either male or female. Either way, the main character can’t resist getting off the train to walk the platform during the train’s three-minute stop in Providence, RI.
As fate would have it, the train pulls away before the narrator can climb back on board. In the ensuing hours, the narrator finds themselves being given a personal tour of Providence by Lovecraft’s friend, C. M. Eddy, who died back in 1967. Needless to say, time-travel via metaphysics seems to play a part in this story. Evidently, a concept or mechanism the people of Providence refer to as “The Road” will be opening soon. The last time “The Road” opened was back in 1923 as a result of the Great Kanto Earthquake that rocked Japan. As an aside, the Great Kanto Earthquake plays a part in Aramata’s Teito Monogatari series as well, with Yasunori Kato, causing the devastating earthquake through the use of magic.
Overall I thought “The Road” was a solid story written in tribute to H. P. Lovecraft. The metaphysical concept of “The Road,” or “the shadow of time” as they sometimes call it in Providence, is kind of interesting, but I enjoyed the tour of Providence by C. M. Eddy more, myself. I know from my limited reading on Lovecraft’s life that portions of what Eddy tells the narrator aren’t accurate (Robert Price points some of these out in his introduction, which I recommend reading AFTER you read the story and not before, due to a few minor spoilers) but they didn’t detract from the story. As a matter of fact, the scenes with Eddy kind of brought my mind to Paul Malmont’s two pulp era novels featuring pulp fiction writers: The China Town Death Cloud Peril (which Lovecraft appeared in, and the main characters attended his funeral) and The Amazing, the Astounding, and the Unknown, both of which I enjoyed.
I didn’t much care for the climax of the tale, it felt a bit too generic, but I thought the actual ending was handled rather nicely.
If you’re a fan of the Cthulhu Mythos, I don’t think you’ll find much meat on the bone in this one. But if you’re a fan or scholar of Lovecraft the man, this will probably be more up your alley, but like I said, don’t expect 100% factual accuracy here.
I basically picked this up because I wanted to actually read a story written by Hiroshi Aramata and it just so happened the only story he has out there that’s been translated into English is a short story about H. P. Lovecraft and Providence. Given these circumstances, I’m glad I took the time to read “The Road” and am eternally crossing my fingers for his Teito Monogatari series to be translated into English.
If you’re interested in video games, I’m willing to bet you’re familiar with mods and the mod community. Mods are fan-made modifications to games already in existence. I was recently made aware of a mod for a World War II Super Hero video game that swaps out the pre-existing super hero characters and their missions with a wide variety of pulp heroes and pulp-styled missions.
The video game in question is Freedom Force vs. the 3rd Reich, which was originally created by Irrational Games back in 2005 for the PC. It’s now available to download via the Steam store. This is a real-time tactical role-playing game where you control a group of heroes who time travel back in time to World War II and fight the Nazis.
I’m somewhat familiar with this franchise as the artwork always caught my attention due to its strong Jack Kirby influence, but I can’t say I’ve ever investigated it too deeply. Given the premise, it seems to be an ideal base product to insert some pulpy goodness.
With the Pulp Adventures Mod by Benton Grey, rather than the stock heroes, players control the likes of Doc Savage, The Shadow, Indiana Jones, The Green Hornet, Kato, the Rocketeer, The Spider, The Spirit, The Lone Ranger, Tonto, Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian, The Phantom, Captain Midnight, Miss Fury, Dick Tracy, Jungle Jim, Kolu, Monk Mayfair, Ham Brooks, and Renny Renwick on a unique campaign of 17 world-spanning missions. Also, according to the website, “the story features several classic pulp villains and a twisting, turning plot that ties into the settings and adventures of many of the starring characters.”
In addition to the huge cast available in the campaign mode mentioned above, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and John Carter of Mars are playable in the sandbox mode at the moment.
Night’s Dominion wasn’t on my radar until a post by a fellow member of the Comic Book Art of Conan the Barbarian Facebook group posted an interview with the creator, Ted Naifeh. The elevator pitch seemed to be superheroes operating in a fantasy world. I thought the concept sounded fairly interesting and the artwork showcased in the interview really sold me on giving it a try. I made sure to add the book to my pull list at my local comic shop. The release of the first issue kind of snuck up on me, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it came out this week.
As far as first issues go, this one was pretty solid. We’re introduced to the cast of characters as well as the setting, the medieval-styled city of Umber. I get the impression Umber is a sister city of Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar and Sanctuary, the primary setting of the Thieves’ World shared universe series.
The first issue does a good job of blending both the fantasy genre and super hero genre (or, at least so far, the urban vigilante sub-genre) together. It introduces us to the main characters via the “adventuring party meets at a tavern or inn” mechanism sometimes used in fantasy role-playing games. While not the most original way to do it, it’s definitely the most convenient way to bring a large, diverse group of characters together quickly.
Members of the party include its leader, a white-haired bard referred to as Maestro, an unnamed “magus” whose specialty is implied to be illusions and parlor tricks, a unnamed young cleric, who is an acolyte of something referred to as the Old Faith, an unnamed assassin from an organization known as the House of the Asps, and the barmaid, Emerane, who is secretly the best thief in the city, moonlighting under the alter ego of the Night.
The Maestro’s plan is for the group to rob the Tower of Uhlume, a temple where the titular King of Oblivion is worshiped. They plan to get to the treasure stores in the tower’s subbasement via a concealed shaft.
Emerane declines the job stating she doesn’t work with amateurs. She leaves the tavern after a brawl erupts, but her and the assassin have a brief martial encounter on her way home and a conversation. But Emerane departs soundlessly, leaving the assassin alone.
Later in the guise of the Night, Emerane returns a necklace to her stash of stolen loot in the belfry of a chapel and encounters the Fury. He’s the armored Batman-looking figure seen in the preview artwork. They have a brief tussle and conversation before Emerane eludes him. I get a definite Batman and Catwoman vibe from these two. It’s not clear if the Fury is a vigilante or works in some capacity with the government or city watch, but I look forward to learning more about him in future issues.
The next scene shows the cleric returning to his chapel, this is the same one which the Night used as a stash for her loot. City guards are confiscating the hoard as the head priest is crying on the steps. It was mentioned earlier that the Old Faith was hard up for money and it was goons looking to collect from the young cleric that were the catalysts of the tavern brawl.
The final scene shows Emerane, as the Night, meeting the group of adventurers at the arranged meeting spot and agreeing to join in the heist.
This was my first time reading a comic created by Ted Naifeh, but I have to admit, I like what I see. I enjoy the way he renders his characters and his panel to panel storytelling skills shown he’s been illustrating sequential art for some time. The artwork and storytelling get high marks from me.
From a writing perspective, I enjoyed how there wasn’t a lot of info dumping, Naifeh does a good job of layering information subtlety through the course of the story. Such as facts about the politics of Umber, including its royal family. There’s plenty yet to be revealed about the city of Umber and the main cast of characters, though.
This first issue has me intrigued, and I’m on board for at least the first six issues. I wish there were more fantasy comics like this on the stands and I want to do my part in supporting quality comics like this when they do pop up.