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.
Today, December 13, 2015 is the 220th anniversary of the Wold Newton event. On December 13, 1795, a meteorite struck outside the hamlet of Wold Newton in Yorkshire, England. According to Philip José Farmer, when the meteorite crashed into the countryside, two carriages were passing by. The drivers and passengers, who were already of heroic stock, were exposed to the ionization of the meteorite and were further enhanced by it.
These passengers include Sir Percy Blakeny, the Scarlet Pimpernel as well as Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy. Ancestors of Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, Doc Savage, the Avenger, the Shadow, the Spider, and others were present as well. The passengers included several married couples, with some of the women already being pregnant at the time. Their children would later marry each other, thus the enriched genes would not become recessive. Due to the families becoming interconnected, they are referred to as one family, the Wold Newton Family.
Today also marks the day of the launch of WOLDNEWTONFAMILY.COM. A website devoted to the canonical Wold Newton Family works by Philip José Farmer and authorized continuations. Be sure to take some time and give it a peek on Wold Newton Day, it has several articles, and is a great introduction and resource to Philip José Farmer’s Wold Newton Family.
In this week’s episode, I look at a seminal Wold Newton tale, “The Adventure of the Peerless Peer” by Philip José Farmer himself. This story features Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Watson, and Tarzan, with several cameos by other pulp heroes.
Pulp Crazy: Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview, Douglas. Your name is a familiar one to pulp fans, and it’s an honor to interview you on Pulp Crazy. As someone who owns a number of the Moonstone anthologies your covers adorn, I love your illustrations of pulp characters. How did you first get interested in the pulps?
Douglas Klauba: Thank you so much! I started getting into pulp art at an early age, early teens while collecting comic books, monster magazines, and paperbacks. And because I was a Steranko fan, I collected his Shadow and other paperbacks that he did covers for, like Weird Heroes. Eventually, Steranko’s Chandler was released and it made a huge impression upon me as a young artist. I was then picking up the comic book versions of The Shadow, The Avenger, Doc Savage, Conan, and John Carter of Mars. It all started to click with me that these new interpretations came from an original source, aside from old time radio… and I ended up becoming a bigger fan of pulp heroes over comic book heroes.
Pulp Crazy: Who are some of your favorite pulp artists? Do any particular pulp covers stand out in your mind?
Douglas Klauba: J. Allen St. John, Rudolph Belarski, Walter Baumhofer, Norm Saunders, Virgil Finlay, Edward Cartier, George Rozen, Rafael DeSoto, and Hubert Rogers. I don’t think I could pick a favorite cover… way too hard: maybe a Rozen cover of The Shadow or a Doc Savage. I do love many Astounding covers by Hubert Rogers.
Pulp Crazy: Has classic pulp art influenced your style? If yes, how so?
Douglas Klauba: Very much so. From figurative, colors, lighting, and composition. I also enjoy working in a black and white pulp influenced style.
Pulp Crazy: What is your favorite genre to draw? Do you find yourself more at home with the hero pulps, science fiction, fantasy, crime, or some other genre within the greater realm of the pulps?
Douglas Klauba: I really do love all that you’ve mentioned. I’ve been fortunate to have been hired by Moonstone for many of their pulp hero books. I like developing paintings with science fiction woman with plenty of retro ray guns and space ships. I’m also a huge fan of the hard boiled private eyes and detectives. I plan on continuing a personal series of paintings in that genre.
Pulp Crazy: What pulp character do you enjoy drawing the most? Is this your favorite pulp character?
Douglas Klauba: While I’m a huge fan of The Shadow, and Doc Savage, as well as The Spider – I really like illustrating crime / detective images. I think I enjoy all the characters equally. I’ve never illustrated The Shadow in color but hope to in the next couple of weeks, after I finish my current painting I’m working on of John Carter, Dejah Thoris, and Tars Tarkas.
Pulp Crazy: Do you have a particular pulp series or character you enjoy reading?
Douglas Klauba: I really enjoy the John Carter books. Some days I like to read The Shadow, while other days I’m in the mood for The Spider.
Pulp Crazy: Outside of pulp characters, what other types of illustrations do you like to create?
Douglas Klauba: Anything to do with movies! I recently completed a commemorative poster for the Clive Barker film, Lord of Illusions. I’m also working on an original pulp inspired adventure graphic novel, that I hope to finish one day….
Douglas Klauba: I really owe it all to my friend, Bob Garcia. We were discussing projects one day, probably at the Windy City Pulp and Paperback Show, and he really got the ball rolling. I wanted to put some of these pulp themed images in a collection of some sort. Bob ended up presenting a calendar design that blew me away, and then he redesigned it – and it blew me away even more. He also helped me decide on which images.
Bob and I have worked on many book covers and poster projects together. I love his art direction, I trust his judgement, and we work really well together. After his successful, and beautiful The Collectors Book Of Virgil Finlay on Kickstarter, he thought that I could publish this with his guidance. I’ve been pleasantly surprised finding out that there are art fans, and pulp art fans that want to hang my work up every month. So, here we are days away of knowing if the Adventure Calendar will be fully funded or not.
Pulp Crazy: Do you have any other pulp related projects in the works that you can talk about?
Douglas Klauba: Well, as I mentioned, I’m working on a black and white pulp inspired graphic novel. I have a few commissions lined up that need to be taken care of. There are a couple of other projects that are too early to discuss, but I’d be thrilled to announce once they begin.
Pulp Crazy: Thanks again for agreeing to the interview, Douglas. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the 2016 calendar and future pulp related books featuring your artwork.
Douglas Klauba: Thank you, Jason! I can’t wait to get it into your hands and onto your wall as well!
This is a special bonus episode in celebration of Wold Newton Day, December 13th. In celebration of Wold Newton Day 2014, I’ll be discussing The Shadow: Midnight in Moscow written and illustrated by Howard Chaykin from Dynamite Entertainment. This comic book mini series is notable as being the first overt reference to Philip Jose Farmer’s Wold Newton Family concept in comic book format. The series also marks Howard Chaykin’s return to the Shadow since his landmark 1986 mini series at DC which revitalized the character.
Midnight in Moscow begins on January 31, 1949 and the rest of the story takes place in the early days of 1950, where as Chaykin’s 1986 mini series took place in contemporary times. Midnight in Moscow can be placed in the Wold Newton Universe. Midnight in Moscow is a prelude to the 1986 series, so by extension the 1986 series can also be thought of as being in the Wold Newton Universe as well if one wishes.
This weeks episode is a first for Pulp Crazy, as I’m reviewing a work of non-fiction. The title of the book is The Way They Were: The Histories of Some of Adventure Fiction’s Most Famous Heroes and Villains. It is written by researcher and fiction writer Jeff Deischer and published by Westerntainment Books. It is available to purchase on Amazon in paperback and eBook format.
The Way They Were covers a broad range of topics that will be of interest to pulp fans. Among this collection of essays are chronologies and deductions pertaining to Classic Literature and Pulp Magazine characters including: Doc Savage, the Avenger, Tarzan, Captain Nemo, Robur the Conqueror, James Bond, Count Dracula, Frankenstein and more.
In this weeks episode I will be discussing Doc Ardan: City of Gold and Lepers written by Guy d’Armen and adapted and retold by Jean-Marc & Randy Lofficier. The book is published by the Lofficier’s Black Coat Press and is available in paperback, nook and kindle formats. The cover is illustrated by Dean Zachary.
Doc Ardan’s full name is Doctor Francis Ardan, he is a french pulp hero created by Guy d’Armen (likely a pen name according to the Lofficier’s) and first appeared in 1928. The City of Gold and Lepers was his first appearance. It was published in the french magazine Science et Voyages from the May 1928 through November 1928 issue.
Doc Ardan first appearance in 1928 pre-dates Doc Savage’s first appearance in 1933, so he wasn’t originally a character who physically resembled Doc Savage, as he does on the covers of the Black Coat Press books. The original artwork shown on the Black Coat Press site kind of depicts him as a traditional explorer. It appears the Lofficier’s leave the possibility open for Doc Ardan to be a young Doc Savage operating under an alias. According to the introduction, Ardan or Ardent (the t being silent in french) means fierce, fiery, wild or savage, which would be a fitting alias. The Lofficier’s also speculate in the forward that Ardan may be related to Michael Ardan from the story From the Earth to the Moon and Gale Arden from the Flash Gordon series.