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!
In this week’s episode I’m going to be discussing a French Gothic novel that has had considerable influence on the American Pulps and popular fiction in general. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. The story was first serialized in the French newspaper, Le Gaulois from September 23, 1909 – January 8, 1910. It was collected and published in a single volume by Pierre Lafitte in 1910.
I’ve always been casually aware of The Phantom of the Opera. Growing up, there seemed to be a commercial for the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical in steady rotation. Not only that, but the book was parodied a good bit in popular culture, including children’s television shows, which is probably where I first encountered the concept.
It didn’t consider reading this book until I listened to Rick Lai discuss it on The Book Cave and on The French Connection Pulp Fest Panel in 2012. It was obvious that the original novel was different from the musical and other adaptations. I always got the impression that The Phantom of the Opera or Erik as he’s known, was a normal guy that was scarred by acid and wore a mask to cover his face. That’s defiantly not the case in the original novel. In the novel he’s born disfigured, with a face resembling a skull covered with dried up yellow flesh, with burning yellow eyes. In the novel he’s also a former assassin and a master of stealth.
In this weeks episode I’m going to be discussing “The New York Review of Bird” by Harlan Ellison. It first appeared in Weird Heroes Volume 2, published in 1975 by Pyramid Books and produced by Byron Preiss Visual Publications Inc. “The New York Review of Bird” is currently in print in the Harlan Ellison collection titled, Strange Wine. Strange Wine is available in both print and eBook. See below for links.
I read The New York Review of Bird in Weird Heroes Volume 2. I purchased my copy at PulpFest last summer and was immediately intrigued by this story after seeing the Neal Adams interior artwork and the connections to Philip Jose Farmer’s Wold Newton Family. I went ahead and purchased the digital edition of Strange Wine, so I could compare it to the Weird Heroes version.
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.
In this weeks episode I will be discussing The Shadow Over Innsmouth, it’s a crossover comic that puts The Shadow and Margo Lane in Innsmouth, from the story The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft. The cleverly titled one-shot issue came out this week and is written by Ron Marz and illustrated by Ivan Rodriguez.
This is going to be a somewhat negative review, as far as the story goes. The artwork by Ivan Rodriguez is amazing and I hope to see him on future Shadow and pulp projects from Dynamite, but the choices made in regards to the storyline didn’t do it for me. This is most likely due to my own preconceived notions about what genre the story would actually be in, but I was disappointed non-the less being more of a Lovecraft fan than a Shadow fan. I like the Shadow a great deal, but I am more fond of Lovecraft’s mythos.
In this weeks episode I will be discussing The Shadow #0 published by Dynamite Entertainment. This issue came into comic shops this week and features The Shadow training with Harry Houdini. The issue is written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Colton Worley. Marc Rueda provided the colors and Rob Steen was the letterer.
The issue takes place in two separate time periods. One portion is set in New York City in 1925 with Lamont Cranston being trained in the art of escape by Harry Houdini. Another portion takes place in Los Angeles in 1936 with The Shadow venturing into the lair of the Society of United Magicians to save Houdini’s kidnapped widow, Bess. Combining The Shadow and Houdini is a great idea. Walter Gibson, the creator of the pulp Shadow was a magician himself and ghost wrote for Houdini. Houdini himself was also a credited pulp writer. He is credited for writing the story Under the Pyramids for the 50th Anniversary issue of Weird Tales. In reality this was ghost written by H.P. Lovecraft based on an idea by Houdini.
In this weeks episode I will be discussing a short story by Philip Jose Farmer that I have recently finished reading. The story is called Savage Shadow and as you can guess from the title it fits into the body of work known as his pulp period. It was originally published in 1977 in the pages of Weird Heroes #8, a new pulp series of books put together by Byron Preiss Visual Productions and published by Pyramid/Jove/HBJ. It was later reprinted in Pearls From Peoria in 2006, a hardcover collection of Farmer’s writing edited by Paul Spiteri and published by Subterranean Press. In addition to the Savage Shadow, an article written by Farmer titled The Grant-Robeson Papers is included in both books and serves as a Foreword to Savage Shadow. Savage Shadow was to be the first in a series of stories that Farmer dubbed The Grant-Robeson Papers. To boil it down to the most basic premise, in Savage Shadow Farmer writes under the name Maxwell Grant (the Street & Smith house name Walter Gibson and others wrote under when writing the Shadow pulps). The star of Savage Shadow is an aspiring young pulp writer named Kenneth Robeson, which is the Street & Smith house name Lester Dent and other wrote under when writing the Doc Savage pulps. Be sure to watch the videocast or look at the Show Notes for a little visual aide Cheat Sheet that I made for clarification.