Blog: Commentary from the den of a pulp super-fan

Pulp Comics: ‘Astro City’

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, February 9, 2018 in Comics, Pulps
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Pulp Comics: ‘Astro City’

'Astro City: Life in the Big City'Astro City is a long-running comicbook series created by writer Kurt Busiek with cover artist Alex Ross and with most issues having Brent Anderson for interior work. This series has been published over the years by Image Comics (1995–1996), Homage Comics (1996–2004), Wildstorm (2004–10), and Vertigo Comics (2013–present).

The “universe” of Astro City has a wide range of superheroes and villains who go back to the 1800s at least. Almost all are based on archetypes or are characters done “in the style of” certain writers or artists. But these characters are different enough to be more original than just being copies or pastiches.

So for Superman, there is the Samaritan, a man sent from the future to change things for the better; for Batman, it’s The Confessor, a priest turned vampire who becomes a costumed detective to fight crime; for Wonder Woman, it’s Winged Victory, an ordinary woman empowered to become a symbol for all women. The main superhero team is the Honor Guard. Instead of the Fantastic Four, there is the First Family. And so on.

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‘King in Yellow’ and Robert W. Chambers

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, January 29, 2018 in Authors, Pulps, Weird Fiction
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

‘King in Yellow’ and Robert W. Chambers
Robert W. Chambers

Robert W. Chambers

I think more people who have read horror works that are considered “Lovecraftian” have probably heard of the King in Yellow, either the character or the play. Less well known is the person who created it — Robert W. Chambers (1865-1924) — not surprising as the bulk of his writing was not macabre. Though what he did write in that area is pretty good.

Chambers only wrote some weird or macabre stuff. While he started out as an illustrator, he moved to fiction, and wrote in a wide range of genres. The bulk of his work — and where he made his fortune — was in writing romance fiction. In his later years he wrote historical fiction. It would be like if Stephen King just dabbled in weird fiction, but mainly wrote Harlequin Romance novels. H.P. Lovecraft praised his work, but was disappointed that he didn’t continue to do weird fiction.

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‘Silver Manticore: Still at Large’

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, January 24, 2018 in New Pulp, Pastiche, Pro Se Press, Pulps, Review, Silver Manticore
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

‘Silver Manticore: Still at Large’

'Silver Manticore: Still at Large'P.J. Lozito‘s Silver Manticore is an interesting mix of pulp, radio, movie series, and comicbook characters that at times almost gets out of hand.

The Silver Manticore himself is a mix of the Green Hornet, The Shadow, and the Copperhead (the hero of the Mysterious Doctor Satan movie serial), and so creates a generational hero in which new people step into the role of the Silver Manticore. He is assisted by others who are pastiches of various pulp and comic characters, and his foes are also pastiches of various pulp villains (and later comicbook), first off being the Fu Manchu-inspired Hanoi Tsin and the Shiwan Khan-inspired Siam Khan.

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‘The Iron Skull: The Last Dominion’

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, January 17, 2018 in New Pulp, Pro Se Press, Pulps
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

‘The Iron Skull: The Last Dominion’

'The Iron Skull: The Last Dominion'An interesting short novel I picked up is Frank Schildiner‘s Iron Skull: The Last Dominion from Pro Se Productions. It makes use of, and basically re-images, the obscure Golden Age comicbook character the Iron Skull.

Now, who is the Iron Skull? He was a minor character who appeared in comic books published by Centaur Comics, a short-lived third- or fourth-rate comic book publisher. Their main claim to fame is that they published the first original masked comic character, The Clock, and they were also the publisher of Bill Everett‘s Amazing Man. All of their characters are in the public domain, and several were used as the Protectors from Malibu, and I believe someone has created prose stories with these characters.

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‘The Land of the Changing Sun’

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, January 8, 2018 in Pulps, Reprints, Science Fiction Pulps
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

‘The Land of the Changing Sun’

'The Land of the Changing Sun'A couple of subgenres of science fiction I’ve had an interest in are utopian fantasies and hollow earth stories.

The first are usually about some society that is presented as better than ours. And often set in either an inaccessible location (a lost world of some kind) or in the future or some alternate reality. Some use it to push a certain political belief, many times some form of socialism. Others push a more refined spiritual society. Or a combination of both. There were many such works in the 1800s, less so in the 1900s and more recently.

Hollow earth stories are a specific subgenre of lost world fantasies, set either in the center of a supposedly hollow earth (usually with a central sun), or in an enormous cavern located below the surface. Examples of these works are Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ Pellucidar series or Jules Verne‘s Journey to the Center of the Earth. These stories can be the setting for wild adventures in a world with prehistoric creatures, like in the Pellucidar series, or allow the author to showcase an unknown, but “advanced” civilization.

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‘Awesome Tales’ #6

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, January 3, 2018 in Detective Pulps, Domino Lady, Fanzines, New Pulp, Occult Detective
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

‘Awesome Tales’ #6

'Awesome Tales' #6Awesome Tales #6 (Fall 2017) is now out from Bold Venture Press and Black Cat Media.

This issue’s theme is crime, and the cover feature this issue is the Domino Lady, the classic, sexy pulp heroine. Rich Harvey provides the first of a new series of Domino Lady stories, with her moving to New York and going up against a sinister blackmail ring. If you want to read the classic stories, Bold Venture Press has a collection of them, with a great cover by Jim Steranko.

KT Pinto is back with another story of her supernatural detective Raphael Jones, “The Platinum Membership.” For previous stories, you’ll have to check Awesome Tales #3 and 4. This time, Jones is in Nazi Germany and has to team up with the Gestapo to stop a threat.

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