Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Mighty Thor Omnibus Vol II

  

 It's no secret that Jack Kirby is my absolute favorite comic book artist. I've certainly gone on enough about him here at the blog. Over the last couple of weekends though I've been reminded yet again of what an amazing talent Kirby really was. I spent my Christmas money this year on two Marvel Omnibuses, a Captain America and a Mighty Thor. It's the Thor omnibus that I've been slowly perusing and let me tell you, this 768 page monster of a book has so much Kirby magic that it's almost overwhelming.
   This is the point in Thor where Kirby was hitting his stride on the title. Here he manages to mix his love of Norse Mythology (A theme that had been popping up in his stories since the 1930s) with his equally strong love of Science Fiction. Such mind boggling concepts as The Colonizers, Ego the Living Planet, and The High Evolutionary push The Mighty Thor out of the realm of just another super hero book and into the true epic.
   Meanwhile, The Tales of Asgard feature in the back of the comic went from just retelling Norse myths to amazing new tales of wonder and heroism set in the lands of the Norse Gods. Kirby drew quests and gigantic battles between armed men like no one had ever done it before. I always tell people that if you want a good idea of how Kirby might have handled a sword & sorcery title, then look no further than Tales of Asgard.
   The artwork in all these stories is truly amazing. So much power and impact from the Kirby pencils. Most of the stories are inked by Vince Colletta. I'm not as rabid a hater of Colletta as some Kirby fans, though I do fault him for often erasing parts of Jack's pencils to speed things up. If there's any title on which Colletta's somewhat scritchy inkline worked, it was on Thor, particularly in the Asgard scenes, as Colletta's style worked best on more naturalistic settings. In a perfect world, Joe Sinnott, who inked Kirby on the majority of his Fantastic Four run could have inked Thor as well, but that's not how things turned out.
   About the Omnibus itself, I'll say that the colors and printing are terrific, and the paper of high quality. The spine has been designed so that the giant tome lies flat, which allows you to sit on the couch and marvel at the Kirby madness. Like I said, it's so much awesome Kirby art that sometimes I had to put the book aside so as not to go into Kirby overload. Anyway, in case you can't guess, I really like the Marvel Mighty Thor Omnibus. If you're a Jack Kirby fan you need it in your collection.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Happy Birthday Two-Gun Bob!

  I'm working on a review of Robert E. Howard's story 'The Fire of Asshurbanipal", but since today is Howard's birthday, let me go ahead and wish him a happy one. Thanks Bob, for all the stories and all the years of fun and wonder.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Hidden Lives of Books

I have a lot of books and not enough room to display them, so I usually shelve paperbacks behind the hardbacks. Here's an example. Behind those nifty comics collections are hidden equally nifty sword & sorcery paperbacks.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Phantom Coach

   I had a story idea the other night as I was drifting off to sleep (I often get ideas at that time) about a ghostly or demonic carriage. That reminded me of the Death Coach from the old Disney movie Darby O'Gill and the Little People. I remembered being absolutely terrified by that coach when I was a kid. So I tracked down a clip of it on youtube and found that it really was just a bad 1960s special effect and not at all scary. That's the power of childhood imagination though.
   Anyway, while Googling Ghost Coach and related words I came across mention of a story called The Phantom Coach by Amelia B. Edwards. I recognized Edwards' name from some of my Victorian ghost story anthologies, and recalled that I had enjoyed her spooky tales. A quick check of Amazon showed a kindle edition of a collection of Edwards' ghost stories from the ever useful Ash Tree Press. The title of the collection was, you guessed it, THE PHANTOM COACH. Obviously it was meant to be mine.
   Downloaded the book and read the titular story and it was indeed a creeper. Like many Victorian stories it starts off slow as Edwards' first person narrator tells of an ill fated hunting trip where he became lost in a sudden snow storm. He wanders around until he finds an isolated cabin, the owner of which tells him how to get to a crossroads where he can catch the mail coach and get a ride back to the inn where his wife is staying. The cabin owner's servant also tells the narrator a tale of a tragic carriage accident from nine years before. The man never quite reaches the crossroads and though he does come across a carriage, it's not the one he was looking for. Heh heh heh, as EC's The Old Witch used to say.
   Edwards may have been a Victorian lady but she pulls no punches with the gruesome goings on. This story would have made a great episode of The Twilight Zone, I think. A very cool tale. And best of all, it's only one of many in the collection. Ash Tree Press continues to be one of the best publishers of old collections of horror and most of their book are available as ebooks now, so there's no reason not to own lots of them. Go here to check them out.

http://www.ash-tree.bc.ca/ashtreecurrent.html

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Letters from Lovecraft

My copy of Selected Letters of H.P. Lovecraft Vol II arrived today so now my set is complete. Volumes 3,4 and 5 were purchased from Arkham House back in the day, but I had to hunt down volumes one and two. Both are first editions. The dust jacket to volume one is damaged but the book is perfect and I only paid eight bucks for a book that often goes for $150-$200, so the heck with the dust jacket.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Action!

  My buddy James A. Moore talks about writing action scenes this week at Word Whores, with a little help from Wade Griffin and Carl price.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Happy Birthday Russ Manning!

   Today is Russ Manning's birthday. Russ is one of those almost legendary comic book artists, known for his work on Magnus:Robot Fighter and Brothers of the Spear and as the original artist on the Star Wars Newspaper comic strip. However to me he is first and foremost my favorite Tarzan comics artist.
   Manning took over the Dell/Gold Key Tarzan comic book after long time artist Jesse Marsh had left the feature, drawing adaptations of Edgar Rice Burroughs novels such as Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar, Tarzan the Terrible, and Tarzan and the Golden Lion. he also drew the first dozen or so issues of Korak: Son of Tarzan.
   He later left comic books to draw the Tarzan newspaper strip for an amazing run, and later he drew several one shot Tarzan graphic novels and worked on the British Tarzan weekly comics for the UK.
   When I was just a kid, my mom collected the Gold Key issues that Manning illustrated. They reside today in my collection. Manning's art was quite possibly the first comic book art I ever saw. I remember looking through my mom's comics long before I could even read.
   If Manning's work was the first I saw, I couldn't have asked for a better introduction to comic book art. Manning's comics were classically beautiful in the way that Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon strips were. His heroes were handsome and stalwart, particularly Tarzan, who Manning rendered as a Greek god, not a musclebound brute, just as Burroughs had described the character. Manning's women were gorgeous and his villains suitably sinister. He was highly skilled at drawing the apes, lions, elephants, and other animals that inhabited Tarzan's world. And he could sure draw a mean dinosaur when called upon too.
   All of this was rendered in a slick, professional style and an amazing control of pen & brush inking. Manning's work was clean, energetic, and stylish.
   Anyway, it's Manning's Tarzan that I still see in my mind whenever I think of the character. Happy Birthday, Russ. You're one of the artists who made my childhood wonderful and I still love your stuff all these years later.

Barbaric Steed!

   When I entered Lord of the Rings Online the other day, my friend Brie (who plays Briefer the hobbit, who you see in most of my screenshots) said to me "Kharrn, there's a new horse you're going to want. He's really barbaric looking. Conan would so ride this horse."
   So I went and had a look and I did indeed like the horse. So I purchased one. I have named him Warlock.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

The Complete Selected Letters of H.P. Lovecraft

Well I finally found a very good copy of the Arkham House THE SELECTED LETTERS OF H.P. LOVECRAFT VOL.II for a good price. That's on the way now. That completes my set. The first two volumes had become so expensive in the collectors market that I usually wasn't willing to pay what people wanted. Someone put one up on Amazon and I already had a bunch of Amazon Gift Cards, so that made things even better.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Happy Birthday J.R.R. Tolkien!

   Today is the birthday of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings, a book that I have read many times and one that is beloved by millions. Without Tolkien, the world of fantasy literature would be a much poorer, and probably smaller, place. Massively influential, Tolkien still stands at the top of the heap all these years later.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

My Top Five Books of 2013



My Top Five Books of 2013
(That's when I read them, not necessarily when they were published.)

I am Providence by S.T. Joshi
Westlake Soul by Rio Youers
Draculas by Blake Crouch, F Paul Wilson, Jack Kilborn, and Jeff Strand
The Voice of the Mountain by Manly Wade Wellman
Joyland by Stephen King