Friday, May 30, 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Legendary Comic Book Artist Neal Adams is in Atlanta for a convention this weekend and he swung by my local comic book store, Dr, No's, to do a signing last night. I showed up with a couple of copies of Savage Tales for which he had done the covers and got those signed. I also bought three high quality prints from Neal and got those signed as well.
Neal was in great form, keeping the crowd entertained telling stories of his almost five decades working in comics. The guy's seen it all. I asked a couple of questions and got very detailed answers, including Neal's version of what happened to the infamous 'Shadows in Zamboula' issue of Savage Sword of Conan that he was drawing for Marvel back in the day. Interesting stuff.
I'd heard Neal could be difficult, but I didn't see any of that last night. He seemed to really be enjoying himself and I couldn't ask for a better experience meeting one of my artist heroes.
Sunday, May 25, 2014
I don't get to pal around with the members of my Lord of the Rings Online Kinship THE WINDRIDERS OF ROHAN as much as I used to, so I was glad to spend some time questing with a group of them yesterday. I got everyone to line up so I could get a pic and send it to another member who doesn't get to play much these days. The reason you can't see my title (Kharrn the Valiant) is because I don't have my avatar selected. Anyway, we just fought a big battle mounted on our war steeds. Mounted combat is tricky, but can be a lot of fun with a group.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Last year, when I attended my first North Eastern Writer's Conference (aka Camp NECON), James A. Moore, Dan Foley, and I made an impromptu trip into Providence Rhode Island, the birthplace and home for most of his life, of H.P. Lovecraft. Going on memory, we were able to visit a few of the places where Lovecraft lived and to see a few of the locations from his stories. However, I wished then that I had come better prepared.
This year, if time allows, and I make it back to Providence, I will be prepared with Henry L.P. Beckwith Jr's nifty guide to the city, LOVECRAFT'S PROVIDENCE. This book has maps, photographs, and even walking tours that will allow the traveler to visit all the happening Lovecraftian locations. The Shunned House? In there. The Charles Dexter Ward House? Covered. Lovecraft's favorite view of the city? It's there.
This is a cool book, published by Donald M. Grant in 1979, and I've been looking for a good copy for a while. It arrived last night.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Monday, May 12, 2014
Over the years I've read a lot of Gorman's other books including a lot of his Westerns, most recently the collection A DISGRACE TO THE BADGE AND OTHERS.
This weekend though I've been back to the stuff that attracted me to Ed Gorman's work to begin with, crime and dark suspense stories, because there's a brand new collection out called SCREAM QUEEN AND OTHER TALES OF MENACE. The very first story in the book, ANGIE, was a sharp gut punch of Noir that was dark, dark, dark. I read the last page and put the book down and said, "Damn."
Here's one of the things I love about Gorman's work. It's also something that I admire and envy as a writer, and that's his ability to get real people on the page and to do it in an economical way. Give an author a whole novel to tell you about a character and most of them can do it, but to do it in a short story and do it consistently is bloody impressive. Gorman has the knack. He's not writing about characters. He's writing about people, be they private eyes, cowboys, call girls, or what have you. They seem real and they will stay with you after you've closed the book.
The titular story, SCREAM QUEEN is an excellent example of this. Yes it's a tale with some menace, but it's also a story about growing up and that often painful period between high school and reality where you lose friends and try to establish yourself as a functioning adult. This story has a couple of heartbreaking moments, and only because, for that brief span of reading, Gorman has made me believe in those people and care what happens about them. Probably didn't hurt that I found some stuff to identify with in the protagonist either.
I'm not going to review all the stories, because that would take too long and because the book is out now and I wanted to get the word out about how good it is, and because I'm not going to tear through all the tales. Or I'm going to try not to. I want to save a few for when I need a shot of something well written, dark, and memorable. Highly recommended.
Thursday, May 08, 2014
Monday, May 05, 2014
Just read one called JABBIE WELSH about a city couple who decide to leave their apartment lifestyle for a house in the country. As often happens in horror stories, they should have asked around a bit before buying the house. One morning when the woman is home an old woman comes to call and she is not only strange but, as it turns out when the man meets her a little later, hostile and possibly dangerous. And maybe not human.
This is a creepy, creepy story with a couple of good scares, wrapped up in some well crafted prose. One thing I like about it is that like most good ghost stories, it's up to the reader to decide just what really happened. How much was real and how much was the product of someone's mind. Henry James would be proud.
Anyway, lots of good stories in this collection, but this one really worked for me. I'm pretty sure it will end up on my annual Year's 13 best Horror Stories list come September.
Friday, May 02, 2014
The newest Hammer novel, KING OF THE WEEDS, was meant to follow Black Alley, the last Hammer novel written entirely by Spillane. Hammer and the rest of the cast have gotten older. Hammer is in his sixties. Police captain Pat Chambers is nearing retirement. Velda is still gorgeous of course.
Mike's age has slowed him down a bit and a would-be hit-man gets the drop on Hammer outside his office. But Hammer's luck is holding and things don't go the way the assassin planned, and the only thing worse than trying to kill Mike hammer, is trying to kill him and failing.
But who wants Hammer dead? That is the question. The mob? Am old enemy? Somebody who thinks Hammer knows where 89 Billion is cash is hidden away?
To get the answers, Mike will once again take to the streets of New York, and if he's not quite the mayhem machine he used to be, he's a long way from mellow. Weeds has a nice twisty plot and plenty of action.
One thing I really liked about this entry in the series was that Hammer's secretary Velda, who is also a licensed PI herself, plays a big part in the investigation. She and Hammer are a team and it's fun to see them banter. Hammer has a lot of faith in her too At one point, when asked if the guys who are after him might not make a run at Velda, Hammer says, "She can take care of herself." Hardly the frail secretary or girlfriend of many other PI series, always needing to be rescued. Not that anyone threatening Velda wouldn't have Hammer to deal with, of course.
Anyway, the back of the book calls this one the penultimate Mike hammer novel, which places it before The Goliath Bone in sequence, but it's not the last Hammer book from Spillane and Collins by a long shot. That's good news because as I mentioned above this is definitely a Hammer book, no matter who wrote what or how much. I'm shelving these collaborations with Spillane's solo efforts and I can't give a better compliment. Highly recommended.
PS. I read an advance copy of this book, but it becomes available on the 6th of this month.