Monday, August 31, 2015

Conan Meets Hellboy



   Been a while since I added any new art to my eclectic Conan team-up collection. This new one, by Red Sonja artist Walter Geovani, isn’t a commission like the others, but instead was something I spotted on Ebay and decided to bid on. And I won. I would like to get a commission from Geovani at some point.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Few Words About J.A. Konrath

As I mentioned in my post about VIRGIN ZOMBIE, my foray into the J.A. Konrath's JACK DANIELS AND ASSOCIATES Kindle World, my initial exposure to the work of author J.A Konrath was as a fan. Nowadays he is an example and inspiration when I'm working on self publishing, but originally I just liked his Jack Daniels mystery/thrillers. I was rereading one of them last night, WHISKEY SOUR, and something occurred to me.
These days when I hear people talk about Konrath, it's mostly about his business savvy or his position as a guru for Ebook self publishing, or his stance against the anti-Amazon crowd, and such. People talk about his sales numbers, which he shares on his blog. They talk about how he's making a killing.
What they don't talk about is perhaps one of the most important aspects of Konrath's novels. That they're good books. They're fun to read. They're well written. They have snappy dialog, great plots and relentless narrative drive. We're not talking about widgets here, but books. Last night, as I was reading a funny scene between police Lieutenant Jack Daniels and sleazy PI, Harry McGlade, I was literally laughing out loud. Three pages later something truly horrible happened to a supporting character. Konrath is the king of the roller coaster ride of a book.
I was talking to someone about what some of my favorite reads for the last couple of years were and several of them were by Konrath, both on his own, and with some of his collaborators. The Jack Daniels books of course, but also SUCKERS, written with Jeff Strand, a book that made me laugh so much I almost hurt myself. And then there's FIX, written with Ann Voss Peterson and F. Paul Wilson, which I reviewed here at the blog, and which is just about my favorite read this year. And DRACULAS, written with Jeff Strand, F. Paul Wilson, and Blake Crouch, which is one of my absolute favorite vampire novels. I reviewed that one here too.
I guess my point, in saying nice things about J.A. Konrath's work, is that people seem to want to give all kinds of reasons as to why the man is a success. That he caught the Ebook wave when it was starting. That he had an 'in' to the publishing world. That (and this he has refuted many times) he is only popular because he had success as a traditionally published author before he turned to self publishing. What they don't seem to want to admit is that the man can write. That he tells a good story. That his books are hard to put down. Easier to make excuses as to why he's outselling you I guess, than to just say, hey the guy can write a mean thriller.
So go buy some of his books and see what I'm talking about. 

His website is here:  

 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Where We Live and Die by Brian Keene

   I have long been fascinated by Meta-Fiction, that place where fiction meets reality, and the things that occur there. In WHERE WE LIVE AND DIE, author Brian Keene goes to that nexus point and gazes into the abyss with an unflinching eye. A large part of this book is autobiographical fiction, told through the eyes of a man who often makes a living writing about terrible things.
   The center piece is THE GIRL ON THE GLIDER, which Keene describes in the book's afterword as 'ninety nine point nine percent true'. In the story Keene delves into the life of a middle aged horror writer and examines the affect his lifestyle has on the people in his life, all the while telling a ghost story that also is mostly true.
   THE REVOLUTION HAPPENED WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING is a beat poem history of the horror genre and all the beats are just right. If you know the material Keene is talking about, you'll get every bit of it. If not, you'll learn something.
   Probably my favorite story is MUSINGS, which once again looks at the writer's life and adds a nice bit of creepiness that I think Karl Edward Wagner would have appreciated. There are more stories in this collection and they are all worth your time. Like I said, Brian Keene doesn't pull any punches in these stories and he doesn't look away when many people would. Highly recommended.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Conan/Murder She Wrote

This is what happens when I get bored on a Sunday afternoon. I draw improbable team-ups.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Red Sonja/Conan Issue #1



   A little earlier this year, Dark Horse Comics and Dynamite Comics got together and teamed up Conan the Barbarian and Red Sonja. Because of the arcane ways of licensing, each of these companies has control of one of the characters, so any team-up has to be agreed upon by both companies. Dark Horse did four issues of a mini-series called CONAN/RED SONJA, and apparently now it's Dynamite's turn to do RED SONJA/CONAN.
   The first mini series was a lot of fun. It had a fairly lightweight story involving the Stygian wizard Thoth Amon and a dangerous mystical plant called the Bloodseed. And it had really good art by my main man, Dan Panosian. I did get a little tired of the whole Bloodseed thing by the end of the mini series I must say.
   So you can imagine I wasn't overly thrilled when I opened the first issue of RED SONJA/CONAN to find that once again the menace for the two sword slingers to face was a Stygian wizard and the Bloodseed. New plot, people. Please.
   Anyway, the art in the first issue, by Roberto Castro, is really sharp. In fact I prefer it to the current art in the regular Dark Horse Conan comic, but that's probably because it's more Marvel style. I grew up with the Marvel Comics version of Conan and the closer something hues to that, the happier I usually am. What can I say? I'm an old school comics guy.
   The writing, by Victor Gischler, is serviceable, though Conan seems a little out of character, but we all know how picky I am about Conan, so that's a minor quibble.
   Oh one funny bit, maybe a little spoilery. In the old Marvel continuity, Sonja had a vow that she wouldn't sleep with a man unless he defeated her in combat. Not so with the Dynamite Sonja. In fact as she's written by regular Sonja series scribe Gail Simone, today's Sonja, much like Conan, is rather randy.
   So it finally looks like Conan and Sonja are going to get it on, when some of the wizard's monsters show up in the bed chamber and things go to hell in a Hyborian hand basket. So close, yet so far.
   So yeah, lightweight sword and sorcery fun from Dynamite with spiffy artwork. There's a preview here.