Friday, December 25, 2015

Conan: Wolves Beyond the Border Issue #1

   Back in the day, the day being the 1970s, Roy Thomas was the only man I wanted to see writing Conan pastiches. Roy had done a fantastic job adapting most of Robert E. Howard's original Conan tales for Marvel Comics CONAN THE BARBARIAN  and SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN, but he also seemed to grasp the essence of the character, so that when he wrote new Conan tales, they felt more like REH than any of the folks writing prose Conan pastiches. Roy GOT Conan.
   Since then there haven't been many writers whose work on Conan really felt like REH to me, but the guy who came the closest was Timothy Truman. Many people know Truman more for his drawing than writing, and he is indeed a talented and versatile artist, but on Conan he's written more than he's drawn.
   Like me, Truman discovered Conan when he was just a kid and has been a fan ever since. I've enjoyed his adaptations of the Howard material, usually working with artist Tomas Giorello. They've turned out some work that can stand beside the best of Marvel run.
   And now they're doing a new four-issue series. WOLVES BEYOND THE BORDER, based on some unfinished fragments by REH, from which Truman is extrapolating a new tale. This one finds Conan late in life, the aging king of Aquilonia, seeking a final adventure from which he doesn't plan to return. A chance meeting with a former soldier carrying an arcane artifact will plunge the Cimmerian into a new adventure filled with swords and dark sorcery. Truman does a great job drawing the reader in. And Tomas Giorello, to me, is the modern equivalent of Big John Buscema. And if you know how I feel about Buscema, you know what a compliment that is.
 As you can probably tell, I was very very taken with the first issue and I can't wait for the second. Seriously, if you've been pushed away from the Dark Horse Conan comics by lackluster art and writing, come back for this one. I think it's going to be something special.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Confession of an Easily bored Writer

   I can only tell a story one time. I have learned this the hard way. It’s why I don’t outline. It’s why I only describe works in progress in the most general terms, because even if I just tell someone the bare bones of a story, I’ll never write it. I am a story teller. But I can only tell it once.

   Sometimes, if an idea really intrigues me, I can write a couple of different versions of it, but only if no one else has seen it. Beyond a certain point though, an idea just leaves me. I am on to the next idea and the old one is left in the dust. I told it, and I don’t want to tell it again.

   I’m fine with editing, though I don’t enjoy it. Polishing and rewriting is fine once I have a completed story. But I have learned that my best stories, the ones I like best, were hammered out in a white heat. The longer something takes, the larger the likelihood I’ll abandon it. That’s part of the reason I write as quickly as I do. I have to get it on paper before it gets away.

  So anyway, if you ever wonder what happened to a project I mentioned and then never spoke of again, that’s usually what happened. I either wrote it and didn’t like it, or I told someone too much about it and got the urge to tell that particular story out of my system. Luckily, I have a lot of stories to tell.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Farewell Snowman Wrapping Paper

This pic represents the end of an era. Over a decade ago I bought this ginormous roll of wrapping paper and I have wrapped numbers untold of Christmas presents with it. This morning the end finally came. The last two packages wrapped with the snowman paper. Farewell snowmen. We hardly knew ye

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Star Wars Memory

  Here’s a little Star Wars memory for you. When the film was released in 1977, I wasn’t yet old enough to drive. Somehow I managed to see it three or four times, by getting relatives to drive me to the theater, but it wasn’t really as many viewings as I wanted.
   In the summer of 1978 they re-released the movie, and though I had just gotten my drivers license, I was still only allowed to drive locally. Dad didn’t want me getting too far from my hometown of Canton. Problem was, there wasn’t a movie theater in Canton at the time. The closest theater showing Star Wars was in Roswell, a suburb of Atlanta. I had never driven to Roswell and wasn’t supposed to, but in the way of teenagers everywhere, I decided it would be easier to get forgiveness than permission.
   I enlisted my first cousin as sidekick and coconspirator, and together we set out for Roswell to see Star Wars. And of course we got lost. The route from Canton to Roswell was a narrow, winding, two-lane road laughingly called HWY 140. I had, of course, ridden there many times with my parents, but I had never really paid attention on how to get to Roswell.
   Fortunately I have a good memory for landmarks and after driving around for a while I spotted some familiar buildings and we managed to find the theater. We had left plenty early so we didn’t miss the start of the movie but it was close.
   We didn’t have any further mishaps on the way home. That night at dinner, mom asked where I’d been all day. I said that my cousin and I had gone to see Star Wars. Dad immediately asked where and I told him. He had an odd expression but all he said was, “Have any trouble finding the theater?”
   I said, “Got lost once, but found it.”
   Dad nodded and didn’t say anything else about it. After that, I started driving pretty much wherever I wanted, without asking anyone. But that particular day, I felt just a little like Luke Skywalker, having taken my first steps into a larger world.

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Keep Moves Up

   F.Paul Wilson’s THE KEEP is on its way to being my most re-read book. I have read it at least six times. The book I’ve read the most is Fritz Leiber’s SWORDS AGAINST WIZARDRY, but THE KEEP is closing the gap. The second most read FPW book is NIGHT WORLD with three re-reads, each of a slightly different version.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Legend of Tarzan: First Thoughts

   Howdy. Sorry the blog’s been a little quiet lately, but I’ve had a lot of writing going on. More on that later. Any of you who have spent much time here at Singular Points know what a big fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs I am. Yesterday the first trailer for the new Tarzan film, THE LEGEND OF TARZAN dropped, and while other people are dissecting THE FORCE AWAKENS trailers, I’m much more interested in the return of one of my favorite fictional characters.
   So here are some thoughts, more or less in order as they come, on the Tarzan trailer. The villains: Based at least to some degree on historical incidents. Belgium's King Leopold II, originally thought of as a philanthropist, took the Congo as his own colony in the 1880s and was responsible for a mass genocide that killed millions. Apparently Tarzan comes up against that particular horror. It also looks like there are Leopard Men, who figure as the villains in one of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan novels. Dunno if they’re with or against Tarzan here. There’s a fight but that could be a male bonding thing. You know, they fight, they become friends.
   The Origin: There’s no tree house in Burroughs, but the idea of Tarzan’s father building a tree house shows up in the Disney film and to some degree in the earlier movie Greystoke. In the novel, Tarzan of the Apes it’s just a cabin. From what I understand the origin is handled in flashback sequences in the new movie, which is good, because we really don’t need another origin film.
   The Great Apes: Can’t tell if they’re a mix of men in suits and Computer Generated Images or full out CGI. They look good though, and it’s nice to see Tarzan interacting with them, which brings us to…
   The CGI. There’s some obvious CGI shots of Tarzan swinging through the trees. I’m okay with that because it has the feel of Burroughs descriptions of Tarzan hurtling through the trees, rather than the often static vine swinging of earlier films. I just hope they don’t overdo it.
   Tarzan: Alexander Skarsgard is a leaner Tarzan than some of the portrayals and that too is closer to Burroughs. ERB described Tarzan as an Apollo, not a Hercules. Makes more sense when you’re swinging around in the upper terraces of the rain forest. There are several quick cuts of Tarzan in combat with the apes, just as he was in the books. This could be fun.
   Jane: Hellooooooooooooo Nurse! Margot Robbie is the proper blonde American Jane from the novels. She’s a lovely woman. This may be the best looking Tarzan and Jane yet onscreen.
   Samuel L. Jackson. Tar-Zan. Tar-Zan.
  So yeah, I am cautiously optimistic. Let’s just hope there isn’t another marketing fiasco like John Carter, and this Burroughs film is properly marketed. I could use a good Tarzan movie.
If you haven’t seen it, the Trailer is here.