Sunday, December 30, 2012

'Hunter' from Eerie magazine (Warren)
episode 6
from Eerie No. 57, June 1974

This is the final episode of the first incarnation of the 'Hunter' character in Eerie.

This episode sees our hero in a do-or-die confrontation with the demon who fathered him. An elderly Schreck offers what aid he can.

The Hunter character proved to be so popular that Eerie soon brought the character back in the 'Hunter II' series....which I will be posting here at the PorPor Books Blog.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Book Review: 'Universe 1', edited by Terry Carr

2 / 5 Stars

‘Universe 1’ (250 pp.) was published by Ace Books in 1971; the cover illustration is by Davis Meltzer.

In his Introduction, editor Terry Carr declares that the ‘Universe’ anthology series is dedicated to science fiction, and “….there’ll be no ‘speculative fiction’ at all.” 

This is untrue, unfortunately, as most of the contents of ‘Universe 1’ are indeed speculative fiction pieces. This isn’t so surprising, as 1971 saw the New Wave movement in sf operating at full throttle.

Brief summaries of the entries:

‘West Wind, Falling’ by Gregory Benford and Gordon Eklund: inter-generational conflict among the colonists living inside the hollowed core of a comet. Benford would return to this theme in fuller form with his 1986 novel Heart of the Comet.

‘Good News from the Vatican' by Robert Silverberg: a group of people of varied religious backgrounds idle in Rome’s stylish cafes, as they await word on the advent of the first robot to be named Pope. A slight tale, if anything at all.

Edward Bryant contributes two stories. ‘Jade Blue’ is New Wave through and through: a plotless story about a young boy, his nightmares, and a talking puma. 

‘The Human Side of the Village Monster’, on the other hand, is the best entry in the anthology. It’s set in a decaying, near-future New York City, with a real ‘Soylent Green’ vibe. ‘Human Side’ shows that when he avoided contrived efforts at Speculative Fiction, Bryant could produce memorable, ‘traditional’ sf tales.

‘Nor Limestone Islands’ by R. A. Lafferty: a ‘fabulation’ about floating islands of limestone; the inhabitants offer philosophical insights. Mediocre.

‘Time Exposures’ by Wilson Tucker: a murder mystery, featuring a camera that can take pictures of past events. Imaginative, even if discerning readers are liable to figure out Whodunit very early on.

‘Mindship’ by Gerard F. Conway: on board a starship, a retiring individual serves as the vital psychic masseuse for the ship's pilot, a group mind comprised of individuals submerged in a fugue state. A promising concept, but one gradually overwhelmed by the author’s too-frequent use of overwrought, figurative prose. Conway expanded the story into a novel, published by DAW Books in 1974.

‘Notes for A Novel About the First Ship Ever to Venus’ by Barry N. Malzburg: brief tale, dispersed in one- or two- paragraph chapters, about a spaceship venture to the eponymous planet. As many sf authors were wont to do during the New Wave era, Malzburg tries to imitate an existing ‘literary’ style, in this case something reminiscent of Dos Passos, with…….. unimpressive…….. results.

‘Poor Man, Beggar Man’ by Joanna Russ: the ghost of his murdered general haunts Alexander the Great. Devoid of genuine sf content, and consisting of lengthy conversations, the best I could do with this entry was scratch my head at editorial attitudes of the New Wave era.

‘The Romance of Dr. Tanner’ by Ron Goulart: another effort at sf humor by Goulart; this time, pipe-smoking lizard men highlight the domestic neuroses suffered by a TV ad executive. It’s the worst story in the anthology.

‘Mount Charity’ by Edgar Pangborn: talking animals – who are the assumed forms of aliens – muse on human foibles over the ages. A readable story, infused with the philosophical attitudes of the ‘hippy’ generation.

‘All the Last Wars At Once’ by George Alec Effinger: uneasy satire about what happens when contemporary American social conflicts are solved with overt violence.

Summing up, ‘Universe 1’ is unwavering, early 70s New Wave sf. Most entries have aged quite poorly. Modern readers will find little to engage them here, save for the stories by Bryant, Tucker, and Pangborn.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

'Bless Us, Father' by Richard Corben
from Creepy No. 59, January 1974

 A cleaver-wielding maniac in a Santa Suit is on the rampage..... !


Saturday, December 22, 2012

'Heavy Metal' magazine, December, 1982

December, 1982, and 'Maneater' by Hall and Oates in in heavy rotation on MTV and on the FM radio stations.

Montxo Algora provides both the front and back covers for this month's issue of Heavy Metal.

This issue is actually rather good, one of the better ones for the year. There are ongoing installments of Kaulta's 'Starstruck', Pisu and Manara's 'The Ape',  Duillet's 'Yragael', Fernandez's 'Zora', Jones and Wrightson's 'Freak Show', and Corben's 'Den II'.

In the Dossier, we have capsule reviews of the year's LPs; groups like Saxon, Girlschool, U. S. metal, and Shooting Star have, sadly, disappeared from the musical consciousness in the intervening 30 years.

Billy Idol sulks for the camera; an article about sensory deprivation tanks represents a late follow-up to the theme of the 1981 movie 'Altered States'; and we're given reviews of a large number (of what turned out to be entirely forgettable) fantasy novels.

Higher-end advertisers still elude HM; this issues features a full-pager from a mail-order Head Shop. Back in December '82, the idea of pot being legalized in Washington state - or in any state - seemed very, very, far off....

Moebius ably represents with a nice little four-page entry, 'The Emerald Lake', which I've posted below. It's all about Brazil and emeralds.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Book Review: 'The Ice Schooner' by Michael Moorcock

3 / 5 Stars

‘The Ice Schooner’ was first published as a serial in SF Impulse magazine in the UK in 1966, with its first book printing in 1969. This Dell paperback edition (267 pp) was published in October, 1978, and contains revised material. The cover illustration is by Boris Vallejo.

'Schooner' is set on a future earth where the Ice Ages have returned, and much of the planet is overlaid with glaciers. Civilization endures, albeit at a medieval level of technology. Eight cities of modest construction and size still exist in what used to be North America. 

Commerce revolves around the hunting of terrestrial 'ice' whales, creatures whose flippers have evolved to propel them on the surface of the endless ice; ships set on skis, the ‘ice schooners’ of the book’s title, pursue the migrating herds.

Moorcock’s protagonist is Konrad Arflane, a former whaler captain who finds himself, in the novel’s opening pages, reduced in rank and economic standing. 

Arflane is a more fully-fleshed character than the usual fantasy / adventure hero, being a moody, manic-depressive personality; appropriate traits for an individual of Scandinavian descent.

When Arflane rescues a man left to die alone on the ice, it is none other than Pyotr Rorsefne, the magnate of a wealthy shipping firm in the city of Friesgalt. This act brings Arflane into the circle of the Rorsefne family, and a dying man’s commission: captain the ship Ice Spirit across thousands of miles of poorly mapped ice, to discover if the mythic city of New York still exists, and whether the Ice Mother, the deity of this new Ice Age, resides there.

Most of ‘Schooner’ is taken up with the quest of the Ice Spirit to find the fabled city of New York, and the various adventures and mishaps that befall the good ship and crew.

Not unexpectedly with a Moorcock novel, ‘Schooner’ is infused with ambiguity, and departs from the self-confident tone of the traditional fantasy hero narrative. Konrad Arflane is not an invincible leader who strides victoriously through every test, but rather, a troubled man who lacks the imagination to recognize that change is coming to his world.

The descriptions of the hunting and the slaughter of the ice whales are graphic, and carry a note of moral unease. The success of the mission, and the survival of all its crew, is by no means assured; treacherous terrain, sedition, and vengeful ice barbarians all will test Arflane’s ability to bring the Ice Spirit to its destination.

‘The Ice Schooner’ is one of Moorcock’s better adventure novels, and is well worth picking up.

Monday, December 17, 2012

'The Sword of Solomon Kane'
Marvel comics, 1985 - 1986

Starting with issue 1 in September, 1985, and going on to issue 6 in July, 1986, Marvel re-launched the ‘Solomon Kane’ franchise as limited-series, four-color comic book with Code approval. 

It’s not clear if ‘The Sword of Solomon Kane’ was a carefully considered, deliberate decision by  the management, or a last-minute effort to get some books printed before Marvel’s rights to the franchise lapsed.

The miniseries used both REH's original Kane stories, and material created for the miniseries by the Marvel editorial staff.

Issue 1 was ‘Red Shadows’, issue 2 an original werewolf tale titled ‘And Faith, Undying’, issue 3 ‘Blades of the Brotherhood', issue 4 ‘The Prophet’ (featuring artwork by Mike Mignola), issue 5 ‘Hills of the Dead, and issue 6 ‘Wings in the Night’.
For most of these issues Ralph Macchio provided the scripting, with Brett Blevins and Al Williamson providing the art.

Even given Marvel’s use of cheaper, plastic printing plates in their 80s comics, the artwork and color reproductions in these issues are quite crude. 

Indeed, it’s markedly inferior to the artwork in the black and white Curtis magazine incarnations of Solomon Kane in the 1970s (as a backup feature in ‘The Savage Sword of Conan’, etc.). 

Mignola’s penciling for issue 4 is probably the best this particular series offered, followed by Blevin’s work in issue 2.

Hardcore REH and Solomon Kane fans may want to pick up this miniseries if the opportunity presents itself. All six issues appear on online auction websites for affordable prices.
As well, all six issues were reprinted in 2009 in Dark Horse’s trade paperback compilation of the Marvel comic - book Kane adventures of the 70s and 80s, ‘The Chronicles of Solomon Kane’.

(Note, the b & w comics from the Curtis magazines are reprinted in another Dark Horse volume, ‘The Saga of Solomon Kane’.)

Friday, December 14, 2012

'A Christmas Romance' by Jean-Michel Nicolett
from Metal Hurlant No. 24, December, 1977

This is a special Christmas issue, 'Perversions of Santa Claus (Father Christmas)'.

It's a French thing, I guess....

This issue features another fine contribution from Jean-Michel Nicolett, titled 'A Chistmas Romance'. Only three pages in length, but warped genius in every panel.....

(My translation is paraphrased)

 December 1999, and this is the End....

 and a few days later....

"I'm hungry all the time"
".....not even a rat !"
"I'm hungry.....thirsty..."

"Say, you know what day it is ? my watch, it's December 25! It's a funny name ?
....Hey, I'll give a gift for you, Tourme !"

He grabbed his telescopic machete that he always carried with him....
"It was good, my love ?"
"Mmmmmmm !"