'Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,' the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. 'Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.'

-Robert E. Howard
Beyond The Black River

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Showing posts with label Solomon Kane. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Solomon Kane. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Conan: Serpent War #1 (2019)

The first issue of "Serpent War" is on the shelf today! I couldn't wait to get to the store so grabbed a digital copy to read with my morning coffee.

Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Scot Eaton: Penciler, Scott Hanna: Inker
Colorist: Frank D'armata
Letterer: VC's Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: Carlos Pacheo, Aneke & Frank D'armata

James Allison Sequence Artist: Vanesa R. Del Rey Colorist: Jean-Francois Beaulieu

Cover Price: $4.99
Pages: 26 of story.
Prose: Solomon Kane 1 of 4.

There are extreme Howard purists who range from not liking any of Howard's characters being done but anyone by him to more Conan centric purists who feel Conan MUST be in the Hyborian Age, anything that strays from this is bad.

Me? I consider myself a Howard purist, but to the point where I have Howard's work in one silo, and everything else in various other silos. I accept and LIKE others doing work with his characters. This work keeps them alive and keeps them in the public eye. No one expects Superman to stay in the world of his creation, but Howard's work? Hands off for many many people.

As you can expect these extreme purists have no love for these Marvel stories. Also as you can expect, I am not one of these. I was looking forward to this adventure because it not only includes Conan but also includes two other, less well known, Howard characters: Solomon Kane and Dark Agnes. Bringing two of Howard's characters to the light is a good thing, especially when one is not that well known. In short, I am happy to see Dark Agnes reborn for an audience that has probably not heard of her.

I generally liked the art in this book, the big spreads introducing Agnes and Kane are great. Seeing them on the big page in a modern print comic gave me a little thrill. I also found using a different team to do the James Allison opening to be excellent. It made it stand apart from the other charcters in the story. It is an excellent use of art to tell a tale in my opinion.

Apart from the addition of Moon Knight, because Howard wouldn't have known about him, this story, at least so far, isn't beyond what Howard could have written. Like most stories of this nature the first issue works to lay the ground work of what is to come and to introduce us to the characters. The most obvious of these two that need introductions are of course Kane and Agnes, but both Conan and Moon Knight are explained as well. As a Moon Knight fan who knows nothing about Conan you will have a basic foundation. As well as a Conan fan who knows nothing about Moon Knight, I have a basic idea as well.

My biggest complaint about the cover is the sword. Although it isn't a direct copy of the Atlantean sword from the 82 film it is clearly influenced by it. As much as I love the movie this sword belongs in the 82 Conan the Barbarian silo for me. With that being said the cover shows us the main characters and is in my opinion well executed.

Some of the variant covers are incredible. My favorite of these is Conan depicted with Moon Knight done by David Finch. My single complaint about it, especially since it is so bad ass, is that it only includes Conan and Moon Knight. Maybe Issues 2 will have an equally bad ass variant cover from him with Kane and Agnes?

Sword & Sorcery & Guns
Two of the characters are weilder of guns so I thought I would throw that in there as well. Although they are simply laying groundwork and introducing the characters, some of that groundwork is to introduce the threat. That threat is clearly sorcerous and weird in nature. In addition we also get scenese of the characters kicking ass and taking names, so this checks all of these boxes for me.

Overall Thoughts
When they announce stories like this I am always hopeful, but always unsure. Jim Zub has been on social media talking about this for a while, but the proof is in the pudding as they say. I think the whole team has done a great job on this book right down to the Howard underpinnings across the whole thing. Using James Allison, a perhaps even MORE obscure character as the glue to hold this all together is pretty brilliant, and it puts more of the James Allison tales on my reading list, right after I finish "Chessmen of Mars" by Burroughs.

Overall recommendation: Go pick this up.

My rating this month is 4.5 out of 5 Skulls of My Enemies!

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Why Pulp Fiction?

Escapism is all around us. Today society has myriad forms of entertainment ranging from the written word to the moving picture. We live in a world that has made all of this entertainment and escapism accessible to the masses.

Stories have always been important to us. Since the dawn of man we have found ways to record our exploits and our heroics, but until the modern era these stories were told by word of mouth or perhaps through expensive reproductions laboriously copied by hand on vellum.

Paper, in the Western world at least, wasn’t really needed until the invention of the printing press in 1450. Suddenly we had the ability to mass produce books, but we still lived in a labor intensive society. We still didn’t have time to sit down and consume entertainment like we do now.

Listen to me talk, I complain about not having enough time to do half the things I want to do. In reality though I could make much better use of my down time. In the middle ages and renaissance, living and working by sunlight or lanterns, I simply would not have. I wouldn’t have the luxury I have now.

Enter the Industrial Revolution. Automation of processes brings workers time and an increase in the standard of life. It gives them, for the first time, the ability to have a sustained ability to consume entertainment. Although I am not going to discuss, or hypothesize as to why, we also see a dramatic increase in literacy. (Devon Lemire, 2012)

Now we have paper, the ability to produce the written word and an audience. What becomes of this? If we type “Penny Dreadful” into google we largely get hits from a TV show called “Penny Dreadful”. This TV show about the weird and dark side of Victorian London takes its name from the widely available cheap literature of the day. These magazines, known as a Penny Dreadful specialized in sensational stories and offered the working class a way to get the written entertainment without having to buy the more expensive novels. You should check out this article for a more in depth look at the Penny Dreadful.

In 1900s United States we see the rise of the pulp magazine. These magazines are the direct successors to the serialized cheap publications that came to be known “Penny Dreadfuls”. The collective name for those publications is a combination of the content and the price, the pulp magazine takes its name from the paper used, which has become synonymous with how the content is generally viewed; cheap, tawdry and of no value.

From the introduction of these magazines in the early 1900s to their demise in the 1950s, a wealth of these magazines were produced, and because of this need for content many people tried their hand at writing. Some created iconic characters that have lasted to this day; Conan, Tarzan, Doc Savage, The Shadow.

In the 1950s rising costs and increased competition from books with higher production quality, television and comic books saw this boom in pulp literary entertainment begin to wane and the majority of the pulp magazine companies going out of business. I found a graph stating that in 1950, 9% of US households had television, and in 1955 it had rise to 64%, by 1965 92% of households had television (Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication). I am sure it’s now close to 100% and although reading is still popular among some, I am sure we all know someone who just doesn't read anymore.

Pulp magazines are often looked down on. Their authors are not held up like “true” authors. They are not typically views as literary masters, or authors that made a contribution. I am not here to tell you that everyone who wrote in a pulp magazine was an expert wordsmith, but to wipe our hands of every author because they were commercial authors being published in the pulps is a disservice to literature. I would argue that these authors writing in the early 1900s have had a significant effect on our culture, as great as any of the large names. They have created ideas and characters that have become our modern heroes, or the basis for them. Who’s work reached a larger audience: Hemingway or Howard, Lovecraft or Lawrence, Steinbeck or Smith?

These magazines defined a large portion of entertainment for the working class for the first half of the 20th century. They were a large part of culture during that time and to ignore their influence on it is folly. The authors of those magazines certainly wrote to get published but that doesn’t make them less. This does not mean that there is not depth in their stories.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Solomon Kane

The company that brought us Mythic: Battles Pantheon in association with Monolith, is going to bring us a new game. A new setting from the Pulp worlds of the great Robert E Howard.


We don't know very much about the game right now, but it looks to be a kickstarter and miniature based(as their last 2 games were.)

I will be watching this one with keen interest.

Check out the teaser here: