Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday Afternoon Miscellany

• This is cool. Pulp writer Lester Dent, the creator and primary author of the legendary Doc Savage novels, has a new book coming out!

Actually, as the pulps were dying out, Dent turned his talents toward the growing paperback market, and actually sold a crime novel to Gold Medal Books. Now, Charles Ardai of Gold Medal's modern counterpart, Hard Case Crime, has uncovered another, previously unpublished, crime novel by Dent. I don't know how that guy keeps coming up with these treasures, but I'm grateful that he does.

Here's what HCC has to say bout the book: If you were small-time grifter Walter Harsh, recovering in a hospital with a broken arm, you’d listen to a proposition that could net you a cool $50,000 for impersonating the South American strongman you resemble. You'd pay attention when the dictator’s sultry mistress started putting the moves on you. And in the dead of night, when no one was watching, you might just hatch a plot to get it all for yourself: the money, the girl, and the stash of stolen loot she’s conspiring to spirit out of the country...

Dent's Honey in His Mouth will be published by HCC in October with a very nice cover by Ron Lesser. For more info and a sample chapter, click here.

• Over the weekend I watched Roland Emmerlich's 10,000 B.C. Normally, I'm not a fan of Emmerlich's movies, which generally seem to be constructed on the contemporary theory that if you have enough special effects, you don't need a story – or at least one that makes sense. But when my pal Martin Powell gave me the key to enjoying the director's recent cinematic caveman saga, I decided to put it in the Netflix queue.

According to Martin, the movie reminded him of an Edgar Rice Burroughs adventure story... and after watching it myself, I agree. Like Pathfinder – another generally panned fantasy that I enjoyed – the negativity that followed its release seemed to be based on the movie's clear disregard for historical accuracy in favor of pumping up the adventure story, and the perceived "corny-ness" of certain story points. But, you know, I just finished reading two classic Burroughs stories, and if held their corny-ness and cliche's against them, I wouldn't have been able to enjoy the blood & thunder fun of the tales. And really, it's much the same with 10,000 B.C.

The story is somewhat simple and ultimately predictable – in fact, it follows a classic ERB template: the hero's beautiful princess is kidnapped, and he sets out on a quest through a dangerous world of prehistoric beasts and human savages to rescue his true love from a technologically advanced society, ultimately uniting warring factions and leading a rebellion against a possibly-alien tyrant. Deep? No. But satisfyingly pulpy, and quite well-executed.

The cast is made up entirely of athletic unknowns (but the script really doesn't demand much thespic heavy-lifting), and the CGI effects work is really quite good. Personally, I got a kick out of seeing thundering herds of mastodons and a flock of ferocious, giant, flightless birds, as well as the spectacle of the climactic scenes.

And really, it's a caveman movie. What do you want?

• It's still a ways off, but it looks good that artist Joe Staton and I will be sharing a table at the Maine Comics Festival in mid-May. It's being held at the Ocean Gateway Building in Portland, Maine, and it's being put on by my good pals at Casablanca Comics.

I'm hoping that we'll have the Femme Noir trade paperback available for sale by then, but even if it's not, we'll have plenty of copies of the individual issues. I'll also have copies of some of my other books, and I'm sure that Joe will be doing sketches and selling art.

This is the second new comics show in Maine in the last couple of years (after last Fall's BangPop show), and I'll be very interested to see how well it goes, especially in this economy.

• And, following up on my other recent Buck Rogers posts, here's a Buck fan-film that also riffs on Kerry Conran's Sky Captain And the World of Tomorrow. It's pretty cute.


Charles Gramlich said...

I never would have stumbled on this one. Thanks for tipping us off.

Michael May said...

If I'm remembering right, my biggest problem with 10,000 BC was that it wasn't pulpy ENOUGH. The biggest example I can think of is that the sabretooth tiger didn't tag along with the hero for the rest of the movie. That by itself would've improved it by 23000%.

El Vox said...

I'd had 10,000 BC on and off my Netfilx queue. I was sad and skeptical as it got, by and large, such bad reviews, and I hate to watch bad movies, generally speaking. But I'm also such a big scifi, fantasy, dinosaur fan, I'd stick it back on again. I might end up watching it at some point. I thought the idea of the film had promise, and with today's movies bringing back a caveman pic could have perhaps spawned a sequel, if the director hadn't dropped the ball (although I guess you can't totally put the blame on him, I suppose). Still makes you wonder... I read one such comment about the sabertooth that it would have been so cool if it more or less had become his pet (or when confronted, the cat comes leaping out from behind thick brush--but it didn't happen...)

Enjoyed the Buck fan movie, that was fun.