Jul 232014
 
So, Hermes Press has just collected their Buck Rogers miniseries by Howard Chaykin. I didn't read the individual comics, but I pre-ordered it in trade, and expect it to arrive in a week or so. I don't always like Chaykin's comics, but when I do, I tend to like them a lot. In the 80s, I adored American Flagg, and the writer/artist is responsible for creating one of my all-time favorite comics characters - Atlas Comics' The Scorpion. I also dug his 80s Shadow miniseries (and will probably pick up his recent return to the character eventually), among many other titles.

I've read online that this version of Buck Rogers hews more closely to the original Philip Francis Nowlan pulp novellas, Armageddon 2419 A.D. and The Airlords Of Han.... and I think that's a great approach. Hey, I love the 70s TV series as much as anyone (and more than most), but it's about time to get back to the character's roots.

Here are Chaykin's covers for the four issue miniseries.

Jul 162014
 

The City Outside The World is one of Lin Carter's Mars Novels, a four book cycle of  homages (or pastiches, if you prefer) of Leigh Brackett's own stories set on the Red Planet. It's also the only one in the series I don't yet own. Still, I'm featuring it here because I find this cover painting (by an artist I haven't identified as yet) quite handsome and evocative of the Interplanetary Romance genre.
Jun 252014
 
Abandon Galaxy! is the second of two "Commander Craig Galactic Adventures" by "Bart Somers," one of the countless pseudonyms used by the prolific Gardner F. Fox

Although published in the late Sixties, the "Commander Craig" books (the first tome is called Beyond The Black Enigma) harken back to 30's-styled space opera pulp, and are outrageously plotted. Great fun. I'm not certain who the cover artist is, but it's been suggested to me that it might be the work of Jack Gaughn.

Jun 192014
 
There are numerous fan-made Star Trek series online. James Cawley's Star Trek: New Voyages/Phase II is probably the best known, and over the years, his team have produced a number of enjoyable Trek adventures . But, in my opinion, the best at capturing the feel of the classic series is Vic Mignogna's Star Trek Continues. The cast includes James Doohan's son Chris Doohan as Scotty and Mythbuster's Grant Imahara as Sulu. The sets, costumes, and overall production values are uncannily accurate, and the visual effects are terrific! Vic Mignogna, an experienced actor with lots of voice work to his credit, personally plays James Kirk, and he does a remarkable job of channeling the great Bill Shatner, and never lapses into parody. It's amazing how well he captures Shatner's swagger.

The first episode, "Pilgrim of Eternity," is a sequel to TOS' "Who Mourns For Adonais," with original actor Michael Forest reprising his role as Greek god Apollo. The second episode, "Lolani," revolves around a fugitive Orion slave girl and her owner - played by Lou Ferrigno (in green body paint, of course)!

The third episode, "The Fairest Of Them All," a direct sequel to the classic "Mirror, Mirror," went live this week (you can find it on the Star Trek Continues YouTube channel), and it's another winner.

If, like me, you find the new Star Trek films by J.J. Abrams and company lacking the spirit and style of Gene Roddenberry's original show, I highly recommend that you check it out.

Along with the three full-length episodes, the Continues crew has shot a couple of short Trek vignettes, too. Here's my favorite - and a nice sample of the show's production values.

Jun 092014
 

Captain Future 40-WIn addition to the explosive growth of the science-fiction pulp market, 1939 was also the year of the first World Science Fiction Convention. According to a story related by science-fiction scholar Sam Moskowitz, Standard Magazines’ editor-in-chief, Leo Margulies and Mort Weisinger came up with “a new idea in fantasy magazines” at the convention. It was Captain Future, a science-fiction hero pulp that premiered at year’s end.

In actuality, Standard’s editorial staff had been batting around ideas for a science-fictional single-character magazine for months, even asking long-time pulpster Edmond Hamilton to work up something involving a “Mr. Future, Wizard of Science.”  Eventually, the character evolved into Captain Future, a super-scientist headquartered on the Moon. In each issue of the pulp, Hamilton’s hero and his faithful assistants—known as the Futuremen—would save the solar system and, in later issues, the universe. Although action-packed and entertaining, the novels were juvenile space operas.

Startling Stories 50-01Captain Future ran until the spring of 1944, surviving for seventeen issues with Edmond Hamilton writing fifteen of the lead novels. In 1945-46, three more Captain Future adventures appeared in Startling Stories. Hamilton wrote two of them and Manly Wade Wellman one. Seven shorter works followed in 1950, all of them written by Hamilton for Startling Stories. In the late sixties, Popular Library reprinted thirteen of the Captain’s adventures in paperback. Specialty publisher Haffner Press is currently collecting the entire series in hardcover.

To learn more about the images used in this post, click on the illustrations. Click here for references consulted for this article.

Captain Future has proved very popular throughout the world with an animated television series being produced in Japan and exported to other nations. Additionally, there have been hundreds of comic books featuring the characters published in both French and German. Captain Future figurines, models, board games, drinking glasses, and other merchandise have also appeared.

Jun 042014
 
I don't know much about DAW Books' "Cap Kennedy" series, written by British sci-fi scribe E.C. Tubb under the pseudonym of "Gregory Kern." Nor do I know the name of the artist (I'm now told that it's Jack Gaughan) that painted these covers. What I do know is that the series was published in the 1970s and ran for at least 17 volumes.

I've never read any of these, but being as the tagline "Secret Agent of the Spaceways" appears to combine at least two of my favorite genres, I suspect that I'll hunt down a copy or two one of these days.
Apr 132014
 
It's been a long time since I first mentioned the secret comics project that I'm working on with artist Peter Grau, but that's mostly because I didn't get much of my part of it done over the winter. It turned out to be a hellish few months, with too much else going on. Now, though, I'm back to work on the script(s), so I thought I'd post another preliminary sketch from the pulp space opera epic by my amazingly talented collaborator.

Still no schedule or target date for the finished project; it'll be done when it's done. I will be keeping interested folks posted on our progress though, here on my blog.
Sep 252013
 
I'm currently reading the Paizo Press/Planet Stories edition of Northwest Of Earth, a collection of gothic space opera stories originally published in Weird Tales back in the 30s. They're written by C.L. (Catherine) Moore, a well-regarded pulpster best known for her sword & sorcery heroine Jirel of Joiry.

The Paizo Press/Planet Stories hardcover I own has a nice enough cover painting, but I prefer the vintage duotone illustration above, which graced a 50's edition of the material. I don't know who the artist is, but I really dig the Old School space opera vibe of the illustration.
Sep 242013
 
Okay, I can't resist sharing this here:
 

This is a preliminary sketch by artist Peter Grau, who comic fans may remember from his stint at Valiant Comics back in the 90s on titles like Solar, Man of the Atom and Secret Weapons, for a new graphic novel project we're just beginning to collaborate on.

I've been a fan of Peter's for years, and when I was an editor at Tekno*Comix in the mid-90s, I hired him to draw several issues of Mickey Spillane's Mike Danger. I've always thought that he was a terrific, underrated visual storyteller and illustrator in the classic "adventure comics" style, but I don't think that the material he was assigned at Valiant (or by me at Tekno) really played to his strengths. He basically retired from comics in the early '00s, and has been doing commercial illustration in recent years. To my great surprise, he's chosen to return to the medium for this project. I hope that this graphic novel will be a proper showcase for his talents.

I don't want to go into too many specifics about the book, but it is a retro-styled space adventure with square-jawed heroes, pretty space girls, rocketships, rayguns, aliens, monsters, robots, cavegirls (and cavemen), dinosaurs and lots of two-fisted action.

It's not intended as a spoof or pastiche, but the best, most sincere, Gardner Fox-styled, Old School space opera I can manage. Regular readers of this blog may be able to make some educated guesses as to the particulars of the project, but I'm going to try and not get too far ahead of myself this time. To often, out of enthusiasm, I've discussed comics projects here on the blog that ended up fizzling out before completion... but I feel really good about this one.

The plots are finished, and I'm starting the scripts this week; I don't know exactly how long this book will take to complete (though we're shooting for about this time next year), or even where it will end up, but - obviously - I'm very excited about it.