With the centennial of World War One in full swing, there’s a lot of press repeating the received truths about the war. If one listens to the UK media, it sounds like the British dealt with the Germans almost single-handed, saving Brave Little Belgium with a bit of help from the French and of course the Commonwealth allies. American media coverage, such as it is, stresses the American role while glossing over the first three years they missed. Neither of these national media spend much time on the wide diversity of people involved in the conflict.
I was introduced to fanfiction after The Empire Strikes Back came out in 1980, when I was around fifteen. This was long before the Internet, and fanfic was printed in fanzines, fan-produced magazines that were mimeographed or xeroxed, or if the editor could afford it, offset printed. But finding them, if you didn’t already know someone who knew about them, was nearly impossible.
As a lonely, feral, anxiety-ridden, teenage fan, my only connection to the fandom world at all was Starlog magazine. Back then, Starlog was a lifeline for me, and it not only featured articles and news about TV shows, movies, and books, but also fan groups and conventions. (I chose the university I went to because Starlog had an article that mentioned its student SF/F club and convention, but that’s another story.)
The magazine also had a section of small cheap personal ads in the back for fan-related merchandise. One issue, a fanzine called Facets, dedicated to fanfic about Harrison Ford’s various characters (mostly Han Solo and Indiana Jones) bought an ad, and I sent my money in (I don’t remember how much, probably less than $10) and bought a couple of small fanzines.
I was hooked. The back of each fanzine was filled with ads and flyers for other Star Wars fanzines, and I dived in and ordered more.
At their height of popularity in the 80s and early 90s, Star Wars fanzines were gorgeous productions. There were zines that were more than 300 pages long; with color covers and black and white illustrations; and filled with stories, poems, and cartoons. The best editors would copyedit the stories and some made suggestions and asked for revisions, helping the writers produce their best work.
Back in August, I reported on the arrival of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, Volume One, the first half of a handsome hardcover graphic novel adapting Gaiman’s famous contemporary fantasy.
I’m very pleased to report that the second half has now arrived, and it looks just as sharp as the first. Volume Two includes the last three chapters of Gaiman’s novel, skillfully adapted by Russell and illustrated by several of the top artists in the field.
The second volume of a glorious two-volume, four-color graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s #1 New York Times bestselling and Newbery and Carnegie Medal-winning novel The Graveyard Book, adapted by P. Craig Russell and illustrated by an extraordinary team of renowned artists.
Inventive, chilling, and filled with wonder, Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book reaches new heights in this stunning adaptation. Artists Kevin Nowlan, P. Craig Russell, Galen Showman, Scott Hampton, and David Lafuente lend their own signature styles to create an imaginatively diverse and yet cohesive interpretation of Neil Gaiman’s luminous novel.
Volume Two includes chapter six to the end of the book.
Once again the colorist is Lovern Kindzierski, who brings a solid cohesiveness to the project, tying together so many disparate art styles with a unified look.
The Graveyard Book, Volume Two was published by Harper Books on July 29, 2014. It is 164 pages, priced at $19.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital edition.
Over on my own Art of the Genre site, I talk a lot about Dragon Magazine. And why not, there are tons of them, and most are filled with great artwork. Typically, I review at least one Dragon a week, and after doing this for a couple of years I felt it was high time I composed one of my infamous ‘Top 10’ lists here on Black Gate, this time around ‘The Top 10 Dragon Magazine Covers of the 1970s & 80s!’
First off, apologies to the 1990s and 2000s, but you all didn’t make the cut for this list and I’ll have to address those two decades in a later post.
Now, for me, finding 10 ‘top’ covers is a hard list to make, primarily because so many Dragon magazine paintings have strong feeling of nostalgia attached to them. The greatest of these, of course, would be the very first Dragon magazine I ever saw, #88, with cover by Jim Holloway. That, in my book, is #1, but I’ll do my best to take a step back, evaluate with a more critical eye, and see what that list actually shakes out as.
And remember, I’ve been blogging Art of the Genre for five years, am approaching a quarter of a million unique page views, all for free, so please don’t troll my list, I think I’ve earned the right to post it, but feel free to share memories or your own favorites!
So, without holding you hostage any further, I present my list of the Top 10 Dragon Magazine Covers from the 1970s & 80s!
I like a good romance.
(Yes, we’re still talking Gilgamesh, I haven’t hit my head. Just give me a second. Haven’t we developed that kind of blogger/reader trust yet?)
In fact, I love a good romance. Give me a lady in a corset and a handsome young duke/earl/suitably wealthy gentleman/starving but really charming young artist, 300 pages and a stretch of time that my weesters are occupied elsewhere and I am all yours. I think the romance genre of fiction is underrated and, frankly, under-read by writers in many other genres.
But romance, or more precisely eros, has taken over fiction and fandom. Romantic relationships have become the primary relationship we see in our entertainment. Romantic tension is wedged into stories, often awkwardly. It’s often justified by seeking to appeal to a female demographic, as if women were incapable of liking stories without romance or that romance is the only relationship that we value. This is not only condescending, it’s exclusionary on a number of levels. And it is sad, because some of the greatest relationships in history were not romantic or familial, but friendships.
And the first great relationship we have recorded is just that. As we discussed last time, Gilgamesh has been making a royal pain of himself, and when his people pray for help, the gods respond by creating a man who will be his match. That man is Enkidu, and once the gods breathe life into him, they set him down in the wilderness.
The Doom That Came to Sarnath was the second volume of H. P. Lovecraft stories published under the BAF imprint. It served as a bridge between the Dunsanian fantasies of The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath and the Cthulhu Mythos related titles that followed.
Many of the stories in this volume weren’t published until years after they were written or were published in amateur press publications of the day. These days, we’d call them fanzines. The contents include the aforementioned Dunsanian fantasies, some traditional horror stories, and some early Mythos tales. Also included are a few prose poems and one selection of Lovecraft’s verse.
Rather than give a brief description of each of the 20 items in the book, I’ll highlight some of the ones I liked best, then offer some general thoughts. Carter broke the selection up into groups loosely based on either chronology or theme. I’m not that organized. I’m also not a Lovecraft scholar, so I’m not going to comment much on the specific chronology of the stories or try to get into the nitty gritty of Lovecraft’s authorial evolution.
It’s strange to think that I didn’t really discover Fredric Brown until last year. Sure, before that I could probably name one or two of his most famous stories (including the Star Trek episode “Arena,” which doesn’t really count), but I didn’t truly learn to appreciate him until I brought a battered paperback with me on a flight back from Las Vegas last October. A week later I wrote about it, saying:
The Best of Fredric Brown is one of the best short story collections I’ve read in years. Brown is frequently compared to O. Henry for his gift for twist endings and the comparison is apt. Even when you’re on the alert, Brown manages to constantly surprise and delight you in a way that very few authors — in the genre or out — can pull off… I can’t remember the last time I’ve had as much fun with a single collection.
It’s good to know I can still find unexpected treasures in my own library.
Now, if you’re a Fredric Brown fan, the logical way to collect him these days is by purchasing From These Ashes from NESFA Press, which contains his complete short fiction in one gorgeous and economical volume — and is still in print.
Of course, you know how I feel about that. It takes all the fun out of it. You want to really appreciate Fredric Brown? You painstakingly track down his eight collections, like a normal person. Starting with Paradox Lost, because it has a dinosaur on the cover. Duh.
Paradox Lost (full title: Paradox Lost, and Twelve Other Great Science Fiction Stories) was published in 1974 by Berkley Medallion. It contains many of his finest stories, including the brilliant and oh-so-slightly-terrifying “Puppet Show,” “It Didn’t Happen,” “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” and ten others, plus a thoughtful introduction by his wife Elizabeth Brown (the only place where it appears). The book is 176 pages, priced at 95 cents; the cover is by Vincent DiFate. It is out of print. There is no digital edition, but copies in good condition start at under a buck at Amazon.
See all of our recent Vintage Treasures here.
Jennifer Brozek began her professional writing career producing game reviews for Black Gate magazine a decade ago. I wish I could take credit for discovering her, but it was our games editor at the time, Don Bassingthwaite (who’s gone on to a stellar career of his own, with more than a dozen fantasy novels under his belt), who found and recruited her. Since then, Jennifer has written or co-written over half a dozen game titles, including the Fifth Edition Shadowrun rules, the Big Damn Heroes Handbook for the Serenity Role Playing Game, and the BattleTech novel The Nellus Academy Incident.
She’s also made a name for herself as an accomplished editor — with ten titles to her name, including the DAW anthology Human for a Day (co-edited with Martin H. Greenberg) and Grants Pass (with Amanda Pillar) — and author, of In a Gilded Light, The Lady of Seeking in the City of Waiting, and the Karen Wilson Chronicles, among others. Most recently, we reported here on her upcoming heroic fantasy anthology from Baen, Shattered Shields, co-edited with Bryan Thomas Schmidt.
As if that weren’t enough to keep her busy, Jennifer is also the author of some 50 short stories, and early next year sees the publication of her very first collection: Apocalypse Girl Dreaming, from Evil Girlfriend Media. Here’s the book description:
Evil Girlfriend Media is pleased to release the cover of Apocalypse Girl Dreaming, a short story collection, by Jennifer Brozek. This collection features dark speculative fiction ranging from tie-in stories in the Valdemar and Elemental Masters worlds, weird west horror to satirical science fiction to urban fantasy with a horrific bent.
A first collection is a pretty big milestone for an author and we think congratulations are in order. And maybe a cake.
Apocalypse Girl Dreaming will be published on January 16, 2015 in e-book and paperback format. No word yet on price or page count. The cover art is by Fernando Cortes, with graphic design by Matt Youngmark. Learn more at the Evil Girlfriend website.
Last month, I reported on the first issue of Black Static magazine I ever purchased, issue 40. I was very impressed.
Good thing, too, because I took a chance and bought issue #41 at the same time. I have no idea why two issues of the same magazine were simultaneously on the stands, but I’m glad they were.
On the magazine’s website is this friendly but blunt request:
Magazines like Black Static cannot survive without subscriptions and always needs more support than it gets. If you enjoy it please blog about it, review it, tell your friends, and encourage other people to subscribe. Thank you!
Truer words were never spoken. Magazines like Black Static are completely dependent on fans and readers to keep them alive. I hope this magazine survives for a good long time — but it won’t without reader support. In that spirit, I am very happy to shine a spotlight on Black Static here on the blog. If it sounds intriguing, I hope you’ll consider buying an issue next time you find yourself browsing the magazine rack.
Black Static is a British magazine of dark fantasy and horror, edited by Andy Cox. It used to be called The 3rd Alternative, until that magazine went on hiatus in 2005. It was acquired by TTA Press, the publishers of Interzone and Crimewave, and in 2007 it was relaunched as Black Static.
As Black Gate‘s resident oddball zombie movie reviewer (Honest! John O’Neill did it in style of Mad Men‘s Roger Sterling, he did a Jedi hand wave and anointed me thus) I have to say a little bit about the ultra-low budget 2012 movie The Battery.
The zombie movie has reached the arthouse at last. And the arthouse loved it, this micro-budget film won numerous awards.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love a traditional zombie movie as much as the next fan. I have a soft spot in my heart for 2008′s Day of the Dead, despite such howlers as the assertion that zombie Bud is safe because he was a vegetarian in life, as though that moral choice trumps thousands of years of cultural conditioning toward a similar moral choice against cannibalism.
But back to The Battery. Filmed on a budget of $6000, writer/director Jeremy Gardner put together a horror film that delivers the most entertainment per budget dollar since Blair Witch Project – though I expect The Battery, while not as original as that legendary effort, will prove more enjoyable on the re-watch.
Its strengths are the same as Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead: a limited budget means you have to spend your time on character and tension. Without money for a lot of extras in zombie makeup to be featured more than briefly, you have to make do with the sounds of zombies outside the windows, which is creepier anyway.