19 February 2013

The Oakdale Affair Is the 3000th Post at Black Gate

Another blogging milestone… and this time I had no idea I was contributing.

When I placed my article on The Oakdale Affair up on the Black Gate website this morning, I had no idea that it was the 3,000th article to go on the website. Of course, I don’t have access to the full information about how many articles have appeared on the site (or maybe I do and I’ve never explored it) so I would never have known this if editor John O’Neill hadn’t posted about it later today. It came as stunning news, this realization of how large and influential Black Gate’s blog has grown. A few controversies have even grown out of it, but none thankfully because of anything I’ve written.

In January I got the glowing news from John O’Neill that my article on A Princess of Mars had received the highest hits of any post during a single month on the site. I don’t expect this record to hold for long, since traffic for Black Gate continues to grow at an astonishing rate, but it was a powerful feeling to know that my opinion on one of my favorite writers was reaching so many people across the world.

This marks four-and-half years of the Black Gate blog. I was one of the original seven weekly bloggers. The others were David Soyka, Judith Berman, E. E. Knight, James Enge, Scott Oden, and Bill Ward. I am now the last of the group who still posts regularly (I miss a week here and there, although I try to stay steady), which may simply be because the others got more successful and busy than me. I tend to stay in one place; I’ve been in the same apartment since 1998.

Thank you again to John O’Neill and Howard Andrew Jones for inviting me on the Black Gate longboat. May it sail until it reaches Valhalla!

Affair of the Bear: The Oakdale Affair by Edgar Rice Burroughs

The Oakdale Affair (1918)
By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Cross-posted to Black Gate.

In the spring of 1917, as he was completing the last of the “New Tarzan Adventures” that would eventually fill the volume Jungle Tales of Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote a short novel (40,000 words) titled “Bridge and the Oskaloosa Kid.” A reader of the previous year’s The Return of the Mucker might recognize the name “Bridge” as belonging to that novel’s itinerant poet and co-hero. Burroughs liked the character so much that he spun him off into his own story: a crime drama/mystery, something different for the author.

Editor Bob Davis at All-Story found little to appreciate about ERB’s new tact when “Bridge and the Oskaloosa Kid” landed on his desk. He argued that it’s twist ending stretched credulity past what readers would tolerate: “Lord! Edgar, how do you expect people who love and worship you to stand up for anything like that? And the bear stuff, and the clanking of chains!” Davis may also have objected to mentions of one of the villains injecting morphine to feed an addiction. Although Davis remarked that Bridge was a “splendid character” in The Return of the Mucker and “well worth a great story,” the editor didn’t think this was it. He bounced the novel back to ERB.

13 February 2013

The Last Dinosaur on Warner Archive DVD

The Last Dinosaur (1977)
Directed by Alexander Grasshoff and Tsugunobo “Tom” Kotani. Starring Richard Boone, Joan Van Ark, Steven Keats.

Cross-posted to Black Gate.

It follows that if I write about The Bermuda Depths and its manufacture-on-demand DVD release, I must also write about its sister film, the dinosaur-hunting marvel of a Saturday afternoon dreamland, 1977’s The Last Dinosauralso available on MOD DVD from Warner Archive. “Richard Boone vs. a T. Rex in a Primeval World.” You don’t need a large marketing team to work on your movie if you have a tagline like that.

The Last Dinosaur is a 1950s giant monster movie filmed in the 1970s and filtered through the visual effects style of 1960s Japanese special effects (tokusatsu) films. If that sentence gives you a frisson of joy, then the movie won’t disappoint. And The Last Dinosaur is a touch better than that description suggests, with a solid script and an excellent main character who can carry the outrageousness of a giant monster movie and make it seem like Moby Dick.

04 February 2013

MAKE THIS TRUE OR HARVEY SMASH! Planet Hulk to Follow Avengers 2

HULK SMASH MARVEL STUDIOS FOR SENDING HULK INTO SPACE!

Maybe he will and maybe he won’t, because that is how “scoops” work, and in this case we are dealing with a scoop for a film quite a few years out.

However, Latino Review and their esteemed El Mayimbe have a long history accuracy with breaking movie news, so when El Mayimbe says that Marvel wants to make a movie version of Planet Hulk as a follow-up to 2015’s upcoming The Avengers 2, it bears serious consideration.

And, if true, damn I’m psyched and ready to Hulk-out. You should be too.

(Caution that El Mayimbe’s video may be considered mildly “spoilery” about the possible end of The Avengers 2. My comments below may also infer bits about Avengers 2.)

Planet Hulk is a long 2006 arc from The Incredible Hulk comic book (with tie-ins) by writer Greg Pak and illustrator Carlo Pagulayan. The gist: A small group known as the Illuminati, composed of the most powerful heroes on Earth, decide that the Hulk is simply to dangerous for the planet, so they and shut him in a spaceship blast his green butt off into space to land on a peaceful planet to spend the rest of his days. Only… this is a comic book and such a development would be boring. Nobody wants to see Hulk traipsing through a shady copse, smiling, and picking up alien daisies. TRA-LA-LA, HULK NO SMASH! HULK LOVE RHODODENDRONS!

02 February 2013

“The Black Cat on the Feast of the Eclipse” Is Now on Sale in Beyond Centauri

It’s Groundhog Day, campers. And Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning—only the seventeenth prediction of an early spring since he went in for weather forecasting in 1887. Perhaps Bill Murray will wake up tomorrow and find that it is indeed tomorrow.

And since it is one of the most joyous days of the year (especially if you live in Los Angeles and “Early Spring” is mostly a meaningless phrase), it’s the right moment to announce that issue #39 of Beyond Centauri is now available, featuring as its lead story “The Black Cat on the Feast of the Eclipse”, my fantasy novelette for the ages nine and up.

Go here to purchase the issue in print or as a PDF.

“The Black Cat of the Feast of the Eclipse” arose from my love of Halloween and my adoration of the children’s books of Edith Nesbit (Five Children and It, The Enchanted Castle). I so enjoyed writing this story that I expanded it into a full middle-grade novel, The Black Cat of the Moon Castle, which I soon hope to announce has a publisher. (Here’s my original announcement of the novelette sale.)

This story had another major impact on my life: it forced me to stop stalling and go adopt a black cat of my own. Cassandra “Cassie” Cornell Harvey came to live with me on 6 November 2012, and she has done a superb job of living up to her fictional role model, the nameless hero of “The Black Cat on the Feast of the Eclipse.” She hasn’t fought goblins yet, but she’s young. Give her time.