Showing posts with label Sword and Sorcery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sword and Sorcery. Show all posts

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sword and Sorcery...and Pugs?!

Do you belong to a strange community? I must...
Shorty
I confess an obligatory urge to share a picture of our family pug "Shorty" who has faithfully provided comic relief and therapy for over two years without being represented on this blog!

Why now?  Why display her on an author blog with a Sword and Sorcery focus?

Because I am not the only one who has loves pugs and Sword & Sorcery! In fact, Dark Horse Comics must think any entire market of us exists, and we are worthy of our own comic!  They just released an announcement (below).  But the comic won't be available until this Summer... so all you Pug/S&S fans you'll have to be content checking out the below links.

Check out the Battlepug.com website for excerpts!
...and here is the Dark Horse Comics Press Release! (copied below)


02/01/2012 11:49am 
The epic tale of blood and drool begins here! Keeping the tradition of its creator-owned mentality, Dark Horse Comics is pleased to announce its newest venture with Mike Norton—Battlepug!

 “I was really happy when people first reacted to the comic. It’s hard to predict if the public needs another ‘Giant Pug Epic Fantasy’ story. I mean, we all know those are a dime a dozen, right? Luckily, the story of a barbarian’s quest for revenge with the aid of our favorite four-legged freak seems to have legs,” said Norton. “When I first made the Battlepug T-shirt, people kept asking when the comic was coming out. So, I put out the webcomic and now everybody wants to know when the book is coming out! I guess now people will want to know when the movie is happening?”

 This volume collects the first year of Mike Norton’s Battlepug—the perfect opportunity to get in on the ground floor of the fan-favorite webcomic by Mike Norton, Allen Passalaqua, and Crank!

 Join Moll and her dogs Mingo and Colfax, as she recounts the legend of “The Warrior and the Battlepug”—a tale of a fearless barbarian, his trusty and freakishly large pug, and evil baby harp seals.

“I’m a huge fan of Dark Horse and couldn’t be more excited to have Battlepug published by them. Hellboy, B.P.R.D., Buffy, Star Wars—they put out some of the best comics currently being made and it’s humbling to even be on the same shelf with that kind of product! I’m super excited for people to read it and look forward to much more in the future!” stated Norton.
 Mike Norton’s Battlepug Volume 1 is on sale July 4, 2012!


Saturday, January 14, 2012

We Are All Legends - Review of Darrell Schweitzer's Sword & Sorcery Novel

We are all legends (Starblaze editions)We are all legends by Darrell Schweitzer
S.E.Lindberg rated it: 5 of 5 stars

We Are All Legends is a must-read for fans of doomed protagonists (Karl Wagner’s Kane, Michael Moorcock’s Elric, David Gemmell’s Druss, etc.). It is Sword and Sorcery for the adult crowd. Darrell Schweitzer tapped into his extensive weird fiction expertise to craft this great string of tales. It is gritty, poetic, and intellectually rewarding. We Are All Legends mixes the horrific atmosphere of H.P. Lovecraft, with the story telling action of R. E. Howard, with the emotive style of C.A. Smith.

A quote best communicates the motivations of Julian, a warrior jaded by the crusades who is cursed by evil forces. An apostate, shunning the god who shunned him.  Julian is a selfish man, as the character reveals in the story Divers Hands : “I had many times longed for death. But then the familiar terror came… After death—damnation, the eternal torments I could escape only for a brief time while I lived. Like all men, I am ultimately selfish. I would sacrifice the whole world to escape Hell even for a short while. I could kill myself only on a sudden, saving impulse swifter than thought. If I reasoned what was right, just, and the moral thing to do, I would forget all about rightness, justice, and morality, and be paralyzed.”

What kind of atmosphere will readers experience? Haunting, yet beautiful.  Just read this dose from The Riddle of the Horn: “The trees of earth, those which were solid and not phantasms of the snow, thinned out as I left the forest and moved into open country once again. It was foolish for me to do so, but as soon as they were out of sight—and they were almost at once—all directions looked the same and the only real thing was the agony of cold and of further motion. The wind stung my face with renewed fury, sweeping long and far over rolling hills and fields, no longer broken or held back by ancient trunks. I was without destination, like a corpse bobbing on an endless sea.”

And what horrors will the reader face? Not your typical demons, but indescribable evil.  From the story The Unknown God Cried Out: “When the man came within the circle of the firelight, I could see that he had no face, and thus no mouth, and that was why he did not speak. In the place of a face there was a black oval, not a mask, not a burnt sore, but an absolute, limitless void sinking into his head in all defiance of perspective and dimensions. I feared if I looked at it too long I would be drawn into it, out of the universe altogether…”

In summary, We Are All Legends is a gateway to Hell and beyond. As I read it I felt that rewarding anxiety of "really" experiencing the unknown, running through meticulously constructed dioramas that only a sorcerer like Schweitzer could conjure. Great fun.


View all my reviews

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Guest Post: Why "Man vs Man" is less effective than "Man vs Supernatural"


Were you disappointed in the recent Conan the Barbarian movie?  Perhaps you expected Sword & Sorcery...


Thanks to Shaun Duke who invited me to guest blog on his site "World in a Satin Bag"  (WISB).  Shaun is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and graduate student (studying science fiction, postcolonialism, posthumanism, and fantasy at the University of Florida).  WISB includes book and movie reviews, interviews with authors, literary analyses, discussions of genre, publishing, and more...


Here is an excerpt; check out the entire article the WISB:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 : Guest Post: Sword and Sorcery -- Why "Man vs Man"is less effective than "Man vs Supernatural" by S. E. Lindberg


"Fantasy readers and movie-goers maintain an expectation that protagonists will battle supernatural forces. Those forces may manifest in humans (“bad guys”); however, when the supernatural element is diluted (or superficially offered in clich├ęd, familiar forms so that the protagonist literally battles a man) then expectations are not met. Consumers become disappointed. The lack luster reception of this year’s movie, Conan the Barbarian, is a good example of this expectation being unsatisfied.

Of course, Man vs. Supernatural conflict is ubiquitous across fantasy. Most recognizable of Supernatural antagonists may be Tolkien’s bodiless Sauron. Nearly three decades before Sauron stalked bookshelves and haunted rings, Conan creator Robert Ervin Howard originated the Sword & Sorcery genre by writing action-packed shorts exploring Man vs. Supernatural.

Sword & Sorcery was coined by author Fritz Leiber years after REH passed, but as he suggested the name he also clarified the role of the supernatural: 
I feel more certain than ever that this field should be called the sword-and-sorcery story. This accurately describes the points of culture-level and supernatural element and also immediately distinguishes it from the cloak-and-sword (historical adventure) story—and (quite incidentally) from the cloak-and-dagger (international espionage) story… (Fritz Leiber, Amra, 1961)
But it was Lin Carter who may have best defined Sword and Sorcery in his introduction to his Flashing Sword series (Carter, with L. Sprague de Camp, posthumously co-authored several Conan tales):
We call a story Sword & Sorcery when it is an action tale, derived from the traditions of the pulp magazine adventure story, set in a land or age or world of the author’s invention—a milieu in which magic actually works and the gods are real—and a story, moreover, which pits a stalwart warrior in direct conflict with the forces of supernatural evil. (Lin Carter, Flashing Swords I, 1973)

REH wrote twenty-one Conan tales, and no human antagonist persisted across them. Each story had bad guys/creatures/etc., but they were overt proxies for greater supernatural evils. Hence, the conflict was Conan (the Man) vs. Supernatural...."

Read the rest on the WISB:




Friday, July 1, 2011

Unassuming Ohio Has Legitimate Sword and Sorcery Roots

See here! Ohio has Authors, Musicians, Illustrators, & Metal-Smiths!

Authors
Swordsmen and Sorcerers' Guild of America (SAGA, 1960-80s) was a group of authors that sparked a revival/growth of the Sword and Sorcery genre--represented by a series of anthologies called Flashing Swords (graced with covers from Frazetta and edited by Lin Carter).   Frazetta’s covers are known for revitalizing the genre. Carter had his own passion to evolve Sword & Sorcery (with L. Sprague de Camp, Carter posthumously “co-authored” several Conan tales in the 1960’s for the Lancer editions that published “all” the Conan tales in chronological order).  By design, each story for Flashing Swords was newly crafted; the idea being to generate and accumulate a new foundation for Sword & Sorcery
So what was the scope of the books? Carter nicely defines Sword and Sorcery in his introduction:
We call a story Sword & Sorcery when it is an action tale, derived from the traditions of the pulp magazine adventure story, set in a land or age or world of the author’s invention—a milieu in which magic actually works and the gods are real—and a story, moreover, which pits a stalwart warrior in direct conflict with the forces of supernatural evil (Lin Carter, Flashing Swords I, 1973)
Sword and Sorcery was coined by Fritz Leiber (Chicago, IL)….though the genre was started by Robert Howard (Cross Plains, TX)…and Frank Frazetta hails from PA.  Could OH actually have any roots?  Turns out, 3 of the 15 SAGA members were from Ohio!  Many awarded, contemporary authors have taken the genre further; a partial listing is shared below:

Author
Ohio Roots:
Work
SAGA member
Andre Norton (1912-2005)Cleveland,OHWitch World seriesx
John Jakes (1932-)Columbus, OHBrak the Barbarian (since known for his historical family sagas)x
Ellen Kushner(-)Cleveland, OHRiverside series, Thomas the Rhymer (Public Radio’s Sound and Spirit)
David Smith (1952-)Youngstown,OHOron the Barbarian series and Red Sonja series (with Richard L. Tierney)
Stephen Donaldson (1947-)Cleveland,OH
Wooster, OH
Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever
Dennis McKiernan (1932-)Westerville, OHThe Realms of Mithgar (Iron Tower Trilogy)
Stephen Leigh Farrell (1951-)Cincinnati, OHThe Nessantico Cycle  and The Cloudmages Trilogy
Richard Lee Byers (1950-)Columbus OH (born)Forgotten Realms; Haunted Lands trilogy
David Weber (1952-)Cleveland OHOath of Swords, The War God's Own
Roger Zelazny (1937-1995)

Euclid, OHDilvish the Damned and Chronicles of Amberx
Steve Goble Mansfield, OHShort stories of Calthus and Faceless Sons  



T.C.Rypel

Cleveland, OHGonji Series



Ohio, Dark Fantasy MusiciansProduct Details
  I  stumbled across Nox Arcana (formed ~2005) as I hunted the web for background music to play while composing/drawing.  Lead musician and accomplished artist, Joe Vargo hails from Cleveland.

Nox Arcana has published over a dozen albums with themes rooted in supernatural literature (Lovecraft’s Necronomicon, Poe’s Raven, etc.).  Each would serve as a robust soundtrack to a movie or game.  Check them out: Nox Arcana Music

Nox Arcana paired with gothic author and singer Michelle Belanger (fellow Ohian) to produce Blood and Angels.
 





Ohio, Metal Miniatures

Ironwind metals essentially grew from Ral Partha (1975-2001) based out of Cincinnati.  Their current big brand is based on the sci-fi board game Battletech. Once upon a time Ral Partha was a major competitor to the miniatures from Games Workshop’s Warhammer—as Ral Partha had garnered the rights to produce AD&D miniatures (1987, see the complex history of Ironwind metals).





Ohio Fantasy Illustrators
Interested in drawing or painting fantastical creatures, landscapes, or fairies?  Then you probably have run across the tutorial books from Impact (based in Cincinnati).   A freelance artist who has worked with Impact is Chris Seaman (Canton, OH), who has been busy illustrating for the Harry Potter Collectible card game, Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition, Dragon Magazine, Dungeon Magazine, and more...
image

Then there is Ohio born and trained John Palencar who has illustrated covers for the popular fantasy Eragon series and the more haunting/horrfic H.P.Lovecraft stories:






Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sword and Sorcery Film Queue 2011

There is a steady list of 2011 Sword and Sorcery films in queue:
Released globally, but not in US
Solomon Kane , a well received depiction of R.E.Howard's doomed, religious hero. Click here to request it to come state-side by "Demanding" it.

Out now or soon in the US
Season of the Witch Feb-011
Black Death Mar-011
Red Riding Hood Mar-011
Sinbad 2011 The Fifth Voyage July 2011
Conan The Barbarian Aug 2011 - this movie is finally close to release, after transforming from a third installment in the Arnold Schwarzenegger series (delayed due to his becoming governor) and seems to have become a re-branding of Conan (a new series).
Jason Momoa as Conan



In queue or on-hold


The Hobbit (~2012); stymied by a writer's strike and a legal tangle with the Tolkien estate, the prequel(s) to the Lord of the Rings trilogy promises to be great whenever it is finished.
Bran Mak Morn
Red Sonja: Let's hope it is better than the 1985 version...

Castlevania: Based on Konami's popular vampire games
Elric movie: Check out Michael Moorcock's blog for details.
Red Nails (Since 2006) this endeavor has struggled; based on REH's only full length Conan novel...see some pre-production animations that surfaced.
The Power of the Dark Crystal (2011??)  Announced in 2005, this sequel to the Dark Crystal (1982) has stumbled, always making some forward progress.
Pixar and Disney's Brave (2012) - Disney tries out Heroic Fantasy
Underworld 4 (2012) 
John Carter of Mars (2012)
Narnia 4 The Silver Chair (2012)
Silent Hill Revelation (sequel): Okay, not 100% Sword and Sorcery, but it is a mix of Horror-Fantasy and Pyramid Head does have a large sword and Michael Basset (who just delivered Solomon Kane) is leading the effort.
At the Mountains of Madness (2013): More weird horror/fantasy than Sword and Sorcery, but it is Lovecraft...and Guillermo del Toro is involved.




 

The Picts and the Lost IX Legion : Realism vs. Sword & Sorcery Representations

  • Who were the Picts? The mystical Picts were iron-age Caledonians, the indigenous people of Scotland. Labeled barbarous, the tribes were never conquered by the Romans; instead, they were eventually isolated by Hadrian's Wall. Picts consistently influence fantasy tales, including many Arthurian legends, Howard's Bran Mak Morn, Arthur Machen's Litte People, and Kuttner's Pikht's of Atlantis. This alone makes their aura sufficient to work with, but my fascination lies with their name since Picti means 'colored people' in Latin. Julius Caeser's documentation (de Bello Gallico ~ 45AD) indicates that the local Picts marked their bodies with vitrum before going to battle, though many think they were painted with woad (a blue dying plant akin to indigo). The Legio_IX_Hispana is a roman legion that mysteriously disappeared ~120 AD.
  • The Pict are appearing in films more frequently, though not in a mystical context:
  1. In 2004, they appeared in the Historical-Fiction-Action movie King Arthur in which Guinevere is portrayed as a Pict (played by Kiera Knightley); I recommend the Director's cut which includes short, but worthy extra scenes fleshing out Arthur's motivations.
  2. The Centurion 2010: This movie explicitly tackles the mystery of the missing IX Legion, and also blames the Picts. Olga Kurylenko
  3. The Eagle (2011): Obviously, I haven't seen this yet, but the trailers indicate a slant toward another pseudo-historical/non-sorcery representation of the Picts. 
  4. Hammer of the Gods (2013): This brutal Viking movie depicts the Picts as cannibalistic.   

Guinevere is a Pict in King Arthur

Centurion Pict

A wild Pict attacks in The Eagle
Vikings are captured & tattooed by Picts in Hammer of the Gods
  • For the mystical “Sorcery” representation of the Picts, you will either:
  1. Need to pick up R.E.Howard's stories (short pulp stories written ~1930 and compiled in 1969) or Karl Wagner’s Legion From the Shadows (1988)
  2. ...or hope that the forthcoming Bran Mak Morn movie actually is produced ...and remains "true" to Howard's depiction
R E Howard's Brank Mak Morn

Wagner's Legion from the Shadows



Frazetta Cover art
  • R.E. Howard's Bran is less famous as Conan, but is a similar hero in many ways. Bran is arguably REH's darkest character, and David Weber did a fine introduction of him in Bran Mak Morn (1969 Bean compilation):
“Of all Robert E. Howard's characters, Bran Mak Morn may be the least known. After all Howard is the author who brought us Conan, Kull the Conqueror, and Solomon Kane. Yet in a sense, Bran and his Picts are more important to Howard's world than any of his characters, including Bran's ancestor Brule. The brooding darkness which clings to virtually all of Howard's heroic fantasy is nowhere stronger than in the case of Bran Mak Morn, last king of the oldest race-an alien among his own degenerating people, set apart by a pure bloodline they no longer share, who knows his entire race is going down into the dark no matter what he does. Yet for all his awareness of the inevitability of the Pict's doom, Bran refuses simply to submit to it. He fights it tooth and nail, as he downs his Roman and Norse enemies. However hopeless his future, all he asks of fate is the chance to meet it on his feet and fighting. ii


•Bran Mak Morn, King of the Picts, assumes epic stature as he is often not the primary protagonist in the tales but a iconic force overseeing the action; in The Dark Man, Bran had been deified in a stone effigy, thus allowing him to participate in the tale and realize the looming warrior-muse that peered over Howard's shoulder and inspired his weird accounts of dark heroes. Below, from the Dark Man, the hero Black Turlough fights to save his beloved Moria from her Viking kidnappers and Howard literally captures his vision of his muse:
And over all towered the Dark Man. To Turlough's shifting glances, caught between the flash of sword and ax, it seemed that the image had grown - expanded - heightened; that it loomed giant-like over the battle; that its head rose into the smoke-filled rafters of the great hall; that it brooded like a dark cloud of death over these insects who cut each other's throats at its feet. Turlough sensed in the lightening sword-play and the slaughter that this was the proper element of the Dark Man. Violence and fury were exuded by him. The raw scent of fresh-spilled blood was good to his nostrils and these yellow-haired corpses that rattled at his feet were sacrifices to him. iii

•If there is any bridge between Howard's work and Lovecraft, it is Bran and his Picts. Lovecraft and Howard had extensive conversations about the Picts and their historic origins. As Bran and his Picts constitute a majority of Howard's 'weird' sword & sorcery landscapes, they resonated with me.  Karl Edward Wagner is worth mentioning here. He constructed a convincing novel length pastiche of Bran Mak Morn called Legions of the Shadows (1976). He was also a well respected horror writer and anthology editor and, like his predecessors, had a fascination with art, which is demonstrated in his Kane story Dark Muse and his short story Sticks (1974). Although I enjoyed the extended insight into Bran Mak Morn's world, I still felt the need to build on the Pict's connection to divine art. 

•I needed to populate Lords of Dyscrasia, and what better civilization to extrapolate from than the Picts, the 'colored' aborigines of the haunted isles of England? There is a subtle reason Picts appeal to me: their evolution in fiction and myth has paralleled that of the artistic dwarf culture. The subterranean and artistic nature of the stereotypical dwarf has always appealed to me. Dwarves are the fantastical representation of demiurges, workers of the chaos of the universe, transmuting the nothingness and divinity of ether in material substance. In Norse tradition, the dwarves of Nidavellir lived in caverns working magical forges. These Norse myths mingled their way into the fairy tradition of the England, in which elves, dwarves, and fairies seem to descend from outcast natives that sought refuge underground. The precise cultural identity of the Picti is quite complicated, and Lovecraft influenced Howard's writing by educating him on the influence of Mongoloid cultures.i


•i Howard, R. E. (2005). Bran Mak Morn The Last King. New York, N.Y., Del Rey Ballantine Books. p327

•ii Howard, R. E. (1996). Introduction, Bran Mak Morn. Riverdale, NY, BAEN. p ix

•iii Howard, R. E. (1931). The Dark Man. Weird Tales, Popular Fiction Publishing