Monday, November 28, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
In the not long ago I read The Sorceror's Ship by Hannes Bok (1914-64), a gift. I was previously familiar with Bok as an artist and illustrator, known for his fantastic and grotesque horror, science fiction, and fantasy drawings and paintings (here's one good selection of the many online: http://monsterbrains.blogspot.com/2011/08/hannes-bok.html) . Such images as his iconically expressive stippled illustration for a reprint of H.P. Lovecraft's story Pickman's Model come readily to mind when thinking of Bok. In fact, until quite recently I was unaware that "Hannes Bok" (which is a shortened, alternate spelling of "Johannes Bach") was merely the nom de plume for one Wayne Francis Woodard, a fact which can be rapidly gathered when looking up Bok on the internets. Anyhoo, Bok is worthy of attention for his writing as well as his art.
The foreword by Lin Carter contains some charming reminiscences of Bok, describing him holding forth in his apartment in New York City (although he sounds as if he might have been a bit irritating to have been around). Curiously Carter describes a plot element of the novel as involving "a demigod as a passenger and a weird magic jewel for cargo." The back of the edition I have (Ballantine Books: 1969 -- I guess the one and only edition) contains the following quote from John W. Campbell: "....with a demigod as a passenger, and an enchanted jewel as cargo!" A basic rule for plagiarists: Don't borrow from another author whose words are printed on the same volume as yours. I'm assuming Campbell wrote his description first. The fantasy was first published in Campbell's magazine Unknown in December, 1942, according to Wikipedia.
The Sorceror's Ship is a nice, ethereal story with a classic "cold open" with a disoriented main character trying to figure out where the hell he is and what is happening. Bok's prose has hints of Dunsany's and Clark Ashton Smith's (and others') styles. The necromantic horrors toward the end are particularly reminiscent of Klarkash-ton's work. No doubt the plot, involving, among other things, a conflict between two rival islands, Athens-like Nanich and Spartan Koph, has some echoes of the geopolitical situation of the early 1940s.
The copy of Ship I have has a lacuna, missing pages 147-178, and has a double printing of the last pages, 179-205. It's not impossible to deduce what happens in the absent section, though.
Hannes Bok name generator: "Wolfgang Amadaeus Mozart" = "Wolfam Moz"
"Johannes Brahms" = "Hannes Bram"
"Ludwig Van Beethoven" = "Wigvan Bat"
Cover art by Ray Cruz.
Posted by Jonathan at 11:31 PM
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Here are a couple of the Gargoyles which overlook the Notre Dame. It is a wonderful church. Leave Tuesday for a trip thru the battle fields and old Hindenburgs head quarters We sail for NY or America (?) 215.00 Thurs (?) 5/29 Best (no signature)
Addressed to Albert N Combs, RR1- Lake Road, Milwaukie, Oregon USA
The reference to the battlefields and old Hindenburg date the card to not too long after World War One, of course, although I can't quite make out what the year might be from the postmark or handwriting. 1925?
Posted by Jonathan at 10:09 AM
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
While in the past I was a devoted reader of various comics, with special interest in undergrounds and horror comics such as the 70s DC titles Weird War, House of Mystery, and Swamp Thing, I haven't been as attuned to more recent developments in the field. Of late (outside of following the work of one or two people I know who are active artists, comics and otherwise) my main reading has been of the standard one to eight panels or so newspaper comics. Stephan Pastis' Pearls before Swine is a standout, as is Darby Conley's Get Fuzzy. Conley has his own weirdly intelligent type of references, as when he recently had a strip which assumes knowledge of Goya.
In another, one of the talking animals who doesn't quite get it (Satchel the dog, I think) confuses Eugene Onegin with the phone book for Eugene, Oregon.
Dilbert is always reassuringly and wickedly cynical. And Charles Schulz remains the
Trudeau seems to be spinning his wheels to some extent with his seasoned strip Doonesbury. His serial tends to be reactive, responding to the events of the day. This can cause a slightly unsettling phase delay, due to the lag in publishing. Paul Sorvino croaking as Kissinger in Oliver Stone's Nixon: Ve are playing a totally reactive game here. The Iraqistan (actually, mostly Afghanistan now) stuff seems to strain a little too much to be relevant. The cartoonist appears to think that merely mentioning high tech stuff is making some sort of point in itself -- as if merely showing someone tweeting on a smartphone is good enough. Pastis, in contrast, if he references contemporary communications, has a reason for so doing, as when he self-deprecatingly presents himself being savaged by bloggers.