Monday, 31 October 2011

Dark Ideas

"Daddy, I had a bad dream."
You blink your eyes and pull up on your elbows. Your clock glows red in the darkness—it's 3:23.
"Do you want to climb into bed and tell me about it?"
"No, Daddy."
The oddness of the situation wakes you up more fully. You can barely make out your daughter's pale form in the darkness of your room. "Why not, sweetie?"
"Because in my dream, when I told you about the dream, the thing wearing Mommy's skin sat up."
For a moment, you feel paralysed; you can't take your eyes off of your daughter. Then the covers behind you begin to shift…
- Bad Dream

There seems to be a subtle difference between terror and horror.  There are lots of horror stories, films, games and comics out there, rightly considered to be finely-tuned and crafted pieces of work.  But I can deal with horror.  The concept of werewolves, vampires, zombies, and the like can provide certain amounts of scares, for sure.  I loved the horror tales of Poe, Lovecraft, Machen, and the films of Carpenter, Dante, Miller and more.  But they don't always stay with me in quite the way others do.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Back again, Mr Herron?

Hee hee, this is fun.
Meanwhile, over in the World of Robert E. Howard Studies (or at least one encampment where skin-clad knuckle-draggers sit around and devour the latest issue of the Conan comic book in cannabalistic fashion — yum-yum, eat-em-up):

Oh noes, Don Herron is disparaging the faithful Lost Souls!  Good sir, I respect your pre-eminent authority in Howard scholarship, but this slight shall not go unanswered.  They may be skin-clad knuckle-dragging cannibals, but by thunder, they're my skin-clad knuckle-dragging cannibals!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

So what did you all think?

I really haven't been keeping up to date with my replies to comments, but hopefully this post will provide one I can't ignore: what did you think of Conan the Barbarian 2011?

I've already expressed my thoughts at ridiculous length, and frankly, I don't think they've changed much from my initial reaction. What little that was good in the film was swamped and consumed by everything that wasn't as good, and the infuriating thing is, it's easy to see why it went wrong.  Well, easy for this armchair analyst who really has no business talking about why a film flopped, but maybe a few shots in the dark will actually hit their target.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Video Interview with Clood

Oh, boy: Geeks of Doom put up a video interview with Becky Cloonan and Brian Wood.  While -ood has discussed some of his plans and ideas, Cloo- has been a bit quiet: it's good to hear from her.  In particular, she states her plans for Conan: he's going to be "sexier" and "prettier" than previous interpretations, with a particular aim at getting more female fans into the fold.

The more I see of Brian & Becky, the more excited I am about what they're up to... and the more apprehensive.  It's just... I've been burned so many times before, you know?

In any case, I suspect a few alarm bells might be ringing for some when Becky explains how her Conan will be prettier for the ladies.  Now, while I've explained why I don't think Conan should ever be thin, I don't have any objections to Conan being handsome.  There really is little to go on in the text regarding Conan's facial features beyond eye colour: all we really know is he has a "low, broad brow," "black brows," "thin lips," and a "scarred, almost sinister face."  In my estimation, Conan could be a neanderthalic brute or a Tall Dark Stranger.  My own interpretation of Conan has a lot of Sean Connery and Oliver Reed in him - definitely not Rudolph Valentino, but not Wallace Beery or Louis Wolheim either.

Just as long as we don't end up with Bishie Conan.  We don't want that.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Margaret Atwood talks Conan!?!

I meant to post this a while ago, but I prefer to stagger my posts so there's at most one or two a day.  In any case, I'm absolutely stunned by this: not only does Margaret Atwood have something to say about Conan... but that something is good.  Taran of One Last Sketch sent this interview along, and I'm quite impressed.  I'll try and get a transcript up and running, but be forewarned it's two minutes or so of Conan after a half-hour of other subjects, so don't expect this to be a Conan lecture: even so, I found the entire podcast very interesting.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

More from Clood on Conan

Io9 has an interview with Clood on "Queen of the Black Coast."  They certainly don't seem intimidated by fans, for they make a couple of pretty bold statements.  Do I agree or disagree?  Only one way to find out!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

The Lost Conan Adventures: "Queen of the Black Coast," Part 4

But That's Another Story
Every Conan story leaves a few loose ends before the end.  Sometimes they're obvious, like Olgerd Vladislav in "A Witch Shall Be Born": the last time we see him is his ominous ride into the desert.  Others are more subtle: the fate of Altaro, Orastes' acolyte in The Hour of the Dragon, is never explicated.  The roots of future adventures are ripe for exploitation, as Olgerd and Conan crossing paths once again could form the core of an entire story, while Altaro could be biding his time and consolidating his power for future malevolence.  Sometimes, it's as simple as wondering what happened when the story ended: what did Murillo get up to after "Rogues in the House"? Did Conan and Muriela go to Punt to continue their little con game after "The Servants of Bit-Yakin"?  Where did Conan take the Wastrel after "The Pool of the Black One"?

Friday, 21 October 2011

I'm still somewhat astonished that Don Herron has read my blog...

I deliberated over waiting to post this until February, so as to keep up my newly-appointed nickname "Lightin' Al," but I figure it'd be more fair to address things now than to let them fester.

I’m getting the distinct impression that good old Al Harron, over in the World of Robert E. Howard Studies, isn’t the fastest blade out of the scabbard. Back on February 11 I addressed some concerns he had raised about where I stood in the Howardian action, and I see that on October 17 he suddenly discovered that he had been answered.
If this had been a debate, people would have died of boredom in the interval.

Just as well this isn't a debate!  Then again, if I wasn't the fastest tortoise out of the scrub (hey, I can make my own metaphors), then Conan Movie Blog would be in a bit of a sorry state, only now bringing us the news of Jason Momoa's casting and shooting beginning in Bulgaria.  But then, that isn't really Robert E. Howard studies related.

But in answer to a couple of Al’s “points” — the idea that we couldn’t possibly be related in any way because our last names are spelled Herron vs. Harron indicates someone who isn’t familiar with names or how inconsistent they have been historically. While I don’t have the time or interest to explore the issue today, within my own family my father was one of eight siblings — half of those brothers and sisters spelled the last name “Herron” and the rest spelled it “Herren,” and I met some cousins once who spelled it “Herrin.” I have some Scots roots (Al is over in Scotland), so don’t regard his statement as in any way definitive.

Evidently my light-hearted quotation from The Simpsons went over like a lead balloon, and was taken to be an definitive statement on my belief on genealogy.  That's what I get for not sourcing my attempted cartoon references.

Al’s only 27 years of age at this point, so he hasn’t been around the block much as yet (though by that age I had written “Conan vs. Conantics” already and duked it out with L. Sprague de Camp in the letter column of Two-Gun Raconteur, so I probably expect more out of potential Howard critics than most people).

My block perambulation deficiencies are more pronounced considering I hadn't begun studying Howard seriously until around 2007, having only discovered REH in earnest in the late 2000s after an adolescence dominated by science fiction.  So if I haven't created a defining piece like Conan vs Conantics, well, I can happily say it's because I'm not Don Herron, and I dare say few people ever will be Don Herron.  I can only assume that what I have written on The Cimmerian and here has left Mr Herron wanting in terms of Howard criticism.  Ah well, not much I can do about that except try harder. That said, it's kind of hard for me to duke it out with de Camp on account of him currently being indisposed, and there isn't really a comparable figure with whom to duke in current Howardom.  Leaves me in a bit of a spot.

Then there’s the idea that Al doesn’t get that I get it. It might be the American vernacular throwing him, but who in Western Civilization doesn’t understand the concept of What Have You Done For Me Lately???
I guess we can put Al on that list. . . .

Oh dear, another failure of communication on my part.  What I was trying to say, in my roundabout way, was that I couldn't understand how Don could interpret my bemoaning his absence as a criticism, that I felt some sense of betrayal or defection from the Shieldwall, when in fact I felt nothing of the sort.  Thus, my lack of understanding of "What Have You Done For Me Lately???" isn't in reference to the phrase itself, but the application.  I get that he gets it, I just don't get how he got it from this instance.

And somewhere in those long months I do recall Al taking the side of Professor Frank Coffman in a little dust-up I had with him — my only advice, Al, is that no one who really knows Howard Studies would ever side with Frank over me about anything. Honest.

I can't really talk about the background of the kerfuffle, but suffice to say, I place more stock in making up my own mind and being proven wrong, than taking someone's word for it and being right by proxy.  That said, I've disagreed with Frank and I've disagreed with Don on various myriad details and sticking points, and I'm likely to continue to do so.  I don't particularly want to be on anyone's side: if there's anything reading the Lion's Den has taught me, it's that I'm not interested in making enemies among Howardom, when Howard studies has enough to contend with - far less than in previous decades, for sure, but no reason to be complacent.

Nonetheless, I do have rapturous news, for Don actually compliments me on a post I made!  Me!  Al Harron!  Oh fraptious day, calloo, callay!

But I must compliment Al on another recent post he did — very funny, and spot on — concerning the upcoming book of essays Conan Meets the Academy, where the initial blurb says flat-out that it is the first scholarly investigation of Conan. The only way you could suggest that it is “first” would be if you consider the idea that the essays are written by academics (including Professor Frank) and that only professors can do litcrit (some people apparently believe that — the poor saps, the poor deluded saps). To me, it just looks as if the profs are cribbing the pattern that L. Sprague de Camp used in books such as The Conan Reader, The Blade of Conan, and The Sword of Conan — sorry, academics, but it’s been done, decades ago.

Seriously, I'm thrilled to bits.  It might be hard for Don to understand, but being a young Howard fan, I still hold his generation of Howard scholars to a somewhat mythical pedestal.  Going to Cross Plains and meeting individuals like Rusty Burke, Mark Finn, Damon Sasser, Dennis McHaney, Bill Cavalier, Rob Roehm, Frank Coffman and more felt - if you'll indulge in a bit of hyperbole - a bit like I was Jason appearing on the playing board of the Olympians in Jason and the Argonauts.  All I could do was look up in wide-eyed wonder at these people that seemed so tall and huge to me - literally in Rusty Burke's case - and I felt like, "what am I doing here?"

Since that first Scottish invasion of Cross Plains, the veil of mystery and awe surrounding those scholars has dissipated, but like the wizard beyond the Great and Powerful Oz, the humans behind the gods are no less intelligent and wise: I felt less like a lowly mortal, and more like an aspiring champion.  But Don's taking me to task reminds me not to rest on my laurels: I still have a long way to go.

The Lost Conan Adventures: "Queen of the Black Coast," Part 3

Weaving a Tapestry
Just as any one story can inspire future adventures, sometimes a story can be tied into earlier or later tales in Conan's life. Howard would develop the reference to Conan's adventures as Amra of the Black Corsairs in "The Scarlet Citadel" into an entire story, "Queen of the Black Coast."  "The Phoenix on the Sword" has references to Conan's thieving in Zamora, fighting with the Æsir, and as a mercenary soldier would be expanded into "The Tower of the Elephant," "The Frost-Giant's Daughter," and "Black Colossus."  Other examples are more abstract: Conan's reference to having seen "death strike a king in the midst of thousands" may technically apply to a previous story, or it could be an original adventure.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Lost Conan Adventures: "Queen of the Black Coast," Part 2

Stories Within The Story
Howard's economy of writing meant that a great deal could be described in a few words, but there are times when one could imagine any number of things happening. Sometimes, it's a few months condensed into a paragraph, as frequently happened in The Hour of the Dragon; others, entire years go by between chapters, most famously in "Queen of the Black Coast." Other possibilities include what happens to other characters over the course of a tale, explanations for seemingly incongruous anomalies or plot holes, reconciliations with other stories - anything.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Lost Conan Adventures: "Queen of the Black Coast," Part 1

The Tigress ranged the sea, and the black villages shuddered. Tom-toms beat in the night, with a tale that the she-devil of the sea had found a mate, an iron man whose wrath was as that of a wounded lion. And survivors of butchered Stygian ships named Bêlit with curse, and a white warrior with fierce blue eyes; so the Stygian princes remembered this man long and long, and their memory was a bitter tree which bore crimson fruit in the years to come.
But heedless as a vagrant wind, the Tigress cruised the southern coasts, until she anchored at the mouth of a broad sullen river, whose banks were jungle-clouded walls of mystery.
 - "Queen of the Black Coast," The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, p129

Perhaps more than any other Conan tale, "Queen of the Black Coast" is the one most ripe for expansion.  In a way, it's actually two tales in one: the story of Conan's first meeting with Bêlit, and the story of their last adventure.  An entire saga could be spun between the first chapter and the rest of the yarn, and Conan's time among the corsairs is one of the most commonly referenced periods in other Conan stories.  It seems clear that Conan's time with Bêlit was a significant and lengthy period of his youth, and there are copious clues which could be teased into the legend of Amra and the She-Devil.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Lost Conan Adventures: Introduction

This is part of yet another new series I'd been working on in the background, but the announcement that Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan would be working on "Queen of the Black Coast" galvanized me into action. While Wood emphasises that most of the 25 issues will be used to fill out the 2 years between "Queen of the Black Coast"'s "bookends," he shouldn't forget that Howard provided enough inspiration to fill an entire saga within the tale itself.  I guess I'm just hoping that if either Wood or Cloonan are reading what the rabid REH fanboys are writing about their comic, then they'll either take some of the ideas I bring up here into the comic, or that they've already come up with them.  Some elements might have been already used by Roy Thomas in either the past Marvel comics, or even in the recent Road of Kings arc: some might not be used at all.  All I can do is get my thoughts out there, so I can say that I did.

So, here's my latest Toad-of-Toad-Hall Mania.  I'd already done a lot of these in-between the Encyclopedia, but I figure it would be a good time to bump up this particular entry.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Eh, some people aren't cut out for detective work.

Better late than never: glib, but necessary, I think.

Remember a while back I talked about how great Don Herron was, how I felt his work was fantastic, and that it was a major influence on my paddling into the deeper waters of Howardom?  And I even made a little Where on Earth is Don Herron cartoon, to complement Damon Sasser's Where in the World is Don Herron?*  Well, I don't know how I didn't notice this the first time around, but the man himself formed a response. I'm not entirely sure how to feel about it.

 “Where on Earth is Don  Herron?” asked Al Harron (no relation, or none that I know of — I have been remiss in my geneaological studies the last few years) on his blog just last month.

I don't think so sir, we pronounce and spell our names differently.  Sorry, tangent.  Anyway...

Damon dealt with my physical whereabouts and activities, but Al was more concerned with seeing — or not seeing —my name specifically in connection with Robert E. Howard Studies. Yeah, What Have You Done for Me Lately? I get it.
The way I look at it, if I never do another word about the creator of Conan, my rep in that arena is secure. The Dark Barbarian. The Barbaric Triumph. “Conan vs. Conantics.” To name only a few. Maybe Al is experiencing withdrawal symptoms after the excellent REH magazine The Cimmerian closed up shop — I appeared in those pages almost every issue.

"I get it?"  Well that makes one of us... If I gave any impression that I was resentful or even vaguely irritated by the lack of new Don Herron material, then I apologise, because it was surely not my intent.  I just think it would be, you know, cool to see him back, like how I think it would be cool to see Leo and others back.  They don't have to come back, and I don't feel they have some sort of obligation to Howardom.  It would just be cool.

At the moment, you don’t see any activity in Howard studies equal to the run of The Cimmerian, but for what action there is I think I’m keeping my gunhand in. Last summer I did a review (a pretty funny review) for Damon’s annual issue of Two-Gun Raconteur, and have another long review (also funny) coming up this summer.  I’ve got two pieces being prepped for a couple of other Howard-related projects. And if I am not recognised enough for all the work I do on the side with advice and so on, let me at least inform Al that last year I made no less than two excursions up to Sacramento to drink Jack Daniels with J. Dan Price, the only begotten son of pulp great E. Hoffmann Price, because Rob Roehm wanted to get permission to use some of Ed Price’s letters in a volume he is working on about Doc Howard. 

Cool.  I'm really glad to know that.  Even though I'm only discovering it 10 months later due to me being, shall we say, extremely inconsistent in my thoroughness.

And I don’t know how a Robert E. Howard fan could miss them, but I also stepped in to introduce the two volumes of Two-Gun’s pulp detective and weird menace tales just published by The Robert E. Howard Foundation. My copies rolled in a couple of days ago. 150 copy print runs for each, sold out by publication, but second printings are in the pipeline. I toss in some nice remarks about Hammett, track down an influence that got me on the road to writing books-about-books — my usual. And the intros are in hardcover editions of Robert E. Howard.

Honest, I don’t think my presence is that hard to detect in Howard studies, if you’ve got any detective skills at all.
Hey, I never claimed to be a gumshoe, mack!  I have a hard enough time with Cluedo and choose-your-own-adventure books!

Don has a point, though: how did I miss his presence in Steve Harrison's Casebook and Weird Menace?  Mostly because I don't have them.  I'd like to think I'm a Robert E. Howard fan, certainly, but there are various factors that are too preposterous and silly to recount in detail, mostly financial and quite a few technological, which mean that I haven't bought an awful lot from the Foundation.  Most of my purchases have been in person, where I physically handed over currency and bundled the books into my suitcase.  Combined with not exactly having a disposable budget, I simply don't have enough money to splash out on even fairly affordable hardbacks like those, especially when shipping costs come into play.

For this reason, I actively shied away from reading much about those two volumes after the initial announcement specifically because I didn't want to torment myself more.  I'd already torn my heart out on missing Collected Poetry due to my monetary and mechanical gremlins, and I really didn't want to torture myself over being unable to read the restored(ish) version of "Black John's Vengeance."  All I knew at the time, and for quite a long time after that, was the story contents, and that's all I was willing to know at that point.

However, I did learn later, probably in the lead up to Howard Days, about Don's introductions - and at Howard Days, I found his contribution to Dreams in the Fire. I was pleasantly surprised to see his name, and frankly, it was as if he never left.  Mostly because, as he stated above, he never really did.  But even with my absent-mindedness, it was nice to see his name in print hot off the press, however late I was in recognizing it. Again, better late than never.

And do you know what? It was cool.

*If you don't get it, I equated Damon's original post Where in the World is Don Herron with Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego: naturally, I felt compelled to make my own version, by utilizing the Saturday morning cartoon spinoff Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego as inspiration for my own spinoff.  Not to mention the logo.  So any connection to Damon's post is completely intentional.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan take on "Queen of the Black Coast"

Hey, at least it isn't *technically* "What is best in life?"

Oh, gigantic happenings are afoot.  The new team for "Queen of the Black Coast" will be Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan (hitherto referred to as Clood) working together with a 25-issue story arc!

If you never thought of picking up and reading Conan because it just wasn’t your style, then think again!
Dark Horse Comics is proud to announce a new era of Conan. Conan the Barbarian is a perfect jumping-on point for new readers—a bold, fresh take on the Cimmerian from the visionary creative team of writer Brian Wood (DMZNorthlanders) and artist Becky Cloonan (DemoPixu)!
Wood and Cloonan will have Conan breaking hearts . . . and breaking faces!
In this sweeping adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s “Queen of the Black Coast,” the most-requested Conan adaptation, Conan turns his back on the civilized world and takes to the high seas alongside the pirate queen Bêlit, setting the stage for an epic of romance, terror, and swashbuckling. This is Conan as you’ve never seen him, and with the combination of one of Robert E. Howard’s greatest tales and the most dynamic creative team in comics, there has never been a better time to start reading!
Conan the Barbarian is on sale February 8, 2012.

This is pretty big news for a number of reasons. First of all, 25 issues is the longest arc I can recall Dark Horse's Conan ever undertaking, and likely to stretch across multiple trades.  Secondly, Clood are Indy darlings: both are famed for their work in decidedly offbeat comics, not like Busiek's Astro City or Truman's other work.

I'm incredibly nervous. "Queen of the Black Coast" is, in my opinion, one of the five big Conan stories: that is, stories that are most valuable in getting an insight into the mind of Conan, the tone of the Hyborian Age, and Howard's own psyche.  It's incredibly important to get it right, and if you're going to commit to a 25-issue run, you'd better make sure they have the right people for the job.

Have Dark Horse chosen wisely?

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Friday, 14 October 2011

On Red Sonja, Power Girl and good sexy female characters

I don't tend to talk that much about sexuality on the blog, though I have spoken on gender issues in the past. In the recent craziness regarding Starfire's new look, history and personality in the rebooted DC universe, I was thinking about how many Conan fans might have felt marginalized when Red Sonja went from this:

To this:

Man, imagine if this happened nowadays.  Contemplate the outrage roaring across the internet!

Of course, things have changed substantially since the 1970s, and neither Red Sonja nor her mail byrnie were nearly as long-lived or established as Starfire and her character, but I wonder if there are some who saw Barry Smith's Sonja, thought "Wow, a female warrior that wears armour and is treated as Conan's equal, I can't wait to see more of her!" only to be treated to "Day of the Sword," where it's revealed that Sonja only got her powers through divine pity after she was raped by bandits, and she traded in her byrnie for a metal bikini.  Maroto's bikini was considered one of the elements which kick-started Sonja's rise to stardom, with a lot of enthusiasm from the young males crowd, but I can't help but wonder how different history would've been if Thomas decided to just stick to the byrnie.  Would Sonja have become as obscure as other Marvel Conan creations, or would her unique personality and status as a female comics character who wears upper body armour be enough?  Does it really matter what she wears if she still has the same origin story?  Who knows.

Anyway, the furore has resulted in many comics writers commentating on the whole "sex and women in comics" situation...

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

"It's your scholarship, Bobbie! Something's got to be done about your scholarship!"

With The Evolutionary Heroes of Robert E. Howard still on the horizon and more and more academically-minded folks recognizing Howard's scholarly virtues, it's with great enthusiasm that I announce the latest of the Shieldwall's assaults against the ivory towers of Academia who yet deny the Man from Cross Plains' merits as a Real Author of Real Literature - Conan Meets the Academy: Multidisciplinary Essays on the Enduring Barbarian. The press release is excellent, as a somewhat tongue-in-cheek, cheerful explanation of Howard's Conan being more than just a dimwitted brute:

Conan Meets the Academy
Multidisciplinary Essays on the Enduring Barbarian

Edited by Jonas Prida

Print ISBN: 978-0-7864-6152-3
EBook ISBN: 978-0-7864-8989-3
5 maps, 2 photos, tables, notes, bibliography, index
softcover (6 x 9) 2012

Buy Now!

Price: $35.00
Not Yet Published, Available Spring/Summer 2012 About the Book
In 1932, Robert E. Howard penned a series of fantasy stories featuring Conan, a hulking Cimmerian warrior who roamed the mythical Hyborian Age landscape engaging in heroic adventures. More than the quirky manifestation of Depression-era magazines, Conan the Barbarian has endured as a cultural mainstay for over 70 years. This multidisciplinary collection offers the first scholarly investigation of Conan, from Howard’s early stories, through mid-century novels and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s iconic films, to the 2011 cinematic remake of Conan the Barbarian. Drawing on disciplines such as stylometry, archeology, cultural studies, folklore studies, and literary history, the essays examine statistical analyses of Conan texts, the literary genesis of Conan, later-day parodies, Conan video games, and much more. By displaying the wide range of academic interest in Conan, this volume reveals the hidden scholarly depth of this seemingly unsophisticated fictional character.
About the Author
Jonas Prida is an assistant professor of English and head of the English Department at the College of St. Joseph, in Rutland, Vermont.

Looks great!  Can't wait for its release, and to find out more about its contents. But there's something bothering me that I can't quite put my finger on... Wait...

This multidisciplinary collection offers the first scholarly investigation of Conan

What the...

"Aly!  You've got to come back with me - back to the future!

Whoa there, Doc, you want 8-year-old Aly, I'll just get him:


"Doc, I got my older self's Robert E. Howard Foundation award here, I was just going to try out my new victory pose!"

"Well, bring it along, it concerns it too!"

"What do you mean?  What happens?  Does something happen to Robert E. Howard?  Does he get erased from existence?"

"No, you and Robert E. Howard turn out fine: it's the scholarship, Aly!  Something's gotta be done about the scholarship!"

"According to my theory, someone interfered with Glenn Lord's discovery of Howard's work. If Glenn doesn't read it, he won't read any more Howard, he won't start The Howard Collector and he won't open the gates to Robert E. Howard scholarship - no Dark Barbarian, no Blood & Thunder, no Echos de Cimmerie, no Evolutionary Heroes, not even The Robert E. Howard Reader! That's why your copy of The Barbaric Triumph's disappearing from that photograph. The fanzines will follow, and unless you repair the damage, your Foundation Award'll be next!"

"Sounds pretty heavy, Doc!"

"Weight has nothing to do with it."

"You're right, I don't know why I used a popular idiom to illustrate my feelings to an absent-minded professor. To the Delorean!"

*I should point out that just after I posted this, Agent Theagenes posted this on the REH Forums:

I brought up that problematic sentence with Jonas this morning after I saw it and there is some discussion underway right now about changing it. His intent was not to diss all of the previous REH scholarship, but to point out that this is the first study of Conan as an over-all pop culture figure---not just Howard's Conan. But the sentence is poorly worded---hopefully it won't be much of a problem to get it changed.

So that's cleared up, but dammit, I just watched Back to the Future with my cousin and infant second-cousin for the first time (theirs, not mine) and I'm still buzzing from the fun of it.

** I should also point out that this was also partially inspired by my recognition of Glenn Lord's impending 80th birthday.  I truly hope to meet him someday, though due to his health and age and my wet-behind-the-ears level of experience in Texas, time is running out.  Unfortunately, I don't have a Delorean.

*** Damon Sasser alerted me to another rupture in the space-time continuum, as Doc and 8-year-old Aly inadvertently created a universe where Glenn Lord's journal was called The Howard Reader rather than The Howard Collecter. Luckily the original timeline has been restored, or my name isn't Al Rudiger Cunningham.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Vindication is hollow indeed

So it turns out that not only is Real Steel getting more than a few great reviews, but Richard Matheson himself liked it.

IGN Movies: What have you seen of Real Steel so far? Have they shown you the entire picture?

Richard Matheson: Yeah, they brought over a copy of the film here. It's a wonderful piece of work. [Director] Shawn Levy did a really outstanding job.

GN: Would you say that you're satisfied with it as an overall adaptation of your story?

Matheson: Yeah. As is the case of I Am Legend, they never followed my stories precisely, but they do a decent job of adaptation. I don't mind that. In this case, they did such a wonderful job. Shawn Levy did such an amazing job. I was very pleased.

IGN: How did you feel about some of the changes made, such as the introduction of the relationship between the father and son? That's not in the other versions.

Matheson: No, that's not in my story at all. My son and I, we've just adapted a novel of mine that came out some years ago called Journal of the Gun Years, and because it was too long, it would make a six-hour film. We had to truncate it, which we did, and it doesn't bother us to do it as long as we hold onto the flavor of the original.

IGN: And you feel that Real Steel captures that essence?

Matheson: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

IGN: I ask because I was curious if you felt concerned that by introducing a father/son relationship it might detract from Hugh Jackman's character's relationship with the robot.

Matheson: No, I believe it was well done. I can't really cavil with it.

Matheson also talks about past adaptations of his work, particularly his long-documented dislike of What Dreams May Come and The Omega Man, as well as discussing the genesis of "Steel."

This is the point where I think "there, now can we PLEASE stop calling this Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots: The Movie, people," but then the horrible truth dawns on me: they will never stop calling this Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots: The Movie.  They won't.