The Weirdness of WerthamInAction

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Any comics fans out there remember the fabled year of 2015? If you were keeping an eye on four-colour fandom at the time, you will have noticed that it was a prime time for controversy. Debates raged over a Batgirl variant cover; Breitbart was slagging off the female Thor; and Wonder Woman was using the word “mansplaining”. Amid all of this controversy, Gamergate was trying to bleed out into Comicgate.

It was under this climate that a new community sprung up on Reddit, bearing the name of WerthamInAction – a title that combines the name of 1950s anti-comic crusader Fredric Wertham with that of the Gamergate community KotakuInAction. Its mission statement is as follows:

This subreddit tracks and discusses attempts to smear, intimidate, censor, culturally appropriate, ethically corrupt, or otherwise harm the comic book industry and culture, specifically such attempts by the SJW hate movement. These attempts are collectively known as #ComicGate.

The biracial Spider-Man controversy, the female Captain Marvel controversy, the Muslim Ms. Marvel controversy, the Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman controversy, the Spider-Woman variant cover controversy, the female Thor controversy, the Batgirl variant cover controversy (a.k.a. the #ChangeTheCover/#DontChangeTheCover/#SaveTheCover/#WeWantThisCover/#CoverGate controversy), and similar issues are welcome. These should all be considered under the #ComicGate umbrella term.

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Space Opera Archeology: E. E. Smith and The Skylark of Space

“She flies! She flies, dearest, like a ray of light for speed and like a bit of thistledown for lightness. We’ve been around the moon!”

—Richard Seaton, The Skylark of Space

amazing_stories_192808In the first post in this series I took a look at Edmond Hamilton’s Interstellar Patrol stories. Now, it’s time for another space opera that commenced publication in August 1928: The Skylark of Space, written by Edward Elmer Smith partly in collaboration with Lee Hawkins Garby. The former went on to write the influential Lensman series under the name of E. E. “Doc” Smith, but the latter vanished from the field.

Sam Moskowitz’s book Seekers of Tomorrow goes into detail about the background to the novel. The spark of inspiration occurred back in 1915, when Smith was discussing outer space with Lee Hawkins Garby’s husband, Carl. The conversation caught the imagination of Lee Garby, who suggested that Smith write a novel based on some of the ideas discussed. Smith was comfortable writing a scientific adventure, but got cold feet at the idea of writing a convincing romantic subplot, which he felt would be necessary to the story; and so Lee Garby agreed to act as co-writer, providing the requisite love interest.

The two finished roughly a third of the story in 1916 before losing interest. It was not until 1919 that Smith picked up the project again, this time without the direct involvement of Garby. Although he completed the story in 1920, it received an overwhelmingly negative reaction from potential publishers – hence why it did not see print until 1928, when Amazing Stories began serialising it across three issues. The novel edition, published in 1946, had significant revisions; I’m basing this post on the original magazine version.

Continue reading “Space Opera Archeology: E. E. Smith and The Skylark of Space

How I Spent September 2017

DorisSep17I find m6yself typing this post on a dodgy library co6mputer that keeps adding fi5ves,= sixes and equals signs to 6my words,= and instead of going through the hassle of fixing it=, I’m6 going to leav5e it as it is. BEHOLD THE TESTAMENT TO DODGY KEYBOARDS. (I notice that typing in all caps seem6s to sort it out. Huh.)

Anyway,= Septem6ber was another m6ellow m6onth for 6me. I spent it in m6y usual routine of reading=, writing, and going on weekly trips to the cinem6a (Detroit,= The Lim6ehosue Golem6,= Kingsm6an 2 and Lucky Logan). My 6main endeav5our has been getting started on preparing som6e horror-them6ed articles for October. I’5ve got a bu6mper crop co6ming along and no m6istake…

Articles published elsewhere this m6onth:

Article topics for October and beyond:

October2017

Space Opera Archeology: Edmond Hamilton and the Interstellar Patrol

“I, Zan Zanat, resolved to do what none ever had done, to explore the cosmic cloud’s interior.”

—Zan Zanat, “The Cosmic Cloud”

weird_tales_192902Lately I’ve been doing a deep-dive into the history of the space opera genre. The term “space opera” was coined in 1941 (as a pejorative) but an earlier, more significant date in the genre’s history was August 1928, a month that saw the publication three significant works: Edmond Hamilton’s “Crashing Suns” (in Weird Tales), the first instalment of E. E. Smith’s The Skylark of Space (in Amazing Stories) and Philip Francis Nowlan’s “Armageddon 2419 A.D”, starring an early incarnation of Buck Rogers (also Amazing).

I’ll start by looking at “Crashing Suns”. This was the first of Hamilton’s eight Interstellar Patrol stories, which were published in Weird Tales between 1928 and 1934; aside form the novel-length Outside the Universe, all were short stories. Five of the stories were collected in a 1965 paperback, also called Crashing Suns. I’m basing the post on this book, and off the top of my head I can’t confirm if there are any differences between the stories as republished in 1965 and the original Weird Tales editions.

Continue reading “Space Opera Archeology: Edmond Hamilton and the Interstellar Patrol”

On Amazing Stories Issue 10

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My issue-by-issue overview of Amazing Stories has reached 1927! Journey ninety years into the past and discover such long-forgotten stories as “The Man with the Strange Head”. Plus: the first instalment of Amazing‘s regular letter column, where you will encounter people getting grumpy about scientific inaccuracies and somebody who thinks the main character in one of the stories is a real person.

 

September 2017 Belladonna Issue Now Available!

BelladonnaSep17Do you smell something? Could it be the smell of some fresh, new Belladonna…?

Yes, there’s a new Belladonna issue out. This time around your humble Honeys discuss their favourite Final Girls and high school horror flicks; Monster Honey Sarah reviews Tragedy Girls; Guest Honey Nicole offers her take on the novels of Jeff Menapace; celebrates the recent Musical Horror Honey Brittany charts the curious history of Reefer Madness; Gamer Honey Jess plays Shadow Warrior; Head Honey LinnieSarah says goodbye to HBO’s The Leftovers and educates us on Kevin Costner’s erotic thrillers; (other) Head Honey Kat compares The Fifth Element to Luc Besson’s latest, Valerian; and multi-talented cover star Nowal “Goldie Goodnight” Massari submits to a Q&A session. And, of course, we celebrate the recent resurgence of creepy clowns with Classics Honey Samantha’s look at the Lon Chaney classic He Who Gets Slapped and Supernatural Honey Kim’s take on Clowntergeist. There’s still more besides!

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Seriously, if there’s nothing here that appeals to you, you must be the illegitimate offspring of Fredric Wertham and Mary Whitehouse.

As always, my personal fiefdom is Belladonna‘s comics section. This month I’ve reviewed Natasha Alterici’s Heathen and the first title from the new Hammer line, The Mummy: Palimpsest.

Also on offer is the latest instalment of my comic Midnight Widows. This is actually a sad moment for me, as it marks the last instalment to be pencilled by the talented Rosie Wing, who is off for pastures new. Visit her on Patreon, Twitter or Facebook and wish her the best of luck for her future endeavours!

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Spot the Easter egg reference to a famous silent horror film.

Inker-colourist Marcela Hauptvogelova is still on board, and starting next month I’ll be jamming with her to create more adventures for Edith, Kateryna and Gabriela.

So, if you want to check out the latest bloody bounty of Belladonna, head on over to the official website or to MagCloud to pick up your copy.