Friday, December 6, 2013

Adventures in Pulp Culture: The Year in Review

This has been a great year for me in my ongoing quest to promote pulps and comics in cultural studies and I thought it might be a good time to take a look back at my 2013 escapades.

Let me start with a plug for my lastest publication that hit the shelves last month. My buddy Mark Finn and I co-wrote a exhaustive article entitled "Vaqueros and Vampires in the Pulps" discussing the weird westerns of Robert E. Howard and his role as a pioneer in that popular hybrid genre.

The article appears as the opening chapter of the collection Undead in the West II: They Just Keep Coming from Scarecrow Press. This is a really fun book -- not a dry academic tome -- with an introduction from the legendary SF author Willian Nolan (Logan's Run) and articles on Joe R. Lansdale, Stephen King, The Walking Dead, and other icons of the weird wacky west. Check it out here.

More after the jump.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Gouged Eyes and Chawed Ears: Breckinridge Elkins Video Podcast

My previous video podcast of my 2011 PCA/ACA presentation was well-received when I posted it earlier this year, so I've decided to give the same treatment to my 2012 paper. The subject is Robert E. Howard's humorous westerns featuring Breckinridge Elkins, looking at the ways in which Howard used violence as a comedic motif in the tradition of 19th century frontier humor. In particular I use the theme of rough-and-tumble fighting in the Breck stories as an example of this humorous violence. This presentation began as an essay in my first REHupa fanzine in 2010, then expanded into an article for REH: Two-Gun Raconteur #15, and finally revised again for PCA. Hope you all enjoy it.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Robert E. Howard Days 2013 Trip Report

REH Comics panel: Tim Truman, Al Harron, me, and Mark Finn

After a week-long adventure driving out to Cross Plains, Texas for Robert E. Howard Days 2013, I have finally put together a trip report. It is now posted over at the REH: Two-Gun Raconteur blog. Here's a little excerpt:

And with that, the crowd returned once more to the pavilion for the traditional drinking of Shiner Bocks and swappin’ of lies. A number of folks headed over to the front of the house for the poetry reading. I made the rounds for a bit, found Rusty, Chris, and Mark and finished off the rest of the Sullivan with a toast (Slainte!), then settled down to some good conversation. The highlight of the evening of course was the now-legendary no-holds-barred, rough-and-tumble set-to between REH boxing guru Chris Gruber and hall of fame martial artist Joe Lansdale. It was a grueling, brutal display of the manly art against the gentle way as the two locked horns and strove against each of other in a titanic battle of strength and technique. And who was the victor in this magnificent struggle? Well....

Head on over to the TGR site for the full write-up.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

La Reina de la Costa Negra: The Mystery of the Mexican Conan Comics

The latest iteration of the ongoing monthly Conan series from Dark Horse (written by Brian Wood) has received a great deal of praise from critics and readers alike for its fresh take on the iconic 80-year old barbarian. However, the series has had mixed reviews from the hardcore Robert E. Howard fans to say the least, and has been the subject of much hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth on various REH-related online communities. Wood's current adaptation of "Queen of the Black Coast" is certainly a different approach to the classic story than what most longtime Conan comics readers are used to. The classic adaptation by Roy Thomas and John Buscema was a legendary run in the 1970's, spanning over 40 issues in the main Marvel title and for many the image of Buscema's BĂȘlit with her fur mono-kini is iconic. But what few people realize is that nearly a quarter of a century before Marvel's "Queen of the Black Coast" and six decades before the current Dark Horse version, the classic story of Conan and his she-pirate lover had already made their comic book debut in an obscure, unauthorized Mexican publication.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

2013 PCA/ACA Pulp Studies Trip Report

This past week I attended the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association national conference in Washington, D.C. This was my third time presenting a paper on Robert E. Howard at PCA/ACA and the Pulp Studies area is growing every year. Shortly after arriving at the hotel on the first I found my partner in crime, Mark Finn. For those who don't know Mark is the author of Blood and Thunder, the best biography of Howard out there. We were soon joined by legendary Howard scholar and editor Rusty Burke. Rusty was the series editor for the Wandering Star/Del Rey definitive editions of Howard's stories. The three of us hit the pub, while we waited for the arrival of our fourth dog-brother, Chris Gruber. Grub is the foremost expert on Howard's boxing yarns, and the editor of Boxing Stories from the University of Nebraska Press. After a fairly restrained first night of drinking beer and swappin' lies, we turned in fairly early, knowing that we would have long day on Thursday and that we needed to pace ourselves.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Creating an Age Undreamed Of Video Podcast

This week I'll be headed to Washington, DC where I'll be chairing a Pulp Studies session at the 2013 PCA/ACA Conference. I'll be joined by my fellow Robert E. Howard aficionados, Mark Finn, Chris Gruber, and Rusty Burke. My paper will be on Howard's use of anthropological theory in his "Little People" stories like "Worms of the Earth."

In the meantime, I've gone back and taken my older 2011 PCA/ACA presentation and turned it into a video podcast. This is my first attempt at doing something like this and it's little more than me reading my paper over my powerpoint presentation, but hopefully some of you will find it interesting.

The topic is on Howard's use of the Atlantis theme in his fiction and looks at several of his sources in that regard. Much of this material would make it into my recent chapter in Conan Meets the Academy.

Video after the jump. Enjoy!