Musings and Mumbling on What I Read and Watch and Listen To.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Return to the Golden Age with Tales from the Hanging Monkey
Tales of the Gold Monkey only lasted one season in the early 1980s, but the series has developed a steady cult following in the years since its brief network run. Dismissed as nothing more than an inferior small screen knockoff of the contemporaneous Raiders of the Lost Ark, the series has finally started to earn the recognition denied it at the time. While it took a Hollywood blockbuster to convince network executives to green-light the series, the proposal had been around since the 1970s and the show was conceived, like Raiders, in homage to the serials and classic adventure stories of the past.
As much as Republic Pictures cliffhangers were an inspiration and the tall shadow cast by Humphrey Bogart in the classic Treasure of the Sierra Madre undeniably fell upon both properties, the longstanding tradition of South Seas adventures from James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific to the fondly-remembered Adventures in Paradise series from the Golden Age of Television left an even more indelible mark on Tales of the Gold Monkey. The concept of a bar in an exotic location which serves as a literal and moral crossroads for travelers, expatriates, and fugitives had its roots in Casablanca and Old Time Radio’s nearly forgotten Rocky Jordan series. Tales of the Gold Monkey’s pedigree and neo-pulp credentials establish it as far more than just another Indiana Jones clone as the short-sighted and uninformed wags of the day insisted. Similarly 30 years later, the newly published South Seas adventures anthology, Tales from the Hanging Monkey is more than just an imitation of the 1980s cult series whose title it recalls.
The exotic South Seas bar serving as the nexus for the adventures of strangers whose paths would never otherwise cross is present here as much as it was in numerous Golden Age scripts, but Bill Craig has created something enchanting that is at once familiar and pleasingly fresh. The delights of New Pulp works such as this one are similar to discovering an OTR series you’ve never heard of and wondering why it isn’t better known. Craig’s anthology and the stories he and his fellow authors have crafted here are a perfect evocation of the simpler, cleaner, thrilling, unambiguous world of the first half of the last century. There’s an unmistakable sense of innocence and fun about the book that puts you in mind of what your parents or grandparents must have felt when they were young and whiling away a Saturday afternoon in a crowded movie house or sitting before the crackling radio speaker in the front room with the whole family gathered around on a quiet evening.
TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE VISIT THE BLACK GATE ON FRIDAY.
I was licensed by Sax Rohmer's Literary Estate to continue the Fu Manchu thrillers. THE TERROR OF FU MANCHU was published in 2009 and was a Pulp Factory Awards nominee for Best Pulp Novel. THE DESTINY OF FU MANCHU was published in April 2012.
My short fiction has appeared in THE RUBY FILES (2012/Airship 27), GASLIGHT GROETESQUE (2009/EDGE Publishing), TALES OF THE SHADOWMEN (2009/Black Coat Press), and LES COMPAGNONS DE L'OMBRE (2010/Riviere Blanche) and in the magazine, Van Helsing's Journal.
I am a former weekly columnist for The Cimmerian and am currently a weekly columnist for The Black Gate. My articles have been published in the magazines Blood 'n' Thunder, Van Helsing's Journal, and The Official Magazine of The Peter Sellers Appreciation Society. I was very honored to be nominated for a Rondo Award for Best Article of 2010 for a contribution to Van Helsing's Journal.
I recently collaborated with Tom Bleecker on the screenplay adaptation of his new novel, TEA MONEY. Still to come is THE OCCULT CASE BOOK OF SHANKAR HARDWICKE (a collection of short fiction featuring an original Edwardian detective) and a hardboiled detective novel, LAWHEAD.