Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Shadow of Fu Manchu Falls Upon Me Once More

Without Fu Manchu in my life, I would never have started down the path of penning these articles. One thing I was certain of was that there were no more surprises. I had found ever official appearance of Sax Rohmer’s master villain and would, in due course, cover all of them in this blog eventually. So it seems appropriate that in this the year that marks the centennial of the first Fu Manchu novel, my 200th article covers a hitherto unknown official piece of Fu Manchu history. A few weeks ago, I attended Classicon in Michigan and convention organizer, Ray Walsh handed me the January 1933 issue of Movie Mirror with Joan Bennet on the cover. The second feature was The Mask of Fu Manchu by Sax Rohmer. I suspected it was an unknown excerpt from the book and was intrigued I hadn’t been aware that it had turned up in print. What the issue actually contained was something far more valuable: an 11-page “fictionization” of the 1932 MGM film starring Boris Karloff and Myrna Loy, fully illustrated with stills from the film, some of which were quite rare. The adaptation was credited to Constance Brighton, an author I have found no other information concerning which makes me suspect the name is a pseudonym. TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE VISIT THE BLACK GATE TOMORROW.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Forgotten Pulp Villains: Hanoi Shan and Professor Colonna

For twenty years now, George Vanderburgh’s Battered Silicon Dispatch Box has been publishing quality hardcover and trade paperback reprints of titles one might never otherwise discover. Their books rarely appear on Amazon or eBay, so the devoted bibliophile who ven-tures to is among the few to find such treasures. Initially focusing on Sherlockian pastiches and scholarly efforts as well as reprinting long unavailable titles from Arkham House and Mycroft & Moran, BSDB has broadened their catalog to include other more obscure treasures. Their two most recent titles are The Crimes of Hanoi Shan by H. Ashton-Wolfe and The Last of the Borgias by Fred M. White. Both books were edited by acclaimed pulp historian Rick Lai whose own works were spotlighted in last week’s column. To Continue Reading This Article, Please Visit The Black Gate Tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Rick Lai and the Secret Histories of Pulp Fiction

Some readers find the literary game of treating fictional characters and their worlds as real to be off-putting. It has certainly delighted, confounded, and divided Sherlockians for decades. The Wold Newton approach merely added a new wrinkle by suggesting a fabric woven between various works could form a patchwork that is more fascinating than the individual pieces. From my own perspective, I have always been less concerned with the conclusions drawn than I am by the value of the scholarship involved. Rick Lai has done more than I could ever hope to repay by inspiring my own fiction and provoking thoughts on literary titles I thought I knew inside out or had initially disregarded as trivial. The more one delves into Lai’s speculative studies, the more one finds avenues missed and new paths down familiar roads. Unsurprisingly, Lai’s research sparked his own creativity. Reading the two Secret Histories volumes from Altus Press inevitably suggests that someone could or should take Lai’s theories and present them in story form. Appropriately enough, Lai has begun to do just that with the Shadows of the Opera trilogy and its companion trilogy, Sisters of the Shadows. Wild Cat Books published the first volume, The Mark of the Revenant in 2011 with Black Coat Press picking up the second installment, Retribution in Blood and the first companion volume, The Cagliostro Curse for publication this year. TO ENJOY THE ENTIRE ARTICLE, PLEASE VISIT THE BLACK GATE ON FRIDAY.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Jack Ripcord and the Evolution of Pulp

Pulp fiction is alive and well in the new millennium as a niche market fed by reprints of classic pulps, revivals of countless public domain properties, licensed continuations that protect aging copyright claims, and even new pulp fiction cut from the cloth of the classic originals. The evolution of western hero to an archetypal pulp hero has happened once more in this fringe market in the case of western author Thomas McNulty. A veteran western writer in the Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour tradition, McNulty has made the transition from cowboy hero to pulp hero with his latest novel, Jack Ripcord. The title character for a planned trilogy of books, there is no mistaking that Jack Ripcord is an alter ego of the author from the cover character portrait to the way that the story functions as a synthesis of all of McNulty’s interests. TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE VISIT THE BLACK GATE ON FRIDAY.