Friday, August 30, 2013
“Circea” by Dan Barry was serialized by King Features Syndicate from March 22 to May 29, 1954. This lighthearted story begins with Zarkov encouraging Flash to propose to Dale. Just as he starts to ask her to marry him, the gravity of the area around them is thrown off and Flash and Dale find themselves hurtling past the clouds while the oxygen grows rapidly thinner. They recover consciousness to find themselves in a rocketship hurtling through space. They leave our galaxy and pass through a comet unscathed before entering the atmosphere of an unknown planetoid in a far distant galaxy. They are brought to rest through the skylight of a large installation perched high on a cliff. They find themselves facing a beautiful woman named Circea who has observed Flash from afar and become infatuated with him. Circea’s dangerous obsession with Flash has gone far beyond abducting him from Earth. Jealous of her rival, she sends Dale to her death by pitching her off the edge of the building into the sea of fire below. An anguished Flash jumps off to either die with Dale or save her. Distraught at losing the object of her desire, Circea operates an enormous asbestos net to captures Flash and Dale just before they plunge into the sea of flames. TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE VISIT THE BLACK GATE NEXT FRIDAY.
Monday, August 26, 2013
“The Lost Continent” by Dan Barry was serialized by King Features Syndicate from October 26, 1953 to March 20, 1954. This is the story where Dan Barry finally realized his potential and would serve as the model for his best work on the strip over the next four decades. His art and plotting are reminiscent of the classic original work by Alex Raymond and rank alongside Al Williamson’s later work as the most faithful interpretations of Raymond’s unique style. The story gets underway with Flash, Dale, and Zarkov enjoying a deep sea fishing trip in the West Indies when they are caught in a hurricane. Their yacht strikes a bathysphere in the storm and is washed ashore with it on the island of Bimini. A panel on the bathysphere opens and Flash, Dale, and Zarkov enter to find a pair of Neanderthals who quickly suffocate in the open air. The dying Neanderthals manage to speak a few words in their strange language and Zarkov makes out “Poseidon” and concludes they hail from the legendary capitol of the lost continent of Atlantis. Dale discovers a cache of gold coins in the flooring while Zarkov discovers a recording machine that translates thoughts. The device translates the Atlan language to several different languages including English through which they learn the Neanderthals were on a mission to flood the markets of the surface world with the cache of gold in order to destroy the world economy to pave the way for an invasion. The trio resolves to pilot the bathysphere down to Atlantis to prevent their plans after giving the Neanderthals a proper burial on Bimini. TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE VISIT THE BLACK GATE ON FRIDAY.
Friday, August 23, 2013
“The Space Kids on Zoran” was Dan Barry’s first "Flash Gordon" storyline following the departure of Harvey Kurtzman from the strip. It was published by King Features Syndicate from April 21 to October 24, 1953. The storyline shows the influence of "Captain Video and his Video Rangers," the seminal series that was to the first television generation what the Buster Crabbe "Flash Gordon" serials had been to their parents. As the storyline progresses, Barry incorporates another Biblical parable this time offering up a space age twist on the Christ story. Dan Barry had settled into a more comfortable style with the characters that was recognizably his own take on Alex Raymond’s original work. This style would remain constant until the early 1980s. The story begins with Flash and Dale driving to visit Ray Carson who has set up a club called the Space Kids at an abandoned site. The boys have built a full-size model rocket out of wood and spare parts Ray’s father gave him. Flash agrees to help the boys that weekend. There is a definite switch to a more juvenile approach to the strip with the portrayal of the kids more reminiscent of Harvey Comics than a dramatic adventure strip. The sight of Flash smoking a pipe as he surveys the youngsters’ work is also somewhat disconcerting. From there, Flash leaves for a meeting with aeronautics industrialist, J. B. Pennington who is employing Ray’s dad to build a rocket and has hired Flash to fly it. Pennington is the stereotypical capitalist authority figure. He is dismissive of his employees and unloving to his young son, Cyril. Flash’s contemptuous attitude is meant to endear him to the young readers of the strip more than it is to offer social criticism as the generation gap becomes one of the major themes of the storyline. TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE VISIT THE BLACK GATE.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
So another season of pulp conventions has come and gone. As in the past, part of the fun of being able to attend conventions and meet people that share your passions and appreciate your work is meeting other authors you might otherwise have never chanced upon. Such was the case with Dick Enos at this year’s PulpFest in Columbus, Ohio. Mr. Enos is the author of the "Rick Steele" adventure series published by Mirror Publishing. Enos lists his principal influences as the long-running newspaper adventure strip, "Steve Canyon;" the Old Time Radio show and Golden Age television series, "Sky King;" and Mickey Spillane’s venerable "Mike Hammer." To continue reading this article, please visit The Black Gate.
Friday, August 2, 2013
Marvel Comics’ mature readers imprint, Epic Comics published a "Tomb of Dracula" limited series in 1991 entitled, “Day of Blood, Night of Redemption.” Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan reunited from the original series and teamed with Al Williamson to produce this visually stunning and highly ambitious four-part epic. The script faltered a bit by the end as it really needed at least two more issues to realize its full potential, but this was an excellent effort and a welcome return to form that is deserving of more attention for its high standard of quality throughout. The third issue gets underway with a quiet interlude shattered when a street gang makes the mistake of harassing the vampire after discovering him alone on the streets of Washington D.C. There is an unmistakable cathartic glee to the scene where Dracula literally drags the leader of the gang to his death. This is followed by a brief segment that establishes Katinka as having joined Frank Drake and Blade in their hunt for the vampire. Her character proves the necessary bridge to smooth the rough partnership rekindled between these two very different men. She also functions as a Van Helsing substitute who is seeking a scientific cure for Marlene’s possession. TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE VISIT THE BLACK GATE NEXT FRIDAY.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Marvel Comics’ mature readers imprint, Epic Comics published a "Tomb of Dracula" limited series in 1991 entitled, “Day of Blood, Night of Redemption.” Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan reunited from the original series and teamed with Al Williamson to produce this visually stunning and highly ambitious four-part epic. The script faltered a bit by the end as it really needed at least two more issues to realize its full potential, but this was an excellent effort and a welcome return to form that is deserving of more attention for its high standard of quality throughout. The story gets underway with the introduction of two attractive young college students, Becky and Lila who are having an affair. Becky is obsessed with the occult and unintentionally burns herself to death during a Satanic ritual one night after a rendezvous with Lila. From there the scene shifts to a beautiful young attorney, Marlene McKenna who is suffering from night terrors and under the care of Dr. Gregor Smirnoff. Marlene’s night terrors stem from the fact that she is married to Frank Drake and she has become obsessed with Frank’s ex-lover, the now deceased Rachel Van Helsing. Marlene has sought out her husband’s psychiatrist to treat her for her recurring nightmares of Dracula and belief that she is being possessed by the spirit of Rachel Van Helsing. TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE VISIT THE BLACK GATE ON FRIDAY.