Thursday, 19 April 2018

Lost in the Borderlands: William Hope Hodgson

This silence, when I grew fully aware of it was the more uncanny; for my memory told me that never before had I come upon a country which contained so much quietness. Nothing moved across my vision—not even a lone bird soared up against the dull sky; and, for my hearing, not so much as the cry of a sea-bird came to me—no! nor the croak of a frog, nor the plash of a fish. It was as though we had come upon the Country of Silence, which some have called the Land of Lonesomeness.
 - William Hope Hodgson, The Boats of the Glen Carrig

It is 100 years - more or less - to the day since William Hope Hodgson left this earthly plane of existence. With his passing in the monstrous horror that was the Great War, he left behind a rich library of supernatural fiction. I leave it to the Hodgson experts over at the William Hope Hodgson site for a truly fitting tribute, but I thought I'd put my own tuppence ha'penny worth too.

There are three great cycles in Hodgson's fiction, which I'll have the merest glance towards on this important occasion. Hodgson himself considered that his first three novels to be published - The Boats of the 'Glen Carrig,' The House on the Borderland, and The Ghost Pirates - form a "thematic trilogy," but I'd reckon given the multidimensional nature of his work, there's surely provision for a Hodgkins Multiverse that surrounds and penetrates; binds his work together like the tendrils of some dreadful unknown horror beyond the ken of humanity.

Monday, 19 March 2018

William Blain, the Comics Wizard of Gourock

Image taken from This Was The Wizard, courtesy of Down The Tubes
Eventually Willie Blain became Managing Editor of all of the Thomson line of comics, originating their girls' comics with Bunty (1958), their boys' adventure comics with Victor in 1961 and such famous titles as Jackie (1964). Although he rarely gets a credit, a poll of the most important figures in the history of British comics would almost certainly have to include Willie Blain in the top five.
- Steve Holland
Today would have been the 115th birthday of William Blain. You may not immediately recognise the name, but many a child who grew up in Scotland in the 20th Century will be very familiar with his works.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Black Panthers and Ape Lords

I had a feeling Black Panther would be my favourite Marvel film for a while now. The first trailer indicated to me that this was going to be a film steeped in the lore, ambiance, and spirit of Africa. I've always loved that continent: the many peoples, the fauna, the landscapes. So much of my favourite pulp adventure - Burroughs, Haggard, Howard - is set in a historical, mythic, or fantastical version of Africa. But so many of these stories are written from the adventurer's perspective - someone going to Africa, where Africa is a faraway land of wonders and mysteries. From the African perspective, Africa is home: it's always been there, they've always been there. Black Panther, being the creation of two North Americans, started life as an outsider's interpretation of an African superhero. Black Panther, the film, seeks to bring him home.

The results are plain to see: an all-star cast and senior crew from all across the world, almost all of whom have a direct or ancestral link to the continent. It isn't an adventure so much as a homecoming.

The depth and richness of Black Panther could easily inspire thousands of words of critique and analysis, from the languages to the clothing; the architecture to the martial arts; the music to the dances. To demonstrate the film's profundity, I'm going to look at one seemingly tiny aspect of the film across three posts, and explore the possibilities and meaning therein - the Gorilla God of the Jabari.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Robert E. Howard at 112

As I'd been branching out over the past few years, there are a few new friends & followers who might not know much about Robert E. Howard's work, and it never occurred to me to do something fairly simple: a wee list of my favourite stories. Not necessarily those I consider the best, just ones that have stayed with me, and that I found the most compelling & memorable.

Today, Howard's birthday, seems as good a day to do so as any.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Six Quarter-Centuries of Clark Ashton Smith

He and his followers were well armed and accoutered. Some of the men bore coils of rope and grapplinghooks to be employed in the escalade of the steeper crags. Some carried heavy crossbows; and many were equipped with long-handled and saber-bladed bills which, from experience, had proved the most effective weapons in close-range fighting with the Voormis. The whole party was variously studded with auxiliary knives, throwing-darts, two-handed simitars, maces, bodkins and saw-toothed axes. The men were all clad in jerkins and hose of dinosaur-leather, and were shod with brazen-spiked buskins. Ralibar Vooz himself wore a light suiting of copper chain-mail, which, flexible as cloth, in no wise impeded his movements. In addition he carried a buckler of mammoth-hide with a long bronze spike in its center that could be used as a thrusting-sword; and, being a man of huge stature and strength, his shoulders and baldric were hung with a whole arsenal of weaponries.
 - "The Seven Geases," pre-dating the current D&D Everything's Better With Dinosaurs craze by 80-odd years

125 years marks since the birth of Clark Ashton Smith. 2018 marks several other important anniversaries in the world of weird fiction, in particular dinosaur fiction. Because of this, I'm going to take inspiration from Mr Smith, & decide to finally do a thing that I've been wanting to do for years. I'll explain more in a future post.

Mr Smith wrote dozens upon dozens of extraordinary stories & poems: even if he doesn't receive anything like the recognition he deserves, his influence is clear among those who have shaped the worlds he lit up with the sparks of his prose.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Art of Time's Abyss: Best of 2017

Just a few of my favourite pieces of artwork which I made this year.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Friday, 24 November 2017

PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 24: Westlothiana lizziae

PrehiScotInktoberfest 24 is a very special one for me. Not long ago, my grandfather celebrated his 84th birthday. One of my favourite memories, of which there are many, of him was when he took me & the rest of the family to see the Dinosaurs From China exhibition. While there were plenty of dinosaurs present - Mamenchisaurus, Yangchuanosaurus, Tsintaosaurus (they were nothing if not proudly local of their dinosaurs in China) - there was one fossil that I'll never forget.