Monday, July 31, 2006

Cardin and Ligotti

Horror writer Matt Cardin has conducted an interview with modern weird fiction maestro Thomas Ligotti over at Matt's blog.

Blackwood on the Beeb

Dunno if anyone's interested but starting tonight BBC Radio 4 are broadcasting nightly readings of Algernon Blackwood's ghost stories. Programme starts at 10.45pm.

Identity Crisis

Only just realised that writer/artist Mark Schultz shares his name with an Olympic wrestler and Ultimate Fighting Champion.

So if for some reason you decide to insult Mark Schutlz make sure you pick the right one :-)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

More Schultz

I was speaking to Quentin S Crisp the other day about Schultz's commitment to the environment. Before getting into comics Schultz worked as a a commercial illustrator but eventually quit his job, partly 'cos he wanted to produce Xenozoic Tales and partly 'cos he didn't feel comfortable helping to sell a load of environmentally unfriendly junk. The evironmentally-themed Xenozoic Tales went on to win Schultz a bunch of awards and cemented his professional reputation as a writer and artist. Nice to see someone standing up for their principles and have it all work out for them.

You can see more Schultz art here and here and here and here

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Mark Schultz

Been looking at Mark Schultz's work recently. Wonderful black and white illustrations that recall Wally Wood, Al Williamson, Will Eisner, Alex Raymond and other comics greats.

His ecologically based SF/adventure comic book Xenozoic Tales is on indefinite hold while he works on other projects(including scripting the Prince Valiant newspaper strips) but I'm hoping he gets around to finishing it one day.

In the meantime take a peek at the online gallery of his work here

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Who Da Man?

Just for a laugh I thought I'd compare my three current fave literary action heroes.

From the pen of Stephen Hunter comes Earl Swagger. A WWII marine sergeant and State Highway Trooper.

Also from Hunter comes Earl's son, Bob Lee Swagger. A USMC sniper during 'Nam.

And from Lee Child comes Jack Reacher. A former major in the military police who spent the first thirty odd years of his life overseas and is now just drifting around America, trying to get a feel for what is supposed to be his home country.

I'll admit this isn't a fair test as I've read all the Swagger books but only three of the Reacher books (so far). Plus, I'm going from memory so I may forget things that could effect the final scores. But like I said, it's only for a laugh.

Anyway, here we go:

Investigative skills

Reacher is an ex-investigator for the MPs. And a bloody good one. So top marks. 5

Bob did some work for the CIA during 'Nam and some investigating of his own when he became enmeshed in various conspiracy theories in the '90s. So not his main area of expertise but he shows some flair for it. 4

Earl never had any real investigative training and his adventures tend not to call for it much anyway. 3

Unarmed combat

Earl is a near-pro level boxer with lightning fast hands. Plus he's had some training in judo and (I think) ju-jitsu. Plus whatever else WWII-era marines got taught (some of the Fairbairn and Applegate stuff maybe?) So it doesn't matter if you fight sport style or street style, either way he'll kick your arse. 5

Reacher is 6 foot five and 220 pounds of bone and muscle. Plus he's been trained to fight dirty. Might even manage to beat Earl if he gets in a solid suckerpunch at the start of the fight. 4

Bob doesn't tend to have so many fistfights as the other two (not that I can remember anyway) but he can still hold his own. When a burly FBI agent with a black belt in judo tries to handcuff him Bob effortlessly reverses the hold and flips the Fed on his back. Probably can fight as well as Reacher but without the Arnie-esque physique to back it up. 3

Close Quarter Combat

Earl won the Medal of Honor for taking on a bunch of Japanese troops in CBQ. Plus he's a crack shot and lightning fast draw with a Colt .45. He's damn handy with a Tommygun too.5

Bob took on a truck and two cars full of battle-hardened mercenaries armed with automatic weapons. Bob's only weapons -- a rifle and a pistol. His only back-up -- a civilian who'd never been in a firefight before. The mercenaries didn't stand a chance. Plus Bob took on VC troops in 'Nam. 4

Reacher seems to have much softer opposition. Usually dumb henchmen with only their boss having any real guts or combat skills. 3


Bob took on an entire platoon of NVA troops that was marching on an undefended special forces camp. With only his spotter, Donny Fen, as back-up Bob spent 72 hours playing hide and seek, picking off officers and NCOs. By the time he finished he had halted the NVAs' advance and killed over 30 of their number. "Cocksucker can shoot a little." 5

Reacher is the only non-marine to win the USMC sniper trophy. But so far I've not seen him shoot sniper style in all-out combat conditions. 4

Earl is a great shot but didn't receive sniper training until late in his career and then it was just a crash course. 3

Pulling power

A tie here. Earl was a bit of a hellraiser in his younger days but then settled down after he got married. Women continue to throw themselves at him but he remains practically oblivious to it. It takes something very special to make him even think of straying. Meanwhile Reacher gets more women but he's actively pursuing them. But with his mixture of toughness and sensitivity (not to mention his bulging muscles) he'd probably get them even if he ignored them. 5

Bob spent over a decade as a recluse so that seriously cut down on the amount of women he could've had. And as soon as he stopped being a recluse he got married. Still, he had a previous marriage plus some unspecified conquests from his younger days. And while he might not get the ladies throwing themselves at him quite as much as Earl did they still send him admiring glances. They'd probably send him more than that but there's an air of danger about Bob -- as a former sniper people tend to view him as a stone cold killer rather than as a war hero as they do with Earl. This probably means that women prefer to lust after him from afar rather than actually get involved with him. 4

Final score

So it's a tie with Earl and Reacher both finishing with 21 points and Bob with 20.

Of course this isn't definitive. On another day I might've rated the heroes differently.