East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Arthurian Planetary Romance: Sword of Ages

I have received as a gift the first volume of Gabriel Rodriguez’ Sword of Ages, a big, colorful comic book that lasted me back to the years spent reading Heavy Metal or L’Eternauta, and later 2000AD: science fiction, action and adventure in surreal, exotic locales, beautifully drawn and engagingly narrated.

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Beware what you wish for…

As the saying goes… because your wishes might come true.
And no more that six weeks ago I was saying to myself what a damn chore – not to mention the expense – would be trying and putting together a decent collection of The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire. A decent collection, mind you, not a complete one.

And now I found out Rebellion Publishing will issue the first 340 pages volume of the Trigan Empire in 2020. Finding the stuff is no longer a problem – but expenses might become critical. The series, written by Mike Butterworth and drawn by Dan Lawrence, ran between 1965 and 1982, and this means a lot of pages.

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A failed comic

I’m currently taking an online sketching course. It’s quite good, and while I’m going mighty slow, I can see a certain improvement. Nothing to write home about, but small steps away from stick figures.
My lack of graphical skills was always a problem to me – in part, because as a geologist and paleontologist, you are required to be able to sketch, in part because it crippled some of my very earliest projects.

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Comic books turn your brains to pudding

According to the newly-appointed Minister of Education University & Research in my country, reading comics is a stupid way of spending your time, if you are a kid. He’d rather have the kids, during the summer, do their homework and

“…Better be stimulated by good readings and activities that will keep the brain active, vigilant, sharp and engaged.”

907125-U41106990816JeD--258x258@Quotidiano_Scuola-WebBasically, reading comics turns your brain to pudding, at least according to our Minister (that before he was a school administrator, was a Phys.Ed. teacher).
You can probably guess that I do not agree.
Mind you – reading a good book and doing something engaging1 is just great, and homework need to be done2, but this idea that comic books are inferior cultural products is so OLD. Continue reading


Other people’s pulps: Adèle Blanc-Sec

I knew about Adèle well before I saw the movie.
The Jacques Tardi series of comics called The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec had been one of the many I had discovered when, in my early years as a university student, I used to spend a lot of time in the bookstores scattered in the center of town.
With its rough, sometimes unpleasant style and its alternating light and dark plots, the series about an early 20th century adventure fiction writer and adventuress featured dinosaurs, Egyptian mysteries, strange conspiracies and retro-technology.
It was great fun, winking and gently mocking a lot of classics, from Verne to Conan Doyle to Leblanc.


And yet, when finally the Adèle Blanc-Sec movie was released in 2010, the first of a proposed trilogy, I caught it on the big screen, and I did not like it.
Or, better, I liked it, but not as much as I had anticipated.

Re-watching the film in the silence and heat of the Astigianistan hills, I finally saw what peeved me all those years ago, and I was sort of reconciled with the movie. Continue reading

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Other People’s Pulps: The man who invented the Batarang

51Wtnb+Q4kLLast week I received a gift certificate for Amazon, and – after buying a gift for my brother’s birthday – I went on a rampage through my wish list.
Among the dozen or so ebooks that I bought – and some of which you’ll see reviewed here in the future – I invested about two bucks in the two Wildside Press Megapacks dedicated to Kothar the Barbarian.

A Conan clone that hit the stalls in 1969 to ride the wave of the Cimmerian’s success, Kothar appeared in five novels: Kothar: Barbarian Swordsman, Kothar of the Magic Sword, Kothar and the Demon Queen, Kothar and the Conjurer’s Curse and  Kothar and the Wizard Slayer.
All of these were the work of Gardner R. Fox – an author I did not know, and that is certainly a fascinating discovery for me. Continue reading