Literary S&S on Film

We are awash in fantasy films. Even Sword-and-Sorcery has a sizable number of entries (though generally of rather dubious quality.) Yet few of the S&S entries are adaptations of literary works. Why is that? There is no shortage of quality material to mine. Perhaps the producers determined it was cheaper to create a new property rather than license an existing one, thinking all you need is some muscular actor, a sword, a few scantily clad vixens, a malevolent, moustache twirling villain, some cheap, faux-medieval backdrops, and the script will essentially write itself.

How has that worked for them?

S&S & Appendix N

Yes?

Appendix N to the Dungeon Master’s Guide is an ever full well. Each dip of the bucket brings up something thirst quenching. Gary Gygax’s pulp influences were as broad as they were deep. Some feel that D&D is best seen as an immersive plumbing of pulp Sword and Sorcery. There is probably much to support that opinion. But even a cursory reading of Appendix N indicates that he did not limit himself to the sub-genre. He mined science fiction, historical fiction, and epic fantasy.

The Illustrated Solomon Kane

While most of us are familiar with the black and white Conan comic Savage Sword of Conan,  perhaps not all are aware that the magazine also included Solomon Kane stories. A role call of great illustrators penciled and inked the Conan stories: John Buscema, Gil Kane, Barry Windsor Smith, Alfredo Alcala, Ernie Chan, etc. Terrific stuff.

The undeniable reality is that Solomon Kane was served by the B-Team. Not that the art was bad, but for the most part it doesn’t compare favorably with the Conan work. Still, it is worth checking out. Let’s take a look, shall we.

Not Precisely a Shindig

The Lizzi household threw a little party yesterday, with attendees primarily from the neighborhood. We wanted to celebrate. MBW passed the mortgage loan officer national exam (by all accounts a rather devilish test.) I’m proud of her. I remember all the work and stress that preceded and carried through the Bar Exam, so I could empathize with all she endured.

We also celebrated (somewhat belatedly) the publication of the first book of Semi-Autos and Sorcery, Blood and Jade. And I suppose I was also prematurely celebrating the release of book two, Santa Anna’s Sword, due out in just over a week from the writing of this post.

Quiet Doings

The HA is spending a few days with her grandparents on the coast. Thus MBW and I have a childless weekend, unless you count the new kittens (which, soulless barbarian that I am, I don’t.) We planned to drive to Lost Lake, rent some kayaks, and paddle about with Mt. Hood in the background, casting its reflection upon the placid, mirror surface of the lake. The weather, however, had other plans.

Blink and You’ll Miss It

Carl Jacobi (1908-1997) is one of the forgotten genre writers, penning weird tales, crime fiction, science fiction and fantasy for the pulps, and later in life for their successors. He’s an author I intend to keep an eye out for when browsing for something new to purchase. Why? Well, I happened upon a short-short of his by the title of A Pair of Swords. It’s a weird tale, from 1933, with  just a touch of the swashbuckling fare I enjoy brought to life with the assistance of an unexplained supernatural occurrence. Classic pulp contrivance; museum antiques, weapons, the King’s Musketeers, an out-of-time encounter. Good stuff.

Announcing Semi-Autos and Sorcery

Pulp Swords-and-Sorcery stories conveyed a certain esthetic. There was a focus and an energy to them that came through even with authors milking every penny from the word count. I like it. Practitioners of the artform have carried that energy from short stories to novellas and full-length novels. What I’ve wondered is if the esthetic can translate from secondary worlds and mythic history to contemporary fantasy. That is, can one remove the Swords from S&S and substitute modern weaponry while retaining both the driving adventure and the fantastical elements? While working through this, I’ve substituted the term “Semi-automatics” for “Swords.” It maintains the alliteration while holding a conceptual through line, I think.

More Research

You can, of course, wing it when it comes to descriptive writing. In fantasy and science-fiction that purely imaginative approach is unavoidable. No one has actually seen a dragon, for example, or a slime monster from Alpha Ceti. But if you are attempting to achieve a certain realism, it helps to have some experience with the subject matter you are describing.