MYTHIC COLORING BOOK – Michael Kaluta & Charles Vess

cvnf2 (1)Faerie Magazine presents MYTHIC COLORING BOOK (November 19, 2015), a 128-page coloring book from two legendary artists—two books in one, filled with giants, dragons, mermaids, talking crows, faeries, fairy tales, enchanted forests, and midsummer nights’ dreams …

Charles Vess is an award-winning artist whose work has graced the covers and interior pages of many publications include two New-York-Times-bestselling picture books penned by Neil Gaiman, Blueberry Girl and Instructions. Most recently, he collaborated with Charles de Lint on The Cats of Tanglewood Forest and Seven Wild Sisters. “I’ve always been happiest,” he says, “drawing scenes set deep within that elemental greenwood where fairies, giants, mermaids, and dragons all became my best friends and have remained so to this day.”

Artist Michael Kaluta is best known for his acclaimed 1970s adaptation of the pulp magazine hero The Shadow with writer Dennis O’Neil. He worked with Elaine Lee on the space opera Starstruck, and has done covers for Danzig, worked on video games, illustrated numerous books, and done countless private commissions—all in his detailed, elegant, art-nouveau-influenced, ultra-romantic style. “I’ve not been able to figure out why a mermaid on a rock pleases me so much more than a seagull on a rock,” he says, “but it does… it makes me feel more alive inside to think that clouds hide castles in the air, that dragons live in sea caves, that the land is alive with wonder.

MythsMYTHIC COLORING BOOK presents 120 black-and-white drawings, 60 from each artist, with two covers and two opening letters. Readers flip the book halfway through to get two books in one.

Published: November 19, 2015 • $16.95
ISBN 978 0 9838556 9 9

“Wonder Woman the War Years 1941-1945” by Roy Thomas – book review

wwAmazon Princess Diana left her all-female Paradise Island for the love of a man – Captain Steve Trevor. “And so Diana, the Wonder Woman gives up her heritage…to take the man she loves to America – the land she learns to love and protect, and adopts as her own.”

Soon Wonder Woman was fighting the Japanese with the aid of her invisible plane, truth compelling lasso and metal bracelets that repelled bullets. She helped American forces secure the Philippines and was inducted into the Justice Battalion of America with fellow Justice Society members. Wonder Woman #2 (Fall 1942) saw her fight the Roman god of war, Mars and the real-life figures of Hitler, Mussolini, Goebbels, Goring and Emperor Hirohito. Sensation Comics #37 featured the Nazis planning to conquer Paradise Island.

This volume features Wonder Woman stories from All-Star Comics, Sensation Comics, Wonder Woman and Justice Society of America plus a sample newspaper strip from 1944. Dr. William Moulton Marston’s stories and H.G. Peters’ unique art style are well served in this book that is a treat for fans of the Amazon warrior princess.

This full-color 302 page hardback (8.25″ x 12.25″) collection includes an introduction and a four-part commentary by Roy Thomas on the evolution of Wonder Woman through the war years. The three volumes in this “War Years” series are highly recommended for their impressive presentation and fascinating content. Published October, 2015 by Chartwell Books.

Review copyright Paul Green (Weird Westerns).

“Batman the War Years 1939-1945” by Roy Thomas – book review

ubatBatman and Robin the Boy Wonder entered World War II gradually with stories concentrating on fifth columnist enemy agents and spies. They would be best utilized on the Home Front defending America from the Axis agents.

In December 1942 Batman officially declared war on the “Japs” in Detective Comics #69. That same month Batman #14 featured “Swastika over the White House.” Between the war bond stories on the home front Batman also ventured into total fantasy with stories such as “Atlantis Goes to War” in Batman #19. Nazis and the lost civilization of Atlantis make for strange allies until Batman sets the Atlanteans straight. Meanwhile Robin falls in love in the underwater kingdom.

As WWII reached its conclusion the dynamic duo traveled to Metropolis where they addressed the U.S. Senate giving various criminals a chance to contribute to the war effort.

This second volume in “The War Years” series features the work of Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, Dick Sprang, Jack and Ray Burnley, George Roussos and Don Cameron among others.

This full-color 299 page hardback (8.25″ x 12.25″) collection is a perfect companion volume to Superman the War Years and Wonder Woman the War Years. Insightful commentary by Roy Thomas adds to the pleasure of this nostalgic book of vintage Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder strips and covers – which also feature their wartime appearances in World’s Finest Comics. Published October, 2015 by Chartwell Books.

Review copyright Paul Green (Weird Westerns).

“Superman – The War Years 1938-1945” by Roy Thomas – Book Review

untitledSuperman was born into an era where the real world was about to go to war. It took writer ad co-creator Jerry Siegel some years to involve his creation in adventures where he fought Nazis and “Japs” as they were called back in the day. Superman first ventured into fictional territory fighting substitute Nazis and the amalgamated “Japanazis” on the covers of Action Comics and Superman. As the war in Europe continued and America entered the war Superman finally fought Hitler face-to-face and helped the British allies across the Atlantic. Superman personified American values in WWII and captured the fighting spirit of real-life soldiers and marines who fought so valiantly.

This new book features over 20 full-color comic book adventures and original covers from Action Comics and Superman. We see the evolution of Superman through the war years and his gradual increase in super-powers as the war reached its climax. Jack Burnley’s cover art was often a highlight of each issue and helped define the image of Superman in the 1940s. The early sketchy interior art by Joe Schuster had a certain charm but by the end of the war a new roster of artists had been introduced, including the effective Ed Dobrotka and Fred Ray. Artists such as Wayne Boring offered a more dynamic approach in the examples of the syndicated newspaper strip featured in the book. Early Superman stories were simplistic but they offered more depth and an increasingly feisty Lois Lane as the war years progressed.

Reading the strips in sequence it becomes obvious that the more jingoistic and preachy stories are far less effective than the entertaining strips that offer comedy relief or amusing personality clashes between Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Superman #22 (May-June 1943) “Meet the Squiffles” – sees the Gremlins battling with the the Squiffles (mischievous leprechaun-like creatures working for Hitler intent on sabotaging aircraft.) The Gremlins win the day and Hitler’s plans are foiled again – with the intervention of Superman.

This beautiful 304 page hardback (8.25″ x 12.25″) collection makes for a fascinating read. Framed with new commentary by comic book legend Roy Thomas this book is a must for any comic book fan who has a liking for vintage Superman. Published October, 2015 by Chartwell Books.

Review copyright Paul Green (Weird Westerns).

Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns Second Edition – Publication March 2016

61ZZRfsZkGLI recently completed work on the Second Edition of my “Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns.” The updated book includes hundreds of new entries and over 50,000 extra words – plus approx. 85 images in total and a new Introduction by Cynthia J. Miller (editor of “Undead in the West” Volumes 1 & 2). Publication by McFarland & Co. is scheduled for March 2016.

Reviews of the First Edition:

“in the extraordinarily useful and detailed Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns, Green identifies horrific and supernatural departures and twists over the last 150 years of the Western. A delightful, breezy volume one might read cover to cover. Green’s Encyclopedia covers considerable ground…certainly deserving of recognition”–Ray Merlock, University of South Carolina Upstate, The Journal of American Culture

“all-encompassing coverage…a stunning amount of research…Green has done the Western genre a great service”–True West

“a useful and entertaining guide to the mind-bending and genre-blending world that resides outside the mainstream…a handy sourcebook”–Wild West History Journal

“an eye-opener for fans of the typical all-American, John Wayne western”–ARBA

“thorough…it is very easy to get lost in the Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns, so make sure to set aside a good deal of time when you pick it up to ’just look something up.’ There are plenty of discoveries awaiting, and some old favorites to revisit”–Green Man Review

“his coverage is quite inclusive; few media are omitted”–Communication Booknotes Quarterly

“a rich vein for prospectors mining those dusty hills of the Wild Weird West. It’s the kind of book I like to dog-ear and write in, and carry along with me, in my urban saddle bag, to refer to often”–Zombos’ Closet of Horror

“highly recommended”–Operaphile

“this unique volume covers ground that has generally eluded researchers”–Starlog.

Black Jack Ketchum – New Release

tumblr_nuq9wj1vFr1ufogx2o6_540Black Jack Ketchum successfully combines a sense of alienation and paranoia in an Old West setting that resembles a dream landscape. – Weird Westerns

Image Comics has recently announced BLACK JACK KETCHUM, Brian Schirmer’s  first title for the publisher, with co-creators Claudia Balboni (Star Trek, True Blood) on interiors and Jeremy Saliba (The Wheel of Time) on covers.  It’s a surreal Western that kicks off with a case of (possible) mistaken identity.  It’s the story of Tom Ketchum, struggling to clear his name in a world populated by talking sidearms, crackshot children, a mysterious, merciless judge, and the faceless, supernatural Dusters.  Imagine those last guys as the Nazgul of the frontier and you’ll be pretty close.

It’s The Fugitive meets The Prisoner in a dreamlike version of the Old West.

tumblr_nuq9wj1vFr1ufogx2o5_540Brian Schirmer commented, “I think my initial exposure to the Weird Western came on New Year’s Eve, sometime in the late ’70’s/early ’80’s. I was staying with my grandparents while my parents were out ringing in the new year, and one of the local channels was running a marathon of – I kid you not – The Phantom Empire with Gene Autry. I’d never seen anything like it. Come to think of it, that might have been my first exposure to any sort of mixed-genre. It wouldn’t be until much later in my life though when I’d find myself absorbing the likes of High Plains Drifter, El Topo, Dead Man, and the like. All of these and more are in the DNA of Black Jack KetchumThis is a Wild West that operates on dream logic. Now, that doesn’t mean there are no rules. There most certainly are. It’s more that traditional Western elements and motifs tend to serve atypical purposes. For example, saloons are not only places one can play cards and grab a drink, but also transportation hubs, allowing one to teleport to other watering holes in other towns.

@imagecomics unveiled Jeremy Saliba’s BLACK JACK KETCHUM #2 cover . On stands January 6.

@imagecomics unveiled Jeremy Saliba’s BLACK JACK KETCHUM #2 cover . On stands January 6.

As for ties to the historical Tom Ketchum… there are allusions. There are some direct references to people and incidents from his life, particularly in the final two issues. There’s also another historical figure who’s around a bit, but who doesn’t get identified until the third issue. But at the end of the day we’re not creating a biography. This is very much a Weird Western. He’s the archetypal “wrong man”, accused of something – or, in this case, many things – he didn’t do. He never admits to being a “good guy”, but he’s adamant that he’s innocent of the crimes of which he’s been accused. He’s a bit Josef K, a bit Number Six – but in a messed up version of the frontier.”

The surreal Western comic series BLACK JACK KETCHUM, created by Brian Schirmer, Claudia Balboni & Jeremy Saliba, will be published by Image Comics December 2.
Interview copyright Paul Green (Weird Westerns) 2015. Images copyright © & Trademarked TM 2015 Image Comics or their respective owners. Image and its logos are ® and © 2015 Image Comics, Inc. All rights reserved.

Lost Trails: Forgotten Tales of the Weird West – Vol 1

51oweVV7GcL__SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Editor Cynthia Ward kindly contributed the following words about her book Lost Trails: Forgotten Tales of the Weird West: Volume One

“It may sound nonsensical when I say Lost Trails: Forgotten Tales of the Weird West: Volume One, the anthology I edited for WolfSinger Publications, was born of the disconnect between the “Wild West” in nonfiction and the “Wild West” in fiction. After all, there’s always a disjunction between fact and fiction, even without the Weird factor. But the disjunction that moved me to editorship was the one between the mostly straight white cisgender worlds I was encountering in Weird West fiction, and the realities of everyday life not only in the modern West, but in the historical.

I live in the rural West and my neighbors within one or two doors are white, black, Hispanic, Asian, mixed race, young, old, Christian, atheist, neurotypical, neurodiverse, able-bodied, and differently abled. I study the historical West and encounter black cowboys, gay cowboys, transgender Zuni, Chinese prospectors, Native and mestizo vaqueros, African-American sheriffs and marshals, Muslim cavalry scouts, buffalo soldiers, male prostitutes, rodeo horsewomen, cross-dressing stagecoach drivers and jazz musicians, Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe, Sephardic Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition, and even more diversity and intersectionality.

Yet, when I was reading Weird West fiction, I encountered mostly twenty- to fortysomething, able-bodied, straight, Euro-American, cisgender men and women (mostly men) in largely stereotypical roles. I didn’t even see many Native American characters (perhaps as a response to Hollywood’s century-plus habit of confining Indian roles to savages, sidekicks, and/or corpses –

Given the Grand Canyon-sized chasm between what I experienced and knew, and what I read, I found myself craving more diverse Weird West fiction, to the point that I found myself editing two volumes of Lost Trails: Forgotten Tales of the Weird West, and selecting the following stories for Volume One.

In “One-Eyed Jack,” Connie Wilkins uses the Weird West genre to examine the assumptions underlying some of the most popular Western archetypes and situations with her differently abled gunfighter and whip-handy brothel madam. In “What Happened at Blessing Creek,” Naomi Kritzer considers indigenous/immigrant relations and Manifest Destiny in a world of magic and shapeshifting. Magic and shapeshifting also play a role in Milton Davis’ “Kiowa Rising,” a steamfunk alternate history about an almost superheroically accomplished historical figure, the African-American U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves.

As it is in Western fiction, the savior archetype is common in Weird West fiction. In both genres, this archetype often takes the form of a lone, gun-toting, male drifter–someone straight and white and not only able-bodied, but supremely competent. Sometimes the savior is a frontier knight in shining armor, but more often he’s unreligious–even amoral. However, in Misha Nogha’s alternate history, “Assiniboia,” it’s a devout French Catholic priest who wants to save the souls of Indian and Métis…only to find himself in need of salvation. In Vivian Caethe’s steampunk alternate history, “The Noonday Sun,” a frontier knight in shining armor shatters the expectations of gender, ability, and sexual orientation. In his alternate-history fantasy, “A Scene from the Yaqui Wars,” Don Webb’s savior subverts the expectations of race and size.

Weird West fiction may incorporate archetypes and beings barred from direct participation in the mundane Western. In Steve Berman’s “Wagers of Gold Mountain,” a Chinese immigrant faces trickster spirits from East and West. In Rudy Ch. Garcia’s “How Five-Gashes-Tumbling Chaneco Earned the Nickname,” a Conquistador’s expeditionary army encounters shamans and nagual spirits. In an excerpt from Ken Liu’s novella, “All the Flavors,” the Idaho gold rush draws a Chinese god. And uranium attracts attention from beyond the stars in Kathleen Alcalá’s “Midnight at the Lariat Lounge.”

Reconstructive study of history finds no shortage of homosexual relationships or gender variance in the Old West. The male buddy pairs in Wild West movies and fiction do not lack in homoerotic undertones. However, open same-sex relationships were not necessarily welcome in the Old West, as Gemma Files reveals in “Sown From Salt,” her grimdark horror story of the aftermath of a couple’s deadly breakup, and gender reassignment did not guarantee a long and joyful life, as a Native girl learns when she is assigned to a traditionally male role in Carol Hightshoe’s “Wolves of the Comanchería.”   Between the California and Alaska gold rushes, a lesbian couple in Nicole Kornher-Stace’s “Deal” draws the unwelcome attention of Pinkerton agents. And in Scott A. Cupp’s “Thirteen Days of Glory,” one of the archetypal battles of the Old West centers on the right of man to be with another man.

Some states are viewed as quintessentially Western–Arizona, Montana, Texas, and Wyoming spring instantly to mind. Perhaps because of unique elements in its journey to territory and state, New Mexico features far less often in Western fiction; but Nicole Givens Kurtz’s supernatural revenge story, “Justice,” is a quintessentially New Mexico and quintessentially Weird West tale. California too is somewhat underutilized in Weird West fiction, perhaps because it became a state much earlier than most Western territories, or perhaps because it was put under the rule of U.S. law much earlier. But its high arid mountains are the perfect venue for a post-apocalyptic scientist-outlaw’s hideout and bounty hunter’s search in Beth Wodzinski’s steampunk “Suffer Water,” and its high desert is a natural setting for the zombiepocalypse of Cynthia Ward’s “#rising.”

The Western frontier was not a fixed border or region, nor was it confined to the contiguous United States. Misha Nogha’s “Assiniboia” concerns a proposed Canadian province that was stillborn in our timeline. In J. Comer’s “Soldier’s Coat,” a steampunk war between Russia and the United States plays out in Alaska. In Carole McDonnell’s time travel fantasy, “A Thing of Beauty,” a modern black Catholic priest finds himself in the pre-Civil War territory of Kansas, while a mixed-race girl fleeing an unwanted marriage lights out from Missouri for the land rush in Oklahoma Territory, in Rebecca McFarland Kyle’s steampunk fantasy, “Cross the River.” It is in Arizona Territory that Edward M. Erdelac’s Hasidic lone drifter faces an ancient supernatural threat, in an excerpt from “The Blood Libel,” and it is in Mexico that a steampunk airship fleet rises against the United States, in Ernest Hogan’s “Pancho Villa’s Flying Circus.”

No anthology (or pair of anthologies) can capture all the complex sociocultural realities of a historical era, but I hope Lost Trails: Forgotten Tales of the Weird West: Volume One suggests them, and entertainingly.”

Lost Trails: Forgotten Tales of the Weird West: Volume One is available from Amazon and Smashwords.

Text copyright Cynthia Ward and Weird Westerns 2015.