This page is the indtroduction to several pages dealing with Sci.Fi., Fantasy, and Sword & Sorcery. The picture above by Frank Frazetta (here trimmed a little) is representative of the fact that I have followed the somewhat harder edged and more sexual tradition going back to Edgar Rice Burroughs, rather than the softer pre-sexual brand created by Tolkein. Appropriately, the picture above is for one of Burroughs' Mars books.
The pages included here are "Sword&Sorcery of the Past" which deals with the origin of the tradition in the literature of King Arthur and Charlemagne, "Sword&Sorcery: Modern," which deals with a series of writers and a couple of artists, and three pages which deal with the novel, Mythosphere, that my wife and I have written and published through Third Millenium Publishing, an on-line publisher, as seems appropriate to a book about virtual reality and cyberspace. We are soliciting further Mythosphere stories to post on our webpage, but more about that later.
There is really only one more thing I have to do with this page other than add the buttons. I have a neat little animated gif that perfectly represents Burroughs' Pellucidar books, a series set under the earth's crust, a barbarous world filled with prehistoric beasts. But I already have so many bells and whistles on that page that it already loads really slow. Still, that hardly justifies anyone's time coming to this page, and so below the links I have added some material on the comics. Like for many people, they have been an important part of my imaginative landscape. I have left the links to Mythosphere pages, though they have recently been given an index of their own.
King Arthur, Charlemagne, and The Faerie Queene. This page has some cool pictures and effects. .
This page, Sword&Sorcery: Late Modern also has some nice effects along with a lot of information..
This link, originally to Mythosphere, an interesting looking lime-green and black page, has been largely replaced with this one, Mythosphere Index.
This page has a map, family tree, and lots of other information about the cyber-world of Mythosphere, as well as about the real world of the extended family who operates Mythosphere..
This page is a chapter by chapter commentary on Mythosphere.
This is the index page for our whole website, which is Check it out; you might find something that will interest you.
This page was last updated on: April 28, 2012
The fantasy tradition beginning with Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard. It has some nice gifs.
This page deals with the great legend of the Norse and Germanic people, the story of the Volsungs.
A page about our novel in progress, MurderMythosphere. Itcontains a scene from the beginning of the story.
This page is an American folktale, "Jack and the Witches," in which the god Odin makes an appearance.
This page is "The Waking of Angantyr," a Norse warrior- woman poem with a luridness of atmosphere unmatched by anything in the Conan the Barbarian stories.
This page discusses dragons briefly, and introduces a dragon that plays an important role in Mythosphere.
Courtesy of Dover press
This picture requires a little work on the viewers part to imagine what it would look like before being turned into a 1907 newspaper comic. Still, it retains a little of the magic. Lewis Caroll, Franz Kafka, and Salvadore Dali are rank amateurs at exploring the world of dream compared to Winsor McCay. Some of their stuff reminds us of dreams, but reading Little Nemo is like being in a dream. He has no burning giraffes, but even his most crisply drawn, most realistic scenes have that strange feel of being a dream image trying to convince us of its reality, rather than being reality itself. Much though is quite strange, strange in that matter-of-fact way that dreams have. Things slip out of proportion or change from one thing to another without any recognizable reason, and sometimes the fact gets noticed by the characters, and sometimes not. One of Nemo's dream companiouns, Flip the clown is somethimes a little boy, sometimes a balding, middle-aged man, though he is always smoking a cigar. No one seems to notice the change. Flip also has that perverse, unmanagable quality that so much in dream does. If survival depends on silence, he will go out of his way to produce noise. If caution is called for, he will be reckless. This is one imaginataive artist who truly deserves far more credit than he receives, though he has hardly gone unnoticed. There is a short Disney cartoon movie about Little Nemo. Maurice Sendak's The Night Kitchen echoes the strip in a multitude of ways, and Tom Petty's video for "Chasing Down a Dream" is Little Nemo animated. This is not a comic I saw as a child, but have fallen in love with it as an adult.
To move from Winsor McCay to Robert Crumb is bound to seem like a stretch. I did not see Crumb's work as a child either, but in a sense I grew up with him, for we were both born in the same year. Crumb, though, spent his formative years in the pastless and nuanceless suburbs of Philadelphia and Cleveland, while I grew up in an old family in an old rural community. Crumb as an adult moved from Cleveland to San Francisco and chronicled the disorders of a society with too many people with a multitude of ills--physical, mental, sexual, and spiritual. His pictures, unlike McCay's, are mostly ugly, and many skirt or cross the boudaries into obscenity. His scenes are filled with the clutter of modern life, obsessively so, they seem. Crumb, himself, however, claims that reality looks like his pictures, and we have an inbuilt system that filters out much of the clutter and ugliness for us. I have tried looking at reality without the filters, and have to admit that there is a lot of truth to Crumb's view, though I am not entirely grateful for the knowledge. He is not entirely unfamiliar with the heroic and romantic; as a child his older brother became obsessed with Disney's movie, Treasure Island, and led Robert and a younger brother into a family program of writing Treasure Island comics, some of them so proficiently done that only the faint, notebook paper lines behind the pictures reveal that the work is not professional. As an adult, however, one finds little of that in Crumb. Whenever I read or look at anything by Crumb, I feel like Fritz Leiber's big, dreamy barbarian, with his mind filled with gods and heroes. I do think that Crumb misses a real element of human existence, but it is that lack which makes his vision so unescapable. For someone whose natural view is that of myth and archetype, Crumb is a valuable lesson in perception.
Crumb is commonly called the father of the underground comic, and he became quite famous in that field by the early '70's. In our culturally fragmented society, however, that meant that the vast majority of Americans had never heard of him or had any awareness of his work. It was a single picture, with the caption "Keep on Truckin'" that made the esoteric common.
From Robert Crumb to Carl Barks is another huge leap. Barks' life (1901-2000) spanned the century, and he represented much of what was best in 20th century America--intelligent, well read, hard working, uncomplaining, and idealistic. As a creater of comics, he is from the opposite end of the spectrum from Robert Crumb, yet Crumb, in his coffee table book, calls him "the great Carl Barks," a rare compliment from someone whose normal view tends to the caustic. For much of his life Barks worked for Disney doing the "Uncle Scrooge" comics, and the leadoff "Donald Duck story in "Walt Disney Comics," which always began with a Barks story, ended with a Mickey Mouse serial, and contained various stories of other Disney characters betweeen. Comics in those days were 52 pages. Through most of this time Barks got no public credit for his work, and for much of it was paid $12.00-$16.00 a page--not for a panel, but for a complete page. And, Barks not only drew, he created the story, and did the dialogue balloons--everything except the coloring. Children who read these comics, however, soon came to realize that there were several writers and artists, and that this one was something great. "Donald Duck Comics," not by Barks, for example, never rose above mediocrity. The stories themselves were sometimes slapstick comedy, sometimes morality tales, and sometimes stories of high adventure, but most of them were all three. These were never patronizing, but intelligent, witty stories that are still a delight to read. When most comic artists wanted a desert, they drew a line across the panel, colored the bottom orange, added a few dots for sand, and stuck in a stylized cactus. If Barks wanted a desert he got out his National Geographics, studied them, then created a very convincing landscape. Everything in a Barks story was that way. Some artists, American and European have since copied Barks' art style very closely, so that it is nearly impossible to tell a panel of his from one of theres. For a whole page, however, there remains one difference. Small as each panel is, and made even smaller by the necessity for speech balloons, a Barks page always looks very clean and open, as though there is room to spare. This is a magic none of his imitators has been able to duplicate.
Barks did not create Donald Duck, but he did create many other characters, including his masterpiece, Donald's miserly and fantastically rich uncle, Scrooge. The TV series, Duck Tales and later writers have greatly softened the character, and given him a mansion, a staff, and all the perks of wealth. Barks' Scrooge is a true miser. He lives in a room next to his money bin. If he wants to read the paper he goes to the library or finds a paper on a park bench. If he needs to travel, he can requisition transportation for big adventures. For anything local he bums a ride off his poverty-stricken nephew, Donald. But for all this there is a quality of decency and humanity buried beneath his stinginess and bad temper, though these qualities never surface for long. Barks' work is for children, and though now I can see that Shakespeare and Dante reach some heights and depths of the human soul that Barks will not take us, no creative artist more profoundly effected my childhood, or would have been a greater loss to it.
This page deals with the great writer of cosmic horror, H.P. Lovecraft.
The first of several pages dealing with a subset of the sword & sorcery theme with a heavy emphasis on the sexual, and on dominance and submission.
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The Lady of the Fountain: A modern retelling of a very strange and magical Medieval romance.