Posts Tagged ‘pulp’



Saturday, August 7, 2010

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I’ve always been attracted to genre comic-book characters from (or descended from) pulp magazines. These characters and their stories, imagery, and cult seem to have their own point of reference, their own pool of collective unconscious, their own roster of archetypes separate from the majority of popular entertainment.

Pulp’s well known characters include Doc Savage, the Spider, and my favorite, the Shadow, an ink splotch of a character, an icon made of three or four distinct visual features: a large black hat, a Cyrano de Bergerac-esque nose, and guns.

Over the years since the character’s inception, the Shadow has rapidly lurched in and out of the public’s trash consciousness, I think due in large part to the Shadow (aka Lamont Cranston) being a real son of a bitch, a bastard of character difficult to identify with. I’ve often thought that if Lamont Cranston’s crime fighting motives were as empathetic as Bruce Wayne’s call to the Bat Signal then the Shadow’s presence in our daily genre lives would be more consistent.

I’m a fan of the many different takes on the Shadow, visual or otherwise, but I think my favorite is by Andy Helfer and Kyle Baker, in particular their six-issue story Seven Deadly Finns. Helfer and Baker understand the dark comedy of The Shadow. They recognize the ridiculous and frightening visual conflict of a large nose emerging from a large black shape accompanied by twin explosions and a rain of bullets. To think of this as the last image you encounter before death is absurd but not necessarily inappropriate.


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Was Everything Better in the Thirties?


Friday, February 9, 2007

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This is decidedly Not Comics (©Tom Spurgeon), but since it’s from the author of two voluminous Alan Moore reference guides, and concerns one of the wellsprings that nourished (or malnourished, I suppose, depending on your point of view) the birth of the modern comic book, I think it’s still of interest.

More importantly: Six-Gun Gorilla!

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