Sunday, March 24, 2013

Blast From The Past

We visited Midway Book, one of my favorite local bookstores today while we were out and about. The weather was very nice and it was good to be away from the monitor. I'm still not 100%, but it is good to be productive again and getting things done. Anyhow, it was a lot of fun to go rummaging around in the stacks of old paperbacks looking for dubious treasures. They were having a sale on all the books down in the basement, so I went to see what I might find. I picked-up a copy of Balzan of the Cat People: The Caves of Madness. Never heard of it before, but it appears to be the second installment in a short-lived series from the Seventies. It's a rollicking pulp-style sword-and-planet adventure with a protagonist referred to as 'The Tarzan of Outer Space.' I also found a copy of Dave Van Arnam's Star Barbarian which I'd heard about from a friend, but have never been able to track down until now. It's an obscure book, part of another series,  about a post apocalyptic barbarian adventurer whose exploits so far haven't even garnered a Wikipedia entry. I also discovered A Plague of Nightmares which is book1 in Adrian Cole's Dreamlords series which was a real treat. I've been a big fan of Adrian Cole's work from way back, especially his Voidal stories. When I won Chris Kutalik's contest with my one page dungeon Tomb of the Forgotten Toad People, back in 2011, I used the prize money to buy all three volumes of the Voidal series produced by Wildside Press: Oblivion Hand, Long Reach of the Night, and Sword of Shadows. (Thanks again Chris!)

Happy with having found these obscure bits of pop culture flotsam, I returned upstairs and began to browse through some of the boxes of old pulp magazines. I hadn't gotten very far when I spotted a mint condition copy of Weirdbook 23-24. Wow, was that ever a surprise. One of my first professional sales of artwork was to W. Paul Ganley, publisher of Weirdbook. I sold several pieces to Ganley and it was through corresponding with him that I learned about the Small Press Writer's and Artists Organization (SPWAO), which led to my involvement with a number of small press 'zines like Scream Factory (I did the cover for #2), Scavenger's Newsletter, and others. I really enjoyed doing illustrations for small press 'zines all through the Eighties and early Nineties. Of course the Internet pretty much killed off the 'zines, though there are a few signs that 'zines might be making something of a comeback of sorts. But that's a detour for another time.

It was in Weirdbook 14 that I read my first Adrian Cole story Thief of Thieves, a Voidal Tale, and one of my all-time favorites. I actually prefer the version in Weirdbook 14 to the revised and polished version that is in the Wildside Press collections, but that's a minor quibble. Weirdbook 23-24 has another Voidal story in it Weaver of Wars, which is quite good. So on the same day that I lucked into finding a copy of an Adrian Cole novel I'd been hunting after for a long while, I also re-discover a copy of Weirdbook. One with three of my old illustrations in it. Serendipitous, huh? I hope it finds a good home soon. I really miss Weirdbook. If I ever did start-up my own 'zine, I'd love to call it Weirdbook...but apparently the name is taken. Oh well. So it goes.

When we got back home, I pulled out my own copy of Weirdbook 23-24 and some loose papers fell out. When I picked them up I realized they were the three illustrations I had done for that issue.

Page 45

Page 96

Page 98
I did a dozens of these not-quite-silhouette style characters back then. There was a really nice pen from Berol that I used to draw these with, but that model isn't produced any more, so I'll experiment with some of the new pens we picked up recently (there was a nice sale at one of the local art supply stores).

What an interesting chain of events and odd-ball connections. It was really nice seeing that copy of Weirdbook and now I just need to track down the remaining two books in the Dreamlords series.