Archive for the Marvel Comics Category

THE WIND WITCH!

Posted in Australia, Banshee, dark fiction writer, desk job, horror writer, Japan, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, Marvel Comics, mythology, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, revenge, Storm, Warlock, Wind Witch, Writer, X Men with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2012 by ROD MARSDEN

COMMANDING THE ELEMENTS

The witch as elemental has been with us a long time. She has been involved in many cultures, past and present, and has crossed over many countries. In Japan she is well known in myth and legend as a terror of the night. In Britain she is best represented by the crazed banshee.

Sometimes the wind witch is a living being. At other times a particular type of ghost that haunts and even destroys the living.

Males of Britain supposedly capable of stirring up winds and thus the sea through supernatural means came to be known as Warlocks, the male equivalent of the female wind witch. This was way back in the 17th Century.

In The Wizard of Oz there are two female witches with elemental powers. One is considered good while the other is bad. A fairly recent stage play, Wicked, has sought to change this rather simplistic view.

Then there is Marvel Comics  Storm – a female mutant with the power to alter the weather. Generally speaking, she is a force for good. Also a force for good is Marvel Comics Banshee. Here tradition is broken in that the Marvel Comics  Banshee is a male mutant rather than a female.

In my novel, Desk Job, there is a Japanese wind witch with the power to disrupt people’s lives and generally to cause havoc in the office where she resides. She is not a creature of harmony but of destruction. Strangely enough, away from the office she is something else. Wind witches can be territorial and may affect nature but their own natures can be affected by their surroundings.  In the right place under the right circumstance there is calm and clear sailing. She has a green thumb and loves gardening. Under other circumstances, of course, the heavy winds stir in her blood and the sound from the witch is furious indeed. Where there is disorder and disunity she will make more of the same. It is what she does and the question arises whether anyone has a right to stop her during one of her rampages.

http://www.amazon.com/Desk-Job-ebook/dp/B008FF7E1K/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1341092241&sr=1-2

 

 

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A VISUAL WRITER!

Posted in Australia, desk job, Great Britain, horror writer, Marvel Comics, Night to Dawn author, pulp fiction writer, set in Australia, United Kingdom, USA, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
Black and white television

Television Science Fiction such as Doctor Who first appeared in black an white

I am very much a visual writer. Check out  http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/desk-job/

I grew up on Marvel Comics during the Silver Age of American Comic Books. This was the swinging sixties. It was the time when Britain rocked to the sounds of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. It was the time when most guys under thirty had long hair or wanted to have long hair.

In the early sixties the main stream American comic books showed their loyalty to the USA by their support of the Vietnam War. It was a case of the democratic people of the world versus those dastardly commies. By the late sixties going into the ’70s, however, there had been a change. The USA was desperate for peace and the commies might not be so bad after all. The mainstream comic book companies had be led down a more moderate path by the fringe comics, the comic books not considered mainstream. They marked their difference from the mainstream by referring to themselves as comix rather than comic books.

Meanwhile there was the mini car together with the mini-skirt coming out of Britain. Women were definitely wearing the mini-skirts to  shopping and to the cinema in summer in Australia. They were also, more and more, wearing bikinis along Australian beaches. The German beetle was actually more popular in Australia then the mini because of its sturdiness and reliability.

Surfing took off big in the sixties. With it came an interest in places such as Bali and Hawaii that had beaches at least as good as the ones in Australia. Surf movies also took off.

My first car was a Morris 1500. It was old but faithful. It took me places. In thinking about what to call one of my cats in my novel Desk Job, the thought of this car came back to me and so the cat became Sir Morris.

One of the Australian programs of the time that used to make me smile was Skippy. It was about a bush kangaroo that could do amazing things. Of  course I knew straight off about the fantasy elements of the show (a kangaroo just doesn’t have paws suitable for untying rope) but that was half the fun. Another thing was that you got to see the Australian bush on your tele in color wrapped around a good adventure. Skippy also did well overseas.

Of the overseas television programs around I was most fond of Doctor Who (Britain) and Star Trek (USA). Strangely enough, I am still a big Doctor Who and Star Trek fan. Doctor Who started out in black and white and moved to color sometime in the ’70s with the third Doctor. Star Trek was always in color but I hadn’t noticed this at first since I was watching it on a black and white tele. My family only got a color tele in the mid ’70s.

Of the novels I have read over the last four or so decades the ones that impress me most have had either an historical, science fiction, or fantasy. Presently my all time favorite writer is Terry Pratchett who is very much a visual novelist.

THE 20th AND 21st CENTURY VAMPIRE!

Posted in art, Australia, Barbara Custer, dark fiction writer, desk job, horror writer, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Marvel Comics, mythology, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, Romance, Sex, United Kingdom, USA, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
VAMPYRE

VAMPYRE

Television in the late 20th and early 21st Centuries has been a good source of vampire action. In the British television show Doctor Who there have been a number of exceptionally enjoyable outings with the fanged ones. The First Doctor, William Hartnell, came across a mechanical Count Dracula in an amusement park while being chased by Daleks. The mechanical Count Dracula with his buddy, a mechanical Frankenstein monster, actually aided the Doctor and his companions. The Daleks wouldn’t be scared and they wouldn’t play nice so they got knocked about.

The fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, ran into a nest of vampire like aliens on an alien space ship that had seen better days.

In Sylvester McCoy’s time as The Doctor, there was terror during the 2nd Wortld War in a small British village. Ace was there as his companions and, once again, it was an alien presence with fangs to sp;are.. Faith was the main weapon used against these particular crreatures. What you had faith in didn’t seem to matter though without it you were likely to end up dead.

One of the earlier adventures of the present day Doctor, Matt Smith, which was set in 16th Century Venice, had outer space vampires infecting humans to transform them into blood suckers.

Apart from Docror Who, there have been a number of horror shows, such as Night Stalker, that occasionally have an episode with vampires in it.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when it came out in the 1990s, changed the way many viewers and writers think about the undead. Only one vampire, Dracula, ever appeared in this show as the type of male blood drinker reminiscent of the late 19th Century type and the type favoured by the Universal movie makers in the 1930s and ’40s. There was one female vampire, Drusilla, who sometimes dressed as if she belonged to the Victorian age but this was understandable since she had not only been around for a while but was positively insane. Sure, Drusilla, as played by Juliet Landau, was attractive but you could never really tell how the cogs in her head were turning at any one time. She could be playful and cruel and even a little pathetic all at the same time.  Spike, who was her vampire boyfriend for a time, tended to dress very punkish and contemporary despite how long he’d acrtually been around. His eventual falling in love with the slayer made for moments of humor as well as pathos in the show.

A spin off to Buffy was Angel which didn’t quite work as well. Here was a show about a male vampire with his soul returned to him. Angel, as played by David Boreanaz didn’t quite work for me. I prefer Boreanaz as an actor in the television show Bones. Even so, Angel was successful though not as successful as the show it had spun off from. Charisma Carpenter, as the flip and trendoid Cordelia Chase, did a lot to make both Buffy and Angel work as well as they did.  Sarah Michelle Gellar played Buffy very well.

Sanctuary, a Canadian science fiction/fantasy extravaganza, started in 2007. Starring Amanda Tapping, it is about a place and the people dedicated to preserving the strange and the odd from humanity and also, at given times, protecting humanity from the strange and the odd. There are a number of vampires and vampire like creatures in the show.

Being Human started out as a quirky British television show where a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost set up house and try to live as ‘normal’ as life as they possibly can. Of course outside forces will not allow this to happen. The show kicked off in 2008. There is now also an American version.

There have been numerous paperback books dedicated to the Doctor Who television series involving the undead as well as novels dedicated to the  Buffy television series.

Since the 1980s, Terry Pratchett with his Discworld series has been playing merry hell with the vampire. In The Truth (2000) for example he has a vampire photographer keen on photography but also a bit of a masochist. Every time he uses a flash he screams and goes to dust and has to be brought back with droplets of blood. In his novel Monstrous Regiment (2003) there is a vampire who has taken the pledge stay off the blood (he’s an official black ribboner) but because of this has a mad obsession when it comes to coffee. Oh, and as the story develops we discover that this vampire isn’t a he at all but a she. In Monstrous Regiment there are, in fact, a lot of shes masquerading as hes. It makes for a very strange and funny read.

In 2003 Twilight Healer by Barbara Custer came out and gained some market appeal. It dealt with the vampire and also the ailing hospital system in the USA.

In recent years the novel Twilight by Stephanie Myer (2005)  has brought the vampire novel alive for teenage girl readers.

Now let us go back in time and see how the 19th Century writers left their mark on our views of horror and also how the latter 20th Century writers and fiulm makers also left their mark.

The 19th Century ended at a time when new technology was coming in to make life more exciting. The novel was doing very well. Stage plays dealing with horror had their place in society. Dracula by Bram Stoker, for instance, had gone from novel to play without much difficulty. Stoker was, in fact, well aquainted with theatrical life and knew how to promote his vampire as a stage phenomenon. The idea of having nurses in attendance, for example, for women in the audience  who might get over excited during a performance and faint was a stroke of genius. Of course nothing like this actually did happen but the result of having the nurses there was curious women packing into the theatre every night.

I picked up this bit of information about the nurses from a pamphlet I read while watching an Australian stage play production of Dracula way back in the 1970s. The very idea stuck with me because of not only the absurdity value but also the blatant showmanship of the thing.  Stoker did write short stories dealing with other vampires but he will best be remembered for Dracula.

Moving pictures were just starting up in the late 19th Century but had become a real and powerful though silent art form in the first couple of decades into the 20th Century. The Germans flirted outrageously with horror. Their use of shadow in what was then basically a black and white era of cinematography was extraordinary. In fact American horror cinematography in the 1930s that had to be more suggestive because of censorship restrictions, owed a lot of its atmospherics to the German trail blazers.

Early vampire films include: The Vampire’s Trail (1910), Saved from the Vampire (1914), A Night of Horror (German classic 1916) and Drakula (1921).

Nosferatu (1922) was a German cinematic masterpiece than ran afoul of the by then late Bram Stoker’s estate for copyright violations. Even so, it rates high today as a triumph of early cinema nastiness. Unlike Dracula, the vampire Nosferatu is far from handsome with a bald, rat like face. Instread of being killed by a stake he neglects the time due to the beauty of his would be victim and thus the rays of the rising sun give him his second and perhaps final death.

The 1931 Dracula had sound as well as what was for the time great special effects. It  came after the play Dracula’s recent and  successful run in the USA. Believe it or not, back then Bela Lugosi was considered by many female horror fans to be a sex symbol of the dark, forboding but still fun kind. Women wanted to be seduced by him.

Meanwhile unsuccessful attempts were made to put the female vampire onto the backburner. There was a scene filmed in the 1931 Dracula movie where you did have three rather attractive female vampires vamping it up but the censorship boys did the snip! snip! and we only have the stills and the original script to give us some indication of what this scene was like.

There were Vamps (dark, mysterious females with an edge) in the silent films and in the photographs that made photographer Manray famous but the beginning of the talkies  era was no place for females with fangs.

The silent film A Fool There Was (1915) has Theda Bara as a predatory but charming Vamp with a whip.

Vampyr (loosely based on Carmilla, a 1872 novella  by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu) was cinematically released in 1932. It had  a charming female blood-sucker in the lead role. Dracula’s Daughter, a film based on one of Stoker’s short stories, came out in 1936.

In the 1939 novel, Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood, there are female as well as male Cabaret singers and dancers poking fun at life in Germany in the 1930s but also vamping up the night. The film Caberet (1966) is roughly based on this book.

With the end of World War Two and the coming of the atomic age, the vampire took a curious turn. Could radiation produce vampires? Could vampires come from outer space?

In the 1950s there were a number of films dedicated to the outerspace bloodsucker including: The Thing From Another World (1951) and Not of This Earth (1957).

In some ways Richard Matheson’s 1954 science fiction novel, I am Legend, is as much about the futuristic vampire as it is about the futuristic zombie.

In 1976 British science fiction writer Colin Wilson’s The Space Vampires saw print. These, however, are energy leeching creatures rather than blood-suckers. Even so, they should not have been brought back from outer space to menace humankind. Astronauts need to be careful what they bring with them to earth. In 1985 the book was made into a rather mediocre film, Lifeforce.

Not all vampire movies can be taken seriously as horror and, in some cases, we know the intention drifted more toward horror comedy. Good examples of these type of films include: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948),  Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966), Dracula Meets the Outer Space Chicks (1967), and Blackula (1972).

Of the horror novelists of the 20th and 21st centuries Stephen King’s approach to the undead is somewhat unique. Salem’s Lot (1975), with its vivid descriptions of a small town in the USA gone mysteriously wrong, helped to revive the vampire for American readers.

Meanwhile in Great Britain Hammer was producing some of the best vampire films to be made in the 20th Century. These included: Horror of Dracula starring Christopher Lee (1958), Dracula, Prince of Darkness (1965), The Scars of Dracula (1970),  Lust for a Vampire (1970),  The Vampire Lovers (1970),  and Dracula A.D 1972 (1972). There was a fire which ripped through the Hammer studios and this, in part, ended the Hammer reign of visual terror. There was talk a few years ago about reviving Hammer but as far as I know nothing has come of it.

In the 1970s Marvel comics did well with its Tomb of Dracula series. The main illustrator was Gene Colan and the main writer was Marv Wolfman. An offshoot of this series are the successful Blade vampire slayer movies.

One of the better magazines to deal with vampires that has come out in the last decade or so is Night to Dawn. just about every issue has at least one vampire and, though it is an American magazine, both the writers and illustrators come from all over the globe. There are even one or two Australian writers.

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/

Vampiric  books from Night to Dawn include:  Trilogy of the Dead (2012) and City of Brotherly Death (2012), both by Barbarta Custer.

In the Night to Dawn range there is Undead Reb Down under Tales (2009), Disco Evil (2009) and Ghost Dance (2010) by Rod Marsden.

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/ghost-dance-excerpt-reviews/

My latest novel, Desk Job, is a salute to Lewis Carroll and, strictly speaking, doesn’t have vampires running around within its pages. It does, however, have humanoid praying mantises that are rather nasty.

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/desk-job/