Over at The Golden Age I’ve been enjoying a long series of illustrations and covers for the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. The features have included J. Allen St. John, Frank Frazetta, and quite a few more.
Today the site’s posted a collection of Roy G. Krenkel’s work on Tales of Three Planets. You can see a series of thumbnails for the cover, the final drawing and cover layout for the book, and the interior illustrations.
Krenkel was interesting in several ways: as a draughtsman, an inker, and as an influence on his friends Al Williamson and Frank Frazetta.
Krenkel’s biggest contribution to their two or three-way collaborations was his knowledge of history. He was familiar with the architecture, costume, weapons, and armor of the people in his drawings and I’m convinced that it’s due to his influence that so many of Frazetta’s paintings include accurate details. When your eye wanders over Frazetta’s hordes of characters you’ll find many historically-grounded bits, whether they’re Roman, or Persian, or Turkish: and when it’s my eye that’s doing the wandering I see Roy Krenkel in every one of those helmets or weapons.
The many young artists who aped Frazetta didn’t have that kind of grounding in real things that look the way they do for real reasons; so like other mannerists they’ve exaggerated the things that they thought defined his work. We’ve seen a lot of twelve ton battle axes and thirteen foot long swords. When I see those, I also think of Roy G. Krenkel: I’m thinking that everybody could use a Krenkel around the neighborhood.
It’s that time of the week once more: the time when I get feedback from my imaginary editor. (For those who came in late, you can catch up here.)
Last week I decided that my imaginary editor might not be insane, after all: that he might, just possibly, be editing somebody else’s book. If that’s true, then his notes are really meant for another person… and for all I know that person may also be imaginary. So I shouldn’t take these notes too personally. Right?
In that spirit I have to say that this week’s note is really interesting.
How bad does a book have to be before “And then he woke up” is an improvement? I mean, we’re talking Eye of Argon bad, here. Manos: the Hands of Fate bad. Completely unredeemable. Atrociously, nauseatingly bad. Bad on the scale of the stars.
Whatever it is that he’s editing, I’d kind of like to read it now. Or – better yet! – make somebody else read it while I monitor the electroencephalograph and stand ready with a bucket full of ice.
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First things first: my imaginary editor is armed again. It’s a development I can’t ignore.
If you haven’t met this evil twin of my actual, non-imaginary editor, try looking here. No promises, but it might help.
Second things second: my imaginary editor has raised an important point. One has to be careful with words, and especially with names. The fact is that on my second pass through Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom I saw that I’d given the same first name to two different secondary characters. In each case, that name had seemed perfect. But those duplicate names would have stood out in a way that certainly didn’t serve the book; so one of them had to become Evelyn. It wasn’t a fate worse than death, or anything.
Things are even more confusing in the case we see here. A Kiwi is a Kiwi is a Kiwi, but if two or more kinds of Kiwi appear together you ought to have a good reason for it; and you should make it clear which one is which, unless confusion is the actual point. Example: if three Kiwis walk into a bar and one of them explodes, it should normally be clear whether that was the fruit, the bird, or the New Zealander.
All of this is pretty obvious. So in a scene where I blew up one of three otherwise non-flammable Kiwis I should expect that the reader might be confused.
Third things third: I haven’t done that. There is no scene in Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom in which a Kiwi explodes. The reason I know that, even without looking, is that there are no Kiwis in my book. Not a bird, not a fruit, and not a New Zealander. They just aren’t there. Baboon? Yes. Something sort of like a squid? Yes. Kiwi? No.
This seems to confirm what I’ve suspected for several weeks now. My imaginary editor is editing an imaginary book.
I don’t know what to do about it. For the past six weeks I’ve been doing my best to act on these editor notes, and now I discover that they’re not even for my book.
I guess I have an obligation to look for the imaginary author who should have been getting these notes. Somewhere there’s an imaginary contract whose delivery dates depend on these changes. I just don’t know where to start.
Maybe in New Zealand.
Over at the Amazing Stories web site Steve Davidson has been posting works eligible for the 2016 Retro Hugo Awards. Because these are the Retro Hugos the works were all published in
The Hugo Awards were begun in 1953 and then continued from 1955 to the present day. The Retro Hugos, which are a recent (and optional) addition, celebrate works that were published before there was a Hugo Award. Don’t worry: it’s probably quantum.
The awards are organized by the year’s Worldcon convention committee. Since a different committee runs the show each year there are some years when we see a Retro Hugo, and some when we don’t. Next year, we will.
I’ve been interested in the earlier lists of eligible authors and publications/editors but the latest – the eligible cover artists – is the one I’ve enjoyed the most.
There are a lot of example images in that post. I found myself rooting for the lifetime achievers, particularly Howard V. Brown (right, upper) and Edd Cartier (right, lower).
But based purely on these covers from
1941 1940? I found that I really appreciated the covers by J. W. Scott (top). I guess that if I were voting purely on the output for that single year (which is what one should do), I might lean in his direction.
But its not like there aren’t a lot of other perfectly reasonable candidates in there. They’re all worth a look.
It’s a new (or newish) week, and so I’ve received my weekly feedback from my imaginary editor. If you haven’t met him before, you can catch up here, here, here, and here. Go ahead: I’ll wait till you get back.
He seems to have kept to that pensive mood we saw in his last message. But at the same time… I sense a return to his original
brutal malicious uncompromising assessment of my book, Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom. It’s subtle, but it’s there.
And I guess I can’t deny that a sentence will sometimes develop sentience and leap off the page, eating the cat, if applicable, or otherwise the dog, on its way through the window and into the street outside where it’s likely to cause a car wreck – or, conceivably, a train wreck – before it slinks off into the shrubbery and into its own intensely private, eventful, and undeniably long life in which periods are far outnumbered by semicolons. It can happen.
But on the other hand a long sentence that seems to wander can be a great setup for a quick, pithy punchline that slaps the reader right in the brain before he or she knows what’s happened. Which is pretty great.
I was sure that in my many editing passes I had winnowed out the ones that didn’t do that, and left only those that did. But I can’t tell. That’s because my imaginary editor never got around to telling me which sentence he’s talking about.
Maybe it was Chapter Twelve.
Anyway, I’m off to figure that out and to daydream about the return of my actual editor. As one does, in moments like these.
Matthew Hughes has started up another book giveaway at Goodreads. Through September 22nd you can enter for a chance at a copy of Template, a space opera set in Hughes’ Archonate universe.
Template recalls the Jack Vance of The Star Kings in a space opera of mystery and revenge. The character of Conn Labro is an interesting one: he’s a professional duelist who fights at a casino where clients with more money than sense can challenge him, for a fee, to any number of games, contests, and duels. In the beginning he’s a bondservant and that’s pretty much the sum of what he knows about himself.
His maturation as a slave gladiator hasn’t really prepared him for any other kind of human interaction and that, of course, causes difficulties when he finds himself out in the wider world. Along the way he’ll meet many travelers who have their own ideas about human life that are new to him, and maybe to you, too.
Great stuff, and now available to one lucky reader for the low, low price of free.
As is his habit, my imaginary editor has sent me his weekly feedback. (Confused? This all started here, then continued here and here).
Up to last week this evil twin of my actual editor was on an escalating cycle of negativity. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was pretty apprehensive while I waited for his newest message. So when I saw this one, I had to sit back and consider what it might mean.
This really looks like a play for sympathy, doesn’t it? Maybe last week – when I called him on his plagiarism – he decided to back off. Or maybe he’s trying to tell us that even a Mirror Universe editor has his problems. Or maybe he’s just softening me up for next week’s bombardment of red ink which, by the way, never washes out.
I like to think I’m a compassionate person. So I probably shouldn’t be smiling quite so much when I see that he forgot to pack his space helmet. Should I?
Anyway, there’s an upside. Just eight more weeks of this… and we’ll have a calendar!