Monday, 30 May 2011

Monday Eye Candy: Real, Late 50’s / early 60’s

000akcgx

I have been meaning to dig out my colonial gaming figures and start painting my Camel corps. for sometime (there is never enough time), and recently I started dipping in to my copy of Go Strong into the Desert by Lt. Col. Mike Snook. So while hunting through my pulp artwork folder for something to post today, when I came across this one it felt about right. Perfect for stirring some colonial spirit. OK, the outfit may not be exactly historically accurate, but she is wearing a pith helmet and the colonial types are clearly outnumbered by the local natives, what more could you want…

I couldn’t track down a date for this cover, so if anyone can help me on that I would be glad to amend this posting with the correct info!

Anyone interested in a little more realistic colonial artwork could do far worse than picking up Mike Snook’s Go Strong into the Desert.

go-strong-cover

Friday, 27 May 2011

Friday Eye Candy: Celtic Guardian by Tad Meisenheimer

Celtic Guardian by Tad Meisenheimer

A bit if a change from the usual choice here, this is a much more graphical work. I really like the interplay of the colours, and the addition of the blue motif at the top of the cross is really quite striking.

Tad has a mixed gallery over at Deviant Art, with a lot being fractal work and also photography. However his entries into the fantastical side of digital painting are can be quite enchanting.

Here is another of Tad Meisenheimer’s paintings, called Oblivion City, I was originally going to post this one as my choice, but as I have already focused on a post apocalyptic cityscape a few weeks ago, I went with Celtic Guardian instead.

Oblivion City by Tad Meisenheimer

Monday Eye Candy is Pulp themed, offering beautiful artwork to inspire and amuse!

Wednesday Eye Candy is sculptural, offering some of my favourite figure sculpts and models!

Friday Eye Candy features painting and visual images that capture the imagination and offer inspiration!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Movie Review: Valhalla Rising

Valhalla Rising UK DVD Cover

The movie Valhalla Rising caught me off guard a little, it turned out to have a lot more about it than I initially thought.

From the style of artwork and the reference to Bronson (a film I have no interest in seeing whatsoever), it is easy to assume that Valhalla Rising is going to be an ultra-violent gore-fest that has no real depth to it and is simply a macho “lads movie”. On one level, I suppose it could be seen as that. Certainly the violence is brutal and there is quite a bit of it. However, there is a lot more psychological depth to Valhalla Rising as well.

Valhalla Rising - Treat this warrior with respect!

Valhalla Rising - One Eye takes his revenge!

The basic story is that of a Norse prisoner, held by a local tribe, apparently in Scotland, and used as a gladiatorial fighter, taking on all comers and more or less beating them to a pulp! The lead role (referred to only as One Eye) is taken by Mads Mikkelsen, probably best  know for his role Le Chiffre in the Daniel Craig Casino Royale, but he has also had parts in King Arthur and Clash of the Titans (keeping it within my interest zone). I don’t think his character says even one word throughout the film, preferring to simply glower at people or indeed beat them to a pulp. The character that probably has the most depth is that of Are, played by  Maarten Stevenson. A boy who helps One Eye escape from his captors and then accompanies him throughout the rest of the film. Valhalla Rising - Maarten Stevenson as Are.Valhalla Rising - lost in the fog!

Through a roundabout route One Eye ends up joining a party of early crusaders, heading off by boat, to the Holy Land. Unfortunately due to a heavy fog they end up landing in a very different place (I wont give the location away, but lets just say that it must have been one heck of a fog…). At this point the film shifts gear completely, the first half has the feel of a grim and vaguely historical version of the 1982 Conan the Barbarian movie. The second half, however can best be described as a Viking Apocalyspe Now. The party of warriors that One Eye is travelling with, slowly descends into madness and death, as they begin to starve and are also picked off by the local natives.

A scene from the "Apocalypse Now" like parts of Valhalla Rising.

This is a very dark and oppressive movie, I think a “bunch of lads” just looking for a fun film with plenty of gore and not much depth would probably be sorely disappointed. However, for myself, I was actually very much surprise, and I found it both interesting and thought provoking. Quite beautifully shot, although again, against a dark and oppressive landscape, the design of the film is minimal, but very well done.

As for the DVD itself, it features a half hour “making of” documentary which is well worth watching, if only to get inside the head of the director and to get some idea of where he was coming from with the film itself.

 

Director Nicholas Winding Refn

Director Nicholas Winding Refn

Monday, 23 May 2011

Monday Eye Candy: The Thirty Nine Steps by John Buchan (Pan Movie Edition)

The Thirty Nine Steps

 

A bit of a change of pace for this weeks Pulp Eye Candy. No scantily clad beauties draped across this one. No retro high-tech or fantastical images. Simply down to earth out and out adventure! The Thirty Nine Steps is one of my all time favourite books, along with the other Richard Hannay books from author John Buchan! The epitomy of quality classic spy-fy, as with many stories from the pulp era they can be criticised for racial mistreatment and possibly other “politically incorrect” attitudes, but it is important to accept them as being very much “of their time”. It is vital that they are read in their historical context and not simple as modern stories in isolation.

OK, heavy stuff out of the way and back to the book cover. Clearly this cover features Kenneth More in , in my opinion, the best adaption of John Buchan’s book. It differs widely from the book, but for pure style and class it is a most enjoyable film. If you are looking for a closer adaption of Buchan’s The 39 Steps, I would recommend the recent BBC version that aired over the 2008 Christmas period, and starred Rupert Penry Jones!

The Thirty Nine Steps with Rupert Penry Jones

Anyway, for those hoping for some slightly more attractive images, here is Taina Elg, who was the co-star with Kenneth More in the 1959 version of The 39 Steps.

The Thirty Nine Steps with Taina Elg and Kenneth More


Monday Eye Candy is Pulp themed, offering beautiful artwork to inspire and amuse!

Wednesday Eye Candy is sculptural, offering some of my favourite figure sculpts and models!

Friday Eye Candy features painting and visual images that capture the imagination and offer inspiration!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Friday Eye Candy: The Black Arrow by David Demaret

The Black  Arrow by David Demaret

I have a slideshow set up for my desktop wallpaper on both my laptop and my desktop PC’s. I keep a folder set aside specifically called Wallpapers. It is full of several hundred paintings and photos. A good proportion of those are space art, whether it be astronomical photos (or paintings) or science fiction scenes like this one. I find that there is something very moving and really quite calming about looking at space art.

Now clearly this painting by David Demaret has a lot more going on that simple “space”. The composition is elegant, the use of colour is well thought out, although possibly a little burned out for my taste, and the general majesty of the scene, with the huge ships sweeping through the asteroid field is wonderful.

Here are a few of David Demaret’s other works…

Interceptors by David DemaretRun by David Demaret

I Mother Earth by David Demaret

For more of David Demaret’s work check out his blog, Moonchild!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Book Review: Blood Royal by Jonathan Green

pax_britannia

I have slipped a little behind with Jonathan Green’s Pax Britannia series from Abaddon Books. I have only just finished Blood Royal, and have Dark Side and Anno Frankenstein (just released last week) to catch up on. On top of that I haven’t read Al Ewings two Pax Britannia books, El Sombra and Gods of Manhattan either. So to put this right I am reading them one after the other and I will be posting a series of Pax Britannia reviews here on the blog as well.

blood_royal_250x384

For those who haven’t encountered this steampunk series before, the stories are set towards the end of the 20th century. Queen Victoria has been on the throne for a hundred and sixty years, kept alive in a steam powered life support machine. Jonathan Green’s entries in the series are all centred around the dandy adventurer and secret agent of Her Majesties Government, Ulysses Quicksilver and his manservant Nimrod. They have fought various dastardly plots aimed at bringing down the British Empire, all very much with a James Bond like feel, but clearly with that all important Steampunk twist. By the beginning of Blood Royal, London has been reduced, at least in part, to a post apocalyptic wasteland where venturing out after dark risks encountering many of the giant locusts that terrorise the ruined parts of the city (all this caused by a plot that was unsuccessful, in the previous book, Evolution Expects).

Green has incorporated many familiar steampunk tropes into his Pax Britannian world. Steam power, lost plateaus with still living prehistoric beasts, Nemo like undersea cities and even H.G. Well’s Cavorite!

unnatural_history_250x384leviathan_rising_250x384

I reviewed the first two of Green’s books, Unnatural History and Leviathan Rising on my former podcast (Dial P For Pulp!) and the fourth book, Evolution Expects, on this very blog. I seem to have managed to miss out the third book Human Nature, but anyway moving on to Blood Royal!

Firstly, can I say, even though I have really enjoyed all of Green’s Pax Britannia books, for a while there, somewhere in the middle, I did tend to feel that the writing was starting to feel a little “by the numbers”, it had all the right elements, but just didn’t quite grab you as much as it should have! With Blood Royal Green has completely turned that around. This book was one of the most gripping and fun reads I have had in a long time. In my review of Evolution Expects I said that I would have liked to see Quicksilver venture a little further afield, well he certainly does that in this book, visiting both Russia and Mongolia, before ending up in a Transylvanian-like castle. Quicksilver has run-ins with a queen locust (think of the egg chamber scene from Aliens), Jack the Ripper, an unstoppable mechanical assassin with long extending silver claws, Rasputin, a female Russian vampire master-spy, an Anglophile descendant of Genghis Khan and his Golden Horde of Mongolian dinosaur riders, and several werewolves (I don’t think I am spoiling to much revealing them, after all there is one on the cover).

After the initial Sherlock Holmes like investigations around London, the plot takes off at a frenetic pace, with a mad dash across Europe, Quicksilver both chasing and being chased by various protagonists. There are plots within plots and no-one gives anyone the full story until the very end. The set piece battle around the “Transylvanian” castle is just wonderful (the most fun I’ve had while commuting for a long time – I usually read while travelling to work).

I have a keen interest in Genghis Khan (Chingis as it seems to be more accurately termed) and the Mongolian Empire’s rise and fall and also Sherlock Holmes and spy fiction, aspects of Blood Royal were predestined to push the right buttons for me, but I think that there is easily enough to please anyone looking for some good steampunk, pulpy adventure. Green has expanded his remit from simply steampunk and added in a good mix of Gothic horror, and there are also hint of the coming “Weird War II” style conflict.

As with Green’s other Pax Britannia books, the main story concludes about 50 pages short of the end of the book, and we are treated to a Ulysses Quicksilver novella, here called White Rabbit. In Evolution Expects the novella Conqueror Worm turned out to be a cracking good read, that may have even eclipsed the main novel. White Rabbit, I felt, fell somewhat short of that. As you might imagine the plot owes a great deal to Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Now, I have never liked Carrol’s Alice stories, they left me cold as a child and I still don’t understand the attraction that they hold for so many people, so when I realised that this story would revolve around the Alice stories I was already put on a back foot. In need not have worried too much, once it became apparent, about half way through the story, what was really going on, it turned out to be a fairly normal outing for Mr Quicksilver. It is not one of my favourite stories, but it is perfectly serviceable and rounds out the book reasonably well.

After finishing Blood Royal, my mind was naturally carried to the wargaming possiblilties. There are some great set pieces that would work really well on the wargaming table. I just need to work out the logistics of putting together a Mongol army riding dinosaurs and using sabre-toothed cats as fighting animals, and also where to get the opposing army of werewolves from.

I finished Blood Royal yesterday and have since started Dark Side. As soon as I have finished it you can expect a review to appear. I will then read and review Anno Frankenstein, El Sombra and Gods of Manhattan, in that order. So keep your Babbage engine tuned in this direction and look out for more Pax Britannia over the next couple of months…

 dark_side_250x384anno_frankenstein_250x384

el_sombra_250x384gods_of_manhattan_250x384

The first three Green Pax Britannia novels have been collected into an omnibus edition.

the_ulysses_quicksilver_omnibus_vol_1_250x384

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Courting Publicity!

I am really pleased with the way that this blog is developing. The audience seems to be growing, month on month (in fact this month it has already equalled last months page loads and it is only half way through the month).

I am getting plenty of positive feedback from readers as well.

So first off, a big thank you to everyone that is reading the blog, and especially to those that have “Followed” it via the Google Blogger Follow thing-a-me (45 at present)!

Now, I do have a small request! Can anyone that is enjoying the blog and has a Facebook account please add Pulp Zen! to their Networked Blogs (you’ll see the box down the right-hand side of the page, just below the Google Follow section). At the moment I only have 10 followers via Networked Blogs, and to get listed in their main search I need 20 followers.

Once again, thanks for dropping by!

Oh, and by way of a thank you, here is a little something for you to enjoy….

Pulp Rocket Girl

By the way, I have no idea where this photo comes from, but it has a very nice pulp rocket, ray gun and attractive young lady in suitably pulpy attire!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Monday Eye Candy: Weird Tales – May 1934 by Margaret Brundage

Weird Tales May 1934 -  Robert E. Howard's Queen of the Black Coast

As promised, here is a pulp cover from the golden age. What could be more perfect,  a Margaret Brundage cover, featuring one of her lithe and virtually naked ladies, who in this case happens to be Belit, Conan’s pirate queen. This is a very different Belit to that depicted in more modern paintings and comics, and to be honest this is probably less like Robert E. Howard’s character than the more recent versions. After all, Belit was in many ways as strong and courageous a character as Conan himself, so to see her here as she cowers back into Conan’s arms, away from the winged demon could be seen as atypical.

However this is almost certainly the first time that Belit was ever realised into the visual form, so it deserves some respect for that alone. Also it must be remembered that when the painting was originally done it was certainly more normal for women to be portayed as the “weaker sex” relying on their heroic male champions to rescue them from peril. Perhaps it was simply a step to far to portray Belit standing alongside Conan as they faced the beast…

Margaret Brundage was renowned for her pulp cover illustrations and they certainly are the most striking and memorable cover to have appeared on Weird Tales, which was at it’s height of popularity at the time of this issue in 1934.

Here are a couple more of her Weird Tales covers.

Weird Tales June 1933 - Robert E. Howard's Black ColossusWeird Tales October 1937 - Tiger Cat

Weird Tales September 1934 - Robert E. Howard's The People of the Black CircleWeird Tales October 1934 - The Black God's Kiss by C.L. Moore

Weird Tales December 1934 - Robert E. Howard's A Witch Shall Be BornWeird Tales February 1935 The Web of the Living Death by Seabury Quinn

Weird Tales November 1935 - Robert E. Howard's Shadows in ZamboulaWeird Tales June 1937 THe Carnal God by John R. Speer and Carlisle Schnitzer


Monday Eye Candy is Pulp themed, offering beautiful artwork to inspire and amuse!

Wednesday Eye Candy is sculptural, offering some of my favourite figure sculpts and models!

Friday Eye Candy features painting and visual images that capture the imagination and offer inspiration!

Friday, 13 May 2011

Friday Eye Candy: The Eternal Navigator by Edgardo Contreras de la Cruz

The_eternal_navigator_by_delacruz_art
I have just finished reading a steampunk book, so I felt something with a hint of the VSF about it was in order.
I enjoy looking at paintings that depict strange, alien landscapes – especially lush one full of life. This does that very well. The addition of the flying paddle steamer is a bizarre and interesting twist!
I haven’t much else to say about this painting at the moment. Blogger has been down all day and I am tired (the busiest day of the year at work today). If you like the painting or any of the other below, have a look at Edgardo Contreras de la Cruz’s gallery on Deviant Art.

Pillan_by_delacruz_artPilot_by_delacruz_art

the_letter_by_delacruz_art-d2zfyjm
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Monday Eye Candy is Pulp themed, offering beautiful artwork to inspire and amuse!
Wednesday Eye Candy is sculptural, offering some of my favourite figure sculpts and models!
Friday Eye Candy features painting and visual images that capture the imagination and offer inspiration!

Iron Sky Teaser Trailer 3

I have been following the production of Iron Sky since the beginning. It is really developing momentum now, and we finally have a release date!

Produced by the guys that made Star Wreck: In The Pirkening, Iron Sky really seems to be upping the production values.

Lets face it, we all want to see a well made Weird World War II movie, especially if it has a touch of wry humour about it…

Monday, 9 May 2011

Monday Eye Candy: Science Fiction Quarterly, May 1951

ScienceFictionQuarterly-May51s

After last weeks, chainmail clad, axe wielding maiden, I felt I should possibly reflect the more typical pulp style. Still from the later days of the pulp magazines (I promise I will do some from the golden age in the next few weeks), I was looking for something to help with colour schemes for my pulp sci-fi figures (Hydra Miniatures Retro Raygun range). Admitted this one is not exactly that inspiring colour-wise, but I love the close fitting helmet, with the larger “bubble-helmet” over the top, quite Flash Gordon in feel…

Ronal The Barbarian Movie Trailer: What can I say...



Nothing much to say about this really, only that I really want to see this!

Friday, 6 May 2011

Friday Eye Candy: Imee Ooi II by Leonid Kozienko

Imee Ooi II by Leonid Kozienko

Leonid Kozienko produces artwork in a wide variety of genres, not all of them to my taste (I am not a big fan of the Manga style of some of his work). However, he has done some truly beautiful landscape paintings, some interesting military sci-fi images and girl art. Stylkes range from the almost photorealistic through to frenetically energetic battle scenes, atmospheric fantasy landscapes and on to cartoonish girly sketches.

He has such a variety of styles and themes I felt it would be wrong to just show one piece of Leonid Kozienko’s artwork.

Here is a further selection of his work (excluding some of his more adult themed girl art):-

Barbossa by Leonid Kozienko

Braveheart Fight by Leonid KozienkoWarhammer 40K artwork, Chapter War by Leonid Kozienko

Fantasy Princess by Leonid KozienkoHold Your Ground by Leonid Kozienko

Samurai Landing by Leonid KozienkoWarming Up by Leonid Kozienko

Leonid Kozienko has his own webite, but it appears that he prefers to use his Deviant Art Gallery. Just bare in mind that some of his images definitely would not impress your grandmother, and can probably be considered “Not Safe For Work” (NSFW).

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