Our force is now 100 SUBSCRIBERS STRONG! We can’t thank you all enough for your support, and we promise to honor it the only way we know how, by telling damn good stories and creating exciting adventures for you all to enjoy. Keep your eyes peeled for surprises in the coming months!
SERIES NEWS: Progress has been made on the latest installments in the Urban Avenger and the Speedfreak Files. In the backstreets of the dystopic City, things take a wild turn for the streetwise fighter Lita when she and her one true love find themselves trapped in a labyrinthine compound deep in the annals of Haven. And on the Western front, lawman Nic “Speedfreak” Ridgefield finds himself in the throes of a dangerous manhunt. Armed with bandmates “Richter” Garret, “Madskins” Armstrong, and a wild gal with the inside scoop on a sadistic villainess, Ridgefield tells all in another thrilling tale of crime and brutal punishment.
EXCLUSIVES NEWS: Recording is set to commence on the debut of Alan Firedale: Desert Delinquent. Scripting of Episode 1 proper is still underway, but the pilot script is locked in the can and ready to read. The new in-world series tells the thrilling tales of a young vagabond and his high-tech automobile as they wander the desert, squaring off against the forces of evil lead by the distant gray dictator General Langdon.
The fundraiser for our debut Winter and Spring editions sits at 100%! Our quiet Ko-fi campaign has been a terrific success, helping us to ensure another half-year of excellent illustrations from lead artist Kevin John Jacob, and a chance to focus on other exciting projects. If you wish to support us further, you can also visit our Redbubble store where we have a selection of fine designs to choose from!
I’m pushing “Streetwise” ahead of the op-ed this week, as I feel it’s best to presage today’s rant with a little show before the tell.
Nothing quite like catching some air in a Space Age Checker with a hippie chick in tow.
Hailing from the top half of the 80s, it is the work of Peruvian-American demigod, Boris Vallejo. A fantasy artist nigh peerless, Vallejo’s blend of realist forms and colorful settings has been delighting genre fans since his days of painting pulp legends like Tarzan, Conan, and Doc Savage in the 1960s.
Celestial Cab is an entertaining work of psychedelic urban art. From its New York cityscape to the rainbow-sherbet sky to the phenomenally rendered cab itself, Vallejo pulls together a dreamy and delightful image of a stylish commuter riding in the clouds. In a way, the painting feels like a window into a universe similar to Métal Hurlant classic The Long Tomorrow by Dan O’Bannon & Moebius, and its spiritual adaptation, “Harry Canyon,” from the 1981 film Heavy Metal.
And in the spirit of said cult classic, today’s chaser for Celestial Cab is a tune from it! Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen with a luscious little number called “True Companion”
Moving on down the decade, this week’s slice of sonic divinity is a pop metal deep cut by an eternally underrated act. From 1986, it is “Double Man” by Alcatrazz, the penultimate track on their third album Dangerous Games.
A paranoid tale of doppelgängers with a vague futurist tint (lent by keyboardist Jimmy Waldo), the song spun is a hard rocker par excellence. In spite of the stress under which the album was recorded, made worse by Capitol Records’ comical mishandling of the band, “Double Man” and the Dangerous Games album at large showcases an electrifying version of vocal hurricane Graham Bonnet’s personal Rainbow.
Drummer Jan Uvena and bassist Gary Shea keep the rhythm section thundering along splendidly, and Danny Johnson who, when faced with the task of following guitar gods like Yngwie Malmsteen on ‘83’s No Parole from Rock ‘n’ Roll and Steve Vai on ‘85’s Disturbing the Peace, comes up swinging with pristine guitar tone and thermonuclear solos. And sauntering into the role of crown jewel is a titanic vocal performance by Mr. Bonnet himself.
When I created the character of Richter Garret, there was only one man I could possibly imagine being the sound of the young Hell Patrolman on mic, and that man was Graham Bonnet without question. Be it with Rainbow, solo, Schenker, Anthem and beyond, Bonnet’s ten-ton vocal performances have been ringing in my ears since I first heard “Since You’ve Been Gone” all those years back. And he does not let up on Dangerous Games for one moment.
“Double Man,” for when you want a New Wave sheen on your heavy metal.
And now for something completely different.
A five-alarm case of the “ARKOFF” formula for success, courtesy of American International Pictures, this B-grade teen bonanza is perhaps one of the great inciting incidents in the creative journey of yours truly.
Do I think it is the greatest thing since sliced bread? Hell no, the script reads like its been put through a Chicago typewriter and back together with Elmer’s. Formulaic in the 5th degree.
But do I love it unironically? You bet your ass I do.
1957’s Dragstrip Girl represents the first real step in AIP’s cornering of the teen market. Years before the Beach Party craze they’d kick off in ‘63, the story of a speed demon gal Louise (Fay Spain) and her love triangle with swell hot rodder Jim (Steve Terrell) and the hot-headed Fred (heartthrob John Ashley in his first lead role) strikes just the perfect balance of juvenile playfulness and hard-edged melodrama to sustains its swift 70-minute runtime.
Toss in cool cars, fun action, a solid cast (including a young Frank Gorshin!), sharp-tongued dialogue by Lou Rusoff, and efficient direction by the inveterate Edward L. Cahn, and you get the first of many rocking good times from one of Hollywood’s finest B-picture foundries. It’s simple, it’s silly, it’s straightforward, but by God is it fun. And that’s a three-letter word that you don’t find in the wild too often these days.
Dragstrip Girl is free-to-stream on Shout Factory TV and Tubi.
Now for a ramble that’s been on my mind for ages.
To quote the Bard himself: “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”
As the Iron Age dawns, moniker in hand and projects careening down the pike, there’s been the million-dollar question of exposure. How do you get to the audience? Having a media presence is important, as promotion and networking are 90% of the game. However, the foundation you build upon is as important as the product itself and to be frank, I see plenty of weakened bases the more I look.
I speak of the media critic and their focus on pop culture and news-of-the-day critique. The EFAPs, Nerdrotics, and the like, and how that model has been wielded by smaller creators as the go-to way of slipping in the algorithm. I get the argument, as laid out by fellows such as The Lucent creator Michael Bancroft. We are in a nonstop world fighting for a dwindling attention span and trying to cut through the sewage before us with work of our own. And building off the back of easily understood sociopolitical critiques is quick way to catch eyes.
But there’s got to be a better way.
It’s more than not “giving your enemy money,” and it’s more than “the algorithm.” It’s about presenting a positive vision of the future, presenting your work, and weaponizing your passion properly.
I pushed “Streetwise Caviar” ahead in this week’s issue because what I love is art. I love books, movies, music, and good old-fashioned fine art. It is the fountain from which my work flows as a creator. Not just intertextually, but as a muse. It sparks the imagination, takes you into another space in time. I’ll listen to electronic library music for ages, the ambient synthcraft lulling me away into my creative headspace. I’ll watch movies and listen to stories that evoke what it is I seek to do, or as a way to cleanse the palette.
You can’t just feed your viewers and readers slop all the damn time. There is flat-zero stimulating about ripping into “muh woke corpo garbage,” there’s nothing left to be said about “muh Star Wars” or “muh M-She-U.” And I’m not saying the answer is to turn into your high school ELA teacher and start force-feeding Chaucer down their throats either.
Treat your viewers to what you draw nourishment from. Do something that literally NO ONE else is doing. I’ve got big plans to revive one of my own projects, my review channel Quality Candor that got derailed by life’s unending travails. I want to show my readers, my viewers, and my listeners something enriching, a window into the fantastic. Terrific stories, fun games, excellent music. Because an enriched audience is an energized audience, and when you make it crystal clear that you’re dishing up that magic in your own work, I’d bet my bottom dollar the flies caught with honey will be a whole heap more than those caught with vinegar.
I don’t give a good goddamn if the algorithm doesn’t want that. If it wants cheap, quick-n-dirty dish-ups on the latest pabulum, all I have left to say to it is “fuck you in every one and zero.” Because that’s not the source of my power as a creator and it shouldn’t be yours either.
You shouldn’t spend your life enslaved to political discourse and indebted to the flavors of the month. At some point, somebody has got to kick the training wheels off and dive headlong into the long hard task of replacing the filth and foul pretense of modern entertainment and art with the treasures of the past and bastions of the future: your creations.
Comment down below with your thoughts on the state of it all. Is there a better way to cut through the white noise? How should we balance the demands of the almighty algorithm with creating a positive vision?
Also, if you guys want to get a mailbag going, consider emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org about not only this week’s “Battlefield Thoughts,” but questions you have at large. I’d be more than happy to carve out a little niche here to try and answer them.
A Tale To Tell…
This week’s story takes us into the spirit of the season. It is a swift tale of madness, of love, and of death. It is called Requiem Defunctorum.
Perhaps the shortest of our flash stories yet, this window into a soldier’s collapsing mind was penned as a writing exercise. A sudden burst of creative energy that paints a stark and striking image, just in time as Halloween draws near. We can only hope you enjoy this darksome little exploit.
May God bless you and this Force. Until next time!
I've been feeling rather de-motivated by all the negativety lately surrounding a lot of pop culture these days. Don't get me wrong, I understand where they're coming from: through critique and critical analysis, the hope is that people will want better creations from those that are creating. I can support that outlook, I just wish it wasn't everything on the table. Supporting people with a more positive direction has been my priority of late.