Today on the Covert Nerd podcast we will do some Tolkien Talk Next we will look at the state of Dark Horse Comics finally we will review a few comics.
Links in the episode:
It’s good to be back, I haven’t been gone if you are a regular listener you know that. However the format has been different than from the beginning. It’s nice to be back to how it started almost 2 years ago, just you and me talking nerdy topics. It’s like meeting up with an old friend who you haven’t seen in a long time you simply pick up where you left off. Let’s get right to it.
When you were in school did you like history? Statistics show most people don’t. However in our entertainment we want to know the history of our characters. We want prequel movies, we want origin stories. We want to know why our hero does what they do. We don’t want to know the dates we want to know the why. This leads to the first topic.
The announcement from Amazon about their Middle Earth TV series will be set in the 2nd age has me excited. If you are unsure about when that time is I will try to explain, if you watched the movie at the beginning of the LotR they talk about the war of the last alliance when the ring was cut from the hand of Sauron by Isildur. That was at the end of the 2nd age and the beginning of the 3rd age which the movie take place in. The TV series will take place during that time frame. There are some great stories they can use. Stories of kings and queens via for power. In fact I have a feeling they will tell the complete story of the war of the last alliance which they told an extremely condensed version in Fellowship of the ring.
This will give you the backstory on many characters like Isildar, Elrond and Saruon
If you didn’t know I am a big fan of Tolkien, I wouldn’t say I’m a super fan, knowing how to speak Elvish, but i would say I am above average in the fact I have read the LOTR, Hobbit, Silmarillion and a few of the other more obscure books from the legendarium as is referred to in Tolkien circles.
This is what I find interesting about the obscure background information in Middle earth and other fiction. Knowing the why behind the characters and places is interesting to me and hopefully you will too.
JRR Tolkien is the author of The popular Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books. Telling the tale of Hobbits or Halflings travel across the mythical world of Middle Earth full of mythical races of Dwarves, elves, hobbits and orcs.
What most people don’t know about his more obscure book of the Silmarillion and his 12 volume called The History of Middle-earth is a series of books published between 1983 and 1996
There are also other books in addition to the 12 volume set. All of this extra literature was assembled by his son Christopher. What his son did was to scour through his father's notes and piece together the partial stories he started but didn’t complete. Imagine the work to do this. For example he might find a paragraph in a notebook referring to Gandalf before the hobbit, then a few weeks later find another paragraph that goes with that same story. This painstaking effort has gone on since his death in 1973. The latest book to be release is Beren and Luthien. Christopher claims this is the last. I believe it might be since Christopher is in his early 80’s and couple that with the TV rights being sold to Amazon seems to signal a change in how Tolkien's works will be handled.
I will admit the Silmarillion is a harder read than either the Hobbit and LotR. However it has some great stories. It’s basically a bunch of short stories with a small common thread. Based on what I said previously what Christopher did with his fathers writings after his death this makes sense. In the case of the Silmarillion it is a little different, it was roughly put together by Tolkien himself but he submitted to his publisher and was rejected. Tolkien laid it aside for many decades and only did he work on it again shortly before he died. That’s one of the reasons it’s a more difficult read.
It does have many names and places in it which can be confusing. However it has many nuggets of back history lore like the origin of the races of Elves men and dwarves. Also the first dragon and first original dark lord and mast of Sauron Melkor. Also the origin story of Aragons family the Numenorians. Just like many other stories there is a rich history behind the main story. These stories take place thousands of years before we are in the house of Bilbo at Bag end. It makes the stories we know more about seem richer and fuller.
Another story line that does something similar is Robert Howard's Conan. I have read all of his books, Some of them were started by Howard but finished by other authors like L Sprague De Camp. Who like Christopher used Howard notes to finish the story in the spirit of the notes. Unlike Christopher Decamp did take liberties and added to the story to make them complete.
Anyway Howard in many of his books alluded to the fact that even in the time of Conan the earth was very old.
For example in the story of the Tower of the Elephant the alien in the story mentions him and a few of his kind came to earth long before the sinking of Atlantis. In another story Conan encounters another space traveling beings who came to earth while men were still apes. Then there's the fact many times he refers to Atlantis and that Cimmerians themselves are direct descendants of Atlantis. Again adding a full long history to build upon.
Having this foundation gives the author the ability to pull more stories and shore up their existing characters with more depth.
With both Conan and Middle Earth I find both of these aspects exciting, for you maybe not so much. And that’s okay everyone has different tastes.
I have been toying with doing a short segment called Middle Earth Minute. As you can tell by the name it would be short. I would explore the more obscure stories from Tolkien that connect to main story. I believe by condensing the story and keeping it short most people would be able to understand it and not get lost. The idea is to provide you with a good story and give you information you may have never thought of before. Just an Idea I have been throwing around. Could possibly do the same thing with Conan universe too. Let me know your thoughts about this idea or the history of some of your favorite fiction. Go to covert.net to contact me I will put a link in the show notes with all the different ways you can contact me.
Over the years Dark Horse comics has lost several IP’s Conan, Buffy Yosagi and Star Wars. Many talk about how this will affect Dark Horse financially. Dark horse as a company has had a few company owned titles, but for the most part they have relied on licensing other properties. Dark Horse was started in 1986 and in their early years their big properties were Aliens and Predator and the famous Aliens Versus Predator limited series awas huge for them. I remember that was one of the early comics I bought. The art and story was great. At the time the also had a terminator series too. Again not their own titles. They did try to Create their own super hero universe with their Comics greatest world series in 1993. It was received with mediocre acceptance by comics readers and was discontinued in 1996 except for X and Ghost. Two titles that did better than the rest. I read the entire run and it wasn’t bad in my opinion.
In the early 90’s Dark Horse bought the Star Wars property and release the Star Wars Dark Empire 1991 series which was huge. It took place about 5 years after Return of the Jedi. Like the Aliens and predator series they didn’t own it, but because their IP series sold so well I don’t think it mattered. They also got Robert E Howard's Conan property too.
Since Fox sold to Disney the possible loss of the Aliens and predator IPs some say could mean the end of Dark Horse. Which would be a great loss, but enter Jeff Lemire and his Black Hammer universe. All by himself has created the superhero universe Dark Horse has always wanted. The popularity of this title has grown so much there is talk of a DC Dark Horse crossover. Also Mike Migola’s Hellboy and Joe Golem series have sold well too. Then the popular comic turned TV Umbrella Academy. I think with these and a few other titles Dark Horse should be okay in the short term. These are creator owned titles but they are still generator revenue and exposure for Dark Horse. In the end even though they have lost several IP’s maybe they can move some of their resources to other in house projects like the ones I just mentioned and others that have yet to be revealed. (include list of comic titles)
DOCTOR STAR & THE KINGDOM OF LOST TOMORROWS
Writer: Jeff Lemire Artist: Max Fiumara
This dual-narrative story set in the world of Black Hammer series chronicles the legacy of a Golden-Age superhero Also by Jeff Lemire.
An aged crime fighter desperately wants to reconnect with his estranged son, who he hoped would one day take the mantle of Doctor Star. Over the course of the story, we learn his World War II-era origin, how he got his powers, his exciting astral adventures, the formation of some of Black Hammer's greatest heroes, and more in this heartbreaking superhero tale about fathers and sons.
The art matches the age in which it is set like the Black Hammer Universe it has the Golden age look. It’s interesting that today’s readers seem to like the very retro look and feel of comics from the 40’s and 50’s. The book is well written with a good pace to the story. Like Jeff’s previous works Essex county (which I reviewed in a past episode) the story is thoughtful and heartwarming. The series is only four issues, which I like this concept only produce enough issues to tell the story. I highly recommend the series. Let me know what you think about Dr Star.
Next we get local with three local books
Lenny Vernon written and illustrated by Al Garrison and Ben Crain
This comic is just plain fun. Lenny Vernon is the trucker version of James Bond. He takes out the bad guys and always gets the girl in the end. It’s also like Shazam and it doesn’t take itself to seriously. From zombies, to hipster vampires even a Def Leppard cover band that gets possesed. Lenny takes them all on in his own glorious way that only Lenny can and in the end he uses his common catch phrase “sweet sweet love” when he’s talking to his girl. The comic even has fake ads that we all saw in comics when we were kids. Again a fun comic to put a smile on your face. Al and Ben created the comic and both guys are good guys who know how to tell a great story that you will love. I suggest you check out the fun this comic has to offer. Link in the show notes to where you can pick-up your copy of Lenny Vernon.
Transient written and illustrated by Aaron Carlo
He tells the story of Samuel who wanders the post apocalyptic world trying to survive. He gets caught in an cult of pseudo christians who are taking advantage of the local people. He has to decide what to do stay or fight for those who can’t defend themselves. The art is classic black and white which gives the story it’s rugged feel to it. The story is seamless and panel fit the narrative Aaron is trying to tell. The world Aaron has built leaves room for endless other stories about Samuel and his journey to survive in what’s left of his world. I look forward to see what Aaron does with this one.
Stow Away written by Marcus Stevens and illustrated by Aaron Carlo
Marcus tells the story of the punk rock band Fractured Alice who is hired to kidnap a princess. This space adventure is a fun and something different because it’s not your normal space adventure. They story puts a punk band in the seat of trying to prevent a galaxy wide war. They are the most unlikely group of heros. This is a 6 issue series so I am curious how the story will play out.
Carl from the Goadkicker podcast is back! I have to confess I was a little giddy when I saw a new episode was announced. I enjoy listening to Carl talk about nerdy stuff like Gundam, DND, comics, fiction and life in general. He is the master of being able to talk about anything in extreme detail for long periods of time, this ability astounds me. I highly recommend you check out his show. You can find him on Spotify, Apple podcast, Google podcast and any other podcast app.