Tolkien was probably the first fantasy author to be concerned with world-building. He created a world that was vibrant and life-like. He thought through every detail. In an effort to try and imitate Tolkien, many fantasy and science fiction authors think that they must consider every single detail. They spend an inordinate amount of time on world-building instead of actually writing. There’s something to be said for letting the story develop on its own without worrying about every little detail. Just let the story breathe, and worry about the little details another time.
The old pulp writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard built their worlds as they went along, for the most part, adding details when it suited them. Tolkien’s contemporary and friend, C.S. Lewis, for example, was part of this school of writing. He simply threw mythology and theology in a sack, shook it up, and dumped out the contents. He had fun with it, and I had fun reading it. Too many people forgot the simple joy of reading and writing.
This is my style of writing. Yes, I did some world-building at the outset, but mostly I world-build on the go. I’m still world building and I’m loving every minute of it.
Pulp magazines were popular for the first half of the 20th century, and eventually faded out of favor sometime in the ‘50s, being replaced by comics, TV, and radio. Pulps were so called because of the cheap, pulp paper they were printed on. They were the main form of inexpensive entertainment for working class Americans in the days before TV, radio, and movies were common. Pulps typically had several short stories or long-running serials within their pages. The serials were often combined into popular novels later on. If they were especially popular, they were often made into radio serials, and even movies in a few cases. Pulp stories generally depicted larger than life heroes, such as Conan the Barbarian, Tarzan, Buck Rogers, John Carter, and the Shadow, written by such authors as H. Rider Haggard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, and H.P. Lovecraft. For just a dime, you could enter a world of suspense, fantasy and mystery. This was especially important during the Great Depression in the 1930’s; folks needed an inexpensive way to escape from the economic hardships they had suffered.
Pulp heroes had a huge impact on later pop culture. Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian and Kull the Conqueror influenced a generation of fantasy media, such as Dungeons and Dragons. Doc Savage was an inspiration for Superman and hundreds of other heroes of Gold and Silver Age comics. The Shadow was the prototype for Batman. Edgar Rice Burroughs literally created movie franchises as we know them with his Tarzan series.
A proper longsword, however, is much longer than a bastard sword, and must be wielded with both hands. This is the type of sword that Aragorn fought with in Return of the King. The remaining categories, warsword and greatsword, are simply bigger versions of the longsword. As the blade lengthened, so did the hilt, to allow for more leverage.
There’s something beautiful about sword fighting. It’s a very complex, dance-like exercise. It’s such a joy to draw. Obviously, with a comic series called Legend of the Sword Bearer, there’s going to be a lot of sword fighting. To portray it with some degree of accuracy, I’ve had to learn a lot about swords; the different types of swords, the history of swords and sword-fighting, the various sword-fighting techniques, and so on.
A post by T.K. Wilson
One thing I’ve noticed about being in various fandoms: Y’all complain too much. Oh sure, I’m not innocent, I’ve done my fair share of fan-complaining over the years, but I’ve mainly given that up because, guess what?
It’s not about me.
And here’s another news flash.
It’s not about you.
Yeah, we can complain when someone does something stupid with characters we love. A little complaining and pointing out stupid storylines is fine and can bring about positive changes in the franchises we care about. But I draw the line when people decide it’s okay to attack innocents for something they’re not responsible for.
Like Kelly Marie Tran.
Like Daisy Ridley.
Like Millie Bobby Brown, who is literally a CHILD.
Fans have no right to torment actors and actresses for things that fictional characters do in a movie. Kelly, Daisy, and Millie have no control of what the writers and creators do. None. They may have input, but they cannot control what they do. They come in, they read the script, they object to things they’re not comfortable with (and they are usually listened to) but if the story is stupid, they can’t say “your story is stupid” and walk out. Not how it works. If you’re really a fan, you won’t blame actors for a script that was handed to them. Real fans can separate the fictional character from the actor that played them. Real fans blame the writers, not the actors.
I recently read an interview with veteran voice actor Garry Chalk, who was the voice of Optimus Primal in Transformers series Beast Wars and Beast Machines and then took over the part of Optimus Prime in the English dubs of Transformers Armada, Transformers Energon, and Transformers Cybertron. In this interview he spoke at length about how much he hated Beast Machines and the way the characters were treated, sounding very much like a helpless old man… which he was. He was paid to come in and read a script, he had zero control over what was done to his beloved character. https://news.tfw2005.com/2008/04/22/tfw2005-interviews-transformers-voice-actor-garry-chalk-164728#tfw
What happened to Mr. Chalk is a microcosm of what actors go through every day. You may love a character, but likely not as much as someone who has to live that character. Don’t you think it hurts when some stranger decides to take out his juvenile aggression and childish complaints on them? When they have no control over what gets done to them? They may not like it either, but they’re powerless to stop it from happening.
So, my fellow fans, stop acting like children. Stop whining. Stop attacking people for just doing their jobs. Just stop it, because this is pathetic.
This blog post may challenge your sensibilities, and it may rub you the wrong way. I ask that you read it with an open mind, and I won’t be offended if you disagree.
I think part of the reason the stories of H.P. Lovecraft have endured so long is that he was able to tap into a hidden darkness within our collective psyche. His hideous monsters of chaos play upon a fear within our subconscious minds. All people possess it, I think, though few know what to call it. Other people seem drawn to this darkness in disturbing ways. There are real people like that; people who seem drawn to chaos. Now, the cult of Cthulhu may or may not exist (as weird as 2020 is, I wouldn’t be surprised if the cult of Cthulhu were a thing), but there are people out there who seem to worship ugliness.
Recently, DC Comics released an alternative cover for “Wonder Woman: 1984”. This was a very different Wonder Woman than we’re used to seeing. I won’t address the “body positivity” aspect to this cover, because the artist seems to have disregarded basic anatomy anyway. The cover looks like something I might’ve drawn in middle school. The artist never varied his line width, and as I stated above, anatomy was out the window. Don’t even get me started on the purple skin tone. Who decided this was a good idea?
That cover is what brought on this post. There appears to be a concerted effort to destroy objective standards of what is art, and what is beauty. I’ve hated modern art ever since I was a teen, though I couldn’t place why. Modern art was absurd, and I just didn’t understand it, nor did I want to understand it. Some modern art is so abstract that it could be mistaken for a tablecloth. Other pieces are so ridiculous that you could swear they were painted by a toddler or even an animal. If your “art” is indistinguishable from the random scribblings of apes, then there is a problem. It angered me that people with less than half my talent could be considered “artists” in the same sense that I could. And people pay money to buy and look at these horrid insults to humanity. That’s the part I find most disgusting.
I’ve noticed the same with architecture. The drab, dull, soulless, monotonous boxes that make up most buildings today are as a result of modern, minimalist thinking that has laid aside the beauty and glory of past architectural works in favor of brutal, flat structures.
Art should have a form. It should be understandable. You should be able to look at it and immediately discern some form of it. You may not be able to understand it fully right away, but you should be able to know at least what is in front of you. Say you’re looking at a sculpture of a centaur, but don’t know anything about Greek myths. You should be able to tell it’s a man with a horse’s body, even though you may not understand the significance of it. Art should require skill and practice to achieve; you shouldn’t be able to get away with painting nonsensical shapes, colors and random splatters. There have to be objective standards of beauty. Otherwise, we sink to the level of beasts.
One of the things a lot of us did during the recent lock-down was play a lot of games: tabletop, videogames, mind games, etc. Probably a lot of us joined an online Dungeons and Dragons group. I include myself here because that’s what I did. My experience with Dungeons and Dragons was brief; I think I played it every week for about a month. While I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it somewhat, it’s definitely not my favorite thing in the world.
I did enjoy the lore and fantasy adventures. I could say things as my character that I wouldn’t say in real life. But then came the waiting. I had to wait around while the other characters decided to what to do, and then take turns doing it. Another one of the things that I hate; waiting. I’m a man of action; really dislike sitting around, doing nothing, while other people make up their minds. It’s annoying. So there I sat, on a Sunday afternoon when I could be out doing something fun, playing a game that I didn’t really care for. The games dragged on for hours; I realize DnD players enjoy playing long games, but as I’ve said before, I have a short attention span. The games would go for four or five hours, and I’ve been given to understand that these are considered “short” by DnD standards.
Then the time came to level up. I put the info into DnD Beyond, and it modified my character sheet; at least it did that a couple of times. By the time I got to level 3 or 4, DnD Beyond stopped working; it wouldn’t let me level up anymore. The DM told me that in order to level up more, I had to buy a subscription, or do it by hand. I replied (quoting Meat Loaf): “But I won’t do that!” I took maybe ten minutes to think. Did I care about this game enough to put the time into filling out a character sheet by hand? Did I care enough to pay actual money to do it digitally? The answer to both was “nope” so I bowed out. While I don’t necessarily regret my time playing Dungeons and Dragons, you’d have to pay me to get me to do it again, and I don’t mean minimum wage. Again, I’m not saying you’re stupid for enjoying it, it’s just not something I enjoy.
I had a BLAST on The Early Late Night Live Show out of Exeter NH, so here's my full show for you! I hope you enjoy it.
I didn’t realize the insane popularity of J.K. Rowling’s work until I had my own computer with an internet connection (I believe I was between 16 and 18). Potter references abound on the internet; the problem was, I didn’t understand any of them. They might as well have been making posts and memes in German. You see, I’ve never read Harry Potter.
My sister and I were pretty young when Harry Potter came out. I was barely reading at all, in fact (I was a late reader). So my parents felt that we were not at a maturity level to comprehend the difference between fantasy and reality in Harry Potter. These were realistic children, living in a realistic world, casting realistic spells. So it was out
The second reason being that my mother has a bachelor’s degree in education. She is very well-read, and something of a literary critic. Mind you, she had no problem with the so-called “occult” elements in Harry Potter. We read The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Black Cauldron, A Wrinkle In Time, and other fantasy books growing up; magic wasn’t the problem. My mother, in her critical eye, thought that Harry Potter was rather poorly written. Calm down. Breath in and out slowly, dear reader. It’s not the end of the world that someone doesn’t like your favorite book. You still reading? Okay, I’ll continue. My mother also held the opinion that Harry himself was, well, a brat, with a bad attitude, who got whatever he wanted anyway. She felt that sent kids the wrong message. I wouldn’t know, so I’m not rendering an opinion.
While I still haven’t read Harry Potter, due to the proliferation of memes in the internet circles that I typically run in, I’ve become Potter literate. I understand most of the references now, only because I’ve had to look it up. It was rather annoying for a long time; being left out of a joke is frustrating. I recall visiting a friends’ house, where they have displayed on the wall the banners of the four houses; it took me about three years before I realized what they were. I would go there fairly frequently and every time I scratched my head trying to ascertain what they were.
While it is frustrating sometimes, I don’t feel as though I’ve been deprived. I had a rather rich, imaginative childhood, with or without Harry. I don’t see myself reading those books any time in the future either. My reading list is extensive enough without adding another series to it. That doesn’t rule out watching the movies, however. And nothing against the franchise itself, but it has a rather “toxic” fanbase. Many (probably about half) of the Potterheads I’ve met take the franchise far too seriously. It’s almost like a religion to them. I understand being emotionally attached, but this really isn’t that big of a deal.
In the end, Harry Potter doesn’t really seem like something I’d be all that interested in anyway. As I’ve said in other articles of this type, I’ll be content to let others enjoy it.
All my friends love The Lord of the Rings. Understandable. I’m an epic fantasy fan myself. The huge themes, epic conflicts, and landscape of The Lord of the Rings make it a fantasy classic. I do consider it one of the best books ever written; I just don’t like it.
I say that so you understand that I don’t “hate” LOTR, or that I think it’s terrible and people who like it are idiots; I hold it in very high regard, right next to Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Milton. And like Chaucer and Milton, I find it incredibly boring.
I have a regrettably short attention span. It’s been like that as long as I can remember. I didn’t enjoy long, tedious books as a child, and I don’t enjoy them as an adult. A book has to have either high action or interesting concepts that challenge my mind or spark my imagination in order for me to bother finishing it. LOTR has interesting concepts but layered under pages and pages of unnecessary facts. Or at least facts that I consider unnecessary. Who cares what sort of soup they were eating? It’s totally irrelevant!
I read up to the end of the Two Towers when I was in middle school, fully intending to read The Return of the King, but it never happened. Last year, I attempted to listen to The Fellowship of the Ring on audiobook so I could get the full story, but I simply lost patience. For the few who haven’t read the book, but have seen the movies, YEARS passed between Bilbo’s birthday party, and Frodo’s embarking on the quest. It was an entire week between Frodo’s departure from Bag End and the meeting at Bree. All covered in excruciating detail.
Now, this is not to say that I also dislike the movies; I love them, in fact. Truly. They have their weaknesses of course, but they have even greater strengths. The movies only cover the most salient facts of the books. There was a ton of stuff they cut out, and they still take several hours to watch!
I do not mean to disrespect Tolkien; quite the contrary, the world that he created has defined fantasy for generations. I express a genuine love for the Silmarillion and the Children of Hurin. For some reason, I tend to prefer those. I suppose because they are several smaller stories wrapped up in a larger narrative; unlike LOTR, which is just one long story told in a ridiculous amount of detail. I want to like it, I do, but it’s just not my thing. But if you like LOTR, revel in it! Be an unashamed LOTR fanatic!