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.
I'm Ian Wilson; an eccentric comic artist, just telling a story.