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Friday, August 19, 2016

Comic Cuts - 19 August 2016

After the excitement of Monday's anniversary and Wednesday's guest post, we're back to more mundane matters in today's column. This is my final week in the regular cycle of Hotel Business, so there isn't a huge amount of spare time for anything else.

I've pottered... a little bit of research for the next book, a little bit of research on behalf of the Science Fiction Encyclopedia trying to resolve the birth date of a quite obscure American author, a bit of time spent scanning covers and cleaning them up for tomorrow's cover gallery, a bit more spent trawling various sites for scans of titles I don't have (invariably a lot smaller than I'd like) and cleaning up the images (twice as hard because they're so small!).

All this is fitted around work and play. Play mostly consists of watching TV these days. I finally found a copy of an old Chris (X-Files) Carter TV show called Harsh Realm, which was based on a comic by James D. Hudnall. Now, I liked Hudnall's work. He did a great little 4-issue series called ESPers in the late 1980s with art by David Lloyd. John M. Burns did a fantastic first issue for a second series but dropped out when Eclipse didn't pay him, or took too long to pay him... it's a long time ago. All I remember now is that it looked fantastic.

Anyway, Harsh Realm was produced and I don't recall it ever appearing on British TV.  Now, thanks to a DVD box-set, I'm over half-way through the nine episodes that were produced. It's certainly not as bad as I thought it must have been to be cancelled so quickly. It's not a laugh a minute show, but it's not as bleak as Millennium; unfortunately, neither does it have as powerful a central character as Frank Black (Lance Henriksen). I don't particularly care for Hobbes (Scott Bairstow), who has been plugged into a virtual reality simulation known as Harsh Realm. At first a training programme which mimics the real world in every detail, Harsh Realm has been taken over by dictator General Santiago (Terry O'Quinn), who is expanding his empire and who plans to destroy the real world, leaving Harsh Realm the new reality. Hobbes' task is to take down Santiago, but he drops his mission pronto and spends most episodes trying to find his way out, making a string of wrong decisions along the way.

That said, the last few episodes I've watched have been pretty good, as we learn more about some of the characters (Mike Pinocchio, Hobbes' reluctant companion, in particular) and about the realm itself. Sadly, I suspect a lot of viewers had deserted the show by then.

Stranger Things, on the other hand, has already been given a second season. Imagine if Stephen King had written a horror show for Steven Spielberg shortly after Close Encounters came out. It's that good. We're half-way through the eight episodes and I suspect we'll binge watch the rest over the weekend, as we spent Thursday evening watching the finale of Penny Dreadful season two. And very good it was, too.

If you get a chance to watch The Nice Guys with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, grab that chance with both hands. I was already a fan of Shane Black and it wasn't long ago that I showed Kiss Kiss Bang Bang at one of our regular movie-night get-togethers. Black might well be my favourite screenwriter of all time: Lethal Weapon, Lethal Weapon 2, The Last Boy Scout, Last Action Hero, The Long Kiss Goodnight and Iron Man 3. There aren't more than a handful of writers who have that kind of CV.

So two of my favourite films of the year so far both star Ryans... Gosling in The Nice Guys and Reynolds in Deadpool. I need to see Captain America: Civil War again to see where that fits into the top three.

Random scans... and I had the good fortune to pick up a copy of Rogue Justice, a sequel to the famous Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household. This is one of the classic thrillers of the 20th century, predating the likes of MacLean and Innes by some way. In fact, Rogue Male was written before the Second World War and owes much to John Buchan.

The book was published shortly after war was declared. The sequel had to wait until 1982, although it continued the adventures of the unnamed narrator of Rogue Male in wartime Europe. I look forward to catching up with him at some point.

Household wrote quite a few well-received thrillers; I only have a couple of them but I know I should look out for more and maybe put together a gallery at some point. In the meantime, here are a handful to be getting on with.

1 comment:

David said...

Hi Steve

The good news for you on the Espers front is that the series intermittently resurfaced under the title Interface.

There was an eight-issue series, mostly drawn by Paul Johnson, from Epic in 1989 to 1991. A book collection can be bought at, where it's listed as Espers Interface, though I assume it can be found elsewhere.

Hudnall self-published a second series of Interface, six issues in 1996/97 under the Halloween Comics label, which was continued at Image for another seven issues. Both series restarted the numbering with issue 1.
I have no idea where you can find copies of these.