The War for Evermore

Maxfield Parrish – An Appreciation

Maxfield Parrish is the Man. Seriously.

When the last century turned, there he was. Both in reflection of what was and presaging what would follow. Every modern illustrator of the fantastic owes something to his work.

January 15, 2011 Posted by | Imagery | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lady Ice

Of wandering heroes, women perched on pedestals, and unrequited love …

Lady Ice – Thomas Canty

This is a poem that graces a print hanging above one of the many bookshelves that populate Dartmouth Manor. The author is Eric Kimbell, and the poem is a rugged, rhythmic piece meant to be recited over deep and potent draughts of ale. ‘Tis the story of a weary traveler, an ideal of desire, and the lengths to which men (and women) will go for these prized dreams of imagination and libido … and the peril that awaits their hearts when they do.

Or, more simply put, this is a song of unrequited love …

Every now and then I search for this poem on the net and turn up nothing and so, as a public service  (‘mongst other things) I am reproducing it here.

And should you ever catch me in a tavern with a few ales under my belt, I might be persuaded to share my own redention of the good poet’s tale …

LADY ICE

If Time is a circle, then in a circling of Time,
I came to a highway in a midnight of rain.
Another Soldier of confusion in a murderous clime,
Another prisoner of misfortune with no word to explain.

So I rode for the border and I searched for a light,
And I was thinking I was lost when I first heard her voice.
So when she asked me to trust her, I thought that I might,
Though I knew from the beginning I really had no choice.

And she said she could tell I was a desperate man,
But she pleaded she was caught in some bad situations.
And she said, Every one of us must do what he can,
And if I did my best for her, she’s return the obligation.

At the edge of a hurricane only hunger makes sense,
And though I knew I really shouldn’t, still I rode where she called.
I surrendered my suspicions to the brittling winds,
And the next thing I knew, I knew nothing at all…

She is the Lady of Diamonds, She is the Lady of Ice,
Mysterious Enchantress, the Madonna of Sorrows,
And if she calls you to find her, you cannot think twice,
For what she says once will mean nothing tomorrow.

So I came to a tower all of glittering white,
And when I saw her in her window I prayed for control,
Her hysterical radiance unraveled my sight
As the fingertips of her beauty touched ice to my soul.

And I stood before her silence like a thief caught in flight,
There was thunder on the road, all the hillsides were shaken.
I said “Lady! You have called me! I have traveled all night!”
And she smiled as she replied, “I believe you are mistaken.”

And I stood beneath her window like a scarecrow in rags,
With my heart in my hands, with the rain in my eyes.
And when I begged her for mercy she cursed me and laughed,
And her laughter was like diamonds, and her voice was like ice.

And I stood within her shadow like an angel in chains,
There was a wicked storm rising, I was more dead than alive,
And as I turned to find the highway, I asked her for a word,
And as she barred up her window, she whispered, “Survive!”

Now there’s a cold wind blowing, and it cuts me like a knife
As I remember those words and I call back those hours,
And I count the man lucky who escapes with his life
From the casual cruelties of ladies in towers…

She is the Lady of Diamonds, Glad Lady of Lies,
Proud Mistress of Ruins with a conjurer’s heart,
And if she calls you to dance you had better think twice,
For in intricate bits she will tear you apart…

But … if Time is a circle, then, in a circling of time
I expect that that woman is going to call me again,
And as I listen for her voice, still I’m wishing she’d find
Some other highway in the midnight…
Some other desolation soldier
For her hollow crucifixions…
Another rider in the rain…

~Eric Kimball

Goddess – Barry Windsor Smith

August 26, 2010 Posted by | Hodgepodge | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Al Williamson – 1931 – 2010

Al Williamson passed recently, in June. I’ve been so preoccupied getting the first draft of Ronin completed that I wasn’t even aware until the past couple of weeks. If you want to know more about the man, you can go here. Beyond that, for me, with comics specifically and fantasy in general, it’s always been about the art, about the worlds these folks bring to life in their work, in their visualizations of places just beyond our realities. So, as with the late Frank Frazetta, one of many artists with whom Williamson collaborated, I’m going to let his art do the talking from here.

August 10, 2010 Posted by | Imagery | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Starter Library of Erotica

Cover Painting from Erotica, edited by Margaret Reynolds.

Okay, Spring has sprung and things are growing and our minds are wandering … and so are our libidos. According to the calendar, this is a time for new romance, thoughts of idle and not-so-idle affairs … and in that spirit, perhaps time to find something sexy to sit and read, either to ourselves, or to the object(s) of our affection. Thus, a list. This is not so much a ten best erotica list as a list of great erotic reading … if you enjoy erotica you already know these books, or most of them, and I’m sure plenty could come up with lists that will startle and please. After all, there’s a large, growing library of sensuality available, whether the material is listed specifically as erotica, or the more mainstream works you find in the Romance and Horror genres that have grown increasingly graphic in depictions of eroticism.

But this is a good core group that will not fail to please. As always, in no particular order …

Erotica – edited by Margaret Reynolds. Probably my favorite collection of erotic poems and stories, all by women, spanning the history of Western Civilization from Sappho to Margaret Atwood. and including writers such as Anne Boleyn, Emily Dickinson, Mary Queen of Scots, Anais Nin, Christina Rosetti, the Brontë sisters and Virginia Woolf. This is a dabbling book, providing an entertaining variety of style and substance that keeps you coming back for more.

Bitten – edited by Susie Bright. Ms. Bright has put together an array of erotica collections over the years, like the annual Best America Erotica series, and her beautiful X: the Erotic Treasury stand-alone collection. If you are looking for a set of shorts with a unifying element to experience the genre in all its variant flavors, Bitten is your book. Not a bad or uninspiring story to be found, and several that will stimulate the imagination, amongst other things. A great gift for the right person.

The Story of O – Pauline Réage – Okay, this is about as ‘Doh!!!’ as this gets and because of that understanding I almost left this selection off. But this book remains one of the most incredible rides into the darkness of erotic abandon a reader will find. If you have an ounce of sensuality bubbling in the core of your being, you won’t be disappointed. Even now, over half a century since publication, The Story of O remains a stunning, unsettling journey. (And, for a look into the mind of the author, this piece at Guernica by Carmela Ciuraru, The Story of the Story of O, is an enlightening read.).

Meeting the Master – Elissa Wald.  A very off-beat series of stories that focus on the exchange of power. If you are looking for story after story filled with overt dominance, sweaty bodies and lots of whips and chains you will be disappointed, provocatively suggestive cover notwithstanding. But if you are interested in the dynamics of control and submission, the subtleties and interplays, the psychological underpinnings of attraction and consummation, this is your book. Quiet, thoughtful fiction blended with an innate eroticism that shows you a world from a different perspective than the often stereotypical images that one associates with BDSM.

The Beauty Trilogy, by Anne Rice, writing as A.N. Roquelaure. Like The Story of O, I almost didn’t include this series, but that would be a disservice. In a sense, along with her Vampire books, Rice helped launch the modern era of literate erotica in the mainstream with this adult fairy tale. With all the sensual literature available for consumption nowadays it may be easy for many to pass over this trilogy as passé, but the books remain wonderful examples of a stylistic approach to a familiar theme that takes the reader outside the realm of expectation. In this case, sort of The Story of O set in a well-known fairy-tale, and told accordingly.  The books’ titles: The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty’s Punishment, Beauty’s Release. While I’m at it, though tame by comparison, I absolutely loved the understated erotica of the Victorian fantasy she crafted in The Mummy: Ramses the Damned. Powerful romance.

The Butcher and Other Erotica – Alina Reyes – Much like with Wald, this story isn’t just about consummation, but what gets you there. The Butcher is an elemental tale of sense and sensation – the author moves the plot along with deliberation, mixing desire with naked lust in powerful detail. And when the payoff comes, the journey reaches a satisfying, near breathless resolution. Less memorable, the second novella in the book, Lucie’s Long Voyage, is sort of erotica LSD that keeps your attention … being a translation, I wonder if something isn’t lost in the interpretation, concepts and ideas that don’t translate over with ease. But The Butcher lingers in the melting pot of the imagination, the story resonating long after the read is ended.

How to Write A Dirty Story – Susie Bright. Susie again. I think even the non-writer will find this book interesting, given its very straightforward take on the publishing of sexually explicit materials. For aspiring writers of dirty stories, it is indispensable, not so much because of the things she teaches – much of this, after all, parallels more mainstream genres – but because of the sense of affirmation Bright accords the exercise of creating and depicting eroticism in print. There is validity here, laid out cleanly and with solid support.

The Writings ofAnais Nin – What we’re talking about here is a body of work – a lifetime work. Nin is about as iconic as you get in terms of erotica.  I recall in the 60s and 70s, if you wanted written erotica, she was pretty much ‘it’ aside from Pauline Réage. A woman of my acquaintance once remarked Nin was, to her, the Godmother of 20th Century erotic writing, and I will not argue.

Butterscotch – Milo Manara – Absolutely sweet and sexy: no one draws a woman quite like Manara draws a woman. ’nuff said.  Manara’s stories tend to be whimsical, cute and sexy, the combination rolled up into a pleasing and entertaining graphic package that does not disappoint. Also of note are Click, Hidden Camera, and An Author in Search of Six Characters(the title an obvious play on Luigi Pirendello’s famous comedy). All good, clean fun – sort of – with lots of beautiful imagery stimulated by amusing, fantastical but recognizable fantasy components.

Honey, the heroine of Butterscotch, in dire straits …

Suicide Girls: Beauty Redefined – Missy Suicide – No, this is not a story or graphic novel. So shoot me. It is a thick (396 pages) volume of erotic photographs. Erotic photographs of very beautiful, vibrant alt-lifestyle women. Gal-pal Kelz and I came upon it while visiting Good Vibrations on Polk Street, where we sat down to spend what turned out to be a pleasurable late-afternoon-into-evening, paging leisurely through a copy, and ‘oooh’ing and ‘ahhh’ing with appropriate appreciation. The two of us were captivated. No words, just images … imagination-stoking images. “Buy it,” Kelz, says, and I did. You know when something special lands in your lap, so to speak. A wonderful coffee table book, filled with delightfully edgy beauty. Suicide Girls be good stuff, mon.


March 28, 2010 Posted by | Hodgepodge | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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