Saturday, August 28, 2010


I've been working on a story for vol 7 of Tales of the Shadowmen for most of the Summer.

It was a great idea! Tales of the Shadowmen invited authors to use the characters of French, American, British and other pulp literature who are in the public domain in new adventures in crossover stories that shed new light on the familiar archetypes. The subtitle of this volume is "Femmes Fatales" and many of the stories will focus on the great villainesses.

I wanted to use Antinea, the queen of the hidden Atlantean city in Pierre Benoit's novel L'ATLANTIDE. This heartless villainess seduces visitors to her city and then dips them in gold to preserve them forever. It seemed to me that the perfect foil for the queen would be Maciste. If you don't know his name, Maciste is possibly the first character ever to have a series of films made about him. He was the strongest man in the world and saved the day in more than a score of silent Italian movies.

As I cast around for more characters to throw into the mix, I discovered P.C. Wren's classic adventure novel, Beau Geste. Friends also told me about a Jules Verne novel, CITY IN THE SAHARA about a city of criminals hiding in the Sahara and raiding civilized countries in their amazing flying machines.

It seemed like an irresistible combination. A lost outpost of Atlantis, a cruel queen and hr gilded lovers, flying machines, the Foreign Legion, and the world's strongest man.

Sadly, I never could find a way to make it work. It happens like that sometimes. All the elements are there, but nothing gels. The idea lacks some little spark that could bring it to life and just sits there. That used to drive me crazy. It still does, actually, but I get over it much more quickly these days.

I checked with Jean-Marc Lofficier and he graciously allowed me to switch stories in mid-stream. The new tale tells of the World War 1 meeting of Judex (a black cloaked mystery man who predates the better known characters the Shadow and Batman) and Hugo Danner, the superhuman protagonist of Philip Wylie's novel Gladiator.

The result is a little like the classic comic book teaming of Superman and Batman, but only superficially. These guysd are not the characters that comic fans know so well, and the story is profing fascinating to write.

It's also starting to flow in a way the first idea never did. Sometimes a complete stop and re-think works wonders!

1 comment:

Bobbie Metevier said...

Good luck! Sounds awesome!

You know loads about these characters from long ago, btw.