Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Will Murray: Literary Archeologist (of the Fantastique)

From an interview in CBR:

The artwork is really one of the pulp’s great legacies both in terms of the art that was created but also the artists that emerged, people like James Howard Kinstler or James Bama.

Pulps were training ground for aspiring artists. For a couple of generations, people who came out of the pulps went onto other things, became major talents in the slicks or Hollywood or portraiture. You used to see that in comics in an earlier day. Frank Frazetta came out of comics and others, but you don’t really see it in comics anymore. People who get into comics very rarely move onto become larger figures.

Tony is going to be publishing an unpublished Walter Gibson story from 1929-30. Because it’s unpublished we needed it to be illustrated and we’d been discussing who we could get that would appeal to the direct market audience. He’s going to go with Ed Barreto. There are a lot of comics artists we were talking about and they’re good, but their skills don’t always lend themselves to spot illustration, to do it in a way that looks pulp-y as opposed to comicbook-y.

What else are you working on now?

I’ve been asked to write for a DAW anthology called “Cthulhu’s Reign” and another Cthulhu anthology, “Cthulhu 2012” from Mythos Books. I’ve been asked to do some stories for the Moonstone Green Hornet anthologies. I helped them with the bible. I have a story in Moonstone's “Phantom Chronicles” and a new Spider story in an issue of Moonstone's ongoing illustrated Spider stories this summer.

I have a “History of Western Pulps” I’ve been working on for years. They were constantly reinventing the western. It never died but it was always lurching from crisis to crisis. Is there a market for this book? I’m not sure. Westerns are not big anymore, but I think this book tells you why. Why the western has fallen out of favor and why it’s great when it’s great and terrible when it’s terrible.

I was very flattered to be asked to write the intro to the “Marvel Comics Omnibus”, which is coming out on the 70th anniversary of the first issue of Marvel Comics this September. They’re going to reprint in hardcover all of the first 12 “Marvel Mystery” comics. I’ve been working on a fairly lengthy introduction that tells the history of Martin Goodman, his pulp line in the early Timely books.

We don’t think The Angel on a cover fighting Nazi bombers is significant, but they were publishing that book days after WW II broke out. It was the first WW II cover but nobody knows it because they don’t necessarily collate history with on sale dates. I love to pull together information that’s scattered and assemble them into a coherent whole to say this is why this is the way it is. Someone once called me the Indiana Jones of pulp research and comics research and I’m a little bit like a literary archeologist. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of work, too.

Speaking of literary archeology... anyone know where I can pick up a copy of this?

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