It’s Christmas day and my new illustrated time-travel story, Anchor, is about to be released. I’m getting last minute details ready such as figuring out how to make Atomic-vodka jello shots and finding my rocket-shaped cookie-cutters for the book release party. I thought it might be a good time to explain why I write and illustrate pulp sci-fi. Why would I want to write about ditzy women wearing little more than culotts and bullet bras? Short answer, I wouldn’t. The salacious images you’re thinking of are from pulp magazine covers used to sell magazines! The stories inside include strong, smart, female characters who wear flight suits and space armor, more often than gowns.
More than ninety years ago, Hugo Gernsback published the first American science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories. He referred to the content as “scientifiction,” adventure stories blending scientific fact and prophetic vision. He claimed that “posterity will point to them [scientifiction stories], as having blazed a new trail, not only in literature and fiction, but progress as well.”
He was right. Scientifiction stories, known today as science fiction or sci-fi, have inspired generations. They give people hope during troubled times and help them to see beyond themselves. I have the same lofty goal, to provide respite from the fishbowl of social media and the stress of news, politics, and financial woes. My stories are short, no longer than novellas, because I want people to read them in a sitting or two. And about the illustrations…these are not graphic novels but illustrated books. I use a variety of media for the covers but the interior artwork it always in black and white for a true retro-experience. All of the artwork in my books is hand-drawn or painted.
My top inspirations for pulp writing are — Henry Kuttner, C.L. Moore, Edmond Hamilton, Fredric Brown, Murray Leinster, and E.E. “Doc” Smith. For illustrations — Virgil Finlay, James B. Settles, Edd Cartier, Frank R. Paul, Hugh Joseph Ward, Walter Baumhofer, and Alex Schomburg (not necessarily in that order.)
I don’t write dystopian science fiction because I don’t believe that the future IS dystopian. I believe that it is NEOTOPIAN, something new which humanity creates out of (nearly) whole cloth. No one I know is truly happy with the way life is at the moment. I know we can all do better and in my stories I choose to follow the path of Neotopia. I’ve written more about Neotopia here.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Thank you for supporting independent author/illustrators like me!