Friday, October 09, 2015

Royal Doulton's Jack the Bulldog Bond replica

I don't do a lot of advertising here (in fact, you may have noticed that I've taken out all the ads from the site), but this is pretty cool and I haven't quite left Bond behind for October. English ceramics manufacturer Royal Doulton is celebrating the release of SPECTRE with a Jack the Bulldog figure that not only replicates the one M gave Bond in Skyfall, but also includes "a few cracks to his face and some charring to the union Jack flag draped over his back."

Here's the full press release:
Models of Bulldogs were first made by Royal Doulton in the 1940s and by this decade the breed had come to symbolise the steely determination of the British character. The ceramic versions created during the Second World War, featuring flags and hats representing the army, navy and air force, honoured the bravery and determination of military personnel and the UK’s Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.  
Royal Doulton’s Jack the Bulldog, famous for his cameo role in Skyfall, returns to the screen once more. 
Jack survived a traumatic explosion with little more than a few cracks to his face and some charring to the union Jack flag draped over his back. Bequeathed to Bond by ‘M’, he now makes an appearance in the new James Bond movie SPECTRE
To mark his role in the film, Jack has the reference number DD 007M.
Totally want one of these.

31 Witches | The Hyborian Witch

"There's warmth and fire... Do you not wish to warm yourself? By my fire?" -- The Witch, Conan the Barbarian (1982)

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Get your Kill All Monsters at Fall ComiCon!

This weekend is Fall ComiCon here in Minnesota and I'll be there with Kill All Monsters. In addition to the graphic novel, I also have bundles of the three issues of Dark Horse Presents with the new Kill All Monsters story in them. These issues are the only way to get the story in color (it'll be in black-and-white when it's collected in the omnibus), so if you don't already have it, come on down and see me. Supplies are limited though, so swing by early!

Hope to see you there!

31 Witches (Bonus) | The Grand Wizard

"Has anybody seen my tambourine?" -- The Grand Wizard, The Worst Witch (1986)

[Suggested by the Awesome Paxton Holley, who's Awesome-tober-fest on the Invisible Man is going on right now and you should totally be checking it out every day.]

31 Witches | The Witches of Eastwick

"What scares me isn't how short life is. No, it's the pain. All the pain. I don't understand why there has to be any pain." -- Sukie Ridgemont, The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

"The Eyes of the Panther": A Weird Tales Mystery [Guest Post]

By GW Thomas

Weird Tales, September 1942
The Jules de Grandins, the Conans, the Edmond Hamilton blockbusters were always prominently placed at the beginning of any issue of Weird Tales. Lurking in the last pages are the filler; stuff by also-rans who supplied regular, if not spectacular stories. It is interesting what you will find buried in these forgotten pages. Amongst them are to be found the first stories. Sometimes these initial sales prove to be a wonderful find like Tennessee Williams' "The Vengeance of Nitocris" (August 1928) under his real name of Thomas Lanier Williams. More often, they are obscure stories by authors nobody remembers. The one-offs. Writers who penned a single outing, were able to sell it to Farnsworth Wright or Dorothy McWraith, then disappeared into the dust of the past. "Off the Map" by Rex Dolphin in the final issue (July 1954) is one such tale that has been reprinted several times. But most never see the light of day again.

An example of such a forgotten tale is "The Eyes of the Panther" by Kuke Nichols (September 1942). Nichols is a complete mystery. Is this person a man or woman? Was the name a pseudonym, meant to sound like "kooky"? A little joke like Edgar Rice Burroughs' Normal Bean? Nobody knows. Kuke wrote this one story and it is all we have to go by. Let the detective work begin...

The title "Eyes of the Panther" is shared with a famous horror tale by Ambrose Bierce (October 17, 1897, The Examiner). Bierce's story within a story follows a family who suffered tragedy because of a panther that comes into the house by an open window. Bierce suggests that this incident causes the offspring of the victim to become a were-panther that is shot by her lover in the end. This story was filmed in 1989 with C Thomas Howell as the young man. He got to flip roles on Grimm, where he played a shapeshifting FBI agent named Weston Stewart.

C Thomas Howell in "The Eyes of the Panther"
Kuke Nichols' story has no real bearing on Bierce. It begins with an obscure quote from James Branch Cabell. The plot concerns a man who is tired of the city and returns to his ancestral home to live a quiet life. Becoming bored, he goes to the attic and discovers a trunk that was said to be cursed by his grandfather to keep anyone from opening it. Inside the rotting box is an ancient book, also falling to pieces. From this book, the narrator performs an old rite involving wooden poles that opens the gates to Hell. The familiar that lures him on is a panther with golden eyes, the source of our title.

But once the man has begun to open the door he sees what terrors he will unleash on the Earth and recants. He destroys the spell then flees for his house as trees all around him try to claw him and pull him down. Once inside he burns the book. The panther stares evilly at him before it disappears in the burning house. The narrator survives the fire and ends up in an asylum for a while. After that he chooses to set sail for the South Seas, though he knows he can't escape his fate, for at night, sea creatures stare up at him with the same eyes as the panther. He feels he is doomed, but holds a small hope that God will forgive him in the end.

The end result is that "The Eyes of the Panther" is not a terrible tale. It certainly is better than the many Cthulhu Mythos pastiches by August Derleth that follow a similar plot arc. The first person narrative is quick-paced and free of obvious defect. That being said, it never really rises above any of this either. There are a few interesting bits, like how their version of the Necronomicon "was wrapped three times each way by a tarnished silver chain, and that the chain was made of tiny crucifixes, linked end to end." Still, Nichols has all the denizens of Hell, but describes none besides the panther, first seen on the cover of the book: "Above the circle was stretched a great cat, a panther, perhaps; stained black in contrast with the rest of the carving, which was pale brown. The cat's face was turned outward from the book, and in its eyes were set tiny specks of gold."

Illustration by Boris Dolgov
Another odd fact about this story is the illustration by Boris Dolgov. Dolgov was responsible for some of the very best artwork in Weird Tales, a master alongside Virgil Finlay, Hannes Bok, and Lee Brown Coye. His soft, fantastic figures are elegant at the same time they are haunting. The illustration for "The Eyes of the Panther" is crude, asymmetrical, and extremely disappointing. I would not have known it was a Dolgov except it is signed at the bottom. In a tale with all the denizens of Hell to choose from - or the panther with the shining eyes - Dolgov draws a tree. And not even an interesting one. I have to assume he got the assignment very late or possibly even without a copy of the story. Even though there are trees that attack the narrator, this illo deserves to be buried at the back of the issue.

In the end, "The Eyes of the Panther" provides no real answers, only more questions. Was Kuke Nichols a pseudonym? If so it would mostly likely be for an author already in the issue, as avoiding duplicate bylines was the most common reason for using them. If so, the tale had to be penned by Manly Banister, Seabury Quinn, Greye la Spina, Robert Bloch, Fritz Leiber, David H Keller, Clark Ashton Smith, HP Lovecraft, or Nelson S Bond. Most of these are immediately dismissed: (stylistically) Lovecraft and Smith; (too big a name to waste) Quinn, La Spina, Keller; (never used pseudonyms) Leiber and Banister. Of those who did use pseudonyms, Robert Bloch used Tarleton Fiske and Nathan Hindin in Weird Tales. Nelson S Bond also used them in other magazines, but there is no record of his using Kuke Nichols. Most likely, Kuke was a fan of the magazine and wrote the one story, basing it on familiar themes and authors.

Could it have originally been a Cthulhu Mythos tale? August Derleth would clamp down on the Mythos properties as he was building Arkham House. (Shutting down authors like C Hall Thompson who wrote "The Spawn of the Green Abyss" and "The Will of Claude Ashur" four year later.) This story appears a little too early for that to be likely. The quote by James Branch Cabell suggests another inspiration than Lovecraft. Kuke Nichols was a fantasy fan more than a Mythos one, I suspect. The story feels almost more like an A Merritt story with its panther and gateway than something Poesque or Lovecraftian. Ultimately, we'll never know. Could Kuke have gone on and written even better stories? It never happened. The mystery remains, as does this minor tale for those who want to dig it up for some autumnal reading. Enjoy.

GW Thomas has appeared in over 400 different books, magazines and ezines including The Writer, Writer's Digest, Black October Magazine and Contact. His website is He is editor of Dark Worlds magazine.

31 Witches | Kiki

"We can fly with our spirit." -- Kiki, Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

A long time ago in a podcast far away...

Now that we're done with James Bond for a little bit (I'll do one more post before SPECTRE comes out, but not until after Halloween), I need to catch up on some other business. Like reminding you that I'm on a bunch of podcasts.

There's the Star Trek/Star Wars podcast called Starmageddon that Dan Taylor and I host. We've been doing it for about four months now and it's a lot of fun. We've had some great guests on; most recently writer David A Goodman who wrote the Star Trek-focused "Where No Fan Has Gone Before" episode for Futurama, was a writer for Enterprise, and has recently written The Autobiography of James T Kirk. You should totally make Starmageddon part of your weekly podcast listening.

Then, Carlin Trammel and I (and our respective kids) recently dropped a new episode of Dragonfly Ripple: Bringing Up the Next Generation of Nerd. We caught up a little on our kids' interests in Star Trek and Doctor Who, talked a little about old school arcade games, and then spent the bulk of our time discussing Spider-Man in general, but really digging into the Sam Raimi trilogy.

And speaking of digging into movies, I've also been on recent episodes of Nerd Lunch with Kay from Hyperspace Theories, drilling down on the Star Wars prequels. I've got a new theory about the Jedi Council that I'm working through as I watch these this time, so that comes up a lot, but also there's a ton of other fun discussion about what we like and don't about those movies.

31 Witches | Mother Talzin and the Nightsisters

"This one is strong. A perfect male specimen. Such hate. The sheer power of it." -- Mother Talzin, Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Monday, October 05, 2015

31 Witches | Hermione Granger

"Are you sure that's a real spell? Well, it's not very good, is it?" -- Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)

Sunday, October 04, 2015

31 Witches | Sally and Gillian Owens

"You should come round here on Halloween. You'd really see something then." -- Sally Owens, Practical Magic (1998)


Related Posts with Thumbnails