Sunday, October 26, 2008

NEW Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker: Welcome To The New World

(I'm very happy to again be writing a monthly Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker for the wonderful Erotica Readers & Writers Association. Enjoy!)

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It doesn't seem that long ago. When Adrienne here at ERWA asked me … or did I ask her? … about a writing column when I'd only been a ‘pro’ for five or six years. I loved writing those years of Streetwalkers, because doing it was kind of a strike against all the bad writing books I'd read and the awful classes I'd taken—a way to say what I wish someone had told me when I was just starting out as a writer.

But not having enough time, not having anything left to say, and general this plus nonspecific that, I stepped away from doing my Streetwalker column a few years ago.

But now Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker is back. Not because I suddenly have a lot of time on my hands, or that general this plus nonspecific that went away, but because everything’s changed in the world of publishing and erotica.

Sure, I know: Change Happens, The Only Thing Unchanging Is Change, and all those other bumper stickers, but what’s happened over the past few years is pretty shocking. Disturbing in some ways—okay in a lot of ways—but there are also new and unique opportunities. It’s a totally new world.

And what’s what I'm going to write about. Well, mostly what I'm going to write about; I reserve the right to go on the occasional tangent. That, at least, hasn't changed.

Why should you listen to me? Well, aside from checking out at my full biography—that Adrienne will, no doubt, put a link to somewhere in this sentence—I can pretty easily say I've written quite a few stories, edited some anthologies, have more than a couple collections and novels on the shelves.

I'm going to use whatever space I have left here to give you some idea of what I plan to talk about in future columns:

  • Why a blog or a site is essential (and common mistakes to avoid)
  • The more-important-than-ever need to develop good relationships
  • When you need to write about yourself – and when you need to shut up
  • How the erotica genre has changed over the past few years – and where it might be going
  • To podcast or not to podcast
  • New erotica writing opportunities you might not be thinking of
  • Print is dead, or at least not the only game in town – and why that’s a good thing (including what to look for in an ebook publisher)
  • New publicity techniques for the new world of erotica
  • Believe it or not, sex has actually changed – so erotica has to, as well
  • and much more ….

As with the first incarnation of Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker, please feel free to write me at zobop@aol.com with comments and suggestions, and definitely check out my pro site at www.mchristian.com and my fun sites Meine Kleine Fabrik and Frequently Felt.

Hang on, folks: it's going to be a wild, weird, and informative ride as we explore how the world of writing and publishing, especially erotic writing and publishing, has evolved over the last few years.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Who's Knocking At My Door?

Wiki:

The Person from Porlock was an unwelcome visitor to Samuel Taylor Coleridge who called by during his composition of the oriental poem Kubla Khan. Coleridge claimed to have perceived the entire course of the poem in a dream (possibly an opium-induced haze), but was interrupted by this visitor from Porlock (a town in the South West of England, near Exmoor) while in the process of writing it. Kubla Khan, only 54 lines long, was never completed. Thus "Person from Porlock", "Man from Porlock", or just "Porlock" are literary allusions to unwanted intruders.

Coleridge was living at Nether Stowey (between Bridgwater and Minehead). It is unclear whether the interruption took place at Culbone Parsonage or at Ash Farm. He described the incident in his first publication of the poem:

On awakening he appeared to himself to have a distinct recollection of the whole, and taking his pen, ink, and paper, instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved. At this moment he was unfortunately called out by a person on business from Porlock, and detained by him above an hour, and on his return to his room, found, to his no small surprise and mortification, that though he still retained some vague and dim recollection of the general purport of the vision, yet, with the exception of some eight or ten scattered lines and images, all the rest had passed away like the images on the surface of a stream into which a stone has been cast, but, alas! without the after restoration of the latter!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blog Of The Month

I'm touched to be Lisabet Sarai's Blog of the Month. Thanks, Lisabet!
My October Pick of the Month is M.Christian's blog. His tagline is "Imagination is intelligence with an erection." Typical guy, right? Seriously, though, M.Christian is an amazingly versatile writer who likes to mash genres together. He can write raw or tender, scary or futuristic. Definitely one of my favorite authors!

Monday, October 20, 2008

M.Christian on All The Blog's A Page: Being A Male Writer

I'm thrilled to be the featured writer on All The Blog's A Page:

Being a Male Writer: Author M. Christian


M.Christian is an acknowledged master of erotica with more than 300 stories in such anthologies as Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Fetish Erotica, and many, many other anthologies, magazines, and Web sites. He is the editor of 20 anthologies including the Best S/M Erotica series, The Burning Pen, Guilty Pleasures, and many others. He is the author of the collections Dirty Words, Speaking Parts, The Bachelor Machine, and Filthy; and the novels Running Dry, The Very Bloody Marys, Me2, Brushes, and Painted Doll.

His site is www.mchristian.com. You can also get a glimpse into M. Christian through the blogs MEINE KLEINE FABRIK and Frequently Felt.


Once again, acclaimed author M. Christian writes of the art of seduction. One of the pleasures of a dystopic future is the erotists, professionals who paint their clients' bared skin with neurochemicals that induce sensuality. Erotists offer landscapes of ecstasy, pain, joy, and delight. Few citizens can afford the skills of the talented Domino. Fewer still know her identity is but a mask.

Beneath the facade, Claire hides from a vicious crime lord who would not only kill her but her childhood lover. But the mask of Domino is beginning to crack...

Painted Doll is futuristic noir tale, a wildly imaginative erotic adventure, exploring who we are and the sexual awakenings that occur when we become someone else.

From Chapter Two, Painted Doll: An Erotist's Tale:

On the banister going up, winding down the paired columns at the top, lizards were marching in a tightly twisting single file, preceding tails barely touching the tips of a following hissing tongue. Round and round, up and up, each lizard behind the other. Under her fingers, sliding smoothly along the silken lacquer, scales, dagger teeth, and clawed toes, were almost too precisely carved, too excellent. Their realism a soft whisper of perhaps, maybe, could-be movement.

Claire didn’t like the walk up those carpeted stairs, another parade of tiny reptiles woven into the border in careful golden thread, because of that banister. Didn’t like putting her hand on the smooth pillars on the upper landing, either; that long dead Malay, Indonesian, or Chinese wood carver’s art too haunting, ghostly shivers up her arm.

One step, a pause. Another, and then another, and another of each: closer to the top with each careful, controlled, ascent, each cool hiatus. Hand out, holding the railing with each rise, the wood carver’s art was just a decoration, the thing that gave the Salamander Room its name. Domino, not Claire.

Vaulted in an upward sweep of beams that seemed transported from somewhere else, the room was warm, looming to be even hotter later in the day. But that was a long time to come, and the client had only paid for any hour. Two pieces of furniture, one piece of baggage: an opium bed, frayed fabric from generations of smokers, trim and tassels missing or discolored. Next to it, a high octagonal table, rosewood glowing from different generation’s use. On it, a leather satchel, low and square, showing early signs of wear at the corners but otherwise anyone’s carry-on, containing almost anything.

As Domino reached the top, the man on the bed rolled to one side; he looked back at her, she saw him.

“K-Konichiwa,” he stammered, with a sharp dip of his chin, eyelids lowering. Young, but not a boy. Dark hair in a corporate apprentice pudding bowl, growing out in a soft bristle around the ears meaning an approaching graduation to junior salariman. A few months before a move from the dormitories to a single men’s building. Student larva cocooned before emerging as a fully-formed and valued worker.

Flowing slowly into the room, the hushing of her kimono was her only answer. A celebration then. A promise to himself, a reward for memorizing the company manual, no doubt standing in the rain, pattering ice water on his bare shoulders, and singing their anthem until his voice had cracked, then broken.

Naked then, more than likely; naked now, clearly. Hairless and smooth, with nipples the color of his bloodless lips. Between his legs, no sign of a penis. Tucked between his thighs in a reflex of Japanese decorum. He could have been as sexless as a bee.

The Question: Reflect on the stories you have written – the stories waiting to be written. What themes, topics do you find your writerly mind pushing you to write?
How do these themes, topics portray themselves through you as a male writer?

I’m a weird critter – writing-wise – in that I’ve written a lot of work beyond my own (ahem) direct experience … male or otherwise. To put it another way I’ve had stories published in Best Gay Erotica (but I’m not gay), Best Bisexual Erotica (but I’m straight), Best Lesbian Erotica (but I’m not … well, you know) and even have two collections of gay erotica, Filthy and Dirty Words, and one of lesbian erotica, Speaking Parts. I’ve also written many similar novels, Running Dry, The Very Bloody Marys, Me2, and (recently) Painted Doll that are gay-themed. By the way, I’ve also published straight stories and novels, such as Brushes and the upcoming collection Licks & Promises, so I’m not just a “not gay but write guy stuff” writer.

What does this have to do with being a male writer? Well, I’d like to say that it doesn’t – or shouldn’t. After all, writers are professional liars in that it’s our job to convince people we’re telling the truth when we’re not – and we succeed when there’s very little, or no, doubt about that. I’m tremendously lucky – and tremendously touched -- that my work in the gay community has been so well received. I’m not alone, of course. Many writers have told wonderful stories about characters and situations far removed from who they really are.

The key, I think, is to respect your audience and your subject matter. People often ask me about how I can write about something like being gay or lesbian without have done (ahem) ‘field research.’ Sure I might not have direct experience but I do know what love, hope, fear, excitement, and disappointment feel like so I try to bring as much of that ‘reality’ to whatever I’m doing – and always approach whatever I’m doing with a serious hope of touching my readers.

The bottom line is that while I’m a guy I’m always working hard to stay true to what joins us together: that we’re more the same than different.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Dark Roasted M.Christian

I'm jazzed to have another article up on Dark Roasted Blend, this time on some spectacular examples of castles. Enjoy!


Arguably born the day that villagers -- and the people who profited off them - decided that wood wasn’t strong enough to keep them safe, castles quickly became more than just edifices dedicated to security. Instead of repelling borders, real or imaginary, castles became THE status symbol of status symbols. Monuments to bravado, they were stone and mortal proclamations to the age-old idea that ‘mine is bigger than yours.’

If you want an picture-postcard example of a castle, you don’t have to go anywhere but the Ch√Ęteau de Pierrefonds in France. Although it may have started out as a structure designed to keep some folks out and others safely in, it was later partially sugar frosted by none other than Napoleon the 3rd, who was shooting for a true nobility status symbol: a iced cake that no one but the very rich and very privileged could eat.


Pierrefonds is still a beautiful place, even if its fortifications were overly gilded – or maybe because of it. It’s no wonder it's used to this day when central casting gets a call for a classic castle.

But if you want a real Disney, fairy-tale, and totally insane castle, you have to visit the residence of one totally insane German king, namely Ludwig II of Bavaria. Look up gaudy in the dictionary and there’s a picture of his castle: Neuschwanstein. Glitzed and filigreed, Neuschwanstein is like Ludwig’s twisted brain turned inside out and realized in stone and brick. Monstrous chandelier? Check. Room made to look like a cavern? It’s there. Entire rooms dedicated to Wagner (with whom Ludwig was obsessed)? Absolutely. It’s all there, larger and more ornate than any life … unless, of course, you were the King of Bavaria.


One of my favorite castles, though, wasn’t the dream of a king realized in stone and mortar. Spurned at the altar back in his native Latvia, Edward Leedskalnin took his disappointment, and a case of tuberculosis, to Florida in 1923. There, in the land of oranges and sunshine, Leedskalnin began to build his very own castle, one he worked on until his death in 1951.

It’s still there and definitely worth seeing. It might not have the polish of Pierrefonds or the glimmer of Neuschwanstein, but Rock Gate Park, as he called it, is still a striking sight: monstrous slabs of coral skillfully balanced and beautifully positioned, all of them assembled without reinforcement or mortar.


Leedskalnin’s construction genius is legendary. No one quite understands how he built his castle and then moved it ten miles away in 1936. Some people think he used a kind of perpetual motion machine or mystical methods to move his several-ton blocks. Whatever the means, his Coral Castle, is still a magnificent achievement – the sublime result of his own two hands, his incredible inventiveness, and a tragically broken heart.

Stepping away from literal castles, but staying within the theme of very special men and the homes they created, one of the most beautiful is one you might not know the name of but one you’d recognize immediately. All I need to write is “You are Number 6.”


Located in Wales, Portmeirion was created by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis in 1925 (though some of it wasn’t finished until 1975). Although Sir Williams-Ellis wasn’t a king, he was obviously knighted, and certainly had help with his remarkable residence. Portmeirion deserves to stand with Ludwig’s vision of Germanic paradise and Leedskalnin’s eccentric coral castle because of its unique, and spectacularly beautiful, vision.

Williams-Ellis was so dedicated to preserving the tranquil elegance of Portmeirion that the filming location of Patrick McGoohan’s "The Prisoner" wasn’t revealed until the final episode of the series. Even with the careful hiding of the village’s identity, anyone who knew anything about architecture would have recognized the Williams-Ellis’s pearl-white cottages and the legendary green dome where, in "The Prisoner", the village’s rotating Number 2s had their office.

Portmeirion is truly a beautiful place and completely unspoiled by its television appearance. It remains today just as Williams-Ellis intended it to be: a tranquil village with a tasteful dusting of nostalgia.

Whether it's the gussied-up fortresses like Pierrefonds, the gilded dreams of a mad king like Neuschwanstein, the eccentric genius of Leedskalnin and his Coral Castle, or the whimsical grace of Williams-Ellis’s Portmeirion, a man’s home can really be his castle.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Awwww ....

I have to admit that I'm always a bit scared and nervous when I teach, worried that I'm boring or confusing the people good enough to attend one of my classes. So when Alice Gray, who also sent me a great story I've put up on Frequently Felt, posted the following to the Erotica Readers and Writers newsletter I was very pleased and touched. Thanks, Alice!
I spent a lovely Sunday learning more about the ins-and-outs of writing great erotica with the esteemed M. Christian. Not only is Mr. Christian a wealth of information and inspiration, he is also a wonderful teacher. His class, 'Sex Sells: How to Write & Sell Erotica', is a must-attend seminar for anyone interested in the art of writing good smut.

Drawing on his own experiences as an editor, Mr. Christain offered tips and tricks to help make your work stand out in the world of publishing. He also covered topics including the brave new world of e-publishing, creative rights, and the importance of networking.

From a writer's standpoint, Mr. Christian spoke of the need to nurture ourselves as writers. 'Submit it, forget it, and write something new' is the motto, and an excellent one at that. After all, if you've managed to write six new stories by the time the rejection slip arrives, the sting of being turned down isn't so sharp. He also touched on the fact that rejections are not personal. While it stinks to know your work might be rejected simply because the editor hasn't had her latte yet, it also gives her an element of human instead of all-powerful Oz.

To sum it all up, whether you are just thinking about writing porn or whether you have a thousand stories already sitting on your hard drive, this class is for you and at $40 it's a steal.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker: Who's Who

(the following is part of an ongoing series of columns I did for The Erotica Readers & Writers Association on the ins and outs and ins and outs and ins and outs of writing good smut)


Before I start this month’s little installment of “The Writing Life According to M. Christian” I need to toot my own horn a tad. Rest assured, however, that this has something to do with the subject of this column.

Now then (ahem). As you all are probably aware, I’m a writer. I write all kinds of stuff: non-fiction (like this column for the wonderful folks at ERA), reviews, short stories, even a poem or two. I write science fiction, horror, comedy, movie criticism, and a lot of smut. I write smut because I like to write and I’m very lucky that people seem to like the smut I write. My stuff has been all over the place, including Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best American Erotica, Best Transsexual Erotica, Best Bisexual Erotica, and a lot of other places.

Okay, that’s the set-up, and here’s the pitch: I’m a straight guy.

Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before: how can I write gay smut when I’m straight. Well, I got news for you: I’m a writer. It’s my job to tell stories - the fact they happen to be about gay men and women (as well as straight men and women) is inconsequential. I consider it a tremendous compliment that I’m the first guy to make it into Best Lesbian Erotica - and that Alyson is putting together a collection of my girl smut. But there’s something that’s also very important about these weird credits of mine - namely, how I got them: I never lied about who I am.

Okay, there have been some fun miscommunications over the years - like when a publisher asked a friend we had in common: “What kind of men does Chris like?” and the friend had to break it to him: “Women.” Or wen I called to see if a bookstore was willing to have a reading from my new book - and then were shocked when “M. Christian” was a tall thin guy, with a beard, and not the lesbian they were expecting.

Fiction writing is just that: ‘fiction’ - not truth. I’ve called writing ‘creative lying’ and I mean it, it’s the act of telling a tall tale - to convince the reader than you are something you might not be in real life. There’s a long tradition of cross-sexuality writing: women writing gay smut, straight guys writing lesbian erotica, and so forth. As far as I know, no one’s really been given a hard time about it - though I’ve heard some small grumbles periodically. Most publishers and editors are pretty understanding, that when a project is ‘fictional’ then just about anyone can write for it - unless, of course, they have a restriction (for instance, that all the authors be women, or men, etc.). I know that when I’ve edited books I’ve never really inquired about the sexuality or gender of the author, because it’s never really mattered to the project I’m working on.

But there’s a big difference between writing a fictional story and trying to sell it with a lie. For example, if a project say that it is open only to women, that does not mean you can, or should, pretend to be a woman just to be considered for the publication. As with lots of editorial situations: when in doubt, ask. “Dear Editor, I am interested in writing for your book. Would you mind receiving a submission for a - ?” - insert your real gender here. There, is that hard? Most publishers - like Alyson books, for instance - rarely mind receiving a submission from someone not the gender/orientation of the project, if the project is ‘fictional’. I would never submit something to, say, “True Coming Out Stories” or similar - unless, of course, the publisher/editor asked me or I had some other form of acceptability for the project.

A word about pseudonyms. Some people like to separate their various writing identities through several different pen names. God knows I’m not one to criticize (my own glass house has “M. Christian” on the mailbox) but I would be careful about tailoring names to fit markets. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it - especially if you’re up front with your real identity - but editors have been known to be uncomfortable with accepting stories that have been signed with a name designed just to fit that market. Besides, why give one of your lesser-known names a good credit when you can add it to your main resume? I think it’s kind of cool that my own name appears in both smut and non-smut books: I’m proud of what I do: erotic or non, gay or straight, etc.

I’ve heard of some people who have been accepted for some project or other then to be kicked out because their ‘true’ selves came to light. I can’t say I’m that sympathetic - mainly because the few times I have heard of this happening the writer has definitely played a bit loose with their ‘writer persona’ and pitched themselves as something they weren’t (in one case, as 20-something lesbian when they were actually a 50-something straight guy). You don’t have to say that you’re a guy when you’re submitting to a lesbian fiction anthology - but your bio should definitely use the word ‘he’ - but you should never say that you live with your domestic partner, Alice, and have two cats (unless you really do, of course).

The bottom line is that fiction is just that: something made up, not related to the real world - or not related all that much, at any rate. But anything beyond the story itself, truth - honest to god truth - should rule. There’s a time for stories and a time for being who, and what, you really are: the thing to remember is where one starts and where one ends.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thanks -

- to all the wonderful people who braved a beautiful San Francisco Sunday to take my Sex Sells: How to Write & Sell Erotica class on Sunday. It was a lot of fun to teach - and hopefully a lot of fun to attend.

Depending on time and life there’s a chance I might teach the class again sometime soon. Keep an eye my sites for further info.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Haunted Hearths


I'm very pleased and proud to be one of the authors in Catherine Lundoff's fantastic anthology, Haunted Hearths. Catherine is a fantastic person, a great writer, as well as a great editor. Check the book out here.

As part of her promo for the book she's been asking the authors about their stories and other fun stuff. Here's mine:
Can you talk a bit about your inspiration for "The One I Left Behind"?

Well I tried to put a different spin on the whole idea of what a ghost could be: we know that it's supposed to be the 'spirit' of a dead person – but what if what died wasn't a whole person but instead just a part of us? We've all had dreams we've had to let go of, so what we were haunted by the partial 'self' we had to let go of, or was taken from us? That's what I was playing with – I just hope people like the result!

Have you ever had an encounter with a ghost?

Nope, sorry – not as far as I know. But then who's to say what's out there? Lots of people look like they're sleep-walking … maybe they're dead and just don't know it. Or maybe I am but I don't … ☺

What's your favorite ghost story (you can pick a movie if you prefer)?

Aside from classics I have a thing for ghost stories from different cultures, particularly Japan. It's lots of fun – and enlightening – to see how the idea of a ghost or a spirit reflects the values or worldviews of a culture. Like the Kasa Obake: in Japanese mythology if an object gets to be 100 years old it develops its own spirit – which is what an umbrella gets is called when it gets to be that ripe old age. Very fun stuff!

What are you working on now and where can readers find out more about you?

The main place to look is M. Christian which is my site. Right now I have whole bunch of fun things out: Brushes, an erotic romance novel; Me2, a gay horror/thriller; Filthy, a collection of my gay erotica; and from the fine folks at Lethe Press a reprinting of my gay horror/comedy The Very Bloody Marys, and my new noir/SF/erotica novel Painted Doll: An Erotist's Tale.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Dark Roasted M.Christian


If you love classic pulp artists - and I certainly do - check out my new article on Dark Roasted Blend:

Grand Old Times … In The Future
The polished humanism of Star Trek; the grungy mythology of Star Wars; the uncomplicated flesh versus machine of Battlestar Galactica, the Terminator flicks, and the Matrix movies –- the future is all around us. Bitter, sweet, dark, light: You just have to pick your flavor for what you want tomorrow to be.

But step back just a few decades and recall how looking at tomorrow was solely for newsstands and tawdry bookstores, which presented a loudly lurid universe of glistening glass tubes, gleaming chrome starships, and frantically faced diabolical scientists of the very-mad and very-bad variety. Amazing Stories, Weird Tales, Wonder Stories, Astounding Science Fiction, Planet Stories, and the rest of their pulpy kin were secret sins, magazines smuggled home to be read under the covers by the dying batteries of a Boy Scout flashlight.

At the time, the artists working for the pulps weren’t considered anything but cheap creatives providing cheap entertainment for cheap minds. But now we know what they were: visions of wonder, amazing vistas of the imagination, daring dreams of possibility, magnificent views of What Could Be -- but most of all we look back at what they did and recognize it for being truly magnificent art.

Unfortunately there isn’t enough time or space to touch on all of the artists who worked for the pulps that were printed between (roughly) 1920 (something) and 1950 (something), but here’s a quick guide to some of my own personal favorites, the artists who created a world of tomorrow when today was the only thing people could see.

You have no choice but to be amazed by Frank R. Paul’s Amazing Stories covers. While the world was coughing and spitting behind the wooden wheels of Model T Fords or barely getting off the ground in biplanes, Paul created wonderful scientific dreams for a wonderful array of magazines. His visions might have been built from the stuff of those early days –- tubes, wires, electrodes, sprawling cities –- but Paul had a bravery of scope: steamships flew through the sky, tidal waves cracked skyscrapers in half, dozens of alien vistas sparked the imagination, and scientists peered into the vastness of space with telescopes the size of mountains. But whatever the size of his scope, Paul also filled his images with incredible detail, giving each one a reality that made his work like a functional blueprint for the future and not just an enticement to drop a nickel for an afternoon’s amusement.


Although he’s also legendary for his covers, praise for Virgil Finlay has mostly been –- rightfully -- given out for his black and white interior work. Sure he also had scope, drama, crazy dreams, and pulp outrageousness but to see a Finlay illustration is to be hushed into silence by its beauty, subtlety, and sensuality. It's easy to picture his images from Weird Tales hanging in the great galleries of the world. The fact that much of his early work was for neglected and belittled pulps like Weird Tales is nothing short of infuriating.


Hannes Bok has to be on this stage of artistic magnificence as well. Like Finlay, his style is refined and elegant, so much more than the pulps he worked for. But he also brought a playful madness to his illustrations: a twisted kind of beauty to his figures and environments. Looking at a Bok cover, you didn’t know whether what you were looking at was a dream or a nightmare, but you always felt that it was rich, glowing with passion, perfectly composed, and absolutely brilliant.


Another inspired illustrator, one that jumped from the pulps to pretty much every kind of illustration, is was the legendary Wally Wood. It would take a book, hardly a short article, to just begin to touch on Wally’s scope: Weird Science comics, romance comics, Tales From The Crypt, trading cards, Mad Magazine and even some hilarious smut, including the legendary Disney orgy poster. Wood wasn’t just prolific or insanely flexible: whatever he did, and he did a lot, he brought with him a precise touch, a winking sense of whimsy, but also a carefully balanced sense of drama. You always knew you were looking at something Wood had done, and you were always amazed by it.


When you mention Frank Kelly Freas many people immediately think of his iconic cover for Astounding Science Fiction, the one that Freas also did for Queen’s album. But when I think of Freas I prefer to think of the delightfully winking cover he did, also for Astounding, for Frederick Brown’s Martians, Go Home. That, for me, is Freas: there is perfect technique, marvelous color, ideal drama and composition, but there’s also his marvelous sense of whimsy, a kind of bright and sparkling joy you can see in whatever Freas did, and what makes his work always compelling.


There are too many fantastic artists who worked in the pulps to touch on them all on this little space, but I can’t go without at least mentioning Chesley Bonestell. Even though you can’t really call Bonestell a ‘pulp’ artist, he deserves a bit of space for what he did for … well, ‘space.’ Considered by many to be the father of modern space illustration, Bonestell was the man who realized the scientific projections of Willey Ley and Wernher von Braun and the motion picture dreams of George Pal. His paintings –- elegant, quiet, and magnificent -- were, for many people, not what the future could be, but what the future would be: a world of rockets and starships and men looking back at the earth from the distant moon.


That’s all for now but if there’s a lesson to be learned it’s that even though we might live in a world right next door to the future, there’s still a lot the past can teach us. Like, that real treasures and fantastic art can be found in places we might stupidly dismiss as simple, cheap, or pulpish.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Amos Lassen Loves Brushes

Romantic, Erotic and Gorgeous:
"Brushes" is great erotica set in a romantic setting. It is a multi-layered look at love, Paris and the world of art. We meet eight people, all of whom are involved in the art world. As their lives intertwine, each experiences a form of sexual contact that will change them completely.

Escobar is a very talented artist but exactly who he is and how he works is the essence of "Brushes". The world sees him as a genius. His mastery of color, form and shape is unequaled and he has taken the art world by storm. To discover who he, we look at him from different viewpoints. His wife, his manager, his forger, his brother, his model and others tell us about him in separate stories that all come together. However, these stories tell us more about the teller than they do about the man in question. In that, Escobar is like the art he creates. It is studied and it is open to different interpretations as well as misinterpretations.

M. Christian is a master storyteller. I have read a lot of him and each time I pick up something by him, I find myself so involved in the story that I feel it is actually happening as I read. "Brushes" evokes carnality and in dealing with the art scene of Paris and those that inhabit it, Christian gives us an erotic treat. He so captures the scene that I was completely engulfed by the novel by the third page. Sure the eroticism is very hot but it is the story that is better. The intriguing characters and the way that they come in and out of each others' lives in handled brilliantly. We see, though the characters that all is not always what it seems to be and surprises lurk and wait. This is a gorgeous book to be savored.