Name-Checking Some Fantasy Greats

Neil Gaiman. He figures into this, eventually.

Been a while. Been busy. You know the drill by now.

My writing contract work  proceeds apace, and pretty much on schedule. The sad part being, we are now approaching the part of the schedule where I should start work on Part Three, and there is no plan for Part Three. This is, apparently, where the Creative Department comes in, which becomes a bit irksome when I’m writing educational fiction for a field with which I have very little parlance. I suppose when our hero starts fending off zombies with a chainsaw, I’ll be informed I am in the wrong.

One bright spot, if it can be called such, is that freed from a page count for the next week or so, I actually have what I’ve been craving for a while: free time. This started yesterday evening, and I’m embarrassed to say I have no idea what to do with it. Or, rather, I have too many ideas. So instead I just read, and went to bed at, for me, an early hour. I was dead tired. Rough couple of weeks. Car troubles, deaths in the family, you know: all the stuff that makes life so thrilling.

Actually getting a decent amount of sleep is an extraordinary circumstance for me, so I can count last night extraordinary. It was filled with hideous nightmares – my subconscious needed to take out a lot of trash, apparently – but surprisingly consistent nightmares. I did awake at approximately 3:30AM, as usual, for a nocturnal visit to the bathroom, but went back to sleep and back to the same nightmare. Since I’ve been reflecting that it’s time to return to fiction writing for myself, I’m going to take this as my brain serving up the raw fuel for what I need to write. We’ll see.

(Homer Simpson Gurgling Noise)

I cannot, in good conscience, blame my reading material for the nightmares. A lesser person might, as I have been consuming Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons, a typically gorgeous Fantagraphics piece of publishing pulchritude, a three-volume slipcased monster. It is one of those editions I looked at, then looked at the $125 price tag, sighed, and put on the “After Winning The Lottery” list.

I had not, however, counted on Twitter, or the irrepressible and fantastic Neil Gaiman. One night last week, Gaiman tweeted that Amazon had the aforementioned huge tome for sale at $29. I squashed several photons that got in my way as I clicked the link, and my poor UPS driver grunted the hefty package to my door two days later. Say what you will about Neil Gaiman (I tend to prefer his earlier work, but he is never less than entertaining), I officially pronounce a gesund on him, may his tribe proper and increase. He is the gift that keeps on giving.

Because I looooooves me some Gahan Wilson.

If you’re one of the three people reading this blog, you know Gahan Wilson. If not: his heavily cross-hatched cartoons epitomize bizarre, black humor. Or to put it another way, he’s the one who’s not Charles Addams. In Hugh Hefner’s intro to the first volume, he talks about looking for a Charles Addams-type for his fledgling Playboy (Addams being under exclusive contract to The New Yorker), and finding Wilson in Colliers. Thus begins the legend.

Okay, I looked at my father’s Playboys quite a bit when I was a kid. I don’t remember the nekkid women doing that much for me at that early age (that would come later), but I really loved the cartoons, especially Wilson’s. I have a few of Wilson’s smaller collections, but revisiting these in volume one, from 1957-1968 (that’s from memory, I may be correcting this later) was like talking all evening to an old friend I hadn’t seen in ages. Cartoons I had forgotten and suddenly recalled in a splash of memory.

The best part is, I have two more volumes to go through, which promise equal joy. The only bad part is, now I’m hungry for the collection of Nuts from National Lampoon, and that’s not coming out until July. But I do note that there is a hardcover edition of the Classic Illustrated Poe he did the art for, and The Devil’s Dictionary. Both of which I own in their “floppy” incarnations, and both buried in a longbox somewhere. Hm….