Electric Dreams II: The Return Of Retrowave

New Ways, New Ways, I Dream Of Wires

“My only exposure to electronic music before this had been Kraftwerk, but they were always trying to be machine-like… Then The Human League came along and their music had a human feel to it. It worked for me” – Gary Numan.

“One of my friends told me how genius it was that at the start of Cars [1979] there is just one note that stays and stays and stays,” recalled affable high-flying Electro Overlord Gary NumanI had to break it to them that when I was in the studio I started playing the first note and couldn’t think what to do next. I wasn’t a genius at all, just bereft of ideas.”

Ha! Such a self-effacing Overlord.

He paved the way for the innovative New Wave electronic pop outfits of the ’80s, who, in turn, have helped influence the current music genre guaranteed to lift my spirits: Retrowave, aka Synthwave.

Can’t go wrong wth a roster of retro vibes.

Thus, this selection includes just some of the audio pleasures to have sustained me during the last few weeks of alternating levels of creativity. Compiling the first instalment of this series turned out to be such a blast so this further indulgence was in order. Would like to think that you can find some gems in this collection that can inspire your writing too.

What better way to begin than with Miami Vice: the epitome of class ’80s TV.

Crockett is a consistently good Retrowave artist – and knows how to set the right mood when my writing kicks in – in fact, one or two of his tracks have single-handedly inspired pieces of my fiction!

With this vid, all me groovy ’80s small screen memories come flooding back; you’re watching and all of a sudden – @ 00:38: BAM! there they are: Crockett and Tubbs – woo-hoo!! The boys are back in town! Together in Electric Dreams…?

“…I was always convinced that electronic music wasn’t just another genre; it was a different way of approaching the composition and production of music. It was about the idea that music is not only made up of notes and harmonies, but could be made with sound…” – Jean Michel Jarre.  

There are a least three YouTube channels constantly loading new material on a daily base; the quality and diversity on increasing offer  is simply breathtaking – a mighty fine accompaniment to my working and creative sessions.

Such a gem starts off sounding akin to one of John Carpenter’s more creepy movie scores before transmogrifyng into something by Gary Numan.

Surely, that is high praise, indeed? 

This is glorious: 

I have heard the music of the future – don’t look for anything else” – Brian Eno. 

Cosmic!

Not only one of the most scrumptious words in the English language, it always presents mighty fine and dandy excuse to explore the good stuff – and escape from the bad. 

Synthwave is the only genre producing the kind of spacebound sounds that help Brad achieve just that.

From Turboslash to Turbo Knight – let’s face it: it’s these ecstatic moments of beautiful symmetry that keep bringing you back to Bradscribe.

Isn’t it? 

This track is accompanied by some Japanese anime – always expect the unexpected on this site!

LOVE the deeeep intro to this – far out, man…

“…I went back to the big, original Moog and did everything electronicallyIn a computer. In ’77… I suppose I helped modernise the sound of pop…” – Giorgio Moroder. 

“I get credit for being a pioneer,” Numan continued. “But you open a door and it allows other people who have got great ideas to come through and take it even further. You hear other people doing things and you think: That’s great!’”

Well, what an amazing door.

Even better – heartening, even – to know that a considerable range otalented auteurs of audio awesomeness have seized the opp to not only revive ’80s’ pop vibes, but draw upon that decade’s eclectic mix of SF movies (and their soundtracks!), videos and other media to create these retro-wonders. 

This week, one of my more intelligible spam Comments (for one of my comic reviews, of all things) read: 

“Built-in grooves to connect numerous units together.”

Yes, that is all it said…

Would like to think that some really snazzy built-in grooves have been assembled here for your enjoyment this evening.

This is another Synthwave artist who can do no wrong @ th mo – there’s no ace like HOME: 

Something new was in the air with electronic sounds. We were a younger generation. We came up with different textures” – Ralf Hutter (Kraftwerk). 

“It all began, appropriately enough, in science fiction,” wrote Jon Savage, in a blisteringly compelling exploration – published five years ago – of the development of electronic music. 

He went on to confirm a personal belief held for some time that: “…the possibility of other worlds – and the transformation achieved of leaving this one – is a sure-fire way of abstracting from any problems that one has on this Earth…”

At this point my text rambles into something utterly profound – but hey! – it’s getting late, and everyone just wants to party.

Don’t they…? 

“…Annnd it’s half past groovy – you’re listening to Bradscribe FM, beaming LIVE from the Cosmic Cakery across the Outer Rim Territories – playing the platters that matter on the station where the fun never stops!

“Get on the good foot, pop-pickers!”

“…On the wall back there is a black panel. Blinky yellow light. You see it? There’s a quarnex battery behind it. Purplish box. Green wires. To get into that watch tower, I definitely need it…

“I got one plan, and that plan requires this frickin’ quarnex battery, so FIGURE IT OUT!” – Rocket Raccoon. 

And if this Third Rock From The Sun is all too much, you can always escape with Brad into some right snazzy realms of the imagination.

Where else in the blogosphere can you jump at such a chance?

As far as the universe is concerned, we are but fleeting and randomly assembled collections of energy and matter, forever foraging for greater meaning in our lives…

(Aha! Told you he was going to slip something hi-brow in…)

The cute but courageousScribe may NOT hold all the unswers ye seek, but what DOES matter is that we don’t waste what precious little energy we have.

Sweet dreams…

“Keep your ‘lectric eye on me, babe
Put your ray gun to my head
Press your space face close to mine, love
Freak out in a moonage daydream, oh yeah!”
David Bowie. 

“Mind Your Head, Sleepy Chicken”: Mishaps With Creativity In The Age Of Outrage

The Daze In The “Life” Of A Flustered Writer 

g3zijkw6fzg2jbmb7nld

The Ancient One – “Arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the simplest and most significant lesson of all. ”

Dr. Stephen Strange – “Which is?”

The Ancient One – “It’s not about you.”

“We don’t care. We don’t really care,” retorted the script editor (whose name shall remain undisclosed to protect MY innocence). “The amount of money we’re going to make globally, I mean, 70 percent of our audience is not going to be seeing this in English. And it doesn’t really matter.”

This – one of umpteen rejections foisted upon me over the years – just confirms what has been niggling my noddle lately. Such a rebuke – stern but to be expected – is, essentially, cancelling out my worth as a wordsmith. On a major motion picture. 

The prospect of movies limping along with next to no script does not exactly come as a great shock to me. My intentions of making it in the movie industry appear to be growing thinner by the day. Sure, it’s a classic case of not what you know, but who you know. Believe me, rejections here, ignorance there, and my resilience well and truly wrung – Brad would prefer not to mingle with such types…

Anyway…

Apologies for not publishing a Post sooner. But you would not believe the ridiculous setbacks encountered on my travails! While my concentration gets lost amidst the daily hustle and bustle of 21st century strife, too many people around me are losing their tempers all too easily – upon offering to help, their only rebuke comes in the disagreeable form of “Get lost.” Or (coarse) words to that effect…

Why, oh why, so much unrestrained hostility? Don’t tell me: this is the Age Of Outrage. 

My problems are probably ten times worst than theirs, but you don’t see me blowing my stack. However, considering what your correspondent Has Had To Go Through This Past Two Weeks it’s a mystery he hasn’t blown it several times already! Thankfully – between you and me – years in a Southeast Asian temple Being At One with my Inner Cha-Cha, closely supervised by a half-human half-pangolin guru have mentally prepared me for my nonchalant return to what they laughably call Western “Civilization.”

Apart from the obligatory technical glitches, trying to carry out research in the Public Library: someone has lost/misplaced a required book; then, someone else broke wind in the Self-Help Section forcing the whole bally building to be evacuated… 

At my former Alma Mater, my luck fares no better; due to the heightened security around the City, my status as Alumnus does nothing to persuade the bouncers @ Reception. Handsome? By jove, always! But “suspicious”? Do me a favour…  

In other news: my novel has stalled, primarily after studying the latest book survey revealing that two-thirds of novel readers are women. Set in a 12th century abbey, the most horrifying aspect of this medieval sci-fi adventure is the head-scratching realization that it has NO female characters! This needs to be readdressed, of course, but after a disconcerting fall in the Stats from this site, this makes me seriously ponder: will anyone want my novel…? Perhaps the answer lies in converting it into a graphic novel – but then again, my artwork (normally quite therapeutic) has not gone as snazzy as hoped…

The case continues…

scn_0004

“For, in their savage ignorance, they feel only hatred for any among them who may seem… different! They long for peace, yet gird for war! They search for love, yet harbour hate!” – The Silver Surfer. 

“By living life for itself, don’t you see? Deriving pleasure from the gift of pure being,” remarked the nameless Martian, last custodian of his long-vanished civilization. 

Following the sickening terrorism act a few months ago in Manchester (where my degree was gained!), and again as the appalling news from Virginia broke over this past weekend, this beautiful sequence of dialogue (from The Martian Chronicles 1979 TV adaptation, written by Richard Matheson) returned to my fevered mind.

All too easily, these sage Martian words are simply ignored. Hate, regrettably, has become far too common and rampant. Rather than wallow in the throes of despair, these atrocities invigorate me to produce a unique brand of positive, entertaining and thoroughly wholesome fare at a more exponential rate.

Out of the multifarious dark and evil acts committed around this Pale Blue Dot, projects of ever-increasing worth and vitality have prevailed. Consider this impressive history: disillusioned by the collapse of the short-lived New Republic in 17th century England, James Milton wrote Paradise Lost; disturbed by the horrors he experienced at the Western Front, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien fought off the nightmares by “escaping” to Middle-Earth and creating an epic fantasy saga called The Lord Of The Rings. 

In turn, yours truly has had to stem an incessant surge in personal, social and economic problems by summoning the last vestiges of his resilience to produce evermore entertaining reams of writing (that you will enjoy here shortly!). 

With nine out of ten of my applications, enquiries and job pitches “lost” or ignored, this blogging platform remains the only means by which anyone and everyone Can See What Brad Can Do…

Keep Calm and Carry On Writing…

“The Destiny of Man is to unite, not to divide. If you keep on dividing you end up as a collection of monkeys throwing nuts at each other out of separate trees” – T.H. White.  

“You don’t want [readers] to read your story, you want them to feel your story.”

This writers’ tip has held particular resonance these past few months. Having vowed to pay more attention to my levels of description, injecting all the right feels into my fiction no longer pose any problems. Considering what we have had to endure over the past eighteen difficult months, my work can now exude a heavier, more personal, more loaded edge. 

Whenever a piece of my fiction fails, (and too many pieces have floundered by the wayside recently) one quote from Confucius instantly comes to mind: Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

To me, if my “path of creation” is hindered, an alternative route is taken… but my physical and mental batteries are now so depleted that finding the energy and enthusiasm to concoct something as ridiculously easy-peasy as a comics review devolved into an unnecessary struggle. But do not fret, my friends! 

It’s official: Brad is on the rebound!

HUZZAH!!

And: TOP tip for this month?!: “Write rubbish!”

Bingo, fella, whaddya think this writer has been doin’?! ‘Tis the only skill @ th mo at which he excels… bah!

Seriously though: the key is to settle into the right room as well as the right frame of mind. You’ll be delighted to learn that a number of intriguing new projects have emerged on my Dashboard! Granted, the first few drafts looked messy and confused – understandable, bearing in mind what woes and worries hung heavy on my mind – but, as all exterior tensions faded (meditation, plus mocha and blueberry muffins, usually help) and my senses gradually immersed into blissful concentration, my compositions evolved into something more groovy and coherent. 

And as this ramblin’ ram-packed Post comes to a merciful close – don’t want to rant, but let me say just this: 

Cultures shape values, and those values shape history; therefore, our values shape our future. However, repugnant values have brought on these antipathetic and violent times; they have been allowed to fester by the very same factions of ignorance directly responsible for denying me my vocational and socio-economic progress.  

Politicians talk loud, but never say anything positive or progressive to help me. 

Instead, the rise of negative hypernationalist movements (regrettably a global outbreak) MUST be counteracted by RATIONAL thinkers and campaigners willing to offer a progressive values-based world vision – a different path based on UNITY across racial, gender, ethnic, and religious lines… 

Now you know: this past fortnight, Brad has been too busy freedom-fighting to blog…

Quite frankly, this evening, my head feels like an ex-Communications Director is locked inside it, yelling expletives…

Still, this migraine is worth the effort. 

In this life, it is ALWAYS PREFERABLE to create than hate…

“…Live as well as possible, expect no more. Destroy nothing, humble nothing, look for fault in nothing, leave unsullied and untouched all that is beautiful.

“Hold that which lives in all reverence, for life is given by the Sovereign Of Our Universe, given to be savoured, to be luxuriated in, to be… respected…” – The Martian.

Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart” – Confucius. 

 

 

The Knack Of Scant Prose: Studying The Formula Of First Prize Short Stories

Can Brad Really Win That Short Story Competition After All These Years?! 

“Ideas excite me, and as soon as I get excited, the adrenaline gets going and the next thing I know I’m borrowing energy from the ideas themselves” – Ray Bradbury.

“Writing science fiction,” wrote Ray Bradbury, “is always the art of the possible, never the impossible.”

Winning a short story competition – one of the goals that has always eluded me – cannot, therefore, be impossible.

Having entered various short story competitions, mainly the sci-fi and horror categories – my hopes and expectations were set at exceptionally stratospheric levels, until realizing that my name never even reached the extensive Runners-Up Lists… And so, my tender years – and even more brittle confidence – finally dissuaded me from tackling short story competitions.

However, recentlyBrad Burrito Fartlighter: a decidedly English galactic hero, has shot to blogosphere fame in his very own “Fartlighter Bradventures.” Come on! Where else could you find the awesome – and hopefully hilarious – escapades of a very English spacefaring rogue who digs Mexican grub and cake?! One forthcoming instalment has been set aside – for professional consultation – so studying the art (and history) of the short story has taken up my time this past week. 

The short story originated in the medium that furnished a market for it: magazines. Common belief holds that the first exponent of this format was Edgar Allan Poe. The majority of the short fiction he produced appeared in the Southern Literary Messenger from 1835 onwards. He is regarded as perfecting the art of striking the keynote – by grabbing attention immediately with a sharp opening paragraph, or even just a sharp opening sentence.

At the moment, it looks like my ideas are flowing more reliably than my typing. Once a really groovy story starts to rock, my dexterity begins to roll. All over the place… 

While frantically pummelling the keyboard – apart from getting the ‘e’ and ‘r,’ and ‘a’ and ‘s’ mixed up, my fingers now hit ‘v’ instead of ‘b,’ and bice bersa…

“A first line should open up your rib cage. It should reach in and twist your heart backward. It should suggest that the world will never be the same again” – Colum McCann.  

How – and wheredoes the effective short story begin?

“Start as close to the end as possible,” remarked Kurt Vonnegut, when he included a list of essential tips on How To Write A Short Story in the Introduction to his 1999 collection of magazine stories: Bagombo Snuff Box. He also remarked that: “Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.”

Within a certain (limited) word count, how much characterisation can you realistically inject into a “short” story? Fortunately, Fartlighter is gifted with his own band of lovable rogues: “Brad Company” – doing their nabbing-from-the-greedy-to-give-to-the-needy bit across the galaxy; therefore the diversity on display means that a rich and variable range of potential plotlines lie in wait. 

Besides breaking up the text with images and quotes, a standard Bradventure can amount to 2,600 words. Naturally, the more fun you have with creative writing, you will/can (easily) produce greater quantity. The Christmas Special turned out to be such a blast that at over 5,000 words and still TWO pivotal scenes yet to be typed, a major editing job had to be applied. Thus, my inner Poe was invoked: with less words, comes greater impact.

Sharper – and more economical – than a novel, the short story has to be vividly defined. 

Allow no wandering, no superfluous material – heck, prepare to hack without mercy. 

“A short story is not only smaller… not only simpler and more compact, it is single with a more intense concentration. It should work out a single idea; make a single point; close with a single ‘punch’; convey a single effect” – Geoffrey Ashe.   

Unbelievably, what vexes editors and judges the most involves receiving far too many submissions that offer just a situation, NOT a story!

To set my goals straight, these are the Five Components Of A Story that take pride of place in my notes, and what any short story writer should adhere to!

  • A story reveals something about the human condition, or makes a statement about what it means to be human; 
  • A story tests personal character, over and over, to reveal deeper character;
  • A story has subplots that are dramatic and thematic reflections of the journey of the protagonist;
  • A story ends in a different emotional space than where it began;
  • A story is driven by a strong moral component motivating the protagonist through the middle of the story, resulting in dramatically interconnected scene writing;

Perhaps some modern movie-makers should also study this list? 

Although the story may not have anything to say about the human condition, at least the reader should be able to derive some fun, be engaged, (be shocked?) and – above all – be entertained. 

To create a successful story – the One that sets judges’ pulses racing and jaws droppinga writer MUST convey their OWN ideas and style, to the point of remaking language; let the inexecutable unfold!

At least with my Bradventures, my imagination dares to be adventurous! It’s about time those judges experienced what my writing has become! 

Is it not…? 

“The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O’Connor,” Vonnegut continued. “She broke practically every one of my rules… Great writers tend to do that.”

Hmm, in order to get ahead, Brad has to break the rules? 

Ha! So what else is new…?! 

“Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water… 

“Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them – in order that the reader may see what they are made of…” –  Kurt Vonnegut.

Wish me luck! 

 

Zombie Sharks, A Crummy Mummy And Marky “Mark” Wahlberg: AVAST! BradRant Ahoy!!

Summer Madness?

Armed With His Trusty Trident Of Poseidon, Brad Takes Out The Trash So You Don’t Have To!

Henry Turner: “I saw her ankles.”

Captain Jack Sparrow: “You would’ve seen a lot more if you kept your cakehole shut.” 

Aharrr, me ‘earties! 

Well, buckle me swash! ‘Ere we go again! Only, let’s go anywhere but the cinema.

What’s with all these crap movies?! Suddenly, movie website Rotten Tomatoes is riddled with too many teens and twentysomethings. Before you can say: “A one-legged man with 18-pound balls? No wonder he walks funny!” Brad has waded in to investigate why there is more bilge on the big screen than ever before… 

Back in the day, you could rent out videos of the most dire, cheesy B-flicks AND still be merrily entertained.

Now, “standards” have definitely floundered: more obscene amounts of cash stuffed in, while artistic integrity no longer holds great value… 

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge comes away as the “Best” Of The Worst (29%!). This barnacle-ridden franchise (originally based on a theme park ride, don’t forget!) has well and truly run aground. Even its most fanatical supporters would have to admit that Johnny Depp’s slurred-and-sloshed routine should have walked the plank long before now, and those zombie sharks are a sure sign that all the good ideas sunk without trace ages ago. Arrr…? Ol’ Stragglybeard here is NOT parting with any o’ his pieces o’ eight for this! 

You realise how useless a flop is when it is unable to provide Bradscribe with sufficient quotes! Jeez – really struggled to find suitable lines from any of the wretched assortment collected here, ultimately resorting to a few nuggets from this Pirates sequel, and – shiver me frickin’ timbers (ahem) “other comedy classics.”

At some point in this Post, we will have to deal with the Worst of the Worst. 

So, on that note, here, theoretically, is where a still from the latest noisy, changeable-‘bots crudfest: Transformers: The Last Shite should go:

Jack Kipper: “We just had a leak in the hold.” 

Scurvy Joe: “Did you? Well next time do it over the side, arrr!”

King Arthur: “The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to be your King.” 

Dennis: “Listen, strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system o’ government… You can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just ‘cos some watery tart threw a sword at you.” 

You see?! 

The Transformers franchise – based on a range of toys fer cakes’ sake! – is so dire, it’s utterly pointless bothering to illustrate it with stills. No, we (patience permitting) shall leave the least till last!

Instead, with a keen fondness for all-things-Arthurian, a blockbuster based on this quintessentially-English literary tradition should have piqued my interest, but one has grown accustomed to the deflatingly inadequate (and disrespectful) fare that Hollywood can manufacture… 

In King Arfur: Leg End Of The Bored, Blimey Charlie Humdrum – ho hum, wouldya Adam-an’-Eve it? Another Brad-clone! – steps into Guy Ritchie’s right ol’ Cockney knees-up retelling of the Arfur gubbins with ‘is Roight Noble Geezers o’ the Rahnd Table. Cor blimey, guv’nor!

On paper, this should have been as sound as a pound – perhaps using a Cool Britannia soundtrack (including The Who, The Stranglers, Adam & The Ants, The Damned, Ian Dury And The Blockheads, Eddie & The Hot Rods et al)?; employing a certain ridiculously good-looking blogger 😉 to write some witty banter, eh? eh?!   

Nah… 

Arfur turned out to be as substandard and disagreeable (28%!) as those dodgy donuts me stomach wuz subjected to at the end of the pier last Friday noight. For this shoddy shambles swiftly degeneratesinconceivably, inexplicably – into an insipid medieval pile-up of CG-battle scenes, CG-monsters, CG-pachyderms and- stone the bloody crows! CG-pachyderms?! ‘E’s orf ‘is nut! Do me a favAH! etc. etc.

Should’ve deployed the zombie sharks, mate…

What a loada cobblers…

Baz Hogan: “Storm’s dying down.”

Nova Clarke: “How can you tell?”

Baz Hogan: “Not as many sharks flying around.”

“Does Mummy ever ask about me?” – Captain Jack Sparrow.

Next, we trundle out The Mummy (Flamin’ Nora! She’s in a right old state, arf arf!)

But really…

It’s a shockingly turgid (15%) harbinger of Universal’s new Monster Franchise. It’s quite simple really: if the laughably-termed: “makers” couldn’t be bothered to assemble such rudimentary elements as plot, script or characterisation, one could not be arsed to collect any relevant images. As Confucius used to say: “If you’re uncertain, Steve Martin…”

Count the number of people who remarked: ooh, but it’s got Thomas “Fop Gun” Wannahobbler IV in it – how baaad could it possibly be?!

Worse than you can possibly imagine, apparently. 

From what your correspondent has been able to ascertain from assorted reviews, it looks like a monster movie, but doesn’t try to be scary; it’s too mechanical to be an action movie; too clunky to fit in that diminutive plane-magnet’s film-file; and too abysmal to sit through. Still, at least this leading nerk is less irritating than Marky “Mark” Wahlberg… 

Which brings us neatly – if reluctantly – to the latest Transformers scrap-metal pile. 

Ordinarily, this cannot, by any analytical process, be called a “movie”; it should, therefore, only be treated as a 200-minute trailer, with its constant, mind-numbing inconsequential moving parts and volume cranked up to eleventystoopid. By now, you get the queasy impression that Auteur Of Awfulness: Michael Bay is revelling in the prospect of far too many dense juves ready to throw away good money down this bad dunny – this “movie” epitomises everything that is deplorable with the modern movie “industry”

“Completely insane” seems to be the “kindest” remark made about this trash. There is. Ab. Sol. Ute. Ly. NO! Reason for me to waste Review time or space on it. And yet…

Leading thesp: Sir Odin Hopkins appears in this…! Obviously, he required a new loft conversion. And by Jiminy, boyo, he was bally well going to get it, eh what?! Is there any other plausible way to explain this ridiculous case of (mis)casting?! 

Unfortunately, for me, there is no abomination more unsettling in movies these days than that Marky “Mark” WahlbergOtherwise decent movies have deteriorated once he became involved with them; only someone like him could have replaced Shit Lebeef on this fetid franchise. Usually as cool and laidback as the next dude me, but put this tosspot in the same room as Brad and – by Jove! – THE CAKES WILL HURL…

Woebetide the younglings who actually believe that Transformers is bonafide science fiction!

Arrr, set the zombie sharks on ’em, says Oi…! 

China is set – very soon – to become the largest cinema market in the world. As long as a western movie does NOT feature ghosts, homosexuals or Tibet, it can get a widespread release there. Primarily, Chinese audiences crave – above all else – BIG mindless spectacle, so unanimously-derided trash like The Mummy and Transformers will always be welcomed with open wallets… So why STOP making them?  

Dear Friends, there is nothng more wretched than the truth…

To conclude then, this fistful of flops proves that a fate worse than Depp is unbelievably, unnecessarily possible – not to mention economically viable. And it’s never going to end…

However, you do realise that Brad – bedecked in his “crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side” T-shirt – will keep venturing forth to look for those elusive so-bad-they’re-good flicks… 

Who knows WHAT he will get up to?

“I don’t care what he gets up to, as long as he doesn’t do it in the street and frighten the camels!”

Oh dear…

 

“In Reflection Of How It All Came To Be”: The Saga Of J’Son, Meredith And Peter

They Talked, And Came To Know Each Other,

They Touched, And Came To Love Each Other…

“After all, he is Star-Lord… my finest creation… my one true moment of glory… how it has all led up to this moment…?” – The Master Of The Sun. 

“Our destinies, mine and Star-Lord’s, were first glimpsed when a craft alien to the planet Earth crashed in the Colorado mountains…

“Meredith Quill was the sole witness…”

Quite unlike anything heretofore seen in Marvel Comics, this “saga” is narrated by a benign and bearded humanoid known simply as The Master Of The Sun.

Ever since the Guardians Of The Galaxy movie enriched our lives in 2014, this has been The Essential Star-Lord comic to acquire! Unfortunately, it has become such an obscure ish; moreover, it has taken AEONS just to discover the title and the date of said rarity. And establishing the identities of its co-auteurs of awesomeness was something else… Curse your shorts, boy! Why, oh why, couldn’t you have remembered these details?! Better still, just KEPT the comic… 

Three years ago, most critics believed that Marvel Studios had produced their first turkey – taking such a huge risk, introducing characters that NOBODY had ever heard of before. Ha! Yet again, you see, they had underestimated Brad. To me, there seemed to be something very familiar about that name: “Star-Lord”…

Confusingly, in 1978, a (short-lived) weekly science fiction comic called Star-Lord was published in the UK, but it had absolutely no connection to Peter Quill. No, not that – pretty certain that the cosmic hero to grab my attention was indeed Peter the halfbreed. After an epic marathon of deduction, the ish in question just happens to be Marvel Spotlight #6 (May 1980). With a script by Doug Moench, and art by Tom Sutton: “The Saga Of Star-Lord falls well within my initial comic collecting spree.

In this yearlong BA quest, this proved to be one of my most elusive targets…

Instead, Future Tense – another science fiction weekly from Marvel UK – had to suffice; the Saga had been reprinted through the first four ishs (all appearing during November 1980). Incidentally, the front cover of the much-coveted debut ish features that now-classic portrait of Nick Fury In Space (by Jim Steranko) – but named here as Star-Lord! It has taken until just last month(!) to finally track down this particular monumental mag. (The original cover for Marvel Spotlight #6 was reproduced as the cover of Future Tense #4).

Here, on the classic page 3, savour the romance of how an Earthwoman named Meredith Quill found – and fell in love with – a man from beyond the stars. 

Ah, bless the Bronze Age!

Surely, there is nothing in today’s Marvel Comics that can compare with that achingly beautiful fourth panel…? 

“Whoever this is, wherever he’s from, I can’t just stand aside and let him die!” – Meredith Quill.

“Nine months later, a male child was born to her. She named him Peter Jason Quill and one night soon after his birth, for a reason she could not explain… 

“She took him outside and held him up to the stars.”

‘Tis unfortunate how J’son has “disappeared without trace,” relegated to further obscurity in the annals of Marvel history – and has now suffered the ignominy of exclusion from the movies. The impact of this misstep is lessened somewhat when you take into account that he appears in only five panelstwo of which he is unconscious! Following in the tradition of Marvel’s innovative series: What If?: supposing he had fought that space war victoriously, would J’son have returned to Earth…?  

Disgruntled at the realisation that he doesn’t have a father like the other schoolkids – a bitterness alluded to briefly onscreen during Vol. 2, at least – not surprisingly, Peter becomes a loner, refusing to play shortstop with the other kids; there he is, reading a Weird Science comic all by his lonesome…

Going for “long solitary walks”anticipating, perhaps, the return of his father – one day, amid dense woodland, the boy is: “…visited by a celestial light… by a miracle from the beyond.” Surely, unmistakably, this spaceship can only belong to ONE very special person… 

“At once terrified and ecstatic,” he runs home to tell Mom…

 

And take a look at that dynamic page 26 (the pen-penultimate page of this ish, below).

That first panel showing an irate trio of Ariguans looks oddly familiar; a feint memory of this scene may very well have lodged in my frenetic infant mind – “zheor,” indeed!

Also, get that middle panel: that should have been etched onto my brain long ago – such an ultracool pose by the adult Peter in his full Star-Lord clobber (but note how he is strangely without his trademark helmet throughout this ish).

Aha, and that killa line!

“I don’t think anything, “Ship.” I know what it is and who’s inside it. Don’t ask me how, but I know. The occupant of that craft is in danger. He’s also the closest thing to a father I’ve ever known…” – Star-Lord.  

“I have done both good and wrong. One has led to the other. I was entrusted with the ultimate secrets of science… A science so advanced it approaches sorcery. 

“I chose my path and I do not regret the way, though I do repent it.”

And so, The Master Of The Sun must prepare to relinquish his human form, having failed to fulfil the higher purpose expected of him. Yet he could take comfort in his sole achievement: turning a halfbreed Earthboy into the Star-Lord. 

As is the case with most classic comics: some really jaw-dropping details hit you on the last page. This one startled me:

“Know that you were to be only the first of an entire legion of Star-Lords…

to ensure peace and seek justice throughout the vast cosmos.”

Thus, the story concludes with Peter honouring the memory of the being who was The Master Of The Sun: by obeying his will “to accomplish good works.” “Ship” blasts off into space, sending the Star-Lord to seek his destiny among the stars…  

Ironically, this used to be the sort of awesome ish that made me speculate what it would be like if made into a movie… Now, my wishes go… in the opposite direction. For all the intricate complexities that modern sfx can offer nowadays, the best “blockbusters” play in our minds…

Perhaps we were all mesmerised by a CG-regenerated Kurt Russell but, ultimately, it is still a tad unsettling to consider how this… this non-J’son individual steals the show. No matter how enjoyable he made both Guardians movies – yes! What we really needed was a space opera starring a groovy fella wielding a Walkman!how…?

How can James Gunn justify fiddling around with a back-story like this?

How can a completely different Marvel character be presented in J’son’s stead?!

Are such revisionary tactics acceptable…?! 

Approaching halfway through this year and does Mr. Gunn respond to ANY of my e-mails?!

Does he fairy cakes…

Theoretically, one would be… quite flattered if another writer attempted to create their own Fartlighter Bradventure. 

Yeah-es, buh-ut…

Kill off any member of Brad Company via something as wretched as a brain tumour… uff, that’d be REALLY PUSHIN’ it, fella… 

Honestly, on some occasions, my viewing of the first film has begun by skipping to the point where distraught Peter is whisked off the hospital grounds in Yondu’s ship…

Not only is the opening scene JUST WRONG, but tonally too bleak to connect concisely with the otherwise frivolous nature of what follows…

And 10CC’s I’m Not In Love is my FAVE track on Awesome Mixtape Vol 1 – goldarn it!!

So… (catch yer breath ya ol’Brit loon, fercake’ssake…) after two Guardians movies, it seems an injustice that Miss Quill’s extraordinary story has not been sufficiently told on the big screen… 

Still, thanks to the wonders of Bronze Age comics – it’s out there (if you can find it). 

She enriched her life trying to save J’son; 

she sacrificed her life trying to save Peter… 

This is for Meredith…

“I just don’t like the character [J’son] very much. I also thought it was too much like a Star Wars thing because of the royalty and all of that…” – James Gunn.

 

By The Great Nebula!: My Bronze Age Comics Collection Has Outgrown Its Own Containment Vessel!!

Stop! Zap-Hammer Time! 

“You scoff, man of the Kree. What would you say if I told you that an Earthling had knowledge of the Omni-Wave?! A weapon capable of obliterating entire solar systems. And that woman knows how to build one!” – Ronan The Accuser. 

“And as the giant ship leaves the Earth’s atmosphere, the port through which she entered seals with a crackle of alien energy. 

“While deep within the awesome vessel: 

“Well, Johnny, I’ve always wanted to be on your show, but where are Doc And The Band?”

Yes!

We return, True Believers, to the bulging batch of bloomin’ bountiful Bronze beauties that constitute my ever-expanding Bronze Age comics collection!

And lo!

‘Tis a day upon which to rejoice! It is a year ago to the day since this collection began! So many excellent ishs have graced the substantial box recruited to stock them, but, in truth, some now lie scattered around the Drawing Room, straight through my Inner Sanctum (not surprisingly), and here, sprawled across my desk within my Control Centre as these words were frantically typed.    

Please don’t worry about that loud scraping you can hear in the background – have set me minions to work rearranging these gargantuan piles of Bronze Age awesomeness! 

So, where to begin?!

Ah, what the hey, this survey’s too good t’miss!

“I want an education. A chance to be all I could be – huh?!? Air force-? Well, why the heck not?!” – Carol Danvers. 

“The Millennia Bloom flares to life within the Crystal Cell, its gentle coruscating light painting Ms Marvel in rainbow colours…”

Welcome to the Bronze Age, man!

As previously mentioned on these Posts, Ms Marvel has proved too much of a hit-and-miss title for me. Fortunately, however, upon learning that the art for #19 (Aug 1978) was done by Carmine Infantino, before you can say: “Love me, love my zap-hammer,” it had taken a coveted place in the Bradscribe Prestige Collection i.e. top of the pile.  

The cover teases a cameo by Captain Marvel, but a dramatic intervention by Ronan (“You called me boy!”) the Accuser ups the thrill-power quite considerably. When wicked villain: Supremor subjects our heroine to a mind-probe, we are treated to a sensational biography of Carol Danvers: from her father letting only her brother go to college; her rebellion by joining the USAF; becoming NASA’s Chief of Security where she meets Captain Marvel; and being genetically reconstructed inside the Psyche-Magnitron by accident (in that inimitable Marvel way?).

And – oh yesstay one step ahead of Ronan’s zap-hammer… 

The Vision: “Even I, since Wanda, my wife, departed on extended leave, have felt an uncharacteristic emptiness, a gnawing. Almost… almost as though I were a bridge without a shore.” 

Jocasta: “Why, Vision, that’s lovely! It’s almost poetic!”

The Vision: “What? No! It’s not! Poetry is a human folly! And I… AM NOT…

…HUMAN!”

Well, bless my zap-hammer!

One of the indisputable joys of Bronze Age comics just has to be The Avengers. 

Constant changes of artists may have condemned Ms Marvel to a premature cancellation, but the ploy actually benefitted Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!

Ish #194 (April 1980) offers a superb script by David Michelnie and ace art by George (Man-Wolf!) Perez, the condition of my ish is immaculate – surely, no other mitts have touched its pages these past 37 years! (Wake up – smell the mint). 

As a big fan of The Vision, his extraordinary character is developed very well here. And truly, one of the inestimable delights of this era is catching up with that forever-entertaining double act of Wonder Man and The Beast:

“These refreshments should be sufficient for the Avengers’ Conference. Though I do hope Master Beast will let some of the others try the banana cake this time” – Jarvis.

Drone R-II: “Is Galactus not awe-inspiring? Wil it not be an honor for you to serve him, even as I serve him?” 

Dazzler: “No! It will not be an honor! The only honor I want is a gold record – but then, that‘s not cosmic enough for you to understand.”

Ships computers have homed in on the being you seek, Master. Subject is located on the third planet of the Sol system: Earth. She is called Alison Blaire. Also… the Dazzler.”

Having dismissed the Dazzler – and she was a sensibly-dressed lass too! – ’twas not long before she made a triumphant return to the shopping list of Brad The Merciful. 

You only have to slip in the name of GALACTUS and yours truly will be guaranteed to snap it up!

In Dazzler #10 (December 1981) the genetic mutate who can convert sound energy into light is commanded by that colossal Devourer Of Worlds to venture inside a black hole and return his estranged treacherous herald: Terrax The Tamer to face the wrath of Galactus!

It impressed me so much that we are now on the lookout for Dazzler #11!

“And now, I know ye all would know how ’tis that a mere mortal became a new, more powerful incarnation of Thor himself!” – Loki. 

Since being overawed by that Thor: Ragnarok trailer a couple of months back, Hera – the Goddess of Death from Niffleheim – has been on my mind.

As the incomparable John Buscema’s penultimate ish as awesome artist, The Mighty Thor #277 (November 1978). “Time of the Trolls” sees the God of Thunder bereft of Mjolnir – nay! naught e’en a zap-hammer doth he hath!! – as he confronts the hordes of Hela.

In addition to some ultracool scenes with Hela, there is a suitably sinister turn by that ne’er-do-well God of Mischief: Loki. 

It won’t startle you to learn that Thor #278 has also swiftly swung into my possession! 

“Not bad, folks. I’ve seen some heavy stompin’ in my time… but this takes the cake. Hey, One-Eye, we got what we came for, right? That princess chick? How ’bout we head on home while we got the chance?” – Wolverine. 

Can’t complete this Post without including my fave team: the X-Men.

The now-legendary Claremont/Byrne run can go for up to TWENTY POUNDS EACH; the Classic X-Men series commenced in 1986 to reprint the earliest stories also featuring sterling artwork by Dave Cockrum – but even those ishs are now difficult to find. 

#14 (October 1987, but reproducing work first published in 1978): “Where No X-Man Has Gone Before!” sees our beloved mutants cast through an alien stargate to the other side of the galaxy where they must combat Gladiator and his gang of praetorian guards (i.e. more “costumed creeps”). Cyclops et al are aided in their struggle to free Princess Lilandra by – oh yes!the Starjammers. 

This series excelled because, in addition, each ish included a bonus story pencilled by John Bolton. The extra tale presented here: “What Stuff Our Dreams Are Made Of…” is one of the best, with a lone Lilandra making a perilous spaceflight to reach Xavier…

Professor Xavier’s students have long held a special place in my heart (as well as my archives!) It has been an absolute blast catching up with this particular series – one of the main reasons why this belated Bronze Age quest set out in the first place.

And lo, they did NOT NEED zap-hammers to become legends… 

Phantastisch! Eat your heart out, George Lucas. This is a real Star Wars!” – Nightcrawler.

“Incredible! The body of one is so powerful, so dense that even the rays of the Analyzer cannot penetrate it, and the other one pulses with strange power… a force that is somehow concentrated in the brand on his chest” – ROM. 

Still actively seeking back ishs of Power Man and Iron Fist! 

Incidentally, the (mis)adventures of Marvel’s most boisterous boys were handled brilliantly by one of the few women writing comics at that time: Mary Jo Duffy.

Aha! When you can get three Marvel legends for the price of two – especially in the amazing classic that is #73 (September 1981) – you don’t hang around! “Wraith, Colour And Creed” begins with ROM: Galador’s Greatest Spaceknight rampaging through the terrified throng of Times Square, zapping (with his Neutralizer, NOT a hammer!) a select few, while sparing others. Just doing his noble duty, banishing DIRE Wraiths to limbo, of course, but as far as Luke and Danny are concerned, this is a “murderin’ tin man” and they’ve “gotta score t’settle.” The way in which Rom ultimately convinces them that he is indeed one of the good guys is superb.  

The guest pencils by Greg La Rocque are fab, while – as usual – Mary Jo crafts a splendid yarn. 

Ah, some great times were had back in the Bronze Age – still the BEST era for comics imo. 

Tell me: in the glossy Marvel mags of today, do Steve “Hydra” Rogers, Kamala Khan – or even the female Thor for that matter – wield a mighty zap-hammer?

Nah, thought not. Brad rests his case… 

“Birds… They turned into flippin’ birds an’ flew away. I saw it. If what Rom’s sellin’ us is straight, anyone I know could be one’a them things… anyone… Birds. Jeez…” – Luke Cage. 

 

Electric Dreams: On The Crest Of A Synthwave

Radder Than Rad Retrotastic Raves!

Dr. Egon Spengler: “Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.”  

Dr. Raymond Stantz: “Total protonic reversal.” 

Dr. Peter Venkman: “Right. That’s bad. Okay. All right. Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.” 

“Rubbish!” shout the disgruntled 21st century masses, unanimously disenchanted with what is laughably termed the “music” industry, woefully bereft of originality, personality or talent…

But!

As just one of those restless peeps, you can count on Brad to sift through the monotony and find sounds that reinvigorate the soul. 

Synthwave – otherwise known as Retrowave, Futuresynth, etc. – a genre of electronic music influenced by ’80s film soundtracks, drawing heavily from such esteemed names as Froese, Carpenter, Moroder, et al does it for me.

Take this first eargasm for instance; who does it remind you of?

About half a dozen ’80s synthtastic sounds come to mind – and you know that’s no bad thing!:

“Death is a primitive concept. I prefer to think of them as battling evil in another dimension” – Grig.

Elliott: “He’s a man from outer space and we’re taking him to his spaceship.”

Greg: “Well, can’t he just beam up?

Elliott: “This is reality, Greg.”

Already, there is a snazzy nostalgic feel to this Post – hope it lasts…

It’s amazing – not to mention really gratifying – to learn that so many artists have been profoundly inspired by the ’80s.

You know that feeling when you’re writing, listening to music to spur on that creative process and then – all of a sudden – something so awesome comes on that grabs your attention, making you just stop everything and go back to search who/what is responsible for producing such a pleasant interruption? 

This is that track!: 

‘”More human than human” is our motto’ – Dr. Eldon Tyrell.

Here he is: the (reasonably cool) writer, drafting Reviews and concocting wild and wonderful scenarios in the name of science fiction. 

And yet all you end up with is the music he’s been listening to!

Oh well…

This next groovy number pulsates with such 80s flair – sounds like it has been lifted from one of those ultrahip TV shows one would settle down to on a Saturday evening back in the day. Instead, it comes with clips from a hilariously duff 80s movie. Not sure: looks like it could be American Ninja? Or American Ninja 2? Or American Ninja 3? Or who the blazes is taking notes @ this time of night anyway?! 

As you will hear from the opening scene of this vid, my propensity for causing trouble is LEGENDARY:

“Now use head for something other than target” – Mr. Miyagi. 

In order to acquire new synthwave grooves, a number of Best of Retrowave compilations – gleefully referred to as 80s Revival Mixtapes! –have positively soared through my headphones these past few weeks.

Fortunately, the variety and ingenuity of these artists, all vying to (re)capture those special 80s vibes have mostly impressed. 

The opening track of one such compilation ensured its place here on this Post.

Lo! This is the stellar song that Brad does his aerobics to at the crack o’ dawn!

Ya gotta burn it ta earn it, lov…

“On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy” – Kevin Flynn. 

Having fun? 

That’s what matters in this sector of the blogosphere.

One of the more prominent Retrowave artists to leap promisingly into my Daily Playlist is Timecop1983. 

Nice tag – one of my all-time fave years as well!

On the most recent album: Journeys, the opening track just happens to be Dreams. You know you’re onto a Winner when you can’t get further than the opening track!

This is gorgeous: 

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it” – Ferris Bueller.

Modern pop culture should not have to be so turgid!

In order to find a “way forward,” we must settle for a distinctly “retro” solution. That’ll do for the moment! 

Hope you’ve enjoyed listening (dancing?!) to these Electric Dreams as much as my time was joyously spent compiling this Post. There will certainly be plenty more forays into Retro/Synthwave playlists this Summer as my writing sessions – that novel and a few short stories! –intensify. And you can trust me to share the best tracks with you!  

More than anything, these retrotastic grooves offer a warm and cosy reassurance that truly talented souls ARE out there. 

And producing lots of good stuff!

Build neon portals, NOT walls, etc. etc. 

And you know what they say: the sequel promises to be even better… 😉

Hey! Here’s one for the road: 

Keep your eyes on the WHEELS!

“Well always be together
However far it seems
(Love never ends)
Well always be together
Together in Electric Dreams” – Phil Oakey.

Mind Your Head