Getting introduced to the Barbarella canon

A month or so ago a picture from one of the Barbarella comic books came across my feed and it was graphic design catnip. There was an unexpected clarity from something I would have expected to be garish at best. I’ve learned that there is a legacy that she has left that is more respectful and appreciative than I would have thought. I mean, how can I be blamed…

Yes, she is in a clear vinyl outfit while lying in a shag-carpeted aquarium.
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The availability of a vintage pulp magazine

Updated 12 Mar 2024

On Mastodon (as I had done on Twitter), I follow various pulp accounts that post old books and magazines (and less frequently, albums) that have covers of some interest, often grouped together in a theme. Vintage computer ads, Harlequin romance, ridiculous robots from 50s sci-fi, pin-ups, magazine illustration from mid-century, etc. Site’s like Pulp Covers and Pulp Artists are also good sources for such wonderful nonsense and from those I found the cover artists for many of the pulp sci-fi books I’ve read. The Mastodon accounts are a good way to break up your feed with something visually interesting, kindof like a pop culture museum exhibit.

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The Barb Wire canon

Updated the next day

Continuing my Great Literature series begun with Red Sonja and Conan, I’ve started reading the Barb Wire saga.

She’s a part of the Dark Horse Universe. We forget (or even don’t know) about it because of the supremacy of the DC and Marvel mythologies; like Greek and Roman, in no particular order, since so many of the super strength, super fast, invisible, other-dimension-origined, et al. are merely different manifestations of the same gods. Dark Horse fits into this framework but on a smaller scale and with some indie differences. For example: there is the odd character Concrete who is a man with his body replaced–for some reason–with a minimal-featured stone body, and who has to learn to live in his new circumstances. It’s more middle-aged Bildungsroman than superhero. Dark Horse’s polished indieness is appealing in a different manner than the experimentation of less established indie publishers. Solid yet daring.

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Red Sonja comics, Volumes 1-3

Updated 27 May 2020 with Conan collections

I’m not sure where but I’d seen covers of old superhero comics recently and, though I read mostly sci-fi comics growing up, it made me nostalgic for some classic 60s/70s pulp art cheese. Enter, somewhat unrelated, Comixology. I had resisted them in the same but greater way that I resist ebooks: physicality is important and especially so with art. However, also as with ebooks, for much of what I purchase physicality is not needed because some of the books are more… ephemeral? In other words: some are worthy of taking up space on a shelf and others not so much.

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