Ep36 – Interview with Cora Buhlert

Cora Buhlert is a Hugo-nominated author and genre scholar who Oliver was lucky enough to meet through his research for the novel, and he’d love for you to meet her too!

Oliver and Cora discuss her falling in love with the very American body of work known as pulp fiction while she grew up travelling the world, the survival of dime novels in modern Germany, the irresistible pull of forbidden fiction, Thundarr and He-Man, “the best thing that happened in Germany in 1989”, European sword and sorcery comics, a book store that “must have been designed by time-lords”, mediocre movie tie-in fiction, the potential future of sword & sorcery, how S&S heroes are usually outsides who aren’t chosen ones – they choose themselves, marginalized characters and identity, the “token Irishman in space”, how people often miss that Grey Mouser isn’t white…, the whitening of S&S heroes of color in the cover art, “he’s not black, it’s solar rays!”, a trans sword and sorcery protagonist and other characters we’d like to see, the historical precedent for trans S&S protagonists, how The Witcher has many stories which qualify as sword & sorcery, She-Ra as sword and sorcery, the Lancer Conans and the last time sword & sorcery had a big revival, Grimdark, Brian Sanderson, short & sweet sword & sorcery as an alternative to bloated epic fantasy tales, mosaic and fix-up novels, Lin Carter should get his due as an editor, Cora’s intriguing character Richard Blakemore aka The Silencer, The Shadow with Alex Baldwin, writing two novels a month (!), the Lester Dent pulp writing formula, Batman: The Animates Series and The Grey Ghost, how the pulps brought us Batman (and superheroes in general), how Batman (1989) stole its plot from a Spider novel published in 1934, writing a story written by a character you created, keeping your history straight while also having fun when writing a period protagonist, writing a pulp character who falls in love with his own genre, putting more modern storytelling elements in tales framed as having been written long ago, sexual violence and censorship in the old pulps, C.L. Moore writing about sex and drugs as an UNMARRIED woman (!) in the 1930s, weighing creative impulses against what a genre suggests should happen, Galactic Journey, winking at the present when your writing from the perspective of the past, linguistics and writing, THE HORRIBLE TRUTH ABOUT CANADIANS AND THEIR BILINGUALISM, advice on self-publishing, looking outside the Amazon ecosystem, selling literature like ham at a deli, and what makes “a Cora Buhlert story”.

Cora’s Author Page
Her self-publishing imprint, Pegasus Pulp Books
Cora on Twitter as @corabuhlert

The Sword & Sorcery round table discussion Oliver mentions
Flame and Crimson: A History of Sword-and-Sorcery by Brian Murphy
Galactic Journey

Interested in those European sword & sorcery comics Cora mentioned?
After the interview she provided me with the following list:
Aria by Michel Weyland from Belgium: Aria is a warrior woman with a very 1970s haircut who fights evil and also winds up adopting a little girl. Started in 1979 and is still going on. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aria_(Belgian_comic) Not to be confused with the Image comic of the same name.

Storm, art by Don Lawrence, writted by Dick Matena, Martn Lodwijk and others including Roy Thomas, from the Netherlands: This is actually sword and planet, but it might as well be sword and sorcery. The titular hero is an astronaut who gets lost in time and winds up in a post-apocalyotic Barbarian future and hooks up with a local warrior woman whom I know as Roodhaar (Redhair), but who’s apparently called Ember in English language editions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storm_(Don_Lawrence) Started in 1977 and is also still ongoing.

Thorgal by Jean Van Hamme and Grzegorz Rosinski, also from Belgium. This is basically the Viking Superman, a humanoid alien raised and found by Vikings. Thorgal is also a family man and has a wife and several children. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorgal Started in 1979 and is still ongoing as well.

Alix by Jacques Martin, also from Belgium: This is more historical than S&S, but the aesthetics are similar. Alix is a young Gaul sold into slavery, who winds up being adopted by a Roman Patrician and is perpetually torn between Rome and Gaul. This is basically a serious version of Asterix. Started way back in 1948 and still has new adventures coming out, though Jacques Martin has passed away by now:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Alix

Ghita of Alizarr by Frank Thorne. This one is actually American, though I first encountered it in Dutch translation. This was Frank Thorne going further than the Comics Code allowed him to do with Red Sonja. Early Franco-Belgian-Dutch comics can be very prudish, but by the late 1970s no one cared about bare breasts and vague sex scene, so it wound up on the same shelf as the others. Started in 1978. https://comicvine.gamespot.com/ghita-of-alizarr/4005-1348/

Eric de Noorman (Eric the Norseman) by Hans G. Kresse from the Netherlands: Eric is a Viking who has fantastic adventures. He’s also a family man and has a wife and a son. I encountered it via reprint collections. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_de_Noorman

De Rode Ridder (The Red Knight) by Willy Vandersteen and others, also from Belgium. Johan is a wandering knight who has adventures, many of which are supernatural. Started in 1946 and is still ongoing as well, though Vandersteen passed away around the time I discovered the series. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Rode_Ridder

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