May 30th, 2007

  • pgdf

Hugo and Winsor

I'm currently reading Winsor McCay's DREAM OF THE RAREBIT FIEND: THE SATURDAYS. Anyone who loves the work of McCay in his LITTLE NEMO strips will be certain to enjoy this.

These strips are full of bizarre, surreal, nightmarish imagery, disturbing, funny, and utterly fantastical. There's one about an immobilized but conscious fellow whose body becomes a burrow for various woodland creatures that's still making me shudder.

Many of the strips bear a closing thank-you from the artist for the friend or reader who originated the idea McCay used.

Imagine my surprise when I came across one that said "Thanks to Huck Gernsback."

Now, I had never heard tell that McCay and Hugo Gernsback

knew each other, or that Hugo might've been called "Huck." HG came to the USA in 1905, and McCay's strip ran from 1904 to 1911. Unfortunately, the one in question is not dated in the reprint collection.

But I'm betting that "Huck" was "Hugo," and that they did know each other. My reasoning? It's based on the content of the strip.

Here's what happens on the page.

A man races to a dock with his suitcase, only to see an ocean liner pull away. He's desperate to be on it, so he goes to a nearby "Wireless Telegraph" office. There, he jumps into the hopper of a "patent separator and grinding machine" and emerges as what appears to be a string of sausages, which the operator refers to as "a string of antennae." These are definitely physical items. But now somehow in the next panel they are shown being either beamed (the wireless part?) or perhaps fired from some type of propulsive device toward the ship. There, the sausages are collected into a bucket (and actually refered to as "sausages"). They are loaded into the hopper on a "patent collecting and gathering machine," and out the other end pops the passenger, suitcase and all. He then proceeds to argue about the charge of "ninety-six dollars for wiring me here from the dock."

Now, if that's not pure Gernsbackian SF, I don't know what is!

All this immersion in early-20th-century SF has me wanting to write a Gernsbackian story. It'll be about the famous scientist Michael Faraday.

Faraday will invent time-travel and go to visit his hero, James Watt.

But the two men will get their identities mixed up somehow, perhaps in an experiment.

The story will be called WATT'LL I DO WHEN YOU ARE FARADAY?

Sounds better if you hum it.

Book Expo America

Almost as good as Expo '67!  Or the 1964/65 World's Fair!  (or was that 63/64?) 


Tomorrow I begin to wend my way to BEA in NYC at the Javits Center, where I'll be part of the Monsters of Indie Publishing World Tour, signing at Dark Horse Comics (Booth 2775) Friday, June 1, 3-4 PM; Saturday at Small Beer Press (Booth 2431 in the Consortum aisle) 12-12/30, and reading in the highly-coveted Sunday morning slot at 10.30 AM at the Forword Magazine Second (Indie) Stage.  Drop by, say Hi, glom free books!