Hello Fantasy Friends,
I bought the new Conan the Barbarian movie and am going to watch it tonight with a side of chips and diet coke. Personally, I thought Jason Mamoa made a great Conan. This movie is (in my opinion and a lover of Robert E. Howard work) great. Nothing will be exactly like the stories, but this adaptation is much closer to the wit, personality & smarts of the Conan character. Jason portrayed Conan as smart and clever, though with steely determination and a rough chivalry. I will not comment on the first 1981 movie or the television show with the clone of Arnold. I love old fashioned, gritty pulp writing. Robert E. Howard short stories are the best in this genre. Personally, I hope they make another film. My biggest complaint is that they made is another revenge fantasy and Conan was all about the adventure and walking the misty roads of a magical, dangerous world with a glint in his eye and a sword in his hand. Hey Jason-need someone to help with the script? I write great dialogue and understand the genre (so does my husband Rick Hipps). Read my novel or check out one of my short stories. I would love to work on a Conan film script. A girl can dream.
Which brings me back to my first thought about respecting the pulp-understand your genres.
Back to the pulp talk. People tend to assume a literature-fringed snobby attitude and claim they would never read this type of genre or watch films derived from it, yet so much of what we love to see in movies and read about bursts with pulpy goodness. You think back to the greats-such as Robert E. Howard, H. Rider Haggard and many more writers that composed adventures with feral imagination. Stay true to your story and its characters. This goes for any genre. The era in which Robert E. Howard wrote is gone forever, but his pulp stories will always survive the ages. That is because pulp writing at its best conveys action and its characters spring to vibrant life off the page. It is a genre to respect. There are many genres because life needs variety to spice up the brain cells. Romance has its place, as does horror, fantasy, mystery, true crime, drama, children, comedy, and more. Pulp has many elements of course, because it can fall into any genre (crime, fantasy, horror, science fiction, adventure, etc.), but the execution of good pulp writing has a particular style of urgency. Do not do a classic pulp-derived character like Conan and try to make a social commentary from issues in today's society. Pick another genre for that. For Conan and other great pulp characters, stick to the core of what the character is about-action, adventure, gritty sex, and epic quests. Do not soften the tale with current social commentary. Some things are universal in the world, and do not need to be paired with unnecessary politically correct foot notes. An example is making fairy tales politically correct. Fairy tales are important folk tales that conveyed a harsh ancient morality and sense of justice for the suffering heroines. They were meant to be dark. The magic is meant to be dark. They are not fluffy tales to read to your four year old while they hug their store bought teddy bears. Changing them to a modern view is unpleasant and turns the characters & stories into stale white bread. It destroys the magic. The same goes for old-fashioned pulp-do not water it down. Take the heart of what it is and honor it. Do not destroy the magic. So respect the pulp.