Derrick Ferguson: Who is Lucas Garrett?
Lucas Garrett: I am a thirty-three year old African American, a former United States Marine, and a concierge security officer with over fourteen years of experience in the security industry. I am the second oldest of seven children (five sons and two daughters). In addition, I write unpublished fan fiction, and I am a fan of various forms of literature, television, films, and video games. In particular, those forms of media that focus on crossovers.
DF: Where do you live and what do you do to keep the bill collectors away?
LG: For a year and a half, I have lived in a suburban subdivision in Lawrenceville, Georgia. I work for Allied Barton Security Services as a concierge security officer at a high-rise office complex near the CNN Center, in downtown Atlanta, Georgia.
DF: You are a major Science Fiction/Comic Book/Movie/Classic Pulp/New Pulp/Wold Newton Universe fan. Where did all this begin for you?
LG: That’s a loaded question. My love for science fiction, comic books, movies, classic pulp, new pulp, and the Wold Newton Family/Universe comes from my Dad. He was a voracious reader, mostly of classic literature, history, anthropology, archaeology and linguistic studies. It is because of him that I have a strong love for reading.
When he was younger, my Dad was a fan of the short-lived television series, “The Green Hornet”, starring Van Williams and Bruce Lee. In fact, one of the first comic books my father bought for me, when I was a kid, was Now Comics’ The Green Hornet #2, written by Ron Fortier. The Green Hornet, and later The Phantom, were characters who intrigued me because the mantle of The Green Hornet and The Phantom were passed down from generation to generation. In the case of The Green Hornet, the mantle is transferred from uncle to nephew, whereas for The Phantom, the mantle is transferred from father to son. I loved the family dynamic. And even though The Green Hornet and The Phantom were not Pulp heroes per se (The Green Hornet originated from Old Time Radio, and The Phantom began as a comic strip character), I see Pulp literary elements in the characters and their world.
DF: What are some of your favorite Science Fiction TV shows and Movies?
LG: Science fiction is the final frontier of the mind for me. Therefore, I gravitated to it very early on with movies such as the original Star Wars trilogy, the Star Trek films, Enemy Mine, The Brother From Another Planet, The Final Countdown, The Philadelphia Experiment, Tron, the Terminator films, and the Predator films. Action adventure films such as the Raiders of the Lost Ark trilogy, the James Bond films starring Sean Connery, the John Carpenter films (Escape From New York, The Thing, and Big Trouble in Little China, in particular), Highlander, The Rocketeer, The Shadow, and The Phantom prepared me for my early foray into pulp literature. And, of course, when I was younger, television shows like Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation were big in my home. Although, of the various Star Trek series, including Star Trek: Voyager, I gravitated more towards Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Captain Benjamin Sisko, portrayed by Avery Brooks, is my favorite character from the series.
In fact, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and J. Michael Straczynski’s Babylon 5 were the two television science fiction series I routinely watched in the 1990’s. Moreover, I am a fan of old television series like Automan, Voyagers!, Misfits of Science, the A-Team, Magnum P.I., Simon & Simon, Miami Vice, MacGyver, Mission: Impossible, Airwolf, M.A.N.T.I.S., Kindred: The Embrace, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Jack of All Trades, Hercules, Xena: The Warrior Princess, Angel, etc. Currently, on the SyFy Channel, I watch Eureka, Warehouse 13, Sanctuary, Lost Girl, and Alphas. On CBS, I watch NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles. On Cinemax, I watch Strike Back. Furthermore, I am a big fan of Doctor Who, and J.J. Abrams’ Alias, and I watch them on DVD whenever I get the chance.
DF: Do you think Science Fiction in print has lost some of the fun and sense of wonder that it used to be known for? And if so, why?
LG: I think it has since we live in a technologically-advanced period in human history. We are literally one-step away from Star Trek. All we need now are faster-than-light space vessels, and teleportation. We pretty much have everything else that Gene Roddenberry envisioned. Those who read science fiction, in the past, were trying to make it possible in real-life. I don’t see much of that drive these days. Scientists and engineers have become so successful in giving the public new technological tools and toys, that we have become complacent. Despite the recent launching of the Mars Rover, Curiosity, being a success for the scientific and academic world, very few outside those circles cared. Furthermore, literary works of fantasy, such as the Harry Potter and Twilight series, are usurping literary works based on hardcore science fiction, or science fiction based on scientific fact and logical speculation. The primary reason why books like Harry Potter and Twilight are doing so well is that there is little explanation needed to understand them, if and when, they become feature films.
The K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid) approach is being used to make money off literary science fiction and fantasy properties; because the aim of the publishers is to get enough buzz about a book series, so that it is optioned as a series of feature length films. That’s my take on it. Comic books are in the same boat too. Literary works are now source material for big or small screen adaptations. The literary property is a vehicle to launch a multimedia enterprise that not only markets the books, but also other connected merchandising properties. Very few people write books for the sake of having books published. The Internet and other multimedia enterprises have changed the nature of the game forever.
DF: Who are your favorite Science Fiction writers?
LG: Philip Jose’ Farmer, Win Scott Eckert, Christopher Paul Carey, Rick Lai, Arthur “Art” Sippo, Ron Fortier, Derrick Ferguson, Howard Hopkins, Charles Saunders, Milton Davis, Barry Reese, Jason Jack Miller, Heidi Ruby Miller, William Patrick Maynard, Will Murray, Lester Dent, Walter Gibson, Norvell Page, Philip Wylie, E.E. “Doc” Smith, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, Michael Crichton, Howard V. Hendrix, Caleb Carr, Leslie Silbert, and J. Gregory Keyes. A lot, I know.
DF: What were the last five movies you saw and how’d you like ‘em?
LG: THE AVENGERS, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, THOR, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, and BATTLE: LOS ANGELES. I loved them. In particular, BATTLE: LOS ANGELES, since I’m a former U.S. Marine, and I enjoyed seeing what type of battle plan the Marine Corps would have in the advent of an extraterrestrial incursion into our known space and planet Earth. Aaron Eckert was superb in his role as a Staff Sergeant, who had planned on leaving the Corps, but due to circumstances beyond his control, winds up leading a platoon of Marines, and other service members, in launching a counterattack against the alien invaders. I went away thinking that this would be a great prequel to Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers novel. That’s how my mind works. I see crossover potential in almost any media.
THE AVENGERS was fantastic. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER was outstanding. Initially, I wasn’t a fan of Chris Evans taking on the role of Steve Rogers. Specifically, because Evans had played Johnny Storm in The Fantastic Four films. However, and surprisingly, Evans won me over. Any actor willing to put in the time, and energy, to play an iconic character on film, as Evans did, deserves my respect. And director, Joe Johnston, masterfully told a great story about the first true Avenger in Marvel Comics history, and the world in which he fought. I couldn’t have asked for anything else.
THOR was also very good. Better than I expected, actually. I especially, loved the way the writers showed that advanced technology and science would be perceived by lesser civilizations as being magical in nature.
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS was perhaps the best X-Men film I have seen since X2: X-MEN UNITED. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender were outstanding as the younger versions of Charles Francis Xavier (Professor X) and Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto.) And the actor to watch, in my opinion, is Fassbender. If a Hollywood studio ever decides to make a feature film about the pulp vigilante, The Spider, then Fassbender is the man you need to play the title role. I can see Fassbender portraying Richard Wentworth, alongside Lena Headey, as Nita Van Sloan. Of course, what won me over about Fassbender was his range in the film, as well as the intentional references to the Sean Connery James Bond films. Fassbender looks like he could be Connery’s son, or grandson. Overall, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS shines because of how logical the evolution of the X-Men, from a top-secret CIA assault team during the Cuban Missile Crisis, to the personal strike team of the Xavier School for the Gifted seemed. It makes complete sense that the X-Men would cut their teeth during one of the most tumultuous times in human history. The Children of the Atom would save the world from nuclear holocaust. It was pure genius, on the part of the scriptwriters, to bring that remarkable idea to the silver screen.
DF: What three Classic Pulp characters would you like to see adapted to movies?
LG: The Spider, Operator #5, and The Avenger.
DF: How long have you been reading comic books and what are your favorites?
LG: I rarely read comics anymore. The last comics I read were Moonstone’s The Spider #1, The Spider #2, and The Spider vs. The Werewolf. The last comic book series I read was Warren Ellis and John Cassaday’s Planetary series. That was two years ago. Since then, I haven’t read any other comics. When I was ten years old, my Dad bought me Classic X-Men #44, Batman #441, and Now Comics’ Green Hornet #2. Therefore, from September 1990 until March 2010, I collected and read comics books of various genres. Mostly superhero comics. Now, unless it comes from Moonstone, or Airship 27, I don’t even bother. Even Alan Moore has disappointed me with his last series about the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
DF: What's the biggest difference you've seen in comic books between when you first started reading them and now?
LG: How complicated they have become. There is too much serialization and tie-ins needed to understand most of the comics out today. There are very few standalone stories in superhero comics being printed these days. And, of course, way too much political pandering, and agendas, in today’s comics that I don’t particularly think need to be in a comic book geared toward preteens and adolescents. When I was coming up, the comics I read the most were Uncanny X-Men and X-Men. Now, there are numerous X-Men, or X-related, titles to look at, and they’re all interconnected. If I had been a ten-year old coming up today, I doubt very highly that my Dad would purchase these comics.
First of all the prices for comics have gone way up. When I was younger, comics ranged from $0.50 to $1.25. Now you have comics that cost four to five dollars, at the minimum. Secondly, in order to follow the story arc for most Marvel and DC comics, you have to purchase tie-in comics. Thirdly, there are too many monumental events happening every three, or four, years. And finally, the characters are not allowed to grow up, grow old, get married, have children, and have a life. It’s idiotic, in my opinion, to have the original X-Men not age, and have lives, and families of their own. Cyclops should not look like a thirty-five year old man. A superhero can be all he or she can be, and still be a normal human being. The problem that I see from the two “big houses” is that they have run out of ideas. It’s easier to invest your attentions in an established character, or world, as opposed to expanding it through time, or creating a brand new one of your own. When I realized that unfortunate fact, I lost all interest in superhero comics.
DF: We're seeing an awful lot of Classic Pulp heroes being adapted into comics these days. What are your thoughts on that?
LG: I am happy if it is done right. When it is not done right, it affects the properties greatly. A great example of it not being done properly is the recent fiasco infamously known as “DC: First Wave.” The writers cannot take characters like Doc Savage and his Amazing Five, The Avenger, and his team, Justice, Inc., and expect them to function properly in a modern day setting.
These characters were tailor-made for the world in which they operated: The Depression era. It was easier in those days to yearn for the ‘Superman.’ Now such a person would be ostracized, and viewed with suspicion, by many people. Because that person would be perceived as being a threat to societal mores, and the wellbeing of the public, and could potentially, inadvertently, or intentionally, change the cultural and political climate of society. Back then, people were on the lookout for the “Great Man” who would save them, and take care of their problems. It was in the cultural psyche. And the pulps gave the readers what they wanted. To modern readers, they would seem antiquated. Obsolete. But they are not. Pulp heroes and villains who are set in their natural settings can still be used to tell great stories. But you cannot change the nature of the character, and their world, and expect longtime fans of these characters to come along. It’s not going to happen.
Derrick Ferguson: When did you first discover Classic Pulp?
Lucas Garrett: It happened around the fall of 1999. At around this time, I was reading Warren Ellis and John Cassaday’s Planetary comic book series for WildStorm Productions, the now defunct imprint of DC Comics. Issues #’s 1 and 5 drew me to the Pulp Hero archetypes that were clear homages to characters such as Doc Savage, The Shadow, The Spider, Tarzan, G-8, Operator #5, Tom Swift, Shiwan Khan, and Fu Manchu. I had remembered The Shadow from the 1994 film starring Alec Baldwin. It was a decent film. The main intrigue for me was The Shadow himself. How could he affect people’s minds? Furthermore, around this time, I became aware of the pulp historian and annotation expert, Jess Nevins, through his Wold Newton website, and his annotation works on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume One. It was the perfect situation for me because I had had enough of superhero comics. I wanted to read something rooted in reality. The introduction of Planetary, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the Wold Newton Family, and Universe, and the classic pulps, helped to direct my reading habits as I began to wean myself away from superhero comics. I would occasionally read Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s The Ultimates, Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men, and Chris Claremont’s run on X-Treme X-Men. But that was about it. It was primarily Planetary and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volumes 1 and 2.
Stay tuned for Part Two as I continue to Kick The Willy Bobo with Lucas Garrett and we talk about Classic Pulp, New Pulp and The Wold Newton Universe