November 2009 Web Edition Issue #3
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Mondo Cult #3
Edited by Jessie Lilley
Published by Brad Linaweaver
2012, 1601 pages, $13
from the Prometheus newsletter
This brief review can in no way do justice to the third issue of Mondo Cult, which packs in several magazines' worth of material between full-cover pages. Although adhering to no solid publishing schedule, Mondo Cult, when it arrives, has become a critical vehicle for the review and study of classic film, music, books, and people of science fiction, horror, and fantasy. In this issue over 30 writers contribute articles. Photos of actors, writers, and other personalities fill virtually every page, along with images of classic movie posters, advertisements and cartoons, not to mention a Frank Frazetta picture on the back cover. One could spend hours reading and re-reading this magazine, and http://www.lfs.org/http://www.lfs.org/still discover or re-discover new aspects of what is covered.
The contents are helpfully grouped by topic, such as books, comics, features, fiction, interview, film, music, and more. Interestingly, the books section is one of the smaller sections. Film gains most of the focus, with around 20 reviews and articles on such diverse topics as Atlas Shrugged, King Kong, the Narnia movies, Sherlock Holmes, and many more cult-like movies, including modern ones like Kick-Ass. From black and white to color, horror to science fiction, classics and modern re-boots, the reviews all display a love of the cinema. Some of the reviews go in-depth, setting them in context, and adding potential spoilers for those who may not have seen them. Some of the movie reviews are brief. Others, like Jerry Jewett on Narnia encompasses several movies and compares them in-depth to the original books. There's even a nod to TV, with articles on new shows like Grimm, as well as old ones such as the rare and creepy version of Jack Vance's novel, Bad Ronald. Rare in print as well as screen, Bad Ronald seems sadly modern. Dr. Who fans William Alan Ritch and Buddy Barnett weigh in with articles about the show and obituaries of one of the characters, Elizabeth Sladen, who played Sarah Jane on the show.
Along with the interviews, I found the feature articles most interesting, with in-depth coverage of such varied people as Hans Christian Anderson and H. P. Lovecraft, A. E Van Vogt and Rondo Hatton. Brad Linaweaver's article on Lovecraft brings up Charles Stross, some of whose novels merge Lovecraft and James Bond into something weird and delightful.
Having reiviewed some Atlanta Radio Theatre Company productions in the past for Prometheus, I enjoyed reading Brad Strickland's essay on their history and productions. I had no idea that ARTC did a Guards! Guards! production back in 2001, nor how difficult it can be to get the rights for audio adaptations.
Among the interviewees in Mondo Cult are Britt Lomond, who acted in Disney's TV show, Zorro, along with a host of other shows in the 1950s and 1960s. There are brief interviews with Roger Corman and John Landis, and others in the movie business. The business of making movies can often be as interesting (if not more so) than the actual movies. Of the books reviewed, the only one I recognized was William Patterson's Robert A. Heinlein biography (volume one), Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialog with His Century. The focus on other forms of culture came at a cost to the books; graphic novels, comic books, regular fiction received scant coverage.
Closing out the magazine is Brad Linaweaver's illustrated paean to Ray Bradbury and the power of fiction, "Clutter," with an alternate ending from Ray Bradbury (Editor's Note: Art by L.J. Dopp). In this story, a teenager comes to live with his aunt after the death of his parents. A fanatic about cleanliness, she decides he has "too many books," and sets out to reform him, to punish him for what she calls his selfishness. One cannot help but feel the horror, the horror, when a rare Arkham House edition of Ray Bradbury's story collection, Dark Carnival, is broken and destroyed. To a fan, this is akin to murder, which makes the villain almost too easy to hate, yet the tale no less powerful. And then, seeing Bradbury's comments about the ending brought to light with a page of his alternate ending seemed quite generous. Having recently re-read several Ray Bradbury stories, his voice in those few words are vintage Bradbury.
With over 160 pages of material, this ambitious third issue of Mondo Cult easily surpasses the prior two issues in scope and size. Publisher Brad Linaweaver and editor Jessie Lilley clearly have performed a massive labor of love in producing and writing this magazine. Mondo Cult #3 is well worth a look; we may never see its like again, with the expense of paper, print and mailing costs trending ever upward. Copies can be ordered at Mondo Cult Online, where new articles continue to appear, including a moving tribute to Ray Bradbury, who died in 2012. The web might be the future, but occasionally we need these windows to our past that grace the dying breed like only a print magazine such as Mondo Cult can provide.