Latest News:
June 20, 2021: Website updated and revised.

!Website Update!

Startled098To quote the late Hubert H. Humphrey, I’m pleased as punch to announce the latest update of my website, thanks once again to the inestimable skills of Fiona Jayde, webmistress extraordinaire. Check out the action on the home page with new, added links to twenty-one publications where my work can be purchased or read for free. Note the updated bibliography, now up to seventy-three published short stories with fourteen stories reprinted, plus more stuff in the pipeline for the near future. All I can say is, maybe I’m doing something right.

http://www.mellonwritesagain.com

Satyr Head or Bring Me The Dead Of Jerry Garcia

Satyr Head182This drawing turned out to inadvertently resemble the Grateful Dead’s late lead guitarist, hence the alternative title. Another attempt at a three-quarters view, I’m not completely dissatisfied with the result, just mostly. For purposes of comparison, just so you can ascertain exactly what a cruddy artist I am, the picture that I used as a model is set forth below. One of these days, I should take some lessons.

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The “Genius” That Was Stan Lee: Book Review

Stan LeeTrue Believer, The Rise And Fall Of Stan Lee, Abraham Reisman, 335 pp., Crown Publishing.

When I was a boy, Marvel comics reigned supreme. Stan Lee was a familiar friend. The snappy dialog, the upbeat attitude, and most of all the amazing characters like Fantastic Four, Spiderman, and Dr. Strange, made an indelible impression. Over time, Lee remained an inescapable media presence, especially with his frequent cameos once the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise took off.

Abraham Reisman has written a thorough biography of Stan Lee. Reisman is also a comic book geek who counts meeting Lee in his youth as a big thrill, yet doesn’t allow being a fan to affect his journalistic objectivity, no matter how badly anyone ends up looking. And Lee did some stuff that comes across as shabby.

While his own genius was a constant refrain, Reisman notes how important luck was in Lee’s career. He joined what would become Marvel through nepotism (an in-law was the publisher) and then worked with some of the greatest comic artists of the Silver Age, e.g., Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. With the debut of characters like Spider-Man in the early ’60’s, Marvel took off, becoming popular with college students and an object of interest to the mainstream media, opportunities Lee capitalized upon with his gift for marketing himself and his product. Marvel fans will enjoy learning how characters like Captain America, the F4, and Spider-Man were created. Also fascinating, but depressing, Reisman’s bio provides probably the best, most accurate, single account of Jack Kirby’s bitter dispute with Lee and Marvel over who created those characters. This alone leaves a black mark on Lee’s reputation, his unwillingness from the start to share the credit and glory.

Lee’s actual working connection to Marvel ended early in the ’70’s, but he still served as THE spokesman for the Marvel brand, promoting the characters’ film and TV possibilities to anyone who’d listen. Unfortunately for Lee, Hollywood producers still regarded comic books as “kids’ stuff” and were averse. As a result, Lee toiled in the wilderness for almost two decades until the MCU finally took off.

After that, with cameos and personal appearances, it seemed like Lee was fixed, but his spendthrift wife and a daughter Kevin Smith described as “the worst f^&king human being in the world,”  drained him of money. Questionable business associates, some of whom undoubtedly ripped Lee off, only made his troubles worse. Lee’s real problem though, was his bad business judgement. He settled with Marvel over creative rights for $10 million, a seemingly large sum, but peanuts compared to a slice of the MCU pie. Lee also regularly developed projects that bombed simply because they were bad (i.e., “Stripperella”). That Lee generated so many punk ideas solo is strong evidence in my opinion that Kirby really was Marvel’s creative force. Lee’s last few years were sad.  In the clutches of manipulators, including his own daughter, they simply used him for what they could get, a miserable yet ironic fate for someone who built his career on others’ unacknowledged work.

I recommend this book to pop culture fans, comic book fans in general, and most of all, members of the Merry Marvel Marching Society. ‘Nuff said!

https://www.amazon.com/True-Believer-Rise-Fall-Stan/dp/0593135717/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=true+believer&qid=1615611627&sr=8-1

Lashed To A Mast, Maddened By Unearthly Voices

Ulysses181

And the colours of the sea
Bind your eyes with trembling mermaids
And you touch the distant beaches
With tales of brave Ulysses
How his naked ears were tortured
By the sirens sweetly singing
For the sparkling waves are calling you
To kiss their white laced lips

Hat tip to Messrs. E. Clapton, G. Baker, & J. Bruce.

Heron Signet Ring

Heron180

The model for the drawing was a photograph of a flying heron on a chalcedony gem signed by the artist, Dexamenos of Chios. Let’s say 450 BCE when the ring was made, so it’s at least 2,400 years old. It’s not apparent from my effort, but the heron on the ring is depicted in a naturalistic, dynamic manner. Dexamenos was truly a master of his craft. Many of the photos that I use as models are from an old copy of John Boardman’s Greek Art. I bought it at a used book stall and it was already falling apart so I feel no compunctions about pulling the book to pieces for my use. People interested in obtaining a recent copy of the work (which I highly recommend) may click the Amazon link below:

https://www.amazon.com/Greek-Art-Fourth-World/dp/0500202923/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=john+boardman+greek+art&qid=1613259567&sr=8-5

“Aphrodite’s Cleft” Now Out In Cauldron Anthology

AphroditeCauldron Anthology is “a magazine of the wild feminine.” Issue no. 12’s theme is Whore and explores the word through the mythology of The Whore of Babylon, Salome and Aphrodite. The issue features art, poetry, and prose, to include my short story Aphrodite’s Cleft, the second published story featuring McCrae Spenser, a doughty, young Scots gentleman, and his strange adventures while on his Grand Tour. For this go round, I arranged something pleasant for him, a meeting with Aphrodite the Seaborne herself.  This story differs from other stuff I write in that there’s no violence with an erotic focus instead.   This story also marks the first time I’ve been published as the sole male author among female contributors. I take this as a very great compliment and want to say thanks to Editor-in-Chief Abigail Pearson for accepting the story.

Geeky, gross erudition fact: The root of Aphrodite is aphros, Greek for sea foam, the sticky junk that floats atop waves, and also semen, a neat play on words since Aphrodite supposedly arose from the water after Cronus threw his father Uranus’s severed genitals into the sea. Greek mythology can be quite entertainingly foul.

The issue is free to read so please click the link and take a look if interested:

http://cauldronanthology.weebly.com/blog/issue-12-live

 

Head Of Mithras

Mithras Head179The model for this drawing was a photograph of a head from a statue of Mithras the sun god, found in a Roman mithraeum, an underground shrine where the initiated members of the esoteric order made sacrifices and ritually feasted in worship of their deity. Originating from Persia and associated with Zoroastrianism, Mithras had significant connections to Hellenic deities as his cult was practiced in the Roman Empire, being closely linked to Sol Invictus, Selene, goddess of the moon, and the figures of the zodiac. Perceived as a rival to Christianity, the worship of Mithras was banned along with other pagan cults and died out as an active faith in the 5th Century CE. This drawing departs somewhat from my usual subject matter, but still fits closely with the general theme of antiquity. While I tried to copy the idol’s head, he came out looking like Marc Bolan. Like the ancient song said, Who needs TV when I got T Rex?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mithraism

Hail Athena Poliouchos – Athena, Founder And Protector Of Cities

AthenaII175

I tried to draw the Greek goddess of wisdom, handicrafts, and battle strategy before, but wasn’t too pleased with the results. This is a second attempt. I’m not crazy about this one either, but it’s a definite improvement over the last effort. The model for the drawing was a photograph of a votive relief from the Acropolis at Athens, ca. 450 BCE. She’s depicted reading a decree, which is why I invoked Athena in her attribute of city founder/protector. I was lucky enough to see the Acropolis and the Parthenon in February of 1982. Someday soon perhaps I’ll see it again.

Tales Of Brave Achilles – Ιστορίες γενναίου Αχιλλέα

Achilles174Given a choice by his mother, the sea nymph Thetis, between a long, peaceful, happy life followed by oblivion, his name unknown as a hero, or a short, violent struggle that ended in a young death and eternal glory, Achilles willingly chose the latter path only to ultimately bemoan his fate as a dead soul trapped in Hades for all eternity, decrying earthly fame as mere vanity, ephemeral as cobwebs.

This picture is based on a photograph of a detail from a vase by the Achilles Painter, ca. 440 BCE.

Host Of Many Now Out Featuring My Story Fortune Teller

hom front coverThe Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a very interesting organization with a focus on Hellenistic-Egyptian paganism that derives its inspiration from the ancient city of Alexandria, home of the famous library where all the legendary wisdom of antiquity was gathered. In that spirit, the BA has been steadily publishing on a fairly prolific basis a series of books exploring various aspects of ancient paganism. One of these previously published books, an anthology entitled Beyond The Pillars, included my short story Raw Meat For The Great God Pan.

The BA’s latest work is Host Of Many, devoted to the Greek Lord of the Dead, the dour and taciturn brother of Zeus and Poseidon, condemned by lot to rule the world’s lower depths, to possess all its mineral wealth, and to only command empty, dead souls. This book has my rather scabrous yarn, Fortune Teller, about the ups and downs of a hedge fund manager who finds an unlikely direct line to old Plouton himself through an elderly Greek soothsayer. The story previously appeared in 2019 in Horror Sleaze Trash.

I don’t have anything to say about my own story, leaving that to the reader’s judgement, but I do want to note that, like the BA itself, Host Of Many is quite an interesting, rather mixed bag.  While there’s the good selection of poetry and fiction that one would expect from a BA anthology,  it also has tasteful, evocative illustrations; serious nonfiction articles that explore various aspects of myth and Hellenistic paganism with a Plutonian focus; descriptions of various rites, sacrifices, and incantations that can be performed at home in privacy if one is of a mind to invoke and worship the Dark One, and even Mediterranean cuisine recipes for solstitial feasts that sound absolutely delicious (A pomegranate aperitif? Ah, chef’s kiss!).

I don’t really consider myself any judge of poetry, but I do particularly want to single out one short story for praise, The Haunting Of Vipsania Licinia by Rebecca Buchanan. This is a truly spooky piece about a turn of the century, hoity-toity Eastern museum that acquires an entire, uprooted Roman tomb from Italy as its showpiece only for the museum’s curator to learn to his horror that the spirit of the tomb’s occupant violently objects to such disrespect and profanation. Ms. Buchanan is plainly deeply versed in the spirit and letter of the ancient Roman faith and culture, with its deep worship for ancestors. Her respect for and fascination with the subject, along with a straightforward narrative and historically accurate details, helps to create an effective ghost story that ends on an ironic twist, which I, of course, won’t give away.

I can seriously recommend this book to fans of fantasy fiction, pagans or pagan curious types, philhellenes, devotees of the esoteric, and anyone who might enjoy an entertaining, varied melange of Hades centered offerings.

https://neosalexandria.org/bibliotheca-alexandrina/current-titles/devotionals/host-of-many-hades-and-his-retinue/

https://neosalexandria.org/bibliotheca-alexandrina/current-titles/fiction-anthologies/beyond-the-pillars-an-anthology-of-pagan-fantasy/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56073376-host-of-many

https://www.amazon.com/Host-Many-Hades-His-Retinue-ebook/dp/B08P8WD73G/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=host+of+many&qid=1606968353&sr=8-1

 

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