June 6, 2012
One of the more ironic things about the pulp fiction revival is how characters and situations that are well over half a century old...seem to have a kind of resonance with our time. Perhaps it's the excessive saturation of comics and graphic sensibility in our current popular culture; perhaps it's changes in publishing that allow for niche markets, but ultimately, there's something really satisfying about engaging in a kind of nostalgia that has a slight touch of the present.
So Airship 27's The Moon Man compilation hits all of those sweet spots....and yes, I am friends and podcast co-host with the main impresario of Airship 27. But that putting that aside, these stories have a kind of resonance, taking place in a Depression-era city that is all too reminiscent of our own current situation.
Originally published in Ten Detective Aces, the Moon Man was really Stephen Thatcher, a police detective who decides to act as Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and power (and usually corrupt) and giving to the poor (via Ned "Angel" Dargan, his trusted aide). Clad in a round globe mask made of "Argus glass" (think one-way mirror), the Moon Man was strange enough to unnerve those who dared oppose him. He had a love interest (who supported him) whose father - much like his own - were sworn to bring in the Moon Man. Taking place in the context of the Great Depression (in "Great City"), these stories have an eerie relevance in our modern day - the notion that a sole crusader would rob from the rich and give to the poor....well, let's just say I'm amazed that the Occupy movement hasn't used this as propaganda...yet.
Although it sounds like a mouthful to say, The Moon Man manages to tell some really great stories that mix an old-school pulp sensibility with modern thinking. Bookended by two great tales by Gary Lovisi (whose other Airship 27 work I've reviewed on another blog), this series of short stories are quick, punchy, and have a great mix of "traditional" 1930's style plotting with a more contemporary sensibility.They may not be high literature, but as beach or travel reading....they're great. It's a pretty quick, easy read (I finished it in about a day and a half on the CTA), and is a strong antidote to the oh-so-hip tendencies of current popular culture.
The Moon Man is available for purchase both in electronic form (as a PDF) and as a print on demand book via IndyPlanet. Think of it as a way to support pulp literature, small businesses, but most importantly - it's a damn good read.