Recursive Science Fiction

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Barker, Jim & Evans, Chris, The Best of Elmer T. Hack

Elmer T. Hack is a British SF writer best known for his "Goodman of the Galaxy" series of novels. The book consists of "An Interview with Elmer T. Hack" conducted by Chris Evans at "The Heart of Gold" in North Wembley. This details some elements of his career. [The interview was originally published in Deadloss 2.]  Most of the book is a series of cartoon strips by Jim Barker illustrating unpleasant incidents in Hack's professional life [some of these originally appeared in the British Science Fiction Association's journal Vector ]. There is also a short story—"A Day in the Life" (by Chris Evans)— about Hack and his fan disciple, Horace Spark, who has just sold his first SF story. Finally, Christopher Priest contributes a review of one of Hack's books—Lucifer's Bradawl.

BSFA/Hack Press, 1979

Busiek, Kurt, Where the Action Is

Sally Twinings is a comic book artist working for Bulldog Comics in a universe where there are actual superheroes. Her scripts are revised to give them more zip. Following the Astro City Comicon, her publisher, Manny Monkton, is put into the hospital by Glowworm [note the doctor's name on his hospital chart is Wertham, F.—recalling the author of Seduction of the Innocent]. Later Monkton's building disappears with him in it. Color art: Alex Sinclair; penciler: Brent E. Anderson; inker: Will Bylberg; cover: Alex Ross; design & lettering: John Roshell & Wes Abbott; editor: John Layman.

Kurt Busiek's Astro City, Homage Comics (DC) 2:21 March 2000

Butterworth, Jack & Ridgway, John, "The Buster Crabbe Collector"

In the future Lester Loud collects Buster Crabbe memorabilia as an investment. His latest acquisition is a computer-generated simuloid who looks like Crabbe as Flash Gordon (the comics uniform—not the Republic serial versions). Loud's tennis instructor, Joy, sympathizes with the simuloid and this upsets the programming causing it to fall in love with her. Joy takes the simuloid generator and tells Loud to collect from his insurance company. Story: Jack Butterworth; art: John Ridgway; letterer: Annie Halfacree; color: Sam Parsons.

Alien Encounters 14, Eclipse Comics August 1987

Chadwick, Paul, "Byrdland's Secret"

Ron and Concrete visit a writer friend named Duane Byrd (Cordwainer Bird = Harlan Ellison) at his home. The house, based upon Ellison's is a marvelous collection of art, books, and comics. On the top shelf in the library are a number of Hugos, Nebulas, Emmys, and Poe awards. Byrd's wife is named Susan (just as Ellison's is). Not much of a plot but a nice homage to one of the major writers in the field. Lettering: Bill Spicer; Art Assist: Jed Hotchkiss.

Dark Horse Presents 66 September 1992 (pp 1-8)

Collins, Max Allan, "Danger Ahead"

The time is August 1952. Mike Danger's friend and World War II buddy Lou Gernsback, a science fiction writer, has published a story in Weird Fantastic Science about a Nazi scientist who has frozen some of the leaders for later revival. Ernst Guzman, who perfected a hibernation gas and actually done this, has Lou killed. Mike tracks him down and does Guzman in but an accident puts Mike into hibernation. Inker: Steve Leialoha, penciler: Eduardo Barrewto, Color Designer: Alex Wald, Computer Colorist: Tony Kelly, Cover Artist: Frank Miller, Editor: Christopher Mills.

Mickey Spillane's Mike Danger 1:1 September 1995, Tekno Comix

Feldstein, Al, "7 Year Old Genius!"

Rufus Tatum is a seven-year-old super genius from the mountains of Tennessee. While working for the government his calculations show that the hydrogen bomb will destroy the world, so he provides false information. Becoming a laughing stock he travels to New York to have his story printed in Weird Fantasy in order to prevent a real hydrogen bomb from being built. Note: in one panel, Rufus is reading an issue of Weird Fantasy; the back cover has an ad reading "Reduce engrams with Old Mother Hubbard's Cure-All diet..."

Weird Fantasy 7 May/June 1951 EC Comics

Weird Fantasy 1:7 April 1994 EC Comics (pp1-8)

Fleming, Robert Loren & Griffen, Keith, Hell on Earth

The is an adaptation of Robert Bloch's 1942 story of the same name. Robert Fleming says: "As the writer of the graphic novel adaptation of Robert Bloch's short story, 'Hell on Earth,' I thought I should inform you that the original story was not in any way recursive. The main character was a detective, not a writer of horror fiction. I also made substantial changes to the ending of the story. Bloch apparently approved of these changes, or at least he never complained about them to my editor, his old friend Julius Schwartz. I thought you might appreciate the correction."

In addition to the writing adapter and artist above, others involved are Greg Theakston & Bill Wray (inkers and colorists), Gaspar Saladino (letterer), Richard Bruning (art director), and Julius Schwartz (editor).

DC Science Fiction Graphic Novel SF1, 0-930289-05-6, 1985

Fox, Gardner, "Menance of the Shrinking Bomb"

Much of this story is a discussion between writer Gregory Farmer (Gardner Fox) and his editor Julian Sloan (Julius Schwartz) as they attempt to find a good science fiction story for the next issue of their comic book. Story: Gardner Fox; art: Sid Greene.

Strange Adventures 113, DC Comics, February 1960

Gaiman, Neil & Jones, Kelley, "Calliope"

Richard Madoc is a horror writer, author of The Cabaret of Dr. Caligari.  However, he is unable to write anything else. From an older writer, Erasmus Fry (author of Here Come a Candle), he buys the muse Calliope (chief of the Muses; muse of epic poetry). Fry had captured her in Greece in 1927 and has been holding her captive. Madoc misuses her, writes books, screenplays, etc., and become rich and famous. Calliope is finally rescued by Oneiros (the bringer of dreams) and leaves Madoc with no imagination nor ideas. Story: Neil Gaiman; penciller: Kelley Jones; inker: Malcolm Jones III; Color: Robbie Busch; letterer: Todd Klein.

The Sandman 17, DC Comics 1990

The Sandman: Dream Country, DC Comics 1-56389-016, 1991 [the script is printed in this book]

Gaines, Bill & Feldstein, Al, "The Cosmic Ray Bomb Explosion"

Two people, Bill and Al, are trying to think up a good story for the SF comic book Weird Science that they work for. They decide upon a cosmic ray bomb that blows up Washington. When they story is published they are taken to Washington for questioning and finally released when the F.B.I. realizes that it was just a comic book. However, Russian agents buy a copy of the comic and follow the instructions. They blow up the capital just as Bill and Al are leaving the F.B.I. Compare this story with the events surrounding the publishing of Cleve Cartmill's "Deadline" in the March 1944 issue of Astounding Science Fiction in which the author's description of the atomic bomb was followed by federal authorities visiting John W. Campbell's office. Story: Bill Gaines; art: Al Feldstein.

Weird Fantasy 14, EC Publishing, July-August 1950

Weird Science 3, Gladstone Publishing, January 1991

Weird Fantasy 2, Russ Cochran, Publisher, January 1993

Goodwin, Archie; Wood, Wallace, & Adkins, Dan, "Overworked!"

Fantasy & SF comics artist Allan Wallace keeps dreaming that he is in the worlds he has created by his art. Finally, he is trapped in one of his stories and cannot return to our world. Script: Archie Goodwin; art: Wallace Wood & Dan Adkins.

Creepy 9, June 1966

Creepy 1969 Yearbook, 1969 (pp.27-32)

Grubb, Jeff & Morales, Rags, "Everybody Wants to Run the Realms"

A backstage tour of operations center for a group of fantasy comic books—Forgotten Realms, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, and Spelljammer.  After seeing how things operate we are finally taken to the ultima thule of lost souls—R&D where the writers and artists are. Author: Jeff Grubb; Artist: Rags Morales; Colorist: Gene D'Angelo; Letterer: Tim Harkins; Editor: Kim Yale.

Forgotten Realms 24, DC Comics, August 1991

Hewetson, Al & Trapani, Sal, "Where Satan Dwells..."

Uncle Creepy, who narrates the stories, gets tired of this and goes out looking for adventure. Through the mechanism of one of those ubiquitous old book stores he gets to read a copy of Where Dwells Satan (note difference from story title) and goes into the story. There he is the hero. He returns to the world of the bookstore and then leaves. The bookstore owner turns out to be Cousin Eerie from the companion magazine Eerie. Story: Al Hewetson; art: Sal Trapani.

Creepy 39, May 1971 (pp.6-13)

Kenney, Doug & Jones, Bruce, "The Last TV Show"

It is 1955 and KFAX's show Captain Fred and His Rocket Squad is going to be cancelled. However, a stanger shows up with marvelous props and special effects. It turns out to be an alien who is working to repair his ship and takes the TV station with him. Story: Doug Kenney; art: Bruce Jones.

National Lampoon 1:27 June 1972 (pp37-40)

Levitz, Paul & Griffen, Keith, "Good Cop, Bad Cop?"

The Legion of Superheroes watches a game of Moopsball at he Metropolis Stadium. This game was described in "Rules of Moopsball" by Gary Cohn in Orbit 18  (edited by Damon Knight), Harper & Row 012433-4, June 1976 (pp.65-73). [The people are credited as writer, plotter, and penciller.]  See also Gene Wolfe.

Legion of Superheroes 312, DC Comics, June 1984 (p.6)

Longcroft, Sean, "Doctor Who and the Fangs of Time"

Sean Longcroft has been a Doctor Who fan for 24 years. He is writing a Doctor Who story to send to the BBC. The fourth Doctor drops in to read the manuscript and chat. He critiques the story and makes suggestions which Sean incorporates into the ending of this graphic. Story and art: Sean Longcroft; lettering: Elitta Fell; editors: Gary Gillatt and Scott Gray.

Doctor Who Magazine 243, Marvel Magazines, 25 September 1996 (pp.14-20)

Maggin, Elliot, et al., "The Last Earth-Prime Story"

This was written for the 70th birthday anniversary of DC editor, SF writer and fan Julius Schwartz. On Earth-One Schwartz is a down-and-out bum; his superhero comics failed because real superheroes existed in this alternate. He was also an agent for SF writers such as Ray Bradbury and co-edited a fanzine with Perry White. After being kidnapped by a would-be world dominator who wants to pick his brain he tricks Superman into taking him to Earth-Prime. Here Superman is a character in a comic book. Schwartz-One merges with Schwartz-Prime at the latter's birthday party at DC Comics. Superman returns to his own world. Others involved in this comic are Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson, John Constanza, Gene D'Angelo with Dick Giordano, Paul Levitz, and Bob Rozakis.

Superman 411, DC Comics, September 1985

Meddick, Jim, Robotman     Comic strip

Monty tries to crash the Star Trek convention posing at the brother of the actor who played Lt. De Paul on the original series. An alert door guard trips him up on the episodes Sean Kenney appeared in [16—The Menagerie; 19—Arena; 23—A Taste of Armageddon]. Monty winds up across the street in a bar with other would-be gate crashers.

Robotman 28 March 1999, United Feature Syndicate

Meddick, Jim, Robotman     Comic strip

Monty is writing a pulpy science fiction novel. He gets into trouble with his spell checker, his pinky, and sleazy sex in the story.

United Media 21-25+ June 1999

Miller, Frank, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

A marginal item. The only recursive item is the appearance of Harlan Ellison on the "Lola Chong Gives Good News" show. There is part of a statement by Ellison on that show — ". . . be eating our own babies for breakfast."  Harlan Ellison is never shown. Story and pencils: Frank Miller; inks: Klaus Janson and Frank Miller; colors: Lynn Varley; letters: John Costanza.

Warner 38505-0, 1986 [§4, pp.13-14]; DC Comics 13-7, 1986

Moore, Alan & Sprouse, Chris, "The Hero-Hoard of Horatio Hogg!"

Tom Strong and his daughter Tesla are signing comic book autographs. When they open the cover of Secret Nemesis number 20, Mar [probably 1959 from internal evidence] they are pulled into the pages of the book. This is a plot by Horatio Hogg, Collector of Champions. In conjunction with the native super heroes—L'il Algebra, Fanny Fashion, Sam Continent, Spex, Dad Brine-Chimp, Captain Eternity, Ray, Chiefy, and Miss Universe—they are able to overcome Hogg. Tom and Tesla return to the normal world, the heroes remain in their book and Hogg is placed into the book. In the pre-code book, Hogg is killed by the heroes in a manner suggested by EC Comics; his severed head now appears on the cover. Script: Alan Moore; Pencils: Chris Spouse; Inks: Karl Story; Colors: Dave Stewart; Letters: Todd Klein; Assisitant Editor: Kristy Quinn; Editor: Scott Dunbier.

Tom Strong, 19, April 2003, America's Best Comics

Nomura, Ted, "Projekt: Mars (1945)"

In an alternate history Joseph Goebbels makes a science fiction film to convince the Allies that Germany has an active manned Moon and Mars anding program. Original art: Ted Nomura; art modification: Ben Dunn; editor: Doug Dlin.

Tigers of Terra 1990, MindVisions

World War II: 1946/Families of Altered Wars #1 October 1998, Antarctic Press (compilation edition) (pp. 13-27)

Parkhouse, Steve, "The Fabulous Idiot"

Dr. Ivan Asimoff is home on Planet Sigma, where he lives with his aunt, working on the plot of his latest story. Meanwhile another alien works feverishly on the cover art for his latest book. Art: Steve Parkhouse and Geoff Senior; editor: Alan McKenzie; colorist: Andy Yanchus.

Doctor Who, November 1985, vol. 1, no. 14 (pp. 13-16)

Parkhouse, Steve, "Free-fall Warriors"

At the Festival of Five Planets, the fourth Doctor meets Dr. Asimoff, famous science-fiction writer. This Dr. Asimoff happens to be a green, overweight, tentacled alien who enjoys Triplovian sundaes and garish clothing.
Art: Dave Gibbons; editor: Alan McKenzie; colorist: Andy Yanchus (reprint only).

Doctor Who Monthly, September (no. 56, pp. 5-12) and October 1981(no. 57)

Doctor Who, September 1985, vol. 1, no. 12 (pp. 9-24)

Parkhouse, Steve, "Polly the Glot"

The sixth Doctor and Frobisher the Shape-changer again meet the scientist and writer Dr. Ivan Asimoff. This story involves the freeing of the captive Zyglot and the extortion of 250,000 mazumas from Intra-Venus, Inc. for the "Save the Zyglot Trust."  Art: John Ridgway; editor: Alan McKenzie; colour: Gina Hart (reprints only).

Doctor Who Monthly, December 1984 - February 1985 (no. 95-97)

Doctor Who Collected Comics: The Shape-Shifter and Polly the Glot, Marvel Comics, Ltd. (pp.19-42).

Doctor Who Graphic Novel Voyager, Marvel Comics, Ltd. 045-4. (pp. 61-84)

Ruby & Medved, Doug, "The Ideal Solution"

Randall is a fantasy artist. One day, after a fight with his Significant Other, he uses a new magic pencil to draw another woman; she becomes real but sides with the first one. He draws a third woman and the three gang up against him to get him to work more regularly, etc. Finally, he draws himself; sets himself to work; and retires to spend time with the three ladies. Story: Ruby; art: Doug Medved; letterer: Carrie Spiegle; color: Lovern Kindzierski.

Alien Encounters 13, Eclipse Comics June 1987

Siegel, Jerry, Lars of Mars

After the humans explode the first hydrogen bomb, Martian scientists send the hero Lars to Earth to make sure that interplanetary piece is preserved. Once on Earth, he assumes the role of an actor in a television science fiction show (probably based upon Captain Video). Story and editor: Jerrry Siegel; artist: Murphy Anderson.

"Terror from the Sky!", 10, April-May 1951, Ziff-Davis Publications

"The Crucial Game", 11, July-August 1951, Ziff-Davis Publications

Lars of Mars 3D, April 1987, Eclipse Comics 3-D Special 19

Skeates, Steve & Maroto, Esteban, "Look What They've Done!"

Dale is a revolutionary who finds himself in a SF comic book story. He cannot abide the underlying philosophy and argues with the author. He tries to radicalize the readers and so comes to an unpleasant ending. Story: Steve Skeates; art: Esteban Maroto.

Eerie 36, November 1971 (pp.33-38)

Sprouse, Chris see Moore, Alan

Sutton, Tom, "The Monster from One Billion B. C."

Harold Fenster is the world's greatest special effects artist. His secret is that all the monsters and creatures in the films are real. The producer C. B. Goodheart knows about this (and Fenster's murders, grave robbings, etc.) and threatens him with exposure if the tyrannosaurus in the next movie isn't perfect. But it winds up with a little too much realism for C.B. Art and script by Tom Sutton.

Eerie 11, September 1967 (pp.38-45)

Williamson, Al, "The Aliens"

A spaceship with three aliens is one its way to Earth to prevent a disastrous nuclear war. They are too late and the Earth is shattered into many fragments. They land on one, part of the surface and find a copy of Weird Fantasy 17. They read the story "The Aliens" and find it predicts their actions. When they reach the last page they find a picture of them looking at a comic book containing a picture of them looking... infinite recursion. Art: Al Williamson.

Weird Fantasy 17, EC Publishing, January-February 1951

Weird Science 2, Gladstone Publishing, November 1990

Wood, Wally, "EC Confidential"

Phineas T. Fables, President of Fables Publishing Company, Inc., the company that publishes the EC comics, is upset and calls the entire EC staff in for a meeting. He explains that their stories have been predicting actual events. A Martian saucer arrives; the staff hides Fables, but appear to be destroyed by the Martians.. The staff reappears to reveal that only robot duplicates were destroyed. Gaines and Feldman tell Fables that the purpose of the stories is to gain credibility so people will believe in the Martian invasion plans. The EC staff are all surviving Venusites; that planet did not believe and was conquered. Art: Wally Wood.

Weird Science 21, EC Publishing, September/October 1953

Weird Science 21 September 1997, Gemstone Publishing

Wood, Wally, "The Martians!"

An Earth spaceship (Mars-2) lands on Mars and finds the ruins of an ancient civilization. At a theatre they play a recording which turns of to be The Invasion from the Third Planet! A Science-Fiction Thriller! wherein humans fight tentacled creatures. Of course, it is the tentacled creatures who are the good guys—the Martians. Art: Wally Wood.

Weird Science 15, EC Publishing, September-October 1952

Weird Science 1:15, Gemstone Publishing, March 1996

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