Monday, June 13, 2011

Many Men Smoke...

One of the projects I'm currently working on is typesetting a RPG Setting book created and written by Flashback Universe regular and good friend Trey Causey called Weird Adventures. It's sort of a Noir/Pulp version of Dungeons and Dragons with a bit of C.C. Beck's and Al Capp's whimsy thrown in. Old Popeye Cartoons, The Newsboy Legion, The Wizard of Oz, The boxing stories of Robert E. Howard - all of those seemingly disparate influences can can be seen in this incredibly original world Trey has created. 

As one might expect, my involvement goes beyond simply typesetting the book and hopefully beginning next month, I will actually be able to play in a game with this new setting. The character I'm thinking of playing is going to be based on the classic Chinese Detective characters that were so popular back in the 30's and 40's. If you aren't familiar with the archetype, here are three classic examples that will give you some idea of what I mean. All of these characters found life in books first, but my primary experience with them has been the movies.

The first is Charlie Chan, and I've mentioned him several times in the past on this blog (as well as provided you with free comics with Inspector Chan in them.) While there were several different actors who have played the role of Chan, most people agree Sydney Toler best defines the character.

The next most famous detective in this group would have to be Peter Lorre's Mr. Moto. Whereas Chan seems unflappable and at times arrogant, Moto is quite the opposite. You can never be sure if he isn't just on the edge of losing it sometimes. Lorre makes us think that, yes, Moto is one step ahead of the game, but he isn't always quite sure where his feet are going to land.

The other character I would include here is Mr. Wong, as played by the original man of a thousand faces, Boris Karloff. Unlike the detective Chan or the Secret Agent Moto, Wong was merely a well cultured Oxford educated scholar who happened to find himself involved in criminal cases at times. Many have suggested that Wong's well cultured mannerisms were close to Karloff's own gentile habits. Karloff played Wong in 5 of the 6 Mr. Wong films, of which many are in public domain.

There may be more such detectives, but I am unaware of them. If you can think of more, please let me know! I will leave you with another free comic which you will find most appropriate.

btw - can anyone identify the artist on this cover? It sort of looks like Jack Kirby doesn't it?
Finally, today's title is part of a old joke. The other half is...but Fu Man Chu.

 - Jim


Sean Kleefeld said...

The cover first looked to me like a Simon/Kirby collaboration. According to the GCDB, it was Kirby pencils with Simon inks.

JimShelley said...

Thank you Sean! BTW - Thanks again with your help with my questions about!

Trey said...

Thanks for the plug, Jim. :)


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