about Norvell's Great-Niece, your Host

Roots Country and Blues artist Lonesome Liz was dubbed 'The Female Robert Johnson' by 'Southern Fried Magazine'; honoring both her sultry contralto and the Hellhound on her trail. Her performances are heavy with Southern Gothic undertones. A natural storyteller, her words shift to expose the seamy underbelly of the South, which she translates through a mystic veil of mojo; often drawing on history along with Hoodoo and other Folk traditions.

Her performances have included Drive-by Truckers artist Wes Freed, art revolutionary Molly Crabapple, Jesco the Dancing Outlaw and she's shared a stage with Timbuk III's Pat MacDonald, The Goddamn Gallows and the .357 String Band.

Featured in the upcoming Hasil Adkins documentary, 'My Blue Star' by Ron Thomas Smith, she has she has also appeared in and directed dozens of plays as well as in an award-winning independent film, 'Leon's Aspirations'. Also a playwright, she has written and produced adaptations of both 'Faust' and Sartre's 'No Exit'.

A multi-disciplinary artist, she is also a music and fine art journalist, published primarily in 'Outlaw Magazine', 'Fine Art Magazine' and GratefulWeb.net. She was the last writer to interview Mike Seeger before his death and her Levon Helm retrospective received praise from Bob Dylan himself.

She has also been tarot, astrology and mythology editor for BellaOnline.com and Suite101.com. Her writing and photography are featured in the best-selling 'Everything Ghost Hunting Guide'. She began writing in Chicago, when Slam was first emerging and her poetry as well as her lyrics have received praise from Beat Poets Charles Plymell and Robert Brannan.

Her strong, sultry voice and powerful lyrics are captivating. Though unquestionably feminine and alluring, she describes hangings, hauntings, reckonings and shoot-outs in a way that makes you think she was not only there but participated. One of Country's true Outlaw Women, Liz blasted the boundaries of Alt Country. However it's delivered, her sultry Southern vision takes you far from the expected. It's hard to resist the spell Lonesome Liz casts when her mojo's rising...

Submissions, Press, Etc: elizabeth.bissette@gmail.com

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Shroud of Thoughts: The Spider Turns 75 by Terry Canote

Page drew upon his own aforementioned Ken Carter series, from the magazine Ten Detective Aces, to provide The Spider with a whole new sort of opponent. Carter was a former professional juggler turned detective who fought menaces of an outre nature, such as criminals who use music to kill (Hell's Music) or who transform human beings into statues (Statues of Horror). In the hands of Norvell Page, then, The Spider faced such bizarre menaces ranging from giant robots (Satan's Murder Machines) to a madman who plans to gas and rob the whole city via Zeppelin (Prince of the Red Looters).

Norvell Page would not only make The Spider perhaps the most violent pulp hero of them all, but would also bring emotion to the hero that was rarely seen in other pulp heroes. Richard Wentworth sometimes felt considerable angst over his role as The Spider, worrying over what he had become. He and Nita were devoted to each other with an intensity unseen in other pulp magazines.

They would seriously consider marriage, only to realise that if The Spider was ever unmasked or killed it would make his wife a target for the criminal underworld. Despite this, Wentworth was compelled to fight crime. He simply could not give up fighting against criminals on behalf of the common man, even though he was often injured, beaten, betrayed, and even hounded by the city's police force.

Ultimately, Norvell Page made The Spider entirely his own character. While Steeger and Scott may have created the initial concept and other writers would pen novels for the magazine (including Emile C. Tepperman and Prentice Winchell), there really can't be much argument that The Spider as we know him is largely the creation of Norvell Page.

In the hands of Norvell Page and writers, such as Emile C. Tepperman, who worked much less frequently on the title, The Spider became one of the most successful pulp magazines of the Thirties. Its circulation was large enough that Page would eventually be paid $700 per novel. And The Spider was popular enough that he would be adapted into two movie serials.

The first was The Spider's Web, released in 1938. Warren Hull was cast as Richard Wentworth/The Spider. In the serial Wentworth battled the villainous Octopus, whose plot was to destroy the transportation system of the United States. The Spider's Web was successful enough to warrant a sequel, so that a second serial was released in 1941, The Spider Returns. Warren Hull returned once more as Richard Wentworth/The Spider. This time The Spider battled The Gargoyle, who threatened various national defence projects.

There may have been a Spider radio show as well. There was an ad for a radio show, airing on KMOX in St. Louis in The Spider August 1935. According to the ad, it was to air every Thursday at 6:30 Central Standard Time. Unfortunately, the radio show was never mentioned before or since in the pages of The Spider. Interestingly enough, it is possible that Lee Falk, creator of The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician, could have scripted the show--he was working as a writer at KMOX at the time.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no proof that the show ever aired. It could have been a project that died before it reached the air. At the moment it seems that only a search of St. Louis radio schedules from July and August of 1935 would show if there was ever actually a Spider radio show.

Despite the success of The Spider, it would not survive the Forties. World War II would bring paper shortages, which force pulp magazine publishers to make their titles shorter or cancel them entirely. Worse yet, pulp magazines had new competition from comic books, then in their Golden Age, who lured many young readers away from the pulps. It would be with the June, 1943 issue of The Spider that the title, which had always been monthly, would switch to a bi-monthly schedule. In only another three issues, The Spider would be cancelled. In its entirety, it had run for 118 issues.

While his magazine was cancelled, The Spider would not be forgotten. In 1964 Bantam began reprinting the Doc Savage novels to great success. It was in 1968 that Berkley Books followed suit with reprints of The Spider. Berkley would continue reprinting the novels from November 1969 to March 1970.

It was in 1975 that Pocket Books took the rather odd approach of recasting The Spider as a men's action hero of The Executioner type, rewriting both Death Reign of the Vampire King from The Spider, November, 1935 and three other titles as modern day, men's action novels. Fortunately, the project proved to be a colossal flop. It only lasted briefly in the early part of 1975,  producing a total of four novels.

In 1980 Dimedia would reprint the six of the original pulp novels, complete with the original Spider logo and graphics resembling those of Popular Publications. From 1991 to 1993, Carroll and Graf reprinted eight of the pulp novels. Although the reprints only lasted briefly, it was the Carroll and Graf reprints that would largely create modern day Spider fandom.

More recently, Bold Venture Press and Baen Books have both reprinted the original pulp novels, both companies featuring multiple novels in one book. In 2007 Moonstone Books published The Spider Chronicles, an anthology of stories featuring The Master of Men by such writers as John Jakes and Howard Hopkins.

It was in 1990 that Eclipse Comics adapted the novel Corpse Cargo as a three issue comic book miniseries. It was followed in 1992 by an adaptation of Reign of the Vampire King. The Spider would later appear in the 192 page anthology comic book Titanic Tales published in 1999.

In 2002, Vanguard Productions published Scavengers Of The Slaughtered Sacrifices, an original story featuring The Spider. In 2007 Moonstone Books would publish their comic book Holiday Super Spectacular with a story featuring The Spider. They plan an adaptation of The Devil's Paymaster from The Spider May, 1941 in the near future.

Although The Spider would only last for a little over ten years, it remains one of the best remembered of the pulp magazines. The Spider himself would have an influence on pop culture artefacts in the future. Its most immediate effect may have been upon the comic book character Batman, who resembles The Spider to a large degree. Both are multi-millionaires who fight crime. Both tend to be merciless towards criminals. And both were friends with the city's police commissioner.

The Spider may have influenced the classic Fleischer Superman cartoon The Mechanical  Monsters,which uses the same giant robot motif as Satan's Murder Machines. Later the film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow would use the same idea.

Among the tales of Spider-Man's creation told by Stan Lee is that The Spider was partially the inspiration for Spider-Man. Although not as famous as either Doc Savage or The Shadow. The Spider has had a lasting influence on pop culture that survives to this day. Indeed, seventy five years after his first appearance, The Spider's novels continue to be reprinted.

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