God, this cover. Look at this nonsense! It’s like the artist couldn’t even be bothered to do the most basic research.
For starters, it doesn’t show Richard Blade naked. Where, I ask you, is the svelte, muscled ass that should be on full display? Or if not the ass, the well-shadowed groin hidden behind a strategically placed foreground object?!
If anyone involved in creating this nonsense had so much as skimmed the book, they would know that our hero is in the altogether with his wiener hanging out for much of the proceedings.
And then there is Blade’s female companion. Here again the artist has completely failed to calibrate the appropriate level of nudity. Virtually none of the women in this book are wearing clothing. This woman should, at the very least, be topless – how else would our hero be able describe her “superb breasts” which are “round and firm” and “crowned with rosy nipples” with sufficient detail? He wouldn’t, would he.
Almost everything about this cover is a complete failure. Okay, fair enough: they did include an angry monkey.
Let’s try an alternative illustration:
Ahh yes, that’s much better.
So: this is book #5 in the Richard Blade series – Liberator of Jedd! – pseudonymously penned by various scribes; in the case of this volume, our ink-stained guide is once again Manning Lee Stokes.
Picture the scene!
Our hero, Manning Lee Stokes, is seated at his desk in his tiny, windowless office. Time and tide have streaked his hair with silver and weathered his narrow, bony figure. He is lounging in his chair, a celebratory glass of scotch in his hand (he keeps a small flask in the lower left drawer). He is enjoying a moment of quiet celebration because he has churned out the manuscript for Slave of Sarma in record time – and it’s a rollicking good read, if he does say so himself. Not Great Art – god no! – but he fancies its one of his better efforts. This, despite the relentless demands of his editorial paymasters. He rises his glass in silent toast to the naked bulb of the lone lamp that hanging from its chain above his desk.
Without warning, the door slams open! A short, balding man reeking of cheap cigars bustles in. Stokes curses inwardly – can’t the man fucking knock? But when he speaks, his words are conciliatory. “Chief! I’ve just left the draft for the next Blade book on your secretary’s desk.”
“Great job Stokesie, tremendous stuff,” bellows the editor. “Another triumph for ‘Jeffrey Lord,’ right? Hahah! And loooots of steamy love scenes, eh?” The man leers and nudges him. Stokes hates the way the editor calls him ‘Stokesie’.
“Boss, I literally just finished it. You can’t possibly have read it,” he protests.
“I don’t have time to read these things, Stokes! And neither do you! Our public is hungry for more. Listen, there’s an opening at the printers Friday after next. Think you can have the next manuscript wrapped up by then?”
“What?!?” Stokes sputters, covering his editor’s face in a fine scotch mist. “Boss, I haven’t begun the next one. I don’t even know what -”
“Easy Stokesie,” wheezes the editor. “Don’t sweat it. Just do your usual thing. Here, I’ve thought up a title for you: Liberator of Jedd! Like that one, hey? That’s a freebie!”
“Where’s Jedd?” asks Stokes sourly.
“Who the fuck cares?” says the editor. “Somewhere where there are lots of buxom broads in loincloths, that’s where! Hey, I’ve got it – Richard Blade travels to prehistoric times.”
“Blade doesn’t time travel,” objects the writer.
“It’s some kind of prehistoric dimension or whatever, alright? This one has ape men and volcanoes and dinosaurs everywhere, not to mention blonde cavegirls with big bouncy knockers who don’t know what ‘clothes’ are.”
“Sure! Hell, maybe she’s a cro magnon broad – still got a little bit of ape in her. An animal in the sack, you know what I’m saying?!?” The editor chuckles unpleasantly.
“Gross,” says Stokes.
“Hey Stokesie, you’re the writer. Don’t let me tell you what to do. Have it on my desk by the 18th or you’re fired. Hahah! Do me proud on this one, son, and maybe we’ll talk about that advance you’ve been bugging me for.”
With these words, the editor bustles out of the tiny office, slamming the door behind him. Stokes sags in his chair. He pours the rest of his meager supply of scotch into his glass and downs it with a single swig. Then, sighing deeply, he stuffs a blank sheet of paper into the typewriter and hammers out the words LIBERATOR OF JEDD. For just a moment he stares at the blank page with an equally blank look. Then the hammers start to clack as he begins to type…
Aaaaaand – scene!
Okay, so the above is very much a work of fiction, but don’t let that diminish its essential plausibility for you. Slave of Sarma felt like a book where the writer was able to stretch his legs and have some fun. For all its problems (and they were many) it was a diverting read. Solid pulp stuff.
Liberator of Jedd, on the other hand, feels very much like it was banged out to meet an all-too-short deadline. It contains very little of Stokes’ trademark purple prose. There are sadly few quotable lines. The action is not particularly memorable.
Nevertheless, there is plenty of pulpy gold to be mined here! Let’s get started.
We start with the usual sort of non-excitement – J has accompanied Lord Leighton to a lecture seminar put on by leading brain researchers. Thrilling stuff!
J is distracted, though. He is worried about only one brain – Richard Blade’s. J feels as though all these trips through the computer into Dimension X have caused personality changes in Blade. He thinks that the stress is taking its toll on him.
During Lord L’s lecture, J becomes suspicious that his Lordship intends to experiment on Blade’s brain. Afterwards they get into an argument about this. Lord L is all, “for science!” Although he has no particular designs on Blade’s brain at the moment, he likes to leave his options open. J objects vehemently and vows to fight him at every step. At the end of the chapter, J wonders where Richard Blade is at this very moment.
Naturally, Blade is almost naked and thinking about his penis.
Continue reading “Richard Blade #5: Liberator of Jedd, Part 1”