Nicholas Diak, Fanbase Press Contributor

Nicholas Diak, Fanbase Press Contributor

The current cycle of sword-and-sandal films has been riding the wave of the success of Gladiator since 2000, and its end has been projected many times. In the introduction to his edited anthology Of Muscles and Men: Essays on the Sword & Sandal Film, scholar Michael G. Cornelius projected that these films, hereafter referred to as neo-peplum films, were already seeing a periodic decline in 2010/2011. After Gods of Egypt (2016) had performed poorly at the box office, Pamela McClintock of The Hollywood Reporter noted that other recent neo-peplum films such as The Legend of Hercules (2014) and Pompeii (2014) had also performed under expectations, thus also mimicking Cornelius’ thoughts that the cycle was in a rut.

For the past ten years, Classic Comics Press has been collecting and republishing American comic strips, many originating from newspapers from decades past. Their flagship line has been Leonard Starr’s Mary Perkins, On Stage, but the publisher has republished many other comic series as well, such as Stan Drake’s The Heart of Juliet Jones and Frank Godwin’s Rusty Riley, both that ran during the 1950s.

Almost eight decades after his passing, the influence of H.P. Lovecraft on contemporary speculative fiction remains profound. With many of his works in the public domain, other writers have sought to continue his legacy by either writing their own stories in a Lovecraftian vein, or by taking Lovecraft’s original source material and building on it with successor stories. Since the publishing barrier has been set extremely low due to the accessibility and affordability of self-publishing, a literary landscape has sprung up, saturated with Lovecraftian stories penned by both proficient writers and imitators. Almost any speculative writer can lay claim that they write in the Lovecraft fashion; hence, readers must be able to sift through the sea of stories of dubious merit to find interesting and competently written tales of cosmic horror.

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