Writing Revisited: Enter, Howard R. Morton

“It’s always nice to meet a fan.”

So, I’ve actually been binging the actual Red Sonja comics lately, mostly so I can get a better sense of how to actually [note to self: look up more synonyms for ‘actual’…] turn Krimson Katja into a more intelligent, insightful homage/parody/whatever.

Given that Red Sonja started out as a Conan character, it’s not exactly shocking that the comics are more violent and mature than I’m really comfortable discussing in the context of all-ages Realmgard, suffice to say that I think I’m finally start to get the comics.

It took me a while to clue into the fact that the individual storylines don’t really connect to each other in an ongoing myth arc and they’re all basically standalone adventures pretty much just like the original Conan stories and the 70s Conan comics.

Getting back on track, I’ve mentioned that Red Sonja isn’t a Robert E. Howard character — the closest is Red Sonya of Rogatino from the story The Shadow of the Vulture, a story set in the real world during the 1529 Siege of Vienna. Sonya is a Ukrainian woman with a grudge against the Ottomans.

In fact, several of the recent runs of the comics that established or at least implied that Red Sonja will ultimately be reincarnated as Red Sonya — worth noting that the Hyborian Age is supposed to be our own Earth’s mythical past and reincarnation is established to be a thing in Howard’s wider corpus of works — even in his stories that are otherwise fairly mundane.

I decided to split the difference and make her a creation of Realmgard’s equivalent of Robert E. Howard — who is admittedly even a little bit of a self-portrait/parody…

So, anyway, here’s Amara and her literary idol Howard R. Morton. FYI: I’m thinking the R.’s gonna stand for, like, Rebecca…

“Pela,” Amara as she steps into the room. “You forgot your gloves at the Lyte’s tavern. I happened to be in the neighbourhood and —”

She stops mid-stride on the threshold of the Strahlends’ living room when she sees the Strahlends’ current esteemed guest.

“By the Powers!” she exclaims, balanced precariously on the edge of a swoon that would not be out of place in the latest volume of Happenings at Bridgewalltonshire Priory.

Pela surges to her feet and guides her friend to one of the couches.

“Here. Sit down, Amara,” Pela says. “And don’t forget to breathe.”

“By! The! Powers!” Amara repeats, gazing raptly at the man seated at the other end of the very same couch. “You’re Howard R. Morton! The Howard. R. Morton!”

She starts desperately fanning herself with her hand.

“ByThePowersByThePowersByThePowersByThePowersByThePowersByThePowers,” she gasps.

A tall, well-built man, Howard R. Morton fits poorly in a living and a house designed with Dwarves and Goblins in mind, though he bears his ill-suitedness to his environs with the quiet, unflinching stoicism and dignity befitting one of his epic literary heroes.

Pela looks over to him. “Amara’s a big fan, Mr. Morton,” she explains.

He nods. “I gathered that, yeah,” he mutters.

“I think she’s read all the Krimson Katja stories,” Pela says.

She glances over to her mother, who’s seated on the living room’s other couch.

“Oh, and she likes your stories, too, Mom,” she assures her mother.

“Would you like some tea, dear?” Eleonora asks Amara. “It will help calm your nerves.”

“Thank you,” Amara, her voice cracking as she reaches for the cup and saucer.

“It’s always nice to meet a fan,” Howard offers.

To be addressed so familiarly by her largest literary hero causes Amara’s eyes to go wide in reverential awe.

And to choke on her tea.

“Oh dear,” she mutters. “I am making a fool out of myself.”

“Take your time,” Howard tells her gently. “I was exactly the same way the first time I met Mrs. Eleonora.”

“And now look at us,” Eleonora interjects. “We’re tea buddies!”

The prospect of regularly having tea with Howard R. Morton use makes Amara’s eyes go even wider.

“Well,” he offers. “How about this. I’ll just ask a question, and you only have to nod or shake your head?”

Amara nods mutely.

“So, you’re a big Krimson Katja fan?”

Amara nods mutely.

“And you’ve read all my books?”

Amara nods mutely.

“Mr. Morton,” Amara asks timidly, having finally regained her wits to remember how to speak. “I have a question, if I may.”

“Go on,” Howard says.

“Why in the world is Krimson Katja always wearing nothing more than wrought iron undergarments?” she asks.

Howard nods knowingly.

“It’s always her armour,” he says, heaving a heavy sigh. “Actually, that’s my illustrator’s and my publisher’s fault, and not something I get much say in. Most of the Krimson Katja readers are men, and apparently it catches my readers’ attention to have her dressed — well, like that.”

“And is, by chance, your illustrator also a man?” Amara asks.

So, I follow a few Fantasy Art pages on Facebook. It quickly becomes apparent that most Fantasy artists are indeed men. And, like, it doesn’t really offended my sensibilities, but it does irk me that all these women are being designed (by men) wearing clothes that doesn’t make sense either as a means of protection or as logical clothing.

Like, seriously, guys. At least let her wear a decent pair of pants!

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License button.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


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