One thing that’s always been true is that The Pulp World is populated by men and women who know they must dream big and then take action if they want to do the impossible. A perfect example of this is artist, writer, web comic creator, blogger, actor, and seemingly indefatigable auteur Dave Flora.
I first encountered Flora’s work when he was posting his Doc Monster stories on DC comic’s now defunct web comic site Zuda. I was immediately struck with Flora’s vivid, atmospheric art and polished storytelling. It was instantly clear that his work was evocative of the best in pulp and genre culture. His art seems influenced by the sleek mid- 20th century clean line illustration, movie cinematography, and the sensation of 1950s movie posters which conjures a world where adventure, strange horror, terrible beauty, and fascinating characters were around every corner. Equally as important is Flora’s gift for character building and dialogue. His stories feature fully developed, believable characters as much as they are examples of Flora’s impressive artistic ability. It’s also necessary to note that he’s doing it all himself; penciling, painting, lettering, etc.: that’s all him.
Flora frequently sets his tales in recognizable historical periods such as the early to mid 20th Century. These milieus are done accurately and vividly, with just enough use of appropriate slang and pop culture references so as to affirm the setting without beating the reader over the head with it. This also allows the reader an imagined romantic backdrop to give the fantastic events more room to grow. But these are not dry showcases of technical brilliance. These stories are strange and wild and blistering with fun. For example:
Doc Monster with his Rip Kirby style and inhumanly calculating demeanor quickly became one of my favorites of the New Pulp characters. The title “Doc” implies his super-scientist hero pedigree, but he’s no hyper-trained do-gooder out to save the world, rather he’s a mysterious genius and monster hunter who is a bit of a monster himself. To counterpoint Doc’s strangeness he is teamed with a G-man handler who is, despite his training and wiseguy attitude, clearly over his head in Doc’s exotic world.
In true pulp fashion there’s a lot of big ideas happening in these stories. In one case Doc has to deal with gigantic flying saucers that somehow blast off through the very ground, and in another he must combat strange, armor plated Mothmen that are preying on 1950’s hot-rodders. Weird, wild and audacious, but Flora pulls it all off with panache by employing some truly smart storytelling and extraordinary artistic ability.
Then there’s the Ghost Zero stories of a masked vigilante set in a weird horror world. Once again these stories showcase Flora’s technical skill as author and artist. His characters are fully developed and realistic, while the visuals are truly stunning, looking as if they spring from some faded pulp magazine or black-and-white serial still.
With titles such as Escape from the Vigilante Crypt, The Fleshless Legion, and The Cast Iron Coffin Flora is burning with a hot Pulp flame. As much fun as this stuff is it’s also great to see him stretching his styles to illustrate such seminal horror works such as Varney the Vampire. Truly grotesque and atmospheric. And to keep the pulp flag flying even higher he’s done renditions of the pulp hero The Spider and a movie teaser mash-up of Indiana Jones and The Shadow and many others. Do yourself a favor and check out his work at his Deviantart gallery.
And while you’re at it, I’d be doing you an injustice, dear reader, if I didn’t point out that his work is available for sale at Comicartfans.com and at Indyplanet.com. Think about having these amazing pieces in your home, at the same time you’re helping to support a hard working pulp creator. That’s the way to build a Pulp World.
What’s striking about all of these works is that clearly Flora puts a lot of thought into their execution. Regular visits to this blogspot will give you access to his essays on his craft and life as working artist. Also you’ll get a view into his skills outside of the genre as posts examples of his portraiture and other more traditional styles of fine art. An impressive amount of work from someone who, according to his blog, has a wife, a day job, and acts in his area theater. Clearly Flora is doing this because he loves it. When you feed that kind of work ethic and passion into something you’re bound to feel the special crackle of energy that has always signified pulp at its best.
Doc Monster and Ghost Zero copyright Dave Flora. All images copyright Dave Flora. Used with permission.