Friday, May 15, 2015

Happy Birthday Manly Wade Wellman!

This coming Thursday is Manly Wade Wellman's birthday. To celebrate I'll be posting a full week's worth of monsters starting Monday.

Wellman's fiction is a blend of folk magic, adventure and horror. Most importantly though, it's really fun. His main recurring characters are the occult detectives Judge Persuivant and John Thunderstone. My favorite, however, is his character John the Balladeer or Silver John. He's a wandering singer that walks through the Appalachian mountains (armed with a guitar with silver strings) and does battle with supernatural monsters and evil men. Kind of like a rural folk A-Team but just one guy. In fact, Mike Mignola's Hellboy story The Crooked Man was largely influence by Silver John.

I usually do a mini-bio for these birthday posts but Wellman's life is too insane to summarize. However HE did it himself in this piece that appeared in Thrilling Wonder Tales:

"There have been Wellmans in Virginia back to 1660, and before that in Devonshire back to, say 660... modest gentlefolk all, but of poor judgment in battle, having graced the losing factions at Hastings, Otterburn, Bosworth Field, Princeton, Gettysburg...I was born in Portuguese West Africa, where my father was doing medical research...sketchily educated in London, Washington, Wichita, Salt Lake City New York...poor student, mediocre footballer...since graduation, have toiled as bookseller, bouncer, farm hand, house painter, reporter, and, finally, writer...other less savory employments I shall not mention...first appeared in Wonder in 1931 and hope to go on thirtyish, dark, untidy, married, and huge...probably the biggest, or second or third biggest, of all science fiction authors...

My home is the Watchung Mountains...and, in response to inquiries, that's my real name...if I were going to take a nom de plume, I'd call myself something successful, like Jules Verne or Edgar Rice Burroughs."

That's not all! Wellman also wrote for comics. Not just any comics but Captain Marvel and The Spirit! When DC sued Fawcett Publishers claiming that Captain Marvel was plagiarized from Superman, Wellman was instrumental in helping DC win.

Anyway, the monsters I'll be posting are all from John the Balladeer stories and were super fun to draw. Don't be surprised if more of his creatures work their way onto this blog.


  1. Thanks for spotlighting Manly. I moderated a panel about him and Karl Edward Wagner last weekend at World Horror Con in Atlanta. One of my favorite writers.

  2. Thanks Charles! Who was on the panel? I love KEW as well. I've actually only read The Old Gods Waken and Who Fears the Devil? by Wellman but I've got more in my to read pile

  3. The panel members were Tim Waggoner, Charles R. Rutledge, Cliff Biggers, James A. Moore, James R. Tuck, Brett Talley, and Leigh Perry. Jim Moore, Tim and Cliff knew Wagner and Cliff had met Manly several times. It was a great panel with much love and respect for MWW.