Guest Post: THE SECRET STYLE GUIDE TO THE WORLD OF BRIMSTONE

Today we welcome Jason Ridler, author of the recently-released Hex-Rated and its forthcoming sequel Black Lotus Kiss, in a special guest post to discuss the many influences that inspired the Brimstone Files, a vividly-imagined supernatural detective series dripping in 1970s Los Angeles pop culture.

LA postcard

A postcard from LA, 1970.

 

THE SECRET STYLE GUIDE TO THE WORLD OF BRIMSTONE

HexRated_Mechanical cvr     jason ridler author photo

by Jason S. Ridler

Hey there all you heads and cases, Doc Ridler here with a PSA of the utmost importance. Want to know the secret ingredients that I used to make James Brimstone the coolest Private Dick in 1970s LA? Look no further. Behold the style guide to the Brimstone Files and his debut, Hex-Rated!

HAIR!

No, not the obnoxious musical your parents thought was dangerous. You can’t stop supernatural suckers with an average “do”. One needs an epic coiffure to stare down the darkness. Brimstone’s mad tangle of locks were inspired by a wide variety of icons, from the greasy days of Elvis to the many mullets of Kurt Russell. But you can see some of his sheen in a young ex-con, fresh out of San Quentin, by the name of Merle Haggard.

elvis fake mugshot

Elvis’s (fake) 1970 mugshot in Denver. Check out those sideburns…

kurt russell mullet

Mullet, bare chest, nude sculpture in the background. Brimstone would be pleased!

Young Merle

Young Merle Haggard. Great hair, great suit.

 

FASHION CRIMES!

Brimstone comes from a long line of handsome saps who are usually a day late and a dollar short, but mean well, work hard, and dress themselves as if by accident. Jim Rockford and Carl Kolchak paved the way with Goodwill attire and hearts of gold. Always trust a good man in a bad leisure suit.

Jim Rockford

Jim Rockford. Look how confident he is in his suit!

carl kolchak

Brimstone would definitely approve of Carl Kolchak’s suit’s color…

 

CAMP AND DARKNESS!

Pulp novels need a sense of fun in both action and dialog. But the 70s were an age of insanity and change (Vietnam, civil rights, drug casualties, cults, kidnappings and more). So, the Brimstone Files packs a combo deal. I loved the quick wit, two-fisted action and social attitude of ROUTE 66, but also the campy-ness of TV’s BATMAN that helped take the steam out of the harsh and horrific realities of the late 60s. Brimstone would rather laugh than punch, but sometimes real and supernatural horrors just ain’t that funny. So, he does both.

Route-66

James Brimstone would fit right in with the Route 66 guys.

Batman Shark

As campy as it gets–Adam West’s Batman vs. a Shark! (At least the Fonz just jumped them…)

 

BEAUTY!

The Brimstone Files include brilliant and beautiful ladies of different eras but in an utterly pulp world. So I studied my Simone de Beauvioir and Gloria Steinem as well as covers of old Vogue and Playboy magazines to try and capture an epoch of feminine beauty and strength. John Stanko’s amazing cover gal owes a lot to Jane Fonda’s style in the classic WALK ON THE WILDSIDE (fun fact: the novel was written by Nelson Algren, the lover of de Beauvoire!), plus a prophetic nod to the lurid adult film BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR (1972).

walk on the wild side

The stylistic influence is clear, right?

behind the green door poster

Try to ignore the fact that the poster misspells San Francisco…

 

FIGHT!

When I think of action in pulp, I can’t help but think of Jack Kirby, Gene Colan, and Jim Steranko. These titans of talent at Marvel Comics helped give us the kinda of larger-than-life action we saw with the Captain America, Dracula, and Nick Fury. When Brimstone gets in a fight, I can almost picture the combat in “Kirby perspective”, meaning that it JUMPS OFF THE PAGE AND INTO YOUR MUSH! Colan’s monsters and Steranko’s lean, mean, fighting machines also inspired the action in Hex-Rated to be big, fast, and dangerous.

Kirby-Cap

See what I mean about JUMPING OFF THE PAGE AND INTO YOUR MUSH?

gene colan dracula

Classic Gene Colan Dracula art. Love the severed hand on the ground…

Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #1 Wraparound Cover by Jim Steranko

Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #1 Cover, by Jim Steranko. Truly epic.

 

SOUND!

Brimstone is a Korean War vet who grew up with the big-band era of jazz, so he’s playfully out of touch with the youth of LA. While they’re mourning the death of Jimi Hendrix, he can’t get over the loss of Django Reinhardt. The streets are littered with Motown sweetness, heavy metal thunder, and the proto punk of the MC5 and the Stooges, who’s album Funhouse captures the psychedelic aspects of the surreal world Brimstone often walks.

RENDEZ-VOUS AVEC DJANGO REINHARDT

Django—every guitar player’s hero. And he did it all with two fingers that barely worked!

Marvin Gaye Billboard

Classic Marvin Gaye billboard on the Sunset Strip.

Black Sabbath

Hellfire (and Brimstone) comes naturally to these guys.

1676459-mc5-1969-617-409

MC5 at the height of their glory. That hair! Those glasses! The shirts open to the waist! What a time to be alive!

the_stooges_-_fun_house_-_front

Funhouse. It’s just as trippy as you’d think.

 

___________________________

So sure, there’s tons of literary influences, from Ed Wood’s novels, Hunter Thompsons’ best years as a journalist, Charles Wilford, Patricia Highsmith, Philip K. Dick, Jim Thompson, and modern masters of action driven characters in over the top stories like Joe Lansdale, Mamatas, Meg Abbot’s awesome historical thrillers, the late Tom Piccirili’s creepy short stories, Norm Partridge doing anything, and more! But these here are some of the “secret ingredients.”

BUY HEX-RATED TODAY and I may return to tell you more!