Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Trouble With Nipples

Last week I reached that moment of facing the dilemma all commercial artists must face (or even fine artists if they wish to market their work). How to deal with female nipples in our Neo-Puritanical culture?
This is a real problem for me, as I have already had my artwork censored by a certain social media website for showing “excessive skin.” Nipples? Not a chance.

It's easy to say “don't compromise,” but the realities of living in a commercial culture are very real if one wishes to take part in it. So, when it came to dealing visually with Dejah Thoris, whom Edgar Rice Burroughs describes as being unclothing except for ornamentation, I had a big decision to make.
Other artists in the past created nipple or breast ornaments, some quite elaborate, and some seemingly held up with nothing but the anti-gravity technology used for the Martian airships! Others have that area strategically covered by hair, others have simply thrown in the towel (or more accurately, used them to cover nipples), been inaccurate and given her clothing. For this early sketch shown at right, I created concentric cups reminiscent of belly dancer ornaments.
After a rather prurient picture of Dejah Thoris appeared on the excellent For the Love of All Things Edgar Rice Burroughs Facebook page, a lively debate ensued regarding how Dejah Thoris should be accoutered, and how an artist can deal with this very real problem. My thanks to all the ERB fans on that page. I found their feedback on this issue and the first couple of Dejah Thoris drawings that I have revealed for the upcoming book, to be invaluable.
From the research done by the fine folks on that site, it seems that Burroughs envisaged Dejah Thoris to be wearing some kind of jeweled harness that would drape down and cover part of breasts. So, that will be one of my solutions. The other is too have her very long hair covering her nipple area when she is not dressed in the harness.
And that is another decision I have made. I plan on showing her in variations of outfits. After all, she is a princess and I'm sure she had more than one costume! And my approach to having Dejah Thoris be the focus of this edition means that you may even see pictures of her that go beyond the scenes in the book. I don't mean that I will show her doing things she wouldn't do. I simply mean, I might show her bathing or sleeping or doing any number of things that would be a good opportunity to portray her incomparable beauty.
And along those lines, I have made great progress by discovering a beautiful model to use as my visual inspiration for Dejah Thoris. She's young, gorgeous, built, with strong features but a playful, almost slightly elfin, girlish look to her. With the adjustments of my artistic imagination, she will be perfect for the part. And trust me, I have quite an artistic imagination. After all, I will probably be posing as John Carter!

Robert Zoltan

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Strand: Full Dramatization Audio Scifi Thriller Coming April 30th

Episode 5 of Literary Wonder & Adventure Show returns on Sunday, April 30th, with a Special Presentation: The Gripping Romantic Retro-Science Fiction Audio Thriller...THE STRAND!
Teaser Trailer:
Show Link:

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Robert Zoltan
(And Edgar the Raven)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Why A Princess of Mars? (Making of A Princess of Mars, WEEK 1)

Why A Princess of Mars?

Why create a uniquely designed, fully illustrated version of Edgar Rice Burroughs' famous classic? Because it has never been done before! In the 1970’s, Frank Frazetta’s masterful cover work, accompanied by a handful of small ink illustrations, brought the Martian series to life for a new generation of Bookclub readers. Many artists—before and after Frazetta—have created their own version of Burroughs' Mars, including recent comic book adaptations, but no one has created a total vision for the book, A Princess of Mars, itself. That is exactly what I am doing.
I wish I could claim that the idea came to me while standing outside at night on my terrace, looking up at the starry sky with my arms outstretched to the red planet. But in reality, I was distractedly watching a soccer game while trying to come up with a major project that would represent the standards of excellence for which Dream Tower Media stands. I had loved the Mars novels since first reading them about twenty years ago, and illustrating scenes or characters from the book had crossed my mind. But that night, three reasons inspired me to move forward. Firstly, A Princess of Mars is a fantastic fantasy adventure with a strange picturesque setting and a beautiful exotic princess, ideal subject matter for an illustrator. Secondly, the book is in public domain, which removes a number of obvious obstacles. Thirdly, Edgar Rice Burroughs authority, Ryan Harvey, had recently been a guest on my Literary Wonder & Adventure Show. Our discussion had further fanned the flame of my love for those books.
Despite the work that would be involved in such an undertaking, it was an easy decision to make. Soon after, I contacted Ryan about doing an extended introduction to the book. He was excited about the idea, and I’m very excited to read what he’ll have to say.
So what can you expect from Zoltan's Dream Tower Media edition of A Princess of Mars?
Exotic lush romance, mystery, and playful humor.
When I re-read A Princess of Mars as research for the creation of this new edition, what struck me most was how incredibly romantic it was. It was romantic, not only in a big sense of the word, Romance, as in sweeping poetic atmosphere and scope, but also romantic in the more common usage of a powerful attraction turning to devotion turning to deep love, between John Carter and Dejah Thoris. I'm not ashamed to say that I actually found myself getting choked up during a scene between the two lovers. If one can’t get choked up about true love, what can one get choked up about?
The mystery of the ancient ruins on Mars, and the wonderful strangeness of everything in John Carter's eyes also seemed an essential part of the book. Finally, I was rather surprised at the moments of humor and tenderness that I had forgotten, such as John's relationship with Woola, his unorthodox approach to thoat training, and the little misunderstandings that happen between John and Dejah. I remember no artist representing these delightful moments.
So, The Princess of Mars you will be seeing from me will emphasize the romance, the exotic setting, the wonder, the mystery, some heart-warming humor, and most of all, Dejah Thoris, the way Burroughs really described her. Dejah Thoris, not John Carter, will be the main focus of this book, because that is the book's title, A Princess of Mars. And, Dejah Thoris is also the focus of John Carter! Would John Carter want to see page after page of himself in battle scenes? Not the humble gentleman from Virginia! He would want to see his princess, and so he shall, and so you shall!
I believe the sensual style of my work lends itself especially well to A Princess of Mars. And my dislike of gratuitous violence and gore (and Burroughs never distracts the reader with unnecessary descriptions of gore, which in truth, few people would even notice while fighting for their life), whether in literature, art or cinema, matches perfectly the aesthetic, and one could say even the mission of Dream Tower Media. For I believe there is too much that is grim and nihilistic, in our culture, and specifically in our literature. I long for a renaissance of storytelling, where wonder, adventure, mystery, and romance are the focus. I long for more stories that celebrate the mystery and wonder of existence, and the joy of life, stories that may present dangerous or even dire situations, but inspire in the end. For that is what the golden age of fantasy and science fiction created. Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser saga, Jack Vance's Dying Earth series, Bester’s The Stars My Destination, Frank Herbert’s Dune, Cordwainer Smith’s tales of The Instrumentality, the work of C. L. Moore, even many of Robert E. Howard's Conan stories (which had a lust for life and a noble virtue, and which seem like PG-13 movies compared to some of what I read now) inspired with a sense of wonder and heroics that made one glad to be alive. A Princess of Mars is one of the early prototypes of that grand era.
And so, I hope when you eventually read this new edition, and enjoy the seamless blending of wonderful story, elegant design, and beautiful illustrations, you will escape to a place that is real in the heart of every human being who has the commitment and courage to make that journey. In this case, it is Burroughs' Mars. And whether you are visiting Barsoom (the Martian word for Mars) for the first time, or going back to a favorite place that will appear new and fresh to you, I hope this new edition will open for you a literary pathway to bliss. For beyond fear and despair, the ineffable mystery and joy of life is waiting for each of us. Come this December, may you find it amplified by your visit to Barsoom through Dream Tower Media and Zoltan's special edition of Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars.

Robert Zoltan
April 17, 2017

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Dream Tower Press Creates New Deluxe Edition of The Princess of Mars

Dream Tower Press Announces the Upcoming Release of a Uniquely Designed, Fully Illustrated Book Edition of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Classic

Dream Tower Media, creator of the critically-acclaimed Literary Wonder & Adventure Show, announces a Fantastic Publishing Event:
The First Novel-Length Book Release from Dream Tower Press!

Coming December of 2017, Dream Tower Press will unveil
a Unique Vision of the Classic, Groundbreaking, Interplanetary Romance
by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The Deluxe, Elegantly Designed, Lavishly Illustrated…


Beautifully Designed and Illustrated by Zoltan.

With a Special Introduction by Edgar Rice Burroughs Authority,
Writers of the Future Award Winner and Black Gate Magazine Contributor,
Ryan Harvey.

View the Announcement Trailer here:

President and Owner of Dream Tower Media, Robert Szeles, says:
“This edition, fully illustrated and created with a cohesive sense of
design and imagery, will be unlike any version of A Princess of Mars
previously published. For those who have read the novel before, this will
be a highly desired collector’s edition and a new way to once again visit the Red Planet.
For those reading the book for the first time, this will be a unique
and wonderful introduction to this fantastic science fantasy adventure.”

Available December 2017 from Dream Tower Press. For more information,
sign up for the Dream Tower Media mailing list at, follow the creation of the book at or email info(at) To hear the critically-acclaimed Literary Wonder & Adventure Show, Episode 2, about Edgar Rice Burroughs and featuring Ryan Harvey, go to

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Beyond Our Control

Writer Aliette de Bodard recently posted on Uncanny Magazine about stories focusing too much on characters having or gaining agency (control). I believe strongly in what she's saying. In my stories, the characters seldom achieve their goals because they are in control or because they learn to gain control. In fact, it's often the opposite: they learn to relinquish control to something beyond them, such as chance, synchronicity, often a mysterious power about which they have little understanding. Aliette mentions that there are some things we don't have control of in life. That's very understated. We are in control of very little, apart from our perceptions and reactions and small actions. Aikido and surfing are two great examples of human skills that work with power that is far greater than us and would otherwise defeat us.

If you're interested in a story where the characters face powers beyond them and still somehow come out of it with a whole skin (and sometimes a bit more), try The Blue Lamp from Rogues of Merth: The Adventures of Dareon and Blue. I have many more stories—heroic fantasy, contemporary fantasy and literary—that have the same theme. They will all be published in due time. For now, enjoy The Blue Lamp!

The Blue Lamp Audio Adventure:

The Blue Lamp Ebook:

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Literary Wonder & Adventure Show 4: Robert E. Howard, Master of Sword & Sorcery: A Conversation with Author Howard Andrew Jones

Episode 4 is now available!

It's spring cleaning time in the Dream Tower as Robert and Edgar travel to the Hyborian Age for a lively chat with author Howard Andrew Jones! Robert and Howard discuss Robert E. Howard, Conan, childhood, heroes, cynicism, creativity and the lure of lost civilizations. Plus, Robert and Edgar get a couple of vaguely familiar visitors. WARNING: Nihilists will hate this one. Pour a goblet of your favorite libation, sharpen your sword, and sit back for another rousing, amusing, and inspiring hour (or more) of Literary Wonder & Adventure! Oh, I almost forgot: the world premiere of "On the Battlefield" (the Robert E. Howard Rap) by the Beastmaster Boys! SHEESH, what more could you want?!
Teaser Trailer:
Show Link:

And don't forget to sign up for the Dream Tower Media newsletter to stay informed of all the fantastic stuff and receive inside news and special free content!


Robert Zoltan
(And Edgar the Raven)