Episode 2.1 ‘Undertow’-Never Bring your Demon to a Sword Fight

Whispers #10 Undertow
Art by Frank Utpatel


Originally published: Whispers #10, August 1977, edited by Stuart David Schiff

Awards: Nominated for 1979 Balrog for short fiction

I’m very excited to be starting off a new season of The Dark Crusade especially a season that is focused on Kane. This season I’m joined by comic writer Jonathan Gelatt. You can check out his webcomic Outrunners here. If you love Akira and The Warriors, you’re going to love his comic.

The connection between ‘Undertow’ and ‘Jane Brown’s Body’ is a strong one. I suggest checking out the original article by Deuce Richardson over here. ‘Jane Brown’s Body’ is a fairly short read and very fast paced. The author Cornell Woolrich led a very interesting life. For such an accomplished and adapted author, he was very reclusive. His aversion to going out caused a leg infection to worsen and resulted in an amputation. He even skipped the premiere of Truffaut’s adaptation of his own The Bride Wore Black in NYC. Upon his death, he left his literary estate to Columbia University which he had attended but never graduated from. Columbia was to use the funds to start a Journalism Scholarship in his mother’s name.

I built off of Richardson’s idea by putting forward the notion that the story Wagner wroteJourneyToTheUnknown_1.01 may be based more on the Journey to the Unknown episode than the Woolrich story. You’ll have to listen to the episode to understand why. Sadly, it’s speculation only and we will probably never know where the inspiration came from. We can, however, enjoy the wonderful opening sequence of Journey here. Reminds me a bit of Wagner’s opening to In the Pines. Coincidence?

Join us in two weeks when we cover Karl Edward Wagner’s adventuresome tale ‘Two Suns Setting’.

original music: F. N. York
Narrator & Kane: Alex Malcolm Mills
Dessylyn: Laura Maxfield
Mavrsal: Jordan Douglas Smith



7 thoughts on “Episode 2.1 ‘Undertow’-Never Bring your Demon to a Sword Fight”

  1. The cat meowing ambiance is funny and subtle…. and the discussion great. Sword & Sorcery and Horror folk will love this podcast. And folks can read along! Thanks for the intellectual discussion that Karl Wagner’s works deserve.


    1. Hi Wayne, thanks for listening to the show. I don’t want to confuse, I don’t think Wagner needed inspiration from another writer’s book! From what I can tell Wagner was both well read and brilliant. Not only did he write truly original horrifying stories, he also referenced other works (nod to Ramsey Campbell in Beyond any Measure, various local histories in .220 Swift) as well admittedly basing stories on what came before (Sticks from Coye’s tale and In the Pines based on the Oliver Onion’s story Beckoning Fair One.) Not all his references and nods are in plain sight and part of my enjoyment as a huge Wagner fan comes from closely examining the stories. For the instances where Wagner may use an outside reference, to me, it reads similar to the inspiration Holinshed had on the works of Shakespeare. Shakespeare may have been inspired by the basic plot elements for the Scottish play from Holinshed’s history but what he does with it is stunning, terrifying, beautiful, and truly his own work of art. That is the same way I feel about Karl Edward Wager and the instances that he may be inspired by the world around him. Thanks again for listening!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. OK, I see I misunderstood what you were saying. I’m a really big fan of his work. The man could tell a tale, and make it seem so real.


  2. I keep hearing Kane referred to as a “Barbarian Hero” in this show. I disagree with that term in relation to him. While he is a pulp hero. a mythic hero, perhaps even a “Miltonian” hero, he certainly isn’t a Barbarian. Also, I really like the readings from the book that you have produced. Really well done. Bravo! Would almost like to hear the cast do an audio-book of Night Winds.


    1. Thanks Morgan! I hope to be able to do more readings with multiple voices in the future. You are 100% right about the ‘Barbarian’ thing. We’ve fallen victim to the exact prejudice we’re fighting against regarding Wagner and his Fantasy work. We’ll need to start a money jar for our infractions!


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