ORIGINS: LOGAN’S FATHER SPEAKS OUT . . . . . . . . . . . . .

A CONVERSATION WITH WILLIAM F. NOLAN, co-creator of the LOGAN’S RUN novel,  on the return of LOGAN’S RUN to comics and film, an update on some additional projects, and various other matters . . . . . . . . . .

(photos courtesy of Jason Brock at JaSunni Productions LLC)

          There’s nothing  unusual these days to hear of individuals who remain active well beyond their retirement years.  Still, these persons of note do not represent the majority of their age group (not yet, anyway)  so they deserve all the respect and admiration they receive.  I recently had a phone conversation with an 82-year old phenom who’s energy level absolutely surprised me. He gained even more respect after learning how active he remains while still finding time to stay healthy, eat well, exercise and balance his challenging physical and mental regimen.  Even more remarkable and admirable is the passion I heard in his voice when speaking of recent projects related to his  original character, Logan 6.

Nolan_Headshot_Bluewater_300dpi

          Bluewater Productions releases the first issue of LOGAN’S RUN: LAST DAY to comic shops on Wednesday  (January 27) and William F. Nolan is thrilled. He’s excited that this looks to be a treatment of his original subject matter finally worthy of the tone and themes set forth by Nolan and c0-writer George Clayton Johnson in their novel. 

          LOGAN”S RUN the novel (1967) centered around a future society in which a master computer managed the population and provided the amenities.  Part of maintaining equilibrium and ensuring there were enough resources available for survival meant that the population had to be controlled - - upon reaching the age of 21 an individual must submit to execution.  Anyone who chose to avoid the mandatory euthanasia of “Deep Sleep” on their “Last Day” became a “runner” , to be hunted down and terminated by “Sandmen”, the authority enforcers.

          LOGAN”S RUN the movie (1976) changed the age of “Last Day” to 30 and made various other changes and omissions from the original novel.  The movie depicted a colorful, seemingly carefree utopia - - - while the society in the novel was more dystopian and life was darker, as many of the managed systems were breaking down and failing.

          Nolan says that only about one-half of the novel was used in the movie.  “There are no domes (in the book) . . . . people lived in mile-high cities.”  The movie doesn’t explain why society lives in domes and the brief  text prologue that follows the credits referring to a post-apocalyptic society is vague and incomplete.  The book is also global whereas the movie takes place in just one American city.  “Sandmen are free to catch the runners wherever they hide on the whole planet.”

         The biggest change in the movie that bothered both Bill and George was the neglect of what Bill sees as the central core of the novel - -  “it’s a society of young people that is crumbling away.  Nothing works properly because there are no middle age or older citizens to balance society.”  Also, “there’s not much logic in the movie - - running around a shopping mall!” 

       The movie featured some very colorful costumes, and what seemed to this reviewer as almost choreographed, dance-like fight scenes.  Bill comments:  “Logan looked like he was running around in black pajamas!! What runner would fear for his or her life?” - - - “He needs body armor and a protective helmet.”  A Sandman “needs to look like death coming for you.”  Still, Bill retains a fondness for the movie and appreciates it for what it is - - a “pretty silly” but fun film.  He and George Clayton Johnson will be attending a special showing of the LOGAN’S RUN movie at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles in March, and speaking there about the book and film.

         “We want to show something nobody’s seen before in the comics series.”  Nolan has extreme confidence in writer Paul Salamoff’s intentions.  The series is planned for 24 issues.  Each six issue run will be a complete story arc, and make up one of four planned graphic novels.  Nolan and new writing partner Jason Brock will serve as co-editors of the series.

          Bill and Jason worked on the background and plot, costumes and design of the new LOGAN’S RUN: LAST DAY comic and provided an outline for writer Paul Salamoff to use in scripting the first six issues.  After Issue #6 of a planned 24-issue series, Salamoff takes over all plotting.  Bill Nolan expects the book to veer off sharply after the first story arc, and stated that Salamoff plans to utilize elements of the entire Logan trilogy. (Logan’s Run, Logan’s World and Logan’s Search).                          left to right :  Jason Brock, Paul Salamoff, William F. Nolan

          The new LOGAN”S RUN movie is currently in preliminary production at Warner Brothers studios with Joel Silver acting as producer.  The new version will move the date of Last Day back to the 21st birthday and return Crazy Horse Mountain (site of the monolithic computer that runs everything) and the Sky Gypsies.  “With new technology and special effects wizardry they can do so much more today,” explains an excited Bill.  Major filming is expected to occur in 2010 with 2011 reserved for further production and effects for a release sometime in 2012.  No actors have been cast yet.  Joel Kosinski (TRON) is expected to be the director.

          Tim Sexton is writing the screenplay.  Nolan doesn’t have a role in the new film so far but is hoping that he’ll be given that opportunity.  He’d love to be a consultant and would utilize the time on set to write another book - - a production journal of the making of the movie. 

         William F. Nolan was born in 1928 in Kansas City, Missouri.  While he is best known for co-authoring LOGAN”S RUN he has written numerous works of science fiction, dark fantasy, and horror.  He is the recipient of several awards, including the Edgar Allen Poe award from the Mystery Writers of America and holds the honorary title of Author Emeritus from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.  He also co-wrote the screenplay for BURNT OFFERINGS, a 1976 horror film with Bettie Davis and Karen Black.

     At last count he has 85 books to his credit of which 25 are anthologies.   He’s also written over 1,000 magazine articles and published over 55 short stories in various magazines.  His goal is to notch 100 books - -  about 10 to go if everything presently in the works becomes published.  He explains that “I try to write something every day”, which is part of the advice he would give to students during his time as a Creative Writer instructor at Central College in Bend, Oregon.

          Bill points to three major keys to obtaining success as a writer:

  1. “You have to have the talent first”, he states as he explains that if people tell you you’re a good writer and they enjoy reading your work, then that’s a good start.  “Everybody thinks that they can write, but it requires incredible discipline and knowledge.”
  2. “Read, read , read . . . . . everything.”  Bill says you need to study other writers in all genres, as well as fiction and non-fiction / biography.
  3. Write everyday, at least for one hour.

           “Less than 1% of American writers make their living from writing.”  Bill considers himself fortunate to be part of that one percent - - - for the last 50 years his full-time job has been as a writer. 

         When asked at what point in his life did he decide to pursue a writing career, he revealed that up until the age of 25 his major ambition was to be an artist.  He even had his own studio in San Diego and gained a local reputation for his mural work.  He studied at the Kansas City Art Institute in Missouri at the age of 19.  One of his first jobs was as an artist for Hallmark Cards, and he would also illustrate and write greeting cards.  He would dabble in writing at the same time.  At the age of 25 he wrote a short story and sold it to Playboy magazine, who paid $500.

          “Well, $500 for one hour’s work!”  seemed pretty lucrative to Bill, and it convinced him to quit doing art and become a writer.  He’d always been writing (since the age of 9) and confessed that he feels he’s a better writer than he is an artist.  He’s partially color-blind.

          Since the time of his second short story everything he’s ever written has been published.  I expressed astonishment at this statement, and exclaimed:  “What an accomplishment!! To never get a rejection slip !! That’s quite a record!”  Bill corrected me:  “Oh yeah.  I got rejection slips.  My objective was to send the work back out the same day the rejection slip is received.  Just keep pushing and keep going, and your work will find a market.”  He noted that even Ray Bradbury and Stephen King have received rejection slips, and he (Nolan) is no exception.

   Bill finally realized that he had “made it” as a writer at the age of 28, when he quit his Department of Employment work as a job counselor and went into writing full-time.  He’s also written 40 or more television treatments and screenplays for Hollywood.

left to right:  William F. Nolan,  Earl Hamner, Sunni Brock, George Clayton Johnson

         Someone who works this hard at writing must have an extensive library, and Bill has collected the complete works of 100 different authors.  His biggest influences are the works of Max Brand.  Bill has 1,200 books by and about Brand in his collection.  He admires the work of Ray Bradbury, and has been a personal friend for 60 years.  He loves Raymond Chandler and Dashiel Hammett, as well as the humor of James Thurber.  He also admires Norman Mailer, John Cheever and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

          His reading includes a youthful love for comic books, and Bill collected Superman, Batman, Captain America and The Human Torch.  Unfortunately he gave away or got rid of his huge comics collection at the ages of 12-14, and regrets that as much as anybody else who has tracked the skyrocketing market values of those books today.  He doesn’t read as many comics today as he used to, but still follows the Batman books.  He loves the new version of Batman - - it’s much more mature and written for adults.”

          I asked about previous comics adaptations of LOGAN’S RUN.  In addition to Marvel Comics, both Pacific Comics and Malibu Comics have adapted his works.  He was unhappy with Marvel’s series, as they changed the story in order to mirror and follow the events as depicted in the movie.  His favorite adaptation has been the Malibu Graphic Novels based on LOGAN’S RUN and LOGAN’S WORLD.   They were very faithful to the dialogue and scripts from the books, but suffered from “boring artwork.”  Bill loves the art style of Daniel Gete in the new LOGAN’S RUN: LAST DAY series.

          Bill even wrote comics for Whitman Books and has scripted many Mickey Mouse stories for them.    He will be returning to comics under his present contract with Bluewater Productions.

     One of his works planned to be adapted to comics is WILLIAM F. NOLAN’S DARK UNIVERSE, a hand-picked collection of 41 of his best “horror-shock-dark fantasy” short stories for which he received a World Fantasy Award.  This is planned as a six issue Bluewater series - - with one story per issue.   Jason Brock will be writing the adaptations for 3 of the stories.  Bill says to book mark  “Jason Brock” as a talent to watch for in the future.

        Another comic series planned for Bluewater is SAM SPACE, a joking tribute to Hammett’s classic gumshoe detective Sam Spade.  His character is still a private investigator with a snap brim fedora hat that he keeps under a bell jar on his desk (with a sign proclaiming “classic hat.”)  Asked if he would abandon the trench coat for a space suit with this series, Nolan replied yes to both:  “Below the waist, he (Sam Space) looks like Buck Rogers.”   Nolan received an Edgar Allan Poe award for SEVEN FOR SPACE, his collection of Sam Space novels and short stories.

          Forthcoming books include THE BLEEDING EDGE anthology of all original dark fantasy short stories co-edited by Nolan and Brock.  This will include a treatment of a never before published short story by former collaborator George Clayton Johnson based on an unused Twilight Zone television script.   Bill has two other planned collections: another anthology titled DARK DIMENSIONS and KINCAID: The Paranormal Casebook Collection, with Nolan’s stories about a supernatural investigator.

          He’s presently also working on a historical novel titled BUFFALO MAN, an early American west story about a settler who joins a tribe of Indians.   Also in progress is another Logan story, RUNNING WITH LOGAN, being co-written with Jason Brock.

        Asked how he is able to carry on in such an active fashion, Bill attributes this to his good health and habits:  “I never ever smoked, and have not eaten meat for 25 years - - so I’m avoiding the chemicals used in meat processing. “  He eats soy, vegetables, fruits and salads and does not drink caffeine.  He also takes vitamins and supplements.

          His daily routine includes walking one mile per day.  “Walking is better - - brisk walking.” he advocates.  “Don’t jog.  It breaks down the knees and ankles.  Just walk briskly.”  He works out with weights 30 minutes per day.  He also believes in exercising the “brain muscle” every day.  The rest he attributes to good genetics in his family.

         His advice to anyone is to find out after the age of 30 what supplements your body isn’t getting and add them to the diet.  He estimates that he spends between $10-20 extra per week for vitamins and finds it worthwhile.  Bill adds that “with the advances in stem cell research and anti-aging progress”  he expects people to be able to utilize the “scientific advances to live to 100 or longer.’

Bill Nolan currently resides in the Vancouver, Washington area.

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