Note from Doc Talos author/contest judge R. Paul Sardanas: Grace Ximenez is something of a celebrity in adventurous corners of the internet — she has, for the past ten years or so, run a highly successful adult fantasy/peril forum, which is filled not only with roleplayers, but writers, artists, and filmmakers. She has authored independent screenplays, short stories, and has been depicted in portraits by some of the greats of comic book art, including Esteban Maroto, Frank Brunner, Gene Colan, and Richard Sala. She is the inspiration for one of the key characters in the Talos Saga. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of the comics and pulp literature in general, bolstered by an immense personal library of periodicals, paperbacks, and original art. Her story for this contest is brief, moving, and like her character, Esperanza Vespa, clearly comes from a deep place of the heart.
Comment from author Grace Ximenez: While deciding on a story to tell, inspiration was all around me. The splendid authors already showcased in this contest have pulled the foundations of their tales from both pulp and classical literature of all kinds…and that place of creativity is the world I love best. I have one page from a Doc Savage magazine in my collection of original comic art: the final page from Marvel’s Doc Savage #7, a story called “The Mayan Mutations”. The artwork, by Val Mayerik and Tony DeZuniga, has no lettering on the original — the captions and dialogue are on a tissue-thin overlay sheet. Lifting that overlay allows me to see how truly talented both artists are. In it is a beautiful missionary named Vesper Hope…and I always thought that she epitomized the kind of woman Doc would be attracted to.
There was no romance in the story, but I kind of wished there was…one night between two very serious, very dedicated — even noble — people. I would have loved to make it a steamy erotic scene (and behind the scenes in my thoughts it is)! But it seemed right for these characters to make it quiet…a kind of dignified and thoughtful passion. I hope you enjoy it.
Additional note: If you are interested in submitting fiction to the Summer 2021 contest (first prize is a Bantam Doc Savage paperback Czar of Fear first edition, signed by James Bama) you can read the contest guidelines HERE.