Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pulp Magnet: an Interview with Bobby Nash

Bobby Nash is a prolific professional writer of novels, comic books, short prose, novellas, graphic novels, screenplays, and a good bit of two-fisted pulp adventure as well. His comics include Yin Yang, I am Googol, Fantastix, Fuzzy Bunnies From Hell, the Lance Star: Sky Ranger one-shot, Moonstone's Domino Lady vs. the Mummy, Airship 27's All-Star Pulp Comics and more. His Novellas and short stories can be found in Green Hornet: Case Files, Moonstone's Domino Lady pulp anthology, A Fistful of Legends (Western Anthology), Sentinels (Alternate Visions), Pro Se Presents: Peculiar Adventures, the Ravenwood: Stepson of Mystery anthology from Airship 27, Startling Stories SciFi Pulp Magazine, and Airship 27's Lance Star: Sky Ranger series of pulp anthologies. Then there's his novels Evil Ways and Deadly Games, and his book of Comic Book Scripts...we're not sure if Mr. Nash ever sleeps...but he sure can write...

Pulp Magnet: What first got you interested in the Pulps?

Bobby Nash: I’d read a lot of pulp as a kid, although I didn’t know it was called pulp at the time. Conan, Doc Savage, and the like were fun reads that the library stocked. It wasn’t until Ron Fortier asked me to write a story for the book that became Lance Star: Sky Ranger that I really discovered this wealth of pulp characters I’d never heard of before. Domino Lady and Secret Agent X quickly became favorites.

PM: What are some of your favorite characters from the classic pulps or comics?

BN: It was Spiderman that got me into reading comic books, but it was the Fantastic Four that got me to stay. The FF, Spider-man, Captain America, Thor, Supergirl, the New Teen Titans, Justice League, and on and on. With the pulps, it was Domino Lady and Secret Agent X who became my favorites. Plus, of course, the guys I had a hand in creating like Lance Star: Sky Ranger and Rick Ruby, P.I. (coming soon).

PM: Do you have a favorite pulp or comics writer or artist?

BN: That could be a very long list and the favorite would change from week to week. Let’s just say that there are a lot of very talented writers and artists out there whose work I greatly enjoy.

PM: What would you say are the essential ingredients of a rollicking good pulp story?

BN: The question of “What is pulp?” is one that has been batted around a lot lately. I’ve heard, and been apart of, some rather lengthy and sometimes even spirited debates on the definition of pulp. Pulp is like art. You might not be able to explain it, but you’ll know it when you see it.

For me, when I write pulp there has to be a good deal of action, the pacing is fast, not a lot of sitting around discussing things, for instance. Just a simple, straightforward story that readers will hopefully want to read in one sitting.

PM: What makes a story really work as a comic? Is there some secret formula for doing comics like Lester Dent's Master Plot formula for the Pulps?

BN: Comic book scripts are as different as the number of writers who create them. There is no set method, but many scripts share a lot of similarities of design. As a writer, one of the important things I have to remember is flow. The story has to flow and also has to put forth the right amount of information for the artist. Plus, I try to make the script exciting for the artist so he or she is having fun working on it.

Here’s a script sample from the graphic novel, Yin Yang from Arcana Comics. You can still find it available on-line or at comic shops.

The panel descriptions let the artist know what is happening. Sometimes you give a lot of information and other times you don’t have to give as much and let the artist have some creative freedom. The trick is balancing it out.

I write the dialogue into the script so the artist can prepare for that as well and leave room in the pages. Sometimes we have to make changes, but this gives the artist the information he or she needs.

The finished piece is below. You can compare the finished page to the sample script.

PM: What is it about Lance Star: Sky Ranger that you find particularly appealing as a writer?

BN: Lance Star is a pilot-adventurer who gets into all kinds of cool and exciting adventures. That is just too cool not to get excited by when writing. With Lance Star we can pretty much go anywhere and tell a variety of pulpy tales.

PM: Could you give us some kind of overview of Lance Star's background? Who is Lance Star?

BN: Lance Star is the owner of Lance Star, Inc., an airline manufacturer and design company, and Star Field, an airfield. Lance’s exploits have made him and the Sky Rangers celebrities as they often appear in the newsreels and in newspapers and magazines. Lance is a skilled pilot who gets into all kinds of adventures, plus sometimes takes a special assignment from the government. Lance has also had some setbacks in his life. His father disappeared some years ago. Lance still does not know what happened to him. Skip Terrel, Lance’s friend and the younger brother of his girlfriend, Betty, was killed when Lance’s enemy, Baron Otto Von Blood, shot down their plane. Lance and the Sky Rangers still feel Skip’s loss.

Wherever there’s adventure you’ll probably find Lance Star: Sky Ranger there.

PM: Where do you see Lance Star going next or in the near future?

BN: I hope to see Lance Star and the Sky Rangers continue in the anthologies from Airship 27. We’ve already put together a writing team for volume four for 2012. Plus, I plan more comic book adventures as soon as I find the right artists to work on it. Plus, I do have a novel in process that I hope to finish by the end of the year so it can come out in 2012 as well. Beyond that, the sky’s the limit. Merchandising would be cool.

PM: What other New Pulp characters are you developing currently?

BN: Sean Taylor and I have created a few new pulp projects that we, along with other writers, are working on. One of those is The Ruby Files for airship 27. The Ruby Files is all about 1930’s pulp private detective Rick Ruby. This is a hardboiled pulp noir series. Volume one should be out early 2012 and a volume two is already in the works. We’ve also created a sci fi adventure pulp series called The Danger People for New Babel Books, also coming in 2012. Plus, we have a few others in development, but not to the point we can talk about them yet.

PM: What attracted you to Domino Lady? (Besides the obvious?)

BN: I liked the concept of a beautiful woman using not only her physical attributes against the bad guys, but also her brains. Domino Lady wrote these notes to the villains and told them what she was going to do to them. Then she did it, despite their foreknowledge and putting plans in place to stop her. I read the original six Domino Lady stories and they were great. I fell in love with the character almost immediately. She’s a joy to write and I was happy to return to the character for the Domino Lady vs. the Mummy comic coming in October from Moonstone.

PM: What was your experience like writing a Ravenwood: Step-Son of Mystery story for the Airship 27 anthology?

BN: Ravenwood was a character I was unfamiliar with before I wrote a story featuring him. Definitely a different type of pulp character, the original Ravenwood stories were lighter on action than its pulp predecessors. One of the requirements from the editor was to amp up the action, which I think all of the writers did extremely well. I liked playing with the supernatural elements of Ravenwood’s world. That was a lot of fun. There wasn’t really anything to dislike. I generally won’t take on a project if I actively dislike the character.

PM: Are there any New Pulp authors that have made a particular impression on you?

BN: The New Pulp Authors are magnificent. There are a lot of great stories being created in the pulp vein today and I’m happy to be involved with the New Pulp movement. I’ve also been fortunate enough to get to know some of the New Pulp writers and these are some truly fantastic people with a definite love of the pulps. They want to write stories that entertain and tell good tales. I’ll refrain from listing names because I know I’ll forget some folks and don’t want to do that.

When New Pulp started, most of the stories were focused on using existing characters, but there have been a lot of new characters come out in the past few years. A lot of good stories to read. The trouble is finding time to read them all.

PM: What is coming-up next for you? (Any special projects that you'd like to plug?)

BN: Coming in October is Moonstone’s Domino Lady vs. the Mummy one shot comic book that I co-wrote with Nancy Holder and art by Rock Baker and Jeff Austin. Also on deck are some anthologies that feature my work. Those include The Ruby Files vol. 1, Secret Agent X vol. 4, Zombies vs. Robots, The Danger People, Lance Star: Sky Ranger vol. 4, Tales From The Zero Hour vol. 4: Weird Tales, Green Hornet: Still At Large, and more. I’m also putting the finishing touches on a new novel, Deadly Games! and I hope to have news on a relaunch of my Evil Ways novel. Keep an eye on for more information and news.

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