Friday, September 30, 2011

UNDERCOVER REVIEWS: Black Panther: The Man Without Fear

A lot has been written about historical fiction author David Liss and his recent turn to pulp in Mystery Men from Marvel Comics. While that book was great (and will certainly get a review in a future edition of this column), the focus today falls on his other great new pulp book.

I’m talking, of course, about Black Panther: The Man Without Fear.

For the past several years, Marvel’s premiere African hero has been presented as a noble African king and a great technologist. He beat up Captain America and showed that he could take on anyone in the Marvel Universe.

Now things have changed. Banished from his own kingdom, without his panther powers or his high tech weapons, T’Challa agrees to take Daredevil’s place as defender of Hell’s Kitchen, New York. With only a slightly tweaked costume, he sets out to do his duty and prove his worth to himself.

While he establishes a new secret identity as the head of a small diner, he comes into conflict with the criminal now ruling over the area. Vlad “the Impaler” Dinu not only controls his  territory with an iron fist, but he also has the power to generate energy and throw it as deadly javelins.

The first arc is all about Panther rediscovering his powers and learning how to work as a vigilante hero in New York. The six chapters of the story move at a frenetic pace as T’Challa goes from a typical street vigilante to a master strategist working to fight crime in his city.

The conflict ultimately draws in the Panther’s friends, allies and all of Dinu’s extended family, which all boils down to a brutal confrontation between the hero and his new foe.

The story is perfectly paced pulp, even with the few random Marvel hero cameos thrown in. Artist Francesco Francavilla may be the quintessential pulp comic artist, as he regularly shows his pulp influences both inside Black Panther’s pages and on his art blog, aptly named Pulp Sunday.

Black Panther: The Man Without Fear is the perfect title for anyone that likes their pulp characters melded with the superhuman. The first trade collection, “Urban Jungle” collects the Panther’s full battle with Vlad. It’s well worth a purchase. Recommended.

Review by Nick Ahlhelm

PRO SE PRODUCTIONS-PUTTIN' THE MONTHLY BACK INTO PULP!


PRO SE PRESS KICKS OFF SECOND PUBLISHING YEAR!!!

PRO SE PRESS KICKS OFF SECOND PUBLISHING YEAR 
WITH NEW IMPRINT AND TWO NEW BOOKS!


Pro Se Productions, a New Pulp Publisher debuted its first title in August, 2010.  Entering its second year of Publishing after publishing an average of one book a month in its first, Pro Se shows no signs of slowing down with two new titles and the premiere of its first in house imprint all this month!

New Pulp Author Barry Reese, creator of the well known 'ROOK' series, works his storytelling magic once more with a whole new cast of characters! THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY is Reese's entry into Pro Se's The Sovereign City Project, showcasing a hero whose own life is a mystery to himself. On the road to discovering his own secrets Gray and his Assistance Unlimited team encounter weirdness, madness, and defend society from the evil that flows in the streets of Sovereign City and beyond! Come along for the ride for this new Barry Reese adventure, seven stories of mystery, action, and adventure that make up the first collection in The Sovereign City Project!  Thrill to THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY!

"There's a lot," Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, "that goes into any concept, especially a shared universe such as the Sovereign City Project is going to be.  Barry being a part of this and actually laying the cornerstone of the whole world with THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY is not only a tremendous start, but its also the birth of another New Pulp Classic from Barry.  The characters, good and bad, jump off the page and the action moves at a breakneck speed, but there's also this eerie disturbing undercurrent that puts a different spin on classic Pulp tropes.  This is one of Barry's best works to date."  Reese's work is amplified by the fantastic cover art provided by Anthony Castrillo and the stylistic interior images  by George Sellas.

One of the most prolific writers in New Pulp, Reese has dozens and dozens of characters, adventures, and worlds that he has written or intends to write about, a wealth of ideas with plenty of room for more, both more stories and more people to write them.   "There are at least five books," Hancock stated, "in the Pro Se Publishing pipeline that are either written by Barry or based on the cyclone of ideas whirling about in his head.  Barry's also ready to see what others can do with some of his visions.  That combined with the general growth of Pro Se and the fact we intend to be an even bigger force in New Pulp in our second year made this next announcement an easy decision.  Pro Se is privileged to reveal its first in house imprint, Reese Unlimited!"

Reese Unlimited, an imprint centered around both the written work of as well as concepts created by Reese that may be written by others, debuts with THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY.  Already known for tales of action, adventure, fantastic characterization, and compelling storylines, Barry will bring his imagination and editing skills to bear as well with Reese Unlimited, acting as Imprint Editor and essentially being the creative force behind the entire endeavor.   This imprint will be the home of future Lazarus Gray adventures, as well as the upcoming Rook Trilogy written by Tommy Hancock and any other ideas from the fertile mind of Barry Reese.

Pro Se continues its one-two punch launching its second year in print with the debut novel from author Chuck Miller.  CREEPING DAWN: THE RISE OF THE BLACK CENTIPEDE centers on the aforementioned Centipede, Miller's pivotal character in a mad, wild world of magic, mystery, murder, and almost more mayhem than it has historical guest stars.  His dark origins tied to Lizzie Borden, The Black Centipede is a mysterious individual who has no life other than that of masked avenger, vigilante, and consort of weirdness.  

"This," Hancock reported, "is not just a novel.  Chuck has breathed every bit of himself into the creation of not simply this book or this character, but the insane universe that the Centipede -populates isn't a strong enough world.  He is the axis that the lunacy of everyone around him turns on and in response he's a valiant hero at some turns, a madman at others, and even the deus ex machina at times.  CREEPING DAWN is an introductory ticket to one of the wildest rides New Pulp has ever seen!

CREEPING DAWN is a fast paced New Pulp mash up of noir, masked vigilantes, historical fiction, and more mystery and suspense than a centipede has legs.  With evocative cover art by David L. Russell and interiors by Peter Cooper, CREEPING DAWN: RISE OF THE BLACK CENTIPEDE by Chuck Miller is one experience not to be missed!


Both books display the fantastic Format and Design work of Pro Se's Design master, Sean Ali.

Pro Se is thankful for the success thus far of its books and magazines and to all the supporters and fans that caused said success.  "That," Hancock said, "is why Pro Se wants to make sure our second year kicks off in a way that our readers will enjoy, giving them a double dose of the New Pulp quality they expect from Pro Se.  And that's not the only way we're saying thanks.  Things to come this year from Pro Se will blow you all away and its all our way of saying Thank You to those who support New Pulp and Pro Se."



Available now at https://www.createspace.com/3693399 and soon at www.Amazon.com!
THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY
By Barry Reese
Cover by Anthony Castrillo
Interiors by George Sellas
A Reese Unlimited Book
Published by Pro Se Press
List Price: $12.00
6" x 9"
250 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1466358348
 

Available Now at https://www.createspace.com/3689977 and soon at www.Amazon.com
CREEPING DAWN: THE RISE OF THE BLACK CENTIPEDE
By Chuck Miller
Cover by David Russell
Interiors by Peter Cooper
Published by Pro Se Press
List Price: $12.00
6" x 9"  
196 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1466338135 
 FOR MORE PRO SE -WWW.PULPMACHINE.BLOGSPOT.COM

Pro Se Productions
Fuller Bumpers, CEO
Tommy Hancock, EIC
proseproductions@earthlink.net


Thursday, September 29, 2011

UNDERCOVER REVIEWS - Strange God of the Dire Planet

Joel Jenkins
Pulp Work Press
263 pages

Writer Joel Jenkins is one of the most prolific, exciting and talented members of the New Pulp movement today. Through his association with Pulp Work Press, an outfit he started with fellow writers Joshua Reynolds and Derrick Ferguson, Jenkins has produced some of the most amazing, fast-paced pulp adventures ever to hit print. The originator of several series in various traditional genres, STRANGE GODS OF THE DIRE PLANET, is the fifth book in this homage to Edgar Rice Burrough’s classic Martian books.

Having not read the previous four, I really appreciated Jenkins’ understanding that new readers would need a little extra background exposition to bring them up to speed on where the action was taking place and who all these characters were; while at the same time moving the story along at a breakneck pace to satisfy those fans who had been along for the ride from the beginning. That he accomplishes this wonderfully is no small achievement and a big reason I enjoyed the book so much.

Here’s what any new reader will learn upon entering Garvey Dire’s world. Dire is a modern NASA astronaut who, by some cosmic snafu, had his space craft hurled through an anomaly that sent him back in time millions of years to a Mars inhabited by humans like himself and all manner of beasts and fauna. Realizing this is a one way trip; Dire accepts his fate and sets about making a new life for himself amongst the female dominated tribes of the giant red planet. Jenkins has created a truly exotic social background that is fascinating with paying scrupulous attention to what each of these customs means to the entire culture he has created.

On Dire’s Mars, men are in short supply so they are protected and treasured and it is the abundant female sex that handles the affairs of state, commerce and warfare. Obviously this is a different world than Dire is comfortable with, especially when adapting he realizes he must accept polygamy and marry several women to assume an active role in this society. Like Burrough’s books, Jenkins’ Martian civilization is crumpling and the population struggling daily against both the forces of nature and time to survive.

The crux of this fifth volume centers about a long kept secret of an occult group of fanatics known as the Technopriests and Dire and his allies attempt to uncover it. There is bloodshed galore, non-stop action and great heroic characters battling against truly beautifully crafted background. It also ends on one of the most dramatic cliffhangers this reader has ever encountered. Over the many years since Burroughs created his interplanetary pulp classics there have been dozens of imitators who have attempted to recapture the magic he wielded but none has ever come as close as Jenkins with the Dire Planet books. These books are rock!

REVIEW by Ron Fortier

Pulp Magnet: Red Panda



Entering its seventh season, The Red Panda has been featured in over seventy audio adventures at Decoder Ring Theatre. Just like the old time radio shows that gave us The Shadow, Gregg Taylor and his stalwart band of actors from the Decoder Ring Theatre troupe have taken the brave new world of podcasting by storm in order to create a second golden age of truly original radio-style adventure, suspense, thrills and chills. A global phenomenon, The Red Panda's already award-winning on-air adventures have surpassed over a million downloads and he is branching out into a series of pulp novels that are steadily growing in popularity and winning awards –for example Tales of the Red Panda: The Android Assassins won Best Book and Best Cover Art in the 2011 Pulp Ark Awards.

The Red Panda is a masked-man of mystery stalking the city streets of 1930's Toronto dispensing two-fisted justice to all the two-bit hoodlums, cunning underworld kingpins and insidious super-villains who dare to cross his path. Armed with eerie hypnotic powers and a distinctive red domino mask, the Red Panda is accompanied by his faithful driver and crime-fighting apprentice Kit Baxter – the Flying Squirrel. Together the Terrific Twosome of Toronto solve what might otherwise have been perfect crimes or impossible mysteries, foil the evil schemes of dastardly megalomaniacs, and carry on the fight for Truth, Justice and all that is good in this world. They are superheroes in the style of the best of the golden age comics, radio shows and pulps. Much like The Green Hornet, the Sandman (DC's Wesley Dodds) or the Phantom Detective, the Red Panda is a millionaire playboy in a mask, with a bunch of advanced gadgets and nifty gizmos, who pits his superior detective skills and wits against adversaries that run the gamut from a sultry and superfast jewel thief known as the Jackrabbit, to maniacal criminal masterminds like the Golden Claw, to mad scientists such as Professor Zombie.


Each week the never-ending battle against crime and corruption continues with a brand new pulp adventure. The Red Panda's on-air escapades are an engaging combination of mystery, suspense and screwball comedy with a healthy dose of action and adventure thrown in for good measure. The snappy, rapid-fire dialogue rolls along at high speed and the banter between The Red Panda and his partner The Flying Squirrel flows seamlessly like William Powell and Myrna Loy at their best -- Dashiell Hammett himself would very likely approve.

Wisecracking and affectionate, happy and well adjusted, the Red Panda isn't the typical brooding billionaire with issues that has become something of a standard background for crime-fighters who have an underground lair and carry around lots of cool super-scientific gadgets. Kit Baxter – The Flying Squirrel – is a fearless and skilled martial artist who can kick butt and hold her own in a fight and at times she seems to be the real brains of the team. The relationship between the Red Panda and Kit Baxter is constantly developing and deepening and the underlying sexual tension is reminiscent of Remington Steel, Moonlighting or the early run of the X-files at times – but more fun and playful.


The Red Panda has a sense of humor. It's not all blood and fisticuffs, maniacal laughs and morbid monologues. The mysteries are well thought out and full of clues and red herrings both, the adventures are interesting and even when the plot line isn't necessarily groundbreaking it is all done with a fresh twist, a knowing smile and a conspiratorial wink.

The Red Panda is just good old fashioned fun.

The audio adventures of the Red Panda (as well as Black Jack Justice, a hardboiled P.I. Whose old-school mysteries alternate with the Red Panda's pulp-adventures) can be enjoyed for free at the Decoder Ring Theatre web-site. All seven seasons and 73+ episodes are yours for the listening or downloading at no cost. However, if there is to be an eighth season or any more episodes, the good folks at Decoder Ring Theatre depend on the support of their listeners. By all means go, download a few episodes, listen to them and see what you think. If this stuff rocks your world, then consider making a donation so that they can keep doing this one of a kind pulp-style audio-adventure series going.

But the Red Panda isn't confined to the internet. There are three action packed pulp-novels: The Mind Master, The Crime Cabal, and The Android Assassins that are all available as eBooks via Smashwords or in-print from Amazon. The Decoder Ring Theatre website also offers a free 5-chapter preview of each of the three books for just tweeting about them.


The Mind Master is about a super-villain who just might have mysterious mental abilities to rival the Red Panda's own hypnotic powers. In the course of investigating a series of attacks upon the rich and famous of Toronto it becomes disturbingly clear that someone or something might actually be hunting the Red Panda and his trusty side-kick the Flying Squirrel.


The Crime Cabal features a multi-villain team-up in an effort to overwhelm the Red Panda who has proven to be too much for any of these previously defeated bad-guys on their own. By joining forces these scoundrels and evil-doers hope to do away with their arch-nemesis once and for all, and this time they just might have the firepower and man-power to get the job done...or do they?


In the midst of the Depression, can even the Red Panda save his beloved Toronto from plunging into chaos and utter ruin at the cruel hands of some unscrupulous behind-the-scenes manipulator and their campaign of sabotage? And as if that weren't bad enough, an old foe returns with a newfangled plan for vengeance. But can the Red Panda and Flying Squirrel sort out the red herrings and false leads in time to stop this villains' malevolent scheme to destroy everything that the Terrific Twosome have fought so hard to protect?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

PRO SE BRINGS NEW PULP AUTHOR'S NOVELLA TO PRINT FOR FIRST TIME!

Pro Se Productions, Publisher of New Pulp books, anthologies, and magazines, announces today that the October issue of its magazine, PRO SE PRESENTS, will be a special issue featuring the novella, THE HUNTER ISLAND ADVENTURE by well known New Pulp author Wayne Reinagel.

Never before in print, THE HUNTER ISLAND ADVENTURE features characters from Reinagel's INFINITE HORIZONS Universe and his PULP HEROES trilogy. "Infinite Horizons," according to Reinagel, "explores the secret lives and revealing the unrecorded adventures of the greatest heroes and villains to ever walk the Earth.

"In the worlds of Infinite Horizons, the question is explored, what if the Victorian and Pulp era adventures actually occurred in our universe. And taking into account all of the events that have happened since that time, how would this have altered the pulp heroes from the 30’s and 40’s? The answers to these questions are presented in the first trilogy of Infinite Horizons novels entitled Pulp Heroes.

"Pulp Heroes is an epic adventure, spanning two centuries in time and linking the incredible lives of history’s most popular Victorian Age adventurers of the 1800’s with the greatest action heroes of the Pulp Era and an assortment of well-known, real-life figures."

THE HUNTER ISLAND ADVENTURE is a story about Pam Titan, Doc Titan's cousin and an adventurer in her own right, and three associates who end up on a wild adventure all their own. Although available in ebook form, this will be the first time that the story has appeared in print.

"We are more than honored," Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions says, "to be the home for Wayne's novella. Known for his epic storytelling and adventures that span decades, even centuries, full of his own creations as well as reinterpretations of real historical figures and literary characters, Wayne also proves he's extremely capable in telling gripping tales in a short form. And you an find out how capable in PRO SE PRESENTS #3 in October."

More information will follow as the release date nears for PRO SE PRESENTS #3 in October!


Table Talk - Those Trendy Western Zombie Mysteries!


This week, Barry, Bobby and Mike discuss all the work, other than writing, writers must do these days, as well as those pesky trends that compel writers to pen western zombie mysteries.




Question (Bobby): I've discovered that there's so much more to being a writer than just writing. Promotion, marketing, name building, branding, social media, conventions, interviews, blogs, and on and on and on. Sometimes I think I spend as much time doing these things as I do writing. Of these writing-related tasks, what are your favorites? Least favorite? The biggest surprise? And how do you work this part of the job into your schedule.

Mike: I love the conventions, mostly. We all work, live and breathe in isolation for the most part. Just us and a computer. But, at a convention, we get to interact with readers, get feedback, see the excitement on their faces and really get the experience of interacting with the people enjoying our work. I'm extremely extroverted, so sitting in my office by myself for forty hours a week gets old. If I could, I'd do a convention at least once a month, if not more.

Barry: I don’t do many conventions because of the cost involved in doing so but they are fun. I enjoy doing interviews for the most part, too, though I confess that sometimes I get tired of answering the same questions over and over again. I sometimes jokingly consider coming up with bizarre, off-the-wall answers just to amuse myself. “How did you come up with The Rook, Barry?” “Lots and lots of drugs, actually.”

My least favorite things? I have to balance the time I put into promotion with the time I have set aside to actually write, plus I have a full-time “real” job and a family… so I don’t promote myself as hard as I could. I’m not on Twitter, for example, and I don’t pursue writing work as fanatically as I should. I generally let the work come to me.

Bobby: I was surprised to discover just how little promotion publishers do so I started doing my own. Thankfully, it turns out I enjoy doing promotions, but I have to balance it, like Barry said, or else I’ll spend more time promoting than writing. I also love interviews. They’re fun, but I agree there are some questions I could almost copy and paste the answers. I also enjoy doing interviews, a hold over from my journalism days. I don’t do a lot of them, but I do work up the occasional interview for All Pulp.

I love conventions and do more than I probably should considering the cost. On average, I do between fifteen and twenty conventions a year, some larger, some small, some three days, some one day shows. I often travel with other creators to help keep travel and hotel costs down. Some shows comp me a hotel room, which is always appreciated.

Mike: I'd love to do that many shows in a year, but when you factor in taking my wife and son, it gets really expensive, really quickly. Now that we're down in Austin, I hope to find more small shows to do and maybe start branching out into other types of shows and not just doing comic shows. Hopefully, someone will launch a New Pulp convention here in 2012 we can all attend (yes, I'm looking at you Tommy).

Bobby: What about the shows specifically do you like and dislike?

Barry: Dislike is easy… the travel and the expense.

The liking part is just as simple, really – I love being surrounded by like-minded people. Writing is so often a lonely exercise and even with the Internet, it’s still easy to feel like you exist in a vacuum. But being at cons, you’re with people face-to-face. At Pulp Ark, I met a young lady who told me how much Rabbit Heart meant to her and how she’d never read anything like it. That was an awesome moment for me – if she’d sent me an email saying the same things, I would have loved it but it wouldn’t have been the same.

Mike: Yeah, that one-on-one interaction is priceless. I had a girl come up to me at the last show I did and tell me she grew up reading Lions, Tigers and Bears and how much the series meant to her. Granted, it made me feel pretty old, but it still carried a lot more weight seeing the zeal in her eyes and hearing the excitement in her voice. Email is great for passing information, but horrible at conveying intent and emotion.

Bobby: That one-on-one interaction is a major like. I love chatting with fans and other creators. I never fail to have a fun time at a con. And I agree with you guys about how it feels to meet those who are fans of your work. One of the thrills that has happened a few times is when someone brings some of my work to the convention for me to sign. Not only does that mean they bought it, but that they put forth effort to bring it to the show, find me, and get it signed. That’s a big thrill for me.

The dislike for me is the cost. Travel and conventions aren’t cheap. One way I work around that is that I have a couple creator friends that I travel with so we can split the costs. My next con is in Nashville on October 1 - 2. Alone, this would be me covering gas from Atlanta to Nashville and back, plus a $69 a night hotel. Because I’m traveling with someone only half of that is mine. And , if I’m lucky, I’ll make the money to cover that at the con. Sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn’t. I used to get hung up on the money part earlier in my career and if I didn’t make enough it would spoil my enjoyment of the show. Now, I look on conventions as part of my marketing plan. Even if I don’t make as many sales as I’d like, I still make sure to enjoy the con and come home happy.

Barry: Bobby’s mention of sales led me to wonder – Do the sales of a project help define for you how successful it was? Or is the true success the quality of the work? I’ve done books that I was extremely proud of and then was very disappointed that they didn’t sell at all. On the other hand, I’ve done things that in retrospect, I didn’t feel was my best work for whatever reason – only to see people buying the things in droves.

Mike: For me, sales aren't so much a factor as the response. For instance, Savage Beauty didn't sell as well as we'd hoped, but it got nearly unanimous shining reviews and response from readers. The same can be said for my Timothy and the Transgalactic Towel. It also didn't sell as well as I'd hoped, but the people who did get it, love it. Honestly, there's really only two books I've done that I would like to take back and "fix," otherwise, I'm pretty okay with most of it. Granted, there's nothing I've done I'm 100% satisfied with and I'm very cognizant of the fact that I'm far from the best author out there…

Bobby: While sales are nice, and good sales are even nicer, I try not to let things like that dictate whether I view a project as successful or not. It’s not always easy, mind you, but I try. I’ve written some stories that sold less than I’d hoped, but received nothing but praise from those that read them. Then I’ve had projects that were less exciting to me as a writer that sold better. It’s a mindboggler trying to figure out what will sell so I try not to think about that as I write. I also don’t try to write toward the current trends unless the idea comes on its own. If I try to force myself to write fantasy, for example, it’ll come off a bit forced because I am not a “fantasy writer.”

Mike: I can certainly relate to that. I don't write mystery stuff for that very reason, I'm just not very good at it. And, I actually have an aversion to stuff that's trending, for whatever reason, which is why I've not written any zombie books, even though it seems like that's a surefire way to get sales these days.

Bobby: I hope you’re right because I wrote a story for the upcoming Zombies vs. Robots prose anthology for IDW. [laughs at his own shameless self promotion] I agree though. I can’t make myself write a story that I have no interest in writing. I often have people tell me that I should write this type of story or that type of story. Then there’s the perplexed look I see on the face of the person that asked that when I tell them what they suggested isn’t the type of writing I do.

One of the reasons I like working on short stories for anthologies is that it allows me to scratch certain creative itches. I jumped at the chance to write a western story for the A Fistful of Legends anthology because I’d had an interest in writing a western, but didn’t know if I had a complete western novel in me, or even if I could sell it. There aren’t a lot of publishers putting out many westerns these days.

Barry: I agree on the topic of not trying to write things that don't interest me - even if I suspect it would sell. But sometimes I'll try to test myself and do something (like a western) even though I know I struggle with them.

In the end, sales don't determine "success" for me... But they sure do help sometimes! Haha!

Bobby: Agreed. Challenging myself is good, but knowing the market is a plus.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

iPulp debuts exclusive new DEATH ANGEL story

Death Angel, a New Pulp character created by Mike Bullock, debuted in the pages of Phantom: KGB Noir #1 from Moonstone books in 2010. Soon after, Death Angel's adventures paired her with pulp fiction  legend The Black Bat, but through it all, Death Angel has always been a bit of a loner.

Now, the vigilante returns in a brand new solo adventure. iPulpfiction has the exclusive debut of the first chapter of this new serialized romp through the darkness that blankets not only this city, but the minds of those who walk it's streets.

Follow this link to grab a copy of the first chapter of the new story, IN MY DOMINION, and dig in.

End of War





Only those who have seen Blackhawk Down have seen “…the end of war.”

I talked a little last week about the appeal of what I call “the Golden Age of Adventure”—the classic period setting of the original pulp magazines. What I didn’t talk about was the challenge of trying to write stories set in that period.

But maybe “challenge” is the wrong word.

I’m sometimes asked how I go about doing research for my stories, and specifically whether I do all the research ahead of time or as I go along. Somehow, the answers I give just don’t quite seem to tell the whole tale.

I love research…not in the traditional sense of going to a library, checking out volumes on various and sundry esoteric topics, and dutifully building a file of information…but rather in a more basic sense. I like learning things. Little things. Stupid insignificant things that most people probably don’t even care if I get wrong.

When I wrote The Shroud of Heaven, the first book in my contemporary Nick Kismet thriller series, I knew that a lot of the action would take place in Baghdad, Iraq. I combed the available online resources for all the information I could gather, and there wasn’t all that much, but much of what I did find, including a few satellite photos—there was no Google Earth at the time—helped me not only get the details right, but actually gave me a lot of ideas for how to ratchet up the action.

Research is like that for me. Often, I’ll go to Wikipedia or Google Earth, expecting merely to get some detail right, and discover a connection that propels the story into new and unexpected places.

I think my love of research has made it hard for me to enjoy reading. In addition to writing my own novels, I am privileged to be able to help other authors with the editing process, and I find that I am constantly going to the Internet to check some detail to make sure that the author got it right. It’s surprising how many little things we just assume have always been true. Take slang expressions for instance.

This weekend, while editing an excellent young adult adventure novel set in 1961, I came across a passage where one of the characters says: “We’re toast.” Naturally, I had to know whether that slang expression came into our vernacular before 1961 or not. My research revealed that, in fact, the earliest use of “toast” in this fashion was in the movie Ghostbusters. (It seems we actually owe quite a bit of popular slang to the ad libs of Mr. Bill Murray).

But that’s just the kind of thing I love learning about.

In the same book, another passage mentions how a character “sucked it up” and went on with whatever it was that needed to be done. Search for: “What is the origin of the expression ‘Suck it up’?”

That one wasn’t so easy. One popular explanation was that World War II aviators who got sick and vomited into their oxygen masks were advised to “suck it up,” clearing the mask of bile and acid in order to avoid breathing the resulting toxic vapors. Eeewww. As is often the case, that explanation wasn’t verifiable, but still, at least I’ve got something to talk about at parties.

Research can be that way. One area that I’m obsessive about is quotes. I remember writing a college essay where I wanted to include the famous quote: “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” I remembered the words, but not the source, so I fired up the search engine.

Plato! I was told again and again…but wait…What’s this? “Incorrectly attributed to Plato.”

The quote actually comes from George Santayana, a Spanish poet and philosopher who wrote it in 1922, some time after Plato as it turns out. Many people believe that Plato said it because the movie Blackhawk Down opens with the quote onscreen, and attributes it to the ancient Greek philosopher. But director Ridley Scott was guilty only of perpetuating an already common mistake. Evidently, General Douglas MacArthur, in his farewell address to the cadets at West Point in 1962, attributed the quote to Plato, and ever since, people looking for a really good quote about war have taken the General at his word and ascribed that bit of too-true wisdom to the wrong person.

This underscores to me the fact that we writers—even those of us who deal in fantastic escapist fiction—have an obligation to do our homework. We have a sacred trust, given us by our readers, to provide correct information whenever possible, and to always check our facts, even when we’re pretty sure we know what we’re talking about. And really, nowadays, it’s not that hard to do.

Speaking of Blackhawk Down, I recall another news story recently where a young boy discovered his even younger sister had apparently drowned in the backyard pool. This little boy did everything right—he got help, he called 911—but most critically, he performed CPR and was able to resuscitate his sister. When asked where he learned to do that, he proudly replied that he had seen it in his favorite movie, Blackhawk Down. I won’t go into the issue of whether that’s appropriate content for a 9-year old…hey, he saved a life, that’s all that matters. But just imagine if Ridley Scott had treated medical procedures as cavalierly as he had the words of Plato…I mean Santayana. What if I had, after watching Blackhawk Down, attributed that quote to Plato in my college paper…and looked foolish in front of my peers?

It’s not enough to simply say “oh, just make it up.” Someone’s life could depend on whether or not I get the details right. Or at the very least, someone’s dignity.



“The trouble with quotes on the Internet is that you can never know if they are genuine.”—Abraham Lincoln



Sean Ellis is the author of the Nick Kismet thrillers, The Adventures of Dodge Dalton, and other adventure and pulp novels. He is a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resources Policy from Oregon State University. Sean is also a member of the International Thriller Writers organization. He currently resides in Arizona, where he divides his time between writing, adventure sports, and trying to figure out how to save the world. Visit Sean’s website: http://seanellisthrillers.webs.com

Monday, September 26, 2011

PULPTACULAR | Pro Se



Last week we kicked off our tour of the New Pulp world with a look at Airship 27, the publishing company run by Ron Fortier, one of New Pulp’s most prominent voices. This week, we’re exploring Pro Se Productions, the company run by Tommy Hancock, the person who most personifies the New Pulp movement for me.

Tommy’s not only heavily involved with the site you’re visiting right now, he’s also one of the leading voices in the All Pulp news blog, lead host on the Pulped podcast, and Marketing and Promotions Coordinator for Moonstone, another pulp publisher we’ll be getting to down the road. First though I wanted to find out more about Pro Se, the company where Tommy serves as Editor-in-Chief of the pulp line.

Michael: Tommy, what led you to start your business? What was missing that you wanted to provide?

Tommy: Actually, Pro Se was already a business when I was brought into it. Its founder and my partner, Fuller Bumpers, has a background in TV and film, both as an actor and writer, and when he moved back to his wife’s hometown in Arkansas, he wanted to do something to keep that creative side going, as well as create a business involving the things he liked. Turns out that his wife’s hometown is also my hometown, Batesville, a place I work in quite a bit. Fuller and I cross paths frequently in our day jobs and as we got to know each other, he told me about his company and things he wanted to do and brought me in that way.

When I joined Pro Se, we were looking for our niche; the medium by which we could make a name for ourselves, be as creative as possible, and hopefully expand into what we do on an everyday basis. We produced some audio shows, talked about short films and plays, but really the push from the get-go always had to do with writing. We’re both writers and find our greatest passion there. With that in mind, I brought up the New Pulp field as a direction to go, one I was already involved with as a writer. We recruited writers and artists, went to work, and here we are at the end of our first publishing year.

I’m not sure that anything was exactly missing; we didn’t come into New Pulp to necessarily fill a gap. It was more about being one of the building blocks of something, a form of literature – a movement really – that appealed to us more than anything. We wanted to be a proving ground for new creators and we have definitely been that. We wanted to do stories that pushed Pulp boundaries without breaking them and we’ve succeeded in that way. We’ve become a place where known New Pulp authors feel comfortable imparting a tale or two and that’s really cool as well.

Michael: What differentiates Pro Se from other New Pulp publishers?

Tommy: Probably the thing that stands out is that we’ve focused almost exclusively on original characters. There’s been a Public Domain-type or three pop up here and there (and there’ll likely be more), but Pro Se’s push has been for stories and books focused on newly created characters that fall into a genre and character-type that fit squarely with standards set by the writers of the classic pulps and are carried forward today by the creators of New Pulp.

We’re also, as I said before, known for introducing a lot of great authors and artists to the New Pulp field that really haven’t broken in any other way: Nancy Hansen, Ken Janssens, Lee Houston Jr, Pete Cooper, David Russell, and the list goes on and on. It’s really been amazing to me since Pro Se has jumped feet first into New Pulp how many of our creators and supporters, both people who got their start with us as well as some fairly well-established New Pulp creators, have commented that Pro Se is like a creative family for them. We are definitely a business as well, but I think it says something when the people who work for a company consider it more than that.

Michael: Where’d the name Pro Se come from?

Tommy: This goes back to Fuller, my partner. He is, by day, an attorney and the term pro se is a legal one. It refers to when someone chooses to defend themselves in a legal action, so basically it means “do it yourself.” Not really a wise choice in any court of law honestly, but the meaning and the ring of it works well for a publishing company.

Michael: The first thing I noticed when I saw it was that when you put the two words together they make “prose.” Was that an intentional word play as well?

Tommy: It wasn’t intentional because originally the company was going to be doing audio and film production. When we made the switch to publishing, our name became sort of a happy accident.

Michael: Which one Pro Se title do you recommend for someone who’s never read one of your books? Where’s the perfect place to start to get an accurate feel for what Pro Se represents?

Tommy: This is a bit difficult to answer because Pro Se produces books and magazines. We have twelve titles available currently, that’s an average of one a month in our first publishing year, and will continue to do that, one of our slogans being “Putting the Monthly Back Into Pulp!” Another thing that makes this difficult is that Pro Se isn’t just about the writer and the artist, but we have an awesome designer in the person of Sean Ali who has turned out some truly awesome work in terms of format and design.

From the magazine perspective, a good representation of just how varied Pro Se is can be found in Pro Se Presents #1, our relaunch of our magazine line this past August. And as far as a good example of what Pro Se does book-wise, any of our first three books (Yesteryear, The Rook Volume Six, and Fortune’s Pawn) would be good starting points.

But there’s one that will likely be available by the time this posts that is truly a seminal work for Pro Se on all levels and sets the standard for what is to come. The Adventures of Lazarus Gray, written by Barry Reese, is a short-story collection spotlighting a character Barry created for Pro Se’s Sovereign City Project, a shared universe concept. Everything about this book is spot on: the stories, the characters, the style, the art, the format and design. This is a New Pulp tale done completely right.

Michael: Let’s say someone has enjoyed every Pro Se title available and is still craving more like it. What classic pulp would you suggest he or she read that would be comparable to yours?

Tommy: Pro Se covers such a wide variety of genres and such with its work, especially in our magazines. We have fantasy covered, so Robert E. Howard comes to mind. Definitely, we have masked vigilantes and hero types, so that brings in classic hero pulps. We’ve stepped squarely off into the horror and science fiction realms as well in the past. To be honest, Pro Se has such a fair representation of comparable genres that the pulp gamut is pretty well covered. I’d say just pick a classic pulp you like and there's likely comparable content at Pro Se.

***

If you Google Pro Se Productions, you’ll find a website that’s different from the one I linked to at the top of this article. As Tommy mentioned, the company does a lot more than publishing pulp stories, so for those interested in Pro Se’s New Pulp stuff, he recommends checking out the blog. That’s what I did and found all the books and magazines Tommy talked about.

As I’m building a reading list for myself though, one title particularly jumped out and that’s the last one Tommy brought up, The Adventures of Lazarus Gray. It has a little to do with Gray’s being an homage to the Avenger, one of the few, classic pulp heroes I know anything about. Mostly though, I love the idea of Pro Se’s creating a shared universe for itself. I’m a fan of Marvel and DC comics, but that’s not where my excitement for this concept comes from. For one thing, I think it’d be extremely hard – if not impossible – to replicate something as extensive as Marvel and DC’s universes in a series of novels and/or short stories. But there is a closer precedent for this kind of thing in the Thieves’ World books edited by Robert Lynn Asprin.

Thieves’ World was a series of fantasy anthologies all set in the shared city of Sanctuary. Science fiction and fantasy writers as noted as Marion Zimmer Bradley, Andrew Ouffet, Lynn Abbey, and Poul Anderson contributed short stories and shared characters. It was a lot of fun and I’ve always wanted to read something else like it. The Adventures of Lazarus Gray sounds like it could be the beginning of something like that and I want to be there to witness it as it gets going. Undoubtedly I’ll add other Pro Se books to my list, but that’ll be the first.

Thanks so much to Tommy for indulging my questions. Next week, we’ll start hitting the rest of the New Pulp publishers alphabetically with the gorgeous books of Age of Aces.

Friday, September 23, 2011

UNDERCOVER REVIEWS: The Falling Machine

Fall in Love With The Falling Machine

The Paragons are a team of pulp heroes in the late 19th century. They are steampunk superheroes with powerful gadgets that make them more powerful than mere mortals.

They aren’t the stars of Society of Steam Book One: The Falling Machine by Andrew Mayer.

Instead the book focuses around two players in their circle. Sarah Stanton is the daughter of the Industrialist and confidant of the Professor (a.k.a. Sir Dennis Darby). Her costar is the Automaton, Tom for short, a powerful, robotic man and Darby’s greatest creation.

When Darby dies, it quickly falls to them to solve the crime.

The Falling Machine is filled with characters torn right out of a fevered pulp dream. The villains and heroes all carry crazy gadget weapons, whether it’s the Industrialist’s automatic pistols or the murderous Bomb Lance’s spear launchers.

The cast quickly allows Mayer to design a world of pulp superheroes while never breaking away from a rather traditional, Victorian-era New York. It makes the setting truly unique while leaving it grounded in reality.

Ultimately, the story comes down to Automaton and Sarah’s quest to find their place as heroes in the aftermath of their mentor’s death. While the book completes their quest, it leaves many more answers left open. Mayer embraces the series’ aesthetic far too tightly and leaves far too much undone by book’s end. This leaves The Falling Machine feeling like only the first third of a much larger novel instead of a standalone novel.

That aside, Mayer’s prose moves along at a fever pitch, always driving the story forward and keeping the reader hooked in. I found myself covering hundreds of pages without ever wandering from the compelling narrative.

Anyone that loves pulp concepts in a Victorian era setting should take a look at The Society of Steam series. The Falling Machine comes Highly Recommended.

Review by Nick Ahlhelm

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pulp Magnet: Dejah Thoris


The Incomparable Dejah Thoris

Not just any damsel in distress, Dejah Thoris is a true princess of Mars who lived a full and eventful life before that guy from Virginia ever showed up. The most beautiful woman in any world worth mentioning, the incomparable Dejah Thoris has been an inspiration to myriads of writers and artists within the pulps and in other genres as well, including Robert Heinlein who adopted her as a character in his Number of the Beast.

Originally Edgar Rice Burroughs pretty much settled for having Dejah Thoris kidnapped by a succession of villains, and having her paramour and eventual husband Capt. Carter come battling his way across half of Barsoom to rescue her. Again. And again.

For a female character introduced in 1917, that wasn't too terribly uncommon. But even with her constantly getting abducted by bad guys with bad intentions, Dejah Thoris manages to preserve her honor, stand up for herself, retain her dignity as a Princess of Helium, and sometimes even kick some butt in her own right. This is a woman who survived the harsh conditions of Barsoom for centuries before Carter came a'courting. She's not just eye-candy or a prize for the taking.

One of the most iconic women to come out of the whole Planetary Romance/Sword and Planet(Ray-gun) style pulps of the early 20th century, Dejah Thoris was a trailblazer and trend-setter well before Honey West or Barbarella ever got into or out of their respective costumes. Just consider how Burroughs himself introduced her:

“And the sight which met my eyes was that of a slender, girlish figure, similar in every detail to the earthly women of my past life... Her face was oval and beautiful in the extreme, her every feature was finely chiseled and exquisite, her eyes large and lustrous and her head surmounted by a mass of coal black, waving hair, caught loosely into a strange yet becoming coiffure. Her skin was of a light reddish copper color, against which the crimson glow of her cheeks and the ruby of her beautifully molded lips shone with a strangely enhancing effect. She was as destitute of clothes as the green Martians who accompanied her; indeed, save for her highly wrought ornaments she was entirely naked, nor could any apparel have enhanced the beauty of her perfect and symmetrical figure.”

A Princess of Mars, Chapter VIII: A Fair Captive from the Sky

Edgar Rice Burroughs


But she isn't a petulent brat or a simpering ditz getting by on her ...uh.... looks. This is a woman who redefines the term 'Drop Dead Gorgeous,' and combines a good bit of the mystique of Helen of Troy with the sensual strategy of Cleopatra. Dejah Thoris is a Princess dammit, and she really knows how to use it. And use it she does. This slender, red-martian woman stands up to the towering green martian Tharks and doesn't give an inch. She has real grit.

And that's what makes Dejah Thoris an intriguing character within the context of New Pulp. She isn't going to settle for being a booty-prize for egotistical bullies with bad hygiene nor just play the pawn for her husband to go rescue every other month like it's some kinky game they play to keep their marriage fresh and vigorous. Nope. Dejah Thoris deserves to be a full-blown protagonist all on her own. She had a life before Carter made her his wife, with centuries of her own adventures on a violent and dangerous dying world tangled up in all sorts of nefarious plots, political maneuvering, covert assassinations and open war.

Barsoom is a thoroughly intriguing place to explore, with a ton of potential that Burroughs himself only barely got around to using. Now Dynamite is taking us all back to Barsoom in a big way, delivering on that premise, and doing a beautiful job. And they're giving Dejah Thoris her time in the spotlight.

But you'd expect no less, since it is Dejah Thoris we're talking about.

She is incomparable, after all.

Dynamite currently has no less than three on-going series of comics based on/inspired by Edgar Rice Burroughs' early (now public domain) Barsoom novels: Warlord of Mars which nicely builds off of the original first novel and manages to breathe some freshness into a tale first committed to type in 1917; Warlord of Mars: Fall of Barsoom, which details a series of unfortunate events that leave Barsoom a world where the life-support is failing and even the mighty and resourceful Capt. Carter won't be able to prevent its inevitable demise. And then there is Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris.

The first story-arc for Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris is 'the Colossus of Mars' and it concerns a secret buried beneath Helium itself, a terrible secret from the distant past that an unscrupulous and overly-ambitious warlord named Yorn is determined to retrieve and put to use in subjugating or destroying everything and everyone who stands in his way. Yorn pays a horrible price in his ruthless quest for power, and he does gain tremendous, even terrible, power--enough to break a besieging horde of Tharks. But will it be enough? And how can Dejah Thoris stop this madman who has become an all-but unstoppable juggernaut of destruction?

The follow-up to the first storyline has Dejah Thoris getting abducted by sky-pirates and possibly becoming something of a pirate-queen herself, which should prove to be great fun. It could be something like Belit's early days before Conan, only on Barsoom and with airships and radium pistols... but it is too early to tell just yet.

For more on Dynamite's Warlord of Mars comics, visit their site: www.dynamite.net

Get the 411 on Disney's John Carter Movie here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


PRO SE PRESS KICKS OFF SECOND PUBLISHING YEAR 
WITH NEW IMPRINT AND TWO NEW BOOKS!


Pro Se Productions, a New Pulp Publisher debuted its first title in August, 2010.  Entering its second year of Publishing after publishing an average of one book a month in its first, Pro Se shows no signs of slowing down with two new titles and the premiere of its first in house imprint all this month!

New Pulp Author Barry Reese, creator of the well known 'ROOK' series, works his storytelling magic once more with a whole new cast of characters! THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY is Reese's entry into Pro Se's The Sovereign City Project, showcasing a hero whose own life is a mystery to himself. On the road to discovering his own secrets Gray and his Assistance Unlimited team encounter weirdness, madness, and defend society from the evil that flows in the streets of Sovereign City and beyond! Come along for the ride for this new Barry Reese adventure, seven stories of mystery, action, and adventure that make up the first collection in The Sovereign City Project!  Thrill to THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY!

"There's a lot," Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, "that goes into any concept, especially a shared universe such as the Sovereign City Project is going to be.  Barry being a part of this and actually laying the cornerstone of the whole world with THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY is not only a tremendous start, but its also the birth of another New Pulp Classic from Barry.  The characters, good and bad, jump off the page and the action moves at a breakneck speed, but there's also this eerie disturbing undercurrent that puts a different spin on classic Pulp tropes.  This is one of Barry's best works to date."  Reese's work is amplified by the fantastic cover art provided by Anthony Castrillo and the stylistic interior images  by George Sellas.

One of the most prolific writers in New Pulp, Reese has dozens and dozens of characters, adventures, and worlds that he has written or intends to write about, a wealth of ideas with plenty of room for more, both more stories and more people to write them.   "There are at least five books," Hancock stated, "in the Pro Se Publishing pipeline that are either written by Barry or based on the cyclone of ideas whirling about in his head.  Barry's also ready to see what others can do with some of his visions.  That combined with the general growth of Pro Se and the fact we intend to be an even bigger force in New Pulp in our second year made this next announcement an easy decision.  Pro Se is privileged to reveal its first in house imprint, Reese Unlimited!"

Reese Unlimited, an imprint centered around both the written work of as well as concepts created by Reese that may be written by others, debuts with THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY.  Already known for tales of action, adventure, fantastic characterization, and compelling storylines, Barry will bring his imagination and editing skills to bear as well with Reese Unlimited, acting as Imprint Editor and essentially being the creative force behind the entire endeavor.   This imprint will be the home of future Lazarus Gray adventures, as well as the upcoming Rook Trilogy written by Tommy Hancock and any other ideas from the fertile mind of Barry Reese.

Pro Se continues its one-two punch launching its second year in print with the debut novel from author Chuck Miller.  CREEPING DAWN: THE RISE OF THE BLACK CENTIPEDE centers on the aforementioned Centipede, Miller's pivotal character in a mad, wild world of magic, mystery, murder, and almost more mayhem than it has historical guest stars.  His dark origins tied to Lizzie Borden, The Black Centipede is a mysterious individual who has no life other than that of masked avenger, vigilante, and consort of weirdness.  

"This," Hancock reported, "is not just a novel.  Chuck has breathed every bit of himself into the creation of not simply this book or this character, but the insane universe that the Centipede -populates isn't a strong enough world.  He is the axis that the lunacy of everyone around him turns on and in response he's a valiant hero at some turns, a madman at others, and even the deus ex machina at times.  CREEPING DAWN is an introductory ticket to one of the wildest rides New Pulp has ever seen!

CREEPING DAWN is a fast paced New Pulp mash up of noir, masked vigilantes, historical fiction, and more mystery and suspense than a centipede has legs.  With evocative cover art by David L. Russell and interiors by Peter Cooper, CREEPING DAWN: RISE OF THE BLACK CENTIPEDE by Chuck Miller is one experience not to be missed!

Both books display the fantastic Format and Design work of Pro Se's Design master, Sean Ali.

Pro Se is thankful for the success thus far of its books and magazines and to all the supporters and fans that caused said success.  "That," Hancock said, "is why Pro Se wants to make sure our second year kicks off in a way that our readers will enjoy, giving them a double dose of the New Pulp quality they expect from Pro Se.  And that's not the only way we're saying thanks.  Things to come this year from Pro Se will blow you all away and its all our way of saying Thank You to those who support New Pulp and Pro Se."



Available now at https://www.createspace.com/3693399 and soon at www.Amazon.com!
THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY
By Barry Reese
Cover by Anthony Castrillo
Interiors by George Sellas
A Reese Unlimited Book
Published by Pro Se Press
List Price: $12.00
6" x 9"
250 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1466358348


Available Now at https://www.createspace.com/3689977 and soon at www.Amazon.com
CREEPING DAWN: THE RISE OF THE BLACK CENTIPEDE
By Chuck Miller
Cover by David Russell
Interiors by Peter Cooper
Published by Pro Se Press
List Price: $12.00
6" x 9"  
196 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1466338135 
 FOR MORE PRO SE -WWW.PULPMACHINE.BLOGSPOT.COM

Pro Se Productions
Fuller Bumpers, CEO
Tommy Hancock, EIC