Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Press Release - PULP EMPIRE MAKES OPEN CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

Since 2010, Pulp Empire publishing has created quarterly anthologies featuring dozens of stories by new pulp authors. The success of the recent Pirates & Swashbucklers anthology leads in to Pulp Empire’s publishing initiative for 2012: new anthologies backed by a cohesive theme!


First, Pulp Empire introduces the world to Heroes of Mars. The new anthology offers writers a chance to tell tales in the world of Barsoom, the now public domain world originally created by writer Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1912. Stories will tell tales from all over Burroughs’ sword and science saga. Submissions are due on December 31, 2011.

Modern Pulp Heroes has a concept as straight forward as its title. The anthology will feature stories of true blue pulp heroes but placed in a modern 21st century setting. Characters don’t have to be masked, but Pulp Empire wants to see a real high adventure setting with heroes in a contemporary setting. Submissions are due on March 15, 2012.

Today we also announce our third anthology, Aliens Among Us. This anthology will focus on This book will feature tales of humans in any non-future setting as they learn that aliens exist and very well walk among us. This can take the form of alien invasion scenarios, abductions, friendships or whatever an author sees their human/alien relationship to be. Submissions are due on April 30, 2012.
For details on all these anthologies, please visit Pulp Empire’s submissions page

Table Talk - Got a Question? Fire away!

Recently, a reader of the Table Talk columns asked if Barry, Bobby and Mike would answer questions from readers.  Well, the guys liked the idea so much they've decided to open this up to all the fine readers of newpulpfiction.com



Have a question you want the guys to answer? Send it to "newpulpfiction @ gmail.com" with "Table Talk Question" in the subject line. Also, let us know if you want attribution for the question, or you'd rather remain anonymous. Please, keep the questions pertinent to the creation of New Pulp and/or writing speculative fiction in general. We'll get the questions worked into future columns ASAP.

Thanks!
New Pulp Fiction.com

Table Talk - Researching the Voices in our Heads

This week, Barry, Bobby and Mike discuss working on obscure characters, particularly for the upcoming Pulp Obscura anthology line and then toss out their bucket list anthology dreams for everyone to share.





Question (Barry): With Pulp Obscura getting a lot of attention lately, let's talk about a related issue. How do you tackle the process of writing a pre-existing character, especially one that doesn't have a lot of back-story to draw upon?

Bobby: Research. Lots and lots of research. Okay, maybe not lots because I still have other things to write too. heh. When I agree to work on a pre-existing character, I usually receive a series bible from the publisher or editor. I use the bible as well as try to read a few of the original stories, especially on characters I’m not familiar with so I can get a feel for the character’s dialogue and characterizations. From there it’s just a matter of making notes that I can easily access then I start writing.

Mike: I just make it all up as I go along. Just kidding. Like Bobby, I read as much as I can get my hands on, then once I have a fair grip on the character, I try to imagine the motivations and thoughts going on in the creator's mind as they made the character. I feel that if I can get a good handle on how the original author handled the character, I'll have a far better chance of making something that seems authentic to the audience. With some of the Pulp Obscura characters, where there's very little reference material, I'll be trying to research the original author and see if I can get into the character's mind that way. Thankfully, one of the Pulp Obscura characters is from the mind of an author I'm already pretty familiar with, so that should make it a bit easier.

Barry: It sounds like we’re all on the same page here. I start out by reading everything there is and trying to get a handle on not only who the character is but how his stories are structured. If I’m writing a character for the first time, I want to be in the mindset of the author – his style, the tone of his writing, even the way he describes things. It’s not that I want to deliberately do a pastiche but for my first run on a character, I try to stay very faithful and not inject too much of my personal quirks into the story. I save that for later stories, lol.

Bobby: When doing anthologies, especially of more obscure characters like those featured in Pulp Obscura, all of the writers are basically drawing from the same, very small well so there is always the possibility of multiple writers doing similarly themed plots. I usually look for a plot or situation that is just outside the norm for the character for those stories. For example, my story for the upcoming The Avenger anthology, I had Richard Benson alone in a forest setting, which is not the type of environment where we often see the character.

Do you approach your plot and story any differently in these instances? What do you do to make your story stand out?

Mike: I just do what I always do, try to tell a story I'd dig reading. There have been a few instances where things have similar bits and pieces with others, but I think even if you and I tried to write the same story, it would still carry the uniqueness of our individual voices.

Barry: Yeah, I don’t worry about what other writers might be doing. If it’s for something like The Avenger anthology, I try to hit all the cool notes that I see in the character: I want someone who reads it to get kind of a greatest hits package in terms of the story. I broke down my Avenger story into certain key elements that I wanted to include: a strong mystery that somehow tied into the Avenger’s past and an affirmation of the fact that the members of Justice Inc. had formed a new kind of family with each other. Then I came up with a plot that would accomplish those goals.

Now if I were brought in to write a second Avenger story, I might try to do something unusual with the character but for a one-shot kind of deal, I’m trying to write the coolest ‘classic’ Avenger story that I can.

Bobby: That’s interesting. I agree that even if the three of us were to write a story based on the same basic plot we’d still get three distinct stories. That is one of the beauties of working on anthologies.

Mike: While we're on the subject of anthologies, if you could do an anthology of any character, who would it be and which two or three writers would you think to ask first?

Bobby: Wow! Now that’s a tough one. Top of my list would probably be Buck Rogers. I’d love to write the character at least once. Aside from that, I think Marvel’s Fantastic Four is a property that needs a good prose treatment. There are a lot of fantastic writers out there that I think would be great for this type of anthology. Of course, you two would get an invite as would Van Allen Plexico and Sean Taylor, who would be a perfect fit for either of the two properties I mentioned.

Barry: I kind of just went through this with The Rook – I set out to find guys to write stories featuring the character and ended up with great list of creators (including the two of you! Mutual admiration society here…). Beyond that, I’d love to see a Shadow anthology someday – a lot of the familiar New Pulp names would be guys I’d immediately think of, though I have a desire to see what somebody like Mike Baron would do with the character.

Mike: For me it's easy: John Carter of Mars and I'd invite Ron Marz and Aaron Shaps to participate right off the bat, knowing they both love the mythos as much as I do. Then, I'd obviously invite the two of you and Van Allen Plexico. Burroughs created such a rich environment for storytelling, I'd bet you could mine it for decades and not come close to exhausting the potential there.

Over the past decade, Barry Reese has written for publishers as diverse as Marvel Comics, Moonstone Books and West End Games. Primarily known for his pulp fiction creations The Rook and Lazarus Gray, Barry has also penned stories featuring The Green Hornet, The Avenger and Ki-Gor. He won the Best Author Award at the 2011 Pulp Ark Conference.


From his secret lair in the wilds of Bethlehem, Georgia, Bobby Nash writes novels, short stories, novellas, comic books, and graphic novels. Visit him at www.bobbynash.com.


Born with an excessively overactive imagination, Mike Bullock has parlayed that into a successful career writing comics and prose fiction. Bullock has written more Phantom comic book stories than any other US author and won the Angouleme Discovery Prize in 2007 for his creator owned series "Lions, Tigers and Bears".

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

So Which One's The Black Bat Anyway?

 
Pulp Perusals #4

It's a habit, I'll admit it. I suffer from a four-color addiction that is fed every Wednesday by a trip to see the wonderful purveyors of sequential art at Austin Books & Comics.

A couple of weeks ago in among the stack of comics that came home with me were a couple of Moonstone Books. That evening it just so happened that the first one I decided to peruse was THE BLACK BAT and DEATH ANGEL VS. DRACULA written by New Pulp’s very own Mike Bullock. Overall I enjoyed the story, but part way through I discovered I had a problem – more on that later.

The following weekend saw the annual visit of the Wizard World ComicCon circus to the Austin Convention Center. Due to a mix up prior to my arrival at the show my original assigned table in Artist Alley had been given to a bevy of pretty young ladies selling costume jewelry. After things were sorted, where should I end up, but on the table next to the aforementioned Mr. Bullock.

Over the course of the weekend we chatted about this and that, naturally I mentioned I had not long ago read his latest piece of comics work, and of course he was duty bound to ask what I thought. I had no choice but to admit to my problem:

I had read almost to the end of the comic under discussion before I actually figured out who was who. The cover of the book had planted in my mind that this was a story about THE BLACK BAT vs DRACULA. So naturally I assumed that the character we first encountered and who was “on-screen” for most of the first half of the book was the titular Black Bat. But his actions seemed strange for a character with that name, nor did the dialogue flow the way I would have expected it to. The fact was that I had read the comics in the mistaken idea that the Death Angel was the Black Bat. Once I figured out who was who the story suddenly made a lot more sense.

The conversation with Mike and my problem with parsing his excellent story, made me realize that while I may be reasonably well versed in the classic pulp heroes, my knowledge of the more esoteric denizens of the genre is sadly lacking.

To overcome this deficiency Mike presented me with a copy of FROM THE VAULT: THE PULP FILES with which to educate myself. It now sits on the table in my studio for reference. Every time I open it I find great characters--several of whom fall right into the “'I’d like to write that guy someday” category.

So while I head off to do a little bit more New Pulp homework, please settle in and enjoy the third part of NAMELESS HERE FOR EVERMORE by Rick Klaw and myself, featuring our own addition to the New Pulp pantheon: The Raven.


=================
For those who came in late…

Part 1
Part 2

=================

NAMELESS HERE FOR EVERMORE
(Part Three)
By Alan J. Porter & Rick Klaw

Long after the two socialites and even all the other police officers left, Malone stood alone in the empty apartment. He stared down at the blood on the carpet and wondered why it just didn’t feel right. Then he noticed something. Books littered the apartment, all obviously well read—spines cracked and covers torn—save for the bible on the night stand. It's black leather cover embolden with gold gilt declaring “Holy Bible” shone like new. Malone flipped through the pages. No creases, no markings. As he opened the bible further, the spine let out the tell-tale groan of a freshly opened book. It even smelled new. But this bible proffered up no new clues.

By two in the morning he gave up his ruminations. Walking down the alley towards his car, Malone heard the sound of a boot scraping on the iron rungs of a fire escape ladder above him. He tensed, but didn’t look up.

“Are you planning on being perched up there all night,” Malone asked the night air, “being all Mr. Mysterious?”

In response, a heavy thump sounded behind him as two booted feet landed in the alley.

A muffled baritone voice spoke, “It wasn’t a murder.”

“How do you know that?” Malone spoke without turning around. This was an old game. If he didn’t turn and look at The Raven then it made it a lot easier to deny that any of these conversations ever took place. He could truthfully say that he had never seen the vigilante.

“The blood splatter. Patterns were wrong. More like it had been thrown about, rather than from an artery under pressure. It was staged.”

“Once an actor, always an actor I guess. So why would Wilkes want to fake his disappearance then?”

“He didn't. It wasn’t a murder. It was a snatch.”

“So, me ol' friend, what’ll be your next step?” asked Malone.

The Raven paused, then responded. “They called him the man of a thousand faces. Let’s find out his true one.”
*********
At dawn, The Boss growled unhappily. “I lost a good car last night! That jalopy cost plenty to fix up special, and you morons let that masked do-gooder wreck it!”

“But Boss, we wasn’t even there.”

The Boss glared unsympathetically. “I don't want to hear excuses. I left you in charge and you blew it, Finn.”

The big man flinched under The Boss’s ire. He was left in charge—nothing unusual in that. The Boss formulated the ideas, but Finn handled the day-to-day running of the gang. Despite the false impressions demanded from his size, 6' 5”/300 lbs, he was the logistics guy, with a knack for knowing who to use on what job, and when to pull the job. Or had. But this Raven character changed everything. Now it seemed he was second guessed every time they tried to do anything.

“But how was I to know that the neighbors would blow the whistle at the deli?” Finn knew he had said the wrong thing as he was saying it, but his brain insisted he finish the sentence. The response came in the form of a smart blow to the side of the face administered with the leather gloves. The Boss alway carried a pair in his right hand. He never seemed to wear them, just use them to administer pain with.

“I pay you to plan for every contingency. It was your job to know!”

“But The Raven…”
"I don't want to hear anymore about The Raven. That’s the only excuse I hear from you these days. I ain’t never seen this Raven character. No one has managed to get a photo of him either. I’m beginning to think you made the whole fairy tale up to cover for your failures, Finn. Perhaps he ain't even real.”

“But he killed Dutch, and the other guys last night.”

“And why should I believe you? Prove it!”

“How am I gonna do that, Boss?”
“Do I have to think of everything, Finn? Bring him to me. Get me The Raven!”

*********
The Raven fiddled with his set of skeleton keys. The frosted glass filling the top half of the locked door read “British Colonial Exports Ltd.” He'd found the address scribbled on a piece of hotel stationery slipped between the pages of a near-pristine bible in the actor’s apartment. The bible had appeared out of place, all the other books showed signs of multiple readings. Anything but a religious man, the actor's reported tastes ran more to the decadent than the godly. The address seemed familiar. Once he arrived and saw the name on the office door he knew why.

The door creaked open. The outer office was a typical mid-town reception area. A desk for a no-doubt shapely girl receptionist, a row of hard wooden chairs against the wall. Hat stand and a filing cabinet, which he doubted held anything actually useful. He tried the inner door and found it locked. The second lock was more sophisticated than the lock on the main door. That fact just meant it took a little longer to pick.

Fifteen minutes later he stood in the inner room—similar to the outer but with four desks, phones, filing cabinets and on the far wall another door with an even more formidable lock. Surprisingly unlocked, the door opened, smoothly and noiselessly with just the slightest touch, as if someone expected him.

As he entered this third room, a loud click announced the bright light that suddenly shown straight into The Raven’s eyes. His sensitive red eyes contracted at the sudden light. Temporarily blinded, he inwardly cursed at his own stupidity, reflexively dropped into a defensive posture, and prepared for the inevitable attack.

“There’s no need for that old chap,” came a masculine voice, British, from the darkness, “I’m sorry if the old lamp trick disoriented you, I just wanted to make sure that it was, in fact, you.”

The Raven remained silent, squinting as his eyes adjusted. A man, his features hidden in deep shadow behind the lamp, sat at a large desk that filled the room. The slight glow from the bowl of a pipe was just visible and a plume of smoke swirled in the lamp light. The man's right hand rested on a manila folder lying on the desktop.

The mystery man pushed the folder forward into the pool of light. “This will give you the answers you need. Well some of them at least. I hope it helps.” With that he turned the lamp off, returning the room to darkness. “Please excuse the charade, we may not be as flamboyant as you colonials, but we still enjoy our theatricals. Oh and please relock the door on your way out, there’s a good chap.”

*********
When Captain Malone arrived for the morning shift, he found a strange manila folder on his desk. The rough black ink sketch of a pair of wings, signifying a gift from The Raven, adorned one corner of it. As Malone opened the package, he arched his eyebrows in surprise. The official seal of the British Security Council marked the inner flap.

The British Security Council, euphemistic name for the arm of the British Secret Service operating in the US, maintained an office on Broadway. Officially chartered with attempting to sabotage German propaganda efforts in the US and exposing Nazi fifth columnist agitators, rumors persisted that their main mission was to find a way to get the American government into the war in Europe. In some ways Malone sympathized with their aims, so he tended to turn a blind eye to their methods.
Malone received an ever greater shock when he opened the folder.

*********

Monday, November 28, 2011

Press Release - BLACKTHORN: THUNDER ON MARS debuts first on Kindle!

BLACKTHORN: THUNDER ON MARS debuts first on Kindle!

General Blackthorn and his Companions Battle Evil-- on Amazon’s Popular e-Reader
(November 28, 2011) White Rocket Books proudly announces the release in Kindle format of BLACKTHORN: THUNDER ON MARS, a science fiction action-adventure anthology set on far-future post-apocalyptic Mars.

Created by Van Allen Plexico (Sentinels, Lucian), the book features stories by New Pulp luminaries Mark Bousquet, Joe Crowe, Bobby Nash, James Palmer, Sean Taylor, I. A. Watson, and Plexico, along with six full-page illustrations by Chris Kohler (Sentinels). In addition, the Kindle edition includes two bonus stories not included in the upcoming trade paperback edition, by Mark Beaulieu and Danny Wall. Cover art and design are by James Burns (Lance Star: One Shot).

The book will debut in trade paperback format later in December of this year.

In the spirit of “Thundarr the Barbarian” and “John Carter of Mars” comes the gripping saga of US General John Blackthorn. Betrayed and left for dead on the battlefield, Blackthorn awakens many thousands of years later to find himself trapped amidst the ruins of a post-apocalyptic Mars, his only companions a savage Mock-Man and a mysterious sorceress. They battle to free this strange new world from oppression, but it won’t be easy, for arrayed against them are the tyrannical First Men: the Black Sorcerer, the Sorcerer of Fatal Laughter, Lord Ruin, and the Sorcerer of Night—masters of magic and technology alike—the dreaded Sorcerers of Mars!

“The awesome array of talent assembled on this book really speaks for itself, and guarantees a fun time will be had by all,” promises Editor Van Allen Plexico. “Each of the writers jumped on the project with huge enthusiasm and each brought something unique and very exciting to the table. And there’s no question Chris Kohler, who is also interior artist on my Sentinels superhero novels, has done some of the best work of his career here with BLACKTHORN.”

Says noted New Pulp author Wayne Reinagel, “BLACKTHORN is one of the best sword-and-sorcery spaceman anthologies to arrive on Earth, or Mars, in the last century or more. Clearly inspired by an equal combination of Hanna-Barbera’s ‘Thundarr the Barbarian,’ DC Comics’ ‘Kamandi,’ and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ ‘John Carter of Mars,’ BLACKTHORN is an original, entertaining, action-packed saga.”

The Kindle edition presents all seven core stories in their entirety, including the double-length origin, along with two bonus stories not included in the upcoming trade paperback, plus Chris Kohler’s artwork—and all at the incredibly low price of only $2.99.

White Rocket Books is a leader in the New Pulp movement, publishing exciting action and adventure novels and anthologies since 2005, in both traditional and electronic formats. White Rocket books have hit the Amazon.com Top 15-by-Genre and have garnered praise from everyone from Marvel Comics Editor Tom Brevoort to Kirkus Reviews.

On sale as of November 28, 2011, BLACKTHORN: THUNDER ON MARS is a $2.99 e-book from White Rocket Books.

www.whiterocketbooks.com

On Amazon Kindle:
http://www.amazon.com/Blackthorn-Thunder-on-Mars-ebook/dp/B006FBRHG8
Promo video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRvtgCzEY6s

UNDERCOVER REVIEWS - Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurences

Review by Nick Ahlhelm

Among mainstream fantasy publishers, mixing steampunk with pulp themes has almost became run of the mill. Pyr Books alone has multiple series pitting dashing heroes against the steam-powered contraptions that litter steampunk adventure fiction. Not to be outdone, Harper Collins has its own offering from their Voyager line. Written by the podcasting duo of Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris (currently of “The Shared Desk”), Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel introduces readers to the ministry that gives the series its name.

Set in Victorian England, the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences is a secret division of the Queen’s many and varied federal agencies charged with handling the more oddball events that the government would prefer remain unknown to the general populace. The story focuses on two agents: Wellington Books, head of the Ministry’s Archives, and Eliza D. Braun, a care-free New Zealander whose (literally) explosive methods land her in the Archives as a form of punishment.

Of course, this is pulp, so it isn’t a book about two archivists archiving. A such, Braun soon begins to investigate the circumstances behind her former partner’s death. She quickly learns he discovered something large and very dangerous: a conspiracy among Britain’s top businessmen to overthrow the Queen’s government. As they continue their investigation, Braun stumbles upon a female assassin every bit her equal in skill. Eventually Braun’s stubbornness and Books’ gadgets allow the pair to track the conspirators to a secret conclave.

From beginning to end, Ballantine and Morris expertly balance exposition and character studies with huge action set pieces. The story starts strong with an exciting rescue, and every time the pace wanes, another threat appears to keep everything moving.

The novel moves so fast that the climax comes almost as a surprise. While a role reversal in the final pages sets up Books to finally get to play hero, it fails to quite live up to the battles that Braun wages through the rest of the novel.

Even with the somewhat sudden end to their adventure, Phoenix Rising accomplishes the task of being an exciting romp through a slightly different world than we remember. Phoenix Rising comes Recommended.

UNDERCOVER REVIEWS - Merkabah Rider

Review by Ron Fortier

MERKABAH RIDER
The Mensch With No Name
By Edward M. Erdelac
Damanation Books, LLC
218 pages

Perhaps the most popular sub-genre in the resurgence of new pulp fiction is that of the weird western. It seems everywhere one turns these days; another publisher is coming out with another anthology which combines the cowboy classic setting with all manner of bizarre and horrible trappings. None is more effective and original than Edward M. Erdelac’s Merkabh Rider series. In his first book, “Tales of a High Plains Drifter” we were introduced to the Rider, last of an order of Jewish mystics searching a demon infested west on the trail of his teacher, who betrayed and massacred the order known as the Sons of Essenes. In this second volume, the Rider’s travails continue through four new adventures.

In “The Infernal Napoleon”, the Rider finds himself in an out of the way watering hole used by freight haulers. Here, in this desolate way station he’s set upon by a vengeance seeking demonic dwarf who controls a satanic canon and is willing to destroy dozens of innocent lives to achieve his ends. But in all things, there is a balance and the aid of a young Samson-like strongman may tilt the odds in the Rider’s favor. The action is fast and brutal and sets the tone for the entire book.

Next is “The Damned Dingus.” During a train robbery by a group of dim witted varmints, the Rider’s unique Volcanic pistol is stolen. With the aid of the famous gunfighter, Doc Holiday, and an experienced deputy marshal, the Rider travels to an abandoned mine in the high country and encounters the savage menace of an invisible monster capable of ripping men and horses to pieces. What is it the creature is protecting and what is its connection to his old teacher’s twisted plans?

Leaving Arizona, the Rider learns he has been labeled a wanted outlaw with a bounty on his head. Fleeing into New Mexico, he encounters a band of Apaches battling an age old horror that dwells beneath the earth. Here Erdelac takes a page from H. P. Lovecrafts’ canon in using the evil Old Ones from beyond the stars as the threat and only the Rider and his arcane skills can free the territory of the vile and corrupted She-Demon in the episode called appropriately, “The Outlaw Gods.” Before it is finished, the Rider will have led an army of Spanish ghosts in an epic battle across the astral plane.

Finally, still assailed by Queen Lilith’s invisible sprites that are draining away his life essence, the Rider is found by Kabede; a Merkabah Rider from a secret Ethiopian sect of the Sons of Essenes. Kabede convinces the Rider that the answers to Adon’s diabolical plan, the meaning behind the so called Hour of Incursion, can only be answered by the Prince of Hell, Satan and they must travel to Hell in astral form. Erdelac’s depiction of the various levels of Gehena are as evocative as Milton’s own “Paradise Lost” and deftly combine Judeo/Christian tradition with other prehistoric myths. In the end, he weaves a complicated but amazing tapestry of mankind’s ongoing quest to explain the meaning of creation and the eternal conflict between faith and hopelessness. By the end of this final chapter, the Rider and his new companion have set into motion actions which will either lead to their defeat at the hands of Adon and his minions, or a miraculous victory against the forces of alien damnation. Calling this finale a cliffhanger is a major understatement.

“MERKABAH RIDER – The Mensch With No Name” is a terrific continuation of an exciting saga this reviewer imagines will culminate in a third and final volume. This is easily some of the finest western/horror/action writing on the market today and comes highly recommended. The Merkabah Rider is truly a pulp hero like no other.

Friday, November 25, 2011

UNDERCOVER REVIEWS - Return of the Monsters

Review by David Zuzelo

With the New Pulp assault from Moonstone Publications rolling out in fits and starts over the last year it is great to see some of these characters making an appearance at Halloween time just to create the ultra pulper mash up of famous monsters meet the heroes of yesterday in stories that look and feel as modern as today. 3 of the promised 4 books hit stands a few weeks ago and anyone seeking action and a bit of ghoulish pulp goulash should seek them out.

First off the pile was THE BLACK BAT and DEATH ANGEL VS. DRACULA. I see gun slinging men of mystery battling the Master Vampire and I get excited-what can I say? Written by New Pulp voice (and yes, one of the owners of this site) Mike Bullock and featuring art by Eric Johns-this is a fast paced tale that maximizes the idea of a one shot monster battle that doesn’t waste words or motion in creating a scenario that comes to a halt to quickly. The police are hunting for a serial killer that is putting the bite on prostitutes in the area and are quick to blame The Black Bat, because that is what people usually think bats would do. This brings the action to a costume party at Halloween that is in for a visit from Count Dracula, with the bonus that Johns gets to draw partygoers in other famous creature cooldom. Things take an unexpected turn for the Plasma Pounder as DEATH ANGEL shows up, with a bit of zeal and a spooky silhouette to crash the hemoglobin huffing hijinx! Dracula and Death Angel face off with the monster and the monstrous maiden each getting there moment in the black spotlight of cool. But can Death Angel, who still has lots to learn and thousands of sinners to stop before stepping into the realm of the famous monsters, really compete with Dracula?

Nope.

Enter Black Bat who brings pistols and enough pugnacity to drive away Dracula. But can you ever really destroy the Prince of Plasma? Nah… but you can stop him and live to fight another day.
I enjoyed this issue a lot, though I was definitely surprised to see so little of The Black Bat here. He really cameos as the Pulper Ex Machina to give Death Angel a boost, and to point out that she is a true NEW Pulp hero in need of seasoning from the pros. Personally, I really enjoy Death Angel and have made sure to pick up all of the appearances of the character. Bullock has a great knack for pulp dialog and pacing, which has been proven in the handling of many characters with long histories such as The Phantom—but Death Angel feels different and utterly unique to him as a writer. The civilian identity of the psychotronic suit wearing character, Rebekah, is definitely off the pulpin’ path, and more interesting because of it. Every appearance seems to bring some new character dimension, and Bullock deftly crafts in a moment with Dracula that gives a nice logline about this bizarre looking hero for new readers. The story is swift, and while not exactly deep thinking-neither is trick or treating while dodging the house that puts razor blades in the apples!

The art by Eric Johns is straight to the point. The action has good flow from panel to panel and the page turns are particularly strong. Death Angel looks a little cleaner than usual-and it is fun to see the characters mask so clearly delineated. His Dracula is a cool customer and I was really impressed by a stairway spiral chase sequence that puts the weird firmly on Death Angel. That is another thing I like about this character, especially the visual design. I don’t think you are going to find villains that out bizarre this heroine!

Recommended as a standalone story and a way to find familiar ground to meet a New Pulp legend in the making, The Black Bat and Death Angel Vs. Dracula is a fun short story to spend the night with.

Up next…a Domino Lady adventure! Mummy Mania swept over me and away we go!

DOMINO LADY VS. THE MUMMY takes Moonstone’s version of the classic High Class Dame and Pulp Detective and uses her to great effect in a different kind of tale. The sleuthery is a bit slippery, but it serves its purpose to unravel a sticky tale of Hollywood horror blended told in classic B-Movie style.

Domino Lady is drawn into action as her heart leads her to help out Mad Dog Vernia, her detective pal that spends most of his time longing and a little time romancing the Madame of Mystery. While searching for a shooter she stumbles on a stranger set of circumstances. It seems there are chunks of people that are gone missing. A big star (Johnny Weisman-star of Ki-Gor! I know you get it) is going to have a hard time singing and a big time chef is missing his favorite food repository. Since we know there is a Mummy a’ shuffle thanks to Dan Brereton’s cover, it doesn’t take long until we realize that things are about to get monstrous. And they do! And there is romance too! A perfect pulp tale really.

Nancy Holder and Bobby Nash pull off a double threat here, managing to set the scene well and pace out the monster action to a point that makes sense given the setting and characters. Domino Lady also narrates and I sometimes find that a tough trick to read if not done well. Not a problem for this team, DL sounds spot on and even gets to confront her usual issues of men and the multiple relationships of a masked lady really well.

Rock Baker’s art is really nice, I’m glad to see these in black and white for this issue especially. Domino Lady gets some hubba hubba shots of course, but they all come packed with extra character instead of bulbous bosoms alone. The flowing panel layout is nicely done and reminds me of the kind of Golden Age story this should be. Not overdone and not trying to capture nostalgia, just well designed sequential storytelling. Its cheesecake when you dig out the garters, but if that cheesecake has a tasty filling, then I’m all in!

This issue is meaty and feels like a complete, dare I say, EGYPTIAN FEAST. H.G. Lewis would be proud and I kept wanting to shout “It’s sexy MONTAG lady…she’s doing it!!” Buy this.

And finally, the one I’d been waiting for the most! THE SPIDER VERSUS THE WEREWOLF! And it delivers the kind of Spider story that is truly worthy of the character. Honestly, I think Moonstone has done the best of all its licenses with The Spider. They don’t have the body of work that The Phantom received, but if it does it will be just as great a way of keeping classic characters on our newsstands here in America. Martin Powell has a firm grasp on what makes the character work and can seemingly spin new stories out with either an ease that is almost fearful, or with such attention to craft that it is an inspiration. Or both. Probably both. Yeah… both.

Opening on an interesting note, we meet a young Wentworth doing battle in the Black Forest during World War 1. The Spider is already manifesting itself through him at this point as he vanquishes and marks a number of enemy soldiers-only to be confronted by monsters that are as strong as The Spider. He may be a master of men, but beasts? We’ll see.

Skipping forward to his present day, Wentworth and Nita are tearing things up as usual for The Spider when an old comrade in arms shows up with a grim mission in mind. It seems that a monster is stalking the city and Kirkpatrick is ready to call in Wentworth-a peril so deadly that he must summon the man he calls friend and still believes to be The Spider? This is bad! And that is a great element in the story. A moment that is perfect for fans of the characters and not intrusive to newcomers, welcoming pulp readers and New Pulp fans equally. Of course, the fur and fangs fly and The Spider must face down his friend…and foe!

The cast of The Spider make great appearances here thanks to Powell’s writing. I was most impressed by the way Nita takes an active role, as she does in many of the best tales, and Wentworth gets to show his savage side in some nice bits while the story reflects back the monstrous nature he embraces as he battles evil. Ram Singh even gets a nice bit of action this time around. This is good storytelling in a one shot comic that will leave you wanting to be sure you have the other Spider installments as soon as possible.

Loaded with character development with an especially great use of the utterly non-standard femme du pulp Nita (watch for her great moment where she tries to steer a werewolf away from people to protect the public from the furry menace)—enjoyable top to bottom, this Spider satisfies and leaves me hoping that we’ll see a sequel.

The art by Jay Piscopo is fantastic as well. Disclosure time, I have done a little work with Jay and looked at many of his drawings (even making a point to dress my children in his designs)-so I’ll leave it at this. I believe in Jay Piscopo and his artwork. It is unique in a medium where rules seem to be generated by public demand. Jay doesn’t play by that. Golden Age inspirations are just a start both in his designs and layouts. This book is one of the best things I’ve seen him do. The characters bear his trademark looks that do justice to what has come before without bowing to keeping things status quo.

So, I love the guys work-and you won’t be let down here. ‘Nuff Said.

So, the Moonstone Return of the Monsters has been a fun selection of books to read and enjoy and gives me hope that a full on line of books from the company will be on my shelves on a weekly basis soon. If your retailer doesn’t stock these, buy them direct and bring them down to the shop and ask why they aren’t there. Quality products deserve a wide audience. These are quality.

Universal Pulp! - by Win Scott Eckert

In the course of normal events, a variety of esteemed authors, journalists and others on the fringe of the pulp event horizon have expressed an interest in providing guest columns for this site. Going forward, those columns will appear under the heading "Universal Pulp!" a brand new column with a rotating cast of authors. Who better to provide the maiden voyage of such a column than Win Scott Eckert, a man known for bringing a variety of seemingly unrelated characters together in a cohesive, compelling manner. So, without further adieu, New Pulp Fiction.com is proud to present, the first Universal Pulp!

UNIVERSAL PULP! - Point of View - Why Do I Care?


In the course of editing several Green Hornet books for Moonstone Books (as well as churning out a series of action-adventure tales for Moonstone, Black Coat Press, etc.), I've found that one of the hardest concepts to identify, adhere to, and explain to others is Point of View.

I should start by noting that many different types of POV are acceptable, depending on what the writer is trying to achieve, and the scope of the story being told. However, for short, driving, action-oriented stories with a modern pulp sensibility, I feel strongly that a third-person subjective/third-person limited POV works best, and from an editorial perspective this is the feedback and direction I provide. I've also noticed that other writer/editors whom I greatly respect, such as Christopher Paul CareyMatthew Baugh, and Howard Hopkins, seem to be in alignment with this perspective (although I am not presuming to speak for them here).

(As an aside, there are some writers incorrectly think that proofreading is the same thing as editorial feedback, and since their spouse/mother/brother/best friend is an excellent proofreader, they really don't need to hear anything more from me or any other editor regarding their golden prose. But I digress; that's a diatribe for another time and place.)

Matthew has provided a great link to Wordplayer.com which discusses POV from a screenwriting perspective, but is also instructive for prose.


I can't believe I'm going to quote Wikipedia, but the Narrative Mode section which discusses third-person subjective/third-person limited POV is helpful.

Third-person, subjective

The third-person subjective is when the narrator conveys the thoughts, feelings, opinions, etc. of one or more characters. If it is just one character, it can be termed third-person limited, in which the reader is "limited" to the thoughts of some particular character (often the protagonist) as in the first-person mode (though still giving personal descriptions using "he", "she", "it", and "they", but not "I"). This is almost always the main character—e.g., Gabriel in Joyce's The DeadNathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown, or the elderly fisherman in Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. Certain third-person omniscient modes are also classifiable as "third person, subjective" modes that switch between the thoughts, feelings, etc. of all the characters.

This style, in both its limited and omniscient variants, became the most popular narrative perspective during the twentieth century. In contrast to the broad, sweeping perspectives seen in many nineteenth-century novels, third-person subjective is sometimes called the "over the shoulder" perspective; the narrator only describes events perceived and information known by a character. At its narrowest and most subjective scope, the story reads as though the viewpoint character were narrating it; dramatically this is very similar to the first person, in that it allows in-depth revelation of the protagonist's personality, but it uses third-person grammar. Some writers will shift perspective from one viewpoint character to another.

The focal characterprotagonistantagonist, or some other character's thoughts are revealed through the narrator. The reader learns the events of the narrative through the perceptions of the chosen character.

In our storytelling, through the use of  third-person subjective, the reader is "limited" to the thoughts of some particular character. Perspective can shift from one viewpoint character to another, but when that happens, a scene break should be inserted. POV can alter scene-by-scene (one scene from The Green Hornet's POV, the next from Mike Axford's, the next from the criminal's POV, then back to The Green Hornet, or Kato, etc.), but mixing POV within a scene should be avoided. This is a matter of style, but one I consider to be very important and to which I hold writers during the editing/revision process.


My novel The Evil in Pemberley House (written with Philip Jose Farmer) is truly a third-person limited novel. There are no scenes, absolutely none, that are not told from Patricia Wildman's POV. In strict third-person limited, a novel or story could actually be (re)written in first person and it would work.

Expanding on that thought, regarding third-person subjective (i.e. multiple character POVs, each of them in third-person limited, with scene breaks, as I've described above), each scene could hypothetically be rewritten as a first person scene for that character. The result would be an odd story and I don't suggest anyone actually do this, but as a self-editing experiment (and everyone does extensive self-editing before sending a first draft to your editor... right?), you can see that if a scene is rewritten in first person, that first person narrator would never narrate events about which he or she is not, or cannot be, aware. The same thing therefore applies to writing that same character in a third-person subjective (and/or third-person limited) POV.

A simple way to conduct self-editing for POV violations before blissfully attaching your first draft to your editor and clicking "send" is to read a scene aloud to yourself, substituting first person "I" for for your third-person subjective "s/he" POV character. If the character narrates something they do not, or cannot, know about, then you've got a POV violation.

Once you get a handle on this (and I certainly can't claim to have "mastered" it; writers, experienced and inexperienced, violate POV on a regular basis), POV violations will jump out at you all over the place in your reading, and will drive you nuts. I am loathe to go back and read any of my early Tales of the Shadowmen stories, before I began to grasp POV, for fear of tossing them aside in disgust.

Or being compelled, in a very OCD way, to immediately rewrite and revise them!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Press Release - MOONSTONE LAUNCHES NEWS SITE

Moonstone Books, a leading publisher in the New Pulp movement, has recently launched the all-new Moonstone News Site, where readers can comment on articles and interact with others who share their passions for the work produced by the folks at Moonstone.


Bookmark the Moonstone News site for the latest news, solicitations, release information, interviews, book reviews and more.

Moonstone Books was founded in the late 1990s to provide a home to new and classic tales of speculative fiction. Over the years, Moonstone has carved a niche for itself in the comic book and prose worlds with properties such as Kolchak the Nightstalker, The Phantom, Buckaroo Banzai, The Spider, Domino Lady, Justice Machine, Honey West, Rotten, The Saint, The Avenger, Doc Savage, Sheena, The Lone Ranger, Green Hornet, Zorro and many more.

Press Release - ROBIN HOOD: ARROW OF JUSTICE

THE SAGA CONTINUES

Airship 27 Productions & Cornerstone Book Publishers are happy to announce the release of I.A.Watson’s second book in his new retelling of the classic Robin Hood legend.

In book one of this series, “Robin Hood, King of Sherwood,” award winning author Ian Watson introduced the classic outlaw hero from British lore in a fresh and exciting new way. We learned of a carefree youth suddenly cast into the role of hero to save his people from the cruel and sadistic tyranny of Prince John, left to rule over the kingdom while his brother, Richard the Lionheart traveled to the Holy Lands to fight in the Third Crusade.

Suffering under unbearable taxation, the people suffered daily until the brash young outlaw, Robin of Loxley, at the goading of a lovely young maid, stepped forth to challenge this illegal oppression and restore true justice to the land. In this second chapter his daring robberies of the jaded gentry have stirred the ire of the Sheriff of Nottingham and his allies. A devious plot is hatched in the guise of an archery contest to lure the daring Robin Hood within the city limits and there trap him. Once more Ian Watson spins a tale of action and adventure steeped in rich historical lore as he relates perhaps the most reckless of the Robin’s famed exploits. Can the King of Sherwood, aided by his loyal band of rogues, claim the prized Golden Arrow or will the walls of Nottingham become his tomb?

Robin Hood, Arrow of Justice is another rollicking grand adventure that continues this innovative and wonderful retelling of a truly classic legend loved by millions. This volume once again spotlights a gorgeous painted cover by Pulp Factory Award Winning recipient Mike Manley, with interior illustrations and designs by Art Director Rob Davis. Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to return to Sherwood Forest in;

Robin Hood; Arrow of Justice

This is the tenth release of 2011 for the popular pulp production outfit and their 43rd catalog title. “It’s been a remarkable year,” said Editor Ron Fortier, “and we’re thrilled to be ending in on such a high note.”

Airship 27 Productions; Pulps For a New Generation!


ISBN: 1-613420-27-7
ISBN-13: 978-1-61342-027-0
Produced by Airship 27
Published by Cornerstone Book Publishers

Release date: 12/07/2011
Retail Price: $16.95
$3 digital PDF Available Now.
(http://homepage.mac.com/robmdavis/Airship27Hangar/index.html)

Table Talk - Get to Work!


On the eve of Thanksgiving, Barry Reese, Bobby Nash and Mike Bullock discuss how they lay out their work schedules and the little things that go into writing many people who don't write don't get.

Question (Barry): A lot of people don't realize that writing is work. How do you go about the writing process? Do you try and write during the same time of day, every day? Do you aim for a specific word count?

Mike: A lot of it's a moving target for me that greatly depends on what I'm working on. I used to have a very streamlined, structured work process that was very efficient. Now, with the changing economic landscape, the jobs have changed and how I approach them has had to adapt as well.

When all I was doing was comic scripts, I'd get up early and start working on it before the sun rose and work until I was done. Now that I'm doing a wider variety of things, the process has become much more fluid. In some cases, where I'm writing for someone else (as with Joe Palooka and Fiefdom of Angels) I hit a point where I need the input of the property owner before I can proceed. With my own prose stuff, that often seems to flow the best in those times where I'm waiting for someone else so I can work the 'work-for-hire' stuff.

As for the word count, that's greatly dictated by the work itself, for me at least. Like my prose novels need to land in the 60,000 word range. The shorts range from 2,000-15,000 words. My column over at Broken Frontier usually falls just under 1,000 words. And word count is fairly meaningless with comic scripts, so that's more dictated by page count.

Chances are, there's a better way, but I'm just not smart enough to find it [laughs].

Barry: I write whenever I get the chance, squeezing it in between my day job, my marriage, spending time with my son, etc. I’d love to be able to say I write every day from 8 am until… but that’s not gonna happen. I just keep adding words to the page until I manage to get it all finished. I usually listen to music when I write – I like songs that move, that have some momentum to me. Keeps my fingertips dancing across the keyboard!

Bobby: I am constantly amazed by how many people I know or meet are surprised how much time is spent writing. My favorite comment was about writing comic scripts. “How hard is it to write Spider-man saying ‘ungh!’ after Doc Ock hits him?” Sure. It’s not a lot of dialogue, but the reader also doesn’t see the panel descriptions written for the artists. There are a lot of facets that go into writing. With comic books you have to plan for page turn reveals, pacing, panels per page, etc. With novels and short stories word count is important. If you’re hired to write a 10,000 word story then that’s what you have to write. If you can’t make your story fit that word count then you’re not getting the job done.

I’d like to say that I follow a strict schedule that never wavers, but I’d be lying. I do try to write at the same time, but it doesn’t always work that way. When I’m busy and my schedule is full, like it is now, I’m a bit more rigid and make sure I work every day. When things are not as busy I sometimes take a day off.

Another aspect of being a writer includes what I call non-writing time. In addition to things like plotting, outlining, and research, there are other things I have to do that are part of the job. Writing press releases, responding to fan mail/inquiries, networking with book stores, comic shops, and libraries about carrying your books or setting up book signings, setting up convention appearances, social networking for promotion, working on columns like this one or the articles I do for All Pulp and Earth Station One, and the list goes on. Each of these are important parts of my job, but at the end of the day they don’t count toward my word count.

Mike: Those are all really good points, Bobby. I always find myself wincing when I hear someone talk about story creation as if it's making a sandwich or something mundane and easy; more so with artwork, as I really detest watching an artist have to redo work. But, I also cringe when someone thinks I can just change something in a story quickly and easily, not realizing that pulling one thread out often unravels the entire fabric of the tale.

Bobby: Exactly. I once had an artist tell me that he wanted to make a splash page into a double page spread and couldn’t understand why I was against such a thing. I had to explain that adding a page eliminated all of the page turn reveals I’d put in place. They would no longer be on the correct page. And then there’s set up. If Character X is going to pick up an ax on page 10 to defend himself against an attacker, we need to see that ax before page 10. Of course, if the ax doesn’t show up in the art you have to get creative, but you have to plan for more than just the character’s dialogue.

Barry: I agree that the non-writing writing stuff keeps me pretty busy. Answering emails, setting up new projects, editing, doing promo appearances – they all conspire against me actually writing new stuff! I just try and tell myself that it’s all part of the dream: I wanted to be a writer. I’m a writer. So now I have to explain for the ten thousandth time who The Rook is and how I came up with him to someone who’s never read the material (laughs).

Bobby: Exactly. There’s a lot of writing that we, as writers, do that is never seen by the reader, but is still important to the process of writing.

Mike: Absolutely. It's funny when I tell people I know Joey's (from Lions, Tigers and Bears) favorite food, his favorite football team, etc. All the little details you need to create to make the character "real" that may or may not ever show up in an actual story.

Barry: Oh yeah, when you factor in all the prep work, too - outlining, researching and creating back story (and there's always plenty of that that never makes it onto the page), that's even more time that's eaten up.

But it's a great "problem" to have [laughs].
Bobby: How do you guys balance the writing and non-writing parts of the job? One of the problems I run into is sometimes the non-writing parts can sometimes take up a full day. How do you know when to say enough’s enough and get back to writing?

Mike: For me, it's just a lot of ebb and flow. I have so many things to work on that I can just go with what seems to flow at that particular point in time. Some mornings I dig working on the websites, posting on Facebook etc. Other mornings, I just want to dive right into writing. So, I kind of just let my muse take the wheel. Granted there are times when that doesn't work out, but more often than not, it does.

Barry: Yeah, it's kind of like Mike says. I try to write every day but I don't stress if some days it's only a few hundred words - especially if I'm accomplishing things in other ways (promo stuff, updating my website, etc.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Press Release - DICK TURPIN, THE LEGENDARY LAWBREAKER, COMES TO COMICS!

Publisher Mohawk Media has today announced the release of a preview issue of its upcoming project, starring history’s most notorious masked highwayman, Dick Turpin.

This issue is available exclusively via the publisher’s groundbreaking line of paperless Eco Comics.

Writer Chris Bunting says: “It’s every writer’s dream to write such a famous, or should I say, infamous character as Dick Turpin. His multi-layered, unpredictable nature makes for great drama. Expect some startling revelations about the life of this legendary lawbreaker.

“Turpin lived at a time when England was more like the Wild West, and criminals faced the death penalty at the gallows. Highwaymen led a very exciting life but often a very short one.

“This 18th Century swashbuckling firebrand was born to be a 21st Century complex comic book character. Dick Turpin’s return is a case of perfect timing.”

The digital and paperless Dick Turpin: Pencil-Only Preview features pencil-art from the first instalment of the upcoming title.

Editor Stuart Buckley explains: “This format allows the reader the opportunity to see Dick Turpin ride again in the untouched, gorgeous art of Salvador Velázquez.

“The creative team gives us a taste of what is to come: forget stuffy historical fiction, this is a comic book cocktail of action-adventure and mystery-thriller featuring one of Britain’s, if not the world’s, most recognisable rogues.

“With his mask and famous steed, Turpin has been the archetype for many highwaymen and outlaws: even the Lone Ranger bears remarkable parallels.”

Dick Turpin: Pencil-Only Preview is a 16-page issue featuring lettered pencil art only, and is available now in various digital formats via the Eco Comics store: www.mohawkmedia.co.uk/ecocomics for $1.95 (approximately £1.20).

Further details on the Dick Turpin project are due to be announced.

Monday, November 21, 2011

PULPTACULAR | Hard Case Crime



“You can’t judge a book by its cover,” they say. This is of course ridiculous. We do it all the time. At least, I do. And most of my friends. It’s what covers are for.

If the saying were, “You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover,” I’d be on board. I’ve bought plenty of books based on something communicated by the cover only to be disappointed that the story didn't match. And I don’t doubt that I’ve missed out on some quality literature because I couldn’t get past an awful cover.

Hard Case Crime understands the importance of great cover art. That doesn’t make them unique in the New Pulp world (Age of Aces and Altus come to mind as other publishers with especially strong covers) and it’s certainly not the only thing that Hard Case does right. But it is the first thing I noticed about them when they started publishing in 2004. Their covers are original creations that recapture the excitement and flair of the lurid pulp paperbacks of the mid-twentieth century.

The second thing I noticed was their authors. There were plenty of new names on Hard Case’s books, but there were also folks like Stephen King, Robert Bloch, and Max Allan Collins. And before long, even some of those new names – Christa Faust immediately springs to mind – became familiar based on the strength of their stories. Hard Case quickly became a publisher I was interested in following, even if their output was more prolific than I could keep up with.

Early titles that caught my attention were Stephen King’s The Colorado Kid, John Lange’s Grave Descend (about treasure hunters and murder off the coast of Jamaica), and Christa Faust’s Money Shot (in which a porn star tracks down the killers who shot her and left her for dead in the trunk of a car). And then there’s the Gabriel Hunt series about an Indiana Jones-like, globe-trotting explorer.

Any of those would make great places to start, but as usual I wanted to get the publisher’s perspective on his books and where to dig in. I talked to co-founder Charles Adlard about it.

Michael: What led you to start Hard Case Crime?

Charles: My friend Max [Phillips] and I loved the old paperback crime novels of the 1940s and ‘50s and ‘60s, but no one was publishing books that looked (or read) like that anymore in 2001. Which meant there were no new ones for us to read and also that, as novelists, we didn’t have the chance to write books like that and see them published in that format. So over drinks one night we asked each other, “Why don’t we just start a line of our own?” It was a crazy idea and should by all rights have vanished when we’d sobered up the next day, but it didn’t, and here we are, a decade and seventy-some-odd books later.

Michael: What differentiates you from other pulp-inspired publishers?

Charles: Well, we came first, for one thing. I mean, obviously the original pulp houses came first first: Dell, Signet, Pocket Library, Graphic, Lion, Avon, Gold Medal. And then there was Black Lizard in the 1980s. But after Black Lizard sold out to Vintage and got all arty and sophisticated (and pared back their line to just the big canonical writers), there was no one for two decades doing the kind of publishing we wanted to do. Hard Case Crime led the new pulp revival in many ways. Apart from that, we were the only house putting books out in the classic, mass-market format (although we have since expanded into trade-paperbacks and hardcovers), and we were the only ones commissioning brand new cover paintings in the classic style by artists of the caliber of Robert McGinnis and Glen Orbik and Greg Manchess. Not every one of our covers has been solid gold, but we’re proud of how well most of them have come out, and we think they’re a real asset that other pulp houses generally don’t have.

We also tend to reach a larger readership. We put out more than one million copies of the book Stephen King wrote for us, for instance. Of course, the rest of our books didn’t sell anywhere near that level, but where some of the smaller pulp houses might sell a few hundred or a few thousand copies of a given title, we might sell ten times as many. That doesn’t mean our books are better than theirs, but it does mean they reach more readers.

Michael: Where did the name Hard Case come from?

Charles: We were originally going to call the line “Kingpin Crime,” but the day before we went to register the trademark, Aaron Spelling grabbed it for a short-lived TV series he did about a drug kingpin. So that name was out. We came up with a long list of alternatives and Hard Case Crime was the one we liked best. But Max had already drawn the logo by then and we liked it, so we kept it even though it no longer made as much sense with the new name. The crown above the gun was there because of “Kingpin.”

Michael: Which one Hard Case title do you recommend for someone who’s never read one of your books?

Charles: Oh, there are so many possible starting points! You could start with a book by one of our most prolific authors, such as Lawrence Block (maybe the book that kicked off our whole line, Grifter’s Game), or Donald Westlake (maybe his Richard Stark title, Lemons Never Lie), or Max Allan Collins (maybe his brand new collaboration with Mickey Spillane, The Consummata). Or maybe you’d start with one of our books that have won awards – maybe Domenic Stansberry’s The Confession, which won the Edgar, or maybe Max’s book Fade to Blonde or my own “Richard Aleas” title, Songs of Innocence, both of which won the Shamus. But you know what? The title of ours that pretty much always works – the one that everyone who reads it loves – is Charles Williams’ A Touch of Death. That’s just a sure-fire winner. So maybe I’d start there.

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

Charles: Well, they’re certainly not going to go wrong with the limited, but very high quality, selection that Vintage still puts out under the Black Lizard name: Chandler, Hammett, Cain, Ross Macdonald. Or if you like one of our books you might hunt down other titles by the same authors. You liked our Lawrence Block books? Pick up his Matt Scudder books from Morrow and Mulholland – they’re outstanding. You liked Lemons Never Lie? University of Chicago Press has a whole line of the other Richard Stark books. Another choice, of course, is to start tracking down copies of the actual old paperbacks from the ‘40s and ‘50s on eBay and AbeBooks, but that way lies collecting madness…

Thanks so much to Charles for talking to me. Time to get reading!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Press Release - SEQUENTIAL PULP UNLEASHES THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF!


Art: Steven Gordon

Sequential Pulp Comics has released promo art for their 2012 release, CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF OF PARIS by Steven Gordon. The graphic novel is scripted by Mark Ellis and will be available in 2012 from Dark Horse Comics' Sequential Pulp Comics imprint.

You can learn more about Sequential Pulp Comics at http://www.sequentialpulpcomics.com/.
You can learn more about Dark Horse Comics at http://www.darkhorse.com/.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Under Cover Reviews - HARDLUCK HANNIGAN - THE GOLDEN SCORPION

PULP FICTION REVIEWS by Ron Fortier
The Fantastic Adventures of HARDLUCK HANNIGAN-The Golden Scorpion
By Bill Craig
Cover by Laura Givens

Ever since starting this column, I’ve reviewed many small independent books but all of them were in one fashion or another associated with either a publishing group or writers’ organization. They all had ISBN numbers, a website or link as to where their books could be purchased. Bill Craig’s offering here has neither, no ISBN, no website address and no page numbering. I can’t even tell you how many pages there are in this great little book.  This book exemplifies self-publishing to the maximum understanding of that process.  This book was written, assembled and printed by Bill Craig. Happily, I’m informed that all of Craig’s books are available at Amazon.

Despite the book’s amateurish production values, Craig is really a very competent writer who excels at fast paced action.  He is most assuredly a new pulp writer worthy of your attention and one of the most prolific working today.  The Hardluck Hannigan series is only one of several he has invented and continues to pump out at a rather remarkable rate.  Understand, Craig’s purple prose is masculine and he wastes no time jumping into each book’s plot with little fanfare as to who these characters are or where they’ve been up to this point in their lives.

The Golden Scorpion opens with Michael Hardluck Hannigan in Cairo having just completed an adventure in Africa.  At the bequest of his Russian buddy, Gregor Shotsky, they go to meet an unscrupulous dealer in antiquities who has information on the whereabouts of an ancient mystical artifact known as the Golden Scorpion.  The Golden Scorpion supposedly is a powerful arcane weapon of some kind said to be buried deep in the sands of the Sahara.  Within minutes of meeting this fellow, Hannigan and Gregor are attacked by Tureg warriors, the merchant is killed and they escape with their lives and a new ally, a lovely American secret agent named Chas Ridings.

As I said before, the action never lets up and all too quickly we learn Hannigan is being pursued by a secret cult of dessert warriors, a Chinese master criminal and members of the Illuminati based in England.  A great deal of Craig’s writing is reminiscent of Lester Dent’s classic Doc Savage stories in that Hannigan seems to be always accompanied by an eclectic group of aides made up of assassins, soldiers of fortune and brilliant scientists answering the siren song of adventure.  Throughout their madcap race across the burning sands, battling both human and inhuman foes, Hannigan and company press on while Craig occasionally drops information concerning their previous exploits that led to their current predicament.  It is both frustrating and intriguing at the same time.

The Golden Scorpion is a quick read that left me wanting a whole lot more.  If you haven’t heard of Bill Craig before, then you need to remedy that. He’s a damn awesome pulp writer who knows how to spin a yarn.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NEW AND CLASSIC PULP JOIN FORCES!

Two pulp publishers join forces to bring fans more and more of the stories they love!

Altus Press, the foremost publisher in quality pulp reprints as well as the publisher of THE WILD ADVENTURES OF DOC SAVAGE and Pro Se Productions, one of the leading companies in the New Pulp Movement announce today a cooperative effort and imprint to provide even more Pulp Fiction, both classic and New, to diehard fans of Pulp or simply exciting adventure fiction!


Beginning in February, Altus Press and Pro Se Productions will work in conjunction to produce related products. When Altus Press publishes specially selected titles featuring rare and largely forgotten Pulp characters’ original stories, Pro Se will bring together the best writers of New Pulp today and simultaneously release a collection of newly written tales starring the same character. This stunning partnership will showcase both the classic adventures of some of pulp's lost treasures while simultaneously allowing New Pulp's finest to bring those characters back to life.

“For a long time, I thought there was a good opportunity to simultaneously release classic pulp reprints and a companion volume of new stories featuring that same character. These are solid, well-rounded characters who have tons of untapped potential. I'm glad to see there are plans afoot to take advantage of this and utilize two companies' joint promotions towards a common complimentary product,” notes Altus Press' Publisher Matt Moring.

This is,” said Tommy Hancock, Partner in and Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, “an honor and privilege for both me personally and Pro Se.   Working with Matt and Altus Press to provide complimentary material to the great work he is already doing is simply a good move forward for Pro Se.  And I am such a fan of the obscure, lesser known, even totally forgotten characters of Pulp that this project is already one of my favorites and it’s just a few days old.”

Beginning with the first cooperative publication in February, Pro Se will initiate a new imprint.  PULP OBSCURA will be the title of the line and will feature a logo and other graphics highlighting the relationship between Pro Se and Altus Press.  Both companies will provide various forms of cross promotion as well for the complimentary releases.

“Pro Se,” Hancock commented, “has largely stayed out of the Public Domain market as far as New Pulp goes because many publishers are doing the better known characters and doing them well.  We’ve been looking for something different, something that makes Pro Se distinctive in this field.  PULP OBSCURA, shining the talent of writers and creators on the little or completely unknown heroes and villains of Classic Pulp, makes that distinction.”

Pro Se Press will publish a New Pulp collection each time Altus Press produces a new reprint collection that both companies consider appropriate for the PULP OBSCURA treatment.  Pro Se, with the encouragement of Altus Press, will also be exploring Altus Press’ catalog and be publishing New Pulp collections of previously published reprints that will have no future volumes.

The first PULP OBSCURA related project will be THE COMPLETE ADVENTURES OF RICHARD KNIGHT VOLUME ONE written by Donald E. Keyhoe to be released from Altus Press in February. Best known for writing the adventures of Philip Strange, UFO legend Donald E. Keyhoe also wrote another long-running aerial hero for the pages of FLYING ACES: Richard Knight. This collection will include the first four stories from this series, tales that mix in elements of lost races, dinosaurs and more!

Also in February, Pro Se will simultaneously release THE NEW ADVENTURES OF RICHARD KNIGHT VOLUME ONE as the debut title in its Pulp Obscura line.   Based on the stories included in Altus Press’ volume, six writers will write Knight as he wings into all new dangers, startling mysteries, and discoveries that may very well change the world!

The writers featured in this first collection are-
Terry Alexander - A member of multiple writers groups. Primarily a horror writer, Published in several anthologies from Static Movement, Open Casket Press, Living Dead Press, Knightwatch Press, May December Publications, Paper Cut Publishing, Moonstone Books and Mini Komix.

Barry Reese-Award winning New Pulp Author known for his characters THE ROOK and LAZARUS GRAY as well as being one of the most talented and prolific writers in New Pulp today.  Published by Marvel Comics, Wild Cat Books, Airship 27 Productions, Moonstone, Pro Se, and more.  Also Author of GREEN HORNET and AVENGER tales published by Moonstone

Adam L. Garcia-Author of the Award winning GREEN LAMA UNBOUND and other works centered around the Lama, including short stories, more novels, and audio scripts.  Also Author and Creator of other characters, including DOCK DOYLE.

Ian Watson-Award winning Author, known thus far for his work primarily with Airship 27 Productions.  Writer of tales in SHERLOCK HOLMES, CONSULTING DETECTIVE and GIDEON CAIN.  Also Author of the well received critically acclaimed novel ROBIN HOOD-KING OF SHERWOOD.

Frank Schildiner-Pulp Author known for work with Airship 27 on characters such as THE BLACK BAT, RAVENWOOD, and SECRET AGENT X and with Black Coat Press on such concepts as THE TOFF and JEAN KARIVEN as well as stories for Nemo Publishing.  Currently developing a novel for Pro Se Productions.

Joshua Reynolds- Author known for multiple works, including stories centered around classic Pulp character JIM ANTHONY for Airship 27 and DRACULA for his own PulpWork Press.  Also an Author for The Black Library as well having been published by Pro Se Press, Innsmouth Press, and countless others.  Considered one of the fastest, most consistent and prolific Authors in the New Pulp field.

Other PULP OBSCURA collections are currently in the works and any writers or artists interested in being a part of these projects can email Hancock at proseproductions@earthlink.net for submission details. Both Moring and Hancock cite a massive list of works coming in the near future starring Classic Pulp Characters in both Reprints and New Pulp Collections. “I'm excited to see just how new Authors take to these characters and what they come up with. There are so many forgotten characters that the possibilities are endless,” Moring comments.

For more information on Altus Press, go to www.altuspress.com.  To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to www.prosepulp.com.