Monday, February 6, 2012


It’s difficult for me to talk about Moonstone Books objectively. Nowadays there are several comic book companies publishing pulp-inspired or related series, but Moonstone’s been around a long time and was the first I became aware of. At a time when I was getting bored with Marvel and DC superheroes (I tend to do that in cycles), I started looking around for new heroes to read about and discovered Moonstone. At the time they were publishing detective stories like Pat Novak, Westerns like Belle Starr, and were just starting their new Phantom series. I was hooked and the company’s become no less interesting over time. Though the exact line-up of characters and series has changed, Moonstone’s focus on heroic fiction through a variety of genres hasn’t. They continue publishing stories about classic characters like Airboy and Honey West, while also collecting some of their back stock into hardcovers. Kolchak, the Lone Ranger, and the jungle girl series Savage Beauty are all getting this deluxe treatment in the coming months.

In addition to comics, Moonstone also publishes prose, doing especially well with character anthologies featuring heroes like The Avenger, The Green Hornet, and even Zorro. I talked to Moonstone’s founder and editor Joe Gentile about the company and its place in the world of New Pulp.

Michael May: What’s the short history of Moonstone? What was missing in the publishing world that you wanted to provide?

Joe Gentile: GAH! Well, the basic history is that Moonstone arose from the ashes of a company that never got off the ground. There were just too many projects that didn’t have a home. Our goal was and is to publish stories that are meant to be read. We wanted to bring properties that appealed to those who left comics behind, or who never were into comics at all. And to some extent, I think we have done that...but it’s a never-ending quest.

Michael: What differentiates Moonstone’s books from those published by other New Pulp publishers?

Joe: Well there are some obvious differences. Moonstone has many licensed pulp characters; others do not. That’s not meant as a slam, it’s just one, obvious difference.

And our goal was to showcase these great characters, keeping as much of their original characteristics intact as we could, but writing the stories with today’s writing sensibilities. Yes, we write pulp stories, but we also strive for well-written tales; to further show what adventure fiction can be.

Man, that sounds a little high-brow, but it’s just that we want today’s readers to read our stories, as well as the readers who are already familiar with the characters. We don’t feel we would have as many new readers if we focused purely on writing how these stories were written in the day. Readers are much more sophisticated today.

Michael: Where did the name Moonstone come from?

Joe: A fun car ride with Moonstone’s Dave Ulanksi and Rafael Nieves. We were just word-jamming. I’m pretty sure our man Raf was the main man as far as the name goes. It actually speaks to a lot: “dark side,” “light side,” as well as one of the very first detective stories ever written, “The Moonstone” by Wilkie Collins. It just seemed to fit.

Michael: Is there a Moonstone book that you’d recommend to someone who’s never read one of your books? Where’s the perfect place to start to get an accurate feel for what Moonstone represents?

Joe: Wow. With all of our material and characters... I think the question would need to be narrowed down a bit. So, for instance, if you had a horror fan who dug Buffy and the like, I would strongly say Kolchak is your answer. If you have a Batman/Punisher fan, I would highly recommend The Spider. Crime Fiction reader: I would lean towards The Green Hornet... Etc!

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

Joe: Nice question... and a bit daunting as well, because I don’t want to come across like a know-it-all here, but I would recommend The Dresden Files series of horror-ish books by Jim Butcher. Fun, scary, and more!

Or you can’t go wrong with the Phillip Marlowe stories by Raymond Chandler; dripping noir tales with great characters and dialogue. Or you can step a little more contemporary into the character Lew Archer by Ross Macdonald; great private eye stories, and great character pieces. Or the present day Michael Connelly books: great reads! Or Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone novels. Or, for more adventure, try Clive Cussler; modern day pulp! I could go on and on here…

Thanks so much to Joe for talking with me! And if you've never tried a Moonstone comic, now is a perfect time to check one out. They've recently announced a Dollar Menu offering over thirty titles for less than a buck each.

1 comment:

  1. I have tons of respect for Moonstone but their difficulty in getting a lot of their titles published lately has me worried.

    Now it seems that the material they were producing last year are only going to be available as ridiculously priced hardcovers, a decision I just can't get behind. Hopefully, they can find some more financially solid ways to get their comic books in the market soon.


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