Stuff and Things

lg09_eun_jiwon_smallThings continue to be quite busy in Barry Land — I’m hard at work on the second story in what will eventually be Lazarus Gray Volume 6 and I’ve agreed to write a high fantasy novella that will tie in to the Hammer and Forge supplement to Ganesha Games’ Song of Blades setting. I’m also going to be doing a story for Steven Hudkins featuring his great New Pulp hero, The Warden.

Plus, I turned in the second Dark Gentleman short to Pro Se a few weeks ago!

So, yes, even when I’m not updating the blog, please be assured that new projects are in the pipeline.

So what will Lazarus Gray Volume 6 bring? How about: a quest dealing with resurrection and loss; a new member of Assistance Unlimited; the return of a former member of the team; new villains; old villains; and special guest-stars aplenty! It picks up right where the big crossover novel leaves off but hopefully you’ll be able to follow along even if you jump straight from Volume 5 to this one.

Stay tuned, true believers! Good stuff is on the way!

Rabbit Heart Slashes Its Way To A New Review!

rabbit_heart_newAmazon review Matthew Bieniek had the following things to say about Rabbit Heart:

Not for the squeamish, but well worth the read 4 stars (out of 5)

I was familiar with Reese’s work on the Peregrine series, and his storytelling skill is evident here as well. Over the top with detailed descriptions of sex and violence, and frequently the combination of the two, this book was one that I didn’t want to put down. While many of the details of what happens to the seemingly endless stream of victims are fairly disgusting, if you can get past the gore, there’s a pretty good story here, populated by some likable protagonists and a thoroughly repugnant antagonist.

I don’t know that I can stomach reading this one again, but I think I would be interested in a sequel with these lead characters. Hopefully the body count will be a little lower next time.

Thanks for the kind words! Yes, the story can be a bit explicit but I really wanted to dive into some dark places and I like to thin that I succeeded on that front. I started a sequel years ago but never moved forward with it — who knows? Maybe I’ll return to Fiona at some point.

We’ll see!

Thanks again.

Timeline of My Pulp Adventure Universe (Updated August 2015)

lg11_lazarus_graveyard_smallMajor Events specific to certain stories and novels are included in brackets. Some of this information contains SPOILERS for The Peregrine, Lazarus Gray, Gravedigger and other stories.

~ 800 Viking warrior Grimarr dies of disease but is resurrected as the Sword of Hel. He adventures for some time as Hel’s agent on Earth. [“Dogs of War” and “In the Name of Hel,” Tales of the Norse Gods].

1748 – Johann Adam Weishaupt is born.

1750 – Guan-Yin embarks on a quest to find her lost father, which takes her to Skull Island [Guan-Yin and the Horrors of Skull Island].

1776 – Johann Adam Weishaupt forms The Illuminati. He adopts the guise of the original Lazarus Gray in group meetings, reflecting his “rebirth” and the “moral ambiguity” of the group. In Sovereign City, a Hessian soldier dies in battle, his spirit resurrected as an headless warrior.

1793 – Mortimer Quinn comes to Sovereign City, investigating the tales of a Headless Horseman [Gravedigger Volume One]

1865 – Eobard Grace returns home from his actions in the American Civil War. Takes possession of the Book of Shadows from his uncle Frederick. [“The World of Shadow,” The Family Grace: An Extraordinary History]

1877 – Eobard Grace is summoned to the World of Shadows, where he battles Uris-Kor and fathers a son, Korben. [“The World of Shadow,” The Family Grace: An Extraordinary History]

1885 – Along with his niece Miriam and her paramour Ian Sinclair, Eobard returns to the World of Shadows to halt the merging of that world with Earth. [“The Flesh Wheel,” The Family Grace: An Extraordinary History]

1890 – Eobard fathers a second son, Leopold.

1895 – Felix Cole (the Bookbinder) is born.

1900 – Max Davies is born to publisher Warren Davies and his wife, heiress Margaret Davies.

1901 – Leonid Kaslov is born.

1905 – Richard Winthrop is born in San Francisco.

1908 – Warren Davies is murdered by Ted Grossett, a killer nicknamed “Death’s Head”. [“Lucifer’s Cage”, the Peregrine Volume One, more details shown in “Origins,” the Peregrine Volume One] Hans Merkel kills his own father. [“Blitzkrieg,” the Peregrine Volume One]

1910 – Evelyn Gould is born.

1913 – Felix Cole meets the Cockroach Man and becomes part of The Great Work. [“The Great Work,” The Family Grace: An Extraordinary History]

1914 – Margaret Davies passes away in her sleep. Max is adopted by his uncle Reginald.

1915 – Felix Cole marries Charlotte Grace, Eobard Grace’s cousin.

1916 – Leonid Kaslov’s father Nikolai becomes involved in the plot to assassinate Rasputin.

1917 – Betsy Cole is born to Felix and Charlotte Grace Cole. Nikolai Kaslov is murdered.

1918 – Max Davies begins wandering the world. Richard Winthrop’s parents die in an accident.

1922 – Warlike Manchu tutors Max Davies in Kyoto.

1925 – Max Davies becomes the Peregrine, operating throughout Europe.

1926 – Charlotte Grace dies. Richard Winthrop has a brief romance with exchange student Sarah Dumas.

1927 – Richard Winthrop graduates from Yale. On the night of his graduation, he is recruited into The Illuminati. Max and Leopold Grace battle the Red Lord in Paris. Richard Winthrop meets Miya Shimada in Japan, where he purchases The McGuinness Obelisk for The Illuminati.

1928 – The Peregrine returns to Boston. Dexter van Melkebeek (later to be known as The Darkling) receives his training in Tibet from Tenzin.

1929 – Max Davies is one of the judges for the Miss Beantown contest [“The Miss Beantown Affair,” The Peregrine Volume Three]. Richard Winthrop destroys a coven of vampires in Mexico.

1930 – Richard Winthrop pursues The Devil’s Heart in Peru [“Eidolon,” Lazarus Gray Volume Three].

1932 – The Peregrine hunts down his father’s killer [“Origins,” the Peregrine Volume One]. The Darkling returns to the United States.

1933 – Jacob Trench uncovers Lucifer’s Cage. [“Lucifer’s Cage”, the Peregrine Volume One] The Peregrine battles Doctor York [All-Star Pulp Comics # 1] After a failed attempt at betraying The Illuminati, Richard Winthrop wakes up on the shores of Sovereign City with no memory of his name or past. He has only one clue to his past in his possession: a small medallion adorned with the words Lazarus Gray and the image of a naked man with the head of a lion. [“The Girl With the Phantom Eyes,” Lazarus Gray Volume One]

1934 – Now calling himself Lazarus Gray, Richard Winthrop forms Assistance Unlimited in Sovereign City. He recruits Samantha Grace, Morgan Watts and Eun Jiwon [“The Girl With the Phantom Eyes,” Lazarus Gray Volume One] Walther Lunt aids German scientists in unleashing the power Die Glocke, which in turn frees the demonic forces of Satan’s Circus [“Die Glocke,” Lazarus Gray Volume Two]. The entity who will become known as The Black Terror is created [“The Making of a Hero,” Lazarus Gray Volume Two].

1935 – Felix Cole and his daughter Betsy seek out the Book of Eibon. [“The Great Work,” The Family Grace: An Extraordinary History] Assistance Unlimited undertakes a number of missions, defeating the likes of Walther Lunt, Doc Pemberley, Malcolm Goodwill & Black Heart, Princess Femi & The Undying, Mr. Skull, The Axeman and The Yellow Claw [“The Girl With the Phantom Eyes,” “The Devil’s Bible,” “The Corpse Screams at Midnight,” “The Burning Skull,” “The Axeman of Sovereign City,” and “The God of Hate,” Lazarus Gray Volume One] The Peregrine journeys to Sovereign City and teams up with Assistance Unlimited to battle Devil Face. They also encounter a new hero – The Dark Gentleman. [“Darkness, Spreading Its Wings of Black,” The Peregrine Volume Two and Lazarus Gray Volume One)]. Lazarus Gray and Assistance Unlimited become embroiled in the search for Die Glocke [“Die Glocke,” Lazarus Gray Volume Two]

1936 – Assistance Unlimited completes their hunt for Die Glocke and confronts the threat of Jack-In-Irons. Abigail Cross and Jakob Sporrenberg join Assistance Unlimited [“Die Glocke,” Lazarus Gray Volume Two]. The Peregrine moves to Atlanta and recovers the Dagger of Elohim from Felix Darkholme. The Peregrine meets Evelyn Gould. The Peregrine battles Jacob Trench. [“Lucifer’s Cage”, the Peregrine Volume One]. Reed Barrows revives Camilla. [“Kingdom of Blood,” The Peregrine Volume One]. Kevin Atwill is abandoned in the Amazonian jungle by his friends, a victim of the Gorgon legacy. [“The Gorgon Conspiracy,” The Peregrine Volume One]. Nathaniel Caine’s lover is killed by Tweedledum while Dan Daring looks on [“Catalyst,” The Peregrine Volume One] Assistance Unlimited teams up with The Black Terror to battle Promethus and The Titan in South America [“The Making of a Hero,” Lazarus Gray Volume Two]. Doc Pemberley allies himself with Abraham Klee, Stanley Davis and Constance Majestros to form Murder Unlimited. Lazarus Gray is able to defeat this confederation of evil and Pemberley finds himself the victim of Doctor Satan’s machinations [“Murder Unlimited,” Lazarus Gray Volume Three]. Lazarus Gray is forced to compete with The Darkling for possession of a set of demonic bones. During the course of this, a member of Assistance Unlimited becomes Eidolon. [“Eidolon,” Lazarus Gray Volume Three]. Charity Grace dies and is reborn as the first female Gravedigger. [Gravedigger Volume One]. Dr. York attempts to revive Princess Femi so that she can aid him in battling The Peregrine [“The Peregrine Animated Script,” The Peregrine Volume Three]. The Dark Gentleman confronts The Shadow Court and brings them to justice. [“The Judgment of the Shadow Court,” The Adventures of The Dark Gentleman Book One]. A few weeks later, The Dark Gentleman learns the truth about Amadeus Crouch [“The Silver Room,” The Adventures of The Dark Gentleman Book Two].

1937 – Max and Evelyn marry. Camilla attempts to create Kingdom of Blood. World’s ancient vampires awaken and the Peregrine is ‘marked’ by Nyarlathotep. Gerhard Klempt’s experiments are halted. William McKenzie becomes Chief of Police in Atlanta. The Peregrine meets Benson, who clears his record with the police. [“Kingdom of Blood,” the Peregrine Volume One]. Lazarus Gray and Assistance Unlimited teams up with Thunder Jim Wade to confront the deadly threat of Leviathan (“Leviathan Rising”, Lazarus Gray Volume Four]. Hank Wilbon is murdered, leading to his eventual resurrection as the Reaper. [“Kaslov’s Fire,” The Peregrine Volume One]. The Peregrine and Evelyn become unwelcome guests of Baron Werner Prescott, eventually foiling his attempts to create an artificial island and a weather-controlling weapon for the Nazis [“The Killing Games,” The Peregrine Volume Three] Gravedigger confronts a series of terrible threats in Sovereign City, including Thanatos, a gender-swapping satanic cult and The Headless Horseman. Charity and Samantha Grace make peace about their status as half-sisters. [Gravedigger Volume One] Lazarus Gray teams with Eidolon and The Darkling to combat Doctor Satan [“Satan’s Circus,” Lazarus Gray Volume Four]. Lazarus Gray battles the forces of Wilson Brisk and Skyrider. The Three Sisters are unleashed upon Sovereign City [“The Felonious Financier,” Lazarus Gray Volume Five]. Gravedigger confronts the twin threats of Hiroshi Tamaki and the immortal known as Pandora [Gravedigger Volume Two]. Lazarus Gray travels to Cape Noire to investigate the mysterious vigilante known as Brother Bones [“Shadows and Phantoms,” Lazarus Gray Volume Five]. The villain known as The Basilisk attempts to seize control of Sovereign City’s underworld [“Stare of The Basilisk,” Lazarus Gray Volume Five]. The Three Sisters unite with Princess Femi to combat Assistance Unlimited. Sobek’s attempt to destroy Femi helps lead young Madison Montgomery into a role as Femi’s handmaiden. Lazarus gets engaged to Kelly Emerson [“Immortals,” Lazarus Gray Volume Five]. Lazarus and Kelly are married. [“Wedding Bells,” Lazarus Gray Volume Five].

1938 – The Peregrine travels to Great City to aid the Moon Man in battling Lycos and his Gasping Death. The Peregrine destroys the physical shell of Nyarlathotep and gains his trademark signet ring. [“The Gasping Death,” The Peregrine Volume One]. The jungle hero known as the Revenant is killed [“Death from the Jungle,” The Peregrine Volume Two]. Gravedigger, Lazarus Gray and The Peregrine come together to confront the terrible events known as Götterdämmerung. Many other heroes – including The Black Bat, The Black Terror, The Darkling and Leonid Kaslov are caught up in the events, as well [Götterdämmerung]. Three months after Götterdämmerung, Assistance Unlimited battles The Librarian and adds The Black Terror to the team. [“The Affair of the Familiar Corpse,” Lazarus Gray Volume Six].

1939 – Ibis and the Warlike Manchu revive the Abomination. Evelyn becomes pregnant and gives birth to their first child, a boy named William. [“Abominations,” The Peregrine Volume One]. The Peregrine allies himself with Leonid Kaslov to stop the Reaper’s attacks and to foil the plans of Rasputin. [“Kaslov’s Fire,” the Peregrine Volume One] Violet Cambridge and Will McKenzie become embroiled in the hunt for a mystical item known as The Damned Thing [The Damned Thing]

1940 – The Warlike Manchu returns with a new pupil — Hans Merkel, aka Shinigami. The Warlike Manchu kidnaps William Davies but the Peregrine and Leonid Kaslov manage to rescue the boy. [“Blitzkrieg,” the Peregrine Volume One] The Peregrine journeys to Germany alongside the Domino Lady and Will McKenzie to combat the demonic organization known as Bloodwerks. [“Bloodwerks,” the Peregrine Volume One] Kevin Atwill seeks revenge against his former friends, bringing him into conflict with the Peregrine [“The Gorgon Conspiracy,” The Peregrine Volume One]. The Peregrine takes a young vampire under his care, protecting him from a cult that worships a race of beings known as The Shambling Ones. With the aid of Leonid Kazlov, the cult is destroyed [“The Shambling Ones,” The Peregrine Volume One].

1941 – Philip Gallagher, a journalist, uncovers the Peregrine’s secret identity but chooses to become an ally of the vigilante rather than reveal it to the world [“Origins,” the Peregrine Volume One]. The Peregrine teams with the Black Bat and Ascott Keane, as well as a reluctant Doctor Satan, in defeating the plans of the sorcerer Arias [“The Bleeding Hells”, The Peregrine Volume One]. The Peregrine rescues McKenzie from the Iron Maiden [“The Iron Maiden,” The Peregrine Volume One].

1942 – The Peregrine battles a Nazi super agent known as the Grim Reaper, who is attempting to gather the Crystal Skulls [“The Three Skulls,” The Peregrine Volume One]. The Peregrine becomes embroiled in a plot by Sun Koh and a group of Axis killers known as The Furies. The Peregrine and Sun Koh end up in deadly battle on the banks of the Potomac River. [“The Scorched God,” The Peregrine Volume Two]. In London, the Peregrine and Evelyn meet Nathaniel Caine (aka the Catalyst) and Rachel Winters, who are involved in stopping the Nazis from creating the Un-Earth. They battle Doctor Satan and the Black Zeppelin [“Catalyst,” The Peregrine Volume One]. Evelyn learns she’s pregnant with a second child. The Peregrine solves the mystery of the Roanoke Colony [“The Lost Colony,” The Peregrine Volume One]. The Peregrine battles against an arsonist in the employ of Bennecio Tommasso [“Where There’s Smoke”, The Peregrine Volume Three]. The Warlike Manchu is revived and embarks upon a search for the Philosopher’s Stone [“The Resurrection Gambit,” The Peregrine Volume One]

1943 – The Peregrine teams with Xander to deal with the Onyx Raven [“The Onyx Raven”, The Peregrine Volume Three]. The Peregrine is confronted by the twin threats of Fernando Pasarin and the undead pirate Hendrik van der Decken [“The Phantom Vessel,” The Peregrine Volume Two]. Evelyn and Max become the parents of a second child, Emma Davies. The Peregrine teams with the daughter of the Revenant to battle Hermann Krupp and the Golden Goblin [“Death from the Jungle,” The Peregrine Volume Two] The Peregrine battles Doctor Satan over possession of an ancient Mayan tablet [“The Four Peregrines,” The Peregrine Volume Two]. The Peregrine travels to Peru to battle an undead magician called The Spook [“Spook,” The Peregrine Volume Two]. The Peregrine clashes with Doctor Death, who briefly takes possession of Will McKenzie [“The Peregrine Nevermore,” The Peregrine Volume Three]. Baron Rudolph Gustav gains possession of the Rod of Aaron and kidnaps Evelyn, forcing the Peregrine into an uneasy alliance with the Warlike Manchu [“Dead of Night,” The Peregrine Volume Two]. Doctor Satan flees to the hidden land of Vorium, where the Peregrine allies with Frankenstein’s Monster to bring him to justice [“Satan’s Trial,” The Peregrine Volume Two]. Tim Roland is recruited by The Flame and Miss Masque [“The Ivory Machine,” The Peregrine Volume Two]. The Black Terror investigates a German attempt to replicate his powers and becomes friends with a scientist named Clarke [“Terrors”, The Peregrine Volume Two]

1944 – The Peregrine organizes a strike force composed of Revenant, Frankenstein’s Monster, Catalyst and Esper. The group is known as The Claws of the Peregrine and they take part in two notable adventures in this year: against the diabolical Mr. Dee and then later against an alliance between Doctor Satan and the Warlike Manchu [“The Diabolical Mr. Dee” and “A Plague of Wicked Men”, The Peregrine Volume Two].

1946 – The Peregrine discovers that Adolph Hitler is still alive and has become a vampire in service to Dracula. In an attempt to stop the villains from using the Holy Lance to take over the world, the Peregrine allies with the Claws of the Peregrine, a time traveler named Jenny Everywhere, a thief called Belladonna and Leonid Kaslov. The villains are defeated and Max’s future is revealed to still be in doubt. Events shown from 2006 on are just a possible future. The Peregrine also has several encounters with a demonically powered killer known as Stickman. [“The Devil’s Spear,” The Peregrine Volume Two]. The Peregrine encounters a madman named Samuel Garibaldi (aka Rainman) and his ally, Dr. Gottlieb Hochmuller. The Peregrine and his Claws team defeat the villainous duo and several new heroes join the ranks of the Claws team — Miss Masque, Black Terror & Tim and The Flame. [“The Ivory Machine,” The Peregrine Volume Two

1953 – The Peregrine acquires the Looking Glass from Lu Chang. [“Black Mass,” The Peregrine Volume One]

1961 – Max’s son William becomes the second Peregrine. [“The Four Peregrines,” The Peregrine Volume Two]

1967 – The second Peregrine battles and defeats the Warlike Manchu, who is in possession of the Mayan Tablet that Doctor Satan coveted in ’43. Evelyn Davies dies. [“The Four Peregrines,” The Peregrine Volume Two]

1970 – William Davies (the second Peregrine) commits suicide by jumping from a Manhattan rooftop. Emma Davies (Max’s daughter and William’s sister) becomes the Peregrine one week later, in February. [“The Four Peregrines,” The Peregrine Volume Two]

1973 – The third Peregrine is accompanied by Kayla Kaslov (daughter of Leonid Kaslov) on a trip to Brazil, where the two women defeat the Black Annis and claim the Mayan Tablet that’s popped up over the course of three decades. Emma gives it to her father, who in turn passes it on to Catalyst (Nathaniel Caine) [“The Four Peregrines,” The Peregrine Volume Two]

~1985 – Max resumes operating as the Peregrine, adventuring sporadically. Due to various magical events, he remains far more active than most men his age. The reasons for Emma giving up the role are unknown at this time.

Events depicted in the years 2006 forward occur in one of many possible futures for The Peregrine. As revealed in Volume Two of The Peregrine Chronicles, the events of 2006 onward may — or may not — be the ultimate future of Max Davies.

2006 – The Black Mass Barrier rises, enveloping the world in a magical field. The World of Shadows merges with Earth. Fiona Grace (descended from Eobard) becomes a worldwide celebrity, partially due to her failure to stop the Black Mass Barrier. [“Black Mass,” The Peregrine Volume One]

2009 – Ian Morris meets Max Davies and becomes the new Peregrine. He meets Fiona Grace. Max dies at some point immediately following this. [“Black Mass,” The Peregrine Volume One]

2010 – The Ian Morris Peregrine and Fiona Grace deal with the threat of Baron Samedi [“The Curse of Baron Samedi,” The Peregrine Volume Three]

2012 – The fourth Peregrine (Ian Morris) receives the Mayan Tablet from Catalyst, who tells him that the world will end on December 21, 2012 unless something is done. Using the tablet, Ian attempts to take control of the magic spell that will end the world. Aided by the spirits of the three previous Peregrines, he succeeds, though it costs him his life. He is survived by his lover (Fiona Grace) and their unborn child. Max Davies is reborn as a man in his late twenties and becomes the Peregrine again. [“The Four Peregrines,” The Peregrine Volume Two]

The (Fictional) Women of My Life

Rachel-Weisz-rachel-weisz-120258_800_1101I’m mostly known for my male creations — The Peregrine & Lazarus Gray, for instance — but I’ve spent a good bit of my career writing female leads. The Damned Thing, Rabbit Heart and Gravedigger all feature strong female characters. I’m proud of those books, especially since the pulp field is still so testosterone-heavy. New Pulp does have The Pulptress, Elisa Hill and Callie but those are still just a drop in the bucket.

I’ve tried to add to the diversity of characters within the field while not making too big of a deal about it. The Lazarus Gray series not only features Samantha Grace as a major part of the storyline but I also have Eun Jiwon, a member of the team who is both homosexual and Korean. In Gravedigger, we have Li Yuchun, a Chinese American, and Mitchell, a British hero of African descent. I’m not doing this to make any kind of point, really — I simply want to reflect the real world, which the original pulps didn’t always do.

But I’m proudest of my female heroes. I think they’re all very well-rounded individuals, worthy of standing toe-to-toe with the classic heroes of yore. They’re not defined by their gender, either. I treat them as people first — they just happen to be women. Guan-Yin is brave and daring, driven by a need to prove herself and to find out what happened to her missing father. Fiona Grace (Rabbit Heart) is part of a deadly game played by immortals, forced into an archetypal role that she simultaneously embraces and fights against. Violet Cambridge (The Damned Thing) is a tough-as-nails woman in a gritty noir adventure, caught up in the mystery of who’s killed both her husband and her partner. Charity Grace (Gravedigger) is given three years to redeem her soul, after a lifetime of sin. On the Claws of The Peregrine team, we have Revenant and Esper, both of whom are just as essential to the group’s success as the male members. And, of course, I could never forget Evelyn Davies, The Peregrine’s wife and frequent adventuring partner.

All of them are beautiful, yes — but this is adventure fiction. The women are beautiful and the men are handsome. I never try to objectify my female characters any more than I do the male ones — in other words, I do objectify them in the sense that they’re attractive and this is mentioned… but they’re far more than that. Pulp is escapism and part of the appeal is that our heroes (male & female) are larger-than-life. They’re gorgeous, they’re brave and they’re heroic. They’re idealized. Even in Rabbit Heart, which is highly charged with sex and violence, I don’t think I treat the women in the story any different than I do the males — some of them are very emotionally unstable, some are promiscuous and some are just downright nasty… but that’s true of both genders in the story. And Fiona Grace, though driven by powerful needs, is still an idealized heroine who rises above it all. Yes, Fiona’s outfit on the cover is risque — but if you read the story, you’ll know there’s a major reason why it’s shown that way. The story deals with archetypes and the way society views them — and Fiona is forced to play that part, to a degree.

The projects I have on tap for the next months are mostly male-dominated but I plan to return to Gravedigger very soon… and I promise to continue treating them with respect.

The image accompanying this post is of Rachel Weisz, the lovely and talented actress who’s performance as Evelyn Carnahan in The Mummy inspired my own character, Evelyn Davies.

Pro Se Productions Licenses the Heroes of AC Comics!

Femforce107DarkGodsRampagePartThis press release went out overnight – and you’ll notice my name in it a time or two. What does this mean for down the road…? Stay tuned for more announcements!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRO SE PRODUCTIONS LICENSES BILL BLACK’S
AC COMICS CHARACTERS FOR PROSE ADVENTURES!

Pro Se Productions, a leading Publisher of Genre Fiction, proudly announces a new licensing relationship with one of the best known names in independent comic books in the last 40 years. Beginning in 2016, Pro Se will be publishing the adventures of Paragon, DarkShade, FemForce, and an entire plethora of four-color heroes and villains from the pages of AC Comics, thanks to a licensing arrangement with AC’s founder Bill Black and his company, Nightveil Media.

“This,” says Tommy Hancock, Partner in and Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, “is in many ways a fan dream come true for me. I was, as a kid in the 1980s, the only comic collector my age, I thought, with any interest in the Golden Age characters. When AC Comics began reviving some of those characters and a whole slew inspired by that era, it meant the world to me. To be able to say that, thanks to the suggestion of writer Barry Reese and the wonderful working relationship we’ve already established with Bill Black, Pro Se will be bringing those wonderful characters with such vivid histories to life in prose is not just a fantastic business move. It makes the ten year old kid reading comics in me jump up and
down with joy.”

“Each of these characters,” continues Hancock, “still has pages and pages of stories to tell. And Pro Se has access to writers who grew up with these heroes, who understand what it takes to bring a comic character to life in Pulp Fiction. Translating comic characters to the Pulp page adds a certain edge, a visceral expression to them that I think lends itself well to Bill’s awesome cast of players.”

Evolving in 1982 out of Bill Black’s Paragon Publications, AC Comics® (Americomics in it’s first year of existence only, AC since 1984) was one of the initial quartet of independent color comics companies who pioneered the direct sales phenomenon in the early ’80’s. Within the framework of the four hundred-plus books AC has released, multitalented publishing maverick Bill Black has introduced a plethora of his own fascinating characters. From his new-wave super-hero universe of the companies’ early years (when costumed defenders like Captain Paragon, Commando D, The Scarlet Scorpion and Bolt gave readers an alternative to Marvel and DC fare) grew AC’s best known feature — The Femforce, Comicdom’s first and only successful all-female super-team book. In 1997, Femforce became the 229th comic book ever to pass the one hundred issue mark, and spawned an ever-increasing circle of spin-offs, support books and licensed merchandise.

A unique, eclectic and personal blend of tastes and influences have led publisher Bill Black to construct an engrossing matrix of fun and interesting comics and related publications. And now that creativity takes on new life in hands of today’s best Genre Fiction authors in new prose tales from Pro Se Productions!

“I’m truly excited,” says Bill Black, “about a new line of novels to be written about my comic book characters. This will open new vistas for Paragon, Nightveil, Femforce, and so many others. Comics and even the movies cannot come close to the in-depth characterization that novelization will bring. Prose adventures is something I’ve always wanted to do but never had the time. Pro Se, with talented writers like Barry Reese, will do it far better, so this promises to be an amazing joint venture. I can’t wait to read the first book!”

Even though the slate of AC characters is wide and varied and will be explored over time in various Pro Se volumes, the initial collections and books will focus on Paragon, Nightveil, DarkShade, and FemForce. Other characters that may show up in the first year of this arrangement include the Latigo Kid, The Black Shroud, The Haunter, and Alizarin Crimson. Hancock states that the first call for submissions would likely go out in late August/Early September 2015 with the focus for publication to begin in 2016.

For interviews with either Hancock or Black or to learn more about this project, contact Hancock at editorinchief@prose-press.com.

For more information on Pro Se Productions, go to http://www.prose-press.com.
Like Pro Se on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ProSeProductions. Discover all you need to know about AC Comics at http://www.acccomics.com.

Two New Lazarus Gray Volume 5 Reviews

lg10_assistance_unlimited_color_smallOver on the Pulp Super-Fan Blog, Michael Brown posted the following review:

Lazarus Gray is a New Pulp character from writer Barry Reese (The Peregrine, Gravedigger, and other works) with several volumes out so far. Now we get the fifth one.

Gray is sort of inspired by the classic pulp hero The Avenger. He has setup a group similar to The Avenger’s called Assistance Unlimited. He is located in a fictional town called Sovereign City (created by Pro Se Press publisher Tommy Hancock), and is part of the larger Sovereign City Project. He is also set in the same universe as Barry’s other characters, so has crossed over with them.

This volume has five short stories. There are connections between most of the stories, so it’s best to read them in order. The first has a crooked financier who has built a huge zeppelin (for what purpose, is not clear, and not clear what happens to it after the main action) and who is after treasure on an outlying island from Sovereign City. This leads to his death and the release of an ancient evil.

The second story has Gray and associates heading to Cape Noire, where Ron Fortier‘s Brother Bones operates.

The third story introduces a new foe, the Basilisk, who can kill with a glance. He is trying to take over the gangs of Sovereign City, and before AU can take him out, decides to strike out at Gray through his girlfriend.

The fourth story deals with the evil released in the first story: the Three Sisters. Assisting Gray and associates is Catalyst. But not the Catalyst we are introduced in the Peregrine series, but his predecessor. While they take care of the Three Sisters, Gray’s old foe Princess Femi, is released. Am sure she will be dealt with in a future story.

The fifth and last story deals with Gray’s marriage to Kelly Emerson. We get cameos of several characters from the series in this one. I was surprised by a couple that appeared. He also has his new character, the Dark Gentleman as well. I think he’s only appeared in one short ebook story, and it also set in Sovereign City. I hope we see more of him, maybe enough for his own volume. It remains to see how Gray’s marriage will affect the series going forward. Pulp heroes getting married is pretty much unheard of, but he had the Peregrine do so and it didn’t hurt that series.

Rounding out the volume is the two-page comic book origin of Gray, and a timeline of Reese’s works. However, this one is missing most of the later Peregrine volumes, most likely because they have not yet be converted over from using the Rook name.

I’m not sure what we will see next from Reese. I know that he has been working on a crossover work, which I think is next, that has Peregrine, Gray, and Gravedigger. I look forward to it. I would love to see a new Gravedigger work as well, and wonder when we’ll see another solo Peregrine story or a full Dark Gentleman volume.

Meanwhile, reader Jose Rivera said:

In this latest volume of Lazarus Gray we saw 3 witches unleashed, Lazarus going out of Sovereign to investigate the vigilante Brother Bones, we had a surprising reveal of The Basilisk, the return of an old enemy and a wedding. You think that sounds very complicated, but it’s not. This volume is broken up into 5 short stories which could be read on their own but have a running thread. This reminded me of the first volume of Lazarus Gray and that’s not a bad thing at all.

Getting a new volume of Lazarus Gray is something to look forward to. Reese makes it so that if you’re new, you’re not lost, but if you’ve been reading since the beginning, it’s like visiting old friends. These stories are amazing fun and deserve your time.

Can’t wait to see where we go from here!

Thanks, guys! I’m glad you both enjoyed the book and you’ll be glad to know that I’m working on Volume Six right now.

Yeah, I’d Like To Write That…

challengers-kirbyI was able to write one of my all-time favorite pulp heroes — The Avenger — for Moonstone. Twice!

I’ve also written The Green Hornet, G-8 and His Battle Aces, The Black Bat, The Black Terror and lots more. I’ve written sourcebooks that were all about Spider-Man, Marvel’s Avengers and a lot more…

But there are still some dream projects out there that I’d like to tackle:

Batman. I’ve read some good Batman prose novels but I’d love to handle Bruce Wayne and company just once. I think it would be a blast.

The Shadow. Taking on Walter Gibson’s signature character would be intimidating as hell but I’d jump at the opportunity.

Conan. I’m not sure I’d ever be able to live up to the passion of Robert E. Howard’s writing but I’d give it my best shot.

Airboy. I’m not too big on aerial pulp, despite having written both Richard Knight and G-8… but Airboy’s appearances in the Chuck Dixon comic book series made me a fan.

Challengers of the Unknown. I didn’t much care for the Ron Goulart novel that came out way back when… I like to think I could do better. The themes and characters are right up my alley.

Seekay. One of the greatest obscure pulp characters ever!

Norgil the Magician. Walter Gibson’s *other* great hero. I have a ton of ideas for this crime-solving magician.

The Phantom. Lee Falk’s classic hero would be a blast to write!