Writers Who Have Inspired Me

EmmaWatson-HarryCrowder03I’m not going to go in-depth as to why these guys have influenced me since in many ways, it would be hard to nail it down. These are authors that have been favorites of mine and are ones that when I read them, I consciously go “Wow, look how they did that! I want to be able to do that!” I certainly read and enjoy other authors besides just these guys but these are the ones that I’d list as inspirations (in no order other than what popped in my head). Some of them have styles that are very different from my own but I still feel like I’ve taken something from them along the way.

Paul Ernst

Robert E. Howard

Walter Gibson

Stephen King (“old” King anyway — ’70s & ’80s)

Michael Moorcock (Elric specifically)

Rob MacGregor (his Indiana Jones work)

Andy McDermott

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Frank Herbert (his Dune series)

Timothy Zahn

Chris Claremont

Clive Cussler

Marv Wolfman

Geoff Johns

Jim Shooter

Wayne Reinagel

Arthur Conan Doyle

Derrick Ferguson

Miscellaneous Chatter

die_glocke_cover_LOW_RES_mockup_croppedHello, my friends!

I’m about to begin reading the second Captain Action novel, written by my good buddy Jim Beard. I really enjoyed the first book and I’m sure I’ll get a kick out of the sequel. A full review will be forthcoming, once I’m done with it.

We got a new review of The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Two: Die Glocke, courtesy of Mark Beaulieu:

I got hooked on Barry Reese’s work with the first volume of the Rook. Lazarus Gray continues to be a good, exciting read. There’s really a lot that goes on in this one to set up future stories. The introduction of new villains and possible allies. It’s got that nice pulpy feel and the characters have depth. Just great stuff.

Thanks for the review, Mark! I had a lot of fun writing Die Glocke but I think volumes 3 & 4 are even better — hopefully you’ll agree!

Superstar artist Chris Batista is about to start on a new piece of work for me and I’ll be sure to give you more details as things progress.

Speaking of superstar artists, George Sellas is soon going to be sitting down with myself and Pro Se publisher Tommy Hancock, with discussions beginning about something that many people have expressed an interest in.

How’s THAT for being vague?

Work continues to keep me very busy but I did add a small amount to the crossover novel yesterday. Felt good to produce something fiction-related again but my primary focus has to remain on the things that pay the bills. I’m sure you guys understand — and things will go back to what approximates normal at some point, I’m sure. Just have to get past this early stage, that’s all.

Take care and we’ll do this again tomorrow, shall we?

The Diabolical Dr. York!

yorkMost of The Rook’s enemies are of the done-in-one variety: they pop up, bedevil our hero and then get killed. The Warlike Manchu is really the biggest exception to that, though The Rook has also clashed with Doctor Satan on multiple occasions.

But what about the deadly Doctor York? Why doesn’t this bad guy get the credit he deserves as one of The Rook’s archfoes?

Who’s that, you say? You’ve read all six volumes of The Rook Chronicles and aren’t familiar with Doctor York?

That’s because he’s faced The Rook multiple times but never done so in prose (at least, not yet!).

York first appeared in All-Star Pulp Comics (2011) # 1, in a story written by me and drawn by by Craig Wilson. Set during The Rook’s days in Boston (1933), this tale introduces us to our would-be master villain. York is a former scientist that is now in service to the Elder Gods. His body is the receptacle for dark energies that have have the unfortunate side-effect of altering his appearance. His brain now floats in a clear glass dome above his torso… York has plans to sacrifice the daughter of one of The Rook’s friends but our hero manages to foil the scheme and York is dragged off to the nether-realms by his angry masters.

Case closed, right?

Not quite!

York returned in The Rook Animated Script that was published in Tales of The Rook Volume Two (2014). In this story (set somewhere in the 1936-1937 period), York has managed to acquire the body of Princess Femi, the immortal enemy of Lazarus Gray. York revives her in hopes that she’ll aid him in destroying The Rook but once again he is dispatched back to Hell. How did he survive his prior defeat? We’re told that York was persuasive enough to convince the Elder Gods that he deserved a second chance. Who knows if they’ll be as understanding after yet another loss.

I originally created York because in both the comic book and proposed animated adventure, I wanted someone with a really strong visual. He turned out to be quite fun and I plan to bring him back down the road. Until then, he has the distinction of being the one Rook villain who has yet to headline a prose adventure.

The Crossover Novel

Barry_Reese_cover_colWelcome back to Ye Olde Blog!

Today we’re reminding all of you about some of the details of our upcoming crossover novel – so settle back and enjoy!

The crossover novel featuring Lazarus Gray, The Rook and Gravedigger will be called Götterdämmerung!

For those of you who don’t know the origins of the term, it translates as “twilight of the gods” and served as the title of the last of the four operas by Richard Wagner that comprised the The Ring of the Nibelung cycle.

The book will feature the cover shown at left, drawn by Chris Batista and colored by Tom Smith.

The novel is set in 1938, shortly after the events of “The Gasping Death” (The Rook Volume One). For those who don’t remember, that was the story where The Rook teamed up with The Moon Man and gained his signet ring (the one he would sometimes brand the foreheads of criminals with).

Obviously, Gravedigger and Lazarus Gray are both Sovereign City heroes so you can rightly assume that some of the novel takes place in that locale but there are also scenes in Atlanta (The Rook’s home base) and a good bit of traveling throughout Europe, as well.

Will we get to see some stuff involving the OFP (the Occult Forces Project) that bedeviled The Rook in so many adventures?

Maybe. :-)

We’ll also see a new threat, a new villain that is powerful enough that it will require all three of my main heroes (plus a number of guest-stars!) to handle the threat.

So when will you see this book?

I’m currently in the stretch run on The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Five… as soon as this one is finished, I’ll begin writing Götterdämmerung. So you’ll have to wait for me to actually write the book, then you’ll see Gravedigger volume two (already written) and volumes four and five of Lazarus Gray published before you get to see the crossover.

Honestly? That means you’re probably looking at 2015.

But good things come to those who wait, right?

Hope you’re excited about the possibilities.

Characters I Love: The Huntress

huntressEvery now and then, I focus on a character from adventure fiction (film, comics & prose) that I simply adore. This week we’re talking about: The Huntress. Now, there have been several versions of this character over the years but I’ve liked them all. Here’s a handy-dandy guide to the various Helena Wayne/Bertinelli Huntresses we’ve been presented with:

The Original – This was Helena Wayne, the daughter of the pre-Crisis Earth-Two’s Batman and Catwoman. This Huntress was a member of the Justice Society and carried on her father’s work in Gotham City. She was a strong female character in an era where too many women were still treated as secondary to the male heroes. She was best friends with Power Girl and the two of them later went on to become members of Infinity, Inc.

Post-Crisis – After the multiple Earths were seemingly done away with in DC’s big Crisis on Infinite Earths series, Helena was reborn as Helena Bertinelli, a mafia princess. Turning against the crime that had made her family wealthy, Helena began hunting criminals as The Huntress. This version of the character was a little more hard-edged than the others and she frequently sparred with Batman over her methods. She had romances with both Nightwing and The Question (Vic Sage).

New 52 – The current version is very similar to the original, hailing from a new Earth-Two and being the daughter of that world’s Batman and Catwoman. She is currently trapped on the main DC Earth, along with Power Girl. It’s interesting to note that even though she’s once again Helena Wayne, the Bertinelli identity has not been completely discarded, as it’s been used as an alias for her. This current Huntress is, once again, very intelligent and capable, which I really like.

I’ve always liked the fact that Helena didn’t become Batwoman or Batgirl or anything along those lines (though she did wear the Batgirl costume briefly during the No Man’s Storyline during the post-Crisis era & in the New 52 she was Robin before graduating to her own identity). She’s basically been her own woman from the start.I like her friendship with Power Girl and, to be honest, she’s probably my favorite member of the Bat-family. I’d much rather see her pushed to the forefront than Batgirl.

Our art today is by Marcus To, one of my favorite Huntress artists.

Top Ten Favorite Comic Book Artists

perezYeah, I like lists.

Anyway, in the past I’ve listed out my favorite Spider-Man writers, my favorite Spidey villains, my favorite classic and new pulp heroes & villains… heck, I even listed out my ten favorite pulp-inspired comics.

Today we’re looking at my top 10 favorite comic book artists. These are guys who always excite me when I hear their names are attached to various projects and over the years I’ve shared their work on my Facebook, on Tumblr, etc.

So let’s go!

10. Steve Rude – The Dude first came to my attention when he was working on Nexus. Loved the way he depicted the entire cast and he’s really underrated in the way that he draws facial expressions. The guy’s a master, period.

9. Jim Aparo – Aparo was the definitive Batman artist for me in the Seventies and I enjoyed his work on the Batman and the Outsiders series a lot. He also did great work on Aquaman over the years and in Brave and the Bold, he got to draw just about everybody!

8. Keith Giffen – If I had made this list in the 80s, Giffen would have been much, much higher. I adored his work on Legion of Super-Heroes but eventually his style became much more manic. I still enjoy it a lot (especially on Kirby-influenced projects) but there are times it comes off as a hot mess. Still, I’m always curious when I see his name attached to a project.

7. Will Meugniot – Will became one of my faves when he was doing DNAgents back in the 80s but I have continued to follow him through his work on Vanity and Femforce. He’s a remarkably talented guy and I’ve loved that I’ve had the chance to work with him on my own books.

6. Gene Colan – Colan was a master of atmosphere. I adored his pencils on Tomb of Dracula, Batman and Night Force. His work on other titles was sometimes a little odd in ways but I still loved his work. I mean, I would never have put him on Iron Man or Daredevil, for instance, and yet his pencils were so awesome that I didn’t even mind that he wasn’t a traditional superhero artist. He did work well on Batman, though.

5. Ivan Reis – The newest name on my list, Reis has really impressed me with his work on titles like Blackest Night, Green Lantern, Justice League and Aquaman. He’s amazing!

4. Chris Batista – I first noticed him on Legion of Super-Heroes and he’s actually my favorite Legion artist because he’s able to perfectly capture their youthful nature. I also really dug his work on Booster Gold and an all-too-brief run on Justice League. Why DC or Marvel hasn’t snatched him up for a major title is beyond me. I think he’d really rock on a New Gods revival, too.

3. John Byrne – Back in the day, Byrne was a stud. I followed him from X-Men to Fantastic Four to Alpha Flight to Superman… At some point, I think his work became somewhat less appealing to me but I still enjoy it. Aside from his work on Fantastic Four, I generally prefer him as an artist and not a writer but he’s capable of doing fine work on both sides of the creative fence.

2. Alan Davis – Captain Britain. Excalibur. The Nail. Batman. X-Men. Superboy’s Legion. I could go on and on. I am mad about his artwork. It’s fun, it’s sleek, it’s everything I want from a superhero artist. I’ve bought books simply because he drew them, even when I knew I’d dislike the story. He’s simply that good.

1. George Perez – The king of superhero artists in my opinion. He’s known for his crowd scenes — and they are awesome — but he’s also a fine character-based storyteller. Look at his run on New Teen Titans or Wonder Woman for proof. And unlike some artists, I find his later work to be just as good as the older stuff… Legion of 3 Worlds, his Avengers run with Kurt Busiek and his work on Worlds’ Finest are all fine examples of his more recent books that I think are great. For me, I’ll always associate him with the Titans first and foremost, then his work on Crisis. He also drew a fine, fine run of JLA.