Pulse Fiction Gets A 5-Star Review!

A reviewer using the name novelgirl posted the first review of Bishop and Hancock’s Pulse Fiction. I contributed the opening story to that collection and had a blast doing it.

Here’s what she had to say:

What I love about the New Pulp, is the author’s ability to hold onto the traditional pulp feel of the stories. Each one of the stories included in this volume are exciting, thrill-packed adventures, and the authors make you cheer for the hero and boo at the villain. There are paranormal stories of characters with super abilities, slick thieves who’ll charm you out of your jewels. Some stories have gangsters who enjoy a good shoot-‘em-up, but lose to an unassuming guy who doesn’t want to be a hero. If you’re into gorgeous dames and big dumb lugs and unpretentious heroes, you won’t be disappointed. This is volume of short pulpy stories for you.

At the heart of Bishop and Hancock’s Pulse Fiction Volume 1, are stories of regular men and women who defy the odds and save the day. Those stories inspire me. I recommend this book to all those not feint of heart who love a great story told in the true culture of fabulous pulp.

Thanks for the kind words! I really enjoyed those characters and would love to return to them someday.

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My Favorite Pulp & Pulp-Influenced Movies

200px-Indiana_Jones_in_Raiders_of_the_Lost_ArkThere’s a lot of great pulp-influenced movies out there — here’s a quick rundown of some of my favorites. Check ‘em out if you haven’t already!

First up is, of course, Raiders of the Lost Ark. All the Indiana Jones films are great but you gotta start with the first (and best).

Next, we have The Shadow. I know a lot of people don’t care for the Alec Baldwin flick but I thought it was great fun, even if it took some liberties.

The first two Mummy movies are wonderful fun — in fact, The Rook’s wife Evelyn was inspired by the female lead in these films.

Lee Falk’s Phantom came to life in a fun-filed movie starring Billy Zane. Is it perfect? No. But it’s still wonderful — and my young son really enjoyed it.

And finally, The Rocketeer. Based on the Dave Stevens’ comic, this was a fun little film — and features the deliciously lovely Jennifer Connelly.

What are some of your faves?

What’s Going On?

1335184765-Knhyugmoijmlop-Not much, at least writing-wise. I continue to work 12 and 13 hour days at the new job and when I’m not doing something related to that, I’m usually reading, spending time with my family or just trying to relax.

I do know that a number of projects should see print soon — Lazarus Gray Volume Five, The Rook Volume Three Special Edition, Gravedigger Volume Two and a few special projects for Pro Se’s Single Shots line should all be released before the year is up.

I wish I could tell you that the crossover novel would, too, but that’s not likely to happen — it’s stuck at around 37,000 words right now.

In terms of television, Orphan Black wrapped up a great second season and I’m currently enjoying Halt and Catch Fire, a computer-industry series set in the 1980s and airing on AMC. Good stuff with excellent work from actor Lee Pace. Highly recommended.

In comics, I’m loving Original Sin, Amazing Spider-Man, Justice League (regular and United) and Batman and… (written by Peter Tomasi). Lots of good stuff.

I’ll be back soon, folks. Hang in there!

My Favorite Comic Book Stories

jla-200Welcome back to Ye Olde Blog!

I thought I’d take a few minutes to talk about some of my favorite comic book stories today — some are storylines/epics, others are one-off issues. Most of them come from my younger days because nostalgia rules us all, don’t you know?

Here are a few of my faves:

JLA/Avengers by Kurt Busiek & George Perez – I was gutted when the original was scuttled back in the Eighties but this was a worthy substitute and I still pull it out to re-read on occasion. Great art and a wonderful story.

JLA 200 – This was an all-star extravaganza with a wonderful wraparound cover by George Perez. Basically, the original 7 Leaguers are mind-controlled and forced to fight the newer members of the League, with each chapter drawn by a different superstar artist (like Brian Bolland & Jim Aparo!). This was the gold standard anniversary issue to which I hold all others. Written by Gerry Conway.

The Great Darkness Saga by Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen. Amazing artwork, a tense story and the greatest use of Darkseid EVER. I was already a Legion fan but this put me over the top.

New Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman & George Perez. The whole damned thing.

Excalibur by Chris Claremont and/or Alan Davis. See New Teen Titans.

Sinestro Corps War by Geoff Johns. Loved it and it flowed smoothly into the later (also excellent) Blackest Night.

The FF/Nova crossover by Marv Wolfman. I really dug this when I was a kid, all the way up to the amazing Galactus/Sphinx battle.

Crisis on Infinite Earths — the greatest “crossover” of all time. When the first issue came out, I was so excited that I asked my mom to run out and buy it as soon as it hit the stands. I bought two issues of every issue — one to save and one to read. My “reader” copies were read so much they fell to pieces.

Action Comics by Marv Wolfman & Gil Kane. I was a huge fan of this run at the time and I was thrilled when it was reprinted in a big glossy hardcover.

The Hobgoblin Saga by Roger Stern. This blew me away as a kid and I still re-read it (and Stern’s return with Hobgoblin Lives!). Great stuff with some awesome JR Jr artwork.

The Generations Saga by Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway — As a major fan of the Earth-Two heroes, I was psyched beyond belief to see the JSA and their kids interacting. Classic stuff.

All-Star Comics – The entire 1970s run by Gerry Conway and Paul Levitz. I adore it. I treasure it. It rocks so hard. That first issue with the cover announcing the arrival of the “All-Star Super Squad” is one of the greatest memories I have as a young comics fan.

What are some of your favorites?

Liberty Girl Gets A New Five Star Review!

Raven posted the following review of Liberty Girl on Amazon:

Liberty Girl by Barry Reese Based on the work of Dennis Mallonee

The Liberty Girl is in reality Elena Hunter, daughter of a certain bronze skinned adventurer of the 30’s and 40’s. Once part of a group of super-powered adventures known as The Vanguard of Freedom; The Liberty Girl has been missing in action for fifty years. Until today—

Senator Ted Brooks, once a famous lawyer and member of Elena’s father’s Fabulous Five, has been looking for signs of the return of Elena or her father for decades. When a storm of unknown power rips through a US Army monitoring base in Yucca Flats, Lt. Colonel Jacqueline Daniels knows the implications. Either Elena or her father has returned. It turns out to be Elena. The date is July 4, 2006.

Liberty Girl’s return is soon tested by a being known as Daemon Kruze. But the barriers Elena’s father placed around an entrance to hell still hold. But another super-powered villain appears, as Zachary Telsa uses his grandfather’s Zapper costume to endeavor to get revenge for the old man’s death at the hands of Liberty girl decades before.

And so it goes. Life in a post 9/11 world is far different than the world Elena is used to. The press is more demanding. Every move that she makes, no matter how heroic, is viewed under the microscope of public opinion. Other powerful enemies arise. Through it all, Liberty Girl must stay true to herself. She is a champion of liberty. Friends die. Bad guys cause havoc. But she must stay the course of truth, justice, and the American way.

Barry Reese (The Rook, Lazarus Gray, Gravedigger) does a wonderful job of presenting this tale of the Liberty Girl. With his usual flare for pulp action, he makes every page interesting; every paragraph a building block for the story he is creating.

I give his book a perfect five stars out of five for pure pulp action and madness! I can hardly wait for other books Barry Reese has announced to be released! Encore!

Quoth the Raven…

Thanks, Raven! It was fun working on this project and I look forward to whatever future books Pro Se releases with the character!

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The Secret Origin of The Claws of The Rook

claws_front_smallAfter I’d finished the fourth volume in the Rook series, it occurred to me that I’d introduced quite a few supporting characters that were worthy of stories in their own right: Leonid Kaslov, Catalyst, Revenant, Rachel Winters, Frankenstein’s Monster, etc. I decided it would make perfect sense to throw some of those characters together and create a spinoff project from The Rook Chronicles. I decided to leave out Kaslov and focus on the other four heroes I just mentioned, allowing The Rook to serve as their funding agent. I wanted to do the pulp equivalent of the old Batman and the Outsiders series: Batman brought together heroes to serve as his private strike force, handling things he didn’t have the time to do.

This strike force would be known as The Claws of The Rook, or simply “The Claws.”

The Claws of the Rook were meant to be introduced in their own volume, which would be set in-between volumes 4 and 5 of The Rook. The Rook would appear in a major fashion in the first story, then fade into the background, to be used as needed. The first story (“The Diabolical Mr. Dee”) was written and I think it turned out fairly well, though I was obviously still finding my footing with the series.

Then came “A Plague of Wicked Men.”

I forget who came up with the idea of teaming the various Wild Cat Books heroes into one story but I know that Don Lee, Wayne Skiver, the Carney brothers, Ron Hanna and I were all involved in the plotting of the story, which would pit the heroes against a grouping of evil villains. Ron and Wayne wanted to kick the story off by killing an established pulp hero and they chose to make Captain Hazzard the sacrifice. I was worried about how this would look, since Hazzard was very closely identified with the editor-in-chief of one of Wild Cat’s major rivals but I wasn’t really the mover and shaker in the plotting. A scene (by Wayne) was written in which Hazzard was killed and I know Don Lee wrote a scene where the villains first came together.

Then, as is common in these sorts of things, the writers began flaking out. One person had legal issues, another had concerns about the plot, etc. The project seemed dead.

Then I asked if I could take the plot and twist it into a Claws of The Rook plot, rewriting the scenes already completed and tweaking it all into something that I felt I could handle on my own. Everyone seemed fine with that and Wayne was gracious enough to allow me to keep his character Prof. Stone in the story. I threw in the Black Bat, Ascott Keane and Ki-Gor to make it even bigger. The story turned out fairly well, though it struggled a bit under its own weight. There were elements of the original plot that I was asked to keep that I would have preferred to jettison but I worked with what I had.

There were now two Claws tales…

And then the decision was made to scuttle the Claws spinoff. Sales on the most recent volume of The Rook had been weaker than expected and it was decided to not dilute the brand at this point.

So what to do? I didn’t want to just shelve those stories but at the same time I was feeling burned out on The Rook and didn’t really feel like doing a solo Rook collection, either.

It was decided to take the two Claws stories and put them into The Rook Volume Five. A couple more Claws/Rook stories were added to flesh out the volume and voila, we had a book.

But it wasn’t a very good book, in my opinion. It suffered from the fact that you had a book entitled The Rook that spent a lot of time with the Rook not in it — I was fleshing out characters for their own series, remember, so I had deliberately tried to push The Rook into the background of those stories.

It was published, people seemed to regard it as weaker than its predecessors but still good.

Here’s where all the individual members of the team first appeared:

  • Catalyst (Nathaniel Caine) first appeared in “Catalyst” in The Rook Volume Three. The story is set in 1942.
  • Esper (Rachel Winters, later Rachel Caine) first appeared in “Catalyst” in The Rook Volume Three. As stated before, the story is set in ’42.
  • Revenant (Sally Pence) first appeared in “Death From the Jungle” in The Rook Volume Four. The story is set in 1943.
  • Vincent (aka Frankenstein’s Monster) first appeared in “Satan’s Trial” in The Rook Volume Four. This story occurs in late 1943, after “Death From the Jungle.”

The group comes together as The Claws of the Rook in 1944, operating out of a two-story house on Peachtree Street nicknamed The Aerie. The group’s meeting room was in the finished basement and there was an extensive library and armory on the second floor. The team first appeared together in “The Diabolical Mr. Dee” before teaming up with several other pulp heroes in “A Plague of Wicked Men.” Both of those adventures were set in ’44. In 1946, they took part in the missions dubbed “The Devil’s Spear” and “The Ivory Machine.” During the latter story, their ranks swelled with the additions of The Black Terror and his partner Tim, Miss Masque, and The Flame. All of those stories were recorded in The Rook Volume Five.

Nothing is known about the majority of the members past ’46, though in one possible future (“The Four Rooks,” The Rook Volume Four), we see that Catalyst is still alive into the 21st Century, having outlived his wife. Given that everything shown in the series post 2006 is just a potential future, it’s not carved in stone that this is anyone’s ultimate fate, however.

I sometimes miss these characters but I’m uncertain if anybody would really want to see them revived. If I do, I’m not certain that the public domain heroes like The Black Terror and Miss Masque will remain with the group — I’d suspect that they’ll become secondary members, who might pop up if needed. I’d probably keep the focus on the main four (plus The Rook).

What do you guys say? Anybody want to see these heroes return?

A Brief Update

20140704-142503-51903728.jpg“So, Barry, have you written anything lately?”

“No!”

That’s pretty much the truth. I’ve been working a few 12 hour days lately and this hasn’t left any time for my writing career. As such, the crossover novel is stalled at the midway point and the two new characters I’ve come up are not being worked on at present.

Hopefully, things will calm down at some point. Fingers crossed!

Our art today is the cover to The Rook Special Edition Volume Three – which should be coming your way in September.

 

Properties That Need To Be Translated Into Prose – ASAP!

night-forceMy buddy Jim Beard has had some success translating the Captain Action toy into prose and we’ve certainly seen novels based on tv shows, comic book characters and so forth over the years. But there are some properties out there that I’d love to get to see in prose… and maybe even write myself!

What things am I thinking about? Let’s see…

The Six Million Dollar Man – These days, he’d have to be updated to Six Billion or more, right? Anyway, I always thought this was a pulpy kind of show and I think it would be fun to see new prose adventures that followed the television continuity.

Challengers of the Unknown – Let’s pretend the Ron Goulart novel from the 70s never happened, okay? The notion of these guys living on borrowed time is a great one and would translate easily into a New Pulp take.

Sheena, Queen of the Jungle – Everybody loves a good jungle girl story, right? I think Sheena is ripe for a revival and updating. If Sheena were unavailable, maybe we could get the tragically aborted Savage Beauty concept revived and explored in prose.

Micronauts – This toy line spawned a classic Marvel comic book but revivals since haven’t been able to hit the right notes. I actually read a prose trilogy based upon one of the later continuities… and I think there’s a lot of potential here, even if it hasn’t always been present since Marvel lost the license.

The Phantom – We’ve had a great series of paperbacks written by Lee Falk and Moonstone did some fantastic anthologies featuring the hero but I’d like to see more Phantom prose adventures.

Night Force – This Wolfman/Colan creation was a lot of fun from DC Comics back in the day and I’d be ready to follow them into prose adventures, as well. Baron Winters is a great character and the premise is just made for a continuing series of adventures.

What old properties would you like to see revived in prose?

 

The “Other” Hero of The Rook Chronicles

Today I figured we’d spend a few minutes talking about the ‘other’ hero of The Rook Chronicles. Will McKenzie is introduced in the second Rook story and soon becomes not only best friend to our hero Max Davies but also a frequent companion on his adventures.

Some of the highlights include:

1937 – Will arrives in Atlanta and is introduced to Max by the mysterious Benson, a man who was risen above tragedy in his own life to become a hero in the employ of the government. The youngest police chief in the nation, Will has movie-star good looks and a fierce attraction both both the ladies and to danger. As we’ll see, the combination of those two interests is a particular problem for him! In his debut appearance, Will heads off into the Atlanta underground to help foil a vampire uprising “Kingdom of Blood”, The Rook Volume One).

1939 – Max and Evelyn become parents to a son that they name William, after their good friend (“Abominations,” The Rook Volume One). Later in the year, Will and an ex-girlfriend named Violet Cambridge become embroiled in a horrific adventure surrounding a cursed object, an ancient cult and Aleister Crowley (The Damned Thing).

1940 – Will travels to Berlin with The Rook and The Domino Lady to confront the organization known as Bloodwerks (“Bloodwerks, The Rook Volume Two).

1941 – Kidnapped by a Nazi agent known as The Iron Maiden, Will is able to not only escape her clutches but convince her that she’s fighting on the wrong side. Kirsten Bauer and Will are soon married.

Later in the Forties, we learn that Will and Kirsten are struggling to have a child. As of this writing, we don’t know if they ever succeeded or not. Will is actually in most of The Rook stories after his introduction but the above are some of the best. If you’re a big fan of Will, I’d definitely suggest you seek out “Kingdom of Blood” and The Damned Thing, both of which feature him very prominently.

New Pulp Recommendation: Staff of Judea (Rogue Angel # 41)

judeaEvery so often I focus on a New Pulp work that I think merits your attention. Sometimes it will be something that’s brand new, other times I’ll look at something that’s a few years old. This week, I’m encouraging you to check out Staff of Judea, which is the 41st book in the Rogue Angel series published by Gold Eagle. Before we launch into a detailed look at the book itself, let’s see how the publisher describes the volume:

The Staff of Aaron…the sword of Joan of Arc.After decoding an ancient scroll—one that purports to pinpont the treasure of the Jewish Temple, lost for two thousand years—archaeologist Annja Creed agrees to lead the party to recover the find in Judea. It’s a perilous desert journey through sandstorms and bandits, and complicated by mysterious sabotage within the group, to arrive at a long-forgotten fortress deep beneath a mountain. Only then does Annja discover that this archaeological expedition is really one man’s quest for the mystical Staff of Aaron, one of the Bible’s holiest and most powerful relics—a weapon they say can do incalculable harm in the hands of the wrong individual. She must try everything humanly possible to prevent the staff from being used for selfish purposes. Even if it puts her in the mightiest battle yet—sword against staff.Rogue Angel stars Annja Creed, archaeologist and host of a television series, Chasing History’s Monsters. In the very first book in the series (“Destiny”), Annja becomes the owner of a sword that once belonged to Joan of Arc. This sword can be summoned to her mentally — when she’s not using it, it floats in another dimension, waiting for her call.

Rogue Angel is a consistently entertaining New Pulp series — and one of the most successful, to boot. New books come out every other month and you can find them at your local grocery store or convenience center. I bought this one at a K-Mart… how many other New Pulp series can you say that about these days?

At first glance, Annja looks like a Lara Croft ripoff and I’m certain that played a part in her creation. But despite her beauty, the series does not pander at all… in fact, it’s almost oddly sexless. There’s no romance to be found in most of these — it’s straight-ahead adventure fiction, just with a female protagonist. Plots vary wildly from book to book but are almost always based around ancient myths and relics.

This particular volume is written by Joe Nassise, though it’s credited to the house name of Alex Archer on the cover. The story moves quickly and, while it gives you sufficient historical detail about the Staff of Aaron and the various mysteries being explored here, it’s never a dry read. Some old faces from the series (like Roux) reappear but for the most part, Annja is with new characters in this novel and they play off of her very well. I sometimes worry when we delve into Christian myths that we’re going to somehow become a little too spiritual for my tastes but it’s handled well here, with little difference from how they treat any other mythology.

If you want some fun reads that can bring you back every other month, I heartily recommend not only Staff of Judea but the entire Rogue Angel series.