After I’d finished several stories in The Peregrine 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 Peregrine Chronicles. I decided to leave out Kaslov and focus on the other four heroes I just mentioned, allowing The Peregrine 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 Peregrine, or simply “The Claws.”
The Claws of the Peregrine were originally meant to be introduced in their own volume. The Peregrine 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 Peregrine 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 Peregrine 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 Peregrine and didn’t really feel like doing a solo Peregrine collection, either.
It was decided to take the two Claws stories and put them into The Peregrine Volume Five. A couple more Claws/Peregrine 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 Peregrine that spent a lot of time with The Peregrine not in it — I was fleshing out characters for their own series, remember, so I had deliberately tried to push The Peregrine 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:
The group comes together as The Claws of the Peregrine 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 are now available in The Peregrine Omnibus Volume Two.
Nothing is known about the majority of the members past ’46, though in one possible future (“The Four Peregrines”), 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.
We also know that The Black Terror is still alive in 1964 as he plays a role in ASSISTANCE UNLIMITED: THE SILVER AGE.
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 Peregrine).
What do you guys say? Anybody want to see these heroes return?
That one word title (complete with exclamation point) was our introduction into the world of Rom Spaceknight. Issue # 1 was published with a cover date of December 1979 and the series, written by Bill Mantlo and initially pencilled by Sal Buscema, took a failed Hasbro action figure and transformed it into one of the most beloved Marvel Comic series of the Eighties.
Rom protected Earth for 75 issues and four annuals before finally heading off to enjoy retirement with his lady love. In the year 2000, Jim Starlin and Chris Batista revived many of the concepts in a Spaceknights miniseries but because of licensing issues, Rom himself was not named as such in the comics.
Rom returned to comic book life with a rebooted backstory in 2016’s Rom series from IDW. This book was actually pretty good but many fans missed the old Marvel connections.
I’ve always enjoyed Rom and thought he deserved closer inspection… which is why I’m proud to announce that my newest project is ROM SPACEPOD, a podcast dedicated to discussing every comic book appearance of our beloved Spaceknight. We’ll start with issue one of the Marvel series before covering all the rest of his classic stories and when that’s over, we’ll move on to the Spaceknights miniseries and then we’ll check out IDW’s revival… and hopefully there will be plenty of material from to keep us going from there.
We’ll have guests on the show but much of the time it’ll just be me and (hopefully) you. Look for the first episode to drop soon – master graphic designer Sean Ali is currently cooking up a logo for the show!
It’s amazing to think we’re already in September. This year, with all its change, has been going by so fast. When the year began I was married… living with my wife, son and mother-in-law… now I’m closing in on six months of being on my own in a new place. On top of all that, I’ve sold pretty much every character I’ve ever created to Pro Se Productions. It’s scary how quickly things can change.
So what’s been going on? Let’s see:
I’ve been spending most of my television time lately binging Brooklyn Nine-Nine (love this show!) and Veronica Mars, neither of which I had ever watched before.
Went to Dragon*Con in Atlanta for Labor Day weekend. Saturday was an absolute horror show. Crowds were awful, with a two-hour wait to get into the vendors area and us failing to get into practically every panel we wanted to see. Sunday was much better, though my bank account might disagree!
Haven’t written much this week. I don’t know if it’s just the writing doldrums or some side effect of having sold the characters but not even writing Lazarus Gray has appealed to me. Hopefully I’ll break out of it soon.
My son turns thirteen this coming weekend – again, time flies!
Looking forward to the new installment of IT this weekend. So far my favorite films of the year have been Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, Spider-Man: Far From Home and Ready or Not.
I have a new podcast that I’ll be working on that I’ll reveal soon – I hope you’ll give it a listen when it’s ready for its public debut!
What have *you* been doing?
Things went kind of crazy after the announcement that Pro Se had bought my intellectual property – my Facebook lit up and we got a lot more traffic here on the blog than usual. I think it’s all calmed back down now and I’ve begun writing Lazarus Gray # 12.
Went and saw Ready or Not this weekend and I highly recommend it – if you love horror movies, it’s a must-see. It had me grinning from beginning to end. The film has a wicked sense of humor, plenty of action and a star-making performance from Samara Weaving. I truly loved it – it and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood are my favorite movies of the year so far.
Since I’ve returned to podcasting with In the Stacks with Barry & LaToya, I’m thinking of starting up another show – no, it won’t be The Shadow Fan making a return. I want to do something new but I have too many options! We’ll see what I come up with.
What follows is the press release announcing the sale of my Reese Unlimited properties to Pro Se Productions. For those of you wondering what this means, just know that I wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t thought it was a good deal. I’ll still have the ability to write new Lazarus Gray novels (he’s the character nearest and dearest to my heart)… it’ll just be work-for-hire instead of being “mine.” I’ve been privy to some of Pro Se’s plans for this universe of characters and I’m pretty darned excited to see them! I’ll continue writing – and blogging – about Reese Unlimited. The changes are really just behind-the-scenes things – I know that some of these characters are beloved by many readers and, rest assured, they are in good hands.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRO SE PRODUCTIONS PURCHASES AUTHOR BARRY REESE’S ‘REESE UNLIMITED’ PROPERTIES! MAJOR PLANS IN WORKS FOR ICONIC NEW PULP CHARACTERS!
In 2011, Pro Se Productions, then a fledgling New Pulp Publisher, licensed the property now known as The Peregrine, a well known character in the New Pulp Movement even at that time, from author Barry Reese. In eight years, now award winning author Reese has not only continued to publish with Pro Se, a cutting edge independent Publisher of New Pulp and Genre Fiction, but he has become prolific enough that Pro Se gave its first author imprint to his universe, calling it REESE UNLIMITED. Characters such as Lazarus Gray, Gravedigger, Babylon, and many others populate the literary world Reese has created. Today, Pro Se Productions announces the acquisition of all creations, publications, and all rights to concepts created by Barry Reese that are under the umbrella of REESE UNLIMITED.
This is an opportunity,” says Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief of and Partner in Pro Se, “that doesn’t come along very often. First, to be associated with a creator of Barry’s caliber for so long and to watch a literal entire fictional universe grow from his work is an honor all by itself. But now, to be trusted with the creative future and success of these worlds he has created, to not only carry on the quality of work Barry has produced, but to be able to expand on it, both with more works from Barry and new projects featuring other writers, honor doesn’t even cover it. Now as a permanent part of Pro Se Productions, we will carry on the legacy Barry successfully started- to make REESE UNLIMITED not just the name of an imprint, but a proven fact. There’s no limit to where these concepts can go.”
Reese will continue as the sole author of THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY, seven volumes published and four more already completed. He will also contribute, by his choice, to future works. In the coming days, Pro Se will make announcements concerning plans and submission calls for a variety of characters in the REESE UNLIMITED catalog, including The Peregrine, Gravedigger, Babylon, and many others. Anthologies and novels are being considered for multiple characters, with the intent to produce 4-6 books a year in the REESE UNLIMITED line.
“All creative people understand that their characters are like children,” says Reese, “and there are very few people on this planet that I would trust with my ‘kids.’ The folks at Pro Se have been like family to me and I definitely feel safe knowing that the various heroes and villains of the Reese Unlimited universe will be safeguarded by the likes of Tommy Hancock. I’m looking forward to continuing my association with Lazarus Gray and I’m eager to see what Pro Se has up their collective sleeves for the likes of Gravedigger and The Peregrine.”
Any authors interested in being a part of the plans Pro Se has for the REESE UNLIMITED imprint, may email Hancock at email@example.com for further information.
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