The Bestselling New Pulp

So every week I jump over to amazon and check to see what’s selling among my titles. But this week, I decided to do something different — I listed out 10 recent New Pulp releases (books from the past few months) and then went and checked their Amazon Sales Ranks.  This is not meant to be taken as a full list, mind you — it was literally just the list of 10 recent books that I could think of  at the time.

Now, how Amazon calculates those things is mostly a trade secret and they vary wildly from day to day.If I checked this tomorrow, the list could be very different.

But these are the sales ranks as of Monday Morning October 31, 2011 (Happy Halloween, btw). These sales ranks do not include sales from any site other than Amazon — so they don’t include Barnes and Noble or face-to-face sales or sales through any other website. It’s only sales through Amazon. As an example, I know that Fortune’s Pawn is the bestselling book in Pro Se’s history but a large percentage of those sales obviously did not go through Amazon (at least not recently). So you have to take these sales ranks with a grain of salt.

But it’s still kinda interesting.

Without further ado, here’s the completely and totally unofficial New Pulp bestseller list as of right now (title then sales rank):

1) Doc Savage: The Desert Demons by Will Murray – 57,919
2) Deadly Games by Bobby Nash — 110,294
3) The Adventures of Lazarus Gray by Barry Reese – 191,612
4) Creeping Dawn: The Rise of the Black Centipede by Chuck Miller – 254,905
5) Halloween Legion by Martin Powell — 287,159
6) The Avenger: The Justice Inc. Files by Various — 289,681
7) Four Bullets for Dillon by Derrick Ferguson — 333,029
8 ) Hugh Monn, Private Detective by Lee Houston, Jr — 360,749
9) The Green Hornet Casefiles by Various  – 794,351
10) Fortune’s Pawn by Nancy Hansen — 2,140,604

Upcoming Appearances

I’ll be a busy boy in November! I’m speaking to about 45 teenagers next Thursday, answering questions about writing and getting published. Then I’ll be a guest on The Book Cave the week after that, talking with Ric and Art about The Adventures of Lazarus Gray.

I’ll be a guest at Virtual Con the weekend of the 11th, taking part in an online convention from the relative security of my webcam.

Later in the month, I’ll be doing a writing workshop in Macon entitled Making the Most Of Murder and Mayhem.

Recently submitted my guest application for Dragon Con 2012 and I’ll update you guys about how that goes. Pulp Ark 2012 looks doubtful for me but we’ll see.

The Rook: The Killing Games

At left is the cover to The Killing Games — art by Bob Hall and colors by Tom Smith. When the book will be out, I’m not sure — but it’s going to be part of a new Pro Se format, similar in some ways to Moonstone’s Widescreen books. It’s a short story with lots and lots and lots art accompanying it — basically a splash for every page of text or so. Should be interesting. Interiors are to be done by Pete Cooper. I think you guys will really enjoy the story!

A New Review of The Rook Volume Two

Veteran author Mat Nastos posted a review of The Rook Volume Two over on the Barnes and Noble site. Here’s what he had to say:

This was my first exposure to The Rook by Barry Reese and it was a pretty decent read – I read the ePub version that was $1.99. If you’ve ever read a book or story featuring one of the “mystery men” types of the 30s-40s (or, like me, remember them from cheap paperback novels in the 70s) – characters like The Shadow, The Phantom or Doc Savage – then you’ll know exactly what to expect here: lot’s of action and lots of simple, straight forward fun. If that’s what you’re looking for then you’ll thoroughly enjoy the adventures of the Rook, who takes a lot of inspiration from the aforementioned Shadow and Phantom.

The book is made up of 6 short stories all featuring Reese’s leading man, the Rook, and most guest starring a rather blatant (but enjoyable) Russian Doc Savage knock-off, Leonid Kaslov. The first tale, Kaslov’s Fire, is the best of the bunch. The rest are all enjoyable but feel way too short – most have solid build-ups with rushed endings.

All-in-all, The Rook Volume 2 was a really solid nod to the “men’s adventure” stories of the past and very well written. My only recommendation is that you pick up the eBook for $1.99. I’m not sure I’d have rated as high if I’d paid the $11.95 asked for a print copy.

Thanks to Mat for taking the time to post his review! “Kaslov’s Fire” has always been a very popular story with fans of The Rook. The only thing I would add with regards to the print vs. eBook argument is that the print versions contain interior illustrations. Volume two features some great pieces by Ver Curtiss!

My Days In the RPG World

I’ve always loved tabletop roleplaying games. I’ve played literally dozens and dozens of different systems but my all-time favorite is the D6 system invented by West End Games. They used it most famously in their Star Wars games from the late 80s through the 1990s. Elegant simplicity.

So after I’d been writing at Marvel for awhile, I decided I’d branch out into other avenues. I knew Nikola Virtis fairly well, since I ran a fansite devoted to West End’s DC Universe game and she’d been nice enough to send me some free stuff. When I asked if I could write for them, she put me on a book called D6 Space: The Fires of Amatsumara. By this time West End had lost the Star Wars license and were trying to reinvent themselves with various in-house setting. Amatsumara was basically Firefly, with a few modifications. When Nikola described it to me, it was Firefly-meets-Cowboy Bebop. Anyway, I was assigned about half the book to write and given a ton of free reign with the character. Basically, the high concept of the setting and brief descriptions of the planets were already in place but I had to flesh them out, fill the planets with characters (and stat them out!), then give a bunch of story ideas for each. It was fun and I included a few of my own homebrew characters in the setting, figuring that this would be the only one way I’d ever see them in print. I enjoyed it quite a bit and even started work on a second book for them (The Long Winter, about an earth frozen in ice after another Ice Age) but it was cancelled after I’d written about 8,000 words.

And then… well, I kinda wanted to get paid. I had a contract, after all. But West End didn’t send that check… and when I called the phone number on my contract, it had been disconnected. Uh-oh! So I tried emailing the guy in charge (not Nikola — she was always aces with me) and wouldn’t get a response, again and again. So I posted about it on the WEG message boards, which did two things: it finally brought the publisher’s attention to me (he wasn’t happy) and it brought out a bunch of fanboys who jumped all over me because they would have been glad to have worked for free. As I explained, I loved West End, too — and you know, I might have worked for free if they’d asked me to. I really dug the company and its system. But they didn’t. They offered me a contract and I felt I should get my money. I eventually did but it was well over 18 months after they had initially said I would get it.

I then did a book called Godsend Agenda: U.S.E.R.’s Most Wanted, which was basically a collection of villains. I got to dream up several dozen villains and stat them out — they used a variant on West End’s D6 System, so I was right at home. I enjoyed the experience and the folks at Khepera Publishing were easy to deal with. They wanted me to do more for them but I got too busy with the pulp stuff and never did.

And that’s my exciting adventures in the roleplaying game world. I learned that rpg publishers are, by and large, living on the edge financially. Anyone who thinks comics or pulp sales are low should look at the lower-tier rpg publishers to feel better about themselves. But the rpg world is filled with fans and it’s nice to see people working on things that they love. I’m glad I got the chance to work with WEG and Khepera.


Days of Future Past

So I’ve spent the past few days working on a Lazarus Gray story for volume three but I have a few other outstanding commitments that I need to get to soon. Once those are taken care of…

I’ve been pondering a new project, one steeped in Egyptian folklore. I think it would be set in the modern day and would feature a female protagonist. It’s still in the planning stages, though, and might not evolve into anything.

Occasionally I think about picking up Starstruck, the sequel to Rabbit Heart. I’m about 10,000 words into the story but set it aside for various reasons. Part of my reluctance to finish it is that I kind of like Rabbot Heart as it is and I’m afraid a sequel would dilute that world. Likewise any sequel to The Damned Thing. Over the years, I’ve had tons of requests for a Leonid Kaslov story but I’ve never been able to come up with a strong enough idea.

There are still a few public domain characters that I’d like to do some stuff with (or return to, since a few of them I’ve written before): Seekay, The Black Bat, more Ki-Gor. I’ve never read much of the aviation pulps and have been thinking about trying one in anticipation of trying to write something in that arena. I used to love Chuck Dixon’s Airboy series so I’m not totally unfamiliar with the genre.

Hey, I’m open to suggestions, too, if there’s something somebody would like to see me write.

In keeping with the “future” angle of the post, I’m sharing something very special from the vaults today. When Anthony Castrillo and I were discussing possibilities for the cover of The Rook Volume Three, I suggested he do a pulp takeoff on the classic John Byrne “Days of Future Past” image. On the finished project, The Rook and a scantily-clad lady are obscuring the list of captured/wanted/slain heroes but here’s the piece as drawn BEFORE The Rook was added. So you get to see the final fates of some of your favorite heroes…. Fun stuff, I think.

The First Review of The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Is In!

Michael Brown reviewed the book over on Amazon — so here’s his review, with my responses sprinkled in. My responses are in bold and italics:

This is a collection of stories of a new neo-pulp character from writer Barry Reese. I have been reading his Rook series (he has other works as well, but those are the ones I’ve been reading). This character, Lazarus Gray, is sort of inspired by the classic pulp hero The Avenger. He is also set in a fictional town called Sovereign City (created by Pro Se publisher Tommy Hancock), part of the “Sovereign City” project that will see collections of at least 2 other characters from Pro Se).

I think we’ll see the Fortune McCall book from Derrick Ferguson next and then Tommy’s Doc Daye. Then you’ll see Lazarus Gray’s next adventure… should be lots of Sovereign stuff in the future.

Lazarus Gray is also set in the same ‘universe’ as Barry’s Rook character, and we get an updated chronology of his “universe” in the back of the book that places both the Lazarus Gray stories (included the next 2 volumes) plus the Rook stories and a few others.

This volume is a collection of 7 Lazarus Gray stories. Three of them previously saw print in Pro Se’s now defunct “Peculiar Adventures Magazine”. And the last story has a team up with the Rook that originally appeared in the Rook v6.

Who is Lazarus Gray? Well, he’d like to know as well. We find out in the first story that he woke up on the shores of Sovereign City with no memory of who he is, and with a strange medallion with the name “Lazarus Gray”. He started to work to help people, formed “Assistance Unlimited” with 3 associates he helped out. As noted, this is similar to the origin of The Avenger and his Justice, Inc, but also different. He will learn more about himself in the stories in this collection.

All the stories have a supernatural element to them, and this also ties into Gray’s mysterious past. In a couple of stories, Reese adds in the golden age comic book villain The Claw to his “universe”. Maybe this character will return. Overall, all these stories are great.

That story featuring the Claw features a number of elements that Tommy Hancock asked me to include. He has plans for The Claw in his Doc Daye series. I like the character of The Claw so I certainly didn’t mind setting things up for Tommy.

Am enjoying the series, and will look forward to the future volumes.

Good to hear!

There are few negatives to point out. I would have liked the cover to better reflect the description of Gray, who is noted to have gray hair with some brown, not blonde hair. In the first story, he is described as wearing an outfit similar to the Warner Brother’s Avenger covers, but in the later stories this is not mentioned. I would like to see a more consistent description of his outfit given. One of the characters is reveal to be gay. I don’t have an issue with that, but the reaction of the other characters isn’t what I would have expected for the time of the story (1930s). I also have to point out I saw a few typos and such in this work. Need better proofreading.

The color of Gray’s hair on the cover is  not 100% accurate, that’s true. As for his outfit, perhaps my memory is playing tricks on me, but I thought in the later stories I mentioned that he was wearing a suit and tie at various points. I figure he wears different outfits at various times — he doesn’t have a ‘costume,’ just functional clothing.

As for the reaction to Eun’s sexuality — you’re right in that their reactions were not typical of the time. Even Eun was surprised that none of them had a real issue with it, which is why he kept it from them for so long. Ultimately, I think the members of Assistance Unlimited are a family and they’re enlightened enough (even in the 1930s) to realize that who Eun takes as a lover isn’t a really important thing to them. They know and love Eun as a person, regardless of his sexuality.

Sorry about the editing — I know the folks at Pro Se were very diligent in reading over the text and making corrections. Just in terms of flipping through the book myself, I find the editing to be much stronger than most of the pulp presses I’ve written for.

Thanks for the review, Michael! I’m glad to know you’re going to be reading future books in the series.


Weekly Sales Check

It’s that time again, where we bounce over to Amazon and see what’s selling. The five bestselling Barry Reese titles on are:

1) The Avenger: The Justice Inc. Files (Moonstone Books)

2) The Green Hornet Casefiles (Moonstone Books)

3) The Adventures of Lazarus Gray (Pro Se Press)

4) Savage Tales of Ki-Gor, Lord of the Jungle (Wild Cat Books)

5) Rabbit Heart (Wild Cat Books)

A lot of familiar titles in that grouping — and once again, there’s no Rook title amongst them. Strong sales on Lazarus Gray, though, which bodes well for the future books in that series.


What Is New Pulp? Another View

Mat Nastos has an interesting post over at his blog and it’s worth checking out. I don’t agree with everything he says (I think his definition of “cheap” print is a bit different than mine – a print book priced around ten bucks IS cheap in today’s market), but he says it all well and raises some interesting points. Check it out!


Murder Unlimited!

So in the Lazarus Gray story I’m working on right now (for the eventual third volume), I introduce a group called Murder Unlimited, which is obviously meant to be a counter to Lazarus Gray’s Assistance Unlimited. I don’t want to give away too much about the group but it has five members — two who will be familiar to readers of the series and three who are introduced in this story. Doc Pemberley, introduced in “The Girl With the Phantom Eyes” and then brought back in “The Burning Skull” will return once more and Princess Femi, introduced in “The Corpse Screams at Midnight” and revived in “Die Glocke” will return from the grave for another go-round with Lazarus. I’m trying to do a mix of old and new villains as we progress through the series — I think that having a few who return again and again is a fun thing to do but I don’t want things to devolve into an umpteenth encounter between Lazarus and a foe. Each time they return, something new should be done and new twists should be added. And some villains — including one who was major throughout The Adventures of Lazarus Gray — will get their comeuppance and stay gone forever. So… sometime, someday, all of you will be introduced to a group of five villains who are every bit as capable as Assistance Unlimited, but their arrival will spell doom for Sovereign City.

Great fun!

Artwork courtesy of George Sellas.