Month: January 2013

Let’s Chat, Shall We?

black-and-white-robert-downey-jr-sherlock-holmes-Favim.com-412789A whole bunch of things to talk about today so let’s all settle down and get started, shall we?

The Shadow Fan Episode 17 is now live — this time around I look at all the various projects that have had the title “The Shadow Strikes.” We talk about the 1937 movie, the 1964 Belmont novel and the 1989 DC Comics series. I don’t want to give away too much but I’ll say this: two are snooze-fests and one is a classic.

Thanks so much to all of you who visit my blog on a regular basis. This month set an all-time record for visits to the site and I appreciate all the time you’ve spent reading my ramblings. The comments on yesterday’s post were great — informative, hilarious and enlightening. I may steal Derrick Ferguson’s description of “sweaty man books” for my own work 😉

Reading The Shadow: The History and Mystery of the Radio Program, 1930-1954 by Martin Grams, Jr. — very interesting book and highly recommended if you have interest in The Shaadow radio program.

Tomorrow I’m debuting a new feature — New Pulp Recommendation of the Week. It was suggested by someone on Twitter and I’m going to give it a go. Basically, every week I pick a New Pulp book and tell you about, encouraging you to give it a try if you haven’t already. Stay tuned!

Tommy Hancock’s YesterYear novel is being turned into a roleplaying game. I’m so jealous! I’ve wanted to do that with my characters for years. One of these days….

Starting to firm up appearances for 2013. So far, it looks like I’ll be at Avalon Comics in Macon, Georgia for Free Comic Book Day; at the Georgia Literary Festival in November and somewhere in-between I hope to return to the Crossroads Writers Conference. Pulp Ark still looks unlikely.

Pulp? Yeah, Pulp.

When I was a kid, I was surrounded by the paperback reprints of the classic pulp heroes: Doc Savage, The Avenger, John Carter, Conan, etc. Those books excited me with their lurid covers and exciting characters, instilling a love for that kind of fiction that remains with me today.

These days, when people ask me what kind of things I write, I sometimes avoid describing it as “pulp” because most people have no clue what that means and I’m too tired of explaining it to bother. Sometimes, I say I write “horror, sci-fi and fantasy” but then folks expect to find elves or something in my books. A bunch of folks (of which I was one) spent a lot of time coming up with a ‘definition’ of pulp that runs like this: “Fast-paced, plot-oriented storytelling of a linear nature with clearly defined, larger than life protagonists and antagonists, creative descriptions, clever use of turns of phrase and other aspects of writing that add to the intensity and pacing of the story.”

Now that’s quite a mouthful so it’s not something I can just spout off at a moment’s notice. It’s a compromise, too, which means that nobody was really happy with it. And there are so many exceptions to the rule that the definition often sparks debate amongst pulp fans.

I understand the desire to want to brand ourselves as “pulp” — we love it and we want to be a part of it, to be seen as the inheritors of the mantle and the ones who continue to carry it forward.

But to the general public, pulp fiction is a movie that starred John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson.

I don’t have the answer for how to change that. Honestly, I think it will take that brass ring we’re all chasing — the book or character that “breaks out” and becomes popular to the mainstream. But when that happens, will the New Pulp label be brought with it? I don’t know.

In the end, pulp is kind of like pornography… I may not be able to define it, but I know it when I see it. Brendan Fraser’s The Mummy? Pulp. The Time Traveler’s Wife? Not Pulp.

Our art today is by George Sellas and features Leonid Kaslov in a scene from “Kaslov’s Fire,” The Rook Volume Two (re-released later this year).

New Pulp Links (Updated 1/29/13)

lg_v3_temple_smallThere are a lot of great New Pulp-oriented blogs out there and it’s easy to miss many of them. So here’s a few that I think might be of interest to my own readers. If you know of a blog that I’m not listing here, let me know!

Airship 27 – One of the largest New Pulp publishers out there.

All Pulp – Like the New Pulp blog but a bit more news release-heavy.

Bad Girls, Good Guys and Two-Fisted Action – Author Sean Taylor provides a nice mix of interviews and essays.

The Black Centipede – Chuck Miller’s New Pulp hero is one of the most intriguing out there and this site keeps you informed of all his doings.

Bobby Nash, Writer @ Large – A promotional website for author Bobby Nash.

Coming Attractions — The # 1 place to find out out everything pulp-related that’s out there. You’ll be amazed though your bank account may not survive the experience.

Dillon – Everybody’s favorite New Pulp hero and his creator (Derrick Ferguson) are featured on this site.

Fortress of Pulpitude – Geek Syndicate’s look at all things New Pulp.

Hidden Face Crime Fiction – Michael Famiglietti’s pulp fiction, interviews, reviews & commentary!

Ideas Like Bullets — Infrequently updated, this blog has plenty of author Tommy Hancock’s views about New Pulp.

InterroBang – Duane Spurlock’s blog, where he keeps everybody abreast of his upcoming work.

Mechanoid Press – A new publisher on the scene, established in 2012.

New Pulp Fiction – A great catch-all site that features news releases, reviews and columns.

The Nocturne Travel Agency – Tom Deja has been spending a lot of time recently talking about his newest work, The Shadow Legion. Good stuff.

Pro Se Press — Home of my own Reese Unlimited imprint.

Pulp Cosmic – Van Plexico’s newest blog focuses on a sub-genre of a sub-genre: cosmic-flavored pulp fiction!

Pulp Empire – A growing publisher of New Pulp

Pulp Fiction Reviews – Author Ron Fortier does a lot of New Pulp reviews on this site and he always has great points to make.

Runemaster Studios – Mike Bullock has written many of the classic adventure heroes and now he’s moving into New Pulp with characters like Xander!

Sgt. Janus, Spirit-Breaker – Jim Beard’s ghost-busting hero is featured here, with serialized adventures and more.

Wild Cat Books — One of the oldest New Pulp publishers.

Wrapped Up Like A Blog – The personal blog of author R.P. Steeves

Go and spread the New Pulp love!

The art accompanying this post comes from Lazarus Gray Volume 3 & is by the talented George Sellas!

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

mellisaclarke_eyesGood news, bad news kind of morning so far.

On the plus side, The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Two: Die Glocke is going to be in the running for the Georgia Author of the Year Awards. I’ve previously been nominated for Rabbit Heart and The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume One. It’s always nice to be included in the competition!

On the negative side, there was a poor review of my old novella Guan-Yin and the Horrors of Skull Island over on Amazon. I’m used to that, though — Guan-Yin is by far the least-popular of my works and I agree that it’s the most heavily flawed. It was also published by Wild Cat Books and they didn’t really do any editing to it so it’s just a big ol’ mess. But it’s my name on the cover and I take the blame lol

I’m continuing to work on Lazarus Gray Volume Four and it’s going well, I think.

Just finished reading The Shadow Strikes, one of the “Belmont Shadows” that were published in the Sixties. I’ll be reviewing it on The Shadow Fan Podcast this week, so stay tuned. The Belmont stuff is…. um… interesting. 😉

Also just finished Going Clear, an expose on Scientology. Fascinating reading — and highly disturbing. I also completed book one of the two-book reprinting I have of Judge Dredd: Necropolis. I loved it! One of the best Dredd stories I’ve read so far. Can’t wait to dive into book two.

Still thinking about Django Unchained — what a great movie! Brutal, hilarious and touching, all in the same flick. You can’t beat that.

Monday Stuff: New Interview, Django Unchained and More

djangoLots of things to talk about as we start a new week — and the first order of business is to direct you to Hidden Face Crime Fiction where you can read an interview with yours truly, conducted by the talented Michael Famiglietti. Michael and I had a great phone conversation about a wide range of topics, including The Rook, New Pulp, The Shadow and a lot more. Check it out and while you’re there, look around at the rest of his site. It’s good stuff.

Went to see Django Unchained this weekend and I LOVED it. I like Tarentino’s films but this one is right up there with Kill Bill as my favorite. Christopher Waltz does a stunning turn as Dr. King Schultz, a German bounty hunter with allies himself with Django, played by Jamie Foxx. All the performances were fantastic — Foxx was particularly impressive, as was Leonardo DiCaprio, Don Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson. It’s violent, yes, but it’s also funny, sad and touching. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Still working away on Lazarus Gray Volume Four — I probably won’t be able to finish it this week but by the end of February, it should be off to my publisher. Fingers crossed, people!

If you came here today looking for the New Pulp Bestsellers List, it will return next week  at its new home, which will be over at All Pulp.

From the Vault: The (Fictional) Women In My Life

Rachel-Weisz-rachel-weisz-120258_800_1101I’m mostly known for my male creations — The Rook & Lazarus Gray, for instance — but I’ve spent a good bit of my career writing female leads. Guan-Yin and the Horrors of Skull Island, The Damned Thing, Rabbit Heart and the upcoming 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’ll 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 Rook 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 Rook’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.

Judge Dredd (Marvel Heroic RPG Stats)

bolland-judge.dredd-01JUDGE DREDD
Joseph “Joe” Dredd
First Appearance: 2000 AD # 5 (March 5, 1977)

Affiliations: Solo D10 Buddy D8 Team D6

Distinctions: D4 (+1PP) or D8
“I Am The Law!”
Old Stoney-Face
The Helmet Never Comes Off

Power Sets:
Agent of The Justice Department
Law Giver MK II (Weapon) D8
Stum Gun (Weapon) D8
Daystick (Weapon) D6
Body Armor D8
Lawmaster Motorbike (Vehicle) D10
SFX: DNA-Coded. The Law Giver MK II is DNA coded so that if it detects an unfamiliar handprint, it will explode with an effect die of D10.
SFX: Dangerous. When using Hi-Explosive ammo in the Law Giver MK II, add a d6 to your dice pool for an attack action and step back highest die in pool by -1. Step up PHYSICAL STRESS inflicted by +1.
SFX: Ricochet. When using Rubber Richochet ammo in the Law Giver MK II, step up or double your attack die against a single target. Remove the highest rolling die and add 3 dice for your total.
SFX: Choose Your Poison. The Law Giver MK II has various forms of ammo that it can fire – Standard bullets, Rubber Ricochet, Armour Piercing, Heat-Seeking, Incendiary and Hi-Explosive.
SFX: Cyclops Laser. The Lawmaster Bike has side-mounted cannons and a centrally-located laser. The side-cannons do D8 damage and the Cyclops Laser does D10.
SFX: Immunity. Spend 1 PP to ignore stress or complications from gas or poison attacks.
Limit: Gear. Shutdown an Agent of The Justice Department power and gain 1 PP.

Academy of Law Training
Enhanced Reflexes D8
Enhanced Stamina D8
Enhanced Strength D8
SFX: Focus. You may replace two dice of equal size with one die +1 larger.
Limit: Exhaustion. Shutdown any power and gain 1 PP.

Specialties:
Acrobatics Expert D8 or 2D6
Combat Master D10 or 2D8 or 3D6
Cosmic Expert D8 or 2D6
Covert Master D10 or 2D8 or 3D6
Crime Master D10 or 2D8 or 3D6
Menace Master D10 or 2D8 or 3D6
Psych Expert D8 or 2D6
Vehicle Master D10 or 2D8 or 3D6

Background:
Mega-City One in the 22nd century, a vast urban nightmare situated along the east coast of post-apocalyptic North America. The irradiated wasteland known as The Cursed Earth to the west covering most of America, and the polluted Black Atlantic to the east. Home to 400 million citizens, crammed into gigantic city-blocks, overcrowding is rife, unemployment endemic and boredom universal. Tensions run a constant knife-edge, and crime is rampant. Only the Judges can prevent total anarchy. Empowered to dispense instant justice, these lawmen are judge, jury and executioner. The toughest of them all is Judge Joe Dredd and he is the law!

Judge Dredd, one of a number of clones of Chief Judge Fargo, is the most famous of the elite corps of Judges that run Mega-City One with the power not only to enforce the law, but also to instantly sentence offenders; to death if necessary. Dredd and his twin brother Rico emerged from the cloning facility as five year olds in 2066, which took only a matter of months. At this young age they are enrolled into the Academy of Law, and graduate 13 years later in 2079. While these details are featured throughout the years of comics, recently the Judge Dredd Origins story arc delves into the atomic wars and Dredd’s time as a cadet.