Busy Morning!

hembeck_smallerIt’s been one of those mornings — and it’s not even 8:30 am here! First, I wake up to an email from one of my publishers, saying that a book is already being sent to press and they somehow have lost the most recent version of my story! So I had to hurriedly scrounge that one up and mail it to them. Then I recorded The Shadow Fan Episode 21 but halfway through my Audacity program started acting up so I had to start all over again.

Let’s hope it gets better from here!

I continue to make good headway on Lazarus Gray Volume Four. I’m currently writing a scene that uses Mayor Rainsford Byles, who previously appeared in The Adventures of Fortune McCall by Derrick Ferguson. Fun character and he fits very well with what’s happening in this particular story. Writing in a shared universe has its good and bad points — there are times that it can really limit you because you have to think of the effects your plans might have on others. But on the other hand, it can be a major boon. In this case, I knew Derrick had already created a character that would fit my purposes, so I didn’t have to do that on my own. I just re-read the scenes that Derrick used him in to refresh my memory (thank you, Kindle Fire, for that search feature!) and I was off!

Over on Facebook, Mark Beaulieu tagged me in a post where he said:

OK, so I’ve read through The Rook volume 5 and some of The Rook volume 6. I liked them quite a bit. The 5th volume is good once you realize it’s not just a Rook book. The best parts of the book are where the Rook is present and the weaker parts are with the other characters. Having said that, I liked the other characters, just too many at once. I haven’t read the Lazarus Gray story in the 6th volume because it’s in the Lazarus Gray book and I’m going to read those in order. No reason to possibly spoil something.

I should mention I’m really liking the Lazarus Gray book so far. I’ve finished the 1st three short stories.

Barry Reese has done some good stuff here. While I said some negative stuff above about the 5th volume, I did enjoy it. There’s some good bad guys in there and the stories have quite a bit in each one. I just prefer the solo Rook stories.

Once I’m done with the Lazarus Gray book, I’ll be starting Derrick Ferguson’s Fortune McCall book. Looking forward to that one quite a bit. I love his Sebastian Red stories and the one Dillon book I’ve read was fun.

I wanted to thank Mark for the kind words — I think that Volume Five is the weakest in the series. That book just got away from me, I’m afraid. While I really enjoyed the Claws of The Rook team, they did kind of dominate book 5. Originally, their stories were for a spinoff series that I was going to do for Wild Cat but when that fell through, they ended up running in The Rook series proper — which was probably a mistake. Anyway, I do think the series returns to form with “The Scorched God” that leads off book six.

Our art today is by the amazing Fred Hembeck. Fred has been delighting comics fans with his fun style and swirly knees for many years and it was so amazing to have him draw The Rook. I felt like I’d ‘arrived.’


Tarantino & The Art of Pulp

tarentinoWelcome back! First order of business is to let everyone know that Ubergeeks Episode 44 is now live – you can download it right now. If you’re subscribed, you can click on the Ubergeeks link at the top of this blog to figure out how to access it. This week, we spend a lot of time talking about FOX’s show The Following and its merits — plus its many faults.

If you’re not following me on Twitter, you’re missing out. I’ve been spewing most of my truly opinionated comments over there — so if you’re burning to know what I think about Stormalong Savage or the Wold Newton stuff or anything else pulp related, that’s where you can find it. My most recent tweets feed on this blog but the older stuff is accessible via Twitter itself.  Unlike my personal Facebook page, my Twitter account is pretty much writing-centric, with no updates about what cute stuff my little boy has been up to. It’s all pulp, writing, comics, etc. on Twitter for me.

Today I’m using an image of Quentin Tarantino to accompany this blog — mainly because I really like his films. He’s a very unique creator right now and even though he sometimes gives into his personal excesses, what artist doesn’t? My favorite Tarantino movies are: Django Unchained, Kill Bill, and Inglorious Basterds. I know, I know — where’s Pulp Fiction? I like PF but I don’t think it’s Quentin’s best work — not even close. It’s still good but if I want to break out a Quentin movie to re-watch, it’s usually Kill Bill though I think that Django will join that one in my go-to list of films to watch when I want to revisit an old favorite. I also have to confess to a bit of annoyance with PF because the title of that movie has meant that I’ve spent the better part of the past ten years telling civilians that my pulp writings have nothing to do with John Travolta or Samuel L. Jackson 🙂

What I love about Quentin’s movies is that you can easily see all the things he loves as a fan of the medium but he puts twists on them that make them feel unique to him. I find his films to be the perfect embodiment of the New Pulp movement because of that — he’s so obviously a fan of exploitation grind-house films and Asian cinema but he’s not just remaking those movies, he’s adding new elements that recognize the changes in film-making and society in general.

I try to do that with my own New Pulp writing — I want you to see my influences but I also want them to come through as ‘Barry Reese’ in some way. Hopefully I succeed more often than I fail — but I’m sure I give in to my personal excesses all too often.

Moving on, I’ll be recording a new episode of The Shadow Fan Podcast tomorrow — if you ever have a request for me to review or talk about something Shadow-related on the show, let me know!


Tuesday Nonsense

robert mcginnis. girl. 001Welcome to the Tuesday edition of Ye Olde Blog! A number of things are running through my mind this morning:

Heard the new David Bowie tune – “The Stars Are Out Tonight” – and really loved it. I’m a longtime Bowie fan and I’m thrilled to have him back, making wonderful music. I’m counting down the days to the album release!

Watched another episode of The Following last night, the Kevin Bacon series about a Poe-obsessed killer and his followers. It’s like a train wreck — I want to see how it ends but the amazing stupidity & incompetence of the FBI on this show continues to boggle my mind. Every episode, at least three things happen that leave me going “WTF?!!!” This is seriously some bizarre plotting with no real regard for common sense. And yet… I wanna see how they resolve this mess. I think my inner masochist is coming to the fore.

I should be recording a new episode of Ubergeeks tonight and there will be another The Shadow Fan coming on Thursday. I’m a podcasting fool. On The Shadow Fan, I’ll be talking about “The Shadow’s Rival,” a truly bizarre story from 1936.

I’m knocking on the door of 60,000 words on Lazarus Gray Volume Four. Featuring a whole host of characters who’ve popped up over the course of books 2-4, it really does put a nice little bow on the long-running storyline. Speaking of which, you should be able to read Volume Three very, very soon. I think you’ll enjoy it — but definitely keep in mind that the true end of that story won’t come until Volume Four!

Got some more cool artwork from George Sellas last night for The Rook Special Edition Volume Three — hopefully you’ll get Volume Two soon! We need to get these bad boys back into print!

Speaking of art, our accompanying piece today comes from the amazing Robert McGinnis, whose incredible covers caused me to buy lots of books that I never would have otherwise. Enjoy!

I Don’t Like Mondays

Gravedigger & Mitchell from 2013's Gravedigger novel. Art by Will Meugniot
Gravedigger & Mitchell from 2013’s Gravedigger novel. Art by Will Meugniot

It’s hard to believe that February is almost over… this year is truly going fast! March 1 will be the deadline for Pulp Ark voting so if you made your nominations (and, if you didn’t, why didn’t you?), you should have received an email from Tommy Hancock, detailing how to complete the final ballot. You don’t have to vote for me (though I appreciate it if you do) but do get those votes in. I fully support the Pulp Ark Awards, as they give the fans a chance to celebrate the New Pulp field that we all love.

I track the hits for this site daily, seeing what works and what doesn’t. To be honest, a lot of times it feels like a crap-shoot — I’ll post a fiery, blistering blog about something that I’m passionate about… and get zilch in the way of hits. I post a link to a funny cat video or something and I get a gazillion! LOL I will say that my hits for this month are going to end up being down about 1,500 from January. Why? The absence of the New Pulp Bestsellers List, which seemed to be the only reason some folks were visiting the site. While I hate to lose that traffic (my hope was that some of those folks were also sticking around for some of my other posts), I do love having my Monday mornings free. So I wish All Pulp well with the continued posting of their list!

I’m still having a blast writing Lazarus Gray Volume 4 — it’s so weird being so far ahead, though. I’m about to wrap up the end of the trilogy that will comprise books 2-4 and you guys haven’t even seen the middle part yet! It’s coming soon, though, and maybe I can convince Pro Se to sneak Volume 4 out there before the end of 2013. We’ll see….

Currently reading “The Shadow’s Rival,” an old Shadow novel from 1936. Just finished Mat Nastos’ newest and you’ll be seeing my review of that one in a few days.

I downloaded the Ghost Boy book from Airship 27 and will be giving that a look soon.

Our art today is by Will Meugniot and comes from Gravedigger, which should be out a month or two! I think you’ll really like Sovereign’s newest hero. It feels like I’ve been teasing it forever but soon you’ll be able to hold it in your hands or download it for your eBook reader.

I promise!

The Lazarus Gray “Epic” Storyline

mellisaclarke_glamourWelcome to another Sunday installment of Ye Olde Blog. I’m feeling pretty excited about upcoming projects and releases so I’m going to gush a bit today — bear with me.

I’m still sprinting towards the finish line on Lazarus Gray Volume Four and I’m prepping myself for the onslaught of publicity that will accompany the release of both Lazarus Gray Volume 3 and the first book in the Gravedigger series. I still don’t for 100% certain which one of those will be coming out first but I think my publisher is leaning towards Gravedigger. Either way, I think you’re going to really love these books — definitely the high point of my New Pulp writing career, I believe.

And when you get to the second story of Volume Four of Lazarus Gray and see how books 2-4 all fit together… I think some of you will be hurrying back to Die Glocke to verify that all the clues were there.

But they were, trust me! The sprawling story that spreads across Volumes 2-4 is so big, I’m honestly not sure where I’ll go from there. I’ll definitely take a little time to focus on other projects (like Tales of The Rook Volume 2 and Gravedigger Volume 2) before I return to Lazarus, so I’ll have awhile to think it over. I’m still stunned sometimes to realize that I’ve written six volumes of The Rook (not counting the anthologies) and I’m now wrapping up work on the fourth book of Lazarus Gray… Lazarus will have caught up to The Rook before too long! I suspect I’ll continue to be thought of as “The Rook guy” for awhile longer, though. That’s where I initially made my name, after all — and there are still a number of fans who prefer Max Davies to Lazarus Gray.

We’ll see how they feel about Charity Grace in a few months! Hopefully Gravedigger will become just as popular as my other two ongoing series have proven to be. The lovely lady who accompanies this post is one of the real-life models who inspired my take on Gravedigger’s physical appearance. The character’s costume (which I’ve shown here on the blog in the past) was designed to be functional and yet visually very different from both Lazarus & The Rook. I think George did an awesome job in designing it and Will Meugniot (who did the interior pieces for the book) really depicted it well.

Enjoy your Sunday, everyone!

Saturday Matinee: Jonny Quest!

DaveStevens_JonnyQuest#5_1986_100It’s another episode of our Saturday Matinee series! Every Saturday, I post a link to a movie or short feature that you can watch right here in your browser! If you have an idea for something that I can share with others, drop me a line!

This week, we have the first two episodes of Jonny Quest — including the pilot episode, which is before they added Hadji! I used to love this cartoon and still think it’s one of the greatest adventure shows ever. With a heavy pulp influence, I think it’s well worth your time — whether you’re viewing it with nostalgic eyes or for the very first time!


New Pulp Recommendation of the Week: Yesteryear by Tommy Hancock

yesteryear2000Greetings! Every Friday, I like to turn the focus onto a work of New Pulp that I’ve really enjoyed. Sometimes they’re new books, sometimes they’ve been out for a few years. It all depends on my mood. Today, we’re taking a look at Yesteryear by Tommy Hancock. This book was published by Pro Se Press in 2011 so it’s still a relatively new work but it’s proven popular enough that it’s already spawned a roleplaying game based on upon it! Before we get too far into my own comments about this book, let’s take a look at how the publisher hyped it:

YesterYear by Tommy Hancock, Published by Pro Se Press. Cover Art by Jay Piscopo, Interior art by Peter Cooper, Format and Design by Sean Ali. A world where heroes and villains existed since the day the market crashed and the world almost collapsed. Common people granted great powers and awesome responsibility. A world where one of them knew all the secrets, good and bad, and put them down in a book. A world where that man and that manuscript disappeared. Until now. YESTERYEAR is the first book in an epic series chronicling the adventures of Heroes and Villains, both in the Heroic Age of the 1920s-1950s and in the modern day. Centered around a missing manuscript that might hold information that could literally change history and even mean the end of the world, YESTERYEAR alternates between a fast paced modern storyline about the man who ends up with the legendary book and excerpts from the mythic tome itself. Marvel to pulp like adventures of glory and adrenaline and become engrossed in the humanity and horror of being a Hero. YESTERYEAR by Tommy Hancock-Sometimes the Greatest Mystery of Tomorrow happened Yesterday!

Like Van Plexico’s Sentinels series, this is one of those books that seeks to bridge the gap between pulp and the superhero comics that in many ways helped kill the golden age of heroes like Doc Savage and The Shadow. The connections between comics and pulp have been well known for decades but it’s been a relatively recent attempt to tie them together in prose. Hancock goes a slightly different route than Plexico in doing so — he makes this a historical piece, which allows him the freedom of inserting a bit of meta-fictional commentary. Don’t worry, though — this isn’t some sort of deconstruction of golden age heroism. Quite the opposite. While Hancock definitely inserts more realism into the setting and into the characters than the old stories he’s homaging would have done, he never loses sight of the innate need we have for true heroes.

The basic plot revolves around a journal that falls into the hands of J.C. Smitherson, a former boy detective who has grown up to be a writer & publisher. This journal was the work of Ramsey Long, once part of the Golden Age of Heroes in this universe. The secrets contained in this journal are ones that could tear the mythology surrounding the period asunder, which causes multiple factions to seek its destruction and the death of anyone who might have read its contents. This facet of the story reminded a bit of the end of Watchmen, in which Rorschach’s journal ends up being sent to a magazine’s slush pile and is a great way of providing story momentum.

The book is also quite interesting from a design standpoint, as there are multiple fonts and even cursive text used to depict the different passages from the journal. While some reviewers found this to be a bit off-putting, I thought it helped set the scene very well and enabled me to clearly tell when we were jumping around in time.

The interior art varies a bit in quality — some pieces are absolutely beautiful, others look a tad rushed. Overall, they do add to the package and allow us to adequately see the heroes & villains being described.

Should you read Yesteryear? If you like the Golden Age of comics & pulp, then yes, you should. It’s a quick read, propelled by Hancock’s fine writing style. The characters are engaging and never dip into the pastiche category — even when you can recognize the influences that inspired them, you are always aware of the differences that make them stand on their own.

Highly recommended!

Windy City News & More!

lg_v3_temple_smallWelcome back! I hope that all of you are having a good day so far — I expect a busy one on my end, so I’m trying to get a lot of things done early in the morning.

I posted The Shadow Fan Episode 20 earlier today so if you’re a fan of pulp’s greatest hero, you can start downloading that one. I spend a lot of time going over Dynamite’s plans for their Shadow books shipping in May 2013 before delving into a couple of novel reviews — I hit 1936’s “The Gray Ghost” and 1945’s “The White Skulls.” As always, it’s fun to chat about The Shadow!

Just started reading through Adam Garcia’s submission for Tales of The Rook Volume Two and it already looks like another winner. I think you guys will really enjoy this book.

It was announced yesterday that the Windy City Pulp & Paper Convention will have its first dedicated slate of New Pulp programming. While I won’t be in attendance, I really wish I could be because I think this is a big deal. A lot of the classic pulp crowd have been very slow to embrace New Pulp, not showing any interest in the new heroes and only a grudging interest in new stories featuring the classic characters. I can understand preferring one over the other but I find it strange the folks who say “I haven’t read all the old stuff yet. I don’t have time for this new stuff.” I read new stories & classic tales in equal amounts.

Anyway, I think it’s great that Windy City is recognizing the growing force that is New Pulp. We’re all fans of the original material and we have far more in common than we do in differences.

Pulp Ark voting ends on March 1 so if you got the email telling you that you were eligible to vote, please do so. I would certainly appreciate your votes but even if you decide to vote for others, get those votes in! It’s a good thing to recognize excellence and there’s certainly a lot of that in the New Pulp community.

Our art today comes from The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three and is by the amazing George Sellas. What’s going on in that dusty old temple? Stay tuned….


The Rotating Cast of Assistance Unlimited? Say What Now?

gorgeous-mellisa-clarkeWelcome to another day at ye olde blog. The big news for the morning is that a new episode of Ubergeeks has been uploaded so if you enjoy hearing Cari & I talk about every geeky topic under the sun, you’re in luck. This is our 43rd episode so we’re slowly making our way towards the big 5-0. Maybe we’ll do something special for that one.

Made good headway on Lazarus Gray Volume Four yesterday. I’m now approaching 54,000 words on the book and I think I’ve got a real firm grasp on where the story is going to go from here, though the very, very end could go in a couple of different ways. I’m not sure if I want a relatively happy ending or a downer ending, lol. A similar thing happened with Volume Two, when I came *this* close to killing Morgan Watts & crippling Eun Jiwon. My plan was to remove two members from the active team and replace them with Jakob and Abby. In the end, I decided that I didn’t want to shake up Assistance Unlimited quite so much, so the team simply expanded. If I had stuck to my guns, it would have led to the group being more like a ‘suicide squad’ of sorts where the reader never knew who was going to make it out of each adventure alive and I’d be shuffling in new people on a regular basis. I really like the family aspect of the series, though, and decided that I wanted to grow old with Samantha, Eun & Morgan… so I made the creative decision to avoid killing them. You can let me know if you think it was a good one — especially after you see what happens to the newly expanded crew in Volume Three!

I’ll be recording a new episode of The Shadow Fan tomorrow and while I’m still deciding what all I’m going to cover, I do know I’ll be reviewing The Gray Ghost, a classic novel involving an apparently-supernatural foe. If you have any novels or comics that you’d like to hear me discuss, drop me a line and I’ll add them to the queue.

Some folks have asked how I choose the images that go with each blog entry. Well, sometimes it’s obvious (I would think) — when I’m talking about a specific book or character, I’ll use an image that is appropriate. Sometimes I just choose something that’s thematically linked — my Monday post felt kind of contentious to me, so I used an image of pop star Robbie Williams in a fighting pose. And some days, I just use a picture that I like — such as today. Our model here looks a bit thoughtful and maybe somewhere in between melancholy and inviting… which is pretty much my mood at the moment.

All of that is a long way of saying that I use pictures that A. I like and B. feel emotionally appropriate to me at the time. Plus, if it’s a pretty girl, there’s nothing wrong with that! 😉

Lazarus Gray Volume 3… the countdown begins NOW!

LG3_cover_small_mockupSo I managed to sneak in a little bit of writing on Lazarus Gray yesterday – the first time in a few days that I’d been able to do that. I’d love to say that I have all the time in the world for my writing but, of course, that would be a lie. I have a day job, a family to spend time with and on occasion I like to relax, as well. All of that conspires to take time away from my writing — but I do want to get these stories out of my heart & mind, so I drag myself back to the keyboard on a regular basis. I’m making good headway on the current story and still think I can finish this before the end of February. I like to think that this fourth volume will complete a story that began in earnest with volume two — books 2-4 will really have to be read as one big, sprawling story. Hopefully, I’ll pull it off in a way that is satisfying for the fans of the series.

But before you get to read Volume Four, I suppose you’d like to check out the third book in the series, right? Well, The Adventures of Lazarus Gray: Volume Three is headed your way in just a matter of weeks, really. You’ll witness a global hunt for a demonic skeleton, the downfall of a hero, the debuts of The Darkling and Eidolon, werewolves & monsters… and a finale that will take your breath away! All of that, PLUS… the debut of Murder Unlimited!

It’s a book jam-packed with action and it’s all accompanied by a beautiful cover and a handful of stunning interiors illustrations, all courtesy of George Sellas!

Any guesses as to which member of Assistance Unlimited is going to trek down a dark path and become the anti-hero known as Eidolon?