Month: March 2013

From the Vault: The Importance of the Supporting Cast

Li Yuchun, one of Gravedigger's agents - depicted by Will Meugniot!
Li Yuchun, one of Gravedigger’s agents – depicted by Will Meugniot!

In classic pulp, the best heroes had rich, well-characterized supporting casts. What would Doc Savage be without his Fabulous Five? How would The Shadow handle the dangers of organized crime without his plethora of aides? And The Avenger is so associated with Justice, Inc. that it’s hard to separate them.

That’s why I’ve always put a strong emphasis on giving my heroes a strong cast of characters surrounding them. These characters are not only expository sounding boards (though they work well for that, too), they also bring to light different areas of the hero’s personality and often accompany them on adventures. In The Rook series, we have Evelyn, his lover and companion. We also have Will McKenzie, Leonid Kaslov and even his maid, Nettie. All of those characters are, to me, so interesting that I could doing an entire story featuring them.

I took that to the next level with Lazarus Gray — Assistance Unlimited are active participants in every adventure and when designing them, I consciously tried to make characters who could star in their own pulp adventure series if it came to that.

Gravedigger has a number of agents that she utilizes and each has a very different personality. There’s the dangerously grim Mitchell and the devil may care Li Yuchun, just to name two.

The ultimate driving force behind an adventure series should be the main character but I don’t think they always have to be the most interesting personality — that’s kind of strange thinking, I know. But often, the classically heroic figure at the center is stoic and unshakeable. It’s the people around him who doubt, who fail and who have to rise above. That’s not always true, of course — but I’ve written series where it’s clear that the really interesting personality-based stuff happens around the hero, not to him. The hero is there to drive the story forward and save the day — but when you get right down to it, the story was just as much about the effect his actions have on his friends as anything. I think that’s okay, too.

I’ve had requests from fans to do solo stories featuring Leonid Kaslov, the Assistance Unlimited cast, etc. I expect they’ll do the same when they meet Gravedigger’s crew. Eventually, maybe I’ll do that. But for now, I think some of those characters’ appeal stems from the way they orbit the hero’s world… remove Kaslov from The Rook’s setting and you have a Russian Doc Savage, interesting perhaps but even more so because of the way he plays off our main character, I think.

Saturday Matinee: Defenders of the Earth

defendersEvery Saturday, I find a movie or clip that I think will appeal to the readers of my blog. Since most of you enjoy action & adventure, I generally veer in that direction. This week, I want to share with you one of my guilty pleasures: The Defenders of the Earth animated series. Pairing many of King Features’ greatest heroes, Defenders of the Earth gave us a superhero team consisting of Flash Gordon, Mandrake the Magician and The Phantom, along with their kids and sidekicks. It wasn’t the best series of all time but I loved seeing all my favorites united on one show.

Not only do I have all the toys and the DVD set, I also own the comic book spinoff. Fanboy alert!

First up we have the intro for the show, along with its oddly memorable theme song:

Then we have a Robot Chicken parody of the show:

Enjoy!

New Pulp Recommendation of the Week: The Third Caliph

rogueangelEvery Friday 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 The Third Caliph, which is the 40th book in the Rogue Angel series. The author listed on the cover is Alex Archer, which is a house name. The actual writer for this book is Mel Odom, who is thanked for his contributions on the inside cover. Golden Eagle does the same thing with it’s Executioner series. Here’s how the publisher described this volume:

A holy war. An ancient scroll lost in history…until now.During a dig in Morocco, archaeologist Annja Creed and her companions are nearly buried alive when the khettara ceiling collapses, revealing a 1,300-year-old corpse. But when Bedouin bandits raid the camp, Annja barely escapes with her life…and half of a scroll in ancient Kufic script. Her companions’ survival now depends on her.The scroll dates back to 656 AD, when Muslim raised sword against Muslim and the assassination of the third caliph left no clear heir to Muhammad’s teachings. It’s a coveted find. Annja quickly finds herself caught between a devious terrorist whose family honor depends on destroying what she possesses and a ruthless CIA team. Both believe the end justifies the means. And that Annja cannot allow.

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 book is a good one — a solid read, with a clearly defined plot and solid action. Mel Odom was one of the original authors on the series and he really shines, showing off his understanding of the character. There are other books in the series that I’ve enjoyed more but this is a recent one, coming out in January 2013, and should be easy to locate.

If you love Indiana Jones, Lara Croft or The Librarian, you should check this series out. They’re quick, pulpy reads that maybe aren’t great literature but they are great fun. The first three books have been combined into an omnibus called Rogue Angel: Renaissance so you can dive in quickly. You can start anywhere, though, as they always recap the important information with each new story.

Gravedigger Review Contest!

gravedigger_small_colorOkay, gang, here’s the deal: the first three people to leave reviews for Gravedigger on Amazon will be entered into a drawing. If you win, I’ll send you a free, autographed copy of the next Reese Unlimited release! The reviews don’t have to be positive — if you read the book and hate it, that’s disappointing but it’s okay.

Just let me know when you’ve posted your review so I can be sure to include you in the drawing.

Go. Buy. Read. Review!

One of those rambling posts.

lollipopWelcome, one and all, to Ye Olde Blog!

Just uploaded the 25th episode of The Shadow Fan. If you’re a fan of The Shadow (and, if you’re not, why aren’t you?), download it and listen to me talk at length about Shiwan Khan’s debut in “The Golden Master” before I move on to issue 10 of Dynamite’s ongoing Shadow comics series. Long story short: “The Golden Master” is good and I really like The Black Sparrow. There. I just ruined the whole episode for you.

Spending part of today answering interview questions. I’ve got two sites who want to run Q&A’s with me about Gravedigger. I’m very flattered anytime someone thinks I’m interesting enough to seek out my viewpoints. I often find myself that interesting — but then again, all writers are a bit egotistical, aren’t we? I mean, we think our creations merit sharing with the world… so it’s no shock that I’d find myself worthy of public adoration lol

I’m in a strange mood today – I apologize. 😉

Still writing away on the Weird West tale, which is going well. I’m about halfway through the story. Once that’s been put in the mail to Mechanoid Press, I might go ahead and start Gravedigger Volume 2. I do have a few inklings about doing something completely new but I don’t think those ideas have coalesced enough for me to actually do anything with them.

Before starting on Volume 2 of Gravedigger, I’ll probably read over (re: “hard skim”) the first book to get me back into that mindset since I’ve been writing some other stuff lately. I do have to admit to being chagrined that I opened volume 2 and saw a typo on the very first page that I looked at. I literally screamed. Both myself and David White went over and over that damned thing — it’s the only one that I’ve noticed but it was still disappointing. Nobody’s perfect, especially me. Still, it’s only one word amongst about 60,000 so hopefully nobody will hold it against me.

I’m currently reading both a Rogue Angel novel and a biography of Oscar Wilde. Once I’m done with one of those, I’ll be diving into either Shiwan Khan Returns or Monster Earth. Maybe I’ll do both!

Take Care, guys.

Gravedigger Musings

Gravedigger_06_smallThe response to yesterday’s release of The Adventures of Gravedigger has been extremely gratifying! Most people are, of course, loving that George Sellas cover but a number of folks also seem very intrigued by the premise. Hopefully, once people have started reading, that enthusiasm will be rewarded.

I’m currently  replying to two different interview opportunities so you’ll see me talking about Gravedigger far and wide over the next few weeks. I’ll also be trying to line up some podcasting venues. Stay tuned.

Writing on the weird west tale is going well — I hope to finish it in the next few weeks. I might go ahead and start prep work for Gravedigger Volume 2 at that time since she’s definitely foremost in my thoughts at the moment. I have some definite ideas on where the character can go in the second book but there is that little cliffhanger that I left at the end of volume one that I’ll have to address right off the bat. Some of you may remember that I wanted to create a different sort of team dynamic for Gravedigger — whereas Lazarus Gray treats Assistance Unlimited as his equals, Gravedigger has agents whom she directs to do specific tasks, all aimed at helping her move more efficiently. That’s not to say she doesn’t care about her team – she does – but here the pecking order is quite clear: there’s Gravedigger and then there’s the people who follow her lead. As with The Shadow’s agents, they get their turn in the spotlight but you’ll never be confused about who the star of the Gravedigger series is: it’s Charity.

Anyway, the ending of volume one will sort of play into that. We’re assembling a group of people that Gravedigger will oversee… but she’s only got three years to redeem her soul, so there’s not a lot of time to waste.

And yes, I do have an endgame in mind. Of course, I can squeeze a lot into three years, believe me!

Our art today is one of Will Meugniot’s interior pieces for the book — remember, you only get to see the interior art if you buy the print edition! Pro Se doesn’t include the art in the eBooks.

I’m off to do some work but please help spread the word — Gravedigger is here!

 

 

Her Life Began… The Day She Died!

gravedigger_cover_low_res_cropped_with_copyThe long wait is finally over – The Adventures of Gravedigger Volume One is here! Featuring a gorgeous cover by George Selas and six interior pieces by acclaimed illustrator Will Meugniot, this book introduces a major new hero to my pulp adventure universe. Charity Grace is a young woman who has made some bad decisions in her life… but her worst one is deciding to break into the home of Josef Goldstein, a reclusive millionaire newly arrived in Sovereign City. Caught in the act, she’s shot.

But her death is only the beginning.

Continuing the theme of resurrection and rebirth that has come to define my major heroes, Charity Grace is given the opportunity to rise like a phoenix from the ashes but her renewal comes with an end date: she has three years to purify her soul or else she’ll be tracked down to Hell. She’s become a Gravedigger, another in a long line of mystic warriors who are charged with protecting our world from the demonic forces that threaten it.

In this book you’ll see elements related to the founding of Sovereign City (ideas passed on to me by Sovereign creator Tommy Hancock), meet a wide range of new allies and enemies for our heroine and even see her first encounters with both Lazarus Gray *and* The Rook!

eBook edition will be coming soon – but if you want to ogle the Meugniot interior pieces, you’ll have to get the print version!

Here’s the official press release, courtesy of Pro Se Press:
Pro Se Productions, a leader in Action Adventure and Genre Fiction, proudly announces the latest release from its first author centered imprint and one of the best Pulp writers today! Multiple award winning author Barry Reese has created yet another hero to add to his own modern Pulp Pantheon, which already includes such New Pulp standards as The Rook and Lazarus Gray. Reese Unlimited, an imprint of Pro Se, presents THE ADVENTURES OF GRAVEDIGGER VOLUME ONE, the latest entry into Pro Se’s Sovereign City Project.

Her Life Began…The Day She Died.

The Adventures of Gravedigger introduces the latest masked warrior to inherit the mantle of Gravedigger. A lost soul who has returned from the grave to take up a mission of justice and vengeance, Gravedigger stalks the streets of Sovereign City assisted by her faithful agents and surprising familiar allies! She is the last defense against the criminals, madmen, and bizarre creatures that prowl in the shadows!

According to Tommy Hancock, Partner in and Editor in Chief of Pro Se, “Barry consistently brings his best to each new project. What makes GRAVEDIGGER more than just the next Reese Unlimited title, though, is the fact that it’s a new tale he’s telling, new to him and to us. Very few people instill personal excitement and passion for a concept into their work the way Barry does and it definitely carries over onto the written page.”

“I wanted,” Reese states, “to create something that would continue the theme of personal rebirth that populates a lot of my work but I also wanted to do something a little bit different from The Rook and Lazarus Gray. I think I accomplished both with Gravedigger. She and her allies were really near and dear to my heart… by the end of the book, I considered them all to be personal friends. I hope readers will react in the same way.”

Gravedigger walks the streets of Sovereign City with Barry’s Lazarus Gray and Derrick Ferguson’s Fortune McCall, but brings a whole new flavor to that project. Hancock, the creator of Sovereign City explains. “Sovereign City is the best and worst of every large settlement of human beings you can imagine. In that sort of mix, there has to be heroes and villains will pop up. What Sovereign hasn’t had is an equalizer of sorts, someone who, while definitely a hero by definition, is not cast in the traditional Sovereign City mold for such. Barry delivers that with Gravedigger in spades, which will be needed to bury the bodies she leaves behind.”

Featuring a stunning cover by award winning Pulp Artist George Sellas and mind blowing interiors by renowned artist Will Meugniot. THE ADVENTURES OF GRAVEDIGGER is a stunning, horrifying new addition to Pulp! From Author Barry Reese, Edited by David White, with Format and Design by Sean Ali! THE ADVENTURES OF GRAVEDIGGER VOLUME ONE from Reese Unlimited and Pro Se Productions!

Available in print for $15.00 from Pro Se at https://www.createspace.com/4216431 and via Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/cnelfld ! Coming soon in digital format!