Secrets of the Dead

lg_origins_01_refined_roughHello, Tuesday!

Yesterday was kind of an interesting day here at the blog — I posted a picture of a pretty lady in a catsuit and it went viral there, with many people sharing the link and quite a few comments. And my hits…! I got about twice the usual number of hits that I do on a Monday. Fascinating. Perhaps I should start doing Catsuit Mondays or something.

Anyway, I shifted gears and started writing on Gravedigger Volume Two yesterday, as I really wanted to get this first chapter put down on paper. So far, it’s going quite well — if you enjoyed Li Yuchun in Volume One (and, if you didn’t, *why didn’t you???*), you’ll be pleased to know that she gets right into the thick of things with this one.

Also had a lengthy email exchange with George Sellas about some upcoming projects and he told me that he’s still hard at work on the Lazarus Gray Origins pages. To celebrate, here’s a look at the rough for page one of “Secrets of the Dead” (which is the name for the Lazarus Gray section of Origins). This is NOT the finished page, nor is it the entire Lazarus sequence. Eventually, I hope to get the entire Origins script done by George but for now, we’re focusing on just the Lazarus section. If you look at this and don’t get chills, you’re a stronger person than I. I adore this page! Anyway, I’ll let you get busy oohing and ahhing over it.

Tomorrow is another installment of Characters I Love. Hope to see you there.

Starting The Week Off Right!

catsuitA pretty girl in a catsuit is never a bad way to start off a Monday, right?

Work continues on the first short story that will run in Lazarus Gray Volume Five — writing about an air battle over the streets of Sovereign, with a deadly zeppelin attempting to lay waste to 6196 Robeson Avenue (the home of Assistance Unlimited). Great, pulpy fun.

Got an idea for the first chapter of Gravedigger Volume Two this weekend and I might take some time today to jot down some notes about that one, lest I forget. I think it’s a strong opening and shouldn’t go to waste. Then it’s back to Lazarus until I finish off the current story.

Got a little bit of feedback from my comments yesterday about expanding beyond the New Pulp label and whether that’s a good or bad thing. The consensus seems to be that it could be both, lol. Nobody really seemed to have a comment on the interior art question — I love seeing George Sellas & Will Meugniot doing images of my characters but maybe this is something that most readers just don’t care about? I know that some people enjoy seeing the pictures but given that my past Pro Se releases haven’t had the art included, a lot of people aren’t seeing them anyway… So maybe folks wouldn’t complain if they weren’t in the print versions?

Of course, I do know of at least two readers who buy the Kindle versions and then get the print for the images… so maybe I should keep encouraging them to get both? LOL

Pulp Ark 2013 took place this past weekend and from all accounts, it was a big success. Wish I could have been there — maybe 2014 will see me back in the great state of Arkansas. Fingers crossed.

Remember — this Saturday I’ll be at Avalon Comics in Macon, Georgia for Free Comic Book Day! I expect to be there from 11 am to around 2 pm. I’d love to see you in person!

Sunday Morning Chat

revengeWelcome back to Ye Olde Blog! I hope everybody’s weekend is going well – I’m getting my supplies together for next weekend’s Free Comic Book Day event. I’ll be at Avalon Comics in Macon, Georgia, selling and signing copies of my work. Artist Craig Hamilton will be there as well and I’m looking forward to meeting him. Craig worked on Aquaman (1986), Green Lantern (1990), Starman (1994) and The Spectre (2001), among many other things. Should be fun! If you’re in the middle Georgia area, please consider stopping by and saying hello.

Work continues on the fifth volume of Lazarus Gray. The fourth volume has been sent to George Sellas, who will read over it and come up with ideas for the cover & interior images. As you may have noticed, Reese Unlimited is the only imprint at Pro Se Press still doing the interior art thing. Airship 27 still does it on their titles, as well, but otherwise most folks in New Pulp land seem to be moving away from it. I still like it, though – the classic pulps of the 1930s featured interior pieces and I think it adds something to the package. I have, however, heard from folks who think that interior art (along with “comic book style” covers) keep the books from reaching a wider audience. If I were writing stories set in the modern day,  I might agree with that more — but would a huge audience buy Die Glocke if it had a different cover and no interior art? I don’t know about that. What do you guys think?

Spent most of this week reading non-pulp stuff but I’m going to dive back into a classic Shadow novel this weekend. Not sure which one yet. As always, I’ll share my opinions of it on The Shadow Fan’s Podcast.

I really miss the New Pulp Bestseller List. I did it for well over a year, every Monday here at the blog, before turning it over to All Pulp. Then All Pulp ground to a halt shortly thereafter. They’re still alive and supposedly about to do a big reboot with new owners but I haven’t heard about them continuing the list. Even when it was at All Pulp, I felt the focus was becoming less focused. There were things on the list that required a really broad definition of pulp and there were weeks you could have renamed the entire thing The Sherlock Holmes Bestseller List. Then I heard that the White Rocket Podcast was going to be doing a list but I haven’t heard anything about that since. All of that is a long way of me saying that I’ve considered reviving it here… but the big thing is that it was a lot of work to do it. I originally set out to focus on the ‘core’ New Pulp publishers (Pro Se, Wild Cat, Airship 27, etc.) and I’d probably do it that way again, which wouldn’t sit well with those who think we need to broaden the net, so to speak. I think if you broaden it too much, you lose sight of the core group to begin with. Ah, well. It’s likely I won’t do anything about it — I did my time. It’s someone else’s moment now… but it sure seems weird not to have a list out there anymore.

Hope you all have a nice and relaxing weekend (or what’s left of it!).

Saturday Matinee: Flying High With The Rocketeer!

rocketeerEvery Saturday I find a movie or clip that I think will appeal to the fans of this blog. Since most of you enjoy action/adventure, I tend to focus on something that falls into that category. This week we’re looking at a fan-made homage to Dave Stevens’ classic The Rocketeer. This video is so awesome, I’d pay to see a full-length version. For those who don’t remember, The Rocketeer was a comic book creation of superstar Dave Stevens and the character was featured in a live-action Disney flick that, while I found enjoyable, was generally considered a bust at the box office.

But check this out and tell me that The Rocketeer doesn’t deserve a chance to fly again!

New Pulp Recommendation of the Week: The Spider – Shadow of Evil by CJ Henderson

Every 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 Spider- Shadow of Evil by CJ Henderson. Before we dive into the book itself, let’s see how Moonstone Books describes the work:

The first new Spider novel in 65 years picks up where the last left off, packed to the gills with the greatest slam-bang action ever penned by master pulpster CJ Henderson! Richard Wentworth, the Spider, wonders if his long struggle against the forces of evil has been worth it? Should he continue, or grab for personal happiness before his time runs out? Then, at the moment he makes his decision, fate unleashes the most hellish horrors of all time against New York City!

For those who may not know, The Spider was one of the most popular heroes of pulp’s golden age. His stories were adrenaline-fueled action-oriented tales that nevertheless managed to display some strong characterization for both The Spider and his romantic partner, Nita Van Sloan. While The Spider was never one of my favorite pulp heroes, I have read a small handful and feel comfortable in saying that I understand the nuances of the character. In recent years, Moonstone has done a lot of comics and short stories with the hero but this novel is the first full-length story in decades. Dynamite has also used The Spider in both his own ongoing series and in the crossover Masks. In general, Moonstone’s version is far more traditional while Dynamite has made numerous tweaks to his personality and appearance.

This is a digest sized paperback, affordably priced at $6.95. It feels very pulpy — and yet classy at the same time. Everyone I’ve shown it to has remarked on the package itself. I really, really like this format and hope to see more of it from Moonstone and others.

The story picks up several months after the last published Spider, with Richard Wentworth in retirement following the supposed death of The Spider. He’s turning 40 years old and ready to settle down with his long-suffering romantic interest, Nita Van Sloan. But just when it looks like true happiness might finally be found, someone starts killing people — lots of people! — by using devices that seem very familiar to Wenworth. In fact, they’re weapons he’s faced before… who has gotten access to the weapons of The Spider’s past foes forms the mystery at the heart of the book. It’s a compelling one and offers a good excuse for Wentworth to reminiscence about his past and do some soul-searching about what he’s really accomplished.

All the old supporting characters are back and are utilized very well. The story is smoothly told and never lets up — all the classic Spider tropes are here, especially the mass destruction.

Call me a heretic, but I honestly think this is the best Spider novel I’ve read. Admittedly, I’ve read a half dozen or so… but I’m definitely interested in reading more of CJ Henderson’s version and it’s caused me to consider seeking out more of the classic novels. Good stuff.

The only downside were quite a few typos, many of which were of the same variety, repeated again and again. But this hardly stopped me from loving the book.

If you’re an old-time Spider fan, this is a great return for the character. If you’re new to him or have only discovered him via Masks or something similar, I think this can serve as a fine introduction to the hero’s prose adventures, despite the fact it relies heavily on past continuity. They tell you everything you really need to know.

Check it out – I think you’ll enjoy it!

Random Thoughts

lg07_morgan_watts_smallWelcome back to Ye Olde Blog! It’s a Thursday, which means that we’re thankfully getting closer to the weekend. I have a meeting later this afternoon that I’m not looking forward to — with any luck, it will go smoothly (and shortly).

Uploaded the 29th episode of The Shadow Fan’s Podcast yesterday and, as always, I’m amazed by the response. Who knew so many people would want to listen to me ramble for 30 minutes every week? Of course, I’m not the real draw — it’s The Shadow, pulp’s greatest crimefighter! Anyway, this week I talked about two classic Shadow novels and the 11th issue of Dynamite’s comic book series.

Speaking of comics, I’ll be signing books at Avalon Comics in Macon, Georgia for Free Comic Book Day this year. Artist supreme Craig Hamilton (perhaps best known for his Aquaman work) will be there with me. Looking forward to a fun day at the comic shop. If you’re in the area, you can find the shop at 2384 Ingleside Avenue in Macon. I’ll have plenty of books on hand but if you want, bring one you’ve already purchased and I’ll sign that, too.

Sad news came yesterday as they announced that Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game was being cancelled. They only printed two books in hard copy with all the rest being available as pdf’s only. I own them all but I’m going to miss the system. I’ll continue using it, though, and might share more writeups on this blog in the future. I had a request to do The Spider….

Work on Lazarus Gray Volume 5 is still going quite well. I still need to go back and finish off that weird western story for Mechanoid Press, too. Work on the Rabbit Heart sequel has stopped again — I hit another wall and I’m just feeling it at the moment. So it’s Lazarus right now!

Got a new review of Lazarus Gray Volume 1 on Facebook – Bill Craig (author of the Hardluck Hannigan series) read the first eBook in the series and said: Just finished reading Barry Reese’s The Adventures of Lazarus Grey Volume one. Definitely a fast and fun read if you love your pulp with a supernatural flavor, and it was interesting that the lead character put his headquarters on Robeson street in Sovereign City. Myself I would have chosen the corner of Maxwell and Grant. More shadows there you see! But all in all a fun book and I can highly recommend it.

Thanks, Bill! Love the corner of Maxwell & Grant line! I chose Robeson since The Avenger was the biggest inspiration for Lazarus Gray — and that series was always credited to the ‘house name’ of Kenneth Robeson. It was, of course, the work of Paul Ernst, one of the greatest pulp authors who ever lived. In fact, because nobody asked, let me share this with you:

Barry’s Five Favorite Golden Age of Pulp Authors:

1. Walter Gibson

2. Paul Ernst

3. Robert E. Howard

4. Edgar Rice Burroughs

5. Theodore Tinsley

There were plenty of other great ones, mind you, but those are my faves.

Our art today is courtesy of George Sellas and it’s an image of Assistance Unlimited member Morgan Watts. It appeared in the print edition of The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume One.

Characters I Love # 2: Dart

dartEvery Wednesday, I focus on a character from adventure fiction (film, comics & prose) that I simply adore. This week we’re talking about: Dart, from DC’s old Atari Force comic book series.

Yes, I know I’m going a bit obscure this week but you know what, that’s okay. Some of you may scoff at the notion of anyone being a good character when they’re coming from something as lame sounding as “Atari Force” but trust me when I say that this series was far better than its origins as a tie-in product to a video gaming system should have ever been. The scripts were by the amazing Gerry Conway and the art for the vast majority of the series was provided by no less than Jose Luis-Garcia Lopez. The entire thing looked great and read just as well. Forget the word “Atari” because that could have been replaced by any word and the series would have worked just fine. Originally, there were a series of digest sized comics included with Atari games that featured the original jumpsuit-wearing Atari Force. The series that featured Dart was set some time after those stories and was a full-size comic series that ran for 20 issues – with Mike Baron writing issues 14-20 and Eduardo Barreto becoming artist with # 13.

Born Erin Bia O’Rourke-Singh, Dart was a mercenary was the daughter of Mohandas Singh and Li San O’Rourke, the engineer and the security officer of the original Atari Force. Admitted to the Atari Academy for training, she was often teased for her “mutant genes” that allowed her brief precognitive visions of the future. Erin and her best friend Dalia were involved in an accident involving one of the other cadets, which cost the cadet their life. Despite the fact that the incident occurred because of the bullying that Erin had been facing, she was removed from the Academy and sent to an off-world training school.

At the new school, Erin and Dalia became the best students that their headmaster had ever seen. Following every successful mission, the duo would mark each other with tattoos. Eventually, their run of good luck came to an end, when Dalia was killed during a mission. Erin experienced a vision of a man who would become both her lover and partner – but when he emerged through the smoke shortly after Dalia’s death, she reacted instinctively and shot him. He lived, though he lost his left eye. This was Moses Fisk, who was better known as the mercenary Blackjak. Having been trained at the same mercenary school that Dart had, they both realized that the school had hired soldiers to work both sides of the conflict.

Dart had a close relationship to the Atari Force hero known as Tempest, regarding him as her brother in many ways. Her tempestuous relationship with Blackjak was tested after his apparent death and subsequent return as an agent of the group’s greatest enemy. I loved Dart’s attitude and appearance. She tough but caring, reluctantly forming very close attachments to those around her. Her skills as a warrior and her unreliable powers were also fascinating to watch – and she was a heavily tattooed character before they became so commonplace in fantasy.

If you’ve never read Atari Force, seek them out in quarter bins — they’ve never been reprinted and probably never will be, given the nebulous rights issues. But the creative team is solid, the characters are fun and the stories are some of the best space opera that the Eighties ever produced.

I do miss Dart and her friends – somewhere, I like to think that they’re still having plenty of cosmos-spanning adventures.

whos_who_001_25_26_rougher

‘Tis Tuesday! Huzzah!

lg04_walther_lunt_smallWent to the Georgia Renaissance Festival this weekend – my family goes at least once a year and it’s always fun. Definitely have to recommend that you check out the Tortuga Twins if you get the chance. Hilarious every time.

Continuing to write away on Lazarus Gray Volume Five – yep, I’m working on volume *five*! This one will return to the format we had in volume one, with a handful of shorter stories. Books 2-4 featured two novellas in each volume, all with an overarching storyline that tied them into a trilogy. With Volume Five, I’m loosening up and just having some fun stories for the team — in the first tale, we have a lost pirate treasure and a zeppelin crewed by beautiful (and dangerous!) women. I can tell you’re excited already!

The past few weeks, I’ve been recording The Shadow Fan’s Podcast a little earlier than usual, as my schedule has forced me to move the show to Tuesdays. This week, we’re returning to our traditional Thursday… so expect a new episode to be released on April 25, 2013! Should be another exciting one.

This weekend is Pulp Ark 2013 in Arkansas — sadly, I won’t be there. But I hope that you’ll be able to make it. It’s the world’s biggest and best New Pulp convention and this year’s schedule is truly packed! My novel Die Glocke won Best Novel, Best Cover and Best Interior Art (those last two awards were given to the amazing George Sellas!) so I wish I could be there to accept the awards on mine and George’s behalf… but it just wasn’t possible. Still, I hope it’s a HUGE success and that I’ll be there in 2014!

Waiting on the last story to roll in for Tales of The Rook Volume Two. This one will be the last in the series – but probably not the end of The Rook. Tommy Hancock is still supposed to write volumes 7-9 of the series and the plot he’s come up with is an epic one. Not sure when I’ll return to write more Rook, though. Most of my focus is definitely on Lazarus and Gravedigger at the moment. Pro Se’s formatting and design guru Sean Ali is currently working on The Rook Volume Two Special Edition – you can expect that one very soon! We’re slowly working on getting all these books back into print and I appreciate the patience you guys are showing!

By the way, Jen Broomall is doing a Gravedigger image for me so I’m very excited to see what she will come up with!

In other artistic news, George Sellas is working on finishing up the Lazarus Gray Origins pages – as I’ve mentioned before, we trimmed the original script down to just the two page Lazarus sequence. Samantha, Morgan, Eun & the Assistance Unlimited team will all have to wait for their respective days in the sun.

Our art today is by George Sellas and features the evil Walther Lunt, who fought Lazarus repeatedly in the first two volumes. He met his demise in Die Glocke but his shadow still looms large over volumes 3 & 4.

Monday Mumblings

mellisaclarke_sweaterAnother week begins here at Ye Olde Blog and I have to confess, there are days where I’m not sure what I want to write about. I try to have content on this site 365 days a year and I think I’ve been pretty darned good at that — I can’t remember the last time I missed a day. But sometimes I stare at the screen and think “Okay, what *now*??” — that usually leads me to do one of my scatter-shot “things that are on my brain” kind of posts.

Which is what we’re doing today 🙂

I’ve been really enjoying Orphan Black, a television series airing on BBC America. It’s sexy and entertaining, always a great combination. I’m really impressed by the show’s star, Tatiana Maslany, and her ability to play multiple characters so seamlessly. I’m also a huge fan of the Felix character, played by Jordan Gavaris. There’s only been a few episodes so far but I’m really hoping it gets picked up for a second season.

In other television news, I watched the first episode of Defiance and really liked that, too. There are definitely influences from other shows that could be seen (I spotted things that reminded me of Firefly, Babylon 5, Fifth Element, etc.) but I think the mix is still a unique one and there are so many directions that they could go with this. I’m definitely looking forward to more.

I’ll be reviewing The Shadow # 11 from Dynamite on this week’s episode of The Shadow Fan but I will say this: I’ll miss The Black Sparrow. Definitely the best original comic book villain for The Shadow *ever*. I hope she’ll return, written by Victor Geischler. I have tremendous fears for Chris Roberson’s run on the series, given how weak Masks has turned out to be.

Currently reading the first book in the Ethan Gage series by William Dietrich. The novel’s titled Napoleon’s Pyramids and it’s been fun so far. The time period is one that I haven’t seen in much adventure fiction and the main character is an enjoyable one.  I’ll let you guys know how it goes from here. I was lucky enough to find the first four books in terrific shape at a used book sale so I only paid $1.50 for the whole lot!

I’m off to write more Lazarus Gray.

Take care, folks.

Another Rollicking Gravedigger Review!

Thanatos, one of the bad guys from Gravedigger, as depicted by Will Meugniot.
Thanatos, one of the bad guys from Gravedigger, as depicted by Will Meugniot.

The Adventures of Gravedigger continues to garner rave reviews, which makes me amazingly happy. I’m so proud of the fact that people are responding to this new character of mine!

New Pulp author Kevin Rodgers posted this review on Amazon.com:

“The Adventures of Gravedigger, Volume 1” by Barry Reese is a fast-paced, stand-alone masterpiece! It features other characters created by Mr. Reese, such as Lazarus Gray and The Rook (Max Davies), but readers can enjoy “Gravedigger” without reading the books which feature those Pulp icons. “Gravedigger” begins with a bang…literally…with a violent scene in a battleground, which paves the way for Gravedigger’s sparring matches with the Headless Horseman later in the novel. Gravedigger (aka Charity Grace) must redeem her soul within three years to achieve spiritual enlightenment or her soul will face condemnation. She wreaks havoc on the criminals and sleazebags of Sovereign City with brutal delight. (At times, I noticed similarities between “Gravedigger” and one of Reese’s previous works, an ultra-violent novel called “Rabbit Heart”). Reese hooked me with the stunning prologue, kept me turning the pages with the quick pacing of the dynamic chapters, and left me eager for “The Adventures of Gravedigger, Part 2” after I finished the book. The book is a must-have for anyone who enjoys supernatural horror mixed with acts of bloody retribution and stunning action sequences. Pick up a copy of “Gravedigger, Volume One” today…you won’t be disappointed!

Thanks so much for the review, Kevin! I tried hard to make sure that the cameos by Lazarus and The Rook didn’t overshadow Gravedigger – or make readers feel like they were missing something if they hadn’t been reading those other series. I’m glad that it seems to have worked for you. You’re the first one to really mention the similarities between Gravedigger and Rabbit Heart but I was aware of them as I wrote this book. What can I say? I like that archetype of the female heroine with the sword. 🙂

Thanks again for taking the time to post your review!