Tales of The Rook Volume Two Is Here!

tales2TALES OF THE ROOK VOLUME TWO DEBUTS EXCLUSIVELY ON KINDLE FROM PRO SE PRODUCTIONS

A leading publisher in New Pulp and Genre Fiction, Pro Se Productions announces the debut of its newest title exclusively on the Kindle for a limited time.

The Rook Lives Again! Well known Genre Fiction author Barry Reese created one of the seminal characters of New Pulp when he penned ‘Lucifer’s Cage,’ an engaging adventure story starring Max Davies, troubled millionaire who also fought crime of all colors as the masked vigilante, The Rook! Once more Reese opens the doors wide into the rich, varied universe of his best known character and welcomes a host of authors to tell their own takes on Max Davies and company in TALES OF THE ROOK VOLUME TWO from Reese Unlimited and Pro Se Productions!

Compelled through dark dreams to hunt down and destroy evil wherever it might hide! Assisted by loyal friends and a vast array of allies from the annals of Classic and New Pulp as well as Comics of a bygone era, The Rook’s escapades have been a hallmark in the world of New Pulp!

TALES OF THE ROOK VOLUME 2 features stories by David White, Sean Taylor, Jim Palmer, Russ Anderson, and Adam Lance Garcia, as well as a new interview with ROOK creator Reese, a script for an unproduced ROOK cartoon short, and an updated timeline of the Reese Unlimited Universe. TALES OF THE ROOK VOLUME TWO takes Reese’s original creation to all new heights, to places not even The Rook has gone before.

“The TALES OF THE ROOK concept,” Tommy Hancock, Partner in and Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, “was born out of Barry’s desire to see how others would handle his character, how other writers would play in the Reese Unlimited sandbox. I thought it was a fantastic idea and still do. The batch of writers Barry has brought on this time to tell their own tales of Max and company are some of the best in the business today and take The Rook in some really fun directions. Different styles on an established character are always fun.”

TALES OF THE ROOK VOLUME TWO is debuting as a Kindle exclusive initially and will be available in print in coming days.

“We are seeing,” says Hancock, “a great number of sales in ebooks, particularly Kindle, so debuting the latest Reese Unlimited book as a Kindle Exclusive for a while as well before the print edition makes a bit of sense. It also gives us the option to offer a special promotion or two along the way and Amazon Prime members can actually borrow the book for free, which is a neat thing.”

TALES OF THE ROOK VOLUME TWO features a wonderful cover by Grant Miehm, logo design and print formatting by Sean Ali, and Ebook Formatting by Russ Anderson. Get Your Kindle Copy today for only $2.99.

For review copies of this title, interviews with the authors and creator, and other information concerning this book, contact Morgan Minor, Pro Se’s Director of Corporate Operations at MorganMinorProSe@yahoo.com.

For More Information on Pro Se Productions, go to http://www.prose-press.com and like Pro Se on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ProSeProductions.

Friday Chatter

lg08_samantha_grace_smallA lot of changes have been coming my way as of late and it’s definitely sapped a lot of my enthusiasm for working on the crossover novel. Having said that, I have been adding a little to it here and there so it hasn’t been set aside completely. So far I’ve written a scene introducing the origins of the Occult Forces Project and now I’ve moved on to an action sequence with The Rook. Quality stuff so far, even if there’s a whole lot of quantity yet.

It will add up in the end, though!

I’ve been in contact with artist supreme George Sellas and we’re both hoping that he’ll be able to return for Gravedigger Volume Two but his career is expanding and taking off so we’ll have to see how the schedules work out. George has really defined the look of my pulp adventure universe and I’d certainly love to have him involved in future projects.

I’m expecting to see Tales of The Rook Volume Two released any day now, with an eBook release preceding the print version. It’s got some fun stories by some wonderful authors and a snazzy cover by Grant Miehm. There are no plans for more Tales volumes at this point but you never know with The Rook…!

Today’s art is from the first Lazarus Gray volume and features the lovely Samantha Grace. Hope you enjoy it!

My Favorite Shadow Novels

946458-S253-TheVampireMurdersAs most of you know, I’m a big fan of The Shadow – in fact, I host a podcast entitled The Shadow Fan. Today I thought I’d share with you a few of my favorite Shadow novels, so that if you are looking to jump into the series, you’ll have some recommendations about where to start. These are by no means all the great Shadow stories — it’s just a handful that I really love. In addition, there are still Shadow novels that I haven’t read yet — so I might go back and add to this list as time passes.

To be honest, I think it’s a great idea to simply start with the first story and go forward — but that’s not always possible, I know. So here are my favorites, in order of publication:

The Living Shadow – April 1, 1931

The Eyes of The Shadow – July-September 1931

The Shadow Laughs – October 1, 1931

Gangdom’s Doom – December 1, 1931

The Death Tower – January 1, 1932

The Ghost of the Manor – June 15, 1933

Murder Every Hour – June 1, 1935

The London Crimes – September 15, 1935

The Sledge-Hammer Crimes – August 1, 1936

Crime, Insured – July 1, 1937

The Shadow Unmasks – August 1, 1937

The Green Hoods – August 15, 1938

Death From Nowhere – July 15, 1939

The Golden Master – September 15, 1939

Shiwan Khan Returns – December 1, 1939

The Invincible Shiwan Khan – March 1, 1940

The Prince of Evil – April 15, 1940

Masters of Death – May 15, 1940

Murder Genius – July 1, 1940

The Man Who Died Twice – September 15, 1940

The Devil’s Paymaster – November 15, 1940

The Thunder King – June 15, 1941

The Devil Master – September 15, 1941

Temple of Crime – November 15, 1941

The Book of Death – January 15, 1942

Death’s Bright Finger – May 15, 1942

The Vampire Murders – September 1, 1942

The Black Dragon – March 1, 1943

The Rook’s Archfoe — The Warlike Manchu!

rook_v1_manchu_smallIn classic pulp hero tradition, most of The Rook’s enemies don’t make return appearances. But The Warlike Manchu is the exception to the rule — in fact, he appeared in each of The Rook’s first five volumes! Obviously inspired by Sax Rohmer’s classic Fu Manchu, The Warlike Manchu does not consider himself a villain at all. He’s out to rule the world with an iron hand because that’s how humanity needs to be governed, lest our baser natures get the best of us. The Warlike Manchu was one of Max Davies’ tutors during his time preparing for his role as The Rook but when he learned of the Manchu’s connections to organized crime, Max refused the offer to rule at the Manchu’s side.

Aided by a group of assassins dubbed The Ten Fingers, The Warlike Manchu controls every manner of vice in Asia and eyes expanding his empire to the West. Though Chinese by birth, my take on The Warlike Manchu incorporates elements of various Asian mythologies to play up The Warlike Manchu as the ultimate “yellow menace” from the old pulps. He hates the Japanese but is willing to use their trappings and folklore to his own advantage, for instance.

The Rook and The Warlike Manchu have become the most bitter of enemies, clashing again and again. The highlights of their feud include:

“The Abomination” – The Rook Volume One. In this story set in 1939, The Warlike Manchu re-enters The Rook’s life for the first time since they parted ways in 1922. Allied with an Egyptian necromancer named Ibis, The Manchu revives an ancient entity of pure destruction known as The Abomination. The Rook foils their plans for world domination but The Manchu escapes.

“Blitzkrieg” – The Rook Volume Two. Set in 1940, The Warlike Manchu returns with a new pupil, a German named Hans Merkel, who has adopted the guise of the Japanese god of death, Shinigami. Merkel is The Rook’s true opposite number — like Max, he is haunted by the spirit of his dead father but in Merkel’s case, he slew his own father and enslaved his spirit. In this story, The Warlike Manchu kidnaps Max’s son, forcing The Rook to unite with the Manchu’s daughter in an attempt to stop the madman. Shinigami is killed and The Manchu’s immortality formula fails, reducing him to dust.

Death lasts only about two years, however, as The Warlike Manchu is revived in 1942’s “The Resurrection Gambit” from Volume Three. In this story, The Manchu embarks on a quest to find the Philosopher’s Stone, a search that leads both he and The Rook on a global chase. In the end, The Manchu escapes once more, swearing revenge on his most hated of enemies.

In 1943, The Warlike Manchu and The Rook are forced into an uneasy alliance, as both men seek to foil the plans of the Nazi vampire Baron Randolph Gustav. It’s clear that The Manchu respects Max greatly and would still seek an alliance between the two — but he also has come to believe that The Rook’s opposition to his plans has renewed the spark of life in his wretched heart. This is chronicled in Volume Four’s “Dead of Night.”

1944 finds The Warlike Manchu teaming with Doctor Satan and Moriarty in “A Plague of Wicked Men,” one of the first adventures of The Claws of the Rook. The Manchu is apparently killed when the island he’s on sinks beneath the waves. This story is depicted in Volume Five.

Once again, death seemed incapable of stopping The Warlike Manchu. At some point, he returned to bedevil Max Davies and his family — but his final defeat seems to have stuck. In 1967, William Davies (Max’s son) battled and defeated The Warlike Manchu, killing him while battling for possession of a magical Mayan tablet (“The Four Rooks, The Rook Volume Four).

No details about The Manchu’s activities between 1944 and 1967 are known — and given how many times he cheated death before, it’s conceivable that he has at least one more resurrection in store, even post ’67.

In addition to The Warlike Manchu’s appearances in The Rook’s series, The Ten Fingers have been name-dropped in both Gravedigger and Lazarus Gray, as The Manchu’s forces have infiltrated Sovereign City in the Thirties. The Warlike Manchu himself has yet to clash with either of those heroes in any published adventures, though you never know what the future may hold.

Updates Galore

ROOK Cvr_FNThey’re predicting snow here in middle Georgia, which is a fairly unusual event. Of course, this winter has been anything but normal so maybe it’s par for the course in 2014.

I’m working on Götterdämmerung, which will be the big crossover novel that I’ve been teasing for awhile. It looks like this will be dominating my writing schedule for some time to come.

On other fronts, Tales of The Rook Volume Two is in final production and should be available soon — it will feature a plethora of great stories and a sterling cover by the one and only Grant Miehm. After that, I think the next thing you’ll see from Reese Unlimited will be The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Four. Good stuff on the way, my friends!

I’ve been fielding many questions about The Shadow Fan’s Podcast… Obviously, things have been very unsettled in my personal life since I resigned from my day job and once all that is straightened out (however long it takes), I hope to have time to revive the show. In the meantime, keep buying the Sanctum reprints and supporting Dynamite’s comic output!

I apologize for all the weirdness in these parts lately — it hasn’t been easy for me, either. But I’ll try to keep the blog going and squeezing in some writing whenever and wherever I can. For those of you who read the Reese Unlimited books, there are plenty of things still to be released in this year and even into 2015 so you won’t experience any disruption at all. It’s just the podcasts and all the back-end stuff that’s getting screwed up.

Things will improve, I’m sure! We just have to believe.

Our art today is Grant Miehm’s cover for Tales of The Rook Volume 2 — enjoy!

See you guys tomorrow.

The Occult Forces Project

rook_v3_iron_maiden_smallOne of the background elements that has featured in a lot of my pulp adventure stories is the Geheimnisvolles Kraft-Projekt, also dubbed The Occult Forces Project or OFP. Founded in the late 1930s, the OFP was dedicated to utilizing super-science and magic in the name of The Reich and was a subset of The Ahnenerbe. The group had several notable successes when it came to creating larger-than-life figures who spread the Nazi ideals across the globe. Thankfully, they were combated at every turn by heroes like The Rook and Lazarus Gray.

Here are some of the more notable agents of the OFP that we’ve seen thus far:

Silver Wolf – This werewolf agent of the SS named Karl Raider battled Lazarus Gray and The Darkling in 1937 during the events of “Eidolon” (The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three). He was enslaved by Princess Femi before he had a fatal encounter with The Darkling.

Geist – General Luther Strauss was a graduate of the OFP who encountered Assistance Unlimited in 1937. An accident in Tibet left him with the ability manifest ghostly powers. Blackmailed by The Darkling, Geist worked as a double agent until his skills were no longer needed and The Darkling killed him. His story is told in “Eidolon” (The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three).

The Iron Maiden – Kirsten Bauer ascended through the ranks of the OFP and gained possession of a deadly suit of armor. An expert in Norse mythology, she was involved in something called Project: Ragnarok, which sought to use ancient Norse relics to boost the power of The Reich. To this end, she pursued the so-called Sword of Hel to Atlanta, Georgia in 1941. Eventually falling in love with The Rook’s friend Will McKenzie, The Iron Maiden defected and began using her abilities to help the Allies. Her first appearance came in “The Iron Maiden” (The Rook Volume Three) and she was a frequent supporting character in the series after that.

The Grim Reaper – Not long after Bauer’s defection, Werner Richter arrived in America. Using the fearsome identity of The Grim Reaper, Richter battled The Rook for possession of three crystal skulls that contained tremendous power. These events are shown in “The Three Skulls” (The Rook Volume Volume).

The Black Zeppelin & Sun Koh – Lamar Bane was a brilliant scientist who became involved in the creation of something dubbed The Un-Earth. This project resulted in the creation of a Nazi superman known as Sun Koh. Bane battled The Rook, Catalyst (Nathaniel Caine) and Esper (Rachel Winters) in 1942. That adventure was depicted in “Catalyst” (The Rook Volume Three) and The Rook’s encounter with Sun Koh was depicted in “The Scorched God” (The Rook Volume Six), also set in 1942.

The Furies – Three beautiful but deadly agents of The Axis Powers, the Furies were created by the OFP. They were feared throughout the world before they embarked on an adventure to locate Sun Koh. They were at his side when his plan to destroy Washington evaporated and all three women were killed. This adventure took place in 1942 and was shown in “The Scorched God” (The Rook Volume Six).

Baron Rudolph Gustav – An ancient vampire with designs of his own for ultimate power, Gustav was loosely affiliated with the OFP before he gained possession of The Rod of Aaron and attempted to use it to gain mental possession over The Rook’s wife — and Gustav’s reincarnated lover! This exciting battle, which culminated right in front of Hitler himself, took place in “Dead of Night,” from The Rook Volume Four. This was set in 1943.

The OFP will play a large role in Götterdämmerung, which is a novel that will be set in 1938 and will feature The Rook, Lazarus Gray and Gravedigger in one epic adventure.

Our art today is by George Sellas and it depicts the dangerous Iron Maiden.

Seekay

seekay_coverEverybody knows The Shadow, Doc Savage, The Spider and many of the other classic heroes… but there are many wonderful characters that aren’t as well-known. This week we’re talking about: Seekay. This pulp hero is relatively obscure, having appeared in only five stories, published in 1937 & ’38. Written by Paul Ernst (the genius behind the original Avenger novels and the Doctor Satan series), Seekay’s entire series has been reprinted by Altus Press in the volume The Casebook of Seekay and Other Prototypes of The Avenger. It’s a $29.95 paperback, which is a bit steep, but it’s well worth the price and you can probably do some shopping around to get it for less.

Seekay is a private detective who wears a plastic mask to hide his disfigurement. There was a whole trend of “defective detectives” who suffered from some form of ailment, be it physical, emotional or mental — and Seekay is one of the best of those. The first two of his stories appeared, appropriately enough, in “Stange Detective Stories” before the rest of the series switched to “Detective Tales.” While the full truth about his disfigurement is never detailed, we do get some tantalizing hints. In the very first story, he aids a young woman who goes on to become his secretary and sidekick in adventure — she yearns to know more about him and there’s some nice romantic tension as she struggles with what is obviously a growing crush on the tragic hero.

While Seekay’s success rate isn’t focused upon, we have to assume that he’s doing quite well for himself, since he’s able to pick and choose his cases. If they intrigue him, he takes them on — but if not, he refuses to even hear them out.

As with all Ernst stories, the characterization is spot-on and I’m continually amazed at how he’s able to make you feel for his characters while never losing the pace of the story. As with The Avenger, Seekay is perfectly willing to let his enemies engineer their own demise, as well.

I am genuinely sad that there’s only five of these stories out there as I think he could have had a long and interesting run. At one point, I was told the character was in the public domain but I’ve since learned that’s not true. It’s a shame in some ways as I would love to have the opportunity to write Seekay or at least read what others would do with him.

Definitely seek out the Altus Press book and see why I’m so high on this character!

Timeline Of My Pulp Adventure Universe

rook_v3_cover_mockup_smallMajor Events specific to certain stories and novels are included in brackets. Some of this information contains SPOILERS for The Rook, Lazarus Gray, Gravedigger and other stories.

~ 800 Viking warrior Grimarr dies of disease but is resurrected as the Sword of Hel. He adventures for some time as Hel’s agent on Earth. [“Dogs of War” and “In the Name of Hel,” Tales of the Norse Gods].

1748 – Johann Adam Weishaupt is born.

1750 – Guan-Yin embarks on a quest to find her lost father, which takes her to Skull Island [Guan-Yin and the Horrors of Skull Island].

1776 – Johann Adam Weishaupt forms The Illuminati. He adopts the guise of the original Lazarus Gray in group meetings, reflecting his “rebirth” and the “moral ambiguity” of the group. In Sovereign City, a Hessian soldier dies in battle, his spirit resurrected as an headless warrior.

1793 – Mortimer Quinn comes to Sovereign City, investigating the tales of a Headless Horseman [Gravedigger Volume One]

1865 – Eobard Grace returns home from his actions in the American Civil War. Takes possession of the Book of Shadows from his uncle Frederick. [“The World of Shadow,” The Family Grace: An Extraordinary History]

1877 – Eobard Grace is summoned to the World of Shadows, where he battles Uris-Kor and fathers a son, Korben. [“The World of Shadow,” The Family Grace: An Extraordinary History]

1885 – Along with his niece Miriam and her paramour Ian Sinclair, Eobard returns to the World of Shadows to halt the merging of that world with Earth. [“The Flesh Wheel,” The Family Grace: An Extraordinary History]

1890 – Eobard fathers a second son, Leopold.

1895 – Felix Cole (the Bookbinder) is born.

1900 – Max Davies is born to publisher Warren Davies and his wife, heiress Margaret Davies.

1901 – Leonid Kaslov is born.

1905 – Richard Winthrop is born in San Francisco.

1908 – Warren Davies is murdered by Ted Grossett, a killer nicknamed “Death’s Head”. [“Lucifer’s Cage”, the Rook Volume One, more details shown in “Origins,” the Rook Volume Two] Hans Merkel kills his own father. [“Blitzkrieg,” the Rook Volume Two]

1910 – Evelyn Gould is born.

1913 – Felix Cole meets the Cockroach Man and becomes part of The Great Work. [“The Great Work,” The Family Grace: An Extraordinary History]

1914 – Margaret Davies passes away in her sleep. Max is adopted by his uncle Reginald.

1915 – Felix Cole marries Charlotte Grace, Eobard Grace’s cousin.

1916 – Leonid Kaslov’s father Nikolai becomes involved in the plot to assassinate Rasputin.

1917 – Betsy Cole is born to Felix and Charlotte Grace Cole. Nikolai Kaslov is murdered.

1918 – Max Davies begins wandering the world. Richard Winthrop’s parents die in an accident.

1922 – Warlike Manchu tutors Max Davies in Kyoto.

1925 – Max Davies becomes the Rook, operating throughout Europe.

1926 – Charlotte Grace dies. Richard Winthrop has a brief romance with exchange student Sarah Dumas.

1927 – Richard Winthrop graduates from Yale. On the night of his graduation, he is recruited into The Illuminati. Max and Leopold Grace battle the Red Lord in Paris. Richard Winthrop meets Miya Shimada in Japan, where he purchases The McGuinness Obelisk for The Illuminati.

1928 – The Rook returns to Boston. Dexter van Melkebeek (later to be known as The Darkling) receives his training in Tibet from Tenzin.

1929 – Max Davies is one of the judges for the Miss Beantown contest [“The Miss Beantown Affair,” Tales of the Rook]. Richard Winthrop destroys a coven of vampires in Mexico.

1930 – Richard Winthrop pursues The Devil’s Heart in Peru [“Eidolon,” Lazarus Gray Volume Three].

1932 – The Rook hunts down his father’s killer [“Origins,” the Rook Volume Two]. The Darkling returns to the United States.

1933 – Jacob Trench uncovers Lucifer’s Cage. [“Lucifer’s Cage”, the Rook Volume One] The Rook battles Doctor York [All-Star Pulp Comics # 1] After a failed attempt at betraying The Illuminati, Richard Winthrop wakes up on the shores of Sovereign City with no memory of his name or past. He has only one clue to his past in his possession: a small medallion adorned with the words Lazarus Gray and the image of a naked man with the head of a lion. [“The Girl With the Phantom Eyes,” Lazarus Gray Volume One]

1934 – Now calling himself Lazarus Gray, Richard Winthrop forms Assistance Unlimited in Sovereign City. He recruits Samantha Grace, Morgan Watts and Eun Jiwon [“The Girl With the Phantom Eyes,” Lazarus Gray Volume One] Walther Lunt aids German scientists in unleashing the power Die Glocke, which in turn frees the demonic forces of Satan’s Circus [“Die Glocke,” Lazarus Gray Volume Two]. The entity who will become known as The Black Terror is created [“The Making of a Hero,” Lazarus Gray Volume Two].

1935 – Felix Cole and his daughter Betsy seek out the Book of Eibon. [“The Great Work,” The Family Grace: An Extraordinary History] Assistance Unlimited undertakes a number of missions, defeating the likes of Walther Lunt, Doc Pemberley, Malcolm Goodwill & Black Heart, Princess Femi & The Undying, Mr. Skull, The Axeman and The Yellow Claw [“The Girl With the Phantom Eyes,” “The Devil’s Bible,” “The Corpse Screams at Midnight,” “The Burning Skull,” “The Axeman of Sovereign City,” and “The God of Hate,” Lazarus Gray Volume One] The Rook journeys to Sovereign City and teams up with Assistance Unlimited to battle Devil Face [“Darkness, Spreading Its Wings of Black,” the Rook Volume Six)]. Lazarus Gray and Assistance Unlimited become embroiled in the search for Die Glocke [“Die Glocke,” Lazarus Gray Volume Two]

1936 – Assistance Unlimited completes their hunt for Die Glocke and confronts the threat of Jack-In-Irons. Abigail Cross and Jakob Sporrenberg join Assistance Unlimited [“Die Glocke,” Lazarus Gray Volume Two]. The Rook moves to Atlanta and recovers the Dagger of Elohim from Felix Darkholme. The Rook meets Evelyn Gould. The Rook battles Jacob Trench. [“Lucifer’s Cage”, the Rook Volume One]. Reed Barrows revives Camilla. [“Kingdom of Blood,” The Rook Volume One]. Kevin Atwill is abandoned in the Amazonian jungle by his friends, a victim of the Gorgon legacy. [“The Gorgon Conspiracy,” The Rook Volume Two]. Nathaniel Caine’s lover is killed by Tweedledum while Dan Daring looks on [“Catalyst,” The Rook Volume Three] Assistance Unlimited teams up with The Black Terror to battle Promethus and The Titan in South America [“The Making of a Hero,” Lazarus Gray Volume Two]. Doc Pemberley allies himself with Abraham Klee, Stanley Davis and Constance Majestros to form Murder Unlimited. Lazarus Gray is able to defeat this confederation of evil and Pemberley finds himself the victim of Doctor Satan’s machinations [“Murder Unlimited,” Lazarus Gray Volume Three]. Lazarus Gray is forced to compete with The Darkling for possession of a set of demonic bones. During the course of this, a member of Assistance Unlimited becomes Eidolon. [“Eidolon,” Lazarus Gray Volume Three]. Charity Grace dies and is reborn as the first female Gravedigger. [Gravedigger Volume One]. Dr. York attempts to revive Princess Femi so that she can aid him in battling The Rook [“The Rook Animated Script,” Tales of The Rook Volume Two].

1937 – Max and Evelyn marry. Camilla attempts to create Kingdom of Blood. World’s ancient vampires awaken and the Rook is ‘marked’ by Nyarlathotep. Gerhard Klempt’s experiments are halted. William McKenzie becomes Chief of Police in Atlanta. The Rook meets Benson, who clears his record with the police. [“Kingdom of Blood,” the Rook Volume One]. Lazarus Gray and Assistance Unlimited teams up with Thunder Jim Wade to confront the deadly threat of Leviathan (“Leviathan Rising”, Lazarus Gray Volume Four]. Hank Wilbon is murdered, leading to his eventual resurrection as the Reaper. [“Kaslov’s Fire,” The Rook Volume Two]. The Rook and Evelyn become unwelcome guests of Baron Werner Prescott, eventually foiling his attempts to create an artificial island and a weather-controlling weapon for the Nazis [“The Killing Games,” Tales of the Rook] Gravedigger confronts a series of terrible threats in Sovereign City, including Thanatos, a gender-swapping satanic cult and The Headless Horseman. Charity and Samantha Grace make peace about their status as half-sisters. [Gravedigger Volume One] Lazarus Gray teams with Eidolon and The Darkling to combat Doctor Satan [“Satan’s Circus,” Lazarus Gray Volume Four]. Lazarus Gray battles the forces of Wilson Brisk and Skyrider. The Three Sisters are unleashed upon Sovereign City [“The Felonious Financier,” Lazarus Gray Volume Five]. Gravedigger confronts the twin threats of Hiroshi Tamaki and the immortal known as Pandora [Gravedigger Volume Two]. Lazarus Gray travels to Cape Noire to investigate the mysterious vigilante known as Brother Bones [“Shadows and Phantoms,” Lazarus Gray Volume Five]. The villain known as The Basilisk attempts to seize control of Sovereign City’s underworld [“Stare of The Basilisk,” Lazarus Gray Volume Five]. The Three Sisters unite with Princess Femi to combat Assistance Unlimited. Sobek’s attempt to destroy Femi helps lead young Madison Montgomery into a role as Femi’s handmaiden. Lazarus gets engaged to Kelly Emerson [“Immortals,” Lazarus Gray Volume Five]. Lazarus and Kelly are married. [“Wedding Bells,” Lazarus Gray Volume Five].

1938 – The Rook travels to Great City to aid the Moon Man in battling Lycos and his Gasping Death. The Rook destroys the physical shell of Nyarlathotep and gains his trademark signet ring. [“The Gasping Death,” The Rook Volume One]. The jungle hero known as the Revenant is killed [“Death from the Jungle,” The Rook Volume Four]

1939 – Ibis and the Warlike Manchu revive the Abomination. Evelyn becomes pregnant and gives birth to their first child, a boy named William. [“Abominations,” The Rook Volume One]. The Rook allies himself with Leonid Kaslov to stop the Reaper’s attacks and to foil the plans of Rasputin. [“Kaslov’s Fire,” the Rook Volume Two] Violet Cambridge and Will McKenzie become embroiled in the hunt for a mystical item known as The Damned Thing [The Damned Thing]

1940 – The Warlike Manchu returns with a new pupil — Hans Merkel, aka Shinigami. The Warlike Manchu kidnaps William Davies but the Rook and Leonid Kaslov manage to rescue the boy. [“Blitzkrieg,” the Rook Volume Two] The Rook journeys to Germany alongside the Domino Lady and Will McKenzie to combat the demonic organization known as Bloodwerks. [“Bloodwerks,” the Rook Volume Two] Kevin Atwill seeks revenge against his former friends, bringing him into conflict with the Rook [“The Gorgon Conspiracy,” The Rook Volume Two]. The Rook takes a young vampire under his care, protecting him from a cult that worships a race of beings known as The Shambling Ones. With the aid of Leonid Kazlov, the cult is destroyed [“The Shambling Ones,” The Rook Volume Two].

1941 – Philip Gallagher, a journalist, uncovers the Rook’s secret identity but chooses to become an ally of the vigilante rather than reveal it to the world [“Origins,” the Rook Volume Two]. The Rook teams with the Black Bat and Ascott Keane, as well as a reluctant Doctor Satan, in defeating the plans of the sorcerer Arias [“The Bleeding Hells”]. The Rook rescues McKenzie from the Iron Maiden [“The Iron Maiden,” The Rook Volume Three].

1942 – The Rook battles a Nazi super agent known as the Grim Reaper, who is attempting to gather the Crystal Skulls [“The Three Skulls,” The Rook Volume Three]. The Rook becomes embroiled in a plot by Sun Koh and a group of Axis killers known as The Furies. The Rook and Sun Koh end up in deadly battle on the banks of the Potomac River. [“The Scorched God,” The Rook Volume Six]. In London, the Rook and Evelyn meet Nathaniel Caine (aka the Catalyst) and Rachel Winters, who are involved in stopping the Nazis from creating the Un-Earth. They battle Doctor Satan and the Black Zeppelin [“Catalyst,” The Rook Volume Three]. Evelyn learns she’s pregnant with a second child. The Rook solves the mystery of the Roanoke Colony [“The Lost Colony,” The Rook Volume Three]. The Rook battles against an arsonist in the employ of Bennecio Tommasso [“Where There’s Smoke”, Tales of the Rook]. The Warlike Manchu is revived and embarks upon a search for the Philosopher’s Stone [“The Resurrection Gambit,” The Rook Volume Three]

1943 – The Rook teams with Xander to deal with the Onyx Raven [“The Onyx Raven, Tales of the Rook]. The Rook is confronted by the twin threats of Fernando Pasarin and the undead pirate Hendrik van der Decken [“The Phantom Vessel,” The Rook Volume Four]. Evelyn and Max become the parents of a second child, Emma Davies. The Rook teams with the daughter of the Revenant to battle Hermann Krupp and the Golden Goblin [“Death from the Jungle,” The Rook Volume Four] The Rook battles Doctor Satan over possession of an ancient Mayan tablet [“The Four Rooks,” The Rook Volume Four]. The Rook travels to Peru to battle an undead magician called The Spook [“Spook,” The Rook Volume Four]. The Rook clashes with Doctor Death, who briefly takes possession of Will McKenzie [“The Rook Nevermore,” Tales of the Rook]. Baron Rudolph Gustav gains possession of the Rod of Aaron and kidnaps Evelyn, forcing the Rook into an uneasy alliance with the Warlike Manchu [“Dead of Night,” The Rook Volume Four]. Doctor Satan flees to the hidden land of Vorium, where the Rook allies with Frankenstein’s Monster to bring him to justice [“Satan’s Trial,” The Rook Volume Four]. Tim Roland is recruited by The Flame and Miss Masque [“The Ivory Machine,” The Rook Volume Five]. The Black Terror investigates a German attempt to replicate his powers and becomes friends with a scientist named Clarke [“Terrors”]

1944 – The Rook organizes a strike force composed of Revenant, Frankenstein’s Monster, Catalyst and Esper. The group is known as The Claws of the Rook and they take part in two notable adventures in this year: against the diabolical Mr. Dee and then later against an alliance between Doctor Satan and the Warlike Manchu [“The Diabolical Mr. Dee” and “A Plague of Wicked Men”, The Rook Volume Five].

1946 – The Rook discovers that Adolph Hitler is still alive and has become a vampire in service to Dracula. In an attempt to stop the villains from using the Holy Lance to take over the world, the Rook allies with the Claws of the Rook, a time traveler named Jenny Everywhere, a thief called Belladonna and Leonid Kaslov. The villains are defeated and Max’s future is revealed to still be in doubt. Events shown from 2006 on are just a possible future. The Rook also has several encounters with a demonically powered killer known as Stickman. [“The Devil’s Spear,” The Rook Volume Five]. The Rook encounters a madman named Samuel Garibaldi (aka Rainman) and his ally, Dr. Gottlieb Hochmuller. The Rook and his Claws team defeat the villainous duo and several new heroes join the ranks of the Claws team — Miss Masque, Black Terror & Tim and The Flame. [“The Ivory Machine,” The Rook Volume Five]

1953 – The Rook acquires the Looking Glass from Lu Chang. [“Black Mass,” The Rook Volume One]

1961 – Max’s son William becomes the second Rook. [“The Four Rooks,” The Rook Volume Four]

1967 – The second Rook battles and defeats the Warlike Manchu, who is in possession of the Mayan Tablet that Doctor Satan coveted in ’43. Evelyn Davies dies. [“The Four Rooks,” The Rook Volume Four]

1970 – William Davies (the second Rook) commits suicide by jumping from a Manhattan rooftop. Emma Davies (Max’s daughter and William’s sister) becomes the Rook one week later, in February. [“The Four Rooks,” The Rook Volume Four]

1973 – The third Rook is accompanied by Kayla Kaslov (daughter of Leonid Kaslov) on a trip to Brazil, where the two women defeat the Black Annis and claim the Mayan Tablet that’s popped up over the course of three decades. Emma gives it to her father, who in turn passes it on to Catalyst (Nathaniel Caine) [“The Four Rooks,” The Rook Volume Four]

~1985 – Max resumes operating as the Rook, adventuring sporadically. Due to various magical events, he remains far more active than most men his age. The reasons for Emma giving up the role are unknown at this time.

Events depicted in the years 2006 forward occur in one of many possible futures for The Rook. As revealed in Volume Five of The Rook Chronicles, the events of 2006 onward may — or may not — be the ultimate future of Max Davies.

2006 – The Black Mass Barrier rises, enveloping the world in a magical field. The World of Shadows merges with Earth. Fiona Grace (descended from Eobard) becomes a worldwide celebrity, partially due to her failure to stop the Black Mass Barrier. [“Black Mass,” The Rook Volume One]

2009 – Ian Morris meets Max Davies and becomes the new Rook. He meets Fiona Grace. Max dies at some point immediately following this. [“Black Mass,” The Rook Volume One]

2010 – The Ian Morris Rook and Fiona Grace deal with the threat of Baron Samedi [“The Curse of Baron Samedi,” Tales of the Rook]

2012 – The fourth Rook (Ian Morris) receives the Mayan Tablet from Catalyst, who tells him that the world will end on December 21, 2012 unless something is done. Using the tablet, Ian attempts to take control of the magic spell that will end the world. Aided by the spirits of the three previous Rooks, he succeeds, though it costs him his life. He is survived by his lover (Fiona Grace) and their unborn child. Max Davies is reborn as a man in his late twenties and becomes the Rook again. [“The Four Rooks,” The Rook Volume Four]

Days of Future Pulp Past

Barry_smallTo the left is an image by Anthony Castrillo. It formed the background of the Wild Cat Books’ edition of The Rook Volume Three (you can google the finished image, which featured The Rook and a damsel-in-distress in front of this wall, partially obscuring the faces behind them). Obviously, it was an homage to the John Byrne classic image that was part of the X-Men storyline, “Days of Future Past.” I gave Anthony a long list of heroes that could be included and I think it’s a fun little piece. Obviously, it predates the existence of Lazarus Gray and Gravedigger or both would be represented.

Are any of your favorites still alive in the future?

The Wild Cat edition of this book is out of print but the Special Edition will be out from Pro Se this year so stay tuned. It will feature an all-new cover and interior art by George Sellas.

Work Begins!

gravedigger_small_colorSo I’ve started doing research for Götterdämmerung, which is the crossover novel that will feature all my major heroes in one big adventure. I’ve already looked into the historical stuff that I want to incorporate – now I’m looking into my own previous writings to ensure continuity. That’s one of the big secrets of having a shared universe… no matter how good your memory is, if you want to really make sure you don’t have a major screw-up, you have to go back and spend time looking through your own records.

Götterdämmerung will be set in 1938, for instance, and we know that this is the year after The Rook’s marriage and is also the year where he teams up with The Moon Man and gets his trademark ring, which he uses to brand the foreheads of criminals. This novel starts a bit after that.  As you’ll see in Gravedigger Volume 2, something is set up in that series that we’re told will play out over the course of 1938 in Sovereign… so that subplot also has to be mentioned and progressed in the crossover book. Likewise, the events of Lazarus Gray Volumes 4 & 5 (both set in ’37) will have carryover into ’38 and I need to keep all that straight!

I actually don’t mind fitting the continuity together, though. It’s part of the fun to me. I grew up loving comic books so continuity was never a pain in the butt to me — it was part of the fun! I liked seeing references to events happening in other titles, even if I wasn’t reading those series. It made it all feel like more of a shared universe and that, to me, is a good thing.

Can continuity get in the way of a good story? Maybe. But I’ve always thought you should be a good enough writer to work within its constraints… plus, if you really want to get away from it, do an imaginary story and then come back to the “real” universe.

Anyway, even with all the personal turmoil going on right now, I am still “working” on the next novel, even if I haven’t started writing it yet. I know some of you are very excited about Götterdämmerung and I don’t want to let you down.

Our art today is by George Sellas and was his first completed drawing of Gravedigger.