New Pulp Awards Nominations Are In!

new_pulpThe New Pulp Awards final ballot is now out and I racked up quite a few nominations:

Best Novel (The Adventures of Gravedigger Volume One)

Best Collection (The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three)

Best Short Story (“The Box of Flesh” from The Avenger: Roaring Heart of the Crucible)

Best Short Story (“Murder Unlimited” from The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three)

Best Novella (“Eidolon” from The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three)

Best New Pulp Character (Gravedigger, from The Adventures of Gravedigger Volume One)

Best New Pulp Character (The Darkling, from The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three)

Best Author

Thanks to everyone who nominated me and my work! It really does make me proud and I appreciate the fact that you guys took the time out of your busy days to send in the nomination form.

If you’d like to vote, all you have to do is send an email with your vote to newpulp2014@yahoo.com – please remember that you can only vote once in each category!

For the full ballot and all the rules, head over to the New Pulp Awards 2014 Facebook Page.

A bit of trivia — the image accompanying this post is the official “New Pulp” seal that many publishers use on their books. It was created by my lovely wife! She doesn’t usually get the credit for it but she did a wonderful job in its creation, don’t you think?

Thursday Things

2Shadow01_00Hello everyone!

I’ve been fighting a bit of a cold this week but hopefully it will go away and not develop into anything more severe.

The 63rd episode of The Shadow Fan’s Podcast has been uploaded for your listening enjoyment  — on this week’s episode, I talk about the upcoming Howard Chaykin series from Dynamite and review two items — a radio script from 1938/1939 and a classic novel from 1935. It’s a fun twenty minutes or so of chatter about pulp’s greatest crimefighter!

A lot of folks know this but my dream job would be to write The Shadow — just once! I’d feel so much pressure to live up to the works of Walter Gibson but man, it would be awesome. My other favorite pulp hero — The Avenger — was a blast to write and I feel genuinely blessed to have been able to do it twice.

The ballot for the New Pulp Awards should be coming out soon and I’m curious to see if any of my works made the list — I always did very well when the awards were the Pulp Ark Awards and hopefully the changes in methodology and name won’t stop that. I’d really like to see some of my collaborators like George Sellas and Will Meugniot make the ballot, as well. Fingers crossed!

When the ballot is released, I’ll do another post about it here and let you know who my own picks for the various categories would be.

 

Things Are Moving Forward!

Gravedigger_06_smallHeard from my wonderful collaborator George Sellas that he’s about to move forward into the production phase on Gravedigger Volume Two! George will not only be doing another cover but also a two-page “Origins” strip like we did for Lazarus Gray. I think all of you will be very happy with what he’s going to come up with!

Also, got an update about Lazarus Gray Volume Four, which is now in graphic designer Sean Ali’s capable hands. I’m really psyched to see what you guys think of this one!

Something I did for Tommy Hancock and Paul Bishop is coming soon, too, and I’m very proud of the work I did on that. More info to come.

And finally, the story I did for Radio Archives is going to be on the way soon. Look for a full press release in the next few weeks.

Oh – I officially passed the 10,000 word mark on the current novel!

I know it’s a small post today but all the news was good, right?

Our artwork today is by Will Meugniot and comes from the first Gravedigger volume.

And Lo, There Came A Tuesday…

RU Ad smallerWelcome back to ye olde blog! As I mentioned yesterday, I’ll be attending the Middle Georgia Comic Convention, which is something that I’m very excited about. I’m also continuing to work on the crossover novel, which is slowly (oh so slowly!) approaching the 10,000 word mark. Since I’m aiming for a 60,000 or so novel, that means I’m getting close to the 1/6th mark.

Yeah, I know. I really shouldn’t focus on the word count but it makes me happy and I feel like I’m making progress by tracking it… so there!

Anyway, I’m really enjoying what I have written so far and I think the fans will appreciate it. So far, I’ve been mainly introducing all the heroes (the main cast will be The Rook, Lazarus Gray, Gravedigger, Catalyst (note: this isn’t Nathaniel Caine, who doesn’t become Catalyst until the Forties. This is his predecessor, who will be introduced in Lazarus Gray Volume Five) and The Dark Gentleman. There might be one or two others, as well, but we’ll keep them as surprises for now!

Tales of The Rook Volume Two is now available in print so if you don’t own a Kindle or a Nook or any other tablet, you can get the dead tree version and enjoy the rollicking works of Adam Garcia, James Palmer, Russ Anderson, David White and Sean Taylor! You’ll also get a sneak peek at a script for an animated adventure of The Rook — Pro Se was actively shopping this around at one point but as so many things do, it didn’t come to fruition.

Yet! You never know, after all….

Anyway, I hope everybody has a great day out there and we’ll be back with more pulpy goodness tomorrow.

 

Middle Georgia Comic Convention 2014!

MGALOGOfina_blk_topI’m pleased to announce that I will be attending the Middle Georgia Comic Convention on March 15 & 16. It will be held at the Coliseum and Convention Center in Macon, Georgia and runs from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm both days. In addition to myself, the Con will be hosting a whole host of other talented folks, including: Mark Bagley, Brian Stelfreeze, Colleen Doran, Tony Harris, Daniel Way, Francesco Francavilla, Jamal Igle, Joseph Linsner, Wilfredo Torres and many, many more! It should be a real blast and I’m definitely looking forward to it.

The entire event is owned and operated by Heroes & Villains Comics and Games, based out of Warner Robins, Georgia. I had a great signing event there a couple of years ago and I definitely recommend you check out the shop if you get the chance.

I’ll have loads of books to sign and sell — and if you’re in the area and have already purchased one of my books, feel free to bring it with you and I’ll personalize it for free.

Put it on your calendar today, folks! It looks like a lot of fun and it’s a wonderful opportunity to hang out with like-minded geeks, which is always a good thing.

See you there!

The Secret Origin of The Claws of The Rook

claws_front_smallAfter I’d finished the fourth volume in the Rook series, it occurred to me that I’d introduced quite a few supporting characters that were worthy of stories in their own right: Leonid Kaslov, Catalyst, Revenant, Rachel Winters, Frankenstein’s Monster, etc. I decided it would make perfect sense to throw some of those characters together and create a spinoff project from The Rook Chronicles. I decided to leave out Kaslov and focus on the other four heroes I just mentioned, allowing The Rook to serve as their funding agent. I wanted to do the pulp equivalent of the old Batman and the Outsiders series: Batman brought together heroes to serve as his private strike force, handling things he didn’t have the time to do.

This strike force would be known as The Claws of The Rook, or simply “The Claws.”

The Claws of the Rook were meant to be introduced in their own volume, which would be set in-between volumes 4 and 5 of The Rook. The Rook would appear in a major fashion in the first story, then fade into the background, to be used as needed. The first story (“The Diabolical Mr. Dee”) was written and I think it turned out fairly well, though I was obviously still finding my footing with the series.

Then came “A Plague of Wicked Men.”

I forget who came up with the idea of teaming the various Wild Cat Books heroes into one story but I know that Don Lee, Wayne Skiver, the Carney brothers, Ron Hanna and I were all involved in the plotting of the story, which would pit the heroes against a grouping of evil villains. Ron and Wayne wanted to kick the story off by killing an established pulp hero and they chose to make Captain Hazzard the sacrifice. I was worried about how this would look, since Hazzard was very closely identified with the editor-in-chief of one of Wild Cat’s major rivals but I wasn’t really the mover and shaker in the plotting. A scene (by Wayne) was written in which Hazzard was killed and I know Don Lee wrote a scene where the villains first came together.

Then, as is common in these sorts of things, the writers began flaking out. One person had legal issues, another had concerns about the plot, etc. The project seemed dead.

Then I asked if I could take the plot and twist it into a Claws of The Rook plot, rewriting the scenes already completed and tweaking it all into something that I felt I could handle on my own. Everyone seemed fine with that and Wayne was gracious enough to allow me to keep his character Prof. Stone in the story. I threw in the Black Bat, Ascott Keane and Ki-Gor to make it even bigger. The story turned out fairly well, though it struggled a bit under its own weight. There were elements of the original plot that I was asked to keep that I would have preferred to jettison but I worked with what I had.

There were now two Claws tales…

And then the decision was made to scuttle the Claws spinoff. Sales on the most recent volume of The Rook had been weaker than expected and it was decided to not dilute the brand at this point.

So what to do? I didn’t want to just shelve those stories but at the same time I was feeling burned out on The Rook and didn’t really feel like doing a solo Rook collection, either.

It was decided to take the two Claws stories and put them into The Rook Volume Five. A couple more Claws/Rook stories were added to flesh out the volume and voila, we had a book.

But it wasn’t a very good book, in my opinion. It suffered from the fact that you had a book entitled The Rook that spent a lot of time with the Rook not in it — I was fleshing out characters for their own series, remember, so I had deliberately tried to push The Rook into the background of those stories.

It was published, people seemed to regard it as weaker than its predecessors but still good.

Here’s where all the individual members of the team first appeared:

  • Catalyst (Nathaniel Caine) first appeared in “Catalyst” in The Rook Volume Three. The story is set in 1942.
  • Esper (Rachel Winters, later Rachel Caine) first appeared in “Catalyst” in The Rook Volume Three. As stated before, the story is set in ’42.
  • Revenant (Sally Pence) first appeared in “Death From the Jungle” in The Rook Volume Four. The story is set in 1943.
  • Vincent (aka Frankenstein’s Monster) first appeared in “Satan’s Trial” in The Rook Volume Four. This story occurs in late 1943, after “Death From the Jungle.”

The group comes together as The Claws of the Rook in 1944, operating out of a two-story house on Peachtree Street nicknamed The Aerie. The group’s meeting room was in the finished basement and there was an extensive library and armory on the second floor. The team first appeared together in “The Diabolical Mr. Dee” before teaming up with several other pulp heroes in “A Plague of Wicked Men.” Both of those adventures were set in ’44. In 1946, they took part in the missions dubbed “The Devil’s Spear” and “The Ivory Machine.” During the latter story, their ranks swelled with the additions of The Black Terror and his partner Tim, Miss Masque, and The Flame. All of those stories were recorded in The Rook Volume Five.

Nothing is known about the majority of the members past ’46, though in one possible future (“The Four Rooks,” The Rook Volume Four), we see that Catalyst is still alive into the 21st Century, having outlived his wife. Given that everything shown in the series post 2006 is just a potential future, it’s not carved in stone that this is anyone’s ultimate fate, however.

I sometimes miss these characters but I’m uncertain if anybody would really want to see them revived. If I do, I’m not certain that the public domain heroes like The Black Terror and Miss Masque will remain with the group — I’d suspect that they’ll become secondary members, who might pop up if needed. I’d probably keep the focus on the main four (plus The Rook).

What do you guys say? Anybody want to see these heroes return?

Saturday Matinee: The Ron Ely Tarzan

tarzanOn many Saturdays, 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 the Tarzan series that starred Ron Ely. This was my first introduction to the Tarzan character and I often picture Ron Ely when I think of the jungle hero even now. What I loved about Ely’s portrayal of the character is that he was intelligent and well-spoken, just as Tarzan was in the original Burroughs novels. The whole “Me Tarzan, You Jane” thing always pissed me off.

Ron Ely, of course, went on to play Doc Savage in the ill-fated George Pal movie. Quite awesome to have played both Tarzan & Doc Savage!

First up, we have the full opening credits:

And a nice clip of season one action. Love the way it’s described that Tarzan prefers this jungle to “the other one.”

Great stuff!

The Dark Gentleman

dark_gentlemanHappy Friday, my friends!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve continued working on Götterdämmerung, the big crossover novel that will pair up most of my major heroes. I’d been planning to use The Phantom Detective in the book, bringing him into my pulp adventure universe. But after reading a half dozen novels and perusing The Phantom Detective Companion, I’ve decided against it. The character is just soooooo boring. I could change him up, of course, but why keep the name if I was going to do that? Instead, I’ll be using The Dark Gentleman, who was kind of a Phantom Detective analogue that I introduced in “Darkness, Spreading Its Wings of Black,” the story that appeared in both The Rook Volume Six and The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume One. The Dark Gentleman has been mentioned repeatedly since then but he hasn’t had any other appearances. That story was set in 1935 and the crossover novel is set in 1938 so he should be a much more capable hero by that time. I think it’s going to work much better this way.

So who is The Dark Gentleman?

He’s Michael Groseclose, born in 1911. He’s 24 when we meet him in “Darkness,” so he’s be 27 in 1938. His father is Theodore Groseclose, the publisher of The Sovereign Gazette. Michael trained for months before putting on the mask but on his very first night, he ran afoul of Assistance Unlimited, who took him to be a criminal. He eventually proved his innocence and then helped Lazarus Gray and The Rook defeat the killer known as Devil Face.

In the story, we see him have a powerful argument with his father — during which, he gives strong clues as to his motivations:

“You know what, dad? I’ve had enough of you, too. You sit in your office and you print your stories but what do you really know about life in this city? Have you walked its streets? Have you seen all the joy and happiness sucked out of its people because they can’t believe in the system anymore? Do you know that there are dozens of mobs out there, all vying for power? And that the men in charge turn a blind eye to it because they’re too scared or to crooked to do what’s right?” Michael yanked his arm free. “Oh, but you would know about that last part, wouldn’t you? You’re the one keeping it quiet that good people are being out on the street so your buddies can build their high-rises.”

Obviously, The Dark Gentleman is driven by a need to clean up Sovereign and he despises the hypocrisy that he sees in his father. Unlike The Rook or Lazarus Gray, he’s just an ordinary man… intelligent, brave and athletic, to be sure, but there are no powers or secret societies in his origin story. He’s just doing what he thinks is right.

How does he dress? Here’s the description we get of him, complete with Eun Jiwon’s erroneous assumption about his villainy:

This man wore a white shirt covered by a gray vest, black tie and an ebony jacket. Over all of this was slung a dark opera-style cape that was clasped about his neck. With black slacks and shoes, as well as leather gloves and a top hat, the figure looked like he might on his way to a fancy ball. But the presence of an automatic in his right hand and a large domino-style mask made it quite clear to Eun that the man’s presence was a sinister one.

So The Dark Gentleman basically looks like the way cover artists usually depicted The Phantom Detective (as opposed to how The Phantom Detective actually appeared in the stories).

So there you have it — our newest Sovereign hero to get the spotlight will be a guy introduced several years ago!

Our image today is of The Phantom Detective but it works equally well for The Dark Gentleman!

New Reviews!

rook2specialWe’ve had a few new reviews pop up on Amazon. com so let’s see what our faithful readers are saying.

First up, we have Raven Dark’s review of Tales of The Rook Volume Two:

First the reader meets a rather neat new hero in Russ Anderson’s “The Death of Keystone.” The title records that he dies, of course, but in the superhero world and the world of science and sorcery that the Rook inhabits, death sometimes is a point of view. Which one I leave the reader to figure out!

There are also a pair of Nazi Übermensch, a man and a woman both with pale skin, piercing blue eyes, and white hair. The man is a muscular brute known as Der Riese (The Giant), and the woman is a Nazi Scientist named Jakoba Kirsch.

The story has neat twists of fate and I won’t spoil the reader’s pleasure. You’re gonna want to read this one!! A full ten out of ten!

The reader moves on to the future, at least 100 years past the time of Max Davies. James Palmer’s “The Fist of Lao Fang” finds Atlanta in turmoil, a new drug called “jump” ravaging the streets, and a self-help guru named Simon Ling the new best thing in town.

Into this hodgepodge comes a girl named Kara Grace, heir to the Grace Industries fortune. Her life is about to make a great change. The ghost of Max Davies warns her about coming evil. Someone has to make a stand, and a shadowy secret society has ties to her family.

The story is exciting and well paced. I won’t spoil anything for the reader. You’ll like this one also. I think! A nine out of ten story.

Moving on to “African Darkside” by David White, the reader will encounter a new mystical object found in a botched museum robbery that turns a black muscleman into a god like entity.

This story is quite an adventure even if Mr. White kept forgetting whether there were supposed to be four or five robbers! (Chuckle!) This is certainly a worthy story for this new volume! Great stuff! Give Mr. White a seven out of ten.

Next, the reader will encounter Emma Davies as the Rook in “Come and Get Your Love” by Sean Taylor. The Rook’s lady love Kayla Kaslov has been kidnapped. Fighting a dreadful woman and her monsters, Emma goes to Kayla’s rescue. A seven out of ten story.

Emma Davies is also the star of the next story the reader encounters, “Night Out” by Adam Lance Garcia. There are three Rooks in this story, which alone gives it ten out of ten! William Davies is in San Francisco, Emma is being the Rook for the first time, and Max Davies has been captured by the very gang Emma is trying to bring to justice.

The reader will find an old enemy returned, a new drug on the street, a bevy of missing ladies, and a lot of father/daughter ranting and reminiscing! Enjoy the story, I know I did!

Last, the reader reaches “The Rook Animation Script” by Barry Reese himself. I have mentioned many times that I do not like to read plays and film scripts. I know Barry will have done a fine job and without reading it I’ll give it a seven out of ten.

The reader should be sure to read the interview with Barry Reese at the end of the book.

Adding and subtracting, the book is a eight out of ten overall, but on amazon.com it will be a five out of five! My blog is a little different…

Thanks, Raven! I think the guys who contributed to this book did a bang-up job and I’m proud to have them contribute to the overall Rook tapestry!

Next we have a review of The Green Hornet Casefiles by a user named Dave. Here’s what he had to say:

I have to admit, after seeing the latest movie of the Green Hornet, I thought that my wonderful memories of the 60’s TV show were dead…except for video. NOT SO! These short stories are so close to the show it’s scary. The only real difference is the setting – here we are in Detroit ( home of the radio series) as opposed to the TV show LA (though never really specified. All the characters are brought back to life. With all due respect to Van Williams and Bruce Lee, these characters are a bit more edgier…not having to compete with Batman and Robin. Any Green Hornet fan MUST have this collection!

Glad you enjoyed the book, Dave! It was a real honor to write the Green Hornet and Kato.

Finally, C. William Russette reviewed The Rook Volume 2 – Special Edition:

I kinda know what I am getting into when I start in a Reese book. Story, character and plot are right where and what I want them to be. They are fantastic and fun and the bad guys are always someone I can admire for how unique they are. I quickly became a fan of the new intros in the Russian Leo Kaslov and his crew. I really enjoyed the Bloodwerks story though. There are a number of reasons but the fact of who the heavies are I think that seals the deal.

You really can’t go wrong with The Rook if you like your action fantastic and hard chargin’.

Great read.

Thanks so much! I’m glad you enjoyed Bloodwerks as it was one of my personal favorites.

Don’t forget that the nominating process for the New Pulp Awards ends soon — full details about the process can be found by clicking this link.

Midweek Updates

lg_v3_darkling_vs_silver_wolf_smallIt’s another day at Ye Olde Blog, which means that there’s more teasing to be done about future projects! I heard from an editor about one of my projects yesterday and it looks like it might be coming out in March — and possibly in more formats than we originally thought! I’m looking forward to sharing more news about that one as we get nearer to its release but it is a project that I’ve teased here before… and I’ve seen the gorgeous cover that will adorn the package and it’s quite nice!

Beyond that, I’m also looking forward to the release of the fourth book in the Lazarus Gray series! This one will wrap up a lot of plot threads that have been weaving through the series since the second book — and we’ll get to see more of the popular Darkling and Eidolon characters! If you remember what the cover for Volume 4 looks like, you’ll also note that the evil Doctor Satan will be along for the harrowing ride!

As longtime readers of this blog know, I’ve already completed the fifth book, as well! I’m always anxious for folks to see the newest adventures but it’s good to work so far ahead… with all the recent craziness, my writing output has drastically decreased but 2014 won’t see any slow-down in the release of my work since I turned in so much of it last year.

About to crack open a Shadow novel and start reading it — and, yes, hopefully that means I’ll be reviewing it on another episode of The Shadow Fan’s Podcast soon. Keep your fingers crossed.

Our art today graced the pages of Lazarus Gray Volume Three and it features a titanic tussle between The Darkling and Silver Wolf. It’s drawn by the amazing George Sellas!