Month: May 2014

Rabbit Heart!

rabbit_heart_newWith a new edition of Rabbit Heart out now from Pro Se Press, I thought I’d share snippets of past reviews that the book has garnered.

Enjoy!

“Delightfully deviant. I’ve simultaneously wanted to laugh my ass off and puke my guts out while reading this. That’s pretty impressive.”

“Okay, I’m halfway through Rabbit Heart and that is GROSS, Barry!”

“Almost done with Rabbit Heart and it’s compelling. Pornographic but compelling.”

“Rabbit Heart was like a train wreck: horrifying and disturbing, but you just couldn’t look away. While this book is definitely not a part of my normal genre reads (humor, adventure, nonfiction), I found it very interesting and couldn’t put it down.”

“I finished your book Rabbit Heart and I must say I was quite entertained—you have quite a vivid imagination. Well done!”

“Rabbit Heart is extremely graphic. It’s brutal, gruesome, and strangely erotic—sometimes all at once. Sex and violence mix together in a way that may be disturbing to some, but is nonetheless gripping. I found it impossible to tear myself away from the book—I was disgusted and shaken to my core and I say these things as compliments.”

“There is plenty of gore, sexual brutality and blatant acts of depravity all meticulously embellished with not a gruesome detail omitted. If you’ve the stomach for it, Rabbit Heart is a savage reading experience but it is not for the timid.”

“When I first picked up this book I thought “Oh my… Whoa…. Holy Crap! NO WAY!” Haha this story continuously surprised me! It is not for the faint of heart nor children at all! But I can tell you that I absolutely loved it! It is a must read!”

“Reese is good at showing the action from a variety of characters. You may not like being in the head of a horny college student, but he forces you to see the world from those eyes. It’s a difficult trick, showing multiple viewpoints, but he neatly pulls it off.”

Press Release: Pulse Fiction!

pulse_fictionKnown as an innovator in New Pulp and Genre Fiction, Pro Se Productions proudly announces the release of the first volume in a new series two years in the making. Want stories that will get your heart racing, your blood pumping? You’ll find them in Bishop and Hancock’s Pulse Fiction Volume One, available now from Pro Se Productions.

“Pulse Fiction,” says Tommy Hancock, Partner in and Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, “is the brainchild of Paul Bishop. Known for his work in the crime field as well as being one of the major forces behind the Fight Card creator’s collective he’s built, Paul is also a fan of classic Pulp Fiction! The sort of books where several characters were featured, each one in an adventure designed to top the one before it! So, Paul pitched the idea of doing a series where there was a set pool of characters that authors could utilize and tell stories with. Not every character would recur in every book, but they’d all make the rounds, showing up whenever a writer felt the urge to tell a story with them. He had a handful of characters in mind and I threw in a motley crew of a few of mine and Pulse Fiction was born.”

A two fisted, gun toting Private Eye! A Member of the French Foreign Legion waist deep in Intrigue! A Lady with a taste for Diamonds and Danger! Heroes many have thought lost to yesterday now blast their way into today in Bishop and Hancock’s Pulse Fiction!

Pulse Fiction takes the best of the past and shakes and stirs it with today’s finest Genre Fiction writers. Encounter a cast of characters created by Bishop and Hancock and written into four color, over the top life by Eric Beetner, Barry Reese, D. Alan Lewis, Brian Drake, James Hopwood, and Hancock. Just like the bygone magazines of the past, Pulse Fiction brings rich, vibrant characters embroiled in death defying adventure to readers, characters that will return in later volumes crafted by these and a whole myriad of other authors.

“This,” says Hancock, “is not simply a homage to the classic Pulp tradition or those digests from the 1950s and 60s. Although these stories are definitely ‘pulpy’ in every sense of the word, they also ring with a modern resonance and relevance. These tales are certainly products of the past as well as the present and the authors we’ve gathered blend the two effortlessly.”

Bishop And Hancock’s Pulse Fiction Volume One is available in print at Amazon and through the Pro Se Store at http://tinyurl.com/n2jyob2 and features a fantastic cover by Jeff Hayes with cover design and print formatting by Percival Constantine for only $12.00. The collection will be available in digital format in the coming days.

For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital review copies, contact Morgan McKay, Pro Se’s Director of Corporate Operations, at directorofcorporateoperations@prose-press.com.

For more information on Pro Se Productions, go to www.prose-press.com. Like Pro Se on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ProSeProductions.

The Diabolical Dr. York!

yorkMost of The Rook’s enemies are of the done-in-one variety: they pop up, bedevil our hero and then get killed. The Warlike Manchu is really the biggest exception to that, though The Rook has also clashed with Doctor Satan on multiple occasions.

But what about the deadly Doctor York? Why doesn’t this bad guy get the credit he deserves as one of The Rook’s archfoes?

Who’s that, you say? You’ve read all six volumes of The Rook Chronicles and aren’t familiar with Doctor York?

That’s because he’s faced The Rook multiple times but never done so in prose (at least, not yet!).

York first appeared in All-Star Pulp Comics (2011) # 1, in a story written by me and drawn by by Craig Wilson. Set during The Rook’s days in Boston (1933), this tale introduces us to our would-be master villain. York is a former scientist that is now in service to the Elder Gods. His body is the receptacle for dark energies that have have the unfortunate side-effect of altering his appearance. His brain now floats in a clear glass dome above his torso… York has plans to sacrifice the daughter of one of The Rook’s friends but our hero manages to foil the scheme and York is dragged off to the nether-realms by his angry masters.

Case closed, right?

Not quite!

York returned in The Rook Animated Script that was published in Tales of The Rook Volume Two (2014). In this story (set somewhere in the 1936-1937 period), York has managed to acquire the body of Princess Femi, the immortal enemy of Lazarus Gray. York revives her in hopes that she’ll aid him in destroying The Rook but once again he is dispatched back to Hell. How did he survive his prior defeat? We’re told that York was persuasive enough to convince the Elder Gods that he deserved a second chance. Who knows if they’ll be as understanding after yet another loss.

I originally created York because in both the comic book and proposed animated adventure, I wanted someone with a really strong visual. He turned out to be quite fun and I plan to bring him back down the road. Until then, he has the distinction of being the one Rook villain who has yet to headline a prose adventure.

Another 5-Star Review for Satan’s Circus!

lg4_cover_final_paint_smallReader Jose Rivera posted a review of The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Four: Satan’s Circus on Amazon.com. He gave the book five stars out of five, which means that so far we’ve gotten five reviews and all have given the book a full 5-star rating! Nice!

Here’s what Jose had to say:

Volume 4 of Lazarus Gray does not disappoint!

The first story “Leviathan Rising” has Lazarus and Assistance Unlimited teaming up with Thunder Jim Wade and his crew to take on the threat of a being known as “Leviathan” I wasn’t too familiar with Thunder Jim Wade and his associates, but Reese gives just enough details that even someone like me could grasp and enjoy. I loved the interplay between the two teams. This felt like a fantastic pulp adventure!

The second story “Satan’s Circus” really deals with threads from previous volumes such as: The Darkling, Eidolon, Dr. Satan, what happened to Abby Cross, Satan’s Circus and even has some nice callbacks to events in Reese’s Gravedigger stories. If you’re just picking this up randomly, you might be confused at first, but Reese makes it VERY accessible to new readers. I really enjoyed this story and I love that there’s options for certain characters at the end.

If you’re new to the world of Sovereign City and Lazarus Gray/Assistance Unlimited, this is very new ready friendly and if you’re a longtime fan, you’re going to get some really nice winks, nods and payoffs to things long since gestating in the world of Lazarus Gray!

Thanks, Jose! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I was well aware of how “continuity-heavy” the second story in this volume was going to be so I wanted to make it accessible to people who were picking this one up for the very first time. It’s a difficult balancing act but I’m glad that you thought it worked.

I really appreciate it when you guys take the time to post reviews — gives me a  lot of needed feedback and fires me up to continue the series.

Take care, my friends!

Pulp? Yeah, Pulp.

When I was a kid, I was surrounded by the paperback reprints of the classic pulp heroes: Doc Savage, The Avenger, John Carter, Conan, etc. Those books excited me with their lurid covers and exciting characters, instilling a love for that kind of fiction that remains with me today.

These days, when people ask me what kind of things I write, I sometimes avoid describing it as “pulp” because most people have no clue what that means and I’m too tired of explaining it to bother. Sometimes, I say I write “horror, sci-fi and fantasy” but then folks expect to find elves or something in my books. A bunch of folks (of which I was one) spent a lot of time coming up with a ‘definition’ of pulp that runs like this: “Fast-paced, plot-oriented storytelling of a linear nature with clearly defined, larger than life protagonists and antagonists, creative descriptions, clever use of turns of phrase and other aspects of writing that add to the intensity and pacing of the story.”

Now that’s quite a mouthful so it’s not something I can just spout off at a moment’s notice. It’s a compromise, too, which means that nobody was really happy with it. And there are so many exceptions to the rule that the definition often sparks debate amongst pulp fans.

I understand the desire to want to brand ourselves as “pulp” — we love it and we want to be a part of it, to be seen as the inheritors of the mantle and the ones who continue to carry it forward.

But to the general public, pulp fiction is a movie that starred John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson.

I don’t have the answer for how to change that. Honestly, I think it will take that brass ring we’re all chasing — the book or character that “breaks out” and becomes popular to the mainstream. But when that happens, will the New Pulp label be brought with it? I don’t know.

In the end, pulp is kind of like pornography… I may not be able to define it, but I know it when I see it. Brendan Fraser’s The Mummy? Pulp. The Time Traveler’s Wife? Not Pulp.

Our art today is by George Sellas and features Leonid Kaslov in a scene from “Kaslov’s Fire,” which can be found in The Rook Volume Two Special Edition.

New Reviews!

tales2Pulp superfan Michael Brown has posted a couple of new reviews on Amazon so I’m sharing them here. Thanks, Michael!

Let’s see what he had to say about The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Four: Satan’s Circus:

Lazarus Gray is a New Pulp character from writer Barry Reese. I have been reading his Rook series. (He has other works as well, but those are the ones I’ve been reading), but also enjoy Lazarus Gray as well as Gravedigger.

Gray is sort of inspired by the classic pulp hero The Avenger. He has setup a group similar to the Avenger’s called Assistance, Unlimited. He is set in a fictional town called Sovereign City (created by Pro Se Press publisher Tommy Hancock), and is part of the larger Sovereign City Project. He is also set in the same universe as Barry’s other characters, so has crossed over with them.

This volume, “The Adventures of Lazarus Gray, Vol. 4: Satan’s Circle,” is a collection of three items. First up is a short, two-page comic story that gives the background of who Lazarus Gray is, which first appeared in the 3rd volume. A good intro for new readers. The bulk of the volume is two novellas.

First up, we have a teamup with Lazarus Gray and friends with Thunder Jim Wade when both are attacked by a new villain called Leviathan. For those not aware, Thunder Jim Wade was a short-lived pulp hero inspired by Doc Savage. He was an science adventurer raised by a lost colony of Minoans located in Africa, and had their scientific secrets, which he used to create his vehicle, the Thunderbug, a combined plane-tank-submarine. He has two aids who provide the Ham-Monk dynamic. A reprint of the original series was done by Altus Press, and Pro Se Press did a collection of new stories. I thought this was a good story, and Wade was handled correctly. Reese is familiar with the character, having provided a new Wade story for Pro Se’s recent collection. Maybe this will lead to occasional reappearances of Wade in future Reese stories.

The second story closes out the Eidolon and Darkling storyline started in prior volumes. The classic pulp villain Doctor Satan, whom Reese has used very effectively in past stories, is the main catalyst for a showdown that bring back Lazarus and his friends, along with Abigail Cross, Eidolon and the Darkling. We also learn more about the Darkling in this story. After the ramifications of this story, it will be interesting to see what the future lies for Abigail, Eidolon and the Darkling in the Reese universe.

Closing out the volume, we get an updated chronology of the “Reese Universe” in the back of the book that places both the Lazarus Gray stories (including the next volume), plus the Rook stories and a few others by Reese. I believe the 5th volume is largely finished and we may see it later this year. Can’t wait, as I’ve really been enjoying the Lazarus Gray series. 5 Stars out of 5.

And here’s his review of Tales of The Rook Volume Two:

The Rook is a New Pulp character created by Barry Reese. The Rook fights crime and evil in the ’30s and ’40s (and later). He’s actually one of several New Pulp characters Barry has created, along with Lazarus Gray and Gravedigger, which have their own books..

In his seven Rook novels, Barry mixes in pulp hero, comic book and comic strip characters, along with occult horror/weird menace angles, and does a good job. He also adds in a love interest who will marry him (pulp heroes usually never do that, which is different). The Rook goes up against traditional villains, pulp super-foes and occult horrors, and is assisted by characters based on pulp heroes and comic book/comic strip characters (some original, other done as pastiches or homages to other characters).

Tales of the Rook, of which this is the second volume, is a little different. Here Barry allows others to write Rook tales, tho all are “canonical” and are usually included in Barry’s overall timeline of his characters, an updated version of which is included in the back (which strangely doesn’t include these stories). There are 5 stories in this volume.

Russ Anderson writes about the Rook’s encounters with a minor hero named Keystone, now dead. An interesting little story.

James Palmer’s story is set in the future, where a new person takes up the mantle of The Rook to confront a new evil. While the “future” stories of the Rook have been told, we are also told that they could be in a different time line. So this may allow for different takes on “future Rooks”.

David White has a story set during the Rook’s earlier period in Atlanta, were he confronts a new occult evil. We are also introduced, if briefly, to a new associate. Who knows if this new associate will re-appear, or the meaning regarding what happens at the end of the story.

Sean Taylor’s story focuses on the third Rook. the daughter of the first, as she works to rescue her friend Kayla Kaslov (daughter of Leonid Kaslov, the “Russian Doc Savage” pastiche that Reese created).

Adam Lance Garcia also has a story about the third Rook, but this is set when her brother is still the Rook and she winds up working with her father and they both come up against and old foe of the Rook.

As a bonus, we get a script for a proposed (but not created) animated story of the Rook by Barry Reese.

Rounding out the volume is an interview with Reese.

Overall, for any fan of the Rook, another great volume. I have no idea when Reese will come out with the next volume of Rook stories, as he seems to be focused right now on the next volumes of his other characters.

Again, thanks so much for the feedback, Michael!

My Ten Favorite Spider-Man Writers

romita_jr_spidermanI’ve been reading tons of old Spider-Man books lately and after really immersing myself in this stuff, I’ve been solidifying some long-held opinions about creators on the series. Today we’re looking at my 10 favorite Spidey writers!

Yes, I know — it’s not pulp related but you can deal with it for one day, right?

Let the list begin:

10. Joseph Michael Straczynski – JMS wrote Spider-Man from 2001-2007 and he did a lot of very good things. He also did some truly awful things. But the early issues were pretty good. I quite enjoyed the Morlun storyline and there was a really good Doctor Octopus story in there. Yes, the later stuff (Sins Past and One More Day) were things that are almost unforgivable but I still include him here for the strength of the stories he wrote in the beginning.

9. Tom DeFalco – The 1980s was really “my” Spider-Man and DeFalco did some amazing stuff when paired up with Ron Frenz. I really enjoyed most of his stuff and continued to enjoy his contributions via Spider-Girl later on. An underrated Spidey writer in my opinion.

8. Kurt Busiek – This is mainly on the strength of the wonderful Untold Tales of Spider-Man series. Busiek did a pitch-perfect series that danced in and out of established continuity. Some of the new characters he introduced in there are some of my favorites in Spidey history. Loved it.

7. David Michelinie – Most of his run is remembered for two things: the artists he was paired with (McFarlane, Larsen, Bagley) and the Venom/Carnage stuff. But it was a lot of fun overall and you never knew where things were going — towards the end, this was because neither the writer nor editor knew either.

6. Brian Michael Bendis – Look, I hate how decompressed his stuff is. Everything is stretched sooooooooo thin. But in the Ultimate Universe, Bendis has really defined the Spidey character(s). I actually really like Miles Morales! And the issue where Peter reveals his identity to Mary Jane is an absolute classic.

5. Gerry Conway – I felt that the Stan Lee era had really become boring by the end and Conway injected a lot of life back into the character. His version of Spidey was actually the first I read as a kid and I still enjoy reading them today. Some of the stories are bad, sure, but some are wonderful and hold up very well. His return on Web of Spider-Man was pretty good but I wish it had featured better artwork.

4. J.M Dematteis – Yes, sometimes you run into the trademarked psychological mumbo-jumbo that Dematteis always does but he also wrote the amazing Amazing Spider-Man # 400, Kraven’s Last Hunt and the death of Harry Osborn. When he’s on, he’s very good.

3. Dan Slott – The character’s current writer, Slott had consistently told entertaining stories and Superior Spider-Man has been some of the best Spider-Man we’ve seen in a long, long time. I’m really enjoying it and hope he stays on the book for a long time to come.

2. Stan Lee – The early issues with Ditko are brilliant! I’ve always found the Romita issues to be bland and boring (though pretty to look at) so I’m ranking him so highly based upon his role as the character’s defining voice and the fact that the first 30+ issues are some of the greatest superhero comics of all time.

1. Roger Stern – My Spidey writer! Stern did some amazing stories and his Hobgoblin storyline remains one of my all-time favorites. I enjoyed it when he came back and revealed the true identity of the iconic villain, too. So many great stories and Stern was the best at handling the supporting cast. Hell, he even made Lance Bannon interesting!

What say you, Spidey fans?