The Mystery of The Peregrine’s Mask

When I wrote the very first Peregrine story (“Lucifer’s Cage”), I never knew that the mask I gave our hero would prove so challenging. Here’s how I described it for the very first time:

“On his face was a small domino mask affixed with a bird-like beak over the nose.”

Easy enough, right? But the mask has been interpreted in various ways over the years, with some folks adding wings on the sides and some dispensing with the beak entirely. I’ve enjoyed seeing the various takes on the mask and believe that artistic interpretation is fun. Besides, there’s nothing to say that The Peregrine doesn’t have several variant masks stashed in his closet.

In recent years, George Sellas has become the primary artist for my pulp universe line of heroes and he’s done wonders to define the core design of The Peregrine.

Here’s a few different looks that Max Davies has sported :

Storn Cook’s Version

 

 

 

Ver Curtiss’s Version

 

 

 

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Frank Brunner’s version

 

 

 

Anthony Castrillo’s Version

 

 

 

Ed Mironiuk’s Version

 

 

 

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George Sellas’s Version

 

 

 

So what’s been your favorite?

Readin’ and Writin’

So I’ve been working on the ninth Lazarus Gray volume the past week or so and it’s off to a great start. Found a bit of history/mythology that I hadn’t focused on before in the series, which is exciting. When you’ve written as much as I have, you can sometimes feel like you’ve covered practically everything under the sun. That’s never true, of course – there’s sooooo much weird history out there, waiting to be mined for a story or two!

In terms of reading, I recently plowed through some old Black Panther comics (Panther’s Rage, Panther’s Quest, the Priest run and the first 16 or so issues of the Hudson run). I’m about to start Showcase Presents: Hawkman and I’m also reading some classic Will Eisner Spirit. At the same time I’m perusing Dave Sim’s Collected Letters volume 2.

What have you guys been reading lately?

Characters I Love: Dart of Atari Force

Every so often, 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.

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Captain Action – now in audio format!

Airship 27 & Radio Archives are excited to present their fans with pulse pounding pulp adventure in Captain Action Volume 3 Cry of the Jungle Lord written by Jim Beard and Barry Reese and read by Roberto Scarlato. Now available here –

(https://www.audible.com/pd/Mysteries-Thrillers/Captain-Action-Cry-of-the-Jungle-Lord-Audiobook/B07BN3J3SM?ref=a_a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=82Z1D82GB215Y46ZP84Z&)

New Reviews!

HUDSON HAWKTwo of my books have gotten new reviews posted at Amazon recently so let’s take a look at them, shall we?

First up is Grady Landrum with a 5-star review of Nightveil: The Quiet Girls. Here’s what he had to say:

Great pulp style adventure. Fast paced smooth flow. Hooks you from chapter one. Not classic literature but well worth the read. Looking forward to the follow up.

Next up we have Dennis Roy with a 4-star look at Of Monsters and Men:

This is an interesting new pulp anthology of nine short illustrated prose stories. The theme pits pulp heroes (some pretty obscure) against some classic literary monsters. Included as a bonus in the hardcover edition of the book only, are reprints of the three one-shot comic books DOMINO LADY VS THE MUMMY, PHANTOM DETECTIVE VS. FRANKENSTEIN, and BLACK BAT VS, DRACULA. The trade paperback edition of the book includes only the illustrated prose stories. The complete story list is as follows:

1. THE PHANTOM’S GHOST by Eric Fein (The Green Ghost vs. the Phantom of the Opera)

The Green Ghost began in his own magazine (originally as just THE GHOST, Detective) published by Standard Magazines and written by G.T. Fleming-Roberts (not to be confused with the earlier Green Ghost, created by Johnston McCulley), before moving into THRILLING MYSTERY for his last few stories. Further new pulp adventures of The Green Ghost can be found in an anthology of stories published by Airship 27. This Green Ghost is really stage magician and escape artist George Chance, who uses his skills disguised as the masked and caped vigilante to track down a madman inspired by Gaston Leroux’s original Phantom of the Opera.

2. BUMP IN THE NIGHT by Tommy Hancock (The Moon Man vs. The Invisible Man)

The Moon Man first appeared in a series of 38 short stories in the pulp TEN DETECTIVE ACES, written by Frederick Davis and published by Ace Magazines. Further new adventures of The Moon Man have been published by Airship 27. As the Moon Man, detective sergeant Steve Thatcher plays a dangerous game, evading his own colleagues in the police department while robbing criminals of their ill-gotten wealth to redistribute to the city’s poor. Wearing a long black robe and spherical helmet composed of one-way mirrored glass, his head appears to be a featureless silver globe. Here he discovers that H.G. Wells’ Invisible Man did not die at the end of that novel, a situation the Moon Man intends to rectify.

3. THE RETURN OF THE MONSTERS by Sean Taylor (The Golden Amazon vs. Quasimodo)

The Golden Amazon was created by John Russell Fearn, and appeared in a long series of novels beginning in 1945. Before that, he had written an earlier incarnation of the character for a quartet of novelettes that had appeared in AMAZING STORIES (those stories predated the more famous Wonder Woman character published by DC Comics, to whom the Golden Amazon bears certain similarities). Many of the postwar Golden Amazon novels (a series that ran well into the 1950s) have been reprinted by Wildside/Borgo Press. The character that appears in this anthology seems to be the later version from the novel series, rather than the earlier version from Amazing Stories. In this story Violet Ray Brant (aka the Golden Amazon), product of a genetic experiment, is visiting Notre Dame cathedral in Paris to investigate a cult determined to resurrect an ancient goddess. They’ve resurrected the corpse of the original hunchback of Notre Dame, now endowed with supernatural speed and strength, to serve their purposes.

4. A FLY IN THE OINTMENT by David White (The Skull vs. The Fly)

The Skull seems to be close analog of the copyrighted character “The Skull Killer”, the hero of two one-shot pulp magazines starring villains, THE OCTOPUS and THE SCORPION, both published by Popular Publications. The original Skull Killer was a nemesis of crime whom no one had ever seen (and lived), who signed his work by leaving a skull mark stamped in acid on the foreheads of his slain foes. He is both wanted by the police, and feared by criminals for his ability to relentlessly punish the guilty while leaving no clue to his identity. In reality, he was millionaire Jeffrey Fairchild, who maintained (using makeup) the alternate identity of Dr. Skull, an elderly physician who ran a charitable medical clinic in the city’s slums. No one suspects Fairchild’s alternate personas. In the story by David White in the present anthology, the characteristics and relationships of the original pulp characters have been maintained but the names have been changed. Jeff Fairchild becomes Danny Ivers, the aged medico Dr. Skull becomes Dr. Harold Killian, and the mysterious Skull Killer becomes simply The Skull. Dr. Skull’s beautiful assistant and head nurse Carol Endicott becomes Kelly Walters. In this version The Skull identity is given more of a distinctive physical costume and makeup, to allow the illustrator to depict him in this story where he’s opposed by THE FLY, the character from the novel by George Langelaan which inspired the 20th Century Fox film (as interpreted by screenwriter Kurt Neumann) in 1958. This story uses the earlier novel/film version of The Fly, not the later remake film version from 1986, directed by David Cronenberg.

5. SYCORAX by Matthew Baugh (Captain Future vs. The Witch)

Captain Future, aka Curtis Newton was the hero of his own self-titled pulp magazine published by Standard Magazines. After his own magazine was cancelled, his adventures continued for a time in the long-running SF pulp STARTLING STORIES, from the same publisher. He was created and mainly written by Edmond Hamilton, who later had a second career writing numerous scripts for DC Comics from the late 1940s through the early 1906s. There he was best remembered for his contributions to the Silver Age Superman family and Legion of Super-Heroes comic books. Captain Future is assisted by the huge metal robot Grag, the white-skinned, hairless, shape-changing android Otho, and the elderly genius Dr. Simon Wright, now known as The Brain, whose body had died but whose brain had been preserved in a glassite cube which was outfitted with camera eyestalks, metal tentacles for manipulating objects, and force beams for levitation and mobility. Collectively the group are known as The Futuremen. Together they had raised the infant Curt Newton, after his parents had been murdered by a criminal overlord, in a secret base on the dark side of Earth’s moon, training him to physical perfection and making him an intellectual marvel, expert in a wide range of sciences. In this story Captain Future is challenged by Sycorax, is the offstage character from William Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST, a vicious and powerful witch who was mother to the villain Caliban.

6. THE FLYING DEAD by Barry Reese (Richard Knight, the Man Named ‘Q’, vs. Zombies on High)

Richard Knight was a World War 1 ace and spy, similar to Popular Publications’ G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES. His adventures, written by Donald E. Keyhoe, originally appeared in FLYING ACES, and the first four of these stories have been collected by Altus Press. Further new adventures have been published in anthologies from Pro Se Productions as part of their Pulp Obscura line.

7. ZERO SQUARED by Chuck Miller (Zero vs. Demons)

This Zero is an analog of the copyrighted character CAPTAIN ZERO, one of the last of the original pulp heroes, published by Popular Publications in 1949. As a human volunteer for a military medical experiment durin WWII, he becomes invisible (whether he wants to or not) each night at exactly midnight, his condition lasting until sunrise. As with the previous copyrighted character the Skull Killer, in this story the names have been changed, but the basic characters and relationships remain as in the original Captain Zero pulp stories. For whatever reason, the character of Doro Kelly, the hero’s love interest in the original pulps, has been retained unchanged.

8. WAR OF THE BEAST MAN (Ki-Gor the Jungle Lord vs. the Beast Men)

Ki-Gor, a blond jungle hero designed to capitalize on the public’s hunger for more stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan, appeared in a long-running series of novels published by Fiction House in their JUNGLE STORIES pulp magazine, aided there (as here) by his beautiful mate, the curvaceous but eminently capable jungle girl, Helene. Some of the original pulp stories have been reprinted by Altus Press, while further new adventures have appeared in anthologies published by Airship 27.

9. THE DAEMON’S KISS by Adam Lance Garcia (The Green Lama vs. Succubus)

New pulp author Adam Lance Garcia has written several stories of the Green Lama, continuing the adventures of the original pulp hero created by Kendall Foster Crossen for DOUBLE DETECTIVE Magazine, published by the Frank Munsey Company in the 1940s. The character later appeared, in somewhat altered form, in Golden Age comic books and in his own short-lived radio series, in the late 1940s, but here he’s returned to his original pulp magazine incarnation. The Green Lama was one of the most interesting of the minor league pulp avengers because of his devotion to Buddhism, making him quite different in characterization from most pulp fiction mystery men. Although originally intended to tap into the public’s fascination for the radio adventures of The Shadow, the Buddhist angle gave the Green Lama quite a different flavor. A revived interest in the character began via Dynamite Entertaiment’s revival of the character as part of the cast of the comic book series PROJECT SUPERPOWERS, and Adam Lance Garcia has been continuing the revived interest in a growing number of new pulp stories published by Cornerstone Books and Moonstone Books. Other authors have contributed new stories of the character as well, some of which appear in an anthology published by Airship 27.

Although most of the stories in this book are quite short, they are each accompanied by an average of a half-dozen full page illustrations, using a different artist for each story. That makes this anthology more of a visual treat (along with the reprinted comic book format stories included exclusively in the hardcover edition of the book) than is typically the case for new pulp story collections. Some of the artists featured are David Niehaus, Silvio Kiko, Mark Grammel, Eric Ridgeway, Manuel Diaz Bejaranno, Amin Amat, Ivan Barriga, Tom Floyd, and Mike Fyles, and the illustrations are of generally high quality. The prose stories themselves are, due to their brevity, somewhat less detailed in plot development and descriptive passages than was the case with the original pulp stories featuring these characters, but overall, I’d recommend this anthology for the variety of characters included and the novelty of the theme, especially if you appreciate illustration art. It’s a pleasure to see the artists’ visual conceptions of the heroes and villains in key action scenes from the stories, especially since the original pulp stories were often sparsely illustrated.

Thanks to both guys for their thoughtful reviews – much appreciated!

FF Reviews: Marvel Two-in-One # 4

mtio4Another amazing issue! The art and story combine for a terrific story… and the cliffhanger was a really good one. It left me really excited for the next issue. Overall, this has been a great series so far with fun new characters, wonderful homages to classic Fantastic Four tales from the past and a nice mixture of nostalgia and forward-thinking events.

There was a twist with our doctor character this issue that makes me wonder what’s up with her…

I’m not 100% certain WHY Ben and Johnny are in this alternate universe, though. Is their plan really to just locate *a* Reed Richards and see if he can help them? That’s kinda… weird. Having said that, I like this universe so I’m not gonna complain.

The art was very, very good. I think I’m gonna like this guy.

Sometimes You Just Need an Excuse to Get to Your Implausible Action

I haven’t read any of this series but after this post, I think I’m going to track one or two of them down!

Cirsova

I’m reading The Swordsman of Mars, my 5th planetary romance by Otis Adelbert Kline, and the 4th in his Dr. Morgan series. As with all of the Doc Morgan stories, we are briefly introduced to the concept of telepathic exchange of minds across space and time–a process which he discovered with the help of Lal Vak, a Martian scientist living a million years in Earth’s past, which allows for individuals with similar enough physiques and thought patterns are able to transfer personalities with the help of their devices.

Dr. Morgan finds bored or down on their luck highly capable individuals and sends them off to implausible adventures on alien worlds, with the promise of thrills and romance and assurances that they’ll probably do just fine once they get there and learn the language.

It’s a silly concept, one which Kline even lampshades in the author’s foreword of the second Dr…

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FF Reviews: Marvel Two-in-One # 3

mtio3My new favorite title continues to roll along – though this time we have a new artist for the ride. I was disappointed at first because I’ve been really digging Cheung’s work on the book but the art by Schiti was actually pretty good and by the end of the story, I was fine with the switch-up.

Ben and Johnny continue to hunt for Reed and the rest of the FF family… and Ben’s still lying to Johnny about what he does (and doesn’t) know. In this issue they work with Hercules to locate someone that can hopefully restore the Torch’s powers… and it just so happens that said person is the girl that Ben flirted with in issue one. A big coincidence but I’m fine with it. I really like this new character and I’m pleased that it seems she’s going to be around for awhile.

I wasn’t too thrilled with the portrayal of the Mad Thinker for most of the issue – he seemed like even more of a loser than usual… but the twist at the very end has me very, very intrigued. Kinda a new riff on the Frightful Four? Could be cool.

Hydro-Man! One of my favorite lame villains. He has a good showing here.

The revelation about how the Fantastic Four are linked together… I like that a lot. Can’t believe nobody’s done anything like that before.

Another stellar issue!

FF Reviews: Marvel Two-in-One # 2

Another fantastic issue – Chip Zdarsky totally nails Ben Grimm’s voice and he straddles the line perfectly between nostalgia for the Fantastic Four and keeping things firmly grounded in the modern Marvel Universe. He even makes me like the current take on Doctor Doom!

Some fun elements here for longtime FF fans: Alicia shows up, we return to Monster Island for some hilarious election humor involving the Mole Man and Doctor Doom and at the end we see a great flashback to Ben and Reed’s college days.

All in all, this is by far my favorite new series from Marvel in a long time!

New Reese Unlimited Anthology Open for Submissions!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

THREE POPULAR NEW PULP HEROES IN ONE BOOK BY OTHER WRITERS-OPEN CALL FOR REESE UNLIMITED’S THREE TO FIGHT’ ANTHOLOGY!

Award winning Author Barry Reese has been a mainstay in New Pulp and Genre Fiction for years. Of his many creations, three stand out as notable characters in New Pulp-The Peregrine, Gravedigger, and Lazarus Gray. These three characters are the tent pole around which Reese Unlimited, Pro Se’s first Author imprint, was built and now, for the first time ever Reese and Pro Se announce an open call like no other. Submissions are now open for THREE TO FIGHT, an anthology that will, for the first time, feature stories written by other writers starring Reese’s three most popular and best known creations.

“THREE TO FIGHT,” says Tommy Hancock, “is an idea that has been discussed here and there, having other writers tackle some of Barry’s characters, as has been done in the past. The specific concept, though, for this anthology came from an image by Mark Propst, that Barry shared with me. As soon as I saw it, not only did I know I was looking at the cover for a future book, but the cool idea that has become THREE TO FIGHT basically exploded to life. And now, it’s time to bring the writers ready to get their hands on Barry’s wonderfully imaginative universe in and get this thing rolling.”

Two types of stories will be accepted for this anthology. The first type of story accepted for THREE TO FIGHT must feature TWO of the three characters-The Peregrine, Lazarus Gray, and/or Gravedigger. No story will only feature one and no story will feature all three. Another type of story that can appear in this volume can be stories featuring any TWO teams/supporting casts of the characters mentioned above, even if the characters themselves do not appear. Whole teams do not have to appear in these stories, but, as per the other type of story accepted, only TWO supporting casts/teams may team up, not all three.

Stories for THREE TO FIGHT series must be 8-10,000 words in length. Those interested in submitting a proposal should contact submissions@prose-press.com to request the Reese Unlimited Timeline. A proposal of 100-500 words must be submitted to submissions@prose-press.com. Authors not previously published by Pro Se Productions must submit a writing sample of at least two pages with their proposals.

If accepted, final deadline for completed stories is 90 days following acceptance of proposals. At point of acceptance, copies of all Reese Unlimited works related to the characters will be available to approved writers. Supplemental information may also be provided. Payment will be in the form of royalties, the percentage determined by number of accepted submissions.

THREE TO FIGHT is a part of the Pro Se Open, the company’s anthology project, and is scheduled to be published in the 2019-2021 calendar years, depending on submissions and other factors.