A New Lazarus Gray Review!

Ernest Russell gave the first Lazarus Gray volume a 5 Star review on Amazon. Here’s what he had to say:

Barry Reese has truly caught the spirit of the pulps of the 1930s. Adventure, weird tale and suspense- Lazarus Gray and Assistance Unlimited deliver it all. Barry does a wonderful job of providing a framework of classic good and evil to allow characters with a moral ambiguity to have pivotal roles in the story. The character of Lazarus Gray and his associates, along with his gallery of rogues, are a splendid amalgamation of known and less known pulp themes that pay homage to Dent, Howard, Lovecraft and more while creating something truly original. This isn’t just another Pulp story, this IS New Pulp.

Thanks so much, Ernest! I’m glad you enjoyed it and I hope that you’ll continue to read the series. Volumes 8 & 9 are on the way!

My Favorite Fantastic Four Runs

ffThe Fantastic Four is one of my favorite Marvel titles and with the company planning to relaunch them in their own book again soon, I figured it’s time to take a deep dive into the FF’s history.

Like DC’s Challengers of the Unknown, the FF is a very pulp-style concept and it lends itself to those kinds of storytelling. The family aspect of the team is also very appealing and sets them apart from other superhero groups.

So what runs are my favorites? Let’s take a gander:

9. Mark Waid/Mike Wieringo – I don’t love this run as much as others do. While I am a huge Wieringo fan, something never clicked with me during his FF run and the plots varied wildly in quality. Having said that, I actually enjoyed the mystic-centered Doom storyline and appreciated the fact that the FF’s family relationships were highlighted so strongly.

8. Chris Claremont/Salvador Larocca – Yes, it was basically the FF hanging out with all kinds of X-Men concepts but it had some great moments and it gave us Valeria, for which I will always be grateful. Besides, I liked the stuff with the Captain Britain Corps, Ronan and even Crucible. It was a fun period for the FF but it did rely too heavily upon Claremont’s mutant storylines.

7. James Robinson/Leonard Kirk – This run closed off the FF title for several years and I think that it’s mostly ignored as a result. Because so much of it dealt with the “fall” of the team, I think it’s a real shame that it ended when it did because Robinson did a great job with the various team personalities and Kirk killed it on the art. I would have liked to have seen them continue the book after the team had been reassembled. I particularly liked how Robinson handled Valeria.

6. Steve Englehart/Keith Pollard – This much-maligned run is a real guilty pleasure of mine. I always adore Englehart’s characterization and thought this run did a lot to recapture the epic scope of the FF. The team traveled all around the globe and into other dimensions, while uncovering all kinds of hidden Marvel lore. It also guest-starred Mantis, Kang, the Beyonder (they did a storyline called Secret Wars III that was, to me, absolutely wonderful) and tons more. The artwork was solid and the team dynamics — for most of the period, the squad was Ben (as leader), Johnny, Crystal and She-Thing — were a lot of fun to watch.

5. Marv Wolfman/Keith Pollard/John Byrne – The Wolfman period featured not only the greatest Reed/Doom battle of all time (issue 200) but also featured a wonderful multi-issue storyline where the FF teamed up with Nova and the Champions of Xandar to take on Galactus and The Sphinx. The throwdown between Galactus and The Sphinx remains one of my all-time favorite FF moments. As always with Wolfman, the characterization and plotting are pitch-perfect.

4. Carlos Pacheco/Jeff Loeb/Rafael Marin – First off, the art was incredible. Second, these guys actually made me enjoy two villains that had always bored the crap out of me: Diablo and Annihilus. The characterizations were great, the plots were exciting and I only wish that Pacheco could have stayed on even longer. I never hear people talking about this era but they should: it was tremendously fun!

3. Tom DeFalco/Paul Ryan – Yes, there were missteps along the way (Sue’s peekaboo costume, for instance) but there was so much great stuff, too. Even Sue’s costuming had a story explanation — Malice was influencing her, after all. I dearly wish this entire run was collected in trade. The art was solid and some of the storylines are just sheer, unadulterated fun. It really was like a Silver Age comic written with a dash of 90s sensibilities thrown in. Plus, it was one of the last times where it felt like the Fantastic Four title was a place where Important Things Happen. The “death” of Reed led to a heavy emphasis on both Kristoff and Ant-Man, which was fine by me, and I actually even enjoyed Hyperstorm.

2. John Byrne – An absolutely masterful run. Some of these stories are such absolute classics that it’s hard to limit yourself to naming just a few — the terror in a tiny town issue, the battle with Gladiator, the “everybody vs. Galactus” story, the arrival of She-Hulk to the team, etc. This period is rightfully considered one of the title’s Golden Ages and if you haven’t read it in its entirety, you haven’t read the FF.

1. Stan Lee/Jack Kirby – How can you not put this at the top? A 102 issue run (plus annuals) that set the foundation for the entire Marvel Universe. The Inhumans, Doctor Doom, Galactus, The Silver Surfer, the Kree, the Skrulls… you could go on and on. Kirby’s art was at its peak, Lee’s grandiose storytelling was never better… this is the pinnacle of the Marvel Silver Age.

What about you guys? What are your favorite FF runs?

It’s Always Fun…

The Adventures of Lazarus GrayTo type “The End.”

Yep, I typed those magical words on the ninth volume of Lazarus Gray yesterday. This one is a novel-length tale, like volume seven was. No idea when you guys will see it since volume eight hasn’t been published yet… but someday! I have a lot of other projects that need my attention over the next few months, not the least of which is some real-life work stuff that I have to focus on… but I can go ahead and announce that the tenth volume of Lazarus Gray has a title and it’s one that I’ve been sitting on for quite awhile. Volume nine is set in 1941 and volume ten will move us to a post Pearl Harbor setting… So I can announce that THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME TEN: LAZARUS GRAY AT WAR will see the heroes of Assistance Unlimited moving into wartime America.

Big things are coming.

Timeline of My Pulp Adventure Universe (updated 5/23/18)

gravediggerMajor Events specific to certain stories and novels are included in brackets. Some of this information contains SPOILERS for The Peregrine, 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.

Continue reading → Timeline of My Pulp Adventure Universe (updated 5/23/18)

The CalArts Thing

I was unfamiliar with the term CalArts but I had definitely noticed a sense of familiarity about many of the new animated shows out there. This is an interesting look at the movement.


In the wake of the new Thundercats show, CalArts is taking a beating for being producing an ugly, simplistic, and homogenized art style in animation that has become linked to SocJus.

thunder cat

It’s long been the subject of several memes.calarts meme

There was a good thread recently about why “CalArts” has become linked with SocJus that can be read here.

But what is “CalArts” really like, and is it really to blame? Is it ugly and homogeneous? I’ll let you be the judge.

I found a page that has the 2018 films of CalArts animation students.

Here is something from a 4th year CalArts student:

Squiggly words and keyframes aren’t what comes to mind when most folks think of animation.

This animation from a 4th year would’ve been nuked from orbit had it been posted on NewGrounds:

On the other hand, 13 pages in, I did find this gem by…

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James Bond Begins!: Sean Connery as 007 in DR. NO (United Artists 1962)

cracked rear viewer

Ian Fleming’s secret agent 007, James Bond, was introduced in the 1953 novel Casino Royale, and was a smashing success, leading to a long-running series of books starring MI-6’s “licensed to kill” super spy. No less than President John F. Kennedy was a huge fan of Fleming’s books, and since the early 60’s were all about “Camelot”, producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman decided to cash in and bring James Bond to the big screen (the character had appeared in the person of Barry Nelson in an adaptation of CASINO ROYALE for a 1954 episode of TV’s CLIMAX!, with Peter Lorre as the villain Le Chiffre).

DR. NO was the first Bond movie, and the producers wanted Patrick McGoohan, star of the British TV series SECRET AGENT, to play the suave, ruthless Bond. McGoohan declined, and Richard Johnson was considered. He also turned them down, leading Broccoli and Saltzman…

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Shared this video with my World Literature class and thought that some others might enjoy it as well. A nice overview of Franz Kafka’s life and work.

Tolkien 101: Rereading The Hobbit

Every Day Should Be Tuesday

I’ve been trying to keep my paper library to a manageable size, but I’m afraid of the quality of the kindle versions for old books.  So I’ve been buying even more physical books.  At least the books back then, like the people, were a lot thinner.

I need to be careful about my library management though.  I briefly panicked that I had tossed my original copy of The Hobbit.  It has a horrid, horrid cover, probably the worst The Hobbit cover ever, and I bought a nice, leatherbound copy several months ago (both are pictured below).  But it was that ugly old paperback copy that my mom originally pressed on me that ignited my love of reading permanently, a love that has played no small part in all of this, as I alluded to in my announcement post.

This is my first time rereading The Hobbit in a long…

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“Captain Action Does It Again!”

Over on Amazon.com, a user named Chris posted a 4-Star review of the newest Captain Action novel that I wrote with my buddy, Jim Beard. Here’s what Chris said:

Captain Action does it again!

This third volume in the saga of Captain Action hits the right buttons. Jungle action, alien evil, romance, secret disguises and high-tech gadgetry, all rolled into a 1960’s fast-paced, smile-inducing adventure. Fans of the Captain Action character and toys will be pleased, as will fans of men’s adventure fiction.

Thanks, Chris! I think I can speak for Jim in saying that we both wanted to create an homage to Sixties-era Bond tales crossed with a healthy dose of pulp adventure and it sounds like you felt we achieved that goal. Thanks for taking time to post your review.