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Eidolon Gets A New Review

eidolon_and_darkling_01_low_resThe Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three: Eidolon received another review on, this time from reader Ray Bara. This is what he had to say:

Nobody writes “New Pulp” better than Barry Reese, and The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume 3: Eidolon is clearly no exception. The stories are full of action, with never a dull moment. The characters are well rounded and fit the pulp-style mold perfectly. The five Assistance Unlimited members, especially the titular Lazarus Gray, are written the way you want your characters written: brave and heroic, yet flawed too. The villains are great as well, in particular, The Darkling, a new addition to the Lazarus Gray rogues gallery. I also love the way that Reese has molded a great story arc for this book, but in a way that the arc is continuing toward the next book as well. As much as I loved reading the book, and hated for it to end, I am anxiously anticipating the next volume. If you are looking for great adventure fiction, check out the Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume 3: Eidolon.

Thanks, Ray! I really appreciate the  kind words. The Darkling was a character that I really had a lot of fun writing — he was probably the most direct Shadow homage I’ve ever done and I think it worked really well. You get to find out a good bit more about his background in Volume Four, which should make you happy. The story arc you referenced will come to a close in the next book (though the series itself will continue, of course). I’ve never really been an “epic” kind of writer but I did try to do some things with books 2-4 that would lend itself to that sort of thing. Glad to see that it’s working for you – so far, at least! The real test, I suppose, will be when you’ve had a chance to read the wrap-up.

Our image today features The Darkling (in the background) and Eidolon (foreground). It’s by the amazing George Sellas and is a wonderful depiction of these two anti-heroes.

Happy Fourth of July!

20120623-085841.jpgFor my American visitors, I hope you have a wonderful Fourth of July — I’ll be grilling hotdogs and roasting marshmallows with the family today.

To give you something of a treat, here’s a Will Meugniot image of Claws of The Rook members Esper and Revenant. It will finally see print in The Rook Volume Five Special Edition, which should be published someday (Pro Se has only gotten through the first two volumes so far so it might be awhile!). Will did some gorgeous stuff for this book — including a cover that is the epitome of the words “action packed.”

Enjoy a wonderful day, folks!

The Lone Ranger

Saw The Lone Ranger. As with John Carter, a lot of critics and fans seem to actively WANT this movie to fail. I’ll say this: the movie is too long, as are most movies these days. I think it could have been 30 mins shorter. But it had humor, action and the final sequence is one of the greatest action scenes ever put on film. My six year old said he loved it. The scene that The Huffington Post warned parents about is not that bad – Julian was totally unfazed by it. It has some fun shout-outs to classic Ranger lore. I would love to see a sequel but we’ll have to see if this one makes enough to warrant one. The theatre I was in was about 2/3 full. I give it a 7 out of 10.


Characters I Love # 12: Mr. Terrific

mr. terrificEvery Wednesday, I focus on a character from adventure fiction (film, comics & prose) that I simply adore. This week we’re talking about: Mr. Terrific. Michael Holt made his debut in Spectre # 54, published in 1997. The second hero to use the name Mr. Terrific, I think it’s safe to say that Michael has far surpassed the original in terms of popularity. This is how Wikipedia sums up his background:

At a young age, Michael Holt showed remarkable intelligence, reading and assimilating the works of Bohr, Einstein, Planck and Feynman, the pantheon of theoretical physics, at the age of six. He studied advanced science, space, and time “while other children struggled through Sesame Street” Michael grew up with his mentally challenged older brother, Jeffrey, whom Michael loved dearly. When Jeffrey died at the age of 15, Michael was devastated.Holt displayed “a natural aptitude for having natural aptitudes”, as he called it, easily picking up and retaining complex skills and abilities that other men spent their entire lives perfecting. Before he began his career as a superhero, he already possessed 14 Ph.D’s (two in engineering and physics—including doctorates and masters degrees in law, psychology, chemistry, political science, and mathematics), was a self-made multi-millionaire[1] with a high tech firm called Cyberwear (subsequently sold to Waynetech) and was a gold medal winning Olympic decathlete. The accidental deaths of his wife and unborn child were a devastating blow to Holt and while contemplating suicide, he was met by the Spectre, who told him about Terry Sloane, the Golden Age superhero known as Mister Terrific. Inspired by Sloane’s life story, he took the name Mister Terrificand later joined the current Justice Society of America, eventually serving as its chairman. He initially wore ordinary clothes and a leather jacket with Sloane’s “Fair Play” emblem on the back. He then wears a T-shaped mask composed of electronic nanites, a black and white costume with red trim, and a collarless jacket in the same colors (the black sections of tunic and jacket forming a “T”) with “Fair Play” written on the sleeves and “Terrific” across the back. For a time he acted as spokesperson for Tylerco and consulted that company on industrial espionage and security matters in exchange for that company helping fund a youth center Terrific had started. Holt has a friendly rivalry with Batman, his opposite number in the Justice League of America (in his identity as Bruce Wayne, Batman owns Holt’s business). Michael Holt has encountered Terry Sloane twice through time travel, with Sloane expressing pride in having so worthy a successor. Holt has been noted as the most intelligent member of the JSA in its history, surpassing his predecessor. He is also known as the third smartest person in the world, and this notion now appears to be widespread within the DC Universe.

Now if that history doesn’t scream “pulp hero” to you, then I think we have very different idea about what that term means. This guy is basically a modern day Doc Savage, in terms of his brilliance and wide range of interests. From the moment he joined the Justice Society, it just felt so right that he’d take on the leadership role. He was their Batman, only with a hell of a lot more emotion. Speaking of which, the scenes between Terrific and Batman in JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice are worth the price of admission alone.

In the New 52, Mr. Terrific received an ongoing solo series that tweaked his background (not really for the better). In the new universe, he’s lost his JSA connection, been paired up with Power Girl and then got shunted over to Earth-2, where he’ll presumably join the still unnamed JSA that they’re building over there. I still love the character but think he’s lost a lot in the new version.

Mr. Terrific is a wonderful character with tons of potential — and I really hope DC finds a way to exploit that in the future.


Random Thoughts

laz3coverHello, folks!

Got confirmation yesterday that I’ll be presenting at this year’s Crossroads Writers Conference in Macon, Georgia. I’ll be there the first weekend in October, presenting at least talk and also serving on at least one panel. You can head over to their website to register for the conference, which is always great fun. There are writers from many different disciplines who do presentations, including non-fiction, comics and a lot more. Definitely worth your time, whether you’re a novice or an experienced pro.

I read over a Kindle Worlds yesterday and not to sound arrogant but I think I can do better than that. So at some point I do plan to contribute something to the Valiant side of Kindle Worlds. Right now, I’m going to stay focused on driving forward with Gravedigger and then I have to do the mystery project that I teased last week. THEN, maybe I can belt out a Kindle Worlds short before returning to Lazarus Gray. Oh, and then I need to start work on that Thunder Jim Wade novella for Pro Se’s Pulp Obscura line.

Okay, now I’m tired from thinking about all the stuff I have to do! Ugh.

I’ve been really enjoying Defiance on Scy-Fy, though I wish they’d stop killing characters in every episode. They actually teased the season finale by saying that someone’s journey would come to an end. Isn’t that every episode? Death loses its impact if you’re continually killing off the supporting cast.

Don’t forget that I have a couple of recent releases that are for sale (and badly in need of more reviews!!!) – if you’re interested, please check out The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three: Eidolon and The Adventures of Gravedigger Volume One. I appreciate getting your feedback but I also love it when you leave reviews on Amazon as they spur more sales from others.

Take Care, Everyone!

A New Week Begins!

spirit_alandavisYep, it’s another Monday at Ye Olde Blog. It’s amazing how quickly the days are flowing by — it’s already July! Yowza.

Work is progressing very well on Gravedigger Volume Two. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to creep up to the 30,000 mark by the end of the week, which would mean that I’m halfway through with the novel. So far, it’s a very worthy sequel in my not-quite-unbiased opinion. The villains are powerful and have some special connections to our heroine… and I’ve found some good opportunity to give the various members of the supporting cast a chance to shine.

Finished reading the Dr. Zeng Omnibus this weekend. The series features a Caucasian who, through plastic surgery and the fact that he spent 20 years in the Orient, is able to pass himself off as Dr. Zeng, one of Chinatown’s greatest minds. He moonlights as an evil-smashing hero. It’s good, classic pulp fun with only a few tinges of racism (it’s a product of its time, people, always remember that). The first story features a midget who bites people to death.

It only gets wackier from there.

The production values are high and the original interior illustrations are included. It is a bit pricey ($34.95 retail for a paperback) but I definitely enjoyed the stories.

Someone told me recently that they check my blog every day to see what’s going on in the New Pulp world. I confess that I was a bit taken aback since I think I don’t really focus on very much outside of my own little circle of writings. Maybe back when I did the New Pulp Bestseller’s List, you could argue that I was a one-stop shop for news and so forth… but I mainly use the blog for promotional purposes and to give an outlet for all the crazy things that go through my head. Still, it was flattering — but if you do want to know what’s going on in the greater New Pulp community, I’d recommend All Pulp or Coming Attractions. I visit both sites on a regular basis.

Sundays have once again become my busy night for television as I watch Big Brother (my reality tv guilty pleasure), True Blood and Dexter. I’m certainly going to miss Dexter when it ends after this season. There have been ups and downs over the course of the series but overall, it’s been a real winner.

Our artwork today combines two of my favorite things: Will Eisner’s The Spirit with the talented pencils of Alan Davis. Lovely, isn’t it?

See you guys tomorrow!


From the Vault: Why The Walking Dead Is Pissing Me Off


Originally posted 3/4/2013

So last night I posted the following two status updates on Facebook — be warned that they, and what follows, could include spoilers for the current season of The Walking Dead. Do not shamble on if you are not okay with that!

I gave up on the comics series because of the unrelenting grimness – I might eventually do the same with The Walking Dead show. If we saw the triumph of the human spirit… The perseverance of morality… The growth of true heroism in the face of impossible odds… I’d be there. But this is just prolonged torture porn. Well-done but that’s what it is.


Tonight’s episode – they refuse to help the guy with the backpack TWICE… But they sure as hell stop to take his supplies from next to his dead body. Classy, Walking Dead.

Now, I love zombies — Dawn of the Dead being a particular favorite. I read about zombies, watch zombie movies, etc. I’m not down on zombies. And I’ll be the first to admit that 99% of zombie stories are bleak and hopeless — but it’s one thing to watch a zombie movie for two hours and see everyone die horribly, another thing to see it for an hour each week, week after week, year after year. Seeing everybody slowly ground down to their worst possible moments is not fun.

In that first episode, when Rick rode his horse into Atlanta, that was such a great visual. He was dressed as a lawman, the last vestige of Law in a world where that word had lost its meaning. It set him up as the Hero, a figure who would try to maintain his decency and morality in this horrible apocalypse. But in the name of realism, that Hero has been dragged through the mud, done some truly awful things and (for me) lost his moral authority. In last night’s episode, we see him lecturing somebody about how they’ve lost their path and given up hope, when this is the same character who has repeatedly turned his back on people in need this season. Some will say that his speech signifies that he’s coming back to the light but earlier in this same season he was confronted about his madness and his insistence that he was speaking to non-existent people on the phone… and he “came through it.” He showered, cleaned up and seemed to be coming back to the light… only to go nutso again. In a season where we should be defining the differences between Rick and the Governor, we’re instead seeing all the ways they’re alike.

Call me old. Call me naive. But I want to see heroes. I don’t think we need a whole cast full of White Knights… but having one guy, who stands up for what’s right? I’d like that. Daryl is the closest thing we have to that, strangely — in the midst of the chaos, he’s learned to be the Hero and a Leader.Unfortunately, Daryl isn’t the main character — there are whole episodes where he’s not even shown or mentioned. He’s a secondary figure, though a very popular one — and I think one of the reasons he IS so popular is because of an unspoken need on the part of the audience to have somebody who isn’t a disappointment as a human being on this show.

Rick, our supposed main character, is neither a Hero nor a Leader and that’s a damned shame. He should be. He’s the lawman — the old west sheriff riding through the lawless “West,” with nobody but his moral compass and his pistol for backup.

Some say that he can’t stop and help these people he meets because it would be a roll of the dice… they might be bad people, who would try and hurt the people Rick is protecting. That seems like a cowardly way to live and a terrible lesson to impart to his son, who already seems a few eggs shy of a full carton. I like to think that if I were in that situation, I would not turn away from those in need — and I would hope that others would not turn away from me. Compare the way that Rick ignored the hitchhiker (twice) last night to the way that Daryl reacted to the people being attacked on the bridge earlier this season. Daryl helped and refused to steal their items. Rick turned a blind eye and then stole the dead man’s backpack.

Again, maybe that’s just me being naive.

Even in my own writing, there’s always hopes — Rabbit Heart is probably the darkest thing I’ve ever written but (spoilers!) the good guys win. Same with The Damned Thing.

Real life sucks hard enough. Good people sometimes die in horrible ways and sometimes it seems that good doesn’t prevail.

That’s why we have escapist entertainment, right? But The Walking Dead doesn’t qualify as escapist for me. It’s even more bleak and hopeless than the real world and damn, that’s saying something!

I’m not saying things shouldn’t suck sometimes… or that people shouldn’t die… or that our characters shouldn’t sometimes stumble and fall. But I do want to see the celebration of the human will — not simply to survive, but to rise above. I want to see at least one character standing at the gates of Hell and saying that he won’t become a victim of despair or fear.

I want a f’n HERO and The Walking Dead doesn’t want to give me one, it seems.

Which is why I think I might shamble on to something else.

I don’t need to see that much darkness on a continuing basis. I want to see the light.