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One of the greatest New Pulp characters is without a doubt The Rocketeer by Dave Stevens. Sadly, Dave left us way too early but his creations remain. This fan film is a delightful homage to The Rocketeer and makes me wish there was a full movie done in this style:
“In the roaring heart of the crucible, steel is made. In the raging flame of personal tragedy, men are sometimes forged into something more than human.”
My favorite pulp hero has always been The Avenger. The quality of the writing combined with the best pulp origin story I ever saw won me over from the very first story. When The Avenger: The Justice Inc. Files comes out from Moonstone, you’ll get to see me bring a longtime dream to fruition – I got to write The Avenger and his friends in a story called “The Devil’s Workmen.” I still can’t believe it actually happened and I can’t wait to hold the book in my hands.
The Avenger also served as the primary inspiration for my new character Lazarus Gray. I distilled the very best of The Avenger and gave it my own special twist. Lazarus teams up with The Rook in the sixth volume of The Rook Chronicles and then will star in at least two upcoming books from Pro Se Press.
The Rook is a new hero pulp created by Barry Reese. The Rook fights crime and evil in the 30s and 40s (and later). Barry mixes in pulp hero, comic book & comic strip characters, along with occult horror/weird menace, and does a good job. He also adds in a love interest who will marry him (pulp heroes never do that, which is different). The Rook goes up against traditional villians, pulp superfoes, and occult horrors, and has the assistance of characters based on pulp heroes and comic book/comic strip characters, some created by Reese (Leonid Kaslov, the ‘russian doc savage’), and other from the pulps (Doctor Satan and his opponent, Black Bat, etc).
The Rook is also a generational story, as Barry gives a timeline of the Rook universe, showing that the Rook’s son and daughter will later take up the mantle, as will another individual in the near future. It also helps those who want to know where the stories fit in this timeline.
This volume is a collection of short stories, all set in the 30s and 40s, and its also marks a move from his old publisher, Wild Cat Books, to the recently formed Pro Se Productions. The quality hasn’t slipped. In fact, one thing that frustated me with WCB was the problems with typsetting and proofreading, which seems absent in this volume.
Also included is the lastes “Rook Timeline”, that shows were all the stories in the “Rook Universe” fall that have been published so far (or soon will be), including the ones in this volume.
This collection has 3 stories: first is a very long one, then a very brief one, then a sort of medium length one.
The first story has The Rook go up against Sun Koh. Sun Koh is an actual, real, German ‘pulp’ hero, a sort of ‘nazi Doc Savage’. He has been recently revised in the US by Art Sippo, and Barry is used him with Art’s permission. Barry does come up with a way to explain how Sun Koh could exist in the world of the Rook that doesn’t upset things, as well as explain what happened to Sun Koh between the cancellation of his pulp series in 1938 and his appearance in this story set in 1942. Also introduced in this story are a trio of Axis female warriers. Another character who makes an apparance is Rush Randall. Many may not be aware of Rush, but he’s actually a very short-lived Doc clone. He only appeared in one story, written by Doc author William Bogart from a rejected Doc novel. Black Dog Books has reprinted this in their “The Adventures” collection. Maybe this will lead to Rush’s use by others. Also making an apperance is Ascott Keane, who battles Doctor Satan and has appeared before in Rook stories.
Next is a short story with the Rook dealing with a vengeful ghost.
The final story also serves as an introduction to Barry’s new character, Lazarus Gray. I think this is his first appearance. There are already 2 Lazarus Gray books planned (a short story collection and a novel), so hopefully they will appear soon.
Overall, this is a great book. If you like the Rook, you will like this one.
One of the things I like to do is head over to Amazon.com and see how my books are selling. It’s sometimes surprising to see how things are doing — a lot of times, the things that sell the best aren’t always the things I think are my best works (see previous blog posting). Anyway, the bestselling Barry Reese titles on Amazon.com are:
I sometimes get asked about what books of my own are my favorites. It’s always a tough question to answer since I have a love/hate relationship with everything I write. For every good thing I see in them, I can point out another forty things that I completely screwed up. But if I were forced to choose, there are certain books that I guess I’m happier with than others: RABBIT HEART, THE DAMNED THING, THE ROOK VOLUME FOUR, THE ROOK VOLUME SIX (out now!) and LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME ONE are all pretty examples of my skill (or lack thereof). On the flip side, if I had to name my least-favorite book I’ve done, that would be THE ROOK VOLUME FIVE. I wish I could say I’d been drinking when I wrote that one but honestly, there’s just no excuse. At least I bounced back with the sixth book in the series!
The image at left is from THE DAMNED THING, by the way, and was drawn by the talented Kevin Dale Duncan.
I’m currently hard at work on what Pro Se Productions will be calling a “Cinematic Pulp” story. Basically, this means that I’m writing a novella that will have a LOT of artwork included with it — not enough to make it a true Graphic Novel but enough to warrant a new category for the work. I believe that artist Pete Cooper (YESTERYEAR) is attached to the project. The story is entitled THE ROOK: THE KILLING GAMES and it’s been a blast to write so far. More details to come.
The sixth volume in the bestselling Rook Chronicles is now in stores!. Featuring a cover by Ed Mironiuk and interior illustrations by Anthony Castrillo. Also, my short story “The Devil’s Workmen” will appear in The Avenger: The Justice Inc. Files from Moonstone Books. This collection of new stories featuring classic pulp hero The Avenger is due out soon. My story “Summer of Death” will appear in The Green Hornet Casefiles.