Great Pulp Villains

The pulp heroes often faced villains who were memorably over the top. Though most of the villains only appeared once (mainly because they were either killed by the heroes or accidentally brought about their own demise), there were still a few that stuck in my memory. Here are some of my favorites:

  •  Fu Manchu – How can you top this Oriental mastermind? His brilliance was unmatched and I enjoyed the fact that he didn’t consider himself a villain at all.
  • John Sunlight – The man who exposed the secrets of Doc Savage’s Fortress of Solitude, Sunlight was just as formidable as the Man of Bronze. The only thing that would have made him better in my opinion was if he’d had an interesting supporting cast, mainly as a counterpoint to Doc’s Fabulous Five.
  • Doctor Satan – I first encountered this guy in Ron Fortier’s Hounds of Hell novel and have enjoyed him ever since. Dressed as the freakin’ devil, this guy has a memorable group of servants and is so over-the-top evil that he’s fun to root against.
  • Fantomas – The brilliantly evil Fantomas was as cool as they came, but sadistic and ruthless. For years, I’ve thought using some version of this character in one of my stories. Eventually, I’ll get around to it.

What about you guys? What pulp villains could you never get enough of?

BTW, the Doctor Satan image at left is by Anthony Castrillo and features the crimson-clad bad guy as he was depicted in my Rook series.

Table Talk Wednesday

I’m still basking in the pleasure of seeing my Avenger story in print but beyond that I’ve written about 10,000 words in the newest Lazarus Gray story, so all’s well in the land of Reese.

There’s a new Table Talk that’s been posted at the New Pulp site — it’s entitled Kill ‘Em All and deals with our attachments to our creations. As usual, it’s me, Bobby Nash and Mike Bullock shooting the breeze. Check it out and enjoy!

A Dream Come True

In my hands is the The Avenger: The Justice Inc. Files limited edition hardcover.

Such an amazing moment — The Avenger is my favorite pulp hero of all time and to see my name on the back cover… and have my story included… I can’t put it into words.

For one incredible moment I was Kenneth Robeson (the house name under which The Avenger novels were written) and I’ve never been more proud as a writer. My story, “The Devil’s Workmen,” begins on page 147. It was very daunting to write — I kept revising and revising — because I wanted to put everything I had into the tale. Major thanks to my editors, Joe Gentile and Howard Hopkins, for guiding me along in that process.

I hope to get my paperback copies soon — but until then, I’m going to lovingly flipping through the pages of this hardcover edition.

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.

A Partial Inspiration for Max & Evelyn Davies

When I first started writing The Rook, I knew that I wanted to have a romantic interest in the series that could eventually become a true partner for our hero. There were many inspirations for this, most notably The Thin Man and… The Mummy movies. I wanted to have a couple who could verbally spar with each other but who, at their core, loved each other passionately. Rachel Weisz was the actress I pictured when I wrote those early scenes with Evelyn — in fact, her name was taken from Rachel’s character in The Mummy: Evelyn Carnahan. I’m a big fan of the first two Mummy movies and I was thrilled to be able to capture a little of that chemistry in my own work.

Scoring Free Stuff? I wish.

So over on the Altus Press site, a few people have chimed in with their opinions on the recent “At What Price?” controversy. To recap, I reviewed the new Doc Savage book published by Altus Press. I loved the book.

I did say that charging $24.95 for a 250 page book felt like a ripoff to me.

I ended my review with these words: “Aside from that, however, this book is a treasure and I highly, highly recommend it to pulp fans far and wide. A worthy return of one of pulp’s greatest characters. ” I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars.

In response, the publisher of Altus Press tore me a new one and in a private email said that if I didn’t like his pricing, I should stop buying his books.

Imagine what would have happened if I’d disliked the book.

Well, folks are continuing to respond to the Altus Press’ blog on the events and a few days ago someone named Reggie Van Draught posted the following:

“Hello!

A few words in response if I may be so bold.

I believe that part of the problem is in the inherent nepotism within the new pulp movement community.

Compared to the cost shared amongst the new pulp author clique reading and reviewing each others books (i.e. gratis) the price for an average Altus collection must seem weighty indeed.

In all honesty to this relatively impartial observer it sometimes seems as if the whole “New Pulp” branding was created as a means for the purveyors to “score” more of the recent plethora of pulp material for themselves sans actually…you know…buying it.

Perhaps if Altus kept them supplied with an ongoing flow of complimentary copies of your fine publications the criticism would be less severe.

I find all Altus Press publications to be worth each and every penny.”

Okay… not sure what to say here. I have zero problem if Mr. Draught is fine with Altus and their pricing. I never told anyone — anyone! — not to buy their products. In fact, I’ve made it clear that I plan to keep buying the Doc books, even if I think they’re overpriced. I’m willing to pay that for Doc but not for most of the other stuff that Altus publishes. That’s my choice and Reggie has the right to make his own decisions, just as everyone does.

But I have a problem with the statement that “it sometimes seems as if the whole “New Pulp” branding was created as a means for the purveyors to “score” more of the recent plethora of pulp material for themselves sans actually…you know…buying it.” Where did that come from? I know in my case, I buy 99.9% of the things that I review for All Pulp. Some of them I check out from the library. Some of them I am sent in pdf format by the authors — I’ve received 3 of those in the past year. I certainly don’t troll for free books.

Given how much I spend on books, maybe I should.

New Pulp as a branding has ZERO to do with book reviews, however. It has everything to do with putting a recognizable tag on the books so  that fans of this material can use to find other books that they may enjoy. That’s why New Pulp is around. I was there for the ground-floor discussions about New Pulp and not once — NOT ONCE — did anybody say anything about “scoring free stuff” or about reviews in any way, shape or form.

Didn’t happen.

Could you argue about nepotism in New Pulp, in the sense that there’s a lot of bleed-over between publishers and writers? Yes, I think you could. But not in the way described above.

I’m looking forward to the new Doc Savage book. Desert Demons rocked.

But I still think it cost too much. 🙂

Weekly Sales Update

It’s a Monday so that means it’s time to check out what’s moving and shaking at Amazon.com. The five bestselling Barry Reese titles are:

1) The Avenger: Justice Inc. Files

2) How the West Was Weird, Volume Two

3) The Green Hornet Casefiles

4) Guan-Yin and the Horrors of Skull Island

5) Rabbit Heart

That’s an interesting list… Not a single Rook title in the top five, which is rare enough. Then add in that Guan-Yin, probably the worst-reviewed book I’ve ever written, is now at # 4… What’s the world coming to? Not surprised to see strong sales on The Avenger and The Green Hornet but it’s nice to see the How the West Was Weird hanging in there, week after week. Oh, and Rabbit Heart slashed its way back into the top five. Yay!

Don’t Forget…

Lazarus Gray Volume One is coming next month! Buy it… Or femme fatale Miya Shimada might come gunning for you.

Art by George Sellas.

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