Happenings in Barryland…

IMG_1329So I’ve taken a small break from working on Lazarus Gray Volume 12 – it’s not feeling quite right. It’s not bad but it’s not clicking 100%, either. I started up another novel that’s more of a pure horror book and though I’m only about a thousand words into it, I like it. As it progresses, I might share some information about the plot – but it will feature an entirely new cast of characters and won’t be tied into the Reese Unlimited universe at all. It’s set in the modern day, too, something I haven’t really done much since RABBIT HEART.

Saw IT: Chapter Two yesterday and enjoyed it though not as much as the first film. The way the story is structured in this one kind of removes much of the “danger” that the characters are placed in. I won’t go into details for spoiler purposes but as soon as you know that each character has a mission to go on, you know that the next hour is basically following the same formula for each of them.

I want to thank all of you that have stuck with me over the years – both as a man and as a writer, I’m sometimes kind of hard to love. I’ve made terrible mistakes and disappointed people. All I can say is that I’m writing to write a new chapter both as an author and a human being and I hope you’ll remain with me as we see how it all turns out.

 

The Secret Origin of the Claws of the Peregrine

claws_front_smallAfter I’d finished several stories in The Peregrine series, it occurred to me that I’d introduced quite a few supporting characters that were worthy of stories in their own right: Leonid Kaslov, Catalyst, Revenant, Rachel Winters, Frankenstein’s Monster, etc. I decided it would make perfect sense to throw some of those characters together and create a spinoff project from The Peregrine Chronicles. I decided to leave out Kaslov and focus on the other four heroes I just mentioned, allowing The Peregrine to serve as their funding agent. I wanted to do the pulp equivalent of the old Batman and the Outsiders series: Batman brought together heroes to serve as his private strike force, handling things he didn’t have the time to do.

This strike force would be known as The Claws of The Peregrine, or simply “The Claws.”

The Claws of the Peregrine were originally meant to be introduced in their own volume. The Peregrine would appear in a major fashion in the first story, then fade into the background, to be used as needed. The first story (“The Diabolical Mr. Dee”) was written and I think it turned out fairly well, though I was obviously still finding my footing with the series.

Then came “A Plague of Wicked Men.”

I forget who came up with the idea of teaming the various Wild Cat Books heroes into one story but I know that Don Lee, Wayne Skiver, the Carney brothers, Ron Hanna and I were all involved in the plotting of the story, which would pit the heroes against a grouping of evil villains. Ron and Wayne wanted to kick the story off by killing an established pulp hero and they chose to make Captain Hazzard the sacrifice. I was worried about how this would look, since Hazzard was very closely identified with the editor-in-chief of one of Wild Cat’s major rivals but I wasn’t really the mover and shaker in the plotting. A scene (by Wayne) was written in which Hazzard was killed and I know Don Lee wrote a scene where the villains first came together.

Then, as is common in these sorts of things, the writers began flaking out. One person had legal issues, another had concerns about the plot, etc. The project seemed dead.

Then I asked if I could take the plot and twist it into a Claws of The Peregrine plot, rewriting the scenes already completed and tweaking it all into something that I felt I could handle on my own. Everyone seemed fine with that and Wayne was gracious enough to allow me to keep his character Prof. Stone in the story. I threw in the Black Bat, Ascott Keane and Ki-Gor to make it even bigger. The story turned out fairly well, though it struggled a bit under its own weight. There were elements of the original plot that I was asked to keep that I would have preferred to jettison but I worked with what I had.

There were now two Claws tales…

And then the decision was made to scuttle the Claws spinoff. Sales on the most recent volume of The Peregrine had been weaker than expected and it was decided to not dilute the brand at this point.

So what to do? I didn’t want to just shelve those stories but at the same time I was feeling burned out on The Peregrine and didn’t really feel like doing a solo Peregrine collection, either.

It was decided to take the two Claws stories and put them into The Peregrine Volume Five. A couple more Claws/Peregrine stories were added to flesh out the volume and voila, we had a book.

But it wasn’t a very good book, in my opinion. It suffered from the fact that you had a book entitled The Peregrine that spent a lot of time with The Peregrine not in it — I was fleshing out characters for their own series, remember, so I had deliberately tried to push The Peregrine into the background of those stories.

It was published, people seemed to regard it as weaker than its predecessors but still good.

Here’s where all the individual members of the team first appeared:

  • Catalyst (Nathaniel Caine) first appeared in “Catalyst.” The story is set in 1942. A predecessor named Andre Theirry also used the Catalyst identity in a series of adventures alongside Lazarus Gray in the 1937-1938 period of time.
  • Esper (Rachel Winters, later Rachel Caine) also first appeared in “Catalyst”. As stated before, the story is set in ’42.
  • Revenant (Sally Pence) first appeared in “Death From the Jungle”. The story is set in 1943.
  • Vincent (aka Frankenstein’s Monster) first appeared in “Satan’s Trial”. This story occurs in late 1943, after “Death From the Jungle.”

The group comes together as The Claws of the Peregrine in 1944, operating out of a two-story house on Peachtree Street nicknamed The Aerie. The group’s meeting room was in the finished basement and there was an extensive library and armory on the second floor. The team first appeared together in “The Diabolical Mr. Dee” before teaming up with several other pulp heroes in “A Plague of Wicked Men.” Both of those adventures were set in ’44. In 1946, they took part in the missions dubbed “The Devil’s Spear” and “The Ivory Machine.” During the latter story, their ranks swelled with the additions of The Black Terror and his partner Tim, Miss Masque, and The Flame. All of those stories are now available in The Peregrine Omnibus Volume Two.

Nothing is known about the majority of the members past ’46, though in one possible future (“The Four Peregrines”), we see that Catalyst is still alive into the 21st Century, having outlived his wife. Given that everything shown in the series post 2006 is just a potential future, it’s not carved in stone that this is anyone’s ultimate fate, however.

We also know that The Black Terror is still alive in 1964 as he plays a role in ASSISTANCE UNLIMITED: THE SILVER AGE.

I sometimes miss these characters but I’m uncertain if anybody would really want to see them revived. If I do, I’m not certain that the public domain heroes like The Black Terror and Miss Masque will remain with the group — I’d suspect that they’ll become secondary members, who might pop up if needed. I’d probably keep the focus on the main four (plus The Peregrine).

What do you guys say? Anybody want to see these heroes return?

Arrival!

Rom-Spaceknight-Marvel-Comics-d-287x350That one word title (complete with exclamation point) was our introduction into the world of Rom Spaceknight. Issue # 1 was published with a cover date of December 1979 and the series, written by Bill Mantlo and initially pencilled by Sal Buscema, took a failed Hasbro action figure and transformed it into one of the most beloved Marvel Comic series of the Eighties.

Rom protected Earth for 75 issues and four annuals before finally heading off to enjoy retirement with his lady love. In the year 2000, Jim Starlin and Chris Batista revived many of the concepts in a Spaceknights miniseries but because of licensing issues, Rom himself was not named as such in the comics.

Rom returned to comic book life with a rebooted backstory in 2016’s Rom series from IDW. This book was actually pretty good but many fans missed the old Marvel connections. Rom01_cvrRI-A.jpg

I’ve always enjoyed Rom and thought he deserved closer inspection… which is why I’m proud to announce that my newest project is ROM SPACEPOD, a podcast dedicated to discussing every comic book appearance of our beloved Spaceknight. We’ll start with issue one of the Marvel series before covering all the rest of his  classic stories and when that’s over, we’ll move on to the Spaceknights miniseries and then we’ll check out IDW’s revival… and hopefully there will be plenty of material from to keep us going from there.

We’ll have guests on the show but much of the time it’ll just be me and (hopefully) you. Look for the first episode to drop soon – master graphic designer Sean Ali is currently cooking up a logo for the show!

A Year of Change

onceIt’s amazing to think we’re already in September. This year, with all its change, has been going by so fast. When the year began I was married… living with my wife, son and mother-in-law… now I’m closing in on six months of being on my own in a new place. On top of all that, I’ve sold pretty much every character I’ve ever created to Pro Se Productions.  It’s scary how quickly things can change.

So what’s been going on? Let’s see:

I’ve been spending most of my television time lately binging Brooklyn Nine-Nine (love this show!) and Veronica Mars, neither of which I had ever watched before.

Went to Dragon*Con in Atlanta for Labor Day weekend. Saturday was an absolute horror show. Crowds were awful, with a two-hour wait to get into the vendors area and us failing to get into practically every panel we wanted to see. Sunday was much better, though my bank account might disagree!

Haven’t written much this week. I don’t know if it’s just the writing doldrums or some side effect of having sold the characters but not even writing Lazarus Gray has appealed to me. Hopefully I’ll break out of it soon.

My son turns thirteen this coming weekend – again, time flies!

Looking forward to the new installment of IT this weekend. So far my favorite films of the year have been Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, Spider-Man: Far From Home and Ready or Not.

I have a new podcast that I’ll be working on that I’ll reveal soon – I hope you’ll give it a listen when it’s ready for its public debut!

What have *you* been doing?