Dillon (Icons Writeup)

Dillon
(created by Derrick Ferguson)dillon-2-2

Prowess 7
Coordination 7
Strength 6
Intellect 6
Awareness 6
Willpower 7

Stamina 13

Powers
*Regeneration 2
*Resistance (poisons) 3
*Immortality 1 (Limit: Slowed Aging only)
*Guns 4
*Knives 3
*Gadgets 3

Specialties
Athletics (Master +3 bonus), Drive (Expert +2 bonus), Investigation (Expert +2 bonus), Leadership (Expert +2 bonus), Linguistics (Master +3 bonus), Martial Arts (Master +3 bonus), Medicine (+1 bonus), Mental Resistance (Expert +2 bonus), Pilot (Expert +2 bonus), Science (+1 bonus), Stealth (Expert +2 bonus), Technology (+1 bonus), Underwater Combat (+1 bonus), Weapons (Master +3 bonus), Wrestling (Expert +2 bonus)

Qualities
Complete faith in his own abilities
A man needs a vacation every now and then
Loyal to his friends

Background

For more on Dillon and all of his adventures, check out the official Dillon website.

Dillon first came to the attention of the world at large fifteen years ago.  That’s when he emerged seemingly out of nowhere, formally began hiring himself out as a soldier of fortune. He distinguished himself by displaying many of the remarkable talents and gifts that would soon make him a highly respected and feared figure in that secret world of mercenaries, spies, adventurers and extraordinary men and women that most of us are unaware even exists.  He has been identified as having a variety of aliases and disguises that he uses on occasions.  But ‘Dillon’ appears to be his actual, true name.  If it is his first or last is not known as it is the only one he’ll give you when you ask.

Despite the horrors he experienced as a boy, Dillon has grown into a man with a healthy taste for wild excitement and adventure, fueled by his curiosity and an overpowering desire to see that others do not suffer as he has suffered.  Due to his rigorous and unconventional training he is remarkably disciplined even though he gives the impression that he is anything but.  He has an eccentric, wicked sense of humor that he enjoys exercising on his enemies.

Dillon exhibits a wide narcissistic streak and it has been pointed out to him on more than one occasion that he has way too much confidence in his own abilities. In a lot of ways it can be said that Dillon is an adolescent who has never really grown up  And that probably accounts for his quirks of personality.  But there is no doubt that he has a high degree of belief in his abilities and what he can achieve with those abilities.  Maybe too much belief as he frequently gets himself into hopelessly perilous situations just to see if he can get out of it.

But it cannot be denied that at heart he is a fiercely courageous man with a tremendous sense of loyalty to his friends and a desire to see that the innocent are not abused or harmed.  Although it’s true he hires his body out for pay he just as frequently assists the disadvantaged and oppressed without seeking recompense.

Dillon’s method of payment isn’t limited to currency.  Many times he will assist someone and instead of money will secure their promise to render assistance to Dillon anytime he calls upon them. Or exchange classified and/or secret information.  He’s also been known to accept a ‘silent partnership’ if the person asking for his help owns a profitable business.

Dillon is quite wealthy and enjoys a lavish lifestyle.  When he left Shamballah he was given a bag of precious stones that he converted into currency while traveling through Tibet and Africa and used to open up accounts in different cities around the world.  In his initial adventures if he had the opportunity to acquire the funds of his enemies, he did so without a qualm.

While he spends most of his time traveling he does own various safe houses in locations spread across the United States and Europe and he appears to have two permanent residences.  One is a modernistic mansion located in the Pennsylvania town of Grand.  The other residence is a mansion located on top of a mesa in Colorado.

His age may be unknown but at least one person he is aware of has knowledge of where he was born.  The adventurer Brighteyes Dillinger when confronting Dillon during the events of DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL stated that he knew Dillon was born on Usimi Dero.  From the little revealed about it so far, Usimi Dero was a technological island paradise destroyed by Thahali, She Who Wears The Dress Of Seven Sufferings when Dillon was 12 years old.  Apparently his father died there while Dillon and his mother escaped.  They spent an unspecified amount of time being chased by agents of Thahali who pursued them to Shamballah, hidden in the Himalayas.  Dillon’s mother died to ensure Dillon reached Shamballah safely where he was adopted by The Warmasters of Liguria, who had also trained his mother.

Dillon spent the next seven years being trained by The Warmasters in various martial arts as well as exceptional physical and mental disciplines that forged his body into a living weapon.  After those seven years, Dillon elected to leave Shamballah and return to the world.  He was warned by The Warmasters that he might never find his way back.  His mother was the first person in nearly five hundred years to find Shamballah twice, a feat considered to be miraculous.

Once back in the world, Dillon wandered, learning various skills that he thought would help him in his chosen profession. He also sought out notable adventurers in retirement for the purpose of them training him in their various specialties.  His intention being to earn his living as a professional adventurer while seeking out the trail of those who destroyed Usimi Dero.  It was during this period that Dillon met the man who eventually became his best friend, Elias Patrick Creed who himself had a long career as a professional adventurer.  Eli Creed took a liking to the young man and took him under his wing.  Eli taught Dillon how to fly aircraft and the two men partnered up and worked as a team for a number of years before Eli went into semi-retirement and Dillon went out on his own. A semi-retirement that apparently didn’t take because Eli drops what he’s doing whenever Dillon calls him for help. But due to recent events as related in “Dillon and The Devil’s Mercy” Eli is giving serious thought to grooming his son Idell to take his place as Dillon’s partner.

Dillon’s range of talents and skills are protean in variety.  He speaks eight languages fluently: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Swahili, Portuguese and Arabic and can get by in half a dozen others.  His physical skills border on the superhuman as he has displayed exceptional athleticism in feats of agility, speed and strength.  He’s capable of bench pressing 1000 pounds and can run a mile in just over minute.  His physical abilities are due in large part to his training in Shamballah.  But unknown even to Dillon himself,  his father injected his mother with various formulas of his own concoction while Dillon was still in the womb.

The experimental formulas gifted Dillon with a metabolism that does not build up fatigue poisons in his system as quickly as an average human giving Dillon far greater endurance. His cognitive and physical abilities also appear to have been enhanced, gifting him with increased energy, a vastly higher tolerance for pain and less need for sleep.  His senses and reflexes are significantly above average and while he is no scientist he has demonstrated an aptitude for various and diverse scientific disciplines such as biology which he studied under Nobel Prize winner Dr. Harold Wolper at the University of California and archaeology with Professor Sydney Fox at Trinity College.

Quite naturally he is expert with an amazing range of modern and ancient weapons, including but not limited to handguns, automatic weapons and bladed weapons.

One of his most interesting quirks is his ‘vacations.’  When Dillon wants to go on vacation he takes a regular job like an everyday citizen.  He’s taken jobs as a dishwasher, a roofer, a short-order cook, a car salesman and a high school custodian among many others.

Spending Time in Sovereign

aidra_fox2Spent much of the past week in Sovereign City, revising and adding to the twelfth volume of Lazarus Gray. I know that some of you have gotten mighty impatient waiting for these books to be released (the seventh book was released three years ago) but I think they will be on the way relatively soon. Until then you do have Broken Empire to tide you over – it’s an Assistance Unlimited book set in 1964.

Once all twelve of the Lazarus books are out, I think I’ll be able to sit back and feel pretty proud of them. While it may not get too much (read: any) attention from the Pulp Factory Awards and it’s not considered as groundbreaking as Derrick Ferguson’s rightfully-beloved Dillon series, I think there’s a place for Lazarus and his friends in the New Pulp landscape. Besides, not many series in the New Pulp landscape reach 12 books (plus spinoffs!).

Whenever I’m feeling down, I always end up starting a new Lazarus story – so it’s unlikely that I’ll stop at 12 books. I was worried that selling the property (along with the rest of the Reese Unlimited catalog) might result in less enthusiasm but whatever doubts I had were lifted when I wrote the Lilith novel, which was the most fun I’d had writing in a couple of years. When I returned to the twelfth Lazarus book, I found that I was able to add about 3,000 words to it and really thought they were good ones.

Our Icons writeups continue to get major traffic for the site, which is an unexpected pleasure. Hopefully some of our visitors will check out my writing, as well! I’ve had a few requests to do stats for Lazarus, Gravedigger, etc. and I’m sure I’ll get around to that eventually.

Guest Blog: Three examples of New Pulp

Today I’m honored to turn the reins over to Derrick Ferguson, one of my oldest friends in this crazy field that we call “New Pulp.” I’ve known Derrick for well over a decade and not only is he a terrific human being, he’s also a wonderful writer who has created such amazing characters as Dillon and Fortune McCall. If you’re not familiar with his work, stop reading this right now and go seek it out. Then come back.

I’ll be waiting.

Continue reading → Guest Blog: Three examples of New Pulp

New Pulp Characters That I’d Like To Borrow

I’ve done a number of team-ups and crossovers but there are still a few that I’d like to get my grubby little hands on.

Brother Bones – I think having Lazarus Gray visit the undead avenger would be a lot of fun. At first, I thought about The Rook & Bones… but for some reason, I think a Lazarus team-up with be more fun. Brother Bones was created by Ron Fortier. EDITED: This one will actually be happening, as Brother Bones will guest-star in The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Five!

Dillon – People have been asking for a Dillon/The Rook team-up for years. Given the longevity of The Rook’s career, I think it would be easy to pull off. Dillon was created by Derrick Ferguson.

Sgt. Janus – I’d want to pair Gravedigger with this character… and for those of you who haven’t read the Gravedigger debut novel yet, you’re probably wondering why I think they’d be perfect together. But trust me… if you have read it, you’ll all be going “Oh my, yes, that would be perfect!” Janus was created by Jim Beard.

Elisa Hill – This modern day Myth Hunter would be fun to pair up with Fiona Chapman (from my Rabbit Heart novel). While Elisa’s adventures aren’t the gore & sex-fests that Fiona’s are, both are kick-ass young women with a penchant for getting into occult adventures. Having Elisa uncover the existence of the Furious Host would be quite interesting, I think. Elisa was created by Percival Constantine.

There are certainly other characters out there that I’d enjoy writing (and two of them, Fortune McCall and Doc Daye, I should get to, eventually) but those four are the ones that I can see crossing over my characters with most easily. What do you guys think?

Guest Blog: Three Examples of New Pulp

Today I’m honored to turn the reins over to Derrick Ferguson, one of my oldest friends in this crazy field that we call “New Pulp.” I’ve known Derrick for well over a decade and not only is he a terrific human being, he’s also a wonderful writer who has created such amazing characters as Dillon and Fortune McCall. If you’re not familiar with his work, stop reading this right now and go seek it out. Then come back.

I’ll be waiting.

——————————————————–

I’m gonna tell you the main problem us New Pulp writers have when we’re trying to explain New Pulp to folks who have no idea what Pulp is. Much less New Pulp. See, we go on and on with our explanations of Pulp and what it means to us as writers and what it is as a genre…

…and then we’ll get the Classic Pulp crowd chiming in with; “Pulp isn’t a genre! It’s the paper the original magazines were printed on!”

Well, you Classic Pulp guys just hold on. I’ll get to you another time. Believe me. But right now I’ve got more interesting fish to sauté.

Anyway, we try to explain to The Average Reader Who Is Just Looking For Something Good To Read what New Pulp is. And they will listen most earnestly and patiently and attentively and they will then say; “Okay, I get what you’re saying…but why and how is New Pulp different from just plain ol’ Action Adventure? Or Horror? Or Science Fiction? Why can’t you guys just label what you do as that and get it over with?”

And The Average Reader Who Is Just Looking For Something Good To Read does have a valid point. And before you start with that tired old felgercarb about how you don’t like labels and you don’t see why anything has to be labeled…

…tell you what we’re gonna do. We’re going to take all the labels off the canned foods in your local supermarket and let you guess what’s inside those cans the next time you go shopping. Because much as you would like to think otherwise, labelling does have its place. And one reason why it’s so hard to label New Pulp is because over the years there have been so many TV shows, comic books and movies that have adopted the tropes of Classic Pulp that it’s become so ingrained in Pop Culture that most folks don’t even realize they’re watching Pulp. Still don’t believe me? Sit back while I hit you with three examples of New Pulp you watched and enjoyed and didn’t even know was New Pulp.

2424 (2001-2010): For 8 Seasons we watched Counter Terrorist Unit Special Agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) defend Our Country against supervillains, terrorist attacks and shadow government conspiracies. Each Season followed Jack Bauer on a Really Bad Day, each episode taking place in Real Time over the course of one hour. Before each commercial break, a clock would appear on screen to show us how much time had passed and each episode would end with Jack Bauer or another member of the cast in dire peril. You had to come back next week to find out how Jack or whoever got out of whatever death trap they had gotten into.

24 is one of the primary examples of New Pulp I love to hold up as it’s the Ultimate Saturday Morning Serial. A Serial was extended movies broken up into chapter plays that enjoyed their major popularity in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The chapters were shown in movie theaters in 10 or 15 minutes segments before the main double feature. They ended with a Cliffhanger in which the hero or another member of the cast found themselves in dire peril. Sound familiar? 24 quite successfully adapted the Saturday Morning Serial in an innovative way. Sure, the episodes were now an hour long instead of 15 minutes but thanks to terrific writing and acting, they kept us on the end of our seats. And as a character, Jack Bauer has a whole lot in common with both Jimmy Christopher aka Operator #5 and The Spider.

HUDSON HAWKHudson Hawk: Is the most blatantly Pulp of my three examples and maybe that’s why it was the least successful. I dunno. All I know is that the very first time I saw it in the theater, I knew what director Michael Lehmann and screenplay writers Steven E. de Souza and Daniel Waters (based on a story by Bruce Willis and Robert Kraft) were going for. Eddie Hawkins is a master thief known professionally as Hudson Hawk. Upon being released from prison he attempts to go straight but is blackmailed by the CIA, The Mafia, the psychotic Mayflower twins ( Richard E. Grant, Sandra Bernhard) and even his own partner-in-crime Tommy Five-Tone (Danny Aiello) into a complicated series of heists to steal the components of the La Machinnia dell’Oro, the greatest invention of Leonardo da Vinci, a machine that can convert lead into gold. The scene where Bruce Willis and Danny Aiello pull off a heist that is perfectly timed to their singing “Swinging On A Star” is one of my favorites in the movie.

walkingThe Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004): Wes Anderson is not a director that anybody by any stretch of the imagination would associate with Pulp New or Classic. But I’ve watched The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou three times now and the more I see it, the more I’m convinced it’s a New Pulp Adventure. Bill Murray plays Steve Zissou, an oceanographer/adventurer who sees his best friend and partner eater by a Jaguar Shark, a species of shark that had been previously considered to be mythical. Steve Zissou vows to hunt down and destroy the shark.

Aboard his massive research vessel/home, The Belafonte, Zissou and his eccentric crew, which includes a Brazilian musician who sings David Bowie songs in Portuguese, Anne-Marie Sakowitz who insists on walking around topless and a bunch of college interns from the University of North Alaska he sets out on what may be his last and greatest adventure. The adventure is flavored by Steve having to deal with Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson) who just may be his illegitimate son and the tagalong reporter Jane-Winslette Richardson (Cate Blanchett) who is attracted to both Steve and Ned.

It’s a movie that I consider New Pulp because of Steve Zissou, an aging adventurer who is trying to hold onto his life of adventure even though everybody and everything is telling him he has to conform to the modern world. But Steve believes in a different world. Halfway through the movie it turns into an almost straight out action adventure where Steve and his crew have to dig back into the day when they were badasses in order to track down and take out a band of pirates that have attacked The Belafonte and taken some of the interns hostages.

Steve Zissou’s crew are just as talented, skilled and eccentric as Doc Savage’s Iron Crew or Buckaroo Banzai’s Hong Kong Cavaliers. And if you have any more doubts about the intention of this movie, check out the end credit scene where Steve Zissou and his crew march to their boat. Wes Anderson himself has said that is a deliberate homage to the Banzai Strut done during the closing credits of “Buckaroo Banzai”

The thing all these movies (and TV show) have in common is that there are various elements of Classic Pulp that the creators adapted successfully for modern audiences. Matter of fact, they did them so well that modern audiences have no idea that they’re watching Pulp.

And don’t get me started on how Scandal is a modern day version of The Avenger and Justice, Inc…we’ll leave that for next time…

 

New Pulp Recommendation: Dillon and the Pirates of Xonira

dillon-piratesEvery so often I take a look at a New Pulp release that I feel is deserving of your attention. Sometimes these are new releases, sometimes they’re a few years old. Sometimes they might even challenge your definition of ‘pulp.’ This time around, I’m turning my critical eye towards Dillon and the Pirates of Xonira by Derrick Ferguson. Here’s how the publisher described the book:

Once upon a time in the far away island nation of Xonira, Dillon was instrumental in halting a bloody revolution and handing the reins of power over to Lord Chancellor C’jai. Now, a mysterious group of international businessmen contact Dillon with evidence that Dillon’s old friend, the Lord Chancellor C’jai, is engaging in high seas piracy in the oceans surrounding Xonira. In order to discover the truth behind the matter, Dillon decides to fight fire with fire and assembles a motley crew of rogues and cutthroats aboard the diesel-powered submarine, Morgan Adams, and sails for Xonira. In Xonira, it seems, beautiful women, traitors, and tyrants are in no short supply, and Dillon’s less than triumphant return is is marked by a cascade of bullets, bombs, and blood!

This is the fourth book in the Dillon series and I’m very pleased to say that I’ve read and enjoyed every one of them. Authored by Derrick Ferguson, Dillon is easily one of the ‘stars’ of the New Pulp Movement and is frequently mentioned whenever any group of fans start talking about their favorites — and with good reason. The character of Dillon is kind of a modern-day Doc Savage, though without some of the cheesier trappings that Doc accumulated. In fact, you can see lots of influences on the series but in no case does it ever become pastiche — there are elements of this series that remind me of Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt books, for instance.

There’s such an ease to reading this book and its predecessors — you can tell that the author is 100% in control of the story and that the characters are so familiar to him that they have a genuine life of their own. Dillon is so fully drawn that I or any reader can feel comfortable guessing how he would react to a situation — it’s very much like you ‘know’ the person you’re reading about. The amazing thing is that Derrick accomplished this even in the very first book in the series!

This particular novel focuses on the island of Xonira and there are enough twists and turns along the way to please any action/adventure fan. I really like the opening scene with Professor Sunjoy and the femme fatale who seduces her way into Dillon’s life has a lot of personality. The interplay between her and Dillon is sexy and provocative but it never devolves into the more porn-like aspects of, say, The Destroyer series.

Derrick is great at detailing action and this book has plenty of that — there are scenes that take place in a wide variety of settings and Derrick takes advantage of the natural environment to add some fun elements to each fight sequence.

Can you start with this book? I think you can — you’ll get added enjoyment out of it if you already the characters but Derrick does a fine job of introducing (or reintroducing) each of them. My personal all-time favorite Dillon story is “Dillon and the Bad-Ass Belt Buckle,” which can be found in Four Bullets for Dillon. I’ve given the Belt Buckle story to friends who want to quickly decide if they want “in” on the series but are hesitant to try a novel.

A word about the cover, which is by the talented Sean Ali. There have been a wide variety to the covers in this series… All have been good but it’s made it a little hard to find a definitive look to Dillon as a result. Lately, Sean Ali has been doing a number of promo pieces for the character and he’s keeping the same look that we see on this cover. I think that’s a good thing — while I love seeing different artistic interpretations for my own characters and for others’, I think it’s also good to have a solid “look” for the main hero. I’d like to see the previous books re-released at some point with a similar trade dress and cover scheme. Maybe that’s just me, though!

Highly recommended — if you haven’t picked up Dillon yet, you’ve truly been missing out.

From the Vault: New Pulp Characters That I’d Like To… Borrow

I’ve done a number of team-ups and crossovers but there are still a few that I’d like to get my grubby little hands on.

Brother Bones – I think having Lazarus Gray visit the undead avenger would be a lot of fun. At first, I thought about The Rook & Bones… but for some reason, I think a Lazarus team-up with be more fun. Brother Bones was created by Ron Fortier. EDITED: This one will actually be happening, as Brother Bones will guest-star in The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Five!

Dillon – People have been asking for a Dillon/The Rook team-up for years. Given the longevity of The Rook’s career, I think it would be easy to pull off. Dillon was created by Derrick Ferguson.

Sgt. Janus – I’d want to pair Gravedigger with this character… and for those of you who haven’t read the Gravedigger debut novel yet, you’re probably wondering why I think they’d be perfect together. But trust me… if you have read it, you’ll all be going “Oh my, yes, that would be perfect!” Janus was created by Jim Beard.

Elisa Hill – This modern day Myth Hunter would be fun to pair up with Fiona Chapman (from my Rabbit Heart novel). While Elisa’s adventures aren’t the gore & sex-fests that Fiona’s are, both are kick-ass young women with a penchant for getting into occult adventures. Having Elisa uncover the existence of the Furious Host would be quite interesting, I think. Elisa was created by Percival Constantine.

There are certainly other characters out there that I’d enjoy writing (and two of them, Fortune McCall and Doc Daye, I should get to, eventually) but those four are the ones that I can see crossing over my characters with most easily. What do you guys think?

My Favorite New Pulp Heroes

Dillon---CthuluThe past couple of weeks I’ve listed out my favorite classic pulp heroes and villains. This time around I decided to dive into the New Pulp waters. Basically, I’m defining New Pulp as characters who are written in the same breathless manner as the classic heroes… but who are appearing in brand new stories and have been created since the end of the classic pulp era. I’m putting emphasis on characters who have made their debut in prose (so no Indiana Jones, I’m afraid) and, furthermore, those characters who are mostly a part of what’s called the New Pulp Movement.

A lot of rules, eh?

That’s just the way we play the game, my friends.

So here’s my Top Ten Favorite New Pulp Heroes:

10. Brother Bones (created by Ron Fortier)
9. Garvey Dire (Created by Joel Jenkins)
8. Fortune McCall (Created by Derrick Ferguson)
7. The Pulptress (Created by Tommy Hancock)
6. Hardluck Hannigan (Created by Bill Craig)
5. Malcolm Weir (Created by Mat Nastos)
4. Mr. Brass (Created by Josh Reynolds)
3. The Black Centipede (Created by Chuck Miller)
2. Elisa Hill (Created by Percival Constantine)
1. Dillon (Created by Derrick Ferguson)

This was actually a really hard list to come up with — I left off lots of heroes that I genuinely love but I had to limit it to just ten. If I did a # 11, it would be Hugh Monn (Created by Lee Houston Jr.).

I’ve actually gone back and modified this list several times already. Oh, well. I think it does give you a nice overview of the best of New Pulp, in my opinion. I should give a special shout-out to Derrick Ferguson, who’s the only author to place two characters on my list!

Riffing On the Classics

dillon-piratesOccasionally, I’ll see fans of classic pulp dismiss New Pulp as being nothing more than a bunch of pastiches (or, less kindly, “rip-offs”) of the original heroes. “Oh, all they’re doing is changing the names — Doc this-or-that. How come they can’t do anything NEW?”

Well, pardon my French, but if that’s what you think of New Pulp, then you’re a freakin’ idiot.

Are there are pastiches out there? Of course! Many people grew up wanting to write Doc Savage, The Shadow, Tarzan, etc. Those heroes made them pulp fans to begin with — and, with the exception of Doc Savage and a few of the heroes who have fallen into public domain, most of the classic heroes are not getting new prose stories right now. So if you want to see new adventures of, say, The Shadow, in prose… then you’ve got to create your own version. Some people adhere to the original template more than others. I don’t begrudge anyone for doing a pastiche — I’ve done more than a few myself. If I have a kick-ass Doc Savage story and I know I’ll never get the chance to write that character for real, why not make a few changes and go from there? Hell, Brendan Fraser’s character in The Mummy is only a few degrees from being Indiana Jones — but both sets of movies are great in their own right.

Sometimes a pastiche can be mighty fine reading.

And if you don’t care for pastiches, don’t read them. There’s plenty of NEW, ORIGINAL concepts in New Pulp.

How about The Black Centipede? You can’t possibly tell me that there was anything like that character in the original days of pulp. It’s a heady brew of PJ Farmer and HP Lovecraft, along with a dash of pure inventiveness.

Derrick Ferguson’s Dillon may have its feet planted in classic pulp roots but it’s also so different and unique from those that it’s light years away from being a pastiche.

To me, it’s like saying “I don’t read comics anymore because when you get down to it, all superheroes are variations of Superman, Batman or Spider-Man.” Well, most of them sure — they’re archetypes for a reason, moron. Those characters are primal and speak to us on a basic human level — that’s why people go back to them. Also, it’s writer shorthand… if you see a Superman analogue, you automatically have a set of expectations that I either want to reinforce or turn on their head. But you need to READ it to find out which. I get the feeling that a lot of these guys don’t do that. They see “Doc Daye” and go “Oh, another Doc Savage clone. How boring.” They never bother to read the actual stories and see that, name aside, he doesn’t have much to do with Doc Savage.

Look, if you’re one of those who refuse to try New Pulp because “I haven’t finished collecting all these stories from 100 years ago!” then I can’t help you. You’ve chosen your fandom and you’re just plain going to miss out on new stories that you’d probably enjoy.

But if you’re going to call New Pulp as a whole derivative and a rip-off, then you look like a fool. Are there derivative and rip-off concepts out there? Sure. But I would say that number gets less and less every year.

Why people who should be embracing the things we all love and share try to put up barriers between each other is beyond me. Celebrate what you love! If you really dig urban avengers, try some of the new guys… if you think nobody could possibly ever top Walter Gibson, stick to the classics. But if you’re not going to read Lazarus Gray, don’t call it a rip-off of The Avenger. Because all you’re doing is showing your own ignorance.

Our accompanying artwork today is from Dillon and the Pirates of Xonira, one of those rip-off books that some folks are too snooty to have read.

New Pulp Recommendation of the Week: Hardluck Hannigan Omnibus by Bill Craig

hannigan_omnibusEvery Friday I focus on a New Pulp work that I think merits your attention. Sometimes it will be something that’s brand new, other times I’ll look at something that’s a few years old. This week, I’m encouraging you to check out The Hardluck Hannigan Omnibus Volume 1 by Bill Craig. Before we get too deep into our analysis of this book, let’s see how the publisher describes it:

For the first time Hardluck Hannigan’s first two adventures in one huge volume! Join Hannigan as he heads to the Dark Continent and into the Dark Heart of the Congo during the search for the legendary Emerald of Eternity, and then he takes on Nazi flying saucers and The infamous Kondor Legion in The Sky Masters!

As mentioned above, this book collects the first two Hardluck Hannigan novels (Emerald Death — which, strangely, is never given a title in the omnibus — and The Sky Masters). The Hannigan series has spanned seven novels so far and the second omnibus has already been released, collecting the next two in the series. The author, Bill Craig, is one of the more prolific men in the New Pulp field but for some reason, he’s skated along under the radar for a lot of people. I have a few suspicions about why this is – the biggest one being that most of his books are self-published. Now, there are others in the New Pulp field who handle their own publishing and have flourished (look at Wayne Reinagel and Van Plexico) but I think both of those guys have done a little better job when it comes to marketing. Van, especially, rarely has an ‘off’ switch — I’ve seen him turn every conversation conceivable into an opportunity to push one of his novels or a book by another author that he’s published. Nothing wrong with that — in fact, if you’re the guy who’s handling your own publishing and marketing, it can be incredibly useful. Because of this, Van seems to be doing quite well for himself and I’ve personally witnessed him selling large numbers of books at cons. Craig, though, is more of a laid back marketer. He has websites and facebook pages but I just don’t get a strong idea of his ‘presence’ very often. I can understand why he doesn’t want Pro Se or Airship 27 publishing his books but I think doing so might give him more clout — which he very much deserves.

Because this stuff really is good.

I think that nobody in New Pulp today captures the frenetic atmosphere of Lester Dent better than Bill Craig. This stuff is unabashedly PULP. Want a badass man’s man as the leading character? Check. Want Nazi zeppelins? Check. Interested in Hitler’s obsession with the occult? It’s here. Want incredible action scenes where our hero is fighting on the wing of an aircraft or battling undead armies in the Congo? All here.

The pacing is brisk and the characters are easily definable. I mean both of those in a good way — within a paragraph or two, you feel like you know these archetypal characters and you can move forward with the exciting plot. There are winks and nods to classic pulp throughout — one of the characters in this volume receiving the same “clouding men’s minds” training given to a pilot named Kent Allard, for instance.

And this is a shared universe, of sorts, as other characters from Craig’s creations are name-dropped and certain elements introduced here are then further explored in his other series. Having said that, Hannigan stands alone so that you don’t have to seek those out if you don’t want.

Is the series perfect? No. The romance introduced in this book develops at a breathtaking speed — it’s fun but it feels too quick. And I was hoping that the editing would have been tightened up for these omnibus editions but there are still paragraphs formatted differently than the ones surrounding it, typos and so forth. This does feel self-published, down to the fairly generic stock cover image on the front.

But I’d still recommend this without a single hesitation — it’s FUN. It’s EXCITING. Sometimes, the sheer enthusiasm of the author makes up for any technical flaws that may exist in the work and this is one of those times. I hear people deservedly praising certain New Pulp characters as being the symbols of the field (Derrick Ferguson’s excellent Dillon series come to mind) but Hardluck Hannigan deserves to be in that category as well. I had bought several of these novels in single form but I’m buying them again in omnibus editions because I’m excited to re-read them and easily catch the ones that I’ve missed.

If you haven’t read Bill Craig’s work, then you’re missing out on some of the most fun and entertaining New Pulp on the market. It’s not revolutionary… but that’s not his intent. He’s giving us new adventures in the classic style and I, for one, can’t wait to see even more. Highly recommended!