Let’s Talk About Sex

mellisa_clark_unmaskedYep. Today we’re talking about S-E-X and, by extension, loving relationships.

In the classic hero pulps, there wasn’t a whole lot of sex. You’d have the occasional lurid cover, with some scantily clad woman (usually with stockings showing) in distress while our hero moved to protect her but for the most part, guys like Doc Savage, The Shadow and The Avenger were not very interested in knocking boots. Doc occasionally in later years would display a kind of boyish interest in the fairer sex and The Avenger’s love for his wife was constantly being referenced but even in the first book where you see The Avenger alongside his wife and daughter, you didn’t exactly get the image that they were passionate lovers. They were partners, friends and spouses, yes, but there was no sign of “heat” in the relationship.

There were some exceptions, of course. Jim Anthony was basically Doc Savage with a sex drive but by today’s standards, he was still a bit tame. In fact, the idea of Anthony was racier than the truth — he liked to lounge around at home in a speedo while working in the lab. Hell, what guy doesn’t? And then there was The Spider, who was very clearly a passionate lover of Nita Van Sloane. But most of the romance that was depicted between them were of steamy kisses and verbal flirtations.

The fantasy pulps (like Conan) got a lot of mileage out of ladies whipping one another and there was no doubt that Conan and others got into lusty embraces. But I’m focusing on the hero pulps because those were my favorites and that’s where most of the New Pulp writings out today fall into place.

So…

Now we’re in the age of New Pulp. Writers are now bringing in more modern ideas about race, gender relations, etc. into their pulp-inspired writings.

But we still don’t have much in the way of S-E-X. I’m not saying we *need* it, I’m just surprised there’s not more variety out there.

When I wrote Rabbit Heart, I deliberately made it dirty. Foul language, lots of explicit sex and gory violence. It was my Anti-Pulp pulp book. When I did The Damned Thing, I didn’t go quite as far but it was still a pulp novel, only with explicit oral sex scenes and rape. The reviews I got for Rabbit Heart all made direct mention of the dirty stuff because I think it’s hard to discuss the novel without it — and it was out of place in the pulp world. The Damned Thing, though, got high praise but few people mentioned the sexy stuff — maybe after Rabbit Heart, they weren’t as surprised?

We have guys and gals in the pulp field who can cover all sorts of things and do it well. I’d like to see more variety in relationships on display in New Pulp stories. No, we don’t have to go into the boudoir with the Moon Man and his long-suffering girlfriend, but if a writer could do it well, why not? Hell, just some acknowledgement that these heroes are human beings and are sexual creatures would be welcome sometimes, just for the sake of something different.

The number of unfeeling automatons I’ve met in real life are relatively few in number… so why do I see so many in pulp? Look, I have one hero (Lazarus Gray) who kind of fits that bill, too — but in his series, there’s also plenty of sexual beings who surround him and he eventually gets married and fathers a kid, so he must have the same physical desires that the rest of us do.

Yes, I enjoy pulp that features heroic figures, over-the-top villains and happy endings. I make no apologies for that. But I also like to have my heroes fall in love, make babies and grow old.

I had The Peregrine fall in love, get married, become a father, etc. His wife is his partner and his lover, equal in both regards.

I did this because I think of Max Davies as a man — and most men want those things.They want love, they want sex, they want a family.

So, New Pulp writers, don’t be afraid to bring the sexy back!

New Pulp Recommendations: Millennium Bug

bugJeff Deischer is a prolific author and I’ve greatly enjoyed both his non-fiction works (he wrote a wonderful chronology of Doc Savage) and his novels (mostly featuring superheroes). This time around he’s written a pastiche of Doc Savage in which Doc Brazen returns from retirement at the turn of the 21st century, bringing together a new group of aides to help him in dealing with an attack on the Brazen Institute, which is where Brazen alters criminals to be productive members of society.

This is my favorite Doc Savage pastiche of all time, bar none. It captures the feeling of a classic Savage novel while making enough tweaks to keep thing fresh. The new aides are all fun and I found Oz and Noble to be a nice updating on the Ham/Monk dynamic — to be honest, I think I might actually prefer Oz and Noble! Thankfully there are no pet pigs or monkeys around…

I remember when DC tried to update both Doc Savage and The Shadow to the modern day, with very mixed results. A lot of people think these characters only function in their original eras — but Deischer puts the lie to that theory. He proves that Savage/Brazen can work in any time period.

A masterful novel and one that I know I’ll return to in the future. Bring on more Doc Brazen!

A Plethora of Things

michael-fassbenderThings have been pretty busy lately – mostly with my “real” job. I’m in the process of taking several classes related to it and they’ve been seriously cutting into my writing time. Despite that, I’ve done a bit of work lately on two different projects – one of which is an idea from my old pal Jim Beard and the other is a superhero story featuring several characters that have appeared in my Reese Unlimited universe. Neither is very far along but I’ve tried to add a little bit here and there as time permits.

I recently finished reading King Kong vs. Tarzan by Will Murray. I’d give it 3 stars out of 5. First off, this is not written from a pulpy mindset so if you’re expecting a lot of action like in Will Murray’s Doc Savage novels, you’re in for a surprise. Tarzan is mentioned frequently but doesn’t physically appear until about page 262 (the story is 455 pages). Most of the book is centered around the travel over the ocean with Kong in the hold of the ship – ever wondered how the crew managed to keep Kong in line, keep him fed and deal with his bowel movements? This book will explain it all to you. Characterizations are solid but the story could have been twice as good if it had been half as long. I would recommend this to hardcore Kong fans or Tarzan completionists but not any others.

Something very cool will be coming your way in about a week’s time so hang in there. Ye Old Marketing Machine is about to go into overdrive. You have been warned!

From the Vault: Sex In the Pulps

mellisa_clark_unmaskedYep. Today we’re talking about S-E-X and, by extension, loving relationships.

In the classic hero pulps, there wasn’t a whole lot of sex. You’d have the occasional lurid cover, with some scantily clad woman (usually with stockings showing) in distress while our hero moved to protect her but for the most part, guys like Doc Savage, The Shadow and The Avenger were not very interested in knocking boots. Doc occasionally in later years would display a kind of boyish interest in the fairer sex and The Avenger’s love for his wife was constantly being referenced but even in the first book where you see The Avenger alongside his wife and daughter, you didn’t exactly get the image that they were passionate lovers. They were partners, friends and spouses, yes, but there was no sign of “heat” in the relationship.

There were some exceptions, of course. Jim Anthony was basically Doc Savage with a sex drive but by today’s standards, he was still a bit tame. In fact, the idea of Anthony was racier than the truth — he liked to lounge around at home in a speedo while working in the lab. Hell, what guy doesn’t? And then there was The Spider, who was very clearly a passionate lover of Nita Van Sloane. But most of the romance that was depicted between them were of steamy kisses and verbal flirtations.

The fantasy pulps (like Conan) got a lot of mileage out of ladies whipping one another and there was no doubt that Conan and others got into lusty embraces. But I’m focusing on the hero pulps because those were my favorites and that’s where most of the New Pulp writings out today fall into place.

So…

Now we’re in the age of New Pulp. Writers are now bringing in more modern ideas about race, gender relations, etc. into their pulp-inspired writings.

But we still don’t have much in the way of S-E-X. I’m not saying we *need* it, I’m just surprised there’s not more variety out there.

When I wrote Rabbit Heart, I deliberately made it dirty. Foul language, lots of explicit sex and gory violence. It was my Anti-Pulp pulp book. When I did The Damned Thing, I didn’t go quite as far but it was still a pulp novel, only with explicit oral sex scenes and rape. The reviews I got for Rabbit Heart all made direct mention of the dirty stuff because I think it’s hard to discuss the novel without it — and it was out of place in the pulp world. The Damned Thing, though, got high praise but few people mentioned the sexy stuff — maybe after Rabbit Heart, they weren’t as surprised?

We have guys and gals in the pulp field who can cover all sorts of things and do it well. I’d like to see more variety in relationships on display in New Pulp stories. No, we don’t have to go into the boudoir with the Moon Man and his long-suffering girlfriend, but if a writer could do it well, why not? Hell, just some acknowledgement that these heroes are human beings and are sexual creatures would be welcome sometimes, just for the sake of something different.

The number of unfeeling automatons I’ve met in real life are relatively few in number… so why do I see so many in pulp? Look, I have one hero (Lazarus Gray) who kind of fits that bill, too — but in his series, there’s also plenty of sexual beings who surround him. Hell, I make it quite clear in Die Glocke that Lazarus had a “steamy” romance with the daughter of the local museum curator so even he’s not as stoic as he first appears.

Yes, I enjoy pulp that features heroic figures, over-the-top villains and happy endings. I make no apologies for that. But I also like to have my heroes fall in love, make babies and grow old.

I had The Peregrine fall in love, get married, become a father, etc. His wife is his partner and his lover, equal in both regards.

I did this because I think of Max Davies as a man — and most men want those things.They want love, they want sex, they want a family.

So, New Pulp writers, don’t be afraid to bring the sexy back!

My Favorite Pulp Comics – Of All Time!

shadowdocsavageToday I’m listing out my Top 10 Favorite Pulp Comics of all time.

The rules are simple: it has to be a comic book based upon an actual pulp character. So The Rocketeer doesn’t count and neither does Will Eisner’s Spirit. Both may be pulp in “spirit” (Hah!) but they’re not based on actual classic pulp heroes.

So let’s get started, shall we?

10. John Carter, Warlord of Mars (1977, Marvel)
9. Tarzan (1972, DC)
8. Doc Savage Magazine (1975, Marvel)
7. Conan the Barbarian (1970, Marvel)
6. Savage Sword of Conan (1974, Marvel)
5. The Shadow (1973, DC)
4. The Shadow: Blood and Judgment (DC, 1986)
3. The Shadow Strikes! (1989, DC)
2. The Shadow/Green Hornet: Dark Nights (2013, Dynamite)
1. The Shadow: Year One (2013, Dynamite)

As you can see, my love of The Shadow may have tainted the list somewhat 😉

What are some of your favorites, folks?

Updates Galore

black_terror_01_smallHello, my friends!

Though things might have seemed quiet as of late, work has been going on behind the scenes. Within the next few weeks you should be receiving the first installment of The Dark Gentleman’s e-book series and the fifth volume of the Lazarus Gray series. I hope you’ll enjoy both!

I also have word that my Johnny Dollar story, written quite a ways back, will finally be seeing print from Moonstone! I had a blast writing it so I’m glad you’ll finally be able to read it.

I’m also working hard on wrapping up the crossover novel within the next month!

And I’m proud to say that I’ve been spending a good bit of time lately doing proof-editing on Will Murray’s The Sinister Shadow, which will not only be the 200th volume of the Doc Savage series but also returns The Shadow to the prose world that he best belongs in! I was deeply honored to be a part of this project and I think all of you will enjoy the end product. I know that I loved it!

I’m also hard at work on a new project that will feature The Black Terror. I’ve written this public domain superhero a few times in the past but this will be the first time that he’s headlined a project of mine. The cover will be by Anthony Castrillo with interior pieces by George Sellas! One of them accompanies this post, in fact — showing The Black Terror alongside Lazarus Gray. These two met in one of the Lazarus Gray volumes and I think you’ll enjoy what I have in store for The Black Terror… I tweaked his origins a bit in his Lazarus appearance and I think the new elements add some real depth to him.

Hope you agree!

In addition to all of the above, George Sellas is also designing two new pulp heroes for me that will star in their own projects in 2016!

I’ll be back soon with more news – and hopefully a few announcements that will knock your socks off.

New Pulp Reviews

GRVSHWPROMOIMAGEA trio of reviews this time, starting off with:

GRENDEL VS. THE SHADOW – Given that I love both Hunter Rose and The Shadow, this pairing excited me from day one. Add the fact that Matt Wagner was writing and drawing it… and you had the makings of a classic. This three-issue series lived up to its billing, showing exactly how a crossover should be done. Both characters got a chance to sign and their face-to-face confrontations crackled with energy and emotion. The artwork was beautiful all the way through and I liked the way that Wagner contrasted the two lead characters. The only stumble, for me, was that the time travel contrivance felt a bit too convenient and I’m not 100% onboard with the way Wagner portrays The Shadow/Margo relationship. Even so, I adored this series and will pick it up in trade. While not everything Dynamite has published with their pulp heroes has been to my liking, I’d rank this series, The Shadow: Year One and The Shadow/Green Hornet: Dark Nights as being among the best Shadow comics ever published.

Knight From Hell by David White: I’ve been a fan of David White’s writing for quite awhile. He’s got a straight-forward style that’s perfect for New Pulp stories. His works have that same breakneck pace that the classic pulp series did but he incorporates modern characterization and mature elements seamlessly.

This particular story is not for the easily offended. If the notion of angels fornicating and committing adultery doesn’t sit well with you, you might want to give it a pass. But if you’re willing to approach it with an open mind, you’ll find an intriguing protagonist that mixes the hard-boiled P.I. type with some fantasy elements.

Characters are briskly but vividly described and the tale manages to feel dense despite the small page count. Can’t wait for the follow-up!

Justice, Inc # 4: I think Michael Uslan is, along with Matt Wagner, one of the best Shadow writers working for Dynamite right now. This particular series reveals an alternate universe take on The Avenger, pairing him with both Doc Savage and The Shadow. The two “big” heroes are perfectly portrayed but The Avenger’s voice still feels slightly off to me — I’m going with the fact that he’s still so new and that this is a slightly different version to explain it. A pair of classic villains – John Sunlight and The Voodoo Master — are working together in this one and I love Voodoo’s scenery-chewing dialogue. It was odd not seeing Sunlight in his trademark monochromatic clothing, though. Art-wise, this is the best work I’ve ever seen from Giovanni Timpano. It’s solid throughout with nice facial expression. When all is said and done, I think this will stand beside Uslan’s Dark Nights as a wonderful addition to Shadow lore.

My Favorite Pulp Comics – Of All Time!

shadowdocsavageToday I’m listing out my Top 10 Favorite Pulp Comics of all time.

The rules are simple: it has to be a comic book based upon an actual pulp character. So The Rocketeer doesn’t count and neither does Will Eisner’s Spirit. Both may be pulp in “spirit” (Hah!) but they’re not based on actual classic pulp heroes.

So let’s get started, shall we?

10. John Carter, Warlord of Mars (1977, Marvel)
9. Tarzan (1972, DC)
8. Doc Savage Magazine (1975, Marvel)
7. Conan the Barbarian (1970)
6. Savage Sword of Conan (1974, Marvel)
5. The Shadow (1973, DC)
4. The Shadow: Blood and Judgment (DC, 1986)
3. The Shadow Strikes! (1989, DC)
2. The Shadow/Green Hornet: Dark Nights (2013, Dynamite)
1. The Shadow: Year One (2013, Dynamite)

As you can see, my love of The Shadow may have tainted the list somewhat 😉

What are some of your favorites, folks?

From the Vault: Sex in the Pulps

mellisa_clark_unmaskedYep. Today we’re talking about S-E-X and, by extension, loving relationships.

In the classic hero pulps, there wasn’t a whole lot of sex. You’d have the occasional lurid cover, with some scantily clad woman (usually with stockings showing) in distress while our hero moved to protect her but for the most part, guys like Doc Savage, The Shadow and The Avenger were not very interested in knocking boots. Doc occasionally in later years would display a kind of boyish interest in the fairer sex and The Avenger’s love for his wife was constantly being referenced but even in the first book where you see The Avenger alongside his wife and daughter, you didn’t exactly get the image that they were passionate lovers. They were partners, friends and spouses, yes, but there was no sign of “heat” in the relationship.

There were some exceptions, of course. Jim Anthony was basically Doc Savage with a sex drive but by today’s standards, he was still a bit tame. In fact, the idea of Anthony was racier than the truth — he liked to lounge around at home in a speedo while working in the lab. Hell, what guy doesn’t? And then there was The Spider, who was very clearly a passionate lover of Nita Van Sloane. But most of the romance that was depicted between them were of steamy kisses and verbal flirtations.

The fantasy pulps (like Conan) got a lot of mileage out of ladies whipping one another and there was no doubt that Conan and others got into lusty embraces. But I’m focusing on the hero pulps because those were my favorites and that’s where most of the New Pulp writings out today fall into place.

So…

Now we’re in the age of New Pulp. Writers are now bringing in more modern ideas about race, gender relations, etc. into their pulp-inspired writings.

But we still don’t have much in the way of S-E-X. I’m not saying we *need* it, I’m just surprised there’s not more variety out there.

When I wrote Rabbit Heart, I deliberately made it dirty. Foul language, lots of explicit sex and gory violence. It was my Anti-Pulp pulp book. When I did The Damned Thing, I didn’t go quite as far but it was still a pulp novel, only with explicit oral sex scenes and rape. The reviews I got for Rabbit Heart all made direct mention of the dirty stuff because I think it’s hard to discuss the novel without it — and it was out of place in the pulp world. The Damned Thing, though, got high praise but few people mentioned the sexy stuff — maybe after Rabbit Heart, they weren’t as surprised?

We have guys and gals in the pulp field who can cover all sorts of things and do it well. I’d like to see more variety in relationships on display in New Pulp stories. No, we don’t have to go into the boudoir with the Moon Man and his long-suffering girlfriend, but if a writer could do it well, why not? Hell, just some acknowledgement that these heroes are human beings and are sexual creatures would be welcome sometimes, just for the sake of something different.

The number of unfeeling automatons I’ve met in real life are relatively few in number… so why do I see so many in pulp? Look, I have one hero (Lazarus Gray) who kind of fits that bill, too — but in his series, there’s also plenty of sexual beings who surround him. Hell, I make it quite clear in Die Glocke that Lazarus had a “steamy” romance with the daughter of the local museum curator so even he’s not as stoic as he first appears.

Yes, I enjoy pulp that features heroic figures, over-the-top villains and happy endings. I make no apologies for that. But I also like to have my heroes fall in love, make babies and grow old.

I had The Rook fall in love, get married, become a father, etc. His wife is his partner and his lover, equal in both regards.

I did this because I think of Max Davies as a man — and most men want those things.They want love, they want sex, they want a family.

So, New Pulp writers, don’t be afraid to bring the sexy back!

My Favorite Pulp Comics — Of All Time!

shadowdocsavageToday I’m listing out my Top 10 Favorite Pulp Comics of all time. The rules are simple: it has to be a comic book based upon an actual pulp character. So The Rocketeer doesn’t count and neither does Will Eisner’s Spirit. Both may be pulp in “spirit” (Hah!) but they’re not based on actual classic pulp heroes.

10. John Carter, Warlord of Mars (1977, Marvel)
9. Tarzan (1972, DC)
8. Doc Savage Magazine (1975, Marvel)
7. Conan the Barbarian (1970)
6. Savage Sword of Conan (1974, Marvel)
5. The Shadow (1973, DC)
4. The Shadow: Blood and Judgment (DC, 1986)
3. The Shadow Strikes! (1989, DC)
2. The Shadow/Green Hornet: Dark Nights (2013, Dynamite)
1. The Shadow: Year One (2013, Dynamite)

As you can see, my love of The Shadow may have tainted the list somewhat 😉

What are some of your favorites, folks?