Tag: Fortune McCall

Spending Time in Sovereign City

nakam_bw_largeMy personal life has been topsy-turvy lately and I was really struggling with my writing as a result. I kind of sputtered my way through 20,000+ words on a Babylon sequel and about 3,000 on a Gothic-style story. I was still sad, though, and unhappy with what I was producing.

So I’ve done what I always do when nothing else seems to work: I go back to Sovereign City. A joint creation of myself, Tommy Hancock and Derrick Ferguson, the Sovereign City Project was going to be home to several characters as part of a shared universe. Tommy delivered Doc Daye, Derrick brought in Fortune McCall and I had Lazarus Gray (and, later, Gravedigger). Me being me, I also tied in The Peregrine and everything including the kitchen sink.

Writing about Lazarus and his companions brings me peace – it always feels like coming home and the words come easily. The book I’m working on now is the 11th volume… books 8-10, plus a Lazarus/Nightveil book, are already in Pro Se’s hands. Volume 11 will bring back Nakam, a character I introduced back in book 6. I may be living on my own now after twenty-three years of marriage but Lazarus and I will hopefully be spending many more years (and volumes) together.

It’s funny that fictional characters can become so real that they’re like family. I need them more than ever and they haven’t let me down yet.

The art accompanying this post is by George Sellas.

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…

 

From the Vault: 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!

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!

Doc Daye is in the house!

ProSeToday we’re doing something a little bit different — we’re going to be showcasing someone else’s writing! As most of you know, Lazarus Gray and Gravedigger are my contributions to The Sovereign City Project, a shared universe where Derrick Ferguson’s Fortune McCall and Tommy Hancock’s Doc Daye also take place. The first Fortune McCall book is a tremendous read and Derrick is hard at work on the sequel. For my own part, the third book in the Lazarus Gray series is about to be unleashed on the world and I’ve had one Gravedigger installment out so far.

But where’s Doc Daye? Well, Tommy’s one of the busiest people in New Pulp but his hero is soon to round out the Sovereign scene. I’ve been told that you can expect the first Doc Daye book to arrive in September 2013.

Last year, Tommy shared a preview of Doc Daye’s debut adventure – “Death Means Little.” I’m going to point you in the direction of that so you can get an idea of what Daye will be like when he finally arrives. I think you’ll agree that he’ll be a worthy addition to the Sovereign scene!

So… go and and enjoy! You can find the sneak preview right here.

Our image today is by the late, great David Burton — it’s the only image so far that brings Fortune McCall, Doc Daye and Lazarus Gray together!

Busy Morning!

hembeck_smallerIt’s been one of those mornings — and it’s not even 8:30 am here! First, I wake up to an email from one of my publishers, saying that a book is already being sent to press and they somehow have lost the most recent version of my story! So I had to hurriedly scrounge that one up and mail it to them. Then I recorded The Shadow Fan Episode 21 but halfway through my Audacity program started acting up so I had to start all over again.

Let’s hope it gets better from here!

I continue to make good headway on Lazarus Gray Volume Four. I’m currently writing a scene that uses Mayor Rainsford Byles, who previously appeared in The Adventures of Fortune McCall by Derrick Ferguson. Fun character and he fits very well with what’s happening in this particular story. Writing in a shared universe has its good and bad points — there are times that it can really limit you because you have to think of the effects your plans might have on others. But on the other hand, it can be a major boon. In this case, I knew Derrick had already created a character that would fit my purposes, so I didn’t have to do that on my own. I just re-read the scenes that Derrick used him in to refresh my memory (thank you, Kindle Fire, for that search feature!) and I was off!

Over on Facebook, Mark Beaulieu tagged me in a post where he said:

OK, so I’ve read through The Rook volume 5 and some of The Rook volume 6. I liked them quite a bit. The 5th volume is good once you realize it’s not just a Rook book. The best parts of the book are where the Rook is present and the weaker parts are with the other characters. Having said that, I liked the other characters, just too many at once. I haven’t read the Lazarus Gray story in the 6th volume because it’s in the Lazarus Gray book and I’m going to read those in order. No reason to possibly spoil something.

I should mention I’m really liking the Lazarus Gray book so far. I’ve finished the 1st three short stories.

Barry Reese has done some good stuff here. While I said some negative stuff above about the 5th volume, I did enjoy it. There’s some good bad guys in there and the stories have quite a bit in each one. I just prefer the solo Rook stories.

Once I’m done with the Lazarus Gray book, I’ll be starting Derrick Ferguson’s Fortune McCall book. Looking forward to that one quite a bit. I love his Sebastian Red stories and the one Dillon book I’ve read was fun.

I wanted to thank Mark for the kind words — I think that Volume Five is the weakest in the series. That book just got away from me, I’m afraid. While I really enjoyed the Claws of The Rook team, they did kind of dominate book 5. Originally, their stories were for a spinoff series that I was going to do for Wild Cat but when that fell through, they ended up running in The Rook series proper — which was probably a mistake. Anyway, I do think the series returns to form with “The Scorched God” that leads off book six.

Our art today is by the amazing Fred Hembeck. Fred has been delighting comics fans with his fun style and swirly knees for many years and it was so amazing to have him draw The Rook. I felt like I’d ‘arrived.’

Enjoy!