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Taking Action!

BARRY REESE JOINS CAPTAIN ACTION TEAM!

Airship 27 Productions and Captain Action Enterprises LLC are thrilled to welcome popular New Pulp writer Barry Reese to the Captain Action team. Reese, known for his fast paced, action pulp series such as the Peregrine, Lazarus Gray and Gravedigger, will be making his debut in the third Captain Action novel from Airship 27 Productions.Since their partnership with Captain Action Enterprises began several years ago, Airship 27 Productions has released two Captain Action full length novels; “Riddle of the Glowing Men” and “Hearts of the Rising Sun,” both by writer Jim Beard. Last year a Lady Action novelette, “The Sands of Forever” was authored by Airship 27 Productions’ Managing Editor, Ron Fortier.

“This is a really great franchise,” said Fortier recently. “Not only do these books appeal our pulp readers, but also to the legions of Captain Action toy collectors. It just seemed a natural fit right from the start. Jim Beard’s first two novels were a big hit and it’s been clear all along that our fans want more.”

Whereas Beard’s own fast rising success began to infringe on his available time, he was still hoping to get a third Captain Action novel done. Eventually realizing that would be impossible, Beard reached out to his friend and colleague Barry Reese to see if he was available to help with the project. After receiving approval from all parties involved, the two writers worked out their plans.

“I’m providing a full plot and chapter breakdown,” Beard explained, “as well as providing oversight for every step of the writing to insure characterization and continuity to the previous two novels.”

As for Reese, his own excitement was evident from the start. “As a lifelong fan of the Captain Action character, I’m thrilled to be able to work with Jim in adding new layers to the legend! We’ve both bursting with enthusiasm about the project and I can’t think of a better writer to be teaming up with!”

So there you have it, pulp fans; the first ever team up of Jim Beard and Barry Reese to bring you the third action packed Captain Action adventure in this continuing series from Airship 27 Productions and Captain Action Enterprises, LLC. Look for the yet untitled book coming your way in early 2017.

AIRSHIP 27 PRODUCTIONS – PULP FICTION FOR A NEW GENERATION!

The Shadow Fan Returns – Plus: Monster Aces in Audio!

The_Shadow_Knows_by_E_MannThe Shadow Fan’s Podcast returns with a new episode – our 75th in fact! This time around we talk about the news of Matt Wagner’s return to the character and also take a look at The Shadow and the Mysterious 3 from 1994.

In other news, Monster Aces, a collection of stories written by myself, Jim Beard, Ron Fortier and Jim Plexico, is now available in audiobook form. William Turbett is the narrator. Check it out, my friends!

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?

New Pulp Recommendation: Hearts of the Rising Sun by Jim Beard

CA2As someone who frequently writes ongoing series, I can tell you that creating a follow-up adventure is not always easy. Trust me — a lot of people think that all you have to do is recycle the same ideas and you’re good to know. Sequels, they say, are the very definition of laziness.

Sure, if you’re just looking to cash in, that’s probably true. But if you genuinely want to continue the story and do so in an entertaining manner, there are all sorts of pitfalls that you have to look out for: is the storyline too similar? Is it too dissimilar? Am I just doing “what comes next” or truly progressing the characters? What if everybody hates it and then people forget why they liked the original?

And so on.

So when I picked up the second Captain Action novel (Hearts of the Rising Sun), I was curious to see where the author would take it. I had greatly enjoyed Riddle of the Glowing Men and, knowing all of the above, I wondered if this one would be just as good. If you’re curious, you can search through the archives to see my review of book one.

Back?

Good. Before we start analyzing this volume, let’s see how the publisher describes it:

ACTION IN JAPAN! While on assignment in Japan, Captain Action is haunted by the woman he loved and lost years ago in the underground kingdom beneath Siberia. When she mysteriously begins reappearing during his clandestine mission to witness a newly discovered power source, agent Miles Drake begins to question his own sanity. Forces are at work to steal two naturally formed energy stones whose limitless power in the wrong hands could destroy the world. When he begins to suspect his alien nemesis, Dr. Evil, is behind these attacks, Drake has to utilize his most daring disguises ever to learn the truth and ally himself with an old vigilante hero from the past. Now the one and only Captain Action must walk a delicate tightrope between old and new allies while attempting to discover the source of the threat to the Hearts of the Rising Sun. If he fails, mankind is doomed!

As with book one, I question some of the cover decisions. Riddle of the Glowing Men had a major character twist that I felt was spoiled by the front image… and this one does something similar. Right there in the publisher’s blurb it teases that a classic vigilante hero is going to return — I wonder who it could be? Oh, wait, he’s on the front cover.

I understand the tough decision between trying to entice fans of that character of the book to pick this up and also maintain mystery… but pick a direction, I’d say. If you’re going to put the character on the front of the book, then don’t tease him as a mystery on the back. Just outright say who he is. You can’t have it both ways.

Anyway, this one is set in Japan and I admit that I didn’t immediately warm to the location or the plot. The first quarter of the book felt like it was definitely suffering from sequel-itis. In other words, this didn’t feel like a second adventure of Captain Action… it felt like it was almost wholly dependent upon the events and characters of the first book. I’m not a fan of sequels that feel like “oh, and this is what happened the next day” as it almost belittles the first one. I would have preferred to have seen an entirely new adventure here and then have elements of the first book return for a third one, for instance.

We do get some cute Action Boy jokes and there’s a wonderful sequence where Captain Action dresses up as our ‘mystery hero’ in an obvious homage to the way that the toy would put on costumes of other heroes. We also see the debut of CA’s arch-nemesis here and, despite the cheesy name and appearance, Jim does a fine job of handling him. I also like the way Jim writes the older version of The Black Bat (I don’t consider this a spoiler as he’s on the cover!) and there are some fun twists at the end involving body-swapping.

The way that Cap is treated by the Japanese government also made me smile.

If you enjoyed the first book, I think it’s safe to say that you’ll like this one, too. Despite the slow starting nature, it picked up steam in the middle and barreled along to a satisfying conclusion. I’ve read better from Jim Beard but that’s not to say that this one isn’t a hell of a fun book. It is. I think it says oodles about his talent and the potential for the character that I can still heartily recommend it, even when I think it’s a slight decline in quality from the first tale.

I do hope we get a third book (and beyond). I’d like to see some really over-the-top stuff as the series progresses. Maybe see CA travel to a base on the dark side of the moon or end up at the earth’s core, battling a group of still-surviving Nazis. Or talking gorillas! That’s always a winner.

On the rating scale, I give this one a sold 3.5 out of 5. It’s fun, has sharply drawn characters and features well-written action.

 

ADVENTURE WANTED! BOX THIRTEEN OPENING SOON!

RadioArchives.com has released the ebook edition of BOX THIRTEEN – ADVENTURE WANTED. An audiobook will be released on May 9th with a paperback release to follow.

Stories in this new anthology are written by Bobby Nash, Jim Beard, Andrew Salmon, and Barry Reese. This new collection of stories is based on Alan Ladd’s popular 1948-49 radio show. Box Thirteen is performed by Nick Santa Maria, an actor with an incredible range of voices. Rumor has it Nick has been practicing his Alan Ladd impersonation. Douglas Klauba provides the cover.

You can find the Box Thirteen – Adventure Wanted ebook on Amazon here.

About Box Thirteen – Adventure Wanted:

Adventure wanted!
Will go anywhere!
Do anything!
Write Box Thirteen c/o Star-Times!

When author Dan Holiday opens Box Thirteen, he never knows what adventure awaits him. A former newspaperman turned novelist, Holiday crafts the plots for his books by living them. Spurred into action by letters from his readers, Dan Holiday’s adventures ranged from the outrageous to the dangerous. Whatever the case, Dan Holiday is sure to find adventure.

Based on the 1948-49 radio drama starring Alan Ladd, this collection includes 6 all-new Box Thirteen tales that carry on the action-packed tradition of the originals.

In “The Mystery of the Menacing Manuscript” by Bobby Nash, a surprise invitation sends Dan Holiday on a mystery writer’s weekend retreat filled with treachery, deceit, and murder.

In “The Horror of the Plague Doctor” by Barry Reese, a worried investor’s letter puts Dan Holiday in the crosshairs of a death doctor’s nefarious plot.

In “The Out Of This World Affair” by Bobby Nash, a cryptic message sends Dan Holiday scurrying to find the truth about Citizen X’s extraterrestrial discovery before men in black suits catch them both.

In “Room 13” by Jim Beard, a request for aid puts Dan Holiday on a collision course with mobsters, a mechanical man, and a scientist who wants to harness the author’s brainwaves.

In “The Game’s afoot, Mr. Holiday” by Bobby Nash, a killer gives Dan Holiday a chance to stop him before he murders his next victim. Can he decipher the killer’s clues in time?

In “Kaleidoscope” by Andrew Salmon, a frantic letter from a troubled wife sends Dan Holiday straight into a murder investigation where he’s the chief suspect.

Dan Holiday’s new adventures spring to life at adventure’s favorite address, Box Thirteen.

Box Thirteen – Adventure Wanted is available for Kindle at the following:
Amazon US (Kindle)

Amazon UK (Kindle)

Amazon CA (Kindle)

Look for Box Thirteen – Adventure Wanted on ebook now with an audio release on May 9th. Paperback release date to be announced soon.

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Properties That Need To Be Translated Into Prose – ASAP!

night-forceMy buddy Jim Beard has had some success translating the Captain Action toy into prose and we’ve certainly seen novels based on tv shows, comic book characters and so forth over the years. But there are some properties out there that I’d love to get to see in prose… and maybe even write myself!

What things am I thinking about? Let’s see…

The Six Million Dollar Man – These days, he’d have to be updated to Six Billion or more, right? Anyway, I always thought this was a pulpy kind of show and I think it would be fun to see new prose adventures that followed the television continuity.

Challengers of the Unknown – Let’s pretend the Ron Goulart novel from the 70s never happened, okay? The notion of these guys living on borrowed time is a great one and would translate easily into a New Pulp take.

Sheena, Queen of the Jungle – Everybody loves a good jungle girl story, right? I think Sheena is ripe for a revival and updating. If Sheena were unavailable, maybe we could get the tragically aborted Savage Beauty concept revived and explored in prose.

Micronauts – This toy line spawned a classic Marvel comic book but revivals since haven’t been able to hit the right notes. I actually read a prose trilogy based upon one of the later continuities… and I think there’s a lot of potential here, even if it hasn’t always been present since Marvel lost the license.

The Phantom – We’ve had a great series of paperbacks written by Lee Falk and Moonstone did some fantastic anthologies featuring the hero but I’d like to see more Phantom prose adventures.

Night Force – This Wolfman/Colan creation was a lot of fun from DC Comics back in the day and I’d be ready to follow them into prose adventures, as well. Baron Winters is a great character and the premise is just made for a continuing series of adventures.

What old properties would you like to see revived in prose?

 

New Pulp Recommendation: Sgt. Janus Returns

Sgt._Janus_ReturnsEvery now and then 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 Sgt. Janus Returns by Jim Beard.

Before we talk about the book itself, let’s see how the publisher describes it:

Jim Beard’s original occult investigator, Sgt. Roman Janus, returns in a second all-new collection of suspenseful adventures. Or does he? At the end of the first book, SGT. JANUS – SPIRIT BREAKER, our intrepid hero mysteriously vanished into another realm never to be seen again. Now, almost a full year later, a dark haired beauty, with no memory of her own identity, suddenly appears and begins assuming Janus’ role in seeking out troublesome poltergeist and laying them to rest. Aided by a young clerk named Joshua, this mysterious Lady Janus possesses personal knowledge known only to the missing occultist. Who is this strange, daring woman? Is she Janus reincarnated? Or is she something even more sinister? Once again writer Jim Beard turns the entire occult genre upside down as he delivers another eight stories filled with mystery, horror and non-stop action—all driving to a startling finale pulp fans of the weird dare not miss.

Before we get too deep into the review, let me say this: the first book in this series was a solidly plotted and well-constructed homage to the old Victorian-style ghost breakers. It was a fantastic read.

But this book blows it out of the water.

The author does something that’s so bold with this book — I don’t want to spoil all the details — but to do a volume in which the main character functions almost as a secondary figure is something that you don’t see all the time. Even more interesting is the fact that the “replacement” characters who take center stage were just as fascinating as Sgt. Janus himself. To be honest, I would have been fine seeing Lady Janus and Joshua continue on for the rest of the series! Their interplay was very well done and I love how it was allowed to slowly deepen over the course of the book.

As with the first volume, this one contains multiple stories. The conceit of the first one was that each was narrated by a different person. Here, we get a consistent voice — Joshua — and I think that while the first book was an excellent example of its type, I found myself pleased to have the same narrator from story to story in this one. It allowed for us to get a strong connection to the character and to see Lady Janus through his eyes.

The cover… when I first saw it, I honestly didn’t care for it. Something about it just didn’t seem right for the ambiance I felt the author was going for. But the interior pieces were fantastic and by the end of the book, I’d gotten so used to the artist’s portrayal of Lady Janus and Joshua that I felt like I was looking at the cover with new eyes. It’s hard for me to imagine these characters looking like anything else, to be honest.

This book is one of the best New Pulp adventures I have ever read. High praise? It’s well deserved. I’ve enjoyed the author’s past works but I really feel that he’s elevated his game with this one. I simply can’t recommend it high enough!

Captain Action: Riddle of the Glowing Men

CapActfrntWhen I read something truly worthy, I want to let others know about it. Sometimes it will be something that’s brand new, other times I’ll look at something that’s a few years old. This time I’m encouraging you to check out Captain Action – Riddle of the Glowing Men by Jim Beard.

This is how the publisher describes the book:

One of the most popular heroes of the 1960s returns in his first ever full-length novel. Super-spy and master of disguises, Miles Drake, aka Captain Action investigates the “Riddle of the Glowing Men,” by writer Jim Beard. Foreign assassins are sent to kill Captain Action and though he manages to defeat them, it is their lifeless bodies that pose the greater mystery as they give off a green, glowing radiation. Teamed with a beautiful and seductive Russian Agent, Captain Action travels to the barren, frozen wastelands of Siberia where the secret behind the glowing men lies buried in a fantastic, lost underground world. It is a secret also pursued by his most dangerous nemesis, the alien-born Dr. Evil. What is this strange power hidden beneath the earth that could destroy all of mankind and who will unlock its mysteries first? “Riddle of the Glowing Men” is a classic pulp thriller packed with enough intrigue, daring escapes and breakneck adventure to fill a dozen books. Featuring a stunning cover by artist Nick Runge and interior illustrations by award winning artist, Rob Davis, it presents a well loved hero to a new audience eager to experience his special brand of two-fisted battling, Captain Action style! Airship 27 Productions – Pulp Fiction For A New Generation.

Let me preface this review by saying that I have never seen a Captain Action toy in real life. I have no particular affection for him as a concept and my only real exposure to him was a trade paperback put out by Moonstone Books that reprinted some of their comics. So going into this, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of “connection” to the material. Licensed properties that I don’t have a pre-existing interest in are difficult for me to get into.

Jim Beard is an author whose work I enjoy and that was the main reason I gave this a shot. Billed as “What if James Bond went on a Doc Savage adventure,” it mostly succeeds in its aims. The story is fluid and moves at breakneck speed, though never too fast to ignore characterization. Our hero is of the rugged, manly type that this sort of fiction loves so well. He’s a hero, through and through, having taken in a young boy who was orphaned by his enemy, Dr. Evil. In this story, the central plot revolves around a group of glowing men and the Siberian Explosion of 1908 (always a good subject to deal with!). Captain Action is teamed with a beautiful brunette who has recently defected from Russia.

Being a period piece, the entire affair plays with elements of the Cold War very effectively.

I really enjoyed the descriptions of the Captain’s lair and equipment and thought the author did a good job of utilizing Action Boy (who is not dubbed that in this story but that’s who he is) in a way that avoided the usual Wesley Crusher syndrome. There’s no sign of Lady Action in this book.

The core concept is a bit silly — our hero wears a yachting cap, is called Captain Action, battles Dr. Evil and works for Advanced Command for Telluric Interdiction Observation and Nullification (A.C.T.I.O.N.). The author plays the material straight but does seem to realize that this is not meant to be Shakespeare. It’s pure escapism and isn’t ashamed to be so.

Interior illustrations are by Rob Davis and accurately depict the scenes from the book. The cover art by Nick Runge is eye-catching but it feels like three different images that have been Photoshopped together. Captain Action is staring off at… something. The girl who is tied up is also looking off at… something. No one seems completely aware of each other. And the woman on the cover is blonde — I would have preferred to have seen a brunette to match Uliana Ulanova’s initial description from the story. Uliana does have a blonde “turn” in the book but for the most part, she is described as having dark hair and I think that would have made more of an impact as the reader was going through the tale. As it is, the cover actually spoils a major reveal that occurs in the book. I’m not saying she doesn’t look fetching on the front image but since it depicts something that comes after the dramatic “reveal,” I think it’s not the best choice.

Overall, if you’re looking for a fun book to spend a few hours with, this fits the bill. It’s fun, breezy and entertaining. It made me curious about a sequel despite not being a fan of the core concept, which is an impressive feat.

New Pulp Recommendation of the Week: Monster Earth

Monster Earth Cover letters placeholder artEvery 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 Monster Earth by James Palmer, Jim Beard, I. A. Watson, Nancy Hansen, Edward M. Erdelac, Jeff McGinnis and Fraser Sherman. Before we start talking about the book in-depth, let’s see how the publisher describes it:

Welcome to a world where the Cold War was fought not with the threat of nuclear destruction, but with Giant Monsters. Watch as the denizens of this Earth that might have been learn to harness the power of these legendary creatures for good and ill. In these seven tales you’ll witness first hand as… –A young boy learns the value of sacrifice when the Japanese use a giant monster to attack Pearl Harbor… –An Inuit confronts his heritage to harness a frightening creature of the Great White North… –A false guru’s greed endangers 1960s Boston… All this and more await you in the pages of MONSTER EARTH! Join editors James Palmer (Slow Djinn), Jim Beard (Sgt. Janus, Spirit-Breaker) and some of the most talented voices in New Pulp, including Nancy Hansen (Prophecy’s Gambit), Edward M. Erdelac (The Merkabah Rider series), and I.A. Watson (Blackthorn: Dynasty of Mars) as they take you to a frightening vision of Earth… MONSTER EARTH!

Obviously, this work is a an homage to the classic kaiju monster movies we’ve gotten over the years from Japan, where giant monsters fight other giant monsters. I grew up on a steady diet of Godzilla, Ultraman and Gamera so I’m in the right demographic for a book like this. The concept is ingenious and just lends itself to a whole lot of fun. And that’s exactly what these authors deliver — while the human element is never ignored, you’re also not going to be reflecting upon the nature of humanity after reading these tales. The main ‘draw’ — the giant monsters — is never neglected. I appreciate that because even now, I have to admit that I’m tapping my toe during all the in-between stuff in a kaiju film. I’m there to see big monsters punching other big monsters in the face.

There’s not a bad story in the bunch, which is saying something. I’m not the world’s biggest anthology fan because inevitably I wish the good stories were longer and could do without other tales entirely. There are no stories here that I would excise, however. The opening story, by Jim Beard, is a good one in terms of setting the tone and parameters of this world. It kind of reminded me of World War Z in the documentary-style approach it took. Nancy Hansen’s tale felt like classic kaiju and in particular, I enjoyed that one.

Some might scoff at the notion of kaiju as being ‘pulp’ but in feel and motivation, it’s definitely in the same ballpark. Both feature fast-moving stories with a focus on action. The characterization is delivered quickly and broadly. That’s New Pulp to me — and, most importantly, it’s escapist entertainment.

A word about the cover – something about the art seems a little “fuzzy” (perhaps this was something in the formatting or perhaps my eyes are going) but I love the movie poster feel of it and it not only captures the concept well but it makes you want to immediately dive in and start reading. It’s memorable and stands out well from many of the other covers that New Pulp works are sporting.

Monster Earth is a book that made me smile at least a half dozen times. If you love action-adventure or have a soft spot in your heart for dudes in big rubber suits stomping through model cities… then Monster Earth is something you should really consider checking out.

A Monster Aces Review

monstersIt’s a good day for reviews here at Ye Olde Blog! Bruce Blanchard posted the following review of Monster Aces over on Amazon.com. Here’s what he had to say:

You say there are no monsters? Tell that to the Aces, experts hunting and destroying the monsters plaguing human kind. Meet the team. The leader is Cap’n of a secretive past. Joker is a man who can sweet talk their way in and out of situations. Gats, formerly a gangster, knows the power of firearms. Digger, big as an ox, is one with the earth, sussing out entrances and exits. Trill, the darling of the dangerous Aces, makes a point of showing up uninvited making their situations better…or worse. Carrying them around the world is the Whale, a ship with the able Mariner at the helm.

Monster Aces is a gathering of five stories written by Jim Beard, Barry Reese, Van Allen Plexico, and Ron Fortier. They will take you on a tour of the world with your points of entry: the primitive village of Nacht, Geeter Swamp, the deadly Amazon, Aroostook County (Maine), and Bahia Blanca in Argentina.

The Aces are no slouches, neither are the monsters they face and definitely not the stories written by these fine gentlemen. The descriptive words in each story flourish in the flavor of their locales. The main characters stand out strong and distinctive. Not even one of the secondary characters are throwaways. The battles within the pages are perilous and the quests up to and meeting the monsters are adventures we can only dream about. You will find the reading is escapist and also exciting and heart-stopping. Get Monster Aces now; you will not regret it. This comes with my personal promise and reputation as a reviewer.

Thanks for the review, Bruce! I really enjoyed working on Monster Aces and if there’s ever a volume two, maybe I’ll be invited back to the party.