Tag: Monster Aces

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!

Recent Reviews

monstersA bunch of reviews were recently added to Amazon — two positive, one not-so-much and one that I’m unclear on. Let’s see what they had to say, shall we?

Monster Aces was reviewed by Dave Brzeski:

This review is based on an advance review pdf, supplied by the publisher.

Jim Beard (‘Sgt. Janus, Spirit Breaker’, ‘Captain Action: Riddle of the Glowing Men’) is the brains behind the concept, so it was always going to be pulpy fun.

He contributed two of the stories in the book himself. The first introduces us to his team of “Monster Aces”, led by the enigmatic ‘Cap’n’, they include: ‘Joker’, the charming smooth talker of the group, so essential for smoothing their relationship with “civilians”; ‘Digger’, the powerful gentle giant of a man, who strangely also happens to be their stealth expert and ‘Gats’, the weapons expert. If any monster claimed to be immune to mortal weaponry, well Gats was there to put that theory to the test. They travelled and more or less lived on a massive sea vessel called ‘The Whale’, which was piloted by a man known only as ‘Mariner’. Then there’s ‘Trill’, unofficial member of the team. Enigmatic and pretty, almost ethereal in nature. Appearing and disappearing with no warning, she could be a nuisance but was often of immeasurable help. In fact she often as not was responsible for leading the team to wherever they were needed.

They hunted monsters and destroyed them. It was their sole raison d’etre. Cap’n was single-minded in this mission and no monster was looked upon with any sympathy… ever! This could and would lend a certain moral ambiguity to their mission.

In Jim Beard’s first story, ‘The Devil’s Clutch’, the people of the village of Nacht are being hunted. There’s an ancient legend, fearful, uncooperative villagers, a good soul damned and someone who delves into secrets that should have remained buried. It sets the tone for the series, somewhere between 30s pulp fiction and 60s Hammer movies.

Next up is ‘The Swamp People’, by Barry Reese (‘The Rook’, ‘The Adventures of Lazarus Gray’). It involves an innocent teenage girl, her typically stupid boyfriend, a carnival and an ancient race of ‘monsters’, who have been driven to extinction by the spread of humankind. The moral ambiguity of the Aces work is brought into sharper focus in this one.

The next story reminded me somewhat of the classic alien monster stories by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the pre-superhero tales of Marvel-Atlas comics. In, ‘The River of Deceit’, by Van Allen Plexico, our intrepid monster hunters encounter a weird and powerful Alien being on the shores of an uncharted tributary of the Amazon. As the story progresses the question of just who is the monster here is brought into sharp focus once again.

We stay in Kirby territory for Ron Fortier’s ‘The Ghoul’. He has our heroes arrive in an armoured vehicle to take on a Ghoul, which in this world is a demon, who possesses a human victim. When the demon comes forth the hapless host transforms into an eight foot tall rampaging monster with greyish skin. It reminded me of those classic Marvel, or DC war comics, with their squads of misfit soldiers, in this case taking on a creature reminiscent of a certain Marvel Comics monster who has occasionally been portrayed with grey skin. Thankfully, for the Aces, this monster wasn’t quite THAT strong! I’ve read quite a few publications from Ron Fortier’s own Airship 27 productions, but this is the first time I’ve had the pleasure to read any of his own writing. It won’t be the last.

Finally we come to Jim Beard’s second story in the book, ‘Hands of the Monster’, in which the Aces kidnap a famous fictional doctor to help them deal with probably the most infamous monster of them all. It was never going to go according to plan.

There have been many monster hunters in fiction in the past. In fact there are quite a few around now, but these guys are more hardcore than most. They all get seriously injured on a regular basis. I would suggest that the Cap’n look into adding a regular medic to the support team.

This is a very enjoyable book. I look forward to learning more about the Aces in future volumes.

Glad you enjoyed the book, Dave! I definitely tried to focus on the group’s somewhat cloudy moral stance and I’m glad you picked up on that. I haven’t been asked back for any future Monster Aces volumes but I wouldn’t mind taking another swing at the characters.

Liberty Girl was reviewed by DelosJ:

Reads like juvenile lit. Many, many proofreading errors throughout. Almost no character development. At least it is an inexpensive buy and a short book.

Sorry you didn’t care for the book, Delos! I think I did an accurate job of translating the comic book into prose so I’m not sure if your faults lie with my own work or with the original. Nonetheless, sorry it wasn’t your cup of tea. I’ll make sure that Pro Se knows about your proofreading complaints.

Liberty Girl was also reviewed by Paul Sponaugle:

Excellent stand-alone novel that pays winking tribute to another 40’s pulp hero in an fun way. Even without that sly nod, the novel is an excellent two-age story of one person, Liberty Girl, who has to come to grips with something very unusual that happens to her. How it affects her and those around her drives the story without making it a one-gimmick plot. Wonderful story-telling!

Thanks, Paul! Much appreciated.

And, finally, Strange Trails was reviewed by cedarlili:

I prefer my stories a bit tighter, overall. The first one wasn’t too bad, but some suffered from a surfeit of descriptive passages taht detracted from the action. I’d rather have more left to the imagination, and this collection at 535 pages long is a hefty chunk of stories, which could have been pared down and still kept the tales intact.

The collection opens with Mr. Brass and the Master of Serpents, set in what seems to be an alternate history of the Old West. Aliens have done dreadful things to the Earth, and Mr. Brass himself was a pinkerton man before his death, revival in a mechanical body, and now he is still tracking down the evil cultists who would awaken Old Gods and destroy civilization. I really liked the old sheriff in this tale, he reminded me of the heroes of Westerns gone bye, doing what was best for his town, even if it killed him.

Sin and Lillies, by Tommy Hancock and Morgan Minor, is a ghost story, rambling, perhaps over-elaborate in descriptions, and the Lillie of the title (it’s not a misspelling) is a woman bound to her knucklebones which ride in the pocket of an evil man from town to town. The sheriff in this story falls for the beautiful woman only he and her keeper can see, and tries to win her freedom, so she can die fully.

When I started The Mechanical Heart: A Tale of Julia Holst and the Weird West, by Barry Reese, I had to stop and go look up Julia Holst. I was curious if she was some famous figure I hadn’t heard of. I didn’t see anything, so perhaps this is just an attempt to make the story look old-fashioned. The tale of a historically improbable figure, the author plops a blonde-cheerleader type into the role of gunfighter and she has a pet horse, and a sword. Sure, why not, these stories are odd enough, a sword that fell from Mars to Earth, and was owned by Attila the Hun fits right in with Conan, or Burrough’s Pellucidar stories. A clockwork man found in a defunct mine sets her off on a peculiar quest.

The final story, a novella by the length of it, I believe, was The Eye of Ulutoth, by Joel Jenkins. Reminiscent of Jack London’s tales of the South Seas, this saga takes place on a ship, which a cowboy and his Sux-Gun Susannah board, in search of dire Ulutoth, whom they hope to hill before he wakens to bathe in the blood and destruction of humanity. Only one of them will return to solid ground…

Stories of grave-robbing gone wrong, stories populated with magicians, albinos, strange creatures both earthly and aethereal, this collection has it all. For fans of the Weird West, it will doubtless be an enjoyable addition to the small but burgeoning genre. I know I learned a lot, reading it, and things I won’t soon forget. Like if you are seeking the Ankh of Ra, forget about it, lest you wind up on The Mummy Train. If you want to make a quick buck, listen to your gut and don’t tunnel sideways into a man’s grave, when that man was known for his uncanny goings-on.

So did you like my story? I’m unclear on that. I assume the title is what led you to think that Julia Holst was a real person? Wasn’t my intention… she’s simply the main character and I like to sometimes subtitle my stories in such a way. Ah, well. It does sound like you were pleased with the book overall, even with a few caveats. Thanks for the review!

A Public Relations Roundup!

media-interview1It’s been a good week for me — positive reviews are rolling in on Gravedigger and the PR machine is churning steadily. It seems like we’ve hit a tipping point… lately, I’ve been hearing from new readers almost daily!

Just in case you’ve missed all the exciting reviews & interviews:

Lisa Collins interviewed for her blog and we talked Gravedigger & the writing process.

I was a guest at the Atomic Anxiety website where Mark Bousquet grilled me about Gravedigger, Rabbit Heart and Robbie Williams!

Davide Mana reviewed Gravedigger — but it’s in Italian! Suffice to say, he liked it a lot!

The Nocturnal Aesthetic took a look at New Pulp and, in particular, the first book in the Lazarus Gray series!

A new review of Monster Aces went up at Amazon.

Chris Dingsdale posted a great review of Gravedigger over on Amazon UK.

Keep your eyes tuned for more — I’m going to be popping up in some surprising places in the coming weeks!

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.

2012: My Year in Writing

RU Proof r1As always seems to be the case, this was a pretty busy year for me. A lot of the stuff I wrote this year still hasn’t seen print (The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three, my second Avenger story for Moonstone, my G-8 story for Moonstone, Liberty Girl, Gravedigger, etc.) but plenty of it has — so let’s take a look, shall we?

Tales of The Rook came out this year, which was the first time we’d done an anthology of Rook stories written by other people. I contributed “The Killing Games” to this one and I think it turned out really well. Set early in Max & Evelyn’s marriage, it was a romantic adventure set on a floating Nazi base.

Speaking of The Rook, the first volume in The Rook Special Editions came out from Pro Se. I didn’t write anything new for this one but I’m mighty proud of the package nonetheless.

For Pulp Obscura, I did two stories — “The Hellmouth” appeared in The New Adventures of Thunder Jim Wade and “Richard Knight and the Stones of Heaven” appeared in The New Adventures of Richard Knight. Both were fun — I was unfamiliar with both characters before signing on but I can say I’m a fan of both now (especially Thunder Jim).

The second book in my Lazarus Gray series came out (Die Glocke) and I’m really hoping it does well in the Pulp Ark Awards because I’m pretty proud of it. I wanted to expand the scope beyond Sovereign City, so I sent the team out on a globetrotting adventure.

The Family Grace: An Extraordinary History was released. An omnibus collecting a bunch of stories dealing with the Grace family who populate my pulp universe, this book sports a snazzy George Sellas cover and features a never-released Rook short.

Finally, Monster Aces made its debut with a story (“The Swamp People”) from me included. These monster hunters had somewhat questionable morals and I tried to bring that to light in my story. It was fun working on the project.

I should also point out that I started doing The Shadow Fan, a weekly podcast devoted to The Shadow. The reaction has been incredible and I love doing the show!

With new volumes of Tales of The Rook, Lazarus Gray, Gravedigger and The Avenger coming next year, I know 2013 has the possibility of being even bigger than this one was! Stay tuned.

New Monster Aces Review

monstersDavid Brzeski has kindly reviewed Monster Aces for The British Fantasy Society website. Here’s what he had to say:

MONSTER ACES edited by Percival Constantine, Pro Se Press, p/b, $15.00/ebook, $2.99, http://www.prosepulp.com/

Reviewed by David Brzeski

Jim Beard (‘Sgt. Janus, Spirit Breaker’, ‘Captain Action: Riddle of the Glowing Men’) is the brains behind the concept, so it was always going to be pulpy fun.

He contributed two of the stories in the book himself. The first introduces us to his team of “Monster Aces”, led by the enigmatic ‘Cap’n’, they include: ‘Joker’, the charming smooth talker of the group, so essential for smoothing their relationship with “civilians”; ‘Digger’, the powerful gentle giant of a man, who strangely also happens to be their stealth expert and ‘Gats’, the weapons expert. If any monster claimed to be immune to mortal weaponry, well Gats was there to put that theory to the test. They travelled and more or less lived on a massive sea vessel called ‘The Whale’, which was piloted by a man known only as ‘Mariner’. Then there’s ‘Trill’, unofficial member of the team. Enigmatic and pretty, almost ethereal in nature. Appearing and disappearing with no warning, she could be a nuisance but was often of immeasurable help. In fact she often as not was responsible for leading the team to wherever they were needed.

They hunted monsters and destroyed them. It was their sole raison d’etre. Cap’n was single-minded in this mission and no monster was looked upon with any sympathy… ever! This could and would lend a certain moral ambiguity to their mission.

In Jim Beard’s first story, ‘The Devil’s Clutch’, the people of the village of Nacht are being hunted. There’s an ancient legend, fearful, uncooperative villagers, a good soul damned and someone who delves into secrets that should have remained buried. It sets the tone for the series, somewhere between 30s pulp fiction and 60s Hammer movies.

Next up is ‘The Swamp People’, by Barry Reese (‘The Halloween Legion’). It involves an innocent teenage girl, her typically stupid boyfriend, a carnival and an ancient race of ‘monsters’, who have been driven to extinction by the spread of humankind. The moral ambiguity of the Aces work is brought into sharper focus in this one.

The next story reminded me somewhat of the classic alien monster stories by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the pre-superhero tales of Marvel-Atlas comics. In, ‘The River of Deceit’, by Van Allen Plexico, our intrepid monster hunters encounter a weird and powerful Alien being on the shores of an uncharted tributary of the Amazon. As the story progresses the question of just who is the monster here is brought into sharp focus once again.

We stay in Kirby territory for Ron Fortier’s ‘The Ghoul’. He has our heroes arrive in an armoured vehicle to take on a Ghoul, which in this world is a demon, who possesses a human victim. When the demon comes forth the hapless host transforms into an eight foot tall rampaging monster with greyish skin. It reminded me of those classic Marvel, or DC war comics, with their squads of misfit soldiers, in this case taking on a creature reminiscent of a certain Marvel Comics monster who has occasionally been portrayed with grey skin. Thankfully, for the Aces, this monster wasn’t quite THAT strong! I’ve read quite a few publications from Ron Fortier’s own Airship 27 productions, but this is the first time I’ve had the pleasure to read any of his own writing. It won’t be the last.

Finally we come to Jim Beard’s second story in the book, ‘Hands of the Monster’, in which the Aces kidnap a famous fictional doctor to help them deal with probably the most infamous monster of them all. It was never going to go according to plan.

There have been many monster hunters in fiction in the past. In fact there are quite a few around now, but these guys are more hardcore than most. They all get seriously injured on a regular basis. I would suggest that the Cap’n look into adding a regular medic to the support team.

This is a very enjoyable book. I look forward to learning more about the Aces in future volumes.

Thanks for the review, David! It was fun working on this concept, which was created by Jim Beard (with some assists from Tommy Hancock, I believe). People seem to be enjoying it, which makes it very likely you might see a volume two down the road!

New Monster Aces Review!

Ralph Angelo has given Monster Aces a Five-Star review on Amazon.com – here’s what he had to say:

Monster Aces, a new book by four of the best and most well-known authors in New Pulp is a just released book of tales concerning an oft forgotten or downplayed area of pulp fiction, Monsters. Creatures that frighten us with their unknown powers and lack of humanity. Things that are out of the norm and seemingly only of nightmares that play out behind closed eyelids. Horrifying beings that no sane man would ever want to encounter let alone seek out or hunt.

And yet that is exactly what the Monster Aces do. They hunt out and seek to destroy those things that go bump in the night. The Monster Aces are a team of four people with a fifth unofficial member (Sixth if you count the pilot of their boat, who never sees action.) The mysterious grey haired man known only as The Cap’n is their leader. Digger is their strong man and hand to hand fighter as well as stealth expert, or commando. Gats is a weapons master and marksman, always armed with more then a few guns, a steady hand and perfect eye. Joker rounds out the main team. He’s the smooth talker. The one who soothes the crowds nerves as well as gets the ladies notice wherever he goes. He is the group’s mouthpiece or public affairs officer. He deals with the aspects of their missions others can’t. The last member of the team is an unofficial one. Her name is Trill. She’s a small, pretty girl with certain psychic abilities that are not clearly determined, but her usefulness is always welcome, even begrudgingly so as it is most of the time, by The Cap’n.

The Monster Aces travel the globe in search of Monsters that seek to destroy mankind for whatever reasons, be they hunger for human flesh, or the simple reason to do evil for its own sake.
Within this tome you will find five stories featuring the Monster Aces facing off against different creatures. All horrifying in one way or another. Jim Beard, (Also known as the author of `Sgt. Janus’, and `Captain Action’) the series creator has two stories within this volume, the first one and the last. There is also one story each by Barry Reese (`The Rook’, `Lazarus Grey’) , Van Allen Plexico (`Hawk’, `The Sentinels’) and Ron Fortier (`Captain Hazard’, `The Pulptress’, `Brother Bones’ etc.) each lend their unique voices to the Monster Aces collection with tales of things that go bump in the night.

Each tale is well crafted and draws you into the almost mythical world of the late 1930’s where each story takes place. Each story has its own flavor, its own unique account of what goes on in the monster hunters lives. It’s hard to pick a favorite as all are engrossing and, as you would expect with a word like “Monster” in its name, fun. But for me the last two stories stood out as `true’ monster tales and were to me at least the most memorable. The last simply because it featured two very familiar monsters in a never before seen situation that brought a smile to my face while reading it.

That being said though, there are no clunkers in this volume. Each tale has more then enough fun factor within its pages to lock the reader in for the full ride. It is an excellent book focused on a different genre then most of New Pulp usually is. The concept alone makes giving this a read more then worthwhile.

Special mention to Ron Fortier’s “The Ghoul” story for the use of a Brough Superior Motorcycle as Trill’s mode of transportation. Being a motorcycle enthusiast and instructor myself I got a big kick out of that scene.