Johnny Dollar brings home an award!

j_dollarYours Truly, Johnny Dollar has been voted Best Anthology of the Year in the Pulp Factory Awards. I contributed “The Swamp Manor Matter” to this collection, which featured brand-new stories starring the classic old-time radio character of Johnny Dollar. Moonstone published the book, which also featured stories by Gary Phillips, Bobby Nash,  Ron Fortier, Eric Fein, Joe Gentile, and Joshua M. Reynolds. The book won best cover as well, so congratulations to Douglas Klauba! I’d also like to extend congratulations to Tommy Hancock, who edited the entire package.

I’m pretty proud of my story and if you’re looking for some good, old-fashioned detective-work, you could do a lot worse than picking up a copy of this book. Thanks to all who voted.

Classic Pulp Villains

The pulp heroes often faced villains who were memorably over the top. Though most of the villains only appeared once (mainly because they were either killed by the heroes or accidentally brought about their own demise), there were still a few that stuck in my memory. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Fu Manchu – How can you top this Oriental mastermind? His brilliance was unmatched and I enjoyed the fact that he didn’t consider himself a villain at all.
  • John Sunlight – The man who exposed the secrets of Doc Savage’s Fortress of Solitude, Sunlight was just as formidable as the Man of Bronze. The only thing that would have made him better in my opinion was if he’d had an interesting supporting cast, mainly as a counterpoint to Doc’s Fabulous Five.
  • Doctor Satan – I first encountered this guy in Ron Fortier’s Hounds of Hell novel and have enjoyed him ever since. Dressed as the freakin’ devil, this guy has a memorable group of servants and is so over-the-top evil that he’s fun to root against. I enjoyed him so much that I’ve used Doctor Satan as a foil for both The Peregrine and Lazarus Gray.
  • Fantomas – The brilliantly evil Fantomas was as cool as they came, but sadistic and ruthless. For years, I’ve thought using some version of this character in one of my stories. Eventually, I’ll get around to it.
  • The Prince of Evil – Benedict Stark was a twisted killer who battled The Shadow over the course of four novels. The first two are definitely the best – the depraved depths that Stark is willing to go to really makes him stand out amongst The Shadow’s rogues gallery.

What about you guys? What pulp villains could you never get enough of?

BTW, the Doctor Satan image at left is by Anthony Castrillo and features the crimson-clad bad guy as he was depicted in my Peregrine series.

Legends Fiasco

So in a post that was in the New Pulp Facebook group (sadly, it seems to have been deleted…), we were all informed that proceeds from the Legends of New Pulp book were no longer going to be given to New Pulp writer and publisher Tommy Hancock’s medical bills but were instead going to be given to Airship 27’s Pulp Factory Awards to help all the members of that group not have to pony up so much every year.

I, and others, donated our work and proceeds to help out a fellow writer in need not to help fund a set of awards whose legitimacy I’ve questioned in the past. This seems like quite a bait-and-switch… I never would have contributed if I’d known I was donating to the ‘charity’ that is Airship 27’s awards. We have guys in the community like Jaime Ramos going through rough times and the money could go to him if Tommy no longer needs it… or maybe a fund could be set up to let New Pulp authors draw on the funds as needed whenever these terrible situations come up… but instead this is supposedly going to “benefit” all of the New Pulp community. No… it’s not. And even if you quizzed a handful of folks at Windy City and they all said it was fine and dandy with them, doesn’t mean it’s okay to unilaterally tell sixty writers and thirty-six artists that the cause they donated to is no longer the cause being funded. Right there on Amazon it says “…And all of it generated as a benefit project to aid and support writer/editor Tommy Hancock.”

For having questioned this decision, I was told that I was the only dissenting voice and that they couldn’t please everyone. Then all my comments were deleted.

As I said in the thread, I would like my story and name removed from the contents of this book. I have donated to the Airship 27 awards in the past – WHEN I WAS ASKED TO – but this particular book was not supposed to pay for awards, it was to help a fellow writer in need.

I don’t mind being the only dissenting voice when it comes to this – but, to be honest with you, I don’t think I’m the only one feeling this way. I’m just the only one that’s said anything so far.

UPDATE # 1: I have been informed by Ron Fortier that my story will be removed from the Legends book, as per my request.

UPDATE # 2: Ron Forter posted the following on Facebook about four hours after I posted this blog entry – RADIO ARCHIVES TO SPONSOR PULP FACTORY AWARDS. Recently Ron Fortier, moderator of the Pulp Factory Group, suggested that in the future, proceeds from the benefit anthology, LEGENDS OF NEW PULP FICTION, go to supporting the cost of the Pulp Factory Awards. Sadly, several contributors of the volume were not in agreement with that decision, wanting the tome to remain solely for benefit purposes. After some deliberation, Tom Brown, Manager of Radio Archives, which is in the process of recording LEGENDS OF NEW PULP FICTION, magnanimously stepped up to solve the issue. As of now, Radio Archives will sponsor the Pulp Factory Awards. As for the anthology, Editor Ron Fortier, is open to suggestions from all contributors as to where they would like to see the proceeds go.

Musing about awards…

grave3So the Pulp Factory Awards nominee list was revealed today and, once again, it’s heavily weighted towards Airship 27. 18 of the 23 nominations went to Airship and the ones that didn’t still feature writers that also work for Airship. This is not surprising given that the only people that can make nominations are members of the Pulp Factory Mailing List, which is overseen by Ron Fortier, who just so happens to run Airship 27. Airship 27 membership is open to anyone as long as Ron approves them but I’d guess that at least 95% of its membership also does work for Airship. A few years back, I had a conversation with a fellow New Pulp writer about how the Pulp Factory Awards were basically the Airship 27 Awards and he had a lot to say on the subject… then he decided that the best way to get nominated was to offer to work on putting the awards together. Suddenly he was a regular part of the nominee list! It’s amazing how that happened… and now he is a staunch defender of the Awards themselves.

Look, I’m not saying that anyone is out to deliberately mislead the public… but it makes sense that a mailing list composed of people that primarily (or, at least, partially) work with one single publisher are going to skew the nominees towards that publisher. That makes sense — but it also means that these awards are not as “open” to everyone as you might think.

I confess that there are some sour grapes here. I’ve been writing New Pulp for nearly 14 years… I’ve won tons of awards… but it wasn’t until 2018 that I even received a nomination for an Airship 27 award.

And guess what?

It was for a Captain Action novel… that I wrote for (wait for it)… Airship 27.

IMG_2098This year, the final book in my Gravedigger series was one that I would have thought might have gotten a nomination – at least for the amazing cover by George Sellas. But all the covers nominated are for Airship 27. Likewise, Christ Batista did some amazing interior art… but, once again, all the interior artists nominated were for Airship 27 books.

Oh, well. I went and voted for the people I believe deserve to win off the nominees list. I just hate for anyone to look at that list and believe that they’re seeing a representative sample of what New Pulp has to offer. There are great things on there but there’s a lot more to be found, as well.

New Pulp Recommendations: Brother Bones – City of Lost Souls

coverOne of my favorite New Pulp characters is Brother Bones, the Undead Avenger created by Ron Fortier. Bones patrols the shadowy streets of Cape Noire and is an excellent melding of The Shadow with Marvel Comics’ Ghost Rider… he’s a fedora-wearing, skull-faced dispenser of retribution. I was lucky enough to get Ron’s blessing to feature Brother Bones in one of my Lazarus Gray volumes and it was a blast to handle the character.

City of Lost Souls is the newest volume in the series and it features five stories of varying length – the shortest is a scant five pages while the longest clocks in at 103 pages. The book is a bit different than the earlier Bones adventures in that there feels like a lot less Brother Bones than usual… a strong emphasis is placed on the supporting characters. In fact, Bones doesn’t even appear in “A Taste of Cherry Pie,” which is one of the strongest tales in the book!

The cover artwork is based upon “The Synthetic Man,” the longest story in the book, and that tale pits Doctor Satan against Brother Bones. It wasn’t what I was expecting, though, as there’s not really a whole lot of Satan vs. Bones in direct conflict… I did really enjoy the tale, though, and found the subplot revolving around a disfigured henchman and his mannequin girlfriend to be particularly strong.

As for the cover itself, I really liked it – Michael Stribling did a nice job on this.

Overall, if you’re a fan of the character, you’ll like this book. It deepens the vigilante’s world and makes it clear that the supporting characters are strong enough to carry the tales even without Bones.

What Are You Doing, Barry?

emma-watson-elle-2011-8_thumbI ask myself that all the time.

I finished off the Captain Action novel awhile back and it was sent off to the guys at Airship 27 plus the license holders. Editor-in-Chief Ron Fortier gave the book a big thumb’s up so I think it’s probably on the fast track to getting published. I had a blast writing it and working with Jim Beard.

I also completed the Nightveil novel — “The Quiet Girls.” I’m really proud of that one and I’m hoping that Tommy Hancock at Pro Se and Bill Black at AC Comics approve of what I’ve done. I created a few new characters in this one and I think that some of them would make for good recurring foes and friends for Laura Wright. We’ll see if anybody at AC wants to incorporate the story into the comic book canon.

I’m currently working on the second story for Lazarus Gray Volume Eight. “Wait,” you ask, “shouldn’t that read Volume Seven?” No — I’ve already written book seven and it’s already in the hands of the good folks at Pro Se. It should appear later this year, though I suspect it will be after the third book in the Gravedigger series — also complete and at the publisher.

It’s good to be ahead on deadlines, isn’t it?

If you guys have any questions about upcoming works, feel free to ask away!

“Custer’s Ghost”: A New Pulp Review

Ron Fortier’s Captain Hazzard series is one of New Pulp’s best and it does that rarest of feats – it gets better as it goes along. This is the fifth entry and it’s by far the best.

This one features an old west theme as Custer’s ghost is apparently on the loose and a group of Skinwalkers has joined its ghostly cause. Along for the ride is Jim Anthony, the classic pulp hero dubbed ‘The Super Detective.” Fortier does a great job of balancing Hazzard and Anthony, giving each moments to shine. Hazzard gets a fantastic action sequence at one point wearing a Rocketeer-style jet pack, battling fighter planes. Anthony’s best sequence features him going toe-to-toe with the leader of the Skinwalkers.

There’s plenty of romance, too, as we’re introduced to the lovely Dancing Moon and see the return of Azlea O’Hara, who continues pining after Hazzard in humorous fashion.

The cover by Pat Carbajal is fantastic and Rob Davis is back again to depict the heroes in a series of interior pieces.

Highly recommended!