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!

Yeah, I’d Like to Write That…

challengers-kirbyI was able to write one of my all-time favorite pulp heroes — The Avenger — for Moonstone. Twice!

I’ve also written The Green Hornet, G-8 and His Battle Aces, The Black Bat, The Black Terror and lots more. I’ve written sourcebooks that were all about Spider-Man, Marvel’s Avengers and a lot more…

But there are still some dream projects out there that I’d like to tackle:

Batman. I’ve read some good Batman prose novels but I’d love to handle Bruce Wayne and company just once. I think it would be a blast.

The Shadow. Taking on Walter Gibson’s signature character would be intimidating as hell but I’d jump at the opportunity.

Conan. I’m not sure I’d ever be able to live up to the passion of Robert E. Howard’s writing but I’d give it my best shot.

Airboy. I’m not too big on aerial pulp, despite having written both Richard Knight and G-8… but Airboy’s appearances in the Chuck Dixon comic book series made me a fan.

Challengers of the Unknown. I didn’t much care for the Ron Goulart novel that came out way back when… I like to think I could do better. The themes and characters are right up my alley.

Seekay. One of the greatest obscure pulp characters ever!

Norgil the Magician. Walter Gibson’s *other* great hero. I have a ton of ideas for this crime-solving magician.

The Phantom. Lee Falk’s classic hero would be a blast to write!

There are other projects that I’d love to tackle, too, but those are the ones that keep popping up in my heart and mind. Someday, maybe…

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!

Yeah, I’d Like To Write That…

challengers-kirbyI was able to write one of my all-time favorite pulp heroes — The Avenger — for Moonstone. Twice!

I’ve also written The Green Hornet, G-8 and His Battle Aces, The Black Bat, The Black Terror and lots more. I’ve written sourcebooks that were all about Spider-Man, Marvel’s Avengers and a lot more…

But there are still some dream projects out there that I’d like to tackle:

Batman. I’ve read some good Batman prose novels but I’d love to handle Bruce Wayne and company just once. I think it would be a blast.

The Shadow. Taking on Walter Gibson’s signature character would be intimidating as hell but I’d jump at the opportunity.

Conan. I’m not sure I’d ever be able to live up to the passion of Robert E. Howard’s writing but I’d give it my best shot.

Airboy. I’m not too big on aerial pulp, despite having written both Richard Knight and G-8… but Airboy’s appearances in the Chuck Dixon comic book series made me a fan.

Challengers of the Unknown. I didn’t much care for the Ron Goulart novel that came out way back when… I like to think I could do better. The themes and characters are right up my alley.

Seekay. One of the greatest obscure pulp characters ever!

Norgil the Magician. Walter Gibson’s *other* great hero. I have a ton of ideas for this crime-solving magician.

The Phantom. Lee Falk’s classic hero would be a blast to write!

 

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.

Tuesday? Yeah, It’s Tuesday.

gravedigger_small_colorWelcome back!

Started reading a new book last night – The Bishop of Port Victoria. It’s a New Pulp collection published by Pro Se and written by D. Alan Lewis. It’s early but so far, so good.

Also wrote some more on the crossover novel. Shocking, I know. Currently the headquarters of Assistance Unlimited is under assault and the only two people available to defend it are… Gravedigger and The Dark Gentleman? Weird! Trust me, it all makes sense when you read it.

Or, at least, I hope it does.

Anyway, I’ve just started looking through something that might lead to more writing work in conjunction with another author. With how busy my schedule is, I’m not sure how wise it is to try and squeeze in another project but it is mighty tempting. We’ll see.

A brief new review went up on Amazon recently. It’s courtesy of a reader named Richard T. and it was for The Avenger: Justice Inc., which I contributed to. Here’s what Richard had to say:

I bought these books in the 70’s because of their covers and then began to enjoy them as fantastic pulp fiction. This new collection honors and extends the legacy of Justice Inc.

Thanks, Richard! My story “The Devil’s Workmen” was a dream to write as  I grew up loving The Avenger. I’m still proud to say that it won the Pulp Ark Award for Best Short Story in 2012. I was lucky enough to get to come back for the following Avenger volume, too.

Our art today is once again from the amazing George Sellas. It was the very first piece he ever did for Gravedigger and solidified our mutual view of her costume. Still a dazzling shot, I think.

Take care, folks! I’ll see you again tomorrow.

New Pulp Awards Nominations Are In!

new_pulpThe New Pulp Awards final ballot is now out and I racked up quite a few nominations:

Best Novel (The Adventures of Gravedigger Volume One)

Best Collection (The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three)

Best Short Story (“The Box of Flesh” from The Avenger: Roaring Heart of the Crucible)

Best Short Story (“Murder Unlimited” from The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three)

Best Novella (“Eidolon” from The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three)

Best New Pulp Character (Gravedigger, from The Adventures of Gravedigger Volume One)

Best New Pulp Character (The Darkling, from The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three)

Best Author

Thanks to everyone who nominated me and my work! It really does make me proud and I appreciate the fact that you guys took the time out of your busy days to send in the nomination form.

If you’d like to vote, all you have to do is send an email with your vote to newpulp2014@yahoo.com – please remember that you can only vote once in each category!

For the full ballot and all the rules, head over to the New Pulp Awards 2014 Facebook Page.

A bit of trivia — the image accompanying this post is the official “New Pulp” seal that many publishers use on their books. It was created by my lovely wife! She doesn’t usually get the credit for it but she did a wonderful job in its creation, don’t you think?

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!

Seekay

seekay_coverEverybody knows The Shadow, Doc Savage, The Spider and many of the other classic heroes… but there are many wonderful characters that aren’t as well-known. This week we’re talking about: Seekay. This pulp hero is relatively obscure, having appeared in only five stories, published in 1937 & ’38. Written by Paul Ernst (the genius behind the original Avenger novels and the Doctor Satan series), Seekay’s entire series has been reprinted by Altus Press in the volume The Casebook of Seekay and Other Prototypes of The Avenger. It’s a $29.95 paperback, which is a bit steep, but it’s well worth the price and you can probably do some shopping around to get it for less.

Seekay is a private detective who wears a plastic mask to hide his disfigurement. There was a whole trend of “defective detectives” who suffered from some form of ailment, be it physical, emotional or mental — and Seekay is one of the best of those. The first two of his stories appeared, appropriately enough, in “Stange Detective Stories” before the rest of the series switched to “Detective Tales.” While the full truth about his disfigurement is never detailed, we do get some tantalizing hints. In the very first story, he aids a young woman who goes on to become his secretary and sidekick in adventure — she yearns to know more about him and there’s some nice romantic tension as she struggles with what is obviously a growing crush on the tragic hero.

While Seekay’s success rate isn’t focused upon, we have to assume that he’s doing quite well for himself, since he’s able to pick and choose his cases. If they intrigue him, he takes them on — but if not, he refuses to even hear them out.

As with all Ernst stories, the characterization is spot-on and I’m continually amazed at how he’s able to make you feel for his characters while never losing the pace of the story. As with The Avenger, Seekay is perfectly willing to let his enemies engineer their own demise, as well.

I am genuinely sad that there’s only five of these stories out there as I think he could have had a long and interesting run. At one point, I was told the character was in the public domain but I’ve since learned that’s not true. It’s a shame in some ways as I would love to have the opportunity to write Seekay or at least read what others would do with him.

Definitely seek out the Altus Press book and see why I’m so high on this character!

2013 In Review

20130609-173120.jpgIt’s been another productive year for me as a professional writer — by my count, I was published six times (not counting reissues of various works). That’s actually one publication more than I had in 2012… so that puts some pressure on for 2014 😉

Here’s what I had published this year:

The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three: Eidolon – This one furthered the big meta-storyline that’s running through books 2-4 and introduces Darkling and Eidolon, two characters that I’m very proud of. Darkling is probably the closest I’ll ever get to writing The Shadow so I had a blast handling him.

The Adventures of Gravedigger – Charity Grace joined my pulp adventure universe this year and I’ve been thrilled with the response to her first novel. Featuring my all-time favorite George Sellas cover, Gravedigger quickly cemented her spot as the third “big hero” in my universe and I fell in love with her and the supporting cast.

The Avenger: Roaring Heart of the Crucible – Writing The Avenger once was a dream come true… to do it a second time?! Amazing! Even better, I got to make it a sequel to my 2011 story. I was very happy with how it turned out.

Strange Trails – My first work for Mechanoid Press. I introduced a new heroine here and had a good time with the experience. It’s odd that I don’t like westerns but I’ve actually written a handful of them now.

Shadowman: The Red Sash – My first foray into Amazon’s Kindle Worlds program, this allowed me the chance to write Shadowman. I managed to do a very pulp-heavy story for it and I like to think it’s a fun little adventure.

Liberty Girl – Adapting a graphic novel to prose was a new experience for me but it was also one of the most rewarding. I enjoyed handling The Liberty Girl and response has been very strong to the finished product.

If you add in all the re-issued works, I had something being published almost every month: Rook Volume Two, Rabbit Heart, the new Single Shot releases from Pro Se, etc.

Next year should bring new volumes for Lazarus Gray and Gravedigger, plus a few other stories and books that should be coming from Moonstone, Pro Se and elsewhere.

None of this would be possible without your support, my friends. Thank you so much.