The Immortal Princess Femi

lg03_femi_smallA good villain can make all the difference.

With The Peregrine, most of his enemies were dead and buried by the end of each adventure, though he had a few (The Warlike Manchu, for instance) who made return appearances. When I created Lazarus Gray, I knew that one of the things I wanted to do with the series was to create a series of recurring villains. I wanted him to have a vibrant rogue’s gallery that could return again and again.

But which of his enemies stands above the rest? If our hero is defined by his villains, which of those foes is his dark mirror?

Obviously, Lazarus Gray has Walther Lunt, his former mentor. Lunt was a major force in Volumes One and Two but his death in 1936 (“Die Glocke”) has left him as a shadow looming over the series. He did return to battle Lazarus in a winner-returns-to-life battle but his defeat there has seemingly ended his threat forever.

And then there’s Nemesis, whose very name suggests that he should be Lazarus Gray’s arch-foe. He plays a key role in volumes 7-9.

Bur are either of them really Gray’s arch-enemy? Or should that honor go to the equally-deserving immortal known as Femi?

Continue reading → The Immortal Princess Femi

The Occult Forces Project

br8smallOne of the background elements that has featured in a lot of my pulp adventure stories is the Geheimnisvolles Kraft-Projekt, also dubbed The Occult Forces Project or OFP. Founded in the late 1930s, the OFP was dedicated to utilizing super-science and magic in the name of The Reich and was a subset of The Ahnenerbe. The group had several notable successes when it came to creating larger-than-life figures who spread the Nazi ideals across the globe. Thankfully, they were defeated at every turn by heroes like The Peregrine and Lazarus Gray. A division of the OFP was known as the Department of Occult Armaments (D.O.O.M.) and was headed by Dr. Meer.

Here are some of the more notable agents of the OFP that we’ve seen thus far:

Silver Wolf – This werewolf agent of the SS named Karl Raider battled Lazarus Gray and The Darkling in 1937 during the events of “Eidolon” (The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three). He was enslaved by Princess Femi before he had a fatal encounter with The Darkling.

Geist – General Luther Strauss was a graduate of the OFP who encountered Assistance Unlimited in 1937. An accident in Tibet left him with the ability to manifest ghostly powers. Blackmailed by The Darkling, Geist worked as a double agent until his skills were no longer needed and The Darkling killed him. His story is told in “Eidolon” (The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three).

Continue reading → The Occult Forces Project

The Black Terror (Reese Unlimited Version)

BLACK TERROR_col_smallerThe Black Terror is a character that dates all the way back to Exciting Comics # 9, published in January 1941 by Nedor Comics. His secret identity was pharmacist Bob Benton, who formulated a chemical he called “formic ethers”, which gave him various superpowers. He used these powers to fight crime with his sidekick, Tim Roland, together known as the “Terror Twins”. The character proved popular enough to survive until 1949 and his distinctive costume made for some truly memorable covers. After the Golden Age, the character eventually fell into the public domain – which led to a whole host of publishers reviving him for various projects. Over the years, he’s appeared in books published by AC, Eclipse, Wild Cat, Image, Moonstone and, of course, the Reese Unlimited imprint of Pro Se Press. I first wrote the character for Wild Cat back in 2008 as part of a book called Legends of the Golden Age and later used him in a couple of stories for The Peregrine. More recently, I’ve gone further back into his continuity to incorporate him into my Lazarus Gray stuff. Because his “later” appearances were written first there are a few discrepancies in how he’s portrayed.

In my universe, we first see The Black Terror in 1934 and learn that he’s the creation of a United States military operation overseen by General Arbogast and a scientist named Kenneth Butler. The Black Terror was, in fact, a plant-human hybrid — he had literally been grown in a tube. His memories (all the “facts” from the Golden Age comics) were implants designed to create a backstory that would make him a better soldier for the United States government — Jean Starr was there to give him a woman to fight to get back to and Tim gave him a sense of family. Neither actually existed, except in his own mind. When Bob found out the truth, he broke free and went rogue — but his programming was strong enough that he decided to continue fighting as The Black Terror. In 1936, this led him to Sovereign City in search of a man named Maxwell Schmidt. The German was running Omega Solutions. In conjunction with another product of the same government program that created The Black Terror — a man named McIness that was codenamed Titan – Schmidt hoped to transform himself into an entity dubbed Prometheus. In the end, Schmidt died for his hubris and The Black Terror was forced to kill Titan, the only other entity like him in the world. When all was said and done, The Black Terror used the technology that had created him to grow versions of Jean and Tim — he implanted similar memories into their minds and gave them life. All of this was recounted in “Making of a Hero” from Lazarus Gray Volume Two.

Continue reading → The Black Terror (Reese Unlimited Version)

Timeline of My Pulp Adventure Universe (updated 4/1/20)

gravediggerMajor Events specific to certain stories and novels are included in brackets. Some of this information contains SPOILERS for The Peregrine, Lazarus Gray, Gravedigger and other stories.

~ 800 Viking warrior Grimarr dies of disease but is resurrected as the Sword of Hel. He adventures for some time as Hel’s agent on Earth. [“Dogs of War” and “In the Name of Hel,” Tales of the Norse Gods].

1748 – Johann Adam Weishaupt is born.

1750 – Guan-Yin embarks on a quest to find her lost father, which takes her to Skull Island [Guan-Yin and the Horrors of Skull Island].

1776 – Johann Adam Weishaupt forms The Illuminati. He adopts the guise of the original Lazarus Gray in group meetings, reflecting his “rebirth” and the “moral ambiguity” of the group. In Sovereign City, a Hessian soldier dies in battle, his spirit resurrected as a headless warrior.

Continue reading → Timeline of My Pulp Adventure Universe (updated 4/1/20)

Sprinting towards the end…

Rebirth_Wally-West_CDThe current novel was begun in earnest at the beginning of February so in less than two months, I’ve almost completed it. I haven’t written a book this quickly in ages and it’s a good feeling. The book has flashbacks to the 19th century and the early 20th but the bulk of it takes place in the modern day – you’ll see a few familiar faces from around the Reese Unlimited universe but mostly it’s about adding to the universe. So you get an all-new villain, a lot of supporting characters that I think will grab your attention, and a lead character with only previous appearance (Lazarus Gray Volume 11).

So who are the familiar faces? I don’t want to ruin all the surprises but you can definitely expect appearances by The Peregrine and Jennifer Black (a prominent character in The Second Book of Babylon).

I shared the awesome cover with you guys awhile back and I can’t wait to see what the book designers at Pro Se are going to be able to do with it. They always make my books into works of art.

The art accompanying this post is of my favorite Flash, Wally West, and is by Brett Booth.

 

Breezing Along

IMG_2282Good news all around – I’ve approved the galley edits on Assistance Unlimited: The Silver Age so hopefully you’ll get to see this 1960s-era story soon. From what I’ve been told, the backlog of Lazarus Gray books will begin to roll out on a quarterly basis soon, too.

The novel I’m currently writing is flowing from my fingers onto the page like water. It’s been remarkably easy to write – I think this may be the best thing I’ve written in several years. It’s set in the modern day (though the opening is a few hundred years back) but is definitely set in the Reese Unlimited universe. In fact, it builds off an event shown in Lazarus Gray # 11 and includes a lengthy guest-appearance by a certain vigilante with a penchant for bird-inspired masks. I wonder who that could be…?

Stay tuned, folks. Exciting things await.

 

The Diabolical Dr. York!

yorkMost of the villains in my pulp adventure universe are of the done-in-one variety: they pop up, bedevil our hero and then get killed. The Warlike Manchu, Doctor Satan and Princess Femi are probably the biggest exceptions to that rule.

But what about the deadly Doctor York? Why doesn’t this bad guy get the credit he deserves as one of the big bads of my universe?

Who’s that, you say? You’ve read almost all of my books and aren’t familiar with Doctor York?

That’s because he’s faced The Peregrine multiple times but never done so in prose (at least, not yet!).

York first appeared in All-Star Pulp Comics (2011) # 1, in a story written by me and drawn by by Craig Wilson. Set during The Peregrine’s days in Boston (1933), this tale introduces us to our would-be master villain. York is a former scientist that is now in service to the Elder Gods. His body is the receptacle for dark energies that have had the unfortunate side-effect of altering his appearance. His brain now floats in a clear glass dome above his torso… York has plans to sacrifice the daughter of one of The Peregrine’s friends but our hero manages to foil the scheme and York is dragged off to the nether-realms by his angry masters.

Case closed, right?

Not quite!

Illustration 4York returned in The Peregrine Animated Script that was recently reprinted in The Peregrine Omnibus Volume Three. In this story (set somewhere in the 1936-1937 period), York has managed to acquire the body of Princess Femi, the immortal enemy of Lazarus Gray. York revives her in hopes that she’ll aid him in destroying The Peregrine but once again he is dispatched back to Hell. How did he survive his prior defeat? We’re told that York was persuasive enough to convince the Elder Gods that he deserved a second chance. I imagine they weren’t so forgiving after yet another defeat.

In The Second Book of Babylon, we get to see York make his debut in prose form — he clashed with the Cosmic Spirit of Retribution. Those events are set in 2011 and while we won’t be told right away what York’s been up to between 1937 and 2011, I’m sure we’ll get more details as time passes.

I originally created York because in both the comic book and proposed animated adventure I wanted someone with a really strong visual. He turned out to be quite fun and I have a feeling that he’ll continue to bedevil our heroes in years to come.

Image # 1 is by Craig Wilson and appeared in All-Star Pulp Comics # 1. Image # 2 is by Steven Wilcox and appeared in The Second Book of Babylon.

Kicking Butt!

vanessa_hudgens_fightWork has kicked into overdrive on my newest novel, which has no working title at present. In Lazarus Gray Volume 11 I introduce a new character and she serves a supporting role in that book… but now I’m spinning her out into her own adventure. While she teamed up with Lazarus in the mid-1940s, this novel begins in 19th century England before time-jumping to the modern day. If you’re wondering how this character can pop up in so many different eras, you’ll have to stay tuned. I know, I know – at the rate Pro Se is rolling out my Lazarus novels, you might not get the answers to those questions for a decade or so (it’s been nearly three years since the Lazarus Gray v. 7 was released and I’ve written five more books in the series since then!).

Anyway, I’m really enjoying the opportunity to write something that doesn’t feature Gravedigger, Lazarus, or The Peregrine. I love all my old characters but it feels fresh to have someone whose history hasn’t been so well defined just yet.

Will this be a new series? I don’t know about that yet – let me finish this one book first!

Accompanying this post is a great image of actress Vanessa Hudgens.

The Peregrine flies again

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEW PULP’S ICONIC HERO READY TO TAKE FLIGHT ONCE AGAIN-OPEN SUBMISSION CALLS FOR ‘THE PEREGRINE’ VOLUMES 7-9

Without question, a character that has defined what New Pulp is for many since his debut in 2008 is Max Davies. Formerly known as The Rook, more recently renamed The Peregrine, Max and an entire limitless universe of heroes and adventure erupted from the mind and imagination of award winning author Barry Reese. Through six volumes of thrilling tales literally taking The Peregrine where other heroes have never been, thanks to Reese, as well as short stories by other authors featuring the masked vigilante, he remains a character dear to many fans’ heart. Now the property of Pro Se Productions, this innovative publishing company is ready for The Peregrine to soar once again in full length novel adventures.

“The Peregrine,” says Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, “stands at the top of the most loved characters of the New Pulp Movement, right alongside such stalwarts as Dillon and Brother Bones. And Max isn’t alone. From stories about this one man troubled by horrific dreams and driven to don a mask and fight evil have come some of the most legendary tales and characters, all thanks to Barry Reese, the epitome of the modern day Pulp writer. With Pro Se adding Barry’s Universe to our properties, we feel its only fitting that the mask that started it all return to his own solo adventures, continuing with Volume Seven of THE PEREGRINE. And with Barry having no immediate plans to return to Max in that format, it’s only fitting that we reach out to other Pulp writers, many of which are die-hard fans of Max to help The Peregrine take wing once more.”

Pro Se Productions is currently seeking proposals from authors interested in writing THE PEREGRINE Volumes 7, 8, and 9. Each volume must be a minimum of 60,000 words and either be a novel length adventure or two thirty thousand word stories. The plan for these three new volumes is to produce Volume 7 in 2020 and potentially Volume 8 six months later and Volume 9 six months after that. The three volumes will not be published more than a year apart from the preceding volume.

Proposals should show a knowledge of the character and the universe he exists within. Interested authors may request materials from Pro Se Productions in order to build proposals.

Any authors who have not previously submitted work to Pro Se before must include a four page sample of their work. The first proposal accepted will be Volume 7, the second Volume 8, and the third Volume 9. Terms of contracts will be discussed after proposals are accepted on a per writer basis.

All proposals must be submitted to submissions@prose-press.com.

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to http://www.prose-press.com. Like Pro Se on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ProSeProductions.

Promotional Piece by Sean E. Ali

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!