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New Pulp Recommendation of the Week: Yesteryear by Tommy Hancock

yesteryear2000Greetings! Every Friday, I like to turn the focus onto a work of New Pulp that I’ve really enjoyed. Sometimes they’re new books, sometimes they’ve been out for a few years. It all depends on my mood. Today, we’re taking a look at Yesteryear by Tommy Hancock. This book was published by Pro Se Press in 2011 so it’s still a relatively new work but it’s proven popular enough that it’s already spawned a roleplaying game based on upon it! Before we get too far into my own comments about this book, let’s take a look at how the publisher hyped it:

YesterYear by Tommy Hancock, Published by Pro Se Press. Cover Art by Jay Piscopo, Interior art by Peter Cooper, Format and Design by Sean Ali. A world where heroes and villains existed since the day the market crashed and the world almost collapsed. Common people granted great powers and awesome responsibility. A world where one of them knew all the secrets, good and bad, and put them down in a book. A world where that man and that manuscript disappeared. Until now. YESTERYEAR is the first book in an epic series chronicling the adventures of Heroes and Villains, both in the Heroic Age of the 1920s-1950s and in the modern day. Centered around a missing manuscript that might hold information that could literally change history and even mean the end of the world, YESTERYEAR alternates between a fast paced modern storyline about the man who ends up with the legendary book and excerpts from the mythic tome itself. Marvel to pulp like adventures of glory and adrenaline and become engrossed in the humanity and horror of being a Hero. YESTERYEAR by Tommy Hancock-Sometimes the Greatest Mystery of Tomorrow happened Yesterday!

Like Van Plexico’s Sentinels series, this is one of those books that seeks to bridge the gap between pulp and the superhero comics that in many ways helped kill the golden age of heroes like Doc Savage and The Shadow. The connections between comics and pulp have been well known for decades but it’s been a relatively recent attempt to tie them together in prose. Hancock goes a slightly different route than Plexico in doing so — he makes this a historical piece, which allows him the freedom of inserting a bit of meta-fictional commentary. Don’t worry, though — this isn’t some sort of deconstruction of golden age heroism. Quite the opposite. While Hancock definitely inserts more realism into the setting and into the characters than the old stories he’s homaging would have done, he never loses sight of the innate need we have for true heroes.

The basic plot revolves around a journal that falls into the hands of J.C. Smitherson, a former boy detective who has grown up to be a writer & publisher. This journal was the work of Ramsey Long, once part of the Golden Age of Heroes in this universe. The secrets contained in this journal are ones that could tear the mythology surrounding the period asunder, which causes multiple factions to seek its destruction and the death of anyone who might have read its contents. This facet of the story reminded a bit of the end of Watchmen, in which Rorschach’s journal ends up being sent to a magazine’s slush pile and is a great way of providing story momentum.

The book is also quite interesting from a design standpoint, as there are multiple fonts and even cursive text used to depict the different passages from the journal. While some reviewers found this to be a bit off-putting, I thought it helped set the scene very well and enabled me to clearly tell when we were jumping around in time.

The interior art varies a bit in quality — some pieces are absolutely beautiful, others look a tad rushed. Overall, they do add to the package and allow us to adequately see the heroes & villains being described.

Should you read Yesteryear? If you like the Golden Age of comics & pulp, then yes, you should. It’s a quick read, propelled by Hancock’s fine writing style. The characters are engaging and never dip into the pastiche category — even when you can recognize the influences that inspired them, you are always aware of the differences that make them stand on their own.

Highly recommended!

Awards Season!

nerf-gunIt’s that time of year, when folks are voting on various awards. In the New Pulp field, it’s the Pulp Factory Awards (voted upon by members of the Pulp Factory group) and the Pulp Ark Awards (voted upon by anybody and everybody). I’m thrilled to be on the Pulp Ark ballot several times and wish my buddy George Sellas luck in both sets of awards (he’s nominated for Best Interior Art over at the Pulp Factory & he’s got four nominations in the Pulp Ark Awards). I sent in my votes yesterday so I’m like everyone else at this point — just waiting to see who wins. There’s so much New Pulp stuff out there right now that it’s almost unbelievable. Just ten years ago, I thought we’d never see this kind of thing again. The changing technologies have allowed small and medium presses to compete much more effectively and that’s great for everyone, I think.

I’ve been kind of busy, trying to finish off an editing job for Radio Archives while also working on Lazarus Gray Volume 4 and reviewing the first couple of stories that have come in for Tales of The Rook Volume 2. Tomorrow I’ll be recording episode 18 of The Shadow Fan and it’s going to be a packed episode — got a lot of commentary from Shadow scholar Anthony Tollin to share, as well as my reviews of “The Thunder King,” Masks # 3 and The Shadow: The History and Mystery of the Radio Program, 1930-1954. I’m also hoping to debut the first segment of Tommy Hancock’s review portion but we’ll see if that happens or if it’s pushed off to next week. Tommy’s a remarkably busy guy, too!

Currently reading Dillon and the Pirates of Xonira by Derrick Ferguson. So far, so good, but that’s to be expected from Derrick. He’s a terrific writer! You really can’t go wrong with any of the Dillon books but my personal favorite story is “Dillon and the Bad-Ass Belt Buckle,” which is from Four Bullets for Dillon. Check it out!

 

 

 

Let’s Chat, Shall We?

black-and-white-robert-downey-jr-sherlock-holmes-Favim.com-412789A whole bunch of things to talk about today so let’s all settle down and get started, shall we?

The Shadow Fan Episode 17 is now live — this time around I look at all the various projects that have had the title “The Shadow Strikes.” We talk about the 1937 movie, the 1964 Belmont novel and the 1989 DC Comics series. I don’t want to give away too much but I’ll say this: two are snooze-fests and one is a classic.

Thanks so much to all of you who visit my blog on a regular basis. This month set an all-time record for visits to the site and I appreciate all the time you’ve spent reading my ramblings. The comments on yesterday’s post were great — informative, hilarious and enlightening. I may steal Derrick Ferguson’s description of “sweaty man books” for my own work 😉

Reading The Shadow: The History and Mystery of the Radio Program, 1930-1954 by Martin Grams, Jr. — very interesting book and highly recommended if you have interest in The Shaadow radio program.

Tomorrow I’m debuting a new feature — New Pulp Recommendation of the Week. It was suggested by someone on Twitter and I’m going to give it a go. Basically, every week I pick a New Pulp book and tell you about, encouraging you to give it a try if you haven’t already. Stay tuned!

Tommy Hancock’s YesterYear novel is being turned into a roleplaying game. I’m so jealous! I’ve wanted to do that with my characters for years. One of these days….

Starting to firm up appearances for 2013. So far, it looks like I’ll be at Avalon Comics in Macon, Georgia for Free Comic Book Day; at the Georgia Literary Festival in November and somewhere in-between I hope to return to the Crossroads Writers Conference. Pulp Ark still looks unlikely.

Publishing Updates, Pulp Ark Awards & The Evil of Leviathan

20120512-185602.jpgI’m now over 5,000 words into the second story for Lazarus Gray Volume Four, which means the entire book is over 43,000 words long at this point. I think it’s going to end up being a great book, carrying on themes I introduce in Volume Three. It also features appearances by Thunder Jim Wade, Doctor Satan, The Darkling, Eidolon and lots more. It’s pretty freakin’ epic, if I do say so, myself. The scary guy accompanying this post is named Leviathan and he’s the central bad guy in the Thunder Jim Wade crossover story (and if you’ve read the story that ran in The New Adventures of Thunder Jim Wade you’ve already seen some of what Leviathan can do).

I had a conversation with Pro Se EiC Tommy Hancock and got some semi-confirmed dates for things. He isn’t sure if Lazarus Gray Volume 3 or Gravedigger will be out first, but one of them should be here in March. The other will debut in April. Then, in May, we’ll get The Rook Volume Two – Special Edition. So it could be quite the Spring for Reese Unlimited! There was some talk about debuting one of those books in February but Pro Se has another major launch going on in that month and Tommy doesn’t want my book to get lost in that hoopla.

Today is the last day for Pulp Ark Awards Nominations! If you haven’t sent in your nominations, PLEASE do so today. Only those who nominate will get to vote on the final ballot. Whether you vote for me or not (though I hope you do), please send in your nominations and celebrate the works of your favorite writers & artists! All you have to do is send your nominations to proseproductions@earthlink.net. If you want to cast your nominations and votes for me, I’d really appreciate if you nominated Die Glocke for Best Novel, The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Two for Best Collection/Anthology and me for Best Author. Don’t forget to nominate George Sellas for Best Cover and Best Interior Art for The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Two! I’d really appreciate it if you guys would take five minutes to submit these nominations — and then you’ll be able to vote on the final ballot!

Hump Day Happenings

goth_girlSo the past few days have been interesting. I finished off an editing job for Radio Archives, took some big steps towards finishing off the Liberty Girl project, received a lot of awesome goodies from Tommy Hancock in my email and then got some very exciting news about the potential Rook animated project! Unfortunately, I can’t talk about the news yet but keep your fingers crossed ’cause it could be really, really cool!

I’ve been considering doing something new soon — something very “un-pulp.” I’ve thought about working more on the Rabbit Heart sequel but I think I might want something completely original. We’ll see. It’s nothing very clear yet, more just a desire than an idea.

In other news, I’ve been reading several Judge Dredd things lately and really enjoying them. Judge Death has very quickly moved into my list of all-time favorite villains. Death has such a simple origin and premise – but I’ve found that many of the really classic characters are like that. They’re NOT overly complicated and I think that adds to the iconic nature they have.  So far, I’ve read the Brian Bolland collection, the Dredd vs. Death! novel and I’m working my way through The Complete Case Files Volume 5 now.

Not sure what the next Reese Unlimited project to be published will be. Pro Se has Rook v2, Lazarus Gray v3 and Gravedigger all ready to go into the editing and formatting phase so it’s just a matter of what they decide to do first.

Watched the John Carter movie again this weekend — box office be damned, that’s a good movie.

Usually, there’s some connection between the images I choose to go with these posts and their subject matter. Today, not so much. I just like the picture.

 

The Next Big Thing… Is Here!

EmmaWatson-HarryCrowder03The Next Big Thing Blog Tour has been rolling through the Internet for awhile now, moving from one writer’s site to another. The purpose is to not only promote upcoming works but also to help introduce all of you to other authors — who knows? You might find a new favorite series or writer! I was tagged by Bobby Nash and at the end of the post, I’ll tag a few other writers — please check them out!

The rules/questions:

Rules of the Next Big Thing
***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop
over and meet them.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your book?

BR: My next book is GRAVEDIGGER.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

BR: That’s a tough question, to be honest. Gravedigger came about from a wide variety of inspirations — the one that really solidified it for me was the return of Valiant Comics. I’ve always loved their heroes and the tight continuity between their titles — and their recent return has reminded me of that. As a result, I decided that I wanted to add a third series to my shared world of The Rook and Lazarus Gray — a series that would tie everything together. That became Gravedigger.

What genre does your book fall under?

BR: It’s a New Pulp title, with definite Adventure & Horror elements.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

BR: Gravedigger herself… Jennifer Connelly would be great from a physical standpoint, though she’d have to prove she could do an action role. If she couldn’t swing it, then Kate Beckinsale would be good.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

BR: Charity Grace has been given three years to redeem a lifetime of sin.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

BR: Gravedigger will be published by Pro Se Press.

gravedigger_cover_rough_refinedHow long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

BR: I wrote Gravedigger in about three months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

BR: Well, it fits in with the other books in my shared universe — so if you’re a fan of The Rook or The Adventures of Lazarus Gray,  you’ll enjoy this. If you liked my modern-day slasher horror novel, Rabbit Heart, you’ll also dig this heroine.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

BR: So many things! My love of pulp… of The Shadow… of Valiant… and my interest in kick-ass women with swords. 😉

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

BR: We’ll have a terrific cover by George Sellas — and six lovely interior pieces by Will Meugniot!

So who’s up next? I’m going to tag Tommy Hancock, Ron Fortier, Wayne Reinagel, Derrick Ferguson and Mike Bullock.

gravedigger_06_small

The End

Ah, how I love typing those words: THE END. I did so yesterday, as I finally ended Gravedigger’s first novel. I think it turned out pretty well but the ultimate judges will, of course, be the readers. I was able to work The Rook and Lazarus Gray into guest-starring roles, featured a whole host of Sovereign history courtesy of Tommy Hancock and even managed cameos by a bunch of supporting characters from New Pulp universe — Assistance Unlimited, Inspector Cord and various staff members of the Sovereign Museum all pass through the book. Even with all the tight continuity, I still hope that it will stand alone for those readers who don’t follow the rest of my universe.

Pro Se EiC Tommy Hancock says he wants the book out by Pulp Ark 2013, which means April or earlier. With the story itself complete, we just have to get in the cover and interior pieces (by George Sellas & Will Meugniot, respectively) and then get the whole thing edited and formatted. Given all the books Pro Se has in the pipeline, April 2013 is pretty quick.

Next up for me is a licensed project, where I novelize a graphic novel. Turning it from a visual story to a prose one should be an interesting experience. I’m hoping (fingers crossed) to be able to do this project in the month of December and have it finished before the end of the year.

Now I’m off to testify in court — it’s an assault case and I’m one of the witnesses. Fun day, I’m sure.