Tag: Van Plexico

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!

From the Vault: My Introduction to New Pulp (Guest Blog)

The Rook COVERToday we’re turning the blog over to Mark Beaulieu, whom I’ve known since our shared days at Marvel Volume One (MV1), a huge fanfiction project that now seems to have existed in some long-ago semi-mythical era where talented writers argued over rules and regulations of a completely fictitious fanfiction “company”… and worked together to weave a tapestry of epic excitement.

Or something like that.

Anyway, Mark is a longtime friend and I was thrilled when he asked if he could contribute a guest blog post to my site — and I was even more humbled when I read the words that follow. Without further ado, here’s Mark Beaulieu:

I remember where I was when I read the first volume of The Rook. There was construction going on at the University of Hartford while I was teaching a summer course. I couldn’t go to the normal cafeteria for lunch so I’d lug over to the Hawk’s Nest (a cafeteria in the student dorms). I’d read The Rook while eating lunch and eating Buffalo chicken wraps.

Mmmmm….sorry I’ll get back on track.

I was blown away by Barry’s writing style. I had read some of his fan fiction, but this was much better. He had really grown as a writer. The Rook was a well-developed character that engaged in high action stories with supernatural baddies. And I’m a sucker for Nazi villains. I blame the old Captain America comics I read as a kid and of course the great Raiders of the Lost Ark movie (easily one of the best movies ever made). After reading this book, I looked for more like it. I got the next few Rook books and The Damned Thing. I enjoyed them all.

Barry’s books led me to look at other titles. In particular, How the West was Weird volumes 1 and 2. I absolutely love the second volume of that series. The first volume is good, but the second is much stronger, in my opinion. This introduced me to the work of Derrick Ferguson and Ron Fortier. The Sebastian Red stories in those two volumes are absolutely fantastic. Ron’s story in the second volume is also great. I knew Tony Wilson and Mark Bousquet before seeing their stories in the second volume, but Tony’s story is my favorite one in the anthology. It’s a Jonah Hex type story and it’s excellent. Mark’s story is part of a much bigger story arc and works on its own, but the later stories really add to that universe.

Now I’ve started copy editing for Pro Se Productions and I’m really enjoying that. I wouldn’t be editing for anyone if it wasn’t for Barry’s Rook books. This may bother Van Allen Plexico, but I was reading his books in a vacuum. I didn’t realize he was part of a larger movement. I really enjoyed Van’s Sentinel books and I’ll buy and read anything Van writes, but I was buying those as a friend and didn’t pay attention to any discussion of new pulp. Sorry Van. I also read Mark Bousquet’s stuff and I owe him for being a major supporter of my writing (what little I’ve done) but again I was reading his stuff in a vacuum. I feel strongly that I owe it to friends to buy their stuff if I like it and I’ve always enjoyed Mark’s and Van’s books. Heck, Dreamer’s Syndrome hit every button I could ask for as a reader. I couldn’t believe how good that book was when I read it. There aren’t many books I enjoyed more than that. However, I was reading these without understanding there was a larger world of small press books. It was really Barry’s The Rook that opened my eyes to the larger world of new pulp.

And I think my life is better for it.

Mark Beaulieu is the writer/creator of the upcoming Ulysses King anthology from Pro Se.

New Pulp Recommendation: Metalgod

MetalGodEvery so often, I like to focus on a New Pulp book that I think all of you should give a look at. Sometimes, they’re  brand-new releases, sometimes they’re be a little older. These recommendations aren’t in the form of a straight review. I’ll be doing overviews of the books, explaining why I think it’s worth your time to look into it, which is slightly different.

Today we’re looking at Metalgod, which is book 7 in Van Allen Plexico’s Sentinels series. Here’s what the publisher has to say about the book:

In the wake of the Worldmind/Stellarax Crisis, the Sentinels have scattered to the four winds. But there’s little time to relax and recover, as the dangers facing Earth have never been greater. Esro and Mondrian cross the depths of space in a desperate attempt to stave off galactic civil war, while Pulsar and her sister work to assemble an entirely new team of heroes back on Earth. Now time is short, and the supply of heroes shorter, and enemies old and new lurk at every turn; foremost among them the deadly mechanoid from space–the being known only as METALGOD! Presenting the first volume in the new SENTINELS story arc, “Order Above All”–where action and adventure await at every turn, and nothing is quite what it seems! Interior illustrations by Chris Kohler; cover art by Chris Kohler and Sarah White.

That’s a pretty good description of what you’ll get here! I’ve enjoyed the Sentinels series and think that the plotting, pacing & characterization has improved as the series has gone on. What you’re basically getting with this is 1970s & early 80s-style Marvel superheroics, particularly of the Jim Starlin Warlock & Captain Marvel/David Michelinie Avengers variety. If you like that period of comics’ history, you’ll enjoy this. Some of the dialogue is expository and there definitely parts of the story that I could predict with my eyes closed but that’s not a bad thing — part of the joy of pulp *is* the occasional bout of familiarity. And, hell, nobody would read more than five years’ worth of superhero comics if you didn’t like comfort — because after awhile, the stories begin to feel a bit familiar. What Van does do to mix it up a bit is that he injects a strong dose of modern-day sci-fi into the mix. It’s not quite Star Wars or Star Trek but you can feel the space opera drenching the page.

This particular arc starts off with a lot of stuff that reminds me of Marvel’s Kree Empire but Van is able to inject enough freshness into it that it never feels like a pastiche. The inspirations are proudly on display but it also feels unique and exists as it’s own thing. As with all ensemble casts, your interests will veer towards one character over another. I really like Pulsar (and, I suspect, so does Van — she’s right up there next to the logo on the cover and she gets some of the best subplots) but don’t care so much for certain members of the group. With Pulsar, the pose she’s in on the cover makes me wonder if Van was thinking of Ms. Marvel when he created her. I’m a huge Carol Danvers fan but had never really put that thought together until I saw her pose here.

Can you jump in with this book? I’d cautiously say yes. Van does enough back-story to catch you up but there are a *lot* of characters and despite there being a lengthy introduction to the main ones in the front of the book, there were still plenty that aren’t included there. It had been a little while since I read a Sentinels book and I was a bit lost at times, trying to recall who certain folks were, sending back to the list of characters in the front. But after about a hundred pages, I was back into the groove and things went well from there.

I know a lot of folks don’t like the pulp/comics comparisons but I see no problem with it. Both are meant to be, at their heart, escapist entertainment — “disposable enjoyment,” as it were. Comics helped replace pulps… and now Van is taking the beating heart of comics (the superhero story) and transporting it back into the prose world of the pulps. And he’s going it very, very well.

Jump aboard the Sentinels train today — you won’t regret it.

Working for the Weekend

20121205-172701.jpgIt’s Friday! I’m very happy to be able to type those words, believe me. We’re now a week away from the 2013 Georgia Literary Festival and I’m thrilled about that, as well. I’m the co-chair of the Planning Committee and it has been a lot more work than I’d ever imagined. Still, November 9 will be here before I know it and I’ll be able to say hi to several of my New Pulp friends — Van Plexico, Sean Taylor, Bobby Nash and Andrea Judy will all be here as part of our Thriller Track! For those of you who are in the area, the Festival is FREE TO ATTEND! It will take place in downtown Milledgeville and if you’re a fan of New Pulp, you can look forward to the following panels:

Noon
Thriller Track: Rise of the New Pulp- Sean Taylor, Van Plexico, Andrea Judy & Barry Reese in Georgia College Library Information Technology Center

1:00 pm
Thriller Track: Blending Genres- The Hardboiled P.I. in Different Eras- Alex Hughes, Sean Taylor & Bobby Nash in Georgia College Museum Education Room

2:00 pm
Thriller Track: Heroes from Beyond- Van Plexico in Old Governor’s Mansion Education Room

3:00 pm
Thriller Track: The Graphic World of Comic Books- Bobby Nash & Sean Taylor in Mary Vinson Memorial Library Children’sTheater

4:00 pm
Thriller Track: Georgia (and Murder) On My Mind- Alex Hughes, Barry Reese, Bobby Nash & Andrea Judy in Old Governor’s Mansion Education Room

And, of course, there will be MANY, MANY MORE panels and authors — but those are the ones that would be of most appeal to my New Pulp friends.

I’ve been continuing to work hard on the current Lazarus Gray story and it’s going very well. I’m definitely on track to complete this one next week! After that, I need to work on the Sherlock Holmes novel and then I’ve got some Phantom Detective ideas that are kicking around. I recently acquired three of the Regency reprints that were published in the Sixties and I plan to read those ASAP – I picked up The Trail to Death, Yellow Shadows of Death and Stones of Satan. Most of my Phantom Detective knowledge comes from reference works, comic books and the Phantoms in Bronze collection that Altus Press published. I want to read some more stories before I delve into really handling the character myself. I don’t believe in writing a pre-existing character without feeling like I have a really strong grasp on his history and personality. I’m still not there yet with PD but I’m getting close.

I’m supposed to be the guest on tonight’s recording of The Book Cave with Art Sippo — and I believe Tommy Hancock will be guesting as well. We’ll be talking about the recent release of Liberty Girl. It just received its first review, courtesy of Paul J. Fausz Jr. He gave it 4 out of 5 stars and wrote:

Interesting. Did not get to see the comics when this came out originally. Fun read. Would recommend if into Doc Savage, pulps, comic books etc.

Thanks, Paul! Reviews are always appreciated — and I’m glad you enjoyed this one. I wondered how it would play to people who didn’t read the comics and I’m glad to know you weren’t lost. 🙂

Take Care, folks!

Bullet Points – Kapow!

rook_v2_domino_lady_rough It’s another day here at Ye Olde Blog so let’s jump right in to the various things that are running through my head:

So… I had hoped to be finished with my Weird Western tale yesterday but that didn’t happen. Will today be the lucky day? We’ll see!

I’ve been quite enjoying my new Tumblr account. It’s mostly a collection of quotes and pictures that happen to inspire my muse, so you get to see lots of comic book art, some pulp stuff, tons of pretty girls and quotes that have special meaning to or inspire me. If you’re a tumblr kind of person, feel free to look me up.

Supposed to be a guest on The White Rocket Podcast later today — Van Plexico usually records these a couple of weeks before they’re released so I’ll keep all of you appraised of its actual release date. I’ve know Van since the late Nineties so I’m sure the discussion will be an interesting one.

My newest work on The Avenger is now available through all online retailers – The Avenger: Roaring Heart of the Crucible contains a story entitled “The Box of Flesh” which is a sequel of sorts to my Pulp Ark Award-winning “The Devil’s Workmen” from 2011’s The Avenger: The Justice. Inc. Files. Writing The Avenger was one of my lifelong dreams – now if I could only get my hands on The Shadow, I’d have accomplished all my pulp fiction fantasies. Are you listening, Conde Nast?

Our art today is by the incredible George Sellas and comes from The Rook Volume Two Special Edition – it features the lovely but dangerous Domino Lady! I hope you enjoy it.

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!

Sunday Talk

bubbleJust got a few things to share today — and then I’ll be off to begin preparing for the Super Bowl. Though I’m primarily a Falcons fan, I’ll definitely be watching and hoping for a great game. I’m pulling for the Ravens!

I’m currently reading a couple of Shadow novels — the first two books that brought Margo Lane into the pulp series. She’d been on the radio since ’37, of course, but it wasn’t until 1942 that Walter Gibson was directed to write her into the novels. I’ve always had mixed feelings about Margo. Like a lot of Shadow fans, I kind of resent the way she’s elbowed her way into being The Shadow’s primary aide. As a result, we hardly ever see Harry Vincent, Burbank, Shrevvy, etc. and that’s a real shame. On the other hand, The Shadow stories can be a real sausage-fest at times so having the lovely Miss Lane around isn’t a bad thing. She’s quite capable and entertaining, as well, so it’s not like she doesn’t have skills.

On the writing side of things, still working on Lazarus Gray Volume Four. I’m probably going to call this one “Leviathan Rising,” since that’s the title of the 38,000 word story that kicks off the volume.

Our first submission for Tales of The Rook Volume Two has come in! Congrats to Russ Anderson for winning this distinguished prize 😉

In case I haven’t mentioned it before, the Georgia Literary Festival will be in my hometown of Milledgeville, Georgia this year — so on the weekend of November 9, 2013, there will be a lot of familiar faces to New Pulp fans in the area: Bobby Nash, James Palmer, Van Plexico, Andrea Judy and Sean Taylor are all going to be there with me so make plans to be there!