Another Rave Review!

The new Gravedigger book continues to score positive reviews! FunTony47 posted the following on Amazon:

Thanks to the three year time limit imposed by The Voice, we find Charity and friends still kicking butt but also preparing for her judgement. Nope not gonna spoil the fun. Read it to find out how she did, redeeming her soul.

Once again we get lots of action as well as plenty of lopped off body parts. Kind of sad for me as I have really enjoyed this series.

Hoping Mr. Reese will let us peek in as Charity helps The Voice choose the next to hold down the Gravedigger identity. Maybe Charity can pop up in future books. He says to keep an eye open so I will.

Overall great book and a fitting conclusion to Gravedigger.

Thanks so much! I love Charity and I’m glad you liked the wrap-up. Will we see stories of other Gravediggers? Time will tell…

Our art today is by Will Meugniot and comes from Volume One.

My Ten Favorite Comic Book Artists

perezYeah, I like lists.

Anyway, in the past I’ve listed out my favorite Spider-Man writers, my favorite Spidey villains, my favorite classic and new pulp heroes & villains… heck, I even listed out my ten favorite pulp-inspired comics.

Today we’re looking at my top 10 favorite comic book artists. These are guys who always excite me when I hear their names are attached to various projects.

So let’s go!

10. Steve Rude – The Dude first came to my attention when he was working on Nexus. Loved the way he depicted the entire cast and he’s really underrated in the way that he draws facial expressions. The guy’s a master, period.

9. Jim Aparo – Aparo was the definitive Batman artist for me in the Seventies and I enjoyed his work on the Batman and the Outsiders series a lot. He also did great work on Aquaman over the years and in Brave and the Bold, he got to draw just about everybody!

8. Keith Giffen – If I had made this list in the 80s, Giffen would have been much, much higher. I adored his work on Legion of Super-Heroes but eventually his style became much more manic. I still enjoy it a lot (especially on Kirby-influenced projects) but there are times it comes off as a hot mess. Still, I’m always curious when I see his name attached to a project.

7. Will Meugniot – Will became one of my faves when he was doing DNAgents back in the 80s but I have continued to follow him through his work on Vanity and Femforce. He’s a remarkably talented guy and I’ve loved that I’ve had the chance to work with him on my own books.

6. Gene Colan – Colan was a master of atmosphere. I adored his pencils on Tomb of Dracula, Batman and Night Force. His work on other titles was sometimes a little odd in ways but I still loved his work. I mean, I would never have put him on Iron Man or Daredevil, for instance, and yet his pencils were so awesome that I didn’t even mind that he wasn’t a traditional superhero artist. He did work well on Batman, though.

5. Ivan Reis – The newest name on my list, Reis has really impressed me with his work on titles like Blackest Night, Green Lantern, Justice League and Aquaman. He’s amazing!

4. Chris Batista – I first noticed him on Legion of Super-Heroes and he’s actually my favorite Legion artist because he’s able to perfectly capture their youthful nature. I also really dug his work on Booster Gold and an all-too-brief run on Justice League. Why DC or Marvel hasn’t snatched him up for a major title is beyond me. I think he’d really rock on a New Gods revival, too.

3. John Byrne – Back in the day, Byrne was a stud. I followed him from X-Men to Fantastic Four to Alpha Flight to Superman… At some point, I think his work became somewhat less appealing to me but I still enjoy it. Aside from his work on Fantastic Four, I generally prefer him as an artist and not a writer but he’s capable of doing fine work on both sides of the creative fence.

2. Alan Davis – Captain Britain. Excalibur. The Nail. Batman. X-Men. Superboy’s Legion. I could go on and on. I am mad about his artwork. It’s fun, it’s sleek, it’s everything I want from a superhero artist. I’ve bought books simply because he drew them, even when I knew I’d dislike the story. He’s simply that good.

1. George Perez – The king of superhero artists in my opinion. He’s known for his crowd scenes — and they are awesome — but he’s also a fine character-based storyteller. Look at his run on New Teen Titans or Wonder Woman for proof. And unlike some artists, I find his later work to be just as good as the older stuff… Legion of 3 Worlds, his Avengers run with Kurt Busiek and his work on Worlds’ Finest are all fine examples of his more recent books that I think are great. For me, I’ll always associate him with the Titans first and foremost, then his work on Crisis. He also drew a fine, fine run of JLA.

Updates!

gravedigger_05I’m over 35,000 words into the final Gravedigger novel and I hope to finish it before the end of November. This one is going very well but it’s bittersweet… a few characters die and we get to see a number of mysteries explained in full. Given the nature of the Gravedigger legacy, there are still tales that could be told about Charity and others but I do want to finish up the essential plot of Charity’s redemption with this one. George Sellas will be returning to do the cover, as he did with the first two books.

I’m also working a bit on a Babylon story that will introduce a spacefaring hero to my pulp adventure universe. The character was designed by George Sellas and I have Steven Wilcox doing some interior pieces for it.

Before the end of the year, I want to post a free Lazarus Gray Christmas story as my way of thanking all of you for your support.

And after all that… a new series will launch, one that’s set in 1964. It will be a sequel of sorts to to another of my continuing series but this one will be steeped in the high-adventure spy genre popularized by James Bond, the Man from UNCLE, etc. — character designs and interior art is by Chris Batista with a great Steven Novak cover. More details to come on that one soon! I’m very excited about it!

Our art today comes from the first Gravedigger book and is by Will Meugnio.

My 10 Favorite Comic Book Artists

perezYeah, I like lists.

Anyway, in the past I’ve listed out my favorite Spider-Man writers, my favorite Spidey villains, my favorite classic and new pulp heroes & villains… heck, I even listed out my ten favorite pulp-inspired comics.

Today we’re looking at my top 10 favorite comic book artists. These are guys who always excite me when I hear their names are attached to various projects and over the years I’ve shared their work on my Facebook, on Tumblr, etc.

So let’s go!

10. Steve Rude – The Dude first came to my attention when he was working on Nexus. Loved the way he depicted the entire cast and he’s really underrated in the way that he draws facial expressions. The guy’s a master, period.

9. Jim Aparo – Aparo was the definitive Batman artist for me in the Seventies and I enjoyed his work on the Batman and the Outsiders series a lot. He also did great work on Aquaman over the years and in Brave and the Bold, he got to draw just about everybody!

8. Keith Giffen – If I had made this list in the 80s, Giffen would have been much, much higher. I adored his work on Legion of Super-Heroes but eventually his style became much more manic. I still enjoy it a lot (especially on Kirby-influenced projects) but there are times it comes off as a hot mess. Still, I’m always curious when I see his name attached to a project.

7. Will Meugniot – Will became one of my faves when he was doing DNAgents back in the 80s but I have continued to follow him through his work on Vanity and Femforce. He’s a remarkably talented guy and I’ve loved that I’ve had the chance to work with him on my own books.

6. Gene Colan – Colan was a master of atmosphere. I adored his pencils on Tomb of Dracula, Batman and Night Force. His work on other titles was sometimes a little odd in ways but I still loved his work. I mean, I would never have put him on Iron Man or Daredevil, for instance, and yet his pencils were so awesome that I didn’t even mind that he wasn’t a traditional superhero artist. He did work well on Batman, though.

5. Ivan Reis – The newest name on my list, Reis has really impressed me with his work on titles like Blackest Night, Green Lantern, Justice League and Aquaman. He’s amazing!

4. Chris Batista – I first noticed him on Legion of Super-Heroes and he’s actually my favorite Legion artist because he’s able to perfectly capture their youthful nature. I also really dug his work on Booster Gold and an all-too-brief run on Justice League. Why DC or Marvel hasn’t snatched him up for a major title is beyond me. I think he’d really rock on a New Gods revival, too.

3. John Byrne – Back in the day, Byrne was a stud. I followed him from X-Men to Fantastic Four to Alpha Flight to Superman… At some point, I think his work became somewhat less appealing to me but I still enjoy it. Aside from his work on Fantastic Four, I generally prefer him as an artist and not a writer but he’s capable of doing fine work on both sides of the creative fence.

2. Alan Davis – Captain Britain. Excalibur. The Nail. Batman. X-Men. Superboy’s Legion. I could go on and on. I am mad about his artwork. It’s fun, it’s sleek, it’s everything I want from a superhero artist. I’ve bought books simply because he drew them, even when I knew I’d dislike the story. He’s simply that good.

1. George Perez – The king of superhero artists in my opinion. He’s known for his crowd scenes — and they are awesome — but he’s also a fine character-based storyteller. Look at his run on New Teen Titans or Wonder Woman for proof. And unlike some artists, I find his later work to be just as good as the older stuff… Legion of 3 Worlds, his Avengers run with Kurt Busiek and his work on Worlds’ Finest are all fine examples of his more recent books that I think are great. For me, I’ll always associate him with the Titans first and foremost, then his work on Crisis. He also drew a fine, fine run of JLA.

Lots of Stuff!

gravedigger_04_small_jpgThings are very busy around here so let’s give a run-down on what’s happening:

  1. The Peregrine Omnibus series is continuing with the release of the third volume. I’ve already approved the galleys so it should be out soon!
  2. My Ki-Gor stories that were originally published years ago by Wild Cat Books will be re-released in a new edition by Pro Se. I’ve seen the cover and it is lovely! It’s by Mike Fyles.
  3. Currently about 20% into the third volume of Gravedigger. This one is set in 1939 and resolves the matter of Charity Grace’s three-year tenure as the title hero. Will she be found wanting or has she done enough to remove the burden of sin from her soul? I’m hoping that George Sellas will be back onboard for cover and interiors.
  4. I’m taking some old fanfiction stories of mine and rewriting them to star a new hero, Babylon. I have the interior art pieces by Steven Wilcox already and George Sellas did a nifty color piece of the hero.
  5. Talking to Chris Batista about doing some design work on a new female hero that will debut soon.
  6. Submitted a mummy story to Flinch Books for inclusion in an upcoming anthology – if it meets with their approval, you can expect to see it appear in print before too long!

Our art today is by Will Meugniot and comes from the first volume of the Gravedigger series!

Digging In the Dirt: The Origins of Gravedigger

20140609-095549-35749839.jpgCharity Grace – aka Gravedigger – has appeared in two solo volumes so far and she played a big role in Gotterdammerung, the “crossover” novel that paired her with Lazarus Gray and The Peregrine . She’s become one of my most popular creations, thanks in no small part to the stunning costume design that George Sellas came up with. But where did she come from? What inspirations led her to spring forth from my fevered mind?

What follows is an essay that ran in the first volume of The Adventures of Gravedigger. If you’ve read it before, hopefully you’ll enjoy seeing it again — if it’s your first time, expect a few insights into my creative process. I’ve tweaked it from the original in a few places, removing a link to the blog and altering the name of Max Davies’ costumed identity.

And now on to the main event:

Hello, Faithful Readers! I hope you enjoyed the introduction to Gravedigger, the newest member of my New Pulp universe that began with the arrival of The Peregrine. Since The Peregrine’s first flight back in 2008, I’ve added to the universe with Lazarus Gray, The Dark Gentleman, Guan-Yin, The Claws of The Peregrine and many more.

But none of them are quite like Gravedigger.

To understand how and why I created the character, we first have to go back to the misty past. It was a time of optimism and a surging economy. We were well on the way to electing the first Democratic President since Jimmy Carter. Grunge was filtering its way into the public consciousness.

It was 1992. I was 20 years old and in college, where I was working towards an undergraduate degree in Psychology. Then, as now, I was a huge comic book fan. Then, as now, I was a huge fan of the Valiant Universe. I loved the tight continuity it possessed and the way that little background events and characters would float from book to book, building a cohesive universe.

One of my favorite characters in that universe was Shadowman, who debuted in May 1992. A supernatural hero, Jack Boniface was poisoned by an alien, allowing him to “die” before being resurrected as an avenger of the night. We would later find out that he was only the latest in a long line of Shadowmen. I loved the concept and the series but it eventually faded away with the rest of the Valiant Universe.

But like all good things, it would not stay dead. Shadowman and the rest of the Valiant heroes were recently revived by a new Valiant. The promo art by Patrick Zircher floated around for months before the first issue actually debuted and I adored the revised look of the hero. It got me to thinking… Perhaps I needed to add a new title to my pulp hero collection, one that would serve as a “connector” series. It would have ties to all that had come before and would be the place where fans of The Peregrine or Lazarus Gray could come to get a taste of the greater universe.

I decided I wanted to make the new character a female, to balance out the male-heavy universe that I already had, and that I wanted her to be heavily supernatural as a nod to Shadowman. Like Jack, she would be the latest in a long line of heroes and, as with Shadowman and Lazarus Gray, rebirth would factor large in her origin.

From there, artist George Sellas and I tossed a few ideas back and forth. I had the name Gravedigger but I was afraid it was too masculine for Charity. He convinced me that it could be a neat twist on the name and concept. I told him my idea of tying Charity’s past to Samantha Grace’s origin, which he liked. It not only provided a link to the Lazarus series but also furthered the Grace family’s role in the overall universe.

Once I’d come up with the full origin and George had done his initial character sketch, I thought it would be fun to have a “hand-off” in the story. When I wrote my first Lazarus Gray collection, The Peregrine appeared, as if giving his stamp of approval on the new arrival. With this one, I wanted to have both The Peregrine and Lazarus appear in ways that would bolster Gravedigger but not detract from her starring role. I was inspired by the way Star Trek used to do this – Dr. McCoy from the original series was on the first episode of Next Generation, then Captain Picard from The Next Generation appeared on the first episode of Deep Space Nine, while that space station was a jumping-off point for Star Trek: Voyager when that series began. I thought was a nice wink and nod to the fans.

The decision to use The Headless Horseman in the book came about because I recycle everything. A few years ago, I wrote nearly 20,000 words on a novel I was going to call “Headless.” It was going to be a sequel to Washington Irving’s classic and would introduce a new hero of mine, Mortimer Quinn. I eventually abandoned the project but I always wanted to use parts of that story… so it ended up here. Tying Mortimer to the Gravedigger legacy was easy enough and allowed me to bring the Horseman into the story.

As for Charity’s allies… one thing that I learned from the Lazarus Gray series is that I like having a steady cast of characters to supplement my protagonist. But I didn’t want to create another Assistance Unlimited, who was inspired by Justice, Inc. Instead, I looked to another favorite pulp hero of mine – The Shadow. While Lazarus has a group of partners, The Shadow had a group of agents. There was never any doubt that Harry Vincent and Burbank were lower-ranking than The Shadow. That’s what I set out to do here – Mitchell, Cedric and Li all get their ‘origins’ here and we see what skills they bring to the table. All of them, however, are agents – not partners. Our heroine is the one that stands on center stage during the final conflict.

So where do we go from here? Obviously, the arrival of Mortimer on the last page suggests that there are more stories to be told here. The first Gravedigger book appeared in 2013, with a second in 2014. I hope to continue to update her adventures regularly, just as I have with Lazarus and The The Peregrine.

Speaking of artwork, I have to say thank you to George Sellas, for designing Gravedigger’s look and for the incredibly awesome cover he whipped up. Also, Will Meugniot’s interior illustrations perfectly captured the mood of the story, pairing Charity’s obvious beauty with her deadly nature. Thanks, guys.

Lock your doors, everyone. Gravedigger is hitting the streets.

What’s Going On?

Gravedigger_06_smallThat’s a good question!

I just sent off a mummy story that hopefully will appear in Flinch Books’ RESTLESS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF MUMMY HORROR, an anthology that will also feature work by John Bruening, Sam Gafford, Teel James Glenn, Nancy Hansen and Duane Spurlock. It was an honor to be asked to contribute.

I’ve started work on the third and final volume in the Gravedigger series, as well. This one will be titled KING’S JUDGMENT and will resolve the questions surrounding Charity Grace’s ultimate fate. I hope to have George Sellas back onboard for the cover and art chores on this one.

I also have something involving a new character – Babylon – that will be in the works soon. Steven Wilcox has been working up some nice images, based upon character designs from George Sellas. Stay tuned for more details.

I’ve been told that Lazarus Gray Volume Six should be out before the end of the year — and Volume Seven is written and turned in so hopefully that will appear sometime in the middle of 2017. If I can get Gravedigger written at a quick pace, maybe we could see it next year, too! Fingers crossed.

Our art today is from the interior of the first Gravedigger book and is by Will Meugniot.

Digging In the Dirt: The Origins of Gravedigger

allstarsquadron_homage_clean_smallCharity Grace – aka Gravedigger –  has appeared in two solo volumes so far and she played a big role in the  “crossover” novel that paired her with Lazarus Gray and The Peregrine. She’s become one of my most popular creations, thanks in no small part to the stunning costume design that George Sellas came up with. But where did she come from? What inspirations led her to spring forth from my crowded little mind?

What follows is an essay that ran in the first volume of The Adventures of Gravedigger. If you’ve read it before, hopefully you’ll enjoy seeing it again — if it’s your first time, expect a few insights into my creative process. I’ve tweaked it from the original in a few places, removing a link to the blog and altering the name of Max Davies’ costumed identity.

Our art today is from my buddy George Sellas and is an homage to one of my all-time favorite comic book covers: All-Star Squadron # 1. The original was drawn by Rich Buckler but I think George captured the feel perfectly, replacing the original DC heroes with my own. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

And now on to the main event:

Hello, Faithful Readers! I hope you enjoyed the introduction to Gravedigger, the newest member of my New Pulp universe that began with the arrival of The Peregrine. Since The Peregrine’s first flight back in 2008, I’ve added to the universe with Lazarus Gray, The Dark Gentleman, Guan-Yin, The Claws of The Peregrine and many more.

But none of them are quite like Gravedigger.

To understand how and why I created the character, we first have to go back to the misty past. It was a time of optimism and a surging economy. We were well on the way to electing the first Democratic President since Jimmy Carter. Grunge was filtering its way into the public consciousness.

It was 1992. I was 20 years old and in college, where I was working towards an undergraduate degree in Psychology. Then, as now, I was a huge comic book fan. Then, as now, I was a huge fan of the Valiant Universe. I loved the tight continuity it possessed and the way that little background events and characters would float from book to book, building a cohesive universe.

One of my favorite characters in that universe was Shadowman, who debuted in May 1992. A supernatural hero, Jack Boniface was poisoned by an alien, allowing him to “die” before being resurrected as an avenger of the night. We would later find out that he was only the latest in a long line of Shadowmen. I loved the concept and the series but it eventually faded away with the rest of the Valiant Universe.

But like all good things, it would not stay dead. Shadowman and the rest of the Valiant heroes were recently revived by a new Valiant. The promo art by Patrick Zircher floated around for months before the first issue actually debuted and I adored the revised look of the hero. It got me to thinking… Perhaps I needed to add a new title to my pulp hero collection, one that would serve as a “connector” series. It would have ties to all that had come before and would be the place where fans of The Peregrine or Lazarus Gray could come to get a taste of the greater universe.

I decided I wanted to make the new character a female, to balance out the male-heavy universe that I already had, and that I wanted her to be heavily supernatural as a nod to Shadowman. Like Jack, she would be the latest in a long line of heroes and, as with Shadowman and Lazarus Gray, rebirth would factor large in her origin.

From there, artist George Sellas and I tossed a few ideas back and forth. I had the name Gravedigger but I was afraid it was too masculine for Charity. He convinced me that it could be a neat twist on the name and concept. I told him my idea of tying Charity’s past to Samantha Grace’s origin, which he liked. It not only provided a link to the Lazarus series but also furthered the Grace family’s role in the overall universe.

Once I’d come up with the full origin and George had done his initial character sketch, I thought it would be fun to have a “hand-off” in the story. When I wrote my first Lazarus Gray collection, The Peregrine appeared, as if giving his stamp of approval on the new arrival. With this one, I wanted to have both The Peregrine and Lazarus appear in ways that would bolster Gravedigger but not detract from her starring role. I was inspired by the way Star Trek used to do this – Dr. McCoy from the original series was on the first episode of Next Generation, then Captain Picard from The Next Generation appeared on the first episode of Deep Space Nine, while that space station was a jumping-off point for Star Trek: Voyager when that series began. I thought was a nice wink and nod to the fans.

The decision to use The Headless Horseman in the book came about because I recycle everything. A few years ago, I wrote nearly 20,000 words on a novel I was going to call “Headless.” It was going to be a sequel to Washington Irving’s classic and would introduce a new hero of mine, Mortimer Quinn. I eventually abandoned the project but I always wanted to use parts of that story… so it ended up here. Tying Mortimer to the Gravedigger legacy was easy enough and allowed me to bring the Horseman into the story.

As for Charity’s allies… one thing that I learned from the Lazarus Gray series is that I like having a steady cast of characters to supplement my protagonist. But I didn’t want to create another Assistance Unlimited, who was inspired by Justice, Inc. Instead, I looked to another favorite pulp hero of mine – The Shadow. While Lazarus has a group of partners, The Shadow had a group of agents. There was never any doubt that Harry Vincent and Burbank were lower-ranking than The Shadow. That’s what I set out to do here – Mitchell, Cedric and Li all get their ‘origins’ here and we see what skills they bring to the table. All of them, however, are agents – not partners. Our heroine is the one that stands on center stage during the final conflict.

So where do we go from here? Obviously, the arrival of Mortimer on the last page suggests that there are more stories to be told here. The first Gravedigger book appeared in 2013, with a second in 2014. I hope to continue to update her adventures regularly, just as I have with Lazarus and The The Peregrine.

Speaking of artwork, I have to say thank you to George Sellas, for designing Gravedigger’s look and for the incredibly awesome cover he whipped up. Also, Will Meugniot’s interior illustrations perfectly captured the mood of the story, pairing Charity’s obvious beauty with her deadly nature. Thanks, guys.

Lock your doors, everyone. Gravedigger is hitting the streets.

Gravedigger Gets A New Review!

Gravedigger_06_smallNew Pulp author Percival Constantine was nice enough to leave a review for the Kindle edition of The Adventures of Gravedigger Volume One. Here’s what he had to say:

Ever since I read Reese’s Rabbit Heart, I’ve been looking forward to seeing him tackle more female heroines. There are some similarities between Rabbit Heart’s Fiona Chapman and Gravedigger’s Charity Grace, but ultimately they are both very different characters.

The mythology behind the Gravediggers is so far what I find most fascinating about this new character. I think it was a mistake to include appearances from both the Rook and Lazarus Gray in this book as I was hoping this would be more for establishing Gravedigger as her own character. In the author’s note, Reese does provide a legitimate reason for why he included them, but I still feel having those two appear took something away from Gravedigger’s debut, and those appearances would have been best left for the next book.

That being said, this is still an enjoyable series of adventures and I hope we’ll see more of her in the future.

4 out of 5 stars

Thanks for the kind words, my friend! I’m glad you enjoyed the book but I’m sorry that the guest-appearances by Lazarus Gray and The Peregrine (formerly The Rook) detracted from the story for you. I really wanted to establish the three of them as the core of my pulp adventure universe and having them play off of one another was important to me — Volume Two focuses much more on Charity and her associates, though, so you may find that one more pleasing!

There are some obvious similarities between Fiona Chapman and Charity Grace, as you pointed out, and I like to think that Charity embodies that same archetype that Fiona herself does. As mentioned in Rabbit Heart, she’s definitely a “hot chick with a sword” but I like to think she’s much more than that, as well — just as Fiona was.

Thanks again for the review!

Our art today is by Will Meugniot.

You like me! You really like me!

Got my award in the mail yesterday and I once again want to thank everyone who voted. Gravedigger is a character I’m very proud of and I’m pleased that so many of you have enjoyed her adventures this far.

Also, congratulations to Will Meugniot, who deservedly won Best Interior Art for The Adventures of Gravedigger!

Look for Volume Two soon!

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