A Plethora of Things

michael-fassbenderThings have been pretty busy lately – mostly with my “real” job. I’m in the process of taking several classes related to it and they’ve been seriously cutting into my writing time. Despite that, I’ve done a bit of work lately on two different projects – one of which is an idea from my old pal Jim Beard and the other is a superhero story featuring several characters that have appeared in my Reese Unlimited universe. Neither is very far along but I’ve tried to add a little bit here and there as time permits.

I recently finished reading King Kong vs. Tarzan by Will Murray. I’d give it 3 stars out of 5. First off, this is not written from a pulpy mindset so if you’re expecting a lot of action like in Will Murray’s Doc Savage novels, you’re in for a surprise. Tarzan is mentioned frequently but doesn’t physically appear until about page 262 (the story is 455 pages). Most of the book is centered around the travel over the ocean with Kong in the hold of the ship – ever wondered how the crew managed to keep Kong in line, keep him fed and deal with his bowel movements? This book will explain it all to you. Characterizations are solid but the story could have been twice as good if it had been half as long. I would recommend this to hardcore Kong fans or Tarzan completionists but not any others.

Something very cool will be coming your way in about a week’s time so hang in there. Ye Old Marketing Machine is about to go into overdrive. You have been warned!

Updates Galore

black_terror_01_smallHello, my friends!

Though things might have seemed quiet as of late, work has been going on behind the scenes. Within the next few weeks you should be receiving the first installment of The Dark Gentleman’s e-book series and the fifth volume of the Lazarus Gray series. I hope you’ll enjoy both!

I also have word that my Johnny Dollar story, written quite a ways back, will finally be seeing print from Moonstone! I had a blast writing it so I’m glad you’ll finally be able to read it.

I’m also working hard on wrapping up the crossover novel within the next month!

And I’m proud to say that I’ve been spending a good bit of time lately doing proof-editing on Will Murray’s The Sinister Shadow, which will not only be the 200th volume of the Doc Savage series but also returns The Shadow to the prose world that he best belongs in! I was deeply honored to be a part of this project and I think all of you will enjoy the end product. I know that I loved it!

I’m also hard at work on a new project that will feature The Black Terror. I’ve written this public domain superhero a few times in the past but this will be the first time that he’s headlined a project of mine. The cover will be by Anthony Castrillo with interior pieces by George Sellas! One of them accompanies this post, in fact — showing The Black Terror alongside Lazarus Gray. These two met in one of the Lazarus Gray volumes and I think you’ll enjoy what I have in store for The Black Terror… I tweaked his origins a bit in his Lazarus appearance and I think the new elements add some real depth to him.

Hope you agree!

In addition to all of the above, George Sellas is also designing two new pulp heroes for me that will star in their own projects in 2016!

I’ll be back soon with more news – and hopefully a few announcements that will knock your socks off.

New Pulp Recommendation of the Week: Skull Island by Will Murray

Doc Savage Skull Island cover 600Every Friday I focus on a New Pulp work that I think merits your attention. Sometimes it will be something that’s brand new, other times I’ll look at something that’s a few years old. This week, I’m encouraging you to check out Doc Savage: Skull Island by Will Murray.

Let’s start by taking a look at how the publisher describes the book:

Doc Savage returns from his Fortress of Solitude to discover the cold corpse of King Kong lying on his doorstep. He stuns his men when he reveals that he knows this creature. The story of how Doc Savage first ventured to Skull Island back in 1920 comprises this epic adventure of how Doc Savage first became the Man of Bronze!

Now I’m not a fan of book descriptions that give everything away but I have to say that a book pairing Doc Savage with King Kong deserves more than a three sentence summary! Anyway, that does accurately describe what you’ll get here — it’s the titanic meeting between one of pulp’s greatest heroes and the famous giant from Skull Island.

Let me say that I grew up with Doc Savage and as a kid, I loved the characters and the concepts. But as I grew older, I felt that Lester Dent’s writing was far more juvenile than his pulp contemporaries and I’d put Walter Gibson, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Paul Ernst, Norvell Page and Robert E. Howard as being light years above and beyond anything that Lester Dent ever wrote. That’s just my personal opinion, of course! Now, Will Murray has been writing new Doc Savage novels for years, most of them based upon outlines or notes left behind by Dent — I’ve often wondered where Dent ended and Murray began, because Will is usually able to perfectly capture the tone and style of Dent’s work… which, considering my ambivalence for Dent’s writing, isn’t always a good thing.

This book, however, is wholly original to Murray — and if this is any indication of what he’s capable of when freed from the shackles of writing a pastiche, all I have to say is that I wish he’d cut loose more often! This is the best Doc Savage novel I have ever read and that’s coming from someone who’s read well over a hundred of the books, not even counting Murray’s pastiches. There’s honest-to-god characterization here! Most Doc novels replace true characterization with well-worn tropes (Monk & Ham are arguing! Johnny just said super-amalgamated! etc.) but this is the first time I felt like I was really being taken inside Doc’s screwed-up head. I say screwed-up because I’ve always thought he was an awkward man-child produced by an upbringing that at best could be described as cruel and unusual… and that upbringing is repeatedly brought to the fore in this novel, as even Doc himself wonders what kind of father would have done that to him.

Speaking of Doc’s father, the scenes between the two of them echo with restrained emotion. It’s a testimony to the skill of Murray that you can feel the tension between these two men, both of whom are too damned awkward to show true emotion 99% of the time. They obviously feel passion and concern for each other & others… but it’s so tightly restrained that they both border on the fringe of madness. I’m sure some Doc fans will bristle at that description but I’ve always felt that Doc was just a healthy push and shove away from having an emotional breakdown.

The pacing of the story is wonderful — I felt like it was providing forward momentum even when the characters are just hanging out on a boat. There are some scenes here — like the “test” on the beach where Doc tries to see if he can hold his breath longer than his opponent — that I think I’ll always remember. And while I wondered if I would enjoy a Doc story where the Fabulous Five are mostly absent, I actually found that I preferred it. Unlike The Shadow’s aides (many of whom I really, really like), most of the Fabulous Five have never been remotely as interesting to me as Doc himself… freeing him from their bickering presence allowed me to truly immerse myself in Doc’s mindset. Again, if Murray could do this on a regular basis, I’d be all over a ‘young Doc’ series that put the emphasis on Doc as the star attraction like this did.

I will say that I groaned inwardly every time ‘Stormalong’ Savage was mentioned. Doc’s grandfather is alternately referred to Stormalong and Stormy throughout and I absolutely loathe it. Makes me think of Poopdeck Pappy from Popeye every time. Their last name is ‘Savage’ — you don’t need to put anything ‘cool’ in front of it! Indiana Jones isn’t called Indiana Prometheus, for Pete’s sake. The rule should be ordinary name/cool name, not cool name/cool name. Though, let’s be frank here: Stormalong is so far into uncool that it’s just silly.

Aside from that relatively minor quibble, this novel is a tour de force that not only made Doc exciting for me for the first time in years, it actually made me feel like re-reading some of the older novels, which I’ve avoided for quite awhile.

Hands-down, a must-read for pulp fans. I truly, truly enjoyed it.

Just Another Manic Monday

Gravedigger shortly after her rebirth.
Gravedigger shortly after her rebirth.

Busily going through the edits I received from Pro Se this weekend — making changes here and there to the Gravedigger manuscript. We’re still hoping to get this one out there before the end of the month so I need to put this on the front burner for now. If I get a chance, I can also wrap up the first draft of Lazarus Gray Volume Four today. I’m in the final major chapter now but there will probably be a wrap-up scene or two to follow, plus a little essay I’d like to include.

Very proud of my partner George Sellas’ strong showing in the Pulp Ark Awards. He’s still up for Best Interior Art in the Pulp Factory Awards, too, so maybe he’ll pick up even more hardware before Awards Season is over this year. Fingers crossed!

I’ve talked before about the differences in the two major pulp awards and this year shows it off again — Die Glocke wins Best Novel in the Pulp Ark but wasn’t even nominated in the Pulp Factory! Bizarre.

Anyway, I’m reading the new Will Murray Doc Savage book right now and I’m about six chapters in. I’ll do a full review of it when I’m done but so far, so good. I still loathe the “Stormalong Savage” name that Doc’s grandfather has been saddled with but overall, I’m enjoying this quite a bit. I think it’s refreshing to see more of Will Murray’s natural style showing through — I find that preferable to the Lester Dent pastiche that he normally does. If it stays this level of quality, I think it’s the best Will Murray Doc by a mile and a half.

Of course, I have a lot of book left to read! 🙂

This week’s The Shadow Fan should be a packed episode — I’m expecting another installment of Calling Burbank from Tommy Hancock, plus I have some Shadow news to share — along with reviews of The Ghost of the Manor, the first issue of ACG’s Pulp Action and a long look at the Duende History of The Shadow Magazine! Should be lots of fun.

Take Care, Everyone!

A Mixed Bag of Rambling Thoughts

The cover to The Shadow Year One # 2, from Dynamite Comics. Art by Alex Ross.
The cover to The Shadow Year One # 2, from Dynamite Comics. Art by Alex Ross.

Welcome back to Ye Olde Blog! I have a lot of things rattling around in my brain today so let’s get to it, shall we?

Uploaded episode 22 of The Shadow Fan Podcast this morning — if you’re a fan of The Shadow (and if you’re not, why the hell aren’t you?), you can join me in reviewing “The Devil Master” (September 15, 1941) and the first issue of Dynamite’s The Shadow Year One series. It’ll be a fun 40 minutes, I promise you. It actually ends up being a heavy “Margo Lane” episode because of the major role she plays in both of the featured reviews this week. I like the Margo character but I have mixed feelings about how important she’s become to the overall Shadow mythos.

Ordered Doc Savage: Skull Island by Will Murray yesterday. I’m curious to see this match-up between Doc and Kong. I’ll post a review once I’ve read it.

I’ve started writing the final chapter of Lazarus Gray Volume Four, though there may be a wrap-up chapter or epilogue to follow.

Agreed to take part in a Weird Western anthology that Mechanoid Press is putting out so I’ll be working on that as soon as I’m done with Lazarus Gray and Tales of The Rook 2.

Rabbit Heart & The Damned Thing will both be back in print within three months and both will be coming out from my Reese Unlimited imprint at Pro Se Press. After talking to Ron Hanna of Wild Cat Books, it was decided that my Ki-Gor book for them will also fall out of print. There are not plans to bring it or Guan-Yin back into print so you need to order ’em soon if you want ’em. I do want to make it clear that I wish Wild Cat Books the very best and hope that they’ll get back to printing new books soon. The New Pulp market misses them!




Episode 4 of The Shadow Fan Podcast was released yesterday and I continue to be blown away by the support the show has received from The Shadow community. I’m trying to line up a few guests for future shows but it’s proving to be harder than anticipated. A couple of folks have proven difficult to contact via email and in another case, I’ve been unable to find a contact for an author that I’d really like to interview. In the meantime, I’m going to continue flying solo with reviews and news items concerning The Shadow.

Spent yesterday writing an animation script for The Rook. Nothing may come of it but it was still an interesting experience. It was just for a short 3-minute thing but we’ll cross our fingers, right?

Back to Gravedigger today — I still want to finish this book by the end of the month so I can focus on a licensed project that really should be turned in by January. So busy….

I’ve seen two pencil sketches from Will Meugniot for the Gravedigger book — gorgeous stuff!

Just finished Will Murray’s latest Doc Savage novel. It was okay, certainly not my favorite of Will’s Doc novels but far from the worst, too. It had some very enjoyable segments.