ALL PULP FLASHBACK!!! Interviews from ALL PULP’s first three weeks!
AP: Who is Adam Garcia?
AG: Trick question, there are several Adam Garcia’s. But, if you look on IMDB you’ll find at least four. One of them is me. We often battle every few years to determine who will reign supreme, ala Highlander.
I’m Adam Lance Garcia—sometimes Adam L. Garcia—and recently, “That Kid Who Writes the Green Lama.”
AP: Tell us a little about yourself. Family, job, background… you know the routine.
AG: I was born in late 20th Century, 1983 to be exact, and raised in the small town called Brooklyn, NY, just east of Manhattan. My father sold cold cuts. My mother was a homemaker before returning to teaching. Times were simpler back then. The Cold War was cooling. Eddie Murphy was two years away from telling us about how his girl liked to party all the time. The Internet had yet to be invented. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were about to take television by storm. Comic books were printed on substance called “paper.” Simpler times.
My father raised me on comics and movie serials, so I knew who the Green Lama was before I knew who the President was. You think I’m kidding. If you walk into my parents’ living room you’ll find on the wall, in place of family photo, original comic book artwork from artists such as Alex Ross and Shelly Moldoff; in place of fine china, there are maquettes of Captain Marvel, Mighty Mouse, Captain America, etc. Whenever my friends visit they look around and softly say: “Oh. It all makes sense now.” My mom is a saint for putting up with this. Though considering my parent’s first date was McDonald’s and a comic book convention I think she knew what she was getting into. My dad’s a charmer.
I attended Abraham Lincoln High School in south Brooklyn where my main focus was photography, thanks to an incredible teacher named Howard Wallach. My work has been on display at the Brooklyn Museum and across the country. After that I went to film school at New York University. I studied under some amazing professors such as James Gardner and Terence Winter—his show Boardwalk Empire will premiere on HBO very soon.
Currently, I work in television for a daytime show staring a famous female mogul. Not Oprah.
It’s a good thing.
AG: If we count when I was writing the “Adventures of Adam” in my Mead notebook in elementary school, at least twenty years. Two years, professionally.
AP: What got you started writing?
AG: I wanted to impress a girl, so I figured stories about superheroes wouldmake her like me.
Honestly, I really don’t know. That’s kind of like asking a fish why he swims or the bears in Jellystone National Park why they like to steal pic-a-nic baskets. I’ve found notebooks and folders filled with stories from when I was incredibly young. The earliest story I could find was “The Land of Nowhere” from when I was eight. My first attempt at a novel was when I was 16, called Justice’s Kingdom. I had ideas and it seemed natural to write them, there’s not much more to it. I liked telling stories.
It wasn’t until my senior year of college that a light bulb appeared over my head and I realized that I wanted to be a professional writer and, more importantly, that I was halfway decent. It wasn’t just my mom who liked my writing.
Though I will confess, I do try to impress girls with my writing.
AP: Would you say that you found Pulp or did it find you?
AG: I’ve always been aware of pulp. You simply couldn’t grow up in my house and not be, I knew of Doc Savage and the Shadow, the hero pulps, the westeRns, etc., but it wasn’t something I was very well versed in. It wasn’t untIl I met Ron Fortier of Airship 27 Productions at the 2009 New York Comic Con by puRe happenstance that I began really becoming entrenched in the world of pulp.
So I suppose you could say Pulp found me, but I knew it was looking.
AP: I suppose we ought to get down to what people really want to hear about Tell us who The Green Lama is.
Welcome to Green Lama 101.
AG: I think it’s partly due to his increased exposure thanks to Dynamite’s Project: Superpowers and Airship 27’s releases, but I honestly believe it has to do with the fact that Jethro is simply a fascinating character. Of all the pulp heroes out there, Jethro fights for justice solely because of what he believes. For him it’s an issue of faith. He doesn’t want to fight, he’s not looking for revenge—he’s fighting because he truly believes there is no other choice.
AP: Where do you plan to go with the character? Can we expect to find=you still writing Green Lama novels five or even ten years from now?
AG: Green Lama: Unbound is the first of trilogy of novels that takes place after the original pulps (treating them as canon) and will follow a tight continuity, building towards a very definitive ending. At the core of this series are Jethro Dumont and Jean Farrell. Each book will reflect where these two characters are in their relationship.
The next novel is Green Lama: Crimson Circle. In many ways it will be a direct sequel to the Green Lama’s very first pulp story “Case of the Crimson Hand” and will hopefully act as the de facto conclusion to Crossen’s original pulp stories. While Unbound was a major crossover with the Cthulhu Mythos, Crimson Circle is solely a Green Lama story and isn’t so much about the Green Lama facing a new threat, rather his past victories will be coming back to haunt him. All of the Lama’s original associates will appear and not all will survive. I know that might upset some purists, but=as I’ve mentioned, these novels are set after the pulps and won’t go against established canon. I feel that if these stories are to really resonate with readers (both old and new) it is important that Jethro and his ilk to face the darker side of heroism, and paying the price for their actions. (I’ve included a teaser image for the book by artist Mike Fyles exclusively to ALL PULP).
The final novel in the trilogy will be Green Lama: Legacy. Since it’s still two years away I don’t want to spoil too much of this novel, but the story is centered on Jethro coming to terms with his birthright set against the backdrop of the lead up to America’s entering World War II. My goal is to make this novel to both act as the epilogue to the pulp era and the dawn of a new era for the characters.
After that I might be taking a break from the character but I’m considering writing an anthology of Green Lama stories or a novel set during World War II. Let’s call it Green Lama: War Torn for now. It would probably feature stand-alone adventures of Lama working with other pulp and comic heroes at the time fighting on the frontlines. If there’s enough of a demand for it I might write it. With that in mind I do have a very specific direction for the characters. I can tell you where they going to be in 1942, in 1945, in 1950, in 1970, etc. (Be on the lookout for Andrew Salmon’s book for a clue as to what happens to the Lama after the War).
So while I can’t say for certain I’ll be writing Green Lama five years from now, Jethro Dumont will be keeping me busy for at least the next two years or so.
AP: What other pulp characters do you like? And do you have plans to=write stories or novels about them?
AG: I would like one day write Sherlock Holmes, and a few other name characters… I would kill to write the Phantom or Conan, but to be honest none hold my heart like the Green Lama. I do have ideas for a several original characters and stories that will take a more post-modern bent on the pulps.
AP: What’s a typical Day In The Life of Adam Garcia like?
AG: I usually spend my days heavily inebriated beneath the Verrazano Bridge fighting the C.H.U.D.s.
AP: Here’s your chance to give somebody a shoutout or pimp something. Go.
AG:In addition to Crimson Circle, I’m currently working on an original pulp hero called Dock Doyle for Airship 27. Dock Doyle is an examination of the hero pulp genre and works to play against the audience’s expectations. I’ll hopefully get the story to Ron sooner rather than later, before he comes after me.
AG: Someone once told me to add “um’s” and “ah’s” to my interview so as to sound more natural. Rather than place them in interview itself here they all are in order of appearance: “Uh, mm, uh, ahem, ah, uh, yub, nub, eee, chop, yub, nub.”
DG: Yes, that is fairly easy. The recently late Jim Harmon had been editing a series of anthology books of radio “cross-over” stories – e.g., the Whistler meets the Mysterious Traveler, Johnny Dollar visits Duffy’s Tavern, Captain Midnight interacts with Sky King, and so forth. After getting several of these books under his belt, Jim – knowing I was a huge Frankenstein fan — asked me if I’d like to write a story, indeed one possibly with the Frankenstein Monster (there’d been numerous radio adaptations of Frankenstein over the years) meeting some other horror or mystery character, maybe the Hermit or The Shadow. By that time, however, I’d written so many stories, novels, comic books, articles, etc. about the Monster, that I told Jim I was really kind of burnt out on writing about the Monster and would rather tackle some other characters. I’ve always loved Westerns and, as a kid, heard a lot of the classic old cowboy radio programs. So I started thinking about what radio Western characters could have met each other and what the results of such a hypothetical meeting would be.
AP: Radio Western Adventures features your story, “Who Really Was That Masked Man?” Please tell us a little about the story.
DG: Well, it started out kind of small – maybe Matt Dillon meeting Paladin or whatever. But then I started noticing certain similarities between certain Western characters. For example, both the Lone Ranger and Hopalong Cassidy rode white horses, Straight Arrow and Hoppy had old geezer sidekicks, Tonto and Straight Arrow were both Indians, and so forth. I started to wonder what would happen if a character like the Lone Ranger got waylaid and had to be impersonated for a brief time by some other Western hero. From that point on the story just grew and took on its own life, with more and more characters from various Western radio shows participating. When the cast of characters grew sufficiently big I decided to pull out all the stops and bring in characters from virtually every Western radio show that ever existed, those set in the modern as well as Old West.
AP: Radio Western Adventures is dedicated to radio historian and author, Jim Harmon, who passed away earlier this year. How did Mr. Harmon’s legacy impact this book?
DG: Yes, that dedication was my idea and Bill Cunningham, the publisher and editor and now good friend, agreed that it was appropriate. Well, remember that “Masked Man” was originally intended for Jim’s series of “cross-over” books. But even though Jim found the story I’d written for him “very charming” (his exact words), it was way too long for inclusion within the format he’d established…and brought in too many characters (Jim wanted to stick pretty much to crossing-over just two programs). Also, even though my story was essentially a parody and protected as such by law, Jim was somewhat nervous about my using so many copyrighted and trademarked characters. (In the version I sent to Jim I’d used all of the characters real names.) Then, to put the final nail into the coffin, Jim’s book series did not continue. So that left me with a story but nowhere to place it – that is until Bill came along.
AP: I’ve noticed something of a resurgence of western prose beginning to happen, especially in the United States, where westerns have not been hot sellers as they are in other parts of the world. Do you think it’s time for the western novels to make a comeback?
DG: It’s time for Westerns in all media to make a comeback, as far as I’m concerned.
AP: Where can readers find information on your books?
DG: On my website,www.DonaldFGlut.com. Go to the page called “writing credits.”
AP: What upcoming projects do you have coming up that you can tell us about at this time?
DG: I have a number of new pulp-style novels coming out from Bill’s company, including reissues in various deluxe formats of my 11-book “NEW ADVENTURES OF FRANKENSTEIN” series, and a pulp-style masked hero adventure titled JAWBREAKER VS. THE SCARLET SKULL. I’m also still writing my “DINOSAURS: THE ENCYCLOPEDIA” series of semi-technical non-fiction books, motion picture scripts and other things, always keeping busy.
AP: Thanks, Don. If there’s any other information you’d like, let me know and we can add more questions.
DG: Will do. And if you have any other questions, feel free to ask.
|COVER FOR THE FIRST FRANKENSTEIN NOVEL, ART BY MARK MADDOX (http://www.maddoxplanet.com/)
Bill Cunningham, Publisher, Pulp 2.0 Press
BC: RWA started out because I was licensing these other novels from Don Glut. Don said he had a short story that was a western featuring every radio, movie serial and TV cowboy he ever loved getting together for one last heroic adventure. It was a short story, and not a novel – but how could I pass that up?
At first it was sort of an orphan and I really thought the story would end up being a bonus feature for one of our other novels we’re publishing with Don, but after I read it I knew that it could stand on its own, and I needed to create a book package around it. Then it hit me that since there were all these tie-in comics for many of these radio heroes back in the day then there could have, should have been a tie-in pulp for some of these over-the-air cowboys. That’s when I came up with the idea of Radio Western Adventures – a pulp that was created as a promotional tool by the radio stations who broadcast these particular programs.
Once we came up with the premise as to how this particular pulp have existed, I went about creating the sort of magazine this could have been.
AP: Radio Western Adventures features a story by Donald F. Glut. Is this a new or previously unpublished story by Mr. Glut? Please, tell us a bit about “Who Really Was That Masked Man?”
BC: “Masked Man” is Don’s love letter to all those cowboy heroes he grew up with – on the radio, at the movies and on television. The story takes all of those western hero archetypes and brings them together for one last adventure. The names and costumes are somewhat different, but you’ll recognize all sorts of cowboys from the thrilling days of yesteryear.
AP: Radio Western Adventures also features a story by Doc Savage creator Lester Dent. Please, tell us a bit about “Snare Savvy” and how it came to be part of this project and what part Will Murray played in making it happen.
BC: Will Murray saw our website and the book’s cover (by artist Nik Macaluso), and contacted me afterward about “Snare Savvy.” He offered the story to us to publish and after I read it I negotiated for the rights to this never-before-seen story by Dent. It happened very quickly as far as these things go which is the speed at which I like to operate.
AP: Radio Western Adventures is dedicated to radio historian and author, Jim Harmon, who passed away earlier this year. How did Mr. Harmon’s legacy impact this book?
BC: When the book was being assembled Jim passed away. I had briefly corresponded with him regarding licensing some of his stories for Pulp 2.0 Press. We never did a deal, and I always regretted that. Jim’s book THE GREAT RADIO HEROES was one of those books I nearly wore the cover off of at my local library when I was a teen. I knew he had been a longtime friend and collaborator of Don’s so it seemed natural for RWA to became a tribute book to Jim at some point. It just felt right – especially when Don told me that he originally wrote the story for one of Jim’s books.
AP: Your press release mentions that Radio Western Adventures will be available through Kindle first, then in print at a later date. Not to debate print vs. Digital, but how has digital publishing helped your company compete in a very competitive publishing landscape?
BC: There is no debate regarding digital v. print. Each has its place in our Pulp 2.0 business plan. Because we deal in pulp – we are essentially creating entertainment that is meant to be consumed quickly and easily. It’s fast food in that regard. Thanks to today’s technology we are able to digitally recreate the speed and spread by which the old pulps used to operate and distribute their stories. If someone out there is bored and wants a great read now – we have something for them to download and start reading right away. Trust me, they won’t be bored for long!
If we manage to create a fan out of them then they can collect our print editions. These books feature behind-the scenes bonus features just like your favorite special edition DVDs. Thanks to the technology we are able to cater to different market segments and satisfy their needs with what we feel is fun, unique entertainment.
We’re also using the internet to promote our books – through sites like yours, through our social networks and through videos we create and distribute through Youtube. We’re a small outfit and you won’t find us in bookstores – but thanks to technology we’re going to be everywhere else. If you see us at a convention or a signing, please come up and tell us where you found out about us, and what you want to see from Pulp 2.0 Press.
AP: I’ve noticed something of a resurgence of western prose beginning to happen, especially in the United States, where westerns have not been hot sellers as they are in other parts of the world. Do you think it’s time for the western novels to make a comeback?
BC: I sure hope so, but to be honest I think they never really left. My father is a huge western fan and he’ll devour paperback after paperback of all sorts of western series books. In that very large, very crowded market I hope we’ve created something unique with Radio Western Adventures.
AP: Where can readers find information on Pulp 2.0 Press?
BC: The number one spot of course is our website at www.pulp2ohpress.com where you can sign up for our newsletter or you can join our Facebook group at www.facebook.com/pulp2ohpress . We run special reader promotions through both sites so there’s a chance you could win a free book, or a signed limited edition cover proof, or a poster or t-shirt.
AP: What other books can readers find from Pulp 2.0 Press?
BC: Our first book BROTHER BLOOD is also by Don Glut and is available in print or digital through our website. It’s the perfect book for horror- blaxploitation fans. It’s another unique story in that it was originally written in 1969 pre-dating its famous cousin BLACULA by several years, and features actual 1960’s Sunset Strip locations as the swinging background for its sinister blood-sucking.
AP What upcoming Pulp 2.0 Press projects can you tell us about at this time?
We are the official publisher of Don’s NEW ADVENTURES OF FRANKENSTEIN SERIES. That’s 11 novels of pure pulp horror-adventure. The cover is by fan favorite artist Mark Maddox, and again we are making each book a unique monster-lovers’ experience. Don has opened up his extensive archives of Frankenstein memorabilia and we’re including a lot of it in the bonus sections of the series.
We also have a book which is an action-packed tribute to Republic studios called JAWBREAKER… a series of classic Kindle-only pulp magazines that will be available at the low low price of only 99 cents each…
And two COMIC BOOK series which pack a pulp one-two punch. We’ll be announcing those later this year as soon as the contracts are signed. Again we’re going to be releasing those digitally first followed by the collectible print editions.
Then we’ll be moving into Phase II where you’ll see original book series written in the pulp aesthetic. These will be scifi, fantasy, horror and adventure books that you won’t be able to get anywhere else. We’ll also be continuing our mission to republish the best in yesteryear’s pulp entertainment for today’s audience.
STAY TUNED FOR THE INTERVIEW WITH VETERAN WRITER DON GLUT, A COMPANION TO THIS EXCELLENT CONVERSATION WITH BILL CUNNINGHAM!!
BILL CRAIG, Author of the Hardluck Hannigan series, the Jack Riley books and more!
AP: You have several series that are ongoing but let’s start with Hardluck Hannigan. Tell us how you came up with the character and a little bit about his adventures?
AP: You’ve done other books besides the Riley and Hannigan ones — can you let our readers know about the other genres you like to dabble in?
AP: When it comes to the pulp market right now, what are your favorite “new” authors and characters? Or do you usually stick to the classics?
AP: Can you tell us how your writing process works? Do you outline extensively or are you one of those who likes to wing it?
AP: If our readers would like to find out more about you and your writings, where should they go?
RON HANNA, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Wild Cat Books
AP: Thanks for joining us, Ron! Can you tell us about your history with the pulps — how did you first discover them and what led to the founding of Wild Cat Books?
RON: Well, like most people my age, I first discovered pulps through the many paperback reprints in the 1960’s and ‘70’s, especially the Doc Savage Bantam books. I’ll never forget the first ones I saw on the newsstand. “Land of Terror”, “Lost Oasis”, “Brand of the Werewolf” all had awesome covers, and when I first saw James Bama’s art, well, that intrigued me even more. I had never heard of Kenneth Robeson before, but he quickly became my favorite author. I read a lot when I was a kid, from Comic Books to the Classics. I always had something to read with me wherever I went. But it wasn’t until many years later that I decided to take my love of books, and pulp fiction in particular, to the next level by starting a fanzine in 1997. It was called “Secret Sanctum” and was probably the first “fan publication” that had glossy full-color artwork. My partner at that time worked in a printing company and he had all the pages printed at work, mailed them to me, where I then collated and stapled them, and then mailed them out to people who had heard about us on the Internet. This was before Facebook, MySpace and other social-networking sites. Back then I used the Prodigy network and everything was just a text message board and Usenet groups. Eventually, my partner and I parted ways, and I began Wild Cat Books, using my experience to try and make something even better than before. It was also in those early days that I discovered pulp fandom and met a variety of people who had the same interests as me. I still work with some of those people to this date.
AP: In the early days of WCB, the Internet was quite different. What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in pulp fandom over the years?
RON: I would have to say the social-networking sites such as Facebook, Yahoo and others. They opened up a much wider world and the vast advances in technology and software allowed much more discourse and interaction between fans all over the world. Although there have been many various conventions for over a generation, I believe it was some of these changes that really changed a lot of things. It used to be that only very wealthy people could afford a Web Site, but nowadays it seems the costs are much more reasonable, and it can really help a small-press publisher when they have their own page where they can showcase their work and attempt to attract new fans and readers. I say this with a caveat however: There is a big push toward everything becoming digital these days and the eBook format has become extremely popular. I have nothing against that, and we even have produced some digital books of our own, but to me there is nothing like holding a book or magazine in your hands. The tactile sensations, the smell of the paper or newsprint, the ability to have something really tangible to hold and treasure is something that is very important to me, and as a publisher I will never stop producing “hard copy” as my main source of publishing. Maybe it’s because of the generation I grew up in, but to me, an eBook could never replace an actual, real book… Besides, I also collect old pulps, comics and books and they are something I proudly display in my home. To me, those are repositories of adventure and imagination that I will never tire of, and I can re-read them even if the power goes out to the Internet or the batteries die on an eBook reader. Yes, everything does eventually decay or die, but the books on my shelf will always hold a special place in my heart.
AP: The pulp market is getting rather crowded these days — what makes WCB stand out from the rest?
RON: That’s a good question. I’d have to say it’s because of the passion we have for what we do, not to mention the ever-improving quality of our publications. A lot of other companies concentrate on reprints in various genres, which is great for the collector who can’t afford the original issues, and others publish new fiction and characters, but I believe that we are one of the few who are actively publishing both classic and new fiction, and more importantly, history and art reference books as well. We try to offer something for everyone.
AP: Ver Curtiss and Bill Carney are both key members of the WCB production family — can you tell us how they became involved with the company and what their duties are?
RON: Ver is my Art Director, and he has been with me from the very start back in 1997. He submitted some Doc Savage pieces he had done, and as soon as I saw the first one, I begged for more. He and I are totally different people in terms of personality, beliefs and lifestyles, but we have one thing in common: Our love of the pulps and popular culture. That is the bond that has kept us together after all these years, and even despite some clashes and disagreements. I consider him my brother, and I even moved to Virginia from California back in 2001 to live near him. He is an entirely self-taught artist and he works in many different areas: Sculpture, Photography, and he’s now also working as a comic book artist for Moonstone Comics illustrating the “Black Angel” series for their Air Fighters title, which is written by Martin Powell. Ver has also done the interior art for Moonstone’s “Domino Lady” prose anthology. His work is in high demand, but he always will find the time to do something new for me if I need something special done on a moments notice. He is one of the most talented and wonderful person I’ve ever known.
Bill Carney joined WCB about 3-4 years ago when he and his brother Chris submitted their original creation “The Scarlet Shroud” to me for possible publication. Both of them are talented artists, and while Chris does most of the story writing, Bill is also a fine writer who has written some fine historical reference pieces, especially dealing with Science Fiction and Fantasy. He’s one of the most knowledgeable people in those areas that I’ve ever met. And like Ver, he’s also a great person to be around. He and I have gone to conventions together, I spend a few days each year visiting him in Upstate New York, as well as both of us going to visit his brother Chris in Pennsylvania. We all get along great, and I look forward to each of my trips to visit them. However, the best thing that Bill does is Graphic Design. I used to do all the book formatting for our titles myself, and while they were “acceptable” they were nowhere near as good as what Bill can do. He’s a professional designer by trade, and has even won some national awards for his Production Design work, and I finally approached him about becoming the head designer for WCB and he has really delivered the goods! I’ve had several people tell me that our titles are some of the most professional and beautifully designed books on the market today, and I owe all that to Bill… which is one of the reasons I recently promoted him to Managing Editor. He’s not only a voracious reader, but he knows how to best edit stories that are submitted to us. And, to tell the truth, what with all the “management” details I have to deal with as the publisher, it made perfect sense to have him edit our books as well. He’s much better at it than I ever was! He’s also in charge of our revival of the old pulp “Startling Stories”. He has full editorial control over that project, and I’m very thankful that he loves doing it. It really is one of our finest on-going projects.
AP: Looking back, what books has WCB published in the past that you think are ones you’re particularly proud of?
RON: Well, I love all my children equally (joke!) but I would have to say I’m really proud of some of our Pulp History reference books by Award-winning historian Wooda “Nick” Carr. He grew up with the pulps (he’s in his mid-80’s now) and, like Ver, has been with me from the beginning. Each issue of my various fanzines always had a new article by him… but it’s the book collections I’m most proud of: “The Pulp Hero”, “Master of the Pulps”, and “The Pulp Magazine Scrapbook”… All of these belong on any pulp fan’s bookshelf… “Pulp Hero” is an encyclopedia of over 100 heroes and villains, plus a complete bibliography of all of Nick’s articles and books. “Master” contains a variety of some of his finest articles gathered over the years from various publications. But the “Pulp Magazine Scrapbook” is something totally different. This contains copies of the letters that Nick received over the years from many of the original pulp writers and artists: Walter Gibson, Robert G. Harris, Harry Steeger, Ryerson Johnson, and many more. It’s a historian’s dream to actually go back in time and read what the creators had to say about their work and what it was like back in the days of pulp fiction.
Another one of my favorites is “The Captain Future Handbook” by Chuck Juzek. It’s a hard-cover full-color book that contains everything you could possibly want in regards to this classic space hero. It has complete story summaries, the very rare first chapter written by Edmond Hamilton that was only published previously in a small-press fanzine, and it’s lavishly illustrated with every pulp and paperback cover, including all the German and Japanese editions, and is probably one of the most comprehensive and beautiful books we’ve ever published. It retails for $75.00 but in today’s marketplace, that’s a steal when you consider the high-quality product that you’ll receive. It’s a true masterpiece!
Another book I’m very proud of is K.G. McAbee’s “Bewitched by Darkness”, a collection of some of this Award-winning writer’s finest short stories with Cover and Interior Art by the fantastic British artist Nick Neocleous. Nick has illustrated a lot of our book covers, and every one of them has been a winner. He’s one of my favorite artists, and he’s always willing to pitch in and do wonderful work for us. He’s been involved with some high-profile characters such as “Doctor Who” and “Indiana Jones”, so he’s always in demand, but I’m very happy he is able to find the time to work with a small-press company such as WCB. We even published a full-color art book of his finest pieces called “Cosmic Eye”, which is another book I’m very proud of. It’s absolutely beautiful…
Another character I really enjoy is “The Rook” created and written by Barry Reese. I can’t name just one book as there are now five volumes in the series, each one better than the last. These books are pure pulp action and adventure, and some of the Cover Artists include Storn Cook, Frank Brunner, Norm Breyfogle and Anthony Castrillo. Not only are there some great original characters in these tales, but the author also brings in some classic pulp heroes that are in Public Domain, which makes this series so much fun for all of us fans… These are some really great tales!
I could go on and on, but I really do like all our books, and the weird thing is that some of our best, and my personal favorites, are not always our best-sellers… Go figure…
AP: One of WCB’s key components is STARTLING STORIES, a revival of a classic pulp magazine. Can you tell us about the magazine and are you accepting submissions for it at the present time?
RON: “Startling Stories” is a mutant. We not only reprint classic Golden Age Science-Fiction in each issue, but we even include some of the advertisements that appeared back then. We also include new stories by some of the most talented new writers on the market today such as K.G. McAbee, S. Clayton Rhodes, and others. We also have a Retro-Review section, and in our first issues we were very pleased to offer a comic story written and illustrated by the very talented Ron Wilber. A lot of people really loved his “Saucy Blaine” strip, but that will be ending soon. Ron Wilber is one of the few people on the planet who does not have a computer and has never used the Internet, so he doesn’t get the feedback that all creators desire. Despite the fact that I call him and tell him how much everyone loves “Saucy”, he has apparently lost the desire to continue on with it past the sixth story, which really disappoints me. I hope he regains his enthusiasm again at some point, as I enjoy working with him very much.
As for submissions, yes, we are always accepting submissions for “Startling Stories” of any length. Although it’s only a quarterly magazine, we need to have a supply of tales on hand to give us ample time to plan and pace each issue. We try to maintain a certain page count, and sometimes it’s tough to find just the right story to balance both the texture and variety we try to offer. Not everything has to be Sci-Fi or Fantasy, as we also accept Horror and, well, pretty much anything that could be called “Startling”!
AP: What new titles are on the way and what you can tell us about each?
RON: We have a few books in various stages of development. “Zombies in Time and Space” (an anthology) was recently released, as well as the massive Sword and Sorcery novel “Legends” by Tim Jones with a Cover by a new artist on our team, Gary McCluskey. His work is awesome, and we hope to have a lot more from him in the future. Coming soon is a new book by Rick Lai called “Shadows of the Opera” and “The Halloween Legion” by Martin Powell with Cover and Art by Danny Kelly. And the next issue of “Startling Stories” is always in the works as it’s our one on-going publication that comes out on a quarterly basis. By the time people read this, “The Rook – Volume Five” will be available at Amazon, and we already have the files for Volume Six. I’m hoping to one day see a “Rook” comic book… That would be fantastic. But I’m not holding my breath on that one!
AP: If fans want to purchase WCB books or learn more about the company, where can they do so?
RON: We have a website that I try to keep updated at _www.wildcatbooks.net <http://www.wildcatbooks.net/>_ and it has various pages listing our books at Amazon, as well as our other store that we maintain at lulu.com. You’ll find most of our earlier works at Lulu, but when we had the chance to move to Amazon we discovered that the quality was just as good, if not better, but the production costs were a lot lower so we were able to start pricing our books at a more affordable price in today’s economy than if we had stayed at Lulu.
AP: What’s your stance on public domain characters? WCB has used a few in the past but it’s emphasis now seems to be on original heroes.
RON: I’ve always enjoyed the Public Domain (PD) characters, and have no problem using more of them, but a lot of that depends on what is submitted to us. We recently published a book called “The Good, The Bad, and The Unknown” written by Mike Frigon and lavishly illustrated by Verne Anderson that featured The Moon Man, Doctor Satan, and Secret Agent X… It’s quite good, and I’d love to see more of the same by the creative team. They work quite well together. However, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, there are a lot of other companies using the PD characters so we try to offer more of a variety. A few PD heroes and villains make some appearances in the “Rook” tales, but as far as a new collection of stories or even a full-length novel is concerned, well, it all depends on the writers out there! As I’ve said, if it’s good, we’ll certainly consider publishing it, whether it’s PD characters, original creations or whatever. I will give you a little teaser though… Sometime down the road we plan on publishing the adventures of “Major Toad”, the frog from “The Wind in the Willows” in his own series of pulp adventures! This will hopefully be an on-going series, and the artist is working on the first book’s art even as we speak… We hope that this title will appeal to a wide cross-section of fans, both old and new, and for all ages… From what I’ve seen so far, I’m really excited about it…
AP: At one point, Airship 27 was associated with WCB… there have been many rumors about why the schism occurred, including tales that you and Ron Fortier now hated one another. Can you tell us what happened and what the current state of relations between creators and companies are now?
RON: Well, it’s a long story, but I’ll try to condense it. A few years ago, Ron Fortier of Airship 27 discovered WCB and submitted some really great stuff, and of course I immediately accepted, and even asked for more. Although we were the publisher, RF was the producer and he insisted on total editorial control. For a while that division worked well but eventually I found myself not having a say in anything: writers, artists, even the logo being used were not anything I had a say in, and even some of my suggestions were shrugged off. When he kept rejecting my ideas and insulted one of my best artists, well, that’s when I decided we needed to part ways. I returned all control and rights to his books back to him to re-release under his own publishing company, although some changes were made when he couldn’t get everyone who had been involved before to go along with the changes. I freely admit that there were a lot of hard feelings for quite a while. Too many people in the pulp world know what happened for me to even try to deny it, so I won’t. Yes, I was angry and hurt and he and I didn’t speak for a couple of years. But as they say: “Time heals all wounds” and since the pulp community is so close knit, I realized that there was no way we could, or should, continue under that veil of anger… It was time to let bygones be bygones, water under the bridge and all that. So we finally buried the hatchet (and not in each other’s heads) and agreed that we both had made mistakes and to let it go. He’s doing very well now with his Airship 27 titles, and I wish him all the best. He even told me that if it wasn’t for WCB he probably wouldn’t even be in the pulp business in the first place, and he obviously loves what he’s doing, so in a way, I guess, everything happens for a reason. We’re friends again… and that’s where it stands today. Heck, we’re even friends on Facebook!
AP: Have you read any of DC’s First Wave revivals? What do you think about the changes to the heroes that they’ve made? For that matter, where do you stand on making changes to classic heroes in general?
RON: I have read some of the First Wave revivals and, except for the cover art, I was really not impressed at all. In fact, as much as I love the characters (Doc Savage, The Avenger, The Spirit, etc.) I think DC has made a terrible blunder in how they are presenting these classics. Supposedly, everyone involved wanted to remain true to the “roots” of the pulp heroes, but it seems to me that they basically revamped them to the point that they are no longer recognizable to me. However, that being said, I really don’t have many problems with making some changes to the classics. But it has to be done with respect and love, and I didn’t get that feeling at all from DC’s revisionist take on them. They pretty much ruined the characters for all of us long-time fans, and by presenting them in the way they have, I doubt if new readers would be willing to read the original tales (which were so much fun), and that’s too bad, because the original tales make for very fine reading. In fact, I wish they would have adapted all those great stories to comics rather than see them turn out to be a miserable tragedy, and epic failure, for everyone involved with them.
AP: On a related note, how do you feel about Moonstone’s Return of the Originals?
RON: Now those are something I’m looking forward to reading because I know that Moonstone has a very high regard for keeping the faith! I haven’t read any of them yet (I don’t get to the local comic store as much as I used to) but from all I know about the creators involved, I have much higher expectations for this project than any others I’ve seen recently. In fact, I’m pretty much disgusted with all comics today. There’s only a few out there that I would even consider buying on a regular basis. DC and Marvel have both become gross distortions of their former selves, bloated from their greed, and I’m at the point where most comics no longer have the attraction to me that they did before. I’d rather spend my money on old Silver Age comics that I grew up with as a child. Those were inspiring and bring back many wonderful memories. Today’s comics pretty much just suck…
AP: As one of the elder statesmen in pulp and a Munsey Award Nominee, your words carry a lot of weight in the community. Does this ever influence your publishing decisions in any way?
RON: Well, thanks for the kind words, but I don’t consider myself as anything special. I’m just someone who really loves the pulps, the heroes, comics, and pretty much everything related to our Popular Culture. The only thing that I ever consider when making publishing decisions is: Do I like it?… I try to print the type of things that I would personally want to read. Not all of our books sell like gangbusters, but I’ve never been in this for the money… I do this because I really and truly love doing it… and I only hope our fans enjoy our books as much as I do!
DAVID BURTON, Pulp Artist
yourself, both personally and as an artist, background and such?
DB: You’re welcome, its my pleasure. As far as my personal life goes, I’m a pretty private person. I’ve been drawing and painting pretty much all of my life. I’m mostly self taught but have had some of the best people in the industry, who also happen to be friends of mine both
encourage me and give my pointers over the years. The nice thing is that I’ve been able to help them as well.
AP: Now, looking at your site (www.davidburtonart.net) you have a particular interest and affinity for pulp themed work. How did you
get into painting pulp? Have you always been a fan or did you come to it some other way?
DB: I’ve always been a fan and still am. That all started with THE SHADOW radio show, which my dad got me interested in when I was about 7. Than at about 12 I started reading DOC SAVAGE and was hooked. I started getting my work published in fanzines, most notably ECHOES and THE BRONZE GAZETTE. When I can I’ll do a piece for the BG. From there the subject matter has pretty much been fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Lately though its been pin-up and female figure work. I’m dealing with a few galleries right now about carrying that line of work.
AP: What appeals to you about painting pulp themed figures and works? Is there something about the characters and setting themselves or is it more about the stories?
DB: The sense of action and suspense mostly. The characters and the stories both offer something that just gets my imagination really
AP: Can you share with us a little about the process you use when painting a pulp piece? Do you do research, any special preparation,
go in any particular order, like with pencils and such, or do you just go straight to paints?
DB: Each piece is different and I approach them accordingly. Regardless of the piece, unless the client wants something very specific, I’ll do research. I’m a stickler for getting things right. I’m working on a piece right now for an upcoming DOC SAVAGE painting that will feature both Doc and Princess Monja. I went to great lengths contacting Dr. Richard D. Hansen, who is one of the leading authorities on Mayan culture and was the advisor on the film, “Apocalypto”, who was a great help in getting me currect information on how a Mayan Princess would be dressed.
As far as my approach to how I work goes, I always start with pencils sketches and then work them out into a full drawing if needed,
then go to the paints.
AP: Is there a pulp character, series, etc. that appeals to you over the others as an artist? If so, why?
DB: Its a toss up between Doc Savage and The Shadow. They have a lot more of offer more in the way of potential than any of the others. Though I also like The Spider because he’s so over the top.
AP: The classic pulp covers were, of course, all painted works. That’s sort of a staple for classic pulp. Do you think that its
important to establish the same sort of link between painted work and modern pulp? If so or if not, why?
DB: I’d like to think that any media could make that connection. But I’ve seen hundreds of pulp related stuff done in electronic and it
just doesn’t have the same impact, so for now anyway, painting in traditional media is the only way to go.
AP: Any tips for artists who are working on pulp projects?
DB: Know your subject and know your history. Study the old overs and ask yourself, what colors did they use and why, look at how they lit scenes and how they managed their composition. And don’;t copy or rip them off, if you can’t come up with something on your own, then you need to practice more to see what you’re doing wrong. Copying or ripping another cover off is a fool’s journey. You think no one has
ever seen any of the covers you’re taking stuff from, but they have and if they don’t call you on it now, they will. That’s inevitable. It will
only give you a poor rep and that’s nearly impossible to overcome. Be known for YOU and let your work stand out that way. You’ll shine and that alone is priceless.
AP: Do you have anything in the works that would be of interest to pulpsters everywhere?
DB: Other than the above mentioned Doc painting, I’ve got a few things that are in various stages. Something with The Shadow again, it’s been a long time since I’ve done anything with him. I’ll be working on a Doc drawing from my friend TOM JOHNSON that will feature Doc and Big Foot and there are some others, but I’d like to share those as they come along.
AP: Awesome! Thanks so much, David!
BCB: Byron Christopher Bell is a work in progress; a writer who hopes he never stops learning, or at least being curious; a bundle of contradictions. Mostly I’m a guy that likes a good yarn, something a little bit different that will still keep me on the edge of my seat. I love comics, heroes, hard boiled crime, horror, science fiction and pulp.
AP: What’s your background?
BCB: I was born a seventh generation Texan, and moved out while everybody else was moving in. I’ve worked as a musician, ranch hand, retail manager, construction worker, print salesman, artist and writer. I’ve also worked as Senior Resident at a halfway house, and both sides of the mental health desk. I’m from one of those families where the kids raised themselves, and I made a lot of mistakes on the way, so I’m probably one of the few hard-boiled pulp guys writing that has actually lived on the street. Hell, there’s a part of me that’s still dreaming up crooked schemes in my head—I’ve mentally pulled off at least three armored car jobs in the last year. But hey, that’s all for art, right? Hmmmm, well, at least part of it. The biggest thing as far as pulp goes is that without the heroes of my youth I know I’d be in jail.
AP: Where do you live?
BCB: My adopted hometown of Chicago, North Side. I think I’m in my fifteenth year here. Don’t even ask me about Cubbies vs. White Sox.
AP: How long have you been writing?
BCB: Since I learned the alphabet, in one form or another. Before I wrote, I wanted to be a cartoonist, so I wrote what I drew. I majored in journalism at the University of North Texas, but when I saw what was happening to American media, I dropped out and started working as a musician (bass, vocals, and blues harp). All through my years as a musician, I was writing songs and lyrics. Then one day in my thirties I read a lousy book by a famous writer, and said, “I can do better.” Subconsciously, I’m pretty sure I was aiming at the fact that Raymond Chandler (of Philip Marlowe fame) had started really writing at about the same age. Not that I’m comparing myself to Chandler, even though I’d love to.
AP: Share with us your thoughts on the current boom in pulp action/adventure fiction.
BCB: I love it, other than the fact that I can’t keep up with all the characters. Seriously, this is one of those weird moments in history where we get to see things change. Adventure fiction kind of got forgotten by all the big publishers, and I love being one of the guys to pick up the slack. I also think with my particular background, I have the chance to inject a voice that others might not know about. I’d seriously love to see a homegrown pulp movement that while still holding the moral virtues of the past, can also grow into a whole different new animal. In a way that’s what I tried to do with TALES OF THE BAGMAN, create a character, who in a world gone corrupt, still has a moral compass—even it is a little bit wonky. In the book I refer a lot to his “moral flexibility,” a nice way of saying legal, illegal, and extralegal.
AP: You’ve written SECRET AGENT X, JIM ANTHONY & DAN FOWLER, G-MAN for Airship 27 Productions. Who’s your favorite character of those three?
BCB: Tough question, I’ll try not to use the phrase “apples and oranges,” but it certainly applies. Secret Agent X is a man so dedicated to his mission he doesn’t even have his own identity. That takes a lot of commitment. On the other hand we have Fowler, who’s also a Federal Agent, yet is so recognizable that he really can’t go undercover—and his entire identity is wrapped up in being the stereotypical Hoover FBI man. Meanwhile, Jim Anthony, especially in his new Airship 27 tales, has vast potential. So part of me wants to say Dan Fowler, because I love the image of the thirties G-Man and want to write another one of those. But, since we’ve already been exposed to Elliot Ness, Dick Tracy and a host of others, Dan might not seem too original—there’s a lot of work left to be done by the author. So, OK, X is probably the best character, but I have to go with Dan Fowler because I still have my Melvin Purvis, Junior G-Man badge.
AP: Is it safe to say that TALES OF THE BAGMAN is your most ambitious project to date?
BCB: Definitely Maybe. Obviously, it’s my most ambitious to be published, and it’s definitely the most fun thing I’ve ever written—fun to write, fun to read. But my first novel, Bipolar Express, was pretty ambitious, too. Picture a Science Fiction/Noir story written like a 1950’s Gold Medal paperback, starring three dually-diagnosed, mentally ill, homeless men, trying to survive the worst winter in Chicago history—and all the while the magnetic poles are shifting.
Of course, what I’ve learned in the last few years is that I better think every project is my most ambitious; you stop aiming high, you’re going to start digging a rut. That’s my big lesson for 2010. And yes, I’d definitely love to write a few more Bagman books. I’m thinking Chicago World’s Fair and Dillinger, since The Bagman’s living in June of 1933.
AP: Who is The Bagman?
BCB: The Bagman is Frank “Mac” MacCullough, a criminal just on the edge of climbing organized crime’s corporate ladder. Then one day they send him to break his uncle’s legs, and he can’t do it. In the end he has to take on the mob, and deal with the cops at the same time. But in the beginning the only thing he has on hand to disguise himself is a paper bag that he wedges on under his fedora. Thus a man who was a bagman for the mob becomes, The Bagman. He uses a gun because so does everybody else, and he prefers a revolver to an automatic—that alone ought to tell you he’s a little bit different.
Working with him, and every bit his equal, is “Crankshaft” Jones, an ace mechanic and WWI vet who served with The Harlem Hellfighters, to win the French Medal of Honor. So here he we have a black man who’s a war hero in France, but comes back to the states and he’s just another face lost in the crowd. Crankshaft is practically Mac’s foster dad, but his best friend, too. Also a bit of a cynic.
And, I’d also like to point out that Mac is a character who I plan to evolve, so his future could get a whole lot weirder, and there are some definite signals toward that in the book.
AP: What works in progress can you tell us about?
BCB: Well, let’s see… I’ve got two novelettes for Airship 27 coming out sometime soon here. RAVENWOOD, STEPSON OF MYSTERY, the only occult character in the pulps to actually have supernatural powers. Another, newer BAGMAN story to appear in an anthology of all new pulp heroes. And a novel I’ve started, but have no idea where it’s going, that features Elizabethan playwright and spy Christopher Marlowe coming back to earth as a modern demon hunter.
But, I have to say now, as of this second, I just decided I’m going to do another Dan Fowler. How many opportunities am I going to get in this life to write G-Man stories? Which I think kind of brings us back again to this whole pulp revolution. I love this stuff!
AP: What do you think are your strengths as a writer and what are your weaknesses?
BCB:I think one of my best strengths is visualization—at least that’s what I’ve been told. Being a visual thinker, it seems, makes it easier for the writer to pass that picture along to the reader. I’m pretty good with dialogue, and I’m also pretty big on history. Put it this way, I actually enjoy doing research.
As far as what I’m not good at? I think plotting might be my weakest point. I like having a general idea of where the story’s going, but I hate writing outlines. Sometimes I finish an outline and there’s a part of my brain that says “Why write the story? You already know what’s going to happen?” Then again, Dashiell Hammet thought plotting was his big weakness, and it didn’t stop him from defining a whole new genre.
AP: Hobbies? Other Interests?
BCB: I like baseball, anybody that reads The Bagman book ought to figure that out. I have to admit I really do spend a lot of my spare time reading. Writing is such an imperfect art form, in that it’s never perfect, and I like to see how other people pull it off. I also ride a bike. I don’t drive. My wife and I buy and sell vintage goods so I always like looking at old stuff. Of course, there’s the whole musician thing, and music is like food: you got to try all kinds. Anybody that knows me also knows I’m a bit of a political activist; I really do hate injustice.
AP: Here’s your chance to give somebody a shoutout or plug something. Go.
BCB: I’ve got a story you can read for free up at SFReader.com, on their annual short story contest page, “How Pappy Got Five Acres Back and Calvin Stayed on the Farm.” It’s got monsters. And you need to check out Andrew Salmon’s The Light of Men. Not your average pulp novel.
AP: What’s a typical Day In The Life Of B.C. Bell like?
BCB: Oh, I wake up. Have a Pop-Tart. Go back to bed—wait, I think that was an episode of Lifestyles of the Poor and Decrepit…
AP: What else should we know about B.C. Bell?
BCB: I think we should just go right back to “he’s a bundle of contradictions.” Yeah, I may be conflicted, but I’m never boring.
JOHN MORGAN NEAL
Co creator/writer of AYM GERONIMO AND THE POST MODERN PIONEERS
All concepts and artwork is copyright John Morgan Neal and Todd Fox.
AP: Before we find out who Aym Geronimo is, tell us who John Morgan Neal is.
JMN: John Morgan Neal is a Texan Scot/Cherokee who grew up in the county seat of Grayson County on the edge of the Red River and who has always dreamed about being a storyteller such as the ones that entertained me in my youth in vibrant four colors and on yellowed paged paperbacks. I’m also a bit of a crusty ol’ kook as the regulars over at the Dixonverse, the official message board of Chuck Dixon where I help moderate can attest.
AP: Now, describe Aym Geronimo as a character. Who is she? Where’d the idea come from? What influenced you?
JMN: Aym Geronimo is a quintessential adventurer. She doesn’t do what she does as a job. She isn’t a spy or Tomb Raider or any other occupation that itself brings her to adventure. She herself seeks it out in various ways. Her motivations are to help people and investigate strange things and to basically find things out. And this leads to all sorts of danger. Which she enjoys. It’s why someone with Aym’s abilities doesn’t stay in a lab. She would wither and die there.
The idea came from Doc Savage of course. By way of Buckaroo Banzai. The idea was originally to try and get the license to do Buckaroo after a group of other creators and myself had tried to do the same with the Evil Dead property. But soon it became obvious we should just do our own. So start with the original Doc Savage, toss in some Jonny Quest, Challengers of the Unknown and Fantastic Four and shake well. And tons of other influences as well to be sure. Aym comes from a rich and full pedigree.
AP: Now, although there are a few, there are not a tremendous amount of female lead characters in the pulp genre, particularly in the hero-leader mold you’ve cast Aym in. Tell us how you came to create the character as female.
JMN: To be utterly honest. It came from the name. I wanted a name like Savage and Banzai and we knew we were going with the American Southwest. So I came up with Geronimo and thought about what would work with that and came up with the slightly altered and misspelled short name for Amethyst and came up with Aym. Which for the readers of this interview’s sake is pronounced aim. So Aim Geronimo. Or Aym Geronimo. And it had to be a woman. Very quickly Aym herself started to take shape and form.
AP: Aym has her own cast of characters all around her. Tell us about the Post Modern Pioneers.
JMN: The PostModern Pioneers are Aym’s fellow adventurers, compatriots, allies, and pals that operate with her out of the Wonder Wall, which is located in a wall of the Grand Canyon near the Havasupi reservation. They are all experts and specialists in their respective fields except for one. And he is just Odd. Otis Delacroix to be exact. He has been an adventurer for many years prior to Aym and is her mentor now. He is a mysterious figure of advanced age and copious skills and knowledge that even Aym doesn’t know the full story about. We also have Bird the pilot, driver and mechanic. He had served in the military with Aym’s father and sort of looks out for her as his proxy. His real name is Charlton Portamayne and he tends to try and serve as the voice for reason in Aym’s ear. Which usually is deaf. Esmeralda Kausoulos is a former tomb raiding archeologist and geologist who Aym has given a new lease on life due to Aym’s loyalty to her as her former instructor. Pebbles tends to be saucy and sassy and sexy despite her more mature years starting to show. Danielle Roh, or Granny tinkers in her ‘Kitchen’ in the Wonder Wall as the resident technical and computer genius. She is by far the youngest of the PMP as she is barely out of her teens. She tends to be sardonic sometimes and can be distracted by her many youthful interests but is supremely capable and loyal. Erica ‘Flipper’ Ra is Aym’s best friend and a denizen of the Ocean since she was a little girl and first saw it. It has been a hopeless cause to get her out of it very long since then. Flipper is the provider of boats and diving equipment and information on the watery depths of the planet due to her talents as an Oceanographer. And finally last but not least is Aym’s big brother Granite. Going by his spiritual name of Wind. Aym serves as the expert on Legend Lore and the more esoteric non scientific side of things, many times in opposition to Aym’s point of view. Wind serves as Aym’s conscious and connection to her people. Wind also is an expert tracker and hunter.
AP: You’re working on a major project now concerning Aym and her crew, a story collection. Can you let us in on that?
JMN: That would be Aym Geronimo and the PostModern Pioneers: Tall Tales. It is a collection of prose short stories from various writers who I invited and they knocked it out of the park. The book is currently in the last stages of editing and will then go to the design stage and hopefully will be ready to debut very soon. I am very excited about this book.
(JMN also had his editor on this project, Sarah Beach comment on this question as follows) John asked me (Sarah Beach) as editor of the prose project to comment about this. Since he and Todd had hit some delays in getting a new graphic novel version of Aym and her team into print, John wanted to keep Aym in front of the audience. So some time ago he approached me about writing a prose story using the characters. He said he’d asked a number of other friends to do one as well. He gave us free rein, to use whichever characters we wanted and any type of story. Sometime later, I got involved as editor, proofreading the stories as they came in and doing a little bit of editing. It’s been a lot of fun, because there’s quite a variety of stories in the collection: character pieces, action adventures, mysteries and even a dash of some comedy. And yet, they are all credibly stories of Aym and the PostModern Pioneers. It’s a credit to John in the creation of the characters and the strength of Todd’s artwork that has given them real shape, that so many different writers have caught the nature of them.
AP: Your characters in Aym run pretty much the ethnic gamut. Was that because the characters just developed that way or was there a greater purpose?
JMN: No grand design really. Only that I knew she would have a team and that I wanted to avoid them all being WASP males. Other than that they pretty much came organically without much prior thought. Some of it came from mental casting. Like Bird is a combo of Yaphet Kotto and Morgan Freeman. And I knew I wanted Danille to be a cute little Asian college age girl and I wanted the Archeologist to be from Greece. And Wind had to be Apache like his sister. So that leaves Odd. Who’s just a typical old man. Or is he?
AP: What is in the future for Aym? More comics or other mediums? And as far as stories, anywhere you’re going to take her that we’d like to know about, any interesting locales or situations awaiting Aym that you can share?
JMN: Todd Fox and I are working on 12 page comic story for a special project I can’t mention yet and then we will get back to work on the epic Aym tale “The Devil’s Cauldron” which will be a huge comic volume. Or graphic novel as they are called. We also have wanted to do something online with her and I imagine I will be revisiting the prose world with her. As for locales and situations. There could be a certain large footed mammal missing link in her life and a trip to the ‘Ring of Fire’ in the Pacific to stop a cataclysm. And a trip to Russia to track down what might be a Werewolf. I think that’s good enough to whet the appetite for now.
AP: Do you have any other projects that would interest the pulp realm?
JMN: I have a western called Death and Texas that concerns a group of various folks who for one reason or another have “gone to Texas’ either to run from something or run to something. Primary among them is the Chinese American gunslinger named Ran Wu, dubbed The Yellow Devil by the Dime Novels. I also soon will have with my English partner from across the Pond a little number called Them: Atomic Age Heroes. Which is set in the 50’s and concerns the mutinous crew of various aliens on a flying saucer that attempts to save the Earth from their despotic masters.
AP: Thanks for your time and we can’t wait for the further adventures of Aym Geronimo and her Post Modern Pioneers. Any final thoughts?
JMN: Long Live All Pulp. And Aym for Adventure!
To find Aym Geronimo on the web, check out www,aymgeronimo.com And on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Aym-Geronimo-and-the-Post-Modern-Pioneers/105564933516
AP: For folks who might want to find out more about you or your works, where should they go?
MARTIN POWELL AND ‘THE HALLOWEEN LEGION’
THE HALLOWEEN LEGION are TM and copyrighted by Martin Powell and Danny Kelly
Longtime author Martin Powell recently sat down with All Pulp contributor Barry Reese to talk about his upcoming book THE HALLOWEEN LEGION. THL will be released in October from Wild Cat Books. All images shown are rough preliminary sketches and are not finished artwork.
BR: Tell us a little bit about The Halloween Legion and how it came about.
POWELL: Be glad to. THE HALLOWEEN LEGION is a concept and group of characters that I originally dreamed up many years ago, way back in the vacuous days of high school. One day, during a mind-numbing semantics class, I started sketching these figures in my notebook: a Skeleton, Witch, Devil, Ghost, and a Black Cat, the iconic archetypes of All Hallows Eve.
I remember getting a mild chill when I first drew them all together, a sort of jolt of anticipation. Suddenly I began imagining a whole series of adventures for the weird little group.
Of course, they’ve been simmering in my subconscious until recently, never quite forgotten, and patiently waiting for their chance to be born. I’m actually very glad that I waited this long. I needed the last couple decades of writing experience to prepare me for their debut. This is a very important, very personal project for me.
I’ve always loved the autumn and Halloween in particular. I wanted to somehow capture that feeling of magic and mystery, the sort of thrill you get as a kid when the falling orange and yellow leaves appear to follow you down the street. It’s too brief a season and I suppose in some crazy way I wanted to have that feeling with me always. THE HALLOWEEN LEGION is the result of that yearning.
BR: You’re collaborating on this project with Danny Kelly — what is he bringing to the table that you think will enhance the experience for readers?
POWELL: I hand-picked Danny from a number of artists that I had to choose from. There is something raw and elemental in his artwork that mixes perfectly with what I had in mind for these characters. I look at Danny’s drawings and I immediately smile. I wanted his sense of energetic, creepy fun.
Although I had lots of suggestions, and directed him a little, Danny essentially designed the visuals of THE HALLOWEEN LEGION himself. The fact that he gives the Ghost such amazing expressions, in spite of the fact that he’s a kid wearing a simple sheet with eye-holes cut out, is phenomenal.
I didn’t want this group to be photo-realistic, and the works of Edward Gorey and Charles Addams were closer to what I had in mind. Danny fits that sort of style perfectly, while also maintaining his own artistic identity.
BR: The promotional artwork by Danny Kelly suggests a somewhat fanciful tone to the book. Is this an all-ages story or something a bit darker?
POWELL: Hmm. It’s tough to describe. Sounds ambitious, I know, but I’ve always wanted THE HALLOWEEN LEGION to appeal to everyone, kid and grown-up alike. I suppose I can safely compare the book to John Bellairs’ eerie mysteries in its tone. I love his scary novellas.
There is a certainly a whimsical side to my story, but it’s pretty dark, too, even terrifying in some places, I hope. Fans of the pulps, Harry Potter, and Baum’s Oz books will probably feel quite at home here, but I like to think that THE HALLOWEEN LEGION is unique and original.
BR: Again, just by looking at the promotional images, it seems like this is perfectly suited to become a continuing series and even has possibilities for multimedia usage. Any plans for any of this?
POWELL: That’s exactly what I’ve always had in mind for them. Although Danny and I are starting THE HALLOWEEN LEGION off with an illustrated novella, we have lots of other plans, too. I’d love to do HL comic books, animation, action figures, lunch boxes, t-shirts, Halloween masks, radio shows, newspaper comic strips, feature films, and even a gentler picture book version for younger kids, too. I’m going to do my best to make all of that happen.
BR: This is your first foray into the Wild Cat Books publishing line. How long have you known publisher Ron Hanna and what led to WCB becoming the home for The Halloween Legion?
POWELL: Actually, I first worked for Wild Cat Books several years ago, co-writing the Captain Hazzard novel, “The Citadel of Fear”, with Ron Fortier. I’d wanted to do something more for quite a long while, but I could never manage to free up enough time in my schedule.
I’m a full-time freelance writer, and in order to make a living at this I need to write constantly. Luckily, my desk is usually happily swamped with contracted projects, but there just never seemed to be time for anything more.
Then, several months ago, Ron Hanna made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He offered to publish anything I wanted to write. Anything. Anything at all. In over two decades as a professional writer, no one has ever done that for me. I’ve always been lucky enough to get to write for many terrific characters, like Superman, Batman, The Spider, and Sherlock Holmes, but I’ve very rarely ever been given the opportunity to create, and to own, my own characters.
Well, I doubled up on my writing schedule, working twelve hour days and more, including weekends. Fortunately, I hardly ever sleep. After a few months, I’d finally cleared the space necessary to devote to Wild Cat Books. I thought about what I wanted to do for a few weeks. Ron had stressed “anything” I wanted, after all. That’s quite a situation to wrap your mind around.
Then, THE HALLOWEEN LEGION reacquainted themselves to me, from the back corners of my brain. Of course! I thought, with a distinct, rather giddy thrill. It had to be them. Just had to be. They had been waiting so long for me to get my act together. So, I dusted the cobwebs off my little group and contacted Danny Kelly almost immediately. And now here we are.
BR: You’re also busy these days with Moonstone’s Return of the Originals project. Any information you’d like to share on that front?
POWELL: Thanks for mentioning that. I’m the writer on the new comic book series for THE SPIDER, with artist Pablo Marcos, which is a dream come true for me. In addition to the regular comic book series, I’m also writing a semi-regular illustrated SPIDER prose pulp ‘zine, too. I’ve lots of plans for THE SPIDER.
Also, I’m writing KI-GOR THE JUNGLE LORD, in collaboration with artist, Tom Floyd. I should mention that Tom is the recent recipient of the Golden Lion Award from the Edgar Rice Burroughs Bibliophiles, in recognition of his Tarzan and other Burroughs work. Past recipients have been folks like: Hal Foster, Russ Manning, Harlan Ellison, Johnny Weissmuller, Joe Jusko, and Frank Frazetta, so I’m honored to be working with Tom. He’s also my best friend.
BR: For folks who might be interested in learning more about you and your work, where should they go?
POWELL: Well, I post lots of news about my current and upcoming projects on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/martin.powell1). I also keep a blog for those purposes (http://martinpowell221bcom.blogspot.com/). And I have an Amazon Author’s Page, too, which lists many of my current books (http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JRXRSU). Soon THE HALLOWEEN LEGION will be lurking among them!