1.AP: Barry, thanks for taking time out of your day for a sitdown with ALL PULP. Some very interesting news broke today that concerns you. Do you mind recapping it for our readers?
BR: Well, for the next two years at least, The Rook has a new home: Pro Se Productions. The previous five volumes of the series will remain in print from Wild Cat Books but volumes six and up will appear under the Pro Se banner. There are lots of exciting plans in the works, including anthologies, spinoff projects, comic books and merchandising regarding The Rook and it will appear from Pro Se.
AP: There’s an obvious question, so let’s just ask it. Why the change?
BR: Certainly no ill feelings are directed towards Wild Cat. Ron Hanna has long believed in me and in the property – without him agreeing to publish it in the first place, The Rook wouldn’t be as successful as it’s become. But I think the time was right for The Rook to move into other media and expand as a property. Over the next couple of years, I want to work hard on establishing The Rook as a pulp adventure brand.
AP: For those who might be unfamiliar with the property, can you tell us a bit about THE ROOK?
BR: The Rook is an adventurer whose career begins in the late 1920s and expands out into the Thirties, Forties and beyond. His real name is Max Davies and he, along with a small cadre of assistants, fights the good fight in Atlanta, Georgia. The Rook series takes established pulp fiction stereotypes and both embraces and challenges them. It’s meant to appeal both to the fans of the classics and to those who prefer a little postmodernism with their pulp.
AP: Now, Max does not come alone. You’ve created a pretty expansive universe. Who else is making the leap to Pro Se with The Rook?
BR: Well, there are a number of characters who have debuted in The Rook series that are worth expanding upon: The Claws of the Rook are a strike force of heroes who sometimes assist The Rook; there’s Leonid Kaslov, known as The Russian Doc Savage to his fans; and Violet Cambridge, the star of The Damned Thing, to name just a few.
AP: The Rook has blazed some pretty amazing adventures in five volumes and various stories. As his creator, what do you have in mind for the future of Max and Company story wise? Any hints or rumors?
BR: Well, The Rook Volume Six will pit our hero against Sun Koh, the German equivalent of Doc Savage. We’ll also see The Rook teaming up with Lazarus Gray, who is a character I’ve been writing for Pro Se already.
Beyond that, a major pulp author is signed on to do three Rook novels! This trilogy will take The Rook into some strange new directions that people will enjoy a lot. I’m excited about seeing this author’s take on the universe.
And there’s talk of an anthology that would allow many other writers to play in the universe.
AP: What sort of plans have been discussed about The Rook’s future product and placement wise? More books, obviously, but what else is being bandied about?
BR: Well, comic books are an obvious growth area but there are also plans for posters, t-shirts and all sorts of merchandising. We’re looking to expand The Rook into various forms of multimedia.
AP: You’ve teased a bit about someone else writing The Rook in future volumes and the Pro Se release today mentioned a possible non Reese written Rook anthology. Is this something Pro Se as licensor is pushing or are you comfortable with others playing in the sandbox you’ve filled?
BR: I’m very comfortable with it – in fact, I think it’s an essential part of establishing it as a brand name. There’s only so many hours in the day and I’m busy with numerous other projects but I want The Rook to continue to flourish, both under my direct supervision and as written by others.
AP: We’ve talked about plans, now let’s look at potential. Obviously being the Rook’s ‘father’, so to speak, you’re biased, but what potential do you think this concept as a whole has? And do you feel like Pro Se has intentions to realize as much of that potential as possible?
BR: I think Pro Se recognizes the potential as I do and they’re ready to pursue it. I think The Rook has the potential to appeal to multiple audiences. I’d love to see Rook toys, cartoons, etc. And there are numerous characters within The Rook Universe who could be the focus of their own spinoff projects. The sky’s the limit.
AP: How about merchandise? Are Rook salt and pepper shakers in the near future? What are your thoughts on turning The Rook into toys, t-shirts, dinnerware, whatever may be the merchandise de jour?
BR: I’d love to see those things! And Underoos, of course.
AP: There’s definitely Rook in your future, both as writer and keeper of the concept. But what else do you have brewing for pulp fans everywhere?
BR: I’m working on a Lazarus Gray novel right now and will be contributing to Moonstone’s Johnny Dollar anthology. I also have Avenger and Green Hornet stories on the way from Moonstone. So, I’m certainly keeping busy!
AP: Thanks Barry and congratulations and best wishes on this new endeavor!