There are a lot of reasons to criticize The Newsroom. It’s not very realistic. The people who work for the cable news network, especially those with off-camera jobs, are much too attractive. Even the slobs are put together by stylists. Because it is an Aaron Sorkin show, characters will frequently speak in paragraphs, something hardly anyone does in the real world, and certainly not at work in a fast-paced newsroom, where anything more than a grunt or a nod takes too much time.
It’s a world where we know a character has been emotionally damaged because she is female and she cuts and dyes her long blonde hair into a cute red pixie cut. This is so shocking that the network’s lawyer doesn’t want her to testify at a lawsuit. It’s a world where women wear phenomenally high heels to work, and keep them on all day, even when they are at the office for 16 hours or more.
It’s a world in which a major news decision, which we are supposed to consider to be courageous, involves reading the AP wire and seeing that one story might be more important than another.
In other words, it’s a fantasy. I enjoy fantasy. I enjoy HBO fantasy. True Blood and Game of Thrones are my idea of fun times. Why shouldn’t I like The Newsroom?
If you don’t like it, I understand. It’s a series pitched to big city media junkies, even more than The West Wing. It’s easy to claim it’s a liberal fantasy, but if it was truly progressive, the women would be more than caricatures. The Jane Fonda character (a joy!) is the only woman not defined by her relationship to a man (unless we count her son). And she is played for comic relief.
The big pay-off at the end of the last show (SPOILERS! if you’re squeamish) was when the lead anchor, played by Jeff Daniels, proposed to his executive producer (and former fiancée) Emily Mortimer. It was a surprise because they hadn’t been dating, because they hadn’t been flirting, and they certainly hadn’t been sleeping together – at least not recently. He realized he loved her because of who she is and how she lives.
It’s as shocking as the Red Wedding, and way more romantically satisfying.
Florida native Don Gates has produced one of the outstanding New Pulp novels of 2011, with “Challenger Storm: Isle of Blood.” Published by Airship 27, with cover and interior illustrations by legendary artist Mike Kaluta, this is non-stop action in the traditional pulp mold. Gates has his pulp chops down, but he brings to these characters a depth that was absent in the early days. He recently took some time to tell us about his inspirations, his new novel, and his plans for future projects.
All Pulp: How long have you been writing, and at what point did you decide you wanted to write a book?”
Don Gates: Writing is actually pretty new to me. I did a LOT of creating in my head- daydreaming and stuff like that- but I usually never got things on paper beyond just a rough outline. Before working on this book, I’d start to write things that usually fizzled out before chapter 3. I always loved pulps and always wanted to do a pulp-style story or series, I just never felt I had the right mix of elements, characters, etc. I asked some friends online to let me bounce some ideas off of them, and after finding out what worked and what didn’t I had a handful of ideas that I wanted to try my hand at, all existing in the same pulp “universe”. Challenger Storm is the first of those ideas.
AP: What do you like to read, and how did it lead you into wanting to do it yourself?”
DG: I like to read the classic pulps (of course) along with newer pulp-like fiction like the Dirk Pitt novels and the Agent Pendergast series, and I love the Destroyer series of paperbacks. Outside of that, I like classic sci-fi & adventure like Jules Verne and HG Wells, and I absolutely love William Gibson’s earlier cyberpunk novels. I’m a huge fan of HP Lovecraft, and in the last few years I’ve come to enjoy JRR Tolkien as well. And of course, I try to read as much of the “New Pulp” crop of authors as possible… there’s a LOT of really amazing work out there!
As far as being led to create my own pulp, I can sum that up in one instance: the first time I read Doc Savage. I was home sick from junior high school, laid-out on the couch with the Doc Omnibus #6. Even though I know now they’re kind of sub-par Doc Stories when compared to the earlier ones, I didn’t know that at the time. All I know is for a few hours I was transported away from home and into an incredibly fun adventurous world. If I can bring any of that feeling to my work, I’m happy.
AP: What were some of your inspirations for Challenger Storm? In some ways, he is a very conventional character, and in other ways he is not.”
DG: A lot of the major influences came from Doc Savage of course, but I wanted him to be more human and less godlike. As much as I enjoy infallible heroes like The Shadow, I always appreciate when a series’ hero is more vulnerable, and even though you know they’re going to win in the end you still worry about them getting into scrapes. I also wanted him to have a motivation beyond the simple pulp-hero credo: “I’m rich, smart, and fit… let’s get the bad guys!” I wanted it to be about redemption with Storm: he wants to make up for a past in which he was an awful, selfish, and self-important jerk. The three scars on his face aren’t just there as a visual-cue to make him stand-out from other square-jawed adventurers, they’re also tied in with his “origin” and serve to remind him of where he comes from and what he went through to change his life.
AP: It’s obvious that you have more than a passing interest in aircraft. Tell us a little about that, and how it informs your work.
DG: I am interested in vintage aviation, and it’s something that I’ve always been into for some reason. Now I’m not so into it that I can tell you what kind of horsepower the engines on a B-17 Flying Fortress had, but I love the look and elegance of pre-war and WWII-era aircraft. It was a national and worldwide fad during those days, a relatively new science. It’s so fascinating to compare that era’s air-travel with ours. In those days, they were focusing on comfort, designing airplanes and airships that were like ocean liners in the sky… these days, they pack as many people possible into a cramped, over-sized tin can and shoot you across the country. Sure it’s faster, but it’s lost a lot of the personality that the golden era of aviation had.
It was during the art process of the book that I found out that Michael Kaluta, who is the legendary artist who did the cover and interior illustrations, is a bit of an aviation-nut too, even more so than I am. I’ve always been a huge fan of his, and when I found this out it was just another example of a perfect fit for the book. It’s funny: when I had come up with the MARDL pursuit-plane (the Witch), I was inspired partially by an old racing plane, the De Havilland DH-88 Comet, but never mentioned this to anyone. Later when I wrote to Michael and asked what he had in mind for his version of the Witch, he emailed me back and told me his design was influenced by the Comet too. It was pure synchronicity, hahaha.
AP: How did “Isle of Blood” come about? Did you write the whole thing and submit it to publishers? What brought you and Airship 27 together?
DG: I had the cast of heroes created and ready before I had their first story. “Isle of Blood” evolved from 2 things: an idea I had about a lost valley of floating rocks and an old photograph of a wealthy-looking man and his daughter that I found in an antique store. Those elements came into play as plot points A through Z, then it became a matter of coming up with B through Y to bring them together. I wrote the book off and on from mid 2007 through the end of 2009, experiencing the longest setback after my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He died before the book was completed, and of course the book is partially dedicated to him.
As far as publishing it through Airship 27, I’d actually wrote the book with them in mind. I really like their books and their production values, and so they were on the “short list” of potential publishers. I sent them the book a few days before Christmas of 2009, and it was accepted shortly thereafter.
AP: What do you have in mind for the future of Challenger Storm? Do you have any other characters or comcepts you’re working on?
DG: I have quite a few Challenger Storm stories in the works, all in various stages of outlining and plotting. I’m working on the second book now, “The Curse of Poseidon”, and had a major idea for a new book that will probably become the third novel. Without giving too much away, it’s going to play in H.P. Lovecraft’s funhouse a little bit, and if I can pull it off it’s going to be kind of epic.
I have lots of other series and characters I’d like to work on. One is a vigilante series called The Cipher and has a secret-identity hook that I hope will grab people, and another is a character I’ve had in my head since I was about 13: a man-of-mystery character called Codename: Shanghai. There’s also a one-shot story told from a Challenger Storm villain’s point of view, as well as a stand-alone lost-world adventure. Challenger Storm’s legacy involving his son and grandchildren is another thing I’d like to work on a bit also, along with a sword & sorcery book… Like I said, I have a lot of ideas. Finding the time to do all that writing is the thing I have issues with, but I’m trying.
AP: When did you first learn that Michael Kaluta would be doing the illustrations, and how did that make you feel? That’s a pretty big deal.
DG: The Kaluta thing was something absolutely crazy… I’m still shocked that it happened. I’d been a fan of his for years, ever since discovering his work on The Shadow. My wife Annie contacted him a few years ago with questions about commission work and something about their personalities just clicked and they became email-acquaintances. When Airship 27’s Ron Fortier was trying to find an artist to do “The Isle of Blood”, Annie said to me “Why don’t you ask Mike Kaluta to do it?” at which point I seriously began doubting her sanity. She’s not a fangirl, though, and to her he’s just a regular guy so she had no trepidation about asking him. Long story short, he said “yes” and he and Ron hammered an agreement out with regards to fitting it into his busy (and I mean BUSY) schedule, and here I am with not one but two dreams fulfilled in a single swoop.
GRIOTS is an anthology co-edited by Milton Davis and Charles Saunders featuring fantasy stories based on African mythology.ALL PULP is pleased and proud to present an interview with Milton Davis so he can tell us first hand about this ambitious and exciting anthology.Enjoy!
All Pulp:Let’s start with an easy question: who is Milton Davis?
Milton Davis: Milton Davis works as an R&D Chemist during the day in order to hide his identity as an obsessed speculative fiction writer during the night. He a husband of 25 years and father to two children, a boy and a girl. He currently resides in Fayetteville, GA.
AP: How long have you been writing?
MD: I’ve been dabbling at it since college but got serious in 2005.
AP: What writers have influenced your style and interests?
MD: The main two are Frank Herbert and James Baldwin. Herbert blew me away with Dune and its world building. James Baldwin captured me with his simple but powerful prose.
AP: From where do you draw your inspiration?
MD: I’m inspired by many things but the main inspirations are art and music. Of course I’m also inspired by history, specifically African history.
AP: Before we get deep into this, a bit of explanation first: what is a Griot and why did you choose GRIOTS for the title of the anthology?
MD: Griot (gree-oh) is a French word used for the traditional African storyteller/historian. There are many other words used among different African people; djeli, jali, gassere and gewel just to name a few. We chose GRIOTS because it fit what we were trying to accomplish.
AP: For those who are unfamiliar with the term what is Sword and Soul?
MD: Sword and Soul is fantasy, heroic fiction and sword and sorcery based on African culture, tradition, mythology and history.
AP: Tell us about some of the talented writers who are in this anthology.
MD: We have a wide variety of writers. Some are independent writers like me; others are mainstream published. Some have never been published before and others have been published in other genres. What we all have in common is an appreciation of Africa and a desire to based stories on this wonderful and diverse continent.
AP: Are there plans for GRIOTS to be a yearly event?
MD: I don’t know about yearly but there will be a GRIOTS II next year.
AP: Can you tell us what you learned about putting together an anthology like this? Was there a certain order you put the stories in?Were there certain themes or stylistic choices on the part of the writers that took you by surprise?
MD: GRIOTS is my second anthology. I did the preliminary work for GENESIS, the Black Science Fiction Society anthology. So this wasn’t difficult to do. The main challenge was getting writers to meet deadlines. Creative people are allergic to deadlines. We hoped that the writers participating would expand the interpretation for Sword and Soul and they did. There are stories that stick close to the definition and there are others that hint at the source. I think readers are going to be very entertained.
AP: What was it like working with Charles Saunders?
MD: It was excellent. Charles is one of the nicest and most gracious people I know. We’re Sword and Soul brothers. We have a lot in common; we were even born in the same month. His excitement about this project was one of the main reasons it came to be.
AP: People of color haven’t been well represented in the genres of science fiction, fantasy and pulp adventure in the past.Are you seeing a definite and hopefully lasting change in that representation through not only your work but that of other black writers and artists?
MD: I definitely see a change. In mainstream publishing folks like Nnedi Okorafor, N.K. Jemison, David Anthony Durham and others are making great progress. However I think the greatest changes have and are going to take place in independent publishing. With POD and e-books breaking down the gates to reader access we finally have a chance to expose everyone to our work and our perspective. Add to that the growing black middle class and readership, it’s a good time to be a writer of color if you’re willing to work hard to make it happen.
AP: What’s a typical Day In The Life Of Milton Davis like?
MD: I’m up early to cook (yes, cook) breakfast and do a little writing. Then it’s off to work. Once I get home I take a few hours rest then write some more.
AP: Here’s your chance for a shout-out or to plug something; Go.
MD: A special shout out to all the folks who kept encouraging me to pursue my passion. I hope I’m doing you proud. Oh yeah, buy GRIOTS. You’ll love it.
All Pulp: Anything else we should know?
Milton Davis: Sword and Soul is just getting started. 2012 is going to be a special year. I have a few surprises in store. Peace!
With the announcement of Lance Star: Sky Ranger joining the iPulp Fiction Library, ALL PULP wanted to introduce readers to some of the Honorary Sky Rangers involved with making these stories happen. Next up is Lance star: Sky Ranger Art Director and Designer, Rob Davis.
AP: Tell us a little about yourself and where readers can find out more about you, your work, and Airship 27 Productions?
RD: I’ve been a freelance artist since 1986 working on such diverse projects as a Saturday morning cartoon adaptation for Marvel to Star Trek books for DC and Malibu Comics. Presently I’m the art director/designer for Airship 27, which encompasses the actual design and look of each of Airship 27’s books to cover and interior illustrations. I’m also a comics publisher using the Redbud Studio Comics imprint to sell “print on demand” comics through IndyPlanet.com. Yeah, I’m busy!
AP: How did you become involved with the Lance Star: Sky Ranger series?
RD: Through my design work for Airship 27. We have been the publisher of the prose versions of the tales of Lance Star through anthologies and eventually novels featuring the pulp-era air ace.
AP: Who is Lance Star? What makes pulp characters like Lance and the Sky Rangers appeal to you as a creator, a reader, and a publisher?
RD: Lance is another star in the pantheon of pulp heroes in that he has a definite sense of right and wrong and will fight to the end to defend the right. In the pulp age aviators like Lance were like today’s astronauts in that they were envied for their daring flight into the atmosphere. It’s interesting to me to see what the interest was of pulp era readers in these cousins of Charles Lindberg and Amelia Earhart.
AP: Digital content has changed the publishing landscape. As a creator, what excites you about digital content? As a reader?
RD: As a reader it’s exciting to think about being able to carry my whole library of books with me in my new iPad. As a creator and publisher it excites me that we now have a new, thrilling and inexpensive outlet to get our productions out to the reader. The first few weeks after Airship 27 opened up our Airship27Hangar.com site we had phenomenal response! It’s exciting to put up another new book and see sales within just hours or minutes of the upload.
AP: As you are both a designer and artist, tell us a bit about your process for both the print and digital versions of the Airship 27 stories.
RD: Fortunately, there’s not much difference in the two. Since I have so many irons in the fire I don’t have a lot of time to devote to producing our digital versions. Mostly what I do is add the front and back covers to the interior PDF file that we send to our printing sources, reduce the file size (since digital screens need less resolution than traditional print) and then mark each page with a watermark to keep our books safe from pirating. The whole process takes less than an hour for each book. Add in the design time to create the online catalogue entry and within just a couple of hours we have a version of our latest masterpiece of New Pulp ready for viewing and enjoyment!
AP: Any upcoming projects you would like to plug?
RD: We have a number of different books in the Airship 27 pipeline. Right now my next illustrating gig for Airship 27 is calling to me: Robin Hood: Arrow of Justice written by Ian Watson, a very talented writer from the UK. This is the second of a three-part retelling of the Robin Hood legend and it is rollicking good fun! Ian is very gifted and his version of Robin Hood is a joy to read and illustrate!
AP: Thanks, Rob.
RD: Thanks for having me!
Release schedule for Lance Star: Sky Ranger tales on iPulp:
06/17: Lance Star: Sky Ranger – Vol.1 #1: Attack of the Bird Man by Frank Dirsherl (now available)
07/07: Lance Star: Sky Ranger – Vol.1 #2: Where the Sea Meets the Sky by Bobby Nash
07/27: Lance Star: Sky Ranger – Vol.1 #3: Talons of the Red Condors by Bill Spangler
Andrew Salmon Secret Agent X iPulp Launch Interview
With the upcoming June 27 release of his Secret Agent X tale, The Icarus Terror, All Pulp sat down with Andrew Salmon to get the skinny on Secret Agent X and the digital revolution.
AP: Tell us a little about yourself and where readers can find out more about you and your work?
AS: All right. I was born in Montreal, Canada but my wife and I now live in Vancouver. I’ve been writing pulp for more than three years now and really feel at home in the genre. I’ve had the great good fortune to have picked up three award nominations for my pulp work in the last couple of years and am still amazed I actually won a Pulp Factory Award for Best Pulp Short Story in ’09 for my contribution to Airship 27’s Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective Volume One. Folks interested in my output to date can check out my author page on amazon. It’s got it all. Plus you’ll find almost all of my stuff on Airship 27’s various sites.
AP: How did you become involved with Secret Agent X?
AS: When I first hooked up with Airship 27 I was completely new to the pulp genre having read three or four Shadows and a couple dozen Docs. But I fell in love with the genre immediately and leapt at the chance to try my hand writing it. Well, my inexperience led Airship’s Ron Fortier to assign me a Jim Anthony tale since Anthony was a Doc Savage clone and I’d read more Docs than anything else at that point. So I banged out an Anthony tale and had a ball doing it! So much so that when I was done, I was hungry for more! Around the same time, Airship 27 was re-issuing the titles they had originally published with Wild Cat Books during their brief association and their first Secret Agent X anthology was on deck. Thing was, one of the contributors to that release decided, for whatever reason, to bow out of Airship 27’s re-issue of the book. My Anthony tale had not been released at this point and X was the next book they had on the flight deck. Ron knew I was chomping at the bit to officially become part of what has now become the New Pulp movement and offered me the slot – if I could bang out a Secret Agent X tale quickly. I did . They loved it. And I got the spot! I made my pulp debut with Secret Agent X and have loved the Agent ever since!
AP: Who is Secret Agent X? What makes pulp characters like Secret Agent X appeal to you as a writer and a reader?
AS: X is just a great character! He can be anyone and the fun in writing and reading X tales is to discover where he’s going to turn up next. The mysterious element to the character is what really drew me in. Along with his abilities as a master of disguise, readers are never sure who he really is as his true identity is never revealed. That’s a lot for a pulp writer to play around with and makes X novels and stories a delight to read. X is the Bond of his time and yet has a selfless dedication to duty. He has no time for martinis and fair ladies. He’s got a job to do and he does whatever it takes to get that job done. Also, in a way, he’s the quintessence of what pulp is all about. Very little time is spent on X’s background. Oh, he’s got a regular cast and a love interest, but X tales are all about action, misdirection, gadgets and disguises. Bond meets Mission: Impossible – that’s Secret Agent X!
AP: Digital content has changed the publishing landscape. As a creator, what excites you about digital content? As a reader?
AS: Well, this is the burning question of our time – right across the publishing landscape. The digital world has exploded traditional publishing in a good way. It’s easy to get stuff out there and doing so digitally means you can keep prices down. Everyone is pinching pennies these days and folks are careful about what they spend their money on. People want bang for their buck and tend to stick with content and creators they know to be, in their minds, a sure investment.
However, with digital publishing, readers can now branch out. Whether it be with a tablet, an e-reader or their cell phones thanks to iPulp, content, both good and bad, is now readily available at a great price. Pulp creators and fans have seen the impact the internet has had on creating the New Pulp revolution. Now with the surge in e-readers and the like, it’s not so big a gamble to try something other than whatever is on the Best Seller’s list at any given moment. What once was a $15-$30 roll of the dice can now be had for $3 or even $1 with iPulp. There are a lot of really great writers out there and their voices can now be heard thanks to the digital revolution. Readers can take chances now, branch out and it won’t break the bank. It’s great! I can’t tell you the number of writers I now read regularly that I’d have never heard of if not for the digital explosion. Or, if I’d heard of them, I probably couldn’t afford to take a chance on. No more! Now dabbling is easier than ever and it’s just great to wade into the tidal wave of New Pulp authors and artists. For avid readers, the digital boom is a dream come true!
AP: Your Secret Agent X story, “THE ICARUS TERROR” is currently available in print and as an eBook from Airship 27, and soon to be released individually at iPulp Fiction. What can you tell us about this story?
AS: My simple rule for an X tale is to have the thing start pedal to the metal and not let up for a heartbeat. That’s what I did for “The Icarus Terror” and the result is a wild ride. Imagine 1930s New York and an airship festival – airships and blimps hovering over the city, blocking out the sun. Then imagine those ships descending, squeezing between the towering, concrete spires of the city and before anyone can figure out what’s happening, the helium-filled airships begin to explode! How is it being done? Is some evil genius behind it? Is the city being held hostage? Can Secret Agent X get to the bottom of the mystery before more of the airships explode? Talk about bang for your buck! With iPulp offering “The Icarus Terror” for only $1, truer words were never spoken. Edge of your seat thrills await!
AP: Airship 27 currently has three Secret Agent X anthologies in print and available as eBooks with several of those stories soon to be released individually at iPulp Fiction. What’s next for these pulp heroes?
AS: I’ve got a Secret Agent X tale in the third Airship anthology and I’m hoping it will one day make its way to iPulp along with the other X tales they’ve done to date. X is made for this format. The stories are fast-paced, action-packed – just the sort of thing to read on the go or during brief breaks or down time on the job. They will get your heart pumping! As for the future of the great pulp heroes, the sky really is the limit. Back in the Golden Age of pulp fiction, the exploits of these great heroes were great escapism from the everyday. Folks in the 1930s craved these kinds of adventures and nothing has really changed. Action movies, books, video games and the like are still as popular as ever. Pulp fiction and the great pulp heroes of yesterday and today can still thrill while providing that much needed escapism we all need from time to time. Getting pulp tales out in all different formats means that readers looking for a white-knuckle thrill ride can access these tales however they prefer. A Mount Everest of pulp thrills was compiled during the heyday of pulp fiction and millions of readers enjoyed the terrific exploits of these timeless characters. Most of that stuff is becoming available for today’s readers. But, more importantly, a sister peak is being compiled of New Pulp tales, characters, exploits with a modern sensibility, currently created by talented writers and artists for today’s readers. It’s all breaking at the same time. Tons of great reading you do not want to miss! Whether you’re an old pulp fan or someone coming to the genre for the first time, you will find something you like. I guarantee it. Get your feet wet digitally if your wallet is a little light. Try an Airship PDF for $3 or an iPulp tale for $1. For less than the cost of a cup of coffee, you’re in for a real treat! Once you see what a wonderful reading experience one can have with pulp, you can upgrade to printed books to stock your library if you want or fill up the memory on your tablet with as much pulp as it’ll hold. You won’t be sorry.
Andrew Salmon (on left)
AP: Any upcoming projects you would like to plug?
AS: I’m currently working feverishly on a pulp novel featuring German pulp heroes called All-Men: The Shadow-Line. The book, if I can ever get the darn thing finished, is going to be something very different and, I hope, very eye-opening for pulp fans. I’m going out on more limbs than I can keep track of but I’m risking the fall in the hopes of providing readers with a reading experience they’ve not encountered with pulp to date. The novel is taking up almost all of my writing time these days but that doesn’t mean I don’t have other irons in the fire. I’ve contributed an easter-egg laden, hardboiled detective tale for an anthology Airship 27 is putting together featuring a PI named Rick Ruby and that was a lot of fun. I also collaborated with Mark Halegua crafting the first tale with his hero, the Red Badge, which is forthcoming as part of Airship 27’s Mystery Men & Women Volume Two which should be out before the end of the year. There are a lot of other things on the horizon both with Airship 27 and Pro Se that I’m not at liberty to talk about at the moment. Let’s just say that the pulp world hasn’t seen the last of me yet and leave it at that. I’m having a ton of fun writing pulp and it’s my hope that readers are having as much run reading what I’ve churned out so far. Hang on to your fedoras folks, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
AP: Let’s start off with an easy one…who IS MD Jackson? Is he man? Mystery? Monster? None of the above?
MDJ: Well, that depends on who you ask. If you ask my wife she would probably agree with ‘monster’, although ‘bear’ would probably fit better — you know — big and furry, sometimes cuddly and sometimes grumpy, particularly when he’s hungry (although I have heard the words ‘sexy man’ come out of her mouth and George Clooney was nowhere to be seen so…). I am a human (well, humanoid at any rate) and I fall quite definitely into the male camp as far as gender goes, so, yes I am a man. Logically I am a mystery to people who do not know me, but perhaps not one that anyone cares about. Not like the real mysteries of life like; where does the time go? or Why does only one sock come out of the dryer when you know you put two in?
AP: Your work has a real pulp-tastic vibe to it…was that intentional? Is it a conscious style choice, or is your style more organic?
MDJ:The pulp influence in my work is very intentional. One of the things I love most in the world are old pulp magazines. I love everything about the pulps but particularly the cover art. Those covers virtually had to scream from the newsstand PICK ME! PICK ME! That is the kind of visceral impact I can get behind. I figure, why be subtle? Hit people where it hurts. Make them notice you. I know a lot of people get turned off by that, but I’m not Thomas Kinkade. You want pretty cottages then you might want to avoid my website.
AP:Is it true you’re Canadian? If so, how exactly is British Columbia ‘British’? Who’s your favorite Prime Minister?
MDJ:Yes, I was fortunate enough to be born within Canada’s borders. There are parts of Britisch Columbia that are very British, more British than British — Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island for one — but then there’s other parts that are very German. Some places are very Swiss or Ukranian and there’s even some parts that are Hungarian. On the whole the province is very Old World-y and European-y, except where it is Native Land, then it’s not European at all.
My favorite Prime Minister was John A. MacDonald. He was a drunken old Scots reprobate and was a lot of fun. This one time we went on a bender together. It lasted so long the Toronto Star actually wrote a story that he’d died. We laughed our asses off about that one, I can tell you.
AP: What about influences? What artists (if any) do you (did you) take inspiration from?
MDJ:I’m easily influenced. I cave to peer pressure like a house of cards. Artistically, though my biggest influence is Frank Frazetta. Mind you, all fantasy artists are influenced by Frazetta whether they admit it or not (and if they deny it then they’re big old liars).Boris Vallejo, obviously and James Bama. Remember those old Doc Savage Paperback covers? Love that stuff! All of them were influenced (as am I) by pulp artists like Walter Baumhoffer, Rafael DeSoto, Norman Saunders and Alan Anderson to name but a few.
AP:Still on the subject of inspiration, what other wells do you draw creative waters from?
MDJ: Actually we don’t use a well. Our water comes from a tap. Just because I’m a Canadian doesn’t mean I’m not a modern guy!
I am also inspired by the architecture of antiquity, ancient ruins, ancient armour, castles, period clothes — these things inspire me. Photography does as well, particularly for lighting and mood. And, of course, hollywood movies with their ubiquitous CGI and 3d spectacle. I used to take inspiration from comic books as well, but not so much anymore.
Really detailed pen-and-ink work is inspiring. I could stare at the work of such artists as Windsor McCay, Willy Pogany, Franklin Booth, or Joseph Clement Coll for hours.
AP: You’re Canadian so you should know this…is the Wendigo real?
MDJ: You’re darn tootin’ she’s real! She was my sister-in-law! (did I say that out loud?)
AP: Are you a life-studies man, or do you free-style it?
MDJ: I go back and forth. I can’t afford models per-se and it is hard convincing people to pose for you (but it can be fun if it’s the wife and there’s lots of costumes and props involved) but the final product is always better (I think, anyway) if there are some solid references, particularly for period clothing and genre specific items like weapons and such.
AP: That’s a suspicious answer if I’ve ever heard one. Are you a wendigo?
MDJ: I said Sister-in-law… not sister, sister IN-LAW…!
AP: Describe the ‘MD Jackson Process’ for us…how do you approach a given project?
MDJ: Once I’ve accepted a commission the first stage is usually PANIC! “How am I supposed to do this? Am I insane? I’m not talented enough to do this! What was I thinking?” that sort of thing.
Once I calm down I usually sit down in a big comfy chair with a cup of hot tea and my low-tech equipment: A 9″ X 12″ sketchpad and and H or H2 pencil. I will just turn of my brain and let my had do all the work. I start with thumbnails for composition and I will do anywhere up to a dozen or so little sketches until I get two or three that I think will work. If I’m working for someone else I will work these thumbnails up into more detailed sketches and let the client see and decide. If it’s just for me I’ll usually just pick the one I like best and go with it.
After the client chooses one layout then I’ll start collecting references, shoot some photos if I have to, and start narrowing down a colour scheme. After that I start working. I paint digitally using Corel Painter X. I usually work background to foreground and work on each figure individually, blocking in basic shapes and colours and then working each figure with finer and finer detail until it is done. Then I sign it and ship it off.
AP:Are you certain you’re not a wendigo? That sounded like a wendigo answer. I’ve heard they’re tricky…
MDJ: Okay, I’m sorry I called my sister-in-law (my EX sister-in-law) a wendigo. She’s not really a Wendigo. A Wendigo eats people. My sister-in-law only ate Snickers bars.
AP:Black and white or full color? What’s your preference in regards to your own work?
MDJ: I love working in colour. I started with a somewhat limited colour palette but I have recently opened up and begun producing more colourful images. Just right now I’m working in black-and-white which can sometimes be unforgiving. It certainly makes you appreciate the colour when you are forced to work without it.
AP: How’d you get your start? What’s your origin story? Bitten by an artistically inclined spider? Bathed in the fumes of a paint factory? Are you a mutant? Possibly a mutant wendigo?
MDJ: I might be a mutant. I do have freakishly abundant body hair. I’m not a Wendigo. I don’t eat people. I prefer cookies.
I have been drawing for as long as I have been able to hold a pencil. My mother was a landscape painter. I preferred pencils and pen-and-ink for the longest time. I dabbled with oils and water colours but couldn’t find a way to make them medium really sing until I discovered digital painting. My mind was blown and there was no going back. Digitally I could do all the things I wanted to do with brushes but just couldn’t.
Aside from that there is no magic or mutant powers — I just do it as best I can and then try to do it better next time.
AP: Which piece of work of yours has been your favorite? Least favorite?
MDJ: Like most artists my favourite piece is usually “the next one”, but I do have a few pieces that I have a vertain fondness for. IN THE SWAMP is one of my favorites. I like the look in the swamp monster’s eyes. I also love a piece called MARRIED TO THE WIND because I did that for my wife. I have a piece I called GENERIC WESTERN COVER in which I tried to emulate James Bama’s style, which I think I sort of captured. I also have a piece simply called SPACE which encompasses a lot of what I love about classic space opera illustration. Oh yeah, I also did the cover art for a book called DRACULA LIVES! That one turned out alright.
I would prefer not to talk about my least favourite works. If I hadn’t had the temerity to accept money for them and if they weren’t despoiling the covers of some otherwise fine books and magazines, they would have been dumped down the bit-bin never to be seen again.
AP: I understand you also do a bit of writing on the side…give us the lowdown.
MDJ: I don’t write all that much. Jack Mackenzie, on the other hand, he writes a lot of pulpy, fast-paced, action-y stories and he’s been published in Encounters Magazine, Neo-Opsis Magazine, Dark Worlds Magazine and in the anthologies SWORDS OF FIRE and SAILS AND SORCERY among others. Mind you, he’s a fairly unpleasant character. He is boorish and insulting and he smells. He says he is bad tempered because he’s written four novels and none of them have been published yet.
I think it’s just because he’s a bastard.
AP: Where can we find you on the wide, wild interwebs?
AP: Consider this last bit your designated shilling space. Snake-oil it up and tell us where we can give you money…
MDJ:If you give me money I will make you a nice picture. I’ll do a neato cover for your book or magazine or website, I’ll do a portrait of your favourite child/parent/great aunt/kitty cat — I’ll do anything except for a Velvet Elvis or dogs playing cards. There’s already too many of those in the world.
Contact me at one of my galleries and we can negotiate.
AP:Mike, Welcome once more to ALL PULP.Catch us up on what you’ve been doing since the last time you sat in the interview chair.
Mike Bullock: Hi, thanks for having me back. Let’s see, since last time we met I’ve pitched four New Pulp ideas and I can thank God that all four have been accepted by the publishers I pitched ‘em too. That ‘depths of the gut’ feeling I get when waiting for a publisher to reply to a pitch really sucks… even more so when they don’t come back with a “yes”. One pitch I was even able to blow wide open and turn it into four new books, by yours truly and three other writers far more talented than myself, that will pit some enduring pulp heroes against some equally enduring monsters in this Octobers RETURN OF THE MONSTERS from Moonstone Books. I’ve also plotted out four short stories for my original New Pulp character Totem’s new anthology coming in 2012 from Pro Se and written the first five thousand-ish words for my first full-length novel, coming in 2012 from Airship 27 featuring my original New Pulp hero Runemaster. Somewhere in all that, I’ve proofed the first Black Bat graphic novel (yes, it’s the first of many to come, never fear!), worked on my all-ages series Lions, Tigers and Bears and a few other comic projects I have going. Somewhere in all that, I’ve found time to hang with my beautiful wife and awesome son as we prepare to move cross country once again in June.
AP:You have a very special project coming up for Moonstone that deals with one of your original characters.What is that?
MB: One of the aforementioned pitches was for the first ever full-length Death Angel novel, coming in the new Moonstone Books New Pulp novel line. I plotted out the story a few weeks back and just ironed out the agreement with Moonstone last week. Hopefully, this time next year, I’ll have three prose books featuring Runemaster, Totem and Death Angel sitting on my bookshelf… and hopefully on your bookshelf, too.
AP:For readers who don’t know, can you share some background on Death Angel, who she is, what inspired you, the whole kit and caboodle?
MB: Death Angel is my take on the dark vigilante type, with a twist. Years ago I developed a slightly different character I’d dubbed Revenant. He was pretty much just a vehicle for me to tell stories I would rather tell while writing Moon Knight comics, I’m ashamed to admit. Sadly, doing that meant Revenant wasn’t really fully-fleshed out as his own man, so to speak. I worked with an artist to try to pitch some Revenant comics, but it just didn’t work out. I shelved the character for a bit, then brought him back to insert into a team of heroes I was commissioned to develop for an upstart comic publisher in 2005 that never got off the ground. Once again, Revenant was put back on the shelf.
Then, when I’d convinced Moonstone to roll with the pulp stuff, I revisited Revenant, scrapped just about everything I’d developed about him except the mask, belt and cape and reinvented him as Death Angel. However, Death Angel was anything but a Moon Knight clone, as I found myself in one of those writing modes where I could barely type fast enough to keep up with all the ideas for the character that sprang up from a show I watched on science fiction technology and some recent world news I’d read. I gave DA a suit that enhanced strength, based on technology first dreamed up in the 1940s and finally proven to work in the early years of the 21st century. Then, I spent some time studying photon and aural pulse effects and how they could create hypnotic states in living things – another “fringe science” thing brought up by a sci-fi writer in the early 20th century and proven to work at the end of the millennia.
Once I had all that worked out, Rebekah Killian came to life, battered soul and all. Revenant had gone from a two-dimensional guy beating up goons in a dark alley to a fully fleshed out female bringer of vengeance striking terror into the entire underworld.
Death Angel debuted in the back of Phantom: KGB Noir #1 and the fan response was overwhelming. The amount of comments I received stating people wanted more of Death Angel actually outweighed the amount of feedback I received for the Phantom part of that issue, which blew me away.
That’s when Moonstone agreed to let Death Angel be the flip-side of the Black Bat coin in the Return of the Originals books. I wrote a five-part story, the first four parts from each hero’s point of view and the fifth, the story’s climax, would bring the two together. The first three chapters in that saga appear in the Black Bat graphic novel #1 with the remaining chapters coming in #2.
But, all that is just a build-up to putting Death Angel in a spotlight all her own, which is the goal of the new novel.
AP:Death Angel has graced the pages of both comics as well as some text/image based widevision fiction, but what made you want to bring her to life in a novel?What about that medium compliments the character and her story?
MB: Well, the New Pulp movement has really excited me. I’ve been reading pulps since I was an adolescent and that style of story-telling has always cranked up my adrenaline levels. Several people I know, most notably my lovely wife, have been pushing me for years to concentrate more on writing prose than comics. The people who know me best think I’m better suited to write prose than comics, so the thought has intrigued me. I dabbled in prose with a handful of Phantom stories, then I did the wide-vision tales for the Pulp Fiction magazine starring Black Bat, Captain Future and Death Angel. It seemed a natural progression from there to start doing novels. I’ve ghost written a few so far and I really wanted to sit down, now that I have the confidence I can do it, and write my own characters in my own stories. I’m feeling really honored that Airship 27, Pro Se and Moonstone all have the confidence in my ability to let me write these tales, too.
AP:Does the fact that Death Angel is a female underneath all the costume and weapons change how you approach writing her?
MB: Absolutely. I mean, anyone who writes a female character the same way they write a male character shouldn’t be writing. Rebekah Killian is a tough woman, but underneath the wings, fangs and claws of Death Angel is a battered young girl who drives all of Angel’s decisions and actions. She is at once a mother tigress, defending her young and an intelligent woman seeking to make the world a safer place for those she cares about. Unfortunately (for the bad guys at least), somewhere in there is a little mental instability brought on by years of child abuse.
AP:You’re obviously a writer and creator influenced by the whole ‘Pulp’ style.What aspects of that style have had the most impact on you, maybe favorite authors and/or characters from the classic days of Pulp?
MB: I’m an adrenalin junkie. Period. Always have been. Princess of Mars from Edgar Rice Burroughs, all the Conan tales from Robert E. Howard, the original Phantom, Black Bat and Captain Future stories and all the rest are all adrenalin charged story-telling at its best. A roller coaster never lets up until the ride is over and the same can be said for just about every pulp tale I’ve ever read. Once I hit the words “The End” I’m a little worn out, but in a good way. If a story can actually make me feel a little physical exhaustion when I’m finished with it, then it sticks with me. A well written pulp scene leaves me with clenched shoulder muscles and a quickened pulse. Those are the kinds of stories I aspire to write, the kind that make the reader respond on levels much deeper than surface consciousness. I realize I still have a really long way to go before I can write something at the elevation of the John Carter or Black Bat or Conan tales, but I’m having fun trying.
AP:Noting the influences of classic Pulp on you, You’re also one of the movers and shakers behind what has recently become termed The New Pulp Movement.What, in your view, does that term actually mean and why are you throwing your hat into the movement concept?
MB: For me, New Pulp is just modern day talent creating stories with the same adrenalin-charged story telling that the original pulps exuded. I feel honored to be named alongside guys like Ron Fortier, Barry Reese, Scott Eckert, Martin Powell and so many other extremely talented minds and that feeling brings with it a sense of responsibility to hold up my end. So, it only seems like the right thing to do to toss my hat full in and do whatever I can to push this thing up the hill. I’ve always been an all or nothing kinda guy, and pulp has been “all-in” in me since I was watching black and white Flash Gordon serials on Saturday afternoon when I was five. It’s just who I am…
AP:Some may have concern that New Pulp’s intent is to change the basic structure and classic ways Pulp is written.It’s been made clear by others that that isn’t the case at all.What is your thought on this and if not change, what does New Pulp bring to the table that can’t be found in reprints of old pulp magazines?
MB: To me, if what’s created veers from the basic structure, it’s no longer pulp. I mean, if I write a heavily character development laden romance story that has zero action and takes place entirely within the confines of a bedroom, then I call it New Pulp, I’m only fooling myself. I can’t create something that’s not pulp and make it pulp anymore than I can write a horror story and call it a comedy. It just won’t happen and I’ll look delusional when I’m done. That being said, if men like Burroughs, Doc Smith and Howard never wrote anything, instead satisfying themselves with re-reading The Curse of Capistrano forever, we wouldn’t have John Carter and Conan. The same can be said for authors from Lester Dent and Edmond Hamilton to Barry Reese and Van Allen Pelixco. I love the old stuff, but there’s only so many times I can ride the same ride before I know it so well it loses a little luster and I start wanting to take a new ride. But, that new ride has to thrill me the same way the old one did, or it just isn’t worth it.
AP:You are a very religious man.How, if at all, do your beliefs influence your creative process and most notably, how did your religious convictions influence your creation of Death Angel?
MB: I’m not religious at all. Religion is a set of rules and edicts created by men to control one another. I do, however, firmly believe in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and God Almighty. I have a personal relationship with them that no amount of rules and regulations can equal. One thing that boils my blood is supposed religious people doing acts of evil under the guise of religion, as we’ve seen in growing frequency lately, most notably the number of priests found guilty of child abuse. To me, that’s a whole new form of evil that’s not just plain wrong, but duplicitous and deceitful, bringing harm to far more than just the immediate victims and their families. When religion goes wrong, bad things happen every time without fail.
Death Angel is a product of religion gone wrong. A young girl raised in a religious orphanage, under the auspices of being protected by pious men and women who actually took advantage of the children in every way imaginable, and some unimaginable. The disconnect between Rebekah’s spiritual belief and her childhood experiences is what birthed Death Angel. While the character in no way is meant as a vehicle to voice socio-political views, those views do shape who she is and where she’s going.
AP:What does the future hold for Mike Bullock? More than one Death Angel novel?Anything else?
MB: Well, Eric Johns is already turning in some pretty sweet pages for the RETURN OF THE MONSTERS tale starring Black Bat and Death Angel versus Dracula entitled ANGELS AND THE UNDEAD. I’m also working on the Runemaster novel, a new comic book series that should be announced real soon with Fernando “KGB Noir” Peniche doing the line art and three novels at once. I found out the other day that Doug Klauba will be painting the cover for the Death Angel novel, which really excites me as not only am I huge fan of Doug’s work, but I consider him to be one of my indispensably great friends. Going forward, I have a handful of other New Pulp and comic works coming including a Black Bat/Spider crossover from Moonstone I just finished up last week. Next month brings the release of Black Bat graphic novel #1 and Lions, Tigers and Bears volume III. Oh, and in all that I’m also penning a Black Bat novel for Moonstone that I don’t think has been announced yet, so there’s the All Pulp exclusive for the day. And, I’m also in talks to take the writing lead on an massive story created by a popular musician that can only be described as utterly epic in scale. Look for news on that in July.
Do you actually drink from those collectible glasses you’ve been hoarding all these years? You might want to give that another thought.
The Associated Press conducted a test on glasses featuring Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Batman, and characters from The Wizard of Oz and they discovered these collectibles exceed federal limits for lead in children’s products by up to
To break it down, the Feds limit lead content in children’s products to 0.03 percent. These glasses have a lead content between 16 percent and 30.2 percent. Not good.
These glasses were also high cadmium, which is considered even more dangerous than lead but there are no federal limits at this time.
Just in time for all the movie hype, Warners’ Green Lantern glass proved to be the most toxic of those superhero products, exceeding the federal maximum by 677 times.
A spokesperson from Warner Bros. told the AP “It is generally understood that the primary consumer for these products is an adult, usually a collector.” Amusingly, Warner’s own website features these classes
alongside school lunch boxes and children’s t-shirts.
On the other hand, if you’re a collector with no children and no intention to use these glasses to quench your thirst, you better buy them right quick.
What is it with Stuart Townsend and characters with swords? First, he leaves the role of Aragorn early in the shooting of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and now we hear that he’s out of the role of Fandral in the adaptation of Marvel’s Thor. AP cites that old standby, “creative differences”. Fandral will now be played by Joshua Dallas, who was in the Doctor Who episode “Silence in the Library”.
I can think of a few possibilities:
His swordsmanship isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.
Director Kenneth Branagh thinks having Townsend leave the production early is some sort of a good luck charm (see LOTR).
Brittany Murphy, the actress who got her start in the sleeper hits Clueless and 8 Mile but best known to comics fans as Shellie in Sin City and Luanne Platter in King Of The Hill, died Sunday in Los Angeles at the age of 32, according to AP reports.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Spokeswoman Sally Stewart said Murphy died at 10:04 a.m. She would not provide a cause of death or any other information.
The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to a call at 8 a.m. Sunday at the home Murphy shared with her husband, British screenwriter Simon Monjack, in West Hollywood hills. Murphy was transported to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Los Angeles police
have opened an investigation into Murphy’s death, Officer Norma