Tagged: Robin Hood

John Ostrander: Belief Suspended

There’s the concept in fantastic literature known as the “willing suspension of disbelief” by which the reader/audience accepts fantastic elements in a story that are not found in reality, semi-believing them for the moment for the sake of the story. If the creator is invoking it, he or she must be careful not to jar that suspension of disbelief.

It’s an important concept for those of us who labor in the fields of SF, fantasy, horror, and comics. Two things I find crucial to make the concept work – an internal consistency within the story and a consistency within the continuity. By an internal consistency I mean that something that was given as true on page five remains true on page thirty. If the character knows something they can’t suddenly un-know it just for the convenience of the plot. Likewise, if something has been established as part of the continuity, you can’t just disregard it willy-nilly. It doesn’t mean that continuity can never change but there needs to be reasons that it changes unless you’re going to do what DC does and just throw the baby out with the bathwater and start continuity over.

Something else that confounds my suspension of disbelief is when something in the story just ignores reality. I went to Independence Day and I wasn’t expecting much, just a good mindless action film. Unfortunately, there was incident after incident of things that were just patently impossible that it threw me right out of the story. To wit: Air Force One is taking off despite explosions going on all around. In fact, one explosion almost engulfs it. It comes up the tail of the plane before the aircraft manages to speed away. Never mind that the shock waves would have torn the plane apart – it was a Cool Visual.

Take an episode of Doctor Who this past season, Robots of Sherwood. Aliens are escaping Sherwood Forest on a ship that uses gold to power its furnace. A little more gold will cause the power plant to overload and explode. With the help of the Doctor and his companion, Robin Hood shoots a golden arrow at the ship that causes the ship to go boom. Never mind that the arrow would have just hit the hull and never come near the power plant. Never mind that the weight of an arrow made of gold would cause it to fly about three feet.

It’s too bad, too; I actually really enjoyed the episode up until then.

I’m willing to suspend my disbelief; after all, I was raised Roman Catholic and you’re told by the Church to believe that a wafer of bread becomes the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ and that you are supposed to eat it. As a kid, I just accepted that. I’m open to all kinds of things.

Every time I open a book or enter a movie theater or turn on the TV, I’m willing to accept the premise as possible at least for the duration of the experience. It’s when I’m not allowed to stay in that moment because I’m jarred out of it by something stupid that violates the premises listed above that I actually get a bit pissy about it. My time has been wasted and I do not take that kindly.

My own rule of thumb is to always ground the fantasy in as much reality as I can. The more accurate and real the non-fantasy parts of the story feel, the more the reader can identify with it and the more likely it is that they will accept the fantasy elements. Earn a reader’s trust and they will follow you anywhere. I know I do.

 

I.A. Watson Plots Robin Hood’s End!

Cover Art: Mike Manley
Airship 27 Productions is extremely proud to announce the release of I.A. Watson’s third Robin Hood adventure novel, “Robin Hood – Freedom’s Outlaw.”
 
As depicted in the first two books of this amazing trilogy, King of Sherwood and Arrow of Justice, the upstart outlaw of Sherwood Forest has become a thorn in Prince John’s side. All the efforts by his sadistic stooge, the Sheriff of Nottingham, to capture the elusive figure known as Robin Hood have failed.
 
Now, in this climatic final chapter to I.A. Watson’s exciting trilogy, Freedom’s Outlaw has Robin’s enemy devising a devious scheme to draw him out into the opening by laying siege to the castle of his ally, Sir Richard at the Lee.  But the trickster of the greenwoods may just be two steps ahead of them.  Meanwhile the Lady Marion uses her royal connections to bring all parties together before the High Nobles Court in London Town where the brash rogue’s fate will be decided.
 
Surrounding all these events is the whispered talk of the appearance of a White Hart in Sherwood Forest, a powerful symbol to the people for whoever captures her will be acknowledged the true King of the Forest.
 
“I’ve always loved Robin Hood stories,” explains Airship 27 Productions Managing Editor Ron Fortier. “He’s such a classic hero figure and it is fun to watch each new generation discover him for the very first time; be it in books, on TV or in the movies.  With this particular trilogy, Ian Watson has recaptured the thrills and excitement of this well known saga and made it fresh and new again.  No easy task.”
 
Now I.A. Watson brings his stunning, clever and historically based adventure to a rousing, crowd cheering conclusion that will leave all Robin Hood fans applauding.  The book features a stunning cover by Pulp Factory Award winner Mike Manley with interior illustrations and book design by fellow PF Award winner, Rob Davis and includes a very special post-essay on the character’s role in British history by the author.  At last the finale is here and it is one you will never forget!
 
AIRSHIP 27 PRODUCTIONS –  NEW PULPS FOR A NEW GENERATION!
 
The book is now available at Create Space and should be at Amazon and on Kindle within the next few days.

Airship 27 Takes Aim With New Robin Hood Novel

Cover Art: Mike Manley
Art: Mike Manley

New Pulp Publisher, Airship 27 Productions shared artist Mike Manley’s newly completed cover painting for the upcoming Robin Hood novel by I.A. Watson. This new Robin Hood novel is the third in the trilogy series. Volumes 1 and 2 are still available from Airship 27 Productions.

Look for more news on the upcoming Robin Hood book 3 as soon as they are available.

Stay tuned pulp fans.

NEW PULP FROM TOM JOHNSON

New Pulp Author Tom Johnson has posted information on his latest projects on his blog.

From Tom’s Blog:
Over the years I’ve written new stories featuring many of the original pulp characters, as well as some in the new pulp tradition. If you are a fan of any of these character, you might be interested in my short story collections from Altus Press www.altuspress.com/ and NTD www.bloodredshadow.com/ These are available also on Amazon, plus I may have a few copies on hand if you would rather get them from me at fadingshadows40@gmail.com

PULP DETECTIVES, available from Altus Press and Amazon, $24.95: Nine all-new stories starring the classic pulp heroes of the 1930s, featuring the following characters, written by pulp scholar Tom Johnson, it’s nearly 350 pages of excitement:
The Phantom Detective in “Satan’s Minions”
The Black Bat “Murder Under The Big Top”
The Lone Eagle in “The Nazi Spider Staffel”
The Masked Detective in “The Masked Detective’s Deadly Trail”
Secret Agent X in “The Spider’s Web”
The Black Bat in “Guns of Vengence”
The Phantom Detective (sort of) in “Fangs of Death”
 Nightwind in “Mystery of Haunted Range”

EXCITING PULP TALES, available from Altus Press and Amazon, 24.95: The exciting sequel to Tom Johnson’s 2010 anthology, PULP DETECTIVES, brings you ten more all-new stories featuring classic pulp heroes:
The Angel in “The Devil of A Case”
The Green Ghost in “The Case of The Blind Soldier”
The Cobra in “Curse of The Viper”
The Crimson Mask in “The Mask of Anubis”
Gentle Jones in “Nazis Over Washington”
The Purple Scar in “The Skull Killer”
Funny Face in “The Star of Africa”
Mr. Death in “Coffins of Death”
The Jungle Queen in “Jungle Terror”
Ki-Gor in “The Lost Valley of Ja Far”

PULP ECHOES, available from NTD and Amazon, $15.50: Seven new stories in the pulp tradition, both new and original characters:
The Bat in “Blind As A Bat”
The Crimson Clown in “The Crimson Clown – Killer”
Nibs Holloway battles Dr. Death in “Till Death Do Us Part”
The Black Ghost in “Carnival of Death”
Captain Anthony Adventure in “Terror In The North Country”
The Black Cat in “A Cat Among Dogs”
Senora Scorpion in “Senora Scorpion”

Also available now on Kindle are three new books by Tom Johnson.

HUNTER’S MOON, featuring the Moon Man in his best adventure since Frederick C. Davis. With the police closing in on Angel’s hideaway, the danger for the Moon Man may be escalating for Great City’s Robin Hood. To compound matters, tragedy strikes closer to home. This time, he will not be able to provide help to someone close to him. Sergeant Steve Thatcher, seeing the people struggling to survive, dons the mysterious garments of the Robin Hood thief to relieve the filthy rich of their ill-gotten gains to be distributed among the poor by ex boxer Ned Dargan. When they come up against an illegal weapons manufacturer masquerading as a toy company, his fiancé is taken prisoner by criminals and he must not only remove them of their money, but put a stop to their weapons sale overseas. $1.99

IN THE SILENCE OF DEATH, Colonel Jeremiah Custer’s Wild West Show comes across murder in a small Texas town. A mystifying murder mystery ensnares the famous criminologist and sharpshooter, Colonel Jeremiah Custer when his team encounters a young boy accused of mayhem. The lad cannot deny the charges for he can neither hear nor speak. The scientific brain of the greatest man hunter is put to task as he attempts to unravel this new crime! The ex intelligence officer puts his scientific brain to work to prove that the deaf mute boy is not the killer. Follow Colonel Custer and his aides as they unravel this deep mystery, and bring to justice this evil murderer. $1.99

THE DEATH TOWER. Secret Agent X is back in The Death Tower. What could a German agent be after in America? During Secret Agent X’s recovery at the Montgomery Mansion after the battle with Zerna’s drug gang in 1937, Betty Dale falls into a trap while following a suspect and is captured by a German Spy. Her whereabouts are unknown, and indeed, it’s not known if she’s even alive. Although the Agent hasn’t fully recovered from his previous battle with Zerna and the underworld, it’s imperative for him to locate and rescue the girl. For Betty Dale is more precious to him than anything in the world. If she has been harmed, he will exact vengeance on those responsible! $.99

To learn more, visit Tom Johnson’s Amazon Author Page or his blog.

New Who Review: “The Angels Take Manhattan”

The Fall of the Ponds.  The Last Page.  The Great Weeping.  You knew it was coming, The Grand Moff Steven made it clear.  Who died, who lived, and who will have a LOT of explaining to do to the parents.  Spoilers abound, even more than usual, so here we go…

THE ANGELS TAKE MANHATTAN
by Steven Moffat
Directed by Nick Hurran

The episode jumps between 1938 and 2012 Manhattan – in 1938, detective Sam Garner is asked to investigate a mysterious apartment house “where the angels live”, only to meet…himself, years older.  In modern day, The Doctor is visiting Central Park with Amy and Rory, when Rory is sent backwards by a weeping angel, into the arms of his daughter River Song.  How do you fight an enemy that can suddenly make you go decades into the past?  Perhaps the answer in some cases is: you can’t.

The story bears more than a few parallels to the original Angels story, Blink, as it should. In both cases, The Doctor’s actions are linked, even dictated, by a set of notes (here concealed in a book) provided before he begins, but written afterwards by one of the parties involved.

GUEST STAR REPORT

Mike McShane (Grayle), an American actor and comedian, was one of the regulars on the original British version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? He played Friar Tuck in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, the hypnotherapist in Office Space, and (sigh) Professor Keenbean in Richie Rich.  He’s also one of a small numbers of actors who got to play another “Doctor” – he provided the voice for recurring and ubiquitous scientist Cid in Final Fantasy X and its sequel, X-2.

MONSTER REPORT The Weeping Angels made their first appearance only a few years back, in Steven Moffat’s spectacular and Hugo-winning episode Blink.  They’re described by the Doctor as “The only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely”.  Their preferred method of taking their prey is to send them back in time.  They feed on the potential energy of the life the victims were supposed to live in the present.  The victim arrives back in time with no real idea how they got there – some may go mad, some may injure themselves, but many simply adapt and live out the remainder of their days there in the past.  They are functionally indestructible – when they are seen by anyone, they “Quantum-lock”, or transform into stone. They move impossibly fast when they can, hence The Doctor’s advice, “Don’t blink”.  In their second appearance in The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone, the Angels were in a very weakened state, and could not (or chose not to) use their standard attack, sticking to simple acts of violence as they slowly drained power from the crashed spaceship the Byzantium.  Here, they’re at full strength again.  They also have the power to replicate themselves – it’s explained that any image of a Weeping Angel itself becomes a Weeping Angel (likely because of Quantum), in this episode, it’s suggested they can infect or take over other statues, such as ones in a fountain or park, or even big honkin’ ones out in the harbor.

Something I’ve mentioned before: There’s a short story from 1984 called “Bones” by P.C. Hodgell that features a race of creatures called Vhors, skeletal ratlike creatures who, like the Angels, can only move when they’re not being observed. Surely a case of parallel evolution, but a pointed lesson in how there’s only so many truly original ideas, and how it’s all based on how you use the ideas and tropes we’ve been recycling since Og the caveman first set in stone (literally) the tale of a young boy who was destined to bring down a great kingdom run by an evil monarch.

The Statue of Liberty has had more than a few appearances in science fiction.  It was previously animated by Mood Slime and Jackie Wilson in Ghostbusters 2. It was fitted with a honkin’ huge  Neuralyzer in Men In Black 2. And of course it was seen as a twisted broken wreck at the end of Planet of the Apes.

BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS – Trivia and production details

DARKER AND DARKER – It took me a while to realize the image in the logo this week’s opening credits was the crown of the Statue of Liberty.  Also, note that the color is all but gone from the TARDIS’ trip through the time vortex, and the electrical distortions have increased greatly.  Does it represent the immediate trouble of the trip to 1938, or a continuing change to the vortex?

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION – This episode was filmed in Manhattan, where it was followed around by hundreds of fans who spread the news of filming location via social media, which meant the crowds grew exponentially over the day.  In a recent interview (modesty forbids mentioning the writer), they discussed the excitement of filming in NYC, and the zeal and courtesy of the fans.  And one of the wonderful things about the city is there are plenty of buildings that would not look out of place in 1938, allowing for lots of sites to film.

YOU’RE MUCH TOO NICE TO BE A GRUBBY DETECTIVE ALL YOUR LIFE – There’s a lot of references to detective fiction and film noir in this episode.  Mike McShane plays Mr. Grayle – the Grayle family was featured in Raymond Chandler’s Farewell My Lovely, which was adapted twice to film, once as Murder My Sweet, and again under its original title. Detective “Sam Garner” is clearly in the style of classic dicks Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe, the latter of which was once played by…James Garner. “Melody Malone”, while also mirroring “Marlowe”, reminds one of Michael J. Malone, hero of Craig Rice’s (a female author – Craig was her middle name, Georgina her first), one adapted to film with the postcard-ready title Having Wonderful Crime.  Mike McShane is clearly playing a character in the Sydney Greenstreet “Fat Man” style.

I READ THE NEWS TODAY, OH BOY – I can write off  “The New York Record” as not being allowed to use the masthead of a more…Timesy…paper.  But “Detroit Lions win Superbowl”?  For one thing, does that mean this episode takes place in February?  Or just that the British have no idea when the Superbowl takes place?  Or what teams are worth a damn?

ROLLS ROYCE? – The plaque The Doctor does a quick recce in seems to be from the engine of a Supermarine Spitfire, last seen (flying in space, yet) in Victory of the Daleks. There’s two explanations for that.  One is by  the implication of its jury-rigged appearance that the TARDIS has had many, many post-showroom upgrades with whatever parts could be found, hence its patchwork appearance.  But a concept that was to be mentioned in Neil Gaiman’s story The Doctor’s Wife is that a TARDIS’ Chameleon Circuit affects the interior of the ship as well as the outside.  The Doctor and Idris look out on a junkyard, and once she reminds him of the fact, he realizes he’s not looking at junk, but the disguised remnants of various TARDISes.  So he isn’t building a console from a hairdryer and coat hangers, but from highly technical components that LOOK like a hairdryer and coat hangers.

“Vortex Manipulator – less bulky than a TARDIS…a motorbike through traffic” River’s had the device since the events of The Pandorica Opens, when she bought it off the corpulent blue-skinned trader Dorium.  The Vortex Manipulator is standard equipment for the time agency, and one is almost always on the wrist of the rakishly charming Captain Jack Harkness.  The Doctor describes using it as “slightly addictive”, but odds are River can handle it.

“Once we know it’s coming, it’s written in stone” – The rules for the immutability of time are…rather mutable. The Doctor rather makes a habit of changing things he knows will happen, though in fairness, they don’t always go well, such as the crushed temporal reality of The Wedding of River Song.

“Are you an archaeologist as well as a detective?” Indeed she is – her Doctorate is is Archaeology, mainly so she can go about searching for events related to The Doctor.

“Oh, I know how they work” / “And it’s Professor Song Now” These two quotes allow us to place where this adventure happens in River’s timeline.  It’s after the events of Angels / Stone, and even a bit later in her life after that, as she’s earned her Professorship. She was surprised to hear she would become a Professor in the Angels adventure, but she’d she gained it in her “first/last” adventure, Silence in the Library. So this is interesting, in that it’s the first of her appearances that have happened “out of order”. To date, each of her appearances have been happening in reverse order – the first time we meet her, she’s known The Doctor for years, and it’s her last adventure, as she “dies”.  Each adventure after that, she’s come from a point further back in her time line.  She knew about “the crash of the Byzantium” in Silence in the Library, but during the crash (in Angels/Stone), she didn’t know she’d be a professor. Similarly, she mentions that she’ll see The Doctor again “When The Pandorica Opens“, another event that had yet to occur to him, and so on.  Basically, we’ve been following a specific story arc for River – now that it’s done and her big secret is revealed, it’s okay to pick and choose her time of appearances again.

“Oh I was pardoned ages ago…turns out the person I killed never existed in the first place” More evidence of The Doctor doing all he can to fade away, continuing the job that Oswin started for him in Asylum of the Daleks.  He didn’t show up in Solomon’s database in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship either.  Of course, there’s a faction who suggests that he’s not the one doing it, and that someone else is assisting him, possibly even without his knowledge…

“He’s been moved in space, but not in time” – This is a change from the stated abilities of the Angels – until now, they’ve been only able to displace in time. If they could do both, why didn’t Rory appear in front of Winter Quay when he first arrived, since that was their intended target?  Perhaps they can only do one or the other, so they get their targets back to when they need them, then worry about the where?  There’s also the possibility of a scene missing where he simply escaped from the basement and went looking for help, which would rather make more sense.

“That was a stupid waste of regeneration energy” It’s only paying back a favor – River, conceived in the TARDIS and possessing Time Lord DNA, could regenerate, and has, at least twice.  She gave up all the rest of her regenerations to restore The Doctor to life and health in Let’s Kill Hitler.  Likely that’s not a trick he could perform with any other person, which deftly explains why he’s never done it before.  Unless you count giving the fuel cells of the TARDIS a jump start by giving it about ten years of his life in Rise of the Cybermen.

“I can’t ever take the TARDIS back there, the timelines are too scrambled” – Lucky all the times he’s already been there have already happened, then.  Christmas of 1938 is when the events of The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe take place.  It’s also when they landed in Hitler’s meeting room in Let’s Kill Hitler.

“I will never be able to see you again” I don’t see why.  They spend many decades in Manhattan (presuming they don’t go traveling), and the time distortion is only centered around 1938, so there’s no reason he can’t pop by a year or two later, or even decades later.  Besides, River is already making plans to go see them, to drop off the book she’s now got to go write.

The seeming finality of the separation may be be partly based on the wishes of Karen Gillan.  In the aforementioned interview, she said,  “I’ve always said that when I go, I want it to be for good. Because I want that final scene to have that same impact, maybe ten years on. I want people to be able to revisit it and still have the same emotion. That’s really important for me, so for that reason, I think I’m going to rule out any returns.” However, when I quietly complimented her on her ability to lie, she replied, “I learned it from the best!”

I expect at the very least we’ll see a rasher of fanfic of Amy and Rory’s life in New York, the evils they fought and the lives they saved.  We already know (based on River’s plan) that Amy will be involved in publishing in the years after her re-arrival in this pre-war period and beyond. So clearly they CAN be contacted. One can only assume they’ll use their foreknowledge of history to make a few successful investments to keep themselves off the streets as well.

Let’s do a bit of math.  Amy was born in 1989, so when she met The Doctor (for the second time) in 2008, she was about 19. Last week, she surmises it’s been ten years of her personal timeline, so she’s now 29. 74 years pass between being popped back to 1938 and seeing their gravestone in 2012, where she’s listed as having died at 87. So unless she REALLY lied about her age, she and Rory are not only dead here, but died at least a couple of years, maybe decades back.  Also, it’s not made clear, but it’s implied that Amy and Rory do not necessarily die at the same time – she’s five years older than him, and her name appears under his.

“This is the story of Amelia Pond, and this is how it ends” Back in her first episode, young Amelia Pond is sitting waiting for The Doctor to return – he doesn’t, not to another fourteen years, but she hears the wheezing engines of the TARDIS in the sky, so at least she know she hadn’t dreamt it.  A nice callback to that first episode, and a good end to the story.

BIG BAD REPORT / CLEVER THEORY DEPARTMENT

“You think you’ll just come back to life again?” “When DON’T I?” There’s been two recurring themes to Amy and Rory’s life with The Doctor – death (usually of Rory) and waiting.  Amy waited 14 years for The Doctor to return in The Eleventh Hour.  Rory guarded the Pandorica for millennia between that and The Big Bang.  And in The Girl Who Waited, Amy was lost for decades in a parallel timeline, and her opinion of The Doctor…somewhat soured.  Rory’s made a habit of dying, something that’s become a bit of a running joke with both the show and the fans.  So it’s quite fitting that in this episode, both themes are referenced. The Old Rory of 1938 is clearly overjoyed to see his Amy again, quite the difference between her reaction to him in The Girl Who Waited. In both cases, the timelines vanished, with only the memories remaining.

Similarly, Rory dies.  A lot.  Sometimes winked entirely out of existence, sometimes just long enough for be revived after drowning, but it gets to the point where here, he’s betting on his past performance to guarantee future results.

“Does the bulb on top need changing?” “I just changed it” He did too, in Pond Life. But it’s another appearance of a recurring theme that a few folks have mentioned – flickering and dead lightbulbs.  They flickered whenever a Dalek Puppet activated in Asylum of the Daleks, Brian was trying to help with one in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, they flickered and sparked all over the place in A Town Called Mercy,  power went out a couple times in The Power of Three, and they kept going out all over the place in this episode.  Just a common symptom of teleportation or alien power use, or a further suggestion of something else?

NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO – Always a fun and tantalizing question to ask when the next episode isn’t for several months; in this case, Christmas.  We know a few things for sure:

Jenna-Louse Coleman will make her premiere as The Doctor’s new Companion. Though after her surprise appearance as Oswin Oswald in Asylum of the Daleks, all expectations are off.  It has been rumored, based on overheard lines during location shoots, that her character’s name is Clara. Steven Moffat has said in interviews that one of the things interesting about her is where The Doctor meets her. Now, that could mean any number of things – it could refer to the fact that they “met” in Asylum, but I had a Clever Theory of my own back when I heard that.  The most surprising place for The Doctor to meet someone would be in the TARDIS itself.

In this interview on the BBC YouTube channel, a young person asks about why/how Jenna (as Oswin) appears in Asylum.  The Moff’s answer is telling and maddening – “All of that will be explained in the future … that’s the question I want you asking”. So clearly he does have something insidious planned.  He also was adamant that her character was “as yet un-named”, blockading the overheard dialogue.

Richard E. Grant and Tom Ward makes guest appearances in the episode.  Richard Grant has played The Doctor TWICE before – once in the oft-referenced Comic Relief special, and once in the animated episode Scream of the Shalka.

Vastra and Jenny (Neve Macintosh and Catrin Stewart) will be back from A Good Man Goes to War, but so will Strax (Dan Starkey), the Sontaran sentenced to serve as a nurse.  One wonders if this adventure will take place before or after the events of Good Man.

We’ll see you again then.  If you’ve got any requests for Doctor Who articles to keep my busy till then, do let me know.

BLACKTHORN: DYNASTY OF MARS– Novel Continues the Apocalyptic Saga!

White Rocket Books proudly announces the release in trade paperback and Kindle e-book formats of I. A. Watson’s BLACKTHORN: DYNASTY OF MARS, a new novel that reveals the shocking secrets of Princess Ariawhile continuing the bold and exciting adventures of John Blackthorn, PulpArk Award winner for “Best New Character of the Year.”

Eldest child of her world’s ruling dynasty, Aria is also the daughter of the evil Black Sorcerer—one of the dreaded First Men of Mars—and has been imbued with his sorcerous might. Rebelling against her father’s tyranny, Princess Aria has joined forces with a human soldier and a savage Mock-Man, and now dares to challenge the First Men’s rule. Will Aria’s power be enough to tip the balance in John Blackthorn’s favor, and free her world—or will she betray the rebels to her father—or worse—and bring all they have fought for crashing down?

BLACKTHORN: DYNASTY OF MARS, by award-winning author I. A. Watson (Robin Hood; Sherlock Holmes) and with a spectacular cover painted by Adam Diller, takes the saga of John Blackthorn and his brave companions to the next level—and beyond—with a grand adventure stretching down the centuries and across the war-torn face of post-apocalyptic Mars!

Created by Van Allen Plexico (Sentinels, Lucian) in the spirit of “Thundarr the Barbarian” and “John Carter of Mars,” the Blackthorn Saga has already been nominated for seven PulpArk Awards and one Pulp Factory Award.  Now, says Plexico, “ Ian Watson has pulled back the curtain and given readers the chance to dig into the rich history of future Mars, and to witness the rise of Princess Aria from pampered aristocrat to powerful leader of a planet-wide rebellion—along with a couple of guys named Blackthorn and Oglok. If you thought you knew the Blackthorn story, you ain’t seen nothing yet!”

White Rocket Booksis a leader in the New Pulp movement, publishing exciting action and adventure novels and anthologies since 2005, in both traditional and electronic formats.   White Rocket books have hit the Amazon.com Top 15-by-Genre and have garnered praise from everyone from Marvel Comics Vice-President Tom Brevoort to Kirkus Reviews.

On sale as of July 28, 2012, BLACKTHORN: DYNASTY OF MARS is a 250-page, $15.95, 6×9 format trade paperback from White Rocket Books, and a $2.99 e-book for Kindle.

ISBN-13: 978-0-61567-654-8  (paperback)

ASIN: B008NYCVLQ  (Kindle)

Jerry Robinson: 1922 – 2011

Comics legend Jerry Robinson died this morning at the age of 89.

Best known for his work with Bob Kane during the earliest days of Batman, the Trenton, New Jersey born artist started off as a teenager lettering and inking the Batman feature in Batman, Detective Comics and World’s Finest Comics. As Batman rapidly grew in popularity, he progressed to the role of character designer and, shortly thereafter, penciler of the feature. It was Robinson who named Dick Grayson “Robin,” not after himself (as often reported) but after N.C. Wyeth’s famed illustrations of Robin Hood. Shortly thereafter, Jerry designed Batman’s most famed enemy, The Joker. His original art for that initial design, in the form of a playing card, has been on display at various museums across the nation.

(It should be noted that the late Bob Kane disputed this and most other creator-credits regarding The Batman. As a matter of contractual obligation, DC Comics gives Kane sole creator credit for the feature, a matter of significant dispute with Robinson as well as writer Bob Finger.)

In later years, Robinson started an international newspaper syndicate (the Cartoonists & Writers Syndicate) and wrote an important history of the comics medium, titled The Comics: An Illustrated History of Comic Strip Art. He also served as president of the National Cartoonists Society in the late 1960s.

His other comic book work included Bat Masterson and Lassie for Dell Comics, Black Terror for Standard Publications, Green Hornet for Harvey, Vigilante and Green Arrow for DC (with his friend and frequent collaborator, Mort Meskin), Green Lama and Atoman for Spark Publications, Journey Into Mystery, Battlefront, Crime Exposed, Strange Tales and Battle Action for Marvel, Rocky and His Fiendish Friends for Gold Key, and Astra for Central Park Media.

Jerry received numerous honors and tributes during his long life, including four separate awards from the National Cartoonists Society: the Comic Book award in 1956, the Newspaper Panel Cartoon in 1963 for Still Life, the Special Features Award in 1965 for Flubs and Fluffs, and the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. He was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2004 and, in 2010, was the recipient of the first annual The Hero Initiative Dick Giordano Humanitarian Award for his “outstanding efforts in changing comics one day at a time.”

The Giordano award focused on Jerry’s less-well known work as a political activist obtaining the release of jailed and tortured cartoonists in Uruguay and the Soviet Union. He also joined Neal Adams and others in the creator rights movement and aided Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in their struggles with Warner Communications / Time Warner in obtaining recognition and financial security for their efforts.

Jerry Robinson: Ambassador to the Comics, the definitive history of this critically significant cartoonist, was published by Abrams late year.

On a personal note, I had the honor and privilege of dining with Jerry and discussing both politics and comics on numerous occasions during the 1970s, 80s and 90s. When, last year, we met up at the Baltimore Comic-Con at the reception prior to his Giordano Award presentation, I found Jerry to be as gracious, as warm and as sharp as he had ever been, and he entertained my daughter with stories peppered with quotes from material I had written about him many, many years earlier.

It was one of the most wonderful moments of my life.

PRESS RELEASE
THE SAGA CONTINUES
Airship 27 Productions & Cornerstone Book Publishers are happy to announce the release of I.A. Watson’s second book in his new retelling of the classic Robin Hood legend.
In book one of this series, “Robin Hood, King of Sherwood,” award winning author Ian Watson introduced the classic outlaw hero from British lore in a fresh and exciting new way. We learned of a carefree youth suddenly cast into the role of hero to save his people from the cruel and sadistic tyranny of Prince John, left to rule over the kingdom while his brother, Richard the Lionhearted traveled to the Holy Lands to fight in the Third Crusade.
Suffering under unbearable taxation, the people suffered daily until the brash young outlaw, Robin of Loxley, at the goading of a lovely young maid, stepped forth to challenge this illegal oppression and restore true justice to the land.  In this second chapter his daring robberies of the jaded gentry have stirred the ire of the Sheriff of Nottingham and his allies. A devious plot is hatched in the guise of an archery contest to lure the daring Robin Hood within the city limits and there trap him.  Once more Ian Watson spins a tale of action and adventure steeped in rich historical lore as he relates perhaps the most reckless of the Robin’s famed exploits.  Can the King of Sherwood, aided by his loyal and of rogues, claim the prized Golden Arrow or will the walls of Nottingham become his tomb.
Robin Hood, Arrow of Justice is another rollicking grand adventure that continues this innovative and wonderful retelling of a truly classic legend loved by millions.  This volume once again spotlights a gorgeous painted cover by Pulp Factory Award Winning recipient Mike Manley, with interior illustrations and designs by Art Director Rob Davis.  Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to return to Sherwood Forest in;
Robin Hood; Arrow of Justice
This is the tenth release of 2011 for the popular pulp production outfit and their 43rd catalog title.  “It’s been a remarkable year,” said Editor Ron Fortier, “and we’re thrilled to be ending in on such a high note.” 
Airship 27 Productions;  Pulps For a New Generation!
ISBN: 1-613420-27-7
ISBN-13: 978-1-61342-027-0
Produced by Airship 27
Published by Cornerstone Book Publishers
Release date: 12/07/2011
Retail Price: $16.95
$3 digital PDF Available Now.
(http://homepage.mac.com/robmdavis/Airship27Hangar/index.html)

If I rebooted Flash, Atom, and Green Arrow

On the list of simple comic book truths: Superhero comics need major female superheroes. I like the idea that the Flash should be a woman. A speedster called Jesse Quick briefly took over the role:

                           

It’d be great if The Fastest Man On Earth was a woman, but DC is conservative with the characters it considers its most valuable properties, so I doubt they would go with a female Flash, even though that’s the best way to get a second woman into DC’s Big Five of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the Flash.

That argument doesn’t apply to the Atom and Green Arrow.

(more…)

If I rebooted Batman and Robin

If I rebooted Batman and Robin

This is a light modification of a panel in  Legends of the DCU: Crisis on Infinite Earths #1. I could go either way on making Batman’s costume black and gray or blue and gray, but for a creature of the night, the yellow belt made no sense, and the panties were just too 1940s.

My Batman’s personality is inspired by the 1960s “New Look” Batman: he’s a detective who has mostly made peace with the fact that he can’t bring his parents back from the dead. He doesn’t like putting Robin in danger, so Robin is a supporting character, someone who goes undercover in places where Batman can’t and who usually has adventures on his own or with the Titans. Their styles are so different that they shouldn’t team up often: Batman’s inspiration is the creature of the night; Robin’s inspiration is the people’s hero, Robin Hood. The only reason Batman trains Robin is because he realizes that the kid will fight crime no matter what Batman does, so he might as well do what he can as mentor and friend.

The Bruce Wayne playboy is not a “cover”. Batman thinks of himself as a soldier or a spy who works hard and parties hard. He knows he needs R&R to keep doing his duty, and he wants fun that won’t result in anyone becoming too fond of him. He’s an adrenaline junkie, and sometimes, late at night, he wonders if he has a bit of a death wish. If so, so long as it helps him do his job, he’s fine with that.

The capes can become rigid and serve as gliders. Otherwise, why are acrobats wearing capes? Other than they look cool? Which, I grant, in a comic book is never automatically the wrong answer. The trick to making the original Robin cape work is to use the collar. George Perez understood that.

But I would be tempted to make Robin’s cape green.

As for the Batmobile, its time has passed. Batman and Robin should patrol from a Batplane that can hover in place.

Will Shetterly is the creator of Captain Confederacy, the author of Dogland, and the co-creator of Liavek with his wife, Emma Bull.