Thursday, September 30, 2010


Captain Action’s NYCC Exclusives    
Collectors’ specials offered only at convention

New York, NY September 30, 2010: Captain Action Enterprises, LLC announces limited edition New York Comic Con exclusives for sale at booth #2380.

  • Captain Action & Dr. Eville NYCC 8” Action Figures   

A Cast-A-Way exclusive, packaged in “retro” box style, reminiscent of the original Captain Action Ideal toys from the 60’s. $25.00 each.

  • Captain Action Exclusive NYCC Trading Card Set

Packaged in a unique CA triangle container (styled after the chest emblem) this fifty-card set also includes a unique 51st Chase Magnetic Card.   $50.00 each.
(Regular sets will be available for $25.00 each.)
  • Lady Action First Appearance & Special Collector’s Card   

Captain Action (Season 1) #3 includes a special trading card and NYCC sticker. Lady Action writer Tony Lee will be on hand for a signing, as will Lady Action. $5.00 each.
  • Savage Beauty Limited Edition Prints

Suitable for framing, these prints are $10.00 each. (Captain Action and Zeroids also available.)
Also available will be the two items from TwoMorrows:  “Carmine Infantino-Penciller, Publisher and Provocateur” by Jim Amash. This book will be offered in hardcover and softcover.  As a tie-in with the new Savage Beauty preview, Back Issue #43, showcasing Jungle girls, will also be on sale at this booth, #2380.

About Captain Action Enterprises

Captain Action Enterprises, LLC is dedicated to creating new character experiences for both the collectible/nostalgia market and passionate fans of adventure toys and fiction through licensing, re-creations and creative innovations.  More information is available at

Captain Action, Lady Action, Savage Beauty and The Zeroids and related characters are ©2010 and ™ Captain Action Enterprises, LLC.

For all the latest on Captain Action visit and


New Jungle Girl Series SNEAK PEEK at NYCC 

New York, NY October 1, 2010 Moonstone Books and CAE, LLC are pleased to announce their new series, Savage Beauty, a re-imagining of the jungle girl comic genre, with a modern twist.  

New York Comic Con will offer attendees a generous sneak peek as Moonstone invites readers to take a walk on the wild side with Savage Beauty. This new comic series tells the stories of sisters Lacy and Livvy Rae and their adventures traveling across modern-day Africa.

Savage Beauty will take readers on an exciting journey as the Rae sisters discover their purpose and strive to contribute and make a real difference in the world.
After graduating from a UCLA, a crisis in Kenya opens up their eyes to a world of problems and possibilities beyond the college life they so enjoyed.  Their “day job” is as reporters for African Adventures Online, but the Rae sisters are guided by the mysterious Mr. Eden to assume the identity of the mythical goddess Anaya. Disguised as this "Savage Beauty", the two girls fight Somali pirates, Ugandan warlords, rebel armies, corrupt politicians, and various other real-world adversaries torn from today's headlines.

 the comic book series intends to make a difference too - each issue will donate a full-color advertising page to partner causes such as Oxfam, Just A Drop, and Invisible Children, among others.

Writer and co-creator Mike Bullock says, “Savage Beauty allows me the opportunity to continue exploring the themes I worked with in the pages of The Phantom. Combine that with an opportunity to work with some really brilliant artists on a property I helped build from the ground up, and the appeal for this series is not only relevant, but personal.”
Artists Jose Massaroli (pencils and inks) and Bob Pedroza (colors) join Bullock to bring to life this on-going series. 

Savage Beauty #1, on sale February 2011, a 48-page over-sized debut issue, includes the first Savage Beauty adventure, a classic reprint of the original jungle girl, Sheena, and Special Features including lost promotional art to a 60’s Raquel Welch jungle girl movie pitch, and a golden age cover gallery.  All this for the retro-rollback price of only  $2.99!

“We’re really excited for this series –and we want to provide fans with a great value from the get-go. And with engaging covers, a killer story and cool extra features - we know retailers will love it”, said retropreneur and marketer Ed Catto.

“I’m amazed and thrilled at the positive feedback we've already been receiving on the Savage Beauty Facebook page. If this feedback is any indication, this book will have a bright future”, said CAE’s Joe Ahearn.

The first issue sports a "Movie Poster" cover by Thomas Yeates and two  "Welcome to the Jungle" variant covers spotlighting the girls, Lacy and Livvy, by fan favorite, Dave Hoover

Future covers boast strong talent, including Paul Gulacy, Mark Wheately and Newsweek’s Chris (Zeroids) Short. 

A special collectible ashcan of Savage Beauty #1 will be available at NYCC via the Captain Action’s booth #2380, specially priced for $1.00.

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For all the latest on Savage Beauty and Captain Action, visit and become a fan on Facebook.
Information on Savage Beauty Comics can also be found at


When the concept for doing ALL PULP was being formulated, an obvious aspect to consider was a podcast.  These modern takes on radio shows have proven beneficial to many fields, hobbies, and areas of interest.  The discussion was of course had about ALL PULP's own Spectacled Seven putting together a podcast show of our own.  That discussion was a short one, though, as we already knew that a great Pulp Podcast already existed.  What? You haven't heard of the excellent work being done by Ric Croxton and Art Sippo to bring Pulp goodness each and every week to the listening public?  Well, shame on you!  But don't worry about it, because now that the Book Cave has graciously accepted the Seven's request to serve as the official podcast for ALL PULP, you'll hear plenty about the show, guaranteed!

Beginning with the 9/30/10 episode (#94) featuring an interview with Adam Garcia, author of the soon to be classic Airship 27/Cornerstone Publishers novel, GREEN LAMA UNBOUND, The Book Cave will be ALL PULP's official Podcast.  What Ric and Art do week to week will not change in any way, but an addition to the show will be one of the Spectacled Seven joining the guys with a brief collection of news bits, soundbytes, and glimpses even further into the World of Pulp!  Derrick Ferguson kicks off this awesome period for ALL PULP on this episode, covering all the Pulp that is news!!   Watch this page for all the fun exciting information that will be pouring like bats on their way to a belfry out of the BOOK CAVE!!

Check out the debut of THE BOOK CAVE as ALL PULP's official podcast here-  (And catch up on 93 other episodes of Pulpy goodness)!
REVIEWS FROM THE 86TH FLOOR- Reviews by Barry Reese


DC Comics
Brian Azzarello & Rags Morales

The fourth issue in the First Wave "kick-off" limited series is finally here, despite the fact that the line has progressed far beyond it at this point. As with the first three issues, the art is stellar -- Rags Morales is one of the best working in comics today and I enjoyed his interpretations of Doc Savage, The Spirit, Rima and The Bat Man quite a bit.

Unfortunately, the story is still a bit of a mess, with an unclear plot-line and some unlikeable characterization along the way. How does Doc Savage know the Golden Tree is evil? Because they claim to be interested in promoting peace but they haven't invited him to be a member, and he's practically the face of fighting for peace! I've seen some reviewers online who seem to like that reasoning but it stopped me in my tracks and made me wonder just how big Doc's ego is supposed to be. They must be evil because they didn't invite me to join? What?

I did enjoy The Bat Man's internal narration at the end and there is an undeniable thrill to seeing Doc alongside The Spirit and Bat Man but if this is the best DC can do with these characters, I think the First Wave isn't going to be around much longer.


AP: Who is Joel Jenkins?

JJ: I’ll have a story addressing that question appearing in the upcoming The Gantlet Brother’s Greatest Hits book slated to be released next year through Pulp Work Press.  Some old enemies of Matthias Gantlet go gunning for him and they figure they can get to him through the writer that’s been chronicling his adventures. This story is inspired by a couple of real life occurrences.

AP: You've had a long love affair with Pulp.  How did it start?

JJ: When I was eight or nine I did janitorial work on Saturdays at a downtown office.  On lunch I’d go get a triple scoop ice cream cone for 65 cents and I’d finish it off while I was walking to the end of the town with the bookstores.  There was a new bookstore and a used bookstore within a couple blocks and I discovered Tarzan, Conan, Doc Savage and a myriad of other pulp era stories in those establishments.

AP: And how did that evolve into what you write today?

JJ: More than any other writing style, I enjoyed the fast-paced action and unfettered imagination that burst out of the pulp age.  I try to incorporate both of those things into my own work.  Character development and plot shouldn’t slow a story down, they should help move it along.

AP: And while we're on the subject; what do you think about Pulp today?

In the 1930’s pulp fiction had a reputation for pushing the envelope, but most authors used some subtlety and restraint. Eighty years later almost anything goes and so some authors proclaiming to write pulp-style fiction lack the finesse (or the desire) to make their stories accessible and acceptable for reading by both youth and adults.  I started reading pulp stories at age eight and I sometimes have children between the age of eight and twelve approach me and tell me that they enjoyed one of my novels.  This being the case I prefer to leave some things as subtext so a more perceptive reader might pick up on them, but it won’t interfere with a youth’s enjoyment.

JJ: However, there is some great pulp being published today that it is accessible to both young and old.  A lot of the Clive Cussler stories fit into this category and he’s had great success, and Airship 27 puts out a great line of books reviving old and sometimes forgotten pulp characters with modern writers.  There are a number of other small presses putting out pulp-style books and Rage Machine puts out periodic issues of Dark Worlds magazine which focuses on pulp-style stories of all genres. 

AP: You ran a website for a long time devoted to Pulp called ELECTRONIC TALES.  Tell us about it.

JJ: I was one of the pioneers of the e-serial, where authors sent out stories a chunk at a time, via email, to a mailing list of readers.  Five times a week I sent out a page or two of story that usually ended in a cliffhanger of some sort.  At one point the mailing list was over 2,600 readers.

This was a lot of fun and forced me to get a lot of writing done.  However, like many companies in the internet boom there wasn’t enough revenue flow to keep it going indefinitely.  It did seem to make an impact, though, since one storyline was lifted wholesale and converted to be used in a major motion picture franchise—not that I ever saw a penny of royalty money.

AP: Tell us more about your Pulp inspired works.

JJ: One pulp-inspired fantasy series that doesn't get as much play as some of my other works is the City of Bathos series, which includes Escape from Devil's Head and Through the Groaning Earth. These draw from a Howardian influence, but really that's just the starting point.  I mix in an unhealthy dose of well-founded paranoia and Lovecraftian elements, and tell the stories of various denizens of the city.  Mostly these arre just folks trying to survive the best they know how, but their agendas are much different and when their paths cross nasty things are bound to happen.

The first book is written from the perspective of insiders—people intimately familiar with the city of Bathos.  The second book, Through the Groaning Earth, focuses more on outsiders who have been shipwrecked on the reefs outside Bathos and on a handful of characters from the previous book that thought they had escaped Bathos's pervasive influence and discover how wrong they are when the long-reaching hand of the Assassins Guild follows them to their haven.

AP: Before we get into THE SEA WITCH, tell us about Max Damage and Damage, Inc.

JJ: Olympic hopeful Max Damage inherits his father's company, Damage Inc, when he receives news of his father's untimely demise. He finds the books a horrible mess and begans secret compartments and secret company projects.  When a long-legged Russian woman breaks into the office one night looking for information on one of those projects Max realizes he's in over his head. 

AP: What fascinates you about Max Damage?

Max is the anti-Doc Savage.  Doc Savage is the pinnacle of human mental and physical achievement.  Max has many amazing abilities but for every outstanding ability he has a drawback.  He possesses amazing strength and musculature but he has to eat like a horse to maintain his physique.  He has amazing eyesight but his ocular nerve is so sensitive that bright light effectively blinds him.  He can withstand extraordinary amounts of pain, but his sense of touch is blunted.  He has a photographic memory but is dyslexic.

AP: So why should we read THE SEA WITCH?

JJ: Primarily for an action-packed read with a trio of misfits as the heroes.  Secondarily, pulp fans might find Max Damage an interesting twist on the superhero archetype.  In no way, however, is this a parody of pulp.  I love the pulp esthetic and incorporate it into nearly everything that I write.

AP: How many stories have you written about Max Damage? What future stories have you got in mind for Max Damage and Damage, Inc.?

JJ: There is of course, the recently released Sea Witch novel.  I've also written a pair of novellas called The Sun Stealer and On Wings of Darkness.  Sometime in the next couple of years I hope to make that a trio of novellas and release them in a combined package.  The third story is tentatively titled The Madagascar Hole and will involve prehistoric fish and The Fountain of Life Foundation.  At some point there also may be a cross-over story with Derrick Ferguson's Regency character.

AP: While we're got you trapped, tell us about DIRE PLANET.

JJ: American astronaut Garvey Dire is marooned on Mars and while he is wounded and running out of oxygen he sees a repeating vision of a beautiful and strangely-alien woman crossing through a moss-covered structure.  When he interferes with the vision a time loop tosses him into the past and he finds himself in a Mars peopled by savage tribes, beautiful warrior woman, and dark-winged fiends that own the night skies.

This is my homage to Edgar Rice Burroughs, though it is not a pastiche in any way.  This Mars stands on its own and I've spent many hours developing its culture and etymology.  There are currently three published Dire Planet novels: Dire Planet, Exiles of the Dire Planet, and Into the Dire Planet.

Strange Gods of the Dire Planet is slated for a 2011 release and Lost Tribes of the Dire Planet is slated for a 2012 release.  I've currently finished a draft of Strange Gods and am about 85,000 words into Lost Tribes.

AP: What's a typical Day In The Life Of Joel Jenkins like?

JJ: It starts at 5 AM and is very, very busy.

AP: What one thing of yours should we read right now?

JJ: Check out my blog at or visit Amazon to pick up my novels in hardcopy and a number of them are also available in Kindle format. My stories are also available in a variety of electronic formats at  Barnes and Noble also carries my books (It looks like they've currently got The Sea Witch at only $7.88, which is a 28% discount!) and many of the novels are available for the Nook.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

INTERVIEW-TOM JOHNSON, Pulp Author/Creator/Historian!!

AP: It's easy to say that this is truly an honor and privilege for ALL PULP to have a chance to visit with you, Tom. Before we jump knee deep into you and pulp, can you share a bit of personal background with us?

TJ: It’s my pleasure, thanks for inviting me. I was born in a small farm and ranching town in Texas in July 1940. My dad was a cowboy, cook, and drunk, and good at all three. When I was seven, we moved to Wichita Falls (Texas), where I discovered comic books and Skid row theaters. Finding Batman changed my life. We also had a radio, and I listened to all the great dramas, including The Shadow. My dad wanted me to follow in his footsteps, but I had other plans. After High School, I joined the Army and became a military policeman. Upon retiring my wife, Ginger and I started ECHOES, a fan magazine for the pulp enthusiast, and published it for 22 years. I had a serious debilitating stroke in 2002, which slowed me down considerably, but I’m still fairly active. I have never regretted leaving the farm and ranch life behind!
AP: When the name 'Tom Johnson' comes up in terms of pulp, several titles are attached to you. Before we get into those, tell us how your obvious love affair with pulp started and how its maintained for so long?

TJ: I was an early reader, starting with the juvenile classics around 1950, then SF a few years later. By my teenage years I was reading Spillane and the tough guy P.I.s. While serving in France around 1963, my sergeant turned me on to Edgar Rice Burroughs, and then to Haggard and Howard. In 1964 I was sent to Turkey during the Cypress Crisis, and we were stuck on an Air Force base. It was here that I found Walter Gibson’s “Return of The Shadow”. When we returned to France, I discovered Doc Savage that same year, and have never looked back.
AP: You are referred to by many as a pulp historian? Is pulp history something the modern reader and/or writer needs to know? What about these characters and their creators is relevant to an audience today?

TJ: That’s a loaded question (G). I think the old characters are still relevant today, and I don’t see any need in drastically changing them, so I do believe the new writers should be familiar with the stories, and not just a “Bible” of the characters. But I also understand that we are looking at a new generation and market, and what us old timers liked may not be what the reader today wants. Still, I don’t believe the new writers should kill off main characters or change backgrounds to suit them, and I don’t think sex and language are necessary to tell a good story. Times were changing even in the early 1950s, when the hint of sex, and rougher language crept into the stories, but by then readers were expecting it. Perhaps if the pulps had continued, we would have seen even more changes in the later 1950s. Who knows?
AP: As a historian, what trends do you notice in the pulp genre that are occurring today that have ties to the heyday of pulps? Are there consistencies or is this just a revival of a genre loved by a few?

TJ: Unfortunately, we are still few in number. With the so-called pulp revival, we’re still struggling to get new converts. I have said in the past that this is a wonderful time for pulp fans to be alive. There is so much available now, considering the POD technology and Internet. And I love the small press, but until the major publishing houses get the pulp fever, I’m afraid we’re still targeting just a few.
AP: As a writer, you cover the gamut. Tell us about some of your favorite personal works.

TJ: Mike Avallone once said, “I’m proud of everything I’ve written.” I wish I could say that (lol). Really, though, I had fun with all of my stories. My current publishers, Matt Moring of Altus Press, and Barbara Custer of NTD are great people to work with. Surprisingly, though, I think that three of my favorite stories were actually collaborations. Debbie DeLorme and I coauthored “Hunter’s Moon”, K.G. McAbee and I coauthored “Shadowhawke”, and Teresa Drippe and I coauthored “Crimson Harvest”, all three were exciting tales, and the three young women were wonderful to work with.
AP: Some writers find it difficult to cross genres, even in such a broad genre as pulp. Is it difficult for you to write one genre, then another, and what appeals to you about working in multiple genres?

TJ: Well, to be honest, Edgar Rice Burroughs influenced my writing the most. So my earliest attempt was the novel, “Jur: A Story of Pre-Dawn Earth”, which has been favorably compared to ERB’s Pellucidar series. I still try to emulate Burroughs’ style, and genre. On the other hand, my favorite characters are The Shadow and Batman, so I really want to write stories about similar heroes. When writing the old masked hero stories, I try to capture the feel of the original stories from the 1930s and ‘40s. That’s not always easy to do. I recently wrote a Man in Purple story for Altus Press’ upcoming Johnston McCulley volume, and I found McCulley extremely difficult to emulate. The Man in Purple was written in 1920, so that might have something to do with it (lol).
AP: You've made your own contribution to the 'Lost Land/Primitive earth' subgenre. Can you tell us a little about your 'Jur' novels?

TJ: Around 1965, my duties in France was Desk Sergeant for the MPs. On slow nights, when my units were out on patrol, and I was bored, I would write little plots and create characters, and put them through their paces. One of the plots I stumbled on was to become the Jur novels, but I didn’t do anything with it until a tour in the jungles of Vietnam. Upon returning to the states in 1970, I knew I had to write that story. I wrote the first two novels in long hand (pencil), and hired a professional typist to put it in manuscript format. Basically, my hero was an Army Green Beret just back from Vietnam. He was tough and trained in jungle survival and warfare. But he was angry at our involvement in Vietnam, and got out of the Army to wander around the world. He ends up in Africa where he hears about a young French girl who is missing. He goes in search of her, and falls through the same time portal as the girl, ending up in the Jurassic Period, where they eventually meet and survive the terror and dangers of the jungle. These two people were featured in the first two novels. But the first was never picked up. I still have all the Rejection Slips! I met James Reasoner and he looked at the story, and suggested we drop the Green Beret and begin the story, not in 1970, but just after the Stock Market Crash of ’29, and the main character isn’t all that tough and well-trained. We made the changes, and in 2002, a company named NBI accepted the first novel, and wanted to look at the second one. I had to quickly type the sequel while making the changes. I eventually wrote two more stories in the series. NBI went out of business after book #3. I self-published the fourth novel.
AP: You've written stories utilizing established characters. What about writing existing characters appeals to you and who are your favorite characters to work with?

TJ: That’s hard to say. I’m an odd ball, I think. I love The Black Bat and Phantom Detective for some reason, so have written a number of their adventures. But sometimes one of the other characters nag at me until I accept the challenge. I wrote a Doc Harker story a while back because I couldn’t get the plot out of my mind until I put it on paper. I aimed at 10,000 words, and it came out at 16,000 words! I recently wrote the sequel to PULP DETECTIVES, featuring ten different characters, several surprises that I can’t divulge yet. That is coming from Altus Press somewhere down the road. But I think it’s better than the first PULP DETECTIVES.
AP: You've also got original pulp hero creations that you've written. Can you share some of them with us and talk about the process of creating original characters?

TJ: Years ago while watching the TV series, The Equalizer, a Christmas episode aired about a little boy with AIDS. Some local rednecks were trying to run them out of the neighborhood. The boy calls The Equalizer for help. That episode hit me hard. I wanted to create a character that would have a child to protect in each story. Thus was born The Masked Avenger, a Phantom Detective type character in the 1930s. The Black Ghost is a contemporary hero, but in the mold of The Shadow and Batman. Both The Masked Avenger and The Black Ghost battle the crooks with blazing automatics, and there is plenty of action to keep the stories moving. There are a few other characters.
AP: Pulp is on an upswing, according to many in the field. How do you think the current crop of writers and artists can keep this 'renaissance' going instead of just fading away as it has in the past?

TJ: If I knew the answer to that, I would shout it to everyone who would listen. I think the writers and artists are doing their best to do exactly what you’re asking, but as I mentioned earlier, until the major publishing houses give us a hand, it’s going to take a while. All of the small press publishers are striving to achieve that goal, but I don’t know if we’re reaching everyone the big guys could. God Bless all of us in this effort, and I hope that pulps never fade away.
AP: You have an aspect to your life that a lot of pulp writers, this one included, wish we had. Your wife is not only a supporter, but an active participant in the pulp genre as well. Can you tell us about how it is working with Ginger and how you came to be lucky enough to find someone as into Pulp as you are?

TJ: Ginger was also a fan of Doc Savage. When Bantam was releasing Doc’s every month, we would hit the stores looking for the latest one. Ginger always got to read Doc first. Whenever I went overseas, she would pick up paperbacks for me and send them over, because in a lot of places I was at, we seldom saw a book! Remember I mentioned Turkey earlier, being a bunch of Army grunts on an Air Force Base meant we didn’t get anything passed down to us. I could tell some stories about that, but I won’t. (lol) But Ginger has always shared my interest in the pulps.
AP: So, what's in the future for Tom Johnson and pulp?

TJ: Well, I retired last December, but I keep getting these plots in my head. I still plan on taking some time off. But Debbie DeLorme has been talking to me about another collaboration, so who knows. Maybe one more Black Ghost story. Barbara Custer also wants to put out a couple SF anthologies with a compilation of our stories. Maybe this year, maybe next year.

AP: Again, can't say enough how great it's been to talk to you today, Tom!

TJ: Thank you for inviting me, Tommy!



From Jean Marc L'Officier, Publisher

This month: three science fiction "classics", plus another kindle/epub release.

John-Antoine Nau's 1903 ENEMY FORCE has the distinction of having been the very first novel to receive the prestigious Goncourt Literary Award in France. The author was a rather eccentric surrealist/poet and the novel is indeed quite surreal: its protagonist is a poet who's been committed to a lunatics asylum by his family, following a nervous breakdown.  He appears quite sane, except that he suddenly is visited, even possessed, by an entity from outer space, an intelligence from a rather fantastic and hellish planet orbiting Aldebaran. Is the entiry real, or is it a manifestation of the narrator's insanity? The novel ends with one final twist on whether what we have been told is real or not. A rather odd, and yet interesting book, translated by Michael Shreve with a cover by Nick Tripiciano.

In the history of French SF, Jacques Spitz is the bridge between Renard and Rosny on the one and, and René Barjavel and other writers of the 1950s, probably the last great French SF writer to not have been influenced by American SF. Brian Stableford has translated two of Sp[itz's novels, DR MOPS' EXPERIMENT (1939) and THE EYE OF PURGATORY (1945). Both are very Wellsian in concepts and deal with the ability to see through time; in the first novel, a character can peer into the future at an accelerated rate (leading to the usual quandaries about whether one can change what's to come); in the second novel, the protagonist sees not the real future but an increasingly aging present, leading to unique visions of decay, death and beyond. One is somewhat reminded of Thomas Disch or JG Ballard. The cover is by Spanish master Juan Miguel Aguilera.

Nathalie Henneberg's colorful, flamboyant THE GREEN GODS (1961), which takes place in a future, post-cataclysmic Earth where men must fight both intelligent plants and giant insects to survive, was translated in the late 1970s by award-winning CJ Cherryh for DAW books. This book reprints a slightly reedited version of Cherryh's translation as well as several other hard to find Henneberg stories previously translated by Damon Knight, and a comprehensive Henneberg biography.  Henneberg was compared by DAW to Abrahan Merritt, but I think a comparison with Tanith Lee might be more appropriate. The cover is by French artist Anne Claire Payet.

Finally, we are pleased to announce our second kindle/epub release: after last month's release of Jean-Claude Dunyach award-winning collection of SF stories THE THIEVES OF SILENCE, we are releasing Jean-Claude's earlier collection, THE NIGHT ORCHID (subtitled "Conan Doyle in Toulouse") in that format. Jean-Claude is not unlike a French David Brin (who kindly wrote the intro to NIGHT ORCHID) and one of France's best contemporary SF writers.

Super Fan Michael Brown Speaks!

AP: Thanks for joining us, Michael! Can you start by telling us a little about you and how your interest in pulps began?

MB: I have long been a science fiction fan. So to a degree, my interest in pulps began with interest in early science fiction stories. I recall reading some of the early books on science fiction, and seeing the colorful pulp sf magazine covers, and reading stories from that era: Burroughs, Asimov, EE "Doc" Smith, etc.

Sometime in middle school (late 70s) I stumbled upon Doc Savage. I believe it was "The King Maker". The cover grabbed me. The titles of the other Doc novels grabbed me (they still do. those titles still have an unusual feel). I was soon looking for Doc novels in used bookstores. At some point I went after the Avenger, the Shadow (if I could find them), and started to read about the other hero pulps. (at the time reprints of them were hard to find. It would be years before I would find the paperback reprints of the other that had been reprinted).

Another pulp field I got into was the writing of HP Lovecraft, tho much later. I had first heard of them in my sf reference books. But it wouldn't be until the mid-80s that I finally got his works and started to read them. A sort of related author I also got into was Manly Wade Wellman.

Today, thanks to several publishers like Altus Press and Sanctum Books, I am finally getting the chance to read some of the hero pulps I had know about, but never had the chance.

AP: What classic pulps are your favorites?

MB: As to classic pulps, there are several. I enjoyed the space opera yarns of EE "Doc" Smith, the works of Lovecraft and the larger "Lovecraft circle", the southern Appalachian horror/fantasy of Wellman. When it comes to hero pulps, Doc Savage is still my favorite, with the Avenger a close second.

AP: Of the newer pulp characters and series, are there any you'd recommend?

MB: Not sure if I am as well read with some of the current "neo-pulp" hero series, but there are several I have enjoyed. The Rook is a series I have been enjoying very much. I have the latest on order and look forward to it. Art Sippo's rework of Sun Koh is very good. He's done a good job of transcending the characters original origins. I have enjoyed many of Tom Johnson's works. There are probably other good characters and series out there I just haven't had the chance to read. And not sure if you include pastiches in this group, but I am been enjoying Wayne Reinagel's "Pulp Heroes" series greatly. Black Coat Press's "Tales of the Shadowmen" series is also great.

AP: There's been a lot of discussion lately about pulp hero revivals. Can you tell us a little bit about what you think on the subject? Do you prefer a more faithful revival or do you support significant modernizing of the concepts? Feel free to mention specifics from Moonstone, First Wave or elsewhere.

MB: Here is my take on it. At present I have been reading the First Wave. What I know of Moonstone is what I've read on-line, I have yet to read their comics. I have also read some other neo-pulp works, such as the use of pulp pastiches in the "Planetary" comics and Brubaker's "Incognito" series.

IF you are going to do comics using the original characters, you MUST be faithful to the characters. Some feel that these characters only work in the time period of their creation. That's fine. Some feel they can bring these characters into modern times. That's fine with me. But the bottom line, the character must be faithful to the originals. They must conduct themselves as we would expect. This is my biggest complain about First Wave. They totally do NOT get these characters.

Now, if one wants to do more modern takes of the characters, I rather the author create either wholly original, or pastiches, and use those. This is what Brubaker did in "Incognito", creating pastiches of Doc & the Shadow, and using them in his modern hero pulp work. And I really, really enjoyed that. I didn't have to be upset that he ruined these characters, because he created new ones. AND the fact that he included some great articles on the originals by Jess Nevins shows me that he had more respect for the source material then Azzarello et al does.

Now, one should also mentioned some of the written revivals of some characters being done. Airship 27, Moonstone and to a degree Wildcat is doing this. I'm more familiar with Airship 27's stuff, and have enjoyed what I have from them. Unlike what we are seeing with First Wave, we are seeing works by authors who are pulp fans. So we are seeing more faithful works.

I should also say that I think in some ways some of the 'techno-thriller' authors are in some ways writing a new genre of 'pulp hero'. I got into reading Cussler's Dirk Pitt because he was likened to Doc Savage. Ron Fortier calls Preston/Child's Agent Pendergast a modern Shadow. Authors like DuBrul, Dirgo, McDermott, and others are in some ways writing characters that would have been larger then life pulp hero adventurers back in the 1930s.

AP: In terms of the future of pulp, what things would you like to see more of? Are there things going on that you'd like to see a bit less of?

MB: When I got into the pulp fandom world in the 80s, it was hard to find out other fans. Most fan publications were of poor quality (production & reproduction, not quality of writing). I think that the combination of the Internet plus "print on demand" has really changed things. You are now able to reach out to fans thru websites, blogs, etc. You are able to get your product out to people better. You can now have one-man publishers (like Matt Mornig at Altus) putting out great pulp reprints, studies, and new stuff with a quality that's as good as any major publisher. And he's not alone.

So we have publishers like Altus and Black Coat and others putting out reprints of classic stuff, you have publishers like Airship 27, Wildcat, Wildside, Black Coat and other putting out new stuff. (am probably leaving some out, but check out the "Coming Attractions" site for a weekly update of great stuff. Isn't the internet great?)

If there is one thing I'd like to see is more coordination between some of the publishers. If Altus Press puts out a complete reprint of Doctor Death, do we really need Pulpville Press to later do the same (which they did)?? That seems a waste. Pulpville should have put their energy into a different work that no one else has done. If Airship 27 is putting out a book of NEW Jim Anthony stories, why are they not cross advertising with Altus Press who is putting out a reprint of the original Jim Anthony. As a pulp fan I want to read the originals before I embark on the new stuff. Thus I don't plan on delving into Airship 27's "Black Bat" collection until I get Altus Press's collection of original Black Bat stories and can read some first.

And I guess one thing I'd like to see less of is crap like DC's First Wave and people like Azzarello involved in the neo-pulp world.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Evil in Pemberley House

REVIEWS FROM THE 86TH FLOOR - Book Reviews by Barry Reese
Written by Philip Jose Farmer & Win Scott Eckert
ISBN 978-1596062498
First, let me quite honest about something: while I enjoy a little bit of the Wold Newton stuff, there are times that I think it goes overboard and ruins my enjoyment of certain stories. It's neat to see crossovers but exhaustive attempts to fit every fictional character into the Wold Newton framework makes my eyes glaze over in the same way that listening to someone tell me all about their family tree does.

So, having said that, let me also point out that I have enjoyed a number of works by Philip Farmer over the years, including A Feast Unknown, his over the top erotic interpretation of Doc Savage and Tarzan. I mention Feast here because The Evil in Pemberley House exists in that same sort of world: a world where everyone has deep-seated sexual neuroses and the authors aren't afraid to continually point out the size of the bulges in every man's pants.

The Evil in Pemberley House is an homage to the Gothic horror tradition. Patricia Wildman, daughter of the world-renowned adventurer Dr. James Clarke "Doc" Wildman, is all alone in the world when she inherits the family estate in Derbyshire, England. The estate is old, dark, and supposedly haunted. Along the way, Patricia engages in much worry over her incestuous desires for her father (who is missing when the story begins and believed dead). She's sexually victimized by another woman early on but recovers enough to go forward on a journey that's as much about her sexual exploration as it is the hauntings that have made Pemberley House infamous. There are direct ties to a classic Sherlock Holmes tale and the setting is straight out of Pride and Prejudice. The Wold Newton elements weren't particularly intrusive early in the book but towards the end, there were parts where I wondered how much stronger this story would have been if the focus had been a little tighter on the story at hand.
The writing is quite fluid and feels very Farmer-esque. I'm not sure how much rewriting or original writing that Eckert had to do but the fact that I can't pick out which parts are his is a credit to his work.

I liked Patricia's character quite a bit and the overall Gothic trappings really worked when she first arrived at Pemberley and the mystery was first unveiled. I wasn't completely pleased with the way things played out but it was still fun seeing Pat Savage -- er, I mean Pat Wildman -- adventuring on her own in Pemberley. The ending screams sequel and I hope that Win Eckert picks up the pieces and takes us further with Pat. This was a lot of fun, though as I've said, I always think Wold Newton pieces would be stronger stories with more focus and less attention to tying things together.

The Evil in Pemberley House gets 4 out of 5 stars from me.


AP:  Jean-Marc, it's fantastic of you to join ALL PULP for a few minutes.  First, can you share some background on yourself before we jump into the 'business' side of things?

JML: My wife Randy and I worked for Starlog and several French and British genre film magazines prior to becoming publishers. We also worked in comics, writing scripts for both Marvel and DC (Dr. Strange, Arak, Firestorm, Blue Beetle, etc.) We had, in fact, been translating a number of award-winning French comics for Marvel (the Moebius series) and Dark Horse (works by Tardi, Andreas, Schuiten and others). So moving into translating books was a natural extension. We had already co-authored over a dozen books about movies and television series, such as The Doctor Who Programme Guide, Into The Twilight Zone, Science Fiction Filmmaking In The 1980s and The Dreamweavers, the latter two from McFarland.

AP:  You are a publisher.  Tell us about Black Coat Press, both what you publish and the mission of your company?

JML: Black Coat Press was born in 2003 as a logical development in our desire to bring out the best of French popular culture into the English language. First, there was our massive French Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror & Pulp Fiction encyclopedia published my McFarland in 2000; then there was our website, and finally our two non-fiction Shadowmen books which, with our translation of Doctor Omega, were the first books published by Black Coat Press. It had always been a source of profound frustration to us that, because of the language barrier, the knowledge of many outstanding French works was denied to the American public. The purpose of Black Coat Press was to help remedy this sad state of affairs by providing a fairly comprehensive selection of the best and/or the most representative works, with proper introductions, bibliographies, etc. Because science fiction, fantasy, etc.  are often regarded as minor genres by “serious” scholars (on both sides of the Atlantic!), we felt that publishing works of this nature would be more useful than publishing  classic or mainstream novels, for which there are at least a few outlets available.

AP:  How does the history of pulps outside of the United States compare to its American sibling?  When did pulps start overseas and what was the lifespan of the genre in France and the U.K.?

JML: In France the type of stories that were later published in pulps were originally serialized in newspapers. The Count of Monte-Cristo, The Three Musketeers, the Black Coats series, Rocambole -- all the great pulp heroes of the 19th century first appeared in newspapers. Think that there was a time when French novels and French films were widely imported in the United States. People were mobbing the New York harbor waiting for the latest installment of Alexandre Dumas’ novels. Yet in the age of the global village, this cross-cultural exchange has shrunk to next to nothing, and I think America is the poorer for it. The apparition of magazines or booklets devoted to a single character really started in the 1890s and the very early days of the 20th century. That lasted pretty much until World War II. Truth to tell, there was always a lot of back and forth between serialization in newspapers; magazine-sized booklets, and cheap paperbacks. The three formats were pretty much interchangeable and stories would often appear in several formats.

AP: There seems to be a wealth of characters to choose from.  Can you just give us the highlights on some of the characters that Black Coat is handling?

JML: We have published translations of Paul Féval's BLACK COATS saga, including JOHN DEVIL, a multi-volume series about a secret criminal empire that thrives in the 1840s and is the first, ground-breaking series in the history of crime / conspiracy thrillers. We have also published translations of Arsene Lupin's famous clashes against Sherlock Holmes and Countess Cagliostro, the first Rouletabille novel, which is an acknowledged classic in the mystery genre, Doctor Omega (a Dr Who lookalike), new translations of Phantom of the Opera and Monsieur Lecoq (Lecoq was an inspiration for and is quoted by Holmes), a collection of Sar Dubnotal (a mystic superhero) and Harry Dickson (a Sexton Blake-type character) stories, several never published before Fantomas novels and several novels featuring the Nyctalope and Doc Ardan, two proto-Doc Savage heroes. We have also published a five-volume series of works by Maurice Renard and a six-volume series of works by J.-H. Rosny Aîné, best known to English-speaking audiences for The Hands of Orlac and Quest for Fire, respectively, and which are both founding fathers of French science fiction after Jules Verne.

AP:  Black Coat publishes a ten story anthology yearly.  What is the concept behind TALES OF THE SHADOWMEN?

JML: Since 2005 we have indeed released six volumes (so far, Vol 7 will be out in December of this year) of this annual anthology of tales paying homage to the greatest heroes and villains of popular literature. The concept is based on the notion of crossover -- the more outlandish, the better -- between various characters from pulp fiction, always treated with respect and in continuity. For example we have had Doc Savage meeting The Little Prince or Lecoq Dr. Loveless; this year we have an encounter between Jean Valjean and Zorro. We have had a number of talented and well-known authors participate, such as Robert Sheckley, Kim Newman, John Shirley, Paul DiFilippo and others and this year we're proud to have a story by mystery author Sharan Newman. We've also published stories by new/aspiring writers, who have since gone on to sell stories into other markets. We are also the only truly international anthology who publishes stories from non-English writers: we've published tales translated from Belgian, Chilean, Italian, French and French-Canadian authors.

AP:  What sort of weight do the concepts from international pulp carry, if any, with today's audience? Why go through the effort of producing new stories for these characters, some of which are long forgotten or never even known beyond their own country?

JML: Obviously, the answer is -- because we love it. But personally I think the popular media (literature, comics, film & TV) are far more reflective of their times than mainstream literature. One will learn more about what 19th century France was really like by reading the BLACK COATS than from history books. I think this is a tradition worth preserving, which is why we put so much effort in preserving those somewhat forgotten classics from long ago and making sure they're still accessible today.

AP:  What are the primary similarities between American pulp characters and international characters?  And , of course, the follow up question to that, what are the major differences?

JML: One might argue that there's nothing new under the sun, and the archetypes of heroic fiction remain the same and go all the way back to the Round Table, the Greek mythology (Hercules, the Argonauts etc) and ultimately Gilgamesh. Our French Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror & Pulp Fiction encyclopedia published my McFarland in 2000 starts in the Middle Ages -- when French language became formalized -- and you will find a bevvy of very modern concepts: werewolves, vampires, monsters, femmes fatales, evil masterminds, super-powered heroes, magical weapons, it's all there already. Same in the 17th century where writers created hollow earths, journeys to other planets, lost worlds with prehistoric creature... Honestly, you'd been amazed to see how little new stuff we have invented. They could not conceive of computers and cyberspace -- that's a truly new notion -- but you'd be amazed to see how truly ancient some of the notions we still use today are. The romantic vampires goes all the way back to Lord Ruthven (1819); Paul Féval wrote a virtual Buffy novel with Vampire City (1867), already predating Dracula by 30 years. Examples abound. If one wants to understand the roots or genesis of pulp fiction, you have to back much earlier in time. We specialize in French-language works, but obviously other cultures are just as interesting.

AP:  Science Fiction seems to be a mainstay at Black Coat?  Is this a significant genre overseas within the pulp field and how does it compare to American science fiction?

JML: We consider SF one branch of popular literature, just as interesting as pulp, mystery, crime, horror and fantasy, so I wouldn't say we treat it with more favor, but we do endeavor to publish translations of genre classics unknown in the English language. I mentioned Rosny and Renard above but we have also released other ground breaking works such as Félix Bodin’s The Novel of the Future (1834), Didier de Chousy’s Ignis (1883), C.I. Defontenay’s Star-Psi Cassiopeia (1854), Charles Derennes’ The People of the Pole (1907), Georges Le Faure & Henri de Graffigny’s The Extraordinary Adventures of a Russian Scientist across the Solar System (1888-96), Gustave Le Rouge’s The Vampires of Mars (1908), Henri de Parville’s An Inhabitant of the Planet Mars (1865), Gaston de Pawlowski’s Journey to the Land of the 4th Dimension (1912) and Albert Robida’s The Adventures of Saturnin Farandoul (1879), all absolutely outstanding works essential to the history of the genre. We have also published a few modern works including two collections by Jean-Claude Dunyach, novels by Kurt Steiner, G.-J. Arnaud, Richard Bessière, André Caroff , Gérard Klein, Michel Jeury, Xavier Mauméjean and two horror thrillers by Philippe Ward, but to a large extent those already reflect and incorporate the influence of American science fiction which was translated and exported right after World War II -- so almost any French works after that are already playing in the same ballpark. The modern works we select tend to be original concepts; I try to avoid publishing something which would read just like another American or English work. But still, you can't get away from the influence. Whereas the works listed above all predate AMAZING STORIES, etc. and are truly unique.

AP:  Is Black Coat's focus solely on the pulp genre? If not, what other mediums are you involved in?  Any blending of mediums, say having comic characters appear in pulp stories, etc.?

JML: We are unabashedly devoted to popular literature -- as I said, that includes SF and pulp, but also mystery, crime thrillers, fantasy and horror. We do have a small line of comics, translation from French/Italian comics of the 1960s and 1970s, but there are not too different from, say, the DC Comics of the same period.

AP:  We've established you are a publisher What about as a writer?  Can you talk to us about your writing background, especially as it relates to the pulp field?

JML: As I mentioned above, Randy and I have written for comics, and also animation. We did a DUCK TALES and several REAL GHOSBUSTERS as well as a few more forgettable shows like BIONIC SIX etc. One of the GHOSTBUSTERS episodes makes use of the Headless Horseman and Ichabod Crane so to that extent it is part of the pulp universe, as it were. Quite a few of our comic book stories betray the same influences. We wrote a crossover between Superman and Asterix in ACTION COMICS (drawn by Keith Giffen) and had the Teen Titans' characters cross into the Tintin universe. We've done a couple of novels in France which we translated into English and published at Black Coat Press, including one THE KATRINA PROTOCOL, in which the modern-day descendant of Van Helsing faces a zombie invasion in New Orleans during Katrina, and another novel, EDGAR ALLAN POE ON MARS which is a historical fantasy in which Poe meets Edwin Arnold's Gullivar Jones. (When we do books in France we usually retain the rights to do our own English translations and publish them here.)  We also have a collection of short stories, PACIFICA, which contains all our "Shadowmen" tales as well as some comics, TV fanfic crossovers, etc.

AP:  Is Black Coat's purpose simply to bring these awesome pulp characters from outside of the United States some much needed exposure?  Or do you feel these characters have had or can have an impact on what pulp is now and what it will be in the future?

JML: Who knows what the future might bring? So far I'm happy that we are making a wealth of French material heretofore unknown to scholars and fans alike available in English. If that's our only contribution to the field, I'll be pleased.

AP:  So, what projects are coming from Black Coat Press? Any from your pen specifically?

JML: Volume 7 of TAKES OF THE SHADOWMEN will be out in December. Next year, we expect to publish the last volume in the BLACK COATS saga as well as continue the translations of the MADAME ATOMOS series, a French pulp from the 1960s which was then a new and much harder edged reinterpretation of the old "yellow peril" archetype; the ATOMOS series was really ahead of its times in terms of foreseeing modern terrorism, etc. We expect to be publishing more classics of proto-science fiction from the 19th century as well as a truly visionary work of the 18th century, LAMEKIS, which already foreshadows PELLUCIDAR and other similar fantasy novels. If Bill Maynard finishes it in time, we'll have a second fully authorized original FU MANCHU novel later in the year and Randy and I plan to translate the classic last Fantomas novel, THE DEATH OF FANTOMAS, never translated before into English. As far as our own work is concerned, we're supposed to have a story in the next Moonstone's AVENGER collection and one in the WORLDS OF PHILIP JOSE FARMER collection, plus some other works published in France that we mean to translate.

AP:  Jean-Marc, thank you so much for this interview!  ALL PULP wants the world to know all about Black Coat Press!!