Monday, October 31, 2011

The Heart of Fortune #1


Welcome back.  Hope you’ve been enjoying the discussions we’ve been having so far as much as I have.  Our next one is going to take us from Sebastian Red’s mystical Wild West for a bit.  But don’t worry; we’ll be going back there soon enough.  It’s just that I thought you’d appreciate some insight into the current project I’m working on so let’s go visit 1933 and Sovereign City, the current home of Doc Daye, Lazarus Grey and Fortune McCall

Fortune McCall is a character who, like most of my characters has been around for a long, loooong time.  More than ten years in fact.  He first found life in a fanfiction series I wrote for DC Legends entitled “Blackhawk International” where I created a 21st Century team of Blackhawks and Fortune McCall was handpicked to head up a new team by the original Blackhawk, now aged and running a worldwide multi-billion corporation.

It didn’t take me long to realize that Fortune and his team had far more potential as original creations so I requested that story be removed from the site and reworked the character.  He was still set in the 21st Century but now he was an independent adventurer, sailing around the world on his luxury gambling ship, The Heart of Fortune and still assisted by his team of six close friends, all specialists in their fields. 

And now that I had set him firmly in what my friends laughingly refer to as The Fergoverse, I reworked his background: Fortune McCall is a prince of the North African country of Khusra which I’ve mentioned in a couple of Dillon stories.  As a prince he has enjoyed a spectacularly diverse education in America, Switzerland, England and France in disciplines both academic and martial.  Equally at home in a laboratory, a classroom or a dojo, Fortune (I haven’t revealed his true name yet) is equally dangerous in a boardroom or a battlefield.

You see, his father wanted all of his sons and heirs to be equally capable of taking over as king so he never favored one over the other, making sure they all received the same education and training.  However, tradition must be observed and the line of succession goes from oldest to youngest.  And guess who the youngest is?  Yep.  Fortune.  He’s the youngest of eight brothers.

Now, while some may find this a sucky situation, Fortune saw it as a wonderful opportunity.  Enjoying considerable wealth as a Prince of Khusra, he didn’t have to worry about money.  And since there are seven potential kings, the chances of him ever having to rule were slim to none.  He could therefore enjoy all the benefits of his royal birth with none of the responsibilities.

So Fortune has his gambling ship built, takes on a whole mess’a his people to crew and work the ship and with his friends set off on adventure galore.  As a huge fan of Marvel Comics’ The Black Panther, I envisioned Fortune McCall as a seafaring T’Challa, not bound to any one country.  I could do one story with him in Italy fighting The Decided Ones and then in the next he could be in Australia hunting down packs of mutated dingoes roaming the streets of Perth. 

Cackling wildly, I set about writing a Fortune McCall novel and got about 16000 words into the sucker when I got an invitation from Tommy Hancock.  And that’s a name you’re going to hear a lot as we get deeper into this tale.  So let me give you a brief background on this chap:

Tommy Hancock is a writer, living in Arkansas who I’ve known for a good 15, 16 years, now.  We only met face-to-face for the first time at Pulp Ark but online we’ve collaborated on many a project and stayed up late many a night chatting on IM about characters, stories and ideas.  In recent years Tommy has really made a name for himself as the spokesman and spearhead of The New Pulp Movement.  But for our purposes here, we’re more concerned with his status as a publisher and editor.

Tommy and his partner run Pro Se Press which is creating quite the respectable reputation as a publisher of quality New Pulp fiction and Tommy also is largely responsible for the previously mentioned Pulp Ark. 

The first thing you have to understand about Tommy Hancock is that he gets more ideas in a week than the average person has in a month.  Even if he lived another 77 years he’d never be able to give adequate wordage to all the characters, concepts and stories packing the inside of his already full-to-busting brain.

One of these ideas is The Sovereign City Project.  Tommy contacted Barry Reese and myself and asked us to each create a character for this city, which would be a shared environment between the three of us.  The idea being that we’d lay the groundwork and foundation for Sovereign City and then after a year, the Project would be thrown open to other writers. 

Now, I originally had no idea of placing Fortune McCall into this as I already had other plans in mind for the character, including a team-up with Dillon and indeed, pitched Tommy another character who was more or less a Shadow-analog to compliment Barry’s Lazarus Gray (an analog to The Avenger) and Tommy’s Doc Daye (a Doc Savage analog)

Tommy contacted me after reading my initial pitch and said that while he loved the character, he was puzzled as to why I hadn’t created a black character.  Yeah, that’s right; the character I had pitched to Tommy was a white one.

My thing was this: at the time I’d never written a pulp character in the 1930’s.  Since then, that’s changed (Details Later) and to be brutally honest, I wasn’t confident in my ability to credibly create and portray a black adventurer in the 1930’s.  Given the climate, the culture, the racial issues…I admit it, I folded like Robert Duran in the seventh round of the Duran/Leonard rematch because I didn’t think I could pull it off.

However, Tommy had a little more confidence than I did…and we’ll talk about that the next time we get together.

Until then, feast your eyes on this: the artist is the infinitely talented Peter Cooper and I consider it the definitive look of Fortune McCall.  I dunno if you can but I see a lot of Eisner and Simonson in there.  And yeah, there will be more about Peter later on as well.


As always, thank you for your time and kind attention.  Go read something good and I'll talk to you soon.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I Get PULPED! Part Two


Continuing the adventures of Derrick Ferguson from the previous episode (sorry about the gap between, avid listeners), Tommy, Barry, and Ron discuss all the goodness Derrick has coming in the future, including several Dillon related projects!


Check out PULPED! and the New Pulp Movement and at the New Pulp Forum hosted by Comic Related  under NEW PULP! Also, like New Pulp on Facebook!

Ron Fortier Airship 27

Tommy Hancock  Pulp Machine

Barry Reese

Like Barry's Writer Page, Tommy's Writer Page, and Airship 27 on Facebook!

All music used in this podcast is either in the Public Domain or used under an appropriate Creative Commons license. The opening and closing themes were performed and recorded by The Red Hook Ramblers.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Trail of Sebastian Red #2


I love it when I can economize and knock off two subjects in one post and this indeed is going to be one of those posts.  I’ll be able to let you in on the background of some of the artwork in the title banner and hopefully give a word of encouragement as well.  Here we go: 

Invariably I will be asked by other writers; “You get a lot of reviews and attention and feedback.  How come I don’t?”  Actually, it’s not that blunt but you get the idea.  My reply is usually the same: “You have no control over that.  It’s strictly up to the readers if they want to inform you about how your work made them feel.  All you can do is continue to produce the best work you can and continue to put it out there.  One day it’ll be appreciated.”

Now I realize that isn’t very helpful to writers anxious to know what others think about their writing.  I freely admit that.  And believe me; I was once in those very shoes.  I was writing in Internet Years about 10 years before anybody outside of other writers contacted me to tell me; “Hey, I really like what you’re doing.”

Yeah, you read that right.  10 mollyfoggin’ years.  I was fortunate that I had guys like Russ AndersonTom Deja, Tim HartinBarry Reese and Tommy Hancock who recognized my alleged talent and were generous enough to provide me with their criticism and feedback.  But yeah, comments from Plain Ol’ Reader Dan or Dora weren’t comin’.  And let’s be honest, every writer gets a thrill out of hearing from a total stranger who took a chance and picked up a book or read a story of theirs and was excited enough by that book or story to take the time and let that writer know.

Now, one day I get this email from somebody I’d never heard of.  A Belgian artist named Alain Valet.  This gentleman informed me that he had read my Sebastian Red story; “Of All the Plagues A Lover Bears” and was inspired by some of the imagery in the story to go ahead and create pieces of art based on the story and here they are:









The two pieces are incorporated into the title banner but they deserve to be seen in entirety so that they can properly be appreciated.  The one at the top is my favorite of the two as it’s actually from the story.  Sebastian Red needs some information from a demon and plays a game of poker with it in order to do so.  But believe me, I love and adore them both.  Mr. Valet and I communicated for a while after that and even briefly discussed the possibility of him illustrating a Sebastian Red story.  But as it happens so often on The Internet, folks fall out of touch.  I haven’t heard from him in a number of years but he has made an indelible impression on me in my development as a writer.

So I guess the point I’m trying to make is this: you just never know who’s going to read your books, your plays or look at your artwork or listen to your music and be moved enough to not only respond and reply to what you did but to create something of their own.  And isn’t that why we all strive to create?  Because somebody wrote, drew, sang or said something that ignited our own creative fire?

If you come away from this post with anything (besides my typical shameless huckstering) I hope it’s this: continue to write, paint, draw, sing, speak, and dance…whatever it is you do.  Because your own Alain Valet is out there.  But he or she can’t speak to you unless you speak to them first.

  

Monday, October 10, 2011

I Get PULPED! Part One




Our own Derrick Ferguson steps into the spotlighted hot seat up on the chopping block for this episode which is so Ferguson packed that it is a two parter!  Join Ron as he goes into the cracks and crevices of Derrick's background and then Tommy and Barry talk Derrick up about his latest Pulpwork book, FOUR BULLETS FOR DILLON!   Enjoy all the manliness one Pulp show can handle when Derrick gets PULPED

Check out PULPED! and the New Pulp Movement at www.newpulpfiction.com and at the New Pulp forum hosted by Comic Related at
http://www.comicrelated.com/forums/ under NEW PULP! Also, like New Pulp on Facebook!

Ron Fortier Airship 27  Tommy Hancock Pulp Machine
Barry Reese Barry Reese

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Trail of Sebastian Red #1

And a long trail it is.  So long that it’ll take more than one post for me to adequately cover this character but that’s all right.  I love setting things up so that there’s a sequel automatically built in.  And yes, that’s a reference to most of my writing.

Sebastian Red is a character that was born out of my love for Westerns.  A love that began when my father took me to see “The Wild Bunch” during its original theatrical run in 1969.  And yes, I am that old.  Stop snickering.  From then on I was totally and absolutely in love with the genre.  Didn’t hurt that every time there was a western on TV, my dad made sure I knew it was on.  Even if he had to go to work, I would watch it and then when he came home I would tell him the story, often acting out all the parts as well.

When I finally got around to sitting down and writing an actual western I ran up a really thick and hard wall: research.  I’ll be honest with you; most of what I know about The Old West comes from movies, TV shows, Marvel Comics The Rawhide Kid (the real one…you know what I mean) and western fiction written by guys like Luke Short, Elmore Leonard, Larry McMurtry, Louis L’Amour.  Oh, I have read a few reference books on The Old West but I’ll tell you the truth: I’d rather make up a fact rather than look it up.

Which is where the idea came to me to marry up the western with heroic fantasy.  I’d set my story in The Wild West but it would be a Wild West on a parallel Earth where nobody thought it strange that elves, werewolves, demons and zombies lived right alongside gunfighters, saloon floozies, Indians, cowboys and school marms.  This way I could certainly have my cake and eat it too.  After all, who’s gonna contradict me about a Wild West I made up?  Heh.

The character of Sebastian Red himself was inspired by Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone and Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane.  A loner, all that we know about him so far is that he’s a man of superhuman skill with his sword and his midnight black seven-shooter revolver, a .45 Leone Nightmaster.  At some point in his past he was an honored member of a guild of elite warriors called The Lords of Burning Iron.  They protect a warm and golden southern land called Carrincha.

As a boy and youth, Sebastian Red was trained in The Arts of Sword and Gun, becoming extraordinarily deadly in the use of both.  At some unspecified point in his life, he committed an act of betrayal so awful that he was forced to leave his wife and two daughters behind in Carrincha while he became a landless wanderer, working as a bounty hunter for pay which he sends to his family.  He’s picked up a considerable amount of magical knowledge in his travels.  Enough to have gotten the notice of some nasty supernatural entities that mean him no good.  Neither do his former comrades in The Lords of Burning Iron.  Some of them roam the land, hunting for him to take their vengeance on his still unrevealed act of betrayal.

Intrigued?  Good, ‘cause I’m going to briefly go over something a lot of folks ask me about before I tell you where you can find the Sebastian Red stories.  Something that I think is certainly intriguing.

I describe Sebastian Red as a black man of average height and weight who wears his hair in shoulder length dreadlocks.  Old golden coins and small, pinky sized idols carved out of wood are woven into his hair, charms against evil spells and such.  Now this is almost exactly the way I describe another one of my characters: Toulon The Magician, the crimelord who rules Denbrook (patience, patience…we’ll get to that another time) which has caused readers who have read both the Sebastian Red stories and the Diamondback novel to ask: “Are Toulon and Sebastian Red the same guy?”

Well, yes…and no.  If you’ve read Michael Moorcock and know that in his Multiverse most of his characters exist in different dimensions.  Sometimes they’re the same character in many dimensions while in others, they’re not.  It’s something like that at work here. 

It gets even more complicated when I reveal that both Sebastian Red and Toulon are worshippers of Thahali, She Who Wears The Dress of Seven Sufferings.  Thahali is the one responsible for the destruction of Usimi Dero, where Dillon was born and she killed his father.  But that is also a story for another time. 

Now where can you find the stories of Sebastian Red?  Glad you asked….


The first Sebastian Red story published; “All Of The Plagues A Lover Bears” appeared in the anthology





While the second one, “The Tale Of The Baron’s Tribute” was published in




Which was originally offered as a pre-order giveaway for HOW THE WEST WAS WEIRD VOL. II.  Editor Russ Anderson has informed me that in December, HOW THE WEST WAS WEIRD: CAMPFIRE TALES will be available as a 99 cent ebook.  Don’t worry, I’ll let you know exactly when you can get it soon as I know.

And the third Sebastian Red story; “Storms of Blood and Snow” can be found in





And I think that’s more than enough for right now.  As we go down the trail, I’ll take each one of the Sebastian Red stories individually and pick ‘em apart and talk about why I wrote them and what makes them so much fun for me to write.  Hope this sparked your interest enough to make you want to go read the stories for yourself.  But if not, come on back any way.  I’ll change your mind sooner or later.

Derrick Ferguson Is Trapped In Mike Baron's DOMAIN

Paperback:  342 pages Publisher:  Expanding Realms; 1 edition (July 23, 2017) Language:  English ISBN-10:  1944621164 ISBN-13:  9...