Showing posts with label New Pulp. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New Pulp. Show all posts

Friday, April 4, 2014

Three Examples Of Today's New Pulp

I’m gonna tell you the main problem us New Pulp writers have when we’re trying to explain New Pulp to folks who have no idea what Pulp is. Much less New Pulp. See, we go on and on with our explanations of Pulp and what it means to us as writers and what it is as a genre…

…and then we’ll get the Classic Pulp crowd chiming in with; “Pulp isn’t a genre! It’s the paper the original magazines were printed on!”

Well, you Classic Pulp guys just hold on. I’ll get to you another time. Believe me. But right now I’ve got more interesting fish to sauté.

Anyway, we try to explain to The Average Reader Who Is Just Looking For Something Good To Read what New Pulp is. And they will listen most earnestly and patiently and attentively and they will then say; “Okay, I get what you’re saying…but why and how is New Pulp different from just plain ol’ Action Adventure? Or Horror? Or Science Fiction? Why can’t you guys just label what you do as that and get it over with?”

And The Average Reader Who Is Just Looking For Something Good To Read does have a valid point. And before you start with that tired old felgercarb about how you don’t like labels and you don’t see why anything has to be labeled…

…tell you what we’re gonna do. We’re going to take all the labels off the canned foods in your local supermarket and let you guess what’s inside those cans the next time you go shopping. Because much as you would like to think otherwise, labelling does have its place. And one reason why it’s so hard to label New Pulp is because over the years there have been so many TV shows, comic books and movies that have adopted the tropes of Classic Pulp that it’s become so ingrained in Pop Culture that most folks don’t even realize they’re watching Pulp. Still don’t believe me? Sit back while I hit you with three examples of New Pulp you watched and enjoyed and didn’t even know was New Pulp.

24 (2001-2010): For 8 Seasons we watched Counter Terrorist Unit Special Agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) defend Our Country against supervillains, terrorist attacks and shadow government conspiracies. Each Season followed Jack Bauer on a Really Bad Day, each episode taking place in Real Time over the course of one hour. Before each commercial break, a clock would appear on screen to show us how much time had passed and each episode would end with Jack Bauer or another member of the cast in dire peril. You had to come back next week to find out how Jack or whoever got out of whatever death trap they had gotten into.

24 is one of the primary examples of New Pulp I love to hold up as it’s the Ultimate Saturday Morning Serial. A Serial was extended movies broken up into chapter plays that enjoyed their major popularity in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The chapters were shown in movie theaters in 10 or 15 minutes segments before the main double feature.  They ended with a Cliffhanger in which the hero or another member of the cast found themselves in dire peril. Sound familiar? 24 quite successfully adapted the Saturday Morning Serial in an innovative way. Sure, the episodes were now an hour long instead of 15 minutes but thanks to terrific writing and acting, they kept us on the end of our seats. And as a character, Jack Bauer has a whole lot in common with both Jimmy Christopher aka Operator #5 and The Spider.

Hudson Hawk: Is the most blatantly Pulp of my three examples and maybe that’s why it was the least successful. I dunno. All I know is that the very first time I saw it in the theater, I knew what director Michael Lehmann and screenplay writers Steven E. de Souza and Daniel Waters (based on a story by Bruce Willis and Robert Kraft) were going for. Eddie Hawkins is a master thief known professionally as Hudson Hawk

Upon being released from prison he attempts to go straight but is blackmailed by the CIA, The Mafia, the psychotic Mayflower twins ( Richard E. Grant, Sandra Bernhard) and even his own partner-in-crime Tommy Five-Tone (Danny Aiello) into a complicated series of heists to steal the components of the La Machinnia dell’Oro, the greatest invention of Leonardo da Vinci, a machine that can convert lead into gold. The scene where Bruce Willis and Danny Aiello pull off a heist that is perfectly timed to their singing “Swinging On A Star” is one of my favorites in the movie.

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004): Wes Anderson is not a director that anybody by any stretch of the imagination would associate with Pulp New or Classic. But I’ve watched The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou three times now and the more I see it, the more I’m convinced it’s a New Pulp Adventure. Bill Murray plays Steve Zissou, an oceanographer/adventurer who sees his best friend and partner eater by a Jaguar Shark, a species of shark that had been previously considered to be mythical. Steve Zissou vows to hunt down and destroy the shark.

Aboard his massive research vessel/home, The Belafonte, Zissou and his eccentric crew, which includes a Brazilian musician who sings David Bowie songs in Portuguese, Anne-Marie Sakowitz who insists on walking around topless and a bunch of college interns from the University of North Alaska he sets out on what may be his last and greatest adventure. The adventure is flavored by Steve having to deal with Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson) who just may be his illegitimate son and the tagalong reporter Jane-Winslette Richardson (Cate Blanchett) who is attracted to both Steve and Ned.

It’s a movie that I consider New Pulp because of Steve Zissou, an aging adventurer who is trying to hold onto his life of adventure even though everybody and everything is telling him he has to conform to the modern world. But Steve believes in a different world. Halfway through the movie it turns into an almost straight out action adventure where Steve and his crew have to dig back into the day when they were badasses in order to track down and take out a band of pirates that have attacked  The Belafonte and taken some of the interns hostages.

Steve Zissou’s crew are just as talented, skilled and eccentric as Doc Savage’s Iron Crew or Buckaroo Banzai’s Hong Kong Cavaliers. And if you have any more doubts about the intention of this movie, check out the end credit scene where Steve Zissou and his crew march to their boat. Wes Anderson himself has said that is a deliberate homage to the Banzai Strut done during the closing credits of “Buckaroo Banzai”

The thing all these movies (and TV show) have in common is that there are various elements of Classic Pulp that the creators adapted successfully for modern audiences. Matter of fact, they did them so well that modern audiences have no idea that they’re watching Pulp.

And don’t get me started on how Scandal is a modern day version of The Avenger and Justice, Inc…we’ll leave that for next time…

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With: TOMMY HANCOCK

Derrick Ferguson: Who is Tommy Hancock?

Tommy Hancock: It might be easier to answer with who I’m not, but we’ll leave that for another interview.  I am a father of three kids I dearly love (Braeden, Alex, and Kailee), husband to Lisa, who is overdue for her mental evaluation because she is still putting up with me, and an avid idea guy.  By that I mean I have ideas for stories and projects and events and…and…well, stuff all the time.   I’ve always been that way and it’s driven me into a whole lot of interesting directions.  Probably defined me more than anything else has, that urge to create, to get ideas out. It’s definitely shown me my strengths and weaknesses.

DF: Where do you reside and what do you do for a living?

TH: I live in Melbourne, Arkansas, a little town north of Batesville, Arkansas, which is a slightly bigger town about 90 miles north of Little Rock.

I am currently an investigator for an Attorney.  Not necessarily Pulp material, but sometimes it gets really interesting. And definitely inspires stories.

DF: Tell us something about your background.

TH: Grew up that kid who wrote his first story in third grade and used his friends as the heroes.  Never stopped writing after that.  By eighth grade, turned the stories into a script that we used to talk our English Teacher, Mrs. Sifford, into letting us act out.  Moved into theater that way, into audio drama from there, and somewhere along the way I collected comics, old time radio, books, and Pulps.  My parents and little sister didn’t really understand how I was a part of the foursome they called a family because my interests didn’t fit any of theirs.  So, I sort of got on a kick of searching out similar minds.  Took a while, but found a whole passle of ‘em in 1997 in the world of Fan Fiction.  From there, while I built a pretty neat family of my own, worked on my own original stuff until Pro Se happened.

DF: What are your influences?

TH: As eclectic as my interests. I am a huge Mystery/Detective fan and a writing influence is most definitely Robert B. Parker.  But I draw a lot from Hammett, from L’amour, Stuart Kaminsky, Steven J. Cannell (his television work), and a handful of Pulp types as well. 

Also, my writing is heavily influenced by my love of old TV and radio shows.  There’s something about the economy of 23 minute shows that I love and has given me the ability to tell a story in short form tightly and succinctly.

I also have three major influences, believe it or not, that are musical in nature.  The body of works of Jimmy Buffett, Johnny Cash, and Meatloaf hugely impact my storytelling.  All three have different ways to tell a story, but they share one things-the almost cinematic way the stories they tell unfold.

DF: Which do you like better: writing, editing or publishing?

TH: That’s a hard question to ask simply because, to be honest, they’re the same for me.  Not that that they are the same activity, but what I derive from each is the same.  The concept of contributing to new stories, to being part of a creative process, to putting even just a little bit of me into a tale…I can do that as an author, editor, and publisher.  So, really, they’re all equal with me.

I’ve got a huge focus now on all aspects of creating, not just putting words on the page.  I am a major part of the storytelling process in publishing and even as an editor.  Also, my creativity has taken on a life of its own, evolving through conventions, events, and such.  I’ve learned that I am as much a part of the story as the stories we publish and I write.  So, being in panels, joining in discussions about writing and such, and coming up with special events is a new thing creatively for me in the writing sense.  Although, to be honest, I’ve always made room for the creative stuff I wanted to do.

DF: What is your philosophy of writing?

TH: It’s pretty simple.  Have the idea first.  Don’t write until You have the idea.  And even then, don’t write until the idea has You.  I am not a believer in the concept that stories go where they want to once the writing process starts.  The writer is the driver at that point.  But I firmly feel like while the idea is still just that, an abstract construct teasing one’s mind, then that is the moment where anything can happen.  And when it does, when the idea has you enough, then You write.  And You write until it’s done, even if that takes five years and you do other stories in between.  I have several ideas in progress and some that are just pieces…that I will write, that will end up in something I do.  Because the ideas had me before I started writing them down.

DF: What writing projects are you working on now?

TH: A lot that I’m really behind on.  One of the curses of doing a ton of things is that other things get left behind.  But that’s part of growing and I’ve tackled the ‘No, this can wait’ philosophy that anyone who is overwhelmed sort of slides into.   I’m working at this moment on a few things, including The Rook Volume 7, ‘Nomorrow (the follow up to my first novel, Yesteryear), The Adventures of Nicholas Saint, all for Pro Se.  Then I’m working on a Fight Card novella as well as a comic book and a couple of other things I can’t reveal for Moonstone.  I also have a two book deal with Dark Oak Press, one being a hard-boiled detective novel, which I am working on currently. 

DF: What’s the best thing you’ve written so far?

TH: Either “Lucky”, a story based on the Nightbeat radio show for a collection this past year from Radio Archives or my first published story, “Crossing Contention”, a western short featuring Virgil Earp, a story published by Airship 27.

DF: Where did your love affair with Pulp begin?

TH: Standing in an Kmart looking up at a spinner rack that had books on it and pulling a Doc Savage omnibus off of it.   Started like blazes right then and didn’t stop.

DF: What’s the best advice you can give an aspiring writer who wants to venture into the wild and wooly world of New Pulp?

TH: Read. Read what it is You think You want to write.  Then, when You decide to write for a Publisher, read what they publish.  That is a must, as far as I’m concerned.  A question I always ask new writers who approach Pro Se is ‘What of ours have You read?’

DF: How has New Pulp grown from where it was to where it is now?

TH: I think the readership has grown, although not where any of us want it to be.  I also think, and this may irritate a few people, that New Pulp has sort of reached its capacity in the way most companies have approached it.  We feed a niche and that niche has plenty to eat with Pro Se and other companies out there, not to mention what is out that really is New Pulp even though it doesn’t call itself such.  If Pro Se and others want to continue on, want to leave a mark outside our little circle, then we have to consider different ways of doing that without compromising what we want to produce.

Part of that means, at least for Pro Se, using the wide brush that I’ve always painted what Pulp is with.  To appeal to readers who wouldn’t think to pick up a book that someone says is a super hero book or a mystery book, to find writers, artists, and stories that fit what we do, but also to widen the reach of our work, New Pulp has to push beyond itself.

DF: What is the fascination that we as writers and readers have for the Classic Pulp Heroes?

TH: I can tell you what it is for me.  It’s to make sure their stories go on.  When I love a character, the two words I hate the most are ‘The End’.  So I enjoy reading new stories of established characters, even bad ones, because at least I know the story goes on. They keep on living.

DF: Tell us The Secret Origin of Pro Se.

TH: Well, one secret that isn’t really is I didn’t start Pro Se.  I have a partner, Fuller Bumpers, who worked as a writer and actor in LA for several years, who came back to Arkansas to be a lawyer and have a family, but couldn’t beat the bug of wanting to create.  Fuller brought me on board as we got to know each other in our regular jobs and he found out I was a creative like him.  We started out looking at audio drama and that was fun, but not where either of our hearts really were.  So, with my learning about the New Pulp Movement (not yet named such at that point), we decided to push in that direction and resurrected the Pulp magazine, then moved on to books and the rest is what Pro Se is today.

DF: Why have your own publishing house?

TH: That’s a question that probably should be harder to answer than it is.  Because I wanted to.  I wanted to have books I’d want to read and although some companies were doing what I liked, I knew the only way I’d really get books that I’d love to have on my shelf was to have a hand in producing them.

DF: What can we expect from Pro Se in 2014?

TH: A lot. I’m pretty well known for teases, you know, hinting at what’s coming…so that’s what I’ll do in response to this. A new imprint that takes a rather unique look at Genre Fiction... Women of Fantasy (and that's all I’m allowed to say at this point)... a Crossover that will shake one Universe at home in Pro Se to its foundations...a New Pulp Novel by a Classic Pulp Author...Another new imprint that will definitely pull back the steamy underbelly of Pulp and show how raw it can be…and the launch of something that no one else in our corner of publishing is doing that we think it is high time for. And that isn’t all…have to leave people wanting more.

DF: Where do you see Pro Se five years from now?

TH: I don’t really have a clear concept of where Pro Se will be in five years.  I have a plan, one that I’ve sort of kept close to the vest.  In five years, we’ll be in the third phase of it and all I can say is, if it goes anywhere near like I plan, then Pro Se will be a little bit of everywhere.

DF: What’s a Typical Day In The Life of Tommy Hancock like?
TH: Very busy.  Literally a juggling act.  I get up, I pulp, I take care of the family, go to work, Pulp when I can get the time there, come home, do the family thing, then Pulp more.  

Although that is pretty much a day in day out sort of thing, I’ve been fortunate.  I’ve had people say, “wow, to be so focused on Pro Se and Pulp, that’s gotta be a lot of work and lonely.” It is a lot of work, but the instant it feels like work to me, I’ll walk away.  And as far as being alone, not in the least.  I’ve got a great staff at Pro Se.  Morgan Minor is the best wingwoman ever.  And then I have a circle of friends, sort of my own little Algonquin Round Table, that figuratively and at least digitally literally surround me and keep me going.  So, I’m good with a Pulp filled daily routine.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we need to know?

Tommy Hancock: That’s about it. Thanks for the opportunity

Friday, December 6, 2013

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With: PERCIVAL CONSTANTINE

Derrick Ferguson: Who is Percival Constantine?

Percival Constantine: I was born in Illinois and lived in the northwest suburbs of Chicago until shortly before my 25th birthday. While growing up, I subsisted on a pretty consistent diet of superhero comics, action movies, TV shows and video games, which I have to thank for warping my mind into its current state.

DF: Where do you currently reside and what do you do for a living?

PC: Currently I live in Japan’s Kagoshima prefecture. Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of it, most people outside of Japan haven’t. The claim to fame of this place is that it’s home to Shinmoe-Dake, which was used for the exterior shots of Blofeld’s volcano base in “You Only Live Twice”. At the moment, I teach English lessons in several elementary schools, but that will hopefully change in the near-future as I’ve been speaking with some local colleges about job prospects. I also write and edit, and I do the occasional comic book lettering job, all while pursuing my masters degree online. I’ve also started doing some cover design and book formatting, since apparently I’m not busy enough.

DF: How does it happen that a nice boy from the Midwestern U.S. finds himself teaching English in Japan?

PC: I always had an interest in Japanese culture, probably first caused by shows like “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Power Rangers” that I watched while growing up, plus dubbed anime like “Dragonball Z” and video games like “Final Fantasy VII”. But what really cinched it was when I was in college, I became really interested in live-action Japanese movies—films by guys like Akira Kurosawa, Takashi Miike, Seijin Suzuki, Takeshi Kitano, Kinji Fukusaku, and others, plus the novels of Haruki Murakami. Around this same time, I discovered the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Program, which invites people from native speaking countries to work in Japan as assistant language teachers in Japanese public schools for 1-5 years. I applied for the program, hoping to end up in a bustling metropolis like Tokyo or Osaka, but instead I got sent out to Kagoshima. At first I didn’t like it, and the plan was to return to the States after my first-year contract was up, but one year turned into three, then three into five, and now I’m in my sixth year in Kagoshima.

DF: Tell us as much about your background as you’re legally able to.

PC: Well, if it’s only stuff I’m legally able to discuss, that’s going to be a short story. As a kid, I fell in love with the “X-Men” animated series, and that led me to collecting comics—first X-Men, then later Avengers, and more and more titles, primarily Marvel. When I was around 10 years old, I had a few teachers who had us write stories as assignments, and I would write superhero stories, some of them featuring characters I was a fan of, some of them featuring my friends and I becoming superheroes. And that’s really what led to my desire to be a writer.

DF: What is your philosophy of writing?

PC: Don’t bore yourself or your readers. I’m very much from the school of thought of guys like Elmore Leonard, where it’s focused on characters and dialogue over description. My favorite rule from Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing is “avoid the parts readers tend to skip.” And not boring yourself also applies to what you’re writing in addition to how you write it. Write what you enjoy, regardless of whether it’s popular or marketable, and to hell with anyone who tells you otherwise.

DF: You actually intended to be a comic book writer and not a novelist. True?

PC: Absolutely true. Ever since I started writing, the goal was always to become a comic book writer. Outside of the stuff I created as a kid, my first serious attempts at writing my own original characters and ideas were written as comic book scripts, not novels. Many of them later became novels, but comics were always my first love.

But being a poor college student when I started writing meant my options for paying artists page rates were limited. I hooked up with a number of different artists for a number of different projects, but something always got in the way. Sometimes it was as simple as the artist getting offered a paying job, which naturally is fine—if you get offered a project for money as opposed to royalty sharing, then you should take that project. But what became really frustrating were the artists who would just plain stop answering emails. After about two or three instances where that happened, I decided to focus instead on prose.

I would still love to do more comics work, particularly for Marvel or DC. Those are the characters I grew up with, so getting the chance to write them professionally would be a dream come true. Don’t get me wrong, I also love doing my own thing, but it would be a lot of fun to work on my favorite characters.

DF: You enjoyed an extensive and successful career in writing DC and Marvel fan fiction. What are the benefits of writing fan fiction and what are the drawbacks?

PC: The biggest benefit is, provided you hook up with a constructive community, it’s one of the best training grounds you could ask for. It’s a lot easier to jump into a world and characters you grew up with and know inside and out than it is to come up with your own from scratch. I would not be the writer I am today if I didn’t spend my teenage and college years writing fanfic, that much I can guarantee. In that time, I learned a lot about characterization, description, dialogue, plot, and even editing. It also gave me confidence to eventually move beyond into original fiction.

The drawback is, of course, you won’t be able to make any money off it, nor do you own these characters you’re writing about. Fanfic is still frowned upon by a lot of people as a waste of time and energy. Of course, if you’re willing to put in the effort, you can take a story that began life as fanfic and turn it into something that’s all your own creation. I did that with my second novel, Chasing The Dragon, and it’s been done by other writers as well.

DF: You’ve done work for professional comic book companies as a letterer, haven’t you?

PC: I have. When I was initially putting together Love & Bullets as a comic book, I had found an artist, but a letterer was still out of reach, until the day I found the Ninja Lettering website. I followed their tutorials for using Adobe Illustrator to letter comics, did a number of practice pages, and then began lettering the first issue of Love & Bullets. To my surprise, I actually really enjoyed lettering, and so I began seeking out work. I lettered a number of submissions that were never picked up, and also did work for a few independent companies, most notably AC Comics. While lettering stories for their Femforce anthology comic, I developed a very good relationship with Mark and Stephanie Heike, the editors on that comic. That relationship led to my first published work-for-hire in the form of a finishing off the final two parts of a three-part story featuring their character of Threeta.
I still keep an eye on the various job boards for letterers, and if there’s something that catches my interest (and I have an opening in my schedule), then I’ll apply for it. I would like to do more of it, though.

DF: You’ve also tried your hand at screenwriting and film directing, correct?

PC: Also true. Screenwriting and comic writing are very closely related in a lot of ways, so I found it pretty easy to switch between the two, and movies were and still are a huge influence on me. During my undergraduate years, my minor was in mass media with a heavy focus on film studies and it was during that period that I did some directing work on some short student films. Only one was ever completed, and that was a short film called Russian Roulette, based on a short story written by a friend of mine named Anastasia Peters. 

She had asked me to critique the story and I thought it was incredible and while reading it, I kept picturing it playing out as a film and so I asked her if she’d let me adapt it. I had several friends who were skilled in different areas of film, so we came up with a script and shot the film in three days.

The masters degree I’m pursuing involves a screenwriting concentration, and I’d love to write and/or direct another project at some point in the future. It’s just a matter of finding the right idea for a script and all the necessary elements to translate the script into a movie.

DF: Your output is diverse. You’ve written Fantasy, Espionage Thrillers, Science Fiction, Pulp Action/Adventures. Is the diversity to keep your readers from getting bored or you?

PC: More to keep me from getting bored. The nice thing about New Pulp is that we’re not restricted by genre. We don’t have to stick to Horror or Crime or Sci-Fi or Fantasy. We can play in all these different areas, sometimes all at once. If I get the inkling to write a Horror novel, I can just do it. If I want to write a Western, I can just do it. It’s a nice way to keep me from getting bored, but it’s also a great way to challenge myself. Recently, I wrote a Western story, and it was the first time I ever wrote a Western. It was just an idea that came to me one day, it coincided nicely with an anthology that was in the works, so I pitched it and was given the greenlight to write it. Even if I didn’t get the greenlight, I probably would have written it anyway and figured out something else to do with it.

DF: Tell us about The Infernum series.

Infernum began life as a film project, initially titled Codename: Black Widow, if I recall correctly. It was the brainchild of a very good friend of mine, Kyle Shire, who wanted to direct it as a student film. He came up with a basic outline and asked me if I’d be willing to write a screenplay, and of course I was more than happy to do that. The film never happened, but Kyle gave me his blessing to write it as a novel.

Infernum is an organization of assassins run by a mysterious and charming power broker known as Dante. In Codename: Black Widow, which later became Love & Bullets, the main character is named Angela Lockhart, a former operative of a government organization called the Agency. After the death of her husband, she goes rogue and gets recruited by Dante as an assassin, the deal between them being that Dante will use his resources to help her find her husband’s killer.

Love & Bullets was followed up by Outlaw Blues, which involves a lot of the same characters, but in different roles. The protagonist in Outlaw Blues is a retired hitman named Carl Flint, who gets brought out of retirement by Dante for one final job. It ties into Love & Bullets in several ways, but is also its own story—whereas Love & Bullets was more of an espionage spy vs. spy novel, Outlaw Blues is more of an urban western.

I do have plans for future books. I’ve been kicking around ideas for the next book, tentatively titled Gentleman Rogue, for a while, but have had other projects I wanted to focus on first.

DF: I’m a big fan of The Myth Hunter, Elisa Hill. Tell us about her.

Elisa Hill is my attempt to try my hand at a more pulpy adventure story. I came up with the character a while ago, initially as a pitch for the now-defunct original fiction website, Frontier. In initial form, Elisa was a vampire hunter, but that morphed over time into what she is now. Initially I tried to do it as a comic, but when that fell through, I decided to try it as a novel.

The basic premise is that all the various mythologies of the world are rooted in fact. Pursuing these legends are people called myth hunters. Some are mercenaries, some are knowledge-seekers, some are treasure hunters. Elisa is the daughter of two myth hunters and she initially became one of the rogue myth hunters, working with a mercenary named Lucas Davalos. But after the death of her parents, she came back to their way of thinking, attempting to continue their research with the help of their good friend and her mentor, a retired myth hunter named Max Finch.

In the first book, The Myth Hunter, Elisa and Max pursue the myth of the lost continent of Lemuria, while also trying to avoid the reach of the mysterious Order and a vicious mercenary named Seth. During the course of that book, Elisa ran into Asami, a kitsune or Japanese fox spirit, who can change between fox and human forms and possesses some degree of magical abilities.

The sequel, Dragon Kings of the Orient, has Asami seeking out Elisa’s help to protect the Dragon Kings of China from Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, a powerful demigod who sought revenge on the Dragon Kings for imprisoning him. The lives of the Dragon Kings are tied to the oceans of Asia, and so if they die, that could mean chaos for the continent. Of course, things aren’t what they seem.

There’s been another addition to the Myth Hunter series in the form of “The Wild Hunt,” a short story featured in the PulpWork Christmas Special 2013, which is now available in digital and print formats. “The Wild Hunt” has Asami traveling to Hokkaido in Japan where she runs across a yuki-onna, or snow woman. But there’s something else, something far larger at play.

DF: What are your future plans for Elisa Hill?

PC: Elisa will be back. Dragon Kings of the Orient ended on something of a cliffhanger, and that will lead into the third book. The ending of “The Wild Hunt” also hints at something else coming down the road for Elisa and her allies. At some point in the future, I’d also like to invite other writers to contribute stories about Elisa and her allies and put out an anthology of those stories, but I haven’t put that into action just yet.

DF: You’ve got a new novel out. Tell us about SOULQUEST.

PC: SoulQuest, like almost everything I’ve done, began life as a comic book pitch. It never went anywhere and some time later, I pitched it as a serial for the Revenance original fiction site. The first chapter was posted, but Revenance went down shortly after that. I had already written several pages and continued it for a bit, but ultimately got distracted by other projects.

Then last year, I was struggling with a project for NaNoWriMo and I started looking through abandoned manuscripts (of which I have more than a few). One of those was SoulQuest. I began jotting down notes and found myself quickly sucked back into that world.

SoulQuest is basically my love letter to the Final Fantasy series, in particular Final Fantasy VII, which is my all-time favorite video game. The book focuses on Zarim, who is a pirate along with Ekala, Zarim’s lover and a consummate thief, and Swul, a hard-drinking exile of the faerie kingdom. From the airship Excalibur, they live the lives of mercenaries, traveling wherever the money is. But when the legendary Soulstones surface, they’re tasked with locating them. Also pursuing the Soulstones is Lord Vortai, a powerful sorcerer who basically controls the empire. With the Soulstones, Vortai could have the power to remake the world as he sees fit.

It’s part fantasy, part science fiction, part steampunk, with a lot of action thrown in. This book was me really pushing myself out of my comfort zone, especially after a very long dry spell when I came close to quitting writing altogether. And it’s out now in print and for Kindle.

DF: Is SOULQUEST going to be a series? And if so, what can we expect in future books?

PC: I had considered making it into a series, but for now, it’s just this one book. Given what happens in this book, I think a follow-up where the stakes are the same or even higher would be very difficult to pull off. I might consider revisiting the characters in short stories set at different points in their lives, because it is a big, ensemble cast, and there’s a lot that can be done with the different characters. But there are other projects that I really want to work on at the moment, and so I’d like to focus on those.

DF: What’s A Day In The Life of Percival Constantine like?

PC: My work schedule is kind of all over the place, so if it’s a day when I have classes, then I’ll usually get up around 6 and drive anywhere from 40-90 minutes to which of the eleven elementary schools I teach at. If I have free periods during the day, I have my laptop with me and I’ll work on whatever projects are on my docket, be it formatting, editing, lettering, studying, or writing. If I have a day off from work, I might be recording or editing episodes for the two podcasts I’m part of, working on the aforementioned projects I have to work on, or just relaxing in front of the TV or reading comics or books.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know?

Percival Constantine: I’m a writer for WhatCulture and a contributor and regional partner at JapanTourist. As mentioned, I also produce two podcasts. One is The Exploding Typewriter, a podcast that features me and a member of the New Pulp community discussing whatever aspect of pulp that creator wants to talk about. To date, I’ve done interviews with Tommy Hancock, Ron Fortier, Barry Reese, Derrick Ferguson, Jim Beard, and Richard Lee Byers, with other interviews planned. It’s great fun talking with these various guys and getting their insight on the world of New Pulp.

The other podcast is called The Geek Screen, and I co-host that with one of my good friends from Chicago, Juan Bracich. We talk about geeky movies and TV shows, focusing on a different film or show each episode as the main portion and also touching on different news and whatever other tangents we might find ourselves on.

Other than that, please pick up a copy of SoulQuest and the PulpWork Christmas Special 2013. Those and all my other books are available at various places all over the net, and if you head over to my website,, you can find out where you can buy all those books and in what formats.

And also, thank you for the interview! It’s always a good time when you and I get to sit down and chat a little.

Percival Constantine
Writer, Editor, Letterer

Monday, June 17, 2013

On B-Boys and Pulp Culture: An Essay by Michael A. Gonzales

The essay below was done as a promotion for the short story collection BLACK PULP edited by Gary Phillips and Tommy Hancock. Enjoy!

On B-Boys and Pulp Culture:
Black Pulp edited by Gary Phillips and Tommy Hancock
by Michael A. Gonzales

Planet Hip-Hop has always overflowed with folks into various forms of pulp culture. Over the years, I’ve interviewed many rap artists and producers who shared their love for Star Wars, crime movies, karate flicks and the novels of Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines. Still, I was surprised when Queensbridge legend Nas told me in 1999 that he had once created a Black Pulp hero when he was a kid.

“I used to used to draw my own character called Sea God,” Nas told me. “I copied the body of Conan the Barbarian, but had him standing on the corner instead of in the forest.” Without a doubt, I’m sure Nas isn’t the only one with a stash of drawings and/or writings detailing the bugged adventures of urban champions.

Last year, when respected crime novelist/comic book writer Gary
Phillips invited me to contribute a short story to his latest project BLACK PULP (Pro Se, 2013), co-edited with Tommy Hancock, I immediately thought of that long ago conversation with Nas and decided I too wanted to create a hood hero.

Leaning back in my office chair, I closed my eyes and thought of my own pulp filled childhood growing-up in Harlem: of listening to old Shadow radio programs that were released on records, watching blaxploitation and kung-fu flicks every weekend, devouring the Marshall Rodgers/Steve Englehart’s version of Batman, discovering the weird worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard, watching Buck Rogers/Flash Gordon serials on PBS and falling in love with the work of pulp artist supreme Howard Chaykin, the dude George Lucas requested to illustrate the first Star Wars comic book.

After an hour of drifting on those dusty memories, quicker than I could say, “Batman and Robin, Green Hornet and Kato or Easy Rawlinsand Mouse,” my own pulp heroes Jaguar and Shep were born. The lead character Coltrane (Jaguar) Jones owns a Harlem rap club called the Bassment and drives through Harlem cool as Super Fly in a fly sports car. His murderous friend Shep, who just got out of prison, becomes his badass sidekick as the two self-appointed crime fighters go in search of a music minded kidnapper.

Although I’ve never been big on constructing strict outlines for fiction, I knew that I wanted the period to be 1988, the last year Mayor Koch was in office. Crack was at its height, Public Enemy’s brilliant It Takes a Nation of Millions was rockin’ the boulevards, Dapper Dan was creating his bugged designer fashions and New York Citywas still on the verge exploding.

Recalling Fab 5 Freddy, who also appears in the story, telling me about the jazz/hip-hop shows he did with Max Roach at the Mudd Club in the 1980s, the finished story told the tale of a be-bop lover trying to rid b-boys and their music from the streets of Sugar Hill. While working on the story, I consulted with my good friend Robert (Bob) Morales, himself an accomplished comic book writer, co-creator of the black Captain America graphic novel "The Truth" and a pulp culture aficionado. Although he was working on a graphic novel about
Orson Welles at the time, he always found the time to talk. Once, when I thought the Paul Pope/John Carpenter-Escape from New York inspired climax might be too crazy, Bob reminded me, “It’s a pulp story…there’s no such thing as too wild.”

So, after several weeks of calling Bob, sometimes a few times a day,and writing, “Jaguar and the Jungleland Boogie” was finally finished. Sadly, Bob Morales died suddenly on April 17, so I’d like to dedicate the story to him.

In addition to my b-boy/be-bop tale, Black Pulp has a cool line-up of creators of color that include famed novelist Walter Mosley, who penned the introduction, Gar Anthony Heywood, Christopher Chambers, Kimberly Richardson, Mel Odom and others.




Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With: LUCAS GARRETT Part Two

Derrick Ferguson: Do you ever feel uncomfortable with the rampant racism, sexism and stereotypes in Classic Pulp? Do you ever get questioned by your friends and acquaintances on your choice of reading material?

Lucas Garrett: To be honest, I would rather read fiction of that period because it was so honest in their sentiments about race, sex, and class. There was no “political correctness,” and there was nowhere to run and hide. Granted, I don’t care for the blatant racism in books such as Tarzan, Tom Swift, Hugo Drummond, and Fu Manchu. Moreover, the Spicy Pulps of that period were generally horrible towards women. However, the stories were part of that time period. Right or wrong. And those times were very harsh. That’s why characters such as Dillon, Fortune McCall, Mongrel, Diamondback, Damballa, Changa, and Imaro are very important for New Pulp. I feel that one of the greatest literary tragedies of the 1890’s, all the way into the 1940’s, is that black communities throughout the United States did not have their own dime novel and pulp writers to give opposing viewpoints to what was being published at that time. Try to search “black pulp writers” or “African-American pulp writers” in Google and see what you get. Nothing. Nothing at all. And that is a shame.

And the best time for it to have happened would have been the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s. That’s why having writers such as Charles Saunders, Milton Davis, and you, Derrick, is very important. We are playing catch up for over a century of racial bigotry and prejudice. Better late, than never. As far as anyone knowing about my interest for pulp literature, they equate it with early adventure/action fiction. It’s nice, but it’s not interesting enough to due proper research. If my father were alive, he would understand the history of pulp literature. Moreover, I think he would realize that I was adding my perspective to that genre, and “redeeming” it to some extent. If that’s possible.

DF: Do you feel New Pulp is addressing and correcting the racism, sexism and stereotypes of Classic Pulp?

LG: Yes. I do. In my opinion, New Pulp represents a multicultural melting pot of characters, and civilizations, that approach perils and situations on a realistic and non-biased perspective. Furthermore, New Pulp use issues such as racism, sexism, and other bigotries and prejudices to reveal layered reasons behind them better than Classic Pulp did during the 1920’s. 1930’s, and 1940’s.

DF: In what way does Classic Pulp speak to you?
LG: Classic pulp shows me the mindset of the men and women in the racial majority, and in places of power and prestige, during that time. For a young Caucasian male or female between the ages of say, 10 to 45, the South American, African, Near East, Far East, Arctic and Antarctic continents would appear “alien.” The predominant racial worldview was different back then. Political correctness had not yet set in on a global scale. Therefore, people, who were not Caucasian, were considered subservient, or savages to be subdued. 

Initially, early pulp literature (an outgrowth of the dime novel industry of the Gilded/Victorian period of the 19th century) capitalized on this shared racial worldview. In addition, you had the Physical Culture movements at the turn of the last century in countries such as England, Germany, and the United States that mixed religion with physical fitness, racial hygiene, and perhaps eugenics. Then we have the wartime trauma of the First World War, and the period of Prohibition, and the need for “superhuman” vigilantes and heroes to permeate the public’s consciousness.

When I look at pulp literature during that time, I also look at the period in which the stories are published. And they are very telling when it concerns race, politics, economics, and the infrastructure of societies throughout the world, whether the information in the stories are factual or assumed. Classic Pulp literature, whether it is adventure, action, spy, detective, femme fatale, space opera-based is the mythology based on the racial, sexual, and classist worldview of the early to mid-20th century. Classic pulp literature consciously, and unconsciously, taught the societal mores and ethical systems to generations of children who came of age before, during, and after the two World Wars.

By the 1950’s, the era of Classic Pulp began to wane and was overtaken by other forms of literature and other media. However, the serialized and standalone story structure, and pacing, informed the serials, television series, and films that came after. Therefore, to a certain extent, Classic pulp never went away. When you watch films such as the Usual Suspects, Sin City, LA Confidential, Last Man Standing, The Quick and The Dead, The Rundown, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Serenity, you are watching Classic Pulp. 

When you watch television series such as Mission: Impossible, Alias, Lost, Nikita, 24, Bones, The Finder, Dollhouse, Fringe, Eureka, Warehouse 13, Sanctuary, Heroes, and The Event, you are watching Classic Pulp. Classic Pulp is the truest form of American Mythology because it continues to permeate all forms of media, and evolve with the times. Therefore, Classic Pulp has become New Pulp for a new era.

DF: What do you think of New Pulp?

LG: New Pulp is the literary equivalent of the best action, adventure, detective, and espionage films and television series being viewed, or in syndication. It allows the reader to imagine interesting people, cultures, civilizations, and other worlds in their own minds that are as immersive, and engaging, as going to see a film in 3-D. And since I’m an immersive reader and thinker, using all of my senses, I can enjoy novels like Dillon and the Voice of Odin, Dillon and the Legend of the Golden Bell, and Philip Jose’ Farmer’s Wold Newton-centric novels such as Time’s Last Gift and The Other Log of Phileas Fogg. I am present in those stories, viewing every detail written by the author.

What people get out of virtual reality, video games, television, and film, literature can do as well. And with New Pulp, reader get more for their dollar, because it is time they are taking away from watching a television program, or film, playing a video game, or any other activity. Therefore, the stories had better be worth the time. New Pulp is not an easy literary industry to be in because of the competition coming from other forms of literature such as comic books, graphic novels, and other visual media. However, the material being produced is worth the struggle, in my opinion. That’s why I read New Pulp.

DF: I’ve been separating the eras of Pulp into Classic and New but do you think the two should be spoken of and evaluated as two separate eras?

LG: In terms of Classic Pulp and New Pulp, I see it as being one continuous link that has times of prosperity, and times of extreme setback. Call it Classic Pulp or New Pulp, it’s still Pulp. Pulp literature has evolved to survive, and thrive, through the times. We happen to be living in a time when it is a thriving literary industry. The reason I make this statement is that Pulp literature made a noteworthy comeback in the 1960’s and 1970’s in literature and comics. Then it somewhat fizzled out in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Furthermore, during times of economic downturn, Pulp literature seems to come back, and do well. Usually, because of the rise in criminal activity that accompanies economic downturns in those societies affected.

The thing is, because of how Pulp has evolved throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, I would say that it will survive regardless of such activity. Because it has become the unseen force behind the media mythology of America and the rest of the known world. The entertainment industries that exist today owe a huge debt to Pulp literature. Instead of declining, it has grown in various forms of entertainment. In Internet terms: Pulp has gone viral. We couldn’t get rid of it if we wanted to. It’s completely engrained in our popular culture.

DF: You’re a fan of the Wold Newton Universe. Can you tell us what it’s all about and how you discovered it?

LG: My love of classic/new pulp comes from my love of the Wold Newton Family and Wold Newton Universe, which I discovered online between 1999 and 2000. I am a fan of Timely Comics’ (Marvel Comics’ predecessor) The Invaders, a superhero team that fought in the Second World War, which included Captain America, Bucky, the Human Torch, Toro, Sub-Mariner, Spitfire, Union Jack, Miss America, and the Whizzer. Therefore, I went online to see if there were any articles about them, and I found an article written by Victorian and Pulp literature historian, Jess Nevins. The article was entitled “The All-Aces Squad,” and the premise of the article was that The Invaders, and its predecessor team, the All-Winner’s Squad, were based on “real” individuals that Stan Lee, Timely Comics’ Editor-in-Chief, had heard about while he was a playwright for the U.S. Army. In the article, Nevins identified the “real” members behind the All-Winner’s Squad/Invaders myth, and kept referring to the Wold Newton Family.

Curiosity got the better of me, I typed ‘Wold Newton Family’ into the AOL search engine, and I saw numerous websites that talked about the Wold Newton meteor event of December 13, 1795. The foremost website being Win Scott Eckert’s Wold Newton Universe website, a website dedicated to  expanding the Wold Newton Family concept developed by a writer by the name of Philip Jose’ Farmer, who wrote about it in two fictional biographies: Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography of Lord Greystoke (1972), and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (1973).

The premise of the Wold Newton Family is that on December 13, 1795, a meteor fell in the in a wheat field in the town of Wold Newton, East Riding, Yorkshire, England, and that within a ten-foot radius of the impact zone, there were two coaches carrying a total of fourteen passengers, and four coachmen. This party had several individuals who were written about in the popular literature at that time such as Percy Blakeney, also known as the Scarlett Pimpernel, Fitzwilliam Darcy and his wife, the former Elizabeth Bennett, and the ancestors of the literary figures in popular fiction at the turn of the last century such as Sherlock Holmes, Arsene Lupin, Fu Manchu, Hugo Drummond, Sexton Blake, George Challenger, The Time Traveler, Tarzan, Doc Savage, etc.

The thing is, these eighteen individuals were exposed to the “ionizing” radiation that emitted from the meteor. I put the nature of the radiation in quotation because I believe that there is more to the meteor than meets the eye. Furthermore, I do not believe that what the meteor emitted cannot be considered radiological, and definitely not “ionizing”. I am one a very few who share this belief. One of whom is Dr. Arthur “Art” Sippo, M.D. Nevertheless, the meteor affected the genetic structures of those exposed, and due to intermarriages with the group, as well as other relationships, descendants were born who were slightly more than human.

DF: What is the fascination that the Wold Newton Universe has for you?

LG: The biggest attraction I have to the Wold Newton Family/Universe concept is the conceit that most literary figures are based on actual people who lived, or are alive in our “real” world. Therefore, using this concept, Doc Savage is based on Dr. James Clarke Wildman, Jr., who is the son of Dr. James Clark Wildman, Sr. who was fictionalized as a young man in the character of “James Wilder” in the Sherlock Holmes story, “The Adventure of the Priory School,” and as an older man, as the character “Daniel Hardin,” in Philip Wylie’s proto-Superman pulp novel, “Gladiator.” It also made the “real” world appear more fascinating than it actually is. Ironically, the Wold Newton concept has inadvertently caused me to delve into other literature, which has broadened my literary horizons. Because without it, I never would have read a novel by Jane Austen. It wasn’t going to happen. Philip Jose’ Farmer changed my mindset. And, for that alone, I am indebted to him.

DF: Do you subscribe to the Tommy Westphall Theory?

LG: No. I look at Pulp literature, Classic Pulp in particular, as being stories based on something that may have happened, or could have happened, if the conditions were right for it during the periods in time in which the stories are published, or set. The Tommy Westphall Universe Hypothesis is both a genius concept, as well as a cop out, in my opinion. Because it shattered the Fourth Wall of storytelling, and caused the viewer to feel that they shouldn’t have invested their time and thoughts in the lives of the characters from St. Elsewhere. 

Personally, I think that the writers just ran out of steam. It was similar to what happened in the television series, Dallas, when Pamela Ewing woke up to find Bobby Ewing alive; after all season seeing her, and the rest of Ewing family, deal with Bobby’s death. You can’t mess with fans like that, and think there won’t be consequences. If you are dealing with exposing the viewer, or the reader, to the fact that the world you are immersed in is not “real”, then it needs to be explained at the beginning of the story, or people will not understand. That’s what made the Matrix film trilogy successful. The first Matrix film established that everything we see is an illusion. Therefore, when things started to look a little bizarre in the “real” world of the Matrix, such as towards the end of Matrix Reloaded, the viewers have that concept to anchor them.

DF: Do you have any ambitions of being a writer? If so, are you working on anything right now?

LG: Yes, I do aspire to become a published writer. I’m working on an outline project for a book about Steampunk-era werewolves set in turn of the 20th century Atlanta, Georgia. The plot revolves around a family of southern Black werewolves who are bred by a certain well-known Victorian literary mad scientist to be ferocious slave catchers before the Civil War. However, this family used their abilities to liberate plantations throughout Georgia and to form “Free Towns” that are patrolled night and day by them. The story starts with the grandchildren of the patriarch who was given the serum by the doctor while in utero in the 1830’s. In fact, the patriarch of the family was born on November 11, 1831, the day Nat Turner is executed in Virginia for his attempted slave uprising earlier that year. I take elements from Philip Wylie’s novel, “Gladiator,” and postulate that there may have been induced superhuman programs, independently funded, and conducted, for nearly a century prior to the First World War.

DF: What’s a typical Day In The Life of Lucas Garrett like?

LG: Working mostly. I work an eight-hour shift from 2:00 PM to 10:00 PM for five days, and the two days I am off, I read for research purposes to help me craft my outlines. I take short breaks, play with my dog, exercise, and I get on Facebook to see what is going on in the Forum groups I’m involved in. And from time to time, I go on dates. Nothing serious. That’s it.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we need to know about Lucas Garrett?

Lucas Garrett: Not at this time. Thank you very much for allowing me the opportunity to share my interest in Pulp literature

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...BERTRAM GIBBS

DF: Who is Bertram Gibbs? Bertram Gibbs: Husband, father, film, comic book, television, Broadway collector and enthusiast. Researcher of ...