Did I Hear Somebody Say…Crossover?

The following was planned to be the prolog of a Dillon novel.  However, given that the characters used in this are all firmly under copyright I quickly realized the impracticality of using such a scene in my story.  However I felt it didn’t deserve to never be seen and since we’re all friends here and I don’t think anybody will turn me in to the Copyright Police….enjoy

1947

An Island Off The Coast of Spain

            The explosions destroying the massive underground complex shook the very bedrock of the small island some fifty miles off the coast of Spain.  The explosions were not as bone-jangling as the earlier ones had been, but the cache of weapons and other nerve gases and other more exotic and even more lethal instruments of death that had been secreted in vaults underneath the extensive complex absolutely had to be destroyed and none of the people who had participated in the exhaustive and horrendous battle of the previous night could take the chance that any would be left to be used against the innocents of the world.

            A man stood on a high hill overlooking the sight of an ancient castle burning to the ground.  An average sized man, he was garbed all in gunmetal gray with a holster strapped to his right thigh that held his only weapons: a long barreled .22 revolver and a slim, sharp stiletto.  The man’s face was very pale and strangely immobile as if it were not a face of flesh, but of wonderfully carven marble.  And while his hair was thick and virile, it was also the color of the purest snow.  Even standing in quiet repose as he was doing now, he had an aura of quiet, controlled power.

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            He did not turn as he heard another man come up behind him. The man in gray could identify people by their very step as easily as could by looking at their face and he knew this was a friend and not a foe.  This man was a foot and a half taller, dressed in khaki pants, shirt and a battered, dusty leather jacket with a worn brown fedora pushed back on his head, allowing a cowlick of straight brown hair to fall over his forehead. A three-day stubble of beard covered the lower half of his ruggedly handsome face and he looked as if he’d been fighting in a pit full of alligators.  Considering the horrors he had been fighting the past night, a pit of alligators would have been welcome.  A holstered Webley .455 revolver and a well-used ten-foot long bullwhip dangled from his belt.

            “Benson!”

            The man in gray turned.  “How did the final sweep of the island go, Dr. Jones?’

            “We’re good.  Your people have rounded up the last of the Society’s grunt troops and they’ve secured the boats and planes.  Savage’s crew is setting the last of the explosive charges and handling the extra transport to take them to the States.”  Indiana Jones adjusted his fedora as he stood next to the man in gray.  “One hell of a night, I’ll tell you.”

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            “So much death and destruction,” the man in gray murmured.  His pale lips barely moved as yet another explosion collapsed the south wall of the castle and it crashed into rubble, throwing a huge plume of belching flame into the dawning sky.

            “Had to be done, Benson,” Indiana grunted, removing something from the leather satchel he had slung over a shoulder.  He held it up to the light and it glittered and glowed in the light of the flames.  “If The Society Of Seven had went ahead with the plans they had for THIS…well, who knows how much hell they would have caused on Earth…and this poor world has had enough the past eight years…we’re just coming out of a World War…the last thing anybody needs in a bunch of lunatics running around trying to manipulate governments.”

            The object the archeologist held was a necklace of a thousand tear shaped rubies interwoven in a delicate web of gold, silver and platinum threads.  The light reflected from the rubies was breathtaking in its loveliness.  The rubies were of various sizes with the smallest being no larger than a fingernail and the largest maybe an inch in diameter.  “I know how you feel about killing, Benson, but there was no way we could have let The Society Of Seven keep The Tears Of Blood and they weren’t about to give it up without a fight to the death.  They called they terms of this war.  We didn’t.”

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 “Dr. Jones is right, Richard.”  Another man strode up the hill to join them.  He was the most physically impressive of the trio.  Standing an easy six foot six, his skin was tanned a golden bronze by tropical suns.  His eyes were a piercing gold that radiated intelligence.  He was dressed in riding jodhpurs and his khaki shirt was ripped to shreds, displaying an incredible musculature that bordered on the superhuman.  Just looking at him inspired a sense of awe because he gave off an air of command and power that few men on earth possessed.  His golden hair was cut short and came to a widow’s peak in the middle of his high forehead.  But his face was wrinkled and lined with an age beyond his actual years.  He was a man who had fought the forces of evil far longer than both of his companions.  He had looked into the very mouth of Hell during his long campaign to vanquish evil.  And while his resolve to continue the fight had not withered one iota, even he had been shaken by the monstrous plans of the organization he and his companions had smashed this night.

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            The bronze man continued speaking in a vibrant, resonant voice; “We’ve all had dealings with The Society of Seven on a individual basis.  Dr. Jones first encountered them in Malaysia back in 1935.  You battled them in New York in the same year.  I’ve dealt with several of their agents even though I was not aware of the existence of the organization until I ran up against John Sunlight and even The Society disavowed him once they realized how truly mad he was.  And as for The Shadow—“

            “I have known of The Society of Seven for more years than you can know, Dr. Savage.”

            The voice that interrupted Clark Savage, Jr. was low and throbbing.  It was the voice of a fanatic.  A voice that carried power and purpose and it belonged to the last of this strange grouping.  A man who suddenly seemed to just…appear next to Indiana Jones, making the archeologist reach for his holstered revolver before he realized whom it was and relaxed.

            “That’s a helluva good way for you to get yourself killed, spooky,” Indianagrowled.

            The new arrival laughed and each of his three companions involuntarily shivered.  They were all brave men and had faced more of their share of danger and evil…but that LAUGH…it was a laugh that could only belong to The Shadow and each of the three men had come to realize something during this mission…while they were each unique in their own way, The Shadow was something beyond human.

            His midnight black ankle length coat flapped in the sudden wind that sprung up, seemingly with his arrival. A blood red scarf covered the lower half of his face and all that could be seen was his hawkish nose and the pair of piercing, colorless eyes that glittered with inhuman will and purpose.  A midnight black broad brimmed slouch hat was pulled low over his forehead.  A large pair of .45 automatics were held in his gloved fists, still smoking from his night’s grim and bloody work.

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            “We have done well, gentlemen,” The Shadow said in that tombstone voice of his…a voice that seemed to come from the bowels of a dark and deadly soul.  “The Society Of Seven has at last been crushed.  Save for a few strays that I shall meet vengeance to shortly.”

            “No you won’t.”

            The Shadow turned his glittering eyes on the man in gray.  “The weed of crime must not be allowed to take fresh root, Benson.  Trust me when I say that if we do not eradicate every last member of The Society Of Seven, they will rise again.  And they will flourish.”

            Richard Henry Benson turned to look at The Shadow, his pale, icy eyes burning with a fire that easily matched The Shadow’s.  “We all agreed to this partnership because we realized that we were accomplishing nothing fighting The Society on its own terms.  We were only eliminating its arms and never the brains.  We’ve even put aside some of our most cherished morals to accomplish this. But we’ve done our job.  It’s time to say enough.”

            The Shadow chuckled.  “And you call yourself The Avenger?”

            “And I have avenged.  And it is enough.”

            The bronze man stepped between The Shadow and The Avenger.  “Richard is right, Shadow.  We’ve broken the back of The Society of Seven.  We’ve got nearly five hundred of their agents and soldiers that I’ll be more than happy to send to my college for rehabilitation.  We have The Tears of Blood.  This is over.”

            The Shadow fixed Indiana Jones with his basilisk stare.  “And your opinion, Dr. Jones?”

            Indiana held up The Tears of Blood.  “I’ve got what I came for and I’ve helped save the world.  I’m satisfied.  You guys are the do-gooders.  Do what you want.  I’m done.”

            The Shadow’s voice was low and dangerous as he rasped, “Surely you do not think that we will allow you to retain possession of The Tears of Blood so that they will fall into some other evil hands?”

            Indiana’s hand dropped to his bullwhip.  “I’ve seen you do a few things, spooky.  But I’ve got a couple of tricks up my sleeve as well.  And I came along with you on this with the firm understanding that I was acting as an agent of the United States government to secure The Tears of Blood for scientific and archeological study and research.  You agreed to that.  Try and change the rules in the middle of the game and you’re gonna see just how spooky I can get.”

            “You’ve got your agreement, Dr. Jones and The Shadow will honor it.  Or he’ll have to deal with me.”  Doc Savage said with finality staring at The Shadow.  Colorless eyes locked with golden eyes for a long minute.

            The Shadow raised his .45’s.

            And thrust them into the oiled holsters under his armpits.  “You are honorable men and worthy allies.  I have trusted each of you with my life this past night and I would do so again.  I will trust you on this.”

            Doc Savage nodded and turned back to Indiana.  “You’ll be coming with my aides and me, Dr. Jones.  We’ll make sure you get to Washington with The Tears of Blood.  Shadow—“

            The Shadow was gone.

            Indiana shook his head.  “Damned if I can figure out how he does that.  I never took my eyes off him.”

            The Avenger shrugged.  “I’m of the opinion that he was never really here.”

            The three men watched as the last of The Society of Seven’s stronghold burned to the ground.

            “What have we really accomplished here tonight, Clark?”  Benson asked quietly.  “The lives that were lost…all this destruction…will it mean anything if The Society of Seven comes back?”

            Doc Savage laid a hand on The Avenger’s shoulder as he said; “And if they do, there will be other men who will take up our struggle and do their part, Richard.  They will fight and struggle and yes, they will die if necessary to make this a peaceful world.  And that is all we can hope for.”

            “Amen to that, brother,” Indiana Jones said feelingly and the three of them watched as the stronghold of The Society of Seven burned to the ground.

Dispatches From Windy City #2

Tumbling through a thousand centuries

You don’t know where you’ll land

It’s so dark in mythology

Treasures of history to be found

Near the legends of time

All the handiworks remain there

Only a dream away

Those are lyrics from “Dream Away” The theme song to TIME BANDITS, one of my favorite movies of all time and they occurred to me because of the conversation I had this morning over breakfast with Ron Fortier and Rob Davis.

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Oh, we talked of many things. Of family, of our craft, of movies…and if you ever invite Rob Davis to your house, please watch YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN with him, okay? I’ll let him tell you why.

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But then we started talking about the art and craft of storytelling. And I told Ron and Rob my theory that if aliens ever did visit us it would be because they would be fascinated by the fact that we humans are a Race of Storytellers.

Think about it. You come home at the end of a long hard day from work or school or whatever. You sit down to dinner with your family and you say to them; “Tell me about your day.”

And then they tell you a story.

Because it is now a story because they have had time to think about it, to process it through their emotional and intellectual matrixes. It isn’t events as it actually happened.

It is A STORY.

And if there is any gift that we have as The Human Race is that we know how to tell A STORY.

Which is what a lot of today was about. I had breakfast with Ron and Rob and we told stories. Then we went to the venue and met up with Tommy Hancock and Aubrey Stephens and we told more stories. Then I met Gordon Dymowski and even more stories were shared. Gordon and I had a really good conversation about how much the subconscious plays in the creative process. Don’t sleep on this guy. I learned a LOT speaking to him in just fifteen minutes than I do in three hours with other folks.

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We’re having a good time and I hope you are as well. Tonight, it’s dinner at Fuddruckers, the New Pulp Awards and then the drinking and whoring.

Wait…scratch that last part.

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And here’s a picture of Aubry Stephens along with a link to the video of Blues Traveler singing “Hook” for no other reason than every time I see Aubry, this song plays in my Personal Soundtrack:

 

 

Dispatches From Windy City #1

Whenever I’ve talked about trips I’ve taken in the past (especially to Florida) you’ve usually heard me talk about driving down there. And driving is usually how I do travel. I’ve driven down to Florida and back to Brooklyn at least a dozen times. Which has led some people to think that I don’t like to fly or am scared to fly. Actually, I’m not. I’ve flown many times in the past. Flying’s cool. I just prefer driving because I like to take my time to get to where I’m going and I like to run on my own schedule. I start taking planes and bam! everything is out of my hands. I gotta be here at this time and I gotta do this and I gotta do that. All of a sudden, it’s as if all the fun has gone out of travelling because now it’s more about meeting schedules that others have set for me rather than me just jumping in my car and going wherever I please and doing whatever I want.

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So why did I jump on a plane and come to Chicago for the 2019 Windy City Pulp & Paper Convention?

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Simple. I thought it would be fun and there were people here I hadn’t seen in awhile and I wanted to see again.

Such as Ron Fortier and Rob Davis, the Captain and Chief Engineer of Airship 27. I haven’t seen these cats since the first Pulp Ark many moons ago and it was high time I hung out with them again.

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And I never pass up a chance to harass Tommy Hancock. I’ve been doing it for twenty years. Why should I stop now?

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And doubtless there are many more people I will resume an acquaintance with here and those I will meet for the first time. And that’s really what it’s about, isn’t it? Or at least it should be. It most certainly is for me. Making connections. Meeting new people. Renewing friendships with fellow writers, colleagues and enthusiasts of Pulp, be it Classic or New.  Talking about the things we love in Pulp and how we can make it better and how we can expand the audience and share it with the world.

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I’ll be here in Chicago at the Windy City Pulp & Paper Convention this weekend so get used to seeing these dispatches for the next couple of days. Like those war correspondents you see in those old Black & White WWII movies who went out on the front lines during the day and then at night filed stories about what they had heard and seen? Yeah, this will be kinda like that. You guys know how I be.

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Tommy and I have already talked about major Dillon and Fortune McCall stuff. Ron and Tommy are going to be making major announcements tomorrow as Friday is the actual day this shindig starts. We just got here early because there’s a whole LOT of stuff that has to go on behind the scenes before the jump-off jumps off. I may even do a Facebook Live from the floor of the convention. Anything to show you guys how much fun we’re having.

We haven’t even really gotten started yet and we’re already having a ball.

Watch this space.

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Kickin’ The Willy Bobo With…SEAN TAYLOR

Derrick Ferguson: Who is Sean Taylor?

Sean Taylor: He’s just a man whose circumstances got beyond his control, beyond his control. I’m Kilroy. Okay, maybe not.

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I’ll drop the official bio instead:

Sean Taylor is an award-winning writer of stories. He grew up telling lies, and he got pretty good at it, so now he writes them into full-blown adventures for comic books, graphic novels, magazines, book anthologies and novels. He makes stuff up for money, and he writes it down for fun. He’s a lucky fellow that way.

He’s best known for his work on the best-selling Gene Simmons Dominatrix comic book series from IDW Publishing and Simmons Comics Group. He has also written comics for TV properties such as the top-rated Oxygen Network series The Bad Girls Club. His other forays into fiction include such realms as steampunk, pulp, young adult, fantasy, super heroes, sci-fi, and even samurai frogs on horseback (seriously, don’t laugh). However, his favorite contribution to the world will be as the writer/editor who invented the genre and coined the term “Hookerpunk.”

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For more information (and mug shots) visit www.taylorverse.com and his writer’s blog at www.badgirlsgoodguys.com.

DF: What do you do to keep the creditors away?

ST: I’ve been everything from a corporate media strategist to a local newspaper editor, and I’ve written comics and short stories and even a novel thus far, but for the day job at the moment, I edit for several places as a freelancers/contractor to keep the bills paid. It’s a dirty job, as they say, but someone’s got to love it.

DF: How long have you been writing and what have you learned about yourself through your writing?

ST: My first magazine article was in 1991, a marketing article about doing a summer reading display for a bookstores to highlight summer book sales. It was a hit, and I kept doing it. My first short story was publishing in 1995 in O’ Georgia: A Collection of Georgia’s Newest and Most Promising Writers, and I caught the bug and haven’t stopped yet.

What have I learned? Well, I’ve learned how to survive close to the poverty line, that’s for sure. Writing and editing is one of those comes and goes industries, and in an economy as volatile as the U.S. one has been during the years I’ve been a writer and editor, it’s bounced up and down several time. But what I learned from all that is that writing is something I make time to do whether or not it’s paying the bills. It’s more a calling than a career choice.

DF: What Next Big Project are you working on now?

ST: My current projects are a few short stories I have to knock out in order to get to the Next Big Project. I’ve got a Golden Amazon, Phantom Detective, and Secret Agent X story for Moonstone, then a novella for my Spy Candy property at Pro Se. After that, I’ll finally be free to get back on my Armless O’Neil novel for the Pulp Obscura line. That one’s going to be so much fun. I love Armless so hard. He’s more fun to write than just about any characters I know. I’m also in the process of releasing a book of essays on writing and reading, along the lines of the kind of articles I write for my blog. I did mention my blog, right? Bad Girls, Good Guys, and Two-Fisted Action. (www.badgirlsgoodguys.com)

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DF: What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Sean Taylor?

ST: That’s a tough one because I have my hands in so many writing pies. On the one hand, I write a lot, a big whole lot, of New Pulp tales. Then I also can’t quite pull myself away from horror. And I got my start in lit fiction and super-hero prose. Ultimately, I guess, I’m writing for an audience that likes a sense of adventure and wonder to go along with interesting characters. I think somewhere deep inside me is a magical realism writer who likes to paint the edges of my work with extraordinary stuff from time to time.

DF: What is the one book or story of yours you would recommend to somebody to start with who is not familiar with your work? And why that particular book or story?

ST: Ouch. Which child will best show off my Roman nose? Hmmm… I suppose the truest picture of who I am comes through the stories in Show Me A Hero, my collection of super-hero tales from Cyber Age Adventures/iHero Entertainment. But if you want to see the newer me, you’ll need to read The Ruby Files. That one really hits on all cylinders of who I am too. A little bit of lit (that holds on doggedly), and a lot of action and character, with a bit of mischief in taking the truth of history (racism, sexism) and dragging it into the light to try to make a point about today too.

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DF: How much room in your head do you allow critics and criticism to occupy?

ST: Just what is needed. You take the good, you take the bad, you take ’em both and then you have… Well, not The Facts of Life, but something you can use to improve. If it doesn’t help me improve my work, then there’s no room for it up in my head.

DF: This has been a good year for Rick Ruby. Tell us the origins of the character.

ST: Good ol’ Rick Ruby came about when I suckerpunched Bobby Nash in The Pulp Factory Yahoo Group list. We had talked about a Richard Diamond anthology very vaguely, and then the idea of taking that idea, tweaking the hell out of it, and making it all ours hit me one day, and suddenly I posted in the group, dragging Bobby into my madness, and like the wonderful partner in crime (and writing) he is, he just ran with it.

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Jump forward a few weeks or so, when he and I are in a Golden Corral, putting together a story bible for the character. Between bites of steak and chicken, we talking about bloody murders and bad guys and stealing diamonds and putting meat on Ruby’s back-story. To say that the other patrons looked at us funny would be an understatement.

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When we fleshed him out, we knew most of all that even though folks like Spade and Diamond and even Hammer were our starting point, we wanted something different. And that’s where the idea of a white man in two worlds, the black, other side of the tracks, world and rich white uppercrust world of the ’30s, came from. We wanted a man who was a sort of pure-hearted louse because the world didn’t give him any other options.

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DF: What else have you got planned for Rick Ruby? Comic books? Graphic Novels? TV show?

ST: At this point we’re just riding the wave with our three (yes, that’s right—THREE) Pulp Factory Awards for The Ruby Files Vol. 2. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have some awesome plans for Rick and his cast. For starters, we’re working on Vol. 3 for a release date early next year, and you’re going to be a big part of that one, which I can’t wait to read. After that, there will be a Rick Ruby novel, and then even further out, we’ll get into Rick’s legacy when I write the adventures of his grandson in something tentatively titled The Ruby Legacy.

I’d love to see comics and TV, but baby steps, Bill Murray, baby steps.

 

DF: What are your thoughts on where New Pulp is at today?

ST: I just wrote an essay on this for my upcoming book Giddy and Euphoric: Essays on Writing and Reading (And Ray Bradbury). I think New Pulp is in a pretty enviable spot right now. Now that it’s outgrown its source material and can play with style instead of just characters or settings, New Pulp is literally being made and remade every day.

We have the freedom to tell new stories about nostalgic characters and legacy characters we can add to their stories. We have the freedom to create new characters that share their type and tone. And we have the freedom to simply use the style of those stories to create something even more new and original than either of those.

In a lot of ways we New Pulp writers are just laying claim to the summer reading adventure or crime novel and taking them back home to the stuff that influenced them in the first place. Only we doing it with bigger settings, more varied characters, and lots more panache.

DF: Is New Pulp going anywhere? If so, where is it going? If not, why isn’t it?

ST: Man, I really hope so. I think it’s probably becoming more broad in its definition, like I hinted it above. One publisher has even already embraced the term “Genre” rather than “New Pulp” for its catalog, and I think that’s probably a good thing. I have no problem with New Pulp being more a movement than a genre, because it’s about tone and style and influence than it is about a marketing term or creating a new section in the local Barnes & Noble.

DF: In what direction do you think your work is going?

ST: Make that “in what directions” do I think my work is going, because I’m always moving in about three different directions.

I’m pretty sure at this point that my stories are settling into one of two camps: pulpy tales and horror stories. In my pulp stuff I’m starting to move mainly into just novels and will be weaning myself away from the short stories, except in a few, rare cases. As for my horror work, that’s going to always be short stories. There’s very little I enjoy writing more than horror short stories. That’s an art form I’ll never be able to leave behind.

DF: Netflix calls you up and says they’re going to spend fifty million to turn one of your books into a twelve-episode series. They’ll let you pick the book and one director for all twelve episodes. Which book and which director?

ST: As much as I’d love to see a Fishnet Angel series based on my iHero Entertainment/Cyber Age Adventures tales and the Shooting Star Comics comic book, I think at this point, I’d still have to zero on in Rick Ruby. I think an ongoing series with an underlying C-plot (a la Longmire) would be something that could really make Ruby a hit visually. Besides, I like very few things more than a good period piece on TV.

DF: What’s a typical Day in The Life of Sean Taylor like?

ST: As the old saying goes: Shit, Shower, and Shave, only often without all that pesky shaving nonsense. I’m a contract editor by trade right now, so if there’s work in my inbox, I’m off to the Grayson Coffee House to put lots of red marks all over the pages I’ve been sent. If I have that rare day off, I’ll usually be writing at either the coffee house or my home office. Wash, rinse, and repeat, with occasional Netflix, Amazon, or anime binges thrown in for relaxation.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know?

Sean Taylor: I once had to break a date because I fell down an elevator shaft, and no, she didn’t believe me either. Which was a bummer. She was cute.

I lost a job one because of a pair of thong. Long story, but it involved Cafepress, a requested item for a friend, and a national religious organization. And a friend in my corner who wished he had a baseball bat at the time. But everything’s good now.

I have two new books coming out pretty soon.

One will be a collection of essays about the art and craft of writing and reading— Giddy and Euphoric: Essays on Writing and Reading (And Ray Bradbury). Anyone who follows my work will know how much I love to pontificate about the craft. What can I say? I’m a wordy fellow.

The other will be a collection of horror stories I’ve written, and it’ll be called A Crowd in Babylon and Other Dark Tales. I’m really looking forward to that one too because, like I said earlier, I love horror stories, and done right, I don’t think there’s a much better American art form. It’s the jazz of genre stories, I think.

Interested? Then check out Sean’s other books HERE.

Literary Pulp: Why It Makes Sense and How To Write It

“Just because a section in the bookstore is called literary fiction doesn’t mean the books there are better than everything (or even anything) else in the rest of the store. Nor does it mean it’s intrinsically good at all. Literary fiction is based on a set of rules for storytelling just like genre fiction is based on a set of rules for storytelling just like comic book writing is based on a set of rules for storytelling just like… Well, you get the point.”

Featuring Derrick FergusonPerry Constantine, and Barry Reese.

Bounce on over to The Writing Blog of Sean Taylor for the full story

 

Literary Pulp—Why It Makes Sense and How To Write It

Three Examples of New Pulp TODAY

I’m gonna start this off with trying to explain to 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 as a style of writing…

…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!”

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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.

 

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Because much as you would like to think otherwise, labelling does have its place. And my feeling is that 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. Ready? Okay:

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.

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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 an extended movie broken up into chapter plays which enjoyed their major popularity during 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 think 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. You can read my review of Hudson Hawk here at The Ferguson Theater.

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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 four 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.

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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.

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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”

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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 or how Person of Interest is in a lot of ways like The Shadow…we’ll leave that for next time…