ROSE STATE SHORT COURSE ON WRITING

I’m proud to call Bill Bernhardt a friend, and not just because he’s a New York Times bestselling author who’s entertained hundreds of thousands of people with his Ben Kincaid novels and other work. It’s also because he’s been so consistently kind to me and what I laughingly refer to as my career over our many years of friendship.
Back in 1999, when Bill decided to start his own imprint, HAWK Publishing Group, he chose to reprint the debut novel from Ron Wolfe and me, OLD FEARS, as one of the first three books that launched the company. Over the next decade or so, HAWK published a ton of my stuff and bought a lot of groceries for my family.
In 2009, Bill dedicated his novel NEMESIS: THE FINAL CASE OF ELIOT NESS to me. (I was able to reciprocate by dedicating my 2011 bio, WES CRAVEN: THE MAN AND HIS NIGHTMARES, to Bill.)
And now, he’s designated me Oklahoma Author of the Year. To paraphrase a good old line from radio writer Goodman Ace, I don’t deserve it — but then again, I’ve got diverticulitis, and I don’t deserve that, either.
The award is a small part of the latest Rose State College Short Course on Writing, set for Sept. 19-21 at the Rose State College campus in Midwest City, OK. Bill’s the man behind it all, and he and I will be joined by about 30 more writers, editors, agents, and other publishing-industry figures, including Guest of Honor Jacqueline Mitchard, whose DEEP END OF THE OCEAN was the very first Oprah Book Club selection.
Those who’d like more information on the course can find what they need at www.rose.edu/shortcourse. I’ve been privileged to speak at several of these events, and I can tell you that Bill and his faculty deliver the stuff that writers need to know. I’ll even try to make my own little contribution, based on my 35 years in the writing game.
If you’re interested in writing, I hope to see you there.
And, seriously Bill — thanks.

ALLEY OOP

Once again, Jack and Carole Bender, my good friends who write and draw the daily Alley Oop comic strip, are using a plot synopsis of mine. Of course, I couldn’t be happier nor more grateful.
This time around, I’m especially delighted because I got to work in one of my favorite milieus: 1940’s Poverty Row Hollywood. And the Benders indulged me enough to let me slip in a number of references to my all-time favorite pulp-magazine detective, Dan Turner. In fact, this story could almost be considered a Dan Turner-Alley Oop team-up (even if the Hollywood detective in the strip is named, ahem, Bob Leslie.)
Pulp fans will spot other references to Dan Turner’s world in this current Oop adventure — now playing in hundreds and hundreds of newspapers, as well as at gocomics.com on the Internet — and fans of the classic Tulsa Sound will catch a couple of surnames that are affectionate nods to two of the greatest rock ’n’ roll drummers to ever come out of that town.
At this writing, the adventure’s been going on for a couple of weeks, and there’s lots of story to go. At gocomics.com, you can navigate back to the beginning, if you so choose, and read the strips sequentially until you catch up.
Again, big thanks to the Benders for bringing me aboard on this one, and thanks to you for checking it out!image

HIDDEN SIXTIES SUMMER SPECIAL

It’s taken half a year, but there’s a new Hidden Sixties special coming your way from Public Radio Tulsa this July 4th.
Featuring songs that you may not have heard since the 1960s, if you’ve heard them at all, the Hidden Sixties Summer Special follows — albeit very slowly — on the heels of the Hidden Sixties Holiday Special, which aired during the 2013 Yuletide season.  Once again, Scott Gregory (host of Public Radio Tulsa’s All This Jazz) and John Wooley (host of the same station’s Swing on This) combine to present an hour of ‘60s rock, jazz, and pop for which the adjectives “obscure” and “underplayed” may be too mild.
We’ve got sitars. We’ve got starlets. We’ve even got a senator. And we’ve got some star-spangled flag wavers in honor of our air date on the Fourth of July.
So, if you’re going to be around a radio or computer on Independence Day between eight and nine p.m., Tulsa time, and you’re an adventurous listener, may I humbly suggest you tune in? In the Tulsa area, we’re at 89.5 on the FM dial. Every place else in the known universe, we can be accessed absolutely free atpublicradiotulsa.org on the World Wide Web.

WINDY CITY PULP AND PAPERBACK CONVENTION

I hope to see a few like-minded fans of good old escapist literature in Chicago at the Windy City Pulp and Paperback Convention, which runs from April 25th through the 27th. It’s a terrific convention full of, well, people who read, and tons of great reading material for sale, along with art (both for sale and on exhibit) and a film room run by Blood and Thunder publisher Ed Hulse who stocks it with pulp-related movies, many of them wonderfully obscure. (A year or two ago, for instance, I took in PRC’s Lady in the Death House there; an hour and change well-spent.)

On Saturday, Windy City’s head mukluk, Doug Ellis, has me moderating a panel on the legendary Black Mask pulp that features pulp scholars and writers like Robert Weinberg, Digges LaTouche, and the aforementioned Ed Hulse. Like Minnie Pearl used to say, I’m just proud to be there.

Plus, I’ll have a few copies of Hard Boiled Christmas Stories, now headed for a third printing, that I’ll be happy to part with for the cover price of 15 frogskins, in the autographed or rare un-autographed versions. Get ‘em while they last.

Vinyl Brunch

Vinyl    Sunday, March 30, I’ll be joining my dj son Steven for the Vinyl Brunch, an event put on by the Tulsa Vinyl Society at the Chimera Cafe, 212 N. Main Street in Tulsa. As the guest dj that day, he’ll be spinning “electronic to Americana,” he says, during his time at the turntables. Steven is scheduled to start at noon and go until four p.m.; somewhere in there, probably around 2 p.m., I’ll wag in a stack of LPs and inflict about an hour’s worth of my favorite tracks on the crowd.
    No western swing this time around — tune into my show Swing on This every Saturday at 7 p.m. on Public Radio Tulsa 89.5 FM or www.kwgs.org for that — but lots of ’60s and early stuff, from Moby Grape to the Midnight String Quartet, Lola Albright to the Kinks, Michael Nesmith to 101 Strings. It’ll all be pretty mellow, and probably a little odd — not unlike the Hidden Sixties Holiday Special Scott Gregory and I did last December on the abovementioned Public Radio Tulsa, only with a little more organ music.
    I’m sure I’ll be whatever the opposite of too hip for the room is, but I’m happy to be doing it anyway, especially in what Steven describes as a very laid-back atmosphere at a venue that serves excellent food and drink. So join my younger son and me and a roomful of other vinyl lovers as we share our stacks of licorice pizzas. I think we’re going to have some fun.

JOEY JUMPS IN

A confession: I’ve needed help for a long time. Anyone could see it — anyone, that is, who exposed him- or herself to my pitiful efforts at maintaining a website, blogging, tweeting, navigating Facebook (never mind actually responding to questions and comments), and generally becoming even a tiny part of the whole social media scene. I’ve been about as hip to the blogosphere as your average Belle Epoque Apache. (Go ahead, kids, look it up. It’s easy with Google. I’ll wait.)
At the same time, a whole slew of far more savvy people were telling me that I needed to have some sort of internet presence in this day and age if I wanted to continue selling books, which I’ve long seen as a keen idea, although it’s usually worked better for me in theory than in practice.
Time was, you wrote something, you or your agent tried to get a publisher to bite on it, and then you got a check for an advance against your royalties and, if you were lucky, earned back those royalties and continued to get a little mailbox money now and again. As much as I’d like it to still be that way, it’s not, and I finally realized I’d better just suck it up and join the 21st Century.
But how was I going to do that? Hopelessly clueless, I realized I’d have to turn it over to someone I trusted, someone who knew what I (along with what I laughingly refer to as my career) was all about, someone whose own work I admired.
So let me introduce to you my new social media director, Joey Hambrick.
I’ve known Joey for almost two decades now, and in fact, I may have been partially responsible for his interest in filmmaking by showing him the shot-in-Tulsa feature Vigilante Blood during his formative years. He and my son Jonathan went on to do several projects together, notably the Witch Cop shorts, which took top honors in the first VCI Entertainment Short Film Contest, fantasy category, and second place at the Oklahoma State University Reel Film Festival.  On his own, Joey’s done some pretty outstanding music-video work and continues to explore motion-picture opportunities.
He and I also delight in visiting together the twilight world of ultra-obscure movies and forgotten B-pictures, which of course makes him perfect for this particular gig.
As of this writing, Joey is running all my social media — Facebook, Twitter, this website, the Reverse Karma Press website, etc. He’s also producing the Forgotten Horrors podcast, which Michael H. Price and I do on a regular basis. And he’s managing to navigate me into at least a rudimentary understanding of what the hell’s going on out there on the Web, which is a little like teaching a chimp to tie-dye.
So if you get a tweet or some other response from me, and it’s in the third person, please don’t think I’ve gone around the bend. (As the old saw goes, referring to yourself in the third person is a sure sign of insanity.) Just know that Joey Hambrick’s on the job.
I couldn’t ask for anyone better

Now that the holidays are in the rear-view mirror, I want to publicly thank everyone who made the Hard-Boiled Christmas Stories signing at Dwelling Spaces in Tulsa such a great evening for John McMahan and me. Big thanks to my pal Mary Beth Babcock and her crackerjack Dwelling Spaces staff, and ditto to Jeff Martin of Book Smart Tulsa, who not only composed and read his own crowd-pleasing tough-guy version of “The Night Before Christmas,” but also served up shots of Old Crow to the delighted crowd, obviously made up of people after our own hearts. We sold dozens of books, talked at length with friends and writers (not to mention friendly writers and writerly friends), did a little bit of low-key lecturing on the hard-boiled genre, and just generally had a swell time. We are grateful.

And since there’s never a bad time to celebrate the season, we remind you that Hard-Boiled Christmas Stories will remain on sale online from here to approximately eternity on the Reverse Karma website, as well as from such high-class pulp purveyors as Adventure House and Mike Chomko Books.
Have a happy hard-boiled new year!

HARD-BOILED CHRISTMAS STORIES!

To those looking for a holiday gift that’s a little off the obvious trails, may I humbly suggest our first offering from Reverse Karma Press, Hard-Boiled Christmas Stories.

Folks, this 10-story collection delivers the goods — gats, gals, and even a little gore, 1930s and ’40s style. My RKP partner, John McMahan, and I — with a little help from our pulp-fiction-loving friends — picked out the best holiday-themed tough-guy stories of the hard-boiled era, and then capped the collection off with a brand-new one of our own, “Santa’s Slay Ride,” the first new Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective tale in some 60 years.

​Whether the person on your Christmas list is a fan of classic pulp literature, a lover of tough-guy movies, or just someone who likes good, swift, exciting reading, Hard-Boiled Christmas Stories will satisfy.

Check out these excerpts from two of our selections:

 

          “Listen,” I said amiably. “I don’t know if anyone every called your attention to it, but Christmas is a period of good will and congeniality.  Whole families gather for reunions.  Enemies forget their hates and buy presents for each other.  The world dedicates itself to joyfulness and cheer.  It’s a period of happiness, of gladness and unselfishness.”

          Allhoff swung around in his swivel chair.  He stared at me over the rim of his coffee cup. There was an unholy expression in his yellow pupils.

           “You’ve left out something,” he said. “It’s also a period when the storekeepers make a fortune by shilling the yokels into buying presents they can’t afford.   When a million morons get drunk and go home to beat their wives.  Christmas is a merry period during which the Nazis will undoubtedly blow thousands of British into little pieces, and give the concentration-camp boys an extra ration of arsenic for breakfast.  When a couple of million people are on relief and fifteen percent of the kids in Georgia have rickets.

            “Christmas!” He concluded with a grating laugh.  “I’m glad you told me about it.”

                       — from “A Corpse for Christmas” by D.L. Champion

 

          They shot round the corner from Ninth, slid to a stop before a row of drab, graystone-front houses, each identical with its neighbor.  The Marquis was out of the car before it stopped, was halfway up the steps of the wrong house before he realized his error and ran down and up again to the doorway whose dingy numerals were on the slip in his hand.  A toothless old hag, bald down the center of her head, was inside the dim-lit hallway, hanging a holly wreath in the grimy glass panel of the doorway.

            She rasped: “Merry Ch – oh pshaw, a copper! Nuts.”

                        – from “Nothing for Christmas” by John Lawrence

 

And how about this one (he says modestly), from the new Dan Turner story I wrote in the style of the great old-time pulpster Robert Leslie Bellem:

 

​​          Santa had me in his sights, his roscoe poised to perforate my giblets.

          ​Technically, that’s not quite correct. I was the party about to be drilled to ell-hay, all right. Not by his gat, though.

          By mine.

          ​They say when you’re about to be croaked, your whole life zips before your eyes like a triple-feature’s worth of flying tintypes. But the scenes pinwheeling through my noggin as I waited for the ka-chee that would mark my exit from this mortal coil didn’t start at the beginning. Instead, my cranial cinema was flashing events from just a few hours ago, when I’d started on the path that ended me up here, ferninst a killer in a red suit and long white beard, whose ho-ho stood for ho-ho-homicide . . .

          ​– from “Santa’s Slay Ride”

 

Other authors include such shining stars of the tough-guy genre as John K. Butler, William G. Bogart, Steve Fisher (of I Wake up Screaming fame) and even Johnston McCulley, creator of Zorro! And to cap it off, there’s a brand-new cover and a couple of interior illustrations by David Saunders, the top-drawer artist and pulp aficionado who comes by his talent naturally – he’s the son of Norman Saunders, one of the best-known cover artists of the pulp-mag era.

​At this writing, the Reverse Karma Press website is very close to being up and running. Until then, you can order Hard-Boiled Christmas Stories from John McMahan at mybckpages@aol.com or from me at this address. The cost is $14.95, plus $2.66 for Media Mail in the United States and by arrangement overseas ($4.90 to Canada, $10 to the United Kingdom and most of Europe). Payment can be made by PayPal. Let us know if you want the book signed and/or personalized; you bet we’re happy to do it.

​        And, by the way, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!hardboiled_christmas_stories

 

Two New Forgotten Horrors Books!

Yes, it’s been a long time since I “blogged,” as the “kids” say. But those who follow my radio show, Swing on This, know that I’ve been keeping up with the weekly playlists, so, despite appearances, this site is not abandoned.

What’s brought me back to write some new material? Well, evidence to the contrary, it’s not the eye-rolling that my webmaster son, Jonathan, does whenever I start talking about the website, giving everyone in the room the expression you’d give if your nutty old aunt started talking about picking up those radio broadcasts in her molars again.

No, the occasion is three new books, one of which I co-wrote, one of which I contributed to, and one I had nothing to do with, except for reading and enjoying it and promising its author I’d pass the word.

The writer is my good friend Will Murray. The book is his new Doc Savage novel, Skull Island. In it, a barely out-of-his-teens Doc joins his father and grandpa, Stormalong Savage, in a great adventure with King Kong on Kong’s own turf. It’s a much younger and far more violent Doc than we pulp fans are used to seeing. Time and again, first with the Bantam mass-market paperback series and now with the trade paperbacks for Altus Press, Will has shown himself to be a worthy successor to Lester Dent and the other Golden Age pulpsters who chronicled Doc’s life and times under the collective house name of Kenneth Robeson.  Writing in the swift and artful style of those grand old fictioneers, Will has crafted a terrific and unusual tale. “Unsettling” isn’t a term you’d normally associate with Doc’s adventures, but you could sure use it here.

And then, thanks to the indefatigable Michael H. Price, there are now two more books in his acclaimed Forgotten Horrors series: Forgotten Horrors 6: Up from the Depths and Forgotten Horrors to the Nth Degree: Dispatches from a Collapsing Genre. Both come courtesy of his publishing house, Cremo Studios, through Amazon’s estore link at https://www.createspace.com/4132897

As is the case with Skull Island, the two books can also be found on amazon.com.

While I’ve been blessed with participation in the Forgotten Horrors series since No. 3 came along, and film historian and writer Jan Alan Henderson has joined the roster as well, these books all bear the unmistakable stamp of Mike Price. He and his late collaborator George Turner began them back in the ‘70s, and Michael has continued to be the guiding intelligence and force behind them ever since George’s death in June of 1999.

Michael does the yeoman’s work on these books. He does the covers and the layouts and the lion’s share of the text. He has the final edit, and even the contributions that Jan and I make are of a piece with his brilliant and often idiosyncratic vision.  He’s a jewel, and, speaking for myself, I’m just happy to be a little part of the setting.

Volume 6 covers the great monster-kid years 1954 through ’57, which saw the death of the horror comics the beginnings of the monster-mag explosion, the first dissemination of Screen Gems’ Shock Theatre TV packages, and the success of such fear factories as American International and Allied Artists.  Staying true to the original Forgotten Horrors concept of covering independent productions, as well as non-horror pictures with horrific elements, Vol. 6 examines such offbeat titles as Girl in Black Stockings and Up in Smoke along with taking fresh looks at the more usual suspects.

Nth Degree, on the other hand, is a kind of a special case, gathering and expanding on the series of “Forgotten Horrors” columns Mike and I did for Fangoria magazine for several years, and adding some essays that I believe are the high point of the book. Michael has a couple of great extended pieces on the martial-arts star Leo Fong and Texas auteur Larry Buchanan, both of them employing the filmmakers’ own words as well as Mike’s insights.  I tried to do the same thing in my “Dave Friedman: My Favorite Johnson” (yes, I know — you’ll understand the title when you see the story), which covers my long association and friendship with this fascinating man and includes a couple of rare photos from Dave’s garage museum, I’m very proud of it, and I’m also deeply proud to be associated with my pal Michael Price’s Forgotten Horrors line.  Collect ‘em all, kids.

 

Hey Kids! Comics!

The very first sale I made as a writer was a comic-book script bought by Warren Publications in 1970 for the sum of exactly twenty-five frogskins. It came out in Eerie No. 32, illustrated by the veteran illustrator Jack Sparling and edited by Archie Goodwin, who I was to find out was one of the truly good guys in the comics biz. I sold a couple more stories to Warren before Viet Nam intervened – I think I was up to fifty dollars with the third one – and when I returned home from active duty the editorial policy had changed, and I couldn’t have sold new editor Bill Dubay a snow cone in hell.

So my comics career, such as it was, didn’t really begin until the black-and-white tidal wave of the late ’80s – and pretty much ended when the seas again flattened and that ship sailed (not to beat a metaphor to death or anything). Like a lot of other comics creators, I ended up amassing a fairly decent body of work during that time – roughly 1986 through 1992 — and went on to other pursuits afterwards.

As I’ve said many times, though, once you get something out there, you never know what’s going to happen to it, and I’m happy to say that two of my favorite projects from those halcyon independent-comics days are back on the market.

     The first is my fanciful pseudo-biography of horror heavyweight Tor Johnson, nicely illustrated by Bruce McCorkindale, which originally appeared under the banner of Monster Comics, a division of Fantagraphics, in 1991. The first, and so far only, comic book done in A-R Vision (which allegedly stands for alternate-reality, but could just as easily be anal-retentive), Tor Johnson, Hollywood Star makes up a proud portion of the brand-new Forgotten Horrors Comics & Stories, the latest production from my pal Michael H. Price’s Cremo Studios.

Available for 15 smackers from amazon.com and oldies.com, Forgotten Horrors Comics & Stories also reprints The Man from Planet X and Destination Moon comic books, given some new, very funny, and often near-Dadist dialogue by MHP (in the style of his highly recommended Comics from the Gone World series) that, remarkably, takes nothing away from the storylines. Michael also contributes more intriguing input from his dizzyingly prolific comics career, including a dandy fumetti illustrating Son of Ingagi and an Old Hollywood-related story of the Prowler – one of the best costumed characters to come out of the indie-comics boom — with art by Graham Nolan. Our cohort in the Forgotten Horrors series of film-history books, Jan Alan Henderson, weighs in with a fine piece concerning the ballyhoo for the movie Destination Moon – which, interestingly, included more than one comic-book adaptation.

     Also, advance orders are now being taken for the first Miracle Squad graphic novel, reprinting the four-issue series artist Terry Tidwell and I did for Upshot Graphics – also a Fantagraphics imprint – back in 1986 and ’87, packaged with our introductory Miracle Squad story (from John Byrne’s 1986 Doomsday Squad), my four-part study of the B-movie studios that inspired the Squad, and – new to this collection – an annotated sketchbook from Terry, my original prose story that inspired the Squad, and – thanks to a suggestion from publisher Bill Cunningham, aka the Mad Pulp Bastard – my dream casting of a Miracle Squad movie with actual B-pic actors from the ’30s.

That, of course, is where we’re coming from with Miracle Squad. It’s an evocation of what life might have been like for those working in the shadows of the big studios during Hollywood’s Golden Age, grinding out their little pictures in a ghetto known as Poverty Row. We love this era, and these films, and I think it shows in Miracle Squad.

For more information, or to order, contact www.pulp2ohpress.com. Cost is $17.99, and postage is free on advance orders.

Big thanks to Bill Cunningham and Michael H. Price for making these stories once again available. Please check ‘em out.

      Finally, if you’re in the mood to listen to some pretty lively and even insightful discussions of obscure and unheralded movies, check out our Forgotten Horrors podcasts. As I write this, in early November, Mike Price, producer Joey Hambrick, and I are about to log our fourth one, a look at the Coleman Francis-Anthony Cardoza opus, The Beast of Yucca Flats. Between us, Michael and I have logged a good eight or nine decades of writing about this stuff and interviewing the people involved with it, and we like to think that gives us a little bit of cred.

     You can hear each installment of the Forgotten Horrors podcast at absolutely no cost on iTunes or Podbean. It’s also free to subscribe – and we give stuff away on each show!

Comments are welcomed;
please address ‘em to this website
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And, as always, many thanks.