Monday, June 29, 2015

PULP NOW: THE FISTS OF R.E.H.

PULP NOW: THE FISTS OF R.E.H.

The minute I stepped ashore from the Sea Girl, merchantman, I had a hunch that there would be trouble. This hunch was caused by seeing some of the crew of the Dauntless. The men on the Dauntless have disliked the Sea Girl’s crew ever since our skipper took their captain to a cleaning on the wharfs of Zanzibar – them being narrow-minded that way. They claimed that the old man had a knuckle-duster on his right, which is ridiculous and a dirty lie. He had it on his left.
~ Robert E. Howard, The Pit of the Serpent

Although best known as the creator of Conan the Barbarian, Solomon Kane, and other sword and sorcery characters, Robert E. Howard had a lifelong interest in boxing, attending fights and avidly following the careers of his favorite fighters. Even though as a child he was bookish and intellectual, in his teen years he took up bodybuilding and eventually entered the ring as an amateur boxer. 

During the height of the pulp era from the late ‘20s through the ‘30s, REH used this background to make a good living banging out boxing tales for the likes of Fight Stories Magazine, Action Stories, Sport Story, Jack Dempsey’s Fight Magazine, and others. REH actually claimed his fictional fight tales – especially The Iron Man, and the adventures of Sailor Steve Costigan – to be among the best of his works. Primarily humorous in nature, Howard’s most popular and in demand boxing stories featured Sailor Steve Costigan. These tales were both creatively and financially critical to Howard’s development as a writer. 

Costigan was a lovable, hard-fisted, and innocent semipro pugilist who regularly squared-off against dastardly villains in exotic ports of call. Tales featuring Costigan were at times laugh out loud funny and brilliant examples of what, in writing circles, is referred to as an unreliable narrator. Written in first person, the voice of Sailor Steve Costigan is full of malapropisms and creative, near-swear invective.

As the undisputed champion of the merchant marine Sea Girl, Costigan has a heart of gold, fists of steel, and a head full of rocks, all of which get him – and his bulldog Mike – tossed into constant trouble. Costigan is lovable for two reasons. First, he is just not smart enough to do anything other than punch his way clear of trouble. And second, when he starts punching, every reader feels the joy of the underdog overcoming the odds with the solid landing of every blow. 

No matter how ridiculous the situation he places Costigan in, REH never ridicules the character, always putting Costigan on the side of the angels. Readers know they should always bet on Costigan coming through victorious in a fight, and they would be more than willing to share a beer with him afterward. Not too many readers would want to share suds with the brutal Conan or the dour Solomon Kane. Costigan is accessible, a larger than life everyman.

Not all of REH’s boxing stories are funny. Aside from essays exploring what attributes REH believed made a great boxer, his other boxing tales were alive with the sound and the fury of the real world of the square circle. Iron Man, in particular, is a revered saga for those followers not just of REH, but of boxing enthusiasts in general.

REH’s boxing fiction has recently been given its rightful place in the Howard pantheon. Under the title Fists of Iron, four volumes of REH’s boxing fiction have been published by the Robert E. Howard Foundation Press. These beautifully bound and numbered, hardcover editions sport stunning, pulp inspired wrap around covers and contain every story, partial story, and scrap of idea Howard produced. Editors, Mark Finn, Patrice Louinet, and Christopher Gruber each contributed an insightful and extensive introduction to the volumes in what is clearly a labor of love and appreciation for REH’s work.

The complete compendium of Fist of Iron has not only become a highly sought after collector’s item, but has preserved the two-fisted tales that helped a generation of readers to fight through the Great Depression and the tough years to follow. 

Even today, REH’s boxing fiction reads with immediacy and storytelling power. If you’ve never met, or never heard of REH’s boxing characters Sailor Steve Costigan, Kid Allison, Mike O’Brien, or Dennis Dorgan, now is the time to lace up your gloves, put up your dukes, and climb into the ring.

PULP NOW: TARZAN RETURNS

PULP NOW: TARZAN RETURNS

Prolific adventure writer Will Murray is a pulp savant. There are few other current pulp scholars who can match his knowledge of the wide range of pulps. Will has written uncountable introductions to pulp related anthologies, collections, and reprints. He has single handedly resurrected the career of one of pulps greatest heroes in his series, The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage from Altus Press.

Currently, he is poised for the release of his latest pulptastic adventure, The Wild Adventures of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan: Return to Pal-ul-don, an authorized sequel to one of Burroughs’ most celebrated Tarzan novels, Tarzan the Terrible.

Return to Pal-ul-don finds the African continent engulfed by World War II. To combat the spreading Nazi menace, Tarzan abandons his role as Lord of the Jungle to reclaim his persona as John Clayton, Lord Greystoke. Flying a P40 Tomahawk warplane, Clayton is sent on his first mission: to rescue the missing British Military Intelligence officer code-named Ilex. But the daring task plunges him into his savage past after he’s forced down in a lost land that seems hauntingly familiar. When Tarzan of the Apes returns to the prehistoric realm called Pal-ul-don, he must revert to his most savage persona, that of Tarzan-jad-guru—Tarzan the Terrible!

With the exciting news of a new Tarzan adventure, I was grateful to Will for taking the time for a quick interview.

What was your initial feeling after being asked to resurrect Tarzan, one of the most memorable characters of all time?

It was a mixture of excitement and pure panic. I recognized that this was a wonderful opportunity to explore a classic character I loved and had never before committed to paper. But I had a number of Doc Savage novels to write at the same time. Could I find time to write Tarzan? Fortunately, Jim Sullos, President of ERB Inc., gave me two years to turn in the manuscript. It took a year to produce, all the while writing Doc in between chapters.

Did your extensive work with Doc Savage prepare you for the process of writing Tarzan’s new adventures?

I’m sure it did, since Doc Savage creator Lester Dent was strongly influenced by Tarzan. Having written over 15 Doc novels, I’d learned the value of hewing to the original author’s tone, stylistics and vocabulary – in this case those of Edgar Rice Burroughs. But it was more important to dive into my collection of Tarzan novels and read the one I had agreed to sequel, along with others, to reacquaint myself with the series, which I first read back in the 1970s.

How did you develop the plot for Tarzan: Return to Pal-ul-don? 

The idea for this project came from a Tarzan fan named Gary Buckingham, who suggested Tarzan should return to the lost land of Pal-ul-don, the fantastic setting of Tarzan the Terrible. About 20 years ago, Del Rey Books invited me to write a Tarzan novel for a revival series that never got off the ground. So I dug deep into my electronic files and uncovered three premises I had pitched back in 1996. One of them, Grotto of Spiders, seemed to fit Gary’s premise. I generated a short pitch, which was approved. Beyond that, I did not plot the book so much as I discovered and explored the storyline as I went along. This is a quest. All I needed was to establish a concrete goal for Tarzan to pursue and find compelling challenges for him to overcome along the way. I seldom plot or outline my novels in detail. It interferes with the improvisational aspect of my creativity. Especially, when I’m channeling a deceased author.

What were the most important elements of the Tarzan series you wanted to highlight?

I wanted to recapture the essence of the authentic Tarzan, but also to avoid telling just another routine Tarzan adventure. In revisiting the original novels, I was reminded that Tarzan had served in the Royal Air Force during World War II. I decided it would be great to start off with John Clayton finishing up his flight training and being assigned a secret mission that would lead him into this adventure. The contrast between Flying Officer Clayton and Tarzan of the Apes excited me, and also created character tension. Clayton is on a military assignment. Shucking off his uniform and going full feral is something he’s determined to avoid. But the author had other plans...    

To what do you attribute Tarzan’s lasting appeal, while his many imitators – Ka-Zar the Great, Ki-Gor of Africa, Polaris of the Snows, and many others – have disappeared into obscurity?

Tarzan is immortal because Tarzan is a true original. The other characters you cite, regardless of their merits, were all distilled from the vision Edgar Rice Burroughs created over a century ago. Tarzan survives due to the power of Burroughs’ storytelling, as well as the Herculean efforts of Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. to perpetuate his works and memory.

How are characters like Doc Savage and Tarzan still relevant today?

Heroes never go out of style, even if their haircuts do. Like Sherlock Holmes, Doc Savage and Tarzan still fascinate in the 21st Century. Once upon a time, they were mere examples of then-contemporary fiction, but all have become frozen in their original time periods, and that seems to be where most readers prefer them. In that, they are no different than Robin Hood or Nero Wolfe, or any number of now-classic characters who seem more of their time, and more interesting in their time, than otherwise.

What other pulp characters would you like to see brought back for new adventures?

Shortly, Altus Press will release Doc Savage #200, The Sinister Shadow, in which Doc is challenged by The Shadow. I would like to write a standalone Shadow novel someday. Conan the Barbarian also fascinates me, but I’m not sure anybody short of Robert E. Howard can do him justice. But I’d like to try. John Carter of Mars is another favorite. As is a more obscure character, Street & Smith’s Bill Barnes, an aviation hero in the style of Doc Savage.

Are there more Wild Adventures of Doc Savage and Tarzan to come?

After Doc Savage #200, we will release The Secret of Satan’s Spine, a Doc Savage novel set in the Caribbean during World War II. We are already in talks to do a second Tarzan, which right now I will call, “Tarzan versus X.”  I can’t say who X is. This is another dream project which, if it comes to fruition, will astound fans of popular culture.

Hopefully, your reading appetite is whetted for a new Tarzan novel as well as the further Wild Adventure of Doc Savage … Check ‘em out!


Thursday, June 11, 2015

ROMANCE CORNER: SUMMER HEARTS



ROMANCE CORNER: SUMMER HEARTS

BOOK SYNOPSIS:

Every Summer Has a Love Story...Six Summer Tales of Sweet Romance that bring you the very best in Historical, Contemporary and Fantasy Romance. Sarah Daley, Carol Malone, Kathy Bosman, Debby Lee, Robyn Echols, and Lisa Watson weave stories of long days, sultry nights, sun-kissed beaches and sweet romance
Dreaming in California by Debby Lee:
In the summer of 1967, Hollywood actress, Lucinda Baker, appears to have it all-- fame, money, and an all too doting fiancé. Dark traits begin to emerge from the man she's pledged to marry, and he threatens her. Lucinda must now lean on her best friend, celebrity photographer, George Creston to escape the clutches of the dangerous relationship. Together they are forced to summon courage, and trust each other in desperate circumstances. Will they find love in the process or lose everything they hold dear, including their lives.
A Summer of Stars by Lisa Watson:
McKinley Graham has escaped to her summer getaway to regain her perspective and her health. Zane Davidson has taken refuge in the lovely seaside community, welcoming the healing balm of the salty sea air and his childhood home to mend his wounds. They aren’t looking for love, but their attraction is too explosive to ignore. Against the backdrop of starry nights and sultry kisses, they come to realize that even love may not be enough to save them from the angry storm of his past that threatens to destroy their dreams!

Drowning Sandy by Sarah Daley:

The water is calling...and Sandy can no longer resist the urge to unleash her mermaid form. But a simple swim in Lake Ontario ends when she discovers the truth of her own banishment. When long time crush, Alardo, seems to shift in a direction she never dreamed possible, Sandy must make a choice — mermaid or human? Once she chooses, she can never go back.
 
Summer Holiday by Carol Malone:

In the summer of 1905, Lizzy Gordon’s father dismisses her desire to be a doctor, demanding she become a teacher—a profession which does not allow women to marry. Determined to be free to choose her destiny, Lizzy defies her father and falls for her grandma's handsome neighbor—literally.Teacher Brent Pierce is dedicated to expanding young minds, but circumstances are forcing him to take over the family farm. Sweet complications arise when feisty Lizzy Golden drops into his arms.Before the summer is over Lizzy and Brent will be forced to make tough decisions. Can they find the courage to each fight for their independence, pursue their dreams, and still be together?

Shark Boss by Kathy Bosman:
 
When Tara takes up a job at the local aquarium, her colleagues warn her about their harsh boss, Mr. Carter Jones. She soon discovers how impatient he can be, but she also can’t deny her fascination and attraction to him. Carter can’t stop watching Tara as she works but holds back from her because of his secrets. If she knew what he was, she would never want him. Could the reason for Carter’s moods be related to something more troubling than what’s on the surface? Tara soon discovers Carter’s secret, and it only bonds them closer. But the curse starts to take over Carter’s life, and he won’t give his heart to a beautiful woman when he can only cause her pain.

The Best Place to Meet a Man by Robyn Echols:

Jeff goes to the beach to run and clear his head. Meredith goes to the beach intent on burying her nose in her book. In this contemporary romantic comedy, these two collide when Meredith’s two young nephews come up with other plans.
 
Get you copy now!

Grab your copy at one of these fabulous places:
 

And don't forget to add it to your TBR list!!!
 
Debby Lee Debby Lee was raised in the cozy little town of Toledo, Washington. She has been writing since she was a small child and has written several novels, but never forgets home. The Northwest Christian Writers Association and Romance Writers of America are two organizations Debby enjoys being a part of. Publications, thus far, include a series of short stories titled The Butterfly Fairytales Collection, and a novella with Barbour Publishing. As a self-professed nature lover, and an avid listener to 1960s folk music, Debby can't help but feel like a hippie child who wasn't born soon enough to attend Woodstock. She wishes she could run barefoot all year long, but often does anyway in grass and on beaches in her hamlet that is the cold and rainy southwest Washington. During the football season, Debby cheers on the Seattle Seahawks along with legions of other devoted fans. She's also filled with wanderlust and dreams of visiting Denmark, Italy, and Morocco some day.


Lisa Watson A native of Washington D.C., Lisa Watson writes multicultural novels with engaging storylines, strong, fun characters with universal appeal. Lisa's Match Broker series, introduced readers to Love Contract, and matchmaking guru, Norma Jean Anderson, aka The Love Broker. Book two in the series, Her Heart’s Desire, was a #1 on Amazon’s Bestseller list, and was listed as one of 2014’s Top 25 Books of the Summer, and Top 50 Best Reads. Book three, Love by Design was #2 on the Amazon Bestseller list. Her latest story is a Sweet Romance. A Summer of Stars, is one of the novellas in the Summer Hearts Compilation. This exciting new collection featuring five additional authors, and their sweet, beach-themed romances, will be released May 2015. Lisa works at a technology consulting firm, is the co-publicist for RT BookReview Magazine's annual RT Booklovers Conventions, and host for Reader’s Entertainment Radio show. Married for nineteen years, with two teenagers, and a Maltipoo, Brinkley, Lisa lives outside Raleigh, NC and is avidly working on a Sweet Romance, and her next series.

 
Sarah Daley
  Sarah lives in Arizona with her best friend and husband, Chris, their adorable monster child, and neurotic dog. At the age of six, she became a reading machine. Devouring everything she could possibly get her hands on. In high school she almost failed English three times because of her detest for writing book reports. Today, Sarah writes whatever stories haunt her dreams, and struggles to focus on one idea at a time. When she isn’t enjoying time with her family, or writing, you will find her nose stuck in a book, or out walking and enjoying the sunshine. Drowning Sandy is her debut novella! Links to find out what is coming next:
 
Carol Malone Award-winning author Carol Malone has successfully combined her three passions – romance, sports, and writing in her two highly-rated books, Fight Card Romance: Ladies Night, and Ladies Night Christmas sequel. She was the first woman to write a romance for the all-male dominated genre. Carol invites her readers to scramble into a front row seat for a thrill-ride of suspense, sports, and romance. If not hammering out new tales, Carol’s loves reading, sports, and hanging with her author husband on the coast of California.
 
Kathy Bosman
 
SweetKathy

Author, Kathy Bosman[/caption] Kathy loves reading and writing even more. She home-schools her three kids, so in between unsuccessfully explaining the difference between subject and predicate or how to divide fractions, she enters an imaginary world of troubled and passionate characters whose stories take over the page. Kathy lives in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa, where the summers are hot, the winters cool, and bugs thrive. Her first published novel, Wedding Gown Girl, came out in 2012 with Astraea Press. She belongs to the Romance Writers of South Africa Group (ROSA) which has been her greatest support and inspiration the last few years.



Robyn Echols
 
Robyn Echols has been writing since she was in junior high school. By choice, she spent most of her evening hours in her "dungeon", as her mother called her downstairs bedroom, writing stories, only
joining her family in front of the television upstairs when her favorite programs were playing. She has spent hours learning and teaching family history topics, and focuses on history from a genealogist's perspective of seeking out the details of everyday life in the past. Several of her family history articles have been published in genealogy magazines. Now Robyn resides with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite” and has fun researching and writing the books that she hopes will interest and entertain her readers. She writes Young Adult/New Adult and contemporary fiction under Robyn Echols and adult historical romance under her pen name, Zina Abbott.
When Robyn isn’t busy piecing together novel plots, she stays busy piecing together quilt blocks.

 
Compiled by R M Alexander
RM Alexander is an author of clean romances that are sometimes contemporary, sometimes paranormal or suspense, but are always ruled by the heart of true romance. With characters who look for love in the wrong places and are victims or the worse kinds of betrayal while fighting for what they want and believe in, RM's novels promise a good read with unexpected twists and turns. When she's not writing, RM is spending time with her husband and two small children in Michigan. She loves to travel, especially to Walt Disney World, and can often be found on Twitter or Facebook chatting with other authors and readers.
 
Cover designed by: Creative Book Covers
Check them out here: www.creativebookcovers.com

  Check out our new book launch video.
It'll make you long for the beach!


Visit each and every blog on our tour EVERY DAY and enter to win our fabulous beach-summer-themed prizes and Amazon gift cards!

Don’t forget to enter your name into our GIVEAWAY!!!

SummerCompilationGiveaways

Summer Compilation Giveways Prizes Which one will be yours?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Tour Schedule:
(You can check out posts that have been made during this tour here:

Don't forget! Each author in this tour will be featured once during the tour, and on her special day there will be all kinds of fun facts to check out about her and her book!
June 6th:
Featuring Dreaming in California by Debbie Lee
June 7th:
Featuring A Summer of Stars by Lisa Watson







June 8th: Featuring Drowning Sandy by Sarah Daley

June 9th: Featuring Summer Holiday by Carol Malone

June 10th: Featuring Shark Boss by Kathy Bosman

June 11th: Featuring The Best Place to Meet a Man by Robyn Echols

June 12th: Featuring the entire compilation
 

Summer Hearts, a sweet summer read for your holiday on the beach! Enjoy!

 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

PULP NOW: TARZAN ~ RETURN TO PAL-UL-DON!

PULP NOW: TARZAN ~ RETURN TO PAL-UL-DON

Written by the prolific adventure writer, Will Murray, author of The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage series, Tarzan: Return to Pal-ul-don is an authorized sequel to one of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ most celebrated Tarzan novels, Tarzan the Terrible.

"Having been an Edgar Rice Burroughs fan since 1968,” says Murray, “the opportunity to bring this iconic character back to life means a great deal to me. I’ve pulled out all the stops to faithfully replicate the storytelling style of the great Edgar Rice Burroughs and recreate the original era of Tarzan of the Apes.



Although I’m perhaps best known for my Doc Savage novels, I actually discovered the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs about a year before I discovered Doc. It was the purchase of the Ballantine Books edition of "The Gods of Mars" in 1968 that started me on my lifelong love affair with all things Burroughsian.

When the opportunity came to write a Tarzan adventure, I gave a lot of thought over which phase of the ape-man’s career to set my story. From the beginning, the plan was to sequel "Tarzan the Terrible," one of ERB’s most masterful Tarzan novels, and a personal favorite of the Burroughs’, second only to "Tarzan of the Apes" in that series.

At first, I thought we would leave the timeframe vague, but the more I delved into the series, the more I was drawn to the little-recorded phase in which John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, left his jungle home to serve in the Royal Air Force during World War Two. Burroughs portrayed his hero as an observer in "Tarzan and The Foreign Legion,” so he would likely have previously undergone flight training. Here was a great jumping-off point to depict the civilized John Clayton in a rarely-seen role––that of combat fighter pilot––from there to segue into a classic reversion to this natural state as the untamed Lord of the Jungle.

In "Tarzan: Return to Pal-ul-don," fresh from flight school, Clayton is given a secret mission. An RAF plane has gone down in Africa, along with a military intelligence operative codenamed Ilex. His mission is to locate Ilex and bring the nameless agent back to civilization, along with the unknown Axis secret being carried to Allied leaders.

As it happened, the missing plane crashed into a previously unexplored area Pal-ul-don. So when Flying Officer Clayton’s shark-mouthed P-40 Tomahawk fighter plane is attacked by pteranodons, causing him to crash land in strangely familiar territory, the ape-man discovers he’s back in the Land of Man. And so begins his quest.

In this sequel, we are not revisiting the cities and peoples encountered in "Tarzan the Terrible." Instead, Tarzan finds himself caught in the web of a completely different tree-dwelling tribe which presents the fearless ape-man with one of the most epic challenges of his long career. Tarzan the hunter becomes Tarzan the hunted!

I don’t want to give away any more of the story, but "Tarzan: Return to Pal-ul-don" is an imaginative quest into a savage land both familiar and alien. The allies and perils the ape-man collects along the way are a tribute to the powerful imagination of Edgar Rice Burroughs, one of the great pulp adventure writers of the 20th Century.

This is Tarzan of the Apes as Burroughs originally portrayed him.


Jim Sullos, President of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., notes, “We couldn’t be more pleased to have such a talented writer as Will Murray write a sequel to one of Mr. Burroughs’ Tarzan novels. The pace is fast and the suspense never lets up, just what a reader expects when following the adventures of our Ape-Man.”

Tarzan: Return to Pal-ul-don features a startling cover illustration by award-winning artist Joe DeVito, who executes the covers for Altus Press’ Wild Adventures of Doc Savage series.

“It is always a treat painting covers for Will’s Doc Savage adventure yarns,” says DeVito. “And now, Tarzan, the granddaddy of all the great action-adventure characters. After sculpting the Centennial Tarzan statue for ERB, Inc. in 2012, I was hoping to get a crack at a Tarzan painting as well. This book provided an opportunity to combine them both!”

Altus publisher Matt Moring adds, “As a long-time fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs––beginning with the quest to put together a complete collection of ERB's Ace paperbacks many years ago–-it’s almost unbelievable that I’d one day be able to say that I’d actually publish an authorized Tarzan novel. And based on Will's long track record, there can be no doubt that this will be an epic story.”

Tarzan: Return to Pal-ul-don will be released in paperback in June, to be followed by a deluxe hardcover edition with a wraparound cover and a bonus Tarzan short story by Gary A. Buckingham, “Tarzan and the Secret of Katanga,” a sequel which ties into the lead novel. There will also be an e-book edition released in all popular formats.
 


Thursday, June 4, 2015

CRYTOZOOLOGY ~ FANTASTIC BEASTS AND FANTASTIC STORIES

CRYTOZOOLOGY ~ FANTASTIC BEASTS AND FANTASTIC STORIES

My buddies, and fellow enthusiasts, Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle have recently published their third sterling collection of stories torn from the pages of the men’s adventure magazines published in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.  Following on the popularity of Weasels Ripped My Flesh! and He-Men, Bag Men & Nymphos, comes their Cryptozoology Anthology – collecting action pulp stories of Bigfoot, sea monsters, and other mysterious creatures. 

Also onboard as an editor for this anthology is David Coleman, author of the The Bigfoot Filmography, an in-depth survey of what he has dubbed Cine du Sasquatch, with reviews of every appearance of Bigfoot, Sasquatch, the Abominable Snowman and other manlike Hominid cryptids in TV shows and movies.

Cryptozoology Anthology brings together thirteen stories about legendary monsters from three decades of men’s adventure magazines. They’re all lushly illustrated with full color scans of the covers of the magazines where they were originally published plus the interior artwork and photos used to illustrate them.

There’s also a bonus story and extra artwork in the special hardcover edition and a hidden story in both the HC and paperback editions.

Each story features animals whose existence or survival is officially unsubstantiated by science or in dispute or who are based on cryptid creatures: Bigfoot, Sasquatch, the Loch Ness Monster, fish with human hands, the Yeti, the Thunderbird, the Ape-Man Monster of Tennessee, and the Thing at Dutchman's Rig (a relict dinosaur) are just some examples. 

The stories in the Cryptozoology Anthology range  from sensational period reporting and true accounts of savage duels between man and monster, classic fiction yarns (including a giant squid story by the great Arthur C. Clarke), as well as rare archival discoveries, men's pulp history, expert analysis, cryptid-by-cryptid commentary, and much, much more.

I’m grateful to Robert, Wyatt, and David for taking the time to share their men’s adventure magazine and legendary beast expertise.

Historic accounts of legendary creatures! Man versus monster! Fantastic stories and fantastic artwork! How does all of this come together in your Cryptozoology Anthology?

Wyatt: Cryptids and interest in cryptozoological themes didn’t begin in men’s adventure magazines, but men’s adventure magazines (MAMs for short) played a significant role in popularizing the subject, in at least two essential ways: For one, many of the familiar tropes that have defined the way we think of cryptids – for better or worse – were established in men’s adventure magazines; Dave shares examples in the book. 

But perhaps more importantly, the mags kept cryptids in the conversation. MAMs didn’t often trade in horror or science fiction themes, but cryptids seem to have been grandfathered in as animal attack stories of a sort, and animal attack stories were always welcome. These magazines regularly featured stories with a cryptozoological bent; it’s fair to say they embraced the subject. Clearly a significant portion of their readership did, too.

How do you decide on the theme of an anthology from the hundreds of story types in men’s adventure magazines?

Bob Deis: It was actually Wyatt’s idea. Our first anthology of men’s adventure magazine stories, Weasels Ripped My Flesh!, was sort of a broad sampler of some of our favorite MAM stories, including many by writers that went on to greater fame, like Lawrence Block, Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg, and Robert F. Dorr, along with interviews with and commentary by former men’s adventure writers and editors like Mario Puzo and Bruce Jay Friedman. Our second, He-Men, Bag Men & Nymphos, focused on stories by a little-known author that Puzo and Friedman both considered to be one of the best men’s adventure writers ever, Walter Kaylin. Wyatt decided we should try doing an anthology of stories about some popular subject. He happened to know Dave Coleman from their shared background in writing movie scripts. Dave had recently published his Bigfoot Filmography, and Wyatt had noted the growth in cryptozoology books, TV shows and movies. He floated the idea of a cryptozoology-themed collection of men’s adventure stories with introductory text by Dave. I loved the idea.

Wyatt: I’ve always loved monsters, and I knew there were monsters in men’s adventure magazines – Bob’s shared some of the more monsteriffic covers and illustrations from his collection on www.MensPulpMags.com/ I was thrilled to learn just how many monsters there’d been in the mags! 

Dave has been a champion of our books for a long time, and he and I had talked about working together. Once Bob and I decided on weird creatures, Dave was the first person I thought of. I knew he’d be able to put the stories into the larger context of cryptozoology, its history, and its lore.

How did you choose the particular stories for the Cryptozoology Anthology?

Bob: I started by finding all of the stories about Bigfoot, Sasquatch, the Yeti and other cryptid that I could find in my collection of men’s adventure magazines. That took a while, since I have over 4,500 issues. I did an initial selection of options based on the ones I thought were the best, in terms of being ripping yarns or having historical significance. Then I sent the list and image scans to Wyatt and Dave and we jointly picked the cream of the crop, along with the additional artwork and special features we wanted to include.

Dave: What was a nice bit of Fortean synchronicity, I thought, was that while we were confident there would be at least a few cryptozoological stories per magazine series to choose from, we didn’t really know what we’d find until Bob Deis uncovered them. Researching the book was not unlike its own expedition back into the history of men’s magazines and how they related to cryptids over the decades, and we often came across unexpected finds in the stories and amazing illustrations. 

Sure enough, there was also this veritable flood of wonderful stories, each often uniquely capturing its era, which came from MAMs in regards to crypto stories. I was astounded by how many Bob was able to find, but pleased, as I had always believed, as did Wyatt and Bob, that there was a deeply-intertwined connection prior to the editing of the book.

Wyatt: Bob’s archives are staggering. He’d send Dave and me pages and pages of magazine covers, interior artwork and stories that we’d try to narrow down to favorites. We wanted to use everything! Each time I’d think, this or that is the best story/cover/artwork in the book, we’d get a new message from Deis with a half-dozen new favorites to choose from. We felt very pleased with ourselves when we’d finally narrowed it down to 13 stories (a number we liked for its Fortean associations), then realized we’d miscounted; we had 14. So we said okay, 13 stories and we’ll hide the other one somehow – we couldn’t bear to cut another tale. I toyed with the idea of leaving the hidden story out of some printings of the book, so that in true cryptid spirit, it would be seen by some and not by others – but that seemed unfair. So, it’s not in the table of contents, but it’s in there. I’m not telling you where.

What goes into producing a book like the Cryptozoology Anthology beyond choosing the stories?

Bob: It’s a lot of work and a team effort. I make high resolution scans of the covers, interior artwork and stories and write my notes for introductory text. Then I pass all that on to Wyatt, who makes editorial decisions and does the graphic design for our books, which he’s incredibly good at.

Dave: The collaboration I’ve enjoyed with Wyatt and Bob makes Cryptozoology Anthology unique in my experience as writer, and I look forward to hopefully repeating it soon. Everyone is knowledgeable, passionate and dedicated to producing the best book possible. You take that kind of good fortune for granted as author at your own peril.

As for what goes into it beyond choosing the stories? Research. A few of the writers chosen for Cryptozoology Anthology such as Arthur C. Clarke are well-known and need no introduction. But others are less well-known, and we felt it important to try to offer as much in the way of insight into who was writing about cryptids as much as present the stories only.

Wyatt: We sparked off each other as part of the process, and collaborating with two experts made my work easier. I was able to bounce questions about the mags off Bob, and run cryptid questions by Dave. Google can’t deliver the kind of insight these guys bring to their areas of expertise; they’ve got stuff that ain’t even in books yet.

Selling the book is where we are now. Putting together a fun, colorful, informative collection is one thing. We’re a small, independent press. How do we get the word out about the book without the marketing budget and resources of a big publishing house? The internet affords a lot of access to potential readers, but there’s a lot of noise to cut through. It’s a challenge.

We try to come up with promotion that sticks with people. There’s a yeti photo included in the book that I’d joked looked like comic Joe Besser (of the late-era Three Stooges). So we ran a tongue-in-cheek ad online featuring both that got a big response; it even ended up spotlighted by Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast, for combining two of Gilbert’s great loves!

How did Dave’s Bigfoot expertise come into play in the Cryptozoology Anthology?

Bob: It was critical to fulfill our vision for the book. We didn’t just want it to be a set of stories with no context. We wanted it to be both fun to read and a serious contribution to cryptozoology lore. Dave added that element in his introductory text for the stories. He has a vast storehouse of knowledge of the history of cryptozoology and the portrayal of cryptid creatures in popular media. 

Dave: Having written The Bigfoot Filmography proved an invaluable asset in this regard towards the editing of Cryptozoology Anthology. I had met and known some of the top cryptozoologists in their respective fields as a result of my previous book.

So when we began Cryptozoology Anthology, I was able to contact many of these experts and get their input, as well as offer my own, to hopefully present a more balanced perspective of the MAM/cryptid connections. 

Wyatt:  Dave was our wise Sherpa guide. He knows the landscape and terrain of the subject very well, and he was able to lead Bob and me through the tangle of backstories and debates related to various crypto topics from the stories. Dave helped us get a handle on how each story fit into the larger scheme of cryptozoological history and lore – much as he does in the book.

What did you learn about men’s adventure magazines from creating the Cryptozoology Anthology you didn’t know before?

Dave: That the cryptid stories were narratively evolving, no pun intended. The way Bigfoot, for example, is presented, as well as Yeti, is very flexible. And true to the arc of the culture from which they came, MAMs would have their cryptids, for example, become more licentious and the violence more outrageous. 

I knew of course MAMs can be very transgressive by experience reading them as a delightfully shocked child reader back when. But as an adult, it was fun to see how the MAM editors were clearly alive to the cryptid fiction genre they were creating, and how they clearly added to the excitement in successive waves of stories and how their writers wrote them.

Bob: After our initial discussions with Dave, we realized that men’s adventure magazines played a major role in the cultural awareness and perceptions of many cryptid monsters, especially Bigfoot, Sasquatch, the Yeti, the Loch Ness monster and the giant Thunderbird. But no previous books had ever really focused on that. So, we figured out that the Cryptozoology Anthology would also have historic significance in the realm of crypto lore.  

Wyatt: When people think men’s adventure magazine subjects, they think animal attacks, Nazi villains, war, tropical love slaves… The curious fact that Bigfoot and yeti stories and reportage were a lesser known part of that universe seemed reason enough to merit a collection. But the realization that the magazines were not merely exploiting that interest, but actually helping to establish and fan the flames of that interest in significant ways was a revelation. It altered our perspective on the whole project.

After producing a trio of anthologies ripped from the pages of the men’s adventure magazines, what impresses you most about these stories?

Bob: I continue to be amazed that they are still relatively unknown and underappreciated. There is far greater awareness of the stories and artwork from the pre-World War II pulp magazines and of the science fiction and fantasy magazines that were published in the 1950s and 1960s, the decades that were the golden age for men’s adventure magazines. The best stories and artwork in men’s adventure magazines are as good as anything from those other genres and, I think, deserve wider attention. They also include many fact-based stories and photographs that provide glimpses of history, something the old pulps and sci fi mags do not provide. They’re a huge a treasure trove of mid-Twentieth Century pop culture artifacts.

Wyatt: I still get a kick out of the fact that these magazines got no respect in their time, and even now, when even the most mediocre genre material is elevated to “classic” status simply because it’s old, MAMs continue to evade respectability. Inexplicably! No one has ever suggested the beloved pulp magazines of the 1930s are high art, and they're collected feverishly. Comics’ fans find something to appreciate – even love – in the most unlikely D-list titles from the 1950s. Even the most dire mid-century sex magazines are hip. Yet noses still turn up in some collector's circles at the mere mention of men's adventure mags. We’ve heard arguments they shouldn’t even be considered pulp fiction! Men’s adventure magazine fiction is the outcast in an outcast genre, the perennial underdog of pulp fiction.

What else would you have included in Cryptozoology Anthology if you had the room?  What fantastic beasts are missing? Enough for another Cryptozoology themed anthology down in the future?

Bob: Well, there are literally scores of other stories about various types of cryptid creatures in men’s adventure magazines. We only scratched the surface of what there is about Nessie and other sea and lake monsters. And there are plenty more about the manlike Hominid cryptids, too. Enough to fill several more volumes. In fact, we’re already thinking about a second one. 

Wyatt: I’m originally from Philadelphia, so I heard tales of the Jersey Devil around a lot of campfires growing up; it would have been nice to include him. He does make a cameo appearance in the John Keel story (Incredible Monster-Man Sightings in the U.S.), but we had no standalone piece focused solely on the Jersey Devil. But that doesn't mean it's not out there, somewhere. You wait, Bob will find one.

As fans of the men’s adventure magazines do you feel an obligation to preserve this publishing niche or is it all for fun?

Bob: It’s both for me. There’s certainly a humor factor associated with many men’s adventure magazine stories and artwork. Some of it comes from conscious nudge-nudge-wink-wink aspects that the editors, writers and artists put in knowingly. Some of it is because many of the stories and illustrations look so jaw-droppingly over-the-top or politically incorrect from today’s perspective. But, yeah, a big part of the reason behind doing our www.MensPulpMags.com/ blog, the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook group and the Men’s Adventure Library series of anthologies is to increase awareness of a genre of magazines that was once read by tens of millions of men, and that was contributed to by many talented writers and artists; a genre that sheds a light on American history and culture that you can’t get from reading history books.

Was the success of the men’s adventure magazines due entirely to the marriage of outrageous art and hard action stories, or was there something deeper going on in society which kept these magazine flying off the shelves?

Bob: The men’s adventure magazines took shape after World War II and were largely targeted to American servicemen, veterans and blue-collar workers who grew up reading classic comic books and pulp magazines. There were millions of them so it was a big market. I think men’s adventure magazines filled a need for those men, after they became adults experienced the grim realities of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the huge cultural changes that took place in the 1950s and 1960s. They wanted magazines that combined entertaining stories with news and exposés and other features done from and for the point of view of grown-up, regular guys, rather than for the upwardly mobile executive types and eggheads that Playboy and its clones targeted. Of course, all men like the photos of semi-nude and nude women that were common to both the men’s adventure and girlie mag genres.

Wyatt: What still blows my mind is the readership the mags enjoyed. These crazy stories and wild images that today exist only on the very fringes of pop culture were once ubiquitous and mainstream, a regular part of a lot of working men’s entertainment diet. We know reading fuels the brain in unique ways, helping to cultivate imagination and critical thinking. What does it mean when great swaths of the population move away, en masse, from reading as entertainment, replacing it with more passive, less engaging pursuits? It’s hard not to feel that as a culture, we’ve lost something significant.

What do you think is behind the resurgences of interest in men’s adventure magazines? 

Bob: I’d say the growth of the Internet has a lot to do with it. The covers and interior artwork are so cool that examples get posted and reposted on thousands of websites. And art auction sites like Heritage Auctions have increasingly been offering original men’s adventure magazine paintings for sale as part of a general increase in interest in twentieth century illustration art. Fans of the artwork eventually begin to realize that it comes from magazines they don’t know much about, which leads them to websites like MensPulpMags.com and then to books that give them more information, like ours and the two seminal books that focus on the artwork, It’s a Man’s World and Men’s Adventure Magazines in Postwar America. Both of those feature the collection of our friend Rich Oberg, the biggest collector of men’s adventure artwork in the world.  The other big factor is eBay. Basically, eBay has made it possible for anyone to buy old issues of men’s adventure magazines that were pretty much hidden from sight in attics and used bookstores for a couple of decades and largely forgotten.  As a result, there are more and more people actually collecting the magazines.

Wyatt: It’s almost impossible not to be hooked by the fantastic covers and spectacular interior illustrations once you’ve seen them; that’s the biggest group of fans, and that’s always going to be the biggest group of fans. A smaller subset also enjoys the stories, and recognizes there’s just as much to enjoy and marvel at and be thrilled by in the magazine’s copy. A third group appreciates the art and stories, but is also intrigued by the idea that the magazines — their stories, their artwork, their take on their world and their times — provide unique perspectives on a whole lot of other things, some of which have little or nothing to do with great illustration art or high-octane fiction. Our ambition is to pack enough art, pulp, and insight into our releases to satisfy each of those tastes with the same book. So far I think we’re doing all right.

Thanks gang for a great interview and for the coolness that is Cryptozoology Anthology…And I haven’t forgotten I agreed to help out with an anthology of boxing stories from the Men’s Adventure Magazines, which I’m greatly looking forward to working on.