Twenty Years the Novelist

spidey-warriorSpider-Man Super Thriller: Warrior’s Revenge. If the Amazon listing for the book’s publication date is correct (and really, I have no way of knowing if it’s true or not), today is the day in 1997 that I made my debut as a novelist—twenty years ago! Where did the time go?

Sure, not everyone has loved it. SpiderFan.org gave it a two-Spidey rating, but they did find some enjoyment in its pages:

“The story won’t win a Booker, but in general I have to say that the writing is actually pretty good. Barrett coins a nice phrase, and while he flirts with cliché, he doesn’t get down and dirty with it.”

A reviewer at Goodreads, on the other hand, outright hated it: Neal Barrett, Jr. shows real craftsmanship except when it comes to quiet moments of conversation between friends. That dialogue is smarmy and has many forced references to what good friends these characters are.”

However, at Amazon U.S., one reader called it “the best book in the [Super Thrillers] series,” while another complained about it being a “children’s book” with a short page count (it’s 144 pages). The most encouraging response came from a reader at Amazon U.K.:

“Neal Barrett did an awesome job writing this book! I know the author has inspired me a great deal. I would someday like to follow in his footsteps and become an author along with a doctor!”

Of course, what none of these folks—and probably every other reader of the book—knew is that Neal Barrett Jr. didn’t write Warrior’s Revenge. I did.

It goes like this: In 1996, Byron Preiss, the publisher I worked for as an editor, had two major licenses with Marvel Comics: one to do novels and anthologies for an adult audience, that were co-published by Byron Preiss Multimedia Company and Berkley Books; and one to do books for middle-grade (ages 8–12) readers that were co-published by BPMC and Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Books.

The latter series—for which I served as editor—was comprised of eight books, was called “Super Thrillers,” and starred Spidey in seven of them (including a pair of You Are Spider-Man Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style entries), plus one Iron Man adventure. The writers involved were science-fiction writer James D. Macdonald (using the pseudonym Martin Delrio), Star Trek and Stargate author Bill McCay, Dean Wesley Smith, pop-culture writer Richie Chevat, and Neal Barrett Jr. Cover art was provided by the team of Mike Zeck (pencils) and Phil Zimelman (airbushed painting), as well as by Ernie Colon. Ernie also provided interior spot illustrations for the series, as did Steve Geiger, John Nyberg, James Fry, Neil Vokes with Michael Avon Oeming, and Louis Small Jr. with Ralph Reese.

Neal Barrett Jr. was mainly known as a mystery writer and fantasist, but on the side he wrote movie novelizations, including the ones for Sylvester Stallone’s Judge Dredd and Pamela Anderson’s Barb Wire—a movie so awful the novelization was never published in the U.S. So when we approached him for the series he was very interested, and after the usual editorial back-and-forth over the plot for his first book, he turned in the manuscript for Spider-Man Super Thriller: Lizard’s Rage, in which Spidey fights not just his old enemy The Lizard, but Morbius the Living Vampire as well. I thought it was great, Marvel loved it, and the book went to press.

But when it came time for his next contribution, things didn’t work out so well.

I can’t remember the reasons for it, but Marvel outright rejected his manuscript for Warrior’s Revenge, in which Spidey teams up with the Incredible Hulk to fight the Super-Skrull, a shape-shifting bad guy from the Fantastic Four comics. They didn’t want the manuscript revised, they wanted it dropped completely and the process restarted from scratch with a new plot.

Neal, however, wasn’t interested in doing it—after all, Marvel had approved his plot before he ever started writing the book, so what was this give-us-a-new-plot business? And having already completed the first-draft manuscript, while he would have made revisions based on their feedback, writing a whole new book was out of the question, especially at the low author rates BPMC was paying. I didn’t argue with him—he was right on both counts.

I went in to Byron’s office and explained the situation. He sighed, paused, and then said:

“So, do you want to write it?”

See, Byron knew I was a writer. I was still publishing my Lorelei comic while I was working for him, and I’d previously co-written (with Ken Grobe) “The Ballad of Fancy Dan,” a short story for an Untold Tales of Spider-Man anthology that was part of the adult-books line. Now he was offering me the opportunity to step up to the next level—only because I was literally standing right in front of him, so he didn’t have to go searching for Neal’s replacement, but I didn’t take that personally.

Well, who was I to say no? A paying gig, writing my all-time-favorite comic character? My very first novel?

Of course I said yes. There was just one problem…

“We’ve already printed the covers for the entire run,” Byron told me, “with Neal’s name on them. So you’ll have to write it anonymously because we’re not going back to press to fix it. Sorry.”

And thus a legend was born—anonymously, of course.

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The Formidables: Ready for Relaunch!

Formidables-ad-RedAnvilHey, superhero fans! Do you miss Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four? Do you wish there was a super-group of heroes you could enjoy that pays homage to the work of Stan “The Man” Lee and Jack “King” Kirby on the adventures of the First Family of the House of Ideas while blazing new trails? Then let me introduce you to The Formidables!

Created by French writer/artist Chris Malgrain—my old creative partner from the one-off comic Stan Lee’s Alexa—and edited by yours truly, The Formidables are a quintet of superheroes battling evil and bigotry in 1950s America, with their first challenge coming in the form of a Communist super-villain…who’s disguised as a white supremacist! It’s a unique take on the genre, with Chris examining topics like race relations and sexual identity in a Cold War setting, with an appropriate amount of punching and explosions mixed in, of course—we are talking superhero comics, after all!

My involvement with the series came about when Chris approached me to tweak his dialogue and captions; with English being his second language, he wanted to make sure it read cleanly for U.S readers. And since we’re both familiar with the writing style of “classic Stan Lee,” I knew exactly where he was going with the text and could make the (very minor) adjustments.

Not long after Chris published The Formidables #2 through his Oniric Comics company, he was approached by another indie publisher, Red Anvil Comics, with an offer to take over the publishing and distribution; up to that point, Oniric’s titles had only been available through online distributor Indy Planet. Chris said yes and soon enough the contracts were signed. Now it was official: Red Anvil was the new home of The Formidables. And to make it event publishing, Red Anvil decided to release the first two issues at the same time!

Even better (well, where I’m concerned) is that Chris insisted I now be included in the cover credits. I tried to talk him out of it—after all, my role has been more editor than co-writer—but that’s how he wanted it to be, so who am I to argue?

The Formidables #1–2 are listed in the current (August) edition of Diamond Prevues from Diamond Comic Distributors, with publication scheduled for October, so pick up a copy and turn to page 416 for more information. And then be sure to place an order for them at your local comic shop!

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‘Warped Week: July 23, 2017

pieces_gold_large_book_cover2017Welcome back to ’Warped Week, a recap of what we’ve been up to at ’Warp Central during the past seven days. If you missed anything, now’s the perfect time to catch up!

Going all the way back to July 1st, we notified you about our involvement in the ninth annual Summer/Winter Sale at e-book distributor Smashwords. All month long, you’ll be able to purchase the SWC titles Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1; Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2, For a Few Gold Pieces More, and Terra Incognito: A Guide to Building the Worlds of Your Imagination at a special 25% discount. You’ll need two things to make purchases: a (free) Smashwords account and the coupon codes for the discounts. Head over to the July 1st post for the coupon codes and the link to our Smashwords store.

The Bob Larkin SketchbookLast Sunday, July 16, as War for the Planet of the Apes was battling Spider-Man: Homecoming for box-office supremacy (and ultimately winning), we plugged The Bob Larkin Sketchbook, our collection of pencil drawings by the legendary cover painter for Star Wars, Doc Savage, The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Star Trek, Spider-Man, and (you guessed it) Planet of the Apes.

On Monday, July 17, we took a look at Tales to Sorta Tremble By, our upcoming second SWC Horror Bite. It’s a collection of 1950s short stories (very short) that ran in horror comics from what are now long-defunct publishing houses—gone, but certainly not forgotten!

Tuesday, July 18, was the release date for the movie Kong: Skull Island on Blu-Ray and DVD, so it was the perfect time to remind you of all the movie, comic, and book reviews I did for my Simian Saturdays series—not to mention remind you about our e-book-exclusive Illustrated Classic edition of the 1932 novelization of the original King Kong!

gabriel-grub-cvrOn Wednesday, July 19, we examined Gabriel Grub and the Goblins, our SWC Horror Bite for December. This classic tale by Charles Dickens involves a surly gravedigger who spends his Christmas Eve being harassed by a pack of equally surly goblins that don’t like anyone who hates the holidays.

Thursday the 20th we notified you about my latest review for the new site Comics for Sinners: Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor: Year 3 #5, which sees the Titan Comics debut of Bill Potts, the popular Season 10 companion played by Pearl Mackie who left the TARDIS at the end of the season. And that, of course, meant I could get a plug in for my Saga of Pandora Zwieback novels and comics, since DW was one of my inspirations for Pan’s adventures.

And yesterday we told you about another e-book sale we’re involved in: DriveThru Fiction’s Christmas in July. From now through July 31, you can purchase a majority of our titles—books, comics, and graphic novels—at a 25% discount. Of course you’ll need a DriveThru account to make purchases, but it’s free, so sign up today and get to buying!

And that’s the week. What’s coming next? You’ll have to keep checking this blog during the days ahead. See you then!

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DriveThru’s Christmas in July 2017 E-book Sale Begins

Christmas-in-JulyToday’s the day when e-book distributor DriveThru Comics—along with its sister sites DriveThru Fiction, DriveThru RPG, and RPGNow—launches its annual Christmas in July sale, during which you can purchase thousands of digital books at special prices! It runs from July 21 to July 31—and yes, you’ll need to set up an account (it’s free) to take advantage of this promotion.

Included among the many participating publishers is StarWarp Concepts (of course), which means you can get the following titles at 25% off:

Blood FeudBlood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1 is my young adult novel that’s perfect for lovers of dark urban fantasy. It introduces readers to Pandora Zwieback, a 16-year-old Goth girl who’s spent the last decade being treated for mental health problems because she can see monsters. It’s only after she meets professional monster hunter Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin that Pan discovers she’s never been ill—her so-called “monstervision” is actually a supernatural gift that allows her to see into Gothopolis, the not-so-mythical shadow world that exists right alongside the human world. In Blood Feud, Pan, her parents and friends, and Annie are drawn into a conflict among warring vampire clans searching for the key to an ultimate weapon (or so the legend goes)—a key that just so happens to have been delivered to the horror-themed museum owned by Pan’s father. It’s a character-driven action-fest that leads immediately into the second novel:

Blood-Reign-FinalCvrBlood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2: Pan and Annie face even greater challenges as the vampire clans draw up plans to go to war with humanity. Leading the charge is a fallen angel named Zaqiel, whose previous attempt at subjugating the world was stopped by Annie—who, back in the day, was Zaqiel’s lover! But Pan isn’t about to let some ancient monster win the day, not when the lives of her parents and friends—along with those of every human on the planet—are at stake, so she leads a charge of her own. But whose side is going to emerge the victor remains to be seen…

terra_ingoc_lg_coverTerra Incognito: A Guide to Building the Worlds of Your Imagination is our popular how-to book for writers and gamers in which bestselling fantasy author Richard C. White (Gauntlet: Dark Legacy: Paths of Evil, The Chronicles of the Sea Dragon Special, Troubleshooters, Incorporated: Night Stalkings) takes you through the step-by-step process of constructing a world for your characters, from societies and governments to currency and religion. Included is an interview with New York Times bestselling author Tracy Hickman (Dragonlance) that discusses his methods of world building, as well as his creative experiences during his time as a designer for gaming company TSR, the original home of Dungeons & Dragons.

pieces_gold_large_book_cover2017For a Few Gold Pieces More is Richard C. White’s collection of fantasy short stories. Think Lord of the Rings meets the “spaghetti Westerns” of director Sergio Leone (A Fistful of Dollars; The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly), as a Rogue With No Name travels a world of epic-fantasy adventure, looking for treasure, romance—and revenge against the woman who sent him to prison for a crime he didn’t commit (but she did).

Carmilla is J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s 19th-century classic vampiric tale of love gone wrong. Laura is so desperate for a friend that when a young woman named Carmilla practically turns up on the doorstep of the castle owned by Laura’s father, she thinks her prayers for companionship have been answered. But as she comes to realize, Carmilla isn’t as interested in making friends as she is in spilling blood. Regarded as the one of the earliest female vampire tales—if not the first—Carmilla was an influence on author Bram Stoker in the creation of the vampire brides in his seminal novel, Dracula, and remains a popular character in fiction to this day. Just like with A Princess of Mars, our edition contains six original illustrations done especially for StarWarp Concepts by the super-talented Eliseu Gouveia.

pan_annual_lgThe Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1 is a spinoff from the novel series. In this 56-page, full-color comic special, the teenaged Goth adventuress battles Gothic Lolita vampires in a shopping mall and a jealous, man-stealing siren in the middle of New York’s Central Park. It features stories by me and Sholly Fisch (Scooby-Doo Team-Up, Mighty Mouse), art by Eliseu Gouveia (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0), comic-art legend Ernie Colon (Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld), and Elizabeth Watasin (Charm School), and cover art by award-winning artist Henar Torinos (Mala Estrella).

Lorelei: Sects and the CityLorelei: Sects and the City is a Mature Readers graphic novel in which Lori battles a cult of Elder God worshipers attempting to unleash hell on Earth. Basically a love letter to 1970s horror comics like Vampirella, Tomb of Dracula, and Ghost Rider, it’s written by yours truly, and illustrated by Eliseu Gouveia (Vengeance of the Mummy, Lady Death), Steve Geiger (Web of Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk), and Neil Vokes (Flesh and Blood, Fright Night). It also features a cover by legendary artist Esteban Maroto (Vampirella, Zatanna, Lady Rawhide) and a frontispiece by original Vampirella artist Tom Sutton (Ghost Rider, Man-Thing, Werewolf by Night).

seadragon_lrg_cov_revThe Chronicles of the Sea Dragon Special is a digital pirate-fantasy comic created and written by Richard C. White, coauthor of SWC’s supernatural-superhero graphic novel Troubleshooters, Incorporated: Night Stalkings. Drawn by Bill Bryan (artist of Caliber Press’ Dark Oz and DC Comics’ House of Mystery), and featuring cover art and color by Eliseu Gouveia (SWC’s The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual), it’s 48 pages of high-seas adventure perfect for fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise, as well as classics like The Crimson Pirate, Against All Flags, Captain Blood, and The Sea Hawk.

troubleshooters_lrg_coverTroubleshooters, Incorporated: Night Stalkings is a general readers’ graphic novel about a group of supernatural-superheroes-for-hire taking on their first case. The team consists of a wizard, a female ninja, a sorceress, a werewolf, and a rock ’n’ roll lighting designer wearing high-tech armor. Sure, they might not be on a power level with the Avengers or Justice League of America—they’re more like superpowered Ghostbusters—but they get the job done. The graphic novel is written by the husband-and-white team of Richard C. White (Terra Incognito: A Guide to Building the Worlds of Your Imagination, For a Few Gold Pieces More: Tales of the Rogue With No Name) and Joni M. White, and illustrated by Reggie Golden and Randy Zimmerman.

King_Kong_LG_CoverKing Kong is our e-book-exclusive Illustrated Classics edition of the 1932 novelization of the renowned motion picture. Written by Delos W. Lovelace, based on the story by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper and the screenplay by James A. Creelman and Ruth Rose, the SWC edition of King Kong features scenes that didn’t appear in the final cut of the film—including the notorious “spider pit” sequence in which Kong’s human pursuers are attacked by horrific arachnids and insects. What makes our version special is that it contains six exclusive, original black-and-white illustrations by comics artist Paul Tuma, whose pulp-influenced style has appeared in the pages of The Twilight Avenger, Flare, and Dan Turner: Hollywood Detective.

Christmas in July runs through July 31, so head over to the StarWarp Concepts publisher page at DriveThru Fiction and start your summer-reading shopping!

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The Doctor and Bill Potts Still Have Stories To Tell…

DoctorWho12th5Over at the news site Comics for Sinners you’ll find my review of Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor: Year 3 #5, now on sale from Titan Comics. Written by Richard Dinnick (Doctor Who: Underwater War) and illustrated by Brian Williamson (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor, Vol. 1: Gaze of the Medusa), it kicks off a new adventure for the twelfth iteration (played by Peter Capaldi) of the immortal time-traveler—and features the comic-book debut of the Doctor’s most recent companion, Bill Potts (played by Pearl Mackie)! The timing (as it were) couldn’t be better for Whovians like me, as Bill departed the series in memorable fashion in “The Doctor Falls,” the Series 10 finale that aired on July 1—but now she’s back! Head over to C4S to learn more.

Speaking of immortals who protect the Earth from monsters, have you met Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin, the 400-year-old, shape-shifting monster hunter who acts as mentor to teenaged Goth adventuress Pandora Zwieback in my young adult novel series The Saga of Pandora Zwieback? Pan is a 16-year-old Goth girl who’s spent the last decade being treated for mental health problems because she can see monsters. It’s only after she meets Annie that Pan discovers she’s never been ill—her so-called “monstervision” is actually a supernatural gift that allows her to see into Gothopolis, the not-so-mythical shadow world that exists right alongside the human world. You’ll find Annie battling evil in the following titles:

pandoracomic-coverLGThe Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0: A free, downloadable comic that serves as an introduction to Pan and Annie—with an 8-page story written by me and illustrated by Eliseu Gouveia—as well as Pan’s first novel, Blood Feud (via a pair of preview chapters).

Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1: This critically acclaimed novel is the beginning of Pan’s story, explaining how she, her parents and friends, and Annie are drawn into a conflict among warring vampire clans searching for the key to an ultimate weapon (or so the legend goes)—a key that just so happens to have been delivered to the horror-themed museum owned by Pan’s father. It’s a character-driven action-fest that leads immediately into the second novel:

Blood-Reign-FinalCvrBlood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2: Pan and Annie face even greater challenges as the vampire clans draw up plans to go to war with humanity. Leading the charge is a fallen angel named Zaqiel, whose previous attempt at subjugating the world was stopped by Annie—who, back in the day, was Zaqiel’s lover!

The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1: A spinoff from the novel series, this 56-page, full-color comic special finds the teenaged Goth adventuress battling vampires and a jealous, man-stealing siren. It features stories by me and Sholly Fisch (Scooby-Doo Team-Up), art by Eliseu Gouveia (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0), comic-art legend Ernie Colon (Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld), and Elizabeth Watasin (Charm School), and cover art by award-winning artist Henar Torinos (Mala Estrella).

Blood Feud, Blood Reign, and the Pan Annual are available in print and digital formats. Pandora Zwieback #0 is a digital exclusive. Visit their respective product pages for ordering information, as well as sample pages and chapters.

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Who Are…Gabriel Grub and the Goblins?

gabriel-grub-cvr“Short tales to appease your monstrous hunger for suspense” is how we describe SWC Horror Bites, a series of digest-sized done-in-one stories and short-story collections that will be available in print and e-book formats exclusively from the StarWarp Concepts webstore, and at the conventions we’ll be attending next year.

The series, a mix of new and classic horror stories, kicked off this past February with Clemence Annie Housman’s White Fell—The Werewolf. And, as I told you a couple of days ago, the second title will be Tales to Sorta Tremble By, a 13-story collection available in time for Halloween.

In December, we’ll be releasing Gabriel Grub and the Goblins, a yuletide tale by Charles Dickens, the legendary author of A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, and David Copperfield (among others).

“The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton” (also known as “The Goblins and the Sexton”) was first published in 1836 as a chapter of Dickens’s first serialized novel, The Pickwick Papers. It’s not nearly as famous as A Christmas Carol, but it does share the same theme of a bad-tempered loner being forced by supernatural intervention to learn the meaning of Christmas. Scrooge gets the spirits of Christmases past, present, and yet to come (plus the ghost of his old business partner, Marley); Grub gets the goblin king and his subjects.

As for our title change…well, there are three reasons. First, there was something about the triple-G alliterative quality—Gabriel, Grub, Goblins—that appealed to my inner Stan Lee (the real-life Mr. Lee having given us such character names as Peter Parker, Matt Murdock, Reed Richards, Betty Brant, and J. Jonah Jameson). On another level, I thought it had a Harry Potter–esque fantasy vibe that would catch the eye of potential readers. And lastly, most people today would probably have no idea what a sexton is, and might think it was either sextant—the nautical tool used for charting courses—or something related to intercourse.

Here’s the back-cover copy:

Ghosts aren’t the only supernatural creatures with the holiday spirit…

Gabriel Grub hates absolutely everything about Christmas—chestnuts roasting on open fires, yuletide carols being sung by a choir, the tidings of comfort and joy, the belief in peace on Earth and good will toward all men, even the figgy pudding. It’s all…well, if not humbug, then something pretty close to it.

What Gabriel Grub does enjoy, however, is digging graves—it’s not just one of his duties as a church sexton, it’s something that actually brings him a small measure of joy. So with a shovel in one hand and a bottle of gin in the other, he sets out one Christmas Eve to catch up on some work.

But as he will soon discover, the king of the goblins takes an extremely dim view of those who refuse to get into the holiday spirit.

It’s about to become a very memorable Christmas Eve for Gabriel Grub…

Gabriel Grub and the Goblins goes on sale on December 13 exclusively through the StarWarp Concepts webstore, and will be available in print and digital formats.

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King (Kong) of Home Entertainment

kong-skull-dvdHey, King Kong fans! In case you were unaware, today is the release date for the Blu-Ray and DVD editions of Kong: Skull Island, the blockbuster action flick that rebooted the ape king for twenty-first-century moviegoers and monster fans back in March. And that makes it a perfect time to remind you of our e-book-exclusive edition of the 1932 novelization of King Kong, which is on sale right now!

Written by Delos W. Lovelace, based on the story by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper and the screenplay by James A. Creelman and Ruth Rose, the SWC edition of King Kong features scenes that didn’t appear in the final cut of the film—including the notorious “spider pit” sequence in which Kong’s human pursuers are attacked by horrific arachnids and insects. What makes our version special is that it contains six exclusive, original black-and-white illustrations by comics artist Paul Tuma, whose pulp-influenced style has appeared in the pages of The Twilight Avenger, Flare, and Dan Turner: Hollywood Detective.

King_Kong_LG_CoverNot familiar with the beauty-and-the-beast story of Kong and his “love interest,” Ann Darrow (who was played in the 1933 original by the queen of the scream queens, Fay Wray)? Well, here’s our edition’s back-cover copy to bring you up-to-date:

Ann Darrow was a down-on-her-luck actress struggling to survive in Depression-era New York when she met moviemaker Carl Denham. He offered her the starring role in his latest film: a documentary about a long-lost island—and the godlike ape named Kong rumored to live there. Denham needed a beauty as a counterpart to the beast he hoped to find, and Ann was the answer to his prayers.

Mystery, romance, a chance to turn her life around, even the possibility of stardom—to Ann, it sounded like the adventure of a lifetime! But what she didn’t count on were the horrific dangers that awaited her on Skull Island—including the affections of a love-struck monster . . .

It’s also a good time to reintroduce you to the Simian Saturdays series of reviews I wrote for this blog to promote the e-book release. If you missed anything the first time, here’s your opportunity to catch up!

king_kong_ver7February 18: King Kong: The original Merian C. Cooper–produced, Ernest B. Schoedsack–directed classic, starring Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, and Bruce Cabot

February 25: King Kong: The Dino De Laurentiis–produced 1976 reboot, starring Jessica Lange, Jeff Bridges, and Charles Grodin

March 5: King Kong: Director Peter Jackson’s 2005 reboot, starring Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody, and Jack Black

March 11: Anthony Browne’s King Kong: A 1994 children’s book that adapted the original Kong, but with a twist

March 18: Kong: Skull Island: The latest cinematic reboot of the franchise, starring Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson, and John C. Reilly

March 25: Giant Classic King Kong: A 1968 comic-book adaptation published by Gold Key Comics

April 1: King Kong: The Original RKO-General Motion Picture Classic: An audio-drama adaptation originally released in the 1960s and ’70s as an album

King Kong (the SWC edition) is available right now for download, so visit its product page for ordering information.

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What Are…Tales to Sorta Tremble By?

“Short tales to appease your monstrous hunger for suspense” is how we describe SWC Horror Bites, a series of digest-sized done-in-one stories and short-story collections that will be available in print and e-book formats exclusively from the StarWarp Concepts webstore, and at the conventions we’ll be attending next year.

white_fell_large_book_cover2017The series, a mix of new and classic horror stories, kicked off this past February with White Fell—The Werewolf. If you’re unfamiliar with this story by Clemence Annie Housman—regarded by some literary scholars as perhaps the first feminist werewolf tale—here’s the back-cover copy from our edition:

A beautiful woman wanders into a snowbound village—and into the hearts of twin brothers, one of whom immediately becomes smitten by her.

The other brother, however, soon grows suspicious of the enigmatic White Fell. Where did she come from? Why does she always carry an ax? And is her sudden appearance somehow related to the recent sightings of a bloodthirsty wolf in the area?

He may come to regret being so inquisitive…

Tales-Sorta-Tremble-CvrIn October, we’ll be releasing our second title: Tales to Sorta Tremble By, a horror anthology of 13 mini tales that first appeared in 1950s comic books. Here’s the back-cover copy:

The Flower of Evil. Jardini’s Jaw. The Living Brain. The Walking Dead.

These, and many others, are the tales you’ve long forgotten—or never even heard of before. They were the text stories, sometimes written anonymously or pseudonymously, that 1950s comic book publishers inserted in each issue of their macabre series to meet postal mailing requirements in order to be considered magazines.

This collection spotlights a baker’s dozen of those time-lost terror shorts, so gather round the jack-o’-lantern and prepare to be a little bit shocked and a tiny bit horrified by these…TALES TO SORTA TREMBLE BY!

The contents of this anthology are: “The Walking Dead” (a zombie tale), “Jardini’s Jaw” (how can a jawbone talk when it doesn’t have the rest of the head attached to it?!), “The Lonely Place” (a haunted house), “Call for Claws” (kids vs. a homeless guy with a spellbook), “The Land of the Dead” (more of those damned zombies!), “Call of the Werewolf” (I think the title kind of says it all), “The Flower of Evil” (well, there’s this flower, and it’s evil—I’ve said too much!), “The Lady in Black” (a private eye tracks down a man for a mysterious woman), “The Living Brain” (mad scientists and brain transplants—never a good mix), “The Shadow in the Moonlight” (I’m not saying it’s vampires…but it’s vampires), “Death and the Maiden” (a woman attends a party and runs into…guess who?), “Just What the Doctor Ordered” (a study in psychological terror), and “The End of the Line” (sometimes those weird urban legends turn out to be true).

Tales to Sorta Tremble By goes on sale on October 13 (Friday the 13th!) exclusively through the StarWarp Concepts webstore, and will be available in print and digital formats.

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Take Your Stinking Paws Off Me, You Damn Dirty Blog!

Apes-Archives2With War for the Planet of the Apes—third in the mega-successful reboot of the film franchise that’s not only based on the 1963 science fiction novel by Pierre Boulle, but (according to director Matt Reeves) is a direct series of prequels to the classic 1968 Planet of the Apes film starring Charlton Heston—battling last weekend’s champion, Spider-Man: Homecoming, for box office supremacy, the time couldn’t be better to mention the work of one of SWC’s artistic stars.

Were you aware that painting legend and SWC contributor Bob Larkin is highly regarded among Planet of the Apes fans as one of the franchise’s greatest cover artists? He is! Back in the 1970s, when Marvel Comics had the license to produce PotA comics, Bob provided quite a number of covers for their black-and-white magazine series—and those paintings became much-sought-after collectibles. Not only that, but current comic license owner, BOOM! Studios, is reprinting those tales in deluxe hardcover collections—and the cover for volume 2 (seen here, and available this fall) is one of Bob’s classic paintings! (They also plan on using a long-lost painting that Bob did—one never published because the PotA magazine series was canceled just before he delivered it to Marvel!)

The Bob Larkin SketchbookAnd while we’re on the subject of Bob and his amazing work, perhaps you might like to check out The Bob Larkin Sketchbook, a collection of some of Bob’s incredible pencil drawings.

What you’ll discover when you see them is how wide-ranging his subjects are. Sci-fi, horror, Westerns, pulp adventure, crime fiction, movie merchandise, even wrestling stars—as we say on the book’s back cover, there really is little that he hasn’t painted. And the sketchbook features three pieces created especially for it: the Pandora Zwieback cover art; a portrait of Patricia Savage, the fightin’ cousin of pulp fiction’s top-tier adventurer, Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze; and a two-page spread in which Doc faces off against another Golden Age crimefighter—The Shadow!

The Bob Larkin Sketchbook is available in print and digital formats. Visit its product page for ordering information, as well as sample pages.

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Happy Birthday, Ernie Colon!

Ernie-Colon-CoversJuly seems to be Birthday Month in the ’Warp Central offices! Monday we celebrated cover painter Bob Larkin’s 68th birthday; and today, it’s comic-art legend Ernie Colon’s 86th!

I’ve known Ernie since the late 1990s, when I was the assistant editor at book packaging company Byron Preiss Visual Publications who’d been handed the editorial reins on a quartet of science-fiction anthology books for middle-grade (ages 8–12) readers. Ernie provided the cover art and interior illustrations for all four: Bruce Coville’s UFOs, Bruce Coville’s Alien Visitors, Bruce Coville’s Strange Worlds, and Bruce Coville’s Shapeshifters. (Bruce, in case you were unaware, is the award-winning author of the My Teacher is an Alien book series.) Ernie later did an illustration for The Ultimate Hulk, another anthology I wound up editing—and even he gave me the original art to keep!

But I was a fan of Ernie’s work long before that. He was the artist of DC Comics’ popular teen-fantasy comic, Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld and a truckload of titles for all manner of comic publishers during the course of his lengthy career. He’s drawn superheroes and adult fantasy characters, but what fans probably know him best for is his work on Harvey Comics’ kid-friendly Casper the Friendly Ghost and Richie Rich.

Most recently, he got a “special thanks to…” acknowledgment in the closing credits for the new box-office hit, Spider-Man: Homecoming! See, back in 1988, he and writer Dwayne McDuffie (who passed away in 2011) created Damage Control, the Marvel Comics crew that cleans up all the rubble and ruin generated by superhero battles—and they’ve now made their Marvel movie debut in the latest Spidey flick!

Oh, and he also did a little art wizardry for a little company called StarWarp Concepts…

In The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1, Ernie teamed up with fan-favorite comics writer (and my old college buddy) Sholly Fisch (Scooby-Doo Team-Up, Action Comics, The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold) to present “After Hours,” an eight-pager about a demon dropping in at his favorite watering hole after a hard day of scaring the crap out of folks. It’s a lighthearted character piece that Ernie told me he really enjoyed drawing, which meant a lot to Sholly, who’s also a longtime fan of his. You should definitely check it out, by ordering a copy today (said the publisher 😉 ).

The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1 is available in print and digital formats. Visit its product page for ordering information, as well as sample pages and chapters.

Ernie doesn’t have a website, so to see more of his amazing work, pay a visit to the incredibly detailed fan site, Ernie Colon Unlimited.

Happy birthday, Ernie!

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