Growing up, I was consuming comic books by the pound, expanding my consumption to include science fiction, fantasy and superhero far on film and television. This widened to include fiction and it was the summer of 1970 I was introduced to Conan the Barbarian. From fanzine pieces, I gathered he was from pulp magazines, something I’d heard about but knew little.
It wasn’t long before that was corrected and I gained a new pantheon of heroes to enjoy, thanks to the paperback reprints of Doc Savage, the Shadow, and Conan. Those Frank Frazetta covers were certainly arresting.
Ever since, I have enjoyed reading the occasional pulp tale, thanks a lot to Anthony Tollin’s Sanctum Books repackaging of Doc, Shadow, Black Bat, the Whisperer, and others. I’ve even come to celebrate the golden age of pulps with my Thrilling Adventure Yarns books.
And it was clear that before the pulps were the adventures of others in pulp precursors, magazines on both sides of the Atlantic. As a result, the fictional heroes grew exponentially for me. With time, many of these have fallen into the public domain, ripe for use.
Somehow, though, when the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers proposed the notion of Turning the Tied, an anthology of PD heroes, I missed the announcement. I still don’t know how that happened.
In September, I finally caught up the event and began to inquire if it was too late to participate. Jean Rabe, the editor, not only welcomed me aboard, she asked me to co-edit with her. Obviously, herding cats was more fun when two try it together. I was shown the roster and characters already spoken for and had to figure out who was left and who could spark an idea.
The Internet provided several lists of PD heroes, heroines, villains, and the like. I scrolled through, clicking hyperlinks to read up on the less familiar ones. This is how I found Dr. Nikola.
Who, you ask? Well, he was the first super-villain to pal around with a cat, something that’s a direct link from the beginning of the 20th century to Ernst Stavro Blofeld and his white cat. This was a villain, a menace to society who was once quite popular in the magazines. He was a product of the incredibly prolific and once very popular Australian writer Guy Boothby.
His exploits were collected in five novels and apparently his status quo evolved so I settled with research and reading the fifth novel, seemingly concluding his story. But what if…
I took what was known and wondered if the man who sought immortality actually succeeded? And if so, why? What did he need to live forever to accomplish? With those questions rattling in my mind, I conjured up a story.
Meantime, Jean and I took turns doing the first read of each story as it came in, and then we began figuring out the running order. As it turns out, Jean had all sorts of research at her fingertips which helped figure out how to open and close the book. We gathered all the stories, I put them in order, decided each tale needed context, a paragraph or so explaining the background for those unfamiliar with Jules Verne or Barsoom or Lovecraft. Jean worked with our cover designer Kathleen Hardy and my old pal, D.J. Stevenson, who executed the publication design.
Our last act was to organize a blog tour so we could properly promote the book since it was designed as a charity fundraiser for the World Literacy Foundation. Jean asked me to write this piece for Book Release Day.
I think the book is chock full of entertainment, with characters from across the years and cultures. It was a pleasure to assemble and I truly hope you buy a copy to support a worthy cause and have a good read at the same time.
Previous Stops Along the Blog Tour
- Mashella Rockwell
- Keith R.A. DeCandido 1
- Keith R.A. DeCandido 2
- Keith R.A. DeCandido 3
- Max Allan Collins
- D.J. Stevenson
- Jean Rabe … Q & A with Keith DeCandido
- Marsheila Rockwell on Jenn Brozek’s Tell Me
- Kelli Fitzpatrick
- Ben Rome: Will McDermott
- Ben Rome: Marcy Rockwell
- Steven Paul Leiva
- Nancy Holder
- Ben Rome: Ben Rome
- Keith DeCandido
- Greg Cox guest posting on Jean Rabe’s blog
#Tags: Anthony Tollin, Conan the Barbarian, D.J. Stevenson, Dr. Nikola, Frank Frazetta, International Association of Media Tie-In Writers, Jean Rabe, Sanctum Books, Turning the Tied, World Literacy Foundation