Project updates on Avenger, Kill All Monsters, and Christmas Carol

Proofed my story and wrote my bio for the Avenger anthology last week. It’s exciting to see that book coming closer and closer to being a real, physical object. The Mike Kaluta art above isn’t from the book, it’s from The Golden Age site, but it’s a nice representation of the Avenger’s heritage and where he deserves to sit in the pantheon of pulp hero deity.

Got back some comments from James Powell (my editor) on the ending to Kill All Monsters. I thought I had a nice, dramatic ending for it, but that was until I read James’ ideas on how to make it better. I’m giving myself a week to think through how best to implement them, but it’s going to improve the book dramatically once I do.

I don’t want to quit writing while I’m thinking about KAM, so I started working on something that I’d planned to save for later, a comics adaptation of A Christmas Carol with my friend and frequent collaborator Jessica Hickman. I’m talking about it against my better judgment, because I’ve learned the hard way that a thousand things can go wrong with any project and it’s usually best to wait until things are done and official before blabbing about them.

This project’s a little different though, mostly because it’s a labor of love. Jess and I are both doing it because we’re passionate about the story and want to do a definitive version of it. As long as I’m critiquing other versions, I want to put my money where my mouth is and figure out what a perfect version would look like for me. Jess does too.

So expect to see more about this as we go. I’d like to chart our progress and capture lessons learned, including what happens after the story’s completed and we need to get it into public. I imagine that we’ll pitch it to some publishers, but we both want to see this thing enough that we’ll self-publish it if need be. That’s becoming easier and easier to do these days.

A dark and stormy night

Still working on getting the Kill All Monsters Kickstarter ready, but that’s a joint effort that’s required the juggling of multiple people’s schedules. Meaning that I’ve been able to squeeze in some actual writing here and there. I’ve finished my re-write of the next-to-last chapter of KAM and with any luck I’ll be done with the whole thing by this time next week.

The new thing I did last week though was to finish up a short story for a comic anthology. Don’t wanna say more until it’s been approved, but it’s a thriller and (as the title of this post suggests) takes place in an isolated, old mansion on a dark and stormy night. I like how it turned out, so fingers crossed that the editor will too.

(Image via Papergreat)

Kill All Monsters: The Banner (and Forbidden Island)

If you’re trying to spot Jason at Emerald City, C2E2, or any of the other shows he’s going to, this is what you’re looking for. It’ll be looming over his table like a… well, like a giant robot. Can’t wait to sit beneath it at C2E2.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that Jason and I are going to be at C2E2 with copies of Kill All Monsters, Volume 1: Ruins of Paris. Yes, we are.

In mostly unrelated news, the Forbidden Island story I mentioned a couple of weeks ago is a go for the anthology I wrote it for. More details about that as official announcements are made, but I’m excited that the editor liked it.

The Forbidden Island

This is exactly what I look like when I’m writing.

I hate when other people write posts like this, so I apologize, but I spent a heck of a lot of time writing actual fiction last week and want to stop and celebrate for a minute. I turned in a short story for a prose anthology that I’m looking forward to talking about more later if the editor doesn’t hate it. Hopefully he won’t because it’s about a missing woman, a forbidden island, a sinister industrialist, and a heroic pilot. And I had a blast writing it.

We’ll call it “The Forbidden Island” for now, because that’s how original I am with titles. If it actually makes it to publication, I’ll reveal more.

I co-wrote a movie. Wanna see?

If you’ve got nine minutes and want to see a musical, modern-day Western that I had something to do with (featuring geeks vs. bikers), here’s your hook-up.

The film was made in 48 hours as part of the Minneapolis 48 Hour Film Project. My sister was the production manager and she invited me to join her on the writing team with her friend Erin. I had a blast doing it.

Got a New Book Coming | The Avenger: Roaring Heart of the Crucible

I’ve got a story in the upcoming Avenger anthology: Roaring Heart of the Crucible. Not Marvel or Mrs. Peel, but the Avenger; singular.

He’s a classic pulp character from the ’40s, created by the guys who created Doc Savage and The Shadow, and written mostly by a man named Paul Ernst. The Avenger has a powerfully touching origin story in which his wife and small daughter are passionlessly murdered in an unbelievably horrifying way, simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Unlike, say, Batman, where that tragedy is usually played out in a few panels, the first Avenger story is all about his attempt to uncover what happened, take his revenge, and come to terms with his own role in their deaths. That last part may be mostly in subtext, but it’s heart-wrenching stuff nevertheless.

The Avenger doesn’t actually go by that name in the stories I’ve read. His real name is Richard Benson and that’s pretty much what people call him. He gathers together a small team of like-minded people who’ve also been treated unjustly by criminals and they form an organization called Justice, Inc. They all have their areas of expertise, so it’s kind of like a super team, though only Benson has what you might call super powers.

Due to the shock of losing his family, Benson’s lost all pigment in his skin and hair, and his facial muscles have been paralyzed. He’s able to do this thing where he can move his face around with his fingers and change his appearance. That’s tough to explain scientifically, but before he became the Avenger, Benson was kind of wealthy, globe-trotting, Indiana Jones-like adventurer, so I imagine that something he encountered in those days combined with his shock to give him his ability. I wonder if anyone’s told that story. I still have a lot of Avenger reading to do.

What fascinates me about the character is the theme of emotional vulnerability. He has so much rage and hurt inside him, but he’s physically incapable of expressing it. I’m intrigued by how that affects his team, who have their own heartaches, but seem to follow Benson’s lead in keeping that stuff swallowed up.

My story takes place really early in Justice, Inc.’s career, just after my favorite member of the team has joined. Her name is Nellie Gray and she’s an awesome butt-kicker with a deceptively fragile appearance. She’s also my emotional hook into the team, so I wanted to tell a story from before she’s fully assimilated. If I get the chance to write other Avenger stories, I’d love to follow her some more and explore how Benson’s team affects the way she expresses herself and relates to people.

Not that it’s all character stuff for me. This is a pulp hero after all, so there’s also plenty of action and a string of robberies committed by a murderous, bulletproof scarecrow.

Anyway, the book comes out in March and has stories by lots of cool writers: Matthew Baugh, James Chambers, Greg Cox, Win Scott Eckert, CJ Henderson, Matthew Mayo, Will Murray, Bobby Nash, Mel Odom, Barry Reese, Chris Sequeira, John Small, and David White. It’ll be over 300 pages of Avenger action for only $19 (less than $13 on Amazon). There’s also going to be a limited edition hardcover for $33.

Here’s how Moonstone describes the collection:

The greatest crime-fighter of the 40’s returns in a third thrilling collection of original action-packed tales of adventure, intrigue, and revenge. Life was bliss for millionaire adventurer Richard Henry Benson until that fateful day crime and greed took away his wife and young daughter…and turned him into something more than human.

Driven by loss, compelled by grief, he becomes a chilled impersonal force of justice, more machine than man, dedicated to the destruction of evildoers everywhere. A figure of ice and steel, more pitiless than both, Benson has been forged into an avatar of vengeance, possessed of superhuman genius supernormal power. His frozen face and pale eyes, like a polar dawn, only hint at the terrible force the underworld heedlessly invoked upon itself the day they created…The Avenger!

Quote of the Day | The Writer at the Bar

By way of explaining what I’ve been doing today instead of blogging:

Michael Moorcock once commented that the man hanging around in the bar at night telling people he’s a writer is not a writer, because if he were a writer he’d be at home writing.

Warren Ellis.

I’m at home writing; finishing the Neal McDonough story. Have a great weekend, everyone!

(Image via Polished)

Writing Update | The Neal McDonough story

I’m just about finished with that jungle girl story I told you about and after that I’ve got to work on one for a character I can’t talk about, but would be played brilliantly by Neal McDonough if someone were ever to do a movie version.

I’m sorry that’s all I have today. Still cramming for the Neal McDonough story (as I’m now thinking of it) by reading the character’s original adventures. After that I’ve got two more pulp stories and a short comic for a suspense anthology to write. I love being busy; the challenge is to keep it all organized. Wish me luck.

Writing update | Monsters killed; girl needs jungle

Just a quick writing update today. Last week I finished the first draft of the complete script for Kill All Monsters. Or for the first volume of Kill All Monsters, anyway. I’m not saying whether or not the Kill Team succeeds in its mission to take out all the monsters, but I will say that there’s definitely room for a sequel if the first book does well. That first book is a complete story though, with a definite end, and that end is now written. That’s a huge deal for me.

Our editor, James Powell is looking over the draft and there will be rewriting, but in the meantime, I’m able to move on to others things. I have four projects in the queue and the first is a short text story for a jungle girl anthology. I don’t want to say what it’s about yet, but I will say that the book’s editor sent me the above Alberto Vargas painting with a note that it reminded him of my story. And I can totally see why.