Tag Archives: book

Me and The Boys

I wrote a superhero book.

Then I watched The Boys.

My first reaction: not happy.

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There was a lot in common between the two, and The Boys was definitely the 800 pound gorilla of the pair.

My second reaction: joy!

billy butcher smile 2

I’ve had a hard time describing my book, settling on the phrase ‘Grimdark Superhero’. Now I know that there is an audience for this. Do you like The Boys? Then you will like my novel CRITERION.

The Boys feels bold and innovative, not just for its brutality and shock value, but because it takes its premise seriously. The heroes and villains are more complicated than they seem. The relationships are messy, and the consequences are real. Those are the stories I am interested in, and that’s what you will find in my book.


Criterion is the world’s mightiest hero.

His sidekicks just found his body.

When the Criterion Cadets are shattered by the death of their idol, they drop their brave and plucky façade and become consumed by strife and jealousy.

The only thing keeping them together is terror. Once protected from on high, they are now vulnerable and alone. Can they cover up Criterion’s death and avoid a global meltdown? What hope do they have against an enemy that can kill anyone?

Who killed Criterion? Who will die next?

CRITERION cover Edited

Try the first 10 chapters free

Hear an audio excerpt and notes on the book here

and buy it here

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Punktown AF

Dark Regions Press presents TRANSMISSIONS FROM PUNKTOWN, a new anthology set in the weird, bleak, urban, shared world of Jeffrey Thomas. If you like your science fiction to feel lived in you will love Punktown. This book is an escape from the shiny plastic sets of the Star Wars prequels and a journey through the flesh and blood lives and grease and grime worlds you’ve seen in Blade Runner, The Expanse and yes, Mos Eisley.

Punktown is a coral reef, an accretion of bones, concrete, dreams and stories. In my entry, Less, Then Zero, a luckless thief has a scheme to trade places with one of the city’s anonymous, ever present labor clones.


Mik regained consciousness and tried to blink. He could not feel his eyelids. Do I still have my face? Or did the drugs wear off too soon? He imagined stumbling to the mirror to see a fleshless skull screaming back.

A robotic arm unspooled Kwik-Klot bandaging from his head. Each loop brought the world back in shades of red, from wine dark to scarlet to cherry-red.

He squinted at the harsh light of the body-mod shop and pushed the delicate auto-doc aside. He looked in the mirror. A stranger’s face looked back, the corners of its mouth twitching with a weak smile. It worked!

Mik gently touched his new face and winced, expecting pain, but the stolen flesh was numb. He bent his ear. The jailhouse tattoo tucked behind it, Gillen’s date of birth, was gone. In exchange he had a large, stylized ZERO inked across his scalp and forehead.

The auto-doc’s thin arms lifted a sterile tray holding Mik’s original face. No one had ever looked kindly on that portrait of failure. Even his own reflection had glared back with loathing.

“Flush it with the rest.” The auto-doc dumped the thin slice of flesh into a vat. It landed with a sticky slap upon a naked, faceless corpse.

The lid of the vat squealed shut and filled with caustic chemicals. Mik pried it open with one hand. Blistering fumes and the stench of dissolving meat stung his eyes. He gripped the auto-doc, uprooted it from its base station, and shoved it down.

The vat flushed. Corroded robot parts and melting bones rattled down the gurgling pipes. He zipped up the clone’s jumpsuit. The perfect crime, at last. Here’s to many more.


Transmissions from Punktown is available for pre-order now! Get the ebook, paperback or hardcover from Dark Regions Press here.

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The Real Shogun of the Dark

I’ve reviewed some early grim/dark comics and prose, but the real shogun of the dark? That honorific goes to the anime classic NINJA SCROLL.

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Read my review here on Ed Erdelac’s blog DELIRIUM TREMENS.

If you want more desperate heroes, over the top action and freaky villains you should check out my new book Criterion.

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Evil Mr. Potato Head

I’ve often described my new novel CRITERION as a ‘Grimdark superhero’ story. I did not set out to chase a certain tone or style, it merely followed from the concept – ‘When a super hero is murdered, what happens to his sidekicks?”

I’d like to share and review some of my influences to celebrate the release of my new book CRITERION.


 

Before we stop making mine Marvel, let’s go out on a high note with Terror, Inc.

Terror_Inc_01_cover

Coldsteel, is that you?

Terror, aka Shreck, is a whiskered green ghoul with the ability to rip off limbs and attach them to his own rotting body. An accomplished DIY body hacker, he has lived for over a thousand years and crossed from the Epic Comics imprint to the Marvel main stage.

Terror-Inc CU

He kept a cache of special limbs in freezers to customize his body as each mission required, and in the heat of battle often scavenged what was necessary. Along with each borrowed part came memory and personality traits. Body Parts, the movie about a man who receives an evil transplant from a serial killer came out around the same time. Coincidence?

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He worked as a hitman for the mob as well as a freelancer, teaming up with surprisingly vanilla heroes like Spidey, Wolverine and the Punisher as well as small timers like Luke Cage, Silver Sable and (ugh) Darkhawk. His rogues gallery was packed full of freaks like Piranha Jones and (ahem) Priapus.

The books ran on gore, body horror and dark humor. Sometimes Terror wore a spiffy trench coat and fedora, sometimes he dressed up like Santa Claus and laughed as he burned people alive.

TerrorInc08-Santa

How dark? Contents include: dismemberment, body horror, demons and impersonating Santa to commit murder.

Have a favorite dark comic book you think people should know about? Drop a comment and let me know.

CRITERION is available now from Crossroad Press in print and digital at

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P.S.: It’s fitting that terror was one of the first and most obscure modded action figures I ever saw.

terror figure

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Don’t forget to burn

I’ve often described my new novel CRITERION as a ‘Grimdark superhero’ story. I did not set out to chase a certain tone or style, it merely followed from the concept – ‘When a super hero is murdered, what happens to his sidekicks?”

I’d like to share some of my influences to celebrate the release of my upcoming book CRITERION.


Spider-Man had me wrapped up in Marvel’s web for a long time, especially with the alien symbiote saga and its creepy crazy villain Venom. I asked my father to photocopy pictures of Venom so I could put them around my room. I was in deep. What’s better than Spider-Man? An evil Spider-Man that wants to EAT Spider-Man!

Perhaps Kraven’s Last Hunt affected me more than I realized.

But like all great villains he outshined (over shadowed?) the hero, and by the arcane rules of capitalism and the comics code authority, had to be promoted in his own spin offs and cross over events, remade as a hero. A ‘lethal protector’, if you will. It was the heel-face turn that ended my obsession with Marvel comics.

Vrrroooommmm Vrrooooommmmm

What’s that, Marvel? Got something cool and edgy to woo me back? I kinda doubt…

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Holy Crap!

Ghost rider was the perfect guide into the dark corners of the Marvel universe. A spirit of vengeance, it possessed a young man to hunt bad guys with a spiked fist, a chain and a bitchin’ hellfire powered motorcycle. His enemies included assassins, ninjas and demons and he crossed paths with the freaky horror characters of the 70s, like Morbius the Living Vampire and my beloved Blade the dhampir. With the Midnight Sons, he fought an evil little person unleashing hell with the Darkhold, Marvel’s own Lovecraftian grimoire. I heart you, Ghost Rider.

How dark? Sometimes it was literally hard to see! Penciler Javier Saltares, Inker Mark Texeira and Colourist Gregory Wright bathed everything in black. Contents include: Demonic possession, face melting immolation, hell fire, flaming skulls, vengeance, suicide and murder.

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Who needs to change in a phone booth when you have innocent blood and a skull wreathed in hellfire?

Have a favorite dark comic book you think people should know about? Drop a comment and let me know.

CRITERION is now available from Crossroad Press in print and digital

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Google Play

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iTunes

P.S. : James O’Barr’s The Crow preceded the Ghost Rider reboot, but I didn’t find that spirit of vengeance until I had access to better comic book shops. I loved the book, movie and soundtrack. Imagine my surprise when I heard this Henry Rollins song:

 

 

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Memoirs from the Dark Age

I’ve often described my new novel CRITERION as a ‘Grimdark superhero’ story. I did not set out to chase a certain tone or style, it merely followed from the concept – ‘When a super hero is murdered, what happens to his sidekicks?”

If I had to dissect the influences that lead me to the idea, the bloody trail would probably lead back to the comic book explosion of the 1990s. Funny book weren’t just for kids anymore. They became brooding, dark and edgy, and thus irresistible to a teenage mind (plus a metric ton of vampire novels, but I digress).

It was a great and terrible time of crossover events, special collector’s edition foil stamped variant covers (I still have my glow-in-the-dark Ghost Riders) and a plague of unnecessary FIRST! issues. This bloat and excess eventually collapsed like bloated things do, with the ‘tryhard’ edge-lord comics devolving into self-parody.

edgelord 2

Okay, maybe not this bad

Still, my unholy appetite was whetted and I eventually found my way to masterpieces like Alan Moore’s WATCHMEN and Frank Miller’s THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. I’ll always love Spidey, but I like my fiction like my coffee and chocolate: DARK.

Over the next few days I’m going to review some noteworthy influences to celebrate the release of my new book CRITERION.

Marvel delivered some entertaining stuff, like the rebooted Ghost Rider, Thanos’ quest for the Infinity Gauntlet and the demonic crossover event ‘Inferno’.

The arc with the most impact for me, personally, was ‘Kraven’s Last Hunt’. It was a real shock to see my favorite hero Spidey get out-smarted and outgunned by a minor villain with a rifle and a flair for leopard skin vests. The hero and villain were both rendered as flawed human beings, struggling with their own mortality and identity.

Kraven's_Last_Hunt

by J.M. DeMatteis, Mike Zeck and Bob McLeod

How dark? Contents include: gorging on spiders, live burial, drug induced mania and suicide.

kraven chomp

He’s Kraven some spiders.

Have a favorite dark comic book you think people should know about? Drop a comment and let me know.

CRITERION is available now from Crossroad Press in print and digital

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Google Play

Smashwords

iTunes

P.S. : Liefeld is in on the joke now. pouchWe love you Rob, keep rockin’ those pre-ripped, acid washed 501 jeans.

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Delta Green: Extraordinary Renditions now available

DG Extraordinary Renditions cover

My short story Le Pain Maudit is now available in an anthology of all new mythos fiction from Arc Dream Publishing.

These are 18 case histories ranging from the late 1940s to present day by some of the most popular writers in the horror and RPG field.

Here is the table of contents

  • “The Color of Dust” by Laurel Halbany.
  • “PAPERCLIP” by Kenneth Hite.
  • “A Spider With Barbed-Wire Legs” by Davide Mana.
  • “Le Pain Maudit” by Jeff C. Carter.
  • “Cracks in the Door” by Jason Mical.
  • “Ganzfeld Gate” by Cody Goodfellow.
  • “Utopia” by David Farnell.
  • “The Perplexing Demise of Stooge Wilson” by David J. Fielding.
  • “Dark” by Daniel Harms.
  • “Morning in America” by James Lowder.
  • “Boxes Inside Boxes” and “The Mirror Maze” by Dennis Detwiller.
  • “A Question of Memory” by Greg Stolze.
  • “Pluperfect” by Ray Winninger.
  • “Friendly Advice” by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan.
  • “Passing the Torch” by Adam Scott Glancy.
  • “The Lucky Ones” by John Scott Tynes.
  • “Syndemic” and an introduction by Shane Ivey.

I have been a fan of Delta Green since the U.S. military stormed the blighted town at the end of ‘Shadow Over Innsmouth’. The paradigm of military vs. monsters is thrilling because we think monsters aren’t real. When you delve deeper into the military and intelligence side, however, the ground does not get more stable. The secrets you learn do not make you feel safer. This is a world of paranoia and murder. This is the real world, where even now people with unlimited budgets are scrambling to invent the next existential threat before ‘the other side’ can.

My story follows from two disturbing chapters in recent history. The first was the revelation of the CIA’s Project MKULTRA, which attempted to develop mind control techniques that they tested on innocent people without their consent.

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The second was the strange tragedy known as ‘Le Pain Maudit’, the outbreak of mass hallucinations that ravaged a small French village in 1951. Some theorize that the local baker’s bread was contaminated by ergot fungus. There are clues, however, that suggest the CIA had dosed the town with LSD.

other headline

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Here is an excerpt from Le Pain Maudit:

Frank, Gerhard and John stood shoulder to shoulder, watching through the two-way mirror. Edward was negotiating with Monsieur Tatin over wine, cheese and bread. John filmed the proceedings with a purring film camera.

Frank idly scratched his pen on the metal clipboard balanced on his forearm while he observed the German. Gerhard marked his log each time Tatin took a bite or sip. He checked a stop watch and smiled.

“Any moment now.”

Frank pulled off his headphones and whispered.

“What did you dose him with?”

Shwarzlotos.”

“Black lotus?”

Ja, a potent hallucinogen. It enhances the truth-serum effects of LSD.”

A crash from the main room turned their heads.

Monsieur Tatin had dropped his wine glass and stumbled against the wall. Edward eased him into a chair.

“Relax, monsieur. It’s all right.”

Je suis désolé, I do not feel so well. I just….”

Monsieur Tatin twisted to stare into the firelight. His eyes had dilated into gaping black holes.

“How are you feeling, monsieur? What do you see?”

Clermond Farrand

The Frenchman licked his wine-stained lips and wavered.

“A black temple…with spires that reach the stars. It’s impossible. So vast. So ancient!”

Gerhard’s scratching pen fell silent. Frank looked over. The German had closed his eyes in an expression like prayer.

Tatin gripped the edge of the table and shook.

“I’m being pulled inside. I’m sinking! In the crypts, they dwell…fungal things…silently waiting. I’m frightened! They know I am there! They know!”

He spewed a stream of bile across the table and collapsed. Edward hurried over and checked his pulse.

            “Monsieur?”

Tatin looked around with blurry, bloodshot eyes. His pupils were returning to normal. He finally noticed Edward standing over him.

“What happened?”

“We drank too much, monsieur. Let me walk you home.”

John turned off the recording equipment. Frank pretended to finish his notes while watching Gerhard. The German gathered the remaining food and wine with great reverence, like a priest handling sacraments.

Frank stepped out of the bedroom and waved a pen.

“Was that a success or a failure, Herr Doktor?”

~

Follow this link to buy the book in a variety of formats

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