Megatrain Boarding Call

I’m in the reaction chamber with Phil Elmore, action-adventure author and editor of the upcoming anthology Spirit of St. Louis, a collection of flash fiction revolving around a post-apocalyptic future where incredible roaming megatrains have taken the place of cities. The setting visuals are described as “art-deco steampunk”, and each 1000 word flash fiction entry will be illustrated by a tarot card style painting by John “Johnny Atomic” Jackson. Elmore has issued a general call for entries into this particular project and the planned series that it preludes.

Just as a bonus, we also kick around some other projects going on at League Entertainment, including Duke Manfist: the Justifier, and Phil’s upcoming project “Augments”. We share our thoughts on some of the problems and unique joys of being an anthology editor, and the vital role of imagery and artwork in selling a written work.

Critical Press Media has also issued a call for manuscripts for two new Benefit Projects to be compiled over the summer: “Miracles”, and “Forerunner”. More information about both of those can be found on the submissions page of the Critical Press Media site.

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Asgardian Box Office

Curtis and I gather round the coffee table to kick around Thor. Not harshly, mind, but we do feel that it needs to be kicked a bit. I really wanted to like this movie in the same way that I like Iron Man or the Incredible Hulk. Unfortunately, the result was somewhat lackluster – with a story that just didn’t live up to the potential of its characters. Nevertheless, there is a great deal of good stuff going on in this movie, and we found it to be an acceptable offering, if not a particularly outstanding one.

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Violent Chick-Lit

If you’ve missed the media hype surrounding Suzanne Collins’ dystopian sci-fi trilogy “The Hunger Games”, then you may in fact consider yourself fortunate. The guys and I sit around the round table and break down the trilogy of novels, including spoiling the plot and determining that the target audience is in fact – chicks. You’ll get plenty of warning and the magic of podcasting so that you can actually read the books if you still desire to do so. If not, check out the full scoop on this violently dystopian sci-fi beststeller. Also, head over to the Two-Fisted Blogger and check out my review on his site, as well as other articles about dude-lit.

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Stony Man Teamwork

Since I can’t seem to gain access to the top secret installation of Stony Man Farm near Shenandoah National Park, I find it every bit as cool to spend a half-hour in the company of Phil Elmore. For the past several years, Elmore has ghost written Executioner novels for Gold Eagle publishing, including the Stony Man series, his second entry of which hits the shelves in February.

Elmore is a professional writer, offering a variety of services through his website, philelmore.com. He also publishes the Martialist, an online magazine concerned with self-defense as “the inalienable right of every human being”. Elmore writes a variety of columns on a variety of subjects for a variety of publishers, some of which are detailed on the front page of his website.

He was kind enough to take a break from his current novel and speak with me over the phone about writing the Executioner novels, characterization within series fiction, and some of his other work. Check his website for articles, links, and more – including a dramatic reading of his Western zombie short story Dead Man’s Hand.

Show links:

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Public Enemies

A tale of loyalty and unlikely friendship featuring two of the most famous super-heroes on the planet, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies pairs the Man of Steel with the Dark Knight.  The iconic heroes unite when President Lex Luthor accuses Superman of terrible crimes against humanity and assembles a top-secret team of powerhouse heroes to bring Superman in.  But the “World’s Finest” duo are determined to topple the corrupt president’s reign once and for all!

-from the ad copy on the back cover of the trade paperback edition

Perspective: I picked up issue one of the new series Superman/Batman with hope that the adoption of the Kids WB Superman/Batman logo from the Saturday morning adventure hour heralded the same kind of storyteling, glanced at the clean, manga-esque interior art by Ed McGuinness, and finally noticed Jeph Loeb’s name in the writer’s credit.  I put the book down and walked quickly away.  Loeb’s excellent thriller Batman: the Long Halloween had made enough of an impression in my mind that I also purchased the overly sentimental Superman For All Seasons by the same creative team.  After that disappoinment, Jim Lee’s astounding art coupled with the promise of another detective thriller lured me into the twelve-part Hush – densely packed with guest-stars, nonsensical plot device, and held together by author’s fiat.  It wasn’t until issue seven centered on Superboy and Robin that I reluctantly acquired the back-issues; at that I point I felt morally compelled to at least purchase the book until the story-arc had been completed.  Twenty-five issues later, I want my money back.

Surprisingly, when Green Lantern: First Flight included a teaser for this project, I couldn’t wait to see the translation to animation.  I expected a clean adaptation of Ed McGuinness’ spectacular and dynamic artwork accompanied by a team of editors to turn Loeb’s poorly plotted showcase of his partner’s artistic talent into a massive brawl wherein the World’s Finest take turns whuppin’ up on a parade of guest stars.  Time for popcorn.

Background: The “World’s Finest” team of Superman and Batman have appeared in one form or another as friends and allies in adventure since 1941.  The two characters share an iconic status in the pantheon of DC heroes, and it is this status rather than equality of ability that has them joined at the hip in graphic literature.  The so-called “contrasting characterization” is a relatively recent innovation, as the heroes shared virtually identical story structures even into the 1980’s: villain appears; villain confounds hero; hero uses deus ex machina to restore the status quo.  These characters have not been used consistently in this fashion, nor in any continuing shared publication, since DC reorganized their internal continuity of story in 1984.

Following the success of adapting Darwyn Cooke’s Justice League: the New Frontier from graphic novel to animation, the adaptation of other best-selling publications seemed only natural.  Superman/Batman: Public Enemies presented an opportunity to use multiple DC character properties without attaching the words “Crisis” or “Justice League” to the project.

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Hunt for Adventure

From the towers of Manhattan to the jungles of South America, from the sands of the Sahara to the frozen crags of Antarctica, one man finds adventure everywhere he goes:

GABRIEL HUNT

Backed by the resources fo the $100 million Hunt Foundation and armed with his trusty Colt revolver, Gabriel Hunt has always been ready for anything – but is he prepared to enter . . .

The Cradle of Fear

When a secret chamber is discovered inside the Great Sphinx of Egypt, the mystery of its contents will lead Gabriel to a rmote Greek island, to a stone fortress in Sri Lanka . . and to a deadly confrontation that could decide the fate of the world!

Perspective: Although the flavor text set the novel in my shopping cart, it was the cover art that made me pick it up.  This book looks like a pulp-era adventure story.  I expected Indiana Jones in a modern day setting, and I was not entirely misled. I love the pulps – simple stories for a simpler time, full of derring-do, swashbuckling, mysterious lands, and unfathomable mysteries.  Those stories contain a clarity of purpose and characterization in stark contrast to the conflicted and enlightened leading man of today.  I bought this book desiring a return to that kind of clarity.

Background: Hunt Through the Cradle of Fear is book two of the Gabriel Hunt series from Dorchester Publishing.  It is marketed through their “Action/Adventure” line, and may be found in discount stores, book stores, online, or through Dorchester’s own book club.  The series revolves around Gabriel Hunt, a modern-day millionaire adventurer.  The central conceit of the series is that Gabriel is relating these accounts to ghost authors, and that the stories are factual accounts.  Gabriel Hunt may be found online at his website: Hunt for Adventure.

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The Rise of Cobra

snakePerspective: This ain’t your daddy’s G.I. Joe.  For that matter, this probably ain’t your G.I. Joe.  Come to think of it, I’m not sure whose G.I. Joe this is, exactly.  I am an avid G.I. Joe fan; I followed the comics and played with the toys all through the 80’s, never missed an episode of the cartoon, and jumped feet first into the nostalgic revival in 2001.

I’ve been waiting for this movie a long time.

Background: The Hasbro property enjoyed the bulk of its popularity in the 80’s, beginning as a highly successful and still wildly collectible toy line.  The Marvel comic book series soon followed, mostly under the pen of Larry Hama; a half-hour tv series little more than an extended toy advertisement eventually produced an animated film that only fueled the Joe-mania sweeping the country at that time.  After that particular version of the franchise petered out in the early 90’s, Hasbro attempted to revive the property several times with varying degrees of success.

In 2001, Hasbro anticipated a wave of nostalgia and licensed Devil’s Due to produce a new line of comics that would build from the existing Marvel continuity.  Issue #1 hit the stands the week before 9/11.

Although military fiction did not experience quite the revival it might have otherwise expected, the Hasbro property has been in more or less continuous circulation since then.  Devil’s Due lost the license in 2008 and IDW picked it up.  IDW then launched a complete reboot of the property, ignoring the Marvel/Devil’s Due continuity and beginning from the ground up.

The Rise of Cobra isn’t their movie either.

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