Tag: ebooks

Pulp Fiction Fridays Focus: POWERS (SuperCharged Pulp)

Trey from Cybil Lewis Series (c) Laura Givens
Trey from Cybil Lewis Series (c) Laura Givens

Continuing in the tradition of focusing on fantastic two-fisted action, Pulp genre, Pulp Fiction Fridays focuses on POWERS, the comic series by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Oeming. 

I love pulp. I’ve been a fan of detective mysteries, cozy mysteries, high tech mysteries, and all points in between. I love a good whodunit, and I love private detectives that are self-directed, they march to their own drummer, and often to their detriment. Law & Order’s character Logan would forever be the pinnacle of this brash, but diligent detective. Law & Order SUV’s Elliot also fell right in step with the rogue detective, breaking rules and following his own code to justice.

Cybil 1And it cost him. Just as my protagonist in my Cybil Lewis series, Cybil handles her own issues and marches to her own drummer. She has a moral code that is patched together from her own trials and tribulations. She struggles to do the right thing, even when that means breaking the violations erected in post-apocalyptic D.C.

I also love comics. Comics + detectives=Major Love from Nicole.

Enter Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Oeming’s Powers comics.

powers2Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim are two polar opposites, not unlike my Cybil and Jane characters. Each balances the other, and over time, a well-oiled friendship steeped in mutual respect, rivalry, and platonic love emerges between them. This series is special because it takes some that Alan Moore’s Watchmen prompted in the early 80s and rooted in the real world.

What if super heroes were real?

If they were real, who would police them? A common problem for Justice League’s Batman was that the league was too powerful. He wanted procedures in place to deal with the league when the meta-humans became too powerful. As an ordinary man, Bruce was keenly aware of this danger and planned accordingly.
Christian Walker, an ordinary human, who once has a super power and was known as Diamond, now serves as a detective capturing and bringing those with powers to justice. Walker is the protagonist of POWERS, and he carries the weight of the loss of his powers. Initially, Walker is very much a man haunted by a glorious past that lingers. A washed up quarterback. A former star. He’s all those things and more.

Saddled with a spunky and impulsive partner in Deena Pilgrim, Christian, along with a host of secondary characters both powers (meta humans) and humans, investigate super-powered crimes. The world-building is amazing. The evolution of Deena and Christian throughout the series also demonstrates Bendis’ writing skills unchecked by someone else’s cannon or Powerscharacter.

POWERS is Bendis set free. It is what independent comic book creators are doing every single day. Breaking the mold of traditional DC and Marvel comic’s storytelling.

POWERS is two-fisted action. Sex. Violence. Mystery. Origin Story. Redemption.

And it is glorious. Gritty. Dark. Delicious. Every single freakin’ bite.

In a word, it’s pulp noir at its absolute sharpest. The writing slices through traditional stereotypes with razor precision, and at times when it looks as if Bendis is feeding right into a traditional storyline or characterization, he kicks the legs out from under it.

Recently POWERS made its live-action debut on Playstation Network (PSN). The casting director kept the characters, but cast Deena Pilgrim as a black woman. In fact, t felt like they’d blended Detective Sunshine and Deena into one character.  It didn’t change my feelings for the show, or my love for Deena. In fact, Deena’s troubles seem much more plausible as an African-American female given the amount of challenges we face in our everyday life.

It’s hard to transition a comic book to live action Netflix’s Daredevil not withstanding. Because it was streamed via PSN, Bendis’s baby, POWERS, didn’t have the budget necessary to fully realize Bendis’s world-building. The actor portraying Christian Walker didn’t have the build, swagger, or anything else to make me identify him as WALKER.

So, honestly, I checked out of it fairly soon. It has been granted a season 2, so I will most likely make another attempt to watch the actual series.

For now, I returned to the POWERS comic and re-read them. Revisiting the world I found most enjoyable and Oeming’s illustrations. I knew those characters. I knew their stories. They spoke to me about the challenges of responsibility, class, racism, poverty, sexism, and all the other –isms that plague humanity.

It also had loyalty, redemption, and sacrifice.

Those wonderful other powers that resonate in each human being.

And if POWERS taught me anything, it’s that I don’t have to be a meta-human to use them.

Pulp Fiction Fridays Guest–Kimberly Richardson

Trey from Cybil Lewis Series (c) Laura Givens
Trey from Cybil Lewis Series (c) Laura Givens

October was Black Speculative Fiction Month, but we’re not done celebrating awesome pulp stories by and about people of color! Pulp Fiction Fridays guest author is Kimberly Richardson. Authors will contribute a post discussing pulp, mystery, spies, and whodunits in the realms of science fiction and speculative. Welcome to Kimbery to Pulp Reports.

What is Pulp? If you were to ask ten authors, you would receive 11 responses. For me, Pulp is the classic adventure story. You have your “good” character who has either been hired or is on a search or quest, and your “bad” character who can also be seen as the good character’s nemesis. Both characters or groups of characters that fall within those two classifications believe that what they are setting out to do is the “right thing” for either themselves or for the world. Pulp also involves a lot of action scenes and there is also a moment when the good character “stumbles”, yet rises again stronger and better. To me, I feel that other genres do have a sense of Pulp in them; the action, good vs. bad, and the moment of triumph.

Black Pulp

I write Pulp because Tommy Hancock told me to! Just kidding! I began writing Pulp because it was a new field for me. Most of my work is dark fantasy, so when I was asked to submit a story for Pro Se Press’ anthology Black Pulp, I figured I would give it a shot. What I didn’t realize was that the story would begin a series that has exceeded my expectations. My second Pulp story, titled The Master of Tea, was just published in the recent Asian Pulp, also through Pro Se Press.

Once again, and this time I’m serious, Tommy Hancock inspired me to write in the genre. I owe him a great thanks for it and I can’t wait to write more!

AsianPulpI think the genre will incorporate more of other genres, even more so than now. So far, I have two Pulp stories and both of them incorporate a lot of fantasy and the supernatural. Seeing as how there has been a lot of crossover with mystery, romance, sci-fi/fantasy, and the like, I’d like to see more of Pulp within those genres and vice versa.

My favourite Pulp character is The Pulptress. After reading Andrea Judy’s work regarding the Bone Queen, I was hooked. The Pulptress is a strong character who is up for any challenge and doesn’t back down from a fight or a sticky situation. She is intelligent and resourceful.

Social Media shout outs!

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/ViridianGirl

Instagram – ViridianGirl (Kimberly B. Richardson)

Blog – The Nocturnal Aesthetic: http://nocaesthetic.blogspot.com/

Tumblr – http://viridiangirl.tumblr.com/

Pulp Fiction Fridays- Guest, Gary Phillips

Trey from Cybil Lewis Series (c) Laura Givens
Trey from Cybil Lewis Series (c) Laura Givens

October is Black Speculative Fiction Month! To celebrate, each Friday in October will be Pulp Fiction Friday. Authors will contribute a post discussing pulp, mystery, spies, and whodunits in the realms of science fiction and speculative. Welcome to Gary Phillips as he discusses the definition of pulp.

“Pulp,” to quote Tommy Hancock, editor-in-chief of Pro Se Press for whom I do some work, has stated the following, “…is fast-paced, plot oriented storytelling of a linear nature with clearly defined, larger than life protagonists and antagonists, creative descriptions, clever use of turns of phrase, words, as well as other aspects of writing that add to the intensity and pacing of the story.”

Pulp is hard-charging, fast delivery of story and prose, and some, but not a lot of introspection.  Characters are existentialist if I may be so bold, their actions define them.  Not to say those sensibilities aren’t found in other genres or certainly works I would consider neo or new pulp from what Clive Cussler writes to tech thrillers.  But it’s not noir, which to me are stories about doomed characters on a doomed path, often for small stakes.  Pulp adventure stories work best when it’s about big stakes…the country’s fate hangs in the balance or the world is in peril.

Certainly we’ve seen these elements filter into the James Bond films, the TV show Person of Interest (a machine that predicts crime – you can’t get more pulp than that), and the late and lamented Revolution, a retro future with horses and machine guns   Though pulp certainly can have detectives as well as mystery elements as often pulp heroes must often solve who the villain is and how they are accomplishing their dastardly deed – often involving advanced tech.

Black PulpSome of the pulp or new pulp I write has black folks or other people of color as main characters.  Some of these stories are set in the ‘30s (Decimator Smith, who was in Black Pulp and the upcoming Black Pulp II, Jimmie Flint in Day of the Destroyers) but also the ‘60s, Brett Khodo, Agent of C.O.D.E. in Asian Pulp, ‘70s (my kickass P.I. in the Pam Grier Coffy mold, Nefra Adams to debut soon from Pro Se Single Shot, and the Silencer), and modern in the form of the Essex Man.  I find them fun to write and enjoy slipping in a bit of revisionist history or at least history from a POV not often captured in other types of work.  But I’ve also written, most often for Moonstone, stories about the Avenger, Operator 5, the Spider and other stalwarts as well and enjoy writing those too.

For instance I might mention that the Avenger, a millionaire like a lot of them were, funds soup kitchens or some charity as I always found it odd that you had all these stories with the Shadow, Doc Savage and so coming out in the Depression, but it was often not mentioned directly.  Maybe that was an edict from the publishers, not to have the real world encroach on the fantastic tales.  But in a Decimator Smith story, set in late 1930s L.A. I have to note that it was a segregated city by restrictive covenants or that a rent party is happening.  Not to preach, I’m an entertainer, but to provide a context and a texture for his stories.

I also write hardboiled, noir, sci-fi and westerns, even I’m proud to say, Chick Lit…or a send-up of such at least in the form of the recent round robin novel, Beat, Slay, Love: One Chef’s Hunger for Delicious Revenge.  On the sci-fi front, there’s an anthology out now in tradepaper and audio I’ve co-edited and contributed to called Occupied Earth.  It takes a look at life and resistance 20 years on after we are conquered by the militaristic Mahk-Ra.  In this book there are several stories that are mashups of sci-fi and crime.  I dig the many aspects of genre and the overlap you can do one to the other in terms of sensibilities and styles.  In the end though, I write the stories I want to read.

Seems I became a writer because I can’t draw.  As a kid that dynamic imagery of comics artists Jack “King” Kirby, Gene Colon, John Buscema, Neal Adams, Gil Kane, Steranko, even the svelte draftsmanship of Carmine Infantino, filled my head.  That was the days of fandom and I wrote and drew, inked with a Speedball pen and badly lettered my own strips to try and get them published.  I was kindly and sometimes not-so-kindly told my art stank.  But every so often a mention would be made the writing wasn’t too bad.

Well, hell, one out of two wasn’t bad.

As to where the genre goes, I like to believe the audience for the material will grow.

Maybe some in new pulp don’t want that to happen but me, I’m fighting for people’s beer money as Heinlein noted.  Sure some of what’s written in new pulp can only appeal to a certain audience if it’s say more adventures of the Black Bat.  And that’s fine.  But there’s other material that is well-done, exciting, presented professionally and there’s no reason these sort of stories, novellas and novels won’t appeal to a larger audience – the folks who are reading the aforementioned Cussler, the Pendergast books by Preston & Child,  the Rogue Angel series and what have you.

On who is my favorite pulp character I vacillate, but all said and done, I’ll roll with the Shadow and his twisted mythos.  Something about how at heart he’s this domed character, a dark and twisted man who ultimately will find no peace in his war on crime and evil ‘cause he’s just too messed up, you know?  Pulp and noir.

As to how to find me, I guess I am too old-fashioned.  I don’t be twittering, pintering or any of that other crazy stuff you young folks do.  I do though have a website, www.gdphillips.com and am on Facebook.