Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Lost Adventures of Jake Speed

Recently I was doing some searching to see if I could track down the Jake Speed novelization. I've never found a copy for sale and I was starting to think that it was a rumour based on the prop books used in the movie.

However I had a look at the imdb message boards for the movie and Wayne Crawford (the actor and co-writer of the film) comments on some of the threads including this 

Wayne confirms that the novelization happened.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that part of the advertising for the film was a four strip prequel comic featuring Jake Speed against Dr Kanker which can be found 

As far as I could find Jake Speed hasn't been used much in fanfic but I did use him in my story 
The Interview

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Lust For Hate (1898)

So when we last saw Nikola, he had used the Chinese Prayer Stick he got in the first book to gain access to the Chinese Secret Society to find an improved anaesthetic.  So in A Lust for Hate, I was waiting to see what he would do with that.

He uses it to murder people.  Nikola is running a revenge operation using his specially designed carriage to murder people who have wronged others (hey Nikola, there's a woman in The Hamptons who could use your help, Emily Clarke, er Amanda Thorne or some such)

Nikola is such a minor character in this story appearing about a third of the way through to offer his services to the narrator Gilbert Pennethorne who had been swindled out of a great fortune and then again at the end to  try and extort some money from Pennethorne (60 Thousand Pounds to be precise), that it almost seems a cheat to call this a Nikola novel.

There is a theory that this was an already completed novel that Boothby edited to quickly add Nikola which I cannot dispute.  In this story Nikola is an outright villain killing for money with an interesting method to gain the capital for a new scheme.

I'm about to start on the next book and I hope to see Nikola back to form.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

JAKE SPEED (1986) starring Wayne Crawford and John Hurt

Originally posted Friday, August 25, 2006 2:52:20 PM

I remember being grade 5 or 6 and writing a story where The Hardy Boys had me join them on a case, part of the appeal of the escapist fiction is that we can join in these adventures.

JAKE SPEED offers this opportunity. The movie starts with kidnapping of two American girls in Paris. Next we see the family upset by the loss of their daughter Maureen. Grandpa comes with the advice that the family should bypass the State Department and try to contact the handful of men who can really help. Mack Bolan The Executioner, Remo Williams The Destroyer and Jake Speed. Grandpa recommends Jake Speed.*

C'mon Grandpa we all know these books aren't real, no way Jake Speed can help because he's not real.

Maureen's sister Maggie goes home and gets a note from Jake Speed. Maggie takes her friend with her to the meeting (the friend gets some of the best lines in the film referring to Jake Speed as Speedy Jake and Remo as Romero and The Urinator of Reamer)

We get to see several Jake Speed novels which were published by Gold Eagle (Now those novels would have to be some of the rarest pieces of Aggressor material)

Next thing Maggie knows she being whisked off to Africa for an adventure ("But I don't want an adventure I want my sister back" she screams at Jake at one point.)

The film lags slightly once we hit Africa and discover that Jake's trusty HARV (heavily armoured raiding vehicle) hasn't arrived yet and the adventurers are stuck driving normal jeeps. Des informs Jake that Doc Savage used to drive these. Jake grumbles that Savage isn't even in the game anymore.

We see an abortive attempt to find Maureen but all this makes Jake seem incompetent, with our adventurers fleeing in defeat.

Then we wait, wait for HARV to arrive, wait while Maureen runs off and is told that Jake and Des are conmen.

Finally HARV turns up and the adventure starts again and we discover that Jake's archenemy Sid is behind all this. We see Jake fall into a lion pit, take on an army, engage in a high speed car chase.

I generally enjoyed this movie except for the dragging middle part.

*Imagine if he had of recommended Remo, I can see the family beating down the door of Folcroft Sanatorium and Smith having a fit.

Monday, April 21, 2014

My Favorite Year (1982) Peter O'Toole, Mark Linn-Baker

I first heard about this movie reading a review over at The Ferguson Theatre. From the title alone I would have passed this over but after reading Derrick's review I had to watch this.

I'd seen Mark Linn-Baker as Cousin Larry in Perfect Strangers back in the day and his role here is kinda similar.  Larry is the straight man to the wacky Balki in Perfect Strangers and in this movie he's Benjy Stone, the straight man to O'Toole's Alan Swann. 

Benjy is the junior writer on The King Kaiser Comedy Cavalcade Show and he suggest getting Alan Swann, a washed up movie star who closely resembles Errol Flynn in many ways.   Benjy is trying to start a relationship with K.C., the producer's assistant.  Derrick points out that Benjy treats the relationship like a comedy skit - to me that makes perfect sense Benjy is living and breathing skits as he tries to prove himself as a comedy writer. 

In many ways the arrival of Swann into Benjy's life is pivotal.  At the start of the movie Benjy tells us that Swann is his personal hero.  When King Kaiser tries to ditch a very drunk Swann, it is Benjy who stands up for his idol.  Kaiser tells Benjy that he has balls (after checking first) and I wonder if that was the first time Benjy had fought for anything on the show. 

But it's Alan Swann we want to see.  Our first looks at Swann are from his glory days, a cardboard cut out and a greatest hits package from his movies.  He's dashing and heroic.  When we see him for the first time in the now he's drunk and in bed with a gorgeous young woman, and promptly tries to cough up his lungs.

He arrives at the studio and reacts to the footage on the screen which was hilarious. There's a close up the villain from the Robin Hood-esque  film.  Swann says "There's Reggie, I thought he was dead."'

Reggie is stabbed in the movie and falls down dead.  "There he goes." deadpans Swann.

Swann is a likable rogue.  He goes for dinner and ends up stealing away the most beautiful woman in the room.  (In a brilliant gag, the jilted boyfriend yells "Somebody stole my girl." which the band immediately starts playing.)  He points out that he gets away with murder in many parts of his life, which is understandable as he is charming and funny.  The scene in the ladies room is another case.

(If Selma Diamond who played Lil in that scene wasn't the inspiration for Roz in Monsters Inc I'd be very surprised)

I watched this with my wife and daughters and they were all laughing throughout the movie. But behind the humour there is a human story.  On filming night, Swann finds out that the show is aired live and he freaks out. The speech between Swann and Benji is so raw and human, just thinking of it makes my eyes misty.  A lot of what is said is foreshadowed earlier in the movie.  I won't spoil the speech and invite you to check out the movie.  (the speech is in the Quotes page of  the IMDB page.  )

The movie doesn't tell us what came of Benjy after this, but I'd like to think that he was better for his time with Swann.  Certainly thanks to Swann and his advice, Benjy is able to start a real relationship with K.C.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Scarlet Jaguar (2013) by Win Scott Eckert Meteor House

Previously posted Tuesday, August 27, 2013 3:51:31 PM


This is the sequel to The Evil in Pemberley House which I reviewed earlier

Let me start by saying that the cover is beautiful. Pat Wildman looks amazing. Mark Sparacio does an amazing job on the cover that pales compared to the piece he did for the signature page which took my breath away. Meteor House has done an amazing job on this book (just as they did for their previous novella 
Exiles of Kho).

So to quote the proverb, you can't judge a book by its cover. So how does the book measure up to the cover? For me, the cover is a great ad for the book that hints at the awesomeness that we find in the book. When the book arrived, I was in the middle of The Complete Domino Lady (which reprints the seven pulp stories and a new story by Steranko who also provides some amazing artwork). I put it to one side to read The Scarlet Jaguar, fully intending to go straight back. I finished The Scarlet Jaguar with a big grin on my face and proceeded to reread the whole thing again. That's how much I enjoyed the book.

When we left Pat Wildman at the end of The Evil in Pemberley House, she had founded Empire Investigations with Charles Peter Parker. The Scarlet Jaguar opens a year later with Empire Investigations being hired to investigate the disappearance of a British Diplomat in a South American country that was moving towards democracy. What follows is a slam bang pulp ride with Wildman and Parker joined by Helen Benson, the daughter of The Domino Lady and The Avenger. Our trio of heroes face a weapon that can turn people and objects into red glass and The Scarlet Jaguar has threatened to use the weapon on the Panama Canal. Pat Wildman and her team race to stop this from happening.

Eckert has given us another exciting story, liberally sprinkled with references to other stories series and characters. One of Win's great talents is that he can drop these easter eggs and not bog the story down. I was pleasantly surprised to see an appearance of another of Philip Jose Farmer's creations in a cameo role with a hint of an earlier adventure with Pat Wildman. (which I want to read now - The Midget Airplane Heist is such a tantalising hint)

If The Evil in Pemberley House left us wanting more adventures of Pat Wildman, The Scarlet Jaguar lives up to that promise and further whets our appetite. In The Foreword, Eckert tells of his 2009 meeting with Lady Patricia and how he got permission to edit and publish the Memoirs of Pat Wildman and how she gave him notes that form the basis for a number of other stories (his three Avenger stories, The Adventure of the Falling Stone, The Wild Huntsman and Honey West/T.H.E. Cat: A Girl and her Cat.)

Win's stories are like those photo mosaics; each picture is complete but when you step back and look at the big picture it is a part of the larger tapestry.

The scene on the cover does happen in the story. If I had to make a complaint it would be that Mark Sparacio didn't give us a drawing of Helen Benson (who I'd also like to see in a solo adventure).

This is a great story and well worth getting if you can. 
**Update: This won The New Pulp Awards Best Novella & Best Cover Art **

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A few thoughts on a possible Black Widow film

Just after The Avengers came out, there was a quote from Joe Quesada basically saying that there was no female Marvel properties or actresses that could carry a solo movie franchise.

Not surprisingly this caused a wee bit of a stir.  The internet rattled off multiple characters and actresses who could do exactly that, the most obvious one that most people pointed to was of course the one female character and actress who had appeared in both Iron Man 2
and The Avengers
After seeing Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the announcement that we were getting a Black Widow at some point in the future (after Avengers 2: The Age of Ultron) 
I had to wonder if Marvel Studios was playing it carefully -  there had only been one Marvel based film with a female lead character Elektra (2005)  and it was not a success. 
 (A number female characters appeared in the  X Men films and Sue Storm The Invisible Woman had appeared in the two Fantastic Four movies but they were part of an ensemble cast) There had been one animated series starring a solo Marvel heroine Spider-Woman which ran for 16 episodes.
So Marvel Studios had little experience with their own properties.  How was their largest rival DC handling solo female superhero movies/TV/Animation?
After two failed pilots, Wonder Woman had a TV series that ran for three seasons (1976-1979), Isis (TV series 1975), Supergirl (1984), Birds of Prey (TV series 2002)  Catwoman (2004) Wonder Woman (2009) animated film. Wonder Woman had an unaired pilot in 2011.  Of all of these only the Wonder Woman TV series starring Lynda Carter might be considered a success.
Outside of the big two I'd be hard pressed to think of any successful solo female film or TV series.
So I wonder if Marvel Studios, is carefully introducing us to Black Widow expanding her role just a little bit more each role - A glorified cameo in Iron Man 2, part of the ensemble in The Avengers, almost equal co star in Captain America; The Winter Soldier (at least one review has suggested that the movie should have been called Captain America and Black Widow)  so that we as fans actively want a Black Widow film.
I could be overthinking it.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Evil in Pemberley House By Philip Jose Farmer & Win Scott Eckert (2009) Subterranean Press

<i>The Evil in Pemberley House</i> <br>by Philip José Farmer & Win Scott Eckert

In 1997, Win Eckert started The Wold Newton Universe Crossover Chronology, a website expanding on Philip Jose Farmer’s pseudo-biographies Tarzan Alive and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life. Over the years, Eckert kept expanding the concept and in 2005 edited Myths for the Modern Age, a collection of several of Farmer’s unpublished Wold Newton Articles and new articles by various Wold Newton Scholars (including me). That same year, Win was able to meet Phil and during a search through Phil’s archive uncovered an unfinished manuscript and complete outline for The Evil in Pemberley House. Win sought permission from the Farmers and completed the manuscript. Sadly, Philip Jose Farmer passed away before the book was published.

The book tells the story of Patricia Wildman, the daughter of Doc Wildman, who after the death of her parents and husband discovered that she was to inherit an estate in England decides to travel there to start a new life away from all the tragedy. Instead of the happily ever after that she was hoping for Patricia discovers that she has stumbled into a supernatural mystery with the discovery of a family curse. Of course, being Farmer and Eckert the book is littered with Wold Newton references

My best comparison for this book is the first Austin Powers movie – not that Evil in Pemberley House is a funny book. The first Austin Powers movie worked as a comedy even if you weren’t aware of the various 60s spy references dropped (James Bond, the Avengers, Derek Flint, etc) but an awareness of those sources enriches your viewing of the movie. Similarly, The Evil in Pemberley House also works as a Gothic novel even if the reader has no awareness of the rest of the Wold Newton Cycle.

Many gothics take the Scooby Doo route and show the man in the mask muttering “I’d have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for that meddling heiress/governess” but Farmer and Eckert wisely leave the question open, the ghost that visits Patricia may be a relative in disguise hoping to scare off the heiress or might be the real ghost.

Patricia is a great character in her own right, as I said before she is the daughter of Doc Wildman (obviously Doc Savage) and as such is no shrieking, fainting damsel in distress. The novel was conceived and set in the 1970s and whilst Patricia might not get as much sex as her contemporaries The Baroness, The Sexecutioner and The Lady from LUST, Patricia is no prude. The sex in the novel is important to the plot.

The novel finishes in such a way that Patricia has the scope for a series of her own adventures and I sincerely hope that Eckert continues the adventures of Patricia.

Win once told me that Farmer’s manuscript stopped in mid-sentence, well I looked carefully but I can’t find the sentence where Win took over. In fact, there is nowhere in the novel that jars and tips the reader off that there are two hands at work here.

The Evil in Pemberley House was published by Subterranean Press and I would be remiss to fail to mention the cover art by Glen Orbik. Orbik’s work on the Gabriel Hunt series and several of the Hard Case Crime books (my favourite is Money Shot) brought him to my attention and he is a perfect choice for the cover art which evokes the gothic novel covers and still brings Patricia to life as a strong capable sexy heroine.

Subterranean brought Evil in Pemberley House in a standard and limited edition format. The standard is just the novel and the limited edition is a numbered and signed copy of the novel and a limited chapbook. The chapbook might be best thought of as like the second disk of special features in a special edition DVD. The cover of the novel is the Wildman Coat of Arms drawn by Keith Howell based on the notes of Philip Jose Farmer. The first article in the chapbook is a description of the coat of arms with reproduction of four pages of handwritten notes and sketches by Farmer.

Next the chapbook reprints Farmer’s outline, which was especially interesting to me as I am learning to outline myself. I would advise that the reader read the novel first so as to not spoil the story.

Next is a chronology of events described in the novel. The final special feature is “Excessively Diverted or Coming to Pemberley House” when Farmer started this novel there was no Wold Newton speculation and it was easy for him to make Patricia the sole heir. Since that time, there have been numerous speculations and original stories that have added other potential heirs to Pemberley House, Eckert examines each of these potential claimants shows how and why they were out of contention.

These special features added an extra layer of enjoyment to my reading of this novel.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

My Wicked, Wicked Ways by Errol Flynn (1957)

If you are going to talk Australians and their contributions to adventure fiction, there is one figure who should be mentioned - Errol Flynn.

Flynn was a Hollywood star appearing in Robin Hood, Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, and a number of Westerns and War films.  As I was thinking about what it meant to be an Australian and a writer, I came across Errol's autobiography.

It's an interesting read. If there was any Australian that that could be considered a Pulp hero then Flynn's our man.  Not only did he make Swashbucklers and Westerns but he was also a writer - not only did he pen My Wicked, Wicked Ways but he wrote Beam Ends (1937) about his journey to New Guinea and Showdown (1946) an adventure novel.  But the persona he played in Hollywood was interesting -  he tells of the press conference he gave and had two naked models walk through the room.  The reporters nearly rioted.

Certainly his adventures in New Guinea that start the book are fascinating,  I really want to track down the other two books now.  Flynn tells that when he got to Hollywood nobody realised that he was Australian, they all assumed based on his name that he was Irish and that when he would tell tales from his time in New Guinea no-one would believe him.

Another surprise was that Errol had appeared on stage in England and that one of his roles was Bulldog Drummond. 

Back in the 90's there was an allegation that Flynn was a Nazi spy/sympathiser, nothing in this book backs that up and it covers his trip to Spain to cover the Spanish Civil War.  (Although there was one good thing to come out of that now discredited claim - Neville Sinclair in the Rocketeer Movie)

If you love classic Hollywood, get a hold of this book.  If you like adventure yarns, I equally recommend this book.

In a sad co-incidence, on the day I finished reading this book I discovered that Errol's third wife Patrice Wymore had recently passed away.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Of all the current batch of Marvel studios movies Captain America: The First Avenger was my favourite.  It was a great pulp era adventure.   So I was really looking forward to the sequel (even more than the Avengers)

The Winter Soldier was a great movie it brought Cap firmly into the 21st century and teamed him with Black Widow (who had previously appeared in Iron Man 2 & The Avengers) and The Falcon.

Each of Cap's allies gives us a nice contrast with Cap.  Steve Rogers is a super soldier thanks to the serum he received in the first movie. Black Widow is a spy and their methods are nicely contrasted in the first mission.  Captain America uses non lethal force to knock out enemy agents, The Black Widow shoots and presumably kills.

When Black Widow and Cap go on the run it is Black Widow who takes the lead teaching Steve spy craft, such as "when on the run don't run".  The Black Widow is very very good at what she does.

Sam Wilson is a former soldier, Steve literally runs rings around him (as Sam points out "I do what he does only slower")  The Falcon exo suit is awesome to watch in action and I couldn't help but to be reminded of The Rocketeer (the wings taking the place of the finned helmet) *

The Russo brothers have wisely kept CGI to a minimum and it pays off in the fight scenes.

I'm really curious to see how the fallout from this impacts the other Marvel movies (Guardians of the Galaxy won't be impacted being set in space) and The Agents of SHIELD TV series.

Marvel seems to be really leading the race in the cinemas with trailers for Guardians of the Galaxy, The Amazing Spider-man 2 and X Men Days of Future Past all showing before the movie.  Lego Batman told us to turn off our phones. (Having said that I prefer Arrow to SHIELD so maybe they should focus on TV more.)

*Actually if you replace Howard Hughes in The Rocketeer with Howard Stark it makes perfect sense.

Monday, April 7, 2014


From Pro Se:

 A leading independent publisher of Genre Fiction, Pro Se Productions announces an innovative new Fiction line today.

In 2010, Pro Se Productions debuted as a small press focused on ‘Puttin’ The Monthly Back into Pulp!’ The company originally produced a line of three magazines that featured ‘New Pulp’ short stories, that is stories written... by modern writers very much in the style and feel of tales featured in classic Pulp magazines in the early 20th Century. When Pro Se made the move into publishing novels and short story anthologies, it closed the magazine line, only to restart the concept as a single magazine title due to popular demand. PRO SE PRESENTS grew into an award winning magazine that ran for 20 issues, its final installment released in February 2014. With the end of the magazine, Pro Se Productions closes one era to enter another, one that readers got a taste of in December of 2013.

“We are always,” says Tommy Hancock, Partner in and Editor-in-Chief of Pro Se, “focused on producing the very best in New Pulp and Genre Fiction in all aspects, including the format which we present it in. It’s no secret that Publishing in the last five years, particularly for independent presses such as Pro Se, has moved more and more into the digital realm. Not only can readers carry more books around on their Ereaders or their phones, but the price point is tremendously better in most cases over print books. Digital publishing also affords writers and publishers to produce any size work they wish, including single short stories that can be offered for less than a dollar each. Pro Se Productions decided to dip its foot in that pool and in December we held a grand opening of sorts for our new imprint- Pro Se Single Shots.

“The success we had,” continues Hancock, “with the first volley of Single Shots was quite amazing. No one’s getting rich on them, but the interest readers showed in being able to drop 99 cents and get a good, solid short story that they could read in a single sitting was staggering to us right out of the gate. This combined with the fact that our second magazine line had run its course we felt in its current format, gave us a few ideas. Chief among them was the fact that we could take each story that would have appeared in a PRO SE PRESENTS and offer it individually to readers in a digital format. That way a mystery fan could pick up the mystery stories he or she wanted for a reasonable price without having to feel like they were buying other stories they may not enjoy. But an even more intriguing idea presented itself rather quickly.

“The concept of digital singles affords Pro Se the ability to really bring the concept of Pulp storytelling and even, in a indirect way, the idea of recurring tales from a consistent stable of authors on a regular schedule –much like classic Pulps did- into the 21st Century. This kernel of an idea took root with us rather quickly and brings us now to possibly the most exciting announcement Pro Se has made in a long time. Pro Se Single Shot Signatures.”

The Pro Se Single Shot Signature line brings together 38 writers from across the spectrum of Genre Fiction. Each of these authors will be producing either an original series of his/her creation featuring recurring characters and concepts or writing an imprint of individual stand alone stories entitled ‘From The Pen of…’ and the author’s name. Multiple genres are represented, from jungle tales to horror stories to some that defy description.

Regardless if an author is doing a series or imprint, they will all be working on a regular production schedule established based on their own ability to produce quality work. Some will produce stories on a bi weekly, monthly, bi monthly, quarterly, or bi annual schedule. Each story will range in length from 3,000 to 15,000 words. Also, debuts of the individual series and/or imprints will be spread out over the remaining months of 2014, with at least three titles debuting in April.

Pro Se Productions proudly announces the inaugural cast of authors in the Pro Se Single Shot Signatures line. They include:
David Foster
PJ Lozito
Russ Anderson
Sean Taylor
Teel James Glenn
Fuller Bumpers
Tommy Hancock
Morgan Minor
Mark Bousquet
Philip Athans
Jim Beard
I. A. Watson
Joshua Reynolds
Bobby Nash
Greg Norgaard
Mark Gelineau
J. Walt Layne
Nikki Nelson-Hicks
D. Alan Lewis
H. David Blalock
Gary Phillips
Sean E. Ali
Barry Reese
Percival Constantine
Jeremy Hicks
Logan L. Masterson
Chuck Miller
Alexander S. Brown
Adam Lance Garcia
David White
Kevin Rodgers
Derrick Ferguson
Aaron Smith
Frank Schildiner
Brad Mengel
Richard White
Terry Alexander
Terrence McCauley

Each Pro Se Single Shot Signature Series and Imprint will feature cover art by Artist Jeffrey Hayes.

If the author of a series or imprint chooses to, print collections of his or her stories will be produced at later dates as agreed upon by Pro Se and the individual creator. Hancock also stated that Pro Se will continue to produce stand alone Single Shots as they did in December and again in March.

“The Signature line,” Hancock says, “is a very exciting prospect for Pro Se, the authors and artist involved, and the readers I believe. It puts these fantastic New Pulp tales in a quick, easy to digest format, makes them inexpensive, and opens readers up to a whole host of ideas and authors that they may never have been exposed to otherwise for whatever reason. It may not be the same feel as having a paper magazine to fold up in your hand, but the Pro Se Single Shot Signatures line definitely makes Puttin’ The Monthly Back into Pulp something Pro Se can do in a big way.”

In coming days, news concerning the individual authors and the series and/or imprints they are working on as well as production schedules will be released from Pro Se Productions.

For More information on Pro Se Single Shot Signatures, to be placed on a review list for upcoming releases, or for interviews with the authors involved, please contact Morgan Minor, Director of Corporate Operations for Pro Se, at

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to and like Pro Se on Facebook at