Saturday, June 29, 2019

Australis Incognito: Behind the curtain.

So as promised here's a peak behind the curtain for the story behind the story of Australis Incognito.

Now I'd love to say the whole thing came to me in a one big hit but that's not true.  Some of the ideas had been floating around in my head for some time.  The Rusting Death had been a title that been waiting since the mid 90s when I mistyped the Doc Savage novel The Rustling Death for my book list.

But the story really started on Watchmen's 25th anniversary in around 2011.  Like many fans I wondered how things would have went after the events of Moore and Gibbons' story.  It's a world now without a superman just people in costumes.  Was there a third wave/generation of heroes, did the peace last?  What might a third wave look like?

I let myself imagine.  Silk Spectre II and Nite-Owl II would have kids The Nite Spectre, Silk and Nite-Owl III.  There would be a Rorschach II, the daughter of the original's landlady who believes that Walter Kovacs is her father.  There would be original characters like the Cutlass.

I never wrote anything down and at some point reality set in assuming that DC was going to do anything they wouldn't be hiring me anytime soon (and shorly after we got the Before Watchmen collection of miniseries)

As any Watchmen fan worth their salt knows the story was written with the Charlton characters.  DC looked at the story and realised that it would render their newly acquired characters unusable.  Moore then created new characters who if you squint looked a little like the Charlton Characters,

So I squinted - The third generation Watchmen siblings became The Dingo, Risque and Risk.  Rorschach II became The Question Mark II.  I left the Cutlass alone.  I dropped several characters and created new ones.

One of my new characters was the Aggressor, a veteran of Afghanistan or Iraq and fighting a bloody crusade against organised crime.  Then I found the Cutter series by James Hopwood - and also published by Pro Se Press.  Hopwood did what I was planning and in all honesty did it better.  So I changed tack The Agressor was active in the 1980s and was involved in The Fitzgerald Inquiry into corruption in the Queensland Government and police force, which worked much better for me.  So James if you read this - Thank you.

Around the same time, I was looking at myself as an Australian new Pulp writer and what I wanted to write.   I discovered a history of Australians creating pulp and pulp adjacent characters and I met several other creators who were crafting new stories in the same vein.

I wanted to write a big Australian pulp story. I had the basis for my story.  I pitched the idea to Pro Se as Oz Pulp.

The good news they liked the idea, the bad - they were not so keen on Oz Pulp.  I wasn't keen on their suggested replacement Aus Pulp.

I sat brainstorming when  I remembered that on old maps Australia was called Terra Australis Incognita - and Australis Incognito was born.  (Several Australian horror anthologies have used Terror Australis)

Australis Incognito became more than the title of the story but the collective name of my heroes and would go back to the settlement of New South Wales in 1788 allowing me to weave a backstory that allowed me to reference several characters I had read about.  It also gave me a reason that these characters all knew each other.

I had the idea for a villian so big that these characters couldn't battle them alone.  I distinctly recall the idea that one of the heroes was suggesting the unknown villian was a Moriarty-type.  The mysterious villian lurking over the skyline of Brisbane on the cover.

Around this time I had been invited to contribute to Sherlock Holmes and Dr Was Not (IFWG, 2019) an anthology that paired Sherlock Holmes with a different doctor instead of Watson.  I selected Dr Nikola, the villian of five novels by Australian writer Guy Boothby that were just as popular as the Sherlock Holmes stories back in the 1890s.  Nikola became a large piece of the this new story and his actions in the past served as a catalyst for this modern day adventure.

I had a great time building a world where modern pulp heroes could operate and link in with other Australian pulp and pulp-adjacant characters.

Sunday, June 23, 2019


The Land Down Under, a land of crime and adventure.  For over two hundred years, Australia has been guarded by the masked men and mystery women of Australis Incognito.
The Dingo, Risqué, Risk, The Knight Errant, The Cutlass, The Question Mark and the Sai are the latest generation of crime fighters.
Now they are faced with an ancient evil, a mastermind committing impossible crimes.  A mystery villain who threatens to expose their greatest secrets and those of their predecessors. Australia’s heroes…and the world itself may not survive in Author Brad Mengel’s debut novel-AUSTRALIS INCOGNITO, now available from Pro Se Productions.
Featuring a haunting cover and logo design by Jeffrey Hayes and print formatting by Antonino Lo Iacono and Marzia Marina, AUSTRALIS INCOGNITO is available in print at for $9.99.
Mengel’s debut novel is also available as an eBook formatted by Lo Iacono and Marina for the Kindle at for only $2.99. The book is also available to Kindle Unlimited members for free.
For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital copies for review, email
To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to Like Pro Se on Facebook at

This has been a long time coming and I'm so pleased to see it finally come to life.  Massive shout out to the team at Pro Se and to Jeffrey Hayes for the awesome cover that exceeded my wildest dreams.

To my Australian mates,  ebook only on Amazon Australia.  Brisbane folks can order a hard copy at Pulp Fiction Book shop.

I'll post soon about the background for the story and how it came to be in a separate post.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Scorpion King 5: Book of Souls (2018)

So 2016 saw the announcement that Universal was trying again to build a bit of a cinematic universe (look guys you did it in the 40's - just build on that don't reinvent the wheel) called Dark Universe.  First cab of the rank - The Mummy (2017) which effectively canceled the existing Mummy/Scorpion King Franchise and killing a fourth movie with an Aztec Mummy (reportedly played by Antonio Banderis).

Imagine my utter surprise that 2018 had a new direct to DVD Scorpion King movie.  New actor Zach McGowan as The Scorpion King - the fourth in the franchise.

Zach came to Brisbane Supanove in November 2018, when was the movie release? December 2018.  So I couldn't have a copy for him to sign.  What marketing genius thought that was a good idea?

So I finally get the movie.  Matthius is working as a blacksmith in a small village having lost his kingdom and love interest again.  What's that like three now?
(from 1, 3, and 4 although 4 isn't as certain as the other two)  Maybe that's what causes his Mummy Returns heel turn - I'm sick of losing kingdoms)

And that's something that hangs over these movies - is this the one where he snaps?Where we see the start of his descent into villainy?  Because in all five Scorpion King movies, Matthius is pretty heroic.

The movie opens with the creation of The Fang of Anubis, a sword that steals the souls of all it kills.  A warlord Nebserek steals it and lays waste to  country.  He is obessessed with finding the Scorpion King.

The villains make the classic villain mistake - the hero is cheerfully minding his business - he might be on holiday.  The baddies hear he is nearby clearly the hero must be in town to investigate their evil plot, there is no other possibility.  We must attack first.  Our hero who would have cheerfully spent two weeks fishing and gone home is now aware of villainy in the area and he is rather pissed off that his holiday is ruined, someone tried to kill him, possibly that there is someone else died in the attempt. (my favourite version of this is Batman Forever)  Look Mathius would have been happy chilling in his smithy but you had to attack him and kill his friends.

He is left for dead and is rescued by Tala, the daughter of Balathazar (Michael Clarke Duncan) from the first movie and they quest to find the one artefact the Book of Souls that will destroy the Fang and release the souls.

It's an enjoyable movie, McGowan is good in the fights, the villain is suitably threatening making for a good final boss fight.  There's a nice twist on the nature of the book of souls.  There are some interesting new characters including a golem who is scared of fire.  (I kept thinking they were calling him gollum)

With or without McGowan, I'd be down for more Scorpion King movies.  (also I'd down for a definitive timeline )