Even if the Right wears a mask.
Even though I'm still walking the longest paper beat ever it seems, hunting for that piece of human interest with enough bang and kapow in it to make women tear up and men gnash their knuckles, I've found other things. Other alleys in the dark city of my imagination to wander down, to distract me from one purpose only to slap me hard down into the saddle of another bucking bronco of creativity and storytelling.
For instance, this one...See, between Hautman's Hole In the Middle Donut Eatery and Madame Wang's Laundry and Geisha Emporium. Yeah, that narrow slit probably not wide enough to even be called a crack, much less an alley. Well, now that we're knee deep in it, it twists and turns in on itself like the Yellow Brick Road as written by Raymond Chandler. And if you think walking through the skinny bypass is interesting, just wait till you glom what's on the other side.
I have the pleasure, and it is indeed that, of knocking elbows and sharing shots with some of the greatest creative minds in the business, be that writers, publishers, artists, or even those people who just serve as continual inspiration for the wild stuff that flows unabashedly from my fevered mind as I do what some call write. One of those which I shoot the breeze and any errant mook who crosses my path with is Barry Reese.
If you even have an inkling of what New Pulp is, then you've at least heard Barry's name in some capacity. He hails from Georgia and is probably best known for a singular creation, although he has a varied asylum of characters and a couple that are stepping up to be noticed. But his initial claim to infamy is a masked man by the name of The Rook. In reality millionaire Max Davies, The Rook is a hero that, although on the surface he may owe his existence to other masked types and various Pulp influences, actually stands well on his own as a mixture of various tropes and Barry's own unique twists thrown in. The Rook tales have it all-Heroes, villains, supernatural creatures, father-son relationship angst, supporting characters, Hitler, Dracula, Vampire Hitler (yeah, I said it). Pretty much, The Rook stories have it all.
Except for one thing. Well, two things.
The first is a non Barry Reese anthology. Barry has, except for a couple of instances, been the sole writer of The Rook and has always released the stories, again except for a few exceptions, in various volumes (up to six now). Barry has, however, always wanted to have other writers come in and take their swipe at his creation. And now, via his own imprint at Pro Se Press, Reese Unlimited, Barry has set up just that. Tales of the Rook is an anthology that is coming out this year that features some of the finest New Pulp writers around putting their own spin on Barry's noted creation. I was humbled and immensely excited to be included in this list and immediately threw a bevy of brainstorms at Barry. But as must be, I finally settled on one.
Which brings me to the second thing The Rook needed. An opposite number. A villain. Not just any psychopath or paranormal parasite, but a true evil that could not only give Max a run a for his money, but could stand boot to boot with him and possibly even beat him. That was what he didn't have. Someone who could get into The Rook's head and spirit so much that he might actually destroy the hero.
So I set about devising just who this would be. Who would I create that was so twisted, so depraved, and so downright powerful both in mind and magic and spirit to tackle the formidable skills and defenses Barry had woven into The Rook? Then it came to me... I didn't have to create this awesome, awful adversary from whole cloth. He existed already from the classic days of Pulp and was available to use as he now haunted and horrified others in the Public Domain.
And he's here now. There, kiddies, see him peeking over the buildings of the city. Reaching out for you, for me, and most of all, for The Rook? As rendered by the fantastic George Sellas, meet the one creature that will tear Max Davies apart piece by piece so badly that even The Rook may not be able to save himself.
What, you want me to tell you who it is? Nah, that'll come. In the story entitled THE ROOK NEVERMORE! coming soon in Tales of the Rook!