Ron Marz is no stranger to comic book readers. Looking at his comicbookdb profile he’s almost run the alphabetical gamut as a writer. Seriously, he’s just missing series with titles starting with K, L, and Y.
While his name is most closely associated with Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner to be precise), he’s also written titles featuring pulp or pulp style characters. These include the Batman/Tarzan: Claws of the Cat-Woman mini for DC, Hellboy: Weird Tales #5 for Dark Horse, Conan: The Isle of No Return mini from Dark Horse, The Phantom Annual for Moonstone, and Red Sonja #30 for Dynamite Comics.
His recent foray into the pulp comics world was the mash-up The Shadow Over Innsmouth from Dynamite Entertainment. A trip to Barsoom is currently in the cards for Ron with John Carter: Warlord of Mars from Dynamite Entertainment.
Dynamite Entertainment and ERB Inc have reached a mutually beneficial partnership in publishing stories based on the worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Hence the John Carter name in the title. John Carter: Warlord of Mars #1 hit stores last month in November. Issue #2 is due out this Wednesday November 10th. Ron graciously answered some of Pulp Crazy’s questions about the new series.
Pulp Crazy: Ron, first let me say thanks for agreeing to the interview during what is no doubt a very busy time. I’ll just jump right into it things. First, I wanted to ask you about The Shadow Over Innsmouth one-shot from Dynamite Entertainment. You wrote that very much in the spirit of The Shadow pulp magazines, without using any of the supernatural elements developed for the radio show or comic books. Was that a conscious effort?
Ron Marz: I wanted to stick with what was essentially a crime story with supernatural overtones. Obviously if you actually bring Cthulhu into the story, the Shadow isn’t really the dominant force in the plot anymore. But more than that, I really wanted to stick to the elements that are in the original “Innsmouth” story. The Elder Gods don’t really rise from the depths and make a big appearance in that story, it’s much more of a mysterious, moody piece.
PC: Speaking of Pulps, when did you first discover Edgar Rice Burroughs and Barsoom? What is your favorite Edgar Rice Burroughs book? Your favorite Edgar Rice Burroughs character?
RM: I discovered all of the Burroughs stuff at just the right age, maybe 11 or 12, and devoured all of it. I think the stuff that you latch onto at that magic age is the stuff that stays with you for the rest of your life. I don’t know that I have one specific favorite book, but the Mars books are my favorite series. And if I had to pick one character as a favorite, I suppose it would be Tarzan, just because he appears in so many more adventures than John Carter.
PC: John Carter: Warlord of Mars, how are you approaching this new series continuity wise? Is it set within a certain period of the Edgar Rice Burroughs original stories, or is this in a new continuity? Can you tease at the plot for the first arc?
RM: I’m not getting overly precious with the continuity in terms of exactly when these stories take place, other than the “classic” period with John and Dejah front and center. Continuity should be a tool a writer uses, not the other way around. I wanted to do a big story for the first arc, so we’re jumping in with a six-issue storyline initially. One of my main goals, in addition to firmly establishing the characters and setting, is to introduce a villain who’s actually worthy of John Carter’s prowess. So in the first issue, we meet Captain Joshua Clark, a Union officer, who is in many ways John Carter’s complete opposite number.
PC: Who really is John Carter? One big mystery has always been John Carter’s past. In the original stories he never recalled his childhood. As long as he can remember he has been a fighting man in his physical prime. Do you plan to address this in the new series?
RM: You know, I’ve toyed with the idea of exploring that a bit, but so far I keep coming back to the notion that sometimes it’s good to let a mystery remain a mystery. I think I liked Wolverine better when we didn’t know his past, when his “origin” hadn’t been revealed. Not all stories have to be told.
PC: The covers feature John Carter and Dejah Thoris quite prominently, as well as Tars Tarkas and Woola. Can you give us an idea of who the main cast will be?
RM: You just named them. As far as I’m concerned, those are the characters that the audience wants to read about, and they’re certainly the characters that I want to write about. It’s the same as when I wrote “Star Wars” comics for Dark Horse. I wanted to write stories about Luke and Han and Leia and Darth Vader, not the third Storm Trooper on the left.
PC: Starting with the fourth book in the series, John Carter takes a backseat to new Barsoomian heroes. Will Carthoris, Thuvia and Kantos Kan play any roles? I have to admit my favorite character is Gahan of Gahol, from The Chessmen of Mars, any plans for him to show up?
RM: I’d like to eventually work in all those characters, but my plans for the foreseeable future are to concentrate on John, Dejah and Tars. Honestly, I’ve wanted to write these characters since I was 11 years old, so I’m going to make them my focus.
PC: I hear you are putting the War into Warlord when it comes to this new series. Can you describe the tone of the book? Will this be written as story arcs or serialized single issue stories?
RM: The original novels are full of action — chase scenes, escapes, sword fights. The comics are going to be action-oriented as well. I don’t think anyone is showing up to see John and Dejah have tea. I’m approaching this in much the same manner that I approach anything that I write. It’s all meant to be character-driven, and visually appealing. These are comics. If we’re not giving you something interesting and exciting to look at, you might as well go read a book without any pictures. My plan is to alternate between longer arcs and shorter ones, with some single-issue stories thrown in as well.
PC: What is it like not only Dynamite Entertainment, but also Edgar Rice Buroughs Inc? Can you give us an idea of how the creative process goes? Do both entities have to sign off on plots and story ideas, as well as the finished product?
RM: Both Dynamite and Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., have given me a pretty free hand with these stories. I have a relationship with ERB, Inc. already, since I’m writing a couple of weekly strips for their website. I’m writing “Korak,” with art by Rick Leonardi, and “The Mucker,” with art by Lee Moder, and coloring on both by Neeraj Menon. The work of Burroughs played a huge part in me wanting to become a writer. So I feel like I’m repaying some of that debt by working on these projects. Being trusted to follow the footsteps of Edgar Rice Burroughs is absolutely an honor.
PC: You are working with Abhishek Malsuni on John Carter: Warlord of Mars, how is Barsoom looking through his lens? What was your first reaction to his interior artwork on the book?
RM: I’m thrilled with what Abhishek and the rest of the art team are doing. I had worked with Abhishek on some projects for the Indian comics market, and even then I felt like his style would be a great fit for John Carter stories. I feel very fortunate that the whole thing has fallen into place. You’ll have to take my word for it, since only the first issue is out so far, but each issue looks better than the previous one.
PC: Anything you want to say to fans of classic Edgar Rice Burroughs characters? Do you think this will be up their alley?
RM: I would hope that fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs are already reading the book, and I hope they’re pleased with what we’re doing. I also hope we’re able to lure in readers who haven’t been exposed to this material before. That’s going to be the real test of what we’re doing, reeling in people who haven’t visited Barsoom previously. I want everybody, old fans and new ones alike.
I wrote a review for Leaving Megalopolis Volume 1 by Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore for The Lovecraft E-Zine. Think of The Walking Dead, but with homicidal superheroes instead of zombies.
D.L. Suharski is the creator and writer of Legends of Log. It’s a sword & sorcery comic and prose series starring a giant ax wielding log. The Kickstarter is underway here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/573814937/legends-of-log-giant-size-annual
I also embedded the video for the Kickstater above.
D.L. was kind enough to answer some questions about Legends of Log and the Kickstarter campgain for the Giant Size 2015 annual. We also discuss some of his influences.
PC: So what’s the deal with Legends of Log? Did you receive some type of prophetic vision of Guardians of the Galaxy hitting big, and then proceeded to create your own wood-based hero to rival the great Groot? Seriously, where did you come up with such a crazy concept of a giant log with an ax? How would you describe the character?
Log doesn’t compare to the great Groot, but the mighty Log does have his advantages. He carries a giant ax. So If they were to do battle, I’m pretty sure Log would be doing some heavy swinging.
As for the idea, I came up with the concept of Log and his legends from a comic strip that I’ve been drawing since 2010. In the comic strip is a humorous talking log. He doesn’t carry an ax or anything like that. He’s just there to take the brunt of the jokes and punchlines tossed at him.
Anyhow, In 2012, I imagined taking this character I had been drawing and changing him into a bigger and stronger log. A log that carried an ax and lived back in the days of the dark age. And is he big! He’s a giant compared to humans. I would describe him as the strong silent type. But when he gets mad, watch out!
PC: I’m getting a big sword and sorcery vibe from these Legends of Log images. Do you have any favorite pulp characters or creators that may have influenced your work with Legends of Log?
Log is mostly inspired by Conan the Barbarian books and comics. Along with others like Thongor, Brak the Barbarian, Kull the Destroyer and all those other types of characters. I read a lot of paperback books of sword and sorcery when I was a kid. From all the famous fantasy authors like Lin Carter, Andrew Oufftt, Michael Moorcock, Jack Vance, John Jakes, Fritz Leiber and of course, Robert E. Howard.
PC: Tell us a little bit about the world Legends of Log takes place in.
Log’s world is not that big. It’s mostly the size of a very large island with a lot of UN-known lands beyond that. Which makes it nice to expand if I ever decide to make Log’s world bigger. But right now it consist of the North Woods – where Log lives. The South Woods – where the angry Ax men hold a grudge. The Dark Woods – where warlocks and sorcerers conjure up dark magic. The Sea of Oceans, – where Mermaids and giant Krakens dwell. The Wildlands – a savage jungle that is lost in time, and the Outlands. – where beast and creatures roam. All these places are covered by the dark gloom of dark spells and sorcery created within the Dark Woods. And it’s are all after one thing. A living breathing giant chunk of wood called Log.
PC: For those of us who haven’t read Legends of Log before, how would you describe the tone of the series? Is it straight sword and sorcery? Is there any comedy?
Although 90 percent of it is sword and sorcery. I did throw in some savage jungle girl stories where Log meets a girl named Corra from the Wildlands.
As for comedy, well… I think the fact that since Log is a log and he carries an ax and yells, “TIMBERRRRR!” May say it all.
PC: I took a look around your website and saw that you have produced three comics and two prose books pertaining to Legends of Log so far. Does the Legends of Log Giant Size 2015 Annual include all new material?
The book does include new material including three stories from the previous mini comics.
PC: Are there multiple tales in the annual? Are the stories in the annual self-contained? Do readers need to pick up past issues or books or can we jump right in here?
There are ten tales all together and they are all self-contained. The reader doesn’t have to read any other previous books or comics to enjoy the stories. But some of the stories do give hints and clues to a bigger story that will eventually happen to the mighty Log. And I can’t wait to tell that story. But it won’t happen till we get further down the road with the annuals.
PC: The Kickstarter campaign for the Legends of Log Giant Size 2014 Annual is underway and will be active until October 6, 2014. I see you have a variety of tiers, from a price friendly PDF of the issue to some higher tiers, where a limited number of backers get to take part in the comics creation. I think there is a tier there for everybody who is interested in a fun sword & sorcery book. Do you have anything to say in closing to prospective backers out there who are fans of pulp and sword & sorcery?
I’m a big fan of the pulp era and of sword & sorcery. The whole Legends of Log book is based on action and adventure. And although it may have a small extra punch of humor that you may not find in your normal S&S. I really think you might get a kick out of this book. I mean come-on, A log with an ax? What could be funner than that.
PC: Thanks for answering my questions. I look forward to seeing the finished product.
Thanks Jason for giving me the Opportunity. Keep up the great work on Pulp Crazy.
Legends of Log 2015 Giant Size Annual Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/573814937/legends-of-log-giant-size-annual
Legends of Log Website: http://www.legendsoflog.com
Legends of Log Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/legendsoflog
Today is the birthday of Edgar Rice Burroughs. His work and imagination have inspired generations upon generations of fictioneers. The influence of Tarzan and the Barsoom (John Carter of Mars) series alone are immeasurable. Here are some links to free eBooks and audio book of ERB’s work, as well as websites who are keeping the memory of ERB alive.
Free eBook at Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/search/?query=Edgar+Rice+Burroughs
Free audio books at Librivox.org: https://librivox.org/author/698?primary_key=698&search_category=author&search_page=1&search_form=get_results
Burroughs Bibliophiles: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Burroughs-Bibliophiles/107108829310397
Thanks to Mike Davis at the Lovecraft E-Zine for hosting my review of Phileas Fogg and the War of Shadows by Josh Reynolds. The new novella can be ordered from Meteor House Press from the address below.
Today is H.P. Lovecraft’s birthday. To say he has the one of the biggest followers amongst pulp writers to this day is a bit of an understatement.
Below are links to free Lovecraft eBooks and Audio Books, as well as the Lovecraf eZine, an online magazine keeping the Lovecraftian tradition alive. They have new Lovecraftian fiction and some great multimedia links to Lovecraftian audio and video.
Free Lovecraft eBooks courtesy of CthulhuChick: http://cthulhuchick.com/free-complete-lovecraft-ebook-nook-kindle/
Free Lovecraft Audio Books, nearly complete collection: https://archive.org/details/NearlyCompleteHPLovecraftCollection
The Lovecraft EZine – http://lovecraftzine.com
I have an article published on MajorSpoilers.com that explains how Philip Jose Farmer’s Wold Newton Family concept was depicted in The Shadow: Midnight in Moscow #1 by Howard Chaykin.
Thanks to Stephen at MajorSpoilers.com for publishing it.
Jim Beard and fellow hosts of the Eye on Your Weekend radioshow/podcast interview author Will Murray on his new book, Wordslingers: An Epitaph For The Western. This book is about the western pulp writers and the western pulp market / genre. It debuted at Pulpfest 2013 and is now available on the Altus Press Website and Amazon (where you can check out the interior pages).
The interview starts around the 19:20 mark and can be listened to here.