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Christopher Paul Carey Interview

Cover artwork by Bob Eggleton
Cover artwork by Bob Eggleton

Pulp Crazy got a chance to sit down with author Christopher Paul Carey to discuss the upcoming standalone release of The Song of Kwasin, the conclusion to Philip José Farmer’s original Khokarsa/Ancient Opar trilogy.  This is the first time the novel will be available as a standalone edition; it’s the perfect time to pick this up if you’ve been wondering what happens after Hadon of Ancient Opar and Flight to Opar

Chris gives us the lay of the land in terms of the Khokarsa/Ancient Opar series and discusses the history of The Song of Kwasin, providing some insight into the process of working with Philip José Farmer in completing it.  

The Song of Kwasin is the sequel to Philip José Farmer’s Hadon of Ancient Opar (1974) and Flight to Opar (1976), and yet the novel has a different main character. How does The Song of Kwasin continue the storyline of those books?

The first novel of the series stars Hadon of Opar and his wayward adventures after the power-hungry King Minruth cheats him out of winning the throne of Khokarsa by sending him on a fool’s errand into the Wild Lands beyond the empire. Here Hadon runs across his giant, half-mad cousin Kwasin, who has been exiled for his crimes against a priestess of the Great Mother Goddess Kho. After succeeding in his quest, Hadon returns back to the capital with Kwasin and their companions, only to find the empire torn asunder by a civil war. We last see Kwasin in the prow of a boat, swinging his mighty ax of meteoritic iron against Minruth’s overwhelming forces while Hadon and the others escape. In the second novel of the series, a prophecy of the oracle hurls Hadon back to his home city of Opar, but we hear nothing of Kwasin except that he has somehow become king of Dythbeth, a city on the island of Khokarsa that’s at war with Minruth and his armies. The Song of Kwasin picks up right after the events of Hadon of Ancient Opar, and is the story of how Kwasin tries to clear his name and take the fight to Minruth against insurmountable odds. So The Song of Kwasin actually takes place concurrently with many of the events in Flight to Opar.

How did you come to coauthor The Song of Kwasin with Philip José Farmer?

I was serving as coeditor of Farmerphile, a periodical dedicated to publishing Philip José Farmer’s rare and previously unpublished writing, when the original outline and partial manuscript of The Song of Kwasin was found in Phil’s files in 2005. When Farmerphile’s publisher, Michael Croteau, sent me photocopies of the outline and manuscript so we could see whether we wanted to use them in the magazine, I could hardly believe what I was seeing—Kwasin’s epic tale and the entire arc of the war against King Minruth spelled out in full. I knew immediately that the story had to be written, so I wrote up a pitch and sent it to Phil, who at that time had retired from writing. Much to my surprise, he accepted it. I think the fact that we both had a mutual love of anthropology and the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs and H. Rider Haggard—all inspirations for the series—had a lot to do with his decision. I also believe he was excited by the idea of seeing the main arc of the trilogy finally completed. He’d been considering completing the third volume of the series as late as 1999, but he retired shortly after that and then had a number of health setbacks in the years that followed. In 2005, I was in the middle of a graduate study program in writing. Phil and his wife Bette both agreed that I should complete my studies before I began writing the novel, which I did. Though I completed The Song of Kwasin in early 2008, novel wasn’t published until 2012 due to other Farmer projects in the pipes with the publisher. But Phil, who passed in February 2009, was able to see the completed novel, which Bette read aloud to him. And for that I’m glad. I think it meant a lot to Phil to know the novel he’d long planned was at last finished.

What did Philip José Farmer think of the completed novel?

Bette Farmer told me it brought a big smile to Phil’s face to hear Kwasin’s adventures, and that they both really enjoyed it.

Did Mr. Farmer give you any direction while you were working on the novel?

Yes. Early on he told me how he wanted the novel to end. I was able to ask him some questions about alternative courses he’d left open in the outline, and he told me to disregard those and how he wanted the novel to wrap up now that it was to be positioned as the climax of a trilogy. That was all extremely helpful. Later on he was too ill to give me much input, but by then I was already writing the novel and we’d worked out where the story was headed. I’ll always be grateful to Phil for his generosity and encouragement.

The Song of Kwasin was previously available only as part of an omnibus. Could you discuss the bonus materials that will appear in the new standalone edition of The Song of Kwasin, which is due out from Meteor House in December 2015?

First up, there’s a stellar introduction by Paul Di Filippo. That’s a huge honor and treat for me because I admire his writing so much. Then I’ve written a preface to the new edition, giving a lot of background on how the book came to be written. Following the novel comes “Kwasin and the Bear God,” a 20,000-word novella based on Philip José Farmer’s outline that relates a lost adventure set between the first two chapters of The Song of Kwasin. The new edition also includes a “Guide to Khokarsa,” rare articles by Farmer, reproductions of some of his notes on the series, the original and alternate outlines to The Song of Kwasin, and previously unpublished correspondence by Farmer with Frank J. Brueckel and John Harwood, authors of “Heritage of the Flaming God,” the monumental essay that inspired the Khokarsa series.

You mentioned that The Song of Kwasin was the climax of a trilogy. Has the series been completed or is there more coming?

If you read The Song of Kwasin, you’ll understand why I say it’s the end of the main story arc of a trilogy. But there’s still a lot left to tell of the saga of Khokarsa. At one time, Phil said he planned to write twelve books in the series. Using Phil’s notes on where the story was headed, I wrote Hadon, King of Opar, which should be considered the fourth volume in the Khokarsa series. Its sequel, Blood of Ancient Opar, is slated to be published in 2016. After that, I have plans for a trilogy about Hadon’s son, Kohr. I’m also toying with the idea of someday returning to the character Lupoeth, the priestess-heroine of Exiles of Kho, my novella about the origin of the city of Opar. But we’ll see. Right now I’m committed to writing Blood of Ancient Opar and the new trilogy about Kohr. Only Kho and the golden tablets from the lost cities of Opar and Kôr know what happens after that!

The Song of Kwasin releases in December 2015 and can be preordered here.

Christopher Paul Carey
Christopher Paul Carey

Christopher Paul Carey is the coauthor with Philip José Farmer of The Song of Kwasin, and the author of Exiles of Kho and Hadon, King of Opar. His short fiction may be found in anthologies such as Ghost in the Cogs, Tales of the Shadowmen, The Worlds of Philip José Farmer, Tales of the Wold Newton Universe, and The Avenger: The Justice, Inc. Files. He is a senior editor at Paizo on the award-winning Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and has edited numerous collections, anthologies, and novels. He holds a master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. Visit him online at http://cpcarey.com.

Pulp Crazy – Douglas Klauba Interview

Artwork by Douglas Klauba
Artwork by Douglas Klauba

 

Douglas Klauba
Douglas Klauba

Odds are if you’re a pulp fan, you’ve heard the name Douglas Klauba, or at least seen an image he’s illustrated. Douglas was kind enough to answer some questions about what got him interested in the pulps, as well as his latest projects. This includes the 2016 Douglas Klauba Adventure Calendar, currently going into its final few days on Kickstarter.

Pulp Crazy: Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview, Douglas. Your name is a familiar one to pulp fans, and it’s an honor to interview you on Pulp Crazy. As someone who owns a number of the Moonstone anthologies your covers adorn, I love your illustrations of pulp characters. How did you first get interested in the pulps?

Douglas Klauba: Thank you so much! I started getting into pulp art at an early age, early teens while collecting comic books, monster magazines, and paperbacks. And because I was a Steranko fan, I collected his Shadow and other paperbacks that he did covers for, like Weird Heroes. Eventually, Steranko’s Chandler was released and it made a huge impression upon me as a young artist. I was then picking up the comic book versions of The Shadow, The Avenger, Doc Savage, Conan, and John Carter of Mars. It all started to click with me that these new interpretations came from an original source, aside from old time radio… and I ended up becoming a bigger fan of pulp heroes over comic book heroes.

Pulp Crazy: Who are some of your favorite pulp artists? Do any particular pulp covers stand out in your mind?

Douglas Klauba: J. Allen St. John, Rudolph Belarski, Walter Baumhofer, Norm Saunders, Virgil Finlay, Edward Cartier, George Rozen, Rafael DeSoto, and Hubert Rogers. I don’t think I could pick a favorite cover… way too hard: maybe a Rozen cover of The Shadow or a Doc Savage. I do love many Astounding covers by Hubert Rogers.

Pulp Crazy: Has classic pulp art influenced your style? If yes, how so?

Douglas Klauba: Very much so. From figurative, colors, lighting, and composition. I also enjoy working in a black and white pulp influenced style.

Pulp Crazy: What is your favorite genre to draw? Do you find yourself more at home with the hero pulps, science fiction, fantasy, crime, or some other genre within the greater realm of the pulps?

Douglas Klauba: I really do love all that you’ve mentioned. I’ve been fortunate to have been hired by Moonstone for many of their pulp hero books. I like developing paintings with science fiction woman with plenty of retro ray guns and space ships. I’m also a huge fan of the hard boiled private eyes and detectives. I plan on continuing a personal series of paintings in that genre.

Pulp Crazy: What pulp character do you enjoy drawing the most? Is this your favorite pulp character?

Douglas Klauba: While I’m a huge fan of The Shadow, and Doc Savage, as well as The Spider – I really like illustrating crime / detective images. I think I enjoy all the characters equally. I’ve never illustrated The Shadow in color but hope to in the next couple of weeks, after I finish my current painting I’m working on of John Carter, Dejah Thoris, and Tars Tarkas.

Pulp Crazy: Do you have a particular pulp series or character you enjoy reading?

Douglas Klauba: I really enjoy the John Carter books. Some days I like to read The Shadow, while other days I’m in the mood for The Spider.

Pulp Crazy: Outside of pulp characters, what other types of illustrations do you like to create?

Douglas Klauba: Anything to do with movies! I recently completed a commemorative poster for the Clive Barker film, Lord of Illusions. I’m also working on an original pulp inspired adventure graphic
novel, that I hope to finish one day….

Pulp Crazy: You currently have a Kickstarter campaign going to fund a 2016 calendar featuring your artwork, The Douglas Klauba 2016 Adventure Calendar. The Kickstarter campaign has a really nice selection of backing options and reward levels. As of this interview you have 5 days left and are only $500 away from the project being funded. Tell us a little bit about this project. How did it come into being? How difficult was it to pick just 12 images?

Douglas Klauba: I really owe it all to my friend, Bob Garcia. We were discussing projects one day, probably at the Windy City Pulp and Paperback Show, and he really got the ball rolling. I wanted to put some of these pulp themed images in a collection of some sort. Bob ended up presenting a calendar design that blew me away, and then he redesigned it – and it blew me away even more. He also helped me decide on which images.

Bob and I have worked on many book covers and poster projects together. I love his art direction, I trust his judgement, and we work really well together. After his successful, and beautiful The Collectors Book Of Virgil Finlay on Kickstarter, he thought that I could publish this with his guidance. I’ve been pleasantly surprised finding out that there are art fans, and pulp art fans that want to hang my work up every month. So, here we are days away of knowing if the Adventure Calendar will be fully funded or not.

Pulp Crazy: Do you have any other pulp related projects in the works that you can talk about?

Douglas Klauba: Well, as I mentioned, I’m working on a black and white pulp inspired graphic novel. I have a few commissions lined up that need to be taken care of. There are a couple of other projects that are too early to discuss, but I’d be thrilled to announce once they begin.

Pulp Crazy: Thanks again for agreeing to the interview, Douglas. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the 2016 calendar and future pulp related books featuring your artwork.

Douglas Klauba: Thank you, Jason! I can’t wait to get it into your hands and onto your wall as well!

Back the Douglas Klauba 2016 Adventure Calendar on Kickstarter:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1800646484/the-douglas-klauba-2016-adventure-calendar

Visit Douglas’ Website: http://www.douglasklauba.com/index.php

Ron Marz Interview – John Carter: Warlord of Mars

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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.

 

Thanks Ron, and congrats on living out one of your childhood dreams! See you on Barsoom!bombshellcover