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Okay, the work is done and Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom is on the verge of its rebirth as a much improved, fully illustrated edition. We even have the bar code.
One of the final delays was that we wanted to include an excerpt and the cover from the second book, Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull, in the back of Frogs, so Gary Chaloner actually had to paint the thing. Seems like that takes time. Who knew?
Anyway, though it will get some tweaking between now and its actual publication, it is effectively done, ready for your eyes...
UPDATE: To see the cover complete with title and branding, just look in the sidebar. Click on the image there and it'll zoom out...]
Attention fans of Doc Wilde and great pulp adventure in general:
The 1994 film version of The Shadow is coming to Blu-ray.
This isn't just good news because the film is a visual delight and should have already been available thus, but because in the nearly twenty years of the film's existence, it has never been released on disk in the USA in its proper widescreen aspect ratio. The DVD is one of those butcheries known as “pan and scan,” in which they’ve sliced the sides of the image off in order to make it fit on an old-fashioned, non-widescreen TV screen. This kind of treatment is a travesty for any film, but The Shadow is a really nicely shot, lushly designed film, so it’s doubly so.
Here's a short review Doc Wilde author Tim Byrd wrote of the film a couple of years ago:
I know a lot of pulp fans don’t like this movie. But I (almost) love it.
It does make the common error of not trusting the source material and playing things for laughs, but unlike Doc Savage, it doesn’t descend into Adam West’s Batman levels of camp, and actually earns some real laughs. There is silliness in the film, but there is also some real wit. The banter between Lamont Cranston (the Shadow’s secret identity) and Margo Lane often feels like it came from an old Billy Wilder flick:
Margo: We need each other.
Lamont: No we don’t.
Margo: We have a connection.
Lamont: No we don’t.
Margo: Then how can you explain that I can read your thoughts?
Lamont: My thoughts are hard to miss.
Margo: And why is that?
Lamont: Psychically, I’m very well endowed.
Margo: I’ll bet you are.
Alec Baldwin is fantastic in the title role. As Lamont Cranston, who was Bruce Wayne before Bruce Wayne, he’s dashing and charismatic and smart. When he takes on the Shadow identity, his appearance actually changes, showing the darker self he usually hides, with his eyes going black and his nose taking on the sharp aquiline shape that was seen on hundreds of pulp covers.
And the Shadow looks AWESOME. Baldwin has great physicality in the role (including a snappy two-gun quick-draw from his shoulder holsters), the costume design is gorgeous, and director Russell Mulcahy, for all his foibles as a storyteller, makes him look great both in some great action sequences and in some brilliantly composed and iconic hero shots. For that matter, the film in general is beautiful, capturing the Art Deco style of the era with elan. And Penelope Ann Miller’s Margo Lane is sizzling hot.
Over at deviantART, artist Muzski has posted a series of cartoony covers for some of H.P. Lovecraft's classic pulp horror stories:
Here's one with relevance to Doc Wilde, because the story it illustrates is a strong influence on Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom:
Okay, folks, here's what's happening:
Doc Wilde is not only returning, he's almost here.
As noted elsewhere on this (new and improved) site, I originated the series with Penguin/Putnam, then opted for more creative control on the books by going independent. This took some time. First, I had to go through the process which allowed me to regain all rights to the books they had bought from me. Then, I brought artist Gary Chaloner on board, because he had always been my first choice to work on the Wildes and now that could happen.
Early last year, I ran a very successful Kickstarter for the series, in the process declaring what proved an insanely optimistic release schedule for the first five books. By the original schedule, the fourth book would be about to come out right about now. Instead, the rerelease of Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, the only book Penguin actually published before I went indie, is nigh.
But let me tell you, it was worth the wait. Gary's art (which is featured all over this site) is incredible, and this new edition is packed with his illustrations. He has also handled the branding and book design for the series, and these are going to be gorgeous books.
This new edition also features my "Author's Cut" preferred edit of the book, which adds a bit more character depth and action to the tale.
As I type this, Gary is on the other end of the planet, finishing the layout for the book and making a few last minute touch ups to the art. Once I okay the files, they'll go to the printer for a draft copy to be printed in order to make sure everything works properly. While that happens, the ebook versions will go out to the wonderful Kickstarter supporters who are waiting for them, as well as being uploaded for sale online.
Once the draft process is finished for the printed book, copies of it will also make their way to supporters and be offered for sale online. Getting into bookstores will be a longer, more involved process; the book will be available for distribution to, and special order by, the stores, and we will fully support the merchants who support us.
So, that's the news from Wilde HQ. And I cannot wait to get this book, and the ones to follow, into your hands...
Over at Goodreads, the Pulp Magazine Authors and Literature Fans group is discussing my book, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom (it was the official common read for November, but the discussion is only really just beginning).
I’d like to invite any and all of you to join in, or at least hop by and take a peek:
If you’re a reader and you’re not taking advantage of Goodreads, you should be. It’s a great site for sharing and discovering books, and there’s a lot of dialogue between not only readers and other readers, but readers and writers.
I found wisdom in a gamebook the other day, advice I think everyone should take, everyone should remember, everyone should act on.
The game is called Spirit of the Century, and its setting is the world of pulp adventure, in the years following World War I. It's a tabletop roleplaying game which allows you to take on the role of a pulp hero along the lines of Doc Wilde, Doc Savage, The Shadow, Tarzan, Indiana Jones, or Rick and Evy O'Connell from the Mummy movies.
It's a great game. If you're interested in trying out roleplaying with your friends, its rules are easy to learn and use. (It's also so good its initial print run sold out, so at the moment it's tough to find, though it's going to be reprinted).
So anyway, I was reading my copy, all revved up to play (which hopefully we'll be doing soon), when I got to a section called Changing The World: The Core of Pulp in which the authors try to express the spirit of the pulps, and of the heroes who adventured through their pages. That's where I found the wisdom:
Pulp runs on a few simple principles: action, science and optimism.
Of these principles, optimism is the most potent. It is not the shallow, sunny disposition that we so often equate with optimism, nor is there a denial of that which is terrible in the world. Instead, optimism is a tacit understanding that things can be better – that if you give people a chance, they’ll do the right thing, and even if they don’t, enough people will that things can change for the better...
...Because you can make a difference, you should. Taking action can change things, and if you do not change things for the better, there will always be people willing to change them for the worse. Choosing not to act is like sticking your head in the sand and hoping for the best — it’s far more likely to get you shot in the rear...
In the end, the question...is simple. The world can be, should be, a better place. What are you doing about that?
Optimism and Action. Certainly Doc Wilde and his amazing family live that way. And, you know what? I want to live that way too.
We can make the world better, you and I, at least in little ways. We should, not just because little ways add up (which they do), but because doing so at the very least makes our own lives worthwhile.
Be optimistic. Take action. Be a pulp hero in your own world.
Author Will Murray just posted these short comments on my book in various forums devoted to pulp adventure fiction:
Over the weekend I read Tim Byrd's young adult Doc Savage pastiche novel. Let me say that DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM is a pulp-pounding ribbiting croaker of a tale! It mixes a 21st century version of the Man of Bronze and his extended family of adventurers with evil Lovecraftian frogazoids infiltrating our reality via the South American republic of Hidalgo. It's out in May.
This is a particularly gratifying review for me, because Doc Wilde is in many ways an homage to the old pulp hero Doc Savage (see more on the Suggested Reading page), and Will is the official manager for the literary estate of Lester Dent, Doc Savage's creator. Will has also written seven actual Doc Savage novels (published under the pen name "Kenneth Robeson," just as all of Dent's stories were).
So the current keeper of the Doc Savage literary legacy loves Doc Wilde.
That's pretty cool.