November 30, 2017
by Professor 100

Jess Nevins’ Strange Tales of the Century

Jess Nevins explores deep into the forgotten histories of the fantastic and brings those tales back to us.

Sometimes the ideas suggested by pulp fiction can be more interesting than the actual stories. What often excites me about pulp fiction as a genre is the promise it offers of strange worlds, evocative situations, unusual characters, and intense action. Yet this promise is not always realized. Many pulp authors created amazing stories, but even the best writers sometimes came up with insane ideas that they did not have the time or ability to fully develop. Take McCulley’s Crimson Clown as an example of one very strange hero who could and should have engaged in the most freakish escapades, but instead was used to tell relatively pedestrian crime adventure stories. It is Pulp’s promise of weird and beautiful wonder that motivates writers like pulp historian and scholar Jess Nevins to examine the culture and history of pulp fiction even when the specific stories do not live up to the strange adventure they suggest. Nevins  was responsible for igniting my interest in pulp fiction with his astonishingly complete Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes and if you’re into this genre you have likely heard of him.

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November 24, 2015
by Professor 100

The Crimson Clown


The Crimson Clown was a brilliantly strange concept for a pulp crime-fighting hero that provided readers with enjoyable thrills, but never quite reached the bizarre excellence his premise offered. The Clown was created by Johnston McCulley and debuted in 1926 in Detective Story Magazine. Collections of the stories featuring the character were reprinted over the years by a variety of publishers including Chelsea House, Cassell in the UK, and Ramble House.

McCulley was a very prolific pulp scribe who secured his place in pop culture history with the creation of  Zorro. You’re familiar with Zorro, of course. The masked swashbuckling swordsman of old California would be an adventure fiction mainstay for decades, spawning many versions and imitators in a variety of media. In addition to Zorro, McCulley created a myriad of other heroes and villains for the pulps. The Man in Purple, the Black Star, the Spider, all of whom had great concepts, but were often presented in pedestrian chase stories, or episodic crime yarns. Often these stories depicted the the hero gaining and losing the upper hand in his conflict with the villain in a predictable formula that typically depended more on coincidence and unbelievable occurrences rather than clever storytelling or credible plotting. This is not to say those tales aren’t enjoyable, because they frequently were. It is likely that much of the stories’ weaknesses originated in the challenge of meeting multiple deadlines rather than a lack of storytelling skill on the part of the writer. This was a common dilemma for pulp writers.  Whatever the reason it is unfortunate that such strange and striking characters were featured in stories that, while serviceable, were not as creative and bizarre.

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August 22, 2014
by Professor 100

New Pulp Fiction: Robots Unleashed!

robots unleashed pic

Robots Unleashed!

Edited by James Palmer

Stories by: James R. Tuck, Joel Jenkins, James Kinley

Available at Amazon.com

From Mechanoid Press

ISBN-10: 1494704668     ISBN-13: 978-1494704667

The Robots are Coming! Prepare yourself for these three awesome tales of robotic adventure. From the immediate past to the far future and every point in between! Join us as editor James Palmer (Monster Earth) brings together writers James R. Tuck (the Deacon Chalk series), Joel Jenkins (Dire Planet) and newcomer James Kinley bring you three startling tales of robotic action!

Witness as… Two pulp heroes must stop an invasion of giant Nazi robots… The President of the United States is kidnapped by sentient robots intent on enslaving humanity—and finds an unlikely ally… A disabled soldier gets a second chance to defend his country when he merges with a giant alien robot to fight off a daikaiju invasion! From the editor of Monster Earth and Strange Trails comes this mechanized trilogy of non-stop pulp action! If you like robots, you’ll love… Robots Unleashed!


August 22, 2014
by Professor 100

New Pulp Fiction: Rat-A-Tat: Short Blasts of Pulp

rat-a-tat pic

Rat-A-Tat: Short Blasts of Pulp

Available at Amazon.com Paperback or Kindle.

  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (June 8, 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 1500133752
  • ISBN-13: 978-1500133757

Like Bullets from a Tommy Gun, Pro Se Productions delivers Pulp like no one else in Rat-A-Tat: Short Blasts of Pulp! Today’s best Genre Fiction authors pull their fedoras down tight, charge their laser blasters, and barrel full speed ahead into Rat-A-Tat. This two fisted collection features short short fiction designed to illicit the same emotions, the same edge of the seat thrill, the same action and adventure as classic Pulp stories and New Pulp novels. Thrill to Pulp delivered in quick, sharp blasts from a rogues’ gallery of authors! Rat-A-Tat: Short Blasts of Pulp from Pro Se Productions.


March 15, 2013
by Professor 100

Argenteum Astrum: “Beyond the Beyond!” Episode Zero Excerpt



The call goes out.
            The year is 1946.  The time is just after nine.  The place is Pasadena, a rocket-fueled, citrus-tinted, nouveau riche cul-de-sac in Southern California.  Every freak, fakir, and fringe dweller within a hundred mile radius knows with a whisper or a shudder or a ring that all arcs of decadence and destiny converge tonight…at The Solarium.  Marvel Solaris is having a party.  The kind of affair that approaches and embodies the Platonic ideal of “party” and its shrill shadow, the vertiginous Sabbat.  His soirees are infamous.  No guest who penetrates this revel’s depths will leave as who they were in the vestibule.  Tonight was made for witching.
            On Orange Grove Boulevard (known as millionaire’s row), amongst the chewing gum tycoons and the vacuum magnates and the flickering crepuscular movie stars, there sprawls a lavish complex of American Craftsman mansionettes, modernistic laboratory cylinders, elegant Art Deco electrified fences, and ghostly greenhouse gazebos that warp and glow behind the sigh of the sycamores and the wavering willows.  This is the home and headquarters of world-famous rocket science prodigy Marvel Solaris.  A sanctum sanctorum with the soul of a circus.
            By ten, under the screaming galaxies of a sharper, blacker, and yet brighter night sky than the sky we know, a throng of wrong-headed weirdlings has already driven and hitched and slithered from dormitories and gutterscapes to the lightning-laced gates of this, The Unholy House of the Black Sun.  Clusters of central casting bohemians bumping elbows and uglies with Nobel Prize winning physicists, witchy dancers and savage avant-gardians sharing flame and smoke and innuendo with heretical Bishops and edgy intellectuals and brilliant but bomb-haunted Atom Daddies.
             They say that someone always goes mad at these Solarium parties.  They say the intoxicants flow so freely, the minds at play conduct mad ideas so fluently, and inhibitions melt so ecstatically in these exotic and luxurious spaces that windows open into Otherness, into shadowy parodies and autopsies of every guest’s innermost menagerie of secret sins and psychodramas.  They say that in-betweeners and haunted drifters get drawn to this place like moths to black flame, the angel in them snuffed and the meat of them missing the morning after and for always. Continue Reading →

March 14, 2013
by Professor 100

Mr. Now Death Dirge of the Hurang Excerpt

Mr. Now

The Death Dirge of the Hurang

by James J. Kinley


Strange Rendezvous


A giant glowing skull blazed across a night sky. The weird object roared through the upper atmosphere of a strange and distant planet, friction heat crackling on its skin.  A sudden change in vector proved that this was no natural phenomena but rather some strange craft piloted by an unseen hand.

The huge skull blasted on a collision course with the planet’s surface, plummeting downward. The atmosphere thickened and the wind grew from a low whistle to a high scream.  The heat from the object’s passage lit up the ground below.  Mere meters from the ground the ship came to a sudden stop as if the forces of inertia and momentum were mere words and nothing more.

The skull shaped vessel hovered above the ground for a moment and then, light as a kitten, settled to the planet’s surface.  It hummed quietly, spirals spinning slowly on its skin. Then, the grill at the object’s base ramped open and a tall figure emerged. A human man, so far from where any human had ever been, stood in the soft glow of the strange ship that he called the Device. He was the weird traveler known as Mr. Now come to this planet in fire and screaming for a rendezvous with a desperate alien race.

He was pale and lean with thick, silky hair the dark gray of some cats’. His boots touched the dusty soil of the planet and he glanced back at the skull ship that seemed to pulse with energy behind him. In response the ship shot into the sky so quickly that Mr. Now could hear the rush of air that filled the space the ship had occupied. Continue Reading →

February 24, 2013
by Professor 100

Ghostman Review

ghostman cover

  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition
  • ISBN-10: 0307959961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307959966

Ghostman by Roger Hobbs  is a breakout thriller novel that is also a New Pulp extravaganza.

There’s been much early press regarding the author who reportedly wrote this bare knuckle and brainy crime drama while graduating from Reed College in Portland, Oregon.  Hobbs’s author photo offers us the image of a smartly dressed young man with the soft face and knowing gaze of a Botticelli portrait. No matter his youth, he had the audacity and flat out ability to mix a delicious cocktail of researched realism, imagined criminal tradecraft, polished prose, and crowd-pleasing escapism that succeeds as a contemporary crime thriller and an excellent example of the new breed of pulp fiction.

Get this for a premise: the protagonist and narrator is a nameless, record-less criminal whose specialty is helping criminals disappear. He’s been given less than 48 hours to “fix” a heist gone very wrong, find the missing loot, and deal with two vicious crime lords who have a genius for using common household materials in uncommon and horrific ways. All the while he’s being stalked by a canny F.B.I. agent. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Not bad”; that’s not the half of it.

The plotting is as spare and fast as a grey hound, while still providing the gritty details of the protagonist’s life as a career criminal. It has the feel of a very well done action movie and that may be no accident. That the novel includes a couple of car chases (always tough to do well in prose) and Jason Bourne style fight scenes makes me think that this is an intentional choice by Hobbs to expedite the novel’s transfer to the big screen.  Smart move from an author who makes a lot of good decisions. It’s clear he knows the tastes of his target audience and that of the publishing world as well.

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February 15, 2013
by Professor 100

Argenteum Astrum Coming Attractions


By Jason Squamata copyright 2013

 ARGENTEUM ASTRUM: “BEYOND THE BEYOND!” is a twisted pulp fever dream, a dangerously tainted episodic cocktail of rocket science, astral astronomy, black magick, weird sex, and decadent old school espionage.

Follow shell-shocked compulsive pulp writer Cornelius Criswell from the mental ward of a military hospital in the wake of World War 2;

to a top secret institute of espionage where strange surgeries and brainwashing regimes add up to the perfect spy;

into the devil-worshipping supervillain demimonde of maniac scientist Marvel Solaris, his deranged cult of satanic sex maniacs and his star chamber coven of astral terrorists.

Follow a morally mercurial and deeply unreliable narrator into a voodootech thinktank disguised as a bohemian chateau of shame.

Into the recreational cruelties and psychotic master-plans of brilliant men and women who want to end the world as we know it and set space and time itself aflame as they escape it.  Into Eternity.

Follow this shifty grifter into a lusty labyrinth of orgone engines, dream-threshers, and spectral silver starships.

A wind-up spy going crazy in fits and starts, hunting and hunted in a house of devils where every other monster can read his mind.

Will our hero bust this cult, this demonic threat to the American Way and the fabric of reality itself?

Or will Cornelius Criswell slip ever more deeply into the convolutions of Marvel Solaris and his secret evil guru and their menagerie of delusions…until the other side of the looking glass and absolute madness are achieved?

Will Criswell bring the MetaBeast to justice or lose his own slippery soul to the acid-drooling syphilitic Buddha-bots that haunt the Moon Inside?

Only PULP IMPOSSIBLE provides you with the answers to these soul-shredding questions…and each solution is riddled, of course, with fresh and ferocious enigmas.

Don’t miss a single eviscerating episode of ARGENTEUM ASTRUM: “BEYOND THE BEYOND!”  Only in PULP IMPOSSIBLE!


February 8, 2013
by Professor 100

Pulp Family Profile: Dave Flora

Self-PortraitOne thing that’s always been true is that The Pulp World is populated by men and women who know they must dream big and then take action if they want to do the impossible.   A perfect example of this is artist, writer, web comic creator, blogger, actor, and seemingly indefatigable auteur Dave Flora.

I first encountered Flora’s work when he was posting his Doc Monster stories on DC comic’s now defunct web comic site Zuda. I was immediately struck with Flora’s vivid, atmospheric art and polished storytelling. It was instantly clear that his work was evocative of the best in pulp and genre culture. His art seems influenced by the sleek mid- 20th century  clean line illustration, movie cinematography, and the sensation of 1950s movie posters which conjures a world where adventure, strange horror, terrible beauty, and fascinating characters were around every corner.  Equally as important is Flora’s gift for character building and dialogue. His stories feature fully developed, believable characters as much as they are examples of Flora’s impressive artistic ability.  It’s also necessary to note that he’s doing it all himself; penciling, painting, lettering, etc.: that’s all him.

docmonster movie  DM scene

   Flora frequently sets his tales in recognizable historical periods such as the early to mid 20th Century. These milieus are done accurately and vividly, with just enough use of appropriate slang and pop culture references so as to affirm the setting without beating the reader over the head with it.  This also allows the reader an imagined romantic backdrop to give the fantastic events  more room to grow. But these are not dry showcases of technical brilliance.  These stories are strange and wild and blistering with fun.  For example:

Doc photo   Doc-and-Frank-poster


Doc Monster with his Rip Kirby style and inhumanly calculating demeanor quickly became one of my favorites of the New Pulp characters.  The title “Doc” implies his super-scientist hero pedigree, but he’s no hyper-trained do-gooder out to save the world, rather he’s a mysterious genius and monster hunter who is a bit of a monster  himself.  To counterpoint Doc’s strangeness he is teamed with a G-man handler who is, despite his training and wiseguy attitude, clearly over his head in Doc’s exotic world.

In true pulp fashion there’s a lot of big ideas happening in these stories.  In one case Doc has to deal with gigantic flying saucers that somehow blast off through the very ground, and in another he must combat strange, armor plated Mothmen that are preying on 1950’s hot-rodders.   Weird, wild and audacious, but Flora pulls it all off with panache by employing some truly smart storytelling and extraordinary artistic ability.

Then there’s the Ghost Zero stories of a masked vigilante set in a weird horror world.  Once again these stories showcase Flora’s technical skill as author and artist.  His characters are fully developed and realistic, while the visuals are truly stunning, looking as if they spring from some faded pulp magazine or black-and-white serial still.

ghostzero cover    ghostzero vigcryptghostzero vigcript2

With titles such as Escape from the Vigilante Crypt, The Fleshless Legion, and The Cast Iron Coffin Flora is burning with a hot Pulp flame. As much fun as this stuff is it’s also great to see him stretching his styles to illustrate such seminal horror works such as Varney the Vampire. Truly grotesque and atmospheric.  And to keep the pulp flag flying even higher he’s done renditions of the pulp hero The Spider and a movie teaser mash-up of Indiana Jones and The Shadow and many others.  Do yourself a favor and check out his work at his Deviantart gallery.

And while you’re at it, I’d be doing you an injustice, dear reader, if I didn’t point out that his work is available for sale  at Comicartfans.com and at Indyplanet.com.  Think about having these amazing pieces in your home, at the same time you’re helping to support a hard working pulp creator.  That’s the way to build a Pulp World.

What’s striking about all of these works is that clearly Flora puts a lot of thought into their execution. Regular visits to this blogspot will give you access to his essays on his craft and life as working artist. Also you’ll get a view into his skills outside of the genre as posts examples of his portraiture and other more traditional styles of fine art.  An impressive amount of work from someone who, according to his blog, has a wife, a day job, and acts in his area theater.  Clearly Flora is doing this because he loves it. When you feed that kind of work ethic and passion into something you’re bound to feel the special crackle of energy that has always signified pulp at its best.



Doc Monster and Ghost Zero copyright Dave Flora. All images copyright Dave Flora.  Used with permission.

January 12, 2013
by Professor 100

The Briny Maiden

The Briny Maiden: the changing house over the shifting waters.  

Copyright 2016 James J. Kinley

The Briny Maiden: a tavern of long, twisting history on the docks of a great American city. The Maiden is a vast, many roomed, thick-timbered edifice built on the dock itself over the shifting waters of a bustling port.  She is a revered destination for adventurers and voyagers from every land known and unknown. She is recognized far and wide as a place where the food and drink are excellent and where the rules are different and strange.

The Maiden is notorious for serving as hostess to an exotic stew of people from every station and type, people who lead lives that burn across the world like fire. Sailors and nomads, priests and professors, aesthetes and roughnecks, artists and thugs, academics and lawmen, villains and poets, heroes and fools, all gather under her high roof to drink, talk, sing, argue, suffer, plot, and most of all to tell their stories.

The stories that are told at the Briny Maiden can be heard nowhere else in the universe; stories of fantastic adventure and of pedestrian, banal suffering; stories of wild terror and baroque hilarity; tales of misadventure and lore, unimagined lands and weird delights.  Stories bright and blinding. Stories deep and foreboding. Stories that conjure, astonish and blur. Stories that sadden or inspire. Stories to chill you and stories that will change your life.


Yet for all of the stories we know little of the Briny Maiden’s past itself. References to her history confound and entice more than they explain.


Excerpt from the Encyclopedia of Unreliable Information (3rd Edition)
“One night early last century, stillness choked with seaside fog and the quiet before a last breath. The sounds of the port city are masked by the thick air. The darkness shuddered as an ancient wooden ship (the Briny Maiden by name) smashed into a dilapidated, abandoned dock with the sound of horrendous snapping bones. In the following months the dock was hidden by barricades preventing the curious from observing whatever strange work was being done.  Reports of the noise of construction mixed with strange wet sounds not accountable by the lapping of the tides.  Birthed from this strange and violent union was a deep and charismatic tavern, way post for all and sundry and home to every description of tale. Over the bar was mounted the Maiden’s masthead from which the edifice derives its name.”



-Excerpt from the diaries of Sorano Clee; artist, essayist, satirist and traveler.
“17th February. America.   Hear tell that the ship that was the free sailing Briny Maiden– before its transmogrification into the dockland tavern– has a history that is lost in shadow. I can’t, by the way, take credit for that delightful turn of phrase “…lost in shadow”, it was used by that decrepit old man who told me the story of the tavern while we enjoyed deep steins of excellent beer at the very location (on my tab of course). To continue with what is known of the story:  the vessel was built in the shipyards of Liverpool “in the midst of an earlier century”.  Well-made and sturdy it had a reputation of being dependable on long journeys and it plied the many seas on voyages of trade and exploration. Ownership seems uncertain (should look into it further).  It was taken on the trade routes to the southern climes and then its story becomes clouded. Apparently it drops from the knowledge of my fellow men (such as they are termed for some reason) and is presumed lost, until, much later, the masthead over the tavern’s bar was recognized by a traveler who reacted with fear and confusion. It seems this sensitive soul fled the building before he could communicate the cause of his distress. Now isn’t that interesting?”


The One Hundred Percent Club member known as Mademoiselle describes the discovery of some undefined “ship documents” from the Briny Maiden on a rocky island off the coast of Antarctica. She did not record the eventual fate of the documents but her journals relate that from that period forward she is on the alert for the weird unhuman call of “tekili-tekili-li”.


“Folk Tellings Monthly” the official periodical of the Urban Folklore Society (June 1950 issue) offers the following:

“Society’s desire for mystery does not limit itself tales to lost, bygone eras but extends itself to the construction of stories referring to modern day personalities, organizations and businesses. Take for instance the well-established dockside bar and hostelry known as The Briney Maid (sic) tavern. Despite the popularity of the establishment and reputed friendly demeanor of the bar staff, there are persistent legends about what goes on in the mysterious barred rooms that patrons are not permitted under any circumstances to see. There are also rumors regarding the establishment’s owner or possibly owners. It is claimed that the owner very rarely appears into public view and when he does he takes pains to hide his appearance. Even more unusual is that the reports of his appearance alter from sighting to sighting, for instance one time he will appear to be tall and stout and the next description he will seem to be short and hunched. Thus he has become known in local lore as the “shifting man” or the “changing man”. Attempts to elucidate this situation have been inconclusive.”