BREAKING NEWS! Marc Olden Books back in Print!

Courtesy of Diane C who runs the Marc Olden website comes the pretty great news, for all of us fans of Marc Olden, as well as fans of just great books, that all of Marc Olden’s long out of print Men’s Adventure novels are back in print courtesy of Mysterious Press.

Comprised of his HARKER, NARC, and BLACK SAMURAI series of books, these are in many ways the holy grail of pulp 70s men’s adventure thrillers and paved the way for such writers as James Patterson and Hugh Holton.

Now these long out of print books are finally available in affordable editions. I must admit to largely being a paper guy myself, but for those of you Ebook/Kindle converts than, this is the deal for you!

MARC OLDEN New E-Books!

Here’s the link to Mysterious Press also:

MYSTERIOUS PRESS

I have to say, I think the MYSTERIOUS PRESS E-book covers are a bit artless (particularly when compared to the beautiful paperback originals), but my cover critique aside, having the content available again is what counts.

So go support and tell them HT sent ya! πŸ™‚

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15 Favorite Pulp Heroes / Characters and the meaning of Pulp! Pt. 1 of 2!


Price The Avenger Chronicles Here!

We’ll begin this with a definition of pulp, pulp heroes, and pulp writing, then get into my list of favorite pulp characters and pulp runs.

The perceived definition of a pulp character tends to be a character that takes place in the 20s to 40s, in an America besieged by the spectre of War, and consists of slam-bam action, and a colorful larger than life hero and outlandish villains.

It’s with the cementing of pulp heroes to a specific milieu, a specific time, that I take issue with that definition. Characters such as THE SHADOW and DOC SAVAGE and the AVENGER were pulp sensations AT THE TIME OF THEIR PUBLICATION because they spoke to present fears and issues, in colorful imaginative ways.

But now the nostalgia bunch wants to calcify the definition of pulp adventure to a particular time frame or particular writers. I don’t think pulp heroes need to be set 80 or a 100 years in the past, that’s not what Marcel Allain, Norvell Page or Walter Gibson or Paul Ernst (writing as Kenneth Robeson) or any of the pulp writers we idolize today, were doing.

Now I’m not saying ignore the pulp heroes of yesterday, or not set new pulp stories in the 20s or 30s if you want. But what I am saying is… you’re largely missing the point of what the pulp writers were really doing. They were putting these heroes in a world that really needed them, the present world.

I am saying the pulp fiction of Warren Murphy’s REMO WILLIAMS or Marc Olden’s BLACK SAMURAI or Don Pendleton’s MAC BOLDEN are far truer representations of pulp fiction, pulp heroes, than today’s current writers who are making nostalgic re-workings of 1920s, 1930, and 1940s stories.

Again I have no problem with modern writers setting stories in that time frame, I quite enjoy and have championed many of them, but there seems to be this faulty conclusion in the minds of modern writers and readers that setting them in a specific past time frame, makes it pulp. No. Nothing could be further from the truth. Setting it in that time frame makes it a pastiche.

If Gibson or Page or Allain were writing today their heroes would be set in today, and their horror and villains… expressions of timely concerns. Allain’s FANTOMAS or Gibson’s SHADOW would be hanging the president of Exxon or Shell out of a window, saying “You want to explain those gas prices to me now?”

That’s why I love books like BLACK SAMURAI and THE DESTROYER because they are the pulp aesthetic continued, and have original things to say and original menaces to say it to, rather than simply the tendency to nostalgia, and aping dead writers.

When pulp heroes of yesterday fought nazis and gangsters, that wasn’t simply kitschy entertainment, that took some balls. Because gangsters were very much real things, and Nazis a very real threat, and nobody wanted to touch these topics. The way no one today wants to deal with topics of Guantanamo Bay, or Middle Eastern massacres, or corporate over-lobbying of representatives.

Pulp fiction of the 10s (the wonderful, and horrifying Fantamos),20s and 30s and 40s… was timely and controversial. Pulp fiction (and pulp heroes) was about giving the common man a hero who could stand up against the evils of the day, be those evils foreign or domestic. That is pulp fiction, not this nostalgic, safe, hermetically sealed, removed from any relevance of today, pastiches that people want to sanctify.

True pulp fiction, is a fantastic, white-knuckled, adrenalin inducing and entertaining tirade against the evils of its time. Sometimes in-dispute evil.

People forget there was a portion of America, the loud vocal right wing that were pro-hitler and pro the nazis, right up to and even after Pearl Harbor. So for these books to come out in the 1930s with Nazi Villains took balls. It was controversial. They got their share of grief from the Rush Limbaugh’s of the day.

So when people say “Well, true pulp fiction/pulp heroes needs to be set in the 20s to the 40s”, to that I say “only if you’re living in the 20s to the 40s”. True pulp heroes are an answer… an answer to the truths and the lies of your nightly news.

So while it’s wonderful we have this resurgence of so many writers doing pastiches in the pulp vein, it’s unfortunate so few modern writers are actually doing real pulp novels ala Warren Murphy or the late Marc Olden or even the late Ian Flaming.

So few current writers are doing books with great, even salacious covers, breakneck speed, thrilling action, and larger than life protagonists in conflict with outlandish villains, set in a present/timely context. That is the definition of true pulp fiction, and true pulp heroes… and what we are in dire need… of more of.

-to be continued-

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Part II will bring you the list of 15 favorite pulp heroes. Your jaw will drop!!! πŸ™‚

Copyright 2000-2012 Masai Inc

The Last Black Samurai: Remembering Marc Olden; an interview with Diane Crafford

22 Feb 2012 Wednesday

There’s some news on the horizon regarding Mark Olden’s seminal series BLACK SAMURAI, as well as other work. I don’t have the thumbs up yet… to break the news, but in the interim I thought it was a great time to re-present this fun and informative interview, to tide you over.

Plus it has been updated with new pics, courtesy of Ms. Crafford. Please Enjoy!

And is it me, or does the new film THE RAVEN bear more than a passing resemblance to Marc Olden’s POE MUST DIE? hmmmm. πŸ™‚ .

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The fact that what you are about to read and hear is a YEAR in the preparation, goes to the absurd vagaries of mi vida loca, my crazy life.

But here finally, before the clock turns over on yet another year is my interview with Diane Crafford, on one of my favorite writers, the late, great and incomparable Marc Olden.

We’ll start with the text portion of the interview, and following that the pretty free flowing audio interview. HUGE, HUGE thanks to Diane for her time, her good humor, her anecdotes, and her extreme patience.

Now without further delay….

1st to set the stage.

Who is Marc Olden?

Marc Olden is a writer I became aware of, oddly enough on an auction site. Being something of a bibliophile I’m always looking to pick up books, and no doubt I was looking for either Warren Murphy’s DESTROYER books, or books by the late great Donald Goines.

And instead I came across this auction of a near complete series of BLACK SAMURAI books by Marc Olden. Being a Blackophile as well as a Bibliophile πŸ™‚ , the title alone, as well as the very impressive 70s art on the paperbacks were enough for me to decide to purchase the books.

So I won the auction got the books, and was… from book one, blown away. This was not the hokey Jim Kelly movie, this was the undiluted source material, and it was pure and gritty, and brilliantly written. I’ve a huge fan of the Warren Murphy DESTROYER books, as well as the James Bonds and the MacK Bolans, but BLACK SAMURAI takes it to another level. BLACK SAMURAI is the BEST of that flooded market that was Men’s Action Adventure Books of the 70s. And the fact that it was so relatively short lived, also makes it a far more accessible body of work, and to my mind, far more prized.

And passion leading to passion, I just became obsessed with collecting all the work, primarily the 70s work, of this somehow inexplicably under the radar writer. Two of the holy grails being the Edgar Nominated POE MUST DIE, and the even more obscure BOOK OF SHADOWS (which I have to thank Diane for really making me aware of).

And reading his books led me to wanting to share with the world more of this, I felt and feel, brilliant, important, and overlooked writer.

So I reached out to the person who was keeping the late Mr. Olden’s web presence alive, the gracious Diane Crafford, and she was both kind and crazy enough to consent to the following free flowing and I believe informative and engaging interview/conversation.

The early part of our interview… the audio does not capture Diane’s, bubbly, fun, immersive personality, so I’m going to transcribe that from notes, and memory as best I can (I have a tendency toward the romantic, so anything that sounds like bs I take the blame for) bullet points mainly, and then we’ll kick into the audio.

HT: Hi Diane, thanks in advance for your time. We’re here to discuss Marc Olden one of my, and I assume your, favorite writers. Now most of this I got from your site as well as my research: He’s done over 40 books. His first work of fiction NARC a series of nine novels. He also produced the eight book BLACK SAMURAI series, made into a bad movie with Jim Kelly. And POE MUST DIE a stunning immersive novel drenched in period detail.

DC: You do your homework.

HT: I try. Now I’m detecting a bit of an accent, and your name Crafford, Londoner?

DC: Welsh, actually.

HT: Ahh, missed it by that much. Now tell me a little about Marc Olden behind the books

DC: Well he was born in Baltimore and was a press agent before he gave it up to become a writer. And once he chose that road, he embraced it completely. He had a strong work ethic, he wrote every day. His Black Samurai series was written at the same time he wrote the Narc series. It was while writing Narc he got to know guys in Law Enforcement. With advanced degree black belts in Japanese Karate and Aikido, he coached and mentored many members of the NYPD in Aikido.

HT: So his writing was an extension of the man.

DC: Yes. Like every good writer he wrote what he knew, of his passions. And after the NARC, BLACK SAMURAI books, he went into stand-alone novels such as INFORMANT. It did well but was not a best seller.

HT: Going back to BLACK SAMURAI series for a second, what did he think of the film?

DC: He had no input into the film. And resigned himself to it being something distinct from his work.

HT: Well let’s backup a bit, and tell us bit about you and how you met Marc.

DC: -I met him here at New York. He was a press agent for a restaurant, and I was working in film. We hit it off immediately. He had a way of carrying himself. –Later I was in London working for a film Producer, Sidney Dujer. The film was THE TWELVE CHAIRS starring Frank Lagella.

It’s amazing the little decisions that make all the difference. Marc went from Press Agent to writer, writing magazine articles. And then was approached to write a book on Angela Davis. And at that time I was looking for work, and became his transcriptionist. He had a head full of stories, he loved to tell them. And at the center of them was his belief in Justice.

HT: Now how did one of his earliest books, and what I consider not just one of his best books, but one of THE best books, POE MUST DIE come about? It seems a very ecletic work and ahead of its time work, mixing historical fiction and figures, mystery, horror, action, and adventure.

DC: He loved Edgar Allen Poe and he loved Charles Dickens. And POE MUST DIE at its heart is his love letter to those influences, but done as only he could do it. Dicken’s Christmas Carol, all about redemption, at the heart of this elaborately researched and gothic murder mystery,

HT: I can definitely see that. The book is so full of period detail, and authenticity, it puts you there in that place and in that time, of a wilder and younger England and America. What were some of his other inspirations?

DC: He thought Raymond Chandler was the best American writer. He was inspired by Eastern Philosophy through his mother and father (his father was George Olden, an art director). This filtered down to the type of man he was. Very calm, very contained, very brave and strong. I once asked him, “What is it that makes you so together?” and he said, “Good looks and the power of prayer.”And while he said it with a smile, that was sincere, it was how he lived his life. In balance.

“It was a different breed of man who sat in the cherrywood chair, his legs crossed under a cashmere robe, a thin volume on his lap. His graying hair, immaculately groomed, seemed to highlight a strong-lined, somber face… An aura of greatness and elegance seemed to permeate his being, as if his presence lent dignity to the book-lined walls. He seemed like what men should be, but never were.β€œ
….THE DESTROYER: CREATED, THE DESTROYER by Warren Murphy.

HT: You can see that balance in his work. It’s very measured and… sincere. Which is an odd thing to say about fiction, but he wrote fiction with Authenticity.

DC: Yes. All his work was an extension of his interests. Take BOOK OF SHADOWS, he got the idea for that on one of our annual trips to England. He loved history and was a real Anglophile. He became intrigued by the canals that snaked through England, and that was the impetus for BOOK OF SHADOWS about vacationing American’s who stumble across things best left undisturbed.

***********************************

Okay that brings our text portion to an end. Onto the audio. You’re going to hear a lot of paper shuffling, that’s me jotting down notes, and flipping back and forth in my book, to consult my notes. I don’t think it distracts too much, Diane does a great job. So please enjoy! And bottom line, if you haven’t read anything by Marc Olden, go to Diane’s site and get acquainted. I would also suggest purchasing through her site.

Diane’s great site on Marc Olden

For more on Marc Olden, and particularly BLACK SAMURAI also see the following sites:

Great overview of the 8 Book BLACK SAMURAI series
More great Marc Olden/Black Samurai coverage

The below audio is a little over 33 minutes,, and the audio has been noise reduced to minimize the sound (my frantic note taking) as much as possible. Not great audio, but definitely listenable, and DEFINITELY informative.

Okay! You can listen to it HERE!

Copyright 2000-2012 Masai Inc and other specified writers. Images copyright their respective owners.

Today’s recommended Books, Movies, OTR

What I’m reading:

I’m making my way through the last few issus of Don Lomax’s VIETNAM JOURNAL series. A really strong series, with expressive, detailed art by Lomax, that completely complements his passionate, and seemingly authentic tales of men at war.

I just finished rereading WATCHMEN in preparation for the movie. Avoid the horrible motion comic, the voice actor ruins it. Making trite sounding what should be momentous. Stick to the graphic novel, if you want to prep yourself for the movie. I’ve been a fan of Snyder’s previous two movies so looking forward to his take on WATCHMEN.

I’m reading the massive SCUD THE DISPOSABLE ASSASSIN THE WHOLE SHEBANG. True to the title it collects and completes the whole 14 years in the making series. I was there when the first issue hit the stands, was impressed then, am impressed now. It’s an impressive trade (something like 700 pages I believe) and IMAGE COMICS should be complimented on its quality. I’m on issue #4 so have a long way to go.

I’m really enjoying the heck out of Sam Stall’s DRACULA’S HEIR, an interactive book by the fun folks of Quirk Books. I like the detailed art in this one much better than Lapham’s art for WAYNE MANOR, but both books sport fine writing.

I’m on the third book of the eight book BLACK SAMURAI series by Marc Olden. Love this series, but have been stalled on this particular book a while. Keep letting it get bumped for other reads. Which is funny, because all my Lawrence Block and Warren Murphy books, got bumped so I could finish this series. I’ll buckle down and finish book 3 this weekend, as I want to get to book 4 in the series.

What am I watching:

Archive.org. Thanks to this fine resource have watched some fun cinema, that I otherwise may not have made time to see. Among the highlights are:

TALES OF TOMORROW- early 50s live sci-fi tv show. Creaky but fun

WAY OUT- Another early TV show. Late 50s probably, only two or so episodes are available, and the quality is what it is, but I was quite impressed by both of the episodes I saw.

DAUGHTER OF HORROR- Fun experimental flick, early 60s I’d guess, also called Dementia. Some people don’t care for the voice-over version, I quite liked it. It gives it a fun radio drama feel.

What am I listening to:

Speaking of Radio Dramas, that’s primarily what I’ve been listening to these days. Currently listening to episodes of BOX 13 starring Alan Ladd. Also a short lived series called CREEPS BY NIGHT starring Boris Karloff.

That’s it for this update.

Stumbling through the Dark in… Heroic Times!

If you’ve stumbled across this handy dandy blog, it means more than likely you’re a pop culture junkie like myself with more than a passing interest in books and cinema, and aren’t totally adverse to the idea of getting together with a bunch of like minded people and sharing these interests. Yapping a bit on fav music and comics and movies and writers and artists, etc.

Here I’ll try and keep you quickly and concisely informed about some stuff I’ve stumbled over and have loved, liked, or simply believe deserves a larger audience. Some of you are people I know, and I’m using this blog as a way of keeping you conveniently informed without sending out a trillion emails.

And while the gist of this will revolve around pop culture, it will take little segues depending on what’s going on in mi vida loca, my crazy life. Baltimore local here, so a little of this will revolve around this odd port city. Will revolve around landmarks and people; an odd place of power this city is, full of brilliance and banality, beauty and barbarism.

So without further ado:

First a little about me, 30 going on 98, pop culture guy, employed for a major metropolitain newspaper, and in my spare time defend truth,justice and the a… wait that’s that other guy.

But yeah me average dude. Employed here, freelance writer on the side with two pro gigs to my resume( pro as in I actually got paid for the stuff, not pro as they were big time) and a lot of self published and free stuff printed. Looking to do a lot more of that stuff, and actually buckle down and try and submit a piece someplace every week.

(So some of you getting this have volunteered to help me get a new freelance mag/ fanzine off the ground. So really big on that. Those of you serious, let’s get started asap. We meet at my place every Sunday, early, and just start slapping stuff on the page. And either sell it mailorder, or via ebay, or force atomic books to carry it. Think of it as Entertainment Weekly meets Heavy Metal meets Mother Jones. Need writers, artists, photographers, etc. No pay, no glory, outrageous deadlines and fun. Spread the word!)

HOMICIDE was Great, or How I learned to kill my TV

Not a huge TV guy here, most stuff on tv is just…. not good. Last decent TV I watched was like Homicide, lst year NYPD Blue (the year with Carruso, rest of the years were… crap), Babylon 5, Farscape, and generally TCM.

But now, in the last six months I turn on my TV maybe once a week. And the killer part is I paid a paycheck or eight for the darn TV, and basically it’s just a very huge paperweight.
(With the exception to that being… I recently caught a show on AMC I think, called HUSTLE. A brit show, it was very good)

HYENAS whup Sin City

All that said I love movies, DVDs. Dig everything from classics to crime to horror to foreign. Let me rephrase, I love good movies. Which means I HATED Sin City (saw it on the big screen like everybody else, what a waste of money). And I dug the Frank Miller books, but like everything Tarrantino and Rodriguez have done recently, the darn thing had no soul. For more on Sin City, a better analysis and why it’s more programming than movie, go here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0401792/usercomments-1000

If you want to see a good movie, and don’t mind subtitles check out the late, great Mambety’s wickedly biting satire HYENAS. Great flick out of Senegal.

WHO KNOWS WHAT EVIL LURKS

But really I’m not even watching movies, unless I have company over. When in the house by myself,or writing or reading, I’m listing to music or OTR.

OTR? Oh yeah, let me explain. Recently got turned onto Old time radio. What they call the theater of the mind. Radio programs ranging from the 1930s to the 2000s. Stuff like The Shadow and Suspense. Currently listening to a program from nearly 70 years ago called Mysterious Traveler, man that’s some good stuff.

Endlessly listenable.

HATH CHARMS to soothe

As far as the music stuff. Very eclectic here, but some names that rise to the top: Terry Callier (if you have not listened to his African Violet you are missing one of the great songs of all time), Rage against the Machine, Public Enemy, Seal, Bob Dylan, Coltrane, Lenny Kravitz, Solomon Burke, Traci Chapman, Green Day, Everlast, Bob Marley, Awadagin Pratt (great classical pianist),Johnny Cash ( based on one song, his Man in Black),and lots and lots of regional guys the best being Jahiti and Talaam Acey.

Nothing like a screaming crowd

Dig live events. Concerts, plays, openmics, sporting events. I really don’t get into watching sports on tv, with the exception of boxing or mixed martial arts. Some great venues for live music are: 8 by 10 club, Notre Maison, Xando, and An Die Muzik.

Comics Smomics

Comicbook fan from the good old days, before it was cool to like comics. Nowadays every movie is comic based, every hack movie or tv writer or director… wants to write a comic. It’s sickening. That said I still dig the occasional comic book. I’d recommend picking up anything by Kyle Baker, his Nat Turner is getting great buzz),and John Ridley (a true Renaissanse man, director, screenwriter, novelist, writes brilliant pulp fiction in the hard angles of Himes and Thompson) is now doing a comic. But seriously it is good to see comics being seen as a valid form of entertainment for adults. Something other countries have long known.

Pulp Fiction or Literature that Rocks

Currently reading so many books. Ones I’ve finished and highly recommend? Marc Olden’s brilliant, absolutely brilliant, BLACK SAMURAI series from the 70s. Far better than the lackluster, related to the book in name only, Jim Kelly film from the 70s.

Have finished 2 of the eight books in the series, Book 5 The Warlock, and Book 1 Black Samurai. This is a series highly deserving of seeking out. If you’re a fan of other Action books such as THE DESTROYER, MACK BOLAN, etc. you will love Black Samurai. Currently on Book # 3 The Golden Kill. Great stuff.

Marc Olden has done some well known, mainstream novels, and police procedurals since, but nothing comes close to the the kick, fun, pathos, and shear brilliance of his work in this 70s series.

Have just started David Anthony Durham’s PRIDE OF CARTHAGE. The story of Hannibal of Carthage, Hannibal the Great… who took the war to Rome. Just knocked out the first 30 pages, and the language, the descriptions… just lovely, lovely stuff. It puts you there, in an odd removed age, of masterless men.

So that’s a little about me, and the type of things you can be turned onto in these pages. Upcoming entries will bring you info on best podcasts, favorite spoken word artists, my trip to harlem, my first Hot Air Balloon Ride, Spain in summer… during the dying of the light, tales of my ongoing unfinished projects, and interviews with writers and creators I admire.

Have guests coming over so we’ll cut this entry off here.

Want to dedicate this podcast to the great Gordon Parks who recently passed away. The absolute definition of a Renaissance man, writer, director, photographer, painter, poet, cowboy.

May you rest in everlasting peace, but may your energy continue, may it go forth and fill and uplift and inspire a new generation.

If you don’t know the name Gordon Parks, please take the time to learn it (I’ll cover him in more detail in upcoming entries). He has left great, immense shoes to fill, and the world is the poorer for his passing.

Thanks for checking out my site, and talk to you soon.