Bernie Mireault: The Forgotten Herald of the Modern

Monday, March 2nd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Bernie MireaultOver the weekend, Mark Shainblum pointed me towards columnist Timothy Callahan’s article in Comic Book Resources discussing the work of artist Bernie Mireault. It’s been around for a while, but I’d managed to miss it, so I appreciated the link. Here’s a snippet:

If we look around the axis of American superhero comics, at the groundbreaking Modern work produced in the mid-1980s, it’s the same four or five names that keep popping up in our conversations: Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Rick Veitch, Howard Chaykin, maybe Matt Wagner. These were the creators who changed the landscape of American superhero comics, for better or worse. They heralded the Modern.

Yet there’s one creator who doesn’t get mentioned nearly as often. A writer/artist who was combining the high Romanticism of the fantastic with the mundane life on the street as well as any of the others. A comic book creator whose visual style has rarely been duplicated… I’m talking, of course, about Bernie Mireault.

Mireault (rhymes with “Zero”) has been working continuously in the comic book industry for the past 24 years, but he gets almost none of the acclaim given to his peers… in the mid-to-late 1980s and early 1990s, Mireault produced or helped produce three essential texts of the Modern era, and it’s time those three books were given their due.

I first met Bernie in 1985, when he crashed at my home in Ottawa, Canada, while attending a local comic convention. I was impressed with him immediately — especially his groundbreaking work on the hilarious Mackenzie Queen for Matrix Comics. He’s extrememly gifted as a comedic artist, and his character design is second to none — as you can see from his marvelous panel illustrating “The Loiterer in the Lobby” by Michael Kaufmann and Mark McLaughlin for Black Gate 4 (above). I hired Bernie as an illustrator when I launched Black Gate, and he graced virtually every issue of the print magazine. I profiled him back in 2009, and Matthew David Surridge wrote a detailed review of his excellent comic The Jam last December. His other work includes Grendel (with Matt Wagner), The Blair Witch Chronicles, and Dr. Robot.

Read the complete CBR article here.

Black Static #44 Now on Sale

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Black Static 44-smallI stumbled on my first copy of Black Static, issue #40, at a Barnes and Noble here in Chicago last year, and I was very impressed. The magazine is beautifully designed and illustrated, with top-notch writing and some great columns. It’s exactly the kind of thing I like to take with me on long plane rides.

I’ve been tracking down subsequent issues and writing about them here, because I think you deserve to know about them. Also, because really excellent fantasy magazines are a vanishing breed, and they deserve your support. Issue #44 is cover-dated January/February, which means it’s still on sale here in the US. The fiction contents are:

“Going Back to the World” by Simon Avery
“The Absent Shade” by Priya Sharma
“The Fishers of Men” by Jackson Kuhl
“Sweet Water” by E. Catherine Tobler
“Samhain” by Tyler Keevil

Yes, that’s our own Jackson Kuhl in the TOC. Jackson’s last article for us was his review of Jeffrey E. Barlough’s The Cobbler of Ridingham, which appeared here last week. On his blog, Jackson talks a little about selling his story, “The Fishers of Men,” to a British market like Black Static:

I was a little shocked when [Black Static editor] Andy Cox accepted “Fishers;” it is a very American story and when I sent it I wasn’t sure the historical background would translate. But I suppose I don’t have to know the intricacies of lines of royal succession or the industrialization of Greater Manchester to enjoy M.R. James, Robert Aickman, or Susanna Clarke (to name the three most recent authors I’ve read), so perhaps the width of the Atlantic isn’t as great as I sometimes imagine.

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Future Treasures: The Testament of Tall Eagle by John R. Fultz

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Testament of Tall Eagle-smallJohn R. Fultz’s first story for Black Gate was “Oblivion is the Sweetest Wine” (BG 12), a full-throttle sword-and-sorcery adventure of spider-haunted towers and a fearless thief who comes face-to-face with a terrifying secret. We published three more tales in his popular Zang Cycle: “Return of the Quill” (BG 13), “The Vintages of Dream” (BG 15), and “When the Glimmer Faire Came to the City of the Lonely Eye.”

John is much more well known these days for his breakout Books of the Shaper trilogy. Explorations called the first volume “flawless – and timeless – epic fantasy. For fans of epic fantasy, Seven Princes is as good as it gets.” For his fourth novel, John moves in a totally new direction, with a tribal fantasy set in a beautiful and savage land.

A young warrior’s vision-quest unveils an alien city full of magic and mystery. As a tribal rift threatens to destroy Tall Eagle’s people, night-crawling devils stalk and devour them, so he seeks the wisdom of the high-flying Myktu. These fantastic beings offer him hope, a chance for rebirth and prosperity, as two separate realities converge. Yet first Tall Eagle must find White Fawn – the girl he was born to love – and steal her back from the camp of his savage enemies. His best friend has become his deadliest rival, and now he must outwit an invading army of conquerors to lead his people into the Land Beyond the Sun.

The Testament of Tall Eagle is the epic saga of The People, as told in the words of their greatest hero.

John’s short fiction has appeared in Shattered Shields, Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Volume One, The Way of the Wizard, and other fine places. His recent articles for Black Gate include a look at Darrell Schweitzer’s upcoming Cthulhu Mythos anthology That Is Not Dead, an interview with GnomeSaga author Kenny Soward, and a peek behind the scenes at his first collection, The Revelations of Zang.

The Testament of Tall Eagle will be released by Ragnarok Publications this June. The cover is by Alex Raspad.

New Treasures: Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder

Saturday, February 21st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Shadow Study Jacket-small

Maria V. Snyder’s first short story, “The Wizard’s Daily Horoscope,” appeared in Black Gate 11 in 2007. We published ”Cursing the Weather” in Black Gate 15, and it quickly became one of the most acclaimed stories in what was to be the final issue of the magazine. Here’s what Keith West said about it on his blog Adventures Fantastic:

Nysa… is probably as far from the sterotypical warrior woman as you can get. She’s a young girl working in a tavern, trying to earn enough money to buy the medicine needed to keep her dying mother alive. Then a weather wizard moves in across the street…  I wouldn’t have considered this one to really fit the theme of warrior woman. In spite of that, I think I enjoyed it the most. I’m going to be checking out more of Ms. Snyder’s work.

Keith wasn’t the only one to seek out Maria’s work. Her first novel, Poison Study, won the Compton Crook Award in 2006, and the third in the series, Fire Study, hit The New York Times bestseller list in 2008.

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Book Tour Tips for (Self-Published) Authors

Monday, February 16th, 2015 | Posted by Patty Templeton

book tourMy adventure begins sixteen tons of sundowns ago… maybe say, November-ish, when the Clarendon Hills Public Library in Illinois asked me to be a featured reader at their No-Shush Salon. They wanted an author for early 2015. My first response (which I thankfully didn’t send) was no. Grateful that they thought of me, but no way. Who can afford to travel 5 hours one-way for one reading?

And then, THEN! In a cosmic crapshoot of hell yeah, another Chicago reading series, Tuesday Funk, contacted me. They wanted me for a reading several days after No-Shush.

When the universe shimmies at you, you wink back. I said yes to both.

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New Treasures: The Dhulyn and Parno Novels: Volume One by Violette Malan

Saturday, February 14th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Dhulyn and Parno NovelsWhen Amazon created a mobile Kindle app a few years ago, the very first book I bought and downloaded to my mobile phone was The Sleeping God, the first Dhulyn and Parno novel by Violette Malan, our Friday blogger here at Black Gate. It proved a marvelous diversion during slow moments while I was working the floor of the NACHA banking conference in 2013.

I’ve wanted to read the other books in the series ever since, and now DAW is making that easy with a pair of omnibus volumes collecting all four novels. The first, The Dhulyn and Parno Novels: Volume One, containing The Sleeping God and The Soldier King, was released last week.

Dhulyn Wolfshead and Parno Lionsmane are members of the Mercenary Guild, veterans of numerous battles and missions, and masters of martial arts. But more than that, Dhulyn and Parno are Partners, a Mercenary bond that can only be broken by death. And though one’s past is supposed to be irrelevant to a Mercenary Brother, who they’d been might make the difference between success and failure in their missions.

As far as she knows, Dhulyn is the last of her tribe, the sole survivor of a terrible massacre when she was a young child. Sold into slavery and rescued by a pirate, Dhulyn has learned the hardest lessons life has to teach. What she has not learned is to master her Visions, glimpses of the future.

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Who Should Be Writing the Cthulhu Mythos Today? Announcing the Winners of Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth

Monday, February 9th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth-small2Three weeks ago we invited Black Gate readers to win a copy of the new Lovecraft-inspired anthology Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth, by suggesting who should be writing Lovecraftian horror today.

To make it challenging, all entries had to be a single sentence.

We received a near-record number of entries for this contest, too many to print here. But I’ve selected 20 of the more interesting, and reproduced them below.

Two winners were randomly drawn from a list of all qualified entries, and those two lucky readers will both receive a copy of Stephen Jones’s new horror anthology Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth, on sale now in trade paperback and digital formats from Titan Books.

First up is Jeffery Helms:

The writer I would most like to see write a Lovecraftian horror story today is Scott Snyder, whose comic work has elements of history, folklore, myths, and horror.

That’s certainly a fascinating choice. Scott Snyder’s work on American Vampire and Batman has garnered a lot of attention, and I’d like to see what he could do in Lovecraft’s back yard, too.

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The World of New Publishing Models: Serialized Self-Published Novellas by Traditionally Published Authors: Nigh, by Marie Bilodeau

Saturday, January 31st, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Nigh Marie Bilodeau-smallI wanted to talk to Marie Bilodeau, a multi-Aurora-nominated Ottawa-area author about her new novel, Nigh. It is an apocalypse story, a magical one, which is an original twist, but it’s also taking an old-school/new-school leaf in that Marie decided to serialize the novel as several novellas and self-publish them. So I sat virtually with Marie and the disjointed conversation that follows is the best one out of twenty-six takes…

So what’s fun about Nigh?


Stop! That’s not even a real word! God, let’s start again. Take twenty-five….

No! Keep typing! It is a word! That’s what fun. I’ve taken all the old scary faerie stories and thought about what would happen if the veil between our world and theirs suddenly collapsed. It’s not pretty. It’s definitely dark fantasy that could also be considered horror.

Plus, since I’m a professional storyteller, I’m also going to be performing a set of traditional faerie stories, woven in with some bits of Nigh, as bonus-can’t-read-this-on-the-page material. No, but seriously: FAERIEPOCALYPSE!

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Star Trek Continues With a Kirkstarter

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

Itrek continues crew‘ve raved about Star Trek Continues to anyone I could find. It is, simply, a wonderful take on Star Trek and may be the closest we’ll ever get to seeing new original episodes of the quality of the best of the original series.

Here’s what I said about the second episode, “Lolani,” on this very web site, although it holds true for all three of the episodes made thus far: ”… it feels like a lost episode. It’s not just the sets and the effects, which are truly astonishing in their faithfulness, it’s the pacing, and the music cues, and the fadeouts, and the story beats, and the writing — and the actors. These people understand who the original characters were and inhabit them — and I swear that this script could stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the finest entries in the original run.”

trek scottyThe staff and crew involved want to launch new episodes and they need help. They’re not getting paid for their work, you see. It’s a labor of love done in their free time. Hours and hours and hours of their free time.

I hope you’ll join me in swinging by to donate money to their new Kickstarter, which you can find here. One of their stretch goals is to raise funding for an engineering set, and another is to raise funding for a planet set!

Most importantly, of course, is the funding of two new episodes (and possibly more, depending upon hitting stretch goals). If you’ve seen the first three, you’ll understand how fabulous that is.

If you’re skeptical about the sound of any of this, I invite you to visit the site and try out these three fine episodes for yourself. If you’re a fan of the original show, you’re likely to be astonished.

Live long, and prosper.

Future Treasures: Gemini Cell by Myke Cole

Monday, January 19th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Gemini Cell-smallMyle Cole carved out a unique niche with his popular Shadow Ops novels, ultra-realistic military SF crossed with superheroes. Along the way he picked up a reputation for telling intricate, fast-action stories with rich characters.

So I was very intrigued to receive a copy of his newest novel today. The first in a Shadow Ops prequel series, Gemini Cell is set in the early days of the Great Reawakening, when magic first returns to the world and order begins to unravel. Featuring a Navy SEAL forcibly returned to duty from beyond the grave, Gemini Cell looks like another epic adventure as only Myke Cole can tell.

US Navy SEAL Jim Schweitzer is a consummate professional, a fierce warrior, and a hard man to kill. But when he sees something he was never meant to see on a covert mission gone bad, he finds himself — and his family — in the crosshairs. Nothing means more to Jim than protecting his loved ones, but when the enemy brings the battle to his front door, he is overwhelmed and taken down.

That should be the end of the story. But Jim is raised from the dead by a sorcerer and recruited by a top secret unit dabbling in the occult, known only as the Gemini Cell. With powers he doesn’t understand, Jim is called back to duty — as the ultimate warrior. As he wrestles with a literal inner demon, Jim realizes his new superiors are determined to use him for their own ends and keep him in the dark — especially about the fates of his wife and son…

Myke Cole’s short story “Naktong Flow” appeared in Black Gate 13. His first novel was Shadow Ops: Control Point; our roving reporter Patty Templeton interviewed him shortly after it was published. He looked at the hard facts of selling a fantasy series in his Black Gate essay “Selling Shadow Point.” We last covered Myke’s work with Shadow Ops: Breach Zone.

Gemini Cell will be published on January 27 by Ace Books. It is 366 pages, priced at $7.99 in paperback and $6.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Larry Rostant.

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