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Rising Star Indie Publisher Mirror Comics on their Weird Western Mission Arizona

Saturday, March 8th, 2014 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

a MISSION_GN_00_cover_02bMission Arizona, the graphic novel from indie publisher Mirror Comics, recently came out on ComiXology. I already had a paper copy and loved this take on the weird western (like the dark weird westerns Buried Eyes by Lavie Tidhar or A Feast for Dust by Gemma Files), but I knew less about making comics or the changes in the comic book industry with e-comics sites like ComiXology, so I decided to chat with Mirror. Dominic Bercier is the president and publisher (and artist of Mission Arizona), while Kristopher Waddell is the editor-in-chief and co-publisher (and the writer of Mission Arizona). Both live in Ottawa, Canada.

Mission Arizona is a dark weird western about an old west town that has an unpleasant crossing with the supernatural world. Its outlaw hero is destined, by fate and birth, to face this supernatural evil.

Derek: Where does Mission Arizona come from? It’s got a bit of a spaghetti western feel, overlaid with the destiny of facing off against a terrible evil, but begins with a travelling showman sequence. How did these different flavors make it into the mix?

Kris: My interest in writing in this genre came from my childhood experiences watching old Roy Rogers and Gene Autry westerns with my Dad. Horror has always interested me because I’m fascinated by the abject, and our culture’s obsession with fearing the other. It probably doesn’t help that I watched Nightmare on Elm Street, Jaws and Alien at a very young age.

In Mission, I really wanted to explore loss and redemption. Padre Martin Risk loses his wife and child, Samuel Risk loses his home and his family, while the town of Mission loses its soul. I wanted to write about the struggle and the consequences of dealing with loss, and the protagonist’s fight for redemption.

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Basic Dungeons and Dragons is Still Kicking: An Interview with Module Writer Geoff Gander

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

To_End_the_Rising_Web_CoverGeoff Gander is a dark fantasy writer and D&D module-creator living in Ottawa, Canada. Geoff and I met over early morning coffee to talk gaming.

Derek: So, you write Basic D&D modules. You’ve had 2 modules printed by Expeditious Retreat Press. Even when I was a small town teenager, I could still get my hands on a variety of role playing games, especially AD&D, making Basic seem like yesterday’s news. Now, twenty-five years later, people are paying you money to write modules for Basic. Where’s that market coming from?

Geoff: We’re seeing the rise of old school gaming in classic pen-and-paper RPGs as well as computers. Many old schoolers who played D&D and similar games in the 80s are now introducing the games to their children, or they may have followed the general flow of gaming culture towards the latest products on the market, and have grown nostalgic for what got them into the hobby in the first place.

There are also people like me, who grew dissatisfied with the quality of mainstream gaming products and stayed with the systems they enjoyed, long after they went out of print.

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Magic, and Miracles: An Interview with Bruce McAllister

Saturday, January 25th, 2014 | Posted by Garrett Calcaterra

Bruce McAllister-smallBruce McAllister lives in idyllic old town Orange, California. Outside his 1914 craftsman-style home, wild parrots squawk as they fly overhead from sweet gum tree to palm tree to an aged church bell tower in the distance. Inside, the home is neat and sparsely furnished. The only semblance of clutter is in McAllister’s writing office, where the desk is smattered with a few sheets of loose-leaf paper, and where along the sidewall, piled on top of a fold-out table and in plastic bins beneath it, he keeps his cobble collection. These fossil-riddled rocks are from the Santiago Creek riverbed where he routinely walks with his dog Madge. Like the seashell collection he had as a boy — and which plays a prominent role in his newest novel, The Village Sang to the Sea: a Memoir of Magic — these cobbles are a reminder of the wonder in the world around us, “rationale mysticism,” as he calls it.

Similar to Brad Latimer, the protagonist in The Village Sang to the Sea, McAllister grew up in a military family and lived in Italy for a time. Like Brad, his hunchback teacher caught him writing a story one day and, rather than punish him, the teacher encouraged him.

When he was sixteen, McAllister became nettled with another teacher, this one back in the United States, who was overemphasizing the importance of symbolism in literature. In an act of annoyed defiance, McAllister wrote a now famous letter, which he sent to 150 authors, including the likes of Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and Fritz Leiber, wherein he asked their thoughts on symbolism in their work and whether it was ever purposeful. To his surprise, the vast majority of the authors wrote back. “It was a miracle they responded,” he says.

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Art of the Genre: Interview with Jack Crane

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 | Posted by Scott Taylor

dragontreeentsYou know, sometimes your boss just refuses to let you enjoy your life… It’s no different here at Black Gate L.A. even though our intrepid editor-in-chief John O’Neill is thousands of miles away in Illinois.

I mean, take this month as a perfect example. On any given day the sun is shining, my office partner Ryan Harvey is talking non-stop about the upcoming release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Kandi, our secretary, is whispering/weeping to her agent about her lack of a callback, but all in all life is pretty good.

Then wouldn’t you know it, I get a text from the aforementioned Mr. O’Neill to gather up my winter gear and before you can utter the words ‘polar vortex’ I’m on a flight to Pennsylvania for an interview.

Now granted, it is an interview of a lifetime, breaking bread and talking shop with legendary Dragon Magazine cover artist Jack Crane, but nonetheless couldn’t Dr. Evil himself have picked early autumn to get this copy?!

Anyway, off I went to brave the cold, first to Philadelphia and then on up the Westchester Pike to the fine and frosty town of elven thousand souls, Broomall, PA. If you’ve never been to Broomall, I wouldn’t suggest going when it is -8 degrees, but still it is a fine little piece of Americana.

With my sightseeing limited, I headed to Phil A Mignon, a nice down home pizza and burger joint to meet with Jack before going to his studio. My order, well a ‘filet cheese steak’ of course, and some highly recommended raspberry peppercorn wings. It was darn fine food, and the filet was incredible compared to the standard greasy Philly steaks.

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Inkjetlings Round eTable: Jackson’s Desolation of The Hobbit?

Monday, January 6th, 2014 | Posted by Nick Ozment

smaugThis week Frederic S. Durbin, Gabe Dybing, and I discuss our impressions of Peter Jackson’s latest film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The conversation is a casual and meandering one among friends, although I have tried to group observations under distinct topics. In keeping with the informal nature of the exchange, I have used our first names.

First Impressions (and a link to a completely different review)

FRED: It’s a lot of fun. I was surprised in this one by the extreme departures from the book . . . so this one felt to me like I was watching really well-done fan fiction. But if you can accept that, the movie really is entertaining. It’s fun seeing the characters and settings. I’ll hold off saying any more until I’m sure you guys have seen it.

GABE:  It was a lot of fun, but it certainly will be interesting to talk about. How about you, Nick? Are we waiting for you to see it?

NICK: I finally did get to The Desolation of Smaug — Mel and I arranged a date night and saw it together. She is a HUGE fan of the LOTR movies, but with this film, she feels that something is just off. I found it an enjoyable spectacle, with the caveat that in tone it is very little like Tolkien.

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Tales of the Wold Newton Universe, Part 4 of 4

Sunday, December 1st, 2013 | Posted by christopher paul carey

Tales of the Wold Newton Universe-smallOctober marked the release of Tales of the Wold Newton Universe, a new anthology from Titan Books that collects, for the first time ever in one volume, Philip José Farmer’s Wold Newton short fiction, as well as tales set in the mythos by other Farmerian authors.

The Wold Newton Family is a group of heroic and villainous literary figures that science fiction author Philip José Farmer postulated belonged to the same genetic family. Some of these characters are adventurers, some are detectives, some explorers and scientists, some espionage agents, and some are evil geniuses. According to Mr. Farmer, the Wold Newton Family originated when a radioactive meteor landed in Wold Newton, England, in the year 1795. The radiation caused a genetic mutation in those present, which endowed many of their descendants with extremely high intelligence and strength, as well as an exceptional capacity and drive to perform good, or, as the case may be, evil deeds. The Wold Newton Universe is the larger world in which the Wold Newton Family exists and interacts with other characters from popular literature.

To celebrate the release of the new anthology, we’ve asked the contributors to discuss their interest in Philip José Farmer’s work and to tell us something about how their stories in the book specifically fit into the Wold Newton mythos.

For today’s installment, please welcome author and co-editor of Tales of the Wold Newton Universe, Win Scott Eckert.

Christopher Paul Carey
Co-editor, Tales of the Wold Newton Universe

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Tales of the Wold Newton Universe, Part 3 of 4

Sunday, November 17th, 2013 | Posted by christopher paul carey

Tales of the Wold Newton Universe-smallLast month marked the release of Tales of the Wold Newton Universe, a new anthology from Titan Books that collects, for the first time ever in one volume, Philip José Farmer’s Wold Newton short fiction, as well as tales set in the mythos by other Farmerian authors.

The Wold Newton Family is a group of heroic and villainous literary figures that science fiction author Philip José Farmer postulated belonged to the same genetic family. Some of these characters are adventurers, some are detectives, some explorers and scientists, some espionage agents, and some are evil geniuses. According to Mr. Farmer, the Wold Newton Family originated when a radioactive meteor landed in Wold Newton, England, in the year 1795. The radiation caused a genetic mutation in those present, which endowed many of their descendants with extremely high intelligence and strength, as well as an exceptional capacity and drive to perform good, or, as the case may be, evil deeds. The Wold Newton Universe is the larger world in which the Wold Newton Family exists and interacts with other characters from popular literature.

To celebrate the release of the new anthology, we’ve asked the contributors to discuss their interest in Philip José Farmer’s work and to tell us something about how their stories in the book specifically fit into the Wold Newton mythos.

For today’s installment, please welcome author and co-editor of Tales of the Wold Newton Universe, Christopher Paul Carey.

Win Scott Eckert,
Co-editor, Tales of the Wold Newton Universe

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Unlikely Story: BG Interviews the Editors

Monday, November 11th, 2013 | Posted by markrigney

Closed dooers slider2It’s been nearly three years since The Journal of Unlikely Entomology made its first appearance, and while this multi-legged publication focused initially on that fertile but narrow intersection of spec fic and bugs, the magazine has since branched out, changed its name, and adopted a rolling series of varied themes (the latest being the upcoming Journal of Unlikely Cryptography, now accepting submissions).

Unlikely Story pays pro rates for fiction, a rarity these days, and manages to make the stories they present look sharper than switchblades by moonlight.  Here’s my interview with editors A.C. Wise and Bernie Mojzes.


Unlikely Story has not only shortened its name, you’ve upped the pay rate. Nobody does both those things in one short span.  Have you gone quietly mad?

A.C.: That implies we weren’t mad to begin with… I mean, we started off publishing a magazine exclusively about bugs, how sane can we be?

Bernie: Indeed.

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Tales of the Wold Newton Universe, Part 2 of 4

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013 | Posted by christopher paul carey

Tales of the Wold Newton Universe-smallThis month marks the release of Tales of the Wold Newton Universe, a new anthology from Titan Books that collects, for the first time ever in one volume, Philip José Farmer’s Wold Newton short fiction, as well as tales set in the mythos by other Farmerian authors.

The Wold Newton Family is a group of heroic and villainous literary figures that science fiction author Philip José Farmer postulated belonged to the same genetic family. Some of these characters are adventurers, some are detectives, some explorers and scientists, some espionage agents, and some are evil geniuses. According to Mr. Farmer, the Wold Newton Family originated when a radioactive meteor landed in Wold Newton, England, in the year 1795. The radiation caused a genetic mutation in those present, which endowed many of their descendants with extremely high intelligence and strength, as well as an exceptional capacity and drive to perform good, or, as the case may be, evil deeds. The Wold Newton Universe is the larger world in which the Wold Newton Family exists and interacts with other characters from popular literature.

To celebrate the release of the new anthology, we’ve asked the contributors to discuss their interest in Philip José Farmer’s work and to tell us something about how their stories in the book specifically fit into the Wold Newton mythos.

For today’s installment, please join us in welcoming authors Octavio Aragão and Carlos Orsi.

Win Scott Eckert and Christopher Paul Carey,
Editors, Tales of the Wold Newton Universe

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Oz and Frederic S. Durbin Discuss Hallowe’en Monsters

Monday, October 21st, 2013 | Posted by Nick Ozment

Dragonfly_durbinIn response to my “Five Weeks of Frights” Hallowe’en post “Oz Meets the Scarecrow,” novelist and short-story writer extraordinaire Frederic S. Durbin sent me a thoughtful email, furthering an ongoing discussion of iconic Hallowe’en monsters. With his kind permission, I am reprinting it here.

Consider it a guest post from the writer of the wonderful Arkham House novel Dragonfly (a quintessential Hallowe’en read) and — one of my favorite Hallowe’en short stories — “The Bone Man,” which ran in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 2007. Of course, he will also be familiar to regular Black Gate readers; his story “World’s End” was, according to John ONeill, “one of the most acclaimed stories in Black Gate 15.” Here’s Fred:

Fantastic post on the Scarecrow! That’s insightful — I’d been wondering what the next center-stage monster would be, and I would trust your impressions as one poised to see into various oncoming and now-arriving streams of the pop culture.

It’s interesting to ponder what about the classic monsters is at the center of the terror they hold for us.

1. The vampire is essentially Death. He comes from the graves. He feasts on the living. He gathers us unto himself.

2. The werewolf is the beast within us, the monster at the core of man. He is our fear of ourselves.

3. Frankenstein’s monster is our fear of our gifts, our behavior — what we might do when nothing is beyond our reach. We might steal fire from the sun. We might reanimate the dead. And the fire and the dead will bite us in the butts.

4. The zombie is our fear of illness. Alzheimer’s . . . global pandemic viruses . . . irreversible illness; it looks like our loved one, but it no longer is, and there’s no cure.

So what is the scarecrow? I think you’ve answered that question eloquently. Essentially, he’s the daddy of them all, the Last Boss, the overlord — because he is our fear of the unknown. I italicized that as an homage to Lovecraft, who told us what our greatest and strongest and oldest fear is.

Durbin went on to add a more personal note…

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