Gothic Noir in the Tradition of Weird Tales: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, Book One: Mad Shadows by Joe Bonadonna

Sunday, January 5th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

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Joe Bonadonna’s first swords and sorcery collection Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, which won the 2017 Golden Book Readers’ Choice Award for Fantasy, is one of the most successful modern S&S offerings — especially among our readers. It contains many fine stories, including the novelette “The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum,” perhaps the most popular piece of online fiction ever published at Black Gate.

Mad Shadows was originally published in January 2011, and last month Pulp Hero Press released a second revised edition with a new cover, new maps, revised text, and an expanded Afterword on Heroic Fantasy and Sword & Sorcery. In his 2012 review Fletcher Vredenburgh wrote “Mad Shadows is good stuff. It’s got no pretensions to be anything other than a worthy addition to the canons of S&S and there it’s wildly successful.” And in his BG article “The Coming of Dorgo the Dowser,” William Patrick Maynard wrote:

Joe Bonadonna describes his fiction as ‘Gothic Noir’ and it is entirely appropriate. As much as Mad Shadows succeeds in carrying on the tradition of Weird Tales, the brooding, darkly-humored Dorgo could have easily found a home in the pages of Black Mask if only his (dowsing) rod shot lead rather than divined spirits. The six stories in Mad Shadows offer a mixture of traditional sword & sorcery necromancers and demons as well as werewolves, vampires, witches, and bizarre half-human mutations that H. P. Lovecraft would happily embrace.

Joe followed up his original collection with Mad Shadows II: Dorgo the Dowser and The Order of the Serpent in 2017 (which Fletcher reviewed for us here). Read an excerpt right here at Black Gate.

The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, Book One: Mad Shadows was published by Pulp Hero Press on December 8, 2019. It is 282 pages, priced at $14.95 in paperback, and is available worldwide in paperback and Kindle editions. Check it out, and read all our previous coverage of Dorgo’s adventures here.


A (Black) Gat in the Hand: Joe Bonadonna’s ‘Hardboiled Film Noir’ (Part Two)

Monday, October 29th, 2018 | Posted by Bob Byrne

I reached out to some friends to help me with A (Black) Gat in the Hand, as I certainly can’t cover everything and do it all justice. Our latest guest is author and fellow Black Gater, Joe Bonadonna. Last week, Joe delivered an in-depth look at hardboiled adaptations on the silver screen. So, here’s part two!


Hardboiled Film Noir: From Printed Page to Moving Pictures (Part Two)

“You’re the second guy I’ve met within hours who seems to think a gat in the hand means a world by the tail.” — Phillip Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep

Bonadonna_CainDoubleEDITEDAnd now, on to Raymond Chandler, one of the two writers who inspired my Heroic Fantasy, the other being Fritz Lieber, another pulp magazine maestro. Considered by many to be a founder of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction, along with Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and other Black Mask writers, Chandler had been an oil company executive who turned to writing after he lost his job during the Great Depression.

To me, his prose is pure poetry, his use of simile and metaphor, his imagery and turn of phrase are top notch. His novel, The Big Sleep, was turned into a motion picture in 1946, starring Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe. His Lady in the Lake (1947) became an interesting vehicle for Robert Montgomery (the father of Bewitched’s Elizabeth Montgomery.) Farewell, My Lovely was first filmed as Murder, My Sweet (1944), starring Dick Powell. Chandler’s novel, The High Window, was filmed twice: first as Time to Kill (1942) and again in 1947 as The Brasher Doubloon. Chandler also had a lucrative career as a Hollywood screenwriter.

In 1944 he scripted (along with director Billy Wilder) James M. Cain’s masterpiece, Double Indemnity, wrote an original screenplay called The Blue Dahlia (1946), and co-wrote (along with Whitfield Cook and Czenzi Ormonde) the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train (1951), which was based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith, the author of The Talented Mister Ripley and Ripley’s Game.

 For me, the 1940s also gave us the last of what I consider to be the truly great gangster films of Hollywood’s Golden Age. High Sierra, released in 1941 and based on the novel by W.R. Burnett, was a departure from the usual gangster epic, in that it portrayed a much more sympathetic criminal, Roy Earle (played by Humphrey Bogart.)

Bogart also played the character of Vincent Parry in Dark Passage (1947), which was written for the screen by David Goodis, who adapted his own novel. Another film, based on the play by Maxwell Anderson, was 1948’s Key Largo, the perfect blend of old-school gangster and the new wave of film noir, and it was a tour de force for Bogart, Edward G. Robinson and Claire Trevor.

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A (Black) Gat in the Hand: Joe Bonadonna’s ‘Hardboiled Film Noir’ (Part One)

Monday, October 22nd, 2018 | Posted by Bob Byrne

I reached out to some friends to help me with A (Black) Gat in the Hand, as I certainly can’t cover everything and do it all justice. Our latest guest is author and fellow Black Gater, Joe Bonadonna. And Joe delivered an in-depth look at hardboiled adaptations on the silver screen. In fact, he covered so much ground, it’s gonna be a two-parter! So, let’s dig in! 


Hardboiled Film Noir: From Printed Page to Moving Pictures (Part One)

“You’re the second guy I’ve met within hours who seems to think a gat in the hand means a world by the tail.” — Phillip Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep

Prologue

Bonadonna_HardboiledAnthologyCrime does not discriminate. From city streets and slums to quiet suburbia, from the mansions of the rich to the boardrooms of the powerful, crime is alive and well. It can be found in dance halls, beer halls and gambling halls . . . speakeasies, seedy gin joints, smoke-filled pool halls, dive hotels, and wharf-side saloons. Crime exists everywhere, and writers and filmmakers have been telling stories about crime since Gutenberg invented the printing press.

This article deals mainly with American pulp fiction, novels and films, and a few theatrical plays, too. I’m going to give a little background history on the source material for these films and on some of the writers who penned the original stories upon which they were based.

Long ago, long before television came along, the film industry turned to books, magazine stories, theatrical plays, and radio shows for their source material, as well as original screenplays. Movie moguls bought the rights to numerous best-selling novels, mined the pages of pulp magazines, comic books, and even newspaper comic strips.

Many films made during this period were Saturday matinee serials such as Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel, and The Shadow. Dick Tracy was actually given a series of stand-alone films, and of course we had Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan.

Most of these serials were the “comic book” films about pulp fiction superheroes, caped crusaders, masked avengers, and magical crime fighters. Many others films, however, were turned into “programmers,” as they were sometimes called: B-pictures with low budgets, made by up-and-coming directors, and featuring actors who had not yet attained A-list status.

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Black Gate Online Fiction: In Creepy Hollow, It’s Halloween All Year Long! An Excerpt from The Power of the Sapphire Wand by Erika M Szabo and Joe Bonadonna

Thursday, October 26th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

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Black Gate is pleased to present an exclusive excerpt from The Power of the Sapphire Wand (Creepy Hollow Adventures #2), the sequel to Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin, by Erika M Szabo and Joe Bonadonna.

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by Mark Rigney, John Fultz, Jon Sprunk, Tara Cardinal and Alex Bledsoe, E.E. Knight, Vaughn Heppner,  Howard Andrew Jones, David Evan Harris, John C. Hocking, Michael Shea, Aaron Bradford Starr, Martha Wells, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, C.S.E. Cooney, and many others, is here.

The Power of the Sapphire Wand (Creepy Hollow Adventures #2) is a spooky Halloween story for children, ages 6 to 14. It is written by Erika M Szabo and Joe Bonadonna, and illustrated by Erika M Szabo. Published by Golden Box Books Publishing, New York on October 1, 2017. Available in paperback ($11.95), and Kindle and Nook editions ($2.99).

Read the complete excerpt here.


Black Gate Online Fiction: In Creepy Hollow, It’s Halloween All Year Long! An Excerpt from Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin by Erika M Szabo and Joe Bonadonna

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017 | Posted by Joe Bonadonna

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Without Erika M Szabo, this short little novel would have remained no more than the seed of an idea I had about ten years ago. Together, we wrote a heroic fantasy adventure for middle-grade children.

The story begins when Nikki Sweet and her cousin, Jack Brady, find a mysterious black pumpkin in the forest one Halloween morning, near their Grandmother’s house. A wise talking, silver wind chime in the shape of a skeleton named Wishbone Jones tells them that the ghosts of the Trinity of Wishmothers, the Guardians of the realm of Celestria in Creepy Hollow, are trapped inside the pumpkin and can’t be freed without their magic Wands. The children offer their help, so Wishbone takes them through an Ectomagic Gate to the world of Creepy Hollow, where they set out to retrieve the three wands he disguised by magic and hid in Red Crow Forest, the Tower of Shadows, and the Cave of Spooks. The witch Ghoulina, a beautiful vegetarian ghoul, and Catman, who was once a man, join them on their quest. They must face danger and conquer evil every step of the way as they search for the Wands before the wicked Hobgoblin and his henchman, a Tasmanian Devil named Ebenezer Rex, can get their hands on them.

In this excerpt from the novel, Nikki, Jack and their three companions have reached the destination of their third and final quest. The Wand they are looking for was transformed by Wishbone into a Halloween mask, in order to keep it safe. As they enter the Cave of Spooks to retrieve the mask, they are unaware that Hobgoblin and Ebenezer Rex, who murdered the three Wishmothers, are close on their heels…

Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin (Creepy Hollow Adventures #1) is a spooky Halloween story for children, ages 6 to 14. It is written by Erika M Szabo and Joe Bonadonna, and illustrated by Erika M Szabo. Published by Golden Box Books Publishing, New York on April 6, 2017. Available in paperback ($8.95), and Kindle and Nook editions ($2.99). It is the Winner of the 2017 Golden Book Judges’ Choice Award for Children’s Fantasy.

Read the complete excerpt here.


Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin by Erika M. Szabo and Joe Bonadonna

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

oie_44152suEVDGo2 (1)And now for something completely different: Only two weeks into my sci-fi excursion, I’m sidetracked by Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin, a new young adult fantasy from Black Gate’s own Joe Bonadonna and Erika M. Szabo. Although written for readers a couple of decades my junior, I enjoyed the heck out of it.

Somewhere in space and time, across from Halloween, is the world of Creepy Hollow. It used to be protected from evil by the Trinity of Wishmothers. Now, though, they are dead, and their ghosts have been trapped by Hobart T. Hobgoblin in a pitch-black pumpkin. The wicked Hobart (and his sidekick, Ebenezer Rex, the Tasmanian Devil) is now free to work evil on the land.

On Halloween, twelve-year-old Nikki Sweet and her eleven-year-old cousin, Jack Brady, find a black pumpkin. Their immediate reaction is to bring it home and turn it into a jack-o’-lantern. Just as they prepare to fetch a knife, their grandmother’s silver skeleton wind chime, Mr. Bonejingles, warns them not to do it.

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Dorgo’s Dozen Questions: Getting Grilled by Joe Bonadonna

Sunday, February 12th, 2017 | Posted by SELindberg

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Thanks to Joe Bonadonna for the opportunity to be grilled by Dorgo’s Dozen questions. Phew, this will be intense! One cannot lie to a detective as keen as Dorgo, especially when his dowsing rod can sense minor indiscretions — I just hope he can differentiate between fantasy and reality. So please read on, as I attempt to pass the interrogation.

Who the hell are you?

I’m Seth (S.E.) Lindberg, residing near Cincinnati, Ohio working as a microscopist during sunlight and writer by moonlight. Two decades of practicing chemistry, combined with a passion for the Sword & Sorcery genre, drives me to write adventure fictionalizing alchemy. I write the Dyscrasia Fiction series and contribute to Perseid Press anthologies. All are invited to the Goodreads.com Sword & Sorcery Group which I co-moderate.

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Black Gate Online Fiction: An Excerpt from Mad Shadows II by Joe Bonadonna

Saturday, January 28th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Mad Shadows 2 cover by Erika M. Szabo-small MAD SHADOWS 2 BACK Cover-small

Joe Bonadonna’s Dorgo the Dowser novelette “The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum,” part of Joe’s first swords and sorcery collection, Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, is one of the most popular pieces of fiction ever posted at Black Gate. Joe’s other contributions to the Black Gate Online Fiction library include an exclusive excerpt from Waters of Darkness, his supernatural pirate dark fantasy novel co-written with David C. Smith, and his recent story “Queen of Toads,” an old-fashioned pulp horror tale.

Black Gate is very pleased to offer our readers an exclusive excerpt from Part Three of Mad Shadows II — Dorgo the Dowser and The Order of the Serpent, published in trade paperback and digital formats this month.

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Mad Shadows II: Dorgo the Dowser and The Order of the Serpent by Joe Bonadonna

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

oie_2452510XuzP2C1Joe Bonadonna’s a friend of Black Gate and, I’m proud to say, a friend of mine. He’s also a heck of a teller of hardboiled action and adventure tales. After too many years out of the toilsome fields of swords & sorcery, he returned in 2010 with a top-flight collection of short stories about one Dorgo Mikawber, dowser of magic and handy with a saber. I discovered Joe and that book, Mad Shadows (2010) here on the virtual pages of Black Gate, and reviewed it over on my site about four years ago.

After another significant hiatus he’s returned with a second collection of Dorgo’s adventures: Mad Shadows II: Dorgo the Dowser and The Order of the Serpent (2017). That’s a lot of title for a book that just crosses the two-hundred page mark, but it gives a nice sense of the pulpy goodness that lies betwixt its covers.

Dorgo Mikawber was raised in an orphanage, served in the army, and now makes his living as a magical investigator and finder of lost people. Last time out Dorgo’s adventures took him all over the continent of Aerlothia on the world of Tanyime. This time around his wanderings are more limited, starting in the countryside just beyond his home city, Valdar.

MS II is a fix-up. It’s made up of three separate tales, each linked to the other, weaving a larger story of Dorgo’s fight against the mysterious Order of the Serpent and its leader, Ophidious Garloo.

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Black Gate Online Fiction: “Queen of Toads” by Joe Bonadonna

Sunday, October 9th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

joe-bonadonna-smallWe posted Joe Bonadonna’s Dorgo the Dowser novelette “The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum,” part of Joe’s first swords and sorcery collection, Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, way back in December 2011. It quickly became one of our most popular online stories, and it has remained so for nearly five years. We also presented an exclusive excerpt from Waters of Darkness, his supernatural pirate dark fantasy novel co-written with David C. Smith, in 2013. Since then, Joe has become one of our most reliable and popular reviewers.

We are very pleased to have the opportunity to present “Queen of Toads,” an old-fashioned pulp horror tale, for your reading pleasure.

In the marsh out back, these strange creatures. I’ve seen them at night, hopping back and forth across Venn Road, coming from and heading to the marsh. They must be going out hunting, though what they might prey upon sure has me stumped. Maybe fish or small game. Hell, they’re as big as some breeds of dogs. And the way those strange feathers of theirs glow in the moonlight — the same colour as the rocks! — makes me wonder how they could possibly sneak up on anything! Makes me wonder if they came here with those rocks, came from inside them, maybe. They look like frogs and toads, but like none I’ve ever seen before. I surely won’t be frying up and eating their legs! I told my Minerva to steer clear of the things, too. Told her not to touch or try to catch them. You never know where they might have come from and what sickness they might carry.

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by Mark Rigney, Michael A. Armstrong, C.S.E. Cooney, Vaughn Heppner, E.E. Knight, Jason E. Thummel, Judith Berman, Howard Andrew Jones, Dave Gross, Harry Connolly, and others, is here.

“Queen of Toads” is a complete 9,000-word humorous Lovecraft-pastiche offered at no cost.

Read the complete story here.


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