Tuesday Trekkin’: the Star Trek Giant Poster Books.

Okay, so at least this time it’s been less than a month since the previous installment of this “irregularly recurring” blog feature. Not too bad, when considering all the other things on my various plates. I originally thought “monthly” might be a good schedule for this sort of thing, but if I’m feeling froggy and I’m unexpectedly inundated with free time*, who knows?

(* = Yeah, that’s not really a thing, is it?)

For those joining the program already in progress, “Tuesday Trekkin'” is pretty much just an excuse for me to wax nostalgic about some facet of old-school Star Trek fandom, be it a fondly remembered bit of funky merchandise, “milestones” or convention memories or whatever else tickles my fancy on any given day. For this latest entry, I’m digging into my archives and pulling out some truly 1970s pop culture goodness: the Star Trek “Giant Poster Books.”

Continue reading “Tuesday Trekkin’: the Star Trek Giant Poster Books.”

Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021: Now available in hardcover and trade paperback!

So, it’s like this: Back on March 16th, Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021 was released by Crazy 8 Press in eBook format. As editor Bob Greenberger explained at the time, the eBook was obviously easier to format and make available as a download, helping him to start sending digital perks to those folks who supported the Kickstarter campaign to secure the funds required to publish the book. At the same time, preparations were being finalized to have the book made ready to offer in hardcover and trade paperback formats.

Well, they’re now available!

Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021 is yet another celebration of those exciting pulp fiction stories of yesteryear, but with something of a modern twist. The book is jammed to overflowing with 27 stories told in classic pulp style, each one filled to overflowing to action, adventure, excitement, thrills, chills, mystery, romance, humor, and all sorts of juicy pulpy stuff.

Several of the writers from the original Thrilling Adventure Yarns return for the new volume, spinnning all-new tales with characters created for the first go-around. Others take on popular characters who now lurk and quest in the public domain, such as Sherlock Holmes himself! There are also new additions to roster, which explains Kevin Dilmore and myself teaming up for a new story, “Protocol 23,” which might very well be the first such yarn featuring characters we created. Plus, the cherry on top has to be a never-before-seen story by legendary pulp writer Lester Dent, the creator of Doc Savage. That alone has to be worth the price of admission, but buy your ticket and you still get 26 more stories as a bonus, amirite?

The roster for Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021 includes: Michael A. Burstein, Russ Colchamiro, Greg Cox, Paige Daniels, Lester Dent, Mary Fan, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, Heather E. Hutsell, Paul Kupperberg, Karissa Laurel, William Leisner, Jonathan Maberry, David Mack, Ron Marz, Danielle Ackley McPhail, Stuart Moore, Will Murray, Jody Lynn Nye, Scott Pearson, Aaron Rosenberg, Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore, Richard C. White, and Sherri Cook Woosley.

The book also contains all-new art to go with each story, so readers be treated to the artistic stylings of June Brigman, Kerry Callen, Gary Carbon, Mike Collins, Daerick Gross, Matt Haley, Karl Kesel, Peter Krause, Luke McDonell, Ron Randall, Dan Schkade, Bart Sears, Daniele Sera, Jeff Weigel, and Mark Wheatley.

The book’s page at Amazon.com has been updated to reflect the availability of the hardcover and trade paperback editions along with the eBook version, so go and get your pulp on, whydontcha?

Tied Up With Tie-ins: Mission: Impossible!

You can tell I have no pressing writing deadlines when I have time for more fanciful pursuits such as this. In between a bunch of reading for the consulting gig, I decided to add another entry to this irregularly recurring blog feature, even though the previous installment was just a couple of weeks ago. I know…daring, amirite?

For those new to this bit of distraction, “Tied Up With Tie-ins” is where I take a look back at a favorite series of movie or TV tie-in books. This usually means something older, such as the many different tie-ins which were all over the place decades ago. Examples include novels based on The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic WomanPlanet of the Apes, and Space: 1999 among others. I’m not snobby about newer stuff, though, as I’ve previously written about novels based on one of my favorite TV series of the 21st century, 24.

For this latest installment, your mission — should you choose to accept it — is to take a trip with me down Memory Lane as we revisit the handful of novels tying into Mission: Impossible…both the classic TV series as well as the feature films….

Continue reading “Tied Up With Tie-ins: Mission: Impossible!”

Tuesday Trekkin’: the Star Trek “Fotonovels.”

To the surprise of perhaps no one, my most recent attempt at an “irregularly recurring” blog feature has unfolded pretty much in keeping with my master plan. It’s been four months since the last installment of “Tuesday Trekkin’,” which at the time I was thinking could be a monthly thing. Sounds like government, amirite?

So, what’s the point of “Tuesday Trekkin’?” It’s basically an excuse for me to wax nostalgic about some facet of old-school Star Trek fandom, merchandise, fond memories of various “milestones” or convention memories or whatever else tickles my fancy on any given day. For this latest entry, I’m reaching up to the top shelf of older books and focusing on twelve little jewels; ambassadors for Star Trek from a truly bygone era.

Covers for Star Trek Fotonovels 1-4.

Published in 1977 and 1978, each of these “Fotonovels” takes an episode of the original Star Trek series and retells it in a neat little hybrid of paperback book, comic book, and film strips (anybody remember film strips from school?). Each installment boasted “300 Full Color Action Scenes” from the selected episode, with dialogue and exposition presented in “comic book style,” with word and thought balloons and so on.

A 2-page spread from Star Trek Fotonovel #1, “City On the Edge of Forever”

The selection of episodes to adapt into Fotonovel form – as well as the order in which each book was released – appears to have been largely random. The 12 installments include six episodes from Star Trek‘s first season, four from its second year, and two from the final season. While most of these rank among my favorite episodes from across the series, prominent installments such as “Arena,” “The Doomsday Machine,” “Mirror, Mirror,” and “The Tholian Web” among others are conspicous in their absence. I mean…an “Arena” Fotonovel? Shut up and take my money.

Perhaps the selected episodes represented favorites of writer Thomas Warkentin, who was tasked with crafting scripts adapting the episodes for the books’ format. Fans of Star Trek comics may recognize Warkentin as one of the writers who later worked on the Star Trek comic strip which appeared in newspapers via the Los Angeles Times Syndicate between 1979 and 1983. For his work on the Fotonovels, he chose the images from each episode and also added captions, thought balloons, and other bits which weren’t present in the episodes themselves or even their original scripts.

The first one of these I remember buying was #4, “A Taste of Armageddon,” sometime in 1978 or 79, when I happened across it in a local department store’s book section. I don’t remember, but I’m sure at least one or two of the Bantam Star Trek novels were also occupying space somewhere on those shelves, along with other popular science fiction and fantasy novels of the day. So, for $1.95 I was able to revisit this particular episode over and over, and of course the hunt began to find the other books in the series…a quest which would not be completed for several years, as I recall. Over the years, the Fotonovel copies I had as a kid deteriorated to the point that a few of them were coming apart, but being an adult generally means having more disposable income, so as circumstances presented themselves I eventually replaced all twelve books with pristine copies lovingly sealed in mylar bags.

“Photo novels,” from what I’ve learned over the years, were fairly popular in other countries as far back as the 1950s (including editions of American TV shows and films), but it seems as though no one attempted the concept in the U.S. until the 1970s. So far as Star Trek is concerned, the Fotonovel was indeed a neat concept, particularly for me as a kid, in the days before home video let alone on-demand streaming.

Other shows and films got the Fotonovel treatment during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Among the “cooler” ones I own are Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, the first telemovie for The Incredible Hulk, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, as well as large trade paperback versions for the original Alien film and the movie Outland. However, as VCRs became more common in the 1980s and the costs of printing entire books of slick, glossy, full-color pictures became increasingly ginormous, the concept faded into near-obsolescence.

With the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979, Pocket Books revisited the concept with a “Photostory” book, adapting the film in much the same manner as the original Fotonovels. A similar tome was released in conjunction with the second movie, 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but this time black and white photos on regular paper replaced the glorious full-color glossy pages of Fotonovels past, and the comic-style dialogue and thought balloons were swapped out for captions beneath each photo. As one might imagine, this edition wasn’t quite as well received as its predecessors, but it remains a collector’s item to this day. Both “Photostory” editions were written by Richard J. Anobile, who also was behind several of the other film and TV Fotonovel/”Video Novels” of the time.

I know of a few attempts to resurrect the format in recent years (the Charlie’s Angels film, The Blair Witch Project, and the first Fantastic Four movie), but they didn’t catch on. Why bother with something like this, when the movie’s available for home viewing a few months after it leaves theaters. That’s even more true now, as we’ve moved into the realm of simultaneous releases of films to theaters as well as on-demand streaming.

That said, Star Trek wasn’t quite done with the idea.

In late 2013, IDW Publishing – who currently holds the license to create Star Trek comics – tried an experiment. Legendary comics writer and artist John Byrne, a self-professed fan of the original series, employed photo manipulation and other techniques as he selected images from various episodes of the show to create “Strange New Worlds,” an all-new Star Trek story using these edited and enhanced photos instead of comics. Images from the show, so familiar to so many fans, were inserted into all-new backgrounds and environments generated by Mr. Byrne’s imagination and computer. The story, a sequel to the serie’s second pilot episode, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” (and which was – coincedentally – adapted as one of the original Fotonovels), was popular enough and sold enough copies that it spawned its own series of follow-ups.

Published under the umbrella title Star Trek: New Visions, 22 all-new stories were presented by Mr. Byrne in this format between May 2014 and June 2018, along with a special issue adapting the original pilot, “The Cage” released in 2016 as part of celebrating Star Trek‘s 50th anniversary. While several of the issues were sequels to episodes from the series, there also were wholly original tales, each one lovingly constructed using what had to be an intense process of image selection and manipulation to achieve the desired effect. As this usually meant selecting a character with a pose appropriate for the new scene and inserting them into a new panel of Byrne’s creation, part of the fun for readers was trying to guess from which episode a particular character or pose was drawn.

(Okay, maybe it was only fun for me.)

EDIT: Friend and comics guru Rich Handley reminded me that in addition to the 24 “Photonovel” comics, Mr. Byrne also created three special shorter stories. One of these, “Eye of the Beholder,” was included as bonus content to the second Star Trek: New Visions trade paperback collection. The second story, “More of the Serpent Than the Dove,” supported a special online sale of Star Trek digital comics a few years ago. It was later included in the fifth New Visions trade paperback collection. The final short, “Dream A Little Dream,” was included as a bonus in the eighth collection.

There’s no denying the “Fotonovel” is well and truly a relic of Yesteryear, likely appealing only to the older or hardcore collector, but those 12 little gems carry with them many fond memories from my childhood.

That said, if anyone wants to make that “Arena” one…..I’m still here and I’ve still got cash, all right?

Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021 is NOW LIVE!

That’s right, I said it.

Following up on 2019’s original Thrilling Adventure Yarns, editor Bob Greenberger and Crazy 8 Press are bringing forth yet another celebration of those exciting pulp fiction stories of yesteryear, but with something of a modern twist.

Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021 comes at ya with 27 — count ’em: 27 — stories told in the classic pulp style, each one filled to overflowing to action, adventure, excitement, thrills, chills, mystery, romance, humor, and all sorts of juicy pulpy stuff.

Several of the writers from the original volume have returned, spinnning all-new tales with characters created for the first go-around. Others take on popular characters who now lurk and quest in the public domain, such as Sherlock Holmes himself! There are also new additions to roster, which explains Kevin Dilmore and myself teaming up for a new story which might very well be the first such yarn featuring characters we created. Plus, the cherry on top has to be a never-before-seen story by legendary pulp writer Lester Dent, the creator of Doc Savage. That alone has to be worth the price of admission, but buy your ticket and you still get 26 more stories as a bonus, amirite?

The roster for Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021 includes: Michael A. Burstein, Russ Colchamiro, Greg Cox, Paige Daniels, Lester Dent, Mary Fan, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, Heather E. Hutsell, Paul Kupperberg, Karissa Laurel, William Leisner, Jonathan Maberry, David Mack, Ron Marz, Danielle Ackley McPhail, Stuart Moore, Will Murray, Jody Lynn Nye, Scott Pearson, Aaron Rosenberg, Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore, Richard C. White, and Sherri Cook Woosley.

Thanks to a wonderfully supported Kickstarter campaign, Editor Bob also was to commission all-new art to go with each story, so readers be treated to the artistic stylings of June Brigman, Kerry Callen, Gary Carbon, Mike Collins, Daerick Gross, Matt Haley, Karl Kesel, Peter Krause, Luke McDonell, Ron Randall, Dan Schkade, Bart Sears, Daniele Sera, Jeff Weigel, and Mark Wheatley.

A trade paperback edition as well as a fancy schmancy hardcover are in the works and should be available soon, but for now? Get your pulp on over at Amazon.com as the book is NOW AVAILABLE as digital format as an Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing exclusive! That’s right! Yesteryear is here as a cascade of free-flowing electrons right to your device du jour. Go check it out!

Tied Up With Tie-ins: M*A*S*H!

With the most pressing of deadlines out of the way – at least for the moment – I’ve got a bit more time for more leisurely pursuits, and that includes yammering about various favorite topics. Among those are waxing nostalgic about books of old, and that includes film and TV tie-ins. It was this love of such fondly remembered tomes that made me start this irregularly recurring blog feature, “Tied Up With Tie-ins.” It goes like this: every once in a while, I take a look back at a favorite series of movie or TV tie-in books. More often than not, this means something from those thrilling days of yesteryear with novels based on The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic WomanPlanet of the Apes, and Space: 1999 among others. I’m also up for taking a gander at more recent entries to the genre if the mood strikes, like a recent entry in which I babbled at length about novels based on one of my favorite TV series of the 2000s, 24.

For this latest installment, I’ve decided to change things up a bit by flipping the formula, beginning with a novel that spawned a popular feature film, a legendary television series, and more novels of its own: MASH.

Continue reading “Tied Up With Tie-ins: M*A*S*H!”

Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021: Now available for pre-order!

If you’ve been reading my monthly writing updates, you know that my frequent writing partner, Kevin Dilmore, and I got back into our collaborator groove a bit last year, with short stories appearing in not one but two anthologies along with an essay in collection dedicated to the 1960s Batman TV series’ first season. One other thing we worked on is now on final approach to publication, that being a story for the upcoming Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021!

Like its predecessor from 2019, this latest collection of short stories draws inspiration from the tales that once filled pulp magazines from the 1930s to well into the 1960s. Stories of this sort run the gamut from Western to detective/noir to military, science fiction and everything in between. As with the first installment, this second anthology is coming at us via Crazy 8 Press and edited by our good friend, Bob Greenberger, who’s assembled a formidable roster of writers to give you a heapin’ helpin’ of pulpy writing goodness drawn (mostly) from those thrilling days of yesteryear:

Michael A. Burstein, Russ Colchamiro, Greg Cox, Paige Daniels, Lester Dent, Mary Fan, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, Heather E. Hutsell, Paul Kupperberg, Karissa Laurel, William Leisner, Jonathan Maberry, David Mack, Ron Marz, Danielle Ackley McPhail, Stuart Moore, Will Murray, Jody Lynn Nye, Scott Pearson, Aaron Rosenberg, Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore, Richard C. White, and Sheri Cook Woosley!

(Psst: You see “Lester Dent” in the line-up, right? As in “the guy who created Doc Savage?” Yeah. That Lester Dent. There’s a never-before-seen story by him right here in this book, yo.)

Have a look at the cover, whydontcha?

Click to Biggie Size.

Oh, and did I mention each story has its own swank illustration? Bob covered those bases, too, with the artistic stylings of June Brigman, Kerry Callen, Gary Carbon, Mike Collins, Daerick Gross, Matt Haley, Karl Kesel, Peter Krause, Luke McDonell, Ron Randall, Dan Schkade, Bart Sears, Daniele Sera, Jeff Weigel, and Mark Wheatley. Because you can’t have a pulp adventure anthology without some tasty pulp adventure art.

As I write this, a Kindle eBook edition is available for pre-order just by clicking on this bit of highlighted text right here. This edition is set to go live on March 16th, and a trade paperback as well as a hardcover edition is also coming. More info on that as it becomes available. Stay tuned!

It’s gonna get all kinds of pulpy up in here, people.

Star Trek books I wish I’d written.

Wow. New year. New me. New attitude. And yet, I keep forgetting I have this blog thing here, huh?

Nah, not really. It’s definitely more me than the machine.

I promise it’s not due to a lack of interest. It’s more that I’ve just been busy juggling various work things, and I’ve still got about a month to go before the craziness dials back to any significant degree. By the end of the day, I’m generally too fried to come up with something to write about here. When I do get an idea for a topic, I end up tabling it, then forgetting about it until it seems to lose its freshness. Rinse. Repeat.

Then there are times when a weird topic just sort of pops in, knocks crap off the table, and decides it wants attention. You know, like this one.

It began the other night, when I innocently answered a question posed by someone on Facebook: “Does anybody know what the best-selling Star Trek paperback novel of all time is?” They weren’t posing a trivia question. They really wanted to know.

Heck. Now I wanna know, too.

Continue reading “Star Trek books I wish I’d written.”

Tied Up With Tie-ins: Into Infinity!

Previously on The Fog of Ward:

So, yeah. I haven’t been around here much these past couple of weeks. I promise it’s because I’ve been busy. Even with the holidays, there’s still a list of things to do, deadlines to meet, and projects to keep juggling even as we prepare to kick 2020’s ass all the way to the curb and then stomp it to the painful death it so richly deserves. As such, things like the blog, already far from the most happenin’ place on the intrawebz, has fallen a tad into neglect. I don’t expect that to change too much so long as the novel in-progress continues to occupy the center of my plate, but hopefully I can finish out this year on a high note.

For instance, we have this latest installment of my irregularly recurring blog feature “Tied Up With Tie-ins.” It goes like this: every once in a while, I take a look back at a favorite series of movie or TV tie-in books. More often than not, this means something from those thrilling days of yesteryear with novels based on The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic WomanPlanet of the Apes, and Space: 1999 among others. I’m also up for taking a gander at more recent entries to the genre if the mood strikes, like the previous entry where I yammered a bit about novels based on the TV series 24.

This latest installment is probably going to be pretty short as we’re talking about a TV project that has very limited tie-in presence. Indeed, I didn’t even know there was such a thing for this property until just a month or so ago. As it happens, this is a relatively new development, which can be a lot of fun for someone who loves this particular publishing niche. Example: me.

Anyway, what are we talking about this time? It’s a little known, oft-overlooked television film from 1975 called The Day After Tomorrow or, as it was known in the United Kingdom, Into Infinity.

Continue reading “Tied Up With Tie-ins: Into Infinity!”

Some favorite holiday reading suggestions.

When I was a kid, this time of year usually meant a slew of Christmas specials on TV. Charlie Brown, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and the Grinch to name just a few folks who stared out from the family television all through the month of December. Nowadays, you can’t go a single day of the month without running into some channel airing something holiday related, and that’s without considering streaming/on-demand options or the really hard core folks who break out a Blu-ray, DVD, VHS or Beta tape, or LaserDisc.

(If you’ve got How the Grinch Stole Christmas! on LaserDisc, you are a holiday binge watching beast.)

A guy can dream.

Know what else is good to do this time of year? Curl up with a good book. Make it a holiday-themed book if you really want to be so sweet you break out in spontaneous diabetes. Would I ever write such a book? Sure, if I was able to conjure an idea. I mean, if Kurt Russell or any of his people wanted me to help out with adapting any of the 200 pages of backstory he wrote up while preparing for The Christmas Chronicles 2, I’d totally be down for that. In that vein, if ever there needed to be that fusion of Russell’s take on Santa with Snake Plissken in something like Escape from the North Pole, that’d be fun too.

Until then, I’ll stick with a few favorites.

Granted, most of the options on this list I’m about to roll out are aimed at children, but so what? Unless you’re just utterly dead inside, you’ve still got a bit of kid hunkering down within you, so why not feed that little tyke with some smooth, seasonal words of joy and celebration….well, most of the time, anyway (see below). For example:

A Charlie Brown Christmas – An adaptation of the classic special shown every year since 1965. There are actually several different adaptations running around out there, so finding one is pretty easy. You could do worse than to add a copy to your bookshelf. “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!”

The Polar Express – The movie might’ve been disappointing for some folks, but Chris Van Allsburg’s original storybook – for which he provided the gorgeous cover and interior art – remains an annual tradition for children and adults alike.

Home Alone: The Classic Illustrated Storybook – Adapted by Jason Rekulak and illustrated by Kim Smith, the heartwarming tale of 8-year old maniacal killer-in-training Kevin McCallister and his epic Christmas Eve battle against robbers Harry and Marv attempting to break into his family’s home makes for a charming kid’s story. Come on. It practically sells itself. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before we can all behold Love Actually: The Illustrated Holiday Classic.

The Magic of Friendship Snow – One of the more recent entries into a rather packed category, I found this one by accident one day while looking for something else. The cover caught my eye and after reading the description — a young girl struggling with making new friends during the holiday season — I realized this was the kind of book I wish had been around when my daughters were younger. Andi Cann is an accomplished author of children’s books and it shows here on every page, and the interior art is simply wonderful.

A Wish for Wings That Work – I’ve been a fan of Berke Breathed’s Bloom County (and, later, Outland) since the jump, including the recent “reboot.” I still have a stuffed Opus and Bill the Cat in my home office, and I breathlessly await word of a reunion tour for Billy and the Boingers. Since I was already buying the collections of Bloom County strips at the time, it was a foregone conclusion I’d add this to my library, too. Opus just wants to fly. Is that so much to ask? But, it is Christmas…the season of miracles….

Shooting at the Stars: The Christmas Truce of 1914 – Author/illustrator John Hendrix takes his cue from real stories from the first Christmas celebrated on the Western Front during the First World War. I discovered this book at the gift shop while volunteering at the National World War I Museum and Memorial, and decided to add it to my growing collection of WWI titles.

A Very Klingon Khristmas – Written by Paul Ruditis and lavishly illustrated by Patrick Faricy, the text is fun and the artwork is absolutely amazing, making this a keeper right out of the gate. How this wonderful tome isn’t offered in stores every year alongside other perennial favorites remains a mystery to me.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! – It’s just not Christmas without Dr. Seuss’ classic tale. The mean one, Mr. Grinch, turned 60 this year, after a version of the story first appeared in an issue of Redbook Magazine in October 1957. Most of us have seen the animated special that’s aired every year since 1966. The story’s been adapted for film, the stage, and audio dramatization, but how many of you have a copy of the original story on your shelf?

A Die Hard Christmas – Destined to become a classic worthy of its place on the bookshelf alongside other iconic favorite yuletide tales. You already know how I feel about Die Hard being regarded as a Christmas movie, so you have to know that I had a copy of this bad boy the day it dropped just like Hans Gruber taking a dive off Nakatomi Tower. Yippee Kai Yay, Mr. Kringle!

And there you have it: A short list to get you started. This list obviously isn’t meant to be inclusive or definitive, or a “best of” list, and neither did I “forget” anything. Feel free to chime in with your own suggestions in the comments. Go on. You know you wanna.

However you choose to observe or celebrate the season, I hope it’s a safe and happy occasion!