Zlonk! Zok! Zowie!

Zlonk Zok Zowie-CoverThe Subterranean Blue Grotto Guide to Batman ’66 – Season One
edited by Jim Beard with Rich Handley

Another Bright, Sunny Day in Gotham City…Or is it?

The Riddler, the Penguin, the Joker, and Catwoman are all making their first fiendish forays to prey upon Gotham’s innocent citizens, but Batman and Robin, the famous Caped Crusaders, stand ready to Z-ZWAP! their diabolic schemes–all the time knowing full well that even more arch-criminals such as the Bookworm, King Tut, and False Face will follow!

Maybe you already know these stories and have thrilled to them since their debut during the inaugural 1966 season of the beloved Batman television series–but when eighteen energetic essayists all descend upon these episodes to evaluate them for enlightenment, suffice to say, citizen, you’ve never seen them like this before!

Join Jim Beard, creator and editor of Gotham City 14 Miles, as he bounds back to the Batcave with a few fearless friends to dig deep into Batman Season One’s seventeen episodes and the 1966 Batman feature film. With particular points-of-view and a worldly wealth of Bat-knowledge, these writers tackle themes, tones, and tropes beyond any previous Batman episode guides–Holy Hooks! They’ll ZLONK! ZOK! ZOWIE! your senses!

Featuring Special Guest Essayists: Jim Beard, Ed Catto, Joe Crowe, Keith DeCandido, Kevin Dilmore, Chuck Dixon, John S. Drew, Pat Evans, Chris Franklin, Bob Greenberger, Dan Greenfield, Rich Handley, Paul Kupperberg, Will Murray, Alan J. Porter, Mark B. Racop, Peter Sanderson, Steven Thompson, and Dayton Ward. Cover by Sean E. Ali.

Trade Paperback from Amazon.com
Kindle eBook from Amazon.com

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Find something “serious” to write about for a show that was never really intended to be taken all that seriously? Sure, Jim. No pressure.

The truth is that despite its over-the-top and in-your-face campy nature, the 1960s Batman series did have a few layers to it. Many of its episodes managed to slip a little bit of subtle messaging past viewers caught up in the on-screen craziness, usually in the form of some sly writing by the likes of Lorenzo Semple Jr., Ralph Ross, Charles Hoffman, and so many other writers who contributed scripts over the course of the show’s three seasons. Anything earth-shattering? Perhaps. Perhaps not. That sort of thing ultimately is for viewers and fans to decide, but maybe we can help a little.

Enter the Subterranean Grotto (not the Sub-Subterranean Grotto…that’s only for emergencies). Published by Crazy 8 Press, Zlonk! Zok! Zowie! is presented as an exploration of just what might be baked into the episodes of the show’s first season along with the 1966 Batman feature film based on the series. Kevin and teamed up to provide a look at the two-part story that features the return of the Clown Prince of Crime himself, “The Joker Goes to School” and “He Meets His Match, the Grisly Ghoul.” It’s all about how Batman’s arch nemesis involves himself in juvenile deliquency. Hey, slow day in Gotham, I guess.

Volumes examining the second and third seasons are already in the planning stages. If you’re a fan of Adam West’s Batman (and really…who isn’t), you should give this new tome a look. To the bookstore*, citizens!

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* Yes, I know that as I write this, visiting a bookstore “just because” is not really an option due to the current state of affairs, but you still have online resources to help you during these trying times until some semblance of sanity is restored!

IncrediBuilds: Klingon Bird-of-Prey

IncrediBuilds-BoPStar Trek

Get ready to boldly go where no one has gone before with this exciting Klingon wood model set. The 32-page softcover book is packed with information on the Bird-of-Prey warship, from its basic capabilities to its pivotal role in the Star Trek universe. Complete with stunning imagery and behind-the-scenes content, this book and model set is a must-have for any Trek fan. The wood model is easy to assemble and forms a dynamic, displayable 3D version of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey that fans will love.

Includes:
– Laser-cut, FSC®-certified wood sheet with easy-to-assemble pieces
– Step-by-step instructions
– Coloring and crafting ideas
– A Klingon Bird-of-Prey book

Skill Level: Intermediate

Order it directly from Insight Editions’ IncrediBuilds website!


Like the previous Star Trek and Toy Story IncrediBuilds projects I’ve worked on for Insight Editions, this is a departure from the sort of things I usually write, but still a lot of fun. The book I write to go with each model is aimed at the younger audience (10+ in this instance). Most of the material is offered from “inside the box” as though providing something of an historical record about the ship, while the last few pages talk about how the BoP was created for its use in the Star Trek films as well as how the design as evolved over the course of the subsequent television series up to and including Star Trek: Discovery.

As for the model? For my money, this may be my favorite one so far. They really did a nice job translating the ship’s design into the IncrediBuilds mold, and the instructions include options for painting and customizing yours once you build it. No tape or glue required!

There’s been some talk about doing additional Star Trek IncrediBuilds projects. Assuming I’m involved with any of those, I’ll be sure to share all the juicy details as I’m able.

Agents of Influence: We have a cover!

Huzzah!

While I’ve been occupied with other things, Simon & Schuster snuck in the side door and left me a care package in the form of the brand-spankin’ new cover for my forthcoming Star Trek original series novel Agents of Influence. I’m not even going to waste a lot of time with a meandering introduction to get you there. Here. Look:

AgentsOfInfluence-Cover(Click to Biggie Size)

What’s it all about, you ask? Well, BOOM:

Continue reading “Agents of Influence: We have a cover!”

Da-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na….Bat Book!

A while back, Kevin and I were invited to contribute to a book being put together by author/editor Jim Beard, with whom I’d previously worked and had much fun when he teamed up with author/editor Rich Handley to assemble Planet of the Apes: Tales From the Forbidden Zone. Having been allowed to scratch my Apes fanboy itch with a new short story based on that longtime favorite property, I was jazzed at the chance to dig in and yammer a bit about another fond childhood staple, the 1960s Batman television series.

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Instead of writing fiction this time, Kevin and I would be would be providing an essay about a specific episode. Two episodes, really, since most of the Batman stories were two-parters, especially during the show’s first two seasons, with the halves split between Wednesday and Thursday evenings each week. This collection would feature essays about each of the first season’s 17 stories (or 34 episodes).

The result of all that writing and whatnot? ZLONK! ZOK! ZOWIE! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Guide to Batman ’66–Season One.

(Say that three times fast. Meanwhile, I’ll be over here contemplating how sweet it would be to actually write Batman ’66 short fiction.)

Our mission? Attempt to give readers and fans–old and new alike–something new to think about regarding this intentionally campy and oft-dismissed incarnation of the Caped Crusader. Kevin and I join Jim in this endeavor along with these fine folks:

BatBookS1-CoverEd Catto
Joe Crow
Keith R.A. DeCandido
Chuck Dixon
John S. Drew
Pat Evans
Chris Franklin
Bob Greenberger
Dan Greenfield
Rich Handley
Paul Kupperberg
Will Murray
Alan J. Porter
Mark Racop
Peter Sanderson
Steven Thompson

You can read more about this project from this little tease article written by one of the book’s contributors, Dan Greenfield, over at the 13th Dimenion website:

Sneak Peek: Dig the Next Great Batman ’66 Book

This first collection of all-new Batman ’66-inspired essays is coming (I think) this summer, available in trade paperback and eBook formats from the gang over at Crazy 8 Press. More info to share as it becomes available. Stay tuned, citizens!

Star Trek: Kirk Fu Manual

star-trek-kirk-fu-manual-coverAs captain of the legendary U.S.S. Enterprise, James T. Kirk engaged in his share of fisticuffs, besting opponents with a slick combination of moves and guile that remains unmatched. Is there anyone you’d rather have watching your back as you take on Klingons, alien gladiators, genetically engineered supermen, and even the occasional giant walking reptile?

Kirk Fu is a series of unarmed combat techniques developed by one of Starfleet’s most celebrated starship captains over several years of exploring deep space. A blend of various fighting styles, Kirk Fu incorporates elements of several Earth-based martial arts forms as well as cruder methods employed in bars and back alleys on planets throughout the galaxy. It is as unorthodox in practice as it is unbelievable to behold. Including excerpts from Kirk’s own notes and personal logs, Star Trek: Kirk Fu Manual is the perfect training guide for surviving the depths of space. With proper training and practice, every Starfleet cadet can become one with Kirk Fu.

Continue reading “Star Trek: Kirk Fu Manual”

Kirk Fu reviews for YOU!

Look,

I think we all can agree creating a book based around the inimitable fighting style of Star Trek‘s very own Captain James T. Kirk is a bit on the silly side. But, here’s the thing: If anybody was going to do such a book, I wanted it to be me.

I mean, come on. You’ve seen me goofing off here and on social media, making or sharing all manner of Star Trek jokes, pics, cartoons, and whatnot. Remember the American Chopper meme? Coming up with Trek-themed April Fool’s gags like fake book projects or breaking up with Kevin? The idea that the voyages of the Starship Enterprise may have been faked?

And of course, there was Spock of Ages.

SpockOfAges-Poster

Such shenanigans are one of the main reasons I even bother with social media at all.

So, yeah. I’m the perfect clown to do something like a book about Kirk Fu. What I didn’t count on was the number of people who actually thought this was a good idea, let alone wanted to see it become a reality.

And yet, here we are.

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It’s been a long road – as they say – getting from there to here. “There” being when I first pitched the idea to Chris Prince, my editor at Insight Editions, as I was finishing up work on the Vulcan Travel Guide. His initial enthusiasm for the idea was undeterred by the obstacles presented by a fickle publishing world, and he kept bringing it up at meetings and wherever else it was appropriate to broach such subjects.

By the time I was given a green light to actually write the book, editor Paul Ruditis was overseeing my efforts. Fate and circumstances saw to it Paul had to move on to other projects while I was still finishing up the manuscript, but he made sure I was left in good hands with the very awesome Holly Fisher, with whom I’d previously worked for the first two Star Trek IncrediBuilds projects. Holly was all about Kirk Fu from the jump, and she did an amazing job corralling not just me but also artist Christian Cornia while punching this thing into the end zone.

What I didn’t anticipate was how much attention the book would get.

To but this in perspective, my books don’t typically attract much in the way of mainstream interest. Yes, Star Trek and other genre news sites, fan sites, and reviewers report on them along with everything else going on in the Trek publishing sphere, and of course the hardcore Star Trek readers who follow what we do – day in and day out, month in and month out – are a treasure. But beyond that? It’s pretty rare for my work to be noticed “out there in the real world.”

That changed a bit with the aforementioned Vulcan Travel Guide, which gathered a bit of attention from higher profile outlets like Nerdist.com and even Entertainment Weekly. I don’t mind saying that last one was a pretty big deal for me. That my editors and the marketing group at Insight felt strongly enough to push the book in that direction told me they had real confidence the thing could sell. They keep calling me to write for them, so I guess I’m doing something right.

Which brings us to my latest Insight offering: Star Trek: Kirk Fu Manual.

You’ve been reading about this thing for the last couple of years as we slowly – s-l-o-w-l-y – move ever closer toward publication and now that we’re in the home stretch the marketing team has been going all out. In addition to sending review copies to literally hundreds of outlets well over the book’s on-sale date, they’ve even created what I’m told is the first of two different book trailers. Wanna see? BAM:

See? You’re ready to stretch and warm up and get on with fighting aliens Jimmy T style, aren’t you?

Another surprise this time around is that Insight has given the go-ahead to the various outlets to publish their reviews well ahead of the book’s release date. I’ve already done a handful of interviews, the first reviews started popping up weeks ago, and we’re still two weeks away from publication. As with the travel guides, I can only guess this means my publisher is jazzed about this book and is happy to get the word out well ahead of time so folks can pre-order their copies. In an ideal world, everybody will soon be Kirk Fu fighting, with me and Christian as your guides.

Here’s a rundown of some of the reviews I’ve seen, including some by fans that are just really cool:

TrekMovie– January 31st
Captain Foley/Trekyards – January 31st (YouTube video)
Starburst Magazine – February 4th
TrekToday – February 4th
Trek Central – February 5th
Syfy Wire – February 6th
Borg.com – February 6th
Treksphere – February 12th
The Future of the Force – February 14th
Irish Trekkie – February 14th (YouTube video)
Trek on the Tube – February 14th (YouTube video…and beware the Canon Cop!)
Daily Star Trek News – February 17th (podcast)

These are just the ones I know about.

People are picking up what I’m throwing down, and I’m so totally here for it. I mean, it’s been almost a month since the first reviews started popping up, and here we are flying headlong toward Publication Day and I cannot wait to see this thing in stores. With all of that said, I’m still sorta gobsmacked this book has gotten the traction it seems to be enjoying, and to think: this is my first hardcover publication.

My high school English teacher and guidance counselor so owe me monster apologies.

You’ve pre-ordered your copy, right?

KirkFu

Happy Birthday, Stars and Stripes!

One of the cool fringe benefits of volunteering at the National World War I Museum and Memorial here in Kansas City is that as I continue my learning journey about the war itself, I pick up bits of knowledge and trivia about all manner of subjects. Some are directly tied to the conflict, of course, and others have only tenuous connections. Even those serve to increase my understanding not just of the war but also the world and events which spawned it.

Among the little infonuggets I’ve happened across while perusing one of the many artifacts and didactics filling the museum’s galleries is this: Today, February 8th, marks the 102nd anniversary of Stars and Stripes, the first officially sanctioned military newspaper to carry that storied name.

Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Stars and Stripes!”

Back cover copy for my upcoming Star Trek novel Agents of Influence!

Those of you who frequent this space have likely read my occasional babbling about Agents of Influence, my upcoming Star Trek original series novel that’ll be out in June.

I’ve been waiting (im)patiently for quite a while to be able to share the book’s back cover description and at long last I have a green light to do just that. Therefore and without further ado, read on:


For years, Starfleet Intelligence agents have carried out undercover assignments deep within the Klingon Empire. Surgically altered and rigorously trained in Klingon culture, they operate in plain sight and without any direct support, while collecting information and infiltrating the highest levels of imperial power. Their actions have given Starfleet valuable insight into the inner workings of Klingon government and its relentless military apparatus.

After three of Starfleet’s longest serving agents fear exposure, they initiate emergency extraction procedures. Their planned rendezvous with the U.S.S. Endeavour goes awry, threatening to reveal their activities and the damaging intelligence they’ve collected during their mission. Tasked by Starfleet to salvage the botched rescue attempt, Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise must discover the truth behind a secret weapons experiment while avoiding an interstellar incident with the potential to ignite a new war between the Federation and one of its oldest adversaries.


Agents of Influence will be published by Gallery Books on June 9th in trade paperback, eBook, and audiobook formats. Pre-order links appear to be a little jacked up at the moment, but once it’s straightened out I’ll be sure to post those details.

Meanwhile, it’s possible the blurb may prompt some questions. 🙂

It’s coming from the multiplex…in September!

The 1980s is a decade you had to experience in order to fully appreciate.

MaxHeadroomSure, you can listen to the music or watch TV shows or movies of the era and get a sense of what it was like, but unless you lived it — with the crazy fashion (much of which I eschewed) weird generational politics as the Baby Boomers made their mark while we young, developing Gen-Xers tried to figure out how best to sneak our Walkmans into school or infiltrate the theater and the R-rated raunchy comedy flicks after purchasing tickets to Explorers or The Goonies or whatever — you’re simply missing some key context and flavor. Attempts at recreating that aesthetic and vibe are all over the place so far as their levels of success, and I admit I enjoy shows like Stranger Things or comics like Paper Girls as examples of how to it right. I mean, it’s hard to explain to somebody why you thought you wanted to be Don Johnson or Max Headroom when you grew up.

(Okay, Max Headroom may not be the best example. You know what? Screw it. I’m leaving him in there.)

Continue reading “It’s coming from the multiplex…in September!”

Some holiday reading suggestions!

Ah, Christmas.

When I was a kid, that 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 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.)

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.

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 little 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:

CharlieBrownChristmasA 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!”

PolarExpress

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.

HomeAlone-IllustratedHome 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.

WishForWingsA 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….

ShootingAtTheStarsShooting 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.

KlingonKhristmasA 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.

GrinchHow 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?

DieHardXmasA Die Hard Christmas – The most recent entry on this list, and one destined to become an instant 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!