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!

March writing wrap-up.

Despite the insanity into which March rapidly descended, we here at Ward Manor have done our level best to maintain a sense of normalcy to the maximum possible extent. There have been the challenges we’re all facing as we adapt to an existence that necessitates our staying inside or close to the house.

I received email after email notifying me that movies and other events for which I had tickets or just plans to attend were cancelled and refunded. Our desire to hang out with our friends is set aside out of concern for those very same friends. I still catch myself thinking I’ll take a quick jaunt to some store, only to remind myself the store is closed or – if it’s a business deemed essential – whether my need to visit is essential. The kids are home and “attending” school via virtual means, while my wife and I continue to work from home as we were doing long before the current situation made it a necessity. With all of that said, we’re in a pretty good place as these things go, so none of what I just wrote is a complaint.

And with all of that, life and work continues.

The end of March brought with it the end of my first year as a consultant to CBS Global Franchise Management. What a ride that’s been, and 2020 is already shaping up to be interesting even with the current reality we’re all facing. Despite the slowdowns on various fronts, creators are still creating from their home offices and studios and that translates into material I get to review. There’s still a lot of Star Trek storytelling being conjured out there on various fronts. It’s a fun time to be a fan of this stuff, let me tell you. Keep watching the skies, and all that.

Elsewhere within my little realm, writing or things that somewhat resemble writing continue to gestate in fits and starts. March was a bit of a transition month as things wind down, wind up, or move into position in preparation for my giving them a lot more attention in the months to come. Here’s the rundown:

Continue reading “March writing wrap-up.”

New interview with the Trek This Out podcast!

What’s that? Another interview? Why, yes. Yes, it is.

TrekThisOut-logoThis time, I sit down for a virtual confab/interview with Andrea Davies and John Aitken, hosts of the Trek This Out podcast. As you can probably guess from the show’s title, we talk a little Star Trek during this conversation. Specifically, we talk about my recently released Kirk Fu Manual because that’s all the rage this month. It’s like everybody is Kirk Fu fighting as their minds become fast as lightning even though the future is a little bit frightening and it’s the book of their lives that they’re…..

:: ahem ::

Sorry. Distracted for a sec, there. Where were we? Oh, right. Podcast. Confab interview thing. Got it.

Anywho, in addition to Kirk Fu, we bounce around a bit, talking about other Trek projects I’ve worked on over the :: mumble mumble :: years I’ve been doing this whole writing thing, my “duties” as a consultant for CBS Global Franchise Management. Describing what I do in that role is a lot like Chandler trying to tell the other Friends what he does for a living. We also talk about Tom Brady leaving the Patriots to join the Bucs, Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Discovery, and a speed round of questions about favorite this and favorite that. Then we pick a redshirt death for another host who wasn’t there. Good times.

Check it all out here: Trek This Out Podcast – “The Dayton Ward Tapes”

Thanks very much to Andrea and John for having me on, and for the fun discussion. Maybe we can do it again sometime!

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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!

The way late February writing wrap-up.

You’d think if you get an extra day during a month you could accomplish more.

Turns out? Not so much.

My consulting duties with CBS continue to keep me busy. Lots of review and commenting on various projects in their pipeline, including comics material from IDW Publishing, novels and such from Simon & Schuster, and a few very cool things beyond those platforms lurk on the horizon. There’s a lot of Star Trek storytelling going on (or it wants to be going on) out there. Pretty dang cool, if you ask me. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I still have illusions of being some kind of freelance writer, which means fussing about with this and that throughout the month. Here’s what happened in February:

Continue reading “The way late February writing wrap-up.”

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!”

January writing wrap-up.

So, January 2020.

That was a hell of a year, wasn’t it?

The new year has started off in the fast lane. Lots of stuff going on at Ward Manor, and as you’ve likely guessed a good bit of that involves Star Trek in some flavor or another. My consulting duties with CBS continue apace, and a good chunk of the month was devoted to reviewing or weighing in on assorted things in various stages of development. This primarily includes material from both Simon & Schuster and IDW Publishing but a couple of other things wormed their way into the mix. Lots of sausage being made, you know.

Meanwhile, on my own writing front, things are in a bit of a “moving things around the board” mode. Here’s what moved around in January:

Continue reading “January writing wrap-up.”