Pulp Press Books are Pocket-Sized Blasts of Hardcore Mayhem [FEATURE]

“Turn off the T.V. and discover fiction like it used to be”

For my money, one of the most exciting happenings in indie publishing is going down in England via a scorching DIY rock n’ roll operation that calls itself Pulp Press. Their books, pocket-sized blasts of hardcore mayhem meant to resurrect the dime pulp novels of yesteryear, are stripped lean of all excess. At roughly 23,000 words, these little bastards can be burned through in a sitting without any difficulty, and are one hell of a great time. When I was sent a pile of the suckers to review, I thought the best way to kick things off would be to get main man Danny Bowman, who has published two novels of his own in the series writing as Danny Hogan, to explain what Pulp Press is all about. Check it out. . . .

Pulp Press touts itself as producing “fiction like it used to be.” What do you mean by that, and what was the catalyst that made you decide fuck it, I’m going to start putting out books myself?

Absolutely, the whole thing about Pulp Press is making reading entertaining. I think the story game has become spoiled by writers trying to be too damned clever and publishers and booksellers being too snooty and conservative regarding what they take on. Pulp Press is all about bringing the story back to basics and make it an easy read rather than some existential brouhaha.

Pulp Press has already released seven titles in a relatively short time, with quite a flurry out recently. Do you have a schedule you are trying to work to? Do you have a certain goal for how many books you will put out in a given year?

I hope that over time I settle into some kind of schedule. I brought out a flurry of new books to do a kind of showcase at the London Book Fair this year. Why? I don’t rightly know, but I plan to take a bit more slow and steady in the future.

What has the response been like since you started putting these books out?

The response has been a little too good, you know. I am bracing myself for the negativity which I am sure is due to me sooner or later.

What elements do you think define “pulp” fiction?

Entertainment which is cheap, disposable appeals to our good old base instincts like lust and vengeance. Just what I like.

Who are the writers that inspired you to write the kinds of stories you do, as well as the ones you choose to publish?

I grew up on the old Skinhead pulps of Richard Allen but I would say it was Hunter Thompson that got me into writing. I would say though that it is the graphic novelist Garth Ennis who really got me into that economic, darkly humorous and revenge filled style of writing that I want to do. In terms of publishing I want people who can kick out a good old no hold barred story featuring an underdog doing good and coming out winning. They’re my favorite kind of stories.

Any plans for US distribution? What about eBooks?

When I think of ebook I remind myself of the Jack Horner character in the film Boogie Nights and his attitude to video. I can’t stand the idea of the damned things. Especially as reader costs £300 ($500 – $600). I don’t associate with people who have that kind of money to throw away on a gadget and I ain’t setting out to appeal to those kind of people either. And show me a person whose happy getting into a story on their mobile phone and I’ll show you a damned fool. However, I ain’t going to make the same mistake as old Jack did, so let’s just say I’m looking into it.

Will Pulp Press ever release more traditional, 50K+ word titles?

Mate, in this day and age where most people have the attention span of a retard with sunburn I believe that short, punchy and unpretentious novels are the way to go, trust me. But hey, never say never that’s what I say.

One of the best things about the Pulp Press titles is the uniformity of the packaging. Each book looks like a battered old paperback, featuring gritty cover art by Alex Young. How did this aesthetic come about, and what’s the story on this Alex Young guy anyway?

There’s a magazine going about Brighton called Impure and around the time the Grindhouse films came out they did a special to publicize the films and had the cover all manipulated and crusty looking. I asked talented artist, my long time friend and best man at my upcoming wedding Alex Young if he could do that with the cover design and he said, “sure, dude” and look what he done did. Regarding what’s the deal with this Alex Young guy? Check Twitter and Facebook blow up when I pose that very question.

Any plans to release any pulpy stuff with laser guns or boxers or barbarians hacking enemies apart with broadswords? Or do you plan to stick to a more modern, hardboiled style of pulp?

Sci-Fi – definitely, my next project will feature some that, Westerns for sure. Boxing? That’s an interesting one, but probably some MMA or bare-knuckled stuff. Sword and Sorcery kind of stuff I think is pretty much so much its own genre and kind of so removed from the stuff I want to put out, but hey, remember what I always say ‘never say never’.

Anything else in particular you’d like to say about Pulp Press and the books you’re publishing?

Pulp Press is doing a tour of the US in September of this year anybody who wants to meet for a drink and a laugh and maybe buy Pulp Press products off of me directly in Vienna, Virginia; Memphis; New Orleans; Houston; Austin; Truth or Consequences; Tucson; San Diego; Las Vegas and Oklahoma city give me a shout on Twitter.

In closing, here are reviews of the two Danny Bowman novels for Pulp Press, writing as Danny Hogan.

Killer Tease

In the opening scene of this tight revenge story, burlesque-dancer-with-a-short-fuse Eloise Murphy smashes a glass of booze into the face of a would-be suitor, “grinding until she could feel bone and hear him squeal like the bitch he was,” after watching him attempt to sneak a little something into her drink. She is pulled away before she can finish the douchebag with a well-placed stiletto heel, and promptly loses her job. From there her life is set on a downward spiral that only a double helping of determination – and willingness to commit violence – can pull her out of.

Eloise’s journey takes her through some of the seedier streets of Brighton as she struggles to continue making her way as a dancer pushing thirty. After opening a show for a rock n’ roll band, and learning just how meager the earnings are in that particular world, she is blackmailed into taking a gig at a new club for “discerning gentlemen with very special tastes.” When she turns the tables and escapes the intended result of that gig, the brutal retribution brought against Eloise by her blackmailer would have been the end of most women. But Eloise isn’t like most women; not one to stay down when she’s kicked, her vengeance is swift, violent and deadly.

Killer Tease is a razor-edged tale that sets a no bullshit tone for what this imprint will be all about. Call it a Mission Statement of sorts, if you want; it reads more like a battle cry to me.

The Windowlicker Maker

Danny Hogan’s latest, and the most recent publication from Pulp Press, is another greasy serving of the dish best served cold. The book opens with our first-person narrator, Joe Tatum, down on the sidewalk outside a movie theater, “pissing blood from a big, fuck off stab wound” in his side. Tatum’s natural tendency to respond with violence is overcome when he remembers his promise to his wife, who is at his side, to abandon the criminal life he’d led previously. Instead, they plead with their four assailants to leave them alone, to run off before the cops arrive. Just as sirens are heard in the distance, one of the rogues pulls a pistol and kills Ava, Tatum’s wife, in cold blood.

From there our former hard man sinks into the depths of despair, wallowing in grief but holding to the promise to his late wife to live a peaceful life. He endures another beating at the hands of the same attackers when they recognize him in the neighborhood, but, when a third encounter sees the lives of others being threatened by the actions of the arrogant hoodlums, he finally snaps into action. Tatum’s revenge is swift and calculated, and the book’s body count explodes like the final showdown in a Sam Peckinpah film as he tracks his enemies’ path of destruction back to the source inspiring them.

What I appreciate most about The Windowlicker Maker is that Hogan doesn’t burden the proceedings with unnecessary back story on our narrator. The character’s inner musings hint that he left a career of dark, two-fisted-and-worse deeds, including time behind bars, to devote his life to Ava, but we don’t get the specifics. Instead, we see how capable he is when he finally takes matters into his own hands. This is effective, and keeps the story focused as the proceedings reach their grim, inevitable conclusion. Sharp eyes will notice a cameo appearance by Eloise from Killer Tease; this was also an excellent little touch by Hogan.

As a pocket-sized bundle of raw nerves and energy, The Windowlicker Maker is another fine offering from Pulp Press, and even includes a post-apocalyptic short story by Hogan called A Gun Called Comeuppance. If you’re wondering what a “windowlicker maker” actually is, though, you’ll have to read the book.

For people interested in buying Pulp Press titles, you may visit their Amazon UK store HERE. American distribution is being handled by Murder By the Book in Houston, TX, who offer a fantastic mail order option. Fans of quick, exciting reads that capture the look and feel of an era of fiction long past should make all kinds of haste to pick these titles up.

The Last Days of American Crime Book Delivers the Goods

Writer Rick Remender
Artist: Greg Tocchini
Publisher: Radical Comics
Price: 4.99 US
Mature readers

Originally when I first heard about the premise for this miniseries I was a bit sceptical thinking that Remender was trying to jump on the crime resurgence bandwagon and that it was going to be a huge flop. I’d seen Greg Tocchini’s artwork on some comic over at Marvel but was never impressed with what he’d done. Still though, I was willing to give the book a shot but I’d definitely have to take a look at it first before I plunked down my hard earned cash. A month or two before Book 1 was to be released the owners of my comic store gave me their preview copy as they knew how much of a fan I am of this genre of comics. Nothing had prepared me for what was inside that preview.

The first time that I looked inside the preview I was assaulted by these wild European colors. Tochchini’s artwork was realistic and had improved a thousand fold over what I had seen before. He was mixing mediums coloring the book traditionally while incorporating computer techniques. My jaw dropped. It took me days before I even read the preview as I simply couldn’t stop staring at the artwork. This is something rare for me, at least lately. Then after I finally read the preview I was stoked by Remender’s writing and couldn’t wait for the actual book to ship. It was time to wait.

Even though I was looking out for the book, I still didn’t get to the store in time. It had sold out and it was selling out everywhere. I called my store to see if they could order it for me and one of the owners told me that when he saw how fast It was selling he kept a copy or two for me. Man I don’t remember being that overjoyed over getting a comic.

Holding The last days of American Crime in my hands I couldn’t help but notice how heavy It felt and I glossed over the pages quickly and I saw there was an interview with both Remender and Tocchini In the back along with a sketch section for each character. This was the equivalent of getting a director’s cut of your favourite DVD and it was right out of the gate too. Huge kudos go out to Radical and all of the fine folks responsible. Okay, enough of me gushing over the book, let’s get Into the details.

It’s a few weeks away from the US government’s broadcast of a signal that will render the populace incapable of committing any crimes. At the same time the US is also switching over from cash to electronic payment cards. Needless to say once the news is leaked to the population, rioting, looting commence and people start going bat-shit crazy as a last ditch effort to enjoy themselves before they become mindless drones that tow the line and have no free will of their own. The criminals are trying to get the fuck out of dodge before this signal goes live. Canada has locked down its’ borders, along with Mexico and armed guards will shoot anyone trying to enter the country without valid identification or attempting to sneak in to escape the dreaded “signal”.

Graham Bricke is walking into a slumlord’s wet dream of a building while carrying a can of diesel. As he climbs the stairs to get to where he’s going, he’s offered sex in exchange for that magic hit of H from all sorts of whores promising to fuck you harder than you’ve ever been fucked in your life. We also discover Graham is a recovering addict and he’d love to get high right now but first he needs to take care of a loose end. This loose end is a man tied up in a bathtub while Graham explains why he walked so many blocks to score a can of diesel. Trust me it’s one of those scenes that set the stage for what’s to come in the book perfectly.

Graham then heads over to the local bar where he has to meet a “gardener” to help him pull off a job. While waiting, poor Graham meets one of the hottest femme fatales straight out of film noir’s rich history. He never gets her name before he ends up banging the living fucking hell out of her in the ladies’ bathroom while strangling her at the same time. Yeah. Poor, poor Graham. Only after he finishes does this babe tell him that he just helped her check something off of her “to do list’ What? “Fuck a loser.” Damaged goods baby but goddamn she’s so fuckable and just like a Black Widow she’ll eat you after fucking your brains out.
These two pages above give you a good idea of how much this book will deliver the goods while not falling into the trappings of censorship or pussyfooting around any scene. Once again Radical gets extremely high praise for leaving this scene in the book. Btw, there’s a lot more to this scene than what I’m showing here. If you want to see it go buy the goddamned book already. Enough of me running off on a tangent.

After Graham’s finished he meets the gardener that he advertised for but there’s just one small problem. The femme fatale he just fucked is his gardener’s fiancée. Talk about setting yourself up for disaster right there. The story continues to build to a strong setting for the other 2 books still yet to come and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out. If you find this book, grab it and buy it. You’ll be glad that you did.

This book has the possibility to be as huge as Sin City or 100 Bullets. The movie is already in production with Sam Worthington attached to play Graham Bricke and as a producer, the possibilities are endless.

Poland’s PATHS OF HATE is Animation For the Rest of Us

A big thanks to Twitch Film who’ve been keeping us up to date on the coming and goings of the upcoming short animated film PATHS OF HATE from Poland. And it’s looking more and more badass which each new report. It’s being brought to us by one of the coolest animation studios on the earth Platage Image. P.I. is is an award winning post-production studio in Poland specializing in making commercials, cutting-edge animation and quality special effects for films.

Paths of Hate Trailer

PATHS OF HATE long trailer from Platige Image on Vimeo.

Film synopsis (roughly translated from Polish):

The struggle. Its scale is irrelevant or the ideology that stands behind it, no matter whether it is two people or a million. Followed by only a scar – the bloody traces the path of hate … “POH” is a short tale of beasts, which lie dormant deep in the human soul and push them into the abyss of blind hatred, rage and anger. Chasm that leads to the inevitable destruction and annihilation.

Production on the film has lasted over 2 years. There are two models of fighter pilots and 2 pilots facing off against each other. The constructed environment is full of giant clouds and over 10 square kilometers of three-dimensional Alps. In each of the planes lies several thousands of rivets and screws which were manually deployed.

PATHS OF HATE is directed by Damian Nenow, a graduate of the National Academy of Film, Television and Theatre in Lodz. His first film “THE AIM ‘(2005) got a special prize at the festival” ReAnimacja “in Lodz, and first prize at the festival “Under 21 years” in Tarnow. His second film “The Great Escape” made an appearance at many international film festivals. He is currently working in the studio Platige Image, where he is directing, animating, editing and involved in all things related to 3D graphics.

The struggle. Its scale is irrelevant or the ideology that stands behind it, no matter whether it is two people or a million. Are followed by only a scar – the bloody

traces the path of hate … “POH” is a short tale of beasts, which lie dormant deep in the human soul and push them into the abyss of blind hatred, rage and

anger. Chasm that leads to the inevitable destruction and annihilation.

Rafael Grampa’s Mesmo Delivery is Bloody, Brutal and a Fun Ride

Review by Richard Serrao

*Editor’s Note* This piece was originally published in our now defunct crime mag Blunt Force Beating and has now been given a new home.

Mesmo Delivery
Writer and Artist: Rafael Grampa
Price tag: 9.99 US
Approx :70 pages

I must admit I had only seen Rafael Grampa’s work on the covers to the last mini-series starring Werewolf By Night for Marvel Max, so I really didn’t know what to expect from this creator. Thank heavens my store had ordered an extra copy of this GN.

Of course as soon as I saw it sitting on the back shelf behind the cash I just had to have a peek at what was inside the pages………!!!?! WTF!!!!!!!! Honestly that was my exact reaction to the insides of what I was holding in my sweaty little palms at that moment in time. This guy’s work looked like a hybrid mix of Geoff Darrow, Paul Pope, Frank Quietly and Basil Wolverton. Very surreal looking artwork and definitely not everyone’s cup of tea BUT if you dig any of the creators I mentioned before you’ll definitely dig this bit of insanity. The colours are very European and suit this GN perfectly.

The book begins with a quick intro of the two main characters as they are driving a big rig. They are hauling an unknown cargo to its destination. One of the two characters is a beaten up wannabe Elvis double (definitely not an impersonator though) whose name is Sangrecco. He’s rambling on comparing himself to the real Elvis via their respective tastes for guns, martial arts and superheroes. At no point early on does it even become apparent which direction the story will take but I was starting to become incredibly curious.

As they pull up to a gas station the other main character Rufo gets out to stretch his legs, pump some gas and get something to drink at the rest stop. Meanwhile our Elvis wannabe crashes out for a little snooze while Rufo is gone. As Rufo enters into the bar we are introduced to some of the local denizens of the place. One of which is talking about a fight he had. We have all seen this kind of blowhard before as well as the other hangers on. It then becomes very clear that this blowhard see’s Rufo (who just happens to be a massive looking bone crusher) as a threat and decides to have some fun with him. The fact that Rufo is also drinking a glass of milk doesn’t help matters. Pretty soon things get ugly and Rufo is challenged to a fist fight out back for some cash.

I gotta say at this point Grampa throws us a major curve ball with what happens next.

The blowhard (Forceps) shows us why he’s won so many fights. Everything soon goes to hell as one of the girls cheering on Forceps gets killed. Things go from bad to worse as one by one the patrons of the truck stop get sliced and diced as the Devil looks on from Hell gleefully awaiting more souls.

People get beheaded, stabbed in the eyes and we’re treated to some very insane POV action. This is in Peter Jackson territory. It gets bloody, brutal and I still couldn’t stop laughing over the way how the first girl got killed.

This book was a lot better than I would have thought and it was just a fun, fun ride. Unfortunately the book ends way too soon as far as I’m concerned.

I really can’t wait to see what Grampa does next.

If you’re in the mood for a very violent, fun, off the beaten path kinds story then definitely check this book out.

Buy Mesmo Delivery

A Few Words with Comics Veteran, Jimmy Palmiotti

*Editor’s Note* This piece was originally published in our now defunct crime mag Blunt Force Beating and has now been given a new home.

Writer, artist, inker, editor . . . Jimmy Palmiotti has done a little bit of everything in the comics world. From working on recognizable Big Two properties like The Punisher, Ghost Rider, Jonah Hex and Power Girl, to creator-owned projects like Painkiller Jane and The Last Resort, Palmiotti has earned all the praise that has come his way as a veteran on the front lines of comics and comics-based properties.

When it comes to crime, the series he did for Image with Garth Ennis and Mihailo Vukelic called Back to Brooklyn is as gritty and brutal as they come. It’s the story of a crime family being torn apart by the actions of one of their own, and how it plays out is not for the squeamish. With a new graphic novel about to be released, a splatter-fest called Random Acts of Violence, Palmiotti was gracious enough to answer a few questions about the books and the processes involved in getting them into the eager hands of rabid fandom.

You have a new graphic novel, written with Justin Gray and art by Giancarlo Caracuzzo, called Random Acts of Violence, coming out soon. When is it supposed to be released, and what can you tell us about it?

Random Acts of Violence has a street date of April 28th and is about a couple of comic creators that go and self publish their first book which is called Slaughterman…an ultimate horror character and then when the book hits big, they go on tour of the country and deal with the fallout of their creation. It’s a mix of con experiences and really horrific murders. I dare say, it’s a blast.

From what I’ve read, Random Acts seems as much a horror book as a crime book. These two genres seem to overlap fairly frequently — what elements do you think comprise a “horror” story versus a particularly brutal “crime” story? I mean, what’s the difference between a mobster whacking some guy with a meat cleaver that makes it “crime” fiction, but if some lurch in a hockey mask does it it’s a “horror” story?

Usually in a crime story the killer has a reason he is doing the act…for vengeance, money or romance…in a horror story, we are dealing with a twisted brain that is fascinated with death and destruction and at times has no other motive other than curiosity or a unquenchable need. They overlap in the actual act of killing, in the details, but the motives are far away from each other.

Did you pitch this book as a standalone graphic novel right out of the gate, or were you shooting for a monthly book and they offered a standalone GN? What makes you decide to pitch a monthly vs. a standalone, or vice versa?

We first were going to do 3 separate issues, then the more we thought about it we did the math and the book would have cost 12 bucks total for only 66 pages of actual story. We figured a graphic novel was the way to go for a low price tag of $6.99 and like Jonah Hex, we were giving the reader a full story, not a continued adventure. Also, with the square binding, the book can now have a longer shelf life…but it is not without the risks. The orders need to come in higher…so if you are reading this, you would make my day and tell your retailer to pre order it…or give it a shot on Amazon soon. For us to do this book…we already know we are out of pocket more than half of the book…but we feel word of mouth might help us. We hope.

You have another collection available of what was originally a monthly book for Image called Back to Brooklyn. That was a straight up, guns-and-blood crime story that you wrote with Garth Ennis, with artwork by Mihailo Vukelic. How did that story come to be?

I had an idea for a story based on smaller stories and things that happened in Brooklyn growing up and took them and sculpted a story I pitched to Garth over a beer and he loved it. He agreed to take it and run with it and that’s how it came to be. I have many crime stories to tell…but the market is limited. I think I have another two “Brooklyn” based stories I would like to tell…but one is going to be a novel and the other a collection of short stories in 2012.

With Back to Brooklyn, the work that Ed Brubaker has done with Criminal and Incognito, Vertigo and Dark Horse coming out with “crime” lines, and stuff like Rick Remender’s Last Days of American Crime, there seems to be a real resurgence of crime stories. Why do you think that is, and what makes you come back to it?

Personally, the audience of superheroes needs something else in their diet. This is a good thing, but again, only a limited number of people are into to the genre…so guys like Ed have an easier time. I love what he does and buy every single thing he writes that’s not superhero. I come back to the genre because I love the idea of raw emotion and driven characters that will do anything to get what they want. It’s a surreal thing for me to write because I am nothing like these people…I have a wall and empathy and all the things that make me a good person. Writing these monsters is a nice release.

Besides Back to Brooklyn, you also collaborated with Garth Ennis on the classic prostitute-cum-superhero book, The Pro. In addition, you’ve collaborated with Justin Gray on Jonah Hex as well as the new story, Random Acts of Violence. What do you like about collaborating with other writers, and can you give a quick insight into how those collaborations play out when it comes to actually putting words on paper and delivering them?

With Garth, you let Garth do what he does best and run with the idea. He isn’t what I call a real collaborator in that sense…which is perfect, because he is a master of his craft and one of the coolest guys in the field. With Back to Brooklyn…we went over the idea…who the characters were and where they were going to go along the way. For me, there were little surprises along the way, but he stuck to what we laid out and I thought it was brilliant. If anyone here didn’t read this book and you like the genre…I think its one of the top 5 crime graphic novels out there now. As far as working with Justin, it’s like working with a best friend that can do no wrong. He is open to ideas, deals with my madness and understands that we sometimes move to a different beat and it makes the books that more interesting. We see the world differently and the same and it helps our work. Anyone that has been following our books understands that we can switch gears with genres and tone and characters in a drop of the hat and together we are well-rounded writers. We talk a few times a day and flush out ideas daily as well. The amount of work we are sitting on, given the chance, would blow people away if we found a sponsor. Yeah…if you have a few million and want to invest it …call me…I will give you better odds than any stock. Lol…

You’ve written for comics, movies, etc. Is there a Jimmy Palmiotti novel anywhere in your future?

Yes. A book of short stories I am working on now…and a novel that I will do once something I am working on pays enough to give me the time to flush it out. Hey, ambitions are good things…lol.

Are there any particular types of stories or genres you haven’t done that you hope to do before they stuff you in a padded room and throw away the key?

Romance…softcore and hardcore. I think I would love to take a group of characters and have a blast with relationship stuff…I know it sounds boring to some…but some of the best written works do this well. I would love a monthly “weird love” title to go crazy on. I know if I did it independently, I wouldn’t sell an issue…but knowing me…I will try. Lol.

Besides your art (and the lovely and talented Amanda Connor, of course), what gets you out of bed in the morning?

My cat Devo is hungry…and usually, I got to pee. Other than that, the idea that today might be the day that something happens…I know, its very optimistic, but I believe you put it out there and it finds you eventually. I also like to update my fan page on Facebook…hahahah. That sounds so high school.

Any crime stuff you’ve read or seen in the movies or on DVD lately that you thought was particularly cool?

Just Ed’s stuff , Darwyn Cooke’s Parker graphic novel and I saw The Counterfeiters and thought it was brilliant. Rent it…it kicks some major ass.

Buy Back To Brooklyn
Pre-Order Random Acts of Violence (originally titled Splatterman)
Visit “Listen to Jimmy” – Jimmy Palmiotti’s Official Blog
And join Jimmy’s Facebook Fanpage