Every week (ish) New Pulp Heroes sits down with an artist or author creating new heroic fiction works in order to pull back the curtain and give you, our faithful readers, a look into the mind of new pulp fiction’s best and brightest creators.
Installment 17 of 5 Questions With… is ready for your reading pleasure! Besides, it’s Monday, what else have you to do other than read up on great pulp creators?
This week, NewPulpHeroes sat down with Eric Fein, who began his professional career as an editor and writer at Marvel Comics. Among the many series he edited there were The Spectacular Spider-Man, The Web of Spider-Man, and Venom: Carnage Unleashed. During his time at Marvel, he wrote more than a dozen comic book stories that were published in a variety of titles including The Savage Sword of Conan, Marvel Comics Presents, and The Amazing Spider-Man.
Now, a freelance writer, his pulp stories can be found in the pages of several anthologies published by Moonstone Books including: The Avenger: The Justice Inc. Files, The Green Hornet Casefiles, Day of the Destroyers, and The Green Ghost: Declassified.
Question One: Thinking of the first pulp story that grabbed you, what was it and what about it hooked you?
EF: As a kid, I loved all sorts of pulp and pulp influenced characters and stories, as well as comic books. I was into the James Bond movies and novels, Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories, and Batman. Plus, a ton more characters that I don’t have the room here to list.
But the pulp story that really hooked me and captured my imagination was the very first Shadow novel, The Living Shadow. I read it when I was about fifteen-years-old. I already knew of The Shadow thanks to his 1970s comic book series that was published by DC Comics.
The Shadow comics made me want to read the original pulp novels. I found a stack of them in a used bookshop. These were the Pyramid/Jove reprint editions that featured those spectacular Jim Steranko covers.
I remember reading The Living Shadow and being enthralled by the characters and the time period. The novel was chock full of mystery, danger, and excitement.
I loved the way The Shadow radiated menace and how he terrified criminals with his laugh that seemed to come at them from every direction.
The other thing that made a lasting impression on me was the novel’s opening scene. In it, Harry Vincent, despondent over the emptiness of his life, is about to kill himself by jumping off of a bridge. However, he’s stopped by the sudden appearance of The Shadow.
After a brief conversation where Vincent explains his reasons for attempting suicide, The Shadow makes him an offer. Vincent can put his life in the hands of The Shadow and become one of his agents in The Shadow’s war on crime. Or, The Shadow can take him back to the bridge and Vincent can end his life. Of course, Vincent chooses to become an agent of The Shadow. That was pretty intense stuff to read as a teenager.
Question Two: When did you first hear about the resurgence of pulp storytelling and why did you feel compelled to contribute to it?
EF: Somewhere around 2007 or 2008 I became aware of Moonstone Books. I had a friend who had written for Joe Gentile, who runs Moonstone, and he was kind enough to put me in contact with Joe. We traded some emails and Joe ended up offering me the opportunity to write a Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar story for an anthology he was putting together: Sex, Lies, and Private Eyes. Since I love private eye stories, especially those set in the 30s, 40, and 50s, I jumped at the chance to write one.
It was a lot of fun to do. Joe liked it and invited me to contribute to other Moonstone projects including The Green Hornet Casefiles and The Avenger: The Justice Inc. Files.
A few years later, Joe asked me if I was interested in working with Win Scott Eckert to revitalize The Green Ghost. I jumped at the chance to work with Win and to reintroduce The Green Ghost to modern readers. I loved working on that project. We ended up generating enough stories for a book dedicated solely to the character.
Working on the resulting anthology, The Green Ghost: Declassified,was a wonderful experience. I wrote three prose stories and two ten-page comic book stories for the project. The comic book stories were illustrated by David Niehaus.
I also co-wrote another Green Ghost prose story, for the book, with Win. That was a lot of fun, too.
One of the joys of the Green Ghost project, besides working with Win, David, and Joe, was that it gave me the opportunity to create my own pulp hero, The Black Shrike, and feature him in a story with The Green Ghost.
As for why I felt compelled to create new pulp tales, I love to write and more specifically, I love to write about pulp heroes. So when I was presented the opportunity to do so, I took it.
For me, writing pulp stories is not work but a labor of love. I get to travel through time and space and meet fascinating characters by just sitting in front of my computer and letting my imagination run wild.
Question Three: Recommend three new pulp properties you really dig and why you think other people would enjoy them also.
EF: I really enjoy the Kolchak: The Night Stalker novels and short story anthologies that Moonstone Books publish. I love the character of Carl Kolchak and his dogged determination to find the truth of whatever mystery he is investigating, even if doing so puts him in danger.
I think Will Murray’s Doc Savage/Shadow crossover novels (Doc Savage: The Sinister Shadow and Doc Savage: Empire of Doom) are great fun. They’re published by Altus Press. Again, I’m a big fan of The Shadow. Anytime he gets featured in a new prose adventure it’s a happy occasion for me. If you like your pulp heroes in the classic tradition, these books are for you.
For fans of private eyes who crack wise, there’s the Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar anthology published by Moonstone Books and edited by Tommy Hancock. It’s a great collection and I’m not just saying that because I have a story in it. Tommy loves the character, knows him inside and out, and put together a stellar team of writers.
Here’s a bonus recommendation: the graphic novels of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Incognito in particular plays with elements of pulp heroes and comic book superheroes and delivers a fresh take on the genre. Their other books are Criminal, Kill or Be Killed, and The Fade Out. All of them are fun reads.
Question Four: Here’s the cheesy ask: If you could spend 24 hours with any old or new pulp character, who would it be and what would you do?
EF: It would have to be The Shadow. I’m sure it would be quite nerve wracking being around him. I’m pretty sure there wouldn’t be a whole lot of chitchat but it would be cool to see the nuts and bolts of his operation: how he moves around the city so quickly without being seen, how he manages his team of agents, and where he gets his stylish wide-brimmed fedoras.
Question Five: Which of your upcoming projects excites you the most and why should people get excited about it with you?
EF: I’m working on several projects at the moment. Some of them are unannounced so I can’t say too much about them. However, one of these top-secret projects is a novel featuring a popular licensed character. It should see print in 2021. I’m also contributing stories to a couple of anthology projects that are also under wraps for the moment.
I think as a writer your enthusiasm for what you write comes through in your finished stories. I’m very excited about all of the projects that I am working on. I hope readers sense that passion in my work and get as much enjoyment out of reading my stories as I had writing them.
One project that I can talk about, and is particularly exciting for me, is that I am developing a series of novels featuring my pulp hero, The Black Shrike. The Black Shrike is a hero in the tradition of classic pulp characters such as The Shadow, The Avenger, and The Black Bat, but with a dash of James Bond added into the mix.
I think readers who enjoy pulp stories that balance action and adventure with vivid characters will find a lot to like in adventures of The Black Shrike.
If all goes as planned, The Black Shrike novels will begin to see print in late 2021.
Thanks for the opportunity to be interviewed and share my love of pulp with your readers.
NewPulpHeroes.com would like to thank Eric for taking the time from his busy schedule to take us on this trip to his sector of the Pulp-verse. Buy Eric’s books here!