Happy Read Comics in Public Day!

Pandora0_CoverToday is the sixth International Read Comics in Public Day. Started in 2010 by Brian Heater and Sarah Morean, it’s an annual appreciation of comic books and graphic novels, demonstrated by folks not afraid to celebrate their reading choices by taking them out in public. For some reason, though, Heater and Morean seem to have abandoned their literacy campaign—the RCiP Facebook page hasn’t been updated since 2012—but it’s such a nifty idea that Pan’s publisher, StarWarp Concepts, thought it was high time this event was revived…especially since they have a couple of Pandora Zwieback comics you could be reading today!

The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0: A free, downloadable comic that serves as an introduction to the adventures of Pandora Zwieback and her monster-hunting mentor, Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin, with an 8-page story written by me and illustrated by Eliseu Gouveia, and a preview of Pan’s first novel, Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1. Pan is a 16-year-old Goth girl who’s spent the last decade being treated for mental health problems because she can see monsters. It’s only after she meets Annie that Pan discovers she’s never been ill—her so-called “monstervision” is actually a supernatural gift that allows her to see into Gothopolis, the not-so-mythical shadow world that exists right alongside the human world.

SWC_PanAnnual01The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1: A spinoff from the novel series, this 56-page, full-color comic special—with cover art by award-winning artist Henar Torinos (Mala Estrella)—finds the teenaged Goth adventuress battling vampires and a jealous, man-stealing siren. It features three original stories of what I’ve termed the “Paniverse”—tales that take place within the fictional universe of The Saga of Pandora Zwieback.

  • “Song of the Siren,” written by me and illustrated by Eliseu Gouveia (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0) involves Pan and her boyfriend, Javi, attending one of his family’s picnics in Central Park, and running into an ex-girlfriend of Javi’s. An awkward situation, to be sure, made even worse by the realization that with her monstervision, Pan can see the girl is really a siren: a creature from Greek mythology that can hypnotize men with its voice!
  • “After Hours” is by writer Sholly Fisch (Scooby-Doo Team-Up) and comic-art legend Ernie Colon (Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld). A demon walks into a bar—and if you think that’s the setup for a joke, then this light-hearted character piece might just ale you by surprise.
  • “Shopping Maul” is a short story written by me, with title-page art by Elizabeth Watasin (writer/artist of Charm School). Pan, Javi, and their friends stop by a Queens mall to do a bit of window-shopping—only to find themselves caught in the middle of a fight between Gothic Lolita vampires and Pan’s monster-hunting mentor, Annie!

The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual is available in print and digital formats. Pandora Zwieback #0 is a digital exclusive. Visit their respective product pages for ordering information, as well as sample pages. And then get out there and start reading them in public

Brooklyn Book Festival 2015: Where to Find Us

The 10th Anniversary Brooklyn Book Festival is less than a month away, and StarWarp Concepts will be there! We’ve just received our location notice for this hugely popular literary celebration, and booth 310 will be our home for the day; as always, just look for the distinctive Pandora Zwieback banner. And scheduled to join me this year is bestselling fantasy author Richard C. White, who’s the author of two SWC titles: the pirate-fantasy digital comic The Chronicles of the Sea Dragon Special; and Troubleshooters, Incorporated: Night Stalkings, a general readers’ graphic novel about a group of supernatural-superheroes-for-hire taking on their first case.

Bklyn2015-Map

The Brooklyn Book Festival takes place on September 20, 2015, and is located at Brooklyn Borough Hall and Plaza, 209 Joralemon Street. For more information, including travel directions and lists of the exhibitors and authors who’ll be appearing, head over to the festival website.

Pandora Zwieback’s Long-Lost Video Cousin

Long before a certain Goth adventuress ever made her literary debut in my young adult novel Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1, there was teenager Amanda Waters, the lead character in The Mysterious Mr. Peabody, a shot-on-video student film that I wrote and directed during my last year of college, back in 1984. Running about fifteen minutes, it was about a girl who suspects that her science teacher has a strange secret and, doing her best Nancy Drew imitation, goes forth to find out what it is. Spoiler: He’s an alien!

Hmmm. A smart, inquisitive teenaged girl who finds herself drawn into the beginning of a weird adventure—now where might I have seen that most recently…in book form? 😉 So, yeah, you could say that Pan and Amanda are distant cousins, or that Amanda was the template from which I constructed Pan—after all, between Mr. Peabody and Blood Feud I didn’t do a whole lot of writing (as in, any) involving young adult characters.

Mr. Peabody (the name borrowed from my high school science teacher, not the time-traveling cartoon dog) was my final student project for a television production class at New York University. The class was taught by George Heinemann, a former NBC executive who’d developed children’s educational programs in the fifties and sixties, and whose work (weirdly coincidental) won multiple Peabody Awards for television excellence. Heinemann taught us students the steps required in creating a show by having us work in NYU’s video-production studios—there we learned how to use the massive studio cameras (the kind that roll across the floor); how to use the control room’s sound and video boards; and how to direct. Then he turned us loose to create our own projects, so that we’d have hands-on experience with all aspects of production­—for example, on Jane’s project I might be one of the camera operators, but for Tom’s I’d be working the sound board, and for Jerry’s I’d be handling the video board.

Sony_camcorderFor Mr. Peabody, I wrote the script, drew the storyboards, and directed the in-studio segments from the control room—but then I had to go and complicate things by wanting to shoot at other locations: an office for a scene involving computers, and a couple scenes in which characters walked down city streets. And that involved lugging around video-recording equipment like the Sony setup you see here (courtesy of Wikipedia); that’s right, it had a separate tape deck—and worse, the tapes were Betamax, the small, boxy precursor to VHS that became obsolete as soon as VHS was accepted as the standard format for videotapes. Schlepping around a camera, a tape deck, and a tripod was a major pain in the butt—especially because my weekend shoots meant no one from the class was available to help out—but, y’know, that’s how we did things back in the days of the dinosaurs. (You kids, with your cell-phone cameras and tiny recorders and the like—you’ve got it easy!) But what did I care—I was too wired on coffee and lack of sleep to be slowed down by things like hauling equipment. Nothing was gonna stop me!

It was shot over the course of a month, if I remember correctly, since I had to work around the unpaid cast’s schedule, and then sit with my video editor to put the whole thing together. But when the final product was shown to the cast and “crew,” I was overjoyed. Having watched it again recently—I had the “master” Beta edit transferred to a DVD—I can laugh and cringe at what it looks like, thirty-one years later, but I’m still happy with what I accomplished.

Other than its historical value—in terms of its tiny influence on the creation of Pan Zwieback, fourteen years later—the short features a pair of actors Heinemann introduced me to, who went on to successful careers:

deakins_optLucy Deakins, who played Amanda, is best remembered for her role in the 1986 cult film The Boy Who Could Fly, but she also appeared—according to her Internet Movie DataBase page—in the comedy The Great Outdoors (starring John Candy and Dan Aykroyd), the movies Cheetah and There Goes My Baby, an ABC Afterschool Special in which she sued a boy for standing her up on a date, and a couple of episodes of Law & Order. She left the acting profession in 2002 and became an attorney (well, that involves a bit of acting, too, doesn’t it?). Lucy also made a terrific Amanda Waters, too.

 

harneyMichael J. Harney (seen here in a recent picture) played Amanda’s father. You recognize him, don’t you? He’s one of those famous “I know you, you’re that guy whose name I can’t remember” character actors you’ve seen in dozens of movies and television episodes. Michael’s sort of made a career of playing law-enforcement types over the decades, mostly as detectives in shows like Law & Order, NYPD Blue, and Without a Trace; he also played Xander’s father in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Two of his most recent high-profile appearances have been as a supporting character on the first season of HBO’s megapopular series True Detective (starring Matthew McConaghey and Woody Harrelson); and in a recurring role on Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black.

Special note for literary historians: This short film about a student and her alien school teacher predated author Bruce Coville’s bestselling middle-grade series My Teacher Is an Alien by five years. (Oddly enough, the series was co-created and packaged by Byron Preiss, the very same publisher for whom I worked as a fiction editor ten years after The Mysterious Mr. Peabody was shot. Talk about coincides!)

Oh, and by the way, since I was there first, I believe you owe me some royalties, Bruce… 😉

Author Steven A. Roman Interview at Write A Revolution

Blood-Reign-FinalCvrThe online promotional tour for StarWarp Concepts and its latest young adult, dark-urban-fantasy novel, Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2, continues today at the site Write A Revolution, where WaR editor-in-chief Steve Williams interviews Steven A. Roman (that’s me), SWC’s head honcho and the author of The Saga of Pandora Zwieback.

In addition to discussing the Pandora Zwieback series and the horror anthology comic Lorelei Presents: House Macabre, the interview covers such topics as the high and lows of publishing, promoting, and marketing SWC’s titles; the grindhouse-horror qualities of House Macabre; what it takes to get inside the mind of a sixteen-year-old Goth chick; the process of art-directing cover designs, and more! Head over to Write A Revolution right now and give it a read!

And in case you hadn’t heard the news, over at my Goodreads author page I’ve activated the “Ask the Author” function. So if you’re a Goodreads member and you’ve got a question about The Saga of Pandora Zwieback or any of the other projects I’ve written over the years, head over there now and ask away!

Christmas Comes Early at DriveThru Comics

Xmas-July

Now at e-distributor DriveThru Comics, it’s their annual Christmas in July sale, with 25% discounts on select titles from a wide range of independent publishers large and small—and that includes StarWarp Concepts! So if you’re looking for digital editions of our comics, graphic novels, and the Pandora Zwieback novels Blood Feud and Blood Reign, then DriveThru Comics is the place to be. There you’ll find The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1, Lorelei: Sects and the City, Lorelei Presents: House Macabre, Troubleshooters, Incorporated: Night Stalkings, and The Chronicles of the Sea Dragon Special—all at reduced prices!

Christmas in July ends next Friday, July 31, so head over to the SWC store at DriveThru Comics right now and get busy shopping!

Happy Birthday, Bob Larkin!

Today, my friend Bob Larkin—the living art legend whose paintings grace the covers of my Saga of Pandora Zwieback novels Blood Feud and Blood Reign—turns 66, and is still producing incredible images, even as younger generations of horror and comic fans continue to discover his large body of work. Take a look!

LarkinArt04LarkinArt02These days, Bob is busily working for Topps, painting trading cards for their upcoming Mars Attacks: Occupation set, which is a sequel to the classic card series published in the 1960s. All of us here at ’Warp Central are eagerly awaiting the set’s release—and to see what other projects Bob has in development!

To see more of Bob’s stunning work, pay a visit to his art blog, Bob Larkin: The Illustrated Man.

To enjoy some of his amazing pencil artwork in printed form, order a copy of The Bob Larkin Sketchbook from the StarWarp Concepts webstore.

Happy birthday, Bob!

Talking Writing and Self-Publishing

One of the complications of being an indie-press publisher and author—sometimes the most frustrating complication of them all—is finding ways to promote your latest release.

You can mail out review copies, send out press releases, make requests for interviews, or even fill out preexisting questions available from a website dedicated to writing (otherwise known as a “self-interview”), but there’s no guarantee you’re going to get media coverage. Still, you do what you can to get attention.

When you’re successful, you wind up with something like my interview with the newspaper The Queens Gazette, which appeared in the print edition and was featured on the paper’s website. Or “Pandora Zwieback and the Bloggy Thing,” a guest post that I was invited to write for the site Writing Belle. Or the cover feature article/interview in IndyFest Magazine #85 (still available for free download). Or my upcoming interview at the site Write a Revolution (I’ll let you know when that gets posted). When you’re unsuccessful, however, you can wind up with completed self-interviews that are passed over by the sites you submitted answers to.

Guess which type of interview this is? 😉 Hey, but why let a completed interview go to waste, right?

Here, you’ll get a little background on my literary history: my first break as an author; my decision to self-publish The Saga of Pandora Zwieback; my thoughts on current publishing trends; and a few other topics. Give it a read—and then (if you haven’t already) purchase a copy of Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2. It’ll make all the complications experienced by a small-press publisher worth the effort!

SRoman_PhotoQ: Welcome, Steven. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

I’m multi-published. In addition to the novels and graphic novels I currently write for my company, StarWarp Concepts (including the Saga of Pandora Zwieback young adult books Blood Feud and Blood Reign), I’m the author of the novels X-Men: The Chaos Engine Trilogy (BP Books/Simon & Schuster) and Final Destination: Dead Man’s Hand (Black Library), the graphic novels Lorelei: Sects and the City, Sunn, and Stan Lee’s Alexa, and a number of short stories and comic book projects for various publishers.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go—mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published, and why or how did you choose this route?

Well, I’d written some comic books and short stories early in my writing career, but as a novelist I got my start in 1997 with a mainstream title: the original, licensed novel Spider-Man Super Thriller: Warrior’s Revenge, based on the Marvel Comics character. It was part of a Marvel book series co-published by Byron Preiss Multimedia Company (BPMC) and Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Books imprint. It actually turned out to be a ghostwriting job—the original author’s manuscript had been rejected and I was hired to rewrite the book from scratch, but the covers with his name had already been printed, so I never got cover credit!

blood_feud_lg_cover_2013In 2010, I decided to go the self-publishing route by reviving StarWarp Concepts—a publishing company I’d launched in 1993 for my comic book projects—as a book-publishing house. And in 2011, I released my first young adult dark-fantasy novel, Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1. The reason I decided to self-publish it was because I’d done the agent-and-editor submission dances, sending a proposal around in hopes of a book deal and/or an author representative, only to have it rejected for some head-scratching reasons. Most of them fell under two categories: “It’s just not right for us,” which is sort of agent-speak for “I just didn’t care for it on a personal level”; and “Could it be more like…?,” which means they’d like you to knock off something successful—at the time I sent the Pandora proposal around, everyone was trying to clone Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight. (Today, it’s things like E. L. James’s 50 Shades of Grey and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars.)

So if I’d been willing to rip off Twilight, I might have been signed by any number of agents, but I wasn’t interested in that approach. Self-publishing removed the unpleasantness of dealing with ridiculous, non-constructive feedback.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

I think I wrote the Spider-Man novel in a couple of months—with the original manuscript rejected, I had to make up for the book’s lost production time. It was a scary time for me—it was my first novel, someone else’s name was going to be on the cover, and I had to jump right in and start writing. Thankfully, Marvel’s licensing department was happy with the results, and that’s what led to me soon after getting the assignment to write three X-Men novels that sold exceptionally well.

With Blood Feud, it took about a year or so to get it into a shape I was happy with. And then I handed it over to Howard Zimmerman, a friend and former editorial boss of mine, for editing. Once he was done constructively ripping it apart—I wound up rewriting half the book and adding new material, based on his spot-on edits—Blood Feud was finally ready for publication. And based on the feedback and positive reviews I’ve received, it was worth all the effort!

spidey-warriorQ: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

How’d I feel? Like a kid with an intense sugar buzz! I mean, it would’ve been nice to actually have my name on the Spider-Man book, but when I held a copy of the printed novel for the first time, I couldn’t help but be excited by it. And anyway, I finally got my name on the cover when I wrote the X-Men: Chaos Engine Trilogy novels a few years after that, and that was even more exciting!

As for how I celebrated when Warrior’s Revenge came out…I think I treated myself to White Castle hamburgers, or something. Yeah, I know, not the most exciting way to celebrate, but I was happy enough.

Q: What was the first thing you did as far as promotion when you were published for the first time?

With the Spider-Man novel… Unfortunately, neither BPMC nor Simon & Schuster did any promotion for the series as a whole; the books were just sort of put out there with no fanfare. So if a Marvel fan happened to come across Warrior’s Revenge in a bookstore—great! Otherwise, no one really knew it was available. The same thing happened a few years later, when the X-Men novels I wrote were published—but those sold huge numbers in spite of the lack of publicity.

pan_comic_0With the Saga of Pandora Zwieback and my other StarWarp Concepts projects, since I’m sort of the master of my own fate—being the publisher as well as the writer—I’m much more proactive in how my work is promoted. I send out press releases and review copies, print up catalogs and brochures, make appearances at horror and comic book conventions and book festivals, heavily blog at the StarWarp Concepts and Pandora Zwieback websites, and set up interviews—like this one! To promote the debut of Blood Feud, the first Pandora Zwieback novel, I published a free full-color comic book, The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0, that introduces Pan to potential readers, and handed out a couple thousand copies at conventions—and then I made it a free digital comic that can still be downloaded from the StarWarp Concepts site.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

I like to think my writing and storytelling continue to improve with each project. Looking back at the Spider-Man novel, I can see the beginnings of my character-driven action stories, but it’s rough in comparison to, say, Blood Reign, the current Pandora Zwieback novel. Pan is probably the most fully realized character I’ve written, but there’s so much more to her story I’m looking forward to exploring.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

It’s sort of a mixed reaction. On the one hand, the time has never been better to be an author, with the advancements constantly being made in self-publishing tools. On the other, as an editor, copyeditor, and proofreader with over twenty years’ experience, I’m always surprised by the number of self-published authors who haven’t taken the time to really learn their craft—story structure, plotting, consistent story continuity, even correct spelling and punctuation. In those cases, it’s reflective of an attitude I used to run into at conventions, when I’d explain to visitors to my table that I was a writer, not an artist: “Well, anybody can write a novel.” Actually…no, not everybody can. Not without working at it.

That said, there are a lot of talented authors out there who know their business, and those are the ones whose works are worth tracking down. As for the rest…well, even in the worst-written novel you can often see the story the author intended to tell—they just need to keep honing their craft in order to tell it better and clearer.

Blood-Reign-FinalCvrQ: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

Discovering that there’s actually an audience out there for the kinds of things I write! When I hear from someone who’s read my Pandora Zwieback work and they tell me how much she reflects their own thoughts and feelings, and is even someone they’d love to hang out with, then I know I’m doing a good job as a writer. And that’s a pretty nice reward!

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

As lame and clichéd as it sounds, keep at it! You can only get better by working your craft, by learning the tools of the trade—by which I mean the publishing “bibles,” Webster’s Dictionary and the Chicago Manual of Style—and by learning to take constructive criticism. I often tell folks that Blood Feud, the first Pan novel, wouldn’t be the critically acclaimed book it is today if I hadn’t listened to my editor when he told me what needed fixing. Do all that, and one of these days you might find your name on the cover of a book, too!

My latest work, Blood Reign, The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2, is currently available for order from online and brick-and-mortar bookstores and the StarWarp Concepts webstore. Visit the Blood Reign product page at SWC for more information, as well as a sample chapter.

Subscription Service Shakeup Doesn’t Affect Pan’s Adventures

blood_feudOn June 30, e-book subscription service Scribd announced that they were making dramatic cuts to the number of romance titles they offer, due to the large number of genre fans who’ve “rented” so many books that Scribd is losing money. Distributor Smashwords estimates it may adversely affect 80–90 percent of the romance and erotica titles they handle.

But do you know what this shakeup doesn’t affect? The StarWarp Concepts dark-fantasy novels Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1 and Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2, which remain part of Scribd’s catalog!

Written by Steven A. Roman (that’s me!), Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1 is the critically acclaimed novel that begins Pan’s story, explaining how she, her parents, and her friends, are drawn into a conflict among warring vampire clans searching for the key to an ultimate weapon (or so the legend goes)—a key that just so happens to have been delivered to the horror-themed museum owned by Pan’s father.

Blood-Reign-FinalCvrIt’s a character-driven action-fest that leads immediately into the second novel: Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2, in which Pan faces even greater challenges as the clans draw up plans to go to war with humanity. Leading the charge is a fallen angel named Zaqiel, whose previous attempt at subjugating the world was stopped by Pan’s monster-hunting mentor, Annie—who, back in the day, was Zaqiel’s lover!

If you’re a Scribd subscriber, or know someone who is, be sure to add Pan’s adventures to your book queue—and then get started reading!

I Am the Author, And You Will Obey Me…

As an addendum to the recent series of posts about the creation of Pandora Zwieback–related covers for books and comics, I thought you’d be interested in seeing a truly odd choice for subject matter…

Larkin-Capaldi-Me

What you see here is a pencil sketch by “Pandora Zwieback” cover-painting legend Bob Larkin, drawn on a blank “sketch cover” that Dynamite Entertainment published as a variant for the second issue of their Doc Savage comic series. Only Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze, doesn’t appear on the cover. Instead, you’ve got actor Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It, Torchwood: Children of Earth) in costume as his most recent, world-famous role: Doctor Who. And standing in front of him, looking rather dapper in his black ensemble, top hat, and John Lennon sunglasses, is…me. In the garb I wear to conventions and book festivals in order to draw attention to the StarWarp Concepts booth.

Yeah, I was surprised by this, myself. But as Bob explained, he was drawing a bunch of Doc Savage sketch covers commissioned by fans—including the one done for me, teaming Doc with our adventurous Ms. Zwieback—and had a blank left over. So, liking my con outfit and aware of my fannish love for Doctor Who—I even once got to write a short story for a licensed Doctor Who anthology, as I discussed in this post and this other post at the StarWarp Concepts blog—Bob decided to combine the two, just for the hell of it.

Well, I certainly love it. But I have to ask: With my black outfit and goatee, standing next to the Doctor, does this make me a future incarnation of his oldest enemy, the Master? Only time may tell…

Pandora Zwieback: A Team-Up That Will Never Happen

And now for something completely different. Following the recent run of posts about the creation of the covers for the Pandora Zwieback novels Blood Feud and Blood Reign, IndyFest Magazine #85, and the comic books The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0 and The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1, I thought you’d be interested in a different sort of cover-art story—for a onetime crossover of characters you wouldn’t expect!

Painter Bob Larkin, in case you didn’t know, is an art legend whose paintings have graced a ton of covers, movie posters, and trading cards; his covers for Marvel Comics—including Dazzler #1, The Savage Sword of Conan the Barbarian, Planet of the Apes, The Hulk!, Haunt of Horror, and Monsters of the Movies—are instantly recognizable by longtime collectors, even if they didn’t know that he was the artist. But what you may not be aware of—unless you’re a fan of 1930s pulp-fiction heroes—is that he’s primarily regarded as one of the top Doc Savage artists in the world. Probably the #2 Doc painter of all time, right behind his friend and mentor, James Bama, who established Doc’s iconic look of cropped, widow-peaked hair and ripped shirts in the 1970s, when he was painting the covers for Bantam Books’ reprints of Doc’s pulp-era adventures.

James Bama's 1970s cover for the first Doc Savage novel, The Man of Bronze.

James Bama’s 1970s cover for the first Doc Savage novel, The Man of Bronze.

Created in 1933 by editors at publisher Street and Smith and developed by pulp-fiction writer-for-hire Lester Dent (under the house name Kenneth Robeson), Clark “Doc” Savage Jr. was the king of the pulp adventurers: a multitalented genius whose superhuman muscles were outmatched only by his incredible brain. In fact, Doc was so superhuman that the creators of a certain Man of Steel “borrowed” a few elements in the development of their own character—where do you think the first name Clark, and the Fortress of Solitude, came from? Doc had them both first. Aided by five associates who were experts in their fields—but whose knowledge of each field still couldn’t surpass Doc’s—and his two-fisted cousin, Patricia, Doc fought all manner of bad guys and madmen, and built a fanbase that continues to grow to this day.

In the 1970s, Bantam Books acquired the reprint rights to Doc’s adventures, and it was Bama’s eye-catching covers that grabbed the attention of a new generation of readers (me being among them). When Bama departed the series, he left some pretty big shoes to fill, but Bantam’s art director knew exactly who could fill them: Bob Larkin. Just take a look at these covers (just three of many), and you’ll know Bob was the right artist for the right job.

Larkin-Doc-CoversSo, you ask, what does all this Doc Savage talk have to do with our resident Goth adventuress, Pandora Zwieback? Well, everything in this particular case; I just wanted you to have some background for what follows.

A few years ago, publisher Dynamite Entertainment acquired the comic book rights to Doc (and ignored all attempts made by me and others to get them to hire Bob for covers). And like most publishers these days, they print sketch cover variants for certain issues: covers that, beyond logos and price boxes, are completely blank so that you can get artists to draw on them. And when I snagged a copy of one of those sketch covers, I knew exactly which artist I was taking it to, and what I wanted him to draw…

Marvel_Two-In-One_21One night, while I was talking to Bob, I asked him if he’d be interested in taking the blank sketch cover and doing his own version of the Ron Wilson cover for Marvel Two-in-One #21, a 1976 comic that teamed Doc Savage with the Thing from the Fantastic Four (Two-in-One was a series in which the Thing teamed up with all sorts of Marvel characters, usually in stories that lasted only one issue). You see the cover there to the left: Doc and the Thing, crashing through a wall.

However, as I explained to Bob, I didn’t want him to reproduce Wilson’s art. I wanted him to draw, not the Marvel version, but the real Doc Savage (in other words, the Bama and Larkin version), and instead of the Thing, I wanted somebody special charging alongside Doc—a certain Goth adventuress. Bob loved the idea, and it didn’t take him long to turn my idea into an actual pencil drawing:

DocSavage-Pan-Cover

Damn! Makes me wish it were a real team-up!

And so there you have it: Pandora Zwieback, “guest-starring” in the second issue of Dynamite’s Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze. A team-up that will never actually happen…but it certainly makes you think of what that might be like, doesn’t it? A happy, sarcastic Goth chick popping into the 1930s to go adventuring with Doc and his gang…hanging out with Pat Savage…probably running into her immortal, shape-shifting, monster-hunting mentor, Sebastienne Mazarin…

Yeah, that definitely has some possibilities. 😀

Thanks, Bob!