Happy Birthday, Bob Larkin!

Larkin_photoIf you’re a fan of comic books, or movies, or pulp fiction heroes, Bob Larkin is a painter whose work you recognize immediately; he’s provided covers and movie posters for just about every publishing house and film studio for more than four decades.

His covers for Doc Savage, Dazzler, Star Wars, Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, The Savage Sword of Conan the Barbarian, as well as movie posters for Piranha, Night of the Creeps, and The Toxic Avenger II are just some of the painted images you might already be familiar with, even if you didn’t know they were Larkin’s work. He’s been an inspiration to artists like Joe Jusko and Alex Ross. If you’re a Panatic, then you know him as the cover artist of the Saga of Pandora Zwieback novels Blood Feud and Blood Reign.

And today is his 68th birthday!

SWC_Larkin_SketchbookIt’s not just his painting skills that are impressive—Bob’s also one hell of a pencil artist, as you’ll see if you order a copy of SWC’s The Bob Larkin Sketchbook. It’s a collection of some of Bob’s incredible pencil drawings, and what you’ll discover when you see them is how wide-ranging his subjects are. Sci-fi, horror, Westerns, pulp adventure, crime fiction, movie merchandise, even wrestling stars—as we say on the book’s back cover, there really is little that he hasn’t painted. And the sketchbook features three pieces created especially for it: the Pandora Zwieback cover art; a portrait of Patricia Savage, the fightin’ cousin of pulp fiction’s top-tier adventurer, Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze; and a two-page spread in which Doc faces off against another Golden Age crimefighter—The Shadow!

The Bob Larkin Sketchbook is available in print and digital formats. Visit its product page for ordering information, as well as sample pages.

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

Happy birthday, Bob!

My Favorite Issue of Marvel Team-Up


Okay, so maybe it’s not a real comic-book cover—ya got me! But with Spider-Man: Homecoming—the first Spidey film set firmly in the Marvel Cinematic Universe—opening in the U.S. today, and both Spidey and Pan hailing from the New York borough of Queens, it only makes sense that they’d get together, right? Especially since the new movie Spidey lives in Pan’s (and StarWarp Concepts’) neighborhood of Sunnyside!

Spider-Man art by Ross Andru and Dick Giordano, from the back cover of 1976’s Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man: The Battle of the Century, one of the greatest team-up stories ever. Pan art by Eliseu Gouveia from The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0, our free digital comic (download it today!).

And if you like this heroic meeting, then take a look at this post from June 2015, when Pan novel cover painter Bob Larkin teamed Pan up (at my suggestion) with one of the greatest pulp-era heroes of all time: Doc Savage, The Man of Bronze! Pan sure loves her crossovers!

Happy Fourth of July!

Who says there are no horror tie-ins to America’s birthday? Here are a couple of supernaturally patriotic comic covers to get you into the holiday mood, as America celebrates its 241st today:


Elvira, the Queen of Halloween, does her best impression of the Statue of Liberty for the cover of Elvira’s House of Mystery #8, penciled by Dwight Turner, inked by comic-art legend Dick Giordano (Wonder Woman, Black Canary, Justice League of America), and published by DC Comics in July 1986.


Holy historical team-ups! The original supernatural version of Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze, helps Paul Revere spread the word about the advancing British forces, in this cover for the American Bicentennial issue of The Comic Reader, by two comic-art legends: penciler Frank Robbins (Batman, The Invaders, The Shadow) and inker P. Craig Russell (American Gods, Doctor Strange, War of the Worlds).

Makes ya feel proud to be a horror fan, doesn’t it?

Smashwords’ Summer/Winter 2017 E-book Sale Begins

smashwords-logoHey, book lovers! Today’s the day when e-book distributor Smashwords launches its ninth annual Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale, during which you can purchase thousands of digital books at special prices! It runs from July 1 to July 31—and yes, you’ll need to set up an account (it’s free) to take advantage of this promotion. As for why Smashwords gives this event such an unusual name: Because Smashwords serves a global readership where it’s summer in the Northern hemisphere and winter in the Southern hemisphere. So whether you’re looking for a great beach read, or you want to curl up in front of warm fireplace with a great read, we’ve got you covered!”

Included among the many participating publishers is StarWarp Concepts (of course), which means you can get the following titles at 25% off, as long as you make sure to use the specially generated coupon codes when you make your purchase:

blood_feudBlood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1 is my young adult novel that’s perfect for lovers of dark urban fantasy. It introduces readers to Pandora Zwieback, 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 professional monster hunter Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin 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. In Blood Feud, Pan, her parents and friends, and Annie 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.

Use Coupon Code ZY37X (not case-sensitive) for Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1.

Blood-Reign-FinalCvrBlood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2: Pan and Annie face even greater challenges as the vampire 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 Annie—who, back in the day, was Zaqiel’s lover! But Pan isn’t about to let some ancient monster win the day, not when the lives of her parents and friends—along with those of every human on the planet—are at stake, so she leads a charge of her own. But whose side is going to emerge the victor remains to be seen…

Use Coupon Code KK62H (not case-sensitive) for Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2.

terraTerra Incognito: A Guide to Building the Worlds of Your Imagination is our popular how-to book for writers and gamers in which bestselling fantasy author Richard C. White (Gauntlet: Dark Legacy: Paths of Evil, The Chronicles of the Sea Dragon Special, Troubleshooters, Incorporated: Night Stalkings) takes you through the step-by-step process of constructing a world for your characters, from societies and governments to currency and religion. Included is an interview with New York Times bestselling author Tracy Hickman (Dragonlance) that discusses his methods of world building, as well as his creative experiences during his time as a designer for gaming company TSR, the original home of Dungeons & Dragons.

Use Coupon Code UC82A (not case-sensitive) for Terra Incognito: A Guide to Building the Worlds of Your Imagination.

Gold-Pieces-CvrFor a Few Gold Pieces More is Richard C. White’s collection of fantasy short stories. Think Lord of the Rings meets the “spaghetti Westerns” of director Sergio Leone (A Fistful of Dollars; The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly), as a Rogue With No Name travels a world of epic-fantasy adventure, looking for treasure, romance—and revenge against the woman who sent him to prison for a crime he didn’t commit (but she did).

Use Coupon Code VD68F (not case-sensitive) for For a Few Gold Pieces More.

Again, the Smashwords Summer Sale runs until July 1 to July 31, so head over to the StarWarp Concepts publisher page at Smashwords and start your summer-reading shopping!

Scream Factory Turns This Week Into 5 Nights of Fear

NightbreedposterHorror movie alert! Starting tonight and running through Friday is 5 Nights of Fear, a monsteriffic event from home-entertainment company Shout! Factory to celebrate the fifth anniversary of its Scream Factory imprint. The movies they’ll be showing during the week are:

Monday, June 12: Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut: Writer/director/author Clive Barker’s 1990 follow-up to his big-screen directorial debut Hellraiser never reached the pop-culture status of Pinhead’s cinematic adventures, but it still has its fans. Starring Craig Sheffer, Anne Bobby, and David Cronenberg (acting this time instead of directing), it’s the tale of Aaron Boone, a man who discovers he’s one of the Nightbreed—a race of monsters who’ve hidden their existence from humanity. But the real monster is Aaron’s psychotherapist, who’s a serial killer in his spare time.

bad_moon_xlgTuesday, June 13: Bad Moon: This often-overlooked werewolf film from 1996—based on the novel Thor by Wayne Smith (Thor being the dog in the story)—stars Michael Paré (Streets of Fire) as Ted, the creepy brother of single-mom Mariel Hemingway (Star 80), who’s trying to make ends meet while raising her son. Unfortunately, Ted has a habit of unleashing his murderous inner beast when the moon is full, and the only one who can stop Tedwolf from making a meal of his sister and nephew is Thor, the family German shepherd. Yes, a non-talking dog is the protagonist of this not-for-kids flick that culminates in Ted going full monster, with the best-looking practical-effects werewolf suit I’ve seen since the original Howling.

Wednesday, June 14: The Exorcist III: Author William Peter Blatty didn’t just start the exorcism craze with his 1971 novel The Exorcist (which he then adapted for director William Friedkin’s memorable 1973 film), he also took the director’s reins for this 1990 adaptation of his 1983 sequel novel, Legion. Acting legend George C. Scott (Patton, The Changeling) is Lieutenant Kinderman (played first in The Exorcist by Lee J. Cobb, who died in 1976), who’s investigating a series of gruesome murders that mirror the style of a serial murderer dubbed the Gemini Killer—problem is, Gemini has been dead for seventeen years. The trail of clues leads Kinderman to a psychiatric hospital, and an encounter with another character from the original Exorcist—one everyone thought was dead…

exorcist3Thursday, June 15: Hellhole: This 1985 thriller is one of those exploitative “inmates running the asylum” type of psychiatric institution horror tales. After her mother is murdered by a serial killer named Silk (Ray Sharkey), a traumatized and amnesiac Susan (Judy Landers, a regular of 1980s TV shows) is committed to an institution run by an evilly crazy doctor who likes to perform chemical lobotomies on his patients—and he’s got his sights set on the new girl. And then to make matters worse Silk shows up, looking for Susan…

Friday, June 16: Rabid: Wrapping up the week is this 1977 take on the zombie-epidemic genre by writer/director David Cronenberg (The Fly, The Dead Zone, Videodrome). Rose (played by adult film star Marilyn Chambers) is seriously injured in a traffic accident and undergoes experimental reconstructive surgery, with an unexpected result: it leaves her with an appetite for flesh and blood, and her victims turn into ravenous zombies. It’s as gory and body horror–oriented as you’d expect from a Cronenberg film, so be prepared to look away if you’re not into that kind of stuff!

Of course, the reason for these selections is that all five films are available on DVD and BluRay from Scream Factory, so if you like them enough to want to own them after you’re done watching, they’re not that had to track down. Additionally, Shout! Factory TV has a slew of horror movies you can stream for free right now, including the George Romero/Dario Argento collaboration Two Evil Eyes; Larry Cohen’s Q, The Winged Serpent (one of my favorites, about a monster living in NYC’s Chrysler Building); and episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Elvira’s Movie Macabre.

5 Nights of Fear starts each night at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on Shout! Factory TV and Pluto TV Channel 512. For more information, visit the Shout! Factory TV website.

Even a Mummy Can Use a Hand, Sometimes

Mummy-HandAs I mentioned yesterday, today’s the U.S. release of The Mummy, Universal Studios’ new take on their old horror-movie franchise. So with that in mind, I figured it’d be the perfect time to reach into the horror-comic archives and pull out a classic one-page tale of the bandaged dead: “The Mummy’s Hand”! Click on the image to embiggen, as they say.

First published in Star Publications’ Ghostly Weird Stories #120 (cover-dated September 1953), “The Mummy’s Hand” was written, drawn, and colored by New Jersey native Jay Disbrow, a cult-favorite comics artist who passed away on May 2nd of this year, at the age of 91. The height of his popularity came during the 1950s, when horror comics were all the rage and Disbrow got to draw all sorts of weird and creepy monsters until the censor-heavy Comics Code Authority came along and put an end to the fun (but not for long!). But the CCA didn’t put an end to Dusbrow’s talents—he kept writing and drawing his own indie comics right up to 2005, creating such sci-fi characters as Captain Electron, Aroc of Zenith, and Lance Carrigan of the Galactic Legion.

Monstresses On the Prowl

Hey, horror fans! As you might know, this Friday is the U.S. release date for The Mummy, the latest iteration of Universal Pictures’ classic Egyptian monster first brought to celluloid life by the legendary Boris Karloff in 1932.

This time around, the titular character is a woman—Princess Ahmanet, played by Sofia Boutella, whom you might remember from the popular movies Kingsman: The Secret Service (she was the blade-footed assassin) and Star Trek Beyond. And trying to stop her plans for world domination is none other than megastar Tom Cruise, with some help from Russell Crowe—who’s playing Dr. Henry Jekyll and his notorious counterpart, Mr. Hyde! It’s the kickoff title in Universal’s “Dark Universe” line of movies, to be followed by rebooted versions of The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolfman, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and The Creature From the Black Lagoon.

whitefell-werewolf-cvrSpeaking of female monsters, are you familiar with the story of White Fell—The Werewolf? Originally published in 1896 as The Were-wolf, it was written by renowned author, artist, and suffragette Clemence Annie Housman, and is regarded by scholars as perhaps the first feminist werewolf story. It’s also the launch title of StarWarp Concepts’ SWC Horror Bites line of chapbooks. Here’s the back-cover copy:

A beautiful woman wanders into a snowbound village—and into the hearts of twin brothers, one of whom immediately becomes smitten by her.

The other brother, however, soon grows suspicious of the enigmatic White Fell. Where did she come from? Why does she always carry an ax? And is her sudden appearance somehow related to the recent sightings of a bloodthirsty wolf in the area?

He may come to regret being so inquisitive…

Critics have continued to enjoy it, even 121 years after its first publication:

“For Housman, the female werewolf is a vehicle for her to present a strong feminist-inspired female character…. It is possible that Housman was telling the world that women had a hidden strength and that men should beware of their own hidden nature.”—The Nuke Mars Journal of Speculative Fiction

“White Fell is interesting because she subverts many of the tropes of the monstrous woman—i.e without maternal instincts, animalistic, lustful, etc. She is a femme fatale only in the most basic sense that she is a deadly woman.”—International Gothic Association

White Fell—The Werewolf is on sale right now in print and digital formats, so visit its product page at StarWarp Concepts for further information and order it today.

Happy World Goth Day 2017!

world-goth-posterNow celebrating its eighth anniversary, World Goth Day (always held on May 22) puts a spotlight on Goth culture and all its perks (it’s not all about black clothes and clichéd dour attitudes, you know). To quote the official website:

Goth Day is exactly what it says on the wrapper—a day where the Goth scene gets to celebrate its own being, and an opportunity to make its presence known to the rest of the world. It all started off as “Goth Day” just in the UK back in 2009—originating as a musical subculture weekend on the BBC 6 music station which focused on punk, Brit-pop and Goth (the Goth feature was on May 22)—but the following year we decided to push the idea across the globe.

For more information on World Goth Day, including links to the many events being held to celebrate the occasion, visit the WGD website.

pandora rockslowLGAnd who better to celebrate World Goth Day than our resident Goth adventuress, Pandora Zwieback? Generally a happy Goth (yes, they exist) and major horror fangirl who likes to paint and write and hang out with her friends and her new boyfriend, Javier Maldonado, Pan also has her hands full these days battling monsters and fallen angels in her novel series The Saga of Pandora Zwieback—written by yours truly. And you can check out her adventures in these titles:

The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0: A free, downloadable comic that serves as an introduction to both Pan—with an 8-page story written by me and illustrated by Eliseu Gouveiaand her first novel, Blood Feud (via a pair of preview chapters).

Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1: This critically acclaimed novel is the beginning of 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. It’s a character-driven action-fest that leads immediately into the second novel:

Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2: 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!

The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1: A spinoff from the novel series, this 56-page, full-color comic special finds the teenaged Goth adventuress battling vampires and a jealous, man-stealing siren. It features stories by me and Sholly Fisch (Scooby-Doo Team-Up), art by Eliseu Gouveia (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0), comic-art legend Ernie Colon (Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld), and Elizabeth Watasin (Charm School), and cover art by award-winning artist Henar Torinos (Mala Estrella).

Blood Feud, Blood Reign, and the Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual are available in both print and digital formats. The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0 is a digital exclusive. Visit each of the titles’ product pages for more information, including sales links and sample pages and chapters.

Happy Free Comic Book Day 2017!

FCBD-logo2That’s right, comic book fans, today is the sixteenth annual Free Comic Book Day at brick-and-mortar and online comic shops around the world. Held the first Saturday in May, this year’s event is timed to coincide with yesterday’s release of Marvel Films’ latest blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, in which Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord (WHO?!), Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot face a new cosmic threat—all while grooving to another sound track that relies heavily on 1970s and ’80s pop tunes. And in keeping with FCBD’s fine tradition of gifting comics to fans everywhere, here’s a list of StarWarp Concepts’ offerings that you can download directly from their webstore!

heroinesandheroes-1Heroines & Heroes: A collection of comic stories and pinups all drawn by me, dating back to my days in the early 1990s small-press movement—that age of dinosaurs in which creators like me used to make our comics by printing them out on photocopiers and then stapling them by hand. In H&H you’ll find mainstream heroes and small-press heroines, and even a couple of anthropomorphic bikers. Leading off is “V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N (in the Summertime),” a three-page Wonder Woman vs. Harley Quinn story that I wrote and drew in the late ’90s as a sample for a DC Comics editor who thought I’d be a good fit for their Batman: The Animated Series comic (it didn’t work out). It’s followed by an adventure of small-presser Jeff Wood’s rabbit-eared superspy, Snowbuni; three pages from the long-canceled indie comic Motorbike Puppies; and an adventure of the indie superheroine The Blonde Avenger.

Pandora0_CoverThe Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0: A full-color introduction to the young adult novel series of the same name, hosted by Pan herself. Pan is a 16-year-old New York City Goth who’s not only a horror fangirl but someone with the rare ability to see the for-real monsters that regular humans can’t (she calls it her “monstervision”), and with the help of a 400-year-old, shape-shifting monster hunter named Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin, she’s learning how to protect her family, her friends, and the world from the supernatural dangers out there—and maybe even have some fun while doing it. This 16-page comic features a seven-page story written by me, with art and color by Eliseu Gouveia (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1, Carmilla, A Princess of Mars), and includes two sample chapters from Blood Feud, the first Pan novel.

Heartstopper_CoverHearstopper: The Legend of La Bella Tenebrosa #1–3: Before she became Pan’s monster-hunting mentor, Sebastienne Mazarin made her debut in this short-lived, 1990s Mature Readers series from Millennium Publications. A nefarious heavy metal band has arrived in New York City, and its lead singer is more than just a sex magnet for his female fans—he’s an incubus! Will Annie put an end to his plans for worldwide chaos, or fall prey to his supernatural charms? Written by me (of course), issue 1 is drawn by Pan and Annie co-creator Uriel Caton (JSA Annual) and inker Alan Larsen (Femforce); issue 2 is penciled by Uriel, Holly Golightly (School Bites), and David C. Matthews (Satin Steele) and inked by Larsen; and issue 3 is penciled by Holly, with four pages of inks by “Chainsaw” Chuck Majewski (Harvey Kurtzman’s New Two-Fisted Tales).

Warning: Heartstopper is designated a “Mature Readers” comic for violent scenes and some sexual innuendo, so younger Panatics should avoid it.

All these comics are available for free download right now, so visit their respective product pages at StarWarp Concepts for more information.

Free Comic Book Day 2017 Titles of Interest to Panatics

FCBD-logo2Are you ready, comic book fans? Tomorrow’s the sixteenth annual Free Comic Book Day at brick-and-mortar and online comic book stores around the world, and as usual, a number of publishers are releasing a wide selection of comics that are absolutely free to fans—while supplies last at your local comic shop, of course! Here are the ones that might appeal to you Panatics out there, with descriptions provided by Diamond Comic Distributors:


Attack on Titan (Kodansha Comics): “A brand-new, never-before-seen story set in the world of manga megahit Attack on Titan, written by Jody Houser (Faith, Orphan Black) with art by Emi Lenox (Plutona, EmiTown)! Plus, information about the highly anticipated season two of the anime, and more exclusives!”

Buffy: The High School Years (Dark Horse): In this all-ages offering, “you’ll thrill to a monster-slaying, citizen-saving adventure with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sixteen-year-old Buffy is still learning her trade, and sometimes battles with demons and bad luck can erode a girl’s confidence—and her ability to have high-school fun.” Written by Kel McDonald, with art by Yishan Li.

I Hate Image (Image Comics): Writer/artist Skottie Young describes this Mature Readers one-off story this way: “Gertrude has been stuck in Fairyland for decades when she finally hears of a secret passage that may be her way back home. But reaching it is easier said than done as she crosses the border into IMAGE where she’ll have to chop her way through you favorite characters from Saga, The Walking Dead, Savage Dragon, Spawn, Descender, Black Science, Southern Bastards, and any other character I can add to make sure the original art for this issue sends my children to college!”

Lady Mechanika (Benitez Productions): This issue, written and illustrated by Joe Benitez, “introduces new readers to this steampunk bestseller, [and] includes the original 14-page one-shot introducing Lady Mechanika, a young woman in Victorian England with mechanical limbs and no memory of how she got them, searching desperately for the secrets to her past, plus excerpts from the Lady Mechanika trades and comics!”

Monster High (Titan Comics): Based on the popular toy line, in this story “it’s time for a school competition, and all of the ghoulfriends are excited about showing off their talents! But Clawdeen finds it challenging and runs away! Can her friends find Clawdeen and help her out? And who will win the competition?” Written by Abby Denson and illustrated by Arianna Florean.

Riverdale (Archie Comics): It’s an Archie comic based on the hit CW television series…that’s based on Archie comic books—doesn’t that make it the funnybook equivalent of the snake that swallows its tail? “Learn the secrets and hidden tales from the summer before the eternal love-triangle begins in this special issue. Featuring two short stories focusing on the major players and events in the Riverdale series.” Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Brian E. Paterson, James DeWille, with art by Elliot Fernandez, Thomas Pitilli, Thomas Chu, and Janice Chiang.

 Be sure to pick up copies (if you get the chance) before they’re all gone!