cover reveal: The Eye of Argon and the Further Adventures of Grignr the Barbarian

Back in 1970, a young man named Jim Theis published a novelette called “The Eye of Argon” in a fanzine. A painfully poorly written fantasy tale obviously inspired by the works of Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, and their ilk, “The Eye of Argon” became infamous as an example of bad writing (and also bad proofreading). It got to the point that people did readings of it at conventions, where you had to read it word for word (including the typos and misspellings, which are legion) and with a straight face. Whoever lasted the longest would win.

Some cons did other variations, including performing the action of the story. One such group decided to do a new annotated edition of the original as well as various short stories that would serve as sequels. Or prequels. Or side stories. But the main requirement of all these stories, besides that they should tie into “The Eye of Argon” is that they should be like the original: poorly written and full of typos.

And so, next month, Fantastic Books will present The Eye of Argon and the Further Adventures of Grignr the Barbarian, edited by Michael A. Ventrella, and including not just the original novelette by Theis (with annotations by Ian Randal Strock), but also the aforementioned stories. The book is now available for preorder.

Here’s the full table of contents:

  • Foreword: “The Eye of Argon and Associated Earnest Musings” by Jody Lynn Nye
  • Introduction: “We Can All Be Grignr; or: How to Appreciate Very Bad Writing” by Michael A. Ventrella
  • “Publisher’s Apology” by Ian Randal Strock
  • “The Eye of Argon” by Jim Theis, with annotations by Ian Randal Strock
  • “The Return of the Eye of Argon” by Hildy Silverman
  • “The Rat’s Tail” by Keith R.A. DeCandido
  • “Grignr and the Drignr” by Peter Prellwitz
  • “Grignr in the Land of Er-Urz” by Ian Randal Strock
  • “God Quest” by Genevieve Iseult Eldredge
  • “Grignr’s Swift Sword of Vengeance” by Daniel M. Kimmel
  • “Ouanna’s Rock” by Jean Marie Ward
  • “Grignr and the Tomb of Really Bad Evil” by Michael A. Ventrella

The book will launch at Philcon, where I am the Principal Speaker, and at which we will be doing a special performance of “The Eye of Argon” as a stage play. It ought to be horrible….

Double Trouble author interview: James A. Moore

Double Trouble: An Anthology of Two-Fisted Team-Ups, edited by Jonathan Maberry & Keith R.A. DeCandido, presented by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, is now funding on Kickstarter. The anthology features more than a dozen great tie-in writers teaming classic characters up.

With just a couple of days to go, our sights are set on our stretch goals, which will add more authors to the table of contents.

We’ve already done several interviews:

  • Rigel Ailur (teaming Annie Oakley with Marian of Sherwood)
  • Greg Cox (mashing up The Brain that Wouldn’t Die with Night of the Living Dead)
  • James Reasoner (pairing G-Man Dan Fowler with Stinger Seave)
  • Ben H. Rome (putting Bastet, Fenrir, and Quetzalcoatl together)
  • Nancy Holder & Alan Philipson (Flaxman Low and Mezzanotte meeting)
  • Keith R.A. DeCandido (teaming Ayesha, a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed, with Egungun-oya)
  • David Mack (teaming Prospero the Magician with Don Quixote de la Mancha)
  • Maurice Broaddus (Ace Harlem and the Conjure-Man teaming up)
  • Dayton Ward (pairing Captain Battle with Blackout)
  • Diana Dru Botsford (putting Ernest Shackleton, Sacajawea, and Lemuel Gulliver together)
  • Delilah S. Dawson (bringing Lydia Bennet and Lord Ruthven together)
  • Derek Tyler Attico (thrusting Dracula, Jekyll & Hyde, and John Henry into each other’s company)
  • Jennifer Brody (pitting Abraham Van Helsing against Athena and the Medusa)
  • the first of our stretch goal authors, Debbie Daughetee (throwing Jill Trent, Science Sleuth, together with Fantomah)
  • the second of our stretch goal authors, David A. McIntee (teaming Tang Sanzang, a.k.a. Tripitaka, with Emperor Taizong)

Here’s an interview with the last of our three stretch-goal authors: James A. Moore, who’s joining two pulp characters, the Moon Man and the Man in the Black Cloak. If you want to see him in the book, please support the Kickstarter so we can hit that stretch goal!

James A. Moore is a multiple Bram Stoker Award nominee for his novels and short fiction in the horror field. James has contributed extensively to White Wolf’s gaming universes, particularly World of Darkness. In addition to his original horror work, he’s also written for Alien, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Marvel, and V-Wars, among others.

What led you to choose the characters you’re using for your Double Trouble story?

I have an avid love of the old pulps and I thought that the Moon Man and the Man in the Black Cloak were two characters who needed to be seen ore. They’re very different characters, with very different styles, but I think they make an interesting pairing.

What do you enjoy most about writing tie-in fiction?

Playing in someone else’s sandbox. It’s like getting to play with all the toys that someone else has that you’ve wanted to get to know better.

What’s your favorite licensed universe that you’ve written in during your career as a tie-in writer?

Definitely Alien. What a dark and disturbing universe, with horrid, nightmarish monsters! And then there are the good guys, with such a wide array of possibilities, from corporate sleaze to military warriors. It’s a rich and fertile field to farm in.

What do you have that’s now out or coming out soon?

The final book in my Seven Forges novels, The War-Born, is coming out in December and I’m looking forward to that. It’s been a long and wild ride. 

Follow James online:

Double Trouble author interview: David A. McIntee

Double Trouble: An Anthology of Two-Fisted Team-Ups, edited by Jonathan Maberry & Keith R.A. DeCandido, presented by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, is now funding on Kickstarter. The anthology features more than a dozen great tie-in writers teaming classic characters up.

With just a couple of days to go, our sights are set on our stretch goals! We’ve already hit one, and now we want to hit the next two, which will add a couple more authors to the table of contents.

We’ve already done several interviews:

  • Rigel Ailur (teaming Annie Oakley with Marian of Sherwood)
  • Greg Cox (mashing up The Brain that Wouldn’t Die with Night of the Living Dead)
  • James Reasoner (pairing G-Man Dan Fowler with Stinger Seave)
  • Ben H. Rome (putting Bastet, Fenrir, and Quetzalcoatl together)
  • Nancy Holder & Alan Philipson (Flaxman Low and Mezzanotte meeting)
  • Keith R.A. DeCandido (teaming Ayesha, a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed, with Egungun-oya)
  • David Mack (teaming Prospero the Magician with Don Quixote de la Mancha)
  • Maurice Broaddus (Ace Harlem and the Conjure-Man teaming up)
  • Dayton Ward (pairing Captain Battle with Blackout)
  • Diana Dru Botsford (putting Ernest Shackleton, Sacajawea, and Lemuel Gulliver together)
  • Delilah S. Dawson (bringing Lydia Bennet and Lord Ruthven together)
  • Derek Tyler Attico (thrusting Dracula, Jekyll & Hyde, and John Henry into each other’s company)
  • Jennifer Brody (pitting Abraham Van Helsing against Athena and the Medusa)
  • and our first stretch goal author, who has now made it into the book: Debbie Daughetee (throwing Jill Trent, Science Sleuth, together with Fantomah)

Here’s an interview with the second of our three stretch-goal authors: David A. McIntee, who’s pairing two Asian legends, Tang Sanzang, a.k.a. Tripitaka, and Emperor Taizong. If you want to see him in the book, please support the Kickstarter so we can hit that stretch goal!

David A. McIntee has written extensively in the world of Doctor Who in prose and audio form, including a dozen novels. He’s also written tie-in fiction for Star Trek, Space: 1999, and Final Destination, and nonfiction about Trek, Alien, Predator, and Sapphire and Steel.

What led you to choose the characters you’re using for your Double Trouble story?

I remember Tripitaka being interesting in the old Monkey TV show, which was huge in the UK when I was a kid (though I confess I actually liked The Water Margin a whole lot better). But, having been made in Singapore (yeah, it doesn’t seem like it, but my parents were in British Army married quarters when my dad was stationed there), I’ve always been interested in Chinese history and mythology, and had learned that the character from Journey To The West was based (loosely) on a real person: a brother of the Tang Emperor Taizong. Then, a couple of years ago, I was introduced to Empress Of China, a Chinese historical drama TV show about the intrigues between Taizong’s wives, in Taizong is played in awesome wise badass style by Zhang Fengyi, who’s in plenty of movies, and when I saw Fengyi in that I knew I wanted to write something someday with him, and with his brother.

I wasn’t sure what form that would take, and whether it’d be historical, Journey To The West, or Monkey style… and then this anthology came along and I felt the Monkey version would fit best with it.

What do you enjoy most about writing tie-in fiction?

Bringing a hopefully fresh eye to something, and ideally — when it’s an IP I love even before writing for, then I always felt a great desire to give something back to a franchise or world that has given me pleasure.

What’s your favorite licensed universe that you’ve written in during your career as a tie-in writer?

I honestly couldn’t choose between Doctor Who and Star Trek. They’re totally on equal footing. They’re the shows — the permanent background — that I grew up with and was so influenced by.

What do you have that’s now out or coming out soon?

I have some Professor Howe books coming out soon for Children In Need: The Ballroom Blitzers, The Copy Corsairs, and The Outrageous Outlanders. And some things that will be a surprise.

Follow David online:

Double Trouble author interview: Debbie Daughetee

Double Trouble: An Anthology of Two-Fisted Team-Ups, edited by Jonathan Maberry & Keith R.A. DeCandido, presented by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, is now funding on Kickstarter. The anthology features more than a dozen great tie-in writers teaming classic characters up.

With less than a week to go, we’re very close to our funding goal, and if we make it, our sights are set on our first three stretch goals, which are to add three more authors to the table of contents.

We’ve already done several interviews:

Here’s an interview with the first of our three stretch-goal authors: Debbie Daughetee, who will be pairing Jill Trent, Science Sleuth, with Fantomah and Fury. If you want to see her in the book, please support the Kickstarter so we can hit that stretch goal!

Debbie Daughetee has spent most of her career writing and producing such television shows as Murder, She Wrote; Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman; and Touched by an Angel. She has published short stories in magazines and anthologies, including the Bram Stoker Award-winning Dark Delicacies. In addition, she has also written audio dramas set in the world of the 60’s classic television show Dark Shadows, including her Scribe Award-nominated The Lost Girl. Most recently, Debbie created Kymera Press, a comic book publishing company that supports women in comics. She writes the comic series Gates of Midnight, which was winner of the 2019 Irwin Award. She also publishes the Bram Stoker Award-winning Mary Shelley Presents Tales of the Supernatural.

What led you to choose the characters you’re using for your Double Trouble story?

I own my comic book publishing company, Kymera Press, so I decided it would be fun to revisit some 40s comic book heroines that have been mostly forgotten. I chose Jill Trent, Science Sleuth, because her mind is her superpower, and I find that very compelling. Fantomah is the protector of the jungle, but in the 40s, she was blond and blue-eyed. I’ve decided to revamp her and make her black, and instead of having a panther as a pet, she’ll be a shapechanger, and Fury is her panther persona. I think it will be interesting to develop a story where science and the supernatural have to work together to save… well, you’ll just have to help fund the Kickstarter to find out.

What do you enjoy most about writing tie-in fiction?

I love working in worlds in which I’m a fan. Writing Dark Shadows audio dramas was some of the most fun I’ve had.

What’s your favorite licensed universe that you’ve written in during your career as a tie-in writer?

Dark Shadows. I grew up watching Dark Shadows. Then, when I moved to California, I worked for the creator of DS, Dan Curtis. I thought I’d come full circle, but then I was offered the opportunity to write Dark Shadow audio dramas. It’s the most fun I’ve had.

What do you have that’s now out or coming out soon?

At the moment, I don’t have anything new coming out. However, at Kymera Press you’ll find all the books I’m publishing, including my own Gates of Midnight and the Bram Stoker Award-winning Mary Shelley Presents Tales of the Supernatural, written by Nancy Holder, who also has a story in the Double Trouble anthology.

Follow Debbie online:

a nice review of Three Time Travelers Walk Into…

Sam Tomaino of SFRevu has written a very nice review of Michael A. Ventrella’s anthology Three Time Travelers Walk Into…, which features my story “What You Can Become Tomorrow.” Sam reviews each story individually, and I’m pleased to see he was very positive (if brief) regarding mine:

Three ground-breaking people are given a trip to the far future to see that they are properly appreciated for what they accomplished.
Great little story!

Check it out!

Double Trouble author interview: Jennifer Brody

Double Trouble: An Anthology of Two-Fisted Team-Ups, edited by Jonathan Maberry & Keith R.A. DeCandido, presented by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, is now funding on Kickstarter. The anthology features more than a dozen great tie-in writers teaming classic characters up.

We’ve already done several interviews

Here’s an interview with Jennifer Brody, who is pitting vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing against Greek legends Athena and the Medusa.

Jennifer Brody, a.k.a. Vera Strange, is the Stoker-nominated author of the “Disney Chills” series, “The 13th Continuum” trilogy, and a contributor to Star Wars: Stories of Jedi and Sith, where she penned the Darth Vader story.

What led you to choose the characters you’re using for your Double Trouble story?

I’m tackling a Van Helsing (the famed monster hunter) vs. Medusa story. I’ve long been obsessed with both Greek Mythology and the Dracula/Van Helsing characters. Of course, the myth right now has the goddess Athena dispatching Perseus after Medusa. But I thought — what if Athena puts the call out for heroes to vanquish the monstress Medusa…and Van Helsing arrives instead? His approach and style couldn’t be more opposite of Perseus, so I thought it could be a fun way to revisit and reinvent the classic myth.

What do you enjoy most about writing tie-in fiction?

Basically, I’m a big nerd for so many film and TV universes that getting to write “canon” stories for both Disney and LucasFilm/Star Wars is a dream job. I don’t think I’m that “creepy” — but apparently I must be as I write about all the big iconic villains, from Cruella DeVil and Maleficent to Darth Vader. Also, my editors are the best and I love collaborating on stories that will excite the existing fans of Disney and Star Wars

What’s your favorite licensed universe that you’ve written in during your career as a tie-in writer?

Oh, it’s so hard to choose — but getting to write for Star Wars and tackle “the Big Guy” a.k.a. Darth Vader was a huge goal of mine. I’d been wanting to explore the Star Wars universe forever. My debut trilogy The 13th Continuum is a sci-fi series that’s heavily influenced by Star Wars. So, when it turned out that the head of LucasFilm Publishing was a fan of my Disney Chills series and what I’ve done to make the Disney villains “scary again,” my dream came true. Anakin/Vader is my favorite SW character, so it worked out.

What do you have that’s now out or coming out soon?

As of this interview, I have two books out for Disney next year: One is Disney Chills #7, villain TBA. But it was a blast to write and the book is revised and in to my editor. I can’t believe my series has already reached seven books. I also have another secret Disney project that we haven’t announced, but I just turned in a draft on Friday (eeek! hope my editor digs it!) that will be out next year as well. It’s a whole new universe and separate from my ongoing Disney Chills series, but involves characters I’ve been dying to write. I know my readers will be super excited about this project. Oh, and this anthology if we get funded! So help us out!

Follow Jennifer online:

Double Trouble author interview: Delilah S. Dawson

Double Trouble: An Anthology of Two-Fisted Team-Ups, edited by Jonathan Maberry & Keith R.A. DeCandido, presented by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, is now funding on Kickstarter. The anthology features more than a dozen great tie-in writers teaming classic characters up.

We’ve already done several interviews

Here’s an interview with Delilah S. Dawson, whose story pairs Jane Austen’s wild upper-class scion Lydia Bennet, youngest of the Bennet sisters from Pride and Prejudice, with Lord Ruthven, the aristocratic, charismatic vampire from John William Polidori’s The Vampyre.

Delilah S. Dawson is the author of over twenty books, including the New York Times best-selling Star Wars: Phasma, The Violence, the “Minecraft: Mob Squad” trilogy, and many more. She’s written comics in the worlds of Marvel Action Spider-Man, Star Wars, Firefly, The X-Files, and Adventure Time.

What led you to choose the characters you’re using for your Double Trouble story?

Pride and Prejudice is a comfort story for me; in that world, the worst thing that could happen is marrying a Mr. Collins. I was intrigued by the thought of how the Bennett sisters might deal with a man who’s an actual threat and not just a bore or a cad. The answer? Throw a vampire into the mix!

What do you enjoy most about writing tie-in fiction?

I love writing in worlds that feel like home. It’s an interesting challenge, telling a story that’s very “me” while also fitting seamlessly into the library and canon of that official universe. It’s very healing to the lonely, nerdy kid who lives in my heart. And meeting the fans is always such a delight. Star Wars Celebration is one of the most positive, enthusiastic gatherings I’ve ever attended! 

What’s your favorite licensed universe that you’ve written in during your career as a tie-in writer?

Whichever one I’m currently writing in! Each world has its own appeal. Star Wars is timeless, Adventure Time is playful with lots of room for jokes and wackiness, The X-Files gave me tons of creative freedom, Labyrinth was truly an honor, Marvel Action Spider-Man allowed me to offer a welcoming door to bring new young readers into the massive realm of Spider-Man. And the Stranger Things book I have coming up was tons of fun!

What do you have that’s now out or coming out soon?

The paperback of The Violence is out this November, as is my third and final Minecraft Mob Squad book, Don’t Fear the Creeper. I’m doing some work with DC’s “Dark Crisis” event over the next couple of months. And I have several projects out next year, including a Star Wars novel, a Stranger Things novel, and a secret tie-in that hasn’t yet been announced.

Follow Delilah online:

Double Trouble author interview: Dayton Ward

Double Trouble: An Anthology of Two-Fisted Team-Ups, edited by Jonathan Maberry & Keith R.A. DeCandido, presented by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, is now funding on Kickstarter. The anthology features more than a dozen great tie-in writers teaming classic characters up.

We’ve already done several interviews

Here’s an interview with Dayton Ward, who is pairing two characters from 1940s comics: Captain Battle and Blackout.

Dayton Ward is a New York Times best-selling author or co-author of more than forty novels and novellas, often working with his best friend, Kevin Dilmore. His short fiction has appeared in more than twenty anthologies, and he’s written for magazines such as NCO JournalKansas City VoicesFamous Monsters of FilmlandStar Trek, and Star Trek Communicator as well as the websites Tor.com, StarTrek.com, and Syfy.com.

What led you to choose the characters you’re using for your Double Trouble story?

When I started researching Public Domain characters so I could pitch to the anthology’s editors, I wanted to do something set during or shortly after World War I. I’d just gotten off a binge-watch of HBO’s Perry Mason reboot series and in that show Mason is a veteran of the Great War. I happened across Captain Battle during my research, who was described as such a veteran, wounded during that conflict and who later decides he’s going to do whatever he can to stop further wars. In the original comics in which he first appears—published before the attack on Pearl Harbor—he’s trying to avert another world war. The comics depict him fighting the Nazis, so I wondered what he might do once the war in Europe was over. Researching Captain Battle brought me to Blackout, a character who obtains superpowers after an accident. Despite appearing in two different issues of Captain Battle, Blackout and Battle never meet, so I figured now’s as good a time as any.

What do you enjoy most about writing tie-in fiction?

Most of the time, it’s like getting another chance to dig back into my childhood toybox. When I was a kid, I made up stories while pitting my various action figures against one another. I basically do the same thing now, only I use words instead of action figures to create my stories.

(Okay, I might still do the action figure thing every so often.)

Basically, writing a tie-in is an opportunity to run around on someone else’s playground, and if you’re lucky you get to stitch a new square into that property’s ever-expanding quilt of stories that fans love the same way they enjoy their favorite TV episodes or films.

What’s your favorite licensed universe that you’ve written in during your career as a tie-in writer?

I’ve been a Trekkie my entire life, and I’ve been very fortunate to write a good number of Star Trek stories, so it’s easily my favorite. That said, I was absolutely giddy when I got the chance to write story tying into Planet of the Apes. That’s another series of films and TV shows that contributed to my 1970s childhood jam, along with Space: 1999 and The Six Million Dollar Man, two other properties for which I’d love to write if opportunity ever presented itself.

What do you have that’s now out or coming out soon?

My most recent publication is Jurassic World: The Official Cookbook from Insight Editions. It’s a collaboration with food stylist Elena P. Craig. She wrote all the recipes while I wrote all the background and “flavor text” about the Jurassic World resort and dinosaurs from an in-world perspective. It was a change of pace for me, but a great deal of fun.

Follow Dayton online:

Double Trouble author interview: Maurice Broaddus

Double Trouble: An Anthology of Two-Fisted Team-Ups, edited by Jonathan Maberry & Keith R.A. DeCandido, presented by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, is now funding on Kickstarter. The anthology features more than a dozen great tie-in writers teaming classic characters up.

We’ve already done several interviews

Here’s an interview with Maurice Broaddus, who is bringing together two Black pulp characters, Ace Harlem, created by John Terrell in 1947’s All-Negro Comics, and the Conjure-Man, created by Rudolph Fisher for his 1932 novel The Conjure-Man Dies.

A community organizer, teacher, and Afrofuturist, Maurice Broaddus‘s short stories have appeared in such places as Lightspeed Magazine, Black Panther: Tales from Wakanda, Weird Tales, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Uncanny Magazine. His novels include Sweep of StarsUnfadeablePimp My Airship, and The Usual Suspects.

What led you to choose the characters you’re using for your Double Trouble story?

I’ve been reading a book called Black Pulp: Genre Fiction in the Shadow of Jim Crow by Brooks E. Hefner. In it, Hefner uncovers a trove of African-American genre fiction from the 1920s through the 1950s. Romance, adventure, Westerns, crime stories in an era that hasn’t been documented well in terms of what we read and what we wrote. It stirred my curiosity, which led me to All-Negro Comics #1 (Ace Harlem) and  The Conjure Man Dies (the Conjure Man). Hopefully, I’ll help shed light on these two properties, drawing modern attention to them.

What do you enjoy most about writing tie-in fiction?

It’s another way for me to tell my stories, except by playing in someone else’s sandbox. Look, I’m living my teenage geek best life right now being able to write some of the properties that I either grew up watching or being influenced by.

What’s your favorite licensed universe that you’ve written in during your career as a tie-in writer?

Marvel. Especially Black Panther.

What do you have that’s now out or coming out soon?

My space opera, Sweep of Stars, just came out this past spring, quickly followed by my middle-grade detective novel, Unfadeable. Speaking of tie-in writing, I have a story in AvP: Ultimate Prey (“Night Doctors”), an essay in Dreams of Wakanda (“Daring to Dream of a Black Utopia”), and a re-imagining of a Hollywood staple in Classic Monsters Unleashed (“The Invisible Man: The Fire This Time”).

Follow Maurice online:

new stuff on the Double Trouble Kickstarter!

With sixteen days to go, we’ve added a whole mess of bonuses and add-ons and things to the Kickstarter for Double Trouble: An Anthology of Two-Fisted Team-Ups, co-edited by self and Jonathan Maberry and presented by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers….

AUDIO READINGS!

Most of the authors are now offering readings of their stories! Each of the available audios can be added to your pledge as a $10 add-on, or you can get all the audio readings (plus an acknowledgment, and the eBook and trade paperback of the anthology) for $125.

MABERRY TUCKERIZATIONS!

Co-editor Jonathan Maberry is offering some more Tuckerizations, including two more in his next “Joe Ledger” book and two more in one of his upcoming short stories. These are available as $175 rewards (which also include an acknowledgment, and copies of the anthology in eBook and trade paperback).

MABERRY AUTOGRAPHED ARCs!

In addition, Jonathan is also offering as add-ons autographed ARCs of the first two books in his new epic fantasy series: Kagen the Damned and Son of the Poison Rose. You can get one of the ARCs for $100, or both for $175.

If you’ve already pledged, you can easily alter your pledge to get one or more of these rewards, and if you haven’t yet, now’s your chance!

Please consider supporting, if you haven’t!