Tag Archives: Crazy 8 Press

Sword & Sorcery & Schmaltz

The first sword and sorcery I ever read was Robert E. Howard’s Conan, in the books published in the mid-1960s in paperback by Lancer Books, with the soon to become iconic cover paintings by Frank Frazetta. My father had brought home a recently published paperback edition of Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs that someone had left behind at his office. I recognized the Ape Man from the movies I’d seen on TV, but I wasn’t prepared for what I read. It was like I had discovered the real-life version of what was, essentially, portrayed as a grunting cartoon character in the movies. It floored me. I still think it’s a great novel, as close to literature as pulp fiction got when it was published in 1912. I reread it every few years.

My next trip to the library after that included a hunt for more ERB. I was rewarded with John Carter of Mars (so…score!), which was my gateway to sword & sorcery. As I recall, it was on a later library visit that I spotted Conan on the paperback rack, where the librarian told me I might find some more ERB books. Conan was hard to miss: a dark scene of a ripped barbarian in a life and death struggle with a gorilla wearing a startling crimson cloak! Continue reading

One Hundred Stories

“Smooth Talk” (Saturday, August 19, 2017) My father Sidney with a model at the Lincoln Terrace Camera Club

Here’s a little cautionary tale from the life of one of the Crazy 8 Press crew. Don’t worry, it’s not too long, you won’t learn anything of lasting value, and it’s illustrated with cool old black and white photos of New York City and old bums, and it has a link to free content. Who doesn’t like free content, right?

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Today, I posted my one hundredth and final flash fiction story (well, really only ninety-nine of them are mine) on Tumblr, all written in the last one hundred and five days. (Click me! Click me! You can find all one hundred stories right here…or click on the pictures to go directly to those stories!)

Every morning since June 1, I awoke to a stack of old black and white photographs and a self-imposed task, the meeting of which only I had any reason to care about. No, I take that back. Even I didn’t have any real reason to care about meeting this ridiculous story-a-day deadline I’d inflicted upon myself, but once I got started, it was hard to stop.

What happened was, I was looking for some way in which to showcase some of the photographs taken in and around New York City more than two-thirds of a century ago by my father, Sidney (1921-1992). Sidney picked up a camera shortly after World War II, joined a bunch of camera clubs and photography organizations, learned how to process and print his own film, and over the course of the next decade and a half, took thousands of pictures. Continue reading

A Little Something from In My Shorts

The cake from my going away party at DC Comics when I left to join WWN.
The cake from my going away party at DC Comics when I left to join WWN.

A bunch of years ago, my friend Joe Gentile of Moonstone Books asked me to contribute a short story to an anthology called Vampires: Dracula and the Undead Legions. Out of that came a story called “Man Bites Dog,” starring Weekly World News reporter Leo Persky, better known to his readers as “Terrance Strange.” (“My real name is Leo Persky. But ‘Terrance Strange’ sounds like he’d be a big, strapping adventurer who travels the world seeking out the dangerous and, yes, the strange, while Leo Persky sounds like a middle aged, five foot, seven inch tall balding and bespectacled Jew who cowers at the slightest sign of danger. Seeing as how I am the latter but would rather readers believe I’m the former, I go with the macho name, not to mention a photograph at the top of my column of my paternal grandfather, Jacob Persky, who also used the nom de bizarre of “Strange” but who actually was a big, strapping adventurer who traveled the world seeking out the dangerous. Unfortunately, I take after my mother’s side of the family. Scrawny and whiney.”) Continue reading

Have You Heard the One About…? It’s THE SAME OLD STORY

The following is meant strictly for entertainment purposes…well, entertaining to me anyway. I managed to work a favorite joke into The Same Old Story, my murder mystery set in the world of the comic book industry in 1951 (and available just by clicking here!). Fun fact: The character of Robert Konigsberg was loosely based (though greatly exaggerated) on prolific DC Comics writer Robert Kanigher, one of my favorite real life characters. And no real world comic book creators were harmed in the writing of this story…

51oqzCTobLDeciding that being only half-drunk after receiving the news from Murray was worse than being sober, Guy was desperate for coffee. We stopped at the Automat on 44th Street, feeding enough nickels into the slots for a couple of cups of joe and a matching set of doughnuts.

Guy was lighting a cigarette when Robert Konigsberg sauntered up to the table. Tall and handsome in a rugged Robert Taylor sort of way, Bob had been an editor at National before leaving to write freelance. He was, for all intents and purposes, the top writer at the top company, responsible for a large chunk of their super-hero and romance lines. And he knew exactly where he stood in the pecking order. In a brushed camelhair coat and always freshly blocked Homburg, a bright and natty ascot as a dashing alternative to a tie, Bob was a fashion-plate, a teller of self-aggrandizing tall tales, a playboy, an often surprisingly good and creative writer, and a certified lunatic. There were too many Bob Konigsberg stories to tell, but the least bizarre of his traits included his habit, while writing during his lunch hours while still an editor, of suddenly leaping up on his desk, brandishing an umbrella or cane as a sword and sprouting ersatz Shakespearean dialogue at the top of his lungs, then calmly climbing back down to his seat and resuming his typing. His office mates thought he was eccentric. The headshrinkers at a psychiatric facility in Valley Stream thought he was a danger to himself or others. Twice. Once for sixty days, then again a year later for five months. Continue reading

Love Is A Many Splendored Thing

Old_BooksI love books.

I love to read them. I love to hold them in my hands as their stories and mysteries unfold for me with the turn of every page. I love to own them and to see them on the shelves of my bookcases. I especially love old books, the older the better, especially surprising little tomes from the 19th and early-20th centuries, often found for a few dollars at tag sales and library sales, books with solid, tooled covers over thick, luxurious pages, and engravings protected by sheets of vellum that have survived the journeys through the decades, many inscribed to recipients long, long gone.

I love books for the stories they tell and the worlds they open to me. And I love the people who write the books that I love so much. Some, of course, more than others.

Take F. Scott Fitzgerald. I fell in love with his Great Gatsby the first time I read it in high school. I loved it for its passion, for its power, for its evocation of a lost era (I was, I think, born a nostalgic), and, mostly, for its prose. (Although as much as I loved the book, I couldn’t–at the time–quite wrap my brain around why Jay Gatsby had it so bad for Daisy Buchanan. I mean, let’s face it, Daisy was a vapid twit, a thoughtless rich girl who could easily fit into a contemporary reality show. The Real Housewives of East Egg, anybody? But, I guess what Emily Dickenson wrote is true: “The Heart wants what it wants – or else it does not care.”) Continue reading

New Year’s Resolutions: A Sucker’s Game?

RobKelly-PK_9-13 copy
Crazy 8’s Paul Kupperberg and Hey Kids, Comics! editor Rob Kelly on the floor of 2013’s Baltimore Comic-Con!

The seconds tick down towards midnight. The old year is about to end, taking with it the previous 365 days worth of triumphs and regrets, hopes and fears. While we wait for the climatic moment, we think back on what was achieved in the year just past…and on our failures as well. But the turn of this particular calendar page is traditionally a time to wipe the slate clean and begin fresh. A new start in a new year.

Or not…

Once again, I take my turn in the Crazy 8 blog rotation as the voice of dissent. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions; I figure there are enough disappointments in my life that I don’t have to set myself up for additional failure based on some arbitrary flip of the calendar. ‘Cause, I mean, really, what says “resolve” better than alcohol-soaked musings in the middle of the forced jocularity of New Year’s eve celebrations? The only New Year’s Resolution that I ever kept beyond January 3rd was the resolution to stop making New Year’s Resolutions. Continue reading