East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

My new project – back from the dead after 82 years


I have just mailed a signed contract and then I’ll start working seriously on the outline of a 10.000-words story that promises to be fun to write, challenging, and might be the start of a series. Which is a nice way to try and dispel the lethargy this lockdown brought about.
What happened was this: Pro Se Productions, a publisher so reckless they even publish my stories (I mentioned Explorer Pulp a few days back, but there’s more), apparently went and licensed forty-two characters that were intended to form the stable of a little-known pulp magazine publisher based in St Louis, Missouri, a fly-by-night publishing company that was born and fizzed out in a matter of a few months, back in ’38. And I say “were intended” because the whole thing was over before it began, transitioning in the blink of an eye from the newsstands to the hazy memory of footnotes in pulp-collectors’ fanzines.

The project was made official today, when Pro Se’s editor in chief, Tommy Hancock, posted…

Pro Se intends to bring all seven magazine titles back initially, each one as a book, an anthology. Each will feature a story for all the characters that reportedly debuted or would have debuted in the original pulps in the order in which they first appeared. The intent is to publish these seven new collections over the next twelve to eighteen months, twelve being the target. Following this ‘re debut’, we would then most definitely do novels, anthologies, digest novels, and even standalone digital short stories of the characters and expand them in their own series.

The properties in the bundle, from what I saw, are a curious mix of rip-off and originality, and one wonders what would have been their future had the publisher not gone belly up. Some would not have survived, probably – but on the other hand, would somebody back in the day have bet a penny on the success of an over-the-top character like The Spider?
And really, the eccentricity of the catalog of heroes and heroines is part of what makes this project so exciting.

A good example of the mixed bag of characters in the property is the the one I will be writing about, a female Japanese private eye operating in America. I mean, this character was dreamed up in 1938, when Torchy Blane (a female investigative reporter) and Mr Moto (a Japanese Interpol detective) were all the rage. Did somebody play mix-and-match?
But in fact, the end result is a great concept.
I love it and I am very happy of being the one that will have to handle this story, but also one has to admit, a character that, had not the publisher tanked, would probably have fallen out of favor quickly anyway, considering what history had in store for the Japanese in the US. After all, look at Mr Moto – a smash hit, and yet the series died in a matter of months as US/Japan relations soured.

But in fact the character is not just a rip-off of two popular movie franchises of the time – indeed, the concept has its own eccentricities and twists (that I won’t discuss here because I want you to read my story) making it quite intriguing and original, and different … and here I am, now, drawing an outline – and it’s always challenging and exhilarating to work on somebody else’s concepts and characters, giving them a second chance at living thrilling adventures for the entertainment of the public.
One comes to appreciate – almost – what animates fan-fiction writers.
But this is a lot better than fan–fiction.

Another thing that makes this project exciting, for me, is the company I’ll be keeping…

42 writers have signed on to be a part of this project. The writers involved are-
Ron Fortier, Melinda Lafevers, E. W. Farnsworth, Adrian Delgado, Ariel Teague, Joshua Pantalleresco, Troy Osgood, Atom Mudman Bezecny, Andrew Butters, Rich Steeves, Raymond Embrack, HC Playa, Davide Mana, Quenntis Ashby, Paul Brian McCoy, Richard B. Wood, Colin Joss, Mark Bousquet, Derrick Ferguson, Sean Taylor, Neal Litherland, Susan Burdorf, Gary Phillips, Barry Reese, Frank Schildiner, Rob Howell, Gordon Dymowski, Richard C. White, Ernest Russell, Thomas Fortenberry, David Farris, Barbara Doran, Aaron Bittner, David White, Erik Franklin, Mike Hintze, Guy Worthey, Emily Jahnke, Mandi M. Lynch, Derek M. Koch, Aubrey Stephens, and Dewayne Dowers.

Yes, there’s my name in there, together with a few legends of new pulp, and quite a few guys on whose books I’ve spent my hard-earned money in the last few years.

And yes, of course I thought about this when I got the notes from the publisher about the character…

And while this song and this video have nothing to do with the story I am planning, it’s hard not to hear the tune in my head as I doodle on my notebook…

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

5 thoughts on “My new project – back from the dead after 82 years

  1. Pingback: Sensor Sweep: Wanderer’s Necklace, A. Bertram Chandler, Hyperborea RPG – Herman Watts

  2. Looking forward to seeing the finished product!


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