Tuesday, 27 November 2012

I Need An Earth Girl! Vital questions answered.

I Need An Earth Girl by Stephen Walker
Available from Amazon.Com, Amazon UK
and Smashwords.
Hooray! Just as I release my startling new novella I Need An Earth Girl! noir maestro Paul D Brazill of You Would Say That, Wouldn't You? has given me an excuse to plug it by nominating me for the ME! ME! thingy that's doing the rounds. It seems the recipient has to answer the following ten questions and then pick on five other people to answer the same questions.

1. What is the title of your book?

I Need An Earth Girl!

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

After watching the first Dr Who Christmas Special, back in 2005, the one that introduced David Tennant, I said to myself, "I'm going to write one of those!" And so I did. Admittedly it took me seven years to finally get round to it but, as we all know, you can't rush genius.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Science Fiction. Some might label it Science Fantasy, as I'm perfectly happy to play fast and loose with the laws of Physics in order to achieve my ends. I think it's also probably Space Opera, although possibly on a more human scale than that title might threaten.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

All of the major characters are aliens. One is sort of a bird woman, another is an insectoid and another is an octopod, so I don't have a clue. Are there any actors out there with eight arms? Squid James?

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Sentenced to death, queen Petra 97 becomes a space adventurer but soon discovers that being an official heroine of the empire doesn't guarantee people will be pleased to see you

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It's out right now and it's self-published. My wild, independent streak sees to that.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I think it was two or three days. Normally I break a story down into scenes and then work my way through it a scene at a time, getting each one right before going onto the next. This time, I went straight through it from start to finish, as one piece of narration with no scene or chapter breaks.

Trouble was, when I read it back, I didn't like the effect and therefore completely rewrote it in my usual way, breaking it up and adding scene beginnings and endings.

Also, thanks to the initial method I'd used, I found there was a lot of telling and not showing going on. Therefore I had to totally restructure it in places to better dramatise the situations that were being described.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I can't think of any. I suspect that's more thanks to my ignorance rather then my having totally reinvented literature.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As I said, Dr Who did. Also, I quite fancied doing what I'd been doing with my Department of Occult Investigation stories but to do it in space, so I could do things on a bigger and more imaginative scale. There's also a couple of things in there that were my attempt to do a Jack Kirby.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Well, there's a fair bit of nudity - although none of it's by humans.

Most of all, I hope people'll like the fact it doesn't take itself too seriously. There are life and death matters involved and, of course, our heroine learns an important lesson about both herself and the universe but it does have a tongue-in-cheek side to it too. I think the characters are quite endearing. They're not like us. And yet, somehow, they are.

I Need An Earth Girl! can be downloaded from:
Amazon.Com, Amazon UK and Smashwords.

Cover credits: 
Teddy Bear 27 by Waugsberg (own photograph - eigene Aufnahme) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 

Earth From Space by NASA (Public Domain), via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Earth_from_Space.jpg 

Overall cover design, copyright Stephen Walker, 2012, available under Creative Commons License CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)

Argh! Now I have to nominate someone.

In that case I'll try nominating:
Ryan Harvey at the Realm of Ryan.
Craig Smith at the Fantasy/Reality World of a Writer.
Mercedes Ludill at MercedesLudillBooks.
David P Perlmutter at Wrong Place, Wrong Time.
Jeff Whelan of Jeff Whelan.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Charlton Comics.

Ghostly Tales, Charlton Comics
Many Ghosts of Dr Graves, Charlton Comics
Many Ghosts of Dr Graves, Charlton Comics
Many Ghosts of Dr Graves, Charlton Comics
Many Ghosts of Dr Graves, Charlton Comics
Many Ghosts of Dr Graves, Charlton Comics
Ghost Manor, Steve Ditko, Spiders
Ghost Manor, Charlton Comics
Ghostly Haunts, Charlton Comics
Ghostly Haunts, Charlton Comics
Ghostly Haunts, Charlton Comics
Midnight Tales, Charlton Comics
Midnight Tales, Charlton Comics
Midnight Tales, Charlton Comics
Midnight Tales, Charlton Comics
Midnight Tales, Charlton Comics
Midnight Tales, Charlton Comics
Midnight Tales, Charlton Comics
Midnight Tales, Charlton Comics
Yang, Charlton Comics
Yang, Charlton Comics
Yang, Charlton Comics
Yang, Charlton Comics
Yang, Charlton Comics
Ghostly Tales, Charlton Comics

E-Man, Charlton Comics

Twitter is a wonderful thing. With it I can find out eight times a day that Justin Bieber has died - and, nine times a day, that he's not. That Kristen Stewart has only one facial expression and that someone is saying terrible things about me if I only click on that link to find out who.

Through it, I've also created an army of mind-slaves who hang on my every @, # and RT. With them, like a bad Dr Who villain, I shall take total control of this planet.

But it's not all good news. As those followers could tell you, earlier today I made an attempt to write a post about Charlton Comics but then found I didn't have anything interesting to say about them. This is odd, as I have a lot of affection for them and have always loved a plucky underdog.

So, instead of pontificating, I shall just post the cover of every Charlton Comic that I recall having owned.

All I will say is:

1) Midnight Tales is my favourite Charlton comic. A book of strange and alluring charm.

2) I've always loved the covers Tom Sutton did for the company. I do feel he's a shamefully overlooked talent. His cover for The Many Ghosts of Dr Graves #45 is especially wonderful.

3) Speaking of which, I always loved the tale in that issue, where a wimp in Hell turns out to have a deadly secret.

4) I always loved the story from The Many Ghosts of Dr Graves #41, in which bright green druids are up to no good at Stonehenge. I got the comic in Lytham St Annes. That fact shouldn't make any difference to my liking for the mag but, somehow, it does.

5) I always loved the story from Ghostly Tales #107, in which some adventurers discover just who they've been travelling with. I first read that mag in the Woolworths restaurant, Blackpool - the big Woolworths near the Tower. This should make no difference to my feelings for the mag but somehow it does. I also first read Midnight Tales #7 at that very same sitting. This shouldn't make any difference to my liking for that mag but, somehow, it does.

6) I'm pretty sure the only issue of E-Man I ever owned contained an early John Byrne haunted house story featuring the robotic Rog-2000, which was always a favourite of mine.

7) I wish I could recall exactly what happens in the issue where Yang fights a Bigfoot.

8) Their strange crinkle-cut pages, not-quite glossy covers and not-always properly aligned printing marked Charlton mags out as clearly cheaper and technically inferior to the output of their slicker rivals at Marvel and DC but it also gave them a homespun charisma, like Robin Hood tweaking the beard of the Sheriff of Nottingham, and therefore made them all the more endearing.

Anyway, that's my thoughts over and done with. Any thoughts you may have on Charlton Comics are indeed welcome.

And, if you wish to know more about Charlton and its battles with the odds, you can find it here.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Stamping out that sort of thing.

Killraven Marvel Value Stamp #35
Black Panther Marvel Value Stamp #50
Brother Voodoo Marvel Value Stamp #20
Marvel Value Stamp
images from
Like Dracula, Steve Does Comics leaps from its grave.

Like the Harker family, they try to stop it with a steak through the heart.

Frankly, I get the feeling they aren't the finest vampire hunters the world can supply.

But it's coming up to Christmas - and that can mean just one thing.

Christmas cards.

And that can mean just one thing.

Envelopes.

And that can mean just one thing.

Stamps.

And that can mean just one thing.

Marvel Value Stamps.

And that can mean just one thing.

I didn't have any.

In fact, that's not true. I actually had three.

Well, OK, that's not true either. I had loads because I had loads of Bronze Age comics but I only had three that I ever dared to physically cut out of the comics and do something with.

I'm pretty sure that was because I had more than one copy of the comics in question and was thus willing to take the scissors to them.

Weird War Tales #24, clawing hands are met by the beckoning finger of death
See the dread fate that awaits those who seek out
Marvel Value Stamps!
The three I cut out featured the Black Panther, Killraven and Brother Voodoo and, in the absence of anywhere else to stick them, I glued them in my scrapbook, somewhere between those cards you used to get with PG Tips, and the copy I drew of this cover to Weird War Tales #24.

In fact I only copied the skeleton. I couldn't be bothered to draw the rest, so I instead drew him in the Time Tunnel

Why he was in there, I'm not totally sure but I like to feel it was a salutary reminder that death is everywhere, even in the Time Tunnel.

Happily, death isn't in The Star Maidens or I wouldn't be able to cope with life.

I was never actually sure just what one was supposed to do with Marvel Value Stamps. Was there a booklet you could buy to stick them in?

If so, I never heard anything about it. But I always suspected that the real reasons for the Marvel Value Stamps' existence was to make you buy two copies of every comic. One to keep, knowing it'd be worth a fortune some day, and one to cut to pieces. In this way would Marvel double their sales with little extra effort. What cunning devils they were.

Anyway, that's my heartwarming tale of Marvel Value Stamps. If you have any of your own, you know just where to post them.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

November 1972. Forty years ago today.

Hark! What's that I hear through my window?

Why, 'tis the gentle sound of fireworks exploding with the force of atom bombs.

It can only mean one thing. It's that time of year again. The one where we fling effigies of unpopular people on the bonfire and laugh as their faces melt.

Well that's all very well and good but what fireworks were our favourite Marvel heroes inflicting on us forty years ago?

Conan the Barbarian 20, Barry Smith

I remember this one dearly, as I spent quite some time, as an eleven year old, copying panels from it with my trusty pencil.

And, though I say it myself, I like to think I did a rather nifty Barry Smith impression.
Amazing Spider-Man 114, Hammerhead

Hammerhead makes his debut. A foe who always gave Spider-Man far more trouble than he should.

All Spidey had to do to beat him was remember to punch him in the stomach instead of the top of the head.

Did he ever learn that lesson?

No he didn't.
Avengers 105, Beast Brood

The Avengers come up against the Beast Brood.
Captain America and the Falcon 155

A tale with which I think I'm totally unfamiliar.

But does that blurb mean the world didn't gain its favourite super-soldier in the way we all thought it did?
Daredevil and the Black Widow 93, The Indestructible Man

DD's radar sense obviously on the blink there.

I did always wonder if the Black Widow's costume was made of leather or rubber.

I did finally come down on the side of rubber, even though leather was clearly more practical.
Fantastic Four 128

I have no recall of this one at all, even though I'm sure I must have read it in the pages of Captain Britain.
Incredible Hulk 157, the Rhino

Another of my favourites, as the Leader takes possession of the Rhino's body and still manages to mess up.
Iron Man 52, the Living Volcano

Poor old Iron Man. He really does seem to come up against a remarkable number of people who can melt things.
Thor 205, Mephisto

I've commented before on Thor's strange air of defeatism on most of his covers.

Here, it's got so bad he can't even be bothered to voice that defeatism. He'd rather just kneel there looking pitiful.

What a sorry sad-sack of a thunder god he really is.

But, blow me down, Sif's actually promising to be some use in a punch-up for once.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

November 1962. Fifty years ago today.

Hooray! Like an apocryphal teenager revived from an apocryphal coma by the apocryphal sounds of Justin Bieber, Steve Does Comics returns from its sleep to do its monthly duties.

But, speaking of duties, just what favours were our favourite Marvel heroes doing to society exactly fifty years ago?

Fantastic Four #8, the Puppet-Master

The Puppet-Master makes his debut.

I've always had a soft spot for The Puppet-Master. He always had a touch more creepiness about him than most of early Marvel's mind-controlling villains.

I've not read this one in years. Doesn't Sue get kidnapped, for the eighth issue running, and replaced by Alicia Masters who, although blind and a totally different woman, manages to fool the FF?
Incredible Hulk #4, Mongu

Thrill to the terror of Pingu Mongu!

Is the other story in this issue the one where the Hulk disguises himself as the Abominable Snowman to beat some evil commies and, in doing so, somehow proves himself to be smarter than Rick Jones?

It can't be easy being sidekick to the Hulk and knowing you're not even the brains of the outfit.
Journey Into Mystery 86, Thor and Zarrko the Tomorrow Man

Who needs Kang when you've got Zarrko the Tomorrow Man?
Strange Tales 102, the Human Torch vs the Wizard, man vs machine

A distinctly unhealthy looking Wizard waits to zap the Human Torch.

I'm more interested in Man vs Robot - mostly because I remember the time I once fought a robot.

Well, when I say, "robot," it was more a vacuum cleaner.

And I don't care what anyone says - I would've won if it hadn't been plugged in.
Tales to Astonish 37, Ant Man vs the Protector

I'm no expert but is "The Protector" really that good a name for a villain? It doesn't exactly scream, "Menace," at you.

He also seems to be wearing a beret.

And swimming goggles.

But it's good to see Ant-Man using his magnificent cannon. It's just what every super-hero needs; a device for firing you two feet through the air.
The Downward Slide, Stephen Walker, short story collection, red wolf moon

Thank you for your time. Steve Does Comics now returns to its coma until the weekend.

In the meanwhile, don't forget that my short story collection The Downward Slide is out now on Kindle. Six new tales of the supernatural that remind us we're all on the downward slide but some of us are getting there faster than others.

Amazon.Com.
Amazon UK.

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