Comic Book Preview: Anno Dracula 1895 – Seven Days in Mayhem #1

Over the years reviewing various books and comics, one of my favorite fictional characters is Anno Dracula created by author Kim Newman.  Now for the first time, Mr. Newman steps into the comic book world with Anno Dracula 1895 – Seven Days in Mayhem #1 with artist Paul McCaffrey.  I’m really excited about this vampire series.  If it’s anything like the many Anno Dracula novels, this should be a fun ride.

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Comic Preview: Invisible Hands # 1

Imagine: you’re working late at the hospital discussing recipes with a co-worker. You come into the possession of an x-ray that should be impossible, and the man whose head it supposedly depicts suddenly corners you, demanding your help. Around the same time, another patient’s head explodes.

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Comic Book Preview: Norman – First Slash #4

Grace comes back to haunt Norman.  That crazy kid Norman discovers a bunch of clone Grace’s created by Herbert.

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Anno Dracula 1899 and Other Stories

annodracula1899Over the years of reviewing various novels and comics for Retrenders, I’ve enjoyed reading the many tales of Kim Newman’s vampire creation Anno Dracula and world of characters around him.  “Anno Dracula 1899 and Other Stories” is a collection of short stories to get fans primed for the upcoming novel Anno Dracula 1899: Daikaiju.  Not only that, Titan Comics will kick-off a brand new Anno Dracula series by author Kim Newman and art by Paul McCaffrey launching in March 2017.

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Comic Book Preview: Norman #2.2

norman2200Are you tired of all the superhero comics out there on the comic book shelves?  Try some dark humor with cute kid Norman.  He is stirring horror-filled trouble again.

norman2201 [Read more…]

LOST IN THE SUN – A cultish San Francisco Indie Film

Retrenders - Lost in the Sun - Dan Bernstein - David Moutray - Marcus Sams - Jess Reich

Dan Bernstein (actor), Dave Moutray (director), Marcus Sams (actor) and Jess Reich (make-up)

I feel very fortunate to be one of the crew members of “Lost in the Sun“, a feature film with a mysterious cult happening that takes meditation of body, mind and the discipline of gazing at the sun ritually to transform one’s life. The only catch is that someone has gone missing through the process, and the cult of sun gazers are not exactly your typical sun gazers, and that’s about all I can tell you.

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The Art & Making of Penny Dreadful

pennydreadfulartbookI have to admit I only started watching this hit Showtime series only for Eva Green (Casino Royale, 300: Rise of an Empire), but I stayed for for the story and characters driving the “Penny Dreadful” program.  We are already knee-deep into the second season and Titan Books has just released “The Art and Making of Penny Dreadful”, the official companion book to the program.

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The Simon & Kirby Library: Horror!

simonkirbyhorrorIn today’s comic book shops and bookstores, it’s mostly superhero comics that dominate the shelves and racks.  It wasn’t like that during the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s of this bygone era where comic book creators branched into many genres like romance, westerns and science fiction.  Comic book legends Joe Simon and Jack Kirby are more known for their superhero work, but they also took the comic book medium to other genres and Titan Books publishes another neat collection from The Simon & Kirby Library:  Horror!

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Interview with Peter Cushing: A Life in Film Author David Miller

Peter Cushing Life in Film

To most in the U.S., Peter Cushing is not a household name. If presented a picture of Peter, one might recognize him as the main villain in the original Star Wars. Though to film buffs, Hammer Film fans, and to many in the U.K. and Europe, he is known as the brilliant and unforgettable English actor, with a career spanning 45 plus years, while playing a wide variety of characters from Dr. Van Helsing to Baron Frankenstein to Sherlock Holmes to Doctor Who. Author David Miller grew up in Britain as a fan of Cushing and, through his diligent and detailed research, we are presented with the authoritative guide to the actor’s career – Peter Cushing: A Life in Film. We are honored to get the chance to ask David Miller a number of questions on the amount of research it took for this biography, some of his favorite Cushing movies and characters, and to share with us a few memories on the devoted actor.

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Supernatural: Carved in Flesh

supernatural carved in flesh

The award winning sci-fi drama Supernatural has been following the Winchester brothers – Dean & Sam for 8 seasons on the CW as they hunt down demons, ghosts, and monsters.  And with the CW picking up the series for the 9th season there will be more thrilling adventures for Dean & Sam.  The young Winchester brothers lost their mother from a demonic figure and from that point on their father groomed them to fight supernatural evil.  Titan Books has released a series of novels with different authors in expanding the Supernatural universe and in “Carved in Flesh” by Tim Waggoner, this novel takes place during Season 7 of Supernatural.

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Jago by Kim Newman

jagokimnewmanAward-winning author Kim Newman’s Jago was published back in 1991, and now Titan Books has just re-release this classic horror story.  A hippie music festival takes place in the small English town of Adler.  Like any big rock music festival it divides the town into two camps, those who want the money it brings in and those who hate it, because of all the property damage and troubles it causes lead by Adler villager Danny Keough.  Many young people like Dolar and his caravan of friends attend the festival to party.  On vacation in the town of Adler, Paul is working on his “end of the world” thesis, while his girlfriend Hazel a potter, runs a pottery shop for a family on vacation.  And we find out that this rock festival is run by a religious cult the Agapemone and from within, Susan a British Secret Service agent is trying to find out who is the mysterious figure – Anthony William Jago.  As the music festival begins, urban legends, darkness, and evil is unleashed on the town of Alder.

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Interview with Anno Dracula Author Kim Newman

Critically acclaimed novelist Kim Newman is well known, not only for writing great storylines, but also blending together a wonderfully imaginative cast of characters for his books. For Dracula Cha Cha Cha, the third book in his Anno Dracula series, you’ll see all of this in full view in a world intertwined with fictional characters and real people in history, such as Ernest Hemingway, Michael Corleone, Audrey Hepburn, and Tintin. Mix them into 1959 Rome where Count Dracula is set to marry the Princess of Moldavia and what you get is a fun read for fans of horror, fiction, and parallel worlds.

Today, we’re honored to have author Kim Newman to take the time out and answer questions on the reissue of the Anno Dracula books, who his primary influences, and what we can expect in Johnny Alucard, the fourth book of the series.

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Anno Dracula: Dracula Cha Cha Cha by Kim Newman

These days, blood suckers are everywhere in popular culture – you’ll see vampires, zombies, and werewolves on the tube, in films, and in comics.  One of the most popular horror characters of all time is Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula and critically acclaimed novelist Kim Newman, takes the Count into an alternate universe where Van Helsing and friends failed to kill the famous vampire.  As a result, Dracula eventually takes over England, where vampires become part of the society at large.

Dracula Cha Cha Cha is the third book in the Anno Dracula series (Anno Dracula & Anno Dracula:  The Bloody Red Baron) and the setting is 1959 Italy, where Count Dracula is to wed the Princess of Moldavia Asa Vajda in Fregene, Italy.  Journalist Kate Reed intended to visit old “friends” Charles Beauregard and Genevieve Dieudonne in Rome, but gets wrap up in a murder mystery with secret agent Hamish Bond, where vampire elders are being murdered.  And the like the Anno books before it, Kim Newman is known for using historical settings of the time to move the plot, and the characters meeting famous historical people and popular fictional characters from that era.  The book has an added bonus short story – Aquarius with protagonist Kate Reed trying to solve 2 murders in London 1968. Journalist Kate plays detective and meets an enemy from the past.  And I liked the fact that there is also a chapter of Annotations explaining various references in the story.  If Twilight films are not your cup of tea, then you should definitely pick-up this bloody vampire book and may I also suggest reading Kim Newman’s first book Anno Dracula.

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Paperback:  Anno Dracula – Dracula Cha Cha Cha

Author:  Kim Newman

Publisher:  Titan Books

MSRP:  $14.95USD

Available:  October 26, 2012

Interview with Resident Evil: Retribution Author John Shirley

residentevilmoviebookA few weeks ago, the 5th film installment of the Resident Evil franchise opened in theaters plus the Resident Evil 6 video game will be released on October 2, 2012.  For fans who can’t get enough of Resident Evil, a book adaptation of Resident Evil: Retribution has also been released through Titan Books written by cyberpunk/sci-fi author John Shirley.  The book will showcase Alice and her team as they fight the powerful Umbrella Corporation and the deadly T-virus that has taken over the world.  We had the opportunity to ask the prolific writer a few questions where we discuss his favorite authors, recommended readings, and Milla Jovovich.

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RTNDR:  Before Titan Books had approached you to work on the Resident Evil: Retribution novelization, were you familiar with the franchise? Was there anything specific in the Resident Evil world, such as the characters or maybe the mix of horror and science fiction, that drew you to this project?

John Shirley:  I like writing novelizations, now and then, it’s fun to do, not terribly difficult for me since I have written scripts (eg, THE CROW) so I grasp pretty well what the scriptwriter intends visually. Certainly, horror novelizations are fun. And the novelization job gave me an excuse to watch all the Resident Evil movies, in preparation, which, in turn, gave me an excuse to watch the beautiful, scantily clad Milla Jovovich for hour after hour. Milla of course plays the main hero in Resident Evil, Alice. So how can I complain about that gig?

RTNDR:  You’ve also written both the Doom and Constantine film novelizations, so we were wondering, what is your process or how did you go about writing movie novelizations? Do you get a script of the movie beforehand or maybe even get to preview the film? Also, is there a lot of interaction between you and the film company?

John Shirley:  I get a script yes, but these days they are very close with their DVD previews because they don’t want them to be leaked on the internet … not that I would ever do that. As a scriptwriter myself, I’m not a fan of movie piracy . . .

They send me the shooting script and *usually* it’s the true shooting script, the final-final, but I remember with Doom they changed it anyway when I was well into the novelization so I had to rewrite it. But that’s all part of the business. And some interaction with the film company may be part of novelizing, but usually there is an intermediary at the publisher. They forward any questions I may have. I try to familiarize myself with the franchise, so I don’t have too many questions. Nowadays there are “wikis” that give a lot of information, so I rely on the fans who organize those too. They’re usually accurate. But in the case of Doom I had played all the games and related games already; in the case of Constantine I was aware of the John Constantine (Hellblazer) comics. The movie diverged from the comics but the character was pretty close in a lot of ways. Of course, Keanu Reaves’ character was American, not British as the original John Constantine was. I later wrote a couple of John Constantine: Hellblazer novels for Pocket Books. You can still find them on Amazon … and those I based purely on the comic books. It’s the British John Constantine. So I’ve “novelized” two separate versions of the character John Constantine. And in one of the books I explain (somewhat humorously) the discrepancy between them, in an indirect way.

I work from the script by visualizing scenes and then turning them into prose, but also — especially with an action-oriented story like Resident Evil — I have to flesh it out, create some new characters, get into new point of views, find ways to explore the back stories of the main characters without contradicting what we know about them. It can be tricky. I always work to flesh the story out “organically”, so it’s all of a piece and natural and creatively done, rather than “padding” it. That is, I do my very best to write the novel so everything is entertaining and creative, and not just something to fill out the book.

I sometimes order related book material — eg, I ordered a big book about Resident Evil, a sort of guidebook, to use as a source, but I had to be clear on the way the Resident Evil movies differ from the game Resident Evils. Fans of the games seem to really like the movies — but they’re aware that they’re not completely consistent in all their character histories, arc and so on with the games. It’s as if the games and films take place in parallel but separate universes. So I had to keep all that in mind …

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