Doc Wilde Update: Running Late, Still Working On It…

WILDEmadskullCoverMockup

Advance cover mock-up by Gary Chaloner

Okay, the bad news first: Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull, which was targeted for release right about now, ain’t ready yet.

There have been delays at both ends, writer and artist. I’m not satisfied with the manuscript as it stands and have been trying to wrestle it into its proper form while also dealing with matters related to importing my lovely lass Nydia and her son from Brazil and installing them in my cave, getting married, and preparing all the paperwork for immigration in order to make Nyd legal so that Donald Trump doesn’t spaz out about it on Twitter and sic the DHS on us. Meanwhile, Gary Chaloner has had a lot on his plate that has slowed his progress on the art and book design.

But, we’re still at it, and other Wilde adventures are in the works. For one, I have a chunk of the third book, Doc Wilde and The Dance of the Werewolf, already written and Gary will be getting a jump on the cover design for that. For another, he is about to begin publishing a quarterly comic magazine, Adventure Illus., which will focus on his comic book work and characters but which will also feature serialized original Doc Wilde stories. More news on that as it happens.

Now, I’m gonna relax and enjoy my family the rest of the year, then really get cranking again in January to get all this Wilde goodness out to the folks raring to see it.

Happy Holidays to you all. Stay Wilde!

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See The Cover Art For DOC WILDE AND THE MAD SKULL!

WILDEmadskullCoverMockup

I am thrilled, at long last, to reveal to you oh so patient readers the cover design for Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull, the long-delayed second Wilde adventure novel. The art is, naturally, by the great Gary Chaloner. This is in grayscale, of course. The final version will be in glorious color.

In this book, my long-awaited follow-up to Doc Wilde and the Frogs of Doom (KIRKUS REVIEWS: “Written in fast-paced, intelligent prose laced with humor and literary allusions ranging from Dante to Dr. Seuss, the story has all of the fun of old-fashioned pulp adventures…”) the Wildes face a sinister mystery and a truly bizarre villain in a battle that rages from New York City to a scorching wasteland and maybe into the realms of death itself…

The book is suitable for all ages. Publication planned for the Christmas season.

Also, those snakes? Fire snakes. As in snakes made of fire.

Get ready to Go Wilde again!

The Once & Future Wilde: GREAT News About The Doc Wilde Series!

Wilde Adventure!

Today, I get to share some huge news with you about the future of Doc Wilde.

As you may know, the first book in the series, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, was published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in 2009. It was very well reviewed and sold well enough that Putnam contracted me for two more books toward building a regular series. The safe (and possibly sane) course of action would have been to stick with Putnam and all the benefits of publishing with a big house. My experience with Putnam was largely positive, and I’d beaten the odds by landing with them in the first place. But…

But I wasn’t satisfied with the book Putnam put out or their support of it. There were some editorial dictates I allowed myself to be persuaded to follow that I felt weakened the story, the book was pigeonholed by the publisher as a middle-grade work rather than a tale for all ages as I intended, and the publisher put very little effort or money into promotion (this is, alas, mostly par for the course these days).

Additionally, I was simply more ambitious about the Wildes than Putnam was, and had wanted the books to be fully illustrated. With this in mind, before I’d even finished writing the book I’d sought and found the perfect artist for it, a hellaciously talented Aussie named Gary Chaloner. Gary read what I’d written to that point and fell in love with the characters and agreed to join the Wilde team. While I finished the book, he put a lot of time and work into getting the characters just right, and I loved his take on my heros. A fellow pulp-fan, Gary understood the Wildes in his bones, and his images were dynamic and clever and made my story look good. The picture atop this post is one of his.

When they bought Frogs of Doom, Putnam disregarded all the work Gary had already done and my aspiration for nicely illustrated volumes. The book they put out replaced illustrations with goofy typographical effects in the text which made it look expressly aimed only at younger readers, and while the painted cover was nice, it did not capture my characters as I saw them and I never got so much as an email consultation with the artist.

Doc Wilde, 1st edition

Now, that’s not unusual, not many authors actually have much say in the covers that get stuck on their books. But since I’d been through months of collaborative effort with my artist of choice, who had labored meticulously to honor my vision, I was naturally even more dissatisfied by the outcome.

So, inspired by the independent publishing revolution, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I managed to work some loophole sorcery and not only wriggled out of the contract for the next two books but regained full rights to Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom. I brought Gary back on board and we set out to create the books I’d wanted all along. After lots of work and some delays, in 2013 we rereleased the first book in a gorgeous new edition that was not only packed with great Chaloner artwork but also featured my preferred, extended “Author’s Cut” of the story.

DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM

Working with Gary on this book was the most enjoyable creative collaboration I’ve ever had, and the resulting volume is a thing of beauty. Unfortunately, just after its publication, Gary was forced to resign from the series due to scheduling concerns. This was a crushing blow, but I rallied and hired a new artist, Tess Fowler, which was a terrible mistake. She took my money and dragged ass for months without producing anything but a few rough sketches then, as we approached the originally agreed upon release window, threw a neurotic fit and ceased all communications. She kept the cash. I later found out that I’m not the only victim of this sort of behavior on her part.

Being ripped off by Tess Fowler didn’t just cost me money, it cost me all the months she was allegedly working on the next book. And it triggered my depression, which I’ve battled for years, making further progress impossible for many months more. All the creative and logistical issues of creating these books were further exacerbated by the anxiety of my trust betrayed and depression’s leaden shroud. I entered a period of convalescence, realizing I needed to get a handle on my daily life again before I could even begin to think about getting back to work on the Wilde books.

Well, the time has come to get back on that buckin’ bronco. The Doc Wilde series is finally continuing. And the really big news is: Gary Chaloner is back as the official Wilde artist!

HURRAY!

Gary is still very busy, so we’re taking it at a slower pace than originally intended, but it’s worth it to do these books right. The new release schedule will be a new Doc Wilde book every year. This will allow him to fit Wilde work into his schedule without overwhelming him, and it will allow me to alternate Doc Wilde books with other writing projects.

We plan to release the second book, Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull, by Christmas 2016, with a yearly release around the same time each year thereafter. And we hope you’ll join us on all our adventures for years to come…

ADVENTURE!

GREED: The Fine Art of Sticking It To Your Readers

As a writer, there is nothing more sacred to me than the connection between the teller of tales and those he tells them to. I write because I want to be read, and read by as many people as possible. There is, of course, a practical aspect to all of this, because to make a living at this craft requires a lot of readers. But there are far easier jobs to do which are generally a lot more lucrative, and the sharing of stories and ideas is the primary currency I crave.

Not everyone shares this philosophy. Samuel Johnson said “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money,” and to a degree that’s solid advice, especially in a time when so many folks try to wrangle writers into writing for free in order to get “exposure.” But if cash itself is a writer’s raison d’être, their muse is a whore and there’s a good chance they’re a hack.

As a reader, I’ve always despised publishing tricks that create scarcity in order to squeeze more money out of some readers while keeping material out of most readers’ hands. For example, an expensive “exclusive limited edition” of an author’s book which includes a story that’s not in the generally available edition and won’t be available anywhere else. It’s true that this rewards devoted fans willing to spring for something special, but it also punishes devoted fans who may not be able to afford the book. “If you love me and want to read everything I write, o wonderful reader, you will buy this exclusive collectible. Otherwise, screw you.”

To be clear, I have no problem with cool collectibles. I love beautiful limited editions, all autographed and bound-in-cloth (like a real goddamned hardback) and illustrated and such. It’s the exclusivity of content that I take issue with. That’s disrespectful to your fans, the most important people in the world to a writer, the people who most want to read your work. Why cheat them of the chance?

This applies to pricing, too. While “what the market will bear” is a fine principle for corporate mercenaries, it can be a harsh metric when applied to the dynamic between writer and reader. A writer I know is writing a series of adventure novels about a popular character that I would love to have on my shelf, and support this author’s work, but the publisher prices the paperbacks at $25 and the hardbacks at $40 and I just can’t afford them. Such pricing is unnecessary; Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom is fully illustrated and I published it at $12. Even allowing for licensing costs, the prices for my friend’s books err dramatically toward favoring the publisher over the reader.

The worst case of this sort of thing I have ever seen is a new book featuring a crowd of classic pulp heroes in a shared adventure, a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen kind of thing. As you all know, I love pulp and I’m innately interested in this sort of thing. The book looks to be huge and extravagant and loaded with illustrations, a gorgeous artifact for any library. But the lowest price for one of these volumes is $200. And the highest price?

$15,000.

How fucking ludicrous can you get?

I don’t begrudge the writer or publishers the extravagance of their book. If they want to sell an elite edition of it for fifteen grand, and someone wants to buy it, that’s awesome. And even the version at $200 may be worth the price for collectors if the book is beautifully (and expensively) made. But publishing it without a less expensive point of entry for the vast majority of possible readers, especially the very pulp fans this was presumably written for, is unfortunate. It also limits the potential size of the author’s fanbase to a small pool of folks willing and able to fork over a lot of cash.

When he wrote this book, did the writer do it because he loved the art of telling stories, and wanted to reach readers? Or did he just see an opportunity to squeeze money from the collectibles market? Because it really looks like the latter.

Me, I want to reach all the people I can. I want to treat my readers, and potential readers, with the sort of respect I hope to receive as a reader myself. I’d rather sell two thousand books at $12 each than a thousand at $25. I’d rather be read by a thousand people than a hundred. And I’d never participate in a stunt that kept my work from being accessible to most of the folks who might want to read it.

If your favorite book is a checkbook you may disagree.

In Which An Artist Discovers DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM

DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM

About a month ago, artist Giancarlo Fusco read my novel Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom and gave it sort of a micro-review on Facebook:

Just finished reading Doc Wilde and the Frogs of Doom… FUN book! If you’re a fan of Indiana Jones or the Incredibles, grab a copy by Tim Byrd. Felt the need to do a quick sketch of Doc Wilde himself… #drawing #illustration #3coffeeslater

Doc Wilde sketch

Giancarlo contacted me, asking for my permission to do a Wilde picture for his portfolio, which I, of course, gave. A few days ago, he produced the finished piece, and it’s pretty nice.

Wilde Adventure

You can find more of Giancarlo’s work here.

You Have Failed This Series: Why ARROW Kinda Sucks

Arrow

I want to love Arrow, I really do.

Green Arrow has always been one of my favorite DC heroes, and I’m thrilled that he’s got his own very successful TV show which, to be fair, is a damn sight better than it might have been. But that doesn’t mean that it’s as good as it should be.

My relationship with the show has run hot and cold. I watched the first seven episodes and quit. Later, during the second season, several friends recommended I give it another try, reassuring me it had gotten a lot better, so I went back and watched everything from the point I’d stopped. And I was glad I did, because it was getting better, and by the end of second season, it was pretty great. I went into the third season excited to see what the show’s creators would do next, and then things got painful.

Eleven episodes in, basically halfway through the season, I quit again. That was several weeks ago, and this week I decided to give it another chance to get better again, and I’ve now watched up through the season’s thirteenth episode, “Canaries.” And it’s still not must-see TV.

Before getting into what’s wrong with the show, I want to mention some things that are right about it… Continue reading

DOC WILDE: “The Best Doc Savage Book Since 1949!”

Wilde Adventure!

Most readers of this blog are aware of the fact that  my Doc Wilde books are, at least to some degree, a love letter to the old hero pulps of the thirties and forties, especially to Lester Dent’s great Doc Savage (who was also a primary influence on Superman, Batman, and many other characters as diverse as James Bond and the Fantastic Four). In recent times, a Doc Savage movie has been planned, to be directed by Shane Black (writer of Lethal Weapon, writer/director of the superlative Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3).

Last week, my friend William Preston (himself an amazing author and Doc Savage fan) pointed me to a website whereon another fan of the Man of Bronze is tracking and commenting on developments related to the movie and to Doc Savage in general. Somewhere along the way, he read my novel Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, and this was his reaction:

It’s obvious to me Tim Byrd is the most qualified person to write or consult on a new Doc Savage film. He gets Doc Savage. He’s modified and adapted the Doc Savage oeuvre for his young adult literature needs but what he takes and how he uses it is pretty darn awesome. His story constantly moves forward, stuff happens, thought and research are combined as if by Lester Dent magic, and great Doc Savage details large and small come into play…

Mr. Black, Shane, Dude, hire Tim Byrd to write your movie for you.

Further down the page, he posted this:

Best Doc Savage Book Since 1949!

This is very gratifying to me. While I consider Doc Wilde to be very much his own man, and in spite of his many similarities to Doc Savage he is also quite different, there is still that strong current of homage crackling through the stories. So having other fans of the old pulps respond to my work in this way tells me I’m doing the job I set out to do.