The Gentlemen Ghouls

I was excited to learn that my friend Bram Meehan is involved in a graphic novel project that combines monsters of rock and monsters from Hell. The graphic novel is The Gentlemen Ghouls: The Apocalypse Trilogy, which is an acclaimed high-camp horror comics series in the lurid Hammer tradition. It has just launched a 30-day Kickstarter campaign for a deluxe print and PDF edition. The comic from writer Martin Hayes and artist Alfie Gallagher was originally serialized online in David Lloyd’s Aces Weekly. The 132-page softcover collects all three volumes plus a new short story and afterword. My friend Bram serves as the graphic novel’s letterer.

Set in 1972, the graphic novel depicts London as a swirling cesspit of vice and corruption, one giant madhouse full to bursting—with David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath soundtracking the greatest battle between good and evil ever beheld by mortal man. When sinister gears turn and apocalyptic machinations play out, two aging consulting occultists, a couple of ham-fisted coppers, and a rebellious reporter must confront vampires, demons, the occasional rock star, and the Devil himself to keep all bloody Hell from coming to Earth. Three chapters each take their cue from a classic rock song, combining heavy metal with a seedy seam of seventies cop shows and occult mischief. The comic makes me think of what would have happened if Kolchak: the Night Stalker had been filmed by Hammer studios.

According to writer Martin Hayes, “I’ve always wanted to do something that would hit the big Hammer touchstones of monsters, vampires, and devil worship, and I couldn’t resist throwing in the best parts of the gritty British cop shows that we used to pick up with our extra-high aerials here on the east coast of Ireland.” Artist Alfie Gallagher adds, “we’re not going for po-faced serious horror, it’s campy glammy trashy hi-jinx with figures and symbols from horror crashing through the grubby setting of London 1972— and it’s been a hell of a lot of fun.”

Go to http://gentlemenghouls.com/ to get in on the campaign. The book is completed and ready for print and electronic distribution at the conclusion of the Kickstarter. Additional rewards include a digital publication with 50 pages of behind-the-scenes art process, original art, and commissioned sketches. Stretch goals include a sheet of six stickers and two beer mats inspired by the world of The Gentlemen Ghouls. I have already contributed to the campaign and if you enjoy monsters and rock, you’ll want to take a look.

Bram Meehan who lettered the Gentlemen Ghouls also lettered my debut comic, Guinevere and the Stranger. Lettering is an underappreciated art in comics. It’s the letterer’s job to make sure the word balloons flow naturally so you read the dialogue in the right order. You need to see the words when they’re critical, but they can’t hide the wonderful art. Bram not only lettered my comic, but he helped me develop the script, effectively serving as my editor. You can pick up a copy of my comic at: https://hadrosaur.com/GuinevereStranger.php.

Also, a Kickstarter project has just gone live to fund two steampunk anthologies and one dieselpunk anthology. I have stories in all three books! I’ll discuss this project in more detail on Saturday, but if you want to take a look and be an early backer, it’s at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/e-specbooks/full-steam-ahead

Music Through the Ages

Even if I hadn’t been working this year, I’m not the kind of person to stand in line for Black Friday deals. That said, I did take advantage of one Black Friday special this year and I’m glad I did. It was the download of Abney Park’s New Nostalgics and in retrospect, I would have been pleased with this album if I’d paid full price for it. This album is comprised entirely of songs from the early 20th century covered in modern style by the band Abney Park. There are songs about airships, burlesque halls, and how people who built the modern world often aren’t the ones who see its benefits. What makes the download really special is a 20-minute “documentary” by the band’s lead singer and songwriter, Robert Brown, where he plays snippets of the old recordings of the songs and then follows that with how he updated them for a modern audience. You can pick up the album in the music downloads section at http://abneypark.com/market/

Music has always been an important part of my writing. Often, when I write, I like to have instrumental music on in the background that captures the mood of what I’m trying to create. In fact, one of the things I like about Abney Park is that they provide instrumental-only versions of many of their albums and I use those a lot when I’m writing steampunk or retrofuturistic fiction. I also like to collect soundtracks of favorite films or TV shows. Listening to those can be a great way for me to get into the proper mindset for a given scene, whether it be romance, action, or suspense.

While I prefer to listen to instrumental music while I’m in the process of writing, I love listening to songs from a period of time I’m going to write about as part of my research for historical fiction. It provides a valuable window into the things that brought joy and sadness to previous generations. You can often catch slang terms people might have used. If you catch an odd turn of phrase in an old song, it’s often worth looking it up to see if it had a broader meaning. Maybe it’s something you can use in your story. In setting a scene, I often like to describe the kinds of music people are listening to. Even if I don’t mention a particular song, I like to mention the kinds of instruments people heard.

That covers the past, but what about the future? While part of me loves it when a science fiction character espouses their love of David Bowie or Dolly Parton, part of me groans. While I hope these artists will still be known two or three centuries down the road, I’m pretty sure they won’t be mainstream. People in the future will be writing and singing their own songs. They’ll write about their own heroes, like Jayne in Firefly’s “The Hero of Canton” or the ballads sung about Edmund Swan in my novel The Pirates of Sufiro. There will be new musical forms and maybe even alien instruments. As a writer, you don’t necessarily have to write these songs, but you can add some color by mentioning them and talking about how they make the characters in your story feel.

With that, it’s time for me to go listen to some good music and find some inspiration. If you would like to see how I write about futuristic music, you can read The Pirates of Sufiro by subscribing to my Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/davidleesummers