NOTES FROM THE AUTHOR
For The Reader, and for the PRESS
1. ABOUT CREATING THE PROJECT
HITMAN FOR THE DEAD is a new departure for me. I’ve always been known for humor – for my own, odd specialized style of funny: surreal, wacky, sardonic stuff – and that was fun.
This new series of mine is probably as far in tone and form from my older work as can be. I wanted to write something different. Shuffle the deck. Experiment. What would it be like if I wrote a serious story? Would my audience take to it? Did I still have an audience?
I mentioned while on a convention panel, a few years back, that I still had 47 loyal followers. Other artists were each talking about their fan base. The audience stared back at me blankly. It must have been my serious, matter-of-fact and almost sad tone of voice. The other panelists turned and looked at me. I leaned back over to the mike and said: “…and they are all Ronin.” A few laughed. It was a joke but rather obscure and mediocre perhaps.
And I needed a new audience. There was noting wrong with my old audience. They were still there. Somewhere out there. But they had already read my books and I needed a new following because Dark Horse was coming out with a 400 page Flaming Carrot Omnibus reprinting about half my old stories in the fall. My books had been out of print for way too long and I had to find my new readers. The title Flaming Carrot just didn’t sound like it would have the fish jumping in the boat. It was a hard sell when it first came out, and now there was a lot more competition.
I had a hunch that HITMAN FOR THE DEAD – if I did it right – pulled it off – made a splash with it – that I would stir up interest in me amongst new readers and get the attention of my old readers. It could make for a collateral promotion of the new Carrot books. At least that’s the plan.
So I started writing in early June. I had the skeleton of a story in a 32-page comic book script that I came up with a while back but I’m a slow writer. I had to jam it day and night, call on friends with editing skills and I had to fly through it. As it evolved, I became more and more intrigued, more confident, more obsessed.
It was an unusual story, one that would compliment what I had done before: odd and offbeat – and yet delve into another direction. I went for it and it all started coming together.
The supernatural elements in my story needed to work for me to keep it interesting. I chose to deal with the those elements by creating a very non-standard character that contrasted marvelously with them.
I chose a protagonist with an unglamorous, blue-collar lifestyle. The idea of doing a “off the rack”, flat and cardboard hero, going around doing good deeds, petting dogs and saving damsels and children would be easier – but really – harder for me. I think I would have been “stuck” and grinding to a halt a lot more with a character that just didn’t interest me.
For Harken, the rituals and the murders were more a chore and a routine than a crusade or a quest. He was not a typical do-gooder but more of a regular, everyday sort of lout, trapped in a film-noir existence by his own poor life choices, excesses and bad, bad luck.
The idea of a knock-about-guy bumming around the country, doing investigations into evil behavior, killing bad guys and then selling their shit on E-Bay… well that works for me.
I felt it would be fun to write a ner-do-well wanderer in real life, a unhinged vagabond with a vague and dubious higher calling… that also pays well. It seemed to be a perfect adolescent daydream. He gets to wander, he gets to have a secret, and he gets to carry deadly weapons, lurk in the shadows, and evade the police…. cool…
My dark humor would come in handy, and my eye for details and the personal experience. I always enjoyed that aspect of details and realism with writers like Joseph Conrad and Emile Zola. In effect, a juvenile fantasy told with hard-core authenticity, along the lines of two of my favorite movies; BONNIE AND CLYDE and BLUE VELVET.
Anyways, I had a lot of fun with it. In order to “pull it of”, a writer has to believe in what he doing, get his pep up… even if it’s a total turd. Even if it’s a turd in the punchbowl at the part, everyone staring at it.
Once it’s done and in the can, you can be more realistic. (So here goes.) Believe it or not, I got this thing done in a couple of weeks, four of five of them. But in enough time to get it printed and out there to the big convention in San Diego, (but not in enough time to get it just perfect). So I apologize for any typos and grammar fails.
I still like this story a lot, but it remains to be seen of its back to the salt mines of humor for me or onward and upward. I will never abandon humor of course but I had to give this a try.
If anyone in the press wants a digital version of the HITMAN FOR THE DEAD story for review please email me at email@example.com.
And please do understand that this website and the book were put in play with haste, in order to get the ball rolling before and during San Diego Comic Con, and I imagine that there are a sprinkling of typos and mistakes. Please endure, and have faith that we will improve and evolve. Feel free to send me and observations, corrections or opinions. Perhaps the typos can be a fun “Where’s Waldo” type thing?
Thanks for looking.
PS/ We rushed to get this out before ComicCon and will be selling it there. I probably won’t have a table there – at least I don’t have one right now – but it will be for sale at the Dark Horse booth – and who knows, I may have a booth somewhere hooked up with some of my old friends.
We have a facebook page we’re trying to get up and its called Between The Winds https://www.facebook.com/BetweenTheWinds but I’m still working on it now. It should be operational by SDCC.
ONE CLARIFICATION: Please be informed that this book is not a SDCC or San Diego Con Exclusive product nor is it exclusive to SDCC. It will be available (while supplies last) at other cons, including DragonCon and New York, if Bob makes it there again this year!
We have been receiving a number of queries if this was an Exclusive for SDCC. Or if it would be available by mail or at other shows. Exclusives for the San Diego Comic Convention must actually be submitted to a board and the SDCC Exclusive is a very coveted and collectable product line and a very proprietary and well protected brand.