Thursday, July 30, 2020

Get the Pulp Mindset!

Find it Here!

It's been a long month and, as it draws to a close, I'm going to end it on a big note. This might be a long and hot summer, but there is some good to come out of it!

Finally, today is the day we've been waiting for. The Pulp Mindset is out for everyone on amazon. This guide has been in the works for awhile and now I can finally show you just what I've been working on behind the scenes for the past couple of months. It's a guide for new creatives who wish to understand just how to approach art in the modern age, and for those who wish to understand just what this NewPub thing is about. You can find it on amazon here.

A short description:

Out with the Old, in with the NewPub 
Nobody reads anymore. In an age where audiences consume more art than ever before, books have remained irrelevant to the ever-changing West. Nothing seems to change this unavoidable reality. The industry is over. 
Or is it? 
A new frontier has opened where anything goes! We live in a pulp landscape now, a place where the past and present comes together to create a better future. In this book you will learn just what this NewPub world is, how to adapt to it, and change the way you think about everything. 
The Rules Have Changed! 
You can do anything! The Pulp Mindset will help you adapt to this crazy climate and become the best artist you can be. Read on and join the revolution!

The seed for this idea started when I submitted an essay to authors' Misha Burnett's and Ben Cheah's upcoming Pulp On Pulp collection of non-fiction essays for writing pulp-inspired fiction in the modern day. When I finished my piece up and sent it off for submission, other ideas started swimming in my mind related to the topic. I began taking notes and drew up a rough outline in between other projects. Before I knew it, I was already hip deep in the waters of The Pulp Mindset which had exploded beyond that one single essay. The entire project came together remarkably fast, and now here it is out ready for aspiring pulpsters!

Never let it be said that pulp speed is impossible to achieve. This entire book is proof that it absolutely can be reached.

There are eight chapters in the book, each centered on an important aspect of NewPub that needs explaining to upcoming authors and current writers too reliant on the decayed system of OldPub. I wanted to make this entire work as clear and concise as picking up an old beat up yellowing paperback would be, matching the feel and pace of a pulp novel while still delivering important information that can be used to achieve a productive mindset. There's no droning on and on here: the book gets to the point quick.

It needs to, because we need to make reading cool again in order to get people reading again. And nothing was cooler than the pulps. Nothing ever will be.

A lot has been lost since the pulps ruled the roost back in the early 20th century. Much slander and libel has taken place to tear them down and insist their influence was only ever harmful to writing nd storytelling. However, as the years have gone on it is the pulp that endures while the gimmicks and fads fade away to obscurity for the next big thing. The mutations that have attempted to subvert pulp have all died off.

How often have you heard that John W. Campbell "rescued" science fiction from the disgusting cesspool of the pulps that those filthy normies read? How he brought in a golden age that sold less, had less cultural impact, and is now in the process of being erased from his own industry. Meanwhile, pulp writing remains stronger than its been in ages.

There is something there beyond the old cliches of the pulps, something OldPub wanted to bury, and it is about time that it is reclaimed. Those of us in NewPub can, and will, bring it back.

At this point, it is inevitable.

John W. Campbell's career as seen from OldPub's perspective. NewPub is going to reverse it.

But I've already talked a lot about OldPub. I fact, I might spend a bit too much time devoted to its failings on this blog. This is why I used more time in the book writing on NewPub instead. What else is there to say about a zombie industry, anyway? It's over.

For one, OldPub is already eating itself through purity tests and creating stricter and stricter rules on who is allowed to write what before they are published and placed in their nearly empty bookstores. Be sure to check your skin color or what private parts you have equipped because that matters more than what you have to say as a human being.

And those who helped spearhead this change over the course of the 20th century? Well, they are being airbrushed out as we speak. While they were useful weapons to destroy whole fields to the result of less and less people reading every day, despite the highest literacy rates in history, they continue to eat each other in an attempt to seize control of their nearly empty, dirty sandbox that long ago once used to be a beautiful beach.

Soon there will be nothing left but a gravel pit, and no one is going to be left to mourn them.

This is the reward you get from all that subversion.

And we aren't going to mourn them, because we have something better. We have NewPub, and we have the Pulp Mindset.

As I mentioned, each chapter covers a different subject. The first explains just what OldPub and NewPub are and why the difference matters. We then go in straight to just what the titular Pulp Mindset is and why you need to have it to succeed in this new wild frontier. These first two chapters form the backbone of the work in showing both the issue with modern writing and just how to fix it with a mindset shift.

But we don't stop there. The next three chapters focus on three different areas of writing, all of which are invaluable to understanding how to operate in NewPub. Because you can't quite be pulp without capturing what made it spark beyond the surface level.

The first of these chapters contains the only bit of practical writing advice I can give without turning the entire project into a How-To book, but it is necessary to put out there since reading this guide and then going out and reading Save the Cat defeats the purpose of everything being attempted here. No one in OldPub is going to help you write pulp.

The following two chapters form the core of what makes exciting pulp-inspired writing and how both have been diluted over the years. The first is on action, and the second is on wonder. Without engaging these dual subjects you simply cannot hope to tackle the changing writing landscape at all. Low art needs both action and wonder to survive, and so does NewPub!

Finally we end on what a real revolution in writing would contain and why the Pulp Mindset contains it. What exactly can we learn and do different from the failures OldPub has suffered, and what can we do better moving forward into the unknown future. There is more than you'd think, including pieces of advice that would make subversives in the 1960s blanche.

An early review nailed it perfectly:

I think aspiring authors might find some interesting inspiration from Cowan’s work, which after all mostly serves as a signpost to the successful story tellers of the past. What has worked before can work again, if you know about it. This work could be the catalyst that makes that possible.

All we have left of the forgotten past is a better and more fruitful creative place than the one ravaged by OldPub. That is the one we need to reach out to. In order to move into the future, one needs to connect with the past.

But that past is not OldPub. OldPub is dead.

Regress harder, and find what was lost. Only then can we move into a better future free from the shackles of mutation far past its expiration date.

The truth of the matter is that we are not in the same place we were a decade ago. We're not even in the same place we were five years ago. Things have changed so much in such a short period of time that it is overwhelming. But no matter how much the world might morph or fall apart around you there are eternal truths that don't change. This is the core belief of the Pulp Mindset, and this solid foundation will serve you even if the sky falls down around your head. The more things change, the more they remain the unchanged.

So put aside those creative writing classes you had back in college. Forget the self-help books that don't offer any help. Don't bother with creatives that hate the wider audience. Ignore the rumblings of a dying industry that want you to join them in their death spasms. There is no future in any of that nonsense.

The only way forward is with a Pulp Mindset. You can succeed without OldPub, and that terrifies the old guard more than anything. There is a revolution coming, and you will be part of it. The future is inevitable, and the future is in NewPub.

Once again, you can find the Pulp Mindset here.

Turn it around!

I told you all that I would get to three books released this year. This is book #2! I'm on a roll, and unlikely to stop anytime soon!

That's the Pulp Mindset for you.

EDIT: #1 New Release in Creativity! Thanks for your support!

EDIT 2: Another #1!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Signal Boost ~ "Planetary Luna" Audio Book by Tuscany Bay Publishing!

Find it Here!

Much credit should go author and editor Richard Paolinelli for all the work he has done in the Planetary Anthology series. After Superversive Press shuttered it looked unlikely that the project would ever be completed and was destined to be a what-if, but not only has Tuscany Bay released more volumes than Superversive did (and next month will have re-released all of Superversive's old volumes), it has also carried the project into a whole new medium. That would be into the burgeoning audio book world.

Planetary Luna isn't the first book in the series to cross into audio, that would be Planetary Pluto, but it is the one that has made the biggest splash so far, and is also the largest in size. Originally planned to be split into two volumes, it was instead collected in one large tome due to lack of time. Though readers appear to enjoy this big boy in all its overweight glory.

This is the Planetary Anthology series--weird is expected. For a project of this scope it is amazing that it still has so much to offer its audience, even now so many years after it was first conceived. It is amazing how well the idea holds up even now.

For those who do not remember what the Planetary Anthology series is about, here is a reminder. Every planet in our solar system (including our Sun and Moon) have a fascinating mythology and history behind them going back countless centuries, so why not celebrate them with the best wonder stories? So here is eleven volumes ranging from the scorching Sun to the far off Pluto where each volume plays tribute to the planetary system and the wondrous universe we live in. There is nothing else quite like it out there.

Here is a description for Planetary Luna, and the stories in contains:

These are the tales of the orb that lights our night sky and drives the tides of our oceans. The bright companion that orbits our planet, invades our dreams and drives us mad. 
The Curse and the Covenant by Ann Margaret Lewis – Tal, in the land of Ur, is son to a Lord. When a demon offers his father a gift to make him and his people like gods, Tal knows it’s a bad idea. 
The Doom that Came to Necropolis, by Steve Johnson – Necropolis is a small town, complete with small town values and small town myths. Unbeknownst to them, their doom is about to arrive, riding a motorcycle, and armed with the weapons of science. 
How to Train your Werewolf, by Margot St. Aubin – Jason Branch recently escaped from a home for the insane. His only goal now is to rest and be left alone in the woods. But when strangers decide that the same stretch of land would be perfect for their needs, they will soon discover Jason's true madness. 
Luna Sea, by Jody Lynn Nye – the moon can be a harsh mistress … or can she?
Regolith, by Penelope Laird – How far would you go to prevent your favorite band from being kidnapped and held for ransom on the Moon? 
Crazy like an Elf, by Declan Finn – When astronomer Barbara Davis hired a private security firm, she didn’t expect a man who claimed to be from Middle Earth. 
Samaritan, by Karl Gallagher – Thomas' people settled on the Moon to avoid contamination from biotech and nanotech gadgets. But when a high-tech spacer crashes Thomas must risk exile from his home to save the stranger's life. 
Moonboy, by Karina L. Fabian – Cory Taylor is the first boy born on the moon and may just be the first to die on it. But his first attempt to leave the moon may move up that date to closer than even he expects. 
Fly Me To the Moon, by Mark Wandrey – Annmarie Smith dreamed of going to space, and she finally succeeds in creating a company to mine water on the moon. Everything looks great, until alien first contact makes it all much, much more complicated. 
The Hyland Resolution, by Justin Tarquin – Charles Hyland is caught in the crossfire of an interplanetary war, their only hope is that Charles can extricate himself from the labyrinth of his own mind. 
Another Fine Day in the Corps, by L.A. Behm II – Some days you get the bear. Some days, the bear is packing mortar rounds. 
The Mask of Dhuran Zur, by John C. Wright – Some manuscripts you just shouldn’t read. 
Elwood, by Bokerah Brumley – Mysterious things happen to Emma Kelly when she meets the lunatic gypsy at the end of the lane and the gypsy's invisible pĂșca. 
Much Madness is Divinest Sense, by Lori Janeski-- A madman doesn't usually believe that he's insane. But the ones who are truly dangerous are the ones who not only believe it, but embrace it. 
The Night my Father Shot the Werewolf, by Josh Griffing – The boys in Mrs. Carroll's third-grade class learned a lot last year, about things like cursive, and multiplying, and werewolves. 
The Black Dogs of Luna, by Paul Go – The crew of the Sirocco find a nightmare of the ages on the Moon. 
Despot Hold ’em, by Caroline Furlong – You have to know when to hold them, know when to fold them. But most importantly of all, know when to run. 
Polar Shift, by Richard Paolinelli – After the pole's shift, Sam Peck may just be the last living human being in the entire universe. 
The Price of Sanity, by A.M. Freeman – Never make deals with the unknown. Especially when it's paying for your freedom with your soul. 
Vulcan III, by William Lehman – Unfortunately for the crew of "Scorpion" the Vulcan III, the moon is the harshest engineering environment we've ever built in, especially when something goes wrong. 
Merry By Gaslight, by L. Jagi Lamplighter – What if that million-dollar mansion you hardly dare to long for were so much less than you deserved. 
Squeeze on the Moon, by Lou Antonelli – An expert in disaster recovery gets the opportunity of a lifetime – plus a little walk down memory lane.

As for me, I have at least two stories in the series, including one in Planetary Uranus (which is the next audio volume!) and the upcoming Planetary Sol, which is out in November! It's amazing to see this project come to full fruition, but humbling that I am fortunate enough to be a part of it. You won't find anything remotely like this out there.

Once more, you can find the audio version of Planetary Luna here.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Signal Boost ~ "The Penultimate Men: Tales from Our Savage Future" by Pilum Press

Find it Here!

We're still in July, and yet there is still much more to talk about! I definitely didn't want to miss talking about this little gem from Pilum Press, available exclusively in pocket paperback form at Lulu. You can only find it there. That's right, this one is going for a different sort of feel than the usual product I talk about in these signal boosts. But that definitely isn't for the worse.

The Penultimate Men: Tales from Our Savage Future is a collection of post-apocalyptic fiction from Jon Mollison, Neal Durando, and Schuyler Hernstrom, three authors that definitely know what they're doing. However, post-apocalyptic does not translate into being nihilistic, and these stories will prove it to you. There is always a different sort of magic in the air. At the same time there is an introduction from Nu Wave pulpster Misha Burnett, and always appreciated essays on the inspiration behind much of this sort of fiction by PulpRev BROSR guru Jeffro Johnson, both of which help to add flavor. All of this material is packed into a 230 page pocket paperback that wouldn't look out of place on a wire rack in your drug store next to yellowing Andre Norton and Manly Wade Wellman paperbacks. In fact, it fits right in.

Needless to say, I already have my copy, and if you're reading this you're probably already putting it in your cart. Celebrate the revolution in pulp fiction today by checking out the collection here. Remember: You can't get it anywhere else!

It's been a wild summer of productivity, and it isn't over yet!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Loose Cannon's Legacy

Over the last few years I've dived in rather deep with 1980s action movies. As hard as it might be to believe, I wasn't as big into them when I was a kid. It is something I got more and more into as I got older. Just like many kids born in the '80s and came of age in the '90s we were taught that actually the '80s were really lame and Not Cool and Too Cheesy. The edgelord '90s were where it was at, and things were always getting better.

However, as I got older, I began to realize something counter to what I had believed. The 1990s were not very good, and have aged worse than the 1980s did. Now, I personally had many good times in the decade of parachute pants and Friends and have many great memories in my personal life. It wasn't bad just because the culture doesn't particularly hold up. 1995 was a great year, for instance. But culturally, aside from video games and music, most of the good cultural material dried up by the dead center of the decade. By 1997 there was nothing left of even the best parts of the 1990s. It was as if they evaporated overnight.

I remember this moment even at the time. Though I wasn't what the kids call a "consoomer" at the time, I did notice that everything I enjoyed growing up was disappearing at once. It was bizarre experiencing it in 1997, but even more odd when you realize that no one else really appeared to notice at the time. They just sort of let it happen.

Then, as I sat through the long, interminable slog that was the 2000s, I noticed folks finally admitting something went wrong. Whole segments of subcultures were forming online dedicated on their dead favorites and questioning just what went wrong. Critics such as James Rolfe, the Angry Video Game Nerd (Then the Angry Nintendo Nerd), popping up online to reminisce about the past and show how it wasn't quite how we remembered it, though he clearly had a love for his youth and dedicates much of his spare time preserving the era for future generations as a hobby. This was happening in the middle of the '00s and still occurs today.

Other critics popped up at the time who didn't have Mr. Rolfe's passion with cheesy shtick or love of the weird, nor did they even play characters--they just ranted and screamed about everything you loved as a kid sucking. This batch of critics would go one of two ways: they would quit and become normal functioning members of society, of they would dig their heels in and champion subversion. Remember that old cartoon about how critics of the '00s always said everything you loved sucked? They warped into something much darker and more hateful by the '10s.

At the time, however, it was clear that two sides were forming. One that thought the past had a lot worth preserving and taking forward, and the other who wanted to demolish everything with a wrecking ball. This is a split that only went deeper as time went on.

It was about that time that I decided to go back and look for myself. It wasn't as if there was was anything to lose doing it. The pop culture of the 2000s was so vapid that I had little choice if I wanted to enjoy something. What else was there to do?

So I rewatched movies I hadn't see since I was a kid, some TV shows, and even some music. On top of that I began looking for stuff I had never experienced before from the same era. I wanted a fuller picture. There was a lot of content to go through, though at the time youtube, pirates, and the like actually preserved this stuff. Unlike today.

Nonetheless, I discovered a lot of interesting things along my journey. By the time the '10s rolled around it almost didn't matter that pop culture was dead. There was just so much to go through that I hardly noticed what was going on outside my door. This obviously was both a blessing and a curse, but it did give me higher expectations for what I allow in my brain. No longer could I except anything that couldn't even live up to Arnold Schwarzenegger's Commando in action or comedy. If you can't close to a movie that (at the time) is only 15-20 years old then how can you look at yourself in the mirror? Shaking the camera like you're constantly having a seizure while standing on a fault-line isn't going to make up for it.

In fact, this attitude is what eventually led me to things such as the Pulp Revolution and starting the Cannon Cruisers podcast, both of which are still going strong. It turns out that not only was I not alone in my assessment, but a subculture was growing that was rejecting those that had discarded the past for new frontiers that just weren't bearing any fruit. The more I looked into this the more disillusioned I became.

What I discovered through all of this is that there was definitely a loss of heart, tradition, and ambition over the years. Even though I was a rugrat at the time, 1984-1987 was pretty much peak pop culture with original ideas, zany experiments, and hotblooded innovation, going on in just about every arena you could think of. And this isn't nostalgia: I wasn't old enough to remember this period. This is from me going back and delving into what I'd missed and experiencing most of it for the first time. For instance, if you watched a movie from this time period, even if it was technically inferior, it would still offer an untold level of entertainment. Perhaps the Greatest Generation finally retiring from the arts by the end of the '80s gave plucky Baby Boomers, inspired Jones, and fresh-faced Gen Xers the push they needed to show they could stack up. Either way, there was a lot happening at the time and it is hard to surmise just how much there was.

Case in point, there is Cannon Films, the notorious b-movie studio that allegedly put out some of the worst and best movies of the decade, depending on your point of view. Though if you explore the cinematic space during that time period they were hardly the worst--even their abysmal movies aren't anywhere close to the worst of the era. When a Cannon movie is bad it is still wild and creative. And that is a spirit that has been lost in the modern era. Not even good movies from today have that spark of wild joy.

Cannon Films was a struggling 1970s b-movie studio that was bought by Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus under their Golan-Globus Productions. They wanted to break into Hollywood and make movies, and that's precisely what they did. By 1979 they had their own studio to do with what they pleased. But no one would expect what came next in the decade of madness known as the 1980s.

For the next near 15 years Cannon was the go-to purveyor in action and excitement. They made rental stores the hip location for kids to grab the newest insane adventure romp, they helped make home video a viable format, and they managed to break out big into pop culture with their lower budget fare. When you thought of 1980s pop culture, Cannon Films was one of the first things that came to mind.

Which is why it is odd that none of this is documented much at all. One of the reasons I started Cannon Cruisers is because there was just no one talking about this interesting era. Sure, there's constant talk of those tired space "Star" franchises, the usual chatter about oddball horror and the big budget fare from the era, and even the usual Arnold and Sly's movies, but rarely does anyone talk Cannon Films anymore.

This is a shame, because Cannon Films is possibly the most interesting film studio ever created, almost as weird as their movies, with some of the best production stories you will ever hear about. Aside from a pair of competing documentaries (worth watching!), there were no books, video series, or other podcasts, centered on the cousins and their company. For a while it seemed Cannon Films was destined to fade away into obscurity.

Until now.

Find it Here!

I was recently approached by the author of a new book to see if I wanted to read it for myself. When I saw what it was I jumped on the opportunity. It covers the exact topic I just mentioned. Suffice to say, getting a copy didn't change my overall thoughts on the product being that it was exactly what I was looking for.

Writer Austin Trunick decided to compile The Cannon Film Guide which is meant to cover every Cannon Films production from 1980 up to their closure in the 1990s. It is a in depth dive into Cannon, their productions, and the climate at the time they put their flicks out. The background and biographical information helps tremendously, as well.

However, because there is so much information he had to split it into three different volumes. The first one, which I am talking about here, covers 1980 up to 1984. Essentially, it covers the same time span we did on season one of Cannon Cruisers. If that seems like an odd place to stop, well, it's not. 1984 was the year Cannon finally took off, so this book more or less covers everything up to their explosion into the mainstream. It would have to considering it is a 550 page behemoth. Putting all this together in one place would create a book longer than The Stand. But despite the length there is no bloat to speak of. It's all pure information and background.

For those of us who have an eye for this period in pop culture this book is what we've been waiting for. It's a deep dive into one of the most interesting aspects of the 1980s pop culture. But there is more to it than just nostalgia.

It starts with a foreword by Cannon alumni Sam Firstenberg, director of such films as Revenge of the Ninja, Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, Ninja III: The Domination, and the first two American Ninja movies. These are some of the company's most well known movies. He goes quite in depth on the beginning of the studio and how they came to be.

"Golan impressed me right away as a very decisive man who made abrupt decisions with no hesitation. Looking for a break into the industry I asked him to join his production and he hired me to work on his production on the spot, without even blinking. Right away he impressed me as a very colorful man with a very loud and commanding personality. I worked for Menahem Golan in many different roles through the 1970s, from courier to production assistant to assistant director, and then as a feature film director beginning in the 1980s, after he and Yoram Globus acquired Cannon. The creative atmosphere and the cinematic culture of Cannon were like no other film production organization of their time. There was a sense of openness and adventure amongst the rank and file of the employees, all emanating from the man at the top: Menahem Golan."

Right away Mr. Firstenberg solidifies what we had all figured. A studio as wild as Cannon Films would have to be run by a man as mad as they were. Menahem Golan, from all accounts, had a bizarre sense of creativity and inspiration about him. But this character of Golan is what gave Cannon the character it had.

You could say a lot about Cannon Films, but you can never call it faceless or uninteresting. Considering the decade which was anything but either of those things and you can see how significant it is that Cannon still sticks out.

From the beginning of this guide we are given a gander at just who runs the studio, and it is a man who takes chances and is willing to try anything in a decade where anything went. Even then he went beyond that. It explains much about Cannon's character and how the studio ended up being the success that it was.

Mr. Firstenberg goes further:

"At Cannon, the creative decisions were based on Golan’s gut feelings, and that’s how they launched projects with Chuck Norris, Charles Bronson, John Cassavetes, and the likes of Runaway Train, Otello, American Ninja, Breakin’, and on and on and on. Some of these projects were financially risky, but nevertheless they were made. That’s why so many moviemakers were attracted to work for Cannon."

Can you think of a studio head like this now, never mind one with such a dynamic personality? The wider industry tended to hate Cannon for purity reasons, but it was rather clear that their intentions were purer. They just wanted to create movies and make money doing so. Which is, supposedly, the point of the industry in question, though we all know better now.

Either way, thanks to Golan's leadership and Globus' financial sense, Cannon gained the reputation it did among the people who counted: the customers.

Golan was the character with dynamic personality, but when you have someone like Yoram Globus to manage financials you can leverage your budgets and rely on overseas markets to make sure you don't overspend. Many would make fun of Cannon for being low budget, but even they weren't the lowest in town and could use their budgets quite ell when they wanted to. Nonetheless, this was their formula: produce a film for cheap, make just enough back on home video and the overseas markets, and then put it into the next one to build an audience. This simple formula is what carried them from obscurity in the early '80s up to superstar status a mere handful of years later. The cousins had a straightforward formula, and it worked.

But the most telling passage is this one:

"In the 1960s, traditional, independent, low-budget exploitation and genre b-movies gave way to an emerging new wave of independent, expressive, and personal cinema and a different breed of American movies, the likes of Easy Rider, Midnight Cowboy, and so on. The major studios followed suit and started to produce more artistic, expressive, personal films, and Hollywood abandoned their “bread and butter” movies. Cannon Films seized on the opportunity and penetrated the vacuum that was created and, together with others, occupied this abandoned field. Certain types of audiences all over the world had felt betrayed and yearned for more of the old-fashioned genre flicks: action, horror, sci-fi, and the like. The 1980s also saw the emergence of the home video phenomenon, the videocassette tape rental economy and the rise to power of major independent production and distribution companies to supply the product that was missing from the marketplace. Cannon became the largest of them all, producing more than 530 movies."

There is much more to the foreword than this, but this one statement says it all. Around the 1960s the bigger studios started to abandon audiences. If it wasn't for the success of several wildcard success in the 1970s and '80s they might have abandoned them sooner. These were the studios that kept the spirit of excitement alive. Those who remember the pulp attitude and wonder where it went i the wider world can see that it still existed in places like Cannon Films.

You see, they knew there was a large audience not getting what they wanted. So what did they do? Ignore it? Call it bad names? Deliberately produce movies that spat on these inferior subhumans? No, Cannon did what they were supposed to do and what the wider industry was supposed to do: they catered to the audience. They gave them what they wanted.

And Cannon cashed in while doing it. They provided a product, and the audience exchanged their hard-earned beer money for it. It feels like such a foreign attitude, especially these days, but this is how it is supposed to work. This didn't used to be such rare knowledge, but I suppose at some point the industry forgot it.

Mr. Trunick then has his own preface in the book which starts out with this:

"Like many of you, I grew up in the era when your whole weekend’s entertainment was decided during a Friday night trip to the video rental store. It was in those places where Cannon reigned supreme, and their recognizable logo could be found somewhere on almost every shelf in the store. Thanks to my local mom-n-pop shop’s lenient policies toward renting violent, Rrated movies to minors, I was exposed at a young age to film classics such as Invasion U.S.A. , New Year’s Evil, and American Ninja. I learned early on that a movie didn’t need to be “’traditionally good” to be great. For the rest of my film-loving life, the sight of the Cannon logo at the front of a movie would stir up happy, fluttery feelings within my heart. If you’re reading this now, my guess is you might feel the same way."

He invokes a strong image for anyone of Gen Y or younger Gen X, but it is a very accurate one for any who lived during that time frame. Going to the video store and discovering treasures in the form of painted VHS boxes and weird video game covers with wacky titles was a common weekend activity. You never knew what gem you might find hidden in the tangle of new products and inventive ideas. For many, this is what the 1980s were most known for.

Cannon understood this feeling, even at the time. Their dominance of the home video and overseas markets showed brains for a studio regularly considered brainless. But this method, taking advantage of an audience who wanted content, worked for everyone involved. As it is supposed to. Cannon Films ruled the roost for good reason.

I would dare say the only type of person who would say they have bad memories of seeing the Cannon Films logo on a box is probably a joyless husk of a human being regularly confused with a stick in the mud. If you wanted to be taken for a ride and have your head filled with wonder and excitement, then there were few places you could get it the through a Cannon movie. Those opposed to this, I would imagine, are probably the same types that cheered when Hollywood abandoned more general fare back in the 1960s. In other words, they take themselves too seriously. They have forgotten what fun is.

On top of the interesting background and biographical information, The Cannon Film Guide also covers 40 movies each with an extensive plot summary, production info, trivia, and sometimes with intriguing interviews with those involved in the production. Even if you have a passing interest in the subjects in this book it is fascinating to read and look into the era. There are some obscure tidbits to be found, too!

Now, unlike most books I talk about here, I still haven't finished reading this all the way through. In between projects in both writing and reading hasn't left me with as much time as I'd like to go through the entire guide, but with over 550 pages there is more than enough content to keep you invested for a long time.

I plan to go deeper on a movie by movie basis in my proper read-through, but looking through the material I've seen has left me with little choice than to heartily recommend this to anyone with even a passing interest in the subject. It is something that has been needed for a long time. The Cannon Film Guide is a book that is important for those creating new similar culture or interested in studying the old. For fans of action, adventure, horror, and pulp excitement, it is a must read that will satisfy as much as Charles Bronson blowing up a drug dealer with a rocket launcher outside a roller-rink. If you know what that is a reference to then this book is for you.

This gets my highest recommendation. I will have to get a physical copy when the opportunity arises. It is most definitely worth the investment, and I eagerly await volume 2.

As I said earlier, the 1980s had much going for them we take for granted. This was a time when creativity sold, and both content creators and audiences got what they wanted. This created an exciting climate that many still look on fondly. There hasn't been a time period like this since. Looking back on it I can say the 1980s deserves a better reputation than the one it gets from the mainstream. Nonetheless, you know better, and that is what counts.

We should close this out with a quote from the epilogue of the guide:

"The mid-1980s—covered in the second volume of this series—saw Cannon release their most ambitious slate of movies ever. Not only did they spend significantly more money on their budgets, but their jaw-dropping 1985–1986 schedule saw the company juggle more film shoots than even the major studios would think feasible."

There is always more on the road ahead, so keep vigilante. With a pulp mindset you can do just about anything, and that's the way it should be.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Signal Boost ~ Star Knight Saga, Book 2: Hounds of Nimrod

We're back with another signal boost, this time for the sequel to a book I've already reviewed! Author Bradford C. Walker is crowdfunding the second book in his Star Knight Saga space opera series, and he needs your help.

In case you are new to the series, Star Knight Saga is a mixture of mecha, sword and planet, space opera, and plain old adventure. It's as exciting as it sounds. Now the author has finally announced book 2! Those of us who have read the first are eagerly awaiting the second.

I know it's a bit of a chaotic time out there in the world, but that hasn't stopped creators from doing their all to put out works of escapism and adventure to keep you entertained during this mess. In fact, they've been working extra hard. While OldPub has ground to a halt NewPub is still firing on all engines. It will take a lot more than this to derail us.

The summary of the campaign is as follows:

We pick up where "Reavers" left off, with our story's focus shifting to Earth and her solar system. Countess Gabriela Robin is in hiding, but she's threatening to go to Earth to speak of her experience at New Edinburgh to the Court of Stars and thus directly threaten the master villain of that raid: Count Vikuun Qis. 
Qis calls upon a new figure, Master Nimrod, to hunt her down before she can expose him. To ensure this succeeds, Qis throws Red Eyes and his pirates at the Solar Guard to keep them busy. The two strategies are meant to converge when Nimrod delivers Gabriela to the pirates to fulfill his promise to their mutual benefactor: the Architect. 
The action and intrigue goes from Ganymede to Rome, and from ship-to-ship down to man-to-man, as both villain and hero attempt to outwit as well as outfight each other to determine the fate of the Songbird of Second Salisbury.

Once again you can find the campaign here. There is a little more than 3 weeks remaining, but if you get in now you might be able to grab some exclusive perks.

This summer is is still heating up!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Introducing the Pulp Mindset

We've talked many times about the awful state of art right now in the modern world, but we haven't offered much in the way of solutions aside from the obvious: just keep trucking. Today that changes as I introduce to you my newest book due out at the end of this month: The Pulp Mindset!

I hinted at this book earlier, and now that my editor has handed it back to me and I am very close to the end in polishing, I can now reveal it to you. This is my next book!

The Pulp Mindset is a non-fiction work focused around the shift in the writing world from the crumbling empire of OldPub into the current wild west that is NewPub. Along the way I also cover a number of other things from the importance of the pulps in modern art and entertainment, why wonder and action matter more than messaging, and even include some tips for newer writers (or for badly educated ones) on how to get started as a writer of pulp. It's a surefire way to gain a winner's mindset in an industry that likes to lose.

Despite the above, this is not a How-To manual. It will not teach you to write or a instruct a way to game the amazon algorithm to sell more books. There are enough of those out there to shake a stick at. This guide was written to both reassess conventional wisdom that has hampered newer writers attempting to succeed as creators, and to rediscover old forgotten advice that applies more than ever in the growing frontier of NewPub. It's about putting order to chaos. Someone needs to sift through the confusion and muddled thinking modern writers are prone to, and that is what this book is meant to address. The modern industry is a minefield.

I first came up with the idea for the book while writing a simple essay on wonder. It seemed like a subject few were talking about. As I revised and rewrote the simple piece, trying to understand just what my overall intent was, I suddenly got the idea to expand it and make it part of a bigger whole. That essay is now a chapter in this book, and is still the lynch-pin to the whole project. Without wonder the entire process of writing pulp falls apart.

I soon thought to what the atmosphere was like when I began writing, never mind before I even really knew what pulp writing, or even NewPub itself, was. The climate for new writers is the same as it was when I began. It is total chaos out there, and a new writer has far too much good and bad information to parse through. There are plenty of books on how to write, all with conflicting advice (that is how writers are, after all) but none that really address the wider implications of what it means to write in the era we are currently living in. Most of the bad advice out there acts like we are still living in the 1970s.

Let's face it: most of the tips anyone in OldPub can give you are simply not going to help you succeed. It isn't because they don't know how to write (many do!) but that they are writing obliviously to an upcoming generation that will not be able to practically apply a lot of the advice they are given. By the time Gen Z is old enough to start writing for real, in a decade or so, OldPub will not be in the state it is in now. Heck, it might not even be around at all. But there is no one in that industry who will tell you that. Whether it is because they don't know it themselves, or wish to ignore it, I can't say. But OldPub is on the way out.

Of course, NewPub won't be the same as it is now either, which is why this book is not a how-to-write guide, but a book on gaining a mindset that will help you succeed as a creator even when the system is actively working against you, or is dead. More than tools, tips, tricks, or apps, what you need to become an artist is a mindset that can't be broken or bent. You need a mindset that looks to the past to connect to the present in order to move to the future. You need a complete mindset to help whether the turbulent storm of the ever-changing world of publishing.

You need a Pulp Mindset.

Before you can write a long-running series, before you can write that dream project you've had your eye on since you were an eight-year-old, and before you can even put keys to digital paper, you have to know just what mess it is that you're getting into. Once you understand and adapt your thought process to the reality of OldPub's failures and NewPub's meteoric rise, you can take advantage. Then you can do anything you want to do.

So what writers need, both new and struggling, is a simple, short, straightforward book that can steady their shaking knees on solid ground. That is what The Pulp Mindset is. It is the bridge over troubled waters. Once you have your mind locked in this Pulp Mindset you can move on to saving cats or the advice books of literary agents or OldPub authors, if that is what you wish. However, you will have a better idea of what to focus on to improve both your writing and your aim as a writer to the point that you might not want to do any of those things.

The old pulp authors from back in the day had a certainty to both their writing and their storytelling that modern authors just can't manage. Anyone who has been on social media can attest to that. With a pulp mindset these aspiring authors can turn their brains into a steel trap that will give them focus, discipline, and allow them to finally have fun while writing! Just like the pulp greats!

Because  entertainment and edification is ultimately what it's all about. You want to entertain the audience, and you want to have fun doing it. You both might also learn something along the way, but at least you're in this together.

This book is a culmination of everything I learned about writing and the industry since I started at it. Yes, this means lessons from fandom, the puppies, the PulpRev, Superversive, OldPub's collapse, and the current meltdown of mainstream entertainment as a whole. Where we've been, where we are, and how we can get to somewhere better than both.

All that in a small, concise book just like the pulps. I wouldn't have it any other way. That is the Pulp Mindset at work!

Artist: Bruce Timm (not my pic)

When I started writing near a decade ago, I thought it was pretty hopeless. What I didn't expect was that the climate would allow something like NewPub to come up. Before now, whole genres were off the table because OldPub said so. Not the case anymore!

Back in the day, you had to find an agent, edit your story for suits who probably don't understand the point of your work, and then wait forever for the book to be edited, acquire a crap cover you have no say in, then get no promotion before it died on the vine. And that's if you could even get in to the old system to begin with.

I've covered several periods on this blog from the pulps to now. We eventually got to the point where genres from adventure to horror simply got thrown under the bus for generic 400 page thriller paperbacks. This was all because OldPub decided those genres were over, and wanted to push more formulaic books instead. They wanted to gain a fandom that would fanatically buy whatever they put out: they did not want a customer base they would have to cater to. Minimum effort, maximum profit. Hwever, that profit is not what it once was. Killing the mid-list is part of the problem. No one new is coming it the hobby, which means it is dying.

OldPub, in essence, became about the publishers and those who worked in the machine lining their pockets before producing product for customers. Everyone else from the writers to the audience--the ones OldPub should have been focusing on--were dead last in importance. This is how they've ended up on the death bed they are currently writhing on.

At the same time, audiences are fed up with the way things are. They no longer get what they want, so why stick around? They no longer trust the system, for good reason, and have instead walked away from the entire mess.

Here's the thing: the internet allows audiences to get whatever they want for cheap prices, and for free. They have options now. They are no longer trapped in the cycle of having to pay premium prices for material they are only barely putting up with. So if you wish to compete as a writer you can't continue to offer the pap that pushed them away from reading to begin with. Not only does OldPub refuse to learn this lesson, they actively double down on their stubbornness, turning their own industry into a circle-jerk cesspool that everyone outside of it uses as a punching bag, and a punchline. The entire industry has turned into a joke.

There is nothing you can take from them, because they have nothing to give. OldPub is on the way out. It's only a matter of time.

However, many upcoming writers don't appear to understand this. As someone who has been on social media and sees "aspiring" writers and the like struggle to even type a few words a day on their keyboard before frantically deleting them in abject terror, it is obvious to see that they are completely unprepared for their art-form. And much of that is because of the bad advice they have received from OldPub. This advice is strangling their aspirations in the crib.

Whether it is the "Mutation or Death" rallying cry that still infects adventure fiction to this day, or the corporate-funded writer's workshops that insist "mundane" is where writers of wonder should spend their time appealing to swindling audiences, it doesn't make much of a difference. OldPub has had an anti-audience mentality for a long time, and it is only getting worse. They do not know what the people actually want.

And yet newer authors still have nostalgia-charged dreams of having their 1000-page book on a Borders shelf with the old Tor logo on the side of it as their masterwork shoots up the bestseller chart before getting optioned for a video game by Westwood Studios and a full length motion picture by Orion Pictures. Those childhood dreams! The stars in their eyes blind newer writers from uncomfortable truths. None of this is ever going to happen. That era doesn't exist anymore. OldPub will not help you achieve those dreams.

If you want to be a writer, or any sort of creator, in the modern age, then you need to put the nostalgia behind you. Stop putting your job on a pedestal. The old industries are not only dead, but what remains of them are now your enemies who want to hurt you or warp you in their image. Those in charge today put entertainment and audience last. Take advice from this dinosaur mindset at your own peril. They have nothing to offer that you can't already do on your own.

OldPub is over.

They're over, folks!

But you aren't part of OldPub. No one who wants to be a serious writer is part of that system, anymore. You are a new creator in a new era.

One of the things that convinced me to write this book was the realization that we should be celebrating. We are currently living in the most exciting era of art and entertainment in decades, one where anything can happen. With the death of the taste-makers we can do anything and go anywhere we want. So why should we go to those decrepit and outdated industries for advice? It makes no sense. They won't help you.

Even just this month alone I have done multiple signal boosts for new projects from top notch creators with fresh ideas who have more energy that anyone in the old system does. And there are still more to come! (July is a busy month!) If you keep your eyes peeled you will be more than surprised with how much good stuff you will find out in the wild. These are all creators working with a pulp mindset and have abandoned the old, outdated ways. They know what it takes to give the audience what they want, and they have fun while doing it.

We're in an ever-changing age, and it's one that isn't due to stop changing anytime soon. But there is one thing audiences will never tire of, and that is quality. As long as you have a pulp mindset you can do anything and go anywhere, maximizing your chances of hitting it big. Not even the sky is the limit in this new era.

So stay tuned for more news about The Pulp Mindset and its very close release date! Join the newsletter if you want in on early news, free stories, and future deals. If you already are signed up then you already know about it! I promised to make the newsletter worthwhile, because I appreciate everyone who tosses even a single dollar my way. The audience you connect with really is the best. And art is all about connections!

And yes, this is my second book release of this year, just as I said. I keep my promises. Unlike OldPub, I work to keep you entertained. There is also much more to come before the end of the year, so keep an eye out.

Also, keep your head up! Things are heating up in NewPub, and they ain't gonna stop anytime soon.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Signal Boost ~ Fantastic Schools Anthology, Vol. 1 by L. Jagi Lamplighter!

Find it Here!

Today I wish to highlight a new project spearheaded by author, writer, and editor, L. Jagi Lamplighter--a new anthology series. Because we are in such short supply of great anthologies it is always nice to see one that delivers what audiences want. This is an anthology series based around the idea of magic schools.

Yes, Harry Potter made them famous to Millennials, but the setting goes back further than that and was a staple of the fantastical for decades before it. This anthology series attempts to highlight them to show they go further than just that one very popular series. Volume one is currently out right now and the reaction has been strong!

This volume is edited by Christopher G. Nuttall, and the description is as follows:

"Have you ever wanted to go to magic school? To cast spells and brew potions and fly on broomsticks and—perhaps—battle threats both common and supernatural? Come with us into worlds of magic, where students become magicians and teachers do everything in their power to ensure the kids survive long enough to graduate. Welcome to ... Fantastic Schools. 
"Follow a girl trying desperately to find her place in a school of dark magic, a band of witches desperate to prove they can be as good as the wizards, a school of magical monsters standing between the evil one and ultimate power, a businesswoman discovering the secrets of darkest evil ... and what happens when a magical education goes badly wrong. 
"Follow us into worlds different, magical ... 
"... And very human."

There is much magic missing in tales of the fantastical these days. This collection is hoping to bring back the magic that has been lost over years of "realism" and grime taking over from imagination and wonder. Check out this anthology of around 15 stories of forgotten magic and find what you've been missing.

You can find it here!

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Deja Vu for the New

It's been a task writing up these posts at this time of year. Where I am is much too hot and options to cool down are simply not plentiful. At the same time I've been left alone with my thoughts, and that's dangerous in the summer heat without a proper outlet. Who knows what idiocy one will think up while in a heat-induced stupor and thinking about b-movies. This time I've been going over things I've done before on this blog, only from a slightly different angle than usual.

We've gone over the horrible state of art and entertainment many times, but it's also summer! We're not in winter, so why be miserable? Let us try for some positivity today. Instead of once again diving into how the old industries have stumbled, we can look at what they can do to turn it around. I do not necessarily mean only those in high places, but also those in the independent circles or middle market that wishes to know what they can do to capitalize in this climate. You don't have to keep treading water with the wider industry. You can get an edge quite easily.

You can't come up with a winning formula for success overnight, but there are tricks you can perform and tips you can use to get you closer to the right road. Whatever you do just make sure it isn't anything Hollywood or OldPub is currently doing. That's the best way to guarantee you're heading in a better direction.

So let us take this medium by medium. It should be quite a trek.

For comic books, the answer is simple, but it's not going to be one its current fans will want to hear. Comic books essentially need a hard reboot to get back on track. Nothing about the current industry is anything like where it started and until that changes the industry will only sink further and further into irrelevancy, and then death.

Ever since the 1980s when a cadre of upcoming artists decided they wanted to make content solely for adults, screw the majority of the audience, the market has shrunk until it has become purely a haven for infantile fanatics and sex perverts. This is a long way from its original audience of all-ages fare and straightforward moral stories. The solution to the current comic problem is to do the opposite of what got them to their decrepit state.

Comic books need to bring back all-ages comics as the standard. They have not been primarily aimed at children since the 1970s, and it has shown in declining sales. Comic books are an inherently juvenile format and that is their strength. Old comics and the classics could whip through plot points, action scenes, and wild settings within a single issue all while telling a complete standalone story. They were made for quick reads to get younger audiences interested in adventure which would then inspire them both in future professions and to move on to books. This focus on younger audiences is how you grow your base. The fact that no industry does it now is why just about all of them are dying. But no industry has been hit worse than comic books.

This decline occurred because the strengths of the medium have been abandoned. The focus on visuals means image is important so the art needs to be exaggerated and weird, and the action can be framed in a way can't really be done in other mediums. The scale and size is the strength of the comic book. That slow, ponderous, and ugly, is the standard now, is the reason the industry is dying. Comic books that take the focus off speed, imaginative art and paneling, and adventure and wonder, for mundane "realism" are not comics. These are not comic artists: they are wannabe novelists that can't write prose or pace worth anything.

The fact is that comics had a strength which allowed them to appeal to all-ages naturally. Writers who get into the medium and cannot write for all-ages are in the wrong medium, and are not looking to grow the art but are instead more interested in stroking their own egos. It is the same with artists who have no appreciation for the peak of the human form: if you aren't willing to make your characters as aesthetically pleasing as possible to the widest audience then you are in the wrong medium. Go draw leaflets for underground alternative bands and college clubs instead.

New comic writers and artists have that advantage of aiming for an audience that hasn't been catered to in over a quarter of a century. Do what the old industry refuses to do. It is the only path forward for this dying medium, since its why it remains successful everywhere else in the world. The fact that only the west has a piddling industry should tell you everything you need to know. Do the opposite of what these hacks are doing.

Comics are in rather dire straits compared to the next mediums coming up, but it isn't hopeless. It just needs a new tact. Go back to the past.

Let us now move on to music. Once destroyed by the emergence of file-sharing, the industry has yet to regain its footing. But independent artists have more than a few tools at their disposal.

Music is a bit trickier to discuss, since soundcloud and bandcamp are still the best bets musicians have for being discovered. Not much has changed on that front. Those sites could use better ways to discover new things in genres listeners like, but without the sites a band has far less a chance of being found by potential listeners. There is little else a musician can do aside from writing music and sharing it online. There is only one other thing they could consider going forward.

In an age where visual presentation matters more than ever, musicians should try to take advantage just like record companies did with MTV nearly forty years ago. The best way to do this would be with music videos on sites like youtube. Simple visuals that match the catchy tracks could do a lot to bring attention to your music and attract new listeners. There is a reason early MTV was so big, after all. They found new ways to present old things.

You don't need fancy tricks or tons of CG to wow audiences, you just need a video that matches the tone and content of the song. If the track is good enough it can pull a lot of the weight. The audience doesn't expect Take On Me from fledgling artists with a few bucks to their name, but there's nothing preventing a piece on the quality of Never Gonna Give You Up. which is just as, if not more, famous. It's not impossible: it can be done.

Movies have much the same advantage when it comes to working on a smaller budget. Unless you're making a multi-million dollar blockbuster coated in CG effects, like every other tired picture out there, you can make just about anything you want with far less than it costs to make one of those mammoth movies. And since Hollywood already has that over-saturated market covered you can instead focus your efforts on other things instead. You can bring back the low budget b-movie that was killed off way back in the 1990s.

The fact is that modern Hollywood movies are overproduced. They cost too much for how poorly most are written these days, and the CG effects have not improved in any appreciable way that practical effects still aren't superior. Guerrilla film-making is now easier than ever. Movie-makers now have more tools at their fingertips than ever before that they can use to create something unlike what the black-hole of creativity known as Hollywood is putting out. Software is cheap--you only need the time and the drive to put into it. Audiences will appreciate your efforts far more than they will another overproduced generic blockbuster.

Go back to what was forgotten, and pick up the pieces. You don't need to make a Fast & the Furious when you can make a Miami Connection. This might sound like deja vu, but going back is what will help you move forward.

Video Games are in the same place as movies. This is rather ironic since the AAA industry is obsessed with aping movies and jettisoning gameplay as a consequence. They cost far too much to make and require far to much to break even. It's not sustainable, and it s going to lead to a console crash. People don't need already-bad movies made worse only with button presses, triple the length, and six times the price. This is not a healthy industry.

Next gen is probably going to be an unmitigated disaster. Indies can't carry the weight, and the middle-market still hasn't recovered from being demolished in the bloodbath of the late '00s, and neither have the genres that have been more and more ignored and warped from their original intent from the time of the first 3D generation back in the mid-90s. What can you play on a modern system today that you couldn't last gen only with less purty graphics? There is no innovation, there is no respect for the past, and their is no future.

Since then, everything that has made the medium what it was has been shed. All that is left is a contorted mockery of the worst aspects of FMV projects from back on the Sega CD and linear game design focused on anything other than gameplay ripped out of 2008. I'm pretty sure this wasn't where the designers of Pong or River Raid believed the medium would be decades later. There is nothing in those games remaining in today's industry.

The industry as it was no longer exists, and its replacement has hit the wall. The next console generation is going to be a catastrophe.

This industry no longer exists

But what happened?

We've lost the concept of scores and stage-based difficulty progression, not to mention the idea of lives and continues. Challenge has been ejected for "accessibility" and ultimately unrewarding gameplay. There is no reward for mastering the gameplay loop aside from getting a movie cutscene that could be replaced with an old Felix the Cat cartoon and it wouldn't make any appreciable to the game. Game are made by gameplay, not gloss. These aren't even games anymore--they're interactive and over-expensive movies.

Success has given these companies big heads. Instead of being the replacement for Hollywood, they decided they would rather be Hollywood. What do you think will happen by aping a dying model? It's going to take a crash to wake the industry up, and the crash is already here. Once you hit the stage of a medium's life where innovation and audience plays a backseat to posing and image you have already lost the battle. It's over.

To fix this requires just what was said earlier. More deja vu. Go back to basics and fashion your product for the audience your medium once did before. You must remember when the games didn't need to cost absurd amounts to make or need crunching to pump out disposable 6 hour movies in between small segments of button-pressing busy work. Sell to the demographic that wants what you have to offer--the one that made you to begin with. Put gameplay first again instead of political and social posing. This shouldn't be hard, but apparently it is.

Video games are games before they are anything else. They are not interactive movies. Even if they were, Hollywood doesn't charge $60 for 6 hour movies. Why should the game industry? No one is ever going to put 100 hours into The Last of Us 2 but there are many that still hook up their NES systems to play Mega Man 2 to this day even decades later. One has held up, the other won't. Much of the problem just comes down to the loss of the long-view. We've thrown away the sturdy and reliable for flash and glitz that isn't going to mean much in the near future.

You can crow about "mature" writing all you want: it's not mature, at all. It's juvenile teenage nihilism that wore out its uniqueness back in the 1990s. The Last of Us 2 has writing worse than a d-movie on the SyFy channel and worse than even the most throwaway adventure novel from the 1970s. It loses in comparison with every other medium it wants to ape. A game like Mega Man 2? That can only be done in the medium it was made for, and it is where it shines the brightest. The right approach moving forward is obvious.

If it sounds like deja vu that is because it must be repeated over and over. The key to moving forward is looking back. Abandon your roots and you will eventually fall without a leg to stand on, unable to rise again. This is the sad tale of every industry in the west right now-- everyone detests where they come from, and their misery shows.

Lastly there is everyone's favorite punching bag. This would be OldPub, the industry that isn't long for this world and has long since abandoned any potential audience growth for its cabal of urbanite elites that write books to impress their friends before anything else. Because of these types, reading has been turned into a joke.

Teach kids to hate reading in elementary, don't give them anything exciting to read as teenagers, then wonder why they don't buy books when they become adults. If it's intentional, it's insidious; if it's not intentional, it's unbelievably inept. Either way it shows an industry of imbecility currently getting exactly what it deserves: irrelevancy. This was the first major industry to shoot itself in the foot, and it's going to take the most amount of work to heal and get back to business. That is, if you believe it ever will, at all.

Back in the 1990s every adult would go on and on about the importance of reading, and how it was the only medium that offered pure imagination. Put down the video games and go on a real adventure like Ivanhoe or the Three Musketeers! These are the stories you can't get by staring at a screen. This was their call to arms.

Programs like Wishbone or Reading Rainbow existed to promote reading classics and opening up your mind to imaginative possibilities. Kids ate this up at the time. Then, at around the same time, Goosebumps blew up big with simple kid-friendly horror stories. They did it--kids were reading! It looked like Gen Y might be the generation to bring reading back, even in an age of blockbuster movies and video games.

But that revival never happened.

Books continued to fall into irrelevancy despite this push. Even with the Harry Potter explosion followed by the Young Adult boom, none of that lead into anything better or an appreciable rise in book sales. In fact it's become a joke that Harry Potter fans have never read another book. The people fed this series of children did not keep reading. In fact, they stopped.

Despite these successes back in the early '00s it never lead into anything else. There were no major books or brand new authors that emerged out of the system. Heck, OldPub still pumps out Young Adult books to this day, only the primary audience appears to be middle-aged urban women--not children. Kids don't read them. Kids don't read anything anymore. And OldPub doesn't care. This is why they are called OldPub, and why they are dying.

Big chain book stores are also on the way out, and that isn't too much of a shame considering how they also let their shelves be filled with books no one wanted to buy. This is an industry that worked very hard to chase off normal people. They tried to tell audiences what they should want, instead of giving them what they wanted, and now they are dying.

So how can OldPub turn it around? Believe it or not, they can reverse course. There are several things they can do in order to both bring readers back and make bank at the same time. They are also things OldPub will never do.

First is to bring back pulp-inspired writing and build a whole line around it featuring both reprints of old works and new works in that abandoned style. Bring adventure and cheap books back in a big way. The second task is to get these into the hands of kids and introduce them to reading as soon as possible. If kids know how fun reading is they will be more willing to do it for themselves and discover whole worlds they otherwise wouldn't. But they need to know the material is out there, which requires a heavy marketing blitz.

What's also important is to not use "pulp" as part of the advertising. The industry has done a lot to try and paint the pulps as all sorts of vile things and to warp the word "pulp" into being the equivalent of throwaway trash. Until this egregious notion has been set right, the word has been tainted. More important than using the word "pulp" is pushing fast-paced adventure stories, the kind people loved less than a century prior.

An adventure line with painted covers of action and wonder is enough to attract eyes. Stock the shelves with cheap 200 page pocket paperbacks filled with excitement and you will be surprised at the reaction and how quick they will sell. Just offering this one "pulp" line would be enough to attract eyeballs and with a cheap price can get even those who not otherwise want to read reeled in to pick them up. The presentation is obvious, especially considering this is how Goosebumps broke out big to begin with. Makes you wonder why they never tried it again.

The fact that this isn't being done, and that no publisher is interested in doing it, is a sign that OldPub is irrelevant and on the way out. They refuse to course correct with ideas meant to attract wider audiences, and instead double down on the same disaster they have been for decades. Who needs adventure when you can be force-fed identity politics and tired genres that haven't sold in decades  while these publishers live off new printings of books older than most of their current employees. In essence, in order to survive, OldPub needs to not be OldPub.

That's simply not going to happen. They are where they are because they chose to be there. They don't want to succeed, they want to matter. Their quest for relevancy has instead made them irrelevant as a cultural force.

A pulp approach could bring kids, teenagers, and young adults, back into reading at a time when they are taught to hate it by the education system. Instead, pulp has been spat on and thrown in the trash by tastemakers. To turn this around OldPub would have to admit they have failed in their primary job of being booksellers, and they will never happen. Instead their industry will continue to shrink until its unceremonious death. No one will mourn this broken system's collapse, and that is entirely their own fault. No one has done more to prevent OldPub's success than OldPub itself.

The big takeaway from all this is that nothing in life is hopeless. People don't change nearly as much as these industries pretend they do. In order to reach the public again after decades of deliberately ignoring the audience, one needs to go back to basics to when they were catered to. You must work for them, instead of working to warp them. Yes, it's a strange sense of deja vu to have to repeat this lesson for every industry, but it remains true for all of them.

Art doesn't "progress" as such, new forms and takes are merely created that run alongside classic styles to accentuate their differences and similarities. Once you toss aside the originators and the reason your industry exists for your own pet projects that goes against what human beings crave, you will fail. This is currently the case with every modern industry in the west. They do not want to connect with audiences, they want to dominate them. Not only do they refuse to return to their roots, they actively hate and slander that which got them there to begin with. Until they admit they are not working in a void, they will continue to exist in one until their well overdue demise.

NewPub, however, doesn't work in a void. We are constantly learning and growing, and always aiming to improve our craft and relationship with the audience. We are the opposite of the dying system. As OldPub dies, we rise.

The time for deja vu is over, we know what we need to move forward. Now we can finally soar into clear skies, leaving the old industries behind.

Remember to always keep your chin up, and have a good one. If this summer heat doesn't kill me I'll be back again next week. When I return I'll have something really cool to show you. What is it? Let's just say that NewPub will never be the same.