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Interviews

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AHMM or EQMM?

AHMM May/Jun 2018 coverIn May 2017, I asked author B.K. Stevens about the differences between Alfred Hitchcock’s and Ellery Queen’s mystery magazines. Here is her response from her interview that appears in The Digest Enthusiast book six:

“I don’t see sharp differences between the two digests—they’re both excellent mystery magazines, and I enjoy them both and have friends who write for each. Some people say AHMM is more open to stories with paranormal elements; I’ve never done a careful comparison, but that rings true. It hasn’t really been a consideration for me, though, since I didn’t write my first story with a paranormal element until recently. (It’s called “One-Day Pass,” and I’m happy to say AHMM accepted it a couple of months ago. But it’s an old-fashioned ghost story, rather than a story featuring trendier creatures such as zombies or shape-shifters—I think either magazine would be open to that sort of story.) It may also be that AHMM is more open to over-the-top humor, which I love. Again, though, I’ve never made a real comparison.”

Stevens’ “One-Day Pass” appears in the May/June 2018 edition of AHMM.

Edd Vick’s Defender

Magic: The Gathering Distant PlanesExcerpt from the Edd Vick interview, conducted by D. Blake Werts, from The Digest Enthusiast book six:

“I co-edited and published Comics Fandom Examiner for a few years with Jeff Wood, Hal Hargit, and Wade Busby, all primarily small press creators. Through Comics F/X I met a lot of really great cartoonists, and published alternative comics from 1990 through 2005. Brad Foster convinced me I had to use the same name for the company as my first fanzine, so it became Miscellania Unlimited Press, more commonly known as MU Press. The sales plummeted in the last five years of MU’s existence, and I got re-interested in writing again. My wife, the SF author Amy Thomson, was invited into an anthology of stories set in the Magic: the Gathering universe, and I sort of invited myself along for the ride, writing a short story called “Defender” that the editor thought good enough
 to include. That anthology was published in 1996.”

Bibliographies

BK Stevens interview

B.K. Stevens published over 50 short stories, primarily in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. Eleven are included in her collection, Her Infinite Variety: Tales of Women and Crime. She’s the author of Interpretation of Murder, a traditional mystery offering insights into Deaf culture and sign language interpreting, and of Fighting Chance, a martial arts mystery for young adults. Nominated for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards, and a Derringer award-winner, Stevens taught English for over 30 years and wrote full time until her death in 2017.

At the time of her interview for The Digest Enthusiast book six, she sent a copy of her bibliography which is now available on this website. I’ll continue to update Bonnie and Joe’s biblios in the days ahead.

Speculative Fictioneer

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Analog May/Jun 2017 “Tenéré” with Manny Frishberg Cover design by Victoria Green

From the introduction to Edd Vick’s interview, conducted by D. Blake Werts, from The Digest Enthusiast book six.

“Edd Vick works for the University Book Store, and buys so many books that his library is a stuffed three-car garage. He published The Comics Fandom Examiner in the early 1990s, which reviewed thousands of creator-controlled comics, then started issuing them under the name MU Press and its imprint AEON. The publishing company lasted fifteen years into the mid-2000s, printing well-received work by Donna Barr, Cathy Hill, Matt Howarth, and others. Edd’s stories have appeared in Analog, Asimov’s, The Year’s Best SF, and many other magazines and anthologies. He was a founding member of the website The Daily Cabal, an early online outlet for flash fiction. He lives in Seattle with SF novelist Amy Thomson, their adopted daughter Katie, three chickens, a dog, and a cat.”

Bill Crider’s Blog Bytes

EQMM August 2007 cover
EQMM August 2007 with Bill Crider’s first Blog Bytes column

The Jan/Feb 2018 issue of EQMM may have been the last issue to feature Bill Crider’s long running column: Blog Bytes. Here’s what he said about it in our interview for The Digest Enthusiast five:

“I’m not sure how ‘Blog Bytes’ came about, as I inherited the column from Ed Gorman, who called me and asked me to take over for him. I suspect that the column was the idea of the EQMM editor, Janet Hutchings, who wanted to start making some connections with the online world, but it could have been Ed’s idea. When I agreed to do the column (in 2007; hard to believe it’s been almost
10 years), Ed sent me some of his columns to look at. They were all between 400–415 words, so I’ve stuck to that with my own column.

“The only thing that worried me about doing the column was whether there would be enough new blogs and websites to keep it going. I needn’t have worried. Another thing that occurred to me a few years ago was that some blogs deserved a repeat mention because people might have missed the first one or might have forgotten about it. So I now lead with a repeat each time.”

EQMM cover image from Galactic Central.

Bill Crider 1941–2018

Social media and the blogs of Bill Crider’s friends and fans celebrate the life of the gifted writer with tributes and recollections upon the news of his passing yesterday. Like many, I first met Bill through his wonderful blog Bill Crider’s Pop Culture Magazine.

In 2015, I was fortunate enough to meet him in person at Bouchercon in Raleigh, where he signed a copy of his—at the time—current novel Between the Living and the Dead. A year later, he graciously agreed to be interviewed via email and responded to general questions about his career, and highlighted some of his short stories and articles for magazines and zines like The Not So Private Eye, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, New Mystery, Hardboiled, and Ellery Queen.

The Spider Chronicles cover

When asked about his terrific story, “The Marching Madmen,” starring The Spider, he shared the inside information:

“I was invited to write a story for The Spider Chronicles, and the invitation came at a time when I’d been reading a lot of Novell Page Spider novels. I’m easily influenced by the writing style of other authors, so it seemed as if it would be easy to sit down and write a story like the ones I’d been enjoying. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, so I’m glad you think it turned out well. Writing the story kind of burned me out on The Spider, and I haven’t read any other Page novels since then.”

Rest in peace, Bill Crider, your stories and kindness, that touched so many lives, lives on.

Ellery Queen March/April 2014

An excerpt from the interview with Bill Crider, from The Digest Enthusiast book five:

Bill Crider: “At an Armadillocon some years ago, I was on the “Apes” panel, along with Joe Lansdale, Rick Klaw, Mark Finn, Chris Nakashima Brown, and probably some others I’m forgetting. The talk turned to a legendary pulp cover for a story called “Gorilla of the Gas Bags” in a pulp called Zeppelin Stories. As anyone knows, there are only a couple of copies of the magazine still around, so nobody had read the story. Joe Lansdale challenged the panelists to write a story based on the cover. He sold his, and I sold mine. I don’t know if anyone else wrote a story.”

Ellery Queen April/March 2014 cover
Ellery Queen March/April 2014 with Bill Crider’s “Gorilla of the Gasbags” with Hollywood detective Bill Ferrell

Attn. Writers: Sandra Seamans reminds us Switchblade magazine is open for submissions.

Ellery Queen March 1998

An excerpt from the interview with Bill Crider, from The Digest Enthusiast book five:

Ellery Queen March 1998
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine March 1998

Bill Crider: “I’ve published only two stories in EQMM, and “The Case of the Headless Man” was the first. When I wrote it, I used a couple of my series characters, Bo Wagner and Janice Langtry. They’re a writing team, like Ellery Queen, and they write about impossible crimes solved by their amateur sleuth, Sam Fernando. Now and then the cops call them in and ask for their help with impossible crimes, like one committed by a man without a head. I really had some some fun with these stories, of which there are two or three. Maybe I should collect them into an eBook, except that I can’t locate the eCopy of “The Case of the Headless Man.”

“I’d tell you where the story idea came from, but I can’t do that without giving too much away. What I can tell you is that I’d been rejected by EQMM a couple of times, and I really wanted to be published there. When I came up with this story idea, I thought it was perfect for the magazine, and sure enough, the editor bought it.”

SMFS logoHat Tip: The new Pulp Modern with Robert Petyo’s story “Sacrifice” is highlighted today by Kevin R. Tipple on The Short Mystery Fiction Society Blog.

Joe Wehrle, Jr.’s Fawn the Dark-Eyed

In Joe’s own words:

“For thirty-six weeks I drew a Sunday page for the all-comic paper, The Menomonee Falls Gazette, based on my earlier fanzine character, Fawn the Dark-Eyed. This character also appears in a short story published in the first anthology from the famous Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop. I think there was some good art in those pages, and the story was coming along, but I’m sure the strip suffered to some extent from my difficulty in doing finely-detailed work in any quantity to tight deadlines. It’s also true that most strips need time to become what they might, and the Gazette went out of business too soon for that.”

Joe Wehrle, Jr.’s Cauliflower Catnip

In 1981, Joe Wehrle, Jr. (pronounced “Wer-lee”) placed an ad for his Cauliflower Catnip Big Little Book in Alan Light’s adzine, The Buyer’s Guide. It caught my eye and I immediately ordered a copy. When it arrived, it met every expectation promised. Wehrle had successfully captured the best of the quality, tone, and charm of the BLB era with a brand new offering, some 40 years later. I’ve treasured this engaging small press classic ever since. Over the years I kept my eyes open for Wehrle’s next project, but never spotted one. In 2007 I reconnected with Joe through his website “Pencil Portraits” and we became fast friends.

Here’s an excerpt from an interview with Joe about his BLB:

“I guess Cauliflower Catnip is kind of an amalgam from many influences. Sometime in the 1970s I got interested in the work of TAD (Thomas Aloysius Dorgan), and I eventually found a number of his strips devoted to Judge Rummy or Silk Hat Harry, his anthropomorphic dog characters. I wanted to see if I could do something in that kind of period cartoon style, and wound up with Cauliflower.

Next step: having read a lot of hard-boiled detective fiction, I decided to give him a bit of an eccentric nature, in the tradition of Nero Wolfe. Wolfe loves his beer and orchids, Cauliflower his catnip tea, but the stuff makes him loopy and able to see the problem from a different perspective. I thought that was kind of original.

Beyond that, I felt it would be important to know how the guy sounded, and what sort of dialogue we could expect out of him. My mother had passed her love of the playing and singing of Thomas “Fats” Waller on to me, Waller with his ebullient and acerbic comments preserved forever (I hope) on record. Cauliflower might sound a little like that, and I could utilize all the 1920s colloquialisms I’d seen in TAD, Rube Goldberg, Clare Briggs, Bud Fisher, etc., etc.

I began to explore who Cauliflower Catnip was in a series of one-panel cartoons.  I’ve long suspected that I’m too slow to do a regular daily strip unless I get an assistant or the concept is extremely simple. I enjoyed turning out the panels, but I could see they’d go nowhere. Besides, I wanted a detective story continuity with Cauliflower. How could I progress the suspense by drawing single panels? Had anyone ever done something like that? Of course they had—and called the results Big Little Books!

So—how to get other people interested in Cauliflower, too? The character cavorted, full-blown, inside my head, and I felt I could sense the mood of the story and the type of cronies and adversaries he would encounter. But I hadn’t yet written a word of it.

The Buyer’s Guide (TBG) had fairly inexpensive ad rates at the time, and I had some old comic stuff to sell. So I created a block ad, with my sale items at the bottom, and a single-panel cartoon above, to scale with the old Big Little Book pages, with short text paragraphs to the right. For several weeks, I don’t know how many, a comic panel and corresponding text appeared in every issue of TBG, and I started to get encouraging mail from fans. As we approached the end of the story, I began to solicit advance orders for the actual book.

Local printers tried to show me sample books with elegant textured and watermarked papers. They didn’t get the Big Little Book thing, or why I wasn’t willing to compromise with the appearance of the finished book. Finally, I just went ahead and ordered several reams of manila paper from my art supplier, let the printer run and cut the interior pages and the cover, then I began binding the copies by hand. I could only afford a run of five hundred anyway, so that wasn’t too overwhelming, I could do a few every day. Biggest problem was in filling an order for a hundred or so from Bud Plant. I think his people wondered why I sent them in two batches, several weeks apart, but it took me that long to catch up.

I had drawn the cover illo separately, and made individual overlays for red, yellow and blue. That was probably a bit primitive even then, but that’s how I did it. There’s a smurch in the border of the back cover where I think photo-developing chemical on the printer’s finger also developed a spot on my Duotone overlay vellum. He said he thought it was supposed to be a cloud. But way up in the border???

The book got fairly glowing reviews from Cat Yronwode in The Buyer’s Guide and Dale Luciano in The Comics Journal [issue #95 Feb. 1985], and this helped to bring in a lot of additional orders.

Afterward, I tried to get some other publisher interested in a sequel or even a series, but wasn’t able to line one up. They all knew they couldn’t move a hundred thousand copies of something like this. And later on, I did some new Cauliflower strips and tried to institute a series of mini-comics (the size they used to put in cereal boxes as a premium), but there seemed to be almost no interest in this format, so I shelved the whole idea.

By that time, though, I had brought the drawing style of the characters up to something more like I always thought it should be. When I started Cauliflower, I did it out of a deep affection for old-time cartoon styles, but with absolutely no experience in drawing that way. I had been drawing adventure characters from my imagination, or, if I needed a degree of realism approaching what Alex Raymond got, working from references and photographic models. It was difficult for me at first to abstract the design of the characters to that level of simplicity. People who dismiss big-foot cartoonists as second-rate artists don’t know what they’re talking about!