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The Spider takes on the Empire State in comics — and this time he’s bringing some friends!

Link - Posted by Chris on November 28, 2012 @ 2:37 am in

Masks #1 cover by Alex Ross

Today Dynamite Comics releases Masks, an eight-part mini-series teaming the company’s Pulp-era licensed characters for one epic battle. What menace could be big enough to draw together The Spider, The Shadow, The Green Hornet, Kato and Zorro? Writer Chris Roberson (iZombie, Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love) explains in an interview with Newsarama:

The genesis of the idea was a well-known storyline that ran in The Spider pulp magazines in the 1930s, over the course of three novels: The City That Paid To Die, The Spider At Bay, and Scourge of the Black Legions. In the original story, written by Norvell Page (as Grant Stockbridge), a political organization called the Party of Justice takes over New York State, and quickly institutes a fascist police state. It was an allegory for what was happening in Europe at the time, and saw the Spider go from being a vigilante who fought crime to being a full-blown freedom-fighter protecting the citizenry from an oppressive government.

Yes, the Spider’s “Black Police Trilogy,” which Age of Aces Books had the privilege of putting back into print (as The Spider Vs. The Empire State), is coming to comic shops! And the New York Rebellion of 1938 is bigger than ever: In addition to The Spider, The Green Hornet, The Shadow and (a 1930s-era) Zorro, the struggle against the Party of Justice will see the rise of “new” heroes too — The Black Bat, Miss Fury, Black Terror and The Green Lama. With so many 1930s vigilantes sharing the spotlight, the narrative necessarily deviates from Norvell Page’s 1938 tale, yet — judging from the capsule descriptions of future issues — The Spider thread of the story remains pretty much unchanged. As Roberson told Check Point Interviews:

The idea was that, while the Spider was off having his adventure, the other vigilante characters who were operating at the time would have also had to deal with this fascist police state.


The Spider Vs. Academia

Link - Posted by Chris on August 5, 2010 @ 4:56 pm in

freenitaThe great thing about PulpFest, besides seeing all those gorgeous pulps in one place, is the people you meet. One such kindred spirit is Arlene Hilfer, an english professor at Hiram College in Ohio, who we first met at last year’s show. She had a keen interest in PulpFest 2009 (her first convention) having just taught a pulp class at her small college using Erin Smith’s Hard-Boiled and Otto Penzler’s The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps as the primary texts. Like a sponge, she soaked up everything the pulp collectors and publishers could throw at her in one Saturday afternoon — and that’s a lot. She listened to my breathless spiel about The Spider Vs. The Empire State and even ordered a copy. (We had sold out of it on Friday.) We heard from Arlene again after the show when she reported that her granddaughter’s boyfriend had scooped up her copy of Empire State, and she had to order another one. Love it!

We were back at PulpFest last weekend for the 2010 show, and so was Professor Hilfer. She reports that last year for her pulp class she added the infamous “Ku Klux Klan issue” of Black Mask to the syllabus, something that the Mecham brothers of Girasol Collectables had turned her on to at the convention. This fall, with Hiram suggesting the theme of “war” for the school year, she is planning to have her students read The Spider Vs. The Empire State as part of the class. Fantastic! Tom Krabacher, who wrote the introduction to the book was at the show too, and he, Arlene and I had a rousing discussion about The Spider, the Depression, and what she might do with her students this semester. Who knows, they may even have an assignment to contribute original content to FightTheEmpireState.com. Watch this space for developments!

It’s Time To FIGHT

Link - Posted by Chris on July 27, 2010 @ 5:28 pm in

March of the Black Police

Age of Aces is proud to announce the launch of FightTheEmpireState.com as an intriguing new promotional site for The Spider Vs. The Empire State.

What if our history was pulp history? This new site treats the central conflict of the Black Police Trilogy as if it were real, offering photographs and posters from the New York rebellion of 1938 to delight fans of the book and to hook non-fans into the crazy world of The Spider.

I’m something of a purist when it comes to the pulps, so the book I designed includes only what was in the magazines. I allowed myself to create my own cover, but otherwise it’s all Gould and Howitt visually. And yet as an artist there was so much more I was inspired to do with the world of this imaginative Norvell Page epic. That’s how the “movie poster” advertising image originally came about, which was similar to the cover in its composition, but didn’t fit visually with the book. But what about other “scenes” from the revolution? And shouldn’t the Black Police have a cool logo? You can now find these things at FightTheEmpireState.com.

We wanted to mark PulpFest 2010, the first anniversary of our  top-selling book, by giving something back to the fans who have made it a hit for us. Hopefully we can also capture the imagination of people not steeped in the pulps, and grow the audience for this remarkable story and for pulp fiction in general.

Recognition for The Empire State!

Link - Posted by Chris on May 16, 2010 @ 8:17 pm in

indiewinnerWe are proud to announce that The Spider Vs. The Empire State: The Complete Black Police Trilogy is the recipient of two National Indie Excellence® Awards for 2010! The Age of Aces release has been named the winner in both the Cover Fiction and Book Interior Design categories. See the full list of finalists and winners here.

Empire State CoverAs the designer of The Empire State, I wanted to bring a more mainstream sensibility to the “pulp reprint book” and it’s exciting to see this strategy rewarded with a little mainstream attention. The feedback we’ve gotten from pulp fans over the last nine months has been terrific, but it’s gratifying to see that the book holds up outside pulp’s mean streets as well. As reprint publishers I believe we should always have our eyes on expanding the market for the fiction we love, while pleasing the faithful. If you haven’t seen this (ahem) award-winning design, check out our Empire State gallery page.

But as proud as I am of the design, people really need to pick up this book for the epic fascist parable contained within. No doubt if these stories were new, Norvell Page would be racking up awards too. Well, he’ll have to settle for accolades, like this post from Greg Hatcher at Comic Book Resources:

The book’s still got all the things that made the Spider such a great pulp series — the action and the heroics and the hell-for-leather pacing are all there in spades, the suspense never lets up for a second — but this time, it feels important, it’s really about something this time. As a result, it’s easily the most compelling Spider story I’ve ever read. For that matter, I’d go so far as to say that it may be the most compelling piece of pulp fiction I’ve ever read, and I’ve read a lot of it.

Agreed! The Spider Vs. The Empire State is available now at Amazon.com.

Empire State Extras

Link - Posted by Chris on September 23, 2009 @ 2:41 pm in

We have just posted three new galleries related to our latest release, The Spider Vs. The Empire State! The first gallery is for the pulp covers by John Newton Howitt, which we were not able to reproduce in color in the book. The second shows ALL of the interior illustrations by John Fleming Gould as they originally appeared in the three issues that were collected for the volume. This means, if you own a copy of Empire State, you can see how each image was filled out to make a complete two-page spread (strictly using Gould art, mind you). This gallery also includes the character portraits from each story which didn’t find a place in the book. The third gallery is actually photographs of the book, both inside and out. We opted to do this because so many people have said that, though the cover is stirring, when they saw the whole book in person they were even more impressed with the design. So, if you own a copy of Empire State, enjoy these “dvd extras” — and if you don’t, take a look and maybe you’ll be inspired to pick up a copy!

First Fridays

Link - Posted by Chris on September 4, 2009 @ 1:38 pm in

The Spider at Bay adToday is the first Friday of the month. If we were living in the Thirties, a new issue of The Spider magazine would be hitting newsstands today, such was it’s publication schedule. In fact, 71 years ago we may have shown up a little early, rushing to our local vendor in anticipation of “The Spider at Bay,” the second chapter in a continuing story — a rarity for The Master of Men. Would Richard Wentworth finally defeat the dreaded Black Police this month? The title didn’t sound promising. Today, of course, you don’t have to wait another month for the ending — you can buy the “Black Police Trilogy” complete in one book: The Spider Vs. The Empire State!

Another cool thing to think about, if it was the first Friday of September in 1938: As we clutch our mint copy of “The Spider at Bay,” principal photography for the first Spider serial, The Spider’s Web, had only just started on Monday! And — as Ed Hulse discovered fairly recently — star Warren Hull had only been cast one week ago, after John Trent dropped out at the last minute. You have to wonder if The Spider’s Web would be considered one of the top cliffhangers of all time without this genius stroke of recasting — and if Hull himself would have gone on to embody other serial heroes such as Mandrake the Magician or The Green Hornet?

Kenneth Duncan as Ram SinghBringing it back around to the “The Spider at Bay” … As this was the current issue of The Spider at the time, it is this magazine that figures prominently in The Spider’s Web photography and promotional materials. At right is Kenneth Duncan, who so ably played Ram Singh in The Spider’s Web and The Spider Returns, posing with the story that we just reprinted in Empire State. According to the Web promotions book, there were five stills of the actors posed with The Spider magazine to capitalize on the title’s popularity. Personally, I’ve only seen the Duncan portrait, and one of the Spider used in the magazine’s own two-page ad for the serial, pictured below. This ad ran in the January 1939 issue, which, as you probably guessed, hit newsstands on December’s first Friday.

The Spider's Web ad

71 years ago today

Link - Posted by Chris on August 5, 2009 @ 4:18 pm in

The City That Paid To Die original adOn August 5, 1938 a totally different kind of Spider story hit America’s newsstands. “The City That Paid To Die” was missing the usual oriental cults, pillaging beast-men or dissolving rays. In place of them, Norvell Page and the editors of The Spider magazine crafted a story that would bring home the day-to-day suffering of people in Europe at the hands of the Nazis. And as with the real fascist threat, it didn’t tie up neatly in one month. The incredible “Black Police Trilogy” devastated New York over the course of three issues (covering roughly seven months in story time). What is really unique about this saga is that in order for The Spider to take on an entire state, he must come out of the shadows and act as a leader — even a symbol — of the resistance movement. Age of Aces Books is proud to be offering, 71 years later, the first ever collection of these three stirring adventures of Richard Wentworth and his crew. Visit our The Spider Vs. The Empire State page for more details or to order from Amazon.

PulpFest 2009 report

Link - Posted by Chris on August 4, 2009 @ 6:25 pm in

The Age of Aces team had a blast at PulpFest 2009 this past weekend! This was our first time at a pulp gathering as official dealers, and though it mostly tied us to our table I think it was actually more fun because it gave us the opportunity to interact with so many pulp fans and curious people from Columbus. This was also a rare chance to hang out with some of the contributors to our books, like Scott Cranford, Don Hutchison, Sid Bradd and Thomas Krabacher. (more…)