Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Astonishing Adventures Magazine Interview Part One

Astonishing Adventures Magazine: Pulp Fiction by today’s brightest up and coming writers and established pulp authors. Edited and published by John Carlucci, Katherine Tomlinson and Tim Gallagher.

I have spent the past week dishing with these three about their love of pulp and how Astonishing Adventures (AAM) came to be. These pulparoonies are fucking fabulous. They're smart, passionate, driven like nobody's business and insanely articulate. I had such a blast going back and forth with each writer. I've known John for ages and adore the child. I'm crushing hard on Katherine, we've become instabuds. Tim and I are hitting our stride, too.

Because they've offered up such distinctive points of view and well thought out answers, I wanted each to be featured, so we can savor their words in three parts. Today, we're dishing with John Donald Carlucci. We know him from Wildwoods, his blog and as Editor JDC for AAM. When you start talking to him about pulp, the origin of his fascination and why it's such an important genre to him, you get to know him on a completely different level. He's quite an inspiring fellow. I had a great time with him working on this.

Without delay.... I give you the great John Donald Carlucci on Astonishing Adventures Magazine

KATIE: Why did you start Astonishing Adventures Magazine? What was the inspiration? When did your pulp love affair begin? Spill.

JOHN: I started AAM because no one else was doing anything like it in the web format that we planned.
Warren Ellis challenged his readers to start magazines exploring comics that lacked the snark you often see on the Internet. Tim Gallagher and I can snark with the best of them, but we also have an undying respect for pulp. A little snark slips in sometimes, but I think you just see the love. John Rogers and Bill Cunningham both inspired me with their discussions on the new marketing models involving the Internet and the serialization of movies with this model. They also discussed methods for marketing comic books and magazines free and supporting the product with advertising.

KATIE: When you started AAM, did you have a pulp specific agenda?

JOHN: Yes, pulp was the specific agenda. John Rogers put it best with this description. "Any time the heroes resolve a complex situation by running down a corridor as shit explodes around them and completely over-the-top implacable enemies scream imprecations through rising flames and our guys pause just long enough to say something somehow simultaneously smart and corny and heart-achingly true, then start running again because the clock is ticking and nobody saw this twist coming and they're making it up as they go along -- pulp."I loved (I use the word loved specifically) comics because of the adventure. The world teaches you many things and you take away the lessons and world view you want. Some people see the world as a cynical, soul-crusher who takes your dreams and throws them aside. Some people see the world as a place of injustice where the random dice rolls of God cause some to starve and some to gorge. Some walk around seeing the potential in life and the chances to make things better. Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Sci-fi helped me to keep the latter mindset as I was growing up. I wasn't inspired by my real life role-models as a child and characters like The Shadow, Captain Kirk, James Bond, Tarzan, or Remo Williams filled the void. I always tried to take the best from these stories and learn from them. Granted, these types of stories are products of their times and there is a lot to dislike. However, it's the spine of the story that is important.

KATIE: How many writers and artists do you feature in each edition?
We don't have a set number, but seven to eight seems to be a working number for us.

KATIE: Has AAM matched or surpassed your expectations?

The response has been incredible. I am constantly surprised by the caliber of work submitted and the names who do the submitting. We have had some tremendous talent move in our pages.

KATIE: What is the most exciting /challenging thing about being the editor-in-chief of AAM?

I'm not the EIC anymore; Tim Gallagher is in that position. I'm the publisher now. My challenge now is filling the marketing niche. I have to admit that I am the creative guy. Marketing is not my forte. I'm feeling my way around, but this isn't the easiest part.I also spend time doing the covers to the magazine. I know we're now getting responses from people interested in doing covers for us, but I haven't decided yet what to do. With issue three I think I've hit my stride on what I want for the visual style. This is another difficult part as Tim in the position of EIC means he should be shaping the magazine's flavor now. He does this with the content, but the layouts and cover are still my baby. Tim really is the man when it comes to pulp. However, he isn't when it comes to Bigfoot.

Katherine Tomlinson has been a machine churning out article after article for AAM. She has been Tim's right hand woman when it comes to shaping the content for the magazine.

KATIE: How are you leveraging the web to broaden your readership?

JOHN: FaceBook has been a great tool for networking the magazine. We've tried using the website with original content, but it is difficult with real-life jobs to produce material on a daily basis. Also, we never did get a lot of reaction from the site with the original material. This is probably our fault and we're overdue for a group discussion on where to go with it. is an incredible way to put your magazine on the web where people can read it like a real magazine.

Amazon CreateSpace is fantastic marketplace for your magazine. The resulting POD (Print On Demand) product is simply gorgeous. I did have a four month miserable time trying to get issue two on Amazon as we were being rejected for margins EVERY time I submitted the raw PDFs.There were a lot of angry people who felt, I think, we weren't being completely honest with how things were lagging with the print edition. Truth is that I reformated that 130 odd page magazine almost 25 times over that time. We had help at times and still couldn't solve the problem. I FINALLY got someone at CreateSpace to respond and we all determined that they had been screwing up the margins all along. The
second issue IS live and we all lived happily ever after.I could have easily put the issues back up on, but I felt the creators deserved more. Amazon would open markets that I could use to get more attention for the creators who make AAM. The third issue just came out and should be on Amazon soon.

KATIE: Lewch is my friend and I know he is OCD about monkeys and KLS needs to know why assssapy. Don’t hold back. Come on. Get it off your chest.

JOHN: Men are genetically wired to love monkeys. I can't explain why anymore than I can explain why bacon on ANYTHING makes it better. Just God's little whim.

KATIE: What pulp novel or film influenced you the most?

JOHN: H.P. Lovecraft has always been a main influence for me. It was only recently that a friend pointed out some of the racial overtones of some of his work that has soured it for me. I simply took his stories as a product of the times and enjoyed them for their own sake.Repairman Jack from F. Paul Wilson is one of my joys. He is considered to be the writer that other writers read.

FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child is another favorite of mine.

Titus Crow from Brian Lumley is also great horror pulp that borrows heavily from Lovecraft.Buckaroo Banzai was a tremendous influence in the 80s with me - right down to how I dressed. I also loved "Big Trouble in Little China". There have been a number of Jackie Chan films I consider to be pulp. Indiana Jones was another one of my favoritesI am more of a movie buff than I am of the books themselves. Don't get me wrong, I love them and I have some terrific collections. I am just more of a visual medium person when it comes to adventure.

KATIE: If I wanted to start a magazine, what advice would you give me?

JOHN: Do what you love. You'll have to live with it a very long time and you have to love what you're talking about. Find good people like Tim and Katherine to help you. You can get to the point you have tunnel vision and these people will straighten your ass out.

KATIE: Where can I buy AAM online and in print?

JOHN: is where you'll find all of the links to fulfill your shopping needs. We've also started a PayPal account to fund Tim's Bigfoot anxiety therapy. Feel free to donate. The big galoot is in such pain over this.


You can buy the latest edition of
Astonishing Adventures Magazine at and the first edition at Run. Read. Now.

Tomorrow, Katherine Tomlinson's Interview (Part Two) will be posted!

Thank you, Lewchers!


Writeprocrastinator said...

A brilliant expose on the trials and tribulations of publishing, as well as the pulp world.

You did let him off easy though, on his secret marriage to Darla Crane and inquiring (as well as "Enquiring" (sic)) minds want to know!

Anonymous said...

Writer Procrastinator, John only WISHES he were married to Darla Crane.

Katie, great piece on John. I like the way you spelled-out big words for him to make him sound more intelligent. Honestly, based on some of the phone conversations I've had with him, I thought he had a severe case of Tourette's Syndrome (an amusing story, that).

Unknown said...

"Tourette"? Is that the short french painter guy that died in love with a hooker?

You calling me french?


Joe said...

Wonderful interview. Thanks, again, for exposing me to the folks at AAM.


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