FBU: Jeff, how would you introduce yourself to the readers of the Flashback Universe?
Jeff: I’m best known for my chronologically-minded essays, particularly the book-length The Man of Bronze: a Definitive Chronology, about the pulp DOC SAVAGE series. It is a definitive chronology, rather than the definitive chronology, because each chronologist of the DOC SAVAGE series has his own rules for constructing his own chronology.
Adventure fiction made a lasting impression on my creative view as a child, and everything I write has Good Guys and Bad Guys – in capital letters. As an adult writer, I try to make my characters human, as well.
I primarily write fiction, and, combining my twin loves of superheroes and pulp, began THE GOLDEN AGE series in 2012. This resurrected, revamped and revitalized the largely forgotten characters of Ned Pines’ Standard, Better and Nedor publishing companies.
These characters, drawn from superhero, pulp and mystic milieus, fill the “Auric Universe”, as I call it.
FBU: Why you enjoy working with Golden Age characters?
With the characters already created and possessing backgrounds (and foes), it provides a great base to start from. Ideas just start flowing. That’s true of any “resurrection” of old characters (at least for me). I specifically wanted to try golden age superheroes because superheroes are my first love, and I thought that they’d work really well with my style, which is pulpish. They’re not far removed from the pulp era, and really, they’re the next step in pulp – visual, long on action and short on characterization.
I looked through the various defunct comic book companies and saw that Ned Pines’ companies (Standard, Better and Nedor) had the most characters. That gave me a lot to work with, which fit into my plan of introducing an entire universe of characters in the book – which turned out to the first in a series. I also didn’t want to use characters that other writers were using, like R. A. Jones and the Centaur THE PROTECTORS. It wasn’t until I’d finished the first volume, The Golden Age, that a friend of mine said, “You know, Alan Moore’s using some of these characters. Tom Strong is Doc Strange.”
D’oh! I found that he’d used very few characters and had altered them even more than me!
FBU: What new things have you brought to the characters
Jeff: Anyone who’s read golden age comics knows that the characters don’t have much personality, so that was my primary goal – giving the characters personality. This included detailed origins for them (which many didn’t have). I also did some revision to make the Auric Universe a more cohesive whole, altering a few names and such. Mostly, readers have liked this, though a few think I went too far in a couple of cases. That’s one reason I call it my Auric Universe – Ned Pines’ universe is still there, exactly as fans remember and want it. That said, I did as little revising as possible. Some of this was due to my lack of knowledge about the characters, relying on a couple of internet sources. I was over halfway through the first volume when I discovered online archives, and later books reflect my greater knowledge of the characters as I worked my way through the stories. I started to use more villains from the actual comic books in later volumes, and they are much more “comic booky” as a result (from Dark of the Moon on).
Here is a list of the books in the series so far:
|The Golden Age (Volume I)
In 1942, the world is at war. Spies and saboteurs seem to lurk around every corner in America. But, in the shadows, real danger awaits. Following the Battle of Midway, the Dragon Society of Imperial Japan sends agents on a secret mission to knock the U.S. out of the war. And only the superheroes of the Auric Universe can stop them.
|Mystico (Volume II)
1940: The Nazis are obsessed with mystical artifacts. Believing one was hidden in America centuries ago by the mysterious Knights Templar, the black wizard Nacht sends a party led by the sorcerer the Baron to find it. He is aided in his quest to gain one of the greatest prizes of all by Reinhard Heydrich, the infamous “Hangman”, who now controls the dreaded Vril power, becoming Nietzsche’s Ubermensch.
|Dark of the Moon (Volume III)
The Auric Universe's oddball, fringe and civilian heroes get play here as Dr. X, an “occult scientist”, sends his team, which includes his niece Cynthia, her fiancé Bob Stone, Judy of the Jungle and her companion Pistols Roberts of Europol, and a patchwork giant called Jobe, to investigate as cities are being destroyed by mysterious tidal waves.
|Future Tense (Volume X)
Like many other heroes of the Auric Universe, Major Future seemed to come from nowhere. In his case, it was more true than in others’. In 1943, a man with superhuman powers that included strength, agility and the ability to see radio waves, found himself in Los Angeles. How he got there and why he had these special abilities, he did not know. Impelled by some inner drive to help others, he took the name “Major Future” and became a superhero.
|Bad Moon Rising (Volume XI)
The spotlight is on Major Wonder, my homage to the fun (i.e., smartass) superheroes of my youth. In this volume containing six independent but interrelated short stories adapted from his series in MYSTERY and WONDER, he faces dark times that run the gamut from superhero to horror to Sci-Fi.
Included in each volume are End Notes, which describe the factual or historical basis for things in the story, as well as a documentation of the changes I made in original story or characters. There is also a timeline of events of the book, and a lexicon of characters used, as well as an Afterword.
My webpage is jeffdeischer.blogspot.com, where I post the first chapters of the first novel of each of my series, so that potential readers can peruse my work without having to spend several dollars on a trade paperback to find out if they like it or not. The publisher’s website is westerntainment.blogspot.com.
Thank you Jeff!