Sunday, July 10, 2005
Byron Preiss and WEIRD HEROES
Although I never met Byron Preiss and never had any dealings with him, I was sorry to hear about him being killed in a car wreck. (Livia wrote part of a collaborative private eye novel that he packaged, THE BLACK MOON.)
Although he worked extensively in the publishing business and produced many books, my memory of Byron Preiss goes back mostly to a day in 1975 or ’76 when I walked into Reader’s World Bookstore in River Oaks, Texas, and the title of a book on the shelves jumped out at me: WEIRD HEROES – A NEW AMERICAN PULP! By that time I’d been reading all the books that came out during the pulp reprint boom for about ten years. Doc Savage, the Shadow, the Spider, Operator 5, Jim Hatfield . . . I was a huge fan of all of them. To see a book that claimed to be a new American pulp was like a shot of pure adrenaline to me. Naturally I bought it, took it home, and read it immediately.
Well, the verdict was mixed. Some of the stuff I liked, some of it I didn’t, and some of it just puzzled me because it didn’t seem very pulp-like at all. But I enjoyed the series enough so that I bought all the other volumes as soon as they came out. And I always appreciated Byron Preiss for trying to recapture that pulp magic, even though I didn’t think he fully succeeded.
I think he also had a hand in Jim Steranko’s CHANDLER, what we would now call a hardboiled graphic novel, although the edition I bought when it was first released was more the size of a digest comic book.