Friday, 15 February 2013

Pulp Manifesto: The Pulpiness of Tommy Thunder.

Last Pulp Manifesto I explained what ‘pulp’ was, so this time I’m going to explain what the Tommy Thunder series is and how (I hope) it will be influenced by pulp.

For those of you who have just joined us, pulp stories were written for magazines published on a monthly basis with a strong emphasis on genre fiction and entertainment value. They were cheap entertainment anyone could read on a regular basis and skewed towards the fantastic and the emotionally riveting. They were pulp.

And I want Tommy Thunder to be the same way. The goal of the Tommy Thunder series is to be as adventurous as humanly possible on a regular basis. If I had a mission status, that’s what it would be: ‘as adventurous as humanly possible on a regular basis’. I want to explore worlds and I want to have fun exploring them and I want to be completely unapologetic about that goal. Tommy Thunder is about adventure, set in the golden age of adventure, following a character whose political affiliation is ‘adventure’. That’s what the series is, that’s who Tommy is, but it’s an adventure that just happens to be served up via biplanes, zeppelins and gangsters because that sort of stuff just floats my boat.
Adventurous like this!
 But the series will also be pulp in form, not just content. 

Pulp magazines were regular, serialised storytelling. That was its ‘thing’. People could expect the next instalment of their favourite hero because that expectation was a key attraction of the medium. What people don’t realise when reading classic pulp stories is that this penchant for being the ‘monarch of serialised storytelling’ was a crown the pulp magazines lost in the 50s and 60s. A crown that was taken by television. Pulps went underground but much of the best work in serialised storytelling from that point onwards was done by television writers, cranking out the adventures of your favourite characters on the same time, same channel every week.
Say this isn't pulp and I'll fight ya...
 In this way, I want Tommy’s adventures to be serialised. Properly serialised. So instead of looking to film or other successful novel series I want to look to television and the way it has perfected serialised storytelling. I want a regular cast of characters. I want a full story with each ‘episode’.  I want it to be accessible to everyone. But I also want an overarching story that stretches across the whole series. I want the series to be about characters plural, not just one individual, and I want them to each have their B and C plots, just like in my favourite television series. I want guest characters each episode and new threats to the status quo and, above all, I want to be able to look forward to the next episode so I can spend more time with these characters I’ve come to love. That to me is the perfect television experience, so that is what I will be attempting to write with Tommy Thunder – the greatest adventure television series you’ve ever read.
This, but never cancelled.
 And I’ll be doing it with an unlimited special effects and stunt choreography budget. Yay!!!

Pulp was also cheap, punchy, and perhaps worst of all, released on a monthly schedule. Now cheap is fairly easy to provide – Tommy’s focus will probably be e-reading with print on demand for people who like the tree-editions – but the ‘monthly schedule’ bit is perhaps where things get a little tricky for me the writer. Writing a full story on a monthly basis, while still earning enough money to feed myself, is not easy. So maybe ‘monthly’ is out of the question. But my hope is that by the time I get round to releasing the first set of stories I’ll be able to write at least one full Tommy adventure every three months with a goal to whittle that down to one every two.

That’s the plan, anyway.

The Tommy Thunder series is going to be an experiment, an attempt to write a story out of time, but written in what I hope is a very contemporary way. If I do my job right it should be a whole lot of fun and I can’t wait to edit and finish the first several stories so I can finally see what other people think. But sadly these things don’t edit themselves :-(

Next Pulp Manifesto I may get stuck into one of my favourite topics – adventure writing. Adventure writing, how it does and does not relate to action writing, and why they don’t make adventure stories like they used to. Stay tuned...


  1. I want to see ‘as adventurous as humanly possible on a regular basis’ on your business cards ;p

    You've definitely got the characters to hook people.

    Love the typing gif - he looks like he's having great fun at least.