Friday, November 29, 2013

A work in progress - - bringing FINN McCOOL to comics and film

 

. . . . . . material compiled from press release , the official site, and fundraising site

                                                                                                                                                                                                                     The website introduces the fundraising campaign with this statement . . . . .                                                                                                                                                                                     “You’ve seen Braveheart, Highlander, Rob Roy, and Brave - - - all great stories and ALL Scottish.   Now, cometh the Irish . . . cometh the heroes . . . The time has come for the greatest hero Ireland ever knew to awaken, and with him the ancient Gods and Goddesses of the underworld, the realm of faery, the sidhe.  Finn sends out a timeless call to the wild, to re-forge the Fianna of old and live again as the righful protectors of Ireland and the warrior Kings of old . . . FINN McCOOL . . . Celtic Ireland’s Greatest Hero!”

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This will mark the first time ever that the story of Finn McCool, the legendary hero of ancient Ireland, has been presented in graphic novel form.   The passionate creator and historian Chris Brosnan has captured the hearts and minds of  the Irish (in both ethnicity and in spirit) with his campaign to tell the story of Finn McCool.

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McCool was the warrior chief who founded the elite bodyguard to the High Kings of ancient Ireland, the Fianna, and saviour to his land.  In this contemporary re-telling, Finn now re-emerges after thousands of years as the legendary hero and mentor, returning from the underworld to claim his rightful place amongst the hero elite.  His story will be chronicled via a high quality graphic novel in hardcover.

To get further details and to contribute to the project, go to . . . . .

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/finn-mccool-celtic-ireland-s-greatest-hero--2

Among the perks being offered to contributors are signed copies of the graphic novel from creator Chris Brosnan; membership to clan McCool with signed and dated tribal certificate, signed copies of original artwork from artists John Walters and Courtney Davis; up to and including a journey to Ireland and tour of ancient sites associated with the Finn McCool mythology.

The producers of the Finn McCool project also plan to thank supporters by donating a percentage of profits from the graphic novel to a Dubin, Ireland charity.  The mission of The Irish Youth Foundation is to provide opportunites for children and young people facing adverse and extreme conditions to experience success in their lives. (Go to . . . http://www.iyf.ie/)   Per the official Finn McCool website, “part of what these stories stand for is the mentoring and initiation of our youth, by providing young people with a safe, integral and beautiful setting for them to explore their personal power while being mentored on the pathway of adulthood by trustworthy mentor figures. “

Chris Brosnan explains  “The first wave of funding gets us out into the world with this incredible story, on the Graphic Novel platform.  A completed Screenplay for the first film is here.  Part Two is well underway.  This is a  classic in the action adventure genre, and deserves serious studio consideration. But here's the thing - - - we don't want to just give it away to the big studios>  We want to produce as much of the project as possible with the help of public funding.  By doing so, we retain as much of the story's authenticity as we can.  From the Graphic Novel, to the big screen.  You are invited on that wild journey of creation, we want you to be a part of one of the finest stories to have ever come out of Ireland ... “

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Chris Brosnan is the Writer/Producer of the Finn McCool project.  His background is in Film and T.V. production in the UK, as well as writing and performing for the music and stage industry.

Chris started his film career working alongside the likes of Clint Eastwood, Ron Howard, Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman in big budget feature films, learning from the best in movies such as: "Willow", "Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves", "White Hunter- Black Heart", "Batman", and many, many more.

Although Chris started his career as an actor, he found that he preferred the other side of the camera.  He became a writer/producer for stage in the early nineties and has also worked on productions for the BBC as well as many Independents.

The images in this article  are from the talents of John Walters, known for his Stunning VFX on the latest Spartacus series for the US STARZ channel and Courtney Davis, the world's leading Celtic illustrator.  Their artwork will become the imagery for the Graphic Novel - - - Walters with the graphic page layout and Davis  with his incredible Irish knot-work which brings in the magic of the Celtic world. 

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Indie Update: EVIL JESTER COMICS ready to debut

EDITOR’S NOTE:  I currently receive between 6-10 invitations per month to contribute to various start-up independent creations via Kickstarter, Indie-Go-Go and other fund-raising efforts through social media.  I’m not a venture capitalist by any means (my disposable income is not the stuff of dreams), but it’s great to be able to contribute small amounts to worthy endeavors.  One of those was EVIL JESTER COMICS, and it didn’t come easy for the publishers.  I’m very happy to share this update with you. . . . .

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The much anticipated first comic book release from Evil Jester Comics will become available to its’ fundraising backers beginning December 7, 2013.  EVIL JESTER PRESENTS promises gorgeous artwork and tales from the mind of best-selling and award-winning authors.  The first issue should become available for purchase shortly after that.  Check www.eviljestercomics.com for updates.

Company founders Charles Day and Taylor Grant report that they have finalized the d20131103095555-EJC_1st_page_for_THE_BOXetails on formatting, printing, distribution and e-commerce and remind backers that “we’re not just creating comics - - we’re building a company behind the scenes too, and getting all of our systems in place for our ongoing publications.”

“We’ve got an absolutely fantastic new website in the works, five new projects we’re developing with world-class creators, and much more to announce over the coming months.  We’ll have the e-book version of our premiere comic - - EVIL JESTER PRESENTS  -- available for purchase in December, and the print version following soon after.”

“We’d like to thank our supporters for their patience. We have put everything we’ve got into this first book, and it will be worth the wait.  Quite honestly, it’s an emotional knockout - - we can’t wait for our backers to get their eyes on the lead story by Jack Ketchum (“The Box”, with art by Beni R. Lobel) as well as three more wonderfully dark and creepy tales from the minds of Jonathan Maberry, Joe McKinney, and William F. Nolan. “

At right = Page One story and art for “The Box”

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 Above: Two pages from “Swallowed” by Joe McKinney with art by Esteve Polls

Evil Jester Comics is the sister company to Evil Jester Press, successful publisher of some of biggest names in horror/sci-fi and fantasy.  Including Clive Barker, Eric Red, Piers Anthony, Ramsey Campbell, Stephen Volk, Joe McKinney, Rick Hautala, Gary Brandner, Jeremy C. Shipp, and many more. 

Charles Day a.k.a. The Evil Jester, is the Bram Stoker Award®-nominated YA author of THE LEGEND OF THE PUMPKIN THIEF, and the owner/founder of Evil Jester Press, a quality publisher of award-winning horror novels.  He is the Horror Writer Association's Mentor Program Chairperson and Co-Chair for the NY/LI Chapter, as well as a member of the New England Horror Writers Association.  Charles is also the editor of the acclaimed anthology TALES OF TERROR & MAYHEM FROM DEEP WITHIN THE BOX,  and co-founder of Evil Jester Comics.

Taylor Grant is a professional screenwriter, author, filmmaker, actor, Hollywood script consultant, and award-winning copywriter.  His work has been seen on network television, the big screen, the web, newspapers, comic books, national magazines, anthologies, and heard on the radio.
Taylor is the former Executive Editor at Stan Lee Media, where he worked closely with legendary comic book creator Stan Lee to co-develop award-winning entertainment for the Web.  Taylor is an Active Member of the Horror Writers Association and is the Co-Founder and Editor in Chief of Evil Jester Comics  . His critically acclaimed horror stories have been published in the Bram Stoker Award®-Nominated anthology HORROR FOR GOOD, as well as A FEAST OF FRIGHTS FROM THE HORROR ZINE, BOX OF DELIGHTS; and the forthcoming anthologies NIGHT TERRORS III, HORROR LIBRARY VOL. 5, FEAR THE REAPER, BLOOD TYPE, NIGHTSCAPES VOL 1., TALES FROM THE LAKE VOL. 1, and CEMETERY DANCE MAGAZINE.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Advance Preview: Legendary debuts new title

compiled from official press releases . . . . . . . .

Inspired by the famous verse - - “I walk through the Valley Of the Shadow Of Death” - - a new graphic novel from Legendary Comics  attempts to answer the question of “what if this ‘Valley’ was actually a top-secret location on Earth?  An elite team of Sepc-Ops soldiers will find out on  November 27th, the release date of SHADOW WALK.  

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The creative team behind the book has some impressive credentials:  Mark Waid (Daredevil, Kingdom Come); Max Brooks (World War Z, Extinction Parade); and Shane Davis (Superman: Earth One).

Here is a short synopsis of SHADOW WALK:

"I Walk Through The Valley Of The Shadow of Death..."

Is the Valley of the Shadow of Death a metaphor or could it actually be a real place?   Three separate paranormal incidents over the last century, in a valley near modern day Iraq, seem to give credence to these claims.   When satellite photos taken over the area  hint at a dangerous new energy source, the U.S. decides to send in a Spec-Ops team to locate and extract it before it can fall into enemy hands.

Led by John Raines, a deadly soldier who has been left to rot in Guantanamo, accused of allegedly killing his entire platoon after entering the very same valley years prior, the team heads into dangerous territory to battle demonic creatures with little chance of survival.  Armed with two arcane artifacts as their guide and protector, they will find out if the road to Hell just opened up on Earth.

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A preview of several finished pages can also be explored on the Legendary website at:

http://www.legendary.com/news/shadow-walk-preview-nycc

On the same website is a short interview with writer Mark Waid:

Legendary:  What is the collaboration like between you, Max Brooks and Shane Davis? How does that fit in with working with Legendary?

Mark Waid:  The thing that's most exciting is the collaborative nature of it.  It's not just me cranking through pages and coming up with comics in a room.   All the ideas fly between me, Max, Thomas, and Shane.  Everybody's got a say in it.   It really started with Max and Thomas (Editor’s note: Thomas Tull, Legendary founder and c.e.o.)  asking me about the storyline and what I thought about it.   It's really nice because Thomas could really just make me write whatever he wants me to write and he doesn't act that way.   I feel like I don't have to placate him because he's the head of the studio.  He's bringing me on board because he knows how to make movies, but I know how to make comics.   Let's figure out what the common storytelling ground is.

Let me give you an example:  Thomas originally pitched me what he pictured the first scene of a project would be in his head.   It would be a gathering of scientists trying to talk about this problem and pulling people together in conference rooms.   This would play great in a movie, but in a comic, if a bunch of people gathered together to talk, this would be death.   Thomas encouraged me to figure out how to display that in a different, more visual way.  That's the best thing about it: the core story is what Max and Thomas brought to the table, but the delivery and the texture of it is what I'm going to bring from a different side of story telling.

Legendary:   Can you tell us about the central characters, their arc and what to expect?

Mark:  It's not a story unless people move in advance and the characters change throughout the story.   Otherwise, it's just a chain of events.   There has to be a character arc, and in our case, it has to go back to the only man who ever visited the valley the first time and lived to tell the story of it.   We talked about this in the past, so this is not a secret that basically the pitch of "Ye, whoever walked over the shadow of death."   Thomas then thought, well what if it is a real place?   Max went back through connective tissue and found out this could be a real chain of events, and could be a real, yet undiscovered place.   The main character is a special forces officer who is the first man who survived this voyage, and he has to be the point man who finds out what's in there.   What I like about the story is as he learns faith, as he learns to rely on other people, as he learns teamwork, and as he truly learns not to be afraid, that is the story and lesson of the valley of death.

Monday, November 18, 2013

THE OTHER DEAD - - Revenge of the Animal Kingdom



THE OTHER DEAD #3 of 6 (IDW Publishing, release date November 13, 2013) Writer / Co-Creator: Joshua Ortega. Co-Creator: Digger T Mesch. Art: Quing Ping Mui. Colors: Blond. Letters: Tom B. Long. Edits: Tom Waltz. Creative Consultant: Kevin Eastman. Based on a film treatment by Digger T Mesch. Covers by Sam Shearon, Shane White, Kevin Eastman & David Millgate. www.theotherdead.com www.idwpublishing.com




After three issues of THE OTHER DEAD the half-way point in this grisly but gripping saga of a zombie plague has been reached. Events have been heating up to a boiling point. The furious and savage attacks by various species of the animal kingdom against humanity are now widespread, especially in the state of Louisiana which seems to be the epicenter. With a hurricane threatening to accelerate the devastation and isolation even further, Issue #4 should be on absolute fire and ready to explode. That leaves two remaining issues to bring everything to a resolution or conclusion, and this reviewer wonders when and how (and why) it will all end.

Let’s consider together some very popular zombie fiction (and film) for a moment. Fans of the comic book series dislike the television series, and vice versa. But would they both agree on the following? = Is it accurate to state that THE WALKING DEAD is first and foremost a human interest drama, with the gruesome tale of zombie infestation being a secondary concern? Please make a decision, pick one or the other, and hold that thought.

Now, will the growing readership of THE OTHER DEAD consider this statement? Is it accurate to state that THE OTHER DEAD is first and foremost a gory tale of the rise of the animal kingdom and their revenge against their persecutors (human race), with the human interest drama being a secondary concern? Please make a decision, pick one or the other, and hold that thought.



Perhaps it’s a commentary by Lynda E. Rucker that appeared in U.K. horror publication BLACK STATIC #36 (September-October 2013) that stimulated this thought and led me to ponder the creators’ intentions. (Sure, I could always contact them and beg the question. But I would rather wait for the end, and be either surprised or have my suspicions confirmed. It’s more fun this way.) In her column, Rucker considers horror storytelling and genre storytelling in general and debates whether they should entertain first and foremost, or contain meaning and purpose. Also, she asks “can the two approaches exist side by side?”

It came down to this comment by her, which really struck home and stimulated the thoughts that influenced the way I began this review:

Fiction and film that demands a bit more of its audience, however, is a little more endangered, because it doesn’t always go down as easily and (most significantly) it doesn’t usually make as much money. But one of the things I love most is a challenge. I like dense prose, difficult characters, uncomfortable truths, have-to-read-it-twice-or-more-to-get-it stories. Tell me a tale that will make me look at the world differently once you’re done, not because you’ve taken me out of the world, but because you have located me more firmly within it even as you’ve infused it with the supernatural, the numinous, the impossible.

Does that mean that PETA will embrace THE OTHER DEAD and utilize it as a call to assemble for their cause? (I doubt that, but it’s an interesting thought.) Will some meat-eating readers of THE OTHER DEAD begin to feel guilty about their food choices and convert to vegetarianism as a result? (That’s another interesting thought.) Could a reviewer by searching for meaning or just sharing some deeper thoughts generated by THE OTHER DEAD suddenly revive a sleepy readership and provoke some comments on the website? (That’s a third interesting thought.)

The only things that appear fairly certain at this point are that 1) not every character introduced will still be around by Issue #6; 2) the odds seem to be stacked against the human race; and 3) artist Quing Ping Mui is a major talent who deserves more recognition. So far, our intrepid group comprised of a death metal band, some hooker girlfriends, and a younger brother has suffered the loss of two of their members. Birds, gators, dogs and now squirrels (which can infiltrate a home rather easily) are all out for blood. If the critters don’t get them, the hurricane-fed tropical storm surely will. From gory images of animal savagery to a range of vivid facial expressions (which makes crystal clear the emotional trauma being experienced) to background scenery, detail, and a fantastic final page of the storm at its worst - - Mui can do it all.



What also occurs in Issue #3 is the President and chief advisor meeting up with rocker Azrael and friends after surviving an assault on their vehicle by a vicious pack of rabid, drooling dogs. (Finally, the President gets his kicks in.) And, for the first time he is identified by name as “Obama”. Make no mistake about the vaguely familiar man as drawn by Mui. Yeah, the Prez is here. There are also disturbing images and consequences associated with an escape from a gator assault on an SUV. Some redneck hunters may have found a sure-fire solution to curbing the spread of the virus, but at what cost? It doesn’t bode well for the final outcome here. And, if humanity survives at the cost of the animal kingdom, what does that do for the balance of nature? How might it change the future? Perhaps the creators have some surprises in store along the way. I’ll be watching this closely the rest of the way and will continue to post some updates here (doing my best to avoid completely spoiling it.) I highly recommend this mini-series. Go check it out.






- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, November 11, 2013

ADVANCE PREVIEW: Valiant gets bold with UNITY

 

UNITY #1 (Valiant, November 2013) Matt Kindt, writer. Doug Braithwaite, artist.

          If you are one of the few readers who still haven’t sampled a Valiant book, then UNITY represents the “perfect entry point” into one of the most cohesive and interesting comics universes that your hard-earned dollars can help support.  The first issue debuts this Wednesday, November 13, and offers 40 pages of good reasons to validate your decision to investigate further.

          There’s also no need to spend time reading back issues in order to understand what is happening in the book.  The back side of the cover offers six short panels with symbolic designs that summarize Aric’s origins (from X-O MANOWAR) and outline the present conflict (from both X-O MANOWAR and HARBINGER).  That brings readers up to speed so that they can jump right into the new story beginning on Page One.  (Of course, there are trade paperback editions available for those who decide they want more details of those back-stories.)

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          In short, the X-O MANOWAR is a suit of alien armor and remarkable powers that is presently bonded to a fifth-century Visigoth warrior who has been transported to present-day Earth.  He yearns to return to his homeland of Dacia, now known as Romania, and uses his powers to take over that country. That situation concerns all global governments who feel threatened by the new ruler.  In the United States a mental manipulator of vast resources known as Toyo Harada sees Aric (X-O Manowar) as a challenge to his plans of reshaping and modifying the world economy.  He uses the resources of the HARBINGER Foundation (which he heads) to form a super-team to defeat Aric and re-occupy Romania.

          The first seven pages of UNITY give us an initial overview of the battle over Bercini, Romania as seen through the eyes of a photo-journalist.  When Harada learns of Russia’s plan to retaliate with nuclear weapons (and hang the global consequences) he decides to intervene.  Utilizing some older military strategy obtained through consultation with Gilad  (THE ETERNAL WARRIOR), the plan is put in motion.

          While the first-ever Valiant super team makes a direct frontal assault on X-O, Harada employs NINJAK to use a back-door plan to infiltrate and attempt to shut down the alien spaceship that doubles as armored fortress.  Will the plan work?   We certainly aren’t going to try and spoil it for you.  Words alone can’t do it justice - - that’s why there are pictures as well.  Braithwaite’s art is very dynamic and helps move the story along at a rapid clip, abetted by the use of several diagonally-shaped panels. Readers can assume that the announcement of UNITY Issue #2 and #3 in the coming months certainly would seem to indicate that there is much more story to unfold.  Harada’s opening move seems more like a feint (to borrow a word from the photo-journalist used in the opening pages).  We recommend this series to all fans that love high adventure combined with solid story-telling.

Archer and Armstrong Issue 13 V1.indd                    Archer and Armstrong Issue 13 V1.indd

          Per their press release, Valiant has announced that UNITY #1 has initial orders of more than 68.500 copies, “cementing its status as one of 2013’s highest selling new series debuts.”  (Editor’s Notes: That achievement was surely helped in part by Valiant’s generous 100% buyback policy on Issue #1 offered to comics retailers.)

          Valiant has also announced that the subsequent two issues of UNITY’s first story arc - - December’s UNITY #2 and January’s UNITY #3 – will be 100% returnable for retailers who match or exceed 50% of their orders for UNITY #1.

          Based on pre-orders alone, “UNITY #1 has already outranked other recent success stories including EAST OF WEST #1, HAWKEYE #1, LAZARUS #1, MANHATAN PROJECTS #1, PRETTY DEADLY #1, SAGA #1, SATELLITE SAM #1, SEX CRIMINALS #1, TEN GRAND #1, TRILLIUM #1, VELVET #1, THE WAKE #1, and the list goes on, “ said Valiant Sales Manager Atom! Freeman.  “That’s incredible company to keep, and all of us at Valiant would like to thank the fans and our retail partners for their confidence and support.  UNITY #1 is a major milestone for us as a publishers and our biggest launch to date.  The sales figure only affirms that big things are on the horizon for this series, and that Valiant isn’t slowing down one iota.”

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Post-Halloween Readings: Zombies and Werewolves

THE OTHER DEAD #2 (IDW, release date October 23, 2013) Writer / Co-Creator: Joshua Ortega. Co-Creator: Digger T Mesch. Art: Quing Ping Mui. Colors: Blond. Letters: Tom B. Long. Edits: Tom Waltz. Creative Consultant: Kevin Eastman. Based on a film treatment by Digger T Mesch. Covers by Qing Ping Mui & Blond; RI and Samwise Didier; Kevin Eastman & David Millgate + Blond. www.theotherdead.com

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          The Mui cover should get the most attention this time, and rightly so. In great detail a pack of bloody infected dogs chew on the scenery including the American Flag.   The backdrop features a distraught President and advisor, while our main characters look for new, safer destinations.   The symbolism speaks for itself, perhaps hinting at an inevitable conclusion to this mini-series.

          So far, the variant covers by Kevin Eastman have been the least interesting.  That doesn’t mean they are awful or not worth collecting.  On the contrary, the Eastman covers are very colorful, depicting various animal species in the throes of zombie virus infection.  However, now that it’s been revealed that all the Eastman covers are inter-connecting to form a large mural they become even more fascinating.         IT6R5mq-otherdead23

           What began as an assumed revenge of the birds against the struggling death-metal band (that decided a little sacrificial blood-letting would launch them on their big breakthrough) continues in Issue #2.   However, despite the thinking of band member Jude that they caused the problem (“Dude, that shit worked, man - -“) horrific and tragic events are occurring continent-wide that have no connection whatsoever other than almost all animal life has been infected with a virus with rabid, blood-seeking symptoms.

          As the story continues, rocker Az and younger brother Tommy barely escape a kamikaze bird attack on their home.   They are rescued just in time by his hooker girlfriend Alyssa and her hooker roommate Justine and their handy SUV.  The best lines this issue are uttered by the pale and sickly young Tommy (quickly becoming my favorite character) as he frantically tries to update the ladies on recent events:  “Dead ducks. Zombie dead ducks. . . .Yeah, they weren’t normal – they were all bloody and dead, but they still were moving . . . and they were pissed.”)

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Things proceed at an even more rapid pace than in Issue #1.  Before things end (for now) in bloody fashion, the President (who has just enough distinct features to imply that he is Obama, but never identified as him) decides a visit to storm-plagued Louisiana is appropriate despite the warnings of his advisors and the Center For Disease Control.  After the birds, come the dogs (brought on by over-reaction by the President’s bodyguards - - just another case of Washington “wagging the dog”) and then the “gators” (who assault the reunited rock band and friends).

 

          Issue #2 does not disappoint in any department.  The art team captures all the gruesome detail in glorious Technicolor, as well as carefully depicted backgrounds and character details. Quing Pui Ming is a real talent and bears repeated watching.

THE DEVIL’S DOG Issue #1 of 3 (Monsterverse, October 2013) Story and Art by Scott Youtsey. www.thedevilsdog.com www.monsterverse.com

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With the use of just several colors (rather than the full four-color and combination explosion of most comics) and a minimum of dialogue, THE DEVIL’S DOG commands your attention through its quick lope through the first 27 pages of Act One.   Just as the tension builds to a breaking point, it ends.  Many readers will scratch their heads trying to make sense of what they have just seen while breathing a sigh of tension-breaking relief at the same time.  There is a wonderful use of visually stunning images of cinematic scope plus great use of inks and shading and depth to help create and enhance the mood.  It all makes more sense after reading the preface page, which also adds more layers and complexity to the story.  I didn’t read the preface until after I had finished the comic - - and I recommend you take the same approach for best entertainment value.

          The opening act takes place on the desert highways of 1969 Oklahoma as a hippie traveler with a dark sense of pleasure gets assaulted by a lycanthropic thrill-seeker.  All of this confrontation takes place within and without a fast-moving Plymouth Barracuda.  The attention to detail by Youtsey is admirable, as is the little touches he includes that brand the story as a real period piece.  You will be reminded of 1960’s drive-in movie thrillers, an intended effect that Youtsey confirms on his website.  This is one to watch.  Recommended.

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