I’m a bit confused, scared, flustered,and intimidated here. Bear with me, all right?
For over the past few months (and in the next few as well), I’ve been planning major reworks on my blogs/websites and I’m stuck as to the best starting point.
Part of the problem is my broad spread of intertwined metafiction. I’ve an urban fantasy series (the PARADIGMAGIC(TM) stories) that holds within it a publishing company (Bulwark Publications) that’s been producing fictions since the penny dreadful era. Within that fictional history, there are scores if not hundreds of storylines, worlds, characters, etc.
I’ve also been planning a nonfiction book/series about world building from the angle of what you need for role-playing games and for other storytelling (be it short stories, novels, screenplays, or some other long-form narrative or fiction).
And I don’t know what’s my best springboard from which to jump first.
Strangest thing is that ideas and plans tend to clump in groups of four, without even planning it that way.
- I could talk about the four core elements in world building, using examples from across all of my metafiction. I could discuss ways in which my writing over the past 20 years spans fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and pulp genres/styles. I could even provide four worlds (or more) for each of those genres and possibly a few sub-genres.
- I could address the four layers of my metafictional world(s)—the ParadigMagic urban fantasy and its secret societies keeping magic alive, the magical books of power in that world, the Bulwark Publishing House in its background, and its published fictions (or nonfiction). I could discuss the four most famous fictional characters built by Bulwark Publications and the “actual” figures (within the ParadigMagic world) from whose exploits those characters grew.
- I could discuss the four largest intellectual properties (IPs) of Bulwark Publishing—the Kharndam fantasy world, the Citiestoried pulp universes, the Bulwark Comics megaverse, or the multimedia sprawl of Wishland.
- We could talk about the four phases for comics within Bulwark Publishing—its Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Ages—from either the workplace details of publishers, editors, writers, and artists or from the characters and stories published.
- I could introduce you to the four most important (or at least prominent and storied) characters in each world, magazine, or in each medium Bulwark published since 1853.
- I could lay out the first four Citiestoried locales, provide their bibliographies, and discuss why they succeeded (or failed, as two of the first four did, which is why the seven most famous and continued locales survived after others fell by the wayside).
- We could discuss just the four continents of Kharndam or the four longest ruling power groups ever to hold sway over her people or the four major extinct races of Kharndam. Or we could delve deeper into the four most malefic artifacts ever to darken any Kharndamite’s soul.
- Would you prefer sci-fi and the primary interstellar vehicles or modes of travel for the Corps Cosmica, the Knights of the Atomichasm, the Comet Corps, or the Novaesir of Heigardanus the Bridgeworld? How about the four most prominent alien races for each comics era, the pulps, the radio dramas, or the movies?
- Perhaps you’re more of a noir or detective fiction fan and want to know more about the cursed city of Fairgeth and its four most notorious criminal family heads? Or the worst arcane menaces ever thwarted by Ace Barrigan or Solomon Lazarus or Reed Brand or Doc Enigma?
Starting to get the idea?
Here’s my decision, then. I’ll tackle things in fours but only within a focused plan.
- Any and all worlds will have between one and four key characters to act as narrators from whom information flows (though they may, in turn, bring in guest narrators for specialized subjects).
- The initial four posts are always an intro to a narrator, an overview of his/her standard setting/home, an overview of group(s) from which the character’s expertise and knowledge stems, and finally a broad overview of the narrator’s core study or knowledge base and hints of topics and details to come.
- This four-step process allows any reader an easy way to enter a new world, take in details and knowledge in small steps, and then delve through other parts of the websites or posts to find more. It also should leave small leading steps toward other new avenues of exploration.
- After each four-part intro, I’ll have at least one or two “four-point” blogs/posts on topics within their specialty to broaden more info on a world before starting the next narrator’s intro-quartet. Expect them to start from the broadest (and largest) topics and narrow down to smaller, if only to provide some sense of scope. (Though I do know that some of the narrators work the opposite way, starting from one subject and widening their lens beyond that focus.)
- Each of the posts, regardless of site, carries the narrator’s name within the title for ease of info tracking. All posts have tags and categories as well, allowing you to scan through the archives looking for connections not noted by one narrator or another.
As soon as I can, I’ll establish some ways to vote on potential topics, but don’t expect comments to stay open on this site; the primary slow-down and problem area online (for me) has been keeping spam commentary and robot traffic out. By shutting down direct comments, I’m saving all of us some headaches from site problems.
If anyone has a point to make or ask of me, please contact me via the Contact tab on this site or via Google+, Facebook, or Tumblr. I also plan to (hopefully) open up forums for discussions, should there be enough interest, on this site or my publishing site at vistagmedia.com.
As always, more later (and hopefully with some regularity).
I know I’ve talked about this on various social media sites, but with a week to go, I’ve yet to post my schedule for the first GRAND CON comics/game convention here in Grand Rapids, Michigan!
For those confused by the above statement, here’s the site with all the info on the convention. Be sure to pre-register if only to save $5 on your badge costs for the day or the full convention. The convention runs FRIDAY Sept. 20th – SUNDAY Sept. 22nd.
I’m very excited about this show for two simple reasons: I get to spend some time with two of my best friends, colleagues, and mentors: Ed Greenwood & Jeff Grubb! All three of us former and current Realms authors and game designers will be at the convention along with luminaries like Tracy & Laura Hickman, Mark Nelson, William Stout, & others! Thankfully, my Sunday schedule is light enough I hope to get down there early to see Tracy’s Killer Breakfast (co-DMed by Ed & Jeff as well).
If you’re interested in catching me (or Ed or Jeff), here’s my full convention schedule below.
World Building Seminar Basic Concepts Pt. 1
You want to build a world for a campaign or a story. Where do you start? Hear how the masters of the Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, and myriad other settings create their worlds and swap stories from the dawn of gaming.
Friday 10am – 12pm
Panelists: Ed Greenwood, Jeff Grubb, Tracy Hickman, & Steven Schend
World Building Seminar Advanced Concepts Pt. 2
World Building Seminar Advanced Concepts Pt. 2 – OK, you have your basic fantasy (or not-so-fantasy) universe. What now? The Elder Gods of the Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, and other great fantasy universes talk about what happens next and how worlds and campaign settings evolve.
Saturday 1pm – 3pm
Panelists: Ed Greenwood, Jeff Grubb, & Steven Schend
Charity Game: Lords of Waterdeep
Come play the Wizards of the Coast LORDS OF WATERDEEP board game with some of the designers and authors who’ve brought Waterdeep to life in games, comics, and novels!
Friday 3pm – 5pm (Ed Greenwood & Steven Schend)
Friday 6pm –8pm (Ed Greenwood & Jeff Grubb)
Saturday 10am – 12pm (Ed Greenwood & Steven Schend)
Saturday 3pm – 5pm (Ed Greenwood & Steven Schend)
Saturday 6pm – 8pm (Ed Greenwood & Jeff Grubb)
Sunday 10am – 12pm (Ed Greenwood & Steven Schend)
Hope to see a few folks from SW Michigan at the show!
Chuck Meade’s Journal
In the air and heading for Cleveland…horrible traffic almost made me late for the flight, so I’m doing what I’d hoped to do while waiting to board now…
Think I have everything I need for my discussions with A.J. and the letters are in my sport coat stowed above my head. More than a few on this plane heading for the convention, as I counted at least five teens or adults dressed in costumes waiting to board this flight. The person next to me, thankfully, isn’t a costumer, but he’s wearing an old comic-license tie from the 1980’s that proclaims him a member of Corps Cosmica—one of the few books I don’t know well because A.J. and Monty had nothing to do with that comic.
In my final prep and packing, I ran across some old memos from C.K. Gill to A.J. (& others) and must remember to ask him about Gill and their working relationship. This is the potential next book for me—examining Bulwark in the 1930’s and 40’s and mapping/analyzing through its big expansion in book (not periodical) publishing (& the republishing of all the fiction and comics) in the 1960’s and 70’s. If there’s too much material, it can be multiple books to encompass the full history of Bulwark and look at the current spate of repub projects (which, if rumors are true, will even bring back the dime novel materials for the first time in 100+ years).
What do I absolutely need to find out from A.J. this weekend?
- He and Gill were the only two creators from BC’s Golden Age comics to be allowed to do some initial work on the Silver Age when many IPs were rebooted and changed. Was this an internal decision, office politics, or simply a case of who had the time and interest?
- I’m curious as to how much input they had into people altering or tinkering with their older works and character IPs.
- Did they fight to keep control over characters to prevent massive alterations (I.E. Almost no changes with Brass Bradley and other A.J. creations)? Or was it Gill working in-house that protected them from too much altering?
- Might refocus this discussion/project even more tightly only on the comics of the 1940’s and the Soltare/Gill input, then look at all the iterations of two more successive generations of those same characters/IPs…especially if I can get AJ to give me more of an insider’s view than I can already glean from internal company memos et al.
IMPORTANT—Don’t forget that this man is among the last of those with direct knowledge of what Bulwark was like in its formative years, so don’t waste a second on minor or inconsequential discussions!!!
“Excuse me, sir.”
I keep my “Damn!” to myself as I look up at the male flight attendant who’s moving past my seat. Oh yeah, first warning.
“We’ll need all electronic devices turned off before we head in for our landing, sir. Ten more minutes, okay?”
“Fine,” I say, turning my attention back to the screen. No use. Lost the train of thought anyway.
I queue up my checklist, then realize I need a connection to check on my room reservation and all that. Guess it’ll have to wait until later. I close the laptop and stow it in my briefcase beneath the seat in front of me.
When I sit back up, I feel the tension from my fingers all the way down my back. I stretch my fingers to loosen up forearm tendons at least, while I sit. Could really use a massage, if there’s time this weekend and if the hotel has a massage therapist.
The flight’s on time, thank the gods, but I have to hustle if I’m going to get to the hotel in time to meet up with A.J. and his aide for dinner. At least we’re meeting at the hotel, not another restaurant, so there’s that. I hope that doesn’t mean we’ll get interrupted a lot by convention-goers. Assuming he’s okay with discussing them in front of this Sam Herneson, I’d love to go over the letters tonight.
And what’s the deal with this guy, anyways? He’s obviously someone who A.J. and Mr. Kharm trust, but what’s his actual role and job within Bulwark? Anyone who’s actually worked with him say he’s open about not having much publishing pedigree, but he’s running a high-profile (at least internally) project of republishing the dime novels. Most of the Repub team seems relieved to have him in charge, thought it’s probably more relief about not reporting to David Brandt, whose ego is only surpassed by his love of semicolons.
Therese in Archives thinks Sam’s secretly either a son or nephew of Oscar’s, given his levels of access at all Bulwark offices despite a lack of experience, history, or degrees. She did say he’s almost always working directly for Mr. Kharm. While she said she knew more, she kept getting sidetracked telling me her fantasies about the guy. That tells me he’s a long-haired with tattoos and a bad-boy vibe—Therese’s overt weakness—and knowing she’d readily throw herself onto a table for the guy is something I wish I could un-hear. Almost as disturbing as having my drunken boss hitting on my girlfriend at my first Bulwark Christmas party four years ago, but not quite.
Conrad Post is the most buttoned-up cliché of an editor I’ve ever met, and his insistence on professionalism is how said drunk boss got canned before New Year’s (and Conrad liked my background enough to promote me into his job). Conrad fumes if anyone under his watch doesn’t have the requisite training or degrees he thinks they should have. Seemed strange to me that he’s only got glowing comments about Sam Herneson despite his total lack of background or degrees.
Stranger still, he stepped out of his office when I was leaving and whispered, “Give my regards to A.J. and Sam both, but warn them they still owe me eight Januscripts between the pair of them. They’ll know what I mean, hm?” With a rare smile and rather enigmatic chuckle, Conrad waved me off…and I’ve never known Conrad to be amused by anything outside of P.G. Wodehouse.
Well, guess I’ll learn about him soon enough. About two hours before dinner, assuming I get to the hotel in time. I stand up briefly to let my window-side companion out and decide to get my sport coat on. I take it out of the overhead bin, shrug it on, and pat my chest pocket…where A.J.’s letters should be but aren’t.
The fasten-seatbelt chime sounds just as my stomach falls through the floor of the cabin.
TO: Charles Meade
DA: July 21, 2008
RE: Corporate event at GrealKon/Schedule Conflicts?
Chuck, here’s an internal PR flack memo (built from the internal bibles on our IPs & products) just to give you an idea of at least one of the headaches you’ll have to endure while in Cleveland this weekend. Expect to schedule your meeting(s) with AJ around his interviews with various and sundry about this game, its touchstones with his work, etc. I’ve already informed those from GMG running the show down there that you are NOT to be wasting your work time playing this sort of thing–leave that time for the children.
Online Thrills I & II
This MMORPG was created and launched by Earthorizons & GMG in October 2000 as a pulp-driven interactive world in which players could become 1920s and 1930s pulp characters working alongside many Bulwark pulp characters. The game’s core setting is the cursed city of Fairgeth, the standard location for stories of Ace Barrigan and other characters (though the game adds many characters from a variety of 1930s Bulwark pulps and comic books).
Since its initial worldwide launch in October 1999, Online Thrills has built and maintained a modest average audience of subscribers in the millions. Its two releases (in 2000 and 2003) were City Under Fire (an expanded Fairgeth moved up to the 1930’s filled with gangsters, Nazis, and demons) and Haunted Highways (expanding the territories and adding 4 smaller towns and the environs among them and the Fairgeth metropolis). Since that third release, the game has relied on fans to build their own sub-games using online generators and the tacit approval of the game developers to use some open-sourced elements of their original platform.
Plans are in the works for a major and far more immersive game experience to be released in late 2008. All information on the game has been tightly controlled, and all that has publicly been revealed is a release schedule:
- Online Thrills II: Fairgeth to New Jericho (September 2008)
- Online Thrills II: New Jericho to Fort Corax (February 2010)
- Online Thrills II: Ravens to Svetlantzek (June 2011)
- Online Thrills II: The Crossroads (August 2013)
Fans have been chewing on these scant details for more than a year and have built anticipation on seeing the other Citiestoried locations (and their characters). However, even more excitement comes from the Crossroads, since it has always been exclusively a Bulwark Comics notion and fans want to see even more modern and more powerful characters in their games.
As of June 18, 2008, the online discussion forums for Bulwark Publications have exploded with theories and commentary with the announcement that there would be a major preview and chance to play the beta version of the game at GrealKon in Cleveland on Saturday and Sunday only. Lotteries among ticket/badge holders for the convention would take place on Thursday and Friday nights with the lucky 150 players chosen at random among those at the convention and announced at 11:58pm on Friday night with demos starting when the main hall opens that Saturday morning.
TO: Oscar Kharm, A.J. Soltare
FR: Charles Meade
DA: July 20, 2008
RE: Men of Letters & Action TOC
Misters Kharm and Soltare,
Yes, I know you’ve both insisted many times that I refer to you as Oscar and A.J., but habits and propriety die hard among those of us in the editorial trenches.
That said, I’m sending along the tentative table of contents for Men of Letters & Action for your perusal and tacit approval. We can discuss any particulars about the structure when I get to Cleveland this week or when Mr. Kharm can visit our Chicago offices.
In short, we’ve opted for a chronological structure. We break the book into four parts of two decades each, allowing us to see the initial letters build toward one of the best writer friendships on record. While this makes some topics and details more complex and harder to track/follow for readers, it’s more organic and lifelike in that we simply sort the letters by date and let the conversations speak for themselves.
While Mr. Montgomery’s writing begins almost ten years before Soltare’s, this gets ignored other than in conversations discussing such works after the fact. I’ve chosen only to list his complete bibliography as an appendix (the same with Mr. Soltare’s output as well). This allows the book to be more about their friendship and “things that mattered to writers of their times” rather than a catalogued biography of the writers and their works.
I’m still working to gain Conrad’s approval to make it easier for new readers to follow the threads of conversation among the letters. This means more sidebars to underscore the significance of some comments or simply to remind folks of the contemporary history in your letters (as an off-hand reference to “the on-going problems in [X]” needs more than a letter’s date for clarity). His argument against such a move is simple—it adds cost in my time to make said clarifications, work for graphics in layout and execution before printing, and it adds another check/step during galleys. I’ll have another discussion with him before I leave for Cleveland and let you know the status of the book and its prospective layout at that time. I’m holding out hope that sidebars will win over footnotes, but as long as people can understand what’s being discussed, we all win.
Here’s the very basic TOC, and I can clarify exactly what’s in each chapter when I meet you. In short, it’s a basic assumption that each chapter will roughly span 6-8 years to allow us twenty years per part and within three chapters. However, the correspondence was greatest between 1936 and 1954, so Parts I and II have more chapters and pages than the remainder of the book.
Prologue/Intro by Publisher Oscar Kharm, as one of the few Bulwark professionals who has had connections and contact with both men.
Part I: The 1930’s and 1940’s
Chapter 1: The Start of a Beautiful Friendship (1931-1935)
Re: introductions, first collaborations, creation of Solomon Lazarus
Chapter 2: Fighting through the Great Depression (1936-1941)
Re: the Redressor, the Gaslight, Lexicon Jones, Ace Barrigan, Brass Bradley, Fairgeth & other Citiestoried locales/characters, etc.
Chapter 3: The War Years (1942-1945)
Re: Real world issues, continuing work outside (and inside?) the war, etc.
Chapter 4: Help Across the Waves (1946-1949)
Re: post-war England & America, changes in tone & style, etc.
Part II: The 1950’s and 1960’s
Chapter 5: Shine Up the Old (1950-1955)
Re: slow work years, bits about radio, movies, character revivals, etc.
Chapter 6: Feeling Outside of the Process (1956-1963)
Re: editorial changes to older materials, reprints, & paperback collections
Chapter 7: Spanning the Generation Gaps (1964-1969)
Re: Bulwark’s Silver Age comics work, Beatle mania, “Sixties”
Part III: The 1970’s and 1980’s
Chapter 8: Stories in Motion (1970-1979)
Re: the cartoons & comics off your old works and new
Chapter 9: A Third Renaissance (1980-1989)
Re: Bulwark’s Bronze Age comics work & spin-off licenses
Part IV: The 1990’s to Today
Chapter 10: Sunset Years (1990-1996)
Re: reception of old work, respect of peers, awards & new reprints, etc.
Chapter 11: AJ Alone (1997-2006)
Re: letters to others about Monty and/or his family to AJ, modern work on major revamp/relaunch of many properties
Chapter 12: Epilogue
Re: AJ’s obits for John Farnsworth, Ed Page, and Blake Montgomery
Part V: Appendices
Bibliography for Blake Hart Montgomery (1924-1996)
Bibliography for Alexander John Soltare (1931-2008)
Characters Created or Co-Created by Montgomery or Soltare
Again, thank you both for all your time, input, and aid in this project. I look forward to seeing you Thursday night, AJ, and perhaps you can solve that mystery regarding those odd letters for me.
Charles “Chuck” Meade
PS: Just for full sharing of information, here’s my original thematic plan/TOC that fell by the wayside five months back.
I originally liked this plan better as it encapsulated discussions and topics that spanned decades of your correspondence. It also let browsers find snippets of info where they expected them. The major problem with this organization was time consumption in terms of sorting and making the anecdotal editorial anecdotes out of the bodies of the letters. It also left behind the obvious friendships built by said letters and merely used your letters as sources from which to build a Bulwark publishing history. Still, thought you’d find it of interest in some way.
Opening chapter/intro that sets the stage with your initial letters, introductions, and getting to know each other as writers and people
Dime Dreadfuls and the British Pulps?
Chapter on The Redressor, the Gaslight, and other British exclusive characters
Ace, Brass, Cops, & Detectives
Chapter on Brass Bradley, Ace Barrigan, & other noir/detective pulps
Cities Made of Stories
Chapter on all “Citiestoried” locales (Fairgeth, New Jericho, Norbridge, Fort Corax, Myrford, Vereule, the twin cities of Svetlantzek, & Portanika) and their work therein
Kharndam Rising / Kharndam Come
Two chapters on the fantasy world for which you two are famous (one on the building of the world & pulps end; one on the comics and the reprints in the 1960’s and today)
A Gold Mine in Four-Colors
Chapter on the other Golden & Silver Age comics works by both men
Sundry Wonders and One-Offs
Chapter on random works, stories not linked into any series (at least at first), etc.
Under Cover: The Bulwark House Names
Chapter on the discussions on the corporate house names, your work therein, your thoughts (beyond what’s noted in the letters for a sidebar, perhaps?), etc.
Men Illuminated (A.J. & Monty & the Movies)
Short chapter on the licensed use of many characters, your involvement (or lack thereof) in the movie or television versions, etc.
By the By
Chapter for random and sundry letters and discussions that don’t apply within the above structure but retain some benefit for the readers in terms of learning more of what makes their favorite writers tick
Chapter for discussions on the passing of contemporaries, friends, and others; also includes AJ’s published obits for John Farnsworth, Ed Page, and Blake Montgomery
Complete bibliographies for each author, sorted chronologically; also has lists for each character created or co-created by said authors and their appearances (and how many appearances of said characters were not done by the two authors in this book)
Bulwark Publications—A History</p>
Bromley Kharm came to the American Colonies in 1679 as an importer of British goods (via his family’s many businesses in England). His business and family prospered, and he died succeeded by four sons and five daughters (all of whom had equally sizable families). By 1756, his great-grandson August established a printing-house in Boston and named it Bulwark Press.</p>
“A Treatise on the Natives along the Allegheny,” an eight-page pamphlet by Samuel Alriss, became the first publication from Bulwark Press in early October 1756. There are three extant and complete copies on display at requisite Bulwark Publications headquarters in Toronto, London, and Chicago and another copy owned by the Kharm family at their English estate. Five known copies remain in private hands, while another nine exist at Oxford and various Ivy League colleges. The last time a copy came to auction in 1997, the “Treatise” sold for $38,000 to an unknown buyer.</p>
During the rise toward American independence, many younger Kharms supported or actually became Sons of Liberty (including Lincoln, August’s nephew, and his children). Many others (including the related Hullark and Arlan clans) remained loyal to the British Crown and emigrated among various Canadian provinces by 1772. Family skills and traditions stayed strong, and the Hullarks remained printers and publishers with Guardian Publishing.</p>
In 1843, the last British Kharm relation died without issue, leaving the eldest of the North American Kharms—Barnett Kharm, age 52—a baron’s title and manor (Geneva House manor outside of Chichester, Sussex) with additional properties and lands around the United Kingdom. While his two elder sons remained in Canada with their printing business, Barnett and his youngest children emigrated to England for the first time.</p>
By 1855, Cullen Kharm built Rampart Press in London and restored the British family name & fortune. By 1897, he unified business relations with his Canadian and American cousins to merge the three printer-publishers under one corporation—Bulwark Publications. Cullen placed his five sons at the heads of the largest and most lucrative Bulwark holdings before his death in 1901. Control of Bulwark was a contentious issue for decades because of this heavy-handed move. After influenza wiped out the entire American branch of the Kharm family (and many relations by marriage) by 1920, the English branch of the family has had unshakeable control of the publishing empire.</p>
Bulwark’s most visible growth spurt came between the 1920s and the 1940s when four different houses in three countries put between 15 and 30 Bulwark-owned pulps on the stands at any given time. As the era of the fiction pulps began to fade, Bulwark diversified its properties by licensing radio and movie serials, toys, comic strips, and comic books. Guardian Comics printed its first comic books in 1936, followed by Bulwark Comics in 1940. By 1942, the two companies’ comics and characters were only eclipsed by National Periodicals/DC Comics and Fawcett Comics in the 40s.</p>
Another reason for Bulwark’s longevity and success (at least according to some in publishing circles) is their apparent honesty toward its creative staff. Since the beginning of the 20th century, all of Bulwark’s companies have reliably paid higher rates for short and long fiction and nonfiction work and even paid out royalties on reprinted materials. However, some have always complained about a lack of control under their auspices. Bulwark has had an ironclad work-for-hire standard on all of their published and licensed materials since 1899 (with the only exception being the WISHLAND book series as a shared-copyright with the Ventesch family). In short, Bulwark always paid better in exchange for total control of characters and worlds created under its roof.</p>
Bulwark Press: 1797-1897
Guardian Publishing: 1958-1978
Rampart Press: 1877-1940
Bulwark Publications: 1940-present</p>
Bulwark Press: 1797-1878
Rampart Press: 1878-1940
Bulwark Publications: 1940-present</p>
Chapbooks, Pamphlets, & Limited Publications
Bulwark Press: 1756-1877
Guardian Publishing: 1772-1825
Rampart Press: 1855-1877</p>
Guardian Publishing: 1936-1958
Bulwark Publications: 1940-1948; 1964-1991; 1998-2008; 2013?</p>
Dime Novels & Dreadfuls
Bulwark Press: 1849-1921
Guardian Publishing: 1846-1876
Rampart Press: 1855-1897</p>
Fiction Magazines & Pulps
Guardian Publishing: 1902-1927
Rampart Press: 1902-1924
Bulwark Press: 1902-1973
Bulwark Publications: 1989-1998; 2009-present</p>
Games & Licensed Print Media
Guardian Media Group: 1978-present</p>
Guardian Publishing: 1825-1939 (Guelph Guardian)</p>
Guardian Publishing: 1877-1916
Rampart Press: 1877-1920
Bulwark Publications: 1902-1973; 1980-present</p>
Non-Print Media & Other Licenses
Bulwark Publications: 1928-present
Guardian Publishing: 1991-present</p>
Founded by one family and its offshoots over four centuries, Bulwark Publications is a multinational publishing conglomerate spanning England, Canada, and the United States. The company has been in existence in one form or another since the 18th century, though it became a household name in the early 20th century with its pulp fiction magazines and related licensed ventures into movie serials, radio, newspaper strips, and comic books. The many characters and properties that came from those years have spawned a publishing empire embraced by more than five generations across the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.</p>
Bulwark Publications—Current Structure
Bulwark’s global corporate headquarters has been in Toronto since 1989; it previously centered its offices in London from 1877-1940 and Chicago from 1940-1989.
The Kharm family always maintains a presence in the boardrooms and among the executives of all the Bulwark companies. As majority shareholder, Sir Oscar Kharm serves as Bulwark’s Publisher. He splits his time between Geneva House (his manorial home in England) and his primary offices in Toronto. Oscar shares CEO responsibilities with Sarah Kharm, his niece and chosen successor, who lives in London and operates out of Bulwark’s offices there. Bulwark’s COO James Childs Sr. handles many day-to-day operations for the conglomerate from Toronto. The Kharms or their close relatives control all the major satellite companies as well:</p>
At present, there are nine distinct corporations in the Bulwark conglomerate and more than a dozen publishing houses or imprints among them. They are listed below in priority of their corporate importance and seniority within the conglomerate.
- Bulwark Press—printing and publishing (Toronto); Caroline Kharm, CEO;
- this press controls the Canadian output of Bulwark Publications.
- Rampart Press—printing and publishing (London); Larry Kharm, CEO;
- this controls the British holdings of Bulwark Publications.
- Honor Press—printing and publishing (Chicago); James Childs Jr., CEO;
- this press controls the American arm of Bulwark Publications.
- Hartale Inc.— distribution and shipping (Liverpool); Jennifer Kharm, CEO;
- this company handles distribution & shipping of all Bulwark Publications.
- Jennifer’s son Maxwell Kharm manages the American office in St. Louis and her daughter Sabrina “Bree” Kharm leads the Vancouver office.
- Vellumedia—paper and materials production (Edmonton); Simon Kharm, CEO;
- all Bulwark publications receive materials from this company.
- Guardian Media Group (GMG)—game production (Vancouver); Elizabeth “Betsy” Childs, CEO
- this company handles print and non-electronic games for Bulwark Publications.
- Bulwark Comics (Chicago); Henry Vance, CEO;
- this company controls comic books & graphic novels for Bulwark Publications.
- Earthorizons—digital media & animation (San Francisco); Susan Vance, CEO;
- while each company may have its own digital/web division, this group handles video games, animation, and the like for all subsidiaries.
- Aurichorn Associates—merchandising & public relations (New York); Michelle Childs, CEO;
- this PR firm is solely for the Bulwark conglomerate’s use & its effectiveness and control of licensed merchandise is only rivaled by the Walt Disney Corporation.
Due to semi-independent development of its corporations over time or absorption of other companies, there is overlap within the conglomerate. Bulwark, Rampart, and Honor Press each have at least seven divisions/houses for general fiction, genre fiction, history & politics, travel & geography, reference & education, craft/hobby & how-to, and technical/science books. Additional houses include occult/New Age/esoterica, photographic & art reference, scholastic references & text books, and others as determined by markets and interests. Example imprints and houses include but are not limited to:
- Bardic—reference and educational (Oxford)
- Crossroads Books—travel, geography (Ottawa)
- Earthworks—video games (San Rafael, CA)
- Enigmabula—occult, esoteric, New Age (Seattle)
- Hullark Books—how-to guides & cookbooks (New York)
- Merlon Books—world politics, current events (London)
- Nuvista—genre fiction (New York)
- Parapet Books—general fiction (Cambridge)
- Precinct Press—craft/hobby, gardening, cookbooks (York)
- Prospect—general & genre fiction (Vancouver)
- Seven Scriveners Press—writing, publishing, how-to (Toronto)
- Stockade Books—general fiction (Milwaukee)
- Third Vision—genre fiction (Dover)
Chuck Meade’s Journal 07142008 543pm
Good day, productivity-wise. Got a lot off my desk—good, considering the hole punched in my schedule next week. Didn’t expect a quick response from Kharm on my offer to travel to Cleveland, let alone a plane ticket and hotel reservations messengered to my desk within three hours of my email.
Conrad seems put-out by my communications with Kharm, even though he’s the one who put me in touch with him. Apparently, he got an email from the Bulwark head office informing him of my trip before I’d talked to him or he’d read yesterday’s emails. For someone who prides himself on equanimity, Post gets very bent out of shape when he feels someone’s not using “proper channels.” Must CC: him into any conversations with AJ et al or he’ll make life miserable thinking I’m after his job. Like I’d want all that responsibility of contracts and editorial plans and no actual hands-on fun working with authors…
Conrad should worry more about Brian Drake, his sycophantic new editorial assistant who is after any job above his. Sheryl says he’s a political gossip who edits people out of his way by innuendo and rumors, not actual ability. That does hint how he advanced out of a Marketing production assistant’s job, but Drake shouldn’t be in Editorial with such poor proofreading skills. Must also warn David about him—Drake’s fishing around the Reprint offices a lot sniffing for position.
Must wrap up soon for that date with Rachel—some new place she found in the Loop. She’s picking me up here, so I’ll hit the gym then shower and change here before she gets here at 7. Hope she’ll forgive me for giving up the weekend after next to go to Cleveland—I’ll try and make it up to her by taking her to Lake Geneva this weekend. I’ll just have to work late every other night before the trip to keep on deadline.
Desk of Charles Meade—TO DO for July 15
A) Do another pass on the Table of Contents to forward to Kharm ASAP and have at hand for my meetings with AJ. MUST finish TOC and NOT make any changes UNLESS the letters prove to have info that can’t be ignored.
B) Rework my internal calendar to move any meetings from July 23-30 and memo anyone who’d need to find me during the six days I’ll be out of the office.
C) Rally any and all materials together on which I have questions, copy them all (since I can’t take any originals with me aside from those damned letters I can’t read).
- Copy of the TOC for AJ’s okay or at least as a platform to discuss the book structure (as my recheck of the contracts allows him the right to refusal on the book up until it goes to press);
- Copies of any stories discussed by Monty & AJ where they grouse about editorial changes
- Remind Karl in Archives to scan and send me PDFs of the originals as they saw print in Sagas Supernatural;
- Have Burt in Archives see if any original mss of the same stories still survive in Archives (AJ reclaimed all his mss but Monty rarely bothered to get his originals back, so there’s a chance of even more details or changes to check.);
- Also get PDFs of ALL their reprinted versions (at least 3 versions of some of these stories out there, not including the comics adaptation of Hero Thrills #1);
- See if there’s an internal paper trail to identify if the main or assistant editor did said changes (as their external opinions have not always proven correct);
- Double check with AJ on my sidebars—highlighting the differences between the standard Bulwark in-house style and how much freedom the two of them were given beyond other authors.
- Dig up all I can on Solomon Lazarus® as he’s the crux of Chapter 4 as the co-creation of both men.
- Bring list of all appearances to double-check as the first 6 stories were credited to D.W. George, a Bulwark house name;
- Which were Monty’s, AJ’s, and Edward Page’s?
- Were there any others writing SL other than the non-pulp versions?
- Compile a DVD of any/all PDFs for reference instead of relying on hard copy.
- Clear with Conrad to make a copy for AJ as well.
- Have at least a list of ALL SL appearances, whether AJ or Monty had anything to do with them (Golden, Silver, Bronze Age comics; radio plays; the “Lazarus Gambit” serial; cartoons?)
- Bring list of all appearances to double-check as the first 6 stories were credited to D.W. George, a Bulwark house name;
- Perhaps interview AJ to delineate who brought what to the table on which characters?
- [Personal] Get my personal Kharndam Collected volumes out of storage for AJ’s signature on them as the last of the Kharndam Four still alive.
Chuck haplessly stumbles one step closer to the abyss…
TO: Oscar Kharm
FR: Charles Meade
DA: July 13, 2008
CC: Sam Herneson, Conrad Post
RE: Confusion within Soltare/Montgomery letters
[CM] I can’t seem to understand the issue of these letters—specifically a packet of nine letters wrapped with a gold-trimmed green ribbon. Consisting of scattered dates between June 1, 1947 and October 21, 1969,
[OK] Please detail where, how, and in what state you found said letters, as I wasn’t aware of anything beyond standard Bulwark mimeograph or photostat copies among your research materials for this project. I was not informed that you were in direct communication with AJ on this, but did he provide you with any direct correspondence? While I do want the book in question to be complete as per its publishing specifications, some of the gentlemen’s privacies should be respected.
Apologies, sir; I was unclear in my email and in previous discussions with Conrad on this matter. The letters in question are all from Montgomery TO Soltare with one exception—a brief one-sheet response from AJ to Monty on August 15, 1968. None of these appeared to be in-house memos or direct letters regarding materials in the publication pipeline, though such matters get discussed in asides. I’m not 100% sure, of course, as what appears to be on the page changes with each reading.
I didn’t receive the letters from Mr. Soltare; they were found in the mailroom with a Bulwark-standard sticky-note directing them to my office. The clerk said the note was typed but had no other routing information on it; that same clerk lost said note in transit between the mailroom and my desk, so I don’t know who sent the letters to me with any certainty. Despite the non-standard delivery method, I kept the materials because they directly related to my current assignment.
I did contact Mr. Soltare by phone months ago before breaking the wax seal holding the ribbon around the letters (phone contact from office on 06/17/08, 6 minutes). While he could not talk long, Mr. Soltare okayed my perusal of said letters but wished to review the contents of the letters before approving the release or publication of any information or materials. He mentioned being in the Midwest in July and we might meet to discuss this issue then.
In the past month, I’ve had no luck reaching Mr. Soltare by either phone (messages left on 0626, 0630, and 0702) or email (4 emails in the past 3 weeks) to discuss my personal issues and inability to transcribe the letters. As a result, I’ve locked the letters in my desk and will not move further on them until you or Mr. Soltare can help ascertain how to proceed with them.
[OK] I’ll be in your offices on August 3. At that time, I can speak with you directly on the matter of those letters and reclaim them for AJ, if he or Sam cannot come to Chicago any sooner to do the same.
If at all possible, I would like to meet with you, sir, whether I can reach Mr. Soltare or Mr. Herneson in the mean time. On that latter note, though, I noticed Mr. Soltare is the guest of honor at GreaLKon in Cleveland the weekend after this one. If it’s acceptable to you and Conrad, I can drive to Cleveland, meet with Mr. Soltare, and clear up this matter entirely. I assume that the company already has a block of hotel rooms reserved for staffers, given the launch of Online Thrills; I can easily share a room with someone, if there’s a spare bed to be had.
[OK] I’ll be interested in seeing how you’ve structured the book for comprehension and coherence.
As my deadline on the book is in mid-September, there is some time to delay, though not by much. With the redistribution of materials and cross-referencing of the actual letters, I’ll need an additional 4-6 days and another 3 to recheck and reshuffle the TOC and index. Thus, you must approve the use of these letters before August 12 if I am to have time to fully utilize their details.
Thank you again, sir. I’ll remain in touch on this before then, but I hope to see you in a few weeks.
I’m no Akanri Lorekeeper, but I know how things operate in dark, light, and anywhere there’s a coin. I pay attention to any opportunities that weigh more than the blades leveled against them. I see with whom I can do business, on whom it’s safe to turn my back, and against whom I’d be fish bait for doing either. If you want to learn what I know, drop a palm of coin to make my time and truths yours. After all, even the Akanri don’t know everything, though I’ll bet they’d never admit otherwise.
–Akal of Parhim, drover and trader of the Five Shields League
Only those who wear their seven-pointed star truly learn the secrets of the Star-Mages, and no one can practice magic in Impral territories without joining them (willingly or not). To do other risks death…or worse. I tread carefully around all Star-Mages, as they always demand much and offer nothing of value. Truth too, a Magustar has longer hair than patience (which is to say, the shaved pates have none at all).
The Kryssars have been rogue mercantile and military powers for over four centuries. While they once were consolidated, Kryssar “pirates” (at least according to the Imperam) today are any men and ships sailing outside of a government’s or patron’s control, their masts flying only the two black triangles over two circles for their colors. Some hint that the original Kryssar rogue-sails were remnants of Kharndam’s royal fleet that survived Impral ambushes and the Laor Cove Fires. The so-called pirate’s flag hint at such, as it apes the cutlass grip-guards (bearing double-masted ships with full dark sails) long ago used by Kharndam’s navy. Despite centuries of trying, the Imperam cannot extinguish either the Kryssar standard or the independents that use it.
The Costara Marona are among those I fear and keep at more than a giant’s arms-length. A few generations back, they were one of the biggest noble clans of Summath in the eastern Imperam. The rulers stripped the family name of all titles and landed holdings, though there’s much confusion as to why (but most whisper about the Star-Mages, as always with Impral rumors). Their house mark—a blue arrow piercing three gold coins—now is a feared mark left by their enforcers and assassins. The Marona lost their lands and titles, but their wealth and ruthless trade tactics all still covertly influence or control more than half of all Impral ports. In truth, they hold more power now, with no immobile center of power to attack, than they did as landed nobles, to the chagrin of their enemies (among whom they count many ruling praenars and their houses, all Magustar leaders of the Star-Mages, and even the Imprator himself).
What scares and excites me the most is the return of the four-starred blade! It’s been seen at least five times very recently, or so my sources say. They talk of places in Lluranal, Pralkesh, and Xonorhil where openly corrupt folk of several races were slain and left heaped as carrion, a blade stamped with four stars from hilt to point. This mark conjures many rumors for us here in the Twelvelands, sure, for that was only ever the badge of the Knights Sovereign, the original army of Kharndam and the Home Guard of the Pegasus Sovereignty. Make of that as you will, what with folks talking of the Pegasus Throne having disappeared only to be restored.