Monday, September 29, 2014

The Bay Phantom is almost upon us

Mobile, Alabama, 1931.

Joe Perrone is a wealthy young man, heir to a commercial fishing fortune, whose parents and older brother were murdered by burglars. Mirabelle Darcy is his housekeeper.
They have secrets.

Joe has a darkness inside him, and it has led him to forge a strange path for himself. Joe puts on a mask and a cape at night and fights crime as the Bay Phantom. He has not donned the mask in three years, since his epic battle with the diabolical Doctor Piranha left him feeling uncertain about the condition of his own soul. But, after a period of wandering and reflection, he has returned. He does what he believes he must, fighting mobsters, killers, fiends,  a corrupt police force, and a city administration that does not want his help. He operates according to his own personal philosophy and moral code, and keeps his identity a secret so he can continue his work unimpeded.

Mirabelle is one of the nine smartest people in the world. Her IQ is virtually incalculable, and she has mastered a dozen different scientific disciplines on her own. She is also black, and she lives in a society deeply divided by segregation and oppression. To reveal her intellect and secret accomplishments would be to invite scorn, ostracism-- and, quite possibly, lethal violence. So she labors in secret.

Tull House, a 200-year-old former smuggler's den on the Mobile Bay is their home.
When a deadly struggle begins between the powerful, covertly criminal Carter family and an upstart named Hector Sams and his mysterious backers, Joe and Mirabelle find themselves in the middle of a hurricane of mystery and murder, and are locked into a deadly struggle of their own, against the horrific avatars of the two warring factions: The Werewolf and the Black Embalmer.

Even with the help of Doctor Sigmund Freud, can Joe and Mirabelle unravel the lies, secret associations, and conspiracies in a town where absolutely nothing is what it seems? Can they preserve the lives of innocent citizens caught up in the gang war, and their own lives as well? Will they live long enough to discover the most deeply-buried secrets of all-- the unremembered traumas that made them what they are?

Find out in "A Confederacy of Devils" by Chuck Miller, with art by Zachary Brunner, coming soon from Airship 27.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


The Black Centipede and his friend and partner, Amelia Earhart, will return this Fall in Black Centipede Confidential, facing off against Professor Moriarty, Lord of the Vampires, and his diabolical Order of the Sunless Circle. The stakes are higher than ever this time around, and our heroes will be sorely pressed. But they will not fight alone. Joining them will be the members of the Black Centipede's Invisible Round Table.


(Some names appear on both lists. They aren't typos-- they're just fickle.)


Amelia Earhart
Gregor Samsa
Patience and Prudence
J. Alfred Prufrock
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Percival Doiley
Resurrection Mary
Lester Dent
Walter B. Gibson
Bela Lugosi
John Dillinger
Mary Jane Gallows
Dr. Wilhelm Reich
Frank Nitti
and a


Bonnie Parker
Clyde Barrow
Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd
John Dillinger
Kate "Ma" Barker
Max Schreck
Dr. Herbert West, Re-Animator
Zelda Fitzgerald
Dr. Hawley Crippen
Mary Jane Gallows
Judith DeCortez
Stagger Lee
The Loch Ness Monster
The Bell Witch
and a

So, to renew your acquaintance and/or whet your appetite, here is an excerpt from BLOOD OF THE CENTIPEDE:


Frank Nitti had been as good as his word-- a relatively new experience for him, I imagined-- and Amelia and I went out on another fact-finding mission, armed with the list of speakeasies. I went unmasked, dressed in something other than one of my customary suits of solemn black. Amelia, very wisely, had donned a suit of men's clothes and had her hair stuffed up under a newsboy cap.

I had taken possession of my car that afternoon-- I had made arrangements for it to be shipped out on a freight train when it started looking like I might need it.  Amelia and I visited one dive after another, and we played it very low-key.  We sat and drank and listened to conversations around us. We identified the drunkest and most questionable-looking patrons and struck up acquaintances, paying for drinks, listening to stories, asking very discreet questions. We learned the same rumors over and over again, about an unknown new crime boss who was trying to set up shop, and about the mad Judith DeCortez, who was thought to be working for him.

Nothing we didn't already know.

"The important thing about an iron fist in a velvet glove," I observed at one point, "is that it has an iron fist in it. We're getting nowhere fast using the glove by itself."

"I'm just not comfortable with all that violence."

"Nobody is. That's how come it works."

She heaved a heavy sigh. "Maybe you're right."

"Of course I am. I don't see how you ever could have doubted it. I am, after all, an expert. Whoever this guy is-- whether he's this so-called White Centipede or not-- he is ruthless. Judith DeCortez is ruthless. That means whoever goes up against them has got to be ruthless, too. He has to be more ruthless than they are, or he will not win. And if he doesn't win, he is dead. Very straightforward."

Amelia stood up. "Well, in any event, I think I've had enough of this. Let's go."


"I don't know. Anywhere. I could really use some fresh air."

So we hit the street and walked around aimlessly for the better part of an hour. We were dressed rather roughly, and I had plastered an expression on my face that was an unmistakable warning to anyone who thought he might like to try any rough stuff on us. I wasn't worried about ordinary muggers and sex perverts. I almost wished somebody would get big ideas-- the exercise would have done me some good.

As we crossed a street at the corner, something caught Amelia's eye. She peered up the cross street and said, "Isn't that Roscoe Arbuckle?"


"Ducking into that alley, there." I looked in the direction she was pointing her finger, and saw a figure that certainly matched Fatty in terms of height and girth.

"Could be," I said. "Wonder what he's doing down here."

"So do I. Let's find out."

I shrugged and followed her toward the mouth of the alley. I didn't have anything better to do. And if Fatty was a habitué of this kind of neighborhood, he might be of some help.

We reached the alley and peeped around the corner. I saw someone slip around the corner at the other end of the alley, but whoever it was was too tall and slender to be Arbuckle. From where I was, I could not see any doorways into which Fatty might have ducked. Motioning for Amelia to remain where she was, I crept around the corner and made my way toward the opposite end of the alley. There were no convenient doorways, and I figured Fatty-- or whoever it was-- had simply cut through to the next street. I was on my way back to Amelia when something caught my eye.

Someone had chalked a few words onto the brick wall roughly at the halfway point of the alley. They were as high up as the shoulders of an average man, and they looked fresh:

The Juwes are the men That Will not be Blamed for nothing

If not for the fact that I have nerves of steel and ice water in my veins, I would no doubt have felt an icy talon clutching my heart just then. I recognized that sentence. And what was chalked onto the wall just below it, in smaller letters, gave me considerable pause:

It Begins Again

"What's that?" Amelia asked, peering over my shoulder, apparently having trotted up while I was in deep contemplation.

"This?" I replied. "It's nothing. Just some silly graffiti."

She gave it a look. "Huh. Crazy. Is that some kind of anti-Semitic screed?"

"I guess." I didn't tell her where, and under what circumstances, the odd message with the curious spelling had famously appeared many years earlier.  It had been found scrawled on a wall in London, England, some 44 years before, in close proximity to two very extraordinary murders. Many believed that the message had been written by the faceless jackal known as Jack the Ripper.

You know, the guy they never caught...
But it probably didn't mean anything here. I filed it away in my brain. I had bigger things to worry about.

"Gosh," Amelia said, "there are a lot of Jews in the movie business. I hope nobody's trying to start some of that Nazi crap over here."

"So do I," I said.

"No Fatty?" she asked.

"No Fatty," I affirmed.

We decided to call it a night.

Back in my room, I went through the motions of another fruitless attempt to analyze the material I had obtained from the rubber-suited woman. None of it made sense. I crawled into bed and glanced through the newspaper.

The first of FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps facilities had just opened in Michigan. In Scotland, someone claimed to have spotted a huge aquatic monster in Loch Ness. Adolf Hitler had eliminated all of the labor unions in Germany. Someone calling himself the Blue Candiru had foiled a bank robbery in Los Angeles. Another new masked avenger, evidently. Hooray.

I tossed the paper onto the floor, turned off the light, and went to sleep.

Now BUY it already!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Aaron Kosminski or not, Jack the Ripper causes problems for our hero in  this excerpt from "Blood of the Centipede" by Chuck Miller.$2.99 ON AMAZON KINDLE:

(From the Secret Journals of the Black Centipede)

On an oppressively hot night in the late spring of 1933, I found myself in an unenviable position on a studio backlot deep in the dark and foetid heart of Hollywood, California.


The lot was vast, a huge patch of surreal fungus choking the land with its empty, make-believe mock-ups of ancient Rome, the American West, a distant planet, the battlefields of Europe. A full moon shone down on this cold, schizoid grandeur, illuminating five human shapes in a tense tableau that was not part of any script.

I, the Black Centipede, legendary crime fighter and scourge of evil, was one of those shapes, and I was at a disadvantage. I had four broken ribs, two missing fingers, a possible concussion, and a pair of empty automatic pistols.

Another of the shapes was Amelia Earhart, the only thing I had close at hand that even resembled an ally, and she lay sprawled in the dust behind me, either unconscious or dead.

I fervently wished I had a few more assets on my side, seeing as how I was confronting three of the most lethal homicidal maniacs the world has ever known. And that is not hyperbole.

One of them was a madman called the White Centipede. He and I apparently had quite a history, of which I was completely unaware. The second was a charming creature known as the Black Centipede Eater, about whom more anon.

The third maniac, you've probably heard of.

His real name is as unimportant as it is unknown. His "nickname" is everything. He first made his mark in 1888 when he murdered five women in the Whitechapel section of London. He was never apprehended, never went to trial for those murders.

He called himself Jack the Ripper, and he was the closest thing to a demon in human shape that I have ever encountered.

Which made him the least of my worries at that moment, or so I thought.  Demons and monsters are very straightforward creatures. You usually know where you are with them. They are unimaginative, and completely out of their depth with someone like me.
I didn't take the Ripper as seriously as I should have that night. I regarded the other two as the real threats. I planned to concentrate all that remained of my personal resources on them just as soon as I disposed of this relic standing before me, clutching his knife and leering, dressed in a suit that had gone out of style half a century ago. I had fought him before, quite recently, and I thought I had his measure. He looked depleted. I figured our earlier encounters had taken a lot out of him.

"Don't you ever get tired of being a period piece?" I inquired. My tone was light and flippant, the implication being that he was damn near beneath my notice, but I would be gracious enough to take a bit of my valuable time to stomp on him like a cockroach.

The Ripper smiled and tossed his knife up in the air. It flipped a couple of times before he caught it by the handle. It was a gesture of contempt, his way of demonstrating the casual ease with which he could do the thing he was about to do.

His maneuver had created a split-second opening, and I tried to take advantage of it. I swung the fine, precision firearm-- now nothing more than a crude, blunt instrument--  in an arc that would catch him right between the eyes.

I didn't quite make it.

Instead, I received an object lesson in the folly of judging by appearances. The Ripper's knife was sharper than it looked, his arm stronger. Moving much faster than I did, he sank his double-edged, ten-inch blade into my gut all the way to the hilt, then yanked it upward with both hands until my breastbone stopped it. I was quite certain that the tip of the knife had come out through my back, right next to the spinal cord.

I looked down at the stuff spilling out of me, looked back up, started to say something, forgot what it was, and fell flat on my back. The knife, lodged in my torso, slipped from the Ripper's bloody fingers as I fell.

I had learned a lesson, but it looked as though I'd never have an opportunity to benefit from it, which struck me as pointless and wasteful.

Just before my mind winked out, I saw the Ripper standing over me, jerking his blade out of my torso. In doing this, he dislodged a couple of things from my abdominal cavity that I would have preferred to hang on to. He didn't say a word to me.

Then I went beyond thought and feeling and identity, into a very dark and quiet place...

Are you sold? Well, go for it:

Thursday, September 4, 2014



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The Green Lama, Richard Knight, Captain Future, Green Ghost, Moon Man, and more…
Battle demons and monstrosities from out of this world, by some of today's top talents!

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