As a public service to potential new
readers, not to mention a feast for my already-bloated ego, here is what
some people have said about my first novel, Creeping Dawn, and
its star, the incredible Black Centipede. Most of these are from other
writers in the New Pulp field whose work I admire-- and recommend
(follow the links to learn more)-- and I am very grateful for all the
kind words, support, and enthusiasm. The second installment, "Blood of the Centipede," has arrived. (218)
"Chuck Miller is emphatically one of the bright new voices in
the New Pulp Fiction movement and last year burst on to the scene with this
book. It introduced the world to his
truly mondo-bizarro hero, the Black Centipede.
"With “Creeping Dawn,” Chuck Miller clearly
establishes himself as a voice to be reckoned with. We predict a truly brilliant future for both
creator and his one-of-a-kind hero."
"I can honestly say I've never read a book quite like Creeping Dawn: Rise of the Black Centipede.
Miller's take on classic pulp vigilante tropes first came to my
attention through his blog, where he's been posting bits and pieces of
his writing for some time. The Black Centipede isn't the only character
Chuck's been working on, but it's the one that grabbed me personally
due to my love of Shadow-like pulp heroes and after reading the short
stories on the blog I eagerly anticipated the full-length Centipede
novel. I was not disappointed with the novel, and was actually very
pleasantly surprised: I was familliar with what Miller did that made
characters like Centipede and his world unique creations, but wasn't
prepared for what the sustained reading-experience of a whole novel
would be like.
recommend "Creeping Dawn: Rise of the Black Centipede" enough. It may
not be for everyone, but if you want to experience a truly unique and
one-of-a-kind pulp novel then give it a shot."
"Well, it’s true that only one volume of The Black Centipede has
been published to date but the character has been lived online for some
time before that and Miller has a bevy of tales on the way. Given the
pseudo-historical nature of the character, I think he can appeal to
conspiracy buffs, history nuts, horror fans and diehard pulp hero
readers. The way that horror and adventure blends together is intriguing
and the way Miller weaves historical figures into the narrative sets
The Black Centipede apart."
"This is going to be the most unusual book you'll read for quite a while.
If there is one thing Chuck Miller does well, it's turning convention
on its ear in the most entertaining way. You're not going to find your
hero as clear cut or stalwart as expected, and neither are your villains
pure evil incarnate. That would be the expected norm in most pulp
stories, but this is something very unique. Against a big swash of noir
background, and with a wry sense of humor and acute timing, Chuck Miller
gives us his take on the reluctant anti-hero, and the completely
incredible but somehow believable world he exists in. It's not just an
enjoyable read, it's a romp through history as viewed in a cracked and
distorted mirror. Half the fun of devouring this page-turner is seeing
what famous or infamous individual is going to show up next. Creeping
Dawn is a book you're not going to forget soon, and bits and pieces of
this tale are going to stick with you. This reader is very much looking
forward to whatever Chuck Miller serves up next, because if his debut
novel is any indication; The Black Centipede--as well as his
creator--are here to stay for the long haul. You don't want to miss this
introductory novel of what is destined to become a New Pulp legend."
Black Centipede is a traditional pulp action hero who refuses to
behave like one. He casually breaks every rule in the book. Then he
writes new rules. Then he breaks those. He is the world's greatest
action hero. He is a dangerous madman. He is both criminal and
crimefighter, pursuing an agenda that he himself has yet to fully
His career has spanned 80 years (so far), and he has
become involved with some of the most famous and infamous individuals
of the 20th and 21st centuries. "Creeping Dawn" takes up his story in
the pivotal period between 1927 and 1933.
In his fictional
world, the Centipede is both a real-life crime fighter and the star of a
successful pulp adventure magazine, which presents
highly-fictionalized accounts of his adventures. The series explores,
among other things, the disparity between the public image and the man
himself. We also learn the "shocking truth" about several well-known
historical people and events. In the world of the Black Centipede,
absolutely nothing is what it seems to be.
Centipede's best friend and arch enemy, "Bloody" Mary Jane Gallows is a
strange creature indeed. She appears human, but is in reality a
thought construct called a tulpa.
She came into existence as the result of an unconscious telepathic
union between Lizzie Borden and Jack the Ripper. And it just gets worse
from there.THE CITY OF ZENITH,
home of the Black Centipede, is a living example of the uncertainty
principle. It is on the East or West Coast, or one of the Great Lakes,
or the Mississippi River. Everyone has lived there at one time or
another, including you.
is one of the most versatile cities in the United States. It is as
large or as small as it needs to be for whatever story I happen to be
writing at a given time. I did not, however, discover it myself. The
city was founded by Sinclair Lewis. According to WIKIPEDIA, "Winnemac is
a fictional U.S. state invented by the writer Sinclair Lewis. His
novel Babbitt takes place in Zenith, its largest city (population
361,000, according to a sketch-map Lewis made to guide his writing).
Winnemac is also the setting for ‘Gideon Planish,’ ‘Arrowsmith,’ ‘Elmer
Gantry,’ and ‘Dodsworth.’"
by the work of the late Philip Jose Farmer, I have developed the
habit of treating fictional characters as though they actually lived,
and people who actually lived as though they were fictional
characters. The Centipede has an elaborate history, for which I have
created artifacts. Amelia Earhart, Frank Nitti, and William Randolph
Hearst have prominent roles in the saga.Farmer's
biography of Doc Savage, along with his "Riverworld" novels, started
wheels turning in my head that are still grinding today.Farmer's influence on my own work cannot be overstated.
The Black Centipede himself began to take shape many years ago, when I read Farmer's essay, "The
Fourfold Vision," in "Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life," which
discusses the work of Lester Dent, E.E. Smith, Henry Miller and William
S. Burroughs. Now you know who to blame for the connection I made
between Burroughs and pulp heroes! Farmer pointed the way.
Centipede was originally conceived as a cross between Burroughs and
the Shadow, with a dash of Doc Savage. (Black centipedes are a
loathsome centerpiece of Burroughs' novel "Naked Lunch.") Like Doc, he
makes his home/headquarters in the top floors of the tallest
skyscraper in the city; he is addicted to the use of clever gadgets of
his own invention; and he performs brain operations on criminals. Of
course, these operations involve the application of hot lead to the
troublesome organ. (Though the survival rate is zero, so is the rate
of recidivism.)The Centipede shares
Burroughs' enthusiasm for orgone accumulators, the cut-up method, and
quoting Shakespeare, as well as a certain unfortunate vice they both
have in common with Sherlock Holmes.I
have three other series, aside from "Tales of the Black Centipede."
All of them sprang from my first novel, "The Optimist Book One: You
Don't Know Jack," as did the Centipede himself. All of my "stars"
started life as supporting characters in this novel. Here is a brief
synopsis: JACK CHRISTIAN ("THE OPTIMIST")
is the grown-up former kid sidekick of deceased superhero Captain
Mercury. After 12 years away from his home city of Zenith, Jack is
lured back by the promise of a substantial trust fund. When he gets
there, he meets one oddball after another, starting with Vionna Valis, a
strange young woman with a startling secret that nobody-- herself
included-- knows. An encounter with what purports to be the ghost of
Captain Mercury puts Jack and Vionna on the trail of the Black
Centipede. Along the way, they run afoul of the ghost of Jack the
Ripper, and seek the help of Doctor Unknown Junior. In
the beginning, Jack Christian was going to be my star. That was how I
had it planned. The Centipede, Vionna, Mary Kelly and Dana Unknown
were to be his supporting cast. Well, John Lennon once said that life
is "what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." I can
now confirm that the same is true of fiction. The supporting cast
staged a coup, leaving poor Jack behind. I
now regard the Optimist as an artistic failure, but one that still
has considerable merit. I don't plan to continue the series in its
original form. Jack Christian has been co-opted by Doctor Unknown Junior to serve as her "Watson."
Dr. Dana Marie Laveau Unknown,
PhD, is an incredibly accomplished practitioner of the mystic arts,
having attained the status of Level Twelve Magus shortly after her 22nd
birthday. She is the daughter of Raoul Deveraux Unknown, the
well-known sorcerer/superhero/certified public accountant known as Dr.
Unknown. The original Doctor Unknown retired several years ago, after a
traumatic incident in which he accidentally destroyed the planet
Earth and a large portion of the solar system. Though he and Dana were
able to successfully reboot the time stream, thus more or less
erasing the episode from history, the experience left him a shattered
Dana Unknown has taken over her father's former duties, sometimes humorously referring to herself as "Doctor Unknown Junior."
Incredible Adventures of Vionna Valis and Mary Jane Kelly," "The
Optimist," "Tales of the Black Centipede," and "The Mystic Files of
Doctor Unknown Jr." are all set in the same world, and all the
characters know one another and interact frequently. "The Incredible Adventures of Vionna Valis and Mary Jane Kelly."
Detective stories with a paranormal twist. The Whitechapel Vigilance
Committee Psychic Detective Agency is staffed by a mysterious young
woman named Vionna Valis, and the five original 1888 victims of Jack
the Ripper, who have been bodily resurrected in the 21st century. It's
a long story, which is told in my mercifully unpublished novel,"The Optimist Book One: You Don't Know Jack."
Jose Farmer's inspiration came to me not only through his own novels
and stories, but also by way of two lengthy conversations he was
gracious enough to endure with the young fan that I was some 20-odd
years ago. (Very odd years, for
the most part.) I will always treasure those memories, and hope that I
can do them justice now. I only wish Farmer were here to see this
offspring of his vision come to fruition. It is to him-- and to the
Original Centipede, William S. Burroughs-- that I dedicate the Black
Centipede's maiden voyage.
William S. Burroughs, 1960. Photo by Brian Duffy. (Authorized for use with attribution.)
FREE BLACK CENTIPEDE NOVELLA: As my way of saying thanks to the New Pulp community for helping me have such a great first year, I am giving away a novella! "Gasp, Choke, Good Lord!" is a Black Centipede novella I did a couple years ago, a very early take on the character. This is not quite the Centipede of "Creeping Dawn" and subsequent works. I don't know when or if "Gasp" will ever see print; the Centipede stuff I'm doing for Pro Se now is going in chronological order, beginning in 1932, and this novella is set in 1952. If it ever gets published, it will require a massive overhaul, since there are continuity conflicts with what I'm doing now.
Be that as it may, I hope you will check it out and enjoy it. Fans of the old EC horror comics should get a kick out of it. What REALLY happened with Doctor Fredric Wertham, William M. Gaines, and the dread Comics Code Authority? The Centipede knows. And so can you. Download it as a pdf from Mediafire.
Again, my sincere thanks to everyone who has helped make my first year as a pulp writer so enjoyable.