We’ve just released the Third Edition of Copper Knights and Granite Men, and Shell and I have done a lot of work to improve it. Some of you are probably wondering what we could have possibly done to improve a superhero book based on the King in Yellow, with the comedic sensibilities of Army of Darkness. Even though the book has generally received positive reviews, it was only the third book we’d put out, and the first over 100 pages in length. Since its original release, we’ve learned a lot about our craft and found several ways to “Amp” up that “Lee/Kirby-era Fantastic Four meets Hammer Horror” vibe everyone loves.
Let’s start with the obvious: A new cover, completely done by Shell Presto. We still love the original painting by Matty Lasuire, and we’ve reproduced it in the back pages of the book. It was a very evocative rendering of the Promethean, but in hindsight, it doesn’t work that well as a cover. It was too dark for the small thumbnails on Amazon, and its grim, somber atmosphere clashes somewhat with the tone of the book. It’s also a bit too mysterious: it’s hard to guess from the cover what the book is about.
Shell and I spent a lot of time brainstorming and planning our new cover, finding inspiration in the covers of old Pulp magazines. These vivid paintings did a magnificent job evoking suspense with their perilous scenes of heroes on the brink, a sense of excitement often enhanced by the presence of some gorgeous (and sometimes menacing) bombshell. I think Shell’s done a wonderful job of capturing those elements here. Besides the added sex appeal, the pulp cover stylings tell the reader a lot about the mood of the book. Taut, punchy adventures; wisecracking, devil-may-care heroes; deadly mysteries and fiendish plots; supernatural dread: these are the things that come to mind of many people when they think of the old pulps, and they’re exactly the things they’ll find in Copper Knights and Granite Men.
Just as important but less noticeable than the cover are the interior revisions. There were a handful of minor typos and formatting errors (especially with regard to the placement of the interior illustrations) in our first two printings, and these have all been cleaned up. We’ve gone through the story and the appendices with a fine-tooth comb, cleaning up a few confusing passages and fleshing out a few more details. Best of all, I had the pleasure of adding several additional character illustrations to the Appendix.
The most significant content change, however, is that we stripped out prat of the Appendix. In the original releases, we included the first two stories from Robert W. Chambers’ 1895 horror classic The King in Yellow. Both of these–The Repairer of Reputations, which introduced the Prince’s Emblazoned armor and the Imperial Dynasty of America and The Mask, which introduces Boris Yvain and his fossilization solution–figure prominently in Copper Knights and Granite Men, and I hoped their inclusion would give a sense of how deep and connected the Ascension Epoch background is. I had also hoped to expose a new generation of readers to a horror classic that has had enormous influence on the genre, and yet many have never read (or even heard of!). Alas, the results of this experiment were mixed, at best. Some people really appreciated its inclusion, but others were put off. Some people told me they thought I was the author, and they were confused by their stark change in tone from the rest of the book. Others didn’t like the “fussy” old-style language. Still others, unaware of the themes of madness and decay in The King in Yellow, were just plain bewildered by the unreliable narration of Hildred Castaigne. Well, fair enough, I say. We dropped the stories, but added a Recommended Reading section where we advise those interested how to obtain free copies of The King in Yellow, as well as identifying references to other public domain works and characters in the story. By reducing the size of the book, this also allows us to reduce the print costs and thus, the price.
And here we are, arguably the most important change of all: we dropped the price of both the paperback and Kindle versions of Copper Knights and Granite Men. The paperback drops by three bucks to $7.99, and the Kindle drops from $4.99 to $2.99. The book is on the shorter side, just over 100 pages, so we thought this price point was more reasonable. If you’ve been interested to try Copper Knights and Granite Men, but have been reluctant to plunk down $5 on it, well now you’re out of excuses, ya big cheapskate!
Now, the bad news. We weren’t able to get the cover and revisions done in time to have paperback copies available for sale at the Great Philadelphia Comic Con next week. They’ll be ready in time for our conventions in May, however. By then, we’ll also have a new printing of After Dark and–fingers crossed!–the second East End Irregulars book, The Dismal Tide!
Let me conclude this post by thanking all the Ascension Epoch fans not only for their support, but feedback, as we try to make our books better. We wouldn’t have been able to come this far without your help and encouragement. Let us know what you think about the new cover and the new editions, and if you haven’t left a review yet, please leave one!