Tag Archive for desperadoes

Bending Genre to Your Will

The best part of ignoring genre is the freedom to bend, fold, mutilate, and spindle it to one’s will.

Consider, for example, Duane Swierczynski’s The Blonde:

The Blonde

What a killer cover.

It’s a taut thriller which happens to include nanobots. Is it still crime, or is it now science fiction? I’m sure some crime and noir purists rolled their eyes at the high concept while science fiction enthusiasts wondered why they couldn’t find it on their racks at the bookstore.

Does it really matter? Read it, dig it, buy his other work.

Then there are your genre mash-ups, like Cullen Bunn’s The Sixth Gun:

Yeah, I linked to Volume 1. Deal.

Bask in the glory. Bask in it!

A classic Western tale that happens to include horror and the supernatural, and at the same time kick all form of ass. It’s not the first time it’s been done (see Jeff Mariotte’s Desperadoes), but I would argue The Sixth Gun has gained a lot more momentum in a shorter time and it is already spawning imitators. Western fans may turn their noses up at the ghouls and golems, and some comics fans will wonder why they should bother reading about something as stale as cowboys.

Both groups would be missing out, because here’s the trick to both:

It’s not the gimmick that makes the book.

These are both great, well-written (and, in The Sixth Gun‘s case, wonderfully illustrated) stories featuring interesting characters and engaging plots. If these books were only about the gimmick—the high concept hook—nobody would give a shit.

I’m always excited to see more of it. While Sandman Slim got a little lost in the fantasy side of its fantasy-noir mash-up, I do want to check out the sequel, Kill the Dead. And I’m really looking forward to the noir-superhero blend Paranormal*:


Coming at you this summer

Once again, tell the tale you want to tell. Make it good. Don’t set out to write a horror novel, a science fiction novel, or a steampunk novel, set out to write a good frickin’ story in the setting you think best accommodates it.

Let the marketing department figure out how to sell it.

*Full disclosure: Paranormal will be published by Evileye Books, the guys who brought you my own The Pack: Winter Kill.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.