SO LONG, DERRICK FERGUSON16 Apr | '2021
Greetings Loyal Airmen, this week’s Flight Log is one we’d never imagined writing. As you Loyal Airmen know, the Air Chief and Valerie were in sunny Florida on vacation last week. It was turning out to be a wonderful time until we received the news that one of dearest friends, and writing colleagues, Derrick Ferguson has passed away.
We first met Derrick via the internet over fifteen years ago when he dropped us a line about a book he’d written called “Dillon and the Legend of the Golden Bell.” It was a modern day pulp thriller and he was hoping we might read and review it for him. Both of which we did and were only to delighted to do both. You see, up until that point in time, there were all too few black pulp heroes and Dillon was a truly exceptional action adventure hero as brought to life by Derrick’s skills as a writer. He could spin the most outlandish tale and over time continued to produce many more Dillon adventures. And our friendship simply grew stronger and stronger.
Above is the latest edition of that first Dillon adventure plus a really great drawing of the character. Eventually as the New Pulp community continued to grow, writer/publisher Tommy Hancock got it into his head to hold a pulp convention in his hometown of Melbourne, Arkansas and invited a whole bunch of really amazing new pulp writers. You know Derrick was going to be there.
Derrick and his wife Patricia were vacationing in Florida that year and decided that before driving on back to Brooklyn, where they lived, they’d head west and come to Pulp Ark # 1. In the photo to the left (from left to right) are Van Allen Plexico, Derrick, yours truly, Tommy Hancock & Barry Reese. Trust us, there lots more pulp creators at that show, alas not in that one seminal photo. Nancy Hansen and her husband were along, Rob Davis, Dr. Art Sippo, Terry Alexander, Lee Houston Jr., Bobby Nash and for sure one or two others we’ve forgotten. Please forgive us.
Panels on pulp writing were held in the building’s cellar. No lie. As is evidenced from these pictures. To say that show was memorable for so many reasons would be a gross understatement. In a way, that weekend might be considered as the unofficial birth of the New Pulp movement in this country.
From that time on, our friendship evolved and we learned a whole lot more things about this amazing fellow. One of which was his passion for the movies and for the longest time he co-hosted a podcast with fellow Brooklynite Thomas Deja about the movies called, “Better in the Dark.” It was one of our first ever introductions to the world of podcasting and it was a joy to listen to.
In the end it was this love of movies that brought Derrick to write for us at Airship 27. When he learned that we would be launching a brand new Sinbad the Sailor series, it wasn’t the fact that our Sinbad would be black that lured him to sign on, but that we wanted the stories to reflect the fun and action of the old Ray Harryhausen Sinbad movies. That’s all Derrick needed to know and he whipped out a great novella for our very first volume.
By then he knew of our affection for his hero Dillon and when he offered us this novel teaming Dillon with the classic pulp figure Jim Anthony, we jumped at it. He co-wrote “The Vril Agenda” with his old pal Joshua Reynolds and it remains one of our finest titles. People still pick it up years later. Adam Shaw turned in such a stunning cover.
Then when Derrick learned we were going to be doing a series based on the exploits of the legendary black U.S. Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves, he was one of the first to give us a holler. All total, he wrote three Bass Reeves tales for us and they appear in volumes, 1 – 2 & 4. Above is a shot of Derrick and Tommy taken at the only time he ever attended the Windy City Pulp & Paper convention in Chicago back in 2019.
Above are two more pix taken at that show. The one on the left was taken Friday night at a burger joint before the Pulp Factory Awards were given out. As you can see, Derrick was all in having a blast with the rest of us zany pulp folks. The pix on the right had been shot on the vendor’s floor earlier and is of course now one of our favorites to remember him by.
Another of Derrick’s many loves was boxing and a few years back he’d written a novella called “Brooklyn Beatdown” that had appeared elsewhere and since gone out of print. Dismayed by that, he’d inquired if we’d be willing to reprint it at Airship 27 to get it back into print. We were thrilled to do so, gave it the cover spot with as yet another gorgeous Adam Shaw cover and Rob Davis did six beautiful interior illustrations. Derrick was delighted with the results.
And please understand, aside from his stories for Airship 27, Derrick wrote for all the major New Pulp publishers and if you’d truly like to honor his memory, go to Amazon and simply punch in his name. Then when all those great titles pop up, go on and pick up a few. You’ll be glad you did. Finally in that regard, although Dillon appeared in lots of great prose, to the best of our knowledge he only ever showed up in a comic book story and that happened in Redbud Studio’s Airship 27 presents All Star Pulp Comics Vol 2. He had the cover spot battling alongside Jungle Lord Ki-Gor’s mate, Helene.
And now he’s gone. Just like that. A fiery comet of a literary giant who shot across our heavens and made all our lives so much better with his presence. In the weeks and months ahead, there will be many more memorials and tributes. Tommy Hancock has a book coming together that will pay homage to our friend. It is one we are truly honored to be a part of. Rest assured, we’ll let you know when it is published and how you can obtain copies. For now, our deepest condolences to Patricia and all her family. We thank her from the bottom of our hearts for sharing Derrick with us all these years.
Derrick, see you in heaven some day. Till then, rest easy my friend.
Ron – Over & Out!