Thursday, May 31, 2012

What's in a Name?

Since the release of SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER, I’ve been asked about the origins of the good sergeant’s name – I wish I could say that they are of arcane proportions, but the truth is probably much more mundane.

In all honesty, I don’t fully remember how I came up with it.

I remember jotting down names that came to me while I was imagining the kind of occult hero I wanted to create and, somehow, “Janus” just popped into my head. I’d always like both the sound and look of the name so it went to the top of my list. I knew that it represented the idea of a “two-face,” but it was only later, when I went to dictionary to dig up the etymology, that I found that Janus was the Roman god of gates. More specifically, he oversaw beginnings and transitions.

The gates thing worked great for what I had in mind, so, with a sigh of relief, I had a last name for my hero. But I wouldn’t forget my initial thought of “two-faced” and would build something into the character that truly won’t see fruition until such time as a sequel appears. It’s there, though; deep in the text of SGT. JANUS , SPIRIT-BREAKER, maybe even more so than the “gates” aspect…

One might think it was a logical leap then to christen him with the first name Roman, from the origin of his last name, but it’s really a bit more eclectic than that. He was given the name before I ever discovered that Janus was a Roman god. It was simply kismet once I learned that.

Lemme ‘splain. “Roman” as a first name has always intrigued me, something that goes back to the film ROSEMARY’S BABY for me and the character of Roman Castevet. Now, the actual diabolic nature of Sidney Blackmer’s character doesn’t really have anything to do with it – it’s simply the sound of the name. I don’t know why, but I just really dig it when Ruth Gordon frequently calls out her husband’s name in the move: “Romannn…” See? I told you this was all pretty mundane stuff!

So, then Roman Janus was born. But he still needed a title.

Why? Because characters with military-style titles are cool, man. Always liked them, probably beginning with the real, original Captain Marvel. But, “captain” is overused in fiction, as is “major.” I didn’t want Janus to be as high as a general and lieutenant just didn’t have the ring to it I was looking for, so I went lower on the ranking board and arrived upon sergeant. And seeing as how SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND is one of my most favorite albums of all time, it just clicked with me: Sgt. Roman Janus. Perfect.

And it’s always “Sgt.” unless he’s being referred to without his name, ala “sergeant.”

There you have it, the “mysterious” foundations beneath the newest proto-pulp hero!

Purchase the book here on Amazon and see what exactly is in a name.

All content (c)Jim Beard 2012

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Spirited Signing

The very first signing for SGT. JANUS has been scheduled:


Tony Packo’s Cafe is proud to announce a signing for local Toledo author Jim Beard’s new book, SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER

Saturday, June 16th - Noon to 4pm @ The Original Tony Packo’s CafĂ©, 1902 Front St. Toledo, Ohio


The author will also be joined by SGT. JANUS illustrator Eric Johns, a fellow Ohioan

Get your copies while supplies last – for each book purchased at the signing, you will receive a free Tony Packo’s Hungarian Hot Dog!

One free hot dog per purchased book, no limit. Free hot dog offer only available day of signing – must present paid receipt for book when ordering hot dog, eat-in or to-go.

All content (c)Jim Beard 2012

Buy the book here at

The Haunt of Herndon

Today we check in with SGT. JANUS cover artist, the shockingly cool and talented Jeff Herndon. You can check out his work at and

Jim Beard: Jeff, what's your secret origin as an artist?

Jeff Herndon: There really isn't much of a secret origin in my artistic roots. My Mom had a talent for drawing and my Father, who can't draw a straight line with a ruler is a very creative person none the less. I grew up drawing all the time. I wanted to be Drew Struzan and hang out with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Drawing was such a huge part of my childhood that I remember when I was about to fail math in the seventh grade. My parents took my art supplies away. I passed the next math test, brought my grade up and got my supplies back. I went through such withdrawals was like someone being forced to quit smoking cold turkey. So drawing was a big deal from a very young age. My parents have always encouraged me to pursue my passion. Many artists don't have the support system I have, I am blessed to always be surrounded by people who believe in me.

Jim: What medium do you most prefer to work in?

Jeff: I don't really have a preferred medium. I was fortunate to have been taught by an artist that encouraged me to become versatile in many mediums. I like to work digitally, because it's fast. But I'm rarely satisfied with digital results. There are some fantastic digital artists out there and I love what they do...I just don't think it's my forte. I enjoy watercolor, it makes sense to me. Right now I'm focusing on becoming a better oil painter. I have such respect for the great oil painters out there past and present. At the end of the day though, nothing feels more natural than a pencil on paper. It's simple and effective. And every once in a while I can surprise myself with it.

Jim: What medium did you do the Sgt. Janus cover in? And how long did it take?

Jeff: I painted the Sgt Janus cover digitally. At the time I had a full plate with commissions and given that I still have a full time job and can only paint at night and on the weekends, being smart with my time and meeting deadlines is of the highest importance. I probably spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 hours on the painting. Unlike most of my digital work, I was very pleased with the finished product.

Jim: What were your initial thoughts about the project? How do you feel it went, all together?

Jeff: I was interested in the project from the get go. I enjoyed the subject matter and the time period. I think that's what makes the cover a successful one, I enjoyed it. It's always fun to design and paint a pulp cover. I was never much for painting wine bottles and grapes. I like heroes, villains and dames.

Jim: Do you like the spooky stuff most of all when it comes to art? If so, why is that?

Jeff: I enjoy spooky subject matter. I enjoy lots of genres actually, but often times I can really dig into an image that's spooky or slightly disturbing. The key is I'm laughing the whole time I'm doing it. I've never been a really rebellious person. I didn't get in trouble much, I don't wear all back and smoke cigarettes. From the outside I look like a regular joe. But when I get to paint something that's a bit off kilter, that's when I get to rebel. That's when I get to vent a bit. That's when I get to show people that I'm a bit different. It has nothing to do with how I dress or how I act. I get to show it in a pretty unique way and hopefully I'm entertaining my audience at the same time.

Jim: If asked to do a cover for a Sgt. Janus sequel, would you do it?

Jeff: Of course I'd do a Sgt Janus sequel if I was asked. Being someone who aspires to be a full time illustrator, you never turn down work! But besides that fact, as I said before, I enjoy the characters, time period and the spooky nature. I would be proud to continue covering Sgt Janus.

Jim: Thanks, Jeff!

All content (c)Jim Beard 2012

Buy the book here at

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

More News from the MOUNT AIRY EAGLE


Early Edition - Tuesday, May 29

At approximately 3:40 on the morning of May 29, Mount Airy police officers took one Kenneth Shabbinski, of No. 8 Lionel Street, into custody. He was subsequently charged with breaking-and-entry and assault at the Jehovah Precinct Station. Mr. Shabbinski was seen to have had bruising on his face and a broken finger on his left hand.

Deputy Police Commissioner Dimple told our reporter that officers were called to the Playdium Theater at 1958 Front Street in the early morning hours by a complaint from the owner of a neighboring establishment, the Bells & Whistles. The complaint concerned “strange noises, like moans and shrieks” issuing from the Playdium. The complainant, who had stayed open late for the holiday, said that he knew the Theater had closed for the night and that no such noises should be heard on its premises while not open for business.

Upon entering the premises, the officers encountered one Sgt. Roman Janus, of No. 4 Raynham Road, who claimed he was “investigating a spirit infestation” at the Playdium. The officers recognized the sergeant as Mount Airy’s well-known “spirit-breaker,” a reputed hunter of ghosts, and a frequent police consultant. Determining that Janus was not the source of the noises, they were then confronted with Mr. Shabbinski and a lady friend, Miss Idalene Montrose, of no fixed address. The gentlemen told the officers that he and Miss Montrose had been imbibing heavily not an hour or so before and that they had “slipped into the Theater for a bit of fun.” He further explained that this was the source of the odd sounds heard by the owner of the Bells & Whistles. Sgt. Janus then reportedly informed the officers that Mr. Shabbinski was, in fact, lying and that he was on the premises to rob the Playdium’s box office of its receipts. These accusations were supported, said Janus, by “messages from the spirit world,” given to the sergeant on the spot.

Mr. Shabbinski took umbrage to the accusations and assaulted the sergeant. Before the officers could act, Janus had defended himself and produced bruising on his assailant’s face and broken his finger. Mr. Shabbinski was then taken into custody and later charged. Miss Montrose was also apprehended and charged with aiding and abetting. Bail has not yet been set for either of the accused.

After the incident, Sgt. Janus told the police that “the Playdium is a vortex of immeasurable super-natural proportions” and that it “must be sealed off for fear of further spirit infiltration.”

All content (c)Jim Beard 2012

Buy the book here at

Monday, May 28, 2012

Saunders Speaks!

I recently learned that acclaimed writer Charles Saunders, author of DAMBALLA and other fine works of fiction, was the proofreader on SGT. JANUS, so I sent him a ‘thank you’ on Facebook. Here’s the very nice note he sent back to me:

“I enjoyed it so much that I had to catch myself and remember I was supposed to be looking for typos. You captured the paranormal atmosphere of the early 20th century without looking old-fashioned. I look forward to reading more of your work - proofing or otherwise.”


Mr. Saunder’s work can be seen at his website: On Facebook, this is how he describes himself and his books:

“I am a writer of African-inspired fantasy fiction. Most of my stories and novels have been about a warrior named Imaro. Others feature an African Amazon named Dossouye. I've been doing this for a long time, and wouldn't trade it for the world.”

I am thrilled to have such an accomplished writer say such nice things about SGT. JANUS. Please check out his books for yourself.


All content (c)Jim Beard 2012

Buy the book here at

SGT. JANUS Arrives!


The book is now officially out and ready for consumption! Here's some important links for you:


PDF for e-readers:

First review:

Bestseller List notice:

It's already been a wild ride and, if I know Sgt. Janus, its going to get even wilder. Stay tuned to this blog in the coming weeks for more updates and...exclusive content, including actual reports on the sergeant's doings from the MOUNT AIRY EAGLE!

Thanks as always for your support - and tell a friend!


All content (c)Jim Beard 2012