Silent masked killers have a way with people.
     The Italian cinema discovered this in the 1960s and 1970s when giallo films came
into fashion. Ever see Mario Bava's "Blood and Black Lace (1964)?"
     Films like Tobe Hooper's "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)" and John 
Carpenter's "Halloween (1978)" inspired the 1980s slasher craze in America, in 
which ghouls like this were generically mass produced.
     Since they're not a new concept, author Stephen Pytak was kind of surprised 
when readers expressed great enthusiasm for the one he wrote into his first novel.
     Mazz is a gas-masked soldier dressed in blacks and greys who has it out
for the credit card industry. He believes it's corrupted society and will lead to the
fall of man.
     His real name is Alejandro Nero Mazzochetti, an engineer and weapons expert.
While he was overseas fighting in Gulf War I, a loved one who was bad at managing 
money went on a spending binge, freaked out when the credit card bill came in, then 
hanged herself. When he returned home -- weeks later -- he found the corpse. 
And something in him snapped.
     He disappeared and went underground. There he put together an arsenal and a 
costume. Then he emerged as "Mazz," invading credit card offices and taking out 
billing office staff members and telemarketers with picks, knives, bullets, and 
makeshift weapons that make people explode.
     While Mazz has become a mainstay of Stephen's novels, the author had no 
interest in writing the character from the same perspective time and time again.
     "If I do the same thing over and over -- like slasher sequels often do -- he'll lose
his mystique. So writing him and keeping him fresh is a challenge. But as long as 
I can keep him fun and interesting, I'll keep him in there," Stephen said.
     Mazz has a key role in the novel Stephen is currently writing, "The Wild Damned."
Stephen batted around the idea of writing a book just about this character, but
hasn't yet found the right story to make it snap, crackle and pop.
     Meanwhile, Mazz is also one of the mascots at The Mercenary Journal, a site
where Stephen reviews movies, books and music. There's a section there called 
"Mazz's Picks," which lists the character's favorites. He is, not surprisingly, a big
fan of slasher cinema. The site is at www.mercenaryjournal.com
     The drawing of Mazz at left is by David Hartranft.