THE SPECTRAL BOOK OF HORROR STORIES Edited By Mark Morris .................................................................................... 2 FIEFDOM By Dan Abnett and Nik Vincent....................................................................................................................................... 2 HOLES FOR FACES By Ramsey Campbell...................................................................................................................................... 3 THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY OF THE YEAR: VOLUME EIGHT ...................................................................... 3 Interview with Matt Davis .................................................................................................................................................................. 5 FORTUNATELY, THE MILK By Neil Gaiman................................................................................................................................ 9 THE APPEARING (2014).................................................................................................................................................................. 9 THE BLASTED LANDS By James A. Moore ................................................................................................................................... 9 THE DOLL By J.C. Martin .............................................................................................................................................................. 10 WORLD OF FIRE By James Lovegrove.......................................................................................................................................... 10 THE BORDERLANDS .................................................................................................................................................................... 12 THE GRAVEYARD BOOK VOL. 1 Adapted By P. Craig Russell, Illustrated by Kevin Nolan, P. Craig Russell, Tony Harris, Scott Hampton, Galen Showman, Jill Thompson, Stephen B. Scott................................................................................................. 12 PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES (Extended Cut) (2014) .............................................................................. 13 Interview with Christian Saunders .................................................................................................................................................... 15 Ramblings of a Tattooed Head By Simon Marshall-Jones ............................................................................................................... 23 PEOPLE PERSON By Trent Zelazny............................................................................................................................................... 24 EXORCIST ROAD By Jonathan Janz .............................................................................................................................................. 24 From the Catacombs By Jim Lesniak ............................................................................................................................................... 25
Edited By Stanley Riiks. Written By Adrian Brady, Matt Davis, Jim Lesniak, Simon Marshall-Jones, C.M. Saunders, Sheri White. Proof-read By Sheri White. ÂŠ Morpheus Tales October 2014. Morpheus Tales Back Issues and Special Issues are available exclusively through lulu.com: http://stores.lulu.com/morpheustales For more information, free previews and free magazines visit our website: www.morpheustales.com Morpheus Tales #24 Review Supplement, October 2014. COPYRIGHT October 2014 Morpheus Tales Publishing, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Review can be used, in full or in part, for publicity purposes as long as Morpheus Tales Magazine is quoted as the source.
celebrity bus tours, spooky monsters and serial killers, pagan renewal and sacrifice, unspecified evil, eviscerated corpses, madness, isolation and supernatural lifeinspectors and might therefore be considered unthemed, but, apart from the sheer quality of the stories themselves, there is, to my mind, a theme running through these eclectic tales: the unknown. Even in the most graphic of these stories, there is as much unsaid as said, as many questions left unanswered as those spelled out in dripping blood or salt tears. The authors leave the reader’s imagination to do some of the legwork and it pays off bigtime: these are stories that will continue to echo round your head long after you have finished reading them, assuming you have a head left, of course – there are at least two characters within these stories who have a physical absence in the head department and many more who certainly have a lack within it. I’m not sure what else I can tell you about The Spectral Book of Horror Stories other than go buy it, or borrow it from a friend, but definitely be good and read it, because, to quote from Stephen Laws’ strange and dark story, “You must be gud, or The Slista will come get you.” By J.S.Watts
THE SPECTRAL BOOK OF HORROR STORIES Edited By Mark Morris http://spectralpress.wordpress.com/ I am so impressed by this polished short story collection that I almost don’t know how to start this review. For this reason I’m going to begin with some basic facts. The Spectral Book of Horror Stories is published by Spectral Press, who are going from strength to strength in my estimation, contains over three hundred pages of eclectic horror fiction, nineteen short stories (written by nineteen of the best contemporary horror writers), and aims to be the first volume in an annual series of horror anthologies. It is unthemed (according to its editor, but I’ll come back to that later), contains supernatural and non-supernatural stories “of madness, of dread, of warped longing and twisted love.” Contributors include Stephen Volk, Lisa Tuttle, Stephen Laws, and Angela Slatter, to name just four of the Grand Masters and Mistresses of Horror who have written for this anthology. The collection is so good there was only one story out of the nineteen presented here that I didn’t connect with, no mean feat in an anthology of this size, and no, I’m not going to name it. That would be unfair on the story and its author. It wasn’t a bad story (all the stories are superbly crafted), it was just that, to me, it didn’t seem as outstanding as the other eighteen, but in a collection this good it really comes down to a question of taste and the stories are so varied there is surely something here that will please everyone. So I return to my original dilemma, with eighteen (okay, nineteen) outstanding horror tales to choose from, how am I going to describe this collection in a way that will do it justice and whet readers’ appetites? My solution lies in challenging the “unthemed” claim made by Mark Morris. Yes, it contains both supernatural and non-supernatural horror, ghosts, demons, rock’n roll, ancient books,
FIEFDOM By Dan Abnett and Nik Vincent www.abaddonbooks.com The setting is the 2000AD world of Kingdom, where genetically modified dogs are bipedal and live in packs in the Berlin underground. When a few go missing, it means the legends of old are coming to life, Them, the mysterious giant insect-like creatures are back and hunting down the Zoo pack. The pack must try to make alliances with another fiefdom and kill the Them, or be hunted down. Despite a fairly simple plot, this is a magnificently intricate and detailed world. The packs have their own hierarchies and politics, they have their 2
own weird dialect and structure, and the world they live in is enveloped in a layer of ice that it is slowly awakening from. The Them are strange and brutal, legendary, and awesomely powerful. This didn’t grab me immediately; halfway through I still wasn’t sure I was enjoying it. But this is one of those books that gradually draws you in. The main action in the book takes place in the last hundred pages, and that’s where all the previous pages of characterisation and building of the world and packs and tension actually work. You do root for the characters, and feel something when they are injured or when they die. This is a book with an incredible style, and like Jeff Noon’s Vurt, it is a book that will linger long in your memory. Intelligent SF, strange and compelling with an underlying intricacy. Worthy of your attention. By Stanley Riiks
conventional sense, perhaps many of these stories mirror the life of the 68-year-old. He avoids the visceral blood-letting of many modern fixtures of the genre, lending his talents instead to the much more unsettling ”quiet horror” once practised by the likes of Ray Bradbury. All the classic Campbell hallmarks are in evidence throughout; the dark humour, the alienated characters, the atmospheric scene-setting, the clever wordplay, all of which means that existing fans are unlikely to be disappointed, and neither will new readers who happen to chance upon this impressive body of work. By C.M. Saunders THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY OF THE YEAR: VOLUME EIGHT Edited by Jonathan Strahan www.solarisbooks.com There seem to be more “best of” collections every year. The “Mammoth” best of books are the definitive books and have been for many years. This is a new one for me (and for the first time published by Solaris Books) and one that offers both SF and fantasy, a winning combination. Although it might seem a little strange for such disparate genres as fantasy and SF to share a collection, it works. Often my reading spans the genres, and having everything collected in one definitive edition works very well, with masters such as Joe Abercrombie and Neil Gaiman next to Geoff Ryman and Ian R. McLeod. This is a big book, at over 600 tightly packed pages, and the 28 stories range from fairly easy to pigeonhole into a genre, to the very flexible new wave that spans both fantasy and SF. Although this is another best-of edition, it brings something new and excitement to two adapting and developing genres and this collection is likely to become an integral part of that. By Adrian Brady
HOLES FOR FACES By Ramsey Campbell http://www.ramseycampbell.com/ Holes for Faces is the latest offering from Liverpudlian legend Ramsey Campbell, one of the greatest living horror writers. He’s also one of the most prolific, and has been penning his brand of dark, uniquely English fiction since before the Beatles hit the big time. This latest collection on Dark Regions Press pulls together 14 mostly previously-published tales from his recent history, rounding up his shorter works of the past few years and continuing where 2009’s Just Behind You left off. Holes for Faces kicks off with “Passing Through Peacehaven,” the disturbing account of a man lost at a disused railway station, before going straight into the fantastically weird “Peep.” There is a thread running through many of these tales, a common theme of growing old and tired and feeling yourself slipping behind the rest of the human race. Though not autobiographical in the 3
artist. That’s a poisonous way of thinking.
Interview with Matt Davis http://greydevil13.deviantart.com/ http://www.rockandhillstudio.com
How did you first go about getting your artwork seen? Having an online gallery is integral to it, you have to have one solid location for people to go and see your work. Beyond that: hitting the digital streets, spreading it around social media circles, and talking to other artists.
What inspired you to become an artist? I’ve been making pictures telling stories about as far back as I can remember. I’m a very visual person; I have a tendency to think in scenes and I spend a lot of time dreaming up things that end up turning into the pictures I make.
What artists have influenced you the most, and what are your other influences? As far as personal influences I’m completely nuts over Zdzisław Beksiński and anything the man ever did. The whole worlds he would create in a single image are mind blowing. Some of the most amazing work I’ve ever seen. Other artists include but are in no way limited to: Frank Frazetta, Simon Bisley, Brom, Yoshitaka Amano, and a whole lot of others from a whole lot of styles and mediums.
We will see your piece “Penitent” on the cover of Morpheus Tales; what inspired that piece? No single thing, really. It started with wanting to create an image that conveyed a pensive kind of silence, but a kind of fragility, as if reflecting on penance. A lot of your work is photography manipulation; do you use other forms? To be honest I used to draw a lot more than I do these days. I have a love of charcoal and ink and pencils that will probably never go away, that I keep intending to dig back into. But photomanipulation and digital paint allow me to go further and deeper than anything I could draw.
Where do you get your inspiration? I read a lot, comics and novels, and get a lot of ideas from what I read. I’m also mildly obsessed with mythology and folklore and the supernatural, so a lot of my work deals with that -- and also with distorting those concepts.
How did you first get started as an artist? I’ve been pursuing art since I was a child, but what started me down the road of becoming a professional artist was waking up one day and deciding I wanted to make doing what I loved my career. I’d spent way too long dismissing it as possible that I could become a professional, freelance
What is Rock and Hill Studio? At its core, Rock and Hill Studio is committed to the creation and proliferation of evocative, and original art and stories. Its members believe everyone should have the chance to get their work put out into 5
Be open to everything. Learn from everything. Never stop learning and growing.
the world without having to break the bank or sacrifice their livelihood to do so, and that's why we offer a full-range of services custom tailored to make that happen.
Do you have a particular audience in mind when you create? I suppose the people that are into the same kinds of strange that I am? My work definitely tends to lean towards the dark and the bizarre.
Rock and Hill Studio strives to offer writers a complete range of services from editing and formatting for print and digital, and also cover art and design. For the writer who wants it all we also offer a package deal that bundles all of our services together at one low price. Feel free to visit our page, www.rockandhillstu dio.com and check out what we have to offer. We look forward to hearing from you
Who are your favourite authors and favourite books? Favourite films? This is something that could go on forever, so I’ll try to make it short: Neuromancer by William Gibson, The Thief of Always by Clive Barker, and the Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson are some of my favourite books and authors. Films would be: Bladerunner, The Crow, Aliens, and a million others.
What’s the most exciting thing about art for you? Creating a story with an image, taking something that exists only in my mind and making it real, making it something other people can see. What’s the most frustrating thing about being an artist for you? Outsmarting myself. Having a concept in my mind that I can’t execute to the standard I want to. But it’s not all terrible; that often leads to working harder, learning more. Frustration can lead to growth.
What are you working on now? Right now I’ve got some work for clients going on in the background, but personally I’ve begun a series of mock covers of some of my favourite books. Lately I did ones for Dune, At the Mountains of Madness, and some others.
What’s the best piece of feedback that you’ve had from your audience? Just hearing that there are people out there that really, truly enjoy my art is awesome.
Do you have any advice for other artists? Keep moving forward, always forward. What scares you? Just about everything.
What do you think is the most important thing when becoming an artist? 6
child’s voice issuing from a radio that isn’t plugged in. But this isn’t a classic by any means. The script is predictable, the plot paper-thin, and the acting average at best. IMDb gives The Appearing an uninspiring 3.2/10, and it’s hard to argue those figures. In parts, the film tries to be unnecessarily complex and there are a few loose ends that weren’t tied up by the end. Not satisfactorily so, anyway, which is plain annoying. All in all, you get the distinct impression that writer/director Gates was trying to pour it on just for the sake of it, perhaps in an attempt to paper over the film’s obvious flaws. Maybe it could do with a second viewing, but I really couldn’t be bothered. The best part of the whole film is the casting of Don Swayze (brother of the sadly departed Patrick) as the brooding sheriff who steals just about every scene he’s in, which frankly, isn’t very difficult. Oh, and the poster. That’s pretty cool. Unfortunately, however, if you miss this film, you won’t be missing much at all. By C.M. Saunders
FORTUNATELY, THE MILK By Neil Gaiman www.bloomsbury.com This is most definitely a child’s book, so adults picking this up are likely to be a bit disappointed. It’s not a YA novel like the excellent Graveyard Book, it is a proper kid’s story. Perfect for reading to them one summer or rainy afternoon. It’s for young kids; if your kids can read on their own, they’re probably too old for this. It tells the story of a dad who goes out to the local shop for some milk and has a little bit of an adventure, involving aliens, police, and pirates. It’s the kind of book we all grew up with, a real adventure story for children. The illustrations by Chris Riddell really bring the story to life and this paperback edition from Bloomsbury is pretty special. It’s extremely high quality, and it’s a bargain at £5.99. For any parent this is a book you should buy your children and read it to them. Spark their imagination in a way that only Gaiman can. This masterful fantasist has produced the ultimate children’s adventure story. By Stanley Riiks THE APPEARING (2014) Director: Daric Gates A detective and his wife trying to get over the tragic death of their daughter move to a new area for a fresh start. So far so good. But of course, this is a horror film. Well, at least a supernatural mystery. So you just know things are going to go south very quick. The couple stumble upon a big creepy house in the middle of nowhere. The house isn’t exactly empty, but home to a demonic entity hell-bent on possessing souls and making them do terrible things. Cue lots of screaming, flashback action, and cheap thrills. There are a few genuinely unsettling scenes, top of the list being the part where the female lead, who may or may not be a bit mental, hears a
THE BLASTED LANDS By James A. Moore www.angryrobotbooks.com The first book in this series impressed me, but it seems quite a long while ago since I read it. Coming straight into the continuing story in the second book was a bit jarring for the first twenty-odd pages, but then it all started clicking into place. Read the first book, this is the sequel to Seven Forges, and there is a whole hell of a lot to catch up on if you haven’t read that. Spoiler alert, if you 9
haven’t read the first book I’m going to ruin some of it for you. There is a lot going on in this book, too. Merros is general of the Fallein army, and while he tries to get to grips with everything that entails, vast black ships show up off the coast and the Guntha’s island is a spewing heap of molten lava and ash. Desh (the sorcerer) has sent one of his apprentices to investigate the strange and mysterious Mounds in the blasted lands, the brutal warrior race of Sa’ba Taalor want to parley with the new empress, Andover must visit the Sa’ba Taalor’s gods to thank them for his new hands, and an assassin hides in the city of Tyrne, a city which the sorcerer is warned will be destroyed. This is a truly epic fantasy, but is never daunting or overblown. There is plenty of action, a whole slew of characters, and Moore seems to revel in pulling the rug out from under us unsuspecting readers, giving us more surprises to keep us excited. And this is an exciting book to read. The overarching tension of a brutal war to come hangs over the entire book, and sets us up for the third novel. There is slightly too much going on for us to care about every character, but the central core ensemble is well drawn. Moore writes in a way that quickly sweeps you up in the story and you just want to find out what happens next, springing several shocking events at you again and again. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen next, he throws a curve ball that blows your mind just a little bit. The second novel in this series lives up to the first, and may even surpass it. Great ideas, good characters, plenty of action, and a brilliantly realised world. What more could you possibly ask for? Excitedly awaiting the third book in the series. By Stanley Riiks
THE DOLL By J.C. Martin http://jc-martin.com/ The Island of the Dolls is a strange and eerie tourist destination in Mexico, where hundreds of decomposing dolls hang from trees like grisly Christmas ornaments. On a trip to the island, Joyce Parker’s daughter falls in love with a beautiful but sinister doll. Soon after, she starts developing strange mannerisms that concerns Joyce, whose research into the doll’s past reveals a very dark history. Award-winning author J.C. Martin usually writes crime fiction, but turned her hand to creepy horror for this little gem. So far it has accumulated well over 1,000 Amazon reviews, the vast majority being positive. It’s not perfect. There are a few minor little annoyances in the writing style, like a slight overuse of ellipses... but all things considered it’s a stonking effort. This girl has talent. By C.M. Saunders WORLD OF FIRE By James Lovegrove www.solaribooks.com A new series by Lovegrove is a reason to celebrate. His Age of series is spectacular. Although this is a very different series, it shares the fast-paced, action-packed fiction that Lovegrove is well-known for. Dev Harmer is on a hell-like world of Alighieri in a cloned host body, and as the mining planet appears to be about to break apart, earthquakes tearing through it with increasing violence and regularity, it may be Polis+ (an alien race who want the planet’s precious minerals for themselves) behind it. Dev must investigate and put a stop to it before he’s killed. Great world, great characters, and plenty of action, are Lovegrove’s trademarks and here he is at his finest. Even better than the Age of series, this is the first of an epic adventure, part SF novel, part detective noir. This is space adventure as we’ve always dreamed of. By Adrian Brady 10
By C.M. Saunders
THE BORDERLANDS Director: Elliot Goldner
THE GRAVEYARD BOOK VOL. 1 Adapted By P. Craig Russell, Illustrated by Kevin Nolan, P. Craig Russell, Tony Harris, Scott Hampton, Galen Showman, Jill Thompson, Stephen B. Scott www.bloomsbury.com
There’s usually something very quaint and homely about British horror films, and the début feature from writer/director Elliot Goldner is no different. It follows a Vaticansanctioned investigation into outlandish claims of poltergeist activity at an isolated church in rural Devon, and is conveyed in the oft-maligned found-footage format. Most of the small group are devout Christians, except self-confessed ”techy,” Gray (excellently played by Robin Hill), who admits he is yet to be convinced. The team originally set out to expose what they believe to be a case of fakery on the part of the local priest, but as the investigation progresses they discover the church, and the area on which it stands, has a long history of bloody occurrences, which originated long before Christianity itself. Before long they come up against an enemy far more terrifying than even they imagined, and then the shit really hits the fan. The premise may be familiar, but don’t let that put you off. The interplay and chemistry between the characters is done to precision, and The Borderlands is layered with a distinctly British brand of dark, satirical humour (eg; “Dan Brown was right about you lot!”). After a slightly slow start to the proceedings, The Borderlands thunders along to a gorestreaked conclusion, which is both shocking and terrifying in equal measures. Goldner certainly makes the most of his limited budget, which is some directors’ forte, but it could be interesting to see what he could achieve with a bigger one.
This is a graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel, so those familiar with the book (including myself) will know that this is the story of a young boy who escapes the clutches of a murderer and finds himself adopted by ghosts in a nearby graveyard. Known as Bod, short for Nobody, the story follows his adventures as he grows up surrounded by the dead, as they try to teach him all the things he needs to know, while keeping him away from the outside world. The book was amazing, inspirational, and one of Gaiman’s finest stories. I’ve been a fan of Gaiman’s work since I read the seminal Sandman graphic novels, and he was partly responsible for my epic comics collection. He is one of the premier fantasists in the world, and a true fairy tale writer. But I don’t often like adaptations. Once you know the story, an adaptation, normally in the form of a film of a book, just falls flat. I wasn’t impressed with even the best of these, like Silence of the Lambs. Although the Harry Potter films were almost as good as the books. So, with high expectations and ready for disappointment I started to read. This is an excellent adaptation; capturing the story in graphic form works here because the story is so simply told. The illustrations are masterful, starting off with Nolan’s dark and brooding episode. The artwork captures both the underlying darkness of the setting and the innocence of Bod. Russell has managed to imbue the story with the same fairy-tale style that the novel has, the artwork has a 12
market for this brand of film-making. People love good scares, and ever since Blair Witch, this method has proved the most effective method at delivering them. Seen through the lens of a camera main protagonist Jesse bought in a pawn shop, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, opens at a high school graduation party. Jesse lives with his father and grandmother in an apartment complex above a woman everyone thinks is a witch. One night, the woman is murdered, and Jesse and his friend break into her apartment to find out “what it looks like.” Yes, I know. But without the stupid people, we wouldn’t have horror films, so let’s forgive them this once. Inside the apartment they find some witchcraftrelated paraphernalia, books of spells, and some VHS tapes, one of which apparently documents the childhood of Katie and Kristi from Paranormal Activity 3, which was a nice touch and made for a little consistency. After the foray into the murdered woman’s apartment, Jesse finds a strange bite-like mark on his arm and begins to display some pretty impressive superhuman powers, all of which are (of course) documented on camera. After a while, it becomes glaringly obvious that something is up with the poor boy, and as he delves deeper into the mystery he discovers that he is at the centre of it all. He and a few others, aka ”the marked ones.” This extended (aka Unrated) cut adds around 16 minutes to the original theatrical version, both available on Paramount Home Entertainment, but none are essential to the plot. Which is probably why they were cut in the first place. It never quite hits the heights of the first couple of Paranormal Activity films; the plots are becoming increasingly lightweight and unbelievable, but the way the film is delivered and the atmosphere it creates just about makes up for any shortcomings. By C.M. Saunders
ghostly and ethereal feel, but tells the story crisply. There is never a panel you don’t need to look at, and never one you wouldn’t want to see. Every space tells a story. Something must also be said about Bloombury’s production value: this is one of the most fabulous graphic novels I’ve touched in a long time. The heavyweight gloss paper is lovely to touch, and the weight of the book makes you feel like you are buying something of value, something to pass on to someone else to read. (I think my niece will get this copy if I can bear to part with it.) Sadly this is only part one, and leaves you begging for more. The story is only halfway through! Arghh! Can’t wait for the second volume, and I hope that the graphic novels will continue Bod’s adventures beyond that of the novel’s limits, as the book left me wanting much more. More adventures of Bod required now! By Stanley Riiks PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES (Extended Cut) (2014) Director: Christopher B Landon Anyone bored of the Paranormal Activity franchise yet? Nah, me neither. The original film still stands as one of the best examples in the “found footage” genre ever made, and though the sequels have been getting progressively weaker, there’s life in the old dog yet. Box office receipts are rarely a sure-fire indication of quality, but whilst being made on a budget of around $5 million, this fifth instalment of the series went on to rake in over $90m earlier this year, proving there is still a massive 13
How did you go about first getting your work published? I talk about this a lot in Out of Time. The main protagonist is a struggling writer, which I certainly was for most of my career. Thankfully, the similarities between us end there! My own experiences in the early days were peppered with rejection. When you are young and cocky it can be quite a kick in the balls. But you have to develop a thick skin and learn from everything, both good and bad. I worked shifts at a packing factory, and wrote in my spare time. It was years before I even built up enough courage to show one of my stories to anyone else. I used to write in BLOCK CAPS, because I didn’t know any different!
Interview with Christian Saunders You have a new book coming out. Tell us about that. Without giving away too much, Out of Time is the story of a jaded hack called Joe Dawson who is suffering from a bad case of writer’s block. He goes to extreme lengths to rediscover his mojo, only to discover that everything has its price and the past usually comes back to haunt you. On a deeper level, it’s about karma and the way the universe always finds ways of redressing the balance. Justice always prevails. At least, I like to think so. What inspired you to write it? There wasn’t one single incident that made me decide to write Out of Time. I’ve been interested in some of the themes it explores, and had been reading and writing around them for a while. When I wrote the first draft I was an English teacher in Hunan Province, China. I got a couple of months off work for spring festival, and decided to take on a project I could start and finish within that time period. I love setting challenges in my writing. It helps keep me focused. The first publisher I showed Out of Time to loved it and I signed a contract, but over a year later they still hadn’t done anything with it so I took it back and began to explore other avenues.
Being practical, there are more markets out there than ever before. You just have to identify suitable ones, read their contributors guidelines, and take a shot. It’s much easier now than it was when I started 20 years ago. Email has made the submission process so much easier. Unfortunately, it’s generally harder to make money from fiction these days. But real writers write, regardless of the rewards. It’s a compulsion. If you get paid, it’s a bonus. What other writers have influenced you? The master, Stephen King, has been the single most influential writer. I’ve read virtually everything he’s put out at least 15
another fiction Saunders. Doh!
once, and that’s saying something because he’s very prolific. Anyone with more than a passing interest in what he calls ‘the craft’ should read his book On Writing. His son Joe Hill is doing a pretty good job of following in his footsteps, too. I also like Chuck Palahniuk, Brett Easton Ellis, and early Dean Koontz.
What are your other influences? I’m going to have to be boring here and say my parents. When I was an angry teenager, always in trouble, I would tell my teachers I wanted to be a writer and they would laugh at me. My folks are the only people to fully support me, in whatever I do. The world is full of inspiring characters. I’m a big Springsteen fan. He always gives his fans 110%, and is always doing something different, instead of just reeling off the same 15-song set-list every night and raking in the money. I also admire people who triumph in adversity. The sporting world is full of people who rise to the top of their game against the odds. Sometimes people from less privileged backgrounds have a hunger to succeed, and that’s what gives them the edge.
You are well known for your non-fiction non-genre writing, and have written about such diverse topics as Cardiff Football Club and Chess Boxing. You also studied Journalism at University. So why write horror stories? Ha-ha, I suppose you could say it’s my guilty pleasure. I’ve been writing since I was a child, and the thing I first felt drawn to was horror. I have no idea why. Now I’m lucky enough to be in a position where writing is my job, as well as my hobby. But if you are going to be a successful freelance writer, what you write about is largely dictated by the market. When there are bills to pay you have to monetize your efforts. I used to write about the unexplained for magazines like Fortean Times and Enigma. I still do occasionally. But these days I do more sport and men’s lifestyle for Forever Sports, Loaded, and Bizarre. Nothing sells as well as a good celebrity interview! I try to distance my day job and my fiction by using different versions of my name. For non-fiction I use Chris or Christian Saunders, while my fiction name is C.M. Saunders. Little did I know that when I started doing that, there was
Where do you get your inspiration? Inspiration is everywhere. You just have to open your eyes and look around. Saying that, I do believe that a fair percentage of inspiration comes from within. You have to do it for yourself, improve every day, and not expect anyone to do you any favours. Why should they? The desire to better yourself, and keep striving for the life you dreamed of, should be inspiration enough. The tougher that road is, the more you appreciate the rewards.
What is your writing day like? Hectic! I get to the office by 9:30 and work my day job until 5:30 or 6. Then I go home, turn on my laptop, and get straight back into it. I always have a million things to do. I like it that way. I try to have several projects on the go at any one time. That way, if you hit the wall with one you can just turn to another. If I’m not writing anything new I’m doing reviews, updating my blog, submitting work to prospective publishers, or marketing my books. I interviewed Luol Deng, the basketball player, recently, and he said something that really struck a chord in me. He said, “You have to work like hell to be successful, and work even harder to stay successful.” He’s so right. But I love what I do. If I didn’t, I’d do something else.
the demographic of any given magazine has certain expectations. For example, if you are interviewing Jason Statham for a serious film magazine, you aren’t going to ask him about his private life. Firstly, the readers won’t care. And secondly, he’d probably punch you in the face. If you don’t live up to the reader’s expectations, you won’t work for that magazine, or that editor, again. With fiction there is much more freedom. Especially in the genre I write in. I tend to turn things on their head. When I write fiction I let the story flow, without any commercial interests or outside influences, then try to find a market for it when it’s finished. Do you have any rituals or routines when you write? Not as such, no. The problem with those kinds of things is that they can be just as negative as positive. If you always think you do your best work if you wear your lucky red pants, what happens if one day you have a tight deadline, and you can’t find your lucky pants? You’re screwed.
Your reviews of genre books and films regularly appear in this magazine, what types of material do you prefer reviewing and why? My tastes vary. I’m a sucker for a good old-fashioned ghost story! I’m also a big fan of Asian cinema, especially Japanese horror.
How do you put a book together, do you just sit down and write, or do you plan chapter by chapter? There are two schools of thought on this. Some writers plan everything fastidiously. Others are more organic, and try to let things flow as much as possible. I belong
Do you write in a different way when writing non-fiction and fiction? Yes. You have to. With non-fiction you are writing for a pre-existing market. You have to conform, and tick boxes, because 17
At the moment, I’m reading a book about Millwall football hooligans, one about Chicago history, and a Jesus and Mary Chain biography. I also buy at least 3 or 4 magazines a month – Classic Rock, FHM, Esquire, Fortean Times. And I read at least two newspapers a day. It’s a habit I picked up at university where we were told to read a tabloid and a broadsheet every day. The Guardian and The Independent are favourites, except on Saturdays when I habitually get The Times.
to the latter camp. I agree with having some kind of loose plan, at least in my head, but again, there comes a point where if you plan things too much it becomes restrictive. The story you are writing might take an unexpected turn, but you’d be reluctant to take it because you wouldn’t want to deviate from your plan. At the end of the day I guess you just have to find a way that works for you. If you could go back in time to when you started writing and give yourself one piece of advice what would it be? Great question. I guess, don’t give up. Because if you want something bad enough, and you work hard, you can achieve anything. I’m living proof.
What is your proudest moment as a writer? I think when a big box full of copies of my first book, Into the Dragon’s Lair – A Supernatural History of Wales, turned up on my doorstep one morning. It was validation. Until then, even when I signed the publishing contract, it didn’t seem real. I’d had little things published here or there, but that book helped me prove my doubters wrong. And there were a lot of them when I started.
Do you read reviews of your work? How do you deal with criticism? Yes, I read every review. I’m ok with criticism, to be honest. I’m lucky in the fact that I’ve not had to experience too much of it. When it does come, you have to remember it’s not personal. The thing about reviews is, as influential as they may be, it’s still only one person’s opinion.
Are you disappointed with any of your work when you look back on it? Unfortunately, yes. Some of my early short stories weren’t very well written. The ideas usually stand up; it was more a matter of poor execution. Hopefully, a good editor takes care of most issues, that’s what they do, but when you look back it’s not always 100% satisfying. It’s a long process, writing. You don’t become a
What book are you reading now? I don’t read just one book at a time. I read as widely as I can, both fiction and nonfiction, especially history and true crime. I was about 70% through Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep before my Kindle got nicked. 18
career. In that sense, you become almost like a conduit. The people I meet are telling their stories and spreading their message to a wider audience through me. I just clean up their English a little bit and put some kind of narrative into what they are saying.
good writer overnight. For me, it’s all about progression. If I’m a better writer today than I was yesterday, that’s enough. What’s the best piece of feedback you’ve had from your audience? I love interacting with the people who read my work. I appreciate the time, money, and effort it requires, and there really is no bigger honour. Especially when you consider all the other things they could be doing. I had an email a couple of years ago from an American girl, who read one of my earlier novellas, Apartment 14F: An Oriental Ghost Story, saying how much she loved the book. For someone to not only buy and enjoy reading one of my books, but to then go through the trouble of finding me online and writing an email meant a lot. To show her how much it was appreciated, I sent her a little gift.
What is the most important thing when becoming a writer? To be true to yourself, and do it for the right reasons. Don’t get into it for the money, because there isn’t any. If you want to be rich, try being a footballer. I think it was Confucius that said, “If you find a job you love you will never do a day’s work in your life.” You have to enjoy what you do. If you don’t enjoy it, go off and do something else because life is just too short. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I must admit, I do like a beer of two, so I can often be found propping a bar up somewhere. I love to travel, seeing new places and experiencing new things. I’m also a big music fan, so I go to gigs regularly. I once travelled all the way from my home in south Wales to Philadelphia to see a Springsteen concert. When I arrived at the venue I found out the show had been cancelled because of a hurricane. I didn’t even know it was a hurricane. Coming from Wales, it was normal wet, windy weather to me!
You have written fiction and non-fiction, short stories and novels. What form do you prefer to read and write? It depends on my mood. I find writing fiction almost therapeutic. There is no bigger boy’s fantasy than being able to disappear into a world of your own creation for a while. It probably says something that my madeup worlds are populated by ghost and zombies, though! Reading fiction has the same effect, with a little more disassociation. I aim to place a few short stories a year in different places. This fall I have one in an anthology called Dead Harvest, which is a bumper book of 50 short stories edited by Mark Parker.
What parts of being a writer do you like best? And least? I like having a voice, and I love the process of writing. There’s nothing so satisfying as when you start with a blank screen and create something from nothing. Well, not many things as satisfying,
Writing non-fiction is a little more of an exact science, though no less enjoyable. I’ve been lucky enough to meet some truly amazing and inspirational people in my 19
right into it. If you are writing a novel and have 100,000+ words to play with, it’s easy to get carried off down long, meandering paths that add nothing to the plot and don’t really move things along. The same goes for my reading habits. I think it’s a general trend. Not many people have the time or inclination to read massive 900-page epics anymore. Times are changing. Even short stories are getting more concise. Novellas now fill the slot where novels used to be, and flash fiction has taken over the short story.
anyway! My least favourite part of writing is dealing with demanding PRs. Do you get writer’s block? How do you cope with it? This is one of the themes I explore in Out of Time. Generally, I try not to force it. If the words aren’t flowing for whatever reason, you can’t make them come because it will manifest in your writing. Saying that, when writing is your only source of income, writer’s block is a luxury you can’t afford! If you could meet anyone, fictional or real, dead or alive, who would it be? Wow, that list would be endless. I’d love to go on a date with Marilyn Monroe, have a sparring session with Bruce Lee, or get boozy with Joe Strummer. Even all three in the same day, and not necessarily in that order, ha-ha! I also wouldn’t mind catching up with Lee Harvey Oswald and asking him what really went down that day in Dallas in 1963.
What are you working on now? In Out of Time the lead character, Joe Dawson, is working on a series of YA adventure stories about a timetravelling boy hero called Joshua Wyrdd. Those books are actually real, though admittedly written by me and not Joe Dawson. They will be seeing the light soon enough. I’ve been looking for an agent, but if nobody takes it on I’ll do it myself. I’ll also be releasing the sequel to X: A Collection of Horror early next year. The X books are a way of cleaning out my closet. Most of the stories in them have been previously published in genre magazines or ezines. I want to make them available to a wider audience. I also spent a large chunk of this year revising and rewriting my first book, Into the Dragon’s
Which do you prefer writing/reading, short stories or novels? To be honest, writing novels is bloody hard work. It’s very involving and timeconsuming. My favourite form at the moment is novella-length, which is usually 20-30,000 words. That way you can keep the story focused and honed, and still get 20
Lair – A Supernatural History of Wales. It’s being reissued next year, and frankly, I thought I could do a better job this time around.
be complicated. If you make things too complex it becomes hard work to read and the enjoyment ebbs away pretty quickly. LINKS:
Do you have any advice for other writers? Writers write! It’s pretty simple. Lots of people wax lyrical about the things they are going to write. My advice is stop talking about it, and go do it! Write every day, without fail. Don’t say you don’t have time because we all have the same 24 hours in a day. Even if it’s just keeping a blog or a journal. Think of it as practice. That way, when it’s time to write something meaningful you will be ready and prepared. It’s like a marathon runner. He can’t just up and decide to run a marathon on a Sunday afternoon. You have to stay in shape, or you won’t finish the marathon. You’ll splutter and cough and give up after a couple of miles. The mind functions in a similar fashion. Also, there are simple common-sense things I’ve learned, like not to use two words where one will do, and don’t use long words just to show off your vocab. It’s not clever.
Out of Time: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00NJZ8 MZ8 X: A Collection of Horror: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00IGHT FC8 Apartment 14F: An Oriental Ghost Story http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B002LLN FZI Into the Dragon’s Lair – A Supernatural History of Wales http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/086381819 6 Devil’s Island
What scares you? Failure! Failure sucks. Sometimes it’s the fear of failure that drives you forward. Less prosaically, I’m also not a big fan of heights or deep water. People don’t belong in the water. Bad things happen in there. Stay the fuck out!
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B008IVU A4O From the Ashes - The REAL Story of Cardiff City FC http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/184524213 0
What makes a good story? Good question. I guess different people look for different things. To me, a good story means a beginning, a middle, and an end. I’m a traditionalist like that. I don’t go for the experimental approach much. In addition to the obvious, good believable characters help, and you need to devise a method to keep the reader reading. There are little tricks you can use, like planting a hook at the beginning of a story to suck the reader in, and finishing chapters on a cliffhanger to make them want to start the next one. But generally, it doesn’t need to
Twitter: @CMSaunders01 Website: http://cmsaunders.wordpress.com
power into his everyday life. Once met, never forgotten. I first met him at alt.fiction in Derby in 2010, long before Spectral had even been thought of. I introduced myself to him (an unusual thing in those days, as I was [and still am] quite shy), and he had the grace to ask me where he’d heard my name before. We struck up a conversation, and his warmth and charm won me over very quickly. There was no pretence with Graham (as, indeed, I found with all the writers I’ve crossed paths with since): he was a straightforward and principled man, more than ready to support those who were just beginning their journeys within the genre. He would always take the time to talk to me whenever we happened to be in the same room and it was always as an equal: he never let his stature as a writer of the first magnitude get in the way because, I think, he genuinely loved people. It was because of this love that he often stood for the underdog and those who were downtrodden. He hated bigotry and prejudice of any kind, as all of us within genre do. He simply wanted the best for everybody, regardless of their station in life or their abilities. One of the social issues he railed against was the constant uninformed interference of the former Education Minister Michael Gove, whose ideas he saw as being detrimental to the future education and well-being of children in this country. He was angry enough to start a petition to have Gove removed from office. Gove did go, and many of us would like to think that it was Graham’s hearty opposition to the Minister that helped to shoehorn him out. I last saw him at the funeral of Joel Lane last December. The ironies and parallels here are not lost on me – Joel was meant to be at FCon 2013 and died shortly afterwards. Graham was meant to MC at this year’s event but was unable to attend, and died after the convention had ended. Both men were behemoths of literature, bringing to genre a breadth of vision and literacy that is often absent from certain
Ramblings of a Tattooed Head By Simon Marshall-Jones GRAHAM JOYCE 1954 – 2014 “Why can’t our job here on earth be simply to inspire each other?” These simple words resonate very strongly in the hearts of many today. I very rarely struggle with words, but today I am having difficulty in finding the right ones. Yesterday, someone I was privileged enough to call a friend who also happened to be a giant among his peers, Graham Joyce, passed from this mortal plane at the age of just 59 due to aggressive lymphoma. The outpouring of grief on Facebook from his many friends and acquaintances stands as testament to just how much he was loved, respected, and admired. I can’t say I knew him well, but I DID know him well enough to call him a friend. A very gentle man, full of inspiration, humour, and mischief, a twinkle always in his eyes and a smile ready to grace his handsome face. His was an extraordinary talent, able to turn the mundaneness of the everyday into something magical and exciting, enabling us to view the world through different, perhaps clearer, eyes. Graham looked beyond the superficial to see the real core of the matter, performing the literary equivalent of alchemy, turning the base material of what he saw around him into the gold of the phantastique. My first encounter with his work was The Silent Land, a tale of a young couple going on a skiing holiday, only to find themselves in a strangely quiet, abandoned ski resort after an avalanche, which they find impossible to leave. The story is told with astounding simplicity, yet the grace and quiet power of the man’s prose is undeniable, leaving one profoundly affected on some primal emotional level. The one over-riding aspect of Graham was that he carried those qualities of simplicity, grace, and quiet 23
quarters of the field. Both men were the epitome of kindness laced with humour and mischief. Both were passionate agitators against the inadequacies and inequalities of an unfair social system. Both were just great fun to talk to and be with. I’ve been reading many testaments to Graham on Facebook this morning, all far more eloquent and moving than I could hope to write. Above all, their combined power is to delineate a man of broad cultural and social qualities, someone of immense depth and significance. And none of us should forget that he WAS and IS significant, as a writer, friend, and human being. We are often prone as a species to compare those of extraordinary talent to some celestial phenomena, such as a comet or meteor: in Graham’s case those are far too transient and ephemeral, totally inadequate to the task at hand. The man was a hypernova, a rare event in the life of the universe, just as Graham was a being of rare qualities and attributes here on Earth. His like is very rarely encountered, and the odds of meeting another like him have been considerably diminished. Graham, I hope that you and Joel are supping a pint of the best celestial nectar up there, and let it be known that you will be sorely missed down here by all those whose lives you touched. GRAHAM JOYCE – RIP
odd pages this isn’t in the same category as 2012’s Too Late to Call Texas, but with his writing style perfectly suited to this length, it is a welcome transition. The story is viewed almost exclusively through the eyes of Jeffrey Carlisle, who obsesses over the mysterious disappearance of his sister. He spends a lot of time doing mundane things and lives a rather sad, solitary existence. But Zelazny leaves you in no doubt that there is a lot bubbling away just beneath the surface. Much of Carlisle’s world is glimpsed through his blinds, and it is in this way he first notices that something not quite right is going on next door. The themes addressed in People Person are very pertinent not just to the story but to the world around us; loss, domestic abuse, why bad things happen to good people, and what can happen when the perennially downtrodden fight back. It is emotive, thought-provoking, and superbly written. A lesson to us all in what can go on behind closed doors, and why it pays to be nice. Go check it out. You won’t regret it. By C.M. Saunders EXORCIST ROAD By Jonathan Janz http://www.samhainpublishing.com/ Jason Crowder is a priest who only took his vows due to his fear of women. But now his shaky faith is going to be put to the test when he is summoned to a parishioner’s house by a local police officer, Danny Hartman. As Danny drives Father Crowder to the Hartman residence, he explains the reason he is dragging Crowder out in the middle of the night. His brother and sisterin-law, Ron and Liz Hartman, have locked their son Casey in his room after he viciously attacks his parents and little sister. Danny is convinced the child is possessed, and wants the priest’s help. Danny’s partner, Jack Bittner, isn’t so convinced Casey is an innocent child. There have been a recent string of murders
PEOPLE PERSON By Trent Zelazny http://trentzelazny.com/
What a deeply unsettling little gem of a novella this is. Anyone who knows anything of his background will know that Zelazny is no stranger to tragedy and adversity, and he manages to inject more than a little of that hopelessness, frustration, and despair into People Person, widely regarded as his best work to date. After a career spent thus far largely on shorter works, he is finally taking strides into longer projects. At 3024
of 16-year-old girls by the “Sweet Sixteen Killer,” and Jack believes Casey might the one killing them. Crowder’s mentor, Father Sutherland, has also been summoned to the house to determine if Casey is possessed and needs an exorcism. Exorcist Road was inspired by William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist - but so are most possession stories published after that. However, Exorcist Road is so much more than just a story about the devil. The story takes many twists and turns that kept me guessing until the end. The demon itself was vile, and performed horrific acts upon those around it, especially the children. The story is creepy, and well-written. Father Crowder is a very interesting character, and I hope to see him in future stories, due to how this one ends. This was the first book I’ve read by Janz, but it’s by no means the last. By Sheri White
The comics anthology seems to have petered out in the early 1980s with the demise of Warren Publishing and the DC Comics horror line (Ghosts, House of Mystery, etc). The general market seems to prefer serialized, soap opera adventures to bite-sized horror. The anthology titles were also training grounds for new writers and artists – Frank Miller’s debut was in Twilight Zone and he had early work in Weird War Tales for example – allowing them to learn the medium and hone their craft. The short story form is rarely used in the mainstream comics world with the emphasis on “writing for the trade,” leading to horrendously decompressed storytelling. Using six issues to tell a twoissue story is not art 2. The Creeps #1 Warrant Publishing http://thecreepsmagazine.com A new anthology magazine in the style of Creepy and Eerie (obviously!), The Creeps is attempting to rekindle the glory days of Warren Publishing’s offerings. The format is familiar: a black and white magazine with letter pages and a varied table of contents. Historical and contemporary horror, along with science fiction have a home in its thirty-six pages. Warren alumni such as Ken Kelly, Frank Brunner, and Rich Buckler are featured along with newcomers, and the art is in keeping with mid-period Creepy/Eerie. The stories themselves are written in the Warren style of yore, short and effective. It is quite entertaining for the fan of
From the Catacombs By Jim Lesniak Some of my earliest memories of comic books are the Charlton horror anthologies of the late 1970s and early 1980s. They have been unfairly maligned for decades for being printed on the cheap and not having the cache of Marvel or DC, but there was a lot of quality to be found on those miscut pages. There was a freedom (within the confines of the Comics Code) of storytelling, design, and art that was only rivaled by the undergrounds and the first vestiges of the self-published direct market titles. Tales had to be tightly plotted inside the page count, but there were no editorial mandates, giving a home to Steve Ditko, John Byrne, Tom Sullivan, and other talents before it burned out. This is salient since they favored the anthology at Charlton, and so have I ever since finding them as a kid. 1
every month without fail when sometimes the newsstands might miss an issue of Detective Comics. It took years to track down several early 1980s issues of Detective that had lousy distribution, but Ghostly Tales or Haunted? No problem! 2
X-Men’s “Days of Future Past” was a two issue storyline. The origin of Spider-Man was told in eleven pages, for example.
Odd, yet true fact: Charltons had great distribution in the Midwest. You could find them 25
vintage Warren, but it is questionable whether it shall find a contemporary audience. The Creeps is nearly a magazine
Pre sented in full colour, the art does complemen t the adaptations within. The chosen artists vary styles between tales, giving each its own flavour. I am intentionally NOT revealing anything about the stories beyond that – as short stories, why ruin the surprise? A commendable debut issue boding well for future issues. Hopefully, Evil Jester can maintain the quality shown here in a book influenced by past anthologies, but very contemporary in feel.
out of time; ignore the copyright dates and this could be a mid-1970s lost magazine. I believe that is the point, but with reprints readily available is it really necessary? The magazine is well produced and priced for a casual reader (US$4.95), but it is instant nostalgia not a fresh expression. It is enjoyable for what it is, but unless this labour of love is backed by deep pockets it is unlikely it will have a long life. Grab it while you can.
The Steam Engines of OZ Sean Patrick O’Reilly, Erik Hendrix, and Yannis Roumboulias Arcana Studio http://www.arcana.com Meh. A collection of the “Two Volume SteamPunk Epic” that did not feel all that epic. The storyline was overly predicable, with pretty, well laid out art. Ye Olde Reviewer was more moved by Wicked (yes, the musical) than this rumination on the Emerald City a century after the Wicked Witch’s demise. This is not bad, per se, just dull. There are innumerable Oz continuations out there that
Evil Jester Presents #1 Evil Jester Comics http://eviljestercomics.com A brand new horror comic anthology from an existing small press horror publisher, the debut issue starts with a bang - stories adapted from Jack Ketchum, Jonathan Maberry, William F. Nolan, and Joe McKinney. Pure horror, sci-fi, and horrortinged crime are present here in the quartet of tales presented, including the Stoker Award Winning “The Box” from the always reliable Jack Ketchum. Of course, adaptations can vary in quality, even with excellent source material. 26
directly from editor Putrid Matt with a trade. The contents are horrifying, disgusting, and have no socially redeeming qualities, and I read it cover to cover. Flip through a copy if you come across one in the wild; if it does not look too extreme for your tastes, give it a whirl. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but you get an inkling of Organ from its cover art. It is a brutal, uncompromising, and well-written treatise of the underground.
do this so much better. Instead of spending US$29.95 on this forgettable volume, seek out the 1990s “Oz” series from Caliber, “Oz Squad,” “The Royal Historian of Oz,” or any of the Eric Shannower adaptations from Marvel. Those are all worth a second read, unlike this trite tale. Release the flying monkeys… Organ Fanzine #1 Edited by Putrid Matt https://www.facebook.com/OrganZine/inf o
Children of the Dead: The Treehouse #1 &2 Patrick Boggs, Norbert Yates, and Michael Moore Thursday Productions http://childrenofthedead.net
Organ is a square bound oldschool design fanzine focused on grimy horror and extreme metal. Produced in the handwritten, cut and paste style prevalent in the 1980s and 1990s prior to the widespread availability of desktop publishing software, it is remarkably readable which is a testament to the layout skill and penmanship of the editor. It is also a rare beast of a fanzine on high-quality paper, giving it a book-like feel. Organ is not pretty, nor does it set out to be – it is a visual representation of the contents, if that makes any sense. A key metric is that I found the band interviews interesting even though I have not heard, or for the most part, heard OF most of them. The extremes of trashy videos of the 1980s through today are revelled in and shamelessly extolled. The passion of its writers helps make unfamiliar movies and music sound worthwhile, and that makes reading this densely packed fanzine fun. I received this the old school way –
I almost feel bad about reviewing these comics since the writer is so earnest about his story. Full disclosure: I was given these issues for free at Days of the Dead Indianapolis this year, but they look like they came out in 2013. There is a good story idea here, just problems in execution. Children of The Dead follows the travails of young (10-12 years old) Sam Donnegan in the wake of some sort of infection that causes individuals to become feral and cannibalistic. Set in the Shawnee National Forest, located in Southern Illinois, he makes a break for the woods once his father is infected. The only help left is in the form of other boys in their early teens that know their way around the forest. Add to these three subplots: Sam’s mother and older brother trying to rescue him, two rich kids that barely escaped death, and some quasi governmental entity that seems to be asserting control in the region. The feel I get from this comic is they were inspired in equal parts by The Crossed (the infection), The Walking Dead (survival of a small band in an isolated area), and living near the Shawnee. It is too cluttered of a story to make sense. It feels like a first draft with no editor. The art is a mix of hand-drawn and digital 27
unaware that he is of royal blood, until the troupe decamps for London’s higher paying crowds. Will learning of his past save or destroy his future? The team responsible for last year’s adaptation of “The Colour Out of Space” distils the essence of Hugo’s story into this graphic novel. Some of the, let’s admit it, blindingly dull passages are referenced in passing (i.e. British politics and rules of succession) while allowing the emotional centre and pathos take centre stage. The pacing, at times, feels slow, but this is an after affect of the source material and the time in which it was written. Recommended as a primer on a classic work that may not be pure horror, yet highly influential. This instalment was written under the influence of Chas Balun – I recently acquired a FULL run of Deep Red 1-7. Seeing what he put together 20-25 years ago is inspiring and a reminder that reviews do not have to be nice. After suffering through enough substandard comics, books and movies, I am taking that to my bloody heart. Let’s call shit for what it is –we deserve better as readers, as the audience for horror. If we do not demand quality, all we’ll get is retreads, remakes, sequels, reboots, and the same boring tropes. I rarely, if ever, receive free review copies. Just like anyone else, I am spending my money on entertainment and crap will not be tolerated. Dig for the diamonds in the rough, wallow in the underground. Somewhere, the next Takashi Miike is out there making movies waiting to be found. It’s frustrating to see another cycle of reruns in the horror world – we cannot put up with this crap or we will suffer a drought of good material and burn out. Find the creators that speak to you, Stephen King does not need your money nor do the hacks spitting out the flavour of the week dumbed down for the masses. H.P. Lovecraft died alone, broke, and unheralded – let’s find the next generation while they are alive.
rendering which gives it an odd feel and it is sometimes hard to follow. The art reminds me of the black and white boom of the 1980s where anyone and everyone would try to get a book to market with baseline acceptable art. It does not help that the caption style harkens back to the early golden age, with overly verbose descriptions of panel action. The writer should be commended for getting his vision completed and printed. I cannot recommend buying these issues as they feel so derivative of betterproduced comics on the market. Stale dialogue and stiff art add to the malaise in finishing two full issues as a reader. The Man Who Laughs Adapted by David Hine and Mark Stafford Self Made Hero http://selfmadehero.com This adaptation is the latest in Self Made Hero’s line of excellent graphic novels, which have prominentl y featured the work of H.P. Lovecraft over the last few years. Here, we have the adaptation of one of Victor Hugo’s less popular works done in fine style with full colour. Gwynplaine is an orphan who was disfigured as a small child to exhibit a grotesque smile at all times who is taken in, along with a baby girl he rescues, by a traveling doctor. More a snake oil salesman, the trio turns to theatrical presentations to pay the bills. The boy is 28
34 pages of genre non-fiction, including interviews with author Christian Saunders and artist Matt Davis! Simon Marshall-Jones offers his Ra...
Published on Oct 6, 2014
34 pages of genre non-fiction, including interviews with author Christian Saunders and artist Matt Davis! Simon Marshall-Jones offers his Ra...