Horror and Comics!

Comic and Horror lovers!!! Listen up!!!

There is this book called IN THE DARK. It’s a comic horror anthology. It’s brilliant and I do not say that lightly. You may notice it’s out through IDW, but it was originally a Kickstarter by the phenomenally talented Rachel Autumn Deering. A rising horror star in the comics community. Rachel put together this magnificent anthology with talent such as Steve Niles, Batman’s Scott Snyder, the brilliant Paul Tobin, Tim Seeley, Ed Brisson, Duane Swierczynski and so many more. This is a massive work of horror art and you’d be ridiculous not to get your hands on it.

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You can buy it online, sure. But you can also contact Rachel and buy directly from her. Which is what I highly recommend. Because this was a Kickstarter, she has a ton of copies. Running a successful Kickstarter campaign is not all fun and flowers. It’s extremely difficult and the cost on the creator is insane. If you’re going to order this book (which, have I mentioned already that you REALLY SHOULD?), order it directly from Rachel (drop her a message on FB: https://www.facebook.com/theironrachel).

Support artists who are taking chances, being bold, thinking outside of the box, and making a difference in the pulling industry.

Check out Bloody Disgusting’s 5 Skull review here! http://bloody-disgusting.com/reviews/3292704/5-skull-review-dark-horror-anthology/

Hallowe’en Extravaganza!

skeleton-clip-art-15UPDATE!

We only have to wait a week now! Next week I will post the first contest. Get ready for some crazy halloween fun!

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Yea. So what if I start preparing for Hallowe’en in August. I still have a bride and groom skeleton set hanging from my window from last year. In my world, everyday is Hallowe’en.

We won’t start any of the festivities until Oct. 1st (whimper heard around the world). But I wanted everyone to be aware that there WILL be festivities. I had to take last year off, but I’ll more than make up for it this year!

I already have some amazing books from extremely generous publishers like Little, Brown, Walker, Quirk Books, and Abrams, lined up for giveaways. Ghosts, skeletons, murderers, maniacs, and good old spooky fun haunt these pages.

There will be contests to win books. And they are difficult contests. They involve writing, and reminiscing, maybe some old Hallowe’en pictures?! There will be plenty of books, thus plenty of creepy contests.

Get ready…

Set…

Wait a month and a half…

Beautifully Macabre: The Beauty deep within the Macabre

“…only a real artist knows the actual anatomy of the terrible or the physiology of fear – the exact sort of lines and proportions that connect up with latent instincts or hereditary memories of fright, and the proper colour contrasts and lighting effects to stir the dormant sense of strangeness.” -H.P. Lovecraft

I have two very close friends. The macabre and beauty itself. They greet me every day, in my work, in my play, and in my sleep. The closeness we share has created a blissful trifecta. We have become so entangle that no boundaries remain. But often times, I find myself stepping back, observing the creations born out of the bond between macabre and beauty. For a long time, I had a great obsession for these creations, but I did not understand them or my obsession.

I philosophized for years over this matter. What is it about a splatter of blood that interests me? Why do I eat up literature on beheaded queens like it’s candy? Why do I envy ghosts? What is so beautiful about death? All questions I have asked myself for years and had recently given up trying to answer…

My whole life I’ve wished that there was a monster in my closet. I would friend him. Call him Frodile. He’d protect me. He’d read me scary stories and draw me pictures of the ghastly things from his world. Most importantly, he would understand me. Well unfortunately Frodile never came, he won’t exist in this lifetime. But I found his human equivalent. And no one will ever be as lucky as me.

About two years ago, my Frodile stepped out of my closet in the form of artist Rebekah Joy Plett. Rebekah and I became fast friends–I believe on a subconscious level because neither of us knew about our mutual love for the macabre–and today we are partners in the dark arts. I am Rebekah’s literary agent, her art representative, and business partner in the macabre children’s literature and art magazine Underneath the Juniper Tree. Merging our sensibilities (she brings the macabre, I bring the horror) we’ve opened up a labyrinth that continues to amaze me and continues to answer the questions I’ve pondered for years.

Through conversations with Bex, and possibly even more importantly, through viewing her art, I’ve found my answers.

“I think beauty in horror — or horror in beauty — is such a successful match because beauty itself is not enough; it’s great to look at but eventually the brain becomes bored. It’s with the combination of the two that something truly interesting is created. We want to look, but we don’t; we want to enjoy the piece but something is horribly wrong about it. The beauty tells us ‘It’s okay to look at me’, while the horror says, ‘What is wrong with you?’ I think this is why many people are drawn to the Shakespeare character Ophelia, or Waterhouse’s nymphs, or Girl, Interrupted. When you combine beauty and horror, the result becomes unpredictable and irresistibly desirable.” -Rebekah Joy Plett

I remember the first time Bex showed me this image:

Rebekah has always had a penchant for unique, pop-surrealist, ghastly, and creepy art. If not straight horrifying art (Read: Rebekah’s Human Nature art series that is yet to be completely unveiled but involes a lot of blood and death).

Yet when she showed me the above art, I was stricken with an overwhelming sense of belonging. Rebekah’s previous invisible or obscure monsters were now blatant monsters. Real life monsters. This quickly became a series for Rebekah because the monsters and the beautiful girls did exactly what we had both been dreaming of for years. They married the macabre and beauty… equally.

It was at this point that I described Rebekah and her art as being “Innocent yet sexual, macabre yet beautiful, horrifying yet earthy, and completely organic.”

One of Rebekah’s greatest qualities is that she doesn’t fetter her creativity.

Creativity — like monsters — never sleeps. It only waits.” –Rebekah Joy Plett

And when her creativity is done waiting, it just blooms and blooms and blooms until it’s a wild monster’s tongue reaching out from the painting, trussing you up in its sickly slime, yanking you back into the painting with it. Rebekah is the Lewis Carroll of art, she’ll push you down the rabbit hole.

While discussing the marriage of beauty and the macabre with Rebekah, we both agreed that the majority of adults have lost the ability to still see monsters. They’ve grown too old to think that there may be something underneath their bed. The only thing adults think might be lurking under their covers is a spider or two. Horrifying art like that of Stephen Gammell makes the average adult shrug or say Why would anyone want to look at that?

(Well that’s a subject for another time, because I do love me some Gammell.)

But what Rebekah (and other artists like her: Mark Ryden, Nicoletta Ceccoli, Camilla D’Errico, Elizabeth McGrath, Matthew J. Price) has done is made deeply morbid and disturbing art beautiful and more accessible to those who might have lost their ability to dream darkly.

While Rebakah and I strive to open the imaginations of children with our children’s magazine, Rebekah’s art strives to do the same but for those adults who subconsciously want to feel scared, want to be intrigued, want to feel shock and delight simultaneously.

The girls? Lovely. The monsters? Devilish down to the tips of their tongues and claws. Like Rebekah says, Blood is in the details.” 

Death, monsters, blood, insanity… it’s not always about evil. It can often times be about creativity, love, imagination, and yes… still insanity.

a work in progress by RJP

“Something beautiful alone, or something only macabre doesn’t say much, but once you put them together a conversation is started. Why is there a pretty girl laying in the grass? Why is that bird making off with her entrails? A story has begun.” –Rebekah Joy Plett

I want to thank Rebekah for the interview, the images, and the friendship. She’s the monster in my closet, the darkness that takes over when the candle flame dies.

Beware of Clarisse Honkle

I have an awesome set of nieces and nephews. When I asked if any of them would like to write a scary short story for my blog, two of my nieces, Cassidy and Dakota, both got right to it! Both of them are such talented, intelligent girls and I am so lucky to get their talent exclusively for my blog!

First up: My 12-year-old niece, Cassidy. She is quite the writer (also, quite the volleyball player, she just made the traveling Vball team!)

ANYWAY, knowing my girl’s propensity for writing and knowing how talented she is, I knew her story would be just as spooky as I expected it to be. This busy little girl also just finished a book she has been writing called Myth. She is a nonstop achiever.

Without any more babble from me…please tap your keys for Cassidy Ogden and her short story:

 

Clarisse Honkle

(1991-1998)

That was it. But that tombstone somehow meant a great deal to George, although he had no idea why.

George was lonely without a family. One night the man woke. He jumped when he saw a small girl standing timidly in the doorway. As she walked closer to him he saw that she was missing an arm, was covered in scrapes, and limped when she walked. She stopped at the foot of his bed. In a hushed voice she spoke. “Help. please.” George asked who she was but she interrupted him screaming, “Make it stop!!” She went as still as a statue and stayed there, watching him all night. He woke in the morning and the girl was gone.

That night he fell asleep fast, still exhausted from the night before. But once again he woke. Sure enough he looked up to find the girl staring at him. The girl would repeat the words “Help. Please.” And if he tried to talk to her she would scream at him.

Until one night she let him speak. “Who are you?” he asked. “Clarisse Honkle,” she replied. George’s mouth fell open. The tombstone.

She yelled harder when he tried to ask her more questions. “Leave me alone George! You were supposed to forget!” she shrieked.

As the nights passed, occasionally Clarisse would answer questions for George. After several months George had gathered some useful information. Clarisse was being stalked by a man. She was an orphan. The stalker was after money her parents left to her. Her stalker kid-napped her and threw her in his car. They crashed. Her body was found missing an arm. Her captor had amnesia from hitting his head and he didn’t remember her.

One night, George crawled into bed for the last time. After falling asleep, he woke once again. He heard her voice say “Hi, George.” He looked up. “George, I never got my revenge on my stalker. Don’t worry, you won’t remember anything, you have amnesia, remember? Of course you don’t.” George never woke again.

Now you must remember when you get in the driver’s seat, always say Honkle three times to give Clarisse the respect she never received when she was alive and to insure that you will not be her next victim. Who knows, you could have had amnesia like George.


Brass Tacks: Supernatural vs Paranormal; Vampire vs Zombie

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Two things happened to me recently that turned my world a little on its side: 1) writers at a writer’s conference asked me what I was looking for in YA and I said ‘no more paranormal.’ But then they asked me if I liked zombies and I said I LOVED zombies. They all laughed at me ironically. 2) I had a conversation with someone in which I made the statement: I do not like paranormal, but I love supernatural. I pretty much stopped myself short, realizing mid-word (and remembering the writer’s conference) that I actually had no idea what the difference is between the two words.

We both immediately whipped out our iPhones:

So yea… thanks for nothing, dictionary.

Friends and readers, lovers and haters: We have a mission to complete. What IS what?!

Let’s start with prefixes.

Para: beyond …beyond normal.

Super: above; over; beyond above natural; over natural; beyond natural

So again, thanks for nothing, prefixes. BUT WAAIT! Prefix be damned! It’s the stem that matters in this case. Am I totally right, or what?!

Normal: usual; typical; standard

Natural: existing in, or caused by nature

We have had it wrong this WHOLE time. Twilight is not paranormal YA romance. Twilight is supernatural YA romance. Vampires, as far as we know at this moment, do not exist in nature. They are supernatural.

Zombies however do exist in nature. Zombies in Voodoo, Haitian zombies…those zombie ants I read about the other day! They exist, maybe not George R. style, but zombies are much more eligible to exist in nature and are therefore beyond typical: paranormal.

Brass tacks: Vampires are beyond existing in nature (supernatural) and zombies are beyond typical (paranormal).

If you are still reading, I have four words for you: You’re a Champ, Matt.

READERS: WEIGH IN!!!

Next up: We figure out where ghosts fit in this whole crazy semantic mess. Then robots.