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Storm Tree, 1915

Bohemian and free-spirited Anne Brigman was a photographer whose work seems to draw upon a strange and wonderful blend of pagan mythology, European symbolism, and “her childhood exposure to the native beliefs of the Hawaiian people.”

Best known for dramatic photographs of the female nude, Anne made nature her studio –California’s spectacular and still relatively remote Sierra Nevada Mountains –and fully integrated the human body into the landscape.

I read the following about Anne Brigman and couldn’t stop thinking about it:

“She visited the Sierras often enough that she developed what she called “friendships” with several individual trees and peaks. In 1926, after she’d become an established photographer, Brigman wrote an article for Camera Craft magazine in which she described her relationship with one such tree. “One day on one of my wanderings I found a juniper – the most wonderful juniper that I’ve met in my eighteen years of friendship among them…It was a great character like the Man of Gallilee or Moses the Law-giver, or the Lord Buddha, or Abraham Lincoln…Storm and stress well borne made it strong and beautiful. I climbed into it. Here was the perfect place for a figure; here the place for the right arm to rest, and even though my feet were made clumsy by boots, I could see and feel where the feet would fit perfectly into the cleft that went to its base.”

Brigman describes how she spent a couple days “caring” for the tree; tidying up around its roots, removing unattractive stones and pebbles, trimming “small extraneous branches” and generally preparing it for a photograph that she might never take. ”

A year before her death in Eagle Rock, near Los Angeles, in 1950, she published a book of her poems and photographs titled Songs of a Pagan. I would love to have this book on my shelf, but at $550+, well, I suppose I will have to admire this pagan priestess of photography and her gentle dryads from afar.

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The Heart of the Storm, 1914

 

Female Nude Standing on Large Rock Over a Lake, 1923
Female Nude Standing on Large Rock Over a Lake, 1923

 

The Dying Cedar
The Dying Cedar

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Us

[EDIT: This article was originally written in 2016. I have noticed a large amount of traffic pointing to it and realized it was all directed from the same blog post. Please allow me to point out that art is dark as often as it is light, and not all of the subjects that artists tackle are positive, beautiful, or full of happy thoughts. Artists often paint their own trials and traumas onto the canvas, and their palettes frequently reflect the very real horrors in this world. That does not make these works “evil” or “satanic” or promoting “depraved illuminati Luciferian practices” Critical thinking, people. It’s a thing. And shame on that blogger for using art to promote her ridiculous agenda.]

Polish artist Aleksandra Waliszewska creates some of your most brutal nightmares: those savage, dreadful dreams that set a deep sleeper to screaming, and where upon waking, you can only gibber incoherent nonsense regarding your nocturnal horrors and why you were moved to wet the bed in terror last night.

Unfortunate events abound, and a trail of carnage, both physical and psychological, is an underlying theme that streaks gore-soaked and deep through Waliszewska’s paintings. Whether random or ritualistic, the violence runs rampant, with characters either coming to brutal ends or who are depicted perpetrating and engaging in the brutality themselves. Sometimes it is unclear as to who is the victim and who is the villain, and yet, even those who would seem blood-splattered prey possess malignant, nearly obscene expressions. Even the animals in Wasilewska’s depraved visions sport sly, wicked countenances.

 

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Beasts of every variety, as well as children–creatures one normally associates with innocence and purity–are in on the mayhem as well, participating in malicious behaviors and gruesome, perverse deeds. Whether against the backdrop of a well-lit classroom, a shadowy forest landscape, or the viscera-strewn confines of a dusty cave, madness, magic, and mythology cavort in hand in bloody hand.

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And yet we can’t look away, can we? Waliszewska is flaying the face of the mundane and peeling back the layers to give us a peek at what lies beneath–attraction and repulsion and the multilayered shitshow strata that is the human condition.

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When it comes to the the symbolism and meaning one might be inclined to seek in the jarring imagery and morbid figures she creates, one gets the sense from previous interviews and commentary from the artist herself that Waliszewska is more interested in form and emotion than imbuing her works with a deeper forethought and “over-intellectualizing” such things. An artist of few words, when asked what it is that draws people to her work, she notes laconically, “…I can only deduce it has something to do with a fascination with sex and violence.” (source)

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A graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and recipient of scholarships awarded by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Aleksandra Waliszewska has had more than 20 solo exhibitions in Poland and abroad over the past decade, and has her work published in collections by My Dance The Skull, United Dead Artists, Les Editions Du 57, Drippy Bone Books, and Editions Kaugummi.

All images owned by Aleksandra Waliszewska. Her work can be found on her tumblr, her flickr and her Facebook page.

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(This article was originally posted at Dirge; the site is no longer active.)

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13687158_1505275199498442_1881285878_nDo you guys remember that little project, our wee devil baby, the demonic thing on which Becky Munich and I and a coven of infernally talented artists and writers collaborated, conjured forth from the depths of the abyss, and birthed into the world in the early months of 2016? Sure you do! I mean, I hope you do, right?

Our Occult Activity Book for artistic creatures of the night & weirdos who like to dabble in the arcane arts (using crayons and colored pencils, of course!) was a rousing success and sold out in three weeks! As it was a very limited run–“spooky and special”, according to io9!– we decided that we were not going to revive it and raise it from the dead for another go round, but instead make a Volume Two that is twice as filled with magic and witchery, and even more splendid than the first!

This second book is scheduled for release in Fall of 2016, and to whet your appetite for more bewitching spell craft, dark arts, and esoteric fun times, I have gathered a collection of teaser images from the forthcoming book, below. I hope that you are as excited as we our for the release of our devil baby Jr., Occult Activity Book Volume Two!

{Art credits: Becky Munich, Carisa Swenson, Dana Glover, Dan Bythewood, Tenebrous Kate, & Casket Glass Studio; words by Jack Shear, Heather Drain, and Sonya Vatomsky.}

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“Matsuyama Miyabi,” a Chinese artist assuming a Japanese moniker, defines her artistic style as “Neo-Ukiyo-e.”

 

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Juxtaposing the feminine beauty of traditional Edo-era floating world imagery with themes of death and fate and a gorgeously gloomy atmosphere, she conjures shadowy, unsettling truths and reveals the darkness of unspeakable fears.

“WHAT GOOD IS THE WORLD IF THERE IS ONLY BRIGHTNESS AND HAPPINESS?” inquires the thoughtful artist.

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Picking up a small amount of internet fame for her Addams Family In Kimonos, (or perhaps she would have, if the internet wasn’t full of shameless turds who share and pin and reblog things without context or credit), Matsuyama Miyabi candidly shares that although she had fun with it as an interesting creative exercise, she doesn’t even like that particular piece very much!

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Matsuyama Miyabi’s obsessions and inspirations range from horror films and suspenseful thrillers to the grotesque manga art of Junji Ito, and she acknowledges a fondness for the twisted postures encouraged in fashion photography (it reminds her of the dancing figures in the Noh Plays of Japan), and the unique charm of weirdly attractive haute couture fashion models.

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“All kinds of beauty are connected,” she adds with finality.

Find more of Matsuyama Miyabi’s work on her tumblr and her Instagram.

(This article was originally posted at Dirge; the site is no longer active.)

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Frederik Ruysch
Frederik Ruysch

A gathering of death related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From somber to hilarious, from informative to creepy, here’s a snippet of things that have been reported on or journaled about related to matters of death & dying & mortality.

💀 No one ever tells you that when your dog is dying, it feels like a human is dying.
💀 7 Imaginative But Most Peculiar Novels About Death
💀 Dignity in Death for Black Families at a Brooklyn Funeral Home
💀 When You Make Friends With Death
💀 Documenting death – the final stories of 3 terminally ill people
💀 The Dark Magic of Dead Bodies
💀 Silent Sisters: Caring for the dead in gendered religious space
💀 Cry, Heart, But Never Break: A Remarkable Illustrated Meditation on Loss and Life
💀 Exploring Graveyards and our Feelings about Death with Pokémon Go
💀 No One Tells You This About Loss, So I Will
💀 The 18th-Century Anatomist Who Celebrated Life with Dioramas of Death
💀 Yale Open Courses On Death
💀 The Dead and their Ghostly Baggage of Superstitions
💀 I Simulated My Own Death & Here’s What I Learned

Previous installments:
Links of the Dead for June 2016
Links of the Dead for May 2016
Links of the Dead for April 2016
Links of the Dead for March 2016
Links of the dead for February 2016
Links of the dead for January 2016
Links of the dead for December 2015
Links of the dead for November 2015
Links of the dead for September 2015
Links of the dead for August 2015

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Deathroom-Shroom

Sometimes you just want to get away from it all. You’ve got ten vacation days that are burning a hole in your pocket, but lakeside cabins and sandy retreats aren’t as nice as they were when you were a kid and your weird grandparents were still alive, you haven’t got the money for your dream trip to that amazing Japanese Cat Island, and no way are you spending a week with your sister in Hoboken this summer. Never again, I don’t care how crazy-great those New Jersey bagels are.

These ho-hum, humdrum getaways are becoming tiresome year after year, and you’re feeling antsy. You want to go to a far off, far-out place where not only does everyone not know your name, but you can’t even tell if you’re all on the same planet or astral plane anymore. Are those even human people? Some sort of enlightened beings, perhaps? Are they talking in colors? Are their faces melting off? Or is it your own eyeballs melting? Are you all hopped up on hallucinogenic whoseywhatsits? What the hell is going on, even?

Ah–now we’re talking. These are the places we’ve barely dared dream of: the super-saturated, psychedelic escapism and day-glo, swirling surrealism of Oliver Hibert’s fantastical cosmic beyond.

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Born in Seattle but currently a resident of Scottsdale AZ, self-taught Hibert’s bright, eye-dazzling style with prevailing themes of powerful feminine mysticism led to his debut in galleries by the age of sixteen, and shortly thereafter, his bold palette and magical scenes caught the attention of MTV for a music video at the age of eighteen.

Hibert notes in a prior interview with the Phoenix New Times that art “….gets me up every day and gives me one of the most powerful reasons to be alive and stay alive. I literally have to create art and get it out of me. I don’t know what I would do without it” — and there is no clearer evidence of Hibert’s wild passion than in the vivid intensity of the boundary-destroying art that he creates.

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Not content to merely gaze upon the audacious neon madness? You’d prefer a more supersensory, hands-on experience with Hibert’s kaleidoscopic, mind-bending creations?

You’re in luck, for over at Von Zos, you can purchase the Oliver Hibert Tarot deck. The release consists of a pack of 78 tarot cards designed by Oliver Hibert together with a book featuring an introductory essay by Oliver Hibert and a substantial essay by the British writer and lecturer Caroline Wise.

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See more of Oliver Hibert’s work on his website // tumblr // instagram

(This article was originally posted at Dirge; the site is no longer active.)

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Abandoned-LEGO-Victorian-Houses-by-Mike-Doyle-1Victorian Lego houses!

 

A timeline of influential and aesthetically beautiful horror movies from 1895 until 2016.

skellyCartoonist Katie Skelly On Creating The Erotic & Intimate Agent Series

13510760_10208911024520474_2864935256194117897_nA sneak peek of some of the pages for the next Occult Activity Book, with mad-libs inspired words by madman Jack Shear.

13521942_1220316641344833_6520443789216168133_n In love with the stick & poke tattoo art by Tati Compton

KS_Suspiria500If you’re in Southern California, you must go see “My Blood Runs Yellow: A Tribute to Giallos” at Sloane Fine Art Gallery

The Secret of Taste: Why We Like What We Like – Fascinating!
† I can’t wait to read this: Films of the New French Extremity
Short Film Roundup: Horror Edition
Magical Advice We Got From A Real Fitness Witch
New Book To Celebrate 35 Years of Elvira!
17 Female Ghosts & Demons in Japanese Folklore
Demonologica: Dressing in the Demons of Ben Templesmith
A fantastic Best of 2016 list from the inimitable Tenebrous Kate
A Conversation on the Occult Practices in the Arts

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20 Jun
2016

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Wormwood & Rue, a small pin and design company located in NYC, released their first series of pins today, Midsummer 2016. Inspired by the unceasing wonders of nature, mythology, folklore, this initial collection includes three enamel lapel pins: the magical mandrake root, the iconic fungi fly agaric, and the ghostly, intuitive barn owl.

Wormwood & Rue is the creative endeavor of Carisa Swenson, a lovely friend and the uncanny sculptress/stitchy mistress of GoblinFruit Studio (whom I have written about previously.) Carisa’s work strikes a balance between the odd and the endearing, the familiar and the fantastical, and these charming new creations have a similar quality: predatory night birds, hallucinogenic botanicals, and things that thrive in dark forests, rendered splendid and soft, with a folksy, charming storybook appeal. In gazing upon these small treasures,  I’m reminded of the illustrations that might accompany an obscure, vintage gem, a children’s book of mysterious folk tales and legends.

Per this marvelous artist, in her own words: “So many ideas and interests have coalesced within this new venture… small pieces of art that are relatively inexpensive, jewelry as personal amulets, a desire to apply my illustration skills to projects that are quick and fun. All the designs chosen for this first series contain my own personal interests: ornithology, mythology; the use of herbs, roots and mushrooms as medicine, poisons or pathways to other worlds. These pins have been incredibly helpful in freeing me from blocks I’ve been experiencing lately with my other work. If all goes well, I’d like to release 3-4 series of pins per year, released on the turn of the seasons, with limited run pins dropped in between each solstice or equinox. Creature from folklore and myth and endangered species designs are already being planned.”

I, for one, cannot wait to see what marvels Carisa conjures for us next! In the interim, click on each of the image below to be whisked away to her shop!

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What is a Witch

Dazed, as if waking from a trance, I closed my copy of What Is A Witch and allowed it to rest gently on my lap. I slowly exhaled and noted that the sun had gone down, my small reading room now awash in shadows. So enrapt was I that the afternoon had slipped into evening without my notice. Time had stilled, as it does oftentimes for readers engrossed in wondrous wor(l)ds, and I had been suspended in a moment between breaths. All had gone silent, solitary, and strange.

I roused and stretched, shook out my limbs, thrilled in the memory of the magics I had glimpsed in those pages and the subtle but unmistakable shift inside from absorbing all that I had read. And I despaired.
“How,” I asked myself, “how on earth am I going to talk to people about this?  How am I going to write of the enchantment and wonder that I have just experienced?”

I worried, fretting that I would not find the words, I would not know where to begin looking, and even if I did string a few coherent sentences together, I came to the conclusion that these words will be inadequate; they won’t convey the magic, mystery, mischief, and bright, silver-tipped revelations contained within this book. They might likely mean nothing to anyone at all.

What Is A Witch is an extraordinary elucidation, an imaginative exploration, and an incandescent creation that one must experience firsthand, for one’s self. An individual must hold this book in their own hands, study the images by candlelight, trace their fingers along the words, speak aloud the lines in a darkened room.

But I’m afraid I’m getting ahead of myself.

What is a Witch

What Is A Witch is the collaborative conjuring of Pam Grossman, a writer, curator, and teacher of magical practice and history, and Tin Can Forest–Pat Shewchuk and Marek Colek, Canadian artists based in Toronto, Ontario, and it is a lovingly-crafted celebration of the world’s most magical icon:

CONJURE AN IMAGE OF A WITCH IN YOUR MIND’S EYE, AND YOU’LL FIND S/HE CAN TAKE MANY DIFFERENT SHAPES.  EVIL, BEAUTIFUL, HIDEOUS, HOLY, A SINNER WHO JUST MIGHT SAVE US ALL – THIS MULTIFACETED ARCHETYPE IS A DARK LAYER-CAKE OF LEGENDS AND ASSOCIATIONS.

Equal parts storybook, grimoire, comic book, and illuminated manuscript, What Is A Witch explores the many guises and archetypes of the witch–that ultimate icon of feminine power.

Illustrated in Tin Can Forest’s distinctive style, drawing inspiration from the forests of Canada, Slavic art, and occult folklore, the mood is one of fantastical half-lit glooms populated by witches and their surreal familiars, as well as their uncanny sistren who guide us along and narrate our journey. Each page is a multi-layered marvel, interwoven with secretive symbolism, esoteric emblems, and magical motifs.

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“I know that you have heard of my kind,” a grey owl sagely informs as we begin to read. Trompe-l’œil, night-cloaked witches roam solemnly through the trees, entering a darkened home.

“They call us witches,” we learn next, via a pointy witch hat-crowned speech bubble, formed from the lips of a female silhouette whose shadow is cast by every woman you’ve ever known.”….bitches, hags and whores. Harpies, vixens, sluts and more”.

“THEY TRY TO BURN ME, DROWN ME, WEIGH ME DOWN. STAKE ME, BREAK ME, TAKE MY CROWN.”

What Is A Witch‘s lyrical language of night-song and half-rhymes, when given voice, becomes a wild, witty, wondrous invocation, threaded throughout with fanciful visions, whimsical allegory, and magical truths. Calling upon the the wisdom of roots, the romance of plants, the four elements, the five senses, all of those iconic witch-women who came before–who wielded a wand, a brush, a pen, or word–and who paved the path for us that we now tread, these words, once uttered, will transport you, transform you.

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“The archetype of the witch is long overdue for celebration,” Grossman noted in 2013. “Daughters, mothers, queens, virgins, wives, et al. derive meaning from their relation to another person. Witches, on the other hand, have power on their own terms.” She has also observed that, while the witch draws power from nature, her power comes mainly from within, not from an outside source, and that is precisely how I felt while reading this book. I engaged with its mesmerizing imagery and the poetic spell it cast, and immediately it awoke something within me. I felt it rise within myself, something fierce and surprising and nearly frightening in its power. Though the book may have been catalyst, I know that what it called forth was always there, and is mine alone.

Don’t be alarmed if you are moved to strangeness in the reading of What Is A Witch. I found myself furiously scribbling, illegibly filling the margins of a tangle of neon pink post-its without even realizing it. I thought that I was making notes for myself but in reading them now they are most certainly not of my hand–not that I recognize, anyway–and I am not sure that I could tell you what any of it means. They’re my secrets, I think.  And I will hang onto them for now, hold them dear.

If you feel yourself similarly compelled, don’t fight it. Go where this book takes you. See what you draw forth from yourself. Don’t be alarmed. Let it change you. This is magic, after all, and we are witches.
You knew all of this once. You have always known. You will remember what you have forgotten, these dark trembling parts of you, and the torch in your core. You will believe what you read in What Is A Witch, and in believing, you will become.

(This article was originally posted at Dirge; the site is no longer active.)

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(Originally posted in 2011 over at After Dark In The Playing Fields)

Perhaps a month or so ago whilst puttering around on the internet late at night, a memory, unbidden, came to mind. A book I had read when I was younger.  Though I could not recall much of the plot (except that it was a riveting combination of almost-unacceptably-unbelievable and strangely compelling),  or the story details, or even the names of the characters – the cover, and the title were for some reason burned indelibly into my brain.

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On a whim, I thought I might poke around to see if what, if anything, other readers had to say about The Manitou, and it was then that I stumbled onto Will Errickson’s Too Much Horror Fiction blog.  Will’s sharp, smart, and endlessly amusing synopsis of the story and review of the book compelled me to dig deeper into his site, and in doing so I came across many strange, moldering titles that I had not thought of or seen in years…some I barely remembered and some which were so bizarre that I actually thought I  had dreamed them up. Before I knew it several hours had passed and it was 2:00 AM in the morning; I was exhausted but full of a sort of demented exultation –   I think it is safe to say that I have never in my life been excited to stumble across a corner of the internet as I was when I discovered Will’s blog, which is dedicated to “reviewing and collecting horror literature and celebrating its resplendent paperback cover art”.

Will graciously agreed to do a bit of a Q&A with us over at After Dark in the Playing Fields; read on for, among other things, his thoughts on terror in the formative years, his picks for a compellingly horrifying read and a top ten list of his favourite deranged horror fiction book covers!

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Mlleghoul: To quote you, paraphrasing Poe and Lovecraft: “Horror… is that singular frisson of terror itself”. Can you hearken back to the time when you first experienced that dread feeling and share with us the details surrounding that, and the myriad ways it has manifested in your life up to this point?

Will Errickson: I’ve tried before to nail down early moments of fear and horror from when I was a kid, and I just can’t. All I can really say is that growing up in the 1970s and early ‘80s there was no lack of spooky stuff on TV that you couldn’t avoid, whether it was IN SEARCH OF… or a commercial for movies like SILENT SCREAM, THE PROPHECY, THE SHINING and ALIEN. I remember finding a horror movie magazine that a teenage relative had that completely freaked me out; I couldn’t even look at the cover. Christopher Lee’s Dracula was pretty impressively scary at that age. Of course JAWS was inescapable, but once I actually *saw* the movie when I was 8 or 9 I became obsessed with it. Can’t quite remember how I began reading horror, because those trashy old paperbacks with skulls on the covers unsettled me. Think I just picked up one of my mom’s Stephen King novels when I was about 13 or so. So ever since I was a kid I’ve been into horror as well as the people who create it.

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Back to the above referenced paraphrasing – what are some of your favourite books or stories that evoke such a feeling for you?  I believe I culled the quote from your post on The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy, so I imagine that might be one of them?

Several of Ellroy’s novels have been disturbing, not just BLACK DAHLIA but also L.A. CONFIDENTIAL–the parts that *didn’t* make it into the movie version. Books such as DRACULA and THE AMITYVILLE HORROR were perhaps the first scary things I read; later Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror” and various stories/novels by King (especially “The Mist”) and Peter Straub. SONG OF KALI by Dan Simmons, THE CIPHER by Kathe Koja, FINISHING TOUCHES by Thomas Tessier, THE SEARCH FOR JOSEPH TULLY by William Hallahan. I read tons and tons of short stories in different anthologies as a teen and in my early ’20s; some of my favorites from that era are “Night They Missed the Horror Show” by Joe Lansdale; “His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood” and “Calcutta, Lord of Nerves” by Poppy Z. Brite; “Dread” by Clive Barker; “Old Man and the Dead” by Mort Castle; “Sticks” by Karl Edward Wagner; “Orange is for Anguish, Blue for Insanity” by David Morrell; “The Answer Tree” by Steven Boyett; various Shirley Jackson and Thomas Ligotti tales. It’s difficult to pin some down. Rereading them now is cool because many hold up and are still effective. I’m slowly making my way through the two-volume Library of America’s AMERICAN FANTASTIC TALES… Short stories really show the horror genre in its best light. There are great novels, of course, but short stories… yeah. I’m sure I’m forgetting some right now.

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In this vein, what is your general criteria for a satisfying read?  Can you give some examples of the books which might fit this criteria?  And this may be a silly question, but how much does the cover art play into this for you?

Pacing is probably the single most important aspect. Atmosphere is great too. I don’t need great writing but it does have to be good. A lot of ’70s horror novels, and even going back further, had a real professionalism about them; you knew you were in the hands of masters. But by the ’80s more horror glutted the shelves so many, many books were very poorly written and edited and conceived. You can forgive a lot if the author is sure of himself, which is the case with Graham Masterton’s THE MANITOU. It was rather ridiculous but his conviction carried it. THE AUCTIONEER by Joan Samson is a wonderful example of strong writing and story, as are Michael McDowell’s works. You can’t ever go wrong with Shirley Jackson. I loved THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR by Anne Rivers Siddons. Fritz Leiber’s OUR LADY OF DARKNESS was excellent as well. ALL HEADS TURN AS THE HUNT GOES BY by John Farris. THE RATS by James Herbert. As for supernatural violence and the like, I like a quiet chiller as much as a gory thriller. Joe Lansdale’s THE NIGHTRUNNERS blew me away back in the day but I haven’t read it since. As for cover art, it doesn’t play into my interest in reading a book; I’ve gotten past that these days and if the books has a truly terrible cover, I try to imagine I’m reading it in manuscript form! So yes, I guess cover art can color your imagination as you read.

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You reference John Farris’ Son of the Endless Night as a quintessential 80’s horror novel, with its “blurb from Stephen King and a review quote comparing it to The Exorcist, and its artwork of both a scary-looking young girl as well as a black-winged demon” –I’d be interested in hearing more about this idea of a quintessential 80’s   horror novel.  Also, do you feel there are elements of the story itself that make it a prime example of the decade’s horror offerings?  So…what would be a quintessential 90’s horror novel?  70’s?  60’s?  Ok, I’ll stop there.

1980s horror to me is big and badass, influenced by more graphic horror movies. Huge set pieces of bizarre horror carnage, lots of characters, a go-for-broke attitude. Another cool ’80s novel is THE SCREAM by Skipp and Spector: big, bold, vivid, outrageous, energetic. A bit dated in a fun way. Let’s see… for the ’60s I’d say ROSEMARY’S BABY by Ira Levin: ironic, cool, blackly comic, lightly satirizing modern mores. The ’70s quintessential horror would probably be ’SALEM’S LOT, but I think an argument could be made for HARVEST HOME or THE OTHER by Thomas Tryon. Quieter and more reserved than King, but still creepy; a mainstream bestseller kind of vibe before the paperback horror boom of the ’80s fractioned off the audience. For the ’90s, that’s tougher, because I stopped reading contemporary horror in about 1993 or ’94. Kathe Koja’s THE CIPHER turned horror around by taking the focus off “regular folks” as it’d been in the ’80s and made it about artists, slackers, young people on the fringes of society. What can I say, I identified!

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For as long as you’ve been running your blog, what would you say are the top 10 most ridiculous/absurd/batshit insane horror novel covers you’ve featured? 

NIGHTSCAPE by Stephen George

ROCKABYE BABY by Stephen Gresham

SANDMAN by William W. Johnstone

DEW CLAWS by Stephen Gresham

SEE NO EVIL by Patricia Wllace

DEAD TO THE WORLD by J.N. Williamson

TRICYCLE by Russell Rhodes

LURKING FEAR & OTHERS by Lovecraft

WAIT AND SEE by Ruby Jean Jensen

RESURRECTION DREAMS by Richard Laymon

But there are still many, many more out there! I will always be on the lookout to feature them on my blog…

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What is your opinion of “pulp” and what purpose it serves–what can we learn from it about our culture that isn’t a part of canonical literature? “Pulp” novels are considered low-end and sort of disdained, but obviously they are popular to read.  What about the lurid themes found in them resonates with the reader? 

When it comes to the worth of any kind of pulp or genre fiction and its status, I like to turn it around and posit that lots of literature, the high-end, culturally-sanctioned stuff, isn’t nearly as profound or insightful as some people like to think it is. There is just as much cliche, lack of imagination, and poor–as in pretentious–writing in that kind of fiction as in pulp or genre fiction. Writers who began in the pulp fields are now considered major American authors, crime writers like Raymond Chandler as well as a horror writer like H.P. Lovecraft. Horror fiction deals with the same themes as any other kind of fiction: families, history, love, sex, death, violence, grief, guilt, etc. Sure, a horror novel might accentuate the less savory aspects of these themes, but I’d say a classic writer like Dostoevsky, for instance, is also exploiting them as well. I *think* that literary critics these days are little more amenable to that idea, anyway.

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Finally – The Nursery, by David Lippincott (a cult favourite here at After Dark in the Playing Fields) – any opinions?*

I’m unfamiliar with that title but the cover art is awesome! Added to my to-be-read list.

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A heartfelt thanks to Will Errickson for taking the time to answer our questions and share his thoughts!

 

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