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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Witch Series, Camille Chew

The new-to-me art of Camille Chew; a fanciful take on modern witches

 

A poster for Häxen. (Image: Cornell University Library)
A poster for Häxen. (Image: Cornell University Library,

Take a Peek at the World’s Greatest Witchcraft Movie Poster Collection

 


I’m absolutely enthralled with this beautiful, grotesque trailer.
Are you as excited for Tale of Tales as I am?

Forces that we cannot contain: The cosmic horror of the nuclear age

Why The Fly is possibly the very best body-horror film ever made

This Perfume Smells Like the Apocalypse: artists capture the heady scent of the end times

10 of the most disturbing folk songs in history

The H Word: The Monstrous Intimacy of Poetry in Horror

Is the Hum, a mysterious noise heard around the world, science or mass delusion?

Sorcery and Sex Appeal: Kristen Korvette Discusses Slutist’s Legacy of the Witch Festival

Anohni Finds Hope in Hopelessness: The iconoclastic artist on her politically-minded new album

The Gnostic World of Antti-Jussi Annila’s Sauna

The Dark Tales of the World’s Most Epic Sleep Talker

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Art by Noah Scalin
Art by Noah Scalin

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.

Previous installments:
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

Dearly beloved, with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of Prince…

💀 No Doves Cry Here: Prince Retrospetive

💀 A Look Back At Prince’s Unfiltered And Unapologetic Style

💀 His Music Does The Talking’: Manager Owen Husney On Prince’s Legacy

…and elsewhere

💀 Graveyard Botany: Patricia Lundy writes on haunting flora which festoon final resting places.
💀 Speaking with the Dead: Life and Learning in a Cadaver Lab by Madeleine LeDespencer
💀 A list of valuable Grief Reads, via Modern Loss
💀 Literal Heartbreak: A Spouse’s death can make your heart skip a beat
💀 Six Feet Over helps people who’ve lost loved ones to suicide through funerals & more
💀 The Complicated Wallpapers of Grief: A review of the film Midnight Swim
💀 Pain Is Not Redeemed by Art: Grief, Loss and Creative Practice
💀 Beverly Hills of the Dead: Luxury Tombs complete with Kitchens & Air Conditioning
💀 Most Distinctive Obituary Euphemism for ‘Died’ in Each State
💀 5 things you can do to join the Death Positivity movement and value life more

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car

This has been a strange month.

A few weekends ago, on a trip up to North Florida on a rainy Saturday morning, we ended up on the side of the highway, sinking into a ditch.  A massive white pickup truck (I have dreamed about this truck multiple times since then, and I always see it when I close my eyes now) began to merge into our middle lane without looking or realizing we were there. In avoiding a collision with him, we shifted back to an empty lane on the right, but began to hydroplane on the wet roads. At that point, I closed my eyes and began to brace myself for impact.  I don’t know exactly what happened after that, but we were basically all over the road–facing oncoming traffic at one point–and seconds later we ran into a small copse of trees and a swampy ditch in the median between the north and southbound traffic.

I remember looking at the branches scraping at the windshield, noticing our miraculously unspilled coffees and thinking How are we even still alive?

In some parallel universe where my partner keeps a less cool head, this situation could have ended quite differently. The alternate reality us may have ceased to exist that day.
I  don’t care to dwell on that overmuch.

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Giles by Goblinfruit Studio
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Alholomesse by Robert Kraiza

My art gallery is ever expanding.  I could lie and tell you that I purchased these things as balm for my fractured soul after the above-mentioned incident, but the truth is that I ordered these things before that. I have long admired Carisa Swenson of Goblinfruit Studio’s works–her curious creatures and aberrant animals have been delighting me for years!  I decided it was the right time to provide a home for one of them, and so in the top photo we have Giles in his jaunty blue waistcoat keeping company with other various treasures

In the second photo is Alholomesse by Robert Kraiza. I consider myself a person of hushed passions, silent desires, but I’ll admit, gazing upon these wildly ecstatic women whips me into a bit of a maelstrom. I am so thrilled to have these witches dancing on my walls! Well, eventually. We all know how long it will take for this to happen.

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It’s summer wardrobe time!  And summer wardrobes, as we all know, consist of interesting, dark-themed tee shirts. Right?  Well, that’s what mine consist of, anyhow. Much….like the rest of the year, I guess. Hm.

Black Sunday shirt $19 // Cat Coven Feminism shirt $25 // Vampirella shirt $23

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Reading:

The very excellent Sabbat Magazine’s Maiden Issue, which is full of magics from some of my favorite artists, writers and visionaries. A++ 5 stars would be ensorcelled again.

X’s For Eyes by Laird Barron. This took a chapter or two to catch my attention, but I’m glad that I stuck with it, because X’s For Eyes is a lot of fun.  I am about two-thirds of the way through (it’s only about 100 pages or so) and it’s like…a pulp-cosmic-noir adventure with Hank and Dean Venture except less incompetent and more demented.

Giant Days Vol 2. I’ll just come out and say that I will always support anything John Allison has a hand in. His webcomic Bad Machinery (formerly Scary Go Round and Bobbins) is the only webcomic I still read…and it’s the one that I actually started reading many years ago that got me into webcomics in the first place.  I even got to interview him once! That was a total dream come true. And once he mentioned my polyvore stuff on his blog, or in the comments of his blog, as inspiration for some of his character’s fashions! Which…that makes me sound totally stalkery, so we’ll move on. Anyway, Giant Days is also a lot of fun, following Esther, Susan, and Daisy through weird, slice-of-life college life adventures.

The Beauty: I haven’t actually started this one yet, but doesn’t this sound intriguing? “Modern society is obsessed with outward beauty. What if there was a way to guarantee you could become more and more beautiful every day? What if it was a sexually transmitted disease? In the world of The Beauty, physical perfection is only one sexual encounter away.”

Listening to Mamiffer’s The World Unseen. I’ve loved this experimental duo since discovering them quite by accident back in 2010 or so. This new effort flickers with loss and light and is described as an “exploration of subconscious and psychic bonds between the past and present” and an “eight-song aural lexicon that vacillates between Arvo Pärt’s delicate minimalist beauty, Thomas Köner’s narcotic pulses of noise, and Richard Pinhas’ sublime textural patterns.”

Watching: The Fly and Angel Heart.  Can you believe I had never seen either one of those movies?  I enjoyed them both immensely.  That was obviously the role Jeff Goldblum was born to play and it was nice to see Mickey Rourke looking like a dream boat before his face became the unfortunate plate of wet cat food that it is now.  (Sorry, Mickey Rourke).

Doing: Saw a live taping of NPR’s Ask Me Another, attended a They Might Be Giant’s show, gardening, and knitting all of the things that gave me trouble last year.

What about you all?  What have you been up to lately? Seen anything fun? Reading anything interesting?  Had any near-death experiences?  Fill me in!

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Adam Burke of NightJar illustration has created some of the most fantastical album covers for the occult-themed, psychedelic hard rock/heavy metal music you need to be listening to right now, such as those found in Devil’s Daughters/Women In Occult Rock Parts One and Two.

With dark, classic imagery that hearkens back to some of your favorite science-fantasy Heavy Metal Magazine art, or the pulpy, cosmic horror-tinged style of a particularly lurid used bookstore H.P. Lovecraft paperback — you know, the one with the eyeball we all have on our shelf — Burke’s art feels both deceptively familiar and fabulously strange.

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Although raised in a restrictive religious environment where this type of subject matter was off-limits, Burke speaks of a childhood-and-beyond love for the excitement and visceral energy of those 20th century fantasy illustrations, and taps into that sense of passion and intensity for the custom, commissioned works he produces for musicians and bands. Burke, who acknowledges that this older fantasy-style art is oftentimes relegated to the realm of schlock and kitsch, admits that while he brings his own tongue-in-cheek approach to his creations, he also attempts to give them a sense of beauty, grace, and mystery.

“…FANTASY AND DARK SUBJECT MATTER,” BURKE REMARKS, “CAN ACCESS OUR DEEP FEARS AND MOTIVATIONS, AS WELL AS PRESENT A SENSE OF MYSTERY OR UNKNOWN IN A WORLD WHERE THE UNKNOWN SEEMS TO BE EVER-SHRINKING.”

Valley of the Snake (art for Ruby the Hatchet)
Valley of the Snake (art for Ruby the Hatchet)

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Adam Burke spent a great deal of time in the woods. As an adult he has come to find that is still where he prefers to be. A science nerd enthralled with plants, fungus, geology, and ecology, he believes that there is infinite inspiration in nature and natural processes.

This fascination with the myriad wonders of the natural world and the flora and fauna which inhabit within is expressed in the name of his website. According to Burke, Nightjars are birds in the genus Caprimulgus. They are beautiful, but seldom seen, mostly nocturnal birds that have gorgeous markings and a distinct flight pattern. His fascination is also glimpsed in his more personal works: dim-lit, moody landscapes of craggy cliffs and marshy bogs shrouded in mists, populated with woodland creatures and wanderers alike. All are seen through the vaporous veil of a haunting dream, perhaps an entirely different world, or another time.

Burke muses that this otherworldly quality stems from his tendency to be a daydreamer, and perhaps from a bit of a disconnect with the world of humans. Noting that, “I’m a humanist, and I think we’re capable of amazing things. I value my friends and family more than anything in life,” he then went on to say, “I think humankind’s presence in this world is increasingly destructive and meaningless. I use art as a form of escape; to create a place or feeling that I wish existed or where I wish I was.”

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Hagg Lake II (as seen in The Art of Darkness)

A musician himself, Burke reflects that as an adult, he started creating art again when he returned to playing music. After a period of time when his creativity was channeled into some more practical pursuits, his life began to fall apart in “some pretty major ways.” As a result, he found that his creativity, (his “art brain”), was much easier to access, and art and music became his comfort zone.

Red Witch
Red Witch

As to which medium he prefers–visual or sonic– he notes that while painting gives him the platform to explore his deepest interests and impulses, nothing compares to the thrill of playing music with people whom you love, to an audience who’s participating in that electrifying energy.

And so, Burke began playing music and making art for his band, Fellwoods. “I wanted to create nature-inspired fantasy pieces because we drew from ’60s/’70s psychedelic and heavy music, so I taught myself to paint,” Burke reveals. “Other bands saw the art I created for Fellwoods and started asking about commissioned work, so I just kept going with it. Now it’s my living.”

Ghosts of the Anthropocene I
Ghosts of the Anthropocene I

 

Strix Nebulosa

 

Pooka

 

Pilgrims

 

Lugburz

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LB-header

UK-based multidisciplinary artist and spooky doodler Lozzy Bones (Lauren Hellier) captures all manner of exquisitely deathly imagery in her stark, stylized monochromatic style. Taking inspiration from Victoriana, anatomical illustration, flora and fauna, and antique woodcuts, these illustrations–though morbid of subject matter and precise of blackened pen stroke–delight with a subtle, cheeky gallows humor.

"Tight-laced Liver"
“Tight-laced Liver”

A lover of the macabre with a penchant for the theatrical, Lozzy Bones has an infatuation with what she calls, “the aesthetic of older times when craftsmanship was valued and beauty was just a given.” If her works appear familiar to you, no doubt it is because you have peeped the design work she has created for many of Dirge’s favorite deathlings–among them the beautiful logo for Sarah Troop’s Death & The Maiden blog as well as the adorable fetal Cupid Skeleton for Carla Valentine’s Dead Meet site!

"Dead Dandy"
“Dead Dandy”

For more of this bloody talented lady’s wares, visit both her bigcartel shop, as well as her Instagram for the insanely beautiful brooches and jewelry she has created. Need to level up your creepy wardrobe? Maybe you would prefer to wear your anatomical heart specimen on your sleeve? Check out Lozzy Bones’ sinister swag over at Killstar for an eerie ensemble to keep company with the skeletons in your closet.

"Phossy Jaw"
“Phossy Jaw”

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

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