How I Spent August 2020

Just as the short-lived heat-wave of British summer has now faded into autumnal nippiness, my to-do list has segued from a solid block of Hugo/Splatterpunk award reviews into, well, something a bit more flexible. I’ve been taking the opportunity to get stuck into thee two non-fiction books I’ve got on the go – Monster Hunters, Dinosaur Lovers: Speculative Fiction in the Culture Wars and Thoughts and Fears: Essays on Horror and Culture – while working on a few smaller projects on the side.

There’s not a tremendous amount I can talk in detail about right now, but suffice to say that I’ve been keeping myself busy and I’m looking forward to seeing my projects develop over the remaining months of the year.

Articles of mine published elsewhere this month:

Article topics for September and beyond:


August 2020: A Month in Horror

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This was a month in which we saw the early blooming of a subgenre: the lockdown horror film. Host, released at the tail-end of last month, continued to receive a warm welcome, while a trailer for the upcoming Lockdown Hauntings piqued the interest of horror fans (Corona Zombies, on the other hand, seems already to have been forgotten). Given that horror filmmakers built a sizeable subgenre out of wobbly handheld cameras, we shouldn’t be surprised to see how well they’ve adapted to this era of social distancing and Zoom communication. Speaking of which, as I type, a whole batch of new releases is being screened at the 2020 virtual edition of the Glasgow FrightFest

Continuing a thread from last month, the horror world saw some more awards being handed out.

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The Unexplained Revisited: Kirlian Photography


The new topic introduced in issue 3 of The Unexplained was Kirlian photography. And, really, this was the ideal subject for the magazine. If you want an area of alleged paranormal phenomena that has inherent visual appeal, then you can’t do much better than those alluring photographs of mundane objects surrounded by coloured auras. It’s pitch-perfect for a magazine spread.

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Midnight Widows Progress Report: August 2020

It’s been a while since I posted any updates about the comic I’m writing, Midnight Widows. Progress has been slow, truth be told — but there has been progress. Issue 2 is pencilled, inked and about two-thirds coloured. Meanwhile, some substantial work has also been done on issue 3. As I type this, Delia Mihai — who painted the lovely cover to the first issue — is wrapping up a sequence as guest penciller. Meanwhile, back in issue 2, Jio Butler is carrying on with her colouring. And last but not least, our lead artist Marcela Hauptvogelova has dreamed up a new set of costuems for the Widows, which they will be wearing for a World War II sequence come the third issue.

While I can’t make any promises, it’s entirely possible that issue 2 will be finished by the end of this year. After that, who knows? I may well be launching a crowdfunding campaign for issue 4 some time next year.

Make no mistake: Edith, Kateryna and Gabriela aren’t going away any time soon. In the mean time, you can follow the official Midnight Widows Twitter account. If you still haven’t read issue 1 yet, then don’t forget that you can snag a PDF file in return for a donation to my Patreon or Ko-Fi.

The comic’s official synopsis is as follows…

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Werewolf Wednesday: Abbott and Costello


Wednesday’s here, so it’s time for another instalment of my weekly Killer Horror Critic series on the history of werewolf cinema. This week I’m looking at the time Abbott and Costello bumped into a gaggle of grotesques, including the Wolf Man…

Past instalments:

Killing Red Sonja

Having made my second post-pandemic trip to the local comic shop, I’ve finally bagged issues two and three of Killing Red Sonja – which, for those unaware, is a miniseries spinning off from Mark Russell’s current run on Red Sonja. The premise is that Sonja has killed an emperor – as sword and sorcery protagonists are wont to do – and in doing so left behind a twelve-year-old orphan, Prince Cyril. Now, with a few adult companions, Cyril has set off on a mission to avenge his dead father and kill Red Sonja.

The comic is a touch oddball for a Red Sonja offshoot, and not merely because Sonja herself is confined to short cameos in daydream scenes: as a casual flip through an issue will show, Killing Red Sonja is one of the most light-hearted renditions of the Hyborian Age to ever have Robert E. Howard’s name slapped on it.

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2020 Dragon Awards: The Last Gasp of the Would-Be Gatekeepers?


The ballot for the 2020 Dragon Awards was released earlier this month, and I’ve already posted my thoughts – namely, on the size of the overlap between them and last year’s Goodreads Choice Awards. For those unaware, the Dragons and the Goodreads Awards are both decided by public vote, with the latter getting considerably more participation. The increasing similarity between them suggests that the Dragons are receiving votes from a larger pool than in previous years – and, by extension, doing a better job of living up to their stated aim of representing the tastes of the broader SF/F fandom.

For those who want the Dragon Awards to award the most popular books in SF/F, this is a positive development. But there’s a group of people out there who are decidedly unhappy. A number of right-wing indie authors – you may recognise some of them from the Puppy campaigns that took place at the Hugo Awards a few years ago –are extremely displeased at the Dragons making a swing towards more popular books.

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House of Eddas: Thor vs the Forces of Evil in Journey Into Mystery #101

Welcome back to another post in the series that looks at old Thor comics from Marvel and sees how they stack up against the Norse myths that inspired them…

Journey Into Mystery issue 101 starts off with Thor in a bad mood, stomping through town as bystanders look on in awe (“Did you see that? His foot clipped a piece out of that lamppost as he passed by!”). After he expresses a complete lack of interest in the “puny, petty lives” of mortals, he smashes the front off some guy’s truck and cold-shoulders his fellow Avengers when they try to intervene.


The source of his ire? He’s still smarting about the end of the previous issue, when Odin doubled-down on forbidding his relationship with Jane Foster. Meanwhile, Odin and Loki watch from Asgard. “You have ordered him to forget her.. but still he broods! Is this not rank disobedience?” says the trickster. “Yes, Loki”, replies Odin. “It is! And by thunder, it shall be punished!” And so Odin halves Thor’s powers until he stops troubling himself with thoughts of Jane.

Continue reading “House of Eddas: Thor vs the Forces of Evil in Journey Into Mystery #101″