In terms of creative output, I spent most of the month working on something that I still can’t talk about. Just this week I sent it off for approval, so fingers crossed (and I mean that in the “good luck” sense, not the “everything I just said was a filthy lie” sense). In other news: progress on the next issue of Midnight Widows, and the beginnings of a short story (the present draft of which contains a placeholder line saying “WEREWOLF SEX GOES HERE” so you know it’ll be good).
Articles of mine published elsewhere this month:
Article topics for July and beyond:
This month was not a happy one for the small-press horror community. On 10 June, author Janine Pipe announced that she was teaming up with Cynthia Pelayo on a book called Triple 9, which she described as “a Cop V Monster short horror story anthology”. Pelayo’s publisher Burial Day was set to put out the book. Less than 24 hours following this announcement, Pipe revealed that the project had been cancelled.
“It is with sadness I announce that this project is no longer going ahead”, she said. “Please make sure you all continue to support Cina in any way you can. I am crushed at what has happened.” The next day, Cina Pelayo published a blog post discussing the attacks that she had received, and which prompted her to cancel the anthology and end Burial Day; towards the end of the month she posted a further essay on related matters. Both posts are deeply personal pieces of writing on her part. I will offer no comment, merely encourage you to read her words which speak for themselves.
Continue reading “June 2021: A Month in Horror”
Elliott O’Donnell (1872-1965) was a writer who presented himself as something like a real-life version of the occult detectives found in Edwardian weird fiction. H published volumes of purportedly true supernatural encounters, not only describing the stories but providing his own theories as to the supernatural underpinnings. Across his oeuvre, he depicted a world haunted by many varieties of occult entity that he was nonetheless able to fit into a generally coherent theoretical framework.
How seriously any of this should be taken is a matter of debate, however. His habit of removing names and locations (and therefore corroborating details) from the accounts he relates does not inspire confidence; not, indeed, does the fact that these narratives – even when supposedly recorded word-for-word from the people who shared them with O’Donnell – share a remarkably similar writing style. Whatever we make of his claims to veracity, however, we can hardly deny that his prolific output has earned him a place in the history of supernatural literature.
In his 1912 book Werwolves [sic] O’Donnell expresses a belief in the literal existence of these beings beings and dismisses as “grotesque and ridiculous” the idea that lycanthropy can be anything other than supernatural in origin. He acknowledges the possibility of psychological lycanthropy amongst the “bloodthirsty and ignorant” people of West Africa, but cannot see how such a thing could ever affect the “kindly and intelligent” populations of Germany, France and Scandinavia. In an idiosyncratic touch, O’Donnell speculates that certain werewolves may actually be the ghosts of people who showed a specific set of traits in life:
Continue reading “Werewolf Wednesday: Elliott O’Donnell’s Luminous Lycanthrope (1912)”
My Hugo-season retrospective of Hugo Gernsback’s Science Wonder Stories continues with a look at issue 2 of the magazine in question. Ape-men! Crystal cities! Immortal jellyfish people! Death-ray warfare across Europe! It’s all here…
Midnight Widows has another review, this time courtesy of Comic Book News UK’s Benjamin Williams. Here’s Benjamin’s conclusion:
Overall, it’s an enjoyable series so far, as long as you don’t take it too seriously. And it’s vampires, the supernatural, the dead rising. Maybe it’s me, but I never take that seriously and it allows for more fun to be had. Issue two has a longer look at their past than the first issue which further adds depth to the three main characters whilst the end should lead nicely into the third issue. Definitely interested in seeing what else is to come from this series.
I can live with that. For more on Midnight Widows, and details on how to obtain the first two issues of the comic, take a look at the official page…
I’d hoped to have another Splatterpunk Award review posted today, but a few things got in the way and i wasn’t able to finis hit in time. This has been a busy week for me, but I’d like to reflect that it’s been the best sort of busy. Multiple exciting projects piling up, a meeting with a new friend, some paid gigs on the side, and some nice sunny weather to bask in when it’s time to kick back and relax. Yes, I’m having it pretty good for the time being, and I just want to savour it while it lasts.
Frederick Marryat’s “White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains” appears to have been influential in its time, and its lycanthropic temptress Christina has a number of clear descendants in werewolf fiction of the nineteenth century. One example of this can be found in Sir Gilbert Campbell’s “The White Wolf of Kostopchin”, published in his 1889 collection Wild and Weird: Tales of Imagination and Mystery.
The main character of this story is Paul Sergevitch, “a gentleman of means, and the most discontented man in Russian Poland”. Once noted for his extravagance and loose-living, Paul was forced to retreat into his estate of Kostopchin in Lithuania after killing the prime minister of an unspecified country in a duel. Here he sired two children, Alexis and Katrina, their mother dying three years after marriage.
Katrina desires that her father bring her squirrels form the forest, but Pauk’s servant Michal warns him that the woodlands are dangerous: “there are terrible tales told about them, of witches that dance in the moonlight, of strange, shadowy forms that are seen amongst the trunks of the tall pines, and of whispered vies that tempt the listeners to eternal perdition.” Michal recounts his own experience of encountering a pack of wolves there; he was able to ward most of them off with a crucifix, but the leader – a fearsome white she-wolf – continued to pursue him.
Paul dismisses Michal’s claims, but reconsiders his position when he finds the mutilated body of a local poacher in the forest. Days pass and more bodies turn up in similar condition: in each case the heart has been removed, and in each case a tuft of white fur is found nearby. Paul arranges for a band of men to beat thei way through the woods in search of the beast responsible; they find not a white wolf, however, but a beautiful woman with red hair, blue eyes, a green travelling cap and a mantle of white fur. Her hands are stained with blood, which she claims to have picked up after an encounter with the wolf.
Continue reading “Werewolf Wednesday: “The White Wolf of Kostopchin” by Sir Gilbert Campbell (1889)”
I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of superhero anthology specials. The genre just isn’t a particularly good fit for short stories: while there are some exceptions (Alan Moore’s Green Lantern shorts come to mind) squeezing a superhero story into a short length often just makes the underlying formula over-apparent. Put a bunch of short stories together into an anthology, and you risk coming up with a series of villains being effortlessly duffed-up with no stakes or drama.
So, I was a touch uncertain about picking up DC Pride; however, the premise of the anthology – a series of stories celebrating the company’s LGBT heroes, with big-names and comparative obscurities placed on equal footing – was intriguing. So, I took the plunge…
DC Pride kicks off with a story by James Tynion IV and Trung Le Nguyen starring arguably DC’s highest-profile LGBT character: Batwoman. The ambiguity-heavy narrative follows Batwoman as she reminisces about a girl who may have been called Beth and may have been called Alice; who may have died and may still be alive; who may have been her sister and may have been an imaginary friend. From here, we see something of Batwoman’s life story as her memories of the more conventionally-feminine Alice (the two girls having pretended to be each other’s reflections) served to remind her that she was not like other girls. Rounding things up is a supervillain fight against the Mad Hatter that tidies up all of the questions. A lesbian coming-of-age story, a twisted tale of childhood fantasy, a psychological drama and a solid Bat-book all squeezed into ten pages – not bad at all.
Continue reading “My Thoughts on DC Pride“
Suzy is an adolescent girl who lives in an abusive household. She is routinely molested by her mother, and while he elder bother Lim withstands the pressure to join in, he does little to help. Her dog Moses has long since been killed by her mother. Her friend Alice is kept locked up in the basement, Suzy’s only means of communicating with her being a ventilation shaft in her bedroom. To survive, Suzy falls back on her preferred form of escapism: True Crime magazine.
She is particularly captivated by a photograph showing the body of a blonde woman who was strangled with an appliance cord. “The photo left little to imagination and aroused an excitement in me”, she says; “something similar, I imagined, to a young boy seeing his first centrefold.” She stresses, however, that this comparison to pornography should not be taken too literally: “I didn’t get a sexual thrill from looking at her. There was nothing climactic or conclusive about my obsession with her corpse. It just felt good.” When she is abused by her mother, Suzy finds strength by imagining herself in the position of the cord-wielding murderer.
Finally, Suzy takes action. She smashes her mother’s head with a glass ashtray before persuading a reluctant Lim to finish the job using a cord – just like the man who killed the woman in the magazine. The two then burn down the house and head off on the road together. But heir journey never takes them far from murder and abuse: their mother was neither the last person to prey upon Suzy, not the last to die at the hands of the runaway siblings.
Continue reading “True Crime by Samantha Kolesnik (2021 Splatterpunk Awards)”
And so, another controversy has erupted about a beloved author being allegedly “cancelled” by the “woke”. And once again, the screaming headlines and waves of social media fist-shaking have obscured the facts of the case.
To start with, let’s look at some of the headlines relating to the controversy. Sky News declares “Enid Blyton blue plaque bio by English Heritage includes ‘racist and xenophobic’ criticism”. Metro goes with “Enid Blyton’s ‘racist’ views included in English Heritage’s blue plaque scheme”. iNews has “English Heritage updates blue plaque information for Enid Blyton to include links to racism”. LBC’s chosen headline is “Enid Blyton’s work labelled ‘racist and xenophobic’ in blue plaque rewrite”. I could go on, but you get the picture.
An observer reading those headlines would get the impression that English Heritage has re-written a blue plaque commemorating Enid Blyton to call her a racist. However, that’s not what happened.
What actually occurred is that an article about Enid Blyton on the English Heritage website has been expanded to discuss criticisms of her work, including accusations of racism. The expansion in question isn’t even all that new (a trip through Archive.org reveals that it was present at least as far back as August 2020) so why it’s only now getting news attention nearly a year later is unclear.
Now, let’s take a look at the two-paragraph section in the article that’s raised so much ire…
Continue reading “Enid Blyton, English Heritage and Manufactured Controversy”