July 2022, A Month in Horror


Another month has been and gone. Another crop of horror offerings came with it: Jordan Peele’s latest satirical horror film, Nope, was released to a positive reception; Netflix’s Resident Evil TV series was released to a less positive reception. And once again, the horror community played host to some social media furores.

Stephen Jones, the British anthologist behind the long-running Mammoth Book of Best New Horror series, was at the centre of a controversy this month. The touchpoint was a Facebook post he made in which he complained about failing to make a convention panel and poked fun at a con staff member for having non-binary pronouns; this led to an argument with Guy Adams and much ridicule and criticism elsewhere on social media, all documented at File770.

This was far from the first incident of Jones behaving in a manner unbecoming of a gentleman. In late 2020 he was one of the few people to defend ChiZine, a publisher embroiled in a scandal over failure to pay its contributors. Jones’ most recent lapse prompted Jeff VanderMeer to come forward with an allegation of having been blacklisted by Jones over a forgotten birthday party.

Another controversy of July concerned Dark Hart Books, a newly-launched independent publisher run by Sadie Hartmann. The press was slated to put out Autumn Christian’s novella Our Violent Design, but faced a backlash over various comments that Christian had made in the past:

Screenshot of a three tweets by Autumn Christian. "There is no evidence that the serotonin theory of depression is actually true. Depression is aproblem of lifestyle, not chemicals." "It doesn't matter if the vaccine works or not. That was never the point. Nobody should be coerced to take any kind of medicine. All medicine has side effects and one should consent to the risk." "There is no difference between sex and gender."

Dark Hart Books responded first by declaring that it was “aware of statements” made about an author we recently signed” and subsequently announcing that it would not publish the book after all, having “mutually agreed to part ways” with Autumn Christian. The response to this turn of events was mixed.

Bidding farewell…

Manga artist Kazuki Takahashi was found dead on 6 July following what appears to have been a snorkelling accident; he was 60. He was the creator of the popular manga Yu-Gi-Oh, which later became attached to a card game; in its early instalments the series took inspiration from horror, its main character bearing a Hellraiser-esque puzzle box and placing wrongdoers into elaborate, sometimes fatal games. The subsequent incarnations incorporated various supernatural monsters via the card game.

The tragic passing of young author Elizabeth Victoria Aldrich was announced by her publisher Expat Press on 12 July. She received attention for her book Ruthless Little Things, which was published last year.

Comic author Alan Grant passed away on 20 July, aged 73. Known for his work on 2000 AD, Batman and Lobo, Grant also had a number of side-projects, including the animated horror film Dominator — Britain’s first full-length CGI feature. His work was characterised by heavy but tongue-in-cheek violence and a thick streak of social commentary.

Veteran actor David Warner passed away on 24 July, aged 80. His horror-adjacent roles included The Omen, Straw Dogs, Scream 2, Time After Time (as Jack the Ripper), Time Bandits (as one of cinema’s most splendidly affable Satans), Penny Dreadful (as Van Helsing), From Beyond the Grave, My Best Friend is a Vampire, The Company of Wolves, Waxwork and a 1984 TV version of Frankenstein (as the monster) amongst others.

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