Monday, December 29, 2014

First Look at WHAT ROUGH BEAST



Here's the first image from the illustrated White Noise Press book, WHAT ROUGH BEAST,  by James A. Moore and me, with the amazing artwork of Keith Minnion. For more info go here.

http://www.whitenoisepress.com/blog/


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Doctor Who: Finally, a Winner!

  If you've been a long time reader of Singular Points, then you know that I'm a huge fan of Doctor Who, in which case you may have noticed that I've had little to say about this season. While very much approving of actor Peter Capaldi as The Doctor, I've felt that most of the episodes haven't been too well written this season and that the writers have had trouble getting a handle of Capaldi's Doctor. Up until this weekend there hadn't been an episode I actually liked that much and a few I actively disliked. Thus, I didn't have high hopes for the 2014 Christmas episode, THE LAST CHRISTMAS.
   But fortunately I was wrong. THIS episode the Doctor actually seemed like the Doctor, using his brain to work out what was going on and actively working to solve the problem. The inclusion of Santa Claus in the story, which I figured would be just goofy, turned out to have a logical reason that actually furthered the plot, and added one of the nicest bits of Christmas spirit. "Just one more time, believe in Santa Claus."
   The menace, a creepy race of spidery creatures called 'dream crabs' were almost Lovecraftian, and in fact reminded me a great deal of Frank Belknap Long's 'The Space Eaters.'
   So yeah, THE LAST CHRISTMAS was a lot of fun. Maybe it will be a turning point and the series will impress me more in 2015. Who knows?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all of you a truly Marvelous Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Lost Level by Brian Keene


  
Long time readers of this blog know that I am a life-long fan of the writings of Edgar Rice Burroughs. My mother collected the Tarzan novels and comic books before I was born and so I pretty much grew up with Burroughs. Once I learned to read, I quickly moved from Tarzan to Barsoom, (Mars) Amtor, (Venus) and to Pellucidar, that amazing world at the center of our hollow Earth where dinosaurs still roam and the sun hangs eternally at noon.

   The thing that I perhaps loved most about ERB’s books was the sense of wonder they gave me. The lure of adventure in exotic worlds full of strange creatures and dangerous foes. I can tell you that sense of wonder is hard to come by these days, but not impossible. Brian Keene’s new novel, THE LOST LEVEL goes a long way towards capturing that feeling of headlong adventure on another world.

   It begins in true Burroughs fashion, with the protagonist, Aaron Pace, introducing himself and giving you a bit about his background. Pace is a student of the occult, which makes sense, because Brian Keene is an award winning author of horror novels and knows his way around a grimoire. Unlike most of ERB’s heroes, who stumble into their adventures, Pace is seeking a way to explore alternate dimensions, looking for a place termed The Labyrinth, which serves as a pathway between other dimensions. (And is part of much of Keene’s other fiction.)

   Pace finds what he was looking for and is able to enter other dimensions, but a moment of carelessness sends him to the fabled ‘Lost Level’, a dimension where the flotsam and jetsam of other realities wash up. Unfortunately, much like the Hotel California, you can check out any time you like from the Lost Level, but you can never leave.

   The Lost Level is a homage to more than Burroughs though. While it possesses the eternal noon of Pellucidar (for different reasons) it also owes something to Sid & Marty Croft’s 1970s television series, LAND OF THE LOST and the DC Comic WARLORD, originally written and illustrated by Mike Grell. (Both, favorites of mine.) There’s some Robert E. Howard in there as well. Thus, you have not only dinosaurs, but robots, snake men, and all sorts of strange creatures of Keene’s own creation.

   A big part of the appeal of this sort of tale is the ‘fish out of water’ nature of the hero, and Keene does a fine job of showing how someone thrust into this sort of adventure might flip out a bit before settling down to deeds of derring-do. In this, Aaron Pace is perhaps closer in spirit to Carson Napier than John Carter, but he’s certainly a capable hero.

   As he explores the Lost Level, Pace finds a staunch ally in the cat-man Bloop, and even finds his own Dejah Thoris or Dian the Beautiful in the lovely and capable Kasheena, a heroine who would have made Burroughs proud. Together they face the many dangers of the Lost Level.

   Now here’s the deal. Though I’ve explained all the similarities to various books and comics, this is still a Brian Keene book and fans of his other work will find much to enjoy. The Lost Level is a pastiche, but it’s not old fashioned and there is much humor and the occasional moment of horror or shock, just like in Keene’s other work.

   Now obviously I’m the target audience for The Lost Level. I grew up reading those same books and comics and watching the same TV shows as Brian Keene. But you don’t need all that background. If you enjoy a well written tale of high adventure, this book is for you. And the good news is, it’s the first in a trilogy. More adventure and wonder to come in The Lost Level. Highly recommended.

P.S. I enjoyed this book so much that even though I got an advance copy for review I've pre-ordered a copy of the paperback from Apex Publications. You can too.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Christmas Odyssey by Anne Perry

   Back in the late 1990s, I read my way through all of Anne Perry's mystery novels about policeman Thomas Pitt and his wife Charlotte, a woman from the upper class. All of these books take place in the later years of the Victorian Age. A second series, about detective William Monk, is set about twenty years earlier. For the most part the books were traditional whodunits, though they had a pretty hard edge, especially when it came to the details of the murders. These definitely were not 'cozy' mysteries.
   By the time 2003 rolled around, when Perry wrote her first short Christmas novel, A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY, I had wandered away from reading traditional mysteries. I noted the little books, usually about 200 pages and smaller in height and width than the average hardback, and figured I'd try one at some point. I'm still something of an anglophile and I enjoy historical fiction.
   I tried 2007's A CHRISTMAS PROMISE more or less on a whim and enjoyed it. I started another one (can't remember the title) but it didn't hold my attention, and I bought 2010's A CHRISTMAS ODYSSEY, stuck it on a shelf and forgot about it. When you have as many books as I do, that happens. Ran across it the other day when I was looking for something else and set it aside for Christmas reading. I decided today, a little more than a week away from Christmas, was the time to give it a shot. Really glad that I did. Made for a great afternoon of Holiday reading.
   This one is pretty dark for a Christmas book, I have to say. Elderly and ailing, the wealthy James Wentworth asks a favor of his old friend, Henry Rathbone. It seems that Wentworth's son Lucien has fallen in with bad company and has vanished into the dangerous warrens of London's West End, and Wentworth wants Rathbone to try and find the young man. Rathbone is a gentleman and has no knowledge of the streets and slums so he goes to the clinic where William Monk's wife, Hester tends to the needs of the poor. There he meets 'Squeaky' Robinson, a reformed Pimp who now works as the book keeper for the clinic. (The Christmas books tend to feature secondary characters from Perry's series as protagonists.)
   Robinson knows his way around the West End and he agrees to help Rathbone in his search. With Robinson as guide, Rathbone will descend into a sort of Dante's Inferno in the backstreets, alleys, and tunnels where every sexual taste can be found and danger and death lurk around every corner. The two men are aided in their search by an unlicensed doctor named Crow, and a 15 year old street urchin named Bessie.
   This book is definitely more suspense than mystery, though there are some very clever bits of misdirection. I didn't catch one of them which makes a long time mystery reader like me happy. Perry's knowledge of the time period is amazing and her descriptions of the time, place, and people are well drawn without being too detailed. You'll feel the cold in the air, heard the ringing of the horse's harnesses, and smell the noisome odors of the disreputable pubs and filthy alleys.
   There is, though, a good bit of Christmas spirit in the book, and you'll definitely get the feeling of a Dickens era Christmas. I thoroughly enjoyed A CHRISTMAS ODYSSEY and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a satisfying and suspenseful Christmas read.

Christmas Movies

Someone was asking me, the other day, what movies I like to watch at Christmas. Here are some favorites, old and new.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Bruce the Barbarian

I'm starting to suspect that my cat Bruce is reading my Conan books when I'm not home. I looked over and saw him sleeping with his paw on the hilt of my practice gladius. I like a cat who sleeps with his weapons at hand.

The Babadook

   Watched THE BABADOOK which is a darn creepy Australian horror movie about an apparently haunted children's book. I will warn folks that it's very slow in comparison to what we usually see in the US, but give it time as it needs to build slowly. This was a low budget film, and the special effects are intentionally low tech, but the 'in camera' feel gives it a reality that a lot of the recent CGI fests can't provide.
    The movie plays on childhood fears and upon the fears of parents as well. Not one to watch with the kiddies. 

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Acquisitions

Last night's acquisitions. Volume two of INVADERS complete collection. Even includes the mini series from years later and the issue of WHAT IF which featured the team. THANOS VS THE HULK written and drawn by Jim Freaking Starlin, kiddies. Latest issue of DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE with a couple of stories I haven't read. First issue of the new HELLBOY AND THE BPRD series, which takes us back to the early days of Hellboy's adventures. And while I was at it, I got HELLBOY: HOUSE OF THE LIVING DEAD, which leads into Mike Mignola's upcoming new FRANKENSTEIN series, and which has artwork by Richard Corben. I'm calling this a good night at the comic book store.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Happy Holidays with Bing and Frank

GET TV was airing HAPPY HOLIDAYS WITH BING AND FRANK last night. This 30 minute special episode of the Frank Sinatra show from 1957, was filmed in color, though it originally aired in black and white. The idea behind the show is simple enough. Frank has Bing over to his swinging bachelor pad and they sing a bunch of Christmas classics. The high point for me was the middle of the show, where the boys time travel to Victorian England and go wassailing with a bunch of Dickens era folks. I am not making this up. Got my Christmas season off to a good start. Thanks to my pal, Cliff for bringing this to my attention.


And hey, I found a link.


http://vimeo.com/82117908



Thursday, November 27, 2014

Acquisitions

   Some really nifty acquisitions yesterday. The Simon and Kirby book is a massive collection of comic book pages shot from the original art. Art not only be Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, but by others who worked in the Simon/Kirby studio. I didn't see EXPENDABLES 3 in the theater, but I liked the other two, so hopefully I'll like this one as well. And of course there's a lot of Conan and the second of two issues in the latest BALTIMORE mini series. This has become one of my favorite series from Dark Horse Comics.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Checking In


    Sorry the blog has been a little quiet lately. Between working on the new Griffin and Price novel, A HELL WITHIN, and various other writing projects, reading time has been pretty thin on the ground. Haven't really had time to dig into anything since finishing Stephen King's REVIVAL. Hoping to do a bit more reading over the Thanksgiving holidays.

 

   And speaking of Thanksgiving, because of some scheduling issues with some members of my extended family, we ended up doing the Family Thanksgiving get together over the weekend, so I've already got that behind me. Not sure what I'll be doing on Thanksgiving Day as of the moment.

   At my job we've got Thursday and Friday off and I've scheduled Wednesday off, so this is an inverted work week. Work two days and then have a five day weekend. I like the sound of it.

 

   So anyway, that's me. I'll try to get back here with something more entertaining soon.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Stephen King's REVIVAL

   Just now finished up Stephen King's new one, REVIVAL. It took a little work because it's a slow starter, well over a hundred pages in before anything supernatural occurs. But when the weird kicks in, it really kicks in. The book has an interesting dedication, mentioning many of the heavyweights of horror, from Mary Shelley to Lovecraft to Arthur Machen. And as I read, I could see what influences each writer had, with the three mentioned above being perhaps the strongest.
   What interested me though, Lovecraft fan that I am, was how King used and adapted HPL's material, twisting to fit his own strange pantheon of supernatural beings. Though much is being made of the 'Lovecraftian' elements in REVIVAL, this is, by no means. a mythos novel. It just dances along the edge. I started the book this morning after breakfast and finished it at dinner time, so that shows you that I enjoyed it.
   Anyway, I don't want to give away any details, so this is a no synopsis review. You should read REVIVAL yourself. Recommended.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Christmas Treasury Editions

For me, 1974 will always be the year of Marvel Comics. I've told the story before of how I received ten Marvel comic books for Christmas of 1973 from a favorite aunt. Up until then I only read DC comics. Somehow I just thought Marvels were inferior. However, since I had the things I decided I might as well read them. And I loved them. So 1974 was the year that I leaped headfirst into Marvel. I quickly made up for lost time and became a huge fan of the Fantastic Four, Captain America, The Avengers and especially Spiderman.
   So when Christmas rolled around again I was thrilled to see the over-sized Tabloid Marvel Christmas Edition on the stands and promptly snatched it up. My grandmother probably paid for it, now that I think of it. Anyway, there was another one the next year and I bought that one too. The third one, I never owned.
   Of the two DC Christmas tabloids, I only had the first and don't recall ever seeing the second. In any case, I lost the three Treasury Editions sometime when I moved, and just recently decided I'd like to have them back. And of course, why not get the two I'd never owned while I was at it. A little careful watching on Ebay and I found all three of the Marvels as a set for a measly $19.99. The two DCs set me back five and ten bucks respectively. The first DC seems to be very hard to come by in decent shape. I didn't care about mint condition, but I did want good copies.
   I won't be reading these until December, but I'm happy to have them.

Monday, November 10, 2014

One Last Adventure with Manly Wade Wellman

  The good news is, while I had thought there were only five Kardios sword & sorcery stories by Manly Wade Wellman, now I know that there are actually six. The final story, THE SLAUGHTER OF THE GODS, appeared in the 1986 collection HEROIC VISIONS II. So yes, one Kardios story left that I haven't read is good news.
   The bad news?
   Once I read it, there won't be ANY left. I'm saving if for a special occasion.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Kharrdiak Arrest

The newest Lord of the Rings Online class, The Beorning. This is Kharrdiak, probably my most Conan-ish avatar yet. And yes, he can shapeshift into a bear.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Cold In July

When people think of Noir films, they tend to imagine high contrast black and white photography and claustrophobic sets, but director Jim Mickle's adaptation of Joe Lansdale's novel COLD IN JULY shows that even out in the bright daylight and blue skies of Texas that things can get as dark as they possibly can be.
   Richard Dane, who runs a frame shop by day is awakened in the night when he and his wife hear an intruder in their house. Dane shoots the man as much by accident as intent and then calls the cops. The local police seem in a hurry to clear the case and get things out of the way, but it turns out that the intruder's father, Ben Russell, was a recently paroled convict and he takes his son's death personally. For a very short time it looks as if Russell is going to play Cape Fear type games with Dane and his wife and young son, but that's not the way it goes. After some suspenseful scenes, Russell is captured and that appears to be that.
   But here's where the Noir kicks in. Things are not at all what they seem and Dane is soon pulled into a web of deceit and death and a world that is Dark, dark, dark, This is where actor Michael C. Hall really shines, playing an everyman who finds himself in way over his head. Hall very believably shows a frightened man whose innate decency is what really gets him into trouble.
   Sam Shepard plays Ben Russell, world weary, beaten down, but with a core of battered iron. A man who does what he thinks he has to, even when it costs him. And Don Johnson brings some serious acting chops to the role of Jim Bob Luke, a private eye who's also a pig farmer. Johnson brings some humor and charm to a very dark film.
   I didn't immediately recognize Vinessa Shaw as Dane's wife Ann, even though, by coincidence, I had just watched her in HOCUS POCUS for Halloween.
   COLD IN JULY was actually the first thing I ever read by Joe Lansdale and that was when it came out in 1989. I remembered some of the plot, but not enough to keep me from enjoying some of the twists and turns the story takes. I really enjoyed the film. It's suspenseful, well written, and well directed and you can't beat the cast. I got my copy from Amazon and I'm sure they have more, so pick it up. Highly recommended.

Lovecrafty

   Picked up this set of Lovecraft books on Ebay for twenty bucks. I mostly wanted the Ballantine books. two of those are part of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series with notes and introductions by Lin Carter. I used to own the two annotated volumes but I loaned them out and they didn't come back so nice to get replacements. Never had the other two paperbacks, so yay, new editions.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Bad Influences

   The four books most often mentioned in Cthulhu Mythos fiction are NAMELESS CULTS, MYSTERIES OF THE WORM, THE BOOK OF EIBON and of course, that foulest of the foul, that most blasphemous book of all, the fabled NECRONOMICON. And it occurred to me today that I have them all in my own library.
   I would just like to state that proximity to said books has not affected me in any way. Well except for the vision of the three lobed burning eye and the messages from the ultimate center of chaos.  Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fhtgan!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fishing in the Shire

Just to show you that it's not all action and strife in Lord of the Rings Online, here's Briefer the Hobbit fishing while Kharrn the barbarian looks into the distance. A lovely day on the Brandywine river.

Halloween Season So Far


   One week until Halloween. How's everyone's spooky season going? Though to a certain degree, every day is Halloween at my house, during the season I do ramp things up. In addition to the movies I've already mentioned here, I've also watched the Universal MUMMY'S TOMB and MUMMY'S CURSE, as well as the Ray Milland ghost story, 1944's THE UNINVITED, and the 1980s films JOHN CARPENTER'S THE FOG and horror cult favorite, PUMPKINHEAD.

   This was my first viewing of PUMPKINHEAD, even though I'd been hearing about it for years. It is a lot of fun, though very much a 1980s film. One thing I really liked about it was the creature, which was created entirely through practical special effects. No CGI in those days. Don't get me wrong. I love a good computer generated effect, but I think horror works better when the bad guy is actually there with the actors. Pumpkinhead is basically a 15-ft animatronics puppet with a guy inside, but in several scenes where he's shown head to foot, he's very impressive and obviously really there.

   Also watched the entire first season of SLEEPY HOLLOW on Blu-Ray. I had started watching the show when if first came out and enjoyed it, but I got behind on the episodes and finally just decided to binge watch it when it was released on DVD and Blu-Ray. Unfortunately the makers of the show decided to wait and release the DVD ONE WEEK before the start of season two, and I didn't want to get ahead, so now I'm behind on season 2. See how these things happen?

   And I'm watching the 1970 season of DARK SHADOWS, which is kind of a twist on THE TURN OF THE SCREW, with male and female ghosts from the past threatening the folks at Collinwood. Kate Jackson, who would later become famous as one of Charlie's Angels, plays the female ghost Daphne, and does a good job. The storyline is rolling up on one of the show's 'time travel' storylines which are always fun. For its time, DARK SHADOWS was an amazingly experimental show, particularly for a day time drama. Not only did it feature a vampire as a major member of the cast, but it also explored such SF concepts as alternate realities and time travel, all on a budget of next to nothing. It's funny, because people make fun of the cheap sets and poor special effects, and they almost seem to think that viewers were more easily fooled in those days. It's not that. Watching TV in those days was kind of like watching a play. People knew they were looking at sets and painted backdrops, but they just accepted it as they would if they were watching a live play on a stage. They didn't expect everything to look real. A different time.

   Reading wise I've been doing my usual turn through horror short stories, comic books, and such. Also reading some great non-fiction. Just finished up S.T. Joshi's LOVECRAFT AND A WORLD IN TRANSITION, which is a fascinating collection of essays about Lovecraft. Highly recommended. Been enjoying the annotations in Leslie Klinger's THE NEW ANNOTATED H.P. LOVECRAFT as well. Been a banner year for Lovecraft scholars.

   So yeah, Halloween season is going well. Lots of fun movies, comics, and books. So what's the plan for Halloween itself? That's still in the works. I know there will be movies involved. Since I've done the scary stuff and the nostalgic stuff, I may have a scary/funny evening with HOCUS POCUS and ABBOT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN. We shall see.


PS. Saturday night I'm going on a tour of haunted houses, graveyards an such. I'll let you know how that turns out.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

JordanCon

I'm going to be a guest at next year's JordanCon in 2015. As you can tell from the name, this is a Fantasy Convention built around Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. The Con folks told me that they wanted to expand their programming to include horror and suspense tracks, so come next April I'll be there talking on panels, signing books and pretending I know what I'm talking about. More information to come.


http://www.jordancon.org/

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Return of Friday Night Frights

When I was a kid we had a TV show in Atlanta called Friday Night Frights. It was, as you would expect, a program that ran horror movies in the vein of Shock Theater. It originally had its own horror host, a fellow called Dead Earnest, but I don't really remember him. Anyway, one night the program showed a double feature of THE TIME MACHINE and KING KONG, neither being films that I could readily see in those pre-VCR/DVD days. In honor of those long ago times, tonight I will watch my own double feature of these two SF/Horror classics.

Lord of the Rings: Old School

Nice find at the Friends of the Library sale today. A boxed set of the The Lord of the Rings with the original Ballantine old school covers. This was the authorized edition that Ballantine rushed out to compete with the infamous ACE 'pirated' editions. The box was just a little scuffed but the paperbacks are almost perfect. I didn't own these editions so pretty nifty. The cost? Three dollars. A buck per book and no charge for the box.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Are You My Mummy?

   Watching a couple of the sequels to 1932's THE MUMMY, THE MUMMY'S HAND and THE MUMMY'S TOMB. Of the classic Universal Monsters, The Mummy probably fared the worst in terms of sequels. 1940's THE MUMMY'S HAND is very much a B Movie and looks more like a Movie Serial than a classic horror film. Still it's kind of fun to see Kharis the mummy stalking around and strangling people. These are the movies I remember watching as a kid, with the Tana Leaves and the sinister Egyptian Priests.
   A weird thing about actor George Zucco, who played the high priest in THE MUMMY'S HAND. For some reason Kenneth Anger, who wrote the book Hollywood Babylon, claimed that Zucco died in an insane asylum convinced that he was being hunted by H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu. In truth, Zucco died of pneumonia in an assisted living home. I've always wondered why Anger would come up with such an outre lie. Maybe one of his sources for the book fed him the story. But seriously, Cthulhu?

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Teenage Witch and Wytches

   Came in from work, watched an episode of Sleepy Hollow and read two new Horror comic books, CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA and WYTCHES. Both comics were excellent and now I have a nice Halloween buzz going. Wytches was probably the scarrier of the two but not by much. This new, realistic version of Sabrina has some good horror chops. It seems to be following a different continuity than the recent Sabrina issue of Afterlife With Archie, but perhaps it's just earlier in the history of the character. There are some nice in-jokes for long time readers of Archie Comics and the back up feature is a reprint of the original first ever Sabrina story from Archie's Madhouse #22 with gorgeous art by the late Dan Decarlo. The series is off to a great start.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The Cthulhu Mythos Circa 1972

   I started reading John D. Haefele's A LOOK BEHIND THE DERLETH MYTHOS and in the introduction he talked about Lin Carter's 1972 book, LOVECRAFT:A LOOK BEHIND THE CTHULHU MYTHOS which was obviously a big influence on the Derleth book. I read Carter's book a long time back, but it had been a while since I gave it a look, so I dug it out of storage and as i read it,  something caught my attention.
   In the back of the book Carter had a list of the known published Cthulhu Mythos stories up to that time. Everything by Lovecraft, August Deleth, Frank Belknap Long, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Henry Kuttner, Lin Carter, Ramsey Campbell, Brian Lumley, Robert Bloch, Colin Wilson, and several others.
The total? 119 stories.
   Think about that for a moment. The published Cthulhu mythos stories today would run into the thousands. But in 1972, just over a hundred. But one has to keep in mind that the whole Lovecraft phenomena was just gaining steam at that time. There hadn't been a full blown biography of Lovecraft yet and only three volumes of his letters had been published. Lovecraft fandom was still sort of a niche market and the comic books, video games, role playing games, etc weren't even a glimmer on the horizon. Pretty wild.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Wes Craven's New Nightmare

Got the Fright Flick Festival off to a good start with 1994's WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE. I remember seeing this when it originally came out and liking it, mostly because I've always had a soft spot for meta-fiction, a self referring text, and this is a movie within a movie about the fictional serial killer Freddy Krueger trying to cross over from his world into ours. Actors Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, and even John Saxon all play themselves. Director Wes Craven even gets in on the act, appearing as himself as he is forced by an 'ancient evil entity' to write a script bringing Freddy back from the dead.
   I liked the original Nightmare On Elmstreet, but each sequel that followed seemed to get sillier and less horrifying. When the series ended, I didn't even notice.  However Craven, apparently unhappy with the way things had gone, wanted to do one more Freddy film, returning the character to his more horrific beginnings. Less funny. More Scary.
   The movie does a pretty good job, though the writers felt compelled to create a 'story arc' for the 'character' of Heather, which pretty obviously wasn't the real life of actress Heather Langenkamp. Not the way I would have handled it.
   There are some scary scenes though and the sets and nightmare effects come off well, occasionally even manages to capture some of the feel of a real dream world. All and all a great way to get the festival up and running.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Acquisitions

   New Acquisitions! Gearing up for Halloween with the brand new Annotated H.P. Lovecraft and Wes Craven's New Nightmare, the meta-fictional Freddy movie. Also got the movie version of Joe Lansdale's 'Cold in July', which was the first book of Joe's I ever read.
   Got a massive dose of vintage Captain America reprints including Sal Buscema's great run on the series. These Marvel Essential Volumes are out of print now, so get 'em while you can. And finally the collection of Rich Buckler's DEATHLOK the Demolisher. Killer cyborgs as as you like them. All and all, a great haul.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Widowmakers: Available in Paperback!

The paperback of the Widowmakers benefit anthology is available now. This is my copy, which came in the mail today.  Over 700 pages of horror, dark suspense. and just plain hard hitting fiction, including a Carnacki the Ghostfinder story by me.

http://www.amazon.com/Widowmakers-Benefit-Anthology-Dark-Fiction/dp/1501013238/ref=tmm_pap_title_0


The Nightmare Before Elmstreet

From an idea suggested by Amber Benson. I just had to draw it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Better Job: A Wade Griffin Short Story


I wrote this because a local woman was assaulted and injured just as the woman in this story is. I read about it in the paper and came home and wrote this.


A Better Job





Wade Griffin had been prowling the woods around Silver Pine Trail every morning for the last week. The Wellman cops, who had stepped up patrols after the assault on Cindy Carver, had never seen Griffin. They also hadn't seen the man in camos and mask who was hiding in a clump of bushes about twenty feet from where Griffin was concealed.

According to the news, the as yet unidentified man had dragged Cindy into the woods around the walking trail and had beaten her so severely that he had broken most of the bones in her face. Griffin had seen the pictures. The attacker had obviously enjoyed himself. That meant it wouldn't be long before he came back. The cops knew that too, but they didn't have the man power to keep a constant watch on the trail. Griffin wasn't currently employed and he didn't mind getting up early.

Griffin heard someone coming along the trail and he turned his focus to the here and now. A woman appeared out of the morning fog. Petite. Bright running clothes. Blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail. Griffin saw camo slowly stand up and go into a crouch. He had obviously been watching the police patrols and knew they were a long way from his current position. His plan was probably to step out and hit the girl hard, stunning her or knocking her cold. Making sure she couldn't scream. Then he could drag her into the bushes and have his fun.

Griffin covered the distance between he and camo as silently as a ghost. He slid one arm around camo's neck from behind, grasped his own bicep on the other arm and leaned in so camo couldn't reach back and go for his eyes. Properly applied, the ju-jistu choke hold he used could render an opponent unconscious in less than four seconds. Griffin applied it properly.



The jogger was long gone by the time camo came to. The man sat up, rubbing his temples. Griffin knew that the choke hold, which cut off the supply of blood to the brain, would give the recipient a hell of a headache.

It took camo a few seconds to realize that his hood was gone. He looked over at Griffin who was now wearing a ski-mask. Camo said, “You can't prove nothing.”

“You're wrong,” Griffin said. “Cindy carver scratched you. She's got your DNA under her fingernails.”

Camo shook his head. “Bitch didn't get a chance to scratch me.”

Griffin smiled.

Realizing his mistake, camo said, “Nobody heard that but me and you. Don't mean anything.”

“That's true,” Griffin said. He removed a pair of leather gloves from the pocket of his jacket and began to pull them on.

“So you going to arrest me or what?” Camo said.

“I'm not the police,” said Griffin.

“Huh?”

“I'm not here to arrest you. Now stand up, please.”

Camo's eyes had gone wide. “Why do you want me to stand up?”

“I'm giving you a chance to fight back. It won't do you any good, but it's more than you did for Cindy Carver.”

Camo got to his feet slowly, his hand slipping to his pocket.

“Your knife's gone,” Griffin said. “I thought about letting you keep it, but that would be stupid and you could get lucky.”

'This ain't fair. You're bigger than me.”

“And you outweighed Cindy by a hundred pounds. I don't have that much on you.”

“So you've been waiting out here just to beat on me? That's crazy.”

“Probably. I'm done talking now, except for one last thing. You broke most of the bones in Cindy's face. I want you to know that I'm going to do a better job than that.”

“Jesus, man. Don't!” Camo started yelling. That was fine. The cops were a long way off and this wouldn't take long. Griffin had an appointment for later in the morning so he was glad things had gone his way. He shrugged his shoulders, blew out a long breath, and went to work.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Big Box O Burroughs!

Today's mail brought the BIG BOX OF BURROUGHS! Except for The Mucker, which is slightly dinged, the other copies appear to be unread. I needed some better copies of most of these and four of then, I didn't own. Bruce says they smell terrific.
   Keep in mind these books are from the 1970s. The Frank Frazetta covers are still bright and shiny after all these years. These covers absolutely scream ADVENTURE!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Acquisitions

   Stellar group of books purchased last night. S.T. Joshi's Collected Essays on Lovecraft, a new adaptation of Michael Moorcock's Elric, a collection of Sub-Mariner/Human Torch Comics by Roy Thomas and Rich Buckler, and the latest volume collecting Savage Sword of Conan. This one features Tim Truman's first art job on Conan, by the way, long before he started drawing and writing the character for dark Horse. See? I did get Conan into a post!

Widowmakers:An Anthology of Dark Fantasy


   The new anthology WIDOWMAKERS is live as of now for the Kindle, with a trade paperback on the way. Over 700 pages of Dark Fantasy with stories by folks like Bracken MacLeod, Elizabeth Massie, James A. Moore, Brian Keene, Jeff Strand, and even some guy named Rutledge.




Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Barbarian Movie That Wasn't

One of the odder items in my collection. The press book for a movie about Lin Carter's barbarian hero, Thongor. Had the movie been made it would have beaten Conan the Barbarian into theaters by three years. The book contains 20 illustrations that outline the plot of the entire film.

Oh Conan, Where Art Thou?


   I was reviewing my posts here this year and I noticed that in addition to the general drop off in posting from last year, that there's also been a scarcity of posts dealing with Robert E. Howard and his most famous creation, Conan the Cimmerian. If you check the previous few years of Singular Posts, Conan has been a fixture and there are, in fact, a couple of years where this is almost a REH themed blog.

   At the moment, Howard's colleague and pen pal, H.P. Lovecraft seems to have edged REH and Conan out. Not sure if that's because I've been spending so much time writing horror or what. I've definitely been reading more Lovecraft than Howard for the past six months.

   Anyway, I assure you that my enthusiasm for all things Conan and Sword & Sorcery hasn't waned. Just doesn't seem to be where my posting interest lies at the moment.

   As I mentioned in a couple of other posts, I think that my activity on Facebook and other social media has made the biggest difference in the frequency of my blog posts. Any time that I have a lot to say about something I blog about it, but the quick little snippets about stuff seem to end up on Facebook. I've yet to hit 100 blog posts for the year so far. Checking last year's stats, I averaged about 20 posts a month and now I average about 10.

   Anyway, I've no plans to stop blogging, but it is interesting how the changing face of the internet has affected things.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Last of the Albatwitches

This is my first time reading Brian Keene, though I've been aware of his work for some time. Not sure why I never got around to reading any of his books before, but I will certainly be making up for lost time. I've already ordered the other books in the series to which this one belongs, so that should tell you that this is going to be an extremely positive review.
   Albatwitches is the chronologically fourth book in Keenes' series featuring ex-Amish Occult Detective, Levi Stolzfus. The book is actually two novellas, "The Witching Tree' and the titular 'Last of the Albatwitches.'
   In 'The Witching Tree' Levi is called in when a lone tree in an old field apparently starts killing people. The local law enforcement is a little out of their depth and soon Levi finds that he could be in trouble himself.
   In 'Last of the Albatwitches' Levi runs up against an old local legend, something similar to Bigfoot, but smaller, and a lot less friendly. As he digs deeper though, he finds that there's more than meets the eye to what's going on.
   As I said, this was my first Brian Keene book and so my first meeting with Levi. He's a terrific character, with an original and complex background. He's no longer Amish but he still holds to many of his old ways. He's also a mage, a man who practices 'powwow' magic, and uses the book 'The Long Lost Friend' as his primary source of power. I first heard about The Long Lost Friend in the stories of Manly Wade Wellman, The book and the magic behind it figure in some of Wellman's John the Balladeer stories and in some of his other horror stories.
   Keene has gone farther then Wellman though, having Levi use the spells, charms, and protections from the book against all kinds of supernatural menaces. This is, of course, the original, unexpurgated version of the book. Not the one you can get online for your Kindle.
   Brian Keene is a sure hand when it comes to horror and these two novellas are darn scary. They're also fascinating and well written, really some of the best horror I've read this year. You don't have to read the books in order but if you want to, the first is 'Dark Hollow', followed by 'Ghost Walk', 'A Gathering of Crows' and then Albatwitches. Like I said, I've already ordered the others and plan to read a couple during Halloween. Highly recommended.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Charles Rutledge's Book of Horror Vol VI

It's the middle of September and there's just a hint of autumn in the air. That means it's time once again for my annual imaginary horror anthology. Inspired by the collection 'H.P. Lovecraft's Book of Horror' back in 2009, I decided to collect an unlucky 13 horror stories from my reading history and suggest then to folks who might be looking for some spooky reading material for the upcoming Halloween season. I always try and have the list up by the middle of September so that interested parties can track them down in time for All Hallows Eve. If you check the archive for Sept of 2009-2013 you'll find even more suggestions.
    This gets a little tougher every year because I've used up my absolute favorites, so the selections from favorite writers become more difficult. Luckily I continue to collect horror short stories, so there are always new (or new to me) stories and authors.  This year marks my first inclusion of stories by folks like Brian Lumley, William Meikle, and Gene Wolfe, and the return of old favorites Ramsey Campbell, H.P. Lovecraft, Karl Edward Wagner, Stephen King, and Manly Wade Wellman.
   Speaking of Wagner, this is the first time I've used a story about his hero-villain, Kane in one of my lists. I usually stick to Wagner's traditional horror yarns, but 'Undertow' is probably the most horrific of the Kane tales and I think it fits right in.
   I almost included Kealan Patrick Burke's story 'Offline', but at the last minute I replaced it with his 'Someone to Carve the Pumpkins' because of its creepy Halloween vibe.
   There's nary a whisper of the supernatural in Ed Gorman's story, 'Angie', but trust me, it's horror, and perhaps more so than some of the other because it's all too believable.
   I was a bit surprised at the sheer, out and out terror evident in William Hope Hodgson's 'A Tropical Horror' because I usually think of his horror stories as being more reserved. This one is a real shocker and would make a good movie, I think. Ditto Amelia B. Edwards' 'The Phantom Coach' which has an ending that's just plane gruesome.
   One of my favorite Ghost stories in quite some time is Chet Williamson's 'Jabbie Welsh'. Chet writes beautifully and here his horror chops really shine.
   William Meikle's 'The Keeper of the Gate' is a top notch Cthulhu Mythos story, as are most of the yarns in the collection 'Dark Rites of Cthulhu'. I highly recommend that anthology. It's often hard to find Mythos stories that manage to actually be scary these days and Dark Rites has more than its share.
   So there you have it. 13 horror tales for your Halloween reading pleasure. Hopefully you old hands will find something you missed, and for the horror newbies among you, I hope I can point the way to some new writers, even if some of them are of Victorian Vintage.




1. Manly Wade Wellman -Pithecanthropus Rejectus 
from The Mammoth Book of Frankenstein

2. Amelia B. Edwards  -The Phantom Coach
from The Phantom Coach

3. Karl Edward Wagner -Undertow
From Night Winds

4. Chet Williamson -Jabbie Welsh
From Figures in Rain

5. Brian Lumley -The Fairground Horror
From The Taint and Other Novellas

6. William Hope Hodgson -A Tropical Horror
From The Centipede Press Library of Weird Fiction

7. Gene Wolfe-Lord of the Land
From Cthulhu 2000

8. H.P. Lovecraft-The Shunned House
From The Best of H.P. Lovecraft

9. William Meikle-The Keeper of the Gate
From Dark Rites of Cthulhu

10. Kealan Patrick Burke-Someone to Carve the Pumpkins
From Dead Leaves

11. Ed Gorman-Angie
From Scream Queen and other Tales of Menace

12. Stephen King-The Monkey
From Skeleton Crew

13. Ramsey Campbell-The Show Goes On
From DAW Year's Best Horror Vol XI



Saturday, September 06, 2014

What would I buy H.P. Lovecraft for breakfast at Waffle House?

 Went out to breakfast at Waffle House this morning. I took along volume II of S.T. Joshi's biography of H.P. Lovecraft, I AM PROVIDENCE because I'm doing some research. Sitting there, listening to what passes for Country Music these days, I suddenly wondered what Lovecraft would have ordered if he'd been with me. Reportedly his usual breakfast was donuts and cheese, and he had a notorious sweet tooth, so I figure he'd have been good with a waffle and maybe some eggs with cheese in them. Yes, there are the sorts of things writers think about at 7:00 on a Saturday morning. What would I buy H.P. Lovecraft for breakfast at Waffle House?

Friday, September 05, 2014

Night Gaunts

With apologies to Edward Hopper's Nighhawks. H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and Robert E. Howard out for a late bite.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Eldritch League Final Cover

My first and probably last 'sketch cover' drawn for a contest to create a new alternate reality DC Universe. personally I liked the sketch I put up earlier, but this looks pretty cool with the logo and I only had the one shot at drawing on the blank cover.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Congregations of the Dead Trade Paperback and Kindle Book

Congregations of the Dead, by James A. Moore and me, is officially available at Amazon as both a Kindle book and a trade paperback. Griffin and Price fight vampires in the North Georgia Mountains. Here are the links:

Kindle

http://www.amazon.com/Congregations-Dead-Griffin-Price-Novel-ebook/dp/B00N00B3TY/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409093467&sr=1-2


Paperback

http://www.amazon.com/Congregations-Of-The-Dead-Griffin/dp/0692273131/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_img_1

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Eldritch League of America

A quick ink sketch of an H.P. Lovecraft version of the DC Universe, featuring ELDER (Superman) DEEP ONE (Aquaman) and NIGHT GAUNT (Batman). This is the sort of thing that occurs to me on a Sunday afternoon. ELDRITCH LEAGUE anyone?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Tarzan The Unauthorized

   In the early sixties, a publishing company called Gold Star, working under the mistaken impression that Edgar Rice Burroughs' character, Tarzan of the Apes, had gone into public domain, began publishing new Tarzan adventures. They put out five volumes before ERB Inc. let them know that they were in trademark infringement. Thus perished Tarzan: The New Series.
   I had never tracked these down for whatever reason, but then my ever generous pal Cliff found that he had two duplicates in his collection and passed them on to me. Now of course, being of the collector frame of mind, I couldn't just have two of a set of five. So now I'm hunting down the others. My most recent acquisition, TARZAN AND THE SILVER GLOBE, comes from the collection of writer Donald F. Glut, creator of Doctor Spektor, which is appropriate, given my interests. Three down and two to go.

Acquisitions

The big book with the bat on the cover is 1936 edition of The Mammoth Book of Thrillers, Ghosts, and Mysteries. The rest of the stuff is pretty self explanatory.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cake For Lovecraft

Me: "Hi, I need to order a birthday cake."
Bakery Lady on phone: "Okay, how would you like it decorated."
Me: "Can you put an octopus on there?"
Bakery Lady "I don't think we have any octopuses. We have whales and sharks."
Me: "I was really hoping for a cephalopod."
Bakery Lady: I don't know that that is."
Me. "Okay forget the cephalopods. How about a graveyard?"
Bakery lady" "Er...we have little cookie tombstones."
Me: "Great, Go with that."
Bakery lady. "This is a birthday cake?"
Me: "Yeah, don't worry. The guy is dead."
Bakery lady. "Oh dear."
Me: "No, no, it's okay. He's been dead since 1937."
Bakery lady. "Um, okay. Do you want a name on the cake?"
Me: "Yes, put Happy Birthday H.P. Lovecraft."
Bakery lady: "Is Lovecraft one word?"
Me: "It is."
We talked about cake sizes and icing choices. Then she said, "When do you need to pick this up?"
Me: "Tomorrow will be fine."
Bakery lady. "What time are you coming because I want to be here to meet you."

Happy Birthday HPL!


    It’s H.P. Lovecraft’s Birthday. There are few authors whose work has given me more flat out fun that HPL’s. He remains one of the giants of the horror/fantasy field and along with Poe, one of the most influential writers of the macabre. I wrote an appreciation of Lovecraft last year on his birthday and I really can’t add to it, so if you didn’t read it, the link is below.

 

 


Blogger is acting weird this morning so I couldn't add a picture. You all know what HPL looks like anyway.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Time Warriors: An Idea Whose Time Didn't Come.

   In the summer of 1991 I had two jobs. I was writing a Chinese Kung-Fu comic book called Drunken Fist and at night I was teaching karate. Most days I had a lot of free time, and I was looking around for something else I could write as work for hire. I knew a lot about martial arts and a lot about guns and knives so it occurred to me that maybe I could write some Men's Adventure books. You know, The Executioner, Able Team, that kind of thing. So I began reading a lot of the Gold Eagle titles to see how it was done and ended up getting hooked on Mack Bolan, Stony Man, etc. Gold Eagle was trying a lot of titles at the time so there was plenty to choose from.
   One series, or rather mini-series seemed to be tailor made for me. It was called TIME WARRIORS, and it teamed a modern day Mercenary named Black Jack Hogan and a barbarian warrior from pre-history named Brom. The two were mystically linked somehow and would be called to each other's time when they were needed, so Brom would come to the present when Blackjack was in danger and vice versa. Great concept, eh?
   Except I didn't like the writing. The books were credited to a David North, but I don't know if that was a real guy or a house name. Gold Eagle used a lot of house names. I bought all three books in the mini series and tried to read them but they just didn't work for me. Apparently they didn't work for many other people either as Time Warriors never became a regular series.
   So why did I think of this twenty three year old series suddenly? The usual thing. Digging through some boxes of books and I found one of the paperbacks. No idea why I saved it. I haven't come across the other two, so it probably just got past me when I moved in 2004. I'll put it aside for the next Friends of the Library book sale. For the Time Warriors, time has run out.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Christmas in August

This is on the way from the UK. A Holiday Annual from 1982, which reprints some much older material, including a Sexton Blake Christmas story by Gwyn Evans, who specialized in such tales, and Holiday stories from other British story papers. Never too early to start gathering Christmas reading material.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Congregations of the Dead Ebook Cover.

Here it is. The new ebook cover for Congregations of the Dead. I really like this! Awesome artwork by Melody Simmons.

http://ebookindiecovers.com/

Saturday, August 09, 2014

My First Con Sketch

The picture above is the first con sketch I ever bought and I didn't actually intend to buy it. It was 1977 or so and I was attending the Atlanta Fantasy Fair. I'd have been about 15 and I was planning on being a comic book artist so I had gone down to artist's alley to watch the pros draw. Gil Kane, already a comic book legend, had a small crowd in front of him and I joined the group so I could watch him draw.
   Needless to say, I was amazed seeing the way he effortlessly constructed a figure in pencil, then finished it up with a marker. A lot of people seemed to be getting Green Lantern drawings and I knew he was identified with that character, but by 77 he had long since moved on and I'd only seen a few GL stories by Kane in reprints. To me he was a Marvel artist, and at that point he was drawing Daredevil regularly and also doing Spiderman annuals, and lots and lots of covers.
   Anyway, I was so fascinated by his skill that I didn't realize that I was moving up in line until the guy in front of me got his sketch and stepped aside. Kane looked up at me and said, "And what character would you like?"
   I probably hesitated for a few seconds but in my memory I just said, "Daredevil."
   As I said, I hadn't planned on buying anything, but at that point I was too embarrassed to say so and get out of line, and Daredevil was the first thing that came to mind since he was the current artist on the book.  So Gil Kane began roughing out Daredevil, and his wife, who was sitting beside him said, "That will be twenty dollars."
   Fortunately I had the cash on me. And yes, in 1977 you could have a Gil Kane Drawing of any character you wanted for twenty bucks. Of course now I wished I'd said Conan.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Acquisitions

Been a while since I did an acquisitions post. It was a good comics week. Conan and Baltimore were excellent. The Shadow Over Innsmouth was disappointing. Hard to make an idea with that much promise match up to the potential I guess. I got the Hellboy trade because I wanted to read the Batman/Hellboy/Starman teamup. The catnip mouse isn't actually new, but Bruce brought it over while I was putting these comics on the floor so I guess he wanted ya'll to see it.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Coming Soon to Ebook and paperback...

   I've had a lot of questions about this (and I'm glad of that) so I'm pleased to announce that Congregations of the Dead, by James A. Moore and me, will be available in the not too distant future as an e-book and paperback. More news soon.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Kasey Lansdale: Restless

I don't generally do music reviews. In fact this is the first one at Singular Points, but if fits here, as the subject, Kasey Lansdale, is a member of the NECON family, which includes many of my favorite writers, artists, and other creative types. And also I've been listening to her CD, RESTLESS, nonstop since I returned from this year's NECON, where Kasey gave a concert to open the con.
   A little background. I don't listen to a lot of country music these days, but I grew up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains so it was definitely background music to my childhood. I like the old stuff. The real stuff, steeped in blues and pain. I've little (read no) interest in the pop that currently passes for country. I grew up with Conway Twitty, Johnny Cash, Jim Reeves, Loretta Lynn, and yes, Elvis. I watched Hee Haw with my grandparents and I have a soft spot for Buck Owens and Roy Clark still.
   Kasey Lansdale is the real deal. The songs on Restless range from the wicked SORRY AIN'T ENOUGH to the slow and heartfelt BLAME YOU FOR TRYING. That last one practically bleeds regret and makes me wonder how someone as young as Kasey can get that sort of feeling into that kind of song.
   Then there's JUST ANOTHER GUY. One lyric from that one stays with me. "And for once he could really be a hero...if he'd just turn that car around." But you know he won't.
   I think my favorite song on the CD though is WHY CAN'T I? As you can probably guess, that's not a happy one. But it speaks to me, which is what we look for in music, so there you go.
   A word about the vocals before I go. Kasey has a very powerful voice (she sang A capella at NECON. Amazing.) and she can go from playful to soulful without missing a beat. She comes from a family of storytellers (her dad is author Joe Lansdale) and Kasey is a writer and editor of fiction as well as a singer. On RESTLESS she's got quite a few stories to tell and they're all worth listening to.

For more on Kasey, visit her website:

http://kaseylansdale.com/

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Churchyard at St John's

  "I have reared a marble urn in his memory in St. John's Churchyard-the place that Poe loved-the hidden grove of giant willows on the hill, where tombs and headstones huddle quietly between the hoary bulk of the church and the houses and bank walls of Benefit street."

H.P. Lovecraft_The Shunned House

Low Profile Weekend

Supposed to hit 92 degrees today but at the moment it's in the mid 60s, nice and cool. Re-reading HPL's THE SHUNNED HOUSE this morning over breakfast, since I was just there a week ago. Interesting to read his description of the house and to be able to compare it to my own experience.
So far my low profile weekend goes well. Played Lord of the Rings Online a bit with Brie yesterday. Got to enter the Paths of the Dead after viewing the Mustering of Rohan. Love it when the game does scenes from the books. Read some comics which I may or may not review later, depending on how industrious I feel. Plan to write some here in the next few minutes. All and all, not a bad start.