The Internet Is Beautifully Surreal: Killdozer History, Guerilla Art, Penny Dreadfuls and More

The Steel Monster – The Horrors of It All

The Horrors of It All is a long-running horror comics blog and general boon to weird-person culture. I love learning about the history of graphic storytelling through Karswell’s work, and I was recently blessed with a piece of especially unexpected knowledge. The 1974 TV movie Killdozer has a much richer history than I ever knew. Check out a full scan of heavy-machinery-run-amok tale The Steel Monster and learn more.

Photo from Motherboard

Internet Artists Invaded the MoMA With a Guerrilla Augmented Reality Exhibit – Motherboard

So, look–I’ll be frank: I think “Internet Art” as such is pretty much crap, consisting mostly of highfalutin’ artists’ statements attached to, like, Geocities-era GIFs (if only we knew how VERY avant-garde we were at the time). However, I am a BIG fan of unauthorized mischief particularly when directed at the sacred cows of modern art. This is an interesting application of technology in a way that is both essentially harm-free but also likely VERY aggravating to the bloated curatorial egos at a certain large art institution in New York City. I hope more cheeky creative people do more stuff like this, in different ways.

Victorian Penny Gaffs: Crime, Horror, and Murder – Diabolique Magazine

Diabolique Magazine has some really, really great writing on the history of horror entertainment, and this look at the theatrical productions based on penny dreadful stories further cements that publication’s stellar reputation. Also this reminds me of one of the million-plus reasons I will never have a child: there’s a not insignificant chance it would be named “Wagner the Wehr-Wolf.” Thank you to my podcast cohost Jack for bringing this one to my attention!

Funerals Once Included Swag – JSTOR Daily

Even dying came with significant social obligations in pre-Revolutionary War New England.

I’m incredibly sad that Variety updated this article to reflect a more accurate plot synopsis of the Limp Bizkit frontman’s upcoming movie. We shall always have this screen capture of Google’s archived results, though.

Prophecy Club

In the spirit of sharing, Prophecy Productions is offering an insane deal for followers of the label. For a membership fee of $30 a year (or more, if you are a generous soul like me), you get access to everything the label releases PLUS a generous care package of back catalog albums from artists in the worlds of avant garde metal, black metal, neofolk, and shoegaze like Helrunar, Dool, and Alcest. Prophecy is home to the newest releases from Tenebrous Household faves Sol Invictus and Spiritual Front that are coming out later this Spring, so this is a highly recommended offer. Sign up here.

In closing: Seth W. on being fine without social media.

Bad Books for Bad People: The Bloody Chamber

Listen to the podcast here!

In the latest mini episode of my podcast, Bad Books for Bad People, Jack and I take a look at the “title track” from Angela Carter’s famed short story collection, The Bloody Chamber. This feminist reimagining of the Bluebeard story blends sensuous language, heady atmosphere, and clever inversions of typical fairy tale tropes.

What perils await young women as they venture into the wider world? How do fairy tales translate into the modern world? Is there a reason why some stories end exactly where they do? Find out all this and more in this month’s mini episode of Bad Books for Bad People.

BBfBP theme song by True Creature 

Find us at, on Twitter @badbooksbadppl, Instagram @badbooksbadpeople and on Facebook. You can discover where to get all the books featured on Bad Books for Bad People on our About Page.

Listen to the podcast here!

Exploring the History of Horror: Weird Paperbacks, Nouveau Symbolist Art, and The Bride RETURNS

Paperbacks from Hell was one of the best things I read last year, and apparently a lot of folks in the horror cognoscenti agree with my assessment, because authors Grady Hendrix and Will Errickson have won a Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction. Congratulations to them on a well-deserved win! Jack and I spoke to Will on Bad Books for Bad People about his longstanding passion for horror paperbacks and were struck by his depth of knowledge and sincere enthusiasm. Listen to our chat, and then RUN DON’T WALK to grab a copy of the book if you don’t already own it. Warning: your to-read list will grow exponentially as a result.

My long-time friend Joey Zone (finally!) launched a portfolio site to highlight his exquisite artwork. Combining elegant linework, a refined sense of design, and frequently macabre subject matter, Joey’s work has been featured on book covers and magazines and has graced the posters of literary and artistic events. He’s someone who’s been a constant source of inspiration for me, and I was lucky enough to have him contribute lettering to my art book, Die Mensur.  I also own one of his original drawings, which is a treasured item in my collection.  Do give his site a visit and admire his wondrous aesthetic!

On the topic of people I know who do wonderful work, Tom Blunt (of much-missed New York City variety show “Meet the Lady” fame) has achieved his years-long goal of bringing actress Elsa Lanchester’s autobiography back into print. There is just so much more to this woman than her iconic but too-brief appearance in The Bride of Frankenstein! A work of delightful wit and emotional depth that’s chock full of celebrity encounters during Hollywood’s golden age, Elsa Lanchester, Herself is not to be missed. I’m fortunate enough to own a copy of the book from a prior printing, but the new version includes a foreword by writer (and former child actress) Mara Wilson. Order your copy today.

Bitchy HP Lovecraft, Surrealist Comic Strip, an Exploding Casino and METAL


HP Lovecraft’s reputation as an avid correspondent with fellow weird fiction writers is quite charming, but I find his fits of bitchiness quite captivating as well. Male bitchiness in general is a riot, if only because it tends to be categorized as “critique,” but WE know the truth of the matter, don’t we? (This doesn’t have to be a Royal We situation–someone out there is nodding). The thing Lovecraft’s emotional composition is that one always knows where one stands in his esteem, and if you happen to be TS Eliot, you measure up very poorly indeed. It turns out that Lovecraft got in quite a snit over the publication of The Waste Land and wrote his own response, titled “The Waste Paper.” It’s pretty funny, to be honest, and now you can read it along with its history at Dangerous Minds. Plus an appearance by the wonderful Alan Moore! (It deserves to be said that boiling down the work of Lovecraft and Eliot to “two racist reactionaries” feels rather… Of The Current Awful Cultural Moment to this reader, but full credit for unearthing a lovely one-sided literary slapfight).

Mark Trail – The Comics Curmudgeon

I know this is bananas, but classic comic strips still exist, and by golly they might be better than ever. Thanks to the tireless work of The Comics Curmudgeon (a daily source of joy I cannot recommend enough), I now know that the current Mark Trail storyline involves a horrible circus train crash that has left the animals and clowns wandering the countryside, terrifying children. This riveting tale has involved a monkey riding an ostrich, a clown known for his “loud screaming,” and now THE ABOVE STRIP. *chef kiss*

A Thousand Pounds of Dynamite – The Atavist

True crime is sizzlehot right now, but I’m just exhausted beyond belief by bad reportage, reductive TAKES, and all those dead people (bummer, right?). Well, this article from Adam Higginbotham on The Atavist is a terrific antidote to all that nonsense: a wild tale of excessive spending, scheming, masterful bomb-making, dumb chance, and egos gone wild that resulted in a giant explosion in a casino with no casualties. It’s like we all win! This is a great American story and I can’t stop thinking about it.

A Brief History of Metal Umlauts – Kerrang!

The German pronunciation mark pops up all over the dang place in metal, but why? Well, intrepid reporter Mike Rampton is on the case in this run-down of some of the umlaut’s most notable metallic appearances. This anecdote from Vince Neil particularly thrilled me: “When we finally went to Germany, the crowds were chanting, ‘Mutley Cruh! Mutley Cruh!’ We couldn’t figure out why the fuck they were doing that.”

Heavy Trip -Trailer (official) from Making Movies Oy on Vimeo.

Parodying heavy metal is a dicey proposition for any number of reasons, chief of which is the fact that the genre is de facto incredibly over-the-top. The comedy has to come from an insider’s understanding of the aesthetic, and most folks who sip from the metal comedy stream seem to stop well short of that and satisfy themselves with dumb stoner humor (disclaimer: dumb stoner humor can be fun, but it’s not of itself enough).  Heavy Trip looks like a pretty good-natured bit of fun. Catch it in the US at SXSW on March 10th (or avoid that pit of horrible marketing scummery and catch it on VOD at some point like a sensible person).

Fans of pipe organs and loud screaming rejoice, for there is a new Lychgate album coming out at the end of the month! Pre-order your copy on Season of Mist.

Fantastical Destinations: Beauty in Decay, Movie Art, and A Controversial Travelogue

Eleonora Costi via Atlas Obscura

Documenting the Beauty of Italy’s Abandoned Villas: The Photography of Eleonora Costi – Atlas Obscura

Abandoned places are a reliable source of wondrous imagery, juxtaposing our species’ resourcefulness in building with our tendency to lose interest in anything considered old or outmoded. In populous areas, such spaces are reclaimed in one way or another–either refurbished or demolished to make way for projects that fit with current needs. Far more fascinating, however, is what happens to abandoned buildings in more remote locations. This gradual slide into decay is captured poignantly by photographer Eleonora Costi, whose haunting work is profiled in Atlas Obscura.

Roger Corman’s “Fall of the House of Usher”


I love paintings that appear in movies. This probably accounts for my warmer-than-they-should-be feelings towards Night Gallery, a show I can admit is far less good than Twilight Zone and yet which I will always gravitate towards. It’s a special delight when I get to learn more about the creators of movie paintings, so Dangerous Minds’ recent profile of artist Burt Shonberg was a welcome read. Not only do I now know who created the ghostly portraits in the Corman version of Fall of the House of Usher, but Shonberg’s bio also includes a cameo by occult superstar Marjorie Cameron!

Clare Sheridan

Russian Portraits (1921) – Public Domain Review

All travelogues should come with a whiff of scandal. The Public Domain Review curates this noteworthy book by English sculptor Clare Sheridan, which you can read in its entirety. Written after her travels to Soviet Russia and shortly before the creation of the Soviet Union, the book excited the wrath of Winston Churchill.

By the time [Clare Sheridan] met Kamenev in London, she was an established artist of independent means, but she had never been published. When Kamenev personally invited her to travel back with him to Russia to make busts of his fellow revolutionaries she seemed to jump at the chance. Perhaps she smelt a great story. Certainly she wanted adventure and to know the truth about the Bolsheviks — “these wild beasts who have been represented as ready to spring upon us and devour us!” Kamenev managed to secure her passage to Moscow, getting her a berth on the trade delegation’s boat to Stockholm, and from there the Estonian visa she needed to reach Russia. She would stay at the Kremlin for two months, producing excellent models of Trotsky, Lenin, and other Soviet bigwigs.

February Reads: Eurocomix, Medieval Tragedy, and WWII Espionage

I have to say that GoodReads has been a great tool for me to get through some of the books I’ve been hoarding! There’s something to be said about the accountability of having a “Books I’m Reading” update glaring at me every time I log on. In addition to my podcast reads, here are a few titles that stood out for me this month.

Much as a I hate star ratings from a principled standpoint, they’re a good tool when seeking automated recommendations–sort of a way of saying “more like THIS, please.” I’m always going to default high when star-rating creative works in these kinds of online platforms, since my real approach is more of a “pass/fail” depending on what I’m looking to be entertained by at that specific moment.

The Nikopol TrilogyThe Nikopol Trilogy by Enki Bilal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

By turns sardonic, mystical, romantic, witty, and violent, this lushly illustrated trio of stories builds an immersive fantasy-futurist vision that one won’t soon forget. Bilal seems to take a “more is more” approach, blending elements of espionage, mythology, film noir, surrealism, and meta-narrative into these stories. Each panel is exquisitely detailed, encouraging a pleasurably slow reading process. A spiritual cousin to The Incal but from a grimier, more pessimistic perspective.

Collection of ShaCollection of Sha by Pat Mills
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Completely over the top horror SF fantasy from the team that created Requiem Vampire Knight. This is very much a Heavy Metal title, with all the violence, acerbic satire, and weird sexual politics that implies. Ledroit’s visionary art style brings Mills’ dystopian occult revenge plot to life. This very much feels like a test run for the more immersive (and more outrageous) Requiem.

By Chance or ProvidenceBy Chance or Providence by Becky Cloonan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Becky Cloonan’s gifts as a visual storyteller are aptly demonstrated in this trio of short stories linked by themes of loss, heartbreak, and the cruelty of fate. The juxtaposition of her thoroughly modern visual style with the weighty supernatural tales she weaves creates an impact that lasts long after the final frame. There’s a restraint present here that focuses the attention on small gestures and facial expressions, making climactic moments land all that much harder. The added “Concept Sketches & Illustrations” are a welcome treat that allow the reader to linger in Cloonan’s medieval world a bit longer. Highly recommended.

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's BerlinIn the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The real joy of Larson’s narrative approach to writing about history is found in the small moments he captures. While the broad strokes of Hitler’s consolidation of power are known to virtually all readers with a passing interest in military and political history, Larson narrows the focus and depicts events as experienced by a very specific set of personalities. This is a book about romantic entanglements, over-dinner conversations, and personal diary confessions, all of which grow to have dire consequences in the charged, bloody, and tragic atmosphere in which they occur. Larson mentions the influence of Christopher Isherwood on the development of the book, and that’s an apt point of reference for potential readers. This is a real page-turner with two captivating, flawed American characters (scholarly Ambassador Dodd and his vivacious twenty-something daughter Martha) at its center.

View all my reviews

Bad Books for Bad People: Creatures of Will and Temper

There are a lot of things to be afraid of in the world: bees, nuclear annihilation, identity theft, having all your teeth fall out, and so on. To this non-comprehensive list, I’d like to add one of my personal fears: “contemporary reinterpretations of historical periods about which I know enough to be dangerous.” Molly Tanzer’s novel Creatures of Will and Temper falls into this category. What did I make of a playful reimagining of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray but with gender-bending, swordplay, and demons? Frankly, I found it to be quite a bit of fun!

Listen to the Podcast Here.

In Creatures of Will and Temper, Molly Tanzer takes elements of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and crafts a story of romance, swordplay, and demonology. It’s an ambitious premise that goes beyond simply gender-swapping its source material. Listen and find out what Jack, a Wilde scholar, and Kate, a reader with a deep fear of contemporary takes on fin de siecle themes, think about this supernatural adventure.

Just how bent do genders get in this story? How much of the artistic process involves drinking, crying, and puking? Will these fencers ever get an opportunity to have some sexytimes? How do demons fit into the worldview of the Aesthetic movement? Find out all this and more in this month’s episode of Bad Books for Bad People.

NOTE: I want to personally apologize for mis-naming the lead character throughout this episode. Her name is “Dorina Gray,” not “Doriana Gray.” I made a typo in the show notes because I was thinking about Jess Franco’s Doriana Gray. I’m always kind of thinking about Jess Franco movies, really.

Thursday Feb 22: Kevin Geeks Out Goes Punk at Nitehawk Cinema

Grab your huffing glue and sharpen up your liberty spikes, because Kevin Geeks Out is going PUNK this coming Thursday February 22 at Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn! I’m excited to be part of a stellar line-up of presenters who will be looking at punks in pop culture. What will I be covering? Well, let’s just say you’ll have to take a drink every time someone combs their hair.

Get your tickets today.

Bad Books for Bad People: Podcast and Additional Reading

Sometimes I sit here and reflect on how extremely fortunate I am to know smart people who agree to work on projects with me. It’s through some wonder of fate that I’ve managed to convince Jack Guignol to continue participating in Bad Books for Bad People, our two-person, twice-a-month book club disguised as a podcast. We had a blast with our two most recent episodes and if you enjoy the very bizarre side of vintage fiction, you should probably check these out.

Ray Russell’s Incubus is one of those books that comes up a lot in horror fiction circles. My pal Unkle Lancifer at Kindertrauma has discussed it, I endured the horrifying film adaptation of the book, and after Will Errickson recommended giving it a shot during our conversation with him, I took the plunge. Some time after the folksy doctor writes a “witty” editorial disparaging the use of the term “Ms.” and well before the magical properties of the hymeneal blood of nuns comes into play, I realized this book was something that Jack and I would need to discuss together. So we did, and it was the most fun (if perhaps a little scarring). Listen here.

I had another such “we have to cover this” experience when reading through the massive Big Book of Rogues and Villains, edited by Otto Penzler. It takes a very particular set of personality traits to chuckle at an anti-suffragette comedy involving phrenology and jewel theft, but I possess exactly those personality traits and felt the need to inflict the tale on Jack. We traded short stories in this mini episode, and I feel a little guilty that he sent me something sophisticated and intellectual when I presented him so proudly with my silly dustbin treasure. It’s the nature of our friendship, I guess. Listen here.

A little more about The Big Book of Rogues and Villains: I’m having the same experience reading this as when I read the Megapacks available for the Kindle. It’s terrific that anthologists are unearthing a lot of overlooked or “lost” pulp authors and I find myself tearing through these compilations when I get my hands on a new one. Every time, though, I experience the “too much of a good thing” moment where I begin to anticipate the shape of the stories within the first couple of paragraphs. At that point, I need to take a break and acknowledge that these stories are best consumed one at a time, interspersed between lengthier reads.  Essentially, I’m the dog that will eat itself sick on garbage, except the garbage is made up of trashy short stories.

During our recent Best of 2017 episode, Jack reminded me I should read Becky Cloonan’s By Chance or Providence, a compilation of three short stories in comics form that are not at all of the trashy variety. I sure am glad I remembered to read this, because each section packs an emotional wallop in remarkably few pages. I adore Cloonan’s artwork and got to meet her briefly at Roadburn last year where I was able to tell her how very much I love her work. It’s a wonderful experience to get a chance to tell artists that they’re making the world a more excellent place by putting their work out into it. But seriously–check out her work for a second and see how much atmosphere she captures in just one page:

Speaking of historical gothickry, Jack’s much-anticipated new role-playing book, Krevborna: A Gothic Blood Opera has just been released. Jack is a gifted writer and fantasist, and the book features beautiful art by Becky Munich and Michael Gibbons.  You can purchase your copy via Drive Thru RPG. Just check out that cover:

Escaping the Social Media Morass and Rediscovering Delight

It’s been a running joke between myself and a few of my close friends that I pray for a day when algorithms finally render social media platforms completely useless to me. Bittersweet as this may sound, I think it’s coming very close to that point. The recent opinion piece in The Quietus, provocatively titled Slaves To The Algorithm: How Facebook Is Throttling Underground Culture, captured several of my own anxieties as a creative person who struggles with ideas around “engagement” and “community” as they’re understood today. Two relevant excerpts:

[Techno artist] Rrose laments the loss of quirky or innovative modes of communicating, but their issue always comes back to marketing: “When you log in to an artist’s page, Facebook gives you suggestions on how to ‘improve’ your ‘performance’. They give you tools and tips which make it look like they’re trying to help, but it’s just pushing you into this marketing mindset. I find myself caring about the response to a post, when I don’t want to. I want to focus on my music – that’s how I make a connection to the audience, first and foremost.”

[DJ and producer  Hunni’d Jaws] finds FB and Instagram useful for sharing flyers, mixes and compilations but she also describes the pressure of being on so many platforms simultaneously as “overwhelming” and annoying: “I just changed my profile in Instagram to make it more business-y and to see what’s reaching people. I don’t want to be posting lots of selfies, but those get the most likes. I’d rather not get attention through that. I wish that my ‘followers’ would hear the music I’m producing, but of course it doesn’t work like that.”

“Engagement” is frequently negative and “community” is often a fig leaf on blandness and orthodoxy of ideas. On a more personal note, author Sonya Vatomsky touched on the downsides of the current social media climate in a recent Haute Macabre article and their words resonated with me. Sonya sums it up when she writes:

I spent much of 2017 as a freelance writer, with no separation between professional and private life and a constant need to be filled up with information as if it were nourishment; it was draining and exhaustion and bitterness and anxiety started to seep into every moment, every visit to Facebook or Instagram or Twitter.

It’s ironic, of course, that I encountered Sonya and her work via these selfsame platforms we’re chafing against, aptly demonstrating their double-edged nature. If I’m grappling with this as someone who views these platforms as a “nice to have” to promote my part-time work, I shudder to think about the psychological impact to a person in the freelance or full-time creative fields. Is the never-ending psychic tinnitus of social media worth suffering through in the ever-dwindling hope that you’ll be exposed to something enriching, thanks to algorithms that favor paid advertising and “growth hacking?” The answer–for me, at least–is increasingly no.

I’m a big believer in context, so the above is offered as an explanation that I’m working to realign my own priorities and will be concentrating on sharing on this blog once again. Feel free to add this to your blogroll (remember those? Those were good). If you’ll accept a recommendation, Feedly has been very helpful as I wean myself off of social media. So in this spirit, here are several things that have been bringing me delight recently.

“The Strange and Twisted Life of Frankenstein” by Jill Lepore in The New Yorker. How terrific is a long read? VERY terrific, when done well, and this exploration about the possible interpretations of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is extraordinarily thought-provoking. The typical reading of the story as being about “not tampering in God’s domain”  has always felt a bit reductive to me, so it’s a welcome change to hear about interpretations of the novel that factor in ideas around birth, social equality, and the emerging philosophies of the time. I also greatly enjoy the accompanying illustration by Henning Wagenbreth.

You should probably subscribe to the RE/Search newsletter. For those of us who remember a 90s-era internet, it hearkens back to that earlier aesthetic and contains a refreshing mixture of editorials, event listings, and stuff to look at/read/listen to around the web. I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, but one of the things I find appealing about RE/Search and editor V. Vale is the perennial attitude of wanting to introduce fellow weirdos to exciting avenues of culture. Reading RE/Search is like hanging out with the coolest person you could meet, back in 1995. Find the subscription box by scrolling down the right column of the RE/Search website.

I’m honestly spoiled for choice when it comes to music, but if I were to select one recent release to share, I’d like to recommend Pvrvsha by Mystagos, just released by BlackSeed Productions. This is exactly the kind of complex, occult-intellectual flavor of black metal I enjoy most. I’ll try to write more words specifically discussing the album, but suffice to say you get all manner of atmospheres here, from ambient to surprisingly melody-driven to gnarly aggressiveness. Listen here:

Podcasts! You ever hear of those things? I’ve got one, and as a person who relies heavily on public transit, I appreciate finding shows that insulate me from having to listen to the general badness of  the other human beings in close proximity to me. Two of my favorites are the weird-dad catnip of Hardcore History (why yes, I would like to listen to four-plus hours on the history of public executions) and the lesser-known but also terrific Folklore Podcast. What makes The Folklore Podcast so great is that, unlike a certain wildly popular podcast covering similar themes that I strongly do not enjoy, TFP features interviews with historians and folklorists sharing aspects of their work. It’s like attending a really good academic conference on the most interesting topics possible, from legendary ghosts to Gef (the extra-special talking mongoose). You are guaranteed to learn something that you can then use to disturb and annoy others at social gatherings! Everyone wins.

I finally got around to watching Ninja III: The Domination, a joyful Canon Films romp about a Solid Gold dancer possessed by the spirit of a cop-killing ninja. As if that wasn’t enough, the movie features a credit for “vocal realization” by Diamanda Galas. I’m saddened Ninja III is not listed in her official IMDb page because I feel her involvement in this movie makes her even more of a creative treasure.

Oh, and I have a GoodReads profile now. I’m not really sure how I’m going to use it, but if you’d like to get a voyeuristic thrill from seeing what I’m currently reading, you can add me on there.