Around the Web: Mike Diana, French Pop, and Black Metal Podcasting

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In 1994, artist Mike Diana was convicted of obscenity in Florida for his comics zine Boiled Angel. I remember following his story as a teenager and thinking how horrifying it was that someone could serve jail time for the so-called “crime” of making people uncomfortable with his art–art that was always intended for an underground audience. It was eye-opening to speak to Diana and to director Frank Henenlotter for Heathen Harvest about the upcoming documentary The Trial of Mike Diana that recounts the whole horrible story and tries to understand how something like this could happen. The Trial of Mike Diana is seeking funding via a Kickstarter Campaign that includes amazing incentives like original art, comics, and invitations special events. I’ll rarely use this word, but this is an important story that deserves to be told, so consider donating to this very worthy campaign.

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At Black Ivory Tower, I wrote about the latest release from one of my favorite (and one of the sexiest) synthpop projects of all time, Dernière Volonté. Prie Pour Moi is a deliciously erotic collection of martial-tinged pop featuring traditional French rhythms and instrumentation. It’s truly something that should be experienced.

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I was invited back on the Black Ivory Tower podcast to talk about music, upcoming festivals, and the perils of album art cliches. Did you know that there are over sixty examples of Caspar David Friedrich’s 1817 painting “Monastery Graveyard in the Snow” being used on metal album covers? Well, there are, so maybe reconsider using that one.

Bad Books for Bad People Episode 3: My Sweet Audrina by V.C. Andrews

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Can you believe I managed to avoid the books of V.C. Andrews for my entire life? For whatever reason (prejudice against popular girls, a love of gay vampires, and/or getting into general Goth kid mischief), it took me to this advanced age to be coerced into checking out My Sweet Audrina, Andrews’ horrifyingly claustrophobic tale of womanly trauma.

Jack and I tackle this title on the latest episode of our podcast, Bad Books for Bad People, where we delve into what makes this book so effective as well as why on earth tween girls went bonkers for these gothic novels.

Click here to listen, or find us on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or in your podcast app of choice by searching for Bad Books for Bad People.

About the episode:

The potboiler Gothics of V.C. Andrews were beloved by adult women… and their tween daughters. Both Jack and Kate are new to the author’s infamous tales of female woe, and they discuss what it’s like to read her work for the first time during this discussion of Andrews’ 1982 novel My Sweet Audrina. This claustrophobic tale of a girl raised with family secrets in the shadow of her dead sister proves to be a surprisingly traumatic experience for Kate who is forced to confront some of her darkest fears, including the horrors of inheriting someone else’s kids.

Here to read an especially sensational passage from the book is Wendy Mays, hostess of Pet Cinematary, the podcast dedicated to taking a deeper look at the role of animals in film. This is her first time reading the work of V.C. Andrews as well, and it turned out to be a much more difficult task than your hosts imagined to find a woman unfamiliar with these macabre little novels.

How does the domestic nightmare world of My Sweet Audrina effect your hosts? Did V.C. Andrews’ life experiences add to the intensity of her stories? What were your hosts reading as tweens? Why did tween girls love these depressing forays into mental illness and isolation so much? Find out all this and more on this episode of Bad Books for Bad People.

Morbid Fantasies: A Reader’s Guide to the Gothic – Limited Art Book

morbidfantasies-coverNewly available from Heretical Sexts is the limited edition art book, Morbid Fantasies: A Reader’s Guide to the Gothic. This edition is strictly limited to 10 hardcover and 50 softcover copies.

Morbid Fantasies is a richly illustrated reader’s guide to Gothic literature, guiding fans both old and new through the ever-changing landscape of this most ghoulish of genres. In its pages, scholar Jack Shear covers the history, key themes, and major books in the Gothic movement from its inception through the current day. It’s a love letter to this often misunderstood and under-appreciated form of entertainment, hand-bound and designed by Tenebrous Kate with featured illustrations by Dana Glover, Becky Munich, and Carisa Swenson.

Below are sample pages from the book.

UPDATE 3:12pm 10/20/16 – Hardcovers sold out within 30 minutes. Thank you for the support! Softcovers are still available but are going fast.

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The Return of Black Ivory Tower

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In February, I’d written about the unique and overwhelmingly (yet delightfully) esoteric black metal and folk zine Black Ivory Tower, which at that time had been shuttered. It pleases me to no end to let you all know that Black Ivory Tower is back in blog form with a brand-new podcast. I’ve joined the BIT team and will be writing about the music that moves me as well as various beautiful, old-fashioned things.

Transmissions from the Black Ivory Tower Episode 1: I join Degtyarov and we talk about controversial album art, the pain of visa issues for musicians, and 90s video games. Unlike my podcast, this show does not include a section where the co-host is tortured by reading a filthy section of a book aloud (sorry to disappoint you all).

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Magic for the People: The Art of Ivan Bilibin: I’ve long admired the artwork of the sole Russian representative in the Golden Age of Illustration. In many ways, Bilibin opened a window for Western audiences to glimpse the folklore and aesthetics of his culture, so I took a moment to appreciate his contributions.

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Strength Through Satire: The Neofolk Mischief of Death in Rome: The heart wants what it wants, and my heart desperately wants pop song covers in the style of Death in June, OK? There’s a lot more to the work of Death in Rome than just the initial chuckle at the concept, and I support this theory in the article above. Apparently I did a decent job, because the band offered me the opportunity to pick their next cover song on Twitter. I picked “Toxic” by Britney Spears and I cannot wait to hear this [thanks again to DiR for being so generous and lovely].

Bad Books for Bad People Episode 2: Image of the Beast and Blown by Philip José Farmer

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We’re back with another episode of Bad Books for Bad People, in which Jack Guignol and I discuss Philip José Farmer’s one-two punch of Image of the Beast and Blown. These XXX science fiction/horror novels are some of the most bonkers books to come out of the already-bonkers 1960s. I described these books as “like the monster mash version of Bataille’s ‘Story of the Eye,'” but there’s an awful lot more going on here. Explicit sex, Lord Byron, aliens, and… Well, you’ll just have to listen to the podcast to find out the rest.

We got our most squeamish friend, man of mystery Baron XIII, to read an especially grotesque segment of Image of the Beast. He issues a seven-day drawing challenge in exchange for being emotionally tortured WARNING: Do not drink every time I say “werepig” or “vagina” or you will be one sloppy human being by the end of this podcast.

Click here to download the podcast! We’re also available on:

…or by subscribing using your podcast app of choice.

 

Wednesday September 28 – Kevin Geeks Out about DEADLY WOMEN

kgo-deadlywomen-nitehawk-screenThis Wednesday September 28, I’m returning to Kevin Geeks Out at Brooklyn’s beautiful Nitehawk Cinema to talk about Deadly Women. The hardest part of being invited to discuss such a rad topic is that I struggled to pick just ONE KIND OF badass bitch to celebrate. I’m so excited for this show not JUST because it’s a topic near and dear to my own heart, but because I’m getting to present alongside some truly great folks:

  • Jon Abrams (editor-in-chief, DAILY GRINDHOUSE.com)
  • Travis Alexandra Boatright (award-winning costume designer)
  • Amber Dextrous (Friend of KGO)
  • Kevin Rice (writer/producer/director of TV’s GHOUL A GO-GO)
  • Rommel Wood (NPR producer for ASK ME ANOTHER, host of EAR HAMMER on Radio Free Brooklyn)

Tickets are still available for the show, which starts at 9:30pm–click here to get yours!

Still on the fence? Check out the trailer below:

Around the Web: Historical Heroine, German Decadent Black Metal, and Unfortunate Bigfoot Comics

It’s been another eventful month in the Empire as I march towards the Fall season. I’m putting the finishing touches on a new, limited edition, handmade book to be released by my Heretical Sexts imprint titled Morbid Fantasies: A Reader’s Guide to the Gothic. Not only is it a great primer in the genre, but it also features beautiful illustrations by several incredible artists. I’m hoping to have that out in October so stay tuned for more info!

Cover art by Becky Munich
Cover art by Becky Munich

Speaking of artistic endeavors, I’ve got work in the upcoming Occult Activity Book Vol. 2, created by S. Elizabeth and Becky Munich. I was working with ideas of occult couples, so I have two coloring pages featuring esoteric love matches, plus a papercraft Gilles de Rais. Look for his partner Joan of Arc to be offered free on this blog once the book is released. The first edition sold out super-quickly, so don’t miss your opportunity to own volume two. Pre-order your copy here!

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On Slutist, I did something a bit different in August and talked about Artemisia Gentileschi, the Baroque-era Italian painter who overcame personal trauma to become a respected artist in her own right. Read her story here.

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Did you know that Rob Zombie co-wrote a Bigfoot comic that’s full of implied rape? I personally prefer ecologically conscious Bigfoot over weird rapist Bigfoot, but hey, to each their own. Read my thoughts on this crazy disaster-mess on Nine Circles.

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Decadent German black metal band Imperium Dekadenz draws inspiration from Tinto Brass’ Caligula, among other sources. Their lush, melodramatic, melodic record is a shoo-in for my best of 2016 list. Read my thoughts on their latest, Dis Manibvs, on Nine Circles.

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Another historically-grounded metal album that moved me recently was Wrekmeister Harmonies’ Light Falls. It’s an emotionally harrowing journey inspired by Primo Levi’s holocaust memoir If This Is A Man as well as by band-leader JR Robinson’s strained relationship with his son. Not an easy listen, but a deeply rewarding one. Read my thoughts here.

New Podcast: Bad Books for Bad People

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It’s alive! The first episode of  Bad Books for Bad People, my podcast with my long-time friend and collaborator, Jack Guignol, is available for your listening pleasure. We discuss a truly bonkers book, Alistair Rennie’s BleakWarrior, which was was dubbed by one reviewer as “black metal new weird.” Jack thinks it’s more like a SoulCalibur porno directed by Jodorowsky. Who’s right? What other unlikely comparisons will we come up with? Will guest reader Degtyarov of the ultra-esoteric blog and zine Black Ivory Tower be able to hold it together through a passage from the book that involves a whole lot of grotesque violence? Tune in and find out!

Click here to listen to Episode 1 of Bad Books for Bad People.

Follow Bad Books for Bad People for updates:

Around the Web: Chick Comics, American Mysticism, So Much Doom, and More

It’s been entirely too long since I updated here, but y’all will hopefully forgive me when you see everything I’m up to.

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The big news (such as anything can be termed “big news” in my world of esoteric nonsense) is that I’m launching a podcast with my trusted Heretical Sexts lieutenant J. Guignol. It’s called Bad Books for Bad People, and it will feature the most outrageous, shocking, shamefully fun books that we’ve enjoyed. Expect a variety of titles from a variety of time periods. Our first book is BleakWarrior, and Jack describes it as “”if SoulCalibur were a porno directed by Jodorowsky.”

Elsewhere, I’ve done bunches of stuff…

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I’m continuing my Great Moments in Historical Sluttery column with two amazing women:

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Semiramis, the Assyrian empress who has alternately been known as a warrior heroine, a vengeful lover, and a mother goddess

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Marchesa Luisa Casati, the celebrated Italian heiress who dedicated her life to her eccentricities, becoming a living work of art

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I reviewed Violence Girl, punk pioneer Alice Bag’s captivating and wonderfully honest memoir of her childhood and youth in L.A.’s burgeoning punk scene.

The reiussue of Master of Mysteries: New Revelations on the Life of Manly Palmer Hall is fantastic, as is the book’s author, Louis Sahagun.

Nine Circles

Album Review: Cardinals Folly – Holocaust of Ecstasy and Freedom (one for the trad doom crowd)

Black Church, a metal-inspired comic I’d talked about on here a while back. Still waiting on that volume two…!

My favorite albums from the first half of 2016 (it’s been a good year)

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The dangers of rock music in Spellbound?, a Chick Publications comic informed by the work of the same dude who assisted with Dark Dungeons.

I got to chat with Anders Manga of Bloody Hammers, my former editor over at Occult Rock Magazine. The new Bloody Hammers is a delightful occult/doom/goth-flavored offering that should be listened to posthaste.

Weird fiction scholar S.T. Joshi reading Clark Ashton Smith on limited edition vinyl? Sure, I’ll take that.

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I liked the Myrkur live album, Mausoleum, that just came out.

Around the Web: DIJ Fanfic, Boyd Rice Bio, Mae West, Celtic Frost Comics and More

Has it been almost two months since I posted an update? YIKES. Let me atone for that by letting you know everything I’ve been up to…

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In what’s probably my greatest personal achievement to date, the Death In June/Boyd Rice fanfic authored by the mysterious J. Guignol and illustrated by me is being sold as officially endorsed DIJ merch at Soleilmoon. The beautiful hardbound copies got snapped up right quick, but softbound copies are still available. According to coverage on Dangerous Minds, it’s “frankly explicit” and I’ve also been told it’s “funny” and “surprisingly sad,” so go grab a copy and find out for yourself. Oh, and if you want me to do a fic about your band in erotic situations, please get in touch.

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April’s Great Moment in Historical Sluttery is dedicated to Vali Myers, the 60s counterculture icon and artist who was so much more than a muse. Read about her here.

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I enjoy puns, so for May I covered Mae West, who was one of the most excellent humans to walk the earth. The story about the trained parrots might be my favorite anecdote from this piece. Read about Mae West here.

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Speaking of Slutist, I got a chance to chat with founder Kristen Korvette about the  second installment of the Legacy of the Witch Festival. She’s great, you’ll want to learn more about her in this interview for Heathen Harvest.

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Mike Hunchback, man of indomitable charm & energy and co-editor of Pulp Macabre: the Art of Lee Brown Coye chatted with me about weird fiction, underground art, and the controversy surrounding H.P. Lovecraft. Read the article on Heathen Harvest.

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I like Boyd Rice. I like Brian M. Clark’s biography of Boyd Rice, which I reviewed on Heathen Harvest.

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I am already moooost of the way to liking anything with a title as clever as Entartete Kunts, a book on underground metal and punk art that I talked about for Heathen Harvest. That cover is really dope, isn’t it?

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The Humans is a superb, over-the-top, psychedelic collision of great things featuring art by Tom Neely, one of my favorite comics artists working right now. The pitch is simple: Planet of the Apes meets vintage 70s biker film. I ranted quite a bit about how you need to read this comic over at Nine Circles.
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Yes, you do want to know more about a comics tribute to Celtic Frost, because those are an insane series of words in combination with one another. Read my review of Morbid Tales! A Tribute to Celtic Frost on Nine Circles.