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!

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.

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.

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:

Bad Books Around the Web

Happy 2018, the year that marks the ten-year anniversary of this particular blog! I’m still alive and doing the weird lord’s work at various spots around the web. Do check it out, won’t you?

Bad Books for Bad People is going strong, returning from a winter break of a few weeks to continue bringing our thoughts on strange lit to you in podcast form. Jack and I just issued our Best of 2017 mini-episode and are preparing ourselves to discuss Ray Russell’s Incubus in our next long-read installment. Visit or subscribe on iTunes (or your podcast app of choice).

Heathen Harvest gave me the opportunity to discuss one of the ultimate “bad books” of all time, Adam Parfrey’s incendiary Apocalypse Culture. I wrote a piece marking the thirty year anniversary of the book and the myriad ways in which underground culture has transformed since then. Turns out I have a lot to say about this topic–who would have figured such a thing!

I’ve also been working on some illustrations. Gilles de Rais and Salome are available as stickers that should go up in my online store shortly, and Salome t-shirts are in production. I also have enamel pins coming soon based on my Nazgûl illustrations–follow me on Twitter and Instagram to be notified when everything goes live.

Bad Books for Bad People: Armageddon Rag and Gilded Needles

I’ve been remarkably bad at reminding you all that I cohost a podcast, so here’s a post sharing the two latest episodes. Want to subscribe and not have to rely on reminders from me? Great! Do so on iTunes or by visiting our webpage at

For the first mini episode, Kate and Jack tackle the book that is the origin story of the podcast. Sure, a George RR Martin novel about the dark and violent side of the 60s focusing on ritual murder and a band called the Nazgûl sounds amazing, but is it? No. No it is not. Armageddon Rag has taken on borderline symbolic value to your hosts as the quintessential work of wasted potential.

How sad is it when middle aged people worry about “sell outs?” Are all young people doing counterculture wrong, or are hippies just the worst? How many uncomfortable sexual elements are incorporated into the plot? Why would anyone name their magazine The Hedgehog? Find out all this and more in the first mini episode of Bad Books for Bad People.

Listen to the episode here.

Michael McDowell’s Gilded Needles is a captivating tale of two families from dramatically different circumstances, engaged in a bitter feud set against the backdrop of late 19th Century New York City. This grimy vision of the metropolis, populated by opium addicts, thieves, and lesbian brawlers, could easily have earned the moniker Fear City long before the first stag reels flickered onto the screen of a Times Square grindhouse. Get to know the Stallworths, a family with wealth and political ambitions, and the Shanks, a clan of criminal women who have found their place in lower Manhattan’s Black Triangle. How do these families’ lives overlap, why do they loathe each other, and what are the consequences of their battle?

Jack and Kate have kept this episode spoiler-free in an effort to encourage others to seek out McDowell’s under-appreciated thriller.

Listen to the episode here.

Around the Web: Roadburn, Black Metal Design Sorcery, and Tackling Extremism

I went to the Roadburn music festival in the Netherlands for the first time this April, and it was an absolutely stunning experience. Degtyarov wrote about his experiences at Black Ivory Tower, and I provided color commentary as well as some sketches. As someone who’s found music festivals to be a mixed bag in the past, I’m a convert to the Roadburn experience and will be making a return trip at some point in the future.

I’ve been a fan of extreme music aesthetic powerhouse Valnoir of the design studio Metastazis for some time now. I spoke to Valnoir for Heathen Harvest about his artistic inspirations, the use of unusual materials in art, and his time in North Korea with Laibach:

The artist edition of the book is limited to fifty copies and they are all signed with the palm of my whole hand. For this, you need more than a few drops of blood, so I went to see a nurse. She took a pint of my blood at her place. The device she was using was not set correctly and at one point it just blew up. The syringe popped out because she was forcing it too much and the blood started going all over the place. Her dog was there and it started jumping around and licking up the blood. She started pushing the dog away and at this point I almost fainted because it was too much information. So now I have this pint of blood and I didn’t use all of it, so I put it in the freezer just in case it can be useful.

Feral House specializes in publishing works by writers with brash voices who express big ideas. Howard Bloom is no exception to this rule, and his profoundly disturbing book During a stroll around Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood, I spoke to BloomThe Muhammad Code takes an apocalyptic view of the impact of Islamic extremism. about the development of his philosophy and how it explains the violent potential of mass human behavior.

When I was twelve, I realized I was an atheist. I had a bar mitzvah coming up, and I knew that meant there were going to be presents, so to admit to myself I was an atheist at that time was very bad. I held out until I had finished with my thank you notes and then fully admitted I was an atheist. The High Holidays came around in September and when my parents dragged me to synagogue, I refused to go inside. There they were, trying to pull me by my ankles out of the car, and I had a realization. There were no gods up there and no gods down there, but where were the gods? They were right there in my parents who were busy pulling on my shoes and shredding my socks to get me into temple! I had read enough anthropology at that time to know this is true of people all over the world, that they have a link to the gods through the ancestors. I knew about science, too. Galileo’s trick was taking an existing piece of technology, the lens, and turning it in a new direction by looking up. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek turned that lens in an entirely different direction: down, to look at pond water and see the microorganisms living there. My job was to take the lens and turn it inwards to look at the gods inside of us.

Bad Books for Bad People Episode 9: Sax Rohmer Double Feature

Click here to listen to the podcast.

British pulp author Sax Rohmer built a career on depicting the threat posed to the Western way of life by the Demonic Other. His most famous creation, Dr. Fu Manchu, is infamous not just for the hideous violence he wreaks on his enemies, but also for being a dreadful racist caricature. This formula of depicting the horrors of the non-British enemy worked so well for Rohmer that he would revisit it numerous times, even substituting “Asian” for “feminist” when creating his sexy supervillainess Sumuru. In this month’s episode, Jack and Kate discuss the first Fu Manchu novel, Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu [1913], as well as the first Sumuru novel, Nude in Mink [1950].

What will they make of Rohmer’s brand of phobic suspense? Do any of the characters stop mid-action to grab a cozy fish dinner? How does the author use smoking to convey character? How much more awesome are Fu Manchu and Sumuru than the bumbling protagonists who attempt to foil their plans? Just how inept are British men in dealing with beautiful, sexually available women? Find out all this and more in this month’s episode of Bad Books for Bad People.

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 reading list.