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.

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: 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 for Bad People Episode 7: The Incal

Click here to listen to the episode.

After failing in his quest to find financing for his 18- to 24-hour-long film version of Frank Herbert’s Dune, Chilean-French filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo and Santa Sangre) partnered with French artist Moebius to create a science fiction graphic novel titled The Incal. This epic, first published between 1981 and 1988, takes its hapless hero John DiFool across strange galaxies while providing a platform for Jodorowsky to explore his esoteric ideas, which blend shamanism, the tarot, Freudian psychoanalysis, and theater. As you might gather, there’s a lot going on here.

Jack and Kate break down how Dune‘s DNA exists within The Incal even though its creators take the tale in a direction that’s far more madcap, alchemical, and… well, French.

Can a work of art succeed at being both serious and light-hearted at the same time? Why are women so goddamn allegorical? Is there such a thing as an unfilmable graphic novel? Who is Kill Wolfhead and why is he the best? Find out all this and more in this month’s episode of Bad Books for Bad People.

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


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.


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.


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.

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…


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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?


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.

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.

Around the Web: Feral House’s Finest, a Poetic Lady Spy, and Cradle of Filth Madness

Adam Parfrey

In “bucket list” news, I spoke to two of my favorite intellects of the American underground in February. Feral House founder Adam Parfrey chatted with me about his history in publishing, his instincts about what makes a compelling book, and how the current social climate might be creating the most frightening atmosphere yet for advocates of free speech. Read the interview on Heathen Harvest here.

voluptuous panic

One of the most important books in the development of my personal aesthetic is Mel Gordon’s Voluptuous Panic, an exploration of sex culture in Weimar Berlin. It’s a book I love so much that I’ve gifted copies to friends and have even had to replace my own much-loved, dog-eared copy. Imagine my delight when Mel agreed to sit down over drinks with me and talk about his incredibly colorful life and scholarship over the course of four dishy hours. Read the interview on Heathen Harvest here.


March’s Great Moment in Historical Sluttery concerns the career of Aphra Behn, Restoration Era author and spy.  When widowhood left her facing debtor’s prison, Aphra was able to find employment as a playwright for the two leading theaters in England, becoming one of the first women to financially support herself through her writing. Read about Aphra Behn on Slutist.


So there’s a Cradle of Filth comic book in which Oscar Wilde gets into a street fight. This should be enough to interest you in reading my latest piece on heavy metal comics for Nine Circles. Read March’s entry in my Stygian Imagery column here.

Around the Web: Mystical Art, Sappho in Weimar and Hollywood, and Black Metal


One of the beautiful things about working with Heathen Harvest is the fact that incredibly talented artists agree to speak to me about their work. I had the opportunity to chat with photographer Krist Mort about her stunning analog photography. Read the interview here: Craft and Meditation: The Photography of Krist Mort


Bryan Proteau, aka Cloven Hoov, is another artist I’ve admired from afar for quite some time. His stunning linework and mystical imagery consistently blow me away. Read more about the work of this talented, thoughtful individual here: Alchemical Linework: The Art of Bryan Proteau.


Feral House’s sister imprint, Process Media, continues to delight with their eclectic catalog that includes historical reprints, how-to books, music overviews. There was pretty much a zero percent chance I wasn’t going to be thrilled with their most recent title, Priestess of Morphine: The Lost Writings of Marie-Madeleine in the Time of Nazis, which covers the poetry and prose of the forgotten bisexual star of Wilhelminian and Weimar Germany. It’s like they plumbed my subconscious to come up with that title, for God’s sake! Read my full review on Heathen Harvest.


In other articles relating to notable queer women of history, I wrote about Golden Age Hollywood screen goddess Alla Nazimova for February’s Great Moment in Historical Sluttery at Slutist. More than just extravagant and beautiful, Nazimova was an accomplished talent who helped elevate other notable women. Oh, and he probably slept with both of Rudolph Valentino’s wives, if you want to get into the salacious stuff (which we all know you do). Read the article here: Alla Nazimova, Silver Screen Sappho.


I continue my exploration of heavy metal comics in my Stygian Imagery column at Nine Circles. This month, I highly recommend that readers check out Black Metal written by Rick Spears and Chuck BB. Don’t be a knucklehead like me and avoid it just because it’s about teens–it’s really great. Read my full review, in which I quote Venom lyrics to try to make some kind of point, somehow: Stygian Imagery: Black Metal by Rick Spears and Chuck BB.

Around the Web: Imperial Decadence, Predictable Violence, Metal Comics & Occult Fun

2016 has certainly started with a bang, and February holds some really exciting developments that I’m looking forward to sharing. For those of you looking for a handy run-down of what I’ve been up to, you’re in luck!


January’s installment of Great Moments in Historical Sluttery, my monthly column at Slutist, is probably one of my favorites so far. Roman Empress Messalina is a fascinating figure whose scandalous reputation continues to titillate audiences looking for tales of sexy intrigue. Short of the whole “getting executed for treason” thing, it’s pretty amazing to think that one’s insatiable sexual appetites would continue to be a topic of conversation two thousand years after one’s death. May we all be lucky enough to be the namesake of a German strip club. Read the article here.


On a completely different but also-controversial note, I reviewed Feral House’s spicy new release, The White Nationalist Skinhead Movement: UK & USA 1979-1993 for Heathen Harvest. SPOILER: Many people are punched; little is ultimately accomplished. This was a challenging read from a very different perspective than the majority of writing on the subject, though its 600-plus-page run length makes it a book geared towards the VERY curious. Of all of the exhaustive details, I think my favorite anecdote was the fact that Ian Stewart of Skrewdriver was used as a bogeyman to convince his friends’ kids to behave themselves.


Because I have friends who humor me perhaps a bit too much, I have a new monthly column at Nine Circles where I discuss heavy metal comics. My first installment of Stygian Imagery talks about Glenn Danzig’s Satanika. It’s exactly the sort of comic book that you’d imagine Glenn Danzig would write, in that it is full of tits and gore.


Lastly, but absolutely not leastly, my Art Coven sisters Becky Munich and S. Elizabeth brought together amazing artists and authors for their just-released Occult Activity Book and invited me to participate. If you’ve ever wanted Elizabeth Bathory paper dolls and Suspiria color-in pages, then boy howdy it is your lucky day! I’ve got my filthy hands on a copy of this and it is a creepy, cheeky good time. Purchase your copy here!