My Top Ten Favorite Bands

April 4, 2012

More than anything else, I get asked who my favorite bands are. You’d think it’d be what my favorite books are or my favorite horror movies but, nope. I’m constantly being asked who I listen to. For some reason, people always assume I’m into metal. Sorry, you won’t find any metal on this list but a bunch of punk, ska, and reggae.

10: Rancid

 

9: The Specials

 

8: The Night Gaunts

7: Crass

6: Fucked Up

5: Mad Conductor

 

4: Leftover Crack

 

3: Chumbawamba

 

2: The Mighty Mighty BossToneS

1: The Clash


My Thoughts on SOPA and What You Can Do

January 18, 2012

I wrote an article over at Bizarro Central about SOPA and what you can do about it.

Click here to read it.


New Article at Bizarro Central

July 27, 2011

I wrote a new list of the top eight comics I’d recommend to a bizarro fan. Check it out.


World Horror 2011 Report – aka one of the greatest weeks of my life

May 11, 2011

From April 26th to May 2 I was in Austin, TX for the World Horror Convention. I’ve been wanting to attend World Horror since I was in high school and after many years, I was finally able to. When I was just a student obsessed with sex and gore, I never imaged that I would be attending not only as an author but also representing Deadite Press.

Before the event even started, the Austin Post did an awesome write-up on me.

The Eraserhead Press team, Rose O’Keefe, Carlton Mellick III, Cameron Pierce, and myself, flew down two days before the con started. As soon as we stepped off the airplane, we rented a car and drove straight to the nearest brewery – cause that’s how Eraserhead rolls. We had a few drinks and talked to some friendly locals and got the lowdown on the city.

We drove to what we thought was our hotel but we were informed that we were at the wrong Double Tree. Then we drove to the next one, which was also not right. On the third try and at 3 a.m., we finally found the place we were staying. The hotel felt so bad for us that they upgraded our room to a suite for the entire stay and we got one free night and free internet. Sweet!

The next day was spent gathering what any decent party room needs – booze, and lots of it. We ordered a few kegs and bought a ton of hard liquor. We had our books shipped down in advance, so now Eraserhead had everything it needed to rock.

That day we were joined by bizarro authors Kevin L. Donihe and Andersen Prunty. In the evening, many of the guests began to show up including Brian Keene and Jack Ketchum. Many drinks were had – the con hadn’t started but the party did.

Bev Vincent, Lee Thomas, and the Eraserhead crew enjoy some drinks before the chaos starts

Thursday was the office first day of the convention. We set up our table in the dealer’s room and got down to business:

Rose O’Keefe behind the Eraserhead/Deadite Press table

After selling books and blowing minds for a few hours it was time for that night’s events. Carlton was on a panel about what happened in the 2000’s in genre fiction and Rose was on a panel about how much money writers and publishers really make. I hear the panels went well but I missed them. I was chilling out at the con suite party with S. G. Brown, Chad Savage, the awesome people from Creeping Hemlock Press, and many others.

Nate Southard, Chad Savage, and Rose O’Keefe ham it up

The most exciting part of the night for me was getting to sit down and talk with Nate Southard. Recently I read his amazing hardcore horror novella “Just Like Hell.” After tearing through it in one sitting I knew I had to have him be apart of the Deadite Press family. While the party raged, we found a quiet room and hammered out the details of him joining. I’m pleased to announce that Nate is now officially a Deadite Press author and his first book, the above mentioned “Just Like Hell,” will be his first release. Watch for more info soon.

After being up way too late, I took a nap and was then up for Friday’s festivities. The day started off with an Editor/Writer meet and greet that I was taking part in. While all the other editors tried to look professional and respectable, I chugged coffee and cursed at everyone while explaining the Eraserhead/Deadite philosophy of publishing – namely, putting out the coolest shit that no one else would dare touch. Then I gave advice one-on-one to some of the aspiring writers there. It was pretty awesome meeting so many dedicated and intelligent people who want to get involved in the genre. The future of horror is looking bright indeed.

That night was the official Deadite Press party, we had a party every night but this was the big one. Immediately before the event Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni did a reading. I made sure to catch that.

Mary SanGiovanni and Brian Keene with their respective vices – Sweet Tarts and Beer

Rose kicked off the party with a brief introduction and then I jumped on top of a bed and went into full carnival barker mode. I had the pleasure of announcing three new releases for Deadite Press that we accepted at the convention:

-“Suburan Gothic,” the first Brian Keene exclusive to Deadite Press. Yep, it’s a sequel to “Urban Gothic.”

-“Son of a Bitch,” a brand new novella by Wrath James White and Andre Duza

-Nate Southard joining Deadite Press and his first release “Just Like Hell.”

Then Keene replaced me on the bed and did a short speech about the future of the horror genre and the passing of torches in the scene.

I ended the speeches with a simple proclimation – “Let’s get fucked-up!” And everyone did. It was a glorious night.

Me sitting on Wrath James White’s bicep

I woke up Saturday hung over and sleep deprived, but that’s what being a pro is all about. I chugged a lot of coffee and then was ready to rock. My first major activity of the day was a panel about the future of the book. I was joined by Kim Glichrist, Sarah Langan, Robert Fleck, Joe Hill, and Fred Venturini.

L to R – Fred Venturini, Robert Fleck, Me, Kim Glichrist, and Joe Hill being all knowledgeable and shit

The panel was a lot of fun. I’m commonly put on these “future of the industry” panels at conventions. While many express concern over the where things are headed, I argue that we are entering a new golden age of publishing and books. With the advent of the internet, social networking, and POD, independent publishers, such as Eraserhead and Deadite, can take risks and compete on the same level as the major New York publishers.

Then it was time for the people who signed up to pitch books to Deadite Press. So far with Deadite I’ve sought out all the authors that I want to work with. This was the first time others were seeking out me. I met four talent and motivated young authors. Will any of their books be added to the Deadite family? Who knows. I do know that I was the only publisher to bring bottles of beer for everyone pitching. Take that Random House!

That night was the mass autograph signing. This was another one of those OMG! moments. My first World Horror and I was sitting between Carlton Mellick III and Kevin L. Donihe signing copies of books. It was one of those crazy moments where I realized how far I’ve come since being a stupid kid dreaming in high school.

Me and Kevin L. Donihe pretending to be famous writers

The only thing that sucked about the signing was the crazy woman who decided to stare at me from five feet away without talking for a full hour. At one point she even came to my table, got down on her knees, and stared at me from a foot away. I tried talking with her and then getting rid of her but it was a no go. She only left when I went on a break. When I came back she was gone and I never saw her again. I later asked everyone else why they didn’t help me but no had noticed her. Actually, that’s not true. Donihe had seen her but, as he put it, “I was just happy she didn’t notice me.” Thanks.

John Skipp with the two best horror anthologies of all time

That night, we let Thunderstorm Books use our room to throw a party. Much beer was drunk and Kelly Owen tried to steal my jacket.

Sunday was the final day of the con, thank God. By this point I was so sleep and food deprived that I’m not sure how I stayed on my feet.

Our table on the last day. I can only blame unholy powers for me still standing

Most of the guests and attendees left throughout the day on Sunday. After we packed up our stuff, the Eraserhead crew decided to venture out into the city of Austin. Normally, at these kind of things, I only ever see the inside of the hotel, so I was really excited to actually be able to see some of the city I was staying in.

First up was Chicken Shit Bingo. Yep, you can tell we were in Texas. The premise is simple, a big board set up like a bingo board is put out on a pool table with a chicken coop on top. Everybody bets on a number and whichever number the chicken shits on, the person that bought that number wins all the money. We drank some beer while a country band, Two Hoots and a Holler, played. Outside the bar was an impromptu potluck with dogs and small children running around. It was one of the most awesomely redneck things I’ve ever taken part in.

The chicken deciding who’s going home with money

The owner feeding the chicken to help it along

Me endorsing the chicken

After that, we went exploring around Austin. I have heard many times before that Austin and Portland were similarly strange cities. Let me tell you, that’s one hundred percent true! Holy shit was Austin an amazingly strange and cool city. Check out some of this awesome stuff we saw:

Then we all enjoyed some tasty Texas BBQ.

After filling our bellies, we headed back to the hotel where we closed out the Dead Dog Party (a convention tradition of finishing up all the available alcohol.

The next morning, before checking out of the hotel and flying back to Portland, we were all hanging out on our room’s balcony. We looked over the edge and saw the single most perfect image of the entire convention. Something that perfectly summed up our wonderful week in Austin spreading the bizarro and Deadite gospel.

The horror, the horror . . .

Special shout-outs to everyone that made the week amazing including: Brian Keene, Jack Ketchum, Kelly Owen, Bob Ford, RJ Sevin, Tod Clark, Paul Goblirsch, Nate Southard, Wrath James White, John Skipp, Shane McKenzie, Kevin L. Donihe, Andersen Prunty, Jared Walters, Chad Savage, Weston Ochse, James Beach, Vince Churchill, Joe Lansdale, Joe Hill, S. G. Brown, Lee Thomas, Nick Mamatos, and all the old and new friends that I may be forgetting.

Super huge thank you to Ben Vincent, Boyd Harries, Chad Savage, Joe McKinney, Lee Thomas, Nate Southard, Nick Mamatos, and everyone else that worked so hard to make this one of the very best conventions I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending.

Special thanks to Rose O’Keefe, Kevin L. Donihe, Brian Keene, Chad Savage, Gina Renee, and anyone else I stole pictures from.


Top Ten Movies of 2010

January 5, 2011

10: Repo Men (Miguel Sapochnik, USA)

The splatter film of the year! This movie just gets stupidly gory and it’s not even a horror film. I love seeing extreme violence in movies that are not directly horror related. If it wasn’t for the extremely frustrating ending (we’re talking Haute Tension level stupid here), Repo Men would be in my top three.

9: Exit through the Gift Shop (Banksy, USA)

Love him or hate him, Banksy is one of the most important figures in modern art. I personally love him, and this documentary, his first foray into commercial film, is part of the reason. He is frequently accused of being a fraud and all hype. His response was to make a film detailing just how easy it is to be a professional art fraud.

8: The Expendables (Sylvester Stallone, USA)

I really wasn’t expecting to like this. Normally, mainstream action films aren’t to my taste but this one sounded too stupid to pass up. Almost every American action star of the past twenty years makes an appearance, but the real reason to see the movie is the non-stop gore. It opens with a man’s torso being blown clean off and the stabbings, shootings, and head explosions never let up until the end credits.

7: The Last Exorcism (Daniel Stamm, USA)

The mockumentary subgenre has been well mined for the past couple decades and, it seemed, the supply of fresh ideas for the format had been exhausted. I went into this film not expecting much but instead got one of the best crafted horror films of the year. The movie is constantly moving in unexpected directions and features some of the most inventive onscreen scares I’ve seen in years.

6: The Loved Ones (Sean Byrne, Australia)

Funny, freaky, gross, and scary. The movie starts off with a premise that seems a bit silly, and it knows it. The first half hour has a lot of pitch-black humor but then things quickly change once the knives and power-drill come out. It’s a shame that there is no U.S. release lined up yet.

5: Frozen (Adam Green, USA)

Three friends stuck on a ski-lift after closing time. They’re one hundred feet above ground, no one will be around for six days, and there’s a blizzard coming. I love movies detailing a group of people trapped in one location and this is one of the most thrilling takes on that set-up I’ve ever seen. This is one of the least violent movies on my list but when this movie shows you its teeth, it will shock you.

4: [REC] 2 (Jaume Balaguero, Spain)

This is everything a sequel should be. It picks up immediately where the first movie left off and takes the viewer on a wild ride that is more violent, thrilling, and stranger than the first film. Note: seeing the first REC is essential to making any sense of the sequel.

3: Monsters (Gareth Edwards, USA)

Holy shit! The U.S. finally made a good giant monster movie! A lot of people complained that the monsters weren’t onscreen enough in the movie but I didn’t mind. I always wanted to see a giant monster movie from the perspective of the people on the ground and this did everything right that Cloverfield got wrong.

2: A Serbian Film (Srdjan Spasojevic, Serbia)

There is finally a new film that can claim the title of “most extreme movie ever made.” Don’t take that as an endorsement, it’s a warning. We’re talking some serious fucked up shit being depicted onscreen in shockingly explicit detail. You have to be really into sick shit (like me) to enjoy this movie. For fans of Cannibal Holocaust, Salo, and Nekromantik.

1: Kick-Ass (Matthew Vaugh, USA)

This blew my fucking mind! I consider this movie to be the best superhero/comic book related film ever made. Extremely funny, extremely inventive, and extremely violent. It’s everything I want to see. Kick-Ass takes everything you expect from a superhero movie and turns it upside down while stabbing you in the kidneys. I can’t recommend this movie enough. If you haven’t seen it yet, stop whatever you are doing and run out and buy a copy. Also, buy a six-pack while you at it.


My Top Ten Eraserhead Press Books of 2010

December 13, 2010

or, The Year in Review

I originally wanted to do a list of my top ten fiction books of the year, but then I realized almost all of the fiction I read was either published (or will be published) by Eraserhead Press or one of its imprints. Working as an editor and writer leaves me very little free time for reading. What free reading I have done this year was mostly comic books, nonfiction, and books from previous years. So I thought I’d take a different approach to the list.

Here are the top ten books published by Eraserhead Press (or one of its imprints) that made an impact on me. This isn’t what I think were the best books written this year. These are just the books that meant the most to me. 2010 was an insane year for Eraserhead Press. Forty-three releases and three new imprints. This list acts as my personal year in review.

The books are in order of release:

Super Giant Monster Time! by Jeff BurkThe first release in 2010 by Eraserhead Press was also my second book. It’s meant to be a tribute to those old choose your own adventure books that I would read when I was a kid – just with all the hardcore violence that I wished was in them. This was a special project to me because I got to work with long-time friend and bizarro artist Chrissy Horchheimer. When we first met six years ago in college, I never imaged she would be illustrating my second book. Fun Fact: We are working on a new book together, Dinosaurs Attack!, look for it sometime in 2011.


A Hundred Horrible Sorrows of Ogner Stump by Andrew Goldfarb – Andrew Goldfarb is an amazing renaissance man. He plays in an one-man band, writes novels, and writes/draws his own comic series. When hunting for creators for Shark VS Badger, Eraserhead Press’ comic book imprint, Goldfarb was the first on everyone’s list. His work is fantastically imaginative and combines David Lynch, Tim Burton, and voodoo within the comic book medium. Fantastic and sadly overlooked in the bizarro scene.


Brain Cheese Buffet by Edward Lee – 2010 saw me becoming Head Editor of Deadite Press, Eraserhead Press’ cult horror fiction imprint. The first release I oversaw was this collection of Edward Lee’s most extreme stories – most of which had been out of print for years. Lee is one of my all time favorite authors. Nobody delivers obscene sex and violence like him. He was also very supportive of me at the very beginning of my writing career. To now be in the position of publishing his work and making his hardcore stuff available to a wider audience is a dream come true.


The Kobold Wizard’s Dildo of Enlightenment +2 by Carlton Mellick III – In addition to reading splatterpunk collections, my High School years were spent playing Call of Cthulhu, Magic: the Gathering, and, of course, Dungeons and Dragons. Apparently, Carlton wasn’t that different than me. This is an amazing tribute to all those caffeine fueled RPG binges from when you were fourteen. Carlton even went as far to create maps, notes, illustrations, and more to really create that class AD&D feel.


Night of the Assholes by Kevin L. Donihe – After Carlton Mellick, Kevin Donihe was the next bizarro author that I first got into. Every one of his books is amazing, weird, and beautiful. His newest novel is a parody of “Night of the Living Dead” (also one of my all-time favorite movies). This is easily Donihe’s funniest book and, for the Donihe newcomer, the book of his I would recommend the most.


Zombies and Shit by Carlton Mellick III – Getting to work with Carlton Mellick everyday has been one of my favorite perks of being on the Eraserhead Press team. You never know when it’s time for spontaneous drinking, video game marathons, or J-Pop dance parties. While he wrote Zombies and Shit, I had the privilege of reading the book as he wrote the chapters and give feedback. It’s a really amazing experience to be able to see one of your favorite writers create a book and to see their process. From brain-storming, all the way to drinking and celebrating the printed novel.


The Flappy Parts by Kevin L. Donihe – It’s no secret that I love the work of Kevin L. Donihe. One of his books is already on this list and I have published him several time in the Magazine of Bizarro Fiction. I was first exposed to his poetry in issue 5 of Bust Down the Door and Eat all the Chickens. At that point I had only read The Greatest Fucking Moment in Sports from the orange Starter Kit. The poems really spoke to me much more so than any other poetry I have read. Finally, Lazy Fascist Press has released a collection featuring a large chunk of Donihe’s poetry output.


The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction #4 guest edited by John Skipp – When I was in High School, Skipp’s Book of the Dead anthology series made a major impact on me. They were my first exposure to modern hardcore horror fiction. Skipp was also the first editor I became a fan of. His name on a book became an immediate seal of quality. Words can’t describe how thrilled I was when he asked to guest edit an issue of The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction. The issue upholds Skipp’s reputation as an awesome editor. He managed to gather some of the top names in bizarro and horror fiction and get them deliver some of the weirdest and best stories you will ever read.


Whargoul by Dave Brockie – When Deadite Press started taking off, we knew we needed some more authors and books. Carlton suggested I try getting Dave Brockie (most famously known as the lead singer of GWAR). About ten years ago, he was supposed to release Whargoul via Eraserhead Press but the project fell through. I looked it up and it turned out the book still had not come out. After a few emails, I got the manuscript and now, this December, you can finally read this amazing novel of war crimes and demons.


The Bizarro Starter Kit (purple) – The first two Bizarro Starter Kits where my introductions into the bizarro scene. I’m proud to say many of the authors from them are now my coworkers, friends, and family. I’m even prouder to say that I was one of the ten authors selected to contribute to the third volume of the series. When I first started getting serious about writing I would, for my own egotistical indulgence, imagine what my profile in a starter kit would look like. This year, I got to stop dreaming and actually write up that profile.


Christmas on Crack edited by Carlton Mellick III – I really hate Christmas. The holiday, and the celebrations that go with it, strike me as gaudy and crassly consumerist. When Carlton told me he wanted to do a Christmas anthology, I jumped at it. I called dibbs on doing a Frosty the Snowman story. I had no idea what I wanted to do to him, I just knew he needed to go through Hell. I’m really happy with my finished story, “Frosty and the Full Monty,” and I think Frosty got what he deserves. Fun Fact: my mother is obsessed with Christmas. She doesn’t know this story exists. She would not be amused. Shhhhhhhh, nobody tell her.


Stop Being Boring

May 25, 2010

A GUIDE TO GIVING GOOD READINGS


I hate readings, I really do.

Well, maybe I should say “I hate the traditional idea of readings.” The concept of a writer standing before a silent audience reading from a book or manuscript fills me with dread only equitable to high school math – “how the hell am I going to stay awake for this?”

When writers have public appearances they frequently choose to read from something they already have had published or will be published. The idea is that it is what the audience wants to hear – like a band playing their hit singles. But while music is designed to be heard and nothing is lost from the transition from recorded to live, books are meant to be read. Most writers do not design their work to be read out loud but to be read in private where the reader can allow themselves to be sucked into the literary world.

One time I saw Brian Lumley (world famous horror author) read. I was excited because I had heard much about the man and his writing but had never been exposed to any of his work. I thought seeing him read should be a nice introduction. He’s been a professional writer for decades – surely he knows how to keep the audience entertained.

I sat front-row center and Lumley introduced the short story of the evening. Then he started to read in a dry, old-man monotonous voice. Within five minutes, I was passed out in my chair. Forty-five minutes later (forty-five fucking minutes of that!?! I don’t know who Lumley thought would be interested in hearing forty-five minutes of boring monologue), I woke up to Lumley finishing. I sheepishly fled the auditorium.

Moral of the story – many pros don’t even know how to put on a good show.

What should my goal be for a reading?

Before we go too much further, let’s address what the goal of a reading should be. I’ll be upfront with you – I’ve never sold enough books at a reading that made doing it a financial benefit. Normally my profit (and much more) is drunk away during celebrations later that night. But just thinking in financial terms is so small.

I think of live events not as money-makers but as fan-makers. Every time I have performed (except for the time cops shut me down, but that’s another story), I came away with at least one person who was blown away by my performance. Those people, even if they don’t buy a book from you, are your real pay. They will talk about you to their friends, they will post about you on the internet, and – when they see your books in the future – they will buy them. They are your real fans and they are the difference between being just another small press writer and being an author with a cult following.

What makes for a good reading?

Your performance should be an extension of your writing. The main idea you should be trying to relate to your audience is what does it “feel” like to read your work.

For my book Super Giant Monster Time! I host a live “game show” where I dress members of the audience up as giant monsters and have them smash cardboard buildings. Mykle Hansen has a bear safety slide-show for Help! A Bear is Eating Me! Kevin Shamel does a puppet show themed around Rotten Little Animals that plays with the cuteness and violence of the book in a live setting. You don’t even need to specifically reference your book. Carlton Mellick does the Brutally Evil Satan Show that is nothing but non-stop retarded evil and Cameron Pierce has done performances where audience members battle with raw meat.

What all these performances have in common is that they relate to the audience, in a live environment, what reading the books are like. The performances are funny, shocking, and in-your-face – just like bizarro books.

In the early eighties there was a UK punk band named Crass. They had a philosophy towards their live shows that every performance should be a unique event – it should be something that every audience member would remember for the rest of their lives. To achieve this they wore “uniforms” on stage, had elaborate video/light shows, and never played in clubs or bars but instead played in squats and public parks.

You don’t have to be that strict (I don’t recommend performing in public parks) but Crass’ basic idea is one you should take to heart – approach every reading as an opportunity to make an impact on the audience. Blow their minds. Make your performance what they’re telling all their friends about for weeks to come.

Make an impact.

OK, that’s all well and good, but do you have any specific advice?

Keep it short Ever hear the concept “always leave them wanting more?” Take it to heart. It is much better to keep your performances as short as possible while still packing a punch. Ten to fifteen minutes is a good amount of time to introduce yourself, put on a show, and leave with the audience feeling both satisfied and wishing it lasted longer. Once you get to the half-hour mark, unless you have a really mind-blowing performance, you’re going to start to lose the audience.

Design your performance with the audience in mind – Not all audiences are equal. The crowd that shows up to a night of performances at a dingy bar is going to have different expectations than the crowd that shows up for an art gallery opening. Some artists believe the audience should adapt to the art but that philosophy is for people who don’t know how to be interesting. You should know how to be interesting (and if you aren’t interesting – fake it). Use that to the best of your advantage.

Ideally you should come up with several performances that you can pull from depending on the environment you may be performing in. Bars and house parties should have fun shows that aren’t serious and don’t require too much concentration from the audience. Art galleries can support shows that are more avant-garde and challenging. At bookstores, the audience is going to want to hear more about your book than a silly performance.

Make it multi-media and/or use props – Engage as much of the audience’s senses as possible. Remember you have a captive crowd. You can use sound, slide shows, cardboard props, puppets, costumes, “plants” in the audience, video you made beforehand – the possibilities are endless. The more of a show you make the more it will stick in your audience’s mind.

Get out there in front of people – We all know that authors appear at bookstores and libraries but you can also perform at house parties, bars, comedy clubs, art galleries, concerts, street fairs, coffee houses, conventions, etc . . . Perform in front of crowds that have no idea who you are. A good live show can win over an amazing diverse set of people. You want to be a cult author? Well, you’re going to need readers out there and form your cult!

Have a drink before – Or two or three. Seriously. You’re a writer, so chances are you have some kind of social anxiety (don’t worry, we all do). A few drinks before a performance can loosen you up and get you a bit relaxed before being in front of the public. Hell, Carlton Mellick and myself make drinking part of our actual shows.

Don’t get fucked up before – Know your limits. It’s good to be a little loosened up but it’s bad to be drunk. There are few things more embarrassing than having to watch a performer that is too fucked-up to be in front of crowd. Don’t put your audience through that. Save it for your after party.

Be Prepared – Have something prepared in advance and get feedback on it if possible.  Having a small audience of friends or family respond to your performance ahead of time can yield helpful criticism. Don’t overcomplicate things. Make sure you have control of all of your props and sound, it’s always better not to rely on other people for stuff unless you are dealing with other professionals. Be aware that things might not go over exactly as you planned and just have fun with it.

Note: All the pictures are from actual “readings.”


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