All Hallow’s Read 2013 (Day 22) – You Gonna Die, Fly

You Gonna Die, FlyWe opened this week with a super creepy, atmospheric family friendly spoken word story on vinyl called The Ride of the Headless Horseman (see All Hallow’s Read 2013 (Day 20) here). Today, I have a hilarious not-so-kid-friendly 32-page picture book called You Gonna Die, Fly by sister duo Elizabeth Massie and Barbara Spilman Lawson published by Fucked Up Folktales Publishing. Massie penned the story of Fly, a world-weary fly, after being inspired by all these fucked up folktales she was reading. And Lawson brought Fly to life, born from her dream of flying and admiration of the fly since they can do just that. This is a story for adults who will enjoy illustrated stories and, in particular, will enjoy a tale that takes a humorous look at life & death through the compound eyes of a fly. Although You Gonna Die, Fly looks like a children’s book – with the exception of the word “die” in the title and the cig hanging out of Fly’s mouth – there’s drug use, violence, and sexual content that is definitely not appropriate for kids. “Rated RG for Racy Insect Drawings and Gratuitous Profanity.” You’ve been warned.

This is the first time I’ve seen Lawson’s work, but her loveable lil’ characters compliment Massie’s story, and general asthetic, perfectly. You Gonna Die, Fly is a fine representation of the dichotomy of Massie. On one side, she writes some of the most disturbing scenes in horror fiction, but on the other she’s knitting sweaters and scarves in her spare time. There’s a thread of frightening sexual perversity in her stories, but she also draws these adorable pictures of zombie animals. While reading a Massie short story, my mom yelled out “what the hell is wrong with this bitch!?” (“Bitch” meant to be complimentary in regards to Massie’s ability to freak her out, naturally). Massie’s stories may cause readers to question her mental stability, but just like any normal Jane, she can often be found people watching at Starbucks with her buds, or as she likes to call it, The Bux. Even her nickname for Starbucks is cute! I’m guessing that Lawson too is a similar blend of wholesome sweetness and morbidity.

I wouldn’t typically define Massie’s work as “cutesy,” but You Gonna Die, Fly is simply adorable, but with black humor and cursing. Massie has paired her love of pleasant and cute with dark and disturbing before through her zombie art, but the picture-books-for-adults project is the best forum for her to display both sides of her artistic personality. Of course, it’s not all Massie. Perhaps without Lawson’s dream of flying we’d have no Fly at all. I look forward to seeing more of Lawson’s characters and the progression of this Fucked Up Folktales venture.

you gonna die fly illustration

Fly on drugs. Illustrated by Barbara Spilman Lawson

You can snag a copy of Elizabeth Massie & Barbara Spilman Lawson’s You Gonna Die, Fly from Fucked Up Folktales here. And if you enjoy that, be sure to grab a copy of their follow-up, Damn You, Demon. Or you can take advantage of their special holiday deal and get both for $26 with FREE shipping! And they’ll sign them however you wish. Each title is usually $14.50 + $3.50 for shipping so you can’t beat that deal.

Based on Fucked Up Folktales’ Facebook page there is a third book in the works which will be out in the not-so-distant future, so keep an eye on their page here to see what fucked up thing they’ll come up with next!

For more information about Elizabeth Massie’s work past and present visit her website here. To explore more work by Barbara Spilman Lawson you can visit her website Art With A Twist here.

-Meli

All Hallow’s Read 2013 (Day 21) – Johnny Gruesome

JohnnyGruesomeCoverMedallion

I have an excellent, must-have, can’t miss FREEBIE! for you Dreadites today. It’s the perfect tale for heavy metal zombie heads in varying stages of decomposition, Gregory Lamberson’s Johnny Gruesome. We have quite a bit of virtual space reserved for Lamberson here at Dreadful Tales and I think the majority of his work has been reviewed here, including Johnny Gruesome a couple years back which you can read in full here. But the reason I’m resurrecting this “headbanger from hell” today is, as I mentioned above, the eBook version for both Kindle and Nook is available for a limited time for FREE! FREE! FREE! Sorry, I don’t mean to “yell,” but this is worth getting excited for. 

Johnny Gruesome is a leather jacket wearing bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks, returned from the dead to give his enemies the what for in often creative and always nasty ways. This is the ghoul I envisioned when I heard the old 60’s cut “My Boyfriend’s Back” by The Angels. The biggest difference is there is some kinda sweetness to “My Boyfriend’s Back.” He’s coming back to save his lady from what we can only assume is a stalker. Did I interpret that wrong? Anyway, there is no sweetheart tale in Johnny Gruesome, as much as I love a romantic story; this is a rebel yell revenge tale.

johnny gruesome

I go into quite a bit of detail regarding the basic plot (sans spoilers) and characters in my review (again, you can check that out here), so I won’t rehash all the gory specifics again, but here a couple highlights of note: Johnny Gruesome is a back-from-the-dead revenge slasher story as opposed to the survivors vs. zombies ilk. Lamberson puts his filmmaking skills to work with his cinematic prose so the imagery comes easily keeping the pacing steady. Johnny Gruesome reads more like a comic book than a novel, without the pictures of course. There are some excellent illustrations by Zach McCain included in the hardcover edition from Bad Moon Books which you can try to track down here, but it will be for a pretty penny. I have my own copy and think it’s worth every cent, but if that’s not in your budget, you can pick up the free version. Just follow the links below and hurry because it’ll only be free for a limited time!

Kindle users can pick up their free copy here. Nook users go here for your free copy.

Check out the trailer for Johnny Gruesome here. And for more about the author visit his website at slimeguy.com.       

-Meli

All Hallow’s Read 2013 (Day 20)

Today, instead of a written tale I’d like to introduce you to an oral tale set to vinyl by the Haunted House Music Co. in 1986, The Ride of the Headless Horseman. It has been a family Halloween tradition for as long as I can remember to play this record all Halloween night while passing out candy to cute little ghouls, ghosts, and goblins. Once carried out by my grandma until she finally relinquished possession of her record collection passing the legacy onto me, still after 27 years, despite technological advancements in music, listening to The Ride of the Headless Horseman is a Halloween tradition that will never go out of style.

The best thing about the record is it can be enjoyed by the whole family. Of course, I loved listening to this story as a kid, but even as an adult I play this record to set the mood of the holiday. While it used to be tradition to play this on Halloween night, I’ve expanded on that and now spin this bad boy while putting out my Halloween decorations.

RideOfTheHeadlessHorsemanLPFrontMain-1Side 1, clocking in at 12:14, is the spooky narration of an adaptation of Washington Irving’s short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow set over atmospheric music and sound effects while side 2 offers 14:11 of a variety of isolated sound bites from the story, like the howling wind and screeching owls for example.

I searched high and low, but unfortunately have no name for the gentleman narrating this story. His rhythm and tone coupled with the sound effects give the story a haunting feel necessary to get you into the Halloween spirit, so it’s a shame I can’t put a name with the voice. The anonymous narrator’s voice bears a slight resemblance to the beloved and iconic Boris Karloff. Missing Karloff’s notable lisp and with an English accent not quite as thick, our narrator nonetheless has the low tone purposefully paced that is familiar and comforting but evoking suspense in the listener as well.

There is no CD that I have found of this particular recording, but if you have a turntable you can find used copies for just under 10 bones via Discogs or Amazon. If not, there is a full recording of side 1, which features the spoken word tale of the Headless Horseman, over at Adventure Amigos here. And just for the hell of it, here’s the Boris Karloff introduction to Black Sabbath. Let me know if you hear the similarities with our Ride narrator.RideOfTheHeadlessHorsemanLPBack

So, that is just one of the many rituals I engage in to get me in the Halloween spirit. What’s yours?

-Meli

All Hallows Read (Day 10) – The Crawling Abbatoir

Re-released this year as an ebook, Martin Mundt’s short horror collection The Crawling Abbatoir caught my eye by title alone. It is one I missed since the initial release in 1999. Thanks to twitter, and John Everson (author of our current book club pick, Violet Eyes) having written the introduction and designing the 2013 edition I’d have likely not run across it anytime soon. So, don’t make the same mistake I did. Pick this one up for All Hallows Read.

crawlingabattoir-500To praise ‘DWF’ and ‘My Love Is A Dead, Dead Rose’ would be nearly narcissistic. He writes like I think in these stories, so he hit a real vein with me right away. The rest of the collection is humorous horror and I am sure many will find the two aforementioned stories funny, but I was actually creeped right the hell out by them. Being a follower of serial killer and cannibal news may be getting to me. There are people out there that think like that! There have been for centuries! There likely have been people posting intimate personal ads looking for corpses! BUT GETTING RESPONSES!!

Yikes!

So, the rest of the collection is creepy and ooky and funny and spooky and a great laugh as much as it is full of terrible dark thoughts and raucous gore. I’d give this book to the class clown with the sick sense of humor. If you thought The Human Centipede was a comedy, you may like The Crawling Abbatoir. It would also make a perfect gift for the academic in your life that takes their horror far too seriously. This is what Lovecraft and Poe read in the outhouse, no doubt.

All Hallow’s Read (Day 8) – The Radleys

Have you ever found yourself wishing Twilight was a better story? Seriously. Having real modern vampires that hold jobs, go to school and have real friends? Not some crime fighting or ultra rich vampires. Not hyper-sexed or rock star vampires. Just real, bloodsucking freaks that do just that. Drink blood. And cope. And drive a Toyota. If have read or watched too many unsatisfying versions of this, pour a nice glass of The Radleys, by Matt Haig.

If you know a youngling that was a Twilight fan, since the fad has largely passed and they are likely a little older now, this would be a perfect All Hallows read.

Now, there is gore. There are touchy social subjects. It’s not necessarily a young adult novel entirely, though it is set partially in high school. There are enough adult situations (not porn) to balance out the flavour. Totally enjoyable to readers of any age, this would serve the chaperons of Team Edward well. I enjoyed the hell out of it, and fall into neither camp.

What sold me on this was the cover. Lo and behold, there are exactly one thousand cover versions to this book – well maybe a dozen – and here are a few to check out so you can see what I mean. Also, news-wise, The Radleys will be turned into a movie produced in part by the BBC.

While not exactly horrific, this one does entertain thoroughly. Extremely well written with doses of humor and strife peppered throughout, this is a must-have for the Dracula inspired bookshelf of your teen friends, your gothy soccer-moms, or your own well rounded and discerning palate.

The first cover pictured here is the one I fell for. Some are available in only the US or the UK of course, but any copy should be easy to find wherever books are sold for a nice Halloween gift.

All Hallow’s Read (Day 7) – Joyland

Have you read Stephen King before? I am amazed every time the answer is ‘no’. On the other hand, shouldn’t I be amazed every time someone who used to read every book he had has given up? I’m not. To each his or her own. There is always a watershed book that had a King fan fall off. I took a break after Wizard and Glass. Some people have not read a thing since It. I’m not sure why readers would draw a hard line against an author with so much to offer. Romance, crime, mystery, science fiction, coming of age, and horror can be found across his entire body of work. There really is a Stephen King book for everyone.

One of his latest books, Joyland, is an All Hallows Read for those who had given up on their favorite author. It is also for those who have never picked up a Stephen King book before. Now, I could recommend old standbys like Pet Semetery. I could go balls out and say read The Shining, but no. You had, what, an entire lifetime to read those? Let’s go with something new It’s short. As in, not 1000 pages. It’s catchy like a really good pop tune. Carnivals and ghosts… you can’t go wrong with that combination in Kingland! 

I’d buy this book for anyone who has not read Stephen King before. I would counter any former-fan argument with this book too. Not into his writing on women’s issues? This one is nice and balanced. Not into his brand of horror? Joyland is a spook story, a mystery. Not into romance? Well, this guy listens to a hell of a lot of breakup music. Not into aliens? No surprise greys here, folks. Not into the Dark Tower? Okay, I’d love to see where this one crosses over. Not into long fiction? Bam! Joyland.

Those who are not horror fans need not be alarmed. It’s not gory or something that will keep you up at night. His talent for getting under your skin is kicked down a notch. This is fun King. This is King chilling out on a long weekend. This is King Light.

For those who enjoyed creepy carnival horror like Laymon’s Funland, Something Wicked This Way Comes by Bradbury or It, this is for you. Jam packed with old and new carnival references, it’s as fun to read as it is to recall your first candy-floss enhanced trip through the spook show . 

One of us will be reviewing Joyland on Dreadful Tales eventually as two of us have read it. With all the Doctor Sleep buzz and books coming out for Halloween I wanted to talk about this one today so it doesn’t go in one door of this haunted house and never get out.

 

All Hallow’s Read (Day 6) – Goth: A Novel of Horror

Goth: A Novel of Horror, by Otsuichi (Hirotaka Adachi) is an All Hallows Read for goths. Or not. You see, it talks about death, murder, decay and longing… from the perspective of two teens with very dark hearts, but it’s not really about the subculture at all. A good thing too, since according to the Encyclopedia Gothica, a sure sign of being goth is that you claim to be not goth at all. Ergo; Goth is so totally not goth.

I’d buy this book for any of my horror loving friends who also love rainy overcast days and deserted cafes. Have you ever followed the news of a serial murder in the paper? Perhaps in high school you spent more time studying Jack the Ripper and Zodiac than you did, say, Harper Lee. If so, this one is for you.

Those who are not horror fans but enjoy literary slice-of-life works that delve into the psychology of awkward or dysfunctional relationships will enjoy Goth as well. It is about a serial murderer, after all.

Well, it is really more about the two high school students following the murders. One fits the modus operandi far too well, as a girl. Fits like a future victim. The other fits all too well into the lives of each – the girl and the murderer – due to his narrative.

For those who enjoy quiet horror told from a very calm and realistic point of view, any Otsuichi would fit, but Goth was my gateway drug. Told as a kind of serial anthology, each chapter is a story in and of itself. A novel digestible as brown leaves to a worm, you may find it sticking with you after. I did. And that, to me, is what good horror is all about. It crawls under your skin and whispers to you for days or weeks after. Not that it makes the shadows any darker, but this book sheds pale moonlight. Recall that scene in Fight Club where Tyler takes the ID of a young man and threatens his life, then has him run away? “Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessel’s life. His breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever tasted”? Well, that is how you will feel after reading Goth. You step into the shoes of Raymond K. Hessel without even knowing it. That is something few horror novels can make you feel – to feel like you survived, like you made it out alive. If it takes a lot to scare you, if the hatchet barely makes a dent and no amount of blood could drown you, try this one for Halloween.

I fangirl hard for this book, as seen on youtube. Find more on this book at Goodreads.