We 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.
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.