In Laymon’s Terms Edited by Kelly Laymon, Steve Gerlach, and Richard Chizmar

From Cemetery Dance:

This massive, oversized tribute anthology for Richard Laymon features short fiction and personal remembrances from dozens and dozens of the biggest names in horror and Laymon’s biggest fans.

In addition, there are more than one hundred pages of “Rarities and Fan Favorites” from Richard Laymon’s personal files — stories, interviews, and more, including a 17 page photo album personally selected by Ann Laymon. Several of these rare pieces were scanned directly from Laymon’s original manuscripts and contain his handwritten corrections.

Featuring more than 600 pages of fiction and essays written in honor of the man, author, and friend, In Laymon’s Terms is personal, moving, and wildly entertaining. This is a unique hardcover that would have made Richard Laymon proud.

Richard Laymon is the most respected author in the genre.  This is a very simple and a very bold statement but it is also a statement that I believe to be completely accurate.  Listening to authors talk about Laymon is like listening to veterans talk about a sergeant who saved his entire platoon because of his selfless devotion to the cause.  The love they have for Richard Laymon is genuine and boundless.  I’ve even spoken to authors who may not necessarily care for his style but they are quick to add that, as a person, Dick was in a league of his own.  His love for the genre and his peers was unparelled and the man never took his success for granted.  Simply put, he was a class act.

Cemetery Dance did a fantastic job with this book.  The look and  feel of the book is absolutely breathtaking and it does the memory of Richard Laymon supreme justice.  The amount of material presented within the covers is staggering and every word of it drips with the love and adoration for a man who was criminally underrated by a few and insanely loved by many.

The beauty of this wonderful Cemetery Dance release is that it will appeal to Laymon devotees, as well as non-fans equally.  Sure there are stories here that could have easily come directly from Laymon’s pen (Keene’s Castaways and Smith’s Pizza Face) but there are a great abundance of tales that channel the spirit of Laymon without bearing much resemblance to his style (Ed Lee’s Chef).  A great deal of credit should be given to Kelly Laymon, Steve Gerlach and Richard Chizmar.  These are the editors who realized that there are genre fans out there that may not care for the Laymon style but are very curious about his impact on the genre and they did a wonderful job putting that on display in this collection. The stories range from despicable in the case of Torres’ Bestiality, to humorous in Piccirilli’s New York Comes to the Desert, to flat-out brilliant with Little’s Meeting Joanne. Every story really seems to take a theme present in Laymon’s work and exploit it to the fullest.  The quality of work in this collection is amazing, as every story is memorable and executed impeccably.  This is one of those rare collections where there really isn’t a weak spot to speak of.

Then there are the remembrances.  Ah yes, the remembrances. There is no way I can adequately explain the emotion evoked in these heartfelt essays.  For many of these writers, this was the opportunity to formally say goodbye to a friend that was taken from them too early. The magnitude of emotions displayed here will have your heart in your throat and tears streaming from your eyes.  There is no way around it. The recollections range in tone but all are a testament to the fact that Richard Laymon was a great mentor and friend to many. The reader will feel slightly voyeuristic as these authors lay their souls on the paper.  These essays are really that powerful.

As a complete Laymon nut, the real highlight for me was the inclusion of actual Laymon works that I have never read.  Reading Laymon’s dedication to pipe smoking in his short lived zine, ‘Smokers Blend’, was an absolute treat, while dissecting some poems from a college aged Laymon was more fun than I’ve had in awhile.  These are the real draw for the Laymon fan and make this collection well worth the price.  It adds a certain sense of validity to those years of clamoring about in used bookstores trying to find the Headline edition of In The Dark or selling various organs to afford that copy of A Writer’s Tale on eBay. This collection proves that we weren’t the only ones going crazy over the writings of Richard Laymon.

This is a most fitting farewell to a man who deserves to be appreciated in the same way that people appreciate names like King, Barker and Bloch.  His writing was mean and gritty with a subtle undercurrent of brutal humor which made his style so damn unique.  More than any other writer, Richard Laymon sucked me into the world of genre fiction and, based on the brilliant display of emotion in this gorgeous collection, I am not the only one.

To Fight With Monsters by Michael Oliveri and Brian Keene

A one-shot comic based on a short story that appeared in 4×4 by Mike Oliveri and Brian Keene? Drawn by American Manga artist Ben Dunn?

YES PLEASE!

When humanity rapidly devolves into a monstrous state, teenager Rick Donovan joins his fellow townspeople in makeshift trenches to defend their homes. However, the monsters may already be among them…

This story reeks of modern horror in its themes and intense, unbridled sense of… wrongness… if I may use that word. The subject matter at hand is brutal, and so far from what one would automatically thing this little story is about. It is, in fact, about monsters – but who and what the monsters are is left completely to the reader to find out. In fact, I’d say that that there are more monsters present in this than the average reader would admit. It’s just a matter of opinion as to how you would define the word.

As for the storytelling aspect of this comic, the line is completely blurred as to who wrote what part, and whose idea was whose. Oliveri and Keene are both experts in the field of spinning an intense yarn, and yet both have their own immediate voice. These differences are blended brilliantly in the short story, and even more fully realized in the comic book format.

As stated above, the subject matter in quite strong. Even I had to take a moment to wonder how these two authors could bring themselves to “go there”. It’s no wonder that these two are so well respected in the horror genre. They’re ballsy, daring, and unafraid to bring the story to a level that will make the reader uncomfortable, if only to make him look inside his mind, and try to figure out where exactly he stands.

The art in this issue is incredible. Ben Dunn really does a killer job with the inks, bringing every squirm worthy moment to the front. The reader absolutely no choice but to confront the horrors within, right there on the page. In all, I’m really impressed with the whole thing.

As for where to get it, you can grab yourself a copy from Antarctic Press, online retailers like Things From Another World, and your local comic book store. Or, y’know, you could just ask me. I have 3 extra copies.

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So here’s how we’re going to do this. There are two ways to win:

– First, I want you to go grab yourself a copy of Mike Oliveri’s The Pack: Winter Kill at Amazon. Do that, and I’ll send you a copy of To Fight With Monsters for free! (You’re going to have to email me proof of purchase in the form of a receipt or Screenshot of your finalized purchase). Remember, there are only 3 copies… so act fast.

– Second, well… you’re going to have to fight it out with the Facebook fiends. That’s right. “like” our facebook pages, and you could win a copy of this badass comic.

Again, there are only 3 copies to give away. So act fast. The first choice will automatically get you a copy. The second…we’ll, like I said, you’ll have to fight it out.

Winners will be announced when the copies are gone. The entire Dreadful Tales Staff will be gone until August 3rd, so hold tight. Send us an email, and we’ll get back to you when we return.

C.

The Pack: Winter Kill by Michael Oliveri

Anyone who’s followed me over from Paperback Horror will remember when I said this:

You have to be dead not to dig this book. That’s right. Dead.

It still rings true to me. You have to be dead, insane, or have no taste at all to not dig this book. After reading, re-reading, and basically worshipping this novel as one of the best werewolf stories to be offered up in modern genre fiction, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is absolutely no better paced story about werewolves out there. Hell, this one sits high on my list for “best book ever”.

I’ve stopped my search for the best of fur themed fiction. This book is my werewolf mecca. So, in honor of one of my favorite books, I’m re-posting my review of The Pack: Winter Kill from Paperback Horror, with some touch ups and modifications.

What you see before you is one of the most incredible mixes of crime, action, and the supernatural that you can ever lay claim to reading. To say that this is the best example of how cross genre writing should be done would be an understatement. Between Greg Lamberson and Mike Oliveri – the bar has been set.

When tourists are murdered in a resort town in the Northern mountain range in Minnesota, FBI Special Agent Angela Wallace is called in to investigate. But what she finds tests her training and sanity, for what she discovers should not exist.

The above synopsis does not do justice to this book whatsoever. It doesn’t even hint at the intensity that Oliveri has produced throughout this story. Every action sequence and plot point in the story, where we find the characters planning their next move, is coated in massive amounts of tension and suspense. It’s this style that drives the book along, making it something of a quick and exciting read, but also supremely satisfying in the end.

The characters in this novel are tight and more or less not people that you can identify with. That being said, I’m going to go further out there and say that they’re more like those that you wish you could be (assuming that everyone has an action filled fantasy or two in their head). Every single one of the characters is written in a larger than life way that is reminiscent of the greatest comic book styles. This was a welcome break, for me, in that they’re not something I had to get too attached to – giving me more time to focus on the masterful storytelling that was taking place. The characters blended into the scenes so well that everything – the whole plot, characters, dialogue and settings – all kind of melded into one another, creating one giant, adventurous, literary version of an excited whoop, that you’ll ever read.

It should also be said that The Pack: Winter Kill has crime novel written all over it, but the reader would be mistaken to judge it on that alone. When the book reaches it rollicking crescendo, the author brings out the gore like nobody’s business. Oliveri has an incredible talent for setting up scenes that are not only satisfying, but are also emotionally charged, in that you’re sitting at the edge of your seat waiting for everything to play out. It’s then that he brings out the big guns and gives you exactly what you came for – be it a terrific scene featuring police and procedure, the supernatural eeriness of a winter landscape, or an all-out gorefest at the hands of a terrifyingly powerful werewolf. Whatever your want, I’m pretty sure that this book has you covered.

Make sure you check this book out. It is one of the most satifying reads I’ve ever had.

You can pick it up at Amazon in Kindle and trade paperback formats.

Also, look more news about The Pack and the impending series of graphic novels and prose novels to come, at Mike Oliveri’s website – The Malice Engine. You can also contact him on Twitter and on his message board which is hosted at The Keenedom (registration required).

Stay tuned tomorrow for not only a look at the comic book adaptation of the short story – To Fight With Monsters – by Mike Oliveri and Brian Keene, but also a chance to get your hands on one of three copies.

C.