Friday, December 19, 2014

Merry Christmas M.R. James

It's not M.R. James' birthday next week but it is Christmas. And if James is known for anything, it's for his annual "ghost" stories that he would write and read aloud to the Chit Chat Club on Christmas around a fire. So in honor of the master of the ghost story, I'll be posting a full week's worth of monsters next week, including Christmas Day. 

You may notice I put "ghost" in quotes. That's because most of James' stories don't concern actual ghosts but demons, banshees, curses and unnameable horrors. His obssession with church architecture and the history of England add an undeniable sense of reality and place to stories where dark specters lurk in grim atmosphere. 

"At the opposite pole of genius from Lord Dunsany, and gifted with an almost diabolic power of calling horror by gentle steps from the midst of prosaic daily life, is the scholarly Montague Rhodes James, Provost of Eton College, antiquary of note, and recognised authority on mediaeval manuscripts and cathedral history. Dr. James, long fond of telling spectral tales at Christmastide, has become by slow degrees a literary weird fictionist of the very first rank; and has developed a distinctive style and method likely to serve as models for an enduring line of disciples."
H.P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror In Literature 


Friday, December 12, 2014


"There  was a skull beside it on the table. Except for a few clinging tatters of dried flesh and greenish fur-the other was bleached white by the sun-this skull was identical to Gradie's Japanese souvenir: a high-domed skull the size of a large, clenched fist, with a jutting, sharp-toothed muzzle. A baboon of some sort, Mercer judged, picking it up."

"'No,' Mercer said dully, glancing at the freshly typed label he had scooped from the table. 'He's boiling off the flesh so he can exhibit the skull.' For the carefully prepared label in his hand read: 'Kudzu Devil Skull. Shot by Red Gradie in Yard, Knoxville, Tenn. June 1977'"

"'They're little green devils,' Gradie raved weakly. 'And they ain't no animals-they're clever as you or me. They live in the kudzu.'"

"'Hiding down there beneath the damn vines, living off the roots and whatever they can scavenge. They nurture the goddamn stuff, he said, help it spread around, care for it just like a man looks after his garden. Winter comes, they burrow down underneath the soil and hibernate.'"
Karl Edward Wagner, Where the Summer Ends

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Happy Birthday Karl Edward Wagner

This Friday is Karl Edward Wagner's birthday. To celebrate, I'll be posting a creature from his amazing story Where the Summer Ends. 

Wagner was a strange dude. He started off his professional career as a psychiatrist but then became known to the weird fiction world for his anarchistic biker attitude and appearance. 

His short story Sticks is known as one of the best Mythos stories, his Kane character is widely accepted as one of the best anti-heroes in the sword and sorcery genre and he's responsible for excising L. Sprague DeCamp's clumsy attempts at continuity from Howard's Conan stories and restoring them to the original text. On top of all that he was also known as a fantastic editor, having helmed  The Year's Best Horror for 15 years.

He's also full of great quotes

On choosing content for YBH:
" I play no favorites with authors. Big Name Pro has the same shot as first story small press writer. I’ve run stories by Stephen King, and I’ve run stories by writers who may have never written another story. I have maintained this attitude for fifteen years as editor: No taboos. No holds barred. No free rides. Excellence required. Whiners piss off."

On why horror is so popular:
That question does get asked a lot and I've thought about it a lot and I know the answer. Because it's sex. It's dirty, smutty stuff, there's subliminal messages hidden in there. If you read Frankenstein backwards.... (applause/laughter) So now you know. If you take close ups, photographs, I've seen this done, of simple words in these horror books, you can see suggestive shapes and poses. The paper on which these things are printed has been imprinted with a subtle aphrodisiac. If you turn the pages you're already a lost soul."

On Lovecraft:
"To my mind, what’s im­pressive about Lovecraft is his profound cosmic negativism: the idea that mankind is confronted by horrors that are completely beyond his comprehension, forces against which he is powerless, and when he begins to realize these horrors exist, they inevitably destroy him."
Karl Edward Wagner interviewed by Dr. Elliot, July 1981


Tuesday, December 9, 2014


"There was a monstrous creature encased halfway in the solid ice. It had large unlidded eyes, milky white; its mouth wide and round, its scaled flesh reflecting light dully. Where its neck might have been was a ring of purplish pustules, circling the fusion of its ichthyic skull to its tendonous body. Chunked squid limbs lay outstretched, uncontrollable in its death."
Simon Strantzas, On Ice

Monday, December 8, 2014

Happy Birthday Simon Strantzas

Tomorrow is Simon Strantzas birthday and to celebrate I'll be posting a drawing of a creature from his short story On Ice from his collection Burnt Black Suns.

Toronto based, Strantzas has written four collections thus far and the praise for them is astounding. I've only read two (Cold To the Touch and Burnt Black Suns) but I loved them and plan on reading the rest. He's also edited two collections, Aickman's Heirs (out next year) & Shadows Edge.

Up until now, the birthday posts I've done have been older, mostly dead, authors. But if there's one thing (aside from monsters!) that I'd like to do on this blog, it's introduce people to modern authors that are upholding the traditions of the weirdos we all know and love from the 30's. Right now, there is a huge boom of great, interesting and diverse horror fiction. My Nyarlathotep project is another way I'm hoping to help spread the word about these folks (at some point I'll post my reading list from this year). But if you haven't read any of these modern authors, I honestly can't recommend them enough.

Friday, December 5, 2014


Hey everyone! Just a quick update about next week. 

There will be TWO birthday posts for two of my favorite weird fiction authors. 
One current and one past, both really awesome.

After that there will be a little break before I post the new M.R. James monsters during Christmas week.

Two of Alan Brown's pieces from his zine I See A Shadow Coming in the M.R. James pack

And just a heads up. If you want an M.R. James pack and you want it to arrive before Christmas, now's the time to order. There are only SIX copies left. You can click the link in the previous post or go to the Yog-Blogsoth Store.

Friday, November 21, 2014

News...part 4

Today is the biggest news of my news week. I may have hinted at it before but I'm going to start a "zine label" or more appropriately a "publishing haunted house" called Seventh Church Ministries. The idea is to ask artists whose work I love to illustrate weird fiction stories and I'll help 
print/promote/distribute them.

The inaugural book will be Alan Brown's I See A Shadow Coming based on the stories of M.R. James.  I should actually say all the stories of M.R. James. Alan did over 30 gorgeous pieces covering every single one of James' published works. His paintings are eerie and unsettling, reminding one of Stephen Gammell, Virgil Finlay or "Ghastly" Graham Ingels!

 Alan's illustrations of An Evening's Entertainment and The Wailing Well

Since James is known for his Christmas ghost stories, it's only fitting that I See A Shadow Coming will be available just in time for the holidays. It will also be full of bonus materials. The package will not only include Alan's 8.5"x 5.5." zine, but a mini edition of Illustro Obscurum with my versions of 10 M.R. James monsters and a stunning full color print by Jeanne D'Angelo depicting the creature from James' chilling story The Treasure Of Abbot Thomas!



 A detail of Jeanne D'Angelo's illustration of The Treasure Of Abbot Thomas

There will also be a few handmade "artifacts" and three additional posters by Alan Brown. I really can't wait for this. Stay tuned for more info next week!