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Saturday, 30 July 2011


Ladies and gentleman, allow me to introduce to you a comic that scared the shit out of me when I was a kid. It's not by Marvel, or DC or some other known comic brand. It's not something that was intended for mature readers. It's not violent, or gory. Well, not exactly. But first, a little providence:

1987. A new toy line had recently appeared called SuperNaturals. They were like Visionaires, in that they were action figures whose main gimmick was that they used holograms. But these were better than Visionaires because they were more monstrous! I had an evil knight called Burnheart - his 'normal form' (when you turned the hologram one way) was a really ugly man. A scarily ugly man, in fact. Turn him the other way and his 'true form' revealed itself - a hideous fire demon-thing. His shield had a similar scary face in it. I thought it was ace, of course. So when a comic came out all about the SuperNaturals I had to get it!

However, what I did not count on was the truly terrifying story hidden inside entitled THE DOLL. The gist of the first part went like this: a young boy moves in with foster parents. They're still recovering from the death of one of their own children. The new boy stays in the dead son's bedroom. He finds an old trunk on top of the wardrobe, manages to open it, and finds a really ugly ventriloquist doll. Upon showing it to his foster parents, they freak out because it belonged to their dead son. The dad forcefully takes the doll from the young boy and chucks it in the bin. The last two panels have been branded upon my memory ever since: dad comes back inside holding his hands, which are visibly marked. His wife asks if he's okay. He replies, something along the lines of, "It's the strangest thing, but I could have sworn the doll scratched me as I threw it in the bin." The final panel shows the top of the doll's head as it starts to clamber out the bin.

That's creepy, right? And this was in a comic for kids my age (8, at the time)! For a while now, I've been trying to find out more about this comic, ideally to get hold of a copy, because it's one of those things that absolutely, definitely sent me down the horror path. And every time I've remembered THE DOLL it still gives me shivers so it has to be as freaky as I remember...hasn't it?

The thing is, try googling 'THE DOLL SUPERNATURALS COMIC' and it's slim pickings indeed. But, after much searching, I've finally picked up a copy of the SuperNaturals comic! Issue 4, to be precise. The weird thing is, there's no mention in the comic itself of who wrote/drew any of the artwork/segments. Some, bizarrely, were "written" by readers (I don't know if this was a piece of genius marketing or commonplace back then, asking your audience to write the very product they're buying). You do have to wonder about quality control, if this was the case. And just how old these kids were who were sending the ideas in. When you see this latest part I think you'll agree that the young mind behind it probably wasn't quite all there. On a sort of side note, there isn't a comics code logo on the cover, which suggests the reason why they could get away with publishing THE DOLL. Either that, or the publishers honestly thought little kids wanted to read about the worlds most terrifying doll (if anyone's thinking 'CHILDS PLAY', that didn't come out till 1988, so SuperNaturals kind of got the jump on people there).

Anyway, the section about THE DOLL really is significantly horrific for a comic bought by children. Here's a taster:

That first panel's a little cheesy, sure, but it's still sinister - a good bit of B-Movie fun. But you've got to agree that image above is pretty gross! And wait until you get to the last few panels of THIS segment...! It insinuates something that I'm pretty sure even kids would guess at. Brrr!

But enough teasing. Here's THE DOLL, 'episode 4'! Click the links to read! You *might* get asked for a password, in which case it's skull4hands

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


My Amazon Author Page has now been updated! Why not go take a gander and BUY SOMETHING I'M IN?  Yeah, I'm talking to YOU!


JOB 41:11

When I was at school in Australia, I read pretty much the only poem I've ever 100% loved. But, all I could ever remember about it is the line "The kraken has awakened". And I remember this line because my friends and I used to pronounce it as "the cracken has awackened" - this was one of the funniest things in the world to our ten-year-old sensibilities. I also remember doodling, in red ink, a kraken attacking a ship at the top of my lined A4 piece of paper, right next to the title 'The Kraken'.

Now, thanks to the wonder of the information superhighway, I've found the actual text:

Jack Prelutsky

Deep beneath the foaming billows
Something suddenly amiss,
As a creature wakes from slumber
In the bottomless abyss.
And a panic fills the ocean,
Every fish and frenzied flea,
For the Kraken has awakened at the bottom of the seas.

It rises to the surface
With an overwhelming noise,
And it hunts for mighty vessels
Which it crushes and destroys.
Then it chokes a great leviathan
With one stupendous squeeze!
Oh, the Kraken has awakened at the bottom of the seas.

How it lashes, how it thrashes,
How it flashes, how it flails,
How it dwarfs the greatest fishes,
Even dwarfs the mighty Wales.
Nothing living in the ocean
Can enjoy a moment’s ease,
For the Kraken has awakened at the bottom of the seas.

In searching for this poem, I also found the same-titled poem by Tennyson:

Lord Alfred Tennyson

  Below the thunders of the upper deep;
  Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
  His antient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
  The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
  About his shadowy sides: above him swell
  Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
  And far away into the sickly light,
  From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
  Unnumber'd and enormous polypi
  Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
  There hath he lain for ages and will lie
  Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep,
  Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
  Then once by man and angels to be seen,
  In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

I like this one too, although not quite as much. I think the first poem (which is from 1976) has more power, but the second (which is from 1830) has more atmosphere. With Prelutsky's, I can clearly picture a creature, a beast, so monumentally huge that even "a great leviathan" (itself supposedly the largest creature on the planet) can be destroyed by it. Just how big IS his 'Kraken'?! That sounds smutty. Heehehe!


Tennyson's, on the other hand, is of a size so large it's part of the very ocean bed, perhaps (STOP IT!). There is also something Lovecraftian about his Kraken, even if this might be an obvious observation ;)

Both poems have filtered into a piece I initially started writing as a mad last-minute dash to answer this impending sub call but is looking more like it's not going to be finished in time. Plus, even though 'war' is a theme in it, I'm not entirely convinced it will actually involve war...although the implications of what the main character discovers will certainly suggest that something terrible is on the horizon and getting closer with every passing day.

I have titled the story THE THIRD WAVE. I was aware this phrase had Nazi connotations, though I wasn't sure why or how. So I found this interesting article and had a good ol' read. This particular bit struck me as especially coincidental: 

As his Strength Through Community lecture ended, he created a class salute by bringing his right hand toward his right shoulder in an outwardly curled position, resembling a wave.  Jones named it the Third Wave, and - despite its similarity to Third Reich - claims he borrowed the term from beach folklore, which holds that the last wave in every series of three is the largest.

I'm not going to go into any more detail about this just yet, but I did wonder if it's "right" to name a story after something that, technically, doesn't come into use until after the events of the story - even if the story doesn't directly reference the phrase...ie 'the third wave' came about in the Sixties, and my story's set in the late Forties and makes mention of the Nazis, but has more in common with that bolded line above then the actual experiment. Maybe it doesn't matter? I'm not sure.

What I will say is that, perhaps as obviously as the Tennyson/Lovecraft 'link', the Bible has some solid gold lines in it for inspiration. In particular, the sections about Leviathan and Behemoth, two gigantic and formidable creatures. Particularly Job 40:15 to 41:34:

 15 “Look at Behemoth, 
which I made along with you 
and which feeds on grass like an ox.
16 What strength it has in its loins, 
what power in the muscles of its belly!
17 Its tail sways like a cedar; 
the sinews of its thighs are close-knit.
18 Its bones are tubes of bronze, 
its limbs like rods of iron.
19 It ranks first among the works of God, 
yet its Maker can approach it with his sword.
20 The hills bring it their produce, 
and all the wild animals play nearby.
21 Under the lotus plants it lies, 
hidden among the reeds in the marsh.
22 The lotuses conceal it in their shadow; 
the poplars by the stream surround it.
23 A raging river does not alarm it; 
it is secure, though the Jordan should surge against its mouth.
24 Can anyone capture it by the eyes, 
or trap it and pierce its nose?

Job 41

 1 [a]“Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook     or tie down its tongue with a rope?   2 Can you put a cord through its nose     or pierce its jaw with a hook?   3 Will it keep begging you for mercy?     Will it speak to you with gentle words?   4 Will it make an agreement with you     for you to take it as your slave for life?   5 Can you make a pet of it like a bird     or put it on a leash for the young women in your house?   6 Will traders barter for it?     Will they divide it up among the merchants?   7 Can you fill its hide with harpoons      or its head with fishing spears?   8 If you lay a hand on it,     you will remember the struggle and never do it again!   9 Any hope of subduing it is false;     the mere sight of it is overpowering.   10 No one is fierce enough to rouse it.     Who then is able to stand against me?   11 Who has a claim against me that I must pay?     Everything under heaven belongs to me.
 12 “I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs,     its strength and its graceful form.  13 Who can strip off its outer coat?     Who can penetrate its double coat of armor[b]14 Who dares open the doors of its mouth,     ringed about with fearsome teeth?   15 Its back has[c] rows of shields     tightly sealed together;   16 each is so close to the next     that no air can pass between.   17 They are joined fast to one another;      they cling together and cannot be parted.  18 Its snorting throws out flashes of light;     its eyes are like the rays of dawn.   19 Flames stream from its mouth;     sparks of fire shoot out.   20 Smoke pours from its nostrils     as from a boiling pot over burning reeds.   21 Its breath sets coals ablaze,     and flames dart from its mouth.  22 Strength resides in its neck;     dismay goes before it.   23 The folds of its flesh are tightly joined;     they are firm and immovable.   24 Its chest is hard as rock,     hard as a lower millstone.   25 When it rises up, the mighty are terrified;     they retreat before its thrashing.   26 The sword that reaches it has no effect,     nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.   27 Iron it treats like straw     and bronze like rotten wood.   28 Arrows do not make it flee;     slingstones are like chaff to it.   29 A club seems to it but a piece of straw;     it laughs at the rattling of the lance.   30 Its undersides are jagged potsherds,     leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge.   31 It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron     and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.   32 It leaves a glistening wake behind it;     one would think the deep had white hair.   33 Nothing on earth is its equal—     a creature without fear.   34 It looks down on all that are haughty;     it is king over all that are proud.”
  1. Job 41:1 In Hebrew texts 41:1-8 is numbered 40:25-32, and 41:9-34 is numbered 41:1-26.
  2. Job 41:13 Septuagint; Hebrew double bridle
  3. Job 41:15 Or Its pride is its
Again, I repeat that Leviathan is a terrible beast, that inspires fear and awe. If something this powerful can be defeated by the Kraken, how more terrible and fearful and HUGE must that be...? And what would it be like to actually witness something this monstrous as it rises, roaring, to the surface?
But then again, the Leviathan was possibly a crocodile, and Behemoth may have been a hippopotamus or elephant...and if those things can be made to sound as terrifying as they do in the Bible, imagine what something like THIS could have been described like:

Friday, 15 July 2011



Just rocketed a bunch of stories off via email to various markets. Some of which were previously rejected (but nicely, and typically because they didn't quite fit whichever place) but I haven't given up hope on them yet, by gum! They include The Future Is What We Say It Is (a politics-heavy sci-fi piece, which're two things I don't really write about much), Black Mountain (a Lovecraftian 'unseen horror' piece, which I do like writing, but this time I actually kept the 'monster' off-screen), Papa Crow (one of my fav and best-received [by my peers] pieces, but still homeless) and Fresh Meat for The City (a quite frankly bizarre mash of Lovecraft and noir that was initially written for an anthology that's never taken off the ground).

I'd like to tweak and send more off but it's getting close to my bedtime, I want cake, and I now have my Xbox back online and Sky Go is calling me with all its wonderful on demand films and programs.


Thursday, 7 July 2011


Well well well. The arts education collective I'm a part of has its first two "Hello world, here we are!" events/workshops this weekend - full details HERE! If you happen to be in the area, pop by and say hello. I'm the one who isn't a woman.

Finally sent AOT5FB off to the publishers, so the only antho I'm working on now is THROUGH THE WORMHOLE (with Bill Tucker). It still needs formatting and artwork, but I'm confident this'll be sorted in the not-too-distant future.

I've just about finished my 7303 qualification, too - I've been doing this as an evening/night class since February, so it'll be nice to have it all sorted and get some more free time back. Once I've got it officially, I'll be able to teach in what they call the "post-16 sector" ie college and adult education.

So, after this weekend I'll finally finally finally have some time to get back on with my own writing, properly. I've mentioned before about feeling like I'm *almost* dragging my heels sometimes, but I do have quite a few stories waiting to be published, so it's not all bad. Not having the internet on my own PC is a massive ballache, though - I have to transfer files across to my housemate's laptop if I do any subbing/editing/etc and that takes up a small, but significant, amount of time every time I have to do it. Not to mention, it's her laptop so I can't hog it haha I was hoping to have the internet for myself by now, but a certain ISP *cough SKY cough* can't get their arses into gear and send me the equipment I need. But that's another story, and a somewhat boring one.

So long for now, freaks!

Saturday, 2 July 2011


You can have a nosy at the cover art for Attack of the 50ft Book right HERE!

Not only does the cover monster clearly stand above fifty feet in height, but the book isn't 1000 pages long. I hope no one calls trading standards on me.

AOT5FB features stories from CHARLES M. SAPLAK, MURRAY LEEDER, BEN GODBY, LORNE DIXON, SUZANNE ROBB, J. T. RIFF, JOHN MICHAEL MARTIN, NEIL MORRIS, STEVE RUTHENBECK, KLAUS MUNDT, CHARLES DAY, MATT ADAMS, BRANDON CRACRAFT, BILL BIBO JR., PATRICK FLANAGAN and MICHAEL C. LEA and has a wide variety of giant monsters on show, from Godzilla-style mutants, to Lovecraftian deities, to colossal animals, to arcane horrors. Something for everyone, then ;)