Perilous Press Blog

August 22, 2021

The News From Beneath Rock-Bottom

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — doktrhonky @ 5:10 pm

Gridlocked concept art by Fufu Frauenwahl

Funny how you only start to see how little horror movies really teach us about life when your life starts to feel like a horror movie.

Nearly everything that’s happened this summer has left me deeply unstable and unable to trust anyone or even my own feelings, but also rediscovering the fragile joy of being alone and able to work. The pursuit of happiness only became irrelevant in the pursuit of survival. I made a grave mistake in trying to use a relationship to fix my life, only to rediscover that you can’t trust anyone else to do it with you. I’ve been shown you have to do it alone before you can hope to attract someone who’ll do it with you. But if you can do it alone, what do you need anyone else for? These questions have me wondering if any relationship I ever had was a “real” one, or if a real one is possible for me or anyone but the very luckiest of mutants. In casting about for solutions, in recognizing myself as not the victim but possibly the suspect and the villain in all I’ve done so far, I’ve realized that it’s too late to start over, so I’m looking for new and healthier ways to find joy and success where I can, and double down on my shit.

To wit:

Skin Crawl, a bold reboot of the classic horror comic anthology format by infamous street artist SKINNER, has crushed its Kickstarter and is almost ready to roll. You can still back it and get some amazing merch in the bargain, and Skinner’s got such a big megaphone, he may not need to resort to the degrading gauntlet of traditional comic distribution. He wrote and drew the first issue, but I’m stepping in with a sticky fistful of horror, sf and fantasy scripts starting in #2, and we’re talking to some of the best sequential artists in the biz about bringing them to life. I’m more excited about this project than I’ve been about anything in quite some time, and not just because it promises to actually happen…

New Maps Of Dream, a phenomenal anthology I coedited with the late, great Joe Pulver, is finally slated for release this fall from PS Publishing. It’s taken six long years to bring this glittering net of dreamy fish to market, but it was worth it. I only wish Joe could’ve seen it…

Gridlocked is finally getting its e-book release from King Shot Press next week, and the reasons for the delays there are far less dramatic. Our lives fell apart and we were tired, and nobody was urgently bugging us to do it. But in the interim, it occurred to me to try something fun with it…

So much of modern urban horror is seemingly arbitrary in terms of who it happens to… you’re the 1,000,000th lucky customer who gets eaten… and while the punishment should thematically fit the crime, it seems to matter very little which nondescript urban worker drone finds their way into the trap. But it should…

“Gridlocked” is the story of a guy who picks up a hitchhiker and becomes entangled in that poor fucker’s dire circumstances. Among other things, it’s about how any random encounter can change your life, how suddenly someone else’s trauma and trouble can become your own. But obviously, what happens will play out very differently, depending on who it happens to. The original protagonist was very loosely based on myself, as the story grew out of an incident that happened to me. So I revisited the story with a lady with her own problems, goals, gifts and flaws, and followed where she went. While it might not strike anyone else as a worthwhile experiment, I learned a lot about the choices we make our characters make for the sake of the story, and the choices we should let our characters make for themselves. And more, it’s forced me to reconsider whether to be a hapless character in my own story or the author of myself.

We’re all in this alone. And yet…

““The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.” –James Baldwin

April 28, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — doktrhonky @ 12:42 am

Lord Foul’s Brain

Six months into the blackest anhedonic depression I’ve ever experienced, and I’m learning to adapt, because I can’t hope it’s just going to go away. The most useful metaphor I’ve found for what I’m going through is leprosy. Your nerves are dead. You can’t feel anything beyond the vague weight and pain of being buried alive in a rotting body. You go through life slowly and carefully and every so often, you conduct a quick survey to see if anything is bleeding, broken or on fire. You try not to advertise your condition, because nobody wants to be around a leper, but you can’t keep up the pretense that you can feel things like normal people do.

Most of all, you have to accept that this is what’s left of your life now, and you’ll never get better.

At least, that’s what it feels like.

If you’re wondering what the hell the title’s about… in Stephen R. Donaldson’s epic bummer Thomas Covenant series, the titular character is a modern-day leper who gets magically healed and transported to a wondrous world of magic that hails him as its savior; but Covenant is so committed to the ugly reality of his disease that he can’t accept the magic. To do so would be to hope, and thus set himself up for disaster when he woke up from what must be a dream. His unwillingness to believe leaves the reader frustrated and disgusted as Tom refuses the play the role of the Chosen One, and then commits a monstrous rape. That’s the worst part about grief, that it deforms us until we can’t hope for, or even perceive, a way out. Until we become the monster we’re running from.

Everyone is coping with depression, apathy and soul-deep fatigue right now, and many have lost much more than I have, but none of that makes a dent in it. When you’re down this low, the gravity of your own sadness is too great to admit any light or allow any empathy. I was already coasting on fumes with the pandemic and miscellaneous tribulations, but in pursuing this dream of making what a substitute teacher makes off his writing, I’ve lost just about everything and everyone I was fighting for. My brain and my heart are broken. I’m doing the work, but no closer to feeling anything but emptiness and regret. Are any extremities crushed, burning or broken? All of them…? Carry on.

The great fantasist and screenwriter Charles Beaumont famously said, “Success in Hollywood is like climbing to the top of a mountain of manureto pluck one perfect roseonly to discover that you’ve lost your sense of smell.” But what do you do when you lose your sense of smell, and you’re still at the bottom of the shit-heap?

It’s tough for anyone to fake it, but we’ve all had to. Smiling at customers when you’d ratherbe curled up in a coffin of your native earth. Going through the motions of a job or a hobby or a life you can’t begin to enjoy. But when your job is writing, it’s on you to deliver the reader from all that toxic mummery and shoehorn them into a world anda skin they’ve never seen before. A place they’d rather be so badly that they’ll willingly peep it through the keyhole of words on paper.

It’s a job like any other and, as the King said, you’ve got to do it even when it feels like you’re shoveling shit from a sitting position; but if the love isn’t there, the reader’s going to wonder what they’re getting paid to read it. If the empathy isn’t there, if you’re not showing them what it’s like to be somebody else and leaving them with a deeper understanding and compassion for their fellow humans, you might as well be writing ad copy (or a self-pitying blog).

A lot of writers and artists have made legendary careers out of turning their grief inside-out or sharing their burnt-out empathy circuits with similarly damaged readers, but manymore simply shut down, gave up or cracked up, and never wrote again. What littlework I can turn out right now isso steeped in psychic poison that I don’t trust myself to put it out there. I can’t trust anything or anyone, least of all myself. Constantly checking to see what’s burning or broken, because I can’t feel it. The news, books, movies, art. Stuff that should reduce me to tears only induces a vague guilty tug of absence, a feeling like I should be feeling something. I recently heard the sound of my own laugh and it scared the shit out of me. This trapped, sickly sound that escaped my chest left me on guard not to let it happen again in front of people, lest they contract my mental leprosy.

I don’t want to be a self-loathing sad bastard or a leprous grief-guru, and art that squirms with pain and grief doesn’t exorcise it for me any more. The pulp existentialism of cosmic horror feels like a luxury item, a Not Of This World sticker on the bumper of an Escalade. I’m trying to dig out of all that darkness, not package and export it. I want to feel something good again. I want to make others feel something good, when I can’t feel anything at all.

Just about the only thing that’s given me any joy, the only thing I can feel at all lately,has been music.

My excellent friend Gretta Anderson and I somehow bamboozled the good folks at Freeform Portland into giving us a biweekly radio show. Freeform is the kind of glorious mutant oddity that could only thrive in a place like Portland. They let you play almost literally anything, the station is reflective of and responsive to its community and champions the most marginalized and overlooked. It’s the kind of thing that makes me wish I still lived there, and I feel guilty as hell broadcasting remotely from exile in Southern California, but it’s the only thing I’ve been doing that feels good.

You play the right song on the radio and you’ve changed the nature of the day for someone, somewhere. You’ve helped them breathe a little easier in traffic, you’ve reminded them of a sweeter time or whisked them away to a waking dream or given them an idea or an emotion that could have come from nowhere else. You check your limbs and find that while one is still broken, another is still burning and yet another has been missing for you don’t even know how long, but one of them is holding a beautiful, fragrant flower. You can’t smell it, but you can share it.

I have to remind myself, even lie to myself, that there is a way out. A way through. No way back to what and who I was, because that’s all gone… but maybe a way to live, and that will have to be enough. If you’ve read any of my fiction, you know that my characters are always fucked, but they never give up. It would be a fitting Rod Serling twist if I ended up trapped in a story, undone by much less fucked up stuff than I’ve callowly thrown at my fictitious victims. But no matter how much I might feel it, might even want it, this can’t be the end.

Not asking for help here or trying to infect you with it; if you’ve been there or know someone who has, and you see me shambling down your street and I’m selling my words, maybe like and share the news even if you don’t buy one. Share them with someone who might feel them like music.

And would it kill you to tune in to Bionic Exotica the second and fourth Monday from 6-8PM on

June 17, 2020

Outside Uncle Sam

Filed under: Uncategorized — doktrhonky @ 4:20 am

Charles Samuel Hansen (1951-2020)

My uncle Sam died yesterday, just twelve days short of his sixty-ninth birthday. While it’s usually said of people who pass at his age that he had a full life, Sam pretty much missed out on every stage of life that comes after puberty, and seemed to live less than anyone I’ve ever known. But he taught me as much as my mother about the world and how to live in it, and to always give better than you got.

My mother raised me alone while starting a teaching career, so I spent a lot of time with Sam. To even a small child, Sam was clearly not a normal adult, but in almost every way that would matter to a child, he was better. He would take you to Jack In The Box and let you go swimming right after, he watched cool stuff on TV, and never told you to go to bed. Even if you were standing on his shoulders, playing his head like a bongo, he never, ever lost his temper.

Gentle almost to absence, he spoke like a cheap man sending a telegram, as if someone was charging him by the word, until he thought you were safe, and then he never shut up. He had an encyclopedic mind for trivia and a wry, dry sense of humor. He was never heard to laugh out loud, but he loved a good joke, and to make him smile was a memorable achievement. Only then could you get a sense of how much this evasive sphinx craved and treasured human contact, if only on his own terms.

Because Sam seldom left the house, family, television, machines and books were his universe. A hulking, painfully shy man who drove a scary primer-white van in the 70’s, he checked nearly every box on the serial killer personality survey (and bore an uncanny resemblance to infamous oedipal spree killer Ed Kemper), but was a gentle giant who never hurt a fly and toiled tirelessly to care for bees. He kept an observation hive in his kitchen for their honey and disassembled automobile engines on his coffee table. He knew everything about every character actor on every show that would come on the TV, all their past works and scandalous secrets.

He was an effortless mechanic with a passion for motorcycles and a genius for improvised repairs. If it was broken, Sam could fix it. Averse to human contact and utterly terrified of women, he sought safe harbors where he could hide and attain mastery. He watched Jeopardy religiously and knew every answer that didn’t involve popular culture after 1990. We used to joke that he would be theJeopardyGOAT, if only we could get him to compete without realizing he was on the show.

A compulsive collector, Sam would bring over odd toys, comix or curios he encountered while haunting thrift stores and swap meets. I remember him handing me a portable transistor radio he’d found at Goodwill, that transformed in his hands into a submachine gun with the flick of a hidden switch. He gave me a Creature From The Black Lagoonstatuette he picked up somewhere that became my totem, the center of the shrine of my childhood, and later, a tattered paperback copy of Hodgson’s Boats Of The Glen Carrig. Together, we watched Saturday Night LiveTwilight Zone,Disasterpiece Theater, Barney Miller, Rockford Files. Without thinking about it, Uncle Sam curated my whole aesthetic.

Only much later did I learn how the tragically happy accident of Sam came to be. Long before autism or Aspergers were common diagnoses, Sam showed signs of being different––emotionally withdrawn, consumed with objects and utterly at sea with people. He was not quite ten when his parents divorced; my grandmother’s second husband relentlessly terrorized him until he began wetting the bed, whereupon the stepfather forced Sam to wear his wet underpants to school. Around the same time, my great aunt’s husband molested him during a couple sleepovers. He was petrified and told only my mother about it, but they were afraid to tell anyone else. Sam’s emotional clock was smashed by trauma and stuck in the last innocent blush before puberty.

Sam worked in his father’s sandwich shop as a delivery driver until it was bulldozed to make way for condos, and later helped out at the True Value hardware store my grandmother’s third husband owned. Some summer nights, we’d get lawn chairs and Cokes from the soda machine and watch the movies playing at the neighboring Campus Drive-In from the roof of the sawmill.

Later, he struck out on his own, in his uniquely weird fashion, living in a trailer and prospecting for gold in Wildcat Canyon. If he ever found any, he never told us about it. As long as you didn’t make too much noise while he was listening to Paul Harvey, you were free to ride his jury-rigged dirtbikes or ogle antique nudie magazines where the models’ genitalia was airbrushed out, which was far more disturbing than the unconcealed real thing.

He drove trucks for my great uncle’s freight line in Long Beach for a while, and seemed happiest, then. His lonely nature was elevated by this heavily negotiated foray into the world. He had adventures, stories and long, peaceful interludes of safe solitude on the road. When that family business was also dissolved, he parked his truck at my parents’ house, unable to let it go, but equally unable to face asking someone who wasn’t family for a job.

He was like a ghost that haunted our family, always showing up last to clean up leftovers at every holiday gathering. Whenever something broke or somebody needed a ride somewhere, Sam never said no. All of us used Sam while kidding him about his weight, his shyness, his hoarding, and like the Giving Tree, he always gave what he had.

When my first marriage ended in 2006, I moved in with Sam in his house in Del Cerro, the sleek upper-middle class suburb where my grandparents had lived. The sprawling four-bedroom suburban house quickly became the eyesore of the neighborhood as filled in with Sam’s derelict cars and debatable treasures, and in his loneliness, Sam had moved from collecting broken things and trash to collecting broken people. I didn’t complain at the time, because I was one of them.

While Sam had migrated from Paul Harvey to Rush Limbaugh and huffed reactionary political bullshit like unfiltered cigarettes, he surrounded himself with the people his radio mentors warned him against––Ricardo the radical Chilean Socialist, the Pacific Beach Hare Krishnas, the scary beardo dressed all in white who periodically squatted in our backyard. He clung with childish tenacity to racist opinions like a wet electric blanket that alternated cold comfort for shocks of irrational fear, but they somehow never stopped him from offering help or friendship to anyone who could handle his weirdness. In his own weird Sam way, he evolved beyond his prejudices and became a true humanitarian.

It also wasn’t until his last years that he ever had anything like a romantic relationship that we knew of, albeit with a dipsomaniac former softcore porn star and mud wrestler who drank three meals a day and was looking for a place to die and someone to look after her chihuahua. We joked darkly about the odds that when, not if, she died in that house, Sam wouldn’t try to mummify her and add her to his collection. Whatever Donna’s issues, Sam cared deeply for her and took care of that chihuahua for the rest of its life.

I wrote a story about my time staying with Sam, “Inside Uncle Sid” (originally published as “Uncle Sid’s Collection” in Dead But Dreaming 2) that I glibly described as ninety percent true, but if everything I’ve said here seems like the obligatory preamble to a “We Never Knew…” confessional about the day we discovered Sam’s murder cellar, I had to invent the other shoe. Again, without meaning to, Sam taught me how easy it is to misjudge goodness that doesn’t constantly advertise itself.

If anyone could plausibly plead to a harsh childhood as a cause, if not an excuse, for awful deeds committed in adulthood, it would be Sam, and perhaps it’s only a question of when the traumas broke him that made him harmless, where similarly treated men have become monsters. The only time he ever physically attacked anyone was when he got into a shouting and shoving match with his domineering mother over the unsightly junk on his front yard, and took a swing at a cop for trying to haul it away.

Yes, Sam had issues, and he fought stubbornly against any attempt to force normal adult life upon him, down to his denial about his cancer; but I’ve never known a kinder, person who was more stoically cheerful in the face of challenges few could recover from. If he never broke out to live anything like a normal life, he didn’t pass on his anger to anyone else, and in his silent ability to withstand unendurable pain and pressure and always give better than he got, without meaning to, he taught me a little bit about how to live.

Sam died Saturday afternoon at my parents’ house, because the social worker declared his home uninhabitable. He spent his last night on her couch with his back to the TV, mouthing the correct questions to all the answers on Jeopardy. I tried to get down to San Diego from Portland to see him, but he was in too much pain, and resisting taking morphine, and in a moment between breaths, he simply let go.

There won’t be a formal memorial service, and his ashes will be scattered in Wildcat Canyon, as per his request. Almost nobody outside our family will remember Sam, and when we talk about him, we’ll recall the eccentric habits, the silly things he did, the sad, quiet clown that he was; but we should remember and share the great man that he could have been if not for the horrible things that were visited upon him, and the greatness of the good man that he never stopped being.

January 1, 2020

2019 In The Rearview

Cassius Goodgravy (2008-2019)

2019 was as much a year of great upheaval and uncertainty here as everywhere else, but like everyone who hasn’t gone insane or given in to despair, I resolved to fix what I could and deal with what I couldn’t. If nothing else, 2019 will be remembered as the year I finally got a snazzy author website and found literary representation, and having resigned myself to writing for my own entertainment in the absence of any enriching market pressures, I spent the lion’s share of 2019 working with one of my favorite editors on a commercial project that’s a huge departure from my typical output (more about that as I can reveal it, but it’s gonna be BIG). I’ve been writing for money (or the promise of same) for over twenty-five years, but I’m still learning hard lessons.

I’ve managed to put out a book every year for the last decade, but this year saw three full-length releases: UNAMERICA (King Shot Press), SCUM OF THE EARTH (Eraserhead Press) and THE MAN WHO ESCAPED THIS STORY & OTHER STORIES (Independent Legions). While two received favorable reviews from Publishers Weeklyand have landed on a few best-of-the-year lists, I ran afoul of the received wisdom that too many releases put you in competition with yourself. The story collection suffered massively from this surfeit of Goodfellow on the market, with no industry reviews and only one rating on Amazon, but I’m confident it’ll find its audience. Both of them…

This year was a slow one for short story sales, as the Cthulhu craze has fallen off and I’ve tried to focus on bigger projects. Here’s the checklist (collect ‘em all!)


––“Massaging The Monster” in BLACK STATIC #70.

––“The Vegan Wendigo” in TALES FROM THE CRUST.

––”The Touring Car” in THREE-LOBED BURNING EYE.


Not a lot going on there, but two of my older stories were reprinted to great effect… “Diablitos,” which originally appeared here, was included in Stephen King’s Flight Or Fright anthology, offering millions of King fans the opportunity to discover just how bad my work looks next to Matheson, Bradbury, Schow, Hill and King himself. Nightmare also reprinted “At The Riding School”, which Ellen Datlow selected as one of the best of the last decade. While it’s perplexing to discover just one what will be remembered for, it’s a blessing, no doubt, to be noticed at all.

While I’m trying to get back into acting and working with a host of folks to get adaptations of my books into development, the biggest sleeper hit of my career continues to be Stay At Home Dad, which has somehow garnered nearly 1,000,000 views on YouTube in less than a year. Our adorable DIY short from eight years ago has become a kind of evangelical Blarney Stone that born-again kids dare each other to watch and beg God’s forgiveness. Stay At Home Dad may not open any doors for me, but it warms the cockles of my cold black heart to know that Xian kids everywhere are having flashbacks from our little monster movie every time they pour milk on their Frosted Flakes.

Forbidden Futures #6

At SDCC with Daniel Ringquist and Mike Dubisch

Over at Forbidden Futures, we managed to put out three solid issues of which we’re very proud, though a few distractions kept us from getting the Volume 1 omnibus out into the world. We did produce an installment of The Challenge From Beyond for the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival & Cthulhucon, which summoned six weird scribes and five arcane artists to create a patchwork exquisite corpse. We also tabled from Seattle to SanDiego, from Portland to Providence, spreading the gospel of hyperpulp. Working with Mike Dubisch and Daniel Ringquist continues to be a joyous refuge from relentless disappointments elsewhere in the small press, and an opportunity to plug a ton of underrated authors of weird pulp fiction, to boot. We’re hard at work on the next two issues concurrently, and have a bunch of fun projects simmering for 2020.

Cassius as depicted by SKINNER

Closer to home, this will be remembered as a year of loss, as my dog, Cassius, and my cat, Nemo, both passed away. Nemo was nineteen and his death was not entirely unexpected, but Cassius’s heart condition came as a complete shock, and a harsh reminder that our time is short.

At Mysterious Galaxy in July with Philip Fracassi, Andrew James Stone and Brian Evenson.

But it’s also been a year of renewal and love, as Alicia and I continue to figure out how not to slowly murder each other. The book I’m working on now is the most ambitious thing I’ve ever attempted, and the last big stone-baby that’s been stuck in my head my entire adult life. When this next thing is done, I plan to take a good long look around me to see what, if anything, I still have to offer. I might quit or I might turn to other genres, other media, following my own passion or the dimmer will-o-wisp beacon of the market. However it turns out, it will be a wonderful relief to have nothing to say, and to ponder with my full attention what the world needs to hear.

In 2020, I will be fifty years old, and it scares the shit out of me. While things haven’t turned out anywhere in line with even the modest goals I had hoped to reach by this time in my life, I’m surrounded by loving family and great friends, supportive publishers who believe in my work, and passionate readers who sometimes let me know that what I’m doing has touched and inspired them, which is more than I could ever have hoped for. One of the consolations of a failed career is that you’re free to reinvent yourself as often as you like. While I still dream of a successful career, I know that I’ve been very lucky to write exactly what I want most to read and have had more than my share of good fortune in doing so. I thank you for reading this and anything else of mine, and hope you’ll keep coming back…

Reading at Lovecraft Bar launch party for Unamerica and Scum Of The Earth

August 30, 2018


Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — doktrhonky @ 7:01 pm

I’m Not An Actor, But I Play One On TV

by Charlie Parsons


My name is Charlie Parsons, and I’m kind of excited to be releasing a true memoir that happened to me one day last month, SLEAZELAND. You may not know my name, but chances are good you’d recognize my face, because most of my work consists of uncredited appearances as a background actor.

I fully recognize that many of you who don’t understand how internal combustion works or where babies come from, but fancy yourselves savvy Hollywood-watchers might think you know what a background actor is, and scoff at the notion of reading a tell-all by such a nobody. I only hope someday someone gives you a million dollars to make your own movie and find out how ignorant and doomed you really are.

The ideal background actor is semi-animate set dressing, and the sole prerequisite is that he or she look like exactly what they are supposed to be. The struggle for “authenticity” is really the struggle to make an immediately recognizable visual statement with human bodies, one that sets the scene without distracting from the principals. Though they remain human scenery at the bottom of the industry ladder, any background actor can singlehandedly fuck up an entire movie (looking at you, smiling asshole in Dunkirk), but any casting director knows that the worst decision they can possibly make in decorating a set with background, is to employ actual actors.

You see, actors will use any excuse to act.

When we queue up at 3 in the morning to register at Central Casting, we tell each other stories to stay awake, stay focused. We rattle off all the names of legends who once stood in this line. Brad Pitt! Mindy Cohn! Gary Leisure! Us! And we tell ourselves this first tiny step will launch us into the same lofty heights. We’re going to shine so brightly, they’ll have to pick us out of the background and put us where we belong, in the foreground, with words coming out of our beautiful mouths.

And so, of course, we fucking ruin everything.

Because when they book you, it isn’t based on an audition tape, it’s based on a momentary glance at your mugshot; if you look like the epitome of what they need to dress the set, you’re in. If they have to ponder for a split-second what your deal is or how you fit the scene, you’re going home early.

And if and when the 2ndAD comes around to give you your directions, he doesn’t discuss your motivation or method. He names each of you like the Seven Dwarves––you’re Sleepy, you’re Grumpy, you’re Donner, you’re Blitzen, and none of you is fucking Rudolph.

Given this one-word marching order, any trained actor will immediately set about crafting a persona to go with it, a story, a narrative that they begin acting out for all they’re worth, so they look not like an ordinary human being going about their day, but an automaton struck by lightning and imbued with LIFE! and the directive to single-mindedly embody that one-word direction to its uttermost. If you’ve ever seen a movie where this one background actor is trying so much HARDER than everyone around them, hamming it up like the principal in a parallel movie being filmed on the same set at the same time, so you wonder about that idiot long after you’ve forgotten what happened in the film itself, you’ve witness bad background ACTING.

There is a vast and reliable community of background talent who never aspired to act. Most of them are readily digestible character types who pursue the career in between plush stints doing jury duty or holding places in line at the DMV for rich people. They perfectly fit their roles precisely because they are regular people, and not actors. Absorbing their directions with the same zeal seasonal retail help accepts criticism from surly customers, they muddle through with most of their brains focused on the screenplay they’ll write someday, and wondering how many entrees they can successfully smuggle away from the catering table without ruining their wardrobe. Thus, their performances effortlessly capture the fractured, half-assed nature of human consciousness while the actors around them turn cartwheels trying to become some Platonic ideal of whatever off-handed instructions they were given.

True background actors are the only authentic part of modern motion pictures, and yet they are always shunted aside to make room for the grandstanding assholes whose clumsy attempts to shine burn a hole in the illusion they’ve sold their souls for. It is a sacred calling, and one not fit for the serious working actor. I’ve been cut out of 173 background roles because I couldn’t stay in the background, so trust that I speak from hard experience.

So I hope this little tidbit of insider dirt will enrich your moviegoing experience (by which I mean, I hope you’ll stay home and read SLEAZELAND). Because that glory-hogging clown who chewed up the scenery in the film you watch tonight might be the star you slavishly drool over, tomorrow…

October 8, 2017

Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast Sermon for H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — doktrhonky @ 10:24 pm

Well, we find ourselves gathered over yet another Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast… thanks, Nibiru… It seems as if every degrading, impossible news cycle we’re asked to swallow, brings another broken promise of total annihilation and transcendence. Those of us who quivered with pre-millennium fear that the world would end seventeen years ago are now outnumbered by those equally terrified that it won’t. Never mind that the idea that one could predict the end of all creation according to a gimcrack calendar is like expecting your car to spontaneously combust the moment the odometer reaches 100,000, when you know the odometer was serially tampered with by a procession of celibate, cross-dressing used-car salesmen.
Obviously, not every prediction of the end of days can be correct. But if they’re all wrong, then who keeps crank-calling the temple outreach line collect by way of the Voyager probe every time the Hale-Bopp comet approaches perihelion?
But the impulse that has us looking for Ghroth in all the wrong places cannot be simply ignored or subverted into fighting over dogmatic niceties, for it’s a fundamental impulse to hunger for change, even a disastrous one, when the status quo becomes too meaningless and absurd to bear.
We have always prudently refrained from declaring a specific date for our own rugose rapture, and so we have prevailed and sown our milt widely among those seeking answers in the darker shoals of this bamboozled culture, where others have ended up at the business end of a Leah Rimini-job.
But one thing we cannot abide, is internal confusion about what we stand for, for that way lies disaster. A house divided against itself cannot stand, and the make-up sex is unspeakably regrettable.
When Marshall Applewhite turned Heaven’s Gate from a nomadic trash-digging cult into a utopian Star Trek cargo cult, he captured the imagination of the brightest and most creative in our society, all of whom despaired of finding a place in the outside world, but they succumbed to the gravity of his own internal self-loathing, and exited themselves from this world in an eerily muted, tragically misunderstood rebuke of a modern age gone mad with division and corruption and greed. Had they separated the message from the fatal flaws of its messenger, they might still be alive today, designing really bomb-ass websites for Nike.
Likewise, our own cloistered community has been riven by divisions over the separation of the transcendental message, from its inarguably flawed and earthbound messenger. It’s too easy to mistake an artist for a prophet, and even prophets have feet of clay. Mohammed kept slaves, cheated like a sonofabitch at Parcheesi and told toothache sufferers to bite on a tombstone for relief of pain symptoms, and Jesus once exorcised a nest of demons into a bunch of pigs and ran them off a cliff, which, kosher or not, is a shitty way to treat perfectly good bacon. And he said he was coming back bearing a sword in the lifetimes of the people who came to his poorly catered weddings, so one has to take what one can from even the most exalted of prophets. And the one thing they all preached was the Golden Rule, that That Art Thou… Be excellent to each other, nimrods.
Richard Wagner was a loathsome anti-Semite, but his music offers a universal message that scares the shit out of people you’re about to bomb to the stone age. Likewise, HP Lovecraft was an artist, not a prophet. Like many of us, he suffered excessively at the hands of an indifferent world, and like some of us, he framed his fears and frustrations into a fantastic pantheon of metaphor and myth. But unlike any of us, he saw his fears of the Other reflected back at him in the faces of his fellow human beings.
It is not a love for those tragic flaws in his character and perspective that drive so many of our brethren to apologize for or even turn a blind eye towards the xenophobia that inspired our own gravely misunderstood faith, but an excess of love for the messenger. They cannot accept that their prophet had feet of clay, and so are trapped apologizing for terrible ideas they don’t themselves necessarily believe… or they do actually believe them, and can well and truly get backstroke through a vat of shantak ass.
Our own predicament is no less paradoxical, but far less liable to result in pretzel-related rhetorical injuries. We look to all that Lovecraft feared and reviled, that miscegenated, mutated polymorphous perversity that is the Other, and we say, Yes, please. We embrace the Other not because it is awful, but because it is wondrous in its terrible beauty. We embrace and dissolve ourselves in the exotic and alien because the world is far stranger than any self-educated white New England Yankee’s wildest fever-dreams, and we are a part of it. We embrace Otherness in all its forms, even in its most inimical and enigmatic face, when it looks at us in the mirror. The apocalypse we look forward to is not an end of old things, but an end to lies and the rise of beautifully weird new things, which shall not command but intrinsically earn, our devotion and worship.
Lovecraft himself said it best and proved himself a prophet after all, even when he was just trying to freak himself out. I close with the testimonial of the narrator of The Shadow Over Innsmouth, who came to acceptance when he faced the crowning horror that the awful taint of the alien abominations from which he’d narrowly escaped could never be purged, for it ran in his own blood.
“The tense extremes of horror are lessening, and I feel queerly drawn toward the unknown sea-deeps, instead of fearing them. I hear and do strange things in sleep, and awake with a kind of exaltation, instead of terror… Stupendous and unheard-of splendors await me below, and I shall seek them soon. Ia R’lyeh! Cthulhu fhtagn! I shall no shoot myself, I cannot be made to shoot myself!
“We shall swim out to that brooding reef in the sea and dive down through black abysses to cyclopean and many-columned Y’ha-nthlei, and in that lair of the Deep Ones, we shall dwell in wonder and glory forever.”
Remember… This isn’t a Cthulhu Haters’ Breakfast. This is a goddamn Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast! Be excellent to the Other, everybody.

August 14, 2017

How The Sausage Is Made

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — doktrhonky @ 9:35 pm

Guerilla Marketing

It was Thursday afternoon in the cavernous dealer room at San Diego Comic Con, and Mike Dubisch and I were excited. We felt like we’d finally got the answer to a problem we’d been struggling with for years, and the guy who could make all our dreams come true was somewhere in the building.

We’d been working together for several years, Mike illustrating one or another of my projects, but this year, we’d finally completed breakdowns for MYSTERY MEAT, a gnarly underground horror comic that not only recalled the stony glory of Skull, Death Rattle and Slow Death Eco-Funnies, but brought back the danger and social consciousness sorely lacking from modern horror comics. And even though the editor we were hunting had shot us both down in the past, we were reasonably sure that THIS TIME, we had his number.

Several months before, after years of schmoozing and stalking, I had managed to sell a script to Dark Horse’s revival of Creepy, and another editor there bought “nuMeat,” a short piece that teased the larger Mystery Meat scenario, and he seemed to like it a lot. We’d talked about the possibility of Dark Horse picking up MYSTERY MEAT when it was approaching completion, and he seemed enthusiastic to see it.

So we went over there.

During a brief lull between signings at the Dark Horse pavilion, Mike and I approached the editor in question and told him what we had to show him. We didn’t expect him to turn backflips or plant a kiss on us, but we were both a bit nonplussed when he winced and told us to hold that thought, he’d be happy to check out our stuff, but he had to go to the restroom real quick.

Then he walked about ten feet away and braced another passing creative and started talking to him as if we’d never existed. The guy he was talking to looked awkwardly over his shoulder at us and stifled a giggle. The editor kept up the phony conversation until we both realized just how little we really were, in the grand scheme of big-time comix, took our dumb little sketches, and went back to our hideout in the small press slum to scheme up our petty revenge.

Small Press Area, San Diego Comic Con 2013

This year was my twenty-first consecutive SDCC (23rd in total), and this year, Mike and I had returned with a platter of sweet revenge: MYSTERY MEAT, self-published and printed thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, available digitally through Comixology. The editor who snubbed us so rudely a few years ago was MIA due to a scandal caused by drunkenly assaulting coworkers and contractors the same weekend he was a dick to us, and so had been promoted to a senior position that prudently kept him from attending conventions, so we wouldn’t be able to send him to the restroom with a copy of our swanky mag, but we still felt we had something to prove.

Our Swanky Mag.

The further I move away from San Diego, the more going into that gargantuan sweat lodge feels like coming home. I’m old enough that I remember how drastically everything began to change when Hollywood moved in about twelve years back, invested enough in it that I worry about its future more than I should as it begins and sicken and change.

At its height, Comic Con became not just a genre popular culture event, but a city of conventions. If you didn’t care about the new CBS fall lineup or celebrity perp walk panels in Hall H (and if you could wrest a badge from the legions who most fanatically did) or ultrarare Con-exclusive Funko toys, you could still meet comics legends and see panels and shop for comics without camping out in a lawnchair or waiting in any kind of serious line. When I helped run the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in San Pedro, we easily filled a 500-seat room for a panel on HPL every year at the decidedly crappy Saturday night timeslot. I don’t think we ever had that many people attend the festival itself on a Saturday.

We are now a few years past peak Comic Con, and the film, videogame and toy interests continue to crowd out actual comics vendors and creators, even as they try in inevitable corporate fashion to squeeze more promotion out of the event with less expense and effort. Watching them tighten their grip on the geek audience year by year has been like watching a boa constrictor digest its dinner.

I’ve seen industry parties go from lavish, everybody’s-invited extravaganzas with bulging swag bags and hosted bars to tight-fisted elite circle-jerks where lines of the unwashed circle round the block, while those inside seem to be having less fun than the parents in the Red Dawn re-education camp. The convention itself feels sleepier, Sunday-tired on Wednesday night, but still crowded with folks sleepwalking through a mall and buying plastic dreams with more plastic.

While the big pavilions stayed big, the only novelty on the floor this year was all that’s been lost––venerable vendors like Mile High Comics who’ve been priced out of Comic Con after 44 years, or independents like Bud Plant, once an aisle unto itself, now relegated to a scurfy single booth in the back of the hall. My friends who’ve always paid for next year’s booth with the petty cash from the current year were unable to meet the rent due to stale sales.

The fans were still buying, still cosplaying, still enduring preposterous lines, but not for comics. As the economy continues to leave working people behind and the political crises leave even the most secure of us seething with frustration and anxiety, fans were buying almost in a panic, and they were reaching for security blankets.

This is your only space program...

Recognizable brands dominate the merchandise more every year, the Disney-driven saturation of Marvel and Star Wars merch all but overwhelming Warner’s DC stuff. As one of the only open-source brands, Cthulhu still attracts buyers, but they want shirts, shot glasses, bumper stickers and resin busts, not troublesome, tedious books. People weren’t looking for new stories to read, or even familiar ones. They wanted icons, fetish objects to let them step inside their heroes and take on their strength, their sense of purpose. Conditioned by years of media bombardment, fans feel empowered to express their inner child, to wear Superman or Captain America T-shirts in public as serious expressions of personal philosophy, to take the collectible toys out of the packaging and play with them.

This is your military...

Without a trace of irony, fans embrace geekdom, the metaphor of a besotted drunk who eats anything given to him in a sideshow of bottomless degradation. They have become heroes of proactive consumerism, drunk on their seeming power to shape by social media focus-grouping summer tentpole movies to better pander to the adultification of their childhood fantasies. Superhero movies are our education policy, sci-fi fantasy is our only viable space program.

This is your government

We didn’t need to sit in a booth all weekend to know that nobody’s cherished childhood fantasies this year included horrible shit coming out of their food.

But we did it anyway.

In Supergods, Grant Morrison lays out an elaborate scheme that diagrams the pendulum swing of the zeitgeist, which he employs to pitch projects that best head off collective American appetites at the pass. If MYSTERY MEAT ever had a chance of breaking out according to this scenario, we were coming out at the exact worst end of the cycle for a confrontational, anti-authority horror comic. I gave an advance copy of MYSTERY MEAT to Grant last year. He probably didn’t read it, either.


But we’d long since given up on trying to “break in” to comics, and were resigned to eking out a market for the kind of books we wish somebody else had made. For as long as I’ve been coming to SDCC, I’ve tried networking and ass-kissing and parading around in a bloody sandwich board to try to find a place in the comic industry, to no avail. It’s much harder for writers to get over than artists, for whom an elaborate program of portfolio reviews are scheduled. You can’t just pitch ideas to editors wary of getting sued, and nobody’s actively looking for the next Alan Moore in the rope-line at Comic Con. Comics have learned a lot of the worst lessons from Hollywood, which has relied on them as a market-testing, brand-breaking farm team for nearly twenty years. Namely, to get noticed at all, you have to have already broken out on your own, so their buying your title benefits them in the short term more than it will benefit you, who’ve already done the unimaginably difficult job of making yourself a viable brand.

There is no God...

but Godzilla.

I have no illusions about my ambitions or my methods. I’ve never wanted to write superhero comics for Marvel or DC, and I’ve always known the kind of stuff I’d excel at writing would only appeal to a wafer-thin slice of the comic reading audience, which only comprises a shrinking plurality even of the folks who attend Comic Con. Peers of mine who’ve moved from obscurity to writing flagship Marvel titles did so by striking up relationships that have eluded me over a lifetime of chasing comics work. It took a couple years of bird-dogging Dark Horse at events to cultivate an editor who liked my work, and they almost immediately let her go. Same thing happened at IDW, where Jeff Conner tirelessly put together a raft of great prose anthologies based on their cheesy properties, which were dumped on the market with so little fanfare that year in and year out, the reps at their booth weren’t even aware they existed.

Truth is, every year, Comic Con leaves me feeling like the poor fucker in Kafka’s “Before The Law” piece from The Trial. I lost my capacity to enjoy playing RPGs after the decade-long hosing I received at the hands of Chaosium over the San Francisco Guidebook, so I’ve always tried to balance my disappointment with my progress in the comic industry against the fear of losing the pleasure of reading them. Though I failed to add any new “contacts,” my greatest pleasures of the weekend were the times I got to spend with my real friends in the community––Mike Dubisch, who’s helped me give life to ideas no sane comic company would ever touch; Ron Kirby, Comic Con volunteer since before you or I were even born, who has always made sure I was welcome; Brian and Gwen Callahan of Sigh Co Graphics and H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, who’ve always carried my wares and let me hide from the inevitable backlash to my guerilla marketing stunts in their booth; and a bunch more people, dear friends I only see at Comic Con every year, who make the dream a reality.

Moving the smell at Comic Con with Anthony Trevino

If I’ve learned anything worth knowing from twenty-one years at Comic Con, it’s just that: know who your friends are. Lift them up and never forget all the times you’ve leaned on them. Strangers won’t pick you up unless you’re spilling money out your pockets.

It was Sunday evening of another Comic Con several years ago. I’d just spent the last of my disposable Con cash on a t-shirt for my daughter and was hanging out on the lanai of the Hilton, watching the sunset and enjoying a beer before driving back to Los Angeles, when a writer of some note in both prose and comics, invited me to join him and some close friends and colleagues for a limo run to the Mission Valley In N Out.

I’d eaten there often; in fact, I like as not would’ve stopped there by myself on my way out of town, but this was exactly the kind of secret handshake socializing thing I’d despaired of ever getting in on.

I was barely acquainted with this author, having been introduced to him at a World Horror con in 2005 when we were both coming up, but we’d never interacted since. I’d been on a science fiction panel with some notable luminaries that weekend in spite of having no major publications to speak of, so his invitation couldn’t help but strike me as some kind of threshold moment. The cool kids had invited me to ride in their fancy car to get lunch! It was like hanging out with the seniors freshman year of high school, all over again.

The limo was so long, it couldn’t get up the ramp to the Hilton carport, so we had to come down to it. The author introduced me to his wife, whose idea the limo ride apparently was, but not to any of his friends, who conversed animatedly with each other all the way to the In N Out.

The limo couldn’t fit into the drive-thru either, so we got out and filed inside to order. I got my food and ate in the car next to them, but managed to insert not a single word into the conversation. I felt like a ghost, alive but too boring to be perceived by my fellow passengers. I had more than enough time to wonder why I’d been invited at all, since they had plenty of friends.

When we got back to the hotel, I found out. The writer’s wife cornered me on my way to the restroom and hit me up to chip in for the limo ride. I didn’t hear her talk with any of their industry friends about paying for the ride. The writer had told me his wife was independently wealthy and wanted to do it for her friends who’d never had In N Out before. I had to explain to her that I was flat broke and didn’t know we were supposed to chip in, or I’d have gone to In N Out by myself in my car, which was parked at Qualcomm Stadium, about a mile away from Mission Valley. I apologized to her, but I could tell I’d offended her deeply, that if she got any impression of me at all, it was as a freeloader who’d taken advantage of her little outing for a free ride. I took the trolley back, past the fateful In N Out, and though my belly was filled, I had to go to my parents’ house in Lakeside before leaving town and made them cook tacos before I felt solid again.

I don’t want this endless bummer post with a bummer, so here’s the most amazing guy I’ve had the pleasure to get to know and work with through Comic Con.

Don't be a sinner... be like SKINNER!

April 27, 2017

Mystery Meat Lives!

Filed under: Uncategorized — doktrhonky @ 4:25 am

Available wherever quality paperbacks and edible underwear are sold.

So we haven’t updated our store yet, but RIGHT NOW, you can get Mystery Meat in print HERE, and for Kindle HERE.

April 16, 2016

The Neighbor Of The bEast

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — doktrhonky @ 4:17 pm
We forgot to poke holes in his box... again.

We forgot to poke holes in his box... again.

So many weirdos have added fuel to the burgeoning XPULVER controversy, that we felt compelled to restore a little sanity. So here, reproduced in full, is our brief interview with Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., conducted only days ago, to assess his mental and emotional state prior to crating him up for transport to these United States for an appearance at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival & Cthulhucon–San Pedro, April 29-May 1. This interview will also appear in The Daily Lurker program handed out at the fest…

Few dark stars in the weird horror genre shine brighter or burn stranger fuel than Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.. From his novel debut, Nightmare’s Disciple, he has doggedly pursued a passionate human urgency into the clinically detached modern horror scene, and restored a rhythmic dynamism and a reverence for the conjuring power inherent in WORDS(!!!!) to a field largely overwhelmed by the influence of cinema. Making the most of the brief-but-tranquil interval between feeding and smoking out the Beast, we posed a few questions to try to get into the head of the man who went to Carcosa way before it was cool.

Your unique stream-of-consciousness prose style seems to draw as much upon musical and poetic influences as literature.

Music is my heroin, and I read more poetry than fiction, true, so yeah, I’m bent that way. I like film, a lot, but it’s not me. Film looks, I feel. I feel music, I feel the poet’s pain, or their wonderment, or rage, or the weight of their crown.  So, no, no films in my head (excepting my “Carl Lee and Cassilda” trilogy). Places/events, X’s on maps, I see one and just start walking toward it. Can’t plan the walk, as there may be detours around a corner you can’t yet see, or you may bump into someone leaving their abode and suddenly you’ve turned right and are in a divebar having watered-down drinks w/ a woman (with an ass that could start a revolution) who tells you she has an OUTthere pad in Dimension Z… and she has a cure for yer ills. The teXt goes where it wants to go. Screams or cries, as it wants. It’s all JAZZ, improvise as you go. It’s all about FELT! !!


You’ve also said that your passion is crime fiction, and particularly David Goodis, but you seem to write exclusively weird horror. How has crime fiction schooled what you do, and/or how you do it?

Ah, crime. Dreams and downs. LOTTO tix and losers that can’t spell S.O.S. Wine, women, and FUCK YOU for thinking you could get ahead, or get out alive. Crime fiction told me what’s true. Showed me my city, and its sisters. The city is grey, it’s hard, it HUGE… and yer nothing, less than zero—COSMICISM anyone? The city is a character, not a place. It provides the oxygen. It tells you what’s on the menu and if you get to eat today. It decides where the stop lights are and if there are any detours on the route you were planning on taking.

Goodis, Himes, Spillane, Ellroy, Vachss, dozens of others, they put it plain, they’re jazzy, expressionistic, the pain comes slashing off the page. Reading crime since I was 12, it got in deep and when I began to write, it’s what came to the page naturally.

Loved Bloch and Poe and Crime as a teen. They were all dark, and the Crime/Weird fit, to me, seemed as normal as a broken window in an abandoned factory.

I have penned 3 straight noir tales, no weird in them, not a whiff. One day, I’d like to do a noir novel, no weird!

You’ve written a few dozen stories using Robert Chambers’ King In Yellow cycle, and edited two anthologies of Carcosa fiction. What is it with you and the King in Yellow, anyway?

12 years old, 13, Bloch and Poe set me up for MADNESS. They scared the hell out of me, w/ “Tell Tale Heart”, “ACoA”, and Norman and Jack the Ripper. I was a book kid, a library kid, I lived in books, they were my car, my wings, my teachers—books were the true power in the universe. At 16, along came Chambers with his madness. WHAM, a book w/the power to drive you mad. Add the mystery of the King in Yellow play, the allure of long ago and far away, and what’s behind the mask, damn, I was hooked! 45 years later, I still am.

See? Perfectly normal, perfectly healthy. America, open your hearts and your medicine chests!

He's tanned, rested and ready.

February 1, 2016

The Long Hard Road Up To Hell

Super-Size this...

We got bored, so we’re coming back.

Perilous Press was always going to be a refuge for projects by myself and others that nobody else could or would put out. We started Perilous to release my first two books because I was too paranoid to submit to a publisher after getting burned badly in my first pro sale. We’ve kept it alive to put out edgy, weird works by a few people we’ve liked who came to us because they had fire in their hands nobody else could handle. It was never my intent to make it a vanity press, and I’ve worked with a host of other, albeit nearly as small, outfits in the intervening years.

Perilous lapsed into dormancy; we didn’t even have a slush pile. But it was always the intent to reactivate it if and when the publishing world left us no choice. That time has come again.

In about two weeks, we’ll be launching a Kickstarter campaign to promote a graphic novel project I’ve been working on for several years with my excellent artist friend and frequent collaborator, Mike Dubisch. MYSTERY MEAT is coming, and you’d bester bring two pairs of gloves. It’s sticky.


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