I just caught an interesting article about a strange tradition that used to be held in the United States in the early 1900’s. Linton Weeks, over at NPR news, has dug up an old tradition that many have forgotten, or never knew about. Thanksgiving Maskers, Ragamuffin Parades, or Parade of Fantastics, call them what you will, judging by the photos on Mr. Weeks’s post, Thanksgiving used to look a lot like Halloween. So many people took part in this tradition that the mask making industry could hardly keep up. “The busiest time of the year for the manufacturers of and dealers in masks and false faces. The fantastical costume parades and the old custom of making and dressing up for amusement on Thanksgiving day keep up from year to year in many parts of the country, so that the quantity of false faces sold at this season is enormous.” – Los Angeles Times, November 21, 1897. The young masqueraders would slink along the streets pan handling for pennies, apples, or other goodies, when asking “What’s for Thanksgiving?” It would be no surprise if you found yourself handing over a delicious candy to a faux Charlie Chaplin doppelganger or a creepy young lady with a nylon screen over her face for a mask. Ahh memories. Good stuff from Linton Weeks, and I highly suggest you check out his article to discover more of the forgotten truths and traditions of Thanksgiving in America. Click here to check out the strange side of a beloved tradition.
In the world of HP Lovecraft; the creaking of a door, a shadow passing in your periphery or a bizarre siting at sea could mean any number of things, natural or supernatural. The massive sea god, Dagon, may have really existed in a primordial age. Whole civilizations of alien beings may have coursed across the Earth hundreds of millions of years ago. The ability to reanimate the dead may actually be possible. Lovecraft wrote about these possibilities at the turn of the 20th century. They thought he was a fiction writer. He wasn’t. Everything he wrote about exists, and now Lovecraft’s distinguished Miskatonic University has a Southern California location.
Miskatonic West follows the exploits of Sousaku Kaos, the head of Miskatonic’s biology department, and his band of intrepid students as they pull the curtain back on a world of monsters, magic and mystery inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Helping the LAPD with “cases of interest,” Kaos and his students must uncover a plot to awaken Dagon, the ancient ocean god, by the Esoteric Cult of Dagon, before it and an army of deep ones invade the West Coast.
In making Miskatonic West, the creators hope to bring the same verisimilitude and realism that Lovecraft brought to his writings of close encounters with the monstrous and supernatural. With an eye towards cinematic integrity, we want to bring the world of Lovecraft into an emotionally honest light and capture what it would be like to encounter things that should not be and the toll it might take on one’s sanity.
If you are a Lovecraft fan, a fan of monsters, mystery, suspense and human drama join us in making this web series a reality. Thank you.
I am personally looking forward to viewing this when some episodes are off the ground. Though it was narrowly fully funded, I believe this series could contain some quality Lovecraftian goodness. But i’ll let you be the judge of that. Below is the teaser/trailer for the series. Let me know what you think, or drop by their Facebook page and give them some feedback.
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Title: Herald: Lovecraft & Tesla #1
Created by: John Reilly
Publisher: Action Lab Comics
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars aligned
Back in 2012 the popular site io9 had a post with a very appealing picture that was their call to arms to create a Lovecraft/Tesla team-up comic for all of us to love. It looked sort of like this:The image sparked all sorts of wants and protests for someone to establish a decent storyline where these two obscure characters in our history could investigate and dispatch the paranormal/occult. And thank the gods those wants and protests were heard and have been answered with John Reilly’s Herald: Lovecraft & Tesla.
This alternate history series there are a lot of things that didn’t jibe with me. That is until I came to terms that this comic series is an extreme alternate history twist from what I am used to. This was particularly difficult due to the fact that I consider myself a very (very very very) amateur Lovecraftian scholar, so when the years/time didn’t match up, and he was living with his mother still threw me off. However the sheer cleverness of this opening issue has compelled me to become a fan.
In this world Tesla is engaged to the very brave and prideful Amelia Earhart. When the future Mrs. Tesla takes off on her famous flight, Nikola becomes fearful of the equipment his darling is using make history. After seeking advice from his close friend, Einstein, Tesla heads to the home of famous alternate dimension aficionado, H.P. Lovecraft.
Though there isn’t a lot of action in this first issue, the creators of this comic have done an excellent creating this alternate world and its characters that are so familiar that one can’t help but cross the threshold of our current knowing of these two figures and believe in something a little more fascinating than reality. Along the way you will see other historical figures, such as: Harry Houdini, Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart and of course H.P. Lovecraft. I can’t wait to see who else we will see…
From what I understand the second issue is to be released digitally on Comixology today, November 5th, so while your there checking out the first issue, be sure to just add that one to your cart to. You will not be disappointed. For all updates on this project and new issues check the status on their Facebook Page, or on their Twitter account @heraldcomic. Print editions should be out sometime, maybe next year, I am not entirely sure on that. But until then please indulge your minds in the Herald: Lovecraft & Tesla. BUY IT NOW!
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Happy Halloween Gibberers! This post brought to you in part by Rick Dyer… Just kidding.
While attending to some research on the Balkan War, Bulgarian student Filip Ganov was called upon to photograph something strange, yet fairly familiar in the local culture. After arriving at Macedonian farmer Trayche Draganov’s home, Ganov was eerily surprised to find a straw bedded wood crate with an almost mummified skull of what Draganov claimed to be a Varkolak, or werewolf.
While tending he field, Trayche said he dug up the wooden crate that, at the time, was wrapped and fastened shut with a gold chain. Fascinated, Granov asked to confiscate the skull for further testing and investigation, but Trayche simply refused allowing only pictures to be taken at this time (This by the way is the cause for the Rick Dyer comment at the head of the post.)
Some of the best theory from officials after looking at the photos claim that it could have possibly been a wolf or K9 of some sort that suffered from Paget’s disease, a condition that can increase skull size and shape. However, until Mr. Draganov decides to submit something for official DNA testing this will remain mystery. So far I have heard nor seen any report as to what the lettering is on the lid of the box. It is believed to be a form of Cryllic script, which is known in the Bulgaria and Macedonia area.
In local folklore, werewolves, or Varkolak’s, were typically found on a Saturday laying about their graves. Upon capture they were decapitated and the body burned for proper disposal and banishment of the monster. By looking at what Trayche has uncovered, this was a successful capture and kill.
Personally, due to the fact that the farmer will not hand over the specimen I have to believe that this is a clever hoax in time for Halloween. Don’t get me wrong, I love this, however by looking to the right, you can’t tell me that Draganov’s skull doesn’t kind of look like a baboon skull.
On one final note, I had to laugh at a comment that was recorded by Trayche Draganov, it reads; “Many of my neighbors are angry that I disturbed the varkolak (werewolf), they say that I will be reborn as a werewolf. If that is now my fate, so be it. What is done is done.” – Ancient origins.
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From Sims Films, comes Brent Sims’ Grave Shivers. This film was successfully backed on Kickstarter, but was originally entitled Deadtime Stories. The final film, as seen below, was a recent winner of the audience award at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Los Angeles as well as screened and worshiped at other filming events.
I have always liked the idea of children’s stuffed animals protecting them at night. My daughter has a “Ducky” and every night she wakes up Ducky so she can go to bed, and in the morning she thanks Ducky and puts her to sleep. She even lets Ducky use her blanky. This all comes from me telling her that Ducky does a very good job of protecting us all at night. As for the last scene in the video, when I am asked to look under the bed I am going to have my wife do it… yesh.
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Title: Halloween Tales
Editor: Kate Jones
Publisher: Omnium Gatherum
Number of Pages: 230
Format: Print (Paperback)
Rating: 2 ½ out of 5 stars aligned
Some of the best pens of the Los Angeles chapter of the Horror Writers Association have been conjured by Omnium Gatherum to summon tales of fear and fancy for this Halloween season. 19 tales from literary horror veterans and newbies to the genre that together make a wonderful coffee table read for the season. As you can see by my rating I wasn’t too impressed with the contents of this book, however there are few pieces of sweet fiction in this candy sack that outshine the other sour suckers and kept me going through the collection in hopes of finding other good pieces at the bottom of the bag.
- Lisa Morton - The Devil Came to Mamie’s on Hallowe’en *
- Michael Paul Gonzalez - Worth the Having
- Hal Bodner – Donuts
- Terry M. West - The Hairy Ones *
- Janet Joyce Holden - The Deal
- John Palisan0 – Outlaws of Hill County
- David Winnick – The Cross I Bear *
- Kate Jonez - By the Book
- R. B. Payne - Ankou, King of the Dead
- Steven W. Booth – The Lurker *
- Maria Alexander – Harvest of Flames
- Eric Miller – The Patch
- E.S. Magill – Beneath It All
- Tim Chizmar – Farkleberry Forest Cemetery
- Robin Wyatt Dunn - Halloween in East Hampton
- R.B. Payne – Hollywood Ending
- P.S. Gifford – Johnny Jackson’s School Dare
- Xach Fromson – The Old Magic
- Nancy Holder – Dead Devil in the Freezer
Unfortunately there weren’t many of these stories that left me chilled or stunned. If not for stories like Terry M. West’s “The Hairy Ones“, and bits and pieces of Steven W. Booth’s “The Lurker” I would not have felt those feelings at all. However I must give full credit and appreciation to Lisa Morton’s “The Devil Came to Mamie’s on Hallowe’en” and David Winnick’s “The Cross I Bear. ” Those two tales were two amongst a few that were narrated or seen through the eyes of a child or early teen, and I found those stories to be the most interesting. The innocence in Mr. Winnick’s story really left me in aw, though some have said it was funny, to me it was honest and dark.
Though it’s not a book I would recommend to everyone, I would say it is a nice piece in a collection of stories to have on hand for this time of year. Al 19 tales are easily digestible, and short enough to read in one sitting. True, some are better than others, but that is how a well built anthology is, unfortunately I wish the stories were a little bit more balanced. By that I mean I felt all the greats were in the front of the book and not so much in the middle or tail end. Either way it was good to dive into some suitable fiction for the month and season and am glad to have been introduced to a few of these authors fiction. I will be keeping an eye out for them.
If you have checked out Halloween Tales, let me know what you think by leaving a comment. And if you like all the tasty bits we gibber about here, become a follower or submit to receive email updates with every new post! Check us out on Twitter @UnspkbleGibberr and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UnspeakableGibberer.
Editor: Salomè Jones
Publisher: Ghostwoods Books
Number of Pages: 272
Format: Print (Paperback)
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars aligned
At the time of his death in 1937, American horror writer H.P. Lovecraft was virtually unknown. The power of his stories was too great to contain, however. As the decades slipped by, his dark visions laid down roots in the collective imagination of mankind, and they grew strong. Now Cthulhu is a name known to many and, deep under the seas, Lovecraft’s greatest creation becomes restless…
This volume brings together seventeen masterful tales of cosmic horror inspired by Lovecraft’s work. In his fiction, humanity is a tiny, accidental drop of light and life in the endless darkness of an uncaring universe – a darkness populated by vast, utterly alien horrors. Our continued survival relies upon our utter obscurity, something that every fresh scientific wonder threatens to shatter.
The dazzling stories in Cthulhu Lives! show the disastrous folly of our arrogance. We think ourselves the first masters of Earth, and the greatest, and we are very badly mistaken on both counts. Inside these covers, you’ll find a lovingly-curated collection of terrors and nightmares, of catastrophic encounters to wither the body and blight the soul. We humans are inquisitive beings, and there are far worse rewards for curiosity than mere death.
The truth is indeed out there – and it hungers.
Cthulhu Lives! Or so I have been told, And I believe that is true…to some extent. In fact, in the minds of many of H.P. Lovecraft’s contemporaries, devotees, or worshipers, all his creations are real. Whether taken literally and practicing such worship or devotion with a cult, or simply creating a space in your mind whilst reading Lovecraftian fiction, creations such as Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep or Yog-Sothoth have made their place in our world for better or worse. Yet it is the high priest to The Old Ones himself, Cthulhu, who is most recognizable both in form and in unpronounceable name. Whether it be a symbol of a tentacle faced god, or the megalithic shadow beneath the waves that speaks to you in your dreams, this star spawn has solidified its place amongst most of todays weird/cosmic horror fiction. Cthulhu’s presence within these tales is what connects, not only the stories that lay within the Cthulhu Mythos, but also the authors and readers of said stories under the ever growing membranous Lovecraftian banner. These and more were the thoughts I bore as I dipped my mind into Ghostwoods Books newest anthology of Lovecraftian fiction.
17 very unique tales are what make up this collection. Some better than others, and others way better than some, the satisfying content this book has to offer is evenly distributed throughout. None of the tales are too long, the longest being 18 or so pages, allowing for easy digestible reads.
- Universal Constants by Piers Beckley
- 1884 by Michael Grey
- Elmwood by Tim Dedopulos
- Hobstone by G.K. Lomax *
- On the Banks of the River Jordan by John Reppion *
- Dark Watters by Adam Vidler
- Ink by Iain Lowson
- Demon in Glass by E. Dane Anderson
- Scales from Balor’s Eye by Helmer Gorman
- Of the Faceless Crowd by Gabor Csigás
- Scritch, Scratch by Lynne Hardy *
- Icke by Greg Stolze *
- Coding Time by Marc Reichardt
- The Thing in the Printer by Peter Tupper
- The Old Ones by Jeremy Clymer
- Visiting Rights by Joff Brown
- The Highland Air by Gethin A. Lynes
There are a few authors in this collection, one of them G.K. Lomax, who are emerging authors into both the writing scene and the Lovecraftian scene. Upon my initial inspection of the cast of writers I was expected to read, I was a little weary of the unfamiliar names. However, I was incorrect in my judgment of quality these stories possessed. Not being able to choose only three favorites, I settled on four that I believe were the most memorable and entertaining. Hobstone by G.K. Lomax, On the Banks of the River Jordan by John Reppion, Scritch, Scratch by Lynne Hardy and Icke by Greg Stolze. All four of these tales possessed an essence that I believe to be truly Lovecraftian. It was the vague suggestion at a grander menace, or entity with out necessarily giving it a name or advertently connecting it to the Cthulhu Mythos. It was stories like these that convinced me that this book should have been titled Lovecraft Lives! Simply because of the true theme of cosmic horror and fear of the unknown that Mr. Lovecraft is so aptly known for expanding if not creating.
Unfortunately though, there were just one to many stories that left me with nothing. Either ending so abruptly that it borderline made the story incomplete, or just the shear lack of engaging writing to keep me hooked through out the story. These stories made reading feel like work. All in all it was a pleasant and enjoyable book, wrapping up with a sincere afterword from resident H.P.L. scholar, S.T. Joshi. I would recommend this book to those who are looking for some new ideas and easy reads revolving around the Cthulhu Mythos. I hope to see some of these authors again, and also hope to see more publications from Ghostwoods Books that resemble this style and format.
Weirdlings who’ve enjoyed Cthulhu Lives!: An Eldritch Tribute to H.P. Lovecraft, or Salomè Jones’s stuff, have also checked out:
If you have checked out Cthulhu Lives!: An Eldritch Tribute to H.P. Lovecraft, let me know what you think by leaving a comment. And if you like all the tasty bits we gibber about here, become a follower or submit to receive email updates with every new post! Check us out on Twitter @UnspkbleGibberr and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UnspeakableGibberer.