Suggested stuff to buy this gift giving season #10 – SVK

Wait, you can still get SVK?

Publishers BERG say:

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, SVK is a collaboration we’ve published between writer Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Planetary, Crooked Little Vein, RED), artist Matt “D’Israeli” Brooker (Stickleback, Lazarus Churchyard, 2000AD).

It’s an experimental graphic novella about looking – an investigation into perception, storytelling – and printing with UV ink…

Order now at

Suggested stuff to buy this gift giving season #8 – Darklore Vol 6

Ladies and gentlemen: the sixth instalment of Darklore – a fantastic anthology series covering hidden history, fringe science and general Forteana – is now available for sale.


  • Cat Vincent examines the birth of a modern monster meme: The Slenderman.
  • Mark Foster unlocks the mystery of the ‘Trial Passages’ beside the Giza pyramids.
  • Robert Schoch evaluates the chances of our Sun wiping out modern civilisation.
  • Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince lift the veil on the esoteric foundations of The Royal Society.
  • Neil Arnold goes in search of sewer monsters.
  • Mitch Horowitz points out America’s mystical history.
  • Nigel Watson shares a case of ‘alien contact’ that he investigated.
  • John Reppion sheds some light on Liverpool’s forgotten megalithic history.
  • Martin Shough looks into the strange case of ‘double suns’.
  • Blair MacKenzie Blake discusses the mystery man of 20th century alchemy, Fulcanelli.
  • Greg Taylor points out the astronomical archetype behind depictions of gods and kings in ancient cultures.
  • Jack Hunter heads to the dark side of anthropology and finds the weirdness that doesn’t often get talked about in academic circles.

You can pick up your copy from any number of online retailers through a simple search. But here are the links for Amazon:

Darklore VI Paperback

Darklore VI Limited Edition Hardcover

Suggested stuff to buy this gift giving season #7 – At the Mountains of Madness

Ian J. Culbard’s fantastic adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s classic.

A tale of terror unlike any other: The barren, windswept interior of the Antarctic plateau was lifeless, or so the expedition from Miskatonic University thought. Then they found strange fossils of unheard-of creatures, carved stones tens of millions of years old and, finally, the unspeakable, mind-twisting terror of the City of the Old Ones.

Order now from Amazon

Suggested stuff to buy this gift giving season #6 – Somnium

Written in the early years of the 21st century, when the author (Steve Moore) was engaged in dream-explorations and mystical practices centred on the Greek moon-goddess Selene, Somnium is an intensely personal and highly-embroidered fictional tapestry that weaves together numerous historical and stylistic variations on the enduring myth of Selene and Endymion. Ranging through the 16th to 21st centuries, it combines mediæval, Elizabethan, Gothic and Decadent elements in a fantastic romance of rare imagination.

With its delirious and heartbroken text spiralling out from the classical myth of Endymion and the Greek lunar goddess Selene, Somnium is an extraordinary odyssey through love and loss and lunacy, illuminated by the silvery moonlight of its exquisite language.

With an afterword by Alan Moore, whose biographical piece Unearthing details the life of his friend and mentor Steve Moore, and includes the circumstances surrounding the writing of  Somnium.

Order now from Strange Attractor Shoppe

Suggested stuff to buy this gift giving season #5 – The Definitive Judge’s House

NOTE: not actual artwork for The Definitive Judge's House

The Definitive Judge’s House

  • Introduction and frontispiece by Mike Mignola
  • Endnotes and afterword by Jack G. Voller
  • Bram Stoker Series #6
  •  Printings: December 2011 (150)
  • Style: A5, hand-sewn pamphlet
  • Length: 36 pages


“I was probably about thirteen years old when I read Dracula for the first time. I have no idea why. I ordered it from one of those little book catalogues you used to get in school. I shudder to think what would have happened if, instead, I’d tried to read Frankenstein at that age. It surely must have been in the same catalogue. Maybe I’d be an accountant now. Nothing against Frankenstein, but I know me, and I know it would not have hooked me through the eyeball (and brain) the way Dracula did. I distinctly remember finishing the book and thinking, ‘Well, this is it. I have found my thing.’ It’s like finding that city or, if you’re very lucky, that house where you know you want to spend the rest of your life. And that’s pretty much what I’ve done.”

Just in time for Christmas comes the definitive edition of Stoker’s famous haunted house story, “The Judge’s House”. This facsimile edition, celebrating the 120th anniversary of the tale’s first appearance, reproduces the text from Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories (1914). And especially for the occasion, Mike Mignola, the esteemed creator of Hellboy, has provided an original frontpiece — a portrait of Stoker’s baleful and vindictive Judge — and an introduction entitled “Bram Stoker and I”. Also included is a reproduction (in miniature) of the story’s 1891 appearance in the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News’s Christmas annual, Holly Leaves. Rounding out the booklet are endnotes and an afterword by Gothic scholar Jack G. Voller. And remember, “Rats is bogies, I tell you, and bogies is rats!”

 Order now from The Swan River Press

Suggested stuff to buy this gift giving season #4 – Video Nasties

Video Nasties is a graphic novel based around the disappearance of three students from Redbrook Secondary School ten years ago, written and drawn by Chris Doherty.

Suggested stuff to buy this gift giving season #3 – Vampire Academy GN

This wonderfully tempting graphic novel perfectly brings to life all of the forbidden pleasures of Richelle Mead’s phenomenal Vampire Academy series.

Overseen by Richelle Mead, adapted by Leigh Dragoon and illustrated by acclaimed British illustrator Emma Vieceli, this beautiful new format will be loved by fans old and new.

 St Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school – hidden away, it’s a place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them.

 Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St Vladimir’s where the girls must survive a world of forbidden romances, a ruthless social scene and terrifying night time rituals. But most of all, they must stay alive.

Order now from Amazon

Suggested stuff to buy this gift giving season #2 – A Study in Sherlock

BESTSELLING AUTHORS GO HOLMES—IN AN IRRESISTIBLE NEW COLLECTION edited by award-winning Sherlockians Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger

Neil Gaiman. Laura Lippman. Lee Child. These are just three of eighteen superstar authors who provide fascinating, thrilling, and utterly original perspectives on Sherlock Holmes in this one-of-a-kind book. These modern masters place the sleuth in suspenseful new situations, create characters who solve Holmesian mysteries, contemplate Holmes in his later years, fill gaps in the Sherlock Holmes Canon, and reveal their own personal obsessions with the Great Detective.

Thomas Perry, for example, has Dr. Watson tell his tale, in a virtuoso work of alternate history that finds President McKinley approaching the sleuth with a disturbing request; Lee Child sends an FBI agent to investigate a crime near today’s Baker Street—only to get a twenty-first-century shock; Jacqueline Winspear spins a story of a plucky boy inspired by the detective to make his own deductions; and graphic artist Colin Cotterill portrays his struggle to complete this assignment in his hilarious “The Mysterious Case of the Unwritten Short Story.”

In perfect tribute comes this delicious collection of twisty, clever, and enthralling studies of a timeless icon.

Order from Amazon or The Poisoned Pen

Suggested stuff to buy this gift giving season #1 – SteamPunk Magazine Anthology

At long last, SteamPunk Magazine issues #1-7 are in print once more!

They are bound in this 432 page, lovingly designed anthology released by the collectively-run publisher Combustion Books, with an introduction by Jake von Slatt and a handsome cover illustrated by John Coulthart.

The anthology can be purchased for $20.99 from the independent distributor AK Press or from

Some interesting books lying around the house

There are a handful of books (and booklets) lying around the house at the moment – some have been knocking about for a little while, others newly arrived – which we really should have blogged about by now. I keep spotting them and making a mental note to write just a line or two about each of them, but then work and life conspire to make me forget once again.  So, finally, this is what you get: a slack, hasty post with them all lumped in together under a vague heading just so I can tick “write about all that stuff” of my mental to-do list. It’s better than nothing but less than they (and you) deserve,  so sorry about that.

STRANGE ATTRACTOR JOURNAL FOUR is, as you’d expect, yet another marvelous collection of freaky fortean, occult and esoteric loveliness.

From Haiti and Hong Kong to the fourth dimension and beyond: discover the secrets of madness in animals; voodoo soul and dub music; ancient peacock deities; Chinese poisoning cults; the history of spider silk weaving; heathen mugwort magic; sentient lightning; Jesuit conspiracy theories; junkie explorers; Dali’s Atlantis; the resurgence of Pan (in London’s Crouch End); anarchist pirates on Madagascar; an ancient Greek Rip Van Winkle; French anatomical waxworks; Arthur Machen’s forgotten tales and the full text of Alan Moore’s unfinished John Dee opera.

Yes, Alan Moore’s unfinished John Dee opera! The one he isn’t doing with Gorillaz… even thought they’re still doing it… Wait, what? I don’t know, cheeky buggers, eh?

You can buy SAJ4 direct from the source or from Amazon

POE’S TALES OF MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY HARRY CLARKE – I was given the Arcturus Publishing edition (which I can’t seem to Google up a cover image for) as a belated Birthday/Xmas present and it’s a really gorgeous book. It’s 12 inches by 10 inches which means that the Clarke images are massive!

The works of Edgar Allan Poe, in the rarefied company of Thoreau, Hawthorne, Twain, and Melville, represent the full flowering of American literature in the nineteenth century. By itself, this edition would be an outstanding collection of 29 tales of mystery, suspense, and the macabre; but what sets this volume apart are the magnificent illustrations of Harry Clarke. Many artists have attempted to illustrate Poe, though it is no easy feat to match graphically the powerful effect of Poe’s words on the reader.

You can get the Arcturus Publishing ed. of TOMAI from Abe Books or Amazon


TO MY DEAR FRIEND HOMMY-BEG – THE GREAT FRIENDSHIP OF BRAM STOKER AND HALL CAINE – is the latest booklet in the wonderful Swan River Press Bram Stoker Series.

“Hall Caine was an incredible literary phenomenon, becoming the richest and most popular novelist of the late Victorian and Edwardian era, greatly outselling all of his rivals from Henry James to Joseph Conrad. By the end of the twentieth century all of his novels were out-of-print, and ironically his major claim to fame now comes from being the dedicatee of Dracula, albeit under the disguised family nickname of “Hommy-Beg”. It is a bizarre twist of fate that Bram Stoker is now so much more famous worldwide than Hall Caine — an unbelievable reversal of their roles one hundred years ago.”

This booklet explores the intimate, lifelong friendship between Stoker and Caine in their own words. Accompanying an introduction by Stoker scholar Richard Dalby are rare and un-reprinted pieces including letters, extracts from Caine’s autobiographical My Story (1908) and Stoker’s Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving (1906), Stoker’s introductions to The Works of Hall Caine (1905) and hitherto unknown essay “The Ethics of Hall Caine” (1909), Caine’s touching obituary to Stoker (1912), and a reproduction of Stoker’s inscription to Caine in the latter’s copy of Dracula — printed here for the first time.

The Bram Stoker Series is available by subscription only. For €25.00 (including P&P), subscribers will receive  titles shortly after their publication dates. Subscribe on the Swan River Press site.

Some festive(ish) recommendations

he gift giving season is well and truly upon us once more and it’s entirely possible that you’re desperately looking for the perfect present, or maybe even that you’re still not sure what to ask for yourself.  Perhaps you’re reading this post Yule and have some book tokens burning a hole in your pocket. In any case, the truth of the matter is, we went to Thought Bubble last month (had such a good time that we pulled this face) and picked up some comics which we haven’t had time to write about. So, it being the season of giving and all, what better time could there be to catch up on a bit of blogging and recommend some comics to your good selves?

FALL OF THE WOLFMEN is the follow up to 2008’s supernatural noir crime thriller WOLFMEN. This second  volume is once again penned by Dave West with wonderful, stylish black and white artwork from Andy Bloor. FALL picks up where book one left off but definitely takes things to a new level. Our (anti) hero Jack Grey is hellbent on the destruction of The Wolfmen – the toughest gang south east of the Thames – but it’s not just his own life he’s risking.

Order now at


GRANDVILLE MON AMOUR Bryan Talbot’s Detective Inspector LeBrock returns in another gorgeously realised action packed art nouveau anthropomorphic steampunk adventure.

This time the badger is on the trail of Edward “Mad Dog” Mastock – an escaped serial killer with an intriguing past.

Order now from Amazon




AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS is Ian J. Culbard’s stunningly good adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s classic novella.

The tale concerns an scientific expedition to Antarctica headed by geologist, and Miskatonic University professor, William Dyer. There they find strange fossils of unheard-of creatures, carved stones tens of millions of years old and, finally, the unspeakable, mind-twisting terror of the City of the Old Ones.

Order now from Amazon


HOKUSAI: DEMONS AND OTHER TALES OF THE FOX MOTHER – ‘Kitsune’, the Japanese term for ‘Fox’ is most often used to represent the mythical shape-changing trickster of Japanese folklore. This fox confuses, seduces, and bewitches. Sometimes it has good intentions, other times it just wants your blood. The dreams transcribed in this volume all have a common thread, the Kitsune appears in one form or another, for better or worse. Al Davison first dreamed of the Kitsune when he was only three years old, and has been dreaming of her on and off ever since. Why? A question he often asks himself, and a question he now throws open to you…

Order now from

MADAM SAMURAI is actually a book we picked up many months ago but that we didn’t have time to write about previously.

It’s  a hard-hitting historical adventure story that tells the tale of a young female samurai warrior who travels from feudal Japan to Victorian London on a mission of vengeance. Witten by Gary Young (Harry Brown) and drawn by our old mate Dave Hitchcock at the very, very top of his game this is an absolutely fantastic book.

Order now from

Mr Amperduke

Mr AmperdukeBob “NSFW” Byrne‘s brilliant, silent (well, mostly) GN Mr. Amperduke is now available world-wide through the magic of Diamond (order # NOV09 0705).

That means you need to get down to your local comic shop and order as copy as soon as possible (or you can order a signed and sketched copy direct from Bob)!

It really is a fantastic book and well worth checking out.

Told without words, through over 2,000 comic panels Mister Amperduke is a fast paced, dark and compelling adventure that offers a new mode of graphic storytellling.

Amperville is a miniature city built and maintained by Mr. Amperduke in his basement as a hobby. The tiny inhabitants (called Snodules and not unlike Lego men) live a blissful life in their manufactured utopia until Mr. Amperduke’s cruel grandson drops a large, vicious insect into their world.

The aging Mr. Amperduke is hospitalised while the enraged monster unleashes a devastating rampage on his model society.

Lots more info at

Zombies and murders and bears – go buy!

Got any cash burning a hole in your pocket? Here are a few items definitely worth spending a few quid on.

Defoe 1666Defoe 1666 by Pat Mills and Leigh Gallagher

London, 1668. It is two years since the city was devastated by the Great Fire, the inferno caused by a comet passing over the capital. But from the ashes rose the undead, hungry for the flesh of the living. Protecting the populace are zombie hunters like Titus Defoe, a former soldier who now makes it his mission to purge the ghouls.

In Leigh’s own words “This collection also features around twenty or so panels redrawn/retouched by me, so this is the “remastered” edition if you want to call it that!” so even fans of the 2000 AD strip have a good reason to pick up the book.

More info at

My Aunt Margaret’s Adventure – A Long Lost Tale of Mystery and Suspense, attributed by M.R. James to Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

“My Aunt Margaret’s Adventure” first appeared in the March 1864 issue of the Dublin University Magazine, which was then under the editorship of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. The DUM was a regular venue for Le Fanu’s work. The February issue contained the final instalments of his novel Wylder’s Hand, while the April issue saw the publication of “Wicked Captain Walshawe of Wauling”–“My Aunt Margaret’s Adventure” appeared in the interceding issue. Believed by M.R. James and S.M. Ellis to be the work of Le Fanu, “My Aunt Margaret’s Adventure” shares many motifs, themes, and effects found in the Irish author’s work. This new edition will feature commentary on the story and its authorship by two leading Le Fanu scholars, Jim Rockhill (introduction and annotations) and Gary W. Crawford (afterword).

Published by Brian J. Showers’ Swan River Press these A5, hand-sewn chapbooks are limited to just 200 copies. Order yours now from!

Stuff of Legend The Stuff of Legend by Mike Raicht, Brian Smith and Charles Paul Wilson III

The year is 1944. An allied force advances along a war-torn beach in a strange land, outnumbered and far from home. Together, they fight the greatest evil they have ever known. Never ending waves of exotic enemies come crashing down on them, but they will not rest. Thousands of miles away, the world is on the brink of destruction. But here in a child’s bedroom in Brooklyn, our heroes, a small group of toys loyal to their human master, fight an unseen war to save him from every child’s worst nightmare.

TSOL Book 1, Vol 1 has already sold out (and deservedly so)! Don’t worry though – they’ve gone to re-print.

Visit for more info.

Ordering Information
Reviews My Aunt Margaret’s Adventure
A Long Lost Tale of Mystery and Suspense,
Attributed by M.R. James to Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

On Richard Matheson and audio books

I admit that I arrived fairly late in the 21st century where items of personal hardware are concerned. For example, I am only now just beginning to use my own mobile phone (a bog standard pay-as-you-go which formerly belonged to my Grandmother) as opposed to just using up all my wife’s credit texting “see you in the pub in half an hour” to my mates and then hoping nothing delays them or myself on the way. It should come as little surprise then that up until January of this year I had never owned  an MP3 player.

The purchase of an in-probably small (to me at least) 2 GB Phillips Go Gear didn’t at first seem like anything more than a good way to use up some HMV vouchers but the micro machine has proved very useful indeed.  I am a slow reader – I read to myself at almost the same rate I would if I was reading aloud (this may or may not have something to do with visualisation but that’s getting into a whole different thing and is a discussion author C. E. Murphy would definitely have to be involved with). I also spend all day in front of a computer screen typing and reading and typing and reading. These two factors combine to form a situation in which I do not get a lot of casual reading of novels or even short stories done. I read magazines, bits of newspapers  and, of course, lots of stuff on the web but it takes me a long, long time to get through a novel these days.

I had been aware of the fantastic for a good few years prior to my purchase but I soon realised that listening to audio books, stories and radio plays on a small, portable MP3 player was very different to listening to them on the PC.

So over the last six months or so I’ve been ploughing my way through some fantastic (and admittedly some not so fantastic) stories but it was only very recently that I realised how many of the really good ones were by Mr. Richard Matheson.


Matheson is, of course, a name that most people are familiar with these days thanks to his 1954 novel I Am Legend which was recently adapted into an episode of popular TV sit com The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The original Legend (I admit, I haven’t seen  the Will Smith film) is a fantastic novel  made all the more enjoyable by its very 50s, pulpy language and pacing – Robert Neville is a sweat soaked (anti?) hero who seems to manage to even think through gritted teeth.  Steven King dedicated his 2006 almost-zombie novel Cell to Matheson and George Romero with good reason – Legend is unquestionably the birth of a genre but it’s much more straight and gritty than I expected.

duelMany of Matheson’s stories have made their way onto television and cinema screens. His short story “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet“, for example, was turned into that Twighlight Zone episode where William Shatner goes crazy on a plane! As a result the first of his works I ever came into contact with was Speilberg’s version of Duel. Matheson wrote the screenplay himself and (from what I remember of the film – it’s been a while) stuck very closely to his story. The original is, of course, all about the language however, and writing an engaging  story with hardly any dialogue which is pretty much a car chase from start to finish is no mean feat. Matheson manages to make it work so well that you don’t even realise the complexity of the mechanics involved – the rhythm of the gear changes, the animalistic sounds of the engines. Like Legend it’s deceptively simple and effortlessly executed.

It turns out that Matheson also wrote a book called Comedy of Terrors with Elsie Lee which was later made into a gaudy E. C. Comics-esque film starring Vincet Price, Peter Lorre, Bris Karloff,  Basil Rathbone (what a line up!) and the very lovely Joyce Jameson which I was moderately obsessed with as a younger man. One adaptation of Matheson’s work I’m surprised I’ve never seen however is The Legend of Hell House. The novel (simply entitled Hell House) is noted for it’s similarities to The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson published more than a decade earlier (another one to add to the “to read” list) but with a lot more sex, violence and bad language. I recognised in Hell House the seed of a lot of the horror stories I read in my teens written by the likes of James Herbert and Richard Laymon. Despite all the evil and depravity you could imagine sex is the big sin in Hell House which did make it feel a bit dated at times but the story is undeniably effective and enjoyable with a good few twists (maybe just one too many in the end though).

So, thanks to the internet and the MP3 player, I’ve discovered a new appreciation for an author whose work I already vaguely knew but wasn’t likely to start suddenly reading. I will now definitely be tracking down more of Matheson’s work however.

The audio book is a truly wondrous thing and more authors should embrace the concept. Whilst I am fully aware that I have not paid for the MP3s I downloaded, I definitely would have if there was an easy (and reasonably priced) way to do so. More publishers should make downloads available on their websites and on the likes of Amazon and it should be made as easy as possible to purchase the files. I don’t have iTunes so I don’t know what the availability of audio books is like on there (please do let me know) but I think we need something similar, but more simple and not so brand-centric, just for audio books and stories.

I’m probably way behind on this of course. Maybe I should  ask my Gran?

Save The Chap!

save-the-chapThat fine upstanding, pipe smoking, tweed jacketed, proper cup of tea drinking, cravat wearing, gin sipping periodical The Chap is in trouble. This from

Like many venerable institutions, The Chap has run into financial difficulties, due principally to a disastrous result in the 2.30 at Wincanton. But also the spiralling costs of paper stock, printing ink and distribution services, and of course the increase in tax on tobacco products.

The harsh reality of the current situation is that if the June issue doesn’t go to press, The Chap will cease publication for ever.

So, what can we do to help? Well, we can jolly well dig deep into our pockets!

A donation from any of our readers who feel moved to offer a small gesture of support. One pound from every reader would allow us to print the June issue. Larger contributions would of course also be welcome and would speed up the process towards getting this issue published sooner rather than later, leading to subsequent issues arriving on time and the entirety of our mission continuing apace.

Don’t delay, donate today!

Head over to and send whatever you can spare.

We simply cannot stand idly by and let this great British institution die.


Bryan Talbot’s Grandville – coming October 2009

Grandville by Bryan TalbotBryan Talbot  is a man I could quite happily spend a good few hours in the pub with (in fact I have on several occasions which should explain the story about me and Charisma Carpenter which appeared in his book The Naked Artist) . He is also a genius and a fantastically talented artist who can, it seems, master any style he turns his hand to.

Some of you may remember that, back in the mists of time (well, June last year), I interviewed Bryan about his forthcoming graphic novel Grandville (amongst other things).

Well, now there’s a spangly trailer for the book on You Tube.

Personally, I really can’t wait to get my hands on this!

For more info visit