Morons Abound.

Sometimes I wonder why I ever bother to write horror fiction. The real world provides more than enough of it.

I once saw a clueless tourist walk up to a bull bison in Yellowstone. The bison was lying down in the dust. Massive, one-ton beast. The tourist walked up to the furry critter and leaned back against the bison’s spine so that his equally stupid wife could snap a photo.

Unfortunately, the bison took it all in stride and did not squash the two morons into paste. But it could have (and probably should have) been otherwise.


Another time I saw an idiot tourist in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park walk up to a bear and begin to toss it slices of bread, one slice at a time. After a few tosses the bear realized the freaking moron had a whole bag of bread and was just doling it out like a greedy asshole. So the bear charged. To, you know, get the whole bag. The moron tourist had his tiny toddler daughter beside him. When the bear charged he ran. Just left his tiny girl there, alone. Fortunately for them all, he dropped the bag of bread and so the bear veered aside at the last possible second and did not trample the toddler. (It had no interest at all in the girl, only the bag of bread.)


A few years back I hiked into the Shining Rock Wilderness Area. It was on a Saturday so that wilderness was packed to the gills with humans, many of them having set up tents. This wilderness does not allow fires (signs posted at all trailheads), and being a wilderness, all plants and trees are protected. As I hiked along the air was filled with firesmoke. Every campsite had a campfire. In addition, I saw people with axes chopping not just dead, dry timber, but actively felling living trees. I even saw some of these scumbags chopping down living rhododendron.


We don’t have anywhere near enough rangers (a classic case of politicians trying to starve our parks and wilderness areas into extinction); but I also cannot imagine being a National Park ranger and having to put up with so many idiots.

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Two-Fisted Tales

I’m always hunting for bargains on cool, Golden Age comics. When I was a young man I had a really impressive EC comic book collection. For those of you who don’t know about EC, it was the company owned by Bill Gaines who published Mad Magazine. Before he had Harvey Kurtzman create Mad for him (it started out as a comic book), he published comics. But he didn’t just publish comic books. He published arguably the finest comic books ever created.

Gaines had a canny eye for talent and he intentionally went after the best comic artists in the business to work for him. You had to be something special to lay down the lines for EC. The artists who passed through its doors as employees is simply amazing. Jack Davis. Frank Frazetta. Al Williamson. Roy Krenkel. Bill Elder. Al Feldstein. Harvey Kurtzman. John Severin. Reed Crandall. George Evan. Wally Wood. Bernie Krigstein. Joe Orlando. Jack Kamen. Graham Ingels…If you weren’t among the finest, you didn’t work at EC.

Years ago I sold off my EC books. The most I ever owned at any one time was 160 individual EC comics. But, like everything else that was collectible in those days, I sold. I was, after all, a retail merchant and that’s what that stuff was to me. Product to be moved out, generally as quickly as possible. The ECs I managed to hold onto for some years, but they went out the door. It didn’t take very long to sell them all.

These days I pick them up from time to time when the right deal comes my way. This past week I managed to grab a couple of issues of TWO-FISTED TALES. TWO-FISTED was an adventure comic, often with true stories featuring interpretations of actual events. John Severin did the lion’s share of the cover art and seemed to have a story in almost every issue. It was his kind of book. That was something else about Gaines and his editors–they knew what kind of story fit a particular artist.

Alas, EC was killed off by the right wing madness that swept the USA during the 1950s. It was deemed that comic books were dangerous stuff for kids, leading them to become delinquents, drug addicts, and communists. So the kind of story that EC published–stories that pushed envelopes and crashed through barriers–couldn’t be done there anymore, so Gaines sadly pulled the plug on his comic book empire, banking his publishing future entirely on one title–MAD MAGAZINE, which went to magazine format to circumvent the Comics Code Authority that had emasculated his other books.

So. Here are two old EC comics that I was able to grab for my personal collection. Nice books!

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Super Drag, the Insult Super Hero (NSFW)

My latest creation:

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Fantastic Four #28

Yesterday I read some good news for the family of Jack Kirby. As those of you who frequent this blog will know, I admire Jack Kirby quite a lot and I’ve always been horrified of the way he was stripped of the acknowledgment that he created most of the characters that generated the success of Marvel Comics. With few exceptions, one can point to virtually all of the superhero comics of Marvel’s early days and find the hand of Jack Kirby solely involved in their creation.

Yeah, yeah, he’s supposed to be “co-creator”. Even Ernest Hemingway had an editor. Big deal.

The first things that I recall actually reading were comic books. And the first two comic books that I ever read were illustrated and written by Jack Kirby. Either my mom or my dad bought me a few comics at a local bookstore on Norwich Street before I was even old enough to go to grade school. The first of these comics was Fantastic Four #4. I was amazed and read the damned thing to pieces.

I wanted to read some more of this stuff, so my mom took me to the used bookstore where she’d bought that one and I found another issue in the stacks. This one was Fantastic Four #12. Of course I loved the issue and never forgot the story and those amazing images.

After that, though, it was mainly Disney comics and Jesse Marsh adaptations of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ JOHN CARTER. These were the only comics I could get from relatives and family members for a time, and so I didn’t get to see any more superhero comics until we moved to Atlanta and my dad opened his first bookstore. And then, brothers and sisters, I had so many comics to read it should have been a crime.

The first superhero comic that I can recall reading after my dad opened his store was Fantastic Four #28. It was probably only a year old at that point, and once again I found myself hooked on superhero books. This time there were no limitations because soon my dad had about a quarter of a million of the damned things stacking up in his warehouse and I could read them at will. And there was a drug store down the street from our house that had the new ones on the stands. And my pals all read comics and their big brothers read comics and we’d all sit around talking about them and trading them and reading them.

Today I finally landed a reader’s copy of Fantastic Four #28. It’s not an investment quality book, but I just wanted to hold it in my hands and look at it the same way I did when I was a kid in the third grade in Decatur Georgia.

Yep. It brought back some good memories. If I close my eyes I’m still living on Mead Road and my pal Wayne Culver lives one street over. We’re probably going to go walk to the hobby shop and look at the latest Aurora kits and see if the new issue of Famous Monsters is on the stands. Maybe he found some new Outer Limits trading cards I don’t have. And we’ll talk about the Fantastic Four, of course.

My own copy of Fantastic Four #28, featuring Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four and some of his other creations, the X-Men.

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He’s Out There (really. he is)

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Extinct Ratites

The birds in my novel THE FLOCK are Terror birds, also known as Phorusrhacids were an extinct form of the modern type we know as ratites. These are almost all large birds that are flightless. Most of them today are much smaller than the Terror birds and are herbivorous rather than carnivorous. Why the herbivores thrived while the flesh-eaters died out is a matter for paleontologists to puzzle. About the closest we have to the Terror birds these days would be the Cassowary which is considered the most dangerous living bird, having killed a total of two human beings in the past few hundred years. I’ve read that they do occasionally chase down and consume insects and small reptiles, thus making them omnivorous rather than strict herbivores. Like most of today’s amazing creatures, they’re near extinction.

Recently, I read that the eggshell of the extinct Aepyornis, the heaviest bird known to have ever lived, gave up its DNA. This is, I suppose, something of a genetic coup, but I don’t know if it means that the species can be resurrected. From what I’ve read on the subject, I rather doubt it. Still, it’s interesting to know that the DNA of these critters can be recovered and studied, if not actually used to recreate the lost animals. Which is a shame, of course, because unlike the Terror birds who exist only in my novel, ratites such as Aepyornis and the moas of New Zealand were killed off by humans and not by the normal means of Natural Selection.

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Hometown Jinx

For some reason I have never been able to generate any exposure for my writing here in town. I’ve tried getting the local press to cover my various releases, but nothing doing. Today (November 21) I held my first hometown signing for the release of the trade paperback version of THE FLOCK. The store (Park Road Books) was a nice enough shop, and they were kind to give me space and promote the appearance. But for the first time ever for one of my signings, I didn’t sell a single book. Not one. Oh, well. It was bound to happen.

So it goes.

Looking forward now to some signing events out of town. We’re planning Atlanta, Asheville, Boston, etc. Better luck points north, west, south and east than here in Charlotte.

Signing event.

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Zombies Bought My Groceries!

Well, just in time for the book tour, but too late to capitalize from the news, it looks like my agent Robert Fleck has completed the contracts for a publishing deal for my zombie novel, THE LIVING END.

I’ll post details when the ink is dry on the contracts and everything is cool to announce.

Artwork that my pal Mark Masztal did for a proposed illustrated version of the manuscript.

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