Archive for June, 2009

New D. Harlan Wilson Interview

Posted in Bizarro Authors on June 30, 2009 by carltonmellick

D harlan

D. Harlan Wilson talks about his upcoming book Peckinpah: An Ultraviolent Romance over at The Horror Fiction Review.

Here’s a sample:

“Peckinpah is a critifiction that combines my experience living in a small Midwestern town and a study of the ultraviolent films of Sam Peckinpah. The setting is fictional—a place called Dreamfield, Indiana—but it’s a caricatured version of where I live now in northwestern Ohio, which is basically constituted by the same thing as greater Indiana: rednecks, cornfields, flatness, republicanism, churches, fatasses, etc. I spend the first part of Peckinpah characterizing the absurd social and physical landscape of Dreamfield. By degrees I introduce my protagonist and antagonist and a plotline begins to unfold. Interspersed within this plotline are short essays, meditations, descriptive and analytical passages that engage the filmography of Sam Peckinpah. The action is increasingly ultraviolent in both the narrative and diagnostic parts.”

On another note, this is what Alan Moore has to say about Wilson’s book:

“A bludgeoning celluloid rush of language and ideas served from an action-painter’s bucket of fluorescent spatter, Peckinpah is an incendiary gem and very probably the most extraordinary new novel you will read this year.” – Alan Moore, author of Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Get Off Your Butt and Write

Posted in Writing Related on June 28, 2009 by carltonmellick

If you’re a new writer struggling with getting work done, then your main problem is probably getting your butt in the seat to write.   In order to get work done, you need to either be disciplined or challenged.  If you can discipline yourself then you can write every day.   But most people aren’t so disciplined.   Writing every day is not easy for a lot of people,  just how exercising every day is not easy for a lot of people.   Personally, I get work done by challenging myself with a deadline.  In my opinion, the best motivation for a writer is a deadline… especially when that deadline comes from a publisher interested in your work.   Not many writers are so lucky, but there are other useful methods of getting work done.  Here are some ideas:

1) NaNoWriMo – November is National Novel Writing Month.  Writers all over the world participate in this event.   You have one month to write a 50,000 word novel.  Although many people swear by this, I don’t think it is works because you have nothing to lose if you fail.  Even though I have written several books in less than a month, I have tried the NaNoWriMo marathon and failed twice.  Still, a lot of people swear by it and have done great work by giving themselves a one month deadline to write a 50,000 word novel.   Bizarro authors Gina Ranalli and Bradley Sands have also tried this.  For more information, go to:  http://www.nanowrimo.org

2) The 3-Day Novel Contest – Every labor day,  there is a contest to see who can write a 100 page novel in three days.  To enter, you send in your $50 entry fee.  The best book written during those three days gets publised.  This is an excellent motivation to finish a project, because a) you paid $50 to enter so you will force yourself to finish the book because otherwise you’ve wasted $50…and  b) if you win you’ll get a book published.  I recommend all writers do this at least twice (the first time is miserable for a lot of people).  Not only is it a great challenge, it also really teaches you to throw away the perfectionist instinct and embrace the creative flow.  During this kind of marathon, you might also get into the ‘zone’ where you are so into the book you are writing that you forget you are actually writing a book and feel like you are inside of the story.  That’s my favorite part of writing.  Gina Ranalli has also tried this contest before.  For more information, go to:   http://www.3daynovel.com/

3) Betting a Friend – Another way to work by deadline is to bet a friend $100 that you can finish a book within a certain amount of time.  Maybe a 50,000 word book in a month, maybe a 20,000 word book in a week, or three days.  Make sure to bet a friend who will definitely collect the money if you fail.  This method works because you will definitely finish a project if you know you have something to lose.  If you try this method and fail, then you might want to try again with $300-500.  If you have the choice between finishing a book or losing $500, which would you choose?  You might also want to bet another writer who, in exchange, bets you he can finish his own project during the same time.  That way, if you both fail neither of you has to pay.  I have done a bet like this with Jeremy Robert Johnson and Mitch Maraude in the past.

4) Checking into a hotel – This is my favorite method for getting work done.   I like to isolate myself from the rest of the world (people, the internet, tv) for several days until I finish the project.  I check into a hotel and don’t leave until it is done.  Because I am paying money for every day that I write, I make sure to get as much done as possible per day.  This is seriously the best method of writing that I know.  I like to do this once a month or at least once a season.  In fact, that is what I’m going to do this week.  I’ve got a crappy $30 hotel booked and I’ll be living there until I write at least 100 pages.  So you won’t here from me until the weekend.  I have done this before with Daniel Scott Buck and Mykle Hansen.   This week, Mykle Hansen, Cameron Pierce, and Jeff Burk are all doing writing marathons at the same time as I am.  However, Mykle will be writing at a friend’s beach house, Jeff will be doing it at home, and Cameron will be camping out in the Eraserhead Press office.  I have faith all 4 of us will be successful.

5) Withhold Something – Tell your spouse, roommate, mom, or whoever is closest to you to withhold something from you until you finish your project.  It can be television, your Xbox, the internet, drinking, smoking, sex, spending money.  Whatever you think you would miss the most, forcing you to finish your project as quickly as possible.  If you are overweight a good one would be to have good/fattening food withheld.  So then you would be on a strict diet until you finished your book.  This is good because if it takes you a really long time to write your book, at least you will be losing weight and living healthy during the process.

For additional information on getting stuff done, check this out:

Merlin Mann talks about getting creative things done. He says, “Get comfortable with the idea that you’re going to suck” while advising abandoning perfectionist tendencies and fear of sucking for the sake of improving through doing.

Have a listen:

http://www.boingboing.net/2009/06/19/merlin-mann-on-getti.html

The Bizarro Artwork of Jase Daniels

Posted in Bizarro Artists, Bizarro Books on June 25, 2009 by carltonmellick

There is fantasy art, horror art, and science-fiction artwork. But is there such a thing as bizarro art? I believe so. In order to define bizarro artwork, I’d say it would have to be an image that tells a bizarro story or could easily inspire a bizarro story. With that definition, I would say that Jase Daniels is a definitive bizarro artist. His work is dark, surreal, somewhat cartoonish (in a good way), and it always tells a strange story. It reminds me of the French film Fantastic Planet, or the web cartoon Salad Fingers, or the surreal animated MTV shows from the ’90s like Aeon Flux, The Maxx, The Head, and Liquid Television. Fans of bizarro should take note.

I first discovered Jase Daniels when I picked up his book (a collaboration with bizarro writer Forrest Armstrong) called This City is Alive:

this city is alive

It’s a great book that was nominated for the Wonderland Book Award. Although it is now sold out, it is perhaps the most beautiful bizarro book to be published. It is a short novel with full color illustrations. Forrest and Jase are the perfect match of artist and writer. They compliment each others’ work perfectly. I hope they work together on many future projects.

Last week I got an advance copy of his new book, The Grubby End:


grubby end

It was published by Crossing Chaos, a new company that has released books by some bizarro people like Jase Daniels, Forrest Armstrong, and Tom Bradley (although I’ve heard the company is anti-bizarro for some reason).

The Grubby End is a wonderfully surreal story of pictures, like a 100 page bizarro version of a David Wiesner or Maurice Sendak book. The story is genuinely creepy in style, and weird as hell. It’ll take you on a journey through an insecty world of soggy sky scrapers, maggot eggs, and little goblin-like people. It’s genuinely creepy and weird as hell. It is also 100% bizarro. I highly recommend it.

Here are some samples:
sample1
sample2
sample3

It’s coming soon. Watch for it on amazon.com or crossingchaos.com.

To check out more of Jase Daniels’ artwork, go to his website: http://www.jasedaniels.com

Novels vs. Short Stories

Posted in Writing Related on June 24, 2009 by carltonmellick

Yesterday, Troy Chambers asked:

“What’s the “rule” on having something be considered a novel as opposed to a novella or short novel? What’s the word count?”

Well, these are the official word counts that are recognized by writer’s organizations to define stories, novels, and novellas:

Flash fiction: 0-500 words
Short shorts: 500-1,000 words
Short Stories: 1,000-7,500 words
Novelettes: 7,500-17,500 words
Novellas: 17,500-40,000 words
Novels: 40,000 words and up

(though most mainstream publishers won’t publish novels under 75,000 words, so some people consider novels to be 75,000 words and up)

However, I think most of these terms with word count definitions are bullshit. There are only novels and stories. These two are separated not by word count but plot content. If it has enough plot to be turned into a movie (or a three act play) without needing to add anything then it is a novel. Otherwise, it’s a story. The reason defining a novel/novella/story by word count doesn’t work is because there are works that have enough plot to be considered a novel, but are written in a minimalistic style that keeps the word count low (example: Animal Farm). And I have read works that have such little plot that they must be considered short stories, but are so overwritten that they have really high word counts (example: Stephen King stories). So you can have a 20,000 word novel as well as a 20,000 word short story. I would call a 20,000 word novel a ‘short novel’ and a 20,000 word story a ‘long story.’

Most bizarro books work best in the 15,000 – 45,000 word length. In other words, they are great short novels. I believe bizarro works best in the short novel form because bizarro requires a certain amount of strange elements in order for it to be considered bizarro. The deeper these strange elements are explored, the more bizarre the work will be. A short story just isn’t long enough to do these ideas justice. While there are some great bizarro short stories (such as those by D. Harlan Wilson or those published in The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction), I think the best bizarro works are those published in the short novel form. However, bizarro doesn’t work will in the long novel form because weirdness can get old pretty quick. If Alice in Wonderland was 4 times the length, I never would have gotten through it. If David Lynch movies were three hours I’d never want to watch them. Of course, there are some great bizarro novels like Chris Genoa’s Foop! and Kevin Donihe’s Washer Mouth: The Man Who Was a Washing Machine.

I really love short novels because you can read them in one sitting, like watching a movie. I am glad the bizarro writers are bringing them back.

Pages vs. Word Counts

Posted in Writing Related on June 22, 2009 by carltonmellick

I sometimes get negative reviews from people who are confused (aka pissed off) at the page count of my books versus the word count of my books. Some of my books have tiny fonts, some have big fonts, some have retardedly big fonts. Some have illustrations. Some have a lot of blank space. There’s a bizarro catalog in the backs of the books that gets longer every year. So the page count really doesn’t have any impact on the length of the story. Unfortunately, the page count does have an impact on the price of the book, so I understand why some readers get pissed off at the big fonts. This is why Rose at Eraserhead Press doesn’t let me use big fonts or a lot of blank space these days (even though I personally like the look/feel of these books).

To figure out the real lengths of my books you’d have to look at the word counts, rather than page counts. Here is a list of my books from longest to shortest based on word count:

Electric Jesus Corpse – 150,000 words
Satan Burger – 75,000 words
Punk Land – 55,000 words
Cybernetrix – 45,000 words
Apeshit – 40,000 words
The Cannibals of Candyland – 35,000 words
The Egg Man – 35,000 words
Ugly Heaven – 30,000 words
Adolf in Wonderland – 30,000 words
Sex and Death in Television Town – 28,000 words
Menstruating Mall – 25,000 words
Sausagey Santa – 23,000 words
Fishy-fleshed – 20,000 words
The Haunted Vagina – 20,000 words
Razor Wire Pubic Hair – 20,000 words
Teeth and Tongue Landscape – 20,000 words
Steel Breakfast Era – 20,000 words
Sea of the Patchwork Cats – 18,000 words
War Slut – 18,000 words
Ultra Fuckers – 16,000 words
Faggiest Vampire – 14,000 words
Baby Jesus Butt Plug – 9,000 words

Although I think these reviewers’ complaints are completely valid, many of them have the tendency to claim that my books are actually short stories stretched out with big font and blank space to turn them into 200 page novels. And they say that if a mainstream publisher were to release my books they would only be 10-20 pages long. This is a pretty big exaggeration. A short story is less than 7,500 words. Anything longer than that is a novella or a novel (though I prefer the term short novel instead of novella). My children’s books Faggiest Vampire and Baby Jesus Butt Plug are close to short stories, but all children’s books have low word counts. A normal book has about 250 words per page, so if one of my books were published by a mainstream publisher…let’s say “The Menstruating Mall” which is 25,000 words… it would actually be 100 pages long (rather than 212). So, yeah, the page count is misleading, but it is far from a 10-20 page short story. But is it a ripoff? The industry standard for a 100 page trade paperback is $10 and industry standard for a 200 page book is $12. Menstruating Mall is $10.75 on amazon.com, so it is closer to the price of a 100 page book than a 200 page book. But I agree the page count is misleading. Sorry about that. I do want to add that my newer books, such as Cybernetrix, actually are at a standard font size and do have an average of 250 words per page.

For those of you (like myself) who preferred the large font books, sorry but you won’t be seeing them anymore (except in my children’s books). For those of you who dislike the large font books, these are the books to avoid: Menstruating Mall, Fishy-fleshed, Baby Jesus Butt Plug, Razor Wire Pubic Hair, and Faggiest Vampire (though Faggiest Vampire is a children’s book).

Bizarro Interviews

Posted in Bizarro Authors on June 22, 2009 by carltonmellick

LL Soares interviews bizarro author Jeremy C. Shipp at Fearzone here:

http://fearzone.com/blog/jeremy-shipp

And he interviews Andre Duza on his blog here:

Part One
Part Two

He will also interview Nick Cato, editor of the bizarro fiction imprint Squid Salad Press, on July 1st.

Spockalypse!

Posted in Bizarro Books on June 20, 2009 by carltonmellick

After Wil Weaton (you know, Wesley Crusher from Star Trek the Next Generation) twittered about Jeff Burk’s Shatnerquake, there have been lots of ideas coming in for sequels to the book.

Here are some that I found:

Spockalypse
AfterSpocks (after the Shatnerquake, there are AfterSpocks)
Tsunimoy
Uhuracane
DeForestfire
Shatnerquake 2: Electric BoogSulu

Although I prefer the sequel “Shatnerquest,” these are some funny ideas for book titles.

Here are some fan created covers for said sequels:
(created by Ian Watson)

Tsunimoy

Uhuracane

And the original cover:

the shat

The Dark Washer

Posted in Bizarro Authors on June 19, 2009 by carltonmellick

dark washer

In Kevin Donihe’s book, Washer Mouth: The Man Who Was a Washing Machine, we meet great villain: the Dark Washer. It is an evil washing machine who learned what it was to be human by watching snuff films. Once it becomes human, he becomes a sadistic killer who destroys everything he comes into contact with. Today Donihe has found a real-life Dark Washer. A washing machine filled with pure evil. Let’s pray it does not become human.

Here is the story:

http://www.scarywashingmachine.com/story.html

The Worst Idea Pitch Ever

Posted in Bizarro Authors on June 17, 2009 by carltonmellick

This is a continuation of the Andre Duza story I mentioned yesterday. It features the absolute worst pitch I have ever read in my life. You’ve got to check it out.

In Andre’s words:

Mark Holdom offered me an option for the script, but John got a hold of it first and, thinking that MUF owned the script/movie rights, changed everything around giving them complete (and I mean complete) control. If you want an idea of what giving complete control to these guys would lead to, I offer Exhibit A. Just to give you a bit of backstory, Devil’s Due owns the rights (along with Universal) to the Chucky comic series based on the Child’s Play movies. When we met at San Diego ComiCon this past August, they (Devil’s Due) asked me if I’d be interested in pitching them a few ideas for a four- or-five story Chucky arc. Not exactly my cup of tea, but I sent them a few pitches anyway. John got wind of this and, since he owns me (in his mind), he went behind my back and offered up his own Chucky pitch that included characters from Hollow-Eyed Mary and other characters and real people associated with Devil’s Due. Now, John has never written a piece of fiction in his life. He runs a restaurant (that his family owns) along with his older brother, Jack. So, John then got a place out in LA and went to Devil’s Due’s LA office to ask for a job working on some of their titles and creating his own since he created Hollow-Eyed Mary. They, of course, shot him down.

Exhibit A is the pitch that John sent to Devil’s Due once he found out about the Chucky offer. I cut and pasted it verbatim from the original Word doc. I’m almost embarrassed to post this, but it’ll give everyone an idea about the kind of people I’m dealing with here.

Exhibit A:

THE HALLOWEEN HORROR HOTEL

It starts off on Halloween Night at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in NYC, A secret train comes onto the scene underground and underneath the Hotel, tracks were laid down years ago for secret transport of ex presidents to and from the Hotel. It’s been sealed and closed off for years but a super hacker and wizard (someone who is recognized in the underground hacker community) who works with Edward/Robert Banks aka Banksy, a graffiti artist entity, or Shepard Fairey, (whom ever attaches to the project) uses his skills to open up the tracks without Amtrak finding out. The train is full of clandestine style taggers who are movin in to graffiti bomb the hotel inside and out. Little do they know Hollow Eyed Mary is on top of the train car catching a ride in to do her own personal damage. In the Lobby of the Hotel there is a huge masquerade ball for all the high profile, political, buorgie and artsy types of our nation, with secret service all over the place and top level security cameras and posts all over the hotel except for the train station basement which was sealed years ago and is now supposedly abandoned. The super hacker gets into the camera system and allows the taggers to move around without being seen as they infiltrate to spread their political propaganda graffiti. Everytime u see a scene there is more and more graffiti like in the bathrooms or elevators, outside they hang from the roof on ropes, in hotel rooms and the lobby etc. The hacker loops the cameras in the elevators and such so that they can move around freely. In the Lobby, the dj is a high profile type like Mark Farina, Dj Tiesto, or even possibly the Beastie Boys, Who ever is doing the music is twisted and sinister like vampire bad boy and has somebody all gimped out and gagged in a cage underneath the dj booth and a crow is eating away at the poor tied up chump, he is the masters of ceremony and announces and gives shout outs to famous people and politicians dancing and he is working his magic on the mic to the crowds. On the dance floor and at the bar cool shit is goin on and politicians and all types are mingling and are doin drugs together in the bathrooms and the suicide girls seduce a guy and take him up to their room for a threesome and end up sucking the blood out of him. Clive Barker (Or someone prominent like him) is sweating and frieking out at the party, getting all claustrophobic and he goes up to his room , and there is a tagger outside the window looking in on him without bein seen and Clive turns into this crazy werewolf cause of the full moon and rips his own arm off starts beating himself with it and eats himself to death. All the while Hollow Eyed Mary is slayin secret service guys and politician types at the party . Then you could even have chuckie runnin around doin damage.There can even be a famous tattoo artist or an art or fashion show tied in to the party in the lobby. In the end the hotel is tagged up head to toe w political propaganda and most every body is dead and hollow eyed mary walks away hand in hand w chuckie and the suicide girls are strollin out w the dj vampire. And the train strolls away w the graffiti artists and news broadcast tell the world of the terror that occurred and life just goes on like it was just another day…

It’s so terrible it hurts my brain.

Andre Duza’s Adventure in Comic Book Publishing

Posted in Bizarro Authors on June 16, 2009 by carltonmellick

If you don’t know Andre Duza, you should. He’s a bizarro author who writes very interesting books. Unlike many bizarro writers who write short minimalistic simplistic prose, Andre is a maximalist. His books are for readers who like epics with lush prose and intricate plots. They also usually involve zombies. His novels are Dead Bitch Army, Jesus Freaks, and Necro Sex Machine.

He also has a graphic novel version of Dead Bitch Army:

dba

Here is the pretty awesome preview of the graphic novel:
(Starring Andre Duza himself)

Here is a review in Fangoria:

http://www.fangoria.com

So a graphic novel of Andre’s Dead Bitch Army sounds cool, right? Well, unfortunately, Andre went through a nightmare trying to get this book out there. Not because the comic industry is tough (though it is), but because he ended up doing business with a couple of crooked idiots. For those of you interested in getting involved with the comic industry (or even the publishing or film industry), you’ll probably be interested in reading this horror story.

Andre’s story in Andre’s words:

This all started when a friend of mine (we’ll call him Joe), who had just come into some money through his commercial mortgage business, approached me about investing money in the then titled Dead Bitch Army graphic novel project. He knew that I was trying to salvage the project after my original deal with now defunct Indie Godz Publishing died when the company went under back in ’05. The arrangement was that Joe would give me creative control to do things the way I wanted. He would get his money back on the back-end, and that would be that. Being a comic geek himself, he could say that he contributed to a graphic novel, and it would help to move my career forward. Then he brought this complete idiot (a restaurant owner who we’ll call John) onboard. John started pressuring Joe and behind my back they created MakeUFamous Productions (MUF). Trust me, the name makes me cringe too. Their new goal (fantasy) was to now put together graphic novels out of existing books with the intention of getting some kind of movie deal in the end. Now, their only part in creating the Hollow-Eyed Mary graphic novel was to sign checks. I adapted and wrote the script, hired all the artists (penciller/inker, colorist, letterer, pinups and cover-artist, and editor), and directed the entire project from start to finish. Since they had no knowledge of or experience with the publishing, or movie industries, they wanted me to help them do this. I balked (nicely) about this from the beginning, starting first with the ridiculous name (MakeUFamous) that I, as a serious writer, didn’t want to be associated with. This was only supposed to be a financial contribution on their end for which I was grateful, and did my best to produce a quality product that would hopefully ensure that they made their money back. Secondly, I had already written a screenplay for Dead Bitch Army (which they all knew about and were fine with at first) that I planned to try and sell once the GN was released and hopefully made some noise. John sort of blew off the graphic novel until we started to get positive feedback based on the finished pages.

Joe and I met with a rep from Devil’s Due Publishing in NY and struck a deal (it was he and I who made the initial contact with most of the interested parties, mind you). Suddenly there was interest from producers, first Tony DiDio (Toolbox Murders), then Riyoko Tanaka (The Ring remake & The Uninvited), and finally Mark Holdom (Brown Bunny). Now, all of a sudden John’s brother (who we’ll call Jack) is involved. Then they bring another “money person” (who we’ll call Sue) to the table, who also has no experience in publishing, but did produce a documentary a few years ago that I never heard of.

Next, they tricked Joe so that now he only owns a 25% share of the company and once that happened they started making all sorts of ridiculous demands. They then tried to tie me up with contracts and strong-arm tactics to pressure me into signing over my script, and to give MUF (which is now John, Jack, and Sue) complete creative control over all of my work. When I said “no,” and (again nicely) stated my reasons why, John and crew took it personally and retaliated by first trying to cut off my communications with any potential producers/publishers, then by trying to circumvent the development process with Devil’s Due (which is why the GN didn’t actually come out when it was supposed to) and finally by putting pressure on Devil’s Due to ban me from signing at ComiCon.

John then tried to have my name taken off the book, and was actually planning to go to ComiCon and sign as the author until the attorney that I was forced to hire put him and the rest of MUF in their place. Unfortunately, they’re so drunk on “Hollywood Wannabe” juice that they can’t let go of the fantasy.

So, there you go. John and Jack are still going to ComiCon to act like they created the book by themselves. I had already reserved a room at the Park Central Hotel back when I was discussing the signing schedule with Devil’s Due and I’ll lose the deposit if I don’t go, so the wife and I are just going to enjoy two nights (Fri & Sat) away from the kids in NY. If anyone here makes it to the con, be sure to stop by the Devil’s Due booth and ask MUF, “Hey, where’s Andre?” I’m sure that the bullshit story they’ll give you would make for a great piece of fiction.

For more recent and indepth information on this story, check out the interview with Andre Duza at: Ain’t It Cool News.

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