Hey friends, Zakk here, good morning (afternoon, evening) to you. I hope this day sees you well. In this day and age of near constant chaos and anxiety, we as humans must find a glimmer of happiness to grasp, put in our breast pocket, close to our heart. To help ward against the evil eye of 2020. It will be the only way not to be consumed by life, which happens to be extra ravenous right now. Please allow me to share this with you, one of our own in the horror community finding his glimmer, his talisman.
How COVID-19 Reignited my Love of Comics, a guest post by Pete Mesling.
It all began with Alan Moore. Not my love of comic books. That goes back to childhood, of course, and the silly adventures of Richie Rich and Archie Andrews, followed by those of Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, The Fantastic Four, and of course Superman and Batman. But my love of the comic form was rekindled recently when I slid Brighter Than You Think off my shelf and dug into it once and for all. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been enjoying all kinds of great isolation reading: Alan Clark’s Mudlarks and the Silent Highwayman, Greg Renoff’s Ted Templeman: A Platinum Producer’s Life in Music, King’s Revival, Eric Schlosser’s Command and Control, Mark Dawidziak’s The Columbo Phile, and even some Penelope Lively and Truman Capote (not to mention such audiobooks as The Castle of Otranto, The Great God Pan, and Erik Larson’s Dead Wake).
But one night I realized that partially read books were beginning to stack up on my nightstand. Reading multiple books at a time used to be a chronic condition with me, but I thought I’d overcome it. Let’s call it a New Year’s resolution that actually seemed to be taking hold. I have books all over the house. We must be pushing twenty bookcases by now. So I figured I needed to make a temporary break with the titles I had going and seek out a volume that would grab my lapels with a vengeance and not let me go until I finished it.
I ventured into the basement, where all of my graphic material dwells, along with my television and film books, works related to music, and various mass-market genre fiction editions. It was the shelves of comic books that called to me straight away. The Clive Barker section is copious, and he almost won out (maybe a re-reading of the Tapping the Vein stories, or a trip through the best Hellraiser tales). As did graphic novels based on the fiction of Richard Matheson and Robert Bloch. Or maybe a wordless novel in woodcuts by Lynd Ward was what the doctor ordered.
In the end, my eyes fell upon the Alan Moore section, and I knew immediately that it was where I would find the night’s reading material. What I didn’t realize at the time was that a single unread volume of Moore’s shorts in the graphic medium would send me into a renewed love affair with funny books, especially Moore’s, but also including Will Eisner and some newer Japanese fare. Already I’m coming out of the welcome trance, dipping into more and more prose fiction and nonfiction once again, but it was a deep dive that has left a mark. From Hell, Swamp Thing, Watchmen … A Contract with God. I knew these works—though I came to Moore’s and Eisner’s comics later than some in my generation—but this was a rediscovery that bordered on stepping into the same river twice.
Why now? Why during the pandemic lockdown? I wonder if part of it is that comics take me back to the comforts of childhood, at a time when comfort can feel out of reach. Comics were, in a sense, how I learned to read, so there’s a great deal of nostalgia there, in addition to the inherent legitimacy of the form. Whatever the case, they have broken the inertia of that growing stack of partially read books on my nightstand.
It isn’t going to know what hit it.
- Pete Mesling
Synopsis for Jagged Edges & Moving Parts:
In these collected tales of terror, you will visit worlds familiar and foreign, witness frights credible and extraordinary ... encounter villains human and otherworldly. If the stories have one common attribute, it is that they deliver suspense like a burning fuse while putting forward a distinguishable and consistent literary voice, a kind of rope handrail in a dark cave that keeps spelunkers just assured enough to continue moving from one unknown to the next. It may not be the magnitude of the darkness explored here that is of greatest interest, however, but the fact that unexpected moments of humanity, courage, and thoughtfulness are allowed to gain a foothold from time to time, often against seemingly impossible odds.
Jagged Edges & Moving Parts may be an exploration of the darkest corners of our shared existence, but it is also rooted in a belief that if people can be as ruthless as monsters, they can also be every bit as astonishing.
A little about Pete Mesling:
Welcome, traveler. If you're a fan of dark fiction, you've come to the right place. Much of what I write can be considered horror. Some stories are more in the line of crime and suspense. All are fantasy in one sense or another (is any fiction not?). Some tales are set in the here and now. Some will whisk you off to wholly imaginary settings. But all of them, rest assured, are plenty dark. It's just where my writer's imagination tends to lead me.
There's light along the way, of course. Humor, love, compassion, empathy, justice, honor, and loyalty, for instance. Occasionally I even try to leave you with a scrap of hope. But I write what I see, and I cannot apologize for that. What I see is my truth. If I can't trust in that, I have nothing to lean on, and nothing to offer.
As a reader, I have always loved short stories, poetry, and novels. The same has proven true for me as a writer. That means I'm easily distracted from my novel writing by a sudden, compelling idea for a short piece. But novels are coming, I assure you, and they will be the best work I can possibly give you. Until then, I hope to alarm and enlighten with the foreshortened terrors teeming in my brain. They, too, are delivered with exceeding care and attention.
Remember, there is a deep, eternal sadness in being human: a deliciously morbid attachment to the ephemeral. We squander this gift at our own peril.
This Guest Post was brought to you by Zakk Madness.
Zakk madness is a 40 something horror nerd and yo-yo enthusiast. He is not a critic, but a big fan of horror fiction. He is into black metal and dumb & dark humor. Former reviewer for The Mouths of Madness Podcastshow, he currently reviews as The Eyes of Madness. When this chaotic life is keeping him from reading he is spending what free time he has with his wife and their three sons and one animal, a minpin-chihuahua named Freddie.