Archive for the horror magazines Category

Fearsome reboots and having Mark Gatiss’ Babies – Fear’s John Gilbert Interview Part Two

Posted in fear magazine, gary dobbs, ghost stories, ghosts, horror magazines, john gilbert, Uncategorized, writing on 06/21/2012 by vincentstark

In our previous post we talked about the formation and eventual demise of Fear Magazine , and now we look to the future and a possible comeback for everyone’s favorite horror horror and fantasy magazine. – “We have a fantastic young design team and are putting together an international editorial team – a crew of new and original writers.”

Once again Vincent Stark talks to John Gilbert:

VS: Fear’s demise seemed to coincide with a dip in the horror genre itself. It seemed that the genre went from being massively popular to a niche market almost overnight.

JG: I think that fans will only take so much repetition and no matter how good a writer is if they’re working with stereotype plots and characters then it’s a turn off. There is only so much faith you can put in a genre that keeps repeating itself. That said it seems as if someone had applied the defibrillator and there’s a renaissance in the air. Bring on the new monsters because I feel the genre is rising again. I feel it in these old bones.

VS: So do you still read widely in the genre?

JG: Oh yes, I’m still  a massive fan. At the top of my reading pile sits Andrew Neville who writes the kind of horror I like and his style is so polished. Then there are old friends like Mark Morris, Nick Vince and Tom Fletcher. I’m also eager for the long awaited new novel from James Herbert (Ash). But there are many more writers that I need to get to know like Gary McMahon whose work I will explore over the summer months.

VS: What about genre film and TV?

JG:  Stephen Volk is fantastic. I loved Awakening and I still have Afterlife on DVD. Then there’s Guillermo del Toro who is awesome, even in Spanish and finally Mark Gatiss whose babies I would gladly have. I’m also a sucker for Christmas Ghost Stories.

VS: Back to Fear – are you surprised that the magazine is so sadly missed?

JG: Stunned. I knew that copies were being sold on eBay but I never expected the response I got when I started a Facebook page (befriend John HERE). I’ve had many offers to restart the magazine, but the deals have always fallen through. Now though I have enough finances to try again but it is difficult to find a major distributor. The market is apparantly flooded with enough genre magazine. And so in the meantime I have taken the advice of some collegues – I work at Pearson which owns Penguin – and am about to unleash some fiction onto the market.

Hungry Faces – Publication date by Opium Press is now scheduled for 27th September in eBook format and paperback.

VS: I’m glad to see the book will be available as a eBook – I seem to read everything on my Kindle these days. Do you think the ePublishing boom will be good for genre fiction?

JG:  Indeed – the ease in which anyone can produce an eBook means that innovation will out and that good genre fiction can once again prosper. Fans will get what they want and new writers will be able to develop their talents in a public arena. Of course there will be an awful lot of dross out there but that’s where blogs such as this, and magazines like Fear cab provide a service.

VS: So come on tell us about the possible Fear relaunch. There are many of us eagerly waiting to buy the magazine again.

JG: We have a new design team who have already recreated the Fear format but with 21st century tweaks. We will be moving with the times but also serving past subscribers by retaining all they loved about Fear MK1. We will also carry on publishing fiction within the magazine but have yet to take on a fiction editor. The bad news is though that most of the major distributors have declines to stock us, but that will not put us off and we are currently looking for alternative distribution. Once we can prove we have a good reader base then we can go back to distributors.

VS:Which is why Scary Motherfucker has started  a Facebook page to bring back Fear Magazine –  join the campaign folks.

John’s website is HERE

Facebook bring back Fear campaign HERE

I was a Teenage Horror Fan

Posted in fear magazine, horror, horror comics, horror fiction, horror magazines on 06/16/2012 by vincentstark

During the 80’s I seemed to read nothing but horror fiction – it was a boom time for the genre. In the US Stephen King was outselling everyone and over in the UK, James Herbert was topping the best-seller lists. Direct to paperback horror novels were everywhere Guy N. Smith, Shaun Hutson, Gary Brander, Graham Masterton.

It was a great time to be a horror reader – in the newsagents there were magazines like the excellent, Fear  (and we have an interview with editor, John Gilbert here soon) which as well as offering all the latest horror news also published short fiction and encouraged its readers to try and become the new Stephen King. Fear was an excellent magazine and back in the day I never missed a issue, I bought its entire run. The magazine looked at horror in an intelligent way and as well as the latest gore books it also covered the classics such as Poe and Lovecraft. The magazine had a spin off fiction magazine called Frighteners but the first issue had to be pulled off the shelves because of a gory cover illustrating a Graham Masterton story. The story Eric the Pie, has become infamous and many claim it went a step too far and was responsible for the demise of the magazine. Those with a strong stomach can read the story as a PDF from the author’s website HERE. Be warned the story is rather gruesome – it comes from respected author Graham Masterton, author of The Manitou and the author told an interviewer in 1996 that, ‘On reflection I think it went too far.’

Having to pull the magazine after customer complaints dealt publisher, Newsfield a massive blow. Frighteners would go to another two issues and Fear vanished with issue no 33. There’s an interesting article on the demise of Fear and the Frighteners story HERE.

The closure of Fear really pissed me off – I had a short story, Cissy’s Heebie Jeebies lined up for the mag – I really wanted to get some fiction in Fear. Ahh well, I eventually placed the story with small press publication, Peeping Tom where it was well received. During this period there was a vibrant small press with publications like Skeleton Crew, Samhain and Peeping Tom keeping the torch burning for horror fans. And there were still several newstand horror magazines, The Dark Side and Shivers being the most well known, but for me none filled the void left by the demise of Fear.

I wrote for several of the small press magazines as well as interviewing writer, Peter James and being delighted when I managed to sell the piece to the well respected and long running, (still running) Interzone. My own horror novel, entitled Misty remains however in the loft, unloved and unpublished. And to be honest unpublishable.

Horror books though, for the moment, remained numerous in the shops – there were all manner of creature on the prowl. James Herbert may have started it with The Rats but since then we had Slugs, Crabs, Cats, Locusts,bats, snakes and more than the odd slime beast. There were vampires, ghouls and werewolves running wild.

There were some great new talents being published around that period, some who have lasted, some who have not – Steve Harris scored high with a string of chillers starting with Adventureland, Mark Morris wowed us all with his novel Toady and these days writes, among other things, Dr Who novels for the BBC, Michael Slade (actually a team of American lawyers) grossed us out with The Ghoul and Clive Barker burst onto the scene with his innovative Books of Blood.

There was a period when the genre was getting unexpected critical respect. Stephen King analyzed the genre in his Danse Macabre and respected critic and writer, Douglas E. Winter put together the excellent Prime Evil anthology.

New subgenres sprung up – Splatterpunk which was horror’s answer to the Cyberpunk movement and didn’t really mean much – if a book was overly gruesome it was labelled as Splatterpunk. Brian Lumley set about successfully reinventing Lovecraft with his Necroscope books.

So what killed Horror – overkill. The market became saturated and not only with books but slasher movies, each less inventive than the last. The Jason’s, the Freddy’s and the Michael’s ruled the celluloid roost. The Nightmare on Elm Street saga was particularly successful with Freddy becoming something of a superstar and even getting his own spin off TV series.

These days the horror genre is still there but like, the western, it is in a state of recovery – Stephen King no longer writes out and out horror, slasher movies generally go straight to DVD and horror is no longer a certain thing in marketing terms. But have no doubt one day horror will remove the stake from it’s festering heart and return to once again torment the popular culture.



The Demon that Devoured Hollywood

Posted in horror comics, horror magazines on 05/13/2012 by vincentstark

Curtis Magazines was actually Marvel Comics, but the imprint was set up in 1971 to exploit the interest in all things fantastic with the more mature comic book reader. The reason the imprint was set up was because the comic didn’t carry the Comics Book Authority Code and Marvel didn’t want any backlash reflecting on its better selling mainstream titles. Marvel published many comic/magazines using the Curtis name and perhaps the bestselling was the Conan series.

Todays’ strip comes from Monsters of the Movies which had a short run between 1973 and 1974 –
Covering classic and contemporary horror movies, Monsters of the Movies included interviews, articles and photo features. The magazine was an attempt to cash in on the success of Warren’s Famous Monsters of Filmland . The Monsters of the Movies staff was roughly composed of half freelancing West Coast horror fans, and half members of the Marvel bullpen located on the East Coast.


Our strip this week is The Demon That Devoured Hollywood written by the famous Roy Thomas, with art by Barry Smith.


Legal Note: These scans come from my own comic collection, and I do not own the copyright. The scans are presented to illustrate articles looking at the considerable contribution comics have made to popular culture, and will be removed if requested by the copyright owners. Where possible we have obtained permission for the use of copyrighted imaged.







































































































































































The blood runs FREE – the final stages

Posted in a policeman's lot, classic horror, classic horror campaign, george romero, horror fiction, horror magazines, HORROR MOVIES, horror novels, HORROR WRITERS, the dead walked, the rhondda ripper, the undead, the walking dead, thrilles, vincent stark, walkers walkers everywhere, WALKING DEAD, wild bill williams, zombies on 05/12/2012 by vincentstark

We’re on the final stages of the free eBook promotion – Indeed Arkansas Smith II, has now reverted to the usual price but there’s still time  to grab free downloads of The Dead Walked and The Rhondda Ripper. So if you haven’t secured your free copies then do so now.

The aim of this promotion was to kick start the books in the increasingly competitive Amazon market place and I do hope that those who downloaded free books will eventually leave reviews on Amazon, and that all those who downloaded the first part of The Dead Walked trilogy will be back for the second book in the series later this summer.

And please, all my Blogging buddies, publicize this offer on your blogs, websites etc. Let’s make these final two days go with a rush of downloads.

Sill available for free:
The Dead Walked Book One by Vincent Stark

The Rhondda Ripper by Gary M. Dobbs

THE RHONDDA RIPPER: The story begins slowly, a man’s morning routine as he gets ready for duty and faces the possibility of a busy day, but he has no idea how “busy” it’s going to get! Throw in Buffalo Bill, a Wild West show, murders that may or may not be connected to Jack The Ripper, and you have a really hot read. I don’t want to say too much for fear of giving something away, but it’s a well-written yarn and you will get hooked right away. It’s also, for me, a nice change of pace from the modern urban hard-boiled junk I’ve been digesting lately. Brian Drake

THE DEAD WALKED – Vincent Stark, otherwise known as Gary Dobbs, presents a new look at the zombie story. A group of people trying to survive in a world gone nuts. Sound familiar. Of course.But Stark has injected his own elements into the story. A pregnant woman and a plot thread I’ve not seen in a zombie story before. The ending threw a twist in and sets up the next part of the story, coming soon.

Zombie stories are not a type I read a lot of, but I’ve come to expect good stuff from Stark/Dobbs/Martin, whatever genre he writes in.I read this one straight through while drinking coffee early this morning.Recommended.  George R. Johnson

A Golden Age for Horror

Posted in horror, horror comics, horror fiction, horror magazines, HORROR MOVIES, horror novels, horror short stories, HORROR WRITERS on 12/12/2011 by vincentstark

Horror tends to thrive during times of crisis, offering catharsis, escapism and a metaphoric means of coping with problems that seem unsolvable.

Historically this has always been the case. It certainly was true during the Great Depression, when Universal Pictures was rescued from bankruptcy by its golden age of horror film – Dracula, Frankenstein , The Invisible Man , the Creature from the Black Lagoon  and all the other creepy creatures that lit up the silver screen, offering escapism to cash strapped moviegoers. Right across the spectrum of modern media horror is booming – take the two biggest successes in popular literature over recent years – Harry Potter and Twilight and whilst neither are strictly horror they both use many of the conventions of the genre. TV shows like The Walking Dead and American Horror are massively popular, and of course HBO’s True Blood is still holding its own. The horror novel is most certainly on a high. There are some great writers out there from the well know masters such as Stephen King, Clive Barker, Jack Ketchum and others to relatively new names like Christopher Ransom, Joe Hill, Max Brook and (dare, I say it) Vincent Stark. The latter of course is wishful thinking since his debut horror novel, following a string of bestselling westerns,  isn’t due out till the end of the month and he is me

So why is it that during shitty times we turn to the dark side? Maybe it’s the increasingly polarized political landscape, generating so much us against them rhetoric. Perhaps it has something to do with all the  college students’ fears of  being unable to find work or middle-aged parents’ worries about keeping their homes. Then again maybe its something to do with the fact that we, in Britain at least, have the Dark Party in government. Or maybe it’s just the fact that we, viewers,readers, like the safe scares that films and books provide. And whilst it is true that thought-provoking horror works are few and far between recent years have seen several horror novels of real depth – Låt den rätte komma by  John Ajvude Lindqvist , known by its Anglo title of Let the Right One In (I’ve not enjoyed a novel as much as this is years)is a masterpiece of literature whatever the genre, and Christopher Ransom has taken age old themes and twisted them through modern sensibilities. Both of these writers need to be read by anyone interested in the horror genre.   And it’s the same with film and TV and for every predictable slasher of the week flick you will find films and programs of true worth. Horror as a genre is changing, mutating and it is at last gaining some of the acclaim that has been denied it through snobbery for far too long. Stephen King is no longer considered a hack writer and real critics are dissecting his work  and finding relevance to the society we live in – something  all great writing mirrors.   And this is a good thing because for too long horror has been consigned to the ghetto and looked down upon with disdain and yet TV shows like American Horror Story, Being Human, The Walking Dead and True Blood are popular with mainstream audiences, horror novels are read by millions and fright films are always popular.

Yep this truly is a golden age for horror – and ain’t that just fine and dandy!

Confessions of a horror fan

Posted in horror comics, horror fiction, horror magazines, HORROR MOVIES on 08/18/2011 by vincentstark

For a period in my early Twenties I was a horror nut – my viewing and reading had to be in the scary genre, I voraciously read the works of Stephen King, James Herbert, Clive Barker, Guy N. Smith, Shaun Hutson, I became friends with horror author, Steve Harris after interviewing him for a magazine, I would stay up until stupid-O’clock if anything even vaguely horror related was on the TV. For several years back then I used to write for magazines like Samhain, Skeleton Crew, Interzone, Peeping Tom and even selling a spooky little story to the radio. Alas, this one was never broadcast and seemed to vanish with the change of producers. I wrote many stories for the small press horror mags, all the while wishing I could be as prolific as D. F. Lewis who seemed to pop up everywhere – anyone remember him?

There was a great magazine out called Fear and I never missed an issue – it was published by Newsfield Publications who were big in the computer gaming magazine market. The magazine was edited by John Gilbert, a huge and knowledgeable horror fan, and featured as much coverage of books as it did of films. For a genre magazine it was very intelligent and I was gutted when it eventually folded.

It was this magazine that encouraged me to try the old masters – Poe, Lovecraft and co. And although I moved onto other genres I still hold a lot of these old macabre classics in high esteem. The Monkey’s Paw, for instance, I still rate as one of the best short stories I’ve ever read. And I was once so into Poe that I wrote a short story entitled, A Continuation of the facts concerning M. Valdermar.

These days the horror genre seems to be gore obsessed rather than concentrating on creating unease in the reader/viewer it goes for gross out which, in my opinion, isn’t half as effective. The big names are still out there Stephen King especially and although James Herbert is still writing I find his recent books derivative and think his last classic was the elegiac Magic Cottage.

So has the horror genre lost it’s bite?

I don’t think so – like the western, the horror genre has been pronounced dead many times but it’s still out there kicking about, refusing the remain in its mouldering grave.

Literary creature features

Posted in horror fiction, horror magazines, horror novels with tags on 07/04/2011 by vincentstark

When James Herbert published The Rats in 1974 not only did he have a worldwide best-seller on his hands but he also invented a horror fiction subgenre – let’s call it Creature-thrillers as a nod to the 1950’s/1960’s Creature Feature movies.

Herbert said he thought of the story after watching Todd Browning’s Dracula on the television and being horrified by Renfield’s description of his nightmare involving hordes of rats. The author also recalled the packs of rats he had seen on London’s old bomb sites during his childhood and he brought the feelings of dread the creatures had always inspired in himself to his first novel.

“It seemed like a good idea at the time, I was as naive as that.” James Herbert, talking about writing The Rats.

The book met with a poor critical reception but the first print run sold out within three weeks and the book’s remained in print ever since. For many the book was too graphic and the overall theme too pessimistic but what Herbert did was bring a particular working class form of horror to the table and there was a theme of criticism of a government who were not doing enough for the poorer elements of society.  It’s written in a very visceral style and totally enjoyable but it’s so much more than it appears on the surface. And of course the true measure of its success is in the amount of imitations it spawned.

Herbert was very much in the right place and at the right time and almost simultaneously with The Rats, an American writer named Stephen King was getting his first taste of success with Carrie – all of a sudden the horror genre was big business. And of course The Rats was riding on this wave of  popularity – there were a slew of imitators – Maggots, Snakes, Cats, Worms, Bats, alligators, frogs and even absurdly Slugs all turned feral and went for the human population.

Guy N. Smith’s Crab series was one of the first to cash in on the success of  Herbert’s rodents with Night of the Crabs and in all he wrote six Crabs books but unlike many of the Herbert imitators these books were actually quite good in their own right. Indeed the series still has a cult following and in 2009 the first book was reissued in a deluxe hardcover edition. Guy runs his own book business, Black Hill Books and many of his titles can be bought there and it also carries an extensive range of classic paperbacks in all genres.

Smith would go on to write many more creature thrillers featuring Bats, snaked, alligators and even a variety of creatures in the vastly entertaining, The Abomination but by far his most popular series was and remains, The Crabs.

Another entertaining creature thriller was Spiders by Richard Lewis which actually spawned a sequel, The Web. I read both of these books many years ago and remember enjoying them both immensely and whilst I don’t know what I’d think of them these days I do have fond memories of them.

The reason for these animals going feral was usually some ecological disaster or scientific experiment, although there were one or two examples where the reason was supernatural but for the most part it was bizarre scientific experiments that provoked the horror. In fact, off the top of my head, I can’t really remember any of the books where the reason for the crazed creature outbreak was supernatural.

Eventually the creature thrillers fell out of favour and horror readers went for more sophisticated novels but the genre was reinvented briefly in the 90’s when Shaun Hutson wrote perhaps the most stomach churning series of all, Slugs.This time there was no holds barred and there is even a scene where a guy is sitting on the toilet and one of the killer slugs goes up his arse.

But back to the originator of this little horror sub-genre, James Herbert – there were three follow ups to The Rats. Lair was a great second story and the third book, Domain took up the story of the mutated rodents in the aftermath of a nuclear war and although this is a good premise the book was not as successful in terms of story as the previous two.  It sold by the truck-load, though.

These books made up a trilogy but there was another story with the graphic novel, The City which is again set in London after a nuclear war. Though when people talk about the Rats trilogy they mean the three novels proper with the graphic novel considered something of a companion piece.

This article gives just a taster of all the creature thrillers out there – go on give one a try but beware one thing they all share in common is their extremely graphic scenes.

A strong stomach is advised.