Friday, January 28, 2011

Cosmic Horror - Human Vision: The Art of Mike Dubisch Seeps Into Burbank, California February 1st -15th

Before I loved Lovecraft, I loved comic books.  And before I loved comic books, I loved Dungeons & Dragons.

I reveled in the images and situations it conjured up in my young, searching mind - images it forced ME to conjure, as if a barely willing apprentice unsure in his craft.  Looking back, it was the first true creative storytelling that I ever undertook, outside of fibbing to my mother about where I was all day, and why my mouth was missing a tooth and my bike most of its spokes.

Alone in my room or around a giddy, soda-stained gaming table, I'd drift for hours in waking dreams, striding the fantastical, endless world organized - but certainly not solely created - by Gary Gygax, marveling at the possibility of infinite realms where anything weird, wonderful, and horrify was possible.  I'd ruminate on the low violence of high fantasy.  Spare with the gods and monsters.  Taste the steel, sweat and sulphur of sword, and of sorcery. It was my cloak against the mundane regular world.  It was imagination personified.

Fortunately, these reveries were fed by the plethora of artwork that accompanied the first wave of D&D in the late 1970's.  The Monsters Manual.  The Tomb of Horrors.  Dragon Magazine.  Man alive, Dragon Magazine... (deep sigh).  It ALWAYS had the most amazing covers, with all the best fantasy artists, including icons like Boris and, of course, the Grand Master Frank Frazetta.  I'd stare at these covers for hours, wondering what was around the next bend in the landscape, wishing it were all real...

I'd like to think that Mike Dubisch grew up the same way, imagining and dreaming from the same fuel, peering into shapeless vistas and giving them form and purpose and monstrous intent.  Judging by the subject matter, range, and enthusiasm of his artwork, I might be on to something.  Take a look...

I first met Mike Dubisch at the 1st Annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival last September.  We (and renowned Perilous Press author Cody Goodfellow, who was just named by Ellen Datlow as one of the Best Horror Writers of 2010, along with fellow Cosmicomicon friends Joseph S. Pulver and Wilum Pugmire, among others) spent several minutes chatting about the the past, present, and future of Lovecraftian/Mythosian/Weirdish art, literature, and film.  I must say that I enjoyed it thoroughly, especially as it was one of the first interviews I conducted that day, on assignment for (home to all things Call of Cthulhu, and the best and most active Lovecraftian message on the net).

Just four short months later (has it really only been that long?), I'm taking time out of my Friday night to wrestle with blogspot to vigorously pimp his latest show, thankfully dropped on earth at the Hyaena Gallery, just mere miles from Cosmicomicon HQ, as the raven flies.  I do this because he's that good.  His work is that cool.  

Instead of blathering on, I'll post some of his work, and you be the judge.  Mike's most recent work is the Black Velvet Necronomicon, which goes a little something like this.

Mike's show at the Hyaena Gallery opens on February 1st, 2011, and runs through February 15th.  Opening Reception is Saturday, February 5th, from 8 pm til the witching hour.  That's where I'll be.
Artist Mike Dubisch has been making waves in the world of H.P.Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos fandom for the last few years. His art was featured at the H.P.Lovecraft Film Festivals in Portland Oregon and LA.

His drawings and paintings of dark fantasy have appeared in numerous publications for Star Wars, Dungeons & Dragons, IDW, and Aliens VS Predator. His painting for Mythos magazine "Strange Aeons" Holiday issue was chosen for inclusion in the Frank Frazetta Tribute Exhibition in march, honoring the late grand master of fantasy illustration.

Dubisch will present an assortment of recent horror, mythos and monster based art, all with his unique sympathetic approach, finding a beautiful elegance, personality and deeper meaning in the genre of horror fantasy art.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Happy Belated Birthday to Our Dark Grandfather, as the "Poe Toaster" Goes Missing

Edgar Allan Poe, the headwaters of nearly all great American Gothic, horror, and darkly weird tales, would have been 202 yesterday, January 19, 2011.
On this topic, had any of you heard of  this, as reported in the Los Angeles Times?:

BALTIMORE (AP) — Telltale hearts beat with anticipation during a rainy, midnight dreary and beyond, hoping the mysterious visitor to Edgar Allan Poe's grave would return after a one-year absence.

But once again, the unknown person who for decades has left three roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac at Poe's grave on the anniversary of the writer's birth failed to appear Wednesday, fueling speculation that he may have died.

Four impostors came and went overnight. The real one never showed. Around 5 a.m., the dozen Poe fans who were left began to wonder if the eerie ritual is indeed nevermore, so they walked to Poe's tombstone and performed their own tribute by leaving roses and drinking a cognac toast.

A fascinating tradition that ran for some 60 years and was never fully explained appears to have ended at the downtown Westminster Hall and Burying Ground.
I hope you're finding the peace in the Afterlife that you sadly couldn't in Life, Grand Dad.  We owe you all the beautiful darkness we have.

You Know You've Made It When...

... you've become the star of your own eldritch bookmark. 

Special thanks to Nick Gucker for the art, and my Ives for the sheen.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Super Massive Black Hole "Beyond Human Comprehension"... Or, How I Suck as a Parent

I'm a horrible parent. 

I say this because I lie to my daughter.

Tis true.  I constantly tell my precious, inquisitive little squidlet such lies about life, death and the nature of the universe.  That all dogs go to heaven.  That the North Pole is currently populated by industrious gnomes.  That Bikini Bottom is real.

That black holes aren't.

I know black holes are real, even if scientists can't come out and officially agree with me.  But, much like Cthulhu and zombies and mummies and yams, I tell her that they're not real, as confirmation of their actual existence would sent her tittering down a fearful spiral that would keep her up for weeks (all but ending "mommy and daddy time").  And unlike the other dark creatures listed (aside from maybe the yams), she truly is DEATHLY afraid of black holes.  And why shouldn't she be?  She's seen their blind destructive wrath through the power of impressive animation, after apparently intently watching - unbeknownst to me, mind you - the "Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking" ep on the viability of black holes, when I thought she was merely playing with her Littlest Petshop toys near the television.  But no, she watched the entire thing.  In silence.  She must have sat there in meeping terror, a hat-wearing plastic snail clutched limply in her hand. 

We didn't talk about it that night, as I think it had to settle in.. Marinate in her smallish but savvy six year old brain for a while.  Correlate a few of her newly acquired contents.  Finally, several days later, while we were in the car, she told me that she had a nightmare that her room, and her toys, and our house and the entire earth got sucked into an enormous black hole.  Her voice quivered a bit when she told me this, and I could tell that she was more frightened than when she talks about monsters that haunt all dark rooms or the dreaded "wolf behind the mountain" (come on, her grandparents - and their stories - are Armenian). 

Then she asked me... "Daddy, are black holes real?"  I looked up into my rearview mirror and found her with my eyes, all small and hunched and double belted in the back seat, and did what any horrible parent who loves their kids would do.  I lied through my sizable teeth.

"No, baby... Black holes aren't real.  They're just a theory that scientists like to talk about.  Like in one daddy's stories."

She sat up a little straighter, looked out the window with her big, beautiful, browns, and said, "I love the moon."

Sadly, I'm an even worse friend than I am a parent, and am here to tell you today that black holes ARE real, and they want to eat you.

Maybe one just like this:

Beyond Human Comprehension: The Most Massive Black Hole in the Observable Universe - An Event Horizon 20 Billion Kilometers Across

The black hole at the center of galaxy M87 fifty million light-years away is the most massive black hole for which a precise mass has been measured -6.6 billion solar masses. Using the Frederick C. Gillett Gemini Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, a team of astronomers calculated the black hole’s mass, which is vastly larger than the black hole in the center of the Milky Way, which is about 4 million solar masses. Astronomer Karl Gebhardt of the University of Texas, Austin, said that the black hole’s event horizon,  20 billion km across “could swallow our solar system whole.”
Let's just hope that my daughter's non-belief in galaxy-eating, undead stars lasts just as long as her belief in the Easter Bunny.  Longer, even...

I want her dreams to be magically sweet until they're not anymore.  She has plenty of time to join the rest of us later.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Publishing News: Dead But Dreaming 2 Cover and Table of Contents

The cover has been released for the forthcoming anthology Dead But Dreaming 2, edited by Kevin Ross for Miskatonic River Press.

Also, the table of contents was also recently leaked out onto the carpeting as well, with the scribes and their  shiny wares lining up as such:

Foreword: Messrs. Cthulhu and Lovecraft Have Arrived", Kevin Ross
"Taggers", Walt Jarvis
"The Unfinished Basement", William Meikle
"Plush Cthulhu", Don Webb
"Class Reunion", Darrell Schweitzer
"First Nation", Scott David Aniolowski
"Your Ivory Hollow", Wilum Pugmire
"The Spell of the Eastern Sea", Michael Tice
"Dark Heart", Kevin Ross
"Transmission", T.E. Grau
"N is for Neville", John Goodrich
"The Timucuan Portal", Daniel W. Powell
"No Healing Prayers", Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
"The Dissipation Club", Adrian Tchaikovsky
"Lure", David Annandale
"The Call", Rick Hautala
"Christmas Carrion", Donald R. Burleson
"The Depopulation Syndrome", Erik T. Johnson
"Uncle Sid’s Collection", Cody Goodfellow
"Father’s Day", Brian Sammons
"Innsmouth Idyll", Darrell Schweitzer
"The Hour of Our Triumph", Will Murray
"Here Be Monsters", Pete Rawlik

There are some VERY major figures on that thar list, mixed in with some relatively newer names to the scene (*cough*).  Overall, it promises to be a spectacular tome of Lovecraftian goodness that shies away from the whiz-bang monster and Mythos sideshow, opting instead to focus on creeping dread and implied weirdness, tinged with cosmic horror and a dash of doom.  Kevin Ross will never force fed you the writhing worm.  He prefers to bounce that bait along the bottom, staying just a bit out of reach until you're ready to swallow it whole, hooking your guts and marking the end.

I really can't believe that in my first anthology with the sweethearts at Miskatonic River Press, I'm rubbing elbows and slimy appendages with the likes of Pulver and Pugmire, Goodfellow and Meikle, Schweitzer and Tice, Sammons and Ross, Goodrich, Murray, and Burleson (and the rest, really, as they're all recognizable names in the Family). 

Keep several of your eyes on this electronic spot for further updates on Dead But Dreaming 2 as they become available. 

And keep at least one good eye up on the sky, at that seemingly blank place between Hydra and Argo, and say a prayer for poor, curious Walter Gilman...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"There's Still Hope For Us Yet" Update #38: The Octopus Chair (aka OMEFG!!*)

Little needs to be written about ye Octopus Chair, other than to posit that there needs to be a towering statue of Maximo Riera in some well worn square in Cadiz, Spain.  Post haste.  O, a toda prisa, as the case the may be.

The handsome fella looks like this:

Works here...

And creates extraordinarily cool shit like this...

I mean, just look at this gooey, eldritch throne of cephalopodic delights ... I can barely believe that it's real...

I care little for filthy lucre (obviously, considering my career choice), but I'd love to make enough coin some day to purchase amazing art from inspired, original artists with an eye for the dark and a flair for the weird.  Everyone would win, and I'd have one badass office chair.
* = Oh My Elder Fucking Gods

Friday, January 7, 2011

At the 14 Million Year Old Lake of Madness

We are truly on the verge of art imitating life imitating art, as an intrepid team of Russian scientists plans to poke a hole into Lake Vostok.

You know about Lake Vostok, yes?  Of course you do.  It's a pretty common conversation piece around the barber shop and coffee shop and corner bar.  14 million years old body of subglacial water the size of Lake Ontario, about a mile and a half below the surface ice.  Super oxygenated and warmed by geothermal vents.  Possibly filled with creatures (great and small) that don't know that we're coming, and probably don't want to be disturbed.  Most definitely rife with evidence of life we've never seen before, left to evolve in an undisturbed crock pot for millions of years.  Yeah, THAT Lake Vostok, which seems to be the lynch pin to the mystery and monumental potential of a frozen continent spinning alone and forgotten at the bottom of the world.

Montage by Andrea Bonazzi
Antarctica has fascinated writers (Poe, Lovecraft, Verne, etc.), conspiracy theoristsNazis, and and Russian scientists who spit vodka in the face of lethal cold for centuries.  Thousands of miles of ice hide billions of years of pre-human history in a harsh land almost unreachable, and nearly uninhabitable.

It's the last sea level wilderness we have left, and now we're going to crack it open, poke a needle inside, and see what bubbles out.  Humanity can't help itself.  Its what humanity does, for good and for ill.  We're going to take another bite of that apple, chew, swallow, and wait for the outcome. 

We're going to see what's down there, deep under the ice, where it's been percolating undisturbed for eons.  Will it be bacterium that greets us with wide, blinded eyes, or something a wee bit bigger?
In HPL's "At the Mountains of Madness," Captain Lake reported that his findings in Antarctica confirm his belief "that earth has seen whole cycles of organic life before known one that begins with Archaeozoic cells," and predicts that this "[w]ill mean to biology what Einstein has meant to mathematics and physics."

Will we find something alive?  Or will we find remnants of something long dead?  Which would flatten the world more, and make us re-examine everything we once thought about life, the past, and our place not just on this planet, but in the cosmos and beyond?