Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mike Dubisch Goes MTV... Or, MTV Goes Mike Dubisch

We all know and love Mike for his artwork inspired by and created for weird pulp, comics/graphic novels, and Lovecraftian fiction throughout the years, including The Black Velvet Necronomicon: Black Velvet Cthulhu tome (which is signed and gibbering on my bookshelf at the moment, whispering things to me...).

But most recently, he's re-shattered the wall and once again burst onto the pop culture landscape through a featured spot on MTV's The Daily Geek (also referenced on Deviant Art).

I couldn't be more proud of Mike, who deserves every single bit of recognition that comes his way.  He's a true blue (grayish green?) Lovecraftian, a swell guy, family man, and an extraordinary talent. 
Pick up some of his art. Your bookshelf will thank you later.  And whisper.  And let's face it, we can ALL benefit from the whispers...

The Spider Trees of Pakistan

Due to the horrendous flooding that plagued Pakistan in the summer of 2010, intrepid spiders were forced to scuttle treeward, and in the process, helped trap and kill untold millions of disease carrying mosquitoes, while also treating us to what looks like a real life Beksinki painting. 
I learned from my wife that one should never kill a spider, as spiders are good luck.  They also make incredibly eerie art amongst the branches and leaves.  A visual truth more beautiful and haunting that fiction...  And, on close examination, these ancient denizens of primordial Earth clearly have some otherworldly DNA coursing through their tiny corpuscles.
Eye(s) SEE you!
Amazing little bastards, aren't they?  Now, if the tree dwelling spiders in Pakistan could work a bit of overtime and scope up a few death cultist Talibs along with their nightly mosquito haul, everyone would be far better off...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Old School Euro Pulp: Beating New Jack Euro Pop For Centuries

There was an interesting article published today on io9, which was devoted to pre-1920's pulp sci fi, horror, and fantasy fiction originating solely from continental Europe (leaving out that from Britain and the U.S.).
I can't add anything of any relevance, so I just figured I'd pass on the piece and post a few pics.

Apocalypse Soon: Christians Give Finger to Heathen Mayans and End World First

This headline might come off as something crafted by the funny folks at The Onion (who need to shy away from television and stick to the printed word), but no.  I wish to God it was, but no.  This is all too real.  This is the End of the World, conveniently dated to mark your calendars.
The Cosmicomicon, since its founding all those innumerable, uh, months ago, has been and shall ever be dedicated to discussion of the dark, the weird, the cosmic, and the horrifying.

Well, nothing says darkly weird cosmic horror better than a bunch of Christian loonbags begging God to hit the reset button and unleash the Rapture, dispatching Jesus (who apparently is only the same actual entity as God when not running errands) to hover over the earth in his finest whites, and pluck out all those who willingly said the magic prayer of salvation (and MEANT IT!), then hand deliver the elect to the Big Cake and Punch Social in the Sky.
Meanwhile, the rest of us "unsaved" non-Evangelicals - including Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Mormons, Unitarians, Branch Davidians, Christian Scientists, Scientologists, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Whos, Druids, Deists, Taoists, Shintos, Sikhs, Wiccans, Walrusi, Zoroastrians,Vegans, Las Vegans, Hipsters, Sportos, Motorheads, Geeks, Sluts, Bloods, Wastoids, Dweebies, Dickheads, and ESPECIALLY the Jews - are left to deal with the rise of the AntiChrist, who formerly was - I was told as a child - none other than the inspired former Soviet President (and ironically, slayer of the atheistic USSR) Mikhail Gorbachev...
Yes, this was required reading at my childhood church
... but now is probably Barrack "Secret Muslim" Obama, with someone like George Soros or Michael Moore running a close second (as the below results of a 3 second Google search show, Obama IS in fact in the running for AntiChrist, and isn't just AntiChrist evil, but MUSLIM AntiChrist evil).
But hey, at least we get to see a Hydra, will enjoy less traffic and more parking (at least in the Red States), and get to witness the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse.  This should make Notre Dame fans happy; and let's face - due to their emphatic embrace of the papacy - there's going to be a LOT of Notre Dame fans left hanging around for the Obama (née Gorbachev) Monster Show.
And all of this is going down in two months.  Less.  May 21, to be exact.  The billboard by my house says so.  The EBible Fellowship says so.  Hell, the BIBLE says so (according to EBible Fellowship, *ahem*, "math").

6.21.11.  Chalk that, and then eat shit, Mayans.  Your dirt worshiping asses are a year too late.  Our God wins.

I wouldn't normally bat an eye (or baseball) about yet another declaration of Armageddon from wacky Christian nut jobs breeding their way to supremacy in this country.  But this new Salvo For Salvation literally parked its stupid ass up the block from my house and dared me not to snicker, or semi-publicly mock on my semi-read blog.
Same billboard, but from a different location... This movement has some cash behind it.
You think I'm kidding?  Read this, and weep.  Or laugh.  Or laugh til you weep. 

Or actually, prepare yourself for the end, which includes staying home and spending as much time with friends, family, house pets, and materials things as possible.  Much like the "unsaved" of all Catholic and Protestant-based denominations (not to mention those who dare believe in religious traditions that weren't lucky enough to come from Israel), exactly ZERO dogs go to heaven.  Nor do plasma televisions.  Baseball card collections do make it past the Pearly Gates, however, as everyone knows that God is a Yankees fan.

But do stay home and make every precious, prayer-filled moment count before The End.  I vigorously encourage this, cuz, well... I want to take advantage of less traffic and more parking as soon as humanly possible.  I don't have time to wait until the end of the world, and I, like Jesus, have errands to run.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

AtMoM: From Live to Dead To Still Possibly Dreaming

So, in a matter of 24 hours, production on "At the Mountains of Madness" was confirmed to begin in June with Tom Cruise attached to star, then warned off the same day.  This was Monday.  By Tuesday morning, obviously pissing in their lacy girl panties over the guarded excitement and discussion generated by hundreds of thousands of Lovecraftians and classic horrorheads around the world, Universal pulled the plug on the entire production, citing worries about the expected $150 million budget and the *gasp* R rating (money MUST be hoarded for "Hop 2," "Paul 2," and "Hulk 3," apparently, as children now run Hollywood).

NOW, mere hours later, the project still might have life in turnaround Hell, moving over to Fox or another studio willing to show initial interest then back burner the entire thing, in favor of the next Squeakquel or Treacle or honey-covered turd this town seems so fond of creating at a staggering clip.

Should have known better than to trust Hollywood to make one, potentially very cool, ADULT-TARGETED horror film of a scope larger than a cabin in the woods populated by random (read: cheap to hire) actors.
And this is yet another sad example of how extremely difficult it is to get ANYTHING made.  If Del Toro (who's already done months of apparently amazing pre-production prep, script writing, creature creation and storyboarding), James freaking Cameron, and Tom Cruise - with their combined track records of success and overall cache - can't get something pushed through to production, then what hope is there for anything cinematic that might be remotely risky, innovative, ambitious, and ultimately interesting to an adult audience?  Such dark, dark days for Movietown...
Meh...  Wake me when it's over, even though I suspect it already is. I'll be buried in a book.  The movies in my head are always better anyway.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Horror is Where the Home Is: Shots of The Cosmicomicon Muses of Grau Haus

Every writer needs a Muse.  Beethoven's Immortal Beloved.  Shakespeare's Dark Lady.  

I'm lucky enough to have Two.  Behold, the Muses of Grau Haus, in pictures taken during the last, fateful 24 hours:

When I was her age, my heroes were Jacques Cousteau and Gary Gygax.  Hers is Wednesday Adams. Angel for the win.
In writing the noir book of our lives, there is always a beautiful dame who gets it in the end...

.... then makes the papers, the gossip scandal sheets, the morbid curiosity crowd.   And thus is she immortalized in song and verse, living on forever in dreams, long after her flesh fades away.

Howie and the Cruiser: Xenu's BFF Confirmed for Starring Role in "At The Mountains of Madness"

Leaping atop a couch, and a Lovecraft film cast list, near you.
Can we add "Lovecraftian" to "Scientologist" and "Aggressive Laugher" when we write Tom Cruise's updated bio?  Apparently we can.
Crazy Cruise's strong interest in a starring role in Guillermo del Toro's anticipated big screen adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's iconic novella "At the Mountains of Madness" (produced by some wall flower named James Cameron, who has created the top two highest grossing films of all time) has been buzzing around the web-o-sphere for a while, frightening HPL fans from Wolverton to Adelaide, and everywhere in between.  But the longer this rumor stayed above the ice, the more legs shot out from underneath.
Well, it looks like the rumors of Tom's involvement in the film are confirmed and put to rest, while the specter of the actual start date of principle photography remains very much up in the air, thanks to Hit Fix getting to the bottom of the brouhaha by directly e-mailing those actually involved, namely the director and his producer, del Toro and Don Murphy (lately of the CG-heavy spectacle "Transformers").

As this story unspooled into the ether today, an earlier article birthed on i09, and then shared (with caveats and updates) on Collider, had Cruise set to star, and the production start date slated for June of 2011.  But the Hit Fix piece pulled back on the reigns, and now, according to the above linked Hit Fix article:

Murphy's official statement to HitFix is as follows:  "We are all trying to get Mountains up and running with Tom and Jim and everybody but no start date has been set AT ALL."

So, no firm start date, but Tom Cruise is now on board the creaking ship, heading south, ever south, looking for McMurdo Sound and the impossibly high mountains rumored to lie beyond.
I go back and forth on this. This Tom Cruise Dilemma, causing such a stir down dim, poorly lit hallways of HPL fandom. 

My first reaction is always negative toward The Cruise, based partially on his acting, but mostly on his wacky personal life and full body embrace of a religion started by a middling sci-fi writer.  You don't see me accepting the Azathoth A-Okay Achievement Award in front of a throng of glassy eyed Dagon cultists.  And I read Hubbard's Battlefield Earth back in grade school, and even then thought it was a bunch of soft ball shite.  I just felt cool reading a really thick book.  Size is everything to a 6th grader.
I think someone has Cthulhu Envy
But, in the throes of trepidation that Tom Cruise is going to ruin the first chance to get Lovecraft right - in terms of scope and budget and effects up to the challenge of visually realizing cosmic horror - on the silver screen, I grudgingly recall that Cruise HAS done good to great work in various films, including "Collateral," "The Last Samurai," "Rain Man," "A Few Good Men," "Magnolia" (although he was a bit "much" in that), "The Outsiders," "War of the Worlds," etc. Hell, even "Top Gun."  AND, he would bring a level of exposure to the project that few other actors can.  And that kinda batshit, "always on" EARNESTNESS.  In plugging the film, he'd give it his Full On Cruise Control, looking the interviewer dead in the eye and making them SEE the horror and madness that awaits us all at the bottom of the world (or at least the back of his mind).
Don't blow it, White Samurai
So, I'm HESITANTLY in the pro-Cruise camp for AtMoM (**dodges hurled vegetables from the penny seats**).  I mean, if they're gonna do it BIG (Cameron's involvement assures that), may as well get a BIG "movie star" to lead the charge, who can also act a little.

Sadly, this potentially epic bit of filmmaking is under more of a threat of being creatively undone - at least in my bleary, easily dizzied eyes - by the fact that it's going to be shot and presented in 3-frickin'-D.  This gimmicky bit of retro Hollywood nonsense (Tinseltown only trusts that which has a verifiable track record these days, no matter how spotty) has hung around far longer than I expected, or than is healthy for the future of the cinema.  I don't want to have to risk nausea and vertigo when I see a film, especially for a 20 spot.

But I will for "At the Mountains of Madness."  I'm nearly beside myself, and can't wait until photography starts in earnest.  Too much pre-production has taken place.  Too many Big Names are now in the mix (yes, including T. Cruise) to pull the plug now.  But, it won't be real until that first image burns onto celluloid... 3D or otherwise.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Robert E. Howard: Bringing Brawn to The Weird... Completing The Triangle

I've always thought of the Big Three of Dark Pulp to be Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and Robert E. Howard.  I might be off in this supposition, but to me, those three stand elite from all others that blazed the trail in those heady, creative days before the Second Great War.
It was an era when books, magazines, comics, and radio filled up the space in one's brain now occupied by television, multi-media noise, and electronic clutter.  Fantasy entertainment had to be earned via active involvement (outside of the cinema, which wasn't doing much in the way of the fantastic and strange back then).  Imagination was crafted, not given, and was bolstered by such pulpy gems as Adventure, Amazing Stories, Black Mask, Dime Detective, Flying Aces, Horror Stories, Marvel Tales, Oriental Stories, Planet Stories, Spicy Detective (SPICY DETECTIVE?! YES!! I so love that this exists), Startling Stories, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Unknown and, of course, Weird Tales, which brought HPL, CAS, and REH to the masses (such as they were).
In terms of physical stature and creative scope, H.P. was the bookish outsider, the fragile and sickly New England gentleman who reached beyond the very conception of the cosmos through his startling imagination, taking him places he'd never dare go in person, and creating new vistas and entities of  horror rooted deeply in xenophobic, sexual, and social fears.  Cosmic terror.  Nameless dread from beyond rooted time and space.  A cold, disinterested universe, roiling with ageless creatures of chaos birthed before our reality blinked into existence.  Humanity as a fly speck upon the bleached desert of a billion strange realities.

Robert E. Howard - "Two-Gun Bob" - was the beer swigging southern brawler, as bold and gritty as the plains of west/central Texas, who seemed to relish crafting characters and lands based on his reverence for physical strength and primal violence.  Barbarism.  Battle.  Bloodshed.  Noble death.

While he also explored a few classically "Lovecraftian" tales, REH is best know for his hulking heroes, all ropey muscle and swinging blade. "Thews."  Conan the Cimmerian, Bran Mak Morn, Kull of Atlantis - smashing skulls, cleaving torsos, and bedding maidens, with a sort of brutish innocence found in a humanity unencumbered by civilizing laws.  A celebration of the steel inside human flesh.

Clark Ashton Smith always seemed to bridge the gap between the two disparate pen pals and admiring contemporaries, both stylistically and physically.  One part dipped in the squishy and squamous of Lovecraft, another part bathed in the blood, sweat, and iron of Howard's newly minted "sword and sorcery."  A third part pulpy, poetic sci-fi all his own.  CAS lived a frugal, yet rugged existence in the hill country of Auburn, California.  More Renaissance Man than Mountain Man (yet both just the same), who divided his time between sculpting, painting, poetry, dazzling wordsmithery, and other artistic pursuits.  He was refined, but also sturdy.  A deft creator of high fantasy and sword and sorcery, while also a master, in his own right, of true cosmic horror, sci-fi, and weird fiction.

I've discussed HPL and CAS a bit here at The Cosmicomicon already, but I haven't yet delved into Robert E. Howard.  Part of that is due to my creative focus at the moment, which is very much in the House of Lovecraft, buttressed (*snicker*) by Columns of Clark Ashton.  But the other reason is based on my own ignorance.  Sure, like any starry eyed 70's child with a rapid and searching imagination, deeply steeped in fertile and seemingly limitless womb of Dungeons& Dragons, comics, and Dragon Magazine, not to mention the genre-establishing art of His Highness Frank Frazetta, I've always grown up with an awareness and zeal for Conan the Cimmerian.  How could one not?  He was the epitome of the Invincible Noble Savage.  The non-super yet impossibly heroic SuperSavage who lived by basic principles of honor, strength, and deadly justice.  He was an Old West gunslinger who brandished a blade instead of a six shooter.  He was all I wanted to be as a kid, aside from a bit of book learning and some general standards relating to modesty and hygiene.  Conan was the pre-history Ultimate Warrior before the WWF was a glint in Vinnie McMahon's greed-bulged eye.
He was Conan, and he was all Robert E. Howard.  What an achievement.  What a contribution to fantasy.
The strangely (at the time) black 'n white artwork, magazine-size comic Savage Sword of Conan looms large in my mind during my comic frenzy years of teenage years.  This was in the days before the explosion of truly graphic "graphic novels," and the unbridled violence and blood lust of "comic book character" thrilled me to the marrow.
Soon came John Milius' gritty film Conan The Barbarian, starring a my state's current governor (and a Viking Jew Fro that will last throughout the ages), looms as one of the "biggest" films of my childhood, even though the production values became a bit suspect as I aged into adulthood, when magic dimmed in the face of cut-rate props and costuming).
But, I plan on changing all of that in the coming months.  I've heard the clarion call of the battle horn from beyond The Black River, and will attend to my deadly duty.  Digesting "The Hyborian Age" and "Almuric" in the last week has re-lit my fire to reacquaint myself with with this giant, pugilist of a writer, with a legacy of stellar work and legions of extremely loyal fans.

As we gear up for the coming new Conan movie, lets all remember to pay homage to the the Brainfather of it all - Robert E. Howard. He was respected and admired by all of the Pulp Masters, especially HPL, who carried on an extensive epistolary relationship with REH for years.  They were tight.  Tight in a way that is surprising to me, based on their individual personalities.  But nothing bonds the blood tighter than a shared love of the strange, the threatening... the Weird Horror.
So, I raise my froth rimmed goblet to you, Robert E. Howard.  Long may your words ring out, like the sound of clashing steel on the battle plain, till the last glint of human savagery is sucked from this mortal coil.  The time will come.  But in the mean time, let us remember the words of your best-born son:

Mongol General: What is best in life?
Conan: To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.

Advice to live by, my fine feathered friends.

Okay... Off with you.  Jog on.

I'm reading... I'm remembering...

Neil Gaiman on Q TV - Rattling the Bones

Gaiman isn't the best writer in The Family, but he's a certifiable Dark Fiction rock star. He's the guy we'll send to testify in front of Congress some day. As Ivy says, "He lives it, every single day."

This is a damn good interview. He's no Alan Moore (who is?), but do yourself a favor and invest the 18 minutes and 52 seconds to absorb a slice of Mr. Speculative Charisma.