Sunday, June 17, 2012

Strange Aeons: Issue #9 Now Available, Featuring Comics, News, Reviews, Art, and Original Fiction by Stephen Graham Jones

cover by JD Busch
Sometimes its better to be lucky than good.

This is exactly how I feel about my current position as the Fiction Editor of Strange Aeons magazine, which was a favorite, four-time-a-year read of mine long before I was set up with a SA e-mail account.

As a child of the late 70's/early 80's who haunted dingy book stores and "hobby shops" - as retailers devoted to RPGs, lead figurines, models, comics, fiction, and other geekery were known back then - whenever I could get my mother to drop me off for a few hours, my foundation is girded with the aesthetic of pulpy fantasy/sci fi mags like Heavy Metal, oversize horror comics like Eerie and Creepy, wargaming journals like Dragon and White Dwarf, and brawny, ultra violent sword & sorcery black and whites like Savage Sword of Conan.  My inner world of fantasy was carved out by illustrators and writers of the ghastly and the fantastic, at that age when my mind was a sponge and imagination was my dearest friend.  As such, these images and textures are ingrained in me, bonded with that peculiar childhood DNA that shades the rest of one's days.

This was before I knew who H.P. Lovecraft was (although I was absorbing his echoes almost everywhere), or that Weird fiction existed as a vibrant, established scene, with proud roots, a present, and a future.  This was before I knew that I wanted to be a writer (or an editor), but I was certain - then, and now - that I loved to live in those dark, haunting, exhilarating worlds more than any other. Reality for me was doomed in the face of such unconquerable competition.  Fantasy, and all of its far flung outposts, would be my mental escape route when the dulling grind of reality threatened to pull me down in the morass of the crushingly common.

So, imagine my childish glee when I stumbled across Strange Aeons a few years ago, just as I embarked on my creative journey back home to my roots. It took me back to those cramped, out of the way shops, to that distinctive smell of moldering paper and ink and musty air spiced with junk food wrappers stuffing the bin behind the counter. Strange Aeons seemed like a throwback to those times, and celebrated a tradition of fantasticism and FUN (a concept often forgotten in this often grim, post ironic days) that I had missed so much.

Making the Masthead, flanking a stellar ToC
I quickly became a fanboy of the magazine, and struck up a professional relationship with Strange Aeons creator K.L. Young, who - along with Rick Tillman and Laurence Amiotte - made up the magazine's core at the time.  Content in my glorification of the lost art of the Pulps on the pages of Strange Aeons, which has featured some of the best in Lovecraftian, horror, and Weird fiction writers, artists, craftsman, retailers, and newsmakers since its worldwide launch in the spring of 2010, it came as an unexpected shock when Young invited me to come aboard as Fiction Editor earlier this year.  I couldn't believe my luck, and still can't, but won't question the movements of the stars, both visible and waiting.  For now, I'll count my blessings and pledge to uphold the tradition of excellence forged so long ago, and continued on the pages of Strange Aeons.  Our humble magazine isn't the first to do what we do, but we think we are doing it as good or better than anyone else out there right now, and we're just getting started.  Plans are afoot (and a-wing) for expansion, including a rumored all-fiction issue, electronic circulation through additional platforms, and other multimedia delights.

Stay tuned, true believers, and bring that inner child in from outside.  Playing football in the street is fun, but we have so many things to show you best seen under lamplight in a darkened room, while the rest of the flat world sighs.

And now, a walking tour gallery of page shots taken from Strange Aeons Issue #9.  Enjoy, and realize that until you feel that paper between your greasy fingers, you ain't seen nothing yet:

After a very tough selection process, in which I read the works of many of THE top Weird/horror/sci fi fiction writers working today, I finally settled on "Welcome to the Reptile House," by the unparalleled Stephen Graham Jones.  Having an original, fresh-off-the-brain piece from a true rock star of the speculative fiction scene mark my first issue as Fiction Editor is something I never could have dreamed, and makes me so incredibly proud.   Mostly, it serves as concrete testament to the reputation of Strange Aeons among the top level creatives working in the industry.
The first page to SGJ's spanking new story, featuring art by The Hat
In "The Corpse's Crusade", you are treated to a further tale of Zothique, Clark Ashton Smith's fabled land of charnel gods, necromancy, and bloodied steel, wrought from the poisoned pen of Cody Goodfellow, who once again joins up with long time collaborator Mike Dubisch to create a boldly illustrated tale that hearkens back to the best of the Pulps and graphic novels that truly are exactly that.
Evil tyrants, flesh eaters, and corpse humpers - Must be another Strange Aeons tale!
Issue #9 brings to our regular readers the first regular installment of "Anno Ktulu" (written by K.L. Young and Vincent Ferrante, pencils by Ben "1314" Hansen, graytones by Chris Hagerman, letters by Eduardo Martinez) recently launched with the special edition, oversize one-shot currently available at the Strange Aeons website, which premiered to resounding acclaim at Crypticon Seattle and the 2012 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland last month.  The one-shot ties into the ongoing "Anno Ktulu" storyline that will be running all year in Strange Aeons.  Get in on this innovative story of superheroes set in a Lovecraftian universe now, as you definitely don't want to miss this.

With "Hell Dorado", SA's own cigar chomping Editor-In-Chief Laurence Amiotte pens a story of gunslingers and hellish monsters in the new old west, illustrated by Rob Corless.

Double threat Lee Davis offers up Part 3 of his supernatural zombiedrama "Bloodworm."

Eric York brings to life an excerpt from H.P. Lovecraft's epic poem "Fungi From Yuggoth" with his distinctive artistic style.

The Eldritch Words segment starts out each issue, giving a lowdown around Strange Aeons HQ, providing a bit of staff and related news, and introducing the wonders in the pages to come. Notice the smiling gent on the right. That's Strange Aeons staff artist Nick "The Hat" Gucker, who has decided that 2012 is now officially his.  Thank goodness he likes to share.

Also included in Issue #9 is an official report taken from Portland's recent H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival, where SA's own Nick Gucker won the first annual "Pickman's Apprentice" competition, besting such worthy adversaries as renowned artists (and Strange Aeons favorites) Mike Dubisch and Lee Moyer.  Congrats to The Hat, and to all of us, as we're all winners based on the three mind bending end results.  YAY for everyone, and puppies too!

Book reviews are "Forbidden Lore" to us.  In this this issue, we give the business to Rough Music by Simon Kurt Unsworth, Lucky Bastard by S.G. Browne, and Laird Barron's The Croning, with a shout to All Monster Action by the above mentioned Cody Goodfellow, Nick Gucker, and Mike Dubisch in the "Currently Reading" circle.

Our "Unearthed" section features all the cool shit you need to know about, including the Monopoly-style board The Doom That Came to Atlantic City (which absolutely destroyed its goal on Kickstarter), the always fantastic Lovecraft eZine (which has featured work by yours truly), and this wonderful reproduction of Lovecraft's ghost written Weird Tales piece for Harry Houdini titled "Under the Pyramids" (aka "Imprisoned with the Pharaohs"), complete with a working lock and vintage-style U.S. mailbags, featuring art by our global landlord Nick Gucker (who proffers more info here).

In each issue, we always include something extra, from lobby cards to mini posters to your very own kitten (I MIGHT be fibbing a bit about one of those).  In Issue #9, the staff of printing gnomes stashes two "Anno Ktulu" trading cards by some guy named Nick Gucker into each magazine before mailing.  Collect them all, and trade with your friends.  Way cooler than the seventeen Ken Griffey Jr. cards doing exactly nothing in a cigar box in my parents' basement.

Well, that's the penny tour, kids.  Interested?  Goddamn right you are.  Now click through here and pick up the latest Strange Aeons, then work backwards on the previous issues, like any good collector of comics and the Pulps.  We're just getting warmed up, so watch us grow tall, dark, and infinitely monstrous.  We have such Things we'd like to show you...

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