Review: I Tell You It’s Love by Joe R. Lansdale & Daniele Serra


Joe R. Lansdale
Adapted and illustrated by Daniele Serra
Short Scary Tales Publications

Dark moments seem like sweetness and light to lovers who dance to the beat of a dying heart. Ugly is beauty to them, horror is their laughter, and souls, dark or bright need not apply.

This new collaboration between Lansdale and Serra is a marvel. I’ve been a fan of Lansdale’s forever: his writing mixes up horror and humour with a deceptively nonchanlant style that’s unmistakable as it is enjoyable. Serra is newer to me — I first came across his work as a cover artist for Fox Spirit Books on the BFSA-nominated Tales of Eve and the forthcoming European Monsters. His style is just as unmistakable — arresting, dark and full of atmosphere. The two together create a dark magic that delights even as it harrows.

It’s the hap-hap-happiest time of the year and all Gloria wants for Christmas is pain and more pain. And then maybe someone else’s pain. He thinks she has “no eyes, just sparkles of light where they should have been” and he’s ready to give her all the pain she wants. In a lost town where bats seem to infest every skyline and even the room where the two of them play their games. Serra’s watercolours convey a world where everyone juts out sharp edges and wisps of shadow, as if the things that linger in their wake have presence. “The dripping blood and the long sharp knives that murmured through flesh like a lover’s whisper cutting the dark.” Love is a pain but pain is a drug. And like all drugs it loses its power the more you get. How much is too much?

The words and images will haunt you, but you won’t want to look away. You could frame every page of this book and create a gallery, preferably down a stairwell to make a grim descent — but you might not be able to make it back up again.

I TELL YOU IT’S LOVE – Lansdale/Serra
Graphic Novel Series #3
Publisher: Short, Scary Tales Publications
Subject: Horror
Release Date: November 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-909640-24-5, Oversized Hardcover (8 x 11 inches), Full Colour, 94 pages, £19.95

Review: Fashion Beast

Drop over to A Knife & A Quill to read my review of the Malcolm McLaren/Alan Moore film-that-never-was, now a graphic novel, Fashion Beast.


Fashion Beast

Writers: Alan Moore, Malcolm McLaren, Antony Johnston
Cover & Artist: Facundo Percio
MR, Color, 256 pages
ISBN 9781592912117


ALAN MOORE has redefined the graphic novel with his seminal works — Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell, and Neonomicon are essential to any readers discovering the comic book medium. At long last, Moore’s time lost masterpiece is presented in deluxe trade paperback and hardcover collections of the complete ten issue Fashion Beast series. Doll was unfulfilled in her life as a coat checker of a trendy club. But when she is fired from the job and auditions to become a ‘mannequin’ for a reclusive designer, the life of glamour she always imagined is opened before her. She soon discovers that the house of Celestine is as dysfunctional as the clothing that define the classes of this dystopian world. This unique reimagining of Beauty and the Beast was written in 1985 alongside Alan Moore’s comics masterpiece Watchmen. Beautifully illustrated by Facundo Percio (Anna Mercury) and meticulously adapted by Antony Johnston (Yuggoth Cultures), this is another must have entry in the graphic novel masterworks library by Alan Moore…

[read the review here]

This may or may not count in Todd’s round up of Overlooked A/V, so drop by and check out the other recommendations.

Review: Dotter of her Father’s Eyes

I’ve talked about this book so much, I assumed I had already reviewed it somewhere, but no. Bloomsday seems the right day to do so at last. I considered spending Bloomsday in Dublin — being in Ireland after all — but when I thought about the six hours I’d have to spend traveling back and forth, I thought Galway’s the perfect place to spend the day writing. I will go on my own wander about town later.

Mary and Bryan Talbot’s Dotter of her Father’s Eyes offers the very finest graphic storytelling: a compelling and complex narrative that relies on the magic interplay of words and pictures. It’s a book full of visual delights: the design shows such attention to detail, from the end papers to the three intertwining narratives rendered in different but complementary styles. If you’ve read other works by Bryan, that’s precisely what you’ve come to expect.

I was going to say I hadn’t been familiar with Mary’s writing before this, but of course it turns out I had, as she’s written quite a lot on gender, language and consumer culture. I just hadn’t connected the Talbot names! This is Mary’s story of her childhood, of remembering her childhood and how she’s sees it through the prism of Lucia Joyce’s life because her father, James Atherton, was a prominent Joycean.

Lucia’s life is a heartbreaking one; there are parallels between their lives — headstrong daughters butting heads with their famous (and equally willful) fathers. But the contrasts are perhaps more important and show why Talbot achieves success and happiness while Lucia ends so tragically. Part of the difference is time: women’s lives have improved despite the continuing madness of retrograde morons. Part too is due to finding a true partner: the book itself shows the beauty of that relationship, but the story brings it to life. Ultimately, the power of creation — and the horrifying effects of having that human need crushed — offers the most powerful beacon.

Exquisite art: there’s such beauty here, but the most harrowing images seared my brain: Robin’s birth and Lucia’s “dance” in the sanatorium. It’s an incredibly moving story with a lot of sorrow, but ultimately reaffirming. You’ll treasure it.

Buy it by clicking the picture below. Visit Mary’s site and Bryan’s too.

HB MES and Publications

Back from a fantastic trip to P-Con. With luck I can get a con report up soon, but I have to give a talk to the digital humanities doctoral students at the Moore Institute tomorrow, so I better get that completed first. Many thanks to Pádraig, Catie, Deirdre and all the organisers as well as to Maura for taking me under her wing, the lovely Sarah for all the laughs, Suzanne and Juliet for great craic, the Talbots for my signed copy of Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, John Connolly for buying us all dinner, the tango dancers for giving us a cause — oh, and so much more. Anon.

My publication: I have a piece “Before the Watchmen Palaver” in the latest issue of Drink Tank (309). The editors have turned the entire issue over to discussion of the proposed Watchmen prequels. There’s a wonderful and terribly unsettling cover, too. Read the full issue in PDF form here: it includes Pádraig and Laura Sneddon, too. Thanks, James, for asking me to contribute. UPDATE: I don’t think I remembered to post yet that the collection that includes my essay on reading Lost Girls as post-Sadeian text is also out:

Last but very much not least, fifty-five years ago in a dark corner of Manchester, the lighting flashed, the skies opened up and Mark E. Smith was born. All right, I’m only guessing about the lightning and rain, but it’s bound to be likely. My muse, my role model (LOL) — well, he has inspired me in several stories of late and what better example of sticking to your guns and succeeding on your own terms do you need? So while I might post perennial favourites like “Bill is Dead” or “Touch Sensitive” or “Tempo House” I’ll share this instead for those not yet up to speed on The Fall or if you’d prefer a story, snuggle in for storytime with MES and Lovecraft.

P-Con Bound

Heading back to Dublin today for P-Con; looking forward to seeing friends and meeting new folks. Mary and Bryan Talbot will be signing Dotter of her Father’s Eyes at Forbidden Planet and I believe Pádraig said there’d be drinks after. Looking forward to more plotting with Maura and I’m on some panels that ought to be interesting.

The schedule here; my bits include:


12.00 -12.50: Myth and Folklore in a Modern World
KA Laity, Ruth F Long, Peadar Ó Guilín, Brian J Showers

17.00 -17.50: Who Really Needs an Editor? Quality Control in an Internet Age
KA Laity, Ian McDonald, and Peadar Ó Guilín ponder on what an editor brings to a book, and how to find something good to read in a jungle of misspellings and bad punctuation. 


11.00 – 11.50: Crowdsourcing and Other Alternative Funding Models
If you want to make money out of your writing, what other alternatives are open to you besides getting a publisher to take your book? With KA Laity, CE Murphy, and Brian J Showers.

16.00 – 16.50: Managing Social Media: Pros & Pitfalls
KA Laity, Alan Nolan, Sarah Pinborough, Brian J Showers

Hope it will go well. Doubtless I will write it up. In the meantime, here’s some photos from last weekend’s trip to Dublin with Robert.

Know-vember: Miss Wendy

You knew she would be here: the Patsy to my Edina, she of the big hair, former Elf-Queen (and survivor of many a medieval play), southern gal supreme, Mechademia Submissions editor, connoisseur of Jack Daniels and hostess of the Rosh Hashanah Ragin’ Kegger and Toga Parties — Miss Wendy! I am so happy to know that Miss Wendy will be in Ireland after Xmas and this island nation will never be the same again if we have anything to say about it. Wendy reminded me that we were together last New Year’s Eve, too, when I visited her in the home of Faulkner. Ringing in another year — where will we be in another year’s time?! Who can say? 🙂

1. What’s the first thing you do upon waking in the morning?

Well, this morning I cursed out Pumpkin, my cat, who decided to howl, run laps around the house, and play with what I thought was not a noisy toy at 5:00 this morning (two hours before my alarm). Most mornings, I open a coffee can, savor the smell of the grinds, and make a very strong cup of coffee.

2. What’s a song you might be persuaded to dance to?

I am not averse to dancing and have danced to many songs in my life — some of which I am not proud. I can always be persuaded to dance to a Ramones song.

3. Where in the world do you live?

In my mind, in my house, in the city of Oxford, Mississippi, in the Southern United States, in North America, in the West, on Earth, third planet out.

4. What’s a great night out for you?

Dinner at a restaurant in the Latin Quarter, Paris; off-Broadway play in New York; moonlight trip in a rowboat on the Vltava in Prague; and finally late night karaoke with my friends in Tokyo. (I’ve done three of four. Any one of them would be a wonderful night out).

5. What’s a great night in?

Martinis and kung fu movie marathon.

6. If you were offered an all expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?

A year in Tokyo; or birdwatching in Costa Rica.

7. What book do you wish everyone would read so you could talk about it?

Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World; or his short stories The Elephant Vanishes.

8. What movie makes you cry?

These are movies that I like to cry to. They are the ones that I believe have earned my tears. I cry at other movies but either the quality of the cry is not transcendent or the stupid movie has manipulated my tears. Here’s a list of the good cries: Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru; Isao Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies; Mike Newell’s Enchanted April (a happy, melancholy cry); James L. Brooks’ Terms of Endearment (I know, a classic tear-jerker, but darnit, both Debra Winger and Shirley Maclaine are just too good); I’m sure there are classic Hollywood films I am missing here. Kate will send me a list, I’m sure — yes, I know Dark Victory [Ed: “Did the sun go behind the clouds?”.

9. What makes you laugh?

This sums up my sense of humor. It’s a cartoon from the New Yorker. I can’t find the link but I’ll describe it. A clown is sitting at a table in an outdoor cafe. He’s holding a balloon and a tear trickles down his cheek. A woman stands at the table, looking like she’s about to walk away. She says “If you must know, he makes me laugh.” It’s the balloon that gets me. I never get tired of it.

10. Are there fairies at the bottom of your garden?

Nope. Cats ate them. 

 Be seeing you, Miss Wendy — can’t wait!

Snapshots of Pop Culture

Here’s a little taste of the trip to the Popular Culture Association Conference: we stayed at the Marriott Rivercenter which is a combination mall and canal, chock full of tourists and cheap Texas trash, er, souvenirs. I lived in that state for three years, eleven months, six days, five hours and fifteen minutes and I never understood the arrogant Texas chauvinism. I lost count of the number of Tejas tattoos I saw. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone with Connecticut tattooed on their skin.

I had to take a picture of this because I couldn’t decide if it was genius or the most horrible thing ever; I wish I’d taken a picture of the guy who was in it with his two tiny daughters. Scarred for life or prepared for the worst? In case you’re wondering, it costs $2 for a “ride” in the machine.

We spent most of our time in panels seeing papers on all kinds of topics. Of course what everyone really looks forward to is chatting in the bar which is far more relaxed (though often just as thoughtful). Miss Wendy and Paul and I started things off on the right foot the first night.

It was my last year as chair of the Medieval Popular Culture area: we’re combining with the Arthurian area (strength in numbers), so next year I have no responsibilities but writing my own paper. Naturally I’ve already come up with an idea for a special panel: anyone interested in a Romance & Comics, let me know. I attended the open forum on  Romance scholarship which was quite interesting: not surprisingly, there were only two men there. You gotta admire the chutzpah of a guy who’d bring this cup to that room full of women (or maybe it was just obliviousness):

PCA is a rather laid back conference, but there are still moments that people find stressful. Someone must have been trying to encourage a friend with this note that first appeared in one of the elevators, then on a painting in the hallway where I snapped it:

Saturday Miss Wendy wanted to wander around a little and see the sights after she gave her awesome presentation on Moto Hagio. Last time we were in San Antonio, the only touristy thing we did was the Ripley’s Believe it or Not! “museum” which was amusing at least. So we headed over to the Alamo which is now classified as (no, I’m not kidding) “The Shrine to Texas Liberty.”

I liked this shirt and the lotteria paintings in this store, but everything they had was unbelievably expensive, so I didn’t feel too tempted to add to my belongings as I’m continuing to divest myself of things.

I’m always intrigued by weird stuff that other people don’t seem to find interesting. I have odd tastes, I guess. But I loved the way electricity was anthropomorphised in this sign. It looks deliberately malevolent.

I was lucky on my flight out: after the unexpected overnight stay in Chicago a week ago, I was pleased to find that because my flight was overbooked, they bribed me to change flights with $400 in travel coupons — and I didn’t have to go to Chicago (Atlanta instead) and got there only an hour later than I would have anyway. On the way back, not so lucky, but that’s okay. I had plenty of time to check out the new trends according to W:

What’s more “punk” than an airbrushed model in a corset? Sigh. And I’m hoping the rumours that punk rocker Poly Styrene has died are just that, though she has been battling cancer for a while. I’ve been following her on Twitter and the new album is getting a lot of good press. I hope it’s not true. [Sadly it is true: requiescat in pace, Marianne].