How I Got Into Bizarro

Weird shit has always fascinated me. As far back as I can remember I’ve avidly read books about unexplained phenomena, the occult, aliens, monsters, anything I could get my hands on that was about… well, weird shit. When I went to the library I always went back to the same few shelves dedicated to those subjects, hoping to find something new, but I often had to expand my search to other sections in order to root out anything bizarre that was new to me; I discovered the surrealists this way, as well as Jorge Luis Borges through a watered down, illustrated for children version of his Book of Imaginary Beings. If I knew there was going to be something on TV about UFOs or Loch Ness, nothing would stop me watching it.

(A side note; I married the love of my life on Loch Ness. Most of our wedding photographs have a photoshopped Nessie in them.)

Then I discovered a brilliant magazine that was dedicated solely to the weird shit I loved; The Fortean Times. It came out bi-monthly, wasn’t always easy to find, and apart from the cover it was entirely in black and white. It didn’t just feature all the broad topics, like hauntings and cryptozoology, but touched upon pretty much any kind of weirdness that was reported in press anywhere in the world, as well as featuring thoroughly researched essays about the bizarre; there might be an article about the Mad Gasser of Mattoon, and then a piece about why the children’s character Postman Pat was frowned upon in Japan (having only four fingers, it was assumed that he must be a yakuza, whose allegiance ceremony involved the initiate cutting off their pinky.) I loved it; I still do.

In one issue back in 1995 they had an interview with a writer. Up until this point I hadn’t really cared for fiction, because apart from the odd horror novel -I have always had a taste for DARK weird shit- it never really sparked my imagination. Then I read the interview with Robert Rankin, and it changed my life.

Cliché? Perhaps.

The interview focused on the fact that Rankin drew inspiration for his work from Fortean source material; for example, he said he got the idea for one novel after reading the story about how the Russians had accidentally drilled to Hell. His novel was about how humans were really living inside the Earth, and that all the stuff in the sky -clouds and stars and the sun and the moon- was an elaborate hoax to keep us docile whilst secret alien masters farmed us as a delicacy.

This was a revelation; here was a man who wrote books -novels!- based on the kind of weird shit I loved. The very first time I saw his name on a bookshop shelf, on a copy of The Most Amazing Man Who Ever Lived, I grabbed it. And then I read everything he ever wrote, buying every single new book as soon as it came out. Armageddon: The Musical, The Hallow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse, Nostradamus Ate My Hamster… the titles alone hooked me every time.

Rankin was the one who made me want to write. Yes, the cliché is true; that interview changed my life.

After discovering Rankin I looked for more weird shit fiction. Rankin is primarily a humorist, and the only other person writing anything like his material was Tom Holt. That’s not a great deal of work to keep an obsessive like myself satisfied. So I got into horror fiction in a big way, largely because there wasn’t enough of the truly bizarre stuff to go around…  or so it seemed; this was still in the early years of the Internet when finding stuff you connected with was still constrained by geography. Sometimes I got lucky, and a bookshop employee with no clue what to do with something truly strange that had come in would shelf it under Horror because… well, Horror was weird shit, right? This was how I discovered the now-defunct Attack! Attack! Attack! imprint of Creation Press -with titles like Vatican Bloodbath, Raiders of the Low Forehead, and Tits Out Teenage Terror Totty– and thus Creation Press itself, and the merest inkling that maybe there were others out there who also had a taste for fiction about the weird shit.

And here we get to the meat of the matter, the matter of geography. Fast forward a few years to where the Internet wasn’t something you had to leave the house and visit a special cafe for. I stumbled across bizarro around 2006-07, whilst surfing for… weird shit. It had only just acquired a name, but when I saw it I recognized it for what it was. After all, I’d been looking for it for a long time.

I mentioned that Rankin made me want to write, and so I did. My first effort was hammered out on an Atari ST, a novel called The Tower of Bagel, a piece of absolute cockwomble spaff about the antichrist seeking to stop time because his birthday was on February 29th and he could only celebrate it every four years. It came with the obligatory Gary-Stu, with other characters including a rip-off of Vyvyan from The Young Ones, as well as a bartender who thought he was a camel (a proto-furry) who ended up cut in half and stitched to the sternum of an elderly alcoholic warlock. I wrote that in 1996-97 and the only remaining copy is amongst the possessions of a dead friend. I wrote a few more novels with the same characters, always trying to come up with weirder and weirder ideas; for instance, there was one called A Clockwork Aubergine about the tooth fairy building a doomsday device, and one of the central characters was a sentient pot belly stove called Mandolin.

I hadn’t a clue what to do with any of this crap though; I checked writer’s magazines and lists of publishers and no-one seemed to publish the kind of stuff I was writing.

I gave up trying to write weird shit. I figured Rankin was pretty much unique, a one-off never to be repeated. I wrote horror. Almost everything I wrote up until 2006-07 ended up in the bin, including a novel about a haunted golliwog doll called Mr Marmalade, and roughly half a million words of piss-poor Lovecraft imitations. The only survival from those years was my attempt at a kid’s book, Try Before You Die, a book which was too strange to fit into any of the usual genres, but of which I felt proud. I just accepted that its strangeness meant it would never be read, and settled myself to accept that if I wanted to write, I’d have to tow the line and write conventional stuff.

Then I found bizarro. I found out there were others, a LOT of others, who liked the weird shit like I did.

Rankin made me want to write, but it was finding bizarro that made me believe there was a point to it because after all, why write if not to be read? The Internet made the connections possible, and things snowballed from there. I met an American bloke on MySpace called Nathaniel Lambert, a genuine class act with whom I had sod all in common apart from a love of the weird shit and an itch to write it, and based on an idea he had we collaborated and wrote a book. That was Sideshow P.I. – The Devil’s Garden, our bizarro detective story that came out through Graveside Tales, a horror press that took a chance on us when it was still only quite a small core of outfits publishing bizarro. Other books have followed as markets for weird shit have grown –Damnation 101, The Whorehouse That Jack Built, right up to my latest, Exquisite Corpse Orgy– and I’m planning on upping my output; Black Rainbows Press will be putting out a new book by me every few months from now on.

This turned out to be a lot longer and more autobiographical then I expected, but this was how I got into bizarro.

 

FIRST

hot-stuff

I finally watched The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror XXV, which contained “School is Hell”, an episode I’ve been eager to see every since I first heard of it. Brief synopsis; Bart ends up attending a school in Hell where the lessons are  about the theory and methods of torturing the damned. Rang a few bells, did that, a veritable tintinnabulation in fact. So I watched it to see how it stacked up against my own exploration of the same idea; it was -to use a neologism from The Simpsons– “meh”, and the father/son torture scene couldn’t hold a candle to my own, but now at least I am one of the few living people in the world who can say, “Simpsons did it, but I did it FIRST.” Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to block out the sun.

(And if you didn’t know, that’s the comic book character Hot Stuff; I needed an image to jazz this post up, but figured I’d get my arse sued off if I used anything from The Simpsons itself; Hot Stuff made a cameo in the segment mentioned… and having said that, if the owner of the intellectual property of Hot Stuff should read this, I have NO MONEY, so please don’t sue!)

EXQUISITE CORPSE ORGY

exquisite-corpse-orgy-wp

From the author of DAMNATION 101 and THE WHOREHOUSE THAT JACK BUILT COMES a bizarro novel about insane evolution, in four parts. Victorian robots wager on death-matches between mutant children… on the island of super villain Dr Tomorrow, furry morons are put on trial for their lives… glory holes are not the only source of bathroom love… and in the future, monsters wage holy war over the last resource on Earth; frozen celebrities.

Click that cover to buy your copy.

SLUGDGE

I like to work to music. Often this shows up in my nonsense; anyone who has read DAMNATION 101 knows there is a fallen angel in it called Dro)))ne, named as a tribute to a band I was listening to at the time called Sun O))). Lately I’ve been listening to SLUGDGE, and a certain Mexican-snot-slug/chaos-magick-familiar in my forthcoming Xmas story will be named in their honour. The album cover below links through to their Bandcamp page. Bloody good stuff.

SLugdge

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toilet Seat for a Halo

I’ve always thought the brain resembled intestines crammed into our skulls. If it was that would explain the contents of most people’s minds…
I’ve just finished the first draft of a novella called SHIT STAIN HALO. It’s sort of a sister story to DAMNATION 101; I’m torn over calling it SALVATION 666, but I love the title it has now. In 101 everyone ends up in Hell; in HALO we all go to Paradise, including serial killers like the main character, who becomes a superstar in the sport that keeps the bored masses of the afterlife docile. A sport that involves killing the rival team and defecating on them. It’s violent and disgusting and blasphemous… so pretty much business as normal for my imagination’s digestive tract.

God’s Abortions: From Such Little Seeds, Monstrous Things May Grow…

Quite often I find I write something and think that I’m done, onto the next atrocity… but then I find my mind coming back to it, and realize that there is much more to tell. They are seeds, planted in the soil of the subconscious, and sometimes they blossom into bizarre new growths. That happened with the following flash piece, originally written for a project that never came to fruition, and eventually published in FATES WORSE THAN LIFE. This is where my new book, THE WHOREHOUSE THAT JACK BUILT, first started life. Enjoy.

GOD’S ABORTIONS

Editor’s Note: The Summa Izbu by Marshall McGregor (1939, Poissons Chien L’édition) is now, of course, a legendary book in the occult sciences.

Both the demonology and its writer represent an almost unique occurrence in the history of the subject matter in that neither concerned themselves with the materialistic whereas nearly every other grimoire details the method of summoning beings for their abilities to bestow vast wealth upon the conjuror, the Summa Izbu purely concerns itself with calling up creatures for the purposes of carnal relations, with noxious detail as to the writers own experiences of having sex with that which he called. At least, this is what is claimed by its author, Marshall McGregor (1856-?), an occultist and self-proclaimed “alchemist of flesh”.

The name of the text is a minor mystery in itself. It is taken directly from a Babylonian teratological divinatory text; that is, predicting the future by examining monstrous and abnormal births.

Concerning Eunuchorns

They are a species of mutilated centaurs, used as guards of the harem. Hence the mutilation, obviously; gelding is the only effective means of preventing them rendering the kept whores useless for His service.

The favourite joke during a round of castrations is that a stable hands pay may be low, but the tips are huge.

The Jigwhore

Its mouth was in the palm of its left hand, its anus in the right. Its buttocks were breasts and its snout thrust from between its thighs; its cunt took up the whole face. The eyes were situated behind its knees, and it slept by kneeling down.

What was it like? In each hand it was like sliding in and out of meat cylinders lined with swallowing worms -its veins- and the plucked strings of lutes -the tendons- but with that third hole in its face… I fucked its brains out.

Onanimago, A Minor Demon

At first I thought the creature was human, a female, though an exaggerated member of the gender… her breasts grotesque not only in size -huge and round as its pregnant belly- but in how they were mutilated; was it her hand or another that had taken a razor to them, the blade slicing back and forth, cross hatching bloody lipped diamonds across the skin? Then I saw my mistake as –not scars- those organs opened, opened like pine cones will, wet petals unsticking with sounds like kisses. From between, pale tubers curled out, uncertain in the harsh light like the eye stalks of snails.

As more detail became apparent I saw that its features were on the wings of butterflies that flocked quivering on the carnage of its head. Wings folded, it winked. Often they would flutter down between its thighs. Its sex was the organs of a flower; lips or nose would creep about the fleshy horns, sipping and sniffing, before drunkenly flitting back to the face, to sit there glistening. Self fellatio.

I said to the demon, “I wish I could do that.”

“Say please and I’ll let you,” it whispered.

The Sad Tale Of The Siamese Triplets

From time to time is has amused me to have each of those I call tell me their stories, generally when I am tired and sore. So I asked this one to relate, a little.

Stoicism was a virtue inherited from mothers side; the boys took after their father. It was inevitable that two would commit suicide, and seeing as though they were joined at the forehead, this seriously hampered the survivor’s efforts towards matrimony.

She had not the prettiest antlers.

THE WHOREHOUSE THAT JACK BUILT

Whorehouse

It was a whorehouse, but not one open to just anyone. To get there you had to be dying or insane. The services offered were all offered for the same price, which was everything you had. There were paths there that only those who had crossed the border into the Undiscovered Country could find, if they knew the landmarks to follow, the signs to watch for. Clem followed and watched and two days ago his mule had done died of exhaustion and it was just him and Lady keepin’ on who knew how and finally they came to a dead town with no name at twilight and a whorehouse with a sign above the door that Clem could not read: A SOILED DOVE IN A CAGE PUTS ALL HEAVEN IN A RAGE A whorehouse run by demons. A whorehouse that offered the greatest pleasures a man could ever want… in exchange for everything he had. Am I gonna do this? Am I really gonna… The cancer in his belly twisted spikes through his impacted bowels and in front of him lay Lady, a sacrifice. And Clem pushed that door open and stepped across the threshold.

Available now from MorbidbookS (read the first chapter there) my bizarro-porno Weird Western. You’ve never seen blasphemy like this…