Tag Archives: cover art

Do not haggle with Xanthu.

55. My Soul to Keep – Jean M. Favors

The main reason I bought this book is because the cover kicks ass. I want to parody it with the guinea pigs, but I can’t because it’s too absurd already and I’d just be sticking a pig in there and that’s not enough, frankly. It features a UFO beaming twin neon green lights onto a cat sitting on top of a tombstone in a cemetery. Yes!

The cat is important and its name is Sekhmet, just like the cat in the book about stupid teen Satanists I covered earlier this summer. Both Sekhmets I’ve read about were smarter and cooler than the teen lady protagonists in their respective books. Sekhmet is guarding April, who isn’t that cool, but has been signed up for an ESP “experiment” by her cousin Sherm, who is a little bit of a maniac. The overall plot of this book was very odd, but, worth it to read (like people have said about my work on anonymous internet forums) and as mentioned, the cover is amazing.

Ozymandias holds the fate of many souls underneath his sweet little fuzzy feet.

Mixtape:

1. King of the Rumbling Spires – T Rex
2. Killer – Midnight Force
3. Wooden Cross (I Can’t Wake the Dead) – Witchcraft
4. The Horned Goddess – The Sword
5. Captain – Ween
6. Infinity – Queens of the Stone Age
7. The Wizard – Black Sabbath
8. Blood Runner – Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats
9. Creeping Flesh – Terrortron
10. Power of Darkness – Danzig
11. The Lost – Uniform
12. Burn the Black Flame – Terrortron
13. Division Ruine – Carpenter Brut
14. Against the Door – Pinkish Black

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“I’m tired of you being so dark while I’m so impish and whimsical.”

53. Get In Trouble – Kelly Link

Kelly Link’s brand of magical realism is always something I look forward to reading. I bought her Get In Trouble short story collection as soon as it came out and read the eight stories I hadn’t read before quite quickly. It’s been interesting to read the evolution of how Link deals with forming her characters. They seem to be much more realized in this collection than they were in her earlier work and usually a non-character character bugs me, but it never did in her writing.

I don’t like the cover of this collection as much as the past three of hers, it’s too not-whimsical, too graphic designy for me. The feeling I get from Kelly Link stories is like entering a long-abandoned and overgrown mini-golf course with a fairytale theme at dusk and red, cream, and brushy lettering is not quite right.

Pammy would’ve made a good cover model, especially on her shiny 1950s chair. She’s darling and cautious and those sweet eyes hint at an abandoned mini-golf course within.

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“Let’s play a game, it’s called scary noises.”

20. Torments – Lisa W. Cantrell

The sequel to the paperback with one of my all time favorite covers featuring an angry jack o’lantern munching on a bannister – The Manse, Torments really feels like a major re-tread. I haven’t even read The Manse, but there was so much summary information about what happened in it, that I almost feel like I don’t need to. I will eventually, of course, and maybe I’ll get déjà vu.

Anyway, this manse is haunted. So haunted that the land around it is super haunted and the town and the people and the construction site and the new apartment buildings and it’s just got super penetrating haunting powers. I think we all know how this turns out on Halloween and that it requires an elderly black woman to save whatever and whomever can be saved.

Finny’s idea of torment is sitting still for pictures. He never does. He never will. He might end up running a very specifically themed haunted house attraction someday.

 

Happy Halloween! Here are my little trick-or-treaters in Danger Things II, such a sweet little group.

 

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City News and Books on December 10, 1988

52. Deadly Sleep – John Applegate

The cover features a teddy bear in a bed brandishing a bloody knife in the air – awesome. The story features an overly worried middle aged man who can’t control himself when he sleeps. There’s also some business stuff – boring. Who hasn’t woken up as a dad in the suburbs, wondering if they killed someone the night before? It’s the stuff of a million excuses and a million insurance fraud murders. So garden variety.

It’s okay, Horace, you can snuggle back in free from fear, there’s no middle aged suburban dads around.

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Somebody’s watching that coffee and contemplation.

32. Stalkers – Ed Gorman & Martin H. Greenberg, eds.

One of the nice things about libraries is that they sometimes make purchases from smaller publishers and those things stick around…waiting for their chance. Stalkers was published by Dark Harvest of Arlington Heights, IL in 1989.

It features authors of horror novels for the most part, several of which wrote books on my shelves that I haven’t yet read, like J.N. Williamson. Williamson’s story “Jezebel” was very moralistic but also captured the feeling of being watched when you’re really not doing anything worth watching as a lady very well.

Pickles was constantly doing something worth watching. Here she is, looking alert.

Some I forgot about, like John Coyne (The Legacy aka that book/movie poster with the cat head sticking out of the green, zombie looking hand that scared and intrigued me as a child). Coyne’s story “Flight” was one of the weirder ones. A man takes off with his child when he’s totally not supposed to and ends up in a cabin with a paranoid old coot and it gets very bizarre from there. Features ye olde proverbial “They.”

Some I hadn’t heard of, like Michael Seidman, the editorial director of Zebra…a publisher that probably would have published me back in the day and stuck lots of weirdo skeletons on my covers. Oh, to go back in time. Seidman’s “What Chelsea Said” was a creepy little urban nightmare. Bumbutt.

Edward D. Hoch, “The Stalker of Souls” was an academic mystery. I haven’t read any of the Sherlock Holmes stories, but I got that vibe from it nonetheless. The reveal was a little tiresome, but the atmosphere leading up to it was great and very on theme.

Belvedere raises his head while being accused of nefarious plans by Pickles. Again. She’s the guinea pig Sherlock. Sort of. Not really. She’s far too cute and not nearly addicted to heroin enough to be Sherlocky.

The story that stuck with me the most has its own introduction, an oddity for short story collections, usually there’s just a short paragraph introing the author (if that, and sometimes the contributor bios are in the back). The introduction discusses how long Dean Koontz had the idea and other situations where the story didn’t work out to be published and it’s a nice insight. I’ve read one Dean Koontz book, The Funhouse, it was written under a different name and it was weird but didn’t make me want to dig in to the rest of his catalog. I think my main turn off, as usual, is the font they use for his name. It doesn’t appeal to me.

Anyway, now I’m a little more intrigued. I will at least always look for his stories in more of these weird little horror story anthologies because “Trapped” played right into my worst stalking fears and also hit several areas of my interest – isolated homes, mad science corporate bullshit gone awry, smart heroines who don’t freak out, a hero very much like Chief Hopper… But as I was saying, those worst stalking fears – RATS. Genetically engineered rats who are even smarter than rats already are. Also bigger. And they cut off your phone while staring at you with their beady little eyes. And they thought about the car. And they’re huge and white with red eyes. And of course there was a fucking illustration for that story. NO. I try not to show fear around real rats because I appreciate how smart they are, but, No. Also, rats are not afraid of people. They like people.

Pickles hides from smart rats in her hay. According to a 1921 book about pets I have, rats hate guinea pigs, so she doesn’t really need to.

 

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Class of 1984 might be our best case scenario soon.

26. Schoolhouse – Lee Duigon

1988, a time when horror paperbacks were plentiful and there were more than enough skeletons on covers to scare all the children in line at the grocery store. Schoolhouse has a skeleton teacher (with bun and pointer, but no shoes, I feel like she could’ve been wearing shoes) with both an apple and another skull on her desk. Another skull on her desk! And the background isn’t just black, there’s a chalkboard and a spider web and everything. Pinnacle getting their money’s worth out of the cover artist. It’s a full painting. There are many parts of me that wish publishing still allowed for this style of cover and for a proliferation of bizarre horror novels.
Schoolhouse’s staying power is in its weirdness. If one went to public school, one generally could be led to believe that something weird is going on…especially in the 1980s, when the something weird didn’t have to be related to state budget cuts and elected officials painting teachers as the enemy for wanting proper resources because public schools’ mission is give EVERY student an education, and they don’t actually leave any children out.  Perhaps a digression, but things were different then and if your teacher was an enemy, it was probably because they were possessed by an alien beast creature sliming its way to the surface (now those are just lots of repugnant elected officials, possessed by somebody else’s money). Schoolhouse very much treads the line between horror and science fiction and who knew that would be a preview of our educational system today – vouchers and creationist textbooks, anyone? Scary stuff.

Danger Crumples and Ozymandias have very different investigative styles. Danger leaves no pillow un-turned, Ozy knows H.P. Lovecraft-style slimy beasts don't hide under pillows.

Danger Crumples and Ozymandias have very different investigative styles. Danger leaves no pillow un-turned, Ozy knows H.P. Lovecraft-style slimy beasts don’t hide under pillows.

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I don’t think we’re going to save the community center in this case.

21. April Fools – Richie Tankersley Cusick

Check it out – timeliness! Oooh. That’s probably the last time I come up with something relevant to the month in which it is posted. Mostly because I’ve spent too many words pointing out my timeliness. It’s time to stop. So, April Fools, published via the Point Horror imprint, one of my favorite imprints of all time. The cover has awesome, jagged neon orange relief letters spelling out the title – man, I miss YA having painted covers, kick ass relief lettering, and being distributed in conveniently sized paperbacks. I may have covered these feelings in previous posts…I truly feel them. If I could make raised letters with my silkscreen for my covers, I would, but I don’t have the ink that does that or an appropriate cover subject for that ink yet. Anyway, this is getting less and less reviewy as I keep going, guess I’m distracted by congratulating myself for posting an April themed book in April. The only loser in this is anyone still reading this paragraph – the next one will be relevant, promise.

The story follows a bit of a familiar pattern: a group of teens does something horrific with their car, the one with a conscience watches as terrible retribution starts to happen and gets threatened, the ones without consciences have a bad time (they French fry when they should have pizza’d), and someone else in the story has a secret. A terrible secret. Or was it terrible? I can’t quite remember. Mostly I remember the angst pouring off the Adam character and that many things happened in the dark at his house while the teen with a conscience (Belinda Swanson, no relation to Ron based on her actions) tried to tutor him. It was like Beauty and the Beast without the rose. I think he had a snake. Anyway, having a conscience is definitely a good way to survive these teenage nightmares.

Tale as old as time...stupid teenagers do something stupid.

Belvedere was not intimidated by doll heads. Or stuffed turtles. He conquered stuffed turtles and then posed with his chin up and foot out like a teeny conquistador, as seen in this photo.

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