I’ve often described my new novel CRITERION as a ‘Grimdark superhero’ story. I did not set out to chase a certain tone or style, it merely followed from the concept – ‘When a super hero is murdered, what happens to his sidekicks?”
I’d like to share some of my influences to celebrate the release of my upcoming book CRITERION.
Spider-Man had me wrapped up in Marvel’s web for a long time, especially with the alien symbiote saga and its creepy crazy villain Venom. I asked my father to photocopy pictures of Venom so I could put them around my room. I was in deep. What’s better than Spider-Man? An evil Spider-Man that wants to EAT Spider-Man!
Perhaps Kraven’s Last Hunt affected me more than I realized.
But like all great villains he outshined (over shadowed?) the hero, and by the arcane rules of capitalism and the comics code authority, had to be promoted in his own spin offs and cross over events, remade as a hero. A ‘lethal protector’, if you will. It was the heel-face turn that ended my obsession with Marvel comics.
What’s that, Marvel? Got something cool and edgy to woo me back? I kinda doubt…
Ghost rider was the perfect guide into the dark corners of the Marvel universe. A spirit of vengeance, it possessed a young man to hunt bad guys with a spiked fist, a chain and a bitchin’ hellfire powered motorcycle. His enemies included assassins, ninjas and demons and he crossed paths with the freaky horror characters of the 70s, like Morbius the Living Vampire and my beloved Blade the dhampir. With the Midnight Sons, he fought an evil little person unleashing hell with the Darkhold, Marvel’s own Lovecraftian grimoire. I heart you, Ghost Rider.
How dark? Sometimes it was literally hard to see! Penciler Javier Saltares, Inker Mark Texeira and Colourist Gregory Wright bathed everything in black. Contents include: Demonic possession, face melting immolation, hell fire, flaming skulls, vengeance, suicide and murder.
Who needs to change in a phone booth when you have innocent blood and a skull wreathed in hellfire?
Have a favorite dark comic book you think people should know about? Drop a comment and let me know.
P.S. : James O’Barr’s The Crow preceded the Ghost Rider reboot, but I didn’t find that spirit of vengeance until I had access to better comic book shops. I loved the book, movie and soundtrack. Imagine my surprise when I heard this Henry Rollins song:
The Monster Mash is awesome, nobody is disputing that, but it is not the only ‘Halloween Carol’. This may come as a surprise to anyone who has ever tried to assemble a playlist for a halloween party.
If you are in a rush and only want to choose one album to set the mood I would recommend Halloween Hootenanny, Rob Zombie’s spooktacular record of original songs by the Ghastly Ones, Los Straitjackets, The Bomboras, Rocket From The Crypt, Zacherle, etc. If you picked up an album from any of these contributing artists you are well on your way.
But if you want a hand picked list of rare gems I present the following list of terrifyin’ tunes from the crypts of Hip Hop, Trip Hop, Doo Wop, Disco, Cajun and…Thai Funk???
– Wolfman Jack by Binary Star. Awesome story about a werewolf in the ‘hood, and the best you’re gonna find unless The Werewolf of Watts ever gets greenlit.
– Witch Queen of New Orleans by Red Bone. This cajun rock song is about Marie Laveau, the voodoo queen of N’awlins.
– Are you ready for Freddy? by The Fat Boys. I’m going to assume you already own ‘Nightmare on my street’ by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. If not consider this a two-for-one, because Are You Ready for Freddy? teams Freddy Krueger with the Fat Boys. Unlike the Fresh Prince video that was filmed but never released, the Fat Boys video is on youtube!
-Dr. Frankenstein by Ice Cube. People probably know this song but may forget to add it to their halloween mix. What better way to get the party bumpin’?
– Fatal by RZA. As long as we’re getting hardcore here’s the Wu Tang Clan’s RZA with the best (only?) thing to come out of Blade Trinity.
– Monster Crack by Kool Moe Dee. Why not go old school with a rap about the crack monster?
– The Horror by RJD2. From Hip Hop to Trip Hop, this is a groove I listen to year round.
– Do The Zombie by The Symbols. Here’s a pre-Romero zombie Doo Wop song that’s great fun.
– Monster Beach by The Surf Trio. This is the ultimate distillation of the ‘surf guitar’ vibe present in so many Halloween songs. Possibly the greatest song ever.
To end this list here’s a 3-peat of Disco Dracula:
– Soul Dracula by Hot Blood. The video alone is mind blowing.
– Soul Dracula by Messer Chups. Now with added Surf guitar!
– Soul Dracula by Thai Beat A Go-Go. In this version the melody is sung with lyrics in Thai!
There are thousands of wonderfully weird Halloween – worthy songs out there, and hopefully these will lead you down some interesting haunted trails. Happy Halloween!