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A Warm, Bandagey Welcome…

A woman is scared by a mummy reaching out of a casket.

Rodney Fyke and I crossed paths back in ‘the day’—when I was still runnin’ around doing shows like Motor City Con, Chicago Comic Con, ComicFest and others. Even without drugs and alcohol, those years are largely a blur because while a lot of things stand out, I was the only driver. Meaning, if we needed to travel 18 hours one-way to do a show? All me. I put something like 70K miles on my new Ford in the early-‘90s in a 12-month span, all while writing dozens of horror stories, handling the entire business end, and being at a con 48 out of 52 weekends (1992). 

Rodney and I reconnected online recently. He’s been doing projects ever since, he remembers what it was like when Outlaw Publishing was a badge of honor, and he’s got a number of his own projects going for Hazzum Productions. So, why not throw a spot illo his way and check off another WORKED WITH: box from the old days?

And so, here it is. MONSTROUS is a 2-story-chapbook I’m hustling to get out (reasons to be discussed in an upcoming blog). Rodney and I were going over some possibilities, Pam gave me a good run-down of his style and where in an old ish of Cry For Dawn or Zacherley’s Midnight Terrors he’d’ve fit in, and boom—I pulled the trigger. You can decide for yourself, but according to Pam, green-lighting this? I done good.

Should have a pre-order pg up for MONSTROUS prior to Halloween, though our target is November 1. Please give Rodney a warm welcome to the Fright Unseen/Sight Unseen folds. Er, fold!

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Chill in the Air

Cover to Winterlands

Sure, it’s everyone’s fave month, but even down here in sunny Fla, there’s been a noticeable change. Cold water from the tap in the morning. Little less kiln-ish when you get into the car during the day. And so, perfect timing to add a new product to the store, if only in limited quantity.

I worked on Hunt The Winterlands despite serious concerns. First, I’m a horror guy. Fantasy isn’t my playground, and I know far too many talented scribes who do incredible work there. Plus, the parameters were, quite frankly, daunting. Picture a winterbound continent where *nothing* grows. But yet, there’s still life. Not a whole lot of building blocks for a compelling story, y’know?

That said, I found an angle to exploit, did a bit of narrowly-framed world-building, and the end result was The Lost City (and some pretty nice compliments from folks who read the collection, put together by fellow author Alex Ness).

You can order starting today, I expect to be shipping by Wed or Thurs (Oct. 6/7th), and copies are available signed. Think Mr. Editor’s John Hancock’ll be on there, too.

More products a comin’, especially for you fans of the classics and oldies, stop back in soon!

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Fright Unseen Amazon Review

Mark’s been a reader for a looooong time, was thrilled to get this posted to my timeline the other day. I don’t usually share reviews, but doing so now because Mark knows a lot of my work readers have never seen, going back to the stuff that had printers turn their backs on us; seminal death metal cover artist Michael Whelan (Sepultura and Obituary, among others)ask us why we’d ever consider him for a gig—as well as asking us never to contact him again; me getting multiple death threats and, last but not least, my comics pulled from the shelf of a comic shop in Texas that got shut down, and me on a federal court case witness list. Among other fun stuff.  : P

Figured a guy who knew my work that well and who hadn’t seen anything new in a while would be a good judge of what the four-volume Launch Pack had to offer. Here’s his first take, one volume in.


Fright Unseen Volumes I-IV

Amazon Review: Fright Unseen Launch Pack (ASHES)

I learned long ago that there is a certain way to read true horror. That there is a mental approach to this type of reading, when it comes to the likes of Lovecraft, King, Barker, and Monks.

 My first terrifying and brutal glimpse into the mindset of the storytelling psyche of Joseph M. Monks, came via his seminal work on his legendary creation, Cry For Dawn. Having secured the entire set, back when they were still kind-of available and semi-affordable, I sat down to what would be a series of terrifying, anxiety-inducing encounters, espoused in simple comic book narrative form, complimented by various incredible visuals, delivered by many horror-artists of the ‘90s. This included the esteemed Bernie Wrightson, a great friend of Joes’, until his untimely death in 2017.

 These stories…Decay…Night Cry…Undead Tales…

Anyway. I digress.

ASHES. 

 Man, where to start. I mean, it’s just a novella, right? Not too awful long of a read; should be able to devour (apologies) it in a single sitting. Such was my intent and my desire. 

 Also, I knew who I was dealing with, and the capabilities of his minds-eye. I had prepared myself.

 Or so I thought.

What at first seemed a simple, easy trip with an elderly man, independent and still virile, yet toiling in the obscurity of a boring and eventless life, presented to him in his twilight years, was anything BUT. Long-forgotten in a dull senior-living facility, his life goes through a whiplash of past and present realities, each as realistic for him as the other.

 Which is the true reality, Past or Present? 

 Could it be…both?

There will be no way for you to predict their total connection to his violent and bloody future.

 Had he not bought the tiny incense-burner at that dusty little shop, would any of it have ever happened at all…? 

 We will pray for his soul. 

 If he ever had one.

 Poor old Walt…that fuking bastard.

Mark Jukes

 9/12/2021


The complete, boxed-set Fright Unseen Launch Pack is still available, as are the chapbook packs.

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Make It Happen

Joseph M Monks Headshot - trees and sky in the background

To everyone in a tough spot. Stuck in a rut. In a bad situation. Gonna lay something out that I strongly advise you try. Trust me when I say, “Been there.” Think about it—I was damn good with a camera. I worked in porn. I was editor for multiple magazines and shot plenty of my own layouts. And then…I went blind. Went from my boss sending me around the country to shoot hot, naked chicks and edit magazine copy to being unemployed, sightless, unable to type, and unable to get anywhere by myself. I know from ‘sucks’. 

If you’re a kid, esp in a school where half the teachers are out, they can’t do anything with you and you’re sitting in an auditorium just so they can stick you somewhere? (Pinellas? Hillsborough? NYC? Your hometown?) Get up and walk out. Yeah, yeah, I know, sounds like it’s going to not go well, right? But…you’re miserable (because you’re smart). You’re bored, you’re stuck in an uncomfortable chair, sometimes for hours. Just walk. Somebody tries to stop you? Tell them you’re going to take a leak. Then…go up to the library. Who’s going to stop you? Listen, you already know, they’re way understaffed, they can’t keep an eye on everybody, so why sit in the gym or the auditorium? Hit the library, find something to read, and accomplish something. Library selection blows? Go online, join some horror or fantasy forums. There are 8 trillion writers giving away books every…freaking…day. Reading horror stories probably isn’t what the admins want, but, so? Piss on them and what they want. At least you’ll be killing time and enjoying yourself, and yeah, I admit, you’ll be stimulating your brain to some degree. Believe me when I say: not all bad. If all you do in life is follow the rules? Well, enjoy the stiff back from sitting on the bleachers being told to keep quiet.

Make it happen. Whatever it is. Either that, or sit around and wallow. It ain’t gonna fix itself, I can promise you. If you aren’t in HS or going to college or, basically, anywhere? Find a gig, even P/T. Target’s hiring at $15, giving out bonuses if you last 3 months and even offering college tuition. Can’t get there? BS. Go hit the garage sales, craigslist, put the word out among your friends—who’s got a bike? 10 speed, mountain bike, who cares. You can literally find bikes online for free. See what’s out there. Put some coin in your pocket, and even if it isn’t for you, better’n sitting at home watching Hulu. Get in the door, then look for gigs you like better. If you can fog a mirror? You can get hired. You can read this blog? You can get promoted

Go back to the start—if your life blows right now, it’s likely due to outside factors. But, and take this part seriously: if you let it keep sucking? That’s on you. In HS, they locked down campus on us. No one could go out for lunch any more. Miserable, right? We didn’t like it, so some of us figured out that no one was monitoring the shop hallways. So…we just walked right out. We went to the pizzeria or the deli or the bakery, and we did what we always did—got lunch. Then, getting back in? We timed it so we’d be going back in with teachers returning from their lunch errands. Wanna talk perfect cover? Kids coming in who’d had doc’s appts would be showing up, parents for teacher meetings—no one was going to get on our backs. When they assigned someone to watch that hallway? We figured out something else. Did we get caught? Sure, once in a rare while. But so what? What was the ‘punishment’? A warning? The threat of detention? Pffft. Meant nothing to us…not when compared to a Godfather sub at Pizzoli’s. (Somewhere, I hope Lou Serio is smiling!)

I knew when the lights went out, things were not gonna magically get better. No one was going to come banging on my door handing out opportunities. You’re in the same boat. But if you’re in school or you’re flying solo? There isn’t much ‘back end’ to worry about. School ‘discipline?’ Please, if you don’t show up for detention, chances are no one will notice, and if they do? So what? The asst principal is gonna wag his/her finger at you and say “Tsk, tsk” louder? 

You don’t get any more teen years. No one gives out extensions on your 20s. If you’re just wasting time because there aren’t enough teachers to teach class? Means there aren’t enough teachers to bust your balls. It’s your time. Put it to use. Get something out of it. Reading’s a good escape. You like art? Grab a notebook at the thrift shop and sketch. Write short stories. Do challenger-level crosswords. Just keep your brain moving, because without that skill? Yeah, things’re gonna stay rough, and you don’t want that your whole life. 

Break some rules. The little ones (like leaving campus for lunch, walking in late, ignoring ‘study hall’ to go hang in the library, using your phone/tablet and cracking the school’s Wi Fi password to read horror comics?) They don’t have any penalties worth worrying about. You want something? Go after it. Make it happen. I know it seems crappy, but you have a lot more control, and a lot more options than you think. You just need to have the guts to take advantage of them without worrying.

Enough from the blind guy who’s partied with XXX movie stars, been flown around the U.S. (and to Mexico!) to be a guest at horror & fantasy conventions, traveled the country signing autographs because of horror comics, and directed a movie 99% of people told me I couldn’t make, because I was blind and no one had done it before. Rules? Not my friend. The bulls#i+ ones, anyway. Don’t rob banks? Yeah, listen to that one. Otherwise? When you see it’s just nonsense, take your shot. Might seem like time moves s-l-o-o-o-o-o-w-w-w-w, but it gets by you a lot quicker than you think. If you’re worried, gotta get past that. Life tends to crush and steamroll the worried. Me? I’ve done some crazy things. And, I’m not done. That said…

It’s your turn.