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Finding the Yin and Yang in Scary Stories Documentary

18 Apr

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Everything fans wanted to know about Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell‘s collaborative work gets beautifully and excellently explored in Cody Meirick’s documentary Scary Stories. Both talents share equal credit in this exploration of the three-book series, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

Not only were Schwart’z family interviewed, but also a variety of talents (from uber fans to fellow authors) profess their love for this team. There’s plenty of talkie moments to narrate the life of these creators, and in what I particularly enjoyed is in how enduring these works are still today. Every generation has a series of books they adored. Whether that’s with Conan the Barbarian, EC’s Tales from the Crypt, The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, The Vampire Lestat, Goosebumps and etc., the culture that’s grown is explored in Meirick’s work.

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Blood on Black Wax: Horror Soundtracks, (& Musicals) An Interview Redux

16 Apr

By Ed Sum and Ira Hunter

Release Date: May 13, 2019
Available for pre-order on Amazon

Blood on Black Wax: Horror Soundtracks on Vinyl is a wonderful book which looks back at nearly all the music from the greatest horror cinema classics. No, we are not talking about a rerelease of all these tunes, but instead, we will get an opening of a time capsule which looks at the unique history and artwork of these works. This hardbound, full-colour, 240-page book ​spotlights the intricate (and often rare) artwork on the LP sleeves, as well as album reviews, release details, and wild backstories.

Jeff Szpirglas reviews albums and old movies for Rue Morgue Magazine, and his bibliography does not end there. He’s written many books for young readers and is a second-grade full-time teacher. This vocation puts him in an interesting position should he decide to demonstrate his love for horror to impressionable minds. Aaron Lupton is the music editor for the said magazine and is a passionate and nerdy collector of horror soundtrack LPs. He also is the co-host of From My Parents Basement podcast with Eric Gaudet and Gary Pullin.

In what prompted the decision to create this book was when Szpirglas approached Aaron about putting together a special edition digest issue of the magazine focusing specifically on horror soundtracks. At the time, Rue Morgue had been releasing special editions on subjects ranging from horror collectables to Canadian horror, and he felt that a soundtrack book was a no-brainer. In his own words, So much of what makes these films effective often comes from sound and music working in conjunction with the images and the rhythms of editing.

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Unmasking M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable Trilogy & Glass

14 Apr

Release Date: April 16, 2019

Although M. Night Shyamalan‘s Unbreakable trilogy took nearly twenty years to finish, the wait was certainly worth it. Ever since I saw the first film, I could not help but think of the line from Snow White, “Mirror, mirror on the wall who’s the fairest of them all?” Instead of considering the response from the Disney movie, I feel another meaning can be pulled from it. Anyone who has looked upon this reflective surface is asking to themselves, “Who am I, really?”

Not everybody will like what they see of themselves reflected back. With titles in part two and three suggestive of different mental states, I have enough theories going on in my head wanting to break down what this auteur’s films are about. The bonus material which comes in the home video release of Glass, however brief they are, offer more than a few teasing answers and confirmations in what I already believe. Upon seeing all three films again, back-to-back, I have a few theories.

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Raising the Bard with Songs of the Dead and Book Two

12 Apr

Vault Comics.jpg

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Andrea Fort and Michael Christopher Heron are the writing team behind Vault Comic‘s Songs for the Dead. This series is still ongoing and it came to my attention when I saw it turned a lot of the conceptions concerning Necromancers upside down! This character class is not from Dungeons and Dragons as we normally know it and the protagonist, Bethany, is a bright-eyed young girl whose desire for adventure keeps her going. Her music, though, is able to bring the dead back to life!

The consequences are worth noting. She is a pied piper, and the zombie critters that keep her company is amusing. Along the way, the supernatural encounters she faces are worse, and what she does to answer them got me curious. It’s like these creators decided to have the thought experiment of what if George Romero was asked to write a Disney Princess story.  To truly visualize it, “We also have to acknowledge our artist Sam Beck without whom it would be a lot of words on a page without those beautiful beautiful images. We owe her so much for her contribution,” said Fort and Heron. 

When considering this team crafted a tale that’s unique in the world of fantasy, they had to do more. It was important for these creators to have this story live in the fantasy worlds that we, as readers, are already familiar with while subverting the tropes, They picked and chose from every product they ever loved, and were careful in not to overdo it.

These creators love cinema and know its history (especially Fort)—ranging from Ingmar Bergman to Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Harry Potter—and in what they have crafted shows. There’s more The Legend of Korra style nuances in this book to which Fort admits she’s a huge fan of. They wanted a book that’s accessible to everyone taking an interest in their debut book.

The two are avid role-playing gamers and just how they became a team was not while gaming. Although they had worked for the same company and had mutual friends, they never met. “Instead, it was through online dating, as most anti-social squirrelly millennials did,” laughed Fort.

songs-for-the-dead gn cover

When they finally got together, they instantly clicked and discovered they have a love for storytelling in the comic book medium. To say one did more than the other is unfair. Ultimately, the narrative is of their fictional daughter coming of age. The idea for this series arrived one day when Ford mentioned how her companion came to her one day and said, “‘You know I’ve been thinking a lot about how necromancers are always these really scary old dudes in these cloaks. Why can’t they be just like some sweet girl?’

“And being a woman who likes strong complex female characters, we realized crafting a story that was really female forward was important.”

Whether this thought came from him one day looking over his vintage playing card and tarot collection (to which Death is famously depicted) or out of the blue, the two knew this idea had to be further developed. The first few issues of this comic book were self-published and, very quickly, Vault Comics came knocking at their door. These two creators said being discovered was a boon. Fort said this company is wonderful for taking them on and they can continue telling more stories.

The second series, The Necromancer’s Map, is coming out this summer and the two believes it’s a great jumping in point for new readers. It will continue the story of the main characters Bethany and Alyssa, and explore the world even more.

This next arc will see her take on more of a role as a bard. Much like the Dungeons and Dragons character class, this role needs to be explored. Bethany is a minstrel first and a hellraiser second. “What better representation of a hero is there than somebody who can rally people with their hope and their optimism?” said Ford.

For admirers of independent works, this comic is one to certainly look at. To keep up with the latest happenings, please follow their Twitter page here.