Monday, March 31, 2014


Poorly photoshopped artwork by Jon Lennon

I’ve known Leo Perez for quite a few years now. In fact, we worked on the Napalm Assault together for a while. When I first met him, he was an artist, but he wasn’t doing a whole lot with his talent. He wanted to do comics, but he never really found direction as far as that went. Then came the day I introduced him to Jon Lennon, and Leo turned into an absolute beast of a comics illustrator. He is now an integral part of CheeseLord Comics. Here is my question for him:

ME: Imagine a world without CheeseLord Comics, and you never met Jon Lennon. Where would you be as an artist now?

LEO PEREZ: Fuck. I’m going to have to go deep here, aren’t I? I’ve always considered myself an artist, but obviously Jon Lennon was the guy that woke the beast up, roped the beast and then helped me to tame it. I learned a lot from Jon, but most importantly Jon helped me financially as well. Jon fronted most of our cons and trips while I found my legs and became this somewhat self-reliant artist I am today. It’s even to the point where Jon and I have begun to explore different art styles together and have become more involved in our art than our comic creating. I owe a lot to Jon and CheeseLord because of the work and focus that he’s helped me put into my work, and in doing so we’ve become full partners in this comics business. This year alone we were able to win a bid in a huge project where we got paid extremely well and I could not have confidently done my part without the guidance and teachings of Lennon. That is 100% real and true. So going forward as we continue to grow artistically and as a company, I can always look back and say yeah, I did it, but not without my friends, family, my wife and notably Jon Lennon. Oh God . . . he’s going to read this and have the biggest dick in the room!

Keep up on all Leo Perez (and CheeseLord) news here. Follow him on Twitter here.

Friday, March 28, 2014


Werewolves are bad enough as it is. Now throw an insane werewolf into a revenge plot on the mean streets of Chicago, and what you have is pure lunacy. (Er, no pun intended. Seriously. Puns suck.) Wil Solomon is the unfortunate cop who gets caught in the middle of this mystery, and he’s intent on solving it.

All right, taking a hardboiled story and putting the supernatural into it is nothing new. Cops hunting down werewolves on their beat has been done a few times. Yet this story feels somehow different. Maybe it’s the secret society of werewolves, although that was done in FERALS. Or maybe it’s the psychological mess of what is reality and what is in Wil’s mind? No, that’s been done before, too.

It’s probably the fact that this is more of a noir story than a horror story. From the very moment you meet the hero, you know he’s doomed, and it’s just a matter of watching him march to whatever horrible, gut-wrenching end he has waiting for him at the end of the darkened, stinking alley.

But is the hero Wil? Or is it Eric, the crazy werewolf bent on exacting his great and terrible revenge? Wil sure lacks a lot of heroic qualities, after all. He’s got his own secrets, one of them being the fact that he’s cheating on his wife. Maybe it’s premature to call him a hero. Maybe he’s more of a protagonist. But he does have the single-minded determination that most heroes have.

Yet Eric has that very same single-minded determination, at least when it comes to slaying his enemies. It’s not like he doesn’t have his reasons for doing this, but then again, it is pretty crazy.

It’s safe to say there are no bad guys here, just the savage and the doomed, and sometimes they’re the same people. That’s what sets this book apart from the others. Writer Ed Dunphy knows exactly what he’s doing as he spins this tale of betrayal, blood (not just the fluid in your veins, but also in the family relations sense), fury and destruction, from the very moment we see Eric ripping another werewolf to pieces until the tragic ending of issue three. Artist Andrew M. Kudelka is on the same page. He brings perfect images to the page, and his covers are amazing, especially the one for the first issue as seen above.

This isn’t a perfect book, but it will entertain the fuck out of you. Keep an eye out for a cameo from the son of Mike Royko’s Boss. If you know who that is just from reading this paragraph, then you’re ready for the glories of this book.

Written by Ed Dunphy
Illustrated by Andrew M. Kudelka
Published by VLP Comics
24-26 pages each

$4.99 each

Thursday, March 27, 2014

COOL SHIT 3-27-14

THE WALKING DEAD #124: “All Out War” continues, and the injured members of the Hilltop are starting to turn into zombies. Jesus pieces Negan’s plan together, and everyone starts looking at Rick, realizing that he was wounded by one of the tainted weapons. Or was he . . ? Ah, fuck it. We all know Dwight didn’t taint the bolt. Please. Everyone else is turning, but Rick isn’t? Why else would he not be? I hope Kirkman proves me wrong. Now would be the perfect time to kill Rick. Could you imagine if Jesus was the protagonist instead? Or even better, Negan? I know, I keep saying that. I know Kirkman will never let Negan lead the book, but Jesus? It could happen. (Hey, one more thing: I can’t wait for this story arc to be over, not just because I have high hopes that it will be bloody and it will change everything, but also because I’m sick of these bland covers. They’ve all sucked.)

THE TRANSFORMERS: DARK CYBERTRON #2: Wow. They killed off some big characters with this story arc. Last issue, they offed the most popular character in their history, Bumblebee. Now, Shockwave is gone. And . . . well, I’ll let Megatron speak for the rest of this entry. Nothing I could say is cooler than that.

FATALE #21: In this issue, we get even more information about Josephine’s past, in particular about her relationship with Otto, the only man who is completely immune to her wiles. But the big deal about this issue is the party Jo drags Nick to. She’s interested in stealing a very important artifact, something you wouldn’t expect. And though it’s been done several times over the course of the series, it never ceases to amaze me how men respond to Jo, especially when she isn’t around them. It’s painful to watch, and it never stops being so. THREE ISSUES TO GO!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Meet Onas. He’s an ugly, bald man who has just entered a midlife crisis. He’s compartmentalized his life into these segments: nagging, driving, public humiliation, bullshit and bowling. He’s stuck with a wife he hates (and the feeling is mutual), a job he can’t stand and a life that has become one big pit of misery. Bowling is his only escape, and even that, he has to confess, is boring. But it gets him away from the garbage of the rest of his life.

He’s been having bad dreams lately. The world dissolves around him into a hellish landscape, and the people who live there are no longer human but hypersexed mutants and demons. And then there’s the Grinning Man, who might not actually be a dream after all.

You see, after a relaxing evening knocking back pins, Onas walks out and accidentally insults a group of bikers. As per his usual run of bad luck, he prepares himself to be beaten to a pulp. Instead, he’s stabbed, but it doesn’t take. That’s because the Grinning Man comes to his rescue and slaughters the bikers. Reinvigorated by his brush with death, Onas feels like a man for the first time in years. The first thing he does? He gets him some puss-ay. The only problem is, good times don’t last long. There are demons after the Grinning Man—who turns out to be Asmodeus himself—and they’re very eager to find him. Eager enough to tear Onas’s life apart.

And that’s how we’re introduced to the world of STRANGLED WITH A HALO, an indie book which promises to be a formidable force in Artists Alley in the coming years. It is cleverly written by Jake Young with a lot of great one liners. He sets the tone perfectly with Onas’s grim, depressing narration. You can’t help but feel sorry for this poor fucker. You know this series isn’t going to end well for him.

Mazzart is the perfect artist for the book. His work is jagged and harsh, in your face and brutal. He makes Asmodeus look somehow like a hard-partying biker, yet at the same time a very menacing villain. There is a dream sequence in which Onas blows his brains out that must be seen to be believed. And that last page . . . wow. Again, you’ve got to see it to believe it.

This book’s just getting started. Better buy your ticket before it’s too late to take the ride.

Written by Jake Young
Illustrated by Mazzart
Published by CAW Comics
18 pages


Monday, March 24, 2014


Back in the day, Kevin Strange was a filmmaker. He wrote and directed several indie pictures, like COLONEL KILL MOTHERFUCKERS, DEAD SHIT and COCKHAMMER. Now he’s writing books and publishing them through his own company, StrangeHouse Books. He’s the author of ROBAMAPOCALYPSE, VAMPIRE GUTS IN NUKE TOWN and THE LAST GIG ON PLANET EARTH AND OTHER STRANGE STORIES, among others. I’ve been lucky to be a part of his company. They published stories by me in ZOMBIE! ZOMBIE! BRAIN BANG! and STRANGE FUCKING STORIES, they published my second book TALES OF QUESTIONABLE TASTE and we’re poised to do more business.

ME: After working in film for quite a while, you switched over to publishing. It’s easy to see why someone would want to publish their own work, but you’ve been encouraging a stable of writers for several years now. What drew you to championing other people’s work?

KEVIN STRANGE: Thanks for having me on your blog, John. You asked me this question a few months ago, and I’m still struggling with my answer. “Why did you choose to publish other authors?”

Why DID I choose to work with other authors? That’s a great question. And one of the hardest questions I’ve ever been asked. It’s a question I ask myself two or three times a week. I am constantly torn away from my own novels so that I can tend to and promote the needs and books of my fellow SHB authors. I’m always trying to find a balance between Kevin Strange the novelist and Kevin Strange the publisher.

Wouldn’t life be soooo much easier if I just wrote books?

Sure. And a lot less of a headache. And a lot less drama. But ultimately a lot less fulfilling. You see, when I wrote and directed feature films, I was surrounded by people. I had casts of actors who looked to me to direct them through their crazy dialogue and ridiculous scenes. I had the behind the scenes crew looking to me for guidance as they set up lighting and chose the angles and depth of their shots. I had musicians sculpting my soundtracks and editors putting all the footage together into a (mostly) cohesive whole. I was never alone in my creativity and yet, I was the driving force, the engine. The stop and the go. It was all up to me.

When I stepped away from that, there was a huge vacuum. I was now a guy alone in a room with a lap top. Sure I’d always pecked away at my own scripts, but not a single one of them was over 50 or 60 pages of mostly dialogue. My scripts were easy to write and basically just a reference for my actors to look at so they could memorize their lines. They took me a week each to write, once I sat down and did the job.

Writing fiction was hard as fuck. I had to write EVERYTHING and it took a long time. Days and nights turned into weeks and months for a few dozen pages. Each short story took a chunk of my being with it. My longer works felt like black holes, threatening to drag me down into myself forever.

It was like going from a brightly lit party with driving music, sexy girls, cool bros and lots of drugs and booze, to a pitch black locked basement.

It was a hard transition, one I’m not completely through. If I was, I’d have six books coming out this year instead of three. Sometimes, I still hide from my work because it’s too lonely, too quiet, too ME. The easiest way to overcome this shocking loneliness was to team up with a crew of like-minded weirdos and do this thing together. It didn’t feel so lonely when it was HEY GANG! STRANGEHOUSE BOOKS!!!!! instead of just Kevin and his computer.

But one thing I wasn’t ready for, after years of being THE GUY who controlled everything from how much toilet paper we brought to the set, to how long a beautiful woman had to stand in front of me with her tits out while talking about buttholes and huge dicks, was that my new author buddies who I teamed up with to fight the good fight with . . . well, they had egos of their own.

I didn’t write their books. I didn’t control their books. As their publisher, they saw me as the guy who magically made them money, and I could fuck myself if I had anything else to say about it. Those two things, the ego of a film maker and the ego of a writer are two things you never want to see clash.

It’s been over two years now, and I’ve learned to adjust. Some people still think I’m an ego maniac who steals all of authors’ money and jacks off with it. But anyone currently working with me knows I’ve mellowed out.

I’ve learned to deal with author egos, and how to keep my own bullshit in check. I had to lose a few books from my catalog, and let several talented authors (and a couple of business partners) walk on down the road before I figured out how to run my shit. But we’re good now.

Today? As 2014 grows its first boner, I couldn’t be happier to work with my team of authors, artists and our editor Sean Ferrari. I understand that our authors’ books belong to them, emotionally, and I’ve learned to feel people out before I sign them to contracts. I don’t let the cunts ruin the fun for the rest of us. I’ve learned that blindly accepting novel submissions is mostly a waste of time, and that helping an author build a book that both of us are happy with is the best way to do business.

I choose to work with other authors because I feel like I have something to offer them beyond writing them a check 4 times a year. I feel like our team compliments everyone on our roster and that as a whole, SHB is stronger, louder and more successful than any one of us would be without each other.

Working with authors like you, John Bruni, and author/artist Jesse Wheeler makes me excited to be an author, makes me proud to be a publisher. I don’t’ know if I’d still be a writer today if I hadn’t met you guys and helped bring your books to life. You guys make me want to be a better leader and a better author. Without you guys, I’m just the guy typing in the dark.

Thank you for making SHB what it is, and for making me who I am today. YOU are why I do what I do.

Kevin’s books can be bought here. Follow him on Twitter here. Don’t forget to check out SHB and buy all of their releases (including mine).

Friday, March 21, 2014

THE COCAINE! BROS.: The Final Post

This is the last thing from THE COCAINE! BROS., a strip by myself and Robert Tannahill, and I hope you enjoy it. It's the very first illustration of Tucker and Hunter. Check it out here.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

COOL SHIT 3-20-14

AMERICAN VAMPIRE: SECOND CYCLE #1: Welcome back to AMERICAN VAMPIRE, one of the very few vampire books on the market worth reading. It practically killed me when it went on hiatus. Now, it’s back, and it’s a beast with a different nature. Fast forward to the ‘Sixties, and Pearl is running kind of an underground railroad for wayward vampires. Even better, Skinner Sweet has taken an interesting direction: back to where he started. When we met him, he was a bank robber and murderer. Now he’s gone back to his thieving ways, except these days, he does it as a biker. Just look at that ponytail and sleeveless vest! But the coolest part is his hideout, a place he and his gang set up back in the Old West. It’s a buried freight car in the middle of nowhere, littered with junk, a Confederate flag and the bones of some forgotten woman. And then there’s the new villain, who seems to be a very ancient vampire . . .

JUPITER’S LEGACY #4: In this issue, we now learn a bit more about how the superheroes got their powers in the first place. More interestingly, however, is how they’ve been doing now that they have taken over America. Nobody seems to think they’re doing a great job. Big surprise. The bigger surprise: in Australia, there’s a mysterious kid with superpowers who is saving people’s lives. During his regular life, he’s doing his best to keep a low profile by pretending to be a klutz and letting the local kids beat his ass every once in a while. Still, it’s not enough to escape everyone’s attention. This has been a heartbreaker of a book so far, and I can only assume that there’s more tragedy ahead of us.

THE TRANSFORMERS: REGENERATION ONE #100: This book has a special place in my heart. When I was a kid, it was my favorite comic book. When it was canceled, it broke me so badly that I gave up reading comic books. I didn’t touch another comic until a friend of mine put the trade of EVIL ERNIE: YOUTH GONE WILD in my hands when I was in high school. When IDW announced that it was bringing Simon Furman and Andrew Wildman back to reprise the book, I was absolutely giddy. A part of me was afraid that it wouldn’t be as good as it was back in the old days, but I was just happy to have this piece of my childhood restored to me.

Well, it wasn’t as great as I hoped it would be. It was all right. It had a strong start and kind of petered out after a while. But I kept buying it, not just because I’m a habit-buyer, but also because of that special place in my heart. Well, they brought the book to a close yesterday, and I have to say, it ended in a fucking spectacular way, something I just did not expect. (Here’s my usual reminder that Cool Shit contains spoilers. If you don’t want to know how it ends, stop reading now.)

I’m sure a lot of people—myself included—thought that they’ll just end it and bring it back whenever the franchise needs a boost in sales. Uh . . . wrong. They’re fucking serious with this ending.

How do I put this delicately? Well, there is no way. Fuck it. EVERYONE DIES. There you go. Autobots and Decepticons alike. Everyone. The title of this final arc is “The War to End All Wars,” and Furman isn’t lying. Just a handful of Transformers survive when the thing that used to be Primus reshapes Cybertron, turning everyone else into Dark Matrix creatures capable of killing a ‘bot merely by touching him.

Not to mention the fact that the Dark Matrix has Optimus Prime in its thrall, and it has brought three different versions of him to fight Rodimus to the death. (Here’s another cool thing about this book: the multiverse. Whenever someone makes a movie out of a book or does a remake of a classic, I like to think that both versions happened, but they just happened in alternate universes, which is how I reconcile the differences and the things that piss me off. The same holds true for the Transformers books. Gen 1 takes place in another universe from the regular IDW books. Well, it turns out that Furman has decided that this is true. Just wait until the multiple Rodimus Primes show up, including the one from the Lost Light.)

Ultra Magnus and Galvatron have their final battle, and sure enough, one stands and one falls. Falls hard and permanently.

Rodimus realizes that the only way to save the universe is to kill Optimus Prime . . . AND HE DOES!

The Autobots and Decepticons give up war. They join forces with humans for a greater civilization. Even Starscream becomes an ambassador of peace throughout the galaxy. And in one final, beautiful moment of death, Rodimus Prime, the final Transformer, melts into the sun and gives birth to a new form of life. From his final thoughts, this wonderful gem: “Optimus was right—we were, ultimately, just one part of a far greater whole, and somewhere and when, in a perfect facet of the jewel he was honing, I picture an idyll, a utopia: the realization of Primus’ dream of a perfectly balanced universe, able to resist the entropic dissolution that inevitably turns order into chaos. My decision, our sacrifice, kept the dream alive.”

I couldn’t think of a better way to end this series.

[For the record, this last portion of Cool Shit was written with NRG’s “Instruments of Destruction” on a loop in the background.]

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Please be sure to check out my new comic book review at the Napalm Reviews. I take a look at the new STRAY BULLETS book, KILLERS. Read it here. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


If you follow me on Twitter but not on Facebook, this has been making the rounds of Facebook yesterday. I want everyone to not only share the news that this book is for free this week on Kindle, but I also want to make sure everyone gets a chance to win an actual physical copy. Please start sharing the above image on Facebook. StrangeHouse is watching . . .

And what the hell? Why not give out more free shit? If you get TALES OF QUESTIONABLE TASTE on Kindle (or if you're one of the lucky few who win a paperback copy), please review it on Amazon or Goodreads or, if you're really awesome, review it on your blog. Send me a link, and I'll send you a PDF of my first novel, STRIP, for FREE. That's right. Free. My second favorite four letter F-word.


Monday, March 17, 2014


Z.M. Thomas is the comic book writer behind great books such as ABE THE ABORTED FETUS and THE BIBLE 2, both of which I’ve reviewed here and here, respectively. As you can probably tell, most people don’t get the joke and have said quite a few negative things about his work. Here’s what I had to ask him.

ME: You take on a lot of touchy topics in your work for the purpose of making people laugh, and that tends to rub people the wrong way. What is the worst thing anyone has ever said to you because of your books?

Z.M. THOMAS: Honestly, the hate that people send to me is pretty much the generic rhetoric that you’d expect someone to say if they disagree with you on a fundamental religious level, which usually involves the threat of Hell. As if threatening Hell to an atheist is much of a threat at all, considering there’s a certain level of insanity in trying to justify having an imaginary enemy. But, either way, I’ve been lucky in the sense that there hasn’t been much said in the form of bodily harm or death threats, just a lot of passive aggressive bullshit which appears to have been written by those with the intellectual equivalent of first graders. However, the only time anyone has said anything to me that really pissed me off was when an individual sarcastically tried to ask if “I or anyone I knew had a gun placed to their head and forced into Christianity,” which actually has happened to my family. So I engaged in a long condescending answer which you can find here. Of course he deleted his comment within hours, but that was probably the most offensive thing anyone has ever said to me.

His work can be found here. It is well-researched, as he is a fellow fan of history. If you haven’t read anything of his, despite my reviews, now is the time. He’s planning to have a new book released soon. I won’t say anything about it, but if it’s anything like he’s told me, it’s going to top the awesomeness of ABE and BIBLE 2, hands down.

Friday, March 14, 2014


Meet Woody Grant. He’s an incredibly damaged old man, though he doesn’t seem to be aware of it. After a lifetime of drowning in booze and hurting his loved ones and friends, he finds himself in his golden years, saddled with a wife he doesn’t particularly care for, father to two sons he doesn’t really know much about and living an existence without a point until the one day he receives a letter in the mail stating that he has won $1 million.

Well, technically it says that he’s won the dough provided he has the winning numbers, but he doesn’t pay much attention to that part. He’s decided that this is a sure thing, and he doesn’t want to trust the mail with something as important as this; he has to go to their HQ in Nebraska, where he intends to collect his million in person. The only problem is, no one will take him. He doesn’t have a driver’s license (it’s never explained why, but it’s heavily suggested that it was taken away from him due to a series of DUI’s), so his only choice is to walk.

The police keep bringing him back, but like a POW in a WWII prison camp, he’s got a one-track mind: escape. His wife Kate chews him out. His son, Ross, gets angry and starts suggesting that the old man needs to go in a home. The only one who feels sorry for him is Woody’s other son, David. David’s kind of a broken man, himself. He ekes out a living selling Bose speakers. His longtime girlfriend just left him. He’s a recovering alcoholic. He worries about his father, but when he sees that Woody isn’t going to give up, he decides to take a few days off from work to drive his father to the sweepstakes office in Nebraska. (They live in Montana.) Awkward humor and depression ensues.

Whenever you hear anything about NEBRASKA, it’s all about Bruce Dern’s masterful performance as Woody. Sure enough, Dern kicks a lot of ass. He nails the lost, inattentive old man perfectly, all at once vulnerable and a downright motherfucker. But in all reality, this is really David’s story. Played as a loveable, good-natured loser with the best intentions in mind by Will Forte, it’s not just a road trip to Nebraska. This is a journey of discovery. About himself. About his father. About his family.

David doesn’t really know much about himself or anyone else. He really wants to go to Nebraska so he could spend some time with his father. Woody’s getting up there, and who knows how much time he’s got left? David wants to know more about the man he calls “dad,” to find out where he, himself came from.

He learns quite a bit. Over the course of the film, he meets Ed Pegram, an old friend of Woody’s, who fills him in on how much of a deadbeat Woody really is. In an old cemetery, he stands with his mother as she points out all the graves of Woody’s parents and brothers, pointing out the sibling that David was named for, a poor boy who died at a very young age in the same bed as Woody. (She also points out the graves of people who tried to get in her knickers back in the day, the perfect, hilarious counterpoint to the melancholy of the dead. June Squibb, who plays Kate, brings a wonderful mixture of sternness and vulgarity to this film. You can’t get out of this scene without laughing awkwardly.)

David gets to see the house where his father grew up, an old, broken dwelling unfit for a bum. In many regards, it’s the wilting shadow of Woody. David also encounters an old girlfriend of his father’s and is shocked to find that her and his mother actually fought over his father. From her, he learns a bit about his father’s time in the army during the Korean War.

And then there’s the rest of the family. You see, they hear that Woody’s won a million bucks, not knowing that he’s actually being scammed. Now they’re looking back over the years of misery he’s caused them, and they all want a piece of the fortune, especially Ed Pegram, who says Woody owes him ten grand. (Ed’s played by the incredibly awesome Stacy Keach, with a dab of tough guy and a wallop of smug assholishness.) Soon, it becomes apparent that David doesn’t have anything in common with these people. He and his brother Ross, polar opposites, come off as the most well-grounded people in the movie. (Ross is played by Bob Odenkirk. He’s an ambitious guy, even though it’s a little bit late in his life to get what he wants. He comes off as a hard-ass with a heart of gold, especially in the scene when he and David decide to get their father’s air compressor back from Ed, a debt that has been 40 years in the making.)

Director Alexander Payne has his work cut out for him. It’s hard to take this hodgepodge of humor, tragedy and feel-good story and make it all stick together in a cohesive manner. This is the kind of thing that David Lynch could handle without a problem. The same for the Coen Brothers. Then again, Coen, Coen and Lynch are some of the greatest filmmakers alive today. Payne doesn’t have nearly the experience they do.

(Come to think of it, it would be really interesting to see what the Coens would have done with this movie. Same for Lynch. It’s exactly the kind of material they would go with, if only in their different ways.)

Thankfully, Payne is so familiar with the story that he might as well have written it himself. (He didn’t. The screenwriter’s name is Bob Nelson.) At first, the humor is rather dry, but once you get in sync with the film, you’ll laugh yourself hoarse, especially in scenes where others would be horrified, like the scene in which David and Woody are looking for Woody’s teeth, which he lost while in a drunken stupor by the railroad tracks.

NEBRASKA is beautifully shot with special attention paid to the environment. At first, it feels like Payne might be trying to pad out the movie, but as soon as you start feeling engulfed by the landscape, you know it’s worth the time. You feel like you’re there with the characters, even though everything is in glorious black and white.

There’s just one problem: the title is kind of bland. OK, so Nebraska is Woody and David’s destination, and as a result, about three-quarters of the movie happens there. But it’s just too generic for the story. It’s a small complaint, though. NEBRASKA is an excellent film. It’s great to see Bruce Dern back in action, even though he can’t hear much and he staggers, rather than walks. It’s even better to see Will Forte in a role like this. We all know he can do comedy, but now we know that he can play a little bit of tragedy, too. NEBRASKA is great. It’s not for everybody, but it should be. We might all end up like Woody some day, whose only purpose in life is to cash in a form letter for a million dollars. Everyone should give it a shot. Most will find it worth their time.

(Here’s a little trivia for you. You might recognize Woody’s brother, Ray. That’s because he’s played by veteran character actor Rance Howard. Both he and Dern appeared several times on GUNSMOKE. Come to think of it, they were in THE ‘BURBS together, too. Small world.)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

COOL SHIT 3-13-14

FBP #8: This issue contains what is possibly the strangest bar fight you will ever encounter in fiction. Apparently, the FBP is now located in Alaska as their funds dry up even more. The locals aren’t fans of the government agents, but they aren’t afraid to try to hustle them out of money by playing pool with Adam and Rosa, the latter of which has never played before. She learns fast, though, as she talks about the multiverse. Before long, they’ve gotten the better of the locals, but things turn violent. That’s when Rosa apparently bends space in order to throw a ball at their attackers, which has seemingly picked up the attributes of perpetual motion and terminal velocity. I’ve got to say, I never saw anything like that in PREACHER . . . And then there’s the reveal that Rosa grew up in an alternate universe. And what the fuck is Cicero up to? Just when you think things in this book can’t get weirder.

THE TRANSFORMERS: MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE #27: Well. That was . . . unexpected. Shockwave has finally revealed his endgame, and it’s a real motherfucker. He’s decided to end existence. Kind of. He intends to funnel the universe into himself, thus rendering it into one giant black hole. It’s hard to say why he wants this, but there you go. This just goes to show you that Shockwave is the nastiest villain in the TF world. Not even Megatron is that fucked up. In fact, he’s not all that bad. Remember, he started out as a revolutionary. It’s just that his hatred and his desire for power overcame his noble intentions and he turned into the monster he is now, which is why I think a small part of Optimus Prime admires him a bit. Speaking of Megatron, Ratchet has repaired him, and in an odd moment of introspection, Megatron finally understands his own tragic flaw (and I’m talking real tragic flaw, as described by Aristotle, not just as a common phrase that has almost lost its meaning).

THE WALKING DEAD #123: Remember last issue when Negan upped his game by smearing all of his army’s weapons with zombie gunk so they don’t have to actually strike killing blows? Well, the time has come to use them, and boy, does he ever. At this time, I feel it’s important to remind you all that spoilers are fair game here in Cool Shit, because this one’s a doozy. You see, this issue ends with a motherfucker of a cliffhanger: Dwight shoots a soiled arrow (sorry, I mean “bolt”) into Rick’s back. Which, in theory, means Rick is fucked. He’s going to go zombie on us, and it’s not like you can cut his fucking torso off to save him. Personally, I think Dwight’s arrow wasn’t soiled. We don’t technically see him put the zombie gunk on it (the zombie’s back covers up that scene), and remember, he’s supposed to be a spy for Rick. Kirkman constantly says that no one is safe in this book, and usually, he’s right. However, I think most of his fans would turn their backs on him if he really killed Rick off. I wouldn’t mind if Kirkman killed off all of the people we’ve been following for 123 issues and replace them with Negan and his Saviors, but he swears he’s not going to do that. Three more issues of “All Out War” to go . . .

RED TEAM #7: This is it, the final issue. Garth Ennis and Craig Cermak go out with a bang. A lot of bangs, actually. We now know who Eddie and Trudy have been telling their story to: the captain. Oddly enough, he seems to be taking it pretty well, considering what an absolute clusterfuck it would be if the press got their hands on this story. It’s interesting to see how Eddie and Trudy get out of the horrible mess at the cabin, but the absolute shocker of this issue is the captain’s conclusion. But that couldn’t be the end of it. Garth Ennis has a real bastard streak in him. That final page will break your heart. I’m going to miss this book.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Please be sure to check out a couple of new reviews that just went up this week on other sites.

First off, I did a comic book review for the Napalm Reviews. It's of Warren Ellis's new book, MOON KNIGHT #1, and you can read it here.

I also did a movie review for Forced Viewing. It's a look at one of my favorite films ever, GODS AND MONSTERS, and you can read it here.

Thanks, as always, for reading!

Monday, March 10, 2014


Josh Filer is a sick motherfucker. Anyone who has read his series, GROSS, GRANDPA! can attest, he’s the master of showing you fucked up shit you could have never possibly imagined. I couldn’t think of anything he wouldn’t put down on paper, so here’s my question for him.

ME: You have depicted some of the most awesomely grotesque images ever in your work. Was there ever anything you wanted to do but it just wouldn’t translate to comic books?

JOSH FILER: Yeah, once I wrote this story called “The Andys” that I wanted terribly to make into a comic. It was about these two guys I knew both named Andy and I made them out to be rabid pedophiles. They got all pedo-crazy and a little kid fucking monster grew off one of them and invaded my body turning me into an Andy and forcing me to run my car through an elementary school playground in an attempt to fuck kids. But it hasn’t worked out for me to draw because a lot of the humor was in my choice of words and I never really worked out making the visuals worth a shit.

He also guest-starred on an Everyone’s Got One column I dida while ago about censorship. I’ve also reviewed him several times here (links within the previous link). If you see him at a con, make sure you get his books. You won't be disappointed. (Grossed out? Yep. Offended? Probably. But not disappointed.)

Friday, March 7, 2014


First, Denis Leary did cops on THE JOB. Then, he did firefighters on RESCUE ME. Now, he’s doing paramedics on the new USA show, SIRENS. This is the story of three Chicago paramedics: Johnny, Hank and Brian. Johnny and Hank are best friends and have been at this for a long time, and Brian is the new guy.

Let’s face it, if your life was in danger, you’d probably be reluctant to let these guys help you. Even though they are very good at their job, their attitude would probably get them fired anywhere else. Johnny and Hank are more dedicated to being sardonic and dropping one-liners than they are in anything else. Brian’s a giddy, nervous guy who still lives with his parents and loves to get naked and dance when he’s drunk. Let the hijinks ensue.

For USA, this is a shocking show. It’s vulgar, employing words like “cock,” “cum” and “shit” (the latter of which USA never uses, even though the FCC is cool with it). Its humor is very politically incorrect. If you have touchy sensibilities, this show will offend the fuck out of you, which means it’s one funny motherfucking series, even though it’s only two episodes in so far.

In the first episode, they encounter a guy (played by stand-up comedian, Bob Kelly) who has shoved a soda bottle up his ass for sexual purposes and can’t get it out. (He would have used a carrot, but he was planning on making soup for dinner.) They can’t pull it out, and he offers them money to not bring him to the hospital, to handle the matter privately in his home. He offers an extra thousand if the “twink” pulls the bottle out. (They eventually jar it loose, and it comes in handy later in the episode in a very sickening, hilarious way.)

In the second episode, a guy Johnny and Hank saved gives them tickets to a Bears/Packers game . . . but they’ve committed to teaching kids how to do CPR for that day and can’t get out of it. They decide to do something really shady: teach an hours-long class in fifteen minutes so they can make it before kickoff. Things go wrong, of course, and after they feed these kids a pack of lies, one of them steals their ambulance. To get it back, they go to Johnny’s ex, a CPD cop, for help.

As funny as this show is, these guys are an absolute wreck. Johnny has commitment issues. Hank pulls these crazy, Machiavellian moves to sabotage his relationships. Brian just has DOOMED stamped on his forehead. In one scene, desperate for a cool nickname, he goes to Cash, the veteran in charge of such things. What does Brian end up with? KEVIN. Why? Because he looks like a Kevin. He’s not pleased with his lame nickname, but everyone else seems to be.

That’s where this show really excels: ball-busting. They’re just regular guys, working a shit job where the only joy they get out of life is making fun of their friends and talking shit, just like your co-workers. Hell, they even talk about movies and actors, which would ordinarily date a show, making it a bit harder for future generations to watch, but the way they do it is priceless.

It looks like this show will have more in common with THE JOB than RESCUE ME as far as tone goes. The latter was filled with equal parts comedy and tragedy while the former was just plain funny. (Although both shows did have a bunch of great moments in ball-busting history.) No matter how awkward and nasty a situation can be on SIRENS, it all ends with laughs. Sick, vulgar, awesome laughs. Be sure to check it out. It’s on Thursdays at 9 pm Central on USA.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

COOL SHIT 3-6-14

TRILLIUM #7: Another mind-bending issue from Jeff Lemire. Wow, there are a lot of great visuals in this one, and a lot happens. However, the thing that truly makes this issue cool is the reveal that the Atabithian language can actually be translated by readers. It’s pretty easy to figure out what they’re saying when you have some context, but when there aren’t any words in English around their odd squiggly language, it becomes nearly impossible. In the back of this issue, Lemire gives us the means of translating it all. How cool is that?

VELVET #4: Dammit. Burke left us for another job. He was a pretty cool character. But in this issue, we gain a new, interesting character in the form of Roman, who used to be a Russian spy until a job went bad, and he started freelancing rather than go to a gulag. Velvet goes to the king of all masquerade parties in order to track him down. You don’t get more exotic than that, and of course there’s plenty of two-fisted spy action to go with it. Velvet and Roman are old enemies, but they seem to have a lot of respect for each other and enjoy being in each others presence. Great weird stuff from Ed Brubaker.

THE TWILIGHT ZONE #3: Finally! We get the story of who is really wearing Trevor Richmond’s body, and it’s a doosy. While the real Trevor gave up all of his wealth to get into a new body in order to evade the authorities, a man who is dying of a very painful disease is given Trevor’s body—and life—to live in until the time of his death . . . for free. The poor bastard, who was a stock boy at a Wal-Mart-ish store, is living Trevor’s life as Trevor should have. But now Trevor wants his old life back . . . This tale of identity is really getting heated up. Very obviously, the real Trevor is a piece of shit, and no one could possibly root for him, but he’s a resourceful piece of shit. Looks like this one will be wrapped up with next issue.

STARLIGHT #1: This book has a special place in my heart because it tackles one of my favorite subjects. Take an old fashioned pulp hero and take a look at him in his old age. I wrote a story on the subject called “Fade Away,” which was published in THE REALM BEYOND (buy it here!). My story was about a pulp hero who, as an old man, encounters the bones of one of the monsters he vanquished at the Field Museum. Mark Millar’s new book is about a pulp hero, but no one knows he was a pulp hero. (Or he’s got a screw loose. It’s hard to tell.) Once upon a time, he got sucked into a wormhole and found himself in another world, where he saves the people from a tyrant. Then, he comes back home and lives the life of a regular guy. Now he’s an old man who just lost his wife to breast cancer. The only family he has left are his sons, and they’ve got their own lives to live. He’s trying to make the most of his old age, but then a reminder of his past comes back to haunt him. Is he going to end up back in a pulp adventure? I don’t know, but I’m fucking excited to see where this goes. Some of these layouts are amazing, juxtaposing his adventurous youth with his mundane life as an old man. Great stuff from Goran Parlov, who also worked with Garth Ennis on his PUNISHER Max series and one of the greatest war miniseries ever written, FURY: MY WAR GONE BY.

Monday, March 3, 2014


According to the website, “Forced Viewing is an irreverent collaborative blog focusing on horror in film and on television. Reviews of classic and contemporary horror movies are published Monday through Friday; plus reviews of horror on television and in other media; interviews; convention and event coverage; a monthly podcast; and more.” There are quite a few reviewers on the site, including myself, but the core has been and always will be, Jori, Lackey and the Drudgeon. True to form, there is only one question this week, but there are three answers, as you will see below.

ME: Forced Viewing is a great site to go to for irreverent reviews, and it has drawn quite a bit of attention from the indie filmmakers you discuss. It brings little money, but it does bring some recognition. What moves you to make your voices be heard?

LACKEY: I like to think of Forced Viewing as my half-a-million-word-long writing sample for RUE MORGUE. All I need to know is who to send it to . . .

JORI: I was originally dragged into this kicking and screaming by Drudgie. I never even considered that I had something to say. Discovering good movies keeps me going. We all lament the death of horror, but the idea that just because big Hollywood productions aren’t churning out the quality we want is very narrow minded. I keep going because I want to remind everyone (including myself) that there is so much horror left to be enjoyed, you just have to search a bit deeper.

THE DRUDGEON: Mainly it started when I read a few things, like Roger Ebert reviews where he doesn’t seem to give the movie a chance just because it’s horror and when Joss Whedon talked about why he made BUFFY and talked about stuff that (pretty much) never happens in horror. So now I finally have my say and for me it was a way for me to complain about the movies that always seem to get awards and praise movies that are overlooked. I love the indie scene and most of the time there is some great stuff there. But now it’s more about . . . well the same thing, but for me it’s finally come full circle. I loved watching Svengoolie as a kid and now I’m actually trying to do the same thing by going into making videos.

Forced Viewing can be found here. They are open to recommendations as to what to watch and review next. If you have a short horror film you would like them to feature on their Blood on the Net feature, please let them know. And keep an eye out for the Drudgeon Dungeon, a vlog now available on theirYouTube channel.