Once upon a midnight dreary, back in the day, I considered myself a horror writer. For about two years, it was the genre that I found most engaging and interesting. And it started with the comic book, PREACHER.
Friends have heard me tell tale of how I got hooked on Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s horror-western-fantasy comic series. After finishing my MA, I had some extra dough and hit the local comic shop. I asked what was a cool title for folks who wanted to return to comics. Adam Pottier at the local shop (before he started running the way cooler 4-Colour, 8-Bit comic and game store), suggested PREACHER. I bought the first book and Adam said “Great, see you tomorrow.”
“Uh, what? Why?”
“You’re going to finish that book and want to read the rest of the series, fast.”
“No way! These things cost twenty bucks a pop!”
But the very next day, I bought ALL the remaining PREACHER titles and read them in about three days. I’ve never had more fun reading comics. The story, the dialog, the wild action and violence, the humour and pathos, and the characters . . . it was just what Doc Ridler ordered!
And who wrote the introduction to that first volume? JOE R. LANSDALE hisownself. I loved his voice, his style, so when it said he was the author of a zillion other things, I quickly bought THE DRIVE IN I & II, and WRITER OF THE PURPLE RAGE. I loved those so much, I hunted for more modern horror titles. Soon, I was introduced to Richard Laymon, Gary Braunbeck, Tim Waggoner, Robert McCammon, Brian Keene, and more. I started writing more horror, even joined the HWA for a blip, met lots of awesome folks like Greg Lamberson, Nick Kaufman, Marcy and G Italiano, Seph Giron, Gemma Files, Richard Gavin, Steve LeClerc, and the infamous Mike Kelly. Lots of great people and great work being done.
But there was also a lot of junk that didn’t catch fire with my imagination. Soon, I noticed a lot of blurbs were dead wrong in their mad praise. And it became clear that Sturgeon’s law was as true for horror than for any other genre. I read a bunch of novels that were mediocre. Some were so bad I couldn’t finish them. The HWA was in flux and I found it unsatisfying (I hear it’s better now). And I realized horror wasn’t what I wanted to write so much as one part of my voice, like noir and crime and dark fantasy and about a few zillion other things.
But reading CRUCIFIED DREAMS made me reflect back on that time when I couldn’t wait to get a new horror book, being jazzed to find a new and different voice in the dark genre, and how much I loved those days. Ah, nothing so tedius as another man’s nostalgia!