George A. Romero passed away this last Sunday. My facebook feed is filled with tributes. I must belong to all the right "groups," otherwise it would be nothing but cat pictures and histrionic parroting about "Russian collusion" and whatnot. I'm guessing Romero meant a lot of things to a lot of people. He absolutely transformed horror cinema. That would be enough to make him a legend. But he did so on his own, without any blessings from the Overlords of Hollywood, the suits and ties in the movie business who think they get to decide what will and won't be produced. This spirit of independence, to me, is Romero's most important contribution. As a writer who has been completely shunned by the mainstream publishing industry, I've had to go the independent route and it's not easy at all. Easy is selling out. Easy is "giving the people what they want." The difference between the corporate media and truly independent artists is the artists understand what the people want and what the people need are two different things. In 1968, the people may have wanted more pandering drivel like Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, but Romero gave them what they needed. Unlike a mainstream product, Night of the Living Dead wasn't made to be, ah, consumed over a weekend or two and then relegated to secondary markets. It took a while to build its steam and eventually became what the mainstream calls "a cult classic." That's their way of saying, "Gee, we really missed the fucking boat on that one!" In this day and age, when the corporate media cranks out nothing but one pandering, cloned product after another, that spirit of independence is more important than ever. The best thing we can do to honor the work and legacy of George A. Romero is to continue giving the public what it needs, even if it infuriates our corporate overlords.
And then, of course, when we're dead, we can come back to life and feast on our corporate overlords' guts!
So I declared summer, 2017, the Summer of Horror at Drive-in Radio on KBGA. I spent the first month talking about the Golden Age of the Slasher Film. All four episodes are now archived at YouTube for your listening pleasure:
This month I'll be talking about George A. Romero, Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper, and John Carpenter.
If you want to tune in live, the show airs on KBGA Missoula, 89.9 FM, available for streaming here, on Tuesday nights from 10PM to Midnight, Mountain Standard Time (That's midnight on the East coast and 9PM on the West coast).
If you ever hear anything on the show your disagree with or want to discuss further, feel free to do so in the comments section here. Just don't write anything stupid!
So just over a year ago I started writing horror stories (I should say I RESUMED writing horror stories since I wrote horror stories when I was a kid, before college poisoned me with idiotic aspirations to become an "intellectual") and a few have finally gotten published. The latest, "EMUQ," can be found in the new issue of Massacre Magazine. Like all my horror stories, it takes place in the Lake County region of Indiana in one of several towns I've invented. It's only 99 cents on your futuristic kindle device. Enjoy!
And if you want to read some more horror by Mr. Cizak, be sure to check out "Creepy" at Beat to a Pulp and "Atomic Fuel" in the latest issue of the outstanding Digest Enthusiast.
In case you missed it on my other social media advertising devices, I host a radio program on Tuesday nights called DRIVE-IN RADIO. It's a mix of me saying outrageous things about b-movies and various strains of 'billy' music--psychobilly, rockabilly, hellbilly, etc.
For an example of outrageous things I say, in the STAR WARS show I declared only the first Star Wars movie worth watching. Yes, I dismissed even THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Unfortunately, somehow I managed to lose that show.
If you want to listen live, you can tune in on Tuesday nights from 10 to Midnight (Mountain time, which seems to be the same as Central Time) at KBGA.ORG. If, by chance, you are in the Missoula area, you can listen on your radio at 89.9 FM. I log the songs played at Spinitron, where you can also chat with me during the show.
Mark your calendar and make your travel plans! On June 21, 2017, at 7PM, I'll be reading from DOWN ON THE STREET at Shakespeare and Co. in Missoula, MT. Sean McDaniel will be reading from his book CRIMINAL ZOO. Be there for the invasion of the Great Northwest!
So let me take a break from pushing PULP MODERN Vol. 2 No. 1 to tell you about THE DIGEST ENTHUSIAST #6. I was interviewed for a previous issue of the journal to talk about PULP MODERN. This happened just as I had lost all faith in the reading public's interest in TRULY independent publishing (and I gotta' say, it hasn't picked up all that much; I'm editing PULP MODERN now for the sheer sake of providing an alternative to the crappy corporate digests and touchy-feely boring-ass "literary" digests out there).
ANYWAY, earlier this year, when I started getting the itch to produce more PULP MODERN issues, I happened to be flipping through one of my contributor copies of the THE DIGEST ENTHUSIAST. I realized the editor, Richard Krauss, seemed to know a whole hell of a lot more about putting together a professional-looking journal than I ever did. I wanted to see some of my fiction in a future issue of THE DIGEST ENTHUSIAST. I contacted Richard, sent him a story, and he said he liked it and would run it in the next issue. That's how the conversation about PULP MODERN started. The rest, for those of you with the money and good taste to purchase the latest issue know, is history.
SO, let me implore you to buy and read the latest issue of THE DIGEST ENTHUSIAST. Not only will you get to read a fun story of mine about conformity ("Atomic Fuel"), you will get to see why I asked Richard Krauss to join the PULP MODERN crusade. THE DIGEST ENTHUSIAST is the best of its kind. No debate about it. Buy it, read it, and, of course, as always, review it on Amazon and help the squares get hip to the independent scene.
Dear non-writer friends, family, lovers, and enemies:
I recently re-launched PULP MODERN, a fiction journal filled with short stories by some great, independent writers from around the world. I’ve teamed up with Richard Krauss, who also produces an equally impressive journal called THE DIGEST ENTHUSIAST. Richard’s contribution has lifted PULP MODERN above the ranks of the thousands of independent journals out there by giving it a very professional look. The journal has been out for a week and, frankly, I’m very disappointed with the sales figures thus far. To be clear, this is not a profit-seeking venture. This is something I do to help my fellow writers by providing a non-corporate-influenced market they can send their work to. Sales figures, to me, represent how well the journal is read. Everyone involved is not doing this to pat themselves on the back, they are doing this to bring YOU, non-writer readers, something different from the vanilla, stale fiction journals you see on the stands at Barnes and Noble and other mainstream booksellers. You see, about thirty years ago, corporations started buying all the entertainment outlets that had any influence with the masses in effort to promote a singular, narrow-minded point of view. That’s why today, television, movies, and books and magazines are bland and uninteresting. We’re trying to provide an alternative to this neutered narrative the corporations want everyone to buy into. We can’t accomplish this without your help, though. Most of my friends, family, lovers, and enemies claim they like and support independent art. When I look at the sales figures for PULP MODERN, however, I know most of those who say they support it aren’t actually doing it.
Here’s what we need you to do:
1. Buy the journal. The journal is available in print for those of you who like to hold books in your hands, and in digital form for those of you who like to read on a kindle or similar such device. The price of the print journal is as low as I can go without the printer charging me extra for printing the book. Now, I understand Oprah doesn’t promote PULP MODERN. Nobody on the E! channel talks about PULP MODERN. The wonderful women on The View never discuss this journal. You probably think that means the journal is defective. No. It means it’s independent of any and all corporate influence. It means you’ll be reading fiction that hasn’t been watered-down to be “polite” or “politically correct.” That means you’re reading a REAL artist’s work. As I said, Richard Krauss has made sure this journal looks professional, so you can be seen in public with a copy of PULP MODERN and people won’t think you’re part of some cult or involved in some other unsavory activity. Reading a truly independent fiction journal won’t give you kooties or raise your property taxes. You will never be accused of being a communist or a “terrorist” by a House on UnAmerican Activities for reading PULP MODERN. This is not an example of “self-publishing,” so you don’t have to worry about the old fashioned stigma associated with self-publishing. You will be entertained, you will be enlightened, and you will be putting your money where your mouth is when it comes to supporting independent art.
2. Post a review at Amazon. Once you’ve made the great leap into the New Frontier and purchased and read (and thoroughly enjoyed) PULP MODERN, we need you to go to Amazon and post a review. Amazon promotes books according to the number of reviews a book has received. The first level starts with 25 reviews. This is very difficult for an independent journal to achieve, so we need ALL of you to do this. Whether you loved the journal or hated it, PLEASE take the time to post your thoughts at Amazon.
3. In order to encourage all my non-writer friends, family, lovers, and enemies to participate in this important endeavor, I will put the names of the first 25 people to review the journal into a hat and draw three to receive prizes. These prizes will be out-of-print books that are very hard to get now.
I thank you for your participation and hope that you will share this post with your friends, family, lovers, and enemies.
Pulp Modern vanished for a year because I felt the efforts of myself and the writers were not appreciated. Let's make sure this resurrection is successful. Please purchase a copy, read it, and review it at Amazon. The goal is to get fiction to a broad audience that has not been pre-approved and sterilized by corporate-owned publications (fake fiction! fake fiction!). THIS is the revolution. It's now or never...
Also -- Pulp Modern makes its triumphant return on Tuesday, May 9.
Finally -- check out my radio program DRIVE-IN RADIO on KBGA 89.9 FM Missoula, Friday nights at midnight (MST). I will begin posting archived shows on youtube in the next few days. I talk about b-pictures and play psychobilly and rockabilly music.
In effort to make sure things are done better than before, I am going to open submissions for Pulp Modern in a very orderly fashion so I don't break my back reading submissions. The first submission window will open March 1, 2017, and end March 10, 2017. Depending on the quality of the submissions received, there will either be no more submission windows before the first issue is produced, or I will open another one in a month or so in attempts to find more quality submissions. What that means is, prepare your best work for that first window, because that may be the only one until we start work on the second issue. There is also a new email address for submissions:
therealpulpmodern (at) gmail (dot) com
Also, very important: Pulp Modern once again will publish crime, horror, fantasy, science fiction, and westerns.
After some discussion with Richard Krauss, who edits the outstanding Digital Digest Enthusiast, I am bringing back Pulp Modern way, way ahead of schedule. I'm afraid it won't be quite what I had suggested a few weeks ago, but I've decided it's more important to have Pulp Modern available as a market for writers than it is to nourish my nostalgia for the 1930s magazine market. I still will not be able to pay what I would like to, but I will enact a ten dollars per story flat rate that I will be paying out of my own pocket. Richard Krauss is going to help with the layout and other aspects to make sure this is the best, most professionally-presented independent journal possible while I focus on making sure the best possible stories are published. As I know more, I will post here, at twitter, and facebook.
Abnormal Man is one of those books—it’s going to take you
places you would never voluntarily go. But you’ll go along for the ride,
because Grant Jerkins gives you little choice. Written in the second-person
present tense, Grant implicates the reader in the thoughts and actions of his
three main characters, forces empathy with people you normally hope the law will
catch up with and either lock them away for good.
The book is about Billy, a teenager who gets a sexual thrill
from fire. Circumstances put him on the road with Frank, an older, violent,
even more troubled character. They end up at a trailer with Chandler, a much
older, much more twisted individual who deals in dope and mild child
pornography (if there is such a thing). From that description, the average
person no doubt feels compelled to turn away. But Jerkins’ writing chops are
on-point—just enough description to put you in the time and place of the
action. Observations are made that all people, whether they’re suffering similar
psychosis to the characters or consider themselves “normal,” have made (the
most obvious being the impression young Billy has of the moon, and how he
carries that impression with him throughout the book).
This is not always an easy book to read. Squeamish,
unimaginative (and I would argue, people devoid of genuine empathy) readers
might toss it out early on, excusing their lack of empathy by saying, “I don’t
like these characters.” But for the reader interested in understanding minds
unlike their own, it does what great books are supposed to do—it drops you
right in the shoes of strangers and allows you to think about society’s
“undesirables” in ways more complex than simple black and white
generalizations. I couldn’t help but think of Lolita as I read it, and how that
book no doubt shocked readers when it was first published. Abnormal Man should
shock the status quo, but it should also be elevated to the same critical
status as Nabokov’s book.
(Abnormal Man was the first publication from ABC Group Documentation, who will be publishing my novella Down on the Street in a few months)
So the first story in the Lake County mythology I'm putting together has been published at Beat to a Pulp. It's called "Creepy" and takes on what I think of the over-use of that particular word. Enjoy!