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Friday, April 03, 2009

News Release: Michael Vance's Weird Horror Tales

The reviews are pouring in on Weird Horror Tales, the recently published anthology of thirteen horror, science-fiction, fantasy, and mainstream short stories set in Light’s End, Maine. It is written by author Michael Vance.

Tim Walters wrote: Among my favorites is "Wishful Thinking," which opens, appropriately, on Halloween night and focuses on the frightening legend of Sara Lagle, also known as the Witch of Light's End. "Fall Guy" is about the day Light's End was visited by the Amazing Man who jumps off buildings. The tale effectively uses comic book imagery and allusions, which is not surprising since Michael Vance has a longstanding connection with and affection for the comics medium.
He continues: At times Vance's wistful, evocative style is reminiscent of Ray Bradbury's fiction, while the often horrific nature of the series recalls the work of writers like H.P. Lovecraft and Robert Bloch.
Daniel Weaver adds his own opinion: Vance create a vivid scene that transplants the reader into a very specific time and place. There are plenty of unsettling images (bones, the monster, etc) as well as concepts (human sacrifice, cannibalism, etc). Allowing his main character to be partially swallowed by such a horrific creation certainly projects horrific imagery. As always, his word choices paint vivid pictures and bring to life unique characters.

Cover artist Keith Birdsong painted the cover for Weird Horror Tales, and interior illustrations are by artist Earl Geier who is best known for his horror, fantasy and science fiction artwork

The publisher of Weird Horror Tales is Cornerstone Book Publishers. Airship 27 packaged the anthology. For more information on Airship 27, go to

Profanity in Comics, or “Ah, Grow Up, Will Ya?”

Allow me pose a pointed question: Have you ever refused to buy a comic book because it lacked the proper amount of profanity? I didn’t think so. I’ve never heard that complaint, in over 30 years of reading comics, and 16 years patronizing the same comics shop in Tulsa.

You’ve probably guessed already that I’m one of those “comics purists,” as I call us. We are those ridiculously puerile fans who simply refuse to “grow up” and realize that using profanity is simply the way of the world, nowadays. “Just shut the *&%! up and accept it” some may say. Well, I can’t. There are too many examples of well-done, best-selling comics stories out there that don’t employ such language.

Perhaps you’ve sensed my frustration, and wonder what the catalyst was for this little tirade. (Then again, maybe you haven’t, and don’t care. Feel free to keep surfing.) It happened when I read Ex Machina: The First Hundred Days, a graphic novel from Wildstorm. It’s one of those rare works in comics that is intelligent enough to be compared with anything currently seen in fiction. However, it also has what I consider a huge flaw; language for which many-a-child has tasted a bar of soap. The f-word is a particular favorite.

I’ll be honest. I don’t understand the need for comics to mirror society in this way. I mean, we’re talking about fiction, here. Superhero fiction, at that, in the case of Ex Machina. Regardless of the political intrigue, main character Mitchell Hundred still controls all types of machinery with his mind, and has a past that includes strapping a jet-pack onto his back and playing hero. Would readers really have to suspend disbelief any more if there was no "potty language"? Additionally, here we are smack dab in the middle of a medium of which it can still be said has a desperate need for more new readers, despite the presence of graphic novels and comics digests in bookstores, and it almost seems an attempt is being made to alienate those who are uncomfortable with such language and don’t use it on a daily basis...or even at all.

An Associated Press - Ipsos poll conducted in March of 2006 found that “62 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds acknowledged swearing in conversation at least a few times a week, compared to 39 percent of those 35 and older.” My question is whether or not that means 38 percent of younger comics fans, and 61 percent of those 35 and older are actually offended enough to avoid buying comic books with frequent profanity. And, before you say “No way!” through your hat, find a poll conducted within the comics community to support your view. I don’t know of one. Or by all means, conduct one. (Just make sure it’s scientific.) It might be worth it to some of the publishers in order to find out if they are shooting themselves in the foot where sales are concerned, especially considering that two thirds of those polled said that it bothered them when people used profanity.

So, ultimately, what’s my point? Just this: There is little to no chance anyone is going to be offended by a great story lacking profanity - they’ll simply buy it. It is much more likely that some people WILL be offended by the same story peppered with it. They probably WON’T buy it. Is it really worth it to a publisher to sacrifice sales for their books to contain “adult” language?

And, for those who would argue creative license, I would simply ask “What’s creative about profanity?” It’s simply copied. It takes no creative energy and adds no depth to a character. And as far as it being adult, it can probably be heard on every elementary playground in the country.

Seems to me, if comics really want to grow up, they’ll clean up.

Mark Allen