LOOKING FOR A COOL GRAPHIC NOVEL? WELL LOOK NO FURTHER THAN “STAY ALIVE” BY JAMES C. HARBERSON AND COMPANY!

STAY ALIVE
Harberson/Wildwood/Baskerville
Markosia Enterprises
January 20, 2020
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Hello to one and all from your old pal Skull! Today we have something that we don’t get a lot of here in the Skullcave, a graphic novel. Not only is Stay Alive a graphic novel, but it is one that combines Horror, Crime, Sex, and Showbiz into one vibrant and tasty package. YUM! If you’re not a fan of those things and don’t much care to laugh at the society we’ve become, then I’d recommend that you get the hell out of here now. Everyone else, come along and take a peek at what the twisted trio of James C. Harberson III (author) , Mackie Wildwood (author), and Stephen Baskerville (artist) have created for your viewing pleasure.

I’m gonna do my best not to toss any spoilers in, but there’s a lot of detail and action going on here and I want to give you a solid sight line of the big picture. So hold tight, and concentrate to get what I’m spinning. There is a private sector funded assassination group called UKILL and what they do is hunt down and kill creepers, pedophiles, and rich stars who indulge in animal cruelty for fun and profit. The way they decide who to kill next is by taking a public poll of their viewers. Once the numbers are in, it’s time to set about taking out whoever is chosen. As UKILL puts it. “Death Does Discriminate!” These are folks who most of us wouldn’t mind having gruesome deaths after all the hell they’ve put their victims through.

That is until Jane Morgan, a failing movie starlet with a checkered past, decides to take her agent’s advice and go on an opposing show called STAY ALIVE in which she’ll try to avoid being killed by UKILL. All the action will be followed 24/7 by TV cameras and blasted all over social media. While Jane is kind of sexy naked, she doesn’t spend a lot of time using her brains, so this could be a very short show indeed. Except the STAY ALIVE crew have stacked the deck heavily in Jane’s favor. There’s all kinds of professional help, including one Moses Rabkin, bodyguard and soldier of fortune extraordinaire. This guy has amazing instincts and is a powerful ally to have on your side. But keeping Jane alive isn’t going to be a cakewalk…

UKILL is huge and has its hands inevery part of our society all the way up to the good old FBI. Plus, it’s a monster many people take into their lives willingly because they believe in the cause, or maybe just like seeing folks die in imaginatively gruesome ways. This isn’t just a couple of tough guys who talk funny offing people. Plus, there’s a zany wildcard that UKILL is more than happy to spring from the secure mental health facility where he’s been cooling his heels and focusing on his hatred for none other than Jane Morgan. Kenyon Kraft is crazy as they come, but he’s also crazy smart about how to kill people violently, painfully, and with plenty of blood splatter. Just having this wackjob after you would be reason enough to be scared, but when he’s assisted by a huge organization, terror is too small a word.

Rating? We’re talking 5 STARS here folks! The action moves fast and dialogue is funny in the snarky way that only horror can produce. There are many small jokes included in the big picture and quite a few jabs at stereotypes. Buccaneer Magazine being featured here is a tip of the hat to Stephen King who sold a lot of stories to men’s magazines in his early days. If you haven’t guessed by now, this graphic novel is for mature audiences. STAY ALIVE’S great characters and multiple storylines rocket along all the way to the finish line. Maybe if we’re lucky, there’ll be a sequel in the works! Thanks for checking out Damaged Skull Writer & Reviewer’s review of Markosia Enterprise’s graphic novel STAY ALIVE! Special thanks to James C. Harberson III for his time and help with this review. Be sure to check out his great collection of short horror, A Disgusting Supermarket of Death, which is also currently available from your favorite booksellers and highly recommended by this reviewer in a previous post. Need more info? Then check out Markosia at www.markosia.com and James C Harberson III at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19908137.Jim_Harberson

“RELEASED” FROM NO BAD BOOKS PRESS WILL BE COMING YOUR WAY SOON AND BRINGING “HELL TO THE HOLLER” WHEN IT DOES!

Hello again fellow horror writers and readers! I always enjoy sharing good news, so let me tell you a bit about this new short horror story anthology from No Bad Books Press. The title is “RELEASED” and the overall theme is things escaping into the world that probably shouldn’t have. Not only do I like the concept, but I’m proud to be contributing my short horror story “Hell To The Holler” to this cool project. I’m also a big fan of this amazing cover! It really gives readers a good visual representation of what’s inside. Make sure to keep an eye out for “RELEASED” from No Bad Books Press! Want more information? See what co-founders S. Faxon & Theresa Halvorsen are up to by visiting them at http://www.nobadbookspress.com

PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE ACCEPTANCE OF FOUR OF MY POEMS INTO THE “BEAUTIFUL TRAGEDIES 2” ANTHOLOGY COMING SOON FROM HELLBOUND BOOKS!

I enjoy writing all kinds of poetry, but there’ll always be a large part of my heart dedicated to the dark, speculative, and horror forms. Life itself is often a big horror movie. Maybe it’s a bit more subtle, and there aren’t clowns with chainsaws running through your living room. But how about getting stuck on the highway at two in morning, or having to slip out the backdoor of your girlfriend’s place because there’s a man out front who wants to introduce you to his pals, Smith & Wesson? To everyone who married their high school sweetheart and lived happily ever after, kudos! For the majority of the world, love hurts, maims, and sometimes kills. People commit suicide because their hearts are broken. Beauty is often only skin deep and it’s easier than one might think to find yourself trapped in a real bad spot. I think “Beautiful Tragedies 2” is going to be a book that slices you to the bone but also offers a solace to those in dark places. Damaged Skull Writer will keep you posted on this book’s progress and let you know when it hits bookstores. Until then…be careful out there. Unless you enjoy pain, then by all means carry on!

“The Jogger”

If you haven’t had a chance to read this awesome story by Jenny Maloney, here’s another chance to give it a whirl. THE JOGGER is interesting, disturbing, and very real feeling. Why do joggers always seem to be the ones to find those murdered off the beaten path?

Other Worlds, and This

Exciting news! My short story “The Jogger” is now up at All Worlds Wayfarer.

Many moons ago, Ray Bradbury wrote a story where he explored the idea that the looky-loos at all accidents were actually the same people every time.

Well, you know how it always seems like joggers find the bodies? (As one friend put it, it’s how all Law & Orders start.) I wanted to explore the idea that it was always the same jogger who found the bodies, inspired by Bradbury’s idea.

Thanks so much to the team at All Worlds Wayfarer. I appreciate your time, your effort, and your dedication to presenting creative work in such a beautiful format.

You can read the result now. I hope you enjoy it.

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Happy Pride Month! Currently Reading “VINTAGE” by Steve Berman To Celebrate!

Hello horror lovers who also agree that “Love is Love!” Skull’s next read is a special edition of Steve Berman’s haunting classic “VINTAGE.” This beautiful book is from Lethe Press, a cool publisher that focuses on work by LGTBQ writers. They’ve pulled out all the stops for this Lucky Thirteenth Anniversary Edition and even included a foreword by New York Times bestselling author, Holly Black. Damaged Skull Writer & Reviewer has always been a safe space and will remain one for as long as I’m alive. We’re here to celebrate what we have in common, not to hate on anyone for living differently than we do. Review coming soon!

“SEVEN EXHUMATIONS” BY JAMES G. CARLSON AND TERROR TRACT PUBLISHING IS A GREAT READ FOR ALL FANS OF SPECULATIVE FICTION!

Seven Exhumations
James G. Carlson
January 8, 2021
Terror Tract Publishing
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Hello Horror Fiends! Welcome once again to the Skullcave, home of Damaged Skull Reviewer. Your old pal Skull has something special to share with you today-a collection of short horror fiction by Pennsylvania based speculative fiction writer, James G. Carlson. Published by Terror Tract, Seven Exhumations is way above the average slash and splash version of horror that many people have come to dread. In fact, this collection contains very little gore and is all the better for it. There’s still plenty of chills and lots of things that make you wonder if something similar could happen to you.

But enough pre-game chatter, let’s open that handsome cover-which just happens to be an artist’s rendering of the very first story, “Grim.” That’s brothers, Jack and Daniel frozen in their tracks at the sight of the story’s namesake. Carlson has written a story that mixes ancient evil and the modern day with satisfying results. Exploring abandoned properties isn’t anything new, but now there are videos all over social media of people doing it that pretty much destroy the magic. Despite their cameras and club shirts, most old house explorer groups just find dust bunnies and old clothes. Daniel and Jack do it the old-fashioned way, with just a lighter to illuminate the dark places. They soon meet the strange lifeforce of the house, but things go sour pretty fast. A couple of uninvited school bullies barge into the mix at just the wrong time and the house reveals some secrets to Daniel. Will Grim get his way or is there a chance to escape?

Insatiable is about a man who never feels satisfied, despite all the sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. It’s cool and all, but he just can’t fill the void. Then a friend of his lets him in on a secret, He’s a demon and she’s an angel named Temperance of all things. After a night to remember, they have big choices to make.

Major Arcana: The Devil Reversed is about a man named Gerald who finds a unique way to escape from hell. But now he needs a body to experience life in the modern day, which brings the question: Can a mortal actually enjoy being possessed? Maybe the most terrifying part of this story is the woman who shows up near the end looking for Gerald. The Devil is a fearsome entity, but his accountant is on a whole different level of creepiness.

It’s Always Night Underground As a former mischievous teenager, this one hit me like a ruler across the knuckles. WHAP! When three bored teens decide to party in a dangerous cave on the outskirts of town, it seems like a pretty cool deal. That’s until they find a note from a neighbor girl who’s gone missing. The note is chilling enough, but her mention of an evil creature that guards the cave entrance sends every iota of fun packing, leaving only fear behind. This story reminds of all the stupid shit I did with friends back when we were “invincible.”

Micah And The Hellmouth. Intense tale about the people polite society ignores unless their kid becomes one. Then it’s just to condemn drugs and wave their silver canes about. None of that actually helps the addicts or saves relationships. All the hoo-hah about the war on prescription drugs is just so much news fodder. Most serious junkies are not purchasing their drugs from pharmacies, they get their stuff from a guy named “Oatmeal.” But love is love and to lose it, is to lose everything as Micah finds out. He’s also the reason for the hellmouth in his basement and why the Devil’s accountant is sitting next to it. My favorite quote in the book is this: “To exist is to suffer, whether alive or dead. No way around it. But it is to be hoped that our suffering served a purpose, had some meaning. It is to be hoped that when we fall, we do so gladly.”

Interview On Amen Alley The final story in this book is an apocalyptic dystopia about the future of “Old City” Philadelphia, PA. It contains strong fantasy elements and the often unrealized truth that modern technology cannot always replace the ancient things. Modern day humanity relies far too much on electronic help instead of honing real life skills. But when the future may only be a few hours away, you better keep learning and stay strong. All the stories in Seven Exhumations are great. But for me, this piece is the diamond. Thanks to Carlson’s writing skills, you can feel this story.

So, what about the million-dollar question: How did Damaged Skull rate this collection of James G. Carlson’s work? I rate it FIVE BIG STARS! This is some really groovy stuff that lovers of all things speculative are sure to enjoy. Seven Exhumations has also landed the coveted facing outward spot on the Skullcave’s “Wall of Fame!” James G. Carlson is a great writer who brings new material to the table and gives us lots to think about while avoiding the pitfalls of overdoing it. He presents a nice balance of reality and fantasy in his stories that puts readers right in the action. No flat spots, just pure imagination power at work. Plus, this is a release from Terror Tract, and they only publish good stuff. So do yourself a favor and grab a copy of Seven Exhumations your favorite bookseller today.

Thanks again for checking out another review from your old pal, Skull! For more information check out https://terrortract.net     

SOON TO BE RELEASED FROM GREY MATTER PRESS, “ROOSTER” BY JOHN C. FOSTER IS GOING TO BE ONE HELL OF A WILD RIDE!

Hello everyone, it’s your old pal Skull sharing some exciting news. Thanks to Grey Matter Press, I’m getting a peek at John C. Foster’s upcoming release Rooster, which be released on July 20, 2021.Many of you are already familiar with his work Mister White and previous releases from Perpetual Motion Machine Press. For those fans of crime fiction and horror who aren’t familiar with John C. Foster and Grey Matter Press, you need to change that right now! In just the first few chapters of this book, I’ve been fiercely yanked into the dark underworld that exists all around us, whether we can see it or not. Rooster is a tough guy who’s almost ghost-like in visibility, but harder than brass knuckles to the face. This novel moves fast and I think it’s going to sell fast, so be sure to order a copy soon from your favorite bookseller or head on over to www.greymatterpress.com and/or www.johnfosterfiction.com for more information. Tell them that Damaged Skull Reviewer sent you! Please follow my blog and stay tuned for the review, coming your way soon.

CURRENTLY ENJOYING THE SHORT HORROR COLLECTION “SEVEN EXHUMATIONS” BY JAMES G. CARLSON AND TERROR TRACT. REVIEW COMING SOON!

Hello friends! It’s your old pal Skull again with some great news. Author James G. Carlson has sent this fine collection of his short horror fiction to the Skullcave and it looks like my little friend, Skellicat, has taken a liking to it. We’re currently working on the review write up and it should be live in 5 days or less if hell doesn’t freeze over and the creek don’t rise.

Speaking of great things, check out that handsome typewriter that SEVEN EXHUMATIONS is resting on. Fans of the great Richard Chizmar might recognize this Remington Quiet-Riter as being just like the one he posted on his Twitter account a while back. Kind of cool, right? The big difference between our typewriters is that mine is still in daily use while Richard’s is under a pile of shoes in his closet-a sweet memory of pounding those keys on the way to his current status in the writing world, something we all aspire to. Just a fun aside there, but if you like Richard Chizmar’s work, there’s a pretty good chance you will also dig what James G. Carlson is doing, so check him out!

Thanks for visiting Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer. See you soon!

PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THAT MY CREATIVE NONFICTION PIECE “FLEA MARKET SPECIAL” IS INCLUDED IN ISSUE 14 OF AJI MAGAZINE!

It’s always nice to have good news to share on a Friday and this is very good news for me because I’m beginning to get noticed as a cross-genre writer and poet. Hopefully this will open up work in more markets and I’m planning to start an additional blog which will be more about poetry and literary stories, including nonfiction. Neither is better than the other, and I’m still writing both, but cramming everything together isn’t working very well. Here’s to better visibility and less confusion in the future!

“Flea Market Special” can be read for free by going to http://www.ajimagazine.com and downloading the Pdf. It’s a true story about when I spent weekends trying to sell the remains of our failed business and assorted stuff. But, I’m just a small part of this excellent collection which contains really cool art, poetry, and prose. They are also currently taking submissions, should you wish to get some good exposure for your work. The editors do an excellent job and are super friendly. Check it out and let me know what you think!

“THE VIEW MASTER” WILL MAKE YOU LOOK AT YOUR FAVORITE CHILDHOOD TOYS IN A WHOLE DIFFERENT WAY

The View Master
Rebecca Rowland & Michael Aloisi
April 21, 2021
Marred Press
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Howdy friends, it’s time for a quick review from your pal Skull. Today’s topic is the recently released The View Master a short story of creeping terror co-authored by Rebecca Rowland and Michael Aloisi. The title by itself sounds harmless, maybe even a bit welcoming. I mean many of us grew up with some version of The View Master toy. Maybe it was brand new, handed down, or purchased at a rummage sale…but it was solid gold to kids. That’s what pops into Jack’s head when he spies the toy while doing an inspection of his Mom’s attic with sister Jill. They’re adults now and don’t really need any kids’ toys but Jack takes The View Master home for an evening of pleasant retro enjoyment. Well, that’s the plan anyway. What actually happens is a totally different ballgame. Who knew toys could be so creepy? The View Master delivers pictures and a story, but it’s not one that Jack wants to know the ending of! This 23 page read, that’s currently available on Amazon Kindle, would be a great way to spend one’s lunchtime. And, at 99 cents, it’s cheaper than an iced coffee! Damaged Skull Reviewer rates The View Master by Rebecca Rowland and Michael Aloisi FIVE STARS. Check it out!

Want more info? Go to:

www.RowlandBooks.com or visit Rebecca at www.Slasher@RebeccaRowland.com

Visit Michael Aloisi at: www.AuthorMike.com

Thanks for stopping by the Skullcave. We look forward to seizing, er I meant seeing you real soon.