Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Oliver Bixby, Necromancer

Illustration done by John Picacio for Millipede Press's art book  Artists Inspired By H.P. Lovecraft

There was no rhyme or reason for Oliver Bixby to ever begin to pursue the arcane arts of necromancy. His New-England born parents had roots extending all the way back to the Mayflower era and only immigrated to the Caicos Islands in the Caribbean after the conclusion of the American Revolution, as the British army and colonial Loyalists were forced out of the burgeoning new country. Luckily for the young Bixby his father, Frederick Bixby, the sole earner in the family had a preternatural ability for business and within a few years had acquired some land and began a small but profitable business exporting cotton to England’s faraway colonies. Over time, Frederick acquired more and more land and in turn his increased wealth allowed him to purchase newly arrived Africans as cheap labor to work his fields. By the time Ollie was born the Bixby estate had 100 slaves and expanded to the size of three plantations. Ollie’s mother, Abigail, was a unique woman, foregoing the teachings of the church and the rigid rules which bound women to their husbands, fathers, and sons, Abigail was quite the lone wolf. Her behavior, to say the least, would have driven most men to drink but Frederick loved his wife and never struck or argued with her. All in all, young Oliver had quite an ordinary life, relatively speaking.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Staring into the Abyss: An Appreciation of the Work of H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft portrait by Sean Phillips

In our hyper modern age where science fact and fiction meld to combine into some odd amalgam of the banal and the fantastic it is quite easy to mock earlier incarnations of horror. Demons, spirits, and gods from our prehistoric era had control of man’s fate and history for centuries until eventually our mechanical revolution laid waste to the old religion to make way for the cult of science and so-called rational thinking. Within this stream of history, what has often plagued mankind’s nightmares has taken on many different shapes. From bloodthirsty animal predators and indifferent bacterial microbes to the emergence of ever more deadlier science experiments gone wrong the things that terrify us have not dissipated only expanded. Within the realm of horror fiction, writers and artists have attempted to give shape and form to all our fears and neuroses but more often than not the work put out by them falls just short of being anything other than entertaining.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Naked Terror

John Quidor. Money Diggers, 1832

The weather was grim.

It had not stopped raining for five days straight and the ship’s captain had begun to suffer from a mysterious disease. The doctor onboard had tried to treat the fever and vomiting, but the captain’s convulsions became more frequent and what little medicine we had had already been used in a failed attempt to assuage the captain’s suffering. Nothing the doctor did had a positive effect on his condition though and by the fourth day Captain McKaid began to hemorrhage profusely from every orifice, drowning in a fountain of his own blood.