Cyber Monday is tomorrow, so I imagine you are up to your Spock ears in geek gift guides. I apologize for the fact that I will not just be the author of this one, but another more mainstream one I will be writing for The Examiner tomorrow. But I promise you these guides will be like no others. This one in particular has the advantage of being all about the best of the weird, the wild and the wormeaten. Do you have somebody who’s too cool and great to shop for? Are you too cool and great to shop for? Do you have friends who you wish were cooler and greater? Then look no further than the items in this guide. Excited? You should be. I promise you, when it comes to weirdness, I know my shit. Which leads me to my sole plug on this list: my post holiday Bizarro Workshop. Twenty bucks for a month of intensive Bizarro skillbuilding conveniently placed after the holidays. Spots are limited and registration closes December 6th, so jump on this when you can. Make your New Year as weird as you’ll be making your Christmas with these excellent holiday gifts. Sign up for my workshop here.
Now that I’ve pimped my own endeavors, we can move onto the Bizarro community.
WONDERLAND AWARD WINNERS
Each year, at Bizarrocon, the annual gathering of Bizarro authors and fans, The Wonderland Award is given out to the cream of that year’s Bizarro crop. This year’s Wonderland Award went once again to a promising novel and a collection by one of Bizarro’ s best, so if you’re Bizarro shopping, you can’t do much better than these two books.
By the Time We Leave Here, We’ll Be Friends by J. David Osborne
J. David Osborne’s surrealistic portrait of life in a Siberian Gulag has been generating a lot of buzz. I have yet to read this, but am eager to because Swallowdown Press has never put out a disappointing book yet. As a Wonderland Book, it’s sure to please.
Lost in Cat Brain Land by Cameron Pierce
Cameron Pierce takes cartoons, dreams and human tragedy and blends them together with class, poetry and magic. Fans of Jodorowsky, Svankmajer and Harlan Ellison can do no better. One of the greatest Bizarros. I don’t just advocate buying this book, I’d say buy all the Cameron Pierce you can get your hands on.
CHRISTMAS THEMED BIZARRO
Bizarro! Christmas style. Books that will make you think Carlton Mellick has Rankin and Bass tied up in his basement.
Santa is made of sausage. And that’s not even the weird part. A demented Christmas special that’s bound to get some laughs and some glee out of the lucky recipient of this gift.
The just plain wrongest collection of holiday tales you could possibly read. Not for the faint of heart, but for everyone else, it’s chock full of laughs and shudders.
The first of Robert Devereaux’ s raunchy, risque Santa books is now available from Deadite Press! When Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny collide in the deranged imagination of Robert Devereaux, you get a piece of mad, bad and dangerous erotica!
Eraserhead is the first and the biggest of Bizarro publishers. Their authors run a wide gamut, from Cameron Pierce to David W. Barbee…to yours truly. Eraserhead is the main place to go for Bizarro entertainment.
Gory, weird, redneck cyberpunk. If you know someone whose brain can process and understand the merit of that, you should probably buy them this book by the author of sugarhigh sci fi fairy tale splatstravaganza Carnageland. David Barbee’s reading from this was one of the highlights of this year’s Bizarrocon for me.
This book is by my editor, Jeff Burk, who is great. The titular story is a low budget, twitchy slaughterfest with a high concept that transcends good taste. If you liked Shatnerquake, you will still enjoy a Shatnerless Jeff Burk just as much. Really. Shatner was not Jeff Burk’s Green Lantern ring. Shatner was a battleaxe that Batman happened to pick up and use to cut a swathe through all who denied his greatness.
Though officially from Swallowdown Press, I’m putting this in the Eraserhead category because Swallowdown only put out two books this year and I already mentioned the other one. New Jeremy Johnson is a big deal. It is as big, fat and hairy a deal as a merger between two corporations run by grizzly bears. If you’ve read Angeldust Apocalypse, a collection blessed by the hand of Chuck Pahlaniuk and have been waiting with baited breath for new work by Jeremy Johnson, you know how special this is. If not, give it a read or let a fan of grossout horror psychedelia in your life do so. They’ll be happy with it.
NEW BIZARRO AUTHOR SERIES BOOKS
You know those cards you get sometimes that say “X money has been donated in your name to a charity?” If you want to do something similar to this, but show your friend that they’re helping out new underground writers instead, the New Bizarro Author Series is a great alternative. These authors are involved in a competition where if they sell enough copies of their book, they get a five book contract from Eraserhead Press. By buying these books or advertising them, you are giving the authors your blessing and helping to guarantee these hardworking writers a future in the genre. Which I think is pretty sweet and pretty charitable and a meaningful cultural contribution. So you ought to buy these. They’re fresh, fun and unusual and take a lot of awesome risks.
Troy Chambers is a close personal friend of mine. This does not mean that my opinions on his book are unjustified. I don’t keep the company of people who suck at what they do. Who would want to? Troy Chambers has managed to create a compelling story about a sentient nipple who has made a deal with seagull gods to win the love of a lesbian nun. Fans of filth and black magic will enjoy this. If you have a friend who enjoys the taboo, the unlikely and the crass, then they will be very happy with this book.
Ultraman meets S.E Hinton! Justin Grimbol’s first book should pique a lot of interest. Weird, wild stuff.
Spike Marlowe’s story of a Robot Pirate in love with a giant placenta will appeal to fans of indie comics and weird love stories and to everybody that likes truly surprising material with depth, heart and skill behind them.
Imagine if Chelsea Handler were a smart person or Mae West and John Waters shared a wild night of passion that led to the birth of a baby girl and you might have Constance Fitzgerald. An expert on all things smut, Constance tells the story of a stripper adrift in a world of trash. A fun sojourn into a dirty, dirty mind.
I’ve waited a long time to see this one finally in print. And it was worth the wait. A surrealistic Nick Toon (just barely) for grownups. Buy this book because Michael Rose and his work are both so damn charming that you’ll want to see more of them and so will the lucky, lucky boy or girl who gets this in their stocking.
Do you have a buddy who makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches using Skittles? That would be in jail if it wasn’t for Guitar Hero? Who has seriously considered getting an Axe Cop tattoo? This is the book for them. This book is bananas. Everything you’ve been raised to believe literature is, Gigantic Death Worm ain’t, and that is, in its own way, quite beautiful. If your friend is still reluctant to read it, offer them a Playboy and a box of chocodiles.
LAZY FASCIST/FANTASTIC PLANET
Bizarro author Cameron Pierce runs these two imprints of Eraserhead Press. One is dedicated to literary Bizarro and experimental fiction, the other to unique science fiction and fantasy.
For the Upright Citzen’s Brigade/That Mitchell and Webb Look/ Thomas Ligotti enthusiast, Bradley Sands is the perfect author. He’s one of the most unique and funny voices in today’s fiction.
Piers Anthony, best known for his humorous fantasy, takes a radical departure with this bold, brazen and sadistic book. In a world where children are born en masse without souls, a father must make a series of terrifying and disgusting choices. The sociopathic children use violence, sexuality and manipulation to try to destroy adults. The Sopaths is a book with no easy answers, but one that should be read, shocking though it might be. Dark stuff, but still highly recommended.
Author and artist Alan Clark is a master of creating beautiful and frightening things. His writing and his art alike are skillful, moving and nasty in turns. In Of Thimble of Threat, he explores the life of a Ripper victim, a life cut short by violence and marred by poverty. If you know somebody that reads historical fiction, give them the good stuff.
Deadite Press, run by Jeff Burk is revolutionizing extreme horror and bringing it back to inexpensive, pulpy paperbacks. If you know a hardcore gorehound, these books will remind them of the joy they experienced the first time they ever saw a Fulci movie.
Nate Southard is a fine new addition to the Deadite stable. He writes the kind of stuff you can’t see on the big screen anymore. Combining gore and human drama in the same way an author like Jack Ketchum does, Southard’s Just Like Hell is sure to satisfy.
Wrath James White is hardcore, but his work goes well beyond the realm of torture porn. Thought provoking commentary on faith, faithlessness and justice, this is a work of transgressive genius. A must own for anyone who calls themselves a real “horror” fan. Scary with a capital S.
Edward Lee is as much an urban legend as he is an author. At once a writer spoken of in perverse whispers and a respected icon in the horror community, he’s a truly impressive figure. If you know someone who owns the Criterion edition of Salo and invited you over to listen to the commentary blithely ignorant of the fact that you were very, very uncomfortable, Edward Lee is the author for them. But horror should make you uncomfortable. Horror should be a carnival of pain and taboo delight, it should be the stuff in Pinhead’s puzzle box. And Edward Lee lives up to that.
Plenty of readers of the old and new weird are fans of H.P Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, which make these books ideal holiday gifts. Each of them takes vintage pulp horror into new and unlikely terrain.
Brian Keene and Nick Mamatas come together to bring you a Lovecraft story like no other. How is it like no other? Well, for one thing it’s written by Brian Keene and Nick Mamatas and for another, it stars Hunter S. Thompson. Hunter S. Thompson, Cthulhu, Brian Keene and Nick Mamatas. If you cannot see why this is awesome, you need a visit to Doctor Benway to have Awesome Goggles permanently embedded on your face so you can enjoy life.
Ross Lockhart of Nightshade Books has compiled a fantastic compendium of new Mythos authors paying tribute to your favorite tentacled monstrosity from the deep. A must have for the discriminating cultist.
Cameron Pierce takes on two pop culture crazes with humor and tenderness. Sure to bring a smile and a tear like the rest of Pierce’s Bizarro classics.
Anthologies make a great Christmas gift. You get a lot of mileage and a lot of different kinds of fiction for your book buying dollar.
This anthology from cult writing community The Velvet features work from many authors mentioned above and some other truly impressive names. Well worth it because it not only contains work from small press authors that you root for but bigger names you can rely on.
John Skipp takes on all things diabolical with this anthology from Black Dog and Levinthal. Following in the footsteps of his anthologies Zombies and Werewolves and Shapeshifters, he combines the work of newer cult authors with icons from all over literary history. It’s pretty awesome.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m extremely proud to be a part of this anthology for Japan. Proceeds from this book, which features work by the likes of Michael Moorcock and John Shirley go to orphans of the quake. This is one of those gifts that keeps on giving.
Ebooks are important.
Jordan Krall is one of the most popular and perverse Bizarro geniuses ever and he has a wide variety of stuff available for Kindle. Get his catalog for a s0ng, along with many unreleased gems.
What happens when you combine Stephen King and Charlie Kaufman? Andersen Prunty. That’s what. Get a wide variety of Prunty without breaking your bank. Well worth your money for a cornucopia of weirdness driven by both horror and pathos.
Skurvy Ink makes awesome t-shirts of a Bizarro bent. They’re very swanky and reasonably priced. The Cthulhu Santa shirt is highly recommended, though of course, Jimmy Plush is not too shabby.
Zoe Welch not included.
That’s all for the Bizarro holiday gift guide. But I have one more thing to talk about. The items on this list can help you make somebody’s Christmas really special. But there are other ways to do it, too. One of these ways is to donate a toy to Toys for Tots. And guess what? Joe Pulver and many other members of the horror community want to give you a gigantic prize package for helping them make Christmas better for poor children. Post a picture of yourself donating a toy to Toys for Tots on THIS FACEBOOK GROUP and you can get a fantastic prize package. Hope your holidays are happy and I hope this is a time of merriment for the Bizarro community, for fans of all things strange and fantastic and for those that might have more to look forward to this holiday season.