Beasts of Burden: Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men #2 [Review]

Beasts of Burden: Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men #2 picks up where the last one left off. Dempsey injuries were worse than he’d led on, so Lundy leads the Wise Dogs to a friendly veterinarian. Through the pictures on the walls and some explanations to Miranda, a new trainee, Dorkin and artist Benjamin Dewey start to flesh out the world of the Wise Dogs, hinting at how the dogs learned magic.

Once they get Dempsey to the safe haven, he confronts Lundy. They’ve been friends long enough that he sees through Lundy. But Lundy and the rest of the Wise Dogs leave Dempsey with some guards to recuperate. It’s hard to tell if Lundy’s lying to save face or if there’s something more sinister. It’s part of what’s making this spinoff so good.

Continue reading at Wicked Horror!

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a Good Adaptation of a Great Book [Review]

I’ve heard two fundamental schools of thought about what a cover song should do. In one, a song is radically transformed. Think of the way Johnny Cash transformed Nine-Inch Nails’s “Hurt.” The other is like Weezer’s cover of Toto’s “Africa” where the style of the song changes to match the performers, but remains fundamentally the same. That’s the way Stacie Passon tackles her second feature film, an adaptation Shirley Jackson’s final novel, We have Always Lived in the Castle. Passon embellishes at points, but stays true to the excellent source material.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle opens with Merrikat Blackwood (Taissa Farmiga) burying talismans in the yard to bar outsiders, as she says in her voice over, “The Blackwoods have always lived in this house.” Neither the Blackwood family nor the Blackwood house are what they used to be. Everything changed when the family sat down for dinner one night to find their sugar had been replaced with arsenic.

Continue reading at Wicked Horror!

She Could Fly #3 Soars Higher, Dips Lower [Review]

“Chekhov’s gun” is a storytelling rules: If a writer introduces a gun in the first act, it’s going to go off in the second. She Could Fly has skirted around violence while promising the possibility so far. In issue 3, the gun goes off, and series writer Christopher Cantwell follows that by introducing an even bigger one: a ““mutli-terawatt explosion” that would irradiate the city (7).

Cantwell ups the series’ stakes in other ways too. Each issue he’s added a new set of characters that are after either the flying woman or the process that empowered her. This one’s no different. He doesn’t stop their either. This issue he dedicates time to taking characters off the sideline and getting them more in the chase. What’s so impressive is how well paced it is. The characters are coming quickly, but Cantwell and the illustrations of Martin Morrazzo manage to establish them fully without bogging down the story with exposition.

Continue reading at Wicked Horror!

Patty McCormack Opens Up About Remaking the Bad Seed

William March’s novel The Bad Seed was published in 1954 and adapted for the stage later that year. The book was nominated for a National Book Award in 1955 and in 1956 Mervyn LeRoy directed a film version that earned four Academy Award nominations, including one for Patty McCormack for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. At ten years old, McCormack was, and still is, the youngest actress ever to be nominated in that category.

The film holds up, in large part because of McCormack’s scene stealing performance as Rhoda Penmark. She’s terrifying. A ten-year-old girl who stops at nothing to get what she wants. LeRoy smartly directs the movie to cast doubt, putting his audience into the same position as Rhoda’s mother, Christine Penmark (Grace Kelly). She’s forced to decide whether or not her daughter is a killer, and what to do if she is.

Continue reading at Wicked Horror!

Ken Steacy’s Art Shines in Margaret Atwood’s War Bears #1 [Review]

In 2012 I flew from Hartford to Chicago for the Association of Writers and Writing Program’s annual conference. I was a senior in college and I’d never flown alone before. The trip would’ve been worth it if I’d only gotten to see the Keynote Speaker: Margaret Atwood. She was, as always, funny and down-to-earth. I’ve followed her career since then, more excitedly since her excellent novel The Handmaid’s Tale being adopted to Hulu’s excellent TV show. Her work is often intentionally, more so than most writers, in conversation with her forbearers. Her new comic War Bears is no exception. In it she’s exploring the production of the “Canadian Whites” of her youth—black-and-white comics published before and during World War II before collapsing under the weight of public outcry.

The story follows a young artist, Alain Zarakowski, as he tries to make a living. Al bumps into an angry old woman on the train ride to an interview with a publisher who criticizes comics for perverting Canadian youth. He makes it to his meeting with Gloria Tipper, the publisher of Canoodle Comics.

Continued reading at Wicked Horror!

If You Want to Write like a Woman, Read Their Fiction

When I was nineteen, Stan Lee ran a contest looking for new comic writers and artists to flesh out his idea for a worldwide search for aliens who’d been on earth for centuries. The winners would take creative control of the comic and Stan Lee would edit. I was so new to writing that I thought I might actually win. I punched out a script and sent it to a friend for feedback. A day later she gave me the first writing feedback that really pissed me off: Ryan, you can’t write women.

It wasn’t a philosophical question of whether or not a man could write something from a female point of view. It was about craft. It irked me, because like all good insults and great criticism, it was absolutely right. I hadn’t yet done the necessary, lifelong, work of identifying and disassembling the misogyny I had learned.

Continue reading at A Murder of Storytellers!