Tag Archives: Horror Art

The Creative Nook with Corey Nyhus

by Zachary Shiffman

A red-skinned demon. A winged abomination with a curved blade. An insect – wide-eyed and dying – ripped from the pages of Kafka. These are images that can only come from the mind of an artist. I wanted to gain a glimpse into that mind, so I invited Corey Nyhus, an artist currently living in New York, into THE DARK SIRE’s Creative Nook on YouTube.

We started by discussing some of the images mentioned above — such as Redboy, the demon who acts as a sort of mascot to Nyhus’ works, as well as the blade-wielding Corvian and Nyhus’ Metamorphosis-inspired piece, “Kafkaesque.” We discussed the tools used to create these characters and pieces and how they relate to Nyhus’ vision, along with the relationship between handwriting and art.

Nyhus and I also talked about the dynamic between himself and his art — how the mind can affect the artistic and vice versa. Then we discussed Nyhus’ recommended readings, including the web comic Kill Six Billion Demons by Tom Parkinson-Morgan and surrealist novel The Vorrh by Brian Catling.

I had a blast interviewing Nyhus. If you like horror and gothic art as much as I do, then you’ll love this interview!

https://youtu.be/cxboVaL3JHM

Happy Hanuukah

The eight-day Jewish celebration of Hanuukah (or the Festival of Lights) commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem where, according to legend, the Jews rose up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors during the Maccabean Revolt in the second century BCE.  After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE, his vast empire was divided between his generals, with Seleucus I getting territory that encompassed Israel all the way to India.

At first the Seleucid kings allowed the Jews to practice their own religion.  But then in a total reversal of policy Antiochus IV Epiphanes outlawed the Jewish religion and ordered all the Jews to worship Greek gods.  When they refused, in 168 BCE, he descended on Jerusalem, massacring thousands of people and desecrating the Jewish holy Second Temple by erecting an altar to Zeus and sacrificing pigs within its sacred walls.

In the wake of this desecration, a large-scale rebellion broke out against the Seleucid monarchy.  The rebellion was led by Jewish priest Mattahias and his five sons.  When he died, his son Judah Maccabee took command of the rebellion and successfully drove the Syrians out of Jerusalem.  Judah called for his followers to cleanse the Second Temple, rebuild its altar and light its menorah, the golden candelabrum whose seven branches represent knowledge and creation.

And this brings us to the miracle which Hanuukah celebrates.  According to the Talmud, one of Judaism’s most central texts, Judah Maccabee and the others who took part in the rededication of the Second Temple witnessed what they believed to have been a miracle:   There was only enough untainted olive oil to keep the menorah’s candles burning for a single day, but the flames kept flickering for eight nights, giving those rededicating the Temple time to find a fresh supply of oil.

Judah Maccabee defeating the Seleucid forces at the Second Temple

Hanukkah is rich in traditions.

The first revolves around lighting the nine-branched menorah.  On each of the holiday’s eight nights, another candle is added to the menorah after sundown.  The ninth candle is called the shamash (the helper) and is used to light the others.  It is typical to recite blessings during the ritual and to display the menorah prominently in a window to remind others of the miracle that inspired the holiday. Another tradition revolves around food fried in oil.  Potato pancakes known as latkes and jam-filled donuts known as sufhaniyot are eaten in many Jewish homes. Though not fried, a food item that’s steeped in tradition is gelt, or chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil.  The traditions continue in the playing if games, specifically the game of Dreidel with a four-sided spinning top.  And of course, there is gift giving, where most families exchange small, sentimental gifts, like books, games, and even food items, that harken the holiday’s true meaning and grass roots. Lastly, and this is just as important as everything else, the official colors of Hanukkah are blue and white, so wrapping paper and decorations adorning packages and houses will naturally be a bright festivity of blue and white.

From all of us at THE DARK SIRE to all of our Jewish readers, “Hanukkah Sameach!”

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We know that each family has their own unique traditions for Hanukkah. If you celebrate, let us celebrate with you by sharing (pictures are encouraged!) your traditions with us. We’d love to celebrate with you!

If you have a horror and gothic-loving reader you’d like to shop for, be sure to visit the TDS Holiday Store for all your gift needs. We recommend the Holiday Care Box – a present that gives a little of everything, small but personal.

!!! GIVEAWAY !!!

 

At THE DARK SIRE we have a mission to both our authors and our readers.  We provide a stage that highlights the taboo.  These are creative works that, because of their subject content, have trouble finding a publisher.  We help authors regain their creative freedoms – giving a voice to the voiceless – while also providing readers a platform that allows them to enjoy the full spectrum of speculative fiction, poetry, and art without censorship. Writers and readers, then, can revel in the creepy, the eerie, the twisted content that harkens back to an older tradition of storytelling, subject matter, and portraiture.

In addition,  TDS endeavors to go beyond the printed page by providing opportunities for promotion, which includes but is not limited to organized author/artist events, book signings, interviews and giveaways.

Which brings us to the purpose of this blog:  We are giving away a SIGNED PAPERBACK copy of Rami Ungar’s ROSE.

Win a signed copy of Rami Ungar’s ROSE

You have read the review.  You have read the interview.  Now own the book. All you have to do to win this signed edition is LIKE and SHARE the TDS giveaway posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram between December 1 and December 14. LIKE this blog post for an extra chance to win!  Those who LIKE and SHARE the TDS giveaway posts (social media, blog) will be entered into an online automated selection program.  The winner will be selected randomly from all the entries.

We are as dedicated to our readers as we are our writers.  You can’t have one without the other.  We want you to have a great reading experience.  Where other magazines have banned slasher, faux pas issues, and Christian themes, you can be sure that you will experience the full creativity of our writers without a governor on their creative freedoms.

So… LIKE and SHARE and be automatically entered in this, our first AUTHOR GIVEAWAY.  Good luck!

Gothic Style Christmas

“Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat,

Please put a penny in the old man’s hat…” 

Too cheery?  Maybe that isn’t your sort of thing.  Maybe you would like something darker… a little Gothic Christmas.  Yes, Virginia, there is a Gothic Santa Claus, Christmas Tree and all the darker decorations that go with it.  Why decorate your tree with a jolly fat man and reindeer when you can use ornaments that inspire supernatural flights of fancy or mysterious creatures straight from the designers’ nightmares.

Well, The Dark Forest put the question of how do you celebrate a Goth Christmas to members of several Gothic groups on the various social media and here’s what the general consensus was:

First of all, you need to start with a black Christmas tree.  You can either by one or spray paint a regular Christmas tree black. 

Then, again, if you don’t want to spray paint a tree or buy a black one, you can always go the Addams Family route and decorate a tree with naked branches.  Bare branches with red tinsel looking like dripping blood instead of icicles was also another favorite theme.  And don’t forget to hang your Christmas tree upside down from the ceiling.

What makes something Gothic?  Characteristics of the Gothic include death and decay, ghosts and vampires.  When you decorate a Gothic Christmas tree, think terror and wonder.  Santa becomes a decomposing skeleton in a red Santa suit.  Snowflake ornaments are black instead of white.  Black bulbs have white skulls on them.   And don’t forget the black wreath for your front door.  If you are in the mood to hang Christmas stockings, black with skulls will do very nicely.  All you have to do is Google “Gothic Christmas” to find hundreds of dark ideas with which to celebrate the season.

Another recommendation that was popular was the graveyard look, which is a blending of Halloween and Christmas.  Then there was the Nightmare Before Christmas theme or  the Addams Family theme.  And what would say Gothic Christmas more than the presents wrapped with Edgar Allen Poe wrapping paper.

Edgar Allen Poe wrapping paper

A Gothic Christmas needs to be filled with purple, black, dark gray or navy blue colors.  And the images of sugarplums need to be replaced with dragons, gargoyles, fairies, wizards, ogres and ghosts. 

Another suggestion from our responding Goths was to go a little more Pagan and sit around and watch the Yule log burn and listen to Christopher Lee reading Edgar Allen Poe.  Don’t have a fireplace?  Don’t worry.  Check your TV listings.  There are several media groups across the country that offer a Yule Log presentation with their free over-the-air broadcasts.  That hours of commercial free TV with just the Yule log burning in all its fiery glory.

Christmas does not have to be traditional by any stretch of the imagination.  Just paint your tree black and let yourself go.

The Novella — Not Just A Short Novel

THE DARK SIRE would like to reintroduce you to a time honored format that has been somewhat ignored in the recent past: the Novella.  You are probably more familiar with this form than you realize.  Many of the “books” you had to read in high school and college were novellas but were not presented as such.  Famous novellas include: George Orwell’s Animal Farm; Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol; Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend; and Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.  Robert Silverberg, a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, called the novella “one of the richest and most rewarding of literary forms… it allows for more extended development of theme and character than does the short story, without making the elaborate structural demands of the full-length book.”

You might wonder why TDS’s interest?  Everyone who subscribes to our magazine will have noticed that we publish serializations.  Novellas, because of their concentrated focus on the story coupled with an equally focused exploration of the subject, lend themselves quite easily to serialization.  The novella is actually quite difficult to sell to commercial publishers.  It is too long for many magazines and too short for book publishers.  Being able to serialize them fulfills a needed niche in the publishing world, especially to authors who write in the Gothic, Horror, Fantasy and Psychological Realism genres.

From Victorian England to the 20th Century, writers of the supernatural have drawn to this form.  In 1879, Margaret Oliphant published one of the most innovative pieces of horror fiction ever written.  A Beleaguered City tells the story of a city under siege from the dead.  (Familiar plot, anyone?)  Charlotte Riddell’s novellas concern mysterious disappearances, ghosts, greed, murder, and revenge.  Florence Marryat’s The Dead Man’s Message has ghosts, ghost animals, spirit photography and séances.

When a novella has been serialized in THE DARK SIRE, our interest does not stop there.  We intend to publish those novellas as CHAPBOOKS.  In a world where there is a lot of talk about readers’ dwindling attention spans, chapbooks are a great way to soak up great writing.  They are, by nature, short.  Edgar Allen Poe said that the optimum length for a piece of literature was one that could be read in one sitting.  A chapbook can.  This is the TDS way of supporting writers whose work doesn’t fit into the commercial publishing pattern.  We want to give them a voice, to tell their stories and, above all, to entertain our readers.  In the changing paradigm of how readers choose books and shop for them, chapbooks look like the new age way to go.  Their compact style is perfect for readers with busy lives.

If you are a writer and have a story that fits into the novella category, please consider submitting to THE DARK SIRE.  We want to support you and your creative journey. 

The Creative Nook with Book Reviewer Kami Martin

Some of you might already be familiar with Kami Martin, the host of Kami’s Korner on YouTube. Ms. Martin discusses audio books, e-books, comics, graphic novels, novellas — all of the horror persuasion.  As a true lover of all thing macabre, THE DARK SIRE couldn’t resist the opportunity of getting her totally unbiased opinion of what we do.  We seriously had no idea of how she would respond. 

TDS:   As a regular reviewer of all things dark, The Dark Sire couldn’t resist getting your opinion on our publication.  What was your initial reaction?

Kami Martin:  When Bre Stephens, your Editor-in-Chief, contacted me about reviewing The Dark Sire literary magazine, I jumped at the chance.  As a regular reviewer of fiction in all forms, I thought, what a unique opportunity to try something new! And I am so grateful I did! It was a delightful treat!

TDSInitially, we asked you to review our debut issue but then you agreed to review Issues 1-3. In the end, you reviewed the whole first year – all 4 issues. Was there anything that particularly stood out for you?

Kami Martin:  In the debut issue (Fall 2019), you published stories touching on gothic and horror works of fiction and poetry offering your readers a nice balance no matter their tastes or interests.

Grave by W.C. Mallery was certainly a stand out short story, and Beneath These Boards by Michael Thomas Ellis offered a poem that was sure to make readers shudder and shiver. The cover art presented by Christian-Rhen Stefani is by far my favorite of the entire year’s worth of covers. It is a work of art that speaks to you well after you close your eyes.

TDS:  What did you think or our serializations?

Kami Martin:  I thought that featuring two serializations was a truly unique gift for your readers.  Both Vampyre Paladin by Brenda Stephens and Kyuuketsuki by S. M. Cook offered exquisite detail and well-formed stories that will have readers turning the page to find what happens next. I was captivated immediately.

TDS:  Thank you for your kind words on our premier issue.  But the real question is: Were we able to continue with the quality of writing in our second issue that we presented  in our first?

Kami Martin:  Your stories and serializations continue to pack a punch but the stand out of this particular issue for me was the poetry! I loved every single poem included! Such texture, richness and deep, dark descriptions. The art was a nice mix of creepy, too!

TDS:  To be perfectly honest, we loved the poetry, as well. TDS was an international literary magazine by our 2nd issue, with readers and contributors alike. At the time, we thought Issue 2 was the best. But then, Issue 3 came out and we had over 2,000 readers.

Kami Martin:  It’s a great testament to a magazine that is rapidly growing with great success. Again, in your third issue, the fiction did not disappoint. Once Bitten: A Vampire’s Lament by Maureen Mancini Amaturo was a great gothic tale that was a top contender for my favorite. Poetry remained solid, especially with The Vision by Gregory E. Lucas and Progeny by Michael Walker. This issue also brought us some standout artwork by Shaun Power that any author of the macabre should want to snag up for future novels!!

TDS:  If you’ve enjoyed all the issues thus far, I’m excited to hear what you think of Issue 4, our Summer issue that was themed “Dark Summer.”

Kami Martin:  Your fourth issue continued to show growth and promise and will continue to give your readers a reason to continue revisiting the magazine. The cover and interior artwork continued to impress. Bre Stephens certainly has a great eye! The artwork really seemed to flow well within this issue. One item of fiction I certainly feel deserves real attention, as it has appeared in each of the quarterly issues, and can be considered a continued serialization of sorts: The Village Series by David Crerand. True horror broken down into parts 1-4.

TDS:  David Crearand has been with us from the very beginning and has become a staple of TDS; Shaun Power has take a page from Mr. Crerand’s book, as he, too, has become a staple artist. We certainly do our best to provide quality work to satiate our readers’ hunger for all things fiction, poetry, and art.

Kami Martin:  There wasn’t a moment that I was not entertained and delighted. This literary magazine is well-rounded for lovers of the macabre with a bit of something for everyone!  This was one hell of a debut and I just want to thank Bre Stephens for the opportunity to share my thoughts on the contributions of your many talented writers! This is quite the gift for us eerie readers!

YouTube trailer for Kami’s Korner. Copyright Kami Martin.

                                      

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TDS is one literary magazine that treats everyone like family. We’re always looking for ways that will exceed expectations, and our issues are packed full of engaging material that will make you think, shake, and quiver. We encourage all creatives to submit to TDS year-round, and for readers to visit the TDS Store. Don’t make us wait too long – come join the THE DARK SIRE family!

Art and Horror: How TDS Artists Epitomize the TDS Brand

THE DARK SIRE magazine strives to bring you a banquet of the best in horror, gothic, fantasy, and psychological realism.  And what is a banquet without desert?  It’s high time that The Dark Forest paid well deserved kudos to the TDS artists.  In an earlier blog, we said that a good horror story provokes an emotional response in the reader.  Good art does the same.  From the first issue to the latest one, TDS has incorporated various photographs, drawings, and other forms of art to add to the emotional stimulus that is our magazine. 

A good piece of horror artwork, stays with you.  It cannot easily be forgotten.  In our debut issue, we presented you with the art of Christian-Rhen Stefani and the photography or Dee Espinoza.  Ms. Stefani’s  acrylic on ceramic tile entitled Shadow Still graced our first cover.  We hoped that it would catch your attention and draw you into the magazine.  It had a particular kind of intensity, one with out explanation, one that would captivate you with its abstract power.   Between the covers, we gave you Ms. Espinoza’s Preston Castle Play Room.  The black and white photograph leaves a lingering imprint and one can only image the loneliness and despair of the children who, once upon a time, had to survive there.

Shadow Still (2019), Christian-Rhen Stefani, acrylics on tile
Preston Castle Play Room (2018), Dee Espinoza, photo

In our second issue, Rorschach by Doria Walsh appeared on our cover.  This India ink on paper possessed an eerie tranquility that makes you look twice.  Is it a soul catcher?  Or something alive?  The question is different for each viewer as is the answer, if there is one.  In side, you discovered Lonely Soul by Paula Korkiamäki.  It’s a haunting piece that shows her impression of the universe and the spirit world occupying the same place in space and time. As beautiful as it is, there is an instinctive discomfort as one contemplates the overlapping boundaries. 

Rorschach (2019), Doria Walsh, alcohol ink on Yupo
Lonely Soul (2019), Paula Korkiamaki, India ink on paper

THE DARK SIRE is not about horror for horror’s sake.  The metaphors and allegories reach far beyond the printed page.   They make us look at ourselves from a different angle, adding a further dimension to the impression of our lives.  In our third issue, you were treated to twelve pastels from our featured artist, Shaun Power (who was a guest in our Creative Nook interview series).  His work invokes images that would warm the heart of Edgar Allen Poe, himself.  There is an intimacy to his work that allows each individual viewer to suspend belief and enter into the art themselves.  His work grants the viewer permission to become as much involved with the piece as they dare, perhaps demanding of the viewer concessions that they would not normally be willing to make.

In our fourth issue, we added the works of Dena Simard, Kibbi Linga, Juhi Ranjan, Brian Michael Barbeito, and Lam Jasmine Bauman (respectively). Shaun Power returned, as well, rounding out this group of talented artists.  These works of art elicit an emotional response in the viewer which is exactly what we wanted them to do.  In some cases, they inspire horror and dread; in others a reexamination of our objectivity. They evoked thought and a need for the dissection of our world and of ourselves – a contemplation before the storm.  There is a paradox involved – and that, perhaps, is the greatest tribute we can give to our artists: They challenge the viewers to examine the world around them through an abstract artistic lens that only the great masters of the past could muster.

In our fifth (and most recent) issue, we combined the artwork of Shaun Power with the illustration of Kailey Reid, whose drawings have a peculiar kind of elegance to them.  Yet, nothing is exactly as it should be.  While Power supplied the horror of being overtaken by the dark, Reid provided the necessary undertone of “the other side,” the place in which the lost souls of mankind inhabited. Doing this created a mood that was fearsome, absurd, and unsettling all at the same time. The mix of both Power and Reid, then, became synonomous with the meaning of our latest issue: Halloween, and the meaning of the darkness on the most frightening day of the year.

Art is a collaboration between the artist and the viewer.  At THE DARK SIRE, we try to offer our subscribers works that challenge their imaginations.  It’s not just the dark and gruesome but also the magical that provides a release from an internalized fear, stimulating fascination with the dark and mysterious. And let’s remember: Not all art has to be innately horrific to be horrifying – for the world is filled with horrific things that come in bright packaging. That’s the beauty of art and abstracts – they can be anything the viewer envisions.

If you like art that touches your soul, subscribe to The Dark Sire – and tell a friend.

Friday the 13th: Another Day to Celebrate

How lucky are we? Halloween is barely over and look what the calendar offers us:  FRIDAY THE 13TH, another chance to celebrate everything dark. Friday the 13th has long been a harbinger of bad luck because of the combination of two unlucky charms. The number 13 has been unlucky since early Christian times and even more ancient Norse Mythology. Friday has been an unlucky day for almost as long, and when the two of them come together, negative superstitions abound.

And when that happens, what do we do at THE DARK SIRE? We celebrate it. We are all about dark things. Our stories, poems and art abound with it, and if you want to celebrate this day with us, we can offer a few suggestions of what you can do. Get together around a campfire or someplace equally as spooky and read a horror story.  Choose any of our magazines and you are sure to find a story that will make you look over your shoulder to be sure the shadows on the walls are just that… shadows.  Read The Mask (Issue 2) by Carl Hughes or any episodes of The Village (Issues 1-5) by David Crerand. These stories are guaranteed to make Friday the 13th more memorable for you. 

Don’t want to read?  Watch a movie! If you are a slasher fan, check out Dream Home (2010), a movie that looks at gore through the eyes of the killer. Rent Lake Bodom (2016), a meta-slasher film filled with murder, betrayal, obsession and deception. Want a laugh with your blood? Check out Psycho Beach Party (2000), a parody of the slasher movies and the 60’s beach party movies. These movies are filled with convoluted supernatural mythology, demonic possession, and all kinds of slasher special effects– some humorous and some stomach-turning. 

You can TV binge on Supernatural’s 15 seasons of Sam and Dean chasing and killing all kinds of ghosts and ghouls and dark angels, even having a confrontation with God over the Apocalypse. Binge on The Originals where vampire/werewolf hybrids return to terrorize New Orleans. And, of course, you have The Vampire Diaries, set in a town charged with supernatural history. 

It doesn’t stop there! Do you want a different kind of chill? Check out what the Japanese offer in their Anime or Manga. Luckily, these are media which excel in spine-tingling horror. Black Butler features a 13-year old Lord who has a contract with a demon to help find whoever killed his parents and exact revenge. Deadman Wonderland follows the adventures of a young man who has been blamed for a massacre and sentenced to live out his days in a theme park-like prison. Follow the protagonist in Death Note as he devolves into a villain drunk with power, or wrap your mind around The Flowers of Evil, a deeply intimate and terrifying examination of obsession.

At THE DARK SIRE, Friday the 13th is the kind of holiday we look forward to. We celebrate the horror, the superstition, the things that make us question the reality in which we live. Are there ghosts? Are there demons? Our authors and artists seem to think so and that’s good enough for us. 

If you love all things horror, you’re in good company. Subscribe now!