Down Under Horror: Talking about DECAY

(Please note the following may contain graphic content that may offend some readers. Readers have been advised.)

As I’ve probably have said before; I love horror! I love the feeling of terror, the nightmares that follow afterwards and the strange creatures that stalk us in the night. And as I’ve probably have said before as well, I love Australian horror. I’m a supporter of the Australian speculative fiction scene and there’s nothing better, in my opinion, than sitting down to read or watch one of our many great books or films. It was during my search for Australian horror that I came across the DECAY comics. Much like Wake in Fright, I discovered DECAY by complete accident. Much like Wake in Fright as well, DECAY has gone one to become one of my favourites in horror.

DECAY is a comic anthology series published by Adelaide based Dark Oz, who also publish Retro Sci-Fi (another series I’ll talk about soon!). First published in 2010, the series has seen twenty issues with, at the time of writing this, a new issue to be coming soon. The series is developed by Australian artists, but has seen help in the past from international artists.

I first discovered DECAY at my local Supanova, a popular culture convention, back in 2014. I walking by the indie stalls when the posters to these comics first caught my eyes. The art styles to the front of the comics reminded me heavily of the old pulp horror magazines of the early 20th century, and the EC Comics’ Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror. It was right from that moment that my interest had been captured and I left there with a couple of issues in hand, thus beginning my interest into these comics, which has since then resulted in me owning most of them.

Ever since I first picked up DECAY, I took note of the quality of the series. A lot of love and passion is placed into these comics, which shows in the stories and art. It’s through this that I can see how much the creators love what they’re doing and how passionate they are to keep it going.

20160211_171446.jpg

(Some of the artwork from issue 18.)

Much like any anthology series, DECAY has had its fair share of the good and the bad. There’s been plenty of stories within the series that have wowed me in both art and storytelling, while some that have me scratching my head afterwards. There’s been times as well when the artwork in some of the stories has either been too crowded, or too superficial. Then there’s the in-between stories that I’ve read; the ones that have a good story, but not as good artwork and vice versa.

Don’t think I’m downing the comics by any means. As I said earlier, every anthology series has had its fair share in the good and the bad. It’s just natural.

I would like to spend sometime as well talking about one particular issue of DECAY that I’d have to say is my favourite from the series. It’s issue twelve, or better known as the CTHULHU SPECIAL ISSUE. I cannot begin to describe how much I love this issue; in my opinion, it’s got the best cover of any of the issues to have been released. Not convinced? Have a look at the image below and see its awesomeness. As you would suspect, this is an issue that’s completely dedicated to H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. The Cthulhu Mythos is one of my most well loved mythologies within pop culture, and a comic of it developed by Australians only made my interest in this soar. There are less stories within this issue than others, but the lack of stories galore is overlooked by the artwork within. Want to see it? Head off now and go buy an issue of it now. Supplies of the original run are scarce at this time, but there’s a remastered issue that’s been recently released with all stories in colour.

20160211_170611 (Image: DECAY issue 12)

I’ve bought every new issue of DECAY almost right from they’ve been released, which at this moment is bi-annual. The eagerness of wanting to know what’s in next issue comes to me every time after I finish reading each one. Like a lot of things in life that happen by accident, coming across this anthology series has been a blessing for me. It’s allowed me to further fill my craving for Australian horror and given me something new to read. The pulp look and feel of the series also allow me to travel back to a time when pulp fiction was a lot more common. They also show off the talent Australian artists have to offer.

For those who are interested into looking more into DECAY, or wanting to get their hands on an issue, the link to their website is below. Australian residents can find issues of this series at certain comic book stores around Australia, or through the online store, which is found under the tab DECAY.  As for international people, best to contact to see if you can get them sent over since these comics are only printed physically and might be expensive.

Link: http://www.darkoz.com.au/index.html

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Cameron Lowe is an aspiring writer of speculative fiction. When he’s not writing he’s often either travelling the stars, slaying vampires, or being chased by dragons. His work has appeared in Speakeasy Zine and Empire Times.

 

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My Thoughts: Wake in Fright

Ok, I thought as this is the first non-introductory post that I’d talk about both a book and film that I can say, without doubt, is one of my all time favourites, Wake in Fright.

Written by Kenneth Cook, and first published in 1961, Wake in Fright follows John Grant, a teacher who journeys into a alcoholic and spiritual nightmare as he’s passing through an outback town on his way back to Sydney.

I first came across Wake in Fright back in 2014. I was doing a uni assignment about Australian horror and came across a clip from the 1971 Ted Kotcheff film adaptation by accident. The clips was only three minutes long, but it hit a note only a select amount of works in the past have. Seeing John Grant and Doc Tydon (played by Gary Bond and Donald Pleasence respectively) talking about sex, drinking beer, then go roo hunting in a 1959 Ford Fairlane got me curious about the film, and make me do research on it. It was in that research where I discovered the story was based of Cook’s own experiences in Broken Hill, when he was a journalist for the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) back in the 1950s. In that research was when I discovered its source material, which triggered a treasure hunt for it. Eventually I found a copy of it at a local book store and started reading it when I went away on a holiday. Topping that off I also finally managed to watch the film and came out of it almost completely changed. It certainly was unlike any Australian film  I’d ever seen.

So what do I think of Wake in Fright, and why do I consider it one of my all time favourite books and films? Well, I guess, when it comes to Australian fiction I’m kind of a mixed bag. Most of the Australian fiction I’d been introduced to before Wake in Fright had always been regarded as “high art” literary works, which I honestly find too pretentious and boring most of the time. At that same time as well I craved to try and find an Australian fiction book that was dark and haunting. Upon discovery of this piece I finally managed to fulfil that craving. I got a kick out of seeing John Grant turn from this sophisticated city bloke fall in with the wrong crowd and end up becoming broke and constantly drinking. It allowed me to also discover that not all “high art” Australian fiction is pretentious and boring.

As for the film adaptation, it’s a completely different tale. I’m a massive fan on Australian Cinema, particularly horror films. The discovery of this film came not long after I’d seen the then recently released Wolf Creek 2. Although not as great as the original film, or the prequel books (which are fantastic as well btw), it got me even more curious in Australian horror. Right from the first pan shot of Tiboonda and the music I felt an uncanny feeling. It was a land that was familiar to me, but at the same time felt different, more alien, more horrifying. Watching the film not only added to my satisfaction of discovering something new, but it also caused me to look at another side of Australian life.

My Final Thoughts: Wake in Fright, both the novel and film are a unique experience that I’m glad that I’ve experienced. They’re both classic in Australian literature and film, which I highly recommend to everyone. They allow a glimpse into the dark side of outback Australian life that’s rarely seen in books and film.

 

 

New Beginnings…

Hi all,

May I introduce myself, I am Cameron Lowe, or known under my online pen name, The Shadow King of Dawn. I’m a writer, a dreamer and an avid fan of Horror and Sci-Fi.

Why have I started this blog? Well, I wanted a central place where I can just talk nerd stuff all the time, share my thoughts on things and set up links to my previously published stories. What nerd stuff will I talk about? Well, just about anything that I find interesting or obsess about. Most of it will probably be me just talking about books, films, TV shows, games and music. Some of it may have me talking about outer space since I’m really interested in that stuff as well.

My goal is to post between one to three times a week on this site, possibly even more when I’m not writing my stories.

That’s all for now, I hope this gives a somewhat open idea on what this site is for.

Until next time,

The Shadow King of Dawn

07/02/2016