Less Is Never More, More or Less – TIH Column

More This Is Horror Column Goodness:

“About a decade and a half ago Keith Tyson, a conceptual artist and childhood friend of mine (who would later go on to win the Turner Prize), invited me to one of his shows. It was in a boutique gallery in a trendy part of West London and the place was filled with just the sort of preening, pseudish individuals you’d imagine attending these sort of events. Many were artists themselves and paraded about the gallery with a sense of overweening entitlement and a desperate need for attention.

After admiring Keith’s work for about half an hour and drinking a little too much of the complimentary wine, I fell into a conversation with a group of people. It was one of those earnest, self regarding conversations about the nature of art and the role it plays in every day life. The sort of conversation I’d had with many first year art students back when I used to hang out on campuses to score free drugs and sex. Frankly it was boring me rigid (and in all the wrong places).

To liven up the conversation I decided to change the topic. Cutting a floppy haired public school boy off mid-sentence I blurted: “Never mind all that, what do you reckon to Arsenal’s chances next week?” The young man looked down at the ground, shifted from foot to foot and sheepishly admitted that he didn’t know anything about football. The other people standing around in our little circle looked uneasy and confessed to knowing nothing about the sport either.

At that point there was a lull in the general hubbub of conversation and I heard a loud, boorish and rather drunken voice shout: “Don’t know anything about Football? Don’t Know Anything About Football?! What are you QUEER?!!” As the Gallery Owner escorted me to the door, under the glaring displeasure of everyone else present, I realised the voice had been mine.

As I wended my way back to the tube station it occurred to me that, as a then bisexual man who knew less about football than Amanda Knox knows about being a considerate flatmate, my utterance made me, without any doubt, the single most pretentious person in that gallery. If not the whole of West London. I can never be accused of not taking things to their excess …”

Read more – you know you can’t help yourself


Examining Games of Thrones Season 3 Blu Ray – TIH Column

My latest column for This Is Horror:

“This is the season that fans of George R. R. Martin’s books have been anticipating since the series started, and with no little trepidation. This is the point in the saga where everything changes, and nothing will ever be the same. Rest assured that show runners David Benioff and D B Weiss have been building up to this since they first pitched the show. If you’re a huge fan of the books, especially Storm of Swords, you really won’t be disappointed by the penultimate episode.

As the season starts the Lannisters are basking in their victory at the Battle of Blackwater, however their newfound alliance with the scheming Tyrells proves to be a double-edged sword. Tyrion Lannister (one of the series’ most popular characters and fast becoming a sex symbol) is not coping well with no longer being the Hand of the King.

The Starks are losing the war with the South in spite of having won every battle. Some bad decisions by Rob Stark have seen his armies fall in number and have lost him many powerful allies. Jon Snow has joined a Wildling raiding party and fallen for Ygritte, a Wildling woman he was unable to execute last season, leading to torn loyalties. While the Night’s Watch face insurrection and an army of advancing White Walkers, the weasily Theon Greyjoy is held hostage and tortured throughout most of the season. Stannis Baratheon broods impotently in his castle and turns to black magic …”

Read More


In Defence of Beards – TIH Column

My latest column for This Is Horror:

“I was a bit of a late starter when it came to facial hair. In fact I was over 30 before I had to start shaving more than once in a blue moon. I was actually quite upset by the sudden onset of face fuzz if I’m honest. It seemed like a definitive end to my years of folly and fresh faced youth. If the twin responsibilities of a new baby and a mortgage weren’t enough, I suddenly had to start scraping hair from my chin on a daily basis. It all seemed decidedly unfair at the time.

Like most men, I’ve always wondered what I would look like with a full beard, but I have to confess that I’ve never managed more than five days of full growth before slicing it all off. This is partly because I can’t stand the infernal itching but mainly because my wife would don an electrified chastity belt and start wielding a cattle prod if I ever approached her with a face full of hair.

I have to admit that I understand her feeling in this matter. Back in my younger days of sexual experimentation, when I happily took partners from both sexes, I was never keen on beards myself. I recall one snog with a particularly bearded bloke that felt like a hemorrhoidal Wookie was using my face as a relief cushion. So I must confess, from the get go, that I’m no expert on the subject of beards, and I’m an even stranger candidate to write a defence of them. Even still, I’m going to try …”

Read More


The Weird World of Bill Alexander – Latest TIH Column

My latest column for This Is Horror:

“There is a lot of talk amongst the Horrorati at the moment about Quiet Horror. A sub-genre that seems to mainly concern itself with timid vampires and shy werewolves whose worst crimes would appear to be dropping a thigh bone in the school library or letting one rip during the two minute silence on Remembrance Day. However, the subject of this month’s column is an exponent of anything but Quiet Horror. The work of cover artist, cartoonist and illustrator Bill Alexander is best described as Gibbering, Screaming, In-Your-Face Horror of the highest calibre.

Unless you’re a fan of the now obscure publications put out in the 70s and early 80s by Myron Fass, or a collector of less than salubrious paperbacks from the 50s and 60s, chances are you’ve never heard of Bill Alexander. So, just in case you didn’t know, to my mind, Bill Alexander is the greatest horror-comic cover artist to have ever put blood-soaked brush to gore-stained canvas, even though he has some stiff competition in Lee Elias, Bernard Bailey, L B Cole, Don Heck and Jack Cole.

Alexander’s main claim to this fame comes from the covers he did for a group of titles known as Eerie Publications. These were put out by the aforementioned Myron Fass, a former horror comic artist who became the king of pulp-exploitation quickies and fly-by-night publications. With titles like Weird, Terror Tales, Tales from the Tomb and_Witches Tales_, Eerie Publications magazine were the horror comics equivalent of the gore-ridden grindhouse movies they used to play between porn movies in the 70s ..”

Read More


Going Ginger Nuts

I’ve just had the extreme pleasure of being interviewed by Jim Mcleod at his excellent blog ‘Ginger Nuts of Horror’.

This is probably the most candid, outrageous and hilarious interview I’ve ever done. Jim pulled out all the stops for this so please do head on ever and check it out.

I promise you will laugh, you will cry and you will become twice as attractive to members of both sexes. How can you refuse.

Quick, head on over there now


Major Interview in Mass Movement Magazine

I recently had the huge honour of being interviewed by Tim Cundle, novelist and editor of the seminal music and slipstream-culture-bible that is Mass Movement Magazine.

Tim is a really insightful and intelligent interviewer which made the interview a complete joy. He’s also a very talented writer in his own right. If you can track down a copy of Compression, his latest novel, I promise it is well worth a read.

You can download your free copy of Mass Movement Magazine by clicking on this link here. Not only can you read a major interview with me wherein I discuss politics, religion, the undead and losing my trousers with Danny Dyer, you can also read excellent interviews with comedian Richard Herring, comics impresarios Eddie Deighton and Andi Ewington from Com.X plus the bands Dwarves, Dreadnought and Defeater.

How can you resist? Go on click here. You know you want to.


Spirit of Hope

If, like me, you watched the recent Japanese tsunami, that left over 8,500 people dead and half a million people homeless, with a sense of dismay and sympathy then you’ll undoubtedly want to do something to help those struggling to cope with the aftermath. Here’s a suggestion of how you can make a small but significant contribution.

I recently had the honour to contribute to the Comic Book Alliance’s fundraising anthology ‘Spirit of Hope’. This fabulous graphic novel contains a stellar line up of contributors with some amazing stories and art and is a mere steal at only £14:99. Every penny of the profits from this publication will go towards providing aid for those who are most sorely in need in the wake of the recent catastrophe.

Please go to the Comic Book Alliance’s website and buy a copy for everyone you know, even if they don’t read comics. In fact this would be a great introduction to those people (like the ignoramus MP Tom Harris) who still don’t get comics. Not only is it a great read but it’s making a significant contribution to rebuilding more than a million lives.

Here’s a little more info:

SPIRIT OF HOPE

The Spirit of Hope is a unique anthology of short stories from the world’s greatest creators dealing with the impact of disasters on people’s everyday lives. Creators include Liam Sharp, Henry Flint, Nick Abadzis, Glenn Dakin, Mark Buckingham, Al Davison and Peter Hogan with stories covering all aspects of human life in the face of catastrophe. The collection comes in two editions – one with a beautiful Jimmy Broxton cover and a second with a cool Michael Allred cover. All profit from the title will go to help disaster victims via Second Harvest and the New Zealand Red Cross.

Release date: 18th June 2011, Price £14.99 + £3.00 postage (UK), £5.00 postage (Rest of World). Books will be dispatched after the release date.


BRISTOL COMICS EXPO 2011

If you’re planning to attend the Bristol Comics Expo this weekend (14/15th of May) Then please stop by and see me.

I’m going to be participating in two panels plus signing copies of my novels and comics. The first panel is about ‘Women, Politics and Cartooning’ on Saturday at 12pm in Panel Room 2 at the Mercure Hotel. Also on the panel are International Guardian Cartoonist Blue Lou, Guardian and Independent Cartoonist Kate Evans and fine artist, comic artist and activist Vicky Stonebridge. Why not drop by and storm the comic barricades with us.

Click here to visit the Small Press Expo listings and learn more.

On Sunday I’ll be taking part in the panel about the launch of Britain’s newest and most exciting comic weekly ‘Strip Magazine‘ at 1:30pm in the Ramada Hotel. Where I’ll be announcing an exciting new project I’ve been working on with artist Andrew Chiu and editor John Freeman. Now aren’t you just a little bit curious about that? Admit it you’re desperate to attend now.

Click here to visit the International Comics Expo listing and learn more.

Hope to see you there.


Mr Woznotiz

Now I know you’re sitting there right this moment wracking your brains thinking to yourself: “Just where can I buy an audiobook for 4 to 7 year olds about imaginary friends, fitting in and the power of imagination?”

Well my friends look no further, simply click on this link and you’ll be spirited over to the iTunes store where you can purchase your very own copy of my latest work Mr Woznotiz.

As I know you’re itching to know more about the audiobook here’s the blurb:

“MR WOZNOTIZ

by Jasper Bark

An imaginative tale for 4 to 7 year olds.

Come and meet Nelson and Mr Woznotiz. Nelson had just moved to this country when he met Mr Woznotiz, the wildest, wackiest imaginary friend anyone has ever had. He was a little scared and lonely but Mr Woznotiz fixed all that. However when Nelson wants to make real friends Mr Woznotiz starts to get in the way. Then Nelson meets Marjane a clever little girl with a really imaginative way to solve his problem.

Mr Woznotiz is a powerful and enchanting story about growing up, fitting in and the power of imagination. Told entirely in rhyme and performed by the author and a group of young performers this highly entertaining tale is as fun as it is thought provoking.”

If you like the book and want to leave a review I will be eternally in your debt. In fact if you do leave a review, please drop me a line and I’ll send you an exclusive gift to say thanks.

Now have you ever had a better offer than that …?


Pages