Twisted Pulp Magazine Issue 029 Compressed Cover

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Twisted Pulp Magazine Issue 029

It's Mother's Day Month! And what says Mother's Day like a pulp magazine with a lean toward cryptids? Brunch and mamosas? Yeah, that sounds good too.

But just think, in this month's neo-pulp trash rag we have interviews with horror author Gary Raisor, cartoonist Collin Upton and Thomas Macum, the founder of the crypto crew! Add to that some spooky anomalous zoology fiction, and an interesting insight into the bits and peices of bat monsters. Fill that out with the standard fare of articles from Wesley Critchfield and Jessica Ann Catena, slather on some pinups and performers and you got yourself one H-E-double-hocky-sticks of a Monday night read! ...after you come down from brunch and mamosas that is.


  1. I was contacted through my breakfast cereal
  2. Interview with Horror Author Gary Raisor
  3. Mother. Sky. By Mark Slade
  4. Pinup: Alegria del Sol
  5. Suspense: Radio’s Outstanding theater of Thrills!
  6. Interview with The Crypto Crew Founder, Thomas Marcum
  7. The Shaggs
  8. Curse of the Black Buddha by Chauncey Haworth
  9. Interview with Colin Upton
  10. Pinup: Anne Marquis
  11. Pinup: Coco Bond
  12. BAT DICK!!!Or: Two Guys Running from a Bat Monster

I was contacted through my breakfast cereal

One might be asking themselves “How a grown man ends up wasting his time making the best damn magazine on the planet for little to no money?” Oddly enough, I got here from being a weird old grown man with a paranormal radio show.

I met Mark, one of our cohorts, on my radio show, Radio Wasteland. Most of our guests were more into fringe theories and government conspiracies, Mark happened to be on for radio dramas.

I didn’t know at the time, but that planted the seed for me to return to the artsy-fartsy ways of my youth.

I’d gotten the radio show at the beginning of the resurgence of the paranormal stuff. Back when the worst one was chemtrails. It was fun, I was interested.

The issue is, the scene has gone bat shit. It really made me have to start thinking about what I was spending my time doing. You can only spend so many hours having some jackass yell at ya about how the earth is obviously flat before you have to examine your life.

So I started to dive into fiction. Its all I really wanted anyway. My love of paranormal and conspiracy wasnt that I was solving some hidden secret, or answering some devine call; it was that it tickled my imagination.

Now enough time has gone by that I am beginning to love the mysteries of the world again; the little things that might lurk around the corner.

There is a point here. Just last night I heard of two couples that are each on the brink of a divorce because one of them has gone conspiracy crazy. I was asked if I knew of a book, or a therapist, or anything to help these people. I didn’t not.

All I can offer is advice. Unplug yourself for a little while and see if you are happier. See if you can reestablish that fun exciting connection you originally had. At the beginning, everything is fun and this doesn’t have to be your life’s passion. It can be one of many interests.

But most of all I would give the same advice that I’ woul’d give anybody about anything… “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?” Most choices in our lives are not picking between right and wrong or good and bad, they are picking between two bads, or two good, or two rights, or two wrongs. That’s why people make such a big deal of people’s choices. That’s why your character is based on your choices.

Watch the Sky
Interview with Horror Author Gary Raisor
Gary Raisor

Interview with Horror Author Gary Raisor

As a master of horror and dark fantasy, Gary Raisor has spent decades crafting chilling tales that linger long after the final page is turned. With a writing style that blends haunting imagery and compelling characters, Raisor has become a well-respected voice in the genre, known for his ability to tap into the deepest fears and desires of his readers. Join us as we delve into the mind of one of the most talented writers working in the field today.

Where are you from? What is your background?

I was born in a small town in Kentucky. My dad was a farmer. Him and Gramps. Dad was back from WWII and Gramps had retired from making shine. Shine being moonshine. I stayed in the small town, working on farms, until I was nineteen before moving to Chicago. The old saying you can’t keep ‘em down on the farm certainly applied to me. That was quite a change, I can attest to that. Worked odd jobs there while going to college at night. Worked my way into IT business where I stayed for many decades.

What inspired you to become a writer?

That’s a hard one to answer. I just loved reading as a kid. Edgar Rice Burroughs, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne. DC and Marvel comics. Eerie and Creepy mags. One day, shortly after my dad passed, I just decided to give it a shot. Writing took my mind off the sadness over my dad. To my surprise I sold some stories to The Horror Show and Night Cry magazines, and I was on my way.

What was the first thing you remember reading at an early age?

That’s an easy one. The Island Of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells. I was about ten. To quote Cartman from South Park, it warped my fragile little mind.

What performer or artist/writer inspires you the most?

Joe Lansdale. What a writer. Comics, short stories, novels, movie scripts, TV, hell, even poetry, that guy amazes me. He can do it all.

Less Than Human by Gary Raisor

What inspired your books Less than Human and Graven Images?

Less Than Human was a combination of my love for the movie Near Dark and the late Suzy McKee Charnas’ novel The Vampire Tapestry. I thought I could write a gritty vampire novel that was unique to the genre. To my surprise and delight, it was picked up by Berkley Books and went on to be short-listed for the Stoker award.

Graven Images is a mosaic novel compiled from short stories and novellas that had been published throughout my writing career. Stephen King’s Hearts In Atlantis gave me the nerve to try the mosaic novel thing. Making those stories fit together was incredibly difficult, but I persevered.

Do you think your environment, where you live, has an effect on type of art you create?

Sinister Purposes' Maggie and Jesse

I do. I have a pretty good feel for the dark corners of life from my time in Chicago. Working in a factory with the blue-collar folks taught me a lot about how things really work in the U. S. I was exposed to Hispanic and Black culture. And more than a bit of violence on skid row where I sometimes hung out at night. In my part-time job, hustling pool, I’ve had both guns and knives in my face. So my descriptions of the pool halls and stripper bars, places where your feet stick to the floor, isn’t based on some movie or book, it’s based on real life. Mine.

Less Than Human's Steven and Earl

I remember the magazine Night Cry. So cool you were published there. We definitely need more magazines like that.

Those were the golden days. I agree we need more magazines like that. Cemetery Dance has been filling that void for some time now. Richard Chizmar stepped up after David Silva of The Horror Show ceased publishing. Mark Rainyey’s Deathrealm hung in there for quite awhile, too.

What do you think the popular culture will be like in ten years?

Sex robots will take over. The human race will begin to decline in numbers due to no human to human interaction. Am I kidding? Maybe. Maybe not.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve been asked to do in your profession?

Put my signature on a naked girl at a book signing. Yeah, I know, what the hell… but in my defense she had my book.

Night Cry Spet 6 Fall 1986

What projects are you working on now?

Trying to get in on the ground floor of that sex-robot thing. Just kidding. I’m working on a prequel to Less Than Human.

Wanna know more about Gary Raisor?

Gary Raisor
Mother Sky By Mark Slade

Mother. Sky.

By Mark Slade

At first we just laughed at Mr. Sawyer. Paul and I couldn’t believe what he was telling us.

“Well,” he said nervously, chewing on his ink pen and hugging a clipboard to his chest. “Around here,” Mr. Sawyer continued. “It is customary to offer gifts as one is given thanks for what has been given to them.” 

He was a meek, mild man. No taller than five-one with a balding plate and a handlebar mustache. The wire rimmed glasses were bent so much that the frames did not fit correctly on his face.

We were standing in the middle of the front yard. Dead leaves and wirey twigs swirled around us as a cold wind cut through the flesh. The farmhouse was perfectly fine. A two story house with a steeple roof, gable end windows, and a dilapidated veranda. The land it stood on was in ruin. It was hard to believe anything had ever grown on this farm.

We just blinked at Mr. Sawyer.

He struggled to carry on with the conversation, so he changed the direction it was going.

“Well, uh, as you can see, the land will be wonderful for farming.”

“We aren’t going to be farming,” Paul laughed. “I’m building a flower garden here.”

“Oh,” Mr. Sawyer was disappointed. “I see.” He feigned a smile. “To each his own.”

“Absolutely,” Paul said. He touched the small of my back to keep me from giggling. “Mr. Sawyer, do you enjoy board games?”

I stifled a teeter. 

This was Paul’s way of poking fun at people he considered “sticks in the mud”, very uptight people who would bore the bark off trees.

“Why, yes, Mr. Kosskof. Mrs. Sawyer and I enjoy a game of Life, once in a blue moon.”

“Really? You must come over when the house is rebuilt,” Paul said. 

“Rebuilt?” Mr. Sawyer was shocked. “Ohhh, um, the old owners would not like that—”

“Mrs. Kosskof and I enjoy a game of Life, as well.”

Mr. Sawyer blinked. Realizing Paul was putting him on was harsh. Tight lipped, Mr. Sawyer scoffed.

“Yes,” he said, indignant. “Come this way. I’ll show you the shed.”

“Ooooooo…” Paul did his best “Les Nesman” imitation. Mr. Sawyer ignored him. I was fighting back laughter so hard, I almost peed my pants.

We walked several yards to the middle of the distraught land full of vines, patches of grass, and hard soil. There was the shed all by its lonesome. A seven foot by three foot, with a steeple roof. The door was held closed by a chain that would surely turn to dust if it was touched, and a padlock that was a shadow of its former self.

“Looks small,” I said. “What could be stored inside?”

“You’d be surprised,” Mr. Sawyer said.

“Store chicken feed,” Paul said.

“Precisely,” Mr. Sawyer concurred.

A burst of teeters escaped my lips. My hand fell over my lips a second too soon. Mr. Sawyer gave me a cool look. He inhaled and exhaled sharply. We could tell he was not a man who liked good natured joshing.

“One of you is a photographer, I hear?”

“That would be me,” I said. I felt Paul pinch my ass and I squealed, giggled. I turned and fake slapped Paul. He fell into me. I hugged him close. We kissed.

Mr. Sawyer glared at us. Fuming. We could tell he was losing patience with us.

Paul pulled away from me, glared back.

“ Not me,” he said. “ I hate art. I’m a banker. “

“Yes,” Mr. Sawyer gave Paul an icy look. “It’s a very noble profession. Dealing with money. “

“Yep. Beats my part time job,” Paul said. 

“Oh? What would that be?” Mr. Sawyer was interested.

“I’m a stripper at Golden Horse Club off 81.”

Mr. Sawyer was done with Tom foolery.

“I suppose you are ready to go back to the office and sign the paperwork?” He said without looking at me or Paul.

“Of course,” Paul said. “We love this place. Right, honey?”

“Oh, yes,” I said. “Very beautiful. Can’t wait to fix up the house—”

At that moment, I saw fluttering in a dying tree at the edge of the farm itself. In the distance, I could see something sitting on a fragile limb, which was bowing underneath, what I assume, was a bird. An owl, perhaps?

“You see that?” I asked. 

Paul and Mr. Sawyer turned to where I pointed. Mr. Sawyer squinted. Paul stared at the tree for a short time and declared he didn’t see anything.

“Hmm, neither do I,” Mr. Sawyer said.

“An owl,” I said. “I think I saw an owl. The sun on it caused its eyes to glow red.”

“Oh, no, no,” Mr. Sawyer shook his head profusely and chuckled. “Owls do not come out during the daytime, Mrs. Koskoff. At twilight, yes. Nighttime, most definitely. Not in the midday.” He wagged his finger. He turned quickly from us and meandered to his cutlass Lincoln several decades out of fashion. I shot him the bird and Paul laughed. Paul puts his arm around me and we both followed to that dusty blue and white landshark Mr. Sawyer must have bought while he was still in highschool in the late seventies.


Paul brought in the last of the cardboard boxes. He yawned, looked at his phone. 

“Man, we’ve been going at it since seven thirty this morning. It’s already midnight.”

I kissed him, patted him on the butt. “I know you’re tired, honey.”

“No,” he fought off another yawn as he sat in the big rocking chair. “I’m okay. “

“C’mon,” I took him by the hand and tried to pull him up. “ We can finish tomorrow.”

Paul pulled me to him. I fell in his lap with a loud squeal.

I awoke suddenly. A chilly breeze whipped through the open window. At some point Paul must have got up and opened it. I shivered, pulled the blankets to my chin. Still too cold in the bedroom. I decided to close the window myself. I threw the blankets off and rose from the bed.

Paul snored. He stirred slightly, turned over. I smiled. The love of life. Snoring and farting in his sleep.

I padded barefoot on the ice cold floorboards toward the window, the bowing wood planks creaked. The breeze blew back my hair, causing the flimsy  green, see-through nightgown to swirl around me. 

I stopped dead when I saw those florid red eyes staring back at me.

A thin, bald man with pointed ears was crouched on the roof, looking in the bedroom. His wings were pulled in close to his hairy torso. His claws were mounted on the window seal for safe perch. He opened his mouth to reveal a forked tongue. Words were spoken, but they were not heard by my ears. No. They flooded my mind, reverberation that caused me to fall to my knees.

My bulging eyes still tested on the winged man. His eyes lit red, seemed to fade and heighten with every word communicated. 

I heard the voice crooned in a morosely, emotionless tone. 

Mother. Sky.

Savage torpor. 

Soil bleeds

a thin veil.

Last sigh.





Into a thin veil.

Mother. Sky.

Savage torpor.

The voice stopped.

The window slammed shut.

I awoke choking. I sat up in bed and spat out dry, crisp soil. I felt the particles dribble down my chin to  my neck. I cried out, and Paul ran to my bedside.

“What?” He asked in a panic. “What is it?” 

I burst into tears, so bed hard. I could taste the soil, felt it on my tongue. I tried to speak, but my weeping got in the way of forming coherent sentences.

Finally, Paul was able to calm me down. I told him all about the dream.

He shrugged, nodded. “I don’t know what it all means,” he said. “Sounds terrifying.”

“For some reason I feel that… thing was trying to earn me.”

“His verse has such a minimalist style,” Paul laughed. 

“Paul,” I furrowed my brow and chided him. “I’m serious.”

“I know. I understand you’re pretty shaken up by it. Just try to forget it. Just dream,” he kissed me softly. “ Nothing more.”

I sighed, nodded. “You’re right. Paul?”


“Did you open the window last night?”


I was looking for more closet space to store my extra cameras when a box fell from the top shelf. It was a puzzle. Five hundred pieces. I was intrigued. The cover was of the shed on the farm. 

I took the puzzle to the kitchen table, dumped the contents and spread them out. One piece caught my eye immediately. Two red glowing eyes. I slid the other pieces away leaving the two red eyes by themselves. I glared at it; and remembered the dream, the voice that delivered that haunting verse. The eyes flashed at me. 

I shook it off. The voice left my mind. The verse faded out. The red eyes went back to being two dimensional cardboard.

I heard Paul screaming my name. I ran outside and saw Paul with a shovel in his hands, staring at the ground. 

“What is it?” I asked, breathless from my jog.

“This,” he pointed to the area missing grass. “Look.”

Blood bubbled to the top of the soil where the shovel cut into.

“What the hell?” I said. I knelt, touched the oozing red with a finger. Red liquid smeared my index finger.

“When I dug into the ground,” Paul swallowed hard. “I heard a voice scream out.”

“No way!” I exclaimed.

“Oh, yes,” Paul drew in a quick breath. “Then Moaning and weeping. This is the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me.”

“No doubt,” I said.

When I looked back down, the bleeding had stopped. The soil didn’t even have a cut from the shovel. It was like… like it had healed itself. 

I stood quickly and pointed. Without even speaking, Paul dropped the shovel. He fell to his knees. With both hands in sweeping motions, Paul felt the ground, disturbing dried dirt clogs.

“No,” he said. “No. No. No. What the fuck is going on?”

“I—” the words wouldn’t come. “I’m not sure…”

I helped him to his feet. Paul burst into tears. He wept hard. I pulled him to me, wrapped my arms around his neck and back. His sobbing was muffled with his face buried into my neck and breasts, I felt his cold tears sting the skin.


I took a shower and was drying off when I caught a vision of myself in the long mirror in the bedroom. I liked the idea I still had a good body even though I was over thirty. Paul liked it too.  We’d been busy the past two weeks, too busy for sex. But yesterday he was more than in the mood. My breasts were still firm, and I had an urge to make sure they were 

But something strange happened. 

In the mirror image I saw two burning red eyes appear under the skin of my midsection. I gasped and moved my hand there. 

The eyes disappeared.


We didn’t talk for two days. Neither of us had slept in two days. Both of us were disheveled, Paul with two beard, me: with tangled hair, splotchy skin; both of us with dark circles under our eyes.

He was obsessed with the ground. He would lie on his belly and place his face to the ground, watching intently for hours at a time. Paul wanted to see if it bled again.

I sat at the kitchen table and worked on the puzzle. I don’t remember eating. I don’t remember being hungry. I’d completed half of the puzzle. Took a lot of concentration. I mostly stared at the cardboard pieces. Hypnotized by those red eyes.

The farmhouse was now visible, as was the shed. The pieces fit together easily. No matter if we’re not meant to be. I purposely connected ones that were shaped out of place, and they melded together. I touched the cardboard as they morphed together, the thick cardboard felt fleshy.

The backdoor opened and slammed shut. Paul came into the kitchen looking very angry.

He glared at me., breathing heavy, wringing his hands.

“All you do is fiddle with that stupid puzzle,” he said.

I sighed, pushed a few pieces next to each other to see if they belonged together.

“Looked like you were busy out there,” I said calmly. “ I didn’t want to disturb you.”

“You never pay attention to me,” I said. My voice was monotone.

“You never cared about me!” He screamed.

Without warning, Paul swiped the puzzle and all the loose pieces off the table. They landed on the floor.

I slowly raised my eyes to him. We glared at each other. 

“Do you feel better?” I asked. 

“ I feel ANGRY!” He screamed, making his hands into claws. “I can’t stand the way you ignore me!”

“I do not ignore you,” I said. 

Paul started pacing again, wringing his hands. 

“You don’t care about what’s happening to my garden. You don’t care about the bank, what I go through to make us comfortable.”

“That’s not true, Paul.”

“You only care about you and what’s going on in your small world!”

Suddenly, his attention was drawn from me. 

I follow his gaze. A woman in a black dress down to her black shoes is standing outside their window. A black veil hides her face. Beside her was a disfigured man, with no hair. His features were twisted as if he’d eaten a lemon. That’s not the strangest thing about him. He had no eyes. He was very short legs and hobbled. His upper bad was very large, barrel chested,  in  a jacket, white shirt and black tie. His arms were longer than the rest of him, and according to the deep lines in the dirt, he’d used his oversized hands to push himself along as transport. 

“Oh no,” Paul said, his voice shaky. “They’re here. They’re here.”

“Who are those people?” I asked. 

“They’re here,” he repeated. He walked in circles, wringing his hands.

“Well who are they? What do they want?” I said, following him. 

“You know who they are!” Paul whined. “You know what they want! You won’t give it to them because you’re too selfish! They are here to take what they fucking want, you selfish bitch!”

I gasped. I was shocked at the way he was acting, and the way he spoke to me.

“Paul, you have never talked to me like that,” I said.

Paul burst into tears and ran out the backdoor, waving his hands and yelling at the strange woman and man. 

“It’s not my fault! It’s hers! She doesn’t care about anyone!”

I trotted after him. “Paul! Stop acting so crazy!”

“I didn’t do anything! I swear!”

He ran straight into the man and woman, and they faded away. Tiny particles that had made up their physical appearance dissipated into nothingness.

Paul fell to his knees and sobbed. I helped him up and put him to bed. He slept for twelve hours. When I checked on him, he was sweating profusely and his body jerked in crazy animations. He kept  mumbling in his sleep, “Don’t leave. Please. Mother. Sky. Mother.Sky. Mother. Sky Don’t leave.”


I fell asleep at the kitchen table. A loud banging woke me. I raised my head, looked around. Hard cardboard was stuck to my right cheek. I blinked twice and smacked the puzzle piece away.

I went to the window and saw Paul hammering at the doorknob on the shed. I ran out the door, and screamed, 

“What the hell are you doing?”

He stopped, glared at me and hit the doorknob one more time before explaining.

“He’s in there and this stupid fucking door won’t open!”

He went back to weiding the hammer wildly, missing the doorknob more than hitting his target. 

I folded my, padded slowly, barefoot on the cold ground. 

“Paul,” I said gently. “Put the hammer down, honey “

Very weird. The doorknob was not affected by the hammering.

He turned to me, and snarled. He had a strange glint in his eyes, and I swear I saw the pupils flash red before he stepped toward me.

“Put the hammer down?” Paul said.”Put the hammer down? Do you realize how important it is to me to get inside that shed? To see him?”

“Paul… stop. You’re scaring me.”

I backpedaled from him. He swung the hammer casually, not aiming for anything. We did this weird ritual for a while, until I sprinted to the house. Paul chased me, still swinging the hammer. 

“Stop this,Paul!” I told him. “You’re acting crazy!”

I made it inside the porch,  slammed the door in his face. Instead of opening the door he knocked out the mesh wiring and opened the door from the opposite direction. I ran into the house and locked the door with the deadbolt.

“You’re acting like a selfish bitch!” I heard him say, his voice muffled  “You don’t want me to go in the shed! You want me all for yourself!”

The front door flew open. I didn’t wait to see if he was inside the house or analyze why the door opened by itself when no forced entry occurred, nor did I see the deadbolt unhitch itself. I ran quickly. 

I ran to the bedroom and locked it. I waited. No footsteps. No one spoke. Just irregular breathing. 

Then I heard a flutter of wings. I spun around and saw that winged man sitting inside the open window, his flashing red hot to deep milky black, as if he was sending me signals.


I awoke, my head pounding, and I was lying on the floor. I sat up and my hands automatically felt my swollen belly. My unborn child was silent. My belly felt red hot.

“I had a dream,” Paul said. 

His voice was jarring. I had no idea he was there sitting on the bed. He was solemn, staring  out into nothing. He spoke slowly with long pauses.

He continued. 

“We were out in the garden. Standing there, permanent twilight, with a man  named Sawyer. He spoke, but his voice was detached from his moving lips, always seconds behind. He left us and we went inside the house and we never left.” His eyes slowly moved toward me. “You told me you didn’t want me anymore, or the house, our life. The baby.”

“There is no baby,” I said.

“I know,” Paul said.

“It was just a dream.”

“I know.”

“Paul, I would never say that,” I struggled to get to my feet and I sat on the bed next to him. “ I love you,” 

I kissed him on the cheek and I felt how cold his skin was. I could see the bone structure of his jaw and how hollow his eye sockets were, no eyeballs. Just a black chasm. I drew back. I saw how thin the flesh on his face was. 

“No you don’t,” Paul stood, and walked out of the bedroom.

“What is going on?” I said.

I heard the front door open and slam shut. Through the window, I saw Paul cross the front yard, trek to the shed. He stood there a moment and started to weep. He placed his hand on the doorknob. The door opened on its own. Paul went inside and the door shut behind him. 

“Paul!” I screamed. “Paul!”

I ran out of the house, to the shed. I opened the door with ease 

Paul wasn’t there. 

Nothing was there. 

I felt myself hyperventilating. I backed away, turned on my heels and ran into the woman in the long black dress. I screamed and fell to my knees. I wept hard. Sobbed hysterically into my hands.

Her strangely uneven limbed friend shuffled up behind me. He helped me to a standing position. The woman lifted her black veil slightly. Her lips moved, her calm, serene voice soundless, yet the words filled my mind.

I looked at my big round belly. The skin was fire red, and those two eyes burned bright. The child was coming anytime. I could tell. 

 They led me back to the house. I stopped at the kitchen table, placed the last piece in the puzzle. I was standing out in a full garden, trees and flowers in bloom. The Shed was a few feet from us, and the ground bled beneath our feet. The woman in the long black dress stood to my right and the man stood to my left. The woman had her arm around my shoulders. The winged man was perched in a tree behind us, his eyes glowing red. 

I heard the winged man’s voice as the woman in the black dress led me upstairs to the bedroom.

Mother. Sky.

Mother Sky
Burlesque Alegria del Sol

Pinup: Alegria del Sol

Where are you from? What is your background?

I was born and raised in Switzerland but my Roots are from Spain and Italy. I was also raised with three languages. Spanish, Italian and German.

What inspired you to become a model?

First and foremost, I see myself more as a burlesque performer than as a model, but since I really like playing in front of the camera, I enjoy photographing myself in different emotions.

What are the pluses and minuses of modeling?

I would rate it positively that you get a different kind of attention. You are perceived differently than in everyday life. You have an almost unlimited freedom to unfold on stage as you feel. In this sparkling world I was able to get to know and love beautiful souls. From which wonderful friendships could develop.

The flip side of the coin is that in order to perform at a high level, you have to work your ass off almost every day. The elaborate costumes, as well as the training sessions and workshops are very expensive

What performer or artist/writer inspires you the most?

Definitely Chris Oh. He’s my burlesque crush.

What other areas of art are you involved in?

I’m a burlesque dancer. Also make-up artist and create my own costumes.

Do you think your environment, where you live, has an effect on type of art you create?

That definitely. Switzerland is a very small, modest and reserved country. I would say she’s not quite ready for what burlesque has to offer to the fullest. However, the industry has been growing in recent years.

Burlesque Alegria del Sol
Burlesque Alegria del Sol

What long term goals do you have?

I would love to run my own burlesque bar in the old town of Zurich, or at least be a part of it. I would also like to gain international fame and perform on the big stages and give them all the love I have.

What do you think the popular culture will be like in ten years?

That’s a question I can’t answer because I never look that far into the future. The present has so much to offer and in the end, everything turns out differently one way or another.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve been asked to do in your profession?

I was once asked if I would send my worn underwear to someone for money. That was definitely the weirdest question I’ve ever been asked.

What projects are you working on now?

I am currently working on my costume and my solo which I will be presenting in a super exclusive bar in early spring. There is also another project running with six wonderful women, which is still in the early stages.

Suspense: Radio’s Outstanding theater of Thrills!

By Wesley Critchfield

In 1940 Alfred Hitchcock took to the radio. He had been called upon to help kickstart a new program.  He would direct the Pilot or “audition show” himself, featuring an adaptation of a story he had tackled during the silent film era called “The Lodger” about a family who believes that the man renting their attic rooms just might be Jack The Ripper.

So began a series that would run on the radio for nearly twenty two years, “a program designed to intrigue you and stir your nerves, to offer you a precarious situation and then… without the solution, until the last possible moment. [A program] well calculated to keep you in… SUSPENSE!!!”

Suspense would run mostly as a “Summer replacement show” for a couple of years, but it was in 1942 when it gained a sponsor, (ROMA Wines and later Auto-Lite Automotive Supplies,) that the show really began to walk, and became a staple of CBS’s weekly line up. Before long every star in Hollywood, and New York wanted to be a part of the show.  Every week a guest star or two would make an appearance, often taking roles as a killer or a man (or woman) on the run, portraying a persona often very different from the ones they may have been known for on screen. 

Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock

Comedians such as Danny Kaye, Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, and Fibber McGee and Molly would make appearances on the show in dramatic roles, with very little “funny” about them. While dramatic stars would reaffirm their talents to a listening audience, using only the power of their voice.

Being an anthology, every episode offered a new scenario and a new cast of characters, and most of the stories were originals, though occasionally an episode would be an adaptation of a popular short story. 

Perhaps Suspense’s most famous original story was a presentation called “Sorry Wrong Number.” It was first presented in 1943 with Agnes Moorehead, (later known to TV fans as Endora, Samantha’s Mother on Bewitched).  The story features a bed bound woman who accidentally overhears a conversation over the telephone through a set of crossed wires or partyline, having caught only a part of the conversation, she quickly begins to believe that someone is about to be murdered… And it might just be her!

Agnes Moorehead
Agnes Moorehead

The show was an immediate success and the episode would be repeated many times throughout the history of the show, most of the time with Moorehead returning to reprise the character.

Suspense Radio’s Outstanding theater of Thrills

The Story would later be adapted into a feature film starring Barbra Stanwick and Burt Lancaster, with a very different ending. 

(On a personal note, “Sorry Wrong Number” is probably one of my least favorite episodes of the series. The story goes on for far too long, and the main character is annoying and it doesn’t take very long to see why someone might want to rid themselves of her. In modern parlance, she is very much an unlikable “Karen,” who actually calls up the Operator at the phone company and asks to speak with the Manager several times… I am not kidding.  And while Agnes plays the part well, as written, her performance is very nerve jangling, but for all the wrong reasons, and before long she becomes the vocal equivalent of nails on a Chalkboard.)

Quite a few episodes of the show would go on to live lives beyond the program, perhaps most notably “The Hitchhiker” from 1942 starring Orson Welles, would later be adapted by The Twilight Zone, and it could be argued the story was altered and expanded into the questionable horror classic “Carnival Of Souls” having much of the same story line and resolution, (though no such official connection has ever been admitted to my knowledge.)

For a while seeking to be something like “Inner Sanctum” a mystery program on NBC, the show was hosted by “The Man in Black” but soon this gimmick fell by the wayside and we were greeted only by a deep voiced announcer, (very often Paul Frees of later “Rocky and Bullwinkle” and Ludwig Von Drake fame, or William (Bill) Conrad later to be known for “Jake and the Fat Man.”)

Much like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, which would not hit the TV airwaves until 1955, Suspense largely shied away from stories of the supernatural or “weird tales,” the stories were almost exclusively about men and women who either made a mistake, or got involved with something they shouldn’t have, or who had committed a murder in a fit of rage. 

One episode that has stuck with me for decades now is called “The Earth is Made of Glass” a story of a man who sets out to commit “a Laboratory Murder” a random act of violence that he is sure will never come back to bite him, and for which even his conscience will have no ammunition to bring him to justice. 

Alfred Hitchcock Presents

The resolution of that story while mostly explained away as psychological bares elements of the supernatural. 

That and two other stories are highlights. 

In “The House in Cypress Canyon,” a couple buy a new home, only to find it is haunted and slowly begin to lose their minds.  While no explanation is given for the haunting, both the acting and sound effects make for a very spooky ride, while most modern listeners may not be familiar with its star Robert Taylor, it does have an appearance by Hans Conreied, who would later become known as the voice of Disney’s Captain Hook, and the Host of Jay Ward’s “Fractured Flickers.”

The second is the aptly titled “Ghost Hunt” this story was presented in 1949 starring Ralph Richardson and it could be argued that between it and “The War of the Worlds” (1938) it largely invented the “Found Footage” (in this case, audio) genre.  In the story a radio DJ and a Professor explore a Haunted House with deadly consequences.  In keeping with its “non-horror” flavor of the show at large, a logical explanation is offered by the end, but questions remain.

Recently I saw a BBC 1 production from 1992 called Ghostwatch, (a program that aired on Halloween Night and caused something of a commotion, not unlike the War of The Worlds panic in 1938) and it followed much the same pattern as this classic episode. 

Suspense itself would run for nearly 20 years on the CBS radio network, and was one of the last shows to finally be canceled in 1962, marking the end of the “Golden Age of Radio” 

A Television show based on the radio series made it to air and lived on TV for 6 seasons, (much of it can currently be seen on Tubi) and though it never had nearly as much star power as the original radio show enjoyed during its run. 

Its hard to recommend the series as a whole, as it has few to no recurring characters and the quality can vary from show-to-show, and year-to-year, and its strongest time was probably between 1942 and 1955 some of the stories across 20 years of weekly content can get a little repetitive and predictable, being that the show had to set up and complete a new story every week in less than 30 minutes, but most of the stories do indeed deliver on the promise of the show.

On the whole I give the series an 8 out of 10, with many episodes hitting a 10 and beyond. If you are looking for a series that promises entertainment and a “stirring of the nerves” Suspense delivers! 

Suspense Logo

A short list of my favorite episodes (in no particular order:)

  • “The Earth is Made of Glass” with Joseph Cotton (Ep 160)
  • “Consequence” with James Stewart
  • “Mission Completed” with James Stewart
  • “Backseat Driver” with Fibber McGee and Molly
  • “A Little Piece of Rope” with Lucille Ball 
  • “A Too Perfect Alibi” with Danny Kaye
  • “I Never Met the Dead Man” with Danny Kaye
  • “The Black Curtain” with Robert Montgomery
  • “Deep Into Darkness” with Douglas Fairbanks Jr
  • “Dead Ernest” (A story of Catalepsy) 
  • “Donavan’s Brain” with Orson Welles (also was later adapted into a Major Motion Picture)
  • “The Black Curtain” with Cary Grant
  • “Give Me Liberty” with William Powell
  • “The Hitch-hiker” with Orson Welles
  • “Death Has A Shadow” with Bob Hope
  • “The House in Cypress Canyon” with Rober Taylor and Hans Conried.
[Editorial Note—We here at Screaming Eye Press love OTR (Old Time Radio) and highly recommend Suspense as well. All existing episodes of Suspense, as well as most OTR series, are available on the Internet Archive for free]
The Crypto Crew Thomas Marcum

Interview with The Crypto Crew Founder, Thomas Marcum

By Lucy Hall 

The Crypto Crew is a professional organization dedicated to investigating, experiencing, and documenting paranormal activity and cryptozoology. There have always been parallels with cryptozoology, ghost hunting, and ufology and many research teams include all these fields in their work.

However, there are many attributes that set the Crypto Crew apart from other researchers. The organization gives deference to every report of a sighting, they are skilled investigators who have mastered a wide range of disciplines. They are passionate and sincere in their belief and the work they do. They also work in true crime and missing person fields.

Thomas Marcum

The Crypto Crew’s mission is to promote scientific inquiry into currently unexplained phenomena while providing thought-provoking, well-researched and accurate information. The organization was founded in 2011 by leader/founder Thomas Marcum. The team members are based in several states in the US and Canada.

Marcum has over twenty-five years of experience investigating unexplained activity, he has a unique approach to his work and is skilled in investigations, field research, video, terminology, and the history of the field. He is a nature and wildlife enthusiast with many years of experience hunting, fishing, and hiking, these abilities have also proven useful in his fieldwork and study of cryptids. He is also a trained wildland firefighter, and a published photographer, author, filmmaker, and poet. 

Twisted Pulp: As the founder and leader of the cryptozoology and paranormal research organization, The Crypto Crew tell me how it all started? When did you first get into exploring these fields?

Thomas Marcum: For me, it was a progression. When I was young, pre-teen, I saw some odd lights in the evening sky. That got me interested in UFOs and over the years it went to ghosts and then to Bigfoot and other cryptids. For years, I research Bigfoot not knowing there was a large community of other researchers and enthusiast. I finally took my research and love of the unknown to the worldwide web back in 2011, when I started our website

Twisted Pulp: What is The Crypto Crew and how does it differ from other cryptozoology and paranormal groups?

Thomas Marcum: We are a research and investigative team that cover everything from bigfoot to UFOs. We also do some work in the true crime and missing person fields. What makes us different is that we do our best to not over-sensationalize our reports or research. And many of us actually do “boots on the ground” research while other members do deep dives with internet searches and background information. We also work with other teams and our ultimate goal is to provide good information. 

Twisted Pulp: As the founder, you are based in the Appalachian Mountains. Do you have researchers as part of your organization from other regions? 

Thomas Marcum: Yes, we have people in 4 different states and researchers in Canada. At one time we had people in 11 different states, but sadly we had a couple of them pass away and a few that lost interest in the subject. Right now, in the States, we have people in Oregon, Kentucky, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Virginia. 

Twisted Pulp: As a researcher from the Appalachians, how widespread is the belief in cryptids in the region? Which cryptid is the most distinctly Appalachian?

Thomas Marcum: The belief in bigfoot is growing in the Appalachian area and it seems people are more willing to talk about sightings than ever before. As for the most distinctive, that is a hard question as it depends on where you are at. It seems each area has some kind of odd creature or story. The Pope Lick Monster, Sheepsquatch, Giant Catfish, and Black Panthers are just a few that would be more Appalachian pacific.

Twisted Pulp: Do you have a favorite cryptid or paranormal phenomenon that you personally specialize in? And why?

Thomas Marcum: I spend massive amounts of time in the mountains looking for Bigfoot evidence. I would say Bigfoot is my favorite. I just want to find out more about these creatures. I also just enjoy being in the forest. I find it relaxing and a way to recharge myself. 

Twisted Pulp: Have you personally encountered a cryptid or paranormal entity?

Thomas Marcum: Yes, to both. I have had a few visual sightings of Bigfoot. The last was back in 2021 when a friend and I looked at, what we assume, was a young Bigfoot through a pair of binoculars. The sighting lasted several minutes. As for the paranormal I have seen full-body apparitions, heard disembodied voices, been touched by an entity, and camera pull on by an entity. We lived in a house that had activity and one night myself, my wife, and my young son saw a full-body apparition walk past a doorway and down the hall. I wrote a book about all the activities entitled “My Haunted House and Other Weird Tales”. 

Twisted Pulp: How do you typically prepare for an investigation? How does an investigation influence the type of equipment you use?

Thomas Marcum: Before going to a location, bigfoot or paranormal, we try to gather as much information as possible from the witness about the sighting/location. Anytime we do a paranormal investigation there is a lot more gear we have to take with us. Meters, cameras, recorders, and various other items are used. When we go on a bigfoot investigation we don’t use as many gadgets but depending on the report there are some things we have to take. Cameras are standard gear for us so we can document the area and conduct witness interviews. Background information research about the area, be it paranormal or a bigfoot report, is pretty standard for us as well. When I’m in the woods doing research I normally carry enough plaster in my backpack to make a track casting of a footprint. Things like a tape measure, a small shovel, and a fire starter are just a few things I take into the woods with me. 

Twisted Pulp: Do you have a favorite investigation?

Thomas Marcum: We have investigated a lot of great places for paranormal activity but my favorite place would be the Benham Theater in Benham, Kentucky. It has a fantastic history and at one time was kind of a safe haven for local residents. For many years it sit decaying but was beautifully restored. It also has a lot of paranormal activity and I just felt a connection there.

As for the Bigfoot investigation, I don’t think I have a favorite, I like them all. 

Twisted Pulp: What is the best evidence you have found so far in your career? Or, did you ever have any moments when you thought you may be close to finding a cryptid?

Thomas Marcum: I do not doubt that Bigfoot is real. I have seen it, tracked it, heard it speak, and found hundreds of foot tracks. I captured a picture of bigfoot on a game camera back in 2013, and have a track casting from what is most likely the bigfoot in the picture. There is a ton of evidence for the existence of bigfoot, and getting people to accept that evidence is the problem. 

Twisted Pulp: Have you experienced any dangerous moments?

Oh yes. One time I was face to face with a mother bear and her four cubs. We were less than 10 feet apart, probably about 5 feet to be honest. We looked each other in the eyes. She and her cubs went back up the mountain but I stayed in the area for another hour or more. I could hear them moving around up above me but she gave me space. I have also been around many venomous snakes, that is just part of it, living in the Kentucky mountains. This area also has some dangerous terrain with steep mountains, slick rocks, caves, and more. 

Twisted Pulp: What is the strangest thing that has ever happened during an investigation?

Thomas Marcum: That is a tough question for me as I have had many weird things happen. Hearing the bigfoot talk was one of the strangest things for me at the time. The creature was fairly close but I could not make out any words. It was clearly speech but I could not understand it. At the time it was pretty frightening. The creature was in a growth of thick laurel bushes, about 25-30 yards away. I was setting up a game camera and I think the creature had been following me as I explored the area. As for the paranormal, many strange things. I guess the big flash of light we caught on camera at the Benham Theater was the oddest. It was almost like a firework going off. It is in our film, Benham Theater: Specters of the Stage (available on Tubi TV and many other places). 

Twisted Pulp: What would be the biggest paranormal myth you would like to debunk and is there one that you think the community should be spending more time on?

Thomas Marcum One myth is that some believe ghosts only come out at night, this is not true. The activity is there in the daytime as well. The one thing we all should be spending more time on is sound, vibration, and frequency. 

Twisted Pulp: Reflecting on all the increase in evidence, improvements in technology and the rise in the use of surveillance cameras and the internet, which cryptic species or paranormal occurrences do you believe have the best chance of being proven in the near future?

Thomas Marcum: Bigfoot and Black Panthers (living in areas where they should not be) could be the next ones. When it comes to Bigfoot, I think the evidence is there already but the acceptance has not come yet. Just like it was with UFOs. The evidence was there and many already knew but until the government admitted it, it was still kind of taboo for many people. 

Twisted Pulp: With that said, due to the internet, you must get a lot of requests. How do you choose the cases you will investigate?

Thomas Marcum: We do get some requests and the freshness of the report can influence how soon we investigate. On a local level, here in Kentucky, we have so many reports and haunted locations, that we can stay busy for a long time. Of course, some reports we just can’t investigate as they can be in an area where we don’t have a local investigator or it would require several hours of driving. Even if we can’t investigate, we still want to document all the details we can from the witness. 

Twisted Pulp: You have written several books over the years, you are a photographer and filmmaker, and in 2014, you were the winner of the paranormal award for both picture of the year and investigator of the year. What do you consider your greatest accomplishment in the field? Any highlights to share?

Thomas Marcum: Tough question for me. I would say my greatest accomplishment is personal growth… probably not the answer you were looking for but learning new things is an accomplishment. Highlights for me would be meeting some supporters at events. Seeing people who are passionate about the subject and what I do is a blessing. I never would have thought people would be excited to meet me, I’m very appreciative and humbled. 
My film Bigfoot: The Legend is Real ( is a highlight for me as far as filmmaking goes. When compared to past films, I feel I have done a much better job putting it together and it shows my growth as a filmmaker. I still have a lot of room for growth. 

Twisted Pulp: What advice would you give to a person interested in pursuing cryptozoology and paranormal investigating? 

Thomas Marcum: Learn all you can. For cryptozoology, learn about zoology and all the animals. Learn how to identify tracks and known animal behavior. Learn some survival skills and first aid. Study historical reports and sightings. Basic tree identification is helpful. Paranormal – study historical reports, and learn about all the equipment used in investigations. Study sound and frequencies.

In both fields, you need some basic camera and interview skills. You also need to keep good records of investigations. You need to know how to do record searches on the property, and how to do deep dives on the internet and sift through archives. 

Twisted Pulp: Any upcoming events or recent discoveries to share with us?

Thomas Marcum: I normally don’t do a lot of events as I don’t have the time but I do have something scheduled for 2023. Barring any setbacks, I will be a speaker at The Kentucky Bigfoot Conference in the fall of 2023. (

I’m also currently working on several new films and a book. I recently discovered some bigfoot tracks while out in the mountains. 

The study of cryptozoology has been highly criticized from its beginnings due to relying on anecdotal information, lack of critical media coverage, various false claims revealed, and the portrayal of cryptozoologists as “monster hunters”. Another reason is that cryptozoologists investigate animals that most scientists believe are unlikely to have existed and they think cryptologists do not follow the scientific method. This is not true because in parallel with the growing importance of the scientific approach to be creditable, the advancements in technology, and the rise in the use of severance cameras; cryptozoologists are now beginning to obtain more concrete evidence. There are millions of species that have been given scientific names, thousands more are added to the list every year. Given the expanses of our world, the unexplored jungles, and the deep oceans for example, how many more elusive creatures are dodging discovery but will soon be found? It is very exciting to imagine all the mysterious and fabulous creatures that may be real and are awaiting discovery. So, the truth is that cryptozoology although coined by critics to be a pseudo-science is a necessary pursuit in scientific discovery today. Current and ever-growing attempts to create more scientific approaches have led to cryptozoology becoming more than just “monster hunting” and more of a valid science field. After decades of work the scientists may not be the ones who succeed in the first-hand discovery of some new species, maybe it will be the cryptozoologists who end up confirming their existence. Keep your eyes and ears on The Crypto Crew because they may be the very paranormal seekers who solve the mystery and make history.

Are you curious about what might be found lurking in the woods just beyond your backyard? Have you experienced some paranormal activity? You can check out the Crypto Crew’s official site to make a report, meet the team, read their crypto files, see the video series, read book/movie reviews, and check out their merchandise.

The Crypto Crew Official Site:

Interview with the Crypto Crew Founder Thomas Marcum
The Shaggs

The Shaggs

By Jessica Ann Catena

I was recently recommended to hear and share my opinion of 1969 band The Shaggs. Before listening to their music, I found mixed reviews by a generation of fans and celebs. There was only one thing left for me to do: have my ears try to pick up on their underground appeal.

Band Bio

Originating from Fremont, NH, Austin Wiggin Jr. was given three palm reading premonitions by his mother: marrying a strawberry blonde, having two sons born after she dies, and daughters play in a famous rock band. When those first two came true, Austin obsessively formed three of his daughters into a trio acoustic band; eldest daughter Helen was the drummer, Dorothy (aka “Dot)” on lead guitar/vocals/songwriter, younger sister Betty would sing along with Dot and played rhythm guitar. They liked hearing Herman’s Hermits and Ricky Nelson, but had no interest in pursuing music whatsoever.

All 3 teenage girls became registered under Chicago’s mail-order American Home School, and were resorted to calisthenics inbetween. Named after 1959 Disney movie The Shaggy Dog, and a 1960s hair style, The Shaggs practiced at Fremont’s Town Hall for 5 years. Including all of the Wiggin family, matriarch Annie handled ticket sales and refreshments, Austin the III would play maracas, his younger brother Robert had a tambourine, and youngest sister Rachel would sometimes join playing bass guitar. Completely ridiculed, the audience talked through songs, heckled, and threw things at them. Their only album Philosophy of the World (1969) was recorded at Fleetwood Studios in Revere, MA. Because of never having official music lessons nor allowed going to concerts, the tracks sound like a garage band amplified rehearsals of off-key singing and out of tune instruments. You’re either perplexed this was taking seriously, or somehow intrigued by the girls’ efforts of pleasing their father. Unfortunately after all that effort, The Shaggs obtained 100/1000 album copies they were promised, and the distributor kept Austin’s money for himself. Escaping physical and verbal abuse from her father, Helen Wiggin eloped and left home after he found out. Austin stopped talking to her for months, but that guilt caught up with him and he had a fatal heart attack in 1975.

The Shaggs


The Shaggs’ disbanded following his death, yet developed unexpected fans decades later. Betty and Dot both moved out once they were married too, and their mom Annie sold the home. There were never any legal documents signed for royalties, so for extra income The Shaggs’ each sold their music equipment. When the homeowners moved into the Wiggins’ home, Fremont’s residents rumored Austin’s ghost haunted there. Starting anew, Fremont Fire Department burnt it down and the property got reconstructed. The Shaggs’ original members did a 1999 reunion appearance at NRBQ’s 30th Anniversary concert. Helen Wiggin suffered from depression shortly after, passed away in 2006. Reports show that Helen relied on disability and never wanted to hear music since her father’s death. It’d be awful to think her marriage confession led to her father’s death. Betty’s husband died in a motorcycle accident in 1993, which has influenced her interest hearing country music. Dot and Betty performed a set at 2017’s Solid Sound Festival, as well as a track from Dot Wiggin Band’s solo singing album Ready! Get! Go! (2013). Currently there’s over 100 TikTok videos with #TheShaggs. Considering TikTok’s music boost history over the past 4 years, can you imagine The Shaggs being the next comeback everybody’s listening to?!

The Shaggs

Rockers Testimonials

While the majority and Rolling Stone tagged The Shaggs as “The worst band in the world,” others disagree. Frank Zappa said they were “better than The Beatles,” Nirvana’s late frontman Kurt Corbain rated them in his top 5, and rock band NRBQ tracked down Philosophy of the World to get re-released in 1980. On top of that, songs that didn’t make the cut on there were put on a second album: Shaggs’ Own Thing (1982), and a musical biopic was in the works as of 2018. Wonder if it will happen and if any remixes would be marketed as a soundtrack.

The Shaggs

Artist Review

So what are my thoughts about The Shaggs? I give Helen, Dot, and Betty credit for putting up with their father’s strict behavior. Despite trying to work the best of their abilities, the lyrics Dot came up with at times were profound. “Philosophy of the World” dictated dissatisfaction people find opposite of themselves, “We Have a Savior” reassures isolation through prayer, “Things I Wonder” ponder life’s unanswered questions, “Who Are Parents?” represented teen rebellion and practically pre-punk themes. There were certain parts I found myself liking the guitars strumming at the intro and end of songs. Because of that, I wondered how The Shaggs would’ve done as a jam band, (as in no singing). The one song that stood out to me was “Wheels”—Track 2 off Shaggs’ Own Thing (1982). Running just 1 minute-and-19-seconds, the track’s instrumental of groovy guitar licks and rhythmic drumming that sounded in sync! What a sign of the times how $60/hour funded The Shaggs’ studio time of them “playing” authentic. Compared to the digital era we’ve been living in, it’s an experience looking back at anything coming out before the 21st century. Though not reaching other sisters bands success like Heart or HAIM, The Shaggs’ backstory is definitely one to be retold for an interesting unusual piece of music history.

The Shaggs
Curse of the Black Buddha by Chauncey Haworth

Curse of the Black Buddha

by Chauncey Haworth

The winter night was cold as the men trudged through the dense forest behind enemy lines. The trees were tall and dark, their branches barren and twisted, casting deep shadows on the snow covered forest floor. They moved with caution, with purpose, their boots sinking into the thick layer of snow with muffled crackling sounds. The only light came from the moon, partially obscured by the clouds, casting a pale glow over everything.

There were four of them in this detached fireteam from the 38th Infantry. Lancelot the rifleman, Buffalo Joe the grenadier, Batshit the machine gunner, and team leader Mamma.

Mamma led the way, a stoic, brick of a man with few words, but every word he ever uttered was important, and every man knew to follow. Mamma was just a Corporal, just the leader of this fireteam, yet every man knew he was destined to be a leader long before the war. They could see it in his cold, focused eyes.

Batshit flanked Mamma as they crept along the barely visible path. Batshit was the team’s automatic rifleman. His name, an accurate representation of how he handled his weapon and how he lived his life. No rules except one, do as Mamma says, otherwise, it’s all fair game.

Behind was Buffalo Joe, the grenadier. Buffalo’s focus was immense, a combination of an acute mind and deep traumatic fear. For many, the paranoia that fear and intellect creates is their downfall, for Buffalo Joe, it was an asset. Joe’s paranoia had been focused, honed into an almost supernatural situational awareness.

At the end was Lancelot, the rifleman. Lancelot didn’t have not had the broad awareness of Joe, what he had was laser focus. This focus gave him the ability to watch the rear, and nothing else, to trust his team to handle the path while he watched the path just traveled, peering into the darkness, seeing all, and ready for it. 

They weren’t supposed to be here. They were supposed to be back up for the squad, but the squad was gone and they were all that was left. The bitter cold sliced through their wool fatigues, their breath visible in the frigid air, fingers and toes numb with cold, but still they continued.

The plan was that the squad would hunker in at the base of Mt. Jŏngbang as the main fireteam went up the mountain to Jŏngbang Castle, a hundreds-of-years-old fortress located outside Sariwŏn. Inside the castle they were to locate Sŏngbul-sa, some Buddhist temple, and inside the temple they were to recover the Bucheonim Beullaeg, a statue of a black Buddha. None of the men in the squad knew why, least of all the remaining fireteam, but they had been told to acquire the statue at all costs, and that was what they were going to do.

They each had their own distinct reasons for following through. Some patriotism, some fear, some a longing to drink, for all it was a desire to leave this place, and the only way out was through. They would acquire the statue and they would go home.

Mamma’s fist went up and the men stopped. Ahead, barely discernible from the black, a man-made shadow casting a straight line in the darkness. They had arrived at the south entrance to Jŏngbang Castle.

The men creaked and crushed their way to the south gate of the castle. All was quiet. Batshit and Buffalo Joe both watched Mamma as they approached, Lancelot listening for cues from their feet as they stepped more into the open, his eyes staring through the dark treeline they were leaving.

The intel had said there were no enemy soldiers in the area. So far the intel was right. But still, they were out in the open, they quickly leap-frogged through the temple compound, Mamma first, then Batshit, then Joe, then Lancelot always looking back. The did it over and over again, balancing speed and awareness as they moved closer to the temple at the middle of the castle, the temple of Sŏngbul-sa.

As the four men approached the temple, they saw the silhouette of the ancient structures against the night sky. The temple was a complex of six buildings, some of which dated back six-hundred years. The men saw the tall, tiled roofs of the main hall, the pagoda, and the smaller buildings all around.

The men advanced towards one of the buildings on the north side of the temple. The building was humble, nothing more than some stones and logs. Mamma pointed at Batshit. Batshit stood back and pointed his Browning at the sliding doors at the entrance. Mamma, back against the wall, slowly slid the door open. Nothing but more blackness.

Entering the building, they encountered darkness and silence. They walked in their formation, Mamma and Batshit, followed by Joe and Lancelot, toward the back of the building, slinking along the ancient logs, with soft pads of boots followed by slowly released creaks. Mamma clicked on his moonbeam. He passed the flashlight’s beam around the area. The log building was about forty-by-forty, and mostly empty, except for an altar at the opposite end from the door.

They cautiously approached the simple wooden altar. On the altar stood a statue. A statue of a black Buddha.

Their formation dropped as the four of them stood, almost in a circle around the altar and the statue. The statue was a fat Buddha sitting in Buddha’s familiar pose, but its face was lost in folds of jagged wrinkles.

They looked at each other in the halo of the flashlight, each not wanting to be the one to touch it, to take it. Was it in deference? Was it in fear? Six of the eyes fell on Mamma. He reached out toward the statue, using every bit of strength he had to keep his hand from shaking. His hand hovered over the statue for a moment, then he grabbed it and shoved it into his rucksack, which he immediately strapped back to his back, a mechanical motion not driven by thought or order, just driven by the desire to go home, and the only way home was through.

Mamma led the way as they started to move out of the building with the same care that they entered. As they hit the door they reversed the steps, Batshit standing back in the darkness with the browning as Mamma looked out into the opening. Again, they were alone.

They creaked along the wood, down to the stone and crunched into the snow once again, trying to walk back in their preceding footprints.

At first none of the men heard anything, then just Lancelot heard it, an almost inaudibly high pitched whine coming from the trees. At first he thought it must be a radio, or some sort of signal, but before he could call its attention to Mamma, the pitch slowly lowered to a panting wheeze, something almost alive. At the lower pitch all the men could hear it, a tinny wheeze coming from the trees and temples behind them.

At Mamma’s signal they all started to double time backwards, an intricate movement of stepping in previous footprints in one direction while armed and alert in another.

Again, Lancelot saw it first, stepping from the treeline into the moonlight. He didn’t have time to say anything before the other men saw it too. A large form crawled from the woods, its long narrow clawed fingers reaching out into the show to drag its massive, folded, leathery body along behind it.

Mamma pointed as they all raised their rifles and fired. Three shots, one each with Batshit holding back. All was still, then the long, sinus arm of the creature reached forward dragging it’s bloated skin body forward again.

Mamma gave Batshit a nod and Batshit did what he does, went Batshit. He let the browning rip, repeated shots echoing through the temple, and castle, and mountains beyond. The creatures arm came up again.

“Hit it!” Mamma yelled to Joe as Joe pulled the pin on an M26 grenade and let it fly.

“Frag out!” Joe yelled as all the men, Batshit included, hit the deck, dropping as low down as they could into the snow and rocks.

The explosion was deafening, the high pitched streams of shrapnel whipping by mixed with the ear splitting scream from the creature. The men rolled over, not to see the creature blown to bits, but jumping into the air, its sinuous arms reaching out pulling its leather folds along with it. The massive, fat leather body was not a body at all, but wings, and the creature’s leap did not end, it was starting to fly.

The men watched paralyzed as they saw the stretched out silhouette of the creature sail into the moonlit sky.

Finally, Mamma spoke. “…withdraw” he said, the word quietly croaking out. He tried again. “Withdraw!” he yelled, pulling the men from their shock as they all crawled to their feet, starting their way to the trees they had come by.

They started to move faster, their boots sinking into the thick layer of snow that covered the ground. Again the radio-signal-like sound came again, imperceptibly high and bending down to a banshee shriek, a horrific scream, like that of a woman being tortured. Just as they cut into the trees, behind them there was a large swoop noise and a spray of powdered snow shot into the trees with them. They looked back but there was nothing but silence, darkness, and settling powder.

Mamma took command again. “Go, go go!”

The four men ran through the woods, their hearts pounding with fear as they heard crashing noises and the terrifying screams of the unknown creature. They could hear the sound of branches breaking and the crunching underfoot. High breaking branches far in the distance and fast swoops right over their heads as it circled, circled over head like a hungry screaming harpy. Their descent down the mountain was aided by the snow as the slipped and tumbled through, abruptly stopping when hitting trees to just mindlessly get up and attempt to run again, again tumbling into the sloping snow.

Just as they thought they couldn’t run any longer, a bright spotlight shone on them through the cold night air. The men stumbled and fell, their hands shielding their eyes from the bright light. But as they looked up, they could see that the spotlight was coming from another squad of soldiers. A squad of U.S. soldiers. The screams were gone. They were safe.

Curse of the Black Buddha
Interview with Colin Upton

Interview with Colin Upton

Colin Upton is a cartoonist known for his unique style and offbeat sense of humor. Born in Vancouver, BC in 1959, Upton began his career in the 1980s, creating a series of self-published comics that quickly gained a following. His work often explores unconventional themes and features a cast of eccentric characters, from punk rockers to aliens and talking animals. In addition to comics, Upton has also worked as an illustrator, animator, and graphic designer. He continues to create new work and has inspired a new generation of cartoonists with his distinctive voice and unique approach.

What was the first thing you remember reading?

I came relativily late to reading as I have multiple learning disabilities. Perhaps this is what attracted me to comics where words and pictures are mutually supportive. My father was an historian so we had many illustrated historical coffee table books in the home that I used to study, which began my affection for illustration. The first book I remember sitting down and reading on my own was a short children’s book on Western Front Campaigns of World War 2. I do remember quite well my parents arguing whether or not to buy a copy of “Asterix The Gaul” at the UBC bookstore when I was about 10 years old as they knew I and my siblings would fight over it. We did but I’m glad they did buy it.

What got you into cartooning and what was your first publication?

Initially it was Franco-Belgian comics, first Asterix, then Tintin, later Hugo Pratt and anything I could find that was available in English, which at the time was not a lot. I collected Classics Illustrated adaptations of great books and plays. My dad, who was a doddler, had the Penguin History of Comics which was the first book I saw about comics. As I got older I came across Underground Comics, Crumb, Spain, Holmes, etc which were unsettling in their depiction of drugs, sex and a counter-culture I was too young to be a part of, with complete artistic freedom. Then there was Heavy Metal magazine’s production values and high artistic standards that seemed so sophisticated. Of course the autobiographical comics of Harvey Pekar was a major influence. Lowbrow Art and the Punk Rock zine scene inspired Self-published Small Press Mini-comics that are so much of my artistic life. Later on I gobbled up whatever world comics I could find in English from Europe and elsewhere. Manga is a vast field that I am still exploring.

My first publications were a gang printing of two 12 page mini-comics printed on a friends Gestetnar. “The Collected Socialist Turtle” (a comic strip parody of the Marxist-Leninists of Canada’s dogmatic rhetoric) and “The Granville Street Gallery” which was a collection of portraits of people drawn surreptitiously from life on downtown Vancouver’s main entertainment/shopping district. When I started I really struggled to find something worth doing comics about.

Interview with Colin Upton

Do you prefer to publish with bigger publisher’s as opposed to smaller or underground publishers?

I’ve only had one job with a major publisher, illustrating a page for The Big Book of Urban Legends for DC. No editorial hassles. The nice thing about it was it paid $200.00 just for the art, which is the best page rate I ever saw. I think that DC pays less now. I got $400.00 for an ENTIRE comic book, story and art, from Fantagraphics. Still, it was less about the money but at the time it was about the cause! Seriously, we had a sense of mission to get the culture to take comics seriously.

What artist/writer inspires you the most?

To begin with, Herge. Later Harvey Pekar. Recently H.P. Lovecraft.

What piece of art or story are you proudest of?

I suppose it would be “Kicking At The Darkness” which I wrote and drew for the Vancouver Holocaust Museum about the Canadian Army in World War Two fighting across Europe and discovering the Holocaust on the way. They made only one minor change to the script I gave them. I avoided making it a tedious rendition of facts by including dramatic vignettes based on the research and reading I had done… yes, I am now a dedicated bookworm.

Interview with Colin Upton

Do you think your environment, where you live, has an effect on the type of art you create?

I think so. Vancouver has it’s rough spots, the Lower East Side is essentially an open air drug market not a mile from where I live and the housing market is insane but on the whole the city is beautiful, the people pleasant, temperatures mostly mild (for Canada), it’s multi-cultural, artistic, with infrastructure and public services that mostly work well. Vancouver features regularly on lists of the worlds most livable cities. The city itself is something of a character itself in my comics as many of them are autobiographical. I am unusual amongst local artists with my focus on city life as the spectacular natural scenery around the city is such an inspiration for many. I call it “The tyranny of the landscape”.

Is it easier for you to create if given an assignment or does it get in the way of your creativity?

When I’m asked to do a project not of my making I consider it an interesting challenge, a chance to expand my boundaries. If I’m asked to do a story suitable for children I have no problem adapting. It’s when the parameters of a project are vague, unspoken and the rules change that I resent editorial interference.

Interview with Colin Upton

Where do you think the world of literature/popular culture will be like in ten years?

Ashes, mostly… with digital books it will be easier to censor or purge authors whose works don’t live up to the ever-changing “current year” standards of political correctness. That’s why I buy paper books and Blu-rays of intact films, while you still can. As far as comics go Manga has pretty much supplanted American comics as a popular medium and no one in the mainstream comics companies has so far successfully produced an American imitation of Manga. Although Raina Telgemeier gets it. I do have high hopes for the graphic novel (basically the coming together of the Underground, Groundlevel, Indie and World comics streams) but as niche publishing. The way things are going graphic novels may make up a large rather niche in a shrinking book publishing world. The amount of great work currently available in graphic novel format is astounding! I fear that popular culture will become as polarized as everything else with progressive trans-Hobbits for the left and Saurons not so bad as he’s for law & order, for the right. Culture wars make for bad, dogmatic and boring art lacking nuance and I hope it ends soon.

What was the oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to do in your writing career? A specific assignment/books for a publisher?

Well, doing porn comics (Incubus 1 & 2) was something I’d never thought I would do, but for a time you could make decent money that way. I also pencilled, on a ridiculously tight deadline, a bio comic about a Metis leader of the Iroquois, John Norton, during the War of 1812. I passed it on to an inker on another insane deadline. When the comic came out they’d replaced all the art we’d done with someone else’s artwork that I suppose was edgier and less cartoony. Still got paid.

What projects are you working on now?

I haven’t been doing much in the last couple of years. First I went through a long, stressful process of getting on disability and when I’d gotten on disability Covid happened. So lately I’ve been feeling uninspired, rejected and forgotten. My mini-comics, particularly the auto bio stuff, were feeling stale. Small press has become harder to do as the local print shops with their inexpensive self serve copiers are all closing down. I did flesh out and drew a 6 page story by autobiograpical comics writer Dennis Eichhorn from a synopsis he’d left for a posthumous collection that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere currently. What I have been doing is a long story in a series I’m calling “The Gwen Ghoul Variations” of which two digests are out about Ghoul’s named Gwen. The one I’m working on now “The Murder Artist”, is a near future mash up of Clockwork Orange, 1984 and HP Lovecraft’s Ghouls with perhaps a little Kafka in an all-female “utopia”. It’s about art, sex and death. It is totally unacceptable by todays standards which encourages me to push further. I’m in that “don’t give a fuck “stage of life. If nothing else, it’s a change from the autobiographical comics I’m known for.

Interview with Colin Upton
Anne Marquis

Pinup: Anne Marquis

Where are you from? What is your background?

I was born in Cleveland, OH on August 29, 1967. My family moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota when I was six. I went to college in central Minnesota, spent three academic terms in France and landed back in the Twin Cities area after college. I was supposed to have gone to law school, but just couldn’t face three more years of school. I spent the next fifteen years in corporate America. I left my job in 2004 to raise my family full-time. In 2016, I opened my personal training business and started modeling.

What inspired you to become a model?

When I was 47, I entered a bodybuilding competition. It’s very common to do a photo shoot in conjunction with a competition as a ‘souvenir’ of all the hard work done to get on stage. I hated the competition part of bodybuilding, but loved the photo shoot. I had originally intended to be a competitive bodybuilder as a hobby, but switched gears and pursued freelance modeling projects instead. Three years later, I submitted my portfolio to commercial modeling agencies. I was offered representation by all four of the agencies to which I applied.

What are the pluses and minuses of modeling?

Modeling is the easiest job on a set. All of my hard work is done in the gym and the kitchen, so when I arrive on set, it’s playtime. No one ever asks a model to make decisions or provide input. I’m simply a prop that moves. The production crew has to arrive early in the morning to stage a shoot, I get to show up hours later, sit in a chair and have my hair, makeup and wardrobe done for me. I do my part in front of the camera, and get to go home. The rest of the crew then has to do post-production for hours afterward. The only downside to commercial modeling is the inconsistency of the work. I never know when my next gig is going to happen, so I cannot count on the money for my day-to-day expenses. But when those paychecks do arrive, it’s bonus money for me and my family.

Anne Marquis

What performer or artist/writer inspires you the most?

My favorite model of all time is Jill Goodacre, the Victoria’s Secret model from the 1980s. She has that girl-next-door quality with a heavy dose of sex appeal. I’ve emulated her for decades. But my all-time favorite artist is Neil Peart, the drummer from the Canadian rock group Rush. He was the artist’s artist: musician, poet, philosopher and comic. His struggles with life in the limelight are well documented He was a very humble man with a massive talent. In his own words, he was embarrassed by the attention he received just for doing what he loved to do. That mixture of talent, humility and humanity made him legendary, and my number one inspiration.

What other areas of art are you involved in?

In addition to being a model, I am a certified personal trainer, makeup artist and writer. But my most important role is as a mother. I consider myself more of an entrepreneur than an artist. But every area of my life requires me to be creative, artistic, disciplined and improvisational.

Do you think your environment, where you live, has an effect on type of art you create?

I am a Minnesota Girl. We enjoy a constantly changing Theater of Seasons. I love to shoot outdoors, so concepts and wardrobe for a shoot are determined by the weather. Sometimes I’ll shoot in a bikini in a canoe on a lake, another time I’ll be in winter gear dancing on the ice. Outdoor shoots in the fall are my favorite, the colorful trees and an October blue sky make the best backdrop.

Anne Marquis

What long term goals do you have?

I intend to continue modeling and personal training until I can’t anymore. I have no plans to retire. I love what I do too much to walk away from it. I will be an empty nester in a few years. At that time, I’ll give myself permission to dream new dreams and pursue new goals. But for now, I’m content.

What do you think the popular culture will be like in ten years?

I’m 55 years old, so I’ve seen many pop culture cycles. Ten years from now, we will be nostalgic for the ‘90s. I was given some great advice once: if you wore the style the first time, you don’t have to wear it the second time it comes around. With age comes a certain freedom from pop culture.

Anne Marquis

What’s the strangest thing you’ve been asked to do in your profession?

I’ve been asked to do some very inappropriate things as a model. It unfortunately comes with the territory. Not every photographer is a pornographer, but some of them really push limits on the set. The strangest request I ever got was from a Facebook group that wanted before-and-after pictures of my bunionectomy. I passed on that “opportunity.”

What projects are you working on now?

My number one project right now is raising my children. Professionally, my training business is back up to pre-pandemic levels, modeling gigs are rolling in on a regular basis, and I’ve got a growing social media presence, all of which keep me hopping. And, I’m single, so I’m still searching for my Permanent Plus One.

Anne Marquis
Coco Bond

Pinup: Coco Bond

Where are you from? What is your background?

I am born and raised in Montreal North, Canada. By blood, I am Canadian and Haitian. When I was 14 years old, I got unofficially adopted by a Salvadorian family. I needed a place to stay and they took me in no questions asked and never asked for a single dollar to my birth parents. I feel grateful and blessed to have been raised with and by Latin people from different backgrounds (Dominicans, Salvadorians and Peruvians) that always took care of as if I was from their own blood. Eventually, I had the chance to live with my Haitian godmother and my cousins. I was always close to them but living with Haitian family helped me connect with my roots and understand myself better. I was also lucky enough to live in the Bahamas and in Dominican Republic for a bit. As I often say, I am proud to be Canadian, but my heart is forever dancing somewhere in the Caribbeans !

Coco Bond

What inspired you to become get into burlesque?

When I was in high school, my history teacher asked us to do a short video impersonating an historical character that spoke to us chosen from a list he provided. Although I would not have mind impersonating a Caucasian character, I kindly asked my teacher if he had any colored person in mind that I could better identify myself to. He suggested Josephine Baker. It was the first time I heard of burlesque and I knew from that moment that I would have to be part of the universe somehow, someday. With time, I got shy and confused. I forgot along the way that stripping clothes did not mean stripping intelligence. Then, my best friend, Kyky de la Vega, started doing burlesque. She is one the human I look up to the most, she is brilliant and fierce. She was the kick in the butt I needed to dare glowing in the art. Ever since, I fall in love with the community and the art of burlesque over and over again. 

What about modeling? What inspired you to do Pinup?

It just came with burlesque. I never thought I would model or strike a pose in front of a professional photographer. But, since I must promote myself as an artist, I started taking pictures. Although, I do not consider myself as a Pinup, I can say that burlesque photography are good therapy and amazing self-love sessions.

Coco Bond

What’s the best thing about being a modeling burlesque, and what’s the worst?

The best thing to me is the awareness and relationship I am building with my body and how I inhabited it in the present moment. If that makes sense ha ha! Weather sessions are planned or shots taken during a performance, it nourishes the need to live the present moment to the fullest. I love that. The worst thing is the fear of being judged by other that inevitably pops in my mind every now and then. 

What performer or artist/writer inspires you the most?

That is a though one. I cannot pick one only. Of course, the women that thought me burlesque were all exceptional inspiring and  beings: Sugar Vixen, Roxy Torpedo and the iconic Frenchy Jones. They really put me together. There is also Loulou la Duchesse de Rière she is fierce, talented, political and I am amazed by the way her mind works. She is impressive not only on stage, but also as a human. I am a huge fan of Foxy Lexxi Brown she takes my breath away. I have seen her live, but I probably watched her videos as much as I saw Hitch (which means A LOT !). Malinka Molotov gives me the chills every time I see her perform. She does not only perform, she makes a statement and educates. Honey Dynamite’s creavity never stop astonishing me, I mean, lighting matches with yours nipples! I look up a lot to HoneyTree EvilEye, although I never saw her live, I think she is brilliant and I am so grateful human like her exists. And of course, my best friend Kyky De La Vega, because I know her deeply and to do all she does and still manage to perform the way she does makes me emotional. 

Coco Bond

What other areas of art are you involved in?

I am a poet. Never published, but writing is like breathing to me. I also like to paint. 

Do you think your environment, where you live, has an effect on type of art you create?

Definitely, for example, I can’t function in a messy environment. If the room is organized so will my mind be. I also create better in a warm environment. I need sun, heat. 

What long term goals do you have?

I would like to perform burlesque as long as physically can. Eventually, maybe host retreats by a beach for artist to recharge their batteries and brainstorm…

What do you think the popular culture will be like in ten years?

I hope that it will be more relaxed, even more open minded, that work will become secondary. I hope that it will bloom away from screens so that we can get back in the now and enjoy real life. I also hope that food, art and culture will be at the center of people’s expanses and concern instead of material stuff. 

Coco Bond

What’s the strangest thing you’ve been asked to do in your profession?

Fortunately, I only had positive and safe experiences with burlesque. But out of context some of the things we are asked when showing a choreography for feedback can be quite funny. Like : could you fucked the floor harder ? Or to give all the ass in the world haha!

What projects are you working on now?

I am finishing a postgraduate degree in Food Studies, my thesis is taking a lot of my time. Since the food matter is very important to me, I am working on an act to raise awareness on monocropping. Merge the two.

Coco Bond

BAT DICK!!!Or: Two Guys Running from a Bat Monster

“Male… how do you know it was male?” Kent asked.

James had had enough. “Fuck man, you’re asking me about bat dick. I don’t fucking know!” James’s face was turning beat read as he went on without a breath, “I dont fucking know what a bat dick looks like, Kent. Some weird flap thing?! I don’t know! But, I do know what a bat vagina doesn’t look like, and what it doesn’t look like is a goddamn bat dick! The fucking monster is a boy and it wants to fucking eat you you fucking child!”

“Well, Sorry man. You’re the one who brought up that it was a boy.”

“So we could fucking hunt it more effectively you dumb mother fucker!”

“Jesus, calm down.”

Bat Dick