I am proud to announce that “Undiscovered” went live on The Grim Collection today. It features fantastic art by Ryan Howe. This is the first time I’ve worked with a Canadian artist, which might be hard to believe since I’m in Canada, too.
Posted by caperaway on August 6, 2015
Posted by caperaway on June 10, 2015
With the publication of The Dig on The Grim Collection, I find myself thinking about storytellers. The Dig was inspired by a storyteller in my own family, my great-uncle Leonard. I can’t say I spent a lot of time with Leonard, but my most vivid memories of him involve the stories he told. I remember him sitting in an aged yet comfortable looking chair in a living room filled with the kind of pictures and knick-knacks one accumulates during a life filled with family. Great-aunt Minnie busy elsewhere in the house. Leonard’s thick head of hair. My dad sitting off to the side and me uncomfortable around unfamiliar people. I don’t remember ever commenting on the tales woven or asking questions, but I certainly remember retelling those stories on the walk to school or on the playground, doing my best to remember the details for my equally young pals.
My favourite story and the one I remember most clearly involved a dream where Leonard saw the location of some buried treasure and upon waking knew where to go. And go he did. Shovel in hand. He dug and struck something deep in the sand but a ghostly hand emerged. He dropped shovel and ran. Some time later he returned but could no longer remember the spot.
That story stuck with me for more than 30 years and eventually became The Dig.
My dad added a lot of background lore to Leonard’s ability to vividly dream. Leonard’s father was the seventh son of the seventh son. That man could put a light-bulb in his mouth and his finger in an outlet and the bulb would light up. He disappeared for years only to return near the end of his life. I never questioned the truth of these tales. One doesn’t do that to stories such as this. I think I knew that even as a young lad. It’s a harder thing to do as an adult– not questioning the tales of storytellers. As an adult, we look for answers to help us understand the why of things, but with a story it is not the why that is important. The best storytellers know this.
There was another story Leonard told where, as a young man, he saw the devil perched on a neighbour’s house. The devil dropped into the shadows and disappeared when it noticed Leonard looking. I’ve got a comic script knocking around in my head based on that one.
Another storyteller from my youth was a neighbourhood friend of my father’s. Joe was his name and, to me, he seemed old even when I was in elementary school. I interviewed him once as part of a school project. We had to talk to an adult about what their childhood was like. I used this black tape recorder my sister had. It was the same tape recorder she and I used to record silly little programs we made up before I was even in school. I also used the tape recorder to record letters to a friend of mine that moved to another city. He did the same in return. I don’t remember the details of Joe’s answers, but I remember he came to the house and we did the recording in the basement. I also remember the quality of the recording was terrible. You could barely hear him on the playback even with the volume at its highest.
Later in life after we left and returned to Sydney, my dad took me to visit Joe. He was still in the same neighbourhood. Same darkly painted house with its immaculately cared for lawn and shrubbery. We sat out in the backyard. Dad and he talked and I listened. Dad was working for Brinks by this time and I remember Joe leaning intently forward and asking with quiet interest: “What does a million dollars look like?”
My dad and his brothers would tell stories of their youth, not naughty tales but definitely wild tales about kids fending for themselves and finding things to do as they wandered the city, of their own father and his brother– the aforementioned Leonard– running booze in the countryside and dealing cards at back-room poker games because none of the players trusted each other.
And, Murray, now also gone. The trucker. One summer when we were back on the East Coast visiting I found myself alone in the living room with Murray, and we got to talking about trucking, about what is trucked across country and across borders; about how cargo is tracked; about how truckers are sometimes robbed or even hijacked. It’s all locked away in my brain.
Stories to create other stories.
Posted by caperaway on June 7, 2015
A new comic written by me has been published on The Grim Collection. The Dig is drawn and lettered by Wilson Dela Fuente.
The plan was to have a new short fiction on The Grim Collection on June 1 but I failed to do so. I’ve been unhappy with what I’ve been writing and, to be honest, much of my writing time in May was focused on my return to writing a daily journal and preparing for an epic D&D session I was running at the end of the month. I don’t regret my decision. Both the campaign preparation and the journal writing is a type of writing even if one has a small audience and the other is private. I enjoyed doing both and these were in keeping with the key goals of my return to writing– regular output and writing as an enjoyable act.
Ryan Howe is currently working on another comic for The Grim Collection. He started at the very end of May. I will definitely need to have a short fiction ready for July 1 because there won’t be a finished comic for me to fall back on.
Posted by caperaway on April 30, 2015
I am happy to report that The Grim Collection has returned as of a moment ago. This was a Web site I started a couple years ago to be a showcase for horror / thriller comics written by me and drawn by others. It fell silent when I took a hiatus from writing and producing my own comics, but I am back now and happy to be so.
First up is a 12-page comic drawn by Robert Carey and lettered by E.T. Dollman. It is called On the Other Side of the Bridge and I hope you enjoy it.
Posted by caperaway on November 19, 2014
My experience with war through my childhood and into my early teens was strictly through movies. I watched films like Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), Midway (1976), Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), Battle of the Bulge (1965) and many others with my father and marveled at the ships, tanks, planes, battles, and heroics of the film soldiers. I never felt the emotional impact of war because these films of that era, at least to a young viewer, played out like action movies, with lots of gunfire, explosions, military hardware and a large cast of soldiers who died– usually with a few parting words– as battles raged.
As a result, my wartime playtime with my friends was very similar. We’d storm the imagined beaches or rush a bunker of enemies represented by the neighbor’s front porch. There was a small recess in that same yard and we’d hunker down in it. That was our trench and we’d psych ourselves up to climb out and charge across the battlefield, shouting, firing our plastic guns (without red tips), and when it was clear we were outnumbered and losing too many men, we’d turn tail and haul arse back to the trench.
I was the leader of these games, guiding the action with my words and movements. I played a large cast of characters and when one of these characters would get shot or get hit with artillery, my friend Chris would kneel down beside my prone form with concern in his eyes. “Who was that?” he’d ask. I’d name the character who had been hit and then deliver the soldier’s dying words with gasps and a slow close of my eyes. Then we’d be on our feet again, continuing the assault.
Another one my of specialties was launching myself through the air to simulate death by grenade.
The feeling of exhilaration when watching a war movie was replaced with one of dread and unease for the first time when I saw Platoon (1986). I saw it on home video so I was probably a pre-teen at this time. Others movies that came on the heels of that were Hamburger Hill (1987) and Full Metal Jacket (1987). These were a new type of war movie for me– ones that did not treat war as a heroic adventure.
Then in 1991, the Persian Gulf War invaded the television in our home and my perception of war changed. The coverage of that war on CNN arguably started me on a 23-year (and counting) journey to understand war. Not only why war occurs and the details of conflict but also its cost– the staggering casualty numbers, the physical and psychological cost paid by the individual soldier, and the price paid by society.
Days before Remembrance Day, I hung on the wall four posters of modern films that did an exceptional job of portraying the cost of war: Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers. In my journey, non-fiction books have provided me the most insight (With the Old Breed, Helmet for My Pillow, Generation Kill, Black Hawk Down, On Killing, among others), but one cannot deny the lessons delivered to millions of people who viewed these major studio releases.
Those posters have been replaced by six more posters with war as its subject and setting.
On the south wall are two films featuring two actors not known for roles in serious pieces of work. Casualties of War (1989) stars Michael J. Fox in a harrowing depiction of an event that actually occurred during the Vietnam War in 1966. Also on the wall is Glory (1989), starring Matthew Broderick. This, in my opinion, is the best movie to deal with the American Civil War from a societal and soldier’s perspective. It’s also the movie that turned Denzel Washington into a star. The third poster on the south wall is Rescue Dawn (2006), a lauded but not widely seen movie starring Christian Bale as a real-life fighter pilot shot down over Laos and imprisoned.
On the west wall are three more posters, but there is only one to which I want to draw special attention. George Clooney had received positive reviews for his role in Out of Sight, but it was Three Kings released the following year that drew him even more acclaim. This fictional account of American soldiers in the Persian Gulf War was laced with enough politics and boots-on-the-ground authenticity that it strikes a reality chord despite the shenanigans occurring on the screen.
The first lines of the film set the tone:
Troy: Are we shooting?
Troy: Are we shootin’ people or what?
Soldier: Are we shooting?
Troy: That’s what I’m asking you!
Soldier: What’s the answer?
Troy: I don’t know the answer! That’s what I’m trying to find out!
Watch Three Kings then read the non-fiction book Generation Kill (or watch the equally excellent Generation Kill miniseries from HBO) and you’ll see that some of the laughable horror depicted in Three Kings isn’t too far removed from the reality of modern conflict.
This does not mean by any stretch of the imagination that I find war laughable, deplorable or even unnecessary. It has taken me almost a quarter century to understand war and I am certain my journey is not yet finished.