Horror Visuals and Their Place in Fiction

Artwork, horror stories, the reading experience — these are all aspects of creativity that I think about a lot, and generally adore. So it’s a great pleasure to have Harry Markov stop by on his blog tour to talk about these very things! Along with Lawrence Santoro and Tony C. Smith, Harry has edited the first ever volume of Tales to Terrify, which features an awesome table of contents:

Jumbo Portions by Christopher Fowler
Wet Dog Perfume by Michael Penkas
Seen Through Flame by Gary McMahon
Just Around the Corner by Alexei Collier
In A Country Churchyard by Bev Vincent
God of the Razor by Joe R. Lansdale
Bread and Circuses by Felicity Dowker
Chair by Martin Mundt
Grandmother’s Road Trip by Cat Rambo
In The Dust by Tim Lebbon
The Last Few Days in a Life of Frost by Joe Pulver
Green Apples, Red Nails by John Everson
Just a Suggestion by John Shirley
Working for the God of the Love of Money by Kaaron Warren
Rat Time in the Hall of Pain by Lawrence Santoro
The Short Go: A Future in Eight Seconds by Lisa L. Hannett
The Goosle by Margo Lanagan
Lost and Found by Mark Morris
An Eye for an Eye by Nancy Kilpatrick
All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Piggy Class by Nicole Cushing
Big Rock Candy Mountain by Weston Ochse
Bluebeard by Angela Slatter
The Tree is My Hat by Gene Wolfe

Now, those of you who have loved the Tales to Terrify podcast can get your hands on print copies of the stories! Huzzah! And in the meantime, welcome, Harry!

One of the aspects that I have not been able to discuss about Tales to Terrify, Vol. 1 has to be the art. I know that the emphasis has to fall on the fiction, but while the mind works on the digestion of the story, the brain picks up some other cues to enhance the experience. This is where the visuals come to play and I don’t just mean the cover as a means to associate the stories with a grander whole, but everything.

The shrift, the layout and internal illustration play a significant role as to how fiction will be perceived. In that regard, I wish to thank Scott Dinsdale, our very talented designer, who came up with the idea for how the book will look on the inside. Tales to Terrify has always been about remembering the past and in our case that’s honoring the spooky, vintage horror appeal form the 50s and 60s. I, for one, am a huge fan of the B movie aesthetic and Scott did his best to convey that in every page.

In terms of art, Tales to Terrify, Vol. 1 has it all. You will be greeted by slick skull designs opening for every story, intricate illustrations sprinkled through the whole body. Then you clash styles with thick-lined hot-rod flames, skulls and black cats that ought to belong on the bicep of an angry-looking and an amount of rotten zombie faces you’d see in cheesy comic books. These little bits and pieces bring the material inside together, which is a big help considering that the anthology itself abounds with themes and images that don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

My all time favorite art though comes from the wondrously wicked ads, which are pure genius. These designs evoke the heyday of the printed ads that ran on yellowed paper with grainy images and large bold letters that promise one wonder (horror in this case, really) after another. The experience of seeing ads for voodoo doll patterns, killer robots and zombie business schools can be best likened to a visit in an alternative world, home to someone crazy-zany like Beetlejuice.

Visuals have always maintained a strong presence in my life. It’s why I still read comics and think more books can use internal illustration. Do you enjoy illustrations while you read? What is the degree of visual invasion that you will tolerate in your fiction?

Harry Markov has difficulties writing biographies in third person, but he follows this venerable, ancient tradition. What he has no difficulty is devouring written words, only to sit down and create some himself. He is a former child-author wannabe, who has settled for patience in order to gain at least a moderate understanding of the secret lives of novels and short stories.

A devoted (junior) connoisseur of the weird and the surreal, Harry won’t judge a book just case it has a muddled genre genealogy. On the contrary, the Markov prefers a rich blend of genres. Fantasy, weird, horror, science fiction, fiction or fairy tales, everything works.

When not writing fiction, Harry Markov reviews and writes articles for Pornokitsch,The PortalBeyond VictorianaInnsmouth Free Press and World SF Blog among others.


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