Daniel I. Russell is the author of Entertaining Demons, Samhane, Retard, Come Into Darkness, Critique, The Collector Book 1: Mana Leak, Mother's Boys and the huge collection Tricks, Mischief and Mayhem. Daniel is a HWA active member and represented by the Tobias Literary Agency, NYC. Daniel has also been the vice-president of the Australian Horror Writers' Association, special guest editor of Midnight Echo, associate and technical editor for Necrotic Tissue, and Shadow Awards judge.
Review: Hollow House by Greg Chapman
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Saturday, September 01, 2012Author spotlight: Greg Chapman
My first introduction to Greg Chapman came through my work editing Midnight Echo #7. Greg, along with Mark Farrugia, had already started the Allure of the Ancients graphic novel in the previous issue, and I was to host the next part in #7. I had never worked with a graphic artist before, and through the experience of working with Greg, not only did I learn a few things in an area of writing that was unfamiliar to me, but also got to know Greg better.
As time went on, I had the pleasure of sampling some of Greg’s short stories and I got a feel for this fellow’s tastes and style. Greg Chapman is a writer who I envision smiling as he types his words and draws his illustrations. I get a vibe of enjoyment with his work, that his aims are to have fun and tell a damn good story.
I’ll be looking at two facets of Greg’s work, his new novella Vaudeville from Dark Prints Press, and his graphic work in Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times, written by Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton and released by McFarland Publishing.
Vaudeville is a digital novella and tells the story of a young boy, suffering through life following the suicide of his father. Visiting the tree from which his father had hung from, he is found by a travelling group of performers straight from the bygone days of Vaudeville. Giving the boy free tickets, the ghastly group request he brings them children in exchange for the soul of his father…
I have a personal preference for clowns, entertainers and the whole ‘putting on a show’ scene in horror, and this book could have easily been about circus performers. But the Vaudeville angle gives the book more character and a unique retro feel. Each of the performers have their own grisly and violence to share and are more fleshed out then most antagonists in other stories of this length. There are no generic, faceless monsters here, and morality aside, they each have their own motivations and history.
The writing is pacey but balances prose well. I particularly like the accessibility regarding the age group of readers. Free of sex and other nasties, the story would certainly be suitable for a younger audience, perhaps as early as middle school, depending on allowances for violence! Yes, heads are shot and limbs are cut off, but it is done gracefully, and could not be considered as splatter. I’ve certainly read more graphic stories for children. I hope this story is indeed sampled by a wider audience.
Do I have any gripes with it? Not overly. The piece certainly had the legs to go longer, and I would have liked to have spent more time with the characters, in particular our macabre Vaudeville performers. I feel they had more to tell and grander schemes to escape their fate. Sequel perhaps, Mr. Chapman?
Witch Hunts is a completely different kettle of fish. A historically accurate account of the witch finding, interrogating and execution that swept the world, but in particular Europe and colonial Massachusetts.
Should you hold a copy of this (and anyone who has even the most trivial of interests in this subject should certainly grab one) the first thing you will admire is the art of Greg Chapman. It is astounding the detail and sheer number of hours this undertaking must have demanded. It really does bring the facts to life, and props to McFarland for going in the graphic direction with this. It certainly makes the read more appealing (personal note: if I read nonfiction, it tends to be biographical or scientific, certainly not historical).
And while the fantastic artwork deservedly takes centre stage, you have to admire the work done by Wood and Morton. While light on the word front, the book shines with research and careful arrangement, creating a fly on the wall effect to these facts and dates.
Again, for anyone with any interest in the Witch Trials, this is a must buy. The book should also intrigue readers of graphic novels that fancy something a bit more unique than the standard fare.
Greg Chapman is a horror author and artist from Central Queensland, Australia. His first two novellas Torment and The Noctuary were published by Damnation Books in the United States in 2011. His third novella Vaudeville, was just published by Dark Prints Press. His short fiction has appeared in The Absent Willow Review, Eclecticism, Trembles, Morpheus Tales 2011 Christmas Special and Bete Noire. His comic book illustrations have appeared in Midnight Echo, Decay and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. His first graphic novel, Witch-Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times, written by Bram Stoker Award winners Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton, was also published by McFarland Publishers in May this year. Greg’s home on the web is www.darkscrybe.blogspot.com