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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Magazine Review: WEIRD TALES Issue #362 UNDEAD ISSUE

‘And now for something completely different’: A magazine review.

If you have been living under a rock or spending most of your waking time frolicking hand in hand with your fake life on Facebook or delving into the great and unsolvable mystery of which Britney Spears songs she sings to live and which she merely lip syncs to in her Vegas show you are probably too brain dead to comprehend the importance of issue number 362 in the long storied history of WEIRD TALES 

And for that reason I review it here today.

As a word of disclosure I have guest blogged for the magazine. As another word of disclosure I am going to guest blog again with a column already in the pipeline. I have also been a huge fan and since childhood I have desired to have my name under the WEIRD TALES banner.

But those of you familiar with my work and rants know I have a tendency to bite the proverbial hand that feeds me. I lack of a brain filtration system. If I like something -- I like it; if I don’t the review is usually more entertaining since I will turn on the piece faster than a professional wrestler will turn on his tag team partner. So here we go. . . .

WEIRD TALES is ninety years old and the storied history of horror’s standard bearer amongst periodicals has been both checkered and dysfunctional at best. But with the UNDEAD issue a lot of past baggage is shook off like peeling flesh, talons that used to be fingernails and the occasional eyeball that will invariably be popped from the socket from the climb up out of the grave.

This latest incarnation of the old pro just might be its best and most lively yet; reminiscent of Jerry Lee Lewis’ album THE KILLER ROCKS ON in 1972; issue number 362 displays the power of the brand and the virtuosity only it can generate. For those uninformed voters out there let me translate: this work shows that the old dog doesn’t need to learn any new tricks and that the old guy still has what it takes to kick every ass as every track contained within is a ‘killer’.

The new WEIRD TALES mixes new and old; it mixes horror and humor infusing a little Viagra into the dark and stodgy old firm. This is no re-tread or clone of itself. In reading this issue I felt an influence from the great William Gaines’ immortal Mad magazine in the guise of a feature detailing a step by step approach in how to draw a zombie.

To you purists you may recoil. Please do. Done? Good --- too bad. The reality of life, and it is not a cliché, is that there is fine line between tragedy or horror and comedy and such an interactive feature is simply a stroke of genius.

Joyce Carol Oates is interviewed. She mystifies and fascinates me. Her intellect and talent is like the universe itself: broad, expanding and yet terrifying. To spend a few moments gauging her thoughts is worth more than the price of admission.

Old friends such as Ramsey Campbell, Brian Lumley and Ron Goulart make appearances and as usual they never disappoint. We are also introduced to the likes of Kurt Fawver, Keris McDonald, Helen Grant, Cynthia Ward and Andrew Wilson whose new takes bring both a smile and a chill.

WEIRD TALES is back from the dead. But far from UNDEAD -- IT IS ALIVE, ALIVE. Marvin Kaye and his staff are completely in command and they truly do ‘know what we like.’

Just don’t buy this issue --- buy a subscription.

 

 

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